Drumbeat: November 16, 2012

The new boom: Shale gas fueling an American industrial revival

For decades, most of the conversation about U.S. oil and natural gas has revolved around the idea of scarcity, declining output and rising prices. The seminal work by M. King Hubbert — the Shell geologist who accurately predicted in the 1950s that U.S. oil production would peak in 1971 — defined this framework.

Natural gas supplies traditionally have been seen as limited and gas prices have been volatile — burning utilities that bet too heavily on gas-fired power plants in the 1990s.

But past assumptions have been challenged by new technologies — and new uses of old technology. Years of pioneering work on drilling techniques by an independent oilman, George Mitchell, paid off. Despite concerns about water pollution risks linked to hydraulic fracturing of shale, drilling and production have soared.

The United States is rife with these shale plays, some rich in natural gas and others rich in oil. The United States is still producing less oil than in 1971, and prices are high. But the country is producing more oil than in any year since 1994, and production is rising.

Light crude surplus spins world oil trade compass

LONDON (Reuters) - The world is increasingly saturated with hitherto scarce high-quality light crude with Europe's market to join the United States in a surplus, traders say, predicting a scramble to export to Asia and a global shortage of once abundant heavy oil.

The shale oil boom has pushed U.S. production to the highest in more than 15 years and sharply cut its appetite for oil from Nigeria or Algeria as most of its domestically produced barrels are similarly light and low-sulphur, or sweet.

Now, it is Europe's turn to feel the same impact even without a U.S.-style shale boom.

There is some life yet lingering in fossil fuel

WHEN Barack Obama assumed the presidency of the US shortly after the peak of the 2008 global financial crisis, he would have jumped at a result like this.

Could a single silver bullet help cut the US's carbon-dioxide emissions to their lowest level in 20 years, while helping to revive the country's ailing manufacturing sector and create thousands of new jobs during a recession?

Oil Heads for Weekly Decline as Economy Counters Mideast Tension

Oil headed for the fourth weekly decline in five in New York as signs of a slowing economy in the U.S., the world’s biggest crude user, countered concern that tension in the Middle East will disrupt supplies.

West Texas Intermediate futures were little changed after falling 1 percent yesterday as a report showed U.S. unemployment claims climbed to the highest level since April 2011. Crude stockpiles grew last week to the highest since July as output rose to an 18-year high, according to the Energy Department. Oil pared losses after Israel said it’s ready to escalate military operations against Gaza.

China Cuts Fuel Prices 1st Time Since July as Crude Drops

China cut gasoline and diesel prices for the first time since July, threatening to reduce processing margins for refiners in the world’s second-biggest oil-consuming nation.

British Gas energy price rise ushers in tough winter for struggling households

British Gas's 8.5 million customers are now paying an extra £80 a year for their gas and electricity, taking the average annual dual fuel bill to £1,336. The price rise, introduced on Friday 16 November, comes just over a week before 3 million npower customers see their gas and electricity prices increase by 8.8% and 9.1% respectively.

The coming 'economic renaissance'

Could an energy boom, a housing recovery and easy money from the Federal Reserve be the perfect mix for an American revival? Consulting firm Oxford Economics certainly thinks so.

Tanker Supply at Seven-Month Low Seen Boosting Rates on China

The swarm of oil tankers competing to load in the Persian Gulf dwindled to a seven-month low as China draws shipments, setting the conditions for rates to extend the year’s biggest rally.

Fifty-five very large crude carriers are available in the world’s biggest exporting region in the next four weeks, the fewest since March 27, according to Marex Spectron Group, which handles freight derivatives. There have been 141 tankers booked to load this month, the most since December, said Kevin Sy, a broker at Marex Spectron in Singapore.

Ukraine Plans to Cut Imports of Russian Gas in 2013 - Interfax

Ukraine plans to reduce its purchases of Russian gas to about 20 billion cubic meters a year and increase supply from Europe next year as it tries to wean itself off Russia for its fuel needs, the Interfax news agency reports a senior executive at Naftogaz, Ukraine's state-owned oil and gas company, as saying.

Iraq energy sector to benefit from China

The growth of Iraq's energy sector will largely be fuelled by investment from Asia, according to the head of the International Energy Agency.

Surging demand for energy in China and neighbouring countries will also ensure that Saudi Arabia will reclaim its position as the world's leading oil producer after losing ground to the United States in the interim.

Egypt Urges Push for Gaza Peace as Rockets Hit Israel

Air-raid sirens sounded for a second day in Tel Aviv and an explosion was heard in the city as Israel extended its bombing of Gaza and militant groups fired rockets at the Jewish state.

Egypt’s prime minister, Hisham Qandil, visited Gaza today and called for an international effort to end the violence there, saying that “the world should take responsibility in stopping this aggression.” Israel’s army said it has deployed tanks near the Gaza border and called up reservists.

Iraq envoy says Arabs should use oil to press Israel over Gaza

CAIRO (Reuters) -- Iraq's representative to the Arab League said on Friday that Arab states should use oil as a weapon to put pressure on the United States and Israel over the attacks on Gaza.

Glencore $31 Billion Deal for Xstrata Looking Completed

Glencore International Plc’s $31 billion bid for control of Xstrata Plc has never looked so certain after the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar threw its support behind the biggest takeover of the year.

Gazprom intensifies bid to break into European market

German chemical group BASF and Russian energy giant Gazprom have agreed to swap assets of equivalent value, giving the latter direct access to European gas storage facilities. Experts speak of a win-win deal.

Petrobras Expects Production to Pick up in 2014

Investors in Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR, PETR4.BR), the Brazilian oil company, may have to wait until 2014 to see its production pick up pace even as the company works on adding facilities and improving its efficiency.

After its disappointing third-quarter results, Almir Barbassa, the company's chief financial officer, explained various plans to boost output.

Petronas Said to Answer Queries on Revised Progress Offer

Petroliam Nasional Bhd. has responded to queries from the Canadian government after submitting a modified bid for Progress Energy Resources Corp. (PRQ), a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Malaysia’s state energy company made a revised proposal after the government blocked its C$5.2 billion ($5.2 billion) takeover of the Calgary-based natural gas producer last month on grounds that it wasn’t a “net benefit” to the country. Canada wanted clarifications on the new offer said theperson, who declined to be named as the information is confidential.

The Great Oil Rush of 2012

Only months had passed since the collapse of Lehman Brothers before another bogeyman raised its head: Peak Oil. The world was running out of oil, and fast. Any day now we would be thrust into an apocalyptic Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome future where only bullets and beans would be truly reliable investments.

This made-for-Hollywood conclusion was self-evident: There's only so much petroleum in the Earth's crust, and humans consume about 85 million barrels a day. Eventually, there wouldn't be any economically viable oil left to extract. In fact, most people believe that all of the Earth's natural riches are doomed to disappear, picked clean by the industrial revolution and squandered by gas guzzlers made in Motor City.

Shell reopens pipeline hit by thieves, flooding; lifts production warning on local gas supply

LAGOS, Nigeria — Royal Dutch Shell PLC says it has reopened a pipeline in the oil-rich southern delta and has lifted a month-old production warning on its supplies to Nigeria’s liquefied natural gas plant.

A Shell spokesman told The Associated Press on Friday that Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary had lifted a “force majeure” on supply to the plant on Nov. 8. The term is used when an oil company cannot cover the promised supply from the field.

BP steadily moving beyond Gulf spill disaster

BP is not fully past the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the 2010 explosion that killed 11 workers and led to the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The company has so far set aside $42 billion to pay fines and damages resulting from the spill, and that amount may yet grow.

But the company is steadily resolving the spill's legal issues and has nearly met its target for asset sales to help pay for the spill's costs. In the process, BP PLC has reshaped itself into a somewhat smaller company — but one that's still a large and profitable force in the oil industry.

"The danger is not over," Christine Tiscareno an analyst at S&P Capital IQ in London. "But they are now a step closer" to moving beyond the disaster.

BP May Pay Billions More in Oil Spill Claims After Deal

BP Plc, which has now agreed to pay more than $12 billion in government and private party settlements over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, still faces claims seeking billions of dollars more for the catastrophe.

The $4.5 billion agreement yesterday resolving federal criminal charges and claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission left the company at risk for as much as $17.6 billion in potential fines from alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and demands by the U.S. and Gulf states for enough money to restore the region’s coastline and waters to their condition before the spill.

More corrosion found on Troll C

Tests on a Statoil-operated platform on one of Norway's largest-producing gas fields have revealed further gas tank corrosion as production remains shut in.

It will be "a few days" before the Norwegian oil major is even able to give an estimate as to how long production will remain shut in at the Troll C facility following the earlier corrosion discovery.

The Do-It-Yourself Approach to Tracking Gas Drilling

Given that government resources for environmental regulation (and just about everything else) will be constrained for a long time to come, I’ve been enthusiastic about efforts by the public to take a D.I.Y. (do it yourself) role in tracking pollution or resource issues, whether on the ground or online.

That’s why I loved learning last year how Jamie Serra, a 26-year-old employee of the state legislature in Pennsylvania, created the useful Web site Fracktrack.org as a way to organize masses of data on drilling permits, violations and other activities related to the natural gas drilling rush in that state.

The Challenges in Public Policing of Gas Drilling

Citizen mapping efforts sound good, but they are plagued by serious limitations and spatial errors that advocates gloss over and the public does not know about.

Compiling data and mapping sites accurately are both difficult to do well. That is why Apple’s digital maps have such massive and embarrassing problems.

Gas Crisis Abates, With Rations, Special Deliveries and Refinery’s Return

In addition to 1970s-era rationing, a series of critical developments behind the scenes — like emergency deliveries to gas stations and the impending return of a major refinery — have worked to ease a fuel shortage that had threatened to disrupt travel during Thanksgiving week.

Lines at gas stations have largely disappeared in New York City and on Long Island, where rationing was put in place late last week, and in New Jersey, where it was lifted this week, but the region’s tangled supply network of refineries, ports and terminals is still not close to operating normally as the difficult work to recover from Hurricane Sandy continues

As a result, industry and government officials have resorted to creative means of getting gasoline to stations whose usual supply stream has dried up.

Flood Insurance, Already Fragile, Faces New Stress

WASHINGTON — The federal government’s flood insurance program, which fell $18 billion into debt after Hurricane Katrina, is once again at risk of running out of money as the daunting reconstruction from Hurricane Sandy gets under way.

Taxpayers at Risk As Storm Bills Come Due

Federal taxpayers are not the only big group sharing the cost of decisions to build or rebuild in vulnerable coastal areas, where commercial insurers are reluctant to write policies and international reinsurance firms are even more reluctant to get involved.

As a result, for more than two decades state taxpayers and the ratepayers for state insurance plans have been effectively backstopping when it comes time for insurers to pay for wind damage, fire damage and vandalism, none of which are covered by flood insurance.

Lessons for U.S. From a Flood-Prone Land

In recent days, the Netherlands’ peerless expertise and centuries of experience in battling water have been widely hailed in the United States as offering lessons for how New York and other cities might better protect people and property from flooding. Dutch engineering companies are already pitching projects to fortify Manhattan against storms, stressing that the Netherlands has experience with a coastline and cluster of river estuaries that resemble New York’s, and pose similar flooding risks.

But Dutch officials and hydrology experts who have examined the contrasting systems of the two countries say that replicating Dutch successes in the United States would require a radical reshaping of the American approach to vulnerable coastal areas and disaster prevention.

Why Cell Phones Went Dead After Hurricane Sandy

After Hurricane Sandy, survivors needed, in addition to safety and power, the ability to communicate. Yet in parts of New York City, mobile communications services were knocked out for days.

The problem? The companies that provide them had successfully resisted Federal Communications Commission calls to make emergency preparations, leaving New Yorkers to rely on the carriers’ voluntary efforts.

Terrorist Attack on Power Grid Could Cause Broad Hardship, Report Says

WASHINGTON — Terrorists could black out large segments of the United States for weeks or months by attacking the power grid and damaging hard-to-replace components that are crucial to making it work, the National Academy of Sciences said in a report released Wednesday.

By blowing up substations or transmission lines with explosives or by firing projectiles at them from a distance, the report said, terrorists could cause cascading failures and damage parts that would take months to repair or replace. In the meantime, it warned, people could die from the cold or the excessive heat, and the economy could suffer hundreds of billions of dollars in damage.

Al Gore: nuclear power will play 'limited role' in future energy mix

Nuclear power will only play a limited role in the world's energy future because of its "absurdly high" cost, Al Gore said on Thursday.

