Drumbeat: December 17, 2012

Iraq Boom Hands Naimi 2013 Oil-Supply Challenge

“Saudi Arabia’s dilemma is that while it is the key OPEC player willing to cut back oil production in order to sustain prices at desired levels, it is also accommodating Iraq’s rising output and market share,” said Julius Walker, global energy markets strategist at UBS Securities LLC in New York. “Ultimately, there will need to be an agreement between the two as how to balance these ambitions.”

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi needs to keep prices high enough to fund social spending plans without incurring the wrath of consumers for hurting the global economy. Iraq, now the second-biggest supplier in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has a different priority: to rebuild its industry after decades of war and sanctions.

Arab states are spending billions of dollars on housing and local projects to allay popular unrest after uprisings toppled leaders in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia and sparked a civil war in Syria. Saudi Arabia has committed more than $600 billion in social and infrastructure projects in coming years.

Kuwait budget surplus surges on high oil income

Kuwait's provisional budget surplus surged 43 percent to 14.7 billion dinars ($52.2 billion) in the first seven months of the fiscal year, boosted by oil income, government data showed on Monday.

Exploration, development spending fuels growth in worldwide oil and gas reserves

As a result of growth in Asia-Pacific gas reserves, investments in Canada’s oil sands and the dramatic increase of US shale reserves, worldwide oil and gas reserves increased in 2011. Worldwide oil reserves grew by 1% in 2011, while gas reserves rose by 4%. Oil and gas revenues experienced 27% growth in 2011.

Brent Crude Declines Amid Disagreement Over U.S. Budget

Brent crude fell for a second time in three days amid concern that deadlock in U.S. budget talks may threaten to curb economic growth and fuel demand.

The North Sea benchmark dropped as much as 45 cents, reversing earlier gains. European stocks declined for a third day on concern U.S. lawmakers won’t agree to a budget before more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff start taking effect in January. The Stoxx Europe 600 slid 0.3 percent to 278.62, while indexes in the U.K., Germany and France slumped.

Pipeline bottlenecks will continue to discount price for Canadian crude: CIBC

CALGARY /CNW/ - While pipeline expansion in 2013 will add nearly a million barrels a day of capacity, it won't be enough to eliminate the discount Canadian producers are getting for their oil, finds a new report from CIBC World Markets.

Will Natural Gas Fall Below $3?

The price of natural gas (short term delivery) plummeted during last week. The recent fall may have been due to the unseasonably high temperatures that resulted in the natural gas storage remaining nearly unchanged. Will natural gas continue to decline? Let's analyze the recent developments in the natural gas market.

Russia's Gazprom sees 2013 gas output at 500 Bcm, roughly flat on year:report

Moscow (Platts)- Russia's state-owned gas giant Gazprom expects to produce around 500 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2013, roughly flat year-on-year, Russian media reported Monday citing the company's management committee deputy chairman Valery Golubev.

Hedge Funds Reduce Bullish Bets by Most in a Month

Hedge funds cut bullish commodity bets by the most in a month as the Federal Reserve warned the U.S. budget impasse may damage the economy, increasing concern about demand just as prices head for the first loss since 2008.

Billion pound North Sea oil field project given government approval

On Monday the department of energy and climate change approved the Western Isles project which will develop two at Harris and Barra in the Northern North Sea, 100 miles east of Shetland and eight miles west of the Tern field.

The Harris and Barra fields are estimated to contain more than 45m barrels of oil.

Centrica get 9-year extension to produce at Norwegian field

OSLO (Reuters) - British energy firm Centrica received a nine-year extension at its Vale field in the Norwegian North Sea to squeeze out more production of condensate and gas after it bought the partly depleted field this year.

The field, which produces with subsea equipment through the nearby Heimdal field, started operating in 2002 and was initially expected to produce for 10 years, but extraction has taken longer, the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) said on Monday.

BP sells stake in North Sea gas field for $28 mln

LONDON (AP) — Oil company BP has sold its half interest in a North Sea gas field to SSE PLC for $288 million.

BP said Monday that the disposal of its 50 percent stake in the Sean gas field, operated by Shell, is part of a broader program of disposing of noncore assets.

Italian multi national billion euro investment in Libya

Italy’s multi national oil and gas company, Eni plans to invest six billion euros in Libya over the next ten years.

The move is designed to develop ongoing production as well as exploration activities. It will strengthen the company’s grip as the leading international oil and gas producer in the country.

Syrian VP calls for 'historic settlement,' national unity government

(CNN) -- Syria's vice president is calling for a "historic settlement" of the country's civil war and the creation of a national unity government, according to an interview with a Lebanese newspaper to be published Monday.

"The solution has to be Syrian, but through a historic settlement, which would include the main regional countries, and the members of the U.N. Security Council," newspaper al-Akhbar quoted Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa as saying in excerpts released Sunday.

Iran oil revenues halved by sanctions: minister

Iran is losing half of its oil revenues because of international sanctions imposed over its disputed nuclear programme, Economy Minister Shamseddin Hosseini said in remarks quoted by media on Monday.

"Iran is facing a 50-percent drop in its oil revenues due to sanctions," Hosseini told state television, Jomhuri Eslami newspaper reported.

Hosseini put down the loss to difficulties in repatriating oil money.

Iran military says plans more drills in Strait of Hormuz soon

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran plans to hold military drills in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil and gas shipping route, by next March, Iranian media quoted a commander from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as saying on Monday.

‘Peak Oil’ Is Dead – And That’s Incredibly Worrying

The reason the USA will be self-sufficient is that the IEA predicts it will make considerable use of what are currently termed ‘unconventional sources’. These include names of oil extraction processes that don’t mean a great deal to the average person in the street: tar sands, tight oil, oil shale, deep sea, coal-to-liquid, and the one that has suddenly gained considerable resonance in this country, shale gas with its controversial extraction process of ‘fracking’.

The reason this is bad news is that if extensive use is made of such sources of energy, the contribution towards climate change will be massive. If we’re to maintain even the slightest hope of keeping the increase in Europe’s temperature to no more than two Celsius in this century – the limit to ward off seriously destructive consequences – we need to leave about two thirds of this stuff in the ground. So the thought that the USA could become self-sufficient in energy as a result of such greenhouse-intensive fuels is truly frightening.

TransCanada Wins Bid to Lift Order Blocking Pipeline

TransCanada Corp. won a bid to lift a temporary court order blocking construction of part of its Keystone XL pipeline in the eastern part of the state.

Landowner Michael Bishop sued Calgary-based TransCanada last week, alleging they coerced him into a settlement that granted an easement across his farm near Nacogdoches, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northeast of Houston. He claimed the pipeline’s permits are invalid because Keystone is permitted to carry only crude oil, not bitumen from Canadian tar sands.

Exxon mobil seeks UK shale gas stake

Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly-traded oil company, is eyeing up a stake in the UK's shale gas revolution, according to the Sunday Times. The US giant is in talks to buy into a drilling operation in northwest England from energy company IGas.

The news comes days after the British government lifted a ban on "fracking", where shale gas is extracted from rock formations by pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground. Fracking was put on hold 18 months ago after it caused two small earthquakes near Blackpool.

Fracking offers a risky salvation for America's hard-pressed heartlands

For those living above fuel deposits and prepared to live with fears over gas leakage and water pollution, the prospect of jobs and money is very real.

Edison International Unit Files for Bankruptcy Protection

The company has been challenged by depressed energy and capacity prices and high fuel costs, according to the statement. Subsidiaries including Midwest Generation also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The companies “have been hit by a sea change in the power market’s competitive landscape, dramatically higher environmental capital expenditure requirements, and debt payment maturities that have severely limited the debtors’ ability to compete effectively,” Maria Rigatti, Edison Mission’s chief financial officer, said in court papers.

US Public Transit Ridership Increases In 2012

A new report looking at public transport use over the first three quarters of 2012 has found that ridership has increased by 2.6%, amounting to 201 million more trips taken in the first nine months of the year than were taken in the same time period in 2011.

“With seven consecutive quarters of ridership increases, it’s obvious that public demand for public transit is growing,” said Michael Melaniphy, President and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), authors of the report.

Cheapest wind power blows into Brazil

Four energy developers agreed to sell power from 10 proposed wind farms in Brazil at the cheapest rates ever.

Enerfin Sociedad de Energia, Renova Energia, EGP-Serra Azul and Bioenergy Geradora de Energia won contracts to sell electricity to distributors for an average price of 87.94 Brazilian reais (Dh154.82) per megawatt-hour (MWh), Brazil's national energy agency Empresa de Pesquisa Energetica said on Friday.

Brazil Expands Mines to Drive Future, but Cost Is a Treasured Link to Its Past

CARAJÁS NATIONAL FOREST, Brazil — Archaeologists must climb tiers of orchid-encrusted rain forest, where jaguars roam and anacondas slither, to arrive at one of the Amazon’s most stunning sights: a series of caves and rock shelters guarding the secrets of human beings who lived here more than 8,000 years ago.

Almost anywhere else, these caves would be preserved as an invaluable source of knowledge into prehistoric human history. But not in this remote corner of the Amazon, where Vale, the Brazilian mining giant, is pushing forward with the expansion of one of the world’s largest iron-ore mining complexes, a project that will destroy dozens of the caves treasured by scholars.

Brazil forest protection turns to digital world

Landowners who broke Brazil's environmental laws by clearing their farms of native forest used to have just one way to make right with government inspectors: plant trees. Now, they can clear their names by just pointing and clicking.

After decades trying to protect rapidly shrinking forest, Brazil has turned to the digital world and launched a new platform called BVRio that allows growers with more untouched forest on their land than is legally required to sell "quotas" to farmers who fall short, one hectare at a time, for a price that will be determined by supply and demand.

Reimagining the Coral Market

In the international trade in live coral, most of which ships to the United States for ornamental marine aquariums, the source is quickly shifting from wild harvesting to farming, researchers report in a new study.

This shift suggests that, contrary to the conventional view that the live coral trade is a threat to coral reef ecosystems, the buying and selling of corals could help create a powerful incentive for protecting reefs in many small island communities, these scientists say.

Qatar plans to edge out incandescent bulbs

The Qatar General Electricity and Water Corp (Kahramaa) has laid out its plan to phase out incandescent bulbs.

It will look to edge out bulbs of 100, 75 and 60 watts over time before using 40-watt devices for a short while and then bringing in more energy-efficient sorts to try and cut down on the environmental impact in Qatar.

Reports: Sen. John Kerry to be named Secretary of State

It looks likely that Sen. John Kerry will be nominated to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is expected to retire from the post as part of President Obama’s second term cabinet reshuffle.

Secretary of Hope: John Kerry on climate change

Kerry has been outspoken on climate change throughout Obama’s first term and would likely place the issue near the top of his foreign policy agenda.

Japan to Trade Emission Credits Through 2015, Government Says

Japan can transfer and acquire carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol until at least the second half of 2015 during a so-called “true up” period, government officials said today.

Japan joined New Zealand, Canada and Russia in declining to sign up for the treaty’s restrictions for the second round beginning next year. Envoys at United Nations climate talks in Doha agreed on Dec. 8 that countries with no emissions targets for 2013 and beyond won’t be able to acquire and transfer Kyoto permits and offsets.

Let's learn to love carbon capture, before it's too late

Progress on CCS technology has stalled, but with coal and gas generating much of our electricity for years to come, we need it.

Norfolk, Va., has a plan to keep its head above water

We realized we could fit everything we’re doing into four parts: plan, prepare, mitigate, and communicate. As it turns out, they’re all just about as important. The planning part includes civil engineering and structural approaches. Floodwalls, installing pumping equipment. We have elevated roads and likely will do more of that. We’re working with a Netherlands company called FURGO Atlantic as well as local engineers to plan. The other part I’m really excited about, having started life as a biologist, is we’re looking at the blue-green infrastructure of trees and rain gardens and even our parks and wetlands. We’re doing a lot of wetlands restoration because those are really the buffers that protect the coastline. It’s pretty exciting because there are so many benefits [to soft infrastructure] — aesthetic, habitat, water quality, livability benefits.

India could face crippling heat waves

An analysis of the output from 18 different global climate models indicates that India’s average annual surface air temperature could go up by between four degrees Celsius and seven degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

California Utilities Say Solar Raises Costs for Non-Users

On the one hand...

California utilities oppose efforts to expand net-metering programs. Solar customers, who typically sell power to the grid when the sun is shining and use the income to offset charges for using electricity at night or on cloudy days, “are just using our system as a storage device,” said Jazayeri. “They should pay something for that service.”

On the other hand...

And solar developers say rooftop systems actually benefit the power grid by providing power during the hottest parts of the day. That eases stress on wires and transformers and helps utilities defer maintenance and upgrades, said Todd Pedersen, chief executive officer of Blackstone Group LP’s Vivint Inc., which installs residential solar.

I think the utilities have a point. It's supposed to be a free market with supply and demand set by price signals. I think householders should offer electricity to the utilities at a price the utilities are prepared to pay. It shouldn't be too difficult to install some sort of auction metering system.

Of course, on the "gripping" hand (obscure sci-fi reference that only 70% of people here will get, meaning the third hand), energy from burning buried carbon raises costs for non-users as well. Non-users like other species, future generations of humans, poor people in other nations, etc. There should be a heavy extra charge for that indulgence.

Fairness among humans is not relevant to the big problems of our species and world. I'm going to start mentioning the "fairness fallacy" more often.

The "gripping" hand is a reference to the science fiction classic The Mote in God's Eye, by Niven and Pournelle.

It was the first book I ordered from the Science Fiction Book Club back in the early 70's. I believe the sequel was titled The Gripping Hand.

I highly recommend both :-)

EDIT: "Fairness among humans is not relevant to the big problems of our species and world."

-- Spoken like a true motie, heh.

yes, it was from the second book. I wouldn't have used it but I figure a high % of sci-fi geeks here.

To clarify, what I refer to as the "fairness fallacy" is that any solution to any large probably must ALSO attempt to redress perceived concerns of human inequality. Once you learn to look for this, you see it everywhere. That is, any proposed "fixes" for problems must address the problem and also in some way make things "fairer", where "fairer" is a subjective call about some aspect of individual human equality.

Not that we actually want fairness, we just want to be equal to those doing better than us in the power-law distribution of influence and "stuff".

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like the fairness you describe could be boiled down to "that schmuck has his, so where's mine?!" As Peter Falk's character in The Princess Bride said, "Where is it written that life is fair?"

As an aside, if there is a significantly high percentage of "sci-fi geeks" here, what does that mean? Could it be because this sort of literature plays a formative role in out-of-the-box thinking? Or are such thinkers simply attracted to said literature?

I think its that (at least old fashioned type of) sci-fi tried to ask (or think about) big issues of civilization, like where it might be going longterm. I only very vaguely remember those books, that was decades ago. The last few times I purchased any sci-fi I was sorely dissapointed and didn't even finish the books (which doesn't apply to a few old classics I bought in the past year or two).

I was a huge fan of sci-fi novels as a youth. I stopped when I realised they all described socialist worlds. The only exception I remember was Kornbluth and Pohl's "Gladiator-at-Law" where the protagonists are forced to move to a dreadful slum nicknamed Belly Rave. That one seemed realistic.

Like you I was disappointed by modern sci-fi. A few years ago at the library I picked up a book that had blurbs from authors who were my heroes proclaiming that "X is the future of science fiction" and the like. I read a passage that concerned a balloon voyage on Venus. It completely ignored the Second Law of Thermodynamics. I put it down with a sigh. If that was the future of science fiction, science fiction deserves to die.

I seem to remember Heinlein's stuff as being rather Right-leaning, perhaps even Libertarian at times. As for more recent authors, I enjoy David Brin's work, and Greg Bear is not bad, either.

Indeed, when I was an adolescent consumer of SF (late-60's, very early 70's), it was all very Right-ish and/or Libertarian. I don't think I encountered much that could be construed as left-leaning in any way.

I wasn't at all political at the time, I don't remember thinking these are commies. I don't think Larry Niven's stuff was commie -more like individuals bopping around the galaxy trying to score wealth. And Heinlein was kind of libertarian in a militaristic way. In any case whatever we end up with in 500 years from now, probably won't resemble what we have today. I suspect the sets of challenges and opportunities change, and what sort of government that works probably changes with them.

Yes, too much of the modern stuff, is fantasy and/or occult. Or the whole vampires and werewolfs stick which has become so massively popular recently. Hard to find the good old fashioned stuff that makes you think about possibilities. In terms of TV shows, every recent series that I liked got canceled, and replaced with occult reality shows. So yes, most of this stuff does (IMO) deserve to die.

Hi... and sorry for my dashed-off post...

"the "fairness fallacy" is that any solution to any large probably must" ... that "probably" should have been "problem" of course. That's what I get for posting on the run. Certain words exist as spinal-cord reflexes (for lack of a better term) for me in terms of spelling, which is why I used to jam out IBM selectric typewriters, they couldn't keep up.

And kudos for the Princess Bride reference. Yes, that's very much it. Though I liked the books' version better, and I recommend the book. An excerpt from the "forward" section follows:

"Don't worry, it'll all work out, you'll get me next time" and I nodded, and then Ed said, "And if you don't, you'll beat me at something else."

I went to the porch and sipped iced tea and Edith was reading this book and she didn't put it down when she said, "That's not necessarily true, you know."

I said, "How do you mean?"

And that's when she put her book down. And looked at me. And said it: "Life isn't fair, Bill. We tell our children that it is, but it's a terrible thing to do. It's not only a lie, it's a cruel lie. Life is not fair, and it never has been, and it's never going to be." Would you believe that for me right then it was like one of those comic books where the light bulb goes on over Mandrake the Magician's head?

"It isn't!" I said, so loud I really startled her. "You're right! It's not fair." I was so happy if I'd known how to dance, I'd have started dancing. "Isn't that great, isn't it terrific?" I think along here Edith must have thought I was well on my way to being bonkers.

But it meant so much to me to have it said and out and free and flying - that was the discontent I had endured the night my father stopped reading, I realized right then. That was the reconciliation I was trying to make and couldn't.

And that's what I think this book's about. All those Columbia experts can spiel all they want about the delicious satire; they're crazy. This book says, "life's not fair" and I'm telling you, one and all, you better believe it. I got a fat spoiled son - he's not gonna nag Miss Rheingold. And he's always gonna be fat, even if he gets skinny he'll still be fat and he'll still be spoiled and life will never be enough to make him happy, and that's my fault maybe - make it all my fault, if you want - the point is, we're not created equal, for the rich they sing, life isn't fair. I got a cold wife; she's brilliant, she's stimulating, she's terrific; there's no love; that's okay too, just so long as we don't keep expecting everything to somehow even out for us before we die.

Look. (Grownups skip this paragraph.) I'm not about to tell you this book has a tragic ending. I already said in the very first line how it was my favorite in all the world. But there's a lot of bad stuff coming up, torture you've already been prepared for, but there's worse. There's death coming up, and you better understand this: Some of the wrong people die. Be ready for it. This isn't Curious George Uses the Potty. Nobody warned me and it was my own fault (you'll see what I mean in a little) and that was my mistake, so I'm not letting it happen to you. The wrong people die, some of them, and the reason is this; life is not fair. Forget all the garbage your parents put out. Remember Morgenstern. You'll be a lot happier.

This is an important message. Humans would be well advised to get used to it and grow up.

The best fairness doctrine I heard (and I don't otherwise respect the man) was Bill Gates, "Life isn't fair. Get over it!"

I wonder if that's original to him or he got it from Xerox Parc?


But yes. That's one of the messages I try to convey to aspiring (and ensconced) pro-earth activists, and in general they don't care to hear it. It's like their eyes glaze over and they feel the imperative to pursue several radically different goals simultaneously.

That's why I'm fond of capuchin monkeys and their well-document sense of "fairness and entitlement"; it departs in no significant way from the human tribal feelings of how the pie should be cut, who's getting away with what, and the deep fear that one may be left with the smallest piece of pie. Consciously letting go of that fear is incredibly liberating... and pretty rare.


Partners of capuchins who made the swap either received the same reward (a cucumber slice), or a better reward (a grape, a more desirable food), for the same amount of work or, in some cases, for performing no work at all.

Brosnan said the response to the unequal treatment was astonishing: Capuchins who witnessed unfair treatment and failed to benefit from it often refused to conduct future exchanges with human researchers, would not eat the cucumbers they received for their labors, and in some cases, hurled food rewards at human researchers.

Those actions were significant. They confirmed that not only did capuchins expect fair treatment, but that the human desire for equity has an evolutionary basis.

And with a tip of the hat to Bob Shaw, I'll ask "are humans smarter than Capuchins?"

Interesting conversation.

Yes, I don't personally want 'life' to be fair.. as with our Bill of Rights, such things are only 'God Given' if you accept that God is US.. (Tat Tvam Asi).. that we develop fairness in our dealings precisely because we can decide to follow our purely selfish and supposedly 'wild/natural' options, or we can look to the advantages of cooperating and coordinating ourselves together.

And as the Capuchins and the Deer herds show us, (and as I saw with a Zebra and a Wildebeast once).. democratic cooperation is not just some oil-induced artificial joyride that is about to end with the rest of our luxuries. If anything, it's going to have a chance to be restarted in a lot of places..

democratic cooperation is not just some oil-induced artificial joyride that is about to end with the rest of our luxuries. If anything, it's going to have a chance to be restarted in a lot of places..

Don't get me wrong, I'm a monkey too. I just like to take a vacation from monkey mode when making big decisions, such as those which by their nature are not just intra-tribal human affairs. Using our default logic leads to "tragedy of the commons" situations like the race to fish out the seas.

On a personal level, I prefer to live in the semblance of a quasi-democratic empire that we in the USA have now. However, I'd willingly submit to slavery if new world dictators would credibly take an adult approach to ending carbon emissions and conserving a reasonably intact world for the coming thousand-plus years as the fossil-carbon metabolic pulse plays out.

Point being that human fairness is just a different kettle of fish than a global mass extinction, or the long-term degradation of the earth's carrying capacity, or acidifying the oceans, etc. It's a one-species matter, like which squirrels get the best acorn trees. As immense as that issue may seem to squirrels, nobody else really gives a damn or should.

This century will see a lot of experiments in noble egalitarian rule, slave societies, and much else in various locations and sizes as we grind down from circa 10 billion humans to fewer than 1 billion.

There will be a number of "peoples revolutions" like the Arab Spring stuff, as scarcity of basics causes governments to be overthrown and overthrown again by people unwilling to believe that the world has limits, and who need someone to blame.

That just will be as it will be. My point is that when looking at ways to ameliorate the dismal prospects ahead of us, we don't need to make things harder by insisting that any mitigation ALSO help the economy and make the world 'fairer' for Americans.

As William Goldman said, "Life isn't fair. It's just fairer than death." And that's the choice we have for the world.

However, I'd willingly submit to slavery if new world dictators would credibly take an adult approach to ending carbon emissions and conserving a reasonably intact world...

The problem with this is that once they have you enslaved, they are under no compulsion to live up to what they originally took power for.

Benevolent dictatorship is the best form of government, except that dictators are never benevolent.

Oh, I'm aware of the shortcomings. I was posing a hypothetical situation in which I suspected that they would do it.

But let me double down, I'd give myself into slavery for a 1% chance that they would. Not saying I'd be easy to convince, mind you.

I wpuldn't assume that it would be benevolent. Even if it was evil, it'd be immeasurably less evil than one species wasting the planet for its own short-term brain reward. That's the thing, the massive disconnect between the scale of what we humans find important in the short term, versus cooking the world and acidifying the seas abruptly, and ending most complex evolved life lineages in a stunning blow against central nervous systems and on behalf of bacteria.

A depraved human dictatorship of 1000 years would be utterly trivial next to that prospect, even if we - as we so often do - ignore all other species and think only of future humans. We should have lasted another million years or so.

Hmm... An evil dictator who reigns for 1000 years... Sounds kinda biblical, eh? On the other hand (the gripping one), we've prolly earned such a fate, what with the balance of the universe and all.

Vote Leto Atreides II for President.

That guy's a real worm.


best hopes for a sane Golden Path.

Or known as The Moat around Murcheson's Eye - UK Press - the gripping hand.

The wires connecting households to the grid are owned by a single utility in any given location. As such, that utility is a monopoly buyer and can offer whatever price it wishes (possibly nothing, or possibly even a negative price where the homeowner would have to pay to "spill" its excess power into the grid). There can be no "free market" where there is a single monopoly buyer. it's a captive market and the utilities know it.

Utilities dislike solar as they have no control or ownership of the micro-generation. Essentially every residential PV system chips away at the marginal demand in peak a/c demand hours, thereby fractionally reducing the amount of peak power a utility can sell, and the price at which it can sell it.

Just because distributed micro-geneation diminishes the monopoly or oligopoly pricing power of utilities does not make it a bad thing. I'd argue the exact opposite, but then I'm just a left-leaning Brit who'd be labelled a communist across large parts of the US...

EU legislation has made it mandatory that grid operators be independent from both consumers and producers, and only can charge a fixed tax on each delivered KWh, but have no influence on the base price. And every producer competes on the same local market place, without any extra charge dependent on his specific location (which on the other can sometime deny the physical reality of what the looses are from transporting his electricity when he far away from consumption locations).

Well, there's a minimum volume required to enter that market, but it wouldn't be manageable otherwise.

Don't forget however that the problem with PV is that it's not constantly available, which means that it lowers the usage of the peak capacity but does not allow to shut it now, for European countries the capacity sizing must stays the same as if there was no solar (countries with a hotter climate, and a summer peak might be different). This means that this capacity must be maintained, but has to be made profitable on a much lower number of load hours. You end up having to pay for capacity.

In the short term, you don't see that happen, because the already built capacity is larger than needed, and the fossil plants end up fighting each other for what's remaining of demand. But the quite quick result will be a lot of capacity becoming unprofitable and closing, bringing you to the situation where you have to pay to keep it on-line, or risk major blackouts.

Or begin demand response actions, the simplest of which id time of use rates. Then some of the demand starts shifting to cheaper times of day when power is cheaper. Many consumers -especially in the industrial and commercial areas, can indeed move some of their demand around, and will if given financial incentives to do so.

There still is the fact that the owners of the fossil peaking plants, aren't going to make the sort of profit they would have san's solar, that generates a lot of incentive to generate propaganda.

Are they really facts behind the claim that industrial and commercial can move their power use around ?
Few use don't require also manpower, so you'd have people waiting for the call to go working. And a lot of the industrial use is tied to heavy equipments, that you want to use as frequently as possible to make profitable. Or that is used in Just-in-time mode with very little stock. To move the use of power, you have to keep stocks again with the associated costs.

If the time where power will be cheaper is highly predictable and doesn't change frequently, this is already hard, but if it can be reliably predicted only 2 or 3 days in advance, and moves constantly with long shifts, this becomes a big massive problem, with a lot of consequences. And makes the economy a lot less efficient than it used to be.

And makes the economy a lot less efficient than it used to be.

So here is the 64 trillion dollar question, is that ultimately a good or a bad thing?

So Long & Thanks for All The Fish!

Its certainly more constraints. But is also an opportunity for an individual business to cut its costs below its competitors. I'm not saying its gonna be easy and painless. Going from a resource unconstrained world to a resource constrained one is going to feel like a bit of a step down.

Funny species, the human race. I wonder if they'll be missed?





Time of use rates.
The local Utility SDG&E (So Damn Greedy & Expensive)installed smart meters, which I paid for, and their PR was full of fun facts about how this was good for the consumer. Via e-mail (no human contact is allowed) I asked about getting time of use rates.
Horrors! That's only available to commercial and industrial users who already pay a lower rate than residential customers. So, my high, fixed rates subsidize "consumers" as you call large and maybe huge business and industrial operations.

With most PV customers, -excepting perhaps some commercial/industrial ones, adding PV means significant flows both from and to the grid. Don't offer a decent supply for those times of excess, and for most residential customers it would be a no deal. Besides for most residential customers, any excess just goes to his neighbors, and the utility charges them full price, even though only the final wires of its distribution grid are needed.

Austin electric (did I get the name right -typing from memory), calculated, and pays a fair avoided cost for excess PV. It turns out that price slightly exceeds the rate they would have been paying with net metering. I think there price waws something like $.13/KWhour, which mainly reflects the fact that PV peak correlates with the demand peak.

Sounds like Austin only pays for net-metered power at the flat rate. Same here in Vermont. But in California it seems that they have time of use rates, and the net metering pays for power added to the grid at the same price as power extracted from the grid at the same time. That's why it actually pays to have net metered PV in CA.

With the flat rate we have here, since peak-demand power actually costs the utility at spot-market wholesale far more than the flat residential retail rate, this is really a subsidy for air conditioning. Paid by all the ratepayers, most of which (here) do not have air conditioning, but pay a higher flat rate than it would have been if peak demand was lower. And net metering too is a subsidy for air conditioning. There is no physical "storage" in the grid, only in the accounting.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the future, now that they're installing "smart meters" for everyone, and thus they _could_ start charging different rates at different times. But will they? And how will that affect current and future "net metering" systems?

BTW, here "net metering" is not truly net: if you feed power into the grid, it only "stores" it for you as credit for later use. At the end of the year, all unused credit is confiscated. Thus, if you use little power, you don't want to set up net metering, as you'll just be giving the power away. If you do have net metering and you use up your credit on usage you wouldn't otherwise do (electric heating in December) then you didn't help the planet, you only subsidized somebody else's air conditioning.

It sounds like you've mostly got it re. CA solar PV procedures. There are 3 main utilities in CA, and a bunch of smaller ones, PG&E being the biggie.

PG&E must credit you at the prevailing electricity rate - 'net metering'. California law. Paying you is something different. TOU rates are optional, but are usually a good deal for folks with solar. Basic residential TOU rates are around $0.12/kwh to $0.30/kwh. Other TOU rates have a range from around $0.05 up to $0.60/kwh. You will be credited up to the point your annual bill reaches $0. If with TOU rates, you come out ahead as far as who owes who at the end of the year, PG&E will not pay you anything.

Only if you produce more kwh's in a year than you use (different than coming out ahead as far as owed $$ at the end of the year, possible with TOU rates) then PG&E must pay you. They will pay you $0.04/kwh. Much less than you pay them. Arnold signed that law a couple years back.

