Drumbeat: December 29, 2012

U.S. Oil Imports Fall to Lowest Level Since 2000

U.S. crude imports fell 9.2% in October from a year earlier to 8.091 million barrels a day, the lowest amount of imported crude since January 2000, according to U.S. Department of Energy data released Friday.

The data are the latest illustration of how the drilling boom in North Dakota and other states is remaking the U.S. energy picture.

The year-over-year drop of 816,000 barrels a day was the eighth straight decline from year-earlier levels.

Saudi Arabia Boosts 2013 Spending in Record Budget: State TV

Saudi Arabia boosted its 2013 expenditure target to 820 billion riyals ($219 billion) as the world’s biggest oil exporter pushes ahead with expansion plans diversify the economy away from oil, state television reported.

...King Abdullah pledged more than $500 billion on social welfare and to build projects to ensure that the country remains unscathed by the kind of political unrest that swept through other Arab countries last year. He is using oil money to fight high unemployment -- about a quarter of Saudis between 20 and 30 don’t have jobs -- and to build schools and hospitals.

Oil Slips as Gasoline Supplies Surge

Oil slipped as gasoline supplies climbed to a nine-month high on weaker demand and President Barack Obama sought an up-or-down vote on his proposal to extend tax cuts to avert a fiscal crisis.

Prices fell after the government said gasoline stockpiles rose to 223.1 million barrels last week and distillate inventories gained. Obama met with congressional leaders today and asked for an interim plan to prevent more than $600 billion in automatic tax increases and spending reductions set to begin in January, an official familiar with the talks said.

Oil Rigs Decline in U.S., Paring 10th Annual Advance

Oil rigs in the U.S. dropped for the sixth week in a row, paring a 10th straight annual gain.

Iraq Star Rises in OPEC as Embargo Hurts Iran

Iraq jumped two places to No. 2 in OPEC’s rankings this year, cementing its position among the world’s leading oil producers. Neighboring Iran dropped three spots to fifth as international sanctions took hold.

Second only to Saudi Arabia within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Iraq’s output rose by 24 percent this year as the BP Plc-led Rumaila field increased supply. Iranian production shrank by the same percentage to the lowest level since 1988, data compiled by Bloomberg show, and its exports will continue to drop into 2013, according to the International Energy Agency.

Din of hammers, oil wells signal Bakersfield boom

Much of the boom Bakersfield is enjoying is because high oil prices and new technology for extraction have revived the $10 billion industry that seemed dried up 25 years ago when Kern County set out to diversity its economy and expand its tax base. Some estimates place up to 80 percent of California's oil under Kern County soil, with an estimated 12 billion barrels trapped in shale, the largest deposit of any county in the nation. Today's $100-a-barrell prices have inspired the innovation needed to extract it.

Chevron is expanding its offices, and other oil companies and related industries are eying land for development.

Myanmar Muslims recall Buddhist assault

Kyaukphyu was significant because those expelled from there included another Muslim minority, the Kaman, whose right to citizenship is recognized. That they too were targeted raises fears the conflict is spreading to Myanmar's wider 4 percent Muslim minority.

For Myanmar, also called Burma, the town symbolizes the country's hopes of scoring a piece of the Asian economic surge. China is building a deep-water port and an oil pipeline terminal there.

"We never thought this could happen to us," said Kyaw Thein, a 48-year-old Kaman who fled Kyaukphyu and is now a refugee in the island village of Sin Thet Maw.

The 2013 Outlook For BP

BP's determination to have a substantial and long-term interest in Russia remains a fairly high-risk strategy, but climbing out of bed with the oligarchs of TNK-BP and into bed with the Russian state looks like the lesser of two evils.

An even bigger issue for BP going into 2012 was, of course, the continuing legacy of the Deepwater Horizon disaster of spring 2010. Here again, some of the uncertainty has now been removed.

Too Many Oil Bargains: Which Is The Best Bet For Now?

Thus, while the other oil majors are also selling at cheap valuations and attractive dividend yields, the case is a little stronger for Shell on many parameters. If an investor has a highly diversified portfolio of up to fifty stocks, they may consider buying all five companies discussed in the article. Except for Shell, all stocks are well undervalued and worthy of investor attention. However, if the investor has fewer of stocks, Exxon would be our pick from the five companies. The recent shale field acquisitions by Exxon might be the catalyst for unlocking this value over the next decade.

Crew of drill ship in Gulf of Alaska to evacuate

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- The Coast Guard prepared Saturday to evacuate an 18-member crew of a Shell drill ship that was stalled in rough Gulf of Alaska waters, south of Kodiak Island.

The Coast Guard requested that the crew evacuate the Kulluk for safety reasons. The guard said it would have no more details until the evacuation was completed.

A Coal Sales Ticker Next to a ‘Clean Energy’ Claim?

Just to the right of a ticker-style, real-time tally of tons of coal sold (about eight tons per second or so) is the message that the company is the “global leader in clean energy solutions…”

Kerry's climate change credentials

Kerry is among the most forward-thinking members of the U.S. Senate when it comes to understanding both the threats of and the practical responses to global warming. He's struggled to bring along the Senate, which rejected his attempt to win passage of a cap-and-trade bill in 2010, but Kerry's new post should give him expanded opportunities to lead.

State building changes ordered to avert flood damage

Declaring that Maryland's coastal areas are increasingly at risk from a rising sea level, Gov. Martin O'Malley has ordered state agencies to weigh the growing risks of flooding in deciding where and how to construct state buildings.

"Billions of dollars of investments in public infrastructure will be threatened if the state of Maryland fails to prepare adequately for climate change," he said in Friday's executive order, which calls for avoiding low-lying sites and elevating new or reconstructed state buildings to avert flooding.

New maps reflect greater flood threat

Several times a day lately, Sussex County official Jeff Shockley finds himself plunging into the fine points of flood plains, prompted by calls from residents anxious about big storms and bigger insurance bills.

“There’s been much more interest in the past couple of years, and I think that it’s due to the storms that have hit and missed all around us,” Shockley said. “I get several calls a day from homeowners wanting to know if their property is close to a flood plain, how close they are to a body of water.”

Gas fired power stations for NSW and Victoria placed on hold as demand slumps

EnergyAustralia has announced shelving plans for construction of a 1000MW gas fired power station in the Latrobe Valley at it's Yallourn site saying that low wholesale energy prices and reduced electricity demand did not make the project viable. EnergyAustralia is a division of Hong Kong-based utility CLP Holdings Ltd.

EnergyAustralia's group executive manager, energy markets, Mark Collette, as reported in the Age, said that suppressed wholesale electricity prices and continued falling demand for energy had led to the decision. Proliferation of rooftop solar panels and energy-saving efforts by households and business were also contributing to reduced energy demand.


According to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), two coal fired power stations have been retired in the last 12 months: the 420MW Swanbank B power Station (SE Qld) in May 2012 and the Northern Queensland based Collinsville 192MW coal fired power station in December. Two wind farm projects are due to start producing electricity in the next year: the 420MW Macarthur wind farm (Victoria) sometime during this summer and the 168MW Musselroe wind farm (Tas) during inter 2013.

See: http://indymedia.org.au/2012/12/28/gas-fired-power-stations-for-nsw-and-...

Closer to home, Nova Scotia Power has announced that two coal-fired units that are currently in seasonal shut-down will close permanently; one in 2015 and the other in 2019. As in the case of Australia, falling electricity demand and a concerted push towards renewables (for the most part, wind), has led to their early retirement.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/319559-nsp-to-retire-two-coal-fire...


I read that as well. So, that leaves just Ontario and New Brunswick, and I suspect once the newly refurbished Point Lepreau comes to the end of its second life only Ontario will remain. For all intents and purposes, CANDU is dead.

This is where we need to be focusing our efforts:

Castle Square Apartments achieves LEED for Homes Multifamily Platinum Certification

Located on Tremont St., in the city's South End and constructed in the 1960s, Castle Square Apartments is a 540,000 s/f mixed-use property comprised of 500 affordable apartment units and 20,000 s/f of retail space. LEED Platinum certification was awarded upon completion of the two-year renovation.

A deep energy retrofit is defined as a renovation with energy savings greater than 50%. The deep energy retrofit completed at Castle Square differs from standard energy efficiency renovations due to the insulation, which at Castle Square is located on the outside of the building. The new five-inch super insulated shell, combined with an insulated reflective roof, high efficiency windows and extensive air sealing, has increased the insulation value of the building by a factor of ten. Additional energy savings were achieved using small high efficiency cooling and heating equipment, LED and CFL lighting, Energy Star appliances and solar hot water. As a result, Castle Square Apartments is modeled to reach a 72% reduction in energy usage.

See: http://nerej.com/59864

Additional detail can be found at: http://www.castledeepenergy.com/


The architects appear to have watched Dr. Joe Lstiburek's video as posted in a previous Drumbeat ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkfAcWpOYAA ). The walls have been designed with control layers for water, air, insulation etc according to his principles. Given the impressive energy savings, it is clear this stuff works.


Million Dollar Tax Windfall
In the United States, wind powered electricity producers receive a subsidy of 2.2 cents on each kWh sent to the grid. During the ten years this "tax credit" is in effect each turbine will generate a million dollars via this credit. Add the income from the energy sold and depreciation allowance....

All over the country, developers are in a sprint to get new wind farms up and running before Tuesday, when the federal wind production tax credit will disappear like Cinderella’s ball gown. After that, the nation’s wind-farm building will be at a virtual standstill.

The stakes of meeting the deadline are enormous. Wind turbines that are connected to the grid and in commercial service before midnight on New Year’s Eve are entitled to a 2.2 cent tax credit for each kilowatt-hour they generate in their first 10 years, which comes out to about $1 million for a big turbine. As it stands now, those that enter service on Jan. 1 or later are out of luck.

From the NYTimes:https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/28/science/earth/wind-farm-developers-race-against-end-of-tax-credit.html?_r=2&

The reasons given for the non-replacement of coal baseload stations by gas fired omit a huge factor ...fear of gas price escalation. South eastern Australia has maybe only a decade of cheap conventional gas left and fracking of prime farmland to increase supply is not going to go well.

The coal stations to be closed were small and decrepit. The big dirty stations such as the 1600 MW Hazelwood that spews 14 million tonnes of CO2 every year aren't going anyplace. The defacto policy that is emerging is that subsidised wind is being overbuilt with load balancing by already built high carbon coal and open cycle gas plant. This is not cheap and not low carbon. No wonder Australian power prices have doubled in 5 years while emissions have flatlined.

My take is simply this: rapidly rising electricity prices + conservation and energy efficiency + customer owned generation are all conspiring to reduce utility sales. For years, we've seen a tremendous growth in electricity consumption, certainly here in North America, but now I believe we could be on the verge of a major contraction.


Re: U.S. Oil Imports Fall to Lowest Level Since 2000 (uptop)

Curiously, no mention of the 2.0 mbpd decline in US consumption from 2005 to 2011 (from 20.8 mbpd to 18.8 mbpd, BP, total liquids), as global (Brent) crude oil prices doubled from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011. And based on the WTI crack spread, US consumers are almost fully exposed to global crude oil prices.

