Drumbeat: November 9, 2012

Did Sandy offer a peek at peak oil?

The gas shortages and long lines at the pumps in Superstorm Sandy's wake aren't just an echo of the oil and energy crises of the 1970s. We may be getting a sneak peek at life amid peak oil.

Peak oil -- the point where fuel companies reach the limits of their ability to extract oil, decreasing production and increasing prices -- has been in discussion since the mid-1950s and was a hot topic during the 2008 gas crisis. Yet seldom have Americans seen its potential impact beyond their wallets.

Attention Turns to the Distribution Network for Gasoline as Shortages Persist

Federal energy officials reported that 9 of 57 petroleum terminals affected by the storm remained shut on Wednesday. Of those, seven were in New Jersey, one in Brooklyn and one on Long Island.

Still, industry experts said that the gas shortage had abated more quickly in New Jersey because most terminals in the southern part of the state were not damaged, and gas stations there are closer to major refineries and transportation routes than, say, their New York City counterparts. In addition, state officials adopted a rationing system that helped control demand, the experts said.

30-hour wait for fuel offers plenty of intrigue but no no gas

About 2 a.m. four wanna-be toughs nosed into a 4-foot space a driver left for a crosswalk. Gas-liners honked and cursed. The line-jumping driver gave them the finger.

“And 20 guys converge on the car, kicking the quarter panels, banging on the windows. The driver squealed away. No cops. They only come when the gas comes. But there was no gas yet.”

Another motorist tried jumping the line around 4 a.m. “Two guys in a small Honda,” said Califano. “A tough neighborhood chick jumps out and flings her leather jacket and kicks the driver’s door. ‘Me and you right now, mother------,’ she screamed.”

The driver spun away.

New York to Begin Gas Rationing as Storm Delays Recovery

Gasoline rationing came to New York City and Long Island and commuter transit options expanded as the region worked to recover from the damage caused by superstorm Sandy and a snowy nor’easter.

The city and Nassau and Suffolk counties today joined New Jersey in an odd-even system for fueling based on license plate numbers. To aid commuters who use northern New Jersey train lines that remain out of service, the state is offering free shuttle buses to the Weehawken Ferry Terminal for trips to Manhattan, Governor Chris Christie said.

Sandy’s Blackout-Weary Towns Left in Dark by Utilities

Residents in Tewksbury, New Jersey, haven’t seen one utility truck since Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to their town on Oct. 29, and they’re making sure Mayor Dana Desiderio knows how they feel about that.

The Republican mayor of this affluent township of about 6,000 has had people shoving her at the post office, screaming at her at the firehouse and banging on her car window as she drives by.

Oil Trades Near Four-Month Low on Demand Concern

Crude fell, trading near its lowest level in four months amid speculation that risks to the U.S. and European economies will restrain demand while supplies increase.

West Texas Intermediate futures, little changed this week, may decline next week on concern that Europe’s debt crisis will reduce economic growth and fuel demand, a Bloomberg survey showed. OPEC cut forecasts for demand for its crude next year and said that it decreased production last month. WTI plunged to $84.44 a barrel on Nov. 7, its lowest close since July 10, after U.S. crude inventories rose for the fourth time in five weeks.

OPEC: Oil up slightly in October

Overall, supply continues to look flat across 2012 - there is no more oil being supplied in October than there was in January. So the global economy has been growing not by using more oil, but rather by becoming more efficient with the oil it has (driven by the effects of ongoing high prices).

OPEC Sees Demand for Its Crude Falling to 2016 on Economy, Shale

Demand for OPEC’s crude will decline through to 2016 because of the weakening economic outlook and growing reliance on competing sources such as U.S. shale oil deposits and natural gas liquids.

Global need for fuel from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will shrink to 29.7 million barrels a day in 2016, 1.4 million less than this year, the group said today in its annual World Oil Outlook. The estimate for 2015 is 1.6 million barrels lower than that forecast in last year’s report. OPEC predicts it may have more than 5 million barrels of daily spare production capacity as early as next year.

OPEC: Shale Gas has 'Large Potential'

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has conceded that shale gas has "large potential" in its latest report on the outlook for the global oil industry.

Abu Dhabi targets big increase in oil recovery

Abu Dhabi wants to exploit its oil reservoirs to levels far beyond current recovery rates, an ambition that analysts say would give experienced western oil companies an edge over Asian newcomers in the run-up to concession renewals.

Voters' big worries: Prices and jobs

Unemployment is only the most worrisome issue for people who are either out of a job or fear they will be, Christopher noted. On the other hand, almost everyone has to pay for things like food, gas, health care and housing — and likely has some sense of whether those bills are going up or staying the same.

Christopher’s research has shown that just a small increase in gas prices can affect how consumers are feeling about their finances, even though the cost of gas represents only a tiny portion of most people’s household budget.

Still, the fact that so many people named rising prices was somewhat surprising because consumer prices actually haven’t been rising all that much.

Natural Gas That Backed Romney May Gain From Obama Win

Natural gas producers such as Exxon Mobil Corp. spent millions of dollars this year trying to defeat Democrats, such as President Barack Obama. His re-election may end up being a boon for them.

While Obama will continue with a series of environmental regulations that would curb the production and use of coal, his policies promise to boost demand for natural gas in vehicles and power plants and facilitate domestic oil and gas output to levels not seen in more than two decades.

TransCanada Wins as Obama Keystone Permit Seen

Canadian energy companies led by TransCanada Corp. (TRP) and Suncor Energy Inc. will likely benefit from the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama, who analysts say will approve TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

More pipelines, including the 1,661-mile (2,673-kilometer) link from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf coast, will be needed as North American oil and natural gas output is estimated to surge 73 percent in the next 20 years.

Saudis Warn Iran Over Oil Facility Intrusions

Saudi Arabia has reportedly warned it will retaliate if Iran continues to intrude on the airspace and waters around its offshore oil facilities in the Persian Gulf, and reserves the right to retaliate, as Tehran's firing at a U.S. drone last week raises concerns about an escalation in tensions in the region.

Saudi Arabia's envoy to the United Nations, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, has written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about Iranian intrusions on its offshore oil facilities, the official Kuwait News Agency reported this week.

Indian Oil reports year-on-year Q2 turnaround

New Delhi (IANS) The country's largest oil marketing company Indian Oil Corp (IOC) Friday reported a net profit of Rs.9,611.35 crore in the quarter ended Sep 30 compared with its worst-ever net loss of Rs.7,485.55 crore in the like quarter of 2011.

Russia Government Awaits More Information on Rosneft's TNK-BP Deal - Reports

Russian state-controlled oil giant OAO Rosneft (ROSN.RS) has provided the Russian government with some of the additional information it requires to approve the $55 billion buyout of competitor TNK-BP, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich was cited as saying by Russian newswires Friday.

Iraq ‘in Gazprom Neft ultimatum’

Iraq awaits a reply to an ultimatum it sent to Gazprom Neft asking the Russian to either pull out of Kurdistan or exit an Iraqi oilfield.

The Russian company is one of a plethora of players to have incurred the wrath of Iraq’s government over oil deals struck in the autonomous region of Kurdistan to the north.

BP, Plaintiffs Seek Approval of $7.8 Billion Spill Accord

BP Plc and the lead lawyers representing victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill urged a judge to approve a proposed $7.8 billion partial settlement of claims, while attorneys for thousands of plaintiffs sought rejection or modification of the agreement.

In a separate courtroom in New Orleans, a second federal judge yesterday rejected a bid by a former BP engineer to dismiss one of two criminal charges related to estimates on the size of the spill. Kurt Mix, who has pleaded not guilty, was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly deleting text- message strings from his mobile phone.

Shell, Sunoco Settle Groundwater Suit With New Hampshire

New Hampshire reached a $35 million settlement with Shell Oil Co. and Sunoco Inc. of a lawsuit over claims that the gasoline refiners and manufacturers used chemicals that contaminated groundwater.

The state sued a number of oil companies in 2003, charging that they knew the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) would pollute water supplies, state Attorney General Michael Delaney said today in a statement.

'Powerships' May Replace South Korea's Offline Nuclear Reactors

Floating power plants offer a unique solution to South Korea's possible power shortages after the country shut down nuclear reactors containing uncertified parts.

The four "powerships" from Turkey can each produce about 150 megawatts of power for South Korea if the Korean government goes ahead with plans to rent them. That would make up for the expected power shortage this coming winter — a shortage resulting from the shutdown of two reactors at the Yeonggwang nuclear power plant which were discovered to have parts with forged certificates, according to The Chosun Ilbo.

More EU words than deeds for ailing carmakers

The Commission's latest strategy, Cars 2020, focuses on an innovative, competitive and increasingly green car industry, although the policy for cutting carbon emissions had to be realistic, Tajani said.

"The strategy balances the struggle against climate change with the need for competitiveness," he said. "If we want to help competitiveness, we need innovation and clean cars."

'Burning Picassos for heat': the case for electrified transport

An oil executive once observed that burning oil for energy is like burning Picassos for heat. Oil is extraordinarily valuable as the basis for so many products we use every day that the thought of simply burning it ought to be unthinkable. So versatile are oil molecules that they can be transformed into substances that serve as clothing, medicines, building materials, carpet, skin care products, sporting goods, agricultural chemicals, perfumes, and myriad other products.

Increasingly, when we make oil-based products for homes and businesses, we are finding ways to reuse those products or recycle the materials they are made from (think: recyclable plastics). But, burning oil is always a one-time, irreversible act that leaves nothing of value behind and produces greenhouse gases and pollutants that harm us. And yet, because oil remains the most cost-effective and widely available source of liquid fuels, we are hooked on it for transportation with little prospect of substitutes on the scale we would require--unless we consider electricity.

Kite Surfing' Helps Harness Wind Power

Wind power could work almost anywhere if people turned to high-flying kites rather than relying on just wind turbines. The latest startup to run with that idea wants to harness high-altitude winds through the use of "kite surfing" technology.

Greece Plans Revenue Tax for Solar Plants to Cut Deficit

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.

The government included the tax cutting the revenue for all photovoltaic plants in its bill of economic measures scheduled for a vote tonight in the parliament in Athens, a draft of the legislation shows. It covers all solar power plants bigger than 10 kilowatts during two years.

Greece, Cyprus seek EU funds for Mediterranean energy corridor

Greece and Cyprus will present two Mediterranean energy plans to the European Commission in an effort to secure part financing from the European Union, the Greek Energy Ministry said.

Turning Wood Chips into Gasoline

KiOR, a renewable fuel start-up based in Pasadena, Tex., said Thursday that it had produced a crude oil made from wood chips at a plant in Mississippi and expected to refine it into gasoline and diesel and sell it commercially later this month. That would be a first for the cellulosic biofuel sector.

CU-Boulder Offers Renewable Energy Certificate for Online Distance Learners and Working Professionals

CU-Boulder’s renewable energy certificate is available for online distance learners, non-degree-seeking students, and working professionals of all levels who are looking for new careers or leadership positions in the field of renewable energy. This graduate-level certificate program provides an in-depth study of renewable energy technologies, policies, and business.

Sandy Homeless Trapped by Forces of Nature, NYC Market

Sandy’s hurricane-force winds drove surging Atlantic Ocean floodwaters into her New York neighborhood Oct. 29, and the Massoni family joined thousands suddenly left homeless by the storm. With temperatures near freezing, her family has shuttled among friends and relatives while she looks at apartments like the two-bedroom in Kensington, where the $2,150 rent tops the $2,495 she got for two months from a federal relief agency.

With rental vacancy rates in the city’s Brooklyn and Queens boroughs hovering between 2 percent and 3 percent, many dislocated New Yorkers are having trouble finding a new place to live, buffeted by the forces of nature and the market. The 1,200-square-foot apartment Massoni walked through, on the second floor of a century-old row house, is half the size of her home -- inadequate for her family of five. She kept looking.

Weighing Sea Barriers as Protection for New York

As the storm chugged toward the Eastern Seaboard at 3 p.m. on Oct. 27, an engineering crew in Stamford, Conn., was at the ready. It was time.

With the click of a computer mouse, machinery on the seafloor groaned into action and a gate was slowly pulled from the deep, locking into place high above the surge from Long Island Sound.

Two days later, when storm waters from Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast, much of Stamford, a city of 124,000, sat securely behind a 17-foot-high barrier that easily blocked an 11-foot surge.

Not a Public Park, but a ‘People-Powered’ One

Bohemia Ecological Preserve in Northern California was created on donated land — now owned by a nonprofit, LandPaths — and it is being maintained by volunteers.

Obama to weigh energy boom, climate change in 2nd term

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will face a two-fold challenge in energy policy in his second term: make good on his promise to act on climate change, while at the same time foster growth in oil and gas production that has spurred jobs and manufacturing.

That could mean a revival of regulations for producing and burning natural gas, coal and oil that had been on hold during the election, and possibly some new rules for hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," the water and chemical-intensive technique used to extract gas and oil from deep within shale beds.

With a "status quo" divided Congress focused on pressing debt and deficit issues, analysts expect Obama to use administrative tools to work toward his election-night vow on climate change.

Undersea Gas Leaks Discovered Off Israel's Coast

Beneath the seafloor in northern Israel's Haifa Bay, a vast system of vents is leaking gassy emissions into the eastern Mediterranean Sea, scientists have discovered. If disturbed, this undersea reserve could disrupt the surrounding marine environment and might even unleash greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Stop Looking For Oil: Writer-Activist Challenges Geologists

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Addressing hundreds of geoscientists here on Sunday (Nov. 4) at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, writer and environmental activist Bill McKibben admonished them to take action on global warming with this unusual advice:

"If you find any more oil, don't tell anybody where it is," he said, half-jokingly, to laughter.

"Geologists have done way too good a job finding coal and oil," McKibben continued. "You could stop with this part of the program," he said, to laughter. "We already have way more than we can safely burn."

Killer Drought Thwarted Maya Comeback

Much has been made of the so-called 2012 Mayan apocalypse. But for the real Maya people, the end of the world came slowly and timed with historic droughts.

A new, ultra-detailed climate record from a cave in Belize reveals Classic Maya civilization collapsed over centuries as rain dried up, disrupting agriculture and causing instability that led to wars and the crumbling of large cities. A final major drought after the political collapse of the Maya may be what kept the civilization from bouncing back.

Australia to sign up to new Kyoto climate commitment, New Zealand out

CANBERRA/WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Australia will sign up to the second round of Kyoto climate commitments, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said on Friday, but the push for global emissions cuts remained divided with New Zealand joining major countries to opt out of the Kyoto scheme.

Good news? Greenland is melting, but less quickly than predicted

In this publication, the American researchers (from the Universities of Colorado, Wyoming and Montana) stress the importance of what is called a 'percolation zone': the meltwater does not immediately join the oceans but infiltrates the empty spaces of the snowpack, then stays there and refreezes in the Winter. This phenomenon does not contradict the predictions of Xavier Fettweis' models but put backs their coming into reality by some ten years or so at most. During this lapse of time Greenland's contribution to the rise of sea levels is, at least in part, compensated by the storing of water in the island's snowpack.

