Drumbeat: October 31, 2012

Analysis - Does U.S. shale mean cheap global oil by 2020?

(Reuters) - Does the rise of U.S. shale oil mean fuel buyers can look forward to a multi-year period of crude price decline? Or is oil destined for new record highs above $150 a barrel?

The question is dividing energy analysts who are split on whether or not shale and other predominantly North American "unconventional" supply like Canadian oil sands will be enough to comfortably meet an increase in global fuel demand led by emerging markets to 2020.

That is a shift from the anguished debate back in 2008, the $147-a-barrel high water-mark for oil prices, about whether "peak oil" - the limit of global oil output - had arrived.

"Peak oilers have become almost extinct, destroyed by the arrival of new technologies with the U.S. leading the oil supply change," said David Hufton of oil brokerage PVM.

Toward an oil-less world

First, and briefly, on "Peak Oil". As we have said earlier, we do not subscribe to the thesis that Peak Oil is already upon us, or will be any time soon. Our reasoning goes something like this.

There will be significant additions to oil and gas reserves in Iran and especially in Iraq, as these countries adopt better institutional structures and as more normalized international relations encourage the inflow of foreign direct investment in their oil and gas industries and the introduction of the latest oil exploration and production technologies.

Sustained higher prices, above US$75 per barrel, will further motivate technological progress and exploration in heretofore unexplored and promising areas - very deep sea and the Arctic region. In other words, we believe that much more conventional oil will be found.

Move over, Saudi Arabia

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – definitely not a cheerleader for the oil and gas industry in the current administration – recently forecast that the U.S. could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading producer of oil. Wow! According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, our domestic production of oil and liquid hydrocarbons now totals 10.9 million barrels a day. That is less than 1 million barrels behind the Saudis and almost a million barrels more than energy giant Russia is producing. The change agent driving the growing increase of oil production in the U.S. is the drilling and production of oil shale plays around the country. The good news is we have a huge upside for using shale oil to move the U.S. toward energy independence.

Oil Trims Biggest Monthly Decline Since May After Storm

Oil rebounded, trimming the biggest monthly decline since May, as refineries started resuming operations after the Atlantic superstorm Sandy moved away from the U.S. East Coast.

Gasoline Supply Seen Down to 1990 Low on Sandy

Gasoline stockpiles on the U.S. East Coast may sink to the lowest level since at least 1990 as Hurricane Sandy moves ashore, curtailing fuel production and distribution, based on Energy Department data.

Refineries accounting for 94 percent of regional processing capacity shut or reduced rates before Sandy, the largest tropical storm on record in the Atlantic, approached the East Coast yesterday. Colonial Pipeline Co., which operates the largest link between Gulf Coast refiners and East Coast distributors, planned to shut its main line delivering fuel to Philadelphia and New York Harbor late yesterday as customers shuttered operations.

Gas Golden Age Darkens in Europe on U.S. Coal

Europe is missing out on the natural gas boom that is transforming energy use in the U.S. and Asia, instead burning cheaper, dirtier coal imported from America.

Global gas consumption may rise 19 percent by 2017 from 2010 levels as demand surges in Asia and the U.S. while Europe’s usage drops 1.6 percent, according to the International Energy Agency. Increasing coal-fired generation in Europe has cut gas demand by 3 billion cubic feet a day, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., about 7 percent of consumption. The IEA last year predicted a golden age for the fuel with new exports from America to Australia.

Turkey's Iranian crude imports halved in September - data

DUBAI (Reuters) - Turkey's crude oil imports from Iran halved to 110,308 barrels per day (bpd) in September from August while imports from alternative suppliers were on the rise, official trade data showed on Wednesday.

Iraq was Turkey's biggest crude supplier in September with imports reaching 115,447 bpd. Saudi Arabia, Russia, Azerbaijan and Libya were among the others.

Nuclear Plants Get Through the Storm With Little Trouble

The nuclear reactors in Sandy’s path mostly handled the storm well — better than other parts of the region’s electric system.

But one reactor, on the New Jersey coast, declared a low-level emergency because rising water threatened to submerge pumps it uses to pull in cooling water.

Panasonic may curb solar panel, lithium battery expansion: sources

TOKYO (Reuters) - Electronics conglomerate Panasonic Corp may curtail its expanded production of solar panels and small lithium batteries used in PCs and other devices as part of new round of restructuring, two sources at the company told Reuters.

U.N. urges foreign fishing fleets to halt "ocean grabbing"

OSLO (Reuters) - "Ocean grabbing" or aggressive industrial fishing by foreign fleets is a threat to food security in developing nations where governments should do more to promote local, small-scale fisheries, a study by a U.N. expert said on Tuesday.

The report said emerging nations should tighten rules for access to their waters by an industrial fleet that is rapidly growing and includes vessels from China, Russia, the European Union, the United States and Japan.

Chimney climbers halt EDF gas plant in England

LONDON (Reuters) - EDF Energy interrupted commissioning work at the new 1,300-megawatt (MW) West Burton gas-fired power plant in England on Monday after environmental campaigners climbed chimneys in protest against use of fossil fuels.

Agricultural production 'may contribute to 29 pc of global greenhouse gas emissions'

Washington (ANI): Feeding the world releases up to 17,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, a new analysis has revealed.

According to the report by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), while the emissions "footprint" of food production needs to be reduced, a companion policy brief by CCAFS lays out how climate change will require a complete recalibration of where specific crops are grown and livestock are raised.

U.N. calls in contractors to help clear CDM backlog

LONDON (Reuters Point Carbon) - The U.N. has called in more than 40 contractors and shifted internal resources to help it unclog a bottleneck of requests from companies seeking carbon credits, officials at the body's climate secretariat said on Tuesday.

New UN "atlas" links climate change, health

GENEVA (AP) — Two U.N. agencies have mapped the intersection of health and climate in an age of global warming, showing that there are spikes in meningitis when dust storms hit and outbreaks of dengue fever when hard rains come.

For Years, Warnings That It Could Happen Here

For nearly a decade, scientists have told city and state officials that New York faces certain peril: rising sea levels, more frequent flooding and extreme weather patterns. The alarm bells grew louder after Tropical Storm Irene last year, when the city shut down its subway system and water rushed into the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan.

On Tuesday, as New Yorkers woke up to submerged neighborhoods and water-soaked electrical equipment, officials took their first tentative steps toward considering major infrastructure changes that could protect the city’s fragile shores and eight million residents from repeated disastrous damage.

Did Global Warming Contribute to Hurricane Sandy’s Devastation?

Was the bizarre storm called Sandy a product, in whole or in part, of human-induced climate change?

Climate Change Makes ’Frankenstorms’ Stronger: Scientists

Climate change is raising sea levels and altering the jet stream in the U.S., making already powerful storms like Sandy stronger, scientists with a conservation group said.

Storms will grow unless greenhouse emissions are cut, the Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity said last night in a statement.

How Insurers Can Foil the Next Hurricane Sandy

In the 19th century, insurance companies helped drive municipal adoption of fire codes and sprinklers. In the 20th century, they pushed for seat belt laws. With the recent proliferation of extreme weather events — most recently Hurricane Sandy — some industry watchers say it’s time for insurers to once again lobby for big changes, this time to mitigate disasters tied to global climate change. Suggestions run from relocating entire neighborhoods away from the coast, to changing the selection of crops farmers grow, and simply moving electrical equipment a few floors up.

Link up top: Analysis - Does U.S. shale mean cheap global oil by 2020? is a very good article.

They polled 20 consultants, banks and energy analysts and asked for their price prediction in 2020. The average was $118 but they were all over the map with the lowest at $70 and the highest at $184. What this says to me as some people are finally getting the story while about half are still in the dark. But at least no one is predicting a total price collapse as many were doing just a year or so ago.

"In 2020 we expect the world to be awash with oil as a result of booming supply and sluggish demand," said Julian Jessop of Capital Economics, also a bear on oil prices in the short-term.

Among seven analysts predicting sub-$100 a barrel, Capital is the most bearish at just $70, which would be substantially lower in 2012 prices allowing for inflation by 2020.

The top bull is Barclays Capital, $24 clear of its nearest rival with a $184 forecast for Brent. Barcap heads a group of six that put Brent at $140 a barrel or higher.

Ron P.

This article starts out with a choice quote:

"Peak oilers have become almost extinct, destroyed by the arrival of new technologies with the U.S. leading the oil supply change," said David Hufton of oil brokerage PVM.

But the rest of the article is more balanced.

Yes, Mr. Hufton is sorely mistaken. Peak oilers, at least most of them, know that the U.S. is not the world and a slight increase in U.S. production means virtually nothing to the rest of the world. And the world oil supply has not changed all that much. OPEC is predicting no increase next year and they expect any increase in world supply to come from non-OPEC.

I really don't think non-OPEC will be up very much next year, if any at all. The U.S. will be up slightly and other than that only Kazakhstan has any real increase coming on next year and that big increase many expect from Brazil will not materialize. Others, perhaps Canada, will have some slight increase but the declines in others will offset any increases, or that is my opinion anyway.

Ron P.

There's also this quote:

Victor Shum at IHS Purvin and Gertz says that while prices need to be high enough to bring on new production, shale oil "changes the supply side of the equation".

"In 2020 we expect the world to be awash with oil as a result of booming supply and sluggish demand," said Julian Jessop of Capital Economics, also a bear on oil prices in the short-term.

What he's not saying is that the supply side of the equation is dependent on high prices, which in turn will be the cause of the sluggish demand.

Also no mention of the Export Land Model. Definitely behind the curve.

Here's my take on it, from back in July: Unconventional Oil is NOT a Game-Changer. Unconventional fossil fuels, and other low EROEI sources, cannot ultimately sustain a society complex enough to produce them. Their production depends on the continued availability of relatively high EROEI conventional sources. It also depends on high oil prices, which we would not see in a depression. I expect oil prices to fall substantially on falling demand (and speculation in reverse), and to fall faster than the cost of production, meaning that much unconventional production will go out of business long before the deleveraging is over and the economy can begin to recover.

Thanks Nicole, that's about how I see it as well. I have argued for years that the economy cannot and will not support those $200 per barrel oil prices many peak oilers predict. It just will not happen in my humble opinion.

One of the main cornucopian arguments is that as oil becomes more scarce then prices will go up, creating more oil from those more expensive sources. That works out very well if you forget that those very high oil prices will knock the economy into a deep recession. Then declining production in the teeth of such a recession will drive the economy into a depression.

And because the world population continues to grow while the world economy collapses... This ain't gonna be pretty.

Ron P.

I have argued for years that the economy cannot and will not support those $200 per barrel oil prices many peak oilers predict.

This seems like the biggest corollary lesson of the events of 2008 (the proximate lesson being: we've got a real problem with oil supply).

I'll keep with me the image of all the energy bigwigs testifying before Congress that the huge run-up in oil prices during the first half of 2008 was a simple matter of supply and demand, nothing to be overly alarmed about. When they realized the clear implication of their testimony (i.e., we must have a real problem with supply) they quickly pivoted to blame financial speculators. Which happened to dovetail neatly with the Lehman implosion and subsequent financial crisis.

This year has been a slow-motion version of 2008, without nearly the price volatility, but oil at $120/bbl (Brent) clearly had a 'crushing' effect (to borrow M. Romney's favorite term). It is reasonable to wonder if global economies can tolerate oil at $120/bbl.

I think you are correct about the unlikely rise of oil to $200. Historically what has happened is that shortages have caused high prices in commodities and the high prices have caused investment that has driven down costs. We are way past that with oil, especially on an energy basis and almost no one in the financial world discussing oil seems to understand that that is the only basis that matters.

The economy cannot support $200 oil at current volume of use. But as the usage shrinks, cutting out the less-essential uses, the remaining use can and will support higher prices. For a real life example, see how many poor people around the world who live on a very small fraction of Western income somehow can "afford" to pay the world market prices, or something resembling it, for their cooking fuel. The cost of cooking fuel uses up a significant portion of their total income, and yet they pay it (and riot if the price goes further up). Why? Because cooking is essential. And for them, expensive liquid cooking fuel still beats walking hours every day looking for firewood, as many even-poorer people do.

Thus, currently there is a lid on oil prices since global demand is weak relative to what it used to be and relative to current supply. If, or when, supply drops by a few percent, probably within this decade, it'll be a different story. Unless demand keeps dropping even faster than supply. Is that likely given a million net more cars in China every month?

At $200/barrel, the proverbial soccer mom cannot afford to drive her SUV to Starbucks for a latte. But a farmer or small trader in a developing country can still afford to buy diesel because he can get a positive return on his investment. I

For people in developing countries oil was never cheap and abundant. They coped by consuming very little. I believe here in the US we will support much higher oil prices by consuming less per capita.

We are going to be outbid for expensive oil by those who are much poorer than we are - until we re-discover its enormous value and stop squandering it. A peasant who acquires a motor vehicle and goes from consuming zero barrels of oil per year to one barrel per year, sees a huge leap in his standard of living. A typical American who goes from consuming 20 barrels of oil per year to 21 barrels per year sees only an imperceptible change in his standard of living. That incremental barrel is worth much more to the peasant than to the American. The only way to compete is to move higher on the utility per barrel scale, which is lower on the barrels per year scale.

We are going to be outbid for expensive oil by those who are much poorer than we are - until we re-discover its enormous value and stop squandering it.

I agree about the difference in marginal utility of a barrel of oil to an American vs. a third worlder, but...
Who is this "we" you speak of? The typical idiot American who believes the world is literally 6,000 years old, angels are real, Iraq was behind 9-11, cutting taxes on rich people lowers deficits but helping poor people is sinful, gay people are gay by personal choice, and women cannot be trusted with their own bodies? Those people?

"We" will NEVER discover oil's enormous value and stop squandering it. It will simply get too expensive to squander anyymore, either directly by price increases, or indirectly by wage and job cuts.

IMO "Those people" the vast majority live out in the burbs or small towns which I have family in both and energy costs is the real problem. But it's ramification are redirected to other perceived social problems.

Yes and those are the people in the US most likely to be outbid for oil, as their jobs are shipped overseas and they no longer have the money to pay for gas to get to town or to shop at MalWart...

E. Swanson

In the US oil is consumed. In the third world, oil produces.

No contest.

In the US oil is consumed. In the third world, oil produces.

Well said and concisely put. A keeper.

It sounds good but on deeper reflection it makes no sense at all. In the US oil is consumed and it also produces. It produces a livelihood for 300 million people. If the US were to cut back on half the oil it consumes fewer cars would be produced and fewer miles would be driven. Fewer tires and car parts would be manufactured. Fewer vacations would be taken, and less of almost everything would be consumed.

And the 150 million or so people who's livelihood depends on all that manufacturing and leisure time expenditures would be out of a job. Consumption in the US means food on the table for millions of people.

Oil in many third world countries produces nothing but profit for the few in power. The people in sub-Sahara Africa get almost nothing from the oil their countries produce. But it does produce a lot of profit for a very few of the already rich and powerful. So in that regard I guess oil does produce in the third world.

Ron P.

Less oil consumed does help local economies.

Money not spent on gas & cars can be spent on live music, restaurants, costumes, Mardi Gras parades, fixing up old houses, Saints tickets, etc.

I know where of I speak.

New Orleans has the lowest VMT for residents in the USA. New York City is #2.

Best Hopes for More,


Oh this is very true if they have the same amount of money to spend, but just decide to spend it locally instead of going on long vacations. But people just don't "altogether" change their way of life unless there is something causing them to do it.

People are spending less on oil and gasoline today than they were in 2002 because the price is over four times what it was then. People are not spending more locally than they were when oil was cheap. People are simply spending more on oil and gasoline because it is much higher now. People are spending less everywhere, on everything else, because they have less to spend.

Ron P.

People are spending less everywhere, on everything else, because they have less to spend.

Well, then I sure hope this ain't gonna be the new normal! Cuz that would be quite ironic when those people find they can't get gas for their generators no matter what it costs... Ya gotta love people idling in their SUV's in gas lines for miles, trying to get to a gas station!


Climate Change, Peak Oil, Black Swans, The Collapse of Complex Societies?! Nah, nothing to see here, move along now folks, that is, if you still can!

Listening to TOD advice from years ago I already have a couple small batteries w inverters and LEDs. So while the rest of my town was out of power we had our neighbors up for a party playing games and music off LEDs powered by those little batteries.

Some neighbors talked about diesel but where will you get the fuel?

I have a small solar panel to recharge my goalzero battery and am trying to get a solar carport which would still have power in daylight.

The problem is that grid-connected solar is REQUIRED to shut itself off so lineman do not get electrocuted. It seems that solar panels should have a manual switch off from the grid or something to only supply your own power without ANY grid connection for emergencies.

Hey orbit7er,

The problem is that grid-connected solar is REQUIRED to shut itself off so lineman do not get electrocuted. It seems that solar panels should have a manual switch off from the grid or something to only supply your own power without ANY grid connection for emergencies.

While most power companies frown on having their lineman electrocuted by their customers... This is off the shelf technology readily available.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with Sun Electronics, they just happen to be near my home.

Here's an short explanation:

The Sun Electronics UPSUI series of battery backup PV systems are designed to provide reliable AC electric power on a 24/7 basis, even if the utility is down. When the utility is in operation, the output of the PV system is first used to meet the needs of the customer, and then any excess electricity produced is sold back to the utility so someone else can use it. If, for any reason, the utility is shut down, the PV system will still provide power to selected customer loads, but will disconnect from the utility until the PV system determines that the utility power is is stable. Then the PV system automatically reconnects to the utility. If the utility is down for a prolonged period, the system batteries will provide electricity to the customer emergency loads when the sun is not shining.

Disclaimer: I AM an employee of SMA America.

The SMA Sunny Island battery based grid tied inverter sounds similar in function to the Sun Electronics device. The Island is a grid tied inverter that can provide power to a protected loads panel, either passing through grid power, OR generator power, OR inverting the DC of its battery bank (48V, capacity of 100 to 10,000 Ah), OR providing power from any AC coupled renewable source - this primarily means PV.

Simply put, when the grid is down (and no generator is "acting" as the grid), then the Island creates its own micro grid, of high quality. This provides power to the protected loads panel (all the devices that should work when the grid goes down). The output of a PV inverter can also power this load panel. When the sun is up, the AC voltage source the Island makes is a utility quality grid signal, so the grid tied PV inverter WILL produce power (it sees a "good" grid). The Island has separated from the UTILITY grid, so there is no chance any electricity will be fed back to that grid. If the PV array produces more power than the loads use, the batteries can be charged using only the sun. If the loads are higher than the PV production, then a generator can be used to provide power to the loads and charge the batteries.

SMA has sold thousands of these devices all over the world. They were developed specifically for village electrification. Here is a link to a short (7 min) video that explains in better detail than I can in words.

Sunny Island Video

More product details can be found at SMA America's website.

Listening to TOD advice from years ago I already have a couple small batteries w inverters and LEDs. So while the rest of my town was out of power we had our neighbors up for a party playing games and music off LEDs powered by those little batteries

I recall arguments on this board just this year that it is foolish to waste money on solar backup. I'm sorry that you needed it; glad you had it. Hope others follow your example.

No doubt, there are going to be bits of advice from every corner.

Having some various forms of energy storage can be tedious or cumbersome, finickey or pricey.. but those advising against batteries on 'day to day economic' reasoning will possibly never be convinced otherwise, until they are.

orbit7er, some people have essential functions on a separate circuit they can run from battery backup disconnected from the grid. You can also use a service disconnect, connected between the power mast and your main service panel, which disconnects your house from the grid. Lots of solar supply places sell the former. Generator companies sell such switch panels to use with their generators.

Pts. well taken, Ron. But I will just offer that we could cut oil consumed by transportation in half without any of the consequences you cite simply by doubling the fuel efficiency of our vehicle fleet. Not going to happen any time soon, I know. But I think Ralph's pt. stands in that the marginal gallon burned in a 15 mpg SUV to take a kid to soccer or go pick up a gallon of milk is 'consumed', whereas that same marginal gallon burned in a scooter to get a techie to his job in Mumbai for a week 'produces'. We are just so wasteful in the US...

It takes years to turn over 250 Million personal cars in the US to more fuel efficiency. But in just 3 years from 1942-1945 the US increased intercity Rail and bus ridership and also local Green transit which saved millions of barrels of oil. Moreover transferring to Green Transit also cuts rubber, glass, iron, asphalt usage. This could be done in no time.
Unfortunately the NYC subways had to be shutdown due to inadequate protection from the flooding. So now what has happened is stories on WYNC of hours long commutes using cars that used to take minutes on the subway. In reaction Bloomberg is enforcing 3 rider rules, granting dedicated bus lanes which should have done from the start. (To his credit Bloomberg has campaigned for Green public transit from the git go but his congested pricing plan funding was rejected)

NJ Transit is still down with their Transit Operations Center flooded in Newark which must be impacting all Rail lines.

Some time ago I wrote here that MetroNorth / Amtrak line goes perilously close to the water level in the Hudson. We can run the Rails but some key sections will need to be elevated and protected as sea level rises and storms increase.

I just saw my neighbor, whose nieces are all in NJ. One waited 4.5 hours for Gas yesterday.. there were fistfights, food is scarce in more places, pretty tough situations growing.. as you say, the Mass Transit, which is a great network, is also vulnerable, in some ways by virtue of its connectedness.

I have to say that if there are folks in the Metro Districts with EV's and Solar Rooftops, THEY can be helping their neighbors and pulling off even some emergency support, having both transport and portable power with them, when so many other muni. services are going to be busy or just offline for a while now.

I don't, and never have painted EV's as a silver bullet.. but they represent a very uniquely independent form of transportation which can complement the other means we need to use to get people and supplies around. They do need roads or usable surfaces anyhow, and SOME source of 110 or 220 AC electricity.. but still they have powering options that almost NO vehicles around us today share. There really ought to be several in every community.

But I will just offer that we could cut oil consumed by transportation in half without any of the consequences you cite simply by doubling the fuel efficiency of our vehicle fleet.

clifman, it can be done. We only have to look to Europe to see what that looks like.

But I think Ralph's pt. stands in that the marginal gallon burned in a 15 mpg SUV to take a kid to soccer or go pick up a gallon of milk is 'consumed', whereas that same marginal gallon burned in a scooter to get a techie to his job in Mumbai for a week 'produces'. We are just so wasteful in the US...

Ok clifman, but you have to look at the situation as it is. You write 'simply doubling the fuel efficiency of the US fleet' and 'not going to happen anytime soon', so it is not simple. In India and China there are a lot of scooters but a lot want their first car also. The factories are already looking and planning for that future. The airline companies in China are buying planes for a future with more flights, more passengers. No reality checks, that makes it even harder to adapt later on. There is time to adapt, though with considerably more problems, because without disasters like economic depression and hoarding, oilproduction will only slowly decline after the plateau, but the consequences of the 'oil export math' is annoying now, so 'past peak' worse. Considering net available energy for society from crude oil, we are probably past peak already. Most car companies are adapting with hybrids and electric cars but that solves only part of the Peak Oil problem. Because of crude oil (and gas and coal) other systems are at or close to its limits. Human nature causes that we are overtaken by events, too bad in the case of Peak Oil.

