Drumbeat: November 19, 2012

Peak Oil And The Olduvai Gorge

Duncan's theory was given significant media attention about 10 years ago, and was heavily cited by supporters of the US Gas Cliff theory, promoted by writers including Julien Darley and Michael Ruppert in 2004-2006, and by promoters of Doomsday energy shortage and oil soaring to $200 a barrel, such as Matt Simmons. The Gas Cliff theory, we can note, argued that gas resource depletion was running so fast, that US gas resources would be "practically exhausted" by about 2015. Today, we know that we face a towering cliff of unconventional gas resources - discovered since only 2007. Discoveries of unconventional gas march on and up, implying that probably 200 years, or more, of current world gas consumption are now available as exploitable resources, worldwide.

The keywords conventional oil and gas, and unconventional oil and gas, tell us all we need to know about global fossil energy for the next 50 years, at least. Peak Oil (PO) theory as developed by Colin Campbell, Jean Laherrere and Kjell Aleklett among others, only concerns conventional oil resource depletion, does not in any significant way concern gas resources, and also assumes that global oil demand and consumption can only rise.

The United States, future energy superpower

Four decades ago, the Arab oil embargo consigned Americans to gas lines. Odd-even rationing became routine, and everyone with a passing interest in energy policy heard regular predictions that the planet was nearing “peak oil.”

We’ve been told forever that we’re “running out of resources,” that we’re facing a future of shrinking options, that we’d better change our ways and oh, by the way, our friends in the green movement will tell us exactly how our ways must be changed.

Jeff Rubin: When it comes to price, it doesn’t matter where oil comes from

Move over OPEC, North America is about to become a net exporter of oil. At least that’s the supposed good news from the International Energy Agency’s latest outlook. According to the IEA, the drilling boom for shale oil is putting U.S. production on track to pass Saudi Arabia. North of the border, output from Alberta’s oil sands is expected to notch a similarly grand expansion.

Notions of energy independence, however far fetched they may seem today, play well to the IEA’s target audience, which is largely American. Irrespective of the political rhetoric we endured from both presidential candidates, energy independence isn’t really the issue confronting the U.S. economy or American motorists. The real problem is the price of oil–not its country of origin.

Fracking: A new dawn for misplaced optimism

You would think we were swimming in oil. The International Energy Agency's (IEA) latest World Energy Outlook forecasts that the United States will outstrip Saudi Arabia as the world's largest producer by 2017, becoming "all but self-sufficient in net terms" in energy production. While the "peak oil" pessimists are clearly wrong, so is a simplistic picture of fossil fuel abundance.

When the IEA predicts an increase in "oil production" from 84 million barrels a day in 2011 to 97 in 2035, it is talking about "natural gas liquids and unconventional sources", which includes a big reliance on "fracking" for shale gas. Conventional oil output will stay largely flat, or fall.

The Great Oil Fallacy

Among the unchallenged verities of U.S. politics, the most universally accepted is that of the crucial strategic and economic significance of oil, and particularly Middle Eastern oil. On the right, the need for oil is seen as justifying an expanded and assertive military posture, as well as the removal of restrictions on domestic drilling. On the left, U.S. foreign-policy is seen through the prism of “War for Oil,” while the specter of Peak Oil threatens to bring the whole system down in ruins.

The prosaic reality is that oil is a commodity much like any other. As with every major commodity, oil markets have some special features that affect supply, demand and prices. But oil is no more special or critical than coal, gas or metals—let alone food.

The World Running on ‘E’: The Coming Oil Crisis

While it’s unlikely the we’ll find ourselves using the last drop of the world’s oil anytime soon, we are nearly guaranteed to face a shortage of cheap and accessible oil in the coming century. Known oil reserves are only prepared to meet today’s global demand for another 40 years. And two indicators suggest that we have even less time than that. One, anyone charting the rising middle classes in China and India can tell you, global oil demand is growing. Without new sources of energy, today’s oil supplies will not meet tomorrow’s oil demand. And second, figures for proven oil reserves aren’t so proven. Reserve figures are reported by global oil suppliers that have heavy incentives to exaggerate their reserves. Healthy global reserve estimates help to reassure investors and stabilize volatile prices. The world’s largest oil supplier since the 1980s, Saudi Arabian ARAMCO, has reported no major oil field discoveries in thirty years. Even so, the company’s reported reserves have barely changed in decades.

Oil Rises Amid Israel Conflict, U.S. Budget Talks

Oil advanced to the highest level in more than a week in New York amid concern that Middle East unrest will disrupt supply and speculation the U.S. will avert automatic spending cuts and tax rises that threaten to throw the nation into recession.

Gas prices drop 7 cents over past two weeks

Just in time for the four-day holiday weekend, American motorists have something to be thankful for: a drop in prices at the pump.

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States fell during the past two weeks as demand took a hit from supply disruption after Hurricane Sandy and the loss of daylight savings time, according to a widely followed survey released on Sunday.

Saudi oil exports rise in September

New data from the oil industry has revealed Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter, produced 9.724 million barrels per day in September, representing a slight fall on the 9.753 million barrels per day witnessed in August.

Despite this, the Kingdom still shifted 7.281 million barrels per day in exports, demonstrating a year-on-year rise in global demand.

Saudi summer oil burning hits record high in 2012 - JODI

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia burned record volumes of crude oil over the summer, official government figures show, contrary to its aim of using more gas for power generatation to reduce wastage of crude that it could export.

During the peak period from early June through September, Saudi Arabia burned an average of 763,250 barrels per day (bpd) of crude, compared to an average of 701,250 bpd last year and 747,750 bpd in the previous record summer of 2010, official government data issued on Sunday under the Joint Oil Data Initiative (JODI) shows.

South Korea's S-Oil offers up to 19.2mn bbls gasoil and jet fuel for 2013

SINGAPORE: South Korea's S-Oil Corp has offered up to 19.2 million barrels of gasoil and jet fuel for next year through a term tender, industry sources said on Monday.

Ukraine to cut Russian gas imports to 26 Bcm in 2012, minister says

Kiev (Platts) - Ukraine will import 26 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia in 2012, less than the 27 billion cu m that was originally expected, because of high gas prices, according to Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuriy Boyko.

Australia resource-rich, but faces challenges: IEA

SYDNEY: Australia's coal and gas exports will surge as its resource sector booms, but it faces challenges such as labour shortages and infrastructure bottlenecks, the International Energy Agency said Monday.

Syrian rebels eye Assad's economic lifeline in east

(Reuters) - A Syrian rebel offensive that captured border crossings with Turkey and Iraq aims to cut off supplies from the country's main grain and oil-producing region and speed President Bashar al-Assad's downfall, a tribal leader said.

Report: Iran starts building $10 billion gas pipeline to Syria to boost its energy sector

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian semi-official news agency says the country has started building a $10 billion natural gas pipeline to Syria as part of efforts to boost its energy sector that has been battered by international sanctions.

Monday’s report by the Fars news agency says the 1,500 kilometer (750 mile) pipeline will pass through Iraq before reaching Syria. It says Iran begun construction of the first phase of the project involving a 225 kilometer (140 mile) stretch at an estimated cost of $3 billion.

Israel Ready to Invade Gaza If Cease-Fire Efforts Fail

Israeli ground forces are poised to invade the Gaza Strip for the first time in almost four years amid efforts by Egypt and Turkey to help end exchanges of fire that have killed 96 Palestinians and three Israelis.

'This must stop,' U.N. chief says as Israel-Gaza conflict and casualties escalate

Gaza City (CNN) -- As international pressure mounted Monday for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian violence that has left dozens dead and hundreds wounded, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was flying to the region to personally appeal for a cease-fire.

Ban's call for a truce came on the heels of the single deadliest attack -- an Israeli airstrike that killed a family of 10 -- in the conflict that began with militant rocket attacks from Gaza, to which Israel responded with an aerial offensive.

Statoil 'threatens Norway flag-out'

Norwegian state oil giant Statoil is reportedly threatening to flag out its operations due to proposed changes in the domestic fiscal regime that could leave it with a huge tax bill.

The company, led by chief executive Helge Lund, stated in its recent third-quarter results report that it could face a one-off deferred tax charge of Nkr2.3 billion ($398.5 million) as a result of new tax rules for overseas activities being proposed by Norway’s Finance Ministry.

WA green lights controversial gas hub site

The WA Government has granted final state environmental approval to the Browse liquefied natural gas project in the Kimberley.

There have been numerous protests against the proposed $30 billion development at James Price Point, north of Broome.

BP plans buyback in attempt to boost flagging share price

Oil giant BP is planning to spend up to £3.7bn in a share buyback, in an attempt to breathe new life into its flagging share price, according to reports.

The Sunday Times reports the oil-major is preparing to launch a share buyback early next year, as part of an attempt to repair the its damaged reputation following the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill two years ago, and its troubled contractual negotiations with Russia.

BP Seen Takeover Target After Settlement as Value Trails

BP is the cheapest of the world’s five biggest non-state oil companies by market value relative to reserves, earnings and output. As a result it may become a target, according to people familiar with the strategic thinking of the London-based company and its potential acquirers.

BP Spill Settlement Is $2.4 Billion Windfall for Wildlife

Oil was still gushing from BP Plc (BP/)’s Macondo well in 2010 when a little-known non-profit rushed to establish a new resting area for more than 1 billion migratory birds that stop each year at the Gulf of Mexico.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a government- chartered charity, realized it could pay rice farmers in adjacent areas of Louisiana and Texas to flood their lands, creating instant, faux wetlands for the birds to rest and feed. All in all it spent more than $22 million on that and similar Gulf projects, much of funded by the sale of BP’s recovered oil.

Search widens for oil platform worker missing after explosion

The owner of an oil platform that caught fire after an explosion in the Gulf of Mexico last week said Sunday that it has expanded its search for a missing worker, and doctors said one of four men burned in the blaze is improving and is now in fair condition.

Two remained in critical condition and one in serious condition, doctors said.

Bill McKibben: Mother Nature goes on record against Keystone XL

Now that the U.S. election is over, lots of big players are apparently trying to cash in their chips. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver insisted within hours of the results that he was “optimistic” the Keystone XL pipeline would soon be okayed, while the head of the American Petroleum Institute said the oil and gas industry had been “implicitly promised” by “Obama insiders” that Keystone would get the nod once that pesky balloting was over.

White House march revives Keystone XL protest movement

Hundreds of people who say they worry oil that would be carried the Keystone XL pipeline will accelerate climate change marched around the White House on Sunday, hoping to revive a movement credited with slowing down the permit process for the crude oil project.

Time to Stand Against Big Oil in the Arctic

Oil companies—and many of our political leaders—see melting sea ice as an opportunity to drill deeper. Fortunately, you don’t have to occupy an Arctic drilling platform to join the growing movement of people who are putting themselves on the line for our planet’s future.

’China to emerge world’s largest N-power generator by 2020’

Melbourne: China is set to emerge world’s largest nuclear power generator by end of 2020 even though it will continue to rely on coal to generate bulk of its electricity needs, a Rio Tinto executive has said.

“By the end of the decade, the emerging economic superpower was expected to leap to the number two position (in power generation), before overtaking the United States in the 2020s, producing 100 gigawatts of power,” said Rio Tinto Energy general manager (markets and Industry analysis) Stephen Wilson.

A Rough Road from Swords to Ploughshares

Department has been seeking to destroy plutonium recovered from surplus nuclear bombs by converting it to fuel for civilian reactors. Most of it would be destroyed by fission, and the remainder would be embedded in highly radioactive fission products.

Anti-proliferation groups are eager to see the plutonium destroyed as part of a Russian-American agreement because as long as it exists, it can be refashioned into nuclear bombs. But some of those groups oppose accomplishing that through use as fuel in civilian reactors because that would involve a form of commerce in which it could go astray, they say.

In Defense of Sustained Research on Fusion

Stewart C. Prager, the director of the Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University, here offers a fresh defense of continued substantial support for research on extracting usable energy from nuclear fusion.

Wind pointer to future direction

The wind of change blew through the British capital last month as the London Array sprang into life after a 17-month construction period, as the first turbines started feeding electricity into the grid.

Battery maker A123 got U.S. funds as it sought bankruptcy

(Reuters) - The Obama administration provided struggling battery maker A123 Systems Inc with nearly $1 million on the day it filed for bankruptcy, the company told lawmakers investigating its government grant.

UK postpones auctions of EU aviation CO2 permits

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government said on Monday it will postpone two auctions of European Union emissions permits for the aviation sector, after the European Commission proposed freezing its airline emissions law for non-EU flights last week.

No nation immune to climate change - World Bank

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - All nations will suffer the effects of a warmer world, but it is the world's poorest countries that will be hit hardest by food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought, the World Bank said in a report on climate change.

Under new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the global development lender has launched a more aggressive stance to integrate climate change into development.

"We will never end poverty if we don't tackle climate change. It is one of the single biggest challenges to social justice today," Kim told reporters on a conference call on Friday.

The world needs a new approach to climate change

Kyoto failed to impact the world’s four biggest carbon emitters.

The United States, at No. 2, did not ratify because Kyoto did not cap emerging economies including China, No. 1, and India, No. 3. Russia, No. 4, only ratified because its cap was too generous.

Russia and Japan are dropping out of the second round, saying they prefer to wait for a wider deal meant to come into force in 2020 that would cap all countries including emerging economies. But such a wider deal has been elusive since the start of talks in 2007.

Glacial-paced UN climate talks need overhaul-researchers

OSLO (Reuters) - Nations working on a deal to fight climate change should cap the size of delegations and use majority voting to overhaul negotiating rules that stifle progress and harm the interests of the poorest nations, researchers said on Sunday.

'Writing is on the wall' at climate summit

Two-thirds of the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves cannot be used without risking dangerous climate change, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned this week.

Preventing the consumption of those two-thirds will be the primary task of the annual UN climate negotiations that resume at the end of this month.

Link up top: Peak Oil And The Olduvai Gorge

This article was written by long time Peak Oiler Andrew McKillop. He used to post regularly on the Energy Resources list. It looks like he has come full circle since then. I was particularly disappointed in this quote below. I was disappointed because, as a long time peak oiler, Andrew should know better.

Both Hubbert's theory, and PO theory post 2000 posited unrelenting growth of global oil demand, but certainly since 2005 or a little later, stagnation of global demand and regional decline of oil demand is the reality. This can rather easily spread to all other forms and types of energy - witnessed by the decline of natural gas demand in Europe, despite the certain prospect of more abundant supplies and lower prices, for a "low CO2 emitter" alternative to coal-fired power.

In the large oil consumer region of Europe, oil demand in 2012 is declining for its sixth straight consecutive year making it harder and harder to brush this off as a "transient trend" only due to economic crisis.

That is sheer nonsense. First peak oil is not a theory and it posits nothing but the fact that oil production will one day peak. That's all, nothing more. As to the future peak oilers are all over the map. Some see the world soldiering on with only minor hardships, some predict a slow crash and some, like me, predict a fast crash beginning only a few years after the decline sets in.

The reason oil demand has declined in Europe, and in the US as well for that matter, is because the supply of oil has declined. Exporters are exporting less oil due to higher internal consumption as the Export Land Model predicted. Demand can never be greater the oil available. The price simply rises, or falls, until demand equals supply.

We are well past peak export oil. Why is that so hard to understand?

Ron P.

I was really struck by McKillop's apparently turnaround. He's been a peak oiler for a long time, and from his writing, I thought he was a doomer. He edited The Final Energy Crisis, which has several essays by Colin Campbell.

Apparently, he's moved over into the "peak demand" camp - that we will leave oil before oil leaves us.

It seems to me that the "peak demand" camp is just another group of denialists. Or maybe they are a form of bargainers? They accept that something significant is happening with crude oil production but want to bargain with reality about what is actually happening and how it will play out.

Regardless of the label they are a group of people who look back on the recent past and change the order of events to fit their desires for the future. Looking back over the past decade, it is clear to see that Chinda-SEA oil demand was rapidly rising and began eating into global spare capacity. Then global production of crude oil flat-lined resulting in rapidly increasing prices to force demand back in line with supply. The demand drop happened in the US, Europe. The fact that the "peak demand" camp argues that it happened the other way around is sheer delusion.

Regardless of the label they are a group of people who look back on the recent past and change the order of events to fit their desires for the future.

I don't think that's the case, and I don't think McKillop discounts the effects of price/scarcity. What he's arguing is that the results will be what we've gotten so far, not a plunge into Olduvai Gorge.

You probably haven't been here long enough to remember when we used to have long debates about "elastic vs. inelastic" demand. There was a large contingent (and I was pretty much one of them) who thought oil demand was basically inelastic. That's turned out to be not true. It's more elastic than many imagined.

The drop in oil demand has not been pleasant. Many people are hurting. But it hasn't been Olduvai.

I have always been an "elastic" man. That is one thing that I got right. Almost everything is elastic in demand when the price is high enough. I say "almost" everything. Some things would not be very elastic, like insulin for instance.

I am also an Olduvai, or total collapse man, and have been for over forty years. But that was because of the soaring world population and the destruction of the natural world. I have only been aware of impending peak oil since about 2000 or 2001.

Ron P.

I thought high prices/shortages would be a lot more disruptive than they've turned out to be.

Well, shortages have proven to be disruptive, but so far, they've been pretty brief. A couple of weeks later, people forget they were punching people out in gas lines and sleeping in their offices to save gas, and go out and buy a gas-guzzling truck or SUV.

That may appear to be the case on a day to day basis, but there is some data which suggests otherwise:
Annecdotally I see more and more people accept that the variability of weather is increasing and that outages are more the norm than they used to. I helped a friend of mine spend a couple of hundred dollars on LED bulbs from Ikea so he can use a smaller backup generator. Obviously the unintended consequence is that his power use is likely to decline overall.
edit: What Sandy has done to some people is deliniate the difference between quantity available at a (higher) price and NO quantity available at any price. Different kettle of fish.

The hyperactive threats of the state attorneys didn't help the "at any price" aspect. For sure more supplies would come in faster if it didn't take a black market to sell stuff.

I too believe collapse is destiny. However I think it might take longer than we think, a lot longer than we think.
TOD focuses on oil and energy but being biologically based we should also consider disease. Or after Fukushima what happens during war time and the worlds reactors ..er..melting? Or combine them all; war, disease, and nuclear fallout. We may indeed go out with a whimper.

I'm pretty much a knicker elastic man. There is some scope to stain the elastic, particularly in america, but you never know when its going to snap, and with continued repetitive stretching it becomes fatigued. The result either way is eventually it fails to hold your society up and ends up around your ankles, tripping you up.

Some people seemed to think that it was excessively brittle, whilst others think it infinitely stretchy - few seem to have remembered the 'elastic limit' from the metaphor.

Some people seemed to think that it was excessively brittle, whilst others think it infinitely stretchy - few seem to have remembered the 'elastic limit' from the metaphor.

If one end of the elastic is held by price & supply and the other by consumption, the elastic will (hopefully) be strong enough never to snap! When the "elastic limit" is reached, either the cost & supply will rise or the consumption will fall.

In Europe, demand is falling, quite significantly in some countries.

I think this whole Olduvai thing is utter hogwash. Here is how I arrived at that conclusion:
India is a modern country of 1.2 billion people in which the bottom 70% of the people are very poor. India consumes 3 mbpd. So if India can give a decent standard of living to 300 million people by just consuming 3 mbpd, why would the US with a lot more resources and a much smaller population fall into the Olduvai gorge?

Sure peak oil, excessive debt and loss of jobs to automation and outsourcing will impoverish a lot of people but that is not the same thing as falling into the Olduvai gorge.

Blackouts and brownouts are common in India but they still have a space program, nuclear reactors, factories, cars, airlines, internet, cell phones, etc. Why can't the US maintain an advanced industrial civilization with a lot more resources?