How to Improve Coastal Cities Climate Resilience: A Q&A with Cynthia Rosenzweig

We need to work on this social aspect. I was on a conference call yesterday with a colleague from Bangladesh. He offered to send help because they have a lot of experience dealing with this, especially the social aspects. They've created in Bangladesh an explicit social network around flooding. People know: this is the group of people I'm going to be caring for. People who [live at low elevation] are connected to people who are high. That leads into this mental health aspect. If people feel part of all that, it will help. That's why the volunteering has just been fantastic. New Yorkers are fantastic in terms of their community response. Let's study that more. How can we nurture and strengthen those community mechanisms?

Open Seas

If climate scientists' prophesies of an ice-free Arctic Ocean pan out, the world will witness the most sweeping transformation of geopolitics since the Panama Canal opened. Seafaring nations and industries will react assertively -- as they did when merchantmen and ships of war sailing from Atlantic seaports no longer had to circumnavigate South America to reach the Pacific Ocean. There are commercial, constabulary, and military components to this enterprise. The United States must position itself at the forefront of polar sea power along all three axes.

The OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report is out this morning. Angola increased production by 108 kb/d and Nigeria dropped 110 kb/d. Saudi dropped 54 kb/d and all OPEC was down 67 kb/d to 30,946 kb/d. That is 673 kb/d below their 2012 peak of 31,619 kb/d in April. Their all time peak was in July of 2008 at 31,672 kb/d.

According to OPEC's "secondary sources" Iraq production was down 4.3 kb/d in October but Iraq themselves say, via "direct communication" that they were down 200 kb/d in October verses September.

OPEC Crude Only in kb/d. The last data point is October 2012.

OPEC Crude Only

Ron P.

From the Monthly Oil Market Report (Ron's link above)

Moreover, speculators continue to reduce net long positions from record-high levels seen during the last quarter.

Can anyone here explain what net long positions are? I thought that long and short positions are always in balance in the commodities future markets.

It means Large Trader Net Position Changes.

The Large Trader Net Position Changes data, published by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC or Commission) on June 30, 2011, builds on the CFTC’s efforts to improve market transparency. The data identifies, for a given week, the daily-average aggregate large trader net position changes for 35 futures markets. The report also provides amounts for net position changes using the same large-trader classifications as the Commission’s “Disaggregated Commitments of Traders” reports.

Large traders, mostly hedge funds, are supposed to be a lot smarter than small traders therefore giving us some idea of which way the market will be moving. OPEC was mistaken in using the term "speculators" instead of "large traders". Small traders are the quintessential speculator, even more so than large traders, who usually use computers to calculate their position. The report for petroleum can be found here:
Disaggregated Commitments of Traders-All Futures Combined Positions as of October 30, 2012

Ron P.

There are three classes of traders tracked by the COT.

Speculators are just one and they happen to be net long.

Across all the classes of traders the sum is always zero, so somebody else has to be net short.

Well actually there are four classes Producer/Merchant - Processor/User, Swap Dealers, Managed Money and Other Reportables. The first one would be true hedgers, that is the producers, merchants, and users. The term "hedgers" should not be confused with "hedge funds". That is another animal entirely. You will have to make out from the title what the other three are. But I think "Managed Money" means ETFs but I am not really sure.

WTI Crude
 Processor/User      Swap Dealers               Managed Money            Other Reportables       
Long   Short     Long    Short  Spreading   Long    Short  Spreading  Long    Short  Spreading 
25,160 12,499    28,572  74,217   24,474   8,475      0       482    52,987   15,385     191 

You will notice the first category, hedgers, never use spreads.

Ron P.

And this paper pretty much argues and shows on page 13 that when the speculator or "non-commercial" class is net short the price goes down and when they are long, the price rises.


From my link above: "Disaggregated Commitments of Traders-All Futures Combined Positions as of October 30, 2012", there are two sets of WTI numbers:

Processor/User         Swap Dealers                Managed Money            Other Reportables 
Long    Short     Long    Short  Spreading   Long    Short  Spreading   Long    Short  Spreading
1,920   2,656    24,482  17,959   44,041     5,721   2,272   1,104       430     8,465   4,769 

And these two are categories are the only two listed. Can you tell from this report who are the speculators? I know who the hedgers are but beyond that I am confused.

Ron P.

Opec knows something that MSM, and most everyone else, seems to be unaware of.

OPEC sees coal use increasing in coming decades

OPEC says that fossil fuels will remain the main energy source in the coming decades with coal's share growing and oil's falling.

In its annual World Oil Outlook, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries also projects that a barrel of benchmark crude will cost $155 by 2035, compared with under $100 now.

Implied in this article is that the world oil supply will fall causing an increase in the price of oil and countries will turn to coal as a replacement for high priced oil.

Ron P.


Indeed, that is the most reasonable interpretation.

Which leads to the continued increase of damage to the global climate system for the forseeable future.

Peak Groundhog Day as it were.

Right. The thing that bothers me about climate change, or more particularly, global warming, is that most people, including people on this list, actually believe there is something we can do to slot the process, or even reverse the process. There is not. China will continue to build more coal fired power plants. Almost every nation burns coal for power. We will eventually burn it all.

We will continue to use petroleum until it is all gone. CO2 in the atmosphere is on the increase and we will all argue that the increase will be slowed. But any decrease will be minimal if any at all.

Global warming is just what is happening. We can discuss what we can do to live with the situation and we can talk about the consequences. But as far as stopping the process or even slowing it down, well that is all just wishful thinking.

We are all just observers to the consequences of global warming and peak oil. Observers, that is all. Anyone who thinks they can actually change the situation has visions of grandeur.

But there is something you can do. You can, along with your family, make preparations for the coming catastrophe. You can definitely increase your chances of being among the survivors. But beyond that you are wasting your time, energy and in a few cases, money.

Ron P.

Yes it is bleak since what I think is a necessary but not sufficient condition to prevent widespread civilizational collapse - drastically declining birth rates - is not going to happen despite the bleak economic reality for most.

drastically declining birth rates - is not going to happen

klooless, the 200,000 extra people each day definitely makes the tasks ahead more difficult.

Best hopes for declining birth rates.

Nice to hear a reality based voice. I've learned to skip the "dreams and schemes" comments as well as the "could, should, if we just did, etc" ones. At first I found them amusing, then irritating and now just BS.

And I think any chance of survival, even for the vast majority of the "well-prepared" will be slim and only for a relatively short period. But I will no doubt keep following the situation closely and see if and how it "inspires" me from day to day.

There seem to be more and more preppers preparing for the big adventure and trying to predict what their options will be. Like they will be suddenly foist into some real life action movie or something.

Well I think you can increase your chances of being among the survivors. You might even double them, from say 1% to 2%. :-(

Ron P.

I educate/inform people regarding PO in Belgium and for mitigation use to tell them to team up with your neighbours,community etc . Over a period of time I realised this was not going to happen since you are going to be the only one prepared and the rest of the neighbours would overwhelm as they did nothing .Now I say it is individual . Do your stuff and keep quiet ? But at the end I always say exactly what Ron said .:-(

As someone here said a while back, we have front-row seats at the demise of the greatest civilization in history. Hunker down, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the show.

I don't want to be too negative on my fellow humans but I find the folks participating in Transition Initiatives a bit naive about the way they're taking 'action' and trying to face this head on.

You've made this point a number of times now.

I would just suggest that there are going to be a range of folks in such a gathering, and each locale's group will develop a unique flavor, and may have this blindspot or that, whatever.

It just sounds like you didn't really get on too well with the group you knew.. remember that there will be right answers and wrong ones in any group, or in any solution. (No doubt including TOD) It does little good to tar the whole thing because of some of their faults.

"The cat that walks on a Hot Stove will never walk on a hot stove again.. but it will also never walk on a cold one."

Definitely some frustration coming out jokuhl. I'm probably to blame for most of the disconnect. I will keep trying of course. Probably this weekend. I would like to go into greater depth about this, but if no one has heard of it or has experience with it and how it works generally this won't be a good place for that. But if I can't resist bringing it up again in some way, I hope you understand. The world is already compartmentalized enough.

Although there may be some survivors in, say, 2050, I don't think it is going to be a planet that is worth suviving on. Drowths and extreme weather will just get worse and worse going forward. Those of us in the senior citizen age category are probably the lucky duckies as we will dead before things get unbearable. At least I hope so, though it seems that warming is accelerating beyond the scientists' worst projections. I am not in the least enthusiastic about my daughters having any more children.

I agree tstreet;;; I wonder just how many on this board realize that 2050 is only 38 years away. I was in a repair shop today having some work done on my car, and while waiting for the work to be done, sitting in the office with the girl that works there, I heard a 3 week old infant cry for the first time in many many years. I asked the girl if it was hers and she said yes; I almost cried myself knowing that child would probably never see it's 50th birthday.

Being very long in the tooth myself, I know I will never see it, and probably won't see much of the hardship that is to come, I just feel sorry for those much younger than myself, as most have no idea what is in store for them in the coming years.


Most of humanity, for most of our history, has had to worry about a neighboring tribe raiding them, killing them, stealing their food (almost same thing) or taking some of them as slaves. Or just back to back crop failures.

The risk faced by the young today is no worse than what "could happen" for most of humanity.


A child born in the United States today probably has no worse odds than a child born in Central or Eastern Europe in 1895.

I have another perspective on survivial. Once the poulation starts decline, there will be less and less space to survive in. So we reach say 8 billion when it starts turning down. Once it hit 7 billion again and you are alive,congratulations, you are among the surviviors. Then it sinksto 6 billion. We got 6 billion surviviours. You may be among them too. And so on. But there will not be a lowest number. It will just sink and sink and more and more will draw the loseing ticket in that years die off lottery. There is no lowest number other than zero. So the question is, can you survive your natural life expectancy?

I don't understand your rationale for a population decline to zero.

That eventually, the planet may die.

Eventually, you will be proven correct!

If that's true...I don't take that deal. Not worth it.

These thoughts make all the New Age-y predictions of an "ascension" around 12-21-2012 very attractive!

The whole thing is just a bit of happenstance...

What Happened with the Mayan Calendar

I love that one.

What I do wanna know is what "they" are going to do dec 22, 2012... An embarresing silence or what?

Right. The thing that bothers me about climate change, or more particularly, global warming, is that most people, including people on this list, actually believe there is something we can do to slot the process, or even reverse the process. There is not. China will continue to build more coal fired power plants. Almost every nation burns coal for power. We will eventually burn it all.

Ron, I agree that that seems to be the general plan, at least for now!

However, I think, that what is a huge unknown, is how Climate Change itself, will impact the global economies. I believe it is entirely conceivable that at some point in the not too distant future tipping points might be passed that may well unleash a series of events that could make the current global economic paradigm completely untenable and therefore put huge dents in global energy consumption.

How much coal do you expect China and India to continue burning if there are massive droughts that precipitate widespread famine and die off or if some new extremely virulent mutation of the H5N1 virus starts to decimate the populations of the major Asian countries. Any number of other Black Swan events are certainly imaginable.

So put me in the column of those who are still somewhat skeptical that any decrease in the addition of CO2 to the atmosphere will necessarily be minimal if any at all. It seems to me that the more we burn the higher the likelihood that tipping points leading to dieoff will be reached sooner. Which in turn will lead to drastically less need for burning more... I don't think the we can safely assume that feedback mechanisms of some sort or another won't have a governing impact.

And while agree with your point:

We are all just observers to the consequences of global warming and peak oil. Observers, that is all. Anyone who thinks they can actually change the situation has visions of grandeur.

I can't discount the possibility that change is already in the air, so to speak.

I'm going to bet that the predictions of 9 billion humans by 2040 will not come to pass and if anything we might see a declining population of only about 5 billion severely stressed and debilitated people around the world who will be burning and consuming a lot less of everything.

Of course time will tell and I highly doubt that I will be around to see if I'm right or not >;-)



Fred, I think you misunderstood my point. Perhaps that is my fault for not being more clear. I was, and I am maintaining, that we will do nothing, concerning global warming or peak oil, to prevent a catastrophic collapse. Of course after such a collapse, or after climate change wipes out half the population of India, China and many other places, I expect a dramatic decline in both CO2 dumping and fossil fuel use.

But the effects of peak oil may just cause economies around the world to collapse well before climate change has a chance to do that. At any rate the result will be the same.

Ron P.

"I expect a dramatic decline in both CO2 dumping and fossil fuel use..."

At which point, as particulate emissions decline and the skies begin to clear, global temperatures will spike, the ability of the biosphere to sequester co2 will be severely compromised, ants, gerbils and pond scum will inherit the earth, all because humans needed I-Pods and SUVs. Seems plausible..

I put my potsherd on Fred's side of the scale. Don't forget the Pearl Harbor Possibility- a whole herd of standard middle class Romney voters get whacked by whatever in what standard city, and that makes everybody else jump up off their lounger and yell "we gotta do something big and quick".

and then we do something big and quick, just like we did then. And the rest of the world sees what we did and does it.

No way, you say? I don't believe it. Like many other hardware guys around here I see too many ways to do things now, not later. A little leadership and a lot of example go a long way.

Anyhow, we are having a meeting in our little town on how to do just that, and I have been astounded to see how many people around here had already done what I had been thinking about urging them to do.

Pull their money, if they have any, out of the market and into the town (energy retrofit, etc), go for solar in a big, cooperative way, think about how to get around without exxon, and (hoots of derision coming on this one) volunteer to act as if everything carries its full price. Like, for example, $10/gallon gasoline.

meeting on thursday, we shall see.

and then we do something big and quick, just like we did then. And the rest of the world sees what we did and does it.

Oh yes, I am sure that will happen. We will convert all our cars to battery or natural gas and then we will shut down all our coal powered power plants. Half the country will be in the dark but only for a few years until we figure out something else. The Chinese will follow our lead just as they always have done. Then the Indians will do likewise, along with Japan and all the rest of Asia. Russia will do the same and emissions will be cut in half in just a year or two.


Ron P.

Ron, I'm very grateful for the data that you post, I've learned a great deal from your contributions to this site. As a junior member of this community, I am always reluctant to offer doubt or criticism to people who have been following these issues, and doing the hard work and the science (and the math), for so long.

Having said that, I have to wonder... do you really think it's constructive to relentlessly remind us-- like, twice a week, in multiple posts-- that changing human behavior in a meaningful way is completely impossible, and that catastrophe is inevitable even if it weren't?

It's not as if the only two alternatives are happy talk and abject despair. I just do not see quite enough evidence to support the general conclusion that human behavior is quite so predictable.

Where I work, I see people quit smoking, quit drinking, quit crystal meth, and change all kinds of maladaptive behavior, from obsessions with internet porn to domestic violence. And I've seen that even start to go viral... though usually, it sputters out and dies, and I certainly take the general point that things are looking... pretty bleak right now.

Based on what I see with my own eyes every day, I can't believe it's impossible to drop the birth rate dramatically in a short period of time. To get through the bottleneck. No, we have not figured out how to do it yet. I just don't think it's an insane, crazy idea that should be immediately discounted.

