Drumbeat: November 28, 2012

The New Future of Energy Policy

The combination of declining oil use and a greater reliance on the global powergrid is going to shape energy and climate policy. Especially at a time when the concerns of climate change – or, rather, rising seas and the greenhouse dangers of fossil fuel dependency – are being increasingly raised. This will make for a rather muddled and complex array of diverging policy initiatives.

Moreover, as the oil-based economy (which was harder to meter) gives way to the electricity-based economy, policy makers will find there are more levers to shape energy demand in their economies. The Oil Age was a more natural fit for free-spirited individualism. The Electricity Age will see an era more comprehensively dominated by policy, as the powergrid becomes the mechanism for governments to shape the future of energy demand.

Oil Trades Near One-Week Low on Supply Gain, U.S. Budget

Oil traded near the lowest price in a week in New York amid signs of rising supplies in the U.S. and concern that lawmakers are struggling to reach agreement on how to address the nation’s deficit.

West Texas Intermediate futures declined as much as 0.7 percent. An Energy Department report today may show crude supplies rose by 350,000 barrels to 374.8 million, according to a Bloomberg News survey. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday he was disappointed with progress made during congressional budget talks over $607 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to begin in January.

Abu Dhabi’s Taqa Buys BP North Sea Assets for $1.1 Billion

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA) bought stakes in North Sea fields for $1.1 billion from BP Plc (BP/), the energy producer that’s disposing of assets in the wake of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Wildcatter Moffett’s Davy Jones Well Bet Tests Investors

“People call us pioneers. Well, that’s great, I guess, (though) some people say pioneers end up with arrows in their back.”

The speaker, in a tone that manages to be both self- deprecating and mildly defiant, is Jim Bob Moffett, chief executive officer of McMoRan Exploration Co. (MMR) -- serial wildcatter, incurable prospector, a man with a huge appetite for risks and an uncanny record of extracting big paydays from taking them.

India Bets on Troubled Kashagan to Restart Oil Expansion

India’s largest oil explorer is attempting to revive a stalled overseas expansion plan by buying into a $46 billion project that’s eight years behind schedule and cost twice as much as expected.

Cnooc-Nexen Deal ‘Moving Along’ as Canada Develops Policy

Cnooc Ltd.’s $15.1 billion bid for Canada’s Nexen Inc. is “moving along” as the federal government develops new foreign-investment guidelines while it reviews the bid from the Chinese oil producer, Alberta Premier Alison Redford said yesterday.

“I haven’t heard anything,” Redford said. “This is a decision the federal government will make. We understand that it’s moving along and everything is being considered.”

Russia's LUKOIL joins rush to export Kurdish oil

LONDON/BAGHDAD (Reuters) - LUKOIL has bought oil from Kurdistan, defying Iraq's ban on trade with its independent-minded region, but the Moscow firm has so far avoided the wrath of Baghdad, which hopes Russians may step in to tap its big fields further south as Westerners bail out. Exporting oil independently of the central government is the latest of many defiant moves by the Kurdish regional government, which also signed deals with oil majors like ExxonMobil of the United States to develop its resources.

Energy the elephant in the room for Egypt

Anyone following Egyptian economic news is probably aware that the government has signed a preliminary agreement with the IMF for a US$4.8 billion (Dh17.63bn) aid package.

The cabinet revealed it is keen to finalise this deal as it believes global investors would perceive it as a stamp of approval on Egypt's economic programme - despite the current travails on the political front. One has to suspect the major issue has to do with subsidies in general and energy subsidies specifically, which seem to be the elephant in the room.

No one wants to risk the social implications of aggressively cutting the bill.

Twin car bombings hit Damascus suburb

Twin car bombs ripped through a Damascus suburb Wednesday, killing 34 people and leaving dozens critically wounded, according to Syrian state media and hospital officials.

The SANA news agency said two cars packed with explosives detonated at 6:45 a.m. local time Wednesday.

Pollution-detecting aircraft hunts for gas leaks

(Phys.org)—University of California, Davis, atmospheric scientist Stephen Conley is flying over the spine of California, tracing 600 miles of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s natural gas pipeline for methane leaks. Specialized instruments on Conley's plane allow UC Davis researchers to detect gas leaks several miles downwind from the source.

"What sets us apart is we use atmospheric science to solve the problem," Conley said. "We can do things with a little plane that you can't do any other way."

BP Temporarily Suspended From Contracts With U.S. Government

BP Plc, which pleaded guilty to criminal charges after the worst U.S. oil spill in 2010, will be temporarily suspended from winning new contracts from the federal government, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said today.

The EPA said the ban was imposed because the company’s conduct during the Deepwater Horizon disaster showed a lack of integrity. The action, which doesn’t affect existing contracts, will stand until BP can demonstrate it meets business standards set by the government, the EPA said.

BP must beware joining list of extinct corporate dinosaurs

Deepwater has left BP a tainted organisation in the United States, its biggest market and, according to recent analysis by the International Energy Agency, likely to become the world's biggest energy producer by 2017. "Debarring" BP from future US business remains a distinct possibility.

Jump from the US to Russia, currently the world's second-biggest oil producer, and the situation becomes even murkier.

Senators Share Gas Hors d’Oeuvres to Break Impasse

He took her to a solar-panel manufacturer in Oregon and a factory that makes a buoy to capture the energy of waves.

She showed off a natural gas export terminal in Alaska where they ate graham crackers dipped in a liquefied version of the fuel, part of a demonstration to showcase its benign properties.

Democrat Ron Wyden, who will take over as chairman of the U.S. Senate energy committee in January, and Lisa Murkowski, the panel’s top Republican, say the tours to each other’s home states cemented a warm bond between the two and taught them new lessons, such as the fact that a graham cracker soaked in liquid gas tastes like a graham cracker.

Petrobras Ethanol Pipeline Pullback Raising Fuel Price

Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4)’s decision to suspend investment in a $3.1 billion ethanol pipeline, the world’s largest, is spurring speculation the project will be scaled back and fail to lower fuel prices at the pump.

Petrobras, as the state-run oil company is known, won’t make payments next year for the 1,300-kilometer (808-mile) pipeline, according to sugar cooperative Copersucar SA, one of the six companies that co-own the project. An official at Petrobras in Rio de Janeiro declined to comment on the planned pipeline.

Oil, gas boom lifts personal income in U.S.

The energy boom and strong farm prices have reversed, at least temporarily, a long-term trend of money flowing to cities. Last year, small places saw a 3% growth in income per person vs. 1.8% in urban areas.

Small-town prosperity is most noticeable in North Dakota, now the nation's No. 2 oil-producing state. Six of the top 10 counties are above the state's Bakken oil field.

Independent farms rake in millions

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The American farmer might not be as poor as you think.

Despite the common notion that family farms have fallen on tough times and been pushed out by big agribusinesses, tens of thousands of families in the United States actually run multi-million dollar farming operations that produce the majority of the nation's food.

Automakers gear up for a green holiday season

If the upcoming L.A. Auto Show is any indication, American motorists are in for a green holiday season.

A preliminary estimate shows as many as 50 new cars, trucks and crossovers will make their debut during the annual event, the first big U.S. auto show of the 2013 model year.

On the pros of nuclear power

We should fund nuclear energy research now – or tomorrow we may not be able to turn the lights on.

U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency reports being hacked

The International Atomic Energy Agency acknowledged Tuesday that one of its servers had been hacked after a previously unknown group critical of Israel's undeclared nuclear weapons program posted contact details for more than 100 experts working for the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Desertec project puts spotlight on Mena region

Desertec, the ambitious plan to turn Middle East sunshine into clean energy to be exported to Europe, is now looking closely at the energy needs of the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

At the same time, the Arab League has woken up to the potential of alternative energy, and is studying the prospect of energy exports to Europe.

Synthetic fuels could eliminate entire US need for crude oil, create 'new economy'

(Phys.org)—The United States could eliminate the need for crude oil by using a combination of coal, natural gas and non-food crops to make synthetic fuel, a team of Princeton researchers has found.

Besides economic and national security benefits, the plan has potential environmental advantages. Because plants absorb carbon dioxide to grow, the United States could cut vehicle greenhouse emissions by as much as 50 percent in the next several decades using non-food crops to create liquid fuels, the researchers said.

The Internet Wears Shorts

Far from some meteorological phenomenon, the cloud is in fact a massive collection of warehouses jammed with rows and rows of power-sucking machines.

But once you’ve gotten past the fundamental realization that the cloud is a hulking, polluting, physical thing, there’s another story to tell. It’s the one about how some of the more forward-thinking Internet companies are coming up with wildly creative ways to cut down on all that waste. Facebook is building its latest data center at the edge of the Arctic Circle. An industry consortium is sponsoring a “server roundup” and handing out rodeo belt buckles to the Internet company that can take the largest number of energy-leeching comatose servers offline. And Google has saved huge amounts of energy by allowing its data center workers to wear shorts and T-shirts.

New oil production techniques will speed up climate change

Tar sands projects, fracking and gasification are part of a quest for ‘extreme energy’ puts both workers and the planet at risk

Whatever happened to peak oil? Only a few years ago it was common to hear speculation that global oil production had peaked and would slowly peter out—forcing capitalism to adapt its energy use. But by last year oil production was increasing again, especially in North America.

How the myth of oil abundance impedes progress on climate change

The great fear among those working to address climate change is that the seemingly vast resources of fossil fuels waiting to be burned will send the world hurtling toward certain catastrophe. By invoking fossil fuel abundance, climate activists believe that their argument for a rapid transition to alternative energy is made more persuasive. But, it is poor strategy to reinforce the myth of fossil fuel abundance when doing so actually makes many people less open to such an argument. And, as it turns out, the abundance argument is also contrary to the available data, logic and prudent risk management principles.

Retracing Cuba’s Special Period Crisis

HAVANA TIMES — In Mostoles, Spain, something like the Alamar of Madrid (but with a lot more parks), a collective and self-management initiative known as the “Breaking the Cycle” the Institute of Transition” has carried out work for more than a year.

Over time, the issue of “Peak Oil,” has become the focal point for consolidating a communitarian project since its practice seeks to contribute to post-capitalist social transformation.

Are We Heading Toward Peak Fertilizer?

You've heard of peak oil—the idea that the globe's easy-to-get-to petroleum reserves are largely cashed, and most of what's left is the hard stuff, buried in deep-sea deposits or tar sands. But what about peak phosphorus and potassium? These elements form two-thirds of the holy agricultural triumvirate of nitrogen, phosphorus , and potassium (also known as NPK, from their respective markers in the Periodic Table of Elements). These nutrients, which are essential for plants to grow, are extracted from soil every time we harvest crops, and have to be replaced if farmland is to remain productive.

Brazil reports continued decline in Amazon forest destruction

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil has something to tout at global climate change talks that began this week in Doha: destruction of the world's largest rainforest is still slowing at a record pace.

Data released Tuesday suggests destruction of Amazon woodlands has slowed to the lowest rate since monitoring began in 1988. The figures, based on Brazilian government data gathered by satellite imagery, mark the fourth straight year the overall deforestation levels have slowed.

Drought-Parched Mississippi River Is Halting Barges

Mississippi River barge traffic is slowing as the worst drought in five decades combines with a seasonal dry period to push water levels to a near-record low, prompting shippers to seek alternatives.

River vessels are cutting loads on the nation’s busiest waterway while railroads sign up new business and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers draws criticism from lawmakers over its management of the river, which could be shut to cargo from companies including Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) next month.

After Drought, Reducing Water Flow Could Hurt Mississippi River Transport

As part of an annual process, the Army Corps of Engineers has begun reducing the amount of water flowing from the upper Missouri River into the Mississippi, all but ensuring that the economically vital river traffic will be squeezed even further. If water levels fall low enough, the transport of $7 billion in agricultural products, chemicals, coal and petroleum products in December and January alone could be stalled altogether.

“Without the river, we’re in a world of hurt,” said Kathy Mathers, a spokeswoman for the Fertilizer Institute. About half of the spring fertilizer that the industry sells to Midwestern farmers travels upriver, she said, and options to get the fertilizer to the fields by other means are few. “We know the rail cars aren’t there,” she said. 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.

The plan, approved by Congress, has the power of law. “We do not have the legal authority to operate the Missouri River solely for the benefits of the Mississippi River,” said Monique Farmer, a spokeswoman for the corps.

As Great Lakes plummet, towns try to save harbors

The Great Lakes, the world's biggest freshwater system, are shrinking because of drought and rising temperatures, a trend that accelerated with this year's almost snowless winter and scorching summer. Water levels have fallen to near-record lows on Lakes Michigan and Huron, while Erie, Ontario and Superior are below their historical averages. The decline is causing heavy economic losses, with cargo freighters forced to lighten their loads, marinas too shallow for pleasure boats and weeds sprouting on exposed bottomlands, chasing away swimmers and sunbathers.

Some of the greatest suffering is in small tourist towns that lack the economic diversity of bigger port cities. Yet they are last in line for federal money to deepen channels and repair infrastructure to support the boating traffic that keeps them afloat.

Looking to Cities, in Search of Global Warming’s Silver Lining

“There is a lot of emphasis on the mitigation of global warming, and we need that,” said Lewis H. Ziska, a plant physiologist for the Department of Agriculture, who is one of a growing number of scientists studying how plants react to elevated levels of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. At the same time, he added, “we need to think about the tools we have at hand, and how we can use them to make climate change work for us.”

Among the tools are cities, which have conditions that can mimic what life may be like in the temperate zone of a heated planet.

Cities in the age of climate consequences: ‘Carbon Zero’, chapter 1

Welcome to Grist’s presentation of Alex Steffen’s new book Carbon Zero. We’ll be posting a new chapter every day for a week — here’s the full table of contents. This post will tell you a little more about the project.

Climate cash debate rages as Doha summit opens

The EU will not commit to renew climate funding which runs out at the year's end ahead of talks at the Doha climate summit, which opens today (26 November). But new climate aid may be announced in the conference’s second week.

Outcry Grows Over Canadian Govt's Undermining of Climate Science

Federal researchers are on the front line of Harper's alleged 'war on science' as the country's oil ambitions clash with its scientific agenda.

Obama shields U.S. airlines from EU carbon fees

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama signed a bill on Tuesday shielding U.S. airlines from paying for each ton of carbon their planes emit flying into and out of Europe, despite a recent move by Europe to suspend its proposed measure for one year.

The carbon fee bill was the first piece of legislation debated on the House floor after Congress returned from recess on November 13, and had been cleared by the Senate in September in a rare unanimous vote.

California confronts a sea change

Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey don't need to wait on gridlocked Washington to confront future risks from climate-change intensified storms. They can instead look at how California is already moving forward on common-sense adaptations, and do it themselves. With 3.5 million Californians living within three feet of sea level, and the best available science projecting a 3- to 5-foot rise in sea level for the state by 2100, doing nothing would be irresponsible.

World is able but not willing to cut greenhouse gas emissions, says UN body

THE world already had the know-how to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, linked to the overall rise in global temperatures, but did not have the political will, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) said at the UN climate change talks in Doha on Wednesday morning.

Thawing Permafrost Threatens to Intensify Warming

Thawing permafrost threatens to intensify global warming, sending the planet beyond the 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of increases that envoys at United Nations climate talks have set as a maximum.

Frozen soils that cover a quarter of the land area in the northern hemisphere contain 1,700 gigatons (1,700 billion tons) of carbon, twice the amount currently in the atmosphere, the UN Environment Program said today in a report released at the latest round of treaty negotiations in Doha.

Seas rising faster than projected, low areas threatened: study

DOHA (Reuters) - Sea levels are rising 60 percent faster than U.N. projections, threatening low-lying areas from Miami to the Maldives, a study said on Wednesday.

The report, issued during U.N. talks in Qatar on combating climate change, also said temperatures were creeping higher in line with U.N. scenarios, rejecting hopes the rate had been exaggerated.

Climate "changing before our eyes" - World Meteorological Organization

DOHA (Reuters) - The fact that Arctic sea ice has melted this year to its lowest recorded level shows, along with other weather extremes, that "climate change is taking place before our eyes", the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday.

The first 10 months of 2012 were the ninth-warmest since records began in the mid-19th century, with early months cooled by a "La Nina" weather event in the Pacific, according to the report, issued at global climate change talks in Doha.

Reading Are We Heading Toward Peak Fertilizer?,above, there's this...

These two elements cannot be made, cannot be substituted, are necessary to grow all life forms, and are mined and depleted. It’s a scary set of statements. Former Soviet states and Canada have more than 70% of the potash. Morocco has 85% of all high-grade phosphates. It is the most important quasi-monopoly in economic history.

...so I decided to take a tour of the Western Sahara "phosphate monopoly". The mine can be seen here at Bou Craa, Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra, Western Sahara. Mined rock phosphate is transfered via a 150 km long conveyor belt to the coast, here. In the first Google link, one can see the conveyor heading off to the northwest.

As I was expecting some sort of massive operation, I was a bit surprised that it's quite small compared to other mining operations I've seen. Since the Western Sahara produces virtually none of its own food, with the exception of a small fishing industry, it's interesting to note that the future of global agriculture may lie there. More here:

Phosphate: A Critical Resource Misused and Now Running Low

The world’s food supplies are alarmingly dependent on the phosphate fertilizer that is hewn from the desert of the Western Sahara. The vast open-cast mine at Bou Craa delivers several million tons of phosphate rock every year down a 150-kilometer-long conveyor belt, the world’s longest, to the Atlantic port of El Ayoun. From there, it is distributed around the world and made into fertilizer.

Morocco’s phosphate reserves are owned by the Office Cherifien des Phosphates, a Moroccan state agency. Given the almost unlimited executive powers of the Moroccan monarch, it might reasonably be said that most of the world's known reserves of phosphate are, in effect, owned by King Mohammed VI and his Alaouite dynasty, which has reigned in Morocco since the 17th century...

...It takes one ton of phosphate to produce every 130 tons of grain, which is why the world mines about 170 million tons of phosphate rock every year to ship around the world and keep soils fertile.

Currently, only about 15 percent of that comes from mines in the Western Sahara and Morocco. But the only other large producers, the U. S. and China, mostly keep supplies for their own use. So Morocco is by far the biggest contributor to international trade, with more than half the total business. The people of India, the world’s largest importer, would be starving without Morocco’s phosphates. Brazil’s agricultural boom would never have happened otherwise.

Even more critically in the longer term, the U.S. Geological Survey says that of the 65 billion tons of the world’s known phosphate rock reserves — and the estimated 16 billion tons that might be economic to mine — almost 80 percent is in Western Sahara and Morocco. Add in China’s reserves, and the figure rises to almost 90 percent. The U.S., with 1.4 billion tons, is close to running out. You can see why agronomists are starting to get worried.