A more accurate headline would be: "Despite rising US crude oil production, US consumers continue to be forced to reduce their oil consumption, due to high global crude oil prices."

Related, available via Google: Nymex Oil Glut Hits New Record

U.S. oil inventories shrank far less than analysts had expected, but the glut at the Cushing, Okla., hub continued to grow, setting a new record, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The surprises prompted a retreat in U.S. crude-oil futures, erasing the February contract's early gains. Futures for February delivery settled down seven cents at $90.80 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on a day of light trading.

Separately, U.S. crude imports fell 9.2% in October from a year earlier to 8.091 million barrels a day, the lowest amount of imported crude since January 2000, according to DOE data. The data are the latest illustration of how the drilling boom in North Dakota and other states is remaking the U.S. energy picture....

...Inventories of petroleum products also increased more than expected. Gasoline stockpiles rose by 3.8 million barrels to 223.1 million barrels, compared with a build of 400,000 barrels forecast in a Dow Jones Newswires survey of analysts.

The buildup of gasoline in storage indicates weak demand for the fuel. Mr. Kilduff said this was surprising, given it was the week before Christmas.

"Despite a pretty low price point at the pump, we're not seeing good demand," he said.

Ghung - ""Despite a pretty low price point at the pump, we're not seeing good demand". I wonder if this follows the thought that the definition of demand is that which the customer can affored and not what they want. The price isn't "low" if it busts your budget...it's high. In that sense demand isn't weak. Demand is exactly what it should be: the volume of fuel the customers can afford to buy. Not a gallon more or less. And I think many are starting to understand that supply will always equal demand as higher prices will reduce the number of customers to those who can afford to purchase what is available.

I can afford to buy a lot more gas but choose not to. Also, I get much better gas mileage than I did 7 years ago when I bought my Prius. How do I fit into your definition? Demand is simply demand and I don't think one should assume that it is simply a function of what people can afford although obviously that is a big factor. I still think that demand is a horribly misleading word and should be stricken from the vocabulary when talking about what is consumed, regardless of the underlying causes.

Also, the demand for gas tends to be highly inelastic. Raise the price and those who use gas primarily to get to work will pay the price and do very little to reduce their "demand", er, consumption. Lower the price and they will not significantly increase their consumption.

ts - You fit the definition perfectly. As you point out you've reduced your energy budget significantly. You are well supplied because you can afford to buy what you need. Demand is not a function of price? Even at your reduced consumption what if you couldn't afford to buy half of what you require to maintain yourself? Obviously you would only buy half of your needs...IOW your demand is fully met. Again your demand is what you can afford and not what you need (granted the definition I choose).

So let’s assume the govt puts price control in place on gasoline that allows you to purchase all you need at a price you can afford. But how would you define yourself when the day comes you pull up to the pump with enough bucks in your pocket for a full tank but the pump is empty? Obviously in this case supply is not meeting demand...that which you can afford to buy…if there were some to buy. Likewise if the price of oil was forced by govt mandate to stay fixed at $30/bbl the producers could not meet demand: there would be more purchases then available production even if production never declined. How would such oil be distributed under such conditions…ration cards? How would you would define the dynamic when you can afford to buy all need at a price you can afford but the govt won’t allow you to do so? Is that a balanced supply/demand condition?

BTW I agree with you about the word “demand”. That’s why I prefer to set its definition as I did. I’m not much of a wordsmith: what would be a better term to define the concept? Anyone….


Ghung - I was thinking something like "utilization". But as was just pointed out it's a dynamic phenomenon in which price is a key component. In that sense it doesn't seem to matter what tag we put on it as long as the relationship between price and demand/utilization/whatever is understood.

And just to make it more convoluted what does "supply" represent? Is it how much a supplier can deliver or how much they are willing to supply at a certain price. Apple could offer more Macs for sale then they do presently. But assuming they have satisfied the market that is willing to pay $X for their computer they would have to sell the additional inventory at a lower price. But at one point do they have to offer their computer for less than their cost? Or more realistic at one point is the margin insufficient?

Let's assume the KSA could today supply the world with an extra 4 million bopd. But obviously they would have to lower prices since their current delivered volume to the market satisfies current demand (the amount current buyers can afford). So what would the supply side of the equation be re: the KSA? Is it what they are delivering at current prices or what they could deliver if they lower their price? Like demand "supply" isn't a number but a dynamic relationship between capability and pricing.

So again it begs the question IMHO: what do folks mean when the say supply and demand is in balance? Or if they claim they are not imbalance? Economist toss those concepts around a good bit but what are they really trying to convey? More important do they know what they are trying to convey?

Economist look at demand (and supply) as a function rather than a point. In other words, at a price of X the demand for the good will by Y and at a price of 2X the demand will be 3/5 Y (for example).
Demand and supply without the context of price are quite meaningless.

I did not say that demand was not a function of price; I said it was significant but not the only factor. My decision to lower my consumption had nothing to do with price and none of the changes in price in the last ten years has had anything to do with my level of consumption. No doubt aggregate behavior is different than my and some other's behavior, but nevertheless I think that consumption is driven by many factors, price just being one.

Certainly, if the price of gas got high enough, I would cut back. However, within a very wide range of prices, my demand curve is flat.

Supply and demand are balance at equilibrium in economic terms. However, it is not clear whether we ever actually reach perfect equilibrium. If it exists, it probably exists for a nanosecond and the proceeds to be out of balance again.

The other complicating factor is that demand curves change over time. Many people adjust to price changes over time. What initially seems like a shocking price which may actually decrease consumption later becomes the new normal which people adjust to. This is why I tend to favor cap and trade vs. taxes because consumption is so inelastic.

What I find infuriating is when "demand" is simply projected on a trend line and, voila, we must increase oil, coal, gas, whatever to meet that demand. It stipulated that way to give us the impression that we have no other choice than to simply increase all these things without any regard to their impact on the biosphere.

No doubt I will not consume more than I can afford. However, to use the word demand to describe this is the source of what I find confusing. However, I do consume much less than I can afford now and, therefore, price may not be a very useful tool in projecting consumption. Price is probably more useful on the supply side of the equation simply because suppliers must cover their costs. Even then, however, in the short run, they often only cover their variable, not total costs.

ts – “I do consume much less than I can afford now and, therefore, price may not be a very useful tool in projecting consumption.” That sounds reasonable when you put it in the context of an individual. But does it work on an economy level? You might not purchase more energy if prices were lower and you could afford the extra consumption. But is that how the US economy would respond to lower prices? IOW there’s a component of economy that would purchase more energy if prices were to decline. IOW demand would increase. Can you offer an example of what factor(s) that would change consumption levels if not based upon price? I can see govt policies such as banning coal mining…no coal for sale then there’s no demand. An embargo by an exporter like the KSA would decrease supplies. But that would also cause a price increase which would bring “demand” down if you buy my definition. Ration cards could be a non-price factor that throws supply/demand out of balance but those events fall outside the free market model.

And as I just asked Ghung: what do balanced and unbalanced supply/demand conditions really mean? We see the term used often but I honestly can’t tell you what folks mean.

When they talk about price they mean the "market-clearing" price, i.e. the price at which everything sells and every customer goes away satisfied. When supply and demand are unbalanced there are two possibilities:

- If the price is too high, unsold stocks accumulate.

- If the price is too low, queues of buyers form.

Thanks for the reply aardi. So if the price is too high the market is not receiving all the product that could be delivered. Assuming the KSA et al really do have long term excess production capacity now that would indicate an unbalanced market. That term seems to have a negative vib. But not a negative situation for the producers: they are generating a desired income while maintaining their target price. Not negative for those buyers capable of meeting the target price. As you imply if prices were significantly lower not all buyers could make their purchases due to an insufficient amount of product. I doubt such a situation would persist very long: those buyers with sufficient purchasing power would bid the price up to meet their needs. Which is exactly the situation we have today, isn’t it? So if the producers are getting their target price and the buyers with sufficient financial capabilities are purchasing what they want wouldn’t you call that a balance? Of course, those unable to pay the current rate might say the market is unbalanced. So how could the system ever be balanced with respect to all buyers? I suppose if all buyers were allowed to purchase all the wanted at the price they could afford. But that situation has never and could never exist.

Thus it seems to lead to a simple conclusion: to the sellers and current buyers the market is always balanced. To those who cannot afford to pay the current market price the situation is unbalanced. And always has been and always will be because even if the price of oil fell 50% there would still be potential buyers who couldn’t afford it. But to those who could afford the cheaper oil they could make their purchases and thus the market would be balanced. Balanced just as it is today.

I know it sounds harsh (and why some folks are uncomfortable admitting it) but a balanced market will force those without the financial capability to do without. In the food example you feed you family while others go hungry. And you can’t share your food with all the hungry because it wouldn’t leave enough for your family because that “demand” greatly exceeds your capability to share. You could share some but never all of it, would you? Price determines who eats (or fuels their economy) and who doesn’t. Go back to the often stated stat: the US 5% of the global population uses 25% of the planet's energy. A lot of guilt potential there for sure. But what’s the fix? Limit energy imports to the US so prices would fall and the rest of the world could buy that energy? But that wouldn’t level the playing field: there would still be those buyers who couldn’t afford the cheaper energy. So what then: force an equitable distribution of energy on a per capita basis? Not much of a chance of that happening, eh?

RM, it seems to me that as the purchasing power of the US middle class stagnates or declines, that of the Asian middle class is increasing. Likewise oil consumption - follow the money :)

JN2 - Yep. We've successfully struggled with the guilt of our disproportionate energy consumption in the past. Now the trick will be dealing with the fact that the leverage may be shifting to other economies. I truly doubt the response will be nice.

People in charge are not stupid. There is a reason why the US outspends the ROW by an seemingly insane margin, even in times of apparent / relative stability - yes - IMHO the world political situation is pretty unstable and doesn't require much to get pushed to a situation where TPTB think it makes sense to take "action".
Merry Christmas.
Rgds WeekendPeak


Your definition of demand is correct, it is not only about what people want, it is what they are both able (they can afford it) and willing (they want it) to buy. So as you correctly point out, price is crucial. Likewise supply is not just the amount which can be produced, it is the amount a company is willing to produce at prevailing prices, again price is important.

One way to think of supply is at price "P" it is the amount that is sold over some time period, "t". Demand would be the amount purchased over period "t" at price "P". Clearly the amount sold is equal to the amount purchased and supply is always equal to demand.

It is confusing to consider supply and demand not being equal, because either goods would be sold without being purchased or they would be purchased without being sold, neither of these possibilities makes much sense in normal commerce.

I think where people get confused is when we start talking about rising inventories, in that case there are goods produced which are not being sold at the anticipated level. In these circumstances we speak of a lack of adequate demand at current prices for the current inventory ( which is mistakenly called supply). So the short answer is there is never excess supply or demand only excess inventory or a lack of inventory. A lower price takes care of the excess inventory.