Every now and then, I just have to say this: I'm not buying into the hopelessness, the despair. I don't-- quite-- see the evidence for it, and I'm not sure it's really helping.



There is "Rolling Boulders Downhill".

What people WANT can dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

30% today (40+% tomorrow) want to live in TOD with 1/4th the carbon emissions of Suburbia.

The market is moving truck to rail. With gov't help the railroads can electrify. 20 BTUs of diesel > 1 BTU of electricity (some % renewable).

Just build bike lanes and people come.

People want lower electric bills.


After my story about having a party in my house even with small batteries and Leds my community is seriously considering solar energy and backup. We were lucky that our
Community building basically had power the whole time and so could be used as a refuge
for recharging cell-phones, laptops, my own small batteries, and heat. Also when I mentioned my efforts to get a solar carport as the first solar powered residence in our wooded community everybody cheered. Most people had not thought of a solar carport if their roof did not have sufficient sun.

Some influential people in my community will probably see that this happens now.

So yes as the US from 1942-1945 cut car production to 300 cars per year and quadrupled public transit, so similar things can be done very quickly in the affluent USA with the political will.

Congratulations !!


Quite a bit of good (awareness > action) can come this short period.

best Hopes !


"Don't forget the Pearl Harbor Possibility- a whole herd of standard middle class Romney voters get whacked by whatever in what standard city, and that makes everybody else jump up off their lounger and yell "we gotta do something big and quick"."

Not choosing your post in particular, but I often see people post ideas about a "WWII Mobilization" to address climate change.

Last night I happened to watch a documentary about the production of the Wellington Bomber in WWII at a factory in Wales, UK. Its worth putting into perspective what such a "WWII Mobilization" involved.

Firstly, they were being attacked by the air with all sorts of munitions, such that houses were being blown up, factories destroyed and innocent people killed - every night. That's some motivation right there.

Secondly, the austerity measures proposed by some nations at the moment, much to the protestations of their citizens, look fairly mild by comparison. The documentary showed mostly women assembling aircraft on 12 hour shifts day in day out. Toilet breaks were a strict 6 minutes, doctors/dentists were at the factory so that workers didn't have to go off-site. All food and goods, what little there was, could only be obtained (legally) by coupon rationing, no matter what income. One could argue that it was all achieved under bare, sustenance conditions.

Thirdly, a lot of the materials were procured from the USA via merchant shipping and paid for out of gold bullion reserves.

I just cant see how in today's world that 1) there is the necessary motivation and 2) how enough people would be willing to make the necessary adjustments/sacrifices to enable such a low-cost, dedicated and disciplined workforce and 3) where the capital required would come from.

So in my mind, I am deeply skeptical about "WWII Mobilization" in today's age.
I think slow transition (decades) is much more realistic, but by then it may be too late.

It doesn't work that way, resource depletion/AGW is a different kind of monster. As animals we are very well equipped to deal with problems like WWII, which sort of breaks down into "another tribe is attacking us, let's get together and fight". The only equivalent analogy I can find is the ban on CFC's. But there it worked because the problem got fixed in a short period of time, PO/AGW will require a complete change in lifestyle for decades and even then a lot of damage is baked in, nothing can be done to reverse it, and when people don't see any immediate rewards they will say, "what the hell, this is not working", I am going back to BAU.

Our brains are simply not equipped to deal with this, our lifespan doesn't help either.

It's worse than that because attempting to solve the problem generally means "losing competitiveness" - driving up energy costs, buying less, selling less, etc (the things that are currently defining wealth) - while building planes to go bomb the people that are trying to kill you definitely increases your competitiveness. CFC's had an easy technical fix with no social engineering required.

Nate Hagens - Navigating through a Room full of Elephants

The northern European nations appear to be doing quite well.

In my upcoming webinar I will talk about how other transportation paradigms reduce the cost of transportation - which makes a nation more competitive.

It is hard to see how higher levels of insulation, more efficient heating (CHP), greater use of bicycles, etc. make a nation less competitive.


In any event, there needs to be a recognition that survival trumps competitiveness and the invidious comparison of who has the most toys. But we are a short sighted mammal.

You, I, and the rest of TOD are aware of these things...but in the US it's the "Holy GDP" and stock market that grab the headlines - which in turn mesmerize the president and leaders of companies, who spend billions of monetary units on advertising convincing everyone else that happiness comes from purchasing cheap crap. So pervasive it is that they practically salivate when a tornado levels a town, or hurricane devastates a coastline - GDP boost! Woot woot! It is beside the point whether the economy is leading to contentment and healthy, happy lives among the populace so long as the 1% and political class are raking in cash.

"The only equivalent analogy I can find is the ban on CFC's."

Its not a good analogy because the scale of CFC usage was miniscule compared to oil. CFCs were readily replaced because there were other cost effective alternatives available in abundance.

"PO/AGW will require a complete change in lifestyle for decades"

So you are agreeing that "WWII Mobilization" is not likely, but instead a transition taking decades ?

Well, I'm sorry, guys, but this thread is just too reminiscent of the 'Consultation of Doubting Engineers' who are all harumphing about what is impossible and how they can best validate their postulates..

Like Wimbi said elsewhere on this Drumbeat, there's enough that can be done, and there are enough positive surprises that people can throw at you that I don't find much benefit in coming at the problem with 'Here's how it's impossible'

For me, even if the exact mechanisms are unknown, I don't have any inclination to introduce that much friction into the design before anything else is even in place.

Particularly when it comes to sussing out 'what the Human Brain is wired for' ... we're very good at misinforming ourselves about what we've found and thought we found when looking in the mirror.

"For scientific leadership, give me Scott; for swift and efficient travel, Amundsen; but when you are in a hopeless situation, when there seems to be no way out, get on your knees and pray for Shackleton."

It's a good day to die!

Like Wimbi said elsewhere on this Drumbeat, there's enough that can be done, and there are enough positive surprises that people can throw at you that I don't find much benefit in coming at the problem with 'Here's how it's impossible'

Optimism is an evolutionary response wired into our brain, however it doesn't change reality. It also doesn't mean that I am sitting on my hands doing nothing. There's a philosophy called doing something even if it won't amount to anything because you must do it, if only to make things easier for others. Like a soldier firing his pistol at an incoming tank. It's a part of Hindu-Buddhist-Oriental philosophy.
Everyone should make efforts at preparing and spreading awareness, I am building a model Stirling engine right now, I plan to show it to my colleagues in office. Also in pipeline are projects like bike powered generator, hand crank radios along with teaching people how to conserve energy.

My colleague from Israel tells of running up to tanks and throwing big glass jugs of gasoline at the diesel engine air inlets.

My colleague from Hungary tells of city streets and dinner plates. The plates were made to look like anti-tank mines.

The people throwing jugs and laying plates improved their clan's odds.

Throwing a wine bottle full of gasoline with a flaming rag stuffed in the neck onto the engine deck was a standard way of destroying invading tanks in WWII. Throwing it out an upstairs window was the standard delivery method. It made cities one of the most dangerous environments for tanks because anybody who could drop a bottle of gasoline on a tank could destroy it. Most tanks back then had gasoline engines so they lit up like bonfires.

When the Russian tanks drove into Berlin, they drove THROUGH the buildings because driving down the streets was too dangerous.

Soldiers had more options. Sticky bombs and satchel charges were popular. The biggest German tank in WWII was probably the 100-ton Elephant, but it was a sitting duck because it was too slow and had no machine gun. The Allied tanks would just drive around it out of main gun range, and the following troops would take it out with satchel charges. They couldn't keep the soldiers off it, and if soldiers could get on it, they could destroy it.

Nowadays the soldiers have rocket launchers and the civilians have IEDs, so cities are even more dangerous for tanks.

You wouldn't even need the flaming rag...unless there's some form of emergency over-speed throttle a diesel engine that's ingesting vaporized fuel will rev uncontrollably until something breaks.

There seems to be have been two different strategies. One is the 1940's Molotov Cocktail: to drive the crew out with fire. The other description comes from the late 1960's.

In the 2000's, the self forging fragment based improvised explosive device attacks are favored.

Behind Armour Effects of Explosively Formed Projectiles

"The EFP Threat
Explosively formed projectile (EFP) warheads (also known as self forging fragments), commonly
found in conventional anti-tank weapons, are regularly being used with devastating effect by
insurgent forces against allied troops in Iraq and Afghanistan... behind armour debris or spall is generated and projected from all but the thickest or complex armours, even in the absence of armour perforation."

Just like Optimism and Hope, Despair and Dread are also responses that are part of our brains' function/disfunction, and can easily trip people up before they even try to help themselves, or to try to join with others to figure out the leverage possible with group responses to greater problems.

Many of us will dive into our childhood modes of angst that has us crying "I CAN'T! - It's too Hard! - I tried once and it NEVER works!" , and while we have some capacity to drag ourselves back out of that habituated helplessness, it gets that much harder when the 'experts' out there are telling us to get back to our TV shows, because 'Studies show that It's Too Hard, It never really works, and why bother?'

I'm glad you have projects you're doing and sharing, and I don't mean to ask you or anyone to limit your comments to 'cheery' news.. but there was just a string of Generalities up there that were far too self-assured in their round dismissal of any useful paths forward, and I think that such continuous barrages of verbal friction are just as unhelpful as their counterparts in the excesses of cornucopianism.

Best hopes for Balance, and for the survival of Best Hopes!

It's not like I think there isn't any other possible outcome, I am not so arrogant as to think that what I think will happen for sure, but my study leads me to believe that it's the most likely outcome given history. I also hope humanity will learn from this bottleneck event and make better progress in future. So that's how I look at it.

"I just cant see how in today's world that 1) there is the necessary motivation and 2) how enough people would be willing to make the necessary adjustments/sacrifices to enable such a low-cost, dedicated and disciplined workforce and 3) where the capital required would come from.'

"They are as the sons of rich men, unable to endure pain, or resist pleasure"

In other words, a bunch of effete sissies. Ok, they're doomed. Now, us people who know how to fix a leaky faucet will get together and do it. It being what needs to be done.

Of course, we are gonna be overwhelmed by the doomed sissies, so we had better find a place they wouldn't want to be.


I know a lot of people who are at least as good at fixing faucets as I am, and some of them even remember pearl harbor. I'm not the only one, after all, plenty of people are older and healthier than I am.

And as for capital, get it from quitting the silliness that eats it up now.

No, you're not the only one!

"I know a lot of people who are at least as good at fixing faucets as I am, and some of them even remember pearl harbor."

Hi wimbi, my post was not directed at you.
Clearly you are someone who leads by example.

While, at the end of the day, you are probably correct, I think that people will sacrifice to a certain extent if they know that it is shared equally and that the system is fair and enforced. We are a long way from shared sacrifice equally in America and cannot seem to get the rich to pay a few percent more over $250 K to address what most people feel is a dangerous deficit even if there are cuts in the budget that outweigh the tax increases.

A rational person who believes fervently that AGW is a disaster will not likely make any real personal sacrifices if he/she believes that other people are not making equivalent sacrifices. This requires government intervention that enforces cutbacks through direct regulation, rationing, or high carbon taxes. While taxes might go some way to having an impact, they are still unfair in the sense that the rich will simply absorb the taxes and consume as they always have.

In order to have an impact, we would have to change the ethic to keeping up with the Joneses to keeping down with the Joneses. Maybe there is a glimmer of hope in the fact that the Prius is now the largest selling brand in California. But that is not really the kind of sacrifice we are talking about here.

At lower emisions rates, I think bacause of the inertia in the climate system, the tipping points will be encountered at lower CO2 concentrations (and more crucially lower in reservoirs that communicate with the atmosphere like the oceans), so slower means somewhat less ultimate damage. Aside from that whats required is a way to put the carbon off limits -or to store it in some nonuseful geologic form (carbonates perhaps). Again lower rates make that a bit easier to do. So push for lower rates....

I have given up the idea we can do anything to stop it long time ago. Other than eco-terrorism - wich I will not touch with asbest gloves mounted on a long stick - there is no options than to watch it unfold. Something I have said for at least a few years.

Global warming is just what is happening. We can discuss what we can do to live with the situation and we can talk about the consequences. But as far as stopping the process or even slowing it down, well that is all just wishful thinking.

Sorry I was away when this DB was current.

I'll just note that there are probably any number of physically-possible ways to quickly curtail additional heating and acidification CO2/methane damage to the planet. There are just no nice, polite, democratic ways. A distinction which may be worth making with a world at stake.

as usual, just saying.

There are ways for us humans to stop our direct CO2 emissions via burning fossil fuels, greenish, true, destructive as those would be to society. However, there are a number of natural feedbacks which very possibly might have obtained a life of their own and be irreversible at this point. Methane release from the arctic seafloor, bogs and tundra is one. Loss of boreal forest, and conversion of a massive CO2 sink into a source as the dead trees oxidize is another. Ditto the Amazon rainforest. Collapse of arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice cap(and exchanging the albedo of ice for that of open water or land) are two more. These things are happening right now, with the planet at its current temperature. So I'll agree with you partially: we have the power to curtail our CO2 emissions. But much damage remains to be done by the CO2 we've already emitted.

Gotta jump in here after the confluence of these last three comments. Not pointing fingers or anything, just using the juxtaposition to ask some questions. Agramante says there may be processes set in motion that are beyond our control. I agree. Greenish says there are probably not nice, impolite, undemocratic ways to stop C02/methane damage. I agree - at least with the directly human caused part, note agramante's point. Jedi says eco-terrorism is off the table. I must ask why? If the health of the planet, the possibility of human (possibly any) life going forward is in jeopardy, why is anything off the table? Not saying I'm ready to take steps Jedi isn't (maybe I am...), but why would we take it off the table? We're killing the planet - its ability to support life. Seems any measure to reverse that should be reasonable. But I don't think we'll do what's necessary, and instead will go silently into the long, dark night. Someone posted here recently a link to the A.C. Clarke story 'The Nine Billion Names of God'. Thanks to whomever it was. Yes, stars blinking out without fanfare. Metaphorically speaking, that's where consumer culture is taking us. What would you do to stop it? What would I? What should anyone? Just askin'.


I'm certainly not calling for eco-terrorism, whatever that is. Other than a useful catch-phrase for those who like BAU, I'm not even sure what one of those eco-terrorists would be. I have been one of the most direct & controversial enviro's in the world by a number of measures, but neither I nor any other pro-earth advocate or activist I've run into has ever wished to cause terror. Well, maybe the Unabomer, I never did exactly get his rationale... but he hasn't attracted legions of followers.

Of course, even a dry reading and basic understanding of the earth's current situation will induce terror in a sufficiently-rational person who cares about the future of their world, and I'm a former high school teacher, so I suppose terror is one possible result of some of my actions, but it certainly isn't an end in itself.

