Drumbeat: January 2, 2013

Rosneft leads Russian oil output to new high

MOSCOW (Reuters) - More crude from state-owned top producer Rosneft kept Russian oil output the highest in the world last year, ahead of Saudi Arabia, Energy Ministry data showed on Wednesday.

Crude output edged up almost 1 percent to a new post-Soviet high of 10.37 million barrels per day (bpd), but the increase could halt this year due to depleted oil fields in West Siberia.

Russia, whose proceeds from oil gas constitute around half of budget revenues, aims to keep its crude production at no less than 10 million bpd until 2020.

Oil production drains to nine-month low

Opec crude oil production declined to a nine-month low in December as Saudi Arabian output dropped to the least in more than a year.

Output in the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries slipped 110,000 barrels, or 0.3 per cent, to an average 31.434 million barrels per day (bpd) from a revised 31.544 million in November, a Bloomberg News survey of oil companies, producers and analysts revealed.

Oil Climbs to Three-Month High as U.S. House Passes Budget Bill

Oil rose to the highest level in almost three months in New York after U.S. lawmakers reached a deal to avert automatic tax increases and spending cuts that threatened growth in the world’s biggest economy.

Futures increased as much as 1.7 percent after legislation to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff was passed by a vote of 257-167 in the House after Republicans abandoned an effort to add spending cuts to the Senate’s plan. A government gauge of China’s manufacturing showed a third month of expansion yesterday, a sign that the recovery in the world’s second- biggest oil consumer will extend to this year.

Record Low Power Prices Stung by Plunging Use in Europe

The slump in European power that has driven prices to record lows is showing no sign of ending as the region’s second recession in four years curbs energy use.

Electricity for the next year in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, will probably fall 9.2 percent in 2013, extending its 17 percent decline last year, according to Credit Suisse Group AG. Power demand in Germany will drop 2 percent this year, the same amount as in 2012, Bank of America Corp. said.

Oman budget break-even oil price jumps in 2013

MUSCAT (Reuters) - Oman is banking on oil prices staying high this year to fund heavy spending on job creation and social welfare, according to plans released on Wednesday.

Finance Minister Darwish al-Balushi told a news conference that Oman, whose revenues come mostly from oil and gas exports, would need an oil price of $104 per barrel in 2013 to balance its state budget.

The U.S. Gasoline Market Twin Peaks of 2012

The year 2012 was certainly a roller coaster ride for gasoline. The adjacent thumbnail shows the range for Regular and Premium. From the last week of 2011 we see near twin price peaks. Regular and Premium both peaked in early April, up 21.0% and 19.2% respectively. They hit interim lows in early July, only a few cents above the 2011 year end prices. They hit their second (slightly lower) high in mid-September and then fell to December 2012 lows two weeks ago, essentially at the anniversary of their December 2011 lows.

ANALYSIS: Algeria's draft amended oil, gas law offers new tax breaks

Algiers (Platts) - New oil and gas exploration in Algeria has all but dried up in recent years because of international company disappointment with the terms on offer for exploring the country's vast conventional resources.

Given the poor state of its new upstream activity, Algeria started revising its hydrocarbon law at the start of 2012 in an attempt to encourage more international investment in exploration.

Saudi to develop Midyan gas field in 2013

Saudi Arabia will develop its Midyan natural gas field in the Red Sea in 2013, Oil Minister Ali Naimi said in comments reported on Tuesday in local media.

Iran to Launch 57 Oil Projects by June

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of Kermanshah Polymer Plant in western Iran on Tuesday, Qassemi said, “A few days ago, 1000 kilometers away from here, we inaugurated two petrochemical projects in Assaluyeh including Kavian Petrochemical Plant and West Ethylene Pipeline; while today the first petrochemical plant in West of the country, which will take feedstock from Kavina Petrochemical Plant, becomes operational.”

He said under intelligent initiative of the government on construction West Ethylene Pipeline, as the longest ethylene pipeline in the world, 12 provinces of the country will take advantage of oil and gas resources deposited south of the country.

Poland's PGNiG begins gas and crude production at Norway project

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish gas monopoly PGNiG's co-owned Skarv field off Norway has begun production after a 16-month delay, the company said on Wednesday.

PGNiG, which wants to reduce its reliance on Russian gas, expects its first major offshore project to lift its 2013 Norwegian output to about 370,000 tonnes of crude oil and 0.3 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas.

Chidambaram says current account deficit worrying, eyes gold curbs

Since September, the government has raised limits on how much corporate and government debt foreign investors buy, but the widening deficit has faced headwinds from expensive oil, high gold imports and a sharp drop in exports.

...Worried by the ballooning deficit, the government in March doubled the import duty on gold to 4 percent. Gold is the biggest contributor to the import bill after crude oil and is easier to tame than energy supplies.

India Losing Iron Ore Market as Courts Shut Mines

“We are seeing a rise in judicial activism in India because the government’s regulatory oversight is compromised and the industry does not adopt any initiative for self- regulation,” said Kumar, now an independent economist. “We have to find the right balance between growth and sustainable industrial practices.”

Power-Meter Shift to Cut $10 Billion Brazil Market by 50%

Brazil’s decision to weaken a proposal for boosting energy efficiency by installing smart meters is wiping out half of a $10 billion market that lured foreign manufacturers from Elster Group SE to Echelon Corp.

2013: Energy issues on front burner

(CNN) -- After a year of tumultuous weather and global change, it should not be surprising that 2012 proved to be a transformative period for public opinion on energy.

Changing attitudes on the most hotly debated topics matter a great deal because they set the course for future policy decisions. Taking a closer look at trends over the past 12 months hints at what to expect in several key areas of the U.S. energy landscape in 2013.

Middle East's steady evolution in energy could be undone in a flash

We can venture a guess at six things to watch for in Middle East energy in 2013: three that will happen, and three that are to be hoped for.

Total petroleum production in the United States will jump ahead of Russia and come close to dethroning Saudi Arabia as the world leader. The juggernaut of shale oil and gas will roll on relentlessly, despite all the efforts of environmentalists, including Matt Damon in his anti-fracking film Promised Land.

This surge, combined with growing production from Iraq, will put pressure on Saudi Arabia. The kingdom will have to cut back its record-high oil output in the second half of the year, or even earlier, to sustain prices around $100 per barrel - unless there is another major geopolitical upset.

Middle East will muddle through 2013

2013 will be a year of diplomacy, not war. To borrow a conceit from my friend New York Times reporter Elaine Sciolino, 2013 will witness the Tom and Jerry game in which cat and mouse in the old cartoon continue a never-ending game of almost gotcha. Who knows? If the Americans and Iranians try hard enough they might actually bump into one another and reach a limited deal to keep Iran a few more years away from getting enough uranium to make weapons. But if you're looking for final closure on this one, go talk to Dr. Phil.

California Desalination Financing Closes on $1 Billion Project

Project financing has closed on a Southern California desalination plant to construct the largest U.S. facility to make drinking water from the sea, capable of producing about 50 million gallons of potable water a day.

Rig Runs Aground in Alaska, Reviving Fears About Arctic Drilling

If the Kulluk, which Shell upgraded in recent years at a cost of nearly $300 million, is wrecked or substantially damaged, it will be hard for the company to find a replacement and receive the numerous government permits needed to resume drilling in July, as planned.

Under Department of Interior rules governing Arctic drilling, the company must have two rigs on site at all times to provide for a backup vessel to drill a relief well in case of a blowout, an uncontrolled escape of oil or gas.

A separate containment system designed to collect oil in the case of a well accident failed during testing, preventing Shell from drilling into oil-bearing formations during its abbreviated exploration season last summer and fall. Shell’s Alaska vice president, Pete Slaiby, said he could not discuss the latest accident, saying that company officials were working with a Coast Guard-directed unified command and could not comment separately.

The Opposite of Mining: Tar Sands Steam Extraction Lessens Footprint, but Environmental Costs Remain

Melting bitumen in place is less unsightly than mining tar sands, but increasing efficiency, lowering costs and--perhaps most importantly—minimizing greenhouse gas emissions remain challenges

Obama should resolve to reject Keystone oil pipeline

A dangerously obese man, serious about his New Year's resolution to lose weight, would not begin the year by buying $7 billion worth of fat-producing candy. Nor would any nation serious about reducing greenhouse gases approve construction of a $7 billion pipeline that would facilitate the consumption of 900,000 gallons a day of tar sand oil, spewing greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere.

On this New Year's Day 2013, America is that dangerously obese man.

And President Barack Obama is poised to make the long-delayed decision on whether to bulk up or slim down. The candy is the Keystone XL project, a proposed 1,700-mile pipeline across the United States that would transport extra-dirty crude oil mined from the tar sands of Canada's northern Alberta province to U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

TVA Nuclear Slowdown Snaps 7-Day Advance in Southeast

The Tennessee Valley Authority slowed the 1,123-megawatt Watts Bar 1 reactor in Tennessee early today, snapping a seven-day advance for nuclear output in the Southeast.

Generation nationwide declined by 0.6 percent to 90,632 megawatts, or 89 percent of capacity, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 6.4 percent less than a year earlier with eight of 104 nuclear reactors offline.

Vestas, Gamesa Advance After U.S. Extends Wind-Power Tax Break

The U.S. House late yesterday passed a bill averting spending cuts and tax rises that had threatened an economic recovery. The law, already approved by the Senate, includes an extension of the Production Tax Credit, which pays wind-farm owners 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of power they produce.

“It’s really good news for Vestas, because the American market and how it develops is extremely important,” Chief Marketing Officer Morten Albaek said today in a phone interview. “It’s a good way of starting the new year.”

Best Vehicle Sales Streak Since 1973 Boosts U.S. Dealers

U.S. light-vehicle sales probably rose in December to wrap up a three-year run unrivaled in almost four decades as consumers replaced cars and trucks that are, on average, the oldest ever on the nation’s roads.

Car and light truck sales in the U.S. probably rose 9.6 percent in December, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts. That would cap a third-straight annual gain of at least 10 percent, the first such industry streak since 1973.

Avis Budget enters car-sharing market with Zipcar buy

(Reuters) - Car rental company Avis Budget Group Inc said it will buy Zipcar Inc for about $500 million in cash to enter the fast-growing U.S. car-sharing market.

The offer of $12.25 per share is at a premium of 49 percent to Zipcar's Monday close.

"We see car sharing as highly complementary to traditional car rental, with rapid growth potential and representing a scalable opportunity for us as a combined company," Ronald Nelson, Avis' chief executive, said in a statement.

Landslides take out Amtrak service in rainy Pacific Northwest

Sure it's scenic, but taking the train between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., can be a trying time during the Pacific Northwest's extended rainy season. Already since Thanksgiving, more than 40 landslides have interrupted rail service and passenger service has been completely shut down since Dec. 17.

"It's one of the longest shutdowns in the Pacific Northwest that I've seen," Gus Melonas, a spokesman for BNSF, the railway company that owns the line, told NBC News.

Alaska's boreal forests undergoing transition

In almost every patch of boreal forest in Interior Alaska that Glenn Juday has studied since the 1980s, at least one quarter of the aspen, white spruce and birch trees are dead.

"These are mature forest stands that were established 120 to 200 years ago," said Juday, a professor of forest ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences. "Big holes have appeared in the stands."

Ecuador finds way for conservation to pay in protecting rainforest

"The last place in the Amazon that is still virgin forest is the Yasuní. There is more variety in flora and fauna in one hectare than in the US, Canada and Mexico together," says Ivonne A-Baki, Ecuadorian secretary of state.

More to the point, the reserve sits on top of thousands of barrels of oil, the main source of income for the country.

This has put the government in a quandary. It desperately needs petrodollars to keep its economy on track, but its commitment to environmentalism is so strong that nature's right of existence is enshrined in the country's constitution.

As Pheasants Disappear, Hunters in Iowa Follow

The pheasant, once king of Iowa’s nearly half-a-billion-dollar hunting industry, is vanishing from the state. Surveys show that the population in 2012 was the second lowest on record, 81 percent below the average over the past four decades.

The loss, pheasant hunters say, is both economic and cultural. It stems from several years of excessively damp weather and animal predators. But the factor inciting the most emotion is the loss of wildlife habitat as landowners increasingly chop down their brushy fields to plant crops to take advantage of rising commodity prices and farmland values.

Over the last two decades, Iowa has lost more than 1.6 million acres of habitat suitable for pheasants and other small game, the equivalent of a nine-mile-wide strip of land stretching practically the width of the state. And these declines have been occurring nationwide.

Worms Produce Another Kind of Gold for Growers

Mr. Chambers’s two decades of investment in what he calls an “underground movement” may be paying off. New research suggests that the product whose manufacture he helped pioneer, a worm-created soil additive called vermicompost, offers an array of benefits for plants — helping them grow with more vigor, and making them more resistant to disease and insects, than those grown with other types of composts and fertilizers.

The earthworm’s digestive process, it turns out, “is a really nice incubator for microorganisms,” said Norman Q. Arancon, an assistant professor of horticulture at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Coveting Horns, Ruthless Smugglers’ Rings Put Rhinos in the Cross Hairs

Gangs are so desperate for new sources of horn that criminals have even smashed into dozens of glass museum cases all across Europe to snatch them from exhibits.

“Astonishment and rage, that’s what we felt,” said Paolo Agnelli, a manager at the Florence Museum of Natural History, after three rhino horns were stolen last year, including a very rare one from 1824.

American federal agents recently staged a cross-country undercover rhino horn sting operation, called Operation Crash, “crash” being the term for a herd of rhinos.

Among the 12 people arrested: Wade Steffen, a champion steer wrestler from Texas, who pleaded guilty in May to trafficking dozens of horns that he found through hunters, estate sales and Facebook; and two members of an Irish gang — the same gang suspected of breaking into the museums in Europe.

10 easy, green New Year's resolutions for the eco-slacker

It's easy to think about all the big changes you're going to make in the New Year as the old year comes to an end — but by the second week of January, most of us are already finding reasons to skip the gym or break the spending freeze. That's why we've come up with ten green New Year's resolutions so easy you'll have no excuse not to keep them — and as they help you save money, cut your carbon footprint, decrease your home's waste stream, and improve the quality of the Earth, you'll be glad you did.

Light Absorption Speeding Arctic Ice Melt

The record-setting disappearance of Arctic sea ice this fall was an indication to many climate scientists and ice experts that the pace of climate change was outstripping predictions.

Now a new study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters provides a look at a dynamic that may further accelerate the process: the rate at which the ocean underneath the ice absorbs sunlight.

Chevron CEO: Policies show risk of high energy prices is greater than risk of climate change

NEW YORK — Chevron CEO John Watson notices something important as he visits his company’s operations around the globe: Governments everywhere find high energy prices much scarier than the threat of global warming.

And that means the world will need a lot more oil and gas in the years to come.

Re: Chevron CEO: Policies show risk of high energy prices is greater than risk of climate change

Chevron CEO John Watson makes the point that much of the gain in wealth seen in Western nations is due to the availability of cheap energy. However, he also points to a large increase in spending at Chevron next year to gain access to more oil and natural gas. Clearly, that decision is the result of higher prices for oil and natural gas. One would conclude that Watson doesn't expect the price of oil to decline and that, as a result, the previous economic advantages of cheap oil will evaporate.

Of course, as a CEO with an a background in economics, he thinks the world can continue to ignore the long term costs of climate change because the short term costs to address the problem will exceed the short term benefits...

E. Swanson


The musings of Oil-Qaeda CEO's provide some of the strongest evidence in support of Mayr's hypothesis that human intelligence was a lethal mutation that dooms the species.

Ilargi's post this morning, Quote Of The Year. And The Next. seems to be along the same vein:

I came upon this quote a few weeks ago in an interview that Der Spiegel had with Dennis Meadows, co-author of the Limits to Growth report published by the Club of Rome 40 years ago. Yes, the report that has been much maligned and later largely rehabilitated. But that's not my topic here, and neither is Meadows himself. It's the quote, and it pretty much hasn’t left me alone since I read it.

Here's the short version:

[..] ... we are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change.

And here it is in its context:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Professor Meadows, 40 years ago you published "The Limits to Growth" together with your wife and colleagues, a book that made you the intellectual father of the environmental movement. The core message of the book remains valid today: Humanity is ruthlessly exploiting global resources and is on the way to destroying itself. Do you believe that the ultimate collapse of our economic system can still be avoided?

Meadows: The problem that faces our societies is that we have developed industries and policies that were appropriate at a certain moment, but now start to reduce human welfare, like for example the oil and car industry. Their political and financial power is so great and they can prevent change. It is my expectation that they will succeed. This means that we are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change.

...Ilargi: We evolve the way Stephen Jay Gould described evolution: through punctuated equilibrium. That is, we pass through bottlenecks, forced upon us by the circumstances of nature, only in the case of the present global issues we are nature itself. And there's nothing we can do about it. If we don't manage to understand this dynamic, and very soon, those bottlenecks will become awfully narrow passages, with room for ever fewer of us to pass through.

As individuals we need to drastically reduce our dependence on the runaway big systems, banking, the grid, transport etc., that we ourselves built like so many sorcerers apprentices, because as societies we can't fix the runaway problems with those systems, and they are certain to drag us down with them if we let them.

I'm trying to remember a time when I didn't, in some sense, understand this last part. We simply won't/can't fix the collective, global behavior that leads us to, if not through the bottleneck of our own making. My appologies to all of those valiantly trying to mitigate the consequences of our evolution, and especially to the countless species unlucky enough to have shared this remarkable time slot, the Anthropocene, as brief as it may turn out to be.


Well said.

Edit: PS:

"I would not say that such an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to civilized society would be fanciful or doomed to fruitlessness." - Sigmund Freud

Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

These men along with others, gave us heads up along the way ... but that was ignored by powers that be.

"... but that was ignored by powers that be."

I don't think they ignore it; they exploit it. Those who make the most from a gold rush are the ones who know from the start it can't last. Keep an eye on the US natural gas markets or high-risk junk bonds. Those adept at ponzi/disaster capitalism don't burden themselves with long-term consequences.


Don't fool yourself.

They are scared because the wheels are in fact getting loose and the wheels are going to come off.

Oil-Qaeda is going down like Mussolini did ... public rage tearing them limb from limb.

The greatest mass murderers of all time.

They will, like everyone else lose more than they ever gained.

Somehow that doesn't help me feel any better. I guess I'll have to watch from the cheap seats... that's the plan anyway ;-/

Because the oil industry has outlived several generations, the majority of its participants have lived full lives and have passed from this world without reaping what they sowed. I do not see how the majority of the evil doers will lose more than they gained. Even the ones currently running Oil-Qaeda are likely to take the money and fly into the sunset leaving the oilless minions bickering among themselves for the scraps. How are you going to get them when:

1. you do not know their whereabouts on the planet, and

2. you do not have enough transportation fuel to hunt them down?

Dream on.... ROCKMAN has got you by the balls.

Bob Shaw's question from Phoenix, Arizona: Are humans smarter than yeast?

I don't know if it is really that bad...there will be no where to hide...justice will come to all...look at history.unless you can find another planet.there are no more untouchables in the crash...

BT - "Dream on.... ROCKMAN has got you by the balls." Not as tightly as I could if it weren't for the damn pubcos throwing money at the shales. Compared to the production that built most of our expansion the last 50 years the public can't see the difference in the dynamics of fractured reservoirs and the capex requirements to keep the treadmill running. Same holds true for DW GOM: they see a press release showing hundreds of thousands of bbls coming on at once but don't have a clue how quickly those fields deplete compared to the old heritage fields. The politicans keep telling them that all these "new" trends and "new" technology (neither of which are actually true) will cause energy to become cheaper when in reality cheaper energy will kill those plays to a fair degree. There will be some short lived down spikes from time to time but FF will never again be a strong foundation for BAU/growth IMHO.


NAZI propaganda told them nothing would ever happen to them either. Lots of them died prior to getting caught.

That was the individuals, but the story here is about the millions in that industry. It will die a horrible death no matter how many hands ROCKMAN or anyone else has on their balls or anyone else's balls.

Mussolini is the way the cookie crumbles.

DREDD - "NAZI propaganda told them nothing would ever happen to them either". Don't confuse the BS the pubcos put out with what almost all of us insiders know: the oil patch is dying. And has been for over 30 years. I have known a few non-technical management types who drank the Kool-aid but they never lasted very long. I've mentioned it before: in 1975 my mentor at Mobil Oil sat me down and explained why our good run was over. We never called it "peak oil" but rather the reserve replacement problem. He very specifically pointed out how the oil patch was going to shrink over time. Either a good guesser or just smart he expected serious declines by 2020 or so. There's a very good reason the pubcos have latched on to the shales in a serious way: without them (and the higher prices that support their development) more than half the pubcos wouldn't be in business today IMHO. What you're seeing now is the last rebound of the oil patch similar to a cancer patient after their latest successful chemo treatment. They are in remission and they are still dying. We've just been given an extension.

And besides, there's really nothing to catch us on. All we've done is what the govt and public DEMANDED that we do. Gave us big tax breaks to encourage us to do more of the same. Made millions of acres of public lands available to us. What's one of the big complaints these days from Washington: the oil patch isn't developing fed leases and thus causing high oil prices. Consider the negative public sentiment in both PA and NY regarding frac'ng. A little delay but both regulators in both states are allowing it to go forward. Like the man said: follow the money...and the states want it...now. Consider how much NG is being flared from the Bakken in NG: all done with the complete approval of the state regulators because they don't want to delay the revenue from the oil production while waiting on pipelines. You blame the oil patch for that? All the state has to do is deny flaring permits and not one cubic foot would be flared. How would we even be prosecuted for following state law? And the public is no better: they complain the oil patch (including OPEC) is holding back production in order to charge more. In essence they are all blaming the oil patch for not drilling and producing more. And then what? They're going to come after us for doing what they've demanded? If anything the govts/public will be even more critical of us in the future for not bringing more oil/NG to the market place.

I can understand how many would not be happy about the history of the oil industry in this country. But let's be honest: it's been done with the full support and encouragement of the govt and thus with the majority of the citizenship. If most of the citizens really didn't want it to happen (and keep happening) they wouldn't elect those politicians. The anti-drilling voices may be loud at times but they are readily drowned out by the silence of the great majority.


"And besides, there's really nothing to catch us on. All we've done is what the govt and public DEMANDED that we do."

The Nuremberg defense.

The citizens do not DEMAND to be killed, maimed, and destroyed by the fossil fuel industry affect on the Earth and its species and never have and never will.

Fifth grade history (e.g. A History of Oil Addiction).

Doubling down is the sin that leaves the easiest to follow trail.

"the full support and encouragement of the govt and thus with the majority of the citizenship"

False equivalence.

