Drumbeat: January 7, 2013

As Biofuel Demand Grows, So Do Guatemala’s Hunger Pangs

GUATEMALA CITY — In the tiny tortillerias of this city, people complain ceaselessly about the high price of corn. Just three years ago, one quetzal — about 15 cents — bought eight tortillas; today it buys only four. And eggs have tripled in price because chickens eat corn feed.

Meanwhile, in rural areas, subsistence farmers struggle to find a place to sow their seeds. On a recent morning, José Antonio Alvarado was harvesting his corn crop on the narrow median of Highway 2 as trucks zoomed by.

“We’re farming here because there is no other land, and I have to feed my family,” said Mr. Alvarado, pointing to his sons Alejandro and José, who are 4 and 6 but appear to be much younger, a sign of chronic malnutrition.

Recent laws in the United States and Europe that mandate the increasing use of biofuel in cars have had far-flung ripple effects, economists say, as land once devoted to growing food for humans is now sometimes more profitably used for churning out vehicle fuel.

Oil Futures Fall; Morgan Stanley Sees Supply Recovery

Oil declined for a third day in London amid speculation that talks between Sudan and South Sudan may lead to the resumption of crude exports.

Brent futures fell as much as 0.5 percent, while the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate lost as much as 0.7 percent. Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir and South Sudan’s Salva Kiir will meet in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Jan. 13, having agreed last week to set up a demilitarized zone along their border “without further delay.” Morgan Stanley said that Brent will come under pressure as demand eases after winter in the Northern Hemisphere and supplies in Angola, Nigeria and South Sudan are restored.

Gas at $8 May Lure Reliance to Start New India Fields

Reliance Industries Ltd., sitting on untapped natural gas reserves off India’s east coast, will be able to generate profit from new fields if the government agrees to double prices, a person familiar with the matter said.

At $8 per million British thermal units Reliance will earn a profit margin of about 15 percent from fuel trapped more than a mile deep in the newer pockets of KG-D6, said the person, who asked not to be identified, citing rules. While Reliance sells gas from the basin at a government-set price of $4.20, at least $7 is required to break even on the new wells, the person said.

Oman to double nat gas prices for some industrial users by 2015

MUSCAT (Reuters) - Oman will double natural gas prices for some industrial consumers by 2015, with a rise of 33 percent for 2013 alone, Oman's minister for financial affairs told Reuters on Monday in a rare Middle Eastern move to slash fuel subsidies.

The Omani government and some major industrial consumers have agreed that gas prices will rise from $1.5 per million British thermal units (mmbtu) in 2012 to $2/mmbtu in 2013, Darwish al-Balushi said.

In 2014 prices will rise to $2.5, then hit $3 in 2015 with further rises expected in years beyond that, he said.

Gas-hungry industry has flourished in the Middle East on fuel priced at a fraction of international levels but its future growth is in doubt unless more sources can be developed.

Shell Leads S. Africa on Record Oil Rush as Coal Falters

South Africa, the African continent’s economic engine, is on the cusp of an oil rush never before seen in the country as burgeoning energy demand exposes the vulnerability of its dependence on coal.

Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. energy producer, plans to search for crude and natural gas off eastern South Africa after snapping up blocks near Durban, while Anadarko Petroleum Corp. bought stakes in about 24 million acres offshore. Royal Dutch Shell Plc has led investor interest, exploring prospects off the west coast.

“The presence of one super-major makes others take an interest,” said Dave van der Spuy, resource evaluation manager at state regulator Petroleum Agency SA. “The level of activity and interest in South Africa is at its highest ever.”

U.K. Natural Gas Jumps Most Since August as Statoil Cuts Output

U.K. natural gas for same-day delivery advanced the most in more than four months as Statoil ASA said production from Norway was reduced, tightening the British delivery network.

The within-day contract surged 6.7 percent, the most since Aug. 20, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg. Gas supply will be cut by 17 million cubic meters a day for an unspecified period, Statoil said on its website today. The delivery network will contain 327 million cubic meters at 6 a.m. tomorrow, down from 345 million 24 hours earlier, National Grid Plc data show.

Energy Boosts U.S. Office Market as Pittsburgh Rents Jump

Leasing demand from natural-gas and other energy companies is helping to bolster the U.S. office market and drive growth in cities such as Pittsburgh, where rents are at their highest in more than a decade.

Greater Pittsburgh, along with Houston and other cities with concentrations of energy-related workers, is outpacing national growth in rents and occupancy, according to a report today from Reis Inc., which showed U.S. office landlords had net gains in leased space for a second year in 2012, following three years of declines. Tenants in energy, along with technology, helped push the national vacancy rate to a three-year low.

Texas Starts Budget Debate Flush With Energy Boom Cash

Legislators in Texas, the biggest energy producer among U.S. states, will begin deliberating its next two-year budget with a surplus that may near the $8.8 billion record set in 2007.

The Texas economy has surpassed budget projections over the past 15 months, as booming energy output fueled job growth and an 11 percent fiscal first-quarter increase in sales-tax receipts, the state’s biggest source of general-fund revenue. Even after covering $7 billion owed on health and school bills, analysts say the state may be flush with cash heading into 2014.

Bulls Add to Wagers for First Time Since November: Commodities

Speculators increased their bullish commodity wagers for the first time since November as signs of accelerating growth in China and the U.S. drove prices higher for a fourth consecutive week.

Hedge funds and other money managers raised their net-long positions across 18 U.S. futures and options by 2.4 percent to 691,832 contracts in the week ended Dec. 31, the first gain since Nov. 27, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Cotton holdings climbed to the highest since September 2011, and those for sugar reached a nine-week high. Gold wagers rose for the first time in three weeks.

With Chavez ill and inauguration near, uncertainty reigns in Venezuela

Chavez is scheduled to take the oath of office for a new six-year term in just a few days, but it's unclear whether he'll even be in the country. Chavez has been recovering from surgery in Cuba, where he is undergoing cancer treatment. Top aides describe the president's condition as "complicated" and "delicate."

The uncertainty over what will happen on inauguration day -- January 10 -- has roiled this oil-rich country of more than 28 million people. Newspapers and airwaves are full of questions about the future.

Iran oil exports plunge 40% in 9 months

Iran's oil exports have been slashed 40 per cent in the past nine months because of tough Western sanctions, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi was quoted as saying on Monday, in a reversal of his previous denials of any decline at all.

"There has been a 40 per cent decrease in oil sales and a 45 per cent decrease in repatriating oil money," Qasemi told the Iranian parliament's budget commission, according to the ISNA news agency citing MPs.

Libya Crackdown Makes Benghazi Ghost Town as Police Fight Gunmen

As night fell in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi, masked men pulled a senior officer from his car at a traffic light.

Captain Abdelsalam al-Mahdawi remains unaccounted for after being abducted on Jan. 2. He was poised to identify suspects in another attack: the murder of Benghazi police chief Faraj el- Drissi in his house in November. Two months earlier, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed when an armed crowd stormed the U.S. mission in the city.

Morsy backs Syrian calls for al-Assad to face war crimes trial

Cairo (CNN) -- Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy supports calls by people in Syria for President Bashar al-Assad to be tried for war crimes, he told CNN on Sunday in an exclusive interview.

Scavenging for food, Syrian children witness war

But for Abdul Qadr al-Hasan's daughter Siham, the cold came too fast. Holding his surviving daughter, the thick-set man describes how Siham died. "She was not sick. She didn't have any problems at all. We were up late that night and we were playing with her," he said. "We woke up the next morning ... She was curled into a ball from the cold. We buried her in the village. Her sister is afraid now of the cold."

Had his family had a stove in their tent just a few weeks earlier, Siham would have lived. But the struggle to keep warm brings its own hazards. Wood is scarce. Easier to find is plastic, which burns with a sickly, acrid smoke. Children scour the fields for this "treasure" but then reap the consequences from the heat: a poisonous blanket of smoke that brings hacking coughs to each settlement.

What's next for Syria in 2013?

Will the situation improve in 2013, or will the bloody stalemate continue? There have been encouraging signs lately for the opposition, which has made military gains against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. But some observers say al-Assad's grip on power remains strong.

Exxon Hedges Oil Sands With Offshore Hebron Project

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s plans to develop a $14 billion underwater oil field off Newfoundland’s coast allows the world’s biggest energy company to hedge against discounted crude from Canada’s oil sands.

“The better pricing is definitely an issue,” Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. said by phone from St. Louis on Jan. 4. “While things could change in the time it takes to finish the project, it’s a great way for Exxon to hedge their pricing.”

Energy Myths

Which of the following statements is true? The United States of America now has a 100-year supply of natural gas, thanks to the miracle of shale gas. By 2017, it will once again be the world’s biggest oil producer. By 2035, it will be entirely “energy-independent”, and free in particular from its reliance on Middle Eastern oil. Unless you’ve been dead for the past couple of years, you’ve been hearing lots of enthusiastic forecasts like this, but not one of them is true. They are generally accompanied by sweeping predictions about geopolitics that are equally misleading, at least insofar as they depend on assumptions about cheap and plentiful supplies of shale gas and other forms of “unconventional” oil and gas.

For example, we are assured that the US, no longer dependent on Arab oil, will break its habit of intervening militarily in the Middle East, since what happens there will no longer matter to Washington. But this new era of cheap and plentiful energy from fossil fuels will also result, alas, in sky-high greenhouse gas emissions and runaway global warming. These statements are also untrue, at least in the formulation given above, since they are based on quite mistaken assumptions.

The 2013 Outlook For Gulf Keystone Petroleum

Shareholders in Kurdistan-focused oil explorer Gulf Keystone Petroleum had a roller-coaster ride in 2012, after the company's share price peaked at 465p in February before plunging down to a low of 139p.

This crazy spike was the result of unfounded takeover rumours, but there's no doubting that the firm has a world-class oil asset in its Shaikan field and should soon become a serious takeover target, or a major independent producer.

I think that 2013 could be the year that Gulf Keystone starts to fulfil its true investment potential, as several major road blocks are likely to be cleared from the company's path.

Stricken Shell oil barge towed away after being successfully refloated

The stricken Shell oil barge that ran aground near an uninhabited Alaskan island on new year's eve has been refloated and is being towed to a sheltered cove where the damage can be assessed.

The 28,000-tonne Kulluk now appears to be heading at 3.5km an hour on its way to Kiliuda Bay, about 40 miles from where it ran aground on Sitkalidak Island, according to the website marinetraffic.com. It is understood that is being towed at night by the Seattle-based tug Aiviq, with seven other ships in attendance.

Shell-Shocked Alaska

Why did Shell spend so much money to keep coastal Alaskans away from the table? Don't they value the experience of local people along the Beaufort and Chukchi coasts? Oh, that's right. When you're drilling in their back yards, you only want silent partners.

Here's the scoop, geniuses. Local knowledge might have helped you figure out that shipping out of Dutch Harbor with only one, largely untested tug, IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER, wasn't a good idea. When the Deadliest Catch boats are still tied to the dock, maybe you should ask why.

Drilling Far From Imminent, but Debate Roils a Region

ONEONTA, N.Y. — If Otsego County were Hollywood, then its debate over hydraulic fracturing, the contentious method of drilling for natural gas, would be resolved as it is in the movie “Promised Land,” which opened here over the weekend at the Southside Mall. That is, a good-looking representative of a villainous gas company would dupe the townspeople into selling him their mineral rights, only to repent after deciding that his employer was bad and fracking, as it is known, potentially worse. And this would win him the heart of the prettiest teacher at the local elementary school.

Instead, people here are not following the script.

Natural gas companies have yet to flock to this region at the foot of the Catskills, and truth be told, drilling is more of a distant possibility than an imminent event, since a state decision on whether to allow the process is still pending. But the debate between supporters and critics is so caustic it is as if rigs were already sinking pipe into every farm and backyard.

Maersk Wants Hong Kong to Ban Dirty Fuel to Fight Smog

Maersk Line, the world’s biggest container-shipping company, threatened to stop using cleaner fuel at Hong Kong port from next year if the government doesn’t mandate higher quality oil for carriers berthing in the city.

Without rules, shipping lines that burn polluting fuel benefit from cheaper costs compared with Maersk, which uses a cleaner fuel that is also expensive, said Tim Smith, its North Asia head. The company and 17 other operators have voluntarily used low-sulfur oil for the past two years to help curb Hong Kong’s pollution, the worst among global financial centers.

Annual Buildup of Air Pollution Chokes Tehran

TEHRAN — Already battered by international threats against their nation’s nuclear program, sanctions and a broken economy, Iranians living here in the capital are now trying to cope with what has become an annual pollution peril: a yellowish haze that engulfs Tehran this time of year.

For nearly a week, officials here and in other large cities have been calling on residents to remain indoors or avoid downtown areas, saying that with air pollution at such high levels, venturing outside could be tantamount to “suicide,” state radio reported Saturday.

Green deal's upfront fees 'put people off upgrading homes'

Upfront charges of up to £150 are likely to put householders off the government's flagship plan to improve the energy efficiency of 14m homes, MPs and consumer groups have warned.

Natural Gas Vies With Electric Hybrids in GE Auto Fleet

General Electric Co.’s commitment to buy 25,000 electric autos, promoted as the largest ever when it was announced more than two years ago, is taking a detour.

The obstacle: Customers of GE’s corporate fleet-services unit wanted more options, said Deb Frodl, the division’s chief strategy officer. So GE has included natural gas-powered pickups and propane-fueled vehicles among about 11,000 autos -- mostly plug-in hybrids and electric cars -- already acquired from makers including Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.

Megabus, BoltBus Overcome U.S. Stigma With Cheap Travel

A U.S. bus-transportation boom that began seven years ago is accelerating as travelers ditch their cars and avoid airport security lines to buy cheap tickets on Wi-Fi equipped motorcoaches.

Bus transportation was again the fastest-growing form of U.S. intercity travel last year, with scheduled departures up 7.5 percent, the most in four years, according to a DePaul University study released yesterday. The study excluded so- called Chinatown lines that don’t publish regular schedules.

Between 1980 and 2006, the industry declined an average of 2.9 percent a year. Since then, it’s grown between 5.1 percent and 9.8 percent a year.

Solars Drive Steepest Jump in 3 Months

LDK, the second-largest maker of solar wafers globally, jumped 11 percent Jan. 4 to $2.14, the highest price since June 21. Suntech, the world’s biggest solar-panel maker, rose 2.7 percent to a six-month high of $1.87. Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. (YGE) climbed 23 percent in the week while Trina Solar Ltd. added 17 percent.

The Chinese government will provide a total 1.82 billion yuan ($290 million) in subsidies to 126 rooftop solar installation projects, renewing an aid program started in 2009, China Daily reported Jan. 4, citing the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. Assistance will range from 7.5 yuan ($1.2) to 9 yuan per watt, the newspaper said.

Great Plains wind farms limited by grid links

(Reuters) - Besides the enormous oil resources contained in the Bakken Shale, North Dakota is one of the biggest potential producers of wind power in the United States.

North Dakota already has almost 1,500 megawatts (MW) of wind-generating capacity installed, with another 200 MW under construction, according to the American Wind Energy Association. In 2011, wind provided almost 15 percent of the state's electricity consumption.

Yet North Dakota's installed capacity is only a tiny fraction of the state's total potential.

Biofuels cause pollution, not as green as thought - study

OSLO (Reuters) - Green schemes to fight climate change by producing more bio-fuels could actually worsen a little-known type of air pollution and cause almost 1,400 premature deaths a year in Europe by 2020, a study showed on Sunday.

The report said trees grown to produce wood fuel - seen as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal - released a chemical into the air that, when mixed with other pollutants, could also reduce farmers' crop yields.

'Transition' event set for Jan. 24-26

SOUTH BEND -- A community gathering titled Transition Michiana, focusing on developing a healthy sustainable economic future, will be Jan. 24-26 at the Kroc Center, 900 W. Western Ave.

The transition movement is a grass-roots community initiative designed to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and economic crisis. The event is being planned by the Food Security Coalition.

Charles fears ‘dysfunctional’ legacy for Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s child

The Prince of Wales has spoken about how the prospect of becoming a grandfather is spurring his environmental beliefs, saying he does not want to “hand on an increasingly dysfunctional world”.

Charles, an outspoken campaigner on environmental issues, said he did not want the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s child, due to be born this summer, to ask him why he had not done more to tackle issues like climate change.

Arab warming

The common notion is that global warming will end up inundating a third of Bangladesh, cause horrendous cyclones in North America and completely submerge tiny island-nations in the Asia-Pacific. Now, according to a report recently released by the World Bank, it could affect a region already blighted with extremities of weather, and bereft of rainfall and freshwater—the Middle-East. Global warming, claims the report, is set to amplify the two features of the Middle-East so much so that there could be a drastic reduction in fresh water supply for sustenance of agriculture, and an uncomfortable spike in the already high temperatures. And it may already be happening—2010 was the hottest year for the Middle-East since the 1800s, whereas Kuwait topped both 2010 and 2011, for the highest recorded temperatures at 52.6 degree Celsius and 53.5 degree Celsius, respectively. Moreover, till 2050, the freshwater run-off could be about 10% of its current volume, while hotter climate may dissipate Mediterranean agriculture (where 80% of the Middle-East crop is grown). Both of these could prove dire for the region given its population growth—its population has grown threefold to 349 million in a span of 50 years—and an already persistent water deficit.

'Horrible' sea level rise of more than 3 feet plausible by 2100, experts say

Melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland may push up global sea levels more than 3 feet by the end of this century, according to a scientific poll of experts that brings a degree of clarity to a murky and controversial slice of climate science.

Such a rise in the seas would displace millions of people from low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, swamp atolls in the Pacific Ocean, cause dikes in Holland to fail, and cost coastal mega-cities from New York to Tokyo billions of dollars for construction of sea walls and other infrastructure to combat the tides.

"The consequences are horrible," Jonathan Bamber, a glaciologist at the University of Bristol and a co-author of the study published Jan. 6 in the journal Nature Climate Change, told NBC News.

