Drumbeat: January 5, 2013

Exports of American Natural Gas May Fall Short of High Hopes

HOUSTON — Only five years ago, several giant natural gas import terminals were built to satisfy the energy needs of a country hungry for fuels. But the billion-dollar terminals were obsolete even before the concrete was dry as an unexpected drilling boom in new shale fields from Pennsylvania to Texas produced a glut of cheap domestic natural gas.

Now, the same companies that had such high hopes for imports are proposing to salvage those white elephants by spending billions more to convert them into terminals to export some of the nation’s extra gas to Asia and Europe, where gas is roughly triple the American price.

Just like last time, some of the costly ventures could turn out to be poor investments.

The Natural Gas Bubble

The hype surrounding natural gas is a last push to take toxic assets—literally, in this case—dress them up as fancy investments, and then sell them off to unsuspecting Americans.

“Public policymakers need to be very aware of the promotional aspect of shale gas,” petroleum geologist Art Berman says. “This is a very efficient public relations and business machine. They have done a really good job of convincing public policymakers that shale is revolutionary.”

The industry’s reach, many say, infects the Department of Energy and its Energy Information Agency.

China shale gas still 10 years away

PERTH (ICIS)--The shale gas revolution offers huge opportunities for petrochemicals, perhaps not only in the US but also elsewhere in the world.

One day, China, which, according to the US Energy Information Administration has the world’s biggest shale-gas reserves, might make use of the technology that has transformed the global energy picture.

But geological, political and technological challenges abound that could hold back the revolution in China and elsewhere – perhaps, in fact, in every location outside the US.

Oil Caps Biggest Weekly Gain in Three Months

Oil gained in New York, capping the biggest weekly advance in three months, after U.S. employers hired more workers than expected in December.

Prices increased 17 cents after the Labor Department said payrolls rose by 155,000 workers last month, exceeding the 152,000 forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Futures were down for most of the day as the Energy Department reported gasoline and distillate fuel supplies jumped a combined 7.14 million barrels last week.

Crude Oil Options Sink Most Since May on U.S. Jobs Data

Crude oil options volatility sank to the lowest level since May as the underlying futures advanced on a better-than-expected U.S. employment report.

Implied volatility for at-the-money options expiring in February, a measure of expected price swings in futures and a gauge of options price, was 21.66 percent at 3:40 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down from 22.77 yesterday. That’s the lowest since May 2, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Low 2013 gas prices will soon evaporate

Gasoline prices remain below $3 a gallon in at least 50% or more outlets in 14 states. But the national average has crept up three cents to $3.30 a gallon the past week and 8 cents since hitting a 2012 low of $3.22 in mid-December.

Iran inaugurates huge gas storage facility

Azerbaijan, Baku - Iran inaugurated "the first natural gas storage facility in the whole Middle East", the Mehr News agency reported.

The Sarajeh facility, located in the city of Qom, near Tehran, will have capacity to store 1.2 billion cubic meters of gas in its first phase and the capacity will be increased to 3.3 billion cubic meters in the second phase, ISNA reported.

Turkey Seeks Partnership With Qatar to Build Third LNG Terminal

Turkey is seeking investment from Qatar to build the country’s third liquid natural-gas terminal, which may be located close to the country’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.

“It will help meet the needs of Greece and Bulgaria and reduce shipments through the straits” of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, Yildiz told reporters today while flying to Algeria. The terminal would handle at least 5 billion to 6 billion cubic meters, he said.

Valero forms joint venture for Texas marine terminal

(Reuters) - Valero Energy Corp and private Houston industrial developer TGS Development are building a new marine terminal near Port Arthur, Texas that will be able to receive crude oil tankers up to Suezmax class, Valero said on Friday.

Colonial Repairs Spur Biggest Gulf Gas Loss in 3 Weeks

A delay in repairs to Colonial Pipeline Co.’s main gasoline line running from Houston to North Carolina today spurred the biggest loss for U.S. Gulf Coast gasoline in more than three weeks.

Colonial’s Line 1, which carries more than 1.4 million barrels of gasoline from Houston to Greensboro, is operating at reduced flows as the company repairs damage to a booster pump. Colonial today said it “discovered significant damage” to the pump and pushed back the expected completion of maintenance to Jan. 7 from Jan. 5.

What lies behind renewed tensions over the Falkland Islands?

Press reports say up to 8.3 billion barrels of undersea oil reserves could lie in the Falklands economic zone -- a radius of 320-kilometers around the islands, but despite successful drilling, this quantity is still speculative.

The figures are backed by claims from small oil ventures, including Rockhopper and Borders & Southern Petroleum, which are hoping to raise capital for further exploration in fields licensed by the islands' British-backed government.

Nigerian police say Hyundai paid some $190,000 for hostages

ABUJA (Reuters) - An arrested gang leader told Nigerian authorities that South Korean firm Hyundai Heavy Industries paid a 30 million naira (119,770.56 pounds) ransom to release six workers kidnapped in Nigeria's oil region last month, police said on Friday.

Unconventional wisdom: 5 possible energy surprises for 2013

I don't think any of the following is likely to happen in 2013. But, any one of them would certainly surprise most people and most experts and upset the plans and expectations of many governments, businesses, investors and consumers. Here are my five possible energy surprises for 2013:

OPEC's Massive $1Trillion Haul In 2012 While Sowing Jihad

This torrent of money flowing into OPEC, especially into the Persian Gulf States, raises the question how is this massive windfall being put to use other than providing fresh capital for the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, as those of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

Promised Land - Movie Review

The fact is (as Steve Butler said) fracking has been going on for fifty years with little environmental damage. The biggest damage we are likely to see from it is the wide scale expansion of fossil fuel burning to generate electricity and heat our homes, as opposed to renewable resources. The result will be more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, more climate change, and Hurricane Sandy Senior paying us a visit.

Chevron firefighters may have gouged pipe

The pipe that fed a huge fire at Chevron's Richmond oil refinery in August appears to have been punctured from the outside, possibly by company firefighters trying to get at a small leak before the blaze ignited, investigators said Thursday.

The 40-year-old pipe had already been weakened by the heavy sulfur content of the crude oil being pumped through it, according to a draft metallurgical report on the fire that was prepared for federal and state investigators.

Petrobras announces new discovery in post-salt of Marlim Sul, Campos Basin

The accumulation is located in Eocene-age arenaceous reservoirs at a depth of approximately 2,965 meters. Preliminary estimates indicate an oil column of 100 meters, with oil quality similar to the oil produced in Marlim field (13 to 16 degree API). Tests to evaluate the productivity of the reservoir are expected to be completed in 2013.

Fire engulfs Indian Oil plant in Surat, no causalities reported

A major fire broke out at a plant of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) in Surat on Saturday.

Shell: Alaska Government Approves Removal of Kulluk Rig from Island

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) and the U.S. Coast Guard are setting the stage to remove Shell's oil rig from where it crashed Monday on an island off the southern Alaska shore, the company said Saturday.

Removing the Kulluk, the rig that ran aground on the uninhabited Sitkalidak Island hours before New Year's Eve, will be the first step in winding down an incident that has reintroduced Shell's $5 billion plan to drill for oil in the waters off Alaska as a target for opponents of Arctic drilling. The accident could also complicate Shell's plans to return to the Arctic when drilling season begins in mid-summer.

Coast Guard pursuing investigation into Alaskan drilling ship

(CBS News) CBS News has learned that the U.S. Coast Guard has called in their criminal investigators to probe potential violations of federal law involving the activities of a 572-foot oil drilling and exploration ship owned by the Noble corporation, and contracted by Royal Dutch Shell to search for oil in the arctic. Royal Dutch Shell owned the drilling rig, the Kulluk, that ran aground in rough Alaskan seas Monday.

The revelation that another Noble ship working for Shell may have been operating with serious safety and pollution control problems bolstered allegations from environmental activists that the oil industry is unable to conduct safe oil drilling operations in the Arctic Ocean.

CROOKED CLEANUP (1): Radioactive waste dumped into rivers during decontamination work in Fukushima

Cleanup crews in Fukushima Prefecture have dumped soil and leaves contaminated with radioactive fallout into rivers. Water sprayed on contaminated buildings has been allowed to drain back into the environment. And supervisors have instructed workers to ignore rules on proper collection and disposal of the radioactive waste.

Decontamination is considered a crucial process in enabling thousands of evacuees to return to their homes around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and resume their normal lives.

But the decontamination work witnessed by a team of Asahi Shimbun reporters shows that contractual rules with the Environment Ministry have been regularly and blatantly ignored, and in some cases, could violate environmental laws.

CROOKED CLEANUP (2): Some decontamination workers sorry for following orders

A man in his 20s questioned the shady practices involved in decontaminating areas in Fukushima Prefecture, only to be assured that everything was OK.

He continued working and watching others around him dump the collected waste instead of properly storing it for disposal.

Like him, other workers involved in cleaning up the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster expressed concerns. One even apologized for what he did.

But they were on the bottom employment levels in the decontamination process, and their words apparently meant nothing to their supervisors.

CROOKED CLEANUP (3): Reporters document extent of shoddy decontamination practices

To discover the extent of shoddy decontamination practices, Asahi Shimbun reporters spent 130 hours observing, photographing and interviewing workers at various locations in Fukushima Prefecture from Dec. 11 to 18.

Early on Dec. 14, one of the reporters visited a forested area in Tamura, about 17 kilometers west of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and positioned a camera at a site about 50 meters up a slope from a local road.

CROOKED CLEANUP: Government mishandled complaints about shoddy cleanup work

Environment Ministry officials failed to act on a flood of complaints from residents in Fukushima Prefecture about companies carrying out shoddy decontamination work.

No effort was even made to record the number or contents of those complaints, in part because staffing shortages made such work difficult, and many of the companies involved were not instructed on how to improve their performance.

Tepco's Fukushima HQ starts operations

Futaba Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa meanwhile said his town, which has moved its administrative functions to Kazo, Saitama Prefecture, because of the triple-meltdown catastrophe, has set a provisional goal of enabling former residents to return to their homes in 30 years, the half-life of radioactive cesium.

More residents refuse nuclear benefits after Fukushima disaster

The number of households declining benefits for living near nuclear plants has nearly doubled since the Fukushima disaster, reflecting growing opposition to a system long criticized as paying off citizens to promote nuclear power.

Court should order US NRC to resume Yucca review: petition

Washington (Platts) - Petitioners seeking to force US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to resume its review of the Department of Energy's application for a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, on Friday said Congress' failure to act on the matter means a federal court should immediately order resumption of the work.

Staten Island Ferry Goes Green With Natural Gas

In a bid to save fuel and reduce emissions, the Staten Island Ferry will convert a boat to run on liquified natural gas sometime this year, a move that will halve fuel consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent.

Ford C-Max hybrid roomy, economical

Fuel economy is a reason to buy the 2013 Ford C-Max hybrid crossover, but not the only reason. That matters because critics have questioned how close the C-Max's real-world gas mileage comes to its eye-popping EPA rating of 47 mpg in the city, 47 on the highway and 47 in combined driving.

Grid Problems Curb India’s Electric-Vehicle Appetite

In May, an acute power shortage took hold in Ampere’s home state, Tamil Nadu. The supply of rationed electricity in most of the state dropped from 13 or 14 hours a day to 8. Almost immediately, said the company’s co-founder, Pachyappa Bala, the company’s monthly sales dropped from 600 bikes to 60.

Ampere’s plight highlights an unexpected consequence of the worsening power shortages in India. The fledgling market for electric vehicles, which might help clean up the polluted air, is losing traction because customers aren’t confident they can fill up the battery.

Whoops—'Cash for Clunkers' Actually Hurt the Environment

Though almost a million people poured into car dealerships eager to exchange their old jalopies for something shiny and new, recent reports indicate the entire program may have actually hurt the environment far more than it helped.

According to E Magazine, the “Clunkers” program, which is officially known as the Car Allowance Rebates System (CARS), produced tons of unnecessary waste while doing little to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Why Can't We Have Glow-in-the-Dark Highways Like the Netherlands?

It's one thing for the rest of the world to have way cooler trains than us. America has chosen car culture, for better or worse. But now comes word that the Netherlands is building way awesomer highways, while ours are stuck in the 20th Century. The Netherlands! If this isn't a wake-up call for the United States to invest more in infrastructure, I don't know what is.

Ethanol Output in U.S. Caps First Yearly Decline Since 1996

Ethanol production in the U.S. fell 3.2 percent to 807,000 barrels a day last week, capping the first decline in 16 years as record corn prices crimped profits.

Output averaged 859,000 barrels a day in 2012, or 13.2 billion gallons on an annualized basis, down from 13.8 billion in 2011, according to Bloomberg calculations based on an Energy Department report today. Stockpiles fell to 20.2 million barrels in the seven days ended Dec. 28 from 20.3 million.

China Share Of Electricity From “Clean Energy” Increases To 20.2%

China's Xinhua recently announced that the nation's share of electricity coming from "clean energy" has increased to 20.2%, 3.3% more than at the same time last year. As you may well know, "clean energy," according to China, includes nuclear and large-scale hydropower.

Leading Environmental Activist’s Blunt Confession: I Was Completely Wrong To Oppose GMOs

As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.

So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.

Cattle: the beasts that will fill our bread basket

Farmers are learning lessons from pre-history on how to maximise crop yields and improve soil quality

Al Gore, friend of the petro-state

To whom did the Lord of the Upper Atmosphere sell? Why to al Jazeera — which is to say, effectively to the ruler of Qatar, a wealthy country that has nothing else to sustain it but the sale of its huge petroleum resources.

Qatar is about oil, oil and more oil. It is a global warmer’s hell.

Will Biomimicry Offer a Way Forward, Post-Sandy?

As neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Sandy begin drafting plans for reconstruction, some progressive architects and urban planners have been pointing out that the emerging science of biomimicry offers a way forward. The notion is that the next generation of waterfront designs could draw inspiration from the intricate ways that plants and animals have adapted to their situations over hundreds of millions of years.

The era of the Superstorm

Satellites like these are expensive -- $1 billion each -- and they take five years to build and launch.

Compare that to the cost of major storms, like Sandy which is estimated to have inflicted nearly $80 billion in damage in New York and New Jersey alone. Not to mention the cost in human lives.

Malaysia: Floods due to global warming, says Najib

KUANTAN: The recent floods are not only due to the monsoon season but also due to global warming, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said the Government and other parties should not be blamed for the disasters as they were facing a phenomenon which was out of their abilities to tackle effectively.

Effects of climate change could alter eating habits, experts warn

Manila: Changes in global temperature could alter the eating habits of Filipinos, particularly their fondness for eating rice, a lawmaker warned citing findings of international experts.

An Antidote for Climate Contrarianism

I would guess a few Green readers had the experience, over the holidays, of arguing yet again about global warming with a parent or brother-in-law who thinks it’s all a big hoax. Maybe there’s some undiscovered substance in roast turkey that makes people want to pick fights around the dinner table.

Fortunately, the M.I.T. climate scientist Kerry Emanuel has provided us with a solution to this problem: an updated edition of “What We Know About Climate Change,” his 2007 book explaining the science of global warming.

What can 2012's biggest sustainability stories tell us about 2013?

From changing perceptions on climate change in the US to big names being tackled on tax avoidance, the signals are all there.

Why businesses shouldn't let carbon fraud halt U.S. cap and trade

Given the U.S. trends on climate regulation and the current political climate, it would be a mistake for industry to seize on the criminal activity as a reason to oppose consideration of a cap-and-trade approach. A closer examination shows that this criminal behavior either doesn’t have the potential to distort core cap-and-trade pricing or can be prevented from doing so. Moreover, in the current climate, cap and trade may well be Industry’s best bet for reducing the burden and cost of greenhouse-gas (GHG) regulations over the next four years.

Warming should rule out the coal expansion

Awareness of global warming is several decades old, and Seattle is proud to be a leader. We drive hybrid cars. We recycle our garbage. We vote Democratic. We’re good, no? “No,” says Peter Ward.

Ward is a professor of biology and of earth and space science at the University of Washington. He is a specialist on the Cretaceous period, from 135 million to 65 million years ago, when the sea level was higher than today and Puget Sound country was a steaming jungle. He is an expert on extinctions. He is a writer of science books, including The Call of Distant Mammoths: Why the Ice Age Mammals Disappeared (1997), and The Flooded Earth: Our Future in a World Without Ice Caps (2010).

Trade-offs to be made on North's coastal measures

SOME coastal communities may have to be sacrificed to protect other areas from sea flooding, suggest North East experts.

Allowing some areas to erode would release sediment and sand which could provide natural protection for other parts of the coast in the face of rising sea levels.

Obama's Sly Attack on Climate Change

The New Year will not mark a clean slate. Congress and the president will re-convene their hostilities. And while the impasse will prevent legislative action to fix the level greenhouse gas emissions, the president is nevertheless preparing a more insidious attack on climate change.

Climate change won't wait

Physics is implacable. It takes the carbon dioxide we produce and translates it into heat, which causes ice to melt and oceans to rise and storms to gather. And unlike other problems, the less you do, the worse it gets.

We could postpone healthcare reform a decade, and the cost would be terrible — all the suffering not responded to over those 10 years. But when we returned to it, the problem would be about the same size. With climate change, unless we act fairly soon in response to physics' timetable, it will be too late.

It's not at all clear that President Obama understands this.

Re: Climate change won't wait

Bill McKibben's commentary puts things in context. It's clear that the longer humanity waits to address climate change, the more difficult things will be. Is anybody listening in Washington???

E. Swanson

Is anybody listening in Washington???

Answer: No.

Fingers in ears, hands over eyes, hands over mouths. Monkeys mostly, I'd say.

They are paid well for that, you know.


I agree with Guy McPherson's take; sure they know. They're "juggling chickens and chainsaws" :

...They know, and they're just trying to get through the day, just like all the rest of us [...] juggling chickens and chainsaws, trying to get the system to hold together for another day... juggling chickens and chainsaws, that's what Van Jones said. That sounds about right...

The difference being that the Lawgivers pretend to 'promise' to make things stick together; the rest of us pretend to believe them. We all know, deep down inside, that so long as nothing changes it's all going South - the only question being how fast.

I hold our congresspeople to blame since they could actually make some changes in the structure. I hold the rest of us to blame for not making the individual changes that, if we all made them, could make a huge difference. I am sure there are some changes I could make... well, I know there are some. It is only the impact those changes would have on the comfort of those for whom I am responsible, and maybe, or probably, fear that they would not 'like me' were I do do all that is possible.

It is the fear factor that keeps anything from changing. For instance, how many times have you read, "it is scary" about items and comments on TOD? Scary is... well, scary. Fear paralyzes all of us; we end up with a 'better the devil we know' attitude. It is no wonder that we keep our devils in office.


I think it's a lot more than fear. Living with less energy can be uncomfortable and at some point requires sacrifices that are either difficult to make or in conflict with other things - giving up the car is the most obvious example in the US, as in many places the choice is either keep the car or lose the job. No car, no job.

Collectively, we are all responsible, but that means that individually we all can pass the buck. And very often that buck is the difference between behaving ethically or not, but also is another dollar keeping us from poverty. An example of this is the fire in the factory in Bangladesh that was indirectly caused by Wal-Mart cheaping out and refusing to put any money into preventing such things, or slavery used in the farming of cheap chocolate that is then sold to the big candy makers like Hershey's... Or, of course, anthropogenic climate change, where people see the electric bill but hardly see the electric plant.

Individual changes make a difference, and on a large scale can make a big difference, but it's not easy and if you have to fight society the whole way you can easily end up outcast and in poverty, at which point your energy use is low but your choices are horribly constrained. I really feel like sometimes people that say "people need to change" or "we're all at fault" are often projecting a very simplified picture of what that means. People do not make their choices in a vacuum.

Obviously the upper middle class and rich have a lot of options to do things better, but they're mostly sociopaths or great rationalizers anyways.

Living with less energy can be uncomfortable and at some point requires sacrifices that are either difficult to make or in conflict with other things

Currently I use electric heating and reduce the heat in the spaces not used. I have forest and if there had been a wood heater it had been to cheap to care.

Individual change is a beginning but must ultimately be part of a mass movement which pressures governments to make changes which are directed at the masses through law or regulation. Further, this law or regulation must be enforced by what many perceive as the heavy hand of government. There is a mass movement of people in the U.S. which are against any kind of change which involves the government actually forcing people to do anything, much less cut back on something they think is their God given right to a high energy consumption lifestyle.

This is why Obama just does things around the edges by stressing things like better gas mileage and investment in renewable energy. This seems like a relatively painless exercise which people perceive as a win win and does not force them to do anything other than drive more efficient vehicles.

Ending Apartheid started out by individuals which became a collective effort to punish South Africa for their policies. As impressive as this movement was, it required very little sacrifice on the part of people in the U.S. with respect to their lifestyles. Most people were probably only vaguely aware that there was such a movement.

Climate change is a game changer and is unlike any problem that we have every faced. You are telling people that the American dream is over and that they must change their whole way of life in the interests of using less energy. This requires frugality which is anathema to the American psyche.

To further exacerbate the problem, the boom in shale gas and oil production is abetting the view that Americans never have to cut back or make sacrifices. There is always a supply solution around the next corner. Throw in a little bit of manifest destiny and the feeling that we are God's chosen people and the situation is truly hopeless.

Oh, and the debate between liberals and conservatives is about the best way to grow our economy not about the best way to obtain a livable planet for our grandchildren. We are all supposed to cower in fear about the debt. Well, the debt will be solved when hell freezes over or when the problems of the Middle East or solved.

The other half of the story is we (U.S. residents and most of the industrialized world) are living under some form of democracy. Nationalistically-inclined citizens of most countries, particularly the U.S., very strongly resent being coerced to do anything, and become enraged in particular if it's perceived that the imposition is from outside, like some U.N. mandate or similar international consortium. The perceived loss of sovereignty over U.S. internal affairs, the perceived abandonment of personal "freedoms", even if it's to save the world for their children and grandchildren, will enrage and drive them to violence. Or vote into office a motley group of single-issue candidates who will campaign on that issue in the most blood-boiling emotion-stoking way possible.

So, following the democracy connection, the very first thing they will do is vote out of office the traitors who agreed to such a thing, and will vote into office their chosen "Tea Party" type who - once in office - will vote to overthrow and withdraw from such agreements as their predecessors supported.