DC – I think what’s frustrates some folks is the desire to capture a sense of “need” in the metric. One may not be able to afford that bbl of oil or plate of food but they still want it…need it for their wellbeing. A sympathetic person would find it disturbing to accept someone doesn’t have the necessities of life just because others can afford to outbid them. Thus taking a more clinical approach rubs their sensibilities wrong. We have some support systems to help the disadvantaged but there will always be limits. In the case of energy I suspect the “need” will become greater just as the supply diminishes. At that point the Mutually Assured Distribution Of Resources may become a harsh reality for have-nots as the haves reduce what charity they now offer

"The other complicating factor is that demand curves change over time. Many people adjust to price changes over time. What initially seems like a shocking price which may actually decrease consumption later becomes the new normal which people adjust to. This is why I tend to favor cap and trade vs. taxes because consumption is so inelastic."

Many of those "adjustments" involve using less gasoline. Gasoline demand is inelastic in the short term and more elastic in the long term. Most structural adjustments to demand take time. Like buying a more fuel efficient vehicle, taking a job closer to home or finding a home closer to work etc. The choices I make today that lead to the energy I will use over the next decade are much more linked to expected future prices of energy than to current prices. I believe that a simple small carbon tax that is set to increase every year by a given amount for a couple decades would lead to a more significant and less painful reduction in emissions than any cap and trade system. Business and individuals would know what increases in prices are coming and would make long term decisions accordingly.
Cap and trade is designed to be gamed and lobbied. Exceptions and special exemptions for political reasons are bound to doom any cap and trade system.

Tstreet: my reply was to Rockman. But I agree, although ultimately transactions take place in units of quantities and price those two variables are only a summary of a huge number of underlying variables and dynamics.

Raise the price and those who use gas primarily to get to work will pay the price and do very little to reduce their "demand", er, consumption.

Agree, also: even if fuel dropped in price significantly, I still might not do any extra driving, as my discretionary income to spend on any 'fun' activities to drive to is basically non existent.

For me, meaning even a trip to the snow, or beach, or amusement park would still require funding for food/tickets that I don't have money for... so I don't go.

I think we may see a demonstration of the impact of supply on demand in the Milk market, and perhaps soon. There is talk of $7/gal. price coming. I don't know how this would impact most folks, but I know our consumption will drop immediately and dramatically if/when this takes place.

Since it is the cost of production (feed costs rising due to the drought) that drives the cost of milk higher, drop in demand cannot lower price. I am still ruminating on the correlation that may be there to oil and gas... with energy, it seems that we can still provide some oil at lower cost from the older sources. With milk being such a local market, that may not be true. Producers will always wring out the last mil of profit, and their corporate bean counters will make that determination.

Just as we are seeing oil use in the US diminish to what we can afford, so we will see milk consumption diminish to that level.

It is still a matter of concern as to what will happen in the US when gas reaches $7/gal. Is there a level close in time where costs overcome needs to the extent that commuter society becomes suddenly impossible, precipitating a dramatic crash, or do you think that it will be sufficiently slow to allow gradual change to mass transit/alternative transportation?


There is talk of $7/gal. price coming.

Due to govt. subsidies on milk price getting nixed if we go over fiscal cliff.


Crash? Or they move closer to work, change jobs getting one closer to home, or heaven forbid they car pool. If they can do $5/gal alone they can do $20/gal with four in the car. I remember back in the sixties my dad commuted with three other people to work and the whole of western civilization did not fall apart.

If they can do $5/gal alone they can do $20/gal with four in the car. I remember back in the sixties my dad commuted with three other people to work and the whole of western civilization did not fall apart.

Today the developing world is using vastly higher quantities of oil, with rising demand from a still relatively low base. Also the marginal cost of production is much higher than it was in the '60's and rising rapidly.

The argument about $5/g going to $20/g and 4 in the car only works if you exclude all the other effects of $20/g. $20/g for farmers is going to mean much higher food prices as it affects both fuel and fertilizer costs. Higher food prices will also probably mean lower overall production of food as farmers use more themselves, plus lose some yield in an effort to cut costs.
Transport costs for this food will rise, especially to those far away from production. How will the much higher prices influence the oil exporters, that are large food importers, that have lower exports, that brought about the higher prices in the first place? The arab spring showed us a likely course of action.

In the west, the squeeze on household budgets of both energy and food prices rises, is likely to see vast changes in spending habits. The flow on here is that businesses involved in discretionary spending will suffer. As a vast proportion of all employment now involves this area, the economic activity is likely to suffer greatly, government revenues collapse, austerity measures introduced etc. think Greece and Spain for a corollary.

The chances are that with $20/g, there will be no worry about the cost of fuel to work, as there will not be work to go to.

Then what happens next, as SA, UAE, and Kuwait have an Arab Spring Event? Personally I hope that all the experts here are wrong and that the claimed reserves and spare capacity of OPEC are accurate. Because if they are not, then there is enough historic precedent to suggest the picture I painted above to be close to what will happen.

On the lack of car pooling, I point to the 405 freeway in southern California. 95% of the cars have ONE occupant, as they go past the LAX airport at 5 mph bumper to bumper. They go that way every day to and from work, but the VAST majority NEVER car pool.

I always wonder how many of those people are in a situation similar to the one I had in my last full-time gig. I was a member of the legislative staff here in Colorado. For six months of the year, my hours were very predictable, so car-pooling would have been fine. For the other six months, as we prepared for and then went through the legislative session, I had no idea when I would be able to leave, or when I might find with less than 24 hours notice that I had to be at work at 6:30 the next morning. The one staffer who was tied to a mass transit schedule who left the office at 5:30 to catch the last bus, while everyone else was staying until 11:00, was... resented might be too mild.

Or how many people have the day care problem that, on some random day, they'll get the call that their kid is sick, and if they don't pick the kid up and take them away within 90 minutes, the kid loses their spot at the center, and suddenly mom or dad is looking desperately for a place with a decent reputation that will take their kid.

Employers (and some critical service providers like day care for kids) have built a system around the assumption that everyone has personal non-scheduled transportation all the time. Huge adjustments may be necessary to change those situations on a large scale.

Yahbut, how many of those on the 405 were 9-5ers who could pool? How many are not in exceptional situations who can pool?


We don't know and may never know because there is NO database to track it. Even with the internet, there is NO southern California database to connect potential commuters. There could be people nearby where you live and work, you would never know it and apparently don't care.

No effective database. There are online sites, but they do no good.

IME, there are more "exceptional" situations than not. At my office, even married couples who both work there often drive separately (due to differing schedules). As McCain says, the whole system assumes you have personal transportation.

So, how does that cultural assumption change? Can we facilitate that change? That legislative staffer mentioned above, who left on the 5:30 bus while the others stayed until 11pm, was resented, but also provided a living example of the alternative. Could some of that kind of work be done from home, using the telecommunications tools we now have? And if the group truly worked as a group, could they not carpool at 11pm?

Telecommuting, IME, adds to the problem. If you never have to go to work, it's great. But most people telecommute part time. That makes the problem worse, since it makes the commuting schedule more irregular.

And if the group truly worked as a group, could they not carpool at 11pm?

Only if they all live in the same direction. If not, it makes a late night even later.

The obvious solution to the legislative staffer would be for one of his coworkers to drive him home. That they didn't suggests that he did not live near any of his coworkers. (Either that, or he's a jerk and no one wanted to be stuck in a car with him. ;-)

I don't think we'll see an answer to this until we're much further down the backside of Hubbert's peak. The assumption now is that you have a car. If you're applying for a minimum wage type job, the first thing they'll ask you is if you have transportation. They don't want to hear that you'll take the bus or your mom will drive you.

People who can't afford cars deal with it by living near where they work, so they can walk or bike. In the old days, the employer would often provide housing, to avoid the transportation problem. I think we'll see a lot more people "living above the store" before we'll see mass carpooling.

You state many valid points.

My first and foremost question from this vignette is 'why are these people working from morning until 1100 PM?'

Yea, I know, 'cause the boss expects them to.

What person, on his/her deathbed, ever said "I wish I worked longer hours" vs. "I wish I spent more time with my family"?

I used to be a much worse workaholic than I am at present...until I realized that balance between work and family and personal time was key to happiness...and my one boss said "Ulan, the graveyards are full of indispensable people."

Funny how the game works...more people unemployed, and also more employed people being overworked, likely into an earlier grave and many being most unhappy during their time alive.

In this particular case...it might not be because the boss expects them to. People working for politicians are often doing it because it's a cause they believe in. And it's not all the time.

But there are some companies where it's all to look good to the boss. My college roommate ended up getting a job at IBM. She hated it. Even if there was no work to do, no one wanted to be the first one to leave. So they'd all sit there in their offices until 10:30pm, waiting for someone else to make the first move.

I thought it was ridiculous. Which is probably why I'm no danger of ever getting a job at IBM.

Good for you! All things being equal, you may live longer and be happier (those two things are likely related).

I suppose if I had an occupation where I truly loved my work, I wouldn't mind working a little longer than the typical work week. So far in my life, I have seen people working long hours out of fear and also out of inefficiency of work processes, picking up the line from slackers, and the organization demanding effort on things that did not contribute to the core competency/organizational mission.

So far the organizations I have worked for that preach the 'work-life balance' have been all talk, no action.

Speaking of ridiculous over 30 years ago when I was still a pup I had just started at Amerada Hess. Monday after my first week the boss asked why I wasn’t there on Saturday. No one had told me we had to work that half day. He said I could read the paper, listen to the radio or nap. But I had to be present for the head count he sent to NYC. All appearances…no substance. Not long afterwards the same boss needlessly insulted me in a partners’ meeting. Maybe just to show everyone he was the boss. Afterwards in his office, alone, I told him if he ever did that again I would beat the crap out of him on the spot. After a few weeks my secretary commented how well the boss and I got along…he was a tyrant with everyone and not just me. So apparently he was personally more into appearances than substance. We got along great because he was going to fire me as soon as he could afford to and I was going to quit as soon as I found a job. I won the race. While there I discovered the asinine/abusive attitudes at AHC were rooted directly in the personality of Leon Hess himself. Lots of supportive stories I won’t bore the TODsters with.

I expect we'll see more domestic deleveraging; households returning to one 'breadwinner' outside of the home. Labor statistics indicate that this is already underway; more people leaving, and not returning to the formal workforce, and fewer people commuting. While some of this will be forced by economic conditions, the reverse will be true as well. Economies will adjust to a lower level of consumption as folks realize the advantages to such an arrangement, and that they don't need much of the stuff afforded by multiple incomes. The idea of having a fulltime 'homemaker', actually cooking meals from scratch, doing some or most of the home maintenance, schooling younger children and being there when kids get home from school may seem mundane to many, but necessity is the mother of re-invention.

We'll see fewer people commuting, more folks living closer to their work, more necessities being produced at home, and a culture that views this as a more ideal arrangement for many. This will be the better choice as the circumstances of resource depletion/end of growth develop.