Despite several countries, including the US, UK and China, pushing forward with plans for new nuclear reactors, the former vice-president said the economics of nuclear meant that it was unlikely to play a major role.

Australia Phases Out Solar Credits Early to Curb Power Bills

The Australian government said it will phase out a solar incentive program in January, six months earlier than scheduled, to cut electricity bills for homes and businesses next year by as much as A$100 million ($103 million).

The decision “will strike the appropriate balance between easing upward pressure on electricity prices and supporting households and suppliers who install solar” systems, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said today in a statement.

Dust Clouds, Delays Thwart Indian $1.4 Billion Solar Plan

India, planning $1.4 billion of solar-thermal power stations, expects half of the projects to be delayed and some to be scrapped as U.S. supplies stall and dust- clouds diffuse the radiation required to drive generation.

The race is on in 2nd Atacama solar challenge

ALTO HOSPICIO, Chile — Fifteen solar cars from Chile, Argentina, Venezuela and India set off Thursday on a 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) race through the uber-dry Atacama Desert in the second Atacama Solar Challenge.

The start line for the November 15-19 race, first launched last year to encourage the development of low-cost environmentally-friendly vehicles, was in the Humberstone saltpeter, about 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of Chile's capital, Santiago.

An Afterlife for the Electric Car

Advocates of electric cars and renewable energy have talked for years about repackaging the battery packs built for cars as home energy storage devices once they can no longer hold enough charge to run a vehicle. On Wednesday, ABB and General Motors announced that they were trying out just that idea with the battery packs of five Chevy Volts.

Philadelphia Lawmakers Set to Overhaul City’s Road-Sharing Rules

Alex Doty, head of the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition, supports the changes.

“We’ve seen in the last five years a doubling of bicyclists, and we had seen a doubling of bicyclists in the five years before that. So, these steady increases mean that we need to find a way for all of us to be able to coexist on our streets.”

The changes include setting the penalty for bicycling on the sidewalk at a hefty $75. It also clarifies the state penalties for “dooring,” which is when a driver opens his door just as a bicyclist is passing by.

Pedal perfect: Bikers shed spandex to inspire new riders

Style-themed bike rides are just one way in which advocacy groups are hoping to shed bicycling of its strict association with competitive racing and make it more appealing to casual riders and potential commuters in the United States, especially in communities such as Decatur making bike-friendly strides.

Bike stores are also showing up within those communities that look more like trendy boutiques than repair shops, with the goal of redefining urban bike culture. The target customers are new and aspiring cyclists, and commuters who might be turned off by the functional atmosphere of traditional bike shops. What they'll find are upright and cruiser bikes in pink and green, helmets like equestrian caps, woven baskets, canvas and leather panniers and, literally, bells and whistles.

Coolest commutes on two wheels

Over the last 5 years, commuting by bike has risen 25%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Dozens of companies have sprung up to fill the demand.

Ray Kurzweil on the future workforce

Kurzweil is the world’s most prominent futurist and the author of the recently-released “How to Create A Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed”. With his permission, I am sharing our Oct. 15 e-mail exchange. We discussed where the jobs of the future will be found and whether humanity will evolve fast enough to take advantage of the opportunities and new tools these future jobs will generate. Kurzweil’s optimism once again left me speechless.

On thin ice in the Arctic

The United States is woefully unprepared to patrol and secure this vital region.

New Zealand's Green Tourism Push Clashes With Realities

The clean and green image has long been promoted by the isolated country in its striving to compete in world markets. But an international study in the journal PLoS One measuring countries’ loss of native vegetation, native habitat, number of endangered species and water quality showed that per capita, New Zealand was 18th worst out of 189 nations when it came to preserving its natural surroundings.

Dr. Joy said that for a country purporting to be so pure, New Zealand seemed to be failing by many international environmental benchmarks.

EU Talks Said to Bring No Breakthrough on CO2 Supply Fix

European Union talks on a carbon market fix failed to bring clarity on whether governments will back a proposal by the bloc’s regulator to curb a glut of emission permits, two EU officials said.

Representatives of EU nations in the Climate Change Committee reached no breakthrough at a meeting yesterday on a draft measure to delay auctions of 900 million carbon permits starting in 2013, according to the officials, who declined to be identified citing policy. The gathering in Brussels was the first after the European Commission on Nov. 12 proposed a specific number of allowances to be delayed under the draft measure outlined earlier this year and two days later set out long-term options to improve the market, as requested by governments.

EU climate head wants Obama to pull his weight

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The European Union's climate commissioner says she hopes that President Barack Obama's renewed attention to global warming after the election will translate into greater U.S. involvement in U.N. climate talks.

Connie Hedegaard told The Associated Press during a visit to Stockholm on Thursday that many Europeans were disappointed that climate change didn't get more attention during Obama's first term.

Obama sees second-term focus on climate change

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said he plans to work with Congress in his second term to curb human-aggravated climate change, but not at the expense of the U.S. economy.

"I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior, and carbon emissions," Obama said at a televised news conference on Wednesday. "And as a consequence, I think we've got an obligation to future generations to do something about it."

Carbon Fee From Obama Seen Viable With Backing From Exxon

Exxon Mobil Corp. is part of a growing coalition backing a carbon tax as an alternative to costly regulation, giving newfound prominence to an idea once anathema in Washington.

Climate Change: Lessons From Ronald Reagan

THE re-election of President Obama, preceded by the extraordinary damage done by Hurricane Sandy, raises a critical question: In the coming years, might it be possible for the United States to take significant steps to reduce the risks associated with climate change?

A crucial decision during Ronald Reagan’s second term suggests that the answer may well be yes. The Reagan administration was generally skeptical about costly environmental rules, but with respect to protection of the ozone layer, Reagan was an environmentalist hero. Under his leadership, the United States became the prime mover behind the Montreal Protocol, which required the phasing out of ozone-depleting chemicals.

Did climate change controversy cause UVA's sacking of Teresa Sullivan?

The University of Virginia board that fired, then reinstated UVA's president earlier this year owes us all a full account of its actions.

Food security in the realm of climate change

In this twenty-first century, agriculture is at the nexus of two of the greatest challenges like ensuring food security for this huge population and adapting to climate change while critical resources like water, power and land are becoming increasingly scarce. Agriculture is highly sensitive to climate, both in terms of longer-term trends in the average conditions of rainfall and temperature. And any change in the trend of rainfall and temperature impacts food production directly.

Nepal shouldering heavy brunt of climate change despite no wrongdoing: Minister Shakya

Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Dr. Keshab Man Shakya, has said that Nepal as a least developed country is bearing the heavy brunt of climate change despite its negligible contribution to greenhouse gases as well as low consumption of ODS.

Less fortunate in U.S. hit hardest by extreme weather-report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. droughts, floods and heat waves likely fueled by climate change in the last two years hit the people who can afford it the least - the poor and middle class, a report published on Friday said.

In affected areas of U.S. states hit by five or more extreme weather events in the last two years, the median annual household income was a bit over $48,000, or 7 percent below the national median, according to the report by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank with close ties to the White House.

We Need to Retreat From the Beach

I understand the temptation to rebuild. My parents’ retirement home, built at 13 feet above sea level, five blocks from the shoreline in Waveland, Miss., was flooded to the ceiling during Hurricane Camille in 1969. They rebuilt it, but the house was completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (They had died by then.) Even so, rebuilding continued in Waveland. A year after Katrina, one empty Waveland beachfront lot, on which successive houses had been wiped away by Hurricanes Camille and Katrina, was for sale for $800,000.

That is madness. We should strongly discourage the reconstruction of destroyed or badly damaged beachfront homes in New Jersey and New York. Some very valuable property will have to be abandoned to make the community less vulnerable to storm surges. This is tough medicine, to be sure, and taxpayers may be forced to compensate homeowners. But it should save taxpayers money in the long run by ending this cycle of repairing or rebuilding properties in the path of future storms.

Conference: Rising Hudson River waters a 'new normal'

PEEKSKILL — The new normal, according to Scenic Hudson’s Sacha Spector, includes a rising Hudson River that’s already a foot higher than it was a century ago and is ready to be whipped to a froth by storms delivering increasingly powerful wallops.

Rising Temperatures Could Lead To Sea Levels Rising Three Feet Or More

Rohling and his colleagues compared the ice-volume fluctuations with polar temperature reconstructions from the Greenland and Antarctic ice cores, finding that changes in temperature and ice volume/sea level are closely coupled with a response time lag of only a few centuries. Scientists did not previously know this timing relationship, and it reveals a very fast response between global temperature and ice volume/sea level. The team also found that periods of extensive ice-volume reduction/sea level rise were always characterized by changes. These changes are on the order of 3 to 6 feet per century sea-level rise.

Himalayan glaciers will shrink even if temperatures hold steady, study says

(Phys.org)—Come rain or shine, or even snow, some glaciers of the Himalayas will continue shrinking for many years to come.

The forecast by Brigham Young University geology professor Summer Rupper comes after her research on Bhutan, a region in the bull's-eye of the monsoonal Himalayas. Published in Geophysical Research Letters, Rupper's most conservative findings indicate that even if climate remained steady, almost 10 percent of Bhutan's glaciers would vanish within the next few decades. What's more, the amount of melt water coming off these glaciers could drop by 30 percent.

Ken Burns plunges viewers into 'The Dust Bowl'

In the opening moments of Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl," several survivors of the "worst man-made ecological disaster in American history" struggle to attach a properly powerful adjective to the whole brutal ordeal.

It was "surreal," says one. "Unbelievable," offers another. Finally, an elderly woman, after giving it some careful thought, describes it as "almost evil."

Considering that similar terms were recently uttered when Superstorm Sandy wreaked horrific havoc all over the northeastern U.S., "The Dust Bowl" packs some added resonance into its two-night run on PBS.

The official page is here

If Leanan will forgive me, I can't help seeing the demise of Twinkies and Wonderbread as, at least, symbolic of the choices we're being forced to make (on several levels) going forward. Impasse between labor and management, promises made that can't be kept, sacrificing things we didn't need in the first place, though it costs jobs.

I'm sure someone else will take up the brand, determined to carry on Twinkie BAU. Just some thoughts...

Perhaps if PV panels had cute names like "Twinkies" people would view them more favorably.

I think it's a lot more complicated than that. The brand may not survive, but the products will. I'd guess we'll still have Twinkies and Wonderbread, though there might be a temporary shortage while the product lines are sold to other companies.

Pensions the big reason for this blowup. Hostess promised pensions they can no longer pay for, and the workers who were counting on them do not want to give them up.

In the larger picture...the "problem" is that the American consumer has turned away from junk food over the past 2-3 decades. Or at least, the sort of mass-market stuff Hostess produced. Wonder Bread was originally sold as healthy - it was enriched with vitamins. Now it's considered anything but healthy. People are buying whole grain breads, bagels, flatbread, tortillas - anything but Wonder Bread.

"In the larger picture...the "problem" is that the American consumer has turned away from junk food over the past 2-3 decades."

That's really my point. We're moving from a waste-based, "junk food" economy, where people perceive that they can have their "Twinkies" and eat them too, because they could always get more, and afford the consequences. Collectively, we're entering an extended period of "Twinkie withdrawal".

I don't think that's true at all. Perhaps they've lost some customers to cheaper, generic brands, but the real problem is that middle America is now buying more expensive food, and looks down on Wonder Bread and Twinkies. "Whitebread" has become an insult. People want whole grain, organic, natural, local, etc. That whole low-carb thing was brutal.

Hostess tried to adjust to the customers' change in preferences, but it's hard to sell yourself as natural and healthy when your claim to fame is Wonder Bread and Twinkies.

To me, this not about a sacrifice or a loss. It's about a company that could not keep up with its customers' changing desires.

I've got it! Whole Wheat Twinkies! Come to think of it, nah....

"I've got it! Whole Wheat Twinkies! Come to think of it, nah...."

Whole wheat Ritz crackers exist....

Once upon a (perhaps mythical) time, companies provided useful employment to citizens and made products to sell. The employees lived in and built communities; sales only had to be sufficient to pay the bills -- profits were a bonus.

Then the owners abandoned their communities and made profit the point of the enterprise, product was incidental. I worked for an international publishing company that expected 10% return on investment every year. Historically, the book business didn't work like that -- 6% was a good return, and survival was the bottom line. Despite all the formulaic spy thrillers and fantasy epics, each book is different, and you can't sell them en masse. The company with its homogenized imprints is struggling.

Hostess is now controlled by a group of investment firms including hedge funds Silver Point Capital and Monarch Alternative Capital. It has no interest in the quality of life in the communities where it runs bakeries, and little interest in the products. Investors want profit only, and it has to be a high enough profit to support the stock price. Paying the bills isn't enough.