At least where I'm at (PG&E), my only option is straight net metering. But I'm not complaining, I think I get a fair deal, and the PV means all my excess demand is charged at tier-1 rates (that probably wouldn't be true if I really gobbled up the juice). In my area, end of year excess isn't stolen, by paid for at a reduced rate thats roughly 2/3rds of tier1. I don't have a problem with that, I think it is a fair deal, although with my whimpy-sized system ,and now a plugin car, I don't expect to ever see it.

I think the drive for smart meters was mainly about having the physical capability to enact time of use rates sometime in the future. generally TOU has to be introduced as a voluntary thing -or else it is politically unacceptable.

If TOU rate is voluntary, those who use air conditioning would stay away from it, and keep being subsidized by the rest. But there's also political resistance to raising the flat rate for electricity. So as the shale gas bubble bursts and rates go up, what gives? With "smart meters" installed, forcing TOU rates on everybody is easier. Although here in Vermont the anti-smart-meter activists won the right to opt out. (The reason for the activism was that the utility chose a meter that communicates wirelessly, and some people are worried about the possible health effects of the radio waves.)

Personally I think the solution has been staring us in the face all along, and does not require all that expensive "smart grid" tech to be installed. It's inclining block rates: pay a lower price for the first XXX KWH each month, higher for the rest. Choose XXX so it's somewhat below the average consumption, so that the average bill stays the same, but the average ratepayer is then encouraged to conserve.

Thats what we have in most of California. It does discriminate against larger households -as the residential baseline is the same for everyone (with local climate zones affecting them). But as we get to greater penetration of variable sources, time flexibility of the load becomes more important. I think those two changes are nearly orthogonal. Mostly TOU will encourage at the residential level stuff like shifting the time of doing laundry and perhaps of charging cars. At the commercial and industrial level, it will be one more thing the engineers put into their operations optimizing calculations.

Another thing thats not currently allowed, but could become important. Many industrial customers have generator backups, but currently they can only be run during true grid outages. They could be used pre-emptively when the grid is under severe stress to reduce the load, without shuttering businesses.

Austin Energy both subsidizes residential solar and buys the extra power.
They recently updated their rates, making the rates much more favorable to solar.

Austin Energy pays 12.8 cents per KWH of ALL solar generation and then charges for consumption at their usual residential rates, which give preferential rates for the first 500 and 1000 KWH. If you use around 1000 KWH per month (about what we use), you are paying about 10 cents and getting 12.8 cents for your solar generation. At net zero consumption, you are still making money.

But Austin Energy wins too. Solar is best on summer afternoons, which is peak demand time. Having solar helps AE avoid building more peaking power. Meanwhile, AE has surplus wind power at night, which we soak up by charging our electric cars late at night on timer. Win-win.

Smart electric utilities like solar.

Utilities dislike solar because it can introduce significant variability of supply into a system which is build to handle demand fluctuations more so than supply variability. One cloud and a good part of whatever was being supplied by solar just went away yet customers who are using power expect uninterrupted supply.
Utilities in the US are regulated around a certain rate of return on capital, so even if the price they are paying for solar is higher then they'd be paying for coal it will be compensated for by other fees, allowances or changes in the capital structure such as the ability to issue some bonds as municipals.


I think that's one layer of the onion, WP, but not the whole thing.

PV has now started revealing a light at the end of the tunnel, and whether it's the sun or an oncoming train bearing down on the Utility business as it stands today, the fact is that they are headed into a serious change in how their business will run in the future, and it is very daunting not knowing just whether it will leave them with anything like the job they've had thus far.

Everybody has seen what's happened in Germany, both with Variability.. but also with price shifts and a rebalancing of power, at many levels.

I liken it to the Movie industry in '96 '97, when both 'Titanic' and 'The Blair Witch Project' came out.. one was about the MOST expensive movie in history, and the other in good company with the cheapest.. and both did phenomenally well, reminding the whole industry in no uncertain way of W'm Goldman's eternal uncertainty clause, 'Nobody knows Anything'.. it made the industry tremble, because noone could tell which way to go after such extreme examples.. well, just what I took away from those days.

johkuhl: I agree that it is only one part of what is going on. To be fair, my knowledge re renewables (a silly word if you ask me (which you didn't)) comes more from the wind side of things.
Windparks tend to be large and not necessarily close to where the power is consumed. The costs of building the infrastructure to transport the power is often very significant, and whatever grid you tie into, depending on its peculiarities, may fight you because they don't want to handle the "peaky" nature of wind. One way of doing that is charging the windfarm truly enormous fees for tying in.

Distributed solar (at least at low penetration) really resembles variable load, i.e. there is always nearby demand to soak up any excess. It is with utility scale farms where variable supply becomes a big deal (partly because an individual farm is compact enough to turn on/off pretty quickly from a single cloud. There are supposedly some pretty good software techniques for predicting the supply at least an hour ahead, so with the proper expertise it should be handleable. But, it is going to be on ongoing learning curve. And some utilities resist.

Germany has good experience with large-scale solar. The day-ahead forecast is pretty good and getting better all the time. For a single site forecast errors can be as large as 50% but on a regional scale this reduces to something near 5-10%, something utilities have no problem working with at moderate capacity factors.

I think the utilities have a point. It's supposed to be a free market with supply and demand set by price signals.

A free market?

Lets see if that is true. Say I have PV panels in the city. And 2 blocks away is a drinking buddy and philospher-king I'd like to sell electricity I make from my PV panels. If it is a "free market" - do I get the same rights and privileges to string my own wire over 2 blocks to the others home so I can sell the electrical power to?

In a free market, should I not be able to string the wire 2 blocks?

I think householders should offer electricity to the utilities at a price the utilities are prepared to pay.

In your system:

What incentive to they have to pay the price they charge the next door neighbour?

You are OK with them paying what they want - $0.01 a KwH and then charge the next door neighbour $0.35 a KwH ... or someone 2 blocks away the gross profit $0.34 KwH?

It shouldn't be too difficult to install some sort of auction metering system.

In this "future" you see, if the local rate is $0.35 KWh and I am willing to sell at $0.34 a KWh - can the 2 block over drunkard buy my $0.34 KWh power in this auction system?

From replies it seems TODers can only imagine the dead hand of monopsony* or the dead hand of regulation.

Why can't we all just get along? I'm trying to think of a system where the utilities can experience a soft landing as demand crashes without destroying the grid, which is a very valuable part of the commons, or going bankrupt, in which case they will be bailed out by public money and we're back to square 1, just with everyone a bit poorer.

*In economics, a monopsony is a market form in which only one buyer faces many sellers.

True. It shouldn't just be about one end of the bargain (power consumers). There is also the interst in maintaing the grid and generation services. Those are things that public utilities commisions are paid to study.

I was hoping to have a discussion over the fact the firms don't operate in a "free market", how they have a "lock in" due to possession of the power grid - a market position GRANTED to them by Government and the idea of a social contract and remind how a "free market auction" idea was what Enron was doing in California and other markets.

And one could compare the CO-OP owned electrical systems and local Government owned systems to the systems owned by large Corporations.

As you are trying to think of a system where the utilities can experience a soft landing as demand crashes without destroying the grid, which is a very valuable part of the commons, or going bankrupt have you even thought about the CO-OP and local government owned infrastructure models?

To state "free market" or "dead hand of regulation" shows entering the discussion with a bias. Same with the idea that an 'auction' is somehow a "good" 'market' idea. To frame the discussion of an auction not going well as "can't we all get along" - well that can be its own whole sub-thread of its own. You started the discussion, others are reading it - where exactly are you wanting it to go? How about 'dead hand of regulation' and invoking the majik phrase 'free market' indicates a desire to remove regulation .... fine .... how do you remove "The Government" and still allow private firms wires to take land at $0 or well below market costs from property owners?

I'm thinking aloud. I don't have answers, although some kind of auction scheme might be an approach.

For an answer to be acceptable to a large number of people it has to be seen as "fair", or at least fair enough that it's not worth rioting in the streets about.

But forcing utilities to buy from whoever wants to sell is going to lead to a crash as PV comes down in price and utility tariffs go up.

And if the grid goes down for an extended period, there really will be rioting in the streets.

Some folks are temperamentally unable to deal with the fact that some person who they regard as undeserving might get even $.01 of their money. For them it is the thought (of unfairness) that counts. For others, like me, if the amount isn't overwhelming, its no big deal, particularly if it serves some worthy global goal.

Perhaps you can look at it in another way:
Utilities often use generation with considerable external costs but do not have to include these external costs into the rate.

- Coal has considerable health, pollution, mining subsidies and landscape destruction costs which are not included in the rate.
- Nuclear has considerable capital costs (e.g. the unfinished constructions in the 70's-80's), insurance costs (Price-Anderson), security and development costs that are not included into the rate.
- Industry get's excepted from (or reduced) electricity taxes.
- Grid operators often don't have to compete in their area. Monopolies.

I could go on, but you get the picture: the rate you pay does not reflect true costs. There is no level playing field.

Next comes a new breed of generation. Renewable, clean, decentralized. Utilities don't like it. The price is determined by technology instead of resources so they have high initial costs then go down fast, in contrast to resource-based generation: initially cheap then gets more expensive as resources deplete.

So it appears that new clean/renewable generation has no chance given the abundance (still) of coal in the US (and elsewhere) and the non-level playing field that was created for these types of generation: current prices are artificially too low compared to a true level playing field. When electricity prices would reflect real costs then solar and wind have a much better chance to fight their way into the market and eventually push the other generation sources out (because technology gets cheaper while resources get more expensive over time).

Thanks, Steno, for saying what I was thinking.

I think your point is vital and should be shouted out more often-

1) It's obvious that carbon fuels are getting more expensive, and may get a huge amount more expensive when the next big disaster hits.

2) It's obvious that Solar is getting less expensive, and may get a huge amount less expensive when the next big tech insight hits.

gee, I would think anybody could see all that-- and act accordingly.

Both of these are clearly true. But it does not follow that a centralized electric power grid powered by renewable energy can or will be made.

It is the same illogic that says that since fossil fuel powered automobiles will no longer be viable then we will have automobiles powered by renewable energy. There is of course, another possible outcome....

So who's talkin about a grid? All I am saying is that if cost of A goes up, and cost of B goes down, then people tend to use more of B if it could do what A does. Sort of a tautology, ya might say, and no need to specify any details.

My personal vote is for as much local, distributed off grid power as is sensible, since that way we can use the heat as well as the power.

Me, I have gone to PV with a wood fired generator as booster on cloudy days. The stack of wood on the porch gives us a sense of security, and the PV gives those essential bragging rights for use in the upcoming holiday parties with all those fossil fuel sinners.

Well I agree with your approach, but if you follow this thread waaaaayyy back up to the top, it's about grid connection.

I guess this end of the thread is about independence, self-reliance, and freedom.

My next door neighbor and literally millions of people in New Jersey and New York lost power for 11 days and more. There were no riots. Luckily since power outages were scattered neighbors helped each other and communities opened up their libraries, schools, YMCAs and other public oriented buildings which had
power so people could charge their electronic brain-maidens. Or charge their backup batteries as I did for the 2 days I was out of power...

It was actually community affirming not the war of all against all!

But forcing utilities to buy from whoever wants to sell

These utilities had a chance to structure their business without 'the dead hand of regulation' upon their formation. But rather than buying the rights to string their poles across each private property holder and pay taxes for the land their poles occupy the utilites entered into an agreement with the State under the idea of uniform benefit.

Get a private benefit by force from private entities "for the public good" and in exchange get regulated.

Explain how this "forcing" you see is "unfair" because as known bureaucrat D. Vader once said "I have altered the deal, pray I do not alter it further."

The existing utility grid was designed a long time ago, and schematically the configuration is one of power flowing from a small number of large fixed sources through a distribution system to loads. All of it was designed to work that way, including the coordination of the basic protection schemes. The loads are asynchronous and this was dealt with by having overcapacity in distribution and generation, plus over time people learned to recognize and anticipate the aggregate usage patterns, so loads were actually not truly random.

Now we want to have much higher utilization of the distribution system and substitute a multitude of smaller distributed sources not under central control, with power flowing in all directions. In other words adding distributed asynchronous generation into the mix.

And in the time between the creation of the existing system and the present day, we turned the quasi-public entities that built the system into private corporations so that a few wealthy individuals could strip the assets and turn them into personal wealth.

So - setting aside the question of if it is even technically possible to make a "grid" powered by distributed renewable sources, who is going to pay for the infrastructure to do it? Because in spite of all the Smart Grid (tm) hype, almost nothing is actually happening to make this brave new world a reality, and the grid we have will not work the way people would like it to. The few technically competent people left at the utilities know it (like many other fields most have left or retired and the work is now outsourced). This is widely interpreted as foot dragging and negativity by the visionaries and techocopians.

The grid is old, it won't work the way you want it to, we sold off and gutted the organizations who ran it, there isn't enough skilled staff to even run the existing system and there is no money to replace it. The investment is not being made.

The grid is old, it won't work the way you want it to...

Twilight, I think the grid is more robust than we give it credit for. That being said, I don't know the level of asychronous generation the grid can accomodate.

What level of distributed generation does Germany have at present? How is that working out?

Whether the grid is robust or not is really another discussion. The issue here is that it is a large, complex and very expensive bit of infrastructure that was not designed to work as people would like it to now, and the investment to change it is not being made.

"...and the investment to change it is not being made."

You are the winner of the "Understatement Award."

Since the public utilities were sold off to profiteers the grid has been fleeced for maximum $ über alles.


"Yesterday, Duke Energy announced that it "has named Heath Shuler as senior vice president of federal affairs, effective Jan. 4, 2013... Shuler will be based in Duke Energy's Washington, D.C. office." In other words, Congressman Shuler will become a lobbyist."

"Yellow" Dog Democrat Heath Shuler...still in Congress, already a lobbyist.

Not very well, as it turns out. Both Poland and Czechoslovakia have been abused by the German Solar and Wind generators, and they aren't going to stand for it much longer. Equipment to prevent Germany from using their national grids as a load balancer is already in the works.

I will see if I can locate relevant news articles. It would be helpful if a true Engineer addressed this issue. Power transmission has a whole set of its own constraints, and the point that the existing grid is unable to meet the needs of a renewable energy system is valid. It's going to cost a bomb to build one that can. Guess who will have to pay for it?

Grid connections between countries are always used for balancing and trading, it's why they exist. You are referring to a few incidents where grid failure (mostly due to human error or failure of a centralized power plant) caused diversion of mostly windpower from the North to neighboring grids. The biggest problem with this is that, when subgrids fail, a phase shift and frequency drift occurs between the grids causing loop currents and other problematic things. These problems can be solved with a whole range of techniques (e.g. reactive power from installed capacity (fossil, wind, pv) or with phase-shifting interconnects like between the Netherlands and Germany).

An analysis from the German network agency of the November 6 2006 blackout is here.

Early 2012 there were also problems during a cold snap, again mostly caused by the sudden shutdown of the nuclear plants, but it did not result in blackouts. During this problem cold reserves in Austria were started to supply the German grid. This is what most news report wrote about, but what they fail is that German power equivalent of 4 nuclear power plants was diverted to France in order to prevent a blackout there. The French nuclear reactors could not cope with demand, which apparently increases dramatically with every degree lower temperature. Also contributing to the situation were also attempts to maximize profits by overestimating production (so that expensive peak power can be sold), problems with gas delivery from Russia. The energiewende has little to do with this.

I hope you can find a better example of renewables causing network problems?


The other aspect is, that Polish uitilities with quite old power plants fueld with hard coal from underground mining have no real interest to open their market, so the problems caused by wind are a good excuse for some protective actions, all in best interest of their consumers, I bet.

What level of distributed generation does Germany have at present? How is that working out?

Last year I think the maximum of combined wind and solar was a little over 30GW. Solar and wind both can produce about a maximum of 24GW on their own. (The minimum combined wind plus solar was I think somewhere around 200 odd MW). Current load levels in Germany range roughly from 60GW - 80 GW. So the maximum penetration so far is somewhere between 30% - 50% (excluding exports into the European Grid for which I don't have good numbers).

I am no expert on the topic, but it seems the grid has had no real issues to handle those types of fluctuations. Regionally the grid was at capacity occasionally and operators had to intervene by throttling wind production. But given that all wind farms are specifically equipped for that, it probably wasn't a real issue of endangering grid stability.

The times where there were grid stability issues this year, they were mostly traced back to large conventional power plants suddenly going offline, or due to "market speculation" where supply companies deliberately underestimated their power consumption to not have to buy as much expensive peak electricity, which then cut into grid balancing reserves.

There might also still be some issues with the east German grid still not being as tightly connected to the west German grid, which has caused some of the issues for the Polish and Chech grids. But that is being addressed by e.g. a large HVAC line ("Windsamelschiene") coming online tomorrow and a planed line for 2014-2015 ("Thueringer Strombruecke").

There are also supposedly some issues with lack of reactive power, but again those are being addressed by e.g. using the generators of the shutdown nuclear power plants to supply reactive power.

So it seems the grid has been somewhat under constant pressure to adapt and modernize, but so far the grid operators don't seem to have had too much trouble to keep up with changes despite the very rapid build out of fluctuating renewables.

reactive power

Page 39



Watts = Real power: Volts times Amps in a D.C. circuit sense.
VA = Volt Amperes: Total power in the A.C. sense regardless of the timing between V and A.
VAR = Volt Amperes Reactive: The power caught in the skew between when the Volts and the Amps peak.

...and beer

SMA inverters provide reactive power, even at night.

And German grid codes start to appreciate wind power and solar power when central power isn't up to the task so these decentral generation sources are required to stay online longer when brownouts threaten the grid (these usually were required to switch off early to prevent grid maintainance staff getting zapped by these generation sources).

Germany produced in 2011:
Brown+hard coal: 262 TWh
Nuclear: 108 TWh
Renewables: 123 TWh (20% of total)

Decentral renewables:
- Wind: 49 TWh
- Solar: 19 TWh
- Biomass: 33 TWh + 5TWh from trash

The distributed generation works reasonably well. The biggest problem currently is the unplanned sudden shutdown of 8 nuclear power stations most of which in the South of Germany which causes a mismatch in transport capacity. Renewables help to alleviate this but it's not reasonable to think that suddenly removing 8.2 GW from the grid will instantly be replaced by renewables. Expansion of windpower in the North is currently not a solution for the generation problem in the South because expansion of North/South transport capacity is delayed by procedures.

Despite the sudden shutdown of the nuclear reactors and the second highest penetration of renewables in Germany has the most reliable grid in Europe and set a new record reliability score in 2011 the year that the nuclear reactors went offline.

Numerous reports from renowned organisations in Germany conclude that the energiewende is not causing major problems and expansion of renewables while at the same time reducing fossil and nuclear generation is feasible (it will need grid expansion ofcourse).

A smart metering system should be able to vary the PV feed-in tariff according to supply and demand as well as curtail excess production. In Australia early PV adopters were getting 44c per kwh for grid export. More people then installed PV hoping to get the same deal which couldn't last. Perhaps the grid export price should be similar to the hourly auction spot price for large generators. Therefore on mild sunny days (high PV supply, low power demand) the price will be low and vice versa in low light or high demand conditions.

A neutral third party should manage this time-of-use pricing and also perhaps send signals to the smart meters to switch off grid export. This last feature would be similar to curtailment of wind power. I understand solar power surges have been a problem in places like Germany producing over 20 GW of residential PV on sunny days. Could be why gas fired plant in Europe wants to be paid standby fees (capacity markets) when solar gets preferential treatment. This could be factored into the variable feed-in tariff.

Yes. And somebody in society is going to have to pay for it.

I think the utilities have a point.

They do. But the solar PV people also have a point. They supply the grid with power directly where it is consumed at the times when power is most needed (hot sunny days). This means the utility doesn't have to build as many expensive 'peaker' plants that largely sit idle except for those few times when there is a heavy load that requires them. Thus, the PV is helping the utility avoid expensive investments that are rarely used.

I guess the difficulty is that 'second peak' that occurs around 5pm where people come home, flip on the TV, flip on the home AC, fire up the electric range, etc. But perhaps they could use more demand-response to address that peak.

And perhaps they should get people to orient their panels with more of a southwest direction instead of south to improve afternoon performance.

PV can also be made to support other power quality metrics, such as frequency regulation and/or voltage regulation. Currently, contracts are just concerned with power, but in the future, expect requirements for smarter inverters that deliver other grid benefits to the utility. It is inevitable, that as penetration increases, that extra demands will be made for new grid connected PV. Eventually maybe even some storage attached to smart grid will be demanded. I'm guessing this won't be storage good for hours, but maybe just a minute of three of output, in order to smooth transients.

Written by aardvark:
I think householders should offer electricity to the utilities at a price the utilities are prepared to pay

The utilities should be required to purchase the electricity from PV systems at a price that makes PV profitable as amortized at the time of installation. The company that owns the power lines has a monopoly, and the companies that own the centralized fossil fueled generators do not pay for all of their pollution. Those householders with PV systems are paying the full cost minus rebates and incentives. That is a renewable energy feed-in tariff.

The notion that a grid-tied PV system uses the grid for storage is incorrect. The power from the PV systems is consumed, not stored, and the utilities (not the producers) are paid for that consumption.

Jazayeri's assertion, "They should pay something for that service," is ridiculous because, as the rules are currently requite, the PV system owners are compelled to sell their electricity at a loss (4 cents / kWh in California) while the utilities make huge profits selling it at the full retail price without incurring any of the costs of installation and generation. The current rules discourage homeowners from generating more electricity than they consume which discourages the distributed generation of renewable energy. The utility companies wrote these rules to benefit themselves. Jazayeri is spouting off about how much he and the utilities hate competition and renewable energy.

I don't have a problem with residential not getting full price for excess annual power. Adding net generators to the grid requires a substantial degree of planning and engineering. New DG generation has to negotiate power purchase agreements etc. This is more economically done in larger units. If homeowners want to become power producers, they can directly invest in utility scale solar/wind. And note those negotiated power purchase agreements rarely pay the residential power rate, usually something much lower. But, they are still being built, i.e. they are already seen as profitable investments.

I think negotiating power purchase agreements for each individual rooftop PV installation would be a bad idea. Create a uniform feed-in tariff for all rooftop/small scale PV systems and allow centralized ones to negotiate.

If homeowners want to become power producers, they can directly invest in utility scale solar/wind.

which discourages distributed power generation and perpetuates the current centralized system. There is less risk in owning your own system than in trusting others with your money.

The negotiated PPA argument is about establishing roughly a fair price for excess power. It obviously doesn't make sense to apply individual negotiations to each small holder.
I don't think a lower price for excess annual generation discourages DG. It discourages people installing PV in excess of their own usage. But, if you do that, then you are now a power generator, and should be compensated similar to larger scale PV generators. Even at net zero (or maybe even half net-zero) there is a chance you are imposing extra distributional costs. Since peak PV to average annual PV is something like 5:1, during good times a net-zero sized customer can be pumping out 4 to 5 times their average consumption. This may mean that local wires and/or transformers etc. might have to be upgraded. If we let people get away with imposing substantial costs on the grid, expect there to be an antisolar backlash. Better to head that off, by being good grid-citizens in the first place.

Running the grid is a fixed cost.
So if users cut down the number of kilowatt hours they buy then the carry cost for the grid should go up to them if they are not to burden other customers.

Costs and resources vary so widely it is difficult to provide one set of figures, but in an area with a lot of natural gas burn the cost/kwh at the plant gate might be 4 cents, and the grid cost might add another 4 before it reaches the customer.

So if you knock 75% off of the amount of energy consumed, then to pay for the grid whatever you do consume should be priced at 4 times the grid cost based on average consumption, plus the natural gas consumed.

You then arrive at a true price of maybe 20 cents/kwh for the remaining use of grid electricity.

These figures are only illustrative, of course, but serve to show that the grid costs should be much higher for solar users, and they are currently not charged for this, everyone else is.

As against that, where grid use peaks in during the day in summer, then the solar installations provide 'good watts' which shave the grids use of expensive peaking power.

The reverse is true in places like Germany, where use peaks heavily in winter, and the solar output is produced when least needed.
The northern states in the US with large peaks both winter and summer are an in-between case.
A true cost to the grid of making their problems of providing peaking power even worse would put up the grid costs for solar users heavily in the northern US, and massively in Germany.

So the bottom line is that even in sunny places solar users should be paying more for using the grid, which they are not currently charged.

Paying them to supply power in places where their output is not useful to the grid does not and will never make sense.

Solar works best in sunny places.
Who could have guessed?

"Solar works best in sunny places."

You've said it a lot of times now.. is it getting any more true yet?

Meanwhile there are rapidly growing numbers of installations of Solar Thermal and PV up here in Maine, offsetting Oil, Gas and so on..

Solar Works Best if you have it.. and here in Maine, I need that heat arguably much more than my cousins in Arizona, so the EFFECTIVENESS of that solar, even if it's less in quantity, or I need more collector space to get my work done, is very high proportionally.

Frankly, Solar up here can save lives, can protect buildings from being destroyed by frozen pipes due to a downed grid, an empty fuel tank or a bankrupt family.

Meanwhile there are rapidly growing numbers of installations of Solar Thermal and PV up here in Maine, offsetting Oil, Gas and so on..

Ha! Next thing you know, you'll be trying to convince us that the sun actually shines in Maine. Really now!
I mean think about it, I live in 'The Sunshine State' and it's been partly cloudy with rain showers for the last 3 days...
Sunshine in Maine, in the winter?! now that's a good one. And my sister has evacuated vacuum solar panels for hot water on her roof in Germany purely for the aesthetics... /sarc

Years ago, the NREL produced a CD with synthetic solar data for use with simulations. They combined real data into a yearly time series for various locations. I played with the data and in most locations, the minimum solar availability occurred when the outside temperature was around 40-45 deg F. Perhaps that was caused by the fact that the clouds form at higher elevations where the temperature was freezing. This suggests the colder climate locations might actually experience a greater fraction of the available TOA solar energy down at ground level during winter. Of course, that might not apply to specific locations where the micro climate was influenced by local conditions, such as warm ocean or lake water up wind (think Buffalo, NY)...

E. Swanson

Hey Fred,

At the risk of being impertinent, I wish our good friends in Maine would share a little of that sunshine with us because I can't remember the last time Sol Invictus graced these parts. All of us look like we're extras on the Twilight series. :-(


We are mixing up several things in this discussion:

1. Renewable energy in general, which can be directly applied as in solar thermal water heating, etc.

2. Renewable energy sources applied to the electric power grid

3. Distributed renewable power sources feeding the grid in a multitude of locations on the branches of the distribution system.

These are all very different design issues. If you want to do the last one, who is going to pay to make a system that can do this? Just because you can probably keep the wires does not mean the job is done.

DaveW wrote: "Running the grid is a fixed cost.
So if users cut down the number of kilowatt hours they buy then the carry cost for the grid should go up to them if they are not to burden other customers."

Correct, the model would be the heat market (district heating) where you already pay for both, maximum power demand (kW) and energy (kWh).

A useful byproduct of charging peak power would be that people and towns think harder about storage, which could reduce the peaks by 70%.
I have even in winter due to heat pump at -15 °C an energy demand of 24h * 1.5 kW for heat pump + 12 kWh for household = 48 kWh (thats worst case). So with storage (battery) I could cope with a maximum power from grid of about 3-4 kW, at the moment I have and can use > 10 kW.

DaveW wrote: "The reverse is true in places like Germany, where use peaks heavily in winter, and the solar output is produced when least needed."

Half true: daily peaks are in summer when PV produces, this would still be useful even with twice the current power. In winter wind power should give the major contribution, that is why all serious studies have 70 GW on-shore + 30-70 GW offshore wind. Another contribution for a solution should come from biomass/biogas, we should ot use these as base load but for peak production in winter (political problem, not physics :-)).

Fixed costs are a big deal and the dynamics are similar to gasoline taxes paying for road repair.
I pay about 11c/kwh (for the first tier of consumption) but I also pay 11c/kwh in delivery charges, topped off with a bunch of fixed monthly charges. So although theoretically I pay 11c/kwh in reality it's 22 which dramatically changes break even calculations for LED bulbs, solar etc.


WeekendPeak, which state do you live in and what electricity company do you get service from?

I'm in NYC and National Grid is my provider....

Written by DaveW:
serve to show that the grid costs should be much higher for solar users, and they are currently not charged for this, everyone else is.

This is false.

1. For a solar user to pay nothing to a utility his PV system would have to produce exactly the amount of energy that he consumes during the billing period. If he produces less than he consumes, then he buys electricity at the retail price. If he produces more than he consumes, then he sells the power to the utility at some low wholesale price.

2. When a grid-tied PV system outputs less power than the house currently consumes, then the electricity goes through the solar meter, through the regular meter and back into the house. It only uses the AC waveform from the nearby grid transformer for phase matching. It reduces the power passing through the transformer which reduces its temperature and increases its lifetime.

3. When a grid tied PV system outputs more power than the house currently consumes, then the electricity goes through the solar meter out into the grid and into a building in the neighborhood that is consuming power. This reduces the load on the distant transformers and centralized power stations.

Running the grid is a fixed cost.

This is also false because a local grid costs less than a long distance grid. A local grid has fewer parts and probably less power loss.

Your argument is trying to charge the full cost of grid to the residential PV producer when he uses less of it and places a lessor burden upon the rest. Just go off-grid and stop doing business with the demons in business suits.

BlueTwilight,I think you are wrong.

In Germany the grid costs a part of the price of a consumed kWh electricity. If I produce 70% of my electricity demand by PV on my roof I pay only 30% of the grid costs compared to somebody who has no PV. However, in winter when PV deliver nothing I cause the same peak demand as somebody without PV. This problem can only be solved if power and energy are charged seperately.

However, in winter when PV deliver nothing

Do they get cold and electrons stop moving?

Last I knew winter doesn't stop PV from delivering electricity.

eric blair, BlueTwilight,

in winter ( in central Europe) the production of PV is very small so we can forget it, OTOH the demand peak for electricity due heating is in winter, result is that you need the highest power when you produce nothing. Hope that is clear.

The gird infrastructure depends on peak power demand, therefore, somebody with a domestic PV production which covers 70% of his demand (in spring-summer-autum) causes the same costs as sombody without PV but pay only 30% of the latter.

