Drumbeat: November 23, 2012

U.S. set for fracking bonanza, says historian Ferguson

Hong Kong (CNN) -- If there's been one consistent thread running through the U.S. economic story since 2008, it's been the steady drumbeat of gloom.

Outright recession or sub-standard growth, stubbornly high unemployment and fiscal crises have been the topics du jour when it comes to the world's biggest economy.

But now an unlikely champion for U.S. growth under the Obama administration has emerged -- a former adviser to a Republican Party presidential candidate and Harvard history professor, Niall Ferguson, who says America could actually be heading toward a new economic "golden age."

And it has nothing to do with Washington and everything to do with energy.

Shale Gas Bubble About to Burst: Art Berman, Bill Powers

It's a deep dive into shale gas production numbers that have led insiders like Powers, Berman and others to conclude that the behavior of the industry is akin to Enron's behavior in the 1990s, described by some as a "Ponzi Scheme" in a June 2011 investigation by The New York Times.

Protests erupt across Egypt after presidential decree

A febrile and polarised Egypt turned on itself on Friday as widespread protests spread across the country pitting supporters of the Islamist president Mohamed Morsi against his political opponents over a controversial new decree granting him extensive new powers.

Anti-Morsi demonstrators, who accuse the president of having launched a "constitutional coup" on Thursday, were reported to have set fire to the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party, to which Morsi belongs, in the Suez Canal cities of Suez and Port Said.

Do Coal Plants Really Kill People?

During the presidential campaign, any whiff of anti-coal sentiment was considered an election-year liability. In 2003, Gov. Romney went after a coal plant in Massachusetts for spewing air pollution and announced: “I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people. And that plant, that plant kills people.” President Obama tried to stick it to him with that quote in an ad in coal-friendly Ohio. Romney, in turn, tried to bash Obama with remarks that Joe Biden made in 2007 about coal as a potential killer.

But while politicians have been busy obscuring their views on coal, public health researchers have been accumulating ever clearer data. Emissions from coal-fired power plants and other coal-burning sources have been linked to neurological and developmental deficits in children, a worsening of asthma, and cardiovascular disease and other health woes. Coal-burning is bad, bad, bad for your health—and looking ahead, the best we can hope for is that it will get marginally better.

Is Thanksgiving a big waste of turkey?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans throw away 35 percent of the turkey they buy, and that does not include bones. That's compared to only 15 percent waste for chicken. What's worse, throwing away turkey isn't just bad manners or a big waste of money ($282 million), it's also bad for the environment, according to Gunder.

Did oil decide the last three American elections?

As I indicated, there are certainly other factors besides oil prices that determined this year's election outcome. But I can't help thinking that many voters--still frustrated by slow growth due in part to high oil prices--decided that Republican politicians had not acted to address their economic anxieties. So, those voters simply went the opposite direction and voted for Democrats.

If the pattern I see holds, then continuing high oil prices would lead to a resurgence of the Republican Party in the 2014 elections. Naturally, if prices decline and stay down, oil will not be a central issue. But here is the problem. If oil supplies are going to be constrained in the long term, as I believe they will be, then waiting for supply to rise and for prices to fall will not be a useful strategy for either party. Neither will touting the temporary and overhyped gains in domestic oil production that are, in any case, being offset by declines abroad. Keep in mind that oil is a worldwide market, so Americans will continue to pay world prices whether or not domestic production rises.

Crude Futures Erase Weekly Advance as Middle East Tension Eases

Crude dropped in New York, erasing a weekly advance, after a truce between Israel and Hamas held for a second day, easing concern that the conflict would disrupt supplies from producers in the Middle East.

West Texas Intermediate declined as much as 0.8 percent after a Egypt-U.S.-crafted cease-fire halted eight days of aerial assaults that killed at least 167 Palestinians and six Israelis. Crude may decline next week following the cessation of hostilities, according to a Bloomberg survey. There was no U.S. floor trading yesterday because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Energy Losses Expose Petrobras Fuel Distortion

Refinaria de Petroleos de Manguinhos SA (RPMG3), the worst performing Latin American energy stock this year, is showing investors how Brazil’s fuel subsidies are hurting the ability of non-government refineries to make money.

Israeli Troops Fire on Palestinians at Gaza Border Fence

Israeli troops fired on Palestinians near the Gaza Strip border, in an incident Hamas said left one dead and 25 injured, leading to accusations from both sides that a two-day-old cease-fire was breached.

Palestinian farmers were shot at on land they own near the Israel-Gaza border, said Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza. Israeli army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said in a message on Twitter that the Palestinians breached the cease-fire by hurling stones and trying to damage the fence.

Lula offers Brazil's help for Indian infrastructure

New Delhi (IANS) Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva Friday said his country can be a partner in India's infrastructure and renewable energy resources development.

The two countries, he said, could work out strategies and partnerships that would not only bring in economic benefits but also provide substantial impetus for growth in their respective regions.

James Howard Kunstler: Peak oil, peak BS

It’s been clear for a while that authorities in many realms of endeavor – politics, economics, business, media – are very eager to sustain the illusion that we can keep our way of life chugging along. But under the management of these elites, the divorce between truth and reality is nearly complete.

BP to restructure oil, gas operations, sources say

BP is planning to announce a reorganisation of its oil and gas production operations, three sources familiar with the matter said, the second significant restructuring of its main cash generator since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The latest changes will undo some of the measures Chief Executive Bob Dudley imposed in 2010 and are partly intended to free him from close oversight of day-to-day operations so he can help chart BP's recovery from the disaster which killed 11 men and spilled 5 million barrels of crude into the sea.

U.K. Renewable Energy Expenses to Triple for Consumers 2020

Britain’s electricity customers will be paying higher bills by 2020 to cover the costs of expanding renewable energy supplies such as solar and wind, government officials said.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey will allow utilities to triple the renewable energy levy that comes through in household and business power bills to 7.6 billion pounds ($12 billion) by 2020, according to a spokesman at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The change will come in legislation Parliament will consider once the details are published on Nov. 29.

Did You Save Some Turkey Fat? Other Oils?

Fat, oil and grease (FOG) poured down a drain will eventually cool, clinging to the sides of pipes and making it harder for water to flow through the vast arterial networks underground. Soap doesn’t help to fully break down the sludge either, because fat, oil, and grease like to regroup further down the pipe.

Ultimately, this can burden the city’s sewer system, leading to overflows that have environmental impacts on streets and rivers further down the line.

But some people are aware that our Thanksgiving effluent has potential as biofuel. And as it turns out, several cities across the United States are running public or privately run FOG recycling drives.