A society must provide work for its citizens and basic means for living. The vision of common good has been drowned in the rush to riches (for a lucky few, who think they're smart, not lucky). History offers no remedies -- people will organize to make changes in their circumstances, or they'll be pushed aside by the forces commandeered by the wealthy. I hope for a revival of the commons. I won't see it.

I think we can simplify that. The word is "mismanagement". Hostess sat on products that were becoming outdated for way to long, and the management thought of the money rather than the product.

The day that someone can create an commercial version of the organic vegan twinkie is the day someone gets rich. Hostess should have been the ones making it rather than someone else. It's their product, and when people started freaking out about it being made from all sorts of weird things they should have got the clue that a true "all-natural" might work better.

Change with the times or get buried.

Before you call it "mismanagement", consider what goals was the management after. Perhaps they were very successful in their aim to squeeze profit out of the known brand and products, while it lasts, without any investment in developing new products or "keeping up with the times". When the golden goose dies, move your money to a new "investment". The assumption being that there are always such profitable new investments to make. Of course if everybody is doing the same, the world as a whole may not have good investment prospects after a while, in part because the potential customer base has been squeezed dry.

My "aha" moment on this came decades ago when I was an ecology student and learnt that it is "profitable" for a whaling company to drive its resource base (whales) extinct, because whales reproduce slowly (say 2% per year), so harvesting them at a sustainable rate results in a lower return on investment than one can supposedly get by liquidating the whale stock as fast as possible and then investing the money elsewhere in the growing economy (that is assumed to always be there, growing at 3% per year or more).

That's why I am a doomer.

Yes. Since the mid-70's I and others have been contending with that nasty dynamic. With slow-reproducing species like whales, and a higher annual percentage yield on safe investments, it makes sense to take them as fast as possible and then scrap the ships rather than maintain them. Thus, in addition to laxness at the IWC in general, the USSR and Japan conspired to kill everything they saw and keep a double set of books. The USSR is defunct, but the large japanese firms are still in business with the same management (subject to turnover, of course). Ironic that the survival of a species can depend on the interest rate - it's a whole 'nother aspect to usury in a culture.

It's interesting how methodical it was; dedicated ships were built optimized to kill blue whales, then scrapped when they were past finding in useful quantities and replaced with ships optimized in size for wiping out Fin whales, then those were scrapped, and so on as the rorquals were knocked off after the right whales and humpbacks etc were mostly killed off earlier. Japan's current enforcement ships are remnant "Shonan" class fin-whaling ships held back from scrapping since they were a useful size for at-sea intimidation and general purposes.

And once that progression ceased, they set up operations with "flags of convenience" as well as importing from "pirate" vessels which took about 5% of the prime meat of any whale in the remnant population pockets and threw the rest overboard, since the price fetched by the rest of the animal wasn't worth running it through the dummy corporations. It was profitable for all involved - the owner of some of the most wasteful "pirate" ships came right out and said that it made more sense to bank the money than keep the whales around. Reality check: humpbacks were "protected" by the IWC in 1966, but fresh humpback meat was bought by my staffmembers in Japan's markets in the mid-90's, courtesy of the tight integration between "legitimate" corporations and organized crime. It's harder since we introduced market DNA testing - they don't like me much - but the harm has mostly been done.

And not only is there profit in the hunting of slow-reproducing species like whales to extinction. If a species gets rare at all, it is talked up within asian nations as a cure or potion for something or other, or simply good luck to carry around. In this case, those who buy large quantities of the endangered species product and store them will often raise the price in the manner of a diamond cartel by withholding it from the market, making each individual critter worth a fortune and creating a mechanism for extinction. Once extinct, their hoards become nearly priceless... even if there was no actual "luck" or pharmacological effect at all, which is nearly always the case. Just a toxic meme thing in human commerce., extinction speculation.

Twinkies had a good run... just think of all the species they outlasted....

Thanks, Greenish, for the lesson in whaling, investment style. I am guessing that this is a story that can be adjusted to apply in many types of business scenarios. Having worked in the payday loan business for a year or so and "seen a lot," I can attest that making the poor into penniless and homeless (and sometimes dead) has never been a big concern of the financiers. What is interesting is that as their "marks" become extinct, there are always new marks being generated by rising costs of living combined with lower income offerings. Those who prey on the poor may have the best cons going these days. And this does relate to the current situation for the Hostess bakery workers, who continued picketing all day today just down the road from me.

Here is a bit more detail on the recent "history" of the Twinkie company, Hostess. Private equity bought it, leveraged it, paid out large money to executives and then for a second time asked employees to bail it out. All very Romnyish, if I read this right. Sounds to me as if the "efficiency expert consultants" of the past just figured out a way to make lots of money off of failing to apply efficiency to save a company. That none of the private-equity-installed management were familiar with the "business of baking stuff" is ever so telling. No wonder they failed to "keep up with current trends, Leanan. "They" didn't need to. I understand that they have promised to liquidate this time, and the folks who were still picketing today were hoping (according to the local TV news interviewers) that the company will be bought and they might still have a job. Hostess management and PR have blamed the bakers' union in every news release -- those greedy union members have killed our company. I do hope that some major media reporters will dig a little deeper. This was not just about pensions, either. They were asked to take yet another pay cut. These are people who are barely making out already and took a pay cut already, based on promises not kept. What would you do?


Workers were being asked to accept cuts, but top executives had gotten massive raises as Hostess was about to enter bankruptcy. Investments in the company's future that had been promised as part of restructuring after the previous bankruptcy were never made. And as for the management, put in place by the private equity companies that now own Hostess, Hurt says:

"Unfortunately however, for the past eight years management of the company has been in the hands of Wall Street investors, "restructuring experts", third-tier managers from other non-baking food companies and currently a "liquidation specialist". Six CEO’s in eight years, none of whom with any bread and cake baking industry experience, was the prescription for failure."

I definitely get the feeling that just as in your whaling story, there are those who are very assiduously planning to suck every dollar possible out of the "little people" of this nation before there are no dollars left there to take. And this seems to be the basic problem for many in Europe, as well. I see a lot of people buying bunches of "white bread" at the supermarket -- they may very well wish they can pay$3.00+ for a loaf of whole wheat or specialty bread, but $0.99 is all they can manage. And a bunch more people in my community are now unemployed, and it is NOT the fault of greedy unions!

Wonder wasn't cheap white bread though -- it's a premium brand (or was).

There might be multiple areas of shared blame for the corporate failure, but it's hard to argue that unions that attempt to perpetuate an unsustainable fantasy world of high wages, early retirement, and good pensions aren't partially responsible. Pretty much the grain workers union decided they'd rather be unemployed than accept a lower lifestyle. Even the Teamsters didn't want to take that stance. Just because some believe they *should* have more doesn't mean they'll win a game of chicken.

I'm reminded that in any domain, "healthy" entities tend to be healthy much alike, while "failing" entities tend to fail uniquely. Stress finds the weakest point, and that's where fracture occurs.

But as Leanan says, the final fracture is just the result of a straw breaking a back, while the bulk of the weight was pensions and a intransigent culture steeped in a calcified history.

It's a complex situation. Yes, management is a bunch of vulture capitalists. Dying companies always attract vultures, and Hostess has been dying for a long time. Perhaps the union misjudged the situation...but I don't think so. I think many decided, as the link I posted put it, that their backs were against the wall and they had nothing to lose.

I am not anti-union. I used to be, until spending a few years in the workforce made me realize that you simply cannot trust large organizations to do the right thing. Unions certainly have their flaws. (Years ago, a shop steward suggested that if I did not vote for the contract he supported, I might end up with broken kneecaps.) But mostly, I see them as good counterbalances to corporate power.

However, they need to recognize the limits of their power (and generally do - labor has declined steadily since the '70s). It sounds to me like in the Hostess case, the divide was what it often is in union votes: older workers vs. younger workers. (I'd guess the union that voted no just had more younger workers than the others.) The workers who were only a couple of years from retirement were hoping to get there by voting for the concessions. The younger workers saw the jobs as not worth saving. Basically, their salaries were halved, plus they had to pay more for their benefits. A job that had paid $48,000, now paying $25,000. And no guarantee it would save the company. Likely, it would only prolong the death throes.

One noteworthy item, The Teamsters vote was by secret ballot.
The Bakers union vote was not.

Executives take huge pay rises so they can extract pensions based on those 'final salaries'.


Fossil fuels enable people to commit these kinds of horrors.
Without fossil fuels, people's urge to survive, a kind of fiesty, passionate, partly brutal urge to fight and win can be useful or cute, out there on a cold mountain and wrestling a mountain goat with one's bare hands. Spearing a whale with a hand spear from a wooden row boat, a person with a bow and arrow in the wooods, etc.

But put fossil fuels in their passionate hands and people do really commit crimes against the natural world that become also crimes against humanity, who shares the natural world.

People are trapped by fossil fuels; our urge to "make it" and survive has been so necessary. But we did turn into monsters when fossil fuels, instead of hand spears and bows and arrows became the tools.

Indeed. I have no problems with animals eating one another, and animals is what we are. But feeding species into a business model can be a pretty cold calculation.

Now I will note that the creator of Japan's large far-seas whaling fleet that did most damage was none other than Douglas MacArthur; it was the cheapest way to provide meat to postwar Japan. However, what that turned into was a pretty nasty thing.

We're a long way from spears... and even in spearing days, we seem to have wiped out a lot of megafauna.

Thanks for that sickening summary and good luck with the DNA work. Megaptera novaeangliae are a favourite here, they come here to breed and calve. They are amazing to see up close and you can hear their singing while diving.


Sorry that the stories related to my projects are sickening, and of course they are. That's why I've done them rather than something enjoyable with my life. But even though the whole thing is a bit soul-killing when you do it right, it is one way to live a life. Reality is there to engage with, and it can be pretty real.

I've looked into an adult humpback's eye from within reach of its pectoral fin, screamed a paleolithic scream when a large male breached about into a plane cockpit I was hanging out of in a 90-degree bank right off the water while photo ID'ing them, held a young one upright in the water feeling its odd sounds through my bones as its odd eye looked into mine from inches away... and as its whale lice migrated to me and started seriously biting. Have heard their singing underwater many times. Unfortunately, my projects have also found baby humpbacks hacked up on docks, interacted with pirate ships which destroyed entire populations... etc... it may seem that I'm one of the darker posters here, but I've come by it honestly. Catastrophic dieoffs are no abstract theory to me; the dieoff is in progress, humans have just pushed everything else to the front of the line.

You definitely would not want to know the stuff I know, or see a lot of what I've seen.

But still, attempting to save such a species is worth a lot of effort. I'm surprised there are so few competent humans who have seriously tried it.

Thanks for your thanks.

Thanks for telling it like it is. There is far too much cleansing of the information. Good luck with your work, if it ever brings you to this part of the world then let me know. We love the humpbacks here and try not get too close as they have their calves. Everyone was upset when an Orca got a calf a while back but OTOH there was a sense of triumph when one was freed from ropes. They are due back about now and will enter the bay once the waters cool sufficiently.


As Alan would say, best hopes for "big-winged new-englanders".

They will be arriving here in Hawaii as well (I forget where you are, but probably not in Hawaii if orca predation is a problem). Despite my anecdotes, my work has focused on keeping humans a safe distance from whales; my personal nearness has been inadvertent or necessary. It's nice to know that there are critters like that out swimming around now which would not have been if I'd stayed in the oil industry.

Of course, an upcoming human free-for-all and treaty holiday will likely knock them all off during the human food bottleneck this century, and any remnants will face entirely new food chains due to ocean acidification. However, that's grist for a different depressing series of posts.

They may have little hope short of a movie idea I once pitched to Paramount. Not a likely outcome in the real world.

A friend of mine was an early investor in Block Buster. He said that their bankruptcy did not bother him; he had his investment returned 4 times over a dozen years. He could care less.

"Mismanagement" makes it sound like a simple case of bad judgement or poor strategy. I think mudduck framed it better.

To me, this not about a sacrifice or a loss. It's about a company that could not keep up with its customers' changing desires.

Sorry, but I'm not just not able to buy this line of thinking. Sure Wonder Bread and Twinkies may be unhealthy and people probably shouldn't be eating it anyway and they probably do want better. But life can not be distilled into profits and losses and people are not just customers!

This is yet another symptom that the system we have built is profoundly flawed, it was built on false premises and the idea that the sacrifice and the losses of the many, should benefit the few. It's built on the idea that it is OK to manipulate people into wanting things that they do not need or may even be harmful to them in the name of corporate profits. Even the phrase "customer's changing desires", is a very loaded one, given the context.

