Drumbeat: November 5, 2012

Fuel shortage expected to last for days, Cuomo says

With the temperature expected to drop into the 20s by Monday, the search for fuel to run generators became increasingly desperate for the nearly 2 million people still without power.

A looming concern was that heating oil supplies were dwindling.

The promise of more fuel sat just offshore in New York Harbor, where eight fuel-carrying tankers were anchored, unable to move due to traffic restrictions still in place after Sandy pummeled the port and clogged it with debris, the Coast Guard said.

More NY oil terminals online, gasoline lines remain

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Harbor energy network was returning to normal on Sunday with mainline power restored nearly a week after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the eastern seaboard.

Yet damage to infrastructure near Linden, New Jersey, a major northeast fuel hub, kept a major refinery and some terminals shut, lending longer life to gasoline shortages that have persisted in the region.

Another looming concern was that heating oil supplies were dwindling with temperatures expected to dip to freezing in New York by Monday.

Was the gas shortage preventable?

The government dragged its feet to lift a regulation that kept tankers from heading to New York filled with gasoline. It needs a better plan for the next time.

Behind the gas panic: One expert explains

Conjuring up images of the 1970s oil crisis, the lines spilled on to bridges and highways, as police officers secured some stations and directed traffic to keep peace. In New Jersey, stations in 12 counties are rationing gas, tying access to license plate numbers.

Amid this chaos, it's hard to believe that there's actually no gas shortage, as one well-known oil and gas expert explained to CNNMoney. Rather it's fear and panic that has gripped residents from these states.

Con Ed Restores Power to 80%, but Storm Looms

Power has been restored to nearly 80 percent of utility customers in the New York City area who were blacked out by Super Storm Sandy, but a nor’easter loomed and that could set back efforts to return to normal.

N.Orleans linemen square Katrina debt with Sandy aid

"When Katrina hit, we tried to handle it alone, and it was too big," he said. "We reached out to Con Ed, and they saved our butts." So when the New York utility company called last Monday as the storm was hammering the region "we volunteered."

The New Orleans workers are among an estimated 64,000 linemen, transmission and distribution workers, network technicians and tree trimmers from Canada and across the U.S. helping the East Cost clean up after Sandy, part of an unprecedented effort under the "mutual aid" systems that form critical links in the industry's emergency-response planning.

Oil Trades Near Four-Month Low on Greece Concern, U.S. Elections

Oil traded near the lowest level in almost four months in New York amid concern that Greece will struggle to secure another bailout and uncertainty over who will win tomorrow’s U.S. presidential elections.

Aramco Increases December Light Crude Premiums for Asia

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest crude exporter, raised premiums used in determining official selling prices for December shipments of light grades to Asia, it said.

What’s the Latest on Peak Oil?

What’s the current thinking on peak oil? Your column six years ago led me to think the petroleum tap was running dry and we’d soon be trading in our cars for bikes and roller skates. Now high-profile opinion types like David Brooks and Fareed Zakaria are making it sound like we’ve got nothing to worry about, what with fracking and dropping natural gas prices. Were you being an alarmist then, or are the optimists kidding themselves now?

Abundant Supplies and Slowing Global Economy Continue to Put Pressure on Oil Prices

Oil prices have fallen approximately 13 percent this year. Oil futures, which haven't closed below $86 since mid-July, fell to a low of $84.86 a barrel last week. Weak outlooks recently provided major companies such as Caterpillar, DuPont, and 3M have raised concerns that the global economy is weakening, which could further reduce demand for oil. The Energy Information Administration earlier this month reported that oil production in the U.S. was at a 15 year high, despite lower demand.

Canada Lures Petronet With Gas as Ambani Fails: Corporate India

Petronet LNG Ltd., India’s biggest liquefied natural gas importer, plans to buy the fuel from Canada to meet surging demand as output from a block operated by billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s company falls.

Transocean’s Quarterly Loss Widens on Rig Sale Writedown

Transocean Ltd., the world’s largest offshore rig contractor, reported a wider loss in the third quarter after the writedown of a rig sale and other items.

TransCanada gains second Mexican gas pipeline in a week

Mexican authorities have awarded TransCanada Corp.another natural gas pipeline contract.

The Calgary-based company says it will invest about $400-million (U.S.) in a 413-kilometre pipeline between El Oro and Mazatlan, near Mexico’s west coast.

Rangeland Energy, LLC to Sell Large Crude Oil Rail Terminal in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale to Inergy Midstream, L.P.

The COLT system is strategically located in the heart of the prolific Bakken and Three Forks shale oil producing region. The system’s components include the COLT Hub, the COLT Connector and the Dry Fork Terminal. The COLT Hub serves as a point of liquidity for the distribution of Bakken crude oil throughout North American markets by providing customers with crude oil storage and connectivity to BNSF Railway Company and various inbound and outbound pipeline systems.

Russia to deliver 5.3 mln tons of oil to Belarus

PanARMENIAN.Net - Belarus has reached an agreement with Russia on the delivery of 5.3 million tons of Russian oil to the republic in the fourth quarter of the year, Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said on Monday, Nov 5, according to RIA Novosti.

“The problem concerning the delivery of the required volumes of oil in the fourth quarter of 2012 has been resolved with the Russian government. An agreement has been reached,” Semashko said.

Refinery protest causes petrol shortage in Libyan capital

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Protests outside western Libya's main oil refinery shut down operations for a second day on Monday, causing long queues at petrol stations in the capital Tripoli, a refinery spokesman said.

Essam al-Muntasir of the Zawiya Oil Refining Company said many wounded veterans of the war which ousted Muammar Gaddafi last year were demonstrating in front of the refinery.

"They are not allowing the employees to enter the company and not allowing our tankers to leave," he told Reuters.

Tear gas fired to disperse Kuwait protesters

Kuwaiti security forces fired tear gas to disperse a protest on Sunday by thousands of opposition supporters.

Demonstrators had gathered on a road at Mishref, about 20km (12 miles) south of Kuwait City, after troops and police prevented a march in the capital.

Last month, the authorities banned gatherings of more than 20 people.

Emir Turns Qatari Riches Into Power Behind Middle East

When the Qatari emir stepped out of a helicopter and crossed into Gaza last month, the placards bearing his face and the flags draped from buildings marked more than just gratitude for $400 million of investment.

Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani’s visit to the coastal enclave, the first by a head of state since Hamas’s violent takeover in 2007, was the culmination of a 20-year journey turning Qatar into the world’s richest country and a regional leader from a fragile, debt-ridden Persian Gulf emirate.

Syria Rebels Advance in Battles; Opposition Tackles Rifts

Syrian rebels said they made headway in battles against troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, as opposition leaders abroad work on bridging rifts and forming a united council 20 months after the start of the uprising.

Insight: Great expectations fill Greenland as China eyes riches

NUUK (Reuters) - By a remote fjord where icebergs float in silence and hunters stalk reindeer, plans are being drawn up for a huge iron ore mine that would lift Greenland's population by four percent at a stroke - by hiring Chinese workers.

The $2.3-billion project by the small, British company London Mining Plc would also bring diesel power plants, a road and a port near Greenland's capital Nuuk. It would supply China with much needed iron for the steel its economy.

Iraq finalizes natural gas deal with Pakistani company

BAGHDAD -- Iraq has inked a final deal with a Pakistani company to explore for natural gas in the country's east in the latest move by Baghdad to develop its vast natural resources after decades of war, UN sanctions and neglect.

Iran threatens again to halt all oil exports if sanctions tightened

Tehran (Platts) - Iranian oil minister Rostam Ghasemi renewed Monday a threat to halt all oil exports if the West imposes more sanctions against Tehran, oil ministry news service Shana reported.

"If the West increases sanction pressures, the Islamic republic, in reaction, will revise the trend of its crude oil exports," Ghasemi was quoted as saying. "Iran is not willing that such a thing happens in the world."

Petrobras faces $2.4 bln decade-old tax debt after court ruling

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's state-led oil company Petrobras may have to pay a 4.78 billion real ($2.35 billion), decade-old tax claim related to the lease of foreign offshore oil platforms after a judge ruled against the company, Petrobras said on Monday.

Federal scientists muzzled on oilsands

Environment Canada scientists have confirmed results published by researchers from the University of Alberta showing contaminants accumulating in the snow near oilsands operations, an internal federal document has revealed.

Testing by the Environment Canada scientists also found contaminants in precipitation in the region.

But the federal researchers were discouraged from speaking to reporters about their findings, presented at a November 2011 conference in Boston of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, says the document, released to Postmedia News through access to information.

Toyota triples quarterly profit

Toyota increased sales around the world, including the U.S. where it's on a roll with sales of its fuel-efficient models.

Windfarms: is community ownership the way ahead?

On the Danish island of Samsø many of the wind turbines are owned by the residents. Is that the way around nimbyism?

How N.Y.U. Stayed (Partly) Warm and Lighted

When much of Manhattan south of Midtown was blacked out, the lights were on at most of New York University, as was the heat and hot water. As I wrote in January 2011, N.Y.U. installed a small network of its own, burning natural gas in a unit that not only made electricity but also delivered the heat that would otherwise go to waste for use in heating and cooling. That process is known as cogeneration.

Small steps, big difference

Although major multibillion-dollar sustainable energy projects such as Abu Dhabi's Masdar City are in the ecological limelight, the green movement believes that the future lies in grassroots initiatives powered by small, private investors.

After Getting Back to Normal, Big Job Is Facing New Reality

Basic restoration leaves everything just as vulnerable to the next monster storm. Hurricane Sandy is now a gauge of the region’s new fragility. Climate change and extreme weather are presenting government — and the public — with some overwhelming choices.

Protecting the City, Before Next Time

If, as climate experts say, sea levels in the region have not only gradually increased, but are also likely to get higher as time goes by, then the question is: What is the way forward? Does the city continue to build ever-sturdier and ever-higher sea walls? Or does it accept the uncomfortable idea that parts of New York will occasionally flood and that the smarter method is to make the local infrastructure more elastic and better able to recover?

Costly aftermath? Insurance rates may soar in aftermath of Sandy

New Jersey has now endured two tropical storms in 14 months. Sea levels are rising. The 30-year national trend reflects an upswing of extreme weather, “ultimately leading to growing economic and insured losses,” according to a report published this year by Munich Re, the German re-insurance company.

“We know we’re going to see more hurricane-related damages as we experience more climate change. That’s going to severely affect the availability and the affordability of insurance,” said Cynthia McHale, insurance program director at Ceres, a Boston-based environmental advocacy group.

Serious Flooding Predicted for DC

Rising sea levels linked to global warming will likely cause billions of dollars worth of flood damage to property and infrastructure in Washington, DC, within the next 50 years, according a study out last week (28 October) in the journal Risk Analysis. The warning bears a striking resemblance to a 2009 report from the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), which predicted a scenario eerily similar to the one that played out last week as super storm Sandy rolled through the Big Apple.

North Carolina's coast is 'hot spot' for rising sea levels

State legislators last summer ignored research that shows sea-level rise will accelerate its creep up North Carolina’s coastline this century.

This week, waves of science will say they were wrong.

World destined for dangerous climate change this century

London (ANI): The world is most likely to face dangerous climate change this century - with global temperatures possibly rising by as much as 6C - because of the failure of governments to find alternatives to fossil fuels, a report by a group of economists has warned.

A study by the accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has revealed that it will now be almost impossible to keep the increase in global average temperatures up to 2100 within the 2C target that scientists believe might avert dangerous and unpredictable climate change, the Independent reported.

Link up top: Straight Dope: What’s the Latest on Peak Oil?

12. By now it had dawned on us the limit of importance wasn’t oil, or oil plus gas, but all fossil fuels taken together. We computed global recoverable fossil fuels as follows: 2 trillion barrels of oil + 2.3 trillion barrel-equivalents of natural gas + 3.3 barrel-equivalents of coal = 7.6 trillion barrel-equivalents total.

13. Finally we (well, I) took a stab at estimating peak fossil fuels, which I called PFF, or “piff.” Much depends on developments in the world economy, conservation, alternative fuels, and who knows what else, but I optimistically predicted PFF wouldn’t occur till 2100.

So it's not about peak oil at all, it's all about peak fossil fuel. When we run out of oil there will still be lots of natural gas and coal. There will be a smooth transition from oil to natural gas and coal.

So not to worry, all automobiles, planes and everything else should be converted to run on one or the other by... 2050 perhaps?

Ron P.

Interesting how people not wanting to be wrong simply move the goalposts farther away, from crude to all oils and in this case from peak oil to FF peak.

Have to move the goal posts to maintain "sustainable growth".
5 years a member here, not much has changed (fellow Joe/Jane thinking).

Not a problem!

I think converting all of it to coal should be easy enough. After all, the author's already got quite a shovel..

As far as the 'Piff' comment.. it reveals how much of this game is really just High School. They love to show their cool disdain any way they can. Evidence would just get in the way.

jokuhl - And I suspect they'll see no problem with PFF because by the time we reach that point we'll have all the alts built out as well as the nuclear industry filling in what every holes might still exist. All of which is possible as long as one doesn't bring PC in to the equation: peak capital. All models are very doable as long as you assume there is the time and money to implement them.

One way to free up 5% of GDP for capital investments, decrease medical spending to the level of #2 in the world - Switzerland.

The Swiss are #2 in medical spending, #3 in life expectancy and #11 in infant mortality (not too far below #4). Reasonable value for money spent IMHO.

US life expectancy is slightly lower than Cuba, and our infant mortality is significantly higher. When a corrupt, inefficient Communist dictatorship can do a better job - for *FAR* less money - then we REALLY SUCCK !!

5% of GDP could do a lot.

And then there is the Chinese approach. Far fewer children allows better education for those that you do have, with significant funds left over for investment. No new schools, highways, sub-divisions and sports stadiums required in the USA if population growth leveled off (with a 20 to 25 year delay).


Talking about theoretical cuts, why did you leave out the 800-pound gorrila? That's military spending, of course. If we used some of those resources to promote real national security (in the form of energy efficient infrastructure), we could accomplish a lot - while still employing the same number of people.

A big chunk of that military spending is salaries, wages and fringe benefits for the military personnel. Lay them off and you will have to re-support them through federal assistance, especially since the private sector other than military-industrial is very sick and dying-dead without "growth".

That's why I wrote "while still employing the same number of people". We could, in principle, re-employ those currently on the military dole (whether in uniform or in the military-industrial complex - and the latter is the larger number of people) doing something more productive than basically building bombs, moving them all over the world, and occasionally blowing them up. With the same public spending, they could be instead electrifying railways, etc.

Or they could be sitting in jail or watching over those incarcerated, or living in a subsistence project or working a gov't handing out aid, or going perpetually to school or granting/collecting student loans and work studies.

There is no guarantee that the new roles will be any more productive. It just doesn't take that many people to build stuff in our automated and industrialized economy.

Or they could be sitting in jail or watching over those incarcerated

Considering the vast expansion of the police state in the last 40 years, proliferation of nonviolent jailable drug offenses, the popularity of "three strikes" laws, and incarceration rates in the U.S., by 2100 we should all be prison guards or prisoners.

Yes, we'll all become like the Swiss, so that one village takes in the laundry of the next one up the valley, and so on and so forth. Sorry for the hasty reading of the original comment in this thread.

Maybe building a network of electrified railways and dismantling suburban sprawl will be the great dam building public works projects of the Greater Depression Era. They say that Grand Coulee Dam's electricity made aluminum smelting cheap enough to mass produce and out compete the German Luftwaffe in airplane replacements, helping to win WWII. So, you never know how these infrastructure build-outs will come in handy, unless your a visionary like FDR, Churchill, or Henry J. Kaiser, of course.

Maybe building a network of electrified railways and dismantling suburban sprawl will be the great dam building public works projects of the Greater Depression Era.

Or... how about "densifying suburbs in place" and connecting them with electrified railways and "last mile" tramways? I said it before and I'll say it again, even *if* the build-out of suburbia was "the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the human race" (Kunstler), it's not likely we'll have enough cheap energy left to demolish and replace it all with new TOD.

Perhaps a few older suburbs.

Suburban shopping centers are already becoming less viable - and were built to last only a few decades.

And newer Suburban housing was built to last only 20 years before major repairs. Recent Suburban housing is too large, with too large a surface area to living area ratio (all those convoluted shapes) and poorly insulated on too large lots.

One claim is that TOD uses 1/4th the energy to live in than Suburbia. With ratios like that, there is no future for Suburbia.

Trees, the source of the major building material for housing, continue to grow regardless. ATM, they are growing faster than we are cutting them down.

Best Hopes for more TOD,


I realize that Calgary is probably an atypical city in many ways, but it has been having good success densifying its suburbs (which as I noted elsewhere are mostly internal suburbs rather than external ones).

When I first moved to Calgary, the Chinook Shopping Centre was on the city fringes. It was only a half-mile drive, a bump across the railroad tracks, and you were in the wheat fields. Now I think it might qualify as Inner City. It has a light rail terminal, it is two storys with underground parking rather than one story with surface parking, and is considerably bigger.

When it was built, it was the biggest shopping center in the city, and I think it is still the biggest shopping center in the city, although size the standards have grown dramatically.. The stores have changed, too. Sears has given up its lease (the landlord bought it out for a hundred million or so, dramatically improving Sears bottom line) and Nordstrom is renovating the space for a new store. The landlord expects retail sales for the mall will be over $1 billion/year in a few years.

But, a lot of it was the light rail system which brought a lot more people past on their way downtown, and the densification of the inner suburbs. A lot of the densification was aided by the fact that a vast area around Calgary had been subdivided out on 25 to 35 foot lots in an early 20th-century boom, and then the boom turned to bust and the houses were never built. Came the wartime boom, the post war boom, and the 60's oil boom and people started building on the lots, but since they were so small and very cheap they bought 2 or 3 lots to build the houses on.

This meant that once the houses reached their best-before date, it was very easy for builders to buy one house, knock it down, and build 2 or 3 houses on the same lot. In one area I lived, it was all tiny 2-bedroom wartime houses that were falling apart, and the developers would bulldoze them down and build mega-duplexes on the same lot at $1 million per side, marble columns and all. Building standards are much higher now so they were much better insulated than the older ones.

This kind of thing created quite a good market area for Nordstrom, less so for Sears, hence the change in stores.

We will see. One of the California propositions to be voted on today, softens the 3 strikes law. We will soon find out if it is possible to move away from the Gulag state.

I don't know how smooth the transitions will be, but it seems they can be done without the imminent collapse of industrial civilization. The economic problems we see are nothing compared to the catastrophes the PO movement predicted. The problem now is that we have to keep economically valuable fuel in the ground before we roast ourselves.

"The economic problems we see are nothing compared to the catastrophes the PO movement predicted."

"PO movement"? I haven't read their manifesto, and I'm not sure who this is. While I've seen some suggestions that "catastrophes" are a potential result of 'peak everything', most reasonable projections have predicted something akin to what we are seeing, barring some black swan or inflection event.

Maybe some people thing that James Howard Kunstler is the "Peak Oil Movement."

I agree with Ghung.
The civilization-scale catastrophe will take years to play out,but there certainly are individual catastrophes even now.

Depends on your point of view, I guess.

I joined the peak oil movement during the late 50's. when there was still hope for nuclear power. As L. F. Buz Ivanhoe liked to say "The question is not whether but when".

I tend to agree with both of you. In fact I don't really read Kunstler as a catastrophe predictor. He gets carried away on his weekly blog but if you read his books (I just re-read The Long Emergency) he is not predicting a rapid catastrophe but a grinding contraction of the economy for years that will produce much misery.

As to who is right? Your SWAG is as good as mine.

"The civilization-scale catastrophe will take years to play out"

I don't even see a catastrophe. A multiyear slog of economic stagnation forcing a more rapid evolution that usual of BAU seems most likely.

A catastrophe is possible, mind you. I just don't see it as essential or even likely.

Not sure if I am part of "the movement" since I never received a laminated card in the mail, but the world's current economic troubles such as persistent unemployment, and steadily eroding economic prospects despite massive money printing are exactly what I was expecting and had predicted.

Here's another prediction; because our economy is a complex system it, like all complex systems, owes its complexity to energy flows and the steady decline in net energy will translate into a 'simpler' economy.

That is, the economic complexity we currently enjoy with tens of billions of individual economic items and hundreds of thousands of job classifications and trillions of daily transactions will simply skinny down. There will be fewer of everything.

What cannot be predicted is exactly what will happen or when. Too much depends on decisions not yet made. Will we decide to squander our remaining allotments of net energy on silly wars or will we go all Easter Island on ourselves and build gigantic statuary gardens (perhaps resembling giant black ribbons laid across the landscape?)?

We'll see, but what is not in doubt is that economic complexity is a function of net energy, not the other way around. Can't really fault all of the people who have this backwards because it takes a bit of thinking and studying to arrive at this conclusion. I know that sounds like a back-handed slap nonetheless, but in truth I really understand that 99.5% of people will not self-initiate a line of inquiry that has a chance of rubbing a closely held belief the wrong way.

