Drumbeat: November 24, 2012

Japan Is Eager to Tap U.S. Natural-Gas Supply

TOKYO — Congress could still block efforts to expand exports of America’s newly abundant supplies of natural gas, but there’s no question where Japan stands on the prospect of ships carrying liquefied natural gas from the U.S. arriving at its shores.

“From all the aspects, U.S. LNG is a very, very shining treasure … for us,” said Hirohide Hirai, director of policy evaluation and public relations at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Gas prices off charts due to 2-tiered Canadian oil market

The difference in gasoline prices across Canada has hit its widest point in a decade because supply problems in the crude oil market have thrown the regular rules out the window, according to a report released today.

The Statistics Canada report released Friday shows how wildly different prices for crude oil that refineries across the country must pay are leading to drastically different pump prices in different parts of the country.

Musings: If You Believe The IEA, Our Energy Worries Are Over

Earlier this month, as part of its annual energy outlook, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published a study suggesting that by 2015 the United States will become the world's largest gas producer and by 2017 the largest oil producer if one includes crude oil, natural gas liquids and biofuels. That status, however, will be short-lived as Saudi Arabia is projected by the IEA to regain its number one oil producer position by about the mid 2020s. Given the growth in U.S. and Canadian hydrocarbon production in recent years, coupled with slowing demand growth, energy imports will fall until eventually North America becomes a net oil exporter about 2030 and the U.S. becomes nearly energy self-sufficient by 2035.

Oil Caps Weekly Gain on German Business Confidence

Oil capped the biggest weekly gain in more than a month as German business confidence unexpectedly rose in November, a signal Europe’s largest economy may expand.

Futures jumped 1 percent and the euro and equities rallied after the Munich-based Ifo institute’s business climate index climbed from the lowest level in two and a half years in October. Israeli troops fired on Palestinians near the Gaza Strip border, spurring accusations from both Israel and Hamas that a truce was breached.

Rig count finds exploratory wells for oil, gas in US up by 8 to 1,817

HOUSTON — The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose this week by eight, to 1,817.

Texas-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. reported Wednesday that 1,388 rigs were exploring for oil and 428 were searching for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, Baker Hughes counted 2,000 rigs. The tally, normally released on Friday, was advanced this week because of Thanksgiving.

Potential game changer: Direct cash transfers set to begin

New Delhi (IANS) In preparation for the launch of the UPA government's direct cash transfer (DCT) of subsidies and welfare schemes to millions of people, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will Monday hold the first meeting to roll out the ambitious project which it hopes would be a game changer for the government and the nation.

Petrobras Losing $8 Billion on Cheap Gasoline

Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4) is losing a record $8 billion at its refining unit this year as Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s battle with inflation means the state-run company must sell imported gasoline below cost.

Lacking refining capacity to meet demand, Petrobras increased gasoline imports 65 percent to 84,000 barrels a day in the third quarter, according to earnings statements. The imports, which the company sells at about 8 percent less than cost, caused year-to-date losses at its refining division to widen to 17.3 billion reais ($8.4 billion) from 10 billion reais for the whole of 2011.

Iran accuses US Navy of 'illegal' acts in Gulf

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Iran is accusing the U.S. Navy of carrying out "illegal and provocative acts" in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman.

In identical letters to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council, Iran's U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said the Navy repeatedly violated the country's airspace.

Egypt's top judges condemn Mohamed Morsi power grab

Egypt's most senior judges have condemned President Mohamed Morsi for granting himself sweeping new powers which they say amount to an "unprecedented assault" on the independence of the judiciary.

Israel eases Gaza border restrictions after Hamas truce deal

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Gaza residents said Saturday that Israel has eased some border restrictions as part of its truce with the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers, allowing farmers to visit land near its security fence and letting fishermen head further out to sea.

The Egyptian-brokered cease-fire ended eight days of cross-border fighting that claimed 166 Palestinian and six Israeli lives, according to health officials.

John Michael Greer: In the Twilight of Empires

The arrogant certainty that the state could always overcome its enemies and that the Western powers owed it the subsidies that paid for its survival put bitter icing on an already overbaked cake, and all but guaranteed the final disaster.

And that, dear reader, was why the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem fell to the armies of Saladin in 1187, and why the last scraps of the kingdoms of Outremer, as the Crusaders called the land now known as Israel, were mopped up by Muslim armies over the century that followed.

Now I’m quite aware that comparing the current state of Israel to the Crusader states of Outremer is waving a red flag at some already overexcited bulls. Any of my readers who are ready to leap up and insist that Israel either can or can’t be compared to the Crusaders on moral grounds are encouraged to stop, and remember that that’s not what we’re talking about. The relative moral standing of Crusaders and Israelis is irrelevant to the issues this post is trying to discuss; what’s relevant is that, in the purely pragmatic realms of politics and war, there are a great many parallels between the two examples.

Investment Ideas From IEA's World Energy Outlook

While the news on United Sates oil production garnered most of the attention, the report also made other projections that a long-term investor should pay heed to. While one can speculate on the accuracy of some of the specific numbers, the trends in some areas are undeniable.

Corbett optimistic about Pa. petrochemical plant

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett says that he met with leaders of oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell and that their preliminary plans to build a multibillion-dollar petrochemical refinery in western Pennsylvania are on track, a newspaper reported Friday.

Fracking industry keeps eye on Obama

The drilling process that has brought U.S. energy independence within reach faces renewed scrutiny from the Obama administration and an uncertain future in many states.

Oil and gas industry leaders remain enthusiastic yet cautious that hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” will be fully embraced by the newly re-elected President Obama and state leaders.

Ways to control your gas costs

You can cut your tab for gasoline in two ways: Use less of it and pay less for what you use.

Leave behind what you don't need. An extra 100 pounds reduces fuel economy by up to 2 percent, according to the Energy Department. Don't leave your car idling -- it can use up to a half-gallon of fuel per hour. And slow down. Fuel economy gets worse quickly at speeds over 50 mph.

Boy doused with gasoline after he tries to stop man from siphoning from cars

TARPON SPRINGS — A man who was trying to siphon fuel from a parked car early Friday morning is facing a child abuse charge after he poured some of the stolen gasoline on a child's head, according to Tarpon Springs police.

Texas Department of Transportation sees whether it's easy being 'green'

IRVING -- Few government agencies rack up miles like the Texas Department of Transportation -- and now the leadership is trying to go a bit greener.

This month, four Ford F-250 pickups powered by compressed natural gas were rolled out as part of a pilot program to see whether more of the department's fleet of roughly 10,000 vehicles can use something other than gasoline or diesel.

Great goal – but crazy regulators

Next week, Chrysler Group LLC will unveil a new car that executives expect few customers to buy, and few dealers to order, according to The Wall Street Journal. But this failure has a perverse bright side, because Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne expects to lose up to $9,000 on each one he sells.

Has this crafty CEO, the savior of Fiat and Chrysler, lost his mind? No, he’s just struggling under another load of faith-based regulation from California officials.

Another Path to Biofuels

The path to profitability, according to the company, is raising the amount of algae produced per unit of area. Algae grows in ponds, but that turns out to require a lot of space: sunlight does not penetrate more than a couple of inches, so the ponds must have big surfaces. The problem is that the carbon dioxide injected to promote algae growth tends to escape from a big surface.

SEE Algae’s solution is a silo that is 16 feet tall and has a volume of 177 cubic feet. Sunlight is directed all over the inside of the silo by optical fiber technology. Because the light is coming from multiple directions, the hardware can produce algae at a density up to 20 times greater than can be generated on a pond, according to Joachim Grill, the company’s chief executive.

Solar energy sector lights up in California

The majority of today’s small-scale PV installations in California are turnkey operations provided by private renewable energy (RE) companies. At least three-fourths of the solar residential market opted for solar service and third party-owned systems over private control and operation in a survey of the 13 highest-growth solar cities of California. These findings, from a spring 2012 study by PV Solar Report, also observed a decline from the previous year in the average household median-income of these PV-propping zones.

We're living the dream; we just don't realize it

Over the past two decades, what have the U.S. trends been for the following important measures of social health: high school dropout rates, college enrollment, juvenile crime, drunken driving, traffic deaths, infant mortality, life expectancy, per capita gasoline consumption, workplace injuries, air pollution, divorce, male-female wage equality, charitable giving, voter turnout, per capita GDP and teen pregnancy?

The answer for all of them is the same: The trend is positive. Almost all those varied metrics of social wellness have improved by more than 20% over the past two decades.

...Even though the world's population has doubled over the past 50 years, the percentage living in poverty has declined by 50% over that period. Infant mortality and life expectancy have improved by more than 40% in Latin America since the early 1990s. No country in history has improved its average standard of living faster than China has over the past two decades.

After Storm, Dry Floors Prove Value of Exceeding City Code

Reviewing projections for local sea-level rise, the company and its architects decided to elevate portions of the site to heights exceeding city requirements by four feet. Using recycled glass and crushed rock discarded from projects like the Second Avenue subway line, they raised the foundation for the plant’s four buildings and a dock.

The fill added $550,000 to the plant’s costs of around $100 million, said Thomas Outerbridge, Sims Metal’s general manager.

But it proved more than worth it. When a 12-foot storm surge swept through nearby streets and parking lots on Oct. 29, the plant’s dock and partly completed buildings did not flood.

Coastal Erosion Reaches Alarming Levels in Vietnam

Vietnam has long been subject to typhoons that would typically lash the central coast and the Mekong River Delta. But in the last several years those typhoons have become even more intense and, accompanied by a rising sea level, have put coastal areas and communities in the Mekong Delta at great risk.

Indeed, a December 2010 World Bank report said that Vietnam is experiencing longer typhoon and flood seasons while "storms are tracking into new coastal areas".

Plan B Updates

In the early decades of the twentieth century, earnest settlers of the semi-arid Plains, along with opportunistic “suitcase farmers” out to make a quick dollar, plowed under millions of acres of native prairie grass. Assured that “rain follows the plow,” and lured by government incentives, railroad promises, and hopes of carving out a place for their families, these farmers embraced the newly available tractors, powerful plows, and mechanized harvesters to turn over the sod that had long sustained Native American tribes and millions of bison.

Will US role at climate talks change after storm?

STOCKHOLM (AP) — During a year with a monster storm and scorching heat waves, Americans have experienced the kind of freakish weather that many scientists say will occur more often on a warming planet.

And as a re-elected president talks about global warming again, climate activists are cautiously optimistic that the U.S. will be more than a disinterested bystander when the U.N. climate talks resume Monday with a two-week conference in Qatar.

Encouraging news with regards to the Philips L-Prize lamp:

DOE updates the latest L Prize lamp test results, rebate offers
The US Department of Energy continues to test the Philips Lighting LED retrofit lamp that won the L Prize with no failures reported over more than 20,000 hours of operation.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released another update of its testing of the Philips Lighting LED 60W-equivalent retrofit lamp that won the L Prize. The tests have reached what the agency considers the equivalent of 18 years of household use with no failures. The DOE also released a summary of rebates available for the solid-state lighting (SSL) product that range as high as $20 per lamp.

After 20,000 hours of operation, the full lot of 200 sample lamps are all still operating. Moreover, the DOE said that average lumen maintenance remains above 100% of their initial output. The tests are being conducted in an environment where the ambient temperature is maintained at 45°C.

See: http://ledsmagazine.com/news/9/11/13

I've specified five or six hundred of these 9.7-watt L-Prize lamps in our retrofit work to date, in some cases replacing 100-watt incandescent lamps. As others have reported here, it's an outstanding product.



Do you have a website for your business? I was interested in finding out more about it.

I recently purchased one of these L-Prize bulbs, they are quite nice, though a bit pricey compared to a cfl.

If light quality is important, I believe the L Prize bulbs are a better choice than a cfl, environmentally they are nice as well due to the lack of mercury.


Hi DC,

In fairness to the other members of this forum, I want to avoid any appearance of self-promotion. However, I can tell you that my firm is one of three delivery agents for Efficiency Nova Scotia's Small Business Energy Solutions programme and that our designated territory encompasses one-half of the province's population. Formerly known as the Small Business Lighting Solutions programme, the name was subsequently changed to reflect the inclusion of other energy saving measures such as ductless heat pumps and heat pump water heaters.

Although my primary responsibility and that of my team pertains to the small business side (i.e., customers that use 350,000 kWh/year or less), we also do larger commercial and industrial retrofits. The workload can be at times gruelling (fourteen and sixteen hour days, pretty much seven days a week, with no holidays in six years), but I love every minute of it.


Good to see that they are letting Canadians buy L-Prize bulbs now.

Another plus - assembled in the USA :-)

Any rumors from Philips about extending the watt range ? Larger & smaller models ?

Best Hopes for more,


I was told that Philips has no immediate plans to distribute the L-Prize lamp in Canada and as far as I know, I'm the only one who is ordering them north of the 49.

I haven't heard any rumours about expanding the L-Prize up or down the wattage scale, but I wouldn't be surprised if that should happen at some future date as manufacturing costs continue to fall and the marketplace becomes increasingly competitive (for the moment, GE is MIA and Osram-Sylvania's offerings are rather ho-hum).


I finally got the attic insulation finished, it took a number of years I confess. (I'm worse than usual at finishing what I start.) Now at least R66 in attic in Saskatchewan. Windows now triple glazed, low-e, argon filled. Weatherstripped the doors and blocked a few very annoying drafts (I hate drafts). We are now much more toasty and comfy. Furballs approve.

Will have a wood stove installed in basement this winter for emergency heat. I have to have the roof redone next summer, will finish some attic sealing bits by pulling roof sheathing. Will have the gutters redone and put rain barrels everywhere to collect garden water. Then save money to yank off the stucco and install wall insulation to at least R25. Meanwhile change appliances to higher efficiency as they kick the bucket. As well, figure out enough PV to install a simple off-grid system on the garage roof to give us a little emergency power.
I figure I should get all this done about the time I die. ;^)
It's not the destination that counts, it's the journey...

Insulate the beedroom, get a nice woman and you are in for a nicer ride.

Wow, what a great idea! Thanks!

Mostly due to your experience and advocacy, my wife and I have decided that from now on we'll do mini-splits. For a new house, this would seem pretty easy. Any notion of how well they can be back-integrated into traditional furnace homes?

I have an upstairs and a rent house that need new units. In our house, the ends are either hot or cold as the sun tracks across, so I think separate mini-splits would like be efficient and more comfortable.

Any recommendations about locating the compressor unit? Our zoned units are in the "proper" location for our neighborhood -- next to the garage on the most unsightly end of the house. I've got long tubing runs already, plus long ducts. Is it possible do a house-wall or attic installation? Is it better to go for more units or fewer units with multiple splits?

"Any recommendations about locating the compressor unit?"

My ductless heat pump (24,000 BTU/hr using R410A) has a one way tubing length of 165 ft, or 50 meters. I don't think distance will be an issue. You are also allowed 15 bends in the tubing. And a difference of 100 ft in elevation between inside and outside units.

One other note of interest, especially given the news lately, "Do not install in locations where combustible gasses may leak, flow, be produced, or accumulate." So it's not intrinsically safe or rated for Class 1 Div 2 service.

Also "avoid locations where the unit could be covered in snow." It doesn't work from inside a snowbank either :-)

Hi Paleo,

Our two units each serve a single floor and they're located at opposite ends of our home. The compressor for our main floor unit is installed on a stand that sits on a concrete pad and is largely hidden by shrubbery. The other compressor is mounted to the wall a half metre above grade level and, again, mostly hidden from street view. If you do opt for a wall mount installation, bear in mind there is the possibility for noise transmission (at certain compressor speeds, ours will rattle the dishes and glassware in our kitchen cupboards and so I need to add additional rubber isolators).

From the perspective of installed cost, operating efficiency, but mostly aesthetics, I 'd try to avoid long runs that require visually intrusive channels. I also prefer single zone systems because a single common element such as failed control board won't take down your entire system. If you live in a cold climate, try to place the compressor where it will be sheltered from the prevailing winds and falling ice.

There are concealed duct mini-split systems that can be installed inside an attic space (e.g., http://www.sanyohvac.com/products.php?id=36UHW72R). The big advantage here is that there are no "ugly boxes" hanging on the wall, you can supply heat and coolth to two or more rooms, and you can run the refrigeration lines where they won't be seen, then drop them down to wherever you want to place the outdoor compressor.

For the first twenty-four days of this month, our two ductless systems have consumed a combined total of 298.0 kWh of electricity and supplied an estimated 855 kWh of space heating; at 13.8-cents per kWh, that puts our space heating costs at $41.13. Fuel oil in these parts currently retails for $1.086 per litre/$4.11 per US gallon, so our operating costs during this time would be on par with that of an oil-fired heating system consuming an average of 1.6 litres/0.42 gallons of fuel oil per day (forty-four year old, 2,500 sq. ft. Cape Cod).

For additional details, see: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/2012-11-24.jpg


You need to to do a Manual J heat & cooling load calculation for each part of the house and for different parts of the day. You are an engineer, so DIY. This will help understanding.

All mini-splits AFAIK are ductless - air handler hangs off the wall. You can leave old ducts in place and turn on air handler of old system occasionally (perhaps automatic cycling) to even things out if that becomes as issue (wasted energy on fan though). Just a CYA option.

The choices are the more efficient one compressor/condenser outside and one evaporator/air handler inside. Lots more electrical wiring (I can pull a home owner's permit and do it myself, can you ?), but short copper freon runs. Maximum efficiency and redundancy. SEER 25 & 26 available (Fujitsu).

Other option is multiple air handlers/condenser. More freon copper tubing, less wiring.

BTW, Trane now has SEER 21 central unit available. There may be better, but I have not heard of them.

An engineering design problem :-))

EMail me if you have more questions,


Hi Alan,

Actually, concealed duct mini-splits are fairly common (e.g., www.youtube.com/watch?v=orRJiutO9t0&playnext=1&list=PLA971E7ABE97C6D3A).

Also, by replacing the PSC fan motor on your central air handling system with a variable speed ECM motor, you can run your central fan on low to even out temperatures throughout the home and the total draw will likely fall between 60 and 100-watts. Great way to handle temperature stratification between floors and uneven passive solar gains.


I am very familiar with ECM motors. The dealer cost for a replacement is about $700 (this does not include controls, installation cost or mark-up).

I would favor an ordinary fan set on the lowest setting, cycled off & on with a timer.

But evening out temperatures in the house is what they would do well.

Best Hopes for Efficiency,


Hi Alan,

Reportedly, supplier cost on the Concept 3 is less than $180.00.

See: http://www.proctoreng.com/c3motor.html


Thanks, guys.

I have an ECM downstairs, but I think I need a better thermostat solution as the room differential now is actually worse than before unless I keep the fan forced to "low". On "auto" it cycles rarely enough to exchange the hot/cold zones, while the previous unit blasted air whenever it cycled. Variable speed (as advertized) seems to make humidity control much more effective as well.

In one install we put an Fujitsu 12RLS2 unit in a closet that bordered 3 rooms. Open Antique grills supplied each room and pressurized (return air) the closet with this.
The RLS Series 2 has programable auto occupancy setback. These units are super for humidity control on the Gulf coast. You can get the RH below 55% in the Summer which was previous not possible. Got Global warming?

"In our house, the ends are either hot or cold as the sun tracks across,"

Your comment speaks to either windows or insulation issues. I'd suggest you look at window films, Low-E storm windows or perhaps, if your windows are shot, replacement with the best windows you can afford.

Similarly, check your insulation levels. Attics are especially easy and economical to improve.

These improvements will improve your comfort, stabilize interior temperature fluctuations and perhaps allow you to use smaller mini-splits.

Good luck

One of the biggest bangs for the buck is interior storm windows you can make your own or buy after market .They not only cut energy bills but also cut sound.

Ran across a site that did a partial teardown on an L-prize bulb: http://www.molalla.net/members/leeper/L%20prize%20bulb.htm

They are still expensive, but Home Depot is selling them for $30 now. Better than the $50 they were selling for when they first hit the stores.

I still haven't bought any yet, I'm waiting for my last couple spare CFLs to get installed.

I note that these aren't recommended for enclosed fixtures - any good low-wattage bulbs for those?

Also, are there any good LED floods with very wide beams? I have one application which is currently using a R40 23W 1200 lumen CFL flood in a 6" can where performance is good except for slow warmup times when it's cold.

Hi drees,

Philips sells BR30 and BR40 LED replacement lamps that provide a 90 degree beam spread (e.g., http://www.homedepot.com/buy/philips-14-watt-75w-led-br40-flood-soft-whi...). Personally, I'm not a big fan of BR lamps, but they do broadcast light over a much wider area.


Thanks for the suggestion - I actually do have the 13W BR30 730 lumen bulb in my kitchen where it works well, but I have my doubts that the 14W BR40 800 lumen bulb will have sufficient light output when replacing a 23W CFL rated at 1200 lumens (when new anyway).

There is a 19.5W PAR38 1100 lumen bulb, but it doesn't have the newer diffuser, so I'm skeptical that this one is a true flood light like the others. I may just have to try it - if it works out it will reduce power consumption of the fixture by 10%.

Thanks for letting Me know the price had dropped to $30.
Christmas shopping made easy, everyone gets an L-prize.

Paul, what do you think of induction lamps? They are a variant of a fluorescent lamp, coupling the energy into the tube via a magnetic field instead of electrodes, so the phenomenon of electrode sputtering which usually limits the life of fluorescent tubes is avoided.

Some samples of this kind of light are here:


I have been tracking the LED units, I love these tiny 10-watt modules I can build into other things....


Gotta know how to solder, though. A little solder, a dab of silicone sealant, and you are good to go.