That's a downside of democracy, and one reason I have little hope for a serious (with enforcement teeth) and global CO2 emission-reduction agreement. The people won't stand for it, once its true implications are well-understood. - DL

I am already being massively coerced to pay more than 50% of my Federal income taxes for endless Wars, and forced to pay State and local taxes to endlessly promote Auto Addiction.
Why should I have to pay for these?

The majority of Americans both want to end the Wars AND have more Green Transit options. It is the monied interests in both of these
that Wars and Auto Addiction.

Perhaps chief amongst many things I have never understood about 'my fellow Americans' is this: 'frugality... is anathema to the American psyche' I don't understand why anyone would want to spend more than is necessary for basic comfort, or any else, really. Being frugal - providing one's needs with the minimal outlay - has always just made sense to me. Why spend mega bucks every month on utilities, when a little thought and effort can trim those costs considerably. Same with credit. Why would I want to spend 3x times what a thing is worth by buying it on credit? Instead put the $ in an interest bearing acct. (pay yourself, instead of a credit company) and buy it outright in a couple of years. I used to attribute this trait in myself to having been raised by parents who came of age during the Depression. But everybody else's parents or grandparents also came of age during the depression, so that can't be it. Guess I just got some whacky gene that says don't spend wastefully or utilize resources unnecessarily etc. Makes living in this culture like living in an insane asylum, having been mis-diagnosed.

Well.. part of this is that you will mostly only HEAR about those who shun frugality, since it doesn't jibe with the core message and ideology that the advertisers would have you consider.

There ARE still frugal, sober and careful people throughout our society, but the public game is set up to insist that we owe the economy our fealty, and to do so, must play ball.. get goods and services that we may not necessarily need, be joyful in our acquisition of any number of blind addictions and brand allegiances. Collect them ALL, share them with your friends, order before midnight tonight!

We are taught to mimic advertisements, to the extent that we feel strange saying out loud, things that stand at odds with what we might hear the Sponsors saying, since they define 'with it', they determine if you're included or an outsider, they will lovingly guide you towards being happy, beloved and successful. Not possible for miserly old tightwads, is it?

I spend, therefore I am.

I got the demo when helping someone with a production problem. Spending money was their right, proof of their existence, and a sign of their success and status. A little workstation was lit with incandescent spotlights from a distance, because it was cute, at a cost of $300 for a month. They actually got very angry when I wanted to drive another mile to shop at a discount warehouse vendor rather than at a boutique showroom for the exact same things.

You must spend too.

Kids in school are singled out by the others if their clothes are not current. I was out of work and helping somebody with simple repairs. One day they asked what I was doing with the money. I told them I was living on it. They never paid me again. It was too much responsibility for them that I was using the money for food and such. I should have told them I was buying nose powder and paying off my beemer.

Everyone has their own world model. It is amazing how differently things are perceived, are taken, and how they resonate within another person.

As adamx cogently puts it as far as cutting our major source of greenhouse emissions:

giving up the car is the most obvious example in the US, as in many places the choice is either keep the car or lose the job. No car, no job.

This is where "personal" Environmentalism targeted only to individuals breaks down. Right now NJ transit is still limping along
with 10% of trains on a number of rail lines not working. A few months ago Gov Christie's Administration cut much needed buses even after a hearing which I personally attended with 10's of working class people protesting the cuts carrying petitions for several hundred riders. Over the weekend as we still have no schedules posted at virtually all the train stations, Christie cut even the customer service phone line to only 9-5 weekdays. God forbid you need to find out about a peak hour train past 5 PM or before 9 AM.
Green Transit as with stopping the Wars costing $1 Trillion per Year requires collective action! People have to organize and pressure Federal, State and Local govt's to provide Green Transit options. You cannot just decide to run a train yourself.

The same with flaring methane from oil drilling sites - it is out of sight but critical for the Govt to enact and enforce regulations on it.

"Personal" Environmentalism is totally ineffective boutique environmentalism which can provide marginal aid but not change the big picture which requires political organization and pressure.

Is anybody listening in Washington???
Answer: No.

Washington is listening. On the outer label the government is supposed to be listening to the people and be in place to benefit the people.

The label on the outside describing the operation does not match the actual operation however.

Governments listen - just not to you.

Once government figures out a way to make sure the Corporations have a protected profit over "solving" the issue, a law will get passed and by fiat you'll all be conscripted into making sure the people living in multi-million dollar homes and who feel $2 million a year take home pay isn't enough will keep their expensive homes and keep their large take home pay.

"It's not at all clear that President Obama understands this."

He is the fave of Oil-Qaeda because he is utterly clueless about what is already coming, no matter how much we do, and he is especially clueless about what is coming if we don't do as much as we can (New Climate Catastrophe Criminality Policy). He scares the hell out of the House denialists because he knows how to spell "global" and scares the hell out of environmentalists because he does not know what we are in for.

On the one hand, I would rather think that he is clueless than think that he doesn't really care. I think that he understands the problem in an abstract and intellectual sense but does not possess the understanding that is required in the gut. He has spent his life focused on other issues and cannot see that the mother of all issues is global warming. He keeps giving little hints from time to time that he might actually be taking this problem seriously but then retreats at the first sign of resistance. He is a realist, if by that one means that one is comfortable with sacrificing the welfare of future generations for what he perceives to be the pragmatic politics of the moment. For someone who appears to care deeply about his daughters, he acts as if he doesn't care very much at all. He is a conservative who is perceived by most of his followers to be a liberal, a great hope for change. But he provides very little hope and very little change.

Or, perhaps he has decided that solving the issue is hopeless so why waste one's time working on it.

Even if he's totally clued in and he really cares, he's still caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

On the one hand he has a problem that is fundamentally intractable, on the other he has a political constituency that would crucify him for trying to address it. I don't blame him at all for keeping his hands in his pockets and his eyes on the ground over this one.

At this point there is no political "solution" to climate change - we're well past that fork in the road. McKibben's pretense that there is a solution, when he himself says we need to stabilize CO2 at a point (350 ppm) that is at best thousands of years into the future, is intellectual dishonesty of the highest order.

So the difference between a pol who recognizes the situation, one who doesn't have a clue and one who doesn't care is no difference at all in the end.

BO no longer has a constituency. He cannot run again, and so could, if he had any strength of conviction, address any thing he wished. He is, though, just a frightened human being. Perhaps he is a very powerful one, but that does not change the level of denial possible. His fear is that he will be remembered as the guy in office when all the bad stuff hit the fan at once. And, so, he does all in his power to prevent as much from occurring as he is able.

He is a very capable and bright person... he may be able to kick the can to the next President. And, I submit that if that is all he accomplishes, he will not be remembered very well. He, and the current denizens of DC, could do wonderful things... things that could impact all of the rest of the World. All he, and they, need to do is decide to do it.

Any bets on that one?


Sorry, I meant "there is a (Republican) political constituency that would crucify him and the Democratic Party he represents..."

I don't know what BO knows or feels. But I do think he and his party would be hooped if he went off the reservation, so it doesn't really matter what he thinks or feels.

Obama is not a dictator. To get anything significant done, he needs to get through the House of Representatives that seems quite happy to keep on with the strategy of opposing anything Obama supports merely because he supports it. This is true even for policies that the GOP created or formerly supported such as the healthcare plan that passed, cap & trade, immigration reforms, etc.

Nothing significant is going to change much in Washington for the next 8 years. It is a stalemate. Through geography and gerrymandering the GOP has a lock on the house until at least 2020. And through demographics, the Dems will probably continue to hold the whitehouse. The only thing that will change Washington is external forces. And that could possibly happen . . . war, massive energy problems, massive climate problems, another financial melt-down, etc. But I kinda doubt any of those will happen. I think we are going to slog as is for at least the next 8 years.

Ah, knock it off, guys. Enough. We all know that nothing is gonna get out of washington worth spit, so why bother to bother with it??

So get to it and do it yourself.

And I will bet a dime for a donut that some really big climate whammy will hit right soon to give everybody a helpful boot to the butt.


National politics is, and politicians are, unable and unwilling to do what needs to be done. Period. Without doubt. End of story.

Action must come at the personal and regional level. Probably regions smaller than a state. Like town by town, and perhaps a few cities.

Why hasn't everyone bought an electric car, and put solar panels on their roof to power it (those who can afford it)? Many other examples exist. Please don't waste your time telling me why an EV and solar panels don't cut it.

Just do it. It won't save us but at least you won't be hypocrite. And save the energy of asking me if I've done it already. Call your local solar company instead.

So get to it and do it yourself.

An example of "do it yourself"

Today this engine is put under a Creative Commons licence (Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike). The complete assembly drawing is available as free download. Creative Commons License

Excellent, worth while project.

Good example. A much simpler and easy to make stirling concept is described below. It is essentially a lathe job, with no castings or complex machining. This particular engine is too big for a home, but can easily be copied in a smaller version that would be even easier to make, since small size makes the heat exchangers less challenging.

At a 1kW size, the hot end is just a simple straight SS tube- no fins.


As a kid, I intuitively felt that throwing, say, used batteries alongside organic kitchen food scraps into the same bin didn't make sense-- along with far too much of everything else. I figured pretty early on that many, perhaps most, adults inherited little more than the term, 'adult'.

As for Obama or government, they may just be going through the motions-- the earlier chainsaw-and-chicken-juggling analogy seems about right-- maintaining the status-quo/BAU while/so that those who see past the horizon prepare themselves before the switches are finally thrown or just plain wear out to a short-circuit, and then the curtain-call just sort of falls awkwardly down, onto some heads/shoulders, like an especially-bad school play.

He certainly has a few, such as Chu on his staff who do understand it. But IMO he has based his whole career on finding common ground compromises. So when he is blocked by his aversion to controversy, he does one (or both) of two things: accept a partial solution as a compromise position, and/or attack the problem -if perhaps only around the edges, by stealth. Thats what he has done on energy, pushing for CAFE standards, and pushing (to some degree) for renewables, and tightening EPA standards. Obviously this is far short of whats required. I'm not sure he could have been much more aggressive without losing out politically to forces far to his right however.

Not so sure I'd agree with:"He is a conservative who is perceived by most of his followers to be a liberal"? I think many liberals perceive him as center right as best, while many conservatives have drunk the coolaide, and consider him to be as far left as V Lenin.

"For someone who appears to care deeply about his daughters, he acts as if he doesn't care very much at all."

He's safely in the 0.1%, his daughters will be fine.

It is just too difficult, expensive, and uncomfortable for people to change. Just go look around where you live . . . all the cars driving everywhere and all the electricity that is mainly fossil fuel generated, and all the building heat that is mainly fossil fuel generated.

Do you expect all these people to stop using these things or replace them with a much more expensive and less convenient alternative? And for what justification . . . an abstract scientific concept (which is completely real) that plays out on time-scales longer than human lives.

It is far easier for people to go into denial. And thus they do. So deny it completely. So go into denial by thinking that getting a 30+MPG vehicle means they are fully doing their part.

That is the way it is. I don't see how it is going to change much until we have at least a foot or two of sea level rise and lose a city or two. (Increased storms will just be rationalized away.)

I don't see how it is going to change much until we have at least a foot or two of sea level rise and lose a city or two.

And by then it will be far, far too late.

"all the cars
all the electricity
all the building heat
all these people"

How many people do the 0.1% need? Up close to their lives, the nobles need only the likes of gardeners, drivers, maids, nannies, guards, and amusements. More remotely they need armies to maintain and extract their wealth and security. At a greater distance they need crews to produce the things that support the system at a level of technology that can resist natural forces and outside interference. Beyond that, everyone else is disposable: a threat, a load, or an object of exploitation.

Examples?: China was a tough nut to crack. The emperors had everything they needed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ming_Dynasty "The Hongwu Emperor (ruled 1368–98) attempted to create a society of self-sufficient rural communities ordered in a rigid, immobile system that would guarantee and support a permanent class of soldiers for his dynasty." The level of technology required to maintain this happiness was low. They populated their own heaven. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_sovereign Anyone outside of it was disposable. One Dodo killed 800,000. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yangzhou_massacre "...people were herded like sheep or goats. Any who lagged were flogged or killed outright. The women were bound together at the necks with a heavy rope - strung one to another like pearls. Stumbling with each step, they were covered with mud. Babies lay everywhere on the ground. The organs of those trampled like turf under horses' hooves or people's feet were smeared in the dirt, and the crying of those still alive filled the whole outdoors. Every gutter or pond we passed was stacked with corpses, pillowing each others arms and legs. Their blood had flowed into the water, and the combination of green and red was producing a spectrum of colors. The canals, too, had been filled to level with dead bodies." This is the noble's love and concern for the masses. Another 500,000 died for not getting a haircut. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qing_Dynasty "One of Dorgon's most controversial decisions was his July 1645 edict (the "haircutting order") that forced all adult Han Chinese men to shave the front of their heads and comb the remaining hair into a queue, on pain of death.[15] The slogan of the order is: "To keep the hair, you lose the head; To keep your head, you cut the hair."" The westerners offered the Chinese emperors European scientific toys and missionaries but finally gained the advantage with opium and superior weapons. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Opium_War . This is the noble's operational morality.

There is certainly no need to cater to the health, happiness, and prosperity of the masses other than the threat of spreading disease or revolt...other than addressing the threat the masses of people present to the nobles, to the 0.1%. All of these unrelated people also consume resources and space that could go towards improving the reproductive chances of the noble's own children.

From the standpoint of long term energy and resources as seen by the lives of the concentrators of wealth, the best thing the little people could do is die. Nobles can afford comfort amid the destruction they promote. Noble's lives do not call out for changes favoring the whole of humanity.

The changes will have to come from outside. Massive famine is outside the interests of the emperors. Plagues, events that may touch the 0.1% while also being outside of the nobles ability to control, would also bring change. Wars sometimes escape the control of those who start them. People living far away live lives untouched by the lures and traps. Others just walk away from the madness http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQYKDrOs_j8 , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zFqHXUBzXM . People just change what they're doing... does anyone have an example of that on a very large scale? Emigration to the new world? Modern American kids losing interest in cars? Abandoning both television and face-to-face contact for the internet?

The first thing is to secure a means of communicating that is unsponsored, unrestricted and unfiltered. The nobles are working very hard and persistently to take this one away from you... for your own good, of course, or to "protect jobs" in the entertainment industry... or, as the Chinese put it recently: "The people demanded it" http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/01/04/china-renewed-restrictions-send-onlin...

But as I've read it, the Chinese people do demand it. Theirs is a different culture. I'm not an expert, but I can read those who are. Having a national purpose and national goals are much more important there. And if everyone wants to become an individual, like in the west, there go the national goals. Thus: "Please censor my internet:.

My most recent example of this was reading James Fallows - "China Airborne". About China's plans for massive aerospace industry.


China's Top 10 Protesters

When they [protesters] have freedom of speech, everyone else would too. We pay tribute to the ordinary people, because we value every ordinary Chinese who has the courage to say “no”. It is worth mentioning, many of which are born after 1990, a new generation who are more conscious of their individual rights. They tend to be more courageous and tend to use the Internet to make their voices heard.

Village official Ren Jianyu was sentenced to two years of “re-education through labour” in August 2011 after he posted messages on microblogs about social issues. Ren’s case triggered a campaign to end the “re-education through labour” system in Chinese social media.

Chinese consumers have a long way to go in protecting their rights. We need more people like Luo Yonghao to fight against commercial domination and lazy administration by the government.

Because of you, an isolated opponent is not alone. You have been shouting on every corner of the Internet: On the Forums, microblogging and news threads. More and more people heard your voices. You repost, make ironic remarks, or pass by. Most of the time, you say out loud: I object. All of you are protesters against all injustice.


Any references? ... actually, I don't want to hijack the post down this rat-hole. The concept is that the people at the levers of power couldn't care less. The solution does not lie at the ballot box in America for sure... any more than it does in Russia. Changes come from outside. Such changes exist. Having unfettered and realistic communication is fundamental to any coherent effort or even just simple propagation. That communication is already poisoned by the likes of Murdoch and under attack by the people at the levers of power. Preserve and strengthen it.

But as I've read it, the Chinese people do demand it. Theirs is a different culture. I'm not an expert, but I can read those who are. Having a national purpose and national goals are much more important there. And if everyone wants to become an individual, like in the west, there go the national goals. Thus: "Please censor my internet:

Is the source of information one without bias?

http://whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/COINTELPRO/celebs.html (1st link I could find with the references I wanted about working with media to project a certain image)

I respect James Fallows a lot. "Breaking the News" is a great expose of how the 'news' works. He has lived and traveled in China for decades.

He is my recent source, from "China Airborne".

Yes the idea is really foreign to us in the west. The idea that the collective is more important than the individual.

From a person who lived through a different brand of communism I believe I know what you are talking about. Some generalizations I believe are close to being true and are relevant to this:

  • people trust authorities to the point where they can be convinced of almost anything
  • people are selfish
  • people are easily scared into passivity

The Chinese have a strong culture of respecting authority so they prefer authoritarian governments and that is probably the biggest difference between the Chinese and USians. What people want doesn't really matter if it goes against one of the core tenets of the faith government and corruption on an epic scale certainly doesn't help.

Yes the idea is really foreign to us in the west. The idea that the collective is more important than the individual.

Not really. As many westerners believe in capitalism in the same way. If you do 14-hour days then you are putting the collective (company) before the individual (you). It's just that in a good economy you have a viable option of switching workplaces but given the current state of affairs that is kinda not true anymore.

January 8, 2013
Chinese challenge censorship with strike, protest

A rare street protest was held on Monday, and several online petitions have emerged that have indicated widespread support

What Spurred Crackdowns and New Restrictions on Chinese Press and Internet Media

There have been for four or five years struggles over Internet censorship.
You can't organize for any kind of activity that might be a challenge to the government.
...it can't change because there are so many vested interests who have so much to lose...
I think what most people in China would like to see... is a government comfortable enough to allow freer and freer expression, in pace with the greater and greater capacities of its people.

But part of the reason that you see these protests is of course they have experienced censorship, and things were getting worse last year. I think people are just fed up.
The Chinese society has become wealthier and more educated. And people have alternative sources of information. They travel. And in that context, the government censorship just looks silly and demeaning.
they want to have the right to know. It matters to them, not just sort of freedom of speech. It matters to their lives, tribal and all the other things.

Utilities getting a grip on wind

In a region where wind energy is claiming its place as a legitimate renewable energy source, Maritime utilities are working together to harness its power and maximize its potential, even on those calm and peaceful days.

As part of a four-year pilot project, new software dubbed the Virtual Power Plant aggregates wind forecast data with customer usage data to capture wind energy and store it for later use. The project aims to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and create a more efficient electrical grid.


A load control device requires an Internet connection to aggregate wind speed data and the customer’s usage profile to shift energy supply to specific appliances in order to optimize wind power. The Virtual Power Plant is the software that translates the data and sends a remote signal to the load control device about when to run appliances like water heaters and electric thermal storage systems.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/374492-utilities-getting-a-grip-on...

I had participated in this study, but had to withdraw when we replaced our electric water heater with a Nyle heat pump.


Paul, Do you know of a source for data on air source heat pump output (energy/time) as a function of outside air temperature? I'd like to know how much heat the Fujitsu 15RLS2 will supply on -5 F nights.

Hi Tom,

At -5°F outside and at an indoor temperature of 70°F, the Fujitsu 15RLS2 reportedly supplies 16,700 BTU/hr (4.89 kW) of heat and consumes 2.2 kW of electricity. As a visual reference, that's about the same amount of heat as would be provided by five 4 ft. baseboard strips in continuous operation.

The following table shows the heat output of this particular model in thousands of BTUs per hr and the corresponding power draw in kW:

Fujitsu 15RLS2 Heat Output

This is a great product. A friend of mine heats his century old home on Prince Edward Island with two of these units and couldn't be happier with their performance; even though electricity rates on the Island are the highest in Canada, they still saves him several thousands of dollars each year compared to oil.


Paul, do you know if there is such a thing available as a programmable switch for a water heater that would let me set the time that the water heater worked? For example, in many homes everyone has a shower in the morning and then all leave for work and school and hot water will not be needed again until after 5 pm. And yet, the heater dutifully reheats the water during the morning peak period. Could the heater be programmed to start again in the afternoon, and re-heat the water only in the first and third quarters of the hour while the house across the street runs the water heater in the second and fourth quarters? In this way we could transfer the water heater load from peak load and move it onto base load.

Similarly with electric baseboard heat. Could we program them to run intermittently in order to reduce peak load?

Does anyone know if such switches are commercially and economically available?

Here in Nova Scotia the politicians are beating up on the utility over executive pay and bonuses without offering ratepayers any meaningful way to reduce our usage through time-of-day metering and other means.

Paragon EC7000
7 day digital timer
16 events per 7-day week, allows different schedule each day


I don't know the brand of the timer I had on my electric water heater in the last place I owned, but I loved it. It made a tidy dent in the electric bill.

And furthermore, if or when your utility will move to, or offer, time-of-day pricing, you can adjust the timer to move as much of the operation as possible to the lower-priced part of the day/night.

Hi Redbriars,

I'm really paranoid about Legionella which will quickly multiple out of control if you allow the temperature of your tank to drift downward (the bottom of the tank below the lower element is the perfect breading ground because the water in this area will always remain several degrees cooler even when the tank is returned to temperature). You would be better off to add an insulating jacket and heat trap and to wrap your pipes with foam sleeves if you haven't already done so.

Our tank (a SuperStor Ultra) has a stainless steel liner and that hopefully helps to minimize Legionella growth. In addition, our Nyle circulates water through a plastic tube that's fed through the drain tap located at the very bottom of the tank. That means that the water in this lower section is heated to 50°C/122°F; at 50°C, ninety per cent of Legionella bacteria will supposedly die within two hours of exposure.

BTW, I bought our Nyle through Source Atlantic (http://www.sourceatlantic.ca/contactnew/branchlocator). Ours is the Geyser RO model and I believe I paid $1,150.00 for it. It has cut our water heating costs in half and for the eight or so months of the year that we would normally run our dehumidifier it provides "free" hot water (if I have to dehumidify the basement anyway, why not let the water heater do it for me).



Interesting, automobile windshield washer water a significant source of infection.

In a pressurized, chlorinated (like city water) system I don't think it needs to be a large concern.