Eco-terrorism is an interesting idea - near as I can tell, it doesn't exist, it's just on the christmas wish-list of those favoring a more heavy-handed policy against the minority who are literate yet not apathetic. I've heard it said that the next big security challenge is supposed to be eco-terrorists. I wonder where and who they are, you'd think I'd know them already. Since i don't, I think maybe these proto-boogie-men are - if they exist at all - in the gestation stage, as Bin Laden and his pals were for awhile, maybe CIA funded and waiting in the wings to be a straw-man just in case some misguided wacko with a 350.org t-shirt doesn't get it together make a pipe bomb fast enough for the "shock doctrine" folks.

(Could be. I've seen a suitcase full of CIA money, have you folks? There's a lot that happens on the fringes.)

Now to me, eco-terrorism might be a good name for what is going on around us... the destruction of the world, the ecology; the terrorizing and destruction of wild fauna. Too logical. It's like trying to reclaim the word "conservative" based on what it originally meant. I am a conservative by those original definitions. What could be more conservative than not wishing to see the world and one's species destroyed?

Yes, it may be the case that we have already done too much, and that positive feedbacks will take over, that we cannot halt what we have started. But we both can't know that, nor do we have a right to assume it. That's just too convenient, too much of a self-indulgence, to jump right from doing nothing to "oh well, it's impossible, it's too late". It might NOT be impossible, and that's the only ethical position to take. What if we're wrong, what have we wasted? Our time? Big loss.

I once heard of a woman who came to building begging for help; and a man she didn't know tied her to a table, and cut her breasts off. A terrible fiend, certainly. Except if you read it as a story about a woman with breast cancer going to a gifted surgeon, he's a miracle life-saver. Context and intent do matter.

We have ridden the green revolution's upslope to the top of the biggest roller-coaster hill, constructed brittle just-in-time infrastructure to feed and protect ourselves, and already have a mass extinction of other species well underway, along with a lot of global heat forcing and ocean enslime-ment already baked into the cake. We have willfully/ignorantly taken ourself to a predicament which has no nice answers, and certainly no deep answers nice enough for any extant human democracy not to violently oppose them.

So does that entitle one species to just say "well, that's it, no nice solutions, game over" and quit? Or does is just turn it into a situation in which sober adults must arise from somewhere to choose between bad, terrible, and horrific alternatives?

For at this point, the only prevention of horrific is likely to be terrible, and the only prevention of the terrible is going to seem pretty bad. We are now in the domain of the cancer surgeon; of cutting, of high toxicity therapy that nearly kills the host while it's killing the problem, of radiation doses which would be insane in another context.

We have gotten ourselves here in a bit of a tra-la-la way. As it happens, tra-la-la won't continue to cut it, even if it's all our current "leadership" can do.

We'll all live to see Bill McKibben called an eco-terrorist by idiots, IF he ever does anything that will actually keep carbon in the ground, which hasn't actually happened yet and may not.

But the real choices are a lot more stark than what he's doing. They're more choices in the nature of those posed in the movie "Fail-safe" (just popped into my head, but a recommended watch if you haven't seen it).

With no gods or beneficent aliens around to be loving parents and fix our problems, we'll either develop some sort of non-democratic avenues for adult decision-making, or we'll likely doom ourselves and much of what we love about earth. Those adults, should they happen along, will not be popular. We will kill them and drag their bodies through the streets.

Yet if and when that decision-making is done, it will be to minimize terror and suffering, and for the love of the idea of a future with human children and wild things in it.

Just a few thoughts on a dead drumbeat.

Thx for the lengthy response. Too bad few others will see it. I guess the pt. of my query is that 'tra-la-la' ain't gonna cut it, so we should be doing any and everything else that we can to stop the destruction. As you say, eco-terrorism is a better term for BAU...

Since I introduced the termin this thread, eco-terrorism is terror acts to stop ecological destruction. One target could be to blast Ras Tanura off the map. Something I've been speculating about a lot. But what would happen? Poeverty and death counting in many millions. Possibly WWIII? And how much of the enviornment would it save? Probably marginal gains. Possibly even negative. There are no clear target here.

Well, I'm sure "eco-terrorism" is a subject the site owners would just as soon not have discussed. But I would like to put it in perspective since you bring it up.

Any interventions should IMO be done out of love for the earth and its species, and with a good understanding of systems.

Blowing stuff up is generally a poor idea, despite the huge fraction of our GDP devoted to just that capability, and the ready availability of means. I have no doubt that there are many groups, and no few nations, who have spitballed the idea of blowing up Ras Tanura. Perhaps some which would surprise us.

I prefer working with means that are more powerful. That can be dangerous, of course. A former house-mate of mine was murdered by French commandos for committing to a well-publicized trip to photo-document their pacific nuke testing zone. Nice guy, just wanted to try to do good in the world. Boom, dead. His photos were something that eco-terrorists feared, so they blew him up with limpet mines & got a heroes' welcome in their home nation. His food was still in my refrigerator.

When another eco-terrorist set fire to hundreds of oil wells and booby-trapped them with explosives, after running pipelines to the sea to flood the gulf with oil, the region was shut down to information flow, and the USA-UK-Kuwait top-level decision was to lock up the information so that US and UK firms would secure the exclusive contracts to "clean it up", despite the fact that would take many years. My teams shut down some of the flowing oil, deployed oil booms in habitats, cleared paths through mine fields, and got international media into the area to actually allow eco-terrorism to be deal with rather than accommodated as a business profit source. My staff were in danger of death many times, but we managed to steer things in such a way as to put Kuwait's leaders into a tough position, and got the cleanup opened to international teams. This was very risky stuff, too, on other levels, some of our senior team members wondered if we'd all wind up shot for thwarting players at that level. We were the ones operating without credentials. So who were the eco-terrorists... the folks who blew up the wells in the first place, their former allies and poison-gas suppliers, the leaders who agreed to let the oil flow and fires vent to maximize the profit by US and UK firms... or us? We were the only ones not credentialed as legitimate in some conventional way.

I have never convincingly been called an eco-terrorist, though I have heard it from time to time, like the N-word. When we busted Japan's international organized crime trade of endangered whale species by infiltrating their nation with scientists and suitcase DNA labs, I was so labeled by their PR firm. And they were already on record saying so when I ended their driftnet fleets some years earlier. Indeed, they only stopped calling me the ET word when they decided to start implying I was the leader of a covert US government group. Not the case. I seriously messed with the Yakuza on that one, in a huge scandal that involved major firms and stretched back decades, nor was that the first or last such encounter. D'you know that when the USSR fell, it was revealed that it and Japan had colluded in taking every whale available, keeping double books and wiping out species in many areas? Those same Japan firms, and same management teams, escaped any censure and are still doing fine. So apparently messing with corporation-backed organized crime is eco-terrorism in some nations. There were reportedly a lot of people with tattoos and missing pinkie fingers highly annoyed at me. (see why I'm surprised to still be alive at 62?)

I have set in motion the high-profile invasion of other nations which were doing arguably eco-terrorist stuff. I've run spy networks, for lack of a better term, in parts of the world where the folks involved would have been shot if discovered. I've planned expeditions in which I expected to probably die, though I've never lost a life on any of the campaigns I created and directed. My career has been devoted to responding to eco-terrorism and learning the means to deep power, which are difficult for humans to see.

So I'll keep my own counsel on what "eco terrorism" might be. I can say that it's a damn bad idea, either as practiced by major nations to ensure BAU, or by well-meaning activists. Eco-terrorism is a totalitarian wet dream, a straw man waiting in the wings to fill the same niche that "witches" filled in Salem.

just a sunday-morning ramble.

Snag Greer's Spiritual Ecology of the Earth for some holiday reading. In a different walk of life Greer could have been a Greenish.

I understand your point. If the question is "would I sac 1/4 of earth to save 3/4 when all of it was at stake" I would definately do so. But that option is not avilable. I have no clear shots. If I did have a chance on a low damage/high saving act, I would endorse it. But I could just as well kill people and property while accelrating the planetary destruction. This path is as risky as geo engineering. I don't want to hold responsibility for that.

China will continue to build more coal fired power plants.

Or not.


Professor Garnaut said China had exceeded its ambitious emissions targets, cutting coal-fired generation by more than 7 per cent in the past year. A rapid expansion in hydroelectricity, and wind, biomass, solar and nuclear power, had pushed down coal's share of energy production from 85 to 73 per cent.

Its been happening for the best part of a decade already.

Coal starting to shoot up coinciding with oil stagnating is where I mark peak oil, and it happened in about 2005.

Check out the chart of global coal use in the Coal Post also currently up here on The Oil Drum. Figure 1. It's only going up, but since 2000 it's going straight up.

Is it not "the end of the world" as we know it?

Yes, peak oil is forcing us to regress back into the coal age. When coal runs out I guess we'll regress to using whale oil!

OPEC World Oil Output 2012 Section One: Oil supply and demand outlook to 2035 [PDF, large]

Page 67 predicts a rise in Total Liquids to 107.5 mbpd in 2035. Page 69 predicts that worldwide crude production will remain on its current plateau till 2035, with Other Liquids providing all of the Total Liquids growth.

Thanks for the link. Eyeballing figure 1.30 on page 69, they are predicting OPEC crude to grow by about 1.5 mb/d and non-OPEC to grow by about .5 mb/d in the 2010-2020 time frame. And during the next 15 years they are expecting OPEC crude to grow by about 4 mb/d and non-OPEC crude to decline by 5 mb/d.

Looking at figure 1.29 on page 68, which includes both OPEC and non-OPEC, they are expecting about 80% of the growth in 2010-2020 time frame to be in "non crude". That is a 2 mb/d increase in crude and an 8 mb/d increase in "non crude". The are predicting a decline in total crude during the next 15 years of almost 1 mb/d but an increase in "non crude" of almost 11 mb/d.

Ron P.

Speaking of coal, anyone have an estimated price per gallon for CTL? Is the price point competitive in a desperate world for more liquid fuels to convert coal to liquids? It would clean our climate change clocks, but just wondering if the world economy could trudge that direction.

I would guess $2 per gallon for CTL diesel, however wholesale diesel prices are under $3 per gallon and when an operation like Shell Pearl costs $20 billion, you need some real assurances before investing. Pearl GTL gets its natural gas for free from the host country then they take a cut of the profits.

Chinese Firm to Build Coal-to-Liquids Plant in Wyoming

Gasoline alternative: Synthetic diesel heralds a new era for coal

"...(an interested party) argues that diesel can be produced – including the costs of tax and carbon dioxide sequestration – and delivered to Adelaide for about 80 cents a litre. That compares with a prevailing retail price of $1.40. Previous studies have suggested that coal-to-liquids projects being uneconomic unless the oil price remains above the level of $45-$50 a barrel, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science."

"But plans by the Chinese government to expand coal-to-liquids production have been held back in part because of concerns over the large water consumption required in coal liquefaction’s chemical processes – estimated by some to be as much as eight gallons for each gallon produced."

Coal properties critical when determining suitable gasification technology for CTL

"The future of coal-to-liquids (CTL) in South Africa and in the Southern Africa region is good, given the area’s considerable coal reserves, which are estimated at between 28-billion tons and 33-billion tons..."

SRI International Develops a New Coal To Liquid Fuel Process

"The cost per gallon for the SRI diesel fuel product is calculated at $2.81. That’s still higher than FTS at $2.14"

Ron, this coal story may yet force me to rethink my most likely scenario, but for now I'm sticking to the idea that the drop in oil production will force conservation much faster than it will facilitate substitution, especially in the critical area of transportation. You have prompted me to research further, though. Thanks.

I'm in the odd position, at least here on TOD, of being a conservative who tries to convince my liberal (and conservative) friends of what is ahead. The reactions of both my liberal and conservative friends are almost exactly the same: we have plenty of oil coming on line and the economy is going to be great as long as the (insert favorite political party) is in charge. In four years I have yet to change a single person's thinking in this area.

The best case scenario actually appears to be the "shark fin" on the production curve, with the production shortfall forcing enough conservation (by economic means) that we simply don't extract and burn enough additional fossil fuels to trigger the worst environmental and climate impacts. I'm including here things like acid levels in the oceans, not just changes in temperature or climate alone. Such an abrupt change seems to be the only way for society to change attitudes about land use, public transit, personal mobility, or sustainability in general.

Strauss and Howe in their prophetic vision The Fourth Turning predicted in 1997 the crisis level we would reach in the middle of the first decade of the new century. Everything continues to line up as they foresaw using history and generational patterns. Assuming we reach the production peak with unconventional crude oil sources by 2014-2017, we will be on target for a tectonic shift in society prior to 2025. Things like high speed rail and massive solar projects will have to give way to an expansion of Amtrak and inland wind farms. We will simply not have the time or the resources to do otherwise. The old order, from cheap energy to expensive entitlement programs, will all vanish in a matter of months.

$155 by 2035

Hmm . . . I'd guess a little higher due to increased demand from China. And much will depend on if a lot of other places like the 'tight' oil in North Dakota are found in other parts of the world. If there is a lot more of that, I guess we are just ratcheting up the resource pyramid a bit. Society continues on but the USA just becomes a bit more like Europe with higher MPG cars.

Interesting take on acceptable level of risk in oil extraction:

Some Thoughts

Local gasoline prices in New York & New Jersey are being artificially kept below their "market clearing" price - the price where lines of desperate motorists (and generator owners) would disappear. I suspect that price is well north of $10/gallon.

I predict that the ride down post-Peak Oil will not be smooth. It will not follow the smooth curves so favored here, but oil availability will look more like the sawtooth of the stock market. Relief & crunch in cycle after cycle.

For most Americans, even in the suburbs surrounding New York City, there is no alternative to "Drive Everywhere to Everything". Hence the desperation - this is SURVIVAL in their eyes.

And so my push to create oil free alternatives that people can turn to in the "crunch" phase of oil supply.

One step is simply public awareness - most Americans simply cannot conceive of alternative transportation modes providing a workable alternative.

More Later,


oil availability will look more like the sawtooth of the stock market. Relief & crunch in cycle after cycle.

And the stock market crunch that some expect in 2013 starting now already ?

Keep doing what you do, Alan. If there is a viable path forward, it's through yours and similar efforts.

I suspect that price is well north of $10/gallon.

AlanfromBigEasy, I don't think it would be that high.
I think something around $7.50 (double current price) would be more likely.
What do other people think?

If I had a generator, and only expected to pay that price a couple of times before the crisis is over, I'd be willing to pay more than $10. Especially if I look at the price of fuel - a few gallons for the crisis, versus the capital cost I sank into having the generator in the first place ten bucks a gallon doesn't sound too steep.

The neighbor says he has spent more on gas than the food in the fridge and freezer was worth.

I did that after Charley. Not knowing when the power will come back on makes the decision to stop difficult once you have started.

Those with generators after Isaac might run them 3 times/day. Say late morning (window a/c), mid-afternoon and at dusk (say 1.5 to 3 hours each time). Enough time to run frig & freezer, listen to news, and run window a/c.

The ability to keep reasonably cool set these times with mid-afternoon being the 3 hour run.


Yes, but if he has heat and lights, is that the important part? More significantly, what does his wife say?

I would be more tempted to pitch the food and hook up the generator to the blower on the gas furnace instead. Assuming that I trusted the generator to generate power that is clean enough so that it doesn't blow out the circuits..