If I get the higher watt versions, or run these at full power, I seem to get heat problems, so I deliberately run them at half power so I can adequately heat sink them onto their mounting surface. I use the white silicone thermal compound commonly used for mounting Pentiums to their heat sink. I have taken a liking to mounting a row of ten-watt emitters inside of aluminum unistrut channel to make a concealed light emitter. Their low voltage operation makes them very attractive to make combination utility lighting / emergency lighting units. They seem to parallel nicely, albeit I still use balancing resistors just to make sure.

These things appear to be hermetically sealed. I will prepare a few of these for use on a boat, subjected to salt water. I am quite interested in how well they survive in hostile marine environments.

The LED arrays I mention seem to be three rows of three LED's in series. They claim to run from 12 volts, but please use appropriate drivers - connection to a raw 12 volt source such as a lead-acid battery is likely to result in disappointment. The raw LED's have no protection from overcurrent or overtemp.

They are so small and easy to hide. Not only that, they come in colors. If you can accommodate their electrical drive and heat sinking requirements, one can get quite arty with these. Isn't it amazing how much light you can get for 10 watts?

A local shoe store ( Shoe Palace ) recently installed lots of LED lighting and they ran them quite hot. About 10% or so of their emitters have already failed. So, if I am building stuff with LED's - especially if it goes into a hard-to-access place, I aim for at least 100,000 hour lifetime. My own rule of thumb is if it feels hot to me, its hot. The cost of additional LED's is nothing compared with the cost to replace one. I'd much rather use two smaller LED arrays and spread the heat rather than have one larger one that makes too much heat in one place. Not only that, if you have partial failure of one large LED array, you have an expensive repair on your hands... having one of the little arrays fail is a much cheaper repair.

The Starbucks coffee shop down the street from me recently upgraded to lots of MR16 warm-white LED's, and so far I have noted no failures.

I do not do lighting design for a business, I am way more into refrigeration and microcontrollers. I will dabble in other things for my own stuff or to help friends. I find these new LED lighting solutions quite interesting, as I can now design lighting fixtures that were unthinkable a few years ago. Its one thing if I am retrofitting, but if I get to design new with the new stuff I can get, WOW! Damn near anything is possible.

If they are too hot then maybe your silicon is too thick. You need it almost vanishingly thin and good contact pressure to the heat sink, screw at each corner? A 7809 might be good for the power supply. My fave trick is a transistor with 2 diodes (or zener) and 2 resistors for constant current. maybe a darlington for higher power which may need a 3rd diode or better to stick to the zener.


These MR16's are the best I have found so far. http://www.dhgate.com/10pcs-lot-high-power-9w-mr16-dimmable-led/p-ff8080...
Get the Natural White - 4000k or so. Half way between cool and warm. Epistar's "Natural" are excellent. Fit's well in Paradise waterproof Landscape fixtures from Amazon. Exactly same power draw at 24Vdc as 12Vdc. Seems OK, but can't speak for long term life, since no specs. You can't fool the internal smart driver, Polarity does not matter, since they work on AC also. I bet would work fine 2 in series at 24V. I have 30 or so on an 8A - 24V Dimmer. Lot's of light for tiny power. Dimmable down to 30% or so.

Hi Hardhat,

Induction is rather pricey stuff and that's probably why it hasn't caught on, except for certain applications such as tunnel lighting. I'm not overly optimistic about its future prospects.

I've come across a good number of LED products in our work and several brands haven't performed all that well (a high number of lamp failures or noticeable lumen drop). That's why I recommend sticking with one of the "big three" names, i.e.,GE, Osram-Sylvania and Philips. I prefer Philips products myself because our experience with Philips, both in terms of the quality and technical performance of their offerings and the support that they have provided to us is by far and away the best in the industry. There are less costly alternatives out there, but I'd rather pay a bit more for something I know will do the job well and that is supported by a comprehensive, no-quibble warranty.


Thanks, Paul

I have been in a quandary regarding LED's. Its hard to get honest appraisals of them as the ones giving the review have a dog in the race. Candid reviews as you give here are far more valuable to me than that stuff I get from sales reps, who can be about as truthful about LED performance as an AT&T rep claiming link speed.

Like you, I figured inductive was dying because of initial price... even if it appears to last darned near forever once installed. The links I posted were to a Chinese site marketing an assortment of inductive fluorescent lamps - and I have been quite tempted to get a few. But then, the new LED arrays are there as well, and I can pick up 100 watt LED arrays quite cheap.

One thing I do not trust at all is their ratings, as it seems that at the claimed power level, they will run so hot that lumen depreciation and burnout is inevitable. I am seeing it already on installations which used the off-the-shelf designs which were designed to look good on paper. They were designed to look inexpensive for a quick sale, not to last forever. If I am going to go through all the trouble of implementing something, I want it to do what I designed it to do - "forever". I can easily spend ten times the original cost of something to fix it after its installed. I absolutely hate having to change out light bulbs - especially if a screwdriver in involved, even more so for a ladder.

I admire the tunnel builders for selecting the most robust lighting available for use in tunnels, as changing lights in a tunnel is extremely disruptive. But then, so is having to get into signage which was designed for visibility, not accessibility. Malfunctioning signs are to a business like stained shirts are to a businessman. I figure that 100,000 hour life claimed for induction lamps is probably limited by the inverter that drives the lamps, or possibly the induction coil.

Hi Hardhat,

I know that induction is often used to illuminate roadway signage and tall mast commercial signage, and in these types of applications it makes good sense, as 100,000 hours translates to be over 20 years of dusk to dawn service. That said, lumen depreciation at end-of-life is 35 to 40 per cent (pounding those phosphors for 100K hours is bound to extract its toll), so that's something to bear in mind. Also, the ballast failure rate at 100,000 hours is said to be 50 per cent, so a group re-lamp/re-ballast three-quarters the way to the finish line would seem appropriate.

Source: http://www.lithonia.com/micro_webs/induction/icetron.pdf

Speaking of lifespan, I received a call earlier this evening from a fast food restaurant that used six 75-watt PAR30 halogens to illuminate their menu board. Efficiency Nova Scotia allows us to replace halogen lamps at no cost, and rather than schedule this job for one of our work crews I grabbed six short neck EnduraLED PAR30s from our inventory and swapped them out myself. The halogens have a nominal service life of 2,500 hours and the Enduras are rated 45,000 hours, so we're looking at an eighteen fold improvement. The total connected load falls from 450-watts to 72. Doesn't sound like much, but the amount of energy saved is enough to supply our two person household with all of the hot water we need three times over [we have a Nyle Geyser heat pump water heater]. Now, I'd say that's worth a Frosty or two !


Wow! Its amazing what I learn here on TheOilDrum, thanks to folks like you.

I will be looking into that water heater... sounds like a winner.

I wondered about those phosphors and ballast lifetimes, as I have already seen numerous PC power supplies ( I would imagine very similar in architecture ) failing due to mostly deteriorating electrolytic capacitors. Twenty years of dusk to dawn service with no maintenance is pretty tall order. Yet just one service call would be worth the price difference between the induction lamp and a cheaper one that failed.

I have seen a lot of businesses have difficult-to-service signage full of plain old garden variety fluorescent tubes - and they pay an arm and a leg to have someone come out and disassemble the signs to replace the light bulbs.. and I wonder why they did not put a nice big induction lamp in them and place the ballast in an easy-to-get-to place. I figured the ballast by far was the most trouble prone element in the system. Even if I did have 35-40% lumen depreciation, that would not be near as bad as a sign full of dark spots, or worse yet, prefailure flickering - which makes the business stand out like a run-down motel.

Hi Hardhat,

You raise a couple good points. The trick with outdoor signage is to ensure uniformity in surface brightness, i.e., no dark spots and no banding. Up here, you'll find most signs are illuminated by F96T12 high output lamps driven by cold weather rated ballasts, typically at 6 inch spacing and with staggered tombstones. Each pair of lamps would draw about 260-watts.

We had one client that had a sign that ran along the front of their building, approximately 80 ft. long and 4 or 5 ft. high. I think the power draw was something in the order of 10,000-watts. The worst part is that 90 per cent of the sign is painted black ! At one end, you had the name of the firm in yellow letters: "[Redacted] Truck Rentals" and this small yellow ribbon that ran along the bottom of the sign to the opposite end. I just about had a stroke.

In a perfect world, we would eliminate back illuminated signage altogether and replace it with LED channel lettering, say (1.0 to 1.5-watts per linear foot). That would knock the 10,000-watts in this particular example down to perhaps 200-watts, and you'd never have to worry about another failed lamp or ballast again.


Thank goodness I swallowed my drink before reading that!!! My reaction - WHAAAAAAT!!! Did you ever get that client to see the light, so to speak?


No, I'm afraid not. We ran into some issues working with this client, so I left the matter in their hands and as far as I know nothing has changed.



Got catapult?


Link up top: Rigzone Musings: If You Believe The IEA, Our Energy Worries Are Over

Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, said his agency's forecasts to 2017 were based on data about existing reserves and production. He warned that the geology and reservoir performance of the oil shales were "poorly known," and he said it was unclear whether new reserves would be found to sustain production levels, let alone grow them. This is a critical consideration that underlies all the bullish forecasts for a new petroleum age for North America.

Obviously Briol is hedging his bets. But he also has other things to worry about. That massive increase in Iraqi production will never take place. Ditto for Brazil. Saudi will do well to keep production even for the next few years. They may manage it because of Manifa but after that they will be in decline. That 10 million barrel a day increase they are expecting from OPEC is just a pipe dream.

I am unsure about Canada as I am not an expert on the oil sands. But Leonardo Maugeri, the Harvard energy expert, says Canada will be producing 5.5 mb/d by 2020. Perhaps but I doubt it. Anyway the bulk of all the increase is expected to come from the U.s., Canada, Iraq, Brazil an Saudi Arabia.

Ron P.

Ron - My very biased view: It’s interesting that most of the debate about whether the IEA prediction offers a brighter future tends to discuss only projections of various production levels. In reality 99.9% of the global population couldn’t care less about those rates…at least not directly. They care about energy costs. And so are so many govts worrying about stagnant/declining economies. Granted the production rates have some bearing but far from the dominant IMHO. Look at where we are today: some folks are cheer leading the surge in oil production from the shales in the US. Life is great, eh? WTI in “only” $88/bbl and Brent and Light La. Light is just a tad over $100/bbl. Life is so much better now than just ten years ago when PO drove the inflation adjusted price of oil to $29/bbl compared to the new low inflation adjusted price of $92/bbl. Thanks goodness the shales, better CAFÉ standards, more alts and improved conservation have saved us. We have reached the Promised Land…praise be to the Savior of Mankind: Chesapeake and the rest of the oil patch. You may drop to your knees now and begin giving thanks to the Rockman. LOL.

I was only half joking the other day when we were discussing all the possible metrics and projections about declines and increased recoveries, efficiency improvement projects, alt growth projections, etc. How do we weigh all these factors to come up with a meaningful metric. No need to…we already have a very useful and meaningful metric staring us right in the face: the current price of oil. Can anyone point out what the IEA is forecasting the price of will be when the US becomes the leading producer on the planet? I thought so. LOL.

The average price for Brent, for 2012, is just a tad over $112 a barrel, or about 75 cents above the average for 2011. I find all this talk about an oil glut amazing with oil at that price.

All the media wags are writing the obituary of peak oil. And mostly because of this silly paper by Leonardo Maugeri: Oil: The Next Revolution

Contrary to what most people believe, oil supply capacity is growing worldwide at such an unprecedented level that it might outpace consumption. This could lead to a glut of overproduction and a steep dip in oil prices.

It will be so sweet when in by 2017, the year most of them expect the glut to hit prices hard, the oil supply will be heading down instead of up.

Ron P.

Actually, it won't be 'sweet', it would be catastrophic if it were to happen.

I was speaking of "sweet revenge" for all those wags who have, prematurely, declared peak oil as dead. However...

I don't have the time nor the inclination right now to go into all the things humans are doing to the earth right now except to say that we are destroying the environment and are on a path to drive into extinction, all wild megafauna. We are slowly turning the world into a barren desert.

The only thing worse than peak oil would be no peak oil.

Ron P.

The only thing worse than peak oil would be no peak oil.

amen to that.

So "sweet" for nearly all species, and the prospects of future humans, if human BAU slows its metabolic wastes and downsizes sooner rather than later.

Peak oil: it's not a bug, it's a feature.

I agree to that, but I think it is to little to late.

Indeed. It doesn't take us off the hook for taking some sort of action, be it from collective enlightenment and maturity, or - when that fails - herding the cattle to relative safety in any way possible.

We are on a path to destruction, no doubt. Only some of our problems are solvable, and there are severe limits to our ability to adapt. We are on track for 4 degree Celsius rise in global mean temperature, rather than the less dangerous 2 degree rise IPCC has been talking about. While we've been talking we've done nothing to reduce emissions, only slowed the rate of increase due to recession. The nexus of peak oil and global heating means we have fewer choices available to address both problems. In order to adapt to climate change, we will need more energy, not less, because we will need to change our infrastructure, perhaps move our cities inland. In 25 years, the New York subways may be inoperable as sea levels rise.

As supplies of oil tighten, we use dirtier and dirtier sources of hydrocarbons, accelerating climate change, increasing, rather than decreasing carbon emissions. As the supply of oil declines, what do we use? Coal? Nuclear? How do we feed people without industrial farming which is heavily hydrocarbon dependent? Only a few small nations are moving in the right direction. We are left with bad choices and inadequate measures. We, as a culture, have yet to imagine changing our economic system because we have a great deal of denial about the many tigers out there (fresh water availability, ocean degradation, extinctions, human population excess, peak oil, and climate change). I don't know that is impossible for us to survive. I just haven't the faintest idea how the human race will make it to the next century given our array of converging crises.

As a species and a global society we're basically morbidly obese and eating more every year, and trapped in a space ship which can't recycle our exhalations at that metabolic level. We have left behind the options of fad diets and now must face bariatric surgery or a spiral into oblivion. The universe doesn't care which... and there are no trained surgeons.

If hardship is involved then society will not change course until forced to do so.

Feel free to quote me ;-)

Edit: Perhaps I should've said, "If inconvenience is involved..."

I don't disagree at all. However, society changes course all the time. If there is change, it will not be because humans have suddenly become a mature race of philospher-ascetics. It will be for the usual deep-brain non-rational motivations which cause humans to do everything else.

If humans ever collectively take large-scale actions needed to prevent disastrous global heating, one thing is certain: it will not be for that reason.

We are on a path to destruction, no doubt.

If the choice is to light a fire to then be able to point at the fire and scream "Crisis!" VS actually discuss how things have gotten to where they are, the parties that have culpability in the present situation will set fire to as much as it takes to shift the focus of attention.

"I don't know that is impossible for us to survive."

I think it's becoming all too obvious now that most won't survive and that extinction is a real possibility. Too bad we have to take so many innocent species down with us.

I was thinking about this today - "most of us won't survive". NONE of us will survive forever, so the timing does matter. I've been reading more and more doom and gloom, but what I see out the window is not yet that bad. Obviously natural areas are degraded. Obviously the economy is messed up. That said, it's not a horror show yet. Sea levels may be rising, but not so much that anybody can visually see. There are nasty storms and weird weather, but it's not so horrible yet, certainly it's adaptable.

There is not really any point in searching for the timing, but it is definitely "not quite yet". In order for it to really be a threat to our civilization and species, it has to be a lot worse. Perhaps there will be a phase shift at some point and sea levels will rise rapidly. Perhaps something else will happen. Or perhaps it will just slowly get worse, at a pace we can adapt to, like it has so far.

I think we can safely say that fossil fuel based industrial civilization will be mostly over by the end of this century, and the population will be lower. But as to what will happen between now and 2020, 2030, 2050... At some point, people will be driving MUCH less. Not there yet. Economies will crash - well, Spain and Greece are getting there, but they haven't turned back into the third world yet (though they sure are on the way). It's all happening now, but not quickly or so decisively that people can't deny it.

Yes, the other species are dropping like dominoes, and pretty much all large, slower-reproducing species will be lost in a 4-degree C world (when combined with the human overshoot/famines), happening as abruptly as this CO2 event is happening, coupled with ocean acidification & massive disruption of ocean food chains.

Many of the species being lost are self-aware, and some are highly intelligent. Those genetic lines will not recur.

Yet the stoicism, apathy of the human race is amazing. Compared with the sacrifices common in times of war, there is... nothing. We're that disconnected from the natural world.

I think (big) part of the problem is there is no clear enemy here. IE the guy we need to stop is our self. It is fuzzy and we can't point to one single guy and say "stop him".

I was talking with a friend who loves hunting deer/elk about the possibilities of surviving in Alaska, and threw out a few facts, like low human population, plenty of territory and wildlife for hunting, high snow/rainfall, etc. He looked at me seriously for a moment (we kid each other a lot) and said: "Alaska's no good, because the fauna up there will go extinct." The statement dumbfounded me, like a sucker punch to the gut. I thought "Good God, he's probably right."

He's limiting himself too much. Alaska is extremely large, very diverse. I can think of no easier place to keep fed than the part of Alaska I know. Nothing in the lower 48 could come close. Was he only considering deer species? If he was on the coast, there might be eg 5000 acres of completely unharvested clam flats within a few miles,about a half dozen species are good. If he was near a river, often multiple species of game fish will run at differing times of year. If he was on a boat, I used to handline about 20-30 lbs of rockfish (on a commercial license) for the boat's supper every night in just about 15-20 minutes, no matter where we were (so long as we had a reef at about 160 feet or more - black rocks, lingcod, halibut mmm good). Prawn traps are fairly easy to use, multiple species of prawns, crabs, etc.
Alaska is not degraded yet. People do not realize how productive such an environment can be, because they've never seen it themselves.
Though I appreciate the need for copper etc, I really hope the Pebble mine does not go through. The Bristol Bay salmon fishery is an extraordinary resource and may possibly survive climate change - I rather doubt it could survive that immense development for the long term though. The metal will always be there if the fish leave on their own.

South Louisiana bayous are not quite so prolific today, but it is still easy to get something to eat down there.

And the water won't kill you a few minutes after falling in.


Once again, Pogo said it best:
"We have met the enemy, and he is us."

That's an interesting way to look at it.

I think one of the mental blocks we're suffering with is the willfull blindness of what has essentially been a Baccanalian Orgy. One could surely say we're drunk on power, quite literally... sort of like Bob Shaw's Yeast, left in a great sugar vat. It's very hard to get smart in such a wild party.

It's almost a very conscious choice to keep it so, since it's basically Anathema (in the US anyhow) to take a really 'sober' look at the greater situation.. it gets translated into throwing a Wet Towel on our economic prospects.. that the Climate and Energy issues that 'supposedly must' get dealt with are all actions that challenge our economy's structural need to have customers buying goods and services they really don't need (and can't afford).. hence, getting your customers addicted so that they buy and consume just like addicts.. unthinking, unchecked.

What's happened to Bob "yeast" Shaw, btw? I remember him having some troubles a couple of years ago, and haven't seen him post since...

A couple of years ago I talked briefly to his former girlfriend. She said he had a change in focus (I kind of guess after a crisis of some sort) and is doing well.

Hope that helps,

Best Hopes for Bob Shaw !


FWIW...I don't think he was having troubles, at least no more than usual.

There was someone who tried to take advantage of his absence from the forum by starting rumors that he was in trouble, trying to extract money from the people here.

Thanks for that clarification. Hope he's well.

Very bad news from Florida I came across in a Thanksgiving visit.
The crystal clear Florida springs are getting polluted, algae growths and slowing
their flow from dwindling underground aquifers which are the ultimate source of
much of Florida's fresh water.

A century ago Florida's gin-clear springs drew presidents and millionaires and tourists galore who sought to cure their ailments by bathing in the healing cascades. Now the springs tell the story of a hidden sickness, one that lies deep within the earth:

• The water in many springs no longer boils up like a fountain, the way they have for centuries. The flow has slowed. In some places it has even stopped or begun flowing backward.

• The water that does come out is polluted by nitrates.

• The pollution fuels the growth of toxic algae blooms, which are taking over springs and the rivers they feed and putting human health at risk.

• Finally, the fresh water coming out of many springs is showing signs of a growing saltiness, according to a study by the Florida Geological Survey.

All of it — particularly the saltiness — is a dark omen for the future of the state's water supply.

Per usual, there were handwaving attempts even under Jeb Bush to appear to do something about the problem, but these were abandoned by Teabag Gov Rick Scott. Of course the real solution is to stop sprawl, the waste of water for grass and private swimming pools,
agricultural runoff from fossil-fuel agriculture. But hand waving or perhaps "laying on of hands" in mostly fundamentalist Florida is all that is happening for the moment.

There is a very scary portent of how our "way of life" is destroying the ecosystem we all depend on...

The non-negotiable Americun Way of Life is about to find out that Mother Nature does not negotiate.


From reading the article, which is a long one, and full of detail. We or rather they have about a decade then it will be them pulling salt water up to feed the farms and water the lawns, and then the brown ones will be the least of their worries. The fresh water bubble is growing thinner by the day it seems and the signs of all the springs running dry is one more that they don't have much time left.

Not that it will change till it happens, but they could change if they wanted too, push them at every corner and then push again.

We aren't all going to make it to the end of decade alive, but if we know what is ailing us, then we need to do something more than complain about it. Tell more people about it, those that do care, can change their ways and even if it looks like it is to late. Just enough change might get done to alert others that these people, knew about it, and did nothing to stop it.

I Don't have a lawn to water just some gravel and what grows I let it grow. But I still see them watering the lawns with drinking wter all the time.

Water is the thing we can't do without. Air first, but water next, then food. No water to drink. What is that line from the Poem.

Ancient mariner. water water everywhere but not a drop to drink. Those sea water of long ago is going to be sprouting out of those springs in due time. Wonder where they are going to get their Orange Juice from then? ( makes my stomach hurt, I don't drink it).