I wonder if we might end up going the way of many European countries, with many choosing not to have children because of the expense. Heck, if not for immigration, we'd already be there.

Leanan, the US fertility rate is indeed at multi-decade lows, down to 1.89 most recently, a big fall from pre-crisis levels. One of the good-news items to come out of the crisis!

U.S. Population predicted to reach ~ 400M by ~ 2050...by the U.S. Census folks.


Open the file (Excel if you like) on the first row.

400M by 2050.

420M by 2060

Leanan, the contradiction in many European countries like Germany, Austria or Switzerland is that people with high education and, therefore, high avarage income do not have kids, the decision for not having kids is often one of "lifestyle" not of economic restaints. As a result, the simple solution of increased financial support for parents does not work, here changes in the kindergarten and school system are necessary and the social acceptance of working mums, still a problem for many older Germans/Austrians. It is instructive to compare the developements in Austria and Denmark since 1990.

The only positive aspect is that due to methological issues the number of kid born by older mums -these have typical university degrees and offer a high chance for a successful school career of their kids- is dramatically underestimated in Germany, we have around 0.2 kids more per woman. The other aspect is that due to the Euro crisis the net immigration of younger people to Germany is much higher than expected.

Leanan, the contradiction in many European countries like Germany, Austria or Switzerland is that people with high education and, therefore, high avarage income do not have kids, the decision for not having kids is often one of "lifestyle" not of economic restaints.

This has always been true. The peasants have larger families than the nobility. It's so common across history and cultures that there might be something hard-wired about it.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, since the elite use more resources.

But I was also thinking about countries like Romania. They took extreme measures to try and force people to have children, including banning birth control and abortion, monitoring women to make sure they didn't get abortions, and fining single people for not having kids. But it was still an uphill battle, because the economics did not favor large families.

If the employers find that they can't get good employees due to transportation issues, they may decide to provide it. Or to support the local mass transit system.

I've recently heard a report on NPR about large tech companies in the San Francisco area providing fleets of commuter shuttle buses. The employees are young and prefer to live in the city, presumably car-less, and the worksites (Google, eBay, Facebook, etc) are in the suburbs, an hour drive away. They estimated that 14,000 workers commute via company shuttles in that area, to the displeasure of the city transportation authorities since all this is outside their supervision and subsidy structure.

They said that WiFi was available on those buses, and the workers were supposed to be working while enroute. They didn't say whether that meant shorter hours at the workplace...

I don't see why the city should dislike it. IME, they love it when companies do stuff like that. They don't have to pay, but they still get the benefits. Sometimes they'll even build accommodations, like parking lots or pickup areas.

In India many MNC's provide bus facilities (almost everyone provides cabs) for their employees, many of them join hands and operate bus fleets, they run counseling centers, creche facilities, provide dinner, some like google, yahoo etc also provide facilities like bunk beds (if it gets too late). My own company provides concessional bus services and it works out well too, as using a car works out to be expensive, it's also usually a pain to drive so many people avoid that. A car is a status symbol here so people buy it to show off but they soon learn the hard way that operating it regularly is a pain in the behind.

TSMC in Taiwan provides buses for their manufacturing employees.

There was an article in Esquire about 30 years ago that proposed in the future corporation would be like walled city states of the past. I know SMIC in China provides on-site education for the children of employees as well as on-site housing for employees.

My daughter's husband starting doing that. They live in Santa Cruz and his employer is in San Jose. Two days a week he telecommutes, and the other three he takes a shuttle bus to SJ, then rides the light rail to his job.

Both the bus and the light rail have wifi, and he gets paid for the time he spends working during the commute! For the first time in years, he can leave the house at 7:30 and be back at 6:00 to have dinner with the wife and daughter.

Sheesh, if I had that deal seven years ago, I might not have retired from Apple at age 54 ;-)

Here's hoping it becomes a lot more popular!

Good questions, let me try to address them.

The staffer who left at 5:30 was resented because it wasn't an alternative, they were just getting out of a bunch of ugly work [1]. An 11:00 schedule was usually dictated by the actions of the budget committee that we worked for -- a compromise had been reached, perhaps, so now a set of bills had to be modified so they could be heard the next morning. Procedure required that bills be proofread by two staffers other than the preparer, sequentially not in parallel -- it's astounding how many small errors can creep into the numbers and language, and how hard it is to catch them.

During my last year on the staff, laptops and VPN software made it possible for some of the staff to do some of the work from home. The VPN wouldn't work across certain broadband networks. Some of the supporting documentation could not, by committee rule, be copied or removed from the office (such rules are not arbitrary, no matter what people think -- they were imposed because bad things happened). Sometimes what was supposed to be a simple matter turned out to be much more difficult, requiring access to the committee's library or the archive of audio recordings. Even though bills were prepared and tracked online, the paper copies were the official ones, so paper had to be prepared.

When the 13 staffers scattered at the end of the day, it really was "scatter". The Capital building is located adjacent to downtown Denver. One staffer could afford to live within walking distance (he was married to a doctor who was doing quite well). The other twelve took off, if not in twelve different directions, along twelve different routes. Doing pick-up-at-the-door would have required someone going well out of their way -- an unattractive option when it's already past 11:00 PM, and you have to be at work to run a committee meeting at 7:00 AM. Meet-in-the-middle parking places that are really safe at 11:00 PM can be difficult to find; not so much for me, male and looking reasonably fit, but much more so for the woman who was 5'1" and 98 pounds.

$7/gal or $10/gal gasoline will force the Colorado Legislature to change how it operates, at least somewhat. Unfortunately, making those changes may require amending the state constitution in places.

[1] For the record, the person who left "early" took it upon themselves to do a lot of the tedious work required to prepare for the next session, so it balanced out. Still, by 9:30 PM, when the snow has started coming down hard, it's difficult to think about how they're going to make your life somewhat easier in August.

Somehow they managed to do legislation in the 19th century, when it took days or weeks to travel between residences and capitals etc. And with no email, not even typewriters.

I think a lot of the pressures these days come from assumptions ingrained in our culture, based on what's technologically possible. E.g., since it is possible for someone to be reachable in all places and hours via cellphone, it becomes an expectation. Then one cannot ever be truly away from work, or clients. Ugh. And it's not just work: social interactions also make such assumptions. As in "how come you didn't call me back, didn't you see my name in your missed-calls list?".

Shack! (on-target...direct hit)

Like most folks on this board my age (late 40s), I clearly remember the time before computers and cell phones and crackberries etc.

I am no techno-Luddite by any means, but I am many others have noted that the fancier the presentation and word processing software has become, the more the boss folk love to nit-pick form over function details of no consequence. We now have meetings to plan meetings to plan meetings.

If we got really serious about being efficient in white collar 'work', and eliminated all the bureaucratic fluff, organizations would be more efficient, and also, the number of unemployed would swell.

Cars represent freedom and car pools restrict that freedom, it is as simple as that. You can put all the databases you want online and few will use them because they don't WANT to. Start gas rationing with a mag stripe card and watch the response.

The rationing will come, one of these years...either rationing by price or bu government quantity per unit of time mandate. Liquid FFs are finite.

Increasing consumption in other countries will hasten the depletion.

Witness the Chinese roadway and car ownership expansion:


We started car pool lanes after the 1970s embargoes. Look at the lack of utilization of car pool lanes across the country, you will see the situation. Now we allow EVs in the car pool lanes with one passenger, it used to be HEVs, but that expired.

There is a whole history of "carrots and sticks" with incentives and disincentives to get people to do what needs to be done for everyone's good, but then people whine about the "nanny state". We either start working together or it will all fall apart, this is our choice.

I'd bet good money that when rationing comes, it won't apply first to legislative staffers.

Somehow they managed to do legislation in the 19th century, when it took days or weeks to travel between residences and capitals etc. And with no email, not even typewriters.

They managed to run businesses across the country in the 19th century, too. Heck, the East India Company was a global concern back in the 18th century, but no one would suggest running a large corporation today using the technology that the EIC used. Government complexity in the US has always lagged behind business and societal complexity -- because representative government is by nature reactive. Consider how bad business behavior had to get before the Clean Air and Clean Water acts were passed.

A considerable amount of the complexity is forced upon the government. I did budget analysis for the legislature for a good part of the state's Department of Human Services: dozens of programs, hundreds of different funding sources. Economists and public policy analysts have recognized for decades that huge efficiencies could be realized if the whole mess was replaced with a negative income tax that had a handful of options. Milton Friedman put it nicely: "If the problem is that poor people don't have enough money, why don't we just give them money?" But you can't get that passed -- because too many people have too many axes to grind and demand complexity instead. You can create programs to help the elderly poor; you can create programs to help the poor that lack housing; you can create programs to help the poor that are sick; you can create programs to help the poor who are hungry; you can create programs to help the poor who can't afford heating fuel. But you can't pass a unified program that just gives the poor money to spend as needed.

$20 / gallon for diesel would shift the majority of freight transport from semi-trailer trucks to trains which would contain the price rise of the products.

Most food exports currently go by truck from the farm. Some goes to rail terminals, some directly to export terminals. It will still need to go from the farm to the rail terminals by truck. The trucks will still return to the farms empty most of the time.

For exported food there is still a lot of transport involved along with the higher costs of production and lower overall yield expected.

In the real world, $20/gallon would mean my wife would drive to town with 6 people in her 4 seat car, just like my family used to do when I was a kid. And farmers would grow their own fuel, and I would do what I am doing- stay home and think about wood gasifiers and solar cars.

And farmers would grow their own fuel

That is exactly one of the reasons why there would be less food available, farmers using up both land resources and their own time making fuel.

Yep, and what we are doing now is using up our kid's future.

As I say, they oughta sue us for grand larceny and negligent homicide.

I vote for $20/gallon, would be a bit more fair.

$20/g for farmers is going to mean much higher food prices as it affects both fuel and fertilizer costs. Higher food prices will also probably mean lower overall production of food as farmers use more themselves, plus lose some yield in an effort to cut costs.

I assume you mean "Higher fuel prices will also probably mean lower overall production of food as farmers use more themselves, plus lose some yield in an effort to cut costs.".

If fertilizers are cheap it make sense to optimize for maximum production per area and if fertilizers are expensive it make sense to optimize for most yield per unit of used fertilizer. If fuel is cheap it make sense to optimize for the maximum yield per worked hour and if fuel is expensive it make sense to optimize for least amount of used fuel.

Increasing price of fertilizers could be expected to decrease the yield per unit area. Increasing fuel costs could be expected to decrease the yield per worked hour.

It just struck me then fuel is expensive it make sense to optimize for lower use of fuel instead of getting the maximum amount of work done per hour. This might be rather important since it means lower salaries could be expected. It might also partly explain why everything have been so well for US as there have been plenty of cheap fuel available and they have been able to get the most work done regardless of cost in energy.

For white collar jobs where most of the job duties use computer and phone, no need to drive.

Driving to work daily for those jobs is so 20th century.