That's just how we're wired whether the belief is about PO, our strengths and weaknesses, the importance of public education, the supposed difference between the two main political parties, or a favorite sports team.

I am sure I have my own blind spots and sets of beliefs that limit my ability to see the world more clearly. the only thing I can claim that possibly sets me apart is that I am at least aware that I have blind spots and I have a couple of tricks to know when they are being deployed; the first is when I get angry (or emotional) rather than react rationally to something someone says (or writes) and the second is when I find that my mind wanders too easily rather being able to focus on something....the first line of defense for my beliefs is self-distraction.

"Can't really fault all of the people who have this backwards because it takes a bit of thinking and studying to arrive at this conclusion. I know that sounds like a back-handed slap nonetheless, but in truth I really understand that 99.5% of people will not self-initiate a line of inquiry that has a chance of rubbing a closely held belief the wrong way."

There are plenty of folks who, on some level, acknowledge and accept things, but also won't self-initiate any sort of response. While I know there are numerous reasons for this (many simply don't have the ability to respond), it doesn't change that, collectively, our responses will be insufficient. Case-in-point: A thread in this weekend's Drumbeat discussing a poll that found that most of those who accept that climate change is occurring aren't willing to pay higher energy prices to promote mitigation. It matters little what their reason is; only that a useful, collective response is highly unlikely to occur. I was accused of "dismissing the entire American population"...

A complex collection of predicaments meets a complex mix of awareness + lack of means + denial + distraction/complacency + the economic interests of the status quo + the shear inertia of previous economic and cultural investment. Doesn't bode well for the collective,, not at all.

...because our economy is a complex system it, like all complex systems, owes its complexity to energy flows and the steady decline in net energy will translate into a 'simpler' economy.

That is, the economic complexity we currently enjoy with tens of billions of individual economic items and hundreds of thousands of job classifications and trillions of daily transactions will simply skinny down. There will be fewer of everything.

Saying that is simple. It rolls so easily off the tongue. But what does it all mean? We cannot just transition to a simple skinny economy without massive unemployment. At least half the employed people are being paid to produce stuff we could do without, and will do without. But if half the people now employed were to become unemployed the economy would collapse, the tax base would disappear, there would be hunger riots in the streets and perhaps a thousand other things that we cannot imagine now.

Corporate profits would disappear and the stock market would crash. There would be no capital investment anywhere. That would have a snowball effect on the economy and employment.

The crime rate would skyrocket. After all, there is just not much a man would not do to keep his child, or children, from starving to death or freezing to death in the winter. The nation would require a much larger police force on a tax base that would be a fraction of what it is now.

I just don't see how the economy can skinny down without total collapse.

Ron P.

One partial answer - change the direction of the investment.


Best Hopes,


I just don't see how the economy can skinny down without total collapse.

I'm of the same opinion. The way I see it as available capitol reduces due to the net energy decline, deep cuts will need to be made to entitlements, in particular food stamps and at some threshold percentage of a disenfranchised, hungry population, the wheels come off with massive food riots. People are complacent only up to the point they are starving, then all bets are off. How do we avoid reaching that threshold on the way down a net energy decline?

If the population could magically decline as net energy declined then sure a transition could be made, but we will be playing a game of musical chairs for who lives and who does not. Those are going to be hard fought stakes.

deep cuts will need to be made to entitlements, in particular food stamps and at some threshold percentage of a disenfranchised, hungry population, the wheels come off with massive food riots.

Thing is, Americans are so obese --the less educated and poor especially-- that "going hungry" for several months might actually *improve* their overall health. That aside, I'm convinced that America is the LAST place you'll ever see "food riots" on earth. Food here is, without question, cheaper and more abundant than anywhere else on earth, relative to incomes. Yes, most of it is crap, but... Sturgeon's Law. Every time I travel outside the U.S. I'm astonished at just HOW cheap food is here vs abroad, regardless of whether you eat out or prepare it yourself. Even in the third world, food is often more expensive than it is here on a nominal basis --even when you avoid the tourist traps.

I hate the cliche, but, yes, the U.S. really *is* the "Saudi Arabia of food", at least for the forseeable future. And we still have enough nat. gas & coal to keep on trucking in the nitrogen-based fertilizer, factory farming department for a long, long time. Let's not kid ourselves here. You'll see food riots in London or Amsterdam long before you see them here. The Europeans may be fighting over locally sourced artisan cheeses, fine wines and truffles vs. stale ding dongs, Budweiser and Cheez Doodles, but... we'll still have a lot more of it per capita even then.

The elites want to hold onto and accumulate even more power. Allowing food riots to happen is not a means to that end, ergo won't happen anytime soon. 100 years from now? I don't know, but I'll be long dead by then and so will you.

I'm not sure that absolute availability of food is what precipitates food riots. IIRC the trigger is quickly rising prices amongst a population who still has the energy and ability to riot.

Artificial famines happen all the time, for example if food cannot be trucked in or if food rots or the stocks get destroyed for some reason. Sometimes there is a nutritional famine as people are forced to depend on a single crop or there is a shortage of a particular food item which is the only source of a particular nutrient.

Add enough Climate Chaos (and we seem to be doing that), plus a bit more soil depletion, and food production in the United States should plummet.

I do see food shortages in the USA. Get the population up to 500 million, and have several general crop failures in a row.


I have thought about this alot, and must agree with you.

The U.S. is nowhere close to running out of food...the clue is in the body habitus of the people, and the low prices relative to income(even accounting for recent inflation).

The remaining liquid fuels will go to the industrial farms and trucks, which will keep the Walmarts and grocery stores at least somewhat full. The quality may not be as good, and you may have to wait awhile, but you'll get something. And then you make the short trip home in your SUV, and sit down in front of 500 cable channels, and slowly develop diabetes and heart disease until you have chest pain one day and then the subsidized ambulances and hospitals rush into action to put a stent in you, and then you are on 5 meds and then you can go back to your 500 cable channels.

I don't see an end to this any time soon. It's ending yes, but the timeframe is longer than most expect.

I don't see an end to this any time soon. It's ending yes, but the timeframe is longer than most expect.

The US is probably going to be one of the places where food shortages will be caused by climate change and not fuel supply issues. If they hang you or shot you...

Well now. If at least half the people are paid to do stuff we don't need, then we have a golden opportunity staring us in the face!

Immediately after he's elected, Obama gets on the horn and makes the following declaration:

"As of now, everybody doing stuff we can do without (long list) will just not show up for work to do the stuff we don't need, but will still get paid the exact same amount for doing nothing instead of doing something worthless (an obvious bargain to the whole society) , so then they can go buy the stuff we do need and keep everybody doing something useful still doing it.

And, since there will be a huge amount of resources freed up by our quitting doing what we don't need, we can use that to get going where we ought to be going- one of which is, of course, all solar and no ff.
So now let's do it, everybody together now."

"And" says Obama, " I sure do thank all you good folks on The Oil Drum for clueing me in on this great idea. As you know, I am otherwise sorta clueless".

"As of now, everybody doing stuff we can do without (long list) will just not show up for work to do the stuff we don't need, but will still get paid the exact same amount for doing nothing instead of doing something worthless...

Obviously you haven't given this much thought Wimbi. Who is going to pay those folks for doing nothing? Now they are paid by their employer. And their employer makes money by selling stuff even though people can do without it. An extra TV, a second car, more shoes than a woman really needs and so on. But if they didn't make that stuff then no one could pay them.

And since the tax base has now almost disappeared the government couldn't pay them.

Back to the drawing board for a better idea.

Ron P.

OK, look at it as a systems problem. Here you have people doing things that either are worthless or actually harmful. And they are eating, breathing and all that, and getting paid for it! So, you tell them to just keep on eating and breathing, and getting paid, but quit doing what's no good for the rest of us. So? Society is better off, right? Since their doing nothing is more valuable to us than their doing something bad. So why not just keep paying them, since they are in fact more valuable to us doing nothing than doing what they were doing.


On the other hand, if we just want to feel comfortable and keep on thinking like conventional capitalists who pay people only when they are doing something, bad or good, well-- we all know what follows- you said it yourself- we are doomed.

Apparently, the concern is that those that are doing the necessary work to support the rest of population will give up with "why bother" and join the queue for the dole. Don't accept that argument myself. I think humans are a mite bit smarter than that.

Right, I checked it out. People LIKE to work, makes them feel like a member of the gang, whatever that happens to be. If a person is living ok, but doing nothing that anyone would credit as productive, my observation is that person in the majority of cases I know about, gets out and tries to join one or another gang doing something that people do credit.

So in my little daydream above, I see the paid but idle cigarette ad writer hear the drum for solar panel promotion person, and jump to the beat.

There are for sure, lots of deadbeats. But deadbeats are always dead wherever they may happen to be, except maybe under the lash. But most of us are really great people and always pull more than our weight, right?

Except that a lot, if not most of those people are in China, and moreover they buy bonds allowing amongst other things social benefits and budget deficit for US people being able to buy those stuff, this also made possible for a big part due to the world cop role and associated Army and industry "securing" oil in particular, with some allies ...

Really if a transition is at all possible, it is in shifting the fiscal principles, and a lot should probably be around increasing taxes on fossiles and oil in particular, decreasing taxes on work.

Problem being the printing machine more or less putting sense out of all this (and having done so for quite a long time).

Apparently Wimbi you did not even bother to read my post because you did not answer the question: Who is going to pay them? Their employer is not selling anything because no one is making anything anymore so he/she or the company has no money to pay them. And the government's tax base, from both corporate tax and individual income tax is suddenly a fraction of what it once was so the government cannot pay them even if the government bought into such a scheme.

You cannot tell them to "just keep on eating and breathing, and getting paid," because there is no one to pay them.

Think about it for a second man, if you are going to be even half way serious you must propose something that just might work. Obviously your scheme is just absurd.

Ron P.

The same resources that are available for their consumption now would still be available for that purpose if they stop "working", assuming that what they "work" at is truly unproductive (i.e., does not create such resources, only "money"). So them being "paid" (i.e., allowed to use said resources) is a societal organization problem, not a physics problem. I think that is what wimbi is saying.

As far as the societal organization, I would say that the best solution is to have everybody work fewer hours, all in productive pursuits, and have the remaining time available for unpaid pursuits. All the while still with the same resources available for consumption. Even if the true level of sustainably available resources is much lower than the current level of consumption, that could be a good life. Instead we're running on the ratrace treadmill, forgetting that all the mechanization and automation was supposed to give us more leisure, or so it was sold to us anyway.

The same resources that are available for their consumption now would still be available for that purpose if they stop "working", assuming that what they "work" at is truly unproductive (i.e., does not create such resources, only "money").

No one but no one is assuming their work is unproductive. Their work is indeed very productive, producing cars, shoes, and all kinds of consumer goods. Service workers are productive as well, cleaning hotel rooms, waiting tables and even flipping burgers. It simply doesn't matter if they are producing stuff people could do without, the point is people enjoy consuming all this stuff and this provides employment for millions of people.

1. People produce goods and services.
2. This provides employment for people.
3. Their employer sells those goods and services for money.
4. Their employer takes part of the money from those sales and pays the employees.

It makes no difference that people consume stuff they might easily do without, the point is their consumption of this stuff provides employment for millions of people.

If they don't work and produce nothing then people would indeed do without this stuff. But the people who make this stuff would be unemployed and there would be no money from any source to pay them.

It is very true that we live in a wasteful society. But if we stopped consuming all this stuff, about half of what we actually need to survive, then half the work force would be unemployed. The economy could not possibly survive 50% unemployment and it would collapse.

Ron P.

Hi, Ron,

I'm not so sure some form of "technocratic dole" would really be impossible. Maybe not at all *likely* under the status quo, given our debt-based banking system and built-in assumptions of perpetual growth (in debt, population and consumption), but not impossible. If we ended fractional reserve lending and switched to a steady-state economy with a slowly contracting population heavily based on automation, energy efficiency and social credit... then why not? It would certainly help to mitigate and delay the worst effects of PO, and allow a much smoother trsnsition to renewables, as well as facilitating a re-localization of the economy (thanks to all that free time people will have on their hands to rediscover crafts and learn new skills).

Imagine a Douglas-style social credit and universal healthcare for everyone in the U.S. Ideologically, a very, very hard sell to "socialism" hating Americans (and the elites pulling the strings), but hardly impossible. Consumption itself is largely what drives the economy even now. Why should it matter all that much if the source of most of our "money" --little more than an electronic abstraction and credit marker these days anyway-- were the "dole" vs. being conjured into existence via derivatives or mortgage-backed securities? Honestly, a large percentage of modern day jobs amount to little more than adult babysitting or "work for the sake of work" anyway. Most office jobs are so far removed from any activity that can remotely be considered "productive" or "useful" to any real human being, their loss would hardly be noticed by anyone. Except of course for the nasty effects of those lost incomes and the massive credit deleveraging they would cause. Nasty effects that could easily remedied by the aforementioned social credit + universal healthcare.

50% "unemployment" is eminently do-able, assuming you redically restructure the economy around steady state or declining growth, coupled with universal public healthcare, the dole, and of course a lot more conservation and energy efficiency (pretty low hanging fruit here is the U.S., where we get half the work out of each barrel of oil vs, Europe).

Likey to happen anytime soon? No, but impossible? No.

50% "unemployment" is eminently do-able, assuming you redically restructure the economy around steady state or declining growth, coupled with universal public healthcare, the dole, and of course a lot more conservation and energy efficiency (pretty low hanging fruit here is the U.S., where we get half the work out of each barrel of oil vs, Europe).

I don't believe it is do-able at all. During the Great Depression we had a 25% unemployment. If we had 50% unemployment the dole would have to be paid with printed money. That would work for awhile but after less than a year, a couple of years at most, the US would resemble post WWI Germany. It would take a wheelbarrow full of one hundred dollar bills to buy a loaf of bread.

Universal public health care would be in the same boat. The hospitals, doctors and other health care workers would have to be paid with printed press dollars. The economy would collapse in less than one year.

It takes a real tax base to support any economy. What we have today is a slow process to collapse due to printed press money. We will collapse if we stay on the road we are on today with only about 15% percent real unemployment. I would guess we are on perhaps a ten to twenty year collapse trajectory measured from today. Tick that up to 50% and the collapse trajectory ticks down to one year or so.

Ron P.

I'm not so sure some form of "technocratic dole" would really be impossible. Maybe not at all *likely* under the status quo, given our debt-based banking system and built-in assumptions of perpetual growth (in debt, population and consumption), but not impossible.

It might be possible but it would be a nightmare. Look at communities where welfare is the primary source of income now - native reservations, for instance. People need to work to value their lives.

The technocracy dole does not preclude working, it is an equal energy chit to everyone, which is revoked and reissued every two years. There is no stigma attached to the dole, and no reduction in benefits because of work to act as a disincentive. But there is also no money to be saved, so no incentive for energy-wasting overproduction. Methinks society would continue to reward individual accomplishments such as technological advance and increase in energy efficiency in the time-honored way.

Our genes could embrace such a system...

People need to work to value their lives.

Not sure that's true. In our Pleistocene/paleolithic past, evidence suggests that hunter-gatherers spent relatively few hours in what we would call 'work'. Community was more important to individuals valuing life.

Here's a link to Jason Godesky's thoughts on the subject matter, which I find fascinating.

They still had to work. They had to go out and make their own tools and kill or harvest their food. Some of these things require skills that take years to master. They had to fight other tribes. They had a life expectancy of like 30.

They didn't have 80 years of meaningless life handed to them on a debit card.

Point to one welfare community in the modern world where life isn't primarily a garbage-strewn drug-addicted suicidal misery, and I'll reconsider.

Point to one welfare community in the modern world where life isn't primarily a garbage-strewn drug-addicted suicidal misery, and I'll reconsider.

Well I'm not really sure which is better but there's always the garbage-strewn fossil fuel-addicted plain ole misery like this:


Prices advertised on Craigslist Monday afternoon were as high as $30 a gallon. With regular gasoline selling for an average of $3.96 in New York and $3.62 in New Jersey, according to AAA, many who go the black-market route are paying a significant premium.

Aside from price-gouging laws, freelance fuel vendors could also run into trouble for failing to pay sales taxes. But in spite of these legal issues, some drivers may be happy to secure fuel even at an increased price.

"Everybody is so appreciative that they can even get gas," said Ryan, 28, a New Yorker who was offering gas for $18 a gallon on Craigslist Monday and declined to give his last name. He said he'd been delivering gas from his truck after a friend transported it into the city from upstate New York, and had been earning between $250 and $300 a day.

"I'm just charging for delivery," he said. "I think if you can wait in a gas line, you should do it, but some people don't want to wait. Some people don't have time to wait."

"They still had to work. They had to go out and make their own tools and kill or harvest their food."

But they were not working for money. There are other rewards that people will work for other than simple survival. That is why there are starving artists. And why I garden for a hobby. Cash-flow wise (and as per Krugman) I should buy all my food and use the time spent gardening on a cash-paying job to increase GDP.

They still had to work. They had to go out and make their own tools and kill or harvest their food.

All that works out to be about three hours a day for modern day foraging societies. They live only in the least hospitable areas. Presumably, in better climates they would have to work even less.

They had a life expectancy of like 30.

Life expectancy is pretty good for foragers. Low to mid-seventies. It's agricultural societies that suffer greatly shortened lifespans (due to high infant mortality - if you survived childhood, you would probably live a normal lifespan).

Life expectancy is pretty good for foragers. Low to mid-seventies. It's agricultural societies that suffer greatly shortened lifespans (due to high infant mortality - if you survived childhood, you would probably live a normal lifespan).

Thank you for pointing this out.

The average modal age of adult death for hunter-gatherers is 72 with a range of 68-78 years. This range appears to be the closest functional equivelent of an "adaptive" human lifespan.

"Longevity Among Hunter-Gatherers: A Cross-Cultural Examination" (UCSB)

Thanks for that paper. Now I have something to smack with those touting life expectancy. I recall reading that the number of diseases in human populations absolutely exploded in agricultural societies, and even more so in medieval and ancient cities with poor sanitation, mostly as a result of dense, permanent settlements and regular contact with domesticated animals. In short humans turned themselves into a petri-dish for microbes.

OTOH Romans had sanitation with baths and toilets. I used to visit one old fort that had multi-seater toilets flushed by a stream diverted from the river. Also, I know of one medieval abbey that also had effective plumbing.


So did the IVC who predated the Romans by about 1000-2000 years.

But they were at the pinnacle of their evolution, given the number of horror stories about diseases (we even have a deity for small pox) and the cost of implementing and maintaining these things, I am more inclined to believe that for the vast majority of cities sanitation was extremely poor.

Thanks, interesting. Yes, these cultures seemed a peak that was followed by the dark ages. I sometimes wonder if we have ever recovered.


You can see the effect of agriculture on human skeletons in Europe. Stone Age people were as tall and robust as modern humans. The advent of agriculture resulted in shorter, stunted skeletons with signs of malnutrition. This has only reversed in the last hundred years or so - the fossil fuel fiesta.

The density of agricultural populations is part of the problem. Even with perfect sanitation, there are a lot of people living close to each other, and that means disease spreads more easily. But there's more to it than that. Being settled meant women could have a child every year, rather than once every 3-5 years, as is typical in foraging societies. This was hard on women, and also on the children born so close together.

Famine and starvation became problems in a way they were not before. Many foraging societies can't even conceive of starvation. Bad times means eating things that aren't your first choice, not dying for lack of food. If pickings are scant where you are, you go somewhere else. That did not work once people became dependent on agriculture.

3 score years and 10.


It makes no difference that people consume stuff they might easily do without, the point is their consumption of this stuff provides employment for millions of people.

That is the key point of course. One could start the change by making 'toys' that don't use fossil fuels, but the change has started, or will start, so late that it will be difficult to prevent an economic depression. And for essential transportation the challenges also are very high. And for the tourist industry which depend on the aviation sector.

Let us now take a couple of deep breaths and relax. After all, this is nothin' but a chat, wot? Supposed to be good for body and soul, like a peanut butter cracker.

I was responding to your very good point that a lot of stuff we do isn't worth doing. I totally 130% agree to that.
Yes. And, those people doing not worth stuff are in fact getting paid. right. And, if they quit doing it and didn't get paid then the money would quit running around and the rest of the house of cards would shake itself down, Right, right.

So, says I, ok, so we pay them just like they had been and let them stop doing whatever ain't worth doing, and the house of cards can keep wobbling along a while. No one is going to pay them? Well, we paid them before so let's just keep paying them. How? By getting together and deciding to do it as one big happy family would.

Example. The soft drink distributer quits delivering soft drinks to a big fridge that eats up 10 times as much coalelectric as my whole house does. He still gets his pay, which comes out of the pockets of everybody who is now not drinking the swill he previously dispensed, as well as from my pocket which has never seen one nickel depart in that direction. Why would I agree to that? Because no man is an island, and I am a part of the main, and i would like to prevent any further erosion of my shores by yet another wave of sugar water.