In reality 99.9% of the global population couldn’t care less about those rates…at least not directly. They care about energy costs. And so are so many govts worrying about stagnant/declining economies.

At some point, maybe they should also start worrying about adding the extra costs of little things like cleaning up the flooded subways in NYC, after Hurricane Sandy to the total cost of continuing to burn fossil fuels... Just a hunch but I think if they did that they find that the bill is going to end up being a lot more than they might want to pay. Yeah, I do realize all those repairs and rebuilding will increase the GDP.

How do we weigh all these factors to come up with a meaningful metric.

Now that, is a really good question!


A New Report on Climate Change: The World Bank Tries to Wake Us Up

The Academy of Science report on Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System was released to inform the public of the “urgent need of expansion and upgrading” of the power grid, and highlights the damage that threatens both the economy and our physical safety if we don’t take action. In a similar tone, the President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim warns “It is my hope that this report shocks us into action…This report spells out what the world would be like if it warmed by 4 degrees Celsius, which is what scientists are nearly unanimously predicting by the end of the century, without serious policy changes. The 4 degree C scenarios are devastating: the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems. And most importantly, a 4 degree C world is so different from the current one that it comes with high uncertainty and new risks that threaten our ability to anticipate and plan for future adaptation needs.”

From the same article;

...So we are left with a situation that is known to psychologists as cognitive dissonance, i.e., psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs ands attitudes held simultaneously. In this instance, we know (or most of us believe) that continued and unconstrained fossil fuel use could result in serious future discomfort. Yet at the same time that such warnings are being issued, we celebrate the discovery of immense reserves of shale gas and expected low prices, figuring out how we can use it for our cars, trucks, power plants and exports. We unlock new areas to drilling and press for more. We seem to be generally adept at avoiding the elephant in the room.

TOP-FM: That might be the kindest way to describe the situation. But I'm oil field trash and don't use no fancy words like cognitive dissonance. LOL. To me it's just plain old selfishness: we want what we want and if folks in the future have to pay a price for our actions that's their problem...not ours.

Yes... I've remarked-- quite some time ago-- how curious it is that, despite efforts at eradicating disease, there are those that deliberately create it digitally as code. It's as if nature insists on disease in whatever medium that can accommodate it and it won't stop at leveraging humans against their own systems.

Given your comment and apparent attitude here, ROCKMAN, and other indications, I suspect we may have to accept that the Earth is going to get hotter than 4 degrees Celsius, maybe a lot hotter.
With desert sand-dune whipped cream and a nuclear cherry on top.

Your online charm aside, there are some, such as in the Deep Green Resistance movement, that consider actions behind stuff like this, acts of war, and I'm tempted to agree.

I have also been recently made aware of someone from the state/legal world-- Polly Higgins-- who is also involved in the permaculture movement, and is ostensibly pushing for ecocide laws. (Seems the right hand wants to enact laws against the left hand's activities, but that's another subject.)

...and if folks in the future have to pay a price for our actions that's their problem...not ours. ~ ROCKMAN

What future?

Tribe - If you don't learn to identify who is helping you...

Try me. I wrote 'apparent' and understand what was written. It's in part about ROCKMAN's industry as well as the "excuses" being written about.

TOP-FM: You know of my earth studies so you might not be surprised to hear that I have no worries about this blue marble. Mother Earth has inflicted such damage to this planet that would make the effects of AGW appear no more significant than a tiny pimple. And she has driven more species to extinction than we can imagine. Even if earth were struck by a mega comet and disintegrated into dust it would still survive if but only as a disbursed cloud. No disrespect to the dedicated but “protecting the planet” has always seemed misplaced. Mother earth doesn’t need protecting…she’s in complete control. Always has been and always will be IMHO. AGW and its effects on mankind will follow the rules Mother has written.

What needs to be protected is mankind from man IMHO. And Mother could care less. We could be just one more species that disappears and it would concern her no more than losing T Rex or the dodo. IOW we need to make changes for the sake of man. Does it make any difference if mankind causes the polar bear to disappear or if Mother decides they had a good run and now their time is done? Perhaps man’s destructive activities just makes us one of Mother’s tools.

Whoa…way to philosophical for a Saturday night. The meek will not inherit the earth IMHO. Everyone will inherit whatever becomes of it: good or bad…their fault or not their fault. We need to change our ways for the sake of man. Mother will take care of the planet as she sees fit. And she may just add us to her list with T Rex and the dodo.

As you say "what future?" Whatever we devise, of course. And even if we do make all those necessary changes such as scrubbing all that excess GHG out of the atmosphere and there's a fusion reactor on every corner Mother could chose to wack us with that comet. She does have a sense of humor.

AKAIK, the proper expression is 'could not care less'. I make a point of it because it seems a little ironic in our context; as though you care a bit more than less.

I already understand what you're talking about, and some might describe it as fatalism or whatever. My angle is leaning on you because of your apparent background/industry and age, because I think you understand it, and because, most importantly, we share the same planet. If I had my own planet, it would be different.

And what we write, others can read of course, so it speaks to everyone-- like our activities.

Even if earth were struck by a mega comet and disintegrated into dust it would still survive if but only as a disbursed cloud. No disrespect to the dedicated but “protecting the planet” has always seemed misplaced. Mother earth doesn’t need protecting…she’s in complete control.

Off your meds again, Rock?

greenie - Not off my meds but feel like it. Not enough sleep the last few days. LOL. Since Thanksgiving morning I've been trying to get a 5" diameter logging tool down a 12,000’ deep 10" diameter hole. Made it down to 11,800' with no problem but can't get that last 200 critical feet. Been trying to stabilize the hole but had to shut down this morning. Mother was feeling playful and decide to washout a 1/8" hole in a pipe that the drilling mud flows thru at high pressure. And thus we were unable to pump mud and had stop ops while we got a welder out to fix. I suppose that's why Mother being in absolute control is fresh in my mind.

But you're a registered tree hugger (an honorable title IMHO) so I'm always interested in your view. For instance do you think there are “good extinctions” and “bad extinctions”? If polar bears go extinct due to the loss of Artic ice from AGW vs. Mother creating some virus that wipes them out in 20 generations is one event good and the other bad? I doubt the polar bears care either way since they are toast regardless.

Loss of environment? I’m sure many of your followers look at a new mall covering 10 acres with little enthusiasm. But a while back Mother let lose the Deccan lava flows. It consists of more than 6,500 feet of flat-lying basalt lava flows and covers an area of nearly 200,000 square miles square km) (roughly the size of the states of Washington and Oregon combined) in India. Estimates of the original area covered are as high as 600,000 square miles. Destroyed every life form in the area including bacteria. The event lasted thousands of years. As I implied man is an amateur when it comes to transforming the planet. But mall or lava flow the planet goes on. And it can persist as a blue marble or a dust cloud covering billions of cubic miles. And in a few billions years Mother might let gravity pull that dust back together and form another planet. Remember geologists are in the habit of seeing the long game. LOL.

Yes…way too much idle time for a fuzzy mind at 3 AM.

For instance do you think there are “good extinctions” and “bad extinctions”?

From a selfish POV a good one is where you end up alive on the other side. But that kind of position ignores the odds of the self-aware human will be dead in 100 years.

I doubt the polar bears care

If one where to allow the bears an ability to care about the long term future, I'm guessing they would care. Polar bears are able to exist in more managed situations and, if given a chance, some would ask for carve-outs so that at least a few bears could keep going.

But mall or lava flow the planet goes on.

The planet will go on until physics like the collision with the Andromeda Galaxy causes a forced merger with another object or the Sun does some form of expansion-merger event. While Elon Musk is being mentioned elsewhere in the drumbeat he and the "lets put PV panels in space" people share a motivation to get humans beyond the gravity well of Earth in an attempt to make Humanity not have its 'eggs in one basket'.

If Humans can't be bothered to stop the 70% waste going to vampire squid parasites in the whole AGW debate then why not let the parasites win and kill the host?

I proposed an article for the old Campfire page on Degrees of Doomerism. Similar to Defcon, I had four levels:

Doomer 1: Back to the 1950s
Doomer 2: Back to the 1850s
Doomer 3: Back to the 1450s
Doomer 4: Back to the Stone Age

I can see I need another level:

Doomer 5: Back to the primeval ooze.

I think you need a Doomer 1.5; Back to 1900. Minimal automobiles, fully deployed steam rail system, shipping a mixture of steam and sail, electricity only locally available. Maybe we could keep the AM radio stations running, the clear channel stations at night could keep the country connected.

I became interested in the quickly canceled "Terra Nova" TV series. Basically, a very high tech but collapsing earth 2149 finds a way to periodically transmit people & materials back 75 million years into the Cretaceous (highly evolved dinosaurs - a warm high O2 Earth).

At series end, about 1,000 people with LOTS of tech left.

Assuming they can keep data and knowledge to understand, they have the blueprints for everything. But recreating it is impossible for centuries.

I have in my mind run through the issues (written some).

1) There is no ecological niche for intelligent primates. Therefore human settlements are fenced in (electric fences first line @ fields, barriers @ settlements. Eventual symbiotic relationship with local predators (they are smart).

2) Social organization that makes wise judgments - policies set by Council of Elders (think very activist Supreme Court) with Executive @ Parliamentary two house legislature (this complexity grows with population).

3) Long term sustainability is paramount. One oil well is operating for cheap complex organic compounds. The extraction rate is less than new oil is formed.

4) The greatest threat to survival of humanity - once the first village is stabilized - is man. Thus limited growth on one side of one continent (outposts w/o children further out). "No one is a stranger" - cultural ties and marital ties (no children from 3rd cousin marriages forces looking for mates from other settlements) make for a unified culture. No one city can have 10% of the population - preventing clashes that way. Other cultural ties (individual athletes compete in World Games, but no teams).

5) Open world, and 2149 history on where resources are, so few resource limits. Yet depletable resources are husbanded.

In ALP 897, there are 3.2 million people (zero growth) are in 248 settlements (I profile several) connected by daily rail service (1.1 m gauge). A few weather and communication satellites in orbit - Zeppelins are the only manned air ships (specialty use - exploration, mining camp support, disaster assistance). The Council of Elders decides to make the trip back to "our" Earth.

After almost a century of effort, with population increased to 3.9 million people to support the effort, and recreated technology, they recreate the rift back. One opening every 9 months for 40 hours. Mission by mission they learn more about 3146 ACE.

Under ideal circumstances, about 4 million people can maintain technology IMHO. Every 10 years, select craftspeople, with new apprentices, get together and operate mothballed machinery to build a series of solid state rockets (easier to build) and weather & comm satellites. The crew then goes back to their regular jobs. These are then launched as needed. The first prototypes were more than a lifetime of work to build and launch.

Extended timelines allow for fewer people.

My thoughts,



What is a solid-state rocket?

Is this a solid-fuel rocket, such as the solid-rocket boosters used on the now-retired Space Shuttle?

Many large solids use powdered aluminum and ammonium perchlorate...the second chemical is a ground water contaminant of significant concern.

Yes - a solid fuel rocket (a mental "typo"). Copies of a well proven design for "economy" launches from 2102.

Any thoughts on the basic principles ?


Looking at your principles for a sustainable society structure (apart from the fantasy time travel aspect, your outline looks interesting for a future society, post-PO.

I think it would be extremely difficult to constrain the human urges to proliferate the species and return to a path of higher and higher consumption.

Perhaps one could look at the present day German and Japanese people for exemplars of businesslike efficiency and service before self, society preeminent over individualism, but those two peoples each experienced a spasm of attempting dipterous expansionism. Presently each of these countries maintain their standards of living through a hefty amount of commercial trade...life would be tougher if that trade dried up.

As far as large solid rockets being simpler than liquid-fuel rockets for space launch applications, I am not sure that is the case. I understand that even though one can know the 'recipe' for the solid rocket fuels, that is necessary but not sufficient for success. I understand that the challenge is the proper mixing of the 'batter', and the proper pouring of this 'batter' into the casings so as to minimize air pockets/bubbles/voids, which lead to bad outcomes.

I have heard it is analogous to great chefs making a delicate souffle...you may know the recipe and have the equipment in storage, but if you are not practiced in the art, success is not all that easy.

Liquid rockets provide easier and more precise thrust control. That being said, liquid rockets are not trivial either, and the problem of 'being out of practice' would rear its head here as well if your technicians would try to resurrect the art and science and engineering and machining skills every 50-100 years or so. They would be wise to build-ground test-flight test with dummy mass mocks-build, then fly the real payloads when they have gotten back in their production quality groove.

All that being said...a future society with scattered settlements of ~ 10K people each could rely on rail connections, with the extended rail rights of way also being useful for fiber-optic comm lines, electric lines, pipelines, etc. The trains would bring technicians to various points along the ROW to repair compression/pumping/transformer stations, etc. In a post-PO future, air travel and car/truck transport will wane. Helium will be exceedingly scarce for zeppelins...they would have to engineer a way to use hydrogen with acceptable risk, if possible. Ocean/inland waterway shipping can persist, even FF-powered, assuming other uses recede...wind/sail/kite ship power could wax.

Social Control is based upon legitimacy - especially the Council of Elders - and controlling social deviants through shame and loss of social status.

Killing a dinosaur for sport, or theft, tax evasion, refusing to contribute labor to communal projects, etc. gets one convicted of being a "Dave Bender" (named after an early slacker/grafter/greedy "taker"). Loss of some civil rights and a once a year walk through the village in chains. A reprieve/pardon is possible with diligent good works - but until then "Who would want to marry a Dave Bender ?"

Zeppelins -

The zeppelins would be a technology that Terra Nova would extend & expand of their own. One technology that they could be more creative with :-)

Inner bag of hydrogen for most of the lift. Outer bag a mixture of helium, neon (from atmosphere - a bit richer back than) and a small % of water vapor. All gases lighter than air & inert.

Helium comes from small wells drilled into granite (some fractured to maximize surface area, some just holes). Once every 6 to 12 months pump gas out of field of wells - hold for a month to let residual radon decay - and then accumulate. Have one, then two drilling rigs (designed for granite) operating continuously for 600 years and quite a bit of helium can be extracted from their collective wells. Enough for a fleet of 20 or so zeppelins.

Rail -

Close to "Cape Gauge" (3'6"), charcoal powered steam at first, then electric battery a century plus later (2149 tech as shown on TV series very impressive there, but even 2015 would be good). Recharge, or at least "top up" batteries at every stop - or swap batteries. Back-up is bio-diesel (usually distilled sap from a tree, but other sources) in a diesel engine to generate electricity.

Remember wildlife back then. Railroad construction is modified to accept occasional multi-tonne footstep, or a herd of Triceratops walking across.

Trains broadcast a sound so that wildlife learns to clear the tracks beforehand - and they go slow enough for a major sonic blast if one forgets. Passenger coaches & locomotive are reasonable well armored, and armed, if things get out of hand.

Communication -

Fiber optics on some major sections of rail RoW - but radio is used more for communication between settlements. Third way is by communications satellite. One plus two spares in orbit - low volume (small & tech not all that 2149 could do). During waking hours, mainly text with some premium voice. Late at night, news pictures of the day, data from remote scientific observation posts, etc.

No pipelines - not enough volume to justify construction.

Almost no water commerce - except to the three island settlements. Use titanium boats for that - with sonar due to some BIG predators out there. (Sonar detects & repels on higher volume).

Population distribution - Three cities over 300,000 (limit 390,000 - 10% of 3.9 million) and six more over 90,000. Minimum viable settlement (with children) is about 400 working age adults - 600+ with retirees & children.

Many farming or mining settlements are around 2,000. Sleep together in settlement - go out to fields on bicycles, EVs or tram. Most agriculture is more intensive (orchards, vegetables - than "endless fields of wheat" so most fields are within 5 km of settlement - sometimes two or three close by settlements will share a common electric fence perimeter)..

Crops and trees for bio-plastics. elastomers (rubber), etc. are major crop.

The settled area covered with "spots" of settlements is mainly within a 2,000 by 1,500 km area. Enough wild areas to allow that ecology to function well. Also most trips take a one or two day train ride (sleep overnight at a central hub) - only the most remote corners require a third day.

Energy -

Mainly electricity with every settlement with it's own grid (except a few quite close by settlements are linked).

Solar PV is the "default", some geothermal and a fair % of wind - but the major source in heavy industry towns is hydroelectric - mainly run-of-river bypassing waterfalls (like Niagara).

Most smaller towns have a small hydroelectric dam (one of the criteria for settlement, a dozen or more standard 100 kW wind turbines (self erecting) within the perimeter, and several MW of solar PV - and a large nickel iron battery bank. Often excess power is produced. Excess goes to hot water and, in larger towns, hydrogen production that then goes to ammonia or methanol.

Steel is smelted with charcoal (>50% of Brazilian steel today). A major pre-human logjam (like Red River in Louisiana, 200+ km covered with logs) is harvested at a low dam/bridge and most is turned into charcoal (carbon monoxide rich gases drive electric generation). However, aluminum is slightly cheaper than steel/kg.

Some solar PV is shifted around by rail seasonally. During dry season at major industry towns (Great Falls, Steel City when hydroelectric generation is lower) and in wet season to smaller towns mostly dependent on solar PV.


Alan -
re zeppelins - methane is probably the simplest lighter than air gas to use - really no need for an inert gas envelope. No need for granite wells - sounds difficult.
re communication satellites - no need for geosynchronous - there is an odd low earth orbit used (and discovered) by the Russians that works well for comm sats, (got it - Molniya orbits) - given small, lightweight com sats in low earth orbit, why not launch with a rail gun or gas cannon? No need for heavy launch capability, which really is primarily for military purposes.

I have amused myself with thinking through *FAR* too many details :-P
Methane has the problem of flammability and very low lifting power.

Rail gun is *WAY* too much investment for launching less than one satellite per year. Gas gun --- not sure it is workable in practice. Again *FAR* too much effort. Working against both alternatives is a somewhat thicker atmosphere.

Manned planes are not used because of the effort/reward ratio. These are the Council of Elders type decisions - what technologies to resurrect.

I thought of a system of low orbit satellites and decided against that option since all permanent settlements can be served by one geosynchronous satellite - vs 20+ low flying ones. Land dishes do not need to track - just point in one direction. Easier for a farming community of 700. And could a low orbit satellite cover a 2,000 km x 1,500 km area - unlikely for very long.

Molniya was for reaching high latitude areas - and took about as much launch energy as geo-stationary orbits (apogee 40,000 km in high inclination orbit). Three satellites are required for good coverage.

The reason for a once every 10 year rocket & satellite build is several fold. The net human resources required is lower, it takes a team from quite a few settlements working for the common good (a plus for social cohesion), it allows for repetition and institutional memory (average crafts-person may be involved in six plus builds over their lifetime). I did consider 7, 8 and 9 year cycles, which would work as well. And it allows technical skills learned during the build to spread throughout the world (all 3.9 million citizens and 249 settlements).

To ensure an espirit de corps, workers are allowed to use RSB (rocket & satellite builder) after their name and a lapel pin. There is a big feast & celebration when they start and another when they end.

And "picking" a point near the apex of dinosaur evolution is not wise (no niche for intelligent primates#) - but the apparent "crack" in time is where it is.

Best Hopes,


# There is one island where the dinosaurs were wiped out except for a small domesticated herbivore and a hybrid ecology attempted as an experiment.

I might have chosen instead, or at least as a choice, the late Permian, due in part to the Cretaceous fauna being more potentially problematic than what was around before.
How about you? Where would you go if you could?
Pangaea and Panthalassa might have been a riot to explore too, with the former straddling the equator, its interior baked to a crisp in the sun. Where Pangaea was a true ;) explorer's landmass, Panthalassa was a true ;) sailor's ocean. I imagine it had a few island stopovers here and there, but little compared with today. Interestingly, sea levels were relatively low compared with the Cretaceous.

I've never heard of Terra Nova, but looks like it found its way to You Tube.

Likely a few million years after the K-T extinction event. Limited competition - always good for an apex predator like us.


Excellent choice!

This related to a point by greenish - it takes a LONG TIME for new species to evolve, especially on the higher end.

Best Hopes for Limited Extinctions this time around,


it takes a LONG TIME for new species to evolve, especially on the higher end.

With some possible exceptions...as in 'Punctuated Equilibrium'. I have a hunch that us apes are currently punctuating a relatively stable system that has been in evolutionary equilibrium for some time now. Things could get very interesting from an evolutionary point of view.

Despite the evidence that moderately complex animals (triploblastic bilaterians) existed before and possibly long before the start of the Cambrian, it seems that the pace of evolution was exceptionally fast in the early Cambrian. Possible explanations for this fall into three broad categories: environmental, developmental, and ecological changes. Source Wikipedia

Cambrian Explosion, it happened in the sea!

A space elevator was suggested decades ago made of buckyballs for getting materials and people into space. Once built rockets would not be needed, elevators could be counterweighted just like a pulley lifting materials to the top of a skyscraper.
A space elevator would take an immense initial investment (similar to so many sustainable non energy consuming long term solutions) but be very energy efficient after that.

I've heard the expression that 'history is not symmetrical'.

Example of usage:

A favorable outcome for Los Angeles might be a network of much smaller towns connected by public transit, much like the original City of Angels—except that history is not symmetrical and the sheer inertia of disintegration might drag LA beyond any desirable reset point.
~ J.H. Kunstler

Or maybe Doomer 4.5: Blast through each Doom-level along the way, maybe bouncing irregularly back and forth between them and even to not-on-the-map Dooms, to Doomer 5.
It is possible that, as Burgundy may have suggested, the ooze would be gray in color.

We are part of 'mother', a 'force of nature'. Insofar as, as you suggest, mother could 'not' care less, she is also us.

So how do some of us respond under proven/self-inflicted environmental concerns when we spend much of our waking time/life exacerbating these concerns, such as in drilling for oil? (Are extinctions good or bad? Well, that we can even ask that kind of a question... what do you think?)