Thanks to widepspread availability of broadband internet to homes and apartments: Telecommute.

Even telecommuting just 4 days out of 5 in a typical workweek, and remove BAU traffic significantly, passed on savings to the business (they need less office space) and win/win for the worker (no commute, possible reduction or elimination of after school care costs for children, reduced fuel costs as now most driving is non-work related).

Ask me how I know ; )

Zap – If I understand the scenario for high priced milk is that the govt would be required to pay dairies that price if the law expires. So if consumers want to buy milk they’ll have to be willing to pay more than the artificial price set by the govt. Hardly what one would call a free market situation. And if it isn’t a free market than no concept of supply/demand has any relevance IMHO. Like my example to ts: if the govt forced dairies to sell milk for $0.10/gallon there wouldn’t be enough milk available to supply the market initially. And eventually there would be zero milk supplied to the market.

As I recall there are a few gov't subsidies to oil companies. May be wrong about that, but seems a somewhat parallel situation.

Makes ya wonder about the "free" markets, doesn't it?


Milk is for baby cows, not people?

Milk will not be missed and serves no necessary function for the non infantile human being.

Milk is missed otherwise there would be no demand for soymilk and almond milk at the store next to the animal milk.

(and then there is pre-rotted milk - cheese)

And chicken eggs are supposed to grow into chickens. So what?

We've used dairy as a convenient form of fat, protein, nutrients and hydration for MANY centuries. Keeping a cow or a few can be a goose that lays the golden eggs for a small family, as it is in many parts of the world.. and then is 'meat on the hoof' were you to need to exercise that option, hopefully after you've gotten some offspring to help continue the cycle.

To TSTREET.. I wonder if you realize how much milk goes into other recipes that non-infants live on.. and how many people store this nutritious and renewable food source as Cheese, Butter, Yoghurt, Kefir, Lassi, Sour Cream etc. ** It would be SORELY missed.

** And of course, Ice Cream.

This is true, but has little to do with our current industrial food production system.

Animals were traditionally a way to turn food people can't eat into food they can, and also a way to save food from good times (the wet season, summer) for bad times (the dry season, winter). Generally, animals were not raised for meat alone. It was only animals past their productive years who were butchered (and spare young males, since they are not needed and can be a pain to keep). Day to day, animals provided work, wool, eggs, or milk, not meat. They also provided fertilizer for crops.

But that's not how the current system works.

I do think some farm subsidies are necessary. You can't let the free market rule when it comes to food. By the time the invisible hand provides more food, the customers might all be dead. This is why you'd be hard-pressed to find a country that doesn't have some kind of farm subsidies.

It's probably not politically feasible, but we should probably give some thought to the type of farms we are subsidizing. Many of these programs were meant to help small family farms but are instead funneling money to huge industrial farms. Nothing wrong with that...except when it becomes unsustainable.

To be clear, I didn't raise my points with any purpose towards fiscal policies for agriculture. I was simply trying to help keep the various roles that cow's milk plays in human food supplies, as it was being somewhat glibly dismissed. There are so many aspects to the modern industrial food system that are bizarre and unsupportable that I'm not likely to tie in a comment about any particular food item with it's place in that madness. We still eat Meat and consume Dairy, but our sources are farther and farther away from the multinational Animal Industries that I don't consider them useful to conflate into the same answers.

I don't know that dairy is necessarily an economically viable food business without the compounding benefits that come from some of the other intersections that you mentioned, and that occur on traditional compound 'family' farms (ie, with complementary species of plants and animals whose needs and byproducts can support each other instead of relying on all purchased supplies..)

I agree that subsidies are very probably necessary (the degree and the form being the difficult balances to strike), they being merely the abstracted modern version of 'community efforts' which are essential burdens that need to be borne by the greater group all together for it's own survival or success.

Yes, I was pretty glib. My bad. Got a good discussion going though.
The point that milk/eggs/ and their sources (animals) are vehicles to transfer nutrients otherwise unusable by humans into a usable form is a good one. And yes, I like icecream.
What I see though is that the tendency present in almost anything that lives, the need to be more than we are, has taken this nutrient transfer function to the point where the micro (getting cheap chickens, eggs, beef and milk) is damaging or sometimes even destroying the(ir) eco system for the sake of short term results. plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Cheers, WP.

I'm just being a dutiful husband, as one of my wife's key mottos is 'most food is just a vehicle for butter'..

(on a whim, I found something like 5 Sanskrit words for butter.. http://spokensanskrit.de/index.php?tinput=butter&script=&direction=ES&li... )

There is talk of $7/gal. price coming. I don't know how this would impact most folks, but I know our consumption will drop immediately and dramatically if/when this takes place.

Seriously? We're talking maybe an extra $40 a month for a typical family. I'm not delighted, but it's not going to break my piggy bank.

I agree. $20/month for my wife and I. If you're that close to the edge, there's something else wrong, maybe use the phone a bit less or turn off some of those premium cable channels! For people with the average or somewhat below US income, it should be a complete non-issue if they have any control of their finances!

We consume dairy in other ways as well. Cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and as an ingredient to many recipes. If these all spike as well, the total impact could be multiplied.

Cheese already goes for the equivalent of about $40/gallon. An extra $3/gallon isn't going to change much. But I understand about grocery budgets.

We are talking about 4 teen aged boys, plus a 6 yr old girl here... we do between 1 and 2 gal per day, closer to 2. That makes about a $150-200 hike in expense. Our consumption will go down!

Also, that cheese at $40/gal will go up to $80/gal equivalent.


I'm on disability. Got a $17/month cost of living increase... covers just the argument's hypothetical difference on a jug of milk a week.

The responses have been interesting. A re-framing of the peak-oil problem might well be in terms of "Affecting Anybody Important". If it doesn't affect anybody important, who cares? $25/gallon gas is much the same as $5/gallon gas when it doesn't really matter... so who cares?

I have greatly decreased my milk consumption over the past ten years.

I use it much less now...mainly for cooking, a little milk in my coffee...

...but for a beverage I have switched to unsweetened Almond Breeze vanilla-flavored almond drink...40 calories, no hormones or antibiotics...no gluten or lactose...vitamin A,D,E added...

tastes good to me...not a bad drink in moderation, in addition to a small amount of fruit juice, some occasional wine and beer, and lots of water.

I am not sure of the need for cows milk for humans who have weened...I was brought up with the 'Milk's good food' indoctrination, but over time I have come to think that the dairy industry is as effective in marketing as the car industry.

That being said, I like a good cheese and an occasional serving of good ice cream made of milk, cream, sugar and natural flavoring. Although...for soft serve, nothing beats the egg custard served in my home town in Pennsylvania.

I tend to be a bit nervous about this sort of extreme concentration of resources in a single location. I know there must be good security, and still ... looks like a "target" to me.


Military bases in OK:


Location of Cushing:


Not really what I would call 'close.'


well I would like to change the subject a bit...I apologize....I am a journeyman Electrician and was layed off in 2008.I started my own electrical company and am doing o.k ..I am wondering if I should switch careers if there is going to be another downturn...I have two daughters 6 and 11 that I have to support...I was thinking of going into nursing....I am 40 yrs old but am in very good shape...run 25 miles a week and lift weights....I think I will have to work well into my 60's maybe even 70's----- I also have expierence in solar...my question, since this is the smartest group I know, is should I sit tight and be right or make my jump now before peak oil starts to set in...I am a little scared right now can I do this job well into my 60's and these economic downturns are painful...I now live in a small popular Montana town...I would like to move back to the southeast to be closer to family but I also think this is a safe climate change place to be...Lots of fresh water.

Hey sparky, I'm sitting here with my girl friend, she is a seasoned Occupational Therapist at a local hospital, and does very well! Her take is things aren't all that rosy in healthcare business either and nursing isn't something she recommends as a career switch at this point in time. That surprised even me! In any case since you are an electrician with experience in solar my bet is to stay put in that field. Maybe contact Paul in Halifax and get some tips from him on expanding your business by doing some LED retrofitting for commercial lighting needs. I also personally think the solar side of your business should still grow for a few years to come.


I think Fred's advice is good. Electrician will be an essential skill for solar PV, or if you try to make a go as an efficiency retrofitter like Paul. I wouldn't make any big moves, just try to get a toe or two into one (or both) of those worlds. Of course efficiency retrofitting isn't just commercial lighting, Paul has some interest in air source heat pumps for instance. So maybe you can find some other aspects.

Yep. After the big July power outage I put out a bunch of letters and op eds about how good solar is these days, and since then have been burdened by phone calls from people who know nothing but are interested in finding out- and doing something in solar-/energy retrofit.

Skimpy evidence, but my hunch is it's a trend that has got to get stronger as the climate disasters start to pile up.

Almost nothing is growing and expanding as much as solar PV. Montana should have good off-grid jobs into the future along with grid-tied, and rigging up all those big houses with back-up power systems will continue. I think nursing is more of a bubble than solar. Really. Around here health care is facing cuts, big time. Learn solar, in as many facets as you can, as the years go by. AC and DC. There will be a lot of hiring, a lot of opportunities. Look at the growth curve, more people are needed. If you are a masochist learn solar thermal. Right now energy efficiency and solar PV can sell themselves.

And Fred's advice is good, EOS too.

I too second what Fred is saying.. mainly so that in retraining, you aren't taking on new big debts, WHILE abandoning current income.

It's surely time, though, to look at ways you can reduce your overhead costs and dependencies.. be ready to make like a desert plant and live lean on precious little water, if you know what I mean. Distances you have to drive.. type of vehicle, home systems costs, energy, subscriptions, services.. We have a rental apartment in our building, so the property helps cover its own mortgage and some other key costs become business expense, at least in part.

It is also worth looking at having a backup trade, but your main trade is one there are surely a range of jobs for out there.. don't know about your area, of course.

But in my 'futur-0-scope'.. I don't see us moving away from electricity,.. you might do well to pick up linesman training and follow the weather as it keeps knocking down poles?? I also think tagging onto the solar trade could be good, again you know your area better than we do.. but that grass seems pretty green from over here.

Best of luck.

Ah yes thanks for the advice..I also took a class in motor controls recently did you know if you replace old motors say 60 percent efficiency with new ones at say 90 percent efficiency it is very big energy savings...the larger the motor the larger the savings. My fear is that we will get stuck in our "positions" soon as the deck chairs begin to be removed...and I am upping my options; it is a lot pressure when I have two young daughters to protect and I am starting to get a glimpse of the world they will inherit.

As our control systems Prof used to say....roughly half the world's energy is used to turn motors, I don't know where he got the stat.

That's probably true. If my memory is correct, back in the early 80's, Ontario Hydro estimated that over half of the energy they produced was consumed by motors of one kind or another, and in the industrial sector it was said to 80 per cent. And this was a time when a good many more Ontarians heated their homes and domestic hot water electrically. [Years ago, utility generators were typically rated in horse power as opposed to watts.]

Even if you improve motor efficiency by one or two per cent, you can still save a lot of energy.


