Drumbeat: November 7, 2012

After quiet revolt, power struggle looms for Syria's Kurds

DERIK, Syria (Reuters) - In the northeast corner of Syria a power struggle is developing over the promise of oil riches in the remote Kurdish region, threatening to drag Kurdish rivals, Arab rebels and Turkey into a messy new front in an already complex civil war.

Quietly and with little of the bloodshed seen elsewhere in Syria's 19-month popular revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, the Kurdish minority is grabbing the chance to secure self-rule and the rights denied them for decades.

With Syrian forces and Arab rebels entangled in fighting to their west, a Syrian Kurdish party tied to Turkish Kurd separatists has exploited a vacuum to start Kurdish schools, cultural centres, police stations and armed militias.

Oil slips as focus returns to growth worry

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil retreated on Wednesday, cutting some of the sharp gains seen this week, as investors turned their focus to problems facing the U.S. economy after President Barack Obama's re-election.

Oil rose sharply on Monday and Tuesday as investors started to anticipate a clear U.S. election result that would end the uncertainty that had contributed to weakness in previous weeks.

Worries about the European economy and whether negotiations in the United States to avert a looming fiscal cliff, which would lead to nearly $600 billion in spending cuts, have now returned to the foreground.

As Northeasterners line up for gas, prices are dropping

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, there are long lines at the pumps in the Northeast, but gas prices are actually down an average 21 cents a gallon nationwide over the past two weeks. Sometimes it is tough to square images of the extended queues of people waiting for gas with prices on the sign at your local gas station.

Will gas prices rise for the rest of America because of Sandy?

Gas shortages lead to gray market even as lines shrink

Shorter but persistent lines at gas stations in the Northeast and sporadic closures have led to a gray market for fuel on Craigslist, with prices for delivery of a five-gallon container ranging from $30-$100 Tuesday.

Gas still hard to come by; N.Y. probes gouging

A week after Superstorm Sandy swept ashore, drivers and others seeking fuel continued to face lines and frustration in New York and New Jersey as authorities worked to restore the complex supply network of pipelines, refineries and distribution points.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into possible price gouging on gas, generators and other items, saying he has received more than 400 complaints. Some consumers complained of being charged $10 for a box of matches and $7 for a loaf of bread. A similar investigation was launched last week in New Jersey.

Police: Freeport Firefighter Charged With Arson After Setting Cars On Fire While Trying To Siphon Fuel

Nassau County police said the 23-year-old Freeport firefighter was using an electric vacuum to illegally siphon gas from a Village of Freeport Fire Department vehicle to his personal car when electricity set the gas on fire.

The flames quickly spread to both vehicles. Two Freeport firefighters suffered minor injuries while trying to put out the blaze, but both cars were totally lost, police said.

Students protest bus fare hike in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram (IANS) An hour after the Kerala government Wednesday decided to hike bus fares, angry students belonging to the Left parties and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) took to the streets here and went on a rampage.

...The state government had told private bus owners soon after the latest hike in petroleum products that they would consider hiking bus fares.

Nigeria oil output recovers as floods recede - regulator

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's worst floods in 50 years are no longer affecting oil output, an industry regulator said on Wednesday, although foreign oil majors have not yet said their production is back to normal.

West African oil traders told Reuters this week there is ample supply of Nigerian crude in the market and loading programmes show December exports are due to be the highest in six months.

Sinopec Said to Buy Nigeria Oil Blocks From French Total

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., seeking to reverse a decline in oil reserves, is close to buying stakes in Nigerian onshore oil blocks from Total SA, for about $2.4 billion, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Exxon tells Iraq wants to quit huge oil project

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil has officially informed Iraq's government it wants to pull out of a $50 billion oil project, telling Baghdad in a letter it has started talks with other oil companies to sell its stake, senior Iraqi officials said.

Exxon's decision to quit the West Qurna-1 oilfield will exacerbate tensions between Baghdad and the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region, where Exxon has signed oil deals seen as more lucrative but dismissed by the central government as illegal.

Iraq expels Turkish firm from oil exploration deal

BAGHDAD: Iraq expelled Turkish national energy firm TPAO on Wednesday from a consortium that won an exploration contract in south Iraq, in the latest sign of worsening ties between Baghdad and Ankara.

Dana Gas Restructures $1 Billion Bond to Avert Asset Seizure

(Bloomberg) -- Dana Gas PJSC, which missed payments on nearly $1 billion of Islamic bonds last week, reached a restructuring deal with sukukholders including BlackRock Inc. (BLK), averting a potential seizure of its Egyptian energy assets.

The United Arab Emirates-based fuel producer has an in- principle agreement with creditors and will convert the Islamic bonds into an ordinary and a convertible sukuk with “revised economic terms,” the Sharjah-based company said today in a statement to the Abu Dhabi stock market. Holders of the Islamic bond or sukuk will also receive a partial cash payment.

Time for strategy shift on oil and gas finance

It is one of the great ironies of the global energy markets that the Middle East, while being the world's largest producer of oil and gas, has so far failed to cash in on the financial side of the business.

The oil that is pumped ashore from the Arabian Gulf and pours from wells across the region is priced by western financial institutions, and deliveries are largely financed by those same US and European banks.

Libya sees oil output rising to 1.7 mil b/d by end Q1 2013: NOC

Vienna (Platts) - Libya is currently producing 1.6 million b/d of crude oil and hopes to raise output to 1.7 million b/d by the end of the first quarter of 2013, slightly later than scheduled because of technical issues, National Oil Company chairman Nuri Berruein said Wednesday.

Obama victory spells trouble for Israel's Netanyahu

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces an even more awkward time with Washington and re-energized critics at home who accused him on Wednesday of backing the loser in the U.S. presidential election.

With Iran topping his conservative agenda, Netanyahu will have to contend with a strengthened second-term Democratic president after four years of frosty dealings with Barack Obama and a rift over how to curb Tehran's nuclear program.

Syrian rebels fire at, miss Assad's palace

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian rebels fired mortars at President Bashar al-Assad's palace in Damascus on Wednesday but missed, in an attack underlining the growing boldness of forces fighting to end his family's 42 years in power.

Explosion hits Syrian oil pipeline near Homs

AMMAN (Reuters) - An explosion hit the main oil pipeline feeding a refinery on the western edge of the Syrian city of Homs on Tuesday during fighting between rebels and army forces in the area, opposition activists said.

Video footage, which could not be independently verified, showed thick smoke rising from the pipeline which links eastern oil fields with the Homs refinery, one of two in the country.

Workers Evacuating Rig in Norwegian Sea

Workers are being evacuated from the Floatel Superior rig in the southern Norwegian Sea following a serious stability incident amid bad weather, Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority reported Wednesday.

The PSA was notified about the incident at 4.15am Norwegian time with a report that an anchor had punctured one of the rig's ballast tanks. This led to the rig developing a list of three-to-four degrees.

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin – review

Yergin's doorstep of a book (more than 800 pages) charts in impressive if at times excessive detail "the quest for the energy on which we so completely rely". This is clearly a timely and even important book, describing the origins of our modern energy world and how our cars and computers will be powered in the future.

How Big Oil Spent Part Of Its $90 Billion In Profits So Far In 2012

What makes this figure all the more staggering is that these companies actually produced less oil in 2012 compared to 2011. The big five oil companies’ total oil production in the third quarter was 5 percent—or 400,000 barrels per day—lower than in the third quarter of 2011.

And despite such impressive profits, U.S. taxpayers are still subsidizing these companies. In 2012 the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that these big five oil companies would receive $2.4 billion in special tax breaks. The three U.S. oil companies among this cohort—Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil—also pay a relatively low effective federal tax rate. Reuters reports that in 2011 these three companies paid 19 percent, 18 percent, and 13 percent effective federal tax rate, respectively. These oil companies’ tax rates, Reuters concluded, are “a far cry from the 35 percent top corporate tax rate.”

Sandy’s Blackouts Pressure Utilities to Bury Power Lines

Super storm Sandy’s record blackouts and prolonged recovery laid bare the U.S. electrical grid’s vulnerability to wind and flood, renewing calls for utilities to invest billions to toughen their defenses against extreme weather that may become more common.

European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. routinely bury cables that connect homes to power networks, protecting them from wind and ice. U.S. utilities have balked at moving more infrastructure below ground, saying consumers would object to spending as much as $2.1 million a mile, according to one industry estimate, to bury wires for a system that’s not fail-safe.

Preparing the power grid for the next Sandy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Hurricane Sandy left over eight million people along the East Coast without power. More than a week later, nearly two million are still in the dark.

With a warming planet, it's likely there will be more Sandy-strength storms in the years to come.

CN Rail, CP Rail Surging With Crude Oil Moving by Trains

Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP), the country’s No. 1 and 2 carriers, are rushing to build terminals to load oil beyond the reach of pipelines in some of North America’s remotest regions.

Canadian National is in talks to build more oil terminals after an agreement last month to construct a facility serving Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau said in an interview. “Rapid-deployment terminals” as little as a tenth of that size also are in the works, he said.

Russia backs its claims for Arctic Shelf with evidence

A Russian expedition has finished investigations which were meant to prove that the Arctic Shelf in the Arctic Ocean is a continuation of the Eurasian continent, and, thus, should belong to Russia.

Steel Authority Said to Close Odisha Mine, Cutting Output

Steel Authority of India Ltd., the country’s second-biggest maker of the alloy, will stop work at an iron ore mine in the eastern state of Odisha to make way for an elephant corridor, two people familiar with the matter said.

The environment ministry won’t renew the state-owned company’s permit after a two-year extension expires on Nov. 10, the people said yesterday, asking not to be identified as they aren’t authorized to speak to the media. Odisha, where a government panel is currently reviewing illegal mining and environmental damages, plans to set up a passage way for the pachyderms near Steel Authority’s mine, the people said.

High Nuclear Power Outages In 2012 (Driven By Global Warming–Fueled Sandy, Flooding, & Repair)

Outages at U.S. nuclear power plants so far in 2012 are generally higher than in recent years because of extended forced outages at four nuclear power plants. U.S. nuclear reactor operators typically schedule refueling and maintenance outages during the spring and fall to help ensure that reactors are available to meet higher electric demand levels in the summer and winter. The increase in outages at the end of October came as some nuclear power reactors along the East Coast shut down because of safety concerns from Hurricane Sandy.

S’Korea Widens Nuclear Lapses Probe; KEPCO Chief Resigns

South Korean regulators expanded a probe over fake safety certificates on Wednesday to cover all the country's 23 nuclear reactors, in a move that could dent rock-solid public support for the industry and threaten billions of dollars worth of exports.

Two reactors remained shut, raising the prospect of winter power shortages, as the government looks into how thousands of parts for the reactors were supplied using forged safety documents, reports Reuters.

Low power price threatens Norway's green targets

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's ambitious plans to boost wind power output to cut greenhouse gas emissions and diversify supplies are at risk because of low power prices and an underfunded subsidy scheme, industry sources say.

Norway, the second largest gas supplier to Europe after Russia, aims to cut its greenhouse emissions by 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, power more offshore oil platforms from its onshore grid, and diversifying its power supply.

Geothermal Designs Arise as a Stormproof Resource

Advocates for geothermal energy say that the path of destruction cut by Hurricane Sandy, which unearthed fuel tanks, ravaged cooling towers and battered air-conditioners, has already persuaded some building owners to switch to geothermal systems that use underground pipes to harness the earth’s energy for heating and cooling buildings.

China files solar WTO complaint

BEIJING (UPI) -- China has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against photovoltaic solar subsidies in the European Union.

The action on Monday represents the latest wrinkle in the trade row over solar products between the two economies as well as the United States.

Laos Breaks Ground for Controversial Mekong Dam

BANGKOK — Laos inaugurated the construction of a controversial dam on the Mekong River on Wednesday, despite comments from the country’s prime minister that the project had been delayed.

Mandated Corn Ethanol’s Ripple Effect on Global Commodity Prices and Food Security

Mandating the use of biofuels changes the whole agricultural commodity structure. Mandates mean that the quantity of key agricultural commodities demanded is no longer responsive to price, a term referred to as inelastic demand. Such demand leads to larger price swings during supply shocks like the one we’ve just experienced with the drought that occurred this summer here in the U.S.

'Superbug' found in US wastewater treatment plants

Hospitals aren't the only places where people can pick up a nasty "superbug.'' A University of Maryland-led team of researchers has found methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, at sewage treatment plants in the mid-Atlantic and the Midwest.

Costs of Shoring Up Coastal Communities

“We know from geological surveys — and New Jersey is a prime example — that offshore sand, high-quality sand, is a highly finite resource,” said S. Jeffress Williams, a coastal scientist with the United States Geological Survey and the University of Hawaii.

Underwater ridges of sand lie offshore, but engineers must go farther and farther (and spend more and more) to find them, Mr. Williams said, adding that eventually “it is not going to be there.”

And while it is theoretically possible to replenish a beach with material mined inland, that approach would create other problems, said Robert Young, a coastal geologist who directs the program for the study of developed shorelines at Western Carolina University. “Trucks full of sand weigh a lot,” he added. “There is a tremendous toll on highway infrastructure.” And excavating inland sand “would create holes that would be miles in diameter.”

Musings: Shale Gas Being Attacked On Safety And Emissions

The American shale revolution, which has turned conventional U.S. energy strategy on its head, has recently come under attack on two fronts and from two studies. On one hand, the entire technological foundation of hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas bearing shale formations has been attacked by a study prepared by the federal government's General Accounting Office (GAO). The other study, prepared by the Tyndall Manchester Center for Climate Change Research in the UK, challenges the view that just because the United States has increased its use of natural gas in place of coal in generating electricity, global carbon emissions have not been reduced. In fact, these emissions may be greater.

What does Obama's victory mean for action on global warming?

A second term frees the President to end his climate change silence and perhaps spur on a global deal, but he still needs to win Republican support on Capitol Hill.

California's first auction of greenhouse-gas credits nears

Some industrial businesses are still fighting the cap-and-trade program, which requires big polluters to either reduce their emissions or buy credits to cover the difference.

Spring Arctic snow pack melting fast, study warns

The spring snow pack in the Arctic is disappearing at a much faster rate than anticipated even by climate change models, says a new study by Environment Canada researchers.

That has implications for wildlife, vegetation and ground temperatures, say the scientists, who looked at four decades of snow data for the Canadian Arctic and beyond.

Climate blindness risked as satellites lose their eyes

OUR eyes around Earth are seeing less. US environmental satellites that helped forecasters predict superstorm Sandy are failing. By 2020, the fleet could have just a quarter of the sensors it has today.

China, less impact by CO2 may explain slowing in warming

Most climate scientists acknowledge an "apparent slowdown" since 2000, after fast warming in the 1990s, but say the long-term trend is up. So far, 2012 is the eighth warmest year in records back to the mid-19th century, according to U.S. data.

"The simplest explanation is that China's sulphate emissions did not go down as they suggested they would," said Myles Allen, a professor of geosystem science at Oxford University, who also pointed to rising pollution in many emerging nations. Coal-fired power plants emit sulphate pollution that dims sunlight and so offsets warming. Allen said a decade was too short to measure long-term trends for climate change.

Cooling gases must fall to curb global warming

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - F-gases, used in refrigeration and linked with high levels of global warming, need to be cut substantially by 2030, Europe's climate boss said on Tuesday.

She added that she would be pushing for a global plan on cutting fluorinated gases at U.N. climate change talks in Doha beginning later this month.

Hurricane Sandy may turn the tide on climate change

BACK in 1779, the Spanish artist Francisco de Goya painted a scene that obviously was already common at the time in that retrograde country of his: An old man — or it can be an old lady — is beating a child on the bottom in front of numerous other children in a classroom. Some of the children are crying, for they just suffered the teacher’s barbarous pedagogical methods. Goya titled his masterpiece “La letra con sangre entra” — freely translated, “spare the rod, spoil the child.” Since then, the saying is used to express either the notion that discipline is sine qua none of school and education, or that people won’t learn by a rational approach to events, but have first to suffer the harsh consequences of their folly, to finally grasp whatever evil happened to them, and avoid it in the future, by modifying their own conduct.

It seems the US society is finally learning to accept the reality of climate change – but it had to be Goya’s way. The “Frankenstorm” Sandy was apparently necessary for US society’s mainstream to come to terms with the dire reality of global warming and climate change.

Why Climate Disasters Might Not Boost Public Engagement on Climate Change

Climate change awareness is complex and strongly mediated by socially constructed attitudes. I suggest that there are some countervailing conditions – especially in the early stages of climate impacts. It is important to recognize that many of the social and cultural obstacles to belief are not removed by major impacts and may, indeed, be reinforced.

Bill McKibben’s Math: Climate Change Hits Home (in a 22-City Tour)

It shouldn't take a hurricane to blow open the debate about climate change. But Sandy might help 350.org prove what's at stake in a nationwide campaign to divest university endowments from the fossil fuel industry.

A Change in the Weather on Wall Street

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who works at an environmental organization. We were discussing the absence of any talk about climate change in the presidential campaign, and joked that the United States would decide to get serious only when Wall Street found itself under water.

That turned out to be a very bad joke. There were moments last week when I grumbled that I was paying for it: like everyone else on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, my family and I spent four days with no electricity or water. But others were burying their dead. For us, Sandy was an inconvenience. For many people, it was a catastrophe.

The Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse

The first horseman was named al-Qaeda in Manhattan, and it came as a message on September 11, 2001: that our meddling in the Middle East had sown rage and funded madness. We had meddled because of imperial ambition and because of oil, the black gold that fueled most of our machines and our largest corporations and too many of our politicians. The second horseman came not quite four years later. It was named Katrina, and this one too delivered a warning.

A Scientist Who Foresaw New York Storm Surge Reflects from His Flooded Home

Klaus Jacob, a Columbia University earth scientist who pretty precisely projected the flooding a big hurricane surge could cause in New York City long before Hurricane Sandy hit, reflects in this video on the impacts on the region — including on his own storm-flooded home in Piermont, N.Y., a tiny town along the Hudson River a few miles north of the George Washington Bridge. (The video was shot by the university.)

My initial reaction was centered on the ironies in such a situation, but listen to the section where he describes how, when he invested in raising his home in 2003, he was hemmed in by local zoning, which limits houses in his neighborhood to a total height of 22 feet. He did what he could, raising appliances like the dishwasher well off the floor. So the damage is far less than it might have been.

Deciding Where Future Disasters Will Strike

WE all have an intuitive sense of how water works: block it, and it flows elsewhere. When a storm surge hits a flood barrier, for instance, the water does not simply dissipate. It does the hydrological equivalent of a bounce, and it lands somewhere else.

The Dutch, after years of beating back the oceans, have a way of deciding what is worth saving with a dike or sea wall, and what is not. They simply run the numbers, and if something is worth less in terms of pure euros and cents, it is more acceptable to let it be flooded. This seems entirely reasonable. But as New York begins considering coastal defenses, it should also consider the uncomfortable truth that Wall Street is worth vastly more, in dollar terms, than certain low-lying neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens — and that to save Manhattan, planners may decide to flood some other part of the city.

Monsoon may fail more often due to climate change: study

OSLO (Reuters) - The Indian monsoon is likely to fail more often in the next 200 years threatening food supplies, unless governments agree how to limit climate change, a study showed on Tuesday.

The monsoon rains could collapse about every fifth year between 2150 and 2200 with continued global warming, blamed mainly on human burning of fossil fuels, and related shifts in tropical air flows, it said.

China, less impact by CO2 may explain slowing in warming

I can attest that friends on mine returning from China say that the pollution there is quite shocking - that ABC ( asiatic brown cloud) .

I do expect that Global warming to shift up when it finally tackled - as the CO2 will still be in the atmosphere....


What this mean is; we wont get the true picture of how bad it is, until AFTER the badness of stuff has forced us to stop industrialism all together.

Another possibility is if we go into a spiral down type of collapse. Then as we start losing industrial capacity, climate change will accelerate, knocking us out harder and faster, accelerating the process and so on till it has been all winded up. It may happen quickly once it start.

Leonardo Maugeri: The Coming Oil Glut

The real forces shaping the market point to a significant downturn of oil prices.

The price of oil continues to be set by fear, not by supply and demand. World-wide oil production is growing quickly. By the end of the year, it will probably surpass 92 million barrels per day, with additional spare capacity of more than 3.5 million barrels...

Meanwhile, oil demand is growing sluggishly, a consequence of the troubled global economic situation. China's slowdown, the unsolved problems of the euro zone and energy-efficiency legislation in the U.S., Europe and some Asian countries will probably prevent demand this year from exceeding 89 million barrels per day.

Notice his very first words are to claim that supply and demand are not controlling prices, fear is. Only by doing this can he claim there is an actual oversupply of oil. If supply were actually 92 million barrels per day and demand was actually 89 million barrels per day then the price would drop until demand reached 92 million barrels per day. He never explains where those extra 3 million barrels are going.