Solar Companies Seek Ways to Build an Oasis of Electricity

When Hurricane Sandy wiped out the power in areas like coastal Long Island and the Jersey Shore, what should have been beacons of hope — hundreds of solar panels glinting from residential rooftops — became symbols of frustration.

Despite the popular perception that installing solar panels takes a home “off the grid,” most of those systems are actually part of it, sending excess power to the utility grid during the day and pulling electricity back to run the house at night. So when the storm took down power lines and substations across the Northeast, safety systems cut the power in solar homes just like everywhere else.

“Here’s a $70,000 system sitting idle,” said Ed Antonio, who lives in the Rockaways in Queens and has watched his 42 panels as well as those on several other houses in the area go unused since the power went out Oct. 29. “That’s a lot of power sitting. Just sitting.”

Q. and A.: In a Blackout, Solar Exceptions

In Bayonne, N.J., a school with an unusual coupling of a solar array and a backup diesel generator found itself chugging along through the storm and its aftermath, allowing more than 50 residents to spend the night that Sandy hit on cots in a heated, dry and well-lighted community room.

At the heart of the system, designed and installed by Advanced Solar Products at the Midtown Community School, a designated evacuation center, is a special inverter with software that allows electricity from the panels to stop flowing out into the grid when it goes down.

Effort to Curb Dangerous Coolant Falters, Sometimes at Home

The Environmental Protection Agency has tried to reduce use of this gas, HCFC-22, which depletes the ozone layer and contributes to global warming, by imposing strict quotas on its production. Since 2010, it has also banned the sale of new air-conditioning units containing the compound, and has promoted recycling of the gas from old machines so it will not be released.

But what followed at Mr. Spector’s home circumvented all the agency’s rules and good intentions: Instead of finding and repairing the hole in his aging unit, a complicated task, a serviceman pumped in more coolant, which leaked out by the next day. When Mr. Spector called around for another solution, a salesman offered to swap in a new condenser unit, but one that still used HCFC-22 — meaning one more American home would continue relying on an environmentally damaging coolant for years.

A ‘Preacher’ of the Gospel of Sharing, Not Shopping

From the first days of this blog in 2007, a focal point has been the word “enough.” How much is enough? Can we learn to reach for an apple when we crave a cookie? Can we make something instead of buying something? Which good life do you seek — the Vegas version or Plato’s?

Is Humanity Really Going to Starve to Death in Twenty Years Because We Will Have Run Out of Potash and Phosphorus Fertilizers?

If you don’t know who Jeremy Grantham is, he’s a British investor who is co-founder and chief strategist of GMO, a Boston-based asset management firm managing more than $97 billion. Recently, he’s taken on the subject of the future challenges of global agricultural production, and takes a rather dismal view. Readers love doom in agriculture, and his latest quarterly letters have gained him a devoted following. I’ve begged to differ with a few of his takes on issues as I’ve read these reports, but have kept silent, as I’m not paid to do what he does.

But, after I read the above quoted paragraph, I aborted everything I was doing that day to begin my rebuttal to this outrageous statement. My article was about half-done and that is the way it will stay, because I discovered that Tim Worstall over at Forbes had already written a superb response titled, “What Jeremy Grantham Gets Horribly, Horribly, Wrong About Resource Availability.” What he writes does not only apply to these two fertilizers, it applies to most element mining. He explains to us the difference between reserves and resources. If this is a subject that interests you, you must read Worstall’s writing.

Price of milk makes Greeks' blood boil

Aravanis said his running costs made it impossible to produce more cheaply.

His farm is too small for him to grow fodder for his total herd of 440 animals, so he has to buy in clover, maize, oats, hay and soya, which is imported from the United States.

"If the price fell to 40 cents none of us would be able to survive. We are barely getting by at these prices," he said.

Report shows US drought worsening after weeks of improvement; no rain forecast in worst areas

ST. LOUIS - The worst U.S. drought in decades has deepened again after more than a month of encouraging reports of slowly improving conditions, a drought-tracking consortium said Wednesday, as scientists struggled for an explanation other than a simple lack of rain.

While more than half of the continental U.S. has been in a drought since summer, rain storms had appeared to be easing the situation week by week since late September. But that promising run ended with Wednesday's weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report, which showed increases in the portion of the country in drought and the severity of it.

Japan steelmakers to receive 10.4 mln CO2 offset

(Reuters) - Japanese steelmakers are likely to receive 10.4 million tonnes of U.N. carbon dioxide offsets over the Kyoto Protocol's five-year period, lower than the 35 million tonnes estimated earlier, the Iron and Steel Association of Japan said on Thursday.

The decline is due to delays and scale-downs in clean energy projects in China and other developing countries, the association said.

Timeline - How the world found out about global warming

(Reuters) - A U.N. conference in Qatar next week is the latest attempt to combat global warming after mounting evidence that human activity is disrupting the climate.

Here is a timeline of the road to action on global warming:

Qatar set to host major climate talks

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — When the tiny desert nation of Qatar was chosen to host the latest round of United Nations climate change negotiations, environmentalists were stunned.

Talks were already in trouble, and now the high-level discussions were moving to a member of OPEC that had shown little interest in climate change and appointed a former oil minister to lead the negotiations, which start Monday. The country's economic boom, driven by vast oil and gas reserves, has led to free electricity for citizens and an abundance of gas-guzzling SUVs in the capital, Doha. It has also made Qatar the world's highest per capita carbon dioxide emitter.

Resuscitation hopes dim for expiring Kyoto climate treaty

OSLO (Reuters) - Fifteen years ago, fears about man-made climate change were enough to bind most of the industrialised world into a treaty that was flawed but at least seemed to cement the principle that greenhouse gases must be cut.

Yet now - with levels of those gases much higher and climate change more evident in extreme weather - economic slowdown and arguments over who should pay have all but killed any chance of a meaningful extension to the expiring Kyoto Protocol.

FACTBOX - What is the Kyoto Protocol?

REUTERS - Nearly 200 countries will meet in Doha, Qatar, next week to work for a new climate deal to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming the planet, raising sea levels and disrupting weather patterns.

The new deal should be signed by 2015 and come into force by 2020. Delegates will also discuss an extension to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the world's current climate pact, which expires at the end of this year.

FACTBOX - Climate negotiating positions of big greenouse emitters

REUTERS - More than 190 countries are meeting in Doha, Qatar, from November 26 to December 7 to make progress on a new deal to fight climate change, due to be agreed by 2015 and come into force in 2020.

The current emissions-cutting pact, the Kyoto Protocol, commits most developed states to binding targets for cutting emissions but expires at the end of this year. It may be extended for a period of five or eight years, but several industrialised countries have already said they will not sign up to further emission cuts.