[bold added]

It seems that this conveyor belt is the link to feeding over a billion people.



That converyor belt looks vulnerable to storms and wars.

Fifty years down the line our kids will read a book called "The scramble for Morocco".

The US Minerals Databrowser lets data visualization junkies generate a few charts concerning US and world production of phosphate:

It's also worth having a look at potash, the other non-renewable resource that our agriculture industry is dependent upon. Rising food prices in the years ahead will make for "interesting times" in many developing nations.

Happy Exploring!


I believe potash is about an order of magnitude larger in supply (reserve vs consumption) than phosphor, so phosphor is the big worry. Now a potash mine has a development time of about 15 years or so, so if planning is not done ahead, there may be supply dipps.

Re phosphor: The data I have seen in the past on P-consumption and increased agricultural production indicated that the demand grow much much faster than the production of agrcultural goods, i.e. if this is correct phosphor was not the limiting factor and most of it was simply wasted. Any good data for this issue?

Supply of and access to key nutrients NPK for fertilizers for feeding the world in 2050 (pdf).

Got that one the other day from one of the links here. It seems relatively comprehensive, but you're on your own to assess quality of the data provided. Maybe someone else would risk a take?


The fiction of Aldous Huxley covered peak phosphorus in 1928 and 1932

Re: Synthetic fuels could eliminate entire US need for crude oil, create 'new economy'

This story points to an report published back in June. One wonders why this optimistic presentation is being dragged up just now, is it something to do with the Qatar conference on climate change?

The story repeats the usual claims that biomass will supply enough energy to fuel the US transport system, using only non-food crops or agricultural "waste", ignoring the problem of keeping the production going. what is now considered "waste" is returned to the land and keeps the top soil healthy. There's also the suggestion that coal would be used as well, though the biomass option makes it appear that everything will be OK. Of course, the use of coal would produce the synthetic fuel with the least cost, so one can see which direction this effort might actually take...

E. Swanson

Follow on research to the Billion Ton Study showed that one half of the field biomass could be used for fuels without negative impact to the land. Bio char from the fuel plants can return carbon to the fields as well.

Duzzn't matter, there's still nowhere near enough land area.

There are 30 million acres used now for ethanol corn production. The same amount of land growing non food biomass crops could make 1/3 of the gasoline the U.S. now consumes.

The all or nothing at all argument is old. If we can eliminate middle east oil imports and eventually all of OPEC oil imports to the U.S. we would be making progress.

How many miles per acre for biomass? I'd like to compare that to an acre of alternatives. Tell me your assumed mpg when you share this, please.

I did some rough calculations. That 20 tons per acre figure for Miscanthus is so far out there. Maybe you'd get that on a productive tropical site with fertilizers but I think we're probably looking at 10 tons per acre tops for the US. So I'll be generous and use this and then say this produces about 1000 gallons ethanol per acre, based on previous ratios. Accounting for the energy density of ethanol/oil of 30/45, then to make up the difference for the US oil trade deficit (4 billion barrels/a) with biofuels would require an area 1.26 million km2, or 250 million acres, which is a square 1100 km per side.

That is about 16% of the area of the lower 48. But much of that land isn't arable and much of what is arable is needed for food.

How many barrels of oil does US gasoline consumption represent? I don't know, but just ratio the numbers in relation to 4 billion.

"In its work, the Princeton team looked at a broader picture. In a July article in the AIChE Journal, the team found that the United States could meet its entire demand for transportation fuel by building 130 synthetic fuel plants across the country.

...using three feedstocks: coal, natural gas and biomass. To avoid switching farmland from food production to crops used for fuel production—which would hurt the food supply—the researchers only included non-edible crops such as perennial grasses, agricultural reside and forest residue."

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-11-synthetic-fuels-entire-crude-oil.html#jCp

So I get 2,400,000 miles of driving per year per acre for an acre of PV panels. How does that compare?

1,000 miles per panel per year (about 300 kwh per panel per year produced, and 100 miles driving per 30 kwh charge) and an acre will hold about 2,400 of today's typical 18 square foot solar panels.

If the sole criteria is amount of land used, solar is going to be a better solution than biomass derived energy in all cases.

However, projects are more typically analyzed on financial criteria such as return on investment. In that case, solar (and the additional required infrastructure) remains much more expensive than a lot of other options.

I don't believe the US can or should try to replace all of its energy from biomass, and am in any case not sure the synthetic fuel concept referred to here would be viable.

But the knee jerk rebuttal that we need to replace all liquid fuel use and that solar is viable because it uses less land isn't really productive.

There are 43,560 square feet in an acre 18 square feet times 2400 panels is 43,200 square feet. You would be laying them flat with very little room for servicing. Panels collect more energy when they are angled towards the sun, so you have to provide shadow room.

Let's say you could get 2000 panels on an acre each producing 200 watts peak with 2000 solar hours per year.
They would produce more like 100 watts on average and you would not have 2000 solar hours per year everywhere in the U.S. You could have more cars driving more miles per year per acre, but converting 100 million cars to EV and $2 million per acre for the PV would be a large price tag.

Equivalent car miles per acre you get 1/10th the land use with PV at TEN times the cost. Considering we have 500 million acres of pasture land in the U.S. and we only need about 10% of that land for half our fuel needs, that is a more cost effective solution.

I just don't understand why they need the biomass as input, can't they use coal and natural gas? I'm all for synthetic fuels using coal and NG, because doing so will be slow and expensive and will therefore incontrovertibly drive home the reality of Peak Oil, and these sources of coal and gas MAY provide enough energy for a long enough time to allow us to develop a solar infrastructure.

You use biomass like Miscanthus to get more CO2 neutral and more sustainable, also IMO a more predictable cost structure. We do not know where the price of coal nor natural gas will go with increased demand, but we do know the cost of land, water, nutrients, equipment and other factors will be. They are not speculated on by investment banks in the market.

Yeah, the land area issue just doesnt make much sense. Grow food and sell it to people in the mid-East for their cheaper oil.

Or cover the land area in PV panels and you'll power far more EVs for far more miles.

1 million acres of PV would cost $1 trillion and replacing 100 million cars with EVs would cost another $1 trillion, that is only HALF the cars in the U.S.

A fuel plant that makes one million gallons of synthetic gasoline per day costs $1 billion. You would need about 150 of those plants to replace one half of the gasoline we use in the U.S. each day. That is an expenditure of $150 billion versus $2 trillion.

The Electricity Age will see an era more comprehensively dominated by policy, as the powergrid becomes the mechanism for governments to shape the future of energy demand.

Trying to imagine what striking back at the grid would look like, my best guess is microgrids with neighbourhood microCHP and PV with storage. The latter is edging closer to residential tariffs in Germany.


Lots of stuff on microCHP in German at www.photovoltaikforum.com (latest are fuel cell units). Biomass based ones hadn't made it yet at my last visit.


"Trying to imagine what striking back at the grid would look like..."

You can start by looking in my back yard ;-)

Yeah, I found this an odd view:

Moreover, as the oil-based economy (which was harder to meter) gives way to the electricity-based economy, policy makers will find there are more levers to shape energy demand in their economies. The Oil Age was a more natural fit for free-spirited individualism. The Electricity Age will see an era more comprehensively dominated by policy, as the powergrid becomes the mechanism for governments to shape the future of energy demand.

What? Oil Age was a more natural fit for free-spirited individualism? Every gas car driver is completely dependent on a massive supply chain including(often government) drilling leases, drilling, maritime oil tanker traffic, pipelines, refineries, distribution of gasoline, and retail selling of gasoline. There are lots of government regulations all along that supply chain and there can be more. I can put up PV panels on my house and the government can't do a thing about it. OK, in most cases there will be a grid connection but their leverage there is limited because a grid connection is not necessary, it is just desirable. If they go to far with their regulation, just install some batteries, a charge controller, and cut the grid connection. Bye government.

The solar age is FAR more of a natural fit for free-spirited individualism.

Can we just agree that it is a silly analogy?

I think the point is that with gasoline you can just fill up once (with jerry cans) and drive across the continent if desired. Totally free-spirited. With electric transportation you can't do that with trains. An EV is limited range and there's no way you'd ever be able to drive across a continent on one charge. Plus there won't be enough EV's for everyone so most will either carpool or go on public transit.

I think he has an image in his mind of a civil servant in a power plant monitoring a gauge and shouting, "Hey Joe, cut the voltage a notch will ya? The peasants are using too much electricity."

Around these parts we ain't got civil servants in power plants, we got privitization. Recently Enron left town, but those fine fellas may have settled in a power plant near you. Maybe you got that phrase from them, but I think they swore more when they were scrxxxing the peasants.

Made me check some of the European TSOs. All sorts of different ownership models from fully private as far as possible for a monopoly to fully public are represented.

I would opinionate that rather this kind of structure is one genie that makes a multi-TSO grid go round. Unfortunately I do lack the competence to make a professional judgement here, but it seems to work in my head at least. Can't see how it would screw up without malicious intent.

The quote below is from one of their annnual reports:

The Nordel Board consists of the chief executive offi-
cers of the TSOs

Not saying that it is the only good solution.


Gregor Macdonald's perception of the electric power grid in The New Future of Energy Policy is a bit fanciful:

The combination of declining oil use and a greater reliance on the global powergrid....

There is no such thing as the global electrical power grid because they are not interconnected. Maybe he envisions Desertec providing electricity to California some day.

Already getting the North Sea Offshore Grid done looks hard enough. Desertec still looks as long term a shot as it did on announcement. Right now, Morocco is importing electricity from Spain and North Africans will need all the solar buildup in the works right now for themselves.

Also found back this CHP Model Overview from Germany. (google translation) They maintian a German forum for residential CHP too.

One dry biomass CHP seems to be actually available in Austria:


And there's a stirling CHP for pellets in the works at one of the larger companies in the business:



Well, so it serves us (USA) right. That stirling is mighty close to what I have been trying to interest people here in for decades, with, obviously, no luck.

Very good, I wish them well.

Meanwhile, I am running mine on just logs in an ordinary wood stove. Nice and quiet, even when it is running.

There is no such thing as the global electrical power grid because they are not interconnected.

BlueTwilight, you are correct. I wonder how high a voltage would be required for a line that long...

We are connected to Canada. Hence the "Blame Canada!" cries after the Blackout of 2003. (Though it turns out that Ohio, not Canada, was to blame.)

It's not really clear what he means by "global powergrid." He might be referring to something he expects to happen in the future.

It's become somewhat difficult to follow his ideas, now that so much of them are behind a paywall. Might have to reconsider linking there.

Leanan, he may mean the power grids throught the globe, not a single global power grid.

That's true, too, but if that's what he means, he should say global powergrids.

I think he wants to live on some different planet in which there is a global power grid, and governments can raise taxes whenever and however they want. This planet, however, is not that planet.

The trouble the NE US has is that the power grid is too fragile, and the sources of power are too far away. The ones in Northern Quebec are so far away that the transmission lines have been knocked out by a solar flare inducing a voltage surge in them. Ice storms are also a regular occurance, and they have been known to knock out power to Southern Quebec and Ontario as well as the NE US. A hurricane is just one of the many possible things that could knock down the grid.

In other places with smaller grids, outages are more common but less of a problem. Whenever the local grid goes down, people just cope until the power comes back on. The outages are shorter and people are more used to dealing with them. They bring out their flashlights, candles, and backup generators and make do as long as necessary.

I would disagree that a global power grid is a solution to the world's energy problems. I would say it would be more of a problem in its own right.

Quebec operates its own grid independent of the NE grid and thus they were spared the big blackout of 2003. It was quite a sight from the tallest hill here in Ottawa (just a few minutes from our house) on the first night of the blackout. The Ontario side of the river was completely dark while the Quebec side was lit up as normal.

As the Quebec grid does not operate in sync with the NE grid, special equipment is needed at the points where the grid connects to the NE grid.

Intergrid, analogous to internet.

My first thought when I read that was he was thinking of the future global grid. You know the one that will send all the solar electricity up to Europe from Sahara. This text is quite obvious a futuristic one.

AMSC is cutting its workforce by 25 percent

AMSC, a Devens company that provides technology and products to wind energy companies and power grid operators, said Wednesday that it has reduced its workforce by 25 percent, a move that will leave it with a global headcount of 340 employees.

“While the long-term prospects for renewable energy remain bright, conditions in the sector today are challenging,” AMSC president and chief executive Daniel P. McGahn. “Financing and cash flow among wind farm developers and wind turbine manufacturers have been constrained, which has impacted growth plans for some of our Windtec Solutions partners. Given this environment, we made the difficult but prudent decision to reduce our workforce in order to weather the industry downturn and minimize our cash usage.”

AMSC, which is also known as American Superconductor, is embroiled in a lawsuit with Sinovel Wind Group, a Chinese wind turbine maker that was once AMSC’s largest customer. AMSC alleges that Sinovel stole its intellectual property. Sinovel once accounted for nearly 80 percent of AMSC’s revenues.

... China bites again.

Links between climate change and population growth

Rapid population growth and fossil fuel emissions are two leading characteristics of our modern age. Since 1800, world population has grown sevenfold, while per capita CO2 emissions have increased 150 times. Put the two together, and you have about 1,100 times as much in terms of emissions.

... A 2005 London School of Economics study concluded that, if each of us living in a highly developed country reduced our carbon footprint by 40 percent over 40 years, all of that would be cancelled by our present population growth rates alone. And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that emissions will rise dramatically if and when billions of people are able to escape from poverty.

Both by-products of capitalism, which generates endless economic expansion/radical overproduction and severe wealth inequalities/extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is the main cause of rapid population growth. The only humane answer to it is radical economic reform and redistribution. Not complicated, though utterly radioactive in existing corporate media/politics/marketing.

2022: Cheap flights, more rail and hands-free cars

... In the air, the trend toward low-cost airlines and so-called "a la carte" pricing will likely become the accepted norm, as fliers finally accept a business model that reminds us: nothing is free and everything costs. By 2022, say experts, the consumer war over having to pay for every airline perk and option from pillows to snacks to window seats to legroom will be over.

Number crunchers will win. Grumblers will lose. ... "A lot of people who don't like this trend have in their minds the way it used to be," said Snyder. "They think that's how it should be."

... Across the nation's sprawling rail lines, experts anticipate several states from coast to coast will continue investing in trains that connect regional cities. And the future looks bright, analysts say, for the nation's urban light rail and tramway systems.

Still, U.S. train ridership ranks very low compared with other nations. The number of passengers on Amtrak and commuter rail total about 500 million a year, Freemark said. Compare that to the United Kingdom, a country five times smaller than the United States, which counted 1.35 billion rail riders last year.

"Compare that to the United Kingdom, a country five times smaller than the United States, which counted 1.35 billion rail riders last year." Yeah well, that's because they actually have trains. And the ones they have actually go where lots of people want to go.

Nineteen Atlantic tropical storms 3 consecutive years: a very rare event

How rare are 3 consecutive top-five hurricane seasons for named storms?

It is tremendously rare to get three consecutive top-five years in a database with a 162-year record. This would occur randomly just once every 34,000 years--assuming the database were unbiased, the climate were not changing, and a multi-year climate pattern favorable for active seasons were not present.

... the top ten busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1851:

2005: 28
1887: 25
1933: 23
1995: 20
2012, 2011, 2010, 1969, 1936: 19

and on the left coast ... River of rain headed toward Bay Area

... An "atmospheric river" of rain will storm into the Bay Area on Wednesday morning and unleash torrents of precipitation across the region through Sunday, forecasters said.

The driving rain and blowing wind will wallop everything from bridges to houses and leaf-covered trees. Small urban floods and power failures are all but guaranteed.


Todd - That 10.7" bulls-x is right about over you, yes? But we know you're ready for it. Best hopes for minimal damage...

Hi Clifman,

Ya, the "X" is close enough for government work. We've only had a little over 1 1/2 inches since last night. We had a short period this morning with winds and rain like I haven't seen in the 30+ years we've lived here. Being on top of a hill is great for views but when it blows we really get the wind.

I've checked out the generators and recharged the battery lights. Our PV system wouldn't be of much use on a day like today except, maybe, to keep the refrigerator or freezers going.

I have to say I love to see the rain since we depend upon out deep well (450') and the more it rains the less I have to worry about water.


Edit to add:

Here's the Thursday forecast as of 3PM Wednesday:

Thursday Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. Temperature falling to around 46 by 3pm. Breezy, with a south southeast wind 24 to 28 mph, with gusts as high as 37 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between 3 and 4 inches possible.

Thursday Night Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. Low around 46. Breezy, with a south wind 26 to 29 mph, with gusts as high as 39 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between 3 and 4 inches possible.

Todd, it sounds like you'd do well with a wind generator up there. I'm out here on the eastern fringe of the current storm and only got 3.5 amp hours of PV production today, but my little "Air X" wind machine pretty much kept the batteries full (400 watts nameplate).

Actually, I had a wind generator years ago. It was a 1.5kW Whisperwatt. To avoid 100's of feet of trenching I put it close to where our PV panels are. Also to save money I only put it in a 40 foot mast. To go higher than 40' required 5" schedule 40 pipe whereas I could use 3" schedule 120 at 40'. To do it right, I would have had to go to about 100' on another hill. It wasn't worth it to me.


Edit to add: I got it on a deal so I broke even when I sold it.

Same thing here, minor 7 hour outage during Sandy, not much sun the day before but we woke up with a full battery bank thanks to the Air-X.

Don in Maine

I can almost hear the mudslides already. I hope the Left Coasters will send some of that our way here in the Great (dry) Plains. Winter wheat is off to a poor start.


"National Weather Service forecasters today are predicting the incoming storm system could dump about 200 inches of snow at the peak of Mt. Shasta.

Forecasters expect up to 39 inches of snow today and up to 43 inches of new snow tonight.

The weather on Friday is predicting another 29 inches during the day and 27 inches at night.

Saturday will again be snowy on the mountain, with forecasters predicting up to 28 inches during the day and as much as 35 inches at night.

The snow amounts will taper off into Sunday, with about 17 inches expected, according to the weather service."

Quite impressive!.

It is tremendously rare to get three consecutive top-five years in a database with a 162-year record. This would occur randomly just once every 34,000 years--assuming the database were unbiased, the climate were not changing, and a multi-year climate pattern favorable for active seasons were not present.