Start cooking the food and sell it in a garage sale. In Kenna we had some chips start to defrost so we cooked them and sold them to the neighbours.


Living out of an ice-chest, one runs into the same situation: the ice costs at least as much as the food... even if you know how to run the ice-chest (keep the ice on a smooth shelf up out of the draining pool of water). Superinsulation, 8" of insulation all around, helps a lot.

In my neighborhood? $20/gallon. TINA

Sandy and the East Coast's experience have been informative. This is what more and more of the USA will look like going forward. An intelligent path forward would be to prepare a plan for 'next time'.

Anyone want to bet whether we formulate a response for next time, or simply extend, pretend, and deny?

The majority of people will realize the cheapest solution: get larger or more gasoline cans for storage. To prevent gumming up, empty the gasoline can into your car's fuel tank every year and refill the gasoline can.

Always start with ethanol-free gasoline.

Our local airport has a credit-card operated 100LL avgas (dyed blue) pump. Aviation regulations set the shelf life at one year, but for non-critical uses it is probably 10 times that. No ethanol to absorb water, and 20x the lead content as leaded automotive gas, although claimed to be low lead!

I use it in my current chainsaw, after the old one overheated and seized on what turned out to be 20% ethanol+water (on the baby bottle shake test). Not to accuse anyone of intentionally adding water to their gas to increase profits, but at least you know that can't be done when there is no ethanol content.

Not happy about the lead fumes, but I hopefully get more from the small planes constantly buzzing overhead.

Note: Do not put leaded gas into a fuel-injected car - it will ruin the oxygen sensor.

I would cycle the gasoline into the car more than once a year because gasoline doesn't have a shelf life of a year. My father used to repair lawnmowers, and every spring we would get a flood of burned out lawnmowers from people starting them up with old gasoline still in the tanks. The same thing happened with chainsaws.

What happens is that as the gasoline sits in storage the lighter fractions evaporate off, and only the heavier fractions are left. The old gasoline burns too hot and eats holes in the pistons and cyclinder heads, and it gums up the rings and valves, too. In addition, it frequently collects water from condensation.

I would cycle the gasoline into the car about once a month. Just make it a regular maintenance procedure. Change the oil in the generator every year if it's a 4-stroke, and start it up a couple of times a year and run it until its good and hot to keep it healthy, too. Otherwise it will corrode into unusability.

Is that price idea calculated, or is it a gut feeling?

I think gas price has enough emotional factors built into it that the going numbers are really going to be arbitrary in the end..

Is that price idea calculated, or is it a gut feeling?

jokuhl, my figure of $7.50 per gallon was based on the gut feeling that a doubling of the price would result both in more incentive for product to be shipped into the affected area and an incentive for some of the people to fillup outside the affected area.

Fair enough, and as it goes, I think an American Public even seeing gas get up there (despite still coming short of european prices today, that they would both Howl in outrage, but also many more start to run for the exits, (EV's, Bikes, Transit, Walkable Commutes, ..)

In any case, I feel we're all just surmising and wondering what it would take to send a more frank realization out into the US street, no? If we saw Stations start to put $7's up there, I think the 'new' conversations would be already well under way.. here's hoping.

Trust the man with the star!

If we saw Stations start to put $7's up there, I think the 'new' conversations would be already well under way.. here's hoping.

jokuhl, I agree.

Best hopes for more fully appreciating the value of gasoline.

Actually that is the tragedy. New Jersey has enormous options to use Green Transit as the most densely populated State, and more densely populated than China with 996 miles of Rail. But my Rail line is still NOT running nor is there any substitute bus service even though it is used by thousands of riders. Gov Christie and NJ DOT does not care about Green Transit only cars and gasoline access even when last week there were hours long gas lines. On the other hand NYC has taken this very seriously :


New York Subway Repairs Border ‘on the Edge of Magic’

All New Jersey(nee YORK!) Transit can do is add buses to get to New YORK not New JERSEY even though New Jersey has thousands of jobs and reverse commuters.
We also have hundreds of private school students who rely on the trains to get to school. I know at least 1 school delayed reopening because the trains are not running. This is a disgrace!

Several thoughts:

Living on the Gulf Coast and having dealt with disruptions from numerous storms it's easy to understand the frustration of the folks in New England. And perhaps the MSM is hyping some of the stories ("The...mayor of this township...has had people shoving her at the post office, screaming at her at the firehouse and banging on her car window as she drives by"). And perhaps some govt officials made promises that anyone understanding the magnitude of the problems would never have offered. And perhaps the folks complaining that they haven't seen an electric repair truck in their neighborhood yet also don't appreciate the magnitude of the destruction.

But this may also be a model of how folks are not prepared to deal with some of the PO realities we might be facing in the future. The damage from the storm came very quickly and, although it seems painfully slow to those folks right now, much of the recovery of services will also come fairly soon. But in the future as the decline of BAU continues to slowly creep into our society the "fixes" may also be very slow (if at all) to evolve. Again, it's difficult to tell from afar thru the MSM filter how most folks are really reacting. But I wonder if the divide between what folks expect for help from the various govt agencies and what they are actually able to deliver is wider than many of us expect.

And: "Canadian energy companies...will likely benefit from the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama, who analysts say will approve TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline." For the few who might not be aware but the expansion of the pipeline system moving the Canadian oil to Gulf Coast refiners has never stopped. In fact one p/l from Cushing to the GC has already been reversed and is moving an additional 150,000 bopd. In a couple of more years continued expansion of that system will increase to 600,000 bopd. Other sections, the vast majority of which don't require fed approval, have been developing all this time. The fed permit is only required to lay those few miles of p/l needed to cross the borderline. But the Canadian oil has never stopped crossing the border. It has been moved via existing p/l's, trucks and trains. The only change when the feds finally approves the permit will be an increase in efficiency. The major change in the process will be the increased transport between OK and Texas.

And: "While Obama will continue with a series of environmental regulations that would curb the production and use of coal..." Time will tell. As I've pointed out before that despite the rhetoric: The White Stallion plant in Texas (being built on top of a NG field I'm developing) will burn Illinois coal for at least the next 30 years. Thanks to the current administration the plant received their Clean Air permit. I believe the first such permit granted in many years? It will be interesting to see if at least Illinois coal has an even brighter future.

I've been helping out in some hard-hit areas. I don't think those stories are exaggerating. People are extremely irate.

IME, it's the wealthy areas where people are nastiest. In poor areas, they may steal anything that's not nailed down, and some things that are (like the trim on your car). But they don't have that sense of entitlement that makes them expect that their problems will have priority over everyone else's, and the fury that comes when that's not the case.

It seems those affected folks, rich or poor, assumed that external services would have buffers such that they would not be affected or inconvenienced as much as has happened.

Human nature is consistent in our society it seems (based on my understanding of people affected by Katrina, and now affected by this).

So, now that Katrina and this have happened, what sucker bets that those affected will not adjust for the future, but instead think it is just a one-time event to tell their grandkids, but not have adjusted supplies or expectations for the next Big Event?

I mean really:
Who is going to keep a barrel of fuel in their garage, and regularly rotate it out to keep fresh fuel to run their generators (say a 55gal drum)?

Who is going to regularly test said generator, to make sure it is in working order? Has engine oil for it, perhaps a spare sparkplug (if not a diesel generator)?

And lastly, after a year or two has gone by, who will have kept their readiness level, or gone back to BAU?

A lot of people were more prepared than they would have been, because of Irene, so I guess there's that.

As for who is going to rotate fuel and test generators...the kind of neighborhoods I'm talking about, they pay people to do that stuff for them.

I don't really understand all the craziness surrounding the power outages. In my house I easily have enough random dry food lying around to feed myself for months if I had to. When Irene came we were without power for just under 7 days and though we lost the milk, most everything else in the fridge was ok, and I don't even own a generator! Are these people who just don't have anything stocked up at all? What's the reasoning behind it? Heck I'd be fine if I couldn't get gas for a week, just an excuse to relax and lay low. I remember during the great NE blackout several years ago not being able to go anywhere for several days because all the stations were empty and it was great.

For these storms all I do is fill up my bathtub beforehand so water isn't an issue. 7 days worth of cooking water, toilet flushes, and "french showers" during Irene didn't even put a dent in the water I had filled up the tub with. If I filled up both tubs in the house I could probably go for months on all that water! I used my mountaineering stove which runs on gasoline, but even one gallon would last weeks. We could have used firewood but I didn't want to waste it on cooking.

I get it if your home is destroyed or you have some medical issues or are 70 years old....but what's the deal with everybody else?

Personally, I think they're going buggy because they can't charge their phones/access the Internet. Or watch TV (or get their kids off their hands by planting them in front of the tube).

Is it ID (internet deficit) or EGO (electronic gizmo oddity)?

I saw a photo of a bunch of people charging their "mobile devices" off a generator in the street somewhere in NY/NJ, and wondered what if anything is being done with the remaining 99% of the generator's power? OK, perhaps there also was an extension cord going to a freezer or such, but that was not mentioned. Only the "devices", that need so little power. Perhaps in time before the next hurricane somebody will market a hand-crank generator with a USB jack (and battery and LEDs).

Given the cool weather, those without power nor heat shouldn't need to do anything to keep their food from rotting?

Then there's the gas lines. How are the odd/even rules supposed to help? You'd think people don't need to fill up yet again EVERY DAY, no? Perhaps it's just a crowd control technique: if half of those who ARE out of gas need to wait until tommorrow, then today's lines will be much shorter. Those who REALLY need gas today can walk to the gas station with a jerrycan - and many did (and openly said so, from what I've read).

Just curious how much power it takes to run a cell phone or laptop- how big a solar panel, how many minutes pedaling?

You really don't need much power to charge a laptop battery or your cellphone. Solar is perfect for this. There are plenty of off the shelf solar chargers available or you can build your own. Probably a 50 watt panel, a cheap solar charge controller, a 12 volt marine deep cycle battery and a 300 watt DC to AC inverter would more than do the trick. Altogether probably less than $400.00.

With that big a system you could do a lot more than keep a cellphone charged. You could (occasionally) run a radio, a laptop, and LED lamps bright enough to read (or cook) by.

Personally, I went for roughly 10x that in PV and storage, and I can run the freezer on that, in the summer. Or the boiler, in the winter.

With that big a system you could do a lot more than keep a cellphone charged. You could (occasionally) run a radio, a laptop, and LED lamps bright enough to read (or cook) by.

For sure! Gotta have some light and music while your kid is browsing the internet and charging your neighbor's cellphones too!
At least I do >;-)

A cellphone battery is typically about 4 volts, 1 amp-hour (round numbers here). If you turn it OFF (not on standby, ready to ring with an incoming call) and only turn it on every several hours to check for text messages that battery will last for many many weeks. But even on standby it'll last for a day to a week (depending on the phone model). To fully recharge an empty battery, you need 4x1 = 4 watt-hours (0.004 kilowatt-hours). Like running a 40-watt incandescent bulb for 6 minutes. Or hand cranking for anything from 3 minutes (big crank and hard work, or moderate pedaling) to an hour (of easy cranking of a small crank).

A solar panel that could refill such a battery in one day, say 4 hours of sunlight, would need to output 1 watt of power. That's a solar panel about 6 inches on a side, plus suitable electronics.

5W Solar Panel charging cell phone. This is working in the shade of the porch. There is a 7805 inside the right connector to limit voltage and resistors to limit current.

This one seems like a decent size (more than a toy) with flexible ways to use it, for a very reasonable price. I think so anyway, havn't bought one (and certainly not affiliated). Enough oomph to give a full charge in just a few hours of full sunlight, and sure is easier than cranking.

There are many other models, but I would stay away from any that house a battery together with the solar panel, since it would get hot in the sun, shortening the life of the battery. And you certainly don't want one that forces you to put your cellphone in the hot sun.

Rolls eyes, just shade the phone!


My little Sunlinq 5watt PV portable panel, and a cigarette-lighter USB adapter can run my cellphone the entire time the sun is out.

So that's at least 6 to 8 hrs of continuous talk time, surfing the web, FB, TOD, etc ; )


People really don't seem that concerned about food. They're annoyed they can't cook, maybe, but they don't care about their food spoiling. They'll just throw it out and buy more. They just don't like the inconvenience of being without power, and in some cases, the inconvenience of not being able to get out of their driveways due to fallen trees. There's also the fear that their kids will be electrocuted by all the dangling wires.

As for the rationing...supposedly, it will dissuade people from hoarding. Dunno if I buy that myself, but it seems to have worked in NJ (not that it necessarily did, but it looks like it did), so maybe NY politicians felt they had to do the same.

Should have been rationing from day 1 but, I expect, many of the politicians were afraid of losing votes. As for electrocution, why the [redacted] didn't they do what we did here, CUT THE POWER, excuse me. When Kenna arrived the CFE cut all the power to the town. Didn't avoid stuff being blown down but we had no electrocutions and no blocks of houses burned down in transformer explosions. As each area was cleared and made safe it could be brought on line quickly, no burnt out transformers, switches etc to replace. I have no sympathy for the electric companies and feel that their customers should start a class action for negligence,


I don't think electrocution is a big risk. I think the power company has turned off the power. People are just paranoid, though probably for good reason.

The power lines are a pain. If there are lines down, power out or not, no one but the utility workers can work in the area. A tree down across the road, and the village or county public works department, or the city or state DOT, or even local home owners, can cut it up and remove it. If the downed tree has power lines in it, the utility has to do it. No one else will touch it.

"Perhaps in time before the next hurricane somebody will market a hand-crank generator with a USB jack (and battery and LEDs)."


I got one at a yard sale for $15, still in the box. Nice quality. Gave it to my grid sister who lives alone.

Here's a little Santa's Solar list from American Science and Surplus, including a pocket phone charger for about $7 ..


..usually decent stuff for the price, but caveat emptor as ever!

I have a similar one, 15 minutes crank time gives 1 minute talk time. Less with a smart phone. Good flashlight and radio, with weather. Tiny little solar panel on the back of it.

I have a solar powered flash light. No worries about batteries, and it is always charged. Only issue is life expectancy.

I also have a hand cranked LED flashlight. Even with batteries dry, it can still produce usefull amounts of real time light due to its one hand operation. But with many moving parts life time is still questionable.

With a fairly new battery, 90 cranks gives about 15 minutes of flashlight time with mine. The radio uses quite a bit more.

That is so overpriced! Here's one for $2, shipped from China of course. No guarantees on how durable it is, or not. But it'll keep you entertained reading the instructions:

This mini and suitable hand-winding charger is designed for emergency use. Just wind it by hand slightly, it can charge the device freely. With this built-in USB interface, it is easy to connect to all sorts of USB devices

Save your spending, safe use , and not harm or damage to your mobile phone .
Can be repeated use, light weight, small size, convenient travel use
The inherent emergency lighting

Hand holding the charger, black handle on your right hand crank.
Will the USB interface insert affiliated connecting charger USB port place
Choose a cell phone with you match joints, will it and connections at the other end of the room
Finally, will insert your phone connector. So you can charge.
Be careful to take down the charger black handle, and then press the same direction by 100 a minute-120 lap rate turn the handle. You shake the more time, your cell phone standby time and call the longer time.