Pollution Sets Record as Euro Crisis Slows Climate Drive

The next victim of Europe’s economic crisis is becoming the global effort to restrain fossil fuel emissions and curb pollution now at record levels.

The European Union, which led the fight by establishing the biggest market for carbon emissions, is letting the matter slip as a priority. EU leaders didn’t discuss climate strategy at their four summits this year, while France, Germany, Spain and Britain are focused on paring the region’s 10.5 percent unemployment rate and 10.8 trillion euros ($13.9 trillion) in debt. The matter didn’t emerge during U.S. presidential debates.

Stark warnings on climate change must be heeded by business

Shocking is the only way to describe the extraordinarily cynical comments made by Milton Catelin, chief executive of the World Coal Association, to the Financial Times this month, in trying to downplay any idea that climate change may make coal a risky investment.

Africa: A Four-Degree Warmer World

A four-degree temperature rise by the end of the century could also trigger declining global food stocks and sea-level rises affecting hundreds of millions of people.

In such a scenario there would be no certainty that adaptation might be possible, says the report, a synthesis of the latest climate science prepared by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and German NGO Climate Analytics for the World Bank.

Link up top, oil/elections. I think demographics are shifting the elections. The GOP has relied heavily on gun-owning bible-thumping white people that earn more than $50K and those folks are slowly dying off.



Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently said "we have to bring more angry white men into our party."

For accuracy's sake: "The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term," - Lindsey Graham.

I need to get back to work on my angry-white-guy-generator. It's a cheap one I bought years ago that makes this white guy angry every time he tries to fix it :-0

To be fair, Graham's point was that the party needs to attract a more diverse base and move beyond the 'angry white guy' core.

The real point is "paraphrased".

A fine line between the two ideologies is "I know it is true" and "I still have myself to contend with".

Accuracy is lost when there is a distinction without a difference.

Dead is dead whether a hour old or a century old.

Some accuracy.

RE: Timeline - How the world found out about global warming

That timeline leaves out the advent of the oil baron financed global warming denier movement (The Exceptional American Denial). Many folks first heard of it in denialism texts.

The Kevin Anderson talk I linked to a couple days ago is now put together with the power point in a video:


Well worth a very careful listen--one of the clearest voices on where the best science tells us we actually are at this point wrt CC.

Here's what Doug H recently noted at SkepticalScience upon listening to the whole thing:

"I have just sat through all 59 minutes of it and can confirm it has cleared the fog from my understanding of where we are and where we are likely to be by 2050. It is a real wake-up call to those of us who already see AGW as a threat to our future. Although Dr. Anderson finishes on an optimistic note, I was not comforted. If all countries achieve the CO2 targets they are aiming at, we are headed for the diabolical future of at least 4oC warmer world, at which level it looks bad for organised human society."


"organised human society"


The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The graphs of blah we see so often here will not obtain.

Anderson's presentation shows clearly the difficulty humanity faces regarding climate change. His presentation also points out the crimes which have already been committed against humanity and the planet by those who have downplayed the potential impacts of climate change. Each year of delay has made it more difficult to meet any impact target and Anderson's presentation suggests that it will be impossible to stop at a temperature increase of 2o C. Even halting the change to 4o C limit would appear extremely difficult.

Anderson blames the scientists, but his references are to reports with deep governmental involvement, which restricted the scope of the presentations. The CCSP reports in particular were commissioned by G.W. Bush's administration and the writing process was drawn out as long as possible to delay the impact. I attended the initial workshop for one of those CCSP reports in November of 2003, the final report appeared in December of 2008 as the Bush administration was leaving the White House.

The US has just finished an election campaign of more than 18 months and during that time, there was essentially no official progress. Indeed, the R's party platform's position was that climate change was not a problem. It's not just the R's, both parties have failed to make the connection between economic growth, CO2 emissions and climate change.

Scientists aren't politicians who can spend millions of dollars communicating directly with the public during elections nor do scientists have the sort of money to provide access to the media which would be required to spread the message widely enough to raise enough awareness within the public mind. Personally, I don't see any way to change the present course and that's after decades of observation of our political process. I sincerely wish that I could be even the teeniest bit optimistic that we will see the sort of reductions in emissions which Anderson suggests might limit the change to 4o C...

E. Swanson

What about disorganized human society or maybe there won't be any human society at all. Which is not all bad.

"... or maybe there won't be any human society at all. Which is not all bad."

Would be much better for most of the other species on earth.

I think the dogs, cats, and budgies will miss us.

Chickens and cows, not so much.

Thanks for posting the link wili,

I was hoping someone would put the two together.


That timeline is lame I agree.

The Discovery of Global Warming
is a free web book (html) by Spencer Weart,
hosted at the American Institute of Physics.
The summary is a 5 or 10 minute read

There's also a printed version, revised as of 2008.

The Wiki has a decent history

Pakistan to cut phone service to prevent attacks

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's interior minister said Friday that the government will suspend cell phone service in most parts of the country over the next two days to prevent attacks against Shiite Muslims during a key religious commemoration.

Militants often detonate bombs using cell phones and the Pakistani government has implemented similar service suspensions in the past, but not on such a wide scale.

Almost makes one want to give thanks for not being born in a land of violence crazed religious fanatics doesn't it?

In fact, I do give thanks for these things. Religious fanatics we have, violence crazed ones we do not (at least not to any significant extent).

How crazy a country must it be that this is deemed a responsible and necessary step to prevent people being killed? Wowsers.

Religious fanatics we have, violence crazed ones we do not (at least not to any significant extent).

It's some remote-fly-over-push-button and/or remote(/'surgical')-push-button/foreign sales of 'defense' such-and-such/etc., democratic-secrecy (oxymoron), media-manipulation/'embedded-journalism', and pretense, etc..

"Violence crazed? What violence crazed? There's nothing to see here, folks, move along..."

"The hand is quicker than the eye. Step on up, kids, give this game a try..."

On the other hand, right here is this land (PNW-US) one of our local TV news broadcasts yesterday warned parents of small children that if they planned on joining the black Friday shopping orgy, they should not bring their children, as small children are much more at risk of being trampled and seriously injured or killed than adults.

Let that sink in....children in the US are at risk of being trampled by enthusiastic shoppers.

I am channeling KD today :)

Wallmart employees threaten strike
People eating their thanksgiving dinner in line

People rushing in, pushing, shoving each other

People trampling upon each other, anger, fights

In India people do this in temples and religious places (which I strictly avoid). There have been multiple cases of stampede deaths. In Europe it's football and music concerts.

This is what humanity has come to.

Let's no call it humanity; let us call it inhumanity.

