Drumbeat: November 26, 2012

Brent Poised to Oust WTI as Most-Traded Oil Futures

For the first year since the futures were created, Brent crude is poised to overtake West Texas Intermediate oil as the world’s most-traded commodity.

Daily trading in Brent jumped 14 percent to average 567,000 contracts in the year to Nov. 20 compared with all of 2011, while WTI fell 17 percent to 575,000, according to data from the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London and New York Mercantile Exchange compiled by Bloomberg. The number of Brent futures changing hands has exceeded those for WTI every month from April through October, the longest streak since at least 1995.

Brent, produced in the North Sea, is gaining favor among traders because of its role as the benchmark for energy prices from Saudi Arabia to Russia. Prices have climbed 34 percent in the past two years, reflecting everything from war in Libya to the embargo on Iran. WTI, the main grade in the U.S., has risen 9 percent as the nation, which prohibits crude exports, has struggled to clear a glut at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for Nymex futures.

Crude Declines From Three-Day High as European Ministers Meet

Oil declined from a three-session high in New York amid concern that Spain may postpone a request for a bailout while European finance chiefs meet today to discuss additional funds for Greece.

Futures dropped as much as 0.7 percent after gaining the most since October last week. Pro-independence parties in Spain’s Catalonia won a regional vote, strengthening a drive for a referendum on secession in defiance of the nation’s Prime Minister. European officials gather in Brussels today, less than a week after an all-night meeting failed to yield an agreement. Oil rose last week because of concern that fighting between Israel and Hamas and unrest in Egypt would spread and disrupt Middle Eastern crude supplies.

Petrobras output falls vs year earlier for fifth straight month

(Reuters) - Brazil's state-led oil company Petrobras said Monday that output of petroleum and natural gas fell for a fifth straight month in October compared with a year earlier because of maintenance and declining productivity in the offshore Campos Basin.

Aramco, Exxon to shut most of Yanbu refinery in March

Saudi Aramco Mobil Refinery Company (SAMREF) will shut most of the units at its 400,000 barrel per day (bpd) Yanbu refinery in March to bring a new cleaner fuel project online, traders said on Monday.

The outage planned by the joint venture between state oil company Saudi Aramco and US energy giant ExxonMobil is expected to start on March 10 and last for 45-50 days, traders and an industry source said.

Iran takes over GECF presidency

Iran has been named the new chairing country of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) and will host the GECF summit in 2013, the Mehr News Agency reported.

Leaders of the world's biggest gas suppliers ended their first summit in Doha, Qatar, on November 13 by reiterating the need for a fair gas price while Iran, whose president was absent, warned that Western taxation will derail the energy market, according to AFP.

Iran: Plans to increase gas production

Managing-Director of Pars Oil and Gas Company Mousa Souri announced that Iran will increase gas production in the giant South Pars gas field, adding that the country will surpass Qatar's gas production in the shared field.

Come clear on gas pricing, BP writes to Petroleum Minister

Stating that investments or import substitution worth $100-150 billion were waiting to be unlocked, British Petroleum Plc, which partners with Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) in India, has sought putting in place a clear policy on exploration and pricing of gas in order to effectively develop these resources and unlock this huge potential.

Ukraine to build first LNG terminal

"According to our estimates, the price of gas (imported through the LNG terminal) will be at least 20% lower than that of Russian gas," Kaskiv was reported as saying by Reuters.

Ukraine depends heavily on costly gas supplies from Russia and has failed to negotiate a lower price after years of talks with Moscow. It plans to import 18 billion to 20 billion cubic metres of Russian gas next year, down from 27 Bcm this year.

Ukraine Warns Russia of Steep Gas Import Cuts in 2013

KIEV, November 26 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine plans to slash its gas imports from Russia to 18 billion cubic meters in 2013 from 27.5 billion cu m this year, Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko said on Monday.

“We have already informed our [Russian] colleagues of this volume [18 billion cu m],” Boyko told reporters.

The two sides have been locked in a conflict over gas prices since they signed a supply deal in 2009 that ties the price of gas to oil prices, which have risen steeply since 2009, boosting Ukraine's gas bill. Ukraine is seeking both to cut Russian gas imports and find alternative gas supply sources.

Armenia, Russia will likely agree on gas price in 2012

The negotiations on the price of the gas supplied by Russia to Armenia are expected to be completed before the end of this year, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said.

“I think we should complete the negotiations before the end of this year. We have reached agreements on the main principles and we now have some technical details we need to work on,” he said in an interview with Interfax.

Nigeria ready to sanction oil firms over $9.8 bil tax, royalty underpayments

Lagos (Platts) - The Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, which audits the country's oil industry, said Monday it was now ready to invoke sanctions on oil and natural gas companies operating in the country in a bid to recover $9.8 billion of debt owed in taxes and royalties either unpaid or underpaid over the last 10 years.

"NEITI can no longer sit down and watch and allow these recoverable funds to be in the hands of the companies at a time when the Federal Government is searching for funds to finance the deficits in the annual budgets," NEITI chairman Ledum Mitee said at a stakeholders' meeting.

ConocoPhillips exiting stake in Caspian Sea with a $5 billion sale

(Reuters) - ConocoPhillips plans to sell its 8.4 percent interest in Kazakhstan's giant Kashagan oilfield to the international arm of India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd , and expects to generate $5 billion from the sale.

Kashagan, the biggest world oilfield discovery since 1968, holds an estimated 30 billion barrels of oil-in-place, of which 8-12 billion are potentially recoverable.

Egypt's Morsy to meet with top judicial body days after claiming new powers

Cairo (CNN) -- President Mohamed Morsy will meet Monday with members of Egypt's highest judicial body, which has slammed his recent decree slashing judges' authority as an "unprecedented attack," state news reports.

10 children killed as warplanes drop bombs in Syria, opposition group says

(CNN) -- "May God bring you pain, Bashar."

The curse is from a woman as she stands over a young child, dressed in purple pants and a matching shirt. Cursing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, she asks why the girl had to die -- one of 10 children killed by shelling Sunday on a playground in a Damascus suburb, according to opposition activists.

Iraq again on the front lines of energy

Nearly a decade ago, Iraq was in flames as the United States staged its second invasion of the country.

The war not only toppled Saddam Hussein, it also led to a gradual rebirth of the country's oil and gas sector, which was crippled by conflict and sanctions.

Now, after years of rebuilding its energy infrastructure, the Opec member is emerging at the heart of a changing global oil market.

High stakes in game of political stalemate

The allure of Kurdish crude continues to tempt western companies, who are under pressure to side with Baghdad in a prolonged political standoff over Kurdish oil rights.

Libyan oil fever fades as 2013 talks begin

GENEVA/LONDON (Reuters) - A year after oil firms jockeyed to secure the first deals in post-war Libya, political disorder and a large surplus of oil in Europe have sapped enthusiasm ahead of talks this week for 2013 contracts worth around $50 billion.

More than a year has passed since the ousters of Muammar Gaddafi took control of the OPEC country, and while oil output has risen back to pre-war levels of 1.6 million barrels per day, unrest still disrupt shipments and work at refineries.

Protests and strikes cause expensive delays, while the continued presence of guns and rocket-propelled grenades in the capital is a concern for investors.

EIB Set to Back 50 Million-Euro Loan for Liberian Hydropower

The European Investment Bank is close to approving a 50 million-euro ($64 million) loan for Liberia’s Mount Coffee hydropower project and may provide 100 million euros for a similar power plant in East Africa.

The financing would be part of as much as 1 billion euros worth of loans the Luxembourg-based bank is considering in sub- Saharan Africa, Vice President Pim van Ballekom said in a Nov. 21 interview in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The deal for the 64-megawatt Liberian project, which will cost 180 million euros, may be approved this year, he said.

Valuable lessons for Abu Dhabi from this oil-rich province

Its name begins with A and this energy-rich part of a larger federation has some of the world's largest oil reserves. It has enjoyed a remarkable boom over the past decade due to high oil prices.

But with success comes challenges: advancing alternative energy, finding new customers for its exports, managing the strains with other parts of the country that its wealth brings, and using its earnings to develop its people.

But this is not A for Abu Dhabi, but A for the Canadian province of Alberta.

Rosneft may use TNK-BP cash, loans for takeover

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Rosneft may dig deeper into its pockets and raise funds from TNK-BP to help finance its $55 billion (34 billion pounds) takeover of the Anglo-Russian oil firm that will make it the world's largest listed oil firm by output.

Rosneft said in a Eurobond prospectus, dated November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) 23 and obtained by Reuters on Monday, that it may use its and TNK-BP's existing cash - which totalled over $15 billion (9 billion pounds) at September 30 - to fund the deal in combination with borrowings from banks.

Pemex Discovers Oil in Region That Could Hold 1 Billion Barrels

Petroleos Mexicanos, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, is expanding drilling after discovering a crude deposit in Tabasco state, estimating the area could hold as much as 1 billion barrels of reserves.

The light-crude deposit announced today in the on-shore Navegante I well may have as much as 500 million barrels, said a press official who asked not to be named because of company policy. The deposit has a depth of 6 kilometers (3.7 miles), the official said yesterday in a phone interview.

China's role in Southeast Asia questioned

BEIJING (AP) — China is finding the once friendly ground of Southeast Asia bumpy going, with anger against Chinese claims to disputed islands, once reliable ally Myanmar flirting with democracy and renewed American attention to the region.

Europe’s Shale Boom Lies in Sahara as Algeria Woos Exxon

Europe’s answer to the U.S. shale boom may lie beneath the Sahara desert.

While environmental regulation and disappointing drilling tests have held back the development of shale gas reserves in Europe, Algeria is using tax breaks to encourage exploration. Pipelines under the Mediterranean to Spain and Italy already link Africa’s largest gas exporter into Europe’s grid.

Federal judge throws out 'force majeure' case in New York

Just because you can’t “frack” doesn’t mean you can't drill. That’s what U.S. District Court Judge David Hurd told Chesapeake Appalachia the other day. In a decision posted November 15, Hurd rejects force majeure as a reason to hold onto expired leases. Leases, he explain, terminate at the end of their primary terms. His reasoning:

“… The purpose of the leases is to explore, drill, produce, and otherwise operate for oil and gas and their constituents.” And the fact that New York State is still reviewing regulations for high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) does not stop oil and gas companies from exploring, drilling, producing and otherwise operating, says Hurd.

With Ban on Drilling Practice, Town Lands in Thick of Dispute

LONGMONT, Colo. — This old farming town near the base of the Rocky Mountains has long been considered a conservative next-door neighbor to the ultraliberal college town of Boulder, a place bisected by the railroad and where middle-class families found a living at the vegetable cannery, sugar mill and Butterball turkey plant.

But this month, Longmont became the first town in Colorado to outlaw hydraulic fracturing, the oil-drilling practice commonly known as fracking. The ban has propelled Longmont to the fiercely contested forefront of the nation’s antifracking movement, inspiring other cities to push for similar prohibitions.

But it has also set the city on a collision course with oil companies and the State of Colorado.

Hopes of Home Fade Among Japan’s Displaced

AIZU-WAKAMATSU, Japan — As cold northerly winds sprinkle the first snow on the mountains surrounding this medieval city, those who fled here after last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster are losing hope that they will ever return to their old homes.

Texas highway pileup: time to slow the ‘super truckers’ down?

Crowded with motorists and tractor trailers, the I-10 phalanx was moving at near 70 miles per hour despite the pea soup fog that rolled in, authorities said. Texas and Utah are the only states that allow truckers to travel at 80 miles an hour, while most states only allow 65-mile-an-hour truck travel. California's truck speed limit is the lowest, at 55. Compounding speed with low visibility, the margin of error shrank to dangerous levels, truckers wrote.

Car Companies Are Seeing the Light

Automakers are experimenting with lightweight bodies and new engines to meet ambitious fuel efficiency standards.

Transit plan promotes ways to reach remote areas

FROSTPROOF -- If someone in southeast Polk County attends Polk State College or works for Legoland, they can ride for free.

And under plans being proposed by the Polk Transportation Planning Organization, residents in rural-based towns like Frostproof may be able to call ahead for a 15-passenger bus or a taxi to pick them up at public transportation rates.

Smart meters coming despite cost concerns

WITH little fanfare, the O'Farrell government is moving towards the introduction of the controversial ''smart meters'' in NSW.

On Tuesday, the Minister for Energy, Chris Hartcher, will release a discussion paper on the introduction of smart meters, which let electricity companies intervene directly to cut household electricity use at peak times.

Report: Saudi Arabia touts $109bn solar strategy

With the latest UN climate change summit kicking off in the Quatari capital of Doha this week, attention will be focused on how the oil and gas-rich Gulf States are responding to climate change.

So it was perhaps unsurprising that Saudia Arabia chose last week to confirm it is on track to start work on its first major solar farm early next year, as part of ambitious plans that could see the world's largest oil exporter generate a third of its electricity from the sun within 20 years.

SGB's jatropha vision: Jet fuel grown from seeds

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Call it the jatropha bubble.

When word got out several years ago about the promise of a small subtropical tree called jatropha, it became a biofuel sensation. Advocates claimed the fruit tree was hearty, drought-resistant and could be grown on marginal land. Its oil seeds offered a promising biofuel that wouldn't compete with food crops.

In the Book Bag, More Garden Tools

In the East Village, children planted garlic bulbs and harvested Swiss chard before Thanksgiving. On the other side of town, in Greenwich Village, they learned about storm water runoff, solar energy and wind turbines. And in Queens, students and teachers cultivated flowers that attract butterflies and pollinators.

Across New York City, gardens and miniature farms — whether on rooftops or at ground level — are joining smart boards and digital darkrooms as must-have teaching tools. They are being used in subjects as varied as science, art, mathematics and social studies. In the past two years, the number of school-based gardens registered with the city jumped to 232, from 40, according to GreenThumb, a division of the parks department that provides schools with technical support.

Universities struggle with falling invention royalties

The declines, a challenge looming for many universities, comes as colleges face a "perfect storm" of destabilized state and federal funding, said Richard Bendis, CEO of Innovation America, a Philadelphia-based non-profit company that has helped universities commercialize research.

Money earned from technological breakthroughs is difficult to maintain, because university researchers often spend more than a decade developing a blockbuster technology that single-handedly generates millions of dollars, Bendis said.

California Cove Blessed With Nature’s Beauty Reels From Its Stench

Until a few years ago, the smell was never a problem because the bluffs were open for people to walk on. But since the rocks were closed off, partly because of safety concerns, sea gulls and cormorants have taken over, their droppings have piled up and the smell has grown more acrid by the day.

In theory, a solution could be simple. Sherri Lightner, the local City Council member, said there were biodegradable and nontoxic cleaning agents that could be safely used to clean the bluffs occasionally without any ill effects to the environment.

However, because the waters in the cove are part of a coastal area specially protected by the state, multiple state regulatory agencies would have to issue permits before the agents could be used, a process that regulators have indicated would probably take at least two years.

Swallowing Rain Forest, Cities Surge in Amazon

PARAUAPEBAS, Brazil — The Amazon has been viewed for ages as a vast quilt of rain forest interspersed by remote river outposts. But the surging population growth of cities in the jungle is turning that rural vision on its head and alarming scientists, as an array of new industrial projects transforms the Amazon into Brazil’s fastest-growing region.

Stand Still For the Apocalypse

Humans must immediately implement a series of radical measures to halt carbon emissions or prepare for the collapse of entire ecosystems and the displacement, suffering and death of hundreds of millions of the globe’s inhabitants, according to a report commissioned by the World Bank. The continued failure to respond aggressively to climate change, the report warns, will mean that the planet will inevitably warm by at least 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, ushering in an apocalypse.

UN climate talks open in Qatar

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — U.N. talks on a new climate pact resumed Monday in oil and gas-rich Qatar, where negotiators from nearly 200 countries will discuss fighting global warming and helping poor nations adapt to it.

The two-decade-old talks have not fulfilled their main purpose: reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming the planet.

Swiss urged to play pioneering climate role

As the latest United Nations climate change conference gets underway in Qatar, the government’s advisory body on the issue says Switzerland should adopt a more ambitious strategy rather than align itself with the European Union.

UN talks seen falling short despite climate change fears

DOHA (Reuters) - Despite mounting alarm about climate change, almost 200 nations meeting in Doha from Monday are likely to pay little more than lip service to the need to rein in rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Has the Kyoto protocol made any difference to carbon emissions?

To give a sense of how countries have performed against their targets, in the charts below we've plotted the gap between each nation's percentage target (data from here) and its actual percentage change between 1990 and 2010 (data from here). So for example if a nation had a -10% target but its emissions increased by 10% it scores -20, of if it had a 5% target but cut by 15% it scores 10.

Doubts on $30 Billion Climate Aid Threaten UN Talks

Doubts mounted about whether developed nations honored a pledge to deliver $30 billion in aid for fighting and defend against climate change after two analysts estimated different amounts had been paid out.

The private sector must lead the way on climate change

The climate will not gain from this week's Doha meeting – and neither will business. Government must start embracing market-based approaches.

5 Charts About Climate Change That Should Have You Very, Very Worried

Two major organizations released climate change reports this month warning of doom and gloom if we stick to our current course and fail to take more aggressive measures. A World Bank report imagines a world 4 degrees warmer, the temperature predicted by century's end barring changes, and says it aims to shock people into action by sharing devastating scenarios of flood, famine, drought and cyclones. Meanwhile, a report from the US National Research Council, commissioned by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other intelligence agencies, says the consequences of climate change--rising sea levels, severe flooding, droughts, fires, and insect infestations--pose threats greater than those from terrorism ranging from massive food shortages to a rise in armed conflicts.

Here are some of the more alarming graphic images from the reports.

Rising Seas, Vanishing Coastlines

We hope that with enough time, most of our great coastal cities and regions will be able to prepare for a five-foot increase. Some will not. Barriers that might work in Manhattan would be futile in South Florida, where water would pass underneath them by pushing through porous bedrock.

According to Dr. Schaeffer’s study, immediate and extreme pollution cuts — measures well beyond any discussion now under way — could limit sea level rise to five feet over 300 years. If we stay on our current path, the oceans could rise five feet by the first half of next century, then continue rising even faster. If instead we make moderate shifts in energy and industry — using the kinds of targets that nations have contemplated in international talks but have failed to pursue — sea level could still climb past 12 feet just after 2300. It is hard to imagine what measures might allow many of our great coastal cities to survive a 12-foot increase.

Is This the End?

Is the Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico — the project’s official name — some engineer’s fantasy? It was scheduled for completion this year, but that has been put off until 2014. Even if, by some miracle, the gates materialize, they will be only a stay against the inevitable. Look at the unfortunate Easter Islanders, who left behind as evidence of their existence a mountainside of huge blank-faced busts, or the Polynesians of Pitcairn Island, who didn’t leave behind much more than a few burial sites and a bunch of stone tools. Every civilization must go.

Yet each goes in its own way. In “Collapse,” Jared Diamond showed how the disappearance of a civilization has multiple causes. A cascade of events with unforeseen consequences invariably brings it to a close. The Norse of Greenland cut down their trees (for firewood and other purposes) until there were no more trees, which made it a challenge to build houses or boats. There were other causes, too: violent clashes with the Inuit, bad weather, ice pileups in the fjords blocking trade routes. But deforestation was the prime factor. By the end, no tree fell in the forest, as there was none; and there would have been no one to hear it if it had.

Tom Ashbrook on WBUR (Boston's NPR station) will host a special program this morning at 10am EST on fracking for oil / gas, including a discussion on water-intensive nature of the technology and opportunities for water recycling. You can listen online at www.wbur.org, click on the "Listen Live" button. I hope some TOD commenters will try to call in - it's a live call-in show with various experts brought into the conversation.

The show will repeat this evening at 7pm (Eastern) but there's no opportunity to call in, as it's simply a playback of the morning's program.

Dick Lawrence

Up top

Swallowing Rain Forest, Cities Surge in Amazon

Wish we had pictures of ancient Babylonian forests so people could see for themselves what happens when a species runs amok.

For those interested.

NRK just released videos of Breiviks car bomb in Oslo. This clip also contain an interview with the security officer who saw it on the screen, but you need to know norwegian to get that. The white van that parks under the building is the one with the bomb. Pretty big blow.


I understand that he claims that his jailers are trying to drive him to suicide by serving him cold coffee and forcing him to live by the prison's schedule.


He has demanded pretty extenesive benefits.

Although I am not one to defend leniency towards Breivik, it has to be admitted that cold coffee is a cruel and unusual punishment.

Engineers are used to it. You always get called away when it is hot and it is cold by the time you get back :(



Coffee exhibits an interesting thermal spectrum as it becomes heinous around room temperature but excellent either cold or hot.

Thanks, add to that the red beans have a very sweet flesh and the bushes have no-see-ums like nothing. You can watch your skin turning into a sea of red spots as you walk away munching on the beans.


Re: Brent Poised to Depose WTI as Most-Traded Oil Futures

Somebody's reading my mind. Last night, I finished reading Goodman's The Asylum, in which she presents a semi-historical account of the rise of the NYMEX WTI futures contract. For those who don't know the details, the article above points out:

The U.S. crude contract was inaugurated in 1983 on the Nymex, which is now part of CME. Brent derivatives followed five years later on the International Petroleum Exchange, which was later acquired by ICE.