Is that (demand drop) likely given a million net more cars in China every month?

vtpeaknik, that is a good question.

The rising world population and in particular the increased car ownership in China will likely increase oil demand faster than demand drops in the US and other countries.

I agree, vtpeaknik. I think the economy could support $200 oil . . . just not as it is structured right now. $200 oil would just raise US prices up to the levels in the highest priced European countries. We would would just do as they do: Buy much more efficient vehicles, use more public transport, carpool, travel less, live closer to work, bicycle, etc.

Yes, soccer mom won't be able to afford drive everywhere in her needlessly large SUV. Boo-hoo. I'll buy it off her for a low price to use on home depot runs and she can go buy a C-Max Energi, plug-in Prius, Volt, Leaf etc.

But that said, I don't see $200 oil within the next 5 to 7 years, so it is kind of a moot issue.

I see oil spiking up and down between the range of $50 to easily $200 for short periods (month or two max) as this is a symptom of a control system which has lost it's feedback loop. Annual average will still go up 10-20%. Previously KSA and before that TRRC would quickly ramp up production to dampen high excursions in price. Now we have very little or no spare capacity. Demand destruction is much slower at bringing down price. Note that just the threat of KSA bring on more oil would lower the price in the past but we know better now-they can't. All we have now is the strategic oil reserve. This has never happened before. We are in new territory.
It's not doom just different for the next few years. Too bad I can't store gasoline, I could sell hi buy low, better than bank interest.

For your information, oil is at the same price for European countries as it is for the US.
Volume based taxes do not change the price a country is paying for its oil, it doesn't change a country GDP either (per se, everything else being equal, etc).
Maybe if the US had realized this further to US production peak in 1970 and ensuing first oil shock, instead of buying the "arab embargo" myth, things would be a bit different.
Never too late ?
Won't happen anyway ?
Why bother ?

Yes most probably

The price individual people pay for it does change how efficiently consumers consume it. High prices cause people to seek alternatives, use it more efficiently, etc.

Yes for sure, it is the whole point of setting them up : accelerating whatever adaptation is possible, increasing energetic efficiency, while pushing the trade balance in the right direction.
And the point isn't to increase the government budget : other taxes can be lowered in parallel, typically on work.

YvesT, I wonder how much better the position of the US would be (from a trade deficit standpoint) if we had reduced oil demand from a higher Federal gasoline tax (say $1 per gallon).

Tough to say, but as per capita consumption of oil for the US is around double the one of Germany or France, the US could in fact be oil independent these days had it truly pushed for it (with more than $1 a gallon), and with also more efficient product to sell on the world market as a side effect, and more efficient infrastructure ...

A MUCH better position since oil is such a large proportion of our imports. Oil used to be a small fraction of our imports. But now with higher prices, oil makes up around half the dollar cost of our imports. If we want to improve our trade deficit situation, the first place to start is with oil. Tax oil products. This will improve the trade deficit, improve efficiency, reduce pollution, increase national security (it is not good to be so dependent on foreigners such a strategically important item), reduce CO2 emissions, create jobs in oil-substitutes (building public transport, EVs, electricity generation, etc.).

Will we do that? Of course not. That requires some sacrifice & commitment. The fat doughy Americans will vote out anyone that asks them to pay more, exercise more, put on a sweater, drive a more efficient vehicle, etc.

Actually not. Look at West Texas Intermediate versus Brent price. WTI only covers a small part of the country -and refineries reap most of the profit from its below world price.

Of course the main thing is most of Europe has steep gasoline taxes, which double or more the cost to the consumer.

Ron - "...creating more oil from those more expensive sources." All valid points. But as I'm one of the few on TOD that actually makes his living looking for oil I'll repeat the same old story: there isn't a lot of oil left to be developed. We're using $95/bbl in our economics and I'm concerned my owner will shut down the company because we can't find enough viable prospects to drill. We had spent $180 million our first two years drilling for deep NG but falling prices pretty much killed that program earlier this year.

So what am I drilling these days? Just spudded our 12,000' oil prospect 5 miles from that sinkhole in La. And if we make THE big discovery how many development wells will we drill: ZERO. If it works we'll drain the fault block with just the one well of around 300,000 bo...hopefully. Just finished drilling 3 shallow (5,000') wells in Texas looking for about 30,000 bo each. This is in a trend where 30 million to 150 million bbl oil fields have been developed...over 50 years ago. This is what we have left to drill in a trend that has produced over 5 billion bo. And still not sure if we found what we were hoping for.

My owner has already taken back $100 million of my budget because he knows we don't have a place to spend it at the moment. And, again, no...we don't play the shales. Not being a public company we don't have stock to hype. My owner can sit at his desk and make a better ROR using his telephone than a drill rig in the shales. The shales are making some profit but just not enough to justify our investment. Just this morning had a conference call re: a heavy oil SAGD project in CA. The current operator has going bankrupt despite the high oil prices. His partners are hoping we can come in a drill more profitable wells. Based on my preliminary analysis we surely can. It just isn't clear that it would be worth our doing it.

So here I sit with $millions in overhead budget, $100+ million in drilling capex available, a group of very talented 35+ year experienced hands exploring in one of the most prolific hydrocarbon basins on the planet and we ain't doing crap. I suggest we offer to pay economist based upon how much money they make with those predictions of big future reserves just waiting to be developed when oil prices get high enough. Just like we get paid in the oil patch. I doubt many would take that deal.

there isn't a lot of oil left to be developed.

Rockman, I would never argue with that statement. However there was a lot of oil developed from more expensive sources due to the current high price of oil. All that shale oil, which the cornucopians have been yelling about for the last couple of years was only developed because of the high price of oil. How much is left? I haven't a clue.

And, again, no...we don't play the shales.

Yes, I understand that. And I fully understand that stuff you drill for, conventional oil, is definitely past peak. All that is left is the very expensive shale stuff and perhaps a little of that very expensive deep water sub-salt oil. I don't hold out much hope for that making a difference however.

But your post is very informative. Things are a lot worse than I originally thought.

Ron P.

Ron - IMHO it's not so much an issue of what the shale oil cost to bring to the market but the very short meaningful lifetime of those wells. Just my WAG but in 5 years the first wells drilled in Ghawar many decades ago might be producing more oil than all the shale wells drilled in the last 5 years. IMHO it doesn't really matter how much oil the shales will ultimately produce but how many wells will it take. Many years ago the KSA was feeding the world a huge flow of oil from less than 600 wells that were averaging around 10,000 bopd per well. Even if the URR from the shales match the ME carbonate reservoirs the dynamics couldn't be more different. You know better than me: it's Peak Oil Rate and not Peak Oil Proved Reserves. I can't tell you how many companies I've seen go under while they had significant proved reserves in the ground. Same thing can happen to a country: big proven reserves in the ground do not keep an economy humming along. I suspect in the next 5 to 10 years the economist will have difficulty explaining why the US is doing so badly with all those proved oil reserves IN THE GROUND.

It's also helpful to realize the shale oil hype today is identical to the shale gas hype back in '08. Almost no one back then saw that crash coming. Will a drop in oil prices do the same to today's hot shale plays? Don't hear many folks seriously predicting that to happen. Just as we didn't hear anyone sounding the alarm over the fragile nature of the shale gas plays just 4 years ago. Since the very beginning of the oil industry over 100 years ago we've repeated gone thu high/low cycles. I've yet to see anyone offer a good reason to expect this not to continue. Some have during the course of the last century. And everyone was eventually proven wrong.

So, punk...feeling lucky? Say it ain't going to happen...I dare you. LOL.

"we didn't hear anyone sounding the alarm over the fragile nature of the shale gas plays just 4 years ago."

I can think of one very notable exception: Art Berman, who deserves a good deal of credit for his public request for "critical thinking" re. shale gas hype. Art certainly expressed his concerns in 2009... possibly as early as 2008.

Rick – So true. I was just baiting Art. LOL. But he’s been distracted with a cornucopian in another thread. If you were watching the debate back then you noticed how many rejected Art’s position…even some of our learned brethren on TOD. Except for those in the oil patch. That might not seem true given all the positive spin put out by the public companies at that time. But the public only hears the PR spin from the pubco’s. The rest of have no platform. Except for TOD, of course. But it’s just a lone voice in the wilderness. In ’08 I was consulting for the drilling dept of one of the biggest shale gas players. Sat in on the morning update meeting every day. And no one attending suffered any delusion about the reality of the situation. But they had their orders from management. And just like the night watch on the HMS Titanic they followed their orders right up to the disaster. No one on staff was caught by surprise. Art did get a bit of the story out to the public but I doubt even 1% every read a word of his.

The same dynamic exists today with the oily shale plays. The PR machine is in high spin mode while every grunt in the system is positioning themselves personally for a crash. Even the few newbies in the patch are listening to the old gray hairs: few McMansions and Lamborginies. LOL

I follow your arguments about shales and oil, but the tar sands are surely a different case.
The logistics are difficult and the capital needs large, whilst the development time is long, but there is an awful lot of oil there.

At prices above, say, $120/barrel I don't understand why they could not provide a lot of oil, for decades.

Well, with the tar sands, the tar sands are not the only input. They also need lots of natural gas, water, and capital. Limits on any one of those can slow things down. All three seem to be in good supply right now (AFAIK) but who knows what will happen in the future.

Extraction might need to be done in ways which minimise water loss, but there is no technical reason at all why nuclear should not replace natural gas.

We have the technology, we just are not applying it.

It is weird how the 'greens' always seem to increase both CO2 emissions and damage to the environment.

there is no technical reason at all why nuclear should not replace natural gas.

LMAO !!!

Surely you jest - or are just blinded by your love on nuclear power to reality ?

Some technical reasons -

1) NG plants can rapidly load follow - all operating nukes today, and the unverified claims of Areva (supposed to have an operating example a few years ago, but something happened ...) have the EPR over one and approaching two orders of magnitude less nimble than most NG plants.

2) NG plants are cheap and fast to build

3) NG plants are cheap to staff and maintain - they are ideal for seasonal peaks (summer air conditioning demand in the USA for example) and meeting the 10% surplus generating capacity above expected demand typically required.

4) Decommissioning a modern NG plant (no asbestos or lead paint) is a profit making or at least break even proposition.

5) The regulatory burden is far lower for NG.

6) NG plants can be built in every region of the United States (except Hawaii). Nuclear power plants cannot be safely built near populated areas and regions.

7) At least one operating nuclear power plant is being scrapped because it cannot compete with NG generated power.

I am sure that their are more reasons as well - your point is so ludicrous that it is hard to take seriously.

BTW, EdF has gone past the economic point in building nukes in France. To further reduce their FF generation, they are now building wind turbines as a better economic choice. Their one and only EPR is an investment in keeping their nuke building industry on life support for when they start retiring their old nukes.


I think he meant using nuclear heat directly instead of NG to extract the tar sands. Many of your (valid) arguments are less important, as we can build the plant in the middle of the native communities where it won't bother anyone {white}. Come to think of it, the waste disposal would be simplified, too, we could just shovel it out the back door into the remote northern wilderness.

The great mystery to me is (other than THAI - is anyone doing this?) we don't burn bitumen to make it. I read a biography about Cedric Mah(?), a bush pilot who had a job cutting wood after the War to distill bitumen. That gives me some idea of the remarkable advance in bitumen extraction technology since then.
The ethanol plants, similarly, burn coal to distill alcohol. Perhaps this is an indication that EROEI is approaching unity.


Note to any reader: if you are having a hard time detecting the sarcasm just think like a Republican.

Perhaps this is an indication that EROEI is approaching unity.

bryantheresa, politians never seem to mention the low energy gain when touting the bio-fuels industry.

You don't do facts or references, do you?

As another poster said, for oil sands extraction all you need is a heat source, so your claim that nuclear can't be used is nonsensical.

To pick up on one of your points, as I can't be bothered to do more since you never, ever provide proper references, here is yet more information on load following in nuclear plants:

FYI load following is not something peculiar to Areva, but is built into Westinghouse and Hitachi designs.

That was unnecessary. I've had the pleasure of reviewing a some of Alan's work, and it was really well referenced. Have you ever asked him for a copy of one of his presentations?

Come on. You may not agree with his interpretation or his methodology, but to complain that he does not supply them is really toy.

And I have done analysis (posted here on TOD) of several days of EdF operations in France which show that either 1) nukes cannot load follow or 2) they can only very crudely approximately load follow en masse.

In any case the range of nuke load following (max -min) is much smaller that the daily cycle of load (max - min).

There is a very good reason that EdF has 10% hydro, 4 GW of pumped storage, exports power to Switzerland all night and STILL gets over 15% of their MWh from FF. The reason is nukes can barely, if at all, load follow.


To add to the list of reasons nukes aren't likely to be useful for tar sands extraction, consider the fact that thermal energy doesn't "travel" very well. Sure, a nuke plant might be built near a tar sands extraction area, but, what happens after the local area is exhausted? The nuke can't be moved, as it's mostly concrete and steel. What do you think to be the practical limit in distance over which the the steam from the nuke plant can be shipped? Do you propose to build another nuke every 50 miles (or whatever) across the Alberta tar sands areas as each area's resource is depleted?

As for technology, why not take the money and build large PV arrays to make electricity, arrays which could easily last 30-40 years, or more wind generators, leaving the tar sands underground...

E. Swanson

Black Dog:
The Swedes routinely pipe steam from nuclear tens of kilometres, so if you want to build a large one, you can reach a huge area.
That is what the CANDU designs for this were to do.

Alternatively you can build small plants:

It baffles me why people make claims which five minutes on google would show to be false.

You might not approve of using nuclear to extract tar sands, or even maybe think that they should not be extracted at all, but you can undoubtedly use nuclear to extract them if that is the choice.

1) "tens of km" is unlikely to be far enough (please give an exact distance) and

2) insulated steam pipes are extremely expensive and

3) the temperature drops with every km.

Even when there is free waste heat from an urban generated plant, steam rarely goes much further than 1.5 miles.

In Iceland, geothermal steam is 85 to 90 C water by the time it reaches homes in Reykjavik.

Useful for heating homes - not so useful for melting tar.

Several times nukes have been evaluated, and never come close to being economic.


But ROCK, SAGD was just a few years ago the shiny new technology that was going to save us all by unlocking all that heavy oil! You know, the kind of breakthrough that us 'peak oil' eggheads failed to anticipate? Wha happened?

Oh right. More expensive than we thought. Needs higher throughput than we thought. It sounds like SAGD will help with oil sands though. A little bit.

Steve - Yep. I hadn't been paying attention to those details. But I researched the net for horizontal SAGD efforts in the Ventura Basin. Starting 5 to 8 years ago found articles hyping such efforts out there by small public companies. Today they seem to have either gone bankrupt or just disappeared. The folks I talked to kept mentioning large oil companies they appeared to be moving into the play. But I suspect their motivation may be similar to the shale oil players: public companies looking to add large proven reserves to their books even if the profit margin is somewhat thin. Again, a motive we lack.

SAGD works very well in the Canadian oil sands, where the reserves are shallow in depth and enormous in scope, but it is expensive to operate. In the oil sands, they drill dozens of wells - up to 100 - off a single gravel pad, with the well bores thousands of feet long on 300 foot spacing, and they have dozens of pads in operation at any one time. When they they exhaust the wells on one pad, they move to another pad and drill more wells but recycle much of the equipment.

The economics of this work because of economies of scale, but I'm not sure you can get the same economies of scale in the US where the heavy oil fields are much smaller and have already been producing for decades. The geology is more complicated and variable, too.

Rocky - Yep...the drilling tech is child's play.The problem with this deal is costs.For instance the surface leases (not the mineral leases) are running $50,000 to $80,000 per acre. It's high value ag land. And they'll be buying the NG fuel from the RETAIL MARKET...no gas on the leases. In effect the surface lease and the fuel costs are biting bad. On top of that the original players have over $80 million sunk on the initial pilot wells. They hope a new player might get them whole...that ain't going to happen. We might drill to earn but that's it. And that's even a big manybe at the moment.

Rockman, yes in the Canadian oil sands you would pay nothing for surface rights since no one lives there and it has no agricultural potential, and a 2% royalty on the minerals before payout (25% after payout, but that's after you have recovered all your capital costs).

Purchased natural gas for fuel would usually be local gas selling at distress prices, assuming you didn't produce it yourself (which most SAGD operators do), and in many cases the NG is produced from formations directly underneath the oil sands, minimizing transportation costs. Plus significant amounts of solution gas from the SAGD operation itself.

Totally different economic parameters. Not really a license to print money given the high capital costs, but not bad in comparison.

no one lives there

It would appear that these women would beg to differ.

I know, buncha whiny women with no leg to stand on...

C'on clifman, couple of ladies vs multi-billion corporation? The cost-benefit calculation is clear: no one lives there...

Well, they are a bunch of whiny women, but I don't think they live in the Alberta oil sands. They aren't even NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) they are BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothin Anywhere Near Anybody).

Dhaliwal In particular, may be an indigenous Indian, but I think she may be the wrong kind of Indian, indigenous to the wrong continent (I.e. Asia, and currently living in the UK). Huson is a BC Indian from the other side of the Continental Divide in the Skeena River watershed. Deranger is closer, being from Fort Chippewayan on Lake Athabasca, but that's still well north of the oil sands.

I oversimplified somewhat. There are native Indians who live in the oil sands, but they own the mineral rights to the oil sands under their reservations and can dictate the terms of development. Generally speaking, they want them developed faster so they can make more money, and would like jobs working for the oil companies.

I worked on a pre-SAGD research project in the oil sands (it was only semi-successful, but I think is still in operation) in which we leased the mineral rights from the local Indian tribe, and those were my observations. Another of my observations was that some of the better run Indian tribes could be described as "rich". The average tribe member was a millionaire.

So there are no good investements to make?

Maybe we are underestimating the capability of the system to trudge along in this state of limbo. Your scenario could take years or decades to pan out. Currently high oil prices are being offset by people going out of jobs, jobs moving overseas to low cost locations, efficiency improvements etc, this could go on for quite some time.

I don't believe we're in a state of limbo. Systemically we're experiencing a trend of decreasing inputs and increasing entropy. It may seem static to most, but it isn't. Finite resources are still being depleted and the overall biosphere continues to suffer losses. Costs of production will continue to increase relative to quantity and quality. IMO, agricultural production is at or near peak and facing diminishing returns relative to inputs/costs. Virtually all necessary commodities are following this trend. You can only squeeze a sponge so hard; ingenuity and technology are limited by environmental and resource conditions.

The interconnectedness of things is easy to miss/ignore. At some point an inflection point will be reached when markets, economies, capital/credit availability (viability) won't be able to adjust or cope. When populations' demand reaches their minimum operating levels (many are there now), the house of cards collapses. Our evermore complex responses can't overcome the universe's mandate to simplify. Our hubris is that we humans are somehow immune to this fundamental law.

That Nature has us on the run hasn't sunk in yet.

+10 Tks, Ghung!

I just wish more people understood that we really do depend on an intact and stable natural environment within very narrow band of parameters and that right now we don't have the beginning of a clue as to what the long term synergistic effects our actions are having on it!

Chaos theory is not some mathematical abstraction, there are real physical feedbacks and tipping points which may only become evident once they have been crossed.

Go ahead and ask the people on the Jersey shore if nature's laws have any real effect. They may not know what the word entropy means but I bet they can sure see the results...

Its very pleasing then that nuclear has a great EROEI, and it can improve many fold.

Claims that the energy returns are poor for nuclear are plainly crazy, as the actual cost of the raw uranium to run a household in the US on a once through nuclear cycle at $0.003kwh are of the order of $20 for a year.

If lots of oil, gas or coal were being used to produce the uranium then clearly that would be impossible as the costs would work their way through, so extravagant calculations which purport to show a low EROI fail the test of common sense.

There are enormous resources of lower grade uranium and thorium than the rich ores we currently exploit.
We use about 1% or so of the energy in the uranium in a once through cycle and know perfectly well how to greatly increase that by a host of different technologies.
That means that very low grade resources or uranium from the sea which tests show would run at around $1230/kg without further progress on cost reduction are perfectly viable.


That 10 times increase in raw uranium costs allied to a burn of, say, 50% of the uranium, achievable in many ways, one being for instance advanced pebble bed reactors would mean a cost of around $4 in raw uranium to keep a household in the US in electric power for a year.

Using exactly the same methodology as the Hubbert analysis which predicted that conventional oil would peak around now it it quite plain that no such peak is in prospect for hundreds of years for uranium.

If the concern is liquid fuels, the EROI of nuclear power means that they can, if necessary, be produced.

It is also reassuring to note that even current and past designs of nuclear power stood up superbly to hurricane Sandy, as they did to the earthquake at Fukushima.

A 45 foot tidal wave put some of the reactors in trouble, but now all reactors are being upgraded to cope even with that, and even in zones where there is no possibility of such an event.

It would have been nice if the gas supplies at Queens, and at Fukushima, were similarly safe, but unfortunately there is no possible technical way of making them so.

Thanks DaveW, that was really sweet of you! I especially enjoyed the part about Uranium from the sea being perfectly viable at $1230/kg! Made me feel all warm and fuzzy and hopeful about the future again. Hey, maybe the good folks in Jersey and New York could set up plant to process their flood waters and extract the Uranium from it.


Economic Viability

Is seawater extraction economically viable? Japanese research suggests the lowest possible cost to extract uranium is 25,000 Yen per kilogram of uranium. [4] At the current exchange rate (March 2012, 1USD ~ 81 JPY), that equates to about 300 USD per kilogram of uranium. This is about 3 times more than the current price of uranium, and it is expected that the actual recovery price would be about 10 times the current price of uranium. [2]

Of course that's just the price of the Uranium...

Yep, if you assume that no improvements can ever be made in extracting uranium from the sea, and that no improvement whatsoever can ever be made to the US once through system of using nuclear fuel, although the French are already using reprocessing and so using uranium much more efficiently, then you would raise the price of the raw uranium per kwh to around 3 cents kwh.

So the obvious thing to do would be to let society crash, as BAU is not much fancied and that is preferable to paying a bit more on electricity bills.

Of course, in fact if uranium from the sea can't possibly be got any cheaper, ever, then there are in fact enormous land based resources available at around $500 kg.

Some here are downright in love with being doomed, no matter what logical contortions they have to go through to think themselves so.
Wuthering Heights and Gothic chic have a lot to answer for.

You forgot to mention the catastrophically expensive failure of the British in recycling waste fuel.

Odd, since I vaguely remember that you are British.

And you seem to also have completely forgotten Fukishima as well. One nuke after another exploding like popcorn is another form of doom.


As I recall General Electric also had a pretty expensive failure in trying to recycle nuclear fuel in the 1970s.

Its interesting the way the anti-nuclear people simply switch subjects when their ludicrous assumptions on one issue are nailed.

The present discussion is about EROEI, not the inability of Greenpeace et al to get their decimal place in the right position when it comes to risk assessment.

Have you anything to say relevant to EROEI, or is the point conceded?

Your EROEI analysis is quite faulty.