The system is starting to break down and in doing so it will cause much loss and suffering to those that it takes down with it. 18,000 workers in this case. Though I'm sure that most of them will eventually give up looking for jobs that they can't find anyway and sooner rather than later they too, will no longer be counted as unemployed. This is what I think The long Emergency and slow collapse look like. And it's probably not all a bad thing either.

This is what I think The long Emergency and slow collapse look like.

Very true, and the Bakers Union just could not accept that. The Teamsters Union apparently do accept reality.

I think it's really hard to say the failure of a company like Hostess is evidence of the system breaking down and the Long Emergency. Companies fail all the time. Even in the best of times, some go belly-up due to changing customer tastes, new technology, or, yes, mismanagement. Hostess makes products that are as outdated as Kodak 110 film cameras.

However, I found this piece interesting:

Beyond Twinkies: Why More Workers Are Striking

You'd have to look back some 40 years to see when American workers were really active.

During the 1970s, there was a yearly average of 289 major work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers in the U.S. By the 1990s, that had dropped to some 35 each year. In 2009, there were only five.

But in 2010, there were 11 major work stoppages in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That climbed to 19 in 2011.

The '70s was, perhaps coincidentally, the decade of peak oil USA and the energy crisis.

OTOH, there's this:

3 percent pay raise the ‘new normal’ for 2013

As the economy picks up, slightly higher pay raises are coming with it.

Many U.S. workers can expect to bring home 3 percent more in 2013 than they did this year, according to forecasts from national compensation surveys .

People are getting bigger raises and more promotions. That is not what I thought the Long Emergency would look like.

Three percent is barely keeping up with inflation, and about the minimum required to keep good employees, especially considering the last few years. From the PDF link:

“The results of this survey are similar to past years in terms of compensation – slow growth, lots of challenges and not a lot of money to spend,” said David Van De Voort, principal, Buck Consultants. “However, we’ve moved past the environment of several years ago when employers were freezing pay and reducing 401(k) matches.”

Perhaps employers have moved past the point of being able to ask more of their workers but not offering more compensation. They're also doing a bit of give and take:

Employees will pick up more of their own health insurance costs. Companies continue to ask workers to assume a higher share of health care premiums, negating some pay increases. “We have the added complication of Obamacare and employers trying to figure out how to cope with that,” Van De Voort says. Some companies are cutting back hours so employees won’t be eligible, while others want to provide benefits “but are struggling to figure out how to afford that,” he says.

While I'm sure many employers are experiencing something of a rebound from their lows, things seem a bit stagnant overall, especially considering that the total workforce has declined significantly since 2008:


Pretty lame when one considers the $trillions that have (supposedly) been injected into the economy. Meanwhile, healthcare costs continue to rise, infrastructure continues to deteriorate, plenty of other metrics, when viewed holistically, not a crash; not a recovery. Did WT mention a Red Queen somewhere?

People were eating something like 500 million Twinkies a year. It's a lot. All those trucks that carried billions of Ding Dongs, HoHos, etc. all parked. All sold off for scrap....All the factories quiet, shut. their parking lots, empty. Obviously millions of people still like Twinkies. But in this kind of economy, it isn't possible to just grab one mindllessly and include it in the items you were buying. Now we have to think "do I really need it?" Millions of people just stopped eating them so frequently, and no doubt, the cost of Twinkies was just not worth the small pleasure and energy they gave.

I am sure that if a huge earth-sized ball filled with pure light-sweet crude oil wafted next to Planet Earth and delivered its cargo via a long pipe from the sky, everyone would cheer loudly, cars and shops would start booming,costs of all sorts of things would go down and Twinkies would be resurrected, perfect and cheap, useful for busy people on the go and construction workers on the way to a job.

I myself have always found Twinkies to be disgusting. I ate one bite when I was 8 and that was the last one. The oil that would have powered the Twinkies empire will go somewhere else, and that is a good thing.

The demise of Twinkies is in every way a peak oil story and it's no wonder that the history of Twinkies tracks America's industrial era closely.

Here in Japan, over half of all McDonalds restaurants will shut down next year. It is the same issue: not enough busy people with extra cash to spend on something frivolous and junky, sticky sweet or greasy. People are poor, people are staying home. If they buy food, better have it be filling, simple, wholesome, and good value.

Good riddance, truly. I have long found McDonalds and Twinkies to be quite appalling examples of "food".

And it is very likely that McDonalds will shut down many stores in the US in 2014: my prediction!!!! I don't make them often, but here is one I would really bet money on. Yeah, one reason is because the unemployed Twinkies workers were surely big customers of McDonalds.....Another reason is the fiscal cliff....

I doubt they'll be sold for scrap. Some other company will purchase the brands, and the trucks, factories, and everything else will sold and used, not scrapped.

And I question that 500 million number. (Even if it's real, there are 300 million people in the US. That's less than one package a year per person.)

According to this article:

Nearly 36 million packages of Twinkies were sold in the year ended Dec. 25. That's a drop of almost 2% from a year earlier

Some of that might be packages with multiple units, but still...that seems like a far cry from 500 million.

Obviously millions of people still like Twinkies. But in this kind of economy, it isn't possible to just grab one mindllessly and include it in the items you were buying.

I'm sure the economy didn't help, but Hostess itself blames customers who have "migrated to healthier foods," not the economy.

Back in the '70s, it was common for many kids to eat Hostess "pastries" and similar products daily. Mom would put a package of Twinkies into the lunch box every day with the sandwich and thermos of milk. Now, that would be considered practically child abuse.

"Little Debbie" cupcakes have actual flavor and cost less. "All America" apple pies are better and cost less.

Hostess/IBC cost-reduced their product and raised prices... I guess in chasing the ever-increasing quarterly results.

Reynolds "Heavy-Duty" aluminum foil became renamed "Heavy Strength" and is much thinner for the same cost. The regular foil is now almost unusably thin.

Purina "One" "lamb and rice", always a sketchy product and much litigated, became "Lamb and Rice Formula"... and when you open the bag, it smells like a ground-up chicken coop... because it is mostly chicken products and corn sold to you at a super premium price. The $20+ bag has a value of <$5. Smart-And-Final "Smarty" brand Lamb Meal and Rice is a good buy.

Buying a brand-name in America means getting a brand name, not getting the best value, not anymore.

It is true that businesses have abused their brands, first by allowing once premium products to slide into mediocrity, then by selling the brand names off to the highest bidder. Aside from food products, this trend has been prominent in consumer electronics for many years. Once proud names, such as RCA, exist only as a logo on low end equipment.

Same with power equipment: Troy Built (Garden Way); Homelite; etc., once great products, mostly just junk now. Even with great brands like Husqvarna you have to pay much more for their "Pro" line to get near the quality all of their products used to have. I found two old "Made in USA" Homelite chainsaws at a flea market recently - bought both for $60, cleaned them up, now the pride of my arsenal. Simple, tough, hard to get parts for, but rarely need parts. Both have "Use no Gasahol" stamped in the cover.... funny.

I went to the grocery store this morning, and a bunch of middle-aged men were chatting, talking about a friend who is freaking out over the Twinkie shortage. They thought it was hilarious. He was searching eBay and Craigslist for Twinkies. Even though, as you and they noted, Little Debbie has a very similar product that's cheaper.

Meanwhile, Twinkie collectables are hot items on eBay. Would you believe a lunchbox going for $690?

The Hostess announcement had an obvious impact on bidding. The lunch box, advertised as "mint condition, never used," was listed on Nov. 9 with a starting price of $14.99. There were no bids for a week. But then, on Friday morning, 58 bids pushed the price to $690. Most of those bids occurred in less than two hours.

Only in America...

One sees these sorts of articles around this time of year.

However, I tend to wonder about these numbers and their significance. Even if you take at face value the possibly questionable assertion that the median employee will see his pay upped by 3%, there is the question of benefits. The article does allude to higher deductions for health insurance. What about pensions? Defined benefit plans used to be commonplace, at least with larger employers. If you still have one, it is likely to be underfunded and your your share of the contributions will be growing. And if you belong to a defined contribution plan, the likelihood is that the employer's contribution and the returns are both modest. Then there are the apparently growing number of contract workers who have no benefits.

I suspect that there will be an increasingly stressful situation where many older employees have little choice but to hang on to their jobs to the detriment of opportunities for younger people.

One day Cool Whip will go the way of the buggy whip.

Wired Magazine: "A delicious blend of sugar, wax, and condom lube."

Ah! The wonders of science, where would we be without it? The deep rooted drive to synthesise everything natural into a man made facsimile is almost religious. The dark side of the Renaissance.

After I showed up with Anemia in around '68, Mom started finding out about real foods, and we've been extracting ourselves from the factory foods bit by bit ever since.

Industrial Food processes aren't all bad.. but they do ALL have to be evaluated and understood.

I don't even feel comfortable with a diet of Regular (Even Homemade) Yeasted Wheat Bread, Pastas or Granolas. We have to expand our understanding of Grain Nutrition and the effects of cooked vegetable oils, which are two enormous troublespots in our diet, whether it's in Junk Food or 'Whole Foods'.. big blind spots.. on TOP of all that Sugar!! While I'm also still convinced (and our diet so far fully affirms) that Whole Raw Milk, Butter, Cheese etc.. is not a problem at all for those who can digest dairy.

The arguments are fairly intense.. but as with the Hostess Issue, it does seem to show that a lot of people are at least paying attention to it all, and not just blindly stuffing their faces. (And of course, a lot still do, as well.)

Amusingly, my wife brought home a sample of a new, local Butter from the food co-op with the warning on the labelling that it 'Contains Dairy' ..

Oh the Humanity!

Thankfully it doesn't say "may contain dairy"!


Believe it or not, Twinkies are relevant to oil.

Twinkies inter alia, contain:

The dessert cakes contain sorbic acid, which is derived from natural gas. Some ingredients were found to come from the oil fields of China. Others came from phosphate mines in Idaho. So-called vitamins in the dessert come from petroleum.

(A Closer Look ...). Like thousands of other things we use every day.

I'm sure someone else will take up the brand, determined to carry on Twinkie BAU. Just some thoughts...

Twinkie BAU? LOL!

From the linked article:

"The company is now controlled by a group of investment firms, including hedge funds Silver Point Capital and Monarch Alternative Capital.

I can just see them now with their aprons and chef's hats just rolling in the dough...

Well, maybe not that kind of dough...

These changes are on the order of 3 to 6 feet per century sea-level rise.

It's fasinating how projections regarding GW and their effect were so conservative to begin with, followed by numerous increases. At one point they were claiming sea level would rise would be measured in milimeters, and now we are up to several feet per century. It's worth reflecting on the question as to why projections are always so conservative to begin with?

Contrary to what most people think about climate scientists is that they are very conservative with interpreting data and extrapolating it. The price for being wrong is science is your reputation, i.e. your political capital. It is for that reason that scientists do not like crying wolf. Now that more data of higher quality has emerged, scientists are more confident in predicting more extreme scenarios...

They are very conservative, period.

For all the nonsense about them being "socialist", climate scientists have a very conservative temperament, and many of them were in fact right of center. (Until the right wing started calling them the worst possible names you could call scientists, that is.)

If they are that conservative and these are their new projections - oh sh[redacted]!!!


The ironic thing is that the actual heat rise is lower than most (but not all) projections, but the effects are worse than most projections (sea ice, droughts, superstorms, etc.).

Which is why I prefer the term "Climate Chaos". You take a metastable system, inject something that changes the heat balance and watch the experiment unfold.

Here's my analogy... the Earth's temperature for the last few million years has been like a spinning plate precariously balanced on top of a pole. Very gentle pushes from the sun, the tilt of the axis and shape of the orbit, have caused it to wobble up and down by about 6 degrees. That's been enough to shift between hippos in the river Thames (at the hot extreme), and woolly mammoths roaming on top of a mile of ice (at the cold extreme).

And then, quite suddenly, human beings have given the plate a hard shove on one side, throwing it out of balance. It's now going to fall off and break.

It's now going to fall off and break.

...And all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put the hippos and woolly mammoths together again...

Well, to be fair, they might put a mammoth or two together but as for the ecosystems that might have supported them, not likely.

Dr. Albert Bartlett likes to say "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."

I think there are two other things that the human race also has trouble understanding. 1) the laws of thermodynamics and 2) Chaos theory.

That's a good trifecta, Fred. 1) EF->overpopulation et. al. 2)TD->total ignorance of things such as net energy & 'the greenhouse effect' 3)CT->zero understanding of climate dynamics and the fragility of complex human systems.