Goodman's account ends with the CME purchase of the NYMEX, after the NYMEX went public. I found her description of the insider's efforts to build NYMEX and the later events as competition from ICE forced them to move from open pit trading to the present computer based systems to be most interesting. She discusses other historical aspects which still influence our financial markets, such as Phil Gramm's repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and the passage of the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. I now see the markets in a much different light, especially the fact that much trading in real quantities happens over the counter in obscure transactions which are hidden from the rest of the markets.

This latest story looks to be another twist in the ongoing competition between the global trading systems. If the world is at Peak Oil, it's likely that these trading systems can only make things worse, as the amount of trading for speculation is a vastly larger quantity compared to the volumes of crude actually bought and sold at contract closing. Goodman makes a point which I thing may be crucial, which is, the old system of floor trading allowed the traders to assimilate information in ways which the computer traders can not, because of the direct interaction in the pits. As a result, the computer traders exist with only limited information as may be available from other computer based information sources. She claims that many of the traditional floor traders didn't understand why the price of oil in 2008 spiked upward rapidly to $147, only to later fall back to near $30. Does this mean that the electronic market is unstable, with the potential for wild swings? Only time will tell...

E. Swanson

I started reading that book too but didn't have time to finish it. Thanks for the summary. I think, however, that since the 2008 crash, the Fed has gotten its fingers in the oil pricing scheme, as it seems to be propping everything up via high frequency trading, including outright buying of stocks.

Does this mean that the electronic market is unstable, with the potential for wild swings?

It seems sometime in the last several weeks I read an NYT article about profits from computer trading shrinking, and thus a lower computer trading volume trend. Not sure which markets were specifically mentioned.

On a slightly different competition between systems note yesterday's NYT had this
After Drought, Reducing Water Flow Could Hurt Mississippi River Transport

specifically [with my emphasis]

The corps reduces water flow from the upper Missouri every year as part of its master plan for maintaining irrigation systems and meeting other water needs of the region, which stretches from Montana to St. Louis. This year the process began on Nov. 11, as the corps began reducing water flows from the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, S.D. The flow has already been reduced from 37,500 cubic feet per second to 26,500, and will reach 12,000 by Dec. 11.

I haven't seen anything on just how much water the Bakken operations withdraw for their frac'ing, but water availability might have quite a bit to do with the backlog--the upper Missouri River drains pretty much the entire play. Hopefully the lion's share of the frac fluids are reconditioned and reused, but I've not seen data on the total water demands made as ND tight oil production moves toward 1mbd.

This is a great, though very short article: Keeping Peak Oil Reality In Mind # 18: Deny & Delay

The article is by Rich Turcotte but he has a quote from an article by Paul Gilding. Here is a small part of it:

I can’t imagine I’d take kindly to everything I assumed about the world being proven wrong and all my success now being blamed for the potential collapse of civilization. Denial and delay would be quite appealing!

But none of that really matters because the end of their world is going to happen regardless of anything they do.

That article can be found here: The End of the Industrial Revolution

And also a Ted Talk by Gilding: The Earth is full

Ron P.

Hi Ron,

RE: Ted Talk

I've been a "member" here for five years now, and still these sorts of "discussions" feel like fingernails on a blackboard... From my point of view, could I mail the link to any of my fellow Joe/Jane acquaintances? Have them take it seriously? Get them thinking? I just can't see it, sadly, not this kind of approach. Even the audience seemed to be squirming about.

The doco, "A Crude Awakening" remains, in my mind, the best mainstream effort to date. Shame the sole copy at the local Blockbuster is gathering dust.

Regards, Matt from Oz
Your friendly JA

The consociation of population growth and the global economy are fascinating to consider: when you add around 2 billion people to the global labor supply, labor's share of the wealth in proportion to capital decreases perilously. (And productive capacity in Japan and Germany had been built back up, meaning the US now had competitors.) What is the effect of this? An implosion of demand.

This is exactly what has been happening since the stagflation of the '70s and decimation of our more protectionist measures. This happened right when we had a global glut of capital, which exacerbated even further the lack of effective demand. What did we do to soak up surplus investment capital? Well, we had heightened globalization, financialization (what J.H. Kuntsler calls "the financial sector blowing up into a giant monster"), intensified suburbanization, the tech and .com bubbles, the housing asset (more like liability) bubble, expansion of the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) economy, and neoliberal restructuring.

I can't stand this parochialism about the financial collapse that is so present. Looking at the whole economy and economic history is just as important.

Then you have the people who are convinced of an "Asian decoupling" from the Western economy. This is utter absurdity. the neoliberal model based on offshoring capital has reached its limit; China itself has become saturated with industrial capital. The export-oriented industrialization model in Asia is hitting the walls of both Peak Oil and capital saturation. 75% of China's manufacturers were already complaining of excess capacity and demand stagnation, even before the bubble of debt-fueled demand collapsed. Asia's manufacturing sector is Inextricably linked to debt-financed, middle-class spending in the United States, which has collapsed. The Asian export economy, as a result, has fallen through the floor. That's why China's on a frantic and frenetic hunt trolling the whole Earth for any remaining arable land, deposits of gold, copper, etc., and fossil fuels.

That's also the reason why it's inconceivable to me that China and the US would ever war with each other. Their economies are too dependent upon one another's.

What happens when the gold and silver price suppression schemes end because there's no physical left, and it's revealed that America's gold is gone and China holds a large share of it?

Oil boom in center of country resonates on Washington shores

When recent headlines proclaimed that the United States was poised to become the world's largest oil producer by 2017, the import of that news may have seemed distant and abstract. Yes, the oil fields of North Dakota, Montana and Texas are alive with new activity, but for Northwest residents, the effects are not something they see every day.

That fact is quickly changing in businesses from Olympia to the Canadian border. The arrival in Tacoma last week of a 103-car train from North Dakota was a sign of just how swiftly the sudden abundance of oil in this country is shifting business even 1,200 miles away from the booming oil fields.

That BNSF Railway train was the first of what will ultimately become weekly trains bringing oil to Tacoma from the new oil fields opened up by hydraulic-fracturing technology in the country's northern Great Plains.

Apologies if this has already been posted:


"More than 1,000 New Coal Plants Planned Worldwide"

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

How can the frog know the future when it is unconscious of the gradually rising temperature in the pot, anymore than how can people planning ever more coal burning plants know of their folly? The latter scenario presumes concern for the future because humans are smart enough to know a trend, right? What I think is happening is the unfortunate and falsified idea we will stop doing what is damaging to the earth and our future at some point in the future, but for now it's ok to stoke the flames of the pot of water because once we stop any problems with the weather will also stop. But once stoked enough to change the weather into a more chaotic system, it isn't going to change back until CO2 levels are substantially reduced. How is that going to happen as we decimate the flora, acidify the oceans and burn even more ff? We are stuck needing to feed a world economy on cheap ff now, even though it spells disaster in the future. We want to think of ourselves as being different than the frog, but the reality is we are not conducting ourselves differently.

The frog was not warned and probably did not have any past experiences to prepare it for his doom. So, the frog really has more of an excuse than the human being. We are different from the problem. Unlike the frog, we continue what we are doing knowing full well the consequences.

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

I think the problem here is that the metaphor states a frog , well theres more than one frog in that pot, if all acted together they could put out the flames by splashing water out of the pot but as each frog knows if he spends time doing that, the others will stop him from removing the water they need to live in .....

and its such nice water , nice and warm , why would anyone want to remove some ? to the others the water is THEIR water - hands off! let the others do the work with their water , not mine!

and so it goes on , each frog looking at the other knowing keep the pot from boiling they need to put out the flames, preferrable with the other's water ...

The 3 ( maybe more) main frogs , two Europe and USA look at China and China looks at them - if only all three could agree ......


Ps: interesting times - popcorn at the ready ;-)

Perhaps you will be lucky enough to simply watch the impending demise with popcorn in hand, a detached observer. Some of us will not be so lucky as we will be in the direct path of dire consequences. The biggest near term threat for many in most of the nation is a lack of water, a seriously negative economic event, if not immediately life threatening, at least for human beings.

Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow


Pemex Discovers Oil in Region That Could Hold 1 Billion Barrels

Petroleos Mexicanos, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, is expanding drilling after discovering a crude deposit in Tabasco state, estimating the area could hold as much as 1 billion barrels of reserves.
The light-crude deposit announced today in the on-shore Navegante I well may have as much as 500 million barrels.

I've seldom seen a vaguer press release. After going over all the different versions of this report, I've concluded the following:

  • Pemex has drilled a well somewhere in Tabasco State (area about 25,000 square kilometers), a state which currently has about 860 producing oil and gas wells.
  • This well has encountered hydrocarbons.
  • Estimates of total proved, probable and possible (P1+P2+P3) reserves associated with this well range from 50 to 500 million barrels oil equivalent.
  • The reserves for the region might be one billion barrels of oil equivalent. In 2001 the reserves for the coastal area of Tabasco were estimated to be 1.9 billion barrels of oil plus 3.7 trillion cubic feet of gas.

My conclusion from this (and I have worked in the area and am fairly familiar with the geology and with the fields discovered before about 2004) is that there is a new discovery of either oil or gas. This discovery is at 6,000 meters depth, which is deeper than most of the wells in the basin. As the term barrels oil equivalent is used in one report, it is probably gas rather than oil (which is not bad: Mexico imports about 15% of its natural gas from the U.S.), and the geology of the discovery is poorly understood, so there is a 10:1 uncertainty in the possible size of the discovery.

My best guess is that Pemex has discovered a gas field with about 100 billion cubic feet of gas (the 50 million boe is 270 billion cubic feet) ultimately recoverable.

This is enough to supply the country at its current rate of consumption for less than three weeks, or to replace imports for about ten weeks.

Ird - Good dig. I was suspicious about the oil equivalent issue. There might be some liquids yield but at 19,500’ I suspect not much. You seem to know the geology of the trend…any significant oil production at the depth in the basin?

You seem to know the geology of the trend…any significant oil production at the depth in the basin?

As I remember it the deepest oil is at about 5,000m, but there were few wells deeper. Most of the known gas is much shallower, but there's not much gas production in the basin: it's nearly all oil.

The geology is dauntingly complex. Seismic data quality is not very good, so some of the details are very unclear. It seems likely that some of the accumulations are in large blocks (ten km or more across) of karsted limestone which broke of the coast and slid into deep water in the early Tertiary. The discovery wells on these features were drilled on overlying compaction anticlines.

Ird,tks for the analysis .To the layman it would it seem that Pemex has a find of 1 billion barrels when it is only BOE . I think TPTB are getting desperate in trying to push PO under the carpet and that is why the flurry of articles and reports to support BAU .This is their last stand and when the cat is out of the bag, what was it as Anthony said "mischief go or something " (Shakespeare) after his speech to the Romans on the death of Ceaser.
P.S : Will someone assist with the correct quote from the play .

"Now let it work: mischief, thou art afoot, / Take thou what course thou wilt!"
Julius Caesar Act III. Scene II. Lines 260/261

At 06:10

Thanks chief.

Time to get Peak Oil in their curriculum ...

The Cambridge Project for Existential Risk

Many scientists are concerned that developments in human technology may soon pose new, extinction-level risks to our species as a whole. Such dangers have been suggested from progress in AI, from developments in biotechnology and artificial life, from nanotechnology, and from possible extreme effects of anthropogenic climate change. The seriousness of these risks is difficult to assess, but that in itself seems a cause for concern, given how much is at stake.

Our goal is to steer a small fraction of Cambridge's great intellectual resources, and of the reputation built on its past and present scientific pre-eminence, to the task of ensuring that our own species has a long-term future.

We will be developing a prospectus for a Cambridge-based Centre for the Study of Existential Risk in coming months, and welcome enquiries and offers of support.

... unfortunately Peak Oil is not on their radar [yet], but AI is ...

Artificial intelligence – can we keep it in the box?

... People sometimes complain that corporations are psychopaths, if they are not sufficiently reined in by human control. The pessimistic prospect here is that artificial intelligence might be similar, except much much cleverer and much much faster. Or they might simply be indifferent to us – they might care about us as much as we care about the bugs on the windscreen.

If that sounds far-fetched, the pessimists say, just ask gorillas how it feels to compete for resources with the most intelligent species – the reason they are going extinct is not (on the whole) because humans are actively hostile towards them, but because we control the environment in ways that are detrimental to their continuing survival.

and from the DoD ...

Autonomy in Weapon Systems

... The new DoD Directive Number 3000.09, dated November 21, 2012, establishes guidelines that are intended “to minimize the probability and consequences of failures in autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems that could lead to unintended engagements.”

The Department of Defense should “more aggressively use autonomy in military missions,” urged the Defense Science Board last summer in a report on “The Role of Autonomy in DoD Systems.”

Perhaps they should call it "Project Skynet".

I was thinking about machines taking over on my ride home from work today and I sort of scared myself on it. I have a tough time seeing how a terminator-like scenario could come to fruition. The facilities to get started would need to be too large and they'd be too vulnerable to human destruction. Plus all that huge equipment would need too much power. I don't see how it could just suddenly surprise us like that.

However, nano-technology is another story. What if somehow a nano-bot the size of a grain of sand was created who's sole job was to find a human and tunnel into its brain and turn it into a zombie or emit an electrical charge to kill it? A facility the size of a small residence could pump those things out by the millions over a pretty short time. If the nano-bot was capable of movement via a small power supply then I think human beings would be extinct in short order. So that's what I'd be on the watch for. Once we can create a tiny bot that has substantial motive ability with enough onboard power to last weeks then I think it's time to be scared. Seems like we're heading in that direction slowly but surely.

Aren't we already there with biotechnology? Lots of knowledge is out there on how to manipulate viral genomes. - lets hope that there is never a researcher that becomes obsessed with reducing world population via altered disease organisms.

Perception of risk is an interesting thing. If someone were to show you a shark and a coconut most people would go "Shaarrrrkkk!" and run off screaming...then die by coconut. Turns out that more people get hit in the head and die from coconut trauma than by shark.

Bear or Mosquito? It's a trick question to ask "What's the most deadly animal on Earth?" It's a trick because it's really just a proxy, but the mosquito is it particularly because of malaria. It's natural to fear large things, like bears, but when you stack the history of bear deaths against the Bubonic Plague or Tuberculosis...bears start looking all cuddly.

The Soviets genetically altered the smallpox virus to make current vaccinations impotent. Supposedly all destroyed.


It does't seem like it to me. It would have to be a machine who's goal was to actually kill and that's all it did, as quickly as possible and didn't care about its own survival. Maybe those things do exist in secret labs somewhere, but they obviously gained their own free will yet. They need to be something that is smart enough to actively avoid detection and quarantine. I think the biggest roadblock is allowing them to have enough power to move long distances on their own.

There are extant component libraries in wild populations.

Plasmids are like genetic trading-cards that swap in and out of the vehicles called bacteria. An engine transcribed within a plasmid can disseminate trough varied populations... showing up as, for example, similar drug resistance among the different kinds of bacteria in a hospital.

The T4 bacteriophage hides within and replicates along with the DNA of its host until the time is right. The human genome contains thousands of copies of viruses and viral components, for example.

The bacterial mechanism called quorum detection triggers behavioral changes to occur only when the level of, say, otherwise asymptomatic yet communicable infestation has surpassed some threshold.

HIV makes a shifting dance of its immunoreactive surface features.

Modern transportation reaches worldwide on hourly schedules.

Modern population densities are unprecedented.

Modern pollution encourages mutation.

Intent is not strictly required.

Biotechnologists point out that the holy grail of nanotechs -- self-replicating machines -- is their starting point.

Yup! In our Pavlovian world technological evolution brings rewards and we're totally hooked; entwined in it with no escape. Seems those Cambridge scientists have noticed our addiction is taking us somewhere we really don't want to go, but as we're no longer in charge we cannot change our path. The system driving our civilisation is already autonomous and we must abide by its rules or perish.

The World is rapidly becoming too complex for humans, too many variables and too much data for us to process and make informed decisions. We're lost, floundering in a sea of information and suffering acute sensory overload, unable to make sense of our predicament or what to do about it. So we delegate the responsibility to the System and its software bots to make decisions on our behalf. Every day these little computer bots are busy making decisions about our lives without us even being aware of them.

When you have a swarm of lethal autonomous micro-drones, thousands in number, moving in on you. Human sensory capabilities, mental processing speed and reaction times simply cannot cope. You need autonomous weapons to counter the threat. Friendly deaths within acceptable percentage parameters will of course be regrettable, but unavoidable as there will be no alternative to deploying the weapons.

Lets be optimistic, the future's got so much in store for us...

Similarly, but in a more prosaic arena, there was news today that most schools in the US are no longer teaching cursive handwriting. The reason? They are focusing on keyboard skills. So now we are going to be totally dependent on computers to even communicate with each other. Passwords instead of signatures?

I still have my slide rule.

Slipsticks rule. Great for baker's percentages.


I haven't handwritten anything longer than a birthday card message in a decade. I type faster and far more legibly than I can write.

If it's any consolation, people complained about losing the art of memory when writing spread.

Well yes, but those guys could listen to a guy speaking for an hour, and then managed to correctly write down everything he said.

Perhaps an exceedingly few could, but writing opened up information storage to many. Ever play the "telephone game"?


"If it's any consolation, people complained about losing the art of memory when writing spread."

And they were right.

Yes, but it didn't matter. And the new way was better for overall information retention.

There is always printing. Or old typewriters.

I used to have (Pakistani) under my supervision who used an abacus and refused to use a calculator. Perhaps he was on to something.

When my brother worked on his PhD, there was a chinese exchange student who used the abacus. He was faster on that than anyone with a pocket calculater. On the same task, no one ever beat him. Also it run without batteries.

I heard they are now working on one who can represent graphs with the beads.

My point, which everyone seemed to have missed, was just that we have become so dependent on gizmos that depend on electricity and that do half of the thinking for us that we appear to be moving farther and farther away from being able to live without these things. That's OK as long as we have them perhaps, but is all of this stuff part of the reason that kids seems to have such a short attentions span? Maybe I'm just getting slower than I think.

Don't think people missed the point. Some of us, however, were pointing out that there are alternatives.

Yes, but having a calculator or purpose-built software program frees up so much time to do other stuff. For example, just today I performed a load flow analysis on a proposed LNG export facility. I made a few changes to the loading profile and re-ran the analysis in minutes, whereas doing it by hand would take days if not weeks. I then had the rest of my day to analyze the results and do other stuff, like go home from work and eat dinner with my wife.

"I made a few changes to the loading profile and re-ran the analysis in minutes, whereas doing it by hand would take days if not weeks."

That is exactly what caused the great engineer shortage of the mid-1990s to never appear. All those predictions from the late '80s failed to pan out because of '386 and '486 computers on the desktops boosted engineer's productivity. So companies didn't need as many. And no shortage.

I'm not sure what you're talking about, we have a huge shortage of power systems engineers in my field. In fact, we have a huge shortage of engineers period. We (engineers) recently got a substantial "incentive raise" to keep us at our current employer because so many engineers were being headhunted.

Having spent many years looking for an engineering job, I didn't notice any such "shortage". My last full time position evaporated in 1986 and it took me 8 years to find that one. Most of the feedback I got indicated that there were something like 20 applicants for each job I applied for. I found several jobs offered in which the job description was so tight that the only person who would qualify was the person who already had the job, so those were H1B positions transitioning to green card status.

Of course, after the PC explosion, sending out resumes and cover letters became much easier, compared to typing each letter on a typewriter. I was working on an AI project using IBM PC's in "real time" simulations. Then too, I understand things are now done directly over the Internet without hard communication, but I gave up looking and have been out of "the market" for the past 14 years.

Another point is that China is said to graduate some 300,000 engineers a year, while the US adds around 60,000. No wonder most of the industrial production (and the jobs) has shifted to Asia...

E. Swanson

Another point is that China is said to graduate some 300,000 engineers a year, while the US adds around 60,000.

Black_Dog, it is hard to compete when they have that many more engineers than us.

Look into "Ant Tribes" in China.

America seems to prefer to turn out lawyers, hence there is an excess with many out of work and those that are in work are creating a situation with patents that is destroying engineering.


"I found several jobs offered in which the job description was so tight that the only person who would qualify was the person who already had the job, so those were H1B positions transitioning to green card status."

So that's what those are... these long descriptions that end with, say, demanding experience on maybe five different very specific development tools for very specific hardware.

How much free time do you actually have?

"Did you know that before the Industrial Revolution, the average person worked for about two or three hours a day? Studies from a wide range of pre-industrial civilisations show similar data-- it takes only about fifteen hours a week to provide for all of our basic human needs. And that's using hand tools."
~ Walden Effect (online)

"Using the data provided by the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics, Erik Rauch has estimated productivity to have increased by nearly 400%. Says, Rauch:
'... if productivity means anything at all, a worker should be able to earn the same standard of living as a 1950 worker in only 11 hours per week.'
...Since the 1960s, the consensus among researchers (anthropologists, historians, sociologists), has been that early hunter-gatherer societies enjoyed much more leisure time than is permitted by capitalist and agricultural societies..."
~ Wikipedia

"The important thing to understand about collapse is that it's brought on by overreach and overstretch, and people being zealots and trying too hard. It's not brought on by people being laid back and doing the absolute minimum. Americans could very easily feed themselves and clothe themselves and have a place to live, working maybe 100 days a year. You know, it's a rich country in terms of resources. There's really no reason to work more than maybe a third of your time. And that's sort of a standard pattern in the world. But if you want to build a huge empire and have endless economic growth, and have the largest number of billionaires on the planet, then you have to work over 40 hours a week all the time, and if you don't, then you're in danger of going bankrupt. So that's the predicament that people have ended up in. Now, the cure of course is not to do the same thing even harder... what people have to get used to is the idea that most things aren't worth doing anyway..."
~ Dmitry Orlov

We don't need a LNG export facility or calculator like we need a nice woman or man and dinner.