That FMagyar would find a global warming warning(tm) from near the very thesis of BAU, the World Bank, and, along with Leanan's previous Drumbeat comment some months or weeks ago, ostensibly, something to the effect that some of TOD's staff deny climate change, is... eh, interesting... and in a way might make The Oil Drum look like it's backwards.

@clifman: Regarding your comment about idiocy...

...It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes...
~ The Matrix

At the very least, we have a desperate future. Our children may never believe that we had surplus food. It is mainly because of utterly ridiculous things. The entire output of atomic power in the United States is exactly equivalent to the requirements of the clothes-drying machines...

Now all of this, including the energy problem, is what we have to tackle at once. It can be done... It is possible to make restitution. We might as well be trying to do something about it as not. We will never get anywhere if we don't do anything. The great temptation... is to gather more evidence. I mean, do we need any more evidence? Or is it time to cease taking evidence and to start remedial action on the evidence already in? In 1950, it was time to start taking evidence and start remedial action. But the temptation is always to gather more evidence. Too many people waste their lives gathering evidence. Moreover, as we get more evidence, we see that things are worse than they had appeared to be...
~ Bill Mollison

Howdy Rock. I intentionally baited you last night expecting to wake up to a nice comment I could respond do, and you haven't failed me. Of course, most of my comments here these days are made over decaf, trying to get blood into my brain in the morning. It's a good way to jump-start my otherwise-underused verbal-narrative subsystem, which lags badly in the morning.

Not off my meds but feel like it. Not enough sleep the last few days. LOL. Since Thanksgiving morning I've been trying to get a 5" diameter logging tool down a 12,000’ deep 10" diameter hole. Made it down to 11,800' with no problem but can't get that last 200 critical feet. Been trying to stabilize the hole but had to shut down this morning. Mother was feeling playful and decide to washout a 1/8" hole in a pipe that the drilling mud flows thru at high pressure. And thus we were unable to pump mud and had stop ops while we got a welder out to fix. I suppose that's why Mother being in absolute control is fresh in my mind.

I hear you... I have literally multiple years' sleep deficit at this point, though this week hasn't been bad. Hearing your account of this causes me to flash back to the '70's, though of course I was a very junior participant in the oil bidness at that point. Of course, in those days doodlebuggers just went around blowing stuff up with explosives, so mother didn't seem as much in control. I think that I couldn't have asked for a better contrast in career directions, though...

But you're a registered tree hugger (an honorable title IMHO) so I'm always interested in your view. For instance do you think there are “good extinctions” and “bad extinctions”? If polar bears go extinct due to the loss of Artic ice from AGW vs. Mother creating some virus that wipes them out in 20 generations is one event good and the other bad? I doubt the polar bears care either way since they are toast regardless.

Of course, the universe doesn't care whether life exists at all, it's just something which isn't disallowed by the rules at this stage of things. Good & Bad are thus arbitrary artifacts of our brains, and blunt tools they are.

There is nothing illogical about a nihilistic worldview, a hedonistic worldview, a solipsist worldview, etc. Or the lack of a worldview, which is what most species get along with.

However, since you're asking my opinion, I'll note that in the 70's, 'round about the time I walked away from blowing up the wetlands in Louisiana for a fat paycheck from GSI, I decided to choose the arbitrary values I would treat as worthwhile and sacred, and to treat those chosen values as if they mattered.

They were pretty simple, even though not "true"; like any good Bokononist I was choosing the lies I would live by: Life is preferable to non-life. A healthy, diverse ecosystem is a good thing. The extant web of life, complex and subtle, is better than a web more barren and simple. Consciousness is a good thing. Self-awareness is a good thing. These good things should not be destroyed. A world in which a child can laugh and see the sort of things I saw as a child is better than a barren one. It could be maintained for a million years, or destroyed by the actions of my species. I chose the world of human beings, dolphins, hummingbirds, corals, fish, monkeys, wolves, etc over a world of bacterial slimes and jellyfish. This was arbitrary, and I have always understood it to be arbitrary. There was deliberation to this choice. I have not revised these arbitrary choices of what is sacred to me, and have instead acted as though they matter because to me they do.

Anyone is free to make the same sort of choice; they are able choose their own arbitrary values, to the extent they think about it at all rather than accepting the boilerplate beliefs and social cues we evolved to seek as local defaults.

I have no fetish for polar bears, they are just one sort of megafauna. If I was being eaten by one, I would probably put up resistance. Cognitively easier for me & more fun for the bear. But despite being what anyone except a Vancouver greenpeace founder would call a greenpeace founder, I was never so much into the single-species charismatic megafauna approach, and indeed I separated from that group because I pulled too many sorts of power to myself and broke the single-cute-species mold globally, and there were consequences for that.

In my own projects I did get to know cetaceans more deeply than most humans ever do; an example of convergent evolution of self-awareness and semi-alien minds; and exploring their minds and abilities helped elucidate what our minds and our species was, what I am. Yes, I had an underwater lab, heavily computerized and with a lot of scientists, astronauts, sci-fi luminaries and scientists etc involved. That was my side-project, my self-indulgence in learning about the nature of thinking, though I confess it did give me a preference for live cetaceans over dead ones, a preference for their existence; and it has served them well to date.

By the same token, I am human enough that I would not be heavily bummed emotionally to hear that fleas were extinct. However, just because my ideals were arbitrarily chosen, and applied by a human brain, doesn't mean they're irrational. And I daresay you value roughly the same things.

Loss of environment? I’m sure many of your followers look at a new mall covering 10 acres with little enthusiasm.

Heavens, what makes you think I have followers? Cults are fun when you're young, but not that useful to a professional. Been there, done that scene. Like you, I'll recruit help when needed to do the drilling. Nothing creepier than being worshipped.

Personally, I was entranced by the first mall I ever saw. These days, I don't care for them.

But a while back Mother let lose the Deccan lava flows. It consists of more than 6,500 feet of flat-lying basalt lava flows and covers an area of nearly 200,000 square miles square km) (roughly the size of the states of Washington and Oregon combined) in India. Estimates of the original area covered are as high as 600,000 square miles. Destroyed every life form in the area including bacteria. The event lasted thousands of years.

Yup. Me geologist too, grok good.

Did not your foray into paleontology give you a feel for the grandeur and fragility of life which aspires to multicellularity?

As I implied man is an amateur when it comes to transforming the planet. But mall or lava flow the planet goes on. And it can persist as a blue marble or a dust cloud covering billions of cubic miles. And in a few billions years Mother might let gravity pull that dust back together and form another planet. Remember geologists are in the habit of seeing the long game. LOL.

Exactly. I see the long game too, which is why I was - I have to admit - hated within greenpeace by the other monkeys. My pheromones weren't right. I didn't conform. I was - gasp - using the organization as a tool to save species rather than considering it intrinsically valuable as a durable exclusionary tribe.

My target states - as I have mentioned here many times - are the periods of several hundred years in the future until the Sun bakes the planet, which should be hundreds of millions of years. What life will look like in that not-insignificant period of time will be utterly determined by what sort of life makes it through the human overshoot clusterfx bottleneck in this century and the next. Our species and many others; if I choose dolphins over salps, mea culpa. That places a huge weight on what is done or not done at this point in time by fallible human minds.

I picked this comment from you since you're a friend, and since I wanted to say the following about the general class of statements "the world doesn't need protected, it will still be around".

And what I say about it is: WTF?

Does anyone actually think that "saving the planet" has anything to do with hallowing & protecting the specific primordial dust which accreted to form this world? Certainly by that standard Venus is still going strong with its oceans evaporated away. No harm, no foul there. And indeed, in 100 billion years the burned-out cinder whose gravity currently holds our keyboards down will still have about the same gravity, largely the same collection of atoms that's here now, including our own recycled bones. That seems pretty safe.

No, the sacred thing that distinguishes this world is the extant evolved chain of life which stretches back billions of years, the ridiculous chain of unlikely accidents which temporarily makes it possible for a mind to look out at the stars and think about them.

The fact that mass extinctions have happened before by random chance has no bearing on the preferability of mass extinctions, much less a mass extinction being perpetrated by a single supposedly-sapient species. This is our mature ecosystem, and if it isn't sacred to its conscious inhabitants, then certainly nothing is or can ever be. And you're teasing me with questions because deep down you feel the same.

It's seeming that life is much rarer in the universe than was once thought, mitochondrial-type life ridiculously rare, and conscious life ridiculously rarer still. Throwing that away, degrading and diluting it, is a premature victory for non-life.

This seems like a very abstract argument, and on blogs it remains abstract, bantering, but I have been literally up to my elbows in blood in the war which is going on, have seen things which have seared my illusory soul, and know things no being should ever have to know. It's damn scary to realize that the world might not already be doomed to a reversion to simplicity and non-consciousness, but rather that this may well depend on decisions we make now.

So it isn't about "saving the earth". That's shorthand for "preventing the imminent destruction of the only complex, multicellular, and conscious life we know to exist in the universe", because we are of it, and are destroying it.

Coffee's gone, off to do chores. Best.

I think this passage presents a premature conclusion, except possibly for the part pertaining to conscious life life:

It's seeming that life is much rarer in the universe than was once thought, mitochondrial-type life ridiculously rare, and conscious life ridiculously rarer still.

I consider Ward and Brownlee's hypothesis to be unproven by a far reach...although the part pertaining to intelligent life may be more plausible to subscribe to at this early point in the data gathering...see Fermi's Paradox. The great breakpoint may be the jump to persistent intelligent, tool-making life. Such life may be rare and fleeting when it does arise.

If our civilization's course allows, we have within our means to construct instruments and place them in appropriate orbits such that we can greatly increase our characterization of extrasolar planets, at least out to ~~100 LYs or so. Spectroscopy of extrasolar atmospheres is within reach, and the ability to construct instruments to achieve ~~~25x25 pixel images of planetary disks (sufficient to discern clouds, oceans, continents, more) within ~~30 LYs may be feasible in the next two decades....if we willing to fund such an effort....other issues may more and more consume our limited resources and attention spans.

The sad part is...I don't think a significant portion of humanity would care much about these things.

That being said, I found your post moving.

Such life may be rare and fleeting when it does arise.

The "rare" part is no limitation when multiplied by the tremendous number of possible planets. The "fleeting" part becomes the more likely limitation, and if there are great discoveries to be made by some future Einstein it is quite probable that the future Fermi would then destroy the Earth with an experiment gone wrong.

I expect Fermi had this very much on his mind when he made his "where are they" remark at the Los Alamos lunch. The first fission and fusion bombs had the potential for detonating the atmosphere and undoubtedly he calculated that risk many many times.

In the spirit of Fermi it is possible to set an upper limit on the lifetime of our species based on an a priori probability that none of us are among the first 5% of individuals. This is the Doomsday argument that predicts ~1 trillion individuals, or species extinction in less than 10 thousand years at current birth rates.

I agree that 'fleeting' is much more significant than 'rare'.

However, intelligent tool-making life, such that build RF devices which may transmit its presence to the cosmos, either advertently or inadvertently, may be extremely rare.

Then there is the possibility that some of such life chooses not to advance to the stars, or chooses a simple lifestyle (think Amish-like), or builds it own 'Matrix' and exists in that self-constructed artificial reality.

Something about the 'Doomsday Argument' doesn't feel correct...not only for estimating humanity's lifespan, but for all estimations. It seems too contrived, and indifferent to underlying physical processes...perhaps too depending on arbitrary definitions (what is a human?) How would have this probability construct prediction fared if applied to the dinosaur population at the ~ 5% point in its existence?

What is a dinosaur? What is a 'car' What is a 'computer' What is a 'human'?

The rebuttals are interesting.

Note that my 'gut feel' that this construct is not correct does not stem from my wish for humanity to persist longer than ~ another 10,000 years with 95% confidence. The construct seems immune to the possibility that 'not all things might be equal', for example, a large long-period comet impacts the Earth in 100 years with enormous velocity and ends humanity...

Greer wrote about solving Fermi's paradox.

On another level, though, Fermi's Paradox can be restated in another and far more threatening way. The logic of the paradox depends on the assumption that unlimited technological progress is possible, and it can be turned without too much difficulty into a logical refutation of the assumption. If unlimited technological progress is possible, then there should be clear evidence of technologically advanced species in the cosmos; there is no such evidence; therefore unlimited technological progress is impossible. Crashingly unpopular though this latter idea may be, I suggest that it is correct - and a close examination of the issues involved casts a useful light on the present crisis of industrial civilization.

Basically, he suggests that peak oil ends all high-tech civilizations. Or at least, the local equivalent of peak oil.

Since life creates localized concentrations of energy, each planet inhabited by life forms will develop concentrated energy resources. It's reasonable to assume that our planet is somewhere close to the average, so we can postulate that some worlds will have more stored energy than ours, and some will have less. A certain fraction of planets will evolve intelligent, tool-using species that figure out how to use their planet's energy reserves. Some will have more and some less, some will use their reserves quickly and some slowly, but all will reach the point we are at today - the point at which it becomes painfully clear that the biosphere of a planet can only store up a finite amount of concentrated energy, and when it's gone, it's gone.

So, maybe life is common, and intelligent life is not uncommon, but time spent as an industrial/high-tech civilization is indeed fleeting.

Yes...there are also the dangers of nuclear weaponry, biologic weapons, chemical pollution/toxicity, climate change...

It also could be the case that interstellar travel is just too difficult...costs too much in resources to attempt, at least on anything but an extremely limited scope.

'fast' (significant fraction of the speed of light...significant being even .1c ) travel is too hard...the energy costs are enormous, and the problem of dust/'grit' collision seems insurmountable.

I have read the ideas of slow-boat probes which would proceed to other stellar systems and then bootstrap up facilities to mine and process material to make replications of itself to continue spreading to other star systems...but the engineering challenges of designing automated equipment flexible and long-lasting enough is phenomenally difficult.

The energy/resources needed to beam high-intensity focused RF/LASER communications to may different targets may also be deemed not worthwhile.

Spurious high-power RF emissions may fade away as communications are moved mainly to 'terrestrial' fiber-optic cables.

These are definitely profound unanswered questions.

It would be good for humans to realize their potentially rare/unique status and keep their flame alive...fundamentally including being good stewards of the Earth's environment...so far we are failing.

...but the engineering challenges of designing automated equipment flexible and long-lasting enough is phenomenally difficult.

Along the lines that the future will rhyme with the past. I would suggest slavery as potential solution, it always worked well in the past, to get things done without having to do it yourself. Cannibalise the necessary intelligence from the surplus intelligent lifeforms available (ie. the biological bits needed) and embed them into the appropriate autonomous technology. Et Voila!

Medical technical advancement to help the blind, deaf, mute and people suffering from paralysis or locked-in syndrome should help to perfect the necessary interface techniques. I guess the next problem would be how much of the biological organism would be required to maintain the level of intelligence needed and keep it alive?

Ah! The future's bright if we just allow ingenuity and adaptiveness solve the problems :)

Greenie – ya gotta give up baiting. I’m too dense…still don’t see the bait. Next time just use a 2X4. LOL. “Did not your foray into paleontology give you a feel for the grandeur and fragility of life”. Grandeur…kinda. Fragility…for sure. Perhaps being more familiar with the fossil record than most does make me seem callous to many: extinction is as normal an event to me as birth. I think polar bears are terrific: got to get almost none to nose with a big momma in her world outside of Churchill. Want to get my wife up there to see them in the wild ASAP. I would be greatly disappointed to see them go extinct via us or Mother. But I would get over it quickly. I agree with you: no such thing as a good extinction or a bad extinction. But I’m sure many more would mourn the loss of the PB than the Norw. rat. But that’s from a human centric view point. If one shakes their fist at the heavens and curse God/man for the loss of the PB what about the thousands of equally amazing creatures we see in the fossil record?

So aside from a personal sense of losing something I enjoy knowing is roaming around Hudson Bay I don’t care if the PB goes extinct. I don’t care if sea level rises and floods coastal areas. Nor do I get upset thinking about the time long ago when Denver was sitting at the bottom of a shallow sea. What irritates the heck out of me is the lack of concern over what our actions will do to our fellow buttheads. As you say, the PB won’t see their extinction coming. They live in the day and they see no future for themselves. But as our system becomes increasingly unstable folks will be filled with fear…as some are now. Pappa bear would just as soon eat baby bear if it gets momma bear back into "the mood".

How does that line go from Frank: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.” Do you need more than one hand to count the folks you know who can pull off that little mental trick? BTW I think many of the AGW deniers are afflicted by that “mind-killer”. Probably the biggest reason I fall on the doomer side of the fence isn’t so much about the problems heading our way but the manner in which mankind will react. We’ve recently seen $trillions of the assets of future generations spent as well as a lot of blood spent addressing problems which will seem minor compared to what’s coming down the road IMHO.

So yes…I became aware of the potential for the physical negatives of AGW decades before that acronym became common . Insignificant potential compared to what I learned of earth’s history. I really don’t care about what ever physical changes occur on the planet beyond how they directly affect folks. And I’m much more concerned how folks will react to those changes compared to the direct effects themselves. In the last decades over 100 million folks died as a result of efforts to maintain BAU as the ultimate prime cause IMHO. As I commented some time ago: I’ve seen no change in our DNA that would lead me to expect different reactions in our future.

I’ve seen no change in our DNA that would lead me to expect different reactions in our future.

The issue is how to manipulate that DNA. I have my way (see my discussion lead @ ASPO Austin) - greenish is more devious.

Best Hopes for Effective Manipulation,


Greenie – ya gotta give up baiting. I’m too dense…still don’t see the bait.

I'm all about behaviorism. I figure that asking whether you were off your meds would get you to answer, then I'd answer that. It happened. Thanks.

If one shakes their fist at the heavens and curse God/man for the loss of the PB what about the thousands of equally amazing creatures we see in the fossil record?

Well, I don't have invisible friends & don't tip my hand by fist-shaking - rookie mistake - and it'd be plain silly to blame humans for the KT impact, deccan traps, etc. I would do much to see the chambered nautilus continue to survive, despite the long-ago demise of their somewhat look-alike cousins the ammonites, in contending with israelites.

Causality is a reasonable standard for responsibility, right? Using the general existence of past disasters to argue that future preventable disasters are OK is a bit nihilistic for my taste.

...I don’t care if the PB goes extinct. I don’t care if sea level rises and floods coastal areas. Nor do I get upset thinking about the time long ago when Denver was sitting at the bottom of a shallow sea. What irritates the heck out of me is the lack of concern over what our actions will do to our fellow buttheads.

Well, I do care, and reasonable people can differ on that. I wouldn't wish PB's extinct even if I was being devoured by one. That sounds trite, but it's true. (I would, however, wish I had a large-caliber firearm. It's not good hygiene for them to be eating their advocates).

Why would anyone worry about stuff that happened millions or hundreds of millions of years ago, except to appreciate knowing the story and taking lessons from it? I trust that the concepts of past & future have not fallen out of use since my years in the geo profession; certainly less subjective than good & bad for entropy-symbiotes like us. To review: can't alter the past, can alter the future.

Seems like you choose to value our species while I see us as part of an ensemble cast. To me, a dolphin is a person in the same sense a redneck is a person, I can appreciate both for what they are and aren't. (of course, one sort's in population overshoot and one isn't, so there's that...).

How does that line go from Frank: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.”

Ha. Sci-Fi nerd. I'll bet you didn't have to google that to get the phraseology right. I certainly wouldn't; I've used it more than once.

And your invoking of it here says something, too, I think. That book was about deep ecology and sacrifice across generations, plots within plots, the interface between shallow, reactive hordes and individual calculating agents seeking to steer events for noble or selfish ends.

Do you need more than one hand to count the folks you know who can pull off that little mental trick?

Well, maybe both hands and one foot, but you're right.

Probably the biggest reason I fall on the doomer side of the fence isn’t so much about the problems heading our way but the manner in which mankind will react. We’ve recently seen $trillions of the assets of future generations spent as well as a lot of blood spent addressing problems which will seem minor compared to what’s coming down the road IMHO.

I agree.

So yes…I became aware of the potential for the physical negatives of AGW decades before that acronym became common . Insignificant potential compared to what I learned of earth’s history. I really don’t care about what ever physical changes occur on the planet beyond how they directly affect folks. And I’m much more concerned how folks will react to those changes compared to the direct effects themselves. In the last decades over 100 million folks died as a result of efforts to maintain BAU as the ultimate prime cause IMHO. As I commented some time ago: I’ve seen no change in our DNA that would lead me to expect different reactions in our future.

There is no significant change in our DNA, and there never is in response to a stressor... DNA changes add up slowly over time and are banked, and in times of stress it's the phenotypic plasticity that carries the adaptive load. And I agree: people will continue to act the way they have acted.

That's why any adult attempts to steer things must take this as the starting point: that people will not change the way they act. Like it or not, that is a constraint. It's amazing how many would-be earth-savers blow right past that basic reality. To a good first approximation, all of them.

But getting back to the main thrust: comparisons with the catastrophes of the past billion years are not particularly useful. A sort of geologist sensory-overload fallacy? There's a functional difference between the burning of the library at Alexandria and the burning of your own house next week - you can install smoke alarms and buy extinguishers to affect the odds of the latter. It's that past-future distinction cropping up again. And changes very tiny compared to the worst in the fossil record will wreck our very nice environment... and this change is far more abrupt than most past CO2-releasing events, with implications for life adapting to the changes. The human carbon-burning pulse is damn near instantaneous. That will strongly select against large, complex life with long life and low reproductive rates.

For time scales from thousands to millions of years down the road, the interests of humans align well with the interests of other extant megafauna. Hell, other extant chordates. Can you really see humans doing well long-term in the more dire scenarios? One needn't choose between humans and polar bears... how about animals with central nervous systems versus those without?

Thanks for your thoughts.... and all best.