Remember that only a small percentage of warming shows up in the atmosphere, and gets measured by weather stations (the usual temperature record). The rest of the heat (95%+) is going into other exciting things like melting ice and warming the oceans to ever-increasing depths. Note that there is a huge mass of ocean to warm, in comparison to a small mass of atmosphere.

Further, the total global warming is directly measurable from satellites etc since it's quite easy to do a total budget of "energy coming in" - "energy going out" and observe a truly massive difference. (A shocking visualisation is that the total imbalance would be enough to boil Sydney harbour dry, every twelve hours. See http://www.skepticalscience.com/Breaking_News_The_Earth_is_Warming_Still...). That imbalance is quite in line with predictions, and it is a physical necessity that all that extra heat has to go somewhere.

So claims to the effect that global warming has "stopped", or "paused" or is "slowing down" are not just empirically wrong, but physically impossible.

it's quite easy to do a total budget of "energy coming in" - "energy going out" and observe a truly massive difference.

You have to subtract two numbers, both of which have significant uncertainty associated with them. The incoming solar is something like 338watts per meter squared, the outgoing (reflected plus radiated) is almost the same. The imbalance is a few tens of a watt, or about one part in a thousand. I don't think we can measure those quantities that accurately -especially the outgoing which varies by location time-of-day and weather. A satellite only samples this variable field one point at a time, and probably doesn't even sample the poles, so deriving a proper heat budget is frought with difficulties. A better approach is to measure the warming ocean.

In round numbers its 1 W/m2. (Hansen had it in the range of 0.7-1.0 the best part of a decade ago, and there is no reason to expect it to be lower now).

Mostly it goes into warming oceans (1 mm/yr from the thermal expansion) and only a couple of % goes into melting land ice. If it all went into melting land ice it would be 100 mm/yr, but only about 2% is at the moment.

Incoming radiation can be measured extremely accurately, its the way the outgoing radiation varies with time and place that makes it hard to get an accurate global integration. Working backwards from satellite measurements of sea level and ice cap mass changes is probably more accurate.

There's not a lot of difference between mm/yr and ft/century. Feet or metres are generally used when talking about the total possible change or the rate on century to millenium timescales, and mm/yr when talking about the current rate.

5m is the expected sea level rise from paleoclimate reconstructions when there was a 350 ppm CO2 atmosphere. With the current atmosphere about 400 ppm and rising, is not a matter of if there will be 5m sea level rise, but when it gets there. Ice melt rates doubled on a decadal timescale in the immediate past, and if they continue to accelerate at that rate, it will be this century. However, to happen that fast requires most of that 1 W/m2 in the energy imbalance to go into melting ice caps (possible if they slide down a mountain into the sea, but not if they melt in-situ).

Well, James Hansen is a very well-known climate scientist, and he's been saying for a while now to expect sea level rises of 5m (15 feet) per century. And that was based on real geological evidence of how fast ice sheets collapsed at the end of the last ice age. The problem is the climate modellers: none of them had any models under which Greenland or Antarctica could melt that fast. So they basically said "can't happen" and projected a few cm instead.

The best models are finally starting to produce melts in the 1-2m per century range, and so those are the projections we're now seeing. I'm still inclined to go by what happened in the past, rather than what models say may happen in the future.

Note that the models have also been hopelessly conservative on sea ice (Arctic) and land snow cover (North America, Northern Europe and Siberia around the Arctic). When climate skeptics say "we can't trust computer models" they are quite right... reality is proving a whole lot worse.

Hansen may be right, but all the recent loss of sea ice and loss of land snow cover has yet to affect the rate of sea level rise of 3.1mm per year.

This has been linear for the last 20 years (http://sealevel.colorado.edu/), giving 0.3m sea level rise per century, not Hansen's 5.0m. Or, in imperial units, 10.7 inches by the year 2100.


No reason to expect loss of sea ice to affect sea level. And 20 year seems a pretty short window.


It is not the same everywhere, in any nation, or on any continent.

The East Coast of the U.S., where Hurricane-Superstorm Sandy just killed, maimed, and destroyed, has the highest sea level rise of any place on Earth:

There is virtually universal agreement among scientists that the sea will probably rise a good meter or more before the end of the century, wreaking havoc in low-lying coastal counties. So the members of the developers’ lobbying group NC-20 say the sea will rise only 8 inches, because … because … well, SHUT UP, that’s because why.

That is, the meter or so of sea level rise predicted for the NC Coastal Resources Commission by a state-appointed board of scientists is extremely inconvenient for counties along the coast. So the NC-20 types have decided that we can escape sea level rise – in North Carolina, anyhow – by making it against the law. Or making MEASURING it against the law, anyhow.


“We’ve got the highest rate of sea level rise on the East Coast,” said Skip Stiles, executive director, Wetlands Watch, who will be making a presentation on the historic, current and future sea level changes and potential impact on the Eastern Shore.

Stiles said some of the evidence of sea level rise visible to people who spend time around the water include seeing wetlands disappear, ditches going tidal, backyard vegetation changes, and “ghost forests” — full grown trees that are dead along the shore because the water is “moving in underneath them.”
Stiles said all of the Virginia tide gage measurements are showing about the same rise of a foot and a half over the last 100 years.


The USGS indicates that past estimates of sea level rise have been underestimates by a factor of 4, while another study indicates that the east coast areas north and south of New York rise four times more than the global average (16=4x4).

(Social Dementia ...). I know that confilicts with what you indicated. The links to authorities are in the post (Scientific American, Nature, etc.).

Loss of sea ice won't increase sea level because it's already floating... that's pretty basic physics. Loss of snow cover (of a few inches to a few feet) also can't change sea level much.

Melting an ice sheet that's two miles high (aka Greenland, West Antarctica)... now that's what going to raise sea level by 15 feet or more. To be fair to the modellers, it's hard to conceive that something so big could melt away in around a century. Yet that's what happened to even larger ice sheets 10,000 years ago.

Those rapid rates of rise were during the melting from the LGM (LastGlacialMaximum), and included catastrophic breakups of floating (or near floating ice), for instance Hudsons bay. The modern planet doesn't much land ice that can breakup into the oceans -or giant glacially dammed lakes, so I don't think the pleiostecene melt rates tell us much about our future.
I'll believe those 1-2M per century rates as being credible, 5M not so much.

Working with easily assembled data, the ocean average depth is 4,267 meters. A 5 degree C rise in temperature would increase volume by .06% (from 999.1026 to 999.7026 kg/m3). Thus, a 5 deg increase in sea water temp would increase volume by .0006 x 4,267, or 2.5602 meters average. That is just the impact of warming on the water presently in the oceans.


So, we are looking at almost 2 meters increase for a 3 degree rise, which is about what is anticipated with no change in policy, and CO2 levels going to about 450.

Now, let's add the melt water... Not a pretty picture for New Jersey, eh, Governor Christie? Nor for Florida. In fact, coastal economies might expect some hard times a-coming.


Nor for Florida. In fact, coastal economies might expect some hard times a-coming.

Too bad I'm not 30 years younger, I'd be getting into the business of underwater archaeological tours, taking scuba divers to visit the great sunken cities of civilizations past. >;-)

My understanding is the IPCC did not have a consensus on how fast the ice caps would melt, and (since it's a consensus document) they left it out.

Another issue is how exactly the ice caps will melt .... original estimates assumed that it would be like a giant ice cube, melting from the outside surfaces. However, it's more complicated, since they are glaciers that flow, and their flow rate may depend on climate.

Yep, that was one of the daftest parts of the last IPCC report. To paraphrase, "There's this huge unknown, which we've no consensus on how to estimate, and no models that anyone really believes. So let's estimate it at zero!"

Also the IPCC review rules are to only take science thats been published before the cutoff date, which is a few years before the reports compilation/release. Reports of accelerated melting in Greenland were coming in, but after the deadline.

People from the IPCC has warned that the next assessment will be much more serious. Data are catching up with reality.

Perk Earl,

The degree of acceleration is not properly factored into the computer models, which are more linear in design than they should be.

Also, blowback has not been properly implemented into their algorithms.

They are working on it.

It's fasinating how projections regarding GW and their effect were so conservative to begin with, followed by numerous increases. At one point they were claiming sea level would rise would be measured in milimeters, and now we are up to several feet per century. It's worth reflecting on the question as to why projections are always so conservative to begin with?

Because unlike the crazy conspiratorial portrayals of scientists by denialists, sciences are by nature conservative with their work. In science, the ultimate win is to prove someone else wrong and there is little to be gained by making an outrageous assertion, so they tend to make conservative projections and put in lots of qualifiers.

Conservative is wrong when the numbers are known, so is liberal. "Just the facts ma'am", the actual numbers, is what scientists should set forth.

The conservative numbers are wrong, have been repeatedly wrong, and there is nothing scientific about wrong numbers when the right numbers are available.

However, when the numbers are not known, then a range is a better approach, for example "between 6 and 12 inches of sea level rise" would encompass both the low scientific probability as well as the high scientific probability.

Mamby pamby feel good numbers, whether conservative or liberal, are for politicians who are afraid to make the public afraid when the public needs to be afraid (so they will demand sane policy).

Just sayin' ...

Given that certain "political" actors will grasp at any straws to discredit the IPCC, they have to be very careful about what science they let into the report. The denialists sure made a lot of hay out of one poorly written section on Himalayan glacier melt. So not accepting science that hasn't been exposed to peer review for a couple of years is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

When we do not know the problem, the problem is of size 100, and our knowledge is of size 0. As we learn about the problem, we uncover the truth piece by piece. So we start out at 0, then gradually goes towards 100. In this process, we experience how the news just get worse all the time. They will keep getting worse, untill we know the full truth.

My $64 Trillion Question

The following sketch (which illustrates my lack of Powerpoint skills) shows some normalized ECI and GNE/CNI values for the Six County Case History (Indonesia, UK, Egypt, Vietnam, Argentina, Malaysia) and for GNE, ANE and for Saudi net exports:


The index year (Index Year = 100%) for the Six Country Case History is 1995, and for GNE, ANE and Saudi net exports the index year is 2005.

In any case, here is what I have framed as the $64 trillion question.

Given the similarities between six years of generally declining Saudi and global ECI type ratios and the Six Country case history, why would we expect subsequent Saudi and global net export data to show a materially different outcome from the Six Country Case History? And as previously noted, projecting the six year initial rate of decline in the Six Country ECI Ratio produced a CNE estimate that was too optimistic.

Here are some simple percentage changes, from 1995 to 2001, for the Six Country Case History:

Production: -6%
Consumption: +12.5%
Net Exports: -29%
ECI Ratio: -15%
Post-1995 CNE: -75%

Note that after six years of declining ECI values, the cumulative depletion in the post-1995 supply of net exported oil was more than 12 times greater than the observed decline in production. (And again, the estimated CNE depletion rate after six years of declining ECI values was too optimistic.)

Here are some simple percentage changes, from 2005 to 2011, for ANE (Available Net Exports), and one estimate:

GNE: -4%
CNI: +63%
ANE: -12.4%
GNE/CNI Ratio: -41%

Estimated post-2005 Available CNE: -48%

Note that after six years of declining GNE/CNI values, the estimated cumulative depletion in the post-2005 supply of Global Net Exports that will be available to importers other than China & India is more than 10 times greater than the observed decline in Global Net Exports.

Some definitions:

GNE = Global Net Exports (Top 33 net exporters in 2005, BP + Minor EIA data)
ANE = Available Net Exports (GNE less Chindia's Net Imports)
CNI = Chindia's Net Imports
ECI = Export Capacity Index, ratio of total petroleum liquids production to liquids consumption
GNE/ CNI = Ratio of GNE to CNI
CNE = Cumulative Net Exports
NECI = Normalized ECI
N GNE/CNI = Normalized GNE/CNI

I wonder if we could develop a metric that would be analogous to the Export Capacity Index (ECI, or ratio of total petroleum liquids production to liquids consumption) but that would apply to individuals.

What if we divided the Production of Essential Goods & Services by the Consumption of Essential Goods & Services to derive a ratio which would predict one's ability to cope with the ongoing reality of constrained Global Net Exports of oil.

Of course, "Essential" is in the eye of the beholder, but I would classify Essential Goods & Services as the production of food & energy (and goods & services related to same), elementary & secondary education, basic housing, mass transit, basic transportation (e.g., bicycles), basic medical care, technical & vocational training, etc. We could call it the EGS ratio (Essential Goods & Services Ratio).

I suspect that the EGS Ratio for most Americans would be zero, e.g., everyone in the entertainment industry, in the sense workers in the entertainment industry consume Essential Goods & Services, but produce none, thus their EGS ratio = zero.