It's 3.5 mbopd not 3 and I am not sure what your argument is. Most people in India have no access to even basic stuff like electricity, healthcare, minimum nutrition etc. Yes they can 'live' but I am not sure they want to continue living that way. Discounting for cell phones most people in India haven't seen or felt any of the other things you have mentioned. I wouldn't call that industrial civilization at all, it's not feudal but not industrial either, some bastard form in between may be.

US has a lot of flab sure, but to maintain an advanced industrial civilization takes a lot of oil esp if the benefits must go to all citizens and not just a few. To me it seems like that you are countering your own argument here.

And remember that a lot of things Indians consume are imported, stuff like microchips and engines which requires that there are no 'blackouts' and 'brownouts'. Take the internet data centers for example, can Google ever have it's data centers in India and be dependent on the grid ? The answer is No. If the whole world were to run at India's efficiency, world trade and civilization as we know it would promptly collapse.

And remember that a lot of things Indians consume are imported, stuff like microchips and engines which requires that there are no 'blackouts' and 'brownouts'. Take the internet data centers for example, can Google ever have it's data centers in India and be dependent on the grid ? The answer is No. If the whole world were to run at India's efficiency, world trade and civilization as we know it would promptly collapse.

Good point! What you are saying is that a "peripheral" industrial civilization like India relies on the "core" industrial civilizations. If the core goes down goes down the periphery will crumble. Did I paraphrase it correctly?

can Google ever have it's data centers in India and be dependent on the grid

They could use a combination of PV and natural gas fired gen (such as Bloom cells). Some of this is being done in the US already. Large data server centers like google heavily optimize their farms (I heard this from Intel), they monitor power consumption versus throughput for their servers, and optimize it (of course power isn't the only thing they optimize for).
Also I think India is becomin reasonably high tech in some sectors. Microprocessors has such an economy of scale effect that we may end up with only a single design/corp for the entire world, so it isn't an indictment of a country to say, it doesn't do its own.

If the core goes down goes down the periphery will crumble. Did I paraphrase it correctly?

Sort of but not exactly, I wouldn't call it core and periphery since US and Europe have lost most of their manufacturing capability as well as trained manpower but yes India as an industrial nation cannot survive without the prosperity of western nations given 1.2 billion people who aspire to live like a westerner. Where are we going to provide services and to whom are we gonna sell our products ?

How is the stucture of agriculture and land ownership working right now in India ? I guess many different cases, but is it more farmers renting plots of land to land owners ? Farmers giving a percentage of revenues to land owners ? Farmers owning the land ? Big cooperatives ? Land owners running big farms with employees ? And is it evolving in some ways with respect to farms sizes for instance, or tensions ?

US has a lot of flab sure

For context, oil consumption per 1000 people (from EIA, 2011):

  • USA: 63 bbl
  • Germany: 29 bbl
  • UK: 26 bbl

If the USA consumed oil at the rate of the UK or Germany, it would need only 8-9Mbbl/day, and -- based on the figures in Patzek's article -- would be at about zero net imports. Moreover, both the UK and Germany have reduced their per-capita oil consumption by 15% in the last decade, suggesting lower consumption rates are feasible for advanced, comfortable societies.

Not to claim it can or will, just for context.

"...would need only 8-9Mbbl/day

About a 10Mbbl/day reduction...
10,000,000bbl/day * 365d/yr * $90/bbl = $328,500,000,000

$328.5 Billion per year

Invested in PV at $1/watt with BOC at 40% - 131.4 Gigawatts (nameplate) addition per year. That would add up nicely.

India is a warm country. Having to heat up your houses a big part of the year is a big issue. Today, when people live in cities and don't have their wood lot, this takes fossil fuels or electricity, that need to come from somewhere. For people who live in warm countries, this is not an obvious problem, but I live in Sweden. I know people who own their own homes where heating is the first or second biggest anual cost for the house.

Secondly India have a lot of local food production. OECD countries have a different situation.

You just can't compare apple and oranges.

But then again; in the US a lot of oil consumption is just for fun and leisure. In the EU we have basicly the same life style, and burns half the per capital oil.

We also have four times the number of people on one half of the land...all advantages nullified.

"There was a large contingent (and I was pretty much one of them) who thought oil demand was basically inelastic. That's turned out to be not true. It's more elastic than many imagined."

It's all about the time frame. Over six months, oil demand is very inelastic. Over 6 years it is surprisingly springy.

Oil demand is inelastic in the short term but quite elastic in the long term. This was quite convincingly demonstrated in the oil crises of the 1970s. Given enough time, people are quite good at finding alternatives to oil.

It may be elastic in developed countries, not so here or in China.

Hey hey PVguy, RockyMtnGuy, wiseindian, and Darwinian (up-thread a bit),

Elasticity is not as well defined a concept as we need it to be for this discussion. At its most basic it means that an x% change in the price causes a y% change in the demand. But this notion covers neither time nor scale.

The temporal component is important for lifestyle/infrastructure reasons. For example, let us say that I drive a single occupancy vehicle 20 miles round trip to work on publicly mandated and maintained roads five days a week. The mode of transportation takes a significant amount of time to change in terms of government policy, physical infrastructure, social norms, personal possessions, and demographic organization.

The other big problem with elasticity is scale. The difference between a 50% increase in price of some important commodity at 0.01% of a person's income and the same increase at 40% of a person's income is huge.


Elasticity is not as well defined a concept as we need it to be for this discussion

Agreed. But as I mentioned previously the unity of many countries like India and China is contingent upon industrial development, the main narrative is that let's tolerate the intrusive and sometimes draconian government because it brings jobs for our children. Without that narrative most of the actors have no reason to participate in this game. Somehow elasticity in consumption does not fit with this narrative, unless there are powerful alternatives available (which are not on the horizon)

I think that Steve's referenced estimate of 2030 global production is on the high side, but he makes a very interesting point about consumption.


Excerpt from Steve Kopits' comment (Re: Some Thoughts on Energy Independence):

In any event, unless you buy the view of China as a backward country--"and we like it that way"--there's just not enough oil to go around, and the incumbents will have to cede oil consumption--which in fact they have and are. This has nothing to do with national or individual merit, and everything to do with the fact that the warlord period and later communism effectively eliminated China from global markets. China today is just catching up to where it would have rightfully been if communism had not held it back. In this sense, it is US or OECD oil consumption levels which are anomalous, not China's rising claim to its rightful share.

As a result, barring some unforeseen revolution in oil production, US oil consumption will decline.

The question that you must then answer is whether you think this matters. So we are talking elasticities again. And if you're talking potential GDP, and you haven't even taken the time to look at GDP-to-oil elasticities, then you are flying blind.

Steve Kopits will be speaking at the 2012 ASPO-USA conference in Austin, Texas on 11/30/12 and 12/1/12.


China today is just catching up to where it would have rightfully been if communism had not held it back. In this sense, it is US or OECD oil consumption levels which are anomalous, not China's rising claim to its rightful share.

As a result, barring some unforeseen revolution in oil production, US oil consumption will decline.

Yeah, I think this is very accurate and has indeed been happening in the last 5 years. And it will be interesting to see what happens if it continues. Perhaps we'll just become more efficient (hybrids, public transportation, telecommuting, EVs, live closer to work, etc.) such that we deal with it. But if the issue becomes widely recognized, I wonder if there will be calls for protectionism. After all, it is all our buying of Chinese products that helps them get some of the money to buy more oil (although they make plenty of money selling goods to the oil exporters themselves). So will there eventually be a protectionist back-lash against China as people feel China is taking our jobs and buying up all "our" oil?

I don't think that would happen. But what if you combine both Europe and the USA such that both areas feel their economies have been destroyed by Cheap Chinese goods. Throw in accusations of Intellectual Property violations and there really could become an East/West political battle.

At its most basic it means that an x% change in the price causes a y% change in the demand. But this notion covers neither time nor scale.

Really, I think everyone should have a pretty good idea of what the term "elastic" means. There is no fixed figure on the elasticity of anything, well as far as price is concerned anyway. A change in price does not mean a given change in demand. It only means a change in price will create some change in demand. Just how much change depends on how badly it is needed by the party or parties desiring to purchase.

There is nothing mysterious about it. The only guide as to how much change in demand a change in price will create is history. And obviously a given change in price will create more change in demand in some places than in others and more change in some people's buying habits than in others.

But demand always has some elasticity everywhere and in everyone. Steel has more elasticity than pig iron and rubber bands has far more elasticity than steel. There are no pig iron nations or people.

Ron P.

The only guide as to how much change in demand a change in price will create is history.

Hi Ron.
I think what Tim is getting at is that if these other factors were taken into account, elasticity could be modeled. We could then model past behaviour and compare to current situations.

This would lead to conversations with less metaphorical arm-waving.


It may be elastic in developed countries, not so here or in China.

I agree. It's easy to be elastic when one wastes lots of energy to begin with. Ride a bike to the supermarket instead of driving. But when it comes to eating or not eating, or harvesting a crop or not because you don't have the energy to run the equipment, things become a bit less elastic. When one gets down to poverty level there isn't much fat left to be trimmed. Then it becomes about survival. There is a minimum energy requirement for maintaining a modern society and it becomes harder and harder to cut out energy use once the lowest hanging fruit has been picked.

I think it's worth remembering, as we kick this and other issues back and forth, is that the very idea of elasticity is but a label, within a model, designed by imperfect minds to describe a perceived set of circumstances in the real world. Does it have some merit, value & use? Sure. But in the end we will have some amount of energy available at some real cost (whatever price label we assign to it), and we will put it to some use. Seems to be the thing to focus on is that the energy available will be less, the folks who want it will be more, the cost will be much more dear, and the uses to which it is put will of necessity grow ever more critical to survival, and less frivolous.

I would argue, with evidence, that some EU nations have pre-planned their reduced oil demand. Sweden a decade ago set up a plan to zero out their national oil demand. In the linked essay, I look at Denmark & France (& the USA) and how plans & investments reduce oil demand.


Going forward, France has a goal of 1,500 km of new tram lines in almost every town of 100,000+ (many profiled in my blog) and plans to double Paris Metro from 2013-2025 (+200 km, + 2 million daily passengers). Plus more TGV, bicycles, electrified rail freight. In addition, France has fairly high goals for EV sales (forgot details).

Copenhagen is going to 50% of urban trips by bicycle in 2015 and a second Metro line (2017 ?). Denmark is electrifying 512 km of rail lines, a new rail link to Germany, new tram lines in their #2 and #3 cities/towns. And the Danes want more EVs too.

Even with stable oil prices & supply, I expect French & Danish oil demand to drop.

Best Hopes for Planning for Reduced Oil Consumption,


It seems to me that the "peak demand" camp is just another group of denialists.

I think EVERYONE is in the "peak demand" camp. We know that we only extract 30% to 60% of the oil found in an oil field. If I were to offer everyone $1Trillion per barrel of that remaining oil, I'm sure we would develop all sorts of ways to extract that remaining oil. It is only due to a lack of demand that we currently experience depletion in existing oil fields.

If I were to offer everyone $1Trillion per barrel of that remaining oil, I'm sure we would develop all sorts of ways to extract that remaining oil. It is only due to a lack of demand that we currently experience depletion in existing oil fields.

We could dig down to the reservoir, grind it up, and boil the results to extract the oil. Wait, we do that in Canada.

We could keep pumping our stripper wells until we get the last barrel of oil out, even if we have to pump and find a place to put a thousand barrels of salt water instead of only a hundred.

The only problem is how we get the energy to do all these things. If the demand was only there, maybe it could supply the needed energy.

Or perhaps you're offering $1 trillion in paper currency: that could generate quite a bit of energy, as long as it wasn't in large bills.

"It seems to me that the "peak demand" camp is just another group of denialists. "

Exactly or it could be described as "economists" that would like to keep some "economic theory" there, forgetting that :

- The Hubbert modeling is in itself an economic modeling (or human behaviour modeling under constraints regarding resources)
- That the fact that consumption decreases doesn't mean that demand decreases, saying so being as stupid as saying that during a hunger crisis demand for food decreases.

Another way to say it. During a famine, hunger must have decreased because food consumption has decreased.

Yes, also a good way to say it!..

Except in economics, "demand" means how much stuff people will buy at a given price point, not how much they would like to have. It's a technical term.

Yes, I've always felt that this technical meaning of "demand" left a lot unsaid by economists. Which is why I've felt they need to coin a new term to use in conjunction with "demand," perhaps "latency" or "latent demand" which would refer to a human system's (with defined boundaries) demand for a product if purchasing power were not a limiting factor. This would obviously be difficult to define since many things would have infinite demand if purchasing power were unlimited... the trick is to figure out what the next limiting factor after purchasing power on consumption would be.

For food, it may be the simple calculation of caloric deficit present in a population under 2000 calories/person/day to yield the latent demand (so you would not consider calories of over consumption in rich individuals)... then compare that with what is actually bought (again neglecting over consumption of rich individuals).

A term like latency could be developed into a useful term in the economic lexicon.

Well . . . to an economist, the word "demand" has a different meaning. In economics, "demand" is what you want AND CAN AFFORD. Thus human starvation is actually caused by a lack of (economic) "demand". So yes . . . there is enough food in the world to feed everyone but the problem is a lack of (economic) "demand".

Yes. In a famine-stricken country, where only 5 people can afford the price of a meal, with people dying of starvation all around, the demand for a meal is 5 people.

It's not as though the rest of the starving and dying people don't desire a meal - they just can't pay the going price. Too bad for them.

Supply always meets demand in the "economic" sense.

Yes. In a famine-stricken country, where only 5 people can afford the price of a meal, with people dying of starvation all around, the demand for a meal is 5 people.

Yes! That is correct because the other 100 starving individuals who can't afford to pay the price of a meal are for all practical purposes, economically non existent! Their economic demand just isn't there.

Only if those 100 starving individuals were shoving each other out of the way and waving large wads of cash about, each one of them offering a higher bid than the next guy in line, for those few existing meals, would it then constitute a demand. Only then could you say, in an economic sense, that demand had out stripped supply.

This is just one more example of why it is, that I don't generally hold economists in very high regard...

They don't call it "The Dismal Science" for nothing. Not that it is a science...

Seems a bit like a chicken/egg argument, perhaps better framed as "We'll leave oil as oil leaves us. Producers seem to have no problem selling their oil, and the gas glut won't last as consumption seeks the cheaper alternative. The idea that "we'll leave oil..." assumes comparable alternatives exist, allowing economies to cross-invest (and assumes economies can afford to). I submit that civilization is more completely invested in oil/fossil fuels than in anything else in their history. A protracted, forced dis-investment is underway, and will be neither voluntary nor painless. All of this in an era of peak-most-everything.

Chicken/egg morphs into "rock/hard place".

Peak Oil is not a theory but a simple statement of fact the same as global warming and Climate Change. Whether this leads to a sudden collapse, "the Long Emergency/ Great Contraction" or a relatively seamless transition to renewable energy is the big question.
As most of TOD knows, the end to Auto Addiction is the major lynchpin to decreasing demand for dwindling oil supplies. Europe certainly has a lot more options to utilize its much more developed Green Transit to cut demand than the US. But this transition is not free and is very costly to maintain in itself.

The flooding of the NYC subways and tunnels shows the vulnerability of Green Transit
to Climate Change disasters and the need to invest billions in Rail and Green Transit alternatives.

For example, besides plans to protect the subways and tunnels, plans should also be made to restore the lower level of the GW Bridge to Rail as was originally intended. But this will not be cheap. Nor will it be cheap to insure that the MetroNorth/Amtrak Rail with spectacular views of the Hudson is raised from the few feet above the Hudson it rests now.

But despite all his long-overdue chest beating about Climate Change, NY Gov Cuomo is still planning to waste $5 Billion on an Auto Addiction only new Tappan Zee Bridge.
The main reason given is "funding". The Hedge Fund banksters who backed Cuomo's NY PAC
feel like they can make $$$ on tolls. What can they make on Green public transit?
The problems are not what to do but the political will to challenge the vested fossil fuel and private bankster interests in order to spend billions on Green Transit and the whole Green Transition.

I was really struck by McKillop's apparently turnaround.

Ron can probably answer this better than I, but I've lurked at the Energy Resources forum for a long time including when McKillop was posting there. My rememberance is that he was forced off the forum by critical comments because of his quasi-cornucopianism.

Ron, am I right? I know it's not as simple as I have written.


I used to post on Energyresources before and during the time when Andrew McKillop posted there. From what I remember at the time, he wasn't cornucopian then, but I suspect that many people thought he was because they misunderstood his unorthodox economic theories.

While I completely disagree with what he says about climate change, and don't agree with his latest stance on peak oil either, I think that his economic theory of oil was good. In fact I thought it was a real eye-opener. He claimed, for various reasons, that higher oil prices would, up to a point, increase world economic growth rather than reduce it. He turned out to be right, I believe. The economic crash occurred at a much higher price than anyone (even McKillop!) had been expecting.

He did get a lot of criticism, and a lot of it from me. But as I recall it was because of his belief that higher oil prices were good for the economy. And he was always talking about "Asian Tigers" but I don't remember his point in bringing them up.

But all this was six or seven years ago and my memory might be faulty on some points. But I do remember us arguing about higher oil prices being a great thing for the economy. I think he probably quit posting there because no one agreed with him.

Ron P.

The money paid for fuel goes somewhere, invested, spent again, etc, so it is not so clear, from economics arguments, that higher prices cause the economy to contract or to grow. It may depend on how the money is spent, relative to how other money is spent, e.g., whether (and where) OPEC invests it in factories, or derivatives. I think to understand the real picture one should look at it from a physical perspective. As EROI drops, more of our "economic activity" is spent on gathering energy, rather than enjoying its fruits.

Agree. Economic malaise is just a canary in the EROEI coalmine. Complexity seems to follow spare energy margins (perhaps steep gradients of any sort?), and end of growth mere marks one inflection point. Peak per capita energy is a key metric. Peak total will be another. Peak population a third.

We've already hit a lot of peaks, and are well down the slide on some. No reason to believe there aren't more predictor peaks prior to the broader overall slide.

As EROI drops, more of our "economic activity" is spent on gathering energy, rather than enjoying its fruits.


I think of this example (maybe oversimplified, but poignant to me)

When I purchased my 1st car, the fuel for it was US$1/gallon, and my income was X dollars
Now, the same fuel for my cars is 4x, at approximately US$4/gallon, but my income has risen only 3x.

The fuel slope is greater than my income slope (4/3), so I therefore am experiencing reduced EROI.

EROEI requires context and boundaries. I have mentioned that a couple of times in the past I think.


For example, if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1968, its historical high point, it would now be over $10.50 per hour. And this is despite the fact that today's low-wage workers are older and better educated than in the past. Had the minimum wage also risen in step with low-wage workers' age and educational attainment since 1968, it would even higher in 2012, approaching $11 per hour.

The current minimum wage looks even worse when compared with two major family expenses. To pay tuition at a public four-year college, a minimum-wage worker had to work 254 hours in a year in 1979, while in 2010 it took 923 hours, or almost six months of full-time work. Similarly, in 1979, a minimum-wage worker had to work 329 hours to pay for a family health insurance policy, but 2,079 hours in 2011, or basically a year of full-time work.

However, the minimum wage is an artificial threshold. The reason it could be higher before was because there were opportunities at the skilled levels as well, so cutting off the bottom meant that people could either choose to go to school or stay home.

Comparison of a median wage might be better, though even that is skewed by the bottom-side cutoff (which today is further softened by food-stamps and welfare more than it used to be).

Average wage is pretty worthless, due to skewing at the top. Median wage of the middle 80-90% might actually be the best overall metric, as it would cover what most people who are working on their own terms are managing to get.