And, of course, I would also like to see the good stuff happen. So, along with his pay for not doing soft drinks, the distributer gets an offer to haul windmill parts up the hill. He takes it, after all, he's getting paid.

Hm-sounds like big government to me. It is. Government IS me, it's how I get things done that need all of us to do them.

That's not just big government, that's a huge intrusive government that would not have popular support and would have to use authoritarian measures to accomplish its goals.

I hate soft drinks and would love to see them eliminated (in theory). I basically support Bloomberg's big sweet drink ban.

But you are proposing preventing businesses from activities that you think are useless (or less valuable) and having the government reallocate (and really by force as their isn't any other mechanism) resources to favored industries.

I don't necessarily oppose a larger government role in many of these things, especially at a regulatory level. I think one can make rational arguments that human history shows this could be an improvement.

However, the level of centralized planning you are advocating has failed everywhere it has been tried. It is also clear that there is no way this could be accomplished in the US (or probably anywhere else) without force.

And this is not because of corporate control of the government (which I don't deny is a big problem), but because you would not be able to convince a significant segment of the electorate that it would work - and because it probably would not work.

Or is the first step of your plan dispatching the electorate through a coup of some sort?

Jack, and all you others too. I am grateful for all responses to my little flight of fancy. Even those which say I am a fool and bad for business. I shall now bow out and go back to playing with my crackpot gadgets, like god intended me to do.

But as I go out to the shop, I say to myself- Is it true that I would have to be coerced to pay a guy to quit working to poison my granddaughter with souped up sugar water? Answer is no. No army, no gestapo required, I would do it just because my granddaughter would then be better off.

And of course, I would even more like to pay that guy to do something I want done, like help get off ff.

Would I be able to convince the electorate to go along with me to do this? Most certainly not. So now what?

So --you are right, of course the first step of my plan IS to dispatch the electorate, as I have already admitted elsewhere, and replace it with what KD has marvelously labeled as a government of "Adult Supervision".

Not only do I think soft drinks should be dumped, but also the whole idea of a democracy as she is presently practiced--note present election to see why. I wonder, whatsamatterwitme? Dunno.

One man's adult supervision is another man's oppressor. I'd take Obama under democracy over KD's unregulated "wise (wo)men" any day.

I acknowledge democracy's flaws, in particular as currently practiced in the US. Compared to the perfect it sucks, compared to reality, less so.

As Churchill said: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

I don't think you are a fool, or bad for business (well maybe a little bit). Enjoy the shop.

Reading a thread first can greatly improve the generally perceived reliability of a respondent.


Yeah. Read that. Still don't know what you are talking about. But nothing new there.

Not even a guess?

You want me to guess how reading the linked thread first would have greatly improved the generally perceived reliability of my response?

But I don't think it would have.

I will guess what you mean by "generally perceived reliability of my response": it means "what you think".

And by the way, if you are advocating alternatives to democracy, you're not alone:

He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country

- Donald Trump

And I suspect that Donald and his gang would be better positioned to pull off the coup than your lot.

1). Donald J. Trump, for his tweet:

He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!

Trump has since deleted this tweet, maybe after he learned Obama would not lose the popular vote.


It is a single party. The duopoly won. In a winner-take-all system, in a system without proportional representation, there is no way to quietly intervene. The corporations hedge their bets by buying both sides. Both sides loyally promise to accelerate the rush to produce, sell, and burn all of the carbon in the ground.

Now that it is politically inert, does the XL pipeline get approved?

My point in quoting Donald Trump is that both sides sound the same when they are losing. The stories about conspiracies, mainstream (lame stream) media, and stupid/evil voters come out in very similar format from both sides. You would only need to change a word here or there and they would be indistinguishable. So while some here are wishing that their version of adult supervisors could just take over everything and change it to suit them, their mirror images are doing the same thing.

I don't really agree with the "same party" theory, although I do agree with many of the supporting arguments. In my view, the far right wing (which may be near the majority) of the Republican Party are anti-science, pro-faith, and seek to impose their social values on the rest of us, and that alone is enough difference to me.

At the same time, it is clear that there is a huge amount of overlap. Some is caused by what you view as corporations buying both sides. But some is also caused by the fact that anyone in government has to be more pragmatic than anyone in power. Even in France and Spain, no one is seriously suggestion demolishing the banking system. And global banks aren't that different from US banks. Is that because they have all been bough off, or because at their core they know that the world needs banks? I think it's a bit of both.

It's a case of perspective. To us a corgi and a pit bull are very different entities, but to a cat, not so much.

I agree that the nexus of business and government, cemented in the US by unlimited donations and lobbyists, is a cancer on the system. But have capitalists taken over government? I'd say no.

I see vested interests of all types; politicians, large corporations, unions, etc, conspiring to to keep their position at the top. But I think this is inherent to human ventures and the US is far from unique. But I do see it as a bug, not a feature.

I agree this cancer transcends party lines and perverts both. But that doesn't mean they are indistinguishable.

Adult supervision really is what is missing.

Right now, things run amuck, the horses run wild, insurance cleans up the mess while fines and penalties cut the government in for a piece of the action. Oxycontin is a great example: Touted as non-addictive to sell it into the system... while it is actually most addictive... so the government reacts by pocketing a goodly fine, sales go on, and insurance picks up the mess of pharmacy break-ins and the general mayhem that ensues.

4:00 AM analogy: The kids are playing war in the back yard. A leader emerges, rises through the ranks, a true leader: plans, executes, inspires, works logistics. The adult steps in and takes away the real gun that's been fetched from a nearby household. Ahhh boo! They were having a great time! The gun made a great prop. They were innocent of the true danger. Or, was the true danger conveniently ignored in the face of such fun? It is always so hard to tell...


Gee. KD, you are a mind reader. That exact war game actually did happen to me. I jimmied open my father's gun drawer and got out his big ugly army issue '45, pulled out the magazine, and ran downstairs to the war, pushed the muzzle against best buddy's head, and yanked the trigger. If I had been only a little stronger, I could have released the safety built into the grip for just that contingency.

Carlos let out a big yell " Get away, that thing might be loaded". I said, "Nah, no bullets", and yanked back the carriage to prove it. A huge hideous 45 live round flipped out of the chamber and whacked down on the deck. I nearly fainted. 50 years later at a reunion, Carlos had still not forgiven me.

There had been no adult supervision, but in a parallel universe, there sure was a hell of a mess on the deck.


One in the chamber. Chambered round. The downfall of so many. What ultimate good luck you both had that day.

The problem so often pointed-out is that evolution does not offer to cover the organizational level called civilization, civilization in the formal sense, very well. The time-frames and variables involved in selecting for robust individuals and stable small groups do allow the directed search that is evolution to close on these solutions fairly quickly. The only large coherent ensembles of individuals that I know of are things like hives and slime-molds. In hives, individuals do not routinely reproduce.

Slime Mold Finds the Shortest Path in a Maze and such

...something would have to give

wimbi - Support a soft drink tax, and a carbon tax. And other taxes on bad things.

Taxes will reduce, but not eliminate, the bad things.


PS: I drink about one soft drink every other month (~6/year). An occasional sin with minimal negative effects.

Alan. Thanks for cutting to the core of it. That's really all I was getting at with my fable- push for the goods, and against the bads, we can call it taxes. All together now. Push.

As for occasional sin, I for one am all for it, --as long as she is not lookin'.

Hi all

Just delurking for a minute.

This thread reminds me of this sketch....


Sums it up, really.


Wonderfully funny skit!

I have thought for a long time that a gifted satirist is worth a thousand politicians. Or bloggers.

OK, maybe a hundred bloggers.---of the right kind, of course.

With the big fridge for soft drinks shut down, there will be a glut of electricity causing price to plunge eliminating the need for windmill parts. If the distributor is allowed to get his lifetime pension at full pay and continue to do other work, then that will likely depress all wages from a glut of unemployed workers looking for something to do. The ones doing useful work without pensions will be replaced by ones with pensions working for lower pay. They will then be unemployed without anything. You have rewarded the people doing useless work and shafted the people doing useful work.

Maybe all those unemployed people with pensions will now have enough time and extra cash (because they are not traveling to work or paying babysitters) to have more children. Congratulations, you have spurred population growth.

As guidance from the grand tabernacle of The Peak Oil Movement, located somewhere in the woods of the former great East Texas oil fields, all I ask is to review the human population growth chart. Note the recent exponential rise and its positive correlation to the oil production curve. Now, referring to any basic ecology book or review paper, ask thyself: "What known species or group of organisms has ever produced such a growth curve and then remained at the highest population levels after the growth medium (cheap oil) has been rapidly removed?"

The world is not at peak energy. The exponential rise in human population also correlates with increased energy consumption. In Wimbi's scenario he eliminated the manufacture of useless widgets and useless services which should make some energy and resources available for other uses. If there are millions of 20- and 30-somethings with lifetime pensions, they will probably multiply from a lack of other distractions.

I guess the key is not to pay them well enough to have more children, or structure incentives against having children, e.g. China.

But this is a key point, the type of transition you are advocating could only be brought about through coercion, with the people who agree with you forcing it on the majority that don't.

The two questions that come up are:

1) You and what army? Hoe are you going to get people to comply with your vision.
2) Are you really sure the net impact of this massive transition would be beneficial?

Starving people top below reproduction levels would be brutal. Chinese style "incentives" against having children have been horribly repressive and unpopular, even in the context of an authoritarian regime.

I am not totally unsympathetic with your utopian concepts, but getting there is going to involve human suffering at a level probably never seen by mankind and there is little evidence that it would even work if you could get there.

That having been said, it would be nice for non-human inhabitants of the planet, and there is probably a strong argument that climate change itself may involve human suffering at a level probably never seen by mankind.

Either people do family planning on their own or Nature will do it for us. I guess some people would take a hands off approach and I understand that as well, any humble person will do the same, but then you are indirectly choosing the second option.

I think it could happen more or less organically. Think of the massive government projects during the Great Depression, initiated solely to give people jobs. The Depression took away a lot of the stigma of poverty, because so many were suffering. It's possible that another depression would remove a lot of the resistance to government programs.

I don't think it would be all that hard getting people to do what you want them to do, as long as you pay them. The problems are stopping them from doing what you don't want them to and what happens when you run out of money.

I don't think we'd have to stop them from doing anything. The economy would do that.

As for money...the government can always print more of it. Or if they don't want to do that, there are other options. The return of poor farms? They were common in the US until social security and other programs took over.

But this is a key point, the type of transition you are advocating could only be brought about through coercion, with the people who agree with you forcing it on the majority that don't.

Well, wimbi said he would do it voluntarily for the benefit of his descendants. After thinking about I've decided he is right and I'm going to join him. Hey that's two of us, anyone else want to join?

BTW 'Real Adults' shouldn't need supervision or forcing by the 'MAN' to do the right thing for their kids, right?... yes, I'm a true anarchist at heart >;-)

Seriously, I think we can all agree that what we have now ain't workin! So thinking outside the box a bit about what might work can't hurt. Though I'll be the first to admit that I haven't a clue as to what will.

I think the real problem is most of us are scared sh!tless of failing. If you fail try again.

Thomas Edison failed over 900 times when developing his light bulb. After he succeeded, a reporter asked him what it was like to have failed 900 times. Thomas Edison told the reporter, " I didn't fail once. I found 900 ways in which it doesn't work."...Talk about positive outlook.

Basically Agree. I think we do need a grownup on the scene.. and we should each be willing to take turns at it, or pick up an end.

I had a good Leadership model presented to me at Chewonki, a fairly enlightened (if I may say so myself) summer camp and enviromental education foundation in Maine.. where they put forward a high level of expectation that all the staff consider themselves as interchangable leaders and supporters of leaders.

In any given situation, if no leadership has yet formed, to identify the leadership needs and either work to fill that seat, or recognize whoever else has already figured out a way to help direct the situation, and support them.

Leadership wasn't presented as a 'class above', simply one of the necessary roles to be filled in order to 'get her done', and to do so in a 'Mature and Sensitive Fashion' ..

What's funny is that our present society is already full of people who are paid to do nothing, business and industry and government are full of them. And we're recognizing that in fact sometimes what they do is even worse than nothing, and that someone pays them to do it anyway, but the idea of paying them to actually stop doing harmful things is hard for folks to wrap their heads around. Of course if what they do is perceived as beneficial to one person in a position of power, then it goes on regardless of if it negatively impacts others. Our system was designed to protect property and power, not to maximize benefits to the society as a whole.

So while I would also go along with Wimbi's scheme, that's really the problem - there are not enough who would, and it's not clear to me how such a transformation of society could happen without major disruption. That is sort of the function of collapse. I do not think the historical record has too many examples of intentional, planned radical re-inventions of society, but then I'm not a historian. It seems to me that usually the old one has to end first, often rather violently, and only then can a new system be created. It would certainly be nice to skip that step though.

More absurd than the current scheme? I think you can trivially make the argument that we're already paying them with printed money, just keep the presses churning. By the time we get to that point, everyone's gonna see the writing on the wall, and not argue, even the tea party, right? Ok, I'm sort of joking, but the whole of the human endeavor is looking more & more absurd by the moment...why not have some fun with BAU while it unwinds, as a sideshow?

"And since the tax base has now almost disappeared the government couldn't pay them."

How about a robot tax assessed on the owners of the robots equal to the taxes the replaced humans would have paid?

I've been wondering how society will deal with the replacement of people with machines for awhile, and I still haven't hit on a good solution. Douglas' Social Credit was an early take on how to deal with the problem of an economy that had more productivity than was actually needed.

If you look back there were assumptions that by now we would be working 20 hour weeks. Instead we are working more, especially exempt workers, as the cost of benefits and competition drives employers to get as much out of the workers as possible. Even for hourly workers it's cheaper to pay the overtime than hire another worker. Unless (and it looks like an unintended effect of Obama-care is taking hold) you use them as part-time help and avoid all benefits. But that only works for unskilled jobs.

So if current trends continue we could end up where the robots get the good jobs, and the humans are picking strawberries as part timers.

Businesses have been ramping up use of part-time workers for many years, due to the cost avoidance of not having to pay fringe benefits and due to the 'throttling' ability to 'load follow' customer demand more easily...well before the advent of the Affordable Health care Act.

Disconnect health care from employment and implement Medicare Part E...'E' for everyone. Similar ideas work decently in Canada and many other countries. Maybe we are happy with our poor health care outcomes compared to many other countries which spend considerable less per capita than the United States!

The part-time to avoid benefits including health care and time off needs to change, pronto, or it's going to be a complete mess in the coming years. The "full time" cap of 40 hours/week for over-time should be retained or reduced to 32 hours/week (promotes work sharing), but the line of 32 hours/week being full-time needs to be abolished in favor of a Pro Rata system such that partial benefits are payed starting with that first hour. That way there is no difference in the proportional benefits of someone working 32h/w vs someone 31h/w.

I can just imagine the political optics of this solution. We already have the dissing of the 47%. Now we get another huge chunk, who gets a free paycheck without having to even work. So easy to demagogue. Plus the incentives are really bad. Take a job producing worthless stuff, and you stand a good chance of being rewarded with a lucrative early retirement at full pay. Take a job doing something valuable, and now you get to support the new freeloader class too.

We'll see, but what is not in doubt is that economic complexity is a function of net energy, not the other way around.

I doubt it. The relationship is far more nuanced than one being a function of the other. A certain level of complexity is needed to access some net energy, which makes more complexity possible, which provides access to more net energy, etc. The cycle isn't infinite, of course

If you were right, the decline in net energy since the dawn of the fossil fuel age would mean less complexity. Instead, complexity has grown even as net energy has decreased. There's still a lot of room for increased complexity, too, because there's still a lot of room for economy divided by net energy to grow, even if there's no room for the economy to grow overall. (And I agree, there isn't much room for overall growth.)

I think you're right that the relationship is nuanced, and iterative, as you describe. But one clarification of that... economic complexity is a function of the amount of net energy available to society, as opposed to the net energy ratio. It is the latter that has been falling. But while overall gross energy extracted continue to grow, the net available energy could also grow (albeit a bit slower) even while the net energy ratio fell. But now that we are at or near peak, and the net energy ratio is falling rapidly, then the amount of net energy is now also falling (or perhaps, very soon will be). From the numbers I've looked at, and very roughly speaking, we were on a net per capita energy plateau from about 1980 to about 2005. It's been in slow decline for half a decade or so now. Observe results, and extrapolate forward at an accelerating pace...

I think this is closer to the reality. My model suggests that we started going into deceleration of net energy per capita in the early 70s and because of the exponential growth in population, even as the gross energy and aggregate net energy continued to increase, the peak of net per capita came roaring at us in just a couple of decades. Most of the global response in the labor markets (off-shoring) and the financialization of the world economies, including the ludicrous bubbles in many markets, has been due to this rapid deceleration. It is hard to see the peak given that there is a plateau effect from internal negative feedbacks just as with gross and aggregate net. But I have reason to believe we are already into the decline phase of net and so long as population continues to grow at the current rate there will be a very rapid acceleration in decline. Note that this is not just from oil or even aggregate fossil fuels (e.g. peak ff as upthread). This is total energy available to do useful work (or even work not really useful but deemed desirable by our hedonistic society).


But one clarification of that... economic complexity is a function of the amount of net energy available to society, as opposed to the net energy ratio.

I don't think this is right, either. After all, the same iterative process is at work on the total amount of net energy, too. Both the amount available and the EROEI rely on the amount of complexity, just as complexity relies on them.

Consider two societies with identical total net energies. One uses incandescent lighting for everything, the other uses LEDs. Which one is likely to be more complex?

Jersey -

I agree. To a certain extent, complexity can actually be a trade-off for energy in that complexity can lower entropy - allowing the system to get more efficient. The greatest risk with complexity is a loss in robustness because the system is more dependent on that complexity continuing to work. If unexpected things happen - external shocks, running out of something far before it was expected, etc - then the more complex system is in trouble.

Here's another prediction; because our economy is a complex system it, like all complex systems, owes its complexity to energy flows and the steady decline in net energy will translate into a 'simpler' economy.

Time to bring up technocracy again: the replacement of a hit and miss capital system with one that directs investment through a scientific understanding of energy flows. Such a system could be even more complex than the one we have, and subject to its own problems. However it does stop kicking the energy can down the road by way of Ponzi quantitative easement schemes. And the technocrats laid out a humane plan for the transition, albeit for a much smaller population than we are blessed with now.

Our self-perpetuating technological civilisation is already a technocracy, run by technicians. Whatever political veneer is slapped on to this self-sustaining system of technological advancement to make it more acceptable to mankind will change nothing. A technocratic dictatorship would be a more honest representation of our true position, but the reality would probably be to much for people to bear. It would probably also accelerate our demise not dissimilar to giving the financial system "carte blanche" over the economy.

As individuals we can try and get off the run-away train, at great personal risk, or sit back and enjoy the ride while it lasts. That's about it as far as choices go. Like someone on TOD said, predicaments only have outcomes, not solutions.

I truly wonder why you people are always so stuck on "defining the solution".

There are policies that allow to favor/push any solution without having to define them.

These are called volume based taxes on the input which usage must be lowered.

Doesn't mean of course the work on defining the solution isn't important, in fact it is made even more so through this.

And taxes on work can be lowered in parallel.

Doesn't mean either that some technocracy isn't required, especially to determine common infrastructure projects and strategies.

"the importance of public education"

Hi Chris,

I'm half way through building a new house for the folks (we've sub-divided their land, selling the front house). All the luck they had leading into retirement has been mostly frittered away and they need the cash. Fingers crossed our real estate market doesn't nose-dive for a few months yet.

Though I've always found much material-world conversation a bit of a shoulder shrug, lately I've treated it as largely trivial. So I keep my mouth shut. There is very little public discourse about our kid's future it seems (even in my little circle - and I'm quite social, FWIW) and I don't see that changing any time soon. And yes, I've handed your DVD around to dozens of folks over the past few years.

In short, I'm from the "long, declining plateau to a cliff" brigade and so doubt public education will ever reach a desirable level.

Thank you again for your ongoing commitment none the less.

Kind regards, Matthew Blain
Melbourne, Australia

In short, I'm from the "long, declining plateau to a cliff" brigade and so doubt public education will ever reach a desirable level.

That's an interesting viewpoint; "long, declining plateau to a cliff". If May 05 started the plateau and we are still on it in Nov. 2012 (7.5 yrs. later), then I wonder how many more years until the cliff. Could it last another 7.5 years? Is there some basic mathematical way to figure it?

For example peak oil in a country usually occurs 30-40 later than peak discovery. So are the number of years the plateau can last a certain fraction of the overall time since oil was first extracted? Let's say for instance the plateau lasts 1/10th as long as the entire time of extraction, which would be about 1/10th of 150 years = 15 years, so the plateau can last another 7.5 years. I'm thinking 1/10th the time sounds about right.

Written by Perk Earl:
Is there some basic mathematical way to figure it?