In that statement, your first declaration is accurate, the second is not. The American people are the most lied to by government of any modern society (A Closer Look ...).

The oil companies are the greatest source of psychopathic liars on the face of the earth (MOMCOM Murder Suicide Pact).

The people who went to work daily in the NAZI concentration camps with their ovens burning millions, went home like everyone else in a psychotic state of denial.

It is the institutionalization of mass murder, which the oil industry vigorously supports, that condemns it.

If the fossil fuel industry leadership was composed of decent people, they would feel the ongoing deaths around the globe and change course, rather than full steam ahead (The Peak of Sanity) to unavoidable catastrophe.

The redeeming essence for those trapped within that system would be for them to work on the inside to help people there become aware and rejoin the human race before it is too late (What Kind of Intelligence Is A Lethal Mutation?).

Zero hard feelings toward individuals, because whatever else is real or unreal, we of planet Earth are all in this together.

dredd - I think where you and I view matters differently is that I don't think the public is that ignorant or unaware of the consequences. They may not want to admit it out of guilt or embarrassment. The same holds true for the politicians. For instance, except for a handful of "unpatriotic radicals", do you hear the American public confessing that we've killed thousands of our military, tens of thousands of civilians and squandered many $billions of our children's future for the sake of oil in the ME and not to "export democracy"? If they can deny the obvious the rest is easy.

And the Nuremberg defense is very effective if you're being tried by the folks who gave you the orders in the first place. Again, that goes back to how ignorant you view the American people. Do you really believe the majority of the public doesn't think we're harming the planet by burning all those hydrocarbons? IOW when was the last time you saw a million man march demanding that the oil patch stop drilling? As I said earlier the only knock we've been given from the majority is that we're not drilling/producing as much as they want. You think they are being misled by lies and slick advertisements. I think they understand the situation and readily accept their personal needs outweigh the consequences.

Accepting what you know to be a lie because of the benefits you get is the same thing as being guilty of lying IMHO.

While there are many who know the truth but, as you say, ignore it in favor of the short term fix of abundant and cheap energy, this still doesn't explain why there is so much advertising, especially the all day ads from BP how wonderful the Gulf is. I guess the pubcos aren't completely convinced of your thesis and do all that advertising/propaganda just in case there are those who need it to be convinced how wonderful the oil companies are.

It would be interesting if one could find a breakdown between ignorance, stupidity, and apathy but there is no doubt that the vast majority feel that they need the energy now regardless of the consequences and cannot see a way out. There is no hope or guidance given by government and certainly no hope given by the energy extractors.

But we are beyond the golden age when our hearts leapt to the advertisements that told us to see the U.S.A. in our Chevrolet. The good old days when ignorance was truly bliss.

Yeh, very few of us have found a way to be independent of energy extraction but is it really necessary for all those single drivers to drive all those SUVs and trucks to work? Is that a function of ignorance or just a general contempt for anything that might require just a tiny dial back on excess? Or the people who go in the Post Office and leave their SUVs idling while they are just standing there yapping with the postmistress.

Yeh, very few of us have found a way to be independent of energy extraction but is it really necessary for all those single drivers to drive all those SUVs and trucks to work?

While the US certainly has plenty of offenders in that department, anyone who has traveled just about anywhere on this planet and found themselves in a metropolitan area, knows that the problem is global.

Here's the top five worst cities in the world.


BTW as a native of Sao Paulo I can tell you that I've been in some real bad ones there. However one of the worst I've personally ever experienced was driving into Budapest Hungary one morning, almost four hours to drive a little over 10 miles, it takes me about three hours to walk the same distance, go figure...

I could list literally hundreds more cities that aren't much better.

let's ask all those individual drivers if they really NEED to drive to work. I don't need to ask because I know the answer already. They all think it is their god given right to drive their chariots! Why they think this way is another matter.

The car manufacturers in cahoots with the advertising agencies have been fine tunning the message that the automobile is sexy, a high status symbol, symbolizes power, gives you freedom, comfort etc... and you really can't exist without one! This message is put out non stop all over the world in every country and every culture practically 24/7, 52 weeks a year, year after year after year! That BTW, is one reason I quit watching TV years ago.

Then of course the banker owned Governments and their astrolger economists, despite the objections of a few petroleum Geologists, but certainly with the blessings of the management of the major oil companies, constantly spin reality to tell us that there are endless seas of oil and NG to be produced and that burning it all will have no impact on our environment and that CO2 is actually good for plants, so everyone can go forth and drive baby drive with the pedal to the metal!

Some of the worst offenders amongst them, even go so far as to tell the more gullible amongst us, that if we stop burning fossil fuels that we go against God's will and deeply offend him for not accepting his gifts to man!

So at the end of the day we are all guilty to some extent for the mess we are in and we all individually must take responsibility for our fair share of the blame but there are certainly some amongst us who are more guilty than the rest.

So the next time you sit behind the wheel of your car, before you put the key in the ignition, look yourself in the eye in the rearview mirror and ask yourself if you really 'NEED' to drive...

When I was commuting alot, my car was like my personal cave on wheels. I think most commuters feel that way. Having a personal space that goes where you do, even takes you there, is a powerful thing in a threatening world. It's going to be a hard spell to break.

This is very true but people can switch from a Lincoln Navigator to a Prius (or better yet, an EV) and still have their portable cave. I think a $1/gallon gas tax would greatly help the long-term prospects for the country. (We'd use more efficient vehicles, we'd build more public transportation, we'd build our cities/towns in a more efficient manner, etc.)

One might propose a little less self-satisfying ranting about people driving rather than walking or taking public transport and more respectful listening to why people wish to drive cars? Worldwide walking or taking public transport exposes women and girls to harassment and assault, even murder. The Delhi gang-rape murder case that has been in the news anyone? There is a reason for those women only buses or subway cars found in many parts of the world. If you wish to get half the population (or more- children being transported as parents feel public transport isn't safe for them either) out of cars, you're going to have to address the safety concerns of women, girls and their concerned male relatives. I suspect that deep down women fear public transit or even walking down the street (particularly at night) for a good reason. Address their concerns if you want to see them change.

I'm a climatologist. I publish about global climate change and spend most of my day working on it. I personally work to cut my energy use as it's the only way I can face my students and because it's the right thing to do. But if we want people to change, we have to listen to why they are not changing first. They may have a damn good short term reason for their behavour.

This is the first time I have seen someone bring this up as a safety concern. Probably varies about location but around here I don't think that is an issue. I don't think that ranks very high as the issue although I see a lot of people say they drive a big vehicle because of safety concerns vs smaller car.

May I suspect you have a respectful conversation with young women about being groped and harassed in public transport? Waiting at bus-stops has problems as well. It's very common worldwide, North America included.

So give all the teachers in the prison that is the US, guns, and all the Indian women cars? Is it my imagination, or is practically everyone off their rockers?

Yeah, I think many people may think might I'm probably off my rocker but I'm with you on this one, Tribe!


Crime and Mass Transit

You can read all about the typical quality of life reasons for expanding mass transit in this week’s AIArchitect (shorter commute times, walkable neighborhoods, cleaner air)--and the participants at this week’s AIA/AIA DC transportation forum came up with a good many. Here’s an unexpected one that should cause us all to stop and think about the supreme influence people’s built environment has on their behavior and the way they interact with others: At the forum, Mindy Reiser, a sociologist who has studied public infrastructure issues, asked the panelists if they had heard of a study done in Bogota, Colombia, that showed that the installation of better mass transit reduced crime rates...


...The argument for how mass transit might decrease crime goes like this: Cities with good public transit systems can be developed more densely and are likely to create more active, vibrant neighborhoods where it’s tough to steal away a moment alone and mug someone. Crimes tend to happen in isolation, separation, and darkness, not amongst crowds coming and going. It’s essentially Jane Jacob’s “eyes on the street” theory.

Call me crazy! I've travelled around the world to first and third world countries alike. I've lived in Sao Paulo and New York for many years and used public transportation daily without a problem. As do billions of commuters in those two cities!

BTW, I just checked, New York Subways transport about 1.5 billion passengers per year. I'm sure that there is some crime on those trains but give me a break! The problem I see here is perception of crime and not actuall crime.

watch Dara O'Briain's take on the perception of crime vs reality at the begining of this Vid:

I've ridden the subway in NYC, and felt pretty safe most of the time. It can get a bit hairy late at night. It's not so much on the subway cars themselves, as in the station, where you can be harassed by panhandlers, and on the street, walking to and from the station. A subway station does not magically make a bad neighborhood into a good one.

However, I know women who will not use the subway, even broad daylight. They take the bus, even when it's far less convenient. This may be partly because the subway used to have a really bad reputation before Guiliani cracked down. It was NYC subways that gave the world the word wilding:

Slang The act or practice of going about in a group threatening, robbing, or attacking others.

An outrageous rampage usually involving sexual attacks by men on women

Are women just overly fearful? Maybe. It's part of our culture. Statistically, it's more likely your son will be murdered than your daughter will be raped, but parents generally worry a lot more about the latter. It's not unusual, even in this enlightened age, for girls to be far more sheltered than their brothers. Years before I was old enough to drive, my mother told me to hold keys so they jutted out between my fingers so I could use them as a weapon if someone attacked me on the way to the car. I don't have a brother, but if I did, I doubt she'd have told him the same thing.

OTOH...women are more vulnerable than men, and legitimately have more reason to worry. Telling them their fears are imaginary is not particularly useful.

I spent 20 years using mass transit in NYC, right through the 'wilding' days, which really were in the news when a woman was killed in Central Park by a group of youths.. Not as much particular to the trains. I am male, but have a great many women friends, and families with kids, and you wouldn't believe how young kids are that start taking the trains by themselves.. as it becomes necessary to get to school and have a life, etc, and the women I know might resort to cars on some late and lonely nights, but by and large, Trains and Buses are completely solid..

Like anywhere in the city, there were SOME occasions of awfulness that happened in the transit system (Like this woman who just pushed a Hindi guy off a platform.. ) , but usually you would be MORE secure once you were on or in the system, and around people and staff/crew.. It would be the lonely walk TO the nearest station (no less than walking across some vast parking lot TO your car) where you might best expect to be taken by surprise. Once you're around a lot of people, in closer contact and interaction with pure strangers than outside of the big cities, you start to see a constant chain of benevolent actions that these people will offer one another, offering a hand, pointing out an unzipped backpack, giving directions or a friendly comment.. and in total harmony with the legendarily brusque, no-apologies curtness that New Yorkers also have as their outerwear, so they can keep moving, not get TOO caught up in endless niceties. All part of keeping things flowing and getting through life.. certain advantages to joining and cooperating, other advantages in keeping your own council, and acting 'selfishly'.

For me, a year up in Rye, NY in Westchester county, in a somewhat Tony Suburb was far more vulnerable and dangerous feeling. Out walking, you'd hear that angry isolated dudes and groups of doods in their cars would harass likely targets who were foolish enough to be out walking. Neighbors were all similarly isolated, and would pull curtains shut, and not interact as strangers walked past their yards.. there was just tension and anxiety about a 'stranger danger' world out there.

'We have Nothing to fear but fear itself..' (and how fear makes people act towards each other)

I think Leanan expresses very well the sentiments I have heard from many women, more eloquently than I can.

I have heard many young women recount to me stories similar to that recounted by KalimanDenku's girlfriend in North American and in Western Europe. Also similar stories from Japan.

A young woman fellow student has told me that for her or her female cousins to take the bus in Banglalore was always a complicated exercise in organizing male cousins as physical human shields against groping.

Another young woman told me about a complete stranger walking up to her in Delhi and punching her. When she wanted to fight back, her mother-in-law stopped her and told her she would be hurt worse if she defended herself.

Maygar, yes the statistics (and they are difficult to accurately estimate) do say that a woman is at greatest risk from those who she knows, rather than in the street. However, a woman may often have little control about who are her family members or co-workers or neighbors. She can control whether she is in the street or not, and therefore control a small aspect of a frightening situation.

I am saying that this is one factor that you have to consider and address if you want to persuade people out of cars. Many people drive because it is a solution to get through the day, even if they accept that it's a bad longterm thing. There are many other reasons: the lack of sidewalks and controlled street and highway crossings for one. When I decide to walk to the shopping center in Regina I have to hike through a storm drainage pond and sprint across an uncontrolled exit ramp of the TransCanada highway. This is pretty common. Can a frail elderly person do this? No. Would I let a young child do this? No. Also as I age, I have learnt to see more people who I call the "invisibly disabled", people with chronic medical conditions who use cars because sometimes they simply can't walk or bike. I have four of them in my lab. In a sane economy, they should be able to take sick leave on those bad days. But it's not a sane economy and they're scared of losing their jobs, so they hide their medical conditions, grit their teeth, swallow those painkillers, and drive to work.

It's a concern for me, and the reason I bought a car despite my concerns about peak oil and climate change. I really wanted to go car-free, but in the end, I could not, and the reason is safety.

It's not just assault (which I suspect most women worry about to an extent the average man cannot even comprehend). It's that walking and biking is not safe in many areas, even without assault. Especially in bad weather: heavy rain, say, or snowy days when the SUVs are sliding all over the road, and the sidewalks are covered with 2-meter drifts. And at night.

Yeh, it sucks to live in a place with crappy infrastructure. Boulder has bad weather too but they plow the bike paths. Imagine that. But car is king so the walkers and bikers get the hindmost.

I used to live in the state that was number one in per capita lightening fatalities. During certain seasons, biking home could be an invitation for Thor to claim another victim.

Ironically of course, it's ostensibly in large part because of cars that you feel less safe, yes?
Well, apparently by these stats and maybe few others I've seen, vehicular accidents come in right after natural medical conditions.
Unsure who was involved in these accidents, either, such as passengers or pedestrians.

Sure, it's dangerous to be in cars. But it's even more dangerous to be outside them, on a bike or on foot. You can't just compare total numbers, because there are so many more cars. By deaths per mile traveled, cars are far safer than walking or biking.

So what are we doing then? Swapping (the possibility of) getting killed by a car while on bike or foot, etc., to (the possibility of) killing by car someone in a car, on a bike, on foot or in a stroller, etc.? (To say nothing of the environment or roadkill for examples?)

So we all get a car so we can all kill each other only by car I guess? ;)

Peak oil may solve this problem eventually, but for now...you cannot blame people for wanting to drive cars. It's silly to try and deny that they have advantages.

Peak oil is going to solve what problem? The car-advantage? The rat race?

Bike-ride thought/Post-bike-ride edit:

'The path to ruin is paved with insufficient cost-benefit analyses, (deliberate) myopia, (rat-)numbers/scale/frequency, and the law of willfully-unintended consequences. Like an otherwise-sturdy bridge that receives a group where each member deliberately bounces up and down in unison, breaking the bridge.' (Many drown amid the chaos and panic.)

The car advantage.

IMO, you already see this in parts of Europe. You reach a certain critical mass, and biking becomes much safer.

And of course, if there's no fuel at all, cars are no advantage at all. Unless you want to live in one.

Understood and may reluctantly agree in a very limited sense...
I suppose we could always (creatively) pirate the car for parts and materials too. Like the tires. Example:

But Tire Beware:

"Over 1 billion tires are manufactured annually, made of synthetic rubber, natural rubber, carbon black, polyester fabric, and steel wire, tires stay in the environment a long time. Today a typical tire consists of about 28 percent natural rubber, 28 percent synthetic rubber (made from oil), and 28 percent carbon black filler—a material produced by the incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum products. Anywhere from 15 to 38 liters of oil is used to make a standard tire. The remaining 16 percent of the tire is composed of different functional agents such as Softeners (hydrocarbon oil, resins), Antidegradants (para-phenylenediamine, paraffin), Curatives (sulfur, sulfemamides) and Activators (zinc oxide, stearic acid). If tires burn - it is an extremely toxic coctail, both for the atmosphere and nearby groundwater. Hopefully, the future holds promise, as manufacturers are now testing more sustainable ingredients.

The use of scrap tire chips for landscaping has become controversial, due to the leaching of metals and other contaminants from the tire pieces. Tires can concentrate (up to 2% by weight) zinc to levels high enough to be extremely toxic to aquatic life and plants."

And that's just the tires-- something to think about regarding "car advantage".

My long ago love in university had no car for the first couple of years. Waiting on the bus stop's simple wooden bench, long blond hair awave in the morning's breeze, she several times had men walk up or pull up in their cars offering propositions, exposure, or in the midst of onanism.

I've had hoots/hollers while rollerblading from a group of women, for example, and one presumably-gay guy smack my butt as he went by on his bike during a Critical Mass ride, etc.. I guess I should have had a car (or less "critical mass").

In any case, these are a little different from getting killed or seriously injured by a car, whether while driving it or by hitting someone with it. How safe is that?

Also, with regard to certain forms of abuse, the statistics appear to heavily-skew toward the victims already knowing the perpetrators. Small help a car would seem for that.

"I've had hoots/hollers while rollerblading from a group of women..."
...Were you terrified and repelled? Did it bring you face to face with the fact that you could not withdraw from or avoid the situation without sacrificing your future or your independence or just even the ability to enjoy a simple convenience?


"...nearly 64 percent of Japanese women in their 20s and 30s said they've been groped on trains, subways or at transit stations in the city.

"...eve teasing usually occurs in public places, streets, and public transport."

A sign outside of a bicycle parking lot in Chiba, Japan, warns "Beware of (sexual assaults)".

Idealism is great. It is not an ideal world.

Indeed, it is not an ideal world.
Men and women, girls and boys, etc., all suffer differently from different forms of oppression, discrimination, abuse and so forth. And maybe, maybe often, one issue with one sex is a different, if related, issue with the other sex on the other side of the same coin. Maybe let's take a look at those male perpetrators. Which is not to excuse any kind of behavior like that.

Perhaps the dynamics have changed since, but ages ago, I placed my name on something like a local/municipal babysitting list and actually had some media outlet call me because I may have been the only male on that list or something. It actually creeped me out enough, that I decided against babysitting after that. You can probably guess how that kind of issue relates to others.
Too bad, because some kids, who I'd babysat before, of a divorced single mother, asked me if I could be their dad-- just like that-- out of their own words and volition.

Anyway, and again, maybe it's changed (although it doesn't look like some of it has) but I've actually written about this kind of thing quite some time ago-- possibly with inclusions of stats for the murder of men outnumbering the murder of women, gender-related military statistics, or how boys are raised compared with how girls are, etc.-- and don't really want to get into it again. And I did write, 'In any case...'.

The car strikes me (pun intended too I guess) as a ridiculous excuse for safety when it seems, generally or fundamentally, nothing of the sort and in fact, quite the opposite.


Eek! A Male!
Treating all men as potential predators doesn't make our kids safer.

"And so it goes these days, when almost any man who has anything to do with a child can find himself suspected of being a creep. I call it "Worst-First" thinking: Gripped by pedophile panic, we jump to the very worst, even least likely, conclusion first. Then we congratulate ourselves for being so vigilant.

Consider the Iowa daycare center where Nichole Adkins works. The one male aide employed there, she told me in an interview, is not allowed to change diapers. "In fact," Ms. Adkins said, "he has been asked to leave the classroom when diapering was happening."

Now, a guy turned on by diaper changes has got to be even rarer than a guy turned on by Sponge Bob. But "Worst-First" thinking means suspecting the motives of any man who chooses to work around kids.


"...best-selling author Jared Diamond joins us to discuss his latest book “The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?” The author of “Collapse” and “Guns, Germs and Steel”, and a professor of geography at UCLA, he spent decades with tribes in the remote New Guinea highlands and he brings the wisdom of the natural world back to our troubled “civilized” lives..."

One concept was reasonable caution. He wanted to lunch under a tree, but the New Guineans pointed out that the tree was dead and so they refused. Now, the chances of that tree dropping a branch right then was vanishingly small... maybe one in a thousand. But, if you're living there and doing this every day and several times a day, under a dead tree, this will soon enough get you killed.

Dead trees are well known for dropping branches or simply falling over... "Widow Makers". I used to listen to the big Oaks drop huge limbs out on the mountain. Not during rains and storms so much, but days afterward.

re: dead branches...

I spend a lot of time in the woods, and have had a few close calls with big dead branches falling. Unless they hit other branches on their way down, it's usually silent when they let go. Only once was I actually hit, by quite a small branch, and it rang my bell pretty hard. It's sort of a joke among me and my friends that that's how I'm going to go out - but maybe not so funny!

Well what's reasonable?
Why stop with the ones that appear dead? What about all trees? Or maybe a coconut will fall on your head.
How about burning them all down, or at least "circumcising" all their large, dangling branches. Certainly both sexes suffer differently from that in various cultures.

Or why are the trees dying in the first place? Maybe there are some that are poisoned by the culture around them-- the soil, climate change, unusual diseases, artificial fires, etc.?

Reasonable caution against possible symptoms seems less effective than reasonable caution against their real potential fundamental causes, while the former may feed into itself, creating knock-on effects, such as fulfilling its own prophesies, and/or working against (even thinking of) real or more effective solutions/responses or to better understandings of the fundamentals.

Like the military industrial complex, where ostensibly an increasing number making some mention of anti-government sentiment are to be considered with 'reasonable caution' and placed on some obscure terrorist list-- maybe even targeted with various methods and hardware.

Supposedly, according to a few sources I've caught over time, some of us live in a 'patriarchal/hypermasculine' society-- whatever those exactly mean-- but they seem to mean some things.

Maybe that's kind of in part why Earth is getting clobbered, along with our girls and boys, men and women, and those others who don't fit neatly into one or the other category.

Or maybe a coconut will fall on your head.

That actually is a danger. Lots of coconut trees in Hawaii, but very few coconuts. Years ago, a toddler was killed when coconuts fell on her. Since then, most coconut trees are trimmed of their fruit before they get big enough to be dangerous.

In Hawaii, an American of Japanese ancestry who was born and raised on the mainland (rather than in Hawaii) is called a "katonk." There are different explanations for the origins of the name, but one common one is that they're called katonks because, unlike locals, they stand under coconut trees. "Katonk" is the sound a coconut makes bouncing off their heads.

Yes I know, Leanan, although I appreciate the cute anecdote. That was part of my point.

More of a danger than some would think. Two young gringos were walking down our sea front when I saw a coconut fall 1 - 2 feet behind one of them. They walked on, chatting, blissfully unaware as to how close they came to a holiday being completely ruined. I am in the habit of looking up and checking before sitting under coconut trees, since.


Wow, quite an exegesis from a branch falling on one's head!

Ultimate causes of tree death
Military Industrial complex
being placed on a terrorist list
'patriarchal/hypermasculine' society
why Earth is getting clobbered
diversely gendered people getting clobbered

Sometimes a falling tree branch is just a falling tree branch!