When your cell phone battery life cannot be completely out of the charge. You should be in the cell phone battery power is completely exhausted before your cell phone battery.
If the charger gets hot, you must immediately stop shaking, wait until it cooled can continue to shake (at least cooling 10 minutes)
Don't shake too fast, and keep in the 100-120 times per minute.
Don't take on hot, charger, and a fire the place where water and other moist place.

Surely there must be one guy over there who actuallyspeakgood english? The instruction formy Velbon (japanese) camera mount is just as entertaining.

From my flickr archive:

Point 4 in those instructions are priceless.

I'll raise you a printer in a double box. Open first box and remove packing. Open second box and remove packing. Remove printer. Under the printer is a sheet of paper - the unpacking instructions! Also these were in, er, interesting Engrish but it is too long ago to remember.


"For these storms all I do is fill up my bathtub beforehand so water isn't an issue."

My bathtub drain leaks too much for that. I could pull the drain screen out and get a rubber plug that might do better. Or use the tub to hold trashbags full of water. A couple of those together with the hot-water heater would last for quite a while.

This time of year keeping food cold is not a problem. Move it outside in coolers. Open the lid of the coolers at night, close them in the morning.

Summer is much trickier. But even there, two solar panels (500 W total) a charge controller, and my trolling motor battery should be able to keep things tolerable.

Propane for the camp stove would eventually be an issue, but a 20 lb tank will run a camp stove stove a long time.

The main take-away from Sandy is the FEMA's three day timeline is hopelessly optimistic. A full week is the new target.

A car alternator hooked upto a bicycle also does a lot of small jobs, one can pump up to 100W for about an hour or two if one is physically fit.

Can't hurt to create a universal fitting onto such a bike as well, so you can do a variety of physical jobs directly.. Many great plans out there for Pedals driving Laundry, Water Pumping, Sawing and Drilling, Food Prep.. tho' I haven't seen as many for the rig that is set up to quickly roll into a spot, and hook up easily to this or that.

I'm sure it would seem like a waste of time to many, but as with Orbi7er's little solar setup, people start to appreciate it once it has actually helped them out of the dark or a tough patch.

Yes I have thought about it, I think there are some available but they are niche products really. It would be a good business idea as well.

I saw Orbi7er's setup, it doesn't get simpler than that, I have a 12V, 5W panel as well, all you need is two small caps (to stabilize the input), a 7805, a diode and a current limiting resistor, the whole setup can be soldered on the back of the panel.

RE: Bike Power
What I've built so far is a Power Take-Off (PTO) from one of those Flywheel-based Exercise bikes, using a BabyCarriage wheel driven off the side of the Flywheel, and directly into a Right-Angle Drill Gun Adapter (from Dad's old Tool Kit! looks like this, http://www.pjtool.com/rightangledrillattachment.aspx?gclid=CPDj3KnDxLMCF... ) , at which point I can grab just about any shaft up to 3/8" (or 1/2"?) that I need to, including the driveshafts of DC motor/generators.. while currently, it's in the shop with a sanding disk on it, and makes a nice quick tool for cleaning up the end of a cut board, etc..

I can do a quick job standing next to it one-footed, or sit down and get comfortable for a more involved task.

I find that cast-off exercise equipment has some of the only decent quality contemporary hardware out there, and that people shed this pricey and lovely gear like it was disposable aluminum bakeware! The number of things I have built from old Nordic Tracks is beyond counting now!

.. Another more or less universal way to attach applications to such a unit would be with Square Snap-on wrench connectors (probably limited to modest RPM's..) or the smaller Hex attachments on the ends of Drill Guns. All very pedestrian, ie, far more available, but also with reasonable limitations.. There are all sorts of adapters available to and from these systems, though, giving them an easy and broad reach into different uses!


The tank on my roof holds a ton, the one under the garage another 5. Should be good for a bit.


No way would I leave food out in open containers at night. It would attract every animal in the area. Dogs, cats, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, bears, and who knows what else.

It would attract every animal in the area. Dogs, cats, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, bears, and who knows what else.

The most dangerous animal in the world... Homo sapiens >;-)

Bathtub liner/bag: http://www.waterbob.com

One-time use, but not that expensive.

I think it's also interesting to compare the differences in self-reliance between urban/suburban areas and rural ones like mine. There are hundreds of families that live off the grid, supply their own water, take care of their own roads and, in some cases, form their own fire "departments". For example, my closest neighbor, a mile away, built a tow-behind water tank and pump to start immediate fire suppression. No one asked him to do it and he paid for it out of his own pocket. He did it because it was a good thing to do.

Few of us expect immediate outside help in an emergency. Sure, it's nice when it comes but no one is getting irate when it doesn't come "now".

On a somewhat different note, there are several area benefits to raise money for people with health problems that they can't afford to treat. Sure, some use SNAP and SSI but a lot rely upon community help.


A lot has to do with the environment one was raised in, even the environment our parents were raised in. If your parents were depression kids, rural or poor, they likely passed on some level of frugality and preparedness to you. In a culture that enjoys just-in-time instant gratification, where money has been the only apparent limiting factor, a society that makes an art of discounting the future is unlikely to spawn the sort of preparedness some of us enjoy. http://www.ready.gov/: We see the announcements after every disaster, but those disasters always happen somewhere else, to someone else...

Resourcefulness and self-reliance must be learned, mostly by doing. Folks in the US are in for a steep learning curve, considering where they're coming from and where they're headed. Best to watch it play out from the cheap seats ;-/

Not so with my depression-era mom and most of her friends and relatives close in age(dad and dad's family were more sensible). They are some of the most extravagant, wasteful people I've ever known, and mostly unprepared for emergencies despite their frugal, poverty-stricken childhoods, as though they're over-compensating for the past. : /

My mom was a young girl during the depression. She almost never spoke of it; occasionally mentioning they used to wash out flour bags to make dresses. Her favourite phrase was, "You've got food on the table and a roof over your head. You don't know how lucky you are."

As a child I used to think, but never say, "You've got money and a motor car, and no one to moan at you. You don't know how lucky you are."

Children compare themselves with other children. They don't relate to their parents' childhoods. Lessons are not passed on unless they are told in the form of stories and become family lore.

As it happens both my sister and myself are fairly frugal. I think it's because we have frugal natures, but it may be from years of hearing, "Do you have any idea how much things COST?"

It's funny how these things move, and when they hit dead ends, like with Kate's family, it seems.

My grandparents were all pretty well off.. not 'Gated Mansion Rich', but had done well.. but my dad and mom went rustic, and many of the crafts and skills they brought to me and my sibs were passed along by grandparents who still, despite the Country Club side of their lifestyles, also carried a deeper family lore about 'being able to do things' .. Fabric Arts, Music making, Woodshops in all those houses.. I've got many handtools and sewing accoutrements that I use often that are two and three generations old, keeping me in touch with the ancestors a bit, and that feel good in the hand.

But it's sort of like Straight-laced families that have a Gay Kid.. or Liberal parents who raise a Conservative kid.. you couldn't really make this stuff up.. life is way to lively for us to capture with our Grabby Monkey Paws.. and when the going really gets tough, I think we'll all be surprised (not always in a good way, but also not always regrettable, either) at what's lurking under the surface in any of us.

She almost never spoke of it; occasionally mentioning they used to wash out flour bags to make dresses.

This was actually common even before the Depression (and continued afterwards). The whole history of it is very much tied with the industrial revolution. The machinery to make cheap cotton sacks and sew them strong enough to hold grain made it possible.

Companies even printed patterns on their feedsacks to make them more appealing to women looking to make clothing. It was a way to make their product more competitive.

Grain & Feed Sacks Begin as Utilitarian Tools but Soon Become Basis for Fashion

Vintage Feed Sacks

Another Depression-era innovation was to take the engine out of a car and pull it with horses, because people could no longer afford gasoline or a new car. This was known as a Hoover Wagon in the US and a Bennet Buggy in Canada, after their respective head of government.

in Alberta, the provincial government went bankrupt and could no longer provide services, so people started doing things like maintaining their own roads. The government had taken over the phone service in the 20s because private companies would not provide service to rural areas, but after it went bankrupt in the 30s, the government didn't have the money to provide service either.

So, the farmers formed rural telephone cooperatives, the government turned the rural system over to them, and they maintained and expanded the system themselves for several decades. This frequently involved using barbed wire on fenceposts to connect up phones on remote farms, but for the most part it worked. Eventually, after WWII, the government merged the cooperatives back into the government system, and then later privatized it.

Similarly, the farmers could no longer afford electricity, but based on the telephone model, the electric utilities offered to sell them bulk electricity at wholesale rates. The farmers formed rural cooperatives and maintained and expanded the electrical grid themselves. This was usually singe-wire ground-return, but again for the most part it worked most of the time. After the War, the electric utilities bought out most of the rural cooperatives, but some of the bigger ones are still in operation.

Attitudes that formed during the Depression persist, and the people are still unusally self-reliant. Eastern Canadians are used to governments and companies providing everything, and can't understand why Albertans often just want the government to go away and not bother them. The main reason is that Albertans have gotten used to doing things for themselves and don't think that the government or even private companies necessarily have the best solution. And they don't like to see too much government spending or deficits because, after all, the Alberta government did go bankrupt from that once before.

HereinHalifax gets peturbed when I suggest Nova Scotians should be using natural gas for heat because they do, after all, have massive gas fields just off shore and are just letting it go to the NE US. When Alberta gas companies wanted to charge too much for installation in rural areas, the farmers just applied the telephone/electric utility solution, formed cooperatives, put in the distributiion systems themselves and then went out for bids on wholesale NGs from the various gas producers in the province.

Alberta now has the biggest rural NG distribution system in the world, while most people in Nova Scotia still don't have NG, even in the cities. And it is an Alberta NG company that is overcharging them for installation. That didn't work in Alberta, but it did in NS. They think that if the government or private industry won't do anything for them, that they just have to give up and not do it themselves.

If you mean perturbed as opposed to peturbed, no, it doesn't offend me in the least. I'm more annoyed by individuals who present themselves as experts in all things and, in particular, matters for which they have no basic understanding.


Resourcefulness and self-reliance must be learned, mostly by doing.

I've lived in the boondocks for close to forty years now and have seen an endless parade of city people come and go. They move here all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and are gone in 5-7 years. Why? It seems most of the time they just can't accept the "realities" of this life which requires tons of self-reliance and hardship. By hardship I mean that nothing comes easy from hauling the kids to the bus stop to establishing a water supply. There are no box stores anywhere - the closest ones for me are a 1 1/2 drive. "Nightlife" is non existent.

It really takes a special personality type to be successful and I agree a lot of skills have be to learned. I've lived close to NYC and other major cities and I can't think of anything I would less like to do. On the other hand city visitors invariably ask, "What do you do (activities) here?" They can't understand that serenity is more fulfilling than frantic activity.



As someone who could not possibly live in even a small town at this point, I hear you. It does take a special personality type to live in the woods. Every once in a while, someone comes along and sticks to it, but more often, as you say, after a few years they move on.

I've lived in big and small towns, big and small cities, but never again if I can help it. As far as "what do you do here", I sometimes think the need to be constantly "doing" is going to be the downfall of the human race.

"On the other hand city visitors invariably ask, "What do you do (activities) here?""

I've come to suspect that translates roughly as "Who can I give money to in exchange for passive entertainment?"

Finding something to do is rarely a problem in the country. I'm usually running my tail off.

In the local county (population ~630,000), I live in a typical municipality with a volunteer fire department and voluntary EMS. It is mostly the older and bigger cities that have paid fire and EMS. I was at city hall two days ago and the volunteer fire chief was going out the door to check a carbon monoxide alarm call. There is actually a lot of voluntary assistance going on.

Note that the electrical outages, gas shortages, etc. cover a wide area with about 8 million customers (probably 16 million people, depending on how many multiple dwelling units are single or multiple customers, etc.). It also covers much of the business infrastructure.

However, the real problems are with dwellings and business in the flood plains. In NJ these are very hard hit starting in Middlesex county at the mouth of the Raritan River and continuing south in the Raritan Bayshore of Monmouth County (blue collar, working class neighborhoods), continuing on the Jersey Shore from Sea Bright to the south end of Long Beach Island off Ocean County. Many of the latter are a mix of summer tourist locations with upscale beach developments. On the bayside in Ocean they have also been hard hit by flooding. In Sea Bright the Ocean and the Navesink and Shrewsbury river joined as water came across the town. Same thing with the ocean and Barnegate Bay farther south. While the NOAA areal photos show that lots of houses are still standing, there are lots of videos that show the buildings have be moved off foundations, walls blown out, etc.

Some of these communities may not come back at all, and certainly not soon. Quite a few homes are second homes, and FEMA only provides assistance for primary residences.

Leanan - Sorry to hear that but was afraid the 'entitlement' factor was a major issue. Especially amongst those who had been disproportionally entitled. Perhaps it's a generational swing. Growing up with hurricanes in S La we had experiences with gougers and line cutters which we dealt with locally and personally. But I don't recall any great expectations of the cavalry coming to the rescue. Mother Nature wacked us and we had to accept and deal with it. And we responded as I have heard of some of the good stories coming out of the NE: you help those close at hand or looked to others in the neighborhood for help. Sitting there in Nawlins with no fan running in 98F Aug temps with 95% humidity wasn't anyone's fault. It was just what life threw at you. Things got fixed when they were able to get fixed.

Obviously folks should expect help from the govts at times like this. But they also need to understand the limits of what govts can do. Which bears on the much larger question then the post-Sandy pain: do the majority of folks (who may perceive the potential decline of BAU due to PO, govt debt, unemployment, etc) truly believe that govt will always be able to solve these problems especially with little sacrifice from the public? Perhaps that's part of the source of denial or avoidance of the reality of the developing situation: somebody else will do what needs to be done and thus I don't need to do anything...like changing habits or even just making some meaningful preparations.

People absolutely expect the guv to fixit. Note all the talk before the elections about how Obama was there for 4 whole years and didn't fix the economy as he should have. And how Romney would fix it instantly.

Meanwhile, it is exactly the privatization of utilities that caused them to pare down their crews that do the actual fixing. You can always borrow/rent crews from the next county over, no? Not. Efficiency <> resiliency.

Now imagine that you've cut the budgets of your prediction centers so that you have less lead time to call in crews from around the country...woopsie doopsies...


The European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on Oct. 23 warned that Hurricane Sandy would hit the East Coast on Monday, days ahead of other major hurricane models, which mostly saw the storm heading out into the Atlantic.

Thankfully, there have been other stories such as this....

Long Islanders welcome N.S. power crews in their own special way

A Long Island, N.Y., woman was so happy to see power crews from Nova Scotia on her street Saturday that she jumped into the arms of one startled worker.

Mary Nolan said Monday she offered the workers coffee and tea, but they declined and then set about the job of restoring electricity to an area that had been without it for five days.

“Somebody else had brought them pizza,” Nolan said in a telephone interview. “People were being very nice to them. We were trying to show them how much we appreciated it.”