Other places do the same over soccer matches.

I went to Black Friday at Walmart just for the fun of it, with the hope of scoring some discount electronics. The line was much shorter than Best Buy, but there were way more cops outdoors at Best Buy than inside at Walmart. At Walmart, the big ticket lines were well-managed by staff, curving the throng back and forth down the aisles. If you were there to shop for groceries, it would have been a rough experience!

For TVs and such, they gave out guarantee cards to those in line, which eliminates line cutting since you had to have a card to get a TV when you got to the front. For little items, there were no guarantees and as the "go" time came near there was much line-jumping as a well-ordered line built over an hour collapsed into a mob of line-standers and last-minute jumpers. Many of the boxes that weren't well-sealed were picked over by line-standards well before the start.

The attitude was jovial, though. All in line were friendly and chatty. As the crowd formed, anybody with sense sent kids away, and it was a jostling mess. Me and a few of the other big guys who had gotten there early were pretty much immune for anything other than personal space violations, and we just formed a cordon to let the workers (including smaller women) do their thing. I saw no signs of violence, just enthusiastic pushing for position. Probably about like crowding onto overly full trains in many locales. I expect tempers rose a bit as those further back in line failed to get product, but by then I was going with the flow away from the core area. My guess was there were maybe 500 people in the electronics part of the store.

Spent the better part of an hour, plus another 20 minutes in the checkout line, to save maybe $200. Fun, but not a terribly valuable use of time.

Interestingly, I drove back by 2 hours later (after midnight) and the parking lot was almost empty. Normal loading today too. They may have made solid sales last night, but people are getting their stuff and going home, not shopping for days on end.

Your experience was much like my one and only black Friday foray last year; we "needed" a new TV, and got one for about 40% of what we expected to pay. It also uses about half the power of the old one. The Thursday night crowd was fairly well managed, and folks were jovial,, until a huge cat-fight broke out over baby socks... BABY SOCKS? After that, things got sort of crazy. Got my TV and headed back up the mountains.

Ghung - My Black Friday Walmart experience probably isn't typical. A small La. town: White Castle...not very affluent: some refinery workers, lots of cane workers, etc. Had some down time at the rig so went to Walmart at 6 AM today. A tad odd: 8 local cops and 3 customers counting me. At first I thought there had been a robbery. Lots of store workers and aisles filled with merchandise. Just got back from a other trip there 12 hours later: not much of a crowd and the aisles still filled with merchandise.

I stopped at Lowes, as they had several items with really good prices. Very few customers with tons of staff. I went through the checkout twice (no waiting) because I wanted to unload the stuff from my arms. Regular stores were crazy however, wife & two kids went shopping, took them all day.

I wonder if the Republicans and news outlets with all of their "FISCAL CLIFF OMFG WE'RE GOING TO DIE!! (if the rich don't get their tax cuts)" blustering have shot themselves in the foot. The constant drone of "fiscal cliff" doom (straight out of the pages of The Shock Doctrine) must be making a significant number people wonder if they need to not be spending money right now so they have some reserves if the US "goes over the cliff."

Ronald Reagan: "Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit."

Obama Wants To Cut Medicare, Social Security?

"...we "needed" a new TV..."

What for? We haven't had one in over 25 years.

Ostensibly, big guy, the violence in your Walmart can be embedded in the products you buy.

Why have a global capitalistic economy if you can't use it to oppress innocent people without your direct knowledge? Plausible deniability and diffused culpability are key values of complex economy, dontcha know?

Ignorance IS bliss, sometimes.

I'm over here in small-town Nova Scotia, hotelling in a 200+ year old house by the harbour.
It often feels, in many ways, like I've stepped back in time. There's an immediacy to the results of behavior here, too, because we see the same people every day.
Human scale is also bliss, perhaps most of the time.

The number one cause of injury death in civilians in the U.S.eh? is suicide. Same with U.S.eh? soldiers.

The religion of the land is the bully religion which is quite crazed (for some time now).

"When the truth is found to be lies you better find somebody to love."

Those crazed religious fanatics came in pretty handy when Western countries lead by the US wanted to defeat the Soviet Union, didn't they? Western countries have a long history of siding with Muslim extremists and religious obscurantists as long as they fought the Ottoman empire, Soviet Union or whichever power happened to threaten the Western dominance at that time. As the meddling in Iraq, Libya and now Syria shows, no lessons were learned from 9/11.

I think plenty was learned. For only a few thousand dead people we justified a massive new Fed agency, a huge range of invasive policies, rules, lists, and inconveniences, and a way to use up plenty of weapons and a goodly number of recruits. Now we have many new Fed employees, a bunch of disabled vets, more than a few incarcerated minor miscreants, and a host of vets and their survivors with benefits. ALL are on the Fed dole to some degree, and increasingly dependent. Cutting back the bureaucracy won't really be an option before too long....

Some here point out the fascism of the military-industrial complex, or of the multinational corps, but there is an equally complicit communist angle as well. The part that is shared is a massive and powerful gov't. Once you have that, I'm not sure it much matters what the founding ideology may have been.

Bunk. Product-promoting state spending is only permitted to expand in ways that are business-friendly. Military spending, along with automobile infrastructure, are the two great avenues. It's corporate capitalism, not socialism or communism, that's driving reality. Duh.

You can say that, but entitlements are growing, and much of the other aspects of gov't are bloat as well. Sure, multinationals are powerful as well, but that's not what is growing gov't. Nor is the military -- it's been huge, and is staying huge.

The part that will likely grow most is debt servicing.

Take a look at the debt graph:

I have a hard time using the term 'state' to connote 'national', though I understand the meaning. In the us specifically, the term 'state' should really be the individual states, not the national gov't. I'd have much less problem with growing state and local budgets, but those mostly can't incur boundless debt, so power grows at the federal level along with the debt, as nat'l politicians meet every desire that the states cannot...whether it's a need or merely a childish want.

Business is not the enemy, and business-friendly is not necessarily the same as multi-national-corp friendly. Unreasonable expectations, including of what the gov't can do, are the problem.

Read and produce excessive eye moisture: http://www.cbpp.org/images/5-12-11bud2.jpg

I won't pretend to defend the wars, especially in Iraq. Even Afghanistan, once justified, has meandered painfully for years with no clear exit strategy.

However, including only tax cuts and recent spending may indicate a proximate cause without capturing the root issue, which is that we choose to spend more than what we take in. What tax cuts may or may not have caused is hard to say precisely, as secondary growth or decline exacerbated by cuts or taxes does not seem to be predictable. If you ask most conservatives, they'd say the debt would be worse without tax cuts, as the economy would have declined. If you ask many liberals, they'd say the economy would be worse without gov't spending to prop up flagging industries and the economy overall.