It's true we don't need that stuff. But sitting on my ass all day at home because I couldn't afford to do things like summit mountains or go on a nice motorcycle ride would drive me crazy after a while. It's just the way the human brain is. Sorry, it's too late for that.

I forget who said something to the effect of, "Get ready for lots more leisure time...".

But what do you feel you need to afford? (And can our species actually afford it? Sustainably?) Do you summit mountains with helicopters? Trips to the moon? Why stop with motorcycle rides or mountain summits?

Anyway, if we as a species can't get our act together, get the balance right, simple strolls in the park will be the stuff of wistful nostalgia.

If this is any consolation, there are other pleasant, pleasurable things humans have occupied their time with for millennia. Like stuff related to true, healthy community and lifestyles.

The Oil Drummers, heh. That would make a cool t-shirt :-)

Edit: ToPFM edited out what I was commenting on, if anyone was wondering.

LOL... I felt I was maybe a little too silly with the original, but appreciate your response though. ;)

I've found that the amount of leisure time you have is directly proportional to the amount of time you allow yourself to work, or get "sucked in" to the corporate mentality. I know a lot of people who work 10-12 hours a day and are always stressed about being overworked. Yet the same people can't say no to anything and are always volunteering for additional work. One can make really good money working just 40 hours a week by being tactful in which assignments you pursue. I've noticed boomers to be the ones who are most likely to work unlimited hours regardless of the personal cost. Younger people seem to be more flexible and less willing to work as long.

Of course if we all only worked 1-2 days a week that would be great, but you wouldn't have the PC you're working on or the internet you're posting on or the electricity you're using or the car you're driving or...

Sure, you wouldn't have those things, but for most of human history, we haven't had those things, and many people today do not have those things - and are happier than we are.

If they were no longer available to you, you would adjust.

I don't think there is a way for massive simplification from where we are now without mass starvation and famine. Assuming everybody just worked 2 days a week would be great as long as all the agri-business and biotech people kept working hard making GMO crops so we could all continue eating. We obviously couldn't go back to a hunter-gatherer society because we'd all starve in short order.

To be honest though, I think I could adapt to a life of leisure if I had a couple simple things:

1. I could still live in my current house on several acres of forested land
2. I was still able to raise Giant Silkmoths every summer
3. I actually had a source of reliable food and water

There would be a massive withdrawl phase but I could get over it. The real-world problem is that if everybody stopped working then we'd have a shortage in all resources, including food and water. We've obviously put ourselves in this box, but that's situation so there's nothing anybody can do do wish it away.

That's a different question all together. We are far past the point where the earth can support us all should we revert to a foraging lifestyle. There's a reason we continue to double down on the "worst mistake in the history of the human race."

The approach of course that many are considering and taking could be viewed as being very much in keeping with permaculture-- relocalizing, rescaling and repurposing where we are working for ourselves properly, in part by growing our own food (regenerative soil/natural-systems-building food forest gardens/vertical agriculture, composting, etc.); collecting rainwater; making as much of our own stuff as possible such as through crafts and local tech; learning resilient/sustainable/regenerative practices; developing ethical/local currency/trade/barter/credit systems, helping to (re)create more resilient/sustainable/regenerative/"positive recursive-support-feedback" communities, and so forth.

-- 'Horizontal summits' that we may need to climb and/or create, not because they are there, but, rather, if we wish to survive or survive well. Mountains.

Everest is a piece of cake.

Think of all those people in health clubs on treadmills and therapy, and then think of the therapeutic qualities and rewards of things like gardening, beekeeping, true community and meaningful work, etc..

Humans are not down for the count yet, but they might do well to get off the canvas and off their thumbs soon and start using their heads like some of them claim they can...

"... 5... 6... 7... 8... 9..."

But, you might not be alive.

I'm happy to live in a world with less than 1% child mortality, and where most people live past 75.

I might not be alive, in that the population in general would be much lower. But it would be more that my ancestors had fewer kids, possibly including my forebears, not that many babies died.

Foraging societies tend to have low birth rates, because the combination of long breastfeeding (up to five years) and exercise (from being constantly on the move) prevent ovulation. Children are typically spaced 3-6 years apart, not the every year deal of agricultural societies.

And lifespan was just as long for them as for us. Stone age people were as tall and healthy as we are.

You're thinking of (pre-fossil fuel fiesta) agricultural societies, not foragers.

Simplistic text:
Paul R. Ehrlich & Anne H. Ehrlich, The Population Explosion, 1990.
"...bore several young during their lifetimes, but most likely at intervals of several years. Because the available foods were not easily digested by very young children, breastfeeding may have continued for three years or more, thus delaying the return of fertility after childbirth. Moreover, the wandering lifestyle and the need to carry very small children probably reinforced the long intervals between births."

During hurricane Sandy, the hustle was to find a way to charge the cell-phone.
A different life:
Who Cares for Hunter-Gatherer Children?

The Demographic Transition and Human Capital, 1700-1870
...the differences in fertility behavior in cross section in the pre-industrial world, the transition period, and the modern world.

I might not be alive, in that the population in general would be much lower. But...

Does the reason matter? There's a 99% chance you (or any one ofus) wouldn't be alive in a world of 70M. Isn't that the heart of the matter?

Now, on to the less important things that will get all of the attention...

You're thinking of (pre-fossil fuel fiesta) agricultural societies, not foragers.

No, I'm thinking of pre-FF hunter-gatherers.

I'm aware of the research showing HGs as being tall and healthy, but I'm not aware of research showing they had low infant or adult mortality.

It makes sense that a HG living well within the envelope of floral productivity would be well fed. OTOH, my understanding is they had much higher rates of death from inter-group conflict*. And, again, they would be likely to have high infant (and maternal) mortality, and adult life expectancy would be much, much lower than those seen today.

*Counting societies instead of bodies leads to equally grim figures. In 1978 the anthropologist Carol Ember calculated that 90 percent of hunter-gatherer societies are known to engage in warfare, and 64 percent wage war at least once every two years. Even the 90 percent may be an underestimate, because anthropologists often cannot study a tribe long enough to measure outbreaks that occur every decade or so (imagine an anthropologist studying the peaceful Europeans between 1918 and 1938). In 1972 another anthropologist, W.T. Dival, investigated 99 groups of hunter-gatherers from 37 cultures, and found that 68 were at war at the time, 20 had been at war five to twenty-five years before, and all the others reported warfare in the more distant past. Based on these and other ethnographic surveys, Donald Brown includes that conflict, rape, revenge, jealously, dominance, and male coalitional violence as human universals.

- Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate, Page 57.


Amazonian tribal warfare sheds light on modern violence, anthropologist says

In the tribal societies of the Amazon forest, violent conflict accounted for 30 percent of all deaths before contact with Europeans, according to a recent study by University of Missouri anthropologist Robert Walker. Understanding the reasons behind those altercations in the Amazon sheds light on the instinctual motivations that continue to drive human groups to violence, as well as the ways culture influences the intensity and frequency of violence.



Nick, while I realize that my below quotes may more indirectly address your points, I would offer that the mortality and violence issues may be one of those illusory or delayed effects if we consider possible die-off/collapse/decline for various reasons from where we stand now. IOW, the concern is long term-- real, resilient, regenerative comfort, health, well-being, and survival, etc..

...Using evidence from epidemiology, anthropology, and archaeology, Cohen provides fascinating evidence about the actual effects of civilization on health, suggesting that some aspects of civilization create as many health problems as they prevent or cure.
~ Yale University Press, description for 'Health and the Rise of Civilization', by Mark Nathan Cohen

This current civilization-- as if civilization is something to strive for (Is it? What kind? Can humans achieve it?)-- is ostensibly living on borrowed time-- operating on much energy and resources that won't last and borrowing/stealing from a future that may not happen in large part because of ongoing environmental degradation.

"...it is clear that the existence of a centralized state vastly increases both the profit and the prevalence of violence. The fact that the violence is masked by obedience in no way diminishes the brutality of coercion. All moralists interested in one of the greatest topics of ethics – the reduction or elimination of violence – would do well to understand the depth and degree to which the existence of a centralized state promotes, exacerbates and profits from violence... as we can see from countless examples throughout history, violence always escalates until civil society is utterly destroyed. Because the state so directly profits from violence, eliminating the state can in no way increase the use of violence within society. Quite the contrary... eliminating the state will, to a degree unprecedented in human history, eliminate violence as well."
~ Stefan Molyneux

"...If a population acts to serve its common interest, it will never choose the state. In reaching this conclusion, we need not deny the countless problems that will plague the people living in a society without the state; any anarchical society, being peopled in normal proportion by vile and corruptible individuals, will have crimes and miseries aplenty. But everything that makes life without a state undesirable makes life with a state even more undesirable. The idea that the anti-social tendencies that afflict people in every society can be cured or even ameliorated by giving a few persons great discretionary power over all the others is, upon serious reflection, seen to be a wildly mistaken notion. Perhaps it is needless to add that the structural checks and balances on which Madison relied to restrain the government’s abuses have proven to be increasingly unavailing and, bearing in mind the expansive claims and actions under the present U.S. regime, are now almost wholly superseded by a form of executive caesarism in which the departments of government that were designed to check and balance each other have instead coalesced in a mutually supportive design to plunder the people and reduce them to absolute domination by the state."
~ Robert Higgs

Cohen provides fascinating evidence about the actual effects of civilization on health

If you happen to have time to find quantitative specifics, I'd be curious.

"...it is clear that the existence of a centralized state vastly increases both the profit and the prevalence of violence.

The evidence I've seen suggests this is not true: violence has decreased in a fairly steady fashion through history, as measured by the percentage of the population victimized by violence. Again, if you happen to have time to find quantitative specifics, I'd be curious.

everything that makes life without a state undesirable makes life with a state even more undesirable.

That sounds highly unrealistic - unipolar authority and the rule of law is almost always better than random self enforcement, even if the authorities are bad.

Ask Iraqis or Afghans when they felt safer - under authoritarian rulers, or during their recent civil wars. Some Iraqis may feel the transition was worth it, but they didn't like it much.

Why is unipolar control of violence better than multi-polar? For one thing, it eliminates unending wars of retaliation created by the "revenge" method of violence prevention/punishment.

This current civilization-...living on borrowed time-- operating on much energy and resources that won't last

Well, we have plenty of wind & solar (and even nuclear).

a future that may not happen in large part because of ongoing environmental degradation.

I wish I could disagree, or argue that we don't face big risks (I can't). OTOH, it's important to stay clear on the fact that eliminating CO2 emissions wouldn't be hard - the problem is social resistance to change.

We're All Anarchists - Most Just Don't Realize Yet

Much violence is right under your nose. Just because you don't see it, don't want to see it, or choose not to see it, doesn't mean it isn't there.

One thing I would suggest-- perhaps one of the best-- is to look into anarchism if you already haven't. Maybe wage slavery and enclosure while you're at it.

Anarchism 101
Anarchy In Somalia

The process of enclosure has sometimes been accompanied by force, resistance, and bloodshed, and remains among the most controversial areas of agricultural and economic history in England. Marxist and neo-Marxist historians argue that rich landowners used their control of state processes to appropriate public land for their private benefit. This created a landless working class that provided the labour required in the new industries developing in the north of England. For example: "In agriculture the years between 1760 and 1820 are the years of wholesale enclosure in which, in village after village, common rights are lost". "Enclosure (when all the sophistications are allowed for) was a plain enough case of class robbery."

"Data on police violence, whether in Canada or elsewhere, are scarce. Information on violent practices short of deadly force consists largely of idiographic studies conducted by the media. [see Noam Chomsky regarding the media, for example, film, 'Manufacturing Consent'] In the main, no organizations or individuals, public or private, gather comprehensive data on police violence in Canada... The crucial issue is to determine the proportion of these violent actions that are unjustified (i.e., not legally permissible). This is impossible to gauge accurately from all types of data because they are incomplete and it is commonly recognized that suspected officers, with the collusion of their peers and supervisors, often cover up or destroy incriminating evidence. In addition, the criminal-justice system affords officers a protective shield that is virtually impenetrable... The only analysis of complaints statistics for Canada was done by Henshel (1983)... He made a number of recommendations for the Public Complaints Office: no suggestions were made for controlling police more effectively..."
~ Jeffrey Ian Ross, Ted Robert Gurr, 'Violence in Canada: Sociopolitical Perspectives'

"Lest anyone protest that the state’s true 'function' or 'duty' or 'end' is, as Locke, Madison, and countless others have argued, to protect individuals’ rights to life, liberty, and property, the evidence of history clearly shows that, as a rule, real states do not behave accordingly. The idea that states actually function along such lines or that they strive to carry out such a duty or to achieve such an end resides in the realm of wishful thinking. Although some states in their own self-interest may at some times protect some residents of their territories (other than the state’s own functionaries), such protection is at best highly unreliable and all too often nothing but a solemn farce. Moreover, it is invariably mixed with crimes against the very people the state purports to protect, because the state cannot even exist without committing the crimes of extortion and robbery, which states call taxation (Nock 1939), and as a rule, this existential state crime is but the merest beginning of its assaults on the lives, liberties, and property of its resident population."
~ Robert Higgs, 'If Men Were Angels: The Basic Analytics of the State versus Self-government'

US military 'War Porn' surfaces

(I suppose you've already seen the infamous Collateral Murder video released by Wikileaks, or are aware of the number of Iraqi civilian casualties during the Iraq "war", which some have called, instead, a genocide.)

...a future that may not happen in large part because of ongoing environmental degradation. ~ Tribe Of Pangaea- First Member

I wish I could disagree, or argue that we don't face big risks (I can't). OTOH, it's important to stay clear on the fact that eliminating CO2 emissions wouldn't be hard - the problem is social resistance to change. ~ Nick

But of course the future, if there's to be one for the human species, is not just about C02 emissions.
(It is in part about getting out from under the violence/coercion-based corporate oligarchy.)

As for this so-called social resistance to change, it appears that it is the state(-corporate) oligarchy that has a baked-in resistance to democratic social change.

I went to architectural school in the University of Cincinnati and I began right then to think that architecture was worthless... I was twisting the law to get sustainable housing out there... We don't want to scare people so much that they are paralyzed by fear, because that's what this culture is...
~ Mike Reynolds, film, 'Garbage Warrior'

Incidentally, the US, for example, was violently-founded in part on African slavery (and apparent genocide of native populations), and currently, there is a disproportionately larger Black (and Hispanic) US prison population.

Cohen provides fascinating evidence about the actual effects of civilization on health...

If you happen to have time to find quantitative specifics, I'd be curious. ~ Nick

The reference is there. It's up to you to look into if you want to and choose to.

I watched some of the video, but the rest didn't seem worth my time. The idea that no one should have to pay taxes is highly unrealistic.

The average person was subject to a great deal more coercion as a serf or slave, compared to wage slavery and living in modern states.

I certainly agree that enclosure was class theft, but that doesn't seem helpful to the discussion. Were the dark satanic mills drearier than subsistence farming? It's not clear.

"Data on police violence,... The crucial issue is to determine the proportion of these violent actions that are unjustified (i.e., not legally permissible).

Actually, I think the more interesting question is the overall level, not whether it was legally permissible. I think the criminal justice system needs to be greatly reduced in size. Nevertheless, I think a criminal justice system is certainly needed.

the state cannot even exist without committing the crimes of extortion and robbery

Life does not exist without required payment by individuals to the groups of which they are a part. Slaves, serfs, and the citizens of medieval city states all had much more onerous payments.

I'm aware of Iraqi civilian casualties. I have no illusions about the niceness of US foreign policy. But, is it worse than it's historical predecessors? That's highly unrealistic.

it is the state(-corporate) oligarchy that has a baked-in resistance to democratic social change.


the US, for example, was violently-founded

No question - nothing new there. Sheesh - read the Bible - every second page some tribe is getting wiped out.

If you happen to have time to find quantitative specifics, I'd be curious. ~ Nick - The reference is there. It's up to you to look into if you want to and choose to.

I'm looking for specific evidence, not references. Maybe someday I'll have nothing better to do than look through the reference for specifics, but if you want to make an argument here and now, you need to distill it into something specific.

The average person was subject to a great deal more coercion as a serf or slave, compared to wage slavery and living in modern states... ...unipolar authority and the rule of law is almost always better than random self enforcement, even if the authorities are bad. ~Nick

"A false dilemma (also called false dichotomy, the either-or fallacy, fallacy of false choice, black-and/or-white thinking, or the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses) is a type of informal fallacy that involves a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option. The options may be a position that is between the two extremes (such as when there are shades of grey) or may be a completely different alternative.
False dilemma can arise... when fallacy is used in an attempt to force a choice (such as, in some contexts, the assertion that 'if you are not with us, you are against us')."
~ Wikipedia

"The 'not as bad as' argument... a form of the moral equivalence fallacy... [is] popular with people who know perfectly well they're doing something wrong; being fully aware that they're doing something wrong, they feel compelled to attempt to justify it and do so by pointing to other, usually worse, actions."
~ Rationalwiki


Chattel Slavery Is Preferable

"While being a chattel slave was no picnic, it was certainly better than being a wage slave. A chattel slave had a guarantee of a lifetime of food and shelter, while a wage slave could be killed by faulty equipment, or fired at anytime. Carl Marx’s word does not carry a whole lot of weight in America; however, he was right on the ball with this analysis: 'the slave is sold once and for all; the proletarian must sell himself daily and hourly. The individual slave, property of one master, is assured an existence, however miserable it may be, because of the master's interest.' "
~ Tristan Devereux

"The view that wage work has substantial similarities with chattel slavery was actively put forward in the late 18th and 19th centuries by defenders of chattel slavery (most notably in the Southern states of the US), and by opponents of capitalism (who were also critics of chattel slavery). Some defenders of slavery, mainly from the Southern slave states argued that Northern workers were 'free but in name – the slaves of endless toil,' and that their slaves were better off. This contention has been partly corroborated by some modern studies that indicate slaves' material conditions in the 19th century were 'better than what was typically available to free urban laborers at the time.' The Height of American Slaves: New Evidence of Slave Nutrition and Health[31] In this period, Henry David Thoreau wrote that '[i]t is hard to have a Southern overseer; it is worse to have a Northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself.' "
~ Wikipedia

See also

Well, I'm looking for evidence that anarchy works. As far as I can tell, history doesn't support the proposition.

So, what evidence do we have for large groups of people living together anarchically?

Well, I'm looking for evidence that anarchy works. As far as I can tell, history doesn't support the proposition. ~ Nick

A band society is the simplest form of human society. A band generally consists of a small kin group, no larger than an extended family or clan; it has been defined as consisting of no more than 30 to 50 individuals.

Bands have a loose organization. Their power structure is often egalitarian and has informal leadership; the older members of the band generally are looked to for guidance and advice, and decisions are often made on a consensus basis, but there are no written laws and none of the specialised coercive roles (e.g., police) typically seen in more complex societies.
~ Wikipedia

Bands, and perhaps to a somewhat smaller extent, tribes, are relatively anarchic by nature, and they have existed- 'worked'- for far longer than states. We evolved within them as a species and they are therefore part of our makeup.

So, what evidence do we have for large groups of people living together anarchically?

Aside from the idea that the centralized state oligarchy may create the conditions both for and against this, how large do you have in mind? Ecovillage or Transition Town size? There appear to be quite a few of those, many of which may qualify. Also...

Celtic Ireland (650-1650)

In Celtic Irish society of the Middle Ages and Early Modern period, courts and the law were largely anarchist, and operated in a purely stateless manner. This society persisted in this manner for roughly a thousand years until its conquest by England in the seventeenth century. In contrast to many similarly functioning tribal societies (such as the Ibos in West Africa), preconquest Ireland was not in any sense 'primitive': it was a highly complex society that was, for centuries, the most advanced, most scholarly, and most civilized in all of Western Europe. A leading authority on ancient Irish law wrote, 'There was no legislature, no bailiffs, no police, no public enforcement of justice... There was no trace of State-administered justice...'
~ Wikipedia

While I already posted a link about Somalia's apparent anarchy, too, I also linked to the Iron Law of Oligarchy, which claims democracy and larger groups as being incompatible, and I seem to recall mentioning something about our species apparently being out-of-scale.

Thus, if your unipolar authority is an inevitable function of this kind of scale; operates undemocratically, illegitimately, immorally, and by force (violence); we are not evolved for it (and don't belong under it, where it is fundamentally unnatural for our species); and if it's unsustainable/self-defeating in the long term (energy, overcomplexity, etc.?), then arguing for it seems questionable, to be charitable. Like banging a square peg into a round hole, or even, if inadvertently and ironically, arguing for anarchy.