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/163071-long-islanders-welcome-ns-p...


Yes, there have been a lot of nice stories, too. One pic that went around Twitter like crazy showed an extension cord hanging over a fence, with a sign to passers-by saying, "We have power! Charge your phone!"

I wonder how much stress would have been avoided if local authorities had provided a generator station with outlets to charge phones. Compared to many preparations it would not have cost a lot, not a lot of work or planning but a big help for those who are preparation challenged.


And where I don't deny at all the seriousness of the hardship, with fuel so scarce and everything else harder to come by as well--this reaction speaks much to the Northeast's (where I'm from and live) unfamiliarity with truly major storms. Not even the first Perfect Storm in 1991 caused this much disruption. Perhaps the only parallel in the last one hundred plus years is the blizzard of 1978, when a hurricane parked off the New England coast for a week. And that was over a generation ago. Today's adults were children then. Anyone who's spent even a little time on the Gulf Coast and seen what a hurricane can do would be far slower to criticize and complain.

Call me crazy: Did all of last week's Drumbeats dissappear for everyone, or just me? When I reload those pages, it goes to the homepage, and the homepage skips right from Oct31 - Nov9!!


All seems nominal. Click on 'Drumbeat' at the top center (below the TOD banner) - They're all there

Disappeared here too. I hope not permanently.

Nope, I just clicked on "DrumBeat" and they are all there. This change was made at least a couple of months ago. Are you guys just now figuring this out?

Ron P.

The change was made years ago. Basically, when we switched to the new format, with fewer but more carefully vetted articles. They didn't want the front page filled up Drumbeats, and I didn't want to put fake dates on them to move them below the key posts. So I suggested we move the older ones off the front page to a special Drumbeat section. SuperG made it happen. I sometimes forget to move the old Drumbeat, or it doesn't "take" and I don't notice, but mostly, only the newest Drumbeat is on the front page. All the others are here.

Makes sense. Strange it's the first time it confused firefox on me, I'd never even noticed it before, and Oct31 & Nov9 were still up front, so I figured it was some kind of legit bug. I had at least 3 drumbeats open last nite, and they all tanked when they reloaded this morning. I guess the link changes when they move from the front page to the drumbeat folder, or else my firefox is just old...computers, can't live without 'em.

The link should not change. If you bookmark a story here, the link should still be good days or even years later. Must have been some other problem.

Read the nym.

Plenty of room in the center shaft for battery, motor, and gear reduction. The switch is in plain sight.

Turnbull, does that mean you aren't interested in investing in this "Opportunity"?

Best hopes for understanding the laws of physics.

Gas shortages in NJ-NY are largely due to:
- temporary shutdowns of refineries due to flooding, water damage, and lack of electricity,
- temporary shutdown of barge traffic in NY harbor, which especially affects NYC and LI, since there is limited cross-harbor pipeline and no freight rail capacity,
- shutdowns of wholesale/distributor terminals due to flooding and lack of electricity,
- shutdowns of almost all gas stations over wide areas due to lack of electricity, and
- demand rising for emergency generators and power equipment like chain saws.

Update: according to the evening news reports, the biggest problem in NYC/LI seems to be distributors. 7 are closed and others are working at reduced capacity. Tankers are in lines waiting several hours to load gas and then deliver to gas stations.

Some lessons:
- get a natural gas powered emergency generator (public water, sewer and natural gas distribution generally survived OK).
- electric cars that depend on being charged at home overnight are a very bad idea (while high-mileage plug-in hybrids are a good thing).
- bus service can be restored quickly (while commuter train service will take weeks to restore due to flooded tunnels, damaged bridges, roadbeds, overheads, electrical systems, etc.).

The electrical grid of wires strung on poles is hugely vulnerable, especially when totally inadequate tree trimming and removal are the general practice.

Rail transportation is hugely vulnerable when run in tunnels subject to flooding, when run at close to sea level to avoid grades, when run over swing and drawbridges near sea level, and when right-of-ways are not kept clear of trees. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nj_transit/

Strange that EV's go from being such a bad thing when they're merely grid dependent, to being a really useful thing when that home has solar, and becomes independent of both gas stations AND the grid.. while the homeowner ends up with the flexibility to use that power where it's most needed.

As noted in NYT article, attempts to run bus bridges have a problem. A crammed bus carries 75 people, a train up to 2,000. Buses simply cannot keep up with even half the potential demand.

The recently built (20 years ago ?) 63rd Street tunnel (Manhattan-Queens under East River) did not flood. As noted, "modern" tunnels are designed to flood much less often.

The "East Side Access" project that will bring Long Island Railroad trains into Grand Central Station will also use the 63rd Street tunnel. It should be complete in 2019 (originally 2013 :-(

This will add another level of redundancy and increased capacity.

More rail tunnels, resistant to flooding, need to also be built under the Hudson. Extending the #7 MTA line from Manhattan to Secausus would take many of those that use flooded PATH tunnels today.

As would the proposed new Amtrak tunnels under the Hudson.

More, and modern, rail tunnels, with back-up power sources, are the answer.


AlanfromBigEasy there is another option which was mentioned in the latest NJARP
(New Jersey Association of Rail Passengers) newsletter: namely using the lower deck of the GW Bridge from Northern New Jersey to uptown NYC for Rail as was originally intended. While neoliberal Gov Cuomo has finally gotten religion that "Climate Change is Real" and has done a laudatory job in New York as opposed to New Jersey on maintaining Green public transit and getting it back into service ASAP, he still is planning on wasting $5 Billion on an Auto Addiction only new Tappan Zee Bridge. There should be NO bridges built in the age of Peak Oil and Climate Change which do not include Rail or LightRail as their major passenger transit as opposed to Auto Addiction. It is ironic that with the success of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail from Bergen County to Bayonne, New Jersey that Staten Island from NYC is requesting an extension. The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail is carrying 2-3 times the passengers of the most optimistic planners projections and has revitalized the former slums of Jersey City into coveted high-income condos as Corporations and business have flocked there like moths to a flame. Our best bet to leverage existing investments without incurring huge new capital costs difficult to afford in the age of Peak Oil is to restore Auto Addiction highway resources like the GW Bridge or Interstate medians to their original designation for high capacity Green Rail.

By happenstance, I was there for the Grand Opening of an extension of the Hudson-Bergan Light Rail.

I was not aware of plans for the GW bridge.

Plans for the Tappen Zee include a future rail option from my understanding. A couple of miles of new track to connect east & west bank commuter train lines.


Underground power distribution can have a higher failure rate due to the Mick with a pick syndrome.


Cracks found in South Korean nuclear reactor

South Korean nuclear regulators have found microscopic cracks in tunnels that guide control rods at a nuclear plant under maintenance, government officials said, raising new concerns over the country's nuclear power sector.

The discovery, revealed on Friday, of the cracks at the reactor comes just days after two reactors at the same plant in Yeonggwang county, in the southwest of the country, were shut down to replace parts that had been provided with forged certificates.

New York City Subway Repairs


80% open yesterday.

The under construction 2nd Avenue subway is supposed to be designed to significantly reduce the flooding risk.


I have kind of followed this in my spare time over the past week. There are several interesting items here.

The first is that the MTA has 3 purpose-built pump trains, that have the sole job of pumping water out of a flooded tunnel. They are diesel powered, so they don't depend on any external power source (unfortunately the fumes down there can get to be a bit much).

The MTA apparently had a decent inventory of spare parts, which meant that once they "dewatered" the system, they could swap out the relays and switch motors that got wet with good ones. I gather the parts that got wet were taken back for cleaning, inspection and then re-installation later.

The tubes that connect Penn Station to the NEC/LIRR seem to be a different matter. One of the two Hudson river tubes flooded, and two of the four East River tubes flooded. And yet these are only just coming back into service now. It isn't 100% clear to me what the issues were that they faced here - the MTA has done a better job of public relations in keeping people informed as to the challenges that they faced. But Amtrak did release this:


which suggests that one of the issues they still have is a substation at Kearny NJ that got flooded.

But this brings us to the last little bit of NEC trivia - parts of the NEC are powered by 25Hz alternating current, and this frequency was chosen over 100 years ago, and it was mainly picked mainly because it worked better with the rotary converters which were used at the time to convert AC to DC. But those things only exist in museums these days, so there is no longer a need for this special frequency. But the transformers that are designed for this frequency are designed somewhat differently from those designed for 60Hz, and are apparently not interchangeable.

But the transformers that are designed for this frequency are designed somewhat differently from those designed for 60Hz, and are apparently not interchangeable.

ericy, a transformer for 25 Hz versus 60 Hz needs to have more steel in the core of the transformer to accommodate the lower frequency. A transformer can be designed to accommodate both frequencies but it would be more expensive.

Amtrak and NJ Transit have some funding to resolve this issue from Stimulus Funds left over from Gov Christie's cancellation of the ARC NJ to NYC tunnel.
Some good news. Amtrak also wants to make the NEC support higher speeds from New Brunswick to Secaucus a major bottleneck.

To sustain and convey the longer magnetic field excursion time, the 25 cycle-per-second transformer needs a more massive magnetic core.

The metal (dead-soft silicon steel) core itself wants to act like (or "looks like") a shorted-out energy tap, or winding, of the transformer. To stop this action, the cores are not made from a solid block but more like a book of pages, called laminations, with each sheet insulated from the others.

To avoid eddy-current heating, the laminations of a 60 cycle-per-second transformer are thinner.

The dual-frequency 25-60 cycle-per-second transformer would have all the mass of the 25 cycle part built-up with laminations as thin as the 60 cycle part.


Early Electrification of Buffalo: Adams Station - Electric Development

Hydraulic turbines had been ordered with a speed of 250 rpm. The frequencies possible at 250 rpm were: 16 2/3-Hz with 8 poles on the rotating field; 25-Hz with 12 poles; 33 1/3-Hz with 16 poles and 41 2/3- Hz with 20 poles. Low frequencies were preferred for large motors and rotary converters. Professor Forbes preferred 16 2/3- Hz for the commutating type ac motors then in use. Higher frequencies were more suitable for incandescent and arc lights. Tests had shown that at 25 Hz incandescent lamps did not show objectionable flickering. Westinghouse had adopted 60 Hz for lighting and 30 Hz for power and refused to guarantee efficiency at less than 30 Hz. General Electric recommended 41 2/3 Hz. Following a dinner meeting in October in New York City with Westinghouse representatives, President Adams of the Cataract Company asked Westinghouse’s chief electrical engineer if they could build and guarantee a 25-Hz generator.

The use of low cost Niagara power enabled these companies, and other soon to follow metallurgical and chemical companies, to greatly reduce the cost of their products. Aluminum is a classic example.

In the mid 1800’s Napoleon III had a set of aluminum forks and spoons made for his most honored guests; less important guests used gold or silver tableware.

The peak of the Washington Monument is a pyramid of aluminum. Chosen for it's value and durability.

I kind of wished that that they had used platinum.


Isn't that something, though! Aluminum "rust"... aluminum oxide... is basic to some gemstones. The finish for aluminum called "hard anodize" is basically sapphire: tough stuff.

Re-reading the top of this sub-thread:

Yes, the off-the-shelf 60 Hz transformer designs will overheat. Custom 25 Hz transformers could easily be made by using more core material (the available 60 Hz lamination stock).

The Swiss, German, Austrian and Swedish# rail systems all run off 16.7 Hz. Fewer poles (in the motors) required in late 1800s/early 1900 electric locomotives with low Hz.

A transformer designed for 16.7 Hz should work just fine at 25 Hz. Possibly a small derating.

Ontario closed down it's last 25 Hz hydropower plant a few years ago. I strongly suspect all transformers are scrap today.

New Orleans has some pumps that run off 25 Hz still in use.

They should look around more - Amtrak does not keep an excess of inventory - House Republicans would attack such waste.


# Denmark has trains that cross borders into either Sweden (one bridge-tunnel) or Germany (several), yet they went 50 Hz when they electrified their trains.

I was reading that DHS has a program whereby utilities can "borrow" a substation transformer in the event of an emergency:


Under the program, each participating electric utility is required to maintain and, if necessary, acquire a specific number of transformers. STEP requires each participating utility to sell its spare transformers to any other participating utility that suffers a "triggering event," defined as an act of terrorism that destroys or disables one or more substations and results in the declared state of emergency by the President of the United States.

The curious thing about this are that the only triggering events that they mention seem to be terrorism related. Nothing due to a hurricane, earthquake or any other sort of natural disaster.

"They should look around more - Amtrak does not keep an excess of inventory - House Republicans would attack such waste."

Accountants of all parties despise inventory. Tax assessors love inventory. These two facts are indeed related.

This may be a "teachable moment". Substation sized transformers aren't the kind of thing you can buy off the shelf - there is usually a 1-2 year lead time in getting a replacement.

And they come from China.

An idea behind detente was that Russia would become dependent on American made goods and replacements. Looks like it works.

I wonder how many commuters are going to go back to BAU and protest once the fares go up to cover the costs?

Amtrak to re-open NYC tunnels damaged by Sandy

Two of the tunnels (known as Line 1 and Line 2) that will re-open are located under the East River and will support more Northeast Corridor service north of New York and Empire Service and other trains that operate to/from Albany and further west. When the two tunnels open, each will operate at 80 percent capacity, or at a peak level of about 32 trains per hour, as repairs continue. Two other East River tunnels did not flood and are operating at 100 percent capacity, or at a peak level of about 40 trains per hour.

The other tunnel (known as the North Tube) to re-open is located under the Hudson River and will allow expanded Amtrak and New Jersey Transit commuter rail service south of New York. In combination with the South Tube, which re-opened on Oct. 31, the two Hudson River tunnels will operate at about 63 percent capacity, or a peak of about 24 trains per hour, which doubles the capacity of a peak of 12 per hour today. A normal peak is about 38 trains per hour.

The ability to further increase capacity through the Hudson River tunnels is currently limited by significant flooding damage at a key electrical substation located near Kearney, N.J. On Nov. 6, with the assistance of the Army Corps of Engineers, Amtrak brought the flooding under control and de-watered the facility. The equipment is now being cleaned and will be tested to determine the damage, the next course of action and estimated time for repair. Amtrak is able to bypass this substation, but because the power used for this section of track now has to supply a longer distance, the number of trains allowed to take power in the longer supply section is to be restricted in order to protect the catenary wires from overheating or tripping the supply breakers on overload until the substation is back on line for full restoration of service.

UPDATE AS OF NOVEMBER 8: Rail and Light Rail Service
which basically says that the Jersey Coast Line, the Montclair Boonton Line, the Morris & Essex Line, and the Pascack Valley and Bergen Lines are all suspended until further notice. Another couple of lines are running with modified service -- either not running to the ends of the lines and/or running very reduced schedules. NJ Transit commuter rail is basically disfunctional at this point, and NJ Transit is bringing in more buses in an attempt to provide some service. Howeever, lines and waits for buses are very long.

Interesting article excerpt from one of the Rail advocates for NARP, NJARP and Lackawanna Coalition:


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The technology may still be a few years from installation and deployment, but researchers at West Virginia University are working with a Delaware company and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to fine-tune giant inflatable plugs that could protect subway and vehicle tunnels from future flooding.