As for debt, it isn't sensible to include spending (the outgo side) along with revenue cuts (the income side) on one graph. Sure we could have had wars without debt, if we'd raised taxes, but also if we'd cut other programs. If you look at the overall budget, it is clear where we spend much of our money, and if we are to balance the budget the big four items (defense, welfare, health, and pensions) should ALL be cut.


The amazing thing is that of the pie only 25% actually does something for the average working person. The military is highly visible, but it's only 1/3 of the rest. Fully half the budget quietly trickles out to individuals and agencies that serve them.

If you include the state and local gov't layers, defense is a much smaller piece while education goes up as one would expect (we could go into an aside that states haven't picked up anywhere near as much of the areas allocated to the Fed gov't as the Fed gov't has picked up areas not mentioned in the Constitution and thus properly handled by the states).


Back to the original point: it is clear that bureaucracy and the size of Fed gov't has been trending upward for a long time. While defense, education, healthcare, and pensions all promote big business, they also all support a large gov't and a dependent populace. It's not when stakeholders differ that bad things happen, but when they all agree. And what they all agree on is growth at the expense of debt, and centralization at the expense of local responsibility.

we choose to spend more than what we take in

Social Security has always been pay-as-you-go, and brought in more than it disbursed in 2011. The excess goes into a trust fund which in 1990 was given the peculiar property of being included in the federal budget while being exempt from the budgetary process.

IMO this was done as a legal compromise before including SS into the pie chart that taxpayers saw on their forms every year, at a time they were the most likely to be critical of federal expenditure. It makes all the other spending seem smaller.

Take that out and defense spending is a third. Put Medicare back on the same rational basis and defense becomes half of discretionary spending.

What is rational about SS and medicare that are somehow less discretionary than defense or other gov't functions? If you take out defense and payments on the debt, social programs are 2/3 or more. It's just semantics to pick and choose what to take out to make other parts seem large.

The irrational part of SS is calling it pay-as-you-go when budgeting and a savings-account when vote-hunting, and never really a part of any hard budget discussions at all.

It's the left supporting pensions and entitlements as "off the table" and right supporting defense that leaves only a small discretionary budget that somehow includes interest on the debt and all the deficit spending. That's the great thing about the fiscal cliff...it'll trim both sides AND raise taxes.

Obviously entitlements and defense can only be pay-as-you-go if we actually pay for it all as we go, and the other stuff as well. In reality the revenue was borrowed away during fat years and will be deficit funded when the bills come due. Hard decisions have apparently been optional all along.

Social security is not paid out of the federal budget. It is paid out of the trust funded by FICA taxes. Any excess is (by law) used to purchase securities backed by the "full faith and credit" of the US government. Any deficit is covered by payback of those (currently $2.7 trillion). The government can not specifically change the terms of the trust fund debt as it is part of the general "full faith and credit" debt. It *must* be paid unless there is a general default.

Congress can of course change the contributions, payback, and retirement age but this has no effect on the federal budget other than changing the amount of securities purchased or redeemed by the trust fund. That might have an indirect and apparently illegal effect on the budget.

But the new-found quantitative easement tool seems at least as effective while being less encumbered by law (or public understanding).

Medicare was originally set up with such a trust fund, but Part A is now a small part of the overall costs. Having learned their lesson from the social security act, our clever legislators have created Medicare Part B, Part C, and Part D.

Most likely that satellite phones kept charged and running by small PV wont be affected.

I ran across this pdf (takes a while to load) from ECN (a Dutch energy provider) which has some interesting tidbits in it.

• Between 2000 and 2010 the per household NG consumption has dropped from 1919 m3 to 1563m3 (down by 18.6%) while the population increased by 4.3%.
• The number of households increased by 8.7% while the number of people per household decreased from 2.3 to 2.2.
• Electricity use per household increased from 3230 to 3480 kwh (7.7%)
• Liquid fuel (gasoline/diesel/LPG) decread from 1056 to 1054 (-0.2%)
• In 2010 direct energy use per household was 109GJ consisting of:
• 39% NG
• 26% electricity
• Motor fuels 32%
• Other 3%

The largest residential energy user was the hot water/central heating with about 47 GJ followed by cars at 33 GJ. The washer/dryer, freezer and fridge are somewhere aroun 3 GJ each.
The Dutch are taking fewer baths/showers per household (purple is showers/week, blue is baths/week)

In the kitchen NG is used less than electric - it looks like they crossed in 2010:

Per Capita GDP (on PPP basis) has been going up:

The PDF covers a number of aspects, ranging from consumers and business to middlemen with a sprinkling of EU influences and renewables.
If anyone has any specific questions let me know and I'll see if it is adressed in the document.

"Let's go back to the summer of 2008. The price of oil had been climbing all year reaching its highest level ever (even adjusted for inflation) at $147.27 a barrel on July 11.
From there the price began to decline. Though few people knew it, an economy beleaguered by years of rising oil prices was already in recession. The financial markets eventually crashed that fall. And, the worst slump in the world economy since the Great Depression followed."

Cause and effect need to be kept in order. Sub prime did not cause the increase in oil prices, but the more than quadrupling of oil prices in less than 8 years had an effect on the world economy.

Subprime meant more available spending money which might have caused higher economic growth, which lead to the increase in oil prices. Hard to separate cause from effect sometimes.

For those that cashed out perhaps, but a lot was put back in to overpriced larger houses. Real estate people made more money, but that is a small percentage.

The lesson is don't create artificial bubbles just to keep real estate and oil people happy. It is unsustainable and we should all know that. There is a difference between spending and investing, a BIG difference.

Seeking a bit of advice. I'd like to construct a time series data set looking at the "average" barrel of oil produced/consumed has evolved over time. I'm working on a hypothesis at the intersection of monetary economics and energy markets. More specifically, how global demand increases and production cost increases are/will impact markets/policy regimes.

But I'm a bit stuck on how to proxy the production cost for the average barrel of oil.

I have in mind that it would be easiest to breakdown the largest 10 or so producers, and estimate an aggregate production cost of their largest fields. Scaling that to the share of their oil consumed globally. Does this make sense? What am I missing? I figure this is the best site for this type of query. Hopefully someone can give me a nudge in the right direction. Thanks!

p - I'm having a bit of trouble following: by "producers" do you mean countries or companies? And production cost: what they spent to drill the producing wells or what it is costing to produce those wells? Largest fields: current flow rate or cumulative production?

I guess I'm a bit confused myself in how to approach this. Here is the concept that I have:

I want to look at how the "average barrel of oil" has evolved. Demand side, who is demanding it and the implications of this change. Supply side, how expensive is the average barrel to produce, and the implications of this change.