It does not include the many dozen nuclear reactors that were abandoned incomplete - or those closed prematurely.

It does not include the energy cost of tens of billions of subsidies.

It does not include the energy costs of new uranium as existing deposits deplete.

It does not include the costs of decommissioning.

It does not include the energy costs of Chernobyl & Fukishima. Nor the "energy cost" of wasted farm land.

It doe not include the energy costs of recycling and disposing of waste or just disposing of waste fuel.


PS: China's lax safety culture is a major cost savings there.


Burning coal and natural gas to provide base load is criminal in my view. I much prefer the use of nuclear power for that purpose even though it is more expensive.

Ever hear the phrase "Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement"? We've had lots of "bad judgement" with nuclear power and it is time to benefit from that experience. The big failures of nuclear power at Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were largely due to failures of management. It isn't technical issues that stand in the way of building safe, reliable nuclear power plants -- it is our ability to properly manage the construction and operation of such facilities. Management failures also figure prominently in other disasters such as the Challenger Shuttle disaster or completely non-technical situations such as the unnecessary loss of life in New Orleans from Katrina.

There are plenty of examples of other technologies that had serious problems in the beginning, yet we persevered until we got it right. Early iron railroad bridges had a high failure rate due to metal fatigue resulting in a large loss of life, yet we did not stop building metal bridges. Today, the failure of a steel bridge is a pretty rare event. Jetliner safety is another example where the crash rate, at least in western nations, has dropped significantly over time. The jetliner industry certainly didn't get off to a good start as the first commercial jetliner, the British Comet, suffered three crashes where all aboard were killed out of a relatively small number of planes before a serious design flaw (another metal fatigue problem) was uncovered.

Given the evils of coal, I do support building admittedly uneconomic new nukes in areas which we can, if the worst happens, do without.

A reasonable planning metric is to assume that the area around a nuke has a 1 in 400 chance of becoming an exclusion zone. The two new nukes in Georgia (fewer than 6,000 people# within 10 miles, not very fertile farmland) seems to fit that description.

# Many of the 6,000 are no doubt employed directly or indirectly by the two operating nukes at the site.

But I see very few places in the Northeast that qualify (perhaps northern Maine and an area north of Albany) as areas we can do without.


an area north of Albany) as areas we can do without.

I will let Mainers speak for themselves, other than to note that much of the North Maine Woods is paper company land, whereas "The Adirondack Park is ... the largest park and the largest state-level protected area in the contiguous United States, and the largest National Historic Landmark."

I, for one, could no more 'do without' my native Adirondacks than you could do without your precious New Orleans.

Nukes make neither economic nor ecological sense, anywhere. Anyone who thinks they do should ponder Into Eternity.

To be fair, Ontario also enlarged hydro generation as well, and added some wind.


I believe we have on the order of 2000MW of wind capacity. From what I have seen, we don't get a lot of wind power during the summer months when the need for power is greatest. Spring and fall are the windiest time periods but power demands tend to be lower at that time of the year.

The last few days with Sandy have been pretty amazing for wind power. Right now, we're getting around 1100MW of wind power. At 3am Tuesday morning I was seeing over 1600MW! Unfortunately, we don't need more power at night and the market price was negative 12.8 cents per Kwh! We were actually paying someone, probably a neighbouring state, to take our surplus power.

Wind power is an impressive technology and I'll never forget seeing the Prince wind farm near Sault St. Marie while flying home from Western Canada. Had me a little confused at first wondering what all those communication towers were doing there until I was close enough to see the blades spinning.

My feeling is that wind power is not a good complement to the large amount of nuclear base generating capacity we have. Solar is a much better complement as it is always available during daylight hours when power demands are usually at the peak. There are certainly places where wind power makes a lot of sense -- I'm just not convinced that Ontario is one of those places.

Ontario has some storage hydro - Quebec and Manitoba have a LOT !

Ramping up and down 2 GW is nothing for HydroQuebec. They just need a little competition from Manitoba Hydro.

Although I suspect that Ontario can schedule around wind with domestic hydro resources.


Instead of paying someone else to take their surplus power, can't wind farm operators run some of their windmills as fans to absorb the excess?

Idaho curtailment row could set precedent

In late September, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Ferc) ruled that utility Idaho Power must buy contracted wind energy even at times of low customer demand. Ferc cited the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (Purpa) - a 1978 federal law intended to promote domestic renewable energy by forcing utilities to purchase power from small generation projects.

Idaho Power, the state's largest utility, has been curtailing Purpa-qualifying wind power since the spring. The utility justified its decision by arguing that it must reduce base load during times of low demand to spare its customers additional costs.

I'd maybe agree with you, but we are now in a political environment where all regulation of all types is inherently 'evil'. How, exactly, can we possibly ensure sound management going forward in this environment? There is a great push to gut the clean water act, clean air act, the epa, etc. I would argue that nuclear regulation is especially sensitive/prone to this kind of political interference, given the dollar amounts involved, and the particular part of the political landscape it lives in. We have chosen as a society not to place any present value on risk management whatsoever. What makes nukes the special case where everything will just work itself out/self-regulate? I have completely lost faith in the ability of our society to take the measures necessary to manage something like nuclear successfully. We simply don't have the will.

Nukes: quite possibly safer to build in China. When TSHTF there, you know at least one dude will voluntarily fall on his sword.


B.T.W.. It's pure luck.. that the greater Tokyo area is not an exclusion zone..

It that quake had occurred in the summer instead of late winter, most of Japan's population would need to be evacuated/relocated.

Even then..
The average Japanese probably lost a couple of years of lifespan.
Even in the USA.. we probably lost a couple of months of lifespan.

A major incident in the USA's heartland could easily reduce average US citizen lifespan by ten years.

Now how do you put a price on that??
We could try...
Take 2.6T$ per year in health care and multiply it by the difference in average life span. (10years) * 2.6T$/yr == 26T$ in direct costs(you'll spend just as much, but over a short period). Now tack on indirect costs.. loss of employment, quality of life, additional life care, etc.

Oh.. and let's not forget the price to police the world.. just to make the world safe enough for N-power.
at least 300 to 500 billion $ per year..

No thanks.. the price is wayyy to high..

"Its interesting the way the anti-nuclear people simply switch subjects when their ludicrous assumptions on one issue are nailed."

Gosh, Dave; again, pot paints kettle black.


This thread had nothing to do with nuclear power,, until Dave decided it did.

My post was a response to a claim by Stoneleigh here that:
'Unconventional fossil fuels, and other low EROEI sources, cannot ultimately sustain a society complex enough to produce them. Their production depends on the continued availability of relatively high EROEI conventional sources.'

Since the EROEI of nuclear is just fine, I pointed that out.
There is a big difference between a world of increasing shortages due to ever reducing return on energy invested and one where it is not, and so this is a critical distinction.

Sometimes who is responding to what is difficult to follow on the layout here, so I try to remember to name whom I am responding to, but on this occasion forgot.

Perhaps that's why nuclear power exists; because people don't understand it enough to not accept it. Like a lot of things.

Paradoxically, maybe, the more nuclear states get, incidentally, the more likely people may be locked in to the violence/wage-slave-based centralized corporate-state-oligarchy model, due to issues with nuclear power (waste, decommissioning, etc.), and despite peak government, thus potentially threatening attempts at relocalization and/or relocalisation threatening attempts to deal safely/effectively with the nuclear issues.

Lock-in is generally your inability to change one thing in a very complex system without starting to affect something else that you depend on... You can't go back... ~ David Korowicz

...ostensibly, at least not without some catastrophes along the way.

Last I checked, the Fischer-Tropsch process didn't work on uranium...and we already have a more than adequate supply of electricity.


The argument I was countering is that energy supplies will decrease due to falling EROEI.

As supplies of uranium and thorium are huge, and we only use it very inefficiently at the moment as it is so cheap and know perfectly well how to greatly increase that efficiency it would appear to be quite clear that there is no reason to assume that electricity will get much more expensive.

As long as electricity is within societies means, then hydrogen and its derivatives can be produced for transport etc where batteries will not do the job.

All true, but that looks like a path thats not going to be taken. Since Fukishima I decided pushing for N power was futile, and I gave it up. The PR picture is just too difficult to overcome. Major accidents have demonstrated that the risk to human health isn't all that large, but the risk of losing access to large tracts of land (possibly land containing expensive structures) is very real.

Whatever the victories for Greenpeace may be in the West, proving beyond doubt the defects in teaching basic science, elsewhere in the world where the demand for energy is growing nuclear continues to grow fast.

From memory around 25 new reactors are going to come online in China by 2015.

The effects of the luddites will be to render western industry uncompetitive, increase energy prices so that there are even more 'excess winter deaths' and to increase unemployment.

That won't stop nuclear power in the world at large.

Since renewables simply do no work save in the case of solar in the tropics that is hardly surprising:

That shows directly, that the effect of putting wind at a headline levelised cost of 12.5p onto a gas grid which is thereby required to operate less economically than it was doing by reason of having to dispatch, is to increase the holistic cost of the wind from 12.5p to 14.8p, with the extra 2.3p being passed onto the gas operators!

Worse, if we assume that we are losing - say - 20% of the putative fuel gains in the gas plant by dint of it having to operate outside ideal efficiency conditions and in high dispatch mode, and that is the most conservative estimate we can put on it, then instead of 4p gas cost per unit, we are looking at 4.8p and the Utot value will rise to 9p a combined unit. And then the actual 'cost' of the wind component rises to 18.66p

The minimum effect of the intermittency of wind in this scenario was to increase its impact on overall costs by 50% more than the calculated impact if intermittency is disregarded!

To put it simply, if you want to add 25% onshore wind to a baseload of gas generators, not only will you not be able to switch off a single gas generator permanently, but in addition to having to pay 12.5p for every unit of wind you generate, you will need to pay the gas operators a further 6.2p for every unit the wind operator generates, to compensate for their loss of revenue and less efficient fuel burn accommodating the dispatch that wind imposes on them.

Pausing to summarise these staggering answers, we can draw some generalised conclusions.
Namely that while the renewable lobby methodology for calculating wind cost and other renewable costs are probably valid for very small penetrations into the grid, such that dispatch demands created by it don't actually overall increase the demand for dispatch on conventional power, once the intermittent renewable element starts to rise to the level where the capacity factors of the fossil plant start to fall significantly, then they have no option but to raise prices to cover their fixed costs, and given that the fuel savings will never be quite what the renewable energy component itself represents, then their fuel costs (per unit generated) will rise as well.

And that in the case of the cheapest intermittent renewable we have, onshore wind, the cost increase is considerable and could easily reach 50% at modest wind penetration.'


This is just one point from a systematic deconstruction, which shows comprehensively that renewables cannot possibly provide the power we need.

is to increase the holistic cost of the wind from 12.5p to 14.8p, with the extra 2.3p being passed onto the gas operators!

As someone who understands utility economics, NG dispatch, efficiency curves etc. I find your statement, on the face of it, ludicrous.

Perhaps wind reduces the hours of operation of NG, thereby raising fixed costs per MWh. But Britain has been so VERY slow and weak in supporting wind, that the UK does not produce enough wind to have that large an impact.

England and Wales do seem destined to power blackouts due to an over reliance on imported NG and a reluctance to build enough renewables to matter, or even to build uneconomic nuclear power plants (there being no economic ones to build in the UK).


PS: I do support making a deal with EdF. Expand the HV DC links to France and contract to buy nuclear power from EdF from the reactors that they would otherwise shut down in the spring & fall, and the occasional weekend at a discount rate. This would reduce the NG and coal burned - saving those fuels for the summer and especially winter.

And England & Wales can compete for surplus German (and soon French) wind and solar when available.

I did not realise that you had qualifications in electrical engineering, but of course you simply claim that you have 'understanding'.

The person who wrote the critique has got the qualifications, not just 'understanding'.

Clearly the critique does not just apply to the UK, but to other countries with far higher wind penetration.
Spain for instance has a nominal ~10%, which in a gale rises to over 100%

DaveW wrote - is to increase the holistic cost of the wind from 12.5p to 14.8p, with the extra 2.3p being passed onto the gas operators

and then wrote - Clearly the critique does not just apply to the UK, but to other countries with far higher wind penetration. Spain for instance has a nominal ~10%, which in a gale rises to over 100%

"12.5p" is pence which is a monetary unit used almost exclusively in the U.K. Spain would use euro cents. So clearly the unattributed quote is from Britain.

It is also clearly from Britain, because only there do the anti-wind zealots write such unbelievable stuff & nonsense about wind.

It is well known that German solar is robbing the profits of Swiss hydro utilities and merchant gas plants by lowering the market price of peak power significantly. But that is solar, not wind, and the result is lower utility costs - not higher - and lower profits for merchant NG plants.

The biggest impact of wind on NG merchant plant profits is that they sell fewer MWh/year. Which is the entire purpose of building wind. Sorry if they do not like the competition.

Ramping NG plant up and down to 1) match changes in load and 2) changes in wind generation imposes no significant strain or costs on NG plants (they ramp very easily & quickly) except for lost sales and slightly lower efficiency at lower capacity (which is independent of wind).

Like other of DaveW claims (such as nuclear can replace natural gas for peaker plants that run 15% to 0% # of the hours of the year), this claim is also unbelievable.


# Since utilities try to keep 10% more generation than anticipated demand, some plants never come on-line for 365+ days. Others may be generating for 1 to 5 hours/day for several weeks of the year. Building a nuclear power plant for such a role is ludicrous.

EdF has 10% hydro plus 4 GW of pumped storage, and sells as much power as it possibly can late at night to other nations - and still generates over 10% of their power from FF - and has more in reserve. The reason is that nukes simply cannot replace NG plants. Although EdF has built more nukes than are economic.

I'm not sure what the thorium reactor supporters are waiting for. AFAIK in places like the UK, USA, Canada a private company can get permitted, build a reactor then start rolling in the profits. I'm not being sarcastic for once. In the great free enterprise capitalist world this is, apparently how things happen. Are we waiting for the socialist government to do this? Companies like GE, already committed to their self-decommisioning design (that's a feature, not a bug).
I admire the Indians for at least making the attempt - if it works that will be a huge commercial success for that country.

There is no basis for claiming that the Fukushima reactors survived the earthquake unscathed - since they were never properly inspected after the earthquake.

And since the cold reactor #4 (refueling started over a month before) exploded as well, that is strong circumstantial evidence that reactor #4 was damaged in some way by the earthquake.

Noteworthy is that in the wake of Fukishima, the US NRC ordered a review of earthquake risks for all US reactor sites. Their report listed North Anna as being at least risk of an above design level earthquake for all US reactor sites (60+).

A month after the report was released, North Anna was hit by an earthquake almost twice the design intensity.

So much for fail proof nuclear designs. they do not exist in any economic form.
I assume that any reactor site has about a 1 in 400 chance of becoming an exclusion zone after a major reactor accident. Given the issues of coal, I can see taking that risk in selected areas. For example Vogtle, where two new US reactors are being built, has <6,000 people living within 10 miles of reactors #1, #2 and soon #3 and #4.

I suspect that half of those 5,000+ either work at reactors #1 & #2, are family of workers or support (teachers, barbers, sheriff, store clerks) for the workers or their families. Augusta Georgia is 26 miles away and is not terribly large either. The farm land is not terribly fertile either.

So an "acceptable" potential sacrifice area IMVHO.

In the UK, Scotland seems less willing to play that role. The northern tip was once a nuclear complex.


And they have recently abandoned attempts to clean up the shoreline after a high level radiation dump exploded there 30 years ago. The main (fast breeder) reactor is now being decommissioned.
The reality was , being a research establishment, whenever they had some waste (radioactive or chemical) that they didn't have a written procedure for disposing of, they simply dumped it in an old shaft, and didn't record it. 20 years later the chemicals in the shaft exploded.

Such practices simply do not happen in the world of many pro-nuke supporters.

Another epic British nuclear mistake - in building their Magnox reactors.

They used ordinary carbon steel fasteners in EVERY REACTOR they built ! Given the chemistry of the hot coolant (CO2 from memory), these corroded. The British Government was faced with two stark choices.

1) Do the safe thing - shut down and scrap almost every operating nuclear reactor in the nation - and face black-outs and economic ruin or

2) Find a away to keep them running - safety be dammed.

They, or course, chose #2. They derated the reactors (and later gave some life extensions !!) and operated them at lower temperatures.

Fortunately, the very last Magnox reactor is about to finally be scrapped when it runs out of the currently loaded fuel. Britain dodged the bullet.

But is shows how operating nuclear reactors safely is not the highest priority - economics is.


I think it needs to be made clear that the liquid chemical/radioactive waste found at places like Hanford isn't coming from power reactors. This is a legacy of a time period where nuclear research and nuclear weapon production was of great national importance while the issues of disposing of the waste was pretty low on the priority list. Storage and disposal of spent fuel rods from power reactors is a vastly easier task in comparison to the challenge faced at Hanford.

I certainly cannot condone keeping an unsafe reactor in operation for economic reasons though as you point out this has certainly happened in a number of countries. I don't think it is universally the case though -- here in Canada premature cracking of fuel tubes in our Candu reactors resulted in quite a few reactors being shutdown before their expected end of life. Many of these reactors are now back in operation after lengthy and expensive refurbishments. I trust the people who are managing our reactors and consider them to be safe. I would not necessarily have the same trust if I was living elsewhere.

Do you have any opinion on the safety of Canada's Candu reactors?

... or the safety of their waste?

In 1988 the CNFWMP, through AECL, submitted its generic (non-site-specific) proposal [11] for long-term nuclear used-fuel management to the federal government, which initiated an Environmental Review process that ultimately took ten years to conclude. Under the proposal, the used fuel would be placed in disposal vaults about 500 to 1000 metres deep in the granite rock of the Canadian Shield. The "formations of choice" are large, single intrusions called batholiths, formed between one and two billion years ago, and geologically stable since that time. Other criteria met by grantitic batholiths are low mineral (and therefore economic) value, and low ground-water movement rates.

Used fuel would be encased in corrosion-resistant containers designed to last thousands of years, and surrounded by a buffer material (such as bentonite clay) that retards water migration. The vaults, tunnels, and shafts of this disposal site would be backfilled and sealed during its closure stage. The safety design of the emplacement technology has been developed with the conservative assumption that the fuel-bearing containers will only last a fraction of their design life. The technology also does not depend on long-term institutional controls, and is adaptable to future societal requirements and changes in criteria.

A specific site has not been sought at this stage, as mandated by the joint decision of the federal and Ontario governments in 1981 to develop only generic technology for initial review. However, key site characteristics (distance from post-glacial faulting, low mineral value, low ground-water movement, size and uniform nature of plutonic rock, etc.) have been defined in preparation for the siting stage of the program.


@12,000 tons, globally, each and every year... and we they still don't have a viable response. Can kicking at its most foul...

Yes, this is certainly an example of can kicking. However, it looks like things are starting to move. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization, which represents the three electrical utilities operating nuclear power plants in Canada has identified 20 or so communities that would be interested in hosting a deep waste repository. They are expecting to have this list cut down to 1 or 2 communities by 2015 but don't expect to have a usable repository until 2035. Hmmm, guess they should have started this process 20 years ago!

I agree -- the reactors at Fukushima were most likely damaged by the earthquake so there would have been some type of crisis even if the tsunami had not struck the plant. I don't know if there were any special considerations made about earthquakes at the time they were constructed but they are basically just American designed GE boiling water reactors.

Japan probably has more expertise on building earthquake resistant structures than any other country in the world so I don't see why a more modern reactor design could not be modified to be earthquake resistant with the assistance of Japanese engineers.

"as the actual cost of the raw uranium to run a household in the US on a once through nuclear cycle at $0.003kwh are of the order of $20 for a year."

Irrelevant. The main cost of nuclear power is the capital cost of building the plant in the first place. Besides the $8 billion, you also have to finance it. Remember how the interest cost on the mortgage is up to twice the value of the mortgage? Same thing applies.

And you get no return at all on the investment until all the capital and maybe 1/3 of the interest cost is already spent. With wind or solar or geothermal or gas turbines, or anything else except hydoelectric dams, you can bring on the new capacity in stages. See this;


And as others will jump in and beat the point to death, I won't even get started on certain non-financial risks that are unique to nuclear power.

It's not technology that is the main nuclear problem, it's economics.

We were discussing EROEI, not economics, and the entirely fallacious notion that EROEI is going to hell in a handbasket.

Of course, even at present costs with no mass production, nuclear has competitive levelised costs with other forms of power, but perhaps we can stick to one fallacy at a time.

nuclear has competitive levelised costs with other forms of power,

Then why is -

- A Wisconsin nuclear power plant is going to be scrapped with 20 years left on it's operating license ? The owner has found that they cannot even give the plant away.

- The only new nuclear reactors under construction in the USA (beyond the 30+ year old one TVA is finishing) require MASSIVE subsidies from the US tax payers (it got wind/solar subsidies as a start, then billions more) AND additional subsidies from Georgia ratepayers (they get the privilege of paying for it as the plant is being built - however long that may be - and despite getting zero MWh for their payments).

To quote the President of Entergy Nuclear (one of the major nuclear power plant owners & operators in the USA) "New nuclear power plants just do not pencil out. I wish that they did, but they simply do not".

To quote the old Packard slogan "Ask a man that owns one".

Or a dozen.


To quote the old Packard slogan "Ask a man that owns one".

Perhaps the Edsel might be a better analogy >;-)

If the focus is entirely on producing cheap power than of course coal and NG will be chosen over nuclear. It would be a different story if there was a carbon tax on FF (yes, I know that is extremely unlikely in the US). Low NG prices also make nuclear uneconomic but the current low prices are not sustainable and the claim by gas companies that there is a 100 year supply is a load of bull.

In Ontario, there has been more of a lobby to get rid of coal generation to reduce air pollution. The government claims to be doing that by promoting green energy but in reality it has been the addition of NG generating capacity and refurbishment of nuclear reactors that has had the greatest impact on reducing coal fired generation.

Not all "National Sacrifice Areas" will volunteer.

And there is a bit of bitter irony in my analysis.

Best Hopes for Conservation,


I can't be bothered to respond to your anecdotal and unreferenced polemic, however on the subject of levelised costs:

EIA levelised costs for different energy sources:

Gas power is mainly a function of fuel costs.
Many here argue that the present price of US gas is unsustainably low, and that they would have to approximately double to be sustainably

They are a third of those in Europe, and a fifth of those in Japan, so the price estimates here for gas are anomolously low.

My claim was that there is no reason that low EROEI should stop civilisation, as that of nuclear is just fine.

On cost it is enough for nuclear to be in the same ball park as fossil fuels, or at any rate affordable.

It is, and furthermore levelised costs amortise plant over a much shorter time than a nuclear plant lasts, so over its lifetime power is far cheaper.

Amortised nuclear in the US is turning out power for 2 cents/kwh at the plant gates.

Facts are now - I can't be bothered to respond to your anecdotal and unreferenced polemic (quote by Dave W)


Dominion Resources Inc plans to shut its Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin next year, the first U.S. nuclear plant to fall victim to the steep drop in power prices as rising natural gas production makes some plants uncompetitive.