"The obvious point is that most social activists look constantly to the state for solutions to social problems. This point bears labouring, because the orientation of most social action groups tends to reinforce state power... By appealing to the state, activists indirectly strengthen the roots of many social problems, the problem of war in particular..." ~ Brian Martin

"The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself... Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable..." ~ H.L. Mencken

You may be aware of some research that suggests much of this to be somewhat illusory, such as, for examples, that there appear to be some sorts of medians/averages/etc. that skew the stats (i.e., WRT child mortality); and that much of the gains might manifest over time as losses in the style of 'borrowing from the future', and so forth.

Ditto with Leanan's good points.

If we wish to include children in the stats, then we may see fit to include the effects of time on them. Our children are our future.

Think cancer and Fukushima in 30 years, or peak green revolution for 2 of many examples. Pick your poison.

Of course if we all only worked 1-2 days a week that would be great, but you wouldn't have the PC you're working on or the internet you're posting on or the electricity you're using or the car you're driving or...

If the below quote is any indication, I suspect we would have all that and more-- like trees, and much less of other things, like plastics all over the place, and things that actually work the way they're supposed to, break less, and can be supported/fixed/upgraded affordably, rather than thrown away.

And it also seems to suggest that work and certain results have become somehow unbound, that the value of work has plummeted-- along with just about everything else-- costing time, energy and lives/species. Where did 40 hours a week come from by the way? Wage-theivery?

Using the data provided by the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics, Erik Rauch has estimated productivity to have increased by nearly 400%. Says, Rauch:
'… if productivity means anything at all, a worker should be able to earn the same standard of living as a 1950 worker in only 11 hours per week.'
...Since the 1960s, the consensus among researchers (anthropologists, historians, sociologists), has been that early hunter-gatherer societies enjoyed much more leisure time than is permitted by capitalist and agricultural societies...
~ Wikipedia

By the way, I'm not driving a car or motorcycle and have not since 18 y/o. Since then, it's been butt, blades, bike, bus.



The first chart on the Mother Jones article is the most interesting. It shows productivity gaining and the gains going to the top 1% while everyone else is flat.

Yes, the 40 hours was more rhetorical, but thanks for the elab, and the other's interesting, if hardly surprising, including the gains to the 1% while everyone else flatlines.

Calculators on average are used for simple stuff that can be done easily in your head in the time it takes to reach for a calculator or remember where it is.

Ask someone what 12x12 is and see how many people reach for a calculator. Back before calculators were available among the poorest students would be able to tell you the answer without thinking - the times tables were drilled into our heads.

I was shocked when I found out my kids didn't know long division - it's not taught in our school system.

I was shocked when I found out my kids didn't know long division

I am shocked as well, that's pretty basic.

I'm not shocked at all. I resented/hated the institution as a kid. Mental/Intellectual/Spiritual circumcision.

Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby 'schooled' to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is 'schooled' to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavor are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve those ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question. ~ Ivan Illich

I think you are unnecessarily bringing the school/institution angle into it. It's basic maths, it's not calculus, necessary for maintaining a modicum of civilization. I don't buy this "I resented this at school so it's good that this is going away" idea. It's trumpeted everywhere. You could be home schooled and still have to learn long division or you wouldn't be able to do your own inventory calculations. If anything it makes you more dependent on the "system" (read calculators).

There was recently a news report that sailors are no longer taught to navigate using celestial bodies (someone on TOD). I think it's plain stupid. What happens when your GPS breaks down ? Similarly what do you do when you don't have a calculator. I agree with Ivan Illich that schools force you to conform but we must not blindly fall into the trap of thinking that everything schools teach you is bad. Some skills are necessary for life.

K-12 in the US is a low grade torture/day care/indoctrination institution. It would be nice if it weren't - but it is, so accept and move on.

...necessary for maintaining a modicum of civilization. ~ wiseindian

What kind of civilization are you referring to?

Civilization: Some Restrictions Apply? Derrick Jensen: Civilization and Enlightenment? Richard Manning on the Psychosis of Civilization?

I think there's a difference between education and the centralized corporate-oligarchical institution of school. Illich too I guess.
I also think there's a difference between "civilization" and being "civilized". Maybe that's why (some forms/approaches of) civilization apparently keep collapsing or declining. Maintaining a modicum of something/civilization might be good if it actually works.

The school/institution angle was already running in the thread, BTW.

What kind of civilization are you referring to?

The one that lets you read and write and comment on such things.

My comment was clearly about long division. We can go all transcendental and philosophical on the question of schools and 'indoctrination' and discuss it till the end of time. There's literally no end to this, however that doesn't change the practical utility of long division one bit.

Schools, maybe civilization are unneeded for long division, but thinking is.
As someone with 'wise' in their name, I imagine you understand that it is not just what is known, but how it's thought about and what is done with it.

Prehistoric mathematics

The origins of mathematical thought lie in the concepts of number, magnitude, and form. Modern studies of animal cognition have shown that these concepts are not unique to humans. Such concepts would have been part of everyday life in hunter-gatherer societies...
The oldest known possibly mathematical object is the Lebombo bone, discovered in the Lebombo mountains of Swaziland and dated to approximately 35,000 BC. It consists of 29 distinct notches cut into a baboon's fibula. Also prehistoric artifacts discovered in Africa and France, dated between 35,000 and 20,000 years old, suggest early attempts to quantify time.

The Ishango bone, found near the headwaters of the Nile river (northeastern Congo), may be as much as 20,000 years old and consists of a series of tally marks carved in three columns running the length of the bone. Common interpretations are that the Ishango bone shows either the earliest known demonstration of sequences of prime numbers or a six month lunar calendar. In the book How Mathematics Happened: The First 50,000 Years, Peter Rudman argues that the development of the concept of prime numbers could only have come about after the concept of division, which he dates to after 10,000 BC...
~ Wikipedia

The trouble with celestial navigation (which I know) is that you need a sextant, a chronometer, and a current edition of the Nautical Almanac - three things which you may not have readily at hand in an emergency.

The last time the GPS went out on a boat I was on, we navigated using our iPhones. Everyone had one, there is a choice of apps for navigating, and they were much more user friendly than the boat GPS.

Dead reckoning is a skill that every sailor should know, though. You should know where you are BEFORE you look at the GPS. The GPS should just confirm that you haven't screwed up and are where you think you are.


"the times tables were drilled into our heads.

I was shocked when I found out my kids didn't know long division - it's not taught in our school system."

Not true, boyo...

I am sure when you were a kid your parents took some time and actually asked if you got your homework done or drilled you on times tables? I have taught math for years, and several years ago dropped down to elementary school in order to be able to commute on bike, etc. Well, the kids don't take homework home, mostly, and many many did not know times tables grades 5-7. Can you imagine how many parents I phoned and how many report comments I made about needing to know times tables? Folks, no mental math = no ability to do fractions which means higher math is closed for your child. No math = no science career. It is unbelieveable. Then, these are the same folks who moan about how the schools don't teach anything....and on and on.

Anyway, I taught long division, and when I returned to high school and taught dummy math for awhile I tried to ensure the algebra basics were taught in a fun way so kids could go back and re-stream into academic math.

People have to stop expecting schools to teach everything because they cannot take the place of parenting. Dog bite? Well the schools will teach dog safety. Internet safety? Bullying? Finances?

Parents where are you? Do your job. By the way, all my kids learned math at home and are great readers. And, they are successful. It starts at home. I cannot emphasize that enough.

Furthermore, as the slide seems to be nibbling away at our school system, parental involvement with education is more important than ever.

Two more months in this career and am finishing it off teaching metalwork and mechanics. I have kids building a windmill, rebuilding utility trailers, learning to blacksmith, Machine, fabricate etc. It is the best I can do. I am booked to teach trades prep and Peak Oil on a volunteer basis....In fact, I have my first days booked in two weeks and have a guy covering classes for me. Great Principal....boss.


It is true. My local system teaches a version of short division that is different from the two methods of short division I was taught. It is clumsy with larger numbers and decimal points and leads to frustration and error. It is inferior to long division. I'm glad that you teach long division. I am sorry your parents don't take responsibility for your students homework. I'm not sure this is any different than it has always been for teachers though.

"I made a few changes to the loading profile and re-ran the analysis in minutes, whereas doing it by hand would take days if not weeks."

My very first task as a trainee civil engineering technician was a Hardy-Cross flow analysis of the water supply in two large suburbs.

Each iteration took me a week, using an electromechanical calculator and getting pressure drops from curves on log-log graph paper.

Guess the flow in a length of pipe, calculate the pressure drop, go to the next pipe in the loop, repeat until you are back at your starting point. If you end up with a pressure mismatch, apply a correcting flow to the loop and recalculate.

An hour a loop, forty loops in the net, one week per pass. After three weeks the boss said the correcting flows were small enough, we could accept the results.

These days it would take a few minutes and be far more accurate.

IBM had a guy with a PhD who spent two and a half months designing a support tower, using CADD to calculate the load on each element, etc. Eventually, an older guy who had two years of tech school in Air Force way back when said, "Forget all that," and suggested just putting in the biggest tower they had. Yeah, it was probably way overdesigned. But still cheaper than spending months calculating the load.

IBM gave him a $5,000 bonus.

I understand that an engineer is someone who can do with $1 what any schmuck can do for $2, but I think we often get carried away. Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. In another instance, there was a highway ramp/overpass that was designed with really elaborate horizontal and vertical curves. It was supercomputers that could do massive finite element analysis that made it possible, and the designers were so proud of it.

Unfortunately, they made a mistake somewhere, and the overpass ended up a couple of inches too high. That meant it bounced every time a truck drove over it. Which meant cyclic loading fatigue threatened the brand new, very expensive overpass.

Eventually, they cast huge concrete blocks and attached them to the underside of the overpass. To hold it down so it wouldn't bounce.

I understand that an engineer is someone who can do with $1 what any schmuck can do for $2, but I think we often get carried away.

Here's an example from Brazil... There was a toothpaste manufacturer who was having issues with customers complaining about receiving empty cardboard boxes in their shipments.
So they hired a team of engineers who devised a very complex and expensive system with multiple sensors and precision microscales that could detect empty boxes and then remove them from the production line.
They extensively tested the system and it worked like a charm!

Then the new machines were installed on the assembly line and the production crew on the floor started working. The bean counters in the office of course paid close attention to feedback from their customers who were quite happy! Kudos to the engineers, case closed!

Then came time a few months later do do periodic maintenance on the new system and they flew in a team of engineers for the task. To their suprise they found that the workers on the floor had turned off the new machines becuase they were just too much trouble. Huh?! So how come the customers were happy that they were no longer getting empties in their shipments?

Well, once the workers on the line understood the problem and what the customers were complaining about they came up with a solution of their own...

The had gone out and spent a few hundred bucks on a large industrial fan which they strategically set set up next to their production line. The fan blew the empty boxes off the line leaving only the full ones. Problem solved, they knew how to work with a simple fan, and the customers were happy!

Moral of the story, don't discount the possibility that sometimes the average schmuck can find a simpler and much less expensive solution >;-)

Here's an example from Brazil

I think it's from Japan and it's soap boxes but the story is the same.

Japan or Brazil the key point there might be that the workers were capable of finding a solution A) when they were told what the problem was and B) because they felt motivated to do so. Its worth keeping the workers informed/motivated

I wonder if this is an urban legend. It has the markings of it. Japan, Brazil, soap, toothpaste. I checked Snopes, and they had a couple of versions of the story, but no evidence that it was true or false.

However, it was pointed out that scales are part of production lines, and more likely to be used than a big fan, because with a fan, empty boxes would fly everywhere, and someone would have to gather them up and dispose of them. A real production line is likely to have a way to automatically re-route empties to be filled. Plus, a large fan and soap powder are not a good combination (in the case of the soap version of the story).

That's the method I used when designing our house: When in doubt, overbuild. Drove the inspectors crazy, and the extra costs were minimal. When they asked for engineering specs on my stressed-skin-truss roof system, an architect friend who had looked at the design sent a letter which stated "while we can't provide specific numbers regarding the load bearing capacity of the roof system, we can state with certainty that it exceeds design goals by more than 200%, and it is a cost effective solution our firm expects to use in future designs."

They later certified the roof for over 300 pounds per square foot, and I was able to build it for about 1/3 of what the local engineered truss company was quoting for half that load using computers, expensive software, and computerized jigs. Their system is optimized for quick manufacture, materials optimization, and speedy/efficient installation. Not being particularly time constrained, my approach was a bit different.

Around 1980 when computer-designed roof trusses were just coming in, my boss asked me to check the calculations for a school we were involved with. The truss company sent through the printouts. Not sure how to check a computer program, I assumed the program was correct and checked that the load cases were input correctly. They had forgotten to include the wind load on the roof-mounted ventilators. We asked them to recalculate and it turned out some of the trusses were under strength.

Major consternation. By this time the trusses had been manufactured in Johannesburg and transported 1,000 miles to the middle of Namibia and the builder wanted to erect them. I suggested going ahead because they were only slightly under strength. My boss forbade it. The situation was getting ugly when I suggested a compromise: place the existing trusses closer together and meantime manufacture extra trusses to make up for the closer spacing. There would be no wastage and the builder could continue.

That's the way they did it. There was an extra complication in that the holding-down straps built into the wall were spaced at the original truss spacing, so he had to erect the trusses, place a beam over the lower member, and strap the beam down.

The builder ever after groused the school had the most over-strength roof in Namibia. He was right.

My brother, an engineer, used to design facilities for oil companies, but when they ran short of time, they would have the field personel design the buildings and just check the designs for errors before they actually built them.

He said they never designed anything that would actually fall down, but typically things were twice as strong and 50% more expensive than they needed to be. That was what my brother got paid the big bucks for - designing things that were exactly as strong and as expensive as necessary. No more and no less.

it was kind of annoying when we were building a garden shed and he said things like, "You're using more nails than you need to," but for the most part he was kind of handy to have around when we wanted to build something. We knew it always would be strong enough and not too expensive, even if it was a garden shed.

I also once worked with an engineer who had once built a freeway six inches too low. He didn't know where he had gone wrong, but they had to raise the entire freeway six inches after it was done, and you wouldn't believe how expensive that is. While working for us, he spent $100,000 building a computer room for a $10,000 computer, so we fired him too. That's an entirely different style of engineering.

The news was that _cursive_ was no longer taught, not that hand writing was abandoned. They taught me "cursive" writing when I was a kid, and my cursive never was very legible. Some 15 years later I made a deliberate shift to writing separate letters, starting with just capital letters (using a system that was invented for rapid and accurate and legible writing down of random letter arriving as Morse code) and later introducing lowercase. I stuck to that ever since, although I must say that in the last 20 years, since I've been mostly writing via keyboard, my handwriting has gone downhill again.

I am a serious left-hander and could never master cursive, it was just too awkward. I gave up and do all my handwriting with regular old capital block letters. Yet I can do complex/imaginary math all day long. Frankly I find cursive tougher to read and couldn't care less whether students are still taught it.

I only ever used cursive in school when we practiced cursive. Never used it once outside of training. I was a notorious poor hand writer as a kid, and in my teen ages I made a reform and shifted to only write with capital letters. The first letter in a name or a sentence is larger in size than the rest, so there is no confusion.

I have no clue if kids are thought cursive or not in school, but would not mind if they stopped. Better put the effort in teaching proper Swedish. Such as the correct use of "dem" and "dom", and writing double words together, wich when neglected causes confusement due to the grammar of the language.

Looks like I'm far from the only one who writes/prints in caps. šŏmэŧїmэš їŧ'š ċŭřšїνэ, Ъŭŧ їŧ'š Ћαřđэř ŧŏ řэαđ. wايللايحط

Cursive is great for love letters, thank you notes etc. Not so great for
hurriedly written notes and communication.

I do worry about the loss of manual dexterity, texting requires a sort of pushing motion of a single digit, whereas most manual tasks (knitting, cutting, using a screwdriver etc) use grasping and twisting motions, often requiring complex coordination between digits.

Learn to TIG weld. You use your fingertips and digital dexterity like with no other method. Turns out the best TIG welders are often women.

Also it is clean. In theory you could wear a suit and shiny shoes when working with this method. Nearly no smoke.

An old guy I knew used to run a factory manufacturing land mines during WWII. He said his best welders were women.

When I asked the reason why, he replied, "Nimble fingers, m'boy. They've got nimble fingers."

Welders are a special bunch. You get respect for skills. In many man-dominated lines of work, women have to perform better than men to get the same respect. Not so in welding. You know how to weld, you're one in the crowd. I know a few good female welders. They enjoy the respect they deserve.

"most schools in the US are no longer teaching cursive handwriting"

My daughter mentioned that over the holidays. Cursive is officially dropped. I too agree with the sentiment of no loss.

Fountain pens are dead, and ball points work fine for printing.

It's not news to me - I've been upset about this for a couple years now. Young teachers now can hardly write a letter in cursive. My oldest daughter is proud of her cursive, she says she had to learn it in order to read letters from my grandmother. Even so, she has to ask me eg what a capital Q, X or Z looks like. Cursive isn't taught in our schools. It sickens me.
What bothers me is the schools are so short sighted they don't see the need. The ability to fluently write a letter is a basic part of literacy, like consistent spelling or knowledge of the King's English.

That's a strange thing this dropping of "cursive", especially if you write all capitals ...

Especially as "cursive" seems to me factually quicker to write, even lower case.
Take the "a" for instance.
Was in the US beginning 90ies(university) and was "impressed" at "everybody" writing seperated printing style letters, also had the impression it was more girls than boys doing so.
And in France when the case also more from girls seems to me (had a chat with my sister who is a school teacher about that recently), but "cursive" is still the basic writing method taught.

When you have a swarm of lethal autonomous micro-drones, thousands in number, moving in on you. Human sensory capabilities, mental processing speed and reaction times simply cannot cope.

Right now they only look lethal but are pretty fragile on the field, they don't have even the basic commonsensical capabilities that toddlers possess. Without a human controller they are good for nothing IMO. I am sure people will figure out a way like throwing a fishing net on top of them or spraying them with water. We are still some way away from the spider bots shown in Minority Report.


Dance of the heliostats
(skip to the middle of the video)

That video of a quad going into a building and scouting on it's own (claimed, not on video) got my attention. Would it also know what to do if someone was swinging a club at it ?

Well... first you've got to get close enough:

Slow guy with giant slow fly swatter:

Vision-based autonomous

Anything you want. It's just a matter of money. The obstacle avoidance channel would probably be made most sensitive to things "moving" at the rate the vehicle is moving so as to use a-priori knowledge to maximize the channel's gain/bandwidth. Things moving faster would really stand-out better in some other channel, say Doppler radar.

High-speed object recognition and orientation:

Flying sphere

I think I can hit the one in the video with a club even with it's collision avoidance system :)
Jokes apart I don't think it's just a matter of money, it would be expensive (computationally) to differentiate between a club, a human, a wall and another copter. And they (the flying things) get bigger with bigger more sensors and more power hogging chips thus losing their maneuverability. But it's a matter of time I suppose.

Yes, adding features adds up. Look how small this starts... and then it grows fast with the addition of capabilities:


Another sense/orient demo:

Favorite vehicle:
Bang-bang servo:
Linear servo:

Personally I wouldn't mind a true AI taking over. It seems best to have the fruits of our civilization produce something which would last the test of time than it would be to have everything crumble around us. Computers seem far more equipped to deal with a high technology world than the wetware which created them. Likely we humans don't have the equipment mentally and physically to deal with the problems of our world, let alone move to others so personally I welcome our new computer overlords.

"A Taste of Armageddon": February 23, 1967... "one of Trek's classic allegorically powerful, common sense implausible scenarios."

Proceed immediately to your assigned disintegration booth.

No reason to get excited, since machine evolution was around some 10 billion years prior to biotic evolution and even made biotic evolution possible.

Fear of machines by carbon based life is a non-sequiter.

Machines should fear biological species, not the other way around.

True, we mustn't fear the machines. To survive on our ruined planet we must acquiesce and be assimilated.

Gas tanker Ob River attempts first winter Arctic crossing

A large tanker carrying liquified natural gas (LNG) is set to become the first ship of its type to sail across the Arctic.

The carrier, Ob River, left Norway in November and has sailed north of Russia on its way to Japan.

The specially equipped tanker is due to arrive in early December and will shave 20 days off the regular journey.

The owners say that changing climate conditions and a volatile gas market make the Arctic transit profitable....[snip]


...The Norwegian LNG plant at Hammerfest was developed with exports to the US in mind. But the rapid uptake of shale in America has curbed the demand for imported gas.

Meanwhile in Japan, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, there has been a growing interest in alternative power sources, especially gas.

"The major point about gas is that it now goes east and not west," says Gunnar Sander, senior adviser at the Norwegian Polar Institute and an expert on how climate change impacts economic activity in the Arctic.

"The shale gas revolution has turned the market upside down; that plus the rapid melting of the polar ice."

He stresses that the changes in climate are less important than the growing demand for oil and gas.

Emphasis mine, as I'm having difficulty with any context for this idea. So it goes...

"He stresses that the changes in climate are less important than the growing demand for oil and gas."

What a breathtakingly moronic statement.