Daniel Yergin says technology will continue to save us. Yergin: Energy History Repeats Itself

“What we’re seeing today with the revolution in shale gas and tight oil, this is part of a larger pattern. We go through these periods in which people think we’re running out of energy, the end is near, and then technology opens new doors. The timeline is really a demonstration of how these new doors of technology and energy use keep opening, and often in surprising and unexpected ways.”

Ron P.

Hello Ron,

How are things? , you mean this Yergin ?

" “It’s not the end of the oil age”
Daniel Yergin
Washington Post

Our new, field-by-field analysis of production capacity, led by my colleagues Peter Jackson and Robert Esser, is quite at odds with the current view and leads to a strikingly different conclusion: There will be a large, unprecedented buildup of oil supply in the next few years. Between 2004 and 2010, capacity to produce oil (not actual production) could grow by 16 million barrels a day -- from 85 million barrels per day to 101 million barrels a day -- a 20 percent increase. Such growth over the next few years would relieve the current pressure on supply and demand. "

Are we there yet ?

And as Rockman will point out - new tech ? thats the 30 year old new tech he's talking about ?

Hey you gotta laugh , haven't you ? ;-)

You couldn't make this stuff up .......


Forbin - Hey...be nice. Yergin is just trying to make a living pitching his book. I never have seen that he has ever invested his money in any of these "new" plays and technolgies. Selling his thoughts (be they right or wrong) might be a big chunk of his income.

Yergin is a bit odd. I enjoyed the PBS series The Prize. It may not have been the last word on the oil industry but I found it a great overview at the time. Because an article on one of the drumbeats a while back praised his latest book, The Quest: Energy Security and the Remaking of the Modern World, as a potentially significant contribution to the current debate, I picked it up.

page 328:

Gas could certainly be extracted from shale rock. In fact, it is thought that the very first natural gas well in the United States, in Fredonia, New York, in 1821, drew from a shale formation. The problem was the economics.

page 329:


Fraccing - otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing - is a technique that was first used at the end of the 1940s. It injects large amounts of water, under high pressure, combined with sand and small amounts of chemicals, into the shale formation.

There is plenty of great information in the book, but he has a funny way of contradicting himself and being brashly optimistic about the future for no good reason. Depending on your own ideas or lack thereof before reading the book you could draw any number of conclusions - not only the ones he jumps to at the end despite all the evidence and scenarios he himself presents earlier in the book. I suppose Yergin always adds the Hollywood ending that the publisher or other parties are looking for.

Peeking at Peak Oil is the other book I've got lying around at the moment and I expect it to be no less enlightening despite the narrower focus.

k - One of the problems folks with the optimistic projections of Yergin et al is that they can be correct for the wrong reasons. In 2000 had you guaranteed me $10+/mcf and $100+/bbl of oil I would have offered a bright future for the shales. Most in the oil patch would also IMHO. I drilled and frac'd my first Eagle Ford Shale well over 25 years. Oil prices at the time didn't provide anything to brag about. Over 30 years ago I pumped a 500,000# frac into another carbonate shale in a vertical well...a frac that was many times larger than they are pumping in many of the wells today. But I was also involved in dozens of horizontal and frac'd Austin Chalk (a fractured carbonate shale) wells over 20 years ago that were financial successes due to higher prices at that time. For a short time the AC doubled the amount of Texas oil production. Likewise I can also make a very pessimistic projection of future oily shale drilling if you guarantee me much lower oil prices than we have now. There's no tech that will turn the shales into a boom at $50/bbl. Just like the east Texas dry NG shale plays collapsed when NG prices fell hard. If you hadn't seen my post before: in 2008 I was consulting for Devon. They had 18 rigs drilling the dry gas shales in east Texas. They dropped 14 of those rigs and paid a total of $40 million in rig cancellation fees to do so. A better investment to write that check then drill any more wells. I'm not projecting oil prices to make such a huge drop. OTOH almost no one in early 2008 was making such a prediction about NG prices either. In fact some were predicting $15+/mcf. And that proved to be very incorrect.

Yergin may eventually have his optimism proved correct. But it won't be due to new tech or new trends being developed IMHO. It will be because the prices support the effort.

So, RM... what is your view on direction. We have the price of food rising dramatically, oil remaining pretty much steady to a bit higher, and wages falling. So, where do we go from here? Is there any reason to believe that prices of essentials can continue to rise while wages of consumers of those essentials continue to drop?

I agree with your analysis 100%, though. "[Oil optimism] will be because the prices support the effort." That, as I know you agree, depends on demand being sufficient to sustain supply. And that, it seems to me, depends on consumers being able to buy oil [products].


I'd say most of TOD readers would see through the arguments Yergin makes since similar arguments are refuted here daily.

In one section called: Why Supplies Continue to Grow (page 238) he tries to show how Hubbert was 'wrong' because the 50s when Hubbert was writing was technologically stagnant and that changed in the 1960s but omits any examples. The Hubbert bell curve is inaccurate as one can see from US production. Hubbert had predicted no more than 1.5 million bpd for 2012 (US production) while the actual was 4x higher etc. No mention of Alaska or GOM in this exposition. He tries to dismiss peak oilers and their attitudes, how quick they are to jump on the conclusions of others who doubt the 'imminence' of peak oil.

And yet he admits on page 242:

Replacing reserves is even more challenging because of a natural decline rate in oil fields - on a worldwide basis, about 3 percent.

I guess if you're in consulting you have to at least give lip service to the facts your clients will also tend to have. What do you expect from someone who writes about the closest thing to an officially sanctioned story of oil.

The best argument he has against peak oilers seems to be that they're jumping the gun and we could go on with BAU without losing any sleep...for how much longer?

Replacing reserves is even more challenging because of a natural decline rate in oil fields - on a worldwide basis, about 3 percent.

Interestingly, that decline rate is for the conventional fields, not for frac'd shale plays where it is almost 10 x that rate.

Which reminds me... I was wondering whether fields such as Bakkan will be able to sustain long term, slow recovery. I can see an argument either way, and have seen no experiential data. If not, things could be much worse than I have been contemplating to date.


Ron - So the link is really just an ad for Yergin pitching his new book. If I didn't mind wasting money I would buy the book and check the details of his misrepresentations. OK...hopefully for the last time for those who might not have heard me rattle on: the hydrocarbons in the shales have been known for many decades. The ability to drill and commercially produce fractured reservoirs horizontally was developed over 20 years ago (i.e. the Austin Chalk). It would be interesting to see how he ignores the effect of pricing in the deployment of all these 'new' technologies and plays.

Technology is indeed opening new doors and the latest opening door will lead us to a largely unlivable planet. Why do these seemingly intelligent people see these opening doors as an unmitigated benefit.

Perhaps rhetorical, but in any case, taking a stab (and dispensing with words like 'seem' or 'apparent'), I'll go with tribal myopia:
Works well in small tribes/bands of small numbers, but not at current, "impossible hamster" scales. Our minds are simply not cut out for (understanding or managing) scale beyond a certain cutoff.

Incidentally, someone mentioned something in another Drumbeat along the lines of a particular country's focus on the 'collective' rather than the 'individual'. But if this notion of the collective is a carryover from the tribe, then, as applied to a billion-plus population, it loses meaning in the tribal/band sense.

I would imagine that most of us would agree that the dinosaurs fell especial victim to the Earth's perturbation(s) because they were of a particularly large scale.

Drop a beetle and a whale from the height of, say 10 storeys up, and see which one handles the impact.

The cutoff is about 150 people, as beyond that "cheating" can take place, as one is not able to know everyone.

Intentional Communities are experimenting with different forms of governance, often some kind of consensus combined with overt social disapproval. They have the advantage of being small and able to control the initial intake of members, also those not fitting in can easily go elsewhere. Problems arise when e.g. someone brings in a spouse that is liked by some and detested by others. Nowadays many are well documented and some of the lessons they learn might scale up to the size of towns or even cities.

The cutoff is about 150 people, as beyond that "cheating" can take place, as one is not able to know everyone.

--everyone know everyone else's business (sometimes with no detectable method of information transmission over small distances)

--old and trusted highly valued

--innovation--extremely important what status innovator has in the tribe, see line above

--systematized knowledge transmission limited to stories able to be remembered and told and to skills that can be transmitted directly

Spent time in the tribe, so glad to have privacy again.

Spent time in the tribe, so glad to have privacy again. ~ Luke H

Moved to another tribe or hermit? ;P

To the suburban bush--lots more privacy in cities than in villages in my experience by the way.

In what context and at what cost? IOW, at what cost does your privacy in your city (as you define it) context come at?

And can privacy-- whatever you mean by it exactly-- be had in a small-scale village/tribe context?

And/Or can the city be, not just sustainable, but regenerative/resilient/democratic? (Please note link.)

And can privacy-- whatever you mean by it exactly-- be had in a small-scale village/tribe context?

Can't speak for all only the ones (mostly one) with which I have most experience. The answer is a resounding no on that one. The always buzzing/watching network barely seems to sleep. Thoughts are not even private...you must experience that to understand what I mean. The environment around these remote villages is very unforgiving so a constant watch is maintained--sometimes by what seems unexplainable means. It has been necessary for their survival. The near omnipresence and the intensity of that interconnection was something I was never going to get comfortable with. It was something I have never experienced elsewhere.

I tried to watch the video you linked but Youtube seems to be something my DSL provider discourages me from using...I made it about halfway through and had heard enough by then anyway.

Trade has always made the trading societies wealthier than societies that had little or no trade. That goes for hunter gathering as for well pastoral and agricultural peoples. The coastal tribes of Alaska and BC had access to more resources than more interior tribes and traded those resources for products from other regions. The coastal tribes were wealthier for the trade, if you consider the richer culture it engendered, the greater knowledge base it encouraged and broader base bloodlines it allowed wealthier.

It has always been advantageous to find a relatively rare but useful resource which can be traded for more abundant resources. Salt trade is the oldest and best example I can give of this. It took relatively few to mine and transport the salt but it could be traded to much more numerous herding peoples. Both gained by the trade. This goes on and we get to today's cities. Is this arrangement sustainable????

For how long????

All species fall off this planet eventually and those most dependent on very specific local resources are the most susceptible when change hits. And change always hits. I personally don't hang much in the big cities, but they were my 'nursery.' I've been able to live a pretty good life on their far fringe for virtually all of my adult life. In a different time/economy I'd have chosen/been shunted down a different path.


Dunbar's number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. No precise value has been proposed for Dunbar's number. It has been proposed to lie between 100 and 230, with a commonly used value of 150.

"The 'iron law of oligarchy' states that all forms of organization, regardless of how democratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably develop oligarchic tendencies, thus making true democracy practically and theoretically impossible, especially in large groups and complex organizations. The relative structural fluidity in a small-scale democracy succumbs to 'social viscosity' in a large-scale organization. According to the 'iron law', democracy and large-scale organization are incompatible."
~ Wikipedia

"Since the nation-states are today's bullies, we can not rebuild the peace of the tribe unless we build a global community that stands independent of these nations... It is also essential that these connections be 'real', based on meaningful ties of economics and common personal interest, and not just a technique for peace...

Our societies need to decentralize to remove crucial pressure points. We need to replace brittle systems of hierarchical power with resilient systems of 'network semi-dependence.' "
~ Robert Gilman

"Those of us who belong to the permaculture family have cause to be proud, but not complacent. Work has scarely begun, but we have a great team of people which increases in numbers daily. To empower the powerless and create 'a million villages' to replace nation-states is the only safe future for the preservation of the biosphere. Let interdependence and personal responsibility be our aims."
~ Bill Mollison, 'Permaculture: A Designer's Manual, second ed.'

A million Dunbar villages... Might work.


Recent studies by two professors condensed into two recent books looks for the origin of the fossil fuel ideology, and they may have hit a gusher that would also explain some of the wannabe ideology like that of Yergin (e.g. "thinking that got us here will get us out of here").

A small tidbit re: the boom times in Texas story above -"Legislators in Texas will begin deliberating its next two-year budget with a surplus that may near the $8.8 billion record set in 2007." A two year budget? Yes: the Texas legislators go into session only every two years. Why 2 years? Old joke: it limits the amount of harm they can do.

The Texas legislature is in session for 140 days every two years.

Representative and senators are paid $600 per month, plus $150 per day when the legislature is in session. That puts the average pay at $17,700 per year for a two year term. That's under the poverty level for a three-person family, according to the U.S.Census Bureau, so Texas politics does not seem like a rewarding career.

Yet a lot of people put a big effort (and a lot of money) into getting elected. My own local representative, Hubert Vo, is a good example. He has won repeated re-election in competitive elections, and my mailbox can witness the support he gives to the postal service, but he needs some way of making a living. This he does by owning apartments, and renting them out. Some might call him a slumlord.

Of course, there is no conflict of interest in being Vice-Chair of the Economic and Small Business Development Legislative Committee. Which brings up another interesting feature of the Texas Legislature: Vo is in a leadership position in the committee, even though he is a Democrat and the Republicans have a 95-55 majority in the Texas House.

Texas is different.

Curious does Texas have state no income tax, no state sales tax and a check that goes out to each resident every year that can cover a big chunk of the average Joe's property taxes? Just wondering how much the average Texan gets out of the state's oil--oh I bet it isn't the state's oil is it.

Alaska is different that way--each system has its own pluses and minuses. We have been in the midst of a highly contested rewrite of the oil tax structure here. The one being pushed hard by the oil companies was written by the governor's people. Of course the governor spent a couple years as an oil company lobbyist in between the state jobs he was either elected or appointed to. Alaska isn't that different, gerrymandering of the legislature districts got rid of most of the opposition to the rewrite this last election. Should be interesting to see what they ram down our throats.

Luke – “…and a check that goes out to each resident every year.” I think you’re confusing us with Alaska. Either that or someone has been taking my check out of my mailbox. Actually Texans pay a good bit of taxes. I haven’t seen the stat for a while but a few years ago someone calculated Texas was the third heaviest taxed state. Not just property taxes but huge school taxes sometimes twice as big as property taxes. “I bet it isn't the state's oil is it.” Actually the state does directly own a good bit of oil/NG mineral leases especially out in west Texas. Not nearly as much income as some time ago when it funded most of the university system. But even today 1/3 is covered by royalty income, 1/3 from alumni contributions and the rest in student tuition. Granted this goes back to the 70’s but my graduate school tuition at Texas A&M was less than $300/semester.

And the citizens of Texas have also had a nice income from our production taxes on oil/NG. “Texas has the largest share of crude oil reserves in the nation. And the state's oil has provided a reliable source of tax revenue. Since 1930, Texas has collected more than $17 trillion in oil taxes.”

In the first 8 months of 2012 Texas collected $2.6 billion in production taxes. And now consider PA, where the first commercial oil well was drilled in the US, has never collected a penny of production tax. And those folks are still being screwed during the Marcellus boom by their newly elected R gov who ran on a no-new-tax platform. And then they complain about the oil patch tearing up their roads. I saw an estimate that PA would have collected over $350 million in 2011 if they had collected the same tax on NG as Texas does. And La. charges an even higher rate on NG and almost 3X as much on oil production. I can’t tell if those politicians are just that foolish or stupid. I don’t know who the oil lobbyists in PA are but we need to get their butts down to Texas. LOL.

I've never thought to look up how much of Texas is state land, any idea of the percentage. Of course when it comes to oil its all about where that acreage is. Alaska was very fortunate to have a savvy geologist (or maybe a few of them) who made sure that those selecting state lands went after Prudhoe. At least one of the guys responsible is still up here and paying attention.

No doubt Texas could have done much worse. I've family and family history in PA, black lung took down my coal mining great grandfather there. Texas may have been fortunate not to have been building its oil industry on top of a long established and deeply connected coal industry.

Taxation of oil is tricky business. Especially if the state actually owns most of that oil being produced.

Since ACES was enacted in 2007, through to year-end 2011, we have reported almost $10 billion in net Alaska income. While this is an impressive figure, it needs to be placed in proper context. Over the same period, ConocoPhillips paid approximately $16 billion in taxes and royalties to the state of Alaska - 60 percent more than we earned. Counting federal income taxes in that period, we paid approximately $21 billion in taxes and royalties - twice what we earned. from Oct 2012 ADN article

Now I believe in a fair return but I'm curious what percentage net income relative to tax and royalty collected would ConocoPhillips be getting from state owned oil fields in places like Iraq, KSA, Libya and the like? The oil companies DO NOT own the oil they produce in Alaska and that does make a difference to the cut they should expect. Remember the $10 billion is net earnings here, after all operating and depreciation expenses. My above question wasn't rhetorical by the way. Any idea of oil company net take relative to tax/royalty take for state owned on shore fields? I assume there is a range.

I actually do believe the ACES settup currently is overly progressive, prices in the $100/barrel neighborhood weren't expected anytime soon when ACES was drawn up, but it passed in 2007 and we all know what 2008 prices looked like.

But I still like using a net earnings approach. That encourages oil companies to put maximum rather than minimum maintenance and upgrade money into their facilities--a couple legislators I supported saw it that way as well, they were gerrymandered out of office.

The oil companies really want to get the state to settle for a set cut of gross and to dump the progressivity, that makes me near certain that is the worst move for the Alaska. Progressivity is adjustable and all the players where real happy with the idea when oil was quite a bit cheaper. No reason to throw the baby out with the higher priced bath water, just change the rate of progressivity to one all can live with again.

"Of course when it comes to oil its all about where that acreage is. Alaska was very fortunate to have a savvy geologist (or maybe a few of them) who made sure that those selecting state lands went after Prudhoe. At least one of the guys responsible is still up here and paying attention."