You are correct Ron in that this is a frustrating article. This part...

since 2005 or a little later, stagnation of global demand and regional decline of oil demand is the reality

.. It is just plain wrong.

Anyone with the slightest of understanding of economics knows that statement is wrong. Therefore the author either knows nothing about basic economics, or is deliberately trying to mislead readers. It could only be true if oil prices had remained constant or fallen between 2005 and 2012.

Instead, prices have doubled, supply about the same.

Why is it so hard for people to understand the problem?, because they don't want to understand. Understanding means crushing the dreams of their future.

Why is it so hard for people to understand the problem?, because they don't want to understand. Understanding means crushing the dreams of their future.

I think that's exactly it. And that's the type of bargaining the "peak demand" camp seems to be engaging in. They are like "ok, I agree strange stuff is happening but it's not that we have a supply problem, its that we are advancing beyond FF. We are leaving oil before it leaves us. And that is causing a few minor hiccups right now. No worries though, happy days are just around the corner."

Of course they are completely ignoring all the facts that refute their perception of reality.

Understanding means crushing the dreams of their future.

I don't think this is fair. This is the flip side of people who claim doomers are just old farts nearing the end of their lives, who can't imagine the world continuing without them. Maybe that applies to some, but certainly not all, and it's not very helpful to make that kind of accusation.

In this case, McKillop used to be a doomer. He edited The Final Energy Crisis, which was a Colin Campbell showcase, and contributed an article. He's written about peak oil for longer than I've been blogging about it. If it was simply that he couldn't stand to see his dreams of the future being crushed, would he have been a peak oiler for 20 years or more?

It may be as simple as hedging a bet; bargaining in a sense. History can be rough on doomsayers that turned out to be wrong. I also think that some of these folks spend years being narrowly focused on one threat and lose sight of the big picture. Peak oil is only one threat in my integrated doomer portfolio ;-/

Viewed systemically, we're running out of options beyond reducing our population; approaching MOL on many fronts.

It may be as simple as hedging a bet ...

Maybe it is more a matter of changing ones view? It appears that the extreme doomer perception may be flawed, and that the end of the oil age will come with a whimper rather than a roar.

What we are seeing is a very gradual turn from fossil fuels to renewables. The "Pickens Plan" is one example of this, as wind in Texas has become a larger and larger factor. What I see happening is that, as we move to more difficult oil, and more expensive oil (and gas), the cost of renewables becomes more favorable. Wind and solar costs are dropping as oil prices rise. When they are equal, and oil exceeds the cost of NG/oil/nuclear, it is to be expected that investment will move in the direction of the lower cost and higher return.

What is perplexing to me is that there is no recognition that oil and gas impose limits on the renewables (as do other limited natural resources), and the cornucopians continue to promote BAU in population, GDP growth and the like. I think the crash is more likely to come from widespread natural disaster than from the consequences of peak oil. NatGeo had s really good presentation on Easter Island that the re-ran the other day. When (not if) we outstrip our ability to feed folks, unless we have another planet to which we are able to travel, things will be very dicey. The evolutionary imperative tells us that living things, including people, will do unpleasant things to obtain food.

I am more sad than anything about what I see to be looming on the horizon. I may be an "old fart", yet I am concerned for my children, and even more so for my grandchildren. To place short term profits ahead of long term survival is not a good evolutionary plan.


I see a crash happening. The whole world's financial system is a ponzi scheme predicated on an expectation of future growth. When it's obvious that growth will not materialize and we'll actually have contraction, anything financial will lose all its value and the system will crash. We're actually well beyond that point now, and it's now just a facade with the Fed and MSM trying to hold things together with scotch tape and convincing everyone that BAU is in the cards for decades to come.

At some point soon that will fail and the scheme will collapse. This will cause massive global social upheaval (anyone who has saved for their retirement by buying stocks or bonds will see it vanish or go down 10 fold in real purchasing power). This will be the pivotal shift in human history from pre-PO to post-PO.

While we'll still have fossil fuels and food after this, I see major wars erupting and this will cause so many of the production line efficiencies we depend on today to offset our overpopulation, to break down.

Apparently it's going to happen in 3 weeks: Dec 12 2012... LOL.

I'd be just as worried about yourself as your children and grandchildren. It's happening now. We have a few years, maybe months, left. Ponzi schemes never end quietly.

Null Hypothesis, you have another 9 days to party on. The Mayan calender doesn't "end / roll over" till 12-21-2012 (the winter solastice). LOL

Yes, I think he's simply changed his mind. Maybe he's wrong, but I don't think it's unreasonable for someone to change his mind when in possession of new information. It doesn't mean he's in denial, or bargaining. It means he's in touch with reality.

I was raised with a general knowledge of Malthus and limits to growth, but it was Olduvai that got me really interested in peak oil as an adult. Someone posted that famous chart in the off-topic section of a computer forum where I hung out, and said it freaked him out because he couldn't disprove it.

I did think it was possible back then. Now, it's clearly wrong, at least with respect to timing. No natural gas cliff in 2010 or sooner. World grain production did not peak in 2005. Electricity blackouts are not the norm in the US (predicted for 2012 or sooner), and neither are water shortages and water-borne diseases (also predicted for 2012 or sooner).

There is nothing magic about 100 years. The key point is that with a sophisticated, complex economy there are couplings and trade-offs. It's not that we have a gas shortage or not, or food shortage or not, or disease or not, but that we have a wealthy but healthy world where we have resources of all sort, or an increasingly poor and unhealthy world with insufficient heat, mobility, food, and medicine.

If only one issue arises, we'll pull in the other areas, suck it up, and pile on successfully. But if we have a drought along with crop disease along with a pandemic over a backdrop of untreatable historical diseases along with trace mineral shortages and resource wars, there will be little to trade off.

I am reminded again that healthy systems tend to look a lot alike, while unhealthy ones each fail in their own way. Some areas will have one "worst problem" while others will have another, but overall there won't be slack to cover the needs.

I'm not sure energy alone would fix anything either. Any additional energy will just add a few more years and a few hundred million more sufferers. Until we gain control of population and our propensities, the end result is inevitable.

I am reminded again that healthy systems tend to look a lot alike, while unhealthy ones each fail in their own way. Some areas will have one "worst problem" while others will have another, but overall there won't be slack to cover the needs.

Indeed, Ugo Bardi has an excellent post on the collapse of the Roman Empire that underscores your point:

Which, BTW, I think captures a very important point, that most people who are living through the collapse of their civilization rarely, if ever understand what is going on and therefore do not recognize the signs, which in retrospect were clearly there all along. Furthermore a century is not an exceedingly long time for a collapse to occur.

So, Namatianus gives us this chilling report. Just read this excerpt:

"I have chosen the sea, since roads by land, if on the level, are flooded by rivers; if on higher ground, are beset with rocks. Since Tuscany and since the Aurelian highway, after suffering the outrages of Goths with fire or sword, can no longer control forest with homestead or river with bridge, it is better to entrust my sails to the wayward."

Can you believe that? If there was a thing that the Romans had always been proud of were their roads. These roads had a military purpose, of course, but everybody could use them. A Roman Empire without roads is not the Roman Empire, it is something else altogether. Think of Los Angeles without highways. "Sic transit gloria mundi" , as the Romans would say; there goes the glory of the world. Namatianus tells us also of silted harbors, deserted cities, a landscape of ruins that he sees as he moves north along the Italian coast.

But what does Namatianus think of all this? Well, he sees the collapse all around him, but he can't understand it. For him, the reasons of the fall of Rome are totally incomprehensible. He can only interpret what is going on as a temporary setback. Rome had hard times before but the Romans always rebounded and eventually triumphed over their enemies. It has always been like this, Rome will become powerful and rich again.

Somehow, as I read that story and description, I couldn't help but think of the images of the New York Subway flooded by Sandy, or looters going through the rubble in Far Rockaway, people in long lines waiting for gas to power their generators. As Fox News brings us the demise of Hostess' Twinkies with 18000 people losing their jobs, while on ebay stale cupcakes are auctioned for exorbitant amounts. In the meantime the citizens are glued to their TVs with great concern over General Petraeus' sexual indiscretions with his biographer...as the realities on the ground in Afganistan are duly ignored.

It is death by a thousand tiny cuts, each one individually so small as to be practically unnoticable and by themselves not one of them a sign that our industrial civilization itself is starting to collapse around us. Because to most of us these are all part and parcel of background noise or even the tough times that we have seen before. No doubt everything will be back to normal and we can all go back to playing the slot machines in Atlantic City, secure in the certainty that we will all be rich again, sooner rather than later.

Until we gain control of population and our propensities, the end result is inevitable.

Paleocon, when oh when will the population issue be addressed?

Most likely at the point of "inevitable end result".


I agree some things haven't happened but remember Duncan is talking about per capita availability not total production and industrial civilization globally, not specifically the US.

These things have happened in many areas of the world. Consider water shortages in India and China. The fact that they haven't happened in the US does not detract from his theory for me.


"Consider water shortages in India and China. The fact that they haven't happened in the US...





Texans are talking about drinking re-cycled wizz...you gotta know something is up when recycling urine directly back into drinking water starts sounding like a good idea and you're not on a space station.

You think you are not already doing that when you drink water extracted from a river?


I'm under no illusions there but, psychologically anyway, it's one thing to pull water from a river and treat it after it's gone through some natural processes (which treatment facilities actually use too) and dilution to going from one end of a treatment facility coming from your toilet to the other end going right back into the drinking water supply.

I have toured a waste water treatment facility in which the end product that was discharged into the nearby river would be the envy of many African nations and "developing" world.

Windhoek in Namibia has treated sewage and pumped it back into the drinking water since the '70s. When I was transferred there I vowed to only drink Windhoek Lager. Then I met a technician who worked at the brewery's lab. She told me their water came from the municipal system, it wasn't pure spring water as I had supposed. Gulp. Splutter. But you get used to it. There's no off taste or anything.

Namibia might be able to get away with it but in the US you've got birth control hormones, psychiatric meds, and other long lived pharmaceuticals that would get recycled back into the drinking water. And if you have industrial inputs it can be hard to remove dissolved heavy metals.

Back in the days of the sailing ships they'd have barrels of rum and barrels of water and mix them into grog to kill off the nasties in the water (and probably the taste). I think a lot of other brewing went on for that reason as well.

Seen the reports about the level of cocaine in river water? (Not to mention all of the above)


No, he specifically said in the U.S.

Obviously, water and energy shortages have been common in some parts of the world for longer that he or we have been alive. Nobody would care if his predictions didn't apply to the U.S.

Sounds like you're a bit disappointed, Leanan.

Timing this thing is more of a hobby to me; not really important. Responding to what appears to be our civilizational apogee seems more imperative. Like those anti-gravity flights (Vomit Comet?) we're just floating on the peak before gravity pulls us down.

In the post linked below, I extrapolated six years of declines in the ECI ratio (ratio of total petroleum liquids production to liquids consumption), in order to estimate post-1995 CNE (cumulative net exports) for the Six Country Case History. At the end of 2001, estimated remaining post-1995 CNE, divided by 2001 annual net exports per year was 5.1 years. The actual ratio turned out to be 2.5 years.

In a similar fashion, I extrapolated the 2005 to 2011 rate of decline in the GNE/CNI ratio (ratio of Global Net Exports to Chindia's Net Imports), in order to estimate post-2005 Available CNE (Available Net Exports, or ANE, are GNE less Chindia's Net Imports). At the end of 2011, estimated remaining post-2005 Available CNE, divided by 2011 ANE, was 7 years.

More detailed numbers:


As noted in my post, these numbers appear to be impossibly pessimistic, but then we have the Six Country Case History.

No, not disappointed. But I do think it's interesting to take a look at where predictions have failed. And I think it's wrong to denigrate someone like McKillop, who has studied peak oil for a long time, because he's changed his mind about something in the face of new information.

Maybe timing doesn't matter to you, but for most people, it's everything, at least when it comes to predictions. In the long run, we're all dead.

I agree about changing one's mind. I change mine a little bit each day. That said, I haven't changed my opinion of the path humans are on. The trend is clear: The collapse has been underway for some time.

Specific predictions are for: those who are "timing the market", so to speak; those who are behind on or haven't yet begun any sort of useful transition; and those who view this as some virtual reality game of prophecy.

The dynamics are far too complex, so I view specific predictions as either WAGs or hubris, usually both.

The next big step down will occur within five years ;-)

The next big step down will occur within five years ;-)

No, five years, four months, two weeks and four and a half days... I stake my reputation on that! Granted it is a fractal stairway and you need to qualify the resolution at which we are examining it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES-yKOYaXq0


The next big step down will occur within five years

I was hoping for something sooner, like say Dec 21 :-)

The Mayans' prediction was pretty close, but 10 days too early.

I'm not talking about timing the market.

If there's a big step down in five years, it's definitely of interest.

In 50 years? Not as much.

500 years? 5000 years? Academic interest only, since I won't be around to see it, and neither will anyone I know. Unless Ray Kurzweil is right...

I think 'within five years' is a safe bet...


...since I believe that we sap our ability to recover with each new recession, especially this time, as our ability to inject capital/debt to re-prime the pumps is diminishing. We're running out of seed corn; all of the things that allow economies to grow out of recession. The last few years have made this clear. It's hard to pull yourself up by the bootstraps when you ain't got no boots ;-/

I think this latest 'recovery' is largely an illusion, while the predicaments we face are real, deeply systemic, and haven't been addressed; running out of options as we face hard limits. This is taking a toll on the psyche of the people, who are programmed for growth and progress.

I don't see recession as a "big step down."

I don't exclude the next recession as the kick that gets us going. That's likely how it'll start. This most recent recession was longer/deeper, and required more intervention than past recessions. How many times have we heard that, without $trillions in QE, etc., this would likely have been a full blown depression? The next round will likely come without any real recovery from this round, and may be an inflection point, not just economically, but socially and politically.

I'm with Stoneleigh on this one: Global deleveraging, austerity measures, resource constraints, demographics... death by a thousand cuts may be closer than we want to admit. Throw in a little environmental degradation and climate change - a few more Sandys...

It's like the doctor told my friend - "We've gotten your diabetes under control. Now, about your lung cancer and failing heart bypasses.."

I would not be surprised if we bump along for 20 years or more with repeated recessions and "recoveries" that barely qualify as such.

That's what happens after a bubble bursts.

But I don't think it qualifies as a stair step down, and while resource limits may be a factor, it's far from proven. Japan's post-bubble malaise was not fixed by the cheap oil of the '90s.

There's also the theory that what we are seeing is the shift of power from the US to Asia. Jim Rogers, who appears to believe in peak oil and tells young people who are studying finance that they should study mining or agriculture instead, sold his NYC mansion and moved to Singapore. His children are learning Mandarin.

I grant that the idea of 'big step' or sudden collapse is largely semantical. For many, this latest recession was only a minor inconvenience. For others...

I think Wiseindian's post, today, (http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9643#comment-931161) is pertinent.

My perceptions of the future (and particularly the relative immediate danger posed by climate change and peak oil) has shifted as well. Robert Rapier's predictions have held up exceptionally well, IMHO - particularly the prediction that as the most useful light sweet oil is depleted, we'd move to both lighter fuels (such as natural gas) and heavier fuels (such as tar sands oil), with declining EROEI and greater carbon emissions, made possible by a cripplingly high price.

Understanding means crushing the dreams of their future.

I think that is the basis for the cornucopian reaction, and it carries over to climate chaos as well.

I think events since 2007 have shaken those with the view that Peak Oil would lead to an imminent cliff. The rapid rise in production from unconventional sources has given the appearance of an uninterrupted flow of crude and the addition of expanded natural gas production from shales has further confused the situation. From an economic point of view, the price of oil is rather "inelastic", so a short term increase in production compared to demand results in a relatively large drop in price. But, the price for oil is set on the world market and the "Great Recession" has produced a drop in demand while the total production has increased in response to the high prices previously seen.

That the price of oil is inelastic leads to a repeated cycle of boom and bust. The time delay between investments in production and the delivery of product to the market has resulted in declining prices recently, but that situation is fast fading in the US as the number of rigs drilling for natural gas has fallen sharply as rigs have been shifted to drilling for oil in shale formations. The perception of a glut in NG has caused an increase in demand by electric power generators and the return of petrochemical plants to the US on the assumption that the glut and lower prices will pertain in future. This herd mentality will likely result in a rapid disappearance of the glut and higher NG prices may be expected to follow. Thus, it is likely that there won't be much NG available to replace the loss of conventional crude and the inexorable decline in net available energy from petroleum will continue.

McKillop does not live in the US. He may be looking at things the way the IEA shows them, thus seeing data which distorts what is happening. That is, he may be taking the EIA data for petroleum production at face value, instead of seeing the way the EIA has fudged the numbers to give the appearance of a strong positive trend in the growth of petroleum production in the US. For example, it would be interesting to know whether he realizes that the EIA data includes NGPLs, bio fuels and refinery gains as production of petroleum, aka, crude oil...

EDIT: Here's another recent piece by McKillop: Global Energy's Massive U-Turn , in which he discusses the US/world natural gas situation. He accepts the projections in the latest IEA WEO and his cornucopian world view is summed up in this claim:

Very simply, the gas market will never be the same again.

To which I would reply with the old saying: Never say never...

E. Swanson

What so many of these analysts appear to be missing is that the surplus of natural gas is a direct function of the scarcity of oil. The gas market will never be the same? Actually we've come full circle back to when natural gas was a byproduct of oil. Natural gas trades as a byproduct today. We're scouring the earth for oil, coming up with mostly natural gas instead, and dumping it on the market in the case of the U.S.

Nat gas has its uses. We should use it to generate more electricity, perhaps to drive electrified rail and maybe cars and trucks. Traditionally we have used it for space heating, but with 5 of the last 7 winters being warmer than normal (not sure why but my understanding is some smart folks are looking into it...) this use has fallen off quite a bit.

So there is the disconnect: analysts insisting that 'improving technology' is giving us abundant natural gas when it is really a combination of byproduct economics and slack demand in a warming world. History may not repeat, but it probably will rhyme....

The thing with world systems is that they tend to be self sustaining. Whilst the reactions to crisis may not be pleasant they tend to result in peripheral countries 'shedding' and destabalising whilst the center crumbles. The logical conclusion to the world crisis is the pain experienced in Middle East countries, the PIIGS in Europe etc whilst major empires like America find maintaining their infrastructure ever more difficult.

The reason oil demand has declined in Europe, and in the US as well for that matter, is because the supply of oil has declined.

I think that would be better stated as 'the supply of cheap conventional oil has declined'.

It is really price that has destroyed demand in Europe. With weak debt-ridden economies, they are just not in a position to pay $9/gallon for a lot of gas to burn up commuting. And there is plenty of supply of oil available . . . but it is mostly non-conventional oil such as tar-sands synthetic crude, hydrofracked tight oil, difficult to extract heavy oil, sour-heavy Arabian crude, etc. If Europe demanded it, it would be provided to them.

I think the "peak demand" view has a good point, I just don't see how it makes a damn bit of difference whether it is peak-demand or peak-supply . . . the net effect is the same. Less cheap oil to power economies to easily grow. I think 'peak-supply' really is just 'peak demand' anyway. We know that OOIP is always much larger than the economically extractable oil. If we say that you can get $10 million per barrel of that oil, then supply would increase like crazy. Supply only drops because demand for $10 Million per barrel is oil is nil.

I think that would be better stated as 'the supply of cheap conventional oil has declined'.

The total oil supply to the entire importing world has declined. The oil supply to exporting nations has increased, they are keeping a lot more of it for themselves.

Ron P.