It's more of a concern for the elderly, smokers, and for those with diabetes or weakened immune systems. In the province of Québec, nearly one out of every three electric water heaters is said to be contaminated by Legionella, including those where the thermostat is set at 60°C/140°F. According to Hydro-Québec, about one hundred people in that province are hospitalized each year due to pneumonia caused by contaminated water heaters and the provincial health ministry tells us that four out five will likely die as a result. Of course, many more will get sick but not require hospitalization, and there's a good possibility that death, when it should occur, will be attributed to some other cause, particularly for those dealing with chronic illness.

I'm battling the mother of all colds that has lodged itself deep inside my chest and have coughed-up half a lung these past few days. I look at my shower head and think "don't mess with me, I'm in no mood for your crap".


Dear Paul

How are natural gas water heaters or tankless heaters with respect to Legionella? Our household has a similarly weakened immune system in it.

Thanks Paleo

If your tank heater is at the base then you should get circulation throughout the tank, just make sure the temperature is hot enough. With tankless the risk is Legionella in the feed water, cold header tank, and you may need it to be hotter to supply a quick kill to the bugs. Turnbull's link has temperatures.


Hi Paleo,

Natural gas and oil-fired water heaters are ideal because the combustion chamber is located underneath the tank, thus, the water in the lower portion is routinely exposed to high temperatures which has a bactericidal effect; the likelihood of Legionella contamination under normal operating conditions would be extremely low. I'm not all that familiar with the design and operation of tankless water heaters, but I'm guessing that the risk is likewise low because the heater is "flushed" whenever it is in use.


It's more of a concern for the elderly, smokers, and for those with diabetes or weakened immune systems.[snip]

I'm battling the mother of all colds that has lodged itself deep inside my chest and have coughed-up half a lung these past few days.

Might I recommend some truly massive doses of vitamin C and D supplements? In the northern winter, you are probably already quite (severely?) vitamin D deficient by now especially at your latitude. The folks I listen to, indicate that the recommended daily allowance for these two vitamins is the minimum amount required to prevent the deficiency disease scurvy and rickets and far from the amount required to maintain the levels you would expect to find in a healthy, well nourished individual. Vitamin D, in amounts up to 10,000 IU a day, is unlikely to do any harm and I have personally taken up to 36g (36,000 mg) of vitamin C in a single day, with just a hint of the onset of diarrhoea. That was during a period when I was up to my elbows in used engine oil, trying to secure the intake manifold of a turbo diesel vehicle I had at the time. I gradually had to reduce my intake and now I can't even take 3g a day without getting the runs.

The late Dr Robert Cathcart documented a method he described as "titration to bowel tolerance" that, I find works quite well in combating all sorts of nasties. Here's a video of Dr. Cathcart himself making a presentation about administering high doses of vitamin c intravenously and another video about a New Zealand man who's family credits vitamin C with saving his life after coming down with a life threatening case of swine flu. Information I found on a web site that appears to be a collection of Cathcart's ideas, is part of what has convinced me that high dosage vitamin C is a big medical issue being ignored by modern mainstream medicine. The video about the New Zealand man reinforces my case.

As a mater of fact, I tend to disregard any warnings about vitamin C that emanate from places I consider drug company W#0r3$ including but not limited to most of the sites that show up on the first page of a Google search for "vitamin c". I prefer to get my information for vitamin c from site like The Vitamin C Foundation and for vitamin d it's The Vitamin D council. It's sort of like how I prefer to get my information on energy from The Oil Drum.>;-)

Alan from the islands

Thanks for the timely advice, Alan. It was -15°C when I woke-up this morning and I've just come back in after having shovelled the driveway (again). I think I'll pop a few of those vitamins and wash them back with a nice hot toddy made with, what else? Jamaican Rum !


Be careful, Paul - Linus Pauling took a minimum of 3 grams of vitamin C every day for over twenty years, but it finally killed him in 1994. He was 93.

Your joking right? Just in case you're not, here's a page on Pauling that includes the following:

Why did Linus Pauling die from cancer if he took all that vitamin C? Linus Pauling, PhD, megadose vitamin C advocate, died in 1994 from prostate cancer. Mayo Clinic cancer researcher Charles G. Moertel, M.D., critic of Pauling and vitamin C, also died in 1994, and also from cancer (lymphoma). Dr. Moertel was 66 years old. Dr. Pauling was 93 years old. One needs to make up ones own mind as to whether this does or does not indicate benefit from vitamin C.
A review of the subject indicates that "Vitamin C deficiency is common in patients with advanced cancer . . . Patients with low plasma concentrations of vitamin C have a shorter survival." (11) [2010 Oct] About "Objections" to Vitamin C Therapy

Here is TESTIMONY by Andrew W. Saul before the Government of Canada, House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, regarding natural health product safety (Ottawa, May 12, 2005). From his conclusion:

The number one side effect of vitamins is failure to take enough of them. Vitamins are extraordinarily safe substances. Drugs are not. There are over 106,000 deaths from pharmaceutical drugs each year in the USA, even when prescribed correctly and taken as prescribed. (Lucian Leape, Error in medicine. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1994, 272:23, p 1851. Also: Leape LL. Institute of Medicine medical error figures are not exaggerated. JAMA. 2000 Jul 5;284(1):95-7.)

Another page from Saul's web site titled "Vitamin Deaths: Where Are the Bodies?", starts with the following paragraph

(OMNS, June 14, 2011) Over a twenty-seven year period, vitamin supplements have been alleged to have caused the deaths of a total of eleven people in the United States. A new analysis of US poison control center annual report data indicates that there have, in fact, been no deaths whatsoever from vitamins . . . none at all, in the 27 years that such reports have been available.

Yup, so according to that web site, there have been no verifiable deaths from vitamins since records started being kept in 1983. Raises the question as to why doctors are so reluctant to use vitamins to attempt to treat various conditions and why there are attempts to smear them as "dangerous"?

Alan from the islands

How can you not think I was joking?? I thought it should be obvious. My apologies.

I still have a copy of Pauling's book "How to Live Longer and Feel Better," which I read many years ago, on my bookshelf. I've taken megadoses of vitamin C for over twenty years myself. (And I hope it doesn't kill me till I'm 93. ...grin)

My apologies! It's just that it's so difficult to be sure without the benefit of body language or facial expression or tone of voice and there are people, especially doctors who would say something like that and not be joking. I also find it a bit embarrassing that, Robert Cathcart died at the tender age of 75 and Dr. Hugh Riordan at 73. They were both very big on vitamin C. On the other hand Abram Hoffer another big proponent of vitamin megadose therapy died at 92.

Alan from the islands

Not that I have anything to say about vitamins, but a sample of two people says nothing. That would equate to the "smoking is not harmful because my aunt lived to 90 and smoked 3 packets a day" nonsense.

Sorry for nit picking but, the more accurate analogy would be to say that, walking is good for you because my aunt walked at least five miles every day and lived to 90. You are right though, that single instance proves nothing. Clearly, as my response above, listing the age at death of three other vitamin c megadose proponents points out, megadoses of vitamin c alone do not guarantee that one will live to age 90+.

Alan from the islands

Doctors are generally reluctant to recommend the use of substances that haven't had wide clinical trials or where trials have not shown them to be effective. Like vitamin C.

While not dangerous, there is a severe lack of scientific data demonstrating that taking vitamin C supplements is of any use whatsoever for most people.

Doctors are generally reluctant to recommend the use of substances that haven't had wide clinical trials or where trials have not shown them to be effective. Like vitamin C.

Just who is going to fund "wide clinical trials" for natural substances? Who is going to profit from research that shows that natural substances are more effective at treating conditions than pharmacueticals? Doctors spend years being trained to prescribe patented, man made, often complex and/or expensive drugs, produced by multi-billion dollr corporations. This "expert" knowledge sets them apart from "normal" people, in some peoples minds elevating doctors to god like status. The idea that a fairly simple natural compound could have a dramatic effect on so many maladies is a anathema to most in the medical proffession.

The oft repeated saying attributed to Upton Sinclair that, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!", is appropriate here. It is "Medical Mavericks" (as described by Hugh Desaix Riordan, M.D.) that, challenge the status quo and seek real answers to the mysteries of disease. On this web page there is strident criticim of members of the Auckland District Health Board, one of whom appears in the video about the New Zealand "Miracle Man" I linked to above. if you read the web page or watch the video, you might get a sense of the frustration one can experience in trying to get the medical proffesion to stop ignoring the potential benefits of high dose vitamin C. It is also usefull to understand "The Origin of the 42-Year Stonewall of Vitamin C"

While not dangerous, there is a severe lack of scientific data demonstrating that taking vitamin C supplements is of any use whatsoever for most people.

Depends on who you talk to and where you look. The web page linked to above questons the veracity of statements made by members of the Auckland District Health Board which are very similar to yours. They back up their criticism with tons of references, albeit from one questionable source. There are people who have produced credible arguments that most clinical trials involving vitamin c have been designed to fail. AFAIAC I'm drinking vitamin c laden lemonade while those who do not subscribe to my ideas on vitamin c can continue to drink useless, artificially flavored, artificially colored Koolade. To each his own! I will stand by my vitamin supplements.

Alan from the islands

And you're welcome to. I take vitamins, myself. But doctors can hardly be blamed for not pushing vitamin C given the existing scientific data.

I concur. In 2004 or 2005 I started taking 2g of vitamin C with every meal. I usually take between 2g-6g per day. Since then I have not had the flu even once! Once in a while, I catch a cold but it is very mild and I get over it in just 2 or 3 days.

A couple of years ago I also started taking 5000 IU of vitamin D during winter.

Yow! The scary things I learn reading TOD.

My electric water heater is fed from a tank preheated to lukewarm temperature by the desuperheater of a ground source heat pump. The water is from a well with a UV treatment system so there's no residual chlorine to kill bugs.

Sounds like I need to do some research.

From the looking around I did a while back ground-source heat pumps are fully capable of meeting all of your hot water needs, but not through a "desuperheater." It would probably require a replacement of the indoor handling unit for full hot-water capability though.

European coal renaissance.

http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21569039-europes-energy-policy-de... ihttp://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21569039-europes-energy-policy-delivers-worst-all-possible-worlds-unwelcome-renaissance

A few comments on this article.

On coal and the Energiewende:
- Coal has always been cheaper in Europe then gas
- Gas plants are much more flexible then coal plants
- Grid operators match demand and production by merit order, first the more expensive plants are switched off

Coal has always been low in the merit order (together with nuclear) so with an increase in renewables it is expected to first see lower gas usage and only much later an reduction in coal usage. But with the current renewable capacity in Germany on good days the renewables are already starting to replace coal.

On new coal and nuclear phase-out in Germany:
- The article does not make clear that all new coal plants that are currently being built or connected to the grid were planned way before Germany suddenly decided to phase-out nuclear and immediately shut down 8 reactors after the Fukushima accident. On the contrary, when the coal plants were planned the nuclear fleet lifetime was extended. The new coal stations have therefore nothing to do with the nuclear phase-out.
- These new stations are mostly constructed to replace old inefficient coal plants. This is not mentioned in the article.
- German grid oversight agency sees a reduction of 11 GW of coal capacity within the next 20 years.

Kyoto protocol:
I think it's a shame that there are is such an oversupply of carbon credits within the EU. Politicians must put their money where their mouth is and reduce the number of credits instead of letting the heavy industry-/energy- and former USSR countries lobby for more free credits.

Coal has always been cheaper in Europe then gas

Not true for the UK. It is at the moment though.

Or gas have been cheaper for a few decades but now it is back to the normal order.

Nonsense. British gas was cheap because of our strict adherence to the Free Market compared to Johnny Foreigner on "The Continent". Clearly it had nothing to do with our being self-sufficient in natural gas at the time and now having to buy it from somewhere else.

The wonders of Capitalism will clearly soon fix this temporary aberration and give us our cheap natural gas back.

Just bring back Margaret Thatcher!

(I'm not being serious in case that isn't obvious :-)

But that is basically what the politicians said at the time.

Just bring back Margaret Thatcher!

And "Bring back Reagan (policies)" is what is constantly said here. But no one wants to admit that those two benefited from a massive oil surplus in the mid-80's from the Alaskan North Slope, Mexico's Cantarell, the North Sea Oil Fields, and others such that we had an cheap-oil-helped economic surge. It wasn't that . . . it was the tax-cuts! Never mind that we've been trying tax-cuts for over 10 years now with no success.

Talked to one of those conservative this week. It is a bit revealing (if depressing). Totally in on the con that its all about lower taxes on the "job creators". Hes been fed cherry-picked claims by Faux News that this has always worked. Is depressed that we are about to face four more years of economic stagnation, all because Obama slightly raised taxes on the wealthiest. No point talking about energy (its all about enviro-wackos preventing drill-drill-drill), or climate (a massive fraud). This fellow is seventy something, so I don't expect he will ever change his worldview.

In fairness, while Thatcher and Reagan benefited from falling oil prices, there was a recession and historically high oil prices when they started.

Incidentally, does anyone know of a good graph that ties together oil price, supply and demand, and world events?

These graphs are all prepared by someone with an agenda and present a one-sided view of factors affecting the price.

And one should add that the EIA data do not indicate an increased coal consumption for Europe in the last years:


So again, a nice propaganda piece.

The article talks about what it says is a big increase in coal consumption for electricity production that has occurred since 2011. Therefore EIA figures which only go up to 2011 can't possibly contradict it.

slowing Chinese demand was pushing down world coal prices, which fell by a third between August 2011 and August 2012 and is below $100 a tonne. These prices make European utilities willing buyers. European purchases of American coal rose by a third in the first six months of 2012.

This means we see larger imports. The question is whether these imports mean a real net increase of consumption or do they simply substitute European production which is in case of hard coal very expensive?

The preliminary energy balance for Germany for 2012 gives +3% for hard coal and plus 5 % for lignite, the latter is to a certain extend a storage problem and will be resolved in 2013. These variations are in the typical range we see in the last 10 years.

The primary energy consumption and CO2 production decreased when we use temperature corrected values, in absolute numbers we have stagnation from 2011 to 2012.

That's a much better and more interesting reply than your first one :-)

Electricity based on coal in Germany in 2012 was up 8% (hard coal mostly). This increase is about as large as the nuclear output reduction so these figures do not show a coal revival based on 'expensive gas replaced by cheap coal' meme from the Economist. The power had to come from existing capacity: baseload coal to replace baseload nuclear. Gas use is 14% down and renewables provided around 23% of total electricity production.

If you look at the UK though (where The Economist is based) it is very clear that we have greatly increased the share of coal generation compared to recent years. Our coal fired stations are running at a far higher load factor then when the UK used to boast about how it was easily meeting targets - yes because it was cheaper to burn natural gas than coal at the time. Now it isn't and the UK's coal stations are running at a very high load factor.

Over the last 24 hours 43.1% of the UK's electricity came from coal. Only 18.4% came from gas. 75% of the UK's gas generating capacity is standing idle right now as I post. The UK has more gas fired stations than coal after our "dash for gas" strategy but these days we are hardly using them while the coal stations run close to flat out. Yes, the more the wind blows the less gas we burn and that should eventually translate to less coal as well, but it hasn't yet.

Please do note that there is an artificially high level of coal use in UK presently...

A number of UK coal plants which do not meet 2016 EU emissions (non CO2 related) standards have been given a set maximum hours of operation before 2016... with coal cheap at present, operators are burning through those hours at an increased rate, and many plants will now have to close before 2016.

But will they really close though by 2016 or will they be allowed an extension?

Sorry, Ulenspiegel above gives the correct break-up of the 8% number.

The last ten years we saw a replacement of nuclear power with renewables. Hence we had the a bit counterintuitive substitution of base load with intermittent sources.

Again, the increase of renewables was larger than the loss of nuclear power in 2012. Therefore, my take is that NG is replaced with coal, but this is a little bit splitting of hairs. :-)

Both nuclear and hard-coal were going down over the past 10 years, although nuclear a bit more then hard-coal.

Hard coal was as the AGEB data show replaced by NG in 2002-2011, sum of the fossils was almost constant for a decade. The renewables esp. PV had a large increase (4% p.a.) when replacement production was needed for the substitution of switched off reactors.

If I take this documented trend as starting point for the discussion we have in 2012 still constant fossil production, however, with a shift back from NG to coal.

I do not expect that CO2 will be more expensive in the next years so my hope is that more renewables in Germany will simply make some of the base load power plants uneconomic to operate. With the Automausstieg we see first less nuclear power, then less NG and then less hard coal, lignite will defend its position for the next two decades. With available hard coal plants which were traditionally used for intermediate power production in Germany there is much room for replacement of NG I fear, esp. when the flexibility of coal power plants improves.

Eyeballing graphs on the Energy Export Databrowser, my impression of the general trend worldwide is that as renewables increase, gas increases, and coal decreases.

This would make sense because you need gas to balance the renewable intermittent load, and coal becomes superfluous.

The most interesting observation in Germany in respect to utility "propaganda" was the alleged inflexibility of coal base load power plants: Until last end of 2011 it was sold that only NG power plants are able to compensate for the intermittent load of the renewables wind and PV. Suddenly in winter 2011/2012 we find a U-turn in the publications of the lignite producer (Braunkohleverband) which now claim that modern coal power plants and (improved) old ones have the ability to change economically the power output at a rate that can compete with many NG plants. What should I make out of this esp. when the methods to achieve this flexibility are known for many years? My feeling is that the utilities lied before 2011 in order to prevent changes to renewables and now, when their strategy does not work because it is ignored and falsified by reality make an interesting U-turn at the propaganda front. This changes are one important reason I am interested in a detailed discussion of shifts in the German conventional electricity production and my tedious nitpicking. :-)

I'd like a mechanical engineer to comment on the Braunkohleverband claims.

AFAIK, load-following by coal-fired power stations is difficult because rapid heating and cooling cause stress on the machinery, leading to premature failure.

Perhaps you can design equipment with flexible joints and bigger clearances so it is not so sensitive to temperature changes. But then it is probably more expensive and less efficient.

Also, I imagine furnaces are designed to burn coal most efficiently at maximum load. Maybe at lower loads you get more pollution and again less efficiency.

Motor cars have their mpg rated by driving them over a range of city and open roads. Maybe power station efficiencies should be rated by following a typical demand curve.

IIRC the new plants can be run at 30-100% and have a nice rate of change. Other solution is to heat parts of the unused engine for a few hours (with NG or electricity) and be able to start production within a few minutes, this is a question of economy, i.e. what is more costly the maintenance of a high temperature or a complete new heating cycle, temporary storage or different usage of steam......

"Also, I imagine furnaces are designed to burn coal most efficiently at maximum load. Maybe at lower loads you get more pollution and again less efficiency."
True, see this thesis (page 56) about wind integration in the Netherlands.

My gut feeling is that temps would be almost the same at 50% versus 100%, but flow rates would be halved. So there may not be much thermal cycling involved. Are there marginal parts of the plant where the operating temp is proportional to the flow rates?

your gut feeling is right. Turbines are built for a specific pressure, which means a specific temperature. You throttle by reducing the flow rate.

The efficiency loss is the heat losses are constant, so at a lower flow rate those losses become a larger proportion of the total fuel input. Also the support loads (power for the pumps, lights, blowers, and all the other auxiliary equipment) also remain largely constant with power. If they have a steam powered main feed pump they can reduce the demand as they throttle back, and the same applies to the forced draft blowers. If they are electric then the excess energy is dissipated in the throttle valves.

Some information about the new lignite plant near Cologne in Germany.

Less CO2 emissions by replacing many old coal power plants with more efficient one. Strangely enough this fact is never mentioned when certain news-media/blogs report that Germany is moving towards more coal generation...

Prior to the commissioning of the first new BoA unit, RWE Power will finally shut down six 150-MW units in the Frimmersdorf power plant: the first 150-MW unit was closed already as early as 2005, another three 150-MW units were taken offline in mid-2009. Following the commissioning of the second BoA unit in Neurath, RWE Power will take a further six 150-MW units in Frimmersdorf and Niederaussem out of service. Along with the other units that were announced to be decommissioned, all sixteen 150-MW units in the Rhenish lignite mining area will gradually be shut down by late 2012.


Highly flexible output to cope with increasing intermittent renewables, hoever nothing is mentioned about the effects on efficiency while adjusting it's output:

BoA 2&3 was officially commissioned today in Grevenbroich-Neurath near Cologne. With its 43 percent efficiency rating and supreme flexibility, the twin-unit plant with a total capacity of 2,200 megawatts (MW) is the world’s most advanced lignite-fired power station. Premier of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hannelore Kraft, Federal Minister for the Environment, Peter Altmaier and RWE CEO, Peter Terium gave an impressive demonstration of the plant’s flexibility to the over 400 guests. Instead of the usual start signal, they gave the order for a rapid reduction in electricity production. Within five minutes, the output of one unit was reduced by over 150 megawatts – and then equally rapidly restored, demonstrating the power station’s ability to offset the intermittency of wind and solar power. The total investment of €2.6 billion is one of the largest ever made in the history of RWE.

Ever since the early design phase of these units, RWE has placed great emphasis on the rapid responsiveness of the plant. Each unit can modify its output by a good 500 MW in just 15 minutes; with a total capacity of 1,000 MW at its disposal, it produces more than 400 wind turbines can, and at a speed that rivals the very latest gas-fired power plants.


What remains is to continue to rapidly increase the share of renewables such that this plant will have to operate less and less as quickly as possible.

Is it an actual increase or just a market share increase?

The domestic German electricity demand is stagnant.

Lignite: The situation is a little bit unclear (additional storage of lignite due to replacement of ~10% of the German lignite power plants in 2012) but lets assume the 5% as worst case are real: electricity market share increase
The statistics provide data on lignite production and delivery, usually this equals production of electricity, 2012 is a exception.

hard coal: clear increase of electricity production from hard coal = market share increase, at the same time less consumption for steel production = overall consumption stagnant.

NG: clear reduction in case of electricity = market share decrease, much more demand for heating of buildings (last winter was much colder than 2010/11) = overall slight increase.

I found this article on German coal plants had some useful background...


Wether future gas is much cleaner then coal greenhouse forcing wise has to be seen when fracking appears to cause quite a lot of gas leakage and methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas then CO2.


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.

The most important result, however, in accord with the above authors, is that, unless leakage rates for new methane can be kept below 2%, substituting gas for coal is not an effective means for reducing the magnitude of future climate change.