The guy most responsible is Tom Marshall, who is indeed still around. Tom was a young geologist from Casper WY, who moved to Alaska and homesteaded in the Mat Valley. Trying to scratch by, he took various state jobs. In 1960 Tom became a Land Selection Officer, selecting formerly federal land for the new state. Using what was known from various USGS studies, the Navy's Pet 4 exploration in the 40's and 50's, and what little industry data he could get, Tom selected lands on the northern coastal plain, between NPRA and ANWR (which were off limits to state selection). It was an inspired guess, and quite controversial at the time. People called it "Marshall's Folly". (Why would Alaska want all that worthless frozen tundra?.) Tom is a very modest guy, but a great story teller once you get him going. Most current day Alaskan's are clueless about what he did.

For anyone seriously interested in those days, I recommend getting a copy of the CD proceedings of the 2008 AGS Tech Conference commemorating the 40th anniversary of the discovery of Prudhoe, from the Alaska Geological Society.

Thanks I couldn't recall Mr. Marshall's name. Is the CD pretty tech heavy or would a duffer like me get quite a bit out of it?

Not too technical at all. Mostly stories and pictures. AGS captured the audio presentations in sync with the slide showes.

Politician wages are a tricky business. Pay too little and you get lots of corruption. Pay too much and the public complains. It seems Texas has opted for the former.

Interestingly the top page one of Dallas Morning News today [1/7/2013] deals with the impact of a slight 'error' on the part of the State in estimating 2011 revenues. Like 3 or 4 Billion USD. Seems that jobs and programs will be cut. I did not purchase the rag, so don't know if the word, "austerity" appears.

And, the economy of Texas is one of the bright and shining stars?

Good luck with that.


zap - If I read correctly Texas has a current $8 billion surplus. How many states govts can say they have any surplus? That shines rather bright, eh? As far as the cuts go those seem to be based more on political positions and not financial. Granted it's just a relative measurement but Texas is leading most of the other states in nearly every economic indicator. But still rather conservative when it comes to helping the less privileged. There's still a lot of the attitude down here: Stand on your own two feet or die on your knees.

Actually I think that is a projected, not an actual, surplus for 2013-2014. The budget for the last session cut eduction and spending, and as I read in the DMN was based on flawed data. Thus, there may be an actual multi-billion dollar shortfall.

And, if the assumptions behind the 2013-14 projection are flawed in the same way, Texas may be in big trouble.

Just saying. I almost wish I had purchased the issue when I saw it, but for $1 a pop, it isn't worth the price to me. Most of the time, at least.


zap - the only miscalculation in any estimate I've seen is that the state has collected as much oil/NG revenue in the first 8 months of 2012 as they had projected for the entire year. Maybe I missed something. I don't pay much attentioon to what goes on in Austin...they live in a paralle universe AFAICT. LOL. But don't take any cuts in education spending and some other areas as being due to a lack of revenue. As I said the state is rather cold blooded when it comes to who gets and who don't. It wouldn't matter if the state had a $zillion surplus some areas will get a lot of support and others won't.

Does Texas keep a constitutionally mandated budget reserve account to which surplus general funds are added?

Alaska tries, but it might have a better chance with it if our legislature met every other year ?-)

Luke - Besides a balanced budget requirement Texas has a "Rainy Day Fund". From


Unusual among the states, Texas’ rainy day fund is generated largely by oil and gas production taxes. Appropriations from the fund to close a budget deficit caused by declining revenues require three-fifths approval by legislators; all other appropriations would require a two-thirds majority vote. In November, “we transferred another $451.5 million into the ESF,” says the Comptroller’s Chief Revenue Estimator John Heleman. That increased the Texas rainy day fund to about $8.2 billion, the highest balance since the fund’s establishment in 1988.

Alaska is in an enviable position among states. It didn’t feel the effects of the U.S. recession nearly as much as most other states and high oil prices have helped to keep its treasury flush. As of July 1, the start of this fiscal year, Alaska had $15.9 billion in undesignated savings, a category that includes the constitutional and statutory budget reserve funds and Permanent Fund earnings reserve account. Total market value of the Permanent Fund currently stands at about $39 billion.
Juneau Empire Jan. 2012

Of course we also have $11 billion unfunded public employee pension liability. And since we don't have state income tax or sales tax the swings in oil revenue change the budget picture much more radically here than they would in Texas. Seems like something in the neighborhood of 80% of our state's revenues are from oil.

Re: Shell Shocked Alaska

Is there something I'm missing here? Why was this rig under tow in the middle of winter during a storm off the coast of Alaska? That seems like a stupid idea from the very start.

Been talking about that on drumbeat for a few days. Geo and I discussed the tax issue a couple beats back. I do believe the Coast Guard investigation will bring forth most of the pertinent facts. At least it is floating and headed for pretty sheltered bay with a mud bottom right now. The Kulluk proved itself to be a tough rig, though I'm hoping some of Shell's hard heads will have to roll on this one.


January 3, 2013:
Kulluk Incident Command had a meeting with the Kodiak Borough Assembly (locals):
.@Shell_Alaska VP Pete Slaiby: The Kulluk did not leave for tax reasons.

Prior to Jan 03, 2013:
Shell hoped to save millions in taxes by moving now-grounded drill rig out of Alaska

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

One mouth, two sides.

If you read my comment to ROCK upthread you will note that oil tax issues are all over the news up here, any chance an oil company spokesman can he'll indicate that taxes on oil companies are shooting AK in the foot. How much a consideration taxes were to the timing of Kulluk's departure will be obfuscated to the extreme at this point.

The tax talk might have been entirely political posturing to try and take advantage of decisions that were made with minimal tax liability considerations (that certainly will be Shell's line at this point). What we end up learning about the decision depends entirely on how much the Coast Guard is able to unearth/is willing to disclose.

But I would guess that quite a few millions have already been spent on the salvage operation so far and the Kulluk is now sitting in a bay with only open sea access. The mouth of that bay is fully exposed to the 'gentle southeast winter breeze' of the Gulf of Alaska (I should note that any low sitting SE of Kodiak generates such a 'southeasterly breeze' and that many a very strong low has been known to sit southeast of Kodiak for several days only to move on when another low is strong enough to shove it out of the way and take its place).

I guarantee any and all who made decisions which put the Kulluk in this siutation will be covering their collective asses for all they are worth.

Doesn't Alaska disperse to its residents a certain amount of the tax revenue from oil companies? Would not therefore the citizens of Alaska, tax averse as they may be personally, be a bit pissed if the oil companies were avoiding taxes (which the citizens would get a share of)?

IOW, the "taxes are hurting us" bit they like to pull in the lower 48 I imagine would not play well in Alaska where a certain amount of the revenue from taxes goes right into the pockets of Alaska residents.

A portion (25%) of Alaska leasing fees, and royalty income etc goes into the Alaska Permanent Fund. Some other oil related money, such as property tax on oil companies does not go into the permanent fund. Each year, every resident recieves a Permanent Fund Dividend. Dividends have ranged from $331.29 in 1984 to $2,069 in 2008. Last year it was $878.

Oil represents the major source of state income, and also the best paying jobs in the state. Oil is without doubt the big dog in the state economy. The line the big oil companies have pushed is that oil production is declining (true), TAPS will soon shut down if production doesn't go back up (not true), and that Alaska's tax structure is preventing investment in oil and keeping production down (not true, IMHO). The oil company propaganda machine has been running full blast, and oil company money has been flooding the political environment.

We tend to be a Republican state, although there has been a fairly strong Democratic party as well. However, recent gerrymandering has taken a serious toll on those legislators who are skeptical of big oil.

"...Why was this rig under tow in the middle of winter during a storm off the coast of Alaska? That seems like a stupid idea from the very start."

Actually, I don't think it is all that surprising that Shell attempted the tow. What I do find surprising is how poorly prepared they seemed to be.

A bit of context. As we have seen, the Gulf of Alaska is a very rough place in the middle of winter. However, ships of all sorts regularly sail through the Gulf, all winter long. Tankers sail out of Valdez regularly, loaded with orders of magnitude more petroleum than the Kulluk carries. Cargo ships of all sorts sail through there, all winter long. A container ships sails into Anchorage, from Tacoma, at least once a week. Big cargo ships (with 3-4 times as much fuel abourd) of all nationalities sail from Asia through the Aleutians and the Gulf of Alaska down to Puget Sound, all winter. Occaisionally they come to grief and spill oil. In a past drumbeat I talked about the Selendang Ayu disaster (6 lives lost and several hundred thousand gallons spilled), and the Golden Seas near miss.

I'm not so surprised that they tried it. As we have seen, the Kulluk is a remarkably robust vessel. I doubt many other ships could have survived being driven ashore, pounded for a week, then yanked off the beach by brute force. However, it is a very difficult thing to tow, and Shell must have known that. They seem to have a whole stable of big tugs available. Why they chose to attempt that tow, in the winter, with only one tug is beyond me. And how did their almost brand new, built for purpose tug completely lose power?

As Luke said, the Coast Guard investigation should be very entertaining.

the Gulf of Alaska is a very rough place in the middle of winter

CAPSIZE IN GULF OF ALASKA (capsize at 4:30)


Alaska - Ok, thanks for the response. I did miss the drumbeats where this was discussed in some detail. Basically, I know that you can't drill in that area during winter, and that rigs are big and unwieldy and expensive. So I figured that with the end of the drilling season any rigs in the region would be towed to either a port or a shipyard or a protected anchorage and stay there throughout the winter. Guess I was wrong, eh?

Kulluk was being towed to a a shipyard in Seattle.

Did you notice the path of the tow Monday morning. It appeard after an hour or two the Aiviq took a heading that indicated they the onboard checks on the Kulluk might have made them think of making a run for Seattle at that time. The near 180° a couple hours later might indicate piddling fifteen foot seas made the salvage master think twice about that plan.

Of course I'm making all this up sitting high and dry hundreds of miles from the ocean and I haven't even looked for any explanation as to why they chose those headings. All I had to go on was that early in the tow the Aiviq destination was listed as Seattle on the live plot popup box, later in the tow the destination listed was Kiliuda Bay. Hardly a smoking gun considering most of the other boats in the armada had other destinations listed. Still I did find the route curious, have you read an detailed accounts on it?

They published the towing plan in advance on this animation...


...and this map...


...and that's pretty much what they did...


...so I don't think there was an aborted "run for Seattle" involved.

According to www.kullukresponse.com Update #36: "Unified Command also released the map of the Kulluk’s final tow route (shown below), which shows the revised path avoiding the cod pots in the Gulf of Alaska."

Cod pots would explain it though you think they might have known about them when they planned the route. Possibly not, fisherman can like to keep quiet about their spots. If I recall the Alex Haley took a more direct route but I went do bed and didn't keep that good an eye on the whole parade. No doubt the Coast Guard could have manuevered though an array of pots much more handily than the towed Kulluk.

I figured wind direction might have influenced the route. Good chance that round oil rig (or anything else for that matter) tows much better with the wind angling at the beam than at either the bow or stern, likely a lot less bounce on the tow line. Years back I was talking to the skipper of a herring seiner (about the size of a smaller ocean tug with a couple fair sized diesels for power) that had just steamed around the Alaska Penninsula. It was blowing so hard at the time he was out that I'd had a heck of time walking along the Bering Sea even while I was ducking behind a low sand ridge. He said it had hit ninety with following seas on the Pacific side and it was about as rough a trip as he'd ever had, but until he got around the corner he had no choice but to deal with the wind and seas from the stern, no place to hide a lot of the way and he'd have missed the openning if he had to wait too long. He had had a heck of a Father's Day.

Regarding: Green deal's upfront fees 'put people off upgrading homes':

Reading the quick guide, ...they must use a Green Deal Provider to arrange the work...[pdf] and jump through a number of hoops to use this path. Most homes have enough simple-to-identify low hanging energy fruit that home occupants can adress themselves if they can get past the fear of the unknown, or whatever it is that's preventing them from taking steps to improve their energy situation. A quick search of "DIY home energy audit" brought up numerous sites with loads of information related to fairly inexpensive ways to cut costs and useage:

DIY Home Energy Audit - The Daily Green

Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits | Department of Energy

Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audit - City of Seattle

Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits: 140 Simple ... ($20)

DIY Home Energy Use Audit & Checklist | MyEnergySolution

Just a sampling. It baffles me that these expensive, top-down solutions to some reasonably simple problems seem to be the norm these days. This ain't rocket science (for the most part), and most of the work is simple as well (a friend of mine has a mentally challenged/retarded son who does some of the nicest caulking work I've seen).

I've helped several people blow additional insulation into their attic. My neighbors' payback on that project was less than 3 months after we added another R-16+ to their poorly insulated (albeit to code) attic. They also got a bit of a tax credit.

I'm sure there are 'good' reasons for requiring "Green Deal" contractors (avoiding fraud (?), creating employment, ensuring work gets done properly, etc.), but there are costs for adding layers of complexity to what are simple problems/solutions.

Then, again, the article seems to make this clear:

In November, it was revealed that not a single household in the UK was on the central register for the green deal, despite assessors being able to go into homes from 1 October.

Maybe not so simple after all. Best hopes folks stop bitching about higher energy costs and "just do it".

The various programs we have had in Canada in recent years to promote energy improvements to residential buildings had the same sort of problem. To be eligible to receive rebate money you had to have an energy audit, including a door blower test, both before and after you did the work. Unless you were doing a substantial amount of work, the cost of the energy audits would eat up a good portion of the rebate you were receiving. Of course the changes we made were all obvious and didn't require an energy audit to point them out to us.

The only good thing about the energy audits was that a good friend of ours who was working as an energy auditor was able to get some work. Now that the programs have ended, he is unemployed. Very few people want energy audits done if there is no rebate program associated with it.

Ghung - Kudos to him - I must be differently challenged, as I always say, 'keep me away from caulk and tape'. Although I frequently work with the former, especially, on my projects, I always seem to get it everywhere, and get tape stuck more to itself than what I want it stuck to. Yet I'm the best trim painter you'll find - can cut in any edge, no masking required. Go figure. Anyway, regarding cheap, simple home energy upgrades: today plumbed in the new solar thermal collector I built from scrap/scavenged mtls. Big piece of glass, found packing crate, recovered HDPE pipe. All I bought were some plastic connectors and crimp rings - maybe 15 bucks total. Easily made 120F water to be dumped into the radiant floor system, accomplished by a 12VDC pump powered by an old car battery charged by a 15w solar panel. And that's with lots of partial shading from deciduous trunks and branches. A month from now it'll be even better as the sun gets above the trees. Simple, cheap, and to my value system, pricelessly elegant.

Clif, you've got to set up some pix for us, eh?

I've just tabbed my heat pump and storage tank as getting 60% cheaper hot water than the oil furnace, but the Copper/Alum solar collecting section of this system is still on the ground waiting for me to have enough free time and good weather to get it all up top!

Very encouraging to hear about other DIYers making working stuff!


Chavez’s Illness may Sink Cuba

Venezuela’s 29 million people are praying for their ailing Commandante Hugo Chavez – half that he will survive his latest bout of cancer, and the other half that he won’t.

... Cuba’s leaders are also watching President Chavez’s health crisis with mounting concern. Venezuela supplies Cuba with an annual $3.5 billion subsidy, including 15,000 bbls of oil daily. Venezuela is also building a large refinery in Cuba that will strengthen its economic independence. In exchange for oil, Cuba has provided Venezuela with 30,000 doctors.

If Chavez loses his fight with cancer -and this could come in days – or if he is incapacitated, a new government in Venezuela may either sharply lessen or, if the rightist opposition wins office, completely end aid to Cuba. This would leave Cuba in desperate straits. Cuba does not have enough hard currency to buy oil on the open market.

Havana’s plight might offer Vladimir Putin off in Moscow a nifty way of needling Washington, which has lately been stepping on Russia’s toes in the Caucasus and Syria. China may also be tempted to quietly rescue Cuba as a tool for future use if the US challenges Beijing over Taiwan or the South China Sea. Imagine the uproar in America if Chinese Navy vessels began patrolling off Miami just as the US 7th Fleet patrols the Taiwan Strait.

S - " Imagine the uproar in America if Chinese Navy vessels began patrolling off Miami just as the US 7th Fleet patrols the Taiwan Strait." Actually I can't imagine anyone even giving much notice except for maybe some rightwing politicians taking the opportunity to grandstand. You could put the entire Chinese fleet off the Texas coast in international waters and I wouldn't lose a wink of sleep. In fact, I'm sure ExxonMobil would be glad to send tankers out of the Houston Ship channel to sell the Chinese ships fuel. LOL. Conventional warfare between our two countries has been off the table for a long time IMHO. And if some Chinese admiral did something stupid (conventionally) I doubt the battle would last very long. Same thing true for the US fleet around Taiwan. China could have come into help Cuba decades ago but they haven't...why would they? I can't think of anything that Cuba has the Chinese would want. In fact given the deals China has made with Vz over the last few years I would think they would be happy to see them cut Cuba off...more oil for the Chinese. From what I see China has a very simple game plan: do what benefits China and ignore everything else.

It does make things a bit 'wobbly' for Cuba though, with Castro being 'not long for this earth'. Despite the adjustments after the 'Special Period', Cuba still needs a patron.

S - I doubt the "one for all...all for one" mind set still exists for communists govts. Just as think it will be out of favor with the non-communist world as resources become increasing difficult to acquire. No way that I should know but I suspect Hugo supported Cuba more out of his dislike for the US than any love for the Cubans.

That might be true. Being seen to be a thorn in the side of the US gives one certain street cred within certain circles. Still he won the election by 12percent, I think if they have to have a new election his party will be the very heavy favorite. I doubt policies will change too much, at least in the first year or two.


S - " Imagine the uproar in America if Chinese Navy vessels began patrolling off Miami just as the US 7th Fleet patrols the Taiwan Strait."

Not to mention the 5th fleet over there.

Or the 4th Fleet gets taken out of mothballs to do some gunboat diplomacy off Brazil after their big oil find a while back.

Rather than gunboats, you should send some deepwater drilling rigs down to Brazil to help out. So far the Brazilians are not doing that well developing their oil find.