Yes, the area around the peak usually persists for about 10% of the width of the curve. If world crude oil production will persist for 200 to 300 years, then the width of the peak could be up to 20 to 30 years. If the peak occurs after the world has consumed 60% of URR due to enhanced oil recovery and increased price, then the falling edge will be steeper than the rising edge. 20 years around the peak produces ~540 billion barrels of crude oil and 30 years, produces ~810 billion barrels.

The North Sea Production as an example from Our Finite World: World Oil Production – Looking for Clues as to What may be Ahead, Dec. 16, 2010:

About 25% of the URR (estimated 60 billion barrels) of the North Sea field was produced around the peak. It is plausible for the global peak to occur in 2016 and fall off the plateau in 2025.

A "declining" plateau...

Looks flat, but just rolling away over time, perhaps decades. Plodding along 'til the end of global capitalism (as we know it) and the rapid transition to "Plan B", whatever that may be. This'll happen should the "salesmen" (the billionaires and them others) continue to play their part - pushing the limits, for better or worse; repeat, repeat - and we the people continue to want more, with less effort, faster, faster... Exponentially so.

Just a gut feeling, but it seems apparent thousand of years of human thinking won't change anytime soon.

Of course, what the hell would I know.

Cheers, J

Plodding along 'til the end of global capitalism (as we know it) and the rapid transition to "Plan B", whatever that may be.

I'm not so sure about the plodding part but otherwise I think you pretty much nailed it...

Wiley's Olduvai

Hmm, RE: "The problems we see are nothing.."

It seems like some EU countries are farther over the edge of the falls than we are. Are they going into some fun rapids or are they facing a free-fall, and are there water or rocks at the bottom there?

( and do you know who packed your 'chute?)

Peak oil isn't the main problem for Europe; the Euro is.

They are both problems for Europe. The whole Euro Zone is suffering from high FF costs across the board. This is hampering a return to economic growth which is needed for the member states to grow their way out of all that bogus bank debt that they nationalized through bailouts. The flawed structure of the Euro zone is also a problem.

You can not have 1 currency and 17 administrations. It works well when everything is good, but come a crisis, you will see its flaws. I know of no currency that lasted for a long while, when it had multiple administrations.

The ongoing crisis shows the weakness of the system, and the politicans have 2 options; going back to national currencies, or implement a common united administration.

Which one do you think they will chose? I use to say that once you give an astronomer a larger telescope, he will not want to go back to the old smaller one. And once you give a politician more power, he will not want to go back to less power. So guess what they will try to do?

You can not have 1 currency and 17 administrations.

I think it is possible if, and only if, all involved accept the solution of sovereign default (e.g. by Greece). The rules set up at the inception of the Euro about limits on deficits were a fairy tale. Unfortunately the lender states don't want to accept the default of some of their sovereign banks that would surely occur should Greece default.

No, it is not feasible to have a common currency without having a common economic policy. When they are using the same currency, you can't allow countries such as Greece to have heavy government deficit spending when other countries such as Germany are running extremely restrained economic policies.

The solution for countries such as Greece and Spain is to go off the Euro and issue their own currencies. Their currency will fall to a value against the Euro which is consistent with their economies, and their workers will suffer a de-facto wage cut which will make them competitive against German workers again. Their companies will suffer a similar profit cut which will also make them competitive. They may not like it (nor will the Germans), but it will mitigate their unemployment problems.

Defaulting on debts is not the solution - it just screws up the financial system. They need to take a hit in the pocketbook (in terms of currency depreciation against the Euro) to make them competitive again.

Funny, default worked quite well for Iceland.

Yes, it worked well for Iceland because much of the money owed by the banks was owed to foreigners in Britain and Holland.

As is the case for Greek debt.

The Republic of Iceland had also completely paid off their national debt about four years before "defaulting".

Kind of like the guy with the 770 (out of 800) credit score that has a heroin addict brother that gets ahold of his credit cards.

He can't pay the charges he never authorized - but he is still the good reliable person he always was. Makes a good living with sustainable fishing (they claim the best regulated fisheries in the world) and smelting aluminum with renewable energy plus a few odd jobs.

Given their credit history - would you lend to Iceland ?

I would - as long as that brother is out of the picture (he is).


Hint: A good credit history is an asset when disaster hits.

It worked for Argentina, too. Seems like default is the way to go.

Debt jubilees used to happen all the time. But those were simpler times back then...now it's easier to inflate and steal from the poor. God save us from deflation because the sky will fall if one bank goes under. The poor and middle classes are complicit as well, they get scared of all the fear mongering on Television. Hunker down and let a deflation come.

When they are using the same currency, you can't allow countries such as Greece to have heavy government deficit spending when other countries such as Germany are running extremely restrained economic policies.

Yes I see the assertion but not the explanation. Visibly, many EU countries like Greece *did* run huge deficits for years. Visibly, these deficits in an of themselves did not destroy the Euro. What they deficits have done is place the Greece and others at risk of default, absent more free money from Germany.

Defaulting on debts is not the solution - it just screws up the financial system.

The financial system is screwed up now. And there have been literally hundreds of sovereign defaults over the centuries. In any case, the Euro has been created, perhaps it should not have been, but *exiting* the Euro will screw up the financial system like nothing we've ever seen, as it is the equivalent of a massive bank run, on all banks in the exiting country.

Greece did run deficits for many years, but it lied about its deficit situation when it adopted the Euro as its currency. If it had told the truth, it might not have been allowed to join the Euro zone.

Exiting the Euro zone would not necessarily be that traumatic if it was executed properly. It could be just a straightforward currency substitution, Drachmas for Euros. Certainly it would be less traumatic than defaulting on its debts.

When I first heard that Greece was to join the Euro, my thought was What the Fluff are they thinking? About a year ago there was a radio interview where an expert was asked why they where let in. He said that basicly they were thinking that well Italy was let in, and Greece is the cradle of democracy and such, so they could as well let the greek join to. I say that everybody knew it was a bad idea, but no one dared saying it out loud.

Greece did run deficits for many years, but it lied about its deficit situation ...

Agreed, but which is beside the point. The point was, if I understand you, that monetary unions (alone) can not work under any circumstances because of sovereign deficits, not because they might *lie* about deficits.

Exiting the Euro zone would not necessarily be that traumatic if it was executed properly. It could be just a straightforward currency substitution, Drachmas for Euros. Certainly it would be less traumatic than defaulting on its debts.

I'm no economist, stopped after Macro and Micro 201. For what it is worth, I do read many of them, across the political spectrum. Many of them said years ago, most notably Friedman, that a European monetary union was likely a mistake, for the reasons now realized. Today, well after the fact, I read a couple that suggested said a Euro exit may be required. But I've not read a single one that suggests exiting the Euro *could*, under any circumstances, be less than traumatic.

The problem is that an exit has all the problems and psychology or any bank run where the mob its money out, now, plus more problems: the Euro is also a default unit of measure, like the meter for distance or the hour for time. And like these other units of measurement they can not be arbitrarily changed (and a new currency will be utterly arbitrary) without creating chaos (e.g. 'hmm, I have failed to deliver on time so I will redefine the definition of the hour').

So, every contract drawn where some X amount of service or Y amount of substance was to be delivered for some Z amount of Euros becomes instantly altered. A smiling government that says, "we will gladly replace the Euros you own today with our Drachmas tomorrow", is no help, given it has just proven to be fraudulent and incompetent with budgets.

Monetary union can work. Witness the CFA Franc, used in 14 countries. Born in 1945 and still going strong. Controlled by one central bank. (Actually two Francs and two banks, I'm simplifying here.)

The problem is the management. It should be one currency = one authority. But every Euro country has a certain amount of independence regarding the Euro, as I understand it. This is what has caused the problem.

I see no reason why an international currency can't work the same as a national currency. If you lend a zillion dollars to general Motors and GM goes bang, it is not a crisis for the dollar, it is a crisis for GM. Because GM has no say in managing the dollar.

Zimbabwe is effectively on a US dollar standard, having destroyed their own currency. It is not a problem for the US dollar. Zimbabwe can go bankrupt and it will not affect the dollar one whit, because Zimbabwe does not dictate policy re the US dollar.

Blaming 'The Euro' is like blaming the messenger.

What do most of those Euros get spent on or loaned against? Cheap Energy has been the catch-all that has rescued previous economic perils.. but that Cavalry doesn't appear to be coming in this time.

Then why isn't the rest of the industrial world in the same dire straits as Greece and Spain? Answer: other nations have control of their money.

The rest of the industrialized world is in very similar straits, it seems to me.. they are all taking the hits, including the other Euro-based economies.. it's just that the weakest are stumbling harder and earlier.

Surely currency is involved in this.. but as far as I'm concerned, it is an expression of the underlying problems of declining EROEI, increasing energy costs.. the fundamentals.

The rest of the world isn't in the same straits as the PIIGS: 25% unemployment, 50% unemployment of young people. Not even most of the Eurozone is. Peak oil is a problem, but it just doesn't have the explanatory power of monetary mismanagement.

No, the rest of the world is not in the same dire straits. I live in Canada, which is doing very well, thank you. The government books are close to being in balance, none of the banks has gone bankrupt, and mortgage default rates are at about the lowest level in history. Australia is in a similar position.

However, Canada has been running a completely different economic policy than either the US or EU, the Bank of Canada (the central bank) keeps the commercial banks on a very short leash, and the country is a major energy exporter rather than importer which helps a lot.

None of this is accidental and has required a lot of attention to economic realities. At one time the US was making Canada look very bad, with much lower government deficit rates and a stronger focus on banking stability and energy production, but apparently those days are gone.

I'm beginning to view these events on a Climate vs. Weather argument where energy is the driver of the climate and monetary kerfuffles are the storms within that climate.

Canada and Australia still have substantial housing bubbles.

And when the China story ends, as it inevitably will, it will drag down production and exports of commodities.

So they are both due for a fall. Having said, that, Canada in particular strikes me as perhaps a better place to ride out the collapse, if you don't mind the cold.

No, the rest of the world is not in the same dire straits. I live in Canada, which is doing very well, thank you. The government books are close to being in balance, none of the banks has gone bankrupt, and mortgage default rates are at about the lowest level in history. Australia is in a similar position.

Sounds a lot like the case of the man who has fallen off the top of a fifty story building and thinks everything is just fine as he passes the 25th story on the way down. He's absolutely convinced that he alone is exempt from the fate of the other 25 people that fell before him and are already splattered on the sidewalk below!

Do you really think Canada and especially Australia will continue to do well with the current paradigm as the rest of the world's economies disintegrate? Do you think Canada all by its lonesome has some magical shield that exempts it from the laws of nature? Let's say that Climate change suddenly allows Canada to become the bread basket of the world do you have some plan in place that will keep the hordes of climate refugees from the lower 48 at bay? Are you going to build a wall and shoot all the intruders?

Just substitute Canada for Germany in this comment of mine.

After that google Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot.

And to prove that I'm not all doom and gloom here's a couple of really cool Canadians with their take on the Burgess Shale... and species extinction.
Cambrian Explosion... Oh Canada, oh Caaanaaadaaa!

Yes, the time to build the wall is now.

At a Loss? There’s Always Canada

Super Aegis 2

Super Aegis 2?!

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
—Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1997 reprint, pp. xv–xvi

Bah! What's the point >:-(

I left the Canada comment alone initially, but will now mention that a great provider for their economy comes directly from tapping a massive store of natural riches and raw materials, including both the Quebec Hydro and the Tar Sands .. so we might try to keep mindful of the degrees to which energy sources are really subsidizing our sense of personal, economic prowess.

Each one brings their own 'additional expenses Bills' farther down the road which can sober up the initially Baccanalian Reviews..

Greece and the others have not had that sort of natural resource inventory to fall back on for many centuries now..

Do you think Canada all by its lonesome has some magical shield that exempts it from the laws of nature?

Well, it is the second biggest country on Earth after Russia, and does have fewer people than California or Spain. That does provide a bit of a buffer against running out of food, water, or other natural resources.

Let's say that Climate change suddenly allows Canada to become the bread basket of the world do you have some plan in place that will keep the hordes of climate refugees from the lower 48 at bay? Are you going to build a wall and shoot all the intruders?

Well, building walls and shooting at invaders worked pretty well the last time the United States tried to invade Canada. I did a tour of the fortresses some years ago, and the walls were quite impressively designed. You have to be a fan of star fortresses to appreciate it. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans got shot in the conflict, as well as a lesser number of Canadians. This is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, by the way.

On Oct 30, westexas put a dollar amount on the Global Public Debt per Available Cumulative Net Exports minus Chindia,as Debt per Barrel(DPB).
$150 DPB in '05, $525 DPB in '11.
Probably not a good trend..

Those who were more profligate in borrowing against future net energy are going to suffer more and sooner. But every nation is guilty to one degree or another. Some, like China, starting with a larger savings base, will weather the storm a bit better, but sooner or later they run out too.

Wealth = work done = energy available - pretty simple actually.

I don't know how smooth the transitions will be, but it seems they can be done without the imminent collapse of industrial civilization. The economic problems we see are nothing compared to the catastrophes the PO movement predicted.

The "PO movement" takes into account also what could happen when world oilproduction starts to decline.

It seems like some EU countries are farther over the edge of the falls than we are.

Because the US is pumping so much dollars in the system; this however is a short term solution.

Because the US is pumping so much dollars in the system; this however is a short term solution.

By that you mean QE's and going into debt over a trillion a year? If so, I agree, speaking of which this Jan. 1st the so called fiscal cliff. I'm figuring Obama will win (based on polls in swing states) and the R's will decide to go on a scorched earth policy to punish the electorate for not voting in the R candidate. So no tax increases will get passed on to the wealthy and the cuts will take place. But those cuts are not anywhere near enough to stop going further into debt each year, but it will probably have a big impact on what is a tepid economy.

If the US balanced its budget and stopped printing $'s, how could all hell not break loose? And we presume this is the case because of the high price of oil, but the cheap's stuff is gone. So what seems like a steady ship now may seem very different in just a few short months.

I doubt the Republicans will allow the sequester cuts to happen. That would mean a big hit to the military.

They are, no doubt, already working on (probably sneaky) ways of keeping the military (contractors) completely funded. I don't feel I'm going to far out on a limb by suggesting they will hide the money in some fashion such that they can yell and scream "Oh my GAWD, we're defenseless!" while maintaining or increasing the budget.

In other news, chocolate rations are up and we have always been at war with Eurasia.

"So not to worry, all automobiles, planes and everything else should be converted to run on one or the other by... 2050 perhaps?"

The return of steam! Whoo hoo!. You can have stirlings instead if you want. The firebox won't mind.

I've been watching this situation:

Did Hurricane Sandy Cause $36.5 Trillion In Damage?

First of all: the answer to the title question is, as far as I can see: no. But it's almost certainly a whole lot more than the $50 billion reported today, and that $36.5 trillion amount doesn’t come from thin air; it appears in a number of news articles about Sandy. All in all, the story raises a few more questions, allows you to play with a bunch of numbers, and leaves you puzzled, amazed and at times easily bewildered.

Here’s how: One of many things flooded by hurricane Sandy last week was a bank vault below 55 Water Street in Lower Manhattan. At first glance nowhere near the most interesting news coming out of the storm aftermath, since it doesn't involve human lives lost, or people losing their homes. Still, given the potential amount of damage in dollar terms, it does warrant a second look.

...DTCC's depository provides custody and asset servicing for more than 3.6 million securities issues from the United States and 121 other countries and territories, valued at US$36.5 trillion.

Trillions of dollars of securities safely stored in an apparently non-watertight vault, below sea level, in a flood zone? Boggles the mind. At least this stuff is safe from terrorists and their hijacked airliners :-0

They placed the facility in the basement at a place with the adress 55 WATER street, LOWER Manhattan. In the rear mirror, the clues are so easy to spot.

Not quite as clear as Flood Street in New Orleans (part of the Lower 9th Ward, minimal rebuilding there).



Is that anything like the street address for the Corps of Engineers in your fair city?

(for those who don't know, it's on Leake Ave)

They placed the facility in the basement at a place with the adress 55 WATER street, LOWER Manhattan.

Makes perfect sense to me...


What? No lasers?!

I think they ought to rename them "insecurities"

But I doubt the actual material stored in that vault was worth much of anything at all. Probably mostly paper.

"Probably mostly paper."

It's paper alright, the most valuable paper on the planet. DTCC (Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation) has been pushing to go all electronic/digital. Reading the article,, there are links, and explanations of the costs of re-issuing these securities, bonds, stock certificates, etc. from digital records. It's happened before, after 9/11:

In 2001, it cost $300 million to replace $16 billion of certificates.

Another good reason to do what other cities have done to get out of harms way, and do it once and for all.

Sounds like some "toxic assets" may disappear this time.

Amusing. But, that stuff is what paper certificates. I'm sure it would keep a small army of clerks, printers and legal types, but all that paper can be reprinted. Financial assets: from (wood) pulp you came, and wood pulp you will become.

"With a lack of backup power at pipeline pumping stations and gasoline storage facilities, it has been difficult to deliver fuel to the hardest hit areas of the storm."

Unfortunately it's easier to learn from your own mistakes then those of others. When the last hurricane threatened Houston the fuel problem wasn't in Houston because it didn't get wacked too bad. The problem was with the many tens of thousands of folks who evac'd the city and then ran into huge traffic jams on the way out of the county. During the day before the night the storm blew in I drove to Austin and passed many thousands of folks stranded out the highway after they ran out of fuel. The gas stations had all the electricity they needed but the tanks had been sucked dry. It was fortunate the storm missed Houston: the casualties could have been in the many hundreds or even thousands had it hit those folks stuck in the open with no shelter other than their cars. Now Texas is better prepared: they've installed emergency cross overs so both sides of the highways can be used to evac and also have plans in place for the state guard to station fuel tankers along the highways. I suspect NY and the other states will make plans along such lines as fuel/food/water trucks mobilized ahead of time. They might even pass a law requiring gas stations to have backup generators. Of course there made be a lot of talk along those lines but as time passes and thoughts that it might be a very long time before such an event repeats the eventual actions might not match the initial verbiage.

"When the last hurricane threatened Houston" You mean Ike? Or maybe Rita?

Jim - Rita. It was really a very strange trip out of town. Having grown up in S La I knew how to run away from hurricanes: don't run until you know which way to go. On Thursday I watched much of Houston trying to leave town at the same time. Incredibly the majority were driving north to get away from a north moving storm. Even if it had hit Houston head on you would have been fine just few hours west or east of town. So when I left town Friday morning the sun was shining and it was very spooky: not a single car on the highway either way for the first hour or so. But then I ran into the first band of stranded travelers about 2 hours out: about 600 folks and a couple of hundred cars at a flashing yellow light intersection. The gas station and restaurant were closed. Obviously I got odd and puzzled looks from folks as I slowly drove past them. Even odder no one stuck a thumb up for a hitch. Afterwards it was almost a continuous line of stranded cars with most sitting at empty gas stations. But as I got closer to Austin fewer cars and more open gas stations. About a 1/2 hour before Austin everything looked normal. No traffic, no stranded cars and stations full of fuel. A nice sunny day.

There were fatalities in an odd fluke: a bus carrying elderly caught fire half way to Dallas. Don't remember details but more than a few died.

A few dozen Texans also died of heatstroke/exposure as well on the road.

I drove back into New Orleans (3 days after my zip code on my DL was allowed back in) through Austin. About ten days after Rita, and there were still hundreds of cars on the side of the road.

The evac from New Orleans (Katrina shifted direction after passing over Florida at 10 PM Friday, roads closed out of New Orleans between 1:30 (East I-10) and 3 PM Sunday. Less than 48 hours to get out.

MUCH better managed (contraflow) although Mississippi reneged on earlier promises. In last couple of hours, Louisiana gave up road space for Mississippi Gulf Coast.

I followed the advice of Mayor Nagin "not to evacuate an empty seat" and brought 3 people w/o cars to Birmingham and dropped them off there.

About 5 hours of stop & go traffic (ouch with manual transmission & clutch !) to Hattiesburg MS.

The few breakdowns I saw when I left Sunday at 9 AM were quickly picked up by other motorists. Truck stops I passed had several gas tankers on site. When tanks emptied, the tanker would unload and then get into the evac line out. Signs flashed "10 gal limit".

Radio said gas stations were going to phased shut down - Slidell at noon, if not out of gas by then, so workers could get out.

Not perfect - but less time and better planned than Texas.

Best Hopes for Good Planning !


Alan - Yep...would have expected better from "we don't need anybody's help" Texas. I suspect the system, based on past inaction, never expected that sort of evac. But after Miss K folks reacted like they never have before. In the 30 years I've been here I've never seen an even very minor evac. I wonder if NE sees an event similar to Sandy any time soon they might have the same sort of mad scamble to get away from the coast.

I was living in Austin at the time, and even here bottled water and batteries disappeared from grocery shelves. Houstonians still talk about those traffic jams. Like you said, Katrina pounded the hell out of NOLA and surroundings, then it looked like Rita would do the same to Houston, and everyone freaked.