It would be tremendously rare if we really had a 162-year database. But the actual data is not at all uniform. Until 1943 there were no hurricane hunter aircraft. Until 1950 there was no widespread use of weather radar. Doppler radar was not fully implemented until about 2000. The Nimbus weather satellite system was not fully implemented until 1978.

Without these modern advances, identification of offshore hurricanes relied on reports from shipping and (after about 1950) transatlantic aircraft. Before about 1912 there were no radio reports from ships.

To take an example of the kind of differences this could produce, consider the 2012 hurricane season. In this year there were 19 tropical storms (so far) of which Chris, Ernesto, Gordon, Isaac, Kirk, Leslie, Nadine, Rafael and Sandy reached hurricane strength. But only three of these nine hurricanes reached land, and only seven of the 19 total reached land. If we still relied on shipping reports, perhaps half of those that never reached land would never have been reported at all, and some of the tropical storms would never have been identified as tropical cyclones, especially if only one ship reported them. A compact hurricane encountered by only one or two ships before 1912 might never be reported because there were no survivors.

So all we can really say is that the three consecutive years in the top five are in an 11-year database (if doppler radar is essential for identifying hurricanes) or a 33-year database (if they can be identified with certainty from satellite observations).

Edit: Corrected typo.

I'm not saying there haven't been a few years with an unusually large number of hurricanes in the last decade. I'm just saying that the evidence is not there to say that such clusters of high numbers have not occurred in the past. Nor is there evidence to say that they have.

Instead of pointlessly pontificating or showing your ignorance (e.g. use of Doppler radar) why don't you read Dr. Masters blog entry and his discussion of "shorties" and the peer-reviewed literature on this topic....

However, there are no previous occurrences of three consecutive years with at least twelve long-lived tropical storms, so 2010, 2011, and 2012 still represent an unprecedented level of tropical storm activity in the historical record, and we would expect such an event to occur randomly about once every 157 years. That's a pretty rare event, and it is possible that climate change, combined with the fact we are in an active hurricane period that began in 1995, contributed to this rare event.

These are the closing remarks of Dr. Master's blog entry. This is a much more restrained statement than the It is tremendously rare to get three consecutive top-five years in a database with a 162-year record., in keeping with a prediction of once every 157 years based on a 162 year database.

It is a rare event which deserves comment. But it may not be unprecedented.

I would not be at all surprised if changing climate has caused an increase in the frequency of tropical storms, but the evidence that it has already happened is inconclusive. As Dr. Masters says, "possible".

Exactly, the whole statement at WU was much more tempered...

However, I strongly suspect that as with most signals of CAGW, the signal here will be clear only after it is far too late to even think of doing anything....

I would not be at all surprised if changing climate has caused an increase in the frequency of tropical storms, but the evidence that it has already happened is inconclusive

Weather is an observational activity, it's very hard to pin down cause and effect. What you say is true but even the insurers are complaining that damages related to extreme weather events have gone up and some of those insurers like Munich RE are very old companies with more than a century of data related to claims with them.

So far storm number one, which wasn't supposed to be strong is pretty much a nothing burger in the far east bay.

We're due for a stormy winter here in coastal CA. It's been years since we have had a real stormy winter. Like the ones in '82, '85, '89, etc. A lot of homes, roads, built environment near the coast is due to fall in.

Climate change models vary for California - Wetter? Drier? Who knows. Big storms coming oin off the Pacific would seem likely eventually.

We've been needing some beach erosion to get the sandbars working for good waves!

We got dumped on here in the SF Bay area today. I had make sure my sump pumps were working.

It was pretty variable in the Bay area. I was in Livermore, and they barely got any rain. Back home, which is normally in the Mt Diablo rain shadow and normally gets less, .8 inches in the rain bucket. The wind charts were showing very strong (40knot) winds on the two high spots, Mt Diablo and Mt Hamilton, the lower elevations only showed moderate winds. We are supposed to get a break till Thurs night, then maybe 4inches in the next three systems.

I don't think this is the ARCstorm (study that forecast $750B of damages), but we as a state do need to be concerned about what could happen if we get a really big one, and the Levees in Sacramento get overtopped. Fortunately we are due for a break early next week, so hopefully this will only be a drought buster, rather than a major disaster, that would make Sandy plus Katrina look like baby disasters.

This morning, the main circulation of the storm is still far out to sea in the Pacific. HERE's a LOOK at the current satellite photo, which will change thru the day. So far, most of the storm's energy appears to have tracked further to the north...

E. Swanson

We are getting nailed on Vancouver Island this morning. One of the worst commutes since last March. Our river should start flooding today or look darn impressive as the mountain snow melts. It is common to see 200' trees...roots and all...whiz down current. We'll see...forecast doesn't look too bad, though.

California rain events never look like much on the weather map. The low passes well to the north. What matters here is a moist flow of air forced over topography. This event is supposed to have a subtropical moisture stream pushed by strong winds(50-70knots at 5000feet) over the topography.
If California was flat, I doubt we would get much rain out of this sort of event.

Innovative method inexpensively and energetically efficiently reduces CO2 emissions

... The TU Darmstadt's pilot-scale "carbonate-looping" method research system proved capable of capturing more than 90 % of the CO2 emitted, while reducing both the energy input and operating costs formerly required for CO2 capture by more than 50 %. Yet another benefit of the "carbonate-looping" method is that it may be retrofitted to existing power plants.

The headline is misleading. The method uses limestone to capture CO2 from the flue gases. The limestone is then calcined, driving off the captured CO2, and recirculated to capture more CO2 from the flue gas.

You still have to dispose of the captured CO2. The only benefit of the method is that you have separated and purified the CO2.

Study shows trends in public and private agricultural R&D

Research discussed in the article notes that globally, most of the increase in agricultural production over the past 50 years can largely be attributed to rising crop and livestock yields rather than to the expansion of acreage devoted to farming.

Findings reported in the Science article include:

•Globally, about half or more of all private investment in food and agricultural research and development have been devoted to food manufacturing, not toward input industries and other areas that directly increase agricultural production.
•Recent increases in private agricultural input research have mostly centered on crops, including farm machinery and some biofuels investments; livestock-related research and crop protection chemicals have experienced less growth.
•Research into biofuels has become increasingly important, with estimated global investments by private companies at approximately $1.47 billion in 2009.
•Private spending contributed to the overall growth in R&D for agricultural in the face of slowing or stagnant public R&D resources, but addressed a narrower set of research topics and input industries than publicly funded R&D.

most of the increase in agricultural production over the past 50 years can largely be attributed to rising crop and livestock yields rather than to the expansion of acreage devoted to farming.


So what happens to "Harvested Land Area" when fertilizer and irrigation inputs no longer deliver increased yield? % increases are now dropping, and many crops are near their limits. There still appears to be some room to grow for some, like corn.

And let's not forget water -- crops need that, too.

Arctic melt 'irreversible' and under global radar

The world is on the cusp of a ''tipping point'' into dangerous climate change, according to new data gathered by scientists measuring methane leaking from the Arctic permafrost and a report presented to the UN on Tuesday.

Independent lines of evidence show human greenhouse gas emissions are warming the Arctic and triggering the release of more methane, carbon dioxide and other gases.

''The permafrost carbon feedback is irreversible on human timescales,'' according the report, Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost. ''Overall, these observations indicate that large-scale thawing of permafrost may already have started.''

Canada not ready for Arctic 'great melt,' report says

... Canadian planning for the vast region in the midst of a "great melt" - one that places the Arctic "at the cusp of tremendous economic development" - is still plainly "inadequate," according to a new report by a Canadian team of foreign policy and marine transportation experts.

The report, issued by the Waterloo, Ont.-based Centre for International Governance Innovation, highlights the "urgent need" for a more coherent approach to planning the Arctic's future and greater co-operation with the U.S. and corporate players in preparing for the coming development boom - including oil-and-gas development, tourism and trans-Arctic shipping.

And watch for MSM to leap directly from stories about AGW being unproven to being irreversible. They have about equal rationalization value to continue BAU.

It would not be difficult to push the concept that AGW is already irreversible; a lot of the big religions already have apocalyptic endings baked in, and there will be big money in "adaptation". Climate campaigners need to be aware of stable states and tipping points... in the zeitgeist.

It's already clearly headed in that direction. The thing is, some of it IS irreversible. But the difference between 2C and 4C of change, much less 2C vs 6C, is so radical we should be doing everything we can to prevent things getting that badly out of hand. And THAT is what most people don't realize.

Certainly we can't "take back" the CO2 we have already emitted, but "irreversible" is a dangerous word to use since it's so nihilicious.

It's logic of the general form "I slapped her and she screamed so I had to strangle her". It may seem expeditious in the short term, but it's not a productive course of reasoning.

And ethically, we have no right to consider it irreversible even if science ever indicates it has become so. Because we MIGHT be wrong.

"Nihilicious"....talk about dangerous words, that word just looks scary!

Kidding aside, I agree with with your comment: "And ethically, we have no right to consider it irreversible even if science ever indicates it has become so. Because we MIGHT be wrong."

We are probably toast (pun intended), but you never know. Nothing lost by trying.

I make up words on the fly, that was a new one. In fact, I liked its utility so checked google to see if it was original with me today. Alas, not, and the .com is taken. Hard to be the first one to a new word these days.

And indeed, nothing to lose and a wonderful world of life to save.

And indeed, nothing to lose and a wonderful world of life to save.

Well said.

Meadows, Randers and Meadows (2004, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update) have a simliar take (emphasis added).

The ritual cheerfulness of many uninformed people, especially world leaders, would say the questions are not even relevant; there are no meaningful limits.

Many of the informed are infected with the deep cynicism that lies just under the ritual public cheerfulness. They would say that there are severe problems already, with worse ones ahead, and that there’s not a chance of solving them.

Both of those answers are based, of course, on mental models. The truth of the matter is that no one knows.

We have said many times . . . that the world faces not a preordained future, but a choice. The choice is between different mental models, which lead logically to different scenarios.

    One mental model says that this world for all practical purposes has no limits. Choosing that mental model will encourage extractive business as usual and take the human economy even further beyond the limits. The result will be collapse.
    Another mental model says that the limits are real and close, and that there is not enough time, and that people cannot be moderate or responsible or compassionate. At least not in time. That model is self-fulfilling. If the world’s people choose to believe it, they will be proven right. The result will be collapse.
    A third mental model says that the limits are real and close and in some cases below our current levels of throughput. But there is just enough time, with no time to waste. There is just enough energy, enough material, enough money, enough environmental resilience, and enough human virtue to bring about a planned reduction in the ecological footprint of humankind: a sustainability revolution to a much better world for the vast majority.

That third scenario might very well be wrong. But the evidence we have seen, from world data to global computer models, suggests that it could conceivably be made right. There is no way of knowing for sure, other than to try it.

The more the world dithers on accepting the third model, the more metaphorical water passes under the bridge. Its been eight years, and attitudes have barely budged. We are being forced by sheer inertia of habit into model 2.

I tend to think civilization’s end is preordained, and is it really all that civilized? The dynamics of overshoot began when human brains and hands evolved to use information and tools and in combination with the motivations of the limbic system, have used them unsparingly to carve-up the biosphere. The speed of our self-destruction really took off when we created the tools to use exosomatic energy that leveraged our ability to access and digest everything in our paths. We have not “progressed” but rather our emotional, feeling limbic systems have defined progress as whatever feels good, rather than our long-term adaptation to our environment. We can move resources through the mycelium until they’re gone. I’m sure new tools are in the works to squeeze the juice out of thorium, but it won’t make any difference as long as income differentials exist in the world, fossil fuels will be used in addition to thorium.

Take a look at some of the dopamine and serotonin addictions: alcohol, drugs of all sorts, food, sex, and dominance. Take a look around, how many of the people you see are really in control of what they do? If evolution had meant for the cerebral cortex to be in control and not just an enabler of the limbic system, we might have stood a chance. Watch all the limbics camped-out in front of Wal-Mart for their Black Friday assault and imagine that in every category, there are way too few products. The melee would be fantastic. Now imagine these same people set loose upon the natural world with technological tools. Imagine these technologically equipped people set loose upon each other in competition for the last toaster oven or perhaps the last loaf of bread in the grocery store or maybe the last million tons of potash or phosphorus. Our progress is illusory and the addict only cares about their next fix, even if it kills them or anyone that gets in their way.

Certainly difficult to respond. Under the premise, any disagreement, in part or whole, could be easily dismissed as my neocortex making an effort to deceive or in an act of self-deception.

Unlikely, though, that the neocortex evolved to serve only the limbic system. Consider the role of the pre-frontal cortex in self-regulation and restraint, and in aggregate, social-regulation.

True enough that we don’t see much self-regulation at the doors of Wal-Mart on black Friday. But it can be found in other settings. Might the settings we create and dwell in have as much to do with impulsive behavior as a limbic-endocrine cascade? Change the context, change the outcome?

Some religions make believers prove they have a “will”, by not eating meat on Fridays, abstaining from food for a day or two, not eating cows or pork and so on. But these tokens of willfulness cannot withstand the barrage of desire brought forth by the limbic system. Shopping and entertainments of various sorts were in full force on the “sacred” Thanksgiving day this year. The prefrontal cortex is most concerned with the timing and route we take towards our rewards, including our often self-serving social behavior. Many shoppers “planned” their shopping strategy and camped in front of the store. Capitalism, the growth paradigm and living within a massive system where accountability is minimal, alleviates many of our inhibitions. Our context will change, but I’m afraid it won’t be voluntary.

Recent research has even indicated that most of our decisions are made subconsciously and then rationalized later. In order to maintain homeostasis, our systems cannot rely upon conscious thought to take care of business. The pre-frontal cortex can plan the shortest, most energy efficient course to what we desire, but it is pretty helpless in deciding what we need and when we need it. Our systematic technological organization insures that our necessities and needs have expanded well beyond the needs of our bodies.

Meh. I don't think it has anything to do with proving people have "will". That's just a cover story.

I think some leader just tricked people into not doing some behavior that he felt was bad. Some desert dweller leader 2000 years ago found people getting sick from pork so he made a rule not to eat it. Some leader of the Hindu religion realized it was more productive for people to keep their Oxen to plow fields so made a rule not to eat them.

Religion is viewed as true by the commoners, as false by the intellectuals, and as useful by the politicians. (Something like that.)

I disagree. There are generally solid reasons for those seemingly silly religious rules, and usually, the reason is not disease, but economics. Marvin Harris wrote about this extensively in Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture.

Why are pigs "bad to eat" for Jews and Muslims? It's not anthrax, as has often been claimed. Anthrax is a bigger risk for "good to eat" animals like goats and cattle. The problem with pigs is that they eat food people eat, and all they produce is meat. They also need a lot of water, being adapted for wet areas. That makes them a huge resource drain for a desert area. Chickens produce eggs, cows produce milk, sheep produce wool as well as milk, but pigs only produce meat. You have to kill them to get any benefit from them. But nothing turns grain into meat faster than a pig, which makes it hugely attractive to raise them.

In Collapse, Jared Diamond describes an island society that decided they were better off without pigs, because they got into gardens and ate food meant for people, and only a few people (the wealthy) benefited from them. So they killed every pig on the island, had a huge barbecue, and were done with pigs.

That's not possible if you don't live on an island, so rather than kill all the pigs, they were declared "bad to eat." Too dirty and disgusting to be food.

OTOH, you have the famous sacred cows of India. They are also "bad to eat," but rather than being unclean, they are sacred. Why is that?

Because cows were traditionally necessary for survival. Families need them to provide milk, as well as to plow fields and do other farm labor. People will eat "disgusting" foods if they are starving. (Like that hapless cat in the Corb Lund video, or those cases of cannibalism when people had no alternative.) If your family is hungry during the winter or dry season, it would be awfully tempting to kill the cattle and eat them. But that's eating your seed corn. If you do that, you'll never be able to feed your family again. Making cows sacred results in a much stronger prohibition than having them be disgusting, like pigs.

A lot of religious rules that seem capricious to us now are actually responses to resource constraints. It's not a coincidence that every major religion has restrictions on meat-eating. Meat is resource-intensive, and in ancient societies, food was the biggest part of ordinary people's environmental footprint.

Asian Ingredients: A Guide to the Foodstuffs of China, Japan, Korea
"You can get twenty times the useable protein from an acre of soybeans that you can from cattle grazing on the same land."

Yup! The cerebral cortex is of little value when you're in a herd. And 7 billion individuals all linked together by a single global system is one hell of of a big herd.

I came across this earlier, it maybe of interest:

When Escape From A Previously Successful Model Is Impossible

"We see the immense power of previously successful models. Straying from the previously successful trajectory looks needlessly risky, even as the trajectory has rolled over and is heading for unpleasant impact.

Anyone who questions the previously successful model (PSM) is suppressed, fired or sent to Siberia as a "threat" to the enterprise's success. Anyone who realizes the Titanic will inevitably sink and abandons ship leaves behind all their sunk capital: they leave with the figurative clothes on their back..."

We as individuals, or we as the human race, are not in control. We can nudge the system slightly to the left or right, but we can neither stop it, reverse it or alter its forward only bias. As individuals, we're free to leave any time, but as the article says; you leave with the figurative clothes on your back. Tough call for the herd biased limbic system.

Max Planck: : "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

It would be interesting to see a survey of attitudes to Peak Everything, stratified by age.

Every species tries to overshoot. Some just don't get the chance. I guess we feel that we are smarter than the rest so we shouldn't overshoot. But we are just not as smart as we think we are. We have a few smart people that invent cool things. But the vast majority of us haven't a clue as to how things work. We just use the tools invented by others to do what we are told to do.

It IS irreversible, because when a species is lost, it is lost. And evolution will not recreate that same species again.

However it is not unstopable. We could theoretically make a big gathering, let scientists explain that if we don't stop NOW, there is a planning horizon by 2050; anything beyond that is meaningless, because we will all be dead. Then we decide on that gathering to crash the world economy in a planned manner during the coming ten year, start the de-population, and move on. We can stop this. We still can. The challenge is to make people agree to the move. Personally I am a pessimist; I do not believe the death of everything alive by 2050 (38 years from now) is enough whip and carrot to make people refrain from the IPhone 6.

Regarding religions; yes, we teach that the world will die. We also teach that we will all individually die too. Yet, people try to prolong life and avoid the unavoidable as long as possible. Logically, we should do our best to avoid the death of the planet as long as possible too.

Nihilist view: Isn't the sun going to heat up so much it will turn the Earth into a lifeless desert within half a billion years regardless?