Power and energy are two different products which were sold as package in the past because it was convinient, with PV and wind we have to change this business model.

In your example, he does not cause the same cost in the grid as somebody without PV. He used electricity from the grid in the winter and pays for it. During the rest of the year he usually generates more energy than he uses during the day and draws power from the grid at night. In Germany who is paid and how much for the PV power that is sent to the grid?

To charge PV owners the way you are suggesting, consider how the power use will be monitored. You will need 3 measurements:

1. the energy output by the solar inverter during the billing period,
2. the energy from the solar inverter sent to the grid during the billing period (this is less than the value in 1 because normally some PV power is sent to the house); and
3. the energy taken from the grid to power the house during the billing period.

2 and 3 can not be determined from the way the solar and regular meters are currently wired and operate. I have been thinking about how to connect the meters in an AC circuit to measure 2 and 3 but can not think of a good way to do it. If the instantaneous measurements of both meters are subtracted ((power reading of PV meter) - (power reading of regular meter)), the positive results summed, the negative results summed separately and both values recorded, then the positive summation represents the PV power sent to the grid and the negative summation, the power drawn from the grid. This would allow the people without PV systems to pay a high price to the PV owners for the renewable power they consume, and the owners of grid-tied PV systems can be charged for the power they consume from the grid which would include the cost of the grid. Someone would have to design and buy specialty equipment which would be added to the price consumers pay for electricity. Using a standard AC power meter as the solar meter and adopting net metering is easier and cheaper.

Written by Ulenspiegel:
If I produce 70% of my electricity demand by PV on my roof I pay only 30% of the grid costs compared to somebody who has no PV. However, in winter when PV deliver nothing I cause the same peak demand as somebody without PV. This problem can only be solved if power and energy are charged seperately.

If you produce 70% of your power and consume 30% of your power from the grid, then you used at least 30% of the grid. Only some of the power your PV system generates goes out into the grid.

I am not familiar with the German electric power grid, but in the U.S. there is a transformer on a power pole near the house that steps down the high voltage on the power line to the 3 pole, 240 VAC / 120 VAC that is sent to the house. The utility company does not have the ability to remotely control that transformer and probably can not even remotely monitor it. The output of the PV inverter is connected to the solar meter and probably a circuit breaker. That is connected to the input of the regular electric meter and using longer wires (probably hollow aluminum conductors with higher resistance), to the low voltage side of the transformer on the pole. The transformer on the pole operates bi-directionally. It can step-down the high voltage on the power line to the lower voltage used by the house, or step-up the lower voltage output by the inverter to the high voltage on the power line.

For example, if the house is consuming 2,000 W and the inverter is outputting 1,500 W, then the power output from the inverter does not travel along the aluminum cable to the transformer on the pole. The 1,500 W goes into the house and 500 W comes from the transformer on the pole to supply the 2,000 W being consumed by the house. The inverter matches its power output to the AC waveform being output from the transformer on the pole. The power from the PV system is not sent out to the grid and the PV system does not use the grid except for phase matching the waveform. The PV system is reducing the power drawn from the grid which reduces its use of the grid.

You are advocating charging the homeowner for using the grid even though he did not use it. I think your misconception results from the way the solar and regular electric meters are connected. You think that what goes out through the solar meter is sent out to the grid and what comes into the regular meter comes from the grid.

To expand on the above example, assume a cloud comes by and reduces the power output from the solar inverter to 300 W. The transformer on the pole then sends 1,700 W to the house to maintain the 2,000 W that is being consumed. The utility sees this as a variable load in the neighborhood (if they even have real time monitoring at that level). Initially some house in the neighborhood consumed 500 W, and then it consumed 1,700 W. The utility has no idea whether the occupants of the house were running some lights and a TV that consumed 500 W and then turned on a microwave oven that consumed 1,200 W, or whether it was the PV system whose power output varied while the load remained constant. The utility only knows the aggregate readings from the two meters after they are recorded.

Continuing the example, the cloud passes allowing the output of the solar inverter to return to 1,500 W. Shortly thereafter the 1,700 W microwave oven in the house is shut off leaving the 300 W load from the refrigerator. The transformer on the pole immediately stops sending power to the house. 300 W from the solar inverter goes into the house and the remaining 1,200 W goes to the transformer on the pole which steps up the power to match the higher voltage on the power line. Now the PV system is using the neighborhood grid. Let's say the neighborhood grid was using 100 kW which came through various other transformers, switches and circuit breakers from a coal fired generator 200 kilometers away that was outputting 1 GW. The 1,200 W is not going to feed back to the 1 GW generator 200 km away. It reduces the 100 kW passing through the neighborhood transformer to 98.8 kW. Again, to the utility, it looks like normal variable load. The PV power simply goes to the nearest houses whose combined consumption is at least 1,200 W. The power from the PV system is going through the electric meters and into the houses of the neighbors.

The situation changes if there are many houses in the neighborhood with PV systems. If there is enough PV power to exceed the demand in the neighborhood grid, then that PV power will be stepped up through the neighborhood transformer to the next higher voltage line. The PV power is now distributed to multiple neighborhoods. Neighborhood transformers are more likely to be remotely monitored or controlled, but there is no guarantee. From the perspective of the 1 GW coal generator this still looks like variable load. When the power produced from residential grid-tied PV systems gets to about 20% to 40% of neighborhood consumption, they start to push power out of the neighborhood grid at peak times.

For centralized electrical power stations, whether they be coal powered generators, hydroelectric stations, wind farms, PV arrays, etc., the utility should have some ability to turn on, turn off, throttle or route the power to particular bulk loads. The utility does not have those abilities with residential PV systems. When they created specification for grid-tied inverters, the utilities chose to treat residential PV systems like a load instead of a generator. Eventually this choice will limit the number of homes that can have grid-tied PV systems or the fractional amount of power that comes from distributed PV. They intentionally created a system that guarantees their continued existence and profit.

To summarize, in low penetrations (less than 20% to 40% of the houses in the neighborhood with grid-tied PV systems) a residential PV system only sends power through the neighborhood grid. It uses the transformer on the pole and the wires in the neighborhood. It causes less power to be drawn through the neighborhood transformer and from the distant generator. It uses the signal from the distant generator to phase match the waveform without drawing power from the grid.

It is not fair to charge the PV owner for reducing his use of the larger grid. It is incorrect to state the cost of the entire grid is fixed and uniform. The neighbor without the PV system who consumes power from the neighboring PV systems should be charged an extra amount for using this expensive renewable electricity. He did not have the upfront cost of installing the PV system and does not pay for its maintenance. However, the payments all go to the utility who buys surplus power at below cost from the PV owner. One can not assess fairness until one correctly understands how the grid is being used. It is fair for the consumer of electricity to pay more than the producer in capitalism. However, that is not quite the way the U.S. PV feed-in tariffs are designed, on purpose, by the big producers to suppress the little producers. The homeowners without PV systems are using the entire grid between their houses and the generator. They use the local grid when they draw power from their neighbor's PV system. In capitalism the consumer is the one who ultimately pays. The homeowner without the PV system is the consumer. The homeowner with the grid-tied PV system is the producer. The consumer should pay for his use of the grid, not the producer.

You are assuming when you put power into a grid it goes down the shortest path to the guy next door.

You can't assume that. It is the utility's job to find a customer for the power you put into the grid, and they can argue they need the ability to move it wherever there is a demand for it. So you need to pay towards the upkeep of the full grid.

If you want to sell power to your neighbor at utility prices, run a line from your PV setup to your neighbor and negotiate a deal directly with him. See how much he is prepared to pay for intermittent and unpredictable power.

Grid connected PV setups should pay to the utility a fixed cost for grid upkeep plus a finding fee for finding customers. In return they should receive a price for their power that reflects its low-quality, capricious nature.

Grid connected PV setups should pay to the utility a fixed cost for grid upkeep plus a finding fee for finding customers. In return they should receive a price for their power that reflects its low-quality, capricious nature.

WOW! Do you perchance work for the 'BIG GRID'?

No, I'm at the mercy of the Government Grid. I don't work for anyone. But I believe in free market willing buyer, willing seller solutions if they can be found.

It seems that if you are selling your power via the grid, the utility is acting as your agent. You're in the same position as an artist selling his paintings to a gallery, or the farmer his produce to a store. The buyer is a middle man, not the ultimate consumer. And the utility has the added urgency that it cannot store the goods. It has to sell them immediately at whatever price it can get.

"You are assuming when you put power into a grid it goes down the shortest path to the guy next door."

It's not an assumption. Electrons will be drawn to the nearest load.

"You can't assume that. It is the utility's job to find a customer for the power you put into the grid, and they can argue they need the ability to move it wherever there is a demand for it. So you need to pay towards the upkeep of the full grid."

What? You think they have little electron herders cruising the grid, diverting renewable energy electrons to specially designated loads?

Oh all right. I concede. But if you are buying electricity one clear and windless night, those electrons are coming from a power station far away, and you have to pay your share of the grid upkeep.

That is why there is a "grid fee" on my bill.

"It's not an assumption. Electrons will be drawn to the nearest load."
Not entirely true. Consider the grid as a bunch of parallel impedance's. The lowest impedance will suck up most electrons but some will go through even the highest impedance.

So e.g. a small portion of wind power from northern Germany to an end-user in southern Germany will flow even via Poland -> Romania -> former Czechoslovakia -> Italy -> France to Southern Germany.

You are assuming when you put power into a grid it goes down the shortest path to the guy next door.

In the sense that the electromotive potential will seek the shortest path, yes that is a good assumption.

But feel free to show how your vision is supported by physics.

(And do feel free to go back upthread and reply about the nature of the grid operators having agreed to be regulated "in the public interest" for using Government force to take away property rights of private landholders and not pay tax on the land they occupy.)

If you want to sell power to your neighbor at utility prices, run a line from your PV setup to your neighbor and negotiate a deal directly with him.

Show how this is supported under law.

And, while you are at it, show how I can do this, just like the utility and not only not pay taxes on the "improvement" but allow me to confiscate land without compensation.

See how much he is prepared to pay for intermittent and unpredictable power.

That is what the electric company sells to most consumers - unless you have access to contracts or law that show electrical power from "the grid" is 100%.

aardvark wrote:

It shouldn't be too difficult to install some sort of auction metering system.

Just what we do NOT need is another casino capitalism scheme! In New Jersey our SREC solar credits for providing solar powered electricity back to the grid is ALREADY an auction system! It is totally confusing and took a huge dip from $600 to $200 in the past few years as New Jersey has succeeded in becoming 2nd to California in solar installations. To get stable behavior you need stable prices, revenues and costs.
A major problem for renewable Green Energy in the US is the uncertainty of yo-yo-ing
policies on solar credits, wind credits etc. When solar and renewable energy becomes well over 50% of energy production then we can shift policies. But right now we should be moving as fast as possible into solar electricity with backup.


But her remarkable and disturbing history ultimately illuminates another hidden hydrocarbon holocaust. Our frightful addiction to fossil fuels has not only fouled the atmosphere but given us a wealth of chemicals, plastics and technologies that increasingly undoes the health of millions with cancers. It, too, has given us rich armies of PR men employing “the same expert public relations strategies that kept us tied in knots on tobacco.”

Davis knows that changing medical perspectives and priorities, from treatment to prevention, will be an enormous task. But she does not despair. In fact she ends her book with a simple Talmudic story. Faced with a complicated assignment, a group of workers rhyme off the usual excuses: They haven’t got the tools or they haven’t got the energy. But a good rabbi (sounding much like Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings) sets them straight: “It is not for you to complete the task,” he says. “But you must begin.”

And that little nugget of encouragement and wisdom, even if it does come from a religious leader, is the essence of our most important responsibility! It applies equally to all the facets of our predicament. Whether it be ending population growth and ecological overshoot, stopping our unsustainable over consumption of natural resources, ending the release of CO2 and even worse pollutants into the atmosphere and the oceans and finally learning to have a modicum of respect for our dependence on nature.

But we, each and every one of us, must begin! If we don't then we can be absolutely guaranteed that there will be no one left to complete the task. And we must begin now, even if we think that it may already be too late, for there is nothing else left to do that makes any sense!

Maybe we can all start by taking some small steps. Ask people like Paul in Halifax how you can reduce your consumption of electricity. Maybe put your car keys in lock box with multiple levels of security access so it makes them really difficult to get to on the spur of the moment. Leave your bicycle inside right by your front door. Don't get on that next flight either for business or pleasure. Go out and say hello to your neighbors and tell them what you did to your car keys and why >;-) Ok, I can dream can't I? But I can also practice what I'm preaching.

Especially the Gandalf quote. Too often we balk, because we can't imagine completing the task.

Now, Fred, here's your assignment, should you choose to accept it. Go jump on an airplane and visit each and every kindergarten in the USA to preach exactly that message, using appropriate props and sound effects so the kids will never forget it.

Thanks in advance for all that good work.

PS, and tell the kids they gotta go plant lots and lots of trees to make up for all that kerosene you had to spread around to spread the word around.

PPS, or maybe you could do the very same thing with a mere TV virus, which would be able to spread the word even to the adults, altho I do believe adults are impossible, like really impossible, oh well, we gotta start somewhere.

PPPS It is a truth universally acknowledged that ya gotta practice what you preach so that you can preach what you practice.

I don't belong to those who believe in cold fusion, but now actually the Swedish state owned energy giant Vattenfall is investigating the concept.


The article is in swedish but can be translated with web tools. They do discuss the possibility that the method violates known physical laws.

To me the news value here is that a serious energy player is actually looking at this.

To me the news value here is that a serious energy player is actually looking at this.

Plenty of "serious players" have looked into "cold fusion". That is not news.

For Human energy use the effect has to be more than a parlor trick.

http://lenr-canr.org/ for people who want to look at why some believe and hope.

Some government and corporate entities have so much money (coerced out of you and me) that they decide to spend bits of it on crazy ideas, perhaps just for the amusement of some decision makers. So, e.g., the CIA funds "paranormal research", etc.

My own "gut feeling" rule about energy sources is: if it's possible, then we should see it happening in nature. E.g., forest fires happen naturally. Stars run on (hot) fusion, so it's potentially an energy source, although I doubt we can arrange it here on Earth. Radioactive minerals demonstrate fission. Geysers prove geothermal energy exists. But show me an example in nature of, e.g. "zero point" energy?

Cold fusion is a bit of an oddball for this "rule", since fusion per se certainly happens (in stars), and proponents can hope that it can somehow be "catalyzed". We cannot "prove" that that is impossible, but I am not hitching my hopes on it. Moreover, the specific claims of Rossi et al can more easily be disproved, e.g., by the lack of measurable radiation.

Perhaps the Big Bang is zeropoint energy made manifest?

I'm skeptical of the Big Bang, in the sense that the entirely universe existed as a singularity (ditto for black holes). We don't have a mathematical explanation for gravity at scales where quantum effects exist, and singularities are the results of applying the current models to those quantum-scale conditions where they haven't been validated.

What exactly happens in black holes? We don't know and probably never will as the event horizon prohibits any information from being sent. My best guess is that the matter enters some sort of condensed, superconductor-like phase with all particles in a single state, but still far from being singularity with no volume.

I'm imaging a super dense particle the size of one Plank-length. Small, but not infinite. That it could be any smaller than that is excluded, since gravity can only reach in multiples of one plank length.

Historically whenever infinity have popped up in physical formulaes, something have been wrong, and they have figured out what was wrong and fixed it. There still is infinity in the current formulaes of black holes, so my guess is there are still more work to do :c)

Framing the argument can limit the answers. "The universe" is quite a prejudicial conceit... It might as well be "The monkey universe", where monkeys are the center of all things... like how everything, including the sun, was long ago envisioned as revolving around the monkey's land in the sky. Then it was decided that their sun was the center. Then their galaxy was The Galaxy.

A Flight Through (this) Universe
...it's a snowstorm of galaxies. Look, and they seem to exist along arcs like the walls of bubbles in a foam or a sponge. The distances are vast. Our galaxy is more than a trillion trillion miles across: a span of over 100,000 light years: at the speed of light, it would take absolutely no time whatsoever to cross it.

There could be a foam of universes:
There could be a thousand universes pinched between your fingertips:
And, most disturbingly, there could also be a universe for every occasion:
...which nicely explains how all the magic constants line up in ours to allow us to make naive assumptions.


Since dark energy is pushing this universe apart ever faster, perhaps it will meet the advancing edges of many more and there condense under pressure to ignite another bang in Vishnu's dream.

Joseph Campbell

When you look up into the mirror of Hubble's original telescope on Mount Wilson, it is of green glass filled with trapped bubbles from when the champagne bottles were melted to make it. It was hauled up the mountain with the help of mules just 100 years ago. You can now look that up on your smartphone while doing 200MPH on the Autobahn.... and we are yet kindergarteners.


"The monkey universe", where monkeys are the center of all things...

But monkeys are the center of all things!

Red Shift



The Big Bang started in my backyard.

Location, location, and location.

And now, a few minutes later that fixed point is now farther away due to the Earth spinning about its axis, the rotation about the Sun, this arm of the Galaxy moving about its axis of rotation, and the whole Galaxy moving to collide with that other Galaxy.

No! It started in my back yard! And also the front yard of that little green man from the Galaxy M-87. And ... Everywhere, and nowhere is the center of the universe.

I'm skeptical of the Big Bang, in the sense that the entirely universe existed as a singularity

I don't believe any physicist endorses such a theory either.

There may well be examples of LENR happening in nature. Neutrons are sometimes detected near lightning. It might help explain some of the concentrations of various elements in the earths crust assuming very low rates of reactions going on for 4 billion years. The outer layers of the Sun are hotter then the interior.

But it's kind of a bogus argument, high temperature super conductors aren't found in nature, but they are real.

Here is some news out of Japan.

There are many others, including the Martin Fleischmann Memorial Project

I didn't say that everything that is possible happens in nature (although mostly it probably does somewhere). But energy is different. It kind of "likes" to get liberated. It bursts out, self-fueled. That's the second law, if you want: with enough random jiggling the energy will leak out. If it doesn't, it's probably not there.

How do you figure production of neutrons from lightening is LENR?

Given that a 10 MV potential difference, routine in lightening, is capable of accelerating a charged particle to 10 MeV i.e. sufficient energy to overcome the typical binding energy of a nucleon in a collision...

I'd say it is similar to this


Here is a presentation about LENR happening in lightning. Exploding wires have been known to cause transmutations since the 1960's, LENR can explain that, and Lightning is just a big exploding wire.


You clearly missed the point... LENR as a "discipline" refers to nuclear processes otherwise occuring below threshold... ~10 Million volt lightning bolts are not LE in this regard given that typically nucleon binding energies are at the level of a few MeV...

e.g. see mu catalyzed fusion or very low level rates of D-D fusion observed in doubly heavy water etc...

The mother of Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza who slaughtered 20 US schoolchildren and seven adults was a gun-hoarding survivalist who was stockpiling weapons in preparation for an economic collapse, it has emerged.

As a prepper and very quasi-survivalist, I think addressing what happened in CT is inappropriate at this time. First of all, there are too many conflicting "facts". Second, "guns" are becoming a politicized issue.

I don't see any value in everyone linking to the essay that supports their pro or con position so why don't we let it go for a while.


This is what individualist "survival" is, Todd. It's murderous, suicidal delusion. Nobody is going to "survive" in a suburb because they have six months of canned goods and a small arsenal. That's just stupid.

The gun culture is part of the ongoing Reagan Revolution, and is tolerated by the powers that be because it keeps people lost in the outdated American dream that we're all some kind of cowboy frontiersmen, willing and able to solve all our problems without discussion and control of collective affairs.

Balderdash. When the downturn grows fangs, we'll either address it together with democracy, or act like a pack of Nancy and Adam Lanzas.

Or to put it another way, "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword."

Or the less fair, "He whose neighbor lives by the sword, may die by that sword?"

The culture is: "If I survive longer than you, I win."

It won't be isn't either or; it's all of the above, and then some. Seems some frogs are already jumping out of their pots. I've determined it's prudent to prepare for a range of possibilities.

Our Sherrif's Dept. conducts firearm training for civilians and helps to support a militia of sorts (called the 'Posse'). Posse comitatus (common law)...

Posse comitatus is the common-law or statute law authority of a county sheriff or other law officer to conscript any able-bodied man to assist him in keeping the peace or to pursue and arrest a felon, similar to the concept of the "hue and cry". Originally found in English common law, it is generally obsolete; however, it survives in the United States, where it is the law enforcement equivalent of summoning the militia for military purposes.

...not sure how I feel about that, but am sure I don't want them to be the only ones around with 'leverage'.

I believe I read somewhere a theory that individualistic people tend to lash out more at other people whereas collectivist individuals turn their anger on themselves. So for instance in Japan which I believe is quite collectivist and has a low differential between the wealthy and poor they tend to commit suicide whereas in the U.S. they are much more likely to kill others. I.E. A collectivist is more likely to blame themselves for say failing a job or not doing well at study and failing whereas an individualist is more likely to say 'it's the stupid professors who aren't teaching this course properly'.

I'm sure a lot is cultural. I suspect entertainment supplies a lot of this. It is so tempting plotwise to have a character who is doomed say something like "If I gotta go, I'm gonna take a lot of them with me!". We all have absorbed that particular meme. So when you got someone who has reached a point where they figure there is no way out but suicide, and they blame society in general (not themselves) for their predicament, it is probably natural to decide to go out in some way that pays back society several times over. Once you think about this that way, it seems remarkable that so few suicides actually end up like NewTown.

Nobody is going to "survive" in a suburb because they have six months of canned goods and a small arsenal. That's just stupid

Exactly. It's another one of those urban myths propagated by Hollywood and zombie TV shows. As if one can be a John Rambo and come out on top. A word of advice given by my self defense teacher..."Amateurs fight alone, professionals fight in teams"

Chris Rock on gun control:


No more innocent bystanders.

so why don't we let it go for a while.

After the Aurora shooting in Denver, the Governor of Colorado said the same. After 6 months he finally said it was now the time to begin the debate about gun control. The next day the shooting in Connecticut occurred. If these shootings continue to happen this often, then it becomes impossible to let it go for a while unless you don't ever want to have this debate.

So when should one have this discussion?


So when should one have this discussion?

There isn't going to be any discussion. The issue is politicized and emotion will carry the day.

But, in reality, the issue isn't guns, it's our f'ked up society and no one wants to touch that with a 100 foot pole because it brings to the forefront all the crap that has gone on for decades from dangerous psychiatric pharmaceuticals to banksters who break the law and walk free while harming thousands of people to NDAA to blah, blah, blah. And, let's talk about how many people are killed by vehicles and drones mentioned in another post.

Look, I mentioned above that I'm old. You could buy a gun at the store any day or from the Sears catalog. In my Update newsletter this week I mentioned that I had a lot of stuff that could kill people from a 32cal pistol at 10 years old to a bow and arrow with deadly points. NO ONE DID THIS STUFF BACK THEN - SOCIETY HAS CHANGED!! And, if you want to root this stuff out you have to take on how society has changed and why and no one is going to do that.


"NO ONE DID THIS STUFF BACK THEN - SOCIETY HAS CHANGED!! And, if you want to root this stuff out you have to take on how society has changed and why and no one is going to do that."

Maybe one of the biggest changes is the media itself. BAck when Walter Cronkite was reading the news there were three 30 minute news programs each day on television. We now have, what?, at least 3 twenty four hour news stations and something like three hourly news programs every day on many other channels. Plus newspapers and news magazines. The news media, both print and electronic absolutely love these tragedies. And the next bunch of lunatics see the coverage and dream of their own 15 minutes of fame.

I'm not eager to align myself with the NRA but I've come to the firm belief that this is a 1st amendment issue much more than a 2nd amendment issue.

It's deeper than the media. The media is a symptom not a cause. Albeit a symptom with some positive feedback loop qualities.

Todd is getting more fundamental than that. And I agree.

It's about the widespread lack of self respect, the huge number of people that allow the media to f*%k with them. People not sticking up for themselves in a healthy way. People deferring to "experts". People afraid to lead or even stand up. People going from timid to explosive.

Society is different.

And guns are a problem. It's not either/or. It's both.

We have a heavily armed and sick society. Some places have a heavily armed less sick society and they don't kill one another as often. Other places may be as screwed up (maybe not, western culture is bad) but are not as heavily armed so they have a harder time killing one another, and their children are not mowed down like toy soldiers.

I don't know how sick we are compared to other societies or what that sickness might be. I don't see many people that scare me. I never have. Certainly there are a few absolute locos around but in the world I live in the biggest change I've seen in 50 years of adult-hood is the media. Look at television from the 1960s: pure innocence. Does the media reflect the society or drive it? Who knows. But certainly the sensationalization of these events, including, so far, 4 days of constant commentary on the most recent one have to be stimulation for the sickos to seek their own kind of hideous glory.

At least there should be no mention of the perp's name or displaying of his likeness.

I wonder, and have wondered, whether the media reflects or drives society. Either way - unplug quick! I hear what you say about the devolution of media - DEVO was right.

What really made me mad was interrupting the football game last night for Obama's little talk. They cut away from the big game. Can't their be one little place where we're not beat over the head with all the BS? Please??

A national mood is being dictated, you must comply.

Hey Todd,

In general I tend to agree with your points. However to be fair, the absolute worst school massacre in the US happened back in 1927, perhaps not coincidentally but there were a lot of stresses on people and society in general back then as well. It was just two years before the stock market crash of 1929 which lead into the Great Depression and World War II.

Very interesting read, it seems the more things change the more they have stayed the same!


The Bath School disaster is the name given to three bombings in Bath Township, Michigan, on May 18, 1927, which killed 38 elementary school children, two teachers, and four other adults; at least 58 people were injured. The perpetrator first killed his wife, and committed suicide with his last explosion. Most of the victims were children in the second to sixth grades (7–14 years of age[1]) attending the Bath Consolidated School. Their deaths constitute the deadliest mass murder in a school in United States history.

The bomber was the school board treasurer Andrew Kehoe, 55, who was angry after being defeated in the spring 1926 election for township clerk. He was thought to have planned his "murderous revenge" after that public defeat; he had a reputation for difficulty on the school board and in personal dealings. For much of the next year, a neighbor noticed Kehoe had stopped working on his farm and thought he might be planning suicide. During that period, Kehoe carried out steps in his plan to destroy the school and his farm by purchasing and hiding explosives.

Kehoe's wife was ill with tuberculosis and he had stopped making mortgage payments; he was under pressure for foreclosure. Some time between May 16 and the morning of May 18, 1927, Kehoe murdered his wife by hitting her on the head. On the morning of May 18 about 8:45, he exploded incendiary devices in his house and farm buildings, setting them on fire and destroying them.

Almost simultaneously, an explosion devastated the north wing of the school building, killing many schoolchildren. Kehoe had used a timed detonator to ignite dynamite and hundreds of pounds of incendiary pyrotol, which he had secretly planted inside the school over the course of many months. As rescuers gathered at the school, Kehoe drove up, stopped, and used a rifle to detonate dynamite inside his shrapnel-filled truck, killing himself, the school superintendent, and several others nearby, as well as injuring more bystanders. During rescue efforts at the school, searchers discovered an additional 500 pounds (230 kg) of unexploded dynamite and pyrotol planted throughout the basement of the south wing. Kehoe had apparently intended to blow up and destroy the whole school.

Perhaps we could all use a little HP Lovecraft to put things into perspective...
Away in a madhouse

I wouldn't say no one did. I remember a Texas university shooting where the perp climbed a tower, and killed somewhere in the high teens. It was rarer, not nonexistent. I think two things have changed. One is availability of high rate of fire weapons, with large clips. That means that when someone loses it the body count can be much higher. The other is the meme of I'm gonna take out a lot of those bastards when I go. I think this meme is pretty pervasive, though few take it seriously.

It takes a professional to obtain a high kill rate with non-automatic weapons, but Charles Whitman who committed the University of Texas killings was a highly trained Marine sniper

Charles Joseph Whitman (June 24, 1941 – August 1, 1966) was an engineering student and former Marine who killed 13 people and wounded 32 others in a shooting rampage located in and around the Tower of the University of Texas in Austin on the afternoon of August 1, 1966.

In his suicide note Whitman said:

"I do not quite understand what it is that compels me to type this letter. Perhaps it is to leave some vague reason for the actions I have recently performed. I do not really understand myself these days. I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately (I cannot recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts."

Whitman drove to his mother's apartment at 1212 Guadalupe Street. After killing his mother, he placed her body on her bed and covered it with sheets. His method is disputed, but officials believed he rendered her unconscious before stabbing her in the heart.

He left a handwritten note beside her body, which read in part:

"To Whom It May Concern: I have just taken my mother's life. I am very upset over having done it. However, I feel that if there is a heaven she is definitely there now [...] I am truly sorry [...] Let there be no doubt in your mind that I loved this woman with all my heart."

Whitman returned to his home at 906 Jewell Street. He stabbed his wife three times in the heart as she slept, killing her instantly. He covered her body with sheets. He resumed the typewritten note he had begun the previous evening.

"I imagine it appears that I brutally killed both of my loved ones. I was only trying to do a quick thorough job [...] If my life insurance policy is valid please pay off my debts [...] donate the rest anonymously to a mental health foundation. Maybe research can prevent further tragedies of this type."

He requested an autopsy, to determine if there was an organic reason for his actions and increasing headaches.

An autopsy conducted upon the body of Charles Whitman—approved by his father—was performed at the Cook Funeral Home on August 2. The autopsy discovered a glioblastoma (a highly aggressive and invariably fatal brain tumor) in the hypothalamus (the white matter located above the brain stem). This tumor would have proven fatal by the end of the year in which Whitman died.

I would say the probably the main difference between Lanza and Whitman is that Whitman was an adult and could buy his own guns, whereas Lanza was a minor and had to borrow his mother's guns, and his mother's guns were much more lethal than Whitman's guns. We await the results of the autopsy.


You got that point across, but did not quote the part about the tumor affecting the amygdala, which controls these kinds of behavior: The Cultural Amygdala.

Our culture is a gun culture (NYT On Guns). Which exacerbates the problem even though it is not the root cause, it is an effect.

Our number one cause of injury death is suicide, both in the civilian realm as well as in the military realm, caused by a violent cultural evolution (Evolution From Left To Right) IMO.