The Energy Policy Act of 2005

- it extends the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act through 2025

- it authorizes cost-overrun support of up to $2 billion total for up to six new nuclear power plants

- it authorizes production tax credit of up to $125 million total a year, estimated at 1.8 US¢/kWh during the first eight years of operation for the first 6.000 MW of capacity,[8] consistent with renewables

- it authorizes loan guarantees of up to 80% of project cost to be repaid within 30 years or 90% of the project's life [$8.3 billion for Vogtle, the two new US nukes]

- it authorizes $2.95 billion for R&D and the building of an advanced hydrogen cogeneration reactor at Idaho National Laboratory

- it authorizes 'standby support' for new reactor delays that offset the financial impact of delays beyond the industry's control for the first six reactors, including 100% coverage of the first two plants with up to $500 million each and 50% of the cost of delays for plants three through six with up to $350 million each for

- it updates tax treatment of decommissioning funds [loophole]


Georgia is a state that supports “construction work in progress” or CWIP. It means Southern can come submit a rate case to the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) for reimbursement of costs as the reactors are being built.


Everybody's going to price the risk differently," Leonard [head of Entergy Nuclear, which owns & operates 12 nuclear power plants] said. "When we price the risk appropriately ... the numbers just don't work."

"I've wondered how Southern -- how anybody -- makes the numbers work. Sitting on the outside looking in, they have some reason we don't see," he said.


PS: I think the answer is that Southern Company - the company building two new nukes @ Vogtle - has shifted most of the risk & some of the costs onto the US Gov't and Georgia rate payers.

{sigh} such a waste of time.



It is sort of sad to see you fall for this. DaveW/r4ndom/Jeppen spews without reference as a matter of course. All of your data and arguments will then be ignored, even if acknowledged, and the spew repeated exactly again in future. This operational reality is then projected upon others as "your unreferenced arguments" and "ignoring".

The only value in responding is in trying to counter the spew. But the spew is endless and multi-sourced... this is how the method works. Look at the Limbaugh/Hannity/Savage/Etc engine.

It is a good cause.

"Best hopes"


I actually think this sort of rational dialogue that Alan is valiantly conducting is what makes TOD great. DaveW may well be R4ndom and Jeppen at times. You don't present any evidence or even reason why you believe this. I do think he/she has a weak rhetorical style and is a bit too rude and condescending.

However, the objective of TOD, and I assume Alan, is not petty point scoring versus DaveW, but educating and convincing the greater TOD audience, which I think is being accomplished.

Quite frankly, I think many of your posts are also emotional, biased, and unsourced political comments that. I won't call them spew, but am not sure sure you could come up with a filter that could distinguish them from DaveW's except that he is on one side and you the other. The spew cycle you describe does seem to apply equally to a wide range of topics here some of which I suspect you don't mind at all.

I also do think many of your posts are excellent, but these tend to be when you stick to science and not politics.

I know that a lot of people seem to think that there are three camps of people: the evil, the enlightened (themselves obviously), and the sheep. Anyone who disagrees with their orthodoxy must be evil and should be silenced so that they don't compete with the enlightened.

I see the world as having a lot more grey area. People can disagree, argue, and even change their minds and the minds of others. In my view shouting down those who think differently is a far greater threat to TOD than letting all opinions be heard.

This is especially clear in the current example, in which I think Alan is prevailing.

I don't agree with DaveW at all, but am appalled at the sheer number and emotion of the TOD consensus enforcers that have tried to silence him. I reference John Stuart Mills below as evidence of how damaging this behavior is to the search for truth and the value of TOD.

Mill argues that free discourse is a necessary condition for intellectual and social progress. We can never be sure, he contends, that a silenced opinion does not contain some element of the truth. He also argues that allowing people to air false opinions is productive for two reasons. First, individuals are more likely to abandon erroneous beliefs if they are engaged in an open exchange of ideas. Second, by forcing other individuals to re-examine and re-affirm their beliefs in the process of debate, these beliefs are kept from declining into mere dogma. It is not enough for Mill that one simply has an unexamined belief that happens to be true; one must understand why the belief in question is the true one.


Either you argue objectively or you get out of the discussion.

"Alan is valiantly conducting"

Yes, absolutely.

That is why I added/reflected/referenced his "best hopes" salutation.


I do not think it is a matter of shouting down opinion but one of having to continually counter the spew of misinformation. The solar situation in Germany is repeatedly addressed, for example, with flippant, unreferenced, and dismissive assertions that are then countered, repeatedly, by people from Germany like Ulenspiegel who provide links. The assertions are disproved, acknowledged, and fought back one-by-one... and then are simply reissued a few days later.

This "big lie" technique of repetition takes effort to counter. A current example are the assertions that Chrysler/Jeep and G.M. are moving production to China. These have elicited strong responses to the contrary from these two corporations in trying to counter communications delivered via corporate media conglomerates with ten thousand voices... an interesting spectacle. The assertions were simply reissued.

GM, like Chrysler, refutes

I am not completely unsympathetic. I also hate Illinois Nazis, but you gotta let them protest, unless you are John Belushi.


I think the solar discussion here is replete with misinformation on both sides. I would also love to be able to see some discussion in which an enlightened moderator can reach in and point to each error. But the reality is that discovery is ugly and that partisans can not be counted on to point out the errors of the other side.

The solar debate is really quite simple, in my view. Solar at its current stage of development requires subsidies to compete with existing power sources in any circumstance and more subsidies as its share of production goes up (as back becomes more important). Using conventional measures, solar delivers a lower quality of power at a higher price.

There is a strong argument for changing the measures (to include externalities such as carbon) and for subsidizing less competitive power sources, of which solar is just one.

But the solar proselytizers want to claim that none of this is true, that solar is perfect, and that they only possible reason for opposing any possible solar plan is mendacity.

Anti-solar proselytizers (of which there seem to be few, by the way) hype the problems, point to worst cases, and disagree with subsidizing alternatives.

But this is how humans work. Sausage making is ugly. But the only alternative is Jediwelder's high priests (or yours), who will ensure that no one speaks out of line.

I think there are arguments in favor of and against nuclear. My opinion is that the against are stronger. But I could be wrong.

I also think there are arguments for and against large government directed and subsidized solar programs. My opinion here changes with scale. I think we would be foolish not to subsidize any solar, but we would also be foolish not to realize their are diminishing returns and increasing costs with scale and there is a right amount now that is not 100% or even 50% of capacity.

I am trying to get a better understanding of solar and to refine my position. I am sure a lot of others are too. And I can assure you the solar ideologues are convincing no one but themselves.

So, let's let the discussions of solar roll.

By the way, I think there are about 20 topics on TOD that are nuts, based, misdirected, and/or a waste of time. But we are gifted with a great moderator in Leanan, and I am happy to leave it to her.

At some point, I will dig through The End of Faith and find the section where Sam Harris discusses religious communities treatment of apostates and the role that plays in enforcing conformity in religion and other ideologies. A lot of people here should read it and look in the mirror.

Solar was an example in a larger discourse.

The post responded to initially included the wording:

The value in responding is in trying to counter the spew.

It is a good cause.

"Best hopes"

At some point, I will dig through The End of Faith and find the section where Sam Harris discusses religious communities treatment of apostates and the role that plays in enforcing conformity in religion and other ideologies. A lot of people here should read it and look in the mirror.

While you are at it you might want to listen to this short talk by Jonathan Haidt - Beyond Belief 2007.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting that anyone should be looking in the mirror, just that it might help to understand our cognitive processes in general terms. Furthermore our innate sense of morality, i.e. how we perceive the harm our actions may or not be causing others in our extended communities and the consequences of such actions are spread over a spectrum depending on whether or not we as individuals fall into the liberal or conservative camps.

In very simplistic terms we might say that Liberals are anti nuclear whereas Conservatives are pro... but listen to Jonathan and who knows both camps might be somewhat enlightened as to why that might be the case, hint, he argues that conformity and religion just happens to be one evolutionary manifestation of this!

Though my point is both camps need to get past their innate biases and examine the facts for what they are and as a society we need to make decisions for the common good based on the underlying science! IMHO Conservatives are 100% WRONG and Liberals (like myself) are 100% RIGHT!! >;-)


Edit: an updated version of Jonathan Haidt's talk.

My two cents: Liberals think the Pro nuclear folk are 'Free Riders' of the commons... Conservatives are trying to make them toe the line for the benefit of larger group...

Thank you for your kind words - and superb analysis by several.

The debate, from my perspective, is for both the larger audience and myself.

In the case of nuclear power, seeing the Fukishima reactors going off like popcorn shook my world view - as it should any rational person.

I still see the nearly existential threat of Climate Chaos and GHG - and nuclear power is a very flawed tool to slow that and reduce the maximum. This is a conundrum that requires thought. Thus my very limited support for uneconomic nuclear power in the right places - Vogtle in Georgia being one. I think that those that disagree with that position (a majority here) will at least respect the judgment call I make.

I prefer not to shout down "bad ideas", but I will join in shouting down "bad manners". There is a level of comity and decorum that TOD has that should not be debased. Crowd enforcement is, IMO, an acceptable means of preserving that.

I thought several times about using "ludicrous" in the debate with DaveW, and did so only because he used it first. Otherwise, I would have used a less inflammatory description.

There is also the underlying issues of credibility and "social capital". I comment on more than one topic here, and a misleading or false statement in one arena carries over to other areas.

None-the-less, I can be quite cutting in my remarks and I do not see that as a fault (although others have told me privately that they do). Sharp debate can slice through weak arguments - and better engages the greater audience (IMHO).

Best Hopes for Reasoned Debate, and Learning for All Involved,


The Oildrum is a popular forum. At this point its pretty safe to assume that it is being monitored by at least one organization that employs the following techniques of forum disruption:

The Gentleman’s Guide To Forum Disruption

How to Spot – and Defeat – Disruption on the Internet

Many people "thinking differently" on public forums aren't thinking differently but are trying to disrupt discussion. A key point to consider is that this thread wasn't about nuclear power and yet here we are reading the same tired and discounted arguments about thorium reactors, dismissal of the threats of nuclear waste, and the standard "too cheap to meter" trope that nuclear apologists have been presenting for 70 years now.

"Objective" arguments are a dime a dozen and throwing a couple of supporting links into a post is a trivial exercise. DaveW's posts have been designed to inject nuclear industry cheerleading into multiple drumbeats. He does not address glaring flaws in his arguments and he responds with standard strawman arguments. A few from this thread are below:

Whatever the victories for Greenpeace may be in the West, proving beyond doubt the defects in teaching basic science, elsewhere in the world where the demand for energy is growing nuclear continues to grow fast.

The obvious implication is that Greenpeace is a product of scientific ignorance. These people most likely disagree with that characterization.

Since renewables simply do no work save in the case of solar in the tropics that is hardly surprising

Completely unattributed statement, but absolutely not the first time DaveW's made the statement. He repeats essentially this line in any discussion detailing solar or wind power. The statement has been rebutted multiple times and yet, like clockwork, it sneaks into each discussion, the lie repeated until it becomes truth.

What DaveW is engaging in is not rational discourse. If you don't see how its undermining the level of discussion on the board, so be it. But I absolutely understand the sentiment of the "consensus enforcers" with respect to DaveW. He has not addressed the enormous expense of nuclear power despite having multiple opportunities to make a referenced argument about how nuclear can compete economically. He has not adressed concerns about waste disposal/long-term management of disposal sites. He has not addressed the interaction of industry with regulation and its deleterious effects on oversight and safety engineering. He has had ample opportunity to do so.

Until such time as his responses begin to address criticisms of his arguments with facts, he should be called out by the members of this board. If he was using the same discussion technique as he is using now to discuss flat-earth theory or young earth creationism, would you be as prone to point out the faults of the consensus enforcers?

That describes the situation quite nicely.

You're doing this for the lurkers Alan. Remember that. Keep up the good work!

Ontopic re. the argument that a nuclear power plant can be cheaply run because uranium is cheap:
Assuming that these old plants have been completely paid for or written off means that there are no or little capital costs involved in running that plant. When an operator cannot operate a reactor commercially viable when it's largest cost is nullified then there is something deeply flawed in the 'nuclear power is cheap to run' argument.

Unconventional fossil fuels, and other low EROEI sources, cannot ultimately sustain a society complex enough to produce them.

Not to gratuitously pile on, but this is a beautifully succinct and hugely significant argument, which has a high likelihood of being true.

Thanks, good to see you posting today.

Stoneleigh quote: Unconventional fossil fuels, and other low EROEI sources, cannot ultimately sustain a society complex enough to produce them.

While I suspect that this statement is true in overall result, I feel that it is badly misleading. Complexity is not the issue here, what is the issue is the unhealthy mindset that drives the destructive excessive complexities of our society. Somehow change the group mindset from competitive driven to a cooperatively driven one and the complexities would diminish so that low EROEI sources would become workable.

Of course I have not a clue about how to make this happen so making the assumption that is will not change seems reasonable except that it obstructs an important understanding that could bring positive change.

I have the same issue with Stoneleigh's conclusion there. Nothing personal, Nicole.

We have been using 'Complex Society' as a catchphrase that, like many other terms in common usage need a little more clarity and a few optional routes where they can be more clearly carried in a discussion.

Our Modern Industrial/Economic complexity is like a Nuclear Reactor, ISTM, which would be better described as 'Overbuilt and Convoluted and inherently Polluted' .. While we see Natural Systems, and some examples of human societal tools that reflect them, that are amazingly complex, but they would instead deserve the name of 'Intricate, Self-correcting and self-cleaning.'

I don't think the two are absolutely distinct realities, but like in so many things, we have (Complex) sets of balances of features from either end of that spectrum.

Complexity is not really the problem, IMO, as much as 'Good Design'.. or 'Philosophy and Geometry'.. as Ignatius P. Riley would put it. ("A Confederacy of Dunces")

I just did a very long reply ramble on the term "complexity", and mercifully decided not to post it.

But briefly, I do think that "complexity" is not sufficiently defined, even by Tainter.

I think that net energy, and thus EROEI, places strong constraints on the sorts of living systems which can exist. Given stability, one could see nuanced complexity even from very low net energy and usable resource systems as possibilities are explored and exploited, much as a rainforest does. But without that time and stability, at a time of rapidly shrinking net energy, things are likely to be less subtle, with human reality much more subject to threshold limits and hiatus. This will preclude many paths that may currently be described with plausible-sounding narratives.

The distinction of evolved intricacy versus temporary diversity from unconstrained energy-eating adaptive radiation is probably an important one.

Does the rise of U.S. shale oil mean fuel buyers can look forward to a multi-year period of crude price decline? Or is oil destined for new record highs above $150 a barrel?

What kind of stupid question is that? That is a false dichotomy. And (IMHO) the most likely path is down the middle . . . prices will remain around where they are (or a little higher) for a while. The prices can't drop because the various new systems become unprofitable (tar sands, tight oil, ultradeepwater) and they won't rise to $150/barrel because the tar sands, tight oil, ultradeepwater oil will provide enough oil for the demand at these prices.

"cannot ultimately sustain a society complex enough to produce them."

Remarked by Nicole. It just about says it all. We're not talking about ff for basic transport/heat/cooking etc. We are talking about a society that must wallow in energy availability to keep all parts of the system going. Interrupt that, and civil society, (if you want to call a police state civil), seems to me ripe to unravel. Furthermore, the survey assumes all oil producing centres will remain at peace and able to process.

Iran? KSA? Would you bet the farm on uninterrupted production? Nuts.


Amen, and amen, brother!

...because the tar sands, tight oil, ultradeepwater oil will provide enough oil for the demand at these prices.

Until a combination of ELM, population & GDP growth and depletion of the super-giant oil fields discovered in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s reduces the available oil more than "tar sands, tight oil, ultradeepwater oil" can offset - even with higher efficiency.


Oh I agree. But I think we have a few years of plateau. The slow economy is limiting population & GDP growth and thus consumption growth in the industrialized world. Depletion of old conventional oil fields will hurt but there is some growth in conventional oil in other places that will counter-act some of that. Iraq may grow a bit, west Africa, maybe those ballyhooed fields off Brazil, Libya with more western investment, etc.

One of the things that I've found quite noteworthy is that the concept of Peak Oil is much more discussed now, as the MSM can use something to shield itself from the arguments, no matter how paperthin.

Thus, with the whole "shale oil revolution" narrative, Peak Oil can enter the discussion(only to be dismissed, of course).

In 2010, you didn't have any discussion on it whatsoever in the MSM. Now the phrase all of the sudden pops out everywhere, only to(as I've pointed out) be rebutted directly.

The problem with this strategy, to only acknowledge something to destroy it, is that Peak Oil isn't a fluke nor will tight oil save the world, much less America.

What happens to the Very Serious People when the year is 2017 and oil prices in inflation-chained dollars are at very high levels and the only way forward is even higher prices?

Already having introduced the concept of Peak Oil to the masses, the genie will be out of the bottle. And people will think twice whenever they hear the soothsayers that time, as the last explanations didn't come out so well, merely prolonged the experience. Peak Oil is a longdrawn situation, not a single moment.

I think Gandhi's quote is applicable here:

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

We're definitely in the intellectual/idealogical fighting stage now. Unfortunately, peak oilers "winning" essentially results in the long emergency (at best) or collapse. That's why it's so hard to "advocate" for peak oil, cause nobody wants you to be right.

hard to "advocate" for peak oil, cause nobody wants you to be right.

A few of us, and I suspect Greenish would join me, hope the oil age winds down sooner rather than later. The planets future is more important than a few more years of happy motoring.

The Planet, will always have a future.....Humans, not so much.

Choose Wisely.
The Martian

The Planet, will always have a future.....Humans, not so much.

Ahhh... if it were that simple. Of course the planet will be here until the sun turns into a red giant and melts it. What matters right now is not rocks, dirt and oceans but life. Not just human life but all life. And we are on a course to destroy all megafauna on this planet.

When world civilization as we know it collapses, people will be hungry. They will kill and eat everything that they can kill. Then when all that is gone the human population will collapse. What's left of the world will be a desolate place indeed.

I expect there to be human survivors but not too many. They will lead meager and simple lives. After a few generations they will come to regard the rubble among which they live as the remains of cities built by the gods.

Ron P.

"They will lead meager and simple lives. After a few generations they will come to regard the rubble among which they live as the remains of cities built by the gods."

I just finished reading A Canticle for Leibowitz this past weekend. Basically the same storyline you're channeling here. Certainly seems possible.

I read A Canticle for Leibowitz many years ago. I don't remember a lot about it but I do remember that I did not like it. I think the book wound up with Catholicism being spread throughout the galaxy. I cannot think of a more horrible winding up.

Actually I plagiarized the line from David Price Energy and Human Evolution

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

Ron P.

That was not my interpretation.

The "monks" saved the old knowledge, not realizing they were sowing the seeds of the same future catastrophe that took down civilization the first time. The implication was that it would happen again and again. While some humans might escape earth, they take the seeds of future disaster with them.

Contrary to popular belief, science was invented in medevial christian Europe neot despite, but thanks to, the catholic church. I am thinking more and more that the invention of science was the most horrible thing the church ever did. Humankind simply was not mature enough to handle science. The theologicans who said that researching the laws of the Universe was Gods domain, and people should not fiddle with it, were right in my opinion.

I must agree that using technology measured in nanometers and picoseconds engineered from scientific inquiry spanning centuries is the perfect means of disseminating a doctrine of ignorance.

I have no idea what what you just wrote means.

Assuming Jediwelder is not being sarcastic, this comment is surely far worse then DaveW's attempt to promote nuclear energy.

DaveW is just getting a little infatuated with one of science's creations and seems to be ignoring some small elements of reality.

Jediwelder is impugning science, the scientific method, human aspirations, and maybe all of reality.

I have to guess you do have some sympathy for his skepticism regarding people's ability to think for themselves, however.

If you mean by science what is commonly held as either scientific enquiry and discovery in general, or the modern scientific method in particular, then you are quite mistaken. Many societies have actively encouraged scientific learning under different names, for hundreds of years before Christ, from the classical world, early Islamic world, and even the court of Ghengis Khan. Chinese discoveries were centuries ahead of the West, but these were not actively supported in their culture. Formal sceintific method is a product of the protestant reformation.

The implication was that it would happen again and again. While some humans might escape earth, they take the seeds of future disaster with them.

I am sure you are correct. I read the book when it was relatively new, perhaps 50 years ago. I have forgotten a lot since then. )-:

Edit: From Amazon.com:

In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz. From here the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes. Seriously funny, stunning, and tragic, eternally fresh, imaginative, and altogether remarkable, A Canticle for Leibowitz retains its ability to enthrall and amaze. It is now, as it always has been, a masterpiece.

I was a young man, in my mid 20s, when I read this book. At the time I was completely unaware of the destruction humans were bringing to the world. Pity! If I had only read it a decade or so later after I read "Silent Spring", "The Population Bomb", "The Closing Circle" and all those other books I read in the following decade then I would likely have been more cognitive of the message the author was trying to deliver.

Ron P.

This reminds me of a short scifi story about a second wave of colonists arriving at a planet only to find no-one present, but for howling of simians in the distant trees. It dawned on them slowly that what happened to the first wave was that their arrival had sparked a heretofore unknown human/animal ability to evolve quickly, in this case within a first generation, to what would be compatible with the planet - in short - the simians were actually the colonists offspring!

Kind of in the spirit of the Twightlight Zone, see you arrogant second wave colonists, your arrogance is going to turn your kids into monkeys!

After a few generations they will come to regard the rubble among which they live as the remains of cities built by the gods.

Ron P., from where we stand at today, this is hard to believe. We will never know.

I think it will more likely be ... cities built by the devils that cursed our world


I think it is quite possible that no humans will survive. The natural fate of species is extinction, and large bodied animals like us typically don't last long. Life will continue, of course, but the earth's history has some pretty drastic resets.

B..b..b..b..but surely we're different! We're, like, smart and all! :-/

Yeah. The yeast are still around, and we're smarter than them. I think.

I scratched my PO book project, and am now working on one on theology and ecology instead. The second last chapter will be titled "The kiss of death - how do we handle the insight that the planet will die". I now consider it unavoidable, unless someone whipe out humankind with a virus or something.


Are you familiar with the writings of Wendell Berry? He wrote some interesting essays trying to reconcile Christianity with ecology/environmental-caring.

No I am not. Would be interested in reading some, very little literature exist on that front. I'm not gonna read any either till I am done writing. No point in repeating Wendells words in my book, wich I undeniably will if I read during writing.

To the american readers it may be apt to point out that beeing a christian and anti-enviornment is a near exclusive US phenomena. The rest of us think it is a bad idea to destroy what God created.

I have great respect for Wendell Berry and consider myself to be well aware of his writings (both prose & his poetry).
That said, I was not aware that some of his writings have a Christian bent. Perhaps this has emerged during the past decade (most of the books, etc that I have from him are from the 70s, 80s and 90s).