A big chunk of our off grid electrical production goes to electric motors. Refrigeration, hot water pumps, fans, are usually running at various times; part of our energy overhead. The most efficient features of our home, passive heating and cooling, also have their limitations.

I can well believe it, given all that you've done to optimize your home's energy requirements. Our percentage of motor-driven loads is considerably higher than most grid-tied homes. In addition to the standard household appliances (refrigerator, dishwasher, washer and dryer, dehumidifier, fans, etc.) there's the heat recovery ventilation system and heat pumps for space heating and domestic hot water. The remainder, namely, lighting, cooking and electronics probably accounts for no more than 10 to 15 per cent of our overall usage.

BTW, I did some digging about and, low and behold, came across the conference paper I recall reading back in my days with the Ontario Ministry of Energy; as it turns out, the estimates are based on a 1974 survey.

See: http://repository.tamu.edu/bitstream/handle/1969.1/93963/ESL-IE-80-04-65... (PDF format)

Here's some useless trivia for ya: this document was created on a Wang OIS word processor.


In my job, I sometimes reference documents typed on UnderWoods and similar machines...documents many decades old...those folks didn't mess around worrying with what fonts and point sizes to use....they just typed out the necessary info and no more.

I worked in the Policy and Planning Division and everyone had to write their memos, briefing notes and various documents out in long hand and walk them down to the central word processing unit, then wait for the draft to be turned around, which was typically sometime the next day. Then you'd do the various re-writes and corrections and repeat the whole damn process two, three or more times before it was finally put to bed. It drove me nuts ! I had three DEC Rainbows at the time (two 100As and a 100B; please don't ask why) and so I brought one in from home and banged away at the keyboard using WordPerfect 2.0. I also brought in my DEC Writer daisy wheel printer but couldn't use it until after everyone had gone for the day due to the unbelievable racket. I look back at those days and question how the hell we got anything done.


Just a few years before that I was a fresh mechanical engineer working for a very well funded nuclear vendor. We used to hand write memos, reports, everything and give them to the department secretary. We usually got them back in less than an hour with the grammar and spelling much improved. A little cut and paste, maybe twice for big reports, and the secretary polished the final copy. If we had artwork, such as graphs, we would do something on quadrille or log paper and give it to the secretary. She took it to the art department and they made something attractive from it. I still think that was more efficient than having highly paid engineers and scientists spending their time doing all of this clerical work on a computer. Not only that but I'm certain that the documents were more legible because engineers generally are much worse at writing than the secretaries were.

I probably am a Luddite.

re: needless memos and paperwork

I worked as a pilot/ops manager for a micro manager (owner) that discovered the power of memos. When he discovered that his pilots simply laughed and threw them away, he bought binders and issued another memo that we would have to maintain the binders of memos and ensure they were up to date....or suffer discipline. He would periodically check the memo books. I liked to post them upside down, backwards, torn, or simply 'forget' and provide a "yeah, I'll get right on it".

I had forgotten all this until these posts. The consolation is he is going broke at 65 and I am retiring at 57. I hate paperwork that doesn't need to be done. When I quit I never even stopped by for a hello even though I worked there 6 years. All of us had between 10-20,000+ hours and he liked to tell us how long each trip should take and how to approach each landing site. It was like the Twilight Zone some days.


A good departmental secretary, a real secretary that is, is worth their weight in gold.


I'm afraid I'm not very good at collecting my thoughts and writing them out long hand, and dictation is a complete non-starter. I'm far more productive typing away at the keyboard. The Rainbow allowed me to throw myself at it without knowing what exactly I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it; that would often come much further on in the process. I could also easily rearrange blocks of the text and rework a passage to improve rhythm, flow and clarity. Quite literally, a briefing note that might have taken twenty or thirty minutes to type up on my own would have taken my colleagues one or two days because everything had to be handed over to the central word processing group, and unless your document was deemed "rush - urgent", it sat in the queue awaiting its turn just like all the others. And, needless to say, nothing ever came back perfect the first go around, so you had to repeat the whole process two, three or more times until you or the Wang operator got it right. I'd rather have bamboo shoots driven under my nails then to go through that hell again.


Oh... all right... I'll chime in:

Years ago already, I did some work for Hughes/GM/Delco. I wanted a pencil. A search began with much inquiry and a growing group of searchers joining the hunt. Finally! A pencil was found... and now I wanted a pencil sharpener... Pandemonium... It was a great moment.

They all had computer workstations. Often enough these stations would allow them to come to some absurd design decision or obvious error which they did not have the experience to recognize. Today's example is Edison's design software telling them they could remove the support columns that returned the load to the domed tank ends of their 2500 PSI San Onofre heat-exchangers if they simply made the next elements holding off that pressure, the flat steel 13 foot diameter tube support plates, 2 feet thick. Sounded good to them!

No, you are not a Luddite.

This phenomenon of pushing all the clerical work onto the scientists and engineers has been well lamented for decades in the government organizations in which I have worked.

Administrative personnel, including the legendary art departments, have been among the first to cut during budget drills. The idea that the worker bees can be their own art departments and technical editors is a false economy. Many of them seem to spend more time fighting Microsoft etc. than doing their calculations. Now the worker bees have to book and reconcile their own travel using a computer system instead of having admin folks do that chore for them...wait, you say, stop whining, with the wonders of the Internet this is an obvious way to cut 'overhead'...if you sy that then you haven't had the joy of using DTS (Defense Travel System), or one of the crummy corporate 'self service' travel systems. I tried to use my company's system, and went to the one remaining admin, and she explained all the various ways one has to 'trick' the system to avoid getting error flags, especially during post-travel reconciliation. I asked her if she would do it for me, and she said "Yes, that is my job!"...I am in gravy there until she gets downsized.

One company I worked for had a bean counter who assumed any mileage that ended in 5 or 0 was fiddled, they would also query any 2 figures that were the same. If you went to the same site each day, for a week, you ended up fiddling the figures to ensure you didn't have the same mileage for the same journey and never use numbers ending in 5 or 0. I ended up writing a spreadsheet to test the whole weeks numbers, before writing the claim sheet, so that nothing summed to 0 or 5. This ended up in a great deal of fiddling to avoid being accused of fiddling.


I wonder which would more efficient for refrigeration, electric motor or electrically heated absorption?


Electric compressors win hands down. In commercial, industrial or institutional applications, absorption makes sense where you can utilize waste heat generated by some other process or, I guess, where electricity is way more costly than an alternative fuel such as natural gas.


Self-education, something I enjoy a lot, can open many doors. With manufacturing necessarily returning to our shores, there seem to be a lot of openings for those schooled in manufacturing processes. I've seen many job offerings for electricians who understand PLCs (programable logic controllers), so I've been taking free online primers and may order the full course, just for fun. Lots of free learning online; a good way to find new direction and see if one is interested.

Instrumentation and controls is a great overlap area. Get even a rudimentary knowledge of PLC programming and field instruments, and you'd be set in the oilfield now, and for factory/industrial efficiency work and alt energy build-out after that. I've been on sites where somebody who knew how to properly run conduit, wire relays, and debug simple wiring errors would have been a godsend, let alone somebody who could calculate efficiencies.

Well balanced NYT report without the typical kneejerk "Bury it all" approach.

Hurricane Sandy Alters Utilities’ Calculus on Upgrades

Paula M. Carmody, the Maryland state official who represents consumers before the public service commission, said the high costs of preventive measures raised fairness questions that until now have been mostly unexamined.

I have said this before, I was in an electric company's control room when a large storm caused a lot of outage damage. I asked why they didn't put the cables underground - 'the failure rate is higher for underground due to JCBs' was the answer. There may be less damage in a storm but the number of incidents in between outweighs it along with the increased cost of repairing the damage.

Two simple remedies they could apply, right now, is to take a leaf from our poor third world country by trimming trees and cutting the power off before the storm hits which prevents blown up equipment and rows of houses being burned down.

There are whole banks of other solutions in between that and an all out 'everything under' approach and storm resistance should be a requirement for ALL new or replacement work.


re: Drill ship Evac article above,,
Check out the storm they're battling:

And an update - CG Cutter fowls prop with tow rope in rescue attempt,aborts mission:


That whole story is FUBAR!

Shell's entire "Arctic Campaign" has been a fiasco. Now there's 41 lives at risk (not just the entire arctic). Nice looking low pressure system!

Was Shell ever serious about drilling in the Arctic or was this just a show for Congress or to p%ss of the environmentalist or what?

I drove tug boats back and forth to Alaska from Seattle in the 80s. The Gulf of Alaska is not a fun place to be in the winter.
South bound , into the wind, all you can do is try to maintain heading . If you tug too hard to gain speed , stuff breaks and you sink.Each wave can push you backwards for days, then ya make headway between storms.
I can't imagine towing a drill rig like that across the Gulf in winter , barges are bad enough.
The current plan of Shell's drilling in the Arctic is like a junkie that will do anything to get a fix.
There's no logic involved at this point,just blind addiction.

But, there's a way out: http://www.straight.com/blogra/12-steps-peak-oil

I can't imagine towing a drill rig like that across the Gulf in winter , barges are bad enough.

So I guess you're sayin, the Arctic Challenger ain't gonna to fare too well, eh?


I don't think I'd want to be on that thing in Puget Sound on a calm sunny day in summer, let alone in rough seas in the dead of winter.

Ha ha, for a second there I thought you said they were going to tow that pig up to Alaska. Good one!

fubar - You would probably appreciate such situations better than most. I've flown/taken a crew boat in nasty weather but you ignore it as best as possible... especially after you've deposited your stomach contents. I've slept like a baby on rigs while drilling ahead in dangerous circumstances. But being onboard during a tow? No freaking way to relax. LOL. Mobil rigs are designed primarily to sit still and drill and not for sailing. Fortunately I've rarely been in that situation but when I was I sat close to an exit hatchway with a preserver close by.

And the Coasties pulling the hands off by chopper didn't give me a warm cozy feeling either: more hands are lost every year in the GOM in chopper crashes than by accidents on the rigs. I'm HUET (helicopter underwater escape training) certified and what it taught me was that if you went down hard you weren't going to survive whether you had HUET or not. As the safety officer said: all you can do is stick your head between your knees and kiss your *ss goodbye. LOL.

You can't outrun storms in the GOA , they run over you. Here comes another one.. ARR

Right now, they're towing the drill ship Kulluk back to Seattle for repairs.

Then,they want to tow the drill ship Noble Discoverer back to Seattle for repairs.
They had to rescue the Noble D on thanksgiving night in a major cyclone, a friend of mine was on the rescue tug. ARR

Next spring,tow both back to Ak along with the Arctic Challenger.

I wish for the safety of all personel involved and an incident free new year, and the same for y'all 'ere ;-)

edit/update: On sunday , DS Kulluk is again adrift after tow lines parted in another storm:

I read John Michael Greer's book 'Apocalypse Not' a few days ago.

I recommend this book.