Yes, I had fun with that. (And don't forget the Nuremberg Defense.)

Sometimes a falling tree branch is just a falling tree branch! ~sgage

That's the point and it's ok: You'll be protected in your car.

Ah yes, the Nurembeg Defense. "I was just obeying orders" :-)

Alas (hurrah!) I won't be protected in my car - I am generally on foot in the woods :-)

Yes but at least it's not a man.
Certainly more effective, (although it doesn't really help Leanan's case, does it? ;), but I still prefer this one because of the graffiti/attitude. Safer for the occupant too.


Coming up: The Parable of The Tribes (as seen on this Drumbeat!)-- with ours as 'Takers'-- Children's violent video games, The Military Industrial Complex, Violence-based/coercive culture/government, wage-slavery, taxation, the "arbitrary" 40-hour workweek/rat-race/The Police's Synchronicity 2, Illusion, Leanan's ride, speaking to people still inside The Matrix/their car, and why you should care!

Join the dots, Kal'... What do you see?

Thanks for that. Looks indicative of a culture that has begun to munch on its own tail...

More from your article...

...BBC News reported the story of a bricklayer who spotted a toddler at the side of the road. As he later testified at a hearing, he didn't stop to help for fear he'd be accused of trying to abduct her. You know: A man driving around with a little girl in his car? She ended up at a pond and drowned.

We think we're protecting our kids by treating all men as potential predators. But that's not a society that's safe. Just sick.

I once had a job near a minibus taxi (jitney) terminus and started taking the taxi to work. But the day I had to work late then wait for an hour in the poorly-lighted terminus with unsavoury characters skulking around, I decided the fear and anxiety I felt weren't worth whatever I was saving by using public transport.

hey paleo, I have the utmost respect for your point of view but I'm very uncomfortable with your framing a preference for driving over public transport as a universal safety issue for women. I did a little digging because I was curious to see some statistics. What I found was not quite what I expected and I have to agree that globally violence against women is a very grave concern. However public transport is not where it generally occurs. There may indeed be a perception that that is where the problem lies and therefore people may choose to drive because of that perception. But the facts say otherwise.

Generally speaking most violence against women does not happen at the hands of complete strangers, it is much more likely to happen in the home at the hands of spouses or family members. This seems to be the case all over the world and accross all cultures. Humans obviously have a long way to go before we can put the issue of violence against women to rest.

From a study done by The United Nations Development Fund for Women

Fast Facts: Statistics on Violence against Women and Girls

Between 15 and 76 percent of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their
lifetime, according to the available country data. Most of this violence takes place within
intimate relationships, with many women (ranging from 9 to 70 percent) reporting their
husbands or partners as the perpetrator.

BTW here are some statistics that really shocked me.

Sexual Harassment

Between 40 and 50 percent of women in European Union countries experience
unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at

Across Asia, studies in Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea show that 30 to
40 percent of women suffer workplace sexual harassment.

In Nairobi, 20 percent of women have been sexually harassed at work or school.

In the United States, 83 percent of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual
harassment in public schools.

So much for progressive and civilized Europe!

And it would seem that compared to the US Public School system the subways and buses are a veritable sanctuary for women. I'm not just saying that to be trite. The statistics back me up!

I'll bet that even in India despite the recent gang rape of a young woman on a public bus, having been in the News, an Indian woman is in greater danger in her own home. The real problem seems to be that there is a widespread ingrained culture of violence against women being acceptable in many societies.

In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown
number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or

Violence against women and girls has many manifestations, including forms that may be more
common in specific settings, countries and regions.

Violence against women manifests itself as physical, sexual, emotional and economic. The most
universally common forms include domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual violence
(including rape), sexual harassment, and emotional/psychological violence. Sexual violence as a
tactic of warfare and in the aftermath of emergencies is also common in the respective
countries and areas affected.

Let's work on stopping all violence against women anywhere in the world. But let's not use that as an excuse not to use public transportation as opposed to driving cars.

I don't really want to take away from what you are saying but I take the EU figures with a pinch of salt. When in the UK it seemed that even glancing at a woman could get classed as harassment. I gave up things like holding doors open due to the negative reactions I got 'Think I'm not capable of opening a door by myself' - yeesh!


Paleo, you really don't want to upset a bunch of Mexican women on our local buses. Believe me, on some journeys they make me scared.


What is the progress on holding former U.S. president George W. Bush accountable?

The Koch Brothers are old and will probably die a natural death before anything happens to them.

Rupert Murdoch, 81 years old, (Fox News) is likely to meet the same fate.

I have not heard anything about the Occupy Wall Street Movement lately. Obama seems to have squished them like an annoying bug.

British Petroleum (BP-Macondo oil well blowout) and Exxon (Valdez oil spill) still exist.

Big bankers are still squeezing life out of everyone. Being expendable, some of them might pay for it some day.

Catabolic collapse is probably slow enough that most of the players (deceivers) will escape any wrath.

If at some time the consumers shut down what remains of the fossil and nuclear energy companies, then there will be less energy available to them. No food, no heat, no transportation.... The consumers will have other problems to worry about besides revenge. He who has control of the fossil energy will have more power than he who does not. As the Nazi rocket scientists were useful to the Allied powers after World War 2, so will be the fossil fuel companies to whomever is in charge.


"Are humans smarter than yeast?"

Who was it that said "The yeast of ye shall be the greatest?"

There are different forms of greatness, the sadomasochists are the yeast now, but that will change.

Don't know but then there's "blessed are the yeast, for they shall inherit the Earth". How utterly true. Or my fav movie, "The Beauty and the Yeast".

"Yeast of Eden" was a bit more fermentatious; quite the classic :-0

Sounds like some are still kicking back its products. ;) ...Jan 3rd. (two days, post peak)... What's the expression? 'A poison that kills slowly'?
(...thoughts of our own products...)

90% of the yeast attack the other 10% of the yeast. See Egypt for the outcome. It does not fix the problem. The vast majority of the yeast have to die. The survivors are spores waiting for the environment to recover. If humans can not do better than yeast, then who will be the spores? The wealthy, the lucky, the cursed?

On a related note here's Ran's Jan 1 post...he echoes my thoughts.

Ten years ago it really seemed like the whole system was about to come apart. People who saw a crash coming were seeing things that were being ignored by people who expected business as usual. Yet we were still wrong. After seeing how little daily life has changed after the 2008 financial collapse, seven years with global oil production on a plateau, and two catastrophic hurricanes, I think the big mistake of doomers was assuming that failures would have positive feedback like a house of cards. At this point, anyone still using the "house of cards" metaphor is not a serious analyst but an entertainer. It's clear that the interconnectedness of modern complex systems makes them stronger, not weaker.

This is especially true of technological systems. I no longer expect any kind of tech crash, except that resource-intensive benefits like driving and eating meat will become more expensive and less available to poor people. Economies will collapse as they adjust to decades of zero or negative growth, weaker nations and businesses will fail, but computers will continue to get stronger, and manufacturing will adapt to resource decline by becoming more efficient and better able to compete with human workers. At the same time, no government that can possibly avoid it will allow its citizens to starve, so there will be even more subsidies for industrially produced human dog food.

Over the next few decades I see the global system passing through a bottleneck as it shifts from nonrenewable to renewable resources. We fantasize about apocalypse because we want the world to get looser, but I see it getting crappier and tighter. When we emerge from the bottleneck, life will get nicer... but are we coming out of the bottle, or going in? I think the "singularity" will match its meaning in astrophysics: the center of a black hole, with 90% of increasing computing power being used to stop the other 10% from doing anything interesting. I imagine an airtight sci-fi utopia/dystopia, where almost everything will be automated, nobody will have to do any work, everyone will be comfortable and safe, and we will have amazing powers to entertain ourselves. Other than that, we will have less power than any people in history or prehistory. The world will be lifeless and meaningless, a human museum, a suicide machine. Making the world alive again will be our next challenge.

For those of you who don't read his blog here's the link http://www.ranprieur.com/

"Making the world alive again will be our next challenge."

Jeez, I was waiting for him to get around to the biosphere. I guess that was it. Since it seems to me that this is fundamental to 'bottleneck'; the inability of the environment to support,, whatever it is a species does, he may have started there. Challenge, indeed... one we'll get around to at some point?

And in that same paragraph he said this:

I imagine an airtight sci-fi utopia/dystopia, where almost everything will be automated, nobody will have to do any work, everyone will be comfortable and safe, and we will have amazing powers to entertain ourselves.

Is he serious? That statement just blows me away. Things will get better and better in spite of peak oil and other declining natural resources. Worn out farmland will magically rejuvenate itself. Water tables in India and China that are falling by several meters a year will start to rise again. Rivers, like China's Yellow River that reaches the sea only a few months a year will start to flow fully again. Disappearing forests will sprout again from the denuded and washed up land. And the thousands of species that have gone extinct will magically reappear. And the Iowa pheasants will come back and fly free again with no hunters to shoot them. (Link up top) As Pheasants Disappear, Hunters in Iowa Follow

Yes, yes, making the world alive again will be our next challenge but we can pull it off. Yeah right!

Ron P.

Ran is a strange cat, and loves being the iconoclast/contrarian whenever it suits him. He doesn't see a technology crash, because for all of his anti-civ writing, he really loves technology - he loves video games, and the idea of augmented reality and virtual reality and such, and thinks they're important. Etc., etc. Plus he's getting older, settling down a bit, and recanting/rewriting a lot of his stuff. He goes back and rewrites stuff a lot.

If you've read him for any length of time, you will see that his blog is just him thinking out loud, which is fun, and sometimes provides food for thought, but I wouldn't characterize him as a particularly deep thinker, nor one to be taken particularly seriously.

I don't agree with him on all counts but on two counts I appreciate his stuff...one that he goes back and changes his opinion based on his and other people's experiences (there are several bloggers who are just stuck with a single view) the second being that he is very articulate like JMG, for example when he describes feeling alive after a hurricane or a natural disaster because we are spared the monotony of daily life.

Several readers here are taking his comments at face value, not to defend him or anything but I think you have to read him regularly to separate out the chaff from the wheat, statements like "feeling alive" etc. Of course he writes strange stuff as well like his views on 9/11.

One thing I do appreciate about his way of blogging is that when he _does_ go back and rewrite something, he announces what he has changed and why. I didn't mean to suggest he sneakily changes the record, as it were.

This prediction about automation was made decades ago and, of course did not come to pass because we cling to the notion that work is required to be supported by society and the fact that the corporations have learned to get the most possible labor for the least possible remuneration. Millions of people cannot even live on one wage and yet we have a prediction that they won't have to work at all for a living wage. There are also all the issues that you bring up but even they were not the constraining issues, we are do not live in a society that would tolerate people being paid on a mass basis a living wage without putting in at least their eight hours of drudgery.

Productivity through automation and other means continues but the average worker does not reap the benefit of this additional productivity. The rich get richer and the poor and the middle class stagnate at best.

I think the prediction about automation made decades ago was correct, but the assumed effects turned out to be completely wrong. The devil is in the detail. Leisure time and unemployment are broadly the same, but the details are very different.

Automation has never benefited the average worker and never will. And yet our future is going to be increasingly automated. Lots of leisure time coming to all, albeit, not as they would expect it to be.

Income accrues to the owners of the means of production.

If your hands are no longer valued as a means of production you had better own land or capital goods or have a government job; otherwise you're SOL.

I did not mean to say there would not be automation just that the economic system only rewards those who own the means of production. One can argue that he who has the means should reap the rewards but eventually those with the capital will not have any customers to ensure an adequate return on their capital.

One of the impetuses for a guaranteed annual income proposed decades ago was that we then had the means through modern productivity to provide a minimum livelihood for everyone without tying it to a work requirement. Besides, at the same time, we could eliminate all the various and complicated income and food support programs in the process. One of the key arguments against GAI and welfare is that this will sap the desire for work and eventually damage society by bringing down the total product produced. Even if one stipulates that this is a valid argument, we reached a level of GDP a long time ago that had a net negative effect on our environmental sustainability and natural capital availability. There are theoretical arguments that we can grow without destroying the environmental basis of our livelihood but I have yet to see this in action and don't see us as sophisticated enough to pull this off anyway.

I think with technological advances the means of production is becoming more affordable. The possibility of small scale manufacturing and services may well create new cottage industries along with economic rewards. One man automated mini-industries.

What are those technological advances; who's got the handle on them; and what does 'affordable' mean? Affordable in what ways, or to whom or what?

I am tempted to say that I'm with Ghung regarding their comment below on decomplexity. What about the Matrix, Burgundy, that we previously referred to a little? How do tech advances imprison us if they do? Which ones don't, if any, etc.?

What are those technological advances; who's got the handle on them; and what does 'affordable' mean? Affordable in what ways, or to whom or what?

Hang on it's not black and white. In some aspects it's true. I can now use cheap micro controllers and add-ons to build stuff that even 10 years could not have been done by a hobbyist, stuff like 3D printing etc. Internet has also enabled a lot of DIY tech. Embedded computing gets cheaper every day, a $35 Raspberry Pi has more computing power than those early Cray XMP's which cost millions of dollars.

Every technology imprisons you, even building a fire is technology, a knife is a technology and so is the sword. I have changed my views regarding technology lately, I no longer see it as a human mistake, merely as a part of natural process. I will give you an example (read it from a book, don't recollect the name)

Imagine there are two tribes (say pre bronze age civilizations) who are at war with each other, now suddenly you introduce bronze knives into this mix which gives one tribe a distinct advantage over the other. Now the question is what does the other tribe do ? They have three choices. 1. Run away (the other tribe wins and technology stays) 2. Build better knives themselves to compete(technology stays and gets bigger) 3. Not do anything (they get killed and technology stays).

The result of every scenario is the same, technology stays and probably grows until the environment no longer supports it. It's no surprise that war time is the most productive period for new inventions. Most of our current tech is in any case an offshoot of work that started in WWII and continued through the Cold War.

This is (Schmookler's?) Parable of the Tribes applied to technology. Works the same. In the original, it is warring, dominant, 'Taker' tribes that give neighboring tribes no option to survive. The peaceful, get along, 'Leaver' tribes are eliminated, overrun or subsumed, leaving only us - the warring, dominating, consume everything mega tribe. End result? Stay tuned, you have a front row seat.

TP, firstly, incredible computing power is available to the individual. Initially only in the digital world, but increasingly in the real world with robotics, etc. Components are becoming ever cheaper, Arduino, Rasberri Pi, etc. As wiseindian mentioned. Plus the open source movement which is fostering a tremendous amount of innovation and utilising the internet to make it widely available and free. Remote monitoring and activation are now possible to the individual cheaply and can be controlled by computers or even the internet.

For example; it is now within the purview of an individual to put together an aquaponics production system where the environment is monitored, autonomously or computer controlled, either locally or over the internet and powered by PV panels. Using cheap components, open source technology and diy skills obtained from the internet. A semi-automated system such as this would give an enormous advantage to someone going the self-sufficiency route, freeing up time for other important work that needs to be undertaken. Also going this route will become increasingly imperative due to climate change and the need to grow food in controlled environments due to the unreliability/failure of traditional systems in a 2-4degree World.

On the Matrix. Our World is now controlled by two competing systems, Nature and Technology, each governed by the simple rules of natural and technological evolution. We humans are the only creature that happen to live and be controlled by both systems. We're also at a junction where we need both systems to survive, we can live in neither system independently nor can we as humans live independently from each other. We need a successful way to interact with the two controlling systems and our own human society in a way that allows us to live as best we can without being totally overwhelmed, assimilated or destroyed by them.

So the grand plan is; a resilient (ie. complex) diy mash-up of technological and natural systems linked directly to a local community/economy and at arms length through the internet to the global community/economy. I also believe this is achievable and everything we need to do it is available right now. The downside is that the headwinds and chaos of climate change, financial collapse and peak everything is beginning to make it frustratingly difficult to get on with it.

Fair enough and thanks for the elaboration.

I imagine you're already aware of the idea of peak internet and peak government, for examples, and the complex interconnectedness of systems (which some have suggested are more resilient than imagined, with others disagreeing) dependent on/required for either.

One concern is with your suggestion of going down a certain kind of technological path that proves impossible, and by doing so, threatens to push us even further into dead ends that can't be easily backed out of, if at all.

In any case, as clifman mentioned, this really seems to be a front row seat, such as to some sort of wrestling match within and between various forces.

What are those technological advances; who's got the handle on them; and what does 'affordable' mean?

I can provide one modest example, perhaps.

After retiring early (at 55) from many years in the Australian Public Service, I started a one-person label design+print business - a cottage industry indeed, all happening from the third bedroom of our home. No commuting, no factories or major overheads.

A fast printer ($18K), a laminator/diecutter ($14K), and the Adobe suite of design software - is all the investment I needed to start. Making labels mostly for small boutique food, wine, and olive oil producers in regional areas, I am riding a wave of consumer demand for local, hand-made, organic foods - a movement that is quite big and not slowing (at least in those Western nations that can afford it).

I am using technological advances to make very acceptable cheap products that would not have have been possible 20 - even 10 - years ago. It would have required very expensive equipment, and a long apprenticeship in the printing industry for me. Not any more.

I do concede of course that I am totally dependent on the fossil fuel industry ultimately (to make the label stock, to ship my products to far-flung clients, etc), but my overall carbon footprints are pretty modest.

"And yet our future is going to be increasingly automated."

Speak for yourself. I prefer to head into the space and freedom found in decomplexity. What strikes me is how willing folks are to accept the increasing complexity and automation being foisted on them, freeing them to do what? Serve complexity? While I have my gadgets, I try to avoid anything that doesn't pass the 'appropriate technology' smell test (solves a problem without creating more and is a means to an end - an end in itself that doesn't become obsolete).

The sun rises, the sun sets - automatically.

The sun rises, the sun sets - automatically.

Nothing automatic about it >;-)


I built that. It works automatically :-0

Ghung, I understand where you're coming from, me too. But, there's always a but, you're life and mine are probably even more complex now than before. In a sense we, as human beings, are going to have to increase the complexity in order to survive. If we go the for decentralisation for example and civilisation breaks up into small autonomous self sufficient units, overall complexity increases. If people start producing their own electricity and energy, complexity increases.

Self-sufficiency will increasingly become automated, like everything else, because we mere mortals cannot cope with the increasing complexity that is required to keep us alive. And, importantly, in our degraded world it will probably take more than a day's human labour to keep a human alive for a day. We will need to augment our own labour with automation as individuals or workers to undertake all the tasks required of us in the time available.

That reminds me of what some have said here: catabolic collapse is the real doomer scenario.

Catabolic collapse is hard to discount if one considers that it has been underway for decades. That said, human systems, and the systems they rely upon are not immune to inflection points. The more stress there is in the system, the greater potential for larger and more time-compressed change. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Perhaps I over-estimate the levels of stress building up in our systems... If so, I'm in pretty good company.

It's clear that the interconnectedness of modern complex systems makes them stronger, not weaker.

This is the core of the quote.

We often tend to see the complexity of our whole techno/economic system as unsustainably so. We do that with a brain that is incomprehensibly more complex than the simple bacteria in our gut that help keep that brain nourished...get my point...

We really are way too close to see the whole of what is going on. All might appear a much smoother process if we just had enough distance to get a good perspective, after all get far enough away from anything and the messiness that is its very essence blends into an ordered whole...

...of course in this case there are no cheap seats out past the turmoil from which to watch it all

It's clear that the interconnectedness of modern complex systems makes them stronger, not weaker.

It is the redundancy built into the capitalist system that makes it strong and keeps it from crashing when things go wrong. Back in the days of the old Soviet Union they sole sourced almost everything because the government thought that would make it more efficient. They were right of course but when the ball bearing plant had to close because of a fire, or something else, the whole system, if it required ball bearings, came to a halt.

It is not complexity that makes modern systems strong, it is redundancy. Almost all of the complex technological systems we have today have redundancy built into them. But if there is one link that is not redundant, and that link breaks, the whole system will come to a halt until that one link is restored. And if it cannot be restored then the whole house of cards will come crashing down.

Ron P.

It is the government-meddled capitalist system which does not allow monopolies to form and busts cartels which keeps that redundancy.

Our new wave of corporate-owned government has allowed true capitalists to form "too big to fail" banks and "too big to fail" car companies. Now with the Euro, Europe has a too big to fail currency.

Hell, HSBC laundered money for Al Qaeda and Mexican drug cartels and the CEO and board are "too big to prosecute" because it would possibly cause them to lose their banking license in the United States and would cause "panic" that could collapse the US banking system. I wish I were joking.


"Had the US authorities decided to press criminal charges, HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking licence in the US, the future of the institution would have been under threat and the entire banking system would have been destabilised."

What I don't get is that (relatively) well published incidents like the HSBC one don't lead to any noise from the public, let alone action.

When the government is absurdly lenient, can you be certain that the transactions were not preauthorize by the government to track the bad guys? Bernanke might have sent the money to HSBC to pay the billion dollar fine. Remember this is the same government (Bush 2, Obama) that pardoned telcom companies for spying in Americans and continues to spy on them in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

pardoned telcom companies for spying in Americans
Shouldn't that be more like "leaned on the telecoms to spy for them the pardons were pre-agreed incentives.

Of course the sheeple, are just fine with the spying. It makes them feel safer. So the politicians give them what they want.

'The public' has no interest in anything beyond American Idol and the Superbowl. Panem et circensus...

Come on.. all that does is make terms like 'The Public' comepletely meaningless.

Who was it exactly who circled and stuffed the Madison Wisconsin Statehouse last year?

The public consists of a lot of uncontrollable variety and surprises, as do a great majority of the individuals IN this public. You might find that there are American Idol fans who are also PO aware, who are working hard to apply science to public policy, who are devoted to ending Corporate Personhood, or who are stridently opposed to having any sort of powered vehicle.

We are all part of the problem(s) and we are all part of the solution(s) ...

and All Generalizations are Wrong.

Generalizations wrong - yes. But often a lot of truth in them. If there's not truth in this one, then explain Weekend Peak's point above - why no 'public' reaction to the HSBC scandal. Or, of course, to lots of other issues. Given what's going on climatologically and ecologically, never mind economically, 'the public' should be marching in the streets, demanding powerdown, forcing a reset of the basic assumptions of industrial society. But instead... crickets. Sure, a few are aware and care and an even fewer try to do something. But generally - not.

'Why aren't we, they, marching in the streets? ' (are you?) Cheap Bread and Circuses aren't the cause, they are simply another symptom or byproduct of why.. even a great many of the meagre few (it would seem) who get it are probably, like me, trying to keep that last nostril above sea-level and to lee long enough to put another breath into savings every couple minutes..