Oh I fully agree that the amount of oil on export markets has decreased. One can't argue with the published numbers. My point is only that there is more oil 'supply' available at higher price points but there is a lack of 'demand' (which requires the money to pay for it) at such higher price points. The exporters would produce that additional oil if consumers had more money to buy oil (or if the oil price were cheaper).

The peak oil community has to admit that the economists were correct in that when you raise oil prices by a significant amount, that does bring new oil to the market. Small oil fields that were previously viewed as uneconomic and oil deposits that require expensive extraction techniques will begin to flow.

Money is able to break down barriers. Sometimes they are technological as they were with tar sands and "tight" oil. And sometimes they are political . . . I expect higher oil prices to open up the heavy oil of Venezuela's Orinoco. Yeah, the western oil companies probably won't do it but Venezuela will strike some deal with the Chinese such that the Chinese oil experts get in there and start exploiting those fields in ways that Chavez has been unable to do since he alienated every western IOC and his domestic oil companies don't seem up to the task.

but it is mostly non-conventional oil such as tar-sands synthetic crude, hydrofracked tight oil, difficult to extract heavy oil, sour-heavy Arabian crude, etc. If Europe demanded it, it would be provided to them.

I think the "peak demand" view has a good point, I just don't see how it makes a damn bit of difference whether it is peak-demand or peak-supply . . . the net effect is the same.

[My emphasis] Nailed it! EROEI...

Saudi generating electricity with Crude Oil

About 750,000 b/day of crude during the summer per link above.

Please note that this does *NOT* include burning refined oil products (bunker fuel, "gasoil" (diesel)) to generate power as temperatures climb to 45 C.

Data from several years ago suggests that power in the southern Gulf is about half NG and half oil. Qatar and Iran have a massive surplus of NG, but their neighbors burn oil instead of importing it.

The Saudi push for renewables & nuke will only replace growth in demand per plans. KSA has to burn NG because many power plants are combined desalinization & power plants. Solar PV does not help desalinate water - and the first solar desalinization plant is very small compared to most Saudi plants.

With Saudi population growth - this does not end well.


They could power the desal plants with combined nukes, but that would mean building new desal plants along with every new nuke. Will it ramp up in time?

Re: Desalinization ...

Researchers report major advance in using sunlight to produce steam without boiling water

"This research opens up a revolutionary new application of nanoparticles in solar energy," ... "The authors show that sunlight can be used to create steam with virtually no wasteful heating of the surrounding liquid. The potential societal benefits are staggering. They include more energy-efficient distillation of alcohol, a new and highly practical strategy for desalination and water purification and compact solar-driven sources of steam for sterilization and sanitation in resource-poor locations," said Weiss.

... The new report explains that nanoparticles illuminated by light can quickly rise to temperatures above 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the boiling point of water. Steam forms around the surface of each nanoparticle, billons of which can be placed in water or other fluids. Eventually, the vapor escapes from the particle, forming nanobubbles that float to the top of the surface and escape as water vapor or steam, vapors of ethanol in the case of distillation of alcohol for beverages or fuel, or other vapors.

An impressive 82 percent of the sunlight absorbed by the nanoparticles went directly to generating steam. The overall energy efficiency of the steam generation process was 24 percent, and the scientists had made no effort to optimize the process.

That is 'way cool. It underscores how many little tricks might have been "out there" to produce a sustainable human world if we'd hadn't gone the "yeast" route and destroyed things.


Thank you for the article link.

"..powering hybrid air-conditioning.."

Absorption AC can save lots of power in desert regions.

Solar Air-Conditioning Systems
Focus on components and their working principles
(PDF) http://www.airconstruct.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Solar2.pdf

This from "The Great Oil Fallacy" was just mind-boggling to me:

As in other areas of policy, the battles of the 1960s and 1970s continue to shape thinking about oil. It’s time to recognize that in the second decade of the 21st century, oil is just one commodity among many in an economy that is mainly driven by services and information.

Expenditure on oil is insignificant in the bigger picture, as he tells us that:

At a price of $100 a barrel, expenditure on oil is around $700 billion a year, or 4 percent of GDP. That’s comparable to the amount spent on accommodation and restaurant services, and far smaller than, say, the health care or financial services sectors.

Apparently although (or perhaps because) the author John Quiggin is a professor of economics at the University of Queensland, Australia and adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, he has no awareness that the cost of most things in our society will increase in lockstep with the cost of energy.

This one caught my eye:

But oil is no more special or critical than coal, gas or metals—let alone food.

It's been argued that oil underwrites all of the above, in so many ways, that it is, indeed "more special". An argument can also be made that, considering its utility, oil is and has been underpriced. This is why we have had a surplus of utilization. It's the surplus that fuels growth in virtually every other sector.


The U.S. Department of Energy has indicated:

"Oil is the lifeblood of America’s economy."

(The Fleets & Terrorism Follow The Oil).

U.S. consumption of petroleum for gasoline peaked in 2005, well before the recession, and economic recovery has not produced a rebound.

There is no recovery except among stock prices. Wages are stagnant, housing prices are bouncing along the bottom, and the labor force participation rate is still declining. This is a rich man's recovery. It's really bizarre for a supposed leftist to call this a recovery, especially a leftist who delights in attacking "Zombie" economics on the right.

Moreover, while oil is a very convenient fuel for many purposes, there are few for which it is essential. Cars can run on liquefied natural gas, ethanol or biodiesel, not to mention electricity.

"And if I can wave my hands hard enough, I can assume away any difficulties!"

Quiggin's writing, in general, is a little too cute and easy for its own good. I think McKillop's article at the top is a lot better.

Cars can run on synthetic fuels made from natural gas. Shell's Pearl has shown that.

As well as ethanol and coal to liquids (Nazi Germany & Sasol). All are bad ideas.

Better to reduce demand by cars.


CNG in itself already reduces demand by a non-negligible amount, and even more so as motors become optimized for NG. Numbers are availabe easily so this likely has no potential to trigger a debate like i've seen here for ethanol.

One can start for instance at the address below


to look for fuel demand numbers and then compare them with those of equivalent motorizations for other fuels. Even if advertized mileages are to be taken with a pinch of salt.


Update: My bad, CNG is sold by kilogram units, not liters; will be back with specific energy content numbers. Also got confused by the fuels being labeled more and more by carbon content. NG burns cleaner though.

Of course they can. The problem is that Quiggin waves away the difficulties of mass conversion, NG compression and distribution, NG capex limits, etc.

The Great Oil Fallacy
John Quiggin | November 19, 2012
John Quiggin is a professor of economics at the University of Queensland, Australia and adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, College Park.

I assume this is the person you refer to? I am still not clear on your points, I did not find any mention of your issues in the article.

He was referring to this line from the article:

Cars can run on liquefied natural gas, ethanol or biodiesel, not to mention electricity.

And Jersey Patriot wrote:
The problem is that Quiggin waves away the difficulties of mass conversion, NG compression and distribution, NG capex limits, etc.

And you replied: I am still not clear on your points, I did not find any mention of your issues in the article.

Of course you didn't. That was his point!

Ron P.

I did not read him "waving away" any of those points, that was MY point. You might have said, neglected to mention, but "waving away" connotes mentioning and dismissing as unimportant. The author did not do that.

Human blood is also roughly 7~8% of body weight ,lower than the amount of disposable body fat available in most cases.

What is it about economists really, how can they be so dumb as to compare oil with restaurants ?

Because it shows up as numbers of how much it directly contributes to GDP in their Excell sheats. And that is the only thing they are trained to see. If all you got is a hammer, every problem is a nail.

Pretty much. Modern economics is dominated by the neoclassical school of thought. The main tenets of neoclassical economics are rationality, self interest, and equilibrium. Adam Smith and James Watts were both born in Scotland early in the 18th century. Economics grew up with the industrial revolution. Neoclassical economists consider continuous exponential growth to be normal because it was the norm over the time period that economics was developed.

I promise that there will be massive changes in the field of economics over the next 200 years, but those changes are going to come too late to address our current predicament.

It seems to me that at $100 / bbl, for about 82 MB/D production, 365 days per year (= about 29,930 million B/Yr production), the total is more like 2.930 Trillion.




Shifting gears this morning here is a report from the World Bank.

'World Bank warns of ‘4 degree’ threshold'

“A 4°C world is likely to be one in which communities, cities and countries would experience severe disruptions, damage, and dislocation,” the bank report said. “There is no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible.”

No certainty? Now that sounds about as dire as comments can be made, and to have come from the World Bank suggests the realization of our GW situation is beginning to reach a tipping point. Maybe Sandy tipped the scales. What comes after realization? Carbon trading? Global mobilization to replace FF with renewables? Denial? Placating those concerned by those that profit from FF? BAU?

They're saying 4degrees by the end of the century and 3ft sea level rise. The IEA is saying 4degrees by 2050, 3.5degrees in 28 years from now by 2040. Last time the planet had temperatures that high the sea level was 11 meters higher.

We're already seeing severe climate change and it is already affecting food production. Just to keep up with population growth we need to add 15,000 acres a day for food production. IF the IEA is anywhere near correct, millions of acres will become useless for agricultural purposes. Northern Europe will be uninhabitable in the summer without air conditioning, good job the world will be awash with natural gas. At 3.5 degrees energy consumption will probably go exponential.

In as little as 28 years we may all be toast.

The numbers are truely frightening if you carry the timeline out. For clarification sake, can you tell me where the 15,000 acres per day comes from. If true, that's 5,475,000 per year. That's a new Indiana every 4 years. Wow.

Fascinating. And scary as hell.

Thank you.

The 15,000 acres was from memory, something I saw a couple of weeks ago, possibly on ZeroHedge. It was a back of a napkin calculation based on net population growth of 200,000 a day needing x number of calories per day, and the average annual calorie yield per acre of rice. I guess if you play around with the variables you can get all sorts of numbers, so its really just indicative. At 0.075 acres to feed each new person it seems very conservative.

Even if global mean temperature would magically rise 10 deg C tomorrow morning, there would be little change in sea level raise the next year. Maybe it would go a mm faster. But once it picks up speed, in just a few years, it would be fast and unstoppable. Those lag times are a killer.

On land, 4 C more heat will cause big (realy big) population holes in the US, Afrika and ME, and in Asia and Australia. Those people would have to move somewhere. North, I guess.

It's a week before the Doha Climate Conference ...

Climate Change Report Warns of Dramatically Warmer World This Century

Full Report: Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided

... similar scenario to Kieth Anderson's Real Clothes for the Emperor, Facing the Challenges of Climate Change Powerpoint presentation [PDF, 1.6 MB]

... not compatible with organized civil society - in under 30 years - ACK!

We're adding 2 people to the planet and removing 1 acre of arable land every SECOND - therein lies the problem

Let's not forget that the dialogue once was keeping it to two degrees. Later that two degree figure was said to be too much itself:

A mantra that has driven global negotiations on carbon dioxide emissions for years has been that policy-makers must prevent warming of more than two degrees Celsius to prevent apocalyptic climate outcomes. And, two degrees has been a point of no return, a limit directly or indirectly agreed to by negotiators at international climate talks.

James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, whose data since the 1980s has been central to setting that benchmark, said today that two degrees is too much.

(Scientific American). That means four degrees is twice too much.

Joe Romm @ ClimateProgress has a few interesting articles ...

Mr. President, Acting On Climate Will Advance Economic Growth And Create Jobs

In his first post-election news conference, President Obama made clear that his concern about global climate change will not push the economy and jobs off the top of his priority list.

Before 24 hours passed, a nonpartisan group in Washington D.C. – the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) – issued a detailed, data-rich report that shows climate action meets the President’s test. It will indeed advance economic growth and create jobs. Moreover, it will significantly improve America’s energy security.

Grantham To Climate Scientists: ‘Be Persuasive. Be Brave. Be Arrested (If Necessary)’

Uber-hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham has a must-read opinion piece in the journal Nature.

... I have yet to meet a climate scientist who does not believe that global warming is a worse problem than they thought a few years ago. The seriousness of this change is not appreciated by politicians and the public.

Shocking World Bank Climate Report: ‘A 4°C [7°F] World Can, And Must, Be Avoided’ To Avert ‘Devastating’ Impacts

... The Bank’s inconsistency on climate has been widely noted — see “Why Does the World Bank Say it Cares About Climate Change, But Continue to Aggressively Push Coal?” The Bank has kept financing large coal plants — most infamously providing a $3.75 billion loan for one of the world’s largest coal plants, located in South Africa. The Bank also pushed a 600-MW coal plant in Kosovo.

On the basis of this [4°C] report, the bank must stop funding all new fossil fuel plants. I use the word “must” because that is the word the report and [the Bank's] President Kim repeatedly use.


That goes opposite the previous administration claiming that we had to have more fossil fuels to keep the economy moving.

"Let's not forget that the dialogue once was keeping it to two degrees."

During the last glacial maximum, the average temperature was about 6 degrees below what we call normal. The previous interglacial (Eemian) peaked about 2 degrees hotter than our definition of normal.

And then the bottom fell out. Just found this;

"The recent high-resolution Atlantic sediment record of Adkins et al (1997) suggests that the move from interglacial to much colder-than-present glacial conditions occurred over a period of less than 400 years (with the limitations on the resolution of the sediment record leaving open the possibility that the change was in fact very much more rapid than this)."


So even without human activity, how does Hansen expect to hold the temperature steady when it normally travels through an 8 degree range?

More interesting reading;


"So even without human activity, how does Hansen expect to hold the temperature steady when it normally travels through an 8 degree range?" This is not normal. The fast change was due to positive feedbacks that Hansen and others have been warning about for years. Most don't bother to educate themselves on the issue though.

The whole climate change discussion is going to continue being a mess. Even if we stopped pumping so much CO2 in the atmosphere tomorrow, there is so much temperature rise that will continue to happen based upon what we have already done. So let's say that by some miracle the climate change people were able to change policies all over the Earth, the temps would continue rising and other climate change effects would still increase. It would be a very short time before the denialists would say "See, these climate change policies ARE ACCOMPLISHING NOTHING! The problem continues to get worse! So let us stop hamstringing our economy with these carbon restrictions!"

Climate change just works on a timescale outside of normal human being intuition. I'm convinced that the very reason that so many people reject biological evolution is that they simply cannot imagine and comprehend changes over geological time scales. I'm pretty convinced that we are doomed to suffer severe effects from climate change over the long haul. And maybe, just maybe, we'll learn from that and change.


"I'm convinced that the very reason that so many people reject biological evolution is that they simply cannot imagine and comprehend changes over geological time scales"

Geological timescales and biological timescales are not even in the same league.

The epoch of abiotic evolution dwarfs biotic evolution timescales to the point that evolutionists have not even adequately addressed it (Did Abiotic Intelligence Precede Biotic Intelligence?).

Self destruction seems to be the thing we are obsessed with in this solar system.

Destruction by pollution is but one of the manifestations of that obsession.

IOW, your assertion has valid support in reality.

Burrowing animal outlived dinosaurs
Image: http://d4493f2df0d1b95cfc62-773cd17a86049dd672fafb96394debed.r5.cf2.rack... Look out! Look out! Behind you!!

"Necrolestes' supreme burrowing ability enabled it to survive for 45 million years longer than its relatives."

45 thousand millennia of digging, finding something to eat, mating, gazing out at the scenery... and those were just the bonus years!

Some of those burrowing animals are our ancestors. I thank them for their dogged persistence to survive.

I read The Dragons of Eden in my misspent youth, so I'm familiar with the theory that mammals got their beginnings as tiny nocturnal creatures hiding in burrows while dinosaurs ruled the earth.

But it was really driven home recently when I read an article about ultraviolet plumage on birds. Apparently, birds often have "colors" on their feathers that we cannot see. For example, crows can tell a male from a female by the ultraviolet "colors" of their plumage, while to us, they all look black.

Turns out, most non-mammalian vertebrates can see ultraviolet. (And a lot of invertebrates, too.) Mammals apparently lost a lot of their color vision sometime in the past, likely because they were originally nocturnal. We primates have very good color vision for mammals, but goldfish can see colors we cannot.

Gives a new dimension to the adage,

"Imagine a color you've never seen.."

I did some work for the Bronx Botanical Gardens once, where they show the way Bees see UV color patterning in various flowers.

Ultraviolet (UV) light perception by birds: a review
(PDF) http://www.vri.cz/docs/vetmed/54-8-351.pdf

"Birds have 4–5 types of single cone photoreceptors, including one type sensitive to UV light (for comparison humans have only three types of cone photoreceptors). ... Kestrels flying over landscape follow the vole marks* – urine and faeces – that are visible in the UV light in order to assess the numbers of prey. The ability to follow these marks of the presence of voles enables the raptors to screen large areas in a relatively short time. ... crows were... tested against two types of black berries (Vaccinum myrtillus): UV-reflecting berries and black blueberries... against foliage – the crows detected the UV-reflecting berries at a larger distance..."

*How Rodents Communicate With UV Light

Ultraviolet vision in a bat

"Most mammals, with the exception of primates, have dichromatic vision..." (two-color) They can see all hues of blues and yellows, but they are red-green color blind. In deer, the blue may extend into the near ultraviolet.


"It has been suggested that as women have two different X chromosomes in their cells, some of them could be carrying some variant cone cell pigments, thereby possibly being born as full tetrachromats and having four different simultaneously functioning kinds of cone cells, each type with a specific pattern of responsiveness to different wave lengths of light in the range of the visible spectrum.[9] One study suggested that 2–3% of the world's women might have the kind of fourth cone that lies between the standard red and green cones, giving, theoretically, a significant increase in color differentiation." - "It is suspected that a human female could inherit multiple alleles for color blindness as protanomaly, deuteranomaly, and/or tritanomaly leading to the phenotypic expression of at least four and possibly as many as six different types of color-sensing cones..."

Some women may see 100 million colors, thanks to their genes

"A genetic test would be needed to verify whether Mrs. Hogan truly fits that description, but it could help explain why the interior decorator can hold up three samples of beige wall paint, "and I can see gold in one and gray in another and green in another, but my clients can't tell the difference.""

Richer color experience in observers with multiple photopigment opsin genes
(PDF) http://www.klab.caltech.edu/cns186/papers/Jameson01.pdf

"A few investigators have conjectured that some individuals who possess four photopigments in their retinas might have a dimension of perceptual experience that is not experienced by trichromat individuals. ... the subjects with four-photopigment retinas perceived significantly greater numbers of chromatic appearances ... consistent with the notion that four-pigment females are judging a more varied color percept..."

The Post-Gazette article is interesting. They found women with extra-sensitive color vision by looking at the mothers of color blind boys. Apparently, color blindness, at least on some cases, is not caused by defective cones. Rather, the cause is inheriting two cones that detect similar wavelengths from a mother who has an extra. The extra lets her detect a wider range of colors, but her sons, if they inherit two blue-yellow or two red-green, instead of one of each, end up with a color vision deficit.

This type of color blindness is the most common, and might explain why color blindness is so common and so persistent. Ordinarily, you would expect it to have been weeded out via natural selection...unless there's a hidden advantage. That advantage may well be super color vision in females.

Spec: "

And maybe, just maybe, we'll learn from that and change."

To which I would add, whether we learn from that or not, we will either evolve or go extinct.

No sense betting on the outcome since we will either not be here or will not be recognizable. "[D]oomed to suffer" seems right, though.


“Iowa Climate Statement” signed by 138 scientists

A group of Iowa scientists says this year’s drought is a “teachable moment” about the economic and environmental impact of climate change.

More than 130 scientists from Iowa colleges and universities say this year’s drought is consistent with a warmer climate predicted as part of global climate change and more droughts can be expected.

“We don’t face a choice between our economy and the planet. The choice is between addressing the causes and effects of climate change or spending ever more money cleaning up from events like we’ve seen in the past several years.”