So on the production side: It would incorporate both countries and companies. I had thought data by country would be easier to find, but now that you mention that, perhaps it would be alot easier to estimate costs based on the largest companies. (Do the publish specifics on their costs of production?)

As for fields, I want to capture how our use of the "easiest" oil has and will impact us. This might well be captured in the data for the operating costs of Oil Companies (if that data exists) if not then, I'd look to estimate how the cost of producing these largest fields has evolved over time (incorporating the changing spot flow rate and the cumulative production/depletion)

In terms of production costs, ideally I'd like to aggregate both drill costs and production costs into a single variable, "the avg barrel of oil' (with drill costs lagged somehow), but that would be a secondary concern. I'll certainly need seperate data on both.

p – Even calling your task monumental would be an understatement IMHO. It sounds like you’re beginning to see that. As Rocky says you can probably forget about getting much information, reliable and otherwise, from most foreign countries. So let’s focus on the most available and transparent data base out there: Texas. But here’s the problem even with that. I could show you two different companies each producing X bbls of oil daily in Texas. You can get that monthly data for free from the Texas Rail Road Commission dating back to 1973. Here’s the problem: Company A spent $Y to drill their wells and Company B spent 1.5 X $Y to drill theirs. But even with public companies it will be difficult to tell with much accuracy how much each spent to drill their currently producing wells. But that just covers their costs to drill. How much do they spend every month to produce those wells? We call that LOE: Lease Operating Expense. Company A may have spent less money to drill their wells but those same wells cost 30% more in LOE than Company B’s LOE. More complications: Company A barges their oil to Lake Charles, La. (like I do) and gets paid $105/bbl as LLS (Light La. Sweet). Company B, producing in west Texas, sells it oil at a price closer to WTI which is running around $20/bbl less than Company A is getting.

As complicated as that may seem it’s much simpler than what’s going on around the rest of the world. And infinitely more transparent and available data then then you’ll find anywhere. Good luck, amigo.

And "easy oil"? In my 37 years not once have I seen an example of easy oil. It migtht have cost less per bbl to find/develop Field X 40 years ago then to find that same field today. Or, adjusted for inflation, it might cost the same to find a field of equal size today. But it was never easy to find. Just fewer such fields to find today. But this is where the concept of "easy" gets confusing. With modern technology, especially 3d seiesmic, its much easier to find an oil/NG field today then it was 40 years ago. For instance I can map an area with a 3d seimic work station in one month that would have taken 5 geophysicists 6 months to do 40 years ago. And do it with much greater accuracy. I know I can confuse folks but generating a viable oil/NG prospect has never been easier than it is today. The problem is that there are much fewer prospects to find. This is one reason the shale plays are so hot. They aren't so much prospects as a trend play: you get your leases and then drill to find out how much you might produce. With a conventional prospect you find a promising location and estimate what it might contain and then you drill to find out how much, if any, of that oil/NG is there.

Any thoughts on a less exact method? Do you think I have any hope in constructing this concept in a less scientific and more coneceptual manner? ie: discussion of the composition of oil hitting the market (eia's import composition by API as a loose example) where heavier oil, tight oil, offshore oil, is increasing in market share at the expense of more conventional plays? Am I way off base with the basic assumption that the production cost of the average barrel of oil is increasing?

My take away from your and Rocky's response, is that something very comprehensive is out of the question based on the never ending variables, and the lack of data to fit those variables to.

All of which I see and agree with. So as an economist my next plan is to oversimplify and assume away the difficulty to the point of perhaps not being useful!

p - I would go whole hog on the conceptual approach. The data base just isn't there in sufficient detail to allowing anything close to a true "scientic" analysis IMHO. If you can absorb enough of the flavor of the system a well thoughtout concept with some supporting data would sway me more than some statistic run to 3 decimal places based upon data I have little confidence in to begin with.

Rockman, do you mind explaining what you mean by a "trend play"?

I thought it was simply a group of closely-related oil fields, but I see it might be a sort of underground ridgeline beneath which oil can be expected.

Aardi – Despite we (including me) talk about the Eagle Ford Field et al there is no EFS field by the conventional use of that term in the oil patch. In Texas there is no Eagle Ford Field: there are about 15 different areas that are defined by the TRRC as this field or that field. Yet none of those areas are fields either. They are arbitrary delineations for regulatory reasons. The X Field will butt right up against the line between it and the Y Field.

A field is typically defined as a concentration of individual reservoirs. A reservoir is a continuous accumulation of a body of oil/NG. In the shale trends there is no reservoir per se. The oil is trapped in the fractures. The shale in the Eagle Ford, the Marcellus, etc produces no oil: the permeability of that shale rock is much too low to flow any meaningful amount of oil/NG. The shale is the source of the oil/NG…not the reservoir. The reservoir being produced are those cracks (fractures) in the shale. This explains why initial flow rates are so high (fractures tend to have the best permeability) and such rapid decline rates (the fracture volume is very low compared to the volume of shale). Essentially a very big hole in a very small bucket. The production extends no further than those fractures extend. Picture thousands of small buckets with big holes in them. It’s certainly possible for more than one well to be producing from the same group of fractures…which is not a good thing for the operator. Picture one small bucket with two big holes in it. One well will drain a local fracture system…two wells split that recovery and reduce the profit per well. That’s what determine how close a company will drill their wells. The last thing they want is to have more than one well draining the same fractures. In the sense one could consider each shale well as its own field.

That’s why I call it a trend. The EFS wells are producing from the Eagle Ford FORMATION. For the last 3 days I’ve been on a well in La. that looking for a potential new reservoir in the Cris R (named after a fossil) TREND in the Napoleonville FIELD. The Cris R TREND is defined as that region that contains FIELDS producing from the Cris R FORMATION. I’m trying to find an unproduced RESERVOIR in this FIELD which sits in this TREND. There you go…clear as mud, eh? LOL.

Thanks. I understand. Er, well, sorta.

There is no data for the "average" barrel of oil. Every well has a different production cost. Globally, you can't get the data for the largest producers because, for instance in Saudi Arabia it is a state secret, and Russia is not really a society where information is freely exchanged.

Production cost is also not the main criterion for sales price. Most of the world's conventional oil is owned by OPEC countries, and OPEC is a cartel dedicated to obtaining the highest price possible regardless of costs.

I know I'll have to construct this average myself. And, as you mention, its going to be pretty hard to get anywhere near exact on this. Any thoughts on how I might be able to proxy this?

My initial thought was that with countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, I might be estimate these variables by estimating the API on their largest fields to the best of my ability, using comparables with better data.