But anyhow what interests me is how populations crash. The term "overpopulation" is probably a bit misleading. Clearly resources are adequate to allow the population to grow to huge numbers and then (barely) sustain it as the growth levels off. This is why so many reject the idea that the Earth is currently overpopulated. The problem is though that when populations grow explosively, as the human population has over the past couple hundred years, resources become stretched paper thin. Everything seems to be going fine until some crisis comes along, then everything breaks down fast because there is no resiliency and no room for error. People blame the crisis for the disaster, but if the population weren't so huge the crisis could have easily have been survivable.

A good example is the famous raindeer population on St Matthew island, which seemed to be going fine until a particularly harsh winter hit in 1963. Populations elsewhere survived this, but for the overpopulated and overstressed raindeer of the island it was catastrophic.

Nihilist view: Isn't the sun going to heat up so much it will turn the Earth into a lifeless desert within half a billion years regardless?

That would be the reductio-ad-absurdum nihilist view, yes. By a slight extension, since life could only last at most a few billion years, it might as well have never existed on earth to begin with. Which a pure nihilist would agree with. ("We believe in nothing, Lebowski. Nothing. And tomorrow we come back and we cut off your chonson.")

But a hundred million years is a long damn time. Now think in multiples of those.

Anyone who suggests that the destruction of the ecosystem in decades to centuries is in some way equivalent to the sun toasting the planet in a half-billion years is a fool and/or sociopath, which is to say: human.

I've said it before: as of say 1800AD, there was no a priori reason for there not to be a healthy population of humans around on a healthy world for an arbitrarily long time, easily reaching a trillion human lives in total. Those lives are what we are frittering away, along with much else. Now. In real time.

"easily reaching a trillion human lives in total."

What?!? That's 150 times more than today!

"easily reaching a trillion human lives in total."

What?!? That's 150 times more than today!"

In total through history, not all at once. That is 700 million people alive in any given year, with a 70 year lifespan, for 100,000 years as a stable society.

700 million people alive in any given year, with a 70 year lifespan, for 100,000 years as a stable society.

Sounds like a better plan to me.

It sounds like sci-fi, but pretty much all we had to do to achieve it was be sane.

China Planning 'Huge Fracking Industry'

China is ratcheting up its fracking ambitions with virtually no regard for groundwater protection or other environmental safety measures, according to a new investigation by the independent publication Caixin. The report points to an 24 October white paper on energy development released by China's top cabinet which "calls for ramping up the industry and pumping 6.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas from underground shale formations by 2015." ... "Geologists estimate the nation's recoverable reserves at about 25 trillion cubic meters, on par with the United States."

... If fracking takes off in China as planned, it will likely exacerbate the nation's existing water crisis. "Most of the nation's shale gas lies in areas plagued by water shortages," the report says. With about 20 percent of the world's population and only 6 percent of the world's water resources, China is one of the least water-secure countries in the world.

In order to reach the government's annual shale gas production goal of 6.5 billion cubic meters by 2015, as many as 1,380 wells will need to be drilled across the country, requiring up to 13.8 million cubic meters of water, an industry source told Caixin. China's industrial sector already consumes about 35 billion cubic meters of water a year.

... Meanwhile, Caixin reported that one test fracking operation in Shaanxi Province—a major coal region in China's dry North—recently "went awry, forcing local officials to temporarily cut a nearby city's water supply." [Oops!]

Japan's newest floating train is one blistering maglev

The country known for its fast and efficient rail lines this month draws fresh attention after recently unveiling a magnetic levitation train that can travel at speeds over 310 mph. Japan is looking beyond its bullet train system as rail developers seek to excel globally once again, by offering a next-generation, no-wheels maglev (magnetic levitation) system. The maglev trains are frictionless, faster and are quieter than trains that use wheels.

The new trains that are scheduled to go into use in 2027 are to link Shinagawa Station, in central Tokyo, with Nagoya and will travel at about 311 mph. It takes 90 minutes for a conventional, speedy bullet train to complete the journey between the two stations. The new train would complete the same trip in 40 minutes.

"It takes 90 minutes for a conventional, speedy bullet train to complete the journey between the two stations. The new train would complete the same trip in 40 minutes."
Hmmm, what's the return on energy invested in developing and deploying this system for saving 50 minutes?

"But this one goes to 11".....

You beat me to it, FM...

It is energy saved per passenger mile.

I would like to see a comparison of the joules or KW-hr per passenger mile of each train. The magnetically levitated train will consume a large amount of energy to keep levitated, besides having large energy consumption due to the 80% greater speed. Even at 180mph a steel wheel train does not use much energy to overcome rolling resitance, over 95% of total energy required for movement is to overcome air resistance. So I doubt that mag-lev train uses less energy, probably uses 1.5 to 2.0 times as much as much slower steel wheeled train, IMO.

I was referring to high speed rail versus commercial jet travel. If you look at time, passengers and energy, rail is better.

Not convinced, the high speed rail has a lot of embedded energy in the track. The jet plane only needs ground infrastructure on both ends. You need a lot of traffic to make the rail pay off its embedded energy.

I'd bet if you included lifespan of materials, Aviation wouldn't stand a chance. Airframes can go through a lot, but between the materials and labor needs for Flight equipment, versus Heavy Steel Rails and Wheels ('Trucks') that can last for Many decades, that Trains may 'take longer' in both senses.. but will win out in the end.

WAY more people take the bullet train between Tokyo and Nagoya than fly between them. The article compared the new train to the existing bullet train, not flying.

Researchers Examine 'Nestedness' of Industrial Ecosystems

Biodiversity is a complex phenomenon that emerges from the combination of a large number of ecological mechanisms. Yet, despite the complexity of its origins, there is one prevalent pattern that always appears to emerge. This is a pattern known as "nestedness," which is expressed in the fact that the less ecologically diverse locations tend to be populated by subsets of the species present in the most ecologically diverse locations. Hence, biological ecosystems are characterized by an emergent order in which there is little evidence of specialization, since the rare species locate only in places that are already inhabited by many others.

But does this apply to industrial ecosystems? Are these also nested? ... A paper published this week in PLoS ONE, using data on both international and domestic economies, shows that this appears to be the case. The paper shows that, just like biological ecosystems, economies are highly nested, and that these mimic the patterns of the ecological networks found in nature.

The study also looks at the theoretical implications of nestedness by using a model of industry locations networks. The researchers found that the model is able to account for both—the nestedness of the network and its dynamics.

"This paper shows that the evolution of industrial ecosystems follows patterns that have an important degree of predictability, and hence, demonstrate a fundamental constraint on how we expect the world economy to evolve during the coming years. Moreover, the fact that these patterns can be explained by a simple statistical model raises doubts about whether rational decision making is needed to explain macroeconomic patterns like the ones uncovered in this paper."

Full article: The Dynamics of Nestedness Predicts the Evolution of Industrial Ecosystems

"Understanding the evolution of industrial ecosystems is important because the mix of products that a country exports is one of the strongest leading indicators of long-term economic growth" says professor Hidalgo, senior author of the study and director of The MIT Media Lab's Macro Connections group. "This paper shows that the evolution of industrial ecosystems follows patterns that have an important degree of predictability, and hence, demonstrate a fundamental constrain on how we expect the world economy to evolve during the coming years. Moreover, the fact that these patterns can be explained by a simple statistical model raises doubts about whether rational decision making is needed to explain macroeconomic patterns like the ones uncovered in this paper."

Perhaps professor Hidalgo would be able to give us some insight as to how the global industrial ecosystems might continue to evolve when the feedback loops from the ELM start kicking in. He might also want to take a hard look at the basics of Ecosystem Thermodynamics and explain how industrial ecosystems are nested within the existing natural ones.


As anyone who seriously studies ecosystems should know, infinite growth, is definitely not in the cards...

I think this kind of analysis just adds to my ever mounting suspicion, that in the aggregate, humans do not seem to be a whole lot more rational than yeast!

Up top: "Climate "changing before our eyes" - World Meteorological Organization"

Well close them!! A public service announcement brought to you by the republican party.

Failing satellites
"These satellites track a broad range of environmental markers, including the thinning of ice sheets and changes in cloud cover and temperature."

Sinkhole update ... Sinkhole 'Event'

An event occurred at the sinkhole around 11:30 pm today which is being considered as a “burp”. Vegetative debris and hydrocarbons came up from below the sinkhole. A few trees in the southwest corner did fall in however most of the debris came from below the sinkhole. Texas Brine removed all crews from the sinkhole and is checking the boom surrounding the area to make sure everything is intact.

A video from the sinkhole, post-event is posted at:


Settling/shifting of material underlying sinkhole created disturbance of water in sinkhole in morning roughly coinciding with USGS report of observance of seismic activity – crude oil emulsion and woody debris from sinkhole bottom observed rising to surface, water from nearby swamp seen flowing into sinkhole. Surface activity observed for several minutes before water calmed again.

S - I spent the Thanksgiving holiday at my well near the sinkhole but wasn't able to make it there during daylight. Heading back this afternoon and may have better luck getting some pics. Who knows: might get to feel a little tremor. One of the events still on my geologist's bucket list.

Watch out so the geologist don't become geology. Your future colleagues will have a god bit of problem figuring out how that fossil ended up there.

Rock - This sinkhole may turn out to be a going concern for Texas Brine - they're skimming 2-300 bbls/d from the swamp. They might gross $1-2 million every 3 months.

Socar of Azerbaijan Produces Less Oil in First 10 Months of Year


"Azerbaijan...saw total crude production fall 7.7 percent to 36 million tons in the 10 months

Goldman Sachs' Global Coup D'etat

... There’s one tie that binds Lucas Papademos in Greece, Henry Paulsen in the United States, and Mark Carney in the U.K., and that’s Goldman Sachs. All were former bankers and executives at the Wall Street giant, all assumed prominent positions of power, and all played a hand after the global financial meltdown of 2007-08, thus making sure Goldman Sachs weathered the storm and made significant profits in the process.

But that's just scratching the surface.

As Europe descends into an austerity-induced economic crisis, Goldman Sachs's people are managing the demise of the continent. As the British newspaper The Independent reported earlier this year, the Conservative technocrats currently steering or who have steered post-crash fiscal policy in Greece, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, and now the UK, all hail from Goldman Sachs. In fact, the head of the European Central Bank itself, Mario Draghi, was the former managing director of Goldman Sachs International.

Steadily – and stealthily – Goldman Sachs is carrying out a global coup d’etat.

Conspiracy theory... nothing to see here.

You really think it's just a conspiracy "theory"? Or are you being sarcastic?

Do you believe your lying eyes or do you believe what I'm telling you?

Just tell me what my eyes should see.

Rainbows and unicorns, nothing else. :)

I don't consider myself a conspiracy theorist, but I've noticed that every US general that is spoken of as a potential future President ends up with his copybook blotted.

Westmoreland, Powell, and now Petraeus.

Skills shortage constrains Norway's oil industry: study

* Demand for engineers could rise 40 pct in 2011-2016
* 84 pct of surveyed firms suffer from skill shortage
* Norway's engineer shortage could reach 8,000 by 2016

Norway, Europe's second-biggest gas supplier and the world's eighth-largest oil exporter, has struggled with falling output in recent years and needs to bring new fields online to boost production. ... Another big risk to the sector is the lack of spare capacity as delays, which are quite common, could have a snowball effect, impacting other projects in the pipeline.

To cope with the labour shortage, the oil industry, which makes up a fifth of the economy, is establishing engineering and manufacturing bases overseas and continues to move capacity away from the biggest cities, where unemployment rates are the lowest, the report said.

The ratio of foreign workers in the sector rose to 10 percent by 2010 from just 6 percent in 2003 and several sectors are in "fierce" competition to attract labour both from within and overseas, the study said.

Oil Pipeline from ND to Okla. Canceled

... Tulsa-based Oneok Partners LP announced Tuesday that the Bakken Crude Express Pipeline won't be built.

Oneok says the outlook for crude oil supply is robust but it could not get enough producers to promise long-term use of the 1,300-mile pipeline.

Oneok says the pipeline would have moved 200,000 barrels of oil from the Williston Basin in the Bakken Shale in Montana and North Dakota.

Nice find....

I thought the sky was the limit in the Bakken...

Key Words - "... long-term use"

Looks like Rune [and Rock, RMG, et.al] are right

Yep... that was my take...

S - Certainly not a positive note for the play. OTOH pipeliners are notorious for being conservative in their economic analysis. Wildcatetrs like westexas are forgiven for the occasional dry hole. Losing money on a pipeline project can ruin careers. And even profitable p/l projects can take 5+ years just to pay back the initial investment. Best to think of a p/l investment more like an annuity: make a modest return but do so for decades. Thus long term through put is critical. I've seen many p/l proposal rejected over the years for the same reason.

The Bakken is so yesterday:

The Cline Shale is the new top dog.


Hopefully Rockman will chime in about the glory of the Cline shale. Unless he avoids Midland at any and all costs....

Abandon hope of holding the temperature rise to 2 degrees; you will be lucky to hold it to 4. On the other hand the Pliocene (3 million years ago) was very nice and about 4 degrees warmer than now. Six degrees might be a bit much though.

Make sure the kids move up to at least 25 meters above current sea level. If you are under 30 you might want to make sure the next house you buy is above that level too. Property values for properly sited real estate will surely rise faster than for about to be submerged real estate. (tongue is in cheek, so hold the flames).

That brings up a point though. The State owns any land below the high-tide line. When your private land sinks under the sea, do you just lose out? Do you get bought out? Can you claim the loss as a tax write-off? Soon fortunes in Florida legal fees will be made settling those issues.

When the sea claims your house is it piracy, shipwreck, or property theft? Or is it negligence on your part?

It really depends on which state you live in, and the exact circumstances of the loss.

A Very Brief History of Sovereign Submerged Lands in Florida.

As documented in the supplied link, it's all subject to change. Me personally, I think the real estate tax rates would skyrocket as the area lands become near worthless in relation to all those county/city/school bond obligations requiring payment.

If by some special circumstances, I retained ownership of my deep water front house. The old foundation(8ft above MSL), would make a nice anchorage for a large catamaran(Boat) where I could live on it in a style similar to Boat people of Hong Kong. :-)

PVguy - Juts like th Eagle Ford and Bakken operators have been producing the Cline for decades. Just not very productive in the early vertical days. Likewise there are many dozens of other shale sections across the country that have produced hydrocarbons. Even most geologists wouldn't recognize the names of many of them. The story is rather hyped but that's normal. Everyone is looking for that sweet spot in every shale source rock in the country. West Texas is blessed with many thick sections of source rock shale. But you need more than that to make a commercial play. The Tuscaloosa Marine Shale has long been known as a major source rock and potential horizontal play. Devon, which is touting the Cline, made a big move into the TMS several years ago. After some initial excitement I've heard rumors that they've become much less excited.

But as long as prices stay up and the pubcos are desparite to add reserves the companies will keep poking every shale they can. Just think of it as another lottery. A lottery where the tickets cost tens of $million

Rock - Have gotten used to reading through your frequent typos etc... but gotta jump on this one, 'cause it's so great: Desparite - perfect name for the last geologic resource humans will vainly pursue... like the unobtainium from Avatar.

clifman - It's not just me. Geologists are known for being bad spelers. That's why I think we are selectively drawn to a science where you look at and lick the subject more than write about it

Rockman, I was a rock licker for years, now much of the Mojave desert is in my backyard.
Agate, jasper, jasp-agate, petrified palm, petrified iron wood, chalcedony roses, geodes, more.


The first known element, dirt (chemical symbol De), was characterized by Zog the Neanderthal somewhere in southern Europe before fire was invented. The second known element, ROCK (chemical symbol Rk) was discovered soon after.

Then along came Modern Industrial Man, who through his scorched earth policies has managed to create 'Desparite' (De2Rk3) a new completely useless and now infinitely available compound...

So does this pretty much disprove the IEA hype report? When it came down to betting real money on the massive Bakken oil growth, the money said "No" whereas there is no hard money riding on some agency report that doesn't really serve any purpose other than giving western politicians warm fuzzies.

This is consistant with a link I posted back in October that Enbridge was not going to size pipelines based on Bakken hype, but rather base their designs on more conservative numbers.


Apparently the pipeline companies have taken a cold hard look at the Bakken and decided that it isn't going to be nearly as big as many predict.

Sort of a Campfire question:

Powerball jackpot hits $550 million

I'm curious to know from TODers, if they were the sole winner of the Powerball lottery, what they would use the money for to make a difference.

After 2008, our small county shelved plans to build a new school, so, after stashing away perhaps $20 million for my own self-gratification, leaving +- $300 million, I would fully fund the new school and include all of the things that taxpayers would be unlikely or unable to fund:

Super-efficient design, PV powered and grid interactive (capable of functioning without the grid). It would have everything needed to function as community center/shelter for a reasonable time period in the event of natural catastrophe, etc..

Look into a facility-wide composting system (toilets, etc.)

Bring back agriculture and trade curricula. Build an adjacent sub-campus for sustainable agriculture open to the public (continuing education). Create a foundation to fund these programs in perpetuity (or for as long as possible). Get school kids and their family members to grow food for the school cafeteria and for sale. Green houses and aquaculture/aquaponics would be nice.

Include a library/archive loaded with actual books and other non-electronic media.

Bike trails everywhere...

Personally, I would buy as much adjacent property (to ours) as is available, and get a few goats. I would also insist that my home be exempted from property taxes in perpetuity. Hey, I bought 5 chances in 175 million. One can always dream...

I'd be dead inside of six months, tops.

I don't why I started laughing when I read this, but It would probably be the same for me. It would take to much time and to much bandwidth to list all that I would want to do with it.

Hey, I bought 5 chances in 175 million. One can always dream...

Ghung, I know I am not going to lose -- I didn't play.
A lot of good fun for those that like to play. Hope they keep the amount they spend on tickets within reason.

Best hopes for happy dreams.

Swiss bank account and no press releases. In following years, interesting things seem to happen of their own accord.

Don't forget to send TOD a little gift ;-)

If TOD ever needs more money, there's plenty swirling around it.

Ah, the lottery. A tax on people who are not very good at math.

A guy at work surprised me this morning with doughnuts, just what I needed as I had a hard night last night. He apparently is going to play the lottery tonight... hoping karma will smile on him.

You must have heard the one about the farmer who won the $100 million lottery. They asked him what he was going to do with all that money...

... he thought a while and replied, "guess I'll just keep farming until it runs out".


"A tax on people who are not very good at math."

Yeah, I told that to a woman I worked with a few years back. She spent $2.00/week playing the same numbers, and took home $14 million (after taxes) shortly after my "lecture". Couldn't have happened to a more deserving person.

"Tax on stupidity", the way I heard it.