'Honey, did you find a job?' (Working on it, dear!) .. Sweetie, what's our carbon footprint.. and do you think we should keep her in piano lessons?.. how about Trapeze? It's driving, but it's her Education.. ?? and Did you look into having our Water-feed checked by the plumbers like the city suggested, or do we think it'll hold another few years? Can't we just BUY the firewood this year? '

No, there ARE people doing what you said, but of course their efforts are anti Status Quo enough that they won't really be something you can put a finger on, like you can with American Idol,.. I went to the Portland McKibben talk last month and it was SOLD OUT, as he said ALL the other ones were, as well.. and he said the issue of Rolling Stone with Justin Bieber on the cover ('18, HOT and READY!') and his article deep inside about the suffering Ecosphere was, surprise of surprises, getting the Magazine all this feedback on McKibben's Heat, not Justin's..

Look, I don't pretend that it's enough, or that 'our people are well enough on board with it'.. of course not.. but I think it's just backwards to make broadside hits against 'the public' like that.. there's just so much bashing of these overarching vague groupings.. People are all over the map on all of this stuff. People are trying to figure out what's going on, which 'issue of the week' is real and which is the Mayan calendar, which is ranting hyperbole, what foods are ok to eat, which pundit MIGHT be worth listening to.. etc.. So when I hear what comes off as rantery from our ranks, I really have to object, since I know how it is going to turn off people who would really love to just hear some clear information without thinking they're going to get berated and spat on in the process. This is why I think Kunstler's little spiel of cathartic jowl-shaking against a few easy Working Class Totems is so counterproductive to getting some useful ideas out into the room, and why I've been SO grateful that for the most part, the Oil Drum is one of a very few places where that is possible. (C-Span's 'Washington Journal' is almost the only other one I can think of..)

Rereading the above.. RE: HSBC.. well yes, as you said, it's Indignation Fatigue .. it's 'Let's worry about survival for a while.. all that news is just going to make me lose it, I swear!' .. I mean, after UBS a few months ago, all the different banking outrages, on top of the most monied Election in US history.. all over squabble.. How can normal humans take this level of fabricated intensity without tuning it all out after a while?

You all might be interested in the Wobblies, a movement from the early 1900's that was crushed and rebranded before we were born.


The IWW's efforts were met with violent reactions from all levels of government, from company management and their agents, and from groups of citizens functioning as vigilantes.

...war represents struggles among capitalists in which the rich become richer, and the working poor all too often die at the hands of other workers.

The government used World War I as an opportunity to crush the IWW. In September 1917, U.S. Department of Justice agents made simultaneous raids on forty-eight IWW meeting halls across the country.

They were different from "craft unions" (like the electrical workers) in that they wanted to organize the people and the means of production.

"Pie in the sky" comes from a song to counteract management's sending in of the Salvation Army band to cover up the Wobbly speakers.

But if there is one link that is not redundant, and that link breaks, the whole system will come to a halt until that one link is restored. And if it cannot be restored then the whole house of cards will come crashing down.

Nah, could never happen!

At this point, anyone still using the "house of cards" metaphor is not a serious analyst but an entertainer.

Thanks for the entertainment, Ron! >;-)

Remember after the tsunami in Japan how for a while some cars made in the US were only available in some colors, since a factory destroyed in Japan was the sole source for some car paint materials.

Similarly, after flooding in Thailand hard drive prices worldwide spiked, since hard drive manufacturing was concentrated there.

He is mixing LSD with steroids and cornucopia.

"I imagine an airtight sci-fi utopia/dystopia, where almost everything will be automated, nobody will have to do any work, everyone will be comfortable and safe, and we will have amazing powers to entertain ourselves."

And then on your 30th birthday, Carousel. You just know there will be a catch somewhere; although Jenny Agutter in a miniskirt almost makes it worth it.


I got the impression that Stuart Staniford is expecting a similar future. Only, no Carousel. The catch is only a few will get to be Alphas. The rest of us will have to work, and will live far poorer and more difficult lives than we do now. And everyone, rich and poor, will be under the watchful eye of Big Brother.

Written by Ran and posted by wiseindian:
... where almost everything will be automated, nobody will have to do any work....

It is a God given right for there to be one Star Trek matter replicator in every home! /sarcasm

I think the big mistake of doomers was assuming that failures would have positive feedback like a house of cards.

I think this mistaken assumption has now been flipped. Since we had a serious financial/fuel price problem which didn't set off a house-of-cards collapse, then that will obviously not happen? This, imho, is also a faulty presumption. Granted, the PTB will prop everything up at all costs, I think that by the 3rd or 4th serious breakdown, the dominoes WILL continue falling and cascade through the system, and we will get those positive feedback issues that will create a larger collapse.

..we are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change.

I have said, perhaps two dozen times on this list, that the vast majority of people cannot be convinced by argument but only by events. If it is an inconvenient truth then it must happen before they will believe a word of it. People are very slowly starting to believe in climate change because it is happening right now. Rising seas and melting glaciers are hard to deny for most people because they are in the news every day. But it still has not had much of an effect on their lives so most people are not concerned enough to really do anything.

People will believe in peak oil only after the peak is several years in the past. People will believe that that the decline in liquid fuels will have devastating effects on the economy only after it happens. Even then they will likely blame it on something or someone else.

Again, events, never argument, can change people's behavior. And when the event happens, that means it is too late to do anything about it.

Ron P.

IMO, the elephant in the room is that the growth rates we consider normal are no longer possible due to the elevated cost of energy (especially oil). The number of people who understand this seems insignificant in comparison to the number who understand climate change. The things we need to be doing to deal with climate change and peak oil are being put on hold while we wait for an economic recovery that isn't going to happen.

So true, and sadly so.

Except for the spikes caused by the 1973 Arab oil embargo and the 1979 Iranian revolution, the price of oil, adjusted for inflation, essentially bounced around twenty dollars a barrel for over 100 years. But around the end of the century oil prices began to go up.

Now the average person believes that what made this country a great and invincible world leader, was the irrepressible drive, creative intellect, and stalwart goodness of her people, but it was actually cheap energy. The fruits of the inventor's genius were borne on the flames of cheap energy. Liquid fuel mobilized this country, making possible the commerce and agriculture while coal stoked the fires of manufacturing.

Almost every aspect of modern life is dependent on something we found - discovered - didn't invent, and it now costs five times as much as it did while we enjoyed our century of growth.

It's over now folks.

Passing through World War 2 with industry intact and exporting products to rebuild the world played a significant role. Otherwise the U.S. probably would have returned to the Great Depression after the war.

Don't forget the "stimulus" effect of multi billions of dollars burned up in military adventures and the manufacture of millions of tons of war materials that were never used, then disposed of as they became obsolete as military flights of imagination created new enemies and new combat scenarios. All of this created millions of high paying jobs dragging raw materials out of the earth and processing those materials into essentially worthless sh!!t.

that the growth rates we consider normal are no longer possible due to the elevated cost of energy (especially oil).

Depends on where you live. In my neck of the woods, the growth rates we consider normal are no longer possible due to a result of the elevated cost of energy (especially oil), since the oil shocks of the seventies.

The growth rates you consider normal are what our leaders dream of but, have not seen since the late sixties!

Alan from the islands

"We" won't evolve. Those few who manage, if they manage, to emerge from the slime after the total economic and ecological collapse may learn something and perhaps they will pass some information on to their descendants which will help them survive in a world largely unbearable and largely bereft of the necessary resources to run a modern society. Given a world where all the low hanging and high quality resources are gone, the remaining resources require tremendous energy and technological prowess to extract. Those few remaining will not have the necessary resources to extract what remains after the collapse. Perhaps they can scratch out some sort of subsistence somewhere that has not been completely decimated by global warming.

Evolution requires time to result in the necessary changes in DNA, mental processes, and behavioral characteristics. I don't think we have enough time left to make the necessary adjustments, assuming that there are really any adjustments at this point which will make any difference.

In the last 20 years, I have seen very few changes in behavior, and those changes have been made at the margin by relatively few people. And today I go to the sandwich shop and a man in the shop takes his sweet time getting his sandwich while leaving his Ford 350 out in the parking lot running. God forbid that he might have to turn off his heater for 10 minutes.

The musings of Oil-Qaeda CEO's

Oil-Qaeda? Really? They are just greedy people trying to make a buck like most people. I don't believe they have any ill-intent against anyone. They've just rationalized away the downsides like climate change with denial.

Do you really think there is some guy in a chair stroking a cat saying "Muhahaha . . . I can't wait until there are more victims in sea-side communities!"?

Brazil Pre-Salt Report

Leonardo Maugeri, in his much touted Harvard Kennedy Belfer Center report: Oil: The Next Revolution, has Brazil oil production at 4.5 mb/d in 2020, an increase of over 2.5 mb/d from what they are producing today. That is highly unlikely. In fact Brazil will be doing very good is they just hold their production at the level it is today, just under 2 mb/d.

The great expectations lean heavily on the much touted Pre-Salt fields discovered just a few years ago. Brazil's pre-salt crude production, in the last three years, has climbed to 181,567 barrels per day.

It is hard to tell just how many wells are drilled each year in the pre-salt. In November of 2010 they went from four wells to six then in March of 2011 they went back down to 4 again. But overall they are adding about 5 wells per year. In October they had 14 wells producing in the pre-salt area and they averaged 12,969 barrels from each well per day. That is down from an average, from 4 wells, of 20,589 barrels per day per well in March of 2011.

All this data can be found at: World Presalt Production

Brazil Pre-Salt Production, BOE, Crude and Gas-boe, in barrels per day. The last data point is October 2012.

Brazil Pre-Salt

Brazil Crude + Condensate production in kb/d. The last data point is September 2012

Ron P.

Thanks Ron

Really appreciate your efforts to constantly put "reality" data in front of people.

A friend (relative actually) recently told me he was not worried about peak oil because Brazil would soon ramp up their exports dramatically and keep us supplied for years.

When I told him that Brazil was not an oil exporter but an importer he busted out laughing and said "Wow I thought you were keeping up with the oil situation". After I tried to explain to him that peak oil was about production, not announced reserves or resources he just shook his head and repeated that he is not worried.

So when I tried to explain the difficulties of ever getting high production out of the Brazilian pre-salt announcements, he just waved that off with "all it takes is money". At that point I just decided to move on.

Brazil would soon ramp up their exports dramatically and keep us supplied for years.

LOL! You can tell him that the Brazilians, one, didn't get that memo! And two, they have a lot of other plans for all that oil they are supposed to be able to produce. The ELM bandit strikes again!

My wife was in Rio on business in October for the first time. From her meetings she got the feeling that people down there fully intend to use their oil to fuel their own growth. Also, have you noticed how quick the Brazilians were to sue (i.e. shake down) Chevron and Transocean over a relatively minor spill? Including possible jail terms? How comfortable do those companies feel doing business there?

Also, have you noticed how quick the Brazilians were to sue (i.e. shake down) Chevron and Transocean over a relatively minor spill? Including possible jail terms? How comfortable do those companies feel doing business there?

All they have to do is obey the law!

From the Brazilian Constitution, Adopted on Oct 5th, 1988:

Chapter VI Environment

Article 225 [Enviroment Protection]

(2) Those who explore mineral resources shall be required to restore the degraded environment according to the technical solution required by the proper government agency, according to the law.
(3) Conduct and activities considered harmful to the environment shall subject the individual or corporate wrongdoers to penal and administrative sanctions, in addition to the obligation to repair the damages caused.

Sure, that's all they have to do. Follow the law. Because we all know what a beacon of social justice Brazil is. Just look at the slums of Rio.

Brazil can do what they want, just as Chavez did in Venezuela, but will it get them any closer to their goal of increasing oil production in perhaps the most challenging environment currently being produced? When a relatively small spill (2,400 barrels) leads to an $11 billion lawsuit with threats of jail time, don't expect the oil companies to line up for contracts. Just one more reason why Brazil will not be riding to the rescue of a world starved for oil.


This fellow makes my point better than I could have:

"Unhappily, oil has become political; every prosecutor wants to get on television, and so we get absurd lawsuits like this," said Adriano Pires, director the Brazilian Infrastructure Center, a Rio de Janeiro firm that consults on oil and other energy projects. "Nothing is going to happen to Chevron. But what will happen is that it will scare investors; Brazil loses credibility, and the cost of investment goes up."

Brazil Sues Chevron for $11 Billion

FM - Another bit of info he might also scoff at is that for a couple of years Brazil has been expanding their LNG import capacity including one of the first floating regassification plants. Given how slowly their DW play is developing and their desire to grow their economy increasing energy imports shouldn't be a surprise.

I remember reading that Brazil actually imports bio-ethanol too, from US corn due to the subsidies. Unbelievable. Is this true? Can anyone provide data for this?

It's all very complicated due to US subsidies for celluosic ethanol blending
but apparently the Brazilian crop has been poor the last couple of years

Yep, where there is smoke there is fire, sad to say.

Speaking of biofuel..pre-apologies if this was covered before. The incident is a bit dated.

Why Did A Train Carrying Biofuel Cross The Border 24 Times And Never Unload?

Via James Burgess of OilPrice.com,

A cargo train filled with biofuels crossed the border between the US and Canada 24 times between the 15th of June and the 28th of June 2010; not once did it unload its cargo, yet it still earned millions of dollars. CBC News of Canada was the first to pick up on this story on the 3rd of December 2012, and began their own investigation into the possible explanations behind this odd behaviour.

CN Rail, the operator of the train, stated their innocence in the matter as they had only “received shipping directions from the customer, which, under law, it has an obligation to meet. CN discharged its obligations with respect to those movements in strict compliance with its obligations as a common carrier, and was compensated accordingly.” Even so, they still managed to earn C$2.6 million in shipping fees.

I have said this every time future Bz production is brought up, and I will keep repeating it until people starts listening:

Brazil is interested in, and on its way to, become a first world industrial country. As such, it will need all oil it produces. In fact it will have to import a share of its consumption. It does not matter if they are producing 2 or 4 or 6 million barrels a day in 2020; they will use all of them for them self. And then some. And none of it will be exported to your country.

From the Energy Export databrowser:

Any further questions?


Other nuggets in the fiscal cliff bill: Rum, electric vehicles and motor sports

Washington (CNN) - So what is really in the fiscal cliff legislation?

Of course, there are the widely-known sticking points the two sides have been haggling over for weeks: extensions of the income tax cuts for middle and low-income earners, the current estate tax rate, and the alternative minimum tax.

But there's also a provision on two- and three-wheeled electric vehicles, renewable energy, and rum.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which passed the Senate early Tuesday morning, is a vehicle for a number of regular year-end tax extenders....

...There's also the extension of a tax credit for purchase of some electric vehicles with two or three wheels, such as scooters. It was a tax break included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and covers up to 10% of the vehicle's cost, or at most $2,500...

...And they extended the depreciation model for motor sports complexes – facilities that hold at least seven days of racing, seat at least 70,000 people, and have concession stands that benefit charitable organizations...

...It included a number of energy tax provisions as well, including one relating to coal produced at "Indian coal facilities" and extensions of energy efficient home and appliance purchases.

The broadcast version headline of this story included $300 million for Railroads, alongside Hollywood ($430 million), "Rum Refund" ($222 million), and NASCAR ($70 million) in its list of "Pork or Perks". Railroads? Pork?

Add another decimal point to the $300 million for railroads and we might get some something with at least one 79 mile an hour major passenger corridor upgrade. $3 billion might get the New Orleans line extended to Florida or the Cascades Vancouver, BC - Medford, Oregon line upgraded to more than a toy for sightseers.

They also had plenty of time to pass this ...

Senate Approves Warrantless Electronic Spy Powers

The Senate on Friday reauthorized for five years broad electronic eavesdropping powers that legalized and expanded the President George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.

The FISA Amendments Act, (.pdf) which was expiring Monday at midnight, allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant so long as one of the parties to the communication is believed outside the United States. The communications may be intercepted “to acquire foreign intelligence information.”

The House approved the measure in September. President Barack Obama, who said the spy powers were a national security priority, is expected to quickly sign the package before the law Congress codified in 2008 expires in the coming days. Over the past two days, the Senate debated and voted down a handful of amendments in what was seen as largely political theater to get Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) to lift a procedural hold on the FISA Amendments Act legislation that barred lawmakers from voting on the package.

Revisiting interpretations of US history

... George Orwell once wrote, "Who controls the past controls the future." By showing you the patterns of behavior which have come to be that you perhaps have not noticed before, we will try to bring you back to the meaning of this country and what's so radically changed after World War II . This behavior has brought us to where we are now.

Fuel shortage sees Egyptian power stations shut

At the end of December 2012 some 15 power stations across Egypt were forced to halt generation due to shortages of diesel and natural gas.

"The fuel ran dry, leading to the reduction of some 3,000 MW of electricity capacity for the first time ever," Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) said, as reported by Al-Ahram daily newspaper.

... Egypt, itself a gas producer and exporter, said in October it had agreed to import gas from Algeria and was in talks with Qatar over a similar deal. Egypt witnessed several power failures during its most recent summer due to shortage of fuel supply and the government has insisted that the problem would not occur in the winter because of less electricity consumption.

Sodium-Air Battery Offers Rechargeable Advantages Compared To Li-Air Batteries

Over the past few years, Li-air batteries (more precisely, Li-oxygen batteries) have become attractive due to their theoretical ability to store nearly as much energy per volume as gasoline. The key to this high energy density is the "air" part, since the batteries capture atmospheric oxygen to use in the cathode reaction instead of storing their own oxidizing agent. However, Li-air batteries have conventionally been single-use cells since they cannot be recharged, which significantly limits their applications.

Now in a new study, scientists have found that replacing the lithium anode with a sodium anode may offer an unexpected path toward making metal-air batteries rechargeable while still offering a relatively high energy density.

Na-air batteries have some attractive characteristics. One advantage of the Na-air battery demonstrated here is its very low overpotential, which is three or four times lower than for any Li-air or Na-air battery previously reported, resulting in fewer losses. In addition, sodium is the sixth most abundant element on Earth, while lithium resources are much more limited.

There are lithium vanadium and lithium sulfur batteries as well. Some seem to think that there will be a major breakthrough soon that will change everything. I am not so sure, I would not bet on that.

Regarding efficiency there are some improvements to make for ordinary Lead Acid batteries but the last 15% will not make a revolution.

Overall, an efficiency level of 85% is often assumed

There are already lighter batteries and there might of course be a revolution in cost but probably nothing else.

From up top:

Rosneft leads Russian oil output to new high

Headline is a bit misleading when you read the subheads:

IEA sees Russia's oil production declining by 100,000 bpd in 2013

Russia's exports nudged down 0.3 pct

Is this the year of Russia's post-soviet-collapse peak?

CCS is a necessity for a world hooked on fossil fuels

... high cost and simultaneous lack of incentive policies are delaying deployment of CCS, leading the International Energy Agency to renew its calls for action in 2013 and beyond on this critical element to limiting climate change.

Fossil fuels met 81% of total energy demand as of 2009, as well as 85% of the increase in global energy demand in the past ten years. Such use of oil, coal and gas is irreconcilable with limiting CO2 emissions enough to keep average global temperature rise to only 2 degrees. In the ambitious IEA 2-degree scenario, or 2DS, fossil fuel use is reduced by 20% in 2050 from current levels but would still provide 45% of the world’s primary energy demand. But much of the emissions from that remaining use of fossil fuels must be captured and stored. The recently launched World Energy Outlook 2012 also shows that without significant deployment of CCS, more than two-thirds of current proven fossil-fuel reserves cannot be commercialised in a 2-degree world before 2050.

“For the IEA, carbon capture and storage is not a substitute, but a necessary addition to other low-carbon energy technologies and energy efficiency improvements,” Juho Lipponen, head of the IEA Carbon Capture and Storage Technology Unit, recently told the 11th International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies in Kyoto, Japan. He added, “Fossil-fuel CCS is particularly important in a world that currently shows absolutely no sign of scaling down its fossil fuel consumption.”

S "...without significant deployment of CCS, more than two-thirds of current proven fossil-fuel reserves cannot be commercialized in a 2-degree world before 2050". I didn't do the math but I'll take their word for it. Given the likely increased cost of FF going forward it's difficult to believe many societies would add the cost of CCS on top of the other increases. Which indicates to me that a 2-degree world is very unlikely to develop. Even worse if coal becomes the more common replacement for other FF's instead of the alts taking up the slack.

2 degree is a given, and the most optimistic of outlooks.
This is if we stopped now.
Is that happening?

If CCS is "a necessity" then we are pretty much screwed. I don't think anyone has figured out a way of doing economically and I kinda doubt they will. How do you find space for that amount of volume? And not have it leak.

Coal may be our undoing. It is odd that dead plants & animals of the past may doom us. The circle of life indeed.

"A human being is merely CO2's way of making more CO2."

Wait, that doesn't quite work...

With increasing Canadian oil sands production starting to back up within Canada and producers becoming more desperate because landlocked Western Canadian Select is trading at about half the price of seaborn UK Brent, the Alberta, Yukon, and Alaska governments are starting to take seriously the idea of building a railroad track from the oil sands to Alaska, putting it into the Trans Alaska Pipeline, and shipping it through the Alaska port of Valdez.

Group wants to move bitumen by rail to Alaska

EDMONTON - Alison Redford’s cabinet is expected to decide in January whether the government will spend $10 million to study the idea of building a rail line to ship oilsands products from northern Alberta to a port in Alaska.

The money would help pay for a $40-million study that will investigate the feasibility of a proposed 2,400-kilometre rail line to carry landlocked oilsands products from Fort McMurray to Delta Junction, Alaska.

From there, Alberta’s oil would flow through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline system to the Valdez Marine Terminal, and on to booming Asian markets.

Probably the main advantage of this is that it would bypass environmental, aboriginal, and government opposition in British Columbia, and route the oil through the Yukon and Alaska, both of which would like to have the rail connection to the total North American railroad system that the proposal would create.

Perhaps they could build a line to meet up with the White Pass and Yukon and convert it to standard gauge.

That's easier said than done: the WPYR is 3-foot gauge specifically to allow a narrower roadbed and tighter curves than is possible with standard gauge (4ft8.5in). I would be surprised if converting that line would cost much less than building a completely new line.

A study of the question[PDF] was made between 2005 and 2007, but it seems to have died since then.

The report estimated $195 million to upgrade the line to standard gauge as far as Whitehorse, but in the detailed costing all the "realign and grade reduction" items are valued as "place hold", which seems to indicate the costs were never estimated, and are not included in the total. I suspect this document was never intended for publication, but Google found it anyway.