Greenie – “Why would anyone worry about stuff that happened millions or hundreds of millions of years ago…”. Ha! You make my point for me..sorta. You’re being so greeniecentric. LOL. If you lived 200,000 years in the future you would enjoy snorkeling over those beautiful reefs above what used to be central FL. And wouldn’t pay notice to the sea mount 2,000’ below SL where the Big Island once bloomed under that tropical sun. And if all you ever saw were fossilized fragments of that long extinct and odd white bear you wouldn’t have those warm fuzzy feelings you have now. Which I share (to a degree) having seen first-hand twin cubs napping on momma’s back.

“I'll bet you didn't have to google that…” LOL. Once in another lifetime I repeated that mantra 100 times a day in an effort to keep from losing it.

“One needn't choose between humans and polar bears... how about animals with central nervous systems versus those without?” Tsk, tsk tsk. You just trashed a huge number of current and extinct critters. You dang CNS bigot.

My thoughts are free (worth what you pay for them). My geologic opinions will cost you $1800/day. LOL

Rock & Green -- fun conversation! I'm still rooting for the Cephalopoda since I think octopi are keen :)

As for the Fermi Paradox, well, not only do we exist in a vast ocean of space, but also of time. Billions of galaxies, billions of years... If something was going on in the outer reaches, we won't know about it for a lonnngg time, if ever.

If you lived 200,000 years in the future you would enjoy snorkeling over those beautiful reefs above what used to be central FL

and you make my points for me: I'm trying to enable snorkling 200ky in the future by our descendants, while BAU would consign the world to jellyfish and bacteria. I hope you don't think that conscious minds will re-evolve in 200k years if wiped out in this millennium.

I have a deep appreciation for, and knowledge, of, what happened millions of years ago.... back when no minds were available to steer things. The presence of consciousness and deliberation makes this an interesting new situation, potentially. Because it is that very consciousness and deliberation that create the danger and might ameliorate it. Mass extinctions aren't generic, and the future retains huge degrees of freedom.

And yup, I have an admitted prejudice for CNS existence. Just a wild & crazy guy that way.

Deep time is well accounted-for in my philosophy, such as it is. Yours maybe would benefit from a bit of agitation to even out some mounds in the talus slope? Actually, I have some fondness for extinct critters as well, and am sorry I never met them.

My geologic opinions are $2000/day plus expenses... I kept raising the price until people stopped asking.

Huh? Fear is your friend. It gets you motivated and gets you the hell out of Dodge when necessary. We have instincts for a reason...

a few eloquent pair of comments greenish

A while back here as you repeatedly expounded on the pivot/leverage point method (or whatever you call it) for changing future outcomes, I became curious as just to where you where coming from. Finally I've seen you tip your hand in a clear fashion, though I am not certain of exactly what path forward you have chosen. Even late in the game viewpoints can shift some.

Somewhere in the 'leverage point' strings of threads--when you mentioned having recently hit your head--I asked you if you forgot to check the knots (it was a Peter Boyle, Steelyard Blues reference). I've since hit the reset myself (the 32ft/sec x sec one). Interesting how a massive reorganization of some of the trunk lines (at what may be near a teenage rate) affects outlook at three score plus--many subtle changes and no clear reference points from which to view them. Don't know if your knock on the noggin was quite that intense.

One needn't choose between humans and polar bears... how about animals with central nervous systems versus those without?

That could be what lies ahead as it seems a whole lot of Caseys look to have lost the handle. The main yard might well become a single blob of steel if a good many switches can't be thrown near simultaneously, assuming the freights haven't blown by them already.


.. ..

.. ..

"There's something happening here"

Hey there.

My noggin has returned to the low standard of functionality I have come to regard as normal for my 60's. I hope yours is doing well. Dealing with some other issues now which will involve a partial cyborg-like rebuild in a week or two. Goes along with the job description, I guess.

There are many possible paths forward, choosing my own is still in progress. At the moment I'm just a low-profile hermit with an unusual skillset and a light-saber.

You're dead right that nobody is steering this train. As for where I'm coming from? Search your feelings, Luke....

no light saber way up here in my cave ?-)

It has been an interesting 'rebirth' since my misstep (the screen went black for an instant but audio never went out, sounded like a bowling ball hitting the concrete from about 8' up)--some truly teenage/youth feelings of wonder now overlay my perception/thoughts--so the reset reference. Glad you made the full return. Like I said, some of the frame of reference lost here so I can't tell where exactly I landed, but considering where it could have been I am very pleased with the outcome.

'happy' trails to you greenish...chosing paths does seem to be what it is all about...

Well said, except the decaf part. How is decaf supposed to get the blood into/jumpstart your brain? ;)
(There's still a little bit of caf in decaf, right?)

>Perhaps man’s destructive activities just makes us one of Mother’s tools

Mother Nature is a Wicked Old Witch


Greetings, Rock,

And happy gratitude season to you and yours!

re: "The meek will not inherit the earth IMHO."

I've often wondered if it may well be the case that post-peak (and post other "issues" referred to eloquently in Ron's post), the people living in so-called "primitive" culture(s), i.e., living the most sustainably (so to speak) - if there are any such anywhere left (i.e., "stone-age"?) - (is Papua, New Guinea an example, or not?) - would left to inherit. Last to industrialize - (or,rather, avoid industrializing altogether) - first to keep on in the post-industrial age.

This idea has always reminded me of the verse you refer to.

re: Protecting the planet.

Perhaps the idea is more like this: protecting the human ecosystem (home planet), or, at least - not trashing it completely - for the sake of a chance to: "We need to change our ways for the sake of man."

But I know what you mean.

re: man - let's call it humankind.

I heard a bit of an interview with Ted Dekker. (http://www.coasttocoastam.com/show/2012/11/24) (I'm not saying the show is routinely of high quality.) One of the things I found interesting is that he was raised from birth to age six with tribal people (his parents were missionaries). One of his great themes is that people are all alike. (which I don't think is true, actually, however, it's true enough.)

What future? Back to the future, more likely. As in

"The past is a guide to the future? Comparing Middle Pliocene vegetation with predicted biome distributions for the twenty-first century"


No humans in the Pliocene of course, but the general environment was pretty healthy. In fact; "An example from the geological past of vegetation without modern equivalent is the highly diverse Middle Pleistocene warm-temperate forests of central and western Europe, which were replaced over the course of repeating glacial and interglacial periods by ‘impoverished’ modern deciduous forests"

In other words the Ice Ages pretty much trashed the European forests, and they still haven't recovered. The Mediterranean blocked their escape route south.

As George Carlin said more or less; "The Earth will be fine; Humans will be fscked." That 25 meter change in sea level is going to make a major mess, and the zones suitable for agriculture are going to move to somewhere not currently well predicted.

..."The Earth will be fine; Humans will be fscked." That 25 meter change in sea level is going to make a major mess... ~ PVguy

It was nice knowing you.

"That 25 meter change in sea level is going to make a major mess.."

"It was nice knowing you."

I live 360 meters up. I will be fine, at least from sea level change. :-)

Bonneville dam would be drowned though. The Dalles dam would still be operational.

I've heard it said that the U.S. agricultural zones will just move to Canada -- no big deal, right? Unless you consider the issue of arable topsoil...

And the land area shrinks as one goes north.

And chaotic, unpredictable rainfall patterns till things "settle down" (circa 2150 ?)


And the amount of daylight...

As someone interested in economics and any possible way forward, I compare PO to the euro crisis.

First the euro crisis. A split back into the old currencies is probably best for everyone in the long run - theoretically. The currencies of southern Europe could adjust downward so they could improve their competitive positions and attract investment again. However, that outcome is going to be delayed as long as possible because there is no saying what will happen to the financial infrastructure of Europe and the world. It may mean a deflation/hyperinflation dynamic that destabilizes the world orders of magnitude worse than it is already unstable.

Same for PO. We can say stopping FF use is the only way to achieve a healthy planet where humans also take part but IMHO stopping using FF abruptly will destabilize everything orders of magnitude worse than AGW is already doing.

Show me a third way, I haven't found one. Not having a third way is no reason to blame any messengers who are only trying to help us assess reality so we can think of a "way out". I am resigned to my/our fate which again may seem defeatist. It's just too easy to criticize the thrust of what others have to say without presenting a solution of one's own which in turn can withstand the required healthy criticism.

I really should get off my thumbs and pitch Permaea to the Permaculture Research Institute, so I'll give it a go this week. I might also consider a Permaculture Center too.

I wonder how many tons of nuclear waste there are around the world and how many rockets would be needed to blast it all into space, such as to the moon or Venus. I realize that rockets can blow up, but maybe we could be really careful.

Yes, I've commented on the Savory Institute here and a few people beat me to it before me I've now discovered. Unfortunately this is not a permaculture site either so these things only get mentioned obliquely now and then. I think we can conclude they are bottom up solutions and they will have a tough time even holding their ground against BAU. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be idealistic and go for it anyway.

There is a type of nuclear reactor that can “eat” nuclear waste from current reactors. Its called LFTR, (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor), but as its a “nuclear reactor” its not possible for anti-nucs to consider it.

Interesting concept.

So far my 'sniff test' of such ideas which are characterized as 'nice ideas except for those anti-xx/greens/etc' is:

Why haven't technologically advanced, and much more authoritarian countries such as Russia and China built one yet?

Even though they are more democratic than China or Russia, I would add Japan and South Korea to this list.

LFTR was politicized by Richard Nixon.
Alvin Weinberg, inventor of both the light water reactor and LFTR, was the Oak Ridge Lab's director.
But he wanted safety, while Nixon wanted a liquid metal breeder (they can make a lot of plutonium for bombs).
After Nixon fired Weinberg, nobody wanted to touch the LFTR concepts.

We had one, worked great, but it was shut down - due to the politics.

As far as Russian, China, etc.,
Russia is participating in the Fuji Molten Salt Reactor Consortium,
China has announced their plans for LFTRs.

Another reason for the lack of LFTRs is that the light water uranium fueled reactors proceed fairly directly from plutonium-for-bombs reactors, and any large scale nuclear fission technology is an expensive undertaking. Until recently, only the most far-sighted could see (a) uranium isn't going to last/be cheap much longer, (b) light water reactors weren't near as safe as they've been made out to be, and (c) there's a bunch of waste from light water reactors, and reprocessing is just too expensive.

<sarcasm> If peak oil was real, the governments/oil industry/... of the world would be doing something about it. So, sorry, it fails my sniff test when those peak oil advocates claim conspiracies to suppress the truth.... </sarcasm>

Are you familiar with the IEA WEO 2008 "surprise" about decline rates?
After repeated criticism by peak oil geologists for their overly simplistic methodology of supply estimation (the IEA took estimated demand, and said that will be the supply), the IEA did a detailed analysis of 800 oil fields and found that decline was an average of 6.7%/yr, and looking ahead, it would be 8.6% in 2030. After the OECD politicians and the priests of the religion of economics of infinite-growth-forever ran home and cleaned themselves up and put on new underwear, they did what any sensible dogmatic would do - fired the messengers.

Oh, scared myself so much I'll have to quit reading and get back to designing my solar house...
Our leadership is too stupid to know how stupid they are, or even that they are stupid.
Excuse me, "unskilled and unaware" say the polite experimental psychologists.

There is no great need to build one in an authoritarian country. Just not a priority. LFTR technology is not useful to produce plutonium (like RBMK reactors are), the fuel in standard civilian reactors is a almost vanishingly small part of the cost already, the waste after 60 years takes up very little room, and there is no shortage of ways to make electricity.

The only country that really has a strategic desire for thorium reactors is India, due to its rather limited supply of uranium.

That said, the technology certainly is promising, it seems to me it will eventually be developed.

If a proliferation proof, intrinsically safe modular reactor of simple design fueled primarily with thorium was available right now it would do nothing to prevent a liquid fuel shortage in the near future.

Interesting thoughts...perhaps they will be built eventually...but if we wait too long, the window of opportunity may have passed.

I do not think plutonium production is any priority at all...not a factor in new reactor designs.

Plutonium production is not a factor in new designs, it is a legacy of old designs.
Plutonium production, then naval propulsion was the primary goal in the early research and design work that eventually lead to the first generation of civilian nuclear reactors. It is my understanding that Chernobyl was graphite moderated, and was allowed to have a positive void coefficient so the Soviets could preserve the ability to produce plutonium if need be (it also allowed the reactor to run on unenriched uranium). This is why the reactor was grossly unstable on loss of cooling.
In current authoritarian governments eg Iran and N Korea, plutonium production may indeed be a priority, and will not be accomplished with thorium.
India's first bomb, IIRC, was built with material made with a research reactor purchased from Canada. The Canadians were very upset.

You may be right re the window of opportunity.

"Nukes are our friends", Tom said glowingly.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

"Tom Swift and his Atomic Pile Driver" comes to mind.

My memory failed me - I hadn't seen the book in 40 years - here is the book I was referring to:
IIRC Victor Appleton III was the nom de plum for the same author as Nancy Drew etc.

The original well spring of that odd sort of humor known as the Tom Swift -
("I've dropped my toothpaste" he said, crestfallen.)

I search for "thorium reactors" on news.google.com all the time.

Seems a technocopian dream so far, as I have yet to find a single commercial electrical thorium reactor in service, and I have been doing my periodic searches since joining TOD.

India and Russia have them, still small and experimental.

I read about India having a thorium reactor but it was a solid fuel thorium reactor. Those still have most of the disadvantages of our current uranium light-water reactors. I had not read about russia having one, although I would kind of be surprised if they weren't developing demonstration LFTR's (Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor) discreetly, TBH.

In the US, there is a company which is trying to make a LFTR.... It's called Flibe Energy (flibe-energy.com) in Alabama, headed by one Kirk Sorenson, a wicked smart fellow. The trouble he is facing with development is lack of funding due to weak prospects of getting permitted by the government to proceed with his demo reactor.

molten salt thorium reactors have been in operation on earth in recent memory, this alone shows technical feasibility in my eyes... considering everything I've read about the situation it is politics that are preventing any further progress. Basically, the current Nuclear Power industry doesn't want competition from some upstart new kid on the block like LFTRs.

Technology for technology's sake, technology to fix the problems that technology created, and technology applied without adequate ethical/philosophical investigations/considerations seems inappropriate technology.

Fast neutron reactors can use reprocessed spent fuel rods. Thorium reactors require fission material to get them started.

While people have begun to accept ecological limits on maximum per capita energy use as a condition for physical survival, they do not yet think about the use of minimum feasible power as the foundation of any of various social orders that would be both modern and desirable. Yet only a ceiling on energy use can lead to social relations that are characterized by high levels of equity... Participatory democracy postulates low-energy technology. Only participatory democracy creates the conditions for rational technology... beyond a certain level of per capita GNP, the cost of social control must rise faster than total output and become the major institutional activity within an economy. Therapy administered by educators, psychiatrists, and social workers must converge with the designs of planners, managers, and salesmen, and complement the services of security agencies, the military, and the police... beyond a certain median per capita energy level, the political system and cultural context of any society must decay.
~ Ivan Illich

>but IMHO stopping using FF abruptly will destabilize everything orders of magnitude worse than AGW is already doing

And here's the really good news. If we did stop FF use abruptly, then the world would quickly warm by an additional quarter to half degree, and stay there for centuries. This is because of aerosols (which currently mask some of the AGW) being flushed out of the atmosphere.

Attics are almost always warmer than outside - summer & winter - even if well ventilated..

*GREAT* in heat pump mode, more heat to harvest :-) Condensation could be a concern though.

*TERRIBLE* in summer - it can be like living in Phoenix (or worse) from an efficiency POV in a/c mode.

I would add a whole house surge breaker for any new a/c unit. *LOTS* of computers & delicate electronics in the new units.


I doubt that attics would be good even in heat pump mode, with perhaps a few exceptions. I suspect it would not take that long for the "outside" unit to chill the attic to below true outdoor temperatures, especially at night and with a properly air tight/insulated ceiling. The only way around this would be to increase attic ventilation beyond the recommended level. Which means your attic more closely matches outdoor conditions...

re" The only way around this would be to increase attic ventilation beyond the recommended level. Which means your attic more closely matches outdoor conditions...

It isn't a recommended level...it is the minimum level that is in code. The more ventilation the better. Outside conditions is a perfect situation, now, just keep the starlings and squirreels out and you have a house resistent to condensation and rot..

Long time builder, here.


At the level of the disease organism, they aren't diseases. IOW, if you were a disease organism, you wouldn't think of your self (if you could think) as a disease. Your sister wouldn't be "My sister, the disease...".

You said: "...despite efforts at eradicating disease, there are those that deliberately create it digitally as code." I read a fun article on gonorrhea. The organism resides in humans' throats, and it has little feelers or arms with which it gathers biofragments drifting by. It incorporates the DNA of the gathered bits into its own DNA.

This article was in the NYTimes a couple days back. The gonorrhea critter has good resistance to drugs because it keeps incorporating chunks of drug resistant DNA into its own. So while humans may take down much of the natural world with them, life itself is still pretty amazing and resilient. Even STD life.

Real weird to read all this stuff here. First, somebody talks with great depth and precision about how much of X kind of poison there is yet to be found. And then somebody else says, "yea, but if you drink it, your'e dead". And then the first guy and his cohorts say "And over here we might have a lot more of it, and oh, by the way, sure, we all know if we drink it we are all dead, but back to the point, right over there's a lot more-- keep us happy for another month or so".

And this from all you good folks who are really in the know. So why should I be the least shocked to find at the big thanksgiving feast, that my highly educated kindly liberal quaker type friends had no clue whatsoever about any of this, and just kept remarking on how nice and warm and sunny the day was, not at all like the old cold clammy thanksgivings they remember just a few years back?

They did, however, think it good of me to have got off the grid and onto PV, even tho they couldn't say exactly what the good of it was.

'Discussions About Energy and Our Future', or 'Discussions About Energy and No Future'? You make the call!

My suggestion for the revamped oildrum slogan was "Discussions about Energy and/or Future".

It didn't get the necessary traction.

That's pretty good.

"had no clue"

There is no corporate value in telling them, so they are not told by the corporate media. There is value in telling them that everything is just fine with burning the stuff and there is plenty to burn: Consume!

The power to hide things from the public is pretty amazing. On November 14th, there were world-wide anti-austerity protests in twenty countries involving millions of people. Hardly a word about it here in America. Certainly no continuing coverage. The game here is to see how many times can you say "fiscal cliff" in five minutes day after day.

To slow the consumption, they would have to be told "Do it the more expensive or less convenient way"... but cost and reflex overrule sense: It is natural to shop at Walmart because it is immediately cheaper, even though it is cutting their own throats, destroying their local economies, which is eventual. The matter could be taken out of the consumer's hands by making the dangerous behavior more expensive than the good... but that "moves someones cheese": that lessens the profits of the well-ingrained purveyors of bad.

To slow consumption, to turn down the flame, is to destroy this economy. This economy depends on exponential growth. Stepping back from that destroys its very underpinnings: charging the present off to a ever better future.

The problem with projecting the future from the present is it ignores the novel.

Telling the kids is the best thing we could do. Give them something to think about other than Call of Duty Black Ops II http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6vOWbJ46XU or Justin Bieber http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kffacxfA7G4 804 million views: second most played video ever. Maybe thinking about carbon sequestration is better. The ocean is doing that now... absorbing the CO2 and turning into a giant fizzy acid drink that will soon-enough dissolve the shells right off of the shellfish.

Gangnam Style is interesting. It presents that all is not as it seems. The pursuit of more is empty. The sandy beach resort opening is actually a kid's playground. The blowing wind and hair fantasy is in a parking garage with flying trash. The coffee reference is about over-spending on conspicuous luxuries. Despite all of its upbeat pep, the song is in a minor key. Gangnam is a high-class neighborhood in Korea. "Oppan gang-namseutayil" means "Oppa lives Gangnam style". Yellow-suit and elevator boy are television character cameos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0 816 million views: The most played video ever.

Gangnam is a high-class neighborhood in Korea

Ahhh, the missing piece to the puzzle !

I presently work in a place that allows a radio to blast during work hours. When the local pop radio station in tuned in, I hear this song frequently.

So, when I tripped over the song title in a Goggle News blurb, I watched the video for the first time and then went looking for English lyrics, which were found.

The other details you mention, all in all, make it nonsensical to me as it seems to pretty much all operate at the reptile level and other similar parts of the brain.

But I didn't know what 'Gangnam', itself was - till now.

So,it makes sense as a puzzle put together does, but adds nothing of lasing consequence, I'll note.

Whether humans persist or not, it's important to have fun. Fun is of lasting consequence.

Google for the lyrics and you may find an explanation by an English teacher there, very informative.


Many comments have appeared over the 'net about sort of training a young person acquires via those violent video games. Here's a screen capture from one sequence of the latest Call to Duty game and there are other similar examples on YouTube. Looks like lots of fun, but what it teaches the player is to kill without question, disregarding large quantities of dead bodies left behind. It's rather like the classic training for warfare, in which one must learn to kill "the enemy" without remorse. Indeed, this sequence involves killing non-living "zombies", which look much like starving humans. Is this preparation for the next class of mercenaries, who will be tasked with joining the control and cleanup squads after some event which results in massive social disruption?

My neighbor forwarded an e-mail with a link to one of those conspiracy claims, also on YouTube, in which piles of ready to load plastic caskets were shown. The implication is that the Evil Government is planning to put lots of put lots of dead people underground as rapidly as possible. Turns out, the caskets are owned by the CDC, which might be preparing for some sort of high mortality pandemic, although some other "die back" event would also fit the need for such equipment.

E. Swanson

Yep. Telling the kids is a big part of my strategy, Very brief:
1) Global warming is gonna make life hell for you
2) WE the adults are doing it to YOU, and you oughta be really mad about it
3) YOU have got to cut off fossil fuel NOW, not later.
4) Simple way- put a real big, progressively bigger tax on carbon
5)Take the money and innovate.
6) Do it- and sue the hell out of the people who get in the way.