Promised Land: Stellar cast, but the film is a fracking disappointment

This film’s depth of insight into the practice of fracking is, literally, presented at a primary-school level: In one scene, an environmental activist does a demonstration to a first-grade class on how bad chemicals can hurt nice water and animals.

Judge for yourself. This slightly condensed version of the presentation to 5th-graders is from the script, starting on p. 72:

Dustin (an environmental activist who opposes the Matt Damon character, but there's a twist) first asks the kids who live on farms to put up their hands. Most of them do.

    From behind the desk he pulls up a large clear bag full of
    dirt and places it on the table. He then reaches into the
    bag and pulls out a few toy figures of cows and horses.

    Now, let's say THIS is your farm.
    And this...

    From behind the desk he pulls up a big clear Tupperware
    container and pours in a large bottle of water.

    And THIS is all the water in town!
    The water you drink, the water the
    cows drink, the water your puppies
    and kittens drink and all the water
    in the river for the fish.

    Alice [the teacher] looks at him warily, a bit perplexed.

    Now let me show you what happened
    one day in my home town when this
    company, GLOBAL, tried drilling for
    Natural gas.

    He holds the bag over the container of water. Suddenly he
    begins puncturing the bottom of the bag with a pencil.

    See, they wanted to drill into the
    land, like this.

    The kids laugh at the rather destructive action. Little bits
    of dirt start falling into the water.

    But unfortunately they don't just
    use a drill like the ones some of
    your daddies have. No, they use
    ones that shoot water!

    Dustin takes a sports bottle and begins to shoot water into
    the bag of dirt. After a moment the bag begins dripping
    dirty water out the bottom. The kids cheer!

    But hold on, hold on! That's not
    all! In order to do all that
    drilling they need to use...

    From the brown paper bag he pulls out 5 or 6 bottles of home
    cleaning products, etc.

    Chemicals! Now these chemicals
    that they use seem harmless when
    they're contained, right? In fact a
    lot of the bad stuff up there you
    can find right here in the bottles
    under your sink at home. But they
    don't use one chemical at a time.
    They use all of them.

    Dustin starts to pour all the products into the bag. Alice
    pulls away a little from the smell. After a moment a gross
    concoction of dark ooze starts dripping from the bag.


    They're all a bit horrified.

    Dustin reaches into the box and pulls out a lighter.


    Oh, I don't think--

    It's okay.

    He lowers the lighter to the discolored water. After a
    moment it IGNITES! Then burns gently.


    They all cheer.

    Why are you cheering?

    It's so cool!

    But that's the water you drink.

    Oh yeah./I guess.

    Needing a big finish, Dustin looks around the room and
    sees... On the windowsill is an aquarium. Inside is a very
    unlucky turtle.

    What's the turtle's name?


    Does his water look like as clean
    as this water?

    A few kids answer quietly...

    No. No way.

    Silence. In a flash, Dustin has pulled the turtle out and is
    back in front of the flames..

    Well, let's see if Trigger here can
    survive in his new home.

    BLOOD CURDLING SCREAMS from the kids!!... and Alice.

    Dustin stops. He's given the greatest presentation ever.

Apologies to Leanan for the length.

Aardi – Thanks. I did see a quick flash of his demonstration on a commercial with no details. Actually I think it’s valid with a couple of qualifications. The drilling process rarely does damage. Squirting the soil with water is not accurate. Casing is used to protect the fresh water aquifers from the drilling and frac fluids. Pollution does rarely happen but many non-oil patch bad things happen and we just deal with them. The biggest fault IMHO is emphasizing damage from the drilling and frac’ng process itself. If I were doing the demo would have poured all the nasties into a toy tank truck and then have it dump them onto his table top farm. Setting it on fire wouldn’t have been accurate but I do like pyrotechnics so I would have gone that route…I know what excites kids. An even better demo would be to show the tanker dumping the nasties into a miniature water treatment facility run by their local govt. And then have it dump into the turtle's tank. When it was discovered that this was the most common source of frac fluid pollution both NY and PA passed laws to make it illegal for cities to do it anymore. Given the concerns the local politicians voiced you would think they didn’t have to pass the law.

It’s a shame they didn’t budget for actual film footage of drilling and frac’ng ops. They might have found some cheap stock footage to use. I might have gone to see the movie then. But watch landmen do a hard sales job on landowners? I don’t do that on my own projects…just too boring.

The drilling process rarely does damage ... Casing is used to protect the fresh water aquifers from the drilling and frac fluids.

Bull propaganda.

Not only does it pollute underground waters, it is done with enough force to cause earthquakes.

People in the know don't fall for the crap anymore.

And, of course, you have evidence of this? I have seen very little. With the number of wells drilled in this country there wouldn't be an unpolluted aquifer anywhere...unless you are wrong. As Rock stated, through the fresh water zones, the wellbore is encased with multiple concentric steel pipes and cemented into place. I have lived with wells such as this near me all of my life and I am not seeing what you are. Earthquakes? Haven't seen those either.

"Dr. Michel Boufadel, a Temple University engineer, hydrogeologist and world-class expert on oil spills; Paul Rubin, a geologist who has provided expert testimony for legal actions calling for a moratorium on gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin; and other experts have, in fact, been explaining patiently for at least four years that the naturally fractured shale is not, as the industry claims, an “impermeable layer.” But as Lustgarten points out, this ground-breaking study is the first peer-reviewed study of its kind.

Dr. Anthony Ingraffea has already established, based on PA DEP data, that Marcellus Shale well casings have failed at a rate of 6.2% in Pennsylvania in 2010 and 2011, causing immediate fluid migration (lecture by Ingraffea at “Marcellus Exposed” symposium, March 17th, 2012). But this new study shows that even without casing failures, fluid migration into aquifers will occur, and faster than almost anyone thought."

Here is link to the article http://protectingourwaters.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/new-study-frack-flui...

The well casings fail at 6.2%. Only an insane industrial death cult civilization would pursue hydrofracking.

Mark – Not arguing if Dr. Boufadel’s 6.2% is correct or not but there’s no way he could independently determine the casing failure rate. That number could only come from the industry or the state regulators. So can you provide that reference? Not that it proves his number wrong but I’ve been involved with 100+ wells directly in my career and hundreds more indirectly. I’ve seen csg fail at a rate well under 1%. And important point IMHO: I read Dr. Boufadel’s report and was disappointed to not find one example presented of the POTENTIAL problem he is concerned over. His work is essentially a computer model indicating this problem (fluids from the frac’d formation migrating up many thousands of feet to the surface) could happen. He also states that his model indicates this could happen in as little as 100 years after the frac is performed. His words: “The models predict that fracking will dramatically speed up the movement of chemicals injected into the ground. Fluids traveled distances within 100 years that would take tens of thousands of years under natural conditions. And when the models factored in the Marcellus’ natural faults and fractures, fluids could move 10 times as fast as that.” So even in the case of the fluids moving up a fault plane we still need to wait another 5 years or so to determine if his model has any validity. Unfortunately neither he nor I will be around to see if the 100 year prediction is correct or not. Given there have been many tens of thousands of well frac’d over the last 50 years one would think he would present dozen of examples proving his MODEL is valid.

I wonder if he’s including cement failures in his stat. They are much more common than csg failures. I’ve probably seen 10% to 15% of all the wells I’ve been involved with need some level of remedial cmt repair. It’s so common to have to squeeze bad cmt jobs that this equipment is kept on every drill rig 24/7. And I wish I could say the primary reason we fix bad cmt jobs is to protect the environment. But it ain’t so. Not only can a bad cmt job ruin the quality of a completion it can cause the loss of a multi $million investment. Worse case incident I was directly involved in: a $48 million loss of an offshore GOM well about 10 years ago. And do I need remind folks of the many $billions BP lost as the probable fault of failed cmt on the Macondo blow out?

Given the many thousands of wells frac’d he should have hundreds of DOCUMENTED cases of aquifer pollution resulting from csg failure be they frac’d wells or not. Can you toss me 4 or 5 of those proven cases? Thanks in advance. I did search the PA DEP web site and found a couple of cases of csg failure but no indication they caused aquifer pollution. I’m sure there are more incidences including some that did pollute the fresh water aquifer. Just couldn’t find the documentation.

And I’ll repeat the same advice I’ve been giving my Yankee cousins for more than 3 years: stop focusing on the drill rigs and frac trucks. There has always been the potential for near surface pollution as a result of the shale plays. But the vast majority of DOCUMNETED incidences resulted from improper/illegal disposal of these nasty oil field fluids. That has been the case in Texas and La that I’ve seen firsthand.

Rock- I can not document cases but I have read about to many people in West Virginia who have had their wells poisoned. I think where there is smoke there is fire...


"At the same time, we saw where residents along Fish Creek had developed extra wells and springs on their property to prevent surface drilling near potable sources. Some landowners living near drill wells documented water that was undrinkable by humans or livestock and streams that had been polluted with frack wastewater. The residents depend on well water and springs. There is no public water line in the area, much like parts of rural Athens County."


"Dennis and Tamera Hagy filed a five-count lawsuit in against Equitable Production Company, Warren Drilling Company, Inc., BJ Services Company, USA and Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. in Jackson Circuit Court. In their complaint filed Oct. 26, the Hagys allege methods used by the four when drilling for natural gas near their property two years ago lead to contamination of their drinking water."


"They did send us these test results. But no one explained it to us or said anything to us or told us it was undrinkable water. The company rep said, 'Well Mrs. Kinney look at it this way, if we hadn't tested your water you still wouldn't know,'" Sharon said.


I do feel your advice is solid to the Marcellus shale play states. I do believe Texas does a much better job of regulation. I also see no evidence of hundreds of cases of aquifer pollution, but I do see evidence that it happens. One case of aquifer contamination is one to many for me.

More fracking fun http://www.wcag-wv.org/

Mark - “I have read about to many people in West Virginia who have had their wells poisoned”. I have no doubt that’s true. I’ve known a number of landowners in Texas and La. with bad/dangerous well water. The question is always the source of the problem. I’m also sure there has been more fresh water aquifers polluted in PA/NY by those nasty frac fluids then most suspect. From what I’ve read there was almost no control over their disposal in the early days. Just as I’m pretty sure the majority of aquifer pollution in the NE over the years has happened as a result of nasties generated by other industries. There may have been a number of aquifers that have been contaminated with methane from oil patch activity but it has been documented that many of the complaints come from regions where methane in the aquifers has been well known for decades before the first oil/NG well was drilled or frac’d. Two months ago I drilled a well in Texas where I found a very significant NG reservoir at 50' below ground level...same depth as the local water wells. This wouldn't be case of methane contamination the water but full bore 100% NG flowing out the tap. The "Gasland" producer would have been thrilled to use this in his movie. BTW a significant number of blowouts in the Gulf Coast has happened in such shallow zones.

I try not to be redundant but my point: there has been damage done to the environment by the drilling and frac’ng programs. Done in PA, NY and even occasionally in Texas today. But very rarely by the frac’ng operation itself but by the improper/illegal disposal of the nasties. That may sound like a picky point but it really isn’t. One cannot fix a problem if the causes aren’t understood. Folks can spend all their energy arguing whether a well should be drilled or frac’d near their water well. That won’t stop some “midnight hauler” from dumping some nasties that he picked up 300 miles away into their recharge area.

I’ve advised a number of folks in the Marcellus play who were concerned about future drill plans in their area to have the water tested and certified before drilling. One of the unfortunate problems some folks have with making an argument is no base line data. Years ago I was a tech consultant on a suit brought by a landowner against a paint maker for contaminating his water with arsenic. Turns out that not only was the source was natural but had been documented decades before. From what I could tell the landowner really wasn’t aware of that and filed the suit in good faith. And about the same time I worked on a project peripheral to a suit contending oil company pollution of a landowner’s water well. In fact it was proven the nasties in his well were manmade and not naturally occurring. That operator would have paid dearly had it not been discovered the landowner had pumped the nasties into the well himself. He would have ended up in the state pen had he not plead out and the operator refused to file a complaint.

I don’t think such scams are that common and in most cases landowners have honest concerns. It would be nice if the oil patch could promise a zero accident rate but it can’t. OTOH no industry, or individual for that matter, can do so. The question is when does the risk exceed the benefit? The bigger problem than is whose benefit? And landowner with no mineral interest gets no benefit from his neighbor leasing his offset land for drilling. But that neighbor makes a couple of $million he uses to improve the lives of his family. Right or wrong depends upon which position you hold. IMHO the best you can do in such a situation is to have good regs that are strictly enforced. Won’t eliminate every accident but there has to be a middle ground. Otherwise how could we expect any industrial activity to function in the country? As far as you remark: “One case of aquifer contamination is one to many for me.” Is one school bus accident that kills some kids one to many for you? So no more school buses? Is one cop accidentally shooting a bystander one to many for you? Don’t arm cops? If the underground tank at a gas station leaks and pollutes the ground water is that one to many for you? So no more gas stations? BTW I suspect there is more ground water damage every year from leaking gas station tanks then all the oil patch drilling activity. It’s a much more common problem then many realize. Another area I’ve played expert witness usually against the oil company.

So I’ll readily admit I’m not smart enough to know where to draw the line. Any other TODsters know?

Rock- thanks for your thoughts. I have learned a great deal from you over the years on TOD and I value your opinion. Unconventional gas/oil is probably no worse than other forms of energy extraction but I am against them as well. In fact I am opposed to industrial civilization on any level so I am used to things not going my way.

I feel that we are captive to a cultural momentum which is leading us to ruin. I don't point fingers because the inertia of industrial civilization was beyond control and we are all participants. It does not matter really what I think about pollution and I am not smart enough to draw the line as you put it. The line will be drawn by fate/physics; I am just watching to see how it plays out now.

You'd expect the classic bathtub curve with casing/cement (I consider them part of the same system) failures.

Failures due to poor quality of work to show up almost immediately. Thereafter, a long period with few failures. Then failures start increasing again as long-term factors kick in.

Long-term factors might include corrosion of the casing, chemical destruction of the cement, and mechanical ruptures caused by slow ground movement or sudden earthquakes.

I have no idea when long-term failures might happen or what the failure rate would be, but I'm reasonably certain they will become a factor some day.

Rock, based on this dicussion a few questions popped in my head:

How long are you involved with a well on average? How long do wells produce on average? After wells are shutdown, how long do they remain in the ground?

A well casing or cement job can fail over it's entire life, including after it's shutdown. If a well is in the ground for 100+ years and you're only involved 5 years, is it possible that the failure rate of less then 1% during your involvement translates to possibly many % over the intire lifespan?

Do we know the locations of all the wells drilled in the US since mid-1800s? How many well have been drilled?

Thank you for these excellent points which have also been my concern. Yes, what is the long-term failure rate for casings and cement jobs on 100 yrs, 200 yrs, 500 yrs, 1000 yrs time scales and longer? Groundwater once polluted is pretty much impossible to clean up and I don't expect that will change in the future. Also I deal with mining government climate and hydrological data archives for a living and they are pretty fragile and vulnerable to economic downturns and politics: extremism, wars, etc. I wouldn't count on archives being very complete, even in Anglo North America, as the hydroclimate ones we have here aren't. I see the fingerprint of budget cuts, rightwing extremism, the Dirty Thirties, and World Wars I and II in what we have. These are important issues that are not being addressed. I'd really suggest having to put up a large visible labelled serious longterm marker at each drill site being required practice, if it isn't already Rockman?

paleob - "I'd really suggest having to put up a large visible labelled serious long term marker at each drill site being required practice, if it isn't already Rockman?". Actually with current GPS tech there's a perminent record of a well's location down to a foot or two. A $60 GPS device will get you standing right on top of a plugged well. A well's surveyed location is certified by independent thrid parties in Texas and La. Even then if I really have to positively sure where a P&A well is I'll send out a mag crew to locate the casing which is typically cut off 4' to 6' below ground level.

As I just mentioned else where thhat doesn't help much with wells 40+ years old.

We need those signs, in case (as is quite possible) the pollution will outlast the GPS system. I am talking about a possible de-industrial future in which we'll lose the ability to maintain large-scale high-tech devices such as atomic clocks in orbit.

vt - If the situations turns that bad I would expect any signs would have been burned for cook fires. And in a deindustrialized future what would they do with a leaking well other than avoid it? In fact, in that world I suspect there would be much more serious problems...like avaoiding the zombie hords LOL.

There is a wide range of possible futures between tech-topia and zombie hordes. A society that can drill wells for water (and needs to know where not to) but not launch replacement GPS satellites seems like a possibility for our grandkids' time, I would think. Even at present they're mumbling about having trouble replacing those satellites on schedule! Financial trouble, of course, as we still know how, but can't easily afford to. I assume we will come up with the resources for that, for a while yet, but we sure are skipping doing a lot of important things that we know how to. Like replacing old bridges, not to mention those old WOODEN natural gas pipes in California. Or, closer to me, the rusting water mains in Rutland, Vermont, that date back to before the "civil war".

There is a wide range of possible futures between tech-topia and zombie hordes

Yes there is. I think people have a natural tendency to fall for the most extreme future predictions. It's psychological bias that we can't get rid off. Take a look at this
The Real America of 2022

NASA will continue sending robotic probes, but its manned spaceflight program will be essentially dead, having been replaced by SpaceX and increasingly many space tourism companies. The Shuttle will not be replaced with any new government program, and NASA won’t go to the Moon, Mars or anywhere else. Private industry will be on the edge of capability for a Mars mission, but will not yet have attempted it.

I think this prediction has a very high chance of coming true. Space may become privatized after all, including maintenance and replacement of atomic clocks in space.

And in a deindustrialized future what would they do with a leaking well other than avoid it? In fact, in that world I suspect there would be much more serious problems...like avaoiding the zombie hords LOL. ~ ROCKMAN

No, not zombie hords, ROCKMAN, but people. Like you and me. Like in Afghanistan and Iraq. Like women and children.

It is suspected that, in the future-- and now already of course-- it will be less a question of avoiding leaking wells and a multitude of other forms of contamination, and more a question of which ones people will live die & suffer from and with.

This is a war waged on all of us.

TOP - I actually consider a fair percentage of the population today to fall into that zombie hord population especially when it comes to energy usage and the environment. I agree: as we slide further down the PO slope there will be even less concern over the environment/PO and more on attaining what may be considered a minimal BAU. As you imply the body count has been adding up for quit a while.

Styno – These days from pre-drill through the production phase. Not sure what a good average would be but I’m currently dealing with still producing wells drilled in the 1940’s.

But your question really deals with how properly wells are plugged and abandoned. There’s a long and sad history of this being very poorly done before the 1950’s including in Texas and La. For instance they know there are over 100,000 wells in PA they are sure weren’t properly P&A. Even worse they have no idea where the great majority of them are so they can’t even monitor the situation. Not long ago there was a PA incident where an operator drilling a well caused an eruption of an old nearby plugged well they didn’t know existed. There is a valid concern about this situation.

OTOH there isn’t a great concern over stability of wells plugged over the last 30+ years at least in Texas and La. Both states have very strict guidelines. In fact, the companies don’t even decide how a well is plugged. In Texas the TRRC designs the procedure with is then certified (under the threat of criminal prosecution) by a third party which is typically the contractor pumping the cement. As you might suspect the steel casing will deteriorate over time. That’s why the state mandated P&A procedure assume it will. The cement is what keeps wells from leaking after the casing deteriorates. In reality the old well bore filled with cement is less likely to leak than natural fractures in the ground.

But that’s the recent history. We’ll still be paying for past sins for decades. But you rarely hear about leaks from those thousands of improperly plugged wells in Texas. And for a good reason: for those nasties (of which plain old salt water is the most feared) to flow up an old well there needs to be a pressure differential between the deep and shallow. In most cases the pressure transient is neutral. In fact, when the oil/NG has produced by pressure depletion the natural gradient is to flow from the shallow to the deeper. As mentioned above about the PA incident the biggest concern is from competing an injection well (like for salt water disposal) in an area where an improperly plugged well exists. As a result the TRCC requires an operator to certify the proper P&A status of all wells drilled a certain distance from the proposed injector.

As I just mentioned in another post the possibility of a new well in PA or NY causing pollution from an unknown and improperly P&A well (or by any other accident) is impossible to eliminate. Unless, of course, states prohibit any more drilling activity of any kind. And that’s up to the citizens and the politicians they elect.

Thanks Rock for your elaborate answer.

Some more questions if you don't mind:
- Are wells filled top to bottom with cement during plugging? And has this always been the practice? If so, how can a new well cause an eruption of an old unknown well?

- Is it possible that leaks develop outside the casing? I.e. run up alongside the outer casing or between casings? How is this prevented?

- Is it possible that we rarely hear about leaks because we simply not know about them yet? Or that an unknown leak is masked by other known leaks? How great a chance do you give this possibility?

- How do you square your claim that "In reality the old well bore filled with cement is less likely to leak than natural fractures in the ground." when drilling usually does not create natural fracture leaks but according to you is capable of erupting an old well? This seems contradictory...

Styno - I'll start with the current P&A regs in Texas/La. This hasn't always been the case but fairly standard since the 1950's. Much before that time there were often no standards.

The basics: Prior to drilling I submit for a permit. The TRRC, through the state water board, determine how deep I need to set my first string of casing (surface csg) in order to protect the fresh water aquifer. Protecting these aquifers from salt water infusion is the primary concern. The depth varies with location so the WB has their maps. The surface csg has cement pumped from its base to the surface. This fills the annulus (the area between the csg and the hole in the rock). It's this cmt that really protects the aquifer more so then the csg. The best csg in the world that would never rust away won't stop nasties leaking up if the cmt job isn't good. After the cmt cures a pressure test in performed. Very critical: as the well is drilled deeper the mud weight will increase. If the cmt is weak and the higher mud weight breaks it down and you could have contamination. Even worse: a leaking csg "shoe" might prevent you from controlling a blow out if it happens. Companies are very serious about good shoe test way beyond any concern about the environment. I mentioned earlier that cmt failures are not uncommon. If the cmt can't hold the higher pressure we do a "squeeze job": Go in with a RTTS tool that allows us to pump more cmt into the annulus. So common an event the RTTS tool is kept on the rig 24/7. As we drill and set more strings of csg we repeat the test procedure. How bad can a bad shoe test hurt you? I mentioned an offshore well that they did 23 squeeze jobs on the one shallow csg shoe and never got a valid test. Had to abandon the drilling effort: a $48 million loss and they didn't even get to test their targeted reservoir. They could have continued drilling but, again, the primary concern was not burning down the rig and kiling hands if they had a blow out.