The costs which seem to be missing are probably the largest costs in the project: a 3ft track can have curves with minimum radius as small as 150ft. I can't find a figure for the minimum radius for the WPYR, but from the rather blurry Google maps it looks like about 300ft. Few standard gauge tracks have ever operated safely and efficiently with a radius smaller than 500ft. In the terrain between Skagway and White Pass changing curve radius this much means moving an immense amount of rock, building some really spectacular bridges, digging new tunnels, or all three.

This proposal makes no sense to me. Why not build a pipeline from Fort McMurray to intersect with the Trans-Alaska pipeline? Pipelines are more effective at moving oil than trains and there is no freight to move from Fort McMurray to Alaska, other than bitumen.

If there is a need for a railroad to Alaska, one option would be to extend the former BC rail line that had originally been planned to go as far as Dease Lake in Northern BC. Track was extended to some point north of Takla lake though these days the line only operates to a point just north of Fort St. James. Oddly enough, there is a collection of rail cars on the track beyond the derail point that has been sitting there for years! I wonder if CN has lost track of them?

Enough puns for an Economist article, lol.

Anything that gets more rail built in the world's future breadbasket might be a net positive for everyone left in X decades...


Why not build a pipeline from Fort McMurray to intersect with the Trans-Alaska pipeline? Pipelines are more effective at moving oil than trains and there is no freight to move from Fort McMurray to Alaska, other than bitumen.

This proposal is entirely politically driven, and obviously a pipeline would be more efficient, but the politics are starting to turn nasty. The Alberta government is becoming severely annoyed with BC over its stalling tactics, and if Alberta funds the studies, the route might avoid BC entirely. And the Alberta government does have the money ($10 billion and change) to make it happen.

Looking at the possibilities, they could build a route from Ft. McMurray Alberta directly to Watson Lake Yukon Territory, with a bit of a dogleg to avoid BC entirely by going through the NWT. From there on the routes to Delta Junction Alaska are the same. The advantage of this route, other than that it bypasses BC, is that it completely avoids the Rocky Mountains by passing north of them, since the Rockies end just short of the BC/Yukon border. All it crosses are plains, uplands, and plateax. The terrain is much more mellow than Northern BC.

It would be very easy to build a first class railroad line there with minimal grades and few curves because there are no mountains to cross. There are peat bogs (muskeg) and boreal forests but Canadian railroads are very experienced at building across muskeg - it is a lot easier to build a railroad across muskeg than it is to build a highway - and boreal forest can be used for railroad ties and bridge trestles.

The advantages of a railroad over a pipeline would be, first, it would eliminate the Canadian government pipeline approval process completely (Canadian provinces have often built their own railroads without consulting the feds) and second, there are a lot of undeveloped natural resources in the Territories and Northern Alberta which could be taken to market on the back haul - lumber, coal, iron ore, and other minerals - plus it would run through some potential agricultural areas in Northern Alberta.

The Territories would not be averse to developing their mineral resources, and Alberta would not be averse to refining and processing them in Alberta. Unlike in BC, the native peoples in Alberta and the Territories have long since resolved their land claims (they ended up with a lot of good land) and are mostly interested in jobs and resource royalties.

I'm not saying it will happen, it seems unlikely, but if the problems in building pipelines through BC prove intractable, it could happen. All it would take is money, and Alberta does have that.

Alan from Big Easy has commented on this project in the past, and I believe he has been involved in some fashion. Perhaps he will update us.

Some additional information is available at Alaska Canada Railroad Link. Includes feasibilty studies, etc.

Thanks for the link -- I wasn't aware there had been engineering studies of potential routes for the BC portion. Turns out the Dease Lake route would be considerably longer and more difficult to build than a line starting at Fort Nelson.

Don't hold your breath though. You might recall E.T. Barnette was headed to Tanana Crossing with a steamer load of goods back in 1901. He was on his way to set up a trading post at what was expected to be an important junction on the soon to be built new trans continental railroad hooking up with Chicago.

Well military funding is getting a bridge built across the Tanana and taking the AK RR to Delta Junction as I type (Barnette may have been just a tad early, eh), only about 800 1200-1500 mile or so to go in the link up with Canada if memory serves (waiting on a slow download for a memory refresher, thanks for the links).

[edit: oops memory was shade optimistic, it's been a while since I drove the highway, more like a 1200-1500 mile link up.]

Oh yeah Barnette's steamer couldn't get up the Tanana rapids due to low water and he ended up getting set ashore on the Chena 'slough.' He wasn't a happy camper sitting on his pile of goods in about as close to the middle of nowhere as anyone could have got such a load. But as luck would have it an Italian prospector saw the smoke when the steamer was trying to grind up the rapids and that prospector not only needed supplies but he also had just found real good color up in the hills. And so Fairbanks happened and after multiple booms and busts is still happening, though we are still waiting on the railroad to Chicago ?-)

I happen to be reading Railroaded by White at the moment. Transcontinental railroads often made very little economic sense when they were built. A whole lot about their financing reminds me of what goes on today, but low and behold after all the ups and downs the North American rail transport system they gave birth to is now unrivalled in the world.


I always am astounded by the Copper River and Northwestern Railway to Kennecott. I rafted the Copper a few years ago, and it is amazing what they did. Supposedly there is one spot (though we didn't see it from the river) where they actually built the railroad across a glacier! The maintainence crew had to walk that section before every train to make sure the glacier hadn't moved the tracks. The construction boss Big Mike Heney once boasted “Give me enough snoose and dynamite and I’ll build you a road to hell!” Of course when the copper ran out at Kennecott that was the end of the railroad.

Another good read is "Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869" by Ambrose, about the building of the Union Pacific amd Central Pacific.

From a quick look at reviews of the Ambrose book it looks as if his and White's conclusions about transcontinentals might be antitheses. White is a CA professor and the book took him 12 years--ivory tower is evident. In my opinion he really needed to get out more. But all in all it was worth the read.

Nothing in Railroaded to compares with your Big Mike Heney quote for color, but White has some very lucid moments. His description of the intent of the Sherman Antitrust Act stood out for me (it certainly brings an Einstein quote to mind).

It paradoxically rejected laissez-faire in the name of restoring competition. The market was supposed to prevent monopolies, but when monopolies arose in the market, the government had to intervene to reproduce the very market that had produced monopoly.

Funny how the author can see this but somehow can't grasp that if it didn't implode the Union (and the men) that emerged from the Civil War couldn't help but build transcontinentals regardless how ill fated many of the attempts were. Well he may see it but if so he remains in denial. The professor seems to feel the idealized potential USA (or at least the USA west) he holds in his mind's eye would have come into being if only the well connected, corrupt and financially creative hadn't got the subsidies to build those damnable transcontinentals.

Back to the AK/Canada rail link.
The Newsminer ran this piece today.

Ambitious Tome Chronicles the Rise of a New Urbanist Community

New Urbanism is an urban design philosophy that holds that "neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice."

High Energy Costs Plaguing Europe

In Germany, renewables subsidies are already adding 10 percent to 15 percent to bills, according to IHS.


Yeah, Jack, let's skip the part (the bulk of the article?) regarding the high costs of natural gas in Europe, prompting manufacturers to open plants in the US:

...Asked whether he had considered building the plant in Europe, Voestalpine’s chief executive, Wolfgang Eder, said that that “calculation does not make sense from the very beginning.” Gas in Europe is much more expensive, he said.

... BASF, the German chemical giant, has been outspoken about the consequences of energy costs for competitiveness and is building a new plant in Louisiana.

“We Europeans are currently paying up to four or five times more for natural gas than the Americans,” Harald Schwager, a member of the executive board at BASF, said last month...

...Europeans cannot help noticing that the United States has managed, through the shale gas boom, not only to slash natural gas prices but also to cut carbon dioxide emissions to a 20-year low as utilities have shifted from coal to natural gas...

...Mr. Helm argues that big gains in the reduction of emissions could be achieved in the short term by replacing coal with natural gas — as the United States is doing. Europe may have enormous quantities of shale gas...

Best hopes for a bit of balance and clarity :-/

Yes, of course the main part of the story, for the NYT and Europe, is overall energy prices much higher than U.S. levels. I wasn't claiming anything else.

But I did find it interesting that solar, from an economic standpoint, doesn't seem to be making the situation any better.

Whenever the higher cost of solar power comes up, commenters here frequently claim that it is a lie circulated by the oil industry, or that economics should be ignored. This shows that it isn't that simple.

Maybe Warren Buffett has found a way to make solar profitable:

SunPower inks $2.5 billion deal with Buffett's MidAmerican Energy


In the big picture, perhaps perfect timing. 2013 will be a key year for PV, Sunpower Modules have the advantage of back contact cells, no foil on the front. but now TOTAL owns most of Sunpower now, and it reminds one of the Mobil-MongomeryWard debacle. The e20 modules (20% eff) are overdue in volume.

Unlike any other energy source, PV has the economic advantage of Swanson's Law.

"Swanson’s law, named after Richard Swanson, the founder of SunPower, a big American solar-cell manufacturer, suggests that the cost of the photovoltaic cells needed to generate solar power falls by 20% with each doubling of global manufacturing capacity."


The problems with Swanson's law -at the moment anyway, is that global manufacturing capability is about double demand. So its not gonna work for us until that overcapacity is worked through.

I also really really doubt it can survive many more doublings.

"..commenters here frequently claim.."

Well you need to take someone's comments directly on that one, Jack.

I think there has been consistent acknowledgment here that investing in renewables is expensive and that it's particularly a tough Threshold investment to make the leap over, even after PV costs have come so far down.. while that price drop is often credited to Germany's huge FIT program itself, no?

Everybody here knows clearly that Germany has swallowed (bravely and correctly, I'd attest) a huge and uncomfortable pill in the amount that they have leveraged in order to get this much PV into their national portfolio, and that there will be a degree of 'discomfort' at having done so. We have already seen some of that pain shared by the other generators, when Solar hit them low, right in the midday peak prices where their Brotchen has been buttered for so long. That's LOW prices because of renewables.. but it's still a long-term and a difficult road, and the spoonfuls of sugar won't be coming with these pills until a bunch more of the loans have been paid off, and the long-term advantages of PV on a large scale start to accrue..

Issuing 'I told you so' comments about how it's not such a cheap panacaea after all really need to be in context with someone who's actually trying to say what you're claiming they have.

Here's a very recent analysis of the situation in Germany last month, posted this morning at www.renewablesinternational.net . It ends with the following summary (bold mine):

Those German results of increasing deliveries and penetration rates from variable but predictable wind and PV installations are important not only for the German Energiewende success but also for other countries. As shown in figures 8, 9 and 10, some European ones (those included in the ELIX index calculation: Austria, Switzerland, France) are already benefiting from lower electricity market prices during high wind and PV penetration rates in Germany. Others (even outside Europe) that still get lower penetration rates from those technologies can see that they can manage higher penetration rates without technical and economical problems, provided that they base the relevant increase on sound and wise energy policies and long term scenarios and measures.

The renewablesinternational.net headline is misleading as the onle reference I could find to "25% wind and PV in December" was this:

Figure 7 shows the daily electricity production share from PV and wind in December 2012. The maximum rate was on December 31, with more than 45 %. On more than 1 day on four, this penetration rate was higher than 25 %.

Otherwise, the implication is clear. High penetration of renewables on a grid will put the kibosh on some of the traditional, high, time of use pricing that established electricity utilities have grown with and established plans around. That is why the FF burning generators in the US and the moneyed interest that own them and supply them with fuel, will fight renewables tooth and nail.

Unfortunately for those interests in Germany, they are loosing the battle as the opposition they face is made of sterner stuff.

Alan from the islands

Ghung - For a little more balance Mr. V might want to study the history of US NG production. Long before anyone started hyping the shales the US was often the biggest NG producer on the planet...occasionally swapping that title with Russia. In fact, US/Russian NG production accounts for about half of all of the production on the planet with the vast majority coming from conventional fields. Again, long before the shales took off. The shales have added to US production...both oil and NG. And in time some EU shales will get developed IMHO. But before he starts counting those NG chickens before they hatch he might want to find that Gulf Coast Basin equivalent they've overlooked all these decades.

I suspect the biggest problems the EU may have developing the shales is the lack of public oil companies desperate to increase their booked reserves and the ownership of almost all the hydrocarbons by the govts and not individual land owners. I'm gonna guess their best hope for the future will be accessing African NG at some reasonable cost. Good luck with that too.

"...Europeans cannot help noticing that the United States has managed, through the shale gas boom, not only to slash natural gas prices but also to cut carbon dioxide emissions to a 20-year low as utilities have shifted from coal to natural gas...

...Mr. Helm argues that big gains in the reduction of emissions could be achieved in the short term by replacing coal with natural gas — as the United States is doing. Europe may have enormous quantities of shale gas..."

Which we have proven is only true for conventional natural gas, since the absence of regulation (or somesuch; technical?) allows significantly more methane to be released in a fracking completion, essentially offsetting the carbon advantage of nat. gas when the gas is from fracked sources...too bad that's what's left...


Desert - "Which we have proven is only true for conventional natural gas, since the absence of regulation (or somesuch; technical?) allows significantly more methane to be released in a fracking completion". Can you toss me a link to support that claim? The regulations regarding methane leaks in Texas and La. are no different for a frac'd well then any other well. I suspect that's true for all the states. Perhaps you're referring to the NG being flared in ND, and though not good for the environment, that isn't a methane release. In fact, if they still had the same production results without frac'ng those same NG flares would be burning: NG regulators want the oil to flow now and not wait on NG pipeline infrastructure.

Perhaps what you reference is referring to is just that more NG wells producing leads to more methane leakage. That would be logical. But that has nothing to do with those wells being frac'd or not. No one has ever demonstrated that frac'ng has caused methane to leak to the surface through the rocks...that's physically impossible. Just as in the case of contamination of those nasty frac fluids. OTOH bad casing/cement/well head/pipeline leaks could allow methane leakage but that would be true whether the well was frac'd or not. Nearly all the frac fluid contamination has been tracked to improper/illegal surface disposal.

There certainly are significant potential damages that can occur from the frac wells but none of that is directly related to the frac'ng process itself.

First, let me state that I'm sure I read it 'here', as my sole portal for energy info (I include drumbeat links in that statement however), and also that the parties making that assertion were doubtless in no way neutral. It may also have been implicating all natural gas, not just that which is fracked. Lastly, 'Proven' was maybe not the correct term. [/full-disclosure]

I think the Post Carbon Inst. publication, "Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century?", by J. David Hughes, was one prominent source, I'll have to re-read it tonite. I believe there was also a featured article which covered that territory on this site directly (may have been one and the same article on both sites).

To answer your other point, IIRC, the methane release wasn't attributed to leaks or cement jobs per se, I think they were fingering drilling & completion as the primary source. They also went on to point out that since methane is short-lived (20 yrs?), the assertion was that using methane for power generation caused more warming in the timeframe < 100 years, but once the additional atmospheric methane had degraded, then coal again became 'dirtier' for t > 100 years. So flaring would actually improve the situation by converting the methane to CO2 immediately instead of releasing it. Your point about fracking requiring many more wells would remain valid however - far more drilling and completions per BCF delivered.

Agree with your statements about surface disposal being the primary source of non-atmospheric contaminents - seems well corroborated in the scientific media that dares to touch the subject. They also seem to be suggesting disposal/brine reinjection, not drilling or fracking, causes most of the earthquakes (which seem small enough not to be an issue if you're not on a fault anyway, but I'm not a geologist).

I'll see if I can dig up some actual links & quotes when I'm off the clock.


Thanks rat. I think the terminolgy and dynamics get confusing for a lot of the public unless they're real technogeeks like me. No way to prove it but I would almost bet you lunch that more methane is leaked to the atmosphere from local distribution systems and households than all the oil field operations combined. A couple of times a year I hear of local leaks big enough to generate a news story. And sadly sometimes enough to burn down a house.

I've heard some of the early reviews on Matt Damon's supposedly anti'frac'ng movie. Had it really going after the oil patch and frac'ng I probably would have gone to see...I like Matt anyway. But it appears to be a rather boring movie with no real edge pro or con on frac'ng. There's not even one drilling rig or frac truck shown in the entire movie I hear. I gather it's more of an slap at pushy salesmen than driling/frac'ng. Could have taken that same angle with a car salesman. If it had been a very biased and unbalanced attack on frac'ng I would have gone to see it just to make counterbalance points. As I've always said life is too short to drink bad wine or watch boring movies.

LeBron James, Bike Commuter

LBJ and his teammates Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers have been riding in Miami Critical Mass as well. It will be interesting to see if this helps elevate the cause of safer streets in motor-happy Florida. It’s hard to see how it wouldn’t.


As it says up top,
Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race.
HG Wells

hmmm, population affects artistic relevence...
Sounds alot like TOD


inkwell.vue.459 : State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #34 of 100: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 27 Dec 12 20:08

Two good questions:

Jeff: "Do we double down on where we're at, or do we stay
location-light, burrow our roots into the net, and go where the wind
takes us?"

Jane: "...do you think you have the power to move the world's rudder?
Do you think any art does?"

A relevant data point: there are 7 billion people on the planet;
that's a 7x increase since 1800, and it's doubled since 1970. So it's
not just that we have fragmentation, an exploding number of channels,
etc. We have massive increase in the number of humans, in the number of
voices, the number of artists, musicians, journalists, engineers,
cooks, bottle washers, etc.

Jeff: I think it's a good time to take root and build - build
sustainably, that is. We can't afford a lifestyle that spends too many
resources, given the inevitable competitive pressure as populations
grow faster than the resources to support 'em.

Jane: I think it was easier for one artist to make a difference when
there were fewer people, and fewer of them making art. And, for that
matter, fewer rudders to nudge.

More on the fructose/sucrose thing....

Fructose Sugar Tells the Brain To Keep Eating

Foods that contain the sugar fructose may cause people to gain more weight than foods that contain the sugar glucose, a new study suggests.

Consuming glucose signals to the brain that you've eaten, and thus satiates appetite. By contrast, eating fructose does not, said the researchers, from Yale University School of Medicine.

The results suggest that the pervasiveness of high-fructose corn syrup in Western diets — the sugar is found in many processed foods and beverages, including juice and soda — may contribute to the obesity epidemic, experts say.

HCFS comes in two common varieties: 55-42 fructose-glucose and 42-53 fructose-glucose. Common sugar is 50-50. The differences are very minor.

The problem is less the particular combination and more the unthinkably insane amount of it we eat. If we replaced all the HCFS with regular sugar, we'd still be very fat and unhealthy.

The problem is less the particular combination and more the unthinkably insane amount of it we eat. If we replaced all the HCFS with regular sugar, we'd still be very fat and unhealthy.

Sure, but the argument being put forward is that HFCS causes us to eat more than we normally would. That is, it's the reason we eat so much of it. If we really did replace it with regular sugar, we wouldn't eat as much.

Also, there's evidence that the combination matters.

Wow, interesting link. Thanks.

Well, maybe not regular sugar which is 50/50 fructose/glucose. But "regular sugar" is not something that humans would typically eat except maybe in the past 100 years, anyway. My guess is that the cost of all sweeteners dropped precipitously over the past 100 years or so, to the point that it became a principle source of calories for the lower-income classes. Sugar cane plantations and then sugar beet farming along with fossil fueled ocean transportation.

I'm sure there are a lot of factors involved in the "obesity epidemic." The advent of TV, the advent of computer-based entertainment and even the introduction of efficient central heating. Who do you know who typically wears a sweater in the house any more, rather than just bump the thermostat?

I've considered that, but I really think there's more to it. In the US, obesity tracks the introduction of HFCS fairly well. It's not like regular sugar was expensive. And there was not a similar decrease in activity during that time. Gary Taubes blames the government recommendation for a low fat diet, and he could be right, but then you look at the way obesity has spread around the world, and the link seems suspicious, at least.

According to the study, which was published in Global Public Health, countries that use HFCS in their food supply had a 20 percent higher prevalence of diabetes than countries that did not use it. The analysis also revealed that the HFCS association with the “significantly increased prevalence of diabetes” occurred independent of total sugar intake and obesity levels.

As Taubes has pointed out, studies involving human nutrition are difficult to interpret, but I think there's enough evidence that avoiding HFCS is warranted, especially since there doesn't seem to be any downside to doing that.

Regarding Wearing Sweaters, My family does..

.. and Three of my Four tenants also are really good at keeping the thermostats down. (Low-mid 60s, it seems) The fourth tenants are new to the country and new to a cold climate, so I'm working with them, but they still expect to live in light clothes and t-shirts when at home. I'm possibly going to put some fixed limits on their thermostat soon.

Well there's also the satiety effects of fats (which will generally be present around sugars..) .. I wonder how the 'lite' vegetable oils affect appetite as opposed to saturated fats? The story we've talked about here before with the Lowfat milk not providing the satiety signals the way whole milk does, so that people consuming lowfat foods remain hungry and pull in more starches and such to try to 'fill the gap'..

That's probably true, too, but I think it's a separate issue. The bad effects of HFCS hold even when overall sugar consumption is the same. I suspect most people should eat less sugar of all kinds, but some sweeteners are worse than others.

Ironically, the low-calorie sweeteners may be among the worst. Not because they cause cancer or anything, but for reasons similar to HFCS: they screw up your metabolism, so you no longer recognize satiety signals.

Thank you Jack Chambers for trying to go "natural".
There was a product for use as a soil amendment to add to your garden that consisted of the dried waste from a sewage treatment plant in Los Angeles, California. Conventional sewage plants destroy bacteria in their process but don't remove metals, pharmaceuticals, or many other chemicals that go down the drain. It's expensive to Haz-Mat waste but free to put in the sewer.
To avoid putting this material in a dump it's hauled to California's Central Valley or the Imperial Valley and spread on croplands.
The City of San Diego has a Industrial Waste Dept. with a lab and group of chemists who sample and analyze waste water looking for illegal discharges. An auto sampler is put in a line and collects 50ml per hour for 24 hrs.

From Arctic Sea Ice blog ... Shell drill spill? (More on the Kullak)

... Back in 2000, after 14 years of non-use in Tuktoyaktuk, the Canadians hired a consulting firm to generate a glowing account of the Kullak's previous performance in Beaufort sea ice:


Fascinating bit about the shackle breaking -- was it really newly purchased, is there really a neutron beam facility in Dutch Harbor to check it for cracks (or can you hardly get a cup of warm coffee there)? I've heard that the abrupt loss of tension brought the Aiveq broadside to 40' swells, causing a 50 degree roll and sea water into the engine exhaust/air intakes. That, not asphaltine in deteriorated diesel, caused all four fuel injectors to fail.