Rocky - been a while since I've seen the stat but at that time Petrobras had under long term contract 19 of the 21(23?)rigs capable of drilling in the deepest water depths. And been a while since I saw the press releases (memories get foggy) but a couple of years ago the US govt was going to loan Bz $4-5 billion. Shortly afterwards the Chinese govt loaned Bz something like $230 billion. As is often the case with the US govt in such technical areas: hours behind when seconds count. Or leading the charge from the rear, if you prefer. LOL


They took their modern drilling rigs, even better than the Kulluk, with them.

Chavez’s Illness may Sink Cuba

Not only Cuba. Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and especially Uruguay absolutely depend on the good will of Venezuela.
Uruguay gets oil from Venezuela at a very cheap price, then discounts one third, and they don't pay the other two thirds anyway, that's how good Chávez has been to them.

Remember a couple of years ago, it was said that Uruguay was going to build a LNG teminal? Absolutely nothing has been done.

Although Argentina is not a totally paralytic country like Uruguay "El país del no se puede" / "the country of It can't be done", they also depend on Venezuela and the good will of Chávez to sustain the flow of cheap oil and credit to their country.

It is not likely that the so-called right wing opposition could win the elections in Venezuela, just that the next government could be less accommodating to the other Latinamerican countries, and less driven by ideology.

I don't see why Ecuador would be dependent on Chavez remaining in power.
They are also a crude oil exporter.

Note: I suspect the new trade currency alliance based on the Sucre, will survive Chavez's fate..

Not only Cuba. Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and especially Uruguay absolutely depend on the good will of Venezuela.

Not to be left out:
Jamaica's debt hurricane
The Greece of the Western Hemisphere

The Caribbean nation actually is in worse financial shape than Greece: Jamaica has more debt in relation to the size of its economy than any other country. It pays more in interest than any other country. It has tried to restructure its loans to stretch them out over more years, at lower interest rates, with no success. Such a move would be risky for its already nervous lenders. So Jamaica is trying to wangle a bailout from a skeptical International Monetary Fund. Another deadline for a potential deal just came and went last week, though negotiations continue.

Jamaica is caught in a debt trap. More than half of its government spending goes to service its loans. The country can spend barely 20 percent of its budget for desperately needed health and education programs. Its infrastructure is faltering. It lacks resources to fight crime. It has little margin to recover from natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.

A beneficiary of the Petrocaribe agreement, Jamaica also "absolutely depends on the good will of Venezuela."

Alan from the islands

I also imagine that their main industry is tourism and that tourism industry will not do so well as oil prices rise thus raising airfares.

And worse, if Cuba opens up like I suspect they will in the next 20 years, they'll have quite a competitor.

"The broader solution, however, is as obvious and necessary in Jamaica as it is in Greece and other countries mired in debt: Reform taxes, curb pension costs, cut public payrolls.

In Jamaica, that austerity-based formula has, unfairly, gotten a bad name. Critics of trade liberalization, privatization and deregulation point to Jamaica as Exhibit A of First World policies gone awry. IMF-imposed fixes more than a decade ago — after public debt had ballooned in the 1990s — made conditions worse, the critics say."

Alan/islandboy - I'd like to hear your take on this little block of text above, because it sounds to me like the typical extractive policies of "colonialism" or run-amok capitalism that we've been seeing around the world. What Chris Hedges might refer to as a "Sacrifice Zone" to capitalism. They "deregulated" and "privatized" (buzzwords we're trained to respond in delight to)...no doubt that means that wealthy outsiders swooped in and bought everything of worth at pennies on the dollar, loaded up Jamaica with debt, and now they want Jamaica to cut benefits for their citizens and raise taxes so they can keep the cash cow of debt servicing producing for them. Squeeze as much out of it as they can before it completely collapses.

I'd be interested in seeing you do a key post on Jamaica and its survivability going in the peaking oil world. Infrastructure, natural resources, imports/exports, economics...you've described in other posts that the electricity is mostly oil-based, this article talks about monumental debt, is the economy really tourism based or does it just appear that way? What about food security? If Jamaica went to rolling blackouts what would be the consequences? What percent of the economy would a 50% drop in tourism represent? From the information that has drifted by it sounds like Jamaica is a death trap just waiting to spring - I'd like to know if that's true or if, like Cuba, there's enough local resources to cope. Where's the "low hanging fruit" to mitigate the effects of the onset of peak oil? What does a peak oil transition plan look like for Jamaica?

I see an opportunity for you to use this platform (TOD) to display a reasonably comprehensive audit of Jamaica and its resources (and lack thereof). As a recognized legitimate site, it will give you something to point the government (and local newspapers) to and plant the seed that will start the discussion on what it should do to prepare for post peak.

Substrate, I really do not feel I qualified to produce a key post as you have suggested and even if I were to attempt it, a lot of time would be required and I am not sure I can afford the time.

One major problem to me seems to be poulation control. Young women with babies or very young children seem to be everywhere you look. Very rarely does one see a young man in the picture as well. This was reinforced to me over the last coiple of days when I overheard something on TV about 25% of births occuring for girls between 10 and 19. So following a Google search, this web page reports the following:

Rates of teenage pregnancy in Jamaica are among the highest in the Caribbean, with the birth rate for 15-19 year olds at 108 births per 1,000 women. Forty-five percent of all Jamaican women who are 15 to 24 years old have been pregnant by 19 years of age, and 41% have given birth. Females between the ages of 10 and 19 account for roughly 25% of all births in Jamaica and about 22% of births in 15-19 year-olds are second births.

Think about these statistics! If a single male meets a female between the age of 15 and 24 in Jamaica there's almost a one in two chance that she already has at least one child.

As for the fathers, a relatively high percentage of Jamaican children do not know their fathers and a even higher percentage have not experienced any involvement of their fathers in their upbringing. An even larger percentage (20% according to this web page), get no financial support from their fathers. Yet, men have been known to use parental responsibilities to agitate for higher wages. I will never forget watching the tv news one night and seeing a striking construction worker lament the fact that his wages were not sufficient to provide for his thirteen children. On the other hand, The woman my sister and I employ to look after my 94 year old father, is just about to return from maternity leave, having just had a baby for an unemployed man and has told me that only the oldest of her four other children gets any support from the father. It is difficult for me to get a sense of the true extent of this problem since most of my schoolmates and freinds have come from stable families and have themselves formed stable families.

Now, the net result is a nation with chronically high unemployment especially among the youth while skills shortages exist in some areas. It's not just education that makes the difference as in recent years, university graduates have been complaining about finding jobs despite the fact that they have at least a first degree.

Succesive governments have pandered to the large constituency of poor people with price controls, exchenge rate controls, subsidized education and health care and special state run jobs programs like the most recent Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP). I have never heard a Jamaican politician discuss population control on the capaign trail, instead they are always highlighting their plans for relieving the plight of he poor. Neither have I seen or heard discussed in our male dominated political directorate, any serious moves towards forcing male parents to contribute to the upbringing of their offspring.

Jamaica alo has a very well developed and powerfull trade union movement with both of the dominant political parties having been born out of trade unions. Net result is an industrial relations climate that is very favorable to workers and far less so to employers.

Putting this together has already taken more of my time than I am comfortable with but I hope it gives readers a sense of the serious challenges Jamaica and other similar nations face as we head towards a post peak future. It is quite depressing and makes me wonder if I would not be better off just preparing to migrate once my father dies, instead of trying to turn his six acre homestead into a bug out spot for when TSHTF. Having a rainwater catchment system with six thousand plus gallons of storage, enough to take us through just about any dry spell, might not turn out well if the public water supply fails and all our neighbors end up without water. Same goes for solar PV if the public supply fails or gets too expensive. Since I have never been taught to or had to defend myself against thugs, I'm feeling a bit vulnerable. I fear I'm too old to change into a person who will inflict harm on assailants and the state (law enforcement) will probably not be able to protect me.

Alan from the islands

For what it's worth, Alan, I think the way to protect yourself from strangers is to have a lot of friends, to the extent hopefully, that it never even becomes a question of thuggery.

Saying it isn't the same as accomplishing it, of course.. but one good example (which I've shared here from time to time) is of a family friend up in the Maine Woods, whose solar water heating gear was up and running again a few hours after a very tough ice-storm, (1998) when the neighbors all went dark, and he was able to have them over to get hot showers. Doing so, he provided them, during a 'short emergency' with a good example of the strengths of this sort of preparation, and also of the social benefits of sharing what you've got (with reasonable limits)..

There's always the fear that giving them an inch will let them take a mile.. but we all get to think through just how much of that is 'just fear', and letting it dwell and grow will create more problems than anything else.

Anyways, building solid allies and a sense of mutual neighborly support is as invaluable a 'stored good' as a big tank of water.. filler up! (And also it gets filled by letting THEM offer their generousity to you.. seeing the exchanges as open and balanced trades, NOT as charity. I don't think Machiavelli was really up on the possibilities of such a system, but I've seen it at work!

Yikes! Are you sure you don't live in Mississippi?


Ok, the US's worst state of Mississippi is only 55 per 1,000 compared to Jamaica's 108 per 1,000.

Population density...Jamaica @ 656/sq.mi. versus US @ 88/sq.mi (I bet that's accounting for Alaska which would skew things a goodly bit - at least double that for lower 48)

From wiki

"Jamaica imports approximately 80,000 barrels (13,000 m3) of oil energy products per day,[99] including asphalt and lubrication products. Just 20% of imported fuels are used for road transportation, the rest being used by the bauxite industry, electricity generation, and aviation."

Looks like Jamaica also has a nuke "Slowpoke-2" a 20kW plant and notes that electricity is otherwise generated by bunker fuel burning plants. Oil is such a terrible way to generate electricity, but it surely looks like the first thing needed is a non-profit condom manufacturer on the island and free dispersal of them.

"Jamaica alo has a very well developed and powerfull trade union movement with both of the dominant political parties having been born out of trade unions. Net result is an industrial relations climate that is very favorable to workers and far less so to employers."

Certainly nothing wrong with that...that should lay a good framework for worker-owned co-ops, but I'd guess that there's not a lot of start-up capital laying around, nor does it look like the educational system set up to produce a lot of educated entrepreneurs. I saw a number of references to "private" education - which means "for people already rich."

The high density, low education, high imports, high reliance on tourism just don't add up well. If they can't figure things out in the "good" times, it certainly doesn't bode well for when things turn sour.

Alaska skews it but not by that much. According to Wiki:

Contiguous 48 states and D.C. occupy a combined area of 3,119,884.69 square miles... The 2010 census population was 306,675,006, composing 99.33% of the nation's population, and a density of 103.639 inhabitants/sq mi (40.015/km²), compared to 87.264/sq mi (33.692/km²) for the nation as a whole.[4]

Alan - I saw this documentary some years ago now, so only recall the gist of it (might watch again prompted by this discussion) which is that the corporatocracy, largely in the form of agro-business in this instance, essentially marginalizes local farmers/workers and turns them into dependents - essentially the classic colonial model, as Substrate says. Curious if you've seen it what your take is on it...?


I had to watch the documentary myself, never having seen it myself. There is a great deal of substance to what was presented but, I prefer to look back further, to the end of the sixties and the peaking of US oil production.

It is said that Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew, on a visit to Jamaica in the sixties, was intrigued by the national development programme. This program had focused on import substitution and had been fairly succesful in establishing industrial estates where manufacturing industries had been established. Although I have been unable to find any record of this visit, the source of this idea claimed that Singapore's development plan had elements of the Jamaican program.

According to this wikipedia page under the heading "Independence":

Strong economic growth, averaging approximately 6% per annum, marked the first ten years of independence under conservative governments which were led successively by Prime Ministers Alexander Bustamante, Donald Sangster and Hugh Shearer. The growth was fuelled by strong investments in bauxite/alumina, tourism, manufacturing industry and, to a lesser extent, the agricultural sector.

The optimism of the first decade was accompanied by a growing sense of inequality, and a sense that the benefits of growth were not being experienced by the urban poor. This, combined with the effects of a slowdown in the global economy in 1970, prompted the electorate to change government, electing the PNP (People's National Party) in 1972.

Members and supporters of the Jamaica Labour Party which formed the adminisrtation during the sixties are fond of pillorying Michael Manley and his PNP administration that followed them. having become Peak Oil aware, I have been at pains to point out in my comments to newspaper stories containing such criticism that, the period that they are so proud of boasting about happens to coincide with the end of a period of very strong growth in world oil production the end of which resulted in a slowdown of the global economy as stated in the quote above.

Although I was only nine years old in 1970, I have developed a perspective of the economic climate of the period. As the quote above states, the period of high growth during the sixties, followed by a global downturn in 1970, coupled with a somewhat uneven distribution of the benefits fomented a disenchantment with the ruling party. Michael Manley siezed that sentiment to win the election with the promise of more equitable distribution of wealth. In retrospect, he was counting on the growth of the sixties to resume, in essence producing the wealth he intended to redistribute. What he did not count on was the peaking of US oil production followed by the oil shocks of the seventies. The problem is that, Jamaican politicians from 1970 up to now, have failed to acknowledge and accept the sea change in global economic circumstances that accompanied the peak in US oil production.

All of the administrations since Manley's first term have assumed that that the downturn was temporary and that at some point economic growth would come roaring back. This faith in a return to growth prompted them to see the short term solution as taking on debt until the situation returned to normal, normal being the growth rates of the roaring sixties. In the current Prime Ministers New Years address to the nation she betrayed a continuation of this wishfull thinking. IMHO Jamaica is essentially the canary in the coal mine as it relates to Peak Oil and Peak Oil like effects started influencing Jamaica's economy starting with the oil prices shocks of the early seventies.

Had succesive administrations and in particular Michael Manley's first administration, not beelieved in a return to BAU, accepted that the world had changed, cheap energy would never return and that fundamental changes needed to be made, maybe things would have been different. Maybe they would have placed more emphasis on population control and strived to keep the population in line with actual economic growth rates. They might not have got themselves into the position of being the employer of last resort and avoided the perception of a large section of the population that government is there with a checkbook to provide for people what in most countries people have to provide for themself. As I wrote in a post further up, IMHO too many people irresponsibly procreate and expect to avoid the true costs of rearing children.

What's to happen now? If I knew, I'd probably be running for political office!

Alan from the islands

Thanks for taking the time to watch it and comment. "Jamaican politicians from 1970 up to now, have failed to acknowledge and accept the sea change in global economic circumstances that accompanied the peak in US oil production." I'd say you could strike Jamaican from that sentence and still be largely correct, no matter what nation is referenced, most glaringly, of course, the US itself... Seems you and I are the same age. Thanks again for your insights.

Powering Down To Save Energy Need Not Be a Turn-Off

... After manufacturers developed “instant-on” televisions in the late 1960s, the trend toward standby defaults in consumer electronics spread, and soon “inactive” machines were drawing 10% of total residential electricity consumption. Even as the number of such devices mushroomed, though, new low-power technologies reduced the share of the electricity used in standby modes.

But the recent development of “smart” appliances and other devices that connect to the Internet has created a new challenge.

As homes are becoming increasingly digital, with more than 2 billion of global citizens hooked into the Internet, energy consumption is increasing. Now come smart appliances that hook into the Internet or are otherwise linked to a network, with as many as 100 billion expected in homes worldwide by 2020. Because they are part of a network, they need to stay “live” to receive and transmit data and so cannot be easily powered down to save energy.

... Consumption related to information communication technology (ICT) is already more than 5 percent of total final global electricity consumption – 10 percent in the European Union. Total ICT consumption could double by 2022 and be three times the 2010 rate by 2030, when the number of network-connected products tops 100 billion and system bandwidths and the volume of data expand rapidly.

... Because customers expect immediate responses at each click of a mouse, technology companies maintain that they cannot regularly shift inactive servers at their data centres to low-power standby mode, which means that as much as 90% of the electricity drawn by data centres powers inactive devices.

Even as the number of such devices mushroomed, though, new low-power technologies reduced the share of the electricity used in standby modes.

Chalk up another win for Jevons. If the devices didn't draw such low power, we couldn't afford to leave them always on. So, paradoxically, better efficiency results in more electricity needed to power a vastly greater number of devices.

It is likely that these new high priced smart appliances will be purchased in any quantity. What does pay off, is the power reduction efforts for new battery powered devices across the board. (at least in my household.)

What we really need is some administrative action on some of the worst offenders.
Cable and Sat cos whose reception devices waste far too much energy.

Add Plasma TV's to the ban list and we could probably power a large fleet of EV's with the energy savings.

I have to suspect that energy prices will step in somewhere in this developing disaster to also function as such a 'legislative tool' to convince both providers and consumers of the need to trim lots of once-unnoticed fat from the game. But of course, the repercussions will already have been (have likely already been) baked into the cake before that happens..

What is that noise? Is it the sound of the invisible hand applauding, or smacking us upside the head?

Hi Tim,

We don't watch a lot of television, mostly local and national newscasts, so I cancelled our satellite subscription this past December. Anything that would be of interest is currently available through the CBC and PBS websites or via youtube. That eliminates the need for a satellite receiver that draws 34-watts when on (33-watts when turned off) and a television set that can pull upwards of 150 to 200-watts. We now watch everything on my BlackBerry Playbook which consumes between 2 and 3-watts depending upon screen brightness and sound volume.

The following screen capture is from the CBC's Murdoch Mysteries episode entitled "Who Killed the Electric Carriage?" (http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/Murdoch+Mysteries/ID/2288587026/): http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Img_2061.jpg

In the age of sixty and seventy inch flat screens a seven inch tablet sounds positively dinky, but I can grab it from its cradle and take it into the next room and curl up with it on my lap if I so choose. I don't miss our big screen TV at all.


Just thinking out loud.

If massive power stations, national power grid, oil-coal-gas networks, etc. Were built to bring the benefits of an increasing energy supply to ever more people whilst making a profit on the way. Then what happens when the reverse happens and a decreasing energy supply (nominal or per capita) means those benefits have to be removed from increasing numbers of people?