Creeping along at a few miles per hour in a jam, cars/trucks get horrible mileage. What would easily have been enough fuel to easily make it out of harms way can prove to be not nearly enough. Gotta avoid gridlock at all cost.
I think that bus fire involved medical oxygen.

A friend of mine owns the Chevron in town (Laytonville in northern California which is on Hwy 101 the main coastal road north and south). About 13 years ago we had a power outage that lasted a week and he couldn't pump (and he also lost a lot of stuff in the store). Following that he bought a 60kW generator he can bring in when the power goes out (and yes, he has had to use it over the years). Besides being good for business, it's a real service because the next station south is about 15 miles and the next station north is about 50 miles.


Went into town early (9-ish) to gas up at that station B4 there were lines.
Alas; too late.... 8 pumps, 10 vehicles... bummer.

Here from the midst of the devastation in New Jersey I have some observations. One is that thanks to my long preparations for Peak Oil and Climate Change disasters, my family did not suffer too badly. I have a handcrank Eton radio which kept us aware of the news even when the power went out. Thanks to 2 small batteries Tuesday nite we had a party with our neighbors who all had their power out with a small Led bright enough for parcheesi playing while we played acoustic guitars. With another solar panel it could have been recharged even after the storm. Unfortunately Teabag Gov Christie, despite his commendable engagement in the crisis for which he deserves praise, still is totally unable to see anything past his Escalade SUV Transit. While NYC ran buses when subways could not go through flooded tunnels, NJ is facing hours long gas lines and the only buses added are for New York only. When I caught a ride to work since 90% of our Rail lines are still down, unlike NYC, 90% of the cars still had only ONE rider! Every gas station faced a long line.

The success of reduced consumption, solar plus batteries shows what could be possible in a truly resilient distributed Peak Oil infrastructure. Unfortunately a major drawback of grid-connected solar under current rules is that as soon as the grid goes down you lose ALL power even if your solar could generate electricity off the grid sufficient for priority electricity. The grocery store a short walk from my house has solar panels but due to this idiotic provision could not supply power to their freezers even though the sun was partially shining.

The other lesson is that COMMUNITIES and people helping each other has helped people to survive. Except for tensions for GASOLINE no guns, bandits or marauders. My community IS a walkable community so people could get power, and heat at our community building and later Internet at the library. If public schools and buildings with enough solar had solar panels with battery backup they could provide key refuges as these events continue to repeat. Which also shows the importance of PUBLIC schools not cannibalized by the Hedge Fund banksters out to steal more billions from our public schools and leave them empty husks.

orbit - Excellent point about using the schools as evac centers IF they are prepared properly. A win-win as I see it: a better prepared infrastructure for the kiddos and a safe haven when needed. Should be much more economical than building new emergency shelters. I live in a small refining town outside of Houston. They have, over the years, modified the schools and some public buildings (but not an extensive effort per se). With occasional refinery leaks (like a hydrofluoric cloud) there are several SIP alerts issued every year: Shelter In Place. IOW better to keep the kiddos in the classroom then out on the street.

Lessons to be learned...hopefully

A lot of money was spent during the 50s and 60s making public buildings to function as nuclear fallout shelters, even requiring that food and medical supplies be stored. When I was a kid, our Church had a food bunker and a generator to keep a small kitchen, lighting and ventilation working. Whatever happened to the idea of 'Civil Defense'?

Ghung - "Civil Defense", eh? It will be interesting to see how many politicians try to picth that angle. Maybe a sideways shot at getting folks to think about AGW, PO, etc. OTOH it also would go against the BAU crap they like to promise folks.

I think Bain Capital bought it and sold the component parts of it to China for a handsome profit..

We don't do civil anymore. Other than maybe civil war, that is.

Our 'protecion civil' is well prepared for things like hurricanes. Schools, halls and other buildings are available for evacuations and bedding etc is in store. Last year we had a close one, rain but no wind, and the rivers filled almost to bursting point. Several areas were evacuated and all was taken care of smoothly. When Kenna blew through, police, PC, army, navy, local council etc all worked together to plan. They even had the schools making sandwiches to distribute to the clean up workers and hotel guests helped dig sand out of the resorts.


Some great examples of what's quite easily possible, Orbit7, but as far as the Grid-tied, you've made the same claim within the last week (I believe it was you), and it was corrected right away. There are LEGAL, Grid-Tied Inverters that can support battery storage and are fully equipped for Anti-Islanding, which is to say that they don't pose a hazard for line workers during an outage, and can keep the owner powered up in any grid outage.

I really wish you would try to include this information when you post, since it is really NOT a 'drawback to solar PV' .. maybe it's a drawback to New Jersey's ordinances, but that should be told clearly if it's the case.

Here's a selection of applicable Inverter/Chargers..


We have dual Xantrex 6048's, and they work great. When grid power fails, they switch over to solar/battery in 1 millisecond; you don't even notice it, and neither do your electronics.

IMHO, it's much better to spend your money on solar than a generator. You won't be schlepping gas cans like all those folks in the northeast, and the solar will pay you back by reducing your electric bill while a generator just sits there and rusts.

You can also reduce your generator size and fuel consumption if you decide to go with a very small battery bank. The Xantrex has a secondary AC input for a generator which can limit the maximum draw, so you could potentially use a Honda EU1000 type generator which produces under 1000W continuous. If you have a number of dark days that run a small battery bank down you can run that continuously to recharge the battery bank while the Xantrex boosts to take the slack at times of higher draw. Recommend a conversion to propane on that though...gasoline is not happy being stored.

Jokuhl wrote:

There are LEGAL, Grid-Tied Inverters that can support battery storage and are fully equipped for Anti-Islanding, which is to say that they don't pose a hazard for line workers during an outage, and can keep the owner powered up in any grid outage.

I really wish you would try to include this information when you post, since it is really NOT a 'drawback to solar PV' .. maybe it's a drawback to New Jersey's ordinances, but that should be told clearly if it's the case.

Here's a selection of applicable Inverter/Chargers..


Hey thanks for the info! I will send to my Solar installers!

I wouldn't call shutting down grid connected PV when the grid is down idiotic. There are some real safety/technical issues to be dealt with. Obviously if your inverter is running, and connected to the grid, those wires are not dead, and then presents a safety hazard. Then most inverters for grid connected power, use the grid to provide the frequency, no grid power, and it doesn't know how to generate juice. Then even if you overcame those (possible with some design changes), what happens with inverter if your demand exceeds the momentary supply from the PV (could drop to a small percentage of headline with a cloud passing over), does the inverter, and/or your appliances get damaged? So you probably some sort of battery storage in the loop as well. So what sort of premium are you gonna have to pay for backup capability? Would a generator be a cheaper backup (notwithstanding fuel supply issues if its an extended and widespread outage)?

Most of us grid connected types would love an affordable way to tap our panels during an outage. I'd be happy to be able to charge a couple of marine batteries, so I could runs a few LEDs, and a fan if its hot. Full backup capability is going to about as costly as off grid. But does anyone know of some system add-ons which provide at least minimal usage during an oiutage?

Please look above at my response to Orbit7er, and the link to grid+battery inverters.

This is already a fully solved problem.. and while storage is surely another expense, as with PV panels, you can create a collection with as much or as little as you can afford or would find to be an acceptable compromise. The power capacity of the Inverter would become a bottleneck if you didn't buy that with system growth (ie Adding more PV or more Batteries in the future) in mind, however, but there is a thriving used market out there as well in case you needed to trade up.

Since you've already got your Grid-tied setup bought and installed, you might also choose to investigate getting a disconnect that connects some or all of the Existing Panels off to a smaller charger/inverter setup that leaves you with usable power from a completely Grid-Isolated System that sits in parallel with your Main setup.

A couple of considerations when looking at and pricing grid-interactive systems:

Many grid-interactive inverters will need separate charge controllers, and will operate at lower array voltages (requiring larger wire size). If a charge controller is required, its input voltage range must be compatible with the inverter's input range (and battery). This is why I like the Outback systems, as they've thought this out; no surprises. Outbacks also have an integration feature ("Hub4/10") and system logging and control ("Mate"). Via the Hub/Mate I use an older laptop to log and monitor all inputs and outputs in nice graphic format (screenshot). I added some of these feature over time; well worth the cost.
[disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Outback Power; just a satisfied customer.]

Many grid-interactive inverters also have a battery charging function, a nice feature which allows batteries to be topped off and equalized from the grid. Keeps batteries happy :-)

BTW: I'm in the market for 2kw+ of amorphous panels to complement my crystalline arrays (better high-temp and overcast production). Looking at these ($0.64/watt), but they're higher voltage than I like. Any tips will be appreciated ;-)

Hey Ghung, Sungen also has a line of the same amorphous panels that are low voltage. I'm not sure if Sun Electronics has them in stock or what their price is but I'll bet they can get them for you. BTW PV depot has them in stock at $0.69 a watt.

Here's a link to the panel specs:

Maximum Power (Pmax) 100W
Open Circuit Voltage (Voc) 38.6V
Short Circuit Current (Isc) 4.13A
Voltage at maximum power (Vpmax) 29.5V
Current at maximum power (Ipmax) 3.22A
Temperature Coefficient-open circuit voltage(β) -0.36%/K
Temperature Coefficient-short circuit current(α) +0.13%/K
Temperature Coefficient power (γ) -0.268%/K
Cell a-Si single junction
Dimensions 1400mm×1100mm×7mm(55.1 inches x 43.3 inches x 0.3 inches)
Weight 26.0kg (57.3 lbs)
Frame None
Front Glass 3.2mm thickness
Back Glass 3.2mm thickness
Junction box type Multi-Contact Type 4 compliant
Maximum system voltage 1000VDC (TÜV-EN/IEC61646) / 600VDC (UL)
Maximum mechanical load Snow load: 5400PA(IEC Standard); Wind load: 2400Pa(IEC Standard)
Series fuse rating 6.5A
Fire rating Class C
Nominal Operating Cell Temperature (NOCT) 40.28℃ (104.50°F)
Operating temperature (cell) -40 to +85℃ (-40°F to +185°F)
Storage temperature -40 to +85℃ (-40°F to +185°F)
Storage air humidity <85% relative humidity

Jetion solar makes panels in Charlotte NC. Don't know if they would load a palette on your pickup wholesale, but that would save the shipping cost.


I posted these before, pricier at 82 cents/w but nice low voltage output, could be used singly in 12v systems if necessary. And polycrystalline probably would have a lot longer life than amorphous, seems like. Also this place - http://king-solarman.com - seems to have good price points on polycrystalline.

Most of us grid connected types would love an affordable way to tap our panels during an outage. I'd be happy to be able to charge a couple of marine batteries, so I could runs a few LEDs, and a fan if its hot. Full backup capability is going to about as costly as off grid. But does anyone know of some system add-ons which provide at least minimal usage during an oiutage?

Well, for brief outages, you can simply get a few golf cart batteries as costco or walmart, and hook them to a float charger; it will waste some power but they'll be charged if you need them.

For instance, for several years I just used one of these http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-VEC1093DBD-Battery-Charger/dp/B000EJQJ1G to float charge 8 6v golf cart batteries. Worked fine to power medical equipment & stuff during grid outages, using one of these: http://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-11240-Inverter-Remote-Control/dp/B000WGNNUQ

Of course one could accomplish the same thing by sticking a cheap solar panel or two on the roof entirely independently of the grid-tie system to charge the same cells. I'm upping my grid-tie system to 9.8kw nominal (really less than half that in output due to clouding near the mountains), but also have a 1.2kw offgrid system with a small bank of batteries, used mostly for daytime power for stuff... as well as freezers and 100% power for my office stuff like this computer. Having them separate allowed the use of cheaper components, I found.

Unfortunately half of my neighbors STILL do not have power which they lost since last Monday night i.e. it has already been a week and they are being told hopefully power will be restored by Friday Nov 9 but if not it could be another week. Meanwhile another Nor'Easter is on the way which is looking to be worse than originally forecast with most people out of heat as their furnaces require power to operate. In this case it would be beneficial to have a small off-grid capacity. Personally I already have some small backup batteries but if there had not been some places to charge them while my power was off they would not have been recharged.

Well, it's nice that finally some manufacturers are making equipment that allows you to sell your power to the grid most of the time and use it offgrid when it goes down.

I like the "two separate systems" approach for a number of reasons. The grid-tie is basically a financial deal (as well as aesthetically better than using grid power). The offgrid one is for resilience. For the grid-tied, there are a lot of permit requirements and standards. For an offgrid, you can get by really cheap (well the batteries cost, but can't help that). I also keep a stack of cheap 18v-output panels in the garage on a high shelf, along with a bunch of cheap controllers. In a pinch, I could equip the entire neighborhood with systems to give them daytime power just using their existing vehicle batteries as buffer, and with 400w inverters I got on sale at $30 each. Alternately, I could quickly add another 2kw of offgrid power on the roof without a trip to the hardware store. I like the flexibility.

EDIT: One other thing to mention about this decision, under the "resilience" theme. Large controller/inverters offer a single potential point of failure, and are largely "black box" systems a user would not be able to fix. Thus, having one big fancy box that does grid-tie, offgrid, and plays MP3's or whatever else is cool, but what if it breaks when the chips are down?

Thus, my grid-tie system is microinverters - a total of 44 of them - which can be swapped out as they go down, or have damaged panels swapped out... should retain functionality even if hit by a grenade, after a bit of rewiring. The offgrid system is composed of cheap inverters with spares, and is likewise flexible.

I like the idea of a separate (parallel) system you can wire yourself, that eliminates the soft costs (permits, inspections, and the like -the so called soft costs that drive up the cost of small solar systems).

My solar engineer due to the fact I already contracted w Sunpower may be going with parallel off-grid minimal backup solar power.
The single point of failure for inverter is probably a good point!

This mirrors my design planning. I like as much modularity as I can build in. Eli Whitney and those good old, Interchangable Parts! I know the Apple community has put this all into the nerdy, uncool past, but I have a suspicion it could come back into style fairly quickly.

This is why I'm still putting in some direct solar thermal on my Apartment building, instead of exclusively applying the financially more appealing PV-to-Heat Pump option. I want stuff I can fix, stuff I can mostly build out of scraps. (Just scored another Half-an-Aluminum Stepladder from a dumpster yesterday, for better Roof/Chimneyshaft Access. It made waiting through the girl's piano lesson a bit of time not so badly wasted..) It ALWAYS costs me heavily on labor and think-time inputs.. but I think it pays back in later labor saved, and more useful tools and systems on hand.

Thanks, guys. Fred, those are essentially the same panels at a more preferable voltage. It looks like they want me to buy the whole pallet to get that price; I'll give 'em a call. 'Nish, I'm looking at amorphous panels because they have different characteristics than our 3.5kw of crystalline panels - better on hot days and in overcast conditions. Not sold on longevity, but they carry the same output warranty (for what it's worth).

Ditto on resilience and redundancy. We already have 4 tracked arrays feeding 3 charge controllers, and three inverters (2 stacked Trace for 120+120=240) and our Outback. Planning to replace the older Traces with a new Outback 3524. Should up our efficiency some. Our only 240 volt load is our well (spring) pump which can run off of an autotransformer. A solar Sunpump is pumping our water these days anyway, though it's nice to have the AC pump as backup (redundancy again). Can't leave out the 12kw diesel genny, which seems to run on just about anything. Maybe someday I'll have things dialed in the way I want'em ;-)

By year's end we plan to have another 2+kw array and controller (Outback Flexmax 80). All, of course, are connected to the same 50kwh battery set. I also should mention that the chicken house has its own system for a lamp, fence charger and the automatic chicken door (70 watt Siemens, Trace C40 controller, 105AH deep cycle battery) which would make a good backup for small loads. Panel and controller retasked from my original system. Two more 70 watters pump water for the gardens and livestock.

My sister-in-law in Austin asked me how much all of this stuff cost. "Not sure; stopped counting some time back. How much have your 3 or 4 per-annum golf vacations to Hilton Head cost?"

Sounds great. (The controller on my offgrid 1.2kw system is a flexmax 80, I like it).

If you think that the firms selling amorphous panels will still be in business in 25 years, I'm impressed. The maker of the panels in my offgrid system is ALREADY out of business (evergreen). My grid-tie panels are Hyundai; an enormous industrial firm is likely to be around longer. (even if they fudge the mpg).

We also have various little satellite single-panel systems around to run pond pumps and aerators, electric fans & etc down the hill, because... why not? Definitely a cheap hobby compared to most.

Actually, the grid-tie system will get 65% rebates... 35% state of Hawaii and 30% federal, making about a 4-year breakeven. The offgrid system is the hobby... but it has been a great "reality check" on designing and using power in a practical way, load-shifting, use of timers, running refrigeration off thermal intertia when the sun's down, much else.

With a grid-tie system you make your money back & are not blowing as much CO2 into the air, which is great but it just does its one thing. With a self-designed offgrid system, you can get creative. The latter involves a bit of art and free-form design.

It may be worth noting that the Evergreen equipment is probably still producing PV cells these days, although the US company is no longer in business. The remains of the company were sold to a Chinese company and Evergreen had already set up a plant in China. I suspect that many of the PV panels imported from China lately are assembled using PV cells from the Evergreen fab lines. One can still purchase Evergreen PV cells on eBay for building your own panels...

E. Swanson

Yes, I think that's probably true.

To be clear, I have no complaint about Evergreen. They gave me my panels free! I did a bit of a favor for them, and wound up with a pallet of beautiful b-grade 205-watt polycrystalline for the cost of shipping. Surprised me. So when I say the batteries were the main expense for my offgrid system, I ain't kidding.

They seem to work just fine. We don' need no steenking warranty.

Unfortunately a major drawback of grid-connected solar under current rules is that as soon as the grid goes down you lose ALL power even if your solar could generate electricity off the grid sufficient for priority electricity.

Perhaps have (yes, at additional expense) a transfer switch and a non-grid tie inverter (or an inverter that can do both grid-tie and islanding mode, though I have never seen one), so then you could:
1. Throw transfer switch, so that now output of inverter isolated from grid.
2. Have the non-grid-tie inverter power some home things via islanding mode.

or an inverter that can do both grid-tie and islanding mode, though I have never seen one

Several are available (I work for SMA) such as SMA's Sunny Island grid-tied battery backup inverter.

Outback has Radian GS models that work in similar fashion.

My distributor tells me the SunnyBoy 3-4-5kw TL will ship in Jan. it has 120V -12amp output When the grid is lost. Current out depends on sun. Could charge a battery bank, heat water,etc

"Throw transfer switch, so that now output of inverter isolated from grid."


One side runs the PV to the grid-tie inverter. The other side runs to a charge controller for your battery bank.

Grid dies, and you flip the switch and now you are self contained. Grid comes back, and you flip the switch back.

And that is if you don't like the fully automatic system that was mentioned above.

Italy Looks to Boost Crude Oil Production By 150% in Energy Policy Shakeup

Controversy over onshore wells in beautiful Basilicata region symbolic of difficult drive for greater energy self-sufficiency

... In May, Mario Monti's non-party government in Rome gave the go-ahead for the development of the so-called Tempa Rossa field, whose 200m barrels of heavy, sulphurous petroleum lie within Vicino's comune (borough). The French company Total has a 75% stake in Tempa Rossa. Shell has the remaining 25% interest in a field whose production capacity is expected to reach 50,000 barrels a day (b/d).

"Oil is central to our development plans," said Vicino fervently. "It is the element around which all our hopes revolve."

Onshore oil and gas production is similarly central to the Italian government's ambitious plan to lop €14bn (£11.2bn) off the nation's annual €62bn bill for energy imports by 2020. The target is set in a proposed national energy plan that would be the first to be adopted in Italy for more than 20 years.

More on World on Track For 6C Warming Without Carbon Cuts, Study Shows

The slow rate of emissions cuts in major economies has put the world on track for "at least six degrees of warming" by the end of the century, analysts warn today.

New research by consultancy giant PwC finds an unprecedented 5.1 per cent annual cut in global emissions per unit of GDP, known as carbon intensity, is needed through to 2050 if the world is to avoid the worst effects of climate change and meet an internationally agreed target of limiting average temperature increases to just two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Such deep reductions in carbon intensity would be over six times greater than the 0.8 per cent average annual cuts achieved since 2000.

PwC: Supply Chains Threatened by Six-Degree Global Warming

The PwC’s Low Carbon Economy Index 2012 says that governments’ ambitions to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius appear highly unrealistic. Companies can no longer assume the 2 degree increase as a default scenario, and investments in long-term assets and infrastructure, particularly in coastal and low-lying areas, need to address a more pessimistic outlook.

Low Carbon Economy Index 2012: Overview

Low Carbon Economy Index 2012: Progress in 2011

Low Carbon Economy Index 2012: Business challenges

Presumably that research statement assumes a certain rate of growth of the GDP. But the climate does not care about "global emissions per unit of GDP". Nor does it care about the "percent renewables". It only cares about (responds to) the global GHG emissions. The faster the GDP declines the faster the emissions CAN decline - but may not, depending on how we choose to (or are forced to) organize the ever-smaller economy.