The issue is politicized and emotion will carry the day.

Yes, which is at least as true for the gun owners as well.

Saturday, the day after the massacre was the day with the highest ever number of gun background check requests in Colorado.

So the reaction of the gun owners to the shooting of 20 people of the age of 6 is to buy more guns as soon as possible.

Way to go in the argument of emotion free level headiness of gun owners!

It's perfectly rational -- anybody can see that the chances of laws tightening up are now higher, so it's a good bet to buy those items most likely to become illegal. Not only will you have them, but they will appreciate in value.

In reality, we're all biased, but there are rational components throughout the situations as well.

NO ONE DID THIS STUFF BACK THEN - SOCIETY HAS CHANGED!! And, if you want to root this stuff out you have to take on how society has changed and why and no one is going to do that.

You nailed it.

I don't have a strong opinion on the gun issue either way. But I do have a strong opinion on what will happen if the government tries to crack down on "gun rights."

There are a lot of gun advocates who are rational and reasonable people. But there are also a lot who are paranoid extremists. These guys and gals would sooner start a rebellion than give up their god-given right to bear arms.

Would like to think the US could not devolve into another civil war. The last one was so vicious and horrific, you'd think we would've learned our lesson.

On the other hand, this is an explosively emotional issue and it's starting to split the population into 2 polarized camps.

I'm not so sure society has changed. Except that it's bigger. There are a lot more people, which necessarily means a lot more nuts, and a lot more media covering it. Technology has changed. Adam Lanza fired an estimated 200 bullets in 10 minutes, something that would be difficult to do with the hunting rifles kids used to bring to school and prop up in the coat room.

The problem might be that society hasn't changed.

More Than Eighty Years Later, Remembering the Deadliest School Massacre in American History

The recent shootings in Newtown, Conn., have led many people to characterize school violence as a modern affliction, a byproduct of our national obsession with guns and media violence. But the deadliest school-related massacre in American history happened in 1927, at an elementary school in Bath, Mich. A school board member named Andrew Kehoe, upset over a burdensome property tax, wired the building with dynamite and set it off in the morning of May 18. Kehoe’s actions killed 45 people, 38 of whom were children.

I'm not so sure society has changed.

It has in the sense that there was not as much "violence" in "the media" and 70+ years ago The Nation used to get Congress to draft articles of War. The leaders of the Nation have been in undeclared "kinetic actions" non-stop from the "Korean Conflict" to today.

Except that it's bigger. There are a lot more people, which necessarily means a lot more nuts, and a lot more media covering it.

A larger sample population combined with closer packing of Humans. At least there is the socially acceptable "get in the military" for the kind of person who wants to go kill other humans.

Technology has changed.

Not really. The cartage semi-auto gun is 100 years old. Machining has improved a whole lot, yes - but I'm not sure enough to prevent the guns of old from not having such a fire rate.

Adam Lanza fired an estimated 200 bullets in 10 minutes, something that would be difficult to do with the hunting rifles kids used to bring to school and prop up in the coat room.

A legal fire rate of that was EASIER in the past.

The "Tommy Gun" and later "banana clips". Today you are legally limited to a 5 bullet clip for hunting, I believe.

Some States make bigger clips illegal as I understand.

http://www.captaintactical.com/c-253-magazines.aspx - 100 round .223 and 100 round 5.56

At 200 rounds in 10 mins - isn't that getting into barrel warpage range?

Making something illegal doesn't stop that thing from happening. It just makes it simpler for "the authorities" to select someone for charging under the crime. Too bad the laws don't apply equally to all.

Not really. The cartage semi-auto gun is 100 years old. Machining has improved a whole lot, yes - but I'm not sure enough to prevent the guns of old from not having such a fire rate.

Sure, but kids didn't bring guns like that to school. You just didn't need them for shooting muskrats and the like, and most could not afford them.

I'm not so sure society has changed. Except that it's bigger. There are a lot more people, which necessarily means a lot more nuts, and a lot more media covering it. Technology has changed.

All good points. If something messed up happens today, we hear (and see) about it. I can only imagine if we had that kind of comprehensive "media" coverage back in the days of slavery.

There is an interesting commentary in the Economist on this. It does not foresee a solution, merely states an opinion that, like many Brits, I think I share with the author.

The statistic that stands out to me is the number of homicides (in 2009/2008) attributable to guns in England and Wales (39 deaths) compared with the US (12,000 deaths).


The US has far too many gun deaths. Most of which are consist of young black men killing each other over drugs. Want to do something about gun deaths? Legalize drugs.

Even better perhaps; cede from/phase out centralized gov't; go more local/democratic/human-scaled, less slavery. Less repackaging and reselling the problems as cures. (I heard some talk somewhere about giving teachers guns.)

Probably the only way to actually stop or severely minimize school shootings would be to arm staff. It would probably result in more accidental deaths, and people would go insane at the idea, but it worked in Israel. Mass killers pick schools for a reason - they know no one will be shooting back.

Right - because someone who would shoot up an elementary school is entirely logical and you understand what they are thinking and what motivates them?

Well I know that spree killers pretty much never attack police stations.

And also, in the only country that ever tried it (to my knowledge), arming school staff did stop school attacks.

Also, it doesn't matter what they're thinking. If people onsite are able to defend themselves then far less children will die if an attack happens. Nothing else will stop the shooter once they decide to attack a school.

How many airlines have been hijacked since pilots started carrying guns?

Even though they all don't, the bad guys don't know which ones do and which ones don't.

In my opinion, it's not the TSA, armed pilots, or air marshals that make the difference, but Flight 93. Shifting the mode from negotiating and accommodating political hijackers to confronting suicidal hijackers means there is little to be gained by hijacking flights. Airplanes are quite pervasively hardened now.

The same might work for other enclosed venues if you could convince everyone to charge the assailant(s), but it probably works better with determined men than a bunch of kindergartners. Might have worked in Aurora, but the natural thought to flee (even through overcrowded exits) overwhelms a possible dog-pile tactic.

We had quite a lot of airline hijackings in the sixties. The most popular destination was Havana. Eventually Castro got tired of it and started visibly arresting the hijackers when they got off the plane. I think that might have had something to do with the reduction. Wanna-be leftist revolutionaries, wanted a secure retirement at the end of their mission, and that no longer looked like it would happen.

Only a minority of US pilots are authorized to carry guns in the cockpit, and then only within the US. Carrying guns across international borders can get people into real trouble, and pilots are not normally authorized to do it. It depends on the country.

The real change was putting bulletproof doors on the cockpits and locking them during flight. In the event of an incident, pilots are instructed to take the aircraft to the ground at the nearest airport, and under no circumstances are they to unlock the cockpit door.

This has a chilling effect on hijackers because they know they are not going to get control of the aircraft no matter how many passengers they kill. Very likely the next flight in after them will carry one of the world's best counterterrorism squads if the local government doesn't want to deal with them. The best they can expect is a long prison term in what will probably not be first-world conditions. The worst they can expect is to be tortured, shot, and dumped into the ocean. It depends on the country.

The biggest terrorists are states.

When we live life under such a system of force (violence/coercion/illegitimate authority), we (are more likely to) get school shootings, for example.

"Live by the sword, die by the sword."
~ Book of Revelation

Probably the only way to actually stop or severely minimize school shootings would be to arm staff

I guess teachers should be certified on a shooting range alongside, a bulletproof vest at all the times, maybe snipers on rooftops as well. You can see where I am going with this. It won't be a school anymore at the end of it.
Just one question for you...ever seen a firefight ? Unless you overpower and outgun the other side 10:1 you don't have any control over the situation. I've seen bystanders get maimed for life from of all things 'ricochets'. You'd be lucky if you come out alive, my guess is that some of the students will die in 'friendly fire'.

As they used to say about the Nuclear Arms race, it amounts to all of us standing in a basement full of gasoline and boasting that our side has the most matches.

Following other contemporary nations into a far more rational gun control policy is not ultimately as much about the number of guns around as it is setting the framework for our society's relationship to firearms and firearm violence.

Look at Australia after the Port Arthur Massacre..


The shift in gun violence has been radical.

No Country For Old Men

"I think addressing what happened in CT is inappropriate at this time."

The NRA agrees!

NRA shuts down its Facebook page

...there they are, armed to the teeth, and they flee at the sound of a keyboard.
"Hit Caps-lock real loud, it scares the h#ll out of 'em!"

'Survivalist who kills himself' - that would have made an interesting headline. I know it's an emotional situation with some guy killing a bunch of kids but I'm not going to get all jacked up about something society is unwilling to do anything about, i.e. semi-automatic weapons in the hands of civilians.

I find it fascinating it's against the law to sell grenades but not semi-automatics. The only difference between the two is grenades damage more stuff, but they are equally good at killing people. So as a society we evidently put more value on stuff than lives.

Here's a question: If there was an NGA (National Grenade Assoc.) that had a similar political influence in DC as the NRA, would grenades be available at the checkout counter? "I'll get some of these batteries, a comb, some beer and one of these grenades."

Some stuff. Like many boys I was a bit of a pyro, who loved things that explode. After a few terrorist incidents, most chemical precursers, and stuff like dyna-mite are now pretty heavily controlled. The only differences with guns, are that guns are a protected part of the culture, and that the number of victims overall is much greater. So we already curtail "freedom" to have and play with certain categories of stuff.

Ct Police spokesman says no information about this case should be put out on the internet that does not come from us.

Will prosecute anyone who puts out information.

(so if you post dis-information you are all good? Would even the low bar of LoveOregon's post be enough to warrant work for the local DA? Tune in next time to "As the Stomach turns" or "police state gone wild")

What is your source for that report that the Conn. State Police are threatening to "prosecute" those who "put out" information that doesn't come directly from their spokesman?

What is your source for that report that the Conn. State Police are threatening to "prosecute" those who "put out" information that doesn't come directly from their spokesman?

Maybe this?
Cops to trolls: Sharing misinformation about school shooting is a crime

On Sunday, when addressing the media on the Sandy Hook massacre, Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police warned that anyone posting "misinformation" on the case was committing a crime, and would be investigated "statewide and federally, and prosecution will take place." While it's easy to understand his anger and frustration, any legal action against Internet trolls is unlikely to hold up under the U.S. Constitution, experts say.

Thanks, aj. I missed that one. I thought I had watched all the press briefings.

That whole "own a gun to protect yourself" thing worked well for her...

What Lanza's mother did or did not do re: prepping probably did not have a lot to do with what her son did. He could have obtained those guns from anywhere. Most parents do not have to protect themselves from their children, either. Sure, if she didn't have the guns in the house it may have taken more time for the kid to plan and prepare, but there is too much information missing to create conclusions or take shots at others POV regarding preparation or gun ownership. I have lots of hunting guns in my house, locked in a cabinet and not seen or available for others. It doesn't make me complicit in a crime that someone might commit with my guns if they stole them.

I don't think the issue is the mom's guns or her plans...it is a whole lot more than that and grounded in a deteriorating society. I work in a high school and see kids on the edge, everyday. We don't get the same kind of snaps it seems here in Canada, but I definitely have students that make me extremely uneasy at times. And last week we had a lockdown drill for practice. Messed up times.


I've heard stories that kids back in the day used to take their shotguns to school and store them in their lockers, that's just the way rural culture was. Kids weren't going on shooting rampages back then. Gun control isn't going to solve anything, except further inflame a society already growing wary of centralized control. The problem is the American culture whose central themes revolve around growth, achieving success through individualism, and basically, "Greed is Good" as the driving principle at the heart of the economic system.

These are all totally at odds with the current reality of Peak Oil and economic decline in the US. Unfortunately it will only worsen. It's no wonder people are falling off the deep end when this dream that is central to the American psyche, is basically unattainable. There is no provision in society for dealing with this. I think the US needs a good dose of Buddhist philosophy, that's why it was invented, to moderate the misery of the masses centuries ago in India.

Personally, I'm going to stock up on guns and ammo as soon as I get my license. It's an investment, since when money hyperinflates the most precious metal may become .22 shells.

Null – I’m always conflicted in situations like this. Twice I’ve defended others and once myself with a weapon. Law enforcement was not available. I’m regularly in areas that might rarely become dangerous but am always prepared to defend myself. Law enforce would seldom be able to assist me. I’m very capable and very safe. OTOH this country has a lot of armed folks who are not capable of reacting reasonably to a stressful situation. I use to teach handgun safety and probably rejected about 1/3 of my potential students because I deemed them not emotionally fit to use a firearm to defend themselves or anyone else. But I’m sure every one of them eventually was armed. Twice I’ve forcefully taken a weapon away from someone who should never have been provided one in the first place. When I hunted a good bit I never hunted with anyone I didn’t know very well. Everyone should have the right to bear arms for self-defense. OTOH I don’t trust the majority of our fellow citizens to be armed.

The attack on big government is actually an attack on the idea of common welfare. The public sphere used to provide education, protection, roads, and information for the general population. But, in the way that some rich, childless couples don't see why they should be taxed to support public schools, the rich in the US have their own airplanes, gated communities, security forces -- and don't see why they should pay for public services they seldom use. The fading middle class doesn't see the withdrawal of the wealthy from the community -- they feel the insecurity of living in a crumbling society. It's common to blame immigrants or urban thugs rather than the out-of-reach .01%.

The Hullabaloo blog yesterday had two postings about paranoia infesting people being left behind in the consolidation of wealth in the US.

It's painfully obvious what motivates the rabidly pro-gun base: a deep-seated desire to unwind the social contract and cleanse undesirables who are allegedly stealing their tax dollars. These murderous fear-fueled fantasies have no bearing on any events that will actually take place in the real world (except possibly some decades on by climate change induced migrations), but they are strong motivators nonetheless. Unfortunately, both political parties are also motivated to hold onto the voters who carry these nightmarish visions in their heads.

There's a difference between reasonable survivalist preparations and survivalist fantasies:

I can’t remember seeing a semi-automatic weapon of any kind at a shooting range until the mid-1980’s. Even through the early-1990’s, I don’t remember the idea of “personal defense” being a decisive factor in gun ownership. The reverse is true today: I have college-educated friends - all of whom, interestingly, came to guns in their adult lives - for whom gun ownership is unquestionably (and irreducibly) an issue of personal defense. For whom the semi-automatic rifle or pistol - with its matte-black finish, laser site, flashlight mount, and other “tactical” accoutrements - effectively circumscribe what’s meant by the word “gun.” At least one of these friends has what some folks - e.g., my fiancee, along with most of my non-gun-owning friends - might regard as an obsessive fixation on guns; a kind of paraphilia that (in its appetite for all things tactical) seems not a little bit creepy. Not “creepy” in the sense that he’s a ticking time bomb; “creepy” in the sense of…alternate reality. Let’s call it “tactical reality.”

The paranoia is encouraged by the arms manufacturers:

Mother Jones magazine has dug out a number of chilling gun ads that ought to make every responsible gun owner, every person thinking of buying a gun, refuse ever to purchase anything from the companies involved ever again. . . . These ads no doubt appeal to the militia crowd, the crackpots who think black helicopters are on the way with U.N. shock troops who will make Americans kneel to foreign tyrants and force them to accept Obamacare. The ads no doubt appeal to armchair corporals with dreams of secession on their minds, who count George Zimmerman as a hero, who secretly hope they'll someday be in the front lines of a real Red Dawn. Incendiary, juvenile and menacing doesn't begin to describe these ads. Grotesque doesn't do justice to the creepy mind-sets that created them.

While we're talking about children killed in violence, let us not forget at least 176 children in Pakistan killed by drones in recent days.

The US government continues to rain drones down on the tribal belt of Pakistan. While the Washington narrative is that these drones are precision machines that only kill terrorists, this story is not true.
Of the some 3000 persons killed by US drones, something like 600 have been innocent noncombatant bystanders, and of these 176 were children. In some instances the US drone operators have struck at a target, then waited for rescuers to come and struck again, which would be a war crime. Obviously, children may run in panic to the side of an injured parent, so they could get hit by the indiscriminate second strike. We don’t know the exact circumstances of the children’s deaths because the US government won’t talk about them, indeed, denies it all.

A lone nut kills 28 people in a school; a government maintains a "kill list" of opponents to slaughter, along with any bystanders of any age who happen to be nearby. We really are a violent people.

While we're talking about children killed in violence, let us not forget at least 176 children in Pakistan killed by drones in recent days.

"You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan". But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!"
--The Joker, The Dark Knight (2008)

While we're talking about children killed in violence, let us not forget at least 176 children in Pakistan killed by drones in recent days.

Thank you, mudduck. This is not the forum in which to address this hypocrisy, but I am glad to finally see that there is someone other than me who noticed.

Thanks mudduck for putting that out there. I couldn't agree more. I appreciate you sharing that.

Meet Brandon Bryant: The Drone Operator Who Quit After Killing A Child

"...The above article is a must read for every American citizen, particularly those that get up in arms about domestic gun control, but never think twice about the horror caused by our foreign policy, which regularly murders innocent children overseas..."


Those 176 kids, were scary looking foreigners, so we don't really think of them as human. Instead we think of the drone operators as heroes.

As usual, Duncan Black (writing as Atrios on his Eschaton blog) sums it up in few words:

I do wish more people who manage to fully comprehend the broad trauma a mass shooting can have on our country would consider the consequences of a decade of war.

"Those 176 kids were scary looking foreigners"

And the Illuminati perpetrated the Colorado theatre shooting. Nice source. /sarc.


Corroborating much of a recent Conspiracy Examiner story maintaining the situation as potentially being another horrific (rogue government faction) conspiracy and possible false-flag event, the newly discovered evidence, thrown out of court by Judge William Sylvester days later, details stunning accusations against billionaire Philip Anschutz, Police Chief Dan Oates, Arapaho County Dist. Atty. Carol Chambers and, according to the alleged victim, the Illuminati as being potential co-conspirators in the crime.

What source do you recommend for images of children VS American drones? These are politely ordered and spaced apart so that the viewer can choose at which level of discomfort to opt out of viewing the rest. A mainstream source would be an excellent contribution.

I don't see any evidence at all that the children shown in these photographs were in fact victims of drone attacks. They could have come from anywhere.

Both sides in the "war on terror" are actively pumping out propaganda and a bunch a photos on a website that is basically conspiracy.com isn't going to convince anyone of anything.

A very quick Google search brings up very credible analysis of drone strikes from the Columbia School of Journalism, Columbia Law, etc, that basically make the same points you are trying to make and don't invite mockery.

I actually agree with you on the drone issue and think the entire WOT has taken the US down a terrible path towards becoming an Orwellian police state. So, it is not the message I am arguing with. And I do think it is important to educate people about it.

But even you must be able to see that when you post a link to a random set of photos of burnt children on website that says the illuminati and rogue government agencies were responsible for the shooting in Colorado, you are not going to convince anyone of anything, except that you are gullible.

I guess I just wish you would try a bit harder to make your arguments in a way that could possibly convince a single person to come around to your view, rather than trying to elicit cheers from from people who already agree with you - which is what I think you are doing.

I am flattered that your attentions, projections, cares, and concerns focus upon me, but the value of illustrating the greater, sanctioned, verified, and veiled carnage remains with the provided link. If casual research can indeed offer better...

Here is the brave warrior engaging the enemy in mortal combat:

Side views of similar stations:

Video game blurs with reality...

The kid liked "Dynasty Warrior":

Insights into the drives of these kids:

Bushmaster manufacturer offers "Man Cards":

I haven't really intended to focus on you as such, but do see you as a bit of an archetype. I have directed my attentions to others as well.

I see this as a positive and productive dialogue and hope you do too. It is obviously making me, and hopefully others, think more about the impacts of he US drone policy. As I mention above, I don't disagree with your point, just the presentation.

The thing that makes me react to a lot of your comments is that they seem to be attempts to preach to the choir, rather than trying to change anyone's mind.

By the way, I think the photos you post above, combined with links such as the ones I provided before, or the one below, actually make a convincing argument. They just take a bit more effort to construct and won't get you as many points from the peanut gallery, which I suspect may be what you are after. But I could be wrong.


More projection: Convince, change, points...

There are scarce few images offered by the American corporate media. These images must exist aplenty in the target lands. The lesson was learned well from the Vietnam war: Do not show upsetting images or mommy will make us stop.

The acting-out with guns in America is a minor source of death. It is very upsetting because someone does it directly to other people that may include "you" and it disrupts the public sense of security. The more commercial killings within the underground economy are much higher but are in the background and do not involve "you". The industrialized war machine has even higher results that hardly exist within range of "you".

Alcohol has a devastating effect at all levels, but no one does it to someone else. It is just unfortunate and sad... but a much bigger real problem. Most of the damage upon children is inflicted by parents and cars: 63% of child murders are by parents, 1% by strangers. The leading cause of death of youth is cars.

Tobacco kills four hundred thousand 400,000 a year in America, five million 5,000,000 worldwide. Eh.

ATF, parents, cars, suicide

More soldiers committed suicide than died from enemy action.

Eh... background noise.


Here is the brave warrior engaging the enemy in mortal combat:

Did you notice the badge on the arm of the "brave warrior"?

          WE FIRE BACK

Do they award the Purple Heart for carpal tunnel syndrome?

By the way, here are links that I find make a much more convincing argument. I only spent two minutes looking for these as this Drumbeat is long in the tooth and I have a flight to catch early in the morning:



I don't think the photos approach is very effective.

No illustrative images

The bandwidth of images is so great that Leanan actively discourages their use on The Oil Drum. Words are pale serializations of perception and thought. To truly engage emotion with words... poetry... an art, a skill, a gift... an effort, a need, a drive... a quest to express what can be seen in a single photo.

"There was a terrible poisoning of a village in Japan... a poisoning with mercury. It destroyed the nervous systems of children. Parents cared for them and loved them, but their investment in the future was lost."

" http://www.documentingreality.com/forum/attachments/f149/324231d13241153... "

Written by mudduck:
While we're talking about children killed in violence, let us not forget at least 176 children in Pakistan killed by drones in recent days.

Your reference states that 176 Pakistani children have been killed by all drone attacks which have occurred over many years, not "in recent days."

Thanks for reading the source, and thanks for the correction.

", let us not forget at least 176 children in Pakistan killed by drones in recent days."

Ahem.. Recent days is more like several years.. And yes, fighting terrorists who conceal themselves among civilians does involve collateral damage.

If we had gone in with troops the body count would be much higher. Leaving them safe refuge to choose the time and place of their murderous attacks on civilians is also not an option..

"Leaving them safe refuge to choose the time and place of their murderous attacks on civilians is also not an option."

Actually, it is. It just doesn't jive well with Western Imperial hubris.

Actually... Harboring an attacking force on your sovereign soil is grounds for an all out war.

Now.. all out war usually involves total destruction of the infrastructure of the combatant until they surrender, or stop fighting(enforced truce), or are deceased. I.E. Eliminate the enemies ability to fight.

The loss of infrastructure would kill tens of millions of Pakistani's... Children included..

Thus the drone solution, is probably the most humane solution currently available.
If that doesn't work.. The alternatives won't be so selective.

And, for some nations, they have a foundational legal document called a Constitution. As an example it states that War is to be declared only upon the drafting of a declaration of war. Yet this example nation spends 60+% of its yearly stated budget on War and hasn't drafted up a Declaration of War in over 60 years.

I'll leave it for others to figure out if the way the leadership of such a place is in violation of their own rules with such an action, and better yet - who has the standing to plead the matter in that nations courts.

The defacto war started on 9/11... no quarter will be given..

There is no special wording required for a declaration of war or authorization of military action. Especially when it involves stateless rouge elements..

B.T.W. Congress never formally declared war on the Barbery pirates. But we did fight two wars with them.

The U.S. Congress has passed laws that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld or not struck down. The punishment for disseminating the propaganda of terrorists is indefinite military detention irrespective of nationality, assassination of the terrorist, his family, friends or bystanders, or some other military action at the whim of the U.S. executive branch. Be careful of what you pontificate during times of war.

I can’t remember seeing a semi-automatic weapon of any kind at a shooting range until the mid-1980’s.


Originally introduced as the Remington Autoloading Rifle in 1906, (and its European counter part the FN 1900 which wasn’t produced until 1910 by Fabrique Nationale) the name was changed to the Remington Model 8 in 1911, even though the rifle itself was essentially unchanged. The saying goes “no two model 8’s are the same”.

The poster digby may be correct - because of a lack of attendance at shooting ranges before 1980. But the semi-auto is over one century old. Same with the rest of the "I don't remember" or 'this graphic means this' - that is the author projecting their desire VS what the reality is or what the original 'creative' was wanting to portray.

And while the violence runs deep in US culture and is reflected by US policy towards other Humans - is there a functioning and fair legal system where one can feel their objections and grievances can be addressed?

(under violence towards others)

"Did we just kill a kid?" he asked the man sitting next to him.
"Yeah, I guess that was a kid," the pilot replied.
"Was that a kid?" they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.
Then, someone they didn't know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. "No. That was a dog," the person wrote.

While we're talking about children killed in violence, let us not forget at least 176 children in Pakistan killed by drones in recent days.

And all those killed by drones in Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, Mali(?), Iran(?), and we do not know where else. Including adults who do not become fair game just because they are 18 or over.

My best friend has a stepbrother who's a classic ne'er-do-well. He's been in and out prison for petty crimes his whole adult life. He just got arrested again: hanging out at a bar, full of liquid courage, starts waving a gun around. Cops are called, dolt is arrested, 3-5 more years in jail await.

It's already illegal for him to possess a gun. He had it anyway, and no doubt he has a lot more. If you want gun control, you have to figure out how to get it out of his hands first, not last.

It also highlights how absurd Dawson is: this yutz doesn't have a gun because of Ronald Reagan or International Capitalism, he has a gun because he likes to scare people and take their stuff.

Kunstler, today:

Let me remind you that there is a range of thought and feeling evinced in human culture that no longer exists in America. These things were called virtues. They are qualities in thought and action related to goodness and excellence, and they are in very short supply these days in the USA, though we are well-supplied with fakes and approximations of virtue --

Guns, to many, are gross approximations of potence, power and wealth, especially for the impotent, powerless, and poor; approximations of virtue...

One piece of this gun lust and violence in the US is that few people have actual experience with violence/war. Many of those "greatest generation" WWII vets turned into what now seem like wise stewards of the US arsenal and skeptics of military might (Eisenhower, George McGovern, Daniel Inouye, our own Oregon Sen. Mark Hatfield, etc., etc.). Those great warriors Dick Cheney and W, like Rambo himself (Sylvester Stallone), dodged the draft.

Now it's solitary engagement with increasingly violent video games (some of them are linked with others playing the same game) and violent movies playing to testosterone-charged male teenagers.

We had an extremely interesting panel on the Vietnam War at my college recently. Mostly vets with varying types of service there (field hospital, direct engagement with VietCong, ground support for air strikes) plus a wife who stayed behind (extremely interesting experience), a draft dodger, and me who protested the war but got a high number in the first 1969 lottery so never had to squarely face the decision about signing up. Many panelists remarked that they'd hardly ever talked about all this for over 40 years.

As emotional as it got, the conversation was very civil. We agreed on the desirability of returning to compulsory national service.

I think moving away from some sort of compulsory service toward the volunteer army of the last three+ decades has eroded our culture, our politics, and our souls in many ways.

I appreciate Kunstler's essay and his pointing to the crisis of masculinity at the heart of this rot and violence; this is both a political and moral problem.

PS: I should have put quotes around the text of my original post yesterday that kicked off this thread - those were not my words, but words extracted from the article to which I linked. My intention was simply to raise the issue, not make some veiled attack on preppers like Todd.

One piece of this gun lust and violence in the US is that few people have actual experience with violence/war. Many of those "greatest generation" WWII vets turned into what now seem like wise stewards of the US arsenal and skeptics of military might (Eisenhower, George McGovern, Daniel Inouye, our own Oregon Sen. Mark Hatfield, etc., etc.). Those great warriors Dick Cheney and W, like Rambo himself (Sylvester Stallone), dodged the draft.

While there are certainly exceptions, there is a good deal of truth to this generality. Some of the most stupid and flippant comments I hear about war come from those who haven't seen one up close and personal. By and large the people who are most obsessed with "tacticool" gear and owning assault rifles are those who have never had to carry one in the military.

We agreed on the desirability of returning to compulsory national service. I think moving away from some sort of compulsory service toward the volunteer army of the last three+ decades has eroded our culture, our politics, and our souls in many ways.

Yes! It should be automatic that when a person (both sexes) graduates from high school or reaches age 19 (whichever comes first) they owe a minimum of 2 years of national service. That can be service in the military, the Peace Corps, trail maintenence in National Parks, or whatever. No exceptions except for the most severe mental or physical disabilites. Everyone does some kind of public service. It would not cure all the problems of our society, but I am convinced we would all be better off for it.

Here is the the thing we grew up when the draft was normal--but it has been the exception throughout US history. Even in our bloodiest war
The vast majority of troops were volunteers; however, of the 2,100,000 Union soldiers, about 2% were draftees, and another 6% were substitutes paid by draftees. [wikipedia]

Of course the youth service group to be divided however which way would dwarf the total union army, we've had ~4,000,000 live births/yr in this country for a while now. These youth serve kids would all be raw recruits so a substantial professional management hierarchy would have to be in place to run them through--whatever the lines of service. Expensive.

On the surface mandatory service for all and regimentation immersion for all youth has a appeal to it, but aside from the expense of setting it up the abuses that would quickly end up in the system jump out at me.


-you serve would be almost all let out to contractors (anyone think Congress would be willing to set up more permanent bureaucracy to handle youth service in the current political climate--anyone expecting that climate to get better with our debt load?) so of course right from the get go their would be deep corruption in the contracting process and that would only grow worse over time

-we've a deep history of unpaid/underpaid labor in this country, don't expect the contractors high mindedness to rise above that temptation

-what happens after two years are up and 20-30% of the youth can find no decent,steady work for 1,2,3...years . Well of course there will indentured type options offered by the contractor network (free/cheap labor is addictive) but not all will jump right at that. So now there is an idle, trained, disciplinable 'army' of networked peers. Those who rise to the top in these conditions won't be too interested in protecting the assets of those who have kept them from moving ahead in the rigged game. You want a revolution I can't think of a better breeding ground for one.