Eruptions: if a new well is drilled close to an old well that didn't do a good job of isolating its annular areas and not properly plugged the pressure from the drilling mud in the new well can be transmitted through the porous rock to the old well. The physics are as simple as filling a water tank up that has a hole in it: the water will flow to the lower pressure area outside of the tank. That's what happened in the PA situation. This can be a serious situation not only in the old well but the new one also. If they are drilling deeper with higher mud weights to prevent a blow out and they lose drilling fluid (a lost circulation situation) the back pressure in the new well could be reduced enough to allow a blow out in the new well.

Now P&A: I deplete a reservoir at 10,000' and ready to plug. I have to get a permit from the TRRC to plug the well. They require me to fill the csg up with cement over the depleted zone as well as several hundred feet above it. The annulus above and below the producing zone has already been filled with cmt: need to do that to get a good completion. Depending on the csg program they may require another cmt plug between the bottom plug and the surface csg. In the transition zone from the salt water to fresh water another cmt plug is required. All the plugs are pumped by cmt companies that have to submit their own sworn affidavits that the plugs have been set properly.

Leaks you don't know about? Of course: out of sight...out of mind. Unless something nasty leaks out of the top of a plugged well and someone sees it then no one knows. Even more difficult to know: if the nasties leak into the aquifer and there are no water wells nearby no one will know. And by nasties most consider the worst contaminate to be salt water and not hydrocarbons or drilling fluids if for no other reason the amount of salt water down there huge compared to other fluids. Difficult to generate a meaningful stat when you can't count the population. All I can say is that in Texas/La the landowners know all the potential problems and keep a much closer eye on the situation then the regulators. And won't hesitate to file a law suit if they think something has gone wrong. And in both states the regulators and courts are very much on the side of the landowner. Such law suits happen but aren't very common. That's about as close as I can come to a statistic.

I think you can see now that statement may be confusing and not contradictory. I don't have the details but I'll bet that PA eruption wasn't transmitted through fractures but through a porous reservoir rock. Now if a frac job is done close to a deep fault the fluids could lubricate the fault plane and cause some slippage/minor earth quake. That possibility was clearly demonstrated over 30 years ago when the feds created some usually large tremors from a waste disposal well at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in CO. But it wasn't from a relatively small frac job but from tens of millions of bbls of fluid.

And to address the point again of the possibility of a frac job at 10,000' causing fractures to propagate to the surface: impossible. Companies spend many millions try to propagate a fracture upwards a couple of hundred feet and often fail to do so. Now a shallow frac job/injection well could do it. But that's why in Texas/La the regulators limit the pressure of the frac job/injector well to be below the "frac gradient": the pressure which exceeds the overburden pressure from the weight of the rocks. This will prevent such an accident UNLESS there is a bad cmt job. The high pressure fluids will always go in the direction of least resistance. If that's up the annulus with a bad cmt job then the SWHTF. Again many of my Yankee cousins were distracted from the real potential risks (bad cmt jobs and midnight haulers) by focusing on the actual frac'ng operations. You can't prevent getting hit in the head by a ball coming at you from the right if you looking left. And yes: I'm sure right/left has some political implications but I'm not sure what they are. LOL.

Long term casing and cement job faliures on a shale well that has a 75% decline rate after the first year? These wells drilled today won't be viable in 20 years much less 100. I'm thinking you guys are worried about nothing. We have to coax these wells to produce with millions of dollars, planning and techonogy, so once the source rock has has given up it's last, I don't think you'll see these things coming back to haunt us. I know that in the Gulf coast we have real good regs on plugging and abandoning old wells and most wells aren't plugged until they have exhausted itself of hydrocarbons.

What is left after the well is plugged? And what happens to the chemicals after they are used? If they are shipped out, where/how are they disposed of?

In my area we plug the well with multiple plugs, cut and retrieve some casing strings and the production tubing, we also cut the well below the mudline or the gound level. The pipe connection, flow path or conduit between the productive sands, other formations and the surface are severed and blocked multiple times.

What do you mean by what happens to the chemicals after they are used? In what part of the process are you discussing?

Yes, what happens to the chemicals used? In all processes, right up until, right before, and right after the well is plugged.

TOP - Let's exclude frac fluids for the moment. In the drilling side the most potential toxic substance used is oil-based drilling mud...because of the oil it contains. But it's circulated through steel tanks and aside from accidental spillage never hits at the ground. And at $140/bbl operators try real hard to not spill any. After the well is drilled the OBM is recycled. Water based mud does have a small chemical component but generally consider inert. In Texas as long as the salinity isn't too high and the landowner allows it we can spread WBM on the ground. Otherwise it goes down deep disposal wells if it isn't recycled. On the production side the only significant toxic "chemical" generated is salt water. And it's dealt with like a toxic substance in Texas: never put it on the ground or injected into the fresh water aquifers exept accidentally. And companies pay heavily if that happens. Salt water is disposed in deep injector wells. I've spent tens of $millions of the years doing this.

Now produced frac fluids in another story. With the exception of salt water production no other aspect of the oil patch generates such a huge volume of such truly nasties stuff. This is where PA and NY appeared to be very laxed at least in the early days. In Texas disposal of such nasties is highly regulated and monitored.

Could the salt water be dumped safely at sea? Would that be more cost effective than injection wells? Just thinking salt water added to salt water.


NAOM - Dumping oil field brine into the GOM is allowed if it's sufficient scrubbed of hydrocarbons. Done from offshore platforms all the time. The trick is the transportation costs. Sometimes the costs of hauling my brine exceeds what I have to pay a disposal company to inject it. And that's just hauling it 20 or 30 miles...not 200+ to the GOM. From a practical standpoint if I'm producing a lot of brine in my field it's more economical to drill my own disposal well in the field. Disposal wells cost more than a producing well but if I'm going to produce tens or hundreds of millions of bbls of brine it makes sense.

Thanks for that, makes sense.


Dr. Anthony Ingraffea sounds like a knowledgeable person RE fracking. This article says nothing about computer models.


I don't buy the idea that frac jobs risk big damaging earthquakes.

Last year I attended a talk by Lloyd Cluff, who is a leading expert on earthquake hazards. He was heavily involved in planning and design where the Trans Alaska Pipeline crossed the Denali Fault. That crossing worked almost exactly as planned during the 2002 M 7.9 Denali Fault earthquake.

In the question period after his talk, he was asked about frac jobs causing dangerous earthquakes. He commented that while frac jobs certainly cause very small earthquakes (fracs do break rock after all), the only way it could cause a major, damaging earthquake would be if you injected directly into a major fault zone that was already highly stressed and poised to rupture.

To put that into other terms, big earthquakes only occur after a tremendous amount of stress has accumulated across a fault zone. No big stress already there, then no big earthquake. And if that stress is already there, then an earthquake will occur anyway, sooner or later.

I can believe they set off Earthquakes but I don't think that it is anything to worry about. The Earthquakes they set off tend to be very minor. And the Earthquakes are going to happen eventually, the fracking may just provide "the straw that breaks camel's back" and unleashes the pressure that was already building. Heck, the fracking induced quakes may even be good because they may relieve seismic pressure that could otherwise build up until a large quake happens naturally.

I'm more worried about cracked casings that cause the ground water to be polluted, fugitive gas, midnight runs of unscrupulous frack-water disposal contractors, etc. Accidents and sleazy operations can and will happen.

I don't think its established that earthquakes are going to happen eventually (for any small domain of strained rock). Strain can be accommodated in multiple ways, only one of which is a large scale rapid fracture & stress release. There is also creep, and sometimes aseismic slip (where over periods of hours to months) a fault moves. The distribution of how much strain release happens by these different mechanisms might well be effected.

I'm more worried about fugitive emissions long after the well has been shut in/abandoned. Shouldn't those casing corrode over say fifty years. Do we end up with slow migration of residual methane to the surface for maybe hundreds of years. Perhaps tight gas is a long term climate destabilizer, with the long term warming potential as bad or worse than coal per BTU?


It is rare, but not unheard of, for fluid-injection operations to cause detectable earthquakes. The number of such tremors has increased over the past decade as the amount of deep fluid injection has risen, says McGarr. Fracking itself is thought this year to have spurred quakes in Lancashire, UK — of magnitude 2.3 and 1.5 — and Gavin County, Oklahoma, of up to magnitude 2.8

a geothermal-energy project on the outskirts of Basel, Switzerland, that was terminated after an injection of 11,600 cubic metres of water triggered a series of quakes of magnitude up to 3.4; another in Cooper Basin, Australia, where a 20,000-cubic-metre injection resulted in a magnitude 3.7 quake; and a liquid-waste-disposal project in Colorado in the 1960s, where an injection of 631,000 cubic metres triggered earthquakes of magnitude up to 5, the largest yet seen as a result of fluid injection.

“If you inject about 10,000 cubic metres, then the maximum sized earthquake would be about a magnitude 3.3,” says McGarr. Every time the volume of water doubles, the maximum magnitude of any quake rises by roughly 0.4. “The earthquakes may end up being much smaller, but you want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” says McGarr. The relationship is straightforward, but it is the first time that anyone has quantified it, he adds.

Thanks for the details.. it's funny, but that's not the way Rocky reviewed the same lines from the Article in yesterday's drumbeat. Personally, if the script had them explaining these actually fairly uncomplicated ideas, but TO young grade-schoolers, then why WOULDN'T they put it in quite simple terms?

Either way, the claims still need to be presented to the public with some certifiable backing.. while the doubt-mongers have of course played a pretty familiar hand of suggesting that 'There just isn't scientific consensus yet..' (Just wait til we've extracted 'enough', THEN we'll have this discussion, ok?)

After the smoking debates and then the climate change 'debunking' tactics, you'd think they might be wary of playing this card all over again.

you'd think they might be wary of playing this card all over again.

Why change from a winning strategy? Works every time.

That's great. He demonstrated that by mixing common household chemicals together and using a lighter, you can set a turtle on fire. At least he didn't use the wrong household chemicals and expose the whole class to a cloud of chlorine gas, shades of World War 1.

It could be worse They could discover they had left some old cans of ether sitting on the shelves of the chem lab, and have to call out the Bomb Squad to deal with it. The movie could be called Son of Hurt Locker, the Grade School Edition.

My father was the person who did inspections of school district facilities before his company would underwrite liability insurance policies for them. He used to bring home stories that started with "Guess what I found in school XYZ today?" Some were amusing and some were horrifying. Old cans of ether wouldn't have been the worst of the lot.

Interesting site for up-to-the-minute estimate of energy production and consumption of fossil fuels and renewables in the U.S. and globally in (billion BTUs)


see also http://www.usdebtclock.org/

We do live in interesting times.

It all comes from borrowing money into existence instead of printing it. Both should have the same impact on inflation, so I do not understand why governments support banks by borrowing their money into existence. Of course, banksters pay politicians to maintain that status quo, so I expect nothing different, and just try to enjoy the show.


Crooked Cleanup

When I first read M K Hubbert's Peak Oil paper I was impressed with his anticipation of the solution - Nuclear power. There is no technical reason why we cannot harness the power of the atom. If we had been experimenting with Thorium, breeder and fusion reactors for the past few decades we might have figured out the way to make them work. Or where to take out the trash afterwards.

Unfortunately the human factors are the problem. Aviation has figured this out, so after 'we' got rid of mechanical failures around 1970, 'pilot error' around 2000 and now the crash reports are so unlikely that I generally say "you've got to be kidding" while reading them.

Most people are not aware that both the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl incidents took place around 3 am, when human beings tend to be most dysfunctional. Indeed, not the only problem, but a factor. When I read about the cost cutting, safety overrides, operation with malfunctions, and violation of standard operating procedures in the Nuclear industry I have to say that we as humans are not to be trusted with this type of technology. I am somehow not surprised that the same reports come out in the clean up.

When I do something wrong with the install of my solar panels I will assure you that this will not cause my neighbours to be forced to evacuated hundreds of square kilometers of land for generations. I rather like my fusion reactor 150 Gm to the east. Yes, I know there will be an nuclear incident in a few billion years, which will eliminate this particular branch of the life experiment.

Sadly I think we could have used our allocation of fossil fuels to try to infest the rest of the universe. All evidence was we would be on Mars in 1986. But now we have no English - world space launch capability and a sea of plastic pollution instead. Sure, driving in circles on a Jetski was pretty fun, but somehow less nobel than the survival of humanity c.f. Isaac Asimov. The odds of success were always low, but the probability of failure is now 1.

When I see the art of St Peter's dedicated to the Glory of God, or the Hermitage at St Petersberg, or heck, even the iPhone, (that Star Trek Dick Tracy future); it brings hope that humanity could rise above its fate. Or there is this nasty 3:30 video from the Dec 31 drumbeat, in case you missed it.

Thorium, breeder and fusion reactors for the past few decades we might have figured out the way to make them work.

These have been energy sources of the future, and probably always will be.

Fusion was going to finally have a positive energy return in 2011 (on a very small scale, nothing entering the marketplace).
I'm still waiting.

I had a friend 5 years ago going to India working on Thorium, assuring me in 2 years Thorium will be commercially workable.
I'm still waiting.

Breeder reactors?
1950s we were just around the corner.

"3:30 video from the Dec 31 drumbeat"


And Then Came Man


None of the discussion thus far points out how Humans are flawed and so are their creations. And when a flawed reactor fails - what then?

If we had been experimenting with Thorium, breeder and fusion reactors for the past few decades we might have figured out the way to make them work.

We have been experimenting with fusion reactors for many decades. So far, no success. Hope springs eternal though.

Breeder reactors work and I think there are some in operation in some places. Dangerous reactors though.

Thorium seems to be the big hope these days. India has been working on it and perhaps they'll put some commercial reactors into operation and thus show the world it can be done.

We have been experimenting with fusion reactors for many decades.

No we've been experimenting with plasma confinement devices for decades. Even the massive ITER project cannot really be called a reactor. At least with Thorium there is no question that if you take the right fuels and put them in the right configuration, that you can get a reaction going. With fusion, just holding the plasma together long (and hot) enough is still a big issue.

At least with Thorium there is no question that if you take the right fuels and put them in the right configuration, that you can get a reaction going.

Yes, even decades after you've turned the thing off you can get a nice reaction going with all that U-233...


The reactor facility, called “Ole Salty” by some, was converted to lab and office space as the reactor lay in stand-by status. Then, in March 1994, samples of the off-gases in the process lines unexpectedly revealed uranium hexafluoride (UF6) and fluorine, a highly reactive gas. Where surveyors expected to find part-per-million concentrations, they found concentrations of UF6 of up to 8 percent and fluorine of 50 percent.

...Ole Salty may have been quiet for more than 20 years, but there had been ruminations in its old innards.

...“We discovered a highly hazardous situation in 1994,” Rushton says. “The uranium in the charcoal beds was in an unfavorable geometry that could have led to a chain reaction. If the system had burped, the contamination would have been dispersed over a wide area.

“The more studies we did, the more they showed that it could happen. There was a significant potential for disaster.”

The really fun thing about reality is that it is so much crazier than any fiction writer can imagine.

This is a perfect example of a bunch of technical types who think they really understand something and find that, ultimately, they look like Mickey Mouse the sorcerer's apprentice.

I agree.. These bozo's are claiming they've mastered all the possible chemical reactions that can result in a fluidic environment where the basic properties of the elements themselves are changing on a daily basis. (I don't think they're that smart..)

There is much to be said about locking up the fuel/fission byproducts in a immobile a solid oxide ceramic, which is physically separated from the liquid cooling medium(zirconium alloy based piping). All of which significantly reduces the number of unintentional chemical side reactions..

That said.. even conventional reactor designs have been compromised on several occasions with significant amounts radioactive elements have been released to the environment.

Even when reactors are functioning properly, there are still weekly emissions of radioactive gases from most operational reactors.Child Leukemia, Breast, Thyroid Cancer Rates Increase RADICALLY Near Nuclear Power Plants

That said.. Any event with a probability greater than zero, given enough time, will eventually happen. The world currently has 400+ of these non-zero probability lifespan shortening facilities operating in our mist.

Norway Begins Four Year Test Of Thorium Nuclear Reactor

A Norwegian company is breaking with convention and switching to an alternative energy it hopes will be safer, cleaner and more efficient. But this isn’t about ditching fossil fuels, but rather about making the switch from uranium to thorium. Oslo based Thor Energy is pairing up with the Norwegian government and US-based (but Japanese/Toshiba owned) Westinghouse to begin a four year test that they hope will dispel doubts and make thorium the rule rather than the exception. The thorium will run at a government reactor in Halden.

Thorium was discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius who named it after the Norse god of thunder, Thor. Found in trace amounts in rocks and soil, thorium is actually about three times more abundant than uranium.
The place where thorium is proven either way could be China. The country is serious about weaning itself off of fossil fuels and making nuclear power their primary energy source. Fourteen nuclear power reactors are in operation in China today, another 25 under construction, and there are plans to build more. And in 2011 they announced plans to build a thorium, molten salt reactor. So whether it be Norway, the UK, China, or some other forward-thinking countries, we’ll soon find out if thorium reactors are better than uranium ones, at which point more countries may want to join the thorium chain reaction.

We shall see if they have anymore success than the rest.
As I stated above---
"I'm still waiting".

The thing about Molten Salt Reactors with Thorium is that they can be easily modified to produce virtually 100% pure Uranium-233 via the "Thorex" process. Pure U-233 is very attractive to potential nuclear bomb makers.

Also note that even Wikipedia says that MSRs are "inherently safe" when (as my link above showed) in actuality the much hyped Oak Ridge Molten Salt Reactor almost blew up catastrophically with an unforeseen U-233 criticality 20 years after it was switched off.

They don't put that stuff in the Thorium MSR sales brochures.

The US currently wants rid of its incredibly dangerous U-233 stockpile.

Uranium Substitute Is No Longer Needed, but Its Disposal May Pose Security Risk

WASHINGTON — At the dawn of the civilian nuclear age in the 1950s, one of the pressing questions was how to find enough fuel for reactors and bombs. The government and the private sector seized on a man-made substitute for natural uranium, producing about 3,400 pounds of an exotic and expensive material called uranium 233.

Today, the problem is how to safely get rid of it.

“We do consider this to be waste,” said David G. Huizenga, the senior administrator for environmental management at the Energy Department. “There’s no further need for it.”

....Now, wary of the security risks posed by the stockpiles, the Energy Department is making plans to dispose of them at a cost estimated at $473 million. The department faces other disposal challenges, including how to handle tens of thousands of tons of spent fuel from civilian reactors, but uranium 233 is different, given that in the proper form it could easily be used to make a bomb.

The IAEA used to make noises about being worried that India's Thorium research provided cover for U-233 bomb research - later they went strangely quiet on that point.

Thorium becomes U233 then that is used as fuel in a fission reaction. The goal is not to produce U233 for storage, but to make electricity.

Well yes but producing/extracting U-233 for weapons is perfectly possibly with Thorium/U-233 MSRs. Now you can obviously design them with safeguards to make that difficult but if the resources of a host country were applied to the task of subverting these protections than there's not much anyone can do about it.

Oak Ridge was separating out pure U-233 with "Ole Salty" itself back in 1967. It is in their progress reports from that year. The basic "Thorex" extraction process was perfected at Oak Ridge in 1954


By 1954, the Laboratory’s chemical technologists had completed a pilot plant demonstrating the ability of the THOREX process to separate thorium, protactinium, and uranium-233 from fission products and from each other. This process could isolate uranium-233 for weapons development and also for use as fuel in the proposed thorium breeder reactors.

Plutonium can be extracted from spent fuel rods to make weapons, so I do not see an increased risk.

One thing about weapons grade U-233 is that due to the low spontaneous fission rate it can be used in a simple gun type atomic bomb - which is not the case with typical weapons grade plutonium or reactor grade plutonium where you need a more complicated implosion detonation.

I had not realised until recently that The Times of India confirmed that India apparently detonated a low yield U-233 bomb in 1998 with Shakti-5 - I had speculated that they were interested in U-233 bombs but had never realised that report existed. I wonder if the purity was low and the 0.2kt yield was due to premature detonation or if they were intending a comparatively low yield battlefield type device.

Still a 0.2kt yield from a simple U-233 gun bomb would undoubtedly be a success in the eyes of a terrorist group.

"The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in the USA did successfully manufacture an experimental nuclear bomb, and in the process, they amply demonstrated that U233 is far more difficult to construct into nuclear bombs than Pu239 or minor actinides.

The reason lies chiefly in the uranium-232 (U232) contamination that occurs naturally in all U233. Like most unstable radioactive isotopes, U232 decays into a string of various atoms over time. U232 and some of its daughter decay products emit very strong gamma radiation."


This makes it unlikely that terrorist groups could process the U233, even IF they could get their hands on it.

The Uranium-232 contamination problem is somewhat of a "red herring". The Oak Ridge invented Thorex process could produce virtually 100% pure U-233 via Protactinium-233 decay. And, that's what they were experimenting with at the Oak Ridge MSR in the "Summer of Love".

And even with contaminated U-233 (or Plutonium for that matter) the radiological barrier isn't insurmountable to a determined enough group. Although keeping it secret might be harder than actually doing it I would think.

Due to the expensive and technical nature of making such products - why is anyone all that worried about "terrorists" making a fission bomb?

With DNA printer costs at $0.50 to $1 a base pair making synthetic life looks to be far more affordable.

Proliferation is somewhat of a red herring, since most reactors are sited in countries that either have the bomb or which are technologically advanced, and could build bombs, but choose not to.

Errm... but the general Internet "meme" about "Thorium" reactors is that they are totally safe, proliferation proof and therefore can be installed in huge numbers everywhere in the world.

I will guarantee you right now the USA would not be happy if Iran decided to build a "Civilian" Thorium breeder MSR.

There clearly will be a continuing debate going forward about nuclear power but the Thorium cycle isn't the magic fairy so many want it to be. Some proponents and projects were perhaps sidelined by the US government because they were out of control and dangerous. Not because they were a Thorium "martyr". Just a thought...

The one US President who happened to actually be a Nuclear Physicist was Jimmy Carter - and he very was worried about U-233 proliferation. It was also Carter who declassified the first U-233 bomb test.

Btw, I will remind you that India was sold nuclear reactors on the grounds that it was trusted to have the ability to build nuclear bombs with the equipment and know-how, but would choose not to do so. Well that worked out well didn't it?