Nowhere in the article does he mention the marginal cost of a barrel of oil, which is approaching $100 a barrel right now. And that 3.5 million barrels per day of additional spare capacity is a totally fictional number. It is just his guess. Reuters, just two weeks ago, said world spare capacity just reached 2 mb/d, up from 1.8 mb/d from their last report. And that is their best guess. Sadad Al Husseini, a former executive at Saudi Aramco, says Saudi is producing flat out, which means they have no spare capacity. But Maugeri insist that Saudi can easily increase production:

Once again, Saudi Arabia has shown its huge potential by increasing and decreasing its own oil supply to meet market needs and political ends. Contrary to the expectations of most analysts, the Kingdom has the power to make up even bigger reductions in Iranian oil exports.

Saudi has increased production from the cuts they made after the crash of 2008. But now they are producing flat out. Anyway, Maugeri continues to give you the scoop from never-never land.

Ron P.


the beauty of "spare capacity" I think lies in the fact it can be what ever you want it to be!

nobody really knows who has spare capacity

indeed is this spare capacity only comes online at a certain high price

think of this way , if Oil was at $10 barrel then I would expect a lot of capacity we have today to be "spare" ! So there's prob plenty of spare capacity at $500 barrel - just nobody is gonna use it .....not for running cars that is !

I suspect that Maugeri just want to sell more copy..... my opinion , for what its worth, aligns with yours


My understanding is that "spare capacity" is defined as oil that is currently not being produced, but can be brought on-line in a short time span (I can't remember the exact time, and it probably differs depending on who you ask).

So if the price suddenly went to $500 spare capacity wouldn't automatically increase (other than through demand destruction). The wells would first have to be drilled and the infrastructure constructed and that takes longer than is allowed under the definition of "spare capacity" and therefore doesn't count as such.

On the other hand "spare capacity" does indeed not say anything about the conditions or circumstances under which this spare capacity would be turned into production. It is a technical term, not a policy definition.

The EIA defines spare capacity as the volume of production that can be brought on within 30 days and sustained for at least 90 days. Basically it is supposed to be oil that OPEC is holding off the market in order to supply the world with oil in case oil should spike too high for the economy to support without causing a recession.

Crude only production for Saudi, Kuwait and the UAE verses the other 9 OPEC nations in kb/d. The last data point is September 2012.

Other 9

In the summer of 2008 there was no spare capacity anywhere in OPEC. Then came the recession and the price collapse of the oil market. By early 2009 almost every OPEC nation had some spare capacity. Then by the end of 2009 nine OPEC nations were again producing flat out and only Saudi, Kuwait and the UAE had any spar capacity. Then in March of 2011 the Civil War in Libya caused their production to collapse and so every OPEC nation began to produce flat out again and have done so ever since.

The sudden drop in production of the "other 9" was the Libya dropping to almost nothing. And the recovery was entirely the recovery of Libyan oil production. Now the "other 9" are all producing flat out and are in decline. The other 3 have reached a plateau and I expect them to start declining next year though Manifa coming on line may keep Saudi flat for another couple of years.

But the point I wish to make is that there is no spare capacity anywhere in OPEC, or anywhere else for that matter.

Ron P.

Um, there's involuntary spare capacity in Iran.

How much of the newer production (Bakken, tar sands) would be profitable at 2006 oil prices, anybody have a good wag? I vaguely recall that some of the Saudi production (some older "rejuvenated" wells) needs higher prices now to remain viable.

barrett - WTI spot prices ranged from $59 to $73 per bbl during 2006. Obviously at that price the oily shales would not have boomed as hard as they have since prices have bumped up 50% or so since then. But it's difficult to be too quantify how many rigs would be running today in the various plays at that price. Less for sure. But 20% less? 50% less? I really don't want to put a number to it since it's purely hypothetical and thus not provable. Profits would be lower but the pubcos are motivated by more than well head profits. They need to keep feeding Wall Street the story of growth and increasing reserve bases so it hinges on more than ROR. IMHO there are not enough conventional prospects left in the US to provide half the pubcos with the reserves they need to generate even at today's high oil prices.

When you say "viable" I'll assume you mean viable to develop new projects. Obviously price expectation plays a huge part in that decision making process. But once a well is drilled it can still maintain positive cash even at very low prices. A new KSA project might need $70/bbl to break even. But once that well is producing it can remain profitable to produce at $25/bbl. Based upon the original investment it might be a money losing effort but if it costs less to produce than the value of the production they'll likely keep producing it. Typically in the oil patch profit is the Prince but cash flow is the King.

Ok, so a marginal field/play/well/whatever can be developed when the oil price is high, and it typically still keeps pumping when the oil price falls below profitability because some cash is better no cash.

Correct? If so, it seems a drop in price would impede future production more than current production.

Barrett – Exactly. I know it won’t sound logical but when we have a drop in prices instead of cutting production to save it for a later date when prices increase it’s not uncommon for most operators to do whatever they can to increase production. I don’t think most folks realize how much debt companies (especially pubcos) take on to support drilling. And if you don’t keep payments up your credit line suffers which reduces your ability to drill the projects that remain economic. We have reduced our NG sales due to lower prices. But we’re private and have no debt. But we are a minority exception. But we also only drill if the profit margin is very good. Which is why we don’t do the shales. Which is also why we’ve shut down our NG drilling program after spending $180 million drilling for NG during our first two years. My owner can make a better ROR with his other companies than drilling for NG. And can do it without paying my huge salary. LOL.

It is interesting how our debt based economy acts to force a company to sell a limited resource ie a single well's ultimate production at a low price, even when higher prices may only be a few months away. Yet when a company has full control of the same well, it clearly benefits the company to shut in the well awhile, and it will do so. This I think is pointing to a clear problem with how the market works - though I can't put words to paper, I think it is, as they may have said in Arabia at some point, a case of the nose of the camel peeking under the tent.

Part of the irresponsible attitude of modern Capitalism, I think. Owners want no liability for the acts of the companies they own; everything is incorporated, LLC, PC, PLC, LP, LLP, with no inkling of personal risk for the riskiest endeavor.

Same when they decide to grow; they borrow it, "OPM" they call it. Of course, when you use other people's money, those other people control you.

We need a complete re-think of how we structure business, especially in view of the limits to growth fast nearing notice. And how our government pays for goods and services used for its people.

Just my view, but I think shutting down the Fed would be a good start. Then, instead of loaning money into existence (with profits to the banksters), we could print money into existence. Not any real difference that I can see, inflationary pressure-wise, though I will be inundated with protests from the Fresh Water Economists (I call them the Miltonistas). Horrors!!! The rich not able to profit from necessary enlarging of money supply. Horrors, I say!

Re-think about it.


I've been looking at the part of the German economy called the "Mittelstand". This is a a group of companies that are all privately owned, middle sized and perhaps the most successful segment of capitalism in the world today. They tend to have low debt, niche markets and very stable profits over long periods of time. Exactly the opposite of what you are describing.

How much environmental damage do they do, and how do they pay for it? Even with a rational, low debt, financial base, if they are not paying or making arrangements for their cost to the planet, whether simply CO2 emissions, water and air pollution, or unfunded pensions, unsafe work conditions, and unsafe or unhealthy products, then they are as irresponsible as those with high debt.

Though, with low debt, I would expect that they might be worried about immediate consequences to their corporate persona.

Part of the lie of the right is the meme that others have an entitlement mentality, when in fact it is the owners who feel entitled.

Like the song said, "It's not easy, being green."


How many "smart" companies like your employer are out there? Or are they pretty much all enslaved to the banks to produce whatever they can to maintain the oil/dollar/gold standard where it is?

Klooless – Not so much smarter as lucky to be fully funded by a family that makes a great deal of income from their other companies. My owner cannot stand not having absolute control over his operations. Borrow money and you give someone else leverage. I’ve worked with small public companies that couldn’t spend $100 without written approval from their bankers or bond holders. And some never saw their income…deposited directly into accounts the bankers controlled.
Our situation is very rare. It’s why I chose this group for my last rodeo (hopefully). Especially for the size of our budget. There are very small independent operators that follow our biz plan. Often one man companies.

Thanks for replying Rockman. As much as many would like to do without oil or so they claim, one would have to be pretty radical to be able to avoid it entirely.
And with an economics background and trying to incorporate more than theory into my view of the world, your insights are very appreciated. I also follow MSM but I know from my econ background that MSM is a lot about forming opinions rather than taking a cold hard look at certain realities.

I begrudgingly congratulate Obama on his victory. It does feel a little nice to see the Repubs suffer for 8 years.

When it comes to energy policy in America, this election is meaningless as I think most now understand. We have no energy policy in this country but to burn as much oil, coal, and gas as we can, as quickly as possible, so we can "grow" the economy to pay back meaningless fiat debt.

All I can do is hope that Obama, now that he doesn't have to worry about reelection, will actually begin to talk about energy policy and climate change. Of course all signs point to him saying "first we need to grow the economy then..."

The chances there are slim and none, DCMAC. The agenda is "compromise," as revealed by the talking points the "liberal" crew was spouting last night. Let's hope that doesn't include "just a little" war on Iran.

Obama is a nothing, a social climbing corporate babysitter, a proud and happy pitchfork catcher.

We are in very deep trouble...

And how much trouble would we be in if Romney had been elected? Talk about a corporate tool. Talk about war with Iran - he was just burning to get it on.

Which isn't to say that Obama offers great hope. Especially with another 4 years of a no-compromise obstructionist House.

Romney had to steer right to get the nomination. We'll never know now, but if elected he could have swung back more to the center. Given the serious financial and economic conditions he would have been seriously constrained in what he could do, just as Obama will be. Neither of them seem to be aware of the roll that higher oil prices is having on economic growth, or at least if they do they are not saying that publicly.

I turned the TV on this morning to catch up on election results. The first thing I saw was a new round of "I'm an Energy Voter" commercials promoting more coal and natural gas. There's your energy policy.

If PBO was bold, he would announce that all Federal lands (save for National Parks) are now open for exploration...and he should offer tax credits on any plays which //produce// oil or NG.

After reading this board since its inception, and reading numerous other sources, I doubt there would be huge cornocopian finds out there.

This would be a 'Nixon goes to China' thing, and would take the 'Drill, Baby, Drill, Drill Here, Drill Now' fake issue off the table for good and create some breathing space to talk about the U.S. energy situation with a different mental framework.

yes , and whilst at it put up a committee headed by Mitt to over see it

that should be the final nail in that issue


Bold leaders would ask for and get something bold, like %30 energy conservation across the board by 2013.

I do not think we could get 30% energy conservation by 2013 but it is surely possible by 2014. The 5% oil usage by the War machine could be cut. We could actually RUN our existing trains, buses and save 20% of oil usage. However some things like insulating houses, building more trains and buses, adding shuttles, restoring Rail or LightRail will require some temporary increase in greenhouse emissions. But they could have swift positive energy conservation effects. I cut my natural gas usage by 50% with a new energy-efficient furnace and insulation. Increased gasoline taxes and a carbon tax are the best ways to make sure this happens.

This day comes only once every 4 years. Time to see how prescient we are.

Will Obama definitively put the brakes on nukes in the US?

Will Obama oversee increasing coal mining and exports?

Will Obama undertake a "WW III" style effort towards renewables?

Will Obama enable a US and/or Israeli attack upon Iran?

List the various countries we will invade/bomb/sanction/support terrorism against:

Will Obama mention and discuss peak oil?

How many weeks until the full Keystone XL is approved?

When will the next financial panic happen? Will Obama support another bailout? What will Elizabeth Warren do? (Her election to the senate is yesterday's brightest result IMO.)

More women in the Senate is certainly a sign, including Tammy Baldwin from WI, the first openly lesbian Senator. A few other cracks in the neocon agenda: Florida upheld funding for abortion (wasn't expecting that); several states approved new marijuana laws, including two which have essentially legalized pot for adults; fewer voters in many areas identified themselves as evangelical Christians in exit polls... I think the center is getting pissed and showing it. As a registered independent, I voted a straight Democrat ticket for the first time ever, mainly to smack down the Republicans; tired of being treated like an idiot. Didn't do much good...

Meanwhile, here in rock-ribbed conservative New Hampshire...

Our entire congressional delegation, House and Senate, is 100% women (3 D and 1 R). Not only that, but we elected a woman Governor, also a Democrat.

Not sure what it all means...

Here in California we voted to increase taxes! Prop 30 passed, which means that public schools and universities can survive. And we now have a >2/3rds statehouse democratic majority, so more increases if they are needed are possible. We passed another prop, that scales back but doesn't eliminate the three strikes law, so maybe the size of our prison population can drop a little.

The confusion on the right must be considerable.

Libertarians would end the "War on Drugs", and legalize most recreational drugs. Removing criminal sanctions on many would be a good thing; it would certainly lower incarceration rates and costs.

Religious Right favors strict enforcement of drug laws, and draconian punishment.

Tea Party wants to lower expenditures and favors lower taxes.

Cognitive dissonance rules.

And I used to think that the Democrats were weird.


zap. I think its mainly a problem with coalition building. You can't pick a "pure" philosophy and expect to get a majority with it, so you gotta let in others who only shjare some of your agenda. Soon you have two of three subgroups with comp[eting subaganeda that you try to paper over as best as possible. Then I think there is drift, you got a subgroup whose views keep evolving away from your, but you can't aford to let them go, so you keep stretching things hoping the rubber band won't snap.

I'll volunteer, sgage, that coupled with the new Democratic majority in the previous Republican supermajority NH House of Reps, that it means New Hampshirites rightly despise the right-wing tea party agenda, and that the Republican party is now wholly identified with it (but the lone Republican Senator wasn't up for re-election). Being a woman in politics in that state (my native state, ayup!) is less of a liability now than being a Republican. Not that being a woman should be a liability at all, but these things do take time.

I hear ya Ghung. Wasn't too good here in NC. Dominated by Repugs. I'm unaffiliated and voted straight Dem. As you said, didn't do much good...

Yeah, NC voted itself back to the stone age from the national on through the state and down to the county level. They'll find someway to blame Obama for the coming malaise, I'm sure.

Wasn't it in NC that they voted to make sea level rising illegal?


Not exactly illegal. Just illegal to use scientific predictions of future sea level rise, as opposed to extrapolation from history, for any insurance premium decision. If the reverse happens, extrapolations exceed predictions, I am confident the legislators will decide the opposite.

dak664 already addressed the sea level change bill pretty well, but I'll add that the purpose was to paint the most rosy scenario so that (multimillion dollar) development could continue along the coast and outer banks and pretend that in 30 years it wasn't all going to get washed away (and then paid for by taxpayers).

Other prominent wonderfulness the Republican led legislature has already brought us is a modification of the NC Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and voted to repeal a one-half-of-one-cent sales tax that went straight to schools. Who meeds am ejicashun n e weigh? They also tried to push through voter suppression laws (vetoed by the Democratic governor - which will no longer be the case), they've been working on expanding For-Profit K-12 "charter" schools, tax cuts for millionaires, and FRACKING.

That's with only a light majority in the state houses and a Democratic governor veteoing like mad - there are no restraints left, so there will likely be interesting times ahead.

The loss of the House seat, formerly occupied by Heath Shuler "Blue-Dog Democrat", isn't really a loss as Shuler "Yellow-Dog Democrat" was a Republican anyway.

I do wish to note that this isn't just a self-indulgent post as the Republican takeover of NC will have national consequences. These are funded by the same anti-science, pro-war, pro-1% people that are trying to take over every state. It is a concerted effort. NC has been very progressive in the past decade in terms of air quality, water quality, alternative energy, and science (particularly Research Triangle Park), with a high-quality University system. You can bet that will all come to a screeching halt and will have ripple-effects that extend far beyond the state borders.

The markets seem to think the Obama election is the next financial panic. Down 2.5 % so far.

In the UK the PO crowd was expecting the next downturn after the Olympic Games. Maybe it was delayed for the POTUS vote. Not that I think that there is a 'them' out there - simply the psychosis of the markets.

With the election out of the way, the equities markets are focused on the fiscal cliff in ~7 weeks. With the same set of actors that brought us the debt ceiling crisis.

My personal sense is that Pres. Obama and Congress will flail around for a compromise for a little bit, and in a fit of panic repeal the sequestration. The Dow, unaccountably relieved, will rally to mid-13s.

It will be heartwarming to see both parties come together and agree to borrow more money!

Interesting item in the WSJ today. Interest rates on short term ExxonMobil debt (due in December, 2013) are slightly below comparable US Treasury debt. Given what is happening to Southern European government debt, this might be the start of a very worrisome trend for the US.

It could be worrisome. That would be a good spread to watch (XOM vs. US Treasuries).

Imagine if someone other than the Fed was having to pay for those Treasuries ..

It will be heartwarming to see both parties come together and agree to borrow more money!

Yeah, most everyone will exhale a sigh of relief, hug each other and assert all is well, ahh! Yet it beckons the imagination as to what would happen if we actually stood on tax revenue and nothing more like borrowed money or QE's to artifically prop up minor growth. We are in new territory with higher oil prices and we shall see where it goes, but eventually the piper must be paid.

...but eventually the piper must be paid.

Perk Earl, when do you feel that day of reckoning will be?

I've heard the suggestion that they'll vote to kick the can a little further down the road, due to the fact that they have been concentrating on the election and were waiting to see the new balance of power before comIng up with real proposals.

Yeah, I can see that happening.

Edit: I'm referring to the so-called "fiscal cliff," just to be clear. I think Wall Street is just disappointed that their frat brother lost the election.

"I think Wall Street is just disappointed that their frat brother lost the election."

Market tanked after the latest remarks by Draghi and Germany's exports dropping like a rock (Europe's pocketbook).

Smith and Wesson up 9.6%.

The markets seem to think the Obama election is the next financial panic.

The markets are reacting to what is taking place in Greece, not the US election. There is more discussion on that elsewhere, so no detail here.

I fear that the Banksters' cry for 'austerity' will reach our shores early in 2013... after the financial cliff has been dealt with. Here, as in the Eurzone, the IMF (the Miltonistas) will demand more, and more, and ever more austerity (if "more austerity" is not an oxymoron), as the natural diminution of economic activity negatively impacts tax revenues. Repayment to the banksters is far more important than the well being of ordinary citizens (peons). We already know that from 2008.

Jobs? The wealthy will have more effective control of virtually all of the money; give them some more austerity for the 99%, and lower taxes for the 1% - - - then maybe they will allow a bit to trickle down to the masses.

When things really get going, I look for demand for privatization of water supplies, all highways, schools, public libraries (take that you dang elitist hippy geeks), fire fighting, and, of course, police activities. Oh, and any public parks or other public lands, absolutely MUST be sold immediately as part of austerity. If you want to walk in the park, you must pay a toll... it is only right for you slackers... you are all TAKERS! Only the 1% are MAKERS. I know it's true because I heard it on TV today, coming from Faux News.




/s rant


Perhaps rather than Takers or Makers, what we need are more Leavers, a la Daniel Quinn...

Its partly the election too. The completion of the corporate takeover of the country is still incomplete, and will now be delayed. If the R's had won, the resolution of the "fiscal cliff" would have been a Republican one, cut everything but military spending and more tax cuts. Now we will have a battle Royale if as expected the Republicans try to hold the line -no tax increases of any time, and Obama wants at least a token increase on taxes for rich people. So the odd of not being able to solve the fiscal cliff before it comes into effect are now very low. Not that Europe -or even China aren't contributing to the pullback, but the domestic prospects are also different.

Oh, and any public parks or other public lands, absolutely MUST be sold immediately as part of austerity. If you want to walk in the park, you must pay a toll... it is only right for you slackers... you are all TAKERS!

Ron Swanson is way ahead of you!


Drop in a token, look at a duck.

He does not have the power to do some of those things on his own, other than the stuff that is mostly standard imperial BAU practice like coal mining and war, so it's not an issue of whether he wants to now that he's not facing another election. He would have to marshal a lot of support to do such things, either from the various factions of the powerful or some mass public movement. In a nation that has become heavily factionalized this seems very unlikely, and where is the evidence that he has any interest in doing something that runs counter to supporting the existing power structure?

The man is a rorschach inkblot test where people see what they wish to see. If you block out the emotional appeals of non-verbal communication used in video and audio presentations, and focus instead on the actual record of actions and the words, you see there is simply nothing radical about the man. I would be shocked if there was any significant change of course.

I have seen Obama do specific things that support the current power structure.

I have NOT seen him do anything that runs particularly counter to the existing power structure. If I had to bet I'd bet for more of the same - bending over backwards for the banks and the military. So that's the interesting thing to speculate upon - will he change his stripes?

How about nationwide single payer health care?

First step to make ANY sort of progress is to have the Senate rules for the next session restore the real filibuster rules. Tom Udall is certain to propose this again at the beginning of the new Senate session.

Won't it get filibustered?
/sarc off

With the house controlled by the crazies, would that actually matter? Seems to me legislaturewsie nothing has really changed.

Just threaten to cutoff the Pentagon Corporate Welfare spigot and see how long it takes for the Southern Warfare State Republicans to come to the table...
It is ironic that the same Republicans who constantly complain about "Government spending" somehow never count the Warfare state and its $1 Trillion per year expense nor their own Red State subsidies due to Military Corporate Welfare spending mostly to Southern States.


n a 2007 study (drawing on data from 2005) the Tax Foundation found that New Mexico ranked first, with residents getting back $2 in spending for every $1 they paid in federal taxes. The next leading states were Mississippi, Alaska, Louisiana, and West Virginia. At the bottom of the list were New Jersey (residents got 61 cents for every dollar of taxes), Nevada, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Minnesota

I think the warfare state is sacred to many, threatening to cut it down to size would be considered to be the ulitimate in unpatriotic acts. That move would likely backfire in a big way. The sheeple are just enamoured of the "my military can whoop yours mentality"

OK well here is an example of how that is NOT true.