For universal compulsory national service to work there has to be a seamless transition to career training/gainful employment at the other end of it...of course when the economy just can't manage to generate enough of that there is always the one other option besides revolt...the one the world used to finally climb out of the Great Depression. 1939-1945 is a rinse and repeat cycle I'd rather avoid.

I don’t trust the majority of our fellow citizens to be armed.

That boils it down nicely & I agree.

That's a problem with "rights". I think there are people driving who shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel of a car or truck. There are gun owners who are safe, and in some situations may make those around them safer. And there are people who should never be allowed to pick one up. My Italian wife has a legal right to get a handgun. In no way would that be a good idea, despite her being smart & delightful in many ways. In fact, if I go down the list, about 70% of the people I know have no business ever picking up a gun and about 30% of them shouldn't be allowed to drive.

Glad your guns kept you safe, RM. Personally, my usual rule of thumb is that any situation requiring me to have a loaded firearm represents a failure of prior planning. Any situation requiring an automatic weapon is a spectacular failure of prior planning.

It'll be interesting if any sort of stressful stuff does happen on a widespread basis in this country. There are a lot of guns and a lot of people who have no business pointing them at things.

greenie – I’ve spent my life around weapons and the folks who own them. And I’ve always tended to not hang around with stupid/crazy/careless people. But even with that I've known far too many that gave me great pause. And that includes a scary number that fantasized about dropping the hammer on someone. Easy to pick them out on the range: blasting away at human profile targets. BTW I always shoot 6” circular targets. As Mel Gibson said: aim small…miss small. LOL.

As you point out the argument would be that folks have the right to take stupid/careless/dangerous actions. It might not be a very good solution but I’m a firm believer in very severe penalties for all infractions: weapon accidents (especially allowing your child to hurt themselves), drunk driving, etc. Including first time offenses. But there would still be many folks who don’t believe it would happen to them.

There are some mental games you can play with yourself (and what I did to students as an NRA safety instructor…an organization I quit long ago). I would never teach anyone with an automatic revolver. Always a revolver. Always a smaller caliber. And always loaded with 5 rounds and no back up ammo. Cuts down on the spray and play mentality. Limit one’s fire power and folks tend to hesititate with the first shot. And always had the first round a shot shell or blank. That would solve two common problems: hesitation to pull the trigger (a very common problem actually) and dropping the hammer too soon/at the wrong target. A blank going off will more often cause a retreat then a fire fight despite what you see in the movies. Much more effective than the sound of a racking shot gun. LOL.

And no…I’ve never seen another instructor follow these simple steps. And no…I don’t load a shot shell/blank nor do I believe in a warning shot. Self-defense is a very serious proposition which is how everyone should take it. Unfortunately many don’t.

There you go: the Rockman’s self-defense and safety course…no charge. LOL. Much easier to laugh about the subject when not focused on tiny bodies.

good stuff.

Sometimes I wonder if there are penalties for anything anymore. A woman down the street who'd had her license revoked, presumably for good cause, was still driving, and decided to fish around for her dropped cell phone on the floor while in a curve. She took out a streetlight pole and totaled the car... and it was a spot where my wife and I do our evening walk. She was driving again within days.

Actual self-defense in a nasty situation has its own logic, agreed. If something's necessary, you have to do it. But I know a lot of suburban folks who like to shoot up human-shaped targets, and who you can tell like the fantasy of doing unto a bad guy. Some of them professional religious folks, like my niece. She has her sons shooting semi-auto pistols at a very young age. Creeps me out some, I'm scared of those things. I know how to shoot & know my limitations, as the old "Dirty Harry" line goes.

By the same token, I don't much hold with people taking their kids scuba diving. I know all the stuff I pay attention to when diving, and I know a young kid won't be. One thing that rarely is brought up in "death penalty" discussions is that the world is full of death penalties, and many of our toys have them attached.

You know my view on those kind of people G.

Personally I have never seen real weapons outside the contexts of army, police and hunters. I have shot exactly 4 rounds in my life; at a shooting range on a bachelor party. We shot clay birds. But after 4 rounds I realized I was hurting the shoulder at my welding arm and beeing built like a flag pole I could not tolerate that and handed in my gun to the instructor. I am happy to know I live in a country where people don't have guns laying around at home.

I can can remember some potential tragedies. My parents and relatives had a mistaken address of their aged father, who wouldn't answer the door. Oh my, maybe he's fallen and can't get up. Wrong house! And three years ago a block away, 3am. The home owner threatens to shoot a passerby who is loading knocking on his door. His house was on fire, the guy saved him! This imagining that there are hordes of evil people out there just waiting to terrorize your family, is a source of a lot of dangerous situations.

I would never teach anyone with an automatic revolver.

Rockman, I know what an "automatic" is (I own one or two) and I know what a "revolver" is (have a couple of those too)......but I must admit that I have not a clue what an "automatic revolver" is?

My guess is a double action revolver.

An automatic revolver sounds like a Gatling gun.

geo - Automatic revolver??? Sounds like a perpetual loan from the bank. LOL. My only excuse is sleep deprivation coming off of a 3 day log run. I'm sure you know what I mean. Actually I'm surprised my post came off as clearly as it did. As I stated earlier I have very mixed emotions about armed self defense. I consider myself to be the primary source of protection for myself and family. And most honest cops will tell you the same thing. OTOH I know more law abiding armed citizens that worry me just as much as the bad guys.

Someone mentioned having kids introduced to fire arms early on. I did this with my daughter as a safety issue. Whether she took to shooting or hunting didn't matter much to me either way. But she lives in the country and like all kids out there will have some access to firearms whether I want her to or not. And kids will be kids. I wanted to demystify the subject to her as well as appreciate the power and danger of a weapon. At 10 yo old I had her load and fire several boxes of 20 gauge until she was asking to stop. She then knew what it felt and sounded like as well as clearly understanding the power and danger. Hopefully those thoughts will stick with her when she eventually finds herself in a situation where some kid has a firearm with no adult supervision around. In the country it's bound to happen eventually. Sadly not that uncommon in the inner city these days either.

I though maybe it was just some strange Texan term for a double action revolver. ;-)

However, in an idle moment today I did some aimless google surfing. It turns out there is such a thing. See the Webley-Fosbery Automatic Revolver and also the Mateba Autorevolver. But somehow I rather doubt you were training talking about either of those!

geo - No..just trying to stay awake until normal bed time so I wouldn't stay out of cycle. And since I'm sure you're desparite to know: snubnose .45 Colt feed with .45 ACP with a star ring to hold those Glaser boogers in place. I prefer fat and slow over mags. Too heavy for concealed carry but I keep it in my shoulder bag except for rare occasion when I get "the feeling". LOL

Funny thing is that while I have always owned firearms (both short and long), and will continue to own them, I don't feel like I want or need to carry, concealed or openly. I have served in the Marine Corps, and been a hunter, and am quite handy with guns, but unless I'm going hunting or target shooting they stay locked in my gun safe.

When hiking in bear country, which is more or less all of Alaska, I used to sometimes carry either a 12 gauge pump gun loaded with Breneke slugs or my 629 S&W 44 mag. But anymore, even though I spend a lot of time out in the woods, I just carry bear spray, which has been proven to be quite effective.

Just me I guess.

What is almost always overlooked in horrific tragedies like the recent school shooting is that on average, a murdered child under age five is far more likely to have been killed by a parent than by anyone else. From 1980 to 2008, 3% of murdered children under age five were killed by strangers.

US Department of Justice: Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008
Annual Rates for 2009 and 2010

Of all children under age 5 murdered from 1980 through 2008—

*63% were killed by a parent—33% were killed by their fathers
and 30% were killed by their mothers (table 3)

*23% were killed by male acquaintances

*5% were killed by female acquaintances

*7% were killed by other relatives

*3% were killed by strangers

If memory serves, I believe that about one percent of murders of school age children in the US in recent years were the result of a stranger shooting, on school premises.

The interesting thing is the total homicide rates of 4.2 and .3 respectively (and .7 for the Swiss). The Japanese are less homicidal in general, by a factor of 1/14th.

First, it makes clear that at least half of the deaths are suicide in the US as the gun death rate alone is twice the total homicide rate, while in Japan the homicide rate is 4 times the gun death rate.

In the US, 2/3 of homicides are via guns, and 1/2 of suicides use guns. So, of the 4.2 homicide rate, 2.8 is via gun, and 1.4 is via some other method, so even without guns the US rate is 4 times the Japanese rate.

The US suicide rate is about 12, while for Japan it's 23.8, and about 11 for the Swiss.

So, you are more likely to die in Japan and the US from suicide than homicide, but in Japan about 98% of deaths are suicide, while in the US about 75% are suicide. While you're 14x more likely to be killed in the US than Japan, you're 1.5x more likely to die in Japan overall.

The Swiss suicide rate is about the same as the US (but only 1/3 by gun), while the homicide rate is much less (1/3), despite gun ownership. The Swiss homicide rate is only twice the Japanese homicide rate, so overall your life is least likely to be purposely cut short (by oneself or by others) in Switzerland, then the US, then Japan.

Guns are an interesting part of the equation, but it's not as simple as cherry-picked stats might indicate.

About as well as the notion of a school as a "gun free zone". Pretty silly notion, when you think about how it looks in a mixed world of law-abiding and law-breaking gun owners. Really it's a "victims pre-sorted here" sign.

Well, if your "gun free zone" is something like a 10000 square meter open area (school) in a see of 280 million guns, then yes, that obviously won't work to well.

But that is very different to gun-control in which case the "gun free zone" is a 9000000000000 square meter large area (the U.S) protected by a well guarded boarder control. So your argument of "victims pre-sorted" is mute in the case of national gun control laws.

State laws on the other hand might not work too well either.

This isn't a reputable source and I don't agree with the commentary but I think it is a popular site. After personally hearing of right-wingers who have prepared for the worst, I am beginning to wonder how many folks believe in collapse and where these beliefs are coming from.

Obama’s Reelection Will Ensure Complete U.S. Economic Collapse

How will the financial meltdown happen? Limbaugh predicts California will file bankruptcy under Obama, then other states will follow suit. There will be a stock market crash and Americans will lose their savings. Banks will fail as people rush to take their money out, and those who don’t get their money out early on will find their accounts frozen. There isn’t enough money to bail out all the banks if they all fail. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was created in 1934 to avoid a repeat of banks failing during the Great Depression, but there is no longer enough real money left for massive bailouts. America’s level of debt and deficit spending will cause other countries to lose confidence in the dollar, and they will start withdrawing their investments.

There will be rioting and major civil unrest. The violent Occupy Wall Street protesters are an indication that it is already starting. Economist John Williams predicts, “Trouble could range from turmoil in the food distribution chain and electronic cash and credit systems unable to handle rapidly changing circumstances, to political instability.” The government will finally be forced to choose what will no longer be funded.

Absolutely true:

The day after the Newtown massacre one of the boss men in a neighboring business unit from mine said that that the country was going to H_ll and Obama was the Antichrist. That was his 'explanation' for the tragedy. He was utterly serious.

I was, and am...stupefied.

I think we would benefit from Universal health care with robust mental health screenings and therapy.

Every time a mass shooting happens - and it will happen again - the reaction is the same:
all sides trot out their opinions, and nothing changes

as Bloomberg said - the US is the only developed country with this problem

i don't have an answer, but I am glad to live in Canada.

The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) blamed marriage equality in Connecticut for the tragic shooting spree in Newtown that took 26 lives.

The Church announced that it will picket the funerals of the children with banners


There are many many like him. Thats what scares me. There is quite an echo chamber amplifying these fantasies. They had a guy on France 24 tonight, he started out with the usual pro gun stuff, then drifted off into evil Obama scheming to take away the guns. And this was a guy I'm sure they thought was reasonable. It seems bat%$#@ insane conspiracy theories are everywhere. Well maybe the foreigners will start to understand what we have to put up with.

Yet oddly, he is indeed scheming to take away exactly the guns that have been selling well from that fear. Seems like the mechanism was perhaps a bit unexpected, but the result may well be similar.

Except all the news is on the Senate bill. I'll be really, really surprised if the House goes along very far. And yet the Senate is supposed to be the more sedate, low-pass filter.....

I'm sure there are a lot of Repubs that aren't looking forward to the press coverage that will soon come, and some will waffle or even switch sides. The interesting point will be to see how this affects fiscal negotiations, since the House is spending political capital on essentially all their current positions.

I lost my way following your post here...who is 'he'?

reference: "...he is indeed scheming to take away exactly the guns..."

Ohh really. I wish he was scheming. But, he shies away from controversy. The dems have decided the issue is a loser for them, and have given up. Perhaps the mood has changed enough at the moment to try to do something now. The rest is pure delusional conspiracy stuff.

evil Obama scheming to take away the guns

Plenty of people in public policy who want to 'remove the guns' or to make guns illegal so the elected and appointed public officials can say "A criminal did it (because see, we made the guns illegal)" vs far harder questions of mental health or the failures of the justice system to provide fair adjudication of grievances or the citizen to petition for the redress of grievances.

Predicting disaster if your political opponent wins is a pychological tactic as old as the hills. Unfortunately, the GOP and 'baggers have refined it to an art form, one they are expert at using against liberals and even "moderate" conservatives. All it really is is a means to scare poorly educated white evangelicals into voting for more tax cuts for the hyper wealthy, deunionizing/outsourcing their own jobs even faster, and defunding what little remains of the frayed social safety net that they rely on for basic needs.

The government is borrowing (or printing) a trillion dollars a year. It doesn't take a right-wing loonie to forsee collapse. And with 46 million people on food stamps and another 50 million+ at least somewhat dependent on government largesse the riots won't be far behind.

The mind is a dangerous thing to waste or not to waste.

Same with all other weapons and poisons.

Perhaps even water and food too.

Depending on the circumstances always of course.


That would be a minority:

"A decreasing number of American gun owners own two-thirds of the nation's guns and as many as one-third of the guns on the planet -- even though they account for less than 1% of the world's population, according to a CNN analysis of gun ownership data."


As a Connecticut resident and being obliquely associated with the gun industry I am very conflicted over the Sandy Hook tragedy. As many of you know Connecticut has a long history as a gun manufacturer starting with Samuel Colt. That history continues to today. Gun manufacturing is going strong. My company builds CNC grinding machines. They are used in diverse industries; medical devices, automotive, bearings, cutting tools and gun manufacturing. I have one customer that specializes in making components for the AR-15 and M16 weapons. In recent years it has amazed me to know that they are running 24/7 and can't keep up with demand for these components. The majority are for civilian versions. That a machine that I built may have been used to manufacture the Sandy Hook weapon bothers me.

At the same time as supporting the gun industry Connecticut also has some of the most restrictive gun purchase laws in the country. Assault weapons are carefully defined and ownership is prohibited. Handguns cannot be purchased without a permit to carry. To get a permit is a long process. At some point we, as a state, will have to deal with the fact that the Sandy Hook weapon was probably manufactured here. Our restrictive laws obviously didn't prevent the weapon from being used here. I offer no solutions, just a different perspective.

According to this article,


(my paraphrase summary) the residents and local police in Newtown, CT have been powerless to prevent the operation of unlicensed gun ranges, and indeed from preventing people from target shooting some 20 feet from neighbor's houses.

As far as CT gun laws...what is stopping people from buying guns in other states and bringing/shipping them home?

what is stopping people from buying guns in other states and bringing/shipping them home?

Legally? Or like how the guns used in this event were obtained via an action of illegality? (Assumptions made for that statement: 1) killing the gun owner is illegal. 2) the reporting of the Mother being the gun owner of record and her death along with a chain of events being the owner was not in control of the weapon and the result was one of the owners weapons was used against the owner is correct.)

In the US, guns must be shipped thru dealers who hold a Federal Firearms License. The FFL holder calls a hotline which checks to see whether the buyer's name appears in a database of people who are not allowed to purchase guns. I think that the law allows one to purchase a gun in states adjacent to their home state. In my state, purchasing a handgun requires a one time license acquired from the local sheriff after a background check. One can purchase guns from other individuals and the gun show exemption for individual sellers is one of the big loopholes in the process. I would not be surprised to see that the gun show loophole be closed, even though it may not have been part of this latest tragedy...

E. Swanson


Don't bring yourself down with guilt.

The problem is with the social evolution of our nation.

The extended family of violent people.

Nation Needs Marketing Campaign to Reduce Vehicle Fuel Use, Says New Paper

A new paper, "A Marketing Campaign to Reduce Vehicle Use," from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy proposes a national marketing campaign to better inform consumers about measures that they can take to decrease fuel use, particularly during a rapid increase in fuel prices. A relatively modest publicity campaign could create substantial savings for consumers, the authors said.

... The need for such a campaign is very real, the authors said. "The United States is ill-prepared for another 'oil shock' driven by instability in major petroleum-producing regions, notably the Middle East," they said. "Given the importance of oil to the transportation sector, the effects of such shocks are both widespread and substantial. An oil shock has preceded all but one recession since World War II. A release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) can only play a limited role in restraining short-term unexpected volatility in the price of gasoline and diesel. Together, the measures discussed here could be thought of, conceptually, as 'a demand-side SPR.'"

Solar Power in Arctic Alaska?

Kotzebue Electric, which relies heavily on wind power already, is the sole provider of energy to an estimated 3,200 people in a rural town, where in mid-December sunrise doesn't occur until 1 p.m. and sunset only a few hours later, at 2:40 p.m. In Kotzebue, solar-powered anything doesn't sound like the best idea, but the association has installed solar-powered thermal systems.

Photo Gallery

The other half of the story is that the sun does not set during parts of the year, and it gets to a hundred degrees sometimes.

Fuel -presumably diesel can be quite expensive for these nearly isolated communities, as the cost of transporting the fuel to the town can exceed the cost of the fuel in a city. So anything that cuts the overall annual fuel use can save quite a bit.

There is currently a good deal of interest in alternative energy for bush Alaska. Importing fuel into bush villages is frightfully expensive. Anything that can reduce fuel use, even if only for part of the year, is worth looking at. See Alaska Energy Wiki for more info on the Kotzebue project:

The solar resource in Alaska is significant, but utilization of solar technology has been limited. Historically, major challenges to using solar energy technology in Alaska are its seasonal variability and its dependence on weather conditions. In general, the solar resource is most abundant in the summer, when it is least needed. However, there is a reasonable resource available for seven to eight months of the year for all but the most northern areas of the state. Technological advances, particularly in solar thermal technology, could bridge this gap between availability of the resource and energy needs. There is a large amount of research currently under way focusing on bridging this gap, with aspirations of elevating solar energy to a viable Alaskan renewable resource.

20% of the total heating fuel in the Northwest Arctic Borough is used to heat water. Solar thermal hot water heating could be practical for up to nine months out of the year, ultimately displacing 50% of annual hot water heating needs. There are numerous ways to design a solar hot water heating system: with flat plates or evacuated tubes, tracking mount or fixed mount, large or small storage tanks. Each installed system will have a different configuration so that a comparison can be made for each home and recommendations will be made accordingly.

The Greening of Open-Pit Coal Mines

... In the past, the declared objective of environmental mining works was to restore the mined landscape to its original shape and use after the completion of mining. But companies, regulatory authorities and social groups have realised that no matter what the technical and financial resources invested, the amount of coal removed make it virtually impossible to return a mined area to its original state.

Instead, companies now are leveraging the economic and technical capacity of the mining operation to upgrade[?] the affected land and surroundings at very low additional costs, creating new and possibly more useful space for nearby communities even if the landscape is not returned to the previous state.

What a stupid title!

Given the amount of money spent on suburban landscaping, (ie making little hills, or ponds and sloping the flower beds just so, and of course we must have some pretty rocks as accent pieces) it's not at all surprising that someone wants to try the same with an played out mine.

"The greenwashing and optimizing profits of Open-Pit Coal Mines"

That's more like it.

Radioactive Hot Spots Remain at Former Research Facility's Site

A federal study shows hundreds of hot spots at the 2,850-acre facility, overlooking the west San Fernando Valley, half a century after a partial nuclear meltdown there.

... The EPA says 423 of the samples contained man-made radioactive contaminants exceeding background levels. Most of the contaminants were cesium-137 and strontium-90, both powerful carcinogenic substances.

Most samples exceeding background levels were found in the surface soil at locations known to be contaminated, including where the partial meltdown occurred on the morning of July 14, 1959. Details of that incident, which spewed colorless and odorless gases into the atmosphere, were not disclosed until 1979, when a group of UCLA students discovered documents and photographs that referred to a problem at the site involving a "melted blob."

"The good news is we now know how bad things are on the site," Bowling said. The bad news is that the high levels of contaminants were in an area that drains into the headwaters of the Los Angeles River, he said.

A year ago, Boeing prevailed in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court to overturn a 2007 state law that created stricter cleanup standards for the facility.

From CRS ...

Nuclear Energy: Overview of Congressional Issues

From NRC ...

Long-Term Cooling and Unattended Water Makeup of Spent Fuel Pools

A. NRC Requirements for Governing Spent Fuel Pool Cooling and Provision of Electric Power for Accidents
B. Geomagnetic Storms and Effects on the Earth
C. Frequency of Geomagnetic Storms with Potential Adverse Effects on the Electrical Grid
D. Experience with Geomagnetic Storms’ Effects on the Electrical Grid
E. Federal Government Coordination and Emergency Response

[pg 10]... The central argument of the petition is the claim that a spent fuel pool accident, namely zirconium ignition, poses a significant safety concern. This claim is based upon the credibility of a Long-Term loss of off-site power event based upon a new initiating event (severe space weather), and the assumption that mitigative actions (specifically diesel fuel resupply from offsite and human intervention) would not be successful in preventing spent fuel pool draindown and subsequent zirconium ignition resulting from a long term loss of off-site power event. Despite the new information referenced by the Petitioner, the Petitioner offers no data to support the conclusion that a long term loss of off-site power event due to severe space weather is credible.

... didn't an analyst write a report titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in the US" ( August 2001) that wasn't considered credible. Then they all said "Who could have known?"

Nuclear regulator admits errors in radiation projects all over Japan

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA)’s projections for spread of radiation showed numerous mistakes in the data of all atomic power plants in Japan after thorough review, it said Thursday.

It was discovered that there were significant changes in the diagrams showing how radiation might spread in crises, which involves the Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai and Sendai power plants and Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari nuclear complex, in comparison to the previously revised projections that were released October 9. The 3 projections needed to be revised for one of two reasons: the plant operators provided erroneous weather information, or because the data were not correctly processed by the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization, which was tasked with creating the projections

Cracks found in Swedish nuclear waste pools

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten) has asked nuclear waste contractors at the Oskarshamn nuclear plant to review their security requirements after cracks were found in the pools where nuclear waste is temporarily stored on site.

Rising radiation at SC nuclear dump prompts cleanup talk but no action

COLUMBIA, SC — Radioactive pollution is getting worse on parts of South Carolina’s nuclear-waste dump near Barnwell, but state regulators say cleaning up the contaminated groundwater isn’t in their plan.
Tritium continues to exceed federal safe drinking-water standards in and around the 41-year-old burial ground that has come to symbolize South Carolina’s historic willingness to accept the nation’s garbage. In some spots tritium levels are higher today than they were five years ago.

Since the low-level nuclear-waste dump opened in 1971, tritium has leaked from unlined burial pits, contaminated groundwater and trickled into a creek a half-mile away. The dump closed to the nation in 2008 but still is open for South Carolina and two other states’ waste. A small neighborhood that relies on wells is just downhill from the creek, although Jenkins said radioactive material is not polluting the wells.

From up top: Qatar plans to edge out incandescent bulbs

Ali Mohammed Al Ali said: "Kahramaa has set plans to reduce consumption by 20 per cent for electricity and 35 per cent for water within the next five years...

My hat's off to Qatar. I don't know exactly how much energy Qatar expects to save with phasing out the incandescent bulbs. The savings with widespread CFL use is staggering.

Consider this example on a US national level:
100 million residences x 10 bulbs changed per residence; 60 Watt incandescent replaced by 13 Watt CFL;
Bulbs used average of 3 hours per day (1095 hours per year); cost per kWh = $0.11

(0.047 kilowatt saving per bulb) x 1095 hour usage per year x $0.11 per kWh = $5.66 savings per bulb per year

10,000 hour rated life / 1095 hour usage per year = 9.1 years of savings

1 billion bulbs x $5.66 per bulb per year x 9.1 years = $51.5 billion total savings ($15.5 million daily)

1 billion bulbs x $1.50 per bulb = $1.5 billion CFL Purchase Cost

$1.5 billion / $15.5 million per day = 97 day payback

$51.5 billion / ($110 per MWh) = 468 million MWh electrical savings

How long would a 1000 MW Nuclear Plant need to run to provide this same amount of power?

468,000,000 MWh / (1,000 MW per hour) = 468,000 hours

468,000 / (8760 hours per year) = 53.5 years (Or roughly 6 nuclear reactors operating throughout the 9.1 year life of the bulbs).

The savings on an individual level is small, but on a national level the savings is huge. Due to its smaller population, Qatar's savings would likely be less than 1% of the savings for the US example.

LED savings would accrue for more years, but the cost of the bulbs would be significant more expensive.


North Dakota has increased production for the 19th straight month.

Based on EIA national production increases in to December. Texas and North Dakota must have increased for November as well.

That is an impressive string of increases.

Here is the data from the Bakken alone.

	bopd	wells	new well
Jan-10	166800	1362	74
Feb-10	184750	1394	561
Mar-10	200743	1459	246
Apr-10	208275	1514	137
May-10	223759	1593	196
Jun-10	240395	1663	238
Jul-10	248127	1726	123
Aug-10	255579	1799	102
Sep-10	268260	1866	189
Oct-10	269594	1947	16
Nov-10	284359	2016	214
Dec-10	273809	2064	-220
Jan-11	274137	2116	6
Feb-11	280671	2192	86
Mar-11	291824	2260	164
Apr-11	285194	2335	-88
May-11	299361	2402	211
Jun-11	320435	2462	351
Jul-11	360821	2621	254
Aug-11	379371	2749	145
Sep-11	398199	2867	160
Oct-11	423676	2981	223
Nov-11	443870	3124	141
Dec-11	470173	3275	174
Jan-12	481994	3390	103
Feb-12	494881	3495	123
Mar-12	515151	3687	106
Apr-12	547815	3812	261
May-12	578382	4005	158
Jun-12	598318	4162	127
Jul-12	611834	4327	82
Aug-12	635184	4459	177
Sep-12	663081	4632	161
Oct-12	682393	4791	121

That series highlights an 'alarming' trend, if the bopd/new well trend continues, this play will stall out in early 2015. You heard it here first.

What's the trend?

Kingfish – I’ll guess it’s that as the productive well count increases the average per productive well decreases. If correct it shouldn’t be a surprise IMHO if one factors in the decline rates. As more wells are drilled within several years you have a lot more low flow wells compared to new high rate wells. And the more new wells drilled the worse the stat eventually becomes.

But just a guess.

That requires 'special' extraction, ha !

There are really at least 3 trends that I see and the data is noisy to begin with. First, I ploted the number of wells added -vs- time, That is reasonably constant for the periods starting at about 3-'10, 7-'11 and 4-'12. In each case, production increase per new well trends downward.

Early 2015 is essentially a wag - assuming the number of wells added over the next few years will remain fairly constant at the recent average, 163 wells/month.

Number of rigs running, number of frac crews and the weather are all in play here. Operators have added frac crews and worked around weather conditions to an extent. Infastructure seems to have put a cap on the number or rigs running at around 200(for all of ND)

As more wells are added, total decline in 'legacy' wells increases. A treadmill running faster with time.

Here is the data for Bakken oil production in a chart.

Bakken Oil Production Jan 2010 to Oct 2012

The oil drilling companies have offset the reduced oil per well by drilling slightly more wells which has maintained a linear increase in the production since April 2011.

Drilling rigs haven't increased significantly over the past 3 years, and are down slightly of late. What has increased are completions and this is primarily due to more frac crews working, the weather and operators ability to work around earlier problems with the weather.

A few years ago, the operators wouldn't even attempt a frac in the winter. Some operators have managed frac'ing in the winter using 'perf and plug'.

The operators and frac crews have undoubtedly gotten more efficient by doing multiple wells on a single site. Less severe weather has helped.

So, in Sep-12 there were 4632 producing wells and in Oct-12 4791. The net increase was 159 wells. Divide that into 4791 and you get 30. Does that mean that the average life of a well is 30 months?

No, I think it means that it would take 30 months to drill and complete 4791 wells, if wells were completed at the rate of 159 wells/month.

The producing life of these wells is a big question. Some of the earliest (vertical) Bakken wells were completed in 1953, nearly 60 years ago. Others have been drilled and completed, depleted and plugged in a fraction of that time.

Some have assumed multi-stage frac'ed horizontal wells will go on forever as well. I doubt the average well will last anywhere near 60 yrs.

d - Tony answers below. "Well life" is a fairly useless metric IMHO. I'm working with wells that are still producing (but just a few bbls/day) after 66 years and have recovered around 350,000 bo each. These wells came on around 60 bopd. And there are DW GOM wells that produced for only 7 years but recovered 10+ million bo before being plugged. Unfortunately there is no predictable relationship between well life, flow rate profile and URR.

Hey Rockman,

I've been thinking (and it hardly hurt at all!). I have an idea that is probably gonna set your teeth on edge, but I think it's a good one. Fix yourself a B&B and let me set the stage:

As I have tried to explain PO matters to friends and family, it is hard not be struck by the fact that they don't have a clue as to how petroleum production actually works. As far as they're concerned, you stick a straw into a pool of oil and pump out the goodies.

Likewise, they think "fracking" and "horizontal drilling" are super-new cutting edge technologies (you know, like iPhones and stuff) that will save the day. The don't know anything about production rates, decline, and all that good stuff. Nothing about various kinds of reservoirs/rocks/plays. Etc., etc., etc.

I don't think it's been done the way I'm thinking - someone needs to write a book, sort of "Oil Production for Dummies". It doesn't have to, and probably shouldn't, have an overt PO slant to it. Just the facts, as clearly and honestly as they can be presented. Some history, some geology, some technology talk, some real life examples. But I think that PO is enough in the air these days that it could be a real seller, and really help improve the level of the "debate".