The Mystery of Clouds That Glow at Night

There is a mystery surrounding these clouds. Why have they popped up so recently? The earliest actual note of them is in 1885, after the Krakatoa explosion. The dust in the air made sunsets so gorgeous that people stayed out to watch them, and some sky gazers noticed pale, high clouds that shone at night. People hadn't seen them before, and T.W. Backhouse, the first person to call attention to them, thought they might be some strange kind of volcano dust that glowed...

Some people think that the clouds are the product of global warming. The heat is causing water vapor to drift higher before it condenses. Others say it's more pollutants and dust in the atmosphere, making more visible clouds form at higher levels. There's also the possibility that people had always seen noctilucent clouds, but that the eruption from it made them more dramatic. Since they've acquired a name, more attention has been called to them. In any case, they're very pretty. And a little eerie.

From up top about Saudi Spending..


How inconsistent is this with all the claims of huge unlimited reserves? If you really had all the reserves claimed then why oh why would you try to ..

pushes ahead with expansion plans to diversify away from oil.

The other important point in the article is this...

King Abdullah pledged more than $500 billion on social welfare and to build projects to ensure that the country remains unscathed by the kind of political unrest that swept through other Arab countries in the past two years.

This tells me that they will continue to increase local consumption of produced oil to help keep the population happy as long as they can.

They are setting up the world and themselves for a bad economic spiral as lower exports from SA will mean higher prices needed to appease the local population, unless of course they really do have the reserves and spare production capacity.

We did see an announcement for an aggressive solar program a few weeks back. One of the stated reasons was the provision of good jobs for the locals. Frustrated unemployed youth are a huge problem for them that could lead to political rebellion. I think the house of Saud also realizes that increasing domestic consumption of oil (largely for summer A/C) reduces future export revenue -perhaps catastrophically. Whether or not the oil production is gonna head south soon, much of this investment makes sense. If they play their cards right, they could gradually transition from exporting oil, to exporting solar power, and things produced with cheap local power. Lets hope they are good card players.

Employing a significant number of those unemployed youth will provide them with money to increase their consumption of stuff. The Saudi Arabian economy will grow due to increased domestic spending from increased oil revenue. ELM in a nutshell. Yeast rule!

Those unemployed youth in KSA are already consuming stuff at a very high rate from the unemployment benefits the KSA government can now afford due to oil export income. Giving the unemployed youth real jobs with living wages may reduce their consumption of stuff by re-connecting them to the concept of earning and living within their means. Honestly, how can increased solar PV implementation and increased employment be spun negatively?

The Saudis obviously have been following WestTexas and his ELM concept closely.

After reading most of "On Saudi Arabia" by Karen Elliot House, I'm mildly surprised that Saudi Arabia has not already self destructed. Perfect example of a metastable situation, it appears to be stable, but it is inherently unstable.

How about this logic? Since, (as several commenters have said) you need oil to make solar panels, the Saudis could start a big PV manufacturing program. They could use any of these themselves, giving them an advantage in making panels and increasing the value of the oil - exporting products instead of resources. This keeps the locals happy & provides a long-term export market in electrons.

I'm pretty sure solar panels can be produced with solar energy, but when only ~ 1 % of the grid is solar the argument is moot. OTOH with a big enough solar base Saudi Arabia could become the first place where solar - to - solar might be feasible!

I can only hope.


Bryan - It would seem logical for the KSA to increase the value of their energy resources by converting them to higher priced export commodities. Solar would just one possibility. Another obvious advantage to expanding any alt in the KSA would be to conserve there energy assets which their economy is so dependent upon. Given ELM every $ of alt energy they create is a $ more of income.

Manufacturing expansion would provide domestic jobs. OTOH we’ve all read reports about the unwillingness of much of the KSA population doesn’t want to work at such labor intensive tasks. Perhaps that situation isn’t as pervasive as it’s hyped. Or maybe it is. We do know they import labor to do the very low end work. In some ways PO seems to have as bad or even worse implications for the KSA as the US.

KSA and neighbors have an infinite supply of cheap solar, getting cheaper all the time. So what's all this nonsense about oil?

It is silly to do the desertech thing and ship the juice to germany. Better to ship the german industry to the desert, where it can use the free electrons to grind out the goodies in a harmless manner, endlessly importing and exporting by sea to all the world.

Meanwhile, back up in the swamps and glooms, us germans and semi germans can go back to doing whatever is right to do in swamps and glooms.

Factories are already set up in Europe and elsewhere, using existing skilled labor. Other resources like metals, water and food supply are abundant in Europe. KSA has little or none of these.

Moving electrons is easier than trying to obtain all of the above to KSA, a country that is ill equipped for industrial production except converting oil and gas into plastics and fertilizer.

OK, so when you are starting up a new game, first you think of all the permutations and combinations, then when you have done that, you start to pick out the best ones. One combination is energy-heavy stuff going to the desert right next to the source. Obviously. Maybe and maybe not.

Shipping is cheap. And maybe some gloom dwellers might like a little sun, who knows. And maybe there would be less gloom if the gloom industry went elsewhere.

It would be interesting to see if the North African coast could become an industrial center. Of course with the conversations around here, it's tough to speak of anything growing into a new industrial center.. but it's not like we don't have a century of used materials, and just countless industrial, chemical and electromechanical approaches that could tap into that North African Energy Supply and do something needful with it. It's just that outrunning this particular lion requires strategy and patience more than sheer speed and strength.

And it may be possible to layout and design the solar array to provide a microclimate where plants can re-establish themselves in the desert. (The panels act as dew collectors and the drip-edge becomes how the plants get water)

Plus the fact that the plants get shade part of the day. That should lower there water needs. Most likely in that environment water -not sunlight is the limiting factor. But the maintenence crews have to accept the plants.

The people who are going to know a bit of sum'n about "greening the desert" would be the Israelis. If KSA opts to try greening around PV in the desert money will talk and the normal BS of the area can take a walk for a little while.

And it may be possible to layout and design the solar array to provide a microclimate where plants can re-establish themselves in the desert

Or something like this: http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/aboutus.html

The Seawater Greenhouse provides a low-cost solution by enabling year-round crop production in some of the world’s hottest and driest regions. It does this using seawater and sunlight. The technology imitates natural processes, helping to restore the environment while significantly reducing the operating costs of greenhouse horticulture.

A sobering article about water pollution and cancer at Camp Lejeune:


This site is not an isolated case, IMO. Perchlorate contamination, burn pits, other underground fuel leaks, mold-infested housing, and more come to mind.

As time rolls by and energy becomes more and more expensive to produce and distribute, and EROEI becomes smaller, will society have the resources to pursue remediation of these problems? Will it have the resources to even identify such problems?

How much of our national health care bills are due to treating effects of soiling our own nests?

But hey, is it still the case that some 400K people croak each year in the U.S. from cancer sticks?

Sources...and Sinks. See: Limits To growth. Stupidity is one renewable resource that seems infinite.

Looks like gas is cheap enough for folks to go rip-roaring down the beaches:


Not a stellar representation of humanity.

And here I wanted to visit the state of WA some day, to include the beaches (hiking)...well, hopefully they don't allow driving on the beaches of Olympic National Park, do they?

The link provided above has a bunch of rather interesting comments, such as this first one:

This just makes me ill, what is wrong with people that would do such a thing to another living thing?

Hypocrisy rears its ugly head yet again. As we drive our alloy cars down the expressways of our world, we cumulatively slaughter countless animals, road-kill is what we call it so as to excuse ourselves. When traveling through Kansas on a motorcycle, I came across a turtle crossing on the Interstate - in the form of thick muck painted across the road like a crosswalk would look were it painted green. It's not uncommon to see dead deer, or a bundle of quills standing erect in mute defense. And of course, let's not forget the poor bugs in the radiator grille and collected in the recesses of our wiper blades, though only a die-hard buddhist would give a damn.

Such is the unintended consequence of our god-like fossil-fuel endowed powers - we are made selfish - god forbid we lose our ability to transport ourselves at breakneck speed - and god help anyone or anything that gets in our way.

Drivers Intentionally Run Over Turtles, Clemson Student Finds During Experiment (VIDEO)

Roadkill Experiment Shows That Six Percent of Drivers Are Sadistic Animal Killers

"...went out of the driving lane to run over the animals. ...went out of their way to kill a living thing that didn't represent any danger to their lives... and risking their own lives in the process, no less."


The poor skunks... when threatened, their response is to turn and spray.

Yea a small percentage of humanity is sadistic, killing others (human or animals) comes naturally to them. Never too early to learn that fact.

WOW!!.. what can I say.. we have some real sicko's here in the USA.

What I found interesting is out about that 6 percent psychopaths whom go out of their way to kill. Is that 89% drive SUV's or Trucks(I presume that includes Pickups).

Given that those vehicles make up roughly 1/2 of all vehicles sold, that increases the percentage of psychopaths behind wheel in SUV's & trucks to 10.68 percent!!

Normal auto drivers percentage decreases to 1.32 percent. So when going on first date, your first question you ask will be?? (11% verses 1%)???

6 percent psychopaths whom go out of their way to kill


According to Dr. Stout -- who is backed up by quite a bit of research -- sociopaths make up about 4% of the population. My mediocre math skills suggest that if you're with twenty-four other people, statistically, one of you would be a sociopath.


Using his law enforcement experience and data drawn from the FBI's behavioral analysis unit, Jim Kouri has collected a series of personality traits common to a couple of professions.

American PsycoKouri, who's a vice president of the National Assn. of Chiefs of Police, has assembled traits such as superficial charm, an exaggerated sense of self-worth, glibness, lying, lack of remorse and manipulation of others.

These traits, Kouri points out in his analysis, are common to psychopathic serial killers.

But -- and here's the part that may spark some controversy and defensive discussion -- these traits are also common to American politicians.

I'm not sure turtle-hitters are going out of their way to kill -- they are simply playing a game which incidentally and unimportantly happens to kill the unwitting participants. For some the killing might give a sense of power, but for others (most, I think) it's simply not a concern.

The latest Scientific American Mind has an article on psychopaths, and what we can learn from them. As with most traits, they are in essence a continuum where some level is very good and too much is dangerous. Self-confidence, charisma, clear thinking in bad situations, lack of emotionality in business dealings, etc. are all very good attributes in the business world. Projecting power, via dress, vehicle, and demeanor, is a key to success as well. Take it too far and thwarted ambitions can give rise to a sociopathic killer.

Note that most women will happily date a psychopathy-tending man that is driven, strong, and successful -- predominant "male" traits, and the charisma and attention to personal appearance and image will go a LONG way on the dating scene. They might not like some of the other attributes if taken too far (controlling, uncaring, cheating, and sometimes cruel), but many women are pretty happy being a trophy wife of a steely-eyed businessman.

Having worked with and known many such people, I think the Mind article misses another dimension -- the boundary of interest. A full psychopath tends towards narcissism and cares little about others, but I've known couples and families who look out for one another fiercely yet will treat other ruthlessly. Often athletes will strongly identify with the team, and even fans will as well. Some relative notion of importance between self, partner, family, team/clan, company/tribe, locality, state, nation affects how these same tendencies manifest as lone-wolf lawyers or doctors, workaholic company men, groupies, family men, politicians, statesmen, pillars of industry, etc.