Sounds like Sandy will be seen as a small storm some time in our future.

We will soon be swimming, I tell you, SWIMMING in OIL:


Which is good, because we won't have any clean drinking water left. Zing!

NOAA Incident Report

Cause of incident: Well Blowout

Latitude (approximate): 29° 5.00' North
Longitude (approximate): 89° 15.00' West (SW of the LOOP)

At 0640 on 5NOV12, USCG Sector New Orleans contacted NOAA SSC about a report of a wellhead releasing unknown product into the water. The location was described as "Northern East Bay" without precise coordinates. The release began early in the morning, exact time unknown and the rate of discharge is unknown. The release is unsecured and overflight is scheduled. There is limited information at this time and further investigation is required. USCG requested a trajectory to aid with field activities

Fuel shortage expected to last for days, Cuomo says...

The solution to this is so blindingly obvious - Just let the prices float. If gasoline was selling for $12/gal (just an example), it would be flowing in from everywhere. No shortages, no lines, no waiting. Especially in the internet age, you could just watch the price trending and stabilization on Gasbuddy. It may start out at $12 but if you really need to get somewhere fast or run your genny for a while, it may be a good deal. It would certainly discourage waste. As people fell over themselves to supply gas from wherever else to NY/NJ for $12, the price would of course drop to some level lower than that but certainly higher than $4, and that would be the market price. As it is, why should a gas station operator with full tanks and no electricity bother with the expense of trucking in and running a generator only to sell for close to the same price he gets without all that overhead? Let the market solve the problem. Price controls just don't work, as we see here yet again.

Agree completely. The blanket no price increases at all on anything is just plain stupid.

Businesses should be rewarded for being prepared. Allow only a 10% increase on food. 20% on plywood & batteries. No limit on Gasoline and diesel. 0% on medicine.

Yes, those would be fair guidelines. It just seems like every time we have a disaster, the first thing they do is impose a soviet style economy which all but guarantees that things will get even worse and stay bad longer than they otherwise would. Maybe I would actually prefer to pay a premium for the supplies I need when I need them, as opposed to stocking up on a bunch of stuff ahead of time that I may or may not need later on. Let people make some money selling the stuff if they want to. This disaster I may be the “gouger”, the next one I may be the “gougee”. So what? It’s all voluntary. As Rockman likes to point out, “Nothing personal, it’s just business.”

It's pretty amazing how quickly people forget that we're supposed to be living in a free market, capitalist society. The market can't work if you don't allow prices to fluctuate. Apparently New York and New Jersey have been getting thousands of complaints about price gauging. I guess the free market is only nice when supply and demand give people prices they like.

Except that we don't live in a pure "free market" society and haven't seen one of those for quite a while. The Panic of 1907 led to the creation of the Federal Reserve, which has considerable control over economic activity and even with the Fed, the Great Depression occurred. After the Great Depression, the need for government regulation became more obvious and we now enjoy both Social Security and Medicare for our older, retired citizens. Not to forget that the excesses of the "free market" monopolist of the 19th century resulted in Theodore Roosevelt's trust busting regulations, which I hope aren't going away.

While we are at it, the financial deregulation which gained steam under Reagan and Greenspan led to the massive problems seen in the internet boom/bust and the housing bubble/bust culminating in the 2008 Great Recession, the after effects of which we still "enjoy". Alan Greenspan was one of the true believers in Ayn Rand's myth that the so-called "free market" was the best economic system, promoting the deregulation of the financial markets that caused the economy to blow up. Of course, there are many folks who still believe the illusion, just as there are many people who still believe in ghosts, goblins and miracles which violate physics...

E. Swanson

Yes, yes, we don't live in perfectly free market--sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. I was simply noting that Americans (generally), who purport to want a capitalist society, get real angry when the "invisible hand" uses the only tool it has to deal with shortages: price fluctuations.

I think it's one of the inalienable rights: Life, Liberty, and Cheap Whale Oil Gas.

This "dangerous climate change" news clip is quite disturbing and actually leaves me somewhat shaken, especially out of concern for my children and theirs. If what they say is really true, then the conventional wisdom associated with this scenario typically says we need to quite trying to stop runaway Climate Change, and instead prepare plans for "adaptation."
This misguided term is an euphemism at best, perhaps used to avert widespread panic and associated social and political upheaval, which will happen regardless of semantical choices.
The reality is that a 6C rise translates into a massive global die-off. On this continent alone, the 48 states would become uninhabitable due to killer heat, killer fires, killer super storms (rain, wind, dust), and no water. The land would become completely unsuitable for crops. The mass migration of 300 million US people to Canada will not be well received. Add Central Americans into the mix and the situation becomes even more dire. And Canada's land cannot grow the necessary amount of food to feed everyone because the topsoil is too thin and too poor, having been raked over by retreating glaciers from the last Ice Age. (Read the book: "Six Degrees" where each chapter describes what the best science projects for each 1C rise in global temperature leading up to a 6C rise. The lower 48 become uninhabitable at 4C. James Lovelock may be proven correct after all, when he predicted that in 90 years, fewer than 200,000 humans will still be living on earth.

If what they say is really true, then the conventional wisdom associated with this scenario typically says we need to quite trying to stop runaway Climate Change, and instead prepare plans for "adaptation."

Well, the question in my mind is, will peak fossil fuels bring the global annual decarbonization rate in line with a roughly 5% annual rate out till 2050, which is what is needed to maintain a 2 degree centigrade rise. Personally I highly doubt it. To be honest I don't know what to say to my son, nephews and nieces...

From Seraph's link:

Average annual rate of global decarbonisation to 2050 (%) Implied concentration levels, approximate* ppm CO2e IPCC ‘best guess’ of average global temperature increase above pre-industrial levels, rounded to nearest oC
1.6% 1,200 ppm 6oC
3.0% 750 ppm 4oC
4.5% 550 ppm 3oC
5.1% 450 ppm 2oC

1200 ppm CO2? Holy ^%$&! That's getting into unhealthy levels just for the CO2, not for the heat!

That's getting into unhealthy levels just for the CO2, not for the heat!

While certainly not great, that's about what you would expect from your typical office environment. Perhaps you are thinking carbon monoxide, in which case 1200 ppm would be pretty bad.

This came up in some side-chatter w/KD a few days ago... and it turns out that 1,000 ppm is actually pretty bad.


This is just one of about five links he provided... I'm slowly fighting my way through them. But if 400 ppm outside means 1,000 ppm in office buildings, would 1,000 ppm outside mean 1,600 ppm indoors?

I'm also wondering if urban areas during rush hour might be higher than 400... I found a couple of links that seemed to suggest they are higher, but... can't... understand them... feel foggy, drowsy...

"and it turns out that 1,000 ppm is actually pretty bad."

They need to talk to the Navy, as in the submariners. 1000 ppm is 0.1%, and we were over that most of the time while submerged.

Then again, just because hand-selected young adults can deal with it doesn't mean that the 50-something crowd can deal with it just as well.

Then again, just because hand-selected young adults can deal with it doesn't mean that the 50-something crowd can deal with it just as well.

I don't think we have to worry about that too much.
BTW, for the record, 8000 ppm is standard on most submarines with 10000 ppm being considered acceptable.

See also: Carbon dioxide poisoning
Main symptoms of carbon dioxide toxicity, by increasing volume percent in air.[78]

Carbon dioxide content in fresh air (averaged between sea-level and 10 kPa level, i.e., about 30 km altitude) varies between 0.036% (360 ppm) and 0.039% (390 ppm), depending on the location.[79]

CO2 is an asphyxiant gas and not classified as toxic or harmful in accordance with Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals standards of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe by using the OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals. In concentrations up to 1% (10,000 ppm) will make some people feel drowsy.[78] Concentrations of 7% to 10% may cause suffocation, manifesting as dizziness, headache, visual and hearing dysfunction, and unconsciousness within a few minutes to an hour.[80]

Adaptation to increased levels of CO2 occurs in humans. Continuous inhalation of CO2 can be tolerated at three percent inspired concentrations for at least one month and four percent inspired concentrations for over a week. It was suggested that 2.0 percent inspired concentrations could be used for closed air spaces (e.g. a submarine) since the adaptation is physiological and reversible. Decrement in performance or in normal physical activity does not happen at this level.[81][82] However, it should be noted that submarines have carbon dioxide scrubbers which reduce a significant amount of the CO2 present.[83]
Source Wikipedia

see also

I happen to be an ex heliox diver and know a little bit about CO2 toxicity and partial pressures both from the theoretical side and first hand experience as well.

Whoa-- Heliox! Never been deeper than about 80 feet myself, only been on about 20 dives, but they some of the most memorable experiences of my entire life.

I did notice that most of the references in the article you cited are at least four years old, some much older. KD's links referenced more recent research, and challenge some of the conventional wisdom about CO2 concentrations and cognitive functioning. Here's another from October of this year:


"researchers of the US Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who together with colleagues of the State University of New York have found CO2 exerts a physiological influence at levels that are 10 to 20 times lower than previously assumed"


"Decision-making is impaired from 1000 ppm onwards [that’s only about 2.5x current atmospheric levels] and test subjects become ‘dysfunctional for taking initiative and strategic thinking’ at levels around 2500 parts per million CO2 per volume of air – Berkeley Lab researchers say."


When CO2 levels were raised further to reach a concentration of 2500 ppm – decision-making ability was largely reduced on 7 of the scales. Both strategic thinking and cognitive initiative were in essence no longer possible


The source material for the article, I believe, seems to have been from early 2010, so it's not that much newer than some the references in the article you cited. I think it might have been this one:


hey Catalyzt, interesting data and analysis.

To be clear I'm not suggesting in any way that exposing the average person to breathing air with 1000 to 2500 ppm of CO2 will have no effect. Just that a lot of research suggests that it is a manageable effect and one that most people can adapt to without serious long term ill effects. Then again, maybe in my case it explains my diminished cognitive functions >;-)

In any case my original point was that the effects of 1000 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere with respect to warming and climate change far far outweigh the issues with cognitive functions and I would be much more worried about the former.

1,000 ppm outside would mean 2,500 ppm indoors.

No. It not a ratio. The rate of diffusion depends upon the difference of concentrations and the strength of the source. So if its 600ppm higher today, thats what you can expect in the future.

Well, maybe not "unhealthy" as such but it reduces the ability to think clearly. That could be unhealthy... Depends on what you're doing, something that requires concentration and is dangerous... And as Catalyzt says, what do indoor levels then climb to?

What do you base this idea on?

Here in New York State it goes from -10F to 100F. If that goes to 0F to 110F it does not seem like that big a change. Chopping two months off of winter sounds great to me.

My God! You just don't get it, do you? I suggest you pick up a copy of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet and educate yourself. Six degrees C is a living Hell!

+6C, done in a hurry, is a dying hell.


The rate of change in Climate contributes to the chaos - the unpredictable swings and variations in weather.

Rapid change, combined with chaos. also prevents ecologies and human societies from adapting.

The upstate new York mentioned may see 122 F summer time highs - and dead forests. Insect plaques (insects adapt more quickly) of various types - from massive swarms of grasshoppers to fire ants#.

Crops will fail more years than they will give a decent crop - and more.


# Fire ants are an imported pest in the Southeast. One bite feels like fire - multiple bites ... Many times the bites become infected. Pasture can become worthless with enough fire ants.

I suggest you pick up a copy of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet and educate yourself. Six degrees C is a living Hell!

Or you can just watch these youtube clips.

6 Degrees Warmer: Mass Extinction?

Six Degrees Could Change The World (National Geographic Documentary)

Fire ants are not just in the SE. We have plenty of them in Central Texas. They are so bad at times, that I have had to dig up vegetables and flowers because they kill the plant when they nest below it. It's gotten out of hand at times - I hate to poison them, yet at times that's the only thing that works. I heard on radio that boiling soapy water works - cept that takes forever and kills the plants. Been bitten many times - keep thinking I'm building some kind of immunity -LOL. I've seen friends react badly to the bites.

A solution of 1/10th bleach rubbed on a bite will take the sting away quickly. And stop the "bump" afterwards.

May Climate Deniers be bitten many times by fire ants, their new neighbors,


PS: They say 1/10th - I use about 1/6th solution. Stronger is better when dealing with fire ants !

May Climate Deniers be bitten many times by fire ants, their new neighbors

Only does any good if they realize that the new pest has come because of higher average temperatures, caused by human action. If not it's just proof that nature is hostile and must be dominated by man.

Fire ants are an example of how climate change might cause unexpected decreases in the habitability or productivity of a region. For example, this year I have lost 80% of my basil to the nasty little creatures and after my first bite sent me to the nearby medical center my loved one wanted me to discontinue gardening completely. In the end I sprayed something nasty all over my little garden. 6 months later the frogs have not returned and the geckos are back, but just recently.

I just use straight Clorox -- but quickly. The sooner you rub it in the better. Why waste time diluting it?

When I lived in fire ant territory (none that I know of in New Orleans) I kept a sealed mason jar on hand. I would bring it outside with me if I anticipated a problem.

Bleach in eyes - not good. And applying it straight with a dozen plus bites could get frantic. So I carefully diluted it beforehand.


When I lived in Atlanta, the fire ants moved in and started living under my asphalt driveway. I found that I could attack them by pouring several gallons of water into a mound, with a small amount of detergent or soap added. Not much detergent, only a few drops of dish washing concentrate is required. The detergent cuts the surface tension and the ants then drowned, as their bodies were no longer "insulated" from the water.

A similar tactic works on fleas too. A shallow pan of water placed below an incandescent night light will attract the fleas at night, which jump toward the light, then fall into the water. With a few drops of detergent added, the fleas sink to the bottom and drowned. I've got one setup near my front door just now where the neighbor's dog likes to sleep, leaving her fleas behind. It takes a while, but eventually the flea problem is gone. Several years ago, I placed an add in Mother Earth News, offering a booklet describing this process in more detail about the time several other similar flea trap products appeared in the stores...

E. Swanson

You may have just saved my ankles!

(We have a Foster-Rabbit in the house, and he brought the Circus in with him.. A Circus in my socks!)


HERE's an old article from Mother Earth News, which may help. I've thought about turning my little pamphlet into a PDF, but haven't done so yet. I considered offering it on the web, but don't have a web page to post it...

E. Swanson

Many thanks!

And fleas become resistant to Frontline flea control drops too.


I suspect that termites will also become an issue if the elevated winter temperatures no longer get into deep freeze territory for regions that previously had cold winters to keep them at bay.

Let me see, 33C and 90% on a hot summer's day here. Now crank that up to 39C 90%, can the body cool itself?


"Here in New York State it goes from -10F to 100F. If that goes to 0F to 110F it does not seem like that big a change. "

The problem is where the rain bands end up, (may have to move the farms somewhere drastically different) and what happens to humidity. 110 F at 99% humidity will give you heat stroke. One day of that without AC would depopulate the area quite well. On the other hand 110 F at 10% humidity is quite manageable; stay in the shade and drink heavily. Water that is.

Claiming the entire lower 48 would be uninhabitable is a huge exaggeration. Plenty of places could still support human life, as even such nasty climates as the Danakil depression have humans living in. Its not that its going to be impossible for a few hardy soles to survive, its that the human carrying capacity will be far below current population density (equals dieoff or mass exodus).

I have some property in Greenland to sell. Nice and cool. Currently under 1 km of ice, but will be available soon.

Do you own the mineral rights? Or will it become a new Chinese owned mine?

Topsoil optional..

The map at the link below shows the world at 4C warmer. The legend shows the lower 48 uninhabitable as a result of desertification and extreme weather. I'd like to see a map for 6C.

Do you have maps for different temperatures?

I haven't come across maps for other temps.

As most here know I track the monthly oil production pretty close. The EIA's monthly International Energy Statistics is over two weeks late so I emailed them and asked them when it might arrive. To my surprise I actually got a reply:

Hello Ron,
Thank you for your interest in the U.S. Energy Information Administration. We’re in the midst of our annual data update, and found some errors in the 2010 data. The data base administrator is delaying the monthly update until the annual issue is resolved. They could not give me a specific date for the release of the monthly data.

I apologize for the inconvenience, but data quality is our upmost concern.


Patricia Smith
International Energy Analysis Team

Well I guess it will still be a few days before it arrives. But perhaps they will update the annual data also which has not been updated in about two years now. We can hope.

Ron P.

Is Patricia Smith a 'REAL' flesh and blood human?! Can she pass a Turing Test? >;-)

Yes she is real. I emailed her once before when she got the Canadian production off by one million barrels per day. She emailed me back and said it was a typo then sent out another corrected International Petroleum Monthly. The IPM is no longer published. I also saw her picture in one of their on line publications but I cannot recall which one it was.

Ron P.

One the editors missed;


"South Korea was forced to shut down two nuclear reactors Monday to replace components that had not been properly vetted, "

"The two affected units at the Yeonggwang nuclear complex may remain offline until early January, as engineers replace more than 5,000 fuses, cooling fans and other parts for which suppliers had provided faked quality certificates."

Counterfeit parts problem.

Most of those parts are probably fine, but if you can't prove they are fine, you can't use them. The one that is not fine will be the one that stabs you in the back at 4 AM.

Allison Bailes has a follow up post to one that I added to the drumbeat a week or so ago...

Location Efficiency Trumps Home Energy Efficiency

Savings from an energy-efficient home go out the window with long commutes

Putting transportation costs in perspective
At the 2010 RESNET conference, I heard David Goldstein speak on some of the issues he'd written about in his book, Invisible Energy. Goldstein is the Energy Program Co-Director at the National Resources Defense Council(NRDC) and past-president of RESNET, and in one part of his talk, he threw out some numbers that floored me.

He was discussing the mortgage crisis that has gripped the US since 2008 and wanted to put the cost of buying a house in perspective. At the time he wrote the book, the median price of an existing home in the US was around $175,000. If the buyer put down 20% and financed $140,000 over 30 years, here's about what they'd pay over the life of the mortgage:

    $350,000 in loan payments (PITI)*
    $300,000 commuting from suburbia
    $75,000 for utilities

I don't know about you, but that middle number is shocking to me. I knew that those folks who were spending hours a day driving were were paying with more than just time and frustration, but for the cost of commuting to be nearly as much as they're paying for the house stunned me.

The post reminded me of a post about LEED and it's consideration of transportation that I had previously read...

What does ‘net zero’ mean? Sprawl by another name?

Prairie Ridge Estates, a single-use, single-family residential subdivision being constructed on farmland 40 miles southwest of Chicago, is billing itself as ‘the nation’s first net zero energy community of custom designed homes.’ The suggestion is that, if you purchase a home here, you’re as green as it gets. The development’s web site devotes a page to LEED, the green building rating system – featuring the US Green Building Council’s LEED logo, and noting the following:

He was discussing the mortgage crisis that has gripped the US since 2008 and wanted to put the cost of buying a house in perspective. At the time he wrote the book, the median price of an existing home in the US was around $175,000. If the buyer put down 20% and financed $140,000 over 30 years, here's about what they'd pay over the life of the mortgage:

$350,000 in loan payments (PITI)*
$300,000 commuting from suburbia
$75,000 for utilities

The total is $725,000.

Let's see how much the buyer would save by living in the city. I don't know the details of the situation described, but if prices follow the general trends they do in Houston (which I'm familiar with), an existing house near downtown costs more than twice what it does in the suburbs 20 miles out. So the buyer would be paying 10% down and financing $350,000 (I'll assume he can actually get such a mortgage, and that the interest rate is the same). Using the same parameters he would then be making $875,000 in loan payments while saving $300,000 in commuting costs and paying the same in utilities.

So the net cost of living near downtown is:
$875,000 in loan payments
$0 in commuting
$75,000 for utilities

Total: $950,000

That's $225,000 less to live in the suburbs. We'll assume the public schools are equally good, so there is no extra cost in the city for private schools, and we'll also assume that taxes and insurance don't cost any more for the house that cost twice as much.

No wonder so many people choose to live in the suburbs. I'm reminded of an incident in my wife's office some years ago. Her boss asked her to have someone in the office for an hour on Saturday afternoon for a special project.

"No one wants to come into the office for an hour's overtime. That doesn't pay for the commute," my wife said.

"Doesn't anyone in your office live inside the loop?" her boss asked.

"No. You don't pay anyone enough."

My wife, who is exempt from overtime (the pay, that is, not the work) ended up being the person who went into the office for that project.

By the way, renting doesn't save much either. Currently in Houston a one bedroom apartment inside the loop costs about $2,000 per month. That's $720,000 over 30 years, assuming no inflation.

if prices follow the general trends they do in Houston (which I'm familiar with), an existing house near downtown costs more than twice what it does in the suburbs 20 miles out.

That's quite different from Calgary, where I used to live for years. There, a house in the inner city cost about the same as one in the suburbs 20 miles out. That came as a shock to outsiders who moved in wanting to buy and expecting to get cheaper housing in nearby communities. In reality they needed to move completely out of commuting distance to find lower cost housing.