Here's the kicker - I think that YOU are the man for the job. Heck, just gather up your posts here, edit 'em up a bit and put 'em in some sort of order, tie up a few loose ends, and you've got a winner. I'll only expect, say, 5% of the royalties :-)

Seriously, though, you have such an easy way of explaining these things while not over-simplifying, and with a pleasant degree of humor, that I do think you could do something like this. I'd buy 20 copies of the first edition to give away...

Whaddya say?

I'd buy a bunch just to hand out to friends!

I second the motion and am willing to help with the editing and I'll throw in some graphics, pro-bono!

I just put together my first limited edition PO related presentation for Dummies, it's called Export Land Model for Dummies and is based on westexas' and Jonathan Callahan's work. It was sent only to my family and a few very few close friends... I haven't been unfriended by any of them as of yet! Though I'll have to see how many of them will still be talking to me come the new year.

So when do we start?

sgage - Gosh…you know how to turn an old man’s head. LOL. Found this on Amazon - ¨Oil: A Beginner's Guide (Beginners Guide (Oneworld)) [Paperback]. Haven’t read it but the review sounds promising especially since it's fairly current (2008):

“Without oil, there would be no globalisation, no plastic, little transport, and a global political landscape that few would recognize. In this captivating book Vaclav Smil explains all matters related to the 'black stuff', from its discovery in the earth, right through to the political maelstrom that surrounds it today. Packed with fascinating facts and insight, this book will provide readers with the science and politics behind the world's most controversial resource.”

I agree about trying to keep it as non-political/non-doomer as possible. Too many folks would prejudge. Sometimes even the most basics approach can be beneficial. A while ago I was the Chairman of the Academic Liaison Committee for the Houston Geologic Society. Impressive, eh? Actually I was a one-man op that did show & tells at Houston public schools. The 4th graders were the best audience…interested in everything. High schoolers…not so much. LOL. Very simple theater: I would show them the rocks/minerals (and hydrocarbons) used to make almost everything in the class room: bauxite/aluminum, sand/glass, gypsum/sheet rock, etc. What was always amazing was how surprised most of the teachers were. Not only are so many disconnected from our agricultural world (yes...some folks don't know cotton cloth comes from a plant) but also the rest of the natural resources. The focus wasn’t that much on oil/NG but how much life was dependent upon nature supplied commodities.

Unfortunately I don’t think the great majority of the target audience would have sufficient curiosity as my 4th graders to allow them to focus on even the simplest facts.

That's a horrifying trend! All that carbon pouring into the air, when we need it to stop instead.

Seems like the geologists are correct that oil is finite, but also the economists are correct that higher prices incentivise tapping previously uneconomical sources. Perhaps a moving balance point to both perspectives on peak oil? Not that there won't be a point in time when overall world all oils production declines, but it may be delayed longer than many of us thought. At least I'm starting to lean in that direction.

Or the increasing price and enhanced oil recovery will cause the peak to be higher and occur after more than 50% of the ultimately recoverable oil is extracted compared to a classic Hubbert curve. This would make the falling edge steeper, like a shark fin.

This would make the falling edge steeper, like a shark fin.

Not so sure about the shark fin of production descent either due to more sources becoming economically viable. Won't more oil sources reduce the angle of descent?

How much additional oil has the tripling and quadrupling of the price made economic to extract? Several billion barrels of U.S. tight oil and 250 billion barrels of syncrude from Canadian tar sands without any mention of their lower ERoEI and perhaps lower rate of production? 250 billion barrels of light sweet crude oil would probably allow production to rise above 10 Mb/d whereas Canadian tar sands might struggle to exceed 5 Mb/d. Venezuela is not significantly extracting its Orinoco tar sands yet (235 billion barrels? 500 billion barrels technically recoverable? EIA states their production is currently 2.24 Mb/d down from a peak of 3.3 Mb/d in 2000). 300 billion barrels of additional economically recoverable reserves compared to 2 trillion barrels of crude oil, is a 15% increase from the high price. If you add the Orinoco, then it is a 27% increase in reserves with a rate of production that is even worse. Much water is needed to produce the tar sands.

In short increasing economically recoverable reserves is not the same as increasing the rate of extraction. I think the price response will have its largest effect near the peak in world production.

Chiefs declare ban on pipelines, tankers

By Zoe McKnight, Vancouver Sun

First Nations leaders signed an indigenous legal declaration on Thursday, banning pipelines and oil tanker traffic in British Columbia in a further attempt to halt Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway project.

The Save the Fraser Declaration, signed by 130 First Nations and presented by National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo, reiterated growing opposition to construction of new pipelines in the province.

The Northern Gateway project would bring half a million barrels of oil per day from Alberta's oilsands to a port in Kitimat for shipment to Asian markets. It is supported by the federal government, but highly controversial in B.C.

"I've been given a mandate by my community to use all means necessary to stop this project," said Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik'uz First Nation and Yinka Dene Alliance, a coalition of six First Nations that have banned Enbridge from their territories.

"We will use legal means here in Canada as well as internationally. We have declared our own law, and I pledged my life when I signed that declaration in Williams Lake (where the coalition was born in 2010)," Thomas said.

--- snip ---

Also at Thursday's press conference, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson announced Save the Fraser Declaration Day in the city.

"These projects are clearly part of a future that is frightening and unsustainable," Robertson said.

Enbridge isn't going to get anything built for a long time if ever even with the Cons removing all the environmental safeguards that once existed. "Save the Fraser" also suggests that Kinder Morgan is going to have a very difficult time with it's expansion plans as well.

The First Nations are pretty angry with Harper and the Cons.

This is encouraging. I'm speaking at the hearings in Vancouver in a couple months, kind of intimidating. If it stalls the pipeline for a decade, well by that time the US dollar will be finished and so the US oil trade deficit will no longer be able to be maintained, then they will demand all the oil from Alberta instead go south. And who will we be to say no?

Of course, the other option is that when the monetary system collapses within the next couple years, Harper will take advantage of that chaos as an opportunity to invoke some kind of martial law, take the full dictatorial power he's always dreamed of, and force the thing through in the name of the national interest (the national interest of China, that is...)


Good to see that, as a nation, we're heading in the right direction.


Re: Peak oil is dead.

"we need to leave about two thirds of this stuff in the ground."

That would be a good idea, but when profits are to be made and people demand more, that is highly doubtful.

New Online Tool Estimates Carbon and Energy Impact of Trees

... Using a Google Maps interface, ecoSmart Landscapes (www.ecosmartlandscapes.org) allows homeowners to identify existing trees on their property or select where to place new planned trees; estimate and adjust tree growth based on current size or planting date; and calculate present and future carbon and energy impacts of existing and planned trees. After registration and login, Google Maps will zoom in to your property's location based on your street address. Use the tool's easy-to-use point and click functions to identify your parcel and building boundaries on the map. Next, input the size and type of trees on your property. The tool will then calculate the energy effects and carbon storage that those trees provide now and into the future. Such information can help guide you on the selection and placement of new trees on your property.

The program allows cities, utility companies, water districts, non-profits and other non-government organizations to integrate public tree planting programs into their carbon offset or urban forestry programs. The current beta release includes all California climate zones. Data for the remainder of the U.S. and an enterprise version designed for city planners and large-scale projects is due out the first quarter of 2013.

It's come to this. We can't just go out into our own yards and see what's going on, what we would like to grow. We need an app for that, to tell us what's up - to have f*ing google involved. This total dissocation, the capitalist dream, marches on.

No worse than the mandated gizmos in every wheel of every car to tell you if the pressure is low.

Me - I stay away from gmail and gdocs etc, and use off-line maps (both paper and digital).

Farm Soil Determines Environmental Fate of Phosphorous

Just 20 years ago, the soils of the Amazon basin were thought unsuitable for large-scale agriculture, but then industrial agriculture—and the ability to fertilize on a massive scale—came to the Amazon. What were once the poorest soils in the world now produce crops at a rate that rivals that of global breadbaskets. Soils no longer seem to be the driver—or the limiter—of agricultural productivity. But a new Brown University-led study of three soybean growing regions, including Brazil, finds that soils have taken on a new role: mediating the environmental consequences of modern farming.

The Oxisol and Ultisol soils in the soybean fields of Brazil's Mato Grosso state, which were once rain forest land, absorb phosphorous and don't easily let go. Successful soybean cultivation there since the 1990s has only been possible with improved soybean varieties, and large inputs of lime (to raise the soil pH) and phosphorus (to overcome the soils native deficiency). These large inputs mean the soils in Mato Grosso are gaining about 31 kg phosphorus per hectare per year, according to the researchers' measurements.

The good news in Brazil is that the deep soils have kept such a tight grip on their phosphorous that almost none of the fertilizer is ending up in nearby waterways.

The exact opposite has proven true in Iowa ... Since 1995 Iowa farmers have used much less phosphorous, adding only a net of 3 kg per hectare per year, but local lakes and rivers are being polluted because the soil is still releasing all that phosphorous applied long ago.

From CRS ... Bee Health: The Role of Pesticides

... Given their importance to food production, many have expressed concern about whether a “pollinator crisis” has been occurring in recent decades. In the United States, commercial migratory beekeepers along the East Coast of the United States began reporting sharp declines in 2006 in their honey bee colonies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that overwinter colony losses from 2006 to 2011 averaged more than 32% annually.

This report: ... Describes changes in managed and wild bee populations; ... Provides a listing of the range of possible factors thought to be negatively affecting managed and wild bee populations. ... Briefly summarizes readily available scientific research and analysis regarding the potential role of pesticides

Because neonicotinoid pesticides have been the focus of concerns in Europe and in the United States, this report briefly describes recent scientific research related to possible effects of exposure to these pesticides on bees.

Fracking lobbyists prepare case against Matt Damon's Promised Land

Hollywood's discovery of fracking has caused some unease in the oil and gas industry – even in the midst of America's energy boom.

A leading lobby group, Energy in Depth, has put out a "cheat sheet" of pro-fracking talking points to counter any bad publicity that may arise following the release of the new Matt Damon film, Promised Land. The film, directed by Gus Van Sant, stars Damon as a gas company salesman who travels the dying towns of the American heartland, buying up drilling rights from struggling farmers. It is due for a limited release on 28 December, with a wider run in January.

Other industry groups have considered emailing pro-fracking studies to critics, handing out leaflets to movie-goers or setting up "truth squads" on Twitter, according to news reports. Some have even argued that the film is a fiendishly clever attempt by Middle Eastern oil-producing countries to destroy America's homegrown natural-gas industry. One of the production companies behind the film is funded, in small part, by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, an investment company based in the United Arab Emirates.

"Some have even argued that the film is a fiendishly clever attempt by Middle Eastern oil-producing countries to destroy America's homegrown natural-gas industry."

That's funny...

Saudi-Led Oil Lobby Group Financed 2012 Dark Money Attack Ads

The “American” in American Petroleum Institute, the country’s largest oil lobby group, is a misnomer. As I reported for The Nation in August, the group has changed over the years, and is now led by men like Tofiq Al-Gabsani, a Saudi Arabian national who heads a Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco) subsidiary, the state-run oil company that also helps finance the American Petroleum Institute. Al-Gabsani is also a registered foreign agent for the Saudi government.

New disclosures retrieved today, showing some of API’s spending over the course of last year, reveal that API used its membership dues (from the world’s largest oil companies like Chevron and Aramco) to finance several dark money groups airing attack ads in the most recent election cycle.

I've seen an early draft of the script. It's mostly about high-pressure sales techniques used to dupe landowners into signing away gas leases at below market rates. As I wrote on another web site:

"For a movie that's supposed to be about fracking there's very little of substance. You will not come away from the movie knowing anything more about fracking than you did going in. The writers didn't present a definite point of view one way or the other, so the movie limps to a conclusion rather than ending with a big finish."

The finished movie often differs from the script, but my prediction based on what I've read: a commercial flop.

aardi - disappointing to hear. I had hoped the movie would emphasis where most of the serious risk is developed: improper disposal of toxic chemicals. But that story line has already been done many times by Hollywood. But so has the heavy sales pitch angle be it about real estate, cars, political campaigns, etc. From your report it sounds like they are just using the current hype about frac'ng to re-sell an old story line. This, ironically, is making a sales pitch using a somewhat deceptive approach...much like their story line of the new movie.

Shell, VCs Ante Up $26M for Solar That Beats Natural Gas

More activity in solar (thermal) powered Enhanced Oil Recovery.
GlassPoint Solar gets $26M in a B round.
They put a flimsy film based linear parabolic reflector inside a glass greenhouse that protects it from wind & dust. It focuses sunlight on a pipe carrying water, heating the water to steam, which is injected into wells to heat up heavy oil and make it recoverable.
From March 1, 2011:


Greed, not generosity, more likely to be 'paid forward'

Paying it forward - a popular expression for extending generosity to others after someone has been generous to you - is a heartwarming concept, but it is less common than repaying greed with greed, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

"The idea of paying it forward is this cascade of goodwill will turn into a utopia with everyone helping everyone," said lead researcher Kurt Gray, PhD. "Unfortunately, greed or looking out for ourselves is more powerful than true acts of generosity."

The results confirmed the researchers' hypothesis that greed would prevail because negative stimuli have more powerful effects on thoughts and actions than positive stimuli. Focusing on the negative may cause unhappiness, but it makes sense as an evolutionary survival skill, ...

BP finishes latest search for Gulf oil leaks

The subsea mission to see if BP's Deepwater Horizon site is leaking oil ended on Saturday, but no results have yet been announced. On Monday, the Coast Guard confirmed the inspection was over, but would not release any information.

... The mission was put off a week because the underwater vehicle required to make the inspection came from "overseas" and was delayed due to weather, according to Walker.

"That's a problem," says a spokesman for Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

Markey and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) have been asking BP and the Coast Guard for more information and video regarding the recent incidents. Markey's office says the idea that BP has to send for an underwater vehicle from another country, and then wait for it to arrive, speaks to how ill-prepared we may be in the event of another accident like the Deepwater Horizon.

... Is BP BS'n. - 3,858 oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and NOBODY has a ROV to check out the site.

Source of persistent Gulf sheen remains a mystery

Officials say underwater inspections at the site of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig disaster have failed to identify the source of a persistent sheen on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

S - Not exactly sure what the mystery may be. Numerous natural oil/NG seeps on the bottom of the GOM were documented decades ago. In fact some of the early exploration efforts tried mapping the seeps.

Church Explodes on Would-Be Thieves

Westway Baptist Church is without power after the unidentified men apparently attempted to steal the building's main electric cable for its copper and set off an explosion.

A surveillance camera caught the incident on tape. The video shows a truck pulling up, followed by one man cutting the wires near the street, possibly attempting to disconnect the main power line.

The video also showed the other man cutting the wires at the breaker box, followed by the explosion. The bolt cutters exploded upon contact with the copper wire.

"The man just blew up into a fire ball," Kirtley said. "I surely don't know if he was electrocuted or even alive."

... karma, or culling the herd.

Too bad it wasn't the *Westboro* Baptist Church. A loss of power there could only improve the national dialogue.

All he had to do was throw down a rubber matt and stand on it so he wouldn't be grounded. Tesla use to dazzle people with electricity charging all around him, but not causing him any harm because - you guessed it - a rubber matt.

Guess it's like one of John Lennon's lyrics, "Instant karma's gonna get you."

I see a booming sparkling business in coupling sprinklers to security systems near mains boxes, as an insurance against cleverer rubber-mat-using copper thieves :D

"The man just blew up into a fire ball," Kirtley said.
Head deacon Kirtly
"He blew up!"
Big smile
Zero emotion other than zeal
The two children watching
learn and reflect his joy
as they watch this man

The thief isn't dead. Look closely and he has mistakenly cut through two wires shorting them together. That flash wasn't from him grounding the circuit. Those watching the video will know he escaped (what does the video show next that we aren't shown - it didn't seem to lose power itself even after you see the lights go out) but the press will love to use a quote about not knowing if he is alive or dead.

He might have burns though.

EDIT: Seems Police agree


Deputies are searching for the suspects and believe one may have burns on his body. Anyone with information is asked to call the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Probably missing a couple eyebrows

Deacon Kirtley:
"I surely don't know if he was electrocuted or even alive."

"Dumb Ways to Die"

"arc flash"
"Donnie's accident"

'Consequences' - A Film About Electrical Accidents
A Public Service Announcement about the value of having GFI Ground Fault Interrupter circuit breakers (or RCD Residual Current Detector breakers) in the electrical boxes.

Yes, I know Kirtley made the comment but people say things for the camera that they know will be a "good" sound-byte.

The guy's injuries in reality will be from zero to serious burns from the debris (but maybe loss of sight worst case?) - depends on what was protecting their face and arms. As he was never electrocuted in the first place but rather he shorted the incoming AC lines together, any form of ground leakage detection would not have helped.

Re: Donnie's Arc Flash Accident - I looked it up. His was far worse. He shorted all three distribution phases together and was not wearing any safety gear - not even gloves. He says in his account that he would have been fine with his safety gear on and that was his bad mistake. He did survive to tell the tale though.

He repeats over and over again "All of this happened, because I wasn’t wearing my safety gear." It is impossible to tell from the video what protection, if any, the thief is wearing. If they are badly injured then they have the option to present themselves for medical care. It's not as if they will get the death penalty for the crime.

"...what protection, if any, the thief is wearing."

I'm pretty sure they're both wearing Oberon-40-cal/cm2's:

Molten copper is over 1083 degrees Celsius / 1981 degrees Fahrenheit.
UltraSoft 40's?
...the church looks worse, but it has the bolt cutter's steel in the spray.

100 amp service, 20,000 amp fault: Watch the glove

The good news? The church "after" photo shows that not much metal has flamed away.

Some commotion, I turn to peer... They're dusting something off, something unearthed...

"What is it?!", I yell over at them... They lift it up... Something rectangular... I go over...

It has two halves with a fulcrum between each on one side... there are openings around its edges... My colleague presses one of the symbols... that and others seem to flicker briefly, but maybe it's just the sun, my eyes... It's very hot here, everywhere... dust is whipped up by a gust...

"I'm going back!"

Months later, I return... They motion to me... It's what they had found... I notice one of its halfs on one side open, flickering ghostly images of creatures, surrounded by symbols and colors, as it's pivoted around to show me...

"What happened to them? Do you know yet?"

They point... "These are 'links'. We think they connected to others at some point... We retrieved quite a bit..."

"How old? Where'd they go?"

"About 10000 revolutions around their star we think... Well... From what we can tell... We don't think they went anywhere."

"What do you mean?" I already knew.

"They died out."...

"See over there?" Young colleague points southwest... "100 kilometers, the radiation's off the scale..." Other colleague cuts in... "We can't go in there. But it's not just that. It's the whole planet. It's contaminated... It's what we picked up..."

"With what?"

Lifts up rectangular object...

"With this. With their technology."

Of course I already knew. It was just like all the others. Like a law of nature. A paradox...
More commotion, whispering... A door opens slightly to eyes peering through, peering at our table... the door swings wider open, they point at me...

"They found another one."

"What? Ok..."

"You're not going to like it." At that point, they are at our table, and I am handed a similar object. I peer at it... at an image of myself and the rest of us...

"You know you're not supposed to do this."

"We didn't... It was like this... But another thing... We can't make any sense of its age..."

Or you could stop science-fiction and write a story about how hundreds of thousands of inhabitant of Bangladesh are today poisoned by arsenic in the water of their wells. Just facts, happening today, no need to let your imagination run wild and crazy.

That was a great idea apparently, lack of drinkable water in Bangladesh, all the surface one is polluted, just dig wells down to the water table and solve the problem ! So the World Bank brought money to dig thousands of deep tube well.
And then people started to get mysteriously sick. It took quite a while to realize that's because the whole Ganges delta naturally contains massive amount of arsenic in the depths, and that the bacterias getting inside the well convert it to a form that's ingestible. And it's actually not the only place in the world that has this problem : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arsenic_contamination_of_groundwater

Well that's the thing, and thank you for kind of pointing that out.

We exist within our own fictions; the lies, deceits, contradictions, delusions "we" convince ourselves of; the secrecies in the name of national security; the corporate oligarchic democracies; our wage-slave jobs and disposable consumptions; the energies supposedly needed, such as for 'comfort'; the myopic misapplication of technology; the vested interests...

(I read a little of this drumbeat only after posting my story. Imagine my surprise when I read mentions of other sci-fi's and black holes, after having just cursorily researched them for my story here... the collective unconscious... Apparently, time slows down quite a bit near a "gravity-well".)

...Much good science fiction is about our fictional truths-- which is not to suggest that my short is any good. I don't even know how it ends or what's going to happen next. That's up to us. What do you think? Write it then! Go on! It's your story too! :)

Following is a link to, and an excerpt from, a sobering WSJ article about the Greek's upcoming "Winter of Their Discontent." The full article is behind a paywall. Given the steady increase in total global public debt, versus the stready decline in the ratio of Global Net Exports of oil (GNE) to Chindia's Net Imports (CNI), my view for a while has been the sooner that most oil importing OECD countries default on their public debts, the better off they will be.

2002 to 2011 ratio of GNE to CNI versus total global public debt:


Struggles Mount for Greeks as Economy Faces Winter

The spread of economic hardship is fraying Greece's social fabric and straining its political cohesion as the country enters the harshest winter of its three-year-old debt crisis. Even the tightknit Greek family—an institution that has helped the population to absorb a collapse in employment—is under pressure as household incomes dwindle.

Many families are sliding down the economic ladder that their parents and grandparents climbed, often making them reliant on those same retirees' shrinking pensions. Already-poor families are slipping off the ladder, into the arms of overburdened charities. In a country of 11 million, only 3.7 million people have jobs, down from 4.6 million four years ago. Economic activity has shrunk by over 20% in that time.

The pressure on society is testing the country's political stability. Crumbling establishment parties cling to office. Radical-left populists wait in the wings, promising to restore state largess. Violent neo-Nazis are boosting their political profiles by exploiting fear of immigrants, crime and social breakdown. Many Greeks worry that the current government coalition could collapse in 2013, leading to renewed political turmoil that could revive the specter of national bankruptcy and exit from the euro . . .

Mr. Tzovaras and his wife have owned their mortgage-free apartment for decades. Greece's tradition of widespread property ownership has been another vital shock absorber. Greece has one of the highest rates of owner-occupancy in Europe, and heavy mortgages are less common than in Spain or Ireland. But the government, desperate for revenues, is taxing property heavily even as household incomes decline. The couple's apartment block, like most residential buildings in Athens, is gripped by disagreement over whether to buy fuel for the central heating this winter, when outside temperatures can touch freezing. New taxes have made heating oil nearly as costly as gasoline. Half of the Tzovaras' neighbors can't afford it and voted to leave the heating off. "We'll be using more blankets this winter," Mr. Tzovaras says.

The Police State Comes To Arkansas


Should boost their tourism no end.

Paul Farrell at MarketWatch gives a quick comment based on Michael Klare's The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources.

13 reasons Koch Empire joins environmentalists

Farrell's becoming a Doomer, like many of us posting on Drumbeat.

E. Swanson


"[Police are] going to be in SWAT gear and have AR-15s around their neck," Stovall said. "If you're out walking, we're going to stop you, ask why you're out walking, check for your ID."
Stovall said while some people may be offended by the actions of his department, they should not be.
"We're going to do it to everybody," he said. "Criminals don't like being talked to."

Yea, because non-criminals LIKE Guys and Dolls with guns and SWAT gear coming up to 'em and asking questions.

Related to http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9714#comment-935627 and above ...

Man Carrying Umbrella Charged With Breach of Peace

Wilfredo Seda was arrested Monday for openly carrying an umbrella. And also for dressing in black.

Capt. Thomas Comstock of the Ridgefield Police Department said Seda did not take any actions that might constitute breach of peace.

Instead, Comstock said, it was Seda's "mode" of appearance -- dressed in black, with a black hood, carrying what looked to be some sort of weapon, that prompted police to charge him with breach of peace.

... when are they going to make 'stupid' a crime?

also ... tales from the Panopticon

Scottsdale Inventions Patent Electric Shock Handcuffs for Detainees

The following patent for restraints that are capable of emitting electrical shocks and administering drugs to subdue detainees ...

... Restraining devices may be activated by internal control systems or by external controllers that transmit activation signals to the restraining device.

The restraining device may be any device capable ofbeing attached to a detainee and restraining at least a portion of the detainee’s body, and in various implementations may include at least one of: a handcuff; an ankle cuff; a restraining belt; a straightjacket; a harness; a facial restraint; a helmet; and a neck collar; and combinations thereof. The restraint further includes one or more electrodes coupled to the electric shock component, and one of the one or more electrodes are configured to contact the skin of the detainee to deliver a shock when a predetermined condition occurs.

In various embodiments, the shock output of the restraining device may be varied to achieve any desired result. For example, the control system may be configured to cause the electric shock component to vary at least one of: a magnitude of the electric shock; a frequency of a signal generating the electric shock; and duration of the electric shock.

Capt. Ramsey: Speaking of horses did you ever see those Lipizzaner stallions
Capt. Ramsey: Some of the things they do, uh, defy belief. Their training program is simplicity itself. You just stick a cattle prod up their a$$ and you can get a horse to deal cards.
Capt. Ramsey: Simple matter of voltage. - Crimson Tide


The use of glyphosate modifies the environment which stresses the living microorganisms. The aim of the present study was to determine the real impact of glyphosate on potential pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota in vitro. The presented results evidence that the highly pathogenic bacteria as Salmonella Entritidis, Salmonella Gallinarum, Salmonella Typhimurium, Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium botulinum are highly resistant to glyphosate. However, most of beneficial bacteria as Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus badius, Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Lactobacillus spp. were found to be moderate to highly susceptible. Also Campylobacter spp. were found to be susceptible to glyphosate. A reduction of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract microbiota by ingestion of glyphosate could disturb the normal gut bacterial community. Also, the toxicity of glyphosate to the most prevalent Enterococcus spp. could be a significant predisposing factor that is associated with the increase in C. botulinum-mediated diseases by suppressing the antagonistic effect of these bacteria on clostridia.

And elsewhere on the farm critters and what they are subjected to:

Every year 50% of the total tonnage of antibiotics used in Canada ends up in livestock. And every year cattle raised in massive feedlots are routinely dosed with antibiotics even if they are not sick. For public health safety reasons during the current BSE (Mad Cow disease) crisis, North American health officials have labeled certain parts of the cow as bio-hazardous products and have ordered that they be handled accordingly.

And because I've not done a biochar link in a while:

Effects of biochar on the chemical composition of the plants
There were linear changes the composition of the leaves and stems of the vegetable (Table 3; Figures 1 and 2). The DM content of leaves and stems was not affected by the level of biochar that was applied; however, in both leaves and stems the crude protein increased (on average by some 30%) and the crude fiber decreased (by some 30%) as the application of biochar was increased

Beware the Biochar Initiative

From the article's comments:

"It seems that nobody above, neither the author nor the commentators, have a perfect set of science to support their respective sides of the problem. So I’m going to point it in a purely philosophical direction:

Why? We know that ordinary decomposition sequesters carbon in undisturbed soil. We know that organic matter in undisturbed soil supports broad communities of flora and fauna that promote soil fertility, retain moisture and support a level of productivity from which everyone can benefit. Isn’t bio-char, at best, the pursuit of a seemingly benign quick fix for the damage done by the malignant pursuit of instant gratification?

Similarly, bio-fuels look for a benign solution to our energy consumption when the underlying problem is the unsupportable (but commonly held) idea that we should have a free supply of absolutely everything all the time: exotic food, luxurious housing, unlimited travel, etc.

Looking for good extraordinary interventions to compensate for bad extraordinary interventions doesn’t seem like a solution when, it seems to me, the underlying problem is the human conceit that things can only be fixed by us acting, as opposed to just standing back, doing no harm and letting the natural processes we messed with correct themselves. I can’t think of a problem faced BY us that can’t be fixed by addressing the problem IN us."
~ Scott Harris

"Thanks Scott – this is what I meant by my comment above. The concern I have with this seemingly unending series of suggested quick-fixes is it numbs society into thinking 'we’ll find a way to continue living as we are', that we’ll somehow geo-engineer our way out of this, instead of accepting the reality of the need for a serious, and rapid, shift in ambitions and lifestyles.

All these supposed quick fixes do is have us making the kind of arguments that we’re seeing in this thread – and we’ll keep arguing as we ride over the precipice."
~ Craig Mackintosh

as opposed to just standing back, doing no harm and letting the natural processes we messed with correct themselves.


The application rate was chosen for study because it’s an order of magnitude (10 times) greater than carbon sequestered (per acre per year) by a good cover crop stand.

(Lets see - do nothing or work 10X times better......hrmmmm)


Existing evidence suggests that raising soil pH may be biochar's most important documented contribution to influencing soil quality. Soil pH mostly influences the relative availability of nutrients. At low pH, aluminum toxicity is particularly harmful to plant growth. Aluminum toxicity is an extensive and severe soil problem, and biochar can be an easily available solution to combat it. Soil phosphorus availability is highly dependent on soil pH range, and thus biochar can be used to substantially increase phosphorus availability in soils that are below the ideal pH range (6.5 to 7.0). Used alone, or in combinations, compost, manure, and/or synthetic fertilizers are added to soils at certain rates every year.

Dr. Elaine Ingham - of soilfoodweb now at Rodale
http://carbonfarmingcourse.com/i/audio/Elaine_Ingham_Interview.mp3 - where she speaks of the history of compost, the importance of biological organisms in the soil, and the benefits of biochar.
(Keep in mind when TOD was new upon the web, Dr. Ingham wasn't very interested or complementary about biochar.)

And one can see how simple others are making biochar - they are just dumping it on top of the soil.

You know, eric-- counterstudies, industrial monoculture, geosociopolitical/historical contexts, vested interests, bribes, and hidden agendas aside-- it's like that little discussion in this drumbeat here where giving teachers guns is mentioned... Ok, so we give pilots and teachers with guns and all start fumbling with what is called 'biochar' (or what some of us think is biochar, because maybe some of us do it "wrong"? Or is it terra preta? Or neither? Or both? Amazon, Missouri or Wales?) Then what? Normal composting, compost tea, no-till, the power of duck and chickens, mulch, etc., not enough for us? We want to make more smoke to add to the climate?
I recently came across something about potentially-serious drops in 02 levels. Unsure what it means, but there it is.
I wonder what David Korowicz, or whomever else, would say about this everyone-and-their-cat-with-guns-doing-biochar everywhere vis-a-vis the notion of lock-in or magic bullets, etc.. (If recalled, George Monbiot, who, at last look, was pro-nuke [rubs head], calls biochar, charcoal.)