Rig: http://www.mxak.org/community/kulluk/kullukmore.html


Also ... from one of the commenters: ... Tad Patzek made an interesting post at his blog recently, which sketches out some of the difficulties of arctic operations:

... Here are some of the difficulties with drilling and operating offshore oil and gas wells in the Arctic, west and north of Alaska:

1. Gas vs. oil. Natural gas is not oil. Gas price and remoteness of the Arctic make offshore gas production and transport unprofitable. Let's hope that most of the hydrocarbons discovered in the Arctic are oil, not natural gas.
2. Long distances and no infrastructure. ...
3. Fragility of supply chains. ...
4. Ice at water surface and on seafloor. ...
5. Oil transport. ...
6. Cost and time. ...

Centre set to swelter as biggest heatwave in decades settles in

"We have a major heat event under way,'' Karl Braganza, a manager of climate monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology, said. ''There are not many instances in the historical record where you get a heat event covering such a large area of the continent."

Brett Dutschke, a senior meteorologist at Weatherzone, said it was unusual to have so prolonged a hot spell. "It's a once-in-20 or 30-year heatwave event in desert areas,"

Authorities warn any blaze sparked today is likely to be fast-moving and uncontrollable

West Australian coastal waters in the grip of marine heatwave

The ocean temperature off the west coast of Australia has risen by five degrees [9°F]and it's killing off large numbers of valuable seafood stocks.

The marine heatwave that started a year ago is an extreme event that took scientists by surprise, and is causing pain for commercial fishers during the peak summer period.

Although warming of ocean waters does occur, Dr Fletcher says the increase is the most extreme ever recorded off the WA coast.

"Abalone in the north part of the west coast, up near Kalbarri, we had over a 90 per cent mortality which happened immediately.

also Ocean heatwave hits WA waters bringing new fish

WA ocean heatwave linked to shark attacks

"took scientists by surprise"

The degree of it is usually what takes them by surprise.

Another form of it is "worse than expected" ...

They know what is happening in the general sense of a global system.

But how utterly nasty things will get sooner than later is not yet in their thinking.

I beg to differ. I believe that the scientists have had a pretty good idea of what will happen but all the BAU climate agnosticism has held them back. Group A produces a report that underestimates so as to please their payroll masters then Group B produces theirs, relying on Group A, so underestimates. Now the changes are being seen and their bonds loosened, the real situation is starting to come through. I doubt any of these things are beyond their worst fears. And it also means that we are too late to stop these things happening.


January 1, 2013 Phase-out of 75 Watt incandescent light bulbs.

How many Megawatt-hours of energy will be saved with this act per year?

Best hopes for more efficient lighting.

The potential savings are considerable. There are an estimated four billion incandescent lamps in service in the United States alone and about twelve billion world-wide.

As a rough, back-of-the-envelope estimate, let's say that no more than 10 per cent of these four billion lamps are operational at any one time over a 24 hour period and that, on average, we could save 50-watts per socket by replacing these lamps with a CFL or LED that uses 80 per cent less energy. That would suggest a net reduction in the order of 20,000 MW.

At the low-end of the scale, assuming that all of these lamps are replaced by high efficiency incandescents/halogens that use 30 per cent less energy (e.g., a Philips 40-watt Halogena Energy Saver T60 replacing a standard 60-watt A19 incandescent and a 70-watt T60 replacing a 100-watt), then the potential savings would be closer to 8,000 MW. We can reasonably assume that the actual number would fall somewhere in-between, say, 12,000 to 14,000 MW; that would be akin to removing thirty or more 400 MW coal-fired power plants from the US grid.


4 billion incandescent bulbs in the US sounds like a lot, though I wonder how many of them are in infrequently used lighting fixtures. You can still find a lot of incandescent bulbs in our house, but the lights that are used most frequently are generally CFL or LED. The additional energy savings by replacing all remaining incandescent bulbs would not be great.

I still use incandescent bulbs for exterior lighting because my understanding is that CFL don't handle cold temperatures well. All our exterior lighting fixtures use motion sensors so the lights do cycle on and off a lot more frequently than if we just operated them manually. LED bulbs would be the ideal solution here.

Another problem spot is that our living room has several lamps that use three way bulbs. I haven't seen CFL or LED bulbs that are designed to replace a three way bulb. We don't use the living room very much so upgrading this inefficient lighting isn't a big priority.

I have been using a CFL floodlight for years outside my home in the mountains of Colorado. It is normal for winter temperatures to go below zero and I have not had any problems over the years.

It's hard to say how many incandescent lamps are used on a regular basis. The "typical" US home has reportedly forty E26 sockets, so my ten per cent estimate would mean that an average of four sockets would be in use at any one time. A front entryway illuminated by two coach lanterns could, in itself, account for two of those four incandescent sockets. Heck, my neighbour two doors down has a single post light at the end of his driveway that has five sockets, each fitted with as far as I can tell 40-watt candelabra base flame-style incandescents.

Also bear in mind that incandescent lamps are still widely used in commercial and institutional applications. I ran a query on our database and over the past four months we've replaced one thousand eight hundred and twenty-two 40, 60 and 100-watt screw-in incandescents in various retail, food service and hospitality establishments, some of which operated 24/7.


You've provided plenty of examples of the large energy and cost savings that are available to commercial/institutional establishments that have large amounts of lighting operating for a significant part of the day. One reason why it is a harder sell with residential customers is that the savings are not anywhere near as dramatic and the payback time much longer.

Many power utilities have tried to encourage people to switch to more efficient bulbs by giving away sample CFL bulbs. We're probably at the point though that disincentives to buying incandescent bulbs are needed. It certainly does't help that incandescent bulbs are significantly cheaper than any energy efficient alternative.

The fact that LED bulbs are mercury free provides an alternative to people who were worried about mercury escaping from a broken CFL bulb. LED bulbs are also available in some types for which no CFL equivalent existed -- for example a G10 type Halogen spot lamp.

Not to mention ceiling fans, providing the light for the room, that may have 4 or 5 bulbs and there may be 2 or more fans in the room.


I'm astonished at the price of LED bulbs. I looked up the online price for my desk light which is on most of the time. I think my cellphone cost less than a single bulb. Compared to other electronic items they are extraordinarily expensive.

I'm astonished at the price of LED bulbs.

You can buy a pair of cheap shoes for twenty bucks and replace them every year or buy a decent pair for a hundred and wear them for ten years. Which is cheaper?

For the record I recently replaced some 25 watt incadescents in some accent lighting and table lamps with some low end Philips 7.5 watt LEDs at a little under 11 bucks a pop. They work for me!

I've finally picked up a couple Phillips 12 watters for about $10 apiece at our local Home Depot..

One has replaced an old 20watt CFL that my wife depends on in the Bedroom, and she feels it's now brighter and better.

Keep an eye out for sales on these LEDs.. they are trying to entice people into getting past their 'resistance to change'..

Check the clearance shelves. Our HD had quite a few LED bulbs on clearance (including Phillips) making room for the newer generation bulbs, it seems. They had several 4" remodeling cans with the LEDs built in (store brand) that looked nice. About 40% off...

There are now at least some LED bulbs available at for instance Lowes and Home Depot. You have to shop around if you want decent prices. Its getting better, $10 now buys you 450 Lumens, whereas a year back you could find 320 lumens if you were lucky enough to find a $10 bulb at all. Just keep checking whats available, and select what is useful.

I ran a query on our database and over the past four months we've replaced one thousand eight hundred and twenty-two 40, 60 and 100-watt screw-in incandescents in various retail, food service and hospitality establishments, some of which operated 24/7.

HereinHalifax, what do you do with all the bulbs that are replaced. Are they discarded or do they have a second life in peoples' homes where they are rarely used?

No second life for these micro space heaters; everything that we remove from service is destroyed. The objective is to get as many of these inefficient products off the grid as quickly as possible.


Paul, that sounds good.

I haven't bought any standard incandescent light bulbs in probably 10 years. I still have some that I have removed left in a box in case I ever need one.

" though I wonder how many of them are in infrequently used lighting fixtures."

Quite a few are in low use fixtures waiting to burn out, then they will be replaced. Several more are in outdoor fixtures where CFLs are not recommended for reasons related to either rain or cold. Those uses are prime candidates for an LED in a couple more years after the price drops some more.

I've changed almost all of my lighting sources, but I'm still using an electric range, dryer and toaster oven, so there's a ways yet to go for the heavy hitters on our electric bill.

Hey Bob,

One of the biggest sins in my eyes is the stove top kettle; if you currently heat water using one of these devices, replace it with an electric kettle that will do the job in less time and with much less energy. Likewise, if you require a large volume of hot water for cooking pasta or what have you, pre-heat the water in your electric kettle and then transfer it to the pot once it reaches a full boil.

Also, you might consider using a portable induction hob. We have a Vollrath that's built like a tank and 90 per cent efficient in its heat transfer, but you can often find other brands through online buy and sell services or at your local thrift store at a reasonable cost, e.g., I picked up a BergHOFF that was new in its box through kijiji for $20.00.

One of the nice things about a portable induction hob is that you can limit how much power they draw so that they can be operated on backup generator or PV system. With the Vollrath, you can set the power level anywhere from 1 to 100. At 10 per cent power, this particular model bounces between 6 and 300-watts; at 25 per cent, between 100 and 500-watts; 50 per cent, upwards of 720-watts; 75 per cent, up to 1,015-watts; and at full power, just under 1,400-watts. Just make sure you unplug it when done, because they still draw power when turned off, e.g., our Vollrath draws 3-watts.

You can get pretty adept at juggling things about, so a single unit should do the job quite nicely, at least nine times out of ten.


I'll definitely take a look at those, Paul. Thanks! (You only need to mention it for about 4 of 5 years, and maybe eventually I'll catch on! At least with cooking heat, it all supports the space heating, but may as well optimize it, too.)

I'm also keen to play with Insulative skirts & lids for some of my cookpots which are used for stewing soup-broths and other long-term cooking processes..

I'm a big fan of crock pots which are especially energy efficient and low-draw appliances. Ours uses 163-watts (http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/SC.jpg) and I cover the glass lid and wrap the sides with a couple old bath towels to help minimize heat loss. As things are nearing completion, I pull the plug and it will continue to cook for another hour or more without any further input. Most meals can be prepared this way using as little as half a kWh (our 5.2 kW convention oven requires three times that just to get up to temperature).


Circle the pot with foil. Open at the bottom, space at the sides and closed at the top. Collects hot air that would pass the pot and will prevent heat loss through the sides of the pot. Fold a kitchen cloth and leave it on top of the lid as a blanket.


How much water do you have to boil in the electric kettle to make up for the energy used to manufacture and ship it?

I don't have a clue, but would you expect the embodied energy of an electric kettle to be significantly different from that of a stove top model? And you don't have to buy new... you can pick-up a used kettle at a thrift store, garage sale or through an on-line service very inexpensively.

I bought our seventy-five year old flip down toaster at a thrift store for I think two bucks (http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/NToaster.jpg). It uses 440-watts versus a conventional pop-up at 900 or more and it toasts in less time. What I like about it is that I can toast bagels on one side as opposed to two. Two toasted bagels for about 0.02 kWh.


Concerning the Vollrath induction range, in addition to the expensive single "burner" (> $400), one has to purchase iron cookware. The only thing I currently have that would work is an iron skillet.

Model 59500P for U.S.: 1,800 W
Model 59510P for Canada: 1,400 W

Uninsulated electric skillets are usually around 1,500 W and insulated ones are usually around 1,200 W. If the induction range is 90% efficient, why does it have a high power rating?

I picked mine up second hand through kijiji for $150.00. The guy who sold it owned a small chain of coffee shops that went out of business and he obviously took some of the equipment with him before the doors closed. It was nearly new, in perfect condition and, IMHO, well worth every penny. Our cookware is induction compatible (http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/KvI.jpg), so there were no extra costs incurred in the switch-over from gas.

Regarding wattage, I generally cook everything at 30 to 50 per cent power unless I'm searing something, stir frying or require an unusual amount of heat, e.g., I boiled a large pot of lobsters on New Year's Eve.



Coming to a store near you: Oregano Resistant Bacteria!

Seriously, this makes it sound like the problem is 'artificial' antibiotics, as opposed to factory farming itself (love those pics, just what comes to mind when you hear 'organic', right? Riiiiiiiight.)

Not that it's not a step in the right direction, perhaps, but wow...


Meanwhile, while we wait for the next update about the Kulluk, here is a bit of somewhat more positive news from Alaska: Windy winter amps up production from Alaska's new wind turbines

The Fire Island and Eva Creek projects supplement power to the "Railbelt" (urban Alaska, such as it is). There are also quite a few ongoing wind projects in bush Alaska. These are mostly wind/diesel hybrid projects designed to reduce the amount of fuel needed in rual villages.

I've just read the news about the venezolan president, Hugo Chavez, which is in his last breath, before he will die, I give him no more than one or two days. After 14 years of Chavez' dominance, what will follow? Will there be regular elections or political turmoil?

The civil society has remained weak, while the governement is highly corrupt. Besides, Venezuelas is the nearest geopolitical "burning point" of the USA, how will this play out?

There are clear constitutional laws indicating what should be done if Chavez dies before assuming his next presidential term, or after. I suppose there could be some uncertainty if he expires during his oath.

The military, the legislature, the electoral council and the major political figures all have stated that they will respect the democratic process each time there is an election, I can't see that this time would be any different. They've had lots of practice running elections around here, and from what I can tell they're quite good at it. (High participation, solid anti-fraud provisions, fast/clear results).

Or in the event of the death or disability of the president, the vice-president assumes power.

Chavez still in 'delicate' condition three weeks after surgery, Venezuelan VP says, CNN, Catherine E. Shoichet, updated 7:03 PM EST, Wed January 2, 2013:

He (Vice President Nicolas Maduro) said Sunday that the complications emerged as a result of a respiratory infection the Venezuelan president has been battling. Maduro did not provide additional details, but said Chavez was "being treated in a process that is not without risks."

"They (right-wing political opponents) are capable of inventing, manipulating and creating situations of anxiety," he said. "They are capable of mocking delicate situations like what we have gone through."

I suggest, wait until he dies before declaring him dead.

Best Vehicle Sales Streak Since 1973 Boosts U.S. Dealers

Meh. Certainly good for car-makers and dealers. But since this came at a time when gas prices are so low, I suspect a lot of people have bought gas-guzzlers that they will be regretting 2 or 3 years from now. :-/

The surprising thing to me was that people had the money to buy cars. Guess the economy's not as bad as all that.

Money printing and deficit spending are the only reason why industrial countries have not collapsed. When the industrial countries reach debt saturation and the money printing stops then the economies and financial systems of the world will collapse. This will bring about the long awaited shark fin oil collapse and the end of BAU. In the mean time people by new cars and dream of energy abundance....

Yup. look at the increase in $ GDP vs the increase in $ debt. The US is adding way more debt than in GDP. Over the last 10 years or so GDP has increased by 3-4T but debt has doubled. One of the things that kept the game going was interest rates which were grinding lower and lower....

Actually, seems it has been going on ever since the 1950s, according to the chart:


Since we are debating the deficit, debt and upcominn sequester/tax expiration, lets take a closer look at the history of the American Surplus & Deficits over time.

As you can see, going wildly into the red or black was common in the days before an income tax existed in the 19th century.

I don't think you can say anything all too final about the economy from this. Most People HAVE to have cars, the way things are set up for us all. I wonder how much additional debt this represents for middle class and working class families? How many other household budget items are getting put on the wait lists as people dutifully continue to keep the roads rolling? Maintenance, Dentists, Savings, Retirement.. ?

I wonder how many car dealerships are making more extreme sacrificial offers just to move product, and how many loans are being approved, Fannie and Freddie style, to customers who shouldn't be getting them?

People have to have cars, but they don't have to have pricy new ones.

There's also this:

State, local government finances humming again

Wracked by the recession, state governments overall are starting 2013 in their best financial shape in several years.

As a result, states' improving health could help cushion any blow to the economy from tax hikes and likely federal spending cutbacks this year, economists say.

"The worst of (the recession-related problems) are behind us," says Don Boyd, senior fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, which studies state fiscal issues.

I've been on the fence a long time, but now I think the economy really is improving. It's not booming as many hoped, and who knows how long it will last, but I think the recovery is legit. (The election is another data point, IMO. Obama would be gone if the economy were bad on Main St.)

And now the Fed has officially committed to printing something like $80 billion a month, indefinitely. That will only increase. The dollar is dead.

St. Louis Adjusted Monetary Base (BASE)

Any recovery is a mirage due to liquidity from money printing. A recovery would require growth, and the US has been contracting since 1999.

Null is right. I will take it a step further; without the life support system of cheap credit/government debt industrial economies begin to die. So yes as long as the patient is hooked to life support everything appears fine. Unplug the life support machine....

The price of a USED car in the USA, especially a fuel-efficient one, is FAR higher than it used to be a few years back. I think that indicates that more people cannot afford a new car. But some are. There is always a turnover, with some really old cars being scrapped and some new ones being made and bought, and the in-between cars moving down the pecking order. What's changed is that people at each level are are keeping their cars longer, or until the cars are older, then they used to, and prices have adjusted accordingly.

The scary thing is the car market in China, where the new cars (more sold each month than in the USA) mostly do NOT replace old ones being scrapped, but rather are being added to what's already there, enlarging the fleet.

Or maybe it's the cash for clunkers hangover?

The thing that sucks is that the more well-off people that buy new cars don't fuel-efficiency into consideration much (because they are well-off). Thus, the less wealthy people in the used market then don't have much choice other than the not-so-fuel efficient cars that were bought by the wealthy people.

The few fuel-efficient cars that do enter the used market often can command a bit of a premium. Thus, the Toyota Prius as a pretty good resale value. Other factors that improve resale value is the popularity of a car such that it is easier to get parts for them and keep them running for a long time.

s/money to buy/money to finance/g

It will be interesting to watch to see if people are able to keep up on their payments, or have to return them, resell, or get them repossessed.

Seems housing did great for a while, then looking back we now called it a bubble.

Yeah, I've been saying there is a "gas guzzler bubble" being inflated. But the bubble will continue to inflate now with the shale oil plateau.

But even real estate seems to be recovering. That's the reason local governments are doing better. They get their revenue from property taxes.

But since this came at a time when gas prices are so low, I suspect a lot of people have bought gas-guzzlers that they will be regretting 2 or 3 years from now.

I don't know about that. As a fellow reader of autobloggreen.com , I'm sure you must have seen the news recently, about the good sales growth for the Chevy Volt, a little less so for the Nissan Leaf and other alt fuel vehicles in general. In addition to this piece:"Toyota Prius is 2012's second-most searched car on Autoweek" that, contains a link to sa story announcing that the hybrid was the best-selling car in California. In addition a few of the models from Ford that feature the EcoboostTM motors offer significantly improved fuel economy. Two Ford models come to mind the full sized Fusion and the F150 which have models with impressive fuel economy figures considering their size.

I will add my own personal observations from visiting the cities of San Francisco and Seattle over the summer, where I got my first glimpse of a Fiat 500 that, at least in these two cities the idea that a car has to be the size of a Crown Vic to be a real car is solidly out of fashion. In addition, in these two cities the US has examples of cities that function quite well with electrified public transport (electric trolleybuses and trams/light rail). Being in these cities gave one the impression of a more enlightened US of A. Of course, I expect that my experience is absolutely not representative of the whole country and that, had I visited the "heartlands" (the states that voted republican in the last US elections), my experience would have been very different.

Baby steps in the right direction.

Alan from the islands

It would be difficult to find cities less representative of the United States.

The fuel efficient offerings from Detroit have certainly greatly improved. And in the long run, I think that will be very good for them. However, you can lead a horse to water . . . . etc. I the MPG average of new vehicles sold remains pretty low.

But it is hard to blame the people. Gas prices are low and the news stories are telling us that the USA will be pumping more than Saudi Arabia soon . . . and that we'll be exporting oil! We'll just have to see how that plays out. I suspect the IEA has been a bit too over-optimistic.

Gas prices are "low"?! Amazing how perceptions change. First time they were as high as they are now (about $3/gallon) people were thinking it's the end of the world. But, after they've seen $4, $3 is the new "low". Keep in mind that the annual average price of gasoline in the US in 2012 was the highest ever.

Yep, that is how it works. Slowly heat up that water and the frogs keep swimming around. They won't notice that their gasoline expenses are growing and growing relative to all their other expenses.

I think there is actually a movement in Texas that is aiming to have Seattle, New York and San Francisco secede from the country instead of themselves. As it is, those places are considered a little worse than 'Foreign' by a good swath of my countrymen.

I do think there are many car buyers who 'aren't idiots' .. and who know that they need to have a level of protection against new upswings in gas prices etc.. but still, as with the lightbulb discussion above, there are plenty of folks who scoff any need for changing views or habits, and so big Truck and Suburban sales will always have a foothold there.

The question will be whether that foothold still has a foothold.. but I don't ask that kind of question out loud unless I'm in one of America's 'foreign' cities.. alas!

I think most people want to new car to be more efficient than the older one. But they end up compromising, accepting a 20% improvement instead of going to something smaller, which might double their milage. So the SUV owners buys a new one, that gets 18mpg to replace his old 15mpg one, not a 50mpg Prius.

And that does help. But yeah . . . eventually people are going to have to realize that they need to scale down to something smaller. Unless you make a lot of money or have a business reason for a large vehicle, you are just wasting your money with massive vehicle. If you buy such a vehicle then you have absolutely no right to whine about gas prices . . . you contributed to those higher gas prices by buying a vehicle that consumes much more gas than you really need to consume. Your fault.

eventually people are going to have to realize that they need to scale down to something smaller.

Unfortunately I'd have to move to Brazil to buy this new VW in the 1 liter version, which I'd do in a heartbeat if it were available here.


Some will scale down size, some will down-scale driving, some both....and some neither. All depends on income...

I think most people want to new car to be more efficient than the older one.

I dunno, maybe. But at least twice I've owned a vehicle wherein the later model's efficiency went down, as the mfr sought to respond to other consumer wants. My '92 Civic got ~44 mpg, but by '96 or so, it had been beefed up and mpg was down to ~37. Same thing happened with the Mazda 323, which was transformed into the lower mpg Protege.

Well, back then gas was cheap and even got cheaper. And in addition to consumers wanting feature-creep, the government added several new regulations that added weight & cost to the vehicles.

Also, a guy going from 6g/100mi to 5g/100mi will save $3-4 for each 100mi driven. A guy driving a 2.5g/100mi Prius going to a new 2g/100mi Prius will save only half as much, both for himself and the world in general.

For 2008 (most recent data in the report), of the 171B gallons of fuel consumed in the US, cars used 71.5, light trucks and SUVs consumed 61.2, and heavy trucks used 36.7. Buses consumed only 1.1 billion gallons.