Oddly enough, as a result of highly unlikely events and a lot of hard work and smart management by my son, I suddenly find myself, while not nearly as rich as all that, certainly non-poor. Since by some accident of birth I am also just about totally non-hedonic, I am free to spend this on something that does some local good re carbon reduction.

Plan at moment
-take my own household totally off carbon by all the obvious ways ( partially done already) and brag about it
-set up a business making and selling non or low carbon widgets, such as fridges, freezers, biomass gensets, all compatible with off grid PV systems.
-find some people who will be able to convince locals to take their investments off wallst and put them here on things like energy audit and retrofit.
-sell those other good patents I hated to write, take the money and keep going on the above until dead.

Smarter ideas welcome.

Ah, the lottery. A tax on people who are not very good at math.

It's $2 to dream about what to do with the money. It's no different than paying for any other sort of entertainment, and it's not terribly expensive.

The problem is that the poor are deeply sucked into the lottery. There is a huge chunk of the poor that spends 7%-10% of their income on lottery tickets. $25 from a $300 weekly check is not uncommon at all. Even a $2 ticket a week wouldn't be all that foolish; it's not like the poor don't deserve to dream or have fun.


My flip comment aside, I largely agree with you.

It does sadden me, however, to see people at my local corner store buying 10+ tickets every week, people that I know are just getting by...

If these folks have an internet connection - or go to their public libraries - why don't they just enter sweepstakes online? Free and the results are about the same - nada, but you can't win if you don't play.

An alternative I've heard to "The lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math" is "The lottery is the only socially acceptable way to tax poor people."

That's what it seems to boil down to...

Maybe the institution of a liquid-fuel tax should incorporate a lottery with better odds of winning. If the media was full of "carbon-tax millionaires" happening all around, it might actually be popular.

I'm not kidding, really.

Actually, that's a brilliant idea. I'm giving you full credit here. Mind if I steal it?

A bit of advice-- long life of sad experience leads me to shun even the slightest hint of creativity- severely bad for health and happiness. Always best to blame a good idea on somebody else.

By all means, I'll even help you use it. Drop me a short email at the address you get when clicking my screen name. I may have a few other tweaks to suggest for it.

Rap, rap. Would all you mathematical types here please pay attention for once? Your task is to structure an optimum GGG (generalized greenish gimmick). That is to say, a scheme maximizing D (desired result) by a proper proportioning of G ( possibility of personal gain) vs C ( certainty of personal cost).

And while you are doing this little job, which surely shouldn't take long, I will go back to my own natural assignment-- thinking about bike transmissions.

The same thing has been suggested for voting. Have every ballot confirmation receipt be a lottery ticket and give $1 million to the the lucky winner. That would definitely increase voter participation.

In other words, the GOP would absolutely oppose such an idea.

I'd move to Ghungville as soon as I could discard my crowded, run-down, high cost, California life.
But it's great to goto the beach in the morning and walk in the water, have lunch overlooking a sub-alpine lake in the nearby mountains, then watch the sun set behind desert sand dunes.
Who donates their time or money to local schools, parks, food banks and such? I'd support some local or national projects, keep the tax man at bay, and hide from my heirs....

I'd bankroll an eco-village

I'd keep maybe 10 million, 5 for myself, 5 for my own startup. Announce the rest as prize money for developing some future breakthrough battery technology or technologies.

It would be fun to have the job of CEO of your own charity -funded by the windfall. Id try to make it work through self-sustaining investments, I'd consider investing in PV powerplants, and using the revenue stream to fund projects. But, since I don't buy lottery tickets, its not likely enough to waste dreamtime on.

Ahem. So we agree that it's a tax. OK, how about structuring a similar tax to do something actually worth while that will appeal to the same people and cause them to shell out the same?

A hopeless task, but if we set the economists to working on it, maybe they will come up with something, and at the least, will be out of our way.

Meanwhile, back under my rock, I am toying with a scheme to get good people I know to volunteer to pay $10/gal of gas, and put the extra 6 in a fund for local carbon reduction.

Seems like it would be easier to just double the price. So, if you spent $50.73 to fill up, you would put $50.73 in the carbon reduction fund.

Easier math that way. Keep it simple.

OK, fine by me. Now to convince my friends. Maybe most compelling selling point would be math is simple, even they could do it.

Fine by me too. That is what they do in Norway.

The goal is to burn through the cash 'creatively' instead of just blowing it on the usual suspects.

A must read for Darwinian, and everyone else really. Nice to see reality being addressed quantitatively in a GSA science article.


It seems to me that peak oil should be mentioned in this article given that there is a section on overshoot, but a glance at the GSA corporate sponsor page is all the explanation I need as to why it's not.


but gee, it's only a theory, right?


Why Global Fuel Prices Will Spark the Next Revolutions

While the demonstrators that have mobbed the streets of Amman for two weeks now are demanding the overthrown of King Abdullah — a criminal offense in Jordan — it’s not the demand for democracy that sparked their protests. Instead, thousands of Jordanians have been spurred to act by a more basic issue: the rising price of gas after the government withdrew its subsidies. Jordanians are hardly alone in their anger. Governments across the world are attempting to wean their citizens off subsidized fossil fuels...

But fuel subsidies are becoming increasingly untenable as governments face mounting budget deficits in a weakening global economy, amid oil prices that have remained above $100 a barrel since 2010. Jordan lifted subsidies in order to secure a $2 billion IMF loan in the face of a $3.2 billion shortfall in a budget that devotes $2.3 billion annually to subsidizing fuel and other basics.

... Cutting fuel subsidies, however, will be a massive political risk to many governments — as the recent events in Jordan demonstrate. Indonesia dropped plans last April to raise gas and diesel prices by 33%, after thousands of people protested the move. Iran, which spent a whopping $82 billion on fuel subsidies last year, quietly shelved a plan earlier this year to raise gas prices, fearing that inflation could spark protests.

Last January, thousands of people in Nigeria — Africa’s biggest oil producer — fought deadly street battles with police after the government cut its fuel subsidies resulting in a doubling of fuel prices. After weeks of rioting, the government finally lowered the gas prices by one-third, leaving the cost about 50% higher than the previous subsidized price.

Preparing consumers to pay higher prices will be extremely difficult in the absence of any tangible benefit, says Mountford. “Once you have subsidies in place it is very, very hard to remove them.”

But fuel subsidies are becoming increasingly untenable as governments face mounting budget deficits in a weakening global economy, amid oil prices that have remained above $100 a barrel since 2010.

This is a case of a positive feedback in which a weakening economy reduces govt. revenue, in turn reducing funds available for oil subsidies, in turn further reducing economic activity. It's a clear sign of moving down the net energy ladder, in which those that can afford the higher price do fine, but those at the lower income levels suffer more. What we should expect to see is a weakening from the bottom up. Not a good time to be poor, especially as govt. budgets are strained to the point of scaling back social programs/entitlements which we will see a lot of in these upcoming fiscal cliff negotiations. One of which is to raise the retirement age to 70. Many more will become arthritic before retiring.

One of which is to raise the retirement age to 70.

In many ways that makes the problem worse as unemployment would go up.

Income and net worth test Social Security and Medicare. If you are worth $10 million and get $400,000 per year in investment income, you get neither.

Means testing requires a means test, means testers, and boards of appeal to hear challenges to the outcomes of the means test. That all costs money. You'd end up saving little and doing little good: the spending would shift from wealthy retirees to upper-middle-class bureaucrats.

A better, cheaper proposal: lower the cap on benefits. The poor get the same money at the same age. Well-off retirees would get lower benefits. No extra bureaucracy needed.

The real problem isn't Social Security, though. It's Medicare.

I agree. It's not something I'm advocating, but it was floated by the Obama Admin. to Boehner. Yes, not the other way around. And who is going to keep someone on the payrolls at 65-70 years of age? So they either live with relatives or they never make it to retirement. Maybe that's the idea, so many more 'permanently' retire.


Top Republican: Raise Social Security's retirement age to 70

...getting the retirement age to 70 is a step that needs to be taken."

Let's assume person A and Person B have the same background, IQ etc.
Person A makes 10mm and person B makes 50k - they went into different fields, accepted different risks and had different levels of luck. Both paid into social security and medicare.
Why does it make sense that person A, who probably paid more than person B does not get what s/he paid for whereas person B does?

My posts were not in relation to your question, so I'll let someone else reply.

First of all, social security at its inception was not meant as a retirement system but as a safety net. Over time though de facto it has turned into a retirement plan for many. (witness the extremely low personal savings rates and dollar amounts for median wage earners and below).
When social security was instituted the life expectancy of the average male was in the high 50's so as the retirement age was set at 65 the system was expected to be eventually self funding. However, as life expectancy started to creep up the notion of self funding went out the window and it became clear that either premiums would have to be raised and/or retirement age would have to be increased. increasing premiums was politially a whole lot easier than increasing the retirement age, so here we are...

Well I quess we just have to reduce the life expectancy back down to 50. Problem solved.

Yes, social security was intended as insurance - insurance against exactly the set of things we see today. The intent of social security was to keep old people from being reduced to dire poverty. The life expectancy was lower, but still most people that lived to 40 could expect to live past 65 - higher death rates at young ages distort the picture of life expectancy. Much more relevant was that the country had a growing population and economy, and lots of companies offered pensions... But Social Security was also very much a program designed to keep people out of poverty when those things failed. Well, we can say that those things have all failed. Pensions are mostly a thing of the past.

Frankly, I think there is plenty of money to keep the old out of poverty. Most of those calling for raising the retirement age are rich people who will never want for anything in their retirement. If our society's best response to issues is, "well, grampa, sorry about your bad knees and bypass surgery, but how about you work for another 5 years?" then our society is a failure. Especially in a time of record corporate profits and massive wealth and income inequality.

I wonder how well funded SS would be if they cut off the cap on the tax (which currently ends at $110k)? There is plenty of money there. It's just well shielded by the very rich, who are very good at protecting their own interests.

The relevant life expectancy is at age 65, not birth. In 1940, life expectancy at age 65 was only 3 years less than today for men and 5 years for women.. The SS age was raised to 67 already. The recent study of life expectancy shows a reduction in white men and women who have less than a high school education. That is 67 for men and 70.5 for women. The less educated are 14 years behind college educated men and 10 years for college educated women in life expectancy and this occurred between 1990 and 2008. Probably worse today.
Raising the age to 70 would hurt the less educated hard and transforming their contributions to the higher educated who on average live 10-14 yeas longer.

The proportion of people entering the workforce who make it to retirement age must be important. If for every person retiring two people were contributing, you could afford better social security.

Social security isn't really the problem, though. Most of its long-term problem is due to the "temporary" payroll tax cut enacted in 2008.

The real problem is that fewer and fewer people are working and paying taxes at all.


!. Person A likely made his fortune selling goods and services to Person B, or on Person B's back.

2. Person A doesn't need the money. In fact Person A needs Person B, and society at large, to get that money so Person B can keep consuming the things that make Person A rich. However, it's unlikely that Person A sees the benefits to himself when Person B remains above the poverty line, though I doubt people who own grocery stores complain much about food stamp programs.

3. From each according to... oh wait...

4. Social safety nets aren't designed for the poor. They're designed to keep Person B from burning down Person A's freakin' house.

They're designed to keep Person B from burning down Person A's freakin' house.

That's wisdom Person A will probably never have, as money controls political power influencing and implementing policy in favor of Person A, at the expense and eventual bad reaction of Person B.

Payroll taxes are capped at just over $100,000 income. The stock broker made that his first month and does not have to pay for the rest of the year. At least remove the caps if you are going to let them collect.

Capping contribution levels makes sense as long as payouts are capped (which they are). Capping payments with no cap on contributions does not seem to make sense.
I think you pay on anything below 110k, and the max you can get is about 2.5k/month.

in 2011 the top 1% earners got 16% of all income and paid 36% of all income taxes at an average (not marginal) rate of 24%.
I understand that there are cases in which reported income has little to do with cash flow received (think of somebody who owns a building which throws off 1mm in cash but depreciates at 1mm/year - s/he gets 1mmm/year but reports no income) but these my guess is that these situations are exceptions, not the rule.


Social security rules can be modified by Congress to whatever the public is willing to accept. That will have no effect on the budget deficit unless they change the basic rule that forbids FICA contributions to be considered as general revenue. I don't see that happening as long as most voters have a couple of functioning neurons.

The idea of increasing retirement ages involves issues that seem to have escaped attention. One of these is that there are many trades and professions where it becomes progressively more difficult to continue as one ages. This applies to many professional occupations, such as engineering, in addition to physically demanding types of work. With increases in the retirement age, the incentive for managers to find justifications for laying off older employees will become increasingly difficult to resist.

I have already encountered ageism. I'm 57, and apparently ready for the glue factory. Oh well.

The Republicans know their demographics. Raise the retirement age, and the poorer half of the country mostly won't live long enough to collect. Its just another way of insuring that the lions share of the booty goes to rich white men (and women).

Higher Gas-Tax Idea Joins Fiscal-Cliff Talks

With the US Federal Tax not being raised since 1993 it seems now might be a good time to raise it in light of the fiscal cliff. I wonder if they raise it how much they would increase it to from 18.4 cents per gallon. Any ideas of what it should be raised to?

Best hopes for a higher US Federal gasoline tax.

In a recent Exxon Mobil outlook they suggested a price of 60 dollars per ton of carbon dioxide. That is the same as 3 cents per pound of carbon dioxide and burning a gallon of gas with 10 % ethanol releases 17 pounds of CO2. I would suggest 51 cents per gallon.

I have read other estimates of $30 per metric ton of carbon which implies about $100 per ton of CO2 or 85 cents per gallon. In my opinion higher would be better, but starting at 50 cents with a 5 % increase each year until we reduce carbon emissions to less than European levels per capita would be a good start.

Carbon taxes on all fossil fuels at the well or mine would be a better approach, along with import taxes on goods from countries with no carbon taxes. This could be done by estimating total emissions of the country in question and determining carbon/ unit GDP, import tax is used to place a carbon tax on the imported goods.

As an example in 2010 $1000 (2005 dollars) of Chinese GDP caused about 2 metric tons of CO2 to be released (EIA data). If the US carbon tax rate were 110 dollars per metric ton then 220 dollars would be added as an import tax to every $1000 (2005 dollars) of Chinese goods imported.

No import tax would be imposed on countries who have carbon taxes on their own goods, it would be best if these rates (price per metric ton CO2) were similar worldwide.


I would suggest 51 cents per gallon.

dcoyne78, it seems like that suggestion would result in a reasonable increase.

Best hopes for a significant increase in the US Federal gasoline tax.

Let's start at ten dollars per gallon. It would be so much fun and interesting to see how to get around at that high price.

That's what occurred to me as well.

And y'know how to do it? Start distributing the revenues a year early by running the printing presses. The masses will get so hooked on the largesse that there will be a revolution if the gas tax isn't phased in on schedule in the second year, or ramped up over 5 years. That is, you link the longer-term tax to goodies they get in the short term.

Might as well use the same dynamics that get everyone in debt and buying vehicles they can't afford anyhow. Hell, you could damn near make it voluntary if the benefits started before the tax. Use the "future isn't real, high discount rate" fallacy as a feature and not a bug.

Not like they don't plan to inflate the dollar anyhow, might as well be creative about it.

We don't have an enlightened population of selfless ascetics. We've got what we've got, and they obey certain behavioral patterns. Use 'em or lose 'em.

just sayin'...

I like it. Benefits first- always good idea.

How to get around? Electric! PV. And


put that in the back of a pickup converted to electric drive. the pickup crawls around town hauling a trailer full of people who want to get around as the veggie oil-eating yanmar keeps the PV/batteries up.

Greenish for Pres! Oh, wait... with a platform like that, there'd have to be a plane crash or something...

Here in the Netherlands, it is actually $3.60 per gallon. People get around.

Yeah, "death and taxes" [in Europe]. :-S

There is no doubt that taxes on gasoline (or carbon emissions in general) could be raised, as they have been in Europe. I think starting small (like half a dollar per gallon) with planned future increases of 20 % per year are more likely to work in the US political climate. The problem is that it would take 14 years to get to $3.70 per gallon.

Starting at $1/gallon with a 20 % increase per year gets us $3.60/gallon in 8 years and with a higher 30 % increase each year we get to $3.70 in 6 years. I doubt this could be accomplished in the United States which is too bad.


While I completely agree that the gas tax should be raised (a lot) in the US, unfortunately, even 50 cents is not 'starting small', as a nickel has proven to be political suicide in this insane country.

I agree completely.

Maybe to sell the idea we need to remind people that the fuel tax was last raised in 1993. In 1993 the retail price of gasoline was $1.11/gallon (EIA data, regular unleaded). Total state and federal taxes averaged about 55 cents per gallon (I have assumed a 10 % markup on wholesale gas price to calculate taxes). The percentage federal tax on the underlying product (at 56 cents per gallon before taxes) is 18.4/56 or about 33 %. If we raise taxes to a similar percentage and then leave it as a percentage tax it would adjust for inflation.

In 2011 the average wholesale price of gasoline was 2.80 so a 33 % tax would be about $1 /gallon, if the state tax was done on a percentage basis at 1993 levels the average state tax would be about 67 %, so based on a 10 % markup on wholesale gas giving a retail price of $3.08/ gallon the total state and federal tax would be 100 % so gasoline would be $6.16 per gallon. Not quite $10 per gallon, but any rise in price to say 4 or 5 dollars before taxes would quickly get us to 8 to 10 dollars per gallon.

Had we raised the federal tax by 10 % every year since 1993, the federal gas tax would now be $1.12/gallon.

So I now revise my proposal to $1.10/gallon in 2013 with a 25 % increase every year until carbon emissions are under control, with an equivalent tax on all fossil fuels, imports and other green house gases. We would reach $4.20/gallon by 2019. This 2019 tax is equivalent to $495/ton of CO2.

After this discussion, my initial proposal starts to sound downright conservative. This second option (outlined above) would not happen in the United States, unfortunately we are not quite as evolved as Europeans.


...as a nickel has proven to be political suicide in this insane country.

clifman, it will be interesting to see if they raise the gas tax 5 cents. ...I guess it would be a start.

RE: Looking to Cities, in Search of Global Warming’s Silver Lining

Not much silver lining in the realm of reality:

More than 100 million people will die and global economic growth will be cut by 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change, a report commissioned by 20 governments said on Wednesday.

(Reuters, bold added). When this starts going down a lot of people are going to want to hurt somebody in some places, so it could be that oil company people will be the new targets of the wrath of foreign nations like this:

A U.S.-based Egyptian-American said to be behind the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" and six other Egyptian Christians were sentenced to death in absentia by a court in Cairo Wednesday.