I skimmed this video some time ago that might be watched again, as I feel in the mood.

We want to make more smoke to add to the climate?

Smoke indicates you are doing your burning wrong.

Taking your end of year tomato, potato and watermelon plants and making them into char means you have interrupted the viral disease cycle.

Using a cook stove like the Anila has features like these:

Health: Biochar-producing stoves are potentially much cleaner, with lower emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and fine particles.

Climate: Biochar-producing stoves have lower greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide and methane) and black carbon emissions, create biochar that can be used to sequester carbon in soils, and reduce the use of fossil-fuel based fertilizers.

Deforestation: Biochar-producing stoves use less fuel, can use a wider variety of fuels, and can replace inefficient charcoal production technologies.

Soils: Biochar-producing stoves create biochar that sequesters carbon in soils, may in some cases reduce emissions of nitrous oxide (a powerful greenhouse gas) from soils, improves fertility, and increases productivity in degraded soils.

Income Generation: Biochar-producing stoves can accommodate many forms of agricultural residues—some without further treatment. Collecting this residue is another income generating opportunity not presently available for most other stoves since they cannot utilize that type of fuel.


Can you tell us what plants you are consuming?

In my above post, add between the double hyphens; peak phosphorus, climate change, panic, human ineptitude...

“An international declaration was today launched by 147 organisations opposing the growing hype and political support for Biochar... The groups further assert that, ‘the biochar initiative fails to address the root causes of climate change.’”
~ http://www.etcgroup.org

“Groups have been warning for years that the biochar techno-fix will mean land-grabbing on a vast scale. Time and time again, biochar advocates have misled the public with claims that we can produce vast amounts of charcoal from residues alone. Now they are showing their true colours: Large-scale biochar means large-scale land grabs.”
~ Anne Maina

“Including biochar and agricultural soil in carbon markets would turn soils into a commodity that could be sold to offset pollution elsewhere. It would endanger smallholder farmers and indigenous peoples who cannot compete with governments and large companies and who are at risk of being displaced if the ground is literally sold out from under their feet.”
~ Helena Paul

“The idea that charcoal will rescue a burning planet is absurd. Some biochar proponents call for quantities of charcoal which would require over 500 million hectares of industrial tree and crop plantations. We know already that industrial agriculture and tree plantations are a major contributor to climate change and displace people and biodiversity. We need to protect ecosystems, not grow vast new monocultures and burn them! This is a farce.”
~ Stella Semino

Large-scale support for biochar is premature and dangerous. Claims that biochar is retained permanently in soils and increases fertility are based on Terra Preta soils in Amazonia, which were made by indigenous peoples hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Those farmers used biodiverse organic residues and compost, as well as charcoal. Modern biochar is not the same. Some companies are making biochar out of municipal waste and tyres, others promote using biochar to scrub flue gases from coal burners and then using this combination as a fertilizer. Some plan to use giant microwave ovens to char trees – justifying this by pointing to ancient Amazonian soils is absurd...
The highly influential International Biochar Initiative, which seeks funding via the Clean Development Mechanism, is a hybrid of academics and industry. ...Biochar, like other forms of black carbon, actually contributes to warming when it becomes airborne. In one recent Quebec field test, 30% of the biochar dust blew away during transport and as it was being spread over the fields and tilled into the soil. This hasn’t been thought through at all.”
~ Almuth Ernsting

“...Following the false solution of industrial bio fuels we now have the waste left from production of bio fuels as the next magic bullet... The waste is a solid residue containing carbon and ash. This waste has now been given the elegant name ‘biochar’. It is being wrongly treated as the same as ‘Terra Preta de Indio’ — the black soils created by the indigenous people of the Amazon by burying charcoal over hundreds of years. Charcoal in every soil and every ecosystem can prove to be an ecological disaster.

‘Biochar’ is basically the next new trick of global investors to make money on the global market of carbon trading. As the biochar website clearly states ‘A prerequisite for the above mentioned management practices is access to the global carbon trade.’ ...this is what is driving ‘biochar’ — not love for the soil, nor the wisdom of indigenous people.

[biochar] ...is based on a scientific fraud... In total ignorance of the living soil and its complex ecological processes...

Biochar is another expression of arrogant ignorance which assumes nature got it wrong. It is a blind and reductionist solution which reduces both climate and soil to carbon, forgetting the millions of soil micro-organisms that make a living soil and the trace elements and micronutrients what give life and health to plants and humus. This is carbon reductionism, not ecology.

Biofuel waste as biochar /charcoal is dead carbon. What we need to increase is living carbon in plants and in humus. An anti-life world view cannot protect life...”

Rest of article:
~ Vandana Shiva

“Biochar is not what it is hyped up to be, and implementing the biochar initiative could be dangerous, basically because saving the climate turns out to be not just about curbing the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere that can be achieved by burying carbon in the soil, it is also about keeping oxygen (O2) levels up. Keeping O2 levels up is what only green plants on land and phytoplankton at sea can do, by splitting water to regenerate O2 while fixing CO2 to feed the rest of the biosphere (Living with Oxygen, SiS 43).

...Turning trees into charcoal in a hurry could be the surest way to precipitate an oxygen crisis from which we may never recover.”
~ http://current.com/1jna64c

“Oceanic anoxic events or anoxic events occur when the Earth’s oceans become completely depleted of oxygen (O2) below the surface levels. Although anoxic events have not happened for millions of years, the geological record shows that they happened many times in the past. Anoxic events may have caused mass extinctions. These mass extinctions were so characteristic, they include some that geobiologists use as time markers in biostratigraphic dating. It is believed oceanic anoxic events are strongly linked to lapses in key oceanic current circulations, to climate warming and greenhouse gases.”
~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anoxic_event

‘the biochar initiative fails to address the root causes of climate change.’

And where in the volume of discussions worldwide on Biochar has such a claim had been made?

Then, compare that to the total volume of claims made about biochar.

bunch of comments about large scale biochar

And what I've posted in this drumbeat talks about widescale exactly where? You are creating a series of objections based on things not being claimed. Its like you are not understanding or even reading what is being said. I post links to small scale stoves that make Carbon for incorporation into the soil and your response is "burn down all the forests!!!".

the next new trick of global investors to make money on the global market of carbon trading

Really? You are going to try and claim that somehow *I* am unaware of the money-issues of Carbon trading?

Do you actually READ what gets posted in drumbeats and by whom? Because I'm rather sure if there was a TOD posting BINGO card or TOD drinking game if the topic of Carbon Trading comes up you'd have a good chance that poster Eric Blair would be pointing out the 70% of wasted spending in Carbon control.

[biochar] ...is based on a scientific fraud... In total ignorance of the living soil and its complex ecological processes

Right - a fraud that increases the yield in plant growth.

But go ahead - show the fraud VS posting someone who claims fraud.

This might help you - http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=biochar+root+growth+nitrogen+fixing+...
(or it might support what I'm saying from actual experts VS philosophers - I'll let the rest of TOD pass judgment)

Biofuel waste as biochar /charcoal is dead carbon.

"Dead" Carbon? All "Carbon" is "dead". Its just an atom.

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/biochar/message/14200 points out how a redox reaction is useful with this "dead" claim.


This result is a good indication of the mutually beneficial interaction between biochar and mycorrhizal fungi.
The theory behind this positive effect is that biochar improves soil porosity, giving beneficial bacteria and fungi favorable living conditions. It’s also suspected that biochar’s own pores provide good growing places for beneficial microbes.

But lets try a simpler explanation:
Ya know what else is dead and not alive - A house. Yet a house provides "a home" for the alive things to stay at and work out of thus making the alive things far more productive and happy than sleeping out on the ground at night and standing in the rain when the rain is at 40 deg F.

A "its dead" claim is handwaving but thanks for giving me the chance to call out such for what it is.

Rest of article:
~ Vandana Shiva

Now lets see what the "appeal to authority" person "Vandana Shiva" is, shall we? - an Indian philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist.

I cited Dr. Ingram who is an actual subject matter expert in soil science. She for years has explained the microbes in the soil and compost. "Living soils" - exactly the same theme of the philosopher you have cited as being your authority.

And as I noted Dr. Ingram at one time was like you - not a supporter of adding biochar.
And as noted in my link to the MP3, Dr. Ingram now feels it is a benefit.

Again on "appeal to authority" Dr. Mae-Wan Ho (the oxygen crisis claim) is known for critical views on genetic engineering and has a biochemical degree.

Lets look at Dr. Ingram's "authority" on this GMO topic, shall we?
Instead of claiming GMOs could be a life-as-we-know-it-ends event as with Dr. Ho, Dr. Ingram has ACTUAL research and ACTUAL data on a modified Klebsiella planticola and was able to stop its release into the biosphere as part of extended testing showing how the outcome could be the widespread death of terrestrial plants.

Perhaps after gaining understanding of the situation your dogma on this will pass on.

Biochar, fine grained charcoal added to soils, has been promoted with claims it can sequester carbon in soils for “hundreds to thousands of years”, improve soil fertility and hence increase crop yields and also provide renewable energy from pyrolysis production. Yet scientific research, particularly field trials, are woefully lacking. Field studies that have been done do not support these claims (for review see the accompanying report: “Biochar: A Critical Review of Science and Policy”).
...Some advocates are advancing biochar on a very large scale as a “climate geoengineering” technique.

Biochar Fund trials in Cameroon were expected to be the largest and longest lasting biochar trials to date... However, the data were preliminary. It was indicated that further data were forthcoming but these were never made publicly available. Biochar Fund’s website was subsequently terminated.

...participating farmers had donated time and land to the trials. Biochar Fund and Key Farmers provided them with literature proclaiming the “benefits” of biochar. Of the 75 plots established, farmers failed to follow through to completion on 31, for a variety of reasons... yield increases could have been due to pH effects of biochar on soil, and/or to nutrients contained in ash associated with biochar – however long term yield increase was not demonstrated. The trials had been abandoned, with no indication they would be continued. Yet farmers were still being told that when funds arrived, the project would continue... In particular, participating farmers had been led to expect that the next phase of the project would result in income from the sale of carbon credits for biochar...

Biochar had been produced for the trials by Biochar Fund and Key Farmers staff, using a (very inefficient) single barrel stove method which did not offer any chance for producing renewable energy. Farmers were not trained or equipped to carry forward with biochar production themselves. Data collected were not scientifically useful due to lack of replication and randomization in the trial design.

While reports indicated that data were to be collected from two maize harvests, the trials were halted following a single harvest. Soil analysis data, though apparently collected were never reported. Laurens Rademaker, Biochar Fund’s founder and director... now offers... consultancy services... claimed in an interview in 2010 that the Cameroon trials were still ongoing, and used the proclaimed “success” of the Cameroon trials as leverage to obtain funding for another project... used the proclaimed success of the Cameroon trials to obtain support... for biochar trials in DRC... based on the claim that using “slash and char” instead of “slash and burn” could reduce deforestation. Little information is available about the current status of these DRC trials.

Developing interest in biochar is similar to what occurred with biofuels, especially jatropha about which claims of remarkable productivity on “marginal” lands have proven false. Baseless claims resulted in major investment, speculative and otherwise, in jatropha - driving land grabs and displacement of peasant farmers rather than alleviating poverty...

~ www.biofuelwatch.net November 2011
Biochar Fund Trials In Cameroon Hype And Unfulfilled Promises by Benoit Anthony Ndameu and Biofuelwatch

Full report: www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2011/biochar_cameroon


It is increasingly evident that the effects of biochar on soils, crops and soil carbon depend partly on different biochars physical and chemical properties, and partly on the highly varied soil and ecosystem properties. Yet few of the studies on which claims about biochar are based actually were studies of char residues from modern pyrolysis... Rather they tend to be studies of traditional charcoal, charcoal and soot remains from wildfires or swidden agriculture, or even soot deposited from fossil fuel burning. Because of the very different characteristics of these materials and their interactions with an even greater variation in soils, it may never be possible to draw general conclusions about the impact of biochar on soils and plant growth.

Field testing – by far the most relevant type of testing – is surprisingly lacking... results vary greatly, even within individual studies, and only two lasted longer than two years. The current evidence base is thus far too small for making reliable predictions about the impact of different biochars on different crops, in different soils and in different combinations with organic or mineral fertilisers.

Climate impacts of biochar: claims versus science

...Terra Preta are soils created by indigenous peoples in the Central Amazon, hundreds to thousands of years ago, which still contain large amounts of black carbon and exhibit a high degree of fertility. Modern biochar however, bears little resemblance to this. Terra Preta soils were made using many different materials and a process no longer known. Simply adding one ingredient, charcoal, to soils, generally in the context of monoculture cropping practices, is very different and the analogy is not supported by evidence... Nonetheless, biochar advocates claim, for example, that biochar could sequester as much as 2.2 billion tonnes of carbon every year by 2050, that it can be useful for climate geoengineering as a means of “carbon dioxide removal”, to “enhance” the global carbon cycle. Such large-scale [biochar] visions would entail conversion of large areas of lands to grow biochar feedstocks, raising the potential for land grabs and expanding monocultures and deforestation.

One recent report... claims a theoretical potential for biochar to reduce global emissions by 12% based on “sustainable” levels of biomass harvest – yet this included conversion of 556 million hectares of land. These claims are alarming, especially given the dearth of scientific studies and the mixed results from those that have been performed.

Biochar field trials and soil carbon

Is the claim that biochar will remain stable in soils for hundreds or even thousands of years supported by evidence? Even the scant number of relevant field studies that have been done do not support any such a claim...
In summary, field study results so far suggest that biochar is not a reliable way to increase soil carbon. It is not clear what happened to the lost carbon... Some biochar carbon might not have been stable. Some biochar may have stimulated soil microbes, which then turned existing soil organic carbon into CO2... Some may have been lost through water or wind erosion.

A recent scientific review by 14 soil scientists from 12 research institutes published in Nature (tinyurl.com/62xxmmr)... concludes that it is impossible to predict how stable different forms of carbon will be in soils from looking at their molecular structure or at laboratory studies – yet predictions about biochar carbon being 'stable' strongly rely on doing just that... Claims about biochar being a reliable means of sequestering carbon in soils are thus not borne out by recent scientific findings. Further, the production of biochar requires massive quantities of biomass... The climate impacts of harvesting, transporting, pyrolyzing, and ploughing in such large amounts of charcoal into soils would contribute hugely to emissions, even before considering likely direct and indirect impacts of large-scale land conversion.

...biochar particles can be very small, or can break down over time to become very small – small enough to become airborne, and, like soot, contribute to global warming... This effect could counter and reverse any theoretical gains from carbon sequestration through biochar.

Biochar and soil fertility: claims versus science

...There are a number of possible ways in which biochar could potentially... decrease plant growth... Field trials... are... not representative of the impacts over time... Results were highly variable... depending on the type of biochar, the soil, the type of crops tested and what else was also added to the plots (fertilisers, compost etc)... Overall, there is little support for any assumption that biochar can reliably increase crop yields.

Farmers who seek to improve yields using biochar are therefore taking a significant risk... Efficient pyrolysis units are costly, difficult to operate and control and there is scant evidence of any practical benefits from biochar use.

Biochar policy trends

...The [biochar lobby] push for commercial scale biochar production continues to focus largely on securing funding to scale up production and securing carbon offsets, [etc.] ...These groups are comprised of academic researchers, business entrepreneurs, consultancies, bioenergy interests and a host of other “enthusiasts.” They promote a range of biochar applications - from biochar for backyard gardening, to pyrolysis cook stoves or “slash and char” as a replacement for traditional “slash and burn” (swidden) practices, to global scale deployment for climate geoengineering. All have in common the need for public and private finance and supports to ramp up production.

Biochar as “good for the poor”

Based on the, unproven assumption that biochar... improve[s] soils fertility and therefore crop yields, biochar has been promoted as a technology for improving the livelihoods of subsistence farmers in the developing world.

The trials, which turned out to have involved a small fraction of the number of participants publicly claimed, had been abandoned after a single harvest, with only preliminary data made available. Some 18 months on, many participants were still expecting a continuation of the project and financial rewards from it – they had invested a lot of work for free and in some cases appear to have rented the land for the trial plots... Nonetheless, Biochar Fund had used proclaimed success in Cameroon to obtain funding for another biochar project... As in Cameroon, that project proposal, too refers to “reducing deforestation from slash-and burn” by improving soil fertility...

Furthermore, 'biochar cook stoves' are still in the early development stages and serious challenges remain with designing clean, fuel-efficient stoves that meet practical needs for cooking.

The “pro-poor” rhetoric adopted by some leading biochar advocates fits neatly into the current [greenwashing?] discourse about an African Green Revolution or 'Evergreen Revolution' both of which seek to liberalise agricultural trade while further replacing traditional farming knowledge and agro biodiversity with top-down 'knowledge' and 'expertise', including... a range of, largely unproven 'soil carbon conservation' techno-fixes and carbon marketing approaches.

Biochar advocates policy aims

...Carbon trading has rewarded some of the most polluting industries in Southern countries, from coal and steel companies to oil palm and industrial livestock companies with extra profits from carbon finance and has been subject to fraud...

While efforts to get carbon finance for biochar continue, new avenues for potential support are also being explored. These include...

3) Promoting biochar as a climate geoengineering technology... it is attracting growing interest from some corporate interests... including Shell, Richard Branson (including through his Carbon War Room) and the Gates Foundation. The Carbon War Room and the Gates Foundation have supported biochar as well as geoengineering in general...

Biochar companies

Several... involved with biochar, are more fundamentally in the business of bioenergy... Biochar is not necessarily the central focus of their mission, but may be produced as a by- product or secondary product, in hopes that it can also be made profitable or that it can be used to make claims about 'carbon negative energy' for PR purposes... CoolPlanet Biofuels, for example, seeks to develop second-generation liquid biofuels along with small quantities of biochar. The char by-product is not a “waste” but rather Cool Planet aims to market it, and uses it as the basis for claiming its process to be “carbon negative” ...Furthermore, biochar companies and advocates have been working to link up with fossil fuel interests ...interested in... potentially, mixing byproducts from coal production with biochar... [Biochar's] future will likely play out as a contest between opposing forces of massive hype, a growing body of research which largely fails to support the hype, and on the ground experience.

~ www.biofuelwatch.org.uk

A critical review of biochar science and policy
Full report: www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2011/a-critical-review-of-biochar-science-and-po...

As far as I can tell, biochar is controversial at best, at worst, catastrophic. There are just too many doubts, vested interests/agendas and dubious bedfellows, etc., and at a 7-billion-and-counting population, we no longer have the luxury our Amazon relatives had for error at our scale. The original terra preta happened long ago within different lifestyle, knowledge and smaller human population, etc., contexts.

Lastly, what with the corporate oligarchy's biochar bandwagon, and their unquestioned legitimacy in the eyes of an, albeit, dwindling, many, I wouldn’t put it past a biochar campaign of sorts that insidiously attracts far too many with far too little thought about it.

As far as I can tell

Which is why I've posted links to sources so that readers can make up their own mind.

Obviously your mind in closed to a change in thinking. But nice bolding of emotionally loaded words in attempt to convince others.

Lastly, what with the corporate oligarchy's biochar bandwagon


Which is why I've posted links to sources so that readers can make up their own mind.

Some of which don't exactly go anywhere. Maybe the bold words are for you. Love of Earth. Err on the side of caution.

As far as I can tell, biochar is controversial at best, at worst, catastrophic. There are just too many doubts, vested interests/agendas and dubious bedfellows, etc., and at a 7-billion-and-counting population, we no longer have the luxury our Amazon relatives had for error at our scale.


As far as I can tell, biochar is controversial at best, at worst, catastrophic. There are just too many doubts and at a 7-billion-and-counting population, we no longer have the luxury for error at our scale.

Lastly, what with the corporations and governments ostensibly getting in on this bandwagon, and their unquestioned legitimacy in the eyes of many, I wouldn’t put it past a biochar campaign of sorts that insidiously attracts far too many people with far too little thought about it.

From the above permaculture news site:

Lastly, what with the corporations and governments ostensibly getting in on this bandwagon, and their unquestioned legitimacy in the eyes of many, I wouldn’t put it past a biochar campaign of sorts that insidiously attracts far too many people with far too little thought about it.

Its almost like there is no original thought in the response - and a lack of attribution in the response.

...lack of attribution in the response.

Ok I suppose I should have quoted myself. :)

~ Caelan


The contents or pages of your two links above-- [ http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/20090605/biochar ] and [ http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/20110802_whats-the-big-deal-with-biochar ] -- cannot be found. Also, when I used their search function for 'biochar', nothing came up.

As for Vandana Shiva, you will also note, by a portion of her Wiki' entry, that, among other things, she's trained in physics; received her Ph.D. in philosophy and was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1993.

See also this video about biochar:
Comment from the OP:

Many people report better results when adding compost to biochar- probably due to composts' very positive influences masking or ameliorating the harsh negative effects of the charcoal, which it is true are short lived- but enough to rule it out for most commercial farm operations. Factorial studies conducted by unbiased parties would have to be performed to determine if there is really any synergistic effect.

Biochar is under investigation as an approach to carbon sequestration to produce negative carbon dioxide emissions... the degree to which results offer long term carbon sequestration in practice has been challenged...

The 2009 International Biochar Conference in Boulder, Colorado saw the launch of a mobile pyrolysis unit... A unit which opened in Dunlap, Tennessee in August 2009 after testing and an initial run, was subsequently shut down as part of a Ponzi scheme investigation.
~ Wikipedia

A federal judge... granted the request by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a temporary restraining order against two Philadelphia residents accused of operating a $30 million Ponzi scheme.

In a civil lawsuit filed Monday in Denver federal court, the SEC accused Mantria Corp. and principals Wragg and Knorr of raising $122 million from more than 300 investors nationwide in a dozen fraudulent securities offerings...
The SEC alleges that the McKelvys... particularly targeted elderly investors or those approaching retirement age to finance such "green" initiatives of Mantria as a supposed “carbon negative” housing community in rural Tennessee and a “biochar” charcoal substitute made from organic waste.
~ Philadelphia Business Journal

Today we have more soil scientists than at any other time in history. If you plot the rise of soil scientists against the loss of soil, you see that the more of them you have, the more soil you lose.
~ Bill Mollison

Also, when I used their search function for 'biochar', nothing came up.

If you actually READ what is in front of you, you would have seen this on the main page:

We are almost ready to launch the new and improved Rodale Institute website. Please excuse our dust during this time of transition!

But if the highest level of showing the data I've presented is wrong via direct refutation of the data presented is pointing out how a website is under redesign you have a far weaker case.

As for Vandana Shiva, you will also note, by a portion of her Wiki' entry, that, among other things, she's trained in physics; received her Ph.D. in philosophy and was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1993.

Thank you for confirming that she is not an actual soil scientist and how she did not avert the possible destruction of the biosphere's terrestrial plants with her expertise.

Bill Mollison

If you want to get good results (but slightly less stunning results) with less work, learn from the people who developed the concept of Permaculture - Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Here is a Bill Mollison video to whet your appetite (total running time 51:42). If you add BIOCHAR to your soil, that greatly improves the soil - producing up to 890% as much harvest as the same soil with no biochar.

So nice of you to cite Mr. Mollison as someone worth quoting as I was unaware of the 890% claim.

If you actually READ what is in front of you, you would have seen this on the main page:
We are almost ready to launch the new and improved Rodale Institute website. Please excuse our dust during this time of transition!

That would seem to be your responsibility to provide alternatives, since they are your references.

My mention of it is for our benefit. It is an attempt at confirmation of/following up on your own info, as opposed to mindless refutation.

Vandana Shiva is but one of many concerned people, including many scientists and farmers. If you follow up on the info you may see that for yourself.
Also, ostensibly, the Earth is being used as an open lab, such as for genetically modified organisms. Humans don't seem to have a very good track record.

Perhaps we would do well to investigate whether any soil scientists work for Monsanto.


If you want to get good results (but slightly less stunning results) with less work, learn from the people who developed the concept of Permaculture - Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Here is a Bill Mollison video to whet your appetite (total running time 51:42). If you add BIOCHAR to your soil, that greatly improves the soil - producing up to 890% as much harvest as the same soil with no biochar.

So nice of you to cite Mr. Mollison as someone worth quoting as I was unaware of the 890% claim.
~ eric blair

Are you suggesting this as a Mollison quote? Because it appears as a comment from the thread's OP simply underneath some of Mollison's videos. If they are the videos suspected-- which I've already viewed-- it is uncertain whether the term 'biochar' even existed when they were made.

That said, could you kindly let us know where Mollison actually made that specific quote about biochar? I'd actually love to see it. And even any reference to and/or endorsement for biochar in general from Bill. This is also, in part, because Craig Mackintosh, over at Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, has already expressed concerns about biochar, and I'd be surprised if Mollison's opinion would much contrast Craig's.

This is also, in part, because Craig Mackintosh, over at Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, has already expressed concerns about biochar, and I'd be surprised if Mollison's opinion would much contrast Craig's

Oh so it matters what a 'peer' or 'co-worker' of Mr. Mollison says?

How about the "co-originator" (aka peer/coworker of Mr. Mollison) said about the book The Biochar Debate: Charcoal's Potential to Reverse Climate Change and Build Soil Fertility (Schumacher Briefings)

"The buzz of interest and activity around biochar in recent years is accelerating. In this concise but engaging book, James Bruges gets us up to speed with the ecology, economics and politics of biochar. Over three decades of speaking about and teaching permaculture, I have come across very few sustainable 'technologies' that appear to change the rules about how to work with nature. Biochar is one of those few. Could biochar be the simple solution by which we can save civilization from the twin crises of resource depletion and climate catastrophe? This sounds like an absurd claim, but not one that can be easily dismissed. James Bruges steers a course between the hope and the hype."--David Holmgren, co-originator of the Permaculture concept and author of Future Scenarios

What of Mr. Geoff Lawton - ex manager of Mr. Mollison's farm?

The goal: Burn the gasses that are in wood and retain 50% of the carbon. Store that carbon in soil. With an incredibly high surface area biochar works like a coral reef for soil life. One of the worlds leading ecological designers, Geoff Lawton stated that charcoal is “a high density housing commission for soil bacteria… one Tablespoon of dissolved charcoal can have the surface area of ten acres.”

where Mollison actually made that specific quote about biochar? I'd actually love to see it.

So let me get this straight - you want me to spend my time trying to change your closed mind on the topic of BioChar by jumping through a flaming hoop of your own design?

People still reading this thread should consider when presented with what is being done with soil science the response was to attempt to sway the readers is "Monsanto" and the Mollison quote.

eric, perhaps you realize that it may not be Mollison's quote. At the same time, your blockquote associated with, apparently, Geoff Lawton, doesn't seem entirely Lawton's, nor does it outright suggest using 'biochar'. (It might even suggest the opposite, such as if there's a fair bit of relative acreage.)

Empty links, cherry-picks, questionable or misleading quotes, ostensible disingenuousness or lack of followup, and maybe some logical fallacies, etc., like the issues surrounding biochar, are cast in a dubious light and only seem to help highlight my concerns.

As for Shiva, a(/her apparently) more holistic and contextual understanding and/or appreciation of things-- sociology, history, time, physics, politics, etc.-- can help form better pictures beyond one end of a microscope or the walls of a corporation.

your blockquote associated with, apparently, Geoff Lawton, doesn't seem entirely Lawton's, nor does it outright suggest using 'biochar'.

Because you don't like the findings that Char produces small holes and spaces for bacteria to grow thus creating a large surface area (Lawton's quote is about that) and by having a large surface area, that helps the soil microbes to thrive (soil microbes Inghram AND Shiva) you opt to complain about the quotation?

Well then lets have you REALLY complain.
From the September 2010 forward to the book of Albert Bates - The BioChar Solution Dr. Vandana Shiva stated:

I fully endorse [Albert Bates] vision of the world

Do explain how a pro-biochar author like Mr. Bates allowed Dr. Shiva to be the published forward to his book and why the 2008 quoted anti-BioChar Dr. Shiva would consent to write a forward to a book about what she's condemning? Some grand satirical effort? Or did Albert Bates use her known negativity WRT Biochar and used the book to publicly address her 'arguments'? Or has Dr. Shiva decided Biochar is OK and won't walk back from the 2008 public position due to ego issues?

Empty links

So now you are calling me a liar? How low. I posted what was a working link when I viewed it. Or are you claiming that somehow the Internet and its links should never change?

disingenuousness and lack of followup

Lets see what started this whole thread - A post about a scientific paper discussing yields going up with biochar.

Where, exactly did you debunk the original paper and show how the results reached were wrong?

cast in a dubious light

I found it interesting how what you claim are your own words matched the words of someone else.

Plagiarism is usually frowned upon.

But so is offering up 'biochar is bad because it will remove all the forests and create an O2 crisis' because that is what is called a "Straw Man" argument when no one was talking about 'burning all the forests'.

only seem to help highlight my concerns

Then go ahead - show how the scholarly papers mentioned here:
are wrong. (its the same link I posted before that you "cherry picked" to not respond to.)

Oh wait, you've attempted to dismiss SCIENCE! http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/AgathaGirlGenius3_8.jpg with the Mollison link so that way you can claim to address the issue. Like how your below quote tries to be dismissive of science.

As for Shiva, a(/her apparently) more holistic and contextual understanding and/or appreciation of things-- sociology, history, time, physics, politics, etc.-- can help form better pictures beyond one end of a microscope or the walls of a corporation.

Sitting down and showing how a GMOed soil dwelling bacteria could kill the vast portion of the terrestrial plant kingdom by using a microscope just is not worth while? Is that your position in this matter, or am I misunderstanding what your position is?

Hence my err on the side of caution comment.

Look at our thread. Does that look like a clear picture to you? Well not to me.

Too much convolution and doubt for my taste to go jumping willy-nilly into burning and turning things, en masse, into not-all-charcoal-is-created-equally charcoal on an already-heating/charred degraded deforested C02 planet and then mixing it all up into already-degraded soil, as if we all know WTF we're doing.