Presumably available energy will be ring-fenced by price, which will also govern how the infrastructure develops and which expensive legacy systems are abandoned. As a result the energy infrastructure will become more focused and selective to whom it delivers power to. Under such a scenario those that conserve energy, namely not buying as much, may lose their access to it as they become economically unviable to supply. Just a thought.

Well if the so-called 1% feed off the rest-- most of the ("99%") labor, land and resources--, in the land of increasing scarcity, the 1% BAU/Matrix/Plato's Cave may become increasingly economically non-viable/redundant.

IOW, perhaps (non-)egalitarianism is (surplus) energy-dependent. Like debt, like future promises of growth.

IOW again, perhaps the slaves are only happy being/brainwashed into being slaves only where/when there is some kind of rudimentary comfort and/or propagandic light at the end of the tunnel to be brainwashed with. Take away fundamental hope/comfort and what do you get?
(Riots? Civil unrest? Civil war? Cedes?)

IOW3, what happens (with the prisoners) when the cave-wall's shadows dim/fade; when the Matrix has increasing power brownouts?

How much energy does the art of illusion take?

BTW, you have a response.

Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us... You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.
~ The Matrix

Thanks for the response TP. The trouble is there are no front row seats, we're all part of the performance. I view nature, technology and human society as threats if they are allowed to control my life, but resources if I have control over their interface with my life. I don't want to be owned by any of them if that makes sense. But, I have no choice but to interface with all three to some degree and that's where the challenge lies.

I don't want a high-tech future, but a low-tech future isn't possible in a 2 to 4 degree world. There is no reverse gear, we cannot go back to what was because it will no longer work in a radically altered world. The 1% and the nation states are going to suck the blood out of our society using society's own structures against us. We have to disconnect from those structures, but we cannot go into the future alone, we need a society to survive.

As I see it things are accelerating, there is no grand plan, we have to make our own plan and implement it unilaterally. The temporary fixes holding the financial system together will fail, the climate will change rapidly and energy will become increasingly unaffordable or unavailable. If anyone has a good plan that doesn't involve Governments actually doing something, whole populations changing their habits over night or other "deus ex machina" saving the day, then I like to hear about it.

B - Not trying to be combative or critical here, but just offering my perspective... I think it's a problem to view everything as either a threat or a resource. I think that's just what the dominant culture imbues us with in service to itself. A clear example is of course terrorism. If everyone who is different can be viewed as potential terrorists, then it is easy to control the masses with fear. The same is true of the way CC is now being treated, in-so-far as it's even being acknowledged by those in power. We must fear the next Superstorm, so we must build bigger sea walls and support geo-engineering. Anyway, my real point is that I think we must consider nature in particular not as a threat or resource, but as a ... well, this culture doesn't even really allow us to have the right words - a partner is the best I can come up with ATM. We need see ourselves as but another thread in the fabric of life on this planet, and live accordingly, using only what is necessary, not taking all we can. Of course we are a long way from that, and the dominant culture will have us taking all we can lay our hands on until those reins are pried from our cold, dead hands... or something like that. Perhaps Tribe of Pangea will chime in on this...

As time passes I become more convinced that there will not be, cannot be, any planned or controlled response. I do not think we are capable, in aggregate, of responding coherently to the cumulative effects of the things we have done. We will collapse, which is to say we will reduce our complexity and our burden to whatever the planet can support, and we will do so without planning or direction or control.

That's not to say that useful things won't happen on personal, local and even some on national levels, but those things won't be anywhere near enough to prevent collapse. I believe we will have a low(er) tech future, not because we chose it but because that is what we'll be left with.

I don't think it matters if some understand what is coming or not - I have no doubt there were bright people in most other large and complex cultures that collapsed before us that anticipated what was coming and had some understanding of why. I think that what we have built on the way up is simply incapable of dealing with the changing circumstances. It cannot adapt that far, it must fail before something more appropriate can grow in its place. Those that see what is happening can most usefully try to guess what that next thing might be like, and prepare the way as best as possible, knowing all the while that they will never learn the outcome. And of course, live and love as best one can in the time one has been allotted, compromises and all.

Just my opinion, but there is always a conflict looming in the Balkans. It is part of the definition of "Balkan." The article does not really seem 'newsworthy' in some ways - such as, it is not news, and the consequences to folks other than those living there would probably be minimal.

At least the differences feeding this disruption are more understandable than what took place just prior to WWI - a travesty that no one can really explain other than to say that people are nuts.

Still, it is disappointing that all the expense in human life and all of the tragedy of the last internecine war may go the way of similar hopes in Palestine, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the like.

Add the element of religion to differences between otherwise nutty people, and the consequences are seldom good.


I highly doubt it. Croatia is entering the EU in July and any armed conflict in Bosnia would quickly pull in Croatia. The powers in EU will not allow this. Although the situation might change if Russia got involved for some reason.

Energy crisis compounds Pakistan's woes

Aside from security issues, Pakistan also has to worry about widespread poverty.

The UN says more than half its population barely have enough to eat, and an energy shortage is making things worse.

Double-digit inflation in recent years has pushed the price of basic staples beyond the reach of many families.

Showdown at San Onofre

... Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric have unofficially thrown in the towel on Unit 3. But they’re lobbying hard to get at least Unit 2 back up and running. Their technical problems are so serious that they’ve asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to let them run Unit 2 at 70% capacity. In essence, they want to “see what happens” without daring to take the reactor to full power.

The NRC has expressed serious doubts. On December 26 it demanded answers to more than 30 questions about the plant’s technical realities. There have been assertions that unless San Onofre can be shown as operable at full power, its license should be negated.

San Onofre’s owners are desperate to get at least Unit 2 back on line so they can gouge the ratepayers for their failed expenditures. If the California Public Utilities Commission refuses the request, there’s no way San Onofre can reopen.

and another "see what happens" ...

Experts okay restart of worrisome Belgian nuclear plants

Scientific experts have greenlighted the restart of two Belgian nuclear power plants despite signs of micro-cracks in reactor vessels, the daily Le Soir said Saturday.

A French nuclear exit?

France has been held up, worldwide, as the forerunner in using nuclear fission to produce electricity. However, a third of the nation's nuclear reactors will need replacing in the next decade, and public opinion has shifted toward reducing reliance on nuclear power. In a special issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE four articles explore whether France has the means or desire to unplug from nuclear power.

I can't see this happening. They've gone too far down the road already. Their political system accepts it, they've got lots of trained workers for it, they've been doing it pretty successfully for decades (although there are mishaps), and they have very little in terms of cheap alternatives unless they reverse course and start fracking up Paris (unlikely). And their nukes provide a way of profiting by selling stable baseload power to Germany who will get rid of their own nukes and conveniently forget that they are using French nuclear power as needed.

France has the very basic problem that their last reactor generation is too expensive, at the moment they (France and Finland) pay for one kW more than 5000 EUR with let's be optimistic 8000 FLH. OTOH you can buy very good on-shore wind turbines for 1500 kWh which provide at good sites 3000 FLH, therfore, wind is in France with many good sites (long coast line, simply check yields in Spain) is less expensive and in combination with existing pump storage in France and Switzerland there is no reason why wind could not replace half of the nukes without any problem. BTW UK is not longer interested in the French reactors and IIRC Italy opted out a few weeks ago too.

Re Baseload Problem in Germany: In 2012, Germany has an all-time high export of electricity and at the same time reduced the NG production of electricity by 14% in addition to reduced nuclear output, i.e. baseload or intermediate-load power plants are/must be available in excess. Germany imports more from France, correct, but exports much more to other countries.

Check pages 39-43 of the Fraunhofer presentation: http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/de/downloads/pdf-files/aktuelles/stromprodu...

We see already that new CC NG powerplant (intermediate/base load) projects are in trouble as nobody is willing to guarantee only 3000 FLH (!), which are in Germany the absolute minimum for CC NG plants. Sorry, Germany has many problems, baseload capacity is not one of them.

in terms of cheap alternatives

When one includes the cost of cleanup in the cost of the power generated - how "cheap" is that source?

Feel free to use Fukushima as a costing example.

Are oil wells typically drawing from oil that is under pressure? Or, are they pumping it out? Old pictures showed oil gushing out of wells. When the wells is Kuwait were set ablaze after the war by Saddam, the oil must have been under pressure.

Just something I am curious about. Does anyone know?

K - The simple answer is that both conditions exist. Just depends upon the field and it's age. There are pressure depletion drive reservoirs that stop producing when the pressure drops low enough. In water drive reservoirs the pressure can stay fairly constant throughout the life of the field. But as those reservoirs deplete the amount of water produced increase as the oil volume decreases. To keep those wells commercial some sort of lift system (pumping or gas lift) is used to keep the total fluid rate up.

The Kuwait wells: if the wells were high on the structure and had tall oil columns they could have flowed at a high rate without pumping. The higher the oil column the higher the pressure at the top of the reservoir even in a pure water drive. It's a bouyancy factor that would drive the oil out.

From the article at top:

'As Biofuel Demand Grows, So Do Guatemala’s Hunger Pangs'

GUATEMALA CITY — In the tiny tortillerias of this city, people complain ceaselessly about the high price of corn. Just three years ago, one quetzal — about 15 cents — bought eight tortillas; today it buys only four. And eggs have tripled in price because chickens eat corn feed.

Meanwhile, in rural areas, subsistence farmers struggle to find a place to sow their seeds. On a recent morning, José Antonio Alvarado was harvesting his corn crop on the narrow median of Highway 2 as trucks zoomed by.

“We’re farming here because there is no other land, and I have to feed my family,” said Mr. Alvarado, pointing to his sons Alejandro and José, who are 4 and 6 but appear to be much younger, a sign of chronic malnutrition.

I'm wondering if there is a break point, a max. percentage of corn available that will be set to be used for making ethanol, to balance out the need for people to eat? A 40% ethanol usage max./60% food, or 30/70, or if money will be the only factor determining the final percentages and it simply balances out on it's own via economic factors, to something like 90/10, with people driving huge SUV's by farmers like Mr. Alvarado planting by the side of the highway.

What if it reaches the point where every square foot of available space at the side of the highways is cultivated and one of those SUV owners has a flat tire and has to run over someone's crops at the side of the road. Do the roadside farmers riot to destroy the truck for damaging their crops and knowing it will reduce ethanol demand by that one vehicle? Maybe the farmers band together to block the road at random time intervals for the sole purpose of destroying the source of their hunger. In any case, it seems like a situation wrought with potential conflict.

IMO The problem in Guatemala is a hugely unfair distribution of land. Biofuels are just a new way of sticking it to the same old victims. If you go into the highlands you can find a huge population working tiny, steeply inclined patches by hand (they thump a stick into the ground to make a hole, put in a corn seed, take a step). The guys who break out and farm the edge of the highway probably have it much better, as long as there is no retribution, but violence is not uncommon. It would be interesting to see what lead or other toxin concentrations are present in his crops.

I would be very surprised to hear of a mob of farmers attacking a SUV, not surprised whatsoever to hear that a pick-up or some other privately owned fortress/vehicle ran over some guy or his child by the wayside with no legal action or compensation taken.

Lighting the Future: Accelerating the Deployment of Innovative Lighting Technologies

The EU has committed to cutting its GHG emissions by at least 20 % by 2020 and to improving energy efficiency also by 20 %. As part of this effort, the European Commission launched its Green Paper on 'Lighting the Future - Accelerating the deployment of innovative lighting technologies'. This in turn is raising awareness of the benefits of light-emitting diode (LED).

This Green Paper is part of the Digital Agenda under the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It sets out the key issues to be addressed in a European strategy aimed at accelerating the deployment of high-quality solid state lighting (SSL) for general lighting. Its main objective is to help Europe achieve its key energy efficiency, industrial and innovation policy objectives.

Lighting accounts for 14 % of electricity consumption in the EU.

SSL has proven to be the most innovative technology emerging in the market, saving up to 70 % energy and reducing costs compared to other lighting technologies.

Maybe that SSL is soon going to get a lot more efficient?
Scientists Mimic Fireflies to Make Brighter LEDs: New Bio-Inspired Coating That Increases LED Efficiency by 55 Percent

GaN LED, coated with a “factory-roof” pattern modeled off the fireflies’ scales. The bio-inspired LED coating increased light extraction by more than 50 percent.

"The most important aspect of this work is that it shows how much we can learn by carefully observing nature," says Annick Bay, a Ph.D. student at the University of Namur in Belgium who studies natural photonic structures, including beetle scales and butterfly wings.

Yeah, all the more reason to protect and preserve as much of the natural world as possible!

enemy of state, fireflies are so much fun for young kids to play with at night. Neat that they are helping us make our man-made lights more efficient.

Story: Tea-time Britain
Duration: 4:51

Power surges called the TV pickup are unique to Britain. The engineers at the National Grid control centre brace themselves each time Eastenders ends and 1.75 million kettles get switched on.


Wonderfull. Just wonderfull. Thanks for the link.

there's a similar phenomenon in finland. people have commonly electric saunas in apartments. they look something like this:


the thing in lower left, called kiuas, heats the stones with electricity. the typical power needed is 6kW (a rule of thumb is that you need 1kW / cubic meter). now it is estimated that there are about a million electric kiuas in finland in apartements only, hence not counting swimming halls, hotels etc. there are about 5 million people in finland, so i guess you'll agree that enjoying the sauna is pretty widespread. traditionally the sauna time has been saturday evening so the consumption of energy has quite a high (and steep) peak around 6 or 7 pm on saturday.

it is estimated that electricity consumption for sauna is around 1000GWh/year. in one publication one studied the electricity consumption and tried to figure out how and how much one could reduce the consumption.


(it's pdf and in finnish, see page 87)

of course in principle you could be without sauna like the rest of the world. however, the authors of the study estimated that potential for reducing the consumption of electricity in sauna is exactly zero...

incidentally the "real" sauna (heated with wood) looks something like this


i think there are about a million (or more) of them also.

The electric ones are common in Sweden to. We build them, use them 2 or 3 times, then use them to store our outdoor furniture over the winter.

The following is a small part of a long email I just received from "Energy & Capital". They are a company that sells investment advice so obviously this came with other advice on why I should purchase their advice. Anyway:

The OPEC Struggle

For OPEC, the New Year means new production struggles and keeping up with both domestic and international demand, a move that's proving more difficult each year.

While production is still rising at a gradual rate for many of these nations, consumption is growing exponentially. In Libya, consumption grew 12% between 2010 and 2011, and Saudi Arabian consumption grew 26% the same year; Iraqi consumption grew 23%; Venezuelan consumption jumped 36%.

These are all signs of increased use of fuel within the population — and of a growing population.

As these nations begin to develop and growing technology demands growing fuel, their capability for exports will decrease, not to mention the fact that their oil reserves aren't infinite.

I knew consumption in these OPEC countries was increasing, and pretty fast, but this seems like a lot for just one year. Could that be a slight exaggeration?

The content of their email is not available on the web, or at least I could not find it. But here is their web page where you can sign up for their free newsletter: Energy & Capital I signed get it because I am interested in their point of view on energy. Their opinions usually are pretty close to mine. But I don't need their investment advice since I don't invest anymore.

Ron P.

They are using EIA data for consumption, and their numbers appear to be accurate, based on said EIA data. However, the BP data base shows much smaller increases, although in the case of Saudi Arabia, the 2011 consumption number is about the same. Basically, this is an example of the ongoing problem with data quality.

To requote your quote

While production is still rising at a gradual rate for many of these nations, consumption is growing exponentially. In Libya, consumption grew 12% between 2010 and 2011, and Saudi Arabian consumption grew 26% the same year; Iraqi consumption grew 23%; Venezuelan consumption jumped 36%.
These are all signs of increased use of fuel within the population — and of a growing population.

Those are not necessarily signs of a growing population or increased use within the population. They could equally be signs that it is taking them more oil to produce their oil.
If such oil is double counted as it is in the USA, it may well be that there is *less* fuel available, even if the population is shrinking.

The population in KSA isn't climbing like it was but there still are a couple/few hundred thousand more people to air condition there every year. There is hope for the kingdom. Solar has barely been tapped and all in power know they have to maintain a high export level to stay in power. We will see how it plays there in this next 5-10 years. No doubt KSA oil production is more oil intensive than it used to be, but I don't believe it is the big driver in oil consumption growth.

Major Cuts To Surging CO2 Emissions Are Needed Now, Not Down The Road, Study Finds

Halting climate change will require "a fundamental and disruptive overhaul of the global energy system" to eradicate harmful carbon dioxide emissions, not just stabilize them, according to new findings by UC Irvine and other scientists.

In a Jan. 9 paper in Environmental Research Letters, UC Irvine Earth system scientist Steve Davis and others take a fresh look at the popular "wedge" approach to tackling climate change outlined in a 2004 study by Princeton scientists Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow. They had argued that the rise of dangerous CO2 could be stopped – using existing technologies – by dividing the task into seven huge but manageable "slices."

"We have enormous respect for that earlier work," he said. "But almost a decade after 'wedges' made a solution to climate change seem doable, we now know that holding emissions steady, difficult as it would be, is literally a half-measure – and one that we have yet to take. Our emissions are not being held constant or even slowing; they're growing faster than ever."

... Davis and fellow authors of the new paper calculated that as many as 31 wedges could be required to stabilize Earth's climate at safe CO2 levels and that sharp reductions in total emissions would have to begin much sooner than half a century from now.

"We need new ways to generate the vast quantities of power that we now use worldwide," he said. "Current technologies and systems cannot provide this much carbon-free power quickly enough or affordably enough. We urgently need policies and programs that support the research, development, demonstration and commercialization of new energy."

... We're Not Going To Make It! ... Isn't Enough Runway! - Jedediah the Pilot

"We need new ways to generate the vast quantities of power that we now use worldwide,"

Or, 'we' need to use less than we now use worldwide.

"We're overloaded!" - Jedediah the Pilot

Looks like we need to pick up the pace ...