The taxes in nearby towns came as a shock to them, too, because they were usually higher than Calgary, (the towns had a smaller industrial tax base), and the schools often weren't as good (Calgary was a bit obsessive about education). Definitely the roads and services like garbage collection were a lot worse in rural counties.

renting doesn't save much either. Currently in Houston a one bedroom apartment inside the loop costs about $2,000 per month.

In Calgary, low cost rental units are easier to find in the inner city area than outlying areas, and they are cheaper (although smaller) toward the center. Maybe $1000/month for a one-bedroom apartment in the inner city, vs $400,000 to buy an average house in the suburbs. Somebody who still lives there could provide current numbers.

The thing I would note about the Houston area is that probably outlying towns do not hit developers for the full costs of developing subdivisions, and instead borrow a lot of the money and foist the borrowing costs onto their taxpayers. The ones around Calgary used to nail developers up front for all the costs of new subdivisions - roads, utilities, schools, hospitals, etc. and that made it much more expensive for developers to build new suburbs.

There is no real reason for it to be cheaper to build houses in the outer suburbs than the inner city if the services are the same and the new homeowners pay all the costs of developing them. In the inner city area most of the services are already in place and should already be paid for.

Rocky - Houston may not be the best analogy. Very spread out city. As far as housing cost comparison the same sq. footage in the city cost much more than twice the berg price...easily 3X or 4X. $250,000 would get you 1,000 sq ft in the city and 3,000 sq ft in the bergs. Much better public school districts in the bergs has been a driving force for decades. I don't have a reference but I have no doubt the vast majority of workers living in the bergs don't commute to the downtown area. D/t Houston is actually rather small compared to metro areas I've seen in other cities...around 8X10 blocks of major office buildings. And many of those blocks are filled with parking lots/garages. Some of the more concentrated business areas are 15-25 miles from city center. ExxonMobil, which currently has the majority of current workers 15+ miles from city center, is relocating everyone to a giant complex 35 miles north of the city to the Woodlands community. The Woodlands is the largest berg community in the area. Commuting cost for those city center workers is much cheaper and nicer than the model. They have their own commuter bus company that gets to ride the commuter lanes at 60 mph.

I suspect Calgary is somewhat unique like Houston when compared to many US cities. Would you say it compares to eastern Canadian cities?

Calgary is indeed somewhat unique compared to US cities. The voters made a conscious decision about 50 years ago not to build inner city freeways, and started a light rail system instead. The result is that the light rail system is moving the equivalent of 16 lanes of freeway traffic right through the middle of the downtown core with little noise and no air pollution, but there are no 16 lane freeways anywhere. There is one 6-8 lane freeway but it runs past the industrial areas and not downtown.

The downtown core is not much bigger than Houston - say 9 x 18 blocks - but it contains most of the office space. Calgary is a financial and head office center - it has the office space of a city 4 times as big, e.g. more than Montreal - and it is mostly concentrated in the downtown area. There is a severe lack of parking because the developers have replaced almost all the downtown parking lots with skyscrapers. Downtown parking is among the most expensive in North America - trailing NYC but not much else.

Calgary has also managed to annex almost all its suburbs, so when I refer to "suburbs", it's important to note that most of them are internal suburbs rather than external suburbs. The city is moving to control urban sprawl and densify the suburbs, so the density in the new suburbs is probably higher than in the older ones. As far as the external suburbs go, the city has a few methods to control their growth such as not building roads to them and not supplying them with water. Since the city has a better tax base than they do, only the city can afford to give their residents city-like services, which is why it has managed to annex so many of them. Their residents get better services and their taxes drop.

This is totally different than most US cities, but works very well for Calgary, which has been growing faster than almost all of them. Staying ahead of the growth has been its biggest problem, and its road system is rapidly getting more congested, although the LRT system is doing better and better.

Compared to Eastern Canadian cities, Calgary is more spread out in a typically Western fashion, but has more head offices and office space than any Canadian city except Toronto, which has 5 times the population (the size of metro Houston). Whereas Calgary has annexed most of its suburbs through service bribery and road strangulation, many of the Eastern cities have had their suburbs arbitrarily annexed to them by their provincial governments. This achieves the same thing (uniform taxes and educational systems) but it does get the suburban residents more upset. All of the bigger Eastern Canadian cities have transit systems with 2 or 3 times the ridership of comparable US ones, but then so does Calgary.

In general, Canada's large cities are run quite differently than US ones, which is one reason the international city rating agencies (e.g. the Economist Intelligence Unit) rate them as among the most livable cities in the world. Calgary generally is ranked lower than Vancouver (which often scores top marks in the world) but comparable to Toronto and various Australian cities.

Are you kidding me? As an Architect/Urban Planner nobody in my field would ever consider Calgary a model of controlling urban sprawl. Population density is around 3500/sq mile. IMHO Denver is a good city to compare Calgary to and they have a density of over 4000/sq mile. Toronto is over 10,000/sq mile. Portland, OR ~ the poster child for containing urban sprawl is only about 4300/sq mile.

How the heck is the new Stoney Trail not a sprawl catalyst in the NE of the city? As I recall Calgary is also about the only city in North America to build a new indoor shopping mall in recent years. I also know people that moved to Airdrie just to afford a home. Not any different than the US phenomenon of "drive till you can buy."

Calgary is a sprawled western city no different than most US cities of simliar size and age. They may not have a lot of freeway infastructure but that doesn't excuse the sprawl. Suburbs are suburbs regardless of how fast you get there.

Calgary may be a sprawling city, but what amazes me is how far the light rail lines extend out into the suburbs. Just don't use that useless Apple Maps app to verify that as its view of the light rail network is hopelessly out of date. With the SW extension there are now four lines into the downtown area and communities are fighting over who gets the next light rail line. In terms of public transit, Calgary is way ahead of any Eastern Canadian city.

I would rank Toronto the Good significantly above Calgary. And now that they have put that idiot mayor's plans, they are set for the next stage.

And Montreal has a decent subway system and good commuter rail system.


Expansion of the subway and light rail system in Toronto has simply failed to keep pace with population growth. Additions to the original subway lines have been pretty sporadic. The fact that someone like Rob Ford could be elected as mayor suggests that a lot of Torontonians don't get that the days of auto supremacy are coming to an end. Calgary is a city that has been moving in the right direction for quite a few years. Expansion of the light rail system is now a continuous activity -- there is construction every year to either extend existing lines or build entirely new lines. From what I can see, all that Toronto council (despite the objections of Rob Ford) has done is commit to the master plan to build new light rail lines. These projects have not been tendered yet and it likely will be years before a shovel hits the ground. It's tough enough to get a light rail project off the ground even when you have a cooperative mayor. Our city council (Ottawa, Canada) are unable to decide on a route and they want to start by building a tunnel under the downtown core. It's going to be quite a few years before we see anything.

The numbers I have show Toronto at a density of 2650/km2, Denver at 1550/km2, Portland at 1300/km2' and Calgary at 1250/km2. However, you should compare apples to apples, and all the other cities are bigger than Calgary. Toronto, in particular is 5 times as big and Denver is twice as big. Bigger cities are usually denser. Besides that, I never said that Calgary didn't sprawl, I said it was a typically spread out Western city.

I actually like Stoney Trail because I can get from my home in the mountains to Calgary Airport or to Edmonton or other cities much faster. It's a ring road, designed to allow big trucks and people like me to bypass the city, and it's about 30 years overdue. Prior to it being built, you had to drive through the middle of the city to get from anywhere to anywhere, e.g. Saskatchewan to BC, whether you wanted to or not. I don't see how it contributes to urban sprawl because it's not a commuter route, it's a bypass route.

Sure, people can buy in the nearby city of Airdrie, but whats the point? Highway 2 is trending toward total gridlock during rush hour, and unless Calgary extends its LRT system to Airdrie, it's going to take commuters forever to get to downtown Calgary. However, no doubt at some point in the future Calgary will offer to annex Airdrie in return for connecting them in.

Ird- I had a similar situation as your wife. The company credited 4 hour minimum for any time in-office on weekends and gave back a full day off during the week for each 4 hours credited. Problem solved, and circumvented overtime laws. They actually saved money for the company and employees when they switched to this system.

great description of NY collapse during Sandy.

Indonesia Daily Oil Target Set at 1 Million Barrels in 2014

The government expects Indonesia’s oil production to reach one million barrels per day by 2014 and is encouraging the country’s oil producers to spend more on investment.

Investment is the key. Those oil companies just need to spend more and more money so the nation of Indonesia can get more and more petrodollars.

Evita said the government expects enhanced oil recovery will be applied in all of Indonesia’s major oil fields. “Currently only 40 percent of the 416 major oil fields are using enhance oil recovery technology,” she added.

Enhanced oil recover will be the key to increasing oil production. Normally enhanced oil recovery just slows the decline rate but they expect it to actually increase oil production rate in this case.

In June, according to the EIA, Indonesia produced 847,000 bp/d of C+C. If they have 416 major oil fields that comes to just over 2,000 barrels per day per field. Those don't seem very major to me. Anyway...

Since Indonesia left OPEC in 2008, production has been on a steady decline and has failed to meet targets set by the government. BPMigas expects oil production to reach 870,000 bpd this year, well short of the 930,000 bpd target.

It seems that lately oil companies have been missing their target by a considerable amount. Targets are just something to shoot at and of course they are always set too high. I expect Indonesian oil to continue to decline. Those tiny fields tend to have a high decline rate and I think it will get worse, not better.

Ron P.

Ron - What the EIA thinks. Sounds like expectations for EOR might be a tad optimistic. Also sounds like the above ground factors will have more impact on the situation than the engineering.

"Indonesia's two largest producing oil fields are the Minas and Duri fields... Chevron operates both fields with a 100 percent working interest...Producing since 1952 and 1955 respectively, production at both fields is in decline, even with the employment of enhanced oil recovery techniques at both fields to bolster production. Chevron uses steam injection enhanced oil recovery for 80 percent of the Duri field, one of the largest steamflood projects in the world.

The most significant recent discovery with the potential to counteract some of Indonesia's production decline is the Cepu Block... Exxon Mobil is the operator of the Cepu PSC... Cepu is estimated to contain 600 million barrels of recoverable liquids, and to have a peak production of 165,000 bbl/d. Although discovered in 2001, the project has encountered several delays in the development process, and Exxon recently revised its goal for peak production from 2012 to 2014. Banyu Urip is currently the only producing field in the Cepu PSC, and as of January 2010, had reached a production level of about 18,000 bbl/d.

BPMigas and the Indonesian government have introduced policies aimed at increasing investment in the country's upstream sector - in particular via investment incentives and improving the flexibility of the PSC bidding process. However, the upstream investment environment is still considered to be risky, and 2009 and 2010 licensing rounds were disappointing. Recent events that caused particular concern were Parliament's attempts to mandate cost recovery caps for PSCs, as well as the government's cabotage rule - a shipping regulation requiring all marine vessels to carry the Indonesian flag. The government has since announced that cost recovery caps would be removed, and that implementation of the cabotage rule will except oil and gas vessels. However, Indonesia failed to meet its 2010 production goal of 965,000 bbl/d of crude and condensate production, and signed only 21 new oil and gas PSCs in 2010, relative to 34 in 2008."

Thanks for the info Rockman. Looks to me like Indonesia is in terminal decline. However I found the difference on Indonesia C+C production between JODI and the EIA quite interesting. But I think JODI's data gathering in the last three years has improved considerably.

Indonesia C+C production in kb/d. The last data point is June for the EIA and August for JODI.


Ron P.

Ron - In that same EIA report there may be a clue to explain the condensate track. Apparently Ind. had a good lock on LNG exports until all that ME LNG came on line. It would follow that as NG development slowed up so would the condensate yield. The EIA didn't offer much of a prospect for that dynamic to change anytime soon. It sounds like if Ind. has any hope of at least slowing the decline they will need to sweeten the trade for the oil patch. Perhaps an increase in demand from Japan might change the game some but it doesn't seem to be showing up in the numbers yet. Maybe too early.

Can anybody think of any project which has hit the target production in the last ten years? You may be able to find some onshore projects which have come close but I doubt there are any offshore which have met the targets. If they have it was for a very brief moment.

Today's Washington Post has an article on geoengineering our way out of a warming climate.

It has comments such as "We could launch a vast fleet of ships to whiten the clouds by spraying salt mist..." and "Send a swarm of mirrors into deep space." but as is typical for articles such as this one, there aren't any comments or dicussion about what Kunstler calls the "underlying fossil fuel platform" needed to make such schemes happen. No discussion of how much CO2 will be produced while such efforts would be carried out.

And there's also no mention of where the CAPEX $$ to pay for these techno-optimist dreams might come from down the road.

It looks like amendments to legalize marijuana in Washington State and Colorado are going to pass. I'm wondering if this will open the door to legal hemp cultivation at scale in the US. An interesting can of worms...

Perhaps the US will finally become hemp-independent :-0

Update: Both initiatives passed. NORML's website crashed.

Further devaluation of the Dollar as Legal Tender? People Trading Gas For Sex On Craigslist

When the chips are down: potato, maize and rice crop yields set to fall

Farmers will need to grow different crops as rising temperatures and unpredictable rainfall lead to a drop in yields of maize, rice and wheat in developing countries, according to agricultural experts.

The three crops are the main source of calories globally, but all regions will have to change their approach to what they grow and eat, researchers said in a report, Recalibrating Food Production in the Developing World (pdf), which analysed the potential effects of climate change on 22 of the world's most important commodities.

Climate change will disrupt growing conditions just as farmers need to boost agricultural production as the world's population grows from 7 billion to more than 9 billion by 2050. Farmers, therefore, need to simultaneously increase yields while reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions, otherwise food production will be threatened further.

Wheat is essentially a dry land crop, easy to grow in rain fed agriculture and fairly tolerant of extremes (heat, draught and cold). If you cannot grow wheat then you're in deep gooey brown stuff. Creating micro-climates using irrigation, crop covers and technology is probably out of the question giving the scale, plus economic and resource constraints. That is for mass scale industrial agriculture, but is it for mass small scale agriculture relying on natural solutions and mass human participation?

Small is still usually doable even when big is not. My guess would be that moving to small scale everything will be our final response to our multiple crises (after we've tried going even bigger scale and failed).

Lift-off for urban cable car projects as cities seek transport solutions

... Cable transport is cost-effective, environmentally friendly, safe and requires little infrastructure. It is particularly suitable for crossing natural obstacles such as rivers or scaling hills, there being no need for expensive engineering work. Over an equivalent distance a cable link costs half as much as a tram line, and though no rival for underground railways in terms of capacity, some models can carry up to 8,000 passengers an hour.

Leaving Our Mark: Fossils of the Future

One feature of the fossil record we are creating for the basal Anthropocene strata is unlike any past geological transition. Millions of years from now, palaeontologists will likely excavate a disproportionately large number of bones belong to large to medium-sized mammals. Weirdly, they may think, the fossils are almost entirely of just a small handful of species. And their bones are on every continent apart from Antarctica.

Their discoveries will be a sample of our cows, sheep, goats and pigs which we have selected, transported and reared in their billions to feed the seven billion of us.

Consider animal demographics in an intensive agricultural world, says Jan Zalasiewicz: "Instead of having a natural terrestrial ecosystem consisting of two or three hundred vertebrate species all coexisting and all being moderately common, we and the creatures we keep have suddenly exploded as populations."

About 60% of the weight of all the back-boned animals on the Earth's surface today is our livestock. The mass of all the people takes up another 30%. The remaining nine or so percent is all of the wild creatures.

We have dominated to the point where it is only a matter of time before all exotic back-boned species in the wild are extinct. Maybe a few in homes, pet stores and zoos, but maybe also some breeding to provide big game animals for wealthy hunters on fenced properties.

But it follows that if one species gets a foothold over all the others that a major extinction event will take place. Not too many decades until most ocean life is killed off via acidification. Based on CO2 levels that may already be baked in.

Reminds me of that song Big Yellow Taxi, sung by Jodi Mitchell in which the lyrics are: You don't know what you've got till it's gone - you pave paradise, put up a parking lot. You put all the trees in a tree museum and charge the people a dollar and half just to see them. Leave spots on apples but leave me the birds and the bees.

Yes, to the extent the word has ever had any useful meaning at all, fossil-carbon burning BAU is "evil" at this point. Not just ill-advised, unsustainable, etc. Evil. No hyperbole involved. Evil.

Of course it's possible to do evil unintentionally due to ignoring the situation and going with the flow, and humans are very good at that.

Still, Evil.


"A sin is that which our grandchildren will regret that we did."

Sin (evil),;Leaving our grandkids to roast in a desert is sin if there ever was any. Fossil fuel does that.

Evil. So what we gotta do is keep saying that over and over.

Kenneth Boulding "An engineer is one who spends his life trying to find the best ways to do things that should never be done at all".

The remaining nine or so percent is all of the wild creatures.

BTW Humans are great apes, there are 7 billion of us. All combined there are only 200,000 great apes left in the wild... that includes all species of Gorillas, Chimpanzees, and Orangutans.

It would be nice to see that ratio reduced drastically.

Unless something drastic is done, the other great apes will disappear in the wild with the first convulsions of world resource-war realignments. They will be quickly shot when current laws are no longer enforced. There's a short window to move them elsewhere... but where? It would be strongly opposed by conservation organizations now, who by and large believe the the narrative of some variant of a "star trek" future.

It may come down to billionaires, bribes, and helicopters. "getting permission" will increasingly be a lesser consideration, and it will come down to half-assed expedients borne of desperation.

just saying...

With important computer systems you have off site backups or even parallel data centres. The only chance a lot of wildlife has is the same approach.


Several species have been re-introduced to their native habitat from zoos.

There is a small "wild" population of monkeys in Florida. Chimps are too human like (aggressive) for such "wild" populations, but orangutans and gorillas appear to be mellow enough.

Perhaps some islands off Panama (Jurassic Park like), etc. with some transfer between islands for inter-breeding occasionally (or artificial insemination).


Millions of years from now, palaeontologists will likely excavate a disproportionately large number of bones belong to large to medium-sized mammals.

Among them will be many fossils of a large-headed ape, homo magnacapitatis. Since the large head clearly supplies no evolutionary advantage, they will conclude it was for sexual display.

Azeri oil fund to help finance TANAP gas pipeline

Azerbaijan's $33-billion state oil fund is to help finance the $8 billion Trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline project (TANAP) to take Azeri gas to Turkey and to markets in Europe, the head of the fund said on Tuesday.

Construction of the TANAP pipeline, which will be built from the Turkish-Georgian border to Turkey's border with Europe, is expected to start at the end of 2013 and the project's first phase is seen ready at the end of 2017 or early 2018.

TANAP is set to take some 10 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz II field to Europe, while Turkey, which aims to cut its dependence on Russian gas, will get 6 bcm. The project is designed to be expandable to 30 bcm and ultimately 60 bcm a year.


I was just invited to an "executive breakfast" this Thursday. I suppose this falls into the category: The early bird catches the "wormy politician" LOL. From the invitation:

"The big decision of 2012 is in the hands of the voters. The choice Americans make today will shape great things, historic things, and those will determine the most important and intimate aspects of businesses and their decision makers. The host company's director of government affairs and U.S. policy is coming in from Washington, D.C. to talk about the newly elected Administration and the Energy Choice.

I have no desire to listen to any lobbyist while eating breakfast even if they are advocating for my side of the fence. Just one more pseudo slimy politician IMHO. I'll stick with my Jack In The Box drive thru.

Heck, Rockman,

I'd buy you breakfast any time! :-)

A small town with a rail line to it may have a lifeline in the future. One without will not be so fortunate.

CN puts rail link from Ottawa to the Valley on the block

OTTAWA — Here’s what the dream of restoring rail service to the Ottawa Valley comes down to: $21.7 million, by January.

That’s what the Canadian National Railway wants in exchange for part of the “Beachburg Sub”, the rail line connecting Portage-du-Fort to the Walkley Yards in Ottawa, because if the company tore up the line and sold it for scrap, that’s what it would be worth. If no government comes up with the money by Jan. 21, CN says it’ll offer the line up to private buyers; if there are no takers then, the line will likely be removed, as is already happening with a Canadian Pacific line that once linked Smiths Falls to Sudbury.

--- snip ---

Rail is a much bigger deal to smaller centres. Especially Pembroke, whose industrial core has been slowly slipping away but could possibly be revitalized with cheap and efficient transportation. The Citizen couldn’t reach the mayor of Pembroke, Ed Jacyno, whose municipality was prepared to issue the charity receipt if CN would donate the track — but CN’s cash asking price would be a staggering amount of money for a city whose whole 2012 budget was about $36 million.

Maintaining the highway to these towns will certainly cost more than the cost of taking over the rail line?

Marc Rosenbaum at GBA comparing the energy usage of an oil boiler and the mini-split that replaced it.