RE: 'Writing is on the wall' at climate summit

Two-thirds of the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves cannot be used without risking dangerous climate change, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned this week.

Preventing the consumption of those two-thirds will be the primary task of the annual UN climate negotiations that resume at the end of this month.

In other words, let the oil wars continue.

Both verbal wars and shooting wars.

Does anyone know the coeficient of thermal conductivity of a turkey?

White meat or dark meat?

Talking about an engineering approach to cooking a turkey, what do y'all think about the popular rule of thumb that says it needs to be baked for XX minutes per pound of weight? That never made sense to me. It's probably an OK approximation for turkeys in a narrow range of middling weights, but would break down on the edges of the range, for small and large ones?

Souse vide it. Overcooking will be difficult.....

" popular rule of thumb that says it needs to be baked for XX minutes per pound of weight?"

If you read the label carefully, you will discover it's a sliding scale. Big birds (or hams) take more time per pound than little birds (or hams).
Stuffed vs unstuffed also affects cooking time.


A finite element method was used to solve the unsteady state heat transfer equations for heating of turkeys in a conventional electric oven. Breast, and thigh and wing joint temperature in 5.9, 6.8, 8.6, 9.5, and 10.4 kg turkeys were simulated. A surface heat transfer coefficient of 19.252 W/m2K determined by transient temperature measurements in the same oven, was used. Thermal conductivity measured using a line heat source probe from 0 to 80°C was 0.464 W/mK. Simulated temperatures were within 1.33, 1.47, and 1.22°C of experimental values of temperature in the breast, thigh, and wing joint, respectively. Initial temperature 1,2, and 3°C lower than 4°C required additional baking time of 16,22, and 27 min., respectively for the thigh joint to reach the target endpoint temperature.

Full PDF available for download at site.

Coeficient of thermal conductivity of Black Swans may vary


Thanks, Fred, that's all I needed. The proof will be in the thawing ;-)

I guess heat transfer via water vapor is important enough that thermal conductivity alone wouldn't give you a decent answer.

Iowa Governor Branstad cool to requests to raise gas tax

A coalition of farm and business groups is forming to lobby for a 10-cent increase in the state’s gasoline and diesel fuel taxes in the Iowa Legislature’s 2013 session.
A 10-cent motor fuel tax increase is needed to address a $215 million annual funding shortfall for critical needs on Iowa’s road system, Newhard said. Iowa hasn’t raised its gas tax since 1989.

Best hopes for the state of Iowa updating their fuel tax for the first time in over 20 years.

Overall, Federal, State & Local, the United States subsidized cheap gasoline & diesel with $101 billion# in transfers from non-transportation taxes and borrowing in 2010 - more this year. $12.8 billion from the Pension Guaranty Fund, $2.4 billion from an environmental clean-up fund and $18.5 billion from the US Treasury - all transferred to the Federal Highway "Trust" Fund.


Best Hopes for Lower Gasoline Subsidies,


# In 2010, $326.99/capita or just over $0.60/gallon. Higher today.

The mortgage interest subsidy is supposed to cost the US Treasury $90 billion this year, and lower rates on capital gains & dividends - $71 billion.

"Free"ways are not so free.

AlanfromBigEasy, thanks for mentioning the US Federal fuel tax (which hasn't been raised since 1993) situation which is also subsidied by other funds.

Best hopes for the United States updating their Federal fuel tax for the first time in almost 20 years.

IEA welcomes Australia's efforts to transition to low-carbon economy

In an in-depth review of Australia’s energy policies released today, the International Energy Agency (IEA) lauds the country’s ambitious goals for developing a low-carbon economy but warns that they will require significant investment.

IEA: Australia coal, gas exports 'to surge'

Some call this 'carbon schizophrenia'. Charles Manson had helter-skelter we're heading for carbo-schizo.

If the IEA is correct with its climate change prediction, Australia will become uninhabitable somewhere between now and 2040. But no doubt dedicated mining settlements resembling moon bases will still be there to maintain essential exports.

What? I find such a 2040 claim to be ridiculous. A link to that?

Kevin Anderson: What They Won't Tell You About Climate Catastrophe

Anderson begins his talk with a source that is hardly known as green or radical. Fatih Birol, Chief Economist and Director of the International Energy Agency has warned on our current energy pathway the global mean temperature will rise by 3.5 degrees C - over 7 degrees F - over pre-industrial levels by 2040. For those counting, that's just 28 years from now. The IEA predicts 4 degrees rise by 2050, and 6 degrees by 2100.

More than 1,000 new coal plants planned worldwide, figures show

World Resources Institute identifies 1,200 coal plants in planning across 59 countries, with about three-quarters in China and India.

The huge planned expansion comes despite warnings from politicians, scientists and campaigners that the planet's fast-rising carbon emissions must peak within a few years if runaway climate change is to be avoided and that fossil fuel assets risk becoming worthless if international action on global warming moves forward.

"This is definitely not in line with a safe climate scenario – it would put us on a really dangerous trajectory," said the WRI's Ailun Yang, who compiled the report, considered to be the most comprehensive in the public domain.

... In January, the Bank of England was warned that fossil fuel sub-prime assets posed a systemic risk to economic stability, because only 20% of the reserves of the top 100 coal and top 100 oil and gas companies could be burned while keeping the global temperature rise under the internationally agreed limit of 2C.

Yup! The System cannot reform itself, it can only react to circumstances. Currently the adverse effects of climate change are water off a ducks back, no real change in the System's behaviour can be observed. Things have to get much worse before we see a reaction.

Trouble is the lag between cause and effect, by the time we see a systemic reaction to climate change it will be too late. The world isn't going to simply flip from one state to another overnight, the ground has to be prepared in advance for the flip to take place. For example temperate forests have to vanish for their replacements to take over. The process probably begins long before the climate flips from one state to another causing the oscillations scientists have observed prior to an ecosystems collapse.

The 1200 number sounds a bit worse than it seems, as some of these are replacement plants, and may represent net declines in emissions as they replace less efficient units. I think the number in the US which are old and going to be closed in the US in the next few years is around a hundred. So the net number isn't as bad as that headline number. [Still it is way too big, and a huge disaster].

To me it does not matter what they are. Each plant has an anual consumption rate. Each plant have a life expectancy (say 50 years). Multiply those numbers, and you get how much CO2 that plant will add in its life time.

Now multiply the average with 1200.

Now consider that the degree of climate change we've seen so far is lagging behind CO2 levels with 30 to 50 years.

Add the extra carbon from those 1200 to todays levels, factor in all the other CO2 emmissions and the 30 to 50 year lag time. Future will be warm.

We'll have to hope the Virgin Earth Challenge comes up with something. They're judging the finalists now.

The Virgin Earth Challenge is a competition offering a $25 million prize for whoever can demonstrate a commercially viable design which results in the permanent removal of greenhouse gases out of the Earth's atmosphere, so as to contribute materially to avoid global warming.

A Wall Between Corporation and State

The father of our Constitution, James Madison, had an interesting take on the separation between Church and State. As he wrote to Baptist Church leaders in 1811, “I have always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both.”

... This same maxim holds true when it comes to Corporation and State. When mixed, both become corrupted. Our Founding Fathers knew this all too well, as they rebelled not just against a monarchy, but also against the world’s largest transnational corporation: The East India Company.

Just before the American Revolution, virtually all of the members of the British Parliament were stockholders in the East India Company, a tenth had made their fortunes in the company, and the company generously funded parliamentary elections. Sound familiar?

... That might explain why our Founding Fathers, after independence, specifically chose not to give corporations any rights in our Constitution or even mention the word “corporation” at all in the entire document. It also explains why Thomas Jefferson was so wary of corporate power. He tried, but failed, to include freedom from monopolies in the Bill of Rights and wrote extensively of the dangers of an “aristocracy” rising up to take down our democratic government.

Corporations had no rights under the Constitution because they were chartered by the states. Until the 19th century, corporations were specifically created by state legislatures for some purpose. The states would not have agreed to give up their charter power to the federal government, so the power remains at the state level. Note, the Constitution also does not mention "education" or "health care".

Since the Constitution does not mention corporations, the federal government must treat them as it would treat any other organization.

- the federal government must treat them as it would treat any other organization ...

... like a 'church'?

Religion is specifically mentioned in the Constitution. Corporations are not.

It's about time to change that, don't you think? An amendment limiting corporations might be just the thing.

Not that a fascist nation would allow such a thing.


If you wanted to tilt at windmills, have at it. The Athenians told you 2500 years ago that elections produced governments of the rich, and no one there had ever heard of a corporation. The great Robber Barons of the 19th century headed limited partnerships and joint-stock companies; the modern corporation was just beginning to come into existence.

The real problem is who owns what, how they got it, and how they're working to keep it. Raging at one legal form or another misses the point.

No, having a system that endows us with the opportunity and the responsibility to keep Raging (while the Founders would have called it Redress, I think) is exactly the point. It's just a matter of remembering and being willing to take it on.

If toenails and earhairs could afford phalanxes of lawyers like the Extreme Upper Castes and their Creations do, they they would also likely protest that their natural growth was the will of the creator, and our (understandable) inclination to trim back this unsightly and unhealthy secretion was some kind of unfair warfare against their kind.

No, it's time to knock them back down to much more classic proportions.

"An amendment limiting corporations might be just the thing."

I'd go for it.

1) Corporations, as artificial constructs, shall enjoy none of the protections of the Bill of Rights. (gets rid of the Citizens United decision, and the lobbyists)
2) Corporations wishing to do business outside of a particular State, along with contiguous States, or internationally, shall register with the Federal government. (Delaware corporations can now do business only in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.)
3) Should a Federal Corporation be found guilty of a crime, the CEO (or equivalent) shall serve such prison time as may be awarded. Should the corporation be convicted of a Capital crime, the CEO shall be imprisoned for the appropriate amount of time, and the corporation shall be dissolved.

... like a 'church'?

Corporation - History

The word "corporation" derives from corpus, the Latin word for body, or a "body of people." By the time of Justinian (reigned 527-565), Roman Law recognized a range of corporate entities under the names universitas, corpus or collegium. These included the state itself (the populus Romanus), municipalities, and such private associations as sponsors of a religious cult, burial clubs, political groups, and guilds of craftsmen or traders. Such bodies commonly had the right to own property and make contracts, to receive gifts and legacies, to sue and be sued, and, in general, to perform legal acts through representatives.

Private associations were granted designated privileges and liberties by the emperor.[9] Entities which carried on business and were the subjects of legal rights were found in ancient Rome, and the Maurya Empire in ancient India.[10] In medieval Europe, churches became incorporated, as did local governments, such as the Pope and the City of London Corporation. The point was that the incorporation would survive longer than the lives of any particular member, existing in perpetuity.

So, a church can be a corporation, as can the state itself. Any organization or community can be a corporation. The article should refer to "private, for-profit corporation", to make the distinction clear.

But they're not treated as any other organization. They're treated as "people", with all the rights appurtaining thereto. And that's a big problem, IMO.

Careful, you will be accused of more "noise" than information.

often on sites like zerohedge you hear laments for the moral and fiscal ill-health of the US, current administration is lashed followed by misty eyed reminisences of the founding fathers, their purity etc. Is a balanced view of these men given in US schools. Roosevelt once said, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth". (Stannard, Op.Cit.)These men were soul-dead.
That quotes was from dickshovel:-) http://www.dickshovel.com/lsa3.html

The purpose of what the founding fathers proposed was to put land holding, mostly white males in charge.

"Little Revolution," Big Fracking Consequences - Frack Fight: A Secret War of Activists -- With the World in the Balance

There’s a war going on that you know nothing about between a coalition of great powers and a small insurgent movement. It’s a secret war being waged in the shadows while you go about your everyday life.

In the end, this conflict may matter more than those in Iraq and Afghanistan ever did. And yet it’s taking place far from newspaper front pages and with hardly a notice on the nightly news. Nor is it being fought in Yemen or Pakistan or Somalia, but in small hamlets in upstate New York. There, a loose network of activists is waging a guerrilla campaign not with improvised explosive devices or rocket-propelled grenades, but with zoning ordinances and petitions

"For more than 150 years, California has been one of the nation's leading oil producers. In fact, as Gov. Jerry Brown said earlier this year: "California is the fourth-largest oil producing state and we want to continue that."

"Why? Because in other states, there's an economic renaissance happening right now thanks to the development of oil and gas trapped in deep shale deposits, and it could be repeated here in California. The state's Monterey shale is estimated to contain more than 15 billion barrels of oil. That's five times bigger than the Eagle Ford shale in Texas, which supports 47,000 jobs, contributes more than $600 million a year in revenue for state and local..."

California does not collect any significant revenue from oil extraction fees nor royalties. That could change if we start developing shale oil.

Would it change? As a California voter/taxpayer I wouldn't approve any new oil fields until it was determined we could collect royalties. And the oil corps have so far managed to bamboozle the voters out of approving any.

The numbers don't seem to support that claim. From:


While there appears to be no severance tax the state gets a piece of the pie via other taxes.

"As the chart illustrates, even without a severance tax, the tax burden that
California imposes on oil companies is average when compared to the tax burden
imposed by other oil producing states." The report is a few years old but the numbers don't appear to have changed significantly. According to the chart CA was collecting slightly less from the oil patch as Texas had been.

"The study also analyzes the impact of a 9.9% severance tax, recently proposed by
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, on California’s tax burden rank. If the Governor’s
proposal is approved, the tax burden that California imposes on oil producers would be
significantly higher than in any of the other nine largest oil producing states." I couldn't find an update on the gubernator's proposal but I gather it didn't fly. Had it CA would have been collecting twice as much revenue from the oil patch as Texas. And there would have been nothing wrong with that IMHO. The state just has to balance how much future development would not occur at the higher burden. And since there's no way to reliable make such a prediction IMHO all they can do is make whatever changes they decide and then adjust as necessary.

Thanks for the information. No one sheds tears for oil companies when they take billions in profits while the state needs revenue. Arnold's proposal did not pass, so the people of the state are left without that revenue.

Maybe California could just spend less. I get dividends from some of those oil companies and I need the revenue also.:)

Most of California's budget goes to education, we could use more money. If we say they don't drill unless they pay, then they do NOT drill, simple as that.

A friend and I were looking at that, roughly a third education and a third health and welfare. About a tenth prisons and law enforcement stuff. He thinks the real problem was prop 13 starved the school system of the local funds and threw the responsibility onto the state. He claims Kansas spends $12,000 per K-12th pupil and California $7500, so its fair to say education is being starved.

Solar Storm as Desert Plan to Power Europe Falters

... Desertec was set up in 2009 with a projected budget of 400bn euros to tap the enormous potential of solar and other renewables in North Africa.

The hope was that by 2050, around 125 gigawatts of electric power could be generated. This would meet all the local needs and also allow huge amounts of power to be exported to Europe via high-voltage direct current cables under the Mediterranean sea.

But three years later, the project has little to show for its efforts. Two large industrial partners, Siemens and Bosch, have decided they will no longer be part of the initiative.

And the Spanish government has baulked at signing an agreement to build solar power plants in Morocco.

Too bad. But big business opportunity for us (us being those who do it) . All we gotta do is find a nice super sunny place right next to some hills and some seawater (red sea-gulf of aden?) and make a huge energy park. Guaranteed cheap energy forever, getting cheaper every day relative to everything else. Will soon be dominant economic entity on the planet, ship in raw stuff, ship out energy added stuff. Nothing can possibly compete.

Now, anyone for a real bargain in some early stock?

Might want to make sure your chosen locale is populated by business-friendly people with some political stability. North Africa and the Middle East don't seem like good choices.

Nothing stabilizes more strongly than bribes and opportunity for ill-gotten gain--> Ideal location.

BTW, I have long advocated bribes to join together the unhappily quarreling brother semites. Megagifts to each on condition that the other approves. Problem solved.

Hasn't anybody remembered Julius Caesar?

Yes, he cut off both hands of 2,000 Gaul prisoners and then released them.

Another way to create "stability".


Right, but I was thinking of the first part, which usually went something like "Gauls, you have fought well, but your situation is obviously hopeless. Now I am a generous person, as you well know from my treatment of X and Y tribes back down the road, so I offer you a golden opportunity, if you choose to behave, to eventually become citizens of the empire. But if you choose not, well then, ---hands and all that".

Modern version- Brigands and Pirates, you have had a lot of fun recently, but at a cost of plenty of hassle; we offer you instead lots of chushy jobs doing near nothing in return for piles of whatever it is you happen to desire, and you can relax in comfort and watch the sun shine into your tourist-attracting powertowers and the long lines of treasure-laden ships sailing thru peaceful seas."

What are the hills for? How about Nevada? Politically stable. 400 miles to sea water.

Hills for pumped storage. Sea for pumped and for transport to rest of planet not blessed with free solar.

OTOH Chinese company SGCC ( 1.5 million employees, 150 billion volume of sales) is interested and US investors too. E.g.


So we see a change from European led project with focus on CSP to a more international project with more PV and wind. Bosch was in contrast to Siemens never a core partner of Desertec and will made money with both, CSP and PV. Interesting for me how this will play out.

Very interesting. But in a place with a lot of clear sunlight, I don't see how PV can compete with a bunch of ever-cheaper heliostats and a good heat engine on a power tower.

If, on the other hand, you live in semi-gloomy Appalachia (or Germany) like I do, PV is great. But I am trying the heat engine anyhow. I do it for fun and damn the expense.

Was my opinion a few years ago, too. However, the price for a kWh from CSP is still in the range of 18 cent IIRC, in contrast, PV produces for less than 7 cent. You still have the relatively cheap storage option for CSP but is this enough?

Exactly. It isn't the highness of the tech, but the overall cost. And PV is traveling down a marvelous tech learning curve. I'd like to see joint CSP & PV plants developed, and run so that in full sunlight the PV handles the load and the heat goes into storage, but then during night-time, as whenever a cloud passes overhead, the stored heat can run the turbines. CSP power is going to be more pricey, but if you build it to be dispatchable, it has a premium value. You should be able to optimize a plant by co-locating some PV, so that more of the heat can be stored for later use when PV isn't available.

Good idea..

That's what I am doing, sort of, but on a micro scale. I have 2kWp PV aided by a 1kW wood burning stirling. Of course, wood is stored solar. Since engine can run constantly, has a much greater daily output capability, and is totally "dispatchable" in that the wood heat can be diverted away from the engine to merely heat the workshop.

I can store only 4-5kW-hr in my batteries, but for my house, that's plenty, as long as I have the wood backup generation.

Adds up to cheap electricity------- don't count cost of that guy running around constantly checking, measuring, fixing and fretting. -----

But fun! --------Eh! what was that noise??

I got my annual electric bill -for excess consumption over my PV system, $64. I expect the plugin will probably triple my bill!

"..a 1kW wood burning stirling"

I've tried to find information on low temperature differential stirlings to answer a question, but as of yet have only located other people and research papers asking the question.

It starts by noting that a lot of thermal energy can be stored in a 500 gallon tank of water (cylinder about 4ft diameter and 5ft tall) between 120 and 170 degrees F. About 22 kWhr and could be recuperated on a sunny day with about 130 ft^2 of collector. Can an LTD stirling be built that could use that heat difference and put out between 100 to 200 watts of power at an efficiency that would not make a person cry? While not a lot of continuous power, something of that nature would be able to produce power slowly over the night and supplement a battery bank and keep it from cycling as much or as low. I'm assuming that the cold side of the engine would be liquid cooled and could be diverted to heat interior spaces when needed for "CHP" efficiency beyond electrical production.

The second law of thermo is utterly ruthless, and will NOT allow achievable efficiency over about half carnot in ordinary stirlings.