Virtually any country with a nuclear reactor can build a bomb in a few weeks from the order being given with available material if they prepare the plan in advance.

Carter was assigned to Rickover's nuclear program and studied nuclear engineering for a few months before resigning his commission to take over the peanut farm. He undoubtedly knew more about nuclear power than most people, but seems to have had no formal credentials. Search "jimmy carter nuclear engineer" for e.g. http://seekerblog.com/2009/08/27/resume-inflation-how-a-peanut-farmer-be...

The official Navy statement is that he trained as engineer officer for the Seawolf nuclear power plant for seven months http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq60-14.htm

From 1 March to 8 October, Carter was preparing to become the engineering officer for the nuclear power plant to be placed in USS Seawolf

However he had resigned his commission in July, so the latter stages were probably not so intensive of study, and it's not clear that he graduated from the program.

Personally I always thought his decision for the once-through nuclear fuel cycle was silly. Weapons proliferation could and did occur regardless of civilian reprocessing.

That article contains a lot of nonsense Written by someone who wants to diminish Carter.

It says

It is possible, but unlikely that LT Carter ever watched a nuclear plant in operation.


young U.S. Naval officer working at the dawn of the nuclear age with the U.S. atomic submarine program, Carter was physically lowered into a damaged nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ontario, Canada, and exposed to levels of radiation unthinkable today after an accident.

"We were fairly well instructed then on what nuclear power was, but for about six months after that I had radioactivity in my urine," President Carter, now 86, told me during an interview for my new book in Plains in 2008. "They let us get probably a thousand times more radiation than they would now. It was in the early stages and they didn't know."

Despite the fears he had to overcome, Carter admits he was animated at the opportunity to put his top-secret training to use in the cleanup of the reactor, located along the Ottawa River northwest of Ottawa.

"It was a very exciting time for me when the Chalk River plant melted down," he continued in the same interview. "I was one of the few people in the world who had clearance to go into a nuclear power plant," he said.

"There were 23 of us and I was in charge. I took my crew up there on the train."

On December 12, 1952, the NRX research reactor at Chalk River Laboratories suffered a partial meltdown. There was a power surge and as a result some fuel rods melted after rupturing. Millions of liters of radioactive water ended up in the reactor building's basement. The crucial reactor's core was left unusable. It was later rebuilt and worked for decades before its retirement in the early 1990s.

At the time, Carter was based in Schenectady, New York, and working closely with Adm. Hyman Rickover on the nuclear propulsion system for the Sea Wolf submarine. He was quickly ordered to Chalk River, joining other Canadian and American service personnel.

So he graduated with a B.S. in 1946 then undertook further study in nuclear physics and engineering with the Navy until 1953. By 1952 was in charge of emergency crews abseiling into damaged reactors.

Just about anyone could do that with enough material.

It's an increased risk because it would allow the continuation of the risk.

The point is that we need to actively be REDUCING the volumes, removing the materials, not continuing to add more of them.

Fast reactors can eliminate the plutonium, creating products with much shorter half lives. It is good to keep the fast reactor discussions separate from the thorium or heavy water discussions, they are different topics.

Baffling! We already have a great fusion reactor, proven highly reliable and so far, safe. So what if we put the same amount of total grunt into solar/wind/efficiency/storage, all of which we know about pretty well already and are bound to get smarter about real fast, Would we get the goods quicker and better? I am guessing yes, yes yes.

Just a tiny, tiny step. (The US did this over 50 years ago. I.E.. The origin of U-233 used in some nuclear weapons testing in the 50's.)

Norway's, Halden reactor is a tiny 25MWth research reactor of conventional design(fuel rods containing ceramic oxide pellets). (first operation 1958)

It's a Heavy Water(D2O) Boiling Water reactor fueled by MOX(Pu-239 based) and/or U235.. Any Th-232 incorporated would displace some of U-238 oxide fuel content which normally comprises 90 to 95% of the total fuel load.

more details can be found at..
Halden boiling water reactor

Fugitive Saddam deputy calls for more protests against Maleki

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on January 4, 2013 shows Saddam Hussein's deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, reading a statement behind a desk.

The fugitive Douri, who was once Iraq’s second most powerful man and heads Saddam's Ba’ath party, said he is in Iraq’s Babil governorate to support the opponents of the government

Douri’s re-appearance comes only one day after Maleki warned that al-Qaeda and the remnants of the former Ba’ath regime are trying to instigate violence by infiltrating demonstrations.

RE: The Natural Gas Bubble

The hype surrounding natural gas is a last push to take toxic assets—literally, in this case—dress them up as fancy investments, and then sell them off to unsuspecting Americans.

“Public policymakers need to be very aware of the promotional aspect of shale gas,” petroleum geologist Art Berman says. “This is a very efficient public relations and business machine. They have done a really good job of convincing public policymakers that shale is revolutionary.”

The industry’s reach, many say, infects the Department of Energy and its Energy Information Agency.

One activist that Oil-Qaeda does not like saw this shale thingy some thiry five years ago:

Suppose the U.S. had 100% of its own energy right here. That wouldn't affect in the least American desire to control the Middle East because we want to make sure that nobody else has access to those cheap resources of energy. One of the ways the U.S. keeps control over Europe and Japan is by having a stranglehold on their energy supply. Therefore, if there was a solar energy or shale breakthrough, giving the U.S. its own energy supply completely independent of Middle East oil, we still would want to ensure control over that region as long as Middle East oil remained cheap and accessible.

(The Peak of the Oil Wars - 8, quoting Chomsky in 1977 interview). He also knew that the propaganda engines would be able to sell any toxic assets:

One of the most important comments on deceit, I think, was made by Adam Smith. He pointed out that a major goal of business is to deceive and oppress the public.

And one of the striking features of the modern period is the institutionalization of that process, so that we now have huge industries deceiving the public — and they're very conscious about it, the public relations industry. Interestingly, this developed in the freest countrie s— in Britain and the US — roughly around time of WWI, when it was recognized that enough freedom had been won that people could no longer be controlled by force. So modes of deception and manipulation had to be developed in order to keep them under control ..."

(The Deceit Business). The sophisticated Oil-Qaeda debates are not much more than old "intellectual" puke.

Why businesses shouldn't let carbon fraud halt U.S. cap and trade

The bugbears of cap and trade schemes appear to be free permits and carbon credits of doubtful veracity. I don't see why it isn't possible to have c&t that uses only first issue permits that have been sold at auction. The only permits (to emit a tonne of CO2) that can be traded are those that have already been paid for. Nobody gets free or grandfathered permits. There is no trade in credits or offsets therefore the system cannot be gamed.

The CO2 spot price may go up or down according to supply and demand. That price may be well under the $23 per tCO2e of Australia's carbon tax which is riddled with freebies like 94.5% exemption for smelters. If the auction price in first issue permits is low due to collusive bidding then some players could break ranks and buy up permits from those who already bought them cheaply.

To illustrate suppose the utility companies with coal and gas generation had a secret meeting to decide they would pay no more than $10 per permit. Remember the total amount of allowed CO2 is fixed. Then Acme Power Co. realise they could get a bigger slice of the market by buying permits for $15 from firms that bought them at $10. Then $15 becomes the new spot price. Meanwhile demand could drop for fossil fuelled electricity either due to recession or low carbon alternatives coming on the market. Then the price per permit adjusts to $13 or whatever.

I think cap and trade is the way to go. Deal with the special interests some other way while eliminating the fraudsters.

What happens trying to get enough votes for a law, is called sausage making. Basically there are always many wavering votes (some may be strategically bluffing), who have to be bought off. So every politician has to give some goody to important constituents, and holds the bill for ransom. How did the recent "cliff" agreement end up including tax breaks for NASCAR tracks -among other goodies?

I think cap and trade is the way to go.

And yet the 70% of money spent to avoid Carbon that never actually avoids Carbon production shows the moral bankruptcy of implementing such.

That's why I said cap & trade schemes should not allow offsets nor free permits that can be resold.

Kulluk to be pulled off soon?

ANCHORAGE, AK – Unified Command (UC) today plans to hook a main tow line to the Kulluk to test capabilities in preparation for recovery operations of the drilling unit. This plan will depend heavily on weather and tidal considerations.
The Kulluk remains upright and stable with no reports of sheen in the vicinity. Salvage teams conducted an additional survey confirming all fuel tanks remain intact.

Time is not their friend. The longer it remains on the beach the more chance another big blow will come in and damage the rig further. Smit, in business since 1842, seems to be the "go to guys" for these kinds of big, challenging, environmentally sensitive salvage jobs. I think I mentioned in a thread a few days ago that Smit did the salvage job on the Selendang Ayu wreck on Unalaska Island, so they have some experience in Alaskan conditions.

Yes, that has been noted in several previous threads. Eg. see Luke H and my comments in yesterday's Drum Beat. They were going to take it to Seattle anyway for maintainence, but the bad timing (relative to weather) may well have been influenced by the tax issue.

They have now added a diagram of a towing plan to the http://www.kullukresponse.com/go/doc/5507/1674235/ website. It would appear that they plan do pull it off the beach, East around the end of Sitkalidak Island, then North into Kiliuda Bay. Total distance about 30 miles (48 km).

Nothing about when that will be done, but it certainly highly dependent on weather. Also there was a note that a bunch of other tugs, spill response vessels, support vessels etc are en-route or on standby. About 15 total vessels in all. It will be quite a fleet around there when they try it.

Although it doesn't say so, I would presume the plan is to anchor it in Kiliuda Bay, which from my map looks to be quite sheltered. There I expect they would do any on scene repairs needed to prepare to tow it to Seattle, and wait for a suitible long weather window to do so.

Shell might be able to pull themselves out of this disaster.

I would suspect they need a good mix of weather and tides. Can they inflate a bunch of bladders to try to give it some buoyancy and get it off the ground? Or perhaps there are no bladders large enough to really help something like that?

Sounds like they are going to attempt to pull it off with brute force. Might be happening very soon.

Kulluk salvage efforts move ahead as weather cooperates

Nevertheless, Churchfield and other officials discussed elements of the plan with reporters. He said a decision has been reached to leave the 155,000 gallons of fuel and other petroleum products on board -- for now. He and the others said that any effort to muscle the craft into deeper water was dependent on tides, weather and readiness, but wouldn't say what wind and surf conditions would delay a tow.

Two key pieces of equipment were still needed on the Kulluk -- a large generator and a component of a towing kit, Churchfield said. But once they were delivered by Army Chinook helicopter, a tow attempt could begin at any time. Churchfield said that a salvage crew on the rig would move with the tow, as would a Shell representative if he couldn't be airlifted off in time.

Current marine weather forcast as of 4 pm local time today is below:

Tonight: W wind 25 kt in the evening becoming variable 10 kt. Seas 11 ft.
Sun: SE wind 20 kt becoming S 30 kt in the afternoon. Seas 12 ft. Rain and snow.
Sun Night: SW wind 35 kt. Seas 19 ft. Rain and snow.
Mon: SW wind 30 kt. Seas 16 ft.
Mon Night Through Tue: W wind 35 kt. Seas 14 ft.
Wed: SW wind 25 kt. Seas 14 ft.
Thu: SW wind 20 kt. Seas 15 ft.

A slight bit more info. Maybe tomorrow (Sunday) morning?

Shell Oil: Damaged drill rig Kulluk destined for Kodiak's Kiliuda Bay

In the coming days, Unified Command -- the joint operation consisting of members of Shell, Noble Drilling Corp., U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and Kodiak stakeholders -- will attempt to tow the vessel 30 miles from its current grounding on Sitkalidak Island to refuge in Kiliuda Bay.
When exactly the Aiviq will make the tow is still unclear. It depends on weather, tides and dispatching the proper resources, according to U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Paul Mehler, federal on-scene coordinator. Despite repeated questions from reporters, there was no solid time-table -- nor specifics on just what exactly conditions crew would need to pull the Kulluk from the beach.
“I have high hopes that by Monday the Kulluk will be gone,” said Colleen McCarthy, a Shell employee and member of Unified Command. “But I can't guarantee.”
High tide of over 8 feet is set for Sunday at 8 a.m, with a low tide at 3 p.m. The tides will be slightly more extreme going into the week, with highs over 9 feet starting Monday, with 2 foot negative tides starting Thursday. While Unified Command has said the tides factor into their decision making, they declined to elaborate on what sort of specific tides would be a help -- or a hindrance.

EDIT: added this link to Old Harbor article. A very nice discussion of the village of Old Harbor.

I wonder how hard they will have to pull the Kulluk to start moving it.

With the motion of wave and tide, it has worked itself into a comfortable minimum-energy position, and swirling sand has wedged it in place.

I guess its too dangerous to send down divers to check on the bedding conditions.

Port Hobron, Sitkalidak Island, AK Tides
Saturday 1/5/12 thru Wednesday 1/9/12

We were about to shut down the TV about midnight last night when the tsunami warning streamed across the screen. Those always make my wife a bit nervous as most of her family lives on sand spit in SW AK. Fortunately for the SE the 7.5 quake about 95 miles NW of the Dixon Entrance was nice enough to not generate damaging waves. None of the 7 other earthquakes recorded around the state since then were over 5.9. Never know what's coming around the corner in these parts. The tsunami warning zone didn't extend anywhere near Kodiak Island though. Speaking of waves my memory must not have been serving me when I mentioned seas up to 56' in my last post. That seemed high to me but they do happen in the Gulf.

Therefore, a forecast of 10-foot seas in open waters means a mariner should expect to encounter a wave spectrum with
many waves between 6 and 10 feet along with a small percentage of waves up to 16 feet and possibly even as large as
20 feet! During the Gulf of Alaska storm on March 10, 2005, buoys observed waves heights as high as 47 feet in the
northern Gulf. In a wave spectrum with a significant wave height of 47 feet, the highest 10% of waves (H1/10) would
equal 1.27 x 47 = 60 ft. And the theoretical maximum wave height in that spectrum is 94 feet (2 times Hs)!!

from ‘Significant Wave Height’ A closer look at wave forecasts (NOAA)

It was seas in excess of 20' winds to 50 knots when they flew out to pull the Kulluk crew. More than a few 30'+ likely slammed the rig around in that blow.

None of the 7 other earthquakes recorded around the state since then were over 5.9

I should have written 7 other earthquakes above 4.0 That's as small as is listed on the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center site

Nothing fresh on the Kulluk posted yet today. There is a strong low centered just off Kodiak that is not forecast to move very far or weaken much tomorrow. There will be a daily minus low tide for about a week beginning Tuesday.

If anyone interested in this incident has't yet read the Old Harbor article geo linked upthread I highly recomment doing so. It appears there is some debate by locals who know the area about just what sort of bottom the Kulluk is resting on.

From www.kullukresponse.com

January 5, 2013 4:30:00 PM AKST

Update #24: Unified Command confirms Kulluk is sound and fit to tow

ANCHORAGE, AK: Unified Command has developed and approved a recovery plan after a series of inspections aboard the Kulluk.

The drilling rig continues to remain upright, fuel tanks appear to be intact, and there is no threat to the stability of the vessel. Also, naval architects have confirmed the structural strength of the vessel is sound and fit to tow.

Salvage teams are currently aboard the vessel and preparing for the recovery operations. Safety remains the number one priority and will drive all facets of the operation.

The exact timing of a potential towing activity is dependent on weather, tides and operational readiness. Once Unified Command confirms that the operation is safe and ready to move forward, the recovery operation will begin.

A video animation of the proposed towing path is available here on the Unified Command’s website.

The current plan calls for the Kulluk to be towed to Kiliuda Bay for safe harbor – a tow of approximately 30 miles. When the Kulluk arrives in Kiliuda Bay, a more detailed assessment will take place.

Unified Command continues to take into account environmental concerns and cultural sensitivities. Outreach to local communities continues throughout the recovery process.

Visit www.KullukResponse.com for more information

Follow @KullukResponse on Twitter

View photos on Flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/KullukResponse

Watch videos on YouTube at www.youtube.com/KullukResponse

Latest from the Kulluk salvage: Update #26: Main tow line attached, Kulluk ready for transit January 6, 2013 6:00:00 PM AKST

Sounds like weather permitting they may try it tomorrow, Monday Jan 7. The general marine weather forcast as of 4 PM local looks ugly tonight and Monday, but seas are predicted to moderate somewhat Monday night as the wind swings around to the W and NW. I believe the Weather Service is giving them special hourly updates for that location, and conditions can vary dramatically over short distances around Kodiak.

Update #26: Main tow line attached, Kulluk ready for transit

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Salvage teams successfully attached the main tow line to the Kulluk drilling unit today at 4 p.m. Alaska Time and Unified Command confirmed all elements are in place for towing operations to proceed.

Tension will be maintained on the line overnight, with recovery expected to begin Jan. 7. However, the Salvage Master has the discretion to initiate the tow earlier should favorable conditions occur throughout the night.

The proposed plan is that the Kulluk will be moved from its current grounded position in Ocean Bay to Kiliuda Bay, about 30 miles north.

The tow will include several vessels, including the Aiviq, an anchor-handling vessel with ship towing capabilities. A U.S. Coast Guard marine inspector is aboard the Aiviq. The Salvage Master is aboard the Kulluk and will remain during transit to Kiliuda Bay. The tug Alert will also be connected to the Kulluk and assist in the tow. A 10-member salvage crew and one Shell representative are on board the Kulluk and will remain on the drilling unit throughout the tow.

Three Seattle-based ocean-going tugs, all with towing capabilities, will support the transit – Ocean Wave, Corbin Foss and Lauren Foss.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley will escort the tow to Kiliuda Bay. A 500-yard radius safety zone around the Kulluk will follow the tow and remain in place once it is anchored in Kiliuda Bay.

As part of the recovery operations, onshore, nearshore and offshore oil spill assets, including response vessels, will be on-scene in Ocean Bay and during transit.

Meanwhile, lots of speculation from experts who are neither involved nor on scene: Salvage experts say prep the Kulluk, move fast when time is right

A nice graphic showing the layout of the Kulluk.

It is about high tide this evening and the notes for Aiviq and Alert read as being underway about at about 3.5 knots. If I read this right the tow is underway but I can't be certain I've never looked at this real time plot before

You might be right. The speed sounds about right for a tow. Comparing the real time plot with the tow plan map looks like they are about on the planned route. route.

I hope it goes well.

NDBC Observations shows a ship report at 0800 GMT (11 PM local) at 57.00 -152.90 showing 20 kts wind. That location is very close to where the Haley is shown on the real time ships plot.

Assuming I am reading that weather report correctly that would mean they got a break in the weather.

Just out from http://www.kullukresponse.com/go/doc/5507/1674863/
Kulluk Refloated: Assessment to Follow
January 6, 2013 11:30:00 PM AKST

ANCHORAGE, AK: At approximately 10:10 p.m., the Kulluk drilling vessel was refloated from its Sitkalidak Island position.

Currently, the Kulluk is attached to the Aiviq by tow line. The Kulluk is currently floating offshore while personnel are assessing the condition of the vessel. Three additional tugs are on standby along with the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley and two oil spill response vessels.

“Following this initial step forward, we will continue to remain cautious while we assess the Kulluk’s condition,” said Martin Padilla, Incident Commander. “We will not move forward to the next phase until we are confident that we can safely transport the vessel.”

There are currently more than 730 people involved in the response and recovery operation including local residents and a local on-site coordinator. Following this stage of the operation there continue to be no injuries to response personnel.

Further information will follow.

Tricky thing with wind and tide. Wind could have held the last tide in some and let them float it easier. Looks like they've moved better than 10 miles and have changed bearing to more southerly to track farther offshore (though the Aiviq's destination is listed as Seattle on the plot). Hope their trip goes well. Merry Christmas Old Harbor.

Results of soundings of fuel tanks taken since #Kulluk refloated consistent w/earlier soundings taken by recovery crew. http://t.co/ubVfa5K3 12 minutes ago

As of 4 am #Kulluk remains in tow by Aiviq traveling at 3.8 knots. Approx location: 16 miles from land. Update #30: http://t.co/ubVfa5K3 14 minutes ago

As of 3 am #Kulluk remains in tow by Aiviq traveling at 4.8 knots. Approx location: 19 miles from land. Update #29: http://t.co/o2CeEtrz about an hour ago

Nanuq crew reports that no initial signs of a discharge of oil in the water as of 2:57 a.m. http://t.co/o2CeEtrz about an hour ago

As of 1:45 am #Kulluk remains in tow by Aiviq traveling at 4.2 knots. Approx location: 16 miles from land. Update #28: http://t.co/7QkjJDe9 about 2 hours ago

Looking good.

1,000 Ships Locked in Ice off China

Temperatures in China have plunged to their lowest in almost three decades, cold enough to freeze coastal waters and trap 1,000 ships in ice, official media said at the weekend.

Since late November the country has shivered at an average of minus 3.8 degrees Celsius, 1.3 degrees colder than the previous average, and the chilliest in 28 years, state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday, citing the China Meteorological Administration.

Bitter cold has even frozen the sea in Laizhou Bay on the coast of Shandong province in the east, stranding nearly 1,000 ships, the China Daily newspaper reported.

Interesting. A deadly cold snap in India. Snow in Brownsville Texas. UK flooding. Lots of tropical storm damage in the Pacific. A tremendous heat wave down under, with all time records set in Tasmania. Climate chaos continuing -even if the places most Americans pay attention to appear quite normal (at the moment).

All of the incidental weather noted is just that - weather. A single day, week, month, or even year of unusual weather is not remarkable. A pattern of continued weather of similar sorts in a given locale could indicate a fundamental change. Gradual build up, worldwide, of heat due to greenhouse effects is notable; and yet it's long term impact is still conjectural, other than that since most changes in basics (like temperature, sea levels, ocean currents, etc.) are causative, we can expect some future impact.

What is most distressing is that so many, especially in the US of A, pooh pooh the idea that the proximate effects could be disastrous, with no understanding of how they will take place, what changes will be engendered, and what it will mean to civilization. The (orchestrated) cry is that, "Hey! Maybe it will be a good change." It has always seemed rather stupid, at least from my POV, to take any chances with the only global climate we have when the results could be fatal to one and all.

I know people - close friends and family members, in fact - who actually state that, "God will take care of his people, so if you are 'saved', you don't really need to worry about global warming, or anything else." Not a thought is given on their part that maybe they are wrong... or maybe they didn't recite the proper incantation, or pray to the correct deity, and they might suffer or die. I have given up talking to them. They do not listen, and they generally try to frighten me into Pascal's wager (not that most even know what that is and why it is senseless). It is uncomfortable.