West Greenland Warming Hits 10°C

"Some locations along the west coast of Greenland have warmed really strongly by about 2–4°C in summer and as much as 10°C locally in winter – in their average surface air temperatures since 1991," Edward Hanna of the University of Sheffield, UK, told environmentalresearchweb. "In general, warming has been much stronger in west Greenland than in the east. Similar warming trends are seen on the western flank of the ice sheet – at 1200 metres above sea level – as on the west coast, which indicates a significant impact of this strong warming on enhancing ice-sheet melt and mass loss."

Current [Jan 9, 2013] surface temperature is 20°C higher than normal in the Arctic - NOAA Chart Image http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/map/images/fnl/sfctmpmer_01a.fnl.gif

As one commenter noted ... As long as the near surface temperature is so high, the sea ice is not going to freeze hard to carry mechanical strength into the summer. And, sea ice is being worked and fractured.

Sea ice melt will happen earlier this spring and be flushed out the Fram Strait quicker than last year.

The Artic sea ice is currenntly heavily fractured - unheard of in January. Note polnyas http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/

Ice speed and drift http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticicespddrfnowcast.gif

Cripes! That doesn't bode well for 2013, it'll probably be like 2012 on steroids. More Floods, drought, heat waves, widely variable weather patterns and extremes. Agricultural output will be hit hard.

Seems things are happening at a considerably accelerated speed as various feedbacks kick in. Looks like the climate is going to change much faster than we anticipated and outpace anything we may do to even mitigate it, let alone slow it down.

When I see stories like the above a little voice at the back of my mind says "it's too late, prepare for impact". Whatever we now do, it has to be done with the chaos of climate change whirling around us, impeding our progress and wrecking our plans. We're going to need a lot more energy to simply deal with the effects and more money than you can shake a stick at.

We're going to need a lot more energy to simply deal with the effects and more money than you can shake a stick at.

That's the general thinking. I'm pretty sure we will not achieve any degree of mitigation with the assumption that we can bhuild our way out. Like manufacturing, buying and selling electric vehicles.

Says it all though when someone buys an EV for their second car and declares they are helping the planet. Until we are honest with ourselves we can't expect legislation to protect us from ourselves.

The only building we should be doing are fences around fossil fuel deposits. Power down to power off and endure the consequences. The survivors may have gotten the message. Initially as the air clears, there may be hell on earth but it's probably the only way. Otherwise we take 99% of bio-diversity with us.

We can do it that way, or party like there is no tomorrow or take half measures, which leads to a long suffering but we end up like we partied like there was no tomorrow. The time for pussy-footing around passed sixty years ago, prior to the last population doubling.

"a fundamental and disruptive overhaul of the global energy system"


War is good for the nobles.
War makes incredible money quickly and reliably.
War liberates resources for the noble's princes.

Conservation cuts the flow of wealth.

New energy takes thinking, change, effort and investment while moving somebody's cheese.

Even the masses don't want to have to think, change, make an effort, or invest. They want to gather the dung and burn it like they always have. Only something better, as in cheaper, in total, for the equivalent result, will change habits that can otherwise continue.

For the masses, the result of real investment and change to supply an equivalent result would be more individuals, just like more individuals are the result of what there is now. Any other result is not equivalent and results in morbidity.

Massive transition to new energy would benefit the masses and their offspring.
War, business as usual, or austerity would benefit the nobles and their offspring.
Who is in control?

See ya on Fox!
"Fair and Balanced"

"the wind gang"

For a longer time period perspective, HERE's a Time Lapse of Sea-ice motion...

E. Swanson

I have been thinking for years that once the ice cover reach a certain low, it will not be large enough to accumulate enough cold and build enough ice mass to survive summer, thus the next year get even weaker ice, and then it rolls on like that. It now appear 2011 melt season brought us finally down under the tipping point, leading to a record record breaking melt season in 2012, leaving a thin layer of ice to build on top of a warm body of water. If next summer is just normal (the 10 year mean) this melt season looks like it will break up even more ice, setting the next record low in september. If so, we are now in terminal decline, and you can expect a new record low to be set in every september till there are no more ice to melt. Last years melt season killed the arctic sea ice. I wonder what that will do to the Greenland Ice Sheat?

The rate of melting of the Arctic ice in 2012 was accelerated by a cyclone. If you mix the drink on rocks, then the ice melts faster. The rate of melting depends on the weather which is not so predictable. After the Arctic become ice free in the summer for the first time, there will likely be other summers when it does not completely melt. It will be thin ice.

Some researchers have said that if the ice had had the thickness of pre-2007 levels, then the summer cyclone would hardly have affected it.

The fact is that storms are becoming much more frequent in the Arctic -- exponentially so.

See this graphic: http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/281205main_ICE_DRIFT_lg.jpg

Right now, the ice has disappeared off the north coast of Alaska, and is breaking up all the way to the Canadian archipelago (this image updates every hour or so):


This sort of breakup did not occur until mid-March in 2012.

And currently the ice is very thin:


If some refreezing doesn't occur during the next two months (and I still think it will, but heck, things are going downhill awful fast up there these days), then the ice is in real danger this summer.

Interestingly, you can see the "scars" in the ice from the August 2012 cyclone here:


And while ice "extent" may "recover," it is doubtful that the ice volume will, since it has not for the past 5 years, according to PIOMAS figures:



When I look at that PIOMAS graphic, what I see is not the constant trend line that they assign, but a flatter one from 1980 to about 2000, then a steeper one since then. In other words, the decline is accelerating, as if the trend as they assign it weren't catastrophic enough. Arctic sea ice is wrecked. We have destroyed one of the planet's elemental climate balancing mechanisms.

None of this proves that the minimum annual Arctic sea ice area will be lesser than the previous year until it reaches zero. I am warning Jedi to be cautious in that declaration because the historical minimums fluctuate. There is no need to give denialists ammunition.

Look at the minimums reported at Cryosphere Today:

I hear what you're saying, but I think Jedi's point was that there may be a tipping point out there, and we may be passing it, in which case, the future will not be like the past.

Also, Jedi's is referencing sea ice volume from the PIOMAS graph. Cryospere Today reports sea ice area, and important distinction.

I know that denialists can turn most thing you write into denialistic crap, but I fail to see what in my piece above that could be spun that way. I wrote that the Arctic floating ice was killed year 2011, in a few years we will know if it was right.

"The rate of melting of the Arctic ice in 2012 was accelerated by a cyclone."
Even before the cyclone the 2012 ice extent trendline was at or near the previous lowest trendline of 2007 all while weather in 2012 wasn't specifically inclined to melt in contrast to 2007. The ice-system was set up for a record melt even without the cyclone.

That is the worrysome part; What happen a warm year?

pre-rant thanks to you, Ghung for all your good works.
rant follows.

goddam! What we NEED is to think about what we need. We do NOT need most of what we do. Nobody can argue with that, at least here in USA and such like places.

Proof? Just walk around the stores and look. Proof.

the hell we need vast quantities of power, except power to think.

We are doing way too much. and we are doing way too little of what we need to do because we are too busy doing what we don't need and what does us no good or even real harm.

i use five times less electricity than my neighbor. He drives an obese pickup. I don't drive. I am a lot better off than he is any way that counts. He is poor, I am non-poor.

end rant. now go out and shut up the chickens, and don't forget to check if there are any more eggs.

While we're distracted by zombie apocalypses and the end of the Mayan calendar, the real thing is happening all around us, but we refuse to see it. I was going to say "invisibly", but that is not true - it is not invisible at all, though perhaps unrecognized. More like willfully unrecognized.

For a long time people have commented here and on other boards about the often jarring dissonance between the things we discuss here and the behaviors of their fellow citizens. I find that is becoming more and more bizarre as the realities of economic, societal and national collapse, climate change and its effects, ecosystem destruction, and the role played by fossil fuels behind all of it get more obvious and extreme. I look at people going through their day-to-day motions in apparent calm, and wonder why they are not running around with their hair on fire. Heck, I suppose there may be people looking at me wondering what I'm doing going through the motions. But if you talk to them about any of this stuff you find that they are either totally uninterested or have shut it out completely - it is rare to find someone who is willing to see it or to admit that they do.

My "Sixth Sense" metaphor.

In the "Sixth Sense" movie, some ghosts don't know they are dead, and they only see what they want to see.

For most Americans, our auto-centric suburban way of life is dead, but most of us don't know it, and we only see what we want to see.

Twilight - Maybe just many of us are hardwired to dissonance. And maybe the worse the situation the more powerful that genetic defect kicks in. In another lifetime I was involved in very serious and potential very dangerous circumstances. And I can easily remember how some very insignificant matters (like "Who the hell took my damn socks!!!") took a priority of focus over those much more serious matters. Much more then denial IMHO. More like a self defense for one's sanity. Unfortunately while offering some sort of mental reprieve it also prevents dealing constructively with the situation...if that's at all possible.

Maybe just my imagination but it seems a lot of emotional energy is being directed towards less significant problems. And, as always, more tendency to deal with smaller immediate problems then the bigger distal problems.

Yes, surely it is less immediately stressful to focus on the mundane, and we all do it to some extent. Meanwhile the crises are here - there isn't much need to worry about what we will do when the crises hit, as this is it.

The media has the kids constructively focused on and sacrificing for more important matters:

How can reality or wise elders compete?

I look at people going through their day-to-day motions in apparent calm, and wonder why they are not running around with their hair on fire.

I think it is really quite simple!

The vast majority of people have drunk deeply from the Kool-aid of there being an economic recovery just around the corner! They truly believe that the US is on the verge of becoming energy Independent and that we are now an oil exporter with reserves greater than those of Saudi Arabia! They either dismiss out of hand the reality and consequences of things like climate change or think that some magic technology is being worked on that will surely save us in the nick of time. They know this for an absolute fact because it has always been so in the past! The future is theirs for the taking if only they have a bit of patience and are willing to work hard enough to achieve the 'dream'!

Case in point, yesterday I spent a day with a friend of mine who buys and sells used heavy construction machines. We rode around all day visiting various yards looking at big cranes, asphalt pavers, excavators, giant earth movers etc... Every single person we spoke to told us that even though business was a bit slow right now, there was no doubt whatsoever, that it was about to pick up BIG TIME!

After looking at hundreds and hundreds of these humongous diesel guzzling machines sitting idle in yard after yard, I just couldn't help but wonder where all the cheap oil to run them was supposed to be coming form, let alone all the energy and resources to power the economic growth necessary to create all that need for more construction of malls and housing, more road building, more airports, more industrial parks, etc...

All in all nobody I spoke to seemed to have even the slightest inkling of the reality of our predicament. It is a rather surreal experience to say the least! 'Jarring dissonance', is what I'd call a major understatement!

I hope you managed some pictures for the scrapbook?
These are going to be a future legacy archive.
Poignant stuf!


I hope you managed some pictures for the scrapbook?

No, I didn't have my 'real' camera with me and my friend only took a few pictures of actual machines he was interested in.
Though now that I know where some of these yards are I'm seriously thinking about going back just to create a photo archive. I'll bet you could go to any major city in the US and see similar scenes.

Here's a picture from an auction site I found on google. Those are not matchbox toys...



Just around the corner - on a circular building.


It may be part of our makeup, genetic or otherwise, to have defense mechanisms kick in when faced with an overwhelming threat to our existence or the existence of our descendants. We develop scotomas or blind spots to what is happening around us. Life is short and, therefore, most people do not want to spend their short lives worrying about that which they can do nothing about. Frankly, I sometimes wish that I could easily just simply ignore what is going on and thereby relieve myself of this constant, continuing daily anxiety about what is going on. I suppose it doesn't help visiting The Oil Drum on a daily basis which just feeds the beast in the back room of my mind.

I used to actively engage in local politics in order to garner policies that would reduce our carbon footprint. I have had some limited success but the results of all my efforts are essentially nil given the big picture. Frankly, I think we are beyond the point of no return. I do not understand how people like McKibben can continue on with their activism.

FMagyar - Growth, Progress and Technology are our Holy Trinity, and I suppose that to the true believer obvious reality has never been much of an obstacle!

tstreet - I find the main anxiety producing part now is in trying to work out timing and specifics so that I can best fulfill my obligations to take care of my family. That's not the limit of my sense of responsibility, but it's that part that causes me anxiety precisely because family often does not fully agree with my expectations for the future, and if I get blindsided things could go badly (or perhaps worse than they otherwise might). The rest I accept will be difficult and approach with the intent of trying to become the change I believe will be needed, and trying to preserve knowledge and skills for the future.

These events are real and happening now, and I am mortal, limited and not in control. I'll live my life as circumstances permit, trying to limit the burden my existence places on natural systems while hopefully doing something of value along the way. That part does not cause me anxiety.


In my Update newsletter this week I included a post I had prepared for TOD but chose not to put up because I felt it was OT and verbose. But here is the essence of it:

What we have to overcome is fear. I suggest that you watch V for Vendetta and see how the heroine overcomes her fear and, ultimately, achieves her freedom both mentally and to act.

We all have different fears about the future - including me even though I'm pretty prepared. There is no magic formula that will help you or I overcome these fears. We have to reach a point where we can say, "I did my best" even while knowing that there is something else to be done no matter how small it might be.

Think of the soldier in his or her first battle. They've been trained (prepping) but are still scared $hitless. We are all in this position because, like them, we can't know the future.

As I said at the end of the newsletter - I'm still working on it.


It may be part of our makeup, genetic or otherwise, to have defense mechanisms kick in when faced with an overwhelming threat to our existence or the existence of our descendants. We develop scotomas or blind spots to what is happening around us.

I think this is true...and we at TOD are not immune.

I'm reminded of the various discussions we had when the post office was considering going to 5 day a week delivery (down from 6, to save money). People were surprisingly resistant to the idea, even those I thought of as doomers. People who discussed gas stations going dry, millions of people dying, and recipes for long pig without batting an eyelash got upset at the idea of mail delivery only five days a week. Even though we think about overwhelming threats here at TOD, I suspect they are not really "real" to many of us. At least, not in the way mail delivery six days a week is.

"Doomer' can be a broad brush, and some (those Ron likes to call realists) realize that some things may be worth preserving, even while admitting it may not be possible. Whatever one's outlook, it's a good idea to have a habit of prioritising how our resources will be allocated, as individuals and collectively. I often discuss views that are contrary to what my gut tells me, since there may be something to be gained by doing so. Beats the crap out of being a hard-core idealist.

We develop scotomas or blind spots to what is happening around us.

We also have a way of taking for granted and dissmissing many of the things that are fundamental to maintaining some form of stability, until they're gone. Social safety nets will be unsupportable in the long run, IMO, but winding them down is going to create another set of predicaments we are woefully unprepared for. It's the nature of overshoot and conundrums. Discussing these things while attempting to prioritise them is what sets the legitamate doomer apart from Chicken Little.

IMO, most folks are reactionary and don't even think about these things much. I have a few 'doomers' in my extended family who won't discuss these things with me. They've already made up their minds.

I'm reminded of the various discussions we had when the post office was considering going to 5 day a week delivery (down from 6, to save money).

Leanan, for residences, I'd like to see 3 day a week delivery. Deliver the mail to half the people on Mon-Wed-Fri and the other half on Tue-Thu-Sat. You could have 5 or 6 day delivery to businesses. This plan would reduce the number of vehicles and workers needed by almost 50%.

To cut costs, the Post Office is proposing to reduce the speed standard that they are processing the mailing. For example, what is now one day delivery would change to two day delivery. Every other day delivery would have about the same result on the timeliness of the mail but would save much more money than reducing the speed standard.

We have our head in the sand if we don't update the postal system in light of today's needs.

"This plan would reduce the number of vehicles and workers needed by almost 50%."

And these workers will quickly find new jobs in our booming economy. NOT. More unemployment.

So what if they can't find jobs.

If this is an important criteria - then every other business that wants to downsize should submit to the same criteria no?

Now I am just kicking a ball around here, but what about the possibility that those who truly get it are the ones who become fatalistic doomers ("we can't do anything, let's not even try")? Because if you really do understand the situation, how easy is it to maintain hope? And without hope, how can one even try?

Just speculating a bit.

Written by Jedi Welder:
.... those who truly get it are the ones who become fatalistic doomers ("we can't do anything, let's not even try")? And without hope, how can one even try?

It depends on the hoped for outcome. Do you want to keep the system going indefinitely, or just long enough to die a natural death before TSHTF? Photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, electric cars and electric rail buy time. Corn ethanol may even help to reduce population, the thing that really needs to be accomplished.

Because projections based on what is known can not take into account what is unknowable.

Prediction is very hard, especially about the future - Yogi Berra


"People were surprisingly resistant to the idea, even those I thought of as doomers."

I think of doomers as those who are bringing doom upon civilization.

Those who warn others about what the doomers are doing are public servants.


It may be part of our makeup, genetic or otherwise, to have defense mechanisms kick in when faced with an overwhelming threat to our existence or the existence of our descendants. We develop scotomas or blind spots to what is happening around us.

The technical term is denial, but it is not genetic, it is a cultural phenomenon. A cursory look at the history of addiction in terms of commerce has a long history in our culture, and it now encompases oil addiction (A History Of Oil Addiction).

Those who labor in the oil drug peddling market here on TOD and other places are nice family people, love their families and friends, and make good neighbors, yet they have major league denial:

A major flaw in our system of government, and even in industry, is the latitude to do less than is necessary. Too often officials are willing to accept and adapt to situations they know to be wrong. The tendency is to downplay problems instead of actively trying to correct them.
The psychopath is callous, yet charming. He or she will con and manipulate others with charisma and intimidation and can effectively mimic feelings to present as “normal” to society. The psychopath is organized in their criminal thinking and behavior, and can maintain good emotional and physical control, displaying little to no emotional or autonomic arousal, even under situations that most would find threatening or horrifying. The psychopath is keenly aware that what he or she is doing is wrong, but does not care.

(When You Are Governed By Psychopaths). It is just that being an asshole about it is the first phase, which fades with time and goes away with experience and aging, as it morphs into psychopathology.