Breaking news...explosion at well in the Gulf; Coast Guard is on the way.


Let's hope they find everyone.

Sadly, a local official is saying 2 deaths. Still not confirmed, tho.

It appears that the reports on this are sketchy. Some reports saying West Cote Blanche which is south of New Iberia and other reports saying West Delta 32 which is South of Grand Isle in Jefferson parish. The report on the link said they talked to a council person from Jefferson parish, so I don't think it's West Cote Blanche. From what I've seen this is a platform with NO drilling operations at all. If that's the case there would be very few workers maybe 10 at the most on the platform (unless they had service work going on), where a drilling rig in this water depth would have around 50 to 80.

Coast Guard Working Gulf Platform Explosion

The U.S. Coast Guard tells KATC two helicopters and an airplane are searching for two people who are missing. According to Petty Officer Third Class Jonathan Lally, the two workers may have went overboard. Four people were airlifted off the platform. We do not know if anyone was injured. The platform is in the area known as West Delta 32 and is about 25 miles Southeast of Grand Isle. Black Elk Energy owns the platform.

Right now 10:30PST the best information seems to be at
Just stay away from the comment section.

wildman - Brings back bad memories. About 15 years ago I was a few miles away at West Delta 54. I had a crew cleaning an empty oil tank. I was bunked when they blew the bottom out of the tank. They broke for midnight meal and foolishly turned off the lights and ventilators. Came back from eating and turned the lights back on...fortunately before anyone got back into the tank. But it still cost me a little: while handling a fire hose a connection broke and I got wacked in the knee with a brass fitting. Wasn't much to speak of at the time but with old age creeping in it's worse now originally. Has me messed up worse than the MS. But, hey, I got a free ride with the Coasties in that big orange chopper so it wasn't all bad.

Just a guess but it sounds like some welder got after it in an unventilated enclosure. Don't know about you but I was always more nervous being around a welder offshore than being on the drill floor. Just too much stuff around that can go boom. LOL.

I heard earlier today that a 75 foot pipe was involved.

"They were using a torch to cut a three inch line that was approximately 75 feet long the maximum amount of a product that could have been in that line was 75 gallons."

"Workers were using a torch to cut a 3-inch line that was 75-feet long when the explosion happened. There was about 28 gallons of product in that line. The fire is out and there is no oil believed to be leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. A Congressional source says the Gulf oil rig fire caused by an acetylene torch cutting an oil line."

Yepp. We are well know for causing fires. Thats why the ensurance companys in Scandinavia joind toghther and demanded all welders taking classes every 5 years in fire security. So once every 5 year there is this day you don't need to work, but get to listen to a fire fighter 5 years from retirement talking about fire safety. And you need to fill in those paper work also for the insurances. But it did work; after the procedures were installed, we have seen costs for fire accidents drop signifcantly.

Has the accident rate dropped significantly?


It is the number of accidents that go down. With that, the costs as well.

Insurance companys arre all about damage reduction. When bad stuff happen is the moment they lose money.

That sounds like it was not a wasted day then, good to hear of the improvement.


This from Fox:

FOX 8 News confirms that the Coast Guard is working a shallow water oil platform explosion about 29 miles southeast of Grand Isle.

A spokesperson for Black Elk Energy, the owner of the platform, confirms there is a fire and an incident command team is currently working the incident at West Delta 32 in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Coast Guard says four people have been airlifted to West Jefferson Medical Center, and two others are reported to be missing.

Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts says two people are believed to be dead. Their identities are unknown.

A spokesperson for West Jefferson Medical Center says three of the four people are in critical condition at this time.

The Coast Guard does not believe the burning platform was drilling for oil.


"The Coast Guard does not believe the burning platform was drilling for oil."

An example of how Fox News disseminates "beliefs" rather than facts. How about instead: "At this time the Coast Guard has no information to indicate that the burning platform was drilling for oil."

Could cause the company some disruption.

They were to begin new drilling this month:

Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC said Wednesday its board of managers green-lighted its major Gulf of Mexico drilling plan.

Drilling and major rig work on the first well is set to begin in November. The 23-well capital campaign will begin monetizing the company’s proved undeveloped reserves, Black Elk said in its Wednesday statement.

“We are excited to expand our strategic focus to include development drilling”, John Hoffman, president and CEO of Black Elk, said in the company's statement.

(Black Elk Energy). The CEO of the company considers himself to be an environmentalist:

Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?

I think so. Everything we do is a legacy for our children and our children’s children. To not do things the right way is really a crime against humanity. So we spend a lot of money to make sure we don’t create pollution and that we do things the right way.

(John Hoffman). Must be like the armies than consider themselves to be peacemakers.

New Orleans radio report that the fire is out on the platform.


This link was posted a few days ago and there was some discussion about it. But my question concerns an entirely different matter, the temperature needed to turn kerogen into oil and gas. The article does not use the word "kerogen" but it does go into detail on how hard it is to get the shale to release its oil.

This is really a far better article than indicated by the title.

An American Oil Find That Holds More Than All of OPEC

The hydrocarbons in Green River shale are more intimately bound up with the rock, so that fracking cannot release them. The shale has to be heated to 5,000 degrees Farenheit before it will give up its oil.

Bold mine. 5,000 degrees F! That is hot, way too hot in my opinion. Kerogen is turned into oil, by nature, if it is buried deep enough to keep it at "coffee pot" temperatures for a few million years. But if you get it a lot hotter then you can turn it into oil a lot quicker. The Shell in-situ program hoped, with underground electric heaters, to turn it into oil in three to four years. But above ground you can turn kerogen into oil in a matter hours. My question is how hot? I would have believed 500 degrees F but not 5,000.

Does anyone have any idea?

Again, this is really a pretty good article. It goes on to explain the problems Shell had with their in-situ project and all the water that would be required if the kerogen is simply mined.

Rusco doubts substantial amounts of oil could be produced from Green River anytime soon because production is not yet economical. It costs more to produce a barrel of oil here than the oil can be sold for on the market.

GAO's report says commercial development of oil shale is "at least 15-20 years away.

And it has been at least 15-20 years for at least 50 years now.

Ron P.

This blatant tom-foolery is trotted out every time there is worry that there may be an embargo.


Its probably the reason for the increase in this type of irresponsible promotion:

"The new boom: Shale gas fueling an American industrial revival"


Not really. The title of the article is really unfortunate. It. is not really all that bad. It explains why the Green River Shale is not being produced and will not be produced for at least two decades.

At first, after reading the title I thought it was just more nonsense. But this is really a pretty good article. One should read it before dismissing it because of the title of the article.

At any rate I would like my question answered if anyone has any idea, but I doubt that we have any kerogen experts on this list. Anyway...

Question: How hot do you need to heat kerogen in order to turn it into oil in a matter of hours?

Ron P.

Look, here's the last concluding paragraph:

""The technology for assessing oil reserves is pretty good," Rusco said. "I don't say there isn't a wide margin of error, but you can have great confidence that there is a very, very large amount of oil trapped down there that could be recovered. It's just that, so far, it can't be recovered at a profit." "

You do know we have beat this to death? It is frustrating to see threefourand five-peats of thermodynamic AND economic ignorance. ergg. ~;)

Here is your question:

How hot do you need to heat kerogen in order to turn it into oil in a matter of hours?

Heres your answer:

it depends. in situ or in a lab? Also, your question should include pressure.

I should add that there is a broad treatment of this subject in the literature, readily available, despite the fact that alot of data remains proprietary

it depends. in situ or in a lab?

I thought the question was obvious. I explained that in-situ takes years, not hours. So there is nothing about my question that "depends". The article stated that it takes 5,000 degrees F and I just could not believe that. Anyway I think I found the answer.


Effect of varying pressure of C O charged

The effect of varying pressure of CO charged on oil - shale kerogen conversion while being heated at 375" C for 2 hour was investigated and t h e results appear in figure 2. The five charge pressures appear at the bottom o f the figure and approximate operating pressures appear a t the t o p o f the figure. Oil-shale conversion decreases from about 80 t o 60 percent as t h e CO charge pressure increases from 200 to 1000 psig and the operating pressure increases from 3000 to 6000 psig. These results suggest that no benefit in conversions results from increasing charged CO pressure above 200 psig and an adverse effect on conversion does result at higher CO charged pressures. Some additional test at varying pressures will be made in a bench scale reactor at a later date to confirm these results.

375 degrees C works out to be 707 degrees F for two hours.

Ron P.

Thats great you answered it for your self Ron... I didnt have to go back to the intro to geochem TEXT hahaha

In regards to pressure: in more mature petroleum provinces, time and pressure and heat act to turn kerogen(s) into "oil" (crude) so that you cant get it out and use it ~;) . In order to get the kerogen and other immature gunk out of organic marls and use it in a timely manner (production rate) you have essentially do what time and burial does in nature ... you turn it into oil. You can decrease the time in which chemical reactions take place (turning it into "oil") by increasing temperatures (kinetics), and you can simulate burial by increasing pressure. Apparently, its been discovered experimentally (a number of times) that high pressures are not necessary (read: "oil window"); so, mostly you fool around with temperature...

With a thermodynamic loss.

The whole exercise is essentially an effort to make an "endrun" around this:


I'm glad you guys worked out the chemistry...way beyond me. OTOH how much difference does it make as what can be done to do the conversion? From what I've read the bigger problem is getting the shale out of the ground and seperating the kerogen from the rock. That seemed to be the greater expense especially from the water usage standpoint.

Well ya thats why they're trying in situ lately.... I thought we pretty much stopped at frozen wall aquacludes and close-space heater wells and other bizarre contrivances...???

You guys should go here:


Note that there is a BIG difference between "bitumen" and "kerogen", and between "shale" and "marlstone".

The Fischer Assay method normally used to specify yield heats the sample to a temperature of 500 °C at a rate of 12 °C per minute, then maintains the temperature for 40 minutes. That's pretty consistent with your 375 °C for two hours.

Wikipedia includes descriptions for more than a dozen different oil shale retorting methods (eg, this one). Most have multiple sections operating at different temperatures. Typically, pyrolysis seems to be done at around 500 °C, combustion of carbon residues for process heat at about 800 °C. Most are continuous processes and are simply rated in tons/hour or tons/day of throughput, rather than by how long the material remains in the retort.

We could produce octanes etc and diesel from kerogens - and olefins - but since the EROEI is negative, it would be best to use the long chain hydrocarbon products for industrial precursors, plastics and such.... That is to say, not use the product as "fuel" but consider it "mining" for hydrocarbons for industrial uses...

Your 1976 document is interesting, Ron.

Mr. Farnham refers to "a recent report" by the GAO. One might argue that a report which is more than 6 months old (May 10/12) is not really all that "new." Furthermore, this report is 10 pages of oral testimony by Ms. Mittal who frequently cites the GAO's report from October 2010 (69 pgs).

If Mr. Farnham had carefully examined either of these GAO documents he would have seen that in both documents GAO states, "To extract the oil, the rock needs to be heated to very high temperatures -- ranging from 650 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit -- in a process known as retorting" (p. 7 in the 2010 study).

Mr. Farnham also states, "Water would be used not for fracking, but as a lubricant for drilling." My understanding is that by far the greatest requirement for water is as a component in the "water shift reaction" which is described in the 1976 document (and not for lubrication).

Indeed, half of the 2010 study is devoted to water issues (p. 9-43) with the conclusion that "The size of an oil shale industry my be limited by water availability" (p. 33). So even if the net energy issue were somehow resolved, water issues may still put a severe damper on things.

You do know we have beat this to death? It is frustrating to see threefourand five-peats of thermodynamic AND economic ignorance. ergg. ~;)

Look PDV, I posted because I wanted to know how much hotter kerpgen had to be heated, as compared to the Canadian Oil Sands, in order to get some idea as to the extra energy it would take to extract the oil. That, to my knowledge, has never been discussed here.

Your snarky reply to my post was unnecessary.

Ron P.

Just frustrating, but it does give us a chance to beat it to death some more. Hopefully well eventually bury it so to speak..

As I said, this horse has never been beaten, on this list before. And the subject is very important. It is not enough just to say, "it cost too much to process". We must explain why it cost too much. We have explained that it would require a lot of water, water which is not available in that arid zone. But we have never discussed how much extra energy, in the form of heat, it would take.

The oil in the oil sands is just washed from the sand with hot water. But to turn kerogen into oil you need more heat, a lot more heat. All that water, which is not there, and all that extra very expensive heat, makes the Green River Shale so expensive that it is prohibitive.