My basic working thesis would be that, if demand is becoming more inelastic, and with production costs constraining downward price movements (rising production costs, due to depletion of high API oil, etc.) this market will not be able to adjust as freely as it had in the past (price spikes in booms, and reductoins in bottoms).

p – I think there’s another potential problem with your thesis: “...and with production costs constraining downward price movements (rising production costs, due to depletion of high API oil, etc.). Again I’m going to assume by production cost you mean what it costs to drill a well. Such costs have never and will never constrain price movement in any direction. I can spend the same $X to drill two wells to each produce Y bbls of oil per day. The wells might represent a full development cost of $50 a bbl for the first and the second at $150/bbl. I’m selling the oil from both wells to the same crude buyer. He’ll pay me what the market price is at the time. And that price will have no relationship to what it cost me to develop those reserves. Other factors completely independent of my costs determine the price of oil. OTOH the market price (or more correctly the anticipated price) of oil exerts a great constraint over what I spend to develop oil reserves. If I project a project will cost me $100/bbl to develop and I’m anticipating a $90/ market I won’t likely drill it. OTOH if I had anticipated a $120/bbl market, drilled the well and ended up in an $80/bbl I would very likely produce and sell every bbl I could at that price because my LOE is only $30/bbl: a good positive cash flow on a money losing well.

A good example is the east Texas shale gas boom. Many wells were drilled anticipating $10/mcf+. $billions spent by the oil patch. Many of those wells were still producing when prices dropped close to $2/mcf. Many of those wells won’t recover 100% of their cost. Perhaps you understand this dynamic very well. Just wasn’t sure from the way you phrased it.

Very Interesting, thanks for the feedback. I do understand the concepts behind operating expenses and upfront expenses. But I'm learning a great deal about how these are applied in this industry. Very helpful.

My Thesis is still very much being worked on, (and worked over!). I'm still clinging on here a bit: would I have any chance at establishing how the evolving relative weight of the different types of oil hitting the market affect supply side costs? It seems like a fundamental shift to me (perhaps my use of the term production is incorrect) With projections of heavy oil increasing in market share (am I incorrect about this?) does this not imply that companies are pricing in $x/bbl to exceed the more expensive break even $/bbl for unconventional projects? With more unconvential projects being undertaken, I'm left to assume that companies (in addition to gaining new tech.) anticipate higher $/bbl then in the past. Am I correct?

This implies changes to both the demand side of the market, as well as the supply side. My working assumption is that the demand side is becoming more inelastic as developing nations increase their share of consumption. And something has to be moving the supply side as well. I was under the assumption that we've been using up the "easier" oil and are tapping into "less easy" oil. Haha, both terms that I now realize I was simplifying more then I had thought.

The global world oil production is indeed becoming heavier and heavier. That is because the supplies of light oil are becoming exhausted, and all that is left is heavy oil. There is quite a bit more heavy oil in the world than light oil, but the light oil was produced first because it is cheaper. Heavy oil can require special techniques to produce it. A lot of the world's heavy oil is so heavy that it won't even flow into a wellbore or through a pipeline without being heated or diluted with solvents.

In fact, both the amount of Canadian bitumen (incorrectly referred to as "tar") and also Venezuelan "extra heavy" oil exceeds the amount of conventional oil in the world. However, it is very difficult and expensive to produce. It is very capital-intensive to produce this oil, so Canadian production is only very slowly increasing, while Venezuelan production is actually declining.

Since most of the world's oil is now under the control of the National Oil Companies like Saudi Aramco, Iranian National Oil Company, and PDVSA (Venezuela), and they don't really care about conventional economics, production has become disconnected from price. Consumption in those countries has also become disconnected from price because they sell their oil products to their own citizens at discounted prices. This is becoming a serious problem because they are consuming their own oil at an increasingly rapid rate and as a result their exports are falling - Westexas has evaluated this problem in considerable detail.

I wouldn't say demand for oil is becoming less elastic. I would say it is very inelastic in the short term (e.g. 1 year) and very elastic in the long term (e.g. 10-20 years). People tend to believe that either we can replace oil with e.g. electric vehicles in a short period of time, or that we can't replace oil at all, and neither is correct.

I never considered the implications of State run oil companies and the impact that would have on production decisions. Obviously a big oversight. I will dig into westexas's analysis. It still seems like your description should still lead to a fundamental supply curve shift, regardless of how "perfect" the markets are functioning. Have I misunderstood your post? I'm seeing that anything truly "scientific" is out of the question for my analysis. However, as I'm from an economics background I can talk in generalities about the evolving nature of the "average" oil we consume. Do you think my general, "we are consuming increasingly costly oil to produce" statement would be way off base as a starting point?

Do you think there's anything to this hypothesis re: demand: Chindia uses a relatively larger amount of their oil consumption for long lead investment purposes relative to developed nations (unsubstantiated, but a starting point as i begin my research); the longer the lead and, as the greater the "need" to maintain/increase consumption (China's government relies on a certain level of growth to maintain the status quo, which requires a certain level of inputs to maintain) the greater the inelasticity. As Chindia's share of global consumption grows, following these assumptions, the demand inelasticity incresases. Haha, alot of assumptions I know... just a thought experiment for now.

The national oil companies (Saudi Aramco, PDVSA, etc) are becoming increasingly important in the world oil trade, whereas international oil companies (Exxon, Shell, etc) control a smaller and smaller share of it. The result is that classical economics is less relevant and national politics more important in determining oil production and price.

Yes, oil is becoming more expensive to produce. The oil companies took the rational approach and produced the cheap oil first. What is left is becoming more and more expensive as the cheap resources are used up.

China and India are growing quite rapidly and their oil consumption is rising fast. Their consumption is quite inefficient and they have large opportunities for improvement. However, they have a large value added in their oil consumption, so they can outbid Americans and Europeans for oil. In a nutshell.

I should also add: my interest in that demand elasticity is that I'm quite convinced in the importance in wether that short term inelasticity is changing or not. I think if it went from 1 year to 1.5 years it is quite significant when we face a downturn like we are now. Is this the case? How big is the impact? Well i guess that's for me to find out!

demand compliance could decrease as price increases in any particular country ie at $120 there are less optional uses than there was at $60.