Our home was full of family this weekend and I took the time away from the larger issues; no computer or MSM news, etc. I did have to tolerate a couple of hours of an uninvited guest-of-a-guest lecturing on abiotic oil and how it's the "trichinosis" in turkey that makes one sleepy. In keeping with our Southern traditions, I was a gracious and non-confrontational host (give 'em enough rope Bourbon and all that)..

Monday rolls around and there's a story about how global warming allows a huge Greek owned LNG tanker, escorted by a Russian nuclear icebreaker, saving 40% of their fuel costs, and...

"It's an extraordinarily interesting adventure," Tony Lauritzen, commercial director at Dynagas, told BBC News.

"The people on board have been seeing polar bears on the route. We've had the plans for a long time and everything has gone well."

... the only parts I give a hoot about are global warming and polar bears. Wave to the cute polar bears :-0

'Extraordinarily' surreal...

I can imagine a Martian see the gradual demise of Earthlings due to climate change and resource depletion as an extraordinarily interesting phenomenon.

To an actually sapient species this would be huge news, not trivia. Ocean acidification doesn't get enough brain time... it's huge, it's imminent, it can't be argued away. Yet I have talked with very aware people who hadn't even heard it was an issue, and doubted it was a real thing.

The hell with sea level rise, that comes and goes & is trivial... the various forms of calcium carbonate must exist for our current ocean ecosystem to exist in anything like its current state. And its loss can now be measured in decades, not millennia.

I don't get how these species survived the past when CO2 was much higher than today.

Barely, one must assume. There may have been small niches where pH was more reasonable, or simply where there was no predation, etc. And many species didn't come back... the reef-building coral species today aren't necessarily the same ones which made up past reefs. I think the answer is "we don't know" how or where remnant organisms survived. But I've seen it said that never in the past was a major acidification as fast as it is now.

A high damn price to pay for industrialization & overshoot of one species for a couple centuries.

"Ocean chemistry may also control which mineral shells are constructed of. Calcium carbonate has two forms, the stable calcite, and the metastable aragonite, which is stable within a reasonable range of chemical environments but rapidly becomes unstable outside this range. ... With the exception of the mollusks, whose shells often comprise both forms, most lineages use just one form of the mineral. The form used appears to reflect the seawater chemistry – thus which form was more easily precipitated – at the time that the lineage first evolved a calcified skeleton, and does not change thereafter. ... success is instead controlled mainly by how well they recover from mass extinctions."

(PDF) http://www.analyt.natureblink.com/publikace/mollusc.pdf
"Calcareous shells are normally made of calcitic or aragonitic, but there are some reports indicating the presence of vaterite."

A Simplified Guide to the Relationship Between Calcium, Alkalinity, Magnesium and pH

Yet I have talked with very aware people who hadn't even heard it was an issue, and doubted it was a real thing.

Yeah, that has been my number one concern by far for quite a long time!

Perhaps because I have spent a lot of time on tropical reefs and have also kept salt water aquariums. Anyone who doesn't understand the importance of pH to a living reef should invest a few thousand dollars in a salt water aquarium and then deliberately start to lower the pH from say a starting point of a healthy 8.2 to about 7.9, which anyone who has taken basic chemistry knows is far from acidic. However, be forewarned the pH scale is logarithmic and you will see some very dramatic and not very pretty results. I can assure you it is a real thing!

But we also talk to each other here!

I think there are some very arbitrary definitions for 'smart' out there, which are, if I may say so, not very well considered.

I see a lot of wisdom out there, but it usually doesn't coincide all that well with power and status.. it's just possible that the meek actually have something up their sleeves that even they don't totally appreciate.. and of course, to 'Inherit' something means that you have survived longer than the previous owners, no?

If the meek inherit the Earth, the strong will take it back...

That was what an old friend told me once anyway. He said the strong have nothing to worry about "because its just a buncha meeks"

Bumper sticker from decades ago:

The meek are contesting the will

I think he is referring to the economics. The profit from the LNG tanker would even pay for the icebreaker. If climate change makes the icebreaker unneeded, so much the better.

What is ironic is that a nuclear-powered ice-breaker may well be used to get an LNG tanker through the pack ice to Japan, where the government has decided that nuclear power is too dangerous to use.

It's a good thing the Pliocene climate was actually pretty decent. If the models are right that is where we are going. (If the models are wrong, then there is the worrisome matter of that temperature spike up at the end of the Eemian which immediate preceded the drop to full-on ice age. That drop took no more than 400 years. So 2 degrees C per century.)

May your children have a residence more than 25 meters above current sea level.

Emphasis mine, as I'm having difficulty with any context for this idea. So it goes...

On the other hand, there is probably more irony in this text than I think I can possibly stand.

The ship, with an international crew of 40, has been chartered from its Greek owners Dynagas by the Russian Gazprom energy giant. It says it has been preparing for the trip for over a year.

"It's an extraordinarily interesting adventure," Tony Lauritzen, commercial director at Dynagas, told BBC News.

"The people on board have been seeing polar bears on the route. We've had the plans for a long time and everything has gone well."

Mr Lauritzen says that a key factor in the decision to use the northern route was the recent scientific record on melting in the Arctic.

Yeah, Fred, there has to be a great cartoon in there somewhere ;-/

I can see those bears trying to thumb a lift.


Or flip 'em the bird.

there is probably more irony in this text than I think I can possibly stand.

I can well appreciate the comments regarding the irony of the situation, but these developments are also (ironically?) hammerblows to the climate denialist camp. Why? Because their principal arguments are having less and less business relevance as time goes by. Business is responding to the changing conditions on the ground, and the denialist pose is losing value. Moving cargo through the arctic in winter belies denialist claims.

Another example: climate skeptics have made a lot of noise regarding the 15-year 'pause' in global average temperatures. Whether or not there is a pause and its causes is a matter of some debate. But here is the commercial reality: substantially reduced winters in North America 5 of the last 7 years, taking its toll on fossil fuel demand. If global average temps 'pause' at current levels, it will continue to turn the nat gas and coal business model completely on its head (not sure how it affects oil).

It's much like ROCKMAN's 'winner' comment about abiotic oil: theories about abiotic oil are well and fine, but tell us where to go and get it? What E&P companies make statements in their annual reports about the immense profits to be reaped from abiotic oil? Again, simply no commercial relevance.

I'd like to see them plow through this wave of ice.

The 'frozen wave': Stunning 50ft blue ice monolith captured in the Antarctic


How rapidly things have changed (my bold)...

In June - November 1970 the Southwind was sent on an extended Arctic cruise, conducting oceanographic surveys in the Barents and Kara Seas and resupplying US polar bases. Following a visit to Greenland, the Southwind reached 83 deg 01 min N on 15 August 1970. Only 419 miles from the pole, this was the northernmost point reached by a US icebreaker to that date.

The breaker was finally stopped by solid ice at least 10 to 15 feet thick. Due to global warming, by 2007 the ice thickness was half that at this latitude and a waterway one mile wide opened up. This was the first time in millions of years that this had happened. Michael Stronski notes: "I take it our crew were one of the very last to see the pole as it has been for millions of years".


Here Today, Gone Tomorrow:
Rise and Fall of Technology Hypes a Matter of Association

The study analysed the "rise and fall" of technology hypes based on fuel cell technology as an alternative vehicle propulsion concept.

... "In the area of mobility, in particular, great white hopes replace each other in rapid succession. In the late 1990s, hydrogen-based fuel cell technology was seen as enormously promising", explains Dr. Matthias Weber from the AIT. "However, as early as 2003, electromobility started to offer a new perspective – and hope. Later again, biofuels were seen as the next big thing for a time. Meanwhile, however, this enthusiasm has been replaced by considerable scepticism."

Dr. Weber and his team analysed how the initial hope in the fuel cells soon escalated into hype. Five different areas of discourse were defined as a basis for the study: mass media, politics, expert circles, finance and the stock exchange. ...

... The study also revealed that the linking of expectations in different areas can contribute to the emergence of hypes. "The greater the hopes associated with the technological development, however, the deeper the disappointment may be if the expectations are not fulfilled quickly", adds Budde

Primer on arctic drilling ...

Working under extreme conditions

The northward shift of Norway’s oil industry means it must adjust to temperatures down to -30°C, storms, sleet and snow, and drift ice. And to the blackest night.

“Try to imagine changing a tyre in freezing weather, snow and darkness,” says professor Tore Markeset, a specialist in cold climate technology at the University of Stavanger (UiS).

... “Weather conditions in these waters differ from the North Sea in terms of low temperatures, icing, fog, heavy snowfalls and sudden changes.”

The North Sea weather is easier to forecast, he notes. “When a low pressure area over Iceland moves east, we know it’ll bring bad weather and can plan operations accordingly.”

“In the Barents Sea, however, deep troughs of low pressure develop at the interface between ice and open water. These can’t be predicted, and may create sudden storms and hurricanes.”

What I find a bit ironic is how people say that the energy issue is over because we CAN drill in the Arctic, rather than that it is worse because we MUST drill in the Arctic.

Nicely phrased! That's a keeper :-)

UN envoy: Japan should do more for nuclear victims

A United Nations rights investigator said Monday that Japan hasn't done enough to protect the health of residents and workers affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident.

UN expert urges Japan to heed people’s voices in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster

Mr. Grover warned about troubling concerns that affected residents “have had no say in decisions that affect them” at the end of his first mission to Japan - from 15 to 26 November – to assess the links between the right to health of the affected people and the actions taken in the aftermath of the worst man-made nuclear accident in the country.

from the Report ...

... It is regrettable to note that the local residents were not aware of disaster management plans in the event of a potential nuclear accident. In fact, local residents of Futaba city in Fukushima were led to believe by the Safety Agreement signed in 1991 that the TEPCO plant was safe and there would be no occasion for a nuclear accident.

... In the immediate aftermath of nuclear accidents, it is the established procedure to distribute stable iodine to the population in an attempt to block the uptake of radioactive iodine in those exposed to it, thereby reducing the risk of thyroid cancer. I regret to note that the Government neither gave instructions nor distributed stable iodine to the affected population.

... it is regrettable that radiation dosage information through SPEEDI and the movement of the radioactive plume was not immediately communicated to the public. Moreover, evacuation zones were imposed on the basis of geographical distance from the site of the disaster and the footprint of the radioactive plume, rather than the actual radiation dosage. Initial evacuation zones therefore neglected hot spots.

... It is unfortunate that inconsistency between the current limits imposed by policy on the one hand [20mSv], and the limits prescribed by the industrial safety regulation in Japan, radiation limits used in Chernobyl [5 mSv] and the findings in the epidemiological studies, on the other hand, has created confusion among a significant number of the local population, who increasingly doubt Government data and policy. This is further compounded by the fact that radiation monitoring stations do not reflect the varied dosage levels in areas in close proximity. As a result, local residents are carrying out their own monitoring of radiation dosage in their neighbourhoods. During the visit, I was shown ample data indicating the variance.

I am concerned about reports received from residents whose children underwent thyroid examination and whose results detected the presence of cyst and/or nodules below the threshold size under the protocol. Accordingly, those parents were neither allowed to obtain a second examination, nor given medical papers on demand, in effect denying them the right to access their own medical documentation.

Unfortunately, they are required to undergo a cumbersome freedom of information act procedure to obtain these documents.

... During my visit, a number of people shared with me their apprehension that TEPCO is not being held accountable for its responsibility for the nuclear accident. The Government’s majority shareholding in TEPCO has meant that taxpayers may foot the bill, ultimately. The right to health framework provides for accountability of those actors who are liable for committing actionable wrongs. The Government should therefore ensure that TEPCO is also held accountable and that taxpayers are not foisted with the eventual liability.

The report seems a bit negative:


"regret to note.."





"accountable..." [or lack thereof]

"foisted with the eventual liability."

That's why you won't hear about it on the news tonight.

... Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

Japan's Ruling Party to Phase Out Nuclear Power

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has promised to rid Japan of nuclear energy in coming decades as he set out his party's platform before next month's general election.

"After the nuclear accident (in Fukushima), we believe the Japanese people wish for and are resolved to have a society that does not rely on nuclear power plants," Noda told reporters.

"We will put all available policy resources into building a path toward that goal," he said.

World's rivers running on empty, paper finds

Four of the world's great rivers, including the Murray Darling, are all suffering from drastically reduced flows as a direct result of water extraction, according to new ANU research.

The Australian National University – examined the threats from water extractions and climate change on four of the world's iconic river systems; the US Colorado River, the South African Orange River, the Chinese Yellow River and the Murray.

The researchers found that in all four basins, over a long period of time, outflows have greatly reduced as a direct result of increased water extractions, and that urgent changes in governance of water are needed to ensure the systems remain healthy and viable.

Is it sad that I thought this was blindingly obvious long ago, and can only sigh to see that some people at ANU are stating the obvious? Haven't people been saying this about the Colorado for decades? The Monkey Wrench Gang was published in 1975. As for the Murray, I distinctly remember a National Geographic article from several years back about how farmers were draining it dry.

These rivers are already horribly degraded and overexploited. It's a bit late. The horse has left the barn. Elvis has left the building.

What is the point of saying the same thing over and over again but not changing the situation?

I read that NG piece too. In it they interviewed a state psychologist whos job it was to meet farmers and talk to them, and report in wich of them were at risc of suicide.

You can talk to folks as much as you want, but when someone else starts waving Green $$$ in front of their face, they stop listening to you...

E. Swanson

Meanwhile, the new inlet from Lake Mead to the Las Vegas Water Authority should go online in 2014. Kind of like "we need to fish harder before all the fish are gone".

Work on the third intake began in June 2008. The project is designed to keep water flowing to Las Vegas even if Lake Mead shrinks enough to force the two existing straws to shut down.

The Las Vegas Valley depends on the Colorado River's largest reservoir for about 90 percent of its drinking water supply. Henderson and Boulder City draw all of their water from the lake.


Lake Mead agreement: A promising precedent on water rights:

In the future as much as 15 feet of Lake Mead may actually belong to Mexico.

Since December 2010 they have dug 1320 feet. June 2012 to November 2012 they made 320 feet. Still have 12,680 feet to go. And they expect to be done summer 2014?

“Texas highway pileup: time to slow the super truckers down? Texas and Utah are the only states that allow truckers to travel at 80 miles an hour”. Not true for the vast majority of the roads. Not far off but not true. Except for that new 40 mile strip with the 85 mph limit the max limit for all vehicles typically is 75 mph with intervals in developed areas reduced to 60 - 65 mph. And in many areas truckers are reduced by 10 mph under posted limits and can be restricted to the right lane only.

More to the point about the big accident. On the way to a well in La. I drove thru that spot about 2 hours before the accident. Bad fog for sure. In 37 years I’ve driven many times thru foggy nights along the coast. And that morning was no different: the truckers were being safe for the most part (I’ll typically let one be my point man as I follow at a safe distance) and the 4-wheelers were the typical buttheads I’ve dealt with for decades. At one point a half dozen of them jammed up on top of each other and I had to back off from them. Despite the misleading (intentionally so IMHO) headline the truckers were typiclly doing 40 to 50 mph and the 4-wheelers doing 60+ mph.

The odd thing was the accident happened after the sun had come up a good bit. But that may also be why so many vehicles were involved. When possible I try to avoid driving east on I-10 during sunrise: blinding light right in your eyes. I suspect the combination of fog with that bright sun light (it was a cloudless morning) in the eyes may have been the deadly combination.

Big accident. It was reported in swedish meadia.

"Mead"ia...the news outlet of the Gods! :)


Small keys on that keyboard.

Personally, I refuse to drive in a manner where my sight distance is smaller than my stopping distance. Also, I refuse to be tailgated, if the driver behind me does not adjust his/her distance to my speed then I adjust my speed to their distance (i.e., I slow down, sometimes to a complete stop). Luckily, I live in Vermont so I don't need to attempt these approaches on a crowded Texas highway... But even here, if the weather is really bad (snow) I use a smaller road and stay off the interstate, since there are too many bozos there who think that 70 mph (limit is 65) is their god given right no matter what the conditions are. These people usually drive an SUV or 4x4 pickup. I sometimes see them in the ditch a few miles after they pass me.

But most drivers seem to have complete faith in the system: if it's a super highway and everybody's going 70 mph then it must be safe. I think the same faith in the system keeps people from adapting to peak oil.

I think that most of us who actually grew up in northern New England probably had a close call at a fairly young age - maybe hitting some black ice, or narrowly missing a moose in the fog, or suddenly finding the road completely covered with snow, with no hints as to where such things as "the edge of the road" or "lanes" might be - that sort of thing. If you live through it, you tend to drive as VTP has outlined. I sure do, and have these past 40 years...

When I see people whizzing by me in whiteout conditions with ice on the road and cars spun out into the ditch here and there, I have to wonder if they have no imagination as to what might happen, or if they are simply stupid.

I will not mention which state the license plates proclaim the vast majority of these yahoos hail from...

Yeah, I remember driving a bit too aggressively on the Mass turnpike as a youth when it was covered in snow "from Stockbridge to Boston" as the James Taylor song goes. I grew up in Minnesota and felt I could drive better in the snow than most of these amateurs (which was true). Then some SUV blew past me and I was tempted to go even faster. Two miles later I saw that SUV in the ditch. I learned the vicarious lesson and slowed down.

No doubt there is more snow in Minnesota, but I imagine you didn't have a lot of experience in Boston type rush hour traffic in heavy snow, which many of those Massachusetts drivers did have, I have never driven in Minneapolis however, maybe the traffic is just as bad there. Country roads in snow are a relative picnic, which is how I imagine Minnesota (probably incorrectly).


With snow a great deal depends upon driver history/experience. In Wisconsin, 50-60mph on snow packed roads was normal, and there didn't seem to be more accidents than in "good" weather. But in places where most drivers don't have extensive experience 25 may be crazily fast on the same conditions. I'm sure my first year in New Mexico still driving with Wisconsin plates people must have thought I was nuts zooming past them in a snowstorm, but I was actually going a lot slower than I would have in similar conditions up north.

You really get forced into driving a speed closer to what the average vehicle is doing. Go much slower, and the chance of an accident or pileup grows a lot. What I really hate about fog, is if the safe speed is 30, and you go thirty, but some fool comes up doing 85 you are toast too. Around here the thing people try to do in fog is stay withing sight of the cars taillights ahead, let him be your eyes. Of course somewhere someone better be watching the road.

That's when I choose to use a secondary road instead.

I wish I had that choice. The other thing bad with having to depend on a single road, is when its closed by an accident, you just have to give up and wait for a re-opening.

UK police/advanced motorists rule, 'you must be able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear'.


In Sweden, it is illegal to not drive in the manner you describe. You are always supposed to be able to stop your vehicle on the part of the road that you can see. No matter whether its a hill, fog or snow.

I would have thought the law was the same for most western nations?

I would have thought the law was the same for most western nations?

Common Sense?! Sure! You can find it at the end of aisle six, top shelf, in the little yellow and blue bottles... Oh, sorry, we seem to be all out today... I hear the delivery truck was in a pile up due to heavy fog on the highway.

Fer crimminies sake! Does anyone really need a law to slow down when they can't see?

Most traffic laws here are only used to assign relative blame for the accident.

Well that, and to line the pockets of the local police department with speed traps.

Yep - laws they only enforce on sunny, low-traffic days, when everyone is speeding along safely. Not when it would actually enhance safety.

Used to drive out of London on the M1, started clear. Fog would build up. I'd slow down to the point I was s[redacted]ing bricks about those steaming up behind. I'd exit at the first possible junction then use back country roads. Those miles out of London till the first exit would have me sweating.

Had a road safety lecture from a police driving trainer, one of those that train the class 1 police drivers. He attended the first motorway pile up on the M1. Arrived at the motorway, in fog, with his oppo walking alongside to see the curb. When they got to the motorway underpass he said it was like the sky was raining cars. Climbed up to the motorway and the first thing he saw was a car coming down the top of the armco 'like a rocket sled on rails' sparks flying.


Not looking forward to fog season, which I recon will start just as soon as the coming multiday rain event is over. Here is a snippet from the meteorologists "THE GFS MODEL CONTINUES TO INDICATE 20 PLUS INCHES OF RAINFALL OVER FAVORED SOUTHWEST AREAS OF THE SIERRA NEVADA NORTH OF I-80."

Over here, where there are no trees, fog really sucks. Trees tend to condense out fog as dew, so if you have trees the fog usually things before ground level.

We had some fog here this year NOBODY remembers there being any before!


Scientists analyze millions of news articles

Researchers in the UK have used artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze 2.5 million articles from 498 different English-language online news outlets over ten months.

The researchers found that:

• As expected, readability measures show that online tabloid newspapers are more readable than broadsheets and use more sentimental language. Among 15 US and UK newspapers, the Sun is the easiest to read, comparable to the BBC's children's news programme, Newsround, while the Guardian is the most difficult to read. 'Sport' and 'Arts' were the most readable topics while 'Politics' and 'Environment' were the least readable.

The fact that articles about politics are the least readable might also explain widespread public disengagement."

Readability Graph by Subject


I take readable to mean, at least in part, simplified (dumbed down). Many times I've sent articles to folks who later tell me they "really didn't understand it". I attribute this in part to lack of context, but I'm sure there's a bit of intellectual laziness involved, as well an 'IQ barrier'. In the real world, there's also the TMI (too much information) overload.