Average mileage was 22.6 (cars), 18.1 (light trucks/SUVs), 6.4 (buses), and 6.2 (heavy trucks). The low-hanging fruit would appear to be to park low-mileage cars and light trucks, and instead drive above-current-average cars. It's not the cars getting 30mpg which could get 40mpg that are the problem, but trucks getting 12 being used in place of cars that would get 30+.

In addition a few of the models from Ford that feature the EcoboostTM motors offer significantly improved fuel economy. Two Ford models come to mind the full sized Fusion and the F150 which have models with impressive fuel economy figures considering their size.

I think there is an synergy here.

Just as a high oil price per bbl helps support fracking, once there is enough perceived demand/interest the auto manufacturers can justify the higher engineering cost to go from V8 lower mpg engines to more expensive combination of (V6 engines + turbocharging), as I believe Ford did for the F150.


At the retail level, a single standard car turbocharger runs roughly US$1000, for example.

I have also read that some full sized pick up truck manufacturers are discussing switching some metal from steel to aluminum. I believe this would also a tradeoff of higher mpg at higher mfg costs.

Updated Solar Cycle data from NASA with data added for December. Huge fall in Solar activity in December can be seen easily. This is the 10.7cm flux chart (as it is a nice clear chart) but exactly the same can be seen in sunspot number.

Also note these predicted values from http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/predict.shtml are much lower than elsewhere (including other NASA/NOAA sites) as they take into account events to date. Despite this we are still well below even the new lowered (again) expectations.

The Sun has shown some signs of waking up again as we start 2013. Solar Flux and spot count has picked up but is still well below where it should be and still nothing is flaring.

Couple more recent papers I have come across. The first concludes that the Open Solar Flux continues to cycle over an approximate 11 year period during Grand Minimums but that it moves into opposite phase with the solar cycle. There also appears to be a plateau level the solar flux doesn't drop below during Grand Minimums.

The second paper shows a correlation between Solar Grand Minimums and planetary positions.

Heliospheric modulation of galactic cosmic rays during grand solar minima: Past and future variations (PDF)

Author Information

1)Space Environment Physics Group, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
2)Oulu Unit, Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Physics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

Galactic cosmic ray flux at Earth is modulated by the heliospheric magnetic field. Heliospheric modulation potential, Φ, during grand solar minima is investigated using an open solar flux (OSF) model with OSF source based on sunspot number, R, and OSF loss on heliospheric current sheet inclination. Changing dominance between source and loss means Φ varies in- (anti-) phase with R during strong (weak) cycles, in agreement with Φ estimates from ice core records of10Be concentration, which are in-phase during most of the last 300 years, but anti-phase during the Maunder Minimum. Model results suggest “flat” OSF cycles, such as solar cycle 20 result from OSF source and loss terms temporarily balancing throughout the cycle. Thus even if solar activity continues to decline steadily, the long-term drop in OSF through SC21 to SC23 may plateau during SC24, though reemerge in SC25 with the inverted phase relation.

And Is there a planetary influence on solar activity?

J. A. Abreu1,2, J. Beer2, A. Ferriz-Mas3,4, K. G. McCracken5 and F. Steinhilber2

1 ETH Zürich Institut für Geophysik, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
2 Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Postfach 611, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
3 Departamento the Física Aplicada, Universidade de Vigo, Spain
4 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA/CSIC), Granada, Spain
5 University of Maryland, USA

Context. Understanding the Sun’s magnetic activity is important because of its impact on the Earth’s environment. Direct observations of the sunspots since 1610 reveal an irregular activity cycle with an average period of about 11 years, which is modulated on longer timescales. Proxies of solar activity such as 14C and 10Be show consistently longer cycles with well-defined periodicities and varying amplitudes. Current models of solar activity assume that the origin and modulation of solar activity lie within the Sun itself; however, correlations between direct solar activity indices and planetary configurations have been reported on many occasions. Since no successful physical mechanism was suggested to explain these correlations, the possible link between planetary motion and solar activity has been largely ignored.

Aims. While energy considerations clearly show that the planets cannot be the direct cause of the solar activity, it remains an open question whether the planets can perturb the operation of the solar dynamo. Here we use a 9400 year solar activity reconstruction derived from cosmogenic radionuclides to test this hypothesis.

Methods. We developed a simple physical model for describing the time-dependent torque exerted by the planets on a non-spherical tachocline and compared the corresponding power spectrum with that of the reconstructed solar activity record.

Results. We find an excellent agreement between the long-term cycles in proxies of solar activity and the periodicities in the planetary torque and also that some periodicities remain phase-locked over 9400 years.

Conclusions. Based on these observations we put forward the idea that the long-term solar magnetic activity is modulated by planetary effects. If correct, our hypothesis has important implications for solar physics and the solar-terrestrial connection.

Those two papers would appear to be another run at proving that the Sun has an impact on climate, similar to what has been called The Jupiter Effect. The idea of the planets applying a controlling "torque" on the Sun was promoted by Landscheidt for decades, an idea which became popular within the denialist camp. HERE's another detailed discussion...

E. Swanson

From link up top: Oil production drains to nine-month low

"The drop in production is a reaction to weaker demand," said Michael Lynch, the president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts. "You are seeing the Saudis respond to market conditions."

Saudi Arabia, Opec's biggest oil producer, pumped 9.57 million bpd in December, the lowest level since October 2011. Output was down 130,000 bpd from November.

Is Saudi Arabia really holding back because of weak demand?? Not likely as Brent has been above $100/barrel for the whole year. Conclusion, Michael Lynch is wrong.

The only OPEC country "holding back" is Iran, and that's because of sanctions.

Frugal, there's no way you can make that assertion. KSA surprised a lot of people on this site when it raised production to 10 mbpd for a few months in 2012. When it was at 8.5 mbpd for some months in 2010 and 2011, I'm sure I recall some saying that they'd never pump more than 9! Fact is, they've been in a range of 8.5-10.0 for some time. My opinion (and, yes, it ain't worth nothin') is that at 10.0 mbpd they really are pumping "flat out" and would prefer to be at 8.5. They went to 10.0 because of the Iran sanctions, and probably as part of a deal with Obama. With US production significantly higher in the last few months, and Iraq creeping up, and maybe Sudan coming back on line, they can relax a little.

When it was at 8.5 mbpd for some months in 2010 and 2011, I'm sure I recall some saying that they'd never pump more than 9!

Check out this graph on Brent spot prices
It clearly shows that the average price in 2012 was higher than in 2011 and especially 2010. That's why production was lower back then, and that why I don't believe they're holding back at today's prices.

With US production significantly higher in the last few months, and Iraq creeping up, and maybe Sudan coming back on line, they can relax a little.

Why would they "relax" unless there's a significant drop in prices?

I hope Ron will jump in here with his take, but I'm thinking there's little incentive for Saudi to cut production voluntarily. They have committed to big public expenditures to ward off social unrest and need every petro-dollar they can get. Also, their ramped up production in early 2012 was done to offset Iran sanctions according to public statements -- Iran sanctions are still in place! Yes, Iraq has the potential to challenge Saudi in oil production, but it hasn't yet and prospects are looking less rosy based on recently reported problems (see LUKOIL).

So, there are reasons to believe that the drop in production is not by choice. Even so, a drop of 130,000 bpd in one month is pretty steep. It's hard to believe that's just from production decline, but if it is then expect some big shocks in the near future.

OK, Kingfish, then you need to explain in detail the huge swings in output within the range 8.5 - 10 mbpd, over the past 3 years. If they're not voluntary, then what? For every other country on this planet, the reasons behind the changes in output are reasonably obvious. How did KSA increase their production from 8.5 to 10.0 if they didn't have spare capacity to do so? And why shouldn't they "take their foot off the pedal" back down again with the global economy soft and the US election done and dusted. It really doesn't help TOD's credibility when commenters parade every downtick in production as occurring because of "natural decline" while every uptick is conveniently ignored!

It really doesn't help TOD's credibility when commenters parade every downtick in production as occurring because of "natural decline" while every uptick is conveniently ignored!

Small, in the order of 100,0000 barrels/day, monthly downticks or upticks are meaningless, just random fluctuations caused by things such as maintenance or maybe even draining/filling of storage tanks. What does matter is the natural decline rate versus new mega-projects coming on line. There's currently only one mega-project in the pipeline, Manifa. Yes, there will be an upward jump when Manifa is ramped up, but before this happens, there should be a smooth (discounting random fluctuations) production decrease caused by natural decline if the Saudi's are indeed pumping all out as I believe. After Manifa, the smooth decline should continue as there is currently nothing else of that magnitude coming online in the foreseeable future.

Historically high average yearly prices are for me strong evidence that the Saudi's aren't voluntarily holding back production at the moment. Another proof was the Saudi's inability to make up for lost Libyan production during the civil war. If the Saudi's production capacity was 12.5 million barrels/day at the time as they claimed, why did they produce only 10 million barrels/day?

Does anyone know if they still burn oil for electricity? I was in Jeddah in 2008 and saw the big dirty smoke stacks from their power plants and assumed it was oil. That would be very wasteful if they still do that.

I've heard through fairly direct local gossip that Ellison just doesn't like windmills. He likes solar panels.


Please explain in detail where I said they weren't voluntary. I didn't say that, obviously. What I did say is that they have little incentive to cut production voluntarily. That's a very different statement. It doesn't ascribe causality but raises a question. I also said that a production drop that steep was unlikely to be solely the result of decline. There are "involuntary" reasons beyond production decline, such as maintenance or other above ground causes.

However, I would contest Frugal's contention that 140,000 bpd swings are meaningless, random fluctuations. Yes, it's a small percentage, but it's a big drop in the direction of their long term 9.5 mbpd ceiling. And there is nothing random about oil production -- it increases for a reason and it declines for a reason, even in the short term there is always a reason -- it's not a monte carlo simulation. Of course, nobody outside KSA knows the reason, and there could be many explanations. But given that KSA has an urgent need to fund domestic programs and given that oil prices are historically high, it's hard for me to believe they wouldn't be maintaining a higher production level if they were capable of it. But that's just my opinion.

My guess is that KSA does have some small excess capacity which they brought online during the Libya crisis but that they no longer can or wish to maintain it. Whether it's depletion or choice doesn't really matter much to the rest of the world, either way the supply is reduced.

What exactly is their production when the OPEC OMR states Saudi Arabia reported by direct communication 9.492 Mb/d in November 2012 (Table 5.5), the EIA reports 10.0 Mb/d and the IEA reports ~9.9 Mb/d? Because the error bars encompass hundreds of thousands of barrels per day, small variations are nothing more than noise.

Latest on the Kulluk
From www.kullukresponse.com Update #18:

Update #18: Salvage Assessment Team Safely Boards Drilling Unit
Information gained is critical to finalizing Kulluk salvage plan

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A team of six salvage experts boarded the grounded drilling unit Kulluk earlier today to conduct a structural assessment to be used to finalize salvage plans, currently being developed by the Kulluk Tow Incident Unified Command.

The six-member team was lowered to the Kulluk by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter at about 10:30 this morning. The assessment lasted about three hours. A helicopter safely hoisted the team from the drilling unit at about 1:30 p.m. The Coast Guard helicopter and crew also delivered a state-owned emergency towing system to the Kulluk, which will be used during salvage operations.

Efforts to place a team on-board the rig to conduct the assessment were put on hold due to severe weather conditions over the past several days. Calmer conditions this morning created a window that enabled the assessment to take place.

Smit Salvage is heading up salvage operations. Smit is a highly experienced salvage company that has assisted in hundreds of operations worldwide, including the Selendang Ayu salvage that took place off the coast of Western Unalaska in 2004. It also assisted in the Costa Concordia salvage off the coast of Italy in 2012.

The information gained from the on-site assessment will be invaluable in helping to evaluate the available options for freeing the rig from its grounded position. Following the completion of their mission, the assessment team was returned to Coast Guard Air Station/Kodiak.

There is also a video of the USCG delivering gear to the salvage team on the Kulluk.

Marine Weather Forcast as of 400 PM AKST WED JAN 2 2013:
Tonight: S wind 35 kt diminishing to 25 kt after midnight. S of dangerous cape...S wind 25 kt. Seas 16 ft. Rain and snow.
Thu: S wind 25 kt. Seas 16 ft. Rain and snow.
Thu Night: S wind 20 kt. Seas 13 ft. Rain and snow.
Fri And Fri Night: S wind 20 kt. Seas 10 ft.
Sat: S wind 30 kt. Seas 13 ft.
Sun: S wind 20 kt. Seas 16 ft.
Mon: W wind 30 kt. Seas 19 ft.

More on the Kulluk
From KTUU News

The salvage team also delivered an emergency towing system from DEC, including a tow line and messenger line as well as a lighted buoy and chafing gear. The system was used to aid in the December 2010 recovery of the freighter Golden Seas, which had lost power near the Aleutian Islands.

“The system is rated for 900,000 pounds so yes, it can tow (the Kulluk),” said DEC’s John Brown. “But we want to make sure that we hook into something that isn't going to cause more damage or hurt somebody -- that's our concern, so now we’ve got the riggers on there and they’re looking at it to make sure that when we connect it up, there's no risk of hurting anybody.”

Salvage team? Does that mean the rig is destined to become scrap metal now? Or are they just specialists at getting the rig off the reef and towing it to somewhere where it can be repaired?

That's why the salvage experts landed on the Kulluk, to see how badly it is damaged and develop a plan to pull it off and repair it...if possible.

You can bet that Shell will make every effort possible to retrieve and repair it. If they can't then their arctic plans are probably doomed. They are required to have two rigs available for their drilling in the arctic, in case they need to drill a relief well. Their plan was to have the Kulluk drilling in the Beaufort and the Discoverer working in the Chukchi. In a worst case scenario if they needed a relief well, they could pull either rig off its location to go to the other location. There just aren't many rigs around anymore that are ice strengthened and can operate in the arctic. Even if there were, it would take too long to mobilize a rig from outside of Alaska. If they can't save the Kulluk, they are probably hosed.

The only thing working in their favor is that because it is built to work in the ice it is a rather stout rig. Double hull, double bottom, 24 separate water tight compartments, extra thick steel hull...etc. If it were a normal offshore rig it would probably have been pounded to scrap already. Google "Selendang Ayu" to see what can happen to an ordinary ship when it runs aground in Alaskan waters.

More Kulluk news: Weather lull allows Salvage crew to board, evaluate grounded Shell drill rig

Hours after the team returned to land, details about what it found and the implications for the next steps in any recovery effort remained closely guarded by the Unified Command structure in charge of the operation and communications with the press.
They offered limited details about what the onboard salvage team discovered: intact fuel tanks, a tank in a "void space" that was "sucking and blowing" -- cause for concern, and an otherwise seemingly intact rig that remained upright in 30 feet of water. The unified command promised to deliver Thursday a more in-depth assessment of the day's findings and how the salvage effort will proceed, acknowledging that the day's onboard salvage team did not enough time to do a full evaluation.
Most of the land on Sitkalidak is owned by the Old Harbor Native Corporation. The village of Old Harbor is located on Kodiak just across from the island, on the other side of a protected strait. In Old Harbor Wednesday, villagers were paying attention to the unfolding drama with the drill rig, but also busy with life as usual. Commercial fishing for cod is underway, and crab fishermen are gearing up for tanner crab season, which begins Jan. 15, said Melissa Berns, Vice President for the Alutiiq tribe of Old Harbor.
“We're from a maritime community, and we are well aware of situations happening with marine vessels. It all goes with living with the conditions that we do out here. They just happened to come into a bad storm,” she said.

Guess we will have to wait until tomorrow to hear more about salvage plans.

New Year's resolution: Don't drill in Arctic waters.

"New Year's resolution: Don't drill in Arctic waters."

Not to nitpick, but just to point out that the Kulluk incident happened at roughly 57 degrees N Latitude. That is not in the arctic, but is about the same latitude as the North Sea in Europe.

Well, if it is this bad in the Pacific, then pull that rig north and see what goes...

Well, up north they are drilling in the summer season. It is currently winter in the Gulf of Alaska. Also, the main hazard up north is ice. The presence of ice actually tends to moderate the sea state. There is a concept called "fetch", which is important in how severe waves get. It means how big a stretch of open water there is for the wind to work on. The bigger the fetch, the bigger the waves tend to get. The fetch for the Gulf of Alaska is more or less the entire Pacific Ocean. The fetch for arctic waters tends to be a lot less, due to the presence (at least for now) of sea ice.

I'm not trying to minimize the seriousness of what has happened with the Kulluk, but people do need to keep some perspective. Large, well found vessels have foundered in the North Sea and the North Atlantic, from time to time. Perhaps we should avoid all maritime activity in those waters as well?

There has been much hand wringing in the world wide media about the ~150,000 gallons of diesel on board the Kulluk. In 2004 the M/V Selendang Ayu wrecked in the Aleutians with ~450,000 gallons of diesel and lubricants aboard. I don't recall nearly as much world wide worry about that. But...I guess that was different....?

A bit of history and perspective on Alaskan waters:

In 2004 the freighter M/V Selendang Ayu lost power and eventually wrecked on Unalaska Island, breaking in half. Helos from the USCG Haley and Air Station Kodiak rescued the crew of 27. During the rescue, the H-60 Jayhawk from Kodiak sucked a wave into it's air intake and crashed into the sea with 3 Coastguard crew and 7 rescued freighter survivors aboard. The 3 crew and 1 of the survivors managed to escape the sinking Jayhawk and were saved by the Haley's bird, the other 6 drowned. The Selendang Ayu had ~442,000 gallons of mostly bunker fuel and some diesel aboard. No one knows for certain, but perhaps 338,000 gallons were spilled. Smit Salvage (currently under contract to salvage the Kulluk) was ultimately able to recover the rest and removed half of the wreck. See the following for more info:
Selendang Ayu
Selendang Ayu images

In a near repeat, in Dec 2010 the Golden Seas lost power out in the Aleutians and very nearly grounded. Golden Seas had ~542,000 gallons of bunker fuel and diesel aboard. However, in that case the tug Tor Viking was able to respond from Dutch Harbor and take the Golden Seas under tow. Disaster was avoided. Ironically, Tor Viking was under contract to Shell, and had been staged in Dutch Harbor because Shell thought they were going to get permits to drill that year.

Alaskan waters are a tough place, even outside of the arctic. But was there much angst on TOD or elsewhere (outside of Alaska) about the Selendang Ayu and Golden Seas incidents? Right now we have an apparently intact Kulluk aground, no loss of life, with 1/3 or less diesel aboard than those ships, and so far not leaking. And it is quite possible that Smit might still be able to pull it off the island intact. But it is owned by the big bad oil companies, so I guess it is different.

I doubt you get those sorts of average winds, and especially not the waves in the arctic. The Gulf of Alaska anchors a deep north pacific low about half the time during the winter. Its quite a stormy place.

I'm wondering if the Kulluk salvage will be as difficult as this one: Costa Concordia Salvaging a shipwreck bbc - YouTube

Latest Kulluk update from press conference Thursday afternoon in Anchorage.
From ADN: Shell describes damage to grounded drilling rig

.....Shell Alaska operations manager Sean Churchfield outlined problems inspectors discovered during a three-hour visit to the rig Wednesday:

Waves have damaged the top side of the vessel.
A "number" of watertight doors have been breached, causing water damage in the rig. Some of the doors have since been secured, Churchfield said.
Emergency and service generators are damaged.

They also indicated that it is too early to predict when the rig will be salvaged. Salvage experts again boarded the rig today (Thursday) and are continuing their assessment. There has been no indication of a fuel leak.

From KTUU: Kulluk Has Suffered Damage Since Grounding, Hasn't Leaked Oil

Steven Russel, the state’s on-scene coordinator with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, said at an Anchorage press conference called by the incident’s Unified Command that no environmental impact from the grounding of the Kulluk -- estimated to contain 143,000 gallons of low-sulfur diesel fuel and 12,000 gallons of other petroleum products -- has yet been detected by continuing overflights. The state’s response efforts, however, are “ongoing” to protect sensitive habitats in the region.

A cargo jet carrying thousands of feet of orange containment boom which landed at Old Harbor, the nearest community to the site of the Kulluk’s grounding on the south side of Sitkalidak Island, was met Thursday by a group of locals, including Old Harbor Mayor Rick Berns. The boom was offloaded onto trucks and driven to the local harbor, from which it will be moved to the Kulluk’s grounding site as a precaution.

The Kulluk Incident Command had a meeting with the Kodiak Borough Assembly this evening, and the meeting was live tweeted. Below are the tweets from that meeting:

.@Shell_Alaska VP Pete Slaiby: The primary fuel on board is ultra low sulfur diesel. 27 minutes ago
.@Shell_Alaska VP Pete Slaiby: The salvager is waiting on speciality equipment being sent to Anchorage. 28 minutes ago
.@Shell_Alaska VP Pete Slaiby: We are encouraged at what we are seeing of the integrity of the hull. 29 minutes ago
.@Shell_Alaska VP Pete Slaiby: There was an aspiration to get improvements on the drilling systems themselves. 31 minutes ago
.@Shell_Alaska VP Pete Slaiby: Warranty work was required to be done on the generators. 31 minutes ago
.@Shell_Alaska VP Pete Slaiby: The Kulluk did not leave for tax reasons. 32 minutes ago
.@USCGAlaska Capt. Jerald Wolozynski: To further the safety, temporary no-fly zone and maritime safety zone. 38 minutes ago
.@Shell_Alaska VP Pete Slaiby: My personal commitment to do things right here. 43 minutes ago
.@Shell_Alaska VP Pete Slaiby: There was damage done to the electrical system on board, but by far the structure looks good. 44 minutes ago
.@Shell_Alaska VP Pete Slaiby: We are ground on an area that is made of mud, sand and gravel. 45 minutes ago
.@Shell_Alaska VP Pete Slaiby: Safety is our primary objective in this. 46 minutes ago
.@Shell_Alaska VP Pete Slaiby: I can promise we will make our best response possible. 47 minutes ago
The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly is currently holding a meeting. We'll live tweet. Listen here: http://t.co/6wH8Q6oH 59 minutes ago

Encouraging take-aways are that so far the structure seems to be holding together, and that they are aground on mud, sand and gravel. It ain't over till it's over, but that suggests that it may be possible to pull the Kulluk off intact.