As usual I was discussing Climate Change as the cause of Hurricane Sandy, Peak Oil and the advantages of solar energy with off-grid battery backup for public schools as refuges to a shopowner in New Jersey. How the Wars cost $1 Trillion per year for what?

The shopowner said a close friend's son had just died the day before in Afghanistan. She did not see the point of the Afghan or other wars.

Americans from left to right are sick of the Wars and the costs of Empire borne not by the vulture Capitalists like Romney or neoconservatives that started the Iraq/ Afghan wars like Wolfowitz, Cheney etc who dodged military service.

There is a small segment of white male warmongers who get off on Wars. But the vast majority (70% according to recent polls) wanted to get out of Afghanistan, and stop the Wars for Empire. That is actually the MAJOR appeal of Ron Paul to many that he goes against both neocons and neoliberals in opposing the endless Wars.

Do you want to spend $1 Trillion on War or fund Social Security, Medicare for all, infrastructure, schools and there is absolutely no contest among the public even as propagandized as they are. The billions by the plutocrats did not lead to Republican or rightwing warmonger victories...

Stuff like strong military polls well, thats why politicians are always invoking it, i.e. trying to be a bigger supporter than their opponents. So we are on a race to the absurd.
Opposing a foolish wasteful war, and wanting to cut overall military spending by at least 50% are different things.

I'm hoping you are right here. But, I don't see any evidence of it.

"Do you want to spend $1 Trillion on War or..."

When long term care for veterans, veterans benefits, debt on the money borrowed to go to war, and other non-direct expenditures is counted the figure I've seen for Iraq and Afghanistan reach $5 Trillion. So there is the cost which has already been incurred as well as a future balance to be paid.

Wrong questions (with the exception of 5 and 6 re: wars and terrorism.)
Here are mine:

1. How many supreme count Justices will die or retire in the next 4 years? Four of them are over 70, 3 over 75.

2. Will the likely weather and environmental disasters of the next few years be swept under the carpet, and scientific bodies that might speak to the questions be muzzled (or become more muzzled than they are now?)

3. Will the costs of undertaxation reach a tipping point where it can be blamed on Republican Dogma and Republican obstructionism?

4. Will changing demographics play to the Democrats (more young voters, older voters without pensions changing sides?)

5. Will the political spectrum become further splintered? Will you have 3 parties in the next election, the crazy (the Democrats) more crazy (mainstream fiscal policy Republicans) and really really crazy (Tea Party Republicans)?

So much of USAmerican political discourse is aligned towards judging representatives for not doing what they promised, without looking at how hard it might be just to fight a holding action. Obama's win last night is one such holding action.

Obama does not have total freedom just because he doesn't face re-election. He has a responsibility to his party, and to work to preserve the changes (and holding actions) that he has managed and may yet manage.

My guess is that Question # 5 is the most important. If the shoddy construction that is the current Republican party were to splinter, there is a chance to alter the direction of the past 30 years, and do more than just prevent things from getting worse even faster.

Events may continue to play out in ways that make right-wing positions less tenable, but a more active stance may be to help them shoot themselves in the foot.

So here's my answer, guys: if your congressional district went Republican, don't campaign for the Democrats directly: instead, get out there and campaign for the craziest, most racist, anti-gay, anti-tax, climate-change denying, anti-science tea-party politician you can find. If your district went Tea Party, then campaign for the guy in the back corner carrying the AR-15 and driving the monster truck who calls the incumbent a lily-livered, fancy-talkin' pansy. (Hide your Prius, and make sure that AR-15 is pointed away from you at all times. Neither gun safety or impulse control is likely to be your candidate's strong point.)

Hold your nose and help the Republicans to implode (that is, if you agree with me that a Democratic party facing a weakened GOP would be more environmentally friendly.)

You'll thank yourself in two years.


Opinion follows:

These are easy!

1. 3 or 4 max, suspect 2 is a safe bet.

2. AGW systemic contributions to weather madness will go up. Impossible for MSM to be in more denial.

3. Been there since 2003. (Denial of math is a broad spectrum problem)

4. Been there since 2000, masked by Supremes (5-4 decision) and supression. That train is just getting up moderate speed, but gerrymandering keeps House in play, as does cognative dissonance and infotainment during off-year, under the radar until they are over elections.

5. It's nearly a sigularity now with random noise providing the illusion of choice. On issues that matter in the long term, there is one party, the BAU party. Those who disagree are probably correct when viewing a year or five, but put this on a human-life scale and it's one big haze gray blur of sameness.

On #4, it's incredible people don't make a bigger deal of gerrymandering. Obama wins all swing states and the D's in the Senate picks up seats, but somehow R's still hold the House by a fairly comfortable margin. Shouldn't that raise just a bit of suspicion that something is amiss as to why everthing trends one way except for the House?

I'd like to see constitutional amendments that require districts be drawn by a non-partisan committee (federal if necessary), then also have electoral votes determined by Congressional district (this is what Maine and Nebraska already do) to get rid of the swing states - instead you'd have a hundred swing districts all over the place, making for more of a national election.

Might as well throw in an amendment addressing corporate personhood, too. I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know exactly how the law has to be changed, but it should be simple enough to recognize corporations as entities that can be sued, can be held liable for crimes, etc. while acknowledging they are not people and thus not entitled to all the rights of actual human beings.

I know I'm asking for too much, it's just frustrating that our society is mired in this stasis when common sense dictates there are a bunch of simple steps that could improve our present situation. Maybe these proposals would just be window dressing now, anyway, but a few gradual changes that work out well may open people up to a more dramatic overhaul to truly confront the challenges we face.

How many supreme count Justices will die or retire in the next 4 years?

Canuckistani, the impact of appointing new Supreme Court Judges might be one of the biggest results of this election.

Hmmm, maybe, but I kind of doubt it. In order to materially affect the ideological composition of the Court, Obama would have to have the opportunity to replace one of the more conservative justices with a more liberal one.
That is, the most likely Justice to step down would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 79, and reportedly in failing health. Her replacement by an Obama appointee presumably would have no net effect on how the Court ruled on most important issues.
Looking at the more conservative members- Roberts is only 57, Alito is 62, and Thomas is 64. Relatively youthful for SCOTUS.
That leaves Scalia and Kennedy, both at 76. I haven't heard any rumors about either of those two contemplating retirement, but who knows? My guess is they both intend to hang around for another decade.

That is, the most likely Justice to step down would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 79, and reportedly in failing health. Her replacement by an Obama appointee presumably would have no net effect on how the Court ruled on most important issues.

And she might be replaced by a liberal appointee in her 50's, something that would have been unlikely to happen under Romney. Once again, a holding action to avoid making things worse.

As for Scalia and Kennedy, they're now under pressure to stay, and can't be replaced by younger righ-wing blood (assuming they might have decided to retire under Romney.) If there's a Democratic Administration in 2016, they'll be running close to their sell-by dates.


To me this election feels like we are still clings on the slippery slope. We could have not dodged the bullet, and out dead carcass could be hurtling down that slope, but we are still clinging precariously to that slope. Any election we could lose our grip.

By modern standards the Supremes aren't very old:
Antonin Scalia Age: 76 yr 7 mo

Anthony Kennedy Age: 76 yr 3 mo

Clarence Thomas Age: 64 yr 4 mo

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Age: 79 yr 7 mo

Stephen Breyer Age: 74 yr 2 mo

John G. Roberts Age: 57 yr 9 mo

Samuel A. Alito, Jr. Age: 62 yr 7 mo

Sonia Sotomayor Age: 58 yr 4 mo

Elena Kagan Age: 52 yr 6 mo

Reagan and the Bushes were very smart to appoint really young justices. Clinton, not so much. They could all easily outlast the Obama administration.

By historical standards the Supremes are not very old either. But health issues are arising earlier. My hope is Justice Thomas keeps eating as much as he likes at every rich buffet he sees.

I took two Icelandic engineers (visiting New Orleans for Jazz Fest) to the Crescent City Steakhouse (the restaurant that Ruth's Chris Steak House copied). As we were waiting to be seated, Secret Service checked us out (waiting in line to be seated outside - this freaked the Icelanders !).

Shortly afterwards, Justice Scalia drove up with his party - I told the Icelanders "That is the man that elected George W. Bush President". "Just a judge they asked ?" and I explained.

I sat so that he had to exit by my chair, I put out my hand with a "thumbs down" so he could see it, but below the tabletop. I decided that was appropriate.

I asked the waiter - Justice Scalia ordered a T-bone (forgot rareness).

Best Hopes for more such meals,


Actually, I kind of admire the man, as he is one of the few principled conservatives willing to vigorously and publicly defend his beliefs.
He certainly seems to have the courage of his convictions.
Here on TOD we constantly lament how corrupt political discourse has become in this country. I share that sentiment.
But I dont see Scalia as corrupt, I think he is often on the wrong side of the law and on the wrong side of history, but he does seem principled and obviously highly intelligent.
- Best hopes for good faith dialogue with your ideological opponents-

Woo. You don't know what you just said. You know who else had the "courage" of their convictions? Those a-holes that flew planes into the twin towers. Scalia and Thomas have probably done even more damage than that to the nation, but they don't get blamed for it because it's indirect.

Bush appointed Scalia's son to a federal job. No corruption there...

Enter Antonin Scalia, the champion not of impartial law but of Mr. Antonin Scalia. Scalia, it turns out had a different family-related conflict of interest. In this instance, his son, Eugene, a budding lawyer, had been promised a job with the new administration if Mr. Bush were to be elected. It was a well-known “secret”. Mr. Justice Scalia was well aware of the pending appointment at the time of Bush v. Gore and he not surprisingly voted with the Court’s majority that overturned the Florida recount while it was being conducted. He also knew at the time that there is a federal statute that “requires a judge to recuse himself from any case in which their spouse or CHILD has an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding”. (Mr. Thomas may also have the same problem given the activities of his wife.) The outcome of the recount had implications for his son’s legal future. Sure enough, Eugene Scalia was nominated by President George W. Bush to be Solicitor of Labor in the Department of Labor, a position that could influence a range of issues relating to worker safety and other working conditions. Everyone including Congress knew that Eugene Scalia didn’t give a fig about worker safety or the laws that protected workers from harm. The confirmation hearings were confrontational as they should have been. His chances looked grim.

Eugene Scalia was finally appointed by George W. Bush using the recess appointment route that allowed him to circumvent Congress. During his term as a recess-appointed official, Mr. Scalia argued a case involving one of his former paying clients, Pacific Marine Association. It is not surprising that his former client won the case in its conflict with ILWU (the longshoreman’s union). Apparently, the affinity for conflicts of interest is congenital in the Scalia clan.

So you are alleging that Mr Scalia is corrupt because he should have recused himself from Bush v Gore? That he did not and his son later received an appointment to the Bush administration is evidence?
You would then have to believe that Mr Scalia is a completely cynical man who placed his son's career advancement over his legal principles, that is, his stated justifications for his not recusing himself and ruling as he did are self-serving lies?
Well, I choose not to believe that. I take him at his word that he acted in good faith and ruled as he did in accordance with his principles.

Well, you are free to believe whatever you like. But in answer to your questions - 1) - yes. 2) - not that his son 'later' received... As the article states, it was known prior to the election. 3) - yes, deeply.

Justice Scalia like the other Corporate apologists alleged conservatives has no "principles" but the protection of Corporate plutocratic power. What Libertarian would condone drone assassinations against American citizens with no judge, jury or even indictment by a Grand Jury? What Libertarian would condone the unConstitutional Libyan War, indeed the fact that there has been NO official Declaration of War by the US Congress since WW II despite repeated Wars and armed interventions in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq War 1, Afghanistan, Iraq War 2, drone assassinations in Pakistan, Yemen, Mali, and so many countries I lost count. What Libertarian would allow spying by the NSA and numerous agencies of the US government on the phone conversations and emails of every single American citizen? What "conservative" would allow the public airwaves to be taken over by the likes of Fox News and huge media monopolies?

Scalia and his ilk have no allegiance but the protection of power.
He is no more "principled" than John C Calhoun and the other defenders of slavery for their own profits.

Yamaha-frame bike with scuba tank makes Dyson shortlist

... As an alternative-fuel bike, it reaches impressive speeds, given that is powered by a tank of compressed air. Opened up all the way, according to claims, the O2 Pursuit can do over 60 miles on a single tank and can zoom past trees and mountains at 87 mph. The obvious advantage to electric bikes would be that this Pursuit cycle would not require the big heavy batteries, long re-charging waits, and thoughts about battery disposal.

Air energy could be compressed via solar or wind and stored in an inert state forever.

... the O2 Pursuit is a project that provides an inviting look into the use of air as an alternative fuel in, as he said, a post-petroleum world

From the comments on the first link, the 87 mph top speed is a typo, should be 7 mph. The 60 mile range becomes just believable at that speed, since the energy in a 12 liter 230 bar tank is about 350 watt-hours, comparable to that of a 36 volt 10 amp-hour electric bicycle battery, and those run 10-15 watt-hours per mile (at 15 mph). However the scuba tank would have more than twice the weight of the lithium battery.

I guess the benefit of the tank is that its storage capacity doesn't degrade over time, and the lifespan should be better than the battery. That's assuming, of course, that the tank doesn't corrode or become damaged.

HP tanks become powerful missiles when the valves break off. I saw a picture of a scuba tank that had shot through the trunk of a large live tree about 25 years ago. The valves don't break off often but it is not unheard of - corrosion at the neck is common. Lifespan to 45 years is not a problem - my oldest is from 1967, it's fine.
SCUBA HP compressors are not efficient by any means - adiabatic compression and all. Filling a tank from empty is about 20 minutes with a $15,000 compressor. Cascade tanks reduce it to 5 minutes but the compressor must run later.
Lots of reasons make air motorcycles a poor answer. I have always considered air vehicles a novelty technology.
Now air motors can make good brakes and good starters - off the shelf parts. It seems to me it could lend itself to a cheaper hybrid technology for poor nations if some thought was put to it.

Valve damage could come in an accident. Add to that Fred's comments below, there is a lot of upkeep not to mention keeping the tank cool while filling. Wait till J6P decides 4kPSI is better than 3kPSI and tweeks his compressor and you could have some interesting house modifications occurring at very high speed.


The 20Ah, 36V LiFePo4 battery pack I just picked up for my ebike is possibly one of my favorite purchases ever. If it lives up to it's 2000 charge-cycle rating, I'm going to be riding it around town for the next 10 years! (5d/w, 50w/y = 250 cycles/year max). Plus, the internal resistance is so much lower than my old Pb batts, I have increased my top speed into the neigborhood of 35mph when I am pedalling with it as hard as I can. It's like rocket fuel. Quite the yellow-light beater. As it is, my commute of 7mi is now within 5 mins of eachother wether I'm using the ICE vs. the Ebike.

It's about the size of a loaf of bread, and is 720Wh, nominal. I usually put between 4-7Ah (usually avg 5Ah, but somedays you're just tired, you know?) back into it when charging after my 7mi x 2 daily commute, so I'm getting approx 3mpah or 12whpmi (what's that in mpg??) [assuming 100% efficient charging, btw, so we're talking about charge/utility Ah, not Ah out of the batt, which might be closer to 3-4]. They can keep their scuba tank ;)


"I have increased my top speed into the neigborhood of 35mph when I am pedalling with it as hard as I can."

I hope you do not live in Washington, or that you have a motorcycle license.

RCW 46.04.169
Electric-assisted bicycle.

"Electric-assisted bicycle" means a bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor. The electric-assisted bicycle's electric motor must have a power output of no more than one thousand watts, be incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than twenty miles per hour on level ground, and be incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power alone is used to propel the device beyond twenty miles per hour.

If the motor is still on when you exceed 20 mph, then you are in violation of the law. :-)

After all, the State must act to protect you from yourself.

State's too busy enhancing their revenue stream writing speeding tix for cars. Tend not to get harassed riding on the sidewalk when necessary, either, but it mostly depends on the officer's mood like everything else. We take our chances. When was the last time you saw someone get pulled over for tailgating? There's about 3 traffic laws that actually get enforced in my experience, regardless of jurisdiction. Here in Tucson, you're largely under-the-radar unless your on a dewey [vernacular for "DUI-bike": a bicycle with a 2-stroke ICE motor you buy when you lose your license]

btw my motor is in the neighborhood of 600W. Most of the kW motors I see advertised more in the 40mph range, supposedly. Clearly those writing the law have no idea what they are talking about, but what's new? Honestly, things get too interesting above 25 on most of our aging blacktop anyway. Yea infrastrucure. But like passing gear, it's nice to have it when you need it. I had to change out my casette a couple years ago to match the motor to the legs optimally. Now I've got a 10T in 'passing gear'; most bikes seem to come with a 13 or 14T, although maybe that's changed on the 30-speed/10-speed casette setups (I honestly don't know what you do with that many gears anyway, I use about 4 of mine on the flatlands here, and I used to get around just fine on a classic 2x5 speed when I was a teenager in the mountains up north).

Federal law has the speed of a "Bicycle" at 20 mph, but state or local law might have a "Moped"/Scooter at 35 mph, usually with the 50cc restriction, which is <5 horsepower usually (3700ish watts). So if anyone gives you grief tell them you're riding an "electric moped" with well under 50cc equivalent.

"Federal law has the speed of a "Bicycle" at 20 mph, "

Federal law? So much for my example above on something not yet regulated by the Federal government.

Funny. Sorry for the confusion.

Federal law considers an "electrically assisted bicycle" as just a "bicycle" if assist is limited to 20 mph and 750 watts (1 hp). As far as I know you can do 120mph in downhill free-fall on a pure bicycle and still be considered a bicycle.

I'm still recovering from a feline/bicycle collision, I was probably doing 17mph at the time. The faster you go the greater your risk. Are those speeds really worth it?

Generally not. I was excersizing mine inner American 'mine's bigger' urge, man! I actually had a pair of 'truck nutz' on it for a while, because I thought it was completely hilarious to be of a horsepower mentality about a bicycle surrounded by cars trying to do hockey on my kiester daily - I could make fun of myself, and the SUV drivers at the same time. I'm afraid a coworker emasculated it one day for a joke, so I'm back to meek little me, lol. But really, I've lost 30 pounds, I enjoy pedalling, and biking is just less stressful, even in moderate traffic (I designed my own light, for instance, 4x 5W leds, pulsed front & back). I find a motor gets me over the hump if I have the sniffles, for instance, and when you're riding in a serious wind, it's a godsend.

The point of the new battery, really, is that the LiFePO4 chemistry has a 2000 cycle life (to 80% capacity, I'd guess), vs. Pb-acid, which has a 200 cycle capacity, so even at 5x the price, you're getting a better deal, and I don't have to recycle a battery every 5 years. Also, it's much lighter, and has a huge capacity, so now I'm contemplating regular commutes of 20 mi, for instance if I need to go downtown. 20mi is just a bit much for me myself and I to contemplate w/o some assist most days, and +10mph there makes alot of difference in whether it's realistic to ditch the ICE time-wise.


If you wanted to make the reverse joke, you could string up a pair of 'Mothballs' on it somewhere.

Blind folks might smell you approaching before they heard you!

Where did you get it? -- Thanks

see "desertrat on November 7, 2012 - 5:35pm", below.

The motor kit I got from http://sdelectricbike.com/ - Patrick works out of his garage, so his prices are good, and he's happy to answer questions. I'm putting one on my xtracycle longtail cargo bike now for building materials trips. My motors are the "Aotema", which were sold as "Wilderness Energy" on ebay and such up to 5 years ago. They are really on the low end as motors go, but they fight the wind and the yellow lights quite well. Also, mine are the old DC-brushed versions, paranoid me, if I ever blow a controller and there's no one to replace it, you can just place a switch between the battery and the motor and run it WOT all the time - the torque is not great enough to be dangerous.

The most famous LiFePO4 battery manufacturer is East Asia's own "Ping Battery" on ebay and web, they have a huge following and great reviews. Most ebike dealers will sell the Ping battery. The batteryspace.com part was somewhat cheaper, but I suspect I bought it mostly for the modularity. Also, unlike A123 cells, the instantaneous current draw on the Ping batts is not very good, so I felt that I would have had to step up to a larger capacity that was more expensive (they assured me people used the little one with my setup, but I remain skeptical). The batteryspace is middle-of-the-road in current drain, and I could afford the larger cells. This is why I think it feels like it has so much more power than my Pb pack - the internal resistance is much lower, both with Li vs. Pb and with larger capacity cells (more surface area for the chemical reaction per unit time), so less voltage drop / more power is delivered to the motor at WOT.

I think if you put together a current motor kit and Li battery yourself, e-bike technology is pretty optimized right now in 2012, and affordable for the price of a few car payments. It's a fair trade for me, now my pickup only hauls loads of dirt and cinderblock and such like it was made for, and I save $5 on gas every day. That pays for the ebike pretty quick.


Thanks, Desert. Lots of good info there.