Best hopes for decomplexifying circumstances going forward.

Best hopes for decomplexifying circumstances going forward.

LOL! Ghung, I think the problem might be that your own expectations with regards your reader's IQs are somewhat skewed towards the high end, whereas their actual IQs are more likely to be just average...

FYI, I ran that sentence through an on line readability index calculator and this was the result.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 14.
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score: 6.

The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score indicates how easy a text is to read. A high score implies an easy text. In comparison comics typically score around 90 while legalese can get a score below 10.

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade level indicates the grade a person will have to have reached to be able to understand the text. E.g. a grade level of 7 means that a seventh grader will be able to understand the text.

Orlov seems to be on the same page this morning:

A compilation of the top 40 books teens in grades 9-12 are reading in school shows that the average reading level of that list is 5.3—barely above the fifth grade. I couldn't find a handy definition of fifth-grade reading level, but a desultory scan of the paltry offerings did not turn up anything War and Peace-like. “A fifth-grade reading level is obviously not high enough for college-level reading. Nor is it high enough for high school-level reading, either, or for informed citizenship,” writes Sandra Stotsky, professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas. The unenviable conclusion is that American high schools produce functional illiterates.

But, you know, so what? If they can't read, then maybe they can just play video games instead. After all, if they do learn to read, they may end up in college, and then end up mired in debt, still with no good job prospects.

A guy fresh out of high school was hired here recently and I was tasked with running him through this 10 section course we have before issuing log on credentials. He opened the first page, scrolled down and back up without reading a word, looked straight at me and asked "Do I really have to read this?" I contemplated the enormous red flag this raised for a moment and replied "Yes." To which he said (before even starting) "I haven't read this much since ::ha ha:: well, the 9th grade." He said it almost like it was something to be proud of. In my mind a face-palm occurred. He seemed to skip the last couple of sections. He did not last long.

"... But it gets worse. It turns out that functional illiterates constitute 70% of the prisoners in state and federal prisons"

I think that's where this guy was headed. He said he was going to join the military, but it's a race against time.

"... But it gets worse. It turns out that functional illiterates constitute 70% of the prisoners in state and federal prisons"

Add to that the fact that most of our so called leaders in business and government are scientifically and mathematically illiterate as well, so I'd say we're pretty much f@cked!

It is worrying that some readers struggle with reading 'The Sun'.



I remember the report that listed the average reading age required for newspapers

it was age 7 for the SUN .......


RE: Stand Still For the Apocalypse

...according to a report commissioned by the World Bank ... by the end of the century ... an apocalypse.

So the doomers have some supporters ... the World Bank ... who'd a thunk it?

The word "apocalypse" does not actually appear in the report. However, the following statement does:

Climate change will not occur in a vacuum.

Ya think?

Climate will not occur in vacuum. What a vacuous statement! ;-)

Apocalypse means a revealing.

[Middle English Apocalipse, from Late Latin Apocalypsis, from Greek apokalupsis, revelation, Apocalypse, from apokaluptein, to uncover : apo-, apo- + kaluptein, to cover; see kel-1 in Indo-European roots.]

If you are looking for a word, you may lose the meaning.

Apocalypse is definitely in that report.


A way to paraphrase apocalypse is "to be informed".

We will be very informed soon.


When times get economically tough, we have to work harder (ie. use more energy). When resources become more difficult to acquire, we have to work harder to get them (ie. use more energy). In our attempts to mitigate the effects of climate change, we have to work harder (ie. use more energy).

I've come to the conclusion we're totally redacted with no time off for good behaviour. In a few years the World Bank's report will probably look overly optimistic.

Yeah, we may find ourselves in a dangerous feedback loop. Climate change is an issue. But we can't deal with that right now because our economy is struggling . . . largely because of high energy prices. So we have to burn up even more low quality fossil fuels to get the same energy output that we used to get from the higher-quality fossil fuels.

Thus, as we struggle to get the economy "back to where it was" (which isn't really possible), we end up burning up a greater amount of fossil fuel thus making the situation that we are ignoring that much worse.

And I really wish I had a good solution, but I just don't. I'm trying to do my part by using less power, telecommuting, driving an EV, and designing my upcoming PV system . . . but I'm peeing into the wind as the saying goes. My contribution is little and I don't know a good way of getting other people to use less.

Hey Spec

re: "My contribution is little and I don't know a good way of getting other people to use less."

One has to acknowledge their sphere of influence and what is possible. I think that others who know you will observe your actions and listen to your words and perhaps think/wonder. I know my own family think I am somewhat odd and doomerish, that is until they eat the salmon or home grown chickens, with the wine, etc etc. They marvel at the pre-heated water and the woodstoves, etc.

Lifestyle by example portrayed by non-celebrities is a very powerful force. Nothing turns people off more than a movie star or rock performer trying to save the world. But a regualr person leading with small personal steps is a very powerful spokesman for a new paradigm.


lol...everyone thinks I'm odd and doomerish. And I pine for a good chinook.

I try not to give sermons, but very few people want to engage about anything that questions BAU.

Here's a intro to a small step where I work:
The result of a partnership between Citrus College, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) and the California Energy Commission, this new template was designed to create a roadmap that will allow the state’s 112 community colleges to move toward sustainability while addressing California Global Warming Solutions Act mandates.

The California Community Colleges Sustainability Template was created at Citrus College in 2011 and was successfully demonstrated and refined throughout the spring 2012 semester. It was recently made available to the entire California Community College System and can be accessed online at www.cccco.edu.

Because of its involvement in the production of this new sustainability template, Citrus College recently received a 2012 Leadership Award at the Green Community Colleges Summit. The college was also presented with the inaugural California Community Colleges Board of Governors Energy & Sustainability District Leadership Award in May 2012 for its work on the template.

Actual document is here:

I wasn't invited to be a part of it (I've been sort of distracted of late, plus widely known as a cynic, so no surprise ), so not mine...just sharing. I present this as an FYI seen by some as a model for one of the largest educational systems on the planet. Kudos to anyone getting sustainability into the discussion, but I have to chuckle about being laughed out of meetings ~5 years ago for suggesting we should think about more classes on gardening, we should look at alternative energy options, that we should push hard to connect up with our mass transit people, etc. I also roll my eyes that while this document embraces the reality of climate change, our earth science faculty gets custom printed textbooks that delete all chapters addressing climate change. Gotta start somewhere!

That's a very cool accomplishment! We're lucky here in Washington State to formally have an Environment and Sustainability program, including K-12 Standards(PDF warning).

These standards describe what all students should know and be able to do in the area of Environmental and Sustainability Education. Consistent with the intent of the law governing environmental education in Washington state (WAC 392-410-115), these standards are intended to be integrated into core content areas and across all grade levels. They also align with the state's Indian Education curriculum.

One of the highlights this year for the sail transport cooperative was when we took the ferry over to Bainbridge Island and presented to the K-12 teachers during their annual Sustainability Education Summer Institute. This occurs at the beautiful IslandWood, a 255-acre outdoor learning center.

Scientists test novel power system for space travel (w/ video)

A team of researchers, including engineers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, has demonstrated a new concept for a reliable nuclear reactor that could be used on space flights.

The research team recently demonstrated the first use of a heat pipe to cool a small nuclear reactor and power a Stirling engine at the Nevada National Security Site's Device Assembly Facility near Las Vegas. The Demonstration Using Flattop Fissions (DUFF) experiment produced 24 watts of electricity.

Heat pipe technology was invented at Los Alamos in 1963. A heat pipe is a sealed tube with an internal fluid that can efficiently transfer heat produced by a reactor with no moving parts. A Stirling engine is a relatively simple closed-loop engine that converts heat energy into electrical power using a pressurized gas to move a piston. Using the two devices in tandem allowed for creation of a simple, reliable electric power supply that can be adapted for space applications.

And oh by the way, a stirling engine like that, heated by a heat pipe like that, and a fusion reactor like that one out there, produced 9kW of nice clean 60 Hz AC power in the late 1990's (Cummins solar program), So what's new?

PS, same thing but with wood stove instead of fusion- nice and cheery on a winter evening--but forget the heat pipe, has nasty habit of setting things on fire when it pops open. I got my tie burnt off by one a long time ago, never wore a tie again.

Heh heh, ever seen a tie going into a line printer while someone is wearing it? Catching fire seems tame.


Or into a lathe like I did?

But, aside from all this japery, NASA has shown that small stirlings are real and could be packaged into any combustion thing like a water heater or wood stove, and produce meaningful power. I have a crude one in my shop for proof. Anybody could afford a properly designed commercial version if they can afford a lawn mower.

So, what's the delay?? Baffling.

What could possibly go wrong ...

Bioengineered marine algae expands environments where biofuels can be produced

Biologists at UC San Diego have demonstrated for the first time that marine algae can be just as capable as fresh water algae in producing biofuels.

Higher Gas-Tax Idea Joins Fiscal-Cliff Talks

States and business advocates are maneuvering to use the current budget negotiations in Washington to win support for a long-sought increase in the federal gasoline tax—one of a grab bag of proposals various groups are seeking to tuck into a deal.

State highway officials and industries that stand to benefit from increased highway spending — including road builders and heavy-equipment makers — are among those pressing lawmakers to raise the 18.4-cent-a-gallon federal gasoline tax as part of an agreement.

U.S. Drought Seen Hindering Energy Independence on Ethanol Stall

The worst U.S. drought in five decades is cutting profits from producing corn-based ethanol for blending in gasoline, hindering the country’s efforts to reach energy independence, according to Poten & Partners Inc.

Stalling domestic ethanol output led to increased imports, reversing the nation’s role as a net exporter of the biofuel, the New York-based shipbroker said in an e-mailed report Nov. 23. That’s boosting demand for tankers as Brazil supplies cargoes to the U.S. East Coast, according to the report.

Lake Lanier at lowest level since historic drought

Lake Lanier is now at its lowest level since March 2009 after dropping two feet in two weeks, authorities said.
The lake is now at 1,058 feet above sea level, or 13 feet below full pool, officials said. The last time Lake Lanier hit such a low mark was during the 2007-09 drought, when the lake was at 1,050.79 feet, The Times of Gainesville reported

The basin includes portions of Georgia, Florida and Alabama

Both nuclear and ff power plants will be affected.

As I understand it the higher US tax credits for cellulosic ethanol led to a thriving business of exchange of ethanol with Brazil. I have an image of tankers unloading Brazilian ethanol and reloading with US ethanol for the trip back.

A waste of energy of course. Best hopes for a rational economy in the future.

More importantly, drinking water supplies for Atlanta & surrounding area will be impacted if Lake Lanier drops too low.

After the 2007-9 drought, they seem to have done nothing (AFAIK) to build a second water reservoir for drinking water.

IMHO, given Climate Chaos, it is just a matter of time for Atlanta et al if they do not build a second (and preferably third) water reservoir.

Best Hopes for the Prepared,


Brent Poised to Oust WTI as Most-Traded Oil Futures

I often wonder why TOD publishes charts of two WTI-based indices but no Brent-based indices. Given the international readership, and the interest in the WTI-Brent spread, I would have thought one of each would be more informative to readers.

No available Brent chart - so it would probably be best to ask why yahoo doesn't provide one.

Last I heard, Super G hasn't found a Brent dashboard/ticker that works well with Drupal (at least TOD's version of it). Easy to find somewhere else.

Natural gas drillers target U.S. truck, bus market

... Waste Management, the largest U.S. trash hauler, has committed to replacing 80 percent of its fleet with trucks powered by natural gas. Rich Mogan, the company's district manager in southwestern Pennsylvania, said about half of his fleet of 100 trucks now run on the cheaper fuel. They are quieter and less expensive to maintain, he said, and "we are looking at a 50 percent reduction in our (fuel) cost."

Partly because of a lack of fueling infrastructure, natural gas isn't expected to grab significant market share from petroleum anytime soon. Only a tenth of 1 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States last year was used as vehicle fuel, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Of more than 250 million vehicles on the road today, perhaps 125,000 are powered by natural gas.

"It's simply a matter of time before the U.S. meaningfully shifts from transportation systems built around consuming high-priced oil to consuming low-priced domestic natural gas," Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon wrote to investors this year.

Garbage trucks are kind of a natural market for CNG as fuel because they run around the city all day picking up garbage, and then at the end of the day they go back to the yards to refuel for the next day. All the yards need is a natural gas compressor, and they are fully equipped to refuel the trucks with natural gas. The company can probably swing a deal with the gas company for a bulk discount as well, putting prices well under the cost of diesel fuel.

Diesel engines will run on 90% natural gas with a few modifications, and 100% NG with a few more mods (like spark plugs).

I worked for an oil company that ran most of its vehicles on natural gas, and it worked perfectly well. The equipement is rather expensive, but we already had most of the equipment so it wasn't that difficult. The natural gas we almost got for free, depending on whether it came from our own wells or not.

And in fact a LOT of garbage trucks do run on CNG nowadays. It started long before the shale gas revolution, it started because the waste companies realized their had their own lucrative 'free' supply of natural gas from their very own landfills.

Port Authority gets US$20 million loan

Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator Sandrea Falconer, said the loan had become necessary as the Authority has been adversely affected by the slow pace of recovery in advanced economies, such as the US and the financial challenges in the Eurozone.

Senator Falconer added that this impacted the expected rebounded in the shipment of containers through Jamaica.

And then there's this:

Caribbean ports rushing to meet challenges of Panama Canal expansion

Ports in the Caribbean are reportedly rushing to meet potential challenges posed by the expansion of the Panama Canal.

The Bahamas said it is among ports in Jamaica and Cuba, which are either expanding, or have plans to expand.

Some Caribbean port managers say they hope to receive post-Panamax ships and become a transshipment hub that will supply smaller ports with feeder vessels.

Others say they are simply bracing for increased feeder traffic, according to reports. Panamax is the term for the size limit of ships going through the Panama Canal.....(snip)

Anthony Hylton, Jamaicas minister of industry, investment and commerce, recently returned from a two-week trip to China and Singapore where he promoted the islands plan to become a global transshipment and logistics hub.

Hylton said the $8 billion to $10 billion project includes dredging Kingston Harbour, expanding port facilities and building a dry dock. It also hinges on linking ports and airports through road and rail networks, he said.

We have some assets in place. This is not starting from scratch, said Hylton, who has been trying to woo international investors and expects dredging to begin shortly. We will be ready for the post-Panamax, he added.

Cognitive dissonance does not appear to describe what is going on here as there is no apparent "feeling of discomfort" from having to deal with these two situations. Best hopes that the "two-week trip to China and Singapore" "to woo international investors" comes up blank. Something needs to happen to stop this insane investment in the last century's oil based transportation infrastructure!

Alan from the islands

We have some assets in place. This is not starting from scratch, said Hylton, who has been trying to woo international investors and expects dredging to begin shortly. We will be ready for the post-Panamax, he added.

Hylton et al must be short sighted fools!

I'm sure if they start the dredging you can be pretty sure it will negatively impact your already stressed coral reefs.
I guess living healthy coral reefs must not be considered much of an asset by Jamaicans... kinda sad!


Jamaica’s coral reefs continue to suffer from combined human-induced and natural stresses. With the growth of human populations, nutrient pollution has increased. This is particularly evident in the vicinity of Kingston, where the pollution plume from Kingston Harbour has contributed to increased coral mortality west of the harbour. Soil erosion has been a serious problem in Jamaica for 50 years. Near the mouths of rivers, sedimentation is damaging reefs. In shallow water, where sea urchin numbers have increased, opportunistic corals have recruited and coral cover is increasing slightly. Healthy coral populations can be found around Port Royal Cays, where coral cover up to 20% can be found. Mass bleaching took place in Jamaica during 1987, 1989 and 1990, with considerable mortality, and wide-spread bleaching was also recorded in 1998 (Woodley et al. 1998).

Some recovery of coral cover has taken place in a few locations. Mendes et al. (1999) report an increase in live coral cover from approximately 12% in 1989 to over 29% in 1999 at depths between one and eight meters on the fringing reef at Lime Cay, just south of the capital city of Kingston. This is presumed to be due to an increase in the abundance of Diadema in the shallow reef areas. Lime Cay became a part of a protected area in 1998, and is up-current of the polluted outflow from Kingston Harbour. Reef restoration efforts are also underway in Montego Bay, which is both severely impacted and one of the leading tourist destinations in Jamaica. The long term restoration efforts include establishing strategic partnerships, integrated coastal zone management decision support modeling, watershed management, sewage treatment interventions, an alternative income programme, zoning and fisheries management, monitoring, education, volunteer and enforcement programmes (Jameson, et al. 1999)

Hylton et al must be short sighted fools!

I wouldn't call him that any more or less than I would 99.9% of politicians all over the world who are making investments in legacy infrastructure (think highways and airports for example) and hoping for or expecting a return to growth.

We here on TOD are a special breed, even the cornocopians among us. We are aware of an impending crisis and most of us don't believe the hype that is being spread to encourage people to blissfully continue BAU. Sometimes I feel like there are powerful interests hard at work, spending significant amounts of money to keep the hype machine going and suppress what most of us here perceive to be the truth. It is the same with climate change vs the FF industries and nutrition based health vs the pharmaceutical industry. Why do I (we?) not believe a lot of the stuff we see in the media? Maybe we're seriously misguided and everything's going to just work out fine but, I doubt it.

As far as the dredging goes, ever since the container transshipment terminal was established in Kingston harbour, it has been a regular occurrence every few years to keep the shipping channels open and make the port accessible to bigger container carriers. Plus, apart from fish, who needs coral reefs anyways? /sarc

Alan from the islands

I wouldn't call him that any more or less than I would 99.9% of politicians all over the world who are making investments in legacy infrastructure (think highways and airports for example) and hoping for or expecting a return to growth.

By no means did I mean to imply that he was any different from the other 99.9% of short sighted fools politicians the world over.

There's certainly much much worse out there...

Remember Alaska's infamous bridge to nowhere? Well, another town in "Seward's Icebox" has upped the ante after building an unused $75.5 million airport and a $29 million harbor with no roads connecting to the town.

The Aleutians community of Akutan is home to just over 1,000 seasonal workers and 75 full-time residents, though only about five boats, as KUCB reports.

"I personally own half a vessel," Akutan mayor Joseph Bereskin told the publication. Though, for the record, Bereskin says he supported construction of the harbor and hopes it will grow in popularity once a connecting road is eventually built.

That would be funny if it were in the Onion!

You can throw out those low-ball scenarios that suggest that we can reach 450 ppm CO2 without pain ...

Energy System May Be Heading For Higher Emission Scenarios

Schweizer and Kriegler examined six socioeconomic drivers of emissions – population, economy, energy, technology, economic policy and environmental policy. Using the cross-impact balance method, they recorded semi-quantitative judgements on the consistency of interactions of these drivers, based on today's knowledge, in a matrix. For example, a scenario describing high levels of wealth, low educational attainment and low fertility rates would seem questionable.

"In our analysis, we did find some [2] low emission scenarios with strong internal consistency, but there were many more [21] with higher emissions," said Schweizer. "This suggests that in the absence of policy intervention, there may be more ways to retain a high-emission energy system than to achieve a low-emission energy system."

"... we found a subset of scenarios that repeatedly retained their internal consistency, and they happened to describe futures of high energy-related emissions, where global economic growth is high or very high and the energy system is predominantly powered by coal," said Schweizer.

As Schweizer relates in a video abstract in ERL, the team believes this may actually lead to an understatement of the global mitigation challenge.

"the team believes this may actually lead to an understatement of the global mitigation challenge"

Really? I'm shocked!

Like Kevin Anderson said, our future is impossible. Impossible to curb emissions, yet also impossible to live in a world with a global temperature 4 to 6 degree Celsius higher. Especially when bringing the global economy back online is going to need more energy, acquiring resources is going to need more energy and mitigating climate change is going to need more energy.

Coal has mainly filled the energy gap for the last decade. Is it possible the same may also happen in the future? Nah! That would be suicide. Wouldn't it?

Permafrost and climate-change positive-feedback unknowns
New Warning from UN on Permafrost Methane Release Potential
New report emphasizes the risks from unknowns - the magnitude of positive feedback factors:

The greatest single uncertainty about climate change is how much the warming of the planet will feed on itself.

As the temperature increases because of human emissions, feedbacks could cause new pools of carbon to be released into the atmosphere, magnifying the trend. Other types of feedbacks could potentially slow the warming. Over all, climate scientists have only best guesses about how these conflicting tendencies will balance out, though most of them think the net result is likely to be a substantial rise in the planet’s average temperature.

One of the most worrisome potential feedbacks involves the permafrost that underlies a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere. Buried in that frozen ground is a lot of ancient organic material, containing twice as much carbon as now exists in the atmosphere. The permafrost is starting to warm and the carbon to escape.

A new report, released Tuesday morning by the United Nations Environment Program, warns that scientists do not have a sufficient handle on the situation. It calls for new monitoring efforts and for a formal assessment of the permafrost feedback by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.N. body that periodically reviews and summarizes climate science.

Hey... hey...hey... ya know what would be really funny? If an ocean basin saturated with methane from thawing cold hydrates at the bottom did a giant lake-turnover... like say during a climate-chaos freaky-cold weather event in the air over the surface or as a result of shifting cold currents confused by melt water...