BTW, Shiva may have backpeddled, at least somewhat, from the endorsement (etc.). LOL

I love the to and fro about a concept, yet I do not see an example where either of you have used biochar and discussed personal results.

I am on a farm that is quasi organic, have been for decades. I have known about and used charcoal, as in the left over from fires, in the garden for many years. Calling it 'biochar' is a nice new sexy, environmental name. The soil that has had the charcoal added over many years continues to improve in depth, friability and facilitates better plant growth. However I still add fertilizer to that soil.

The amount of charcoal added to the soil over these many years is still only enough for the garden around the house, not for the farm as a whole. The amount of energy needed to obtain and add charcoal to the whole farm would be massive. You also do not add a huge amount in one hit, some this year, some next year, a bit more the following year etc.

When you look at the overall picture of what is happening, we are taking a diversity of elements, not just carbon, that are in the wood that is burnt and adding them to the soil in a different area. In the long term robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Perhaps a factory farm/feedlot operations manager might have indignantly told us, upon inquiry, that, after decades of experience, they knew cows, despite, for example, feeding corn or some of their cow-wastes back to the cows, the administered antibiotics, or the crowded and inhumane conditions. Mad cow? Who'd have thought?!

What appear important are things like locality, scale, observation, ethics, caution and thought, etc.. Experience? Sure. But the right kinds.

Taking, ostensibly, a generic or fabricated term like 'biochar', based on some very limited understanding (or a manufactured story) of an extinct local phenomenon or practice, and attempting to push it, apply it-- or what may be mistakenly thought of as 'it'-- globally, industrially, and/or at scale, etc., seems rather suspect, to put it mildly. Others, of course, haven't been so charitable with their choice of words.

Maybe this charcoal works for some in their locale, or they sincerely believe that it does, and that they've done all kinds of scientifically-valid controlled double-blind studies or whatever, etc., but the fact that they are even engaging in it is a source of concern, because of a concern for slippery slopes, "social suggestion/pressure/conformity", peer-pressure, groupthink and the like...

Things that can catch on like wildfire. (but human-borne)

With our 7 billion+ footprint, certain kinds of practices and/or "trendoidisms" seem like less of a luxury these days. We are no longer little tribes, like in the Amazon-- a different kind of place than everywhere else-- that can necessarily afford to tinker like we used to.

Like there's no tomorrow.

If this comment seems a little like overkill, it might help to consider that it comes from a member of an "environmentally-weighty" species that may be in overshoot.

I will also add/ask if I haven't already done so:

- What other, more effective things could we be doing, other than burning organic matter and burying it? Planting more trees, etc., perhaps? Reforestation? Increasing biodiversity? Habitat restoration?
- What are the contexts surrounding combustion/charcoal production? O2 depletion?

"In most industrial applications and in fires, air is the source of oxygen (O2)."
~ Wikipedia

"Dr. Ralph Keeling estimated that about three O2 molecules are lost every time a single CO2 molecule is produced by fossil fuel combustion (Johnston, 2007)...

The Biochar Initiative Could Accelerate Oxygen Decline
The idea is to plant fast growing trees and crops that can be harvested and turned into charcoal and in the process produce crude oil and gases that can be used as low-grade fuels... 'biochar itself is an oxygen sink in the course of degrading in the soil'. In the end, this proposal could be dangerous to humans and animals alike."
~ http://www.climate-emergency-institute.org/ocean_oxy_karen_vt.html

"The news that American businessman Russ George has dumped 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to fertilise algal blooms that absorb carbon dioxide, was received with justified indignation and outrage by campaigners and mainstream scientists...

Very little is known about any of the technologies that we might one day use to seize control of the global thermostat... Even the more familiar ideas – like using biochar to capture CO2 – are unknown entities when operating on a global scale.

But the big questions, for now, have less to do with science and more to do with politics, as the Canadian iron dump illustrates so well. The ingredients of a classic controversy are all there - a wealthy, gung-ho businessman; a misled and powerless local population; an allegedly complicit government and a blanket of secrecy over the whole affair. Research has shown that these are the kinds of issues that people are concerned about."
~ Adam Corner, The Guardian

Not sure if you understood what I was trying to say, I sure didn't get what your reply was.

In a nutshell...Charcoal/biochar improves the soil, however it is just not possible to do on a grand scale. What I do is taking elements from a wide area and concentrating them into a smaller area. The improvement is noticed in the small area, the depletion of elements in the larger area (where the wood came from) will take longer to manifest itself.

Mixing charcoal into soil apparently does not improve all soils in all cases, and may create other problems, such as over the long term. In any case, there are plenty of other things that we can be doing to improve our soil locally/'in the small areas', and improve our planet in general without feeding into this potentially dangerous and unrecoverable burn-everything dynamic.

You and "everybody else" deliberately burning things to make charcoal/low-grade fuels-to-be-burned/etc. on a burning/dying planet with increasing C02 and decreasing 02/species (etc.) of 7+ billion humans is not local anymore per se, not exactly isolated. It's global and large-scale.

Our luxuries appear to be diminishing, even in our own backyards, such as if we all collectively decide to undertake some questionable trends- some of which now appear to lead to the (panicked?) maintenance/survival of industry/BAU/status-quo/civilization vis-a-vis oil depletion and climate change.

You and "everybody else" deliberately burning things to make charcoal/low-grade fuels-to-be-burned/etc. on a burning/dying planet with increasing C02 and decreasing 02/species (etc.) of 7+ billion humans is not local anymore per se, not exactly isolated. It's global and large-scale.

Hey Hide-away did you know that these people are GIVING AWAY how to burn wood to make woodgas and then you can use the woodgas for running an engine?

Build it or Buy it

You can “build-the-GEK-from-scratch” using our FREE open source CAD files. Or, you can make it a little easier on yourself by getting one of our “weld-together” sheet metal kits. Don’t want a fab project? You can also buy the GEK fully fabricatedand ready for final assembly and firing on your end.For more information, see the GEK Basics page.

And if you want to make biochar:

In the meantime... you can be sure that the people running things will campaign strenuously to keep the current set of rackets running. The results will be sad and possibly terrifying. Be brave and seek opportunity in these epochal changes. Modernity has nearly put us out of business. Leave the exhausted enterprise behind and be human for while. Enjoy the time-out from techno-progress that is at hand. It will be something to be grateful for.
~ James Howard Kunstler

Not sure if you understood what I was trying to say, I sure didn't get what your reply was.

Axe grinding has a loud din that buries any actual point to be made.

Note also how the poster doesn't use their own thoughts - just keeps repeating what other say.
Others here on TOD use their own thoughts.

What I do is taking elements from a wide area and concentrating them into a smaller area

That is what composting does along with using animal collectors and placing the dung from their collection efforts into the garden. There exists a 'fringe' group who claims the dark black soil in low-lands is due to the natural collection of animal poop from years gone by and therefore is a 'one time gift'.

Note how Tribe's cited 'appeal to authority' persons are stating composting is what should be done without ever noting what you have - nor noting how I will frame it:

Composting is the result of harvesting photons over a large area and typically from plants Man has went out of Man's way to grow in the top 2 feet of soil, thus the topsoil over the large area becomes depleted.

The re-minerize the earth crowd try to take the sub-soil to the top of the soil without pesky things like leaves from trees taking the subsoil to the top.

the wood that is burnt and adding them to the soil in a different area.

Wood Ash can typically be added at a rate of 2 lbs vs 1 lbs of lime in soil.

Some biochar initiatives are presented as “pro-poor” strategies to improve livelihoods, charcoal-making stoves, for example...

Unfortunately, while charcoal producing cooking stoves reduce soot and particulate emissions, they are considerably less efficient than other ‘clean’ biomass stoves in that a portion of the biomass collected and burned is retained as charcoal, hence unavailable as cooking energy. This means that a family will need to collect 20-30% more wood or ‘residues’ for cooking than they would need for a more efficient stove that does not produce charcoal. Proponents of charcoal-making stoves justify the added demand on the basis that the charcoal can be used as a soil amendment, improving yields and reducing the expense of purchasing fertilizer a claim which, as we have been above, is highly questionable. The IBI is supporting charcoalmaking stove projects in a number of countries, including India and Mongolia. It is however not clear whether local people are presented with a choice between charcoal-making stoves and other more efficient ones.

Another “pro-poor” initiative encourages charcoal production as a means of maintaining soil fertility for farmers on the “forest frontier” where soils are weak and generally cannot support farming for more than a few years at best. Proponents, such as the company Biochar Fund, claim that “slash and char” will enable the enrichment of soils and hence reduce the need for farmers to clear new land. Promoting biochar to small farmers means using them to test a technique that is far from proven. If it fails, farmers will be left with crop failures and debt.

Meanwhile, the more promising ammonium bicarbonate fertilizer will be patented and thus will benefit companies rather than poor farmers. The inclusion of biochar in carbon trade schemes will further reduce benefits to the poor. As Larry Lohmann has shown: “The CDM’s market structure biases it against small community-based projects, which tend not to be able to afford the high transaction costs necessary for each scheme.” In the case of biochar, concerns over air pollutants created during pyrolysis, and introduction of toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to soils will likely indicate mandatory testing before credits are granted, further pricing farmers out of carbon markets...

When large scale energy crops are required, as would certainly be the case if biochar is adopted as a strategy to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, emissions from land use change become very concerning. Clearing of forests or grasslands to make way for energy crop monoculture results in large quantities of emissions, reduces future sink capacity and causes further collapse of ecosystems and the biodiversity on which we depend for climate regulation. As widespread freshwater shortages are predicted, the regulation of rainfall by healthy forests and soils becomes increasingly critical, and the allotment of water for irrigation of energy crops increasingly unsustainable...

Lobbying is underway for a massive scaling up of biochar production, and yet there is little to substantiate the many proclaimed benefits. It is critical that we address this issue with caution, especially given the many dire consequences associated with any technology that involves large biomass demand and manipulation of poorly understood soil ecosystems!
~ Almuth Ernsting and Rachel Smolker

Others here on TOD use their own thoughts. ~ eric blair

I certainly hope so or we're in even more trouble than we already are.

So you do not object to the actual beneficial effects of biochar on plant growth as noted in the original post?

Glad we were able to establish that.

So you do not object to the actual beneficial effects of biochar on plant growth as noted in the original post? ~ eric blair

If only it were that simple.
(As you write things like 'appeal to authority', then something that looks like an appeal-to-consensus-cum-appeal-to-original-thought... [scratches head] Anyway...)

We had the green revolution and now what? We had nuclear power and now what? We had oil and charcoal-burning and now what? ©Blairchar is small potatoes (but they add up).

Scaled up, globalized, industrialized, run over time, misapplied, misinterpreted, reconfigured, etc., and then what?

I'm concerned about that. What's inside that crystal ball. It's a little black, but wipe it off if you can, and take a look, by all means, and feel free to let us know what you think you see. And be honest. If not with us, then with yourself.

Happy 2013.

For a time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was erroneously believed that there were canals on Mars. These were a network of long straight lines in the equatorial regions from 60° N. to 60° S. Lat. on the planet Mars. They were first described by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli during the opposition of 1877, and confirmed by later observers. Schiaparelli called these canali, which was translated into English as "canals". The Irish astronomer Charles E. Burton made some of the earliest drawings of straight-line features on Mars, although his drawings did not match Schiaparelli's. By the early 20th century, improved astronomical observations revealed the "canals" to be an optical illusion, and modern high resolution mapping of the Martian surface by spacecraft shows no such features... Some people went so far as to propose the idea that the canals were irrigation canals built by a supposed intelligent civilization on Mars. Percival Lowell was a strong proponent of this view, pushing the idea much further than Schiaparelli, who for his part considered much of the detail on Lowell's drawings to be imaginary. Some observers drew maps in which dozens if not hundreds of canals were shown with an elaborate nomenclature for all of them. Some observers saw a phenomenon they called "gemination", or doubling - two parallel canals.
~ Wikipedia

Author of 'The Biochar Solution' Says 'It's Not a Solution'

Al Gore: I Was Wrong About Ethanol

That's ok, guys, we love you anyway. ;)

I love the to and fro about a concept

Thank you for the feedback.

biochar and discussed personal results

I should have more of that over the next few years. I'm using it on "sand" in what is potato country and where my Granddad 'planted potatoes and was the only venture he lost money'. This land has not "darkness" in the topsoil 'cept in the spots where no plow touched the land. This land also "grows" oil sunflowers to the height of 1.5 foot high and has Eisenhower dollar sized flowerheads.

The land in an easement to the railroad has 'dark' soil in the 1st cm and becomes sand like everything else less than 7 inches lower.

I've added 1/4 a ton of biochar to the soil I have control over - so I'm trying to 'practice' what I preach.

However I still add fertilizer to that soil.

And if one actually reads the what has been presented - biochar and 'fertilizer' is used together.

Water retention and the ability of Charcoal to "hold" some of the various parts of 'fertilizer' is why you are seeing an improvement. Also remember that ash from a wood fire is 2X the application rate for lime if you nned to lime the soil.

"Resources (R) are naturally occurring factors in the environment which can be exploited by a particular society, but have not yet been extracted and
incorporated into the society’s flows of energy and material. Resources include material resources such as... naturally occurring soil fertility that has not yet been exhausted by the society’s agricultural methods... The most widely accepted model of the Maya collapse holds on demographic and paleoecological evidence that Maya populations grew to a level that could not be indefinitely supported by Mayan agricultural practices... In terms of the present model, the key resource of soil fertility was used at a rate exceeding its replenishment rate, and suffered severe depletion as a result...
~ John Michael Greer: 'How Civilizations Fail: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse'

"Easter Island, with an area of only 64 square miles, is the world's most isolated scrap of habitable land... Its subtropical location and... its volcanic origins make its soil fertile. In theory, this combination of blessings should have made Easter a miniature paradise, remote from problems that beset the rest of the world.

The island derives its name from its 'discovery' by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, on Easter (April 5) in 1722. Roggeveen's first impression was not of a paradise but of a wasteland: 'We originally, from a further distance, have considered the said Easter Island as sandy; the reason for that is this, that we counted as sand the withered grass, hay, or other scorched and burnt vegetation, because its wasted appearance could give no other impression than of a singular poverty and barrenness.'."
~ Jared Diamond, 'Easter Island's End'

...biochar and 'fertilizer' is used together... ~ eric blair

Biochar Potential or Pitfall? Carbon Storage vs Soil Quality

"Comment 1: 'Biochar could be used instead of lime to buffer acids formed during composting.'
WoodsEndLaboratory responds: 'Waat[sic] is the evidence that biochar is a buffer? The high pH from potash might temporarily neutralize organic acids, but they go away on their own anyhow.'

Comment 2: 'Compost and biochar don't have to be seen and used separatly. If you use biochar alone, no effect on crop will be observable (except at long term maybe, because of the enhance of microorganisms activity). It need nutrients. then the compost will bring nutrients and microorganism. The nutrients will be fixed and slowly released, and the microorganisms will reproduce in the pores.'

WoodsEndLaboratory: 'Many people report better results when adding compost to biochar- probably due to composts' very positive influences masking or ameliorating the harsh negative effects of the charcoal... Factorial studies conducted by unbiased parties would have to be performed to determine if there is really any synergistic effect.'

Comment 3: 'So, char will improve acid soils, but will have adverse effects on neutral or basic soils. Is this correct?'
WoodsEndLaboratory: 'Yes- we think biochar functions as a strong cationic fertilizer (Ca, Mg, K) which will undoubtedly improve highly depleted soils but may be deleterious in under circumstances where flooding the CEC sites with more cations is obviously not desirable or agronomicaly responsible.' "

Today we have more soil scientists than at any other time in history. If you plot the rise of soil scientists against the loss of soil, you see that the more of them you have, the more soil you lose.

Now that I think about it, if we substitute lawyers, for soil scientists, we pretty much get the same end result.
Heck just look at China, today there are more Chinese lawyers than at any time in history and they have never had as much soil loss in the past as they are having now... Q.E.D.!

Are you finding the links at all useful or even influencing your position on the matter?

The chemists here might find this better redox analysis of the chemistry of the "dead" Carbon:

How about a link that discusses what some industries might be thinking/talking about in the face of climate change and diminishing oil stocks. Maybe like a fly on the wall in some boardroom meeting...

Head 1: "Ok, guys, thanks for coming... Today's topic; climate change and energy! Again!"

(boardroom laughs)

Head 2: "What came out of the climate conference, by the way?"

Head 1: "Oh... Well, they're stalling, but-- you know-- the arctic, Sandy and everything."

Head 3: "Back to coal... 7 billion... wow..."

Head 1: "Ya, I know... but how's Ed's account?"

Head 3: "Operation Slash-and-Char?"

Head 1: "Haha, yes. The Soot Suit."

Head 3: "It looks pretty good, actually... Amazon story, check; Guerrilla marketing, check; Need-creation, in-progress... Muzzled scientist-dissenters/doctored research... We're working on it!"

Head 1: "Hahahaaa.... Great! And the greenies/permies?"

Head 3: "Growing!"

(boardroom laughter)

Head 2: "Greenwash this!

(boardroom laughs)...

Head 1: "Ahh you know... I remember the old nuke days... It was so much easier-- energy on top; weapons on the bottom; waste? What's that? Ha... Anyway, if we can get all that stuff in the ground, most on-board, and people buying the crap... let the next gen worry about it... Head 3? How're your babies?"

Head 3: "5 ecov's so far... free WWOOFers... It's great. Some problems with the locals, but still, beats the manure out of the time-shares."...

"No grand vested interests, just a whole lot of little personal conspiracies along the way..."
~ Anon

...The [biochar lobby] push for commercial scale biochar production continues to focus largely on securing funding to scale up production and securing carbon offsets, [etc.] ...These groups are comprised of academic researchers, business entrepreneurs, consultancies, bioenergy interests and a host of other “enthusiasts.” They promote a range of biochar applications - from biochar for backyard gardening, to pyrolysis cook stoves or “slash and char” as a replacement for traditional “slash and burn” (swidden) practices, to global scale deployment for climate geoengineering. All have in common the need for public and private finance and supports to ramp up production.
~ www.biofuelwatch.org.uk

I imagine there were and are a lot of academic researchers that go into the development of nuclear power, disaster damage-control PR/spin, genetically modified organisms, oil production, factory farming, military industrial complexes, sociopsychological control methods, and biochar.

What would we do without lawyers. ;P

What would we do without lawyers.

Your honor
Objection: Council is attempting to enter into the record facts not in evidence.

Council is claiming that a "[biochar lobby]" exists when no such fact by sworn affidavit or previous Court decision exists in the record to establish such a fact.

I now move the court to strike Council's claim from the record.

"Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government."
~ Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Water Footprint Could Tip Scale for Sustainable, Emission-Reducing Energy Options

Green energy won't be sustainable if it uses too much blue. Low-carbon energy options that increase water consumption could be swapping one problem for another.

"In discussions about climate change, various solutions are often presented as equal, but they all have a very different type of impact," ... Their analysis revealed that some options are thirstier than others.

One of the biggest opportunities for water savings is replacing coal-fired power with plants that run on natural gas. "Gas turbines just tend to be more efficient relative to the amount of fuel burnt," said Sehlke. "You get more heat for less water."

Other big water savers included replacing coal plants with wind and solar power (with batteries or natural gas as a backup), reducing demand and increasing both generating and usage efficiency. In fact, increasing the generating efficiency at coal plants could potentially save more water than reducing vehicle use.

The biggest water impact stems from an option many consider the greenest: bioenergy crops.

"What really surprised me was the huge added water cost for biocrops grown specifically to make biofuels—that blew my mind," Cooper said.

Natural gas combined cycle plants are more efficient than coal fired power plants. A 3 gigawatt power plant uses about 20 billion gallons of evaporated cooling water in its towers each year.

Most of the salt to fresh water comes from multistage evaporator/condensers in power plant cooling sections. This is a Combined Heat and Power use for waste heat, purifying treated and/or sea water for people, livestock and crops.

Entrepreneur receives funding for 'tornado' power generator

Michaud's idea is to use a fan to blow some of the excess heat produced by conventional power plants, into a cylindrical hollow tower, at an angle. Doing so should create a circular air current, which he says will grow stronger as it moves higher. The higher it goes the more energy it draws due to differences in temperature. The result would be a controlled man-made tornado. To put it to good user, turbines would be installed at the base of the vortex to create electricity.

Michaud notes on his site, a real-world tower would be about 25 meters in diameter, and would be capable of producing up to 200 megawatts of power using only the excess heat generated by a conventional 500 megawatt plant. Power goes up geometrically, he says, as the size of tower grows. He adds that the cost of producing electricity this way would be about 3 cents per kilowatt hour, well below the typical 4 or 5 cents for coal plants.

and Power a City with Tornados? Latest Grants Announced by Thiel Foundation's Breakout Labs Includes an Unusual Twist

Atmospheric Vortex Engine

The original idea was to use solar heating of air near the ground -presumably something like large area greenhouses to generate the hot air. A solar chimney, then uses the density difference of the air in the chimney versus outside, to generate lift/ updraft. This can be tapped to turn for example wind turbines. The potential Carnot efficiency is proportional to the height of the solar chimney, but decent efficiency demands chimney heights of kilometers! The vortex idea, is the "tornado" acts somewhat like a vertical extension of the chimney.
It is a cools idea. I'd love to hear of a large scale experiment. I doubt, even if it works, that people would allow them in their backyards, fear of the tornado breaking loose.....

In Iraq, Exxon Oil Deal Foments Talk of Civil War

BAGHDAD — With their opposing armies massed on either side of the contested border dividing southern and northern Iraq, leaders in Baghdad and the semiautonomous Kurdistan region are warning they are close to civil war — one that could be triggered by Exxon Mobil.

The prime minister has been clear: If Exxon lays a finger on this territory, they will face the Iraqi army,” said Sami Alaskary, a member of parliament and close confidant of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. “We don’t want war, but we will go to war, for oil and for Iraqi sovereignty.”

Dead or Alive?

Iraqi authorities deny President Talabani death report

Iraqi authorities have denied media reports that President Jalal Talabani has died after suffering a stroke.

Some media reports said on Tuesday that the 79-year-old president died at a Baghdad hospital after as a result of stroke.

Government sources, however, say he is now in "critical but stable condition" and that he is being treated in an intensive care unit. There are also unconfirmed reports suggesting that Talabani is now in coma.

"Bodily functions are normal and the health condition of His Excellency the President is stable," a statement posted on the Iraq Presidency's website said, adding that the emergency was due to hardening of arteries.

Bodily functions are normal and the health condition of His Excellency the President is stable

Why does that read instead like this:
Bodily functions are normal for someone in his state and the health condition of His Excellency the President is stable for his state.

adding that the emergency was due to hardening of arteries.

Best I can tell, the arteries can be like schedule 40 pipe, it is not a problem 'till they burst.

(I'm trying to figure out what can be done to 'soften' the arteries and if one can tell how such a process is coming along via observation of blood vessels in the eyes.)

I'm trying to figure out what can be done to 'soften' the arteries

My wife and I became all too familiar with this question a while back when my wife suddenly went blind in one eye due to plack coming loose and blocking blood flow to the eye. They should have discussed with us having a TPA (blood thinner) applied, but it was only something we discovered later.

A cardiologist recommended stents and the possibility of a pace maker. Instead she went on a strick vegan diet, no dairy or meat and in her case no wheat because of an allergy causing high tryglicerides. With the changed diet her blood pressure slowly descended and per a scan her arteries near her heart began to clear of plack.

What happens is saturated fat damages the interior walls of the vascular system, the endophelium (not sure about that spelling). In other words you can soften the arteries with the right diet. The body responds well to plant based foods.

I went on the same diet and lost all my extra weight, 40 lbs. I particularly like hickory smoked 'Tofurky', a tofu product that is quite tasty in a sandwich with avocado, wax peppers, red onions, and romaine lettuce. I use best foods low fat mayo with only 1 gram of plant based fat per serving. Bland mayo but add some Beaver sweet-hot mustard and it tastes great. Oh, and my blood pressure came down from 135/95 to 118/85.

I went on the same diet and lost all my extra weight, 40 lbs. I particularly like hickory smoked 'Tofurky', a tofu product that is quite tasty in a sandwich with avocado, wax peppers, red onions, and romaine lettuce. I use best foods low fat mayo with only 1 gram of plant based fat per serving. Bland mayo but add some Beaver sweet-hot mustard and it tastes great. Oh, and my blood pressure came down from 135/95 to 118/85.

Wow. Same diet, almost the same results. Lost 20 lbs but need to lose more (might be my love of bread. WW is dense calories). BP was already low. LDL cholesterol plummeted (now@76) as did triglycerides (now@122). Doctor reduced dose in steps and then took me off statins altogether. Need more exercise to get HDL up (now@44). Figure an energy descent will get me walking to work.

No mayo, prefer our homemade honey mustard. Tofurky is fine, but nothing beats tempeh. We have a small local food business that ferments it here in town (along with “lactic acid fermented” cabbage, etc).

I sliced the tempeh thin, spiced and grilled it right, and my TLT beat out BLTs in a double blind* taste test with the neighbors last July 4th. They didn't believe it (probably most folks here won't either. LOL)

    * I did the cooking at home. Neighbor friend did the bacon. Someone else assembled sandwiches. Someone else served it up. Even I couldn’t tell which was which by sight. Tasters were blindfolded. Neighborhood teenage boys oversaw whole shebang. It was a hoot. Rematch next summer.

Interesting taste test and amazing results! I tried a Tempeh product, I think it was the bacon flavored and couldn't handle the taste. But maybe I'll try slicing it thinner, grilling etc. like you do and give it another try. Homemade honey mustard sounds good - got a recipe? Maybe it'll help me get off the mayo. Part of the fun of being vegan is the creative cooking.

Wish we had only one recipe. Food is a constant experiment. Here's what's current:

    1/3 Cup - Honey (for some this makes it non-Vegan. Not a problem for us)
    4 Tbsp - Brown mustard (stone ground, spicy, otherwise any kind will do. Can add more)
    1 Tbsp - Apple cider vinegar
    1 Tbsp - Lemon juice
    1/2 tsp - Salt
    1/4 cup - EV olive oil (can add a bit more, but makes it thinner)
    1 clove garlic (this is the magic. We belong to a garlic CSA. Make batches with different varieties)

Blend up, add oil slowly at end.

We sometimes add some soft tofu in place of some of the oil to thicken it up (but not everyone like that. At least when we tell them. So we don't).

On tempeh. We've turned sour on store-bought varieties; they all seem to fake a meat. What's the point. A thing is what it is, not something else. Prefer the bulk stuff that we slice and spice depending on effect we're trying to create.

A low energy aspect of tempeh is that they need only partial cooking, then the soybeans are fermented close to room temperature (~86 degrees, at least room temperature in parts of Indonesia).

Study Shows Yields Have Plateaued or Dropped In Many Places for World's Most Important Crops

The Green Revolution has stagnated for key food crops in many regions of the world, according to a study published in the Dec. 18 issue of Nature Communications by scientists with the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment and McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Led by IonE research fellow Deepak Ray, the study team developed geographically detailed maps of annual crop harvested areas and yields of maize (corn), rice, wheat and soybeans from 1961 to 2008. It found that although virtually all regions showed a yield increase sometime during that period, in 24 to 39 percent of the harvested areas (depending on the crop) yield plateaued or outright declined in recent years. Among the top crop-producing nations, vast areas of two of the most populous – China and India – are witnessing especially concerning stagnation or decline in yield.

Interestingly, the researchers found that yields of wheat and rice – two crops that are largely used as food crops, and which supply roughly half of the world's dietary calories – are declining across a higher percentage of cropland than those of corn and soybean, which are used largely to produce meat or biofuels.

"This finding is particularly troubling because it suggests that we have preferentially focused our crop improvement efforts on feeding animals and cars, as we have largely ignored investments in wheat and rice, crops that feed people and are the basis of food security in much of the world," ... "How can we meet the growing needs of feeding people in the future if one-third of our cropland areas, in our most important crops, are not improving in yield any more?"

related http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v3/n12/full/ncomms2296.html

also ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/012/ak971e/ak971e00.pdf

Award-Winning A/C Uses Old Idea, New Materials

Air conditioning currently accounts for 15% of all electricity use in the United States, and can be as much as 70% of use during hot summer days. DEVAP's first iteration will be for the commercial market; later, it is expected to enter the residential realm.

... There is no need for environmentally damaging working fluids such as the chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or hydrofluorocarbons used in vapor compression systems. The working fluids in DEVAP are environmentally benign: water and a strong salt solution for the desiccant. DEVAP allows independent control of temperature and humidity, something that is not possible with conventional A/C unless an expensive overcooling and reheating process is employed. There is no need for a compressor or large amounts of expensive copper coils. DEVAP contains fewer moving parts in the form of simple low-pressure pumps and fans. Vapor compression A/C has been incrementally improved for over 100 years, so there are few low-cost energy improvements left for that technology. As efficient as DEVAP already is, there is lots of "thermodynamic room" for cost-effective efficiency improvements.

We have lift-off....

Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development gets green light

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Official approval in Newfoundland and Labrador has pushed the Muskrat Falls hydro megaproject from an idea three decades in the planning toward a $7.7-billion venture billed as Canada’s new energy warehouse.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale sanctioned the development late Monday with full ceremony and a choir in the lobby of the St. John’s legislature as Nova Scotia private utility Emera simultaneously approved it.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/266235-muskrat-falls-hydroelectric-d...

And my standard pet peeve....

Muskrat Falls would be capable of generating up to 824 megawatt hours of electricity, 170 megawatt hours of which would go to Nova Scotia annually for 35 years. That would serve about 10 per cent of the province’s power needs.

[It would be nice if reporters could recognize that megawatts and megawatt hours are not one and the same -- I've reported the error and hopefully it will be corrected.]

Large-scale hydro-electric projects extract their toll on our environment and I don't want to in any way discount the harm they cause. Nonetheless, I'm excited about this project because it will eliminate a considerable amount of oil-fired generation in Newfoundland and Labrador (the 490 MW Holyrood TGS) and a significant share of coal-fired generation in this province. But beyond that, it will allow us to increase the amount of wind energy that we can add to our respective networks well beyond what would be achievable otherwise.