OK, my civic duty done, back to washing the dishes.

Dear wimbi

Excellent post.

I might re-write point five.

Over to you, Aniya. Do it.

Hi wimbi

Excellent response. :)

I guess I was just thinking: guidelines for innovation? (as in did you have any? Or, do you consider that points 1-4 are a logical case against any further suggestion - from the group who collectively brought you GCC. - ?)

I mean, there's plenty of innovation around. The problem is, most of it's centered on how to continue the use of FF. (Or, I should say - how to continue to increase the use of same.) Not adjust to their decline and/or/to non-existence.


Oops... too late:

Animals are already dissolving in Southern Ocean acid

Animals Are Literally Being Dissolved Alive Because of Acid in the Ocean

Acid oceans DISSOLVING sea life

Extensive dissolution of live pteropods in the Southern Ocean

All much the same article... but you can tell by the titles that the concept really freaks 'em out. As a sign of the end, it's just not as spectacular as fires streaking through the sky, the trembling earth, singing and trumpets... something we would think of... no... no... in reality... the snails are dissolving.

Although it is probably a good investment to do some upgrading of the centralized power grid the first investment should be DEcentralized solar/wind/microhydro power with some sort of backup. The day after Hurricane Sandy devastated us in New Jersey and left millions out of power the sun was shining and thus solar electric power could be produced regardless of the centralized power grid. Like the Internet, distributed power will be much more robust and has the great advantage of cutting both fossil fuel usage as well as greenhouse emissions after installation.

We will have to get to that point sooner or later anyway. Why wait?

As I have suggested before a goal should be that public schools and buildings whenever
feasible (which is about 90% due to surrounding playgrounds and athletic fields) should be fitted with solar panels and emergency power backup.

That is a start which will also save schools millions of dollars in electricity bills in the next 20 years...

The prediction that Canada will produce 5.5 million b/d in 2020 is excessively optimistic - they can't build the facilities that fast. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which is probably the best source, currently estimates Canadian production will be 4.7 million b/d in 2020, versus about 3.2 million b/d now. This assumes continued high prices, though.

See CAPP Forecast June 2012 for details.


If real oil prices (inflation adjusted) remain where they are now (or rise slowly), do you think the CAPP forecast is realistic? The IEA forecast is only 17 % higher than the CAPP forecast so it might be considered an upper bound and one could surmise that Canadian crude plus condensate output might be in the range of 3.9 to 5.5 Mbopd in 2020. I agree that the IEA forecast is optimistic, though you have stated before (and I agree) that their forecasts are almost always optimistic.


If prices remain the same or only rise slowly, I think the CAPP forecast will be accurate. If oil prices rise dramatically and stay high (which is always possible), then I think the IEA forecast might come true. The IEA forecasts are almost always overoptimistic. The CAPP forecasts are usually more realistic - and the CAPP is working from local knowledge.

RMG and dcoyne,

I have a hard time seeing tar sands production hitting CAPP's forecast. Leaving aside CO2 emissions, the large water demand, environmental contamination, landscape devastation, and the need to import condensate to export bitumen by pipeline, the tar sands still have this one major problem; it requires a lot of energy to extract bitumen.

Most of the energy needed to extract bitumen is supplied by NG and with an EROI between 3.8 and 5.7 the tar sands are financially exposed should a large rise in the price of NG occur. Sure, the price of NG has never been lower, but here at TOD it's pretty clear that production from the shale gas treadmill is a short term fix. As well, Canadian NG production peaked in 2002 and is declining quickly. It's hard not to conclude that we'll see a very large jump in NG prices in the short term.

The price spike may be delayed by associated gas from the Bakken and the other oil shales, but this is again a short term fix. Climate change may also depress or delay a rise in NG prices, more "non-winter" winters in the U.S. NE may do that, but the flip side is that hotter summers will burn through NG supplies because of increasing electricity demand for cooling.

Further the proportion of household energy use that is provided by NG in Canada is 43% (2007 data)

Broken down by province...

Natural gas was the principal energy source for households in Alberta, accounting for 77% of their total energy use (Table 3-1). Natural gas made up 70% of household energy use in Saskatchewan, 58% in Ontario, 52% in British Columbia, and 49% in Manitoba. It is generally unavailable to most households east of Ontario.

A lot of Canadians rely on NG to heat their homes. When an NG price spike occurs people might start wondering why it costs so much more than they expected. There will likely be a lot of anger when all those Canadian households realize how much NG is being used in the tar sands, and how little energy is returned on that NG investment. They'll also be paying a lot more to fill up the car with gasoline at that point too, so they they may conclude that the tar sands aren't the economic benefit to the country that the oil patch and the cons have made it out to be.

CAPP's forecasts have also over-promised and under-delivered on production. RMG pointed out in reply to this point (somehwere in an old drumbeat) that the 2009 collapse in oil price reduced investment in the tar sands. Which is a fair point, a point that highlights how expensive it is to extract bitumen from the tar sands. So, when we see a spike in the price of NG, will we see the massive investments needed in the tar sands?



Andrew, the price of natural gas is determined by market conditions in the US, not Canada. At this point in time, the US has a surplus of natural gas, so the price is severely depressed, which is a bonus for the oil sands producers.

Alberta is curtailing exports to the US and diverting NG to the oil sands, but the Americans don't care because after all they do have a surplus of shale gas. Eastern Canada is dealing with it by importing more and more natural gas from the US rather than Alberta, which works out well from both the Eastern Canadian and US gas producer perspective.

Quebec and Ontario could produce their own shale gas from their own shale gas formations rather than buy it from the US, but they seem to view fracking as worse than a vampire infestation, so they are importing it from the US instead. It is their choice and I can't argue with it since I don't live there and don't want to.

And as I'm fond of pointing out, you don't need NG to extract oil from oil sands, all you need is process heat, and any source of process heat will do. Bitumen gasification, nuclear, solar energy, it doesn't really matter - pick the one which is cheapest (NG at this point in time).

As for the rest, Canada has dropped out of Kyoto so CO2 emissions are not restricted (as if they ever were); oil sands production uses only 2.5% of the water available in the Athabasca River - it is bigger than the Colorado which provides water to cities in seven US states and Mexico; the environmental impact looks big but it is a minor percentage of the vast Boreal forest - and they will reclaim it when they are done; and the shortage of diluent is being solved by the American shale gas boom. Since they are losing money on NG, US companies are producing a lot of NGLs - but US refineries don't need that much NGL, so they are shipping the surplus to Canada for use as diluent.

In fact, the biggest problem is a shortage of skilled labor, but I think within that constraint companies can probably up Canadian production of oil to 4.7 million b/d by 2020. CAPP is probably right - but it all depends on price, as everything in the oil sands does..


I agree with RMG. I know less than him about oil sands industry, but asked him in the past about possible natural gas limitations and was convinced that this is unlikely to be a probem before 2020.



Energy Information Administration (EIA) in their Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO 2012) presents EIA’s views on tight (shale) oil (and shale gas) towards 2035.

At the beginning of a shale play’s development, high initial well production rates result in significant production growth as drilling activity in the play increases. The length of time over which the rapid growth can be sustained depends on the size of the technically recoverable resource in each play, the rate at which drilling activity increases, and the extent of the play’s “sweet spot” area [115]. In the longer term, production growth tapers off as high initial production rates of new wells in “sweet spots” are offset by declining rates of existing wells, and as drilling activity moves into less-productive areas. As a result, in the later stages of a play’s resource development, maintaining a stable production rate requires a significant increase in drilling.

EIA AEO 2012, pages 57,58

The amount of drilling that occurs each year depends on company budgets and finances and the economics of drilling, completing, and operating a well—determined largely by wellhead prices for oil and natural gas in the area. For example, current high crude oil prices and low natural gas prices are directing drilling toward those plays or portions of plays with a high concentration of liquids (crude oil, condensates, and natural gas plant liquids). Clearly, not all the wells that would be needed to develop each play fully can be drilled in one year—for example, more than 630,000 new wells would be needed to bring total U.S. shale gas and tight oil resources into production. In 2010, roughly 37,500 total oil and natural gas wells were drilled in the United States. It takes time and money to evaluate, develop, and produce hydrocarbon resources.

EIA AEO 2012, page 59

Apparently US EIA in their most recent outlook has a more “pessimistic” outlook about developments in US tight (shale) oil than IEA (International Energy Agency) in their World Energy Outlook 2012 (WEO 2012) and EIA seem to be aware of the “Red Queen effect” in shale plays.


He warned that the geology and reservoir performance of the oil shales were "poorly known,"

After drilling thousands of wells into oil shales, the reservoir performance is poorly known?? How many wells do you need to drill to understand oil shales?

Frugal - Exactly. The reservoir dynamics were studied and fully understood many decades ago. In fact, that production dynamic has little to do with the rock being shale. There are sandstone reservoirs (especially in the Rockies) which have very little matrix (the rock part of the rock)permeability that produce primarily from fractures. The Eagle Ford, etc shales are made up of mud that was composed mostly of silicate minerals. But the hottest fractured "shale" play at one time was the Austin Chalk which was a shale composed mostly of carbonate (like limestone) minerals. "Shale" often is describing the size of the original grains in the deposit...essentially mud. The unique thing about the shale plays is that the shale also the source rock.

The reservoir dynamic (fracture production) has little bearing on the composition of the host rock. You can make an artificial reservoir out of any impermeable and brittle material, fracture it and then study the mechanics of the flow characteristics. In fact, many decades ago when they first began studying fracture flow that's exactly what they did to eliminate variables that might be caused by the nature of the host rock.

As I've said too many times: there is nothing new about fracture production, frac'ng or drilling horizontal holes and frac'ng them.

In fact, many decades ago when they first began studying fracture flow that's exactly what they did to eliminate variables that might be caused by the nature of the host rock.

I'm not familiar with that study. Would you be so kind as to reference it by name or link ?

I am most interested in how the researchers defined fracture compressibility.

….and here is more about tight oil from Bakken (ND).

Chart above shows development from January 2007 and as of September2012 in crude oil from Bakken in North Dakota.

Wells on Confidential List are not included.

About 84% of tight oil production from Bakken comes now from 4 counties (see map below), Dunn, Mackenzie, Mountrail and Williams, all in the western part of North Dakota.
Note that oil production from Bowman (white area in the chart) is in steep decline.

North Dakota has an area of around 183 000 sq km and the 4 counties with the major portion of tight oil production cover an area of around 23 400 sq km (or around 13% of North Dakota).

A little exercise in math with area (adjusted for lakes) and well spacing should give some idea about the potential and what can be expected going forward.


Are these hot of the press numbers? Or did I miss the discussion on declining ND production?

I realize this is only a one quarter drop, but I would have expected to see the first drop during winter when fraccing is restricted, not during summer and the mad rush to get wells online was taking place. Unless water was a problem?

With all the hype, I couldn't imagine it is a problem producing oil from the formations being an issue. /sarc


Numbers are hot off the press, but does NOT include data from wells still on the Confidential List. Total production is still growing from Bakken ND.


What is the Confidential List and why is it not included?

I can't speak specifically to N Dakota, but in many states drilling results have an automatic confidentiallity period.

In Alaska for example, all operators on non federal acreage must supply logs and test results to the State. The information is automatically held confidential for 2 years. At the end of that time, for most wells, logs and test results become public. There are provisions for "Extended Confidentiality" in some cases, such as when there is unleased acreage nearby, in which case well data can be kept confidential until after the next lease sale. Certain other rules for extended confidentiallity apply on private lands.


in North Dakota operators have the option to have data on wells put on Confidential List for a period of 6 months from the wells are spudded. Normally a well starts to flow within this (6 month) period and flow data for the wells on Confidential List will become public as the Confidential period expires.

The period may be extended if there are delays, like waiting for fracking etc. This needs an application according to a set of rules.


Thanks Rune,

As to your comment "but does NOT include data from wells still on the Confidential List", unless there is a fundamental reason for the "confidential" wells to be different in production profile, then one would assume that they will also follow sooner or later.

It all seems a little earlier than what the hype would suggest.

Yes, the data from the wells on the Confidential List will follow as the Confidential period expires.

The main objective with the chart was to show the most productive counties in North Dakota. I should have been more specific that the chart did not include production from wells still on the Confidential List. This is normally wells that has flowed roughly between 1 to 4 months.

Total monthly production as reported by NDIC includes production from wells on Confidential List.


I would think that the wells on the confidential list could make the production in the last two or three months higher than it appears on the chart. Thus, it could make most of the downturn disappear.

If there is always a confidential list, it will produce the same kind of effect if the chart is redrawn a few months from now.

Of course, with declining rig count, we do expect recent oil production eventually to level off and fall. The existence of these wells on the Confidential period makes it harder to see what is happening.

You mention that total production is available from the North Dakota Industrial Commission. It would be good to include this too on a graph. This report says, "August oil at 701,409 barrels of oil a day; Sept. oil at 728,494 barrels a day (a new record)."

The rig count on the above referenced report is not coming down very fast. According to the report, on November 20, 2012, it was 187. October permitting is quite high - 370 drilling.

The report also says,

Rig count has stabilized at around 190 as operators transition to higher efficiency rigs and implement cost cutting measures. The idle well count remained constant indicating an estimated 300 wells waiting on fracturing services. Rapidly escalating well costs that consumed capital spending budgets faster than many companies anticipated and uncertainty surrounding future federal policies on hydraulic fracturing are impacting capital investment decisions.

If there is a big backlog of unfracked wells, this will keep production rising as well, even after rig counts decrease.

I will add the time series of total production and break it into Bakken (inclusive Sanish and Three Forks) and the rest of ND.
As you point out as the wells on Confidential List expires, production from these will be added.

NDIC also reports totals each month (the numbers you refer) inclusive those wells on Confidential List, but data on individual wells on Confidential List are not public available until the Confidential period expires.

There is a backlog of wells waiting to be fracked.

Rigs may be an indicator, best indicator are net added wells with reported production.
I have read anecdotal histories of companies having to scale back late this year due to increases in capital expenditures (budget constraints).

Again, my objective was to show which areas that most of the tight oil production from ND now comes from.

Again, my objective was to show which areas that most of the tight oil production from ND now comes from.

That is certainly clear. However considering the mission of this site you could see how a quick takeaway from the chart would be that there has been leveling followed by the decline in the last four months. The replies to Toolpush cleared that up but without the discussion your chart might have unintentionally left a lasting but wrong impression.

Is there any easy way you can overlay charts produced from the same data but ending in each of the preceding four-six months one atop the other? That should show just how big an effect not being able to include the Confidential List has on shape of the tail of the curve--which is the part, like it or not, that almost all who frequent this site pay close attention to.


I am looking into breaking out the data so that it is possible to see the effects from the wells that still are on the Confidential List.

I will also look into the procedure proposed by you.


Reading on:

The idle well count remained constant indicating an estimated 300 wells waiting on fracturing services.

Also, remember that not all production from North Dakota is from tight oil, although the vast majority is.

About 84% of tight oil production from Bakken comes now from 4 counties (see map below), Dunn, Mackenzie, Mountrail and Williams, all in the western part of North Dakota.
Note that oil production from Bowman (white area in the chart) is in steep decline.

No worries - I have it on good authority that ND has an infinite number of counties...

Gas explosion levels building, injures 18 in Springfield, Massachusetts

(Reuters) - An explosion triggered by a gas leak destroyed a strip club in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, on Friday, injuring 18 people, although none seriously, authorities said.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the building, a Scores Gentlemen's Club, exploded at about 5:25 p.m. as gas company workers, police officers and firefighters were responding to a leak in the area.

Edit: Is this a sign of an aging infrastructure..? :-S

Either that or some oil patch hand was smoking when he shouldn't have been. LOL. But seriously of course it is. It’s like the old line about a new wooden fence: it never looks better than right after it's completed. Pipelines etc immediately start deteriorating as soon as they go in online. Every system that has hydrocarbons flowing through it has some form of "corrosion tags" in it to monitor the rate of deterioration. Just like the BIG ONE...the earth quake that will destroy L.A… it's not a question of if the various components of the infrastructure will fail but when.

And this may represent another downside of PO that some have not envisioned: decreased motivation to maintain the hydrocarbon based energy distribution system. I suspect this is one reason why BP didn't care to spend much money maintaining the Alaskan Pipeline: diminishing return as they anticipated less through put in the coming decades. Any portion of the infrastructure can be maintained properly...if there is sufficient financial motivation. Aside from regulatory compliance the oil patch won't spend one penny more than required to maintain infrastructure if it doesn't produced an adequate ROR. So no different than every other US industry.

And I could throw in a whole lot more "downsides of PO that some have not envisioned":

1. Nations that continue oil subsidies for local citizens over exports because they fear domestic upheaval more than they fear balance of trade deficits

2. Investors who won't back profitable renewable energy projects because they are scared of the whole energy change idea and can make a more certain buck by lending that cash to consumers at high interest rates

3. Renewable solar crashing on a residential level because of massive theft of solar panels by desperate poor people

4. Refineries closing down as high gas prices make consumers too price sensitive - thus destroying already razor thin profit margins

5. High gas prices making more people leave rural areas with long drives- thus making it harder to find workers to operate rigs in remote places- thus raising costs even more to bid up wages- recycle

6. The abandonment of oil/electric supply to rural america in general due to high costs per resident and residents unable to afford these costs- thus interfering with agricultural production

I could go on and on- I have learned one thing in the past 20 years: people are not rational. Mind you, rational economic man is not a fiction, but he is often and regularly overrruled by uneconomic man. People make, individually and collectively, disasterous choices that are obvious mistakes from the get go. PO is not going to go according to any manuals, textbooks or pundit wisdom- it is going to surprise everyone- even us here on TOD. In many ways D. Orlov is right: the best way to psychologically prepare for PO is to get rid of all your ideas and be ready to expect anything. Even when I read TOD I try to remind myself that I have really learned nothing certain about the future. Most are uncomfortable with this idea.

"Is this a sign of an aging infrastructure..?"

"...caused by “human error” on the part of a Columbia Gas of Massachusetts employee..."

"“Human error... is what the cause of the explosion was,”... the origins of the blast... a utility worker who punctured an underground gas line with a metal probing tool. ... Street markings showing the location of underground gas lines were incorrectly placed ... The problem was the line took an unexpected turn so when he inserted the probe in a spot near the foundation, he punctured the pipe. ... the employee who punctured the line was not qualified to turn off the gas ... It took a second employee about 25 minutes to arrive. ... the explosion damaged more than 40 other structures within a multiblock radius of the blast site. Three structures, which contain about 115 housing units, have already been condemned"

This level of damage is available through the actions of methane and oxygen shifting their electrons about. (Here's hydrogen and oxygen, actually the better bang: http://kgortney.pbworks.com/f/covalentbond.gif ) Afterwards, there is seltzer water everywhere: CO2 and H2O

Much higher levels of energy are released by flinging neutrons about in much heavier materials... smashing the bonds holding those atom's nuclei together. A tiny part of the mass radiates away as energy and the rest fissions into unstable chunks that then splutter and sparkle for thousands of years... ejecting pieces, radiating, as they change from one material to another, decaying, in search of stability. Even without a bang, the mess is... messy. "Human error" then has a whole different level of consequence.

...consolation? Humans don't know how to evaporate gluons... probably a good thing!

the employee who punctured the line was not qualified to turn off the gas ...

I wonder about that.


Secession Fever Hits Texas

Personally I think we should assign Texas their share of the national debt and let them go.

In the weeks since President Obama’s re-election, Republicans around the country have been wondering how to proceed. Some conservatives in Texas have been asking a far more pointed question: how to secede.

Secession fever has struck parts of Texas, which Mitt Romney won by nearly 1.3 million votes.
In Texas, talk of secession in recent years has steadily shifted to the center from the fringe right. It has emerged as an echo of the state Republican leadership’s anti-Washington, pro-Texas-sovereignty mantra on a variety of issues, including health care and environmental regulations. For some Texans, the renewed interest in the subject serves simply as comic relief after a crushing election defeat.

Interestingly however, some Texans apparently want to secede from Texas.

But all the secession talk has intrigued liberals as well. Caleb M. of Austin started his own petition on the White House Web site. He asked the federal government to allow Austin to withdraw from Texas and remain part of the United States, “in the event that Texas is successful in the current bid to secede.” It had more than 8,000 signatures as of Friday.

They'd probably assign that debt to Austin and give it back!

People in Austin have created a petition to secede from Texas if Texas secedes from the union.

This is a problem in essentially all states. Pick a good red/blue map for any state, one that shows the voting at a county level in shades of red and blue to indicate intensity. The urban areas (and rural areas dominated by minorities) are easy to pick out: the urban areas are almost universally much more Democratic than the rural areas. For example, Salt Lake City may have gone slightly for Romney this time around, but went for Obama in 2008, and more importantly has elected three openly gay or lesbian members to the state legislature. SLC simply does not match Utah's staunch conservative image.

The red/blue divide isn't a state-level thing; it's an urban/rural thing. And it's a serious problem for the Republicans because the areas that are their stronghold are shrinking in population, in absolute terms in some regions such as the Great Plains, and relative to the nearest urban areas in almost all regions. When the topic comes up in discussion, I say that the Republican challenge is to convince the people that live in cities and the inner-ring suburbs that Republican policies are good for those people. So far, they're doing a miserable job of it.

It's not a problem that's going to go away. If I want to start an argument with my rural in-laws, I point out that (a) they aren't generating enough jobs to employ their kids, (b) the urban areas of their state are subsidizing rural schools, (c) the urban areas of their state are subsidizing the rural road system, and (d) the urban areas of their state are subsidizing rural social services (eg, aid for the developmentally disabled). In some areas, the situation has reached positive-feedback conditions: there are too few people to support professional services like medical specialists, and without the services people are leaving even faster.