I have three Tidalforce M-750X (1000 watt). A great bike when it works and when you put a Lithium battery on it (the stock NiMH don't quite make it).

I only have one battery, though, so I'd like a spare.

The tank must be inspected once every year, or after 100 refill cycles, wichever comes first.

At least if you intend to dive with it again.

Varies a bit from country to country. If it fails the test, for whatever reason, you get it back with holes drilled in it so that it is beyond use.


That's standard. In the industry, I have at times destroyed equipment that I deemed dangerous to use. When the boss once asked why I put the knife in something I replied "because I couldn't find an angel grinder". Nice memory.

Good story, but better typo. I'm keeping it!

There's also a great one about Gordon Willis, the cinematographer, who got a Panavision, a $100,000 Camera.. back from the shop with the same problem he sent it out with.. and he pulled it off the cart and smashed it onto the ground.. saying "Now they'll they'll have to actually fix it!" or something like that..

Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.. better go out back and fire up our Angel Grinder!

(In full complement, my daughter has a thing for mice lately, and has drawn up a big poster of winged rodents all called 'The Angle Mice'..)

I guess the right spelling is angle grinder... well well. I started to learn english in school when I was 10.

Another story: they welder could not convince bosses his welding machine was old and tiered and that he could work more efficiently with a new one. So he "accidently" run the fork lift into it.

Wasn't me though, a coworker told me that one.

Yeh, I've known a few laptops have tumbles on the stairs before now. +1 tye trypo


This has been tried over and over for cars and didn't quite work out. And there are good theoretical reasons why. But, the different scale of a bicycle may make it more practical than in a car. Just like battery-assisted bikes seem to be more feasible than battery-powered cars. A lightweight vehicle with muscle-power input needs so much less stored assistance energy. Another downside of compressed air is the low efficiency of the whole cycle, lower than that of batteries. But at the scale of a bicycle, even if refilling the compressed air uses several times as much energy as recharging a battery, nobody cares, since it is still only a few pennies.

... the O2 Pursuit is a project that provides an inviting look into the use of air as an alternative fuel in, as he said, a post-petroleum world

Not to nit pick but at best compressed air could be seen as an alternative means for storing energy, not exactly a fuel.

On the other hand do I have a couple of scuba tanks holding 3000 psi of air, in my closet right now as I type this. Maybe I could adapt that compressed air engine into a small lightweight ATV. A velomobile would be even better!

There's plenty of SCUBA shops around my home that would fill those tanks for me. An air fill typically runs about $5.00 and you can get a discount if you buy a card. I'm pretty sure that's still a lot less than the price of gas for the distance covered. Purchasing an electric compressor to fill the tanks myself at home might also become an attractive option.

Note: Currently you do need a valid C card to get an air fill at a reputable SCUBA shop and your tanks have to pass a yearly VIP inspection and a hydro once every 5 years. I think if I were filling and discharging my tanks for my daily commute I would want to do a hydro maybe once a year.

Edit: Here's a YouTube of the inventor of the engine.

Unless you deal with the heat of compression, the roundtrip energy efficiency of CAES is abysmal ten percent or under. For tiny things, we may be able to live with crappy energy efficiency, but for bugger stuff it becomes a show stopper.

"An air fill typically runs about $5.00".

When I put 200Wh back into my ebike battery every night, my typical fill runs closer to $0.03. But if you already have the tank, that would sure be a fun DIY!


To be fully honest, assuming my battery dies right at 2000 charges, it was $500, so my daily 'fuel' cost is really more like $0.28.


Hey desertrat your battery sounds like a pretty sweet deal especially based on the specs you posted above. I think it will beat the scuba tank powered bike any day. I think I'll keep my tanks for actual diving, though it'd be cool if I could power an air motor and use it on my kayak when I'm trying to get through rough surf >;-)

On a slightly different note I've been researching building a portable solar charger for just such a battery because upon checking there doesn't seem to be one already on the market that really does the job. Sure, I can pretty easily dimension a stationary ebike charger that will power the standard AC charger through a DC to AC inverter off a battery bank but I want a charger that will do the job and is lightweight and can be rolled up and put in a small backpack.

If anyone out there knows of one off the shelf, please let me know!

Edit: I know there are some lightweight foldable military grade panels on the market I found some 62 watt 12 volt panels that are a bit pricy for me at about $800.00 each. It would be nice to get a couple of those for the right price and they might work with this charger for another $200.00

Model # CV 12/36 - 4 PV
This controller / booster allows you to charge a 36 volt battery(s) from
a 12 volt module or array.
These are very popular for solar charging of 36 volt electric golf carts and for
some marine applications.
input voltage = from 0 to 25 volts d.c. - approx. 15 volt nominal operating
output voltage = factory set at 42.3 volts d.c. for charging a 36 volt
battery or batteries - can be adjusted from 36 to 45 volt d.c. using the
internal pot.
input current = 0 to 12 amps (nominal)
output current = 4 amp continuous (provided that sufficient solar power
is available)
input fuse = internal 15 amp ATC fuse
The user should install a 7.5 amp fuse in line with the battery
quiescent current = 15 ma
efficiency = 92 to 96% depending on loading and state of charge.
housing = black stippled aluminum
approx. dimensions = 6-3/4" overall (including the strain relief), 3-3/4" wide
and 2-3/8" tall


I like the fact that the cells are individual, allowing salvage, repair, change in voltage/#cell down the road, etc.

Fits right inside one of these: http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FRRPE like a glove.

It's a LiFePO4, so it can supposedly be charged by a high-quality CC/CV charger like the one you show, but those are really made for Pb-acid cells, mileage may vary, I suspect. You may want to go the inverter route for Li cells, and use the mfr's charger, plus you can use that combo for a lot of other emergency purposes. I have a similar setup running a battery-backed air pump for the fish in my aquaponic garden. I have 4 days of air supply if/when the grid goes down for the fishies w/o any solar, and we rarely have storms that long.


So one more question, did you get (does one need) the Battery Maintenance System (BMS), which basically doubles the price?

Techsan, (deleted)

Edit: Now I'm seeing the BMS page. Low Volts cutoff, temperature monitor, all the bells & whistles.

Since desertrat didn't link to this page initially, I think we can assume he bought the other package.

Ouch, that's one expensive BMS! The usual (e.g. Ping batteries) is a board having sense wires going to each cell, and enables a 100 milliamp resistive shunt across each one after they come up to voltage. After full charge it may or may not disconnect the charger (sometimes the charger turns itself off at a set voltage). Those run ~US$30 for a 36 volt version.

The motor controller on the bicycle can probably do the low voltage cutoff, not quite as reliably because it only knows the overall voltage. If one cell gets really out of balance it can overdischarge before the pack voltage has dropped enough.

If your amp-hour usage is predictable, I'd size the pack and set the charger voltage to operate between 20-90% and only give it the full equalizing charge every 10 cycles or so. No BMS needed for that, if you use a single cell charger for the equalization. But make sure the bicycle low voltage disconnect is working!

For the LiFePO4 chemistry, not charging that last 5% is supposed to be quite beneficial and the drop off at the tail end is extreme, so keeping it between 5-95% is a good idea, but if you can afford it ($, #, space)...make sure you size past "end of life" - which IIRC is when a battery can only hold 80% of its original capacity.

If you look at the life cycle curve of the LiFePO4, the first 5 to 10% of capacity is lost quickly (like a lot of batteries) and then the curve starts flattening...really really flat. So there's the potential to gain a lot on the tail end of that curve.

So take the 10% of capacity you're leaving behind for over/under-charge, add 20% to make it to the *advertised* cycle life, then add at least another 10% to gain cycles on the other side of "end of life." IOW, 40% over what you've computed that you need. The first 20% you should have already factored in(end of life capacity fade), but the extra 20% should gain you a lot more than 20% in battery life. Discharge rate also matters, if they're hammered too hard for long enough then internal heat will shorten their life - in certain cases this could mean sizing to the load rather than to the expected distance. Remember that time is a factor in battery life as well, so don't do the tail-end-extention math expecting them to last 20 years.

Batteries are fascinating and there's always seemed to be very little on them to find on the internet. Thanks for this take on LiFePO4 which are on some electrical bikes here in NL. I have a Giant bike myself with 'older' li ion tech and it suits me fine. Of course I want to know more about how to treat the batteries well etc. and which bike I'll trade my current one in for the next time round. I'd like to know if there is a tech site available or something dedicated to batteries like there are for other gadgets? Something that follows developments, reviews new products. Actually I haven't seen so much stuff on batteries as in this Drumbeat and I will be examining it carefully for any potential off grid system on my balcony too. Lucky I happen to be paying attention now that this is coming up for discussion. There are still at least 100 000 folks unfortunate enough to be without electricity in the NE up to today I believe.

Actually, I just got the balancing pcb's, their PCM *is* quite riduculous.


Since I wasn't running my 12Ah Pb cells dead, I wasn't worried about running the 20Ah Li cells dead either. A wrench across the terminals would make for some nice fireworks though, do have to keep it insulated well. The balance pcb keeps the charge from degrading them over time by wasting them all down to a known identical voltage after charging like a BMS/PCM does, but without the low-voltage cutoff.

I got one of these:


So I could monitor voltage visually if I happen to go downtown or someplace farther than my known 7mi=5Ah commute. I could also measure W/h with the thing, but I have been loath, as yet, to run heavy enough cable to get the thing where I can see it, and still not hamstring my motor with the voltage drop from the wire. My motor nominally pulls around 15A, so house wiring would dictate 14ga, but that's a bit light for my paranoid tastes, I've tried to do all my long runs on my bikes with #10. That little unit does come with a 2-ended pigtail, so you can just desolder the connectors and wire up whatever you want to it. I have yet to take it apart and see if it's really built to hande the 100A they say it's capable of. It's also nice to plug inline with your charger and see those numbers too. Be warned: my $16 model does have an offset of maybe 1A at open-circuit, so when the charge cycle is complete, it keeps counting. Still, the competitors are $75 for a $3 pcb, I couldn't bring myself to pony up on the good R/C plane models. You just have to keep the accuracy in mind.


"Since I wasn't running my 12Ah Pb cells dead, I wasn't worried about running the 20Ah Li cells dead either."

You could have gone with a 12Ah pack of Li (at the same voltage) and had more available energy, despite the same nameplate amount.


Let me know if you come up with a solution - I'd love to be able to charge my 36V 15ah LiFePo4 (PING) if the cost was reasonable...

My solution was solar for the house. Fred's right, small solar panels are riduculously priced. You could just get a standard rooftop panel and stash it around. Mine are each 235W, which is pretty standard, and I hear prices are supposed to be $1/W now, so I'd think you could get one in a group buy or online for maybe twice that? Like I said, the charge cycle for LiFePO4 is equivalent to Pb-acid (CC/CV), so if you can find a charger with an adjustable cutoff voltage (and that doesn't float charge), you should be good to go, I was chicken to try it with mine, but it should be doable.

"output voltage = factory set at 42.3 volts d.c. for charging a 36 volt
battery or batteries - can be adjusted from 36 to 45 volt d.c. using the
internal pot."

I don't know if Ping publishes the cutoff voltage for their packs or not, but I know Batteryspace does (they are more of an OEM supplier, but take CC's, so they have specs). Matter of fact, my 120VAC charger manual spec'd the cutoff voltage, just adjust Fred's charger for that voltage of yours, then either make sure it doesn't pump power at the battery after that voltage (i.e. using a current-shunt or clamp meter on a DVM), or by using the green led that I assume comes on at charge to drive a solid-state relay to disconnect the battery from the charger automatically. You gotta be a bit DIY to play in this pond, no? Seems to me, most oildrummers are pretty DIY self-reliant types, so we're in good company. I think the disconnect relay is the safest route (Li cells hold a charge for months, float just damages them), you're actually getting me interested to try it.

Oh, sorry, I see that charger is only 24V-in. Commodity panels usually put out more like 60V open-ckt, methinks, we'll have to look around some more...


Thanks for the info - even with the stupidly high electricity costs here in Denmark, it would still take me quite a while to recover my investment especially since I'm renting here and I get to charge my battery for "free" at the office... Will keep it in mind though when I move back to the States for good...

Wait, did anyone actually click the link? It's a motorcycle, not a bicycle, so the 87 mph is probably not a typo. Not only that, but it's dirt bike styled, with big knobby tires. Now I'm scratching my head. I'm not sure how compressed air would provide enough power for a heavier, higher speed application.

Yeah I did eventually click on the link... What an ugly web site! It's probably EITHER 87 mph (for a very short distance) OR 60 mile range (at much lower speed). Same tradeoff as you get in an electric vehicle. If the same design can offer both good speed and acceleration when needed and good range at low speeds then kudos for them. Still, if it was a bicycle (lightweight and pedal-assisted) it would go farther on a "tankfull". If it really cost $5 per refill with a maximum of 60 miles (and usually less) then that's as expensive as a small gasoline car. Presumably it would cost less than scuba shops charge, in part because the contents don't need to be pure like breathing oxygen needs to be.

That said, in the case of a battery (of an electric bicycle, let along a motorcycle) the energy and monetary cost of recharging it is small relative to the energy and monetary costs of the battery and charger. The NiMH battery for my e-bike cost about $400 and only lasts around 400 cycles, so it's $1 per use for the battery appreciation, as compared with a few pennies for the electricity (from the grid) to recharge it. Probably the same for the air equipment: if the air tank has a life limit of some years, for safety, and is expensive to replace...

If your area is mostly flat, and your commute not too long, a regular muscle-powered bicycle is easy enough to use, and not only much cheaper, but also good for your health. In my case it's 9 hilly miles in each direction, thus my choice to use an electrically assisted bicycle - but I still need to pedal.

The Oil Drum Drumbeat ran around recently with the cost of natural gas compression and scuba compression because they are both at about the same pressure. One revelation was that scuba shops actually operate at a loss when filling tanks for customers. The problem is the short lifetime and expensive rebuild costs for the compressors.


The 87mph figure was measured on a stand, i.e not whilst overcoming air and rolling resistance! Basically the max wheel rotational speed the thing can achieve.

The range will be strongly dependent on the speed and terrian, but likely to be just a few miles at 20-30 mph.

Smog in Indian capital blamed on vehicle increase

A choking smog that has enveloped New Delhi for more than a week has been partially caused by a rapid increase in vehicles on the streets of India's capital, environmentalists said Wednesday.

"Everyone is buying cars and motorbikes because the government is taking a long time to scale up its public transport system," Anurag Trivedi, a researcher at the Centre for Environment Studies, told AFP.

"The pollution is choking all of us," he said, adding that according to official figures more than 1,000 new vehicles hit the roads of Delhi each week.

Gotta keep feeding that Asian Brown Cloud, so the full impact of Global Warming isn't obvious...

E. Swanson

The 2008 report also addressed the global concern of warming and concluded that the brown clouds have masked 20 to 80 percent of greenhouse gas forcing in the past century. The report suggested that air pollution regulations can have large amplifying effects on global warming.

... damned if we do and damned if we don't

Looks like a mini version of the London Smog of 1952

I ordered a respirator, the ones they show in apocalyptic movies. Of course I use it when spray painting :)
But I have a pollution mask as well, always wear it when I am outdoors, people think I am crazy wearing that, I tell them to wait ten more years. I wouldn't look crazy at all.

I enjoy watching Formula-1 and the Airtel Indian Grand Prix coverage showed some pretty smoggy views. Is the air quality that bad?

Yes it is. You only get to see the sky for what it actually it is if you go out into the jungles or mountains.

Actually the deserts of Rajasthan are pretty starry at night from what I remember. That was in 1994 of course.

I remember that I could look directly in the sun in the Nepalese lowlands, all day long. There were huge amounts of dust in the air.


"Hey, I need my car to get out of town and away from all the smog."

Anyone else watching what's happening in Greece right now? CNBC has live video

Seems reminiscent of the 'Arab Spring' gatherings in Egypt's Tahrir Square

It doesn't really matter, now. Greece's Parliament voted for more austerity, and now everything is fine. Our turn next!


I think the true conflagration will come from Spain. The Greeks were the proverbial lamb. We, the French, are still so entitled, and cold-blooded. If anything, only the spanish can trigger it.

Greece Plans Revenue Tax for Solar Plants to Cut Deficit, Bloomberg, Marc Roca, Nov 7, 2012 7:11 AM MT

Greece is planning to approve a tax on existing solar power plants of 25 percent to 35 percent of revenue to reduce a deficit related to clean energy.

Greece could descend into civil war - expert, Russia Today, 08 November, 2012, 07:33:

Greece risks sliding into a civil war, unless officials in Athens follow Iceland’s example and default on the country's loans, journalist Charlie McGrath told RT.

Greece continues collapsing.

Greece continues collapsing.

IMHO, Greece is just like the proverbial canary in the coal mine. Under the current BAU paradigm it is simply one of the weakest and most susceptible states. It is state well into the throes of systemic financial collapse.

This should come as no surprise to anyone, especially considering the simple fact that a system that is unsustainable by definition, will at some point stop being sustained.

BTW, just as a reminder, the role of the canary in the coal mine is to serve as a warning that the air has become unbreathable and it is time to exit the mine as quickly as possible.

The canary, like BAU, is dead folks! Sort of like the parrot in this Monty Python skit:

Unemployment for those under 25 in Greece hit 58%. Overall their UE rate is 25.4%, second to Spain's 25.5%. And rising!

I don't see how they can avoid some sort of unrest. That is the same demographic that fueled the "Arab Spring" events.

Maybe a "Mediterranean Winter" lies ahead?


I think the thing to take away from what's happening in Greece and Spain is that in an attempt to save its progress to date, the System is willing to abandon the population to its fate. And as the systemic crisis draws ever inwards towards the centre, we will all share the same fate. Greece is our future too, because they're not in a different system, we're all interconnected in the same system.

We should really be studying Greece for lessons in what we face and how to adapt to it.

And as the systemic crisis draws ever inwards towards the centre, we will all share the same fate. Greece is our future too, because they're not in a different system, we're all interconnected in the same system.

Yep, that's what I keep trying to tell my family who live in Germany but they think I'm nuts... Oh, well!

To be fair there are many things happening in Germany that indicate they are at least somewhat aware of the coming storm and are attempting to engender societal paradigm change. They are, if nothing else, due tremendous credit for their implementation of alternative energy.

But change is deeply resisted by the vast majority.

People who manage to intervene in systems at the level of paradigm hit a leverage
point that totally transforms systems.
You could say paradigms are harder to change than anything else about a system,
and therefore this item should be lowest on the list, not the highest. But there's
nothing physical or expensive or even slow about paradigm change. In a single
individual it can happen in a millisecond. All it takes is a click in the mind, a new
way of seeing. Of course individuals and societies do resist challenges to their
paradigm harder than they resist any other kind of change.

Places to Intervene in a System
By Donella H. Meadows

Edit: Case in point!


Exclusive: Worried Germany seeks study on French economy - sources

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has asked a panel of advisers to look into reform proposals for France, concerned that weakness in the euro zone's second largest economy could come back to haunt Germany and the broader currency bloc.

Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters this week that Schaeuble asked the council of economic advisers to the German government, known as the "wise men", to consider drafting a report on what France should do.

Schaeuble's request denotes growing concern in Berlin and among private economists over the health of the French economy, which is set to miss a European Union goal for reducing its public deficit next year.

One has to wonder if the German Finance Minister assumes that Greek style austerity measures will work in Paris or in Berlin for that matter.

Civil war is not very likely, at least I hope not.

I too find it unlikely. Should it come to that, most enrolled in the greek army would display their true lojalities, and go home to their families. A more likely outcome is general collapse and the tribal society that follows. I also don't think that is as likely as that the EU send in troops to take controll of the situation, should it go that bad.

Microsoft Applies For Patent on Technology to Count Users Watching Streamed Content

... In its patent application, Microsoft envisions a scenario whereby consumers would be required to have a Kinect-like device attached to their viewing system in order to purchase content. The system could then be used to monitor the people that are in the room watching the content as it is streamed. Doing so would allow content providers to charge by the person, or to limit the number allowed to view what is being offered. Also, by identifying consumers, the system could also prevent those that have already seen the content from watching it more than the number of times that have been paid for and of course access could be restricted based on ratings and the estimated ages of those in attendance.

Telescreens are most prominently featured in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. ... In the society that Orwell describes, everyone is under complete surveillance by the authorities, mainly by telescreens. The people are constantly reminded of this by the phrase "Big Brother is watching you", which is the core "truth" of the propaganda system in this state.

Telescreens, in addition to being surveillance devices, are also the equivalent of televisions (hence the name), regularly broadcasting false news reports about Oceania's military victories, economic production figures, spirited renditions of the national anthem to heighten patriotism, and Two Minutes Hate, which is a two-minute film of Emmanuel Goldstein's wishes for freedom of speech and press, which the citizens have been trained to disagree with. Much of the telescreen programs are given in Newspeak. [... sounds like Faux News]

Still 'Paranoid' After All These Years

(CNN) -- Ever have the feeling you're being lied to by the news media, the authorities, the corporate world? That somebody -- or something -- is out to get you?

You're not alone.

Welcome to 21st-century America.