Wendell is particularly memorable in the 1980s film called "Promise of the Land" which was aired on PBS as part of their American Experience series with David McCullough.
If I were forced onto the proverbial desert island and could take only one hour of video, that film would be probably be my first choice: it hits all sorts of issues from Jeffersonian democracy to the fragility of ecological systems.
A superb documentary, and Wendell contributes a good deal of wisdom to it.


Berry has always had a Christian undercurrent to his work and writings. It very seldom came out as such, but there are a couple of his essays where he was quite explicit about it - applying his understanding of Christianity in condemnation of the status quo. Don't have a reference ready to hand, but will try to find it tomorrow. I've even taught it in college classes - have to look through my notes.

It must be said, his Christianity was more Zen than orthodox... and he wasn't pushing any agenda. I'm not Christian myself.

Full disclosure: I am a huge admirer of Mr. Berry, and consider him a National Treasure.

I never really caught a Christian undercurrent, perhaps religious, or historical reference points in his Port Williams trilogy. His writings were primarily agricultural, his essays, such as the "What are people good for?" and the "Gift of Good Land" collections, stressed work that increased human well being and land fertility. He came from a rather famous group out of Wallace Stegner's work at Stanford. But it's been a long while since I read him.

The Christian undercurrent is subtle, but there. And at least one essay explicitly explores a Christian theme. Let's see if I can locate it...

OK, found it in a collection called "Art of the Commonplace". Part V of this book is actually titled "Agrarian Religion". In the four essays gathered in this section, religion and Christianity figure large, and one of the essays is actually titled "Christianity and the Survival of Creation".

More than an undercurrent in that one ;-)

There are some wonderful, albeit very underspoken Christians out there doing some simply brilliant work. Some of the brilliance is tied directly to their undidactic and nonconfrontational approach to their faith, and how little they put it in your face.

It might seem to some that this would be 'Poor PR' for their brand of the faith.. but of course, that message really only has much purchase with those who look at Evangelism AS 'PR' in the first place. But unfortunately, it does leave a lot of people only aware of the Loud and Offensive type.. hence the riled outbursts against the whole of Christianity that we get here and in so many places.

As is said in the Tao Te Ching (?) I believe..
"Work without taking credit"

The natural fate of species is extinction, and large bodied animals like us typically don't last long.

But we are not your normal large bodied animal and there is good reason to believe that we will not have the same fate as other large bodied animals. Unlike other such animal we currently occupy every habitual niche on earth. Unlike other such animals our numbers are hundreds to thousands of times greater than any other wild animal that ever existed. Example: The total number of all other great apes in existence, combined, are estimated to be about 200,000. The human population grows by that much every day!

The reason any one species ever went extinct, except for global catastrophes of course, was that they were driven into extinction by their competition or their predators. Or they were unable to adapt to climate change. Can you see competition from other species ever driving humans into extinction? Will any other species ever take over our territory or resources? Will humans survive climate change? I think they will.

Indeed there may be reasons to believe that we will one day go extinct. But comparing us to other animals is not one of those reasons.

Ron P.

Climate change is what I was thinking about. It's possible temperatures would rise so high humans could not survive without air conditioning. So the question becomes...can you foresee a future where we no longer have air-conditioning? I can.

If we warm the Earth enough, humans may find that reptiles might become the dominate species. Especially if humans go thru a die back to a much lower population and must also abandon certain areas that are not too hot and humid. Evolution might result in larger species of reptiles appearing, given enough time with warmer conditions. Without our fossil fueled technical advantages, who knows what might happen next to humans in the new wild lands?

E. Swanson

Yes I can see a future where we no longer have air conditioning and I don't see that as a killer of all humanity. I was in Saudi Arabia from 1980 until 1985. At that time, still a large percentage of the population there had no electricity. And many lived in shacks with corrugated tin roofs. They survived. I grew up in rural Alabama and we got electricity when I was about 9 but never had air conditioning before I left home at about age 19. I never heard of anyone dying from the heat.

Anyway there are many hot places on earth where the majority of the population do not have air conditioning, and they survive. Also there are many places on earth where air conditioning is not even needed and where millions survive today.

From your link: "We found that a warming of 12 degrees Fahrenheit would cause some areas of the world to surpass the wet-bulb temperature limit, and a 21-degree warming would put half of the world's population in an uninhabitable environment," Huber said.

And the other half would still be habitable.

Climate change may wreck havoc with civilization as we know it but it will not come close to driving humans into extinction. Climate change, along with diminishing natural resources will, I believe, cause the collapse of all the world's economies. The food supply will drop like a rock and so will the population. But there will be survivors. And those survivors will adapt to a leaner and much meaner world.

Ron P.

No, it would not cause instant human extinction. But it would mean the population is not as widespread, and that could lead to extinction. Those smaller, separated populations would then be more vulnerable to other stressors - disease, famine, etc.

And there's more to it than temperature. As Greer points out, we need plants for more than just food. We can't breathe without them. Oxygen levels plummeted after the Cretaceous, perhaps because of the mass dieoff of plants. The lifeforms to survive that mass extinction were mostly small creatures who could hibernate or otherwise enter stasis (seeds, spores, etc.), or that fed off detritus (which was no doubt plentiful).

Well I would never deny that some kind of global catastrophe could cause humans to go extinct. But you were comparing us to other large animals and drawing a conclusion from that. Other large animals have gone extinct while some other large animals thrived. That will not happen to humans. If everything goes then quite obviously we will go also. But we will not go while any other megafauna thrives.

Only a global catastrophe that destroys all life above the mouse stage will cause human extinction. Or perhaps a few rats may also survive. ;-)

Ron P.

But you were comparing us to other large animals and drawing a conclusion from that.

And I stand by that conclusion. For example:

Large mammal species live harder, die out faster

Recently, a team of researchers from Finland, Norway and the US has found that larger mammals seem to evolve more quickly than smaller ones – but the reason isn’t body size, per se. Rather, the scientists found that some smaller mammals have the ability to hibernate, burrow or hide in other shelters. In doing so, they effectively sleep through harsh environmental changes.

Larger mammals, on the other hand, must endure the hard times when there’s little food or extreme weather. Their large size constrains them from digging burrows or lowering their metabolic rates for extended time periods.

I think it's a mistake to assume we are not like other animals.

I think it's a mistake to assume we are not like other animals.

Leanan, every other species that ever went extinct, from other than global catastrophe, went extinct because of competition for food or territory form another species, or from predators. That is the difference between us and other animals.

If you believe that some other species may take over our territory and food supply, or eat us, then you are correct, we will go extinct for the same reason other large animals did. Otherwise...

Thank you for the exchange of opinions.

Ron P.

As far as HIV or the Spanish Flu virus are concerned, humans are territory. And they came close to destroying their own environment, like we are doing.

They came close? No, they did not even come remotely close? 3.6% of the world population died from the Spanish Flu. That is not close to 100%. (The Black Death came much closer.) And there were people immune. There are also people immune to the HIV virus. There are always people immune. That is why any pandemic may wreck havoc with the population but not likely to ever reach 100%. We all have different DNA and just by chance there will be many immune.

We are indeed destroying our own environment. But we are talking about total extinction here. We would have to destroy it all for there to be total extinction. If we destroy it all, then that would be a global catastrophe and everything would die. I accept that that could happen. But humans will not go extinct unless almost everything else also goes extinct.

We are talking about humans going extinct for the same reason other megafauna went extinct in the past. That is not going to happen. It is not going to happen because the reason other megafauna went extinct does not apply to humans. That is the loss of territory to other species or extinction because of predators.

Ron P.

The Spanish flu was highly infectious but not very lethal, BTW many of the people were not killed by the virus but by secondary bacterial infections (pneumococcus and other), this effect would be dramatically reduced by antibiotics today.

The Spanish flu was highly infectious but not very lethal, BTW many of the people were not killed by the virus but by secondary bacterial infections (pneumococcus and other),

And killed by overreaction of their immune system. Therefore so many young adults died.

I can certainly imagine predation doing it, at least if you think insects eating our crops, or a plant disease taking out much of our food supply. The most dangerous predators/herbivores are often the smallest.

Leanan, every other species that ever went extinct, from other than global catastrophe, went extinct because of competition for food or territory form another species, or from predators. That is the difference between us and other animals.

I could not disagree more. It's not only competition between species that drives evolution and extinction. A changing natural environment is at least as important. And it does not have to be a global catastrophe (though I believe that is what we are facing).

Peak oil is probably not an existential threat to Homo sapiens. We evolved without fossil fuels and can probably continue without them. But climate change...that threatens to turn the earth into a world we have never existed in...did not evolve to exist in.

Peak oil is probably not an existential threat to Homo sapiens. We evolved without fossil fuels and can probably continue without them. But climate change...that threatens to turn the earth into a world we have never existed in...did not evolve to exist in.

Rise of temperature will not be the direct cause of extinction. So then because of indirect effects.
How far has the concentration of oxygen to drop for extinction ? Example: La Paz, Bolivia at 3640 m
The indirect effects of [CO2] rise ? Crops grow faster.
Changing weather patterns, more extremes, like what just happened in the U.S. ? Doesn't drive Homo sapiens to extinction.

A changing natural environment is at least as important.

Yes, if thinking on catastrophes like eruption of a supervolcano and the impact of a big meteorite.

5,950 m seems to the human limit, though I'm not sure if it's pressure or oxygen percentage that's fatal.

But extinction is rarely about every member of a species dropping dead at once. Even the dinosaurs survived that asteroid strike for a little while. It's just increased stress on a population, making it harder and harder to maintain their numbers against food shortages, disease, and an increasingly hostile environment.

As Jared Diamond has pointed out, the end may not be very dramatic. It might just be a population that has dwindled to only a few individuals who are so old or so isolated or so closely related that reproduction is not possible.

Above 5000 meters the partial pressure of oxygen is only half what it is at sea level, so human respiratory systems are rather stressed to supply enough oxygen. However, people do live their entire lives at 5000 meters, although not everyone can do it, and the people who do show genetic adaptations that improve their altitude adaptations.

In the Himalayas, people herd yaks rather than cattle at high elevations because they handle the low oxygen levels much better. They claim that yaks cannot live at low elevations, but there are yaks living at sea level in North America, so I think the true explanation is that cattle can handle third word diseases much better than yaks even if they can't handle extreme elevations.

Above 8000 meters is known as the Death Zone because the human body cannot repair itself and human beings suffer a slow deterioration that ends in death. At the top of Mount Everest, 8,850 meters, the partial pressure of oxygen is only 1/3 of what it is at sea level, so only a few people can function without supplementary oxygen. However, some birds fly right over the top of Mt. Everest at 3,000 metres higher, so obviously bird respiration systems are much more efficient.

and the people who do show genetic adaptations that improve their altitude adaptations.

There are physiological adaptations too, such as increasing one's hematocrit, various changes that facilitate the delivery of oxygen to actively respiring tissues, and making more capillaries over time.

Human adaptability to altitude varies quite a bit though. Some people can never live at 3,000 metres, whereas others such as my wife will be running around and jumping up and down at 6,000 metres. I'm sure it follows a normal distribution curve.

For people who live at 5000 metres it becomes something of a survival issue, because children who can't adapt to the altitude aren't going to live very long. People such as the Incas and Sherpas who have lived at such elevations for generations have genetic mutations which improve their high altitude capabilities, and interestingly the are different mutations for different groups of people.

There are physiological adaptations too, such as increasing one's hematocrit

And there is exogenous EPO :-(

"Rise of temperature will not be the direct cause of extinction. "
Why not?

Just one example:
If you're an isolated species living high on a mountain because lower on the mountain the temperatures are too high and the temperature is increasing then this species at some point will run out of mountain to migrate to. They can't escape any higher then the top (Ohlemuller R. et al. (2008) The coincidence of climatic and species rarity: high risk to small-range species from climate change.)

Similar things happen to extreme northern species that migrate north until they reach the Arctic ocean. Then what?

The move to the poles and up mountains is already ongoing (Huntley, B. (2007). Limitations on adaptation: Evolutionary Response to Climatic Change?).

Those smaller, separated populations would then be more vulnerable to other stressors - disease, famine, etc.

Strange. I could've sworn that smaller, more isolated groups were *less* vulnerable to disease (what with new diseases being unable to spread easily due to the isolation) and famine (due to the fact that their small numbers meant they could pack up and move to a different location when the local food supplies went low), at least prior to the Industrial Revolution. There certainly are other stressors, but I can't imagine any that people haven't learned to cope with (short of extremes that would probably kill off virtually all life on the planet in less than a decade). So I wouldn't think that merely being in "small and isolated groups" alone would make us more vulnerable to extinction unless the survivors were restricted to a single environment in a limited geographic region (say, Jungles in Southeast Asia, to pick somewhere at random).

There was a study that came out recently that found that the most important thing is the amount of territory a species is found over. Not the number of individuals, but the size of their range.

I recently read in a news paper scientists figured out human capacity to make good decitions start going down already at 1000 PPM CO2. (So having those conferences and board meetings in closed crowded rooms may not be wise.) We ad 2 PPM ever year and is close to 400. Sure, that gives us 300 years, but that is at current speeds. At some time we will reach the point where we are to warm to work, and to CO2 poisoned to think. And that is comparing to our current thinking skills...


It does seem to be that we are creating a world very different from the one we evolved to live in, and that may cause problems we do not anticipate.

I don't think we'll be extinct by 2050, but it's not completely impossible. We do not fully understand what is happening. Maybe it won't be as bad as some fear...but it's also possible it will be much worse.

And despite our cleverness, we aren't smart enough to make our own environment. We've tried - for example, Biosphere 2. The main thing I took away from that experiment is that it's far harder to maintain a biosphere that it seems. They had to inject oxygen, because levels dropped so low it it was causing dangerous health problems.

If we had unlimited resources, we'd probably master it eventually. But resource limits seriously dampens my hopes for future technology.

In That experiment, the concrete was the eater of the Oxygen, and bled off CO2. If they had made the place of Stone, or let the concrete cure for a few years, they would not of had that issue. I still like the concept of the place, but it wasn't big enough, and they didn't supply it with enough food groups and plant species and other issues.

Humans didn't need AC for a long time before we finally got it. We were able to Build Stonehenge with only stone and iron tools, we had spare time to do that, away from gathering food. I think you are forgetting all those things that we made out of stone, when we didn't really have to make anything out of it.

I don't think we will all die off, but we aren't being nice to the future generations either. It just seems so stark when you look out and see 100's of thousands of people living next door, and for 1,000's of years that was not the case. We are living in a rarified time and even the ability of me to type on a computer, is something My grandmother might not have understood.

Learn to coppice, and eat off the land where you live and maybe learn to sail, or make a boat out of a tree, or several. Sooner or later someone will ask you what it was like to have lived during these times. Tell them that you could see moving pictures on a box on your desk.


The russians built such an experiment too. They had CO2 shortage, and to much O2. Maybe if we built one of each next to another, and piped them together...

Fascinating. Can you provide a link?

I have notice that I do have some mild cognitive problems that seem to vaguely track smog, humidity and other atmospheric factors.

A camping trip, or a nice long dog walk, seems to reset things quite nicely.

It does seem like we've been making shockingly bad decisions recently, and many of them get made in overcrowded rooms, in urban areas, with bad air.

In talking about my home being high (and wondering just how high) overlooking Casco Bay, I discovered that we had a 180,000 barrel oil spill 'just down to the bridge there..' in 1996 (The "Julie-N") hit the Bridge,

" The impact of the tanker hitting the bridge caused a hole in the ship's hull that was more than 30 feet (9.2 meters) long. Oil instantly surged into the Fore River, with winds and ocean currents sending the oil upstream into marshes and estuaries. "

And I wonder what has been added to the Air, the Groundwater, etc over the last 16 years.. while our Neighborhood is also regularly enshrouded with the Pall of Bunker Smoke that accompanies the Tankers that still come through that channel to deliver unto us our daily Texas Tea.. probably a much more destructive forcing in our tender lungs!

17 Oct 2012: Elevated Levels of CO2 May Impair Cognitive Abilities, Study Says
Elevated levels of carbon dioxide in indoor settings can have a detrimental effect on decision-making abilities and work performance, according to a new study. In a series of tests, U.S. researchers exposed 22 healthy adults to different levels of carbon dioxide concentrations (600 parts-per-million, 1,000 ppm, and 2,500 ppm) in an office-like room. Under each condition, the participants were asked to take a computer-based test that measured their decision-making abilities. According to the findings, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives , the participants’ performance declined notably on six of nine tests when CO2 levels were increased to 1,000 ppm; performance declined substantially on seven of the tests when levels were bumped to 2,500 ppm.

Impact of CO2 on human decision making and productivity
4 Conclusions
The performance or decision making is at
marginal or even at dysfunctional level on some
of the important productivity measures,
especially at 2500 ppm – a typical concentration
found in many buildings.

Rooms full of breathing people make you stupid.

Again, this time with more graphs from the paper:
CO2 clouds the mind – from 1000+ ppm
Initiative, information utilization, basic strategy, and breadth of approach all head into the dysfunctional realms at 2500 PPM.

The original paper (it took three articles to find one with a functional link to this abstract):

Ventilation Rates in Schools and Learning Performance
Ventilated VS recirculated
The first graph shows the indoor CO2 levels peaking over 5000 PPM... so, yes, 2500 PPM is common enough indoors.
Classrooms A and B of this study are pretty much the same.
Tables one and 2 tabulate the conditions and the perception of those conditions for the ventilated and recirculated cases.
Table 3 shows improvement in error rates with fresh air.

No, no link. Swedsih paper newspaper.

MAybe if you google. I didn't care to investigate it, because my experience of overcrowded rooms seems to confirm their findings. I consider the result of their research to be absolutely believable.

Most species evolve into something else due to selection pressure from the environment or from other species. I think that's a more likely near-term (< 1 million years) fate for humans than outright extinction.

We are the most adaptable large animal ever. With very primitive technology humans lived everywhere from deserts to rain forests to the arctic. As long as we retain language and the ability to make and use tools we aren't going to go extinct. (unless we make the atmosphere completely unbreathable faster than we can evolve).

"We are the most adaptable large animal ever."

Too bad we haven't adapted to our remarkable ability to adapt :-0

Most species evolve into something else due to selection pressure from the environment or from other species.

I don't think that's true. There are many evolutionary "dead ends" - lines that leave no descendents.

Triceratops was once an extremely successful animal. It was, as Robert Bakker put it, the cockroach of the Cretaceous, representing 5/6 of large dinosaur fauna. But it left no descendents. The only line of dinosaurs to survive to the present day are birds, and they come from a very different line than the ceratopsians.

Yes, it was a mass extinction that did them in. But that might be what we're looking at. I don't think humans will survive if the rest of the earth is destroyed.

It's what Greer calls the Silent Running fallacy - that idea that humans can survive apart from nature.

This says humans (and most life on the planet) will be extinct by 2050 due to runaway global warming. Seems reasonable given what is currently happening.

Note the great Permian Extinction of 250 million years ago (95% of all species lost) is thought to have been caused by runaway global warming similar to what is currently taking place.

The archeologists of the future will have no difficulty identifying the 20th century in their digs from one thing that doesn't decay. The layer of porcelain shards with the distinctive contours of toilet bowls.

Although they will probably conclude they were some sort of altar or shrine.

Polymers do not decay either. Though ultraviolet rays do break them down, if you bury them they will literally last for hundreds of millions of years. A plastic milk jug left in the sun will be in crumbles after one summer. But if it is under one foot of earth it will be like new a hundred million years from now.

The thing I think about a lot when thinking about future archeologists are cemeteries and graves. Granite gravestones will leave markers that last longer than the pyramids and our bones in plastic, or concrete vaults will be preserved for just as long.

The age of exuberance may last for only a couple of hundred years but the record of our existence will last for as long as humanity exists.

Ron P.

And when all that is erased by the eraser of geology, there will still be... the moon lander, looking down at us from above. Must be comforting for an american to know that the man made item to last longest of them all was US made.

"Polymers do not decay either."

But they do not take heat very well. And even sedimentary rocks get hot if they are deep.

The toilet bowls and corelle will do much better. As will stainless steel. And the rectangular slabs of granite (countertops) in an otherwise sedimentary deposit will confuse the heck out of some future geologists.

Yeh, I've been re-reading Guns, Germs, and Steel. It occurred to me that one model for how we could end up is the Australian Aborigines. Per Jared Diamond, the Aborigines scraped along on a mostly sterile small continent with highly unpredictable weather, devoid of megafauna (except Kangaroos), shifting to wherever vegetation happened to be growing well. They proved highly adaptable when Europeans showed up, kicked them off the few good bits of land and exiled them to the central deserts.

That feels like the 'low point' of what could become of our complex societies. Any human being could perhaps see his/her way to happiness in that world, but it is not a world most of us would consciously choose.

A few of us, and I suspect Greenish would join me, hope the oil age winds down sooner rather than later. The planets future is more important than a few more years of happy motoring.

Yes, I officially join you.


Please pass the registration form so I can join as well!

I never really felt comfortable being a part of this:


I take you are hoping catastrophic collapse will come sooner rather than later. That way more of the natural world would be preserved.

Because of deeply mixed emotions I am keeping my wishes to myself. Actually I am not even sure what my wishes are. But it is some comfort to realize that there is not a damn thing I can do to change anything concerning the global big picture.

Ron P.

Well Ron, I'm anti-catastrophe. That is, I seek to minimize destruction and catastrophe.

And I tend to value things in the future just as I value things in the now. Thus, I think it is probably preferable to get a collapse over with while there are still other species, still fish in the sea and calcareous organisms, still a climate in which people can live. So the next million years can have children laughing and dolphins leaping, rather than their lack. A short-term societal collapse is a human catastrophe, while a wrecked planet with most megafauna gone and acidified oceans is a CATASTROPHE!

So being pro-human and pro-extant-species means wishing for the destructive overshoot to cease ASAP, even though it will be very unpleasant for humans to go through.

I disagree that there is nothing we can do. I would agree there is PROBABLY little we can do, but that's a different thing. There are degrees of freedom in the system, and it is not impossible in principle to steer things a bit. It's what I've spent my life training myself to do. Yes, I'll probably fail, but I think I don't deserve to just decide not to try, to indulge that free pass for myself.

I can sure respect where you're coming from. I have just succeeded too often in the past to feel entirely impotent. Mostly, but not entirely. I reject the comfort of accepting powerlessness. But i don't fault you for feeling as you do.


"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

We're definitely in the intellectual/idealogical fighting stage now. Unfortunately, peak oilers "winning" essentially results in the long emergency (at best) or collapse. That's why it's so hard to "advocate" for peak oil, cause nobody wants you to be right.

Yep. Although the sooner it happens, the less hopeless a collapse is likely to be. I don't expect my fellow capuchin monkeys to pay that consideration much heed, though. If one thing is certain, it's that no rational outcome concerning the far future (that is, more than a month away) will result from majority popular acclaim.

I always thought Gandhi was being a bit manipulative with that quote to minimize discussion of the likelihood of winning... there's a certain "Schrödinger's cat" disingenuosity to it, in that it was true for him but isn't true for most. "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you are beaten and left for dead" is a lot more common. (speaking as a career activist). (I win a lot, but it's by being sneaky).

Gandhi was quite the machiavellian.