"The red/blue divide isn't a state-level thing; it's an urban/rural thing."

It certainly is in Washington. As to your other points;

a) True. Welcome to mechanization and automation. The cities are now running into the same problem. We have more people than things to do, and services only go so far. I only need to have my hair cut so many times a year. Even if Krugman were to ban home kitchens in a desperate bid to boost Aggregate Demand and GDP, there are only 21 meals a week to eat out.

b) Not so sure, at least here. Local property taxes still are most of the funding. And since the local HS has a 90% graduation rate, and in view of point a), the cities should be glad to get the educated entry level workers.

c) True, but it is for their own benefit since they would like to both eat and sell their products to the hinterlands. In Washington the East-West roads are in considerably better condition than the North-South roads. This is not a coincidence.

d) Generally true, in that a lot of people who need social-medical services do leave for the West side. There is a cultural difference in place about how much social service is "essential" too, and this causes no end of bickering.

You ar certainly correct about the problem the Republicans have. There is nothing in their platform that would appeal to anyone in the cities, except for the swindlers in the financial district and the military-industrial-complex. There are not enough of either of those groups to make a majority, and the MIC is quite willing to bribe Democrats as well. And the bankers donated plenty to Obama too, hedging their bets very nicely. And since none of them are in jail it obviously worked. So what is a Republican to do? It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

b) Not so sure, at least here. Local property taxes still are most of the funding.

It does vary some by state (and school district). In my state, K-12 spending accounts for about 40% of the state's general fund budget. Statewide, the state-level money accounts for about 60% of all K-12 funding. And I believe that we have some rural school districts where the outside funding is approaching 80%. All numbers from memory, so they could be somewhat off.

Once there's a state-level "equalization" fund, it's simply a matter of time. Such funds are an admission that some districts simply can't generate the revenue to provide a contemporary education to their students. My state doesn't have any really blighted urban areas, so the transfers are from urban/suburban districts to rural ones.

So what is a Republican to do? It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

When one layers the changing racial/ethnic mix of the country on top of the rural/urban divide, the problem becomes even more acute for the Republicans, who are increasingly the party of old white males.

While there is no intrinsic reason that Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans will always vote Democratic, the Republicans seem to be going out of their way to alienate those groups.

I seem to be on a Molly Ivins track today, and I'm reminded of another of her quotes: "It's like, duh. Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong."

I've read a number of articles lately that predict that if current trends hold, even ruby red Texas may become a swing state, perhaps in a decade or so, perhaps sooner.

geo - "Personally I think we should assign Texas their share of the national debt and let them go." I think many here would take that deal. Then we would be free to join OPEC and the TRRC could once again set the price of oil. We should easily be able to pay off our share of the debt just from our export fees alone. LOL. And we would be paying only a fraction of the taxes to the state we now pay to the feds. And self-defense? Texas has more guns (and much better marksmen) than most of the other countries on the planet. And illegal immigration wouldn't be a problem once we kick out the overlords in Mexico out and allow its citizens to prosper. And the cost of that effort would be easily justified by then controlling two of the largest oil exporters to the US. Then consider when you consider how well Texans get along with our cousins in Canada it will only get better. Our coonasses could even make peace with those pesky Quebec separatists.

And, sadly enough, the Rockman can’t support his fellow Texans in such an effort. Too much has been paid, especially in blood, to preserve the Union. OTOH if Texas tried to take over the rest of the country Rockman might be able to get behind that. LOL.

8,000 signitures??? Last I heard a few weeks ago it exceeded 80,000.

"8,000 signitures??? Last I heard a few weeks ago it exceeded 80,000."

Rock, you need to put your reading glasses on, LOL. The 8,000 signatures were from folks in Austin who want to secede from Texas.

The 80,000 signatures were for Texas to secede from the US.

geo - Thanks...missed that...almost no sleep last night. LOL. They don't need to worry about getting more signatures in Austin. The rest of the state will be more than glad to cut them loose even if they only had 8 signatures. Right now, except for the computer industry, Austin gets much of their funds from the state govt. A state govt that would likely transfer to Dallas. And Houston would be invited by the vast majority in Texas to join Austin in their "escape". I can't imagine how high the border crossing fees would be for citizens of those two cities to enter TROT (The Republic Of Texas). Of course we would have to beef up border security (maybe build a fence) to prevent those illegal liberals from slipping across at night. LOL.

You may know that local folklore says that when Texas VOLUNTARIALLY joined the Union there was some stipulation that it could withdraw under certain circumstances. I’ve never seen it documented but many here believe there is some kernel of truth to it.

And Houston would be invited by the vast majority in Texas to join Austin in their "escape".

Back in the day I lived for awhile in Dallas (when ARCO had the old Atlantic Building downtown and the ARCO lab was up in Plano). I still remember some of the local Dallasites (or is it Dallasonians?) calling the city of Houston "that cancer growning down on the Gulf Coast".

Myself, I never much cared for either Dallas or Houston (lived there for awhile too). I always felt that happiness was driving north and west, with Texas in the rear view mirror!


ROCKMAN, I once heard this story about some general (?) who upon replying to a question about what he thought about Texas said; “If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell.”

*Dives swiftly behind a thick brick wall*

Rune – Yes…Texas can be a tad difficult for some folks to adjust to. A generalization, of course, but a fair bit of good mixed in with a bit of not so good. A strong independent streak coupled with a good bit of ego and self-righteousness. A good bit of generosity tempered with some racism and religious fanaticism. Strong patriotic tendencies but also rather parochial. Just a WAG but I suspect an EU sensitivity would feel less than comfortable here. But if you can control your mouth and avoid the unpleasant aspects as I do then it ain’t that bad. LOL.

....but a fair bit of good mixed in with a bit of not so good.

More than a "bit of not so good" methinks. Just a few examples of the not so good:

Highest % of jobs paid minumum wage or below.
Average hourly wage 10% below national average.
Lowest rate of people with health insurance.
Amoung the highest rate of workplace fatalities in the country.
Amoung the lowest rate of home ownership in the country.

The list goes on and on.....but you get the picture.
See Texas: ‘Miracle’ or Myth?

As the late, great Molly Ivins said of Texas:
"It's a low-tax, low-service state--so shoot us. The only depressing part is that, unlike Mississippi, we can afford to do better. We just don't."

That was General Philip Sheridan - an "inventor" of the scorched earth doctrine and also the apparent source of "The only good Indian is a dead Indian".

His occupation headquarters are on the edge of the University of Texas, perhaps 1 km from the ASPO conference. Are you coming ?

We in New Orleans were visited by him several times as well.



Thank you!

I sincerely wish I could attend the upcoming ASPO meeting in Austin and meet up with lots of great people.
Hope the opportunity will arise later.


it would a very interesting experiment if texas secedes. what would be the foreign policy of texas.

would texas send it's own troops to irak, afganistan etc?
by which amount texas would contribute to the defense budget of israel?
would texas create their own military bases in taiwan, south korea, japan etc? after all if they want to secede how could they trust the rest of america to protect their interests in the world?
what would be the texas way to deal with nuclear arms?

Is it fair to explain the current glut of natural gas in the North American market as being a result of all the holes they're poking in the tight oil formations and other unconventional deposits in a desperate attempt to lift US oil production? Along with the oil being liberated by these thousands of new wells comes tons of NG that, rather than being flared, is then dumped on the market at prices that would otherwise be uneconomic were it not for the oil that also squirts out for a few short years thereafter (and as ROCKMAN explains if I interpret him correctly, a lot of unsustainable debt on the part of those oil drilling companies that's necessary to cough up the required capital to do that drilling)?

So then, in reality, the natural gas glut is actually an indirect result of Peak Oil and the high oil price this brings? Is that how it should be interpreted?

Well, it depends on how much of that natural gas from "tight oil" wells is actually making it to market. By what I understand, much (if not most) of the gas from these tight oil wells is being flared because it is up in remote regions of North Dakota and there is no gas pipeline infrastructure to carry it to market. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

Spec – True. I can’t make a guess to how the current volume is split between the casing head gas from the oily shales in plays like the Eagle Ford and the original dry gas shales. And let’s not forget the contribution from conventional NG fields...remember the Independence Deep Water NG Hub brought almost 1 bcf/day to market place literally overnight just a couple of years ago.

As far as ND goes my night man on the well I’m on right now just got back from a gig in ND last August. He said it was an amazing sight at night: as far as you could see there were NG flares ranging from a couple of feet to 30‘ tall. OTOH I hear there are many hundreds of Marcellus wells shut in waiting on new regional transport pipelines to be completed and represent a huge initial gain when they get tied in.


Can you clear up a point for me please.

Casing head gas, as I understand it, it is associated gas,ie the gas that bubbles of the oil once produced. Is this correct? and therefore would consist of Methane thru to Butane?

The reason i ask some of the definitions available on the net seem a little contradictory, and it is not a term we use offshore.

Thank in advance

pusher - I've always seen NG that's produced from a crude oil well called csg head gas. But that's an informal term IMHO. Of course a NG well can produce oil. That oil is called condensate because it condenses out of the gas stream as it's produced. But it is still oil. So now you’re talking about GOR...gas oil ratio. Depending on what state your well is in it might be classified as an oil well producing NG (csg head gas to us old farts) or a NG well producing condensate (oil). Heck...I still occasionally call a refrigerator an ice box because that's what I grew up with.

And then there's that occasionally confusing "retrograde condensate" reservoir. Under reservoir conditions the hydrocarbon is in a complete liquid state as measured by the logging tools but when produced much of it converts to a gaseous state as the pressure is reduced.

Thank Rockman,

It looks as though it is not as clear cut as thought. So just to narrow things down a little my initial question concerned the Texas Railroad web site, where there are 4 categories, oil,casing head gas, gas and condensate. So a if well is a deemed an "Oil well" it produces "oil" and "Casing head gas", and if it is deemed a "gas well", then it produces "gas" and "condensate" meanwhile the pipelines from a field containing both ,"oil wells" and "gas wells", just transport oil in one line and gas in the other, with no concern about what type of well it is produced from.

pusher - You got it. And one more complication. I can sell my full stream NG production and the NGL's are recovered at the buyers plant and I get payment for part of that volume. Or I can put a JT plant on my well site and recover all the NGL's for myself and sell them. So one of my wells produces 1 million bbls of NGL's at the well head and I report the same. On another well I sell full stream to the NG buyer and report no NGL production from my well since I'm not selling NGL from my well but selling high BTU NG. For which I get paid more. Going JT plant or not decisions are based on each well's specifics.

Worth noting for novices that NG is mostly priced on BTU content simply because the content varies so much. Measure flow and composition and then sell on an energy basis. Often heavies are separated and sold, sometimes as bulk NGLs and sometimes as ethane, propanes, and such.

H2S, H20, N2, and other contaminants come along for the ride too.

Sounds like a mine field for the statisticians.

Well the production accountants had a great deal of fun with it. In my recollection, casing head gas was collected at the wellhead, associated gas was collected at the oil-gas-water separators, and stock tank gas was collected by the vapor recovery units on the oil stock tanks. It was all natural gas, but they had to account for it all and allocate it to the producing wells, which was not the simplest thing to do since it could all be owned by different people.

We had oil wells which produced gas, gas wells which produced condensate, and gas wells which produced oil. The latter were rare, but the difference was significant since the ownership and royalty rates were different.

It was complicated, but a lot of fun and lucrative for those who could figure it out. I wasn't a production accountant, but I was a business analyst who had to know what they were doing so I could design software for them to account for it.

But it is still oil

If condensate is oil, then oil must be condensate ? Can you explain that one ?

Nope. X is y does not imply y is x. Logic 101.

Chemically, condensate is similar to very light oil. The difference is where it comes from. Condensate comes from gas wells - it's the fluids which are gases at reservoir pressure (high) and temperature (high) but condense to liquids at surface conditions. It's not much different from unrefined gasoline.

You don't want to get into too much detail because it rapidly gets much more complicated than chemistry 101.

You must reside in a variable is universe(is depends on the meaning of is).

You don't have to explain to me what condensate is or where it comes from.

Yes, condensate is similar to oil. Natural gas is also similar to oil but natural gas is not oil and oil is not natural gas.

Here's a shocker for ya:Bitumen isn't oil either.

I just remember reading somewhere that NG isn't profitable to extract on its own due to low prices so I'm wondering where it all is coming from. Of course, profitability all depends on what kind of formation it's from, the type of well, and proximity to markets. But still, if there's supposedly this glut then it has to be coming from somewhere.

It's not profitable to DRILL now, but it is generally still profitable to produce. The boom and bust cycle for gas is self-sustaining without oil, but the associated gas help the glut persist, as does continued drilling to hold fields and such.

Many gas companies expect production to be nicely profitable in the near term, and for prices to justify drilling in by 2014 or 15. As long as there is easy money, vast resources, and optimistic drillers, the cycle will repeat as prices spike and a new cycle commences.

NH - As generalizations go that's a fair statement. But all generalizations fail when you get to specific details. I wouldn't hesitate to drill a NG prospect with zero liquids potential tomorrow if the economics were good. And there are a few prospects around that fit that criteria. But just not nearly as many as when NG was selling for $8/mcf. One of the most profitable NG drilling programs I've ever had was when I was selling for $0.90/mcf. But it was costing me only $.15/mcf to develop it. Drilling costs were extremely low at that time...5% to 10% of what it is today.

And don’t forget the Deep Water GOM Independence Hub: during the first quarter of 2012, the Independence Hub surpassed a significant milestone of more than 1 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of cumulative natural gas production. Independence Hub began producing in 2007, and at the time was the world's deepest platform. The Independence project was designed as a solution for developing natural gas reserves in the ultra-deepwater region of the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The project consists of Independence Subsea, Independence Hub and Independence Trail.

This $2 billion development can process up to 1 Bcf/d of natural gas production from 10 anchor fields, with excess payload capacity to tie-back up to nine additional subsea flow lines. The project is owned by The Atwater Valley Producers Group, which consists of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Devon Energy Corporation, Eni and StatoilHydro, along with the owners of the Independence Hub: Enterprise Products Partners L.P. and Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc.

And lastly don’t forget that Rockman has spent $180 million drilling conventional NG prospects and all those wells are still on production. I was far from alone in those efforts.

This is a pretty fascinating video of the Earth at night from the ISS, even w/out the views it provides of the tar sands operation and gas flaring at the Bakken.

(and, as always, idiocy rampant in the comments section...)

Edit - not all idiocy. An example:

I have been told by company men working the Bakken field that they will burn off in 30 minutes what you or I would use in our lifetime of Natural Gas. What a waste!


the light you are seeing is ALL oil well flares burning off natural gas. Pretty from up there, UGLY, to what its doing here! Our farming, ranching, small business way of life and beautiful “God’s” country is being raped by this boom and all of the garbage it has brought to our town to make a quick buck!

But then there's this:

Light pollution? Seriously? I thought that pollution was something that was hard to clean up and caused a lasting impact. What is this impacting? The view of earth for a half-dozen astronauts? Is it keeping anyone awake at night? You know how hard it is to clean up light pollution? Close your eyes.

And this:

how else do you heat your house if you aren’t burning something in the end, unless you solar power everything (including your electric car) or something crazy like that

Crazy indeed. Best keep our eyes closed...

I don't have the link but a few weeks ago a post on TOD said 40% of gas in Bakken was being flared due to lack of pipelines. This means that the volume of gas over the life of the well (maybe 5 to 10 years) will not fetch a high enough price to pay for the pipeline in many cases.

Too bad all those guys working for the oil rigs driving 4x4 pickups can't burn the nat. gas being flared. Maybe some of the oil Cos. operating in ND will buy the new CNG pickups being marketed by GM, Ford and Chrysler and use this "free" fuel.

It's not that it couldn't pay for a pipeline, but that takes time and resources that are in short supply. Gathering pipelines need something to feed into -- and that is probably also missing or oversubscribed already. Many companies have CNG conversions already -- the fuel is essentially free. I know a company that bought their hands new CNG trucks as the fuel savings made the trucks effectively free.

$70-$80K and a new truck makes a nice package for a kid with a few tech classes who would otherwise struggle to find employment. When in 2008 people here said to get yourself to the non-discretionary side of the economy, this would seem to be such.

The lack of infrastructure, at least for a price that is less than the value of the gas, is certainly lacking. As for feeding into existing pipeline network that is at capacity, that may also be true, but more likely for not enough processing and compression stations, IMHO. I think pipelines have the capacity because much gas still moves from Canada to northern US.

My solution is to use the gas to operate machines on the drill rig floor that are now mostly diesel, providing a producing well is closeby. But even using the gas for vehicles requires some processing of gas and then compression to 3000 psi minimum (5000psi better). Again this costs money and takes time which the oil supply industry cannot handle without charging very high prices. So it all comes down to investment, but if US market price for gas were $12.00 per million BTU (like in most global markets) instead of $3.70, much more of the gas would reach a pipeline.


I totally agree with you about using the flared Nat gas to power the drilling rigs and power the trucks that supply the rigs.

Infrastructure can be setup quite quickly these days with CNG in a box


There are conversion kits available rig engines, which are just stationary railroad engines, but easier to handle as they don't move, well not often anyway. They can be fed by pipeline, CNG or LNG. Trucks can use off the shelf 8.9l Cummins engines that run pure nat gas, a 12 l version is on the market early next year. Westport supplies a compression ignition conversion for 15 l engines, along with many other options available. These compression engines still use a little diesel, 10 to 20% with the rest being Nat gas.

Also as stated above, GMC. Ford and Dodge are all selling nat gas pick up trucks from the dealer. A lot can be done instead of building more refineries, complaining about the high price of diesel, and flaring off a very valuable resource, even if that resource is currently under valued, and for any business in the oilfield, this gas is basically free. It also takes the pressure of the local market for diesel, thus keeping it lower than it is currently

Extreme Weather Tough on Transportation System

Even as they prepare for a new normal of intense rain, historic floods and record heat waves, some transportation planners find it too politically sensitive to say aloud the source of their weather worries: climate change.

Political differences are on the minds of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, whose advice on the design and maintenance of roads and bridges is closely followed by states. ... Planning for weather extremes is hampered by reluctance among many officials to discuss anything labeled "climate change," Horsley said.

"In the Northeast, you can call it climate change. ... That's an acceptable term in that region of the country," he said. "Elsewhere, in the South and the (Mountain) West, it's still not an acceptable term because of ideology or whatever you want to call it."

Still, there is a recognition that the association's guidance will need to be updated to reflect the new realities of global warming.

Steve Winkelman, director of transportation and adaptation programs at the Center for Clean Air Policy, said he uses terms like "hazard mitigation" and "emergency preparedness" rather than climate change when talking to state and local officials.

"This is about my basement flooding, not the polar bear _ what I call inconvenient sewer overflow," Winkelman said. "It makes it real."

"inconvenient sewer overflow"... I guess that's as good a way as any to describe the impacts of climate change.

Care to suggest other ways to phrase an "inconvenient sewer overflow"?

How about 'Aww, sh[redacted]'

Maybe people should start thinking about putting a big shut off valve in their sewer line.


This is too good. I need to save it somewhere. Together with this staement about death: vitality readjustment. What else? Starvation: nurishment insuficience. This stuff is great.

Venezuelan Oil Workers on Strike at 30 Wells, El Universal Says

Workers at 30 oil wells in the western Venezuelan state of Zulia have gone on strike, paralyzing production, El Universal reported, citing union leader Luis Diaz.

The workers say they haven’t been awarded retroactive pay of 29 million bolivars ($6.75 million) due collectively since July following the renegotiation of contracts, the Caracas-based newspaper reported.

Houston-based Halliburton Co. (HAL), Maracaibo-based Petrosema CA, Kuala Lumpur-based Scomi Group Bhd. and Tuboscope Brandt de Venezuela SA have told workers they can’t pay them while they haven’t been paid themselves by state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, El Universal said.

Report: Military Biofuels Programs Poised to Drive Major Economic, Job Growth

The military’s plans to expand its use of biofuels in planes, ships and other vehicles would generate at least about $10 billion in economic activity and create more than 14,000 jobs by 2020, according to a report commissioned by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

But under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that Congress is expected to take up in the next several weeks, the military – the nation’s biggest user of oil and gasoline - would be prohibited from expanding its use of biofuels.

Sixteen Percent of the U.S. Soybean Crop is Used for Biodiesel

The biodiesel use of soybeans is to be about 16 percent of the total soybean crop this coming year (as a % of total U.S. soybean acres – used for biodiesel) or 468 million bushels.

Both the biodiesel and ethanol plants are having difficulty with profitability since the drought has driven up prices for their feedstocks.

Last month I saw a Discover channel special on airliner crashes. One of the comments by a crash investigator stuck with me. She said that scaring people doesn't work. The only thing that does work when the **** hits the fan is clear, simple directions on what to do, pounded into their heads before the crash. Preferably backed up by large neon signs.

I've seen a lot of discussion about how to get the message out. I think the problem is, there are no directions to give. The necessary action is a massive worldwide shift to public transportation and renewable power, and away from heavy industry and conspicuous consumption. What are the clear, simple actions that a person can take to get from here to there? Like say, a forklift driver from St Lous?

GOWHN - A two component solution to making such decisions work when your in a command situation. First you have to make the right decision. Second, if your troops are going to follow your command without you explaining it to them in detail (with their being capable on understanding your decidion) they have to have absolute faith in you.

With that in mind how many of our leaders do you think will be allowed such absolute confidence by the general public? And even if that were to happen how sure are you that those command decisions will actually be the best responses? So have I filled your heart with hope now? LOL.