Look around. Trust is hitting historic lows. Just a third of Americans have a favorable view of the federal government, a decline of 31% since 2002, according to the Pew Center for People and the Press. Gallup has Congress' approval rating is in the low 20s, after nearing single digits last summer. And the news media aren't much better off.

"Negative opinions about the performance of news organizations now equal or surpass all-time highs on nine of 12 core measures the Pew Research Center has been tracking since 1985," a Pew report said.

"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." -- Anais Nin

Harris Corporation Wireless Surveillance Products Standard Terms and Conditions of Sale contract signed with Tempe, Arizona Oct 8,2012

Mr. Hand: Sleep, now.

Access to the media is necessary for mass propaganda to be effective (as is universal education). Making people pay for general access to the media is really a no no, putting profit above the means of controlling the populace. Therefore despite the corporations best efforts, what ever they do that blocks universal access will be undermined. Some may pay to have their opinions manufactured for them, for the rest, the same service will be provided for free.

Surveillance also is too important to allow the profit motive to get in the way of its implementation. It will be subsidised in some way to ensure it reaches all of the population, whether they can afford it or not (or want it or not).

What is this Television thing my friends keep talking about?

Be careful what you ask for: Puerto Rico wants to become the 51st state of the US

Voters in Puerto Rico have supported a non-binding referendum to become a full US state.

The measure will require approval from the US Congress, but President Barack Obama has said he will respect the vote.

The addition of Puerto Rico as a State with 2 likely progressive Senators will be another factor in finally moving the US past the Reagan rightwing reaction along with the demographic changes which eked out a victory for neoliberal Obama and just about every contested US Senate race. We are on the cusp of major political upheavals similar to the 1850's rise of the new Republican party. My bet is the Greens will rise, the Republican party is doomed to die like the Whigs in 1860 and the fossils Republicans love to burn.

Obama says he will support their democratic decision.

If voted in, 2 Senators, 5 US Representatives, 7 electoral votes. Likely all D.

If House votes "NO", they #$%$ off Hispanics even more. See 2014 & 2016 & ... as their numbers grow.

If House votes "Yes", D majority gets closer to a super majority in Senate, House gets much closer to 50:50 split and the 2016 R nominee has to win one more state to win the election.

Rock ------- House Republicans ------ Hard Place



PS: For our international readers, there is an American (Canadian, British, etc.) saying "So and so is between a rock and a hard place when they are in a difficult position with no easy or good solution.

What benefit is there to the average American in admitting Puerto Rico as a state?

In Canada, we've had a few politicians over the years promote the idea of a union with the Turks and Caicos islands. While some Canadians are attracted to the idea of having a warm, sunny place down south as part of Canada, the politicians who actually have the ability to make things happen would appear to see it as a liability. It's not a wealthy country so there would certainly be a financial cost to a union.

There isn't a benefit. The US already spends 3.5 times as much on Puerto Rico as it takes in taxes. If Puerto Rico became a state, it would have to start paying federal income taxes. However, since Puerto Rico is far poorer than any of the 50 states, the additional revenue would be low.

Moreover, Puerto Rico does not receive Medicare and Medicaid funding at the same rate as states do. If admitted, Puerto Rico would get a huge increase in federal health care spending. Admitting Puerto Rico would almost certainly widen the revenue/spending gap.

"What benefit is there to the average American ..."

Wrong question, it should be What benefit is there to the American politicians who would approve this

Really it is time to bring Democracy to Washington, DC and also the US territories still ruled as outposts of Colonialism. As Democracy finally sweeps the Arab Spring, it is long past time to either free all US territories or make them US States.
Washington DC statehood would bring another 2 progressive Senators.
Any political strategist would see this is long past due in any event.

Any political strategist would see this is long past due in any event.

We only have partisan political strategists, and this will be looked at solely from the standpoint of helps/hurts my parties chances. One of the parties will object in the most strenuous possible terms.

Interesting times, indeed.

PR's congressmen would be Democrats; they would not be progressives. They would favor more spending on the poor, but also more spending on the military. Puerto Ricans also tend to be socially conservative and take a very dim view of feminism, gay rights, etc.

Again not sure about that.

Our New Jersey Senator just overwhelmingly re-elected is Bob Menendez who has
consistently voted against Wars and increased military spending. Anyone who knows anything about helping the poor, lower income or working class knows that a dollar spent on bombs is not spent on helping everyone else.

As an unabashed progressive/ Green I will be glad to take my chances on that...

And theres a rah rah patriotic factor that probably makes it real hard to say no.


Now the flag manufacturing industry can boom while the 50 star flag becomes a collector's item.

An example of a notional U.S. flag with 51 stars:


Wikipedia article on various possibilities to add states to the U.S>:


I kinda like the idea of adding Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and a federation of American Pacific territories including Guam.

The flag would then have 53 stars, making our nation truly indivisible...a Prime idea!

"Voters in Puerto Rico have supported a non-binding referendum to become a full US state."

Sort of. There were three options. The two non-state options together outnumbered the state option.

The winner of the Governor's race (or equivalent) has sensibly said we need to hash out exactly what we want and then have another referendum. There is interest in being a state, but it's not overwhelming.

But it does look like the pro-independence party is way in the minority.

ATA paper: Driver shortage could 'explode'

Long-term trends may cause a significant increase in the driver shortage in the next decade, according to a new analysis paper from the American Trucking Assns. (ATA). The paper states that the “current shortage is acute and limited primarily to the truckload sector of the industry; but that long-term trends could cause the shortage to explode in the next decade.”

The current shortage is on a base of roughly 750,000 trucks in the over the-road (i.e., non-local) truckload [TL] market, so the 20,000 to 25,000 shortage is significant.

... “On average, trucking will need to recruit nearly 100,000 new drivers every year to keep up with demand for drivers,” Costello said, “with nearly two-thirds of the need coming from industry growth and retirements.”

and Driver Shortage Boosting Dedicated U.S. Trucking Business

Long distance truck driving jobs will decline with the Crescent Corridor project slated to take 1 million trucks off the road and put their freight on Rails and similar projects.


US Railroads are freight-oriented and making good profits which is why Warren Buffet bought a Railroad. There are a lot of freight rail investments:


In recent years, freight railroads have spent approximately $12 billion per year on their tracks, signals, and other infrastructure, and another $9 billion on locomotives, freight cars, and other equipment. All told, from 1980 through 2010 they’ve reinvested $480 billion—more than 40 cents of every revenue dollar—to maintain and modernize the national freight rail network.

There will certainly be a need for medium short haul truck drivers. But even that
will probably decline as there is a lot more potential for freight rail even there.
It would be unwise to expect truck driving to be an expanding profession in the age of Peak Oil and Climate Change.

But at the moment there is a shortage of drivers for the truck driving jobs that still exist. I am curious why. Perhaps the trucking companies, being squeezed by high fuel costs, are trying to pay the drivers so little that those jobs are unattractive? After all, these jobs are stressful, keep one away from home for many days in a stretch, etc. Want drivers? Pay enough! What an un-American concept. Same for the claims that "we can't find Americans willing to take the ag jobs, thus we NEED those illegal immigrants".

Desperately seeking workers in the oil patch

Employment in Williams County (home to Williston, a bustling oilfield hub) and Mountrail County more than doubled between 2004 and 2011, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment growth in six Bakken counties with either major oil production or oilfield service centers far outstripped average growth in North Dakota—a state which led the country in job gains.

... Transportation employment has increased too. Together, Williams County and Stark County, North Dakota gained over 700 trucking jobs from 2010 to 2011, an increase of 58 percent.

... The oil patch is a black hole for labor, sucking in workers from near and far. The Bakken’s gravitational pull is strongest in adjacent areas such as western Montana, Wyoming, eastern North Dakota and Minnesota, but its influence extends across the continent and overseas.

And, nearby in Canada...

Energy sector grapples with acute labour shortages

Any legitimate job offering $80,000-plus as a starting salary should be an easy sell to students in these troubled economic times, right? Wrong.

“Even in Alberta there is a poor connection in the K-12 education system to find balanced information about the oil and gas industry,” says Cheryl Knight, executive director and chief executive of the Petroleum HR Council of Canada. “The environmental messaging is much more attractive and probably easier to make interesting for students everywhere. It is a key problem that our industry faces, even just outside my door.”

The Calgary-based organization, partly funded by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program and supported by prominent bodies such as the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, says this is just one of a number of challenges facing the energy industry.

Like other sectors of the economy, labour shortages in the energy sector are acute and could disrupt the industry’s ambitious plans to ramp up oil and gas production.

CAPP forecasts the country’s crude output to rise from three million barrels per day in 2011 to 6.2 million bpd by 2030, led by the oil sands, which are set to triple production to five million bpd by that period.

"..to find balanced information about the oil and gas industry,"

Aye, there's the rub!

Kids these days, more worried about the environment than shiny, fat jobs! It's like trying to give (unlabeled and overlibelled) corn seed to a bunch of starving African farmers. Wassa matter! Take it, it's almost like food! You can hardly tell the difference! When you need to plant more, we'll bring some more, at a very reasonable fee!

A lot of truck drivers are owner operators. They are paid by the load, and they must own, maintain, fuel and insure their own trucks. And very few of them advise their kids to follow in their footsteps. It's a job full of economic risk, it's unhealthy, isolating, depressing, and redolent of degradation. Just once making eye contact with a prostitute in a truck stop is enough to make you never want to take up trucking.

Sounds like farming ;-)

You have prostitutes in your field, too?

I believe they are mostly in the corn fields, though a lot of them are really just a bunch of pigs with lipstick... >;-)

Rethink ways to tackle food, water, energy security: Nestle chief

New Delhi : Nestle's global chief Peter Brabeck has called for a radical rethink on how governments are addressing the triple challenges of food, energy and water security, warning of imminent crises if left unaddressed.

The fallout can be an acute global food shortage at high prices, water riots and severe environment degradation, Brabeck feared, as he exclusively spoke to IANS during a visit here for Nestle's global conclave on "Creating Shared Value".

"During the last 10 years, productivity in agriculture has not kept pace with population growth -- every second, we have two more people to feed, while arable land is shrinking by 0.2 hectares," said the chairman on the Nestle board.

Switzerland-based Brabeck, also said water must be priced adequately, and warned that this life-giving resource will be adequately available only for 15 years if wastage continues.


Iraq struggles to sign up oil buyers for 2013 term deals

Iraq is struggling to find buyers for all its 2013 oil output on term contracts, industry sources said, as foreign refiners complain of high prices and variable quality from the world's fastest growing crude exporter.

"Iraq was hoping to sell larger volumes but I don't think they've succeeded yet," said an industry source with a buyer of Iraqi crude, who declined to be identified because the talks are commercially sensitive.

"A lot of the big oil companies asked for less, if anything. I think the Iraqis have to get a grip on the quality and get a grip on the prices to reflect that."

... The quality of Iraq's Basra and Kirkuk crudes has been variable due to the erratic flow of Kurdistan oil into the Kirkuk stream and the start-up of new fields in the south.

Changes in the crude's sulphur content and API gravity - a measure of its weight - affect its value and can cause processing problems for refineries configured for a certain gravity and sulphur level.

Brazil lower house passes oil royalty bill, clouds rights-sale outlook

Brazil's lower house of Congress passed a controversial oil and gas royalty bill on Tuesday, setting up a possible confrontation with President Dilma Rousseff who may veto the measures, stalling efforts to sell new petroleum exploration rights

The bill, already passed by the Senate and which lower house lawmakers approved by 286 to 124, raises royalties on future offshore oil development in the country's most promising "subsalt" region.

It also aims to divide oil royalties more equally for existing and future oil fields among the country's 27 states and more than 5,000 municipalities by slashing payments to the biggest producing states and municipalities that now receive the lion's share of royalty revenue.

... Without a clear oil royalty bill, no new auctions of exploration rights are likely and court challenges to existing contracts could reduce interest in any new auctions


"For example, to produce those 10 billion gallons of biofuel, you'd need about 33 billion gallons of water," Cuello said. “That is a huge concern."

China, less impact by CO2 may explain slowing in warming

This article says that particulates in the air reflect sunlight into space, and so cool the Earth. It also says that particulates land on the ground, where they absorb sunlight, and so warm the Earth.

How does the same thing both reflect sunlight and absorb it?

"reflect" is a poor choice of words. Absorb and radiate would be more accurate in both cases. In the air about half would go back into space, on the ground not so much.

That makes sense. Thanks.

JP - Just a geologist making a guess about physics but any material that can reflect light will also absorb a certain amount of energy. I imagine someone out there knows the ratio for various substances. I suspect the significant effect would be from particles very high in the atmosphere that would reflect more energy than would be transferred to the air. OTOH what photons make it thru the atmosphere without hitting a particle eventually hit the earth's surface which reflects a portion and converts another portion to heat.


Seems to me it's affecting the yellow arrow in this diagram, notably the 77 and the 168. I guess on the ground it changes the albedo of the surface, being coal-soot. Don't know the mechanism of reflection in the sky, though, maybe it's more like it's casting a shadow on the ground at some microscopic level, but the energy absorbed is so high in the atmosphere that it escapes into space easily instead of heating said atmosphere?


Ah, wiki to the rescue:



There is both the direct and indirect aerosol effect. The direct effect is "dry" particulates which scatter absorb and reradiate. I do want to note that very small particles work more by diffusion, than by directly intercepting a photon, diffraction is strictly scattering. The indirect effect is the condensation of water/ice on the particles, creating clouds/fog, or because the number of cloud droplets is increased (all other things being the same) by increasing the density of condensation nuclei. Clouds with larger numbers of condensation nuclei are denser and more reflective. It is also harder for the droplets to combine and precipitate out (rain/snow).

Coal Stocks Shudder at Obama’s Victory

A cold post-election wind blew through the nation’s coal fields Wednesday.

Investors wasted no time running from what had been a nice little three-month rally in coal stocks ahead of the 2012 presidential election. So, with Romney out and Obama back in, investors who’d been betting on coal headed for the exit.

Peabody Energy Corp. down 9%; Alpha Natural Resources Inc. down 10%; Arch Coal Inc. down 11%, and James River Coal Co. down 25%.

... reminds me of the 'long faces' at the end of the movie 'Manchurian Candidate'

Realistically, given extraordinarily low natural gas prices (and the widespread perception that there is a long term supply of natural gas available), one wonders what difference it would have made.

Nuclear Watchdog Admits Additional Errors In Radiation Forecast Maps

Japan's new nuclear industry watchdog acknowledged additional errors in its maps for the expected spread of radioactive substances from a serious nuclear accident, further exasperating local governments that must draw up evacuation plans.

... The commission will correct its estimates, first released in late October, for the third time. The corrected version will be released Thursday.

The NRA secretariat said the directions in which radioactive materials are expected to spread from the two nuclear plants were 180 degrees off in the opposite direction.

The NRA, established in September to replace the now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, created the maps to show where radiation would spread from the nation’s 16 nuclear power plants if they were hit by an accident as large as the one at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant last year.

and NRA To Fix Radiation Spread Estimates Again

also Japan's nuclear dilemma: What to do with all that nuclear waste?

Japanese citizens are balking at the lack of information and supervision of waste stored in public places, such as playgrounds.

... Takemoto learned about the plan to bury the waste from a neighbor. When he called city hall to request a public meeting explaining the plans, he was turned down. But by filing freedom-of-information requests, he learned that at least 20 similar pits exist at parks and other public spaces in the city. He believes local officials are breaking the law by failing to inform residents and ensure the sites are properly monitored.

Last year's meltdowns exposed a culture of government secrecy surrounding the nuclear industry that allowed lax safety rules and poor oversight. Yet while the government has taken some steps toward transparency, it faces significant pressure to meet the country's energy needs. Koriyama's case illustrates that much related to nuclear power – and its very powerful business interests – remains hidden from an increasingly distrustful public.

and Tepco seeks more aid as Fukushima clean-up costs rise

The total clean-up costs and claims were initially estimated to be around 5tn yen.

When contacted by the BBC, the company did not disclose how much it expected the costs to increase. However, according to some reports they are projected to double to 10tn yen ($125bn; £78bn).

180 degrees off

Thank you, thank you: finally, an explanation...


"A few years ago I was in Los Angeles debating a senior engineer from the Bechtel Corporation. They had been asked to remedy the fact that the two billion dollar nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon was installed backwards by accident. The containment annulus, containing all the sensitive emergency core cooling systems, was installed 180 degrees backwards, forcing the NRC to temporarily halt construction. The nuclear industry became the laughing stock of the world.

The 500 ton reactor vessel at San Onofre, south of LA, was also installed backwards, and this time the engineers simply put in the control rods and fuel rods backwards, and changed the computer program to operate a backwards reactor. Well, this senior engineer's face was getting redder and redder. Finally he pounded his fist into the table and said, as loud as he could, "Da^^^^it! Sure we put in Diablo Canyon backwards. Sure, we put in San Onofre backwards. BUT THOSE ARE THE BEST DA^^N REACTORS THAT WE HAVE EVER BUILT!""

...perhaps the idea is to make the plumes go the other way...

I thought the big problem at Diablo Canyon was the result of pipe supports being installed incorrectly causing problems for earthquake support. They actually installed the reactor "backwards"? What does that mean, given the fact that they had another one to check it against? That rant reminds me of Dr. John Golfman, a co-discoverer of plutonium, who became strongly anti-nuke. I met him back in the days when I worked on the Cal Nuke Safegard campaign...

E. Swanson

Living around there, I heard some and read other versions that had the second unit 180 out. It was supposed to be in a relation to the first that was convenient for the plumbing... but in reviewing the story today, many things can be found claimed as "reversed"... and a category of it, larger than just supports, sounds like what I remember reading and hearing in the local area. But, by the time the fifth person in a chain is relating a story, especially a story with repercussions and sensation...

Here is official mention of the backwards vessel at San Onofre:
Report To The Congress
"In April 1977 a 420-ton nuclear reactor vessel was installed
in Southern California Edison's San Onofre plant. It
was not until the following November that construction workers
discovered the vessel had been installed backwards."

For Diablo, many stories:

Review of Policy Research
"... industry problems, such as the need to redo much of the work at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power
plant because blueprints were read backwards,"

Here is the earthquake structural support version with the blueprints that were supposed to be reversed for the other unit but were not:
"Blueprints for Diablo Canyon that were supposed to provide structural reinforcement in the event of earthquakes were found to have major errors. In 1981, PG&E discovered that only one set of plans was used in the construction of both reactors, meaning that where workers were supposed to have switched the design off in the second reactor, they failed to do so. This resulted a “backwards” configuration, and needless reinforcement of certain areas where others were left unfortified."

And then there is the pipe support version, too.

Another common reactor design flaw was placement of the turbines without consideration of the impact zone of low-trajectory "turbine missles" during catastrophic failure. The fix was to move critical systems out of the danger zone when possible, reinforce them otherwise, and add extra redundancy to the overspeed safety cutoffs,

I have just read the most absurd article I have read in years, in Forbes no less. We are going to be producing so much oil that OPEC will become helpless to keep prices up and will have to produce more to keep their income up.

Obama Ground Zero: Why Cheap American Energy Is The Death Of American Power

Conventional wisdom tells us that America can reinvent itself as an energy giant, vastly reduce its deficit, stimulate its economy, and pick and choose how far it underwrites global hydrocarbon security.
Superpower status has been extended for another hundred years (or more) in what’s been coined the ‘New American Century’…

If America forges ahead to become the world’s largest oil producer in the next five years, mirroring what’s already happened in natural gas, OPEC will have little option but give up on price, and go for enhanced volume instead. In a new world of cheap energy abundance, the only real winner is China, hands down.

Now all this is very good right? No, it's really bad.

Production is still fractionally below Saudi Arabia, but few doubt that under ‘business as usual’ American production will leap towards 13-15 million barrels a day over the next five years. Uncle Sam reclaims its mantle as the largest energy producer in the world. Balance of payments improve, the deficit is fixed, oil flows North to South across the Americas, never East to West across the Atlantic. America is back. And it’s big.

Woah, now that still sounds really great. But I have copied and pasted about as much of this article as I dare. If you wish to see why all this is really bad for America you will have to read the whole article. It is two pages long so it will take a while. But here is a hint, it will all be caused by the very cheap energy prices the coming oil and natural gas glut will cause. And the glut will be caused by cheap U.S. production. Dirt cheap energy prices will cause regimes around the world to fall.

Ron P.

What is wrong with these idiots? Can they not do simple arithmetic? Do they not understand basic physics? I just don't know what to say. But people will swallow this nonsense, hook, line and sinker. Believe me - I know many who already have. People you might otherwise call "smart". They are content with these lullabies, because the alternative is a bit, well, terrifying to them. Oh well.

That's my motto these days... oh well.

Can they not do simple arithmetic? Do they not understand basic physics?

I'm certainly no mathematician or physicist yet it never ceases to amaze me that highly intelligent people somehow have absolutely no concept whatsoever with regards basic high school level science and math.

It's almost as if to them it were an evil alien language from some distant galaxy in a parallel universe. These people are certainly not stupid or generally ignorant, yet at some point early in their formative years they must have had some violent and traumatic immune response to their being exposed to science and math that caused them to forever after shut down all their faculties for rational thought.

Even If they are presented with hard incontrovertible data and asked to just do the math they usually have a violent allergic reaction and go into a sort of intellectual anaphylactic shock.