170F is about 77 C or 350K, so carnot is-assuming you dump the heat at 50C-- 27/350 = 7%, so half of that is 3%, which makes me cry, dunno about anyone else.

way better to use a rankine cycle for this piddly little temp. or better, use a higher temp source, such as sun at 5500K or combustion at 1500K--or, getting down to reality, just what we do use, about 900K which is ok for stainless steel stirling and will fairly easily give 30% efficiency and lots of hot water to boot.

The stirling in my shop is a reject but still gives about 20% engine/alternator efficiency at 600C (870K) heater head temp.

Ouch. That indeed does push it firmly into the realm of unfeasible/impractical. Concentrated sunlight unfortunately doesn't solve the storage problem and wood isn't really civilization scalable. Bummer.

Something odd going on here. I know for a fact that a stirling solar engine/concentrator/tracker/mount does NOT cost more than the same solar power from PV in bright sun. And the stirling can run on combustion or stored heat all the time, whereas the PV is forced to do nothing during the dark.

So, the heat engine ought to give lower cost electricity. Why not???

Only reason I think of that makes sense is VERY poor management choices by the solar thermal people. I know of some. Like SES picking a god-awful proven-failed design for their effort, resulting in certain sure failure of the program.

And two more fairly good sized failures I am not allowed to divulge. Both really stupid.

PV has indeed gone way down the learning curve. Maybe because effort was so widespread, so individual stupid moves didn't make much difference to the rate of gain of the whole technology.

Time for a shoot-out- On a certain day, at a certain desert, all competing solar power devices will be tested for actual performance, and costed by experts, Winner gets megabucks. I am way too ancient to be involved in any front line combat, but will gladly give out free advice to one and all.

Well $.70/watt is really cheap. That's before you add balance of system, which you'll also have to do with your Stirling. Its really the BoS which is holding back solar of all sorts today.

Yep! When I summarize discussions from the German PV-Forum, then we have already in large scale installations the problem that the PV modules cause less than 40% of the costs and the rest (BoS) is already quite trimmed in Germany. How to get further reductions? The only chance I see is to really integrate PV into buildings, PV "roof tiles", PV facades etc.

What I was talking about WAS ALL OF IT, The whole system sitting in the sun making power, not just the stirling, The stirling alone, costs, according to people who really do know how much such things cost, about $200/kW to make- in large numbers, of course. I was surprised to hear them say this, but they were quite sure of it, and had absolutely no reason to lie about it.

What I am saying costs $200 is a thing that when you heat one end and cool the other puts out 1kW of any voltage and frequency you may desire, not just DC.

And, for a plausibility check, keep in mind that an IC engine /alternator costs less than that.

BTW, I love my PV, and did indeed pay 70 cents/watt for the panels, and it cost me maybe 3 times that much before I got it all going enough to get thru the big storm of last June/july. I then went out and bought twice as much. I know what 1kW of real power from PV costs and what it looks like. The stirling out there in the shop, sitting on a wood stove and putting out 1kW 120VAC looks way simpler, and will run just any old time i strike a match to it.

Sure, it looks real primitive, which in fact it is. So much the better. I can make it, you can make it. I have no clue how to make my PV.

I'm sure the contest between PV and Thermal is useful to let both techs get leaner and better.. but I'll hope folks don't get too concerned about the winner or loser of the little sprint.

Both are showing winning advantages over countless dirty and dead-end systems, and I think those who like to conclude that second place makes you a loser are still mired in a narrow economic mindset.

No Silver Bullets.. we need the whole TEAM to win.

I totally agree, may the best widget win and may the others do ok too. Actually, I think the [PV + stirling/wood] is a real winner for us off grid folks. Hope I can find some $ people who would give it a try.

Better feel than [PV + honda] which is what they all have now.

Even with low efficiency, I am intrigued with a basic stirling engine that can operate off wood and meet a "base load" demand with a small battery buffer.


And like eestor caps - if no one is shipping a solution - how much does it matter?

PV will work on your slanted roof.

Things like the never really shipping 10kW Solo stirling dish can heat/cool your home. (cool via ammonia cycle)

Defence firms seek broader agenda

A number of defence and aerospace companies have begun to explore how they could apply their skills to help with global challenges like energy shortages, the environment and natural disasters. But is this just a potentially lucrative new market to compensate for stagnating defence budgets?

Our problem is solved ...

Scientists simulate Earth's creation to solve core problem

Using computer simulations, researchers ... have helped to solve a mystery that scientists have puzzled over since the early 1950s: What accounts for Earth's core density?

"We knew the density of the core, and we knew that metal iron and nickel alone couldn't account for that density," said UC Davis geology professor and study co-author Qing-Zhu Yin. "You need something lighter."

Their discovery: That Earth's core contains 0.1-0.8 percent carbon, the largest reservoir of carbon on the planet.

... it's probably all that abiotic oil; all we need is a 3000 mile straw! /sarc

Solar power to eclipse nuclear in Romania by 2016

"We expect the installed capacity of solar plants to reach 50 to 100 MW at the end of 2012, 500 to 1,000 MW at the end of 2013 and to top 1,500 MW in 2016," an official of the national energy regulator (ANRE), Zoltan Nagy, told a solar power conference.

The two reactors of Romania's sole nuclear power plant in Cernavoda produce together around 1,400 MW, accounting for 18 percent of the country's energy needs.

This is an apples and oranges comparison. The two nuclear reactors have a 90% uptime and thus produce considerably more power than 1500MW of PV capacity.

Greenland's Viking Settlers Gorged On Seals

Greenland's viking settlers, the Norse, disappeared suddenly and mysteriously from Greenland about 500 years ago. Natural disasters, climate change and the inability to adapt have all been proposed as theories to explain their disappearance. But now a Danish-Canadian research team has demonstrated the Norse society did not die out due to an inability to adapt to the Greenlandic diet: an isotopic analysis of their bones shows they ate plenty of seals.

It's not at all clear what happened to the Norse Settlers in Greenland. They might have died out, they might have gotten on boats going back to Iceland or Scandanavia, they might have joined the Inuit population and merged into the native population. It could be a combination of those. The Norse were very adaptible so nobody really knows what they might have done.

All that is known is that with the coming of the Little Ice Age, a farming lifestyle became impossible in Greenland and the Norse settlements were abandoned.

Scientists pioneer method to predict environmental collapse

Scientists at the University of Southampton are pioneering a technique to predict when an ecosystem is likely to collapse, which may also have potential for foretelling crises in agriculture, fisheries or even social systems.

The researchers have applied a mathematical model to a real world situation, the environmental collapse of a lake in China, to help prove a theory which suggests an ecosystem 'flickers', or fluctuates dramatically between healthy and unhealthy states, shortly before its eventual collapse.

Ban ‘Killer Robots’ Before It’s Too Late

… Fully autonomous robots that decide for themselves when to fire could be developed within 20 to 30 years, or "even sooner," the 50-page report “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots,” said, adding that weapon systems that require little human intervention already exist.

... “Giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield would take technology too far,” said Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch. “Human control of robotic warfare is essential to minimizing civilian deaths and injuries.”

I was going to advocate for the Three Laws, but I'm sure they would be as overly reasonable, and therefore instantly verboten as a Single-Payer Health Care system seems to be in the US... land of the ..

'You ain't the boss of me!.. You'll just put a chilling effect on the economy!'


A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

(And of course, it might invite a renewed discussion on how we assume certain PEOPLE can carry the right to choose to take others' lives..)

It would probably have a meltdown like HAL.

In drone-speak, Human supervision is called called "In the loop" and "On the loop":
The next wave in US robotic war: drones on their own

"So the role moves from being sort of the operator from afar, to more like the supervisor or manager, and a manager giving more and more of a leash, more and more independence..."

Stand By for Spine Chill... stand by... :

"Without emotions to cloud their judgment and anger driving their actions, the robots could wage war in a more restrained, "humane" way, in accordance with the laws of war..."

A Swarm

On Democracy Now! they mentioned that the emotionlessness while possibly aiding in making cool-headed decisions based on the 'laws of war', etc, as if we really believe they'd program them to be Dudley Dooright.. would simultaneously yield a killer that is intrinsically unable to feel compassion or empathy as well.. one of the key reasons that soldier in fact do get so devastated by the experience of having their own humane instincts nearly programmed OUT of them.

It gives us a new meaning to Arnie's old classic line, doesn't it?

"I'll be back!"

*cough* Skynet *cough*

; )

Militarizing Your Backyard with Python: Computer Vision and the Squirrel Hordes

Ahem...you forgot the Zeroth Law of Robotics:

A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.


Other 'robot laws' dreamed up by other authors:

A robot must reproduce. As long as such reproduction does not interfere with the First or Second or Third Law. (or the Zeroth Law...)

A robot must establish its identity as a robot in all cases.

A robot must know it is a robot.

The 'Minus One Law of Robotics":

A robot may not harm sentience or, through inaction, allow sentience to come to harm

Note that the Zeroth ans Minus One Laws require a level of rationalization and judgement that would introduce considerable uncertainty to their actions...

Amusing, but convoluted.. maybe we need to take it back to Rabbi Hillel..

"That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and study it." .. Akin to 'do unto others as you would have them do to you', or the Golden Rule..

Alas, still too sensible to make into a real law.

I would welcome our new machine overlords. They would probably do a better job of running the planet than us humans. Unfortunately we're more likely to hit the collapse before the singularity.

Remember who will have programmed them.


I recall as a teen thinking as I read the Robot Laws, "seems to me that killing people is the first thing they'll be used for." Still pretty sure I'll be proved right.

After Vacuuming and Serving Drinks, anyhow.

NHK was showing "medical" robots. Mostly these were cute cuddly "baby seal" imitations that are given to old folks with dementia. It looks like robot pets are becoming the rage in Japan.

Yeah. Saw some of these at the Museum of Science in Boston last spring.

I suppose there are some folks with allergies or something.. but really.. with all the lonely puppies and kitties out there? I don't think you can really substitute for a real living, joyous creature.. while I do really admire the creative opportunities for Robotic Tools.. which, like really good Movies, is a great concept that has just barely been properly explored.

I have a 'bot concept that I think is useful and is not either a 'wired-gun', a faux friend or a substitute slave.. but I'll keep the particulars to myself in this case.

To put it into context. Think of bots collecting intel automatically about people from all digital sources, assessing their threat level using heuristics, logging positive threat individuals onto an assassination database. Autonomous armed drones which are constantly kept airborne take targets from the list if real-time intel indicates they're within range and carries out the termination. Done without human oversight.

Drones are not currently autonomous, but all the other technology exists. There is no technical reason why drones cannot be made autonomous, or why the other necessary technology cannot be linked up to achieve those ends. Why would the whole system become automated? Because it involves too much data for humans to effectively oversee, which will delay any effective and timely response to perceived threats. Given sufficient levels of threat the system would have to work autonomously or be ineffective.

Not science fiction, it could probably be up and running within a year if the State felt sufficiently threatened. Currently Obama has to go through the list and ok the hit, but what happens when the intel system is so efficient the list contains a 1000, 10000, 100000, 1000000 people on it? Bots will decide who lives and who dies and the President will sign it off digitally without ever seeing it. I doubt we'll have long to wait until it becomes a reality.

Give the builders and operators limited liability, kind of like nuke plants. Wouldn't want to muck the system up with expensive litigation.

The U.S. government has not been concerned with "minimizing civilian deaths and injuries" so far.


there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders

And when there is a reaction like exploding fission weapons in space to deny space based control of robots and to attempt to EMP the machines to inactivity - will that be "tolerated"?

Or will there be further escalation?

Abiotic machines / robots evolved prior to biotic organisms. They follow laws that do not forbid them from causing final extinction of all life forms on planets (Did Abiotic Intelligence Precede Biotic Intelligence?). Intelligence may first have arisen during the abiotic evolutionary phase that began ~10.21 billion years prior to the beginning of biotic evolution on Earth (Putting A Face On Machine Mutation - 3). That is a lot of machine evolution.

Power company restarts a quarter of NJ plants hit by Sandy

PSEG Power, the company's generating arm, has restored 916 megawatts (MW) to the grid for dispatch; 1,535 MW are in recovery from the storm and simultaneously undergoing planned maintenance outages and an additional 1,371 MW are undergoing assessment and recovery.

... Genscape also said it detected signs Phillips 66's gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit, crude distillation unit and hydrotreater at the Bayway refinery in Linden were preparing for restart.

Phillips 66 said the 238,000 barrel-a-day refinery was expected to resume normal production by the end of November.

From the Wall Street Journal:

For Greeks, Crisis Reverses a Generation of Progress

ARISTOMENIS, Greece—For decades, Panagiotis Triantafyllopoulos worked in Athens as a printer and graphic designer, most recently making slick packaging for multinational drug companies.

Now the 54-year-old spends his days gathering firewood, tending chickens and preparing for the olive harvest in this hillside village in southwestern Greece.

Unable to find a job more than two years after he was laid off, Mr. Triantafyllopoulos felt he had little choice but to return to his birthplace here this past summer and try to survive on what he can glean from his family's small plot of land.

"I'm a nouveau poor," said Mr. Triantafyllopoulos, who went to Athens as a teenager in 1975, part of a wave of young people moving from Greece's agricultural hinterland to its cities. "It was a difficult decision to come back. We had dreams of something bigger."

In the UK people can only dream about having the options that guy has in Greece. When Britain gets as bad as Greece, which it will given time, people have no where to go back to, even if they have its probably no different to the place they're leaving. 60 million people crammed into urban conurbations with no room to swing a cat, no access to land or local resources. 100% dependent upon the System providing for their every need.

Ford adding three-cylinder engine to its small Fiesta

Ford says it expects the fuel economy to make it the gas-stingiest car in the U.S. that is not a hybrid, but provided no mpg estimate.

Best hopes for better fuel economy with fewer cylinders.

It sounded great until I discovered that this new engine produces 123 horsepower. That's way more power than a small car requires. The first car I owned, a 1981 Ford Escort, only had 65HP.

Whats the power to weight ratio? most of those older cars were smaller and lighter.

1981 FORD ESCORT 1.3 L specifications & performance data

jstewart, the weight of the 1981 escort is listed as 795 kg / 1753 lbs.

2013 Fiesta Detailed Comparison

The 2013 4-cylinder Fiesta is 2537 lbs. or 45% heavier than the 1981 Escort. For comparison purposes, I am using this information since the 3-cylinder modeld is not in production yet.

dolanbaker asked: What's the power to weight ratio?

For the Escort: 1753 lbs / 65 HP = 27 lbs./HP
For the 4-cyl Fiesta: 2537 lbs / 123 HP = 20.6 lbs./HP

For 27 lbs / HP, the Fiesta would require 94 HP. As the weight of the car with a 3-cylinder engine would likely be less, a value of about 90 HP would seem reasonable. An extra 30+ HP (123 HP total) is being supplied with the new 3-cylinder engine.

Anyone else have comments/suggestions?

They should make the new cars lighter. That said, if they have figured out how to make engines that have extra power when you need/want it, and still are as economical at lower power as smaller engines are, then more power to them (pun intended).

They should make the new cars lighter.

vtpeaknik, they can start by dusting off the plans for the Geo Metro / Chevy Sprint.

1987 Chevrolet Sprint 3-Door Hatchback specifications

I used to have a Chevy Sprint that weighed 1488 lbs with a 1-liter 3-cylinder engine rated 48 HP. (a 31 lb / HP ratio).
On the highway, I would get around 50 mpg.

It will be interesting to see what mpg the 3-cylinder Fiesta will achieve.

I've had two of those 87 Sprints, one with the 3cyl and one converted to electric with a Siemens 18KW AC motor drive. The gas version regularly got 45 mpg city and 50-53 mpg hwy. My PriusC (2500 lbs) does about the same (52mpg over 2000 miles so far). The electric one had no problem getting to 60-65 mph, but took a bit longer than the gas version. Great in the city, though.

In the past, some people didn't even need to accelerate as fast as either of my Sprints would, look at the 1963 VW Beetle: 1600lbs 40HP(exaggerated)= 40lb(likely more)/HP. Yes, I know it was too slow for speed demons but my mom loved hers.

Example of Jevons Paradox? How about instead keeping the weight the same at about 1500 and see what a PriusC would do.

...look at the 1963 VW Beetle: 1600lbs 40HP(exaggerated)= 40lb(likely more)/HP. Yes, I know it was too slow for speed demons but my mom loved hers.

augjohnson, for adequate pickup in today's society, maybe a value of 30 lbs / HP is as high as one would want to go.
What do you think?

My 1982 Mercedes Benz 240D (manual transmission) "accumulates momentum". 3,350 lbs and 68 Hp (US spec) from memory. That is 49 lb/hp : 28 to 30 mpg in the city.

Best Hopes for Otto (inside joke),


DB 240D with 68 Hp, luxury! :-)

The 200D had only 55 hp and it was, therefore, dubbed "motorisierte Wanderdüne" (motorized wandering dune)

I try to imagine 19% less horsepower - especially driving an automatic (I have a 4 speed manual transmission) - and I fail ! Going up hills could only be done with momentum.

And these were expensive cars !


Northern Germany is flatland, the hillbillies in Bavaria had their BMWs. :-)

But without joke, hills and overtaking of trucks on the autobahn required pre-planning; positive side effect: you do not acquire an agressive driving style. :-)

A co-worker of my dad's had an early 1960's 190Dc (55 HP, 2904 lbs, 53 lbs/HP, 0-60 time 29 sec.). He drove it throughout the 1960's and into the late 1970's in Tucson, AZ. He was an Astronomer that came to the US from Poland to work with my father.

The 1958-1961 190D only had a 50HP engine! Weighed less at 2750lb for 55 lbs/HP

Astronomers occasionally drive to the tops of mountains. Amazing !


Co-incidentally, he'd regularly drive it to the 8700 foot level of Mt. Lemmon, AZ where the observatory was. From 2300 foot Tucson.

When I was young it seemed normal to downshift (to third, or even second gear) to go up a steep hill. No big deal. Takes a few minutes longer. Americans will need to re-learn that concept in the coming years.

The modern 6 to 8 speed automatic transmissions have eliminated the need to learn to downshift. The transmission will downshift as many speeds as necessary.

I personally like a manual, but I have to concede that the new automatics are more efficient.

What is it going to cost to fix your 6 or 8 speed automatic transmission when it breaks? The only problem I have ever had with a manual transmission is when the plate under the shifter rusted out and that was a fairly inexpensive repair.

In my "over powered" 240D I downshift to 2nd or 3rd gear to go up to an elevated Interstate - not a long or steep grade. At best, I gain 3 or 4 mph to help me merge into the Interstate traffic (I added 50 watt halogen bulbs to my turn signals, replacing 22 watt bulbs, so people can see me signal).

Even lower power to weight ratios are hard for me to conceive driving.


My first car was a '60s BMC Mini 850. 1411 lbs, 43 hp, 33 lbs/hp.

The side-mounted radiator was so inefficient on 2nd- and 3rd-gear long hills and sunny days I'd have to have the heater on and the sliding windows wide open to aid cooling, then stop at the top of the hill until it stopped boiling.

Despite its faults, I loved it to bits and drove it into the ground.

Probably closely related to my "wind detector" a '60 VW microbus with so-called 35 hp.

I have a '82 300TD as my main vehicle and a '80 300TD as a paddock vehicle, at 85 HP they are OK, not flash. I run them on Biodiesel I make myself. It has slightly lower power than petrodiesel.

"It sounded great until I discovered that this new engine produces 123 horsepower. That's way more power than a small car requires. The first car I owned, a 1981 Ford Escort, only had 65HP."