As I understand it, "psychopath" and "sociopath" are words coined by the psychologists to define similar character traits. The common usage of "psychopath" has become much more brutal, as in, serial killers and others who tend toward violence, compared to the original clinical definition. Rather like the misuse of other technical terms in popular speech, such as "significant" or "feedback"...

E. Swanson

so really, how hard could it be to make a land mine look like a turtle?

just saying...

inappropriate comment and sentiment.


Then again, perhaps the myth that some turtles explode could save a few. Haven't you started any urban legends?

I would pursue the route of the appropriate levels of governance banning driving on the beaches, or at the least patrolling the beaches and upon witnessing such a crime, if it wasn't possible to head the person off aforehand, arresting the person and levying a stiff fine and 6 months in jail, performing community service, or some such. And a mandatory psychiatric evaluation. And posting of the perp's picture in the papers, on the net,on the squawk box, with appropriate denouncements of his character.

I don't have any sympathies for vigilantes.

Without the rule of law, we are nothing.

well, real world, I'm not a vigilante and have saved a lot of turtles of various species. For all the good it has done. In the real world, I'm the guy up against organized crime more often than I'd like to be, because the same a-holes who traffic in illegal wildlife products traffic in child prostitutes, cocaine, weapons, etc. There's very little rule of law involved in most of the real world.

So when something as clear as this "swerving to kill" study is shown, what one will often get from me is the gallows humor of a person who has been in the trenches. Because what our species does to the planet is abhorrent; and swerving SUV's picking off survivors are such a nice crystal-clear icon for that. So I made a joke that you don't find funny. Sorry.

But even if I were serious, what makes you think I'd be calling for vigilantism? On the contrary, if I were to propose it, I'd say it should be considered that the USA do this as a matter of public policy. It won't, but then it won't pass a carbon tax either. So if it helps, think of it as a bill that will never become a law.

And we may enter times in which interesting things happen internationally. Philippe Benevides once had Peru's air force bomb Onassis' whaling fleets for conservation reasons. Entirely legal, because it was ordered by a government. I assume you'd agree that met the rule of law criterion.

So a disclaimer: kids, don't try this at home. Sovereign governments only.

The sign say's "warning turtle decoys may puncture tires. Drive carefully."

Who said anything about driving on the beach? Road kill happens, but some people apparently enjoy making it happen. I've killed a rabbit or two and maybe a possum too, but didn't aim for them. Other times, I've taken evasive action to avoid critters, especially deer which can destroy a car. The problem is mankind's machines tend to collide with nature in many ways, road kill is just one result. Most people really don't care about the rest of the natural world, indeed, many are actively involved in destroying nature wholesale with jobs which destroy natural ecosystems and the creatures which live in them. All "wealth" comes from the land, usually by ripping the Earth asunder to get it.

The "Rule of Law" you extoll is human centric and will eventually result in a world of humans and little else of what once was the natural world. There are already too many of us and each wants to eat and have sex and must breath and poop. I think that your "Rule of Law" will continue to evaporate as the game of survival becomes ever more difficult to win...

E. Swanson

Who said anything about driving on the beach?

Because that happens to be in the news and has been tied back to this road turtle story.

On places that are not TOD.

Who said anything about driving on the beach?

The thread started further up with a news story about how someone killed 92 birds on a beach:

"Wildlife officers and sheriff's deputies who were called to the scene Thursday afternoon found 92 dunlin dead on Long Beach. The Wildlife Center of the North Coast said the trauma was consistent with a collision with a motor vehicle.... Seabirds and shorebirds are protected by law. Wildlife officers have shown that a vehicle must be traveling much faster than the posted 25-mph speed limit on the beach in order to hit these types of birds..."

... so someone drove as fast as they could towards and through a flock of these shorebirds.


Yes, an end-game could be just humans and their familiars. Around here, you don't hear songbirds anymore, just crows.
Never saw one of these before: Devil's coach horse

And it's turtles all the way down... >;-)

Then post a sign saying "One of those turtles is a land mine in disguise". Probably good for cutting road speed too.


WA is the only place where I have encountered roadside ammo stands in the suburbs.
While it has some culturally progressive areas, it is at heart a pretty redneck place.

I once entered a tavern that had a sign:
"I love spotted owl fried in Exxon Oil."

I had no idea. Is it the same in Oregon?

Outside of the urban/suburban areas, pretty much, especially in logging country. Accent-challenged rednecks ;-)

disclaimer: I generally use home boy Jeff's criteria to make that determination, and I saw a lot of this sort of stuff when I lived in the more rural parts of the Pac NW.

Now there's Danny here, my assistant. A redneck of the purest- accent, clothes, car (truck) never got out of highschool. Lives off grid in a chevy van buried deep in the dark woods. Eats squirrels and nuts.

But Danny, on his first day on the job, went out and checked out my junkpile, memorizing everything and its place. So when he got to work, he could remember and pull out of the mess the very thing that could be bent, welded, screwed or hammered into what it was I had asked for.

In short, I soon recognized that Danny was a genius- of the redneck sort. Very valuable to me, a redneck aspirant but by now grown too old to lift a transmission out of the bathtub.

Redneck zen--
It has its place, and is not to be discounted.

When Kuntsler starts slagging rednecks and the NASCAR white trash set, I just think of Dorothea Lange's depression era photographs of sharecroppers and extreme rural poverty whose subjects would be the grandparents. Picking on rednecks and NASCAR white trash does not advance the dialog, I must argue. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar...as the saying goes.

Try southern Monterey County or San Benito: "Liquor and Ammo".

U.S. Winter Holiday Season sales growth weaker than expected/hoped for:


In addition to the weak economy and high unemployment, perhaps many people have all they stuff they need, or even want...or at least have run out of the ability to store any more stuff in their abodes...

...From a person who has reached 'Peak Stuff' a while ago...

Right. So--great opportunity- take all the resources that would have gone into all that new stuff that people no longer want or need or have room for, and use them to do what we need to do- get off carbon.

There, problem solved. Next?

EDITORIAL - Mr Chavez's health and energy in Jamaica

Several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Jamaica, have an interest in Mr Chávez's health and the implications for policy should he not be able to continue in office. The interest turns primarily on Mr Chávez's PetroCaribe oil initiative.

In Jamaica's case, Venezuela supplies the island with around 7.5 million barrels of oil per year, for which, if the price of petroleum is above US$40 per barrel, 70 per cent of the payment is converted to a 25-year loan at one per cent interest. When the price of oil falls below US$40, between five and 25 per cent of the payment is financed by Venezuela, at two per cent interest.[snip]

This matter should, if it didn't before, be concentrating the minds of Jamaica's policymakers on the urgency of a settled energy policy and programme that would lead to the utilisation of a cheaper mix of fuels and a lower cost of energy to the economy. Even with PetroCaribe, Jamaicans pay around US$0.41 per kilowatt hour for electricity - among the highest in the region. That rate is a heavy burden to the competitiveness of firms.

IOW let's just find cheaper $#!+ to burn so we can grow our economy and be happy ever after.

Alan from the islands

The American Prairies may be the result of biochar.

More significant is indigenous fire management. To get above the 1%-3% average of natural fire.

Northern Native Americans managed fire to exceed the 3% pyrolitic-C of natural prairie fires.
We know that the early colonists were amazed by the extremely fertile grassland soil that was present in the new "wild" lands of the Americas We know that our black prairie soils are rich, but how did that fertility get there?
A recent paper sheds new light on what we can be thankful for. It explains that :
* Pre-settlement fires produced biochar
* Recent testing on a few of these grasslands soils (called Mollisols) has shown that biochar accounts for 40-50% of their organic carbon.
* These tests ALSO show that essentially ALL of the Cation Exchange Capacity of these soils comes from the biochar.

The punchline:

Our findings indicate that these oxidized char residues represent a particularly stable, abundant, and fertility-enhancing form of soil organic matter.

And a PDF on biochar
http://www.pronatura.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/History-of-biochar.pdf And to whet the whistle

Conquistadors, cannibals and climate change A brief history of biochar
From Conquistadors to soil scientists, the evolution of terra preta into biochar is a bizarre and intriguing story. Progress has been slow and sporadic, yet research from the past decade hints at what could be a very exciting future. A new adventure is beginning.

More YET on Biochar in your compost:

High priced because of nitrogen, NH3, retained in a compost/char verses almost all the nitrogen off gassed in normal composting.

Work by C. Steiner, at U of GA, 2010, showing a 52% reduction of NH3 loss when char is used as a composting accelerator. This will have profound value added consequences for the commercial composting industry by reduction of their GHG emissions and the sale of compost as an organic nitrogen fertilizer.

“Biochar in OZ” a long Yahoo discussion thread from Feb 16, 2012, with some of the practitioners and links to Australian Farm Journal articles.
Ray' O'Grady's ( http://www.smartbugs.com.au/ ) very interesting work with "PandA" (liquid Wood smoke), he reports retaining 74% of Nh3 in composting by addition of just .006% liquid Wood smoke. Also in different dilutions for a contact herbicide, anthrocnose & phytopthora root rot control. Given the current controls, this sounds like a cost & environmental godsend.

Storms reminiscent of Dust Bowl days.


I am befuddled by the assertion that certain crop insurance programs seem to encourage planint crops in drought conditions, while other programs to pay farmers to put cropland flaoow are being reduced due to budget concerns.

It makes no sense but... think of it this way you can't get house insurance if the house isn't built. Of course that doesn't quite capture the foolishness of planting a crop in a drought but the farmers are just playing by the rules.

1/2 the people will love this, and half will think it's sheer stupidity (not the idea itself, but the idea that this will save us):

"This ultra green, almost chartreuse, body-heat design works especially well in Sweden, a land of soaring fuel costs, legendary hard winters, and ecologically minded citizens. First, the station’s ventilation system captures the commuters’ body heat, which it uses to warm water in underground tanks. From there, the hot water is pumped to Kungsbrohuset’s heating pipes, which ends up saving about 25 percent on energy bills."


I love Diane Ackerman. Energy is not her specialty.

You might think of it as simply one of many thousands of things that, collectively, could make a tangible difference.

I mentioned the other day about how "Canadian heat pumps" are used to move heat generated by building occupants, lighting systems and office equipment from where it is unneeded (typically, the inner core) to other areas where it can be put to better use (the perimeter), with any surplus stored in basement holding tanks for future use. Ontario Hydro's former head office at 700 University utilizes such as system as does the Aliant, née MT&T Building in this city (both were built during the mid '70s). A friend of mine worked in the latter when it opened, and she said for the first month or so until all the kinks were ironed out that you could tell the day of the week by simply looking at your colleague's apparel. Mondays, heavy sweaters and vests; Wednesdays, normal business attire; Fridays, beachwear; and the first day back after a long weekend, parkas and mukluks.