That is worth knowing and that is why I brought it up. I should have expected some snarky replies however.

Ron P.

Its all in the thermodynamics, Ron. Its called, more energy in than you get back for your effort. Here, the "effort" (energy in) is essentially the replication time and burial in a mature oil province. The energy out is always going to be less because of enthalpy (H).

The whole exercise is essentially an effort to make an "endrun" around this:


I understand all that PVD. What I was looking for was a way to explain it quickly, briefly and simply to those who know absolutely nothing about the Green River Shale when the subject comes up. They compare it with the Bakken. Then when it is explained that this is a different kind of shale altogether they immediately go to the Oil Sands of Canada. Then I need a way to explain to them the difference.

Ron P.

Yep, every body that consumes liquid hydrocarbon fuel should understand where it comes from. It takes effort to explain to people in a way that sticks the differences between source rocks and reservoir rocks, between shale and marlstone or the differences between kerogens, olefins, bitumens, tars and crude and "tight oil". Let alone liquified natural gas... ~;)

Geez, and that's just soft rock geology Hahahaha!


Does anyone really know how much it takes, or the EROEI of this stuff? Shell's been working on it, but I'm not sure anyone has ever really gotten any useful amount of oil out of those rocks. I think the simplist explanation is "they've been trying to make oil out of the rocks since the 1960s and have never been able to do so affordably; it's like fusion - it can be done but you don't get the energy back and the tech to do so is always 10 years away".

Bakken - it's rocks that trap oil, you shatter the rock to get the oil (fracking)
Green River - it's just rocks, they burn if you want but not even as well as coal or cow pies
Oil Sands - only thing properly named here, literally oily sand

This may seem TOO dumbed down, but that's my takeaway from TOD and wikipedia. I'm not trying to be snarky, just as simple as possible. There doesn't seem to be all that much room for a technical explanation, as the tech doesn't seem to even exist, just "well, we're trying this out, it just maybe might work..."

If you have crude precursors (kerogens, olefins and the lot) and you are after crude, the "energy return" - that is if you are going to use the product as fuel - is always going to be negative (net loss) (see: Enthalpy), its just a question of how "negative". That is why you can basically consider these proposed operations "mining for industrial hydrocarbons"...



check out the various kerogens...


Upgrading gunk is no way to fill your gas tank and you'll eventually "go broke" trying.

It's strange, Ron, but a lot of times the actual author of an article doesn't have any say in the title at publication time. Some editor or other makes that call. Many times the title doesn't match up all that well to the article...

Iraq's representative to the Arab League said on Friday that Arab states should use oil as a weapon to put pressure on the United States and Israel over the attacks on Gaza.

With the ongoing embargo on Iranian crude, what impact could this have?

I think this is just mouth weather. For now; we don't know how things will develop.

They had better hope that your 500 degree estimate is more correct. I cannot so how they would ever be net energy positive if they have to heat large volumes of oil shale up to 5000 degrees to squeeze out a little liquid hyrdocarbon.

At that temperature [5000°F], which exceeds the energy neccessary to break carbon-hydrogen bonds, you would have gaseous hydrogen and carbon plasma. There would be no 'hydrocarbons' left to recover.

In regards to the high temperatures, just for fun, and I'm sure you've seen this before, search: "Operation Gasbuggy", "Project Rulison" and "Project Rio Blanco". Fun stuff....

I have a pdf - Plowshare Nuclear Test Program - on many of those underground tests. To bad we let that 'genie' out of the bottle.

Another interesting site - http://nuclearsecrecy.com/blog/

Tangental rambling: It is appropriate to refer to fission/fusion as a 'genie'. The etymology of genie is derived from the Arabic جِنّ (jinn) a malevolent demon.

The correct temperature, as posted above, is 375 degrees C or 700 degrees F for two hours. That is just to turn the kerogen to oil. It would still be mixed with the ground up marlstone. Now you still need a lot of very hot water to wash the oil out.

From Wiki: Marl or marlstone is a calcium carbonate or lime-rich mud or mudstone which contains variable amounts of clays and silt.

Separating the oil from that stuff would be a task in itself.

Ron P.

In terms of energy consumption, That "grinding up" step isanother often over-looked or underestimated "biggie"... ~:)

But hey, we're sitting on 1.7 trillion (or some such huge number) barrels of the stuff, and we're 'Mericans, after all, so of course when the time comes, we will be up to the task and 'git 'er done'. Or, perhaps, not so much.

That's the kind of "Can Do" attitude I like! Who cares about stupid Laws of Thermodynamics, when there's oil to be cooked up! Excelsior! ;-)


It can't be too hard to extract, they had commercial mines in Australia in the mid to late 1800's producing Kerosene. Maybe kerosene was a little more expensive in those days? lol, until the mines petered out. Maybe some other things also happened eg drilling for petroleum became a lot more economical around the same time.

Interesting read on a little history of commercial Kerogen production in Oz. Sounds like hard work so people must have been willing to pay a lot for lighting.


Seams containing both coal and shale outcrops were noticed by the early settlers in the valley walls of the Blue Mountains and in the 1860s the imminent construction of the western railway encouraged considerable local exploration. The most extensive and successful oil shale operations took place in the Hartley region where, prior to the rail connection, bullock teams carted shale to the railhead at Mount Victoria.

Look up "Gilsonite" ~:)

No way the 5000 degrees is correct. Must be a typo.

Lava is only 2000 to 3000! Five thou is a little extreme. I think the oil would certainly breakdown, and all the rock would melt etc.

I don't know how hot a Farnheit is, but 5000 are still many. With those temps, I wonder if it is ever achieavable to get the oil stright out of the ground. If you have it powedered up in a factory, no problems. We did that in Sweden before norwegian oil came online. (Few people know Sweden used to be an FF producer). But isn't this a deal killer for on site production?

Lessons from 2012: Droughts, not Hurricanes, are the Greater Danger


This goes right back to my earlier TOD premise.


The figures may be somewhat dated from nearly 5 yrs ago, but not it's thrust that food scarcity will dwarf ocean rises for the vast majority of us. Redistribution of ppt, or gaining ppt in other areas, doesn't really address the issue that prime production is tied to the soils that have evolved in their modern rainfall and vegetation patterns. And as becoming more evident with even 2012's water scarcity, irrigation will not offset it.

"It depends where you live." That what I say as far as Peak Oil vs. Climate Change. If you live/lived in coastal New Jersey, your biggest threat is/was climate change. If you live in suburbia then it's PO.

I'm thinking there are first order effects and then secondary ones. The secondary effects are similar for PO and CC: Higher prices for many things regardless of where you live, economic malaise, too much money to the military, etc. The first order effects are more dramatic for CC, getting hit by superstorms for example. But getting laid off or killed in the Middle East is a pretty dramatic PO effect for those that suffer it.

My main point - Climate change is going to get us most by messing with the food supply. A drought affects many many more people than any hurricane. A drought here can cause riots around the world, not just in New Jersey.

It's kind of fun (in a perverse way) to imagine how one could be impacted by CC and PO simultaneously: While waiting in a gas line, a tornado hits. On my way to the unemployment office I got stuck in a flood. I went to the Middle east to fight for oil, but it was too hot...

Thanks for those links, BTW.

Someone using my name made some fairly intelligent sounding comments back then!

Overall, that seems true, but drought and hurricanes also have a different range of effects. Droughts destroy rural land, while hurricanes destroy cities. Both have fairly minimal effects on the other type of environment - drought does little damage to cities beyond making their residents slightly uncomfortable currently, and a category one hurricane isn't going to destroy farmland the way it will low lying housing.

I do think that he's a little cavalier about "we can just rebuild after hurricanes". If they become quite frequent and the economy is crappy, at what point do some of these places just not get rebuilt?

Seems to me like you have two forces eroding the foundations of both urban and rural living. Well, we did sign up for this when we decided not to do anything about global warming (even if Gore got the popular vote, that's already quite late). I've been reading more and more stuff that is extremely doomy about the climate situation, well, many of us will get to see it unfold.

Drought seems likely to be more than a little uncomfortable for places like Phoenix and Las Vegas as we got ever deeper into CC...

Thanks for re-posting that link, I missed it the first time around.
An excellent piece with a lot of good information that is still timely, prescient almost. Good job.
And what a pleasure to read comments from 5 years ago, like getting re-acquainted with old friends.

The Do-It-Yourself Approach to Tracking Gas Drilling

"...Jamie Serra, a 26-year-old employee of the state legislature in Pennsylvania, created the useful Web site Fracktrack.org as a way to organize masses of data on drilling permits, violations and other activities related to the natural gas drilling rush in that state."

One more embarrassment for the folks of PA. I've commented before how archaic and, in some cases (like collecting $zero production taxes from the oil patch), just how insane the pols in PA are dealing with the Marcellus drilling boom. All the state has to do is require companies to submit any of this data or they don't get a drill permit. It's that simple to fix. This is how it's done in Texas. The TRRC collects thousands of such documents weekly and all of it is available to the public for free. Of course such a huge data base is not so easy to dig through for a novice. But there are commercial sites, like Drilling Info, where for around $2,000 year you can access most of the data in a more user friendly format.

Speaking on environmental watchdogs there was a report on NPR yesterday about the EPA and some oil pollution problems on Indian reservations in WY. We occasionally see stories on TOD about EPA regulations getting in the way of the US reaching "energy independence". Only once in my 37 years have I dealt with the EPA and they were no problem at all. More on that situation later. The problem in WY is that the environmental regs on the reservation are enforced by the EPA and not the state which actually has stricter regs. On top of that the EPA isn't doing a very good job of enforcing their poorer regs. The industry is dumping contaminated water on the ground that the state regs wouldn't allow on non-Indian lands. And if such activities were being conducted that way in Texas the TRRC would probably fine those companies out of existence and, in the worse cases, someone might even get a little jail time.

Back to my one EPA interaction. When I did a little drilling in KY I discovered that states have the option to design and enforce their on environmental regs on the oil patch or they can let the EPA do it. KY decided to let the feds handle it so they wouldn't have to pay for it. So when I drilled I had to comply with EPA regs with no one at state level keeping an eye on me. And where were the EPA regulators who were supposed to be keeping an eye on me? Atlanta. That's where I sent my paper work to "prove" I was complying with the regs. AFAIK the EPA didn't have one person on the ground in KY monitoring oil patch activity. As long as the local land owner didn't catch me I could have dumped any nasty stuff on the ground with impunity. Compare that to LA where I can't even pump rain water off my drill site if I'm in a wetlands area. Have to pay to have it hauled off to a disposal site. But LA makes the rules there...not the EPA.

Maybe I just haven't operated in areas where the EPA is a pain in the butt. But from my experience they are more of a potential environmental problem than an obstacle to oil patch operations.

That is a very effective argument that you've brought up a few times. It would seem so easy for anyone in a NorthEastern state to stand up and say "So, you want us to have less regulation than they the have down in conservative dominated Texas? We should at least have a regulation that says (insert Texas regulation) like they do down in Texas." That is a no-brainer argument. I guess it is only because they are so new to dealing with this that they are getting steam-rolled.

spec - "I guess it is only because they are so new to dealing with this that they are getting steam-rolled." The first commercial oil drilled in the US was in PA over 100 years ago. They've been drilling wells in the Rockies for almost as long as we've been doing in Texas. All I can guess is that landowners (ranchers/farmers) have had more influence in Texas than those other states.

EPA won't waive ethanol mandate for gasoline

The Environmental Protection Agency has decided to move forward with a mandate for corn ethanol in gasoline, denying requests to suspend the requirement following a drought that drove up corn prices.

The EPA said Friday its renewable-fuel standard was not causing economic harm. The agency said it had determined that suspending the standard would reduce corn prices by only 1%.

In the midst of a drought this year, livestock producers complained that the mandate for corn ethanol was driving up demand for dwindling supplies of corn.

The price elasticity of food is always (AFAIK) > 1. An only +1% increase in price would be caused by a -1% decrease in supply if elasticity = 1.

If elasticity was = 2, then a -0.5% drop in supply would increase prices by +1%, and 2 is in the right range.

Since ~40% of US corn > ethanol, and US corn is a major % of world corn - and grains of all types, I think the EPA is playing IEA with the numbers.

Best Hopes for Reality Checks !


I believe that we are continuing a meme that cannot sustain. Namely, we are running into the fact that, on a finite planet, there are only sufficient resources for a given number of plants and animals. We can grow our numbers, but only at the expense of other living organisms. Thus, we can cultivate corn and other crops to feed animals that we use for food as a carnivore. Or, we can use the corn/crops for food, eliminating the middle-species. Of course, we would then expect a genetic forcing to evolve a larger gut and smaller brain (as our species earlier evolved smaller gut/larger brain when we began eating more meat).