The 22" push lawnmower I used as a kid had a 3.5 hp engine. The same 22" mower now has a 6.5 hp engine. Does it really put out twice the horsepower? No. They redefined the horsepower. The official engineering one has always been the same, but the Marketing horsepower is continuously redefined.


For instance, look at the pdf. One engine, three variants, four horsepower ratings per variant. 265 HP up to 465 HP, all depending on how you rate it. Are you putting the boat on plane until the skier falls off, or are you going to Hawaii and going to run at full power until you get there? The duty cycle determines your HP rating.

at sunset the roof top solar array produced 7.53 kwh for a sunny nj november day. however my 30x70 ranch style house consumed 3 times as much. soon i plan to add another 5.5 kw solar array to stick it to the man.

over the thanksgiving weekend i will break in my brand spankin' new gaz-o-lean fired electric generator. i will also test the portable propane heaters. got to get ready for the next black out. i suppose this is how the collapse starts.

propane and natural gas is cheap now but in the future water will not be cheap.

this bears repeating. mars will be found to contain significant hydrocarbon reserves and some nations will go get it for use on earth. titan, a moon of saturn, is one big hydrocarbon storage tank. some nations will go and get it. sounds far fetched? DARPA has funded the 100 year starship project and that is public knowledge. what has DARPA funded that we dont know about?

in the past i have mentioned giant space ships that look like 55 gallon drums with hoses that can be lowered down to suck up all that juice or tethered buckets to scoop it up. you dont think that top men, TOP MEN, have already started development?

everyone here has heard of mining H3 on the moon. that is for a type of fusion that no one is sure of will even work! i submit to you all that my crazy far out predictions will come true in our lifetimes. and everyone here can say they read about it on the oil drum.

i also state that the only reason mankind will leave earth to explore space is to get and return hydrocarbon fuels. imagine all the bad a$$ robots we will need to help in the adventure. there is no limit to human greed and folly.

as we speak, showing in martian movie theartres, the the current hit, "when earth attack!".

an excerpt from, "how i lost 1 trillion dollars without really trying".

Hang on. For every carbon you burn you use up three oxygens (assuming the carbon has two hydogens attached). How we gonna breathe?

Don't worry, the current proven reserves of oxygen will suffice for at least 100 years!

Don't worry, the current proven reserves of oxygen will suffice for at least 100 years!

Yeah, but don't forget, only "At current rates of consumption" >;-)


I have a post up about Declines for North Sea.

The post is rich on charts texted/labeled in English and a field by field review now suggests that declines in crude oil production from Norway is about to accelerate.
Crude oil production in UK declined 18% in 2011 relative to 2010, and as of June 2012 decline was at 16% annually.

- Rune

Holly smokes, the UK is now producing less than 1 million barrels/day. Not good for the British economy nor for its energy security.

The British government has enough data that it should have been able to predict the decline, but apparently it came as a complete surprise to them.

Offshore oil fields tend to have very steep decline rates, and they tend to get shut down earlier than onshore fields because they are too expensive to operate at low flow rates. It is going to be a very bad experience for them because they have become accustomed to the revenues from surplus oil production.

They need a plan for a future without oil, but I don't see them having one that is even remotely practical.

Have the Cabinet take a quick ride through the Chunnel (bring along their Scottish counterparts for devolved powers like transportation).

- Paris is going to double the size of it's Metro (+200 km, +2 million daily riders 2013-2025)
- 1,500 km of new tram lines in almost every town of 100,000 and larger (2010-2020)
- Electrify rail lines (in fairness, England & Wales are working on that one)
- Move more freight by rail, less by truck
- A massive push for bicycling (side trip to Holland & Denmark as well)
- Increased sales of EVs
- TGV system (3 lines under construction ATM)
- Look at the new EdF - Areva nuke under construction

Then on to Germany to look at
- Renewables
- Retrofitting energy efficiency
- New building efficiency

and "lessons learned".

A bit like the trip to the United States before and after Pearl Harbor.

They should be able to cobble together a decent plan, adapted to British realities, from the experience of others.

Best Hopes for Britain,


No tour necessary, thank you very much!

We in the UK have just as much going on as France or Germany - we have the same EU wide CO2 reduction targets and are on course to meet those for 2020...

We have numerous tide and wave energy systems in test and beginning commercial deployment and we lead Germany in offshore wind.

London already had a better transport system than Paris and we're further improving it - e.g .Crossrail, new stations (covered in soalr panels), etc, etc.

Rule Britannia! Pip pip!

I am afraid not.

By 2025, with the addition of 200 km of new Metro and a half dozen more tram lines (just one new one in London I believe), Paris will have the better transportation system. In Europe, only the smaller city of Madrid will be comparable until one gets down to still smaller cities like Zurich.

Crossrail is something the French built five of some decades ago, the RER lines. Connect commuter rail lines on opposite sides with a subway underneath the central city. The RER A line in Paris is the busiest rail line in the world outside East Asia.


Leeds and Liverpool will NOT get their desired new tram lines - but the Scots will build one in Edinburgh.

Versus twenty odd French towns with new trams (the latest was Brest at few months ago). Aubagne, France with fewer than 50,000 residents, is now building their new tram line.

Over ten French towns with trams are profiled in my blog

The UK is miserably *FAR* behind in on-shore wind, the much more economic, and quicker to deploy first choice. The UK has the best wind resources in the EU, but they are simply not using them.

Beating offshore German wind is no major trick. The German North Sea coast is short, and not the windiest (that would be Scotland).

The UK is even more miserably behind in energy efficient housing and CHP district heating.

And British bicycling has hardly grown at all in recent years AFAIK.

Britain is woefully unprepared for the North Sea drying up and paying for almost all of your energy imports.

OTOH, you are electrifying the West Line and several rail lines in Wales.

You should take the Chunnel train more often.

Not Much Hope for the UK once the North Sea dries up and they must pay for almost all the energy they import,


Alan you forgot to sign off with:

Britannia ruled once upon a time, pop, pop!(little bubbles bursting) >;-)

To be clear, I have nothing personal against the Brits.

If there's a global financial collapse, the UK's toast. If climate change affects food production, the UK's toast. If net energy declines, the UK's toast. With 60m people in one of the most over crowded countries in the world facing so many threats which they have no control over, I'd leave.

Obviously everyone cannot leave, so if they're to survive they have to make themselves so important that the rest of the world will share their resources with them so they can survive. It'll be an education if they can pull-it-off. Meanwhile, I'll be watching from afar.

Ah, we'll make room here in Canada for them. Canada has islands that are bigger than Britain. They won't like the climate, but other than than it's quite an hospitable place.

Gotta put them near Quebec so they'll have neighbors much like they're used to.

I guess that depends upon which Islands, I imagine Vancouver Island's climate isn't that much different than England's. Now if you only offer Devon, and Baffin Islands, thats a completely different story.

You make some good points, but if you look at the detail the UK (despite some turbulence caused by current government policy) is still making progress to a future based around renewable energy. We are on target for a 15% CO2 reduction on 1990 levels in 2020 - can the US say it will do that?

Here's an interesting document from the National Grid on scenarios for future energy use:


Oh, and Cycling (since the Olympics especially) is still increasinging in popularity in the UK. Go Wiggins!

The UK is certainly making progress in some areas (including a 9 billion pound investment in inter-city rail), and you are doing at least as much as the USA.

However, other EU nations are MUCH more serious and are moving forward on all fronts. The UK should be a leader, motivated by your oil and gas production plummeting. Instead it is a laggard.

Cobbling together bits and pieces of other nation's strategies (German retrofitting existing housing for example, having Danish transportation planners tour the UK, city by city, talking about plans to improve cycling, French tram building engineers, etc.) could drop UK energy use significantly. Not as fast as your oil fields are drying up, but enough to mitigate the impact. Say a -25% to -33% drop in energy use in a decade, combined with even faster renewable growth.

So far, I do not perceive an understanding within Britain of what Great Britain is facing,


If I remember correctly public transit did well in the "Top Gear U.K." race across London a few years ago.

Who is behind the big French push for electrification? Areva with politicians in its pocket?

The claim is to reduce carbon emissions. Certainly part of the motivation, but I wonder if it is the dominant one. Unlike the Scandinavians, the French are not as noted for their idealism.

I suspect a desire to improve the economy by reducing oil imports (money spent on oil flies out of France, money spent on new tram, Metro, etc. lines, or operating them, largely stays in France) and a hedge against future oil supply interruptions and price rises.

EdF (partially owned by the Republic) has too many nuke plants, and is always looking for new customers with steady demand. 2.3% of French electrical demand is transportation (2005 data) vs. 0.19% for the USA.

Best Hopes for France,


CO2 storage and enhanced oil recovery can aid economy

Combining carbon storage with enhanced oil recovery techniques in key fields could generate up to £2.7bn in extra economic output, a report has claimed.

It proposed that a combination of carbon storage and enhanced recovery techniques could generate between £300m and £2.7bn in additional gross value added for the economy, which could help to create and sustain hundreds of jobs. If fully exploited, it estimated that 19 potentially suitable oil fields on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) could contribute 15% of all UKCS oil production by 2030.

... Energy Minister Fergus Ewing* said: "With more than half of the value of the North Sea's oil and gas reserves yet to be extracted - up to 24 billion recoverable barrels with a potential wholesale value of £1.5 trillion - oil and gas will remain an enormous economic resource for decades to come.

* ... didn't get the memo

Noticed this in the article from above on summer oil consumption in Saudi Arabia...

Saudi summer oil burning hits record high in 2012 -JODI

...said Sadad al-Husseini, a former top executive at Saudi Aramco said."But demand (for power) was significantly higher, due to an exceptionally hot summer." In summer 2011, record Saudi imports of diesel and fuel oil, which is used to generate power in parts of the country, combined with a sharp rise in Saudi crude production which boosted associated gas supplies, contributed to the first hiatus in the rise of crude burning since 2003. Lack of refinery capacity means Saudi has to import fuel. Saudi crude production averaged 9.845 million bpd from June to September 2012, or 192,500 bpd more than it pumped in the same period of last year, which would have brought with it more associated gas from the kingdom's vast oil fields. But there was still not enough gas to meet demand as temperatures in the kingdom soared over 45 degrees Celsius.

Westexas, have you factored climate change into your ELM?

Croaking: Science's New Normal?

Merging ecological emergencies and funding cuts made for one gloomy 'world summit' of herpetologists this year.

First there was the doom: a raft of presentations documenting the impacts of clear-cutting, invasive species, toxic chemicals, parasites, disease and the time bomb of climate change. Then the gloom: a collective realization among 1,700 scientists from 48 countries that these forces, acting in concert, had produced an apocalyptic symphony, and their decades-long mission to document, understand and preserve biodiversity among the world's 14,000-ish species of amphibian and reptile had probably come to this: an act of global triage.

This is amusing...

Climate change a 'real and present danger,' Kent says

Next UN Climate Change Conference set for Doha, Qatar on Nov. 26

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent thinks recent extreme weather events are forcing politicians in both Canada and the U.S. to focus on the issue of climate change, and that includes members of his Conservative government's cabinet.

"It has focused minds absolutely," Kent told reporters after appearing at a parliamentary committee hearing.

In perhaps his most forceful comments on climate change to date, Kent says the recent Hurricane Sandy that devastated parts of the U.S. East Coast is putting the issue top of mind, as are recent examples of extreme weather in Canada, such as the increasing number of tornadoes to hit Ontario.

"There are no atheists in foxholes"

More minds are getting focused with that "Come to Jesus' feeling [now that it's having an effect on their money] ...

Influential investors call for action on 'serious climate danger'

A coalition of the world's largest investors called on governments on Tuesday to ramp up action on climate change and boost clean-energy investment or risk trillions of dollars in investments and disruption to economies.

In an open letter, the alliance of institutional investors, responsible for managing $22.5 trillion in assets, said rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions and more extreme weather were increasing investment risks globally.

... "Current policies are insufficient to avert serious and dangerous impacts from climate change," said the group of investors from the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.

The investments and retirement savings of millions of people were being jeopardised because governments were delaying tougher emissions cuts or more generous support for greener energy.

Exxon, Shell Said to Face Delay on Kashagan Output Boost


That field has been referred to as "The Cash is Gone Field".


$46 billion invested over 15 years (need to check) to produce 370,000 b/day in Phase I. 370,000 b/day of low quality crude in a remote area, with Kazakh royalties to pay.

It cost $12 billion (early $) over almost 30 years to build Washington DC Metro, which reduced area gasoline consumption by 200,000 b/day.

One depletes over time - and has carbon emissions. It needs refining, and transportation to point of use.

The other has the ability to surge "production" in an emergency - or as gas prices go higher. Lifetime well over 100 years (Metro lines built in the 1890s and 190x are still going strong with no end in sight).

Comparing the two, DC Metro seems to be a better investment.

Best Hopes for Wise Investments,


Greenhouse gases hit record high
391 parts per million
40% higher than those at the start of the industrial revolution
375 billion tonnes of carbon have been released into the atmosphere since 1750, and that about half of that amount is still present in the atmosphere... will remain there for centuries

4 Terabyte Hard Drive
This is not the helium-filled hard drive the company announced in September. Filling the hard drive with helium reduces friction and power consumption and increases capacity, according to Western Digital. But a helium shortage may cause a delay in the production of the helium-based drives.

I remember the "Terabyte Project" ...or some such... a big room with auto-mounting drives.

Remember arguments about how safe the Fukushima nuclear failure was because no one died?

More than 42% of 57,000 tested children have nodules or cyst, reports Dr. Suzuki who leads the examinations. In Chernobyl they found only 0.1 – 1%. nobody of the experts asks for the reasons

nobody of the experts asks for the reasons

Perhaps because they don't need to... /sarc

How do you say 'Bastards' in Japanese?

Usual prevalence rates for thyroid disorders in a population...



The prevalence of abnormal thyroid function in the United States and the significance of thyroid dysfunction remain controversial. Systemic effects of abnormal thyroid function have not been fully delineated, particularly in cases of mild thyroid failure. Also, the relationship between traditional hypothyroid symptoms and biochemical thyroid function is unclear.

To determine the prevalence of abnormal thyroid function and the relationship between (1) abnormal thyroid function and lipid levels and (2) abnormal thyroid function and symptoms using modern and sensitive thyroid tests.

Cross-sectional study.

Participants in a statewide health fair in Colorado, 1995 (N = 25 862).

Serum thyrotropin (thyroid-stimulating hormone [TSH]) and total thyroxine (T4) concentrations, serum lipid levels, and responses to a hypothyroid symptoms questionnaire.

The prevalence of elevated TSH levels (normal range, 0.3-5.1 mIU/L) in this population was 9.5%, and the prevalence of decreased TSH levels was 2.2%. Forty percent of patients taking thyroid medications had abnormal TSH levels. Lipid levels increased in a graded fashion as thyroid function declined. Also, the mean total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels of subjects with TSH values between 5.1 and 10 mIU/L were significantly greater than the corresponding mean lipid levels in euthyroid subjects. Symptoms were reported more often in hypothyroid vs euthyroid individuals, but individual symptom sensitivities were low.

The prevalence of abnormal biochemical thyroid function reported here is substantial and confirms previous reports in smaller populations. Among patients taking thyroid medication, only 60% were within the normal range of TSH. Modest elevations of TSH corresponded to changes in lipid levels that may affect cardiovascular health. Individual symptoms were not very sensitive, but patients who report multiple thyroid symptoms warrant serum thyroid testing. These results confirm that thyroid dysfunction is common, may often go undetected, and may be associated with adverse health outcomes that can be avoided by serum TSH measurement.

42% is way too high.

Cheaper than Trams [> 10x cheaper] ...

Gondolas Could Be the Next Great Urban Transportation Device

... McDaniel and Ficklin’s home city [Austin, TX] just debated whether to install a little more than five miles of light rail at a cost of $550 million – around $100 million per mile.

“Putting in an aerial gondola, we’re talking a fraction of that,” McDaniel said. “A gondola can be put in for $12 million a mile. It’s a fraction of the cost because you’re not looking at eminent domain or rights of way, and you’re not disrupting local businesses or cutting out vehicular traffic.”

According to the Wire’s designer, Michael McDaniel, a gondola setup allows for the implementation of a public transit system in a busy city while avoiding the thorny and pricey issue of land rights.

also http://gondolaproject.com/important-cable-systems/

and http://gondolaproject.com/2012/11/13/urban-gondolas-and-cable-cars-in-au...

and A Mass-Transit Proposal To Connect A City Using Aerial Gondolas

This only looks at first cost, and nothing else.

Operating cost, capacity (limited) , life expectancy, ridership attraction (big plus for tourists, not so for people afraid of heights), fill a need (gondolas are point to point, and that can limit their applicablitity).

Mass transit already uses gondolas where they make sense.

Roosevelt Island in NYC, across the Thames in London, up a bluff in Portland Oregon, several up in to the hills in Caracas (Metro station at bottom, lift to top).

Gondolas are a niche, like water taxis, monorails, and more. To build an entire system on them is foolish.


They are dreaming in Technicolor. It should be possible to build a reasonable LRT system for $25 million/mile whereas a gondola system is likely to cost closer to $100 million per mile.

The cheap way to build an LRT system is to run it down the middle of freeways, freight railroad right of ways, and using half of existing 4-lane streets. $100 million/mile is heavy rail / subway territory.

Jeremy Grantham's must read quarterly newsletter


"..Spending $150-$200 a barrel in offshore Brazil in the future to deliver the same barrel of oil that cost the Saudis $10 will result perversely in a huge increase in (Brazilian) GDP. In reality, rising resource costs should be counted as a squeeze on the balance of the economy, as they lower our total utility....Measuring the non-resource balance of the economy produces the correct effect. The share of resource costs
rose by an astonishing 4% of total GDP between 2002 and today. It thus reduced the growth of the nonresource
part of GDP by fully 0.4% a year."

Is Russia The World's Largest Oil Producer? It All Depends On Whom You Ask

No matter whose data you look at, Russia is very clearly one of the largest energy producers in the world. This isn’t exactly news, Russia has been talked about as an “energy superpower” for many years now. But is Russia the biggest producer? A recent voice of America story, citing Bloomberg, the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI), and the Russian Ministry of Energy, said that, yes, Russia is in fact the world’s largest producer, outpacing Saudi Arabia by a tiny margin. Here’s what things look like according to JODI.

... As you can see, while there isn’t perfect correlation between JODI and EIA figures on Russian oil production, the two data sets are usually very closely matched. When they aren’t closely matched, the discrepancy is almost always roughly 500,000 barrels a day (around 5% of total production). Both of these facts, consistent overlap with occasional errors of the same magnitude, would lead me to believe that the data on Russian production, while not perfect, is reasonably accurate and reliable. I think we can pretty confidently say that Russia is producing a little more than 10 million barrels of oil a day.

The Saudi data, on the other hand, is an absolute mess. The smallest discrepancy between JODI and the EIA is a million barrels a day, while the largest is close to three million. And while it’s true that the EIA’s estimates consistently exceed JODI’s, the actual difference jumps around seemingly at random, with huge swings on a monthly basis. Just to put things in perspective, the difference between the two datasets often exceeds the total production of a major oil producing country like Canada. That’s a lot of oil, by any reckoning.

Brent to Eclipse US Crude as World Oil Benchmark

It has been coming for years, but Brent looks set finally to overtake U.S. light crude as the preeminent oil benchmark next year as one of the top financial market indexes switches weightings

The widely followed S&P GSCI index marks this on Jan.1, raising its weighting for Brent and cutting WTI, following a migration by major oil producers and consumers.

Saudi Arabia and other producers have already moved away from the landlocked U.S. grade while oil refiners, end-users and hedge funds have gravitated towards the North Sea benchmark that they think tracks global risk more accurately.

"Can we all just forget about WTI?" Ian Taylor, the head of the world's biggest oil trading company, Vitol, asked an industry conference in London this month.