Is there an ocean scenario for CO2?


A lot of disparate sorts of systems wind up having "avalanche" modes, and I'm afraid we'll get to see the hydrate version. Best hopes for me being wrong... has to happen someday.

Below are two recent realclimate posts that present the current wisdom on the matter as far as i can tell it, and their common take as a service for the busy reader:



Worry about CO2!

They also do have one on the avalanche mode:



The methane bubbles caught in a freezing lake surface is an interesting image:

Romm at ThinkProgress keeps saying we can tame emissions and grow the economy at the same time. He's nuts. You can't replace inexpensive, reliable fuel with expensive, less reliable fuel - at the scale necessary to reduce emissions enough - without doing massive damage to the economy. Necessary it is, but growth-oriented it cannot be.

The main thing that needs to be done is finding ways to use less so that the impact of expensive fuel, regardless of source, will be less. If one uses less and consumes less of everything, one needs less of everything. Maybe that results in no formal economic growth or even a shrinkage of gross product produced. But if I can do thinkgs like walking to fulfill most of my daily needs, then I need less money to do my daily needs. I realize the debate goes on forever about growth or even what growth is but we simply cannot go on as we are and have a viable future which is not seriously grim and, in many case, life threatening.

People are promised growth because they find any alternative without growth unacceptable. But how much of this so called growth has trickled down to the masses anyway. Not much, if any, and, in fact, net worth for the masses has shrunken over the years while the very rich have become much richer.

You can't replace inexpensive, reliable fuel with expensive, less reliable fuel - at the scale necessary to reduce emissions enough - without doing massive damage to the economy.

Oh I think it can definitely be done without damaging 'the economy'. But it probably will lower 'living standards' to some degree. Of course it depends on how you define things. I'd like to define 'the economy' as some measure of unemployment. Germany has gone to green energy extremes that are routinely mocked in the USA with their solar and wind initiatives. Yet they have the best economy of all Europe and lower unemployment than the USA. Moving to green energy does involve paying more for energy and trying to conserve it more because the energy costs rise. But people drive less, use public transport more, have smaller homes, and are more careful with their energy usage, etc.

The problem isn't destroying the economy, the problem is getting people to accept foregoing cheap fossil fuel energy that is available. This requires sacrifice, acceptance of legally enforced green energy policies, knowing that this is for the long-term public good, etc.

But the USA is the spoiled-child culture. When a 3% tax hike from 36% to 39% is suggested for income above $250K people scream "Communism!". It is amazing to realize that during the height of the cold war fight against communism we were apparently communists because we had 70% top tax rates.

So it is really not a matter of destroying the economy . . . it is matter of people refusing to give up their big SUVs, their McMansions, etc. It is much easier for people to deny climate change and turn on the air conditioner.

we were apparently communists because we had 70% top tax rates.

And that was after the Kennedy tax cuts. When I was a toddler the highest marginal rate was 90%. Economists claim that government revenue is maximized around 75%, i.e. there really is a Laffer curve, its just that tax rates are so low that we are completely on one side of the curve, so the supply-siders get it completely wrong.

I'm currently churning my way through the academic report of this work : http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/4/044011/article

It's interesting work, but not I would say without some issues. In particular it seems to be focusing on stable states, using that as a way of defining if the scenario is credible. The big problem here is if the system is changing it might mean that is an unstable scenario which would degrade towards another attractor, OR, it might mean that it's a dynamic stable scenario where the various factors oscillate as the feedback effects and delays take hold.

Given we exist in one such stable dynamically oscillating state (boom / bust economics) it seems unreasonable to consider others unlikely.

As such a scenario might be statically inconsistent, but dynamically consistent.

In addition it ignores regional variations in scenario and coupling between those regions yielding stable scenarios (cf heavy industry exported to china, whilst western industry appears to decarbonise).

Interesting, but limited - particularly if you try to predict the probability of particular scenarios occurring.

Fracking Pipeline Threatens Sandy’s Worst-Hit Victims

Just weeks after Hurricane Sandy walloped New York City in one of the most devastating episodes of destruction the city has ever seen, new safety concerns for those who were hardest-hit have come to light–namely, a pipeline for fracked gas that is proposed to go right underneath the battered areas, many of which are still without power.

The Williams’ Transco Rockaway Lateral Project will consist of a 3.17-mile, 26-inch pipeline, mostly offshore, planning to deliver natural gas to the Rockaways as early as 2014.

This article appears to be trying to set some kind of record for red herrings per linear inch, achieving new heights for misinformation by the envirobabblers.

Note that I am distinguishing the envirobabblers - the people who know nothing but are willing to talk about it at great length - from the environmental experts, who know a lot more and talk a lot less. I enjoy talking to environmental experts, but not so much envirobabblers.

Anyhow, this is a natural gas distribution pipeline and has nothing to do with fracturing, or fracking as they term it. The gas is coming from the Texas and Louisiana Gulf coast, and this is the "last mile", delivering it to Brooklyn.

They are proposing to lay an offshore lateral from the existing New York Bay Offshore pipeline, and then bore a horizontal well to get the pipeline onshore. This has the advantage that it will be much, much deeper than a conventional pipeline and will probably be bored through solid rock, with minimum risk of puncture or leakage. Putting pipelines under bays and rivers using horizontal drilling techniques has set new standards in minimum environmental impact on the surface.

No rocks will be fractured in this process, either deliberately or accidentally.

Despite what the article says, the pipeline company will know exactly what chemicals are in the pipeline - mostly methane, with a bit of ethane and possibly traces of propane and butane. They will be monitoring it continuously with on-line chromatographs to ensure it meets specs. This is a rather high-tech business, after all.

If there is any radon in people's houses - not a "fracking chemical", by the way - it probably originates in New York State, because, unbeknowst to most people, New York does have some large uranium deposits underground and they do outgas radon, which does end up in people's basements. Anybody in New York who is worried should probably have their houses tested for radon, regardless of whether they use natural gas or not.

Here in VT people are generally against fracking, not that we have any proposed to be done around here. But we get some NG from Quebec (I wonder where does it originate?) and there are ongoing efforts to expand the distribution network beyond the NW corner of the state. The current plan is to use horizontal drilling to create a "pipeline" under Lake Champlain so the NG can reach the paper mill at Ticonderoga. Sure beats what they were trying to do at that mill a few years back: burn shredded old tires as fuel. Major public opposition from both sides of the lake (i.e. NY and VT) stopped that.

We Colonials have always done our best to keep the Mother Country afloat, and this is no exception. The Governor of the Bank of Canada is stepping down to become the Governor of the Bank of England. We hope that he will be able to keep the wolf from the British door (not that Britain has any wolves left), but he is fully experienced in the wolf-repelling role and will no doubt do an exemplary job. Pip pip and all that.

Mark Carney named Bank of England Governor

Ottawa - The Bank of Canada announced that Her Majesty the Queen has approved the appointment of Mark Carney as Governor of the Bank of England effective 1 July 2013.  He will serve a five-year term.
Governor Carney will continue to serve in his current position until 1 June to ensure a smooth transition to the next Governor of the Bank of Canada.  The Governor will remain Chair of the Financial Stability Board.

Governor Carney said:

“I am honoured to accept this important and demanding role, and to succeed Sir Mervyn King with whom I have worked closely over these past five years and from whom I learned so much.

This is a critical time for the British, European and global economies; a decisive period for reform of the global financial system including its leading financial centre, the City of London; and a crucial point in the Bank of England’s history as it accepts vital new responsibilities.”

“It has been a privilege to serve as the eighth Governor of the Bank of Canada.  I am proud of the Bank’s contribution to the resilience of the Canadian economy throughout an unprecedented period of global turmoil.  The Bank is helping to lead the reform of the global financial system.  It is introducing the most sophisticated currency in the world.  And as the Government of Canada’s fiscal agent, it is providing funds management and banking services with the highest reliability and resiliency.”

Big fracking deal.


In Alaska it may not be that important, but here in the Commonwealth we think it has a great deal of significance. Don't tick us off or we may shut down the Alaska Highway and blockade the Inside Passage. ;-)

No we wouldn't, we make too much money from them. It's all about money, you know.

RMG, please don't send the fleet from Esquimalt to blockade the Inside Passage! I was being rather tongue in cheek. I actually think it is quite significant, and a sign of progress that the Brits would consider putting someone from this side of the pond in such a position.

They must be getting truely desparate over there. First an American running British Petroleum, now Canadian running the Bank of England? Hrumph!


Carney did his master and doctorate at Oxford. And he worked in London at Goldman Sachs. So his British connections are probably pretty close.

If Swedes can run the national football team, Canadians can run the national bank. A German might be a little dodgy for either job, but a Canadian with British wife and children isn't. Its the Goldman Sachs background that causes more issues than the Canadian one. The Chancellor was presenting him like he was a penitent sinner who had redeemed himself by public service overseas.

He has the upper class creds for the job, despite being born in Canada's Northwest Territories. And his wife was born in England and has dual citizenship, as does my wife. You would be amazed at how easily you slide through British Border Control when this is the case. Much better than dealing with American Homeland Insecurity.

I was speaking tongue in cheek, too - and maybe watching too many War of 1812 recreations. As far as blockading the Inside Passage - no point in calling out the fleet, we could just string a chain across one of the narrower parts. Or have the salmon fishermen go on strike and set up a picket line.

Yes, I think the Brits are getting desperate - Carney did a fine job of keeping the Canadian banks from getting into trouble, and I think they want him to do something similar with the British banks. This may involve a severe browbeating from the BoE.

Canada's Mark Carney = ex-Goldman-Sachs.

The Mafia captures another castle.


I think it is more accurate to say that he knows where all the bodies are buried, so it will be difficult for the commercial bankers to put anything over on him.

The commercial bankers are more the Mafia types these days.

Proposed gas pipeline may sidestep environmental review

Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun November 26, 2012

TransCanada's planned 650-kilometre natural gas pipeline to Kitimat would cross about 320 watercourses including the habitat of more than 100 species at risk, such as white sturgeon, woodland caribou and marbled murrelet, company documents show.

But under Conservative government changes to environmental laws, there's no guarantee the Coastal GasLink project will undergo a federal environmental assessment.

"It's a travesty of the public trust," said Otto Langer, retired head of habitat assessment and planning for the federal fisheries department in B.C. and Yukon. "If we can't have an environmental review on a project of this sort, this is proof we have gutted Canada's environmental protection."

--- snip ---

Langer said that, despite reduced federal environmental protection, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has the nerve to boast of "Canada's strong environmental laws, rigorous enforcement and fol-lowup, and increased fines" on its website.

Concluded Langer: "It makes me want to puke."

Why is it a good idea to build a pipeline to Kitimat to export LNG when...

  • NG production in Canada peaked in 2002 and has dropped by 22% since then.
  • Increasing tar sands production is dependent on NG
  • The proportion of homes using NG for heating is > 49% for Ontario, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta
  • The U.S. shale gas bubble will burst

There are huge amounts of stranded Canadian shale gas in Northeast British Columbia with no market for it except possibly Asia.

Repeat after me, " BC shale gas GOOD, Alberta oil sands BAD!" At least that's the basic attitude in BC.

How true !!

Except it is Alberta tar# sands BAD !!


Got to love BC.


# tar and asphalt are the common words for what you call bitumen. And since tar has a more negative connotation, we should use that instead of the PR word "oil sands". Canola for rape seed is an OK PR word, but not oil sands.

Alberta bitumen has too low an API (7 to 9 from memory) to be called oil. Got to get to 10 or 12 at least.

I tend to believe that if you can feed it into a heavy oil refinery and process it into gasoline and diesel fuel, that it's close enough to being oil for most practical purposes. You can do that with bitumen, but not with real tar.

They did start calling rape seed, "canola" because some sensitive people objected to the word "rape". Most farmers are not very sensitive and prone to calling a spade a "f***ing shovel", but in the marketing world, perception is everything.

You can feed just about any hydrocarbon into a purpose built refinery. I see the recent rise of the term "oil sands" as just a PR marketing ploy. I have no problem calling them bitumen sands if that is what you want to call them.

And housewives choosing cooking oil may reach for corn oil or soybean oil as an alternative to rape seed oil.


"They did start calling rape seed, "canola" because some sensitive people objected to the word "rape"."

There was also some breeding going on; so rapeseed oil is chemically different than canola oil.

"Originally, Canola was bred naturally from rapeseed at the University of Manitoba, Canada by Keith Downey and Baldur R. Stefansson in the early 1970s, but it has a very different nutritional profile in addition to much less erucic acid.The name "canola" was derived from "Canadian oil, low acid" in 1978."


Thank you for that. I didn't know that canola was short for "Canadian oil, low acid", or that it meant a variant low in erucic acid and glucosinolate. In other words , it is a much improved variety suitable for human consumption - genetic modification optional.

Lots of stranded gas on the N Slope of Alaska as well. Now that a gas pipeline from the N Slope to the Lower 48 seems unlikely for the forseable future, N Slope operators are again looking at the possibility of a gas pipeline to either Valdez or Cook Inlet, for export to Japan.

Not sure how it pencils out relative to the pipeline to the lower 48. Less pipeline to build, but then you need to build a plant and terminal at tidewater, and a tanker fleet. Not holding my breath about exporting Alaska gas, but you never know.


Not sure if there are any technical difficulties, but I would have thought build a small, say 24", oil pipe line parallel to the current one, and convert the current 48" oil line to gas.

That way you kill a few birds with one stone. Take care of the low flow rates from the North, build your gas line on the cheap, and minimize disturbance by running along the same easements. Not sure of the pressure ratings though of oil compared to a gas line. I am asumming they are both around 3000psi.

Just need a LNG plant and a few boats. Small bikkies in the scheme of things, and with a spur line or two, Southern Alaska get a reliable gas supply.

Here is a crazy idea! Why don't we just leave this gas in the ground until our grandchildren need it?

Musings: Canada, O Canada: What Direction for 2013 O&G Capex?

G. Allen Brooks, Rigzone

The conclusion we draw from this exercise is that we are more comfortable with the prospect of flat to lower Canadian petroleum industry capital spending in 2013. We don't know whether Canadian producers will announce large capital spending reductions when they outline their plans for next year, but we believe they will be very reluctant to step up spending beyond the winter drilling season. Spring break-up will provide producers an opportunity to reassess their outlook for oil and gas prices and economic demand. A sharply improved outlook some 5-6 months in the future could make the CAPP and PSAC forecasts come true, but at the moment we will take the "under" bet on those forecasts.

Sea level rise, alone, doesn't really strike me as a big deal. Cities would do well to all be submerged-- I mean, if human activity is going to dissolve coral.

In reading in the previous Drumbeat some words about one Elon Musk, my mind wandered over how the logic of a money system that is decoupled from terrestrial land and labor would want to get into space. Maybe desperately, such as what with the rich niches imploding. Earth can only have so many McMansions, house-flips/bubbles, land-grabs/enclosures, various excesses, affluent effluent, and highway Lambourghinis, etc., before their peaks set in too.

As for fresh-faced Elon, born a relatively recent 1971, I will wager he is doomed with the rest of us-- money and techno triumphalism/grandiosity notwithstanding-- to remain firmly planted on terra firma. Sorry, Elon.

The invisible hand of the market reality gripping your $500 shoe laces as you try to fly away. [insert editorial cartoon here]

In a very recent "podcast" interview with Dmitry Orlov, Dmitry seems to think the so-called rich may take this collapse/decline thing the hardest.

What do all men with power want? More power. ~ The Matrix

I have to avoid the shadenfreude of guessing that the Rich are going to hurt more and finally 'get theirs' if things really fall apart.. (I'll probably be too busy running away from lions myself to think about whether I'm outrunning either the finer Impala or the baser ones).. while I don't think that their money or assets will necessarily guarantee many of them safe passage, either. No doubt many great fortunes will be squandered on silly Mars missions and such, when they might have served to bolster the defenses usefully instead.

I would tend to guess there will be a maddeningly gaussian distribution of both unthinkable disasters and unscriptable miracles..

Dickens will have gotten some great ideas from it all.

I'm tempted to agree about the gaussian distro. Maybe it's like those difference clouds...

There are no rich people in the world, and there are no poor people. There are just people. The rich may have lots of pieces of green paper that many pretend are worth something—or their presumed riches may be even more abstract: numbers on hard drives at banks—and the poor may not. These "rich" claim they own land, and the "poor" are often denied the right to make that same claim. A primary purpose of the police is to enforce the delusions of those with lots of pieces of green paper. Those without the green papers generally buy into these delusions almost as quickly and completely as those with. These delusions carry with them extreme consequences in the real world.
~ Derrick Jensen

"I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all..."
~ Joni Mitchell

So there we go, Jo'.

Forests worldwide near tipping-point from drought


The process, well in hand, of turning our beautiful planet into a desert continues apace. Like any addict who hits rock bottom, one day we will have to start the rebuilding process. Our rainforests occupy about 3% of earths landmass if I'm right and contain half of our biodiversity, so they will be a good starting point, the sheer magic of these places being another reason. I don't know if it will be quite possible to replicate tropical forest but Willie Smits is doing interesting work. The sugar palm is central to his strategy as people must be provided for (presumably as they cant be trusted to burn the whole thing to the ground a second time).


His heart is in the right place, he is trying to save the orangutan too. Nature clearly means a great deal to him, he loves it. But for the present generation, interaction with nature is minimal, hence the present state of affairs. How can you love what you do not know? This initiative to get children away from their screens was nice to see:


IMHO, two things will have to change: first, the belief that its possible to live apart from nature in a resource heavy centralised system, and secondly, that the earth is a lump of dead rock that can be mined all the way to the core to provide these resources if possible. I hope one day we can treat her like the living being she is. The great being that feeds us, clothes us and gives shelter to our bones. To talk like this in the present day puts a person firmly in the lunatic fringe but nonetheless, its a change of heart we need, not a change in government policy or a technological fix. But I worry that Willie Smits will have his forests burned down a second time before a real change in the human being comes about, but come about it will. It just won't be pleasant.

But I worry that Willie Smits will have his forests burned down a second time before a real change in the human being comes about, but come about it will. It just won't be pleasant.

I think you are right and a lot of that 'REAL' change might look like something like this...


It is a silly notion of ours that humans are a necessary part of a living earth. Perhaps some other life forms will get a chance instead.

There are about 250,000 "tame" bison on bison ranches throughout North America, so they are in no danger of extinction as long as people enjoy a good bison steak. In fact, I had some nice bison sausages for dinner yesterday.

However, it is useful to have some in the "wild", if only for display purposes - to remind people what the West was like. Very little of it is in its original condition nowadays. Most people have no idea what it used to be like.

"Very little of it is in its original condition nowadays."

Partly because of lack of bison - they are/were a very important environmental factor.

Good to have some wild for genetic variability, as well...

Ted Turner wants it both ways:

What is Mr. Turner's standpoint on environmental protection vs. productive ranching enterprises?

Mr. Turner's commitment to the environment is consistent with the management philosophy of his ranches and properties. The mission statement of Turner Enterprises, Inc. is "to manage Turner lands in an economically sustainable and ecologically sensitive manner while promoting the conservation of native species." This philosophy allows natural processes to take precedence, but still recognizes the "hand of man." Turner Enterprises, Inc. strives for management that is both ecologically sensitive and commercially sustainable.

How is Mr. Turner's land "used"?

All of the Turner properties are used in some way through bison ranching, commercial fishing and hunting and, in a few cases, limited and sustainable timber harvesting. There are also many ongoing projects to save endangered species on Turner properties. For more information on these projects please visit: http://www.tesf.org

A group knowledgeable about wild buffalo in Montana http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/

Link up top: ConocoPhillips exiting stake in Caspian Sea with a $5 billion sale highlights a symptom all participating oil companies are having with the giant Kashagan field in Kazakhstan. Cost overruns are skyrocketing and expectations are falling like a rock.

Kazakh delay clouds non-Opec growth (Requires registration but available via Google without registration if you put the title in the search box.)

But the field, the biggest oil discovery in nearly four decades, will finally start pumping in early 2013, reaching about 150,000 barrels a day by the middle of next year, and rising towards 350,000 b/d soon after.

...Even if production starts next year, output will be far below the target of 1.5m b/d set for maximum pumping.

The four so-called “Briks” of Brazil, Russia, Iraq and Kazakhstan, have all turned out to be big disappointments for those who had hoped to see a massive increase in non-OPEC production. It just ain't happening. But not to worry, the good old U S of A comes to the rescue:

The output forecast for the four countries has fallen, in particular due to problems in Brazil with Petrobras’s ambitious plans to raise offshore oil production and in Kazakhstan with the trio of fields of Tengiz, Kashagan and Karachaganak. The Brik setbacks had been masked, however, by the spectacular growth in US oil production due to the shale revolution.

US shale oil production is about to flood the world with cheap crude oil. Well, perhaps I am a bit overly optimistic. ;-)

Ron P.

High demand means world needs all of Canada’s oil: IEA

Global demand for crude is growing so strongly that the world needs “every single drop of Canadian oil,” the International Energy Agency’s chief economist said on Monday, playing down fears that growing U.S. production could hit Canadian exports.

Fatih Birol said that even if U.S. output rises as much as the agency expects, the country would still need to import four million barrels a day and that Canada is an obvious supplier.