Installing a Ductless Minisplit System

We decided to get rid of our oil boiler and install an air-source heat pump from Japan

When the heat pump was installed, I had the electrician wire an old-fashioned electromechanical electric meter in line with the heat pump so I could see how much energy it was using. I've been reading the meter at least once daily.

On the coldest day, we used almost 21 kWh. On mild days more recently, we use as little as 3 or 4 kWh. During similar temperatures as occurred during the week we ran the oil boiler, the minisplit has used 12-13 kWh/day. Converting that to BTU gives a daily input of around 43,000 BTU.

The oil boiler was using 290,000 BTU, remember? How can the heat pump be over 6 1/2 times better?

Well, for one thing, the reason we use heat pumps is that they use one unit of electrical energy to move more than one unit of "free" energy in the outdoor air. This ratio is the Coefficient of Performance (COP), and higher is better. The Fujitsu is probably operating at a COP of 3 or more. So the energy input into the house might be 130,000 BTU or even more per day. Plus, the heat pump is not heating the basement or losing energy up a flue.

So we've gone from a cost of over $8 per day for heat, to $2.25 per day. And we're heating to slightly higher temperatures, for reasons that need to be left to another post!

Global warming systemically caused Hurricane Sandy

George Lakoff, professor of linguistics, UC Berkely, The Berkely Blog

Yes, global warming systemically caused Hurricane Sandy — and the Midwest droughts and the fires in Colorado and Texas, as well as other extreme weather disasters around the world. Let’s say it out loud, it was causation, systemic causation.

Systemic causation is familiar. Smoking is a systemic cause of lung cancer. HIV is a systemic cause of AIDS. Working in coal mines is a systemic cause of black lung disease. Driving while drunk is a systemic cause of auto accidents. Sex without contraception is a systemic cause of unwanted pregnancies. There is a difference between systemic and direct causation. Punching someone in the nose is direct causation. Throwing a rock through a window is direct causation. Picking up a glass of water and taking a drink is direct causation. Slicing bread is direct causation. Stealing your wallet is direct causation. Any application of force to something or someone that always produces an immediate change to that thing or person is direct causation. When causation is direct, the word cause is unproblematic.

Systemic causation, because it is less obvious, is more important to understand. A systemic cause may be one of a number of multiple causes. It may require some special conditions. It may be indirect, working through a network of more direct causes. It may be probabilistic, occurring with a significantly high probability. It may require a feedback mechanism. In general, causation in ecosystems, biological systems, economic systems, and social systems tends not to be direct, but is no less causal. And because it is not direct causation, it requires all the greater attention if it is to be understood and its negative effects controlled. Above all, it requires a name: systemic causation.

Language is important!

Hat tip: Economists View

This is good. I was looking for good words to put on this. Exactly what I was thinking. Perfect.

American Refineries Getting Ready for Dirty Tar Sands Oil

Residents of polluted neighborhoods watch warily as local refineries prepare to process Canadian crude.

In an economically distressed pocket of southwest Detroit known by its ZIP code—48217—the weekend of September 7-9 was one of the worst, pollution-wise, residents like Theresa Shaw could remember.

"I started smelling it on Thursday," said Shaw, who immediately suspected the Marathon Petroleum Co. refinery a half-mile from her house. "I kept the windows closed because I couldn't breathe. On Friday, I thought, 'What the heck are they doing?' My eyes were just burning, my throat was hurting, my stomach was hurting. I was having migraine headaches.

"The smell, it was like this burning tar, with that benzene and that sulfur. I wanted to scream."

Oh, come on! The people in Detroit are complaining about the pollution from Canadian oil? Detroit practically INVENTED pollution. The Rouge River, a tributary of the Detroit River was one of four rivers in the US that regularly caught fire, with flames 50 feet in the air, and that was before they started using Canadian oil.

The only reason they want to use Canadian oil is that the oil supplies in the US Midwest have mostly dried up and they have a lack of alternatives. If they avoid dumping it in the river, it probably won't catch fire.

The other burning rivers were the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, the Chicago River, and the Buffalo River. See Burning Rivers: Revival of Four Urban Industrial Rivers That Caught Fire

We had a burning lake in Sweden to. In the 1960ies there was an oil storage facility that cracked up, and the oil flowed into the lake. Then it begun to burn. Large parts of the lake was on fire, and the oil reached the river that takes the water out of the lake, so the river was on fire to. This was an accident and not intentional pollution.

Who Fracked Mitt Romney?

Meet his top energy adviser: billionaire oil tycoon Harold Hamm.

Some North Dakotans question whether their newfound prosperity is worth the price. Grote complains that Continental, which has leased rights to the minerals under his soil, is blanketing his fields with dust and oil waste. "They come in, you know, just balls to the wall and tear it up, do what they want, get their money out of it as quick as they can." When a Continental pickup pulls up behind us at a pump jack, I walk over with Grote to hear the company's side of the story, but the worker rolls down his window and tells us to leave. "Continental didn't buy this land," Grote reminds him. "From what I understand, this spot is Continental's," the worker insists. Grote stares back in icy silence, stroking his ZZ Top beard while displaying a bicep as thick as a cottonwood bough.

Charts: The Frackers' Well-Oiled Political Machine

How the domestic drilling frenzy fills campaign coffers and kills off accountability.

The Energy Election

This spring, five out of seven political ads in swing states like Ohio and Florida were about energy, according to Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group. That's because, as reported by the New York Times, the fossil fuel industry and its allies had dropped more than $153 million on political ads as of September. That included $37 million spent by the American Petroleum Institute, the nation's most powerful oil and gas lobby. Its "I'm an energy voter" ads say America should "produce more energy here, like oil and natural gas." By contrast, clean-energy advocates had spent a piddling $41 million on campaign advertising.

Just saw that Roscoe Bartlett lost his congressional seat. That's one less voice for Peak Oil awareness in the national debate.

Take a closer look, please!

A sample of Representative Barlett's energy-issue voting record:


Voted YES on opening Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling.

Voted YES on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.

Voted NO on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution.

Voted NO on tax credits for renewable electricity, with PAYGO offsets.

Voted NO on tax incentives for energy production and conservation. (same vote, ~same issue as above)

Voted NO on tax incentives for renewable energy. (same vote, ~same issue as above)

Voted YES on investing in homegrown biofuel.

Voted NO on criminalizing oil cartels like OPEC.

Voted YES on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies.

Voted NO on keeping moratorium on drilling for oil offshore.

Voted YES on scheduling permitting for new oil refineries.

Voted YES on authorizing construction of new oil refineries.

Voted YES on passage of the Bush Administration national energy policy.

Voted YES on implementing Bush-Cheney national energy policy.

Voted NO on raising CAFE standards; incentives for alternative fuels.

Voted YES on prohibiting oil drilling & development in ANWR.

Voted NO on starting implementation of Kyoto Protocol.

To be fair...many times there is more than one issue in a bill...for example, RB voted against a bill referenced by Nate Hagens in the link below...so he voted against a bill which had a feature to raise CAFE standards, because the bill Also stipulated support for ethanol subsidies...


Sooo...sometimes due the 'bundling' of different issues in a given bill, there is often more than meets the eye when looking at a person's voting record.

He has fathered 10 children. Ten.

The more I dug, the less I liked...

Roscoe Bartlett doesn't support measure to allow family planning to provide for reasonable population control:


He has voted numerous time on various bills declaring that life begins at fertilization/conception...such bills would, if enforced to the ultimate, make woman criminals who take the certain forms of birth control pills.

He also supported the 'Stop the War on Coal Act 2012'.

He also is quite the fervent War Hawk, to include voting 'nay' on a bill to end the military's ability to indefinitely hold prisoners in the 'War on terror' without charge.

He supported a Bill from Alan West? Wow...with PO friends like him...

And CNN has called the election for Obama.

I have to admit...four years ago, I did not think he'd be re-elected. Not because of anything he did personally, but because I thought the country would be in such bad shape the voters would turn against whoever was in the White House. I was very wrong.

I felt exactly the same way four years ago. With the economy in the tank, high gas prices, and no sign of any significant improvement in these areas, I had discounted Obama as a one term president. I'm very surprised that he won again. Maybe this is just a sign of how weak his opposition is.

I thought things would be worse than they are. Between the financial crisis and peak oil, it seemed like a Greater Depression scenario was a good bet.

But it hasn't worked out that way. The financial crisis is not fixed, but it's receded to the point that most Americans don't think about it any more. Energy prices are high, but people seem to have gotten used to it. The economy is not booming, but it does seem to be improving a little, or at least not getting worse.

The plateau continues, I guess.

The country sure looks polarized -- the popular vote shows a dead even split between Republicans and Democrats -- not a good sign for any significant policy changes.

I am all for amending the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College.

I go to bed later hoping that President Obama ekes out a popular vote win, because I cannot bear working the next four years in a business where a bunch of old white men pitch a hissy about PBO being an illegitimate President.

Never mind that winning the Electoral College yet losing the popular vote is a legal outcome from the Constitutional rules, and in fact President George W. Bush lost his popular vote to candidate Gore by 543,816 votes.

Four presidents took office without winning the popular vote. In other words, they did not receive a plurality in terms of the popular vote. They were elected, instead, by the electoral college or in the case of John Quincy Adams by the House of Representatives after a tie in the electoral votes. They were:

John Quincy Adams lost by 44,804 votes to Andrew Jackson in 1824

Rutherford B. Hayes who by 264,292 votes to Samuel J. Tilden in 1876

Benjamin Harrison lost by 95,713 votes to Grover Cleveland in 1888

George W. Bush lost by 543,816 votes to Al Gore in the 2000 election.

I heard on the TV machine a little bit ago that the Donald was calling for revolution...


Uhhhgg...here it comes...

...and the Romney campaign is not yet conceding Ohio.

I am all for amending the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College.

I am not. Eliminate the electors if you must, but keep the electoral college.

Math Against Tyranny

James Madison, chief architect of our nation’s electoral college, wanted to protect each citizen against the most insidious tyranny that arises in democracies: the massed power of fellow citizens banded together in a dominant bloc. As Madison explained in The Federalist Papers (Number X), "a well-constructed Union" must, above all else, "break and control the violence of faction," especially "the superior force of an . . . overbearing majority." In any democracy, a majority’s power threatens minorities. It threatens their rights, their property, and sometimes their lives.

A well-designed electoral system might include obstacles to thwart an overbearing majority. But direct, national voting has none. Under raw voting, a candidate has every incentive to woo only the largest bloc-- say, Serbs in Yugoslavia. If a Serb party wins national power, minorities have no prospect of throwing them out; 49 percent will never beat 51 percent. Knowing this, the majority can do as it pleases (lacking other effective checks and balances). But in a districted election, no one becomes president without winning a large number of districts, or "states"- -say, two of the following three: Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia. Candidates thus have an incentive to campaign for non-Serb votes in at least some of those states and to tone down extreme positions--in short, to make elections less risky events for the losers. The result, as George Wallace used to say, may often be a race without "a dime’s worth of difference" between two main candidates, which he viewed as a weakness but others view as a strength of our system.

I am the first to agree and the very first to point out to my very conservative colleagues that the Constitution is constructed to protect minority rights from the tyranny of the majority (either a majority in numbers or in societal power exertion).

Think: Equal Protection Clause.

Example: It is not proper to put people's equal rights to a popular vote: Not proper to vote to allow black-skinned people out of slavery; shouldn't have been necessary to pass an amendment to codify women's right to vote; improper that we put marriage equality to a vote instead of having the Supremes properly interpret the Constitution (remember marriage equality is a /civil/ affair...no church is forced to officiate, bless, or approve, in fact any and all churches and religious folks are allowed to voice disapproval, just as folks are still allowed to voice racial bigotry today [but not to fire people on that account]).

I am very much thanking reason that the Constitution has very high bars to both pass Constitutional amendments and especially to call a Constitutional Convention.

Electoral College? I am not convinced, given the other protections I cited, that it is a necessary firewall against the tyranny of the mob. I suppose my position would be surer if we could count on the Supremes properly interpreting the Constitution to protect people in minority positions from majority tyranny.

One effect of a direct election would be forcing candidates to campaign in more of the states, rather than campaigning to be the 'President of Ohio'.

Another point: Direct election of the Pres is offset by state-by-state election of Senators, and by district-by-district election of Representatives.

Of course the immediate thing that needs to be fixed is the on-going efforts (not successful this time) of caging/suppressing voters in the party you are trying to defeat.

We need national laws/standards to prevent states from trying to rig the elections...the R's were unconscionable this time...one party was clearly, blatantly doing whatever they could to limit voter participation, and one side did what it could to maximize voter participation, mainly by voter education and by legal beat-backs of nefarious suppression attempts. In the end, the heroes were the folks who waited in line, perhaps as long as 7 hours, to make their voice heard. Kind of cool, given the media meme of the lazy, shiftless, welfare takers who are too busy doing drugs and playing video games and watching crap TV to participate in Democracy...

I will take this, warts and all, over a committee of 'Babushkas' picked by some closed-door star chamber process!

Electoral College? I am not convinced, given the other protections I cited, that it is a necessary firewall against the tyranny of the mob.

I am.

Not everything ends up in the Supreme Court, nor should it. Not to mention, the Supreme Court is chosen by the party in power. And the ideal is to maximize an individual voter's power when it comes to all issues, not just the major ones that end up in court.

Could we tweak the district sizes to make it better? Sure, but getting rid of the electoral college is a huge mistake.

I find Natapoff's work convincing, and very illuminating. For example, he finds that gerrymandering doesn't work. Or at least, it doesn't work the way people think it will.

What do you think about the concept of allocating a state's electors according to internal state divisions...such as how Nebraska and Maine apportion electors?

Oh...and undo the 'Citizens United' decision.

I very much like the NE & ME solution - and would support a constitutional amendment for all states with more than 3 electoral votes.

OTOH, in the unforeseen (say Pres elect severely wounded, VP elect killed) I like humans in the system.

Besides over turning Citizen's United & corporate personhood, I would like the 100 Senators apportioned slightly more fairly.

Very large states get 3 Senators, most states get two and states with 1, 2 and 3 US representatives get one Senator. Senators lost by small states are added to other states by order of population. All senators get to serve out their six years after a census (state goes from 4 to 3 representatives, both Senators serve out their terms - next state with a third Senator has to wait till seat vacates).


Very large states get 3 Senators, most states get two and states with 1, 2 and 3 US representatives get one Senator. Senators lost by small states are added to other states by order of population. All senators get to serve out their six years after a census (state goes from 4 to 3 representatives, both Senators serve out their terms - next state with a third Senator has to wait till seat vacates).

AlanfromBigEasy, I had not heard those ideas before.

Best hopes for dreaming up a better US Senate.

What do you think about the concept of allocating a state's electors according to internal state divisions...such as how Nebraska and Maine apportion electors?

I think they're stupid to do that. They are throwing away their power.

If all states do that, there's no point in having an electoral college. Might as well stick with the raw vote.

Frugal - We'll have to wait and see. Just a theory but not a prediction. I suspect legislation might take a slightly more right turn with president Obama in the WH than Gov. Romney. Ridiculous you say? HAH...not the first time for me. LOL.

But follow this semi-logical thought. Had Gov. Romney won we certainly would have been in severe grid lock. Can you imagine the D Senate rolling over for him? Didn't think so. So now it's the president against the House. Do you expect them to roll over for the president? Didn't think so.

Like every man elected to POTUS the president has a strong ego. Do you think that the president can make any significant policy changes (outside of executive orders which could easily be cancelled by the next POTUS) without the cooperation of the House? IMHO no. So if the president doesn't want to go down as a do-nothing lame duck he has to get the House to play ball with him. And if he does roll that way it's easy for me to see the R's taking full advantage. It's also good to remember that the president no longer has to appeal to the far left or the bulk of his base. He doesn't need them to secure a gold star in the history books. But IMHO he'll need the R's in the House to help him with his legacy. And which president, R or D, hasn't been fixated on his legacy during his second term?

And which president, R or D, hasn't been fixated on his legacy during his second term?

ROCK, are you suggesting that he will not spend the next four years leveling with the American public about the realities of things like population growth, climate change and resource limits?! I'm shocked, I tell you! I'm shocked...

Maybe two or three more storms and droughts of the century, every year for the next four years might help swing public opinion, eh?


For what little it may count, the President did mention CC in his acceptance speech, and he is at least better than Mr. Romney and his cohort in understanding and mentioning the issue.

Given the House allegiance, of course no legislation wrt CC and energy policy will get passed.

At least we will not have a President and his staff who openly mock the issue.

I had a robust post exchange a few daze ago with a TOD member who was horrified at the prospect of a two-thirds population decline projection in a certain country...between 2000 and 210...a population decline /not/ predicated on war/disease/famine and with the assumption of rather high life expectancies, but based solely on experiencing a significantly sub-replacement fertility rate, which slowly rose towards replacement level by the end of the protection.

Even on TOD, we have good folks who honestly think that population quantity must be maintained as a bulwark against human extinction, or at least as some kind of marker for human greatness, when instead a moderately-paced population decline sigmoid curve to a more sustainable, lower population level is the much better insurance for long-term humanity survival, IMO.

Ans then there are folks who think that endless growth is the only path to humanity's greatness.

Trying to deconstruct cornocopianism and exceptional ism and address Limits To Growth is a very tough roe to hoe.

Ulan - No doubt we'll hear great inspiring speeches from both the D's and R's addressing all the major issue: AGW, energy, govt debt, economic growth, etc. I would advise folks just as I have my wife: pay no attention to whatever you hear. Just read the details of any legislation that emerges and decide then if we are really do anything. And then hold your breath until real changes are enacted. I have an expectation that nothing on any of the critical fronts will improve in the next four years. And the possibilities of matters becoming much worse.

I had a robust post exchange a few daze ago with a TOD member who was horrified at the prospect of a two-thirds population decline projection in a certain country...

Yes, I duly noted that particular exchange and I'd agree 100% with your point.

Actually I also noted The President's mention of climate change in his acceptance speech, though I highly doubt that we will see any action on it in the near future.

FM - "...might help swing public opinion, eh?". Perhaps the opinions of some of those directly effected. But I suspect the vast majority uneffected will just contiue to turn a blind eye. After all, if it ain't hurting me it can't be that bad, can it?

I am not surprised by this outcome.

Already the saner Republican voices are saying out loud, in public, that the R Party has some serious navel-gazing to do.
Honest Critique follows:

Just a few of many missteps:

- Candidate Romney took at least two sides to many issues, then blatantly lied about key facts in his speeches and ads. You can fool most of the some some of the time...some of the people most of the time, but...

- What was with the outlandish attack on female reproductive health and birth control, etc? Did they think that was a winning idea?

- Did they think all the strident racial dog whistles would win them many non-white votes?

- Swimming against the tide with the hating on gay folks.

- They should have made good on their small government mantra by backing the end of the pointless, taxpayer-funded money-pit war on MJ.

- If the R's would get off their 'swimming against the tide' social issues high horse and stick to a cogent message of small government, including staying out of people's bedrooms and bodies, they would do much better. They said that the race should be and would be about the economy, then they proceeded to shoot their entire clip into their collective feet by encouraging their most outlandish partisans to say the most repulsive things (legitimate rape, etc).

I am trying to be helpful with some 'from the heart' tips to Republican readers...if you live up to your 'small, efficient government' themes and jettison the Lee Atwater 'Southern Strategy', your party would be truly competitive.

I want //at least// two parties discussion the legitimate issues of governance...not how to legislate someone's idea of morality.

Edit: Candidate Romney just gave, in my opinion, a gracious, classy concession speech...which kind of makes my point: Where was /that/ Mitt Romney during the campaign? Rs: Drop the Fox-Noise-Limbaugh-inspired deceit and innuendo campaign tactics, and talk turkey about the real issues.

They've pretty much announced that the 2016 campaign starts now. CBS continues to spin everything.

"I thought things would be worse than they are."

Many of us underestimated the Fed's ability to extend and pretend. Injections of $trillions$, deleveraging, having a world's reserve currency losing the race to the bottom, economic inertia (fat factor); all have bought us time... that's all.

The process of overshoot continues.

I was basicly there too. I can't see there is any improvement to anything, but things are not worsening at the time. And people get used quickly to the new standards.

But I do predict he will not be re-elected in 2016!

Surely you know that he cannot be re-elected under the US constitution two term limit.

Alan from the islands

I'll cut him some slack for that.. I know practically NOTHING about Swedish parliamentary rules..

Maybe he does know, and that's why he so confidently predicted Obama wouldn't be re-elected in 2016. Bit of humor...

I think he just displaying some of that famous Viking humor.

Those who bet on the joke; collect your win. I was kidding.

Republican Ticket for 2016:

1) Condi Rice and Marco Rubio


2) Chris Christie and Marco Rubio


Hillary Clinton and Julian Castro?

The Republican nominee has to pass the radical right. One reason only eight of 33 elected Senators last night were Republican.

VP for Hillary ? Wild guess, whoever is #2 for D nomination.


R Ticket #1 would likely pass the litmus test...unfortunately for the Rs, they may shhot themselves in the foot by not picking Ticket #2 above.