I'm afraid there is no cure for this condition and I don't think anyone has so far figured out a way to inoculate these people with a vaccine against the toxic memes which are the basis of their delusional wishful thinking !

When confronted with these people on a daily basis I sometimes feel like I'm an outcast in a lepers colony because I have been extremely unfortunate to be the only one there who doesn't have leprosy.


Same here, but, what I have found does seem to have an effect is any play on those old words you and I most other people were inoculated with from childhood--evil, sin, bad, work of the devil, and so on.

I admit a somewhat devilish glee when I see my non-numeric friends (lots of them with advanced degrees) squirm inside out in attempting to retort when I casually mention, as if it were an indisputable fact known to all worthy citizens, that burning fossil fuels is a sin.

What a despicable tactic, wimbi, unworthy of any rational member of this little gang of numbervores-- ya oughta be ashamed of yourself.

The phrase that has been thrown out regrading the extraordinary spectacle of an army of non quantitative journalists versus Nate Silver who called to election results with outstanding accuracy, gives us a new term of derision for such sorts "non quantitative journalism". Its basically just a bunch of people making up stories to fit around facts. Not very likely to get the strength of various effects right. This is the energy version of that.

I suspected that faced with the end of cheap fossil fuels that the industrial nations would never try to realistically deal with the problem. I was braced for the same basic reaction from our culture that climate change and the die off of the worlds species get; lip service of possible future changes but no meaningful results. What I did not see coming was the extent that our media would go completely and totally delusional in response to the end of cheap oil.

Everyone on this list but a few people seem to think that we will muddle through; that a ponzi scheme can last forever because "they" can print money. Yet the influential economists who advise corporate/government officials, and who are counted on to lead the great muddle, are proving to be nothing more than temple priests like those of past failed civilizations. The more the worlds resource base erodes the more fervent the incantations of the priests will become, but to no avail while critical time is wasted. It has become clear that industrial civilization will not deal with the problems it faces because the solutions are unacceptable. The only hope I see for humanity moving forward is a sudden and complete crash of the worlds financial and economic systems so severe that industrial civilization grinds to a halt; capitol creation being so impaired so that expensive energy is never produced.

The failure of developed nations to respond to resource depletion, climate change, ecosystem collapse and human over population make the collapse of the industrial ponzi scheme ever more likely. Best wishes for an inhabitable planet for humans in the future.

No problem. The challenge is just to be part of these future inhabitants of our planet. Just be as dumb as the dumbest of your neighbors and you'll do fine. Don't ask, just follow, and sometimes be as smart as you can. Yeah, a bit cynical tonight.

What I did not see coming was the extent that our media would go completely and totally delusional in response to the end of cheap oil.

I queried a few of my conservative friends as to what their take is on how long the economy could be tricked along. They all seem to think that it can be maintained as long as 20 to 25 years, so long as the media goes along with the b.s. And, their POV was that the media is doing just that. They're fine with it, too. Never mind what happens in 20 to 25 years - there is a buck to be made today and in the mean time.

I don't know if I want them to be correct or not... except for my conviction that the sooner the crash happens the easier the landing will be. It is like watching a drug addict who, knowing that the next crash will be worse than the last one, goes ahead with this fix anyway.

"Oh, well" pretty much captures the moment for me as well.


It's a bit like telling the other impala that you're improving your pace, and the Lion is catching up.. and they just piffle, 'Oh, We'll keep tossing the countermeasures behind us.. we're fine!' .. not noticing that their supply of carpet tacks is showing the 'did you remember to reorder?' flag at the bottom of the box.

Trouble is money is just a paper derivative with a claim on real wealth, and printing money doesn't create wealth. It just increases the number of claims against the real wealth being generated by the economy. So real wealth production must match the rate money is being printed for money to hold its value. Since the seventies this problem has been overcome IMO by producing faux wealth (services, digital economy, etc.) and has allowed money to be printed without the immediate destructive consequences of hyperinflation. And we are 30 to 40 years into this paradigm already, so can it last another 20 to 25 years?

I believe that when actually having access to real wealth becomes a survival issue the system will fail. Resource constraints or simple failure due to internal dynamics would be my bet for the sudden realisation that ends the ponzi scheme. When you need something and your money no longer can get it for you, panic and chaos ensues. I wonder how many people in NY will rather they had spare fuel in their tank rather than spare money in their pocket? But as that is a temporary situation it will have little effect over time, if it was permanent however, then the story would be very different.

If these articles still shock you then take that as a sign that you need to recalibrate your understanding of people. This is just part of the mental gymnastics society will use to rationalize and justify not changing anything. Because in fact the kind of changes needed will probably not be possible without societal collapse and all the attendant horrors and consequences, and while people by and large won't even think about that they instinctively don't want to face it.

Our conversations here about what will happen are getting pretty long, and yet we keep asking how people will react - they are reacting and this is how.

This is correct. As reality become more and more undeniable, denialists need to deny more and more to keep up. The world has been cooling since 1998 and that.

Exuberance on the rising edge of a bubble.

...American production will leap towards 13-15 million barrels a day over the next five years.

Reminiscient of the overly optimistic projections of Iraq oil hitting 12 mbd that came out a few years ago. There must be some kneejerk brain warp that occurs whenever people try to project maximums/peaks.

Hi all,

I've been following TOD for years but the quality, ferocity and frequency with which answers are being proffered recently has pushed me so far as to register today. I have an MA Econ so that formal training has always been pretty useless except insofar as you know that ideology and how to pick holes in it.

But I have questions and I've been a bit lazy to figure them out myself, even though these things have been discussed here and I may have already seen that and forgotten some of the answers.

Because I am kind of fed up with the direction and philosophy of the local TT chapter, I want to pose a scenario and invite answers. Just to remind you, I do 'know' many of you and how I should value your opinion. But then again I forget things easy and I have a poor education from which to base my opinions.

My question is:

Is it feasible to put all efforts into going solar and wind and driving EVs and would that be sustainable? I mean, we should have enough oil in the ground to realise this. I am personally grappling with the environmental impact of such a "policy", the resource implications (lithium, iron ore, oil, coal, silicon), agricultural implications, geopolitical implications (Desertec was mentioned yesterday as part of Germany's long term electrical power strategy), and what are the lifetimes/maintenance implications of wind and solar installations in the sea, the desert etc etc.

Thanks for any observations that may or may not already have occurred to me.

I mean in the not so distant future (100 years) I think we're doomed and the carrying capacity of the earth will be reduced and obviously other things have to happen to achieve some kind of not too disruptive route to some kind of equilibrium in the mean time, population control etc.

I realise this is a pretty open-ended and unqualified question, but any observations are welcome. I've been told by people that spending 400 billion (or maybe a lot more now, and these things always cost double don't they?) on Desertec in Europe would alleviate all energy concerns, and by members of the TT movement who promote everyone owning an EV. I mean you might be able to run these cars on that kind of investment, but you'd still have to build them wouldn't you? How many EVs could be sustained in Europe compared to how many cars and trucks and tractors drive around now?

Energy return of PV is 5-10 in 20 years, and for onshore wind very good with more than 35, therefore, from a EROEI point of view these alternatives are very good.

For Si production you do not need oil, the chemistry works fine with coal. Wind mills contain only a very small amount of resin, so no bottelneck there.

From Germany: subsidies etc.

nuclear 180 billion EUR, maximum annual production 30% of German electricity

coal >400 billion EUR, maximum annual production ~60% of German electricity

reneables 250-300 billions until 2030, at least 45% of German electricity then.

So providing 250 billion for the Energiewende (in 4 decades!) and a part of the 400 billion for a project like Desertec that makes money is not that ambitious IMHO. BTW everbody who wants to copy this starts with much better conditions (low price for PV and wind and ideas what went wrong in Germany.

Re cars vs. EVs

Keep in mind that 2/3 of the energy in current combustion engines is simply wasted. Therefore, of the 600 TWh energy that is used as fuel in Germany per year less than 200 TWh are actually converted into the desired product mechanical energy. With moderate reduction of car use (more public transport) and improvements in vehicle construction (weight reduction etc.) it is reasonabel to assume that these 200 TWh could be replaced with 100 TWh electricity.


35% of Germany's primary energy (1200 TWh of 3600 TWh, ~1000 TWh final energy) is used to heat buildings and provide hot water. Better isolation of buildings to CURRENT madatory level (15 kWh/m^2 to 5 15 kWh/m^2) and the use of heat pumps can reduce this to less than 100 TWh. With passivhouse level we would reach 50 TWh.

Educated guess aka "conclusion" :-)

So we can replace the 3200 TWh of Germany's primary energy demand, that is actually converted into final energy (~2500 TWh), with 700 TWh electricity, the remaining 400 TWh of primary energy that is used non-energetically can be substituted with biomass. This would be the framework in which one has to discuss the German Energiewende.

Thanks for your comments Ulenspiegel ;)

The reason I like this site is that not only do the engineers understand the short term market dynamics more completely than I do, they can also give me back of the envelope answers to some longer term visionary stuff.

However, the only thing you mention is a moderate reduction in car use, do you think we're talking about halving the amount of cars on the road? I guess the tractors will have to stay diesel whatever happens so they can run continuously at planting and harvest. Or do you see oxen used in the future and more pasture-based farming of animals for meat and less dependence on grain/soy staples?

And Desertec is most viable when a cost benefit is done of the geopolitical and technical constraints? Apparently transporting electricity 3000 to 5000 kms does not cost much when using direct current?

And how realistic is it that EVs come down in weight by 30 per cent lets say? It's always fascinating watching technical change happen, certainly regarding computers and phones, but how realistic is better battery technology and how much does a larger market for the current technology help to stimulate better and sustainable new technology? What does it cost to recycle the average car battery after 10 years (I'm guessing).

Of course my acquaintance is probably correct to suggest that at the margin he can best buy an EV today and "improve the environment, reduce oil consumption and increase local resilience" which is what TT is all about. That last bit being very important, it's hard to see how you can achieve much complex technology without relying on very finicky gobs of international capital on a local scale with local control.

Obviously a lot has to happen and will inevitably happen in the near future whatever we consciously plan for as individuals or political units ;)

Agriculture only consumes a small percentage of our fuel, so this should not be the problem. In contrast, 1/3 of our car milage is caused by recreational activities, most cars I see during rush hours transport only one person, many people use a car instead of an available alternative like bicycle, bus, tram (i.e. fuel is still not expensive enough), many companies offer a 24h delivery service, which is usually not very energy efficient ....

The weight of cars and the engine power increased the last decades, here we could scale back and gain a lot. One friend, who usually drives a lot in the city, switched to a Prius and saved 30%. For me 50% reduction even with ICEs seems possible.

I live in a city with a good public transport system (tramway) and have no own car, in summer I usually use the bicyle. The most important decision was -as my wife and me work in the city- not to build a house in a village far from our offices, but in downtown, so no first or even second car necessary to commute the 4 miles, no shuttle service needed for the kids who are happy with tramways and busses.

Here in the Netherlands I believe most employees and self-employed get a transport budget/tax cuts based on how many kilometers they have to travel to work.

Of course the youth who generally have McJobs don't travel 100 kms away, but most of those oh so important office workers we have do and get it largely reimbursed. Sad.

We have the same in Germany and Austria, however, as you usually do not get all your expenses back (unless you cheat by car pooling) the economic pressure increases, especially when in cities you do not get a free parking lot and your employer pays a part of the tramway ticket. :-)

The good part is that you can also get that if you're cycling. Before I moved, I got 5 euro for cycling to work each day. Now, I am below the cutoff-distance (10km) and I get nothing :-(

The weight of cars and the engine power increased the last decades, here we could scale back and gain a lot.

Ulenspiegel, you hit the nail on the head with that comment. Reducing engine power for better economy is the low hanging fruit.

I appreciate the overall question, particularly from an Econ major, and hope we get a thoughtful discussion out of it today! Your profession gets a round hazing here on most days.. only a bit it fully justified. (!?)

I would tend to emphasize the Darwinian nature of the changes that can and must come about as pressures on us change. EV's are a very flexible option, in that they can be any size from Powered Kiddie Cars up to Freight Trucks (currently short-range, as with the Los Angeles Port transfer fleet.. but also not inconceivable as running under wired roads, etc.. ) Point being, the question of EV's is not binary, Yes or No.. there are multiple flows and economics at play and in adjustment that will modulate such developments. There are little, super-lightweight EV's that some of us chatter about, like Faired, Pedelec VELOMOBILES, which are barely worth discussing publically as a transportation option, tho' these would be ideal for many people and many trips, in my view, and create almost zero road wear, need far less battery and motor material, draw far fewer watts, offer exercise and protection against 'range anxiety'.. etc, etc. But ATM, few are likely to go shopping for one.. and with the driving culture even in my own small city, I can't really blame them.

Long-distance Commuting seems to be a dead-end road, while those who continue to do it may not look at this as simply spending down their resources on a Slot Machine that never pays back.. but that's how I see it. Our relationship to intercity travel and to imported products will probably shift simply through market realities, while some might make more conscious choices ahead of time when they see the writing on the wall.

Anyhow.. good luck expanding the horizons of your perspective, and welcome to the comments section!



Now I'm probably going to generate a few hits for this fellow's site I'm talking about and I don't mind doing it. I personally stopped helping him translate articles on a voluntary basis for his site a while ago. I did not ask to be mentioned as translator either, just wanted to see if he'd come out to my film night - Meltdown by the CBC - and he didn't, even though I had translated a few things for him He's just too busy for me so I'm too busy for him. And yes, I wrote one of the rants. And I'm no longer going to Transition Town anymore either. Couldn't be bothered at the moment, enough more important things to spend my valuable time on.


It'll be interesting to see how the Renault fairs in the marketplace. I don't really disparage the current EV's that look and feel like the Autos they seek to replace.. I think it's perfectly natural that we have gone that route, but I do also feel that EV's are in fact a different beast than ICE cars, and as I said above, they will evolve to fit forms and uses that might be quite different than the existing world they presently want to mimic.

With that in mind, I think that those of you looking at it from an Econ. framework might consider that EV's are being understood very much as ICE cars are, and your expectations might be getting locked into many of the assumptions that are built into the old reality. A vehicle that can recharge (theoretically) at any electric plug, off your rooftop or windpower, or whatever kind of Generator you might be dragging along in the trunk.. etc.. And then, it's also a highly portable power system that can, in turn POWER a house if need be, or any great number of other things.. it could carry a portable wind-turbine or solar array WITH it, and recharge (probably quite slowly) whereever you are.. you could even generate a charge for it with an Exercise bike (probably EXTREMELY slowly) .. and this vehicle might be able to remain independent of the Garage or any other System Inputs for several YEARS, until a battery change was necessary.

I think there are economic peripherals to the Automotive World that will really see some very fundamental changes in what roles this device might play in our lives. As much as I believe we could and should move beyond the old 'Happy Motoring' models that carry so many societal disasters on their heels, I also look at some of the above factors and wonder if the 'car' might not become, for some, an even more essential component of having an independent, portable, sleepable asset for life in some very fluid and dynamic times coming towards us.

Even if these new wheels end up using less and less steel.. they might become increasingly ironic, just the same! (Ducking, turning the key, and driving away fast!)

You mean there are peripheral/secondary economic factors that might make this car interesting? It would stimulate other industries?

I'm also not against incremental change as such as opposed to no change/letting things turn out as they may. We all have to look at our situations and say this is the gamble I'll make - living in your car or whatever and not buying a house may be possible where you are but you won't get away with it long in NL. When the SHTF, I'll have my bike trailer and tent if I need to be mobile. I don't think I'm in part of the country that will flood in the first big storms that hit here but who knows how the rivers will react to extreme weather.

But I do like people who try to think ahead and plan and I can imagine if that's your thing you'd obviously be really happy with this kind of a new car. Iphone X 40.

off topic:

And to make another point here while it's on my mind: Europe can kill it's economy with a thousand cuts or it can choose to keep it going. It is choosing economic suicide right now. I see it as some kind of ploy to keep energy costs low, keep the balance of trade in Europe's favour over China, force the City and Wall Street to reform meaningfully etc. That's the only sense I can make of the austerity push led by Germany. Germany has always had an interesting mix of public and capitalistic cooperation that no one should underestimate but they are not winning much popularity in Europe at the moment either. Reduced fuel consumption worldwide has primarily been achieved in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece this year. Not sure when things are going poof here but those countries will never be able to turn their trade balances around or bring down their debts the way things are going.

Agriculture is interesting - Solar is a bad fit as tractors tend to get used on sunny days. Cars are usually parked most of the day. Cars benefit by being light, tractors fill the tires with water and add steel plates for more weight.

So tractors might need two switchable lead acid battery packs and cars might use direct solar to charge a lithium battery. The first is much more low tech.


You don't need to use tractors as much on a pasture based ag systems. And you don't need to be a vegetarian either! Less than the claimed 10 calories go into the production of 1 calorie of food(meat) as is so often claimed by those nonsense vegetarians based on their evidence of feedlot ag.


Diesel tractors run quite nicely on straight vegetable oil, with a few modifications to allow them to start. They also run well on a mixture of 90% natural gas and 10% diesel fuel (or vegetable oil), the purpose of which is just to ignite the natural gas without using a spark plug. Natural gas is mostly methane which can be produced from sewage or plant or animal sources.

I don't see a big problem keeping the tractors running.

I guess my point about agriculture is that we shouldn't forget how our food is produced, the high costs, and see where we can improve that from a peak oil perspective. I also think the tractors will keep running, didn't know the fuel was so flexible though ;)

SA is spending big to produce more of its own food. But it is likely that many countries that are exporters now and are projected to become importers will remain oil exporters longer than the trends now suggest.

Saudi Arabia is phasing out all wheat production -10%/year for 10 years.

Too much water used.


Agriculture only consumes a small percentage of our fuel, so this should not be the problem.

Diesel tractors run quite nicely on straight vegetable oil, with a few modifications to allow them to start.

I also think the tractors will keep running, didn't know the fuel was so flexible though

I often find the understanding of fuel use for food sadly underestimated here. If your country is an importer of oil, then what happens when there is no oil to import? (ELM). While it is certainly possible for farmers to use vegetable oil, this only applies to on farm use of tractor, not transport of produce to markets. Even if only 'on farm use' is considered, the amount of time and effort taken to produce the veg oil/ biodiesel is never considered by those who don't do it. A simple wave of the hand stating it is possible, is not the same as the reality of doing it. Food production is guaranteed to decline by farmers producing their own fuel. To start with there is just not enough hours in a day to do everything associated with making fuel as well as current workloads. If government gets involved, likely, then the farmers will be taxed on the fuel they produce. It will become self evident to farmers that producing less is worth more to the farms involved, using there own produce whilst making less fuel will mean less gross income and work, yet higher net benefits for the farmers.

Failure of most on TOD to understand this is a weakness of many peak arguments.

Instead of a road to a farm it might be an electric rail line. The farmer might have some grid-tied wind turbines out in the field and photovoltaic panels on his barn roof. They provide additional income too. Swappable batteries could be transported to and from the tractor in the field using an electric utility truck. A circular field with a power cord in the middle is possible. This might be better than using biofuel produced from his crop.


Those comments highlight what I am stating. Considering the amount of barely graded tracks that pass as rural roads in much of this country (Aus), thinking that there would be the resources or capital available to have electric rail line to farms instead is in the relm of "tell him he's dreaming".

As I have rpeviously posted, many farms in the grain growing areas, and in my area which is higher rainfall dairying country, there is a SWER (Single Wire Earth Return) power line to properties. These lines often go for many miles. No chance of this supplying the power necessary, and no plans for upgrade of infrastructure.

The only realistic option is going to be the biofuels option (biodiesel). Yet despite this, many modern vehicles warn against it's use as new technologies that help the environment, the DPF for instance, get upset at biodiesel use and the vehicle's computer stops it working. Likewise the high pressures in modern vehicles have problems with the biodiesel getting past rings and diluting the motor oil.

The wave of the hand approach to the looming problems with food production is very similar to the argument that there is plenty of shale oil in the kerogen deposits. Sounds easy to those not paying attention.

I guess it only marginally reasures me that tractors can run primarily on our oh so prevalent natural gas. When I think natural gas I think of the fart that you get after drinking 2 liters of oil.

While it is certainly possible for farmers to use vegetable oil, this only applies to on farm use of tractor, not transport of produce to markets. Even if only 'on farm use' is considered, the amount of time and effort taken to produce the veg oil/ biodiesel is never considered by those who don't do it. A simple wave of the hand stating it is possible, is not the same as the reality of doing it.

You're underestimating the adaptability of farmers. The idea of running tractors on vegetable oil originated some decades ago in previous oil crises when soybean farmers had trouble getting enough diesel fuel. They tried blending some of the soybean oil they had on hand into their diesel fuel, and found it worked perfectly well as tractor fuel. They were growing soybeans, they were producing soybean oil, and the rest was just details.

Other oilseeds work as well. Farmers who are not growing oilseeds and don't have their own oilseed presses might have to diversify their operations, but that would not be a huge conceptual leap for them. It would require about 1/10 of their land to produce the oil they needed for their operations, which is better than the 1/4 that horses or oxen required in pre-industrial times.