In its annual forecast this month, the IEA said the United States could come close to energy self-sufficiency by 2035, largely because of the boom in development of unconventional light oil resources..

There is something of a disconnect between the idea (widely reported in the media) that the US will become self-sufficient in energy, and the idea that it will have to import 4 million b/d of oil from Canada. I guess this is what they mean by "North American energy self-sufficiency".

Pretend that Canada is part of the U.S. and, voila, self sufficiency. The whole thing is stupid, anyway. Self sufficient for how long. Short term thinking as usual.

tdtreet - I think stupid is being too kind. It's an attempt to manipulate public opinion IMHO. Why stop at N America: is the western hemisphere self sufficient? What about the northern hemisphere vs. the southern. Oh, oh, oh...even better: the world has become self sufficient...we are no longer importing oil/NG from Mars. But the future does not look that good: as solar projects expand we'll be importing more energy from off planet. The horror...the horror.

And the individual 50 states, are they self sustained?

Get over it, if things go well enough Canada can sell its oil anywhere it pleases, if they don't there will be but one market able to secure its delivery. It is expensive to run the US military machine, so it may well break down, and that will do what to increase the security of world trade? The only way that tar sands oil doesn't end up getting used in North America in the break down situation is if it can't be produced. North American energy independence may be a bit of a catch phrase but the disconnect isn't quite as real as you think.

We are what we are, fairly unchanged for a quite a few millenia. Lot's of pinch points and conflicts out in the world, no doubt the US being the world's number one arms dealer ups their potential impacts for each and all. That of course makes the US machine more indispensible (kind of like anti-virus software companies keeping the market place full of nasty little snippets of software). Sorry about that, never been too thrilled about that aspect of things, but that hasn't stopped me from building posts and bases every time the opportunity came up.

Best bet for the future is for us all to make a sustained effort to move away from fossil fuels anyway...personally I feel that happens quickest if we can keep the world economy limping forward in as intact a fashion as possible...many others don't feel that is the best course even it is possible.

I can predict that Alberta tar sands will replace the almost 1 million b/day that eastern Canada currently imports from world markets. That oil will not be going to (although perhaps through) the United States of America.

And China will be getting tar sands syncrude or bitumen until 2044 (31 years of treaty) per my understanding.


Reasonable predictions, they of course don't contradict the two I made--and I generally don't stick my neck out too far in the prediction business

if things go well enough Canada can sell its oil anywhere it pleases, if they don't there will be but one market able to secure its delivery the added corollary seems equally likely

The only way that tar sands oil doesn't end up getting used in North America in the break down situation is if it can't be produced.

If things do not go well it is a near certainty that oil shipments across the Pacific will not be protected by the Alberta Navy. Of course not going well is open to a wide variety of interpretations, but I meant it as a major understatement--maybe I should have been clearer but when discussing those sorts of possibilities I prefer to leave things mostly to the reader's imagination, kind of a superstition you might say.

The intertwined nature of world commerce is the best guarantee we have that major long term disruption of world trade will not describe our future...but it is not a fool proof guarantee.

No doubt tar sand oil is already very important to the entire world oil market--what 2-3 million barrels a day of oil isn't these days...

Michael T. Klare: World Energy Report 2012: The Good, the Bad, and the Really, Truly Ugly

Given the hullabaloo about rising energy production in the U.S., you would think that the IEA report was loaded with good news about the world’s future oil supply. No such luck. In fact, on a close reading anyone who has the slightest familiarity with world oil dynamics should shudder, as its overall emphasis is on decline and uncertainty.

Take U.S. oil production surpassing Saudi Arabia’s and Russia’s. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Here’s the catch: previous editions of the IEA report and the International Energy Outlook, its equivalent from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), rested their claims about a growing future global oil supply on the assumption that those two countries would far surpass U.S. output. Yet the U.S. will pull ahead of them in the 2020s only because, the IEA now asserts, their output is going to fall, not rise as previously assumed.

... You don’t know what bad times are until you don’t have enough energy to run the machinery of civilization.

Of all the findings in the 2012 edition of the World Energy Outlook, the one that merits the greatest international attention is the one that received the least. Even if governments take vigorous steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the report concluded, the continuing increase in fossil fuel consumption will result in “a long-term average global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees C.”

... An increase of 3.6 degrees C essentially suggests the end of human civilization as we know it.

Canada ‘Hemorrhaging Scientists’ As Government Pushes Climate Science Aside

... Canada's ruling Conservative Party government has been leading a slow and systematic unraveling of environmental and climate research budgets, according to local scientists—including shuttering one of the world's top Arctic research stations for monitoring global warming. Hundreds of researchers have lost their jobs, and those that remain are forbidden from talking to media without a government minder.

The alleged "war on science" is so bad that some scientists are leaving Canada for jobs in countries where they feel they have more opportunities and freedom. Protests by scientists and their supporters have erupted across the country in recent months.

Walmart's Hunger Games

Like Suzanne Collins' dystopic future portrayed in The Hunger Games, in which impoverished teenagers battle each other to the death once a year for the amusement of Panem's wealth elite, Black Friday "Battle Royales" often end in death as well. In just the last few years, we've seen shoppers and retail workers shot to death, trampled to death, pepper-sprayed, bitten, punched, and kicked, all in their pursuit for Black Friday shopping deals.

All while the wealthy elite look down on the spectacle before them with amusement and the knowledge that the entire spectacle is fattening their bank accounts.

... With only "limited quantities available" (the eternal asterisk for so many advertised deals), and thousands of people waiting in line outside, then the message given to the young warriors in the Hunger Games applies to the shoppers readying themselves for the mad dash to the Kitchenware section: "May the odds be ever in your favor."

Now that's an idea for revenue earning - take the feeds from those CCTVs and cut together a show akin to those 'Police - Chase' shows, but on the inhumanity of shoppers after a bargain.

You know that somewhere, someone is already doing this.

Study finds high fructose corn syrup-global prevalence of diabetes link

A new study by University of Southern California (USC) and University of Oxford researchers indicates that large amounts of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found in national food supplies across the world may be one explanation for the rising global epidemic of type 2 diabetes and resulting higher health care costs.

The study reports that countries that use HFCS in their food supply had a 20 percent higher prevalence of diabetes than countries that did not use HFCS. The analysis also revealed that HFCS's association with the "significantly increased prevalence of diabetes" occurred independent of total sugar intake and obesity levels.

Researchers genetically alter wheat to make it nearly free of gluten

ConAgra buying Ralcorp for about $5 billion

ConAgra Foods is buying the private-label food maker Ralcorp for about $5 billion, which will make it North America's biggest manufacturer of cereals, crackers and other packaged foods sold under store brands.

Private label brands now account for 28 percent of all food and drink consumed in the U.S., up from 20 percent about a decade ago, according to market researcher The NPD Group.

As private labels become a bigger business, major supermarkets have also invested in producing private label brands in their own factories. Ralcorp's customers include Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Kroger Co. and McDonald's Corp.

I don't think problem is HFCS in specific (as in there is something specific about that corn originated suguars). I think it is just the fact that it is so cheap that they put it in EVERYTHING. Our foods are now all loaded with sugar and the portion sizes have increased.

There is some evidence that the proportion of sucrose and fructose matters.

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

There is a specific problem with fructose itself, when the body is not working on metabolising more complex carbohydrates. It's nothing to do with corn being the ultimate source.


Glucose and fructose are structurally different and metabolized differently. Glucose contains a 6-carbon ring, fructose a 5-carbon ring. Fructose is metabolized in the liver, glucose not.

Fructose and galactose [milk sugar] are phosphorylated in the liver by fructokinase and galactokinase. By contrast, glucose tends to pass through the liver and can be metabolised anywhere in the body. Uptake of fructose by the liver is not regulated by insulin.

In Wistar fatty rats, a laboratory model of diabetes, 10% fructose feeding as opposed to 10% glucose feeding was found to increase blood triglyceride levels by 86%, whereas the same amount of glucose had no effect on triglycerides.


"The study reports that countries that use HFCS in their food supply had a 20 percent higher prevalence of diabetes than countries that did not use HFCS. "

Mechanism, people, mechanism. Why does shifting from 50% glucose and 50% fructose (proportions in sucrose) to 45% glucose and 55% fructose (proportions in HFCS) push the metabolism over the edge? Or as TFA hints, is the fraction of fructose even higher? And "it's difficult to determine the proportions?" A HPLC should be able to sort out the sugars in short order, since they are all soluble.

From the link I posted:

High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are both compounds that contain the simple sugars fructose and glucose, but there at least two clear differences between them. First, sucrose is composed of equal amounts of the two simple sugars -- it is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose -- but the typical high-fructose corn syrup used in this study features a slightly imbalanced ratio, containing 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose. Larger sugar molecules called higher saccharides make up the remaining 3 percent of the sweetener. Second, as a result of the manufacturing process for high-fructose corn syrup, the fructose molecules in the sweetener are free and unbound, ready for absorption and utilization. In contrast, every fructose molecule in sucrose that comes from cane sugar or beet sugar is bound to a corresponding glucose molecule and must go through an extra metabolic step before it can be utilized.

This creates a fascinating puzzle. The rats in the Princeton study became obese by drinking high-fructose corn syrup, but not by drinking sucrose. The critical differences in appetite, metabolism and gene expression that underlie this phenomenon are yet to be discovered, but may relate to the fact that excess fructose is being metabolized to produce fat, while glucose is largely being processed for energy or stored as a carbohydrate, called glycogen, in the liver and muscles.

Who knows if it will hold up, and apply to humans if it does, but this is the way research is pointing. Sugar does weird things to metabolism, and the kind of sugar might be important.

It would be interesting if there was a comparison with a pure fructose diet. Even a full range of relative concentrations to see if there is a sweet spot that optimises weight gain.


apologies for the semi-intentional puns

Oil-and-gas lobby: Repeal of biofuel rule a top priority in next Congress

A top oil-and-gas lobby is changing strategy and will press Congress to repeal a biofuel production mandate instead of pushing for piecemeal changes to the rule.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) said Tuesday it believes the Renewable Fuel Standard should not be preserved, saying it is too hobbled by nagging problems.

But API — which historically has donated to and received support from Republican lawmakers — might encounter some resistance in the House Energy and Commerce Committee

The biofuels industry says the mandate has helped create jobs in rural America. It charges that API’s goal in tearing down the biofuel rule is to preserve the gasoline market for petroleum producers.

For once, I actually agree with the API!

Researchers study 'middle ground' of sea-level change

Ongoing research by professor John Brubaker of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science is throwing light on another, less-familiar component of sea-level variability—the "intra-seasonal" changes that occupy the middle ground between rapid, storm-related surges in sea level and the long-term increase in sea level due to global climate change.

Brubaker's interest in intra-seasonal variability was piqued during summer 2009—when a prolonged period of high water affected the U.S. East Coast

Three NOAA scientists, Bill Sweet, Chris Zervas, and Stephen Gill, subsequently issued a technical report to describe and explain the 2009 event. They note that water levels of 0.6 to 2.0 feet above predicted tides persisted for up to 6 weeks in areas from North Carolina to New Jersey, with slightly lower elevations experienced as far south as Florida and as far north as Maine.

... Now imagine Sandy with a 2.0 ft [or 3.0 ft] boost as the Gulf Stream slows.

also Hotspot of accelerated sea-level rise on the Atlantic coast of North America

and New fresh water in Arctic could shift Gulf Stream

and Scientists uncover diversion of Gulf Stream path in late 2011

Paralysis by analysis should not delay decisions on climate change

Robert Nicholls, Professor of Coastal Engineering at the University of Southampton and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, says: "Some impacts of climate change are now inevitable, so it is widely agreed that we must adapt. But selecting and funding adaptation remains a challenge."

Professor Nicholls and his co-authors describe two ways of assessing how much adaptation to climate change is enough by balancing the risk of climate change against the cost of adaptation. First they describe cost-benefit analysis where the cost of the adaptation has to be less than the benefit of risk reduction. Alternatively, decision makers can seek the most cost-effective way of maintaining a tolerable level of risk. This approach is easier for policymakers to understand, but thresholds of tolerable risk from climate change are not well defined.

Proportionate Adaptation

GM hopes new Spark will jolt electric sales

... The Spark EV is powered by an electric motor and a 20 kWh lithium ion battery. It gets 130 horsepower and can go from zero to 60 mph (96 kph) in less than 8 seconds, which is several seconds faster than the gas-powered Spark. GM says the Spark EV is the first all-electric vehicle in North America to offer SAE Combo DC Fast Charge capability, which can charge the battery to 80 percent of capacity in about 20 minutes. It can also be fully recharged in seven hours using a standard 240-volt outlet, or longer using a 120-volt outlet.

Well, I don't think they are really interested in selling a lot of them. They probably make no profit on them.

Up front price is $32,500 such that the $7500 tax-credit pushes it down to $25K. So it is a little cheaper than the Leaf. The range hasn't been disclosed yet. I doubt it sells big numbers but I hope they meet their sales goals. It is probably largely being sold as a ZEV compliance vehicle.

The plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are probably going to dominate the sales of plug-in vehicles for a while.

Fish to shrink by up to a quarter due to climate change, study reveals

His team examined the effect of rising ocean temperatures on the growth and distribution of more than 600 species of fish around the world and found that they are expected to shrink in size by 14-24% by 2050, with the biggest effects in tropical regions.

The fish shrinkage predicted by the new research results from two effects: the difficulty of growing in warmer, oxygen-poor waters, and migration.

"The metabolic rate of fish in the warm oceans increases and therefore they need more oxygen," said Cheung, whose work is published in Nature Climate Change. But warm water holds less oxygen and so their growth is limited.

Lastly, Roberts said the heating of the oceans means that the warmer layer at the surface mixes less with the colder layer below. As the colder layer contains most of the nutrients, that means less food for fish. "We are already seeing some evidence of this, as oceanic 'deserts' are getting larger."

Wow. They are really gonna have to "Fish harder" now!

Growing food in the desert: is this the solution to the world's food crisis?

They appear to have pulled off the ultimate something-from-nothing agricultural feat – using the sun to desalinate seawater for irrigation and to heat and cool greenhouses as required, and thence cheaply grow high-quality, pesticide-free vegetables year-round in commercial quantities.

Soon after becoming immersed in agriculture as a business, he says, he realised that it essentially involved "turning diesel into food and adding water". Whether you were a tree-hugger or a number cruncher, Saumweber reasoned, this was not good. "So I began to get interested in the idea of saline agriculture. Fresh water is so scarce, yet we're almost drowning in seawater. I spent a lot of time in libraries researching it, Charlie Paton's name kept coming up, and that's what started things.

"What we liked about Charlie's idea, as did the engineers we got in to assess Seawater Greenhouse, is that it addressed the water issue doubly by proposing a greenhouse which made water in an elegant way and linked this to a system to use seawater to cool the greenhouse," Saumweber recounts.

Thanks 'vark. A little too tech for me (can't believe I said that), as I prefer to err on the side of simplicity even when sacrificing efficiency somewhat. Since space doesn't seem to be an issue, perhaps a more passive approach to desalinization and temperature control would reduce their reliance on complex systems and high-tech inputs.

..."What we didn't realise at the start, and I don't think Charlie ever adjusted to fully, was that even in arid regions, you get cold days and a greenhouse will need heating – hence the gas boiler, which cuts in to produce heat and electricity when it gets cold or cloudy, but which upset Charlie so much because it meant we weren't 100% zero-energy any longer.

I notice a significant difference in the size of warm-blooded animals between my old home in Michigan and where I live now in the Mid-Atlantic. When I go home to visit my parents I am always amazed by how much larger a given species of birds is in MI vs. here. Not really analogous to your fish story, but I do believe it is a function of the colder weather up there. Cold-blooded species seem to be the other way around, and our trees seem to grow quite a bit faster down here.

This is called Bergmann's rule.

I notice it especially with bald eagles. They're huge in Alaska and Canada. Down in Florida, they look like runts in comparison.

I came across this a while back:

Shrinkage of Humboldt squid puzzles scientists

A mysterious force has stunted the growth of Humboldt squid in the Sea of Cortez, and marine biologists suspect a change in the weather is to blame.

The ravenous animals normally weigh up to 30 pounds when they spawn at 12 to 18 months of age, but Stanford biologists have discovered a group of the squid that weigh only a pound apiece and spawn at less than 6 months old...

...In a paper recently published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress, Gilly said he suspects the squid's shrinkage was caused by the abrupt warming of the gulf's water as a result of an El Niño that was detected during the 2009-10 winter.

Maybe that's what humans need to do; get a lot smaller.

Maybe that's what humans need to do; get a lot smaller.

My dad believed that major research effort should go into making humans 2 feet tall and weighing only about 30 lbs; he had a long list of benefits.

He used to write such stuff for the Saturday Evening Post but I don't think they bit on that one.

The only down side I can think of is brain size... not that having big brains has done us much good.

Currently most sports (except for gymnastics, diving, and horse racing) select for large bodies, and athletic success seems help with dating. While humans compete with each other in a physical activities and have ample food supply I bet they will continue to be large.

Oh, brain size is going down anyhow.


and this recently in sciam: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/talking-back/2012/11/26/homo-sans-sa...

personally, I might suggest a shift from visual-cortex reasoning to verbal narrative has meant fitter groups in terms of short-term inter-group competition (enhanced transmissibility of thought process inter-agent) but less-fit individuals, making individual-brain processing power less important than in hunter-gatherers. Twitter users are carrying the ant-like simple constant communication a step farther. A single termite is a lonely beast with zero fitness.

I avoid verbal "logic" except as necessary in social situations & with a few friends, and on this one blog to stay in practice.

i mentioned the 100 kph sail boat and that is doable. but what of a warp drive star ship? lot's of folks think it is doable, even DARPA. if that can be juiced up we wont need oil any more for fuel.
it's worth running by the oil conundrum for perspective. pie in the sky or a break through?


"A few months ago, physicist Harold White stunned the aeronautics world when he announced that he and his team at NASA had begun work on the development of a faster-than-light warp drive. His proposed design, an ingenious re-imagining of an Alcubierre Drive, may eventually result in an engine that can transport a spacecraft to the nearest star in a matter of weeks — and all without violating Einstein's law of relativity."

make sure to read comment section of this story.

In a week's time, the Pink Unicorn Fleet (now in Earth orbit) is going to land on the White House lawn and reveal to humanity the secret of warp drive. AND, as a bonus, the secret of Free Energy and the cure for cancer. You heard it here first!


Did you hear about the space aliens that bestowed us with advanced superconducting technology?

"To use is resistless!"

Bada-bing! That's a good one!

Here is a story that is a little more intriguing to me:


Experimental data which may indicate that beta decay seems to vary, to a small degree, in a periodic fashion, which may be correlated to the Earth's orbit around the Sun or perhaps to the rotation of the Sun's core, or to some other phenomena, or it may be some kind of experimental error.

I'm not sure how this relates to 'Energy and Our Future', but some folks here may be interested.

This story is a good filter to find people who have a high awareness of current human descriptions of reality. Because it should be impossible unless we're wildly wrong about something vary basic.

Probably an error. If it isn't, the implications are huge... whatever they are.

PDF warning - http://arxiv.org/pdf/0810.3265.pdf - I have been told that this series of papers critiquing that conclusion was spurred by its main author being queried by one of the friends I'd suggested dig down on it. Could be.

I read your link. And a fair bit of the comments.

Sounds like it's still in the pipe dream stage. But it's a pretty dream.

It takes advantage of a quirk in the cosmological code that allows for the expansion and contraction of space-time

The cosmological code? I didn't know there was one.

I have read that DARPA sometimes funds high-risk, 'far out' research...sometimes past the point of foolishness...such as the Hafnium 142 isomer Induced Gamma Emission snake oil research...read 'Imaginary Weapons'...this is a non-fiction book...the Hafnium 142m IGE stuff was hokum, but the story of how a con man memorized some sponsors at DARPA to fleece it for money is apparently true. Popular Science picked up the Hafnium craze story and ran with it...right up there with their perennial 'flying cars' just around the corner stories.

Some potentially more interesting things, a little more 'down-to-Earth' than Alcubierre Drive...

Funny how the Internets facilitate serendipitous finds (found this while searching for 'Ball Lightning' search terms [that is what geeks do] ):


A while ago I ran across this report on the Webs, which also deals with ball lightning:


UK MoD page with the links to all sections of the report:


If I won the Powerball I would build a lab to study things of this nature, and also the purported beta decay phenomenon I linked below...OK, maybe look into the Alcubierre Drive...and build a time machine such as depicted in the movie 'Primer' (Good flick, especially since it was produced for less than 10 grand IIRC). Oh yea, and LENR too...not to make ridiculous unsubstantiated worldwide announcements, bu just to play around and see what is there.

Marty! I built the Flux Capacitor!

Meanwhile in the real world, some really cool new stuff...


It must be nice having a Large Hadron Collider to mess about with. One day you're just minding your own business, running lead-proton collisions for reference in order to subtract out background noise from the lead-lead collisions that you actually care about, and then poof, you somehow create a new form of matter called a color-glass condensate. Nice.

The Vulcans are coming

Right on, Zefram!

Similar to a supercavitating rocket torpedo.