I can spend the same $X to drill two wells to each produce Y bbls of oil per day. The wells might represent a full development cost of $50 a bbl for the first and the second at $150/bbl. I’m selling the oil from both wells to the same crude buyer. He’ll pay me what the market price is at the time. And that price will have no relationship to what it cost me to develop those reserves. Other factors completely independent of my costs determine the price

But the cost of an average oil well in the world will ultimately determine the minimum price you'll receive for your oil. You cannot continually receive less money for your oil than it cost you to extract that oil because you'll eventually go broke and stop producing any oil at all. And after you go broke, the next guy/gal standing will have less competition and will therefore be able to charge more for his/her oil. So yes, the average cost of drilling a well does affect the oil price. Over the long run (it does take time to go broke), the higher the drilling cost per barrel, the high the price per barrel, which is what's happening right now. I haven't talked about the demand side yet....

Frugal – The folks who buy my oil have no idea what it cost me to produce that bbl. More important if they did they still would adjust the price they pay me. Yes: a company can continually receive less money than it cost them to develop that oil” would you like a long list of companies that don’t exist today for that very reason? LOL. Yes: the strong but the crippled more control of the market…but not much more IMHO. Can we say ExxonMobil? Such acquisitions have been the prime growth machine for Big Oil from the earliest days of the oil patch.

Absolutely not: my cost to drill a well has no bearing at all for what I sell the product. A year ago I drilled a well that should have cost $8 million but drilling problems ran the cost up to $19.7 million. Additionally we didn’t find as much as we had hoped. We’ll not make enough to pay for the original cost. I’m selling that NG/condensate today for the same amount whether I spent $8 million, $19.7 million or $1.

“…the higher the drilling cost per barrel, the high the price per barrel, which is what's happening right now”. If so how do you explain the current low cost of NG? It cost no less to drill a dry NG shale will today than it did in ’08 when NG was over $12/mcf yet NG is currently selling for about 70% less. So there is a time lag that affects the price of oil/NG: eventually the low price of NG today will eventually (many years IMHO) show up in higher NG prices as reserves deplete with little drilling. At that time NG drill rig count will increase.

Again I know it’s difficult to accept but think of other industries. You’re a house builder in ’07 and your cost for a new home was $X per sq. ft. After you’re finished building and go to sell that the house the market has collapsed and you have to sell at 80% of $X/sq ft. And guess what: you’re not going to build another house (or drill a NG well) until the return exceeds the cost.

Coal use is growing again, or maybe growing still would be more accurate.


Back to Pliocene weather.

"The global average temperature in the mid-Pliocene (3.3 mya - 3 mya) was 2-3°C higher than today, global sea level 25 m higher and Northern hemisphere ice sheet ephemeral "


Temperatures will be fine provided most of the increase stays in the polar regions, but investing in houseboats and Greenland real-estate could be a good financial strategy.

Golden-Sacks must have a way to play this.

"Golden-Sacks must have a way to play this."

The olde they got us here so they must know how to get us out thingy.

Already on a cursory glance at the beep half-truths kept popping up, unsurpisingly so;)

1) Ww coal use can be guesstimated to be declining slightly this year from


(scroll for Coke and more importantly Output of Thermal Power) and


These need to be picking up again fow wwc growth, actually the moment when they will and by how much should be of interest to the PO community.

2) A link to one my earlier posts for the coal story in the EU which is likely behind the hype in this article. (Oops, its Update: paragraph is still uncorrect: Production minus net exports should read Consumption except for electricity where production minus net exports is used . Not only the BBC...)


With steel and cement production both showing high and accelerating growth rates in that table, I think there is good reason to guesstimate increasing coal use.

Corps cuts flow on Missouri River despite pleas from Mississippi River shippers

ST. LOUIS - The Army Corps of Engineers on Friday began reducing the flow from a Missouri River reservoir, a move expected to worsen low water conditions on the Mississippi River and potentially bring barge traffic to a halt within weeks.

One result of this year's drought, the worst in decades, has been a big drop in water levels on both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

...The Mississippi is nearing historic lows between St. Louis and Cairo, Ill. Barges are already required to carry lighter loads and the middle of the river could be closed to barge traffic if the water level at St. Louis dips below minus 5 feet. It was at minus 0.45 feet Friday.

A zero river reading at St. Louis was established more than a century ago. It's the point at which people at that time thought the river would never drop below.

Also in the news;

Babcock and Wilcox wants to build (with government help) "modular nuclear reactors"


Which leads to


And for reference, we have the old standby, which we know works rather well, and has about the same power output;


So they are planning to build a low-enrichment version of a carrier reactor. The good news is that small reactors do not need boron in the coolant, so they can load follow. Bad news is they still are not going to be cost competitive. the bean counters wouldn't even build the AP-650 because it was "too small." Given the paperwork load is the same regardless of the size, a 180 MW plant is going to be operating under an even bigger cost disadvantage.

OTOH there are places like mines that use expensive diesel generators rated at a few hundred MW. The mini nukes could be more economical particularly if combined with desalination. Another big advantage of small reactors should be offsite prefabrication followed by quick assembly onsite. In contrast the monolithic Areva EPR builds in France and Finland have taken too long. No doubt their levelised cost of electricity is much greater than originally planned. Therefore the small reactors could work out competitively priced if installed on time and on budget.

In Australia it is becoming clearer that coal and coal seam gas represent a double threat to security of water supply, since
1) fugitive methane and chimney stack carbon dioxide are greenhouse gases affecting rainfall
2) ground water may be changed by drilling or mining to the detriment of farmers.

The 5 minute clip in this link
shows how urban sprawl in Sydney is encroaching on farmland giving rise to land use conflict. We want acreage to build new homes for a growing population yet we also want cheap food. If that land has coal beneath it we also want the cheap energy from coal or CSG. Maybe we want too much from a finite planet.

Removing storm debris, while preventing fraud, turns out to be rather complex and high-tech. Something about this complexity in the context of a disaster and the simple hauling of debris to a dump gives me bad vibes.

Wallace, an engineer, ... spent $60,000 developing custom software to digitally track debris trucks with barcode scanners, digital photos and global positioning systems. That data would then be wirelessly uploaded to a central database.

DebrisTech, one of a handful of private companies using the digital tracking software, leases out iPads loaded with its software to municipalities for $12 per device per day. Nassau County leased about 100 of DebrisTech's 120 devices, Iovino said.

The software also maps the locations of downed or removed trees using GPS coordinates. Iovino has plotted the GPS coordinates of each of the county's 2,641 downed trees...

"It's amazing what a difference this software has made," he said. "Now when anything is picked up on Nassau County property, we know the size of the truck, the percentage the truck is full, we've got a picture of the debris in the truck, which transfer site it went to, and where it is right now.

This video by David Roberts goes over some of the same territory of the Kevin Anderson one that I posted in the last Drum Beat, but more briefly and with a challenge at the end:


(For any who might have missed it last time, here is the link to the Anderson talk:


Both are well worth watching, imho, but only if you are ready for some uber-doom.)