The film, which insulted the prophet Muhammad, sparked violent protests and attacks on U.S. embassies across the Middle East when it was released in September.

(NBC). If just making a film that is anti-Mohammad is sufficient to bring a death penalty, what will global warming caused deaths of hundreds of millions bring?

Seriously, over 100 million by 2030 is one holocaust per year (5.8 million per year). Take cover.

Ironic that I happen to be listening to a congressperson who is saying how scary it would be if we fell over the fiscal cliff. But 100 million people dying? No problemo. I love this country.

Those two are related. We are facing a fiscal cliff because (among other things) the economy can't grow anymore, because of Peak Oil. Carbon emissions are so high because fossil fuels power our economy...

Ecology / economy ... all the same thing. Only economists dismiss ecologists, because they don't understand what their field of study is all about.

The U.S. economy can not grow like it used to because we lost a lot of our manufacturing. We need value added industries to create wealth, we can not all buy low and sell high. We need to turn iron ore into cars and sand into computer chips to add value.

Null Hypothesis,

Yep, the greek words that make up the english word "economics" is "oikos" and "nomos" ['oîko' ( s ) house + 'nómos' manager] ...

PS: Ecology is made up of 'oikos' and 'ology' meaning the study of the house, home, dwelling, abode ...

"Fiscal Cliff" is a silly name. At the end of the year, a number of tax cuts expire, and a number of federal spending cuts, spread 50-50 between defense and non-defense, automatically kick in. We return to the tax rates under Bill Clinton and cut the $3.8t federal budget by a whopping $0.1t. There will be no cuts to Social Security or Medicare. That's all the Fiscal Cliff is.

Agreed. Defense only gets cut by 10%. Just a good start.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I think the name of the "Department of Defense" was changed to make the expenses more palatable. It should be changed back to what more accurately reflects what it does, the "War Department".

Murdering people who insult the intolerant religion of Islam is a characteristic of Islam (Sharia Law).

It will bring nothing because those people will die in separate storms spread through out the world. For example, the death toll from hurricane Sandy has been reported as 110 people. No one is rising up in violent revolution against the evil oil companies. They whined about standing in long lines to fill their gasoline cans to power their generators. The storm killed the dumb people who did not get out of its way. Gee, let's do battle against the wind, rain and waves. Don Quixote did something like that with a windmill and wound up on his ass in the mud.

What will spark revolution is hungry bellies from famine.

To put an average death rate of 5.8 million people / year into context, the WHO states that 58 million people died in 2005 from all causes. From List of causes of death by rate in 2002:

5.7 million deaths from unintentional injuries
4.5 million deaths from HIV/AIDS
2.6 million deaths from intentional injuries (Suicide, Violence, War, etc.)
780,000 deaths from nutritional deficiencies


Yeah, for some reason the number one cause of injury death in the U.S.eh? is suicide in both civilian and military spheres.

The military kills more of itself than all those enemies do, as does the civilian realm.

Yet we spend more than the rest of the industrial nations combined on imperialist militarism "to protect ourselves from them", but very little by comparison to protect ourselves from us.

So, a holocaust a year isn't that bad, if you don't want it to be that bad. I wonder why the Jew Killer NAZI's used the "I was only following orders" (Nuremburg defense) instead of the "its not that bad compared to how many people died this year" defense? Bad lawyers I guess.

I suppose a valid question: Is 'Insanity' A Valid Defense To Ecocide? is still relevant because other nations are starting to rev up the court systems against the oil people and the Islam hating youtubers.

Some folks just don't like killing themselves and others as much as we do it would seem.

"Murdering people who insult the intolerant religion of Islam is a characteristic of Islam"

This is a characteristic of all fundamentalist religion, especially (but not exclusively) the "Big Father God" Abrahamic ones. Go read the old testament for the Jewish version (hint: Judges), or read up on the 30 years' war for the Christian one. Islam has tolerant movements (Sufism) and has had long tolerant periods. Christianity, similarly, is mostly in a period of relative tolerance but that is no assurance that the fundies won't at some point take up AR-15s (or whatever the equivalent is at that future time).

In WWII, Shinto and Zen were used by the Japanese state to support nationalistic militarism, nevermind that neither of them are particularly militaristic in doctrine. People can always find an excuse to kill each other.

This is very true. Look at Lebanon. They've been killing each other for a long time in the name of tribalism, and the Christians have historically been the biggest offenders.

I'm going to remind everyone that bashing entire groups of people - for race, religion, or whatever - is probably not useful, not accurate, and not welcome here.

People can always find an excuse to kill each other.

Someone said you don't need a god to make people kill people, but you need a devil. Meaning if you can black paint "the other" guys, we can rationalize killing them, religion or no religion. Now religion can easily be used to do so, but is not the only way.

Why Global Fuel Prices Will Spark the Next Revolutions

While the demonstrators that have mobbed the streets of Amman for two weeks now are demanding the overthrown of King Abdullah — a criminal offense in Jordan — it’s not the demand for democracy that sparked their protests. Instead, thousands of Jordanians have been spurred to act by a more basic issue: the rising price of gas after the government withdrew its subsidies.

Preparing consumers to pay higher prices will be extremely difficult in the absence of any tangible benefit, says Mountford. “Once you have subsidies in place it is very, very hard to remove them.”

Best hopes for peaceful elimination of fuel subsidies.

Riots Erupt Across Jordan Over Gas Prices

Late Tuesday, the cabinet again announced a drop in subsidies that would result in increases of 14 percent on prices at the pump and more than 50 percent in gas used for cooking, leading to what Mr. Adailah said were more than 100 demonstrations across the kingdom.

It seems surprising that a 14% increase at the pump would cause riots. There must be more at play...

i haz ben scanning the conundrum beat for a few weeks now but i see no mention of the giant sink hole in Louisiana. the only site that links to local events there is enenews.com. seems it burped up a bunch of oil. pundits say that if the vapor there ignites it wood be as if a fusion bomb went off. i red that the cavern is huge and collapse alone wood be a disaster.


lots of other links with events there. seems like we have set up around the globe all sorts of extinction level events. black swans are roosting all over.

but DARPA funds warp drive 100 year star ship research.

Well, you're not looking very hard. There is update just up the thread from your comment.


peak helium anyone?


"A shortage of helium caused by increasing demand in emerging countries including China and India is beginning to affect Japan.

Tokyo Disney Resort has suspended sales of Disney-character balloons, and at least one hospital has suspended use of magnetic resonance imaging."

No problem we can switch to hydrogen.

Blame it on those damn Macy's Thanksgiving Day Balloons ;-)

I'm fully in favour of filling those cartoon effigies with hydrogen. Could potentially spice up an otherwise interminably dull and pointless ceremony.

Especially since New York has forced all the smokers out onto the streets.

Along with "Peak Helium" comes "Peak Helium Denial".


New York City Sized Iceberg Set to Break Free in Antarctica

Back in February, NASA discovered a 19 mile-long crack in the ice of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier. The crack, if it continued to grow, looked set to break off an iceberg the size of New York City from the Antarctic’s western side.

NASA has since returned to the Pine Island Glacier for a series of observational fly-over missions named Operation IceBridge and have posted a video of their findings.

New crack discovered in Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier

I first thought NY was to be hit by a giant ice berg, and then I re-read it to see it was just an ice berg the size of NY. Disappointment of the month. It would have been awsome to see an ice berg crash into NY. Also massive disaster movie potential.

The iceberg would run aground long before it crashed into NYC due to 89% of the icebergs mass being under the surface of the ocean. Hollywood could make it work though!

PLus since Pine Island glacier is in the Antarctic, it would have to cross the equatorial ocean, then hitch a ride on the Gulf Stream. That would take some iceberg!

Trams without Wires

... As PRIMOVE vehicles are not limited to rail or a fixed route, its equipment can easily be fitted to road vehicles. A battery powered bus running, say, 250 kilometres per day requires a six or seven ton battery. Bombardier have calculated that if PRIMOVE is used for charging, only a one ton battery is required and that a single charge point, located at a central part of the bus network could, typically, provide 20 charges a day with no effect on the bus service. Charging buses in this way also extends battery life. Thus for minimal infrastructure investment, it could enable a city to operate a fleet of electric buses with the same performance as diesel buses.

There have been advances in autonomous vehicles, the buses could drive themselves and stop for charging periodically. More smaller buses running more routes mean less waiting time for passengers.

this all ties in with my idea of going to mars or titan to reclaim hydrocarbon there. i told you all that TOP men are working on it.

New Nuclear Engine Could Power Deep-Space Exploration
"Researchers have tested a small prototype of a nuclear-reactor engine design that could one day power deep-space exploration probes.

The proposed design is based on a Stirling engine – an engine first invented in the 19th century that uses hot pressurized gas to push a piston. It would use a 50-pound nuclear uranium battery to generate heat that is then carried to eight Stirling engines to produce about 500 watts of power."

be sure to read the comments of that article.

Advocacy group details how trucks can save by using natural gas

A natural gas advocacy group has developed a detailed formula to calculate how much trucking fleets would save by converting from diesel-fueled vehicles to natural gas vehicles.

The calculator, formatted as a spreadsheet, takes into account everything from financing terms to personnel training to state incentives for natural gas vehicles. It also uses fuel prices on an energy equivalent basis, with diesel running at a national average of $4.40 and compressed natural gas at $2.14 per diesel gallon equivalent.

For instance, the tool calculates that a fleet of 10 small delivery trucks that travel 71 miles a day would cost $72,543 each over their lifetime running on diesel. Their natural gas version would cost $50,072

Natural Gas Fleet Savings Calculator

Big rig long haul trucks can save $40,000 per year using LNG. There are more than 3 million of those rigs, so the more we convert the better off we all are.

S - I wonder how those economics look if they run the NG price between $10-$12/mcf as it costs during 2008? But I'm all for converting every vehicle in the US to NG. Anything that raises the price and gets me back to drilling my conventional prospects is great.

Rock - If When the $10-$12/mcf NG range returns diesel may well be in the $5-$7+ range, so the comparison may still hold water.

If you count carbon credits and aerosol reductions then NG would have a clear lead. [... If you had renewable powered electric vehicles it would be even better - but that's on a different planet]

S - In your example, at the extreme range, diesel goes up 60% and while NG goes up over 200%. How are these economics looking then? The huge Btu discount for NG looks great right now. When this has occurred in the past it has never held long term. It's that basic nasty feedback loop: use enough NG for transportation to be significant and you have supply/price problems with NG. If you convert enough vehicles fast enough (not likely IMHO) then diesel demand goes down and that price falls. No matter what the future brings this transport system would still depend on FF...a constantly depleting resource. As you seem to imply: perhaps a better use of capex lies with other energy sources.

Synthesize diesel using natural gas and over time use more gasified biomass. Natural gas could go to $1 per therm wholesale, but you can control the cost of biomass if you grow it yourself.

I doubt that you could find a farmer in the country that would agree with you.

If Exxon and ADM partner to grow and process biomass, they control the cost of production. They could even vertically integrate to produce the potassium and phosphorus that the Miscanthus requires. They certainly could control costs more than an unregulated natural gas market where investment banks can manipulate prices through money for nothing speculation.

You're dreaming. This is the Fantasy of the Industrial Age done large.. or as Dr. Malcolm said..

John, the kind of control you're attempting simply is... it's not possible. If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, uh... well, there it is. (Jurassic Park, not a REAL doctor..)

One of my favorite characters, the book is also a personal favorite. IMO, it's a book on philosophy, the dinosaurs are just a prop.

If Exxon and ADM partner to grow and process biomass, they control the cost of production. They could even vertically integrate to produce the potassium and phosphorus that the Miscanthus requires.

You're kidding right? Either you truly do not understand how the laws of thermodynamics underlie the costs in terms of energy of biomass production and how that energy is obtained and how it flows through ecosystems or you have some agenda or are getting a paycheck from somewhere that makes it impossible for you to acknowledge those realities.

Biofuels simply do not scale, ask Craig Venter. Exxon gave him a lot of money for research into biofuels from algae... and Venter is one of the few people on the planet who knows how to create completely synthetic organisms from scratch! Unfortunately even his ultra efficient synthetic organisms are unable to fool nature and get around the laws of thermodynamics.

I am not talking about algae. Perhaps you could enlighten us on your knowledge of thermodynamics and explain why biomass, natural gas and coal can not synthesize 10% of our liquid hydrocarbon transportation fuel. We look forward to your lecture.

I've have already given you a couple of links to the thermodynamics of ecosystems, it's the same general principles that also apply to the production of fuel from any sources of biomass. I cited the example of Craig Venter and algae because it is already backed by Exxon to the tune of $600 million for the research. Furthermore algae has a higher ERoEI than Miscanthus. Synthetically engineered algae supposedly even more so, at least according to Venter.

this is a big deal....another black swan, extinction event? fodder for nay sayers?

Workers raise 1st section of new Chernobyl shelter

"Workers have raised the first section of a colossal arch-shaped structure that eventually will cover the exploded nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station."

That sucker is huge. Cost more than a billion dollars.

I wonder if that is included in the cost of doing nucyular bidness?

Alaska's Columbia Glacier Should Stop Retreating In 2020

Warmer air temperatures triggered an increase in the Columbia Glacier's rate of iceberg calving, whereby large pieces of ice detach from the glacier and float into the ocean, according to lead author William Colgan of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.
A single glacier's contribution to sea level rise can "turn on" and "turn off" quite rapidly, over a couple of years, with the precise timing of the life cycle being difficult to forecast. Presently, the majority of sea level rise comes from the global population of glaciers. Many of these glaciers are just starting to retreat, while some will soon cease to retreat.

"The variable nature and speed of the life cycle among glaciers highlights difficulties in trying to accurately predict the amount of sea level rise that will occur in the decades to come," Colgan said.
The researchers found that around 2020 the terminus of the glacier will retreat into water that is sufficiently shallow to provide a stable position through 2100 by slowing the rate of iceberg production.

The speediness of the glacier's retreat is due to the unique nature of tidewater glaciers, Colgan said. When warming temperatures melt the surface of a land glacier, the land glacier only loses its mass by run-off. But in tidewater glaciers, the changes in ice thickness resulting from surface melt can create striking changes in ice flow, triggering an additional dynamic process for retreat.

The unfortunate thing is that poorly informed people might read the headline and conclude that because the glacier is expected to stop retreating that therefore global warming isn't so bad. In fact, the exact opposite is true. A tidewater glacier that rapidly retreats so far that its terminus is no longer floating is not a healthy glacier.

In responding to the Bill Powers interview on the shale gas bubble the Horn River News (B.C. shale gas hype) acknowledges that the production decline rates of shale gas wells is dismal and then weakly argues "So what".

Is the shale gas “miracle” over-hyped?

The key question here is what is the production life cycle of a shale gas well? It has always been know that this cycle is relatively short and dramatic compared to the longer production life of a traditional gas well. These life cycles differ between basins, whereby one basin may average longer production then another. It is not uncommon to see a production drop-off of 50% in the first 12 months of production in many wells. Numbers vary between basins and between wells.

Perhaps the EIA is wrong in their 92 year estimate, though their access to data seems to be quite extensive. There certainly are some variables including their usage of 2011 natural gas consumption rates their calculation and not predicting any increasing consumption rate over time. Either from economic growth, or increaseed usage of natural gas as part of the overall energy mix. Based on this alone one could resonable estimate that 92 years is not one hundred percent accurate. But with that said, predictions are never one hundred percent accurate and for this reason alone we know Mr. Powers calculations are likely off.

So if we took all the scientific calculations, and included Mr. Powers predictions we would like find a life span for shale gas between sixty and seventy years – about one generations worth of energy. Only time will tell who is right.

BTW, I still don't see why it makes sense to build the Coastal GasLink pipeline west to Kitimat to export North Eastern B.C. shale gas overseas, when guys like Bill Powers are arguing that we are about to see a spike in gas prices in North America. Which will impair the finances of a lot of Canadian and American households that heat with gas.

Furthermore, the starting point of the Coastal GasLink is Dawson Creek B.C. which looks as close to Fort McMurray and Edmonton as it is to Kitimat. Heading west to Kitimat requires climbing over steep terrain whereas the route east is relatively flat.

aws - Major capex projects like LNG facilities and regional pipelines require long term predictable pricing and through put volume. For instance all the overseas LNG projects I've seen built required a fixed contract price for at least 10 years but more commonly for 20+ years. And not just price but a guaranteed volume. I've seen more than one company go under because they couldn't comply with such contracts. Consider all the $'s Chenier spent to build an LNG import terminal in Texas and then not too many years later spent more capex converting to export.

Considering volatility of NG prices the last dozen years I find it truly comical to see folks who think they can predict NG prices 10 or more years into the future.

July 1999....$2
Mar 2000.....$10
Nov 2001.....$1.60
Mar 2003.....$7.50
Nov 2003.....$4.50
Dec 2004.....$7.00
July 2005....$6.00
Dec 2005.....$11.50
Nov 2006.....$4.00
Feb 2007.....$7.50
Oct 2007.....$5.00
July 2008....$12.00
Feb 2009.....$7.00
Oct 2009.....$2.75
Feb 2010.....$5.50
Oct 2010.....$3.50
May 2012.....$2.00


I take your point about volatility. NG prices are the poster boy for volatility.

But with Canadian NG production in rapid decline, and the shale gas producers "losing their shirts", it's hard not to conclude that the NG price will climb significantly. The question is when?

Edit: Another thought came to mind.

The other capex issue that applies to pipelines and LNG facilities that to me is being overlooked by these companies and investors is whether they will get the return on their investment given how soon and quickly we need to decarbonize our energy systems if we are to avoid the worst of climate change. We are supposed to be at zero emissions by 2040 if we leave the emissions peak until 2020. Are these companies being willfully oblivious to what addressing climate change will mean to their bottom line? I am sure some investors are happy to deny that climate change is not an issue, but there has to be some prudent investors out there who look at all the risks.


Well, people may slow down on drilling for NG but won't continued oil drilling create lots of extra NG by-product? Then again, if it is mostly flared off in North Dakota where there are no pipelines I guess it doesn't affect the market.

"But with Canadian NG production in rapid decline, and the shale gas producers "losing their shirts", it's hard not to conclude that the NG price will climb significantly. The question is when?"

Those of us in the PV industry are intensely interested in that answer as well. Nothing else can compete with natural gas when it's at these prices.