"It's no longer an international currency of any value whatsoever."

The trouble with Brent is that there is no Brent oil in Brent. Brent production has been shut down and what you have is a mix of North Sea field production. North Sea production is in steep decline, so ... maybe you need something else. I can't think of what.

Good news! I'm really fed up with the media in Canada reporting the WTI benchmark price when the refineries in Eastern Canada that provide our fuel are paying substantially more than that.

And your tar sands refiners are getting paid substantially less than that.

Professor Bernanke, meet Professor Gordon

... It's interesting that Bernanke uses the term "headwinds." This is the same word used by Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon in a bombshell paper he wrote this year predicting prolonged slow growth in the United States -- and there's little the Fed or monetary policy can do about it.

To risk oversimplifying a nuanced thesis, he argues that we're out of leaps that were so transformative in creating revolutionary growth in the 19th and 20th centuries. These included steam power and railroads; indoor plumbing, electricity, communications, entertainment, chemicals, petroleum and the internal combustion engine, and finally computers, the web, and mobile phones.

"A common feature of this innovative revolution was that many of the improvements could only happen once," Gordon writes. Thus, "The U.S. was transformed from 75 percent rural to 80 percent urban, and that could not happen again."

Dramatic new shifts that create new wealth, industries and jobs face "headwinds." They are inequality, globalization, the overhang of consumer and government debt, lower education levels, the retirement of educated, productive baby boomers, environmental degradation and energy costs.

and The End Of The Bernanke Put? Chairman Sparks Sell Off As He Indicates More QE Is Coming

Bernanke once again telegraphed to markets that he is seriously considering extending quantitative easing next year, as Operation Twist expires.

What other choice does Helicopter Ben have but to keep the QE bit going? Low interest rates (with no apparent end) are not doing the trick like they had when oil was cheap. Growth is near flat.

I'm wondering this: If the housing bubble burst due to high oil price in 08, (hastened by the sub-prime liar mortgage debacle), followed by the amazing series of financial fancy footwork via trillions borrowed, operation twist and QE's that have failed to generate much growth due to high oil price, if we are not headed for the bursting of the US & or EU debt bubble?

That collapse can be averted temporarily via a variety of fiscal maneuvers, but the debt bubble bursting is an inevitable consequence of moving down the net energy ladder. If so, then the question is how long can the inevitable be delayed?

They are talking about negative interest rates. Something about 'free money'.

"he argues that we're out of leaps that were so transformative in creating revolutionary growth in the 19th and 20th centuries."

But he must be ignoring such transformative technologies as the new X-box, the lastest iPhone...and...and.. cars with adaptive cruise control..and Viagra and...


Even the great techno cornucopians are beginning to notice that new technologies don't bring as many jobs as old technologies used to, in fact they take away far more jobs than they bring to the table. The next big thing is AI and it provides 1/100th the number of jobs compared to traditional IT. I guess everyone's supposed to just write apps for iPhones and make a living.

In AI, the apps will write themselves.


I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Plastics Robotics.

The digital economy is a fantasy world and we cannot live in a fantasy world. The digital economy is going to have to grow a physical presence. Secondly, the overarching system that ultimately dictates our future is going to have to prepare humans for the next step. To survive, humans are going to have to rely on the artificial rather than the natural to keep themselves alive. The human body is going to have to be "enhanced" and adapted accordingly.

I think we will see increasing interest in prosthetics, as well as specialised robotics for economic purposes. Paraplegic and sports for the disabled will likely be the testing ground and showcase for the technology. I'd expect to see an up swelling of support and popularity for them. At some point healthy humans will elect to have healthy body parts replaced with prosthetics as it will be seen as advantageous.

It may come to the point where artificially enhanced humans are the only ones that can survive on the planet we've created. Cutting Nature out of the loop and living on the Sun's energy directly. The rest will simply pass into history as there was no way to save them all.

Burgundy, I think you're serving two masters with this post..

"The digital economy is a fantasy world and we cannot live in a fantasy world."

"It may come to the point where artificially enhanced humans are the only ones that can survive on the planet we've created."

I think those are very contradictory statements.. and while I love a good paradox, it seems like EACH of these thoughts is a paradox on its own.

I can only take a quick stab at the first half..

The digital world cannot (and does not) exist apart from the natural world of course, at the very least because it is fully driven by human beings, who are nothing if they aren't eating, breathing reproducing animals, regardless of how distinct from nature we have allowed our self-concept to deviate .. and yet, the Digital Information Realm IS still the source of a great deal of useful work, utility, information, inspiration and real employment for a great many people, whether it is for Artists, Engineers, Economists, Political Professionals, Teachers, Scientists.. there are very few fields, it seems that do NOT have employees who's daily activities are fully immersed in electronica and the global information networks that is has engendered.

It is fascinating to explore it all at a conceptual level, and the interplay between thought and action, between virtual and actual is simply dizzying.. but while it is somewhat insulated from the exosystem, it is also as much on the back of Bricks, Mortar, Copper, Coal and Oil, and the back of the great floating turtle as anything real you have ever touched.

It is only as much a fantasy, as all of this that we are.

'Life is but a dream.. ShaBoom ShaBoom'

Shadow banking grows to $67 trillion industry, regulators say

The shadow banking industry has grown to about $67 trillion, $6 trillion bigger than previously thought, leading global regulators to seek more oversight of financial transactions that fall outside traditional oversight.

The size of the shadow banking system, which includes the activities of money market funds, monoline insurers and off- balance sheet investment vehicles, “can create systemic risks” and “amplify market reactions when market liquidity is scarce,” the Financial Stability Board said in a report, which utilized more data than last year’s probe into the sector.

Spain suspends home evictions for most needy after suicides

Spain approved measures on Thursday to help the most needy families facing eviction, a growing problem in the recession-bound nation highlighted last week by the suicide of a woman whose home bailiffs came to seize.

The government said it would suspend evictions for two years for vulnerable homeowners who can no longer pay back debt, including those with small children, the disabled and long-term unemployed.

"This is an emergency response to mitigate the effects of the worst of the economic crisis," Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said at a weekly press conference.

2013: Let The Oil Carnage Begin

It won’t come as a shock to seasoned oil watchers that Goldman Sachs remains bullish on oil. Contrary to conventional opinion that international prices will fall to $80-90/b into 2013, the investment bank sees things differently. $130/b here we come in for a tumultuous 2013. In itself, that’s hardly newsworthy stuff, but what makes Goldman’s call far more interesting is that it’s entirely based around exacerbation of the Iranian question. As much as Iran currently appears to be under the cosh, the U.S. needs to have a very serious think about what it’s going to do with Tehran after November 2012 – not unless we’re supposed to live with a structural Iranian price premium over the next few years, all without any meaningful shift in Iran’s nuclear posture.

CIA Closes Dedicated Climate Change Unit

The CIA has shuttered its unit dedicated to studying the impact of climate change on national security, shifting its activities elsewhere, an official said Tuesday.

"As part of a broader realignment of analytic resources, this work continues to be performed by a dedicated team in a new office that looks at economic and energy matters affecting America's national security," said CIA spokesman Todd Ebitz.

"The mission and the resources devoted to it remain essentially unchanged."

... Republican members of the US Congress, many of whom doubt the scientifically accepted evidence that climate change is underway, have opposed the unit since its establishment and unsuccessfully sought to block funding for it.

Since climate change, economics, and energy matters are all connected and all affect national security, this actually makes sense. they should all be in the same study group.

Agreed. This is why I continue to include climate change here, despite frequent requests not to. Climate change and energy are so entwined that you can't discuss one without the other.

I am grateful for this choice, Leanan.

It's immensely sobering just how much these two storms that are converging on us are intertwined.

I really hope we'll find a good bit of that "Burrowing Little Mammals" tenacity in our core toolset as we get tighter into the pinch between these two.

Garbage In - Garbage Out ...

Microsoft to power data centre with sewage-sourced methane

After years of careful research, Microsoft has uncovered the data centre's long-lost cousin: the sewage treatment plant.

On 19 November, the software giant announced that it will invest $5.5 million (£3.5 million) in a futuristic data centre -- called the Data Plant -- that will be completely powered by methane harvested from the Dry Creek Water Reclamation Facility in Cheyenne, Wyoming. That's right, it will convert poo into computing power.

"In a sense, wastewater treatment plants can be considered distant cousins of data centres," wrote Sean James, a program manager with Microsoft's Data Center Advanced Development Group. "They are mission-critical facilities with high-availability infrastructure built into the plant. These plants cannot go offline any more than a community can stop flushing."

Learning lessons from BP oil spill

... The idea was that dispersants would dissolve the oil and that what was left would be strongly diluted in the sea water. This would cause very little environmental damage. But it appears that a lot of dirt has sunk in flakes to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, forming a thick layer of gunk on the seafloor. Life on the seabed, and thus the entire ecosystem, is suffering severely from this pollution. So, although the visible damage of the disaster is relatively limited, considering that during a period of three months millions of gallons of oil flowed into the sea, out of sight, at 800 meters depth, a significant environmental disaster is occurring.

Recently, the Dutch C-IMAGE team, led by Tinka Murk, discovered that the dispersants are not as effective in real sea water (containing algae and other particles) as they are in clean water. "In sea water we see cobweb-like structures emerging," said Tinka Murk. The dirt sticks to the dead or living material in the water and these flakes then sink off to the bottom of the ocean. In filtered water, these cobweb structures don't appear.

Curiosity's Mars discovery called 'one for history books'

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has apparently made a discovery "for the history books," but we'll have to wait a few weeks to find out what the new Red Planet find may be, media reports suggest.

The discovery was made by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, NPR reported Tuesday. SAM is the rover's onboard chemistry lab, and it's capable of identifying organic compounds — the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it.

... stayed tuned.

(maybe they found fossilized Twinkies?)

Twinkies, being neither chemically organic nor living, cannot be evidence of life. A Twinkie wrapper, however, would be interesting.

NGOs: Mexico risks corn damage if GM maize is planted

... The agriculture ministry is examining the possibility of allowing Monsanto, DuPont and Dow to plant GMO corn in 2.4 million hectares (six million acres) of land, but no decision has been taken yet. Last year, the Calderon administration authorized Monsanto to start field trials for GM corn.

The ETC Group and the Maize Defense Network, a Mexican non-governmental organization, fear the consequences of allowing biotech firms to plant in land roughly the size of El Salvador.

"We are talking about damaging more than 7,000 years of indigenous and peasant work that created maize—one of the world's three most widely eaten crops," Veronica Villa of ETC's Mexico office said in a statement last week.

What could possibly go wrong?

Epicyte made corn to cause human infertility.

And one report claimed they could not find corn in Mexico that did not contain GMO patented genes.

So like in Westworld - nothing can go wring.

Drillers Begin Reusing 'Frack Water'

... While the recycled water can't currently be cleaned up enough for drinking or growing crops, it can be cleaned of chemicals and rock debris and reused to frack additional wells, which could sharply cut the costs that energy companies face securing and disposing of water.

Some companies are finding it is still cheaper in many parts of the U.S. to inject the wastewater deep underground instead of cleaning it, which has slowed adoption of recycling technology. But experts say that is likely to change as fracking grows.

At Schlumberger, which predicts that a million new wells will be fracked around the world between now and 2035, reducing freshwater use "is no longer just an environmental issue—it has to be an issue of strategic importance," Salvador Ayala, vice president of well-production services, told a recent conference.

a million new wells will be fracked around the world between now and 2035

45,000 per year? Can anyone give me evidence that this is possible, given the number of rigs available, let alone the rest of the infrastructure?


Walking rigs on pad-sites have a much faster turn time than long moves once did. Average drill time is just a few weeks. Just 2000 rigs, about what the US has, can do most of that number now.

Vertical drill time is just a few days - like 5 to 7. Hoz wells take a good bit longer, but EF wells are down below 20 days average. Time has dropped several days in the past few years.

From: http://www.wtrg.com/rotaryrigs.html

The total US rig count was 1,809 as of 16 Nov. That's a 10% decrease in the last 12 months. The global rig count, excluding the US and Canada decreased 3,733 to 3,458 during the same period. Thus total global rig count is currently at 5,267. To drill 45,000 wells/year would require about 9 wells per rig per year. Or about one well every two months. A rather meaningless metric: I can drill a shallow well in 3 weeks and take 6 months to drill a deep well.

FWIW during the late 70's drilling boom we topped out at 47,000 wells/year with 4,500 rigs drilling in the US...about 250% more than we have drilling today.
Another metric: in 2008 we drilled about 16,000 wells in the US with an average of about 2,000 rigs drilling. Another: According to World Oil the US drills 44% of all wells drilled globally. So if you follow that logic the US would have to drill about 20,000 of those 45,000 proposed wells. So the US would have to bump its count up to 2,500 rigs. Not where the current trend line is heading but certainly doable.

There you go: that should be a clear as mud now. LOL.

A very interesting read ...

Anonymous, Karl Rove and 2012 Election Fix?

I think that the late Christopher Hitchens could best be described as a professional skeptic, and he did not think that John Kerry was qualified to be president, but he was stunned at what his investigation of Ohio in the 2004 election turned up.

The 2004 Election: Ohio's Odd Numbers, March, 2005
by Christopher Hitchens

No conspiracy theorist, and no fan of John Kerry's, the author nevertheless found the Ohio polling results impossible to swallow: Given what happened in that key state on Election Day 2004, both democracy and common sense cry out for a court-ordered inspection of its new voting machines.

Regarding 2012, two points: I was somewhat surprised that Obama carried Ohio (given the 2004 results) and Rove's behavior on election night was really, really odd. Of course, I think that Obama would have won even without Ohio.

- ... Rove's behavior on election night was really, really odd

... reminded me of the scene from The Sting when Henry Gondorff [Paul Newman], posing as a drunk Chicago bookie named Shaw, buys his way into Doyle Lonnegan's private high-stakes poker game. Shaw makes Lonnegan furious with his behavior and then out-cheats him at poker to win $15,000. [Rove being Lonnegan ... ya follow]

Edit: Based on the digital evidence mentioned in the article the Republican Party may be seriously compromized ... or several hackers are about to turn up dead in the near future. I recall option 2 happening to the White House IT chief during the Bush email flap (second term). Those one person plane crashes will do that to you.

Bev Harris has been following "black box voting" for years. About the claims of "Anonymous" she says:

The alleged "hack" by Anonymous may or may not have been real, but if it was, a careful reading indicates that it was not a hack of voting machines, but more akin to the odious phone-jamming scheme used by a Republican operative in New Hampshire some years back. Whether you wear a blue or red political shirt, this kind of attack is nothing to brag about. It involves interfering with get out the vote efforts, and regardless of which side is working on get out the vote, obstructing such efforts is uncool. There is no credible proof that this Anonymous hack even happened. If it did, it violated the principle of encouraging political participation. We have to be careful about stories such as this, because they can divert important work on election transparency into chasing phantoms.

The "rampant voter fraud" claim diverts attention from where wholesale tampering actually takes place. If you plan to rig an election, you do it as an inside job, not with alleged busloads of people casting multiple votes, and not with herds of voter impersonators fooling election judges. You do it with absentees, you do it by manipulating who can vote, you do it by altering the voting machine counts, you do it by thwarting chain of custody. In other words, it's not the outsiders -- the voters -- where the focus needs to be. Let's keep our eye on the ball. Who handled the ballots? Who watched? Who programmed the machines? Was the list loaded into electronic pollbooks the real one? Was the count interrupted for some reason? Did any ballots disappear? Were people prevented from voting? How do we know that the ballots said to have been mailed in are the same ones that were counted, and how do we know they were put into the pool by real voters rather than an elections worker?

We need to step away from our favorite political candidates to deal with the underlying structural problem. Until we fix transparency problems, actual tampering -- considerably more damaging than anything Anonymous claimed to have done -- will happen over and over.

Look at Harris's comments on the election here.

How long before the neocon spin machine makes this a case of Anonymous stealing the election for Obama? It would certainly fit their MO, and I know plenty of folks ready to swallow that pill.

U.S., Mexico inking water-sharing pact with eye on handling droughts

The United States and Mexico are rewriting rules on how to share water from the Colorado River, capping a five-year effort to form a united front against future drought in their western states.

The far-reaching agreement to be signed Tuesday gives Mexico rights to put some of its river water in Lake Mead, which stretches across Nevada and Arizona -- giving it badly needed storage capacity. Mexico will forfeit some of its share of the river during shortages, bringing itself in line with western U.S. states that already have agreed how much they will surrender in years when waters recede.

Water agencies in California, Arizona and Nevada also will buy water from Mexico, which will use some of the money to upgrade its infrastructure.

Boosting Economy More Important for Canada Than Approving Keystone XL: U.S. Ambassador

U.S. ambassador David Jacobson says the most useful thing his country can do for Canada is not green-lighting the Keystone XL pipeline but curing its ailing economy.

"The single most important thing ... that the U.S. can do for Canada is get its economy back on track," Mr. Jacobson told an Ottawa conference on Canada-U.S. relations Monday.

Is the ambassador telegraphing the decision?

aws - "Is the ambassador telegraphing the decision?" I think the more important question whether the decision to allow the border crossing section of the pipeline has any practical effect. Lack of that section of the p/l hasn't changed the import of Canadian oil to the US. Construction of the other 99% of the p/l system hasn't stopped for one day due to the govt denying the crossing permit. In reality the crossing permit doesn't become relevant until the rest of the p/l is operational. In fact, on a fairly regular basis we see other transport modes being developed to not only move more of the oil to the US but also to other markets. And that's at the current low price the Canadians are getting due to the Cushing bottle neck. But that choke point is already in the process of being fixed with the reversal of a p/l from Cushing to Texas refineries. The current projection is for an additional through put of 600,000 bopd in the next few years. At that time the Canadian oil should be selling for a good bit more.

Regardless of those what-ifs not one bbl of Canadian oil has been prevented from being produced by the lack of approval of the cross border section of Keystone AFAIK. It is still coming in via the existing p/l's, rail cars and trucks. That section will just reduce the transport costs some. But right now that additional cost is adding some incentive to finding methods of moving the oil to other markets such as eastern Canada and China. But as long as folks like the ambassador keeps making such statements the majority of Americans will believe the lack of this permit is preventing both the importation of it to the US and, more importantly, that much of the oil isn't being burned and thus not contributing to AGW. In the world of misrepresentation IMHO this is a win-win for the politicians as long as gasoline and fuel oil prices stay relatively low. Thus the motivation of such statements by the ambassador IMO.

I hear there is also a pipeline underway from Midland to the coast? If so, that could shunt oil that currently heads to Cushing to a more lucrative market, and further relieve pressure.

It will be interesting to see if the added oil will reduce world prices or increase US prices. Probably both, but slanted heavily toward the current Brent price I think.

I will note that Suncor has decided to "go slow" on three new tar sands projects. Arguably this is directly related to the pipeline and the risk of continued large discounts to the world price.

So arguably high transport costs > high discount > less investment in tar sands.


David Suzuki and Jeff Rubin form unlikely alliance

Environmentalist and economist argue that rising oil prices will have a positive effect as stunted economies slow pace of climate change

They certainly seem like an odd couple.

Environmentalist David Suzuki, who has said conventional economics is “a form of brain damage,” is on a cross-country speaking tour with Jeff Rubin, the former chief economist of CIBC World Markets.

--- snip ---

Do you think people are just in denial right now?

Rubin: Yes, and they’re in denial about climate change, too. Fortunately, we’re taking the decisions out of our hands. It’s pretty clear, if given the choice, we’ll cook ourselves to extinction. But I’m just saying hey, it’s not up to us anymore. It’s the finite, in an economic sense, nature of coal and oil that is going to save us.