If farmers can run their diesel tractors on vegetable oil, they can run their diesel trucks on vegetable oil, too. Their farm trucks only have to get their crops as far as the nearest railway station. The railways could run their locomotives on vegetable oil, but a diesel-electric locomotive is really just an electric locomotive with its own portable diesel generator, so a more efficient solution would be for the railway to string wires and use electric locomotives.

It's not really rocket science. It's been done before. There are no end of viable alternatives.

I think you are missing my point. I am a farmer that makes his own Biodiesel to run in both cars and tractor. The cars are 30 years old and the tractor ~40. They run fine on Bio, or Veg oil if I used a heated tank set-up. The modern stuff does not work well on it at all.

I fully agree that farmers are adaptive. I know of several that grow their own fuel now, mostly canola oil, and they process it for themselves. What I also notice is that as they are more self reliant, it tends to spread to other areas in their lives. They produce much less for general consumption as they tend to use their own livestock for food as well. They also tend to choose easier crops for marketing and simpler methods with less fertilier inputs. Their costs are way down but so is the production, though still highly profitable.

By using only 10% of the land for fuel production is a myth. Looking at dryland farming the 10% would work in the good years, but you would run out of fuel in the bad years. Of course you don't know if it is going to be good or bad until well after planting for grains. It's OK now because you can just buy in the diesel if it doesn't work one year, but what happens when you can't buy diesel in? The, only use 10% of land for fuel is another one of those looks good on paper, but reality doesn't necessarily agree.
Of course the 10% is just for on farm use, once you include a delivery truck plus the pick-up to go to town etc, your talking more.

Like Hide_away said once you add off farm trucking to market, margin for bad years, storage to hold over for the bad years., and labor you are using 25% of the farm for fuel production, and thats for a farm that is in an area that is good for growing Canola, or soybeans. The other sixty percent of farming would still be tied to FF, or run at a much lower productivity.

How to secure energy for agriculture:

1) Convert waste and biomass into diesel, is actually done. Use vegetable oil.

2) Convert most of your trucks and tractors to EVs. In Germany farmers own a huge percentage of the private PV capacity. Think about switchable battery systems which are loaded at home.

My two cents worth:

Nothing beats oil: a compact energy source with an existing infrastructure. The wars for the rights and the sinks for the exhausts are both cloaked from the consumer's perception yet paid for by the consumers themselves. Here is Big Dog, the most advanced motive-frame under development: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNZPRsrwumQ ...and that is the sound of an internal-combustion driven generator loading and unloading with every step: batteries are too heavy and don't offer the range.

A centralized-nuclear-fission distributed-energy transportation infrastructure would be great... except monkeys do not manage nuclear well and they have yet to solve the waste problem.

Things dug from the earth have limits of supply.

All technology is stop-gap: it gets you from here to there. The buggy-whip industry is dead. The internal-combustion engine is mature. All of the elements of alternative energy are under development. There are new batteries every day... new solar cells... new electrochemical processes... materials... everything is in constant flux. To take a snap-shot of over-the counter technology and project just upon that ignores reality. For example, a technology that makes the combustible fuel ammonia from electricity, air, and water that burns to make water and nitrogen has been recently revealed offering a relatively clean and compact energy currency packaged from electrical generation (SSAS).

Starting the transition is probably the most important. Events like the California gasoline price-spike and hurricane Sandy push oil and even centralized electrical distribution a bit off of their sweet-spots with consumers... opening the door a crack for alternatives.

Wind is of the same order of magnitude as oil for the cost/unit at the meter/pump... but without the hidden cost of oil's wars and operating pollution, the relative situation might be much better. Wind power is most feared by the fossil fuel industry as is evidenced by their war against it. Wind generation works best at a huge scale of machine, so it is generally remote from its point of use. This is in contrast to solar photovoltaic which lends itself to very local installation but presently has a much higher cost than wind energy from giant machines.

As for the arguments that the present life-style can not be maintained... the present life style can not be offered, either... not to 7,000,000,000 people... not everybody gets a Mercedes, a McMansion, central air-conditioning, and a lawn, even now. In America, I hear, the young people aren't even all that interested in owning a car.

Now I know what a Big Dog looks (and sounds!) like. And SSAS - sounds very WWII James Bond. Thanks, great to hear about this stuff. Having an electric bike myself I have an idea of the advantages and disadvantages of current battery technology. But for bikes in the Netherlands it hasn't changed a whole lot in the 3 years I've been keeping up with it. Fast charging for bikes would be a real improvement.

I read an article on zerohedge the other day about kids these days being more interested in phones than cars.

Hi klooless,

How many EVs could be sustained in Europe compared to how many cars and trucks and tractors drive around now?

My personal opinion is that much of Europe and particularly Germany are already well along the road to a mental paradigm shift with regards mass and personal transportation. I see EVs as having a big role to play in this transition but not in the form of EV cars but rather EV bicycles. So I think a lot of EVs could easily be sustained.

I post here a link of some pictures on a trip I took to visit my sister in Germany. This is a beta feature of my photobucket account so my apologies if it doesn't work too well yet, just click the image below...

Germany Solar and Wind

She lives in a small town near Karlsruhe. Note the poster for financial incentives for solar at a local bank. Solar on new homes being built, Solar on the Modern Art museum, Windmills by the road, the sign in the bicycle parking lot at the Karlsruhe train station congratulating 'Climate Heros' The solar hot water collector on the roof (that's my sister's house) etc...

Hey FMagyar,

The Netherlands is way behind all other countries around here for PV installations. Some call it the Shell Banana Monarchy ;)

It is difficult still to say whether the Renault Zoe will have a much better TCO than a small gasoline engine (we pay more tax on diesel cars here). It also depends on your driving habits and needs of course. Some do think though that it will be revolutionary for car purchases. We shall see. Right now the lease runs at 79 euros a month for the battery. That brings the purchase price down to 20000 euros.

Which brings me to the point:

How easy is it exactly to recycle a typical lithion battery?

How easy is it exactly to recycle a typical lithion battery?

I don't know but it seems Renault is taking that issue seriously.

From the link:

What about the environment?

Mindful of the environment, Renault has formed a partnership with the leading company in li-ion battery recycling.

Damaged and end-of-life batteries are collected and sent to diagnosis centers, which in turn send them on either to a second, non-automotive life or to complete recycling.

Recycling starts by breaking the batteries down into sub-assemblies and modules (made up of cells). The constituent parts are either reused or recycled.

I currently drive about 10,000 miles a year in a diesel that does 65 mpg average (UK). I pay £1.46/l for diesel, the car is bigger than a Zoe and cost £12,000 new.

That works out at £70.85 in fuel costs per month, about 85-90 euro. I pay about £0.15 /KWh for electricity, so the Zoe would cost me more to run. (although the diesel servicing charge is higher).

Both cars are zero excise tax rated, but even with a £5000 discount the Zoe costs more to buy.

The practical range between refils in my car is 650 miles and the refill time is under 5 minutes.

I would love to drive an electric car, but I cannot yet justify it on either price or practicality grounds.

I'd like to hear more from whom ever on appropriate taxing of various sorts of engines and either personal/business uses. We also have a fairly generous lease plan system tax wise for employees.

Klooless – “…have enough oil in the ground to realise this.” IMHO that won’t be a problem. We have a great deal of energy today and in the future. The question is more a matter of how we choose to deploy that energy. And in reality it’s not so much a question of energy availability IMHO but capital availability. And again, not so much availabilty but what choices are being made. And while it’s easy to say we should take monies being spent on FF and spend it on the alts we’ll still use the same amount of FF during the transition unless we change those habits first. It will be the transition from one to the other that will be the challenge...two big bills to pay at the same time if we makr the move fast. And we could have been changing those habits all along regardless of needing to fund the alts. And we (especially the US) haven’t made those choices.

It's easy to model a significant transition to alts if you ignore the huge capex costs and the never ending pressure to keep spending capex trying to maintain BAU.

It's easy to model a significant transition to alts if you ignore the huge capex costs and the never ending pressure to keep spending capex trying to maintain BAU

Except that maintaining BAU is a sin! >;-)


FM - And he without sin let him cast the first stone. I don't think we've reached Peak Sin yet. We are as good at ignoring our own indisgressions as we're are blaming others for theirs. Most of us have glass houses. Or, in my case, a house made of Blue Bell Ice Cream. Yeh...right...in my dreams.

"Except that maintaining BAU is a sin! >;-)"

Well-nigh impossible would be closer. Just try to pop down to the record store and buy a cassette tape for your car's tape deck. Or look for a new CRT display for your PC which you want in order to run Lotus 123. Or heaven forbid you need parts for an AMC Hornet.

The question is do you let BAU evolve at it's own pace and direction, or do you put your shoulder into it and change it's trajectory? Determining where the trajectory should be is what really gets the yelling and screaming with extra arm-waving going.

Determining where the trajectory should be is what really gets the yelling and screaming with extra arm-waving going.

Well currently the trajectory seems to be towards 1000 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere by 2050 with a 6 degree Celsius temperature rise. Probably causing droughts, sea level rise, and increases in violent storms.

This with about 9 billion humans screaming and arm-waving for not only food, water and shelter but lots of artificially induced needs for amenities which have built in obsolescence, such as those cassette tapes you mention and which mostly exist at the expense of our continuing to burn finite FFs.

Given what I already see happening around me in the world today, it sure sounds a lot like a future hell on earth to me...and so far all the yelling and screaming to put the brakes on before we hit the point of no return hasn't seemed to have had much effect on the promoters of BAU. It seems to be full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes

I think the trajectory looks something like this


How many kilometers an hour is 19 m/s? I'm an economist, i don't do physics?

There are 3600 seconds in an hour, and 1000 meters in a Km. So if I am not thinking backwards, divide by 3.6.

Hang on, that's math!

No, math would be, if I gave you the elephant's surface area exposed to the air during it's fall and then asked you to calculate the height of the cliff based on its velocity upon impact >;-)

NO, that's physics. The math is what you do after you figure out the physics.


Which is why I only asked him to calculate the value of 'h', since a lot of other people have already figured out the necessary physics for us including things like the acceleration of gravity, and how the value of the elephant's drag coefficient would vary with increasing speed if the cliff were really high and the elephant had not yet reached its theoretical terminal velocity before actual impact, etc...(BIG GRIN)


I think 68 km/h would be a sufficient velocity to terminate poor dumbo upon impact.

Did I miss something?

Actually that's multiply by 3.6.

19m/s = 19x3600 m/h =19x3600/1000 km/h

Alan from the islands

Cow dung! I did get it backwards...

My handy desktop convert says 19 M/S = 68.4 KM/HR.

Unit conversion is straightforward if you carry the units along. Convert to the next unit by cancelling the previous unit in the numerator or denominator:

19m/s * 1km/1000m = 19/1000 km/s
19/1000 km/s * 60s/minute = 19/1000*60 km/minute
19/1000*60 km/minute * 60 minutes/hour = 19/1000*60*60 km/hour
= 68.4 km/hour

Or if you can't recall km per meter you can go through any units you remember:
19 m/s * 39.37inches/m * 1 foot/12inches * 1mile/5280feet * 1.61km/mile * 3600s/hour = 19*39.37/12/5280*1.61*3600 = 68.4 km/hour

A pleasure to hear from you Rockman as you no doubt checked TOD before heading out to inspect a few projects today.

Capital is an interesting reality and as you say it kind of evolves doesn't it if you use it and rusts if you don't. And it is never a perfect substitute for all examples of itself as all econ models assume.

The two bills analogy is a good one. Too many bills is anathema here in NL. We are firmly in austerity drive and the green initiatives are all hot air because of Shell. I'll just say it and see how long I survive ;)


'Despite Obama’s appeals, Congress is back to sparring over ‘fiscal cliff’

I predict Obama will cave in and agree 'not' to let the GW bush jr. tax cuts expire for all wage groups. The R's will stand firm on no tax increases for the super wealthy and O will fear a backlash from the middle class if those tax cuts expire, so he'll cave.

Personally I'd let all of W's tax cuts expire and let all the spending cuts take effect, saying a tea party congress enacted these cuts to take place on Jan. 1, 2013 so they must have thought it through. Besides we need to tighten our belts sooner or later - might as well be now. But weak kneed O will cave on that too and we'll end up with a few billion in spending cuts, everyone on capitol hill will smile and hug and kiss and clap and be happy, la de da!

Even though I voted for O because I didn't have any idea whatsoever as to what Romneyhood-Romnesia-47%-Jeep stood for except padding the top 1%, O is more inclined to do things that garner popularity amongst the 99ers than making or standing by hard decisions.

I would have voted Romney had I been there. I feel a kind of sympathy for the 1% as they decide or not what it is exactly they do believe in.

I think one must decide whether it is in our best interests to either

A) Encourage Them..


B) Encourage them to Think Long and Energetically about what is really in our best interests.

Sympathy is fine. I don't see a need to dehumanize the Uber-Wealthy.. (and the 1% ARE not just wealthy, but Extremely Wealthy!).. but I do have some concerns when they have put so much energy and faith into championing the DeHumans, like Corporations, Account Holdings, Financial Ideologies, and hence Worldviews.

I think that money and power can help you become intensely disconnected from reality. It is the great teflon that lets you forget what friction was like.. and so our sympathy must include the understanding that they desperately need to hear and understand again what is true and real in the world, since their surroundings can be so effective at supporting any and every fantasy that they care to build into their scenery.

We don't live in the world.. we live in our minds, and hope that the images in our minds are reasonable reflections of the world. Energy and Power has allowed us to skew such reflections horribly astray.

Yes we have to get off of our personal mental treadmills once in a while. That's why I stopped guest posting at zerohedge - too many folks with a Worldview.

Well you're in luck. No Worldviews here. Just lots of different Opinions, Notions and Philosophies!

"Energy and Power has allowed us to skew such reflections horribly astray."

We all get our daily sip from that chalice, even if it's only a few cc's of ff's for some.

And that's the other reason I turn the A/C up until it's uncomfortable in the summer, and turn all but reading lights out when it's dark - not just for energy savings, but *because that's what it's really bloodly like outside*, and I want to always be aware of that. I like the fantasy of the real over my own fantasies, it feels more authentic ;)


"I like the fantasy of the real over my own fantasies, it feels more authentic"

Me too. I've always darkened the house at night - and I don't like to turn lights on during cloudy days. It is what it is.

It may be that the only way to "solve" the US debt problem is to let the Bush Tax cuts expire and thus go over the "fiscal cliff". Rather like the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey, with "HAL" being brought under control by cutting it's power. Trouble is, just like HAL, the MIC isn't going to give up without a fight...

E. Swanson

HAL was controlled by removing his CPUs (or whatever passed for CPUs - components of his neural net?) one by one.

Interesting how the Tea Party members of the House demanded all these cuts including to the MIC, only later to cry foul at the idea of reducing defense spending. I guess that goes to the saying, 'Be careful what you ask for'.

I'd personally like to see a ceiling put on defense spending of 200 billion a year, with war spending needing to come from new taxes on the wealthy, because if they aren't going to fight in wars they deem necessary to protect their interests, the least they can do is flip the bill.

With the difference, what 500 billion or so?, we could do amazing things in this country for education, infrastructure, renewables and new transportation systems. Unfortunately, this country is unwilling to let the caveman in us ease the club off the shoulder.

Sounds like the new version of the Medicare line..

"Get the government's fingers out of my Pentagon!"

That would align the incentive structure more productively wouldn't it? But the myth(?) is that military spending accelerates job creation and technical progress.

We will have to start up a movement Peak Earl for pres.

'Ease club off shoulder' - nice image, that.

"Besides we need to tighten our belts sooner or later - might as well be now"

Unfortunately, there is where I agree completely. More has been promised than can be paid.

"O is more inclined to do things that garner popularity amongst the 99ers than making or standing by hard decisions."

This 99%er would be greatly pleased if O would just toss John Corzine in jail.

This 99%er would be greatly pleased if O would just toss John Corzine in jail.

Not going to happen. John Corzine is one of Obamas friends, and the people that lost 1.6 billion were not, its the Chicago way, you protect your friends.

The beauty of O is how he convinced us all he's just another J6P with a law degree, and then slid ever so smoothly into high society. And so there you have it, another idea with >80% support of the electorate, that no politican is ever going to even consider. It's like DC is a different planet with it's own air supply, and we come screaming back to one of the reasons we're gonna ride BAU right into the next dark ages...

Brazil oil, natgas output slips for third month in Sept


".....Production fell 8.4 percent from the 2.099 million barrels the same month a year ago."

Some old field must be starting to bomb

Gazprom tests LNG trade route via Arctic waters

The trading arm of Russia's Gazprom is testing a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade route between Europe and energy-hungry markets in Asia as shrinking sea-ice opens Arctic waters to marine traffic.

Gazprom is sending the LNG tanker Ob River from the world's northernmost liquefaction plant in the Barents Sea to Japan, a voyage to test the feasibility of cutting transit times to Asia, which would boost Russian plans to build an LNG plant in the Arctic.

I'd say that the Russians are running a bit late in the year for this expedition to make it thru before the sea-ice closes in. There's already a considerable growth of new sea-ice in the area. Here's an animation of sea-ice for the past month. They aren't going to make it through without an ice breaker leading the way...

E. Swanson

LNG Tanker Ob River Prepares for Northern Sea Route

... The Northern Sea Route, or North-East passage, is a shipping lane from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean along the North coast of Siberia, most of the route being in Arctic waters. Navigation fairways are opened by icebreakers in order to extend the navigation period. This strategic route cuts the maritime distance from Northern Europe to Northeast Asia and North America by up to 40 % compared to southern sea routes via the Suez or Panama canals

I found this documentary on Planned Obsolescence

Pyramids of Waste

Very informative.

Thank you for posting this. Depressingly confirmatory.

Chernobyl Cleanup Workers Had Significantly Increased Risk of Leukemia

A 20-year study following 110,645 workers who helped clean up after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in the former Soviet territory of Ukraine shows that the workers share a significant increased risk of developing leukemia. The results may help scientists better define cancer risk associated with low doses of radiation from medical diagnostic radiation procedures such as computed tomography scans.

... Overall, there were 137 cases of leukemia among the workers over the 20-year span of the study, and 16 percent of those cancers were attributable to the Chernobyl radiation exposure, the team found.

Say it ain't so ...

Arabica coffee could be extinct in the wild within 70 years, study suggests

Rising temperatures due to climate change could mean wild arabica coffee is extinct in 70 years, posing a risk to the genetic sustainability of one of the world's basic commodities, scientists said on Wednesday.

A study by researchers at Britain's Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in collaboration with scientists in Ethiopia found that 38 to 99.7% of the areas suitable for wild arabica will disappear by 2080 if predictions of rising temperatures pan out.

Because coffee is a highly climate-dependent crop, the increase of a few degrees of average temperature in growing regions can put at risk the future of arabica coffee and the livelihood of millions of people who grow and produce it.


Might it just be moved higher up the mountains?


a) - soils don't usually get thicker/richer higher up the slopes

b) - eventually, mountains come to a peak, and there ain't no where else to go

(sort of a metaphor for our whole predicament, that last...)

Very true, but part of my point was that many of these calculations are done on a flat land basis. Coffee is typically grown on mountains so the third dimension needs to be taken into account BTW, avoid getting too close to coffee plants, they have no-see-ums like crazy...scritch, scritch just thinking about them.


Impact of Baby Boomers on U.S. Travel, 1969-2009

... recently, year-over-year increases in vehicle miles of travel has stalled. Researchers and policymakers wonder if these declines indicate a historic turning point or are simply a product of the economic downturn that will rebound when the economy recovers. Are the baby boomers, after decades of high vehicle use, shifting some of their travel to other means? Another question is how the retirement of boomers will influence the broad range of senior transportation strategies that address the travel needs of older adults.


Future warming likely to be on high side of climate projections, research finds

Climate model projections showing a greater rise in global temperature are likely to prove more accurate than those showing a lesser rise, according to a new analysis by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The findings, published in this week's issue of Science, could provide a breakthrough in the longstanding quest to narrow the range of global warming expected in coming decades and beyond

Climate change could hit crops far worse than thought

[NEW DELHI] The impact of climate change on key food crops in Africa and South Asia may be much worse than previously estimated — with reductions of up to 40 percent by the 2080s — according to a study, which synthesised results from related studies published over the last 20 years.

It also identified "major gaps in climate change impact knowledge" for certain crops and regions, such as central Africa. Such lack of knowledge could hamper effective adaptation policy decisions, it warns.

The study projects an eight per cent average decrease for all crop yields — and this figure increases to 40 per cent in worst-case scenarios. In Africa, the most significant yield reductions are predicted for maize, millet, sorghum and wheat, while in South Asia, maize and sorghum will be hardest hit.

Caribbean sardine collapse linked to climate change

Overfishing and plankton decline may have contributed to collapse of fisheries, risking dire consequences for Caribbean

The sardine, Sardinella aurita, feeds on plankton but since 2005 plankton levels in the Caribbean have reduced significantly, which, coupled with overfishing, may have contributed to the collapse of these fisheries. They have plummeted by as much as 87%, the study says.

The research team said the decreasing levels of plankton production are the result of a reduction in ocean upwelling, whereby nutrients crucial for plankton production are brought from the sea's floor to the surface. The drop in upwelling has, in turn, been driven by changes in wind patterns and wind strength, themselves driven by global climate change.