Andrew - you'll be sad to hear that no one I know anywhere in the oil patch is worried at all about voluntary decarbinizing. No one even use that term. The big question is where will find more carbon and what will it sell for and what cost to get it out of the ground. It's the volatility that scares the heck out if them.

It's only a few years since companies were proposing NG export facilities on the West Coast of BC, and now they are proposing NG export facilities. I suppose it has a lot to do with relative prices, and as Rockman notes, these change rapidly.

What they have to watch out for is the fact that there are huge amounts of stranded NG in Alaska, in the Canadian Arctic, and recent studies have determined that there are even bigger amounts of shale gas in nearby Alberta. With low NG prices, companies have put their Arctic and Alberta plans on hold, but if prices go up this NG will likely come on the market and cut into the BC companies profit plans.

I just thought I'd mention it so people are aware that there are huge amounts of high-price NG overhanging the North American market, and this NG may come on production if prices rise. There is really no such thing as "running out" of NG, it is just a matter of how much you want to pay for it.

"There is really no such thing as "running out" of NG, it is just a matter of how much you want to pay for it."

Even if that gas is used to make synthetic oil when it runs out?

Realistically, there is enough natural gas to produce as much synthetic oil as people can afford. The real question is how much synthetic oil can they afford?

Gas itself can be just as synthetic as the oil. Carbon-bearing fuel is not a necessary feedstock for hydrocarbon synthesis, only carbon and hydrogen (in almost any form) and energy are required.


Syria has been cut off from the Internet.

The internet has been cut off and mobile phones have been disrupted in Syria, monitoring firms have said.

Networking firm Renesys said the country's connection protocols were unreachable, "effectively removing the country from the internet".

The first reports blamed the government, but the government is blaming the rebels (or "terrorists").

Well, Georgia (and one more neighbour country I don't remember witch any longer) was cut off from the internet by an old lady. She was poor and went to a scrap yard to dig out some scrap metal to sell to scrap metal buyers. While digging with a hatch she uncovered a cable, and cut it off. It was a fibre optic cable providing internet for two whole countries. True story.

When I was nineteen a family friend worked for the Labourers Union and helped me get work on a pipeline construction job. The company had the contract to put in a 16" NG distribution pipe to a growing suburb. The pipeline had to cross under the main railway line between Ottawa and Montreal and the fibre optic cable that connected the two cities ran along that rail line. Before they could dig the deep trenches to bore the pipe under the tracks (couldn't dig up the tracks) the fibre optic cable had to be located. And that job fell to me, digging by hand. I had located copper wire Bell cable before but I had never seen fibre optic cable before. I figured I was looking for the kind of large diameter copper phone cable that I had been assigned to find before.

A few feet down, I took a good swipe at a 1 inch diameter tree root with my shovel blade and the shovel didn't even nick it. Setting up for the next swipe at the root I thought the skin of the root looked darker than most... made me pause.

Ottawa and Montreal were one or two whacks of a shovel blade away from being incommunicado that day.

British Telecom were very pleased at having installed a length of fibre optic between two towns in the UK. Lots of press fuss. A few weeks later the road authorities decided that it was about time to run a good length of armco along the main road between the same towns. Along came the post boring machine to run a line of holes for supports. The next day I have never seen so many BT engineers and managers staring into holes in the ground with forlorn looks on their faces. The borer had run a line of holes right along the cable.


PS Over here they have posts, at frequent intervals, to mark the cable and carry laser warning signs.

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations (0.4M pdf)

The ongoing political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa is changing the dynamics of long-running reform debates in the kingdom. The full effect of these events on the kingdom and on U.S.-Saudi relations has yet to be determined.

Succession arrangements have attracted particular attention in recent years, as senior leaders in the royal family, including the king, have faced health crises, and the deaths of two crown princes has raised questions about the transition to the next generation of the Al Saud family.

Current U.S. policy seeks to coordinate with Saudi leaders on regional issues and help them respond to domestic economic and security challenges. It remains to be seen whether U.S. initiatives and, more importantly, Saudi leaders’ efforts will ensure stability.

Recent Developments ..................................... 3
  Succession Issues and Leadership Changes .............. 3
  U.S. Security Cooperation, Assistance, and Trade ...... 5
    Security Cooperation: Arms Sales Move Forward 
    as Training Programs Continue ....................... 5
    U.S. Foreign Assistance to Saudi Arabia ............. 7
    U.S.-Saudi Trade and Oil Imports .................... 8
  Saudi Political and Economic Issues ................... 8
  Domestic and Regional Security Issues ................. 9
    Protests and Eastern Province Unrest ................ 9
    Reform and Women’s Issues .......................... 10
    Saudi Regional Policy .............................. 11
    Iran ............................................... 12
    Syria .............................................. 12
    Bahrain ............................................ 13
    Yemen .............................................. 13
    Israel and the Palestinians ........................ 14

200,000 UK Homes 'May Become Uninsurable' Over Flood Risk

Some 200,000 British homes could become uninsurable from next year due to flood risks unless a deal is struck with the government, insurers said Monday, as yet more rain teemed down on much of the country.

The Association of British Insurers is in talks with ministers about replacing a deal expiring next year which ensures people whose homes are threatened by flooding can get insurance.

After the Floods, We Must Rebuild Homes Differently

The recent UK flooding caused terrible damage and waste, yet many insurers insist that things must be put back as they were

Sustainable Cities Will Be More Resilient In Extreme Weather

Recent extreme flooding and storms have exposed the asset risks for non-resilient cities, and it is worth looking to China to see how investments are being made

Developing Cities Face Perfect Storm of Environmental Risks

A major report, "Future Proofing Cities," published today by Atkins in a unique partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID) and UCL, warns that cities in the developing world must act now against a perfect storm of environmental risks.

The report assesses the risks to cities from climate hazards, resource scarcities and damage to ecosystems – and advises how they can act now to future proof themselves. Covering 129 cities totalling 350 million people in 20 countries, this report identifies practical measures that cities can take to manage these future risks.

You can download the excutive summary of the report, request the full report or find more information at www.futureproofingcities.com.

200,000 UK homes may become "unensurable" over flood risk

It's not so much that they are "unensurable", it is just that the UK government does not want to subsidize it, unlike the US government which seems to enjoy being taken to the cleaners by homeowners who want to build in places where nobody should build.

As a general rule of thumb, they could do a flood map of the UK and prohibit anybody from building on a 100-year flood plain, and require special flood-proofing measures for anybody building on a 50-year flood plain. This is not really rocket science, flood maps are not that hard to draw up given the amount of historical data the UK has. If it has been flooded every 100 years in the past, it will probably be flooded every 100 years in the future.

Houses typically last for 100 years, so a house on the 100 year flood plain would be flooded once, on average, and one on the 50 year plain twice. It all depends on people's risk tolerance, but people live 80 years on average, and that might be the main consideration - how often they want to be flooded. It's somewhat subjective.

I had some thoughts on this when I was staying in the Burford Bridge Hotel, south of London. The water was rising, but it hadn't reached the hotel - yet. A month after I went back to Canada, the Bur River "burst its banks" as the Brits said, and the hotel was flooded - they had 6 inches of water on the main floor. Fortunately, I missed it, but the message I took away was - since the hotel has probably been flooded numerous times over the 500 years since it was built, why didn't anybody think about raising it a few feet? Bring in an engineering company (eg the one I was consulting for), put some beams under the floors and jacks under the foundation, and lift it. Not impossible, and not that expensive compared to repairing it over and over and over again.

They were also renovating parts of the hotel while I was there, and I noticed the walls were solid brick with no insulation. I observed that they could add some modern insulation while they had the walls ripped apart, but again this didn't seem to be an option despite their obviously sky-high heating costs.

There was a fundamental attitude gap between me and the Brits. They always said things like, "We have done things this way for 500 years." That seemed to be a good enough reason not to change, even though it could stop it happening for the next 500 years. Drastic change didn't seem to be an option for some reason.

200,000 UK homes may become "unensurable" over flood risk

Great typo! 'Ensure' means to make safe, those houses probably can't be made safe. Therefore, rest assured that the insurance companies no longer want to take the risk of insuring them >;-)

Then again they might build something like these waterproof microdwellings:

Ensure: prevent something bad from happening.
Insure: promise to pay money if something bad happens.
Assure: deny that something bad may happen.

To assure is not to "deny", it is to guarantee. And in commerce it's intimately related to insurance -- the difference is that insurance is against something unlikely, whereas assurance is against an inevitability, like your own death.


Just wondering if it's true that houses are built to last 100 years. Is there any factual basis for that? Is it just newly built houses that are built for that time frame? In my area, houses over 100 years old are all over the place and show now signs of falling apart. On the other hand, my mother lives in a house built about 15 years ago and it seems unlikely to see the next century.

Maybe in the UK it's true. Many homes in the US are built to last only 15 years or so. The reasoning? After that time, the people who live there will have surely upgraded to a larger, better house, and if not, they'll want to renovate the place. No one wants to live in last decade's house.

I take that as sarcasm. Actually, lots of people love older houses. Building longivity is affected by building codes, materials, assemblies and workmanship. Generally, any house with a good roof, flashing, gutters and sloped ground will last a long time; probably 50 years at least. Older houses, built before insulation, sheeting and films often last for centuries because the materials are of high quality and the framing can dry out. New homes, because they use new materials, must have careful moisture detailing to last.

It's not sarcasm. Yes, some people love older homes, and older homes are built much better than new ones. I'm talking about new homes, since the discussion was about building new homes.

We had a discussion here, several years back, after I posted a link to a story about the housing industry, and why they only build homes to last 13-15 years. The home building company, which was a fairly high-end one, actually said there was no point in building to last because fashions change in homes, just as in clothes.

Others pointed out that it is now impossible to build homes like they used to. The dense, hard old forest timber is gone, and the fast-growing trees provided by tree farms aren't as strong.

This is true. There are ways to grow trees faster. Old time lumber mill workers complain about the spruce (it is always spruce in Sweden) is watery. They did not use to be like that in the past. Softer and weaker.

On a side note, I don't know why people are planting spruce at all. They have a 70 year harvest cycle, and long before 70 years have gone, climate change will have made the territory unsuitable for spruce. None of those plants planted this year will be harvested.

15 years is an exaggeration but US consumers do have an irrational preference for new homes. New homes are cleaner, won't have deferred maintenance, and will be up to date with the latest code requirements . . . but then can be pretty crappy in a lot of respects. They often do the very minimum to satisfy codes, insulate, strength, etc.

In the UK houses built 100-200 years ago can be quite sound though it does depend on the builder. I have seen brickwork that defiantly shows 'before pub' and 'after pub' features. However, post WWII it has been a trend to building to survive the mortgage period which was typically 25 years. 60's housing getting distinctly dodgy in the 80's.


100 years is just a rule of thumb. A well-built house will last 100 years on average. If it is enthusiastically maintained, it will last indefintely - there are wood-frame houses in Europe which are over 500 years old, and I have seen wooden churches which were over 1000 years old - although the fine woodwork had probably been restained 500 times and the roof replaced 20 times in that period.

OTOH, a poorly-maintained house can disintegrate in only a few years. Wood rots, but if you stop it from rotting, it doesn't.

Good spot to toss something in that I was planning to add to the discussion...

All About Wall Rot

If your wall sheathing is rotten, the first question to answer is: where did the moisture come from?

Martin Holladay, GBA

Contractors who specialize in repairing rotten walls won’t run out of work any time soon. The epidemic of wall-rot problems that began more than 20 years ago shows no signs of abating. In fact, wet-wall specialists are often called to investigate problems in developments where most of the homes have rotting walls — and in some cases, these homes are only six years old.
OBS is a good material, but only if it stays dry.
Because this window was improperly flashed, the wall sheathing got wet.
It doesn't take long for wet OSB to turn to compost.

Used to work as a framing carpenter, and from my residential construction experience I don't have any doubt that there a lot of homes in North America whose exterior walls are "turning to snot".

And that's leaving aside the discussion about how poorly insulated and air-sealed these homes are.

People won't pay extra for a properly built home. In my view, the "gold standard" would be ICF (insulated concrete form) construction. An ICF form consists of two layers of closed cell insulation separated by an air gap into which concrete is poured. The result is a wall with R40 insulation, no thermal bridging and no air leakage. Our friends who have built several well insulated houses, including one with ICF, complain bitterly about our cold 1960's house when they visit us in the winter.

I used a type of ICF on my house. I wouldn't do it again. the stress and hassle of managing a concrete pour just isn't worth it. You can build houses using a variation on conventionally framed lumber that can give you far higher whole wall R-values with much less air leakage and hassle than an ICF framed house.

There's lots of info at GBA, this is a start.

I always wish I had built my house by using the same concepts that Thorsten Chlupp used on his Sunrise House. Leaving aside the solar PV and solar thermal, the house structurally is for the most part a conventionally framed house.

The key is that the insulation is on the outside of the structural wall. And it is continuous with the insulation in the attic, which is really important.

If you understand the details (leaving aside the mechanical components) Chlupps house is really straightforward. The only requirement for a builder to build a house as energy efficient and comfortable as the Sun Rise house is to give a damn. Which is unfortunately uncommon.

Houses in my Victorian neighborhood were built well over 100 years ago since 1869 and will probably last another 100 years easily. My own foundation is made of rocks 3 feet thick and structurally it is incredibly solid.

Even though a huge majestic oak crashed into the roof of a neighbor's house
the house is standing although my neighbor is having it checked for cracks.

Just wondering if it's true that houses are built to last 100 years.

My sister lives in a 220 year old house in a little village in Germany and her house is one of the newer ones.
Some of the others have little plaques on them, I saw one that was built around 1480 and these are house that are being lived in today... sure they have been upgraded and have all modern conveniences but the structures still stand.

Best hopes for a non throwaway world!

There are plenty of old colonial houses in New England, 200 years old and older.

In the town I grew up in, Milford, CT, which was founded in 1639 (they hived off from those heretical devils in New Haven, who hived off from the heretical devils in Hartford, etc. etc., all the way back to England I guess!), there are a handful of 300+ year old houses. These have little plaques on them - indeed, they are pretty much museums.

Small world. I'm across the river in Stratford, CT.

Hello Stratford! I was just fishing for Blues with my brother (who still lives in Milford) a couple of months ago in the Sound and over to the Housie. I live in NH now, but get down your way 2-3 times a year.

It has changed a lot, but in some ways not so much, since my good ol' days in the 60's and 70's.

Blues were biting pretty good in August off Bond's dock - lotsa bunker. The dock took a bit of a beating from Sandy though.

If your ever in the neighborhood let me know.

Lotsa bunker indeed, right into September - it was effortless to snag a bucketload on our way out of the harbor to the Barber Pole (the 'B' pole for the sailing races) off of Charles Island, our favorite spot these last many years. Roped a couple of beauties - what a fish!

I'll bet Sandy has rearranged things a bit. I'll give you a hello next time I'm headed down that way - I meet way too few TOD'ers...

Many houses in the UK were built to last, because it was dumb not to. No point in having to build the same thing twice with all the associated waste and cost. But that was of course before building and replacing the same thing infinitum became vogue, so trashing your assets, smashing your neighbours window and consuming non-nutritional foods became economically "de rigueur" to boost GDP.

My house in the UK, which was over 100 years old, was beside the river. When the river once reached my doorstep I got the message and sold it. I always remember the Environment Agency chap saying that he would need to release the water upstream to save peoples homes - and flood mine. Luckily he didn't have to release the water that time, but given what I knew of climate change, it was enough to get me outta there.

Flooding in the UK is now becoming the new normal. Why insure homes that are going to be flooded over and over again? Can't blaim the insurance companies or the Government for not wanting to.

As a general rule of thumb, they could do a flood map of the UK and prohibit anybody from building on a 100-year flood plain, and require special flood-proofing measures for anybody building on a 50-year flood plain. This is not really rocket science, flood maps are not that hard to draw up given the amount of historical data the UK has. If it has been flooded every 100 years in the past, it will probably be flooded every 100 years in the future.

Houses typically last for 100 years, so a house on the 100 year flood plain would be flooded once, on average, and one on the 50 year plain twice.

Don't you mean the other way around? The 50 year flood plain is a subset of the 100 year flood plain, is it not?

If they were prohibited from building in the 100 year flood plain they would also be prohibited from building in the 50 year flood plain.

You're correct. Flood-proofing measures would be in greater and greater need the lower the number-year of your floodplain. A 50-year floodplain would flood (theoretically) twice as often as the 100-year floodplain.

Your last sentence is also correct.

Of course lots of places in the west don't even have 100 years of record, which makes estimating the 100-year flood a bit tricky. You should probably have about 500 years of record to have any confidence in estimating the 100-year flood.

Add in some climate change, and well, who knows?

You're right, I got it backwards. Prohibit people from building on the 50 year flood plain, and impose special requirements for building on the 100 year flood plain. These are just the guidelines I am used to.

It depends on how much risk tolerance people have. Since people seem to develop less risk tolerance after they are flooded than before, there is something to be said for prohibiting them from building on the 100 year flood plain as well.

You can count on people demanding the government "do something" to help them after they are flooded, even if they knew the risk was there, so the rules should be fairly rigid. The public will inevitably get stuck with the costs after a flood.

I'm a professional hydrologist, and as far as I'm concerned, if you're building in the 100-year flood plain, you are building in the river. Yes, most times it's dry. But the river owns that. You don't own that.

ZERO sympathy for flood victims living in the floodplain.

EDIT: to temper my remarks in view of 1) my previous comment about us not really knowing what the 100-year floodplain is, and 2) the other thread about old houses (which may have been built back in the day before we knew where the floodplain was). So, flood victims on the floodplain can have some of my tax dollars, BUT they have to relocate to higher ground. Under this plan, theoretically, in 100 years there would be no one left on the 100-year floodplain.

I'm still really against giving money to rebuild in known hazard zones. I think this could fairly apply to barrier islands as well.

You're not going to like it that the government rebuilt our riverbank for us last summer. I don't think the house is in the "100 year event" floodplain but it's a couple hundred feet from the river. My mom bought the property about 6 years ago. It's from the 1940's. But previous owners made the brilliant move of cutting down a bunch of trees on the cut bank, which is our side of the river. So every year since we bought it the bank was eroding. We lost 5 m of property, and the big old cedar tree just below this was threatening to become part of the river. The summer before last the river made a real mess of the highway bridge just upstream so the government came in and fixed all that up. Then this summer they came and did ours. We donated a few thousand bucks to the local salmon hatchery as part of the deal. It was like winning the lottery.

The problem is the pineapple express rainstorms we get in November that dump crazy amounts of rain, the ones that are now drenching California. Plus the land up the mountain is privately owned and they recently logged most of it, so the river really swelled up in the last few years.