If I live next door to someone who is saved, does that help?

Nah! I think you are still pretty much SOL! I heard through the wrath grapevine that Satan has recently stocked up on precision laser guided Hellfire and Brimstone missiles...

There's a song by Joel Mabus called "the preacher and the flood". I try and slip this one to my more religious relatives...

Lyrics are here:

Lord, why didn't you save me - I put all my faith in you!"
God said, "I sent you two boats and a helicopter - what more could I do?"

The lord will deliver you, deliver you from the flood,
But it'll be too late if you sit and wait for heavenly angels from above.
I'm here to tell you, sister and brother,
The lord helps them that help one another, ...

A version on Youtube, not by Joel Mabus:

See another version here:

I heard this one years ago, but they recounted it as a plain story.

It's great!

Whenever I hear about that loving, caring god I always think of this picture. It was remarkably easy to find:


Maybe he likes birds more than humans.

>Three months later he [the photographer] committed suicide due to depression!

I first saw this image in a polysci book years ago. I found/find the picture/story fascinating because of what it tells us about ourselves, the viewer/reader. The little girl being stalked by the vulture is starving and on her way to a feeding center. She makes it and lives. The photographer wins a Pulitzer but is so haunted by the image that he suicides.

It's powerful stuff! Oddly the 80-90 people killed in traffic accidents every day in our mad dash to convert our limited/precious/one-time inheritance of fossil fuels into damaging/destabilizing greenhouse gases at the fastest possible pace is not powerful stuff. Weird eh?

True enough.

We get a good laugh when it's the Darwin Awards..

That was an extraordinarily painful image

I posted about this in last drumbeat.

It looks like jet stream patterns are changing, they have become wavier and don't change as frequently as they used to. This will result in extreme weather persisting for longer periods of time, also the dome of high pressure that locks the cold arctic air north will now loosen up, unleashing cold snaps every now and then. People who are rejoicing about a warmer weather are about to get the shock of their lives. The global heat pump a.k.a thermohaline circulation is also at risk.

I'm posting this separately from the several climate comment strings since it's sort of a meta-comment on the way these normally seem to go here and elsewhere.

There are great hopes expressed that the elected leaders of current governments will gain understanding, courage, motivation, or whatever it's perceived they lack to deal with AGW. Various folks propose various things to nurture this, from marching to demonstrating to writing clever essays and videos. Yet it becomes clear quickly that governments are doing, and will do, the bare minimum to accommodate and adapt to the actual level of pressure which is exerted relative to other issues. (The same as they do with any issue.) It becomes clear that at the speed events are moving, governments won't save the world from environmental destruction.

The discussion then moves on to their either being no hope (world is probably doomed), or that those relative few of 'us' who are enlightened should adapt and do our part locally, buying electric cars and putting up PV to set an example and not be hypocrites. Or making our towns more local, growing our own tomatoes and keeping chickens, etc.

And then the discussion stops. And starts again soon after with comments on the next climate story, to follow a similar course.

The logic seems to be that government, elected representation, is the last hope for actually dealing with the large-scale problem. Clearly, that doesn't work. Ergo, doom. Stick a fork in it, the earth is as good as cooked.

Problem is, we're facing mordor times with a shire mentality.

There's very little - aside from the mental boxes we maintain on our own - preventing direct work, innovations, and pressure on global issues by any of us. Yet we inhabit this strange quasi-comfort zone, even while experiencing mental dissonance. We know these dire things intellectually, but it doesn't make it to our guts. Just think of the individual heroism, effort, sacrifice displayed in times of war over relatively trivial matters. We are now contemplating the loss of an evolved world of life, perhaps our species in only a few generations. Yet without those around us giving us permission to be other than we are, we yield.

Maybe we'll fail. Things aren't looking good. But my two cents' worth is this: take personal responsibility on the largest scales. If you think Bill McKibben is on the right track, sell your house, send him the proceeds, and live on the dole. If you think he's on the wrong track, try to do it better. Just step away from your current existence and safety margins and try coming up with something that will work. Sure, you may fail. So what? You were planning to live forever? You think your kids are better served by being put through college than having a world for their kids to live in? Worried about wasting valuable time doing whatever you're doing now?

This isn't addressed to anyone in particular. I'm just pointing out that yes, it's true governments won't deal with it adequately or in time. Corporations certainly won't. Most people won't. OK, that defines that part of the problem. So let's get creative and see ten thousand Frodo's (or Gandhi's, or pick your favorite superhero) give it their best as though the earth mattered. Cleverly, inspiringly, modestly, sneakily, or whatever way seems best. Treat it as personal, because it surely is. You are one of very few conscious, educated, enfranchised hands of life's multi-billion year journey on earth, and you have many options humans have never had before and probably never will again. You know it's true, that's why it feels uncomfortable to hear.

And if any of this sounds even a trace unreasonable, get yourself to a forest under a starry sky, or to a coral reef, or just to somewhere you can look inward to and past your own personal fears.

And then do what seems right to do, something commensurate with the potential loss of a world, your relatives, your history and future, your species.

as I say, my 2 cents' worth on a Saturday night.

Just to cheer you up (not)...

Why IS Britain about to pay £110billion to enter a new Dark Age? A damning indictment of the new 'Green-friendly' Energy Bill

The stupidest international agreement since the Treaty of Versailles expired at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Fifteen years after its launch, the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change died a miserable failure. Few are likely to mourn.

According to Kyoto’s authors, it should by now have triggered a five per cent fall in the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, they have risen by 58 per cent because the world’s faster-growing economies never ratified Kyoto at all, nor the drastic cuts in the use of fossil fuel it prescribed.

Right.. either 'the stupidest Int'l agreement', or the best 'I told you so..' in history. In any case, I'll try to keep my sense of humor and remember whose failure it Actually is.. as they keep blaming the messengers.

Woke up early again.. off to the basement with a big cup of coffee to build more Insulated window frames.. and work on putting some cast-off Garden Path light PV panels onto the backs of my Tiny FM and Tiny Voltmeters, so they will just always be charged.. also designing a nice-looking tilted wooden shelf that can mount on the appropriate windowsill, to properly hold a few such solar implements, as there is often no good safe place to perch these handy tools.

Thanks Greenish for some good, calm thoughts.. I'll toss in a bit of Longfellow, for my favorite capper. I'll be sitting right near Longfellow's pew later this morning.

"Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem. "

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, — act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

"Let us, then, be up and doing,
with a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor, and to wait."

- Psalm of life July 20, 1838,

and about which he also noted.. .

"Mr. Longfellow said of this poem: 'I kept it some time in manuscript, unwilling to show it to any one, it being a voice from my inmost heart, at a time when I was rallying from depression.'


Excellent poem, Jo.
Where is Longfellow's pew?

Agreed.. it's been a favorite for some years now..

First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, Portland Maine.

(Second Pew to the Right of the Altar.. IIRC)


Heed the call. Rise and shine ("And you have shined so very very brightly, Roy" - Bladerunner). For we are meant to shine, that is our meaning and our path to fulfillment.

Enjoyment and sorrow will ebb and flow, but act, act! and make some footprints.

I hated analyzing poetry in English class in school. But it was also satisfying when one could make sense out of some obscure poem like thing.

Let us then, be up and doing...

Thank you Greenish. I do appreciate your meta analysis of the dynamic at play.

Can a society receive therapy? With the goal of, if not wholly unifying intellect and gut, at least not having near complete dissonance? As individuals we can treat and heal the inauthentic, dissonant, self destructive aspects of our own personalities. As a society, or a species, is there a larger personality that follows from our collection of individual traits? Or do the personalities of the most powerful simply dominate? And are the traits that allow one to become powerful contrary to the good of the species? This seems to circle back to therapy and know thyself.

There is nothing, but the mental boxes we create, to stop us. But the mental boxes formed for necessary self survival reasons. Self survival in a threatening or unhealthy environment. Sounds like a positive feedback loop - sick societies produce sick individuals. But a human when employing its brain, at some age and level of development, can know this and create individual health via effective therapy. So there's no excuse there.

Then what? Dedicate your life to fighting the good fight. That's called meaning and results in feelings of fulfillment. Even if you are aboard the sinking Titanic. Enjoy the band.

Personally, and I mean that, my effort in recent years has been on the mental boxes and sorting out the feelings - anger sadness fear - and separating them from who I am and what I want. They are separate things: Who we are and how we feel. We have the choice to be who and what we want. Many/most let feelings derail them. You can't stuff your fear, or other feelings. One can learn to accept them, embrace them, and get on with the work, or play, of living.

I find myself embarrassed by some of my comments here retrospectively. Trying to score points or get in digs to those I disagree with. But live and learn, humans can do that well, occasionally.

Thus one can become an empowered individual, at choice and capable of action. Unafraid to lead (well actually, able to lead in spite of whatever fear shows up) and I do know this - the world is hungry for leaders and will defer to them, big time. Unfortunately many of the people who have realized this, that the masses want to be lead, have nefarious motivations (see: Congress).

I really appreciate your encouragement towards creative action. The underachieved part of the think-decide-act triad. My 2 cents on a sleepless early morning...

Can a society receive therapy?

Yes - it's called Propaganda.


Bill Ryerson: Well, you brought up Population Media Center. One of the things that we do – and that is the primary thing we do – is to use a strategy of communications that has turned out, from everything we have been able to measure, to be the most cost-effective strategy for changing behavior with regard to family size and contraceptive use on a per-behavior change basis of any strategy we have found on the planet. And this is the use of long-running serialized dramas, melodramas like soap operas, in which characters gradually evolve from the middle of the road in that society into positive role models for daughter education, delaying marriage and childbearing until adulthood, spacing of children, limiting of family size, and various other health and social goals of each country. And we have now done such programs in forty-five countries. And I can give you a couple of statistics.
For example, in northern Nigeria, a program we ran from 2007 to 2009 was listened to by 70% of the population at least weekly. It was a twice a week program. It was clearly a smash hit. And it was a smash hit because it was highly suspenseful and highly entertaining. But it had a storyline dealing with a couple deciding to use family planning, which is almost taboo in northern Nigeria because less than 10% of the people in that region use any modern method of contraception. We had eleven clinics have healthcare workers ask clients what had motivated them to come in for family planning, and 67% percent of them named the program as the motivation.

We’ve been on this course for a very, very long time, since that first mentally adept and dexterous ape decided a big club was superior to his own canines for defeating the stupid brute of an ape that monopolized all of the hirsute girlie apes. In only a few steps the mega-fauna began going extinct and the mega-soil started degrading. All of those big, fat resource gradients waiting for one species to have the fortuitous adaptations to create tools to break into the wealth. Nothing has really changed along the way except the scale, organization, and complexity. Now we bang each other with ICBMs and live techno-cellular life with a ramified distribution system.

All of our systems organization has precedent and is easily understood and the unfortunate fact is that we should never have left the “garden of Eden” in the first place. Now we’re going to watch our own technological complexity collapse as the resource gradients are exhausted. Much of the biological complexity has already collapsed with burning of rainforests and other asinine activities. I’m sure some numbskull in lab somewhere will be egotistically assuring others we can reinvent all species we have lost while others work diligently to create the ideal population limiting biological weapon. Meanwhile everyone wants an 8% portfolio return when the phrase “having skin in the game” is about to take on a whole new meaning. Limbics seem to welcome their own self-destruction and deliverance to a cleaner, more sanitary, imaginary existence. "We are dirty, we are bad, deliver us Lord to your almighty Kingdom where we can live forever and ever in peace, amen." Are we a self-loathing species that welcomes life's destruction and our ONLY chance at perpetual existence?

It is posts like this, and the discussion following, made about things like this in times like this, that make TOD sometimes magical. Thank you.


Things are a bit more developed on this front than meets the general eye:

Yes we are drawn to the uplifting thoughts, unfortunately it is the same draw that has many saying 'god is all we need to worry about.'

Hard to say what results that part of our collective brains will bring about.

There is always the chance an Aussie commenting here a couple years back saw it as clear as any. To paraphrase from memory

'humans are about as capable of managing the earth is algae is of managing a pond.'

Humbling, but an observation for me to keep in mind, it balances my tendency to think I am 'god.'


" Many middle class Californians feel that in order to buy a home, they need to drive to qualify as some in the real estate industry put it. In the context of commuting costs, how much is it really worth?

Also, keep in mind that assuming a fortunate one hour commute each way from this distance, you are spending 10 hours a week in the car. In essence many Californians are adding one additional workday with no pay just to get to work. Millions of Californians do this on a daily basis and I rarely hear about the above details which reflects a culture that simply assumes that driving is an absolute must for daily existence. Just like housing, I think many simply focus on the monthly payment and miss the bigger picture."


Take that hypothetical couple commuting from Riverside into Irvine. After ten years, simply by socking away their commuting costs they can purchase a home in Riverside outright. The catch is finding employment where you live. So why not live close to work and bank the savings?"

The future of mining


This clip is narrated in swedish and no eng subs exists, but you can watch the images. This is from the swedish iron ore mines up by the arctic cirlce. In the film (1:30 minutes), you will notice no workers in the mines; they are all sitting in a comfortable office controlling the equipment with a joy stick. Jay automation!

Interesting! Very cool!

This is an example of "hard automation": where machinery is built to do a specific thing at a specific site. The next step would be flexible automation: where all the machines can run down and into a bare mine and work.

Assistant: This new program's incredible!
A few more years'development, and we won't even have to dig anymore.

Dr. Alan Grant:
Where's the fun in that?

- Jurassic Park

With the pace of today it will not take to much time before all usefuls spots are digged anyway.

Some mining companies operate three control rooms located around the global so the workers are always on first shift but operations can run 24 hours per day.

Wind turbines 'only lasting for half as long as previously thought' as study shows they show signs of wearing out after just 12 years

For onshore wind, the monthly ‘load factor’ of turbines -- a measure of how much electricity they generate as a percentage of how much they could produce if on at full power all the time -- dropped from a high of 24 per cent in the first year after construction, to just 11 per cent after 15 years.

For offshore wind -- examined only in Denmark where it has been used for longer -- it declined even more dramatically from over 40 per cent at the start, to just 15 per cent after ten years.

He [Professor Gordon Hughes] believes they become uneconomic after around 12 years. The decline in output was put down to wear and tear of the blades, and more frequent breakdowns for older turbines.

I would have hoped that they have budgeted for replacement blades. A roof needs replacement every 20 to 25 years, and it just sits there. Aircraft are on strict repair and overhauls cycles. And ships are in the yards on a regularly scheduled basis.

I've also heard (through my source at the lab that does our mechanical failure evaluations) that the turbines are seeing fatigue issues, which is also not a surprise. It is rotating equipment after all. And the parts failing now were installed a decade ago.

So we are still very much on the learning curve with large scale wind turbines. The next generation will learn from the failures of the previous generation. This does show the limits of computer modeling though. The real world is not kind to models. Then add in metal fatigue and corrosion, and it's going to break. Estimating the repair budget for new technology is always a challenge. Back in my gold-mining days when pressure oxidation was new, the repair costs of keeping the autoclaves running caught the company by surprise. And that is not even counting the titanium fires, which were supposed to be impossible under those conditions. The peer-reviewed literature (models by another name) were all lab scale, and there were certain effects that only became evident at large scales. But until you build the big one, you won't find the discrepancy.

Which is why EBR II was an entirely safe fast breeder reactor, but many technically competent people have serious doubts about a commercial scale reactor of the same type. The square-cube ratio alone is enough to get you into trouble.

For German onshore wind turbines the Fraunhofer Institut has published some interesting data on reliability of wind energy:


They did not report such high degradation for German turbines, loss of more than 50% (0.24 -> 0.11) in just 15 years should produce a large effect as most of the German capacity was installed before 2004 and is now on avarage more than 8 years old, the production data kWh per kW installed do not decrease! Many turbines are owned by farmers who very likely check their pets on a regular base. There is not a higher rate of failures with increasing age reported by Fraunhofer, they found for onshore that almost 2% of the initial price have annually to be calculated for repairs, that sounds ok for me.
High wind speed and non-regular maintenance seem to be a real problem and complex (fragile) electronics. That these problems are more pronounced for off-shore turbines is no wonder.

Just a heads-up: this 'paper' is not a peer-reviewed article but written alone by an economics professor for a think-tank (lobby organization) that opposes wind farms. Sounds like classic misinformation. These results must not be accepted on face value!

Btw, the dear Professor has written more about how wind turbines raise household electricity bills, published by another so-called think-tank aka industry lobby group The Global Warming Policy Foundation. And aparently green jobs is a myth too also published by the GWPF.

I guess he's just another old white conservative male on a witch hunt?

Edit: EWEA the wind industry organization replies:

The Financial Times reported that the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change rejected Prof Hughes’ findings. “Our expectations of wind turbine lifetimes are based on rigorous analysis and evidence,” the department said. “Britain’s oldest commercial turbines at Delabole in Cornwall have only recently been replaced after 20 years of operation, and the technology has come on in leaps and bounds since that project started generating in 1991.”

The Financial Times also quotes Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, one of the UK’s oldest renewable energy companies, saying the study was “just more anti-wind propaganda”.

“Today’s turbines have been designed and built to last 25 years,” he said. “In fact Ecotricity’s first turbine was built 16 years ago using old technology and is performing better than ever and will still be around for its 25th birthday.”

In Scotland The Herald quotes Jenny Hogan, director of policy for Scottish Renewables, saying “Let’s also remember that Gordon Hughes’s previous research on wind energy has been described by the UK Energy Research Council’s Dr Robert Gross and others at Imperial College, London, as ‘economically irrational, a nonsense scenario’ and ‘economically absurd, spurious and misleading’.”


I suspect there is money available from various fossil fuel interests for this sort of thing. Sounds like an easy (if dishonest) way for someone with middling academic skills to make a living writing. We have several "conservative" political think-tanks in this country, and many of the staffers are quite well paid. The quality of the research is almost always highly suspect.

They're going to give skeptics a bad name..

“Our expectations of wind turbine lifetimes are based on rigorous analysis and evidence,”

And the professor's conclusions are based on data from 3,000 operating wind turbines.

Who are you gonna believe, your rigorous analysis or your own lying eyes?

I worry that these huge turbines are "too big to maintain". The cranes required to replace a blade or bearing are so huge they must cost a fortune to hire. (I hired cranes while in construction. Pricey!) The temptation must be to wait until several turbines need work then do them all with one crane hire. Or maybe even wait until a general refit is needed after 25 years.

And as someone remarked on another site, do turbine operators pay into a remediation fund so that turbines can be removed after they've been abandoned and the area restored?

Yes, well, someone with an obvious bias against 'green' and 'wind turbines' pairs up with known misinformation outlets and calls his own publication 'rigorous'. How credible is that on face value? Compare this to other public information like the Fraunhofer institute and the fact that many small private corporations invested heavily in these machines and none of them are complaining. Isn't a little skepticism in order here? Have you checked his 'rigorous analysis'?

Here's another analysis claiming that a sample of 1500 German turbines up to 15 years old (the median being 10 years old) maintained a production capacity factor (meaning the time a power generator is available to produce power when fuel is available) of 98% which is even higher then coal or nuclear powerplants.

Slides from an academic (peer-reviewed) study showing comparable results from American & European windfarms as described above.

And another one, with comparable results. And there are plenty more.

Looks like the dear Professor Hughes has achieved his results by massaging his data

I looked at your first three links.

Your first link from the Fraunhofer Institute is dated 2006 and is mainly turbines below 1 MW, which are hardly relevant in 2012. They note the bigger the turbine, the greater the failure rate.

Your second link showing "comparable results" is also dated 2006, so I didn't peruse it.

Two of the authors of the second link also contributed to the third link. "Reliability of wind turbine subassemblies" was published in January 2008. The failure rate for "large turbines" (1-1.5 MW) is 2.5 to 3.5 failures per turbine per year. They don't indicate how this affects the capacity factor.

Their figures also confirm that large turbines have a bigger failure rate than small and medium turbines (1-2.5 failures per turbine per year).

Interestingly, to me at any rate, was the fact that electrical components like generators and converters failed more often than mechanical components like gearboxes and bearings. I would have expected it to be the other way around.

Given that the professor's study was based on five more years of operation and would include bigger turbines with presumably higher failure rates, I do not consider his study discredited.

A higher failure rate does not automatically equate to 'only lasting half as long as previously thought' or that they produce only 11% of their capacity after 15 years. These things get repaired you know, which is what the reports show that I linked. So yes, the reports that I linked DO indicate how this affect the capacity factor because they state that the availability factor on average remains very high > 90% for on-shore turbines, which means that -when it blows- the turbines will produce electricity >90% of the time which does not square at all with the reduction in capacity factor from 24% to 11% or from 40% to 15% as Hughes states which is a drop of more then 50% of the initial capacity factor.

These reports also show that even major failures are on average fixed within a few weeks, so your suspicion that repairs are put on a backburner or even written off easily are also wrong. The fast response is logical: the overall investment does not pay back when the turbine does not generate electricity.

So, nowhere do these reports support a drop of more then 50% from initial capacity as Hughes tries to make us believe, not even close. Do you really think that 4 or 5 more years will make up the difference?

Then there is this gem from Scottish Renewables who operate wind farms commercially:

“Our oldest commercial wind farms in Scotland are around 16 years old and none of them have been decommissioned or repowered.

And let's not forget the UK Energy Research Council who are quire authorative in the UK said about another article by Hughes:

“economically irrational, a nonsense scenario” and “economically absurd, spurious and misleading”

I guess that this refers to the idiotic comparison between the cost of electricity from wind turbines and open cycle gas plants construction without mentioning that an OCGT needs expensive gas to run... Don't even ask why Hughes thinks that balancing should be done using OCGT exclusively....

And another study that looks at publicly available data. Relevant quotes:

The failure rates of the publicly available data are in
the range 0.67 to 2.70 failures per turbine per year.

From other studies we've seen that: 1 > repairs < 14 days. So on average: 0.67 > outage < 37.8 days per year.

This study also finds:

the mean annual system availability of a wind turbine is 96.4%.

This includes both old and new turbines. This number corresponds to what industry has always claimed and flies in the face of up to 50% average production loss at 10 yrs.