I'm suddenly reminded of that scene from "Good Morning Viet Nam" where the idiot LT complains that the radio DJ's don't solute him. He says: "That's the main thing about being an officer". Or some thing like that. I see many of our current crop of politicans (both R's and D's) in that light: they want us to follow them not because it's the right choice but because we should follow them because they are in charge. IMHO that's why we see so many attack spins: you have to follow me because the other guys are too stupid/greedy/evil/rich/socialist/etc/etc.

You can't tell people to do anything. Many will outright reject it because they are being told to do something, most will never get the message or don't care, and a tiny amount will hear the message and follow it.

The only to adjust people behaviors is by prices tax what you want to discourage and provide tax-credits/deductions for what you want to encourage.

You could not be more right about changing behavior. For 95% of 'mericans the only consideration is "will doing this or that cost me?" and if not than why bother with doing it. If we get paid to do something then more will do it but not all. So, if you want to see less oil used make the price higher. If you want to see more recycling, put a deposit charge at the purchase on all bottles & cans.

Unfortunately, most people in the US have no virtue. They only do this or that because of cost either directly to them or their family or their business.

"Buckle your seat belt."

Nothing could be clearer or simpler. The consequences could hardly be more horrific.

Yet most people won't do it unless they know you will check up on them and fine them for non-compliance. (Here, anyway. Don't know about US.)

Yeah. It's true that giving people explicit, personal directions is the best way to get a response in an emergency. ("You, in the red shirt. Call 911!") The problem is, no one will follow orders if it's not an emergency.

This is why that report that came out a couple of years ago did not back a 55 mph speed limit. It doesn't work. People just ignore it.

But they will comply in an emergency, so the recommendation was to save it for emergency situations. (War, sanctions or hurricanes cutting off the oil supply temporarily, for example.)

I've wondered if in situations like Katrina where paths out of the area were rife with log jams if the situation could be managed better with stuff on hand. You post signs on the 4-lane roads instructing you to turn your radio to AM 540 or whatever, helicopters with a birdseye view give realtime updates on the radio giving traffic instructions (don't pass, dont exceed X mph, maintain a minimum space cushion of Y feet so incoming traffic can merge, etc).

Actually the Katrina evacuation went extremely well - with about 39 hours from the hurricane path realigning on New Orleans/MS Gulf Coast to roads closing. (Plans called for 60 hours warning). Basic comity helps quite a bit. The vast majority were listening to the radio - with 870 AM being #1.

Dramatically better than Houston evac for Rita.

Best Hopes for More Warning !


Making the call on evacuations has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world.
Guess wrong one way and people die; guess wrong another way and its economically devastating.
Which brings up nuclear emergency planners who continue to use circular "bull's eye" evacuation zones for planning when every real-world radiation release in history showed the real danger depended on which way the wind was blowing. Evacuating thousands of people in safe upwind territory just adds to the chaos and congestion, but it's still the "plan."

We deserve these cars - PM defends $60m(US$670,000) spent on ministers' new vehicles

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has not taken kindly to criticisms being levelled at her Government for spending approximately J$60 million(US$670,000) to purchase high-end vehicles for government ministers while the nation faces serious economic challenges.

"Being a politician does not mean you should not live the life which you have lived before," Simpson Miller said in response to a question raised at a public forum in Montego Bay on Thursday.

"A number of politicians who were professionals before they entered politics were living better than they are living now and were earning much more in terms of salaries.

How are we going to ever acknowledge Peak Oil and/or do anything about it when we are governed by psychopaths. This from a poor(?), developing, third world country where among other things, many roads are poorly maintained, if at all, the revolving student loan fund does not have a large enough pool of funds to satisfy the demand and out of the twenty six vehicles being used for delivery of milk to schools, only six were refrigerated.

Every time an election is held and the party that governed the country looses, the new administration acquires a new fleet of official vehicles as if they cannot bear to be seen in the same vehicle their predecessors were using. It raises the question as to what happened to the previous fleet, bought with taxpayers money? As can be seen from the comments, the natives are not happy.

The popular choices for the 20 members of the cabinet are Japanese SUVs which one can often see sitting with their chauffeurs enjoying the air conditioning (engine idling) as they wait for their charges to complete whatever meetings/public appearances they are attending. Heaven forbid they switch the engine off and let the vehicle warm up by the time the Minister returns to the vehicle. I guess these types of individuals will only accept Peak Oil after it is unmistakably in the rear view mirror, IOW a couple of decades after the event.

We now return to regular scheduled programming.

Alan from the islands

Hey Alan,

Maybe politicians everywhere should be enrolled in a school like this one for poor students in Sao Paulo Brazil...
They can ride in style after they build their own means of transportation.




Well, it's only $33,500 per cabinet minister, which is not really in Mercedes-Benz territory.

However, it's all a matter of optics. I remember once case in which the Government of Alberta was criticized for providing expensive vehicles to the cabinet ministers, and it was discovered that the provincial Premier was driving the cheapest 4-cylinder car on the list of approved vehicles - and he was driving it himself. Previous Premiers had just caught a ride in whatever police car was heading to the Legislature Building/Courthouse.

The cost of providing an aircraft to the Cabinet Ministers to fly to meetings was also criticized, but they were able to point out that, first, they only used it to fly to airports the commercial airlines didn't service, and second, they could only use it when it wasn't fighting forest fires.

As I say, it's all a matter of optics.

I used to fly on company aircraft myself, but I had to share them with loads of drill pipe. Fortunately I missed the flight where the drill pipe started shifting backward, and the pilots had to deal with it by pointing the nose straight up and dropping the pipe out the rear cargo door into the forest below. I could tell you other stories, but they tend to go on and on and on.

Consider yourself lucky to have such abstemious ministers. Our President is treating himself to a R250 million (28M USD) upgrade of his country residence. Last time he flew overseas he had an empty jet fly behind him "just in case".

We have 5 million taxpayers and 15 million on welfare.

Is that Reals, Rand, Rubles or Rupees ?

My estimate, based on the exchange rate information given:

South Africa: The Rand.

What is the status of the other 30M people?

My first guess was Sri Lanka, based on its population of 20M, but the Google-provided exchange rate between the Sri Lanka Rupee and the USD didn't match the given information.

No, it is South African Rand.


That is what I said above:

My estimate, based on the exchange rate information given:

South Africa: The Rand.

Wasn't 'aardvark' enough of a clue? ;)


funny how I miss the obvious give-away in favor of the more challenging detective work!

Interesting claim - but for this to translate as steam turbines there needs to be pressure and not just steam.

Rice University scientists have unveiled a revolutionary new technology that uses nanoparticles to convert solar energy directly into steam.....The efficiency of solar steam is due to the light-capturing nanoparticles that convert sunlight into heat. When submerged in water and exposed to sunlight, the particles heat up so quickly they instantly vaporize water and create steam.

I also wonder how pure the water has to be.....

You can still get useful energy out of steam at atmospheric pressure due to capturing the Enthalpy of phase change. But the efficiency is low and the machinery is large compared to steam turbines. Watt's original steam engine for pumping water from mines operated at very low pressure, I think only a couple of psi. When the cylinder containing steam dropped in temp the steam turned to water causing a piston to move (was exposed to atmosphere on other side) thus forcing pump shaft up to push piston in another cylinder containing water at mine floor. That second cylinder was piped to the surface. This engine moved very slowly and used water expelled from the mine to cool the steam cylinder. My guess is that efficiency was less than 10%. Modern steam power plants (fossil fueled) are 40%.

Just because one can make steam in a beaker during a lab experiment does not mean we can make electricity from same. Better off buying solar panels.

Better off buying solar panels

What's interesting is the makers of the nano-things to take photons and make steam were claiming 24-ish % conversion rate. Lo and behold that's well within a PV panel.

The efficiency of conversion to useful energy (mechanical, electrical, or chemical like NH3) is of most importance. Watts boiler was probably around 50 to 60% efficient in converting coal to steam, IMO. But the critical factor was the conversion of that steam (heat energy in form of enthalpy) into mechanical energy to raise water from a mine.

A 24% conversion to heat in the form of steam, then a 10% conversion heat to electrical energy via mechanical method gives an overall efficiency of 2.4% Watt's method copuld be improved but because of low steam pressure the efficiency will be nowhere near the 40% of high pressure steam turbine. Still better to go with solar panel, IMO.

Steam, even low pressure, 101 C steam, has a number of uses besides generating electricity. Several chemical processes use steam.

And 101 C steam condenses readily into 102 C water under mild pressure which can stored for night time heating - when the sun does not shine.


Rice University scientists have unveiled a revolutionary new technology

“The solar steam device developed at Rice University has an overall energy efficiency of 24 percent, far surpassing that of photovoltaic solar panels.” Yes, but several solar to power systems get better efficiency, and if you are talking about just making steam concentrating collectors can be over 70% efficient. I see little but hype here. High efficiency steam, Sterling, hot air engines, etc work, but try and get the cost down to the $1.00 a Watt range of PV.

I've always wondered about the obsession with "efficiency", as if the available rooftop area is the limit on PV installation. (If your roof is too small for your power needs, you're using too much power!) Cost per watt (in money and in energy) is clearly more important, unless you're building the space station. If you can get 15%-efficient panels at $1/watt and 20% ones cost $2/watt, or even $1.50/watt, who cares for efficiency? That said, if PV can remain under $1/watt, the cost of the hardware to mount it on the roof (and also the cost of the substrate and frame of the panel itself) becomes a significant portion of the total installed cost, and thus "efficiency" (watts per square meter) does have a noticeable effect. Wiring and electronics are also a big part of the total cost, and they are not affected (much) by the PV efficiency.

Many houses are poorly aligned, shaded, or with poor rooflines, and the available square footage is not huge. A two-story cube is more efficient thermally than a sprawling ranch of the same square footage, and a boringly simply roofline is more useful than an architecturally interesting set of varied peaks and valleys.

Agree that balance of system is a key expense area. Other than inverters (which may yet gain from larger volumes and improving tech), and maybe batteries, it's a pretty mature tech field.

I agree BoS is becoming the name of the game. However I don't think it is mature yet, its only recently that panels have been cheap enough that people cared much about BoS costs. So things are changing, panels and mounting systems that are co-designed to be easy to use together, larger panels, so there is less mounting to do per watt etc. I think we are just getting started with the BoS learning curve.

joe six pack wont kare about peak oil until it affects peak alcohol. during the 8 days of patchwork black outs during hurricane sandy i noticed that liquors stores were well stocked and doing business.

when joe six pack caint get likkered up then that is the day i wood say uhmerika has ended. in my state, nj, the aftermath of hurricane sandy hasnt slowed the heroin trade. just this week some feller in my town was driving after he shot up, crossed the double yellow line, clipped one car and had a head on with a second. of course he only had minor injuries but the lady in the head on died a few days later. the junkie was hit with vehicular homicide.

the point being, the usa has spend a huge amount of money (astronomical) on a war on the other side of the earth. peak oil not withstanding, a drug made from plants on the other side of the earth is imported back here and can be purchased for recreational use with total disregard of any consequences of that use from the citizen up to the goobermint.

uhmerika is built on waste. corporations and individuals make billions of dollars on citizens' wasteful habits. these entities encourage that waste in the furtherance of profit. uhmerika will fall into a dark age if it makes profit. there is no limit to human greed and folly.

so...i wonder what JHK's response will be to the arch druid's latest musings?

i bought two sylvania sx-2152 LED bulbs. the local supermarket chain had a promotion. ten uhmerikan dollars, reduced from 23 bucks. i like them because they dont poison the earth as much as CFL's. why so expensive? does it cost that much in hydrocarbon resources to make one? what is the hidden cost? will they really last as long as the packaging indicated?

a hardware store chain is giving away 9 LED flashlights, sometimes even without purchase! not as bright but i still have not had any cheap LED device fail yet. the sylvanias consume 8 watts. that is what a night light used to. i kood as well leave them on 24/7 except i dont want to give my evil electric company 1/10 of a cent extra.

the roof mounted solar array generated 7 kwh on thanks giving day. the inverter has a status screen where i can cycle through some info. the amps peeked at 5.4 which is a better indication of usable juice than kwh.

Elon Musk is certainly a big dreamer!

He apparently has a vision to create a Mars Colony with ~ 80,000 inhabitants costing ~ $36-40B US dollars.


The article even bandies about the concept of such a colony working towards self-sufficiency.

Elon Musk: PayPal...Tesla Motors...Space-X...he is a visionary!

Apparently striving for a large Mars colony is some combination of more feasible and/or interesting than engineering a large-scale implementation of solar PV and.or wind power...and/or large-scale implementation of intra-city trams.

Oh well, in the U.S. one can pursue one's dreams...

I think the guy's cost estimate is off by a factor of 100. That Mars plan would take $3.7 to $4.0 trillion dollars. And for amount that we could solve a lot of energy and climate change problems. But let 'em dream.
Just don't let these dreamers use my tax dollars.

mb - Such flights of fantasy always amuse me. Just another effect of the StarTrek generation I suppose. How about a sustainable colony of 80,000 in, oh, let say Iowa. Gotta be a lot easier/cheaper than Mars. Take the worse doomer expectation of the earth's future environment and it won't come close to matching the environment on Mars today. It brings to mind George C Scott role as the general in "Dr. Strangelove": need to gather all the political/military leadership with a large collection of very attractive women, house them in a sustainable mine and go about repopulating the planet. Of course, they also need to add a few seasoned petroleum geologists IMHO so we can continue our FF habit. Now that's a practical plan I could get behind

yes, his cost guesstimate is not even near the ballpark.

Nor do I think you could find 80k people who would cough up 500K each to go to Mars and be miserable and quite possibly die.

Both the recent scheme to mine asteroids and Mr. Henson' dreams of building mass quantities of orbiting PV power stations look downright credible compared to Musk's fantasy.

"The Four Fingers of Death" Fun read about going to Mars. Rick Moody.

Intriguing reviews on Amazon. Reviews seem to indicate it is much more of a commentary on the human condition on Earth than a Mars expedition novel...

Some comparisons to Vonnegut.

An isolated 80,000-person high-tech social unit is never going to be self-sufficient. There are simply too many different tech specialties requiring far too much infrastructure and other support services to make it work. Start from today's state-of-the-art integrated circuits: a small fab costs a billion dollars; building the fab requires a huge chain of mechanical engineering activities; the raw materials require a chemical industry; the people doing the work require food, housing, and clothing; teachers are needed for the kids; workers for the nursing home; and so on.

Science fiction authors have been trying to think some of these things through for decades. In his "flying cities" novels in the late 1950s, James Blish suggested that a city of several million wouldn't be self-sufficient, but would have to trade specialists with other cities. Most authors' off-planet colonies depend on either cheap spaceflight to continuously bring in technology, or a "then a miracle happens" system of self-repairing automation to do 99% of the grunt work, at least until they reach a population of millions.

This is a relevant question in an era where long-distance transportation becomes prohibitively expensive. The answer to the question "How small can a self-sufficient region be?" depends very much on the level of tech that's going to be supported. I would argue that to support an energy-efficient much-lower-transportation version of something that is recognizably today's tech requires a minimum of 30-50 million people.

In a 6 degree world, such technology would be very useful. For those with the power and wealth to actually be able to live/survive in such a world. I wouldn't be surprised if Mars and Moon colony projects get funding, but their ultimate implementation would be closer to home.

I'm not really a fan of country music, but I've been listening to Corb Lund's latest. He is not your typical country singer. The title track is explicitly about peak oil.

Gettin' Down on the Mountain

He says peak oil is basic common sense to him. He doesn't think the apocalyptic result he sings about in the song is inevitable, but it's possible.

After being introduced to Mr. Lund here about two months ago, I have been acquiring more of his albums. More consumption - my bad. But Gettin' Down on the Mountain is, IMHO, his best work. My favorite song might be "Cows Around" but I also identify with "The Truck Got Stuck."

rev karl

Don' wanna be aroun'
When the **** goes down
...brother, can you spare some ammo.

He's been reading TOD.

Please watch your language. Profanity gets us blocked by web filters at schools and libraries.

Another song on the album, "Bible on the Dash," was interpreted by this Canadian reviewer as "set in a theocratic country where religious allegiance erases any suspicion." Hah. The song is set in the modern day U.S. The "border patrols" are cops patrolling the highways.

I wonder, as computers become more powerful, and if we earthlings marshal sufficient resources to deploy and maintain and correlate the data from a sufficiently large number of sensitive seismographs, whether such an 'Earthscope' can be used to find additional formations containing oil, NG, coal, other minerals?

Earth's hum


Maybe in our increasingly strident quest for the last frontiers of FFs, we can learn more about our planet's internal structure and workings...

I have wondered whether oil wells, prior to be plugged and abandoned, could have seismic geophones installed for continuous monitoring. The nearby formations and strata are generally well understood already from oil work, so any signals could be cross-correlated to discern new info.

That sounds plausible....a potentially good idea.

Perhaps you could share/collaborate with some of the current researchers in this area.

Ulan – Actually such analysis has been done for decades and is very common today. Called VSP: Vertical Seismic Profile. The goal is to specifically develop better seismic models to hunt for oil/NG. But it’s strictly a local effort that spans a relatively small area. In fact that’s why it’s been done many tens of thousands of times since the velocity model changes quickly both laterally and vertically. The fundamental key to properly image seismic data (and thus figuring out where the rest of the grease is) is correct velocity model. Seismic data doesn’t image the geology by depth but by time: how long it takes for the energy to bounce back from all the buried layers of rock. Velocity models convert that time to feet. Local variations in velocity also change the apparent geometry of the buried reservoirs.

And there’s another interesting technique with down hole geophones used to analyze frac’ng. The geophones can actually hear the induced fractures propagating and with multiple wells can display where the fracture is in 3d space. For example a frac might be pumped into Formation A at 10,000’ but the data shows it’s actually frac’ng Formation B at 10,300’. Just because some geologist/engineer has a diagram showing where a frac will go doesn’t mean that’s where Mother Earth will let it go. It’s not a cheap technology and used to build a learning curve. There’s no value in leaving the geophones in a well. That data is of only local importance. Once acquired you move on to the next area of interest.

That has been done in a few places. One approach, sometimes called "cross well tomography", is to put geophones and seismic sources down the wells. Last time I read anything about it there were problems with getting a source that was small enough to go in a well, yet still powerfull enough to generate a good signal. However, I haven't been following developments in that area, so I can't say how well it has worked out.

It's amusing to hear the people who surround the nexus of Austrianism, libertarianism, and conspiracism attempt to speak coherently about peak oil. I've been recently encountering a gargantuan number of these delusional Millennial types who are absolutely convinced that oil depletion is of no concern to anyone's, as the price is oil is entirely determined by how well the dollar and its perception are doing, and... we all know who's behind the manipulation of the dollar! - the Fed! And, world liquids production is at an all-time high!

While it is true that the nominal price of oil and gasoline are contingent upon the perception of the dollar (inflation & deflation), the inflation-adjusted price of oil and inflation-adjusted price of oil and gasoline as a percentage of household income and GDP have been skyrocketing since 1999.

IMO that is why oil prices are still high with reduced demand. Oil prices will remain high, which will make world recovery very slow.

...which will make world recovery very slow. ~ CalGuy

"Recovering to what?"
~ Richard Heinberg

Well, I agree that is why oil prices are currently inflated during this global recession, resulting in downward pressure on demand. These people just use this as argumentation as to why we allegedly have much cheap energy left.

Black Friday season so-far seen as a 'success'...the one shopping stat quoted indicated ~ a 7% increase in $$$sales$$$ from last year.


I am happy that my wife and I were hiking in some remote wildernesses the past two days...

Yea, verily, we put some rubber on the road and burned some ancient sunlight to do it...but it sure was nicer than staying around the house in town, or running around trying to get 'deals'.

Acidification dissolving shells of sea butterflies in Antarctica

This may have a follow-through effect on other parts of the food chain, of which they form a core element.

The world's oceans absorb more than a quarter of man-made carbon dioxide emissions, which lower the sea water pH.

Since the beginning of the industrial era, our oceans have become 30 percent more acidic, reaching an acidity peak not seen in at least 55 million years, scientists say.

Could people live in the numbers of today if the oceans became devoid of life?

We'll find out in the near future, lots of people (including more than a few here) are working on giving us the chance to see.

We're saved:
Electricity from the Marshes"
Claims she can get .4watt per meter squared, with the possibility of increasing that several fold. This is supposedly more energy than you could get via biomass, and largely leaves the plant community undamaged. Whats not to like?

300W ain't going to run my air-con and it would still need batteries to supply my fridge compressor when it cuts in. What is the electrode life? Can we afford to keep putting in new electrodes? What happens when the ratacobres descend on the marsh and clear out the connecting cable?


Please use 'copper thieves' instead of 'ratacobres'. Not everyone speaks Spanish :)

Disculpe me, I sometimes forget and just use the local term.


Why it's unlikely we are more stupid than our hunter-gatherer ancestors

What is it with geneticists and impending doom? Some of greatest evolutionary biologists of the last century were preoccupied with the idea that civilisation was ruining the human species and now another version of the idea has surfaced. Gerald Crabtree, a geneticist at Stanford University, claims that we are all stupider than our hunter-gatherer ancestors. They operated, he said, under much greater evolutionary pressures than we do, so that stupid people were eliminated from the gene pool.

Before going on to the ancestral roots of this idea, it's worth noticing one objection to his theory that fails comprehensively. If the hunter-gatherers were so smart, how come they are almost extinct? Over most of their range they seem to have been hunted to death (often literally) by more settled farmers. All that are left are a few scattered populations in places no one else wants to live, like the rainforest and the Kalahari desert.

I think the author's right, evolution has nothing to do with direction. It's simply an adaptation to changing environment, crocodiles have adapted very well so their appearance (except for their size) has hardly changed over the years. Evolution does not select for anything in particular, if your IQ (generic term for intelligence, not the score) is a burden then nature will select dumber individuals. If the environment rewards IQ then overall intelligence will go up.