'We band of brothers, we happy few.. Once more unto the breach!'

Sometimes, you gotta rally the troops. I don't think of that as especially manipulative, or at least it's a special brand of salesmanship similar to what the Ants must be humming as they go off to fight some devastating battles. We not only take it from accepted leaders, but we lead ourselves with the same mottos.

Of course there's no guarantee that 'we'll win', just because we worked hard and wanted to succeed really really bad.

..Anyone knows an Ant Can't, Climb a Rubber Tree Plant! (But he's got High Hopes..)

Oh, I approve of his rallying the troops. Well played, Gandhi!

But it's manipulative. That's not a bad thing. You work with the followers you've got, right?

I entirely believe in engaging the long shots, particularly with a world at stake. And I do it a lot like Gandhi... with a non-overt plan in mind. Just saying.

Greenie – You have an idea of how I view the situation. As I see it:” "First they ignore you”. And that’s it. Discussion over. IMHO it doesn’t matter if TPTB (and the voters who provide them with the P) voice agreement or not. In fact, I expect a good bit of lip service as the situation becomes more obvious. No different than how I handled my daughter when she was little: agree to do what she wanted...make some insignificant movement in that direction and then distract her with something more desirable. And obviously it should work with the majority of the public because they want to believe changes are being made as long as the real effort is to maintain BAU.

Yes…I have a poor view of mankind. And the history of the last few hundred years appear to support my position. Ages of enlightenment only last until the darkness appears IMHO.

Rockman, you and I have a lot of very similar opinions. I think I could convert you into a damn good activist again, careful or I will too...

My way of working is a bit more like "first, make SURE they ignore you. Then win." I cut out the awkward intermediate steps as much as possible.

I am not interested in evangelizing... been there, done that... I'm more into the "mission impossible" sort of scenario, where an unlikely-seeming goal is attained and consolidated quickly before the larger systems realize WTF happened. Then one makes it seem, in retrospect, that it was achieved by a mandate of the masses, and the masses agree, because everyone likes to take credit.

One needn't have a high opinion of mankind's deductive abilities to love 'em and care for 'em. It's a lot like raising hamsters or something, you just can't let them make their own decisions or they'll all end up in the sump pump for no good reason. (an early lesson I learned).

greenie - Maybe...if you can match my day rate I might "volunteer". LOL. I agree about not tryig to confront manipulators head on. That just allows them to focus their energy on the opposing force. They only way to win is to manipulate the manipulators IMHO. Logic and being in the right just isn't enough.

See, you're halfway to being an eco-jedi already.

Keep your day job, it's a great cover identity.

We have to see how shale plays out, how much it produces, how much it costs and how long it lasts. We were lulled by North Slope/North Sea oil in the 80s and 90s, but those declined eventually as well.

The EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report will not be published today. I got this via email:

Due to storm related delays the Weekly Petroleum Status Report will not be released on Wednesday as scheduled. At this time we're hoping to publish on Thursday depending on the extent of the storm damage and delays.

Ron P.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum
Reserve) decreased by 2.0 million barrels from the previous week. At 373.1 million
barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this
time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.9 million barrels last week
and are in the lower half of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories, and
blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories
decreased by 0.1 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average
range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 0.5 million
barrels last week, but remained above the upper limit of the average range. Total
commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 0.1 million barrels last week.

RE: Did Global Warming Contribute to Hurricane Sandy’s Devastation?

George Lakoff made a good point when he said we need to consider this question not in the context of direct causation but rather in the context of systemic causation, lest we experience disaster a la Groundhog Day.

Although I had become convinced of the causal mechanisms between GHG forcing and extreme weather events (drought, precipitation/flooding), thanks to the diligent work of climate researchers both in pursuing the science and in explaining it to laymen such as myself, I have been withholding judgement on links between GHG forcing and extreme events like hurricanes. In the absence of good data, climate scientists are reduced to educated guessing i.e., potshots, it seemed to me.

Until now:


Tidal gauge data indicates a clear link between storm surge and warmer ocean temperatures (the actual study is linked in the above blog, but I liked the blog's treatment). While high winds and heavy rain are impressive elements of hurricanes, storm surge is the most damaging element, and it turns out that's where we have the best data.

I think all the pieces are in place to link GHG forcing to many destructive elements of climate change, and that public opinion will be influenced as a result (maybe I'm being naive tho'). Denialism will wither and give way to the next stage: what the heck do we do about it?

I think all the pieces are in place to link GHG forcing to many destructive elements of climate change, and that public opinion will be influenced as a result (maybe I'm being naive tho'). Denialism will wither and give way to the next stage: what the heck do we do about it?

Essentially the point being that people need to get hit right between the eyes on GW with localized damage they can experience first hand to get it. That is an ongoing process until it hits a threshold, the hundredth monkey effect and you're right, the next stage is the question of what to about it?

The answer is a tough one because if we stop burning FF we shut down the economy, so there has to be a transition, but to what - 100% or at least predominant renewables? Also GW has momentum like a billion trains as added GHG's to the atmosphere increase heat trapped by the oceans, with a lag of 30-40 years until that updated weather hits. That momentum is why many climatologists are now saying we can't stop GW, instead we need to adapt to it. That's a pretty dire suggestion. It's like taunting a giant. A dare to go ahead and do your worst nature.

Another problem is that everything is so intertwined with the oil industry that it becomes difficult to disassemble. Ian Masters had an interesting interview about how the insurance industry is having to pay for global warming... yet the insurance industry is invested in oil.

"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"



"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.

This all reminded me of a "rat king" (Warning: rats):


Bloomberg Business Week magazine's cover story concerning what "caused" Hurricane Sandy is "It's Global Warming Stupid", criticizing the scientific community's lack of common sense articulation.

The "not exactly" meme injected into the discussion by deniers is criticized.

You can't even ask that question. All of us move storms around every day. Let go of a fart, and storm X move from location A to location B on the map, and a week back or forward in time. Called caos theory, or the butterfly effect. What does NOT change is the total energy balance of the atmosphere. If this guy in India did not scratch his belly button last year, the storm would not have happened, but the energy would still be there. And that energy would need to be released. Someone else would have to take it. Some other day.

So as you say, we can not look at the individual storm, but at the system level. And the new system we are changing to, well, they have these kind of storms. The old one did not.

Today in Minnesota we have have a bright blazing sun shining down on us thanks to no aircraft con trails. Talk about an extra load of solar energy hitting the earth. This is the brightest sun I can recall and reminds me of the post on global dimming and how it suppresses AGW.

I think the Steroid analogy is the best I've heard. We can't know if any particular one of Barry Bonds 72 homeruns were because of Steroid use, but we can bet the total would have been a lot less impressive without them.

My point is that it is entirely pointless in discussing if a single weather event is caused by CO2 emissions or not. If you cut down a tree, a year from then on you are 100% responsible for every weather event on the planet. They would have happened differently if you did not cut down that tree. Thus the only thing we can adress is the statistical trends. If storm frequency goes up by 20% for example, we can link that to emissions. Also we can see that the "roof" of what is possible moves upwards. The Russian/Pakistani drought/flood a few years ago is an event that was made possible due to changes in the climate system. But it was still caused by you, when you farted ten years ago.

Does "Reuters Point Carbon" count as MSM? This article currently appears within the general "top news" section of Reuters.

Climate and cost concerns mount in wake of superstorm

"This storm, taken into consideration alongside one of the most economically damaging droughts in the last century, alongside wildfires that reached catastrophic proportions in the west… really point to the need for members of Congress to start taking seriously the reality that climate change is already upon us," said Leurig.

And how about this, from Whipple's latest writeup:

We should give CNN some credit for the day after the storm they called an array of climate scientists to find out what happened. All of the scientists pointed a finger directly at global warming and noted that the problem was only going to get worse...

I lived at sea level in Southern CA from 1966 to summer 2012. Part of my neighborhood was actually below sea level with pumps to carry away rain and ocean water. Was always concerned about possible ocean rising. The highest water was in 1983 when there was a Pacific storm with maximum wave action occurring during high tide. Though AGW may be a factor with Sandy, I do not believe that coincidences are the result of AGW. The coincidence (1983 storm hitting at high tide) was not due to AGW. There have been several Pacific storms since that date with no ocean overflow. Fortunately there have been no Tsunamis in this area since before the 20th Century. Sandy had at least four coincidences, two arriving storms - maximum effect near high tide - during a full moon.

Increasing the energy and frequency of a system has the effect of increasing the energy and frequency of 'coincidences' within that system.

Climate is similar to a fission reactor: We're concentrating the fuel while removing control rods.

Ghung--I have a question which is tangential at best to this thread but you've posted knowledgably a number of times about domestic solar systems. I'm planning to solarize my home as much as I can, including heat and hot water. I read that PV is now more efficient overall, and can be paired effectively with a hot water heater, particularly since PV can be banked in batteries or by selling exess power to the utility in peak solar months, whereas hot water systems do not transfer the energy to wintertime. I live in Maine and this is a powerful consideration. Do you have any thoughts?

Hi agramante, I'm sure Ghung and maybe Jokhul will chime in but in the meantime you might want to read this:


Does Solar Power Really Work in Maine?

Solar panels, both solar thermal for hot water and photovoltaic for electric, absorb the sun’s radiant energy and change it into heat/power rather than collect the sun’s heat, which may be lacking much of the year. While New England has short days and cold temperatures in the winter, overall we still get a good amount of sunshine. It is the sun’s energy that is needed for solar power systems.

Since living on solar is all about concentrating a diffuse, intermittent energy source to do useful work, it's best to start with modifying requirements and expectations. Always start with the low tech stuff: Efficiency (insulation, caulk, etc, and passive solar.

As for PV, we always try to do things in this order: Charge batteries fully; use PV power directly when it's available and the batteries are near full charge (run dishwasher, do laundry, etc.); and in our case, any extra PV production gets dumped into the hot water tank via a diversion controller (senses voltage and sends PV energy to the water tank). Replacement DC heating elements are available for standard electric water heaters, and are near 100% efficient (virtually all of the excess electricity gets converted to heat). My prioritisation is actually counter-intuitive from an efficiency perspective, since charging batteries is the least efficient use of the electricity; one of the costs of being off-grid. If you are grid tied, your priorities may be different; it's a math problem. The cost of a hybrid system may not make sense under current economic conditions. I need to know more about your setup and expectations. Remember that any direct use of solar is essentially untaxed income when doing the math.

Hey Ag;
Are you coastal or inland? (Pardon, if you've told me this before..) Down here on Casco Bay, we have many bright, clear Jan and Feb days, so there is a lot of potential for solar inputs even in the dead of winter, be they thermal or PV collectors. I've got small amounts of both so far.

I'm only a few days into seeing my Thermal Mass setup running.. but I'm highly encouraged, and the Heat Pump part of the rig, which draws about 500 watts when running (and very little in phantom load) is feeding the 1.1 Ton water preheat mass at about 2kwh/day, as of these early readings.. so if you want a system that CAN be run from PV or Grid, this might be a good place to start. That is only an offset to help the DHW for the Seven Adults in the three Apartments in that building, but I'm sure it's putting in those calories far more cheaply than either the Oil Furnace or a typical Resistance HotWater Heater could.

I'm still also getting the Tank Fully insulated and sealed, so my running energy load on it won't be apparent for a while yet, and the Solar Inputs are still waiting to be added.. right now it's just the Heat Pump bringing it to a range of 90-100F before it goes to the Furnace Coil.

Hey Bob,

Our new Nyle has been in service for seventeen days now and during this time it has consumed a grand total of 27.95 kWh, or an average of 1.64 kWh per day. At 13.33-cents per kWh, that's just under 22-cents a day for our two person household. Generating DHW with our oil-fired boiler's side arm would cost at least seven times that at current rates. However, as previously noted, our dehumidifier savings cancel out our DHW costs in full, and then some, so our hot water is effectively "free" (we could double or triple our hot water demand and it would still remain "free" because it would simply offset a larger share of our dehumidifier runtime).

Our total household consumption over the past seventeen days: 186 kWh -- space heating, DHW, lighting, appliances, etc.; these same seventeen days last year: 323 kWh. Not all of the savings can be attributed to the Nyle, but it certainly deserves much of the credit.

On another note, our guys are wrapping up a retrofit of a warehouse, one segment of which is shown in the below. Light levels have more than doubled and the total connected load has been cut by two-thirds.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Pana.jpg

The original T12 lighting system is visible on the left side of this picture and the replacement T8 hardware on the right. The section that is still T12 has an unfair advantage in that a large roll-up door was open at the time this photo was taken; the contrast would be even more stark had that door been closed.

In the office areas we specified Lithonia volumetric parabolics fitted with 2-lamp F17T8s for, here again, a two-thirds reduction in load, i.e., 80-watts per fixture down to 26.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_1941.jpg


The lighting news there is a good reminder to finally deal with the 2-bank, 80w T-12s in the very same Laundry/Furnace room where my Nyle now lives. Of course, I'll probably do it with those Peel-n-Stick LED strips again, built into some pretty Cherry-Mahogany Stripbanks! I'm classy-grunge at heart!

Anyway, the Geyser seems to be running nicely in its limited PreHeat mode using essentially a KWH every 10 hours, or 2.4 per day. I'll probably try some tests at other setpoints.. and I've just hauled a 'Fake Chimney' up to the roof yesterday, which covers the old chimney whose shaft will provide Workspace, Piping and Comm's Access from Roof to the Furnace Room there.. so then I'll have my solar inputs to start weighing into the mess..

Hi, jokuhl,

Sorry for the delay--I just came in from offshore yesterday and the first evening home is always a hectic one.

We're inland, in Greenwood, near Norway, and not too far from Bethel. The house is on a hillside and faces almost due south, fortunately. We do have plenty of those clear winter days you mentioned. I've just started learning about heat pumps, as in, a few days ago. My thought had always been radiant heating, as it's very efficient (and uniquely comfortable for the feet), but I'm hearing that the heat pumps are a very good alternative (despite being advocated by Paul LePage). Getting to your answer and ghung's), right now I'm thinking of staying grid-tied simply because electricity--even Central Maine Power--isn't terribly expensive yet, and I'd rather wait as long as I can for technology to improve before sinking $20K or more in a big battery bank.

So it seems like what I'm reading is true--there are some extremely cost-effective ways to heat water with electricity. I'm pretty new to the vocabulary, and as soon as I talked to a ReVision Energy sales rep he began aggressively trying to sell me on a thermal system. I decided he's not the person I should be talking to just yet.

I wonder how solar PV driving a Nyle would work?


A- When I finally decided to install solar hot water, I largely used this article on the 7 types of solar water heating systems to arrive at the decision to go with the simplest, batch type - in our case ProgressivTube. I have lived with or installed for friends 4 systems in NC/VA, which make it through winters with temps down to 0 with no freeze probs. Trick is to superinsulate supply/return lines, incorporating them into the thermal mass of the collector. Obviously, it gets colder than that in ME. But if you heat with wood, that makes the perfect marriage with a batch heater. When freezing weather sets in, you drain the collector and get your hot water from a coil off the wood stove/furnace/boiler... In any event, I found the article helpful. Evac tubes may be a good way for you to go also, in your colder climate.

The worst case or extreme situations i.e., those where unfavorable factors are in alignment, are the ones that stand out - these are the situations that result in newsworthy records or damage. In practice, engineers make allowances in their plans based on historical data such that major problems are expected to rarely occur. Here, the intent is to achieve achieve a favorable balance between risk and cost. For example, 1 in 100 years is a common criterion for flood control measures. What we have been seeing is that extreme events are occurring with an improbably high frequency and/or historical records are being broken by large margins. In the case of Sandy, some of the observed water levels exceeded previous records by a full two feet.

It is possible to argue that our understanding of the relevant statistics and probabilities was faulty and that any given event amounts to nothing more than bad luck. Nevertheless, given what we know and understand about climate science, it would be really complacent to assume that the impact of human activities on the climate can be ignored without consequence.

I think a comment I posted on the Washington Post is relevant.

This "Frankenstorm" - half tropical and half winter storm - is an example of the Climate Chaos we face going forward.

Were the coastal waters not so unnaturally warm, Sandy would have either died or turned into a front.

Had not half the Arctic Ocean ice melted (all time low 5 to 6 weeks ago), the jet stream would have been stronger and 1) the jet stream would have turned Sandy out to sea and 2) the winter storm would have waited till "later" in the season.

Note: The jet stream is caused by the the temperature difference between the Arctic and Temperate zones and the rotation of the earth. A smaller temperature difference results in a weaker jet stream.

The weaker jet stream also means that whatever weather you get will stick around much longer. The weak jet stream will not shove a new weather pattern in as easily as in the past.

This year's drought developed in the Midwest to Oklahoma. A mid-summer dry spell is very common there. But this one just hung on for MUCH longer than in the past - when there was more Arctic Ocean ice and the jet stream was stronger.

Expect even more strange weather as Climate Chaos deepens.


"There have been several Pacific storms since that date with no ocean overflow."

It's hard to draw any conclusion about sea level effects of global warming on the Pacific coast because it is seismically active. Parts of the coast are going up, and parts are going down. When the Cascadia subduction zone lets go the beach will likely drop about 10 feet down just like last time.

Oceans are dangerous, it's best not to live near them.

All those coincidences add a little to the heights. The full moon added maybe six inches. Sea level rise to date added a few more inches. If your defenses are walls protecting lower areas beyond its an all or nothing thing, either your wall is tall enough, or the water rushes in. Very high sea surface temps, I wouldn't call that a coincidence. A fairly rare Greenland blocking high creating a negatively tilted low pressure trough, much more likely in years with low sea ice. Quite a setup for goosing the odds of an event like this.

I heard that the sea level rise to date was about a foot.

Sea Level Rise
New York Projections and Impacts

"Tide-gauge observations indicate that rates of relative sea level rise in New York State were greater than the global mean, ranging from 2.41 to 2.77 millimeters per year (0.9 to 1.1 inches per decade) over the last century."

"maximum effect near high tide - during a full moon." are one and the same. Tides are determined moon's position relative to the Earth. Full moon's occur when the moon is 170 to 190 degrees with respect to earth/sun alignment.

A new moon, 350 to 10 degrees, during the early afternoon would have been even worse..

With a blocking high pressure system over Greenland..
The hurricane meeting up with nor'easter was just a matter of time.

From CNN ... Experts warn of superstorm era to come

Superstorm Sandy was no freak, say experts, but rather a hint of a coming era when millions of Americans will struggle to survive killer weather.

"It's a foretaste of things to come," Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer told CNN. "Bigger storms and higher sea levels" will pile on to create a "growing threat" in the coming decades.

... In a paper published by Nature in February, he and three colleagues concluded that the "storm of the century" would become the storm of "every twenty years or less."

... The New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force translated that into a local projection of 2 to 5 inches by the 2020s, and with rapid ice melt, the rise could be as much as 5 to 10 inches over the next 15 years.

If that's not bad enough, future superstorms may threaten drinking water, too.

The current sea walls are about 4 to 5 feet above the average sea level. Many were built at the beginning of the last century. A New York Times article from August 1901 marveled at "The Massive Sea Wall Which Will Encompass Manhattan."

"It will be many generations, perhaps centuries, before the wall ... will have to be rebuilt or will even require any extensive repairs," the Times reported then.


Great links. Thanks. History has some very telling perspectives for us to ponder.

One way to save on fuel costs:

PARIS (Reuters) - Franprix has become the first French supermarket to reinstate waterway deliveries to the heart of Paris, with the aim of bypassing traffic-choked roads and saving costs.

Franprix, part of the Casino chain, is supplying 100 of its city centre stores via barges which are unloaded by crane on the River Seine near the Eiffel Tower, a short truck ride away from the shops.

The barges arrive daily from a warehouse to the east of Paris, bypassing the capital's traffic-choked ring-road and saving the retailer an annual 89,000 liters of diesel fuel.

The largest barges can carry 5500 tons.


Maybe we'll see more barges moving up the Mississippi River delivering goods in the future (I live within a mile of it).

Maybe we'll see more barges moving up the Mississippi River delivering goods in the future (I live within a mile of it).

If it does not dry out. There is no winning this game.

The Upper Mississippi River may have reduced draft in spots - but there is no geological evidence of the Mississippi River ever drying up. A massive swath of the United States would need to become a desert.

The scale of the Mississippi River is hard to fathom. Despite diverting 30% of the water upstream down the Atchafayala Basin, there are three navigation channels in New Orleans. Each one is 90 m wide and 30 m deep. And the water flowing outside the three channels is more than that flowing in the channels.


I didn't mean dry out as in dry to the bottom. Only that the levels go sligtly lower, and then barges can not be as fully loaded.

RE: For Years, Warnings That It Could Happen Here
When do we face reality and realize some coastal areas are going to have to be abandoned thanks to sea level rise and more powerful storms?


Interview: Amy Goodman with Jeff Masters. He SAID IT! Fossil fuels' "blowback" is why we cannot have "the discussion."

I think the fossil fuel industry is only a small part of the problem. In order to get out of the hole, it requires a change in lifestyle and infrastructure that is just too much to put on the table. The auto industry, the housing industry, the real estate industry, the finance industry (which depends on consumption in the other sectors), pretty much the entire game of American capitalism has to go to combat global warming.

What is there to say? Follow the logical consequences of the argument that fossil fuels cause global warming, and you end up with cutting off the head of the current American way of life. I think the right recognizes this and the left is deadly afraid of admitting it. So they agree to silence.

It's not the only issue like this - Washington state and Colorado may legalize marijuana (something that should have been done long ago). Notice anybody saying anything about this?

American politics has become the art of refusing to talk or act on any of the actual issues of the day.


"the fossil fuel industry is only a small part of the problem"

History has another point of view based on a century of data.

How we got here is important and how we get out of here is also important.

The fossil fuel industry is not helpful in either case.

Strictly speaking, the fossil fuel industry is the entire problem. But with the damage of a car-based and fossil-fuel based life style being obvious for longer than I've been alive (I was born in 1981), yet nothing being done... Well, the voters have spoken. Over and over and over. And like I said, they had their help from real estate agents selling suburbs to auto companies to the national government (the Eisenhower Interstate highways). Everyone made money off of it, which is why they don't want to kill it even though it is now killing us.

Other countries have successfully fought back the influence of the fossil fuel industry - even in Canada, as Rocky is quick to remind us. Or most of western Europe, or even Japan. The US is an outlier. There is no excuse for this.

You can only blame the pusher for so long. Though I agree, they certainly aren't helping. Why would they?

The problem is, it seemed like a good idea at the time, like a lot of things (fire, agriculture, institutionalized religion). No free lunch; no turning back.

I would have been inclined to believe that we are continuing to use large amounts of FF because that is what people want to do and not because of anything the FF industry is doing. However, I really find those tv ads from the FF industry quite offensive. The idea that the US can drill its way to energy independence and that there is a 100 year supply of natural gas are simply not true, and coal isn't clean just because they say it is. The FF industry is clearly trying to discourage people from considering how to move away from using FF. Too bad there isn't anyone with lots of money to put up counter ads.

Here's hoping there are no more "I am an energy voter" ads after Nov 6!