US windturbines also provide very high availability numbers . According to DOE & forced outage is 1.8%, unscheduled maintenance is 3%, scheduled maintenance is 0.5%.

PS. I'm currently processing the Danish wind production data. Have not finished yet, but cannot reproduce the Hughes results from glancing the raw data and preliminary results.

I asked my sister who is banker (credit department) in a small bank near Hannover and has financed some turbines there. A 50% loss of capacity factor within 15 years would convert a cash cow into a liability with current FITs. She has not heard of such problems.

Novelties: Pulling Carbon Dioxide out of Thin Air
I haven't seen this posted yet so will bring it to your attention: NY Times report on Canadian company (with Bill Gates support) dedicated to making CO2 capture a paying proposition. Be skeptical.

Now a Canadian company has developed a cleansing technology that may one day capture and remove some of this heat-trapping gas directly from the sky. And it is even possible that the gas could then be sold for industrial use.

Carbon Engineering, formed in 2009 with $3.5 million from Bill Gates and others, created prototypes for parts of its cleanup system in 2011 and 2012 at its plant in Calgary, Alberta. The company, which recently closed a $3 million second round of financing, plans to build a complete pilot plant by the end of 2014 for capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, said David Keith, its president and a Harvard professor who has long been interested in climate issues.

The carbon-capturing tools that Carbon Engineering and other companies are designing have made great strides in the last two years, said Timothy A. Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London.

“The technology has moved from a position where people talked about the potential and possibilities to a point where people like David Keith are testing prototype components and producing quite detailed designs and engineering plans,” Dr. Fox said. “Carbon Engineering is the leading contender in this field at this moment for putting an industrial-scale machine together and getting it working.”

There are a number of obvious problems with this account, primary one being there's no mention at all of the energy required for the complete process of extracting, moving, and storing or sequestering CO2 from a smokestack source, let alone from thin air. They also get the % greater concentration of smokestack CO2 vs. concentration in plain old air wrong - it must be many times greater than the "5% to 15%" higher concentration indicated here.

I appreciate their enthusiasm and commitment but I have zero confidence that this represents in any way a solution. As always, the best and perhaps only workable solution is to leave the damn stuff in the ground - after figuring out how we can all live without it.

- Dick Lawrence

I was thinking more about cost in dollars, rather than cost in energy. Cost of capture from free air has generally been very high, although some proposals that take water plus Co2 plus energy to generate fuel claim they can get the CO2 from carbonic acid (dissolved in fresh or seawater). Of course when I hear sold for some industrial purpose, I think, yeah, and how long before that CO2 ends up back in the atmosphere. If its injected into carbonated beverages that happens soon after the bottle is opened. Maybe some end uses produce long term sequestration, but many won't.

This was my first thought too, after reading the qoute. Where do they put the CO2 once collected? The industrial re-cycling seems to be a sure way to get 95+% of it back to the atmosphere again.

I belong to those doomer-pessimists that greenish likes to argue against to get our a***s up and do something. If someone figured out a way to clean out the CO" from the air is volumes we could handle, and then store it away some place where it is out of the system, I would see a way out of my dark hole. Until then, I'll wear my "The end is neigh" sign.

Well there are ways that can technically do the job. The trick is in making it affordable. Without a global carbon price -with credits being paid for removal, even a small economic cost becomes too much. Hence, the search for industrial uses. But once you do that, you have done two things, one limit the size of the market, and two: depending upon the product the CO2 might not stay out of the atmosphere very long.

But, we do know that we can turn certain silicate minerals into carbonate minerals, so if the product was carbonate minerals -perhaps as bulk fill for construction, you could accomplish the goal of keeping the CO2 out of the atmosphere. Its even economically cheap to fracture the silicate minerals by explosives and just leave it lying about. Nature -in the form on carbonic acid in rain will gradually do the conversion for you. But is won't be free. And I'd worry that maybe heavy metals or other undesirable substances might leach out of the stuff.

A counterweight to a bunch of negative speculation on capturing co2 from atmosphere that is nested above:

The name of the company doing the work is 'Carbon Engineering, Ltd', based in Calgary. I found them easily with Google. They have just received second round venture capital financing. They have a plan for building a business and several options for specific technology, and lots of intelligent words about both the near term and the really long term. Their first goal for gaining some income from sales of a product/service is to capture CO2 and supply it to petroleum companies for injection into flagging oil wells. The use of CO2 for this purpose is well known, so if they can deliver at a price that makes sense to the customer, they may be on the way to survival after the second round financing has run out.

But also lots of words about what they see after that. Read it. Read it all. Especially, read their answers to their FAQs. It may be a path to a truly sustainable future with liquid fuels sourced entirely from non-fossil-carbon sources.

The process for purifying the CO2 after it is captured is endothermic. The heat, in the first industrial scale plant, is generated by burning NG in a kiln where the hydroxide/carbonate chemicals are heated. The CO2 from burning NG mixes with the CO2 captured from the atmosphere and is sold to the customer. They say that for every 2 tons of CO2 from atmosphere there is also one ton of CO2 from the NG. It's easy to be derisive about this, but its viewed by them as a way for a new technology to get a toe hold in a very difficult market.

They look to a future in which no fossil fuels are burned and their technology is being used to draw down the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere to levels that we have already exceeded.

It may be a scam, but it appears to me that they are aware of the technical difficulties, and the financial difficulties, and are honestly attempting to make the idea work.

Won't work in a system that's rigged/broken, even if it makes sense and is not a scam.

There're at least 4 billion people of tree-planting age. That's got to be good for something.

Interesting looking show on CNN tonight...8:00 pm Eastern time zone entitled: 'The Coming Storms'


Higher temperatures... Rising seas... Global warming continues to wreak havoc on weather systems around the globe. Massive storms seem to be far less rare events... Are we ready for what Mother Nature has in store? CNN Presents "The Coming Storms" Sunday night at 8 Eastern and Pacific.


One way to get attention in the post Reagan profits first world is to show how much is paid out for storm damage, how much is lost due to drought related crop failure. When you can show that is costs more to ignore the problem than to deal with it, we might make some progress.

Imperfect climate policy unlikely to increase domestic emissions

Corrado Di Maria, Ian Lange, Edwin van der Werf, 6 January 2013

By promising to reduce fossil fuel demand in the future, some claim that climate policies will induce supply side responses today; firms will pump out emissions now before demand restrictions tighten. However, this column argues that the ‘green paradox’ is a red herring. Evidence from US coal prices suggests that, in industrialised countries, there is little danger of an increase in domestic emissions in response to imperfect climate policies.

International carbon leakage

Our additional findings, alongside Di Maria et al. (2012), give reason to believe that there is little danger of an increase in domestic emissions in response to imperfect climate policies, when implemented in industrialised countries. More danger may come from international carbon leakage. When industrialised countries reduce their demand for fossil fuels, international prices may fall, inducing an increase in demand from other countries. In addition, domestic policies may increase the price of energy-intensive goods produced in industrialised countries, which may increase the demand for such goods produced in countries without emission reduction policies. Both channels may induce an increase in CO2 emissions in the latter group of countries, thereby (partly) offsetting the emission reductions of countries with demand-reducing policies. It seems that the restrictions mentioned above apply less to developing countries than to industrialised countries – especially where existing environmental regulation and local planning consent policies may be absent.

There is much scope for improvement in current climate policies of industrialised countries (Helm 2012), especially in preventing emissions leakage, but imperfect climate policies are not likely to induce a green paradox from domestic emissions.

Hat Tip: Mark Thoma at Economists View

David Roberts highlights Kevin Drum's excellent piece on lead's (Pb) relationship to the rise and decline of crime.

There was a paragraph in Roberts piece that captures the fight in a nut shell.

The fight over lead: It’s like all pollution fights rolled into one

It's a fascinating story for all sorts of reasons but as I was reading, the thing that kept striking me is how perfectly the lead fight encapsulates all the promise and perils of pollution fights generally.

We start using something before we understand whether it's safe. We begin to discover it's not safe. Industry obscures the science and viciously battles off regulation for as long as possible, forecasting economic doom. Lots of people get sick and die while they do so. Finally some regulations are put in place. The costs of complying turn out to be lower than anyone predicted. The benefits turn out to be much greater than anyone predicted. The pollutant turns out to be more harmful than originally thought. Despite all of the above, industry continues battling efforts to further reduce the pollutant, while claiming credit for the benefits of reducing it as much as they were forced to.

Here is the article Kevin Drum wrote. It was impressive the number of blogs I came across this past week recommending the article.

America's Real Criminal Element: Lead

New research finds Pb is the hidden villain behind violent crime, lower IQs, and even the ADHD epidemic. And fixing the problem is a lot cheaper than doing nothing.

Edit: fixed a link

Roberts follows up on his previous post...

The bizarre and fascinating history of lead in gasoline

In the course of reading Kevin Drum’s great piece on lead and crime and writing my reply, I started reading a bit about the history of lead in gasoline, and holy crap it’s fascinating! The guy who invented Ethyl, the lead-based additive to gasoline, also invented chlorofluorocarbons, which just about destroyed the ozone layer. Mild-mannered chemist Thomas Midgley is basically history’s greatest monster. Luckily, he got polio, invented a wire-and-pulley system to get himself out of bed, and then ended up being strangled by it. Seriously!

I was amazed when I first heard of him that he was trained as a mechanical engineer, not a chemist. The Freon was needed to replace ammonia and sulfer dioxide which were the only refrigerants known at the time. There were a number of deaths associated with home refrigerators leaking and poisoning the residents. Midgely famously drank the Freon-12 in front of a large audience to show how harmless the chemical was.

He worked for Charles "Boss" Kettering, at Detroit Electric (Delco). Kettering invented the point/coil automotive ignition system and electric starter and was, ultimately, president of General Motors.

The tetra-ethyl lead was never a safe chemical. There was a high mortality rate in the plants producing it until stringent safety rules were implemented. At the time, the 1920s, it was much easier to hide a little matter like dead employees since most were first or second generation immigrants.

That's choice.

Yeah, it's a good article. I'm thinking of using it in my Intro Stats class in university. I'm always looking for good relevant examples of statistical analysis for the students that impact them directly in their lives. Most of them are of low-income background, this article will hit home. Gotta make numeracy important to my kids.

I just read a fascination pamphlet (?) by Edward R. Tufte titled "Visual and Statistical Thinking" Its only 31 pages and has two fascinating stories in it:

1) John Snow and the cholera epidemic, about the 1854 incident in London where Snow used data and statistics to determine the cause of the epidemic.

2)The decision to launch the Challanger, describing the poor data presentation and the resulting poor decisions that lead to the tragedy.

Both are fascinating stories about the use of statistics and data presentation told on a level accessable to the general public (as in 6th grade reading level) but with powerful messages.

Thanks, I downloaded that essay and stashed it too. What I have found very helpful in motivating petrified and unwilling intro statistics students is pulling examples from current events that they have heard about on the news recently and that impact them. These are low-income students, so far we'll be discussing the lead article and gun control statistics - both very real to my kids and great motivators. The space shuttle is a nice what-were-they-thinking example but a bit distant to them but still handy. I'm thinking I'll give them a couple of articles and have them write me a short essay 3 pages? showing critical thinking as well. That we way we work in numeracy via intro statistics, critical thinking and essay writing all at once...

Would you say that statistics could be used to debunk the significance of genetics in most case of cancer? I have expressed to people that, with my limited knowledge of biology (12th grade, or 6th form for you brits), the rise in incidence of cancer does not follow the trends of a genetic disease. IMHO a genetic basis for cancer would not have resulted in the rapid increases in cancer rates that we have witnessed over the last century or so.

I get so tired of hearing people say "it runs in the family".

Alan from the islands

The prototypical pollution fight indeed, mostly driven by the profit motive. Henry Ford wanted to blend ethanol, Standard Oil wanted a zero-volume octane enhancer, and du Pont came up with the patent on tetraethyl lead. General Motors sided with Ford for a while but switched sides in the early 1920s. The prohibitionists were actually in favor of ethanol fuel but the corporations stirred up enough fear, uncertainty, and doubt to suppress it.

Probably as a direct result of that success was the later similar fight over hemp fiber and oil, again supported by Ford but threatening the profits of Standard Oil, du Pont, and the Mellon Bank. Mellon installed his nephew in the newly created Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the Hearst papers lead a diatribe against marijuana, and the $100/ounce tax act was rammed through Congress in near comic examples of dereliction of legislative responsibility.

Search for "anslinger tetraethyl lead marijuana ethanol" for the sordid details.


"Midgley was a key figure in a team of chemists, led by Charles F. Kettering, that developed the tetraethyllead (TEL) additive to gasoline as well as some of the first chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)."

That's right...the guy who came up with leaded gasoline also came up with ozone depleting CFCs. woot woot!

The prohibitionists were actually in favor of ethanol fuel but the corporations stirred up enough fear, uncertainty, and doubt to suppress it.

Revised it sounds like "gun control" even though "medicine" kills a magnitude more people. See http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/americas-biggest-killers-the-chart...

This might sound OT but it isn't. It demonstrates how reality takes a backseat when government and/or corporate propaganda(?) becomes the "goal". People need to get their head's around understanding that what they hear or read may not reflect reality and this goes far beyond gun control.


We start using something before we understand whether it's safe. We begin to discover it's not safe. Industry obscures the science and viciously battles off regulation for as long as possible, forecasting economic doom. Lots of people get sick and die while they do so. Finally some regulations are put in place. The costs of complying turn out to be lower than anyone predicted. The benefits turn out to be much greater than anyone predicted. The pollutant turns out to be more harmful than originally thought. Despite all of the above, industry continues battling efforts to further reduce the pollutant, while claiming credit for the benefits of reducing it as much as they were forced to.

Good analysis. What comes to mind immediately are the tar sands operations, the fracking operations and just about any industrial operation that depends on pumping huge amounts of chemical by-products and wastes into the biosphere. There is a serious burden-of-proof issue that should have been done differently beginning a couple of hundred years ago. This would, unfortunately, have taken just too much foresight.

Last night I had a chance to see the new movie Chasing Ice. It is an awesome film about photographer James Balog's work in taking time lapse photos of retreating glaciers. I highly recommend this film to everyone.

Living in Alaska I have numerous opportinities to see big glaciers close up, and have observed the retreat that occurs over just a few years. Even what I have seen from casual observation is really striking. Balog's work on glaciers in Iceland, Greenland, and Alaska drives home at a gut level just how profound these changes are, and how fast they are occuring.

Apologies in advance if someone has already posted about this movie.

Tried to watch the trailer, but it stopped 7 times to reload in 48 seconds.

Bummer! I haven't tried to watch the trailer. Go see the movie it it plays near you.

Chasing Ice

Trailer - 2 minutes

ABC Coverage - 7 minutes ... images - graphics - background

Huge ice in motion - 3 minutes

Question regarding Policy of the OilDrum:

Is it still the position of the Oil Drum that Global Warming is irrelevant and scientifically flawed?

Some time ago, the Oil Drum board refused to allow discussion of Global Warming to be part of presentations on coal, for example.

There is a major Denier on the editorial staff, but it seems to be OK with drumbeat.

"Is it still the position of the Oil Drum that Global Warming is irrelevant and scientifically flawed?"

Member for
5 hours 35 min

Are you serious or just trying to inflame? Discussions on GW/AGW/CC are discouraged due to the tendency to devolve into "shouting matches" and emotional blustering. As such the position taken was that this is not "The Climate Drum" and the focus, as The Oil Drum, would be on energy.

Is it still the position of the Oil Drum that Global Warming is irrelevant and scientifically flawed

That's a serious accusation to make. AFAIK TOD has no such position, and can't take one for that matter as it's not an institute claiming to represent some interest. As someone already mentioned, it's Oil Drum not Climate Drum, anyways there's plenty of discussion on Drumbeat about AGW, if you want climate specific debate go to realclimate dot org

Is it still the position of the Oil Drum that Global Warming is irrelevant and scientifically flawed?

This has never been our position. The Oil Drum staff has a wide range of views on climate change (and just about everything else). Some probably hold that view. I'd say most of us believe just the opposite. However, we've agreed to keep climate change out of the key posts. We do still discuss it in the Drumbeat, but it is moderated tightly, simply because it too often turns into a tedious flamewar over "research" that was published in 1996.

To that end, I ask people to concentrate on news - new information, not the constant re-hashing of old arguments. The politics of climate change are very relevant, since that's the way the world discusses energy, but please try to minimize the political rants. And discussion of how climate change (whatever its cause) is going to affect our adjustment to the post-carbon age is also very relevant.

Haha, surely you mean 1998 ;-)

One of the first attempts for a global paleo multi-proxy temperature reconstruction was "Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries" by Mann, Bradley & Hughes in 1998.

I'm always amazed about the ferocity of the discussion over a single 14 year old deprecated study. I'm glad you keep such discussions in check.

Cliff Mass says Shell had ample warning of severe weather in the Gulf of Alaska, and used poor judgement starting the tow: Shell game: Gulf of Alaska storms vs. Kulluk drilling rig

Shell Oil made a misguided and poorly informed decision to move a huge drilling platform (the Kulluk) from Dutch Harbor Alaska to Seattle starting Dec. 21. ........

Anyone familiar with the meteorology of the North Pacific and the Gulf of Alaska knows that this region is one of the stormiest on the planet with one major storm after another during midwinter. Unbelievably, a Shell Oil spokesman said, that forecasts indicated a favorable two-week weather window. This is at odds with the facts. First, as I will show below the forecasts on the day they left clearly suggested the potential for big storms during the 3-4 week voyage to Seattle, including the first week. Second, forecast skill drops substantially after 4-6 days and thus there was no guarantee of fair weather for this difficult tow.

----------snip (discussion of forcast models for very stormy conditions)-----

Clearly, some of the solutions are for very wind conditions.

The bottom line is that based on climatology and the forecasts available throughout the period, this was no time to be doing a very difficult tow over the northern Gulf of Alaska.(emphasis in original)

We should expect more from a major international company that is being trusted to drill for oil in ecologically sensitive regions.

Refreshing read.

Cargo cyclists replace truck drivers on European city streets

Those with strong cycling legs have ever more jobs up for grabs in Europe these days. A growing number of businesses are using cargo cycles, a move towards sustainable and free-flowing city traffic that is now strongly backed by public authorities.

Research indicates that at least one quarter of all cargo traffic in European cities could be handled by cycles. And, by using special distribution hubs, larger vehicles and electric assist, this proportion could be even larger.

A cargo cycle is at least as fast as a delivery van in the city - and much cheaper to use, giving a strong economic incentive to make the switch. Cargo cycles also bring important economic advantages to tradesmen, artisans and service providers.

Yep, hauled 18kg of fruit and veg on one of my trips today. On another I noted yet another cycle shop opening up.


Ich Ersetze Ein Auto

This link has been posted a few times already...but I still don't grow tired of seeing that cuteness on the bike. If all cargo cycles came with cute blondes on them I think there would be a call for more cargo bikes.

http://www.ich-ersetze-ein-auto.de/projekt/ ?

"I substitute a car"

The project “Ich ersetze ein Auto” (i.e. “I substitute a car”) - funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment as part of the Climate Initiative - investigates user needs as well as user and stakeholder acceptance of electric cargo bikes for city logistics. Within this project (summer 2012 - summer 2014) 40 of these vehicles are implemented into the daily routine of courier and express logistics providers in nine mayor German cities.

This has all been very interesting, but the largest single infotainment entity in America has issued another call to violence. The cause... Energy? Fuel? Food? The destruction of the environment? Overpopulation? ...People living on the employee-paid insurance plan called Social Security:

We're now one step closer to America's coming civil war

It is perhaps best to know against what background the discussions here on TOD are held.

Good ol' Fox "News" propaganda. These are the people that have my neighbor across the way convinced that Obama is worse than Stalin, is a muslim, and she's definitely sure he's a Kenyan usurper of the American presidency...but worst of all? He's black! Black Kenyan Muslim Stalinist!

"Since 1970, America’s public sector has exploded as a percentage of GDP, rising to almost 25% last year. While the national unemployment rate hovers at the 8% mark, government worker unemployment rate is a cozy 3.8%. Sixteen percent of America’s workforce now work for government. By the time the Obama administration ends, we won’t be that far away from Argentina’s 21 percent."

WTH does "government worker unemployment rate" even mean? I thought government didn't create any jobs any way - shouldn't that number be 100%? The percentage of GDP @ 25% is in line with many other countries and lower than quite a number...nothing wrong there.

"Yet as an economic and social enterprise, government creates nothing"

Apparently this fellow has never heard of the "Internet" or "jet engines" or "solid state electronics" or the "Interstate Highway System" or most roads for that matter...national electrical grid...post office...national defense... yup - government creates nothin'

Thank you for all responses to my question re Oil Drum and global warming. I must address one comment, though: That too much discussion devolves into a shouting match. Outside of scientists, global warming has becoming equivalent to discussing religion publically--verboten. The deniers have won the battle of public discourse--they have silenced the science and public discussion.

I saw this happen in an economics blog--where I was a frequent contributor. We had one person who hijacked any and all discussions of the science. He did the same on Hamilton's blog.

I am quite old and will not see the full effects of what is coming down the pike. My grandchildren will.

That discussions of energy can be divorced from questions of climate and CO2 is just not possible.

I am sad that responsible public discussion of the science and its effects is no longer possible. The Oil Drum has indeed been among those silenced.

By the way, I have been a registered commentator on oil drum for a number of years. Because I forgot my password, I created a new account simply for this question.

And of course no one will read this comment. Appropirate.

Please use the "reply" button when responding to other comments. And post your comments just once, in the thread where the discussion arose.

I am not quite as pessimistic as you are. I think reality is serving as the best argument for climate change. Unfortunately, that's just how the human mind works. Just like nobody cares about peak oil unless new price records are being set.

That discussions of energy can be divorced from questions of climate and CO2 is just not possible.

I am sad that responsible public discussion of the science and its effects is no longer possible. The Oil Drum has indeed been among those silenced.

I don't think there are many "deniers" here and most of the solutions promoted are about as carbon-free as possible. Most discussions on TOD seem to assume in the background that climate change is occurring and at least has been influenced by human contributions. Where things go awry is when talk turns away from energy and focuses on the magnitude of human contribution versus natural cycles, farting cows, vegan diets, and Geo-engineering projects to block out the sun.

"Appropirate." Appro-pirate indeed, arrrgh! Shiver yer timbers :)