So, using algorithms developed during previous "events":

"Kodiak Island Borough Assembly": locals

"A "number" of watertight doors have been breached...": A bunch of doors were left open.
"The Kulluk did not leave for tax reasons.": The Kulluk was moved to avoid taxes.
"To further the safety, temporary no-fly zone...": NO UNAUTHORIZED PHOTOGRAPHY
"Safety is our primary objective...":

Wow... I'm glad they denied it... I never even thought to look... and in today's American news, if you don't know to look, the story does not exist... like Occupy:
Shell hoped to save millions in taxes by moving now-grounded drill rig out of Alaska

"A Shell spokesman last week confirmed an Unalaska elected official’s claim that the Dec. 21 departure of the Kulluk from Unalaska/Dutch Harbor involved taxation."

""To further the safety, temporary no-fly zone...": NO UNAUTHORIZED PHOTOGRAPHY"

...and they've closed the beaches, just like during the Gulf spill:

"One way to get to the site involves a 40-minute boat ride from Old Harbor, a trip up a narrow bay, a hike through brown bear country, which requires a permit from the Native corporation, and a climb over a ridge to a stretch of shore just out of reach of high tide, said Jeff Peterson, an Old Harbor hunting and fishing guide.

But even someone willing to do all that couldn’t get to the site today, he said. Carl Marrs, the former head of the Cook Inlet regional corporation who is now chief executive of the Old Harbor corporation, told Peterson he’s stopped the issuance of any permits; the corporation is trying to get a contract to work for Shell."


Grounded Shell drilling rig has Alaska village residents concerned

Land ownership in Alaska is quite complicated. Prior to Statehood, virtually the entire state was under federal ownership and control. For the most part, one could go anywhere one wanted, land your plane anywhere you wanted, hunt or fish anywhere you wanted.

The Statehood Act (1959)transferred a significant portion of land to the State of Alaska. Orignially, Alaska Natives were more or less left out of the land transfers. This led to the formation of the Alaska Federation of Natives which was organized to fight for Native rights, including land. The discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay, and the subsequent plans to build the Trans Alaska Pipeline made resolution of Native land issues critical. The 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) transferred a large portion of the State to Native regional and village corporations. It is their land and they can do with it what they want. Travel on Native land without permission is tresspass. Some are quite militant about keeping non Natives off of their land. Others are more open, and allow access by non Natives for a fee. Some Native Corporations have chosen to lease land ofr oil or mineral development, and some have not. If Old Harbor wants to keep you off that island, that is up to them.

Like I said, Alaska land issues are very complex and poorly understood, even by many Alaskans. Many land ownernship issues are still being resolved today, more than 50 years after statehood. For anyone who is truely interested in Alaska Native Land issues, I highly recomend William L. Iggiagruk Hensley's book "Fifty Miles From Tomorrow". You also will want to look into the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (or ANILCA), which is also part of the story.

If the Gulf states want to keep you off their beaches, that is up to them.

...it is the timing that is interesting...

The only thing I remember about Alaska is that we bought it from the Russians. The Russians had forts they couldn't much step out of. The Americans ran into "resistance" from the natives, so stood offshore and pounded their villages with naval bombardment. The obliteration of native peoples was standard operating procedure.

"Winning" in Afghanistan could similarly be done in the old American way, indistinguishable from the old Stalin way. Er... except Stalin didn't bother with a bunch of empty treaties.


I just remembered that Greenpeace made a hoax video mocking the launch of the Kulluk:

Well, there hasn't been a spill yet but funny coincidence.

So does this mean Shell Oil's 2013 drilling season is over? By what I understand, they are required to have two rigs available in case one needs to drill a relief well. And with this one grounded . . . are they down to one arctic rig such that there will be no 2013 arctic drilling for Shell?

I think they are still hoping to salvage this rig. If they can't, yeah, the drilling season's over.

Cheapest cars to fuel

The EVs have it...

Yep. MUCH cheaper. This fact needs to become more well known as a common retort is "But now your utility bill go up as much as your gas bill was!" which is not true.

But the much higher up-front cost of an EV and their short range makes them unappealing. We are getting to a point where the total lifetime costs of an EV are about the same or lower than the total lifetime cost of a gas car. But that requires the tax-credit and you have the downsides of an EV (short range and long recharge time). So it is going to take a significant drop in battery prices or a significant hike in gas prices (or a combination of the two) before significant numbers of people move to EVs.

The long hard slog continues. There won't be a revolution, just evolution. Hybrids and PHEVs will be the evolutionary steps.

Say goodbye to Al Gore's Current TV:

Al Jazeera buys Current TV, will launch new channel

I doubt the NeoCons will see this as much of an improvement, if they even notice.

Ghung - Maybe not. While in Africa I got hooked on Al Jezeera international news. Straight news with little of spin that you see in just about all US MSM.

and they (al jazeera) actually discuss population growth issues

They do? That is awesome. I think population growth issues really REALLY need to be discussed in the mid-East where the population growth rate compared to the amount of potable water and arable land is bound to cause serious problems. The oil-exporting countries can ignore population growth for a while but even they are running into problems as the domestic population is seriously eating away at their export capacity due to heavy usage of subsidized gasoline and heavy use of air conditioning powered by oil-fired power plants.

It's already been noticed:

Time Warner Cable Drops Current TV Upon Sale To Al Jazeera

Joel Hyatt, who co-founded Current TV with former Vice President Al Gore, told staff in a Wednesday night memo that Time Warner Cable "did not consent to the sale to Al Jazeera."

Japan: New Fossil Fuel Resources

On Oct. 3, Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. extracted shale oil on a trial basis from 1,800-meter-deep bedrock in the Ayukawa gas field in Akita Prefecture. But the estimated total shale oil deposits in the prefecture is equivalent to slightly less than 10 percent of the oil Japan consumes in one year. The Natural Resources and Energy Agency says that the shale oil in the prefecture will not contribute much to improving Japan's energy self-sufficiency.

In late November, a panel of the government's ocean policy headquarters came up with an interim draft report for the nation's new basic ocean policy. It said that the government should push the development of methane hydrate resources in the seas around Japan by setting numeral targets and timelines so that extracting methane from methane hydrate becomes a viable industry by 2025.

... Around mid-February in 2013, Japan, Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. plans to start a test to dissolve methane hydrate in a layer some 1,300 meters below the sea surface off Atsumi Peninsula of Aichi Prefecture.

Yellowstone River Oil Spill: Delayed Response From Exxon Made Matters Worse, Feds Say

The report, provided to The Associated Press by the office of Montana U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, marks the first time federal regulators have highlighted specific actions by Exxon as contributing to the severity of the spill.

... The spill released about 63,000 gallons of crude from Exxon's 20-year-old Silvertip pipeline into the river near the city of Laurel. That damage would have been reduced by about two-thirds if controllers in Houston isolated the rupture as soon as problems emerged, investigators said.

Instead, after Exxon personnel partially shut down the line and were weighing their next steps, crude drained from the severed, 12-inch pipeline for another 46 minutes before a key control valve was finally closed.

The "volume would have been much less" and the location of spill "would have been identified far more quickly" if Exxon's emergency procedures had called for the immediate closure of upstream valves, investigators said.

The report also faulted Exxon for lacking a plan to notify pipeline controllers that the river was flooding.

other ... Comparison of the Corrosivity of Dilbit and Conventional Crude

and Tax Free Tar Sands

Comparison of the Corrosivity of Dilbit and Conventional Crude

Bottom line:

This review has indicated that the characteristics of dilbit are not unique and are comparable to conventional crude oils. Additional work is recommended ...

Which is what I would have expected knowing what I do about the chemical characteristics of dilbit and conventional crude oil (they are just about the same).

The disclaimer that more study is required is standard in all studies about anything.

US Town Bans Bottled Water

A law passed by the town of Concord went into effect with the New Year, making single-serving bottles of water illegal.

The ban is intended to encourage use of tap water and curb the worldwide problem of plastic pollution.

... First time offenders get a warning. Anyone caught selling the banned bottles a second time will be fined $25, and $50 thereafter.

Prediction: rise in obesity.

"It only applies to "non-sparkling, unflavored drinking water." Coke or other soft drinks are exempt."


They're trying to cut into the insane trucking of tapwater from one place to be sold as something "special" in another. Personally, I'd ban all of the Coke like crap from now and forever too but even Thoreau himself probably couldn't manage that.

So in one place they (try to?) ban large serving size soft drinks, in another small serving water bottles... it seems like somehow the root problem is being bypassed. Perhaps there should be a celebrity campaign of "I drink from the water fountain" or "I use a normal cup".

It's not just the "glamor" of bottled. It's that selling bottled water has become so profitable that often, there isn't a water fountain or free water any more. You have to pay $2 for what used to be free, or used to cost maybe 5 cents for the paper cup.

For example, at many pro sports facilities, they will search you as you enter to make sure you are not bringing in any food or drink, to force you to buy it from the concessions. If you ask for a cup of water, they'll insist on selling you a bottle (with prices as high as $7). Some states have laws requiring that people be allowed to bring in their own bottles of water (usually hot states, like Arizona), but it has to be new and sealed - no reusable bottles.

Normally, I always have water on me. Took me while, but I finally figured out that I need to empty my bottle before going through airport security, then fill it back up on the other side.

They wont let you take a bottle of water (make you throw it out), but an empty bottle sails right through. Fortunately, most airports have fountains or some kind of water on the "inside".

Bridge To Nowhere? NOAA Confirms High Methane Leakage Rate Up To 9% From Gas Fields, Gutting Climate Benefit

Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have reconfirmed earlier findings of high rates of methane leakage from natural gas fields. If these findings are replicated elsewhere, they would utterly vitiate the climate benefit of natural gas, even when used to switch off coal.

Indeed, if the previous findings — of 4% methane leakage over a Colorado gas field — were a bombshell, then the new measurements reported by the journal Nature are thermonuclear:

… the research team reported new Colorado data that support the earlier work, as well as preliminary results from a field study in the Uinta Basin of Utah suggesting even higher rates of methane leakage — an eye-popping 9% of the total production. That figure is nearly double the cumulative loss rates estimated from industry data — which are already higher in Utah than in Colorado.

If thats anything like typical -and it can't be substantially fixed by better regulation than fracking really is a problem. I already think it is as there is a huge temptation to export displaced coal rather than leave it in the ground.

eos - If you read through the article on that CO field they don't claim the methane is coming from any of the wells. They are just measuring the concentration of methane in the atmosphere above the field. If you want to know if methane is leaking from a well head or any other section of the production equipment you don't need a satellite or a bunch of researchers studying data. Once a week my production hands walk the entire system with a methane detector checking for leaks. And while I would like to say I have them do it for the sake of AGW it ain't so. Unlike retail methane sold to homes/businesses our produced methane has no odor. If you not running a test meter you don't know you have a leak until it blows up and kills a hand and/or destroys your equipment. Thus our hands take testing very serious.

Mapping hydrocarbon emissions above undrilled areas is a decades old exploration tool. Typically not a very practical or successful tool but it has worked in the past. As I've pointed out before those that study such matters estimate that 95% of all hydrocarbons generated have leaked to the surface. And that process would still be going on today. That's one of the problems identifying offshore GOM manmade pollution: there's so much oil/NG leaking naturally it gets confusing. The CA state geologic survey (not necessarily friends of the oil patch) estimate that 175,000 bo naturally leak from under the Santa Barbara channel every year. That's also one of the problems identifying the source of methane contamination in water wells where there's been a long (before any oil/NG well was drilled/frac'd) and well documented history of methane in water wells. I just drilled a shallow well in Texas and found a nice 20' thick NG reservoir 46' below ground level. The same reservoir is in my water supply well I drilled just 200' away. There's a well a few miles away that produced $6 million of NG from several reservoirs up shallow in the fresh water aquifers.

Again, that isn't arguing that any of that methane above the CO isn't coming from the production effort. But it would only take a $600 meter and one person walking around for a few days to confirm if the operations are leaking methane or not. I don't know how it works in CA but in Texas a TRRC engineer can walk up to any well without anyone's permission and test for a leak. If he finds a leak he has full authority to shut the operator down immediately and then fine the crap out of him. Same with the DNR in La. Except their fines are a lot higher.

TRRC must not make it by some sites very often. I was at a site a month or so ago where a tank had the thieves' hatch open, and venting enough to frost the 400bbl tank. Bad separator valve, I suspect. Nobody seemed too concerned about troubleshooting it urgently.

I've also seen equipment eroded by H2S vapor, and if the H2S is leaking then other gases are as well.

But I agree with your point -- if not for H2S and/or an oily smell, a casual site visitor won't notice most leaks. And if it's H2S leaking much, he likely won't notice it for long.

Of course every packing gland on a rod pump leaks a little, and sometimes pop-offs pop, and some valves can vent to atmosphere vs line if a greater differential is required, and of course valves get stuck and flares go out and vapor recovery compressors go off-line, and so forth. But most such events are reportable incidents and are fairly closely watched for safety and regulatory value in addition to the fact that leaking product that you pay $M to obtain is pretty silly. Unless you're in the EF or Bakken, anyway, where flaring is rampant.

America's Real Criminal Element: Lead

I had heard of the lead-crime link before, but Drum presents incredible evidence that lead from paint and old gasoline is a leading cause of crime and poverty. Better yet, he presents evidence that cleaning up the remaining lead will have massive social benefits far, far outweighing the cost. Fewer prisons, more soil scientists.

Fewer prisons, more soil scientists

Obviously a lot of people whose oxes would be gored. Fewer prison jobs, especially. Might be a tough sell politically, even if any rational analysis says its a slam dunk.

This was very interesting. I recommend everyone to read the full article.

Transocean in $1.4bn Gulf settlement

Transocean, the offshore drilling contractor that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon rig that sank in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, has agreed a $1.4bn settlement with the US Department of Justice to resolve civil and criminal claims against it.

No charges have been brought against Transocean employees, according to one person familiar with the agreement

BP has already agreed to settle civil claims from private sector plaintiffs, for an estimated $7.8bn, and criminal charges from the DoJ for $4.5bn.

and Transocean to Settle All U.S. Claims in Gulf Oil-Rig Disaster

2013: Oil and the Middle East

... Economists point to one factor that influences countries in the Middle East and North Africa above all others: oil. Consider that of all the regimes to fall during the Arab revolutions of the last two years, not a single one was an oil exporter. Petro-states have the funds to keep their people satisfied. So I was surprised when I looked at the International Monetary Fund’s latest growth outlook. It projects that the region’s oil exporters (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq) will have grown by 5.3 percent in 2012. Oil importers (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan) will have grown only 1.2 percent. But come 2013, that disparity will shift. The IMF projects that oil exporters will slow to 3.8 percent growth while oil importers will speed up to 3.3 percent growth

not a single one was an oil exporter


Obviously, Libya is an oil exporter and obviously the government was overthrown, so obviously the statement is incorrect.

Also, Iran is and was an oil exporter when the Shah was overthrown, although that was more than 2 years ago and Iran is Persian rather than Arabic. Egypt was a net oil exporter until recently.

I don't think being an oil exporter is any guarantee that any of these Arab governments won't be overthrown sometime in the future. It's an unstable part of the world.

Drought impacts Soil rhizobia populations

Severe drought conditions limited soybean production (6.2 percent per-acre yield decline from 2011) across much of the U.S. in 2012. The implications of the 2012 drought may progress well into the 2013 growing season. One area of concern among growers is the impact of the drought on soil microbial populations, most importantly Bradyrhizobium japonicum. Soybeans live in a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with B. japonicum. The soybean plant provides nutrients and a protective growing environment for the rhizobia, says UW-Madison Soybean Specialist Shawn Conley. In turn, the rhizobia “fix” atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia (NH3), which can then be used by the soybean plant. For this relationship to exist and benefit the soybean plant, effective nitrogen-fixing bacteria must be present in the soil in relatively high numbers at planting time.

To further complicate the situation, most soybean acres will be planted into corn ground that was subjected to severe drought stress. This suggests that excess nitrogen may be present for the 2013 soybean crop, Conley continues.

In excess situations soybean will generally utilize the background nitrogen prior to initiating maximum N fixation. This may lead to luxurious early season growth, which in fields with a history of white mold, may cause problems if weather conditions are conducive. High soil N reserves may also lead to increased lodging

Shale oil and gas predictions for 2013 and beyond

... predictions for the next three years. Some may happen sooner, some later. But they'll all happen by January 1 2016. Probably.

... Russia wises up.They'll figure out that the story is to increase demand, not try and scare people that supply won't show up. They'll be making so much oil money from their Exxon/XTO technology in the Bazhenov shale that oil gas link pricing won't matter so much.

... the closer to 2016, the more likely we'll see $50 oil, but even 2013 wouldn't surprise me.

... California shale will, if the movie stars let it, reinvigorate the Golden State's economy over the next two to three years.

... with North American crude exports by the end of this decade being an absolute certainty (and I'll take any bet going on that), Saudi Arabia can still impact world oil prices by modulating production. The issue will be not only be the subtraction of US demand leading to price pressure, we also see the emergence of Iraq as globally significant supplier.

... The UK will kick start shale gas in Europe, which in turn will hurry shale up in Germany, France and Spain. It will also surprise Poland into action not words, but I remain hopeful that some actual flow figures from Poland will help there too.

... The technology of supply is going to impact that of demand. There are going to be not only huge supplies, but changes in demand that will go further than transportation, generation and process industries. We are on the cusp of a technology led energy revolution that will make the Internet look like peanuts.

... probably not a doomer

No surprise there:

Nick Grealy is the publisher of No Hot Air, a forum on energy issues published from Britain that follows the emergence of shale gas around the world. He also is a consultant on shale gas issues to a variety of energy industry, financial organizations, major end users, and government clients, and is supported by advertisers on his associated site Shalegasinfo.eu.

I generally expect better from CSM...

Taiwan undersea oil plans raise neighbors' eyebrows

Taiwan’s Bureau of Mines and its top energy company plan to explore this year for some of that oil near an islet that the government holds in the Spratly archipelago, a spokesman for the company said.

“Lacking much naval power, Manila would have a hard time actually physically preventing any oil exploration by Taiwan,” says Scott Harold, associate political scientist at the RAND Corp., a policy research nonprofit in the United States.

“Hanoi would have a better prospect of reacting militarily, but any stand-off would potentially put them on the wrong side of both Washington and Beijing,” he says.

But much of the oil is already spoken for. China’s state-owned CNOOC Ltd. began drilling undersea last year, and its peer in Hanoi, PetroVietnam, has started surveying. The Philippines is also contracting out other exploration tracts.

Fellow claimant Malaysia currently produces about half the South China Sea’s oil, which is estimated at 1.3 million barrels per day. Brunei also claims parts of the ocean.

Ivory Coast aims to boost oil output after discoveries

ABIDJAN, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast hopes to raise its oil output to around 200,000 barrels per day in five years from 32,000 bpd now thanks to recent discoveries and ongoing exploratory drilling, a top oil official said

Shanxi rail tunnel explosion 'covered up'

The State Administration of Work Safety says a subsidiary of state-owned China Railway Tunnel Group concealed the December 25 explosion in northern Shanxi province in a railway tunnel under construction.

The official Xinhua news agency says the blast was revealed online.

Xinhua says an initial investigation found that the accident was caused by illegal blasting operations and concealed by the construction project’s manager.

Tehran governor orders shutdown over pollution

Schools, universities and government offices in the Iranian capital will be closed on Saturday for the second time in a month because of high air pollution, Tehran governor Morteza Tamadon said Thursday.

Blamed mainly on bumper-to-bumper traffic, the pollution is a constant woe for the eight million residents of a city wedged between two mountains which trap fumes over Tehran.

Western sanctions on fuel imports have also forced Iran to rely on domestic production of petrol of a lower grade, and therefore more polluting, than in many other countries.

Efforts by officials to boost public transport, including extending the metro and establishing lanes for buses only, have barely dented the problem because of the growing number of cars, many of which are old and inefficient.

Here's a new blog post on the Shell/Arctic situation.

"The Age of Easy Oil"

Are US electricity sales on the wane?

Electrical usage dropping nationwide

Despite the fact that more televisions, air conditioners and computers are being used more than ever before, America’s use of electricity is hardly growing at all.

The Energy Information Administration is projecting that electricity use in the U.S. will rise an average of just 0.6 percent a year for industrial users and 0.7 percent for households through 2040.

In recent decades, utilities could rely on electricity consumption growing by more than 8 percent a year, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Even after the Arab oil embargo in 1973, the growth in electricity demand averaged 2 percent to 4 percent annually.

See: http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/blog/morning-edition/2013/01/elec...

Personally, I expect the decline to be a little steeper than what's suggested here; my suspicion is that utility planners haven't quite caught up with the new reality as yet.


Well, it is probably a combination of a depressed economy and the widespread adoption of newer more energy efficient technology.

Depressed economy: Less businesses, people feeling poor and thus conserving energy to save money, businesses & governments cutting back on excess lighting to save money, etc.

Energy efficiency: CFLs, LED lighting, old power-hungry CRT televisions thrown out and replaced with LED back-lit flat panel LED televisions, a tablet computer to browse the web instead of a big desktop computer connected to a CRT, people switching from electric heat/stove/dryer/hot water to natural gas since it is better/cheaper, and all our appliances (refrigerators, AC, dishwashers, clothes washers, etc.) are all now much more efficient than in the past (Thank you, EPA! . . . Yeah, the much maligned EPA really deserves huge amounts of credit for this due to their various Energy Star programs.)

But I think electricity usage will continue to increase. More people will get AC. More people will buy Plug-In hybrids (PHEVS) or pure EVs. General population growth. The phase-out of incandescents will certainly help slow the increase.

I agree with everything you've say, except the last part. Most all white goods and household electronics have achieved market saturation, and I can't imagine much opportunity for future growth, e.g., most every American home is already equipped with a dishwasher and I dare say the ones that are not most likely never will. Natural load growth has basically come to an end, and the vast array of technological advancements/innovations that will increasingly chip away at demand have yet to make their presence felt.


I don't know how typical we are, but my wife and I have made big efforts to reduce our energy consumption over the last five years and it has nothing to do with our economic situation and everything to do with our desire to not be wasteful. However, we have now picked all the low hanging fruit in terms of energy savings and it's hard to see how we could reduce much more.

On the other hand, I just got back from Las Vegas (aka The Hell Hole) and I swear you would think electricity is free there. And gasoline as well -- the entire trip from Los Angeles saw a steady stream of cars in BOTH directions on I15 THE ENTIRE WAY! There was no let up. All I could think is that this will be one of the first places to go. And I won't shed a tear.

Well ironically, Las Vegas can be a place of massive energy savings. They were previously wasting HUGE amounts of energy with all those big lighting displays with incandescent bulbs. But all the incandescent bulb lighting displays are being replaced by LED powered displays. Thus, they've probably reduced a lot of energy demand. But perhaps an increased number of displays and larger displays have overwhelmed the savings.

Idle No More: Hints of a Global Super-Movement
by Jacob Devaney