We also note that as we consume more plant material there is less available for (other) herbivores.

In sum, in either event, as we consume more, be it plant or animal, there is less energy (food) available for others. Unless we can use money* as fertilizer, we are stuck with those limits.


*"money" of course is a notional item, not physical. Most of it only exists only as electronic entries in ephemeral accounts.

Yeah, that's where I'm at with the "peak oil" thing. It's "peak" everything. There are too many people. They want nice lives. It will take a technology higher than we have now to sustain what we have now when all the freebies dry up... nice things like fertile land, fish, trees, good water, clean air, predictable weather, liveable zones... and, recently, fuels... all free for the taking. That technology would still burden the planet with our numbers. Our numbers would increase until, even in that magic land, many lives were marginal... just alive enough to breed.

Peak oil is in a race with everything else as a cause of calamity. It may lose that contest and never really reach its full expression.

Technology isn't the problem... in that technology is inseparable from "human". http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/When-Did-the-Human-Mind-Evo... As one article said... something like "Anyone one, any animal going up against humans armed with bow-and-arrow had more than met their match". Bow-and-arrow allows one to take more than their share. We should have made a really big one... and aimed it at the stars.

Doing anything about this denies some DNA strand its best chances. That goes against everything that drives life. Self-perpetuating memes exist above DNA... things like political systems and religions.

These problems take care of themselves. Have a good life. Have kids. Have fun. Take what is offered. Have a stake in the future... Plan for the future... Heck, even try to change the future... There will be many futures, even if we devolve to small mammals.


Stupid rats.

How much do we spend on nuclear waste?

... The NAO anticipates the total future costs for decommissioning Sellafield, over a century or so, will be £67 billion. This has risen from £47 billion since 2009 – a remarkable rise in just three years.

... as the chart below shows, most of the projects under construction are running behind schedule as well as over budget.

Although the costs of Sellafield relate mainly to handling waste from old nuclear projects – including postwar weapons programmes – the NAO's report begs the question of whether cost estimates for decommissioning future nuclear power plants may also have been underestimated.

Privatize the profits, socialize costs.

Build it yourself at the UK's first bamboo bike workshop

... Cost and the design challenge led engineers James Marr and Ian McMillan to spend years cooped up in a shed in Brecon, Wales. Their idea was to establish a boutique bamboo bike manufacturer. Only after they had refined two years' research into a marketable product ... did they realise they were on the wrong track. "We realised we didn't want just to sell frames. We wanted to share the joy of making something; the craft of creating something unique and sustainable," James explains.

So, Bamboo Bike Club was born – more community than company since it launched in September, and still a project between full-time jobs. The £389 price of their monthly course buys you a computer-designed custom frame (road or mountain bike) plus a fun weekend of bike-building.

The self-build DIY is half the attraction for most participants; it may be no coincidence that all those on this course were engineers.

The pair rebut that a self-built bamboo bike is inherently weaker. Ian has ridden his for over a year on a 16-mile commute, while James tried and failed to destroy one bike off-road over three months of testing. "To be honest, our bikes are over-engineered – we use larger diameter tubes and over-thick layers of hemp – but I prefer it like that," James says.

Honda’s Mighty Morphin’ Micro-Car Transforms to Your Whims

... What sets Honda’s ultra-small city car apart is its platform and size. It’s built atop the automaker’s Variable Design Platform, which houses the battery, control unit and a 15 kW motor. It’s the “skateboard” design we’ve been promised for over a decade, allowing multiple interior and exterior configurations, with a body that’s removable and customizable. Want a two-seat targa-topped convertible one day and a small pickup the next? The Micro Commuter has you covered. It can start off as a one-seater, but can also fit two, riding in tandem, bobsled-style. Even better, with a minuscule footprint that’s eight feet long by four feet wide, it’s smaller than the ForTwo.

The Micro Commuter has a top speed of 50 mph and a 60 mile range from it’s lithium ion battery. According to Honda, a full charge takes three hours, and drivers can also sync up smartphones and tablets and use them as a battery meter, navigation system or back-up camera.

Honda is testing the Micro Commuter, “in various uses including supporting everyday short-distance transportation for families with small children and for senior citizens, home delivery services, commuting and car sharing.” Read: limited-use.

also http://carscoop.blogspot.com/2012/11/honda-micro-commuter-ev-edges-close...

or Plentiful oil? A V-8, anyone?

That last link sums up with:

So what happens now, when U.S. oil fields begin flooding the market with all the gasoline it wants? Do we return to the carefree days of the cheap-gas 1950s?

A 1950 Ford V8 produced a maximum of 100 horsepower from a 3.9L engine, and by 1959 a 4.5L V8 produced 200 horsepower. The 2012 Ford 1.6L four cylinder engine produces a maximum of 180 horsepower, and the 2.0L four produces 237 horsepower. Why would we need a V-8?

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 to Have Camaro ZL1–Slapping 600-Plus Horsepower


Its not supposed to make sense.......

UT Motto Modification: What Starts Here ... Accelerates Destruction?

I want to suggest a slight modification of the University of Texas’ motto, “What starts here changes the world.”

A more accurate slogan -- while not quite as pithy and probably less effective for public-relations purposes -- would be, “What starts here accelerates the destruction of the world.”

... While that claim may sound crazy, I think my reasoning is calm and careful. The destructive features of contemporary America’s systems -- an extractive economy that demands endless growth, with a mystical faith in high-energy/high-technology systems and gadgets, dependent on continued mass consumption of goods of questionable value -- are all woven into the fabric of UT’s teaching and research. Entire departments on campus are staffed with faculty who seem incapable of imagining a challenge to those features and appear dedicated to maintaining the systems. The goal of most courses is to train students to play by the existing rules, not question the systems that produce the rules.

the joke for the weekend.


Vadim Chuprun, Naftogaz deputy director, said Ukraine intends to increase its purchases of gas from European suppliers to 5 billion cubic meters to make up the difference.

one wonders where this european supply comes from? from russia of course!

Using reverse-flow technology, Russian gas supplied by Germany's RWE could be sent into Ukraine -- the opposite of the normal flow of Russian natural gas through Ukraine to European customers.
"We need some time (to settle technical issues of the deliveries) but we think that the reverse supplies may be ready by mid-2014," Oettinger said.


There Is A Shale Oil Field Under Santa Barbara Four-Times Bigger Than The Bakken

According to the EIA, the Monterrey Formation, which covers an enormous chunk of Southern California and terminates near Santa Barbara, has 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable crude — four times as much as the Bakken formation in North Dakota.

After all, Los Angeles was built over an oil field.

I wonder where the water for fracking will come from? Doesn't Southern California have a shortage?

Divert from lawns and golf courses?

Pacific Ocean?

But they are not even allowed to drill for conventional oil off Santa Barbara anymore. How are they going to get approval for fracking? Perhaps because it is on land instead of off shore that will make them more likely to allow it?

I tell you one thing, don't let them do a damn thing until you get a tax in place. Oddly, California is the only place that doesn't tax extracted oil.

spec – If the economics ever justify developing the MS it will happen in the San Joaquin basin around Bakersfield IMHO. The MS was the major source rock for many of the big fields in CA. I did my grad thesis on one of those fields in the SJB. Besides not having to deal with a developed urban area Bakersfield has been one of the major hubs in of the oil patch infrastructure out there. Same problem with water though. It will come down to who can afford to pay more: the drillers or the veggie growers.

India textbook says meat-eaters lie and commit sex crimes

New Healthway, a book on hygiene and health aimed at 11 and 12 year-olds, is printed by one of India's leading publishers.

Academics have urged the government to exercise greater control.

But the authorities say schools should monitor content as they are responsible for the choice of textbooks...

..."The strongest argument that meat is not essential food is the fact that the Creator of this Universe did not include meat in the original diet for Adam and Eve. He gave them fruits, nuts and vegetables," reads a chapter entitled Do We Need Flesh Food?

The chapter details the "benefits" of a vegetarian diet and goes on to list "some of the characteristics" found among non-vegetarians.

"They easily cheat, tell lies, forget promises, they are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes," it says.

Sounds about right, though we, carnivores, don't have a monopoly on that sort of behavior, nor do Indians have a monopoly on wanting to teach their kids crazy stuff in their schools.


(Hitler was a Vegetarian and a Teetotaller!)

There's a big fight between vegetarians and non-vegetarians in India. The higher castes (particularly the highest caste : Brahmins) pride themselves on their vegetarian roots. Traditionally non vegetarians are considered outsiders and outcasts.

Traditionally non vegetarians are considered outsiders and outcasts.

... and Muslims.

Every religion has it's fundamentalists. Hinduism is not immune.

And NON-Religions as well..

The apparent danger in finding a great truth is being able to remain modest and humble about carrying and sharing it.. lest the Universe, our scope of understanding or our definitions move along and you find yourself clinging angrily to a cherished (partial- or un- ) Truth..

Or perhaps said differently.. 'Knowledge may be Power.. but the reverse very often doesn't apply.'

A guy i worked with left the local football club, when he realized it had turned into a cult. We humans can become fanatics about anything.

Shale Heat

If you put one million BTUs of heat in to get half a million out in oil, that will not work. SO, maybe Combined Heat and Power. Put in a power plant and use the waste heat.

It could be a combined cycle plant with coal gasification. Use the hot CO2 to heat the shale and extract the oil. You make power and extract oil at the same time.

There's a bit of a problem with your plan. There's no "hot CO2" available, as the combined cycle system is intended to remove as much of that thermal energy as possible before releasing the resulting CO2 + N2 back into the atmosphere. A properly designed combined cycle plant has no useful "waste heat"...

E. Swanson

I've been saying for a while we can sequester CO2 via Silicate Weathering. Here is a proposal to include this as a means of increasing revenues of hard rock mines.
Tapping Into Carbon Dioxide Storage Potential of Mine Waste
It's time to place an economic value the greenhouse gas-trapping potential of mine waste and start making money from it, says mining engineer and geologist Michael Hitch of the University of British Columbia's (UBC) Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering.

New Zealand's Green Tourism Push Clashes With Realities

I think this is rather tough on poor remote Ao Te Aroa ... the vast majority of its environmental destruction occurred many decades ago before these things were understood or cared about, and in fact the era of truly prodigious environmental mayhem occurred prior to European settlement, when the Maori in a couple of centuries or so ate their way through the many species of moa bird-life - some as big as a giraffe.

NZ today remains a magnificent place, despite its much-reduced original flora and fauna ... and if I were a North American looking further afield for a great English-speaking bolthole for when TSHTF, you could do a lot worse. Water, climate, soil, hydro power, rule of law ... and much else.

Great segment on C-SPAN'S Washington Journal just now,
Charles Komanoff advocating for a Carbon Tax.

I tried to get an email comment into the queue, but was too late.


Now, if it is true, and I guess that most here think it is, that we are hell-bent to a ff heat death, then, where is the deafening drum roll for getting onto solar?
Gail says everything suffers from diminishing return for effort. NOT TRUE! The more we do solar, the more we get for our effort, Solar is non-depleatable, we know how to do it now, and it is a solid rule of technology that if we can do it, we can do it better.

And, to boot, solar electricity does NOT require a bunch of superstuff. Plain old iron aluminum, copper, etc, can do it. Same with wind.

Nor, does it, as Gail is fond of saying, require huge initial inputs of fossil fuels. We have already dug up the inputs- and then tossed them into the trash. Go dig up the trash,, or pull it out of the attic. Start with the junk we have, go to solar with junky stuff, make a lot of electricity, use it to make less junky stuff, and so on from there.

All this is bloody obvious, ain't it?

Completely bloody obvious, apart from those who are devoted to defying it.

A restaurant at the corner of my Street, Brackett and York Streets.. just added a good rooffull of PV and Hot Water Panels.. I spent the AM working on my Rooftop Access equipment.

Bit by Bit.. some folks are looking with open eyes.

So what's up with the FHA (US Federal Housing Administration)? Now they're talking about needing a bailout. Also, some $190B of bailout funds are still sunk in Freddie & Fannie (US quasi-Federal mortgage companies), and another $100B+ in AIG (which was forced to pay what it "owed" to Goldman Sachs). Since the banksters (Goldman Sachs etc) have been claiming that they've paid back their bailouts, I've been wondering where did the "toxic assets" get pushed to. Also note that the Federal Reserve (which is neither) has been "buying" such toxics with made-up new "money". With which some of the bailouts were "paid back", no? Musical chairs. Stupid rats.