Ian Masters' guests offered that the insurance industry that pays for these new, more powerful and frequent storms and the politicians are quiet because they are invested in and by the oil corporations.


What do you do about real estate values? Most coastal areas, like here in Maine, are the prime locations with the highest value. Along this section a large amount owned by "people from away"

Multi-million $$ homes and pay a large percentage of the local towns tax base. What happens when the value drops to nothing?

Don in Maine

Then the valued lots move one property inland at a time!

(I'm looking right down at Casco Bay, but I'm about 75'-100' above it, so I get the wind, but not the waves!)

Sandy helps push gasoline prices lower

Gasoline prices are likely to keep falling after Super Storm Sandy shut down highways and air travel across the East Coast.

“We’re not going to see prices move higher because of this storm. We’re going to see prices move lower,” said Tom Kloza, oil analyst at OPIS. RBOB gasoline futures were down a half percent, at $2.62 per gallon in afternoon trading Tuesday.

Gasoline at the pump continued to decline, with the national average for unleaded regular $3.53, a penny lower than Monday and 11 cents cheaper than a week ago.


On behalf of Joe Sixpack, "Hooray!"

(Disclaimer: I am not Joe Sixpack.)

Methane hydrates found in EEZ

Methane hydrates, viewed as a next-generation energy source, have been found under the sea in two areas of Japan's exclusive economic zone, a group of researchers said.

The group also said it has collected methane hydrates in layers several meters below the seabed at a spot in the Sea of Japan and another in the Sea of Okhotsk off Hokkaido.

The group also said it has found an undersea column of methane gas off Tottori and Shimane prefectures, a discovery that suggests the existence of methane hydrates.

Arctic Snow Cover Shows Sharp Decline

Arctic snow is fading fast. June snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has dropped by almost 18% per decade during the past 30 years, according to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters1.

The swift pace of the snowmelt between 1979 and 2011 exceeds the rate of decline in Arctic sea ice, which clocked in at just under 11% per decade over the same period. Earlier loss of snow cover is likely to accelerate permafrost degradation and could lead to the release of greenhouse gases trapped in the soil.

Derksen says that scientists need to understand why the observed changes do not match up with the projections of widely used models. He found that the snow-cover projections generated by the climate models being used in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underestimate the extent of spring snowmelt in the Northern Hemisphere. “Even if we’ve become a bit more willing to be aggressive with the scenarios we use to drive these models, it still doesn’t seem to be enough to describe what we’re observing,” says Sharp. “We end up being conservative.”

and Not-So-Permanent Permafrost

As much as 44 billion tons of nitrogen and 850 billion tons of carbon stored in arctic permafrost, or frozen ground, could be released into the environment as the region begins to thaw over the next century as a result of a warmer planet according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey. This nitrogen and carbon are likely to impact ecosystems, the atmosphere, and water resources including rivers and lakes. For context, this is roughly the amount of carbon stored in the atmosphere today.

... recall something J.Hansen said about only having ~250 gigatons of carbon to play around with to stay within the 2 degrees C guardrail.

Scientist predict sea level rise from burning of all Earth's fossil fuels

A study by University of Liverpool scientists has found that burning all the Earth's reserves of fossil fuels could cause sea levels to rise by as much as five metres – with levels continuing to rise for typically 500 years after carbon dioxide emissions ceased.

... The study only predicted sea level rise from the warming of the oceans and did not include the additional contribution from the melting of the great ice sheets.

and to be 'fair and balanced' ...

Fox News Gives Airtime To A Climate Denier To Discuss Unprecedented Superstorm

and a bit of a spoof Hurricane ? What Hurricane ? Image

Is Faux Nooze, Rush et al really any different than what went on in Rwanda to kick off the genocide?

From the article:-

Radio Propaganda And The Broadcasting Of Hatred: Breaking New Ground On Hate Radio During 2007 Kenya Election – By Martin Plaut

“The incitement of hate works on all levels described above and can be put as follows:
set an agenda of suspicion and ultimate hatred of a target group of groups;
attribute malign motivation to those groups;
utilize fear through the propagation of a discourse of atrocity relating to the malign motivation of the target group;
relate the long term threat and/or grievance against a group to current developments;
prepare people to ‘defend’ themselves and their community against this threat;
place the blame for violence on the target group, thus justifying violence as a response to attack or threat;
incite and justify action.


East Coast poultry producers may see effects from Sandy

In Maryland and Delaware, states ranked in the top 15 in young meat chicken production, the storm's aftermath could cause a domino effect, with power outages, transportation disruptions, and a potential lack of feed having a life-threatening result on poultry flocks.

"Loss of power could affect the environment in chicken houses that could increase or decrease temperatures. Most poultry operations, however, should have back-up generators," Beck said. "Producers also are trying to make sure they have enough feed on hand to outlast the effects of the storm, in case hauling becomes an issue."

Tob Tabler, MSU Extension poultry specialist and professor, said, "If generators run out of fuel, then providing feed and water to flocks becomes a major issue. If there are power outages and no fuel for generators, environmental conditions— temperature, ventilation, lighting—are a big concern."

and Hurricane Sandy Disrupts Food Distribution, 'Thousands Of Trucks' In Limbo

Thousands of truckloads of food that were headed for stores in the Northeast are stuck on roadsides and in warehouses following the crippling blow Hurricane Sandy dealt to the nation's food distribution system.

... Chouinard said his company typically delivers New York-bound meat to two wholesale meat markets, the Hunts Point Market and the Brooklyn Market -- neither of which had restored power on Tuesday.

"I gotta make a decision this afternoon about whether my drivers should leave Chicago with today's shipment," Chouinard said, "but I don't think we're going to be shipping today. We'll reassess later in the week."

Hunts Point is the primary food distribution center for 14 million people. This implies almost empty grocery stores for more days.


It's been a week since hurricane Sandy left the north coast of Jamaica and things appear to be returning to normal wherever elecricity service has been restored. I am currently visiting my father in a rural town in the more badly affected eastern end of the island (when Sandy hit us she was just a baby, more than half of the 100 plus mile long island hardly noticed).

My fathers house is still without power and there are so many poles for the power company to fix that I don't know how many days it's going to take for them to get around to him. There's electricity less than a mile away but, that's the line from the line from the local substation to the town center, the low hanging fruit as it were. This has restored power to the clinic, the police station, the town kindergarten school and a big local high school but, they still have yet to reach the local elementary school.

I fear that the situation in the north east US is going to end up somewhat similar. Critical infrastructure, hospitals, schools etc will be the highest priority with suburban residential ares at the bottom of the list. Given the extensive nature of the damage, I suspect that the power companies will be asking for help with manpower from as far as the west coast and even then, it is going to take many, many days (weeks?) to get power back to the lowest priority areas.

Electricity is a major convenience more so in the US than in the islands wher, electric can openers are a rarity and our washing machines tend to gossip but, lights and water pumps work better when the power's on. I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of very grumpy folks around on election day. Who wins depends on whether the general population buys the climate change/chaos thing and whether they pin that tail on a donkey or an elephant!

I've been swearing at myself for not implementing my planned hybrid off-grid/grid tied solar PV system by my fathers place since, I knew that in the event of a disaster, he wouldn't be getting power back in the early stages of the restoration. I've allowed the perfect to be the enemy of the good, looking for that perfect solution. Maybe the wait will be worth it as I am seeing some interesting opportunities that I would probably have missed if I jumped the gun.

Alan from the islands

edit: I just noticed that a post immediately below mine at the time of posting, links to a pundit saying similar things about restoring electricity by election day.

Alan. I am sure you know that one of the great things about PV is that you can start with near nothing and then go on from there. Example, water pump running on direct connection to one PV panel. Not the best but works.

And for sure, PV- battery- LED lights are far better than no lights, and real easy to do.

And there is another advantage to piecemeal approach. You learn and get comfortable as you go. I am now up to 2kW peak installed and feel myself immune to any weather event. I also did the twin breaker box thing and can switch any of my 12 circuits PV or grid as I desire, while watching that little in line wattmeter as I go.

Alas, I fried my stirling engine generator by getting an air bubble in the water jacket (How could I!) but fortunately have a graveyard from which I exhumed yet another one, and am now back in business with wood power for those dim days.

and our washing machines tend to gossip


Sandy’s Power Blackouts Could Last Beyond U.S. Election

... “By day four, day five, patience will start to run thin,” Gregg Edeson, a Los Angeles-based utility industry consultant and executive at PA Consulting, said in an interview yesterday. “I really do think you’ll see a better coordinated effort, but at the end of the day, it’s going to take some time to get customers restored.”

F.C.C. Describes 911 and Cellphone Problems

Cellphone calls in the Northeast region were continuing to fail Wednesday because one-quarter of the transmission sites in areas ravaged by Hurricane Sandy were knocked out and many of those are not expected to come back online for several days at least, government officials said.

Verizon Wireless said Wednesday that 6 percent of its cell sites remained down in storm-affected areas, although all of its switching and data centers “are functioning normally.” T-Mobile issued a statement saying that roughly 20 percent of its network in New York City was out of service, as was up to 10 percent of its network in Washington.

AT&T declined to specify the status of its systems on Wednesday. All of the companies said they were working to assess and repair the damaged networks.

Honey harvest 'devastated' by wet summer

Yields are down 72% compared to 2011, research by the British Beekeepers' Association (BBKA) suggested. An average of 8lb (3.6kg) of honey was produced per hive this year, compared to the annual average of 30lb (13.6kg).

They're only bees. Tiny, little annoying flies on steroids. And they sting.
F*ck 'em - let them die.
/sarc off

Greece: Oil, Gas ... and Gold
There’s oil, gold and gas in those hills

“Not many people know that over-indebted Greece is an oil-producing country: although not a very big one, with only 2,000 barrels a day or 0.5% of its oil needs”, points out Le Monde which goes on to explain that Athens has decided to resume oil and gas exploration of reserves that have hitherto been disregarded.

… it’s the vast expanse of Greek waters close to Crete that is now the subject of high hopes following the discovery of gas in Israel and Cyprus. A Norwegian company Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) has recently been selected to conduct maritime seismic studies in a 220,000  square kilometre area, which should go on for 18 months.”
In another “rare piece of good news” for the crisis stricken country, “Greece is to become Europe’s leading gold producer”, reports La Tribune. Emphasising that Greece already has “major mining potential” (bauxite, perlite), the business daily explains that –
“... in 2016, Greece could become Europe’s leading gold producer, overtaking Finland, which is currently the 40th-ranked supplier worldwide”.

Paradoxical as it may seem, the main reason for the increase in production is the economic crisis which has led Athens to speed up the granting of mining concessions, and to set aside a policy that  “was largely based on clientelism”.

Will China's new middle class save it from disaster?


This is a very good read. From Confucius to this state of human bankruptcy is all I could think the whole way down.

"Chinese women returning from a European shopping trip keep their receipts, not in case of a refund, but to show to their friends....the Chinese will spend a lot on a handbag but not on an expensive German washing-machine, which will not be seen by their friends." etc etc.

Chinese government think tank urges end to unpopular one-child policy

BEIJING -- A Chinese government think tank is urging the country's leaders to start phasing out its unpopular one-child policy immediately and allow two children for every family in the country by 2015.

Since China has implemented a one child policy since 1979 (2015 would be 36 years, effectively 1.4 generations given an average age of parents @ 25-26) they are already set for population declines.

"One Child" effectively means about 1.54 children due to exceptions.

It officially restricts married, urban couples to having only one child, while allowing exemptions for several cases, including twins, rural couples, ethnic minorities, and parents without any siblings themselves. A spokesperson of the Committee on the One-Child Policy has said that approximately 35.9% of China's population is currently subject to the one-child restriction.

Hong Kong & Macau are also exempt from the one child policy.

Note that two single children, living in cities, can already have two children - but a fair % reportedly only have one by choice. There has been a cultural shift.

The gender imbalance is severe and moving towards two children will likely help correct that going forward. Only girls and women can have one - or two - children and there are 30 million fewer of them. (ratio at birth 118-100 vs. 105-100 in most developed nations).

Given the demographic momentum, shifting from 1.54 to, say 1.85 or 1.9# children/woman (note that there are fewer women) is not an irresponsible decision. I see it as inevitable. There are issues with a too rapidly declining population.

# Birth rate today of 1.54 plus 35.9% of the population can have one more child = 1.90 if 100% decide to do so. Somewhat lower if those today restricted to one child decide to still have only one child even if allowed two children. Also lower than 1.90 because some couples that are allowed one child still have two and just pay the fines. They may have two and not three children (same as today) if they are allowed two children.

The USA population could surpass that of China shortly after 2100. I am reluctant to criticize China for their population policies.

It is possible that this will create a few million more mouths to feed in a future famine - but China has had those for millennium and they stand a chance of avoiding another major famine for the next 75 years.

Two estimates of future Chinese population. Basically flat for the next 30+ years regardless of policy changes.

2011 - 1,344,130,000

US Census Bureau, 2010 est. :

2020: 1,384,545,000
2030: 1,391,491,000
2040: 1,358,519,000
2050: 1,303,723,000

United Nations, 2010 est. :

2020: 1,387,792,000
2030: 1,393,076,000
2040: 1,360,906,000
2050: 1,295,604,000
2060: 1,211,538,000
2070: 1,125,903,000
2080: 1,048,132,000
2090: 984,547,000
2100: 941,042,000

Best Hopes for Responsible Population Policies,


PS: From a social stability POV, increasing birth rates to below replacement levels (say 1.85, replacement = 2.12 or so) for a generation and then slowly reducing fertility from there may be more viable. The largest birth cohort (born 1970-1979) need to be pretty much dead (+75 years to 2055 or so) before shifting to much smaller birth cohorts IMVHO.

An inverted age pyramid can work, if the sides are not too steep for too long. China has had 33 years of a steep decline in births.

I see a lot of fretting and worrying about low birth rates in some nations. Given though that we seem to be running at full speed into limits to growth, I think this is pretty low on the list of things to be worrying about at the moment.

I'm not sure how much real influence the Chinese government has over the overall fertility rate. Their fertility policies accelerated the decline in the birth rate, but this seemed to be happening anyway. If they relaxed them would the fertility rate suddenly spring up or remain on their current trajectory? And China has usually had a pronounced male gender bias, this is nothing new although it's probably a bit worse now than in the past.

My SWAG is that a maximum of two children policy would increase fertility from 1.54 to around 1.80 or so.

If a third of the 36% currently limited to one child still had one child after the change in policy, that would be a fertility rate of 1.78.

The most likely result of a policy change might be having children at a younger age - which would be in many ways worse than higher fertility.

Compressing the years between generations has more impact in the next 30 years than fertility rates. Three, four or more years between the first and second child should be strongly encouraged (propaganda, doctor's warnings, etc.)


The Chinese population pyramid is more of a population pagoda.

One interesting note.

Compare male vs female bars for 5-9 and 0-4. The female gain is much larger than the male gain.

My inference is that girls have become more highly valued in the last half decade or so.

Also, one can see the start of "one child" in 1979/1980 (nine month delay) and the mirror (offset by @ 25 years) of the different age groups. And the recent relaxation of one child policies (perhaps another reason for more girls in the last 5 years).

Starting in 2006 (varied by province), two single child parents could have two children. So 2007 births started to reflect that new policy. This may be another reason for more 0-4 girls.


Looking at the sexual asymmetry, China is in for 25 years of interesting times.

Still, it might solve the "leftover women" problem.

On a related note I see the population of Japan, fertility rate 1.4, is expected to decline to 40 million by 2100, i.e. 87 million Japanese leaving the planet without replacements. That's an entire nation reduced to the size of three Beijings.

You say that as if its a bad thing for the longer-term well-being of the Japanese people.

Quite the opposite...this trend bodes well for the future people of Japan.

If only the rest of the World could achieve, peacefully and without chaos, such a stunningly beneficial population decline towards more sustainable numbers!

Long live the Japanese people in better harmony with their environment!

They are going to have an awful lot of unrequired concrete edifices to dispose of plus a huge amount of other excess infrastructure.



This in no way negates the long-term goodness of peacefully teaching a much more sustainable lower population over the long term.

Quality of life trumps quantity.

We are talking about Japan's population stabilizing at ~ a couple to several tens of millions not 300 hermits in caves who are going extinct!

The U.S. would do well to set on a glide path to about 120M over the long term...perhaps that number would be more sustainable in the longer term.

Mexico and all other nations should follow Japan's example as well.

I did some searching for the policies that other countries might copy to reduce their population, but found the Japanese government has actually been encouraging a greater birth rate for some time now. Apart from tight immigration laws, the biggest factor seems to be the young adults, particularly the males, prefer a hedonistic life that is supported by their parents, over the responsibilities of marriage.

However there is some concern that, being childless, they have "no vested interest in society" ...


I have read other articles which talk about the Japanese disparaging their 'single parasites'. The Japanese value conformity, and the old folks resent the new World order of the young.

Be all that as it may, including the temporary (several decades) imbalance of older people to younger, I see a lower population in the futre as conducive to sustainability.

At least the Japanese are pretty homogenous (Okinawan people noted)...in the U.S., we already have certain folks upset with the idea that they will be put in the minority by folks of a perceived different race/ethnicity/religion/etc. Folks who feel threatened in this way sometimes advocate higher birth rates to win the 'demographics wars'.

including the temporary (several decades) imbalance of older people to younger

Simple arithmetic shows that the old-age heavy demographics are not temporary but will continue as long as the population continues to decrease, which may well be to piddling numbers, at least for an ethnic and cultural group now know as the Japanese.

No I do not believe this large of a decline is a good thing.

We are talking about Japan's population stabilizing at

Why can't standard English apply in environmental discussions? A decrease of 87 million people, some 2/3 of current population may be what you favor, but it is not the common definition of stabilize. What do you imagine is the idea population for Japan? A Jim Jones pass the Kool-Aid party?

Stabilize means 'level off'.

The population forecast was not mine...and it shows the natural progression of the population between now and 2100, given a low birthrate, which slowly increases to replacement rate as time goes on. Population stabilization happens ~ or somewhat after 2100, not between now and 2100...did you read the chart?

The chart's 'low estimate' shows 40 million people in Japan by 2100...not from war, famine, or mass suicide, but from a lower-than-replacement birthrate which slowly rises to replacement rate. And, by the way, the surplus of old folks will not persist forever....eventually when the downwards sigmoid population curve levels out, a more normal population pyramid becomes the norm, assuming a stable birth/death ratio in the correct proportion.

Why do you see threat and doom in a more sustainable level of population commensurate with natural resources and sinks, compared to some arbitrarily high population that may crash as far or further in a shorter time, due to famine, disease, conflict, etc?

I see value in a peaceful population decline to a more sustainable level over the next century, and am not advocating or cheering for extinction.

Your hyperbole is unnecessary.

given a low birthrate, which slowly increases to replacement rate as time goes on...
lower-than-replacement birthrate which slowly rises to replacement rate....

There is no such indication for Japan in this thread, nor any that I've seen elsewhere, that fertility rate will increase to replacement, only your assertion.

Your hyperbole is unnecessary.

Yes I indulged in an instance of hyperbole, to illustrate what see as an entire argument based on hyperbole:
...300 hermits in caves who are going extinct!
...stunningly beneficial
...Long live the Japanese people in better harmony with their environment!

OK, I said that 30-40M Japanese is //NOT// the same as 300 hermits going extinct.

How could a benign population reduction (through a less-than-replacement birth rate) not be 'stunningly beneficial to the people, and the environment, from which they depend?

Do you really think that ~ 127M Japanese will live in relative happiness after the FFs are gone? Or do you concede that 30-40M Japanese would have a much better time of coping with the decline and fall of FF by the year 2100?

And...my apologies, apparently I did not post the chart which I am speaking about...it is here:


Here is the associated page with the assumptions used in the population projection:


The entry/top-level page:


As you can see, there are //No// assumptions indicating that even the 'low case' is due to war, famine, pestilence, etc. Just due to lower birth rates. The life expectancies also assumed to stay high.

So, now that I got my head of a dark place and posted the chart, you can see that I made a reasonable inference that this population decline estimate is due to relatively benign circumstances.

Good people are allowed to disagree on issues: You seem to inherently favor maintaining population at or near (or maybe above for all I know) their current levels, and I favor populations declining in a non-coercive, non-catastrophic manner to a level I think is more conducive to living in balance with available resources and pollution sinks in our Earthy environment.

There are plenty of people who seem to wish for human catastrophe, either on religious prophesy grounds, or because they think that humans have damaged the Earth's environment and deserve their horrible comeuppance.

Although I think Humans //have//damaged the environment greatly, I wish for a benign moderate rate human population decline...I am not a human-doom-monger.

Please refrain from comparing people you don't know to the likes of Jim Jones...not cool.

Gas Golden Age Darkens in Europe on U.S. Coal

In my opinion exporting coal aids and abets an environmental wrongdoing
It needs to be emphasised that shale gas is largely a US phenomenon. Other countries that are running out of gas due to domestic consumption or short sighted export have the basic choice of scary nukes or familiar coal. Since carbon penalty schemes (carbon tax, cap&trade) are all weak then coal is due for a comeback.

Pleading non-involvement is lame, like saying 'I sold alcohol to a minor but I didn't know they were going to drink it'. If countries won't toughen up their domestic carbon penalties perhaps border adjustments are needed. A tonne of bituminous black thermal coal is said to produce 2.4t of CO2 when burned. If the CO2 price is $23 (as in Australia) that coal should attract 2.4 X $23 = $55 carbon penalty. That's a lot if the FOB price of that coal is around $100.

How that money is collected and re-distributed is a whole nuther problem but it can't be harder than the Iran arms embargo. Coal exporting countries must ask how much they are to blame for climate problems.

Article on President Obama's energy policy to date:


'Star Trek' is never going to arrive...


Technocopian exuberance is put paid by rational thinking...at least amongst the better-educated.

Time to get J6P with the program so humanity can choose wisely how to best spend its limited resources and time.

Non-contact electric vehicle charging using a 3kW magnetic stirrer:

Researchers charge cars with "remote magnetic gears"

National Energy Board announces TransCanada audit
Whistleblower gratified that action follows his complaints

Canada’s national energy-industry regulator will conduct a major audit of TransCanada Corp. following complaints from a former engineer about substandard practices at the giant pipeline company.

The National Energy Board (NEB) published a letter Wednesday to TransCanada chief executive officer Russ Girling in which it said it will review the company’s integrity management program for nearly all the company’s pipelines, including the Canadian portion of the Keystone pipeline.

“The board expects TransCanada to demonstrate, and provide adequate supporting documentation of, the adequacy and effectiveness of its integrity management program,” the NEB stated.

The NEB first learned of quality-control problems within the Calgary-based company from former engineer Evan Vokes.

Here's an article a bit more upbeat on fuel efficient and electric vehicle sales:

Electric Car Sales Increase 228 Percent

Automakers operate on a different calendar, in which the 2012 model year recently came to a close. As my colleague, Luke Tonachel, explains, this was the year of the green car, with record new fleet fuel efficiency, a 55 percent increase in hybrid sales, and more than a three-fold increase in plug-in electric car sales. The last of those three records might come as a surprise to some, given the prevalence of stories pronouncing the electric car dead on arrival.