The nice, experienced, articulate ones are the psychopaths, the assholes haven't been at it long enough to contemplate appropriate PR mechanisms.

Trying to convert a society led by psychopaths is an exercise in futility. The better option, which is not guaranteed to work either, is to try to survive what they are going to do to all of us, themselves, and their families.

I look at people going through their day-to-day motions in apparent calm, and wonder why they are not running around with their hair on fire.

What should they do, quit their job and dig a hole in the hill? Stockpile guns, ammo, and beans? Give up the kids and run off to an ashram? If they admit the problem, what exactly should they do? Running around like a nut isn't going to solve anything either.

I wasn't really recommending running around like a nut as a useful course of action, and as these are predicaments rather than "solvable" problems it certainly creates difficulties in deciding how to react. Nonetheless there better and worse ways to react, and completely ignoring serious ongoing/pending catastrophes is probably not one of the former.

"What should they do...?"

Reinvent themselves, their lives, and their communities in ways that reduce consumption and improve resilience. At least they could think in ways that don't include doing what they've always done. The problem, as I see it, is that the ones who benefit the most from our current paradigm contibute the most to our demize, and have the least incentive to change, while also having the greatest capacity to do so; a paradox of haves and have nots. Those with the most to lose seem least likely to see things as they really are.

China is going full uranium steam ahead into nuclear energy in a country that can experience horrifically damaging earthquakes. We also know that the rat at the core of the human brain is incredibly good at finding the shortest route to the profitable cheese through cutting corners, cheating and deception. There is unlimited desire for lifestyle improvement in China and everywhere else for that matter and consumption is the surest route to nirvana. Why wait for more of those festering radioactive pustules to pop, through war or accident, and shower the whole northern hemisphere with magical, DNA scambling pixie dust.

They say South America is the new North. Why not head south and leave the techno-utopian dream behind, before there’s a rush to convert worthless paper assets into something real. Perhaps you’re just stuck on some node of this fossil fuel fungus (FFF) enjoying your sports games, TV entertainment, and just-in-time delivery of your sustenance. In that case, it’s time to get out of the easy chair and take a look around and make some plans because things will only become progressively more tenuous until they pull apart completely and the “system” ceases to exist. Punctuated equilibria are rather rare and usually destroy significant amounts of the extant complexity. This is truly an excellent opportunity for your children to inherit the earth, whatever’s left of it.

"They say" a lot of things. I just spent 14 years in Brazil, and what you all see in the news media up here in the US makes my Brazilian friends just laugh ruefully when I repeat it to them. The Brazilian government has established a handy news agency in New York to just give out material to lazy journalists who know nothing about the place.

I lived in the 3rd largest city in the state of Bahia. The police went on strike last year and the entire town shut down immediately -- immediately, as in the same day. Did I mention that anyone who can afford it has a high wall around their property with an electric fence on top and large dogs inside? Everyone locked themselves inside their walls for the duration. Murders tripled.

Rule of law (such as it is) breaks down in mere days, not even weeks, down there.

Rule of law (such as it is) breaks down in mere days, not even weeks, down there. ~ Tenney Naumer

The 'rule of law' is ethically-flawed where it it an imposition by force. What we may see when it 'breaks down' is likely from the conditions it creates from its own fundamental brokenness.

"All moralists interested in one of the greatest topics of ethics – the reduction or elimination of violence – would do well to understand the depth and degree to which the existence of a centralized state promotes, exacerbates and profits from violence... as we can see from countless examples throughout history, [government-sponsored] violence always escalates until civil society is utterly destroyed. Because the state so directly profits from violence, eliminating the state can in no way increase the use of violence within society. Quite the contrary... eliminating the state will, to a degree unprecedented in human history, eliminate violence as well."
~ Stefan Molyneux

"I have answered the generic 'warlord objection' to anarchy elsewhere. Regarding Somalia in particular, Ben Powell et al. have done fantastic work analyzing Somalia before and after its transition to statelessness, and also comparing its fate with similar African nations. Their conclusion is that — of course — stateless Somalia is no paradise, but its lack of a corrupt, brutal government has given it an advantage over its former self and its current peers.

Somalia has achieved remarkable progress since the collapse of the brutal dictatorship of Siad Barre in 1991. If people in the more developed countries of the world wish to help the impoverished region, we can certainly send money and even visit to offer medical services and other assistance. But if the West foists the 'gift' of another state on the beleaguered Somalis, their appropriate response should be, 'No, you shouldn't have.'.
~ Robert P. Murphy

Nigeria state oil firm borrows $1.5 bln to pay fuel debt -source

Nigerian state oil firm NNPC has obtained a $1.5 billion syndicated loan to help it pay debts to international fuel traders, a senior banking source with knowledge of the deal said on Monday.

Popularity Of Natural Gas Drives Oil Dealers To Diversify

With Energy Blueprint, Governor Hopes To Accelerate Transition

To heating-oil dealers concerned about losing customers to low-cost natural gas, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and energy Commissioner Dan Esty have a message: Diversify.

"We have recommended that they diversify their own business, that they reshape their business model so that they are not overly dependent on selling fuel oil, which we think looks like a tough business over the next decade," said Esty, head of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

In October, Esty and Malloy released an energy plan that would make natural gas more widely available, and ever since oil dealers throughout Connecticut have been pushing back with questions about the fuel pricing and state involvement in the energy industry. The plan aims to give 300,000 houses in the state the option of switching to natural gas by expanding availability of the currently low-cost fuel and by making it easier for homeowners to finance new heating equipment.

Maine heating oil firm enters electricity market

Theft warning over heating oil in Halifax

Can Ghana match Brazilian sugar-cane yields?

For farmers in the developing world, energy crops are a tempting prospect, and already some developing countries are starting to move into the market. For example, in 2008 Brazil's agriculture research agency, EMBRAPA, opened an office in Accra with the intention of helping Ghana to build up its nascent ethanol industry. In 2010 Brazil made a $300 m investment in exporting Brazilian sugar-cane cultivation and refinement technology to Ghana. In addition a dam has been proposed on the River Daka to provide irrigation water for this thirsty crop.

A more salient question would be - can Ghana feed it's own people? ...

Food Security Ghana 2012 Part III – Food Shortages and Governance

... According to UNICEF’s Martin Dawes over one million children across the Sahel are currently malnourished. “It’s already a crisis because we have looked at the figures and across the Sahel belt there are more than a million children under five who are going to need medical treatment for severe and acute malnutrition, and this doesn’t take into account the 1.6 million who will be what we call moderately to acute malnourished. It’s a bad year.”

Closer to home in Ghana another food crisis is ongoing, despite denials by some. It is common knowledge that there currently are shortages of some foodstuff such as maize, groundnuts and tomatoes. With that food prices are high and rising resulting in a substantial number of Ghanaians who claim that they can’t afford enough nutritious food. In the northern parts of Ghana 36 per cent of children under five are malnourished.

The difference between the food crisis in Ghana and that across the Horn of Africa, South Sudan and the Sahel lies in the media exposure. In the other regions people in their tens thousands have died or are at risk to die, and massive exposure is given to the international aid initiatives being undertaken. The suffering of the poorest of the poor in Ghana is to a large extent treated as “a statistic that has improved over time”.

Berlin commuters will use folding EV Hiriko

Deutsche Bahn, the company that operates the German railway network, will enlist the Hiriko electric vehicle as part of its transport network in Berlin. The Hiriko folding car, targeted for the city's car sharing network, will undergo testing as a "last mile" step in Deutsche Bahn's railway network. This means commuters will use the foldable car to get from station to their final destinations.

The Cleantech Cliff: Global venture capital investment plunged 33 percent in 2012

Global clean-technology venture investment plunged to $6.46 billion in 2012, down 33 percent from the $9.61 billion invested a year ago, according to San Francisco-based research and consulting firm Cleantech Group.

Haji cited several reasons for investor skittishness. The low price of natural gas has made it harder for renewable energy to compete on cost. Venture capitalists are shying away from capital-intensive deals after seeing companies like Santa Clara-based Misasole sold at fire sale prices. And global economic uncertainty took a toll: Several privately backed cleantech companies, including Oakland's BrightSource Energy, were forced to shelve their IPO plans and raise additional funds from existing investors.

The one bright spot belonged to SolarCity, a San Mateo-based solar financier and installer that had a successful IPO Dec. 13. SolarCity slashed its share price but ultimately raised $92 million.

In 2008, the solar industry accounted for 60 percent of all cleantech venture deals. Six years later, it was just 12 percent of the total.

The leading cleantech sector in 2012 by amount invested was biofuels and biochemicals ($952 million), followed by transportation ($927 million) and energy efficiency ($907 million).

The role of corporations will be key as federal funding for clean technologies has largely ground to a halt.

Disappointing but you can't really blame them for cutting back. It is just such a difficult area and it is littered by disappointments.
-Cheap natural gas is making it tough for alt energies
-A flood of cheap solar panels from China has kinda killed investment in solar.
-Worries about whether governments will be able to afford to keep providing financial incentives.
-Most of the biofuel investments haven't paid off
-Electric vehicles have not done well in view of reduced gasoline prices and stubbornly high battery prices
-Wind is a relatively mature technology

I would still think there has got to be some areas for decent investments:
-Smart grid technologies to deal with energy efficiency, integrating renewable power onto the grid better, redundancy, microgrids, etc.
-LED technology that reduces costs and provides lighting systems that people want.
-Hope springs eternal for a cheaper battery for EVs
-Hope springs eternal for other electricity storage systems

There's no hope, speculawyer. Fossil fuels are the basis of our entire civilization including agriculture and the money system. We are "all in" when it comes to fossil fuels.

Without them, we could at best probably maintain a global population of 1 billion. Technology mitigates the decline, keeping you running in the same place a bit longer.

Renewables don't scale up and are mostly local in application. Nuclear still scares people (amazing...we a more scared of a little radiation than burning the entire planet!), but we might give nuclear a shot in a desperate bid to keep the lights on and deplete the remaining uranium and thorium.

This was not planned, it was just sort of a natural evolution. Once we discovered how to burn them, it was pretty much a given that we would exploit every last niche of fuel available until it was all gone, in the process creating an unsustainable civilization, cooking the planet, and patting ourselves on the back for a job well done.

Humans are not actually that smart. We a very, very clever, it's true, but we are not that smart.

Humans are not actually that smart. We a very, very clever, it's true, but we are not that smart.

That's an interesting distinction. Clever enough to figure out how to take advantage of what's available, but not smart enough to know the long term implications of that cleverness.

We took off in a direction without ever considering what would happen down the road, because the initial process involved individuals that knew it would take longer than their lifetimes to play out to its inevitable negative conclusion.

No smarter than yeast, anyway.
And yet, look at the yeast. Doing very well, it seems.


Oil Tanker Hits Bay Bridge

The tanker, the Overseas Reymar, swiped the easternmost tower of the bridge's western span at 11:37 a.m.

The tanker was empty, said Charlie Goodyear, a spokesman for the San Francisco Bar Pilots Association. A pilot was aboard the ship when it struck the bridge, he said. There was damage reported on the starboard side of the ship as well as the base of the bridge tower, Talmadge said. However, Goodyear said, "There is no puncture in the hull of ship."

That's strange. The tanker has been going around in circles. According to the plot, at 11:37 a.m. it was at the southern point of its path, where it remained for some hours. It passed the east pier much later. (Zoom out a bit to see the whole path.)


EDIT: My bad. Times on marinetraffic.com are GMT, not local. 11:37 a.m. Pacific is 19:37 GMT. The map shows the ship passing the pier 19:17 - 19:19 GMT. Close enough.

That GMT time had Me confused yesterday too with the Aiviq tow.

Check out the track of the Warrior in Kiliuda bay. First thing after arriving was to survey the waters around where the Kulluk was moored.

I learned a new word: allision

Allision: (maritime) The act of striking a fixed object, compare collision: the act of striking another vessel.

Was Speed a Significant Factor in the Overseas Reymar Allision?

As the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board launch their investigation into Monday’s tanker allision with the San Francisco Bay Bridge, information available to the public has hinted that excessive speed coupled with poor visibility may have played a role.

But was speed really a factor in this case?

As we reported yesterday, the 752-foot Marshall Island’s-registered tanker Overseas Reymar allided with tower six of the Bay Bridge at approximately 11:20 a.m while under the command of a San Francisco Bar Pilot as it was exiting the Bay.

Giant tobacco plants that stay young forever

Tobacco plants bloom when they are just a few months old – and then they die. Now, researchers have located a genetic switch which can keep the plants young for years and which permits unbounded growth. In short, an ideal source of biomass.

"The first of our tobacco plants is now almost eight years old but it still just keeps on growing and growing," says Professor Dirk Prüfer, head of the Department of Functional and Applied Genomics at the IME. "Although we regularly cut it, it's six-and-a-half meters tall. If our greenhouse were a bit higher, it would probably be even bigger. Its stem is already ten centimeters in diameter." Whereas in normal tobacco plants the leaves, which grow from the bottom of the stem, soon turn yellow and drop off, the IME plant's leaves stay healthy and green.

... an ideal source of biomass (aka 'cigarettes')

Kudzu wasn't good enough?

Miscanthus is 20 tons per acre and lasts 10-15 years with very little fertilizer nor herbicides.

Tobacco for Biomass??

Oh great. Cheaper ways to kill people.

The joy of tobacco: it is addictive, and thus people who should be buying nutritious food for their children will buy the 'cheaper' tobacco (wanna bet whether CT cigarettes sell for any less than regular?).

Might be different if the taxes on tobacco products went to pay for the health care consequences. But that would mean smokers taking personal responsibility, wouldn't it? And tobacco farmers have big clout in DC...... Right wing reps (especially Southern) won't consider it.

If only cognitive dissonance were fatal!!!!


Might be different if the taxes on tobacco products went to pay for the health care consequences.

Smokers are a blessing to the US. They die early before they can collect decades of Social Security and Medicare. A vigorous, healthy person who declines slowly into their 90s eats up hundreds of thousands of dollars in state pensions and medical care - far, far more than they paid in taxes. A smoker who drops dead of small cell lung cancer at 63 pays taxes for decades and costs our retirement systems nothing. Perverse, ain't it?

Now where have I heard that before - plants genetically engineered for their fuel potential...

The Day of the Triffids

Masen has developed a theory that they were bioengineered in the USSR and then accidentally released into the wild when a plane smuggling their seeds was shot down. Triffids begin sprouting all over the world, and their extracts prove to be superior to existing fish or vegetable oils. The result is worldwide cultivation of triffids.

Thanks to those who replied to my comment on the December 22 Drumbeat requesting quantitative information on the effects of climate change on people. Especially FMagyar, for the link to theGlobal Footprint Network. Sorry I couldn't stick around at that time.

There certainly isn't much else out there in the way of numbers. For what it's worth, I have found a couple of things.

First, another comment here pointed me to Jørgen Randers' new book 2052, which sets out Randers's forecast for the progress of the world's environment, population, resources and economics over the next forty years. Randers is one of the authors of Limits to Growth, so his views must be taken seriously -- and they are a little surprising. Randers provides a spreadsheet with the numbers on which he bases his forecast.

Second, there is the mini-industry of Integrated Assessment Modeling, featuring the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and various groups of economists with models such as DICE and PAGE09. DICE is also available as a spreadsheet.

My impression so far is that the economist-produced models suffer from incompleteness, from underestimating the pace and severity of climate change, from overestimating baseline economic growth, and from overestimating our adaptive capacity, so their conclusions to date* are not much use.

It's a pity that we don't have a firmer idea than we do at this point. Having good numbers in 2043 (or even 2023) probably isn't going to be "decision useful".

* For instance, an early quoted figure was damages of $270 billion. That's not really significant in the context of the $300 trillion global economy that the model predicted. But the model didn't include the effects of sea level rise...and probably other effects.

Quelle surprise !

Alberta lakes show chemical effects of oilsands, study finds
Pollutants from 50 years of oilsands production found in lake 90 km from facilities

A new study released today shows chemicals from 50 years of oilsands production are showing up in increasing amounts in lakes in northern Alberta. And the effects are being felt much farther away than previously thought.


The authors focused on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. These are cancer-causing chemicals that are released when things are burned. They can occur naturally — from forest fires, volcanic activity and geological deposits — but burning petroleum in the production of the oilsands leaves a particular fingerprint, so the scientists were able to trace where the PAHs in the core samples came from.

The study found that the levels of PAHs in all six lakes had increased anywhere from 2½ times to 23 times background levels in the early 1960s, before the start of oilsands mining in the region. The PAHs fall into the water from air pollution and are deposited in the mud over time.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/01/07/pol-oilsands-alberta-lake...


Also noted in the NY Times: Oil Sands Industry in Canada Tied to Higher Carcinogen Level

“One of the biggest challenges is that we lacked long-term data,” said John P. Smol, the paper’s lead author and a professor of biology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. “So some in industry have been saying that the pollution in the tar sands is natural, it’s always been there.”

The researchers found that to the contrary, the levels of those deposits have been steadily rising since large-scale oil sands production began in 1978.


“Now we have the smoking gun,” Professor Smol said.

He said he was not surprised that the analysis found a rise in PAH deposits after the industrial development of the oil sands, “but we needed the data.” He said he had not entirely expected, however, to observe the effect at the most remote test site, a lake that is about 50 miles to the north.

Where's Rocky Mountain Guy? He always has a positive spin on Alberta tar sands oil production.

He would say they are just cleaning up a big [natural] oil spill.

The Alberta Tar Sands -- the biggest brownfield in the world!

Joking aside, while I have numerous friends who have a real hate on for Stephen Harper's government due to their push to develop the tar sands, and build the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines, I can't help but think it would not be all that different if we had a Liberal or NDP government. The bottom line is that like most governments in the world, Harper's government are desperate to get economic growth going again. Eliminating the deficit and handling increased costs for pensions, health care, etc. is really dependent on getting back to robust growth. The tar sands and related pipeline projects represent the biggest opportunity available to grow Canada's economy so it is really hard to imagine any political party forgoing them.