The Resilient Tunnel Plug has been years in development and testing, but it may be more relevant than ever: Superstorm Sandy sent a record 14-foot storm surge into New York Harbor, flooding subway tunnels that move some 5.2 million people a day.

It has been known in the Canadian oil and gas industry for some time that Alberta has large shale oil and shale gas resources, but an official estimate has never been made of their size. Now the provincial government has done a preliminary study, and determined that they are vast indeed - but not as vast as the oil sands.

Alberta has huge shale oil, gas resources: study

A new study has identified immense oil and gas resources in Alberta’s emerging shale prospects, suggesting a string of recent takeovers and land buys will yield impressive production gains for some of the world’s largest oil companies.

The province’s shale formations, including the Duvernay, Montney and Muskwa, could ultimately contain 3,324 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 58.6 billion barrels of gas liquids and 423.6 billion barrels of oil, according to the research, conducted by the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board and Alberta Geological Survey.

Such figures put the deposits in league with some of the major U.S. shale plays that have significantly shifted the complexion of the energy industry from conventional operations to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Alberta, though Canada’s largest oil and gas producer, has been behind many other jurisdictions in identifying and tapping many of its shale prospects, so development is still in early stages.

“The numbers fall in line, more or less, with many of the other shales, whether it’s Eagle Ford or Marcellus,” said Andrew Beaton, one of the report’s authors, referring to the big Texas and U.S. Northeast formations where production has surged. The study’s data came in close to numbers reported by some of the companies exploring on the lands, which cover very large regions of Alberta, Beaton said.

Expert's report on economic and environmental advantages of High Capacity Vehicles

At 25.25 metres [83 ft], they would be around a third as long again as the largest lorries currently permitted in Britain. But they would NOT carry heavier loads. They would be used for larger quantities of lightweight goods, therefore cutting down the number of vehicle journeys made, leading to significant cost savings, reduced carbon emissions and a lessening of congestion.

The rail-freight industry – fearing a wholesale switch to road transport – and safety campaigners – who are fearful of larger vehicles – have been rigidly opposed to larger vehicles in Britain. But David Leach's findings run counter to many of their arguments.

The report is published by the University of Huddersfield (see electronic version at http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/15769/ ) and when it lands on the desks of politicians, lobbyists and specialist journalists it could help re-open a vexed debate.

Chevron says hit by Stuxnet virus in 2010

Analysts and former US military officers have touted cyber attacks as a more effective weapon against Iran's nuclear ambitions than bombing raids, which they say would carry big risks without causing permanent damage to the program.

But Chevron officials said the virus spread beyond Washington's control.

"I don't think the US government even realized how far (the virus) had spread," Mark Koelmel, who oversees earth-science research and development at Chevron, told the Wall Street Journal.

"I think the downside of what they did is going to be far worse than what they actually accomplished," he added.

Competing to create a more energy-efficient air conditioner

A University of California, Davis, challenge to build more energy efficient air conditioning has spurred a major global manufacturer to build a rooftop air conditioner that is 40 percent more energy-efficient than conventional units.

For a product to be Western Cooling Challenge certified, it must be at least 40 percent more efficient than Department of Energy 2010 standards.

Entries must also be market-ready. Trane is the first major manufacturer to enter the challenge, reflecting an industry interest in marketing air conditioning systems that are designed for specific climates. The other winner, in 2009, was Coolerado Corp. of Denver, Colo.

The California Public Utility Commission's Statewide Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan calls for the rapid commercialization of cooling technologies that are adapted for dry, hot climates. The plan specifies that 70 percent of air conditioners installed in 2020 should be "climate appropriate."


Drought measures may curb Mississippi River shipping at St Louis

Commercial barge traffic on a critical stretch of the Mississippi River south of St. Louis may be severely restricted or halted entirely next month as drought conservation measures stem the inflow of water from the Missouri River, government and industry sources said on Thursday.

With the worst U.S. drought in 56 years sapping the reservoirs that feed the Missouri River, the flow of water from Gavins Point Dam, the system's southernmost dam near Yankton, South Dakota, will be reduced beginning in the third week of November, the Army Corps of Engineers said.

"In September we had the lowest inflow month that we've seen in our system since we began keeping detailed records in 1898. We only got about 25 percent of normal inflows," said Monique Farmer, spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers Northwestern division

The Missouri River normally accounts for about 60 percent of the water in the Mississippi River between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois, a key stretch of the major grain shipping waterway that connects farms in the Midwest with export terminals at the Gulf Coast. Gasoline, coal and other commodities are also shipped through the area.

I always thought a good slogan would be "If you think the costs of dealing with global warming are high, wait till you see the costs of ignoring it"

C8, combine that with the procrastinator who will never do something today that he can put off till tomorrow.

Best hopes for dealing with issues today.

U.S. drought deepens in Plains states, wheat crop suffers

October is typically the third-wettest month for Texas, but instead last month was the ninth-driest October statewide since 1895, according to the Drought Monitor report issued weekly by a consortium of state and federal climatology experts.

Texas and Oklahoma both recorded above-normal temperatures and little or no rain. Kansas and Nebraska also saw drought expansion.

The persistent drought was hindering growth of the new winter wheat crop in those states, as soil moisture levels were too low to spur normal plant development. Grazing for livestock was also poor as pastures remained parched.

Less than 2 weeks ago, I were involved in a DB thread where someone said that the Mississippi was basicly to big to dry out. Seems I was not wrong after all.

(PS: If total rain in the area godown with 10%, flow rate wouldgodown with 10% to, right?)

The misunderstanding was caused by your use of the phrase 'dry out'.

To many people, that implies no, or almost no water flowing in the Mississippi River...think of a big muddy ditch.

More precise language might be something such as: The Mississippi is predicted to have (insert percentage here) lower water flows by (insert date here), which will negatively impact current barge shipping practices.

We just need to dredge harder/deeper before the water runs out ;-/


Make-work for some lucky contractors I suppose.

Interesting how not too long ago the mighty Mississ'ip was brimming over...the weather may be experiencing more extremes...at least in the perspective of our short life spans, and our short written records in NorthAm.

Yes, we have the geologic record and tree rings and so forth...but we puny Hu Mans experience life in our present...I dimly remember as a kid that Hurricane Agnes did a find job of flooding our house basement in a small town south of Pittsburgh, PA.

Lots of variance in weather...but I am convinced that humans are helping cause GW and that GW is having noticeable effects, and will become worse....and I doubt we humans will do anything but burn, baby, burn them fossil fuels.

Patience. Probably not to far into the future we'll have an abnormally heavy snow season in the N US followed by a rapid spring thaw that will send flood waters down the MR and Nawlins will once again be faced with the prospect of being washed away. Grew up there and lived thru this cycle a number of times. Just my WAG but I suspect AGW will just make the swings more severe.

C8 – Folks have asked the same question about the cost of drilling for oil/NG: how much will increased extraction costs raise the price of those resources? Having developed oil/NG reserves for the last 37 years I’ve seen the answer first hand: not one freaking penny. LOL. I have to assume it’s the same answer re: coal.

The market place doesn’t care at all what it costs us to develop and produce oil/NG. Those prices are determined by the market forces as has always been the case and those factors don’t include extraction costs. No doubt many operators who sunk 100’s of $millions in the E Texas NG shales wish that were the case. That way those market forces would not have allowed NG process to collapse in late ‘08.

The cost of extraction doesn’t affect what price a FF sells for. But the price FF sells for (at least what’s projected) determines how much companies are willing to spend on extraction. How much more will a coal company be willing to spend in the future will depend on what they anticipate the market will pay for coal. If they guess correctly they’ll make a profit. Guess wrong and they’ll lose money. Just as I suspect many have guessed wrong in the past few years because they did not anticipate the surge of relatively low NG prices.

Chicken and egg, C8, chicken and egg. Except much simpler.

Those things comes along with using a foreign language. Sometimes it don't get quite right.

The three 300' wide by 100' deep (90 x 30 m) shipping lanes at New Orleans would remain with the river at sea level and a slow flow.

A few months ago salt water began coming upriver on the bottom as fresh water flowed over it. More fresh water stopped that trend.

The Lower Mississippi River might become almost stagnant, but it will not "dry out". Not quite as true of the Upper Mississippi River.


"Too big to dry out" is probably wrong, but is oh so typical. Once we thought there were so many fish in the sea that there was no way we could impact their numbers. The oceans are so large it doesn't matter what we throw in them. The global climate is immune to anything man can do.

Once you've seen the pictures of the dry sand banks of the Amazon River, they are hard to forget.

Cleanup of Most Challenging U.S. Contaminated Groundwater Sites Unlikely for Many Decades

WASHINGTON — At least 126,000 sites across the U.S. have contaminated groundwater that requires remediation, and about 10 percent of these sites are considered "complex," meaning restoration is unlikely to be achieved in the next 50 to 100 years due to technological limitations, says a new report from the National Research Council. The report adds that the estimated cost of complete cleanup at these sites ranges from $110 billion to $127 billion, but the figures for both the number of sites and costs are likely underestimates.

Effective thermal energy storage system: Concrete layer in tanks will increase safety and production, cut costs

Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have developed a thermal energy storage system that will work as a viable alternative to current methods used for storing energy collected from solar panels. Incorporating the researchers' design into the operation of a concentrated solar power plant will dramatically increase annual energy production while significantly decreasing production costs.

As Dengue Fever Sweeps India, a Slow Response Stirs Experts’ Fears

NEW DELHI — An epidemic of dengue fever in India is fostering a growing sense of alarm even as government officials here have publicly refused to acknowledge the scope of a problem that experts say is threatening hundreds of millions of people, not just in India but around the world.

India has become the focal point for a mosquito-borne plague that is sweeping the globe. Reported in just a handful of countries in the 1950s, dengue (pronounced DEN-gay) is now endemic in half the world’s nations.

“The global dengue problem is far worse than most people know, and it keeps getting worse,” said Dr. Raman Velayudhan, the World Health Organization’s lead dengue coordinator.

... “I’d conservatively estimate that there are 37 million dengue infections occurring every year in India, and maybe 227,500 hospitalizations,” said Dr. Scott Halstead, a tropical disease expert focused on dengue research.

Gee, yet another problem that's growing and will only be exacerbated by warming. Who'd a thunk it?

IEA initiates dialogue on the energy-security impacts of climate change

A select group of companies from the energy and manufacturing sectors met with officials from the International Energy Agency (IEA) today for the first time for an exploratory discussion on the threats to energy systems from climate change.

The meeting, which had been scheduled for several months, comes a week after Hurricane Sandy caused tens of billions of dollars’ worth of damage along the East Coast of the United States. The storm’s aftermath highlighted the vulnerability of even the most well-developed economies and energy systems to environmental impacts.

Such extreme weather events threaten electricity transmission, delivery of gasoline, as well as heat, transport and communication systems that rely on energy. Climate change may affect how energy is produced and consumed in the future. Warmer regions may be exposed to rising electricity demand for cooling in the summer. Warming can also affect electricity supply as plants that need water and air for cooling face new challenges. At the same time, sea level rise and flooding pose challenges for energy infrastructure and the transport of energy goods.

"The storm’s aftermath highlighted the vulnerability of even the most well-developed economies and energy systems to environmental impacts."

Ya think?

In other words Nature can smack us around if we get too out of hand with our GHG's. I'm wondering if we are on the leading edge of climate change gearing up in the short term, with storms becoming too numerous and impactful on infrastructure (particularly where hurricanes make landfall), along with increasing debt and higher oil prices, reduce our ability to bounce back after storms to the point of pushing civilization back from the coastlines in areas and pockets until at some future point in time people only recreate and camp there.

Our so-called "well developed" society, with more people and their stuff, interconnected systems that don't work well at all without each other, a very small percentage of the population that has a clue about how it works, how it's built, maintained and repaired; if people and communities have a plan B, it's a few cans of Beanie Weenies, a some extra batteries and a case of bottled water... all of this was (and is) predictable.

What happens when we no longer have the resources or money to rebuild things? What happens when our grids start looking like India's?

"Alligator clips, get your alligator clips, beanie weanies and lamp wire!"

Re: Australia signing Kyoto 2 agreement

At the same time, the Australian Resource Minister has released an Energy White Paper 2012 which does not see coal for electricity generation decline for at least 20 years (brown coal) and 30 years (black coal.


The same paper also states:

Liquid fuel energy security is assessed as high, trending to moderate in the long term, as Australia has continued access to adequate and reliable supplies of liquid fuels at prices that are manageable within the broader economy. (p 50)

And that's why we have this:

Australian infrastructure bosses want more traffic on motorways

From the posts above:

"Stop Looking For Oil: Writer-Activist Challenges Geologists"

Any chance of this actually happening?

If we're willing to denude the Earth to keep the SUV's running...


Another example of a fantasy that doesn’t see the most obvious fault of unintended consequences. OK: no more geologists so no more new wells drilled or other resources discovered. So how does the world respond? Let’s see: we stop burning all the known FF resources… the haves start sharing generously with the have-nots, govts immediately focus on developing the alts…etc, etc. Now the reality: govts immediately start developing policies to exert control over as much of the known resources as possible…we turn to the cheapest and most readily available energy source: coal…economic growth begins to deteriorate for those lacking sufficient access to the known energy resources…concerns over AGW and climate deterioration declines to an irrelevant practical level…etc, etc.

So a dark theoretical future. Not so theoretical, is it? Isn’t that essentially where we are today and where we are heading further in the future? IMHO yes. Finding FF hasn’t been the cause of our problems. How we’ve utilized FF is the root cause. There was always going to be some negative aspects of building societies via FF. But it was always going to be a matter of degrees…pun intended. Obviously we could have managed FF utilization better to minimize the downside. But we can’t change history. It always amazes when some folks think we’ll make matters better if we stop developing FF. The problem has always been how we utilize FF…not their existence. We are already seeing the response to decrease oil: military conflicts, economic disruption and, worse of all with respect to AGW, increased focus on coal.

For instance, some folks might not like the development of the Canadian tar sands. Realistically imagine how the US would respond if that production didn’t exist. How many more oil wars would we be engaged in? How many more coal-fired plants would we have and how many more mountain tops would be gone? IMHO there are no good choices/solutions for our current situation…just better and worse. So far it seems the politicians, with the support of the voting public, don’t seem to be making the better choices IMHO.

my sister lives or rather lived in brick township on a lagoon. her and her family wuz rescued with a front loader out of the second story window.

i drove 60 miles in 8 days and didnt have to fill up the car as i done that before sandy hit. i cant figger out where all those people drove to to be in gas lines.

i did have to drive 10 miles into ny state to get gas one day. ny state is only a mile from where i live in jersey. the area of ny is considered up state. no lines, just a 50 dollar limit at $3.90/gallon.

odd even seems to work well. still gas stations get a delivery and pump out in one day. things aint back to normal yet.

no need to worry about the apocalypse. liquor stores and pizza stores are all open and well stocked. no shortages at the local mikky dee's either.