EVs sales certainly had a big jump but they were pretty much starting from zero such that it is not significant. They sales are below what many expected but I think those projections were over-optimistic. At current EV and oil prices, EVs are just a real tough sell to anyone but hardcore greenies, gadget freaks, peak oilers, etc.

That hybrid jump is much more significant. The fact that the Prius is now the #1 car in California is very telling.

Change happens by evolution not revolution. ICE->hybrids->plug-in hybrids->pure EVs. Right now we are mainly ICE, hybrid sales are growing fast, PHEVs are the best-selling plug-ins but very small, and the pure EV market is very tiny.

Yesterday and today are highly amusing with the Oil Gas Cornucopian in another thread and the Nuclear Cornucopian here both beating their drums, louder than ever. Uranium extraction from seawater has even made an appearance again, although I've never heard it presented quite so outrageously before! These surely are "interesting" times.

Exxon's Profit Falls 7.4% as Oil, Gas Production Drops

The Texas oil giant's output fell 7.5% to an average of about 4 million barrels a day, the lowest level since the third quarter of 2009.

That's a drop of 300,000 barrels per day.

Ron P.

4,000,000 / (100-7.5)=43,243
43,243x7.5 = 324,324 bbl


Exxon's Profit Falls as Oil, Gas Production Drops


"....Excluding the effect of divestitures, production sharing contracts and quotas set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, production fell 2.9%, a number that analysts consider disappointing..."Clearly chronic production declines are not what we want to see," said Pavel Molchanov, an analyst with Raymond James...."

Exxon's production woes underscore how challenging it is for the biggest oil companies to grow production in a meaningful way despite massive investments.

Indeed. Challenging. I wonder if XOM will decide it's easier to buy companies to add reserves than to find reserves and gain concessions. Oh wait.....

Saudi Arabia: Fuel Truck Crash Triggers Explosion That Levels Building

RIYADH (Reuters) - At least 22 people were killed when a fuel truck crashed into a flyover in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Thursday, triggering an explosion that brought down an industrial building and torched nearby vehicles, officials and state media said.

Health ministry spokesman Saad al-Qahtani said 135 people were injured in the disaster. He told state television they were mostly men and included some foreigners.

So far, it appears to be an accident, not a terrorist attack.

This reads to me like a scene from a bad action movie. Those accidents are usually horrible.

Bulletin: German nuclear exit delivers economic, environmental benefits

... in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' special issue on "The German Nuclear Exit": Freie Universität Berlin politics professor Miranda Schreurs says the nuclear phase-out and accompanying shift to renewable energy have brought financial benefits to farmers, investors, and small business; Felix Matthes of the Institute for Applied Ecology in Berlin concludes the phase-out will have only small and temporary effects on electricity prices and the German economy; University of Kassel legal experts Alexander Rossnagel and Anja Hentschel explain why electric utilities are unlikely to succeed in suing the government over the shutdown; and Lutz Mez, co-founder of Freie Universitӓt Berlin's Environmental Policy Research Center, presents what may be the most startling finding of all.

The shift to alternative energy sources being pursued in parallel with the German nuclear exit has reached a climate change milestone, Mez writes: "It has actually decoupled energy from economic growth, with the country's energy supply and carbon-dioxide emissions dropping from 1990 to 2011, even as its gross domestic product rose by 36 percent."

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists November/December 2012

This is the kind of cherry picking that makes me think Germany is heading for an internal revolt. According to this article http://thebreakthrough.org/archive/it_has_become_an_article German unification around 1990 saw a simultaneous reduction in emissions by retiring old East German plant coupled with a new consumer boom. Right now the German economy is flatlining whereas pro-nuclear Britain is picking up.

In a few years Germany will have to stop using 1990 as a starting point for their economic and emissions 'miracle' and focus on 21st century data. Several weeks back they opened a 2.2 GW lignite burning plant. Combine those emissions with near zero GDP growth and things won't look so good.

Why don't you use actual data, they are available.

1) German economy does well (we have a stagnating/shrinking population), therefore, 1%-1.5% p.a. more GDP is real, you understand the concept of per capita values?

2) German economy is not debt fueled, so to take the UK (8% debt for a maximum of 1-2% "growth", at the moment almost recession) as an example is a really bad joke.

3) If you actually analyse available data, you would find that much of the savings in industry after 1990 were eaten up by private households and larger number of cars in the new federal states in the years 1990-2000, the decline of primary energy consumption was only around 0.4% p.a. for 1991-2011.

If you start at 2000 you get a much higher value for decline of primary energy consumption, so yes we should use 21st century data. :-)

The simple fact that Germany had in the last years all-time highs in production/exports/size of workforce and still reduces its primary and final energy consumption should tell you, that the quality of your sources and way of your "data analysis" must improve. To use the lignite power plant example does of course not really help, it replaces 13 older ones with much lower efficiency, i.e. it is a gain. The energy intensity (you know what this means?) of German industrial production falls about 1.8% p.a., using the last 10 years.

You or your sources forget to mention that this modern 2.2 GW coal plant near Colon was constructed to replace 16 old inefficient and inflexible coal plants with a total capacity of 2.4 GW so coal use and CO2 missions will actually go down with this plant. The fact is that German coal use is trending down for at least 10 years and even with the sudden shutdown of 8 nuclear reactors is still lower then 10 years ago.

Researchers use stunt kites to generate energy

Joachim Montnacher, an engineer at the IPA, explains how a "kite power station" works thus: "The kites fly at a height of 300 to 500 meters, perfectly positioned to be caught by strong winds. Cables, about 700 meters in length, tether the kites to vehicles and pull them around a circuit on rails. A generator then converts the kinetic energy of the vehicles into electricity. The control and measuring technology is positioned on the vehicles." Compared to conventional wind farm technology that relies on rotors, this technology offers a wide range of advantages. Wind speeds at ground level tend to zero, but they increase dramatically the higher you go. At a height of 100 meters wind speeds are around 15 meters a second; at 500 meters they exceed 20 meters a second.

"The energy yield of a kite far exceeds that of a wind turbine, whose rotor tips turn at a maximum height of 200 meters. Doubling the wind speed results in eight times the energy," says Montnacher. "Depending on wind conditions, eight kites with a combined surface area of up to 300 square meters can equate to 20 conventional 1-megawatt wind turbines."

Dust's warming counters half of its cooling effect (w/ Video)

The team found that dust's radiative impact, and hence its warming influence, conservatively ranges from 2.3 to 20 watts per square meter of radiation at the surface in Zhangye. Collectively, dust's longwave warming effect counters more than half of dust's shortwave cooling effect.

For perspective, the warming influence of 20 watts per square meter is comparable to the low end of longwave radiation's effect on clouds, which measures about 30 watts per square meter. Warming by greenhouse gases measures about 2 watts per square meter, although the warming occurs globally whereas the warming influence of dust and clouds is regional.

"The influence of dust on longwave radiation is a lot bigger than we expected," Hansell said.

$100M pledged to US-Israeli electric car venture

U.S.-Israeli electric car venture Better Place says investors have pledged it $100 million in additional financing. Top shareholder The Israel Corp. says it will pump in $67 million in this round, on top of previous investments of some $250 million.

In all, Better Place, which is going through turbulent times, has raised $850 million. Better Place has spent close to half a billion dollars developing and deploying a network in Israel, its pilot site. But sales here are weak and founder Shai Agassi abruptly left the company last month.

Fuel Shortage Fears Mount as Officials Ask Towns to Conserve

Bergen County officials are urging local governments to conserve fuel as concerns are mounting that a gasoline shortage could impact emergency services and utility repair crews responding to Sandy's devastation.

"If we don't get fuel in a couple of days, obviously, emergency services stop and so do all the restoration people," Bergen County Emergency Management Coordinator Lt. Dwane Razzetti told officials in a Wednesday afternoon briefing.

As N.J. recovers from Sandy, Gov. Christie eyes gas shortage, Obama visits

Hoping to ease what he called a diminishing supply of gasoline in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Chris Christie today said he will allow gas stations and fuel merchants to buy from other states, and announced that federal authorities are sending 500,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 100 power generators to ensure basic government services.

Gas shortage after Sandy causes panic, fistfight in Hudson Valley

NYC Taxis Running Out Of Fuel As City Copes With Gasoline Shortage After Hurricane Sandy

I saw an item in a report on the fuel situation that noted that in any case the NE region had about 23 days of supply of gasoline. I don't think that they have heard of MOL (Minimum Operating Level).

From what I can see a number of gas stations in NJ/NY have fuel in their tanks but no power to pump it out. Not so different from the blackout a couple of years back.

I think much of that MOL is in individual gas tanks. Most of the service stations here were drained and dry Sunday evening before the storm.

Some Drudge Report headlines:

Gas Shortages May Not End for Another Week...
Fear Turns to Frustration, Anger...
Fistfights, Guns Drawn...
Fuel scramble...
Some Siphoning From Cars!
'I'm pretty pissed'...
Troopers deployed to gas stations...

‘We Need Food, We Need Clothing’: Staten Island Residents Plead for Help 3 Days After Sandy

The residents of Staten Island are pleading for help from elected officials, begging for gasoline, food and clothing three days after Sandy slammed the New York City borough.

“We’re going to die! We’re going to freeze! We got 90-year-old people!” Donna Solli told visiting officials. “You don’t understand. You gotta get your trucks down here on the corner now. It’s been three days!”

Staten Island was one of the hardest-hit communities in New York City. More than 80,000 residents are still without power. Many are homeless, and at least 19 people died on Staten Island because of the storm.

One of the devastated neighborhoods was overwhelmed by a violent surge of water. Residents described a super-sized wave as high as 20 feet, with water rushing into the streets like rapids.

Did they not watch the Katrina aftermath? The Gov't starts to kick in after about a week, and poorly at that.

You two didn't get the memo? Ixnay on the atelay: the response was too early!
Bush’s FEMA Director ‘Heckuva Job Brownie’ Says Sandy Reponse Was Too Fast

You know, he's absolutely right. You shouldn't equip a building with fire extinguishers until the building is actually on fire! Like, duh. Also, obviously people are evil for doing a halfway decent job of protecting the citizens and their property. Because it makes him look bad.

Supplying free fire extinguishers is socialism. A better plan is to provide fire extinguisher vouchers. Unextingushed fires spreading to nearby buildings either prunes derelict structures or engages the flow of capital in their recuperation: Win - Win - Win

Unextingushed fires spreading to nearby buildings either prunes derelict structures or engages the flow of capital in their recuperation: Win - Win - Win

So putting up a kiosk in the neighborhood and selling flamethrowers that qualify for government subsidies might be better solution in a free market capitalistic society? Actually now that the US is well on it's way to energy independence they might even give out a free 5 gallon can of gas with each purchase.

Just think of the increase in GDP once the recuperation starts in earnest >;-)

I see plenty of boats washed ashore with usable fuel supplies.

I wonder how long it will take them to figure that one out.

Why Seas Are Rising Ahead of Predictions

"What's missing from the models used to forecast sea-level rise are critical feedbacks that speed everything up," says Hay. He will be presenting some of these feedbacks in a talk on Sunday, 4 Nov., at the meeting of The Geological Society of America in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

... "You would expect negative feedbacks to creep in at some point," says Hay. "But in climate change, every feedback seems to go positive." The reason is that Earth's climate seems to have certain stable states. Between those states things are unstable and can change quickly. "Under human prodding, the system wants to go into a new climate state."

Really? Colorado University shows average linear increase of approx 3.1 mm (1/8") per year for the last 20 years or so. Linear, not accelerating. Link: http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

The referenced data extends over a relatively short period (20 years). Given the errors in the measurements, this isn't long enough to reach more than limited conclusions. Note that if you estimate the slope using a least squares fit to a straight line, it tends to be heavily influenced by data near the ends of the record. In this case, if one eyeballs the data, there are some points that seem to be high near the beginning of the record and low near the end (~2011). It would be very premature to assume that the slope is a constant. Among other things, recent indications are that we are starting to see serious melting in Greenland.

"Really? [..] Linear, not accelerating."
The article is talking about faster rise in sea level then models have projected. This has nothing to do with linear or accelerated sea level rise. The words 'linear' or 'acceleration' are not even mentioned in this article.

It appears you are fighting a straw man.

From IEA ... Speculation Demystified: Virtuous Volatility

... Producers, consumers and policy makers increasingly blame speculators for fluctuations in commodity prices, particularly for energy, even though a futures market lacking speculators to place counter-investments against the price-hedging transactions of physical market players would arguably be much more volatile. Perhaps inadvertently, some commentators even associate speculative activity with manipulation. Speculation and speculators have become so unpopular that some proposals seek an outright ban on speculation in commodity exchanges, especially oil markets.

... it is important to note that volatility itself is not the main problem. Instead, the main challenge would be elevated price levels combined with higher volatility.

Volatility is nothing new for oil

Oil prices, like those of many other commodities, are inherently volatile, and volatility itself varies over time. Because of inelastic supply and demand curves, at least in the short run, any shock to demand or supply will lead to large changes in oil prices. Much recent attention focused on how annualised average volatility peaked in January 2009 at 92%, followed by a rapid decline to relatively low levels. However, the historical peak for volatility was in January 1991, at an average annualised 116%.

From The Onion ... Nation Suddenly Realizes This Just Going To Be A Thing That Happens From Now On

NEW YORK—Following Hurricane Sandy’s destructive tear through the Northeast this week, the nation’s 300 million citizens looked upon the trail of devastation and fully realized, for the first time, that this is just going to be something that happens from now on.

Gradually comprehending that this sort of thing is now just a fact of life, citizens all across America stared blankly at images of destroyed homes, major cities paralyzed by flooding, and ravaged communities covered in debris, and finally acknowledged that this, apparently, is now a regular part of the human experience.

“Oh, I see—this is just going to be how it is from here on out,” said New York City resident Brian Marcello, coming to terms with the fact that an immense storm that cripples mass transit systems and knocks out power for millions in the nation’s largest metropolitan area can no longer be regarded as an isolated, freak incident, and will henceforth be just a normal thing that happens. “Hugely destructive weather events are going to keep happening, and they are going to get worse and worse, and living through them is something that will be a part of all our lives from now on, whether we like it or not.”

“I get it now,” Marcello added.

The cover of the year goes to Bloomberg Businessweek, “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.”

Bloomberg Businessweek: ‘It’s Global Warming, Stupid’

Yes, yes, it’s unsophisticated to blame any given storm on climate change. Men and women in white lab coats tell us—and they’re right—that many factors contribute to each severe weather episode. Climate deniers exploit scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all.

Clarity, however, is not beyond reach. Hurricane Sandy demands it: At least 40 U.S. deaths. Economic losses expected to climb as high as $50 billion. Eight million homes without power. Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated. More than 15,000 flights grounded. Factories, stores, and hospitals shut. Lower Manhattan dark, silent, and underwater.

...finally acknowledged that this, apparently, is now a regular part of the human experience.

Is this the weather event that cracked the shell of denial? No amount of data, graphs, satellite photos of the Arctic, movies like An Inconvenient Truth, specials on the History and Discovery channel about GW could do it, except actual experience of our country getting walloped by one climate chaos event after another within a short enough period of time. If it isn't, then maybe we are getting closer. Maybe a force 3-5 hurricane rocking the NY area, or enough town destroying tornados next Spring, or a drought that makes part of the country unlivable, or a catalysm yet to come will edge consciousness to that point it finally gives way to acknowledgement.

This goes to show us that information is denied, rejected, ignored, and instead actual experience is the only thing that can get through.

Does everyone know that The Onion is satire? There are folks here that may not be familiar with The Onion. Quoting The Onion for facts is a bit like getting your science from a Sit-Com.

Sometimes satire is truth in it's purest form :-)


“Hugely destructive weather events are going to keep happening, and they are going to get worse and worse, and living through them is something that will be a part of all our lives from now on, whether we like it or not.”

They didn't like it back in the past either;





In fact, this whole list is pretty depressing, though probably not all of them were weather-related.


Andrea Saul: Romney Campaign Advisor, Climate Change Disinformer

Andrea Saul happens to be Mitt Romney’s campaign press secretary.

A Greenpeace investigation on Andrea Saul began this year when a sharp ex-journalist tipped us on anti-climate science press releases sent his way while Saul worked for the lobbyists DCI Group several years ago. Upon further digging, it was clear that Saul played a key role in an Exxon-funded campaign to subvert global warming science — running counter-ops specifically denying any connection between global warming and hurricanes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Saul worked with a DCI Tech Central Station team that created fake TV newcasts that “reported” no connection between hurricanes and climate change. These tapes were distributed to Gulf state TV stations. The Saul tape and a Mississippi newscast that aired the piece were preserved by the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Watch it:

New from Congressional RFesearch Service ...

Electric Utility Infrastructure Vulnerabilities: Transformers, Towers, and Terrorism (0.7M pdf)

Of the transmission system’s physical infrastructure, the high-voltage (HV) transformers are arguably the most critical component. Utilities rarely experience loss of an individual HV transformer, but recovery from such a loss takes months if no spare is available.

Several options exist to mitigate vulnerabilities. Several groups have long proposed the stockpiling equipment as emergency replacements for critical units that do not currently have secure spares. However, some argue that a stockpile would be costly. Another option is to standardize the designs of permanent HV transformers to facilitate emergency recovery.

Some have proposed revitalizing domestic manufacturing of HV transformers arguing that a reliance on foreign manufacturers would increase recovery time due to shipping time. However, others argue that the additional shipping time is not significant compared to overall manufacturing time.

Citing climate change, Bloomberg endorses Obama


"One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics," the mayor wrote.

Just for Alan in the Big Easy:


Given emerging data in 2012, it's becoming increasingly clear that the post-war automobile era in the United States is now in well-articulated decline. Accordingly, it makes sense to note the beginning of a long-term supertrend that is just getting started: the resurrection of America’s rail system.

Maps and good stuff.

Sort of interesting since Chris M. posted on another thread yesterday.


Oilsands development at risk as costs soar, memo warns

Ministry briefing notes reflect concern over capital needed to sustain industry

A confidential government memorandum obtained by CBC News warns that soaring costs of developing the Alberta oilsands could put the brakes on the massive project, stalling one of the main engines of the Canadian economy.

The booming oilsands industry supports tens of thousands of Canadian jobs, and pumps billions of dollars a year into the national economy.

The memo written by Mark Corey, one of the highest-ranking officials in the federal Department of Natural Resources, warns that if the current trend of spiralling labour and other costs continues, investors may start to turn off the tap on the massive amounts of money needed to develop the oilsands.

"Although current crude prices promote oilsands development, ever-increasing capital and operating costs could make this price insufficient to support oilsands development at forecast levels," Corey writes.

Cost increases are currently "the biggest risk to investment in the sector," and could jeopardize the viability of some projects, he says.

Essentially, they have to sell off the resource to China so that there is enough capital for the tar sands to be developed, but most Canadians don't like the idea of handing over the country's resources to opaque state owned corporations from non-democratic countries with poor human rights records.

The memo probably didn't discuss the additional cost uncertainty on tar sands development that addressing climate change would impose.

I doubt the Cons have a plan B.

The Chinese will own the oil sands developement. They will import chinese workers to extract their oil and build a pipline to carry their oil to the nearest coast to be shipped on their ships to their refineries. They will control the costs. Canada's new secret treaty with China will ensure that they have a free hand.

The Chinese already own a lot of the oil sands production. They have been hiring Canadian workers because Canadians are the low cost technical experts of the international oil industry. And none of this is secret, it's just that it has slipped under the radar of the mainstream media.

I had the opportunity to visit with oil and gas folks in W. Tx this week. With apologies to Roy, I saw things you people wouldn't believe....all these moments will be lost in time....

- Mile after mile of pump-jacks and power poles, dozens per section, ceaselessly pumping. Some new, some old. 10s of thousands of them spreading across the plains for a hundred miles in any direction, punctuated here and there with wind turbines, gas flares, and drilling or workover rigs.
- Massive new gas plants and compressor stations, cramming extra gas into overloaded pipelines with 1000hp compressors by the hundreds. Infrastructure lags production everywhere.
- Gleaming, nicely engineered new stuff, next to old, cobbled-together ad-hoc equipment. Billions and billions being spent. Gas venting all over, with the smell of hydrocarbons and H2S wafting in the breeze, some from packing glands seeping a bit, some from careless venting of valueless (yet unrenewable and eventually precious) energy. Saw tanks with the hatches open venting vapors all day long, with enough boil-off to frost 400bbl tanks from top to bottom. No gas recovery or catalytics here!
- Gas flaring all over, some on purpose, and some when equipment tripped off line. 100' flare stacks with 100' flames, roaring white then blue then yellow. Too much gas coming along with the oil to handle. Too much of some lights too. Ethane going to $0 - costs more to ship than it's worth at the other end.
- Shiny new automation cabinets at gas plants and compressor stations, each striving to enhance production and reduce manpower, and each representing $100+K of investment. New buildings going up everywhere, each housing another oil patch support company. Not enough hotels though - $300 for a room that goes for $100 most places, if you are lucky enough to find one.
- Millions of barrels of oil in 40,000bbl tanks, all heading to Cushing, and waiting for a new pipeline S to the coast to complete and offer a path to a more lucrative market.
- Trucking points with the ground stained dark brown from the dribbles at some installations. Spotless operations with poly liners and 100% water/oil catching in others. Ecological tidiness varies widely.

For towns like these, the heydays of the 70's are back. Black gold is back! You can feel the seductive opportunity of oil in your steel toes in W. Tx like you can of cloud computing in your Birkenstocks in Silicon Valley.

The amazing thing, though, is that this is not the hottest area. ND and S. Tx are even better (or worse).

Wow! That's some description there! Though in my mind's eye I see a split screen with scenes of devastation from Sandy's impact on lower Manhattan and the Jersey shore... Burn, Baby Burn!

Ditto to Fred. Thanks for the Memories!

.. and with further apologies to Mr. Batty and old Pa Tyrell, ..this always seems to fit)

Tyrell: The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very very brightly, Roy. Look at you. You're the prodigal son. You're quite a prize!
Roy: I've done questionable things.
Tyrell: Also extraordinary things. Revel in your time.
Roy: Nothing the god of biomechanics wouldn't let you in heaven for. Tyrell screams as his eyes are gouged out..

By the way, Blade Runner begins with a Title Card, "Los Angeles, 2017" .. as you look over a monstrous cityscape punctuated with big Gas Flares.. The future is Now.. these are the good, old days!

'Art is the Lie that enables us to see the Truth.' Picasso

The original data skeptic was L.F. (Buz) Ivanhoe


Edit posting error wrong node

Peak Oil versus Peak Demand

I would like to see us use less oil so that peak production is a function of peak demand. With increased mileage, conservation and alternatives, the U.S. can use LESS oil and the world just might follow that example.

OR, we could continue the way we have been going, have world demand increase, hit a supply ceiling and have bidding wars worse that what we have seen the last 10 years. It is our choice, I know the way I would rather go.