And it turns out we also own 50 feet of the opposite bank!

Years ago I had a student job with consultants in London. They had to determine the 100-year flood line for an area out in the country, and went around knocking on doors asking oldest residents the highest floods they could remember, checking for high-water marks on bridges and culverts, examining reports in local newspapers etc. When I commented that didn't seem very scientific the engineer replied that without many years of accurate records it was all just guesswork anyway and they had to do the best with what they got.

I had huge faith in South Africa's CSIR which produced rainfall intensity-duration curves for 1/20, 1/50, 1/100 and 1/500 year floods for all parts of the country.

Until my first posting as an engineer to an irrigation scheme where they showed me a newly-built earth dam that had just been overtopped. Designed to a 1/500 year flood, and with an absurdly large (to my eyes) concrete spillway, the flood waters came over the dam wall a meter deep. The only thing that stopped the dam from washing away and destroying valuable farm land was the grass planted on the downstream slope, which the water bailiff who lived nearby had made it his mission to establish, often watering by hand in his own time. The grass was still plastered flat against the ground in the direction of flow when I saw it, and the missing clumps that had been ripped out showed just how close to a tragedy it was.

Indeed. Very large floods (like 100-year floods) can be mind-bogglingly big.

Here in Northern California there is a high water sign along Hwy 101 to mark The 1964 Flood. It's about 10 feet above the highway. But on the other side the Eel River is like 100 feet below. And the valley is pretty wide. To imagine the water filling that valley up to the level of the sign... it just boggles the mind.

(Of course, with only 122 years of record, it could have been a 100-year flood, a 500-year flood, a 1000-year flood, who knows? And now climate is changing, so we will basically never know.)

RMG - ... This is not really rocket science, flood maps are not that hard to draw up given the amount of historical data the UK has.

There's the rub. "Historical data" is becoming less and less useful [reliable]. What was once a hundred year event is now a 12 year event; in a decade it will be an every 2-3 year event. This is a moving baseline.

I disagree. A hundred year event is still a hundred year event. However, there is nothing to stop events from clustering. Some cities have had three 500-year floods in a row. Statistically speaking, there's nothing to prevent it.

In fact it would be very rare to have 100 year floods 100 years apart. It's statistically improbable.

Rock. If you used historical records to size a hundred year event, and the climate has changed significantly, it is no longer a hundred year event. True the new climate also has hundred year events, but this are a lot larger than the hundred year event sized from the historical record. We just don't have a good handle on how much larger hundred year events currently are (and more important will be). So the best we can do is educated guesswork.

I can predict what the climate here would be under global warming by looking at the geological record, which goes back millions of years and includes episodes of both extreme global warming and global cooling. These were much more severe than anything now predicted. They could do the same in Britain because they have extensive geological knowledge of their history.

However, there is nothing to stop events from clustering

No there is, the weather is not a random number generator, it has an underlying process, it's a chaotic system but it's not random, it follows a pattern however obscure. All real life systems are like that, unlike theoretical statistics. If there is a such a large departure from pattern it indicates a problem. Three anomalous events in a row are more concerning than a single 'thousand year event'. I believe this paper on extreme weather events by Hansen et al. would answer your doubts.

If your A+ kid gets three C- in a row would you call it an 'insignificant cluster' ? I would definitely investigate it and so would the teachers.

That is correct, and very relevant. The weather is a chaotic system and not truly random. If there as a 100 year flood one year, there is a greater than random chance of having a 100 year flood the next year.

Calgary, where I lived for years, had three 100-year floods in the 1890s. During one of them, the Centre Street Bridge was swept away with the Mayor and the City Engineer standing on it (they both swam safely to shore). They haven't had another 100 year flood since, but they keep planning for one.

It's not just the changing climate. It's also land use patterns. Over time more areas get paved over and more vegetation removed, which tends to increase the intensity of floods.

The town where I live now has stopped paving streets from sidewalk to sidewalk - they only pave the driving lanes, and has bylaws against unnecessarily removing vegetation. The downtown area is on a 100-year flood plain, a fact which I never fail to remind them of at planning meetings.

I personally am several hundred feet above flood level, so I feel relatively secure where I am now. When I lived in Calgary, they had a 50-year flood on the river below me, and I was able to sympathize with the (very affluent) people rescuing their expensive but soggy possessions from the perspective of my modest home on the cliffs above. It was a learning experience for all of us.

There is definitely a shift in the way floods are occurring in the UK - a number of them are now not overflowing rivers etc, but a sudden accumulation of surface water on streets and roadways the drains can't handle. Maybe a result of over-concreting the land surface, but...

And communities which have lived with high rainfall and rivers for 100s of years are now overwhelmed by sudden torrential downflows - Cornwall and Cumbria have seen this.

Also, we put in flood defences in places for the 100 year event - and they are now being overtopped. Exeter last week, for example.

The insurance I think would have been fine if the old pattern had kept up - its the frequent extra claims which are wrecking it. The fact we're having the 'uninsurable' debate flags up the change.

You have us bang to rights on the not changing stuff thing... I have no idea why we're like that. I should say that many old buildings are by the water because that's where they needed to be for transport and trade before the railways. We'll be needing the watermills again soon...

(Somewhere we have a house continously inhabited since 1066 at least)

Unfortunately many Railways are also on lower ground close to waterways as it parallels old trade routes but also it is lot easier to build on flatter ground. MetroNorth and Amtrak Rail are only a few feet above the Hudson. This makes for a beautiful scenic ride just next to the wide Hudson with the Catskill Mountains across the way but it will be perilous in the future.

Of course Hurricane Sandy flooded Hoboken and the Meadowlands major Railyards for NJ Transit as they stupidly left trains in a swamp and known flood risk instead of moving them to higher ground. And this is just the beginning of sea rise and Climate Change flood surges!

Storm sewers are typically sized for a 30-year or 50-year storm event, not a 100-year one. It's just too expensive to oversize the pipes. That brings up the question, "What happens in a 100-year flood?" It's a question people should ask when buying a house.

I remember an a friend of mine in Calgary who bought a house on the 50-year flood plain, and in fact I had seen a 50-year flood in his neighborhood - it turned into a lake. He knew nothing about this, and never experienced a 50-year flood. However, they built a number of subdivisions further from the river than him, and one night they had a 30-year storm event. The storm drains ran down his street, the manhole cover in front of his house blew off, and he had a 3-foot high fountain of water in the middle of the street. His entire area was flooded.

However, his basement windows were far above street level, the back-water valve on his sewer stopped water from backing up into his basement, and he had no water problems at all. He thought he was extremely lucky. I explained that luck had nothing to do with it. His was an older house built shortly after they had three 100-year floods in a row, and the builder was probably highly aware of what could happen and designed the house to handle it.

However, the reason they had three 100-year floods in a row is believed to be because companies logged the watershed upstream from him and removed the natural vegetation. Some years later the government prohibited logging in the watershed, and the problem seemed to go away. Not the problem with storm sewers being overloaded, though. That's more a problem with the real estate developers.

New from U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO] ...

Significant Changes Are Expected in Coal-Fueled Generation, but Coal is Likely to Remain a Key Fuel Source

Coal is a key domestic fuel source and an important contributor to the U.S. economy. Most coal produced in the United States is used to generate electricity. In 2011, 1,387 coal-fueled electricity generating units produced about 42 percent of the nation's electricity.

... Two broad trends are affecting power companies' decisions related to coal-fueled generating units--recent environmental regulations and changing market conditions, such as the recent decrease in the price of natural gas.

Regarding retirements, forecasts GAO reviewed based on current policies project that power companies may retire 15 to 24 percent of coal-fueled generating capacity by 2035--an amount consistent with GAO's analysis. Coal-fueled capacity may decline in the future as less capacity is expected to be built than is expected to retire.

According to stakeholders and three long-term forecasts GAO reviewed, coal is generally expected to remain a key fuel source for U.S. electricity generation in the future, but coal's share as a source of electricity may continue to decline.

Available information suggests that the future U.S. use of coal may be determined by several key factors, including the price of natural gas and environmental regulations. EIA assessed several scenarios of future fuel prices and forecasts that coal's share of U.S. electricity generation will fall to 30 percent in 2035 if natural gas prices are low or 40 percent if natural gas prices are high.

EIA forecasts that two hypothetical future policies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector by 46 percent and 76 percent would result in coal's share of U.S. electricity generation falling to 16 and 4 percent in 2035, respectively.

Full Report

Dropping water levels affect Lake Ontario, Irondequoit Bay

The bay, which flows into Lake Ontario, is a local manifestation of a larger problem. The Great Lakes, the world’s biggest freshwater system, are shrinking because of drought and rising temperatures, a trend that accelerated with this year’s almost snowless winter and scorching summer. Water levels have fallen to near-record lows on Lakes Michigan and Huron, while Erie, Ontario and Superior are below their historical averages. The decline is causing heavy economic losses, with cargo freighters forced to lighten their loads, marinas too shallow for pleasure boats and weeds sprouting on exposed bottomlands, chasing away swimmers and sunbathers.

No mention of global climate change, just a newsworthy story.

International Energy Agency chief economist discusses the future of fossil fuels, curbing greenhouse-gas emissions

Fatih Birol, chief economist of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, is the lead author of an eye-catching new report projecting that the United States will become the world’s leading oil producer within a few decades. He is often called on to brief high-level political figures on energy issues — including briefings last year for President Barack Obama, among other leaders, on the implications of America’s boom in natural gas.

Birol will speak at MIT about the new report on Wednesday, Nov. 28. MIT News spoke with him in advance of this appearance to ask about the world’s energy outlook.

Lecture on Thursday, November 29, 2012 The Profits of Power: Energy Relations Between Russia and Europe

Study: 'Fugitive' methane from shale gas production less than previously thought

Using industry data, researchers conclude that more emissions are controlled by field practices than assumed in other studies.

In talking with industry representatives and officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), O'Sullivan and Paltsev found that companies are already capturing about 70 percent of potential "fugitive" emissions.

Whether it's coal, nuclear, oil, or NG; MIT can be counted on to parrot the industry consensus because coal, nuclear, oil and NG fund the studies.

There is no evidence in the study that suggests that they actually measured anything - they just took the industries word. They wouldn't lie, would they?

We got your oil & gas right here ...

Using IRAM's 30m-telescope, Astronomers Find Indications for Vast Petroleum Reservoirs in the Horsehead Nebula

The Horsehead Nebula, 1,300 light-years from Earth, is located in the Orion constellation

... In their current survey, the scientists were able to detect 30 molecules in the region, including many small hydrocarbons, the smallest molecules that compose petroleum and natural gas. The researchers were surprised by the unexpectedly high levels of hydrocarbons. "The nebula contains 200 times more hydrocarbons than the total amount of water on Earth!", said astronomer Viviana Guzman.

Maybe MIB was on to something ...

... gives new meaning to the quote from Men in Black:
Agent J: ... the galaxy is on Orion's belt.
Frank the Pug: That galaxy is the best source of subatomic energy in the universe. If the Bugs get their slimy claws on it, kiss the Arquillians goodbye! ;-)

I'm sure Maugeri has this included in his "Oil: The Next Revolution, Reaching For The Stars".

Maybe that's where Kolob's located?

fun! amazing! insightful!


"Renowned artist Christo plans to create the world's biggest and most expensive sculpture in the Middle Eastern desert built from recycled materials." (made of 55 gallon oil drums)

well, here it is just as i predicted:


"November 29, 2012
Mars Rover Curiosity Working At 'Matijevic Hill'

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, well into its fourth month on Mars, will work for the next several weeks or months at a site with some of the mission's most intriguing geological findings yet.

The site, called "Matijevic Hill," overlooks 42 mile-wide Endeavour Crater. Curiosity has begun investigating the site's concentration of small spherical objects reminiscent of, but different from, the iron-rich spheres nicknamed "blueberries" at the rover's landing site nearly 22 driving miles ago (35 kilometers).

The small spheres at Matijevic Hill have different composition and internal structure made completely of plastic."

we will go there and get that juice. bet on it. there is no limit to human greed and blah, blah, blah....

Eh . . . that site is apparently a hoax. :-(

"http://nasaupdatecenter.us/" . . . that is not JPL.

I think the site is an aspect of science denial. NASA bashing is a big Tea Party pastime. Space articles garner comments crying Useless and Fake just like science articles sprout ads for God.

Here are pictures of planned cities as seen from above: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/11/planned-cities-from-space/?utm... . (Palmanova, Italy is interesting: "This nine-pointed fortress is perhaps the best example of a planned city from the Renaissance. ... Sadly, nobody was willing to move there.")


Simulated brain:

Sure enough... that domain is exactly one week old. And its registrant information is totally bogus:

Registrant Name:                             Xavier Jenks
Registrant Organization:                     NASA
Registrant Address1:                         PO Box 791633
Registrant City:                             Cape Carnival
Registrant State/Province:                   FL
Registrant Postal Code:                      666666

Definitely not the real NASA, so don't believe a word they say.

Not only that, but the first two paragraphs are lifted from a 2-month old JPL press release:


Frustrating. NASA does not indicate what type of plastic.

The small spheres at Matijevic Hill have different composition and internal structure made completely of plastic.

This means the interior of these little 3 mm spheres is plastic but not the exterior.

The type of plastic sampled as we know so far can only be formed using petrochemicals, meaning not only that there could possibly be a source of oil on the Red Planet, but that somehow it got turned into plastic. Even more interesting is that oil or petrochemicals used to create this type of plastic are only known to come from ancient fossilized organic materials, such as zooplankton and algae, which geochemical processes convert into oil pointing to the earthshaking evidence that there was once life on mars.

This statement is not verifiable because NASA does not state the type of plastic. I am guessing this is hype to attract attention.

Curiosity is in a meteor impact crater, Gale crater, that is 155 kilometers wide and created 3 billion years ago. There was pressure and heat from that impact that could create all sorts of exotic things.

If they discover a fossilized SUV we'll know it wasn't intelligent life.

"Plastic" has a number of different meanings.

7. Physics Capable of undergoing continuous deformation without rupture or relaxation.

I think that's probably more or less what the scientists at NASA had in mind. The scientifically illiterate babbleheads in the MSM have gone well beyond that, as they usually do.

TPTB have won:

"Fiscal Cliff" trending

"Fiscal cliff" coverage/debate: genuine public concern, exercise in Bernaysian mind-control, media-generated fear tactics (increase viewership), or preparing the public for a decision that has already been made?

Media coverage of the "fiscal cliff" debate has reached levels beyond ridiculous. In pure "Shock Doctrine" fashion, it would not be a far-reach to suspect the tried & true fear assault in an attempt to keep television viewers peeled to their screens and the advertising dollars rolling in. But the media onslaught has become so relentless (levels of unprecedented absurdity), it is becoming more and more difficult to accept anything other than the public is being prepared for the inevitable decision to let the tax cuts expire. Desensitized brains (limbics) will be less likely to dissolve into panic and chaos once properly oriented. There is the added benefit that, by continually parading congressman in front of cameras to show that both sides are unwilling to compromise, neither party can be scapegoated; or shall I say either party could be EQually scapegoated.

I proposed this to one of my neighbor's yesterday. He agreed that the coverage seemed excessive, but was more willing to blame it on the WH and their attempts to divert attention away from Benghazi/Sandy Rice.

Isn't there a well-known saying about opinions? ;)

Feel free to delete. Not sure how this relates to energy other than that market collapse would definitely reduce energy demand and impact energy investment.

It's related to energy because energy limits stopped "economic growth", thus leading to a debt bubble, financial crash, bailouts, and now a fiscal and government debt problem. It sounds like you think the tax cuts should be extended. If they were, the underlying problems would keep growing and a future "cliff" would be worse. At some point "extend and pretend" is going to fail. I am not sure what is the best policy, but we will have to somehow live within our means, as limited by nature. If there is any "shock doctrine" happening here, it's the attempt to cut "social spending" even deeper so as to save the military/industrial welfare system. In other words, keep the US empire going for a bit longer. The British were a lot wiser back in the late 1940's, they folded up their empire without a fight, and established a national health care system.

Thanks for taking the time to respond vtpeaknik. I do not disagree that bubbles, leverage, debt, etc. will ultimately fail. I also agree that we are limited as a civilization by our abilities to mine and extract finite resources.

It sounds like you think the tax cuts should be extended.

My post was not concerned with the actual decision, but trying to understand the socio-manipulative dynamic behind the extensive media coverage.

If we assume that the politicians have come to the same conclusion as yourself, they would realize the tax cuts need to expire. So in essence, they have already made the decision. If this is the case, in order to soften the blow, they ramp up the media blitz to first inform the public. Based on the Google trending, the public now has some idea what the fiscal cliff is. Goal 1 achieved. Goal 2 would then be to attempt to undermine the perceived disastrous outcomes of the cliff. Convince the public that expiring tax cuts wouldn't really be that bad after all. So in Goal 1, fear is used to grab everyone's attention. Once you have everyone's attention, Goal 2 is to convince them it won't be so bad.

Useless fodder I suppose. The reason could be much less exciting. The elections are over. Perhaps media needs some new topic to fill the airwaves with 24/7.

singlecarrier wrote:

But the media onslaught has become so relentless (levels of unprecedented absurdity), it is becoming more and more difficult to accept anything other than the public is being prepared for the inevitable decision to let the tax cuts expire.

Actually the motivation by the 1% is to make people so frightened of the "fiscal cliff" which just means rolling back the Bush tax cuts predominately for the rich, that the Peter Peterson and wealthy plutocrats dream for decades of dismantling Social Security bit by bit can be snuck in. But comments on many Websites show most people say go ahead and let the Bush tax cuts expire!

I consider my wife a good guide, although she is fairly liberal she comes from a Republican family and is not as into politics as I am. Just as people got sick of all the Plutocrats billion dollars spent on political Ads during the election, she is getting sick of hearing about "the fiscal cliff".

Personally I think the tide has turned on class warfare. And also global warming after Hurricane Sandy.

But the much harder nut to crack for Americans so used to endless affluence is Peak Oil, Limits to growth and Auto Addiction as the greatest expression of personal consumption. Even though even 70% of Republicans want Green Transit they have a lot more trouble giving up Auto Addicted spending to get it. For example, we have the $5 Billion autos-only new Tappan Zee bridge here and now a plan for $384 million for
an autos only bridge to Long Beach Island already in the works before the Hurricane.
Why would we build ANY bridge in the 21st Century to a barrier island which did not
include Rail? As Kunstler said it is "building yesterday's tomorrow"!