Find us something to read in which the adverse effects of CC are less severe than expected. Many thanks!

Headline would be, "Hell Not Quite Going to Freeze Over!", or something like that...

Edit - Whaddayaknow - here's one on Greenland from Fri's Drumbeat.

Iranian jets fire on U.S. drone

Or in an alternate universe: American jets fire on U.S.S.R. drone

Two American fighter jets fired on an unarmed U.S.S.R. Air Force Predator drone in the Gulf of Mexico last week, Pravda has learned.

The incident raises fresh concerns within the Medvedev administration about American military aggression in crucial Gulf oil shipping lanes.

The drone was in international airspace east of Mexico, U.S.S.R. officials said, adding it was engaged in routine maritime surveillance.

Although the drone was not hit, the Kremlin is concerned.

Two U.S.S.R. officials explained the jets were part of America's Air Force, which has been more confrontational than regular American military forces.

The Medvedev administration did not disclose the incident, which occurred just days before the presidential election on November 1, but three senior officials confirmed the details to Pravda.

The officials declined to be identified because of sensitive intelligence matters surrounding the matter.

The drone's still and video cameras captured the incident showing two fighter jets approaching the Predator and firing its onboard guns.

The American pilots continued to fire shots that went beneath the Predator but were never successful in hitting it, according to the officials.

U.S.S.R. military intelligence analysts are still not sure if the American pilots simply were unable to hit the drone due to lack of combat skill, or whether they deliberately were missing and had no intention of bringing down the drone. But as one of the officials said, "it doesn't matter, they fired on us."

The official confirmed the U.S.S.R. protested the incident but has not heard back from America.

America has, at times, been confrontational in the region. In January, the U.S.S.R. military and coast guard had close encounters with American Navy vessels which approached at high speeds and exhibited provocative behavior.

American fighters were firing on a USSR Predator drone? I didn’t know we sold Predator drones to the USSR. They didn’t even exist in 1990, and the USSR has ceased to exist.
Going back to the article at CNN they say it was Iran that shot at our drone. Spudw I think you are trying to pull a fast on us. If true you shouldn’t make it so obvious.

I guess I should have bolded the alternate universe part...

Modified diesel engines and a discussion on fuel economy

Q: Why hasn't there been more progress in fuel economy for cars sold in the U.S. despite the high price of gas?

A: It's very simple. There isn't much demand for fuel efficiency. Most people are not willing to pay extra for fuel-efficient technologies. Some people are, but in general the answer is "no." So, short of mandating that people buy fuel-efficient vehicles—which traditionally Americans don't like; they don't like being told what to buy—don't hold your breath.

Q: Eventually, though, Americans will have to get serious about curbing carbon emissions, which are driving climate change. Don't you think so?

A: Why? Where's the market driver for it? There isn't one. The only way you're going to get people serious about cutting carbon-based emissions is if it's regulation imposed. If regulations come out saying we are going to limit CO2 emissions, then you have a driver for why people will need to purchase vehicles that emit less CO2. But that hasn't happened yet. The CO2 fairy isn't going to come down and tap us on the head and say, "We're all going to collectively reduce carbon emissions because it's the right thing to do." Nobody's going to go ahead and do that.

also http://www.anl.gov/videos/transportation-technology-rd-steve-ciatti

There is plenty of research going on. For instance see
Transonic Combustion Gets $32M For Advanced Fuel Injection
Which also lists a bunch of other research into attempts to stretch mileage. Of course all this is in the service of continuing BAU aotomotive.

Intensive Farming With A Climate-Friendly Touch: Farming/Woodland Mix Increases Yields

Thomas Knoke and Michael Weber at Technische Universität München (TUM) firmly believe that intensive, high-yield agricultural practices can go hand-in-hand with climate and environmental protection. The two scientists and their colleagues have developed a "diversified land-use" concept for medium-sized holdings in South America based on an idea originally developed by retired TUM professor, Wolfgang Haber. The new concept encourages farmers to move away from large-scale monocropping and plant a mix of field crops on smaller plots, while at the same time setting aside part of their land for forests and hedges. Any unused land will be reforested. The smaller plots of farmland will still be large enough for intensive farming practices using fertilizers, planting machines and harvesters. The interspersed wooded areas and hedges will protect the soil from erosion and serve as long-term carbon stores.

... another researcher 'discovers' permaculture.

"Permaculture" itself is a resdicovery of knowledge, long forgotten.

You can still clearly see the old field systems in satellite photos of the UK on Google.


Pavements Designed To Fight Climate Change Could Increase Energy Consumption In Surrounding Buildings

A push to replace old, heat-trapping paving materials with new, cooler materials could actually lead to higher electricity bills for surrounding buildings, engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have found.

The study sounds a note of caution at a time when both federal and state legislatures have been pushing for increased use of the new highly reflective pavement materials. Assembly Bill 296, which became law in California this year, is designed to advance cool pavement practices in the state and requires the compilation of a Cool Pavement Handbook. The federal Heat Island and Smog Reduction Act of 2011, currently under consideration in Congress, would specifically require paving materials with higher solar reflectivity.

The worst-case scenario is when these new cooler pavements are used in office park settings with many mid-rise buildings with large window areas. The best-case scenario would be to use the new paving materials near buildings without windows; on roads or large parking lots that are not surrounded by buildings; or in warehouse districts where structures don't have air conditioning, Kleissl said.

I wonder if they've really done their homework correctly. Any sunlight not reflected by pavement goes one of three places: (1) It heats the air, which will help heat the buildings. (2) It gets converted to thermal infrared, which also directly heats the surrounding building, and the reflectivity of walls is usually greater in the visable than the IR range. (3) It gets stored in the ground to come out a night. If you use nighttime cool air to precool buildings three is a big issue. Add a few trees between the pavement and the buildings, and 2 and 3 should be nearly eliminated.

NYC, Long Island to impose gas rationing as shortages drag on, possibly for weeks

The move comes as experts warn that shortages in the city could persist for another “couple of weeks” as crews scramble to repair damage at several refineries knocked out of commission during Superstorm Sandy.

'Sandy' Fuel Shortages Impact School Transportation in New York, New Jersey

... Transportation Coordinator Shawn Frederick of Pearl River School District in the Hudson Valley said they closed schools the week after the storm and the fuel shortage directly impacted the kind of bus service they could offer upon reopening Monday.

Private bus companies have limited supplies,” South Orangetown Superintendent Ken Mitchell said. “Some also have power issues and cannot draw from their tanks.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced on Monday that it would lead an Interstate Petroleum Transport Team to ensure a rapid and efficient movement of fuel to hard-hit areas. The team will serve as a single point of contact for states, the trucking industry and other agencies to assist in removing barriers to fuel delivery.

... according to Mayor Bloomberg ...

...Only 25 percent of gas stations, we estimate, are open. Drivers are still facing long lines. Frustrations are only growing. And it now appears that there will be shortages for possibly another couple weeks.

... Police officers will be deployed to gas stations to help enforce the new order – but we expect, as with the smoking ban, that New Yorkers will respect the rule and social pressure will help ensure compliance.

This is not a step that we take lightly – but given the shortages we will face over the next few weeks, and the growing frustrations of New Yorkers – we believe it is the right step.

It has worked well in New Jersey. And although the shortages are more severe here, because we are further down the supply chain, we believe it will help mitigate the worst of our problems. I am told that Nassau and Westchester Counties are doing the same thing.

We aren't going to come to terms with anything about Climate Change, not with idiots like Steve Goreham out there increasingly spreading this crap:

Climate alarmism: Using our fear of hurricanes

Yet, carbon dioxide is only a trace gas in our atmosphere. Only four of every 10,000 air molecules are carbon dioxide. Mankind’s contribution in all of human history is only a fraction of one of those 10,000 molecules. Nevertheless, proponents of the theory of man-made climate change now claim that this one molecule was responsible for Sandy, a hurricane with a 1,000-mile diameter.

Awfully damn stupid for someone who claims to have an MS in Electrical Engineering. Must have never taken any Chemistry classes. The MSEE may be negated by the MBA...

I forgot what this is called, it's a trick used in logic. It's like arguing that coca cola is made of natural substances so it must be ok or something like that. Let's hope people like Steve Goreham also number 4 out of 10,000.

I think it also speaks volumes about the uselessness of degrees like MS and PhD when it comes to judging people, they should have the same status as a course in pottery (which IMO is much more useful).

"The naturalistic fallacy"?

Arsenic is natural so it must be good!!!1!

Actually it sounds more like the "straw that breaks the camels back" from your description.

Of course, those 10,000 molecules don't do much in a hurricane. That is probably about the amount of atmosphere under a fingernail.

Presumably Steve, despite his MSEE, doesn't believe in transistors. After all, their behavior (allegedly) depends on impurity doping levels of typically much less than 4 in 10,000. It's not the first time I've heard fellow EEs express jaw-dropping beliefs despite what should be a reasonable acquaintance with reality.

His bio says he's 'sometimes described as a "climate change expert"', so I guess that settles the issue once and for all. As for me, I'm sometimes described as "the supreme ruler of the universe".

New from Congressional Research Service ...

Natural Gas in the U.S. Economy: Opportunities for Growth

... Suppliers, which have become the victims of their own production success, are facing low prices that are forecast to remain low. Some companies that have traditionally produced only natural gas have even turned their attention to oil in order to improve their financial situation. Smaller companies are having a difficult time continuing operations and larger companies, including international companies, have bought into many shale gas assets. Prices have remained low even as consumption has increased, in part, because producers have raised production to meet the demand and because companies have improved efficiency and extraction techniques. Some companies, many with large production operations, have applied for permits to export natural gas. This has raised concerns from consumers of natural gas that domestic prices will rise. The debate regarding exports is ongoing.

Introduction: What To Do With All the Natural Gas? ........... 1
Background: The Market Has Changed ........................... 1
Shale Gas: The Game Cha....................................... 1
Projected Future Growth ...................................... 3
Natural Gas Prices: A Competitive Advantage .................. 4
Contributing Factors ......................................... 7
Natural Gas Liquids: A Production Driver ..................... 8
Flaring: A Value Issue ....................................... 9
Factors Affecting Production.................................. 9
Historical Natural Gas Use .................................. 10
Natural Gas Markets: The Possibilities ...................... 13
Demand Response: Direct Beneficiaries ....................... 13
Electric Power Generation: First Mover ...................... 14
Petrochemicals: A Possible Rejuvenation ..................... 16
The Fertilizer Industry Could Help Farmers .................. 17
Steel Production: Two-Fold Winner ........................... 17
Transportation: Key to Energy Independence? ................. 18
Residential and Commercial Consumption: A Regional Opportunity .. 19
Imports and Exports: A Reversal of Roles .................... 20
Other Sectors That Could Gain ............................... 21
Natural Gas Markets: The Limitations ........................ 22
The Global Market: A Role for the United States ............. 22
Environmental Considerations ................................ 23
Price Levels and Volatility: Not a Certainty ................ 25
Demand Competition .......................................... 26
Other Factors ............................................... 27
Conclusions ................................................. 27

also Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy

... Bahrain has little cushion to deal with economic downturns. It has the lowest oil and gas reserves of the Gulf monarchy states, estimated respectively at 210 million barrels of oil and 5.3 trillion cubic feet of gas. Some economic statistics are presented in Table 2. Without the ample oil or gas resources of its neighbors, Bahrain has diversified its economy by emphasizing banking and financial services (about 25.5% of GDP). At current rates of production (35,000 barrels per day of crude oil), Bahrain’s onshore oil reserves will be exhausted in 15 years, but Saudi Arabia shares equally with Bahrain the 300,000 barrels per day produced from the offshore Abu Safa field.

and Some Comments on the “Withdrawal” of a CRS Report

The New York Times reported last week that the Congressional Research Service had withdrawn a report that found no correlation between reduced tax rates and increased economic growth after some Republican Senators took exception to it. (“Nonpartisan Tax Report Withdrawn After G.O.P. Protest” by Jonathan Weisman, November 1.)

Sweet new approach discovered to help produce metal casting parts, reduce toxicity

Sand-based moldings, which comprise about 70 percent of all metal castings, are used to make many metal products, often from aluminum or cast iron, but also from bronze, copper, tin and steel. They are a major part of the automobile industry, along with applications in plumbing materials, mining, railroad applications and many other areas.

modern technologies use various types of "binders" to essentially glue together sands and other materials to form sophisticated molds, into which molten metals are injected to create products with complex shapes. Existing approaches work, but some materials used today, such as furan resins and phenol formaldehyde resins, can emit toxic fumes during the process.

However, experts in adhesion science in the OSU College of Forestry have discovered and applied for a patent on a new use of a compound that appears to also work surprisingly well for this purpose. They say it should cost less than existing binders, is completely renewable and should be environmentally benign.

It's called sugar.

Climate change had political, human impact on ancient Maya

... "Unusually high amounts of rainfall favored an increase in food production and an explosion in the population between AD 450 and 660" said Dr. Douglas Kennett, lead author and professor of anthropology at Penn State. "This led to the proliferation of cities like Tikal, Copan and Caracol across the Maya lowlands. The new climate data show that this salubrious period was followed by a general drying trend lasting four centuries that was punctuated by a series of major droughts that triggered a decline in agricultural productivity and contributed to societal fragmentation and political collapse. The most severe drought (AD 1020 and 1100) in the record occurs after the widespread collapse of Maya state centers (referred to as the Maya collapse) and may be associated with widespread population decline in the region."

... "The effects of climate change are complex and play out over multiple time scales," he added. "Abrupt climate change is only part of the story. In addition to climate drying and drought, the preceding conditions stimulating societal complexity and population expansion helped set the stage for later stress on their societies and the fragmentation of political institutions."

"The most severe drought (AD 1020 and 1100) in the record occurs after the widespread collapse of Maya state centers (referred to as the Maya collapse) and may be associated with widespread population decline in the region.""

But times were good in Greenland, and Europe.

Options Few for People Displaced by Huge Louisiana Sinkhole

After three months living in a hotel while a sinkhole near his home grows and grows, Carl Dugas has realized he won’t be moving back. When he left Aug. 3, he was willing return, though his wife was dubious about the prospect.

“You know what? I feel like somebody’s robbed me. … and I can’t do nothing about it,” he said.

Natural gas detected closer to community near sinkhole than previously thought

... New data shows natural gas much closer to the Bayou Corne community of Assumption Parish than previously detected.

Shallow-depth wells near the community are now indicating natural gas pressure 20 to 40 feet beneath the surface. That's much shallower than previously reported.

Officials want to test for gas accumulation inside every structure built directly on the ground.

La. sinkhole methane explosion possible says sheriff, refuting naysayers

... The possibility exists that Louisiana's sinkhole-related methane, percolating in over a dozen sites near and miles away from the sinkhole area, could ignite and cause an explosion, according to Assumption Parish Sherriff Michael J. Waguespack, interviewed about the unprecedented Bayou Corne event unfolding in South Louisiana's swampland.

“If it finds a source, an oil well, a water well, it will basically come to the surface. If that’s inside of a shed, or something off the ground and it’s captured, it’s an ignition source," stated Waguespack.

"Then 'Boom,' and you have an explosion,” he said.

Shale oil supply contributes to cuts in OPEC demand forecast

U.S. production of shale oil has captured the attention of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC.

In the 12-nation group's OPEC - World Oil Outlook 2012, released Nov. 8, shale oil production contributes to a reduction in the demand forecast for OPEC oil.

In 2011, world supply of all petroleum liquids — mostly crude oil, but also natural gas liquids and gas-to-liquids — was 87.5 million barrels per day, or mb/d.

By 2016, the outlook for oil demand reaches 93.1 mb/d — down more than 1 mb/d from last year's outlook.

Supply shifts significantly in this medium-term forecast, with OPEC expecting to supply 36.7 mb/d of liquids in 2012 and, by 2016, only 36.4 mb/d. Non-OPEC liquids supply grows over the same period from 53.1 mb/d to 56.6 mb/d.

"The key sources of supply driving this growth are rising levels of shale oil from the US, Canadian oil sands, and crude oil from the Caspian and Brazil," the outlook reads.

Long term, to 2035, demand grows to 107.5 mb/d, a downward revision of more than 2 mb/d from 2011's outlook.

OPEC liquids supply grows to 44.9 mb/d in 2035 while non-OPEC supply grows to 62.7 mb/d.

Demand in developed countries peaked around 2005 and declines throughout the forecast period.

... we are on the downslope

http://www.opec.org/opec_web/static_files_project/media/downloads/public... (11.94M pdf)

New York will be going to an odd/even license plate gas rationing system as of 6 AM tomorrow morning - should have been done right after the storm instead of waiting a painful week.

Alaska village facing water woes gets outside help

Residents of a small Alaska Native village facing a severe water shortage are monitoring every precious drop they use as they struggle to stretch their reserves as far into winter as possible, with help coming from as far away as Minnesota.

"It's very, very clear that we won't have enough," Kivalina city administrator Janet Mitchell said. "But with our conservation efforts, we hope to get close enough."

Kivalina has only July and August to fill the water tanks before the pipeline freezes or the river gets too icy. This year, the village was ready to fill the tanks but lacked the necessary funds for labor and the fuel to run the water transferring system.


these two poles with 3 transformers each blacked out my area of town for 8 days!


And how many with engines running plus all those headlights on.



I'm sure Hugo Chavez would appreciate the irony of all those desperate Americans driving gas guzzlers lined up at one of his CITGO stations! ... Drives by at 40 km per hour in little red, electric assist, Velomobile wearing vintage leather helmet and goggles, honks little horn and waves to all the people in line! Disappears over the hill singing this song.

Irish Rovers - Snoopy vs. The Red Baron

I recall that you've said your home is equipped with Grid-Tied PV, and that you also have a couple independent battery units that you can roll out when needed.

Were you able to use the rooftop, or is it still connected with a Grid-Only Inverter, and were your portable units in use and helpful to you (and your neighbors)?

Just curious..


A nice article in the Alcalde, University of Texas Alumni magazine, that focuses on Saudi Arabia and Peak Oil:


This is by Karen Elliott House, author of a recent book, On Saudi Arabia.

Thanks Techsan - A variety interesting tidbits. For instance from westexas' playbook: "In a country where a gallon of gasoline is cheaper than bottled water and government energy subsidies are roughly $35 billion annually, Saudi energy consumption is rising at what one energy official calls an “alarming rate.” If this trend continues, Saudi consumption of energy could more than double to 8.3 million barrels a day of oil...by 2028, roughly equal to the 8.6 million barrels a day of oil the kingdom exported in 2010."

If we extrapolate the six year 1995 to 2001 rate of decline (2.7%/year) in the combined ECI ratio (ratio of total petroleum liquids production to liquids consumption) for the Six Country Case History (Indonesia, UK, Egypt, Vietnam, Argentina and Malaysia), it suggested that, at the end of 2001, the ratio of RCNE (Remaining Cumulative Net Exports, i.e., the remaining amount of net exportable oil in "the tank") to most recent annual Net Exports (NE) was 5.1 years, i.e., at the 2001 net export rate, post-2001 RCNE would be depleted in 5.1 years.

This estimate was too optimistic, by a factor of two. The actual RCNE to NE ratio, at the end of 2001, was 2.5.

Using a similar methodology for Saudi Arabia, and extrapolating the six year 2005 to 2011 rate of decline (6.0%/year) in the Saudi ECI ratio, results in an post-2011 RCNE to NE ratio estimate of 9.3 years, i.e., the estimate is that at Saudi Arabia's 2011 net export rate, they would deplete remaining CNE in 9.3 years. Of course, this is a somewhat artificial, but still useful, metric, since production declines, and net export declines, are inevitable.

The following graph shows the ECI ratio (ratio of domestic total petroleum liquids production to liquids consumption, BP) for Saudi Arabia, from 2002 to 2011:


The US subsidizes cheap gasoline & diesel by $101 billion/year.



Foxconn 'mulling US factories'

"Apple supplier Foxconn is reportedly considering opening factories in the US, opening up the opportunity for Americans to work every waking moment for peanuts, riot, and then hurl themselves from the top of a building."

No we are Americans, we don’t do stoop labor. Let the Mexicans do it! /sarc

Meet Japanese Virtual Pop Star Hatsune Miku

At a Hatsune Miku concert, that’s also the moment when the proceedings take a turn for the, well, the only precise way of saying it is for the Japanese. Miku is not human. She is a virtual idol, a holographic star. Miku is crowdsourced, ever-evolving, famous software. Not even her fans know, or care, how to taxonomize her. (“She’s rather more like a goddess: She has human parts, but she transcends human limitations. She’s the great posthuman pop star,” one fansite reads.) Her bandmates are all actual people playing real instruments, but Miku is projected onto the stage, singing, if that’s the word, in avian-robot trills. She was programmed to do this months before, thousands of miles away.

Here's a believe it or not live concert

I am having a hard time getting around this. Posted this because the future of humanity is a favorite topic on TOD.

'Her' version of "Eruption" has been described as so bad it is good. Given the amount of sound and visual manipulation that pop 'stars' go through these days I would far rather something like this that has had some real creative effort put into it. OTOH, maybe pop 'stars' should start to get nervous.