Well, in extracting the oil sands, they are indeed cleaning up the mother of all natural oil spills. But my question would be, "How does this lake pollution differ from lakes in Southern Ontario?" Any time you have large industrial activities you are going to have pollutants landing in the lakes. The main difference I can see is that the Great Lakes have tens of millions of people around them, whereas Fort McMurray has maybe 100,000.


Percent of stream samples in the Lake Erie–Lake Saint Clair Drainages where harmful chemical compounds such as the herbicides atrazine, acetochlor, cyanazine, metolachlor, and simazine were detected: 50 percent to 100 percent. Weeks after applications elevated pesticide concentrations in streams persisted in agricultural and mixed-land-use areas: 4 to 6 weeks. Number of chemical compounds now identified in the Great Lakes: 360

In the future, say 50 years from now, the Fort McMurray area will probably become a major industrial area with 1 million plus people, and if predictions of climate change come true, it will be a major agricultural area, much like the American Midwest is now - but that's a long way in the future.

"it will be a major agricultural area"

There's that trope again. Warmer average temperatures are not sufficient for increased agricultural productivity. Other factors such as day/night temp differentials, hours of daylight, soil tilth and precipitation come equally into play.

So far the expecatations have come ashame. Yes it gets warmer and climate zones moves polewards. But it also gets more violent and unpredictable in the weather reports. Sure you can farm up some old wood lands, but those storms and whatnots will get worse to, and in the end you will lose more from bad weather than you gain from better climate.

And that is just local, on the global level you have the problem with to-dry-to-farm zones expanding resulting in lesser agri areas as a whole. 50 years from now, I expect entire nations in Africa to be depopulated and essentially having become international territories due to to much heat.

They found that climate change is already sufficient to be adversely affecting the lakes they sampled, while they were unable to discern any negative effects from the chemical pollution they measured.

23 times background sounds like a lot, but 23 times 0 is still 0. There's some discussion of how bad the absolute levels are (relatively clean for industrially contaminated lakes) but they haven't actually attempted to calculate whether its relatively clean for the scale of the actual oil sands industry or not. You can cherry pick the discussion either way. Its really a paper published just to establish the measurement technique and not one with serious amounts of data collected and analysed.

"23 times background sounds like a lot, but 23 times 0 is still 0."
By (your) logic 'background' is not 0 in this case, otherwise there would not have been a 23...

'Exceptional' heatwave challenges records

Australia's “exceptional” heatwave has produced record-breaking temperatures, with at least six of the first seven days of 2013 among the top 20 hottest days in the past century.

The extreme January heat has prompted the Bureau of Meteorology to issue a special climate statement, with further updates planned as the scorching temperatures continue.

Data for Monday is still to be fully analysed by the weather bureau, but it may be the hottest of the series and could generate a record average maximum beyond the 40.17 degrees reached on December 21, 1972.

Such a result would make it six days in a row when the national average has been above 39 degrees; tomorrow is expected to make it seven. Prior to this series, the longest run of 39 degrees or more was four days, in 1973.

“This event is ongoing with significant records likely to be set,” the bureau statement said. “A particular feature of this heatwave event has been the exceptional spatial extent of high temperatures.”

The final four months of 2012 were the hottest on record for Australia and January is making an early run at adding to the sequence of especially hot weather.

Live: NSW braces for one of the hottest days on record

1:15pm: Two further regions have been upgraded to the 'catastrophic' fire danger level, the NSW Rural Fire Service has just announced.

The RFS upgraded the Northern and Eastern Riverina areas from 'extreme' to 'catastrophic', the highest fire danger rating, this afternoon.

Southern parts of the Lower Central West Plains are expected to also be upgraded to catastrophic this afternoon, the RFS said.

It brings the total of the 21 NSW regions that are marked catastrophic to five. The Illawarra/Shoalhaven area and Southern Ranges were classified as catastrophic earlier.

See also: NSW RFS Total Fire Ban and Current Fire Danger Map

So in addition to the US drought this past year, we now have one in Brazil as well.. and extreme cold in India. (Which for them is the mid 30's.. but in an area where noone has winter clothes and many live outdoors or in uninsulated homes, that would still be a problem.)


"We are experiencing the worst drought in 50 years, with consequences that could be compared to a violent earthquake," Eduardo Salles, agriculture secretary in the northeastern state of Bahia, said in an emailed statement.

Dams in the Northeast ended December at just 32 percent of capacity, according to the national electrical grid operator. That puts them below the 34 percent the operator, known as ONS, considers sufficient to guarantee electricity supplies.

More than 100 missing in Tasmania fires: 'Grave fears' for those who stayed to defend homes from catastrophic bushfires

More than 100 people are missing in catastrophic bushfires that are ravaging the Australian island of Tasmania.

Some 1,000 people were rescued by boat from the east coast after fires cut off roads, but police say they hold 'grave fears' for a number of residents who stayed to defend their homes but have not been heard from.

It comes amid the hottest temperatures ever recorded on the island, peaking at 41.8C (107F) on Friday.

My friend Steve in Australia is complaining about the heat. I have never read anything from him where he is a complainer about that before. But then again, those pictures of thermometers showing 40+ temperatures he is uploading on Facebook looks sweaty.
So I guess that when he return to Sweden in february just when our annuall cold snap is expected to set in, he will go from fire to ice.

Right now it's 7C in southwest Tasmania a couple of days after the blast furnace heat. It's beyond weird.

Wow, that's... carzy. The only place that quick changes are the norm are in arctic climate zones and high mountains. This is wierd.

This is weird

Some have suggested that we should call what is happening to the global climate, 'Climate Weirding'!

I'm running the AC here in South Florida today, it's overcast with light rain at 82F and muggy. It's supposed to be cool and dry around here this time of year.

What freaks me is the fact there is so little you can do to prepare. We already have fire pumps and bunkers in case escape is impossible. Every fire truck and helicopter is overworked at the height of the blaze. I've discussed this with my neighbours in the forested areas. Maybe we could bulldoze an escape path with no trees or grass nearby. Even moving to the coast may not help as homes and cars burned right to the waters edge. See these slides http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-08/dunalley-bushfire/4456548

Some have suggested that we should call what is happening to the global climate, 'Climate Weirding'!

I completely agree. Calling it Global Warming was a bad idea from the start, now we have Siberian winter winds in Delhi (which has already witnessed the coldest winter in recorded history if you take into account urban heat island effect). How do you explain this to a layman who has only heard of the term global warming. Humans have managed to alter jet stream patterns (kudos!!), we sure are in for some weird shocks down the line.

My gut feeling is that this weirding will accelerate dramatically as the positive feedback starts kicking in.

Manifa and Sinopec Speculation

As recentlhy as 2010, KSA viewed Manifa as a project to be rolled out over time, with completion in 2024. Today, they expect production to start this year and hit maximum next year. Reviewing a timeline of news articles paints an interesting picture in my view. In brief, Saudi has to build two new refineries to process the heavy Manifa crude -- one is with Total, the other was going to be with ConocoPhillips but they pulled out in 2010 and in March 2011 Sinopec tentatively stepped in. A few months after Sinopec's tentative agreement, KSA announces Manifa is being fast tracked and in January of 2012 Sinopec finalizes the deal. Was there a quid quo pro? Did Sinopec agree to the deal only if KSA fast tracked Manifa? China is thirsty for oil, KSA is thirsty for money to fund their vast social bribery network. Win-Win! But it also seems to favor the short term over the long term, which is to say it is consistent with human nature. But since Manifa is KSA's last best hope, it doesn't bode well for their oil production later in the decade, in my opinion.

PS: Note the last article referenced.

Saudi Aramco has announced its oil refinery joint venture with France's Total at Jubail is to double capital investment to SR7.12bn

"Doubling capital investment"? In a nearly completed project? To me that's a nice way of saying massive cost overruns?

April 2010, ConocoPhillips pulls out of Yanbu refinery
March 2011, Sinopec tentatively signs up 62% stake in Yanbu


In the last few years the offshore field has been earmarked for a very staggered development, bringing it onstream slowly and in increments compensating for mature decline elsewhere in Saudi Aramco's portfolio, with the culmination only envisaged for 2024.

It would now seem, however, that Manifa has been chosen as the main feedstock provider for Saudi Aramco's two new 400,000-b/d heavy oil refinery joint ventures (JVs) with Total and Sinopec—provided Sinopec firms-up its participation in the Yanbu plant project to which it tentatively has stepped in following ConocoPhillips's last-minute exit. The Yanbu plant and the Aramco-Total JV at Jubail are both due onstream in 2013, although delays on the Yanbu project, given the partner switch, are likely to push the facility's start-up well into 2014.

January 2012, Sinopec finalizes Yanbu deal

June 2011
The state oil producer of Saudi Arabia plans to raise production capacity at Manifa, located in shallow water in the Persian Gulf, to its maximum level of 900,000 barrels a day by 2014, Aramco said today in its 2010 annual review. The target date for the field is 10 years ahead of the schedule laid out in its annual report last year.

June 2011
It would now seem, however, that Manifa has been chosen as the main feedstock provider for Saudi Aramco's two new 400,000-b/d heavy oil refinery joint ventures (JVs) with Total and Sinopec—provided Sinopec firms-up its participation in the Yanbu plant project to which it tentatively has stepped in following ConocoPhillips's last-minute exit. The Yanbu plant and the Aramco-Total JV at Jubail are both due onstream in 2013, although delays on the Yanbu project, given the partner switch, are likely to push the facility's start-up well into 2014.

October 2012
State-oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Saudi Aramco, said Tuesday its expects its large-scale Manifa oil field, which has capacity to produce 900,000 barrels a day of heavy crude, to start up production in the first half of 2013.

The field will have an initial capacity of 500,000 barrels per day of Arabian heavy crude in the first half of 2013, which will gradually increase to 900,000 barrels per day by 2014, Aramco said in a statement posted on its website.

December 2012
SATORP TO DOUBLE CAPITAL TO 7.12BN: Saudi Aramco has announced its oil refinery joint venture with France's Total at Jubail is to double capital investment to SR7.12bn (1.9bn), Reuters has reported. Saudi Aramco Total Refinery and Petrochemicals Co (Satorp) will increase spend at the site from SR3.56bn in the first-quarter of 2013, Aramco said. The refinery, whose construction is close to completion is part of Saudi Arabia's drive to boost crude refining capacity and would process heavy crude from Aramco's giant 900,000 barrels per day Manifa oilfield.

""Doubling capital investment"? In a nearly completed project? To me that's a nice way of saying massive cost overruns?"

Could be. Or they decided to scale up the plant right at the outset because of market conditions. Which also has interesting implications.

I considered that but I don't think that's the answer because the expected output of the refinery has not changed. I think a more likely explanation is that they have found that dealing with the Manifa crude is much more challenging than they expected leading to higher expenses. Or it could be just a major screw up -- those happen too.

To me, the big message is that there is a reason why KSA put off developing Manifa until they had no choice. And the fact that they are pushing development forward speaks of desperation, imho.

More interest on TOD about the Texas budget and its income from oil/NG then I expected. Some more details including a potential for a huge future clash between Texas and the feds.

One of the primary responsibilities of the Texas General Land Office is to lease the mineral holdings for energy and mineral development, with the proceeds going to the Permanent School Fund to help pay for public education. The General Land Office oversees more than 13 million acres of Permanent School Fund land, including state submerged lands out to 10.3 miles. Since inception, the Texas General Land Office has deposited more than $11 billion into the states Permanent School Fund from oil and gas production on PSF lands. And this income source for the state is in addition to the $trillions it has collected via production taxes. Yes...$trillions compared to PA not collecting even one penny of production taxes from the oil patch.

The potential battle when PO hits the country hard: Typically, the Land Office receives about 20 to 25 percent royalty from oil or gas produced from leases on state land. The Land Office can take this royalty in cash or in actual oil and gas, which can be sold competitively to public entities as gas or electricity.

The key take-away is the state's right to take royalty oil/NG in kind instead of producers selling it on the open market and sending the state a check. IOW 20 to 25% of all the oil/NG produced on those 13 million acres can be kept in the state if supplies become tight. The state can have all that oil production directed to Texas refineries and then decide who they'll sell the products to. And they can direct all the royalty NG to be sold to only Texas utilities and residential/business distribution systems. I can imagine such actions would start a world class pissing match between the state and the feds. Easy to imagine the "Let the Yankees freeze in the dark" tee shirts making a big come back. Not what I would care to see this develop if/when the country falls into such a vulnerable condition. But it seems inevitable.

One of your posts up above drove me to check the "Real Welfare States" to see if Texas was one of them...miraculously, it is a "maker" - the only "Republican" state that is (note that NC needs to be added to the "Republican" ranks as a taker): http://www.politicalwrinkles.com/open-discussion/25341-real-welfare-stat...

Canada has already had this fight, during the Trudeau era of the 1980's, when the Liberal government introduced the National Energy Program. The Federal government introduced price controls on oil and gas (setting the oil price at 1/2 the world level), and a double taxation system that increased the Federal take on oil production from 10% to 24% while reducing the Provincial share by a similar amount. It also taxed exports of oil and used the money to subsidize imports down to half the world price.

The Alberta government, which like Texas has collected $trillions in oil taxes and royalties over the years, objected violently, so it started taking its oil royalties In Kind and marketing the oil itself, free of Federal taxes. The Canadian government cannot tax a Provincial government or its property - it's in the Constitution. Like Texas, Alberta collects royalties in the 20-25% range, but unlike Texas, the Alberta government owns the mineral rights on 85% of the land in the province.

Then, since like Texas it sets Allowables on oil wells, Alberta cut back the well Allowables to the point where there were hardly any exports from Canada, although not so far as to cause shortages in Canada. Meanwhile, due to the subsidized low prices, imports increased. The result was a multi-billion dollar gap in the Federal budget since export taxes no longer covered import subsidies.

Then, to set the stage for what could come next, the Alberta government drilled three 100% government owned and operated wells on its own land right next to the US border and posed questions to the Supreme Court: If we exported the oil from these wells direct to the US with no private sector involvement, could the Federal government 1) stop it, 2) regulate it, or 3) tax it? The answers came back, No, No, and No.

The next steps were apparent to government lawyers: the Alberta government would buy all the oil wells on the 85% of the land in Alberta it owned the mineral rights to (75% of Canadian oil production), convert them to 100% government owned, and export most of the oil to the US free of all Federal regulations and taxes. It would send just enough East to avoid creating a "national emergency"', but it would set the conditions and prices of sale, and not pay any taxes on it.

At this point the Federal government realized that this was getting too serious - the next step was sending in the army, and Albertans have more guns than the Canadian army - and relented, particularly since the Liberal Party had been wiped out in the elections in all of Western Canada.

Subsequent Federal governments have realized that they can collect an awful lot of money from the oil companies in income and other taxes, as long as they play along with Alberta, so things have been a lot less confrontational since.

Hopefully things won't get to this point in Texas, because as we know, Texans have more guns than anybody, and they're not nearly as polite as Albertans when riled.

Rocky - I doubt I'll be around to witness it but the situation could become very serious if at the same time the worse aspects of PO start clicking and there's a major/long term disruption in global exports. So not just a price spike but actual shortages for those who could afford to pay. The access to energy becomes a huge leverage. And in such hard times every govt entity will do whatever it can to maintain that advantage.

And yes, we're not polite like Canadians even when we're not riled. And there is a deep seated resentment towards the fed govt that's part of Texas DNA. I doubt it would rival the Civil War but it could get very ugly. And even worse: very devisive at a time when national unity would be critical.


"Zero Dark Thirty" may play abroad about as well as Danish cartoons of Mohammed or the movie "Innocence of Muslims".

U.S. on alert for Islamist ire to ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

...such reporting could all be just part of building the "buzz" for the movie industry's latest.

I haven't seen it, but from what I have read the movie comes off as propaganda in favor of war crimes/torture. Since the filmmakers claim to have been fed stories by the CIA, I think it legitimately could be called propaganda... To be honest, I am more sad that it doesn't provoke any sort of serious reaction in the US. Well, other than "Hey, torture works! Let's use more!"

If I believed in hell, I would hope that the violent radical islamists and cia torturers get to share cells there.

I have every plan to avoid it. I've heard people argue it both ways. The view I believe is that if you you carefully watch it, you will see that the torture didn't crack the case, only lots of painstaking police work did that. Which is much closer to the historical truth. But, I don't think thats what the average viewer is going to conclude. Some have concluded the movie is a Rorhrshok test, that the viewer will see his pre-existing opinion on the effectiveness of torture validated.

I like your Hell assignments. I'd love to put Ayn Rand in the same cell as Karl Marx.

Eurozone unemployment hits another record high

Eurostat data published Tuesday showed unemployment in the 17-nation eurozone hit a record high of 11.8% in November, leaving 18.8 million people without work - two million more than a year ago.

At nearly 27%, Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the European Union, and youth unemployment is more than twice as high at 56%. Thousands of Spanish bank employees will lose their jobs as a result of an EU-backed bailout of Spanish banks. Only Greece, which is facing a sixth year of recession, has a greater proportion of young people out of work.

BBC: Eurozone unemployment reaches new high

The unemployment rate across the eurozone hit a new all-time high of 11.8% in November, official figures have shown.

This is a slight rise on 11.7% for the 17-nation region in October. The rate for the European Union as a whole in November was unchanged at 10.7%.

Spain, which is mired in deep recession, again recorded the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 26.6%.

More than 26 million people are now unemployed across the EU....

...Greece had the second-highest unemployment rate in November, at 20%.

The youth unemployment rate was 24.4% in the eurozone, and 23.7% in the wider European Union. Youth unemployment - among people under 25 - was highest in Greece (57.6%), followed by Spain (56.5%)...

...However, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Monday that he believed the worst was over.

Mr Barroso said the turning point was last September's promise from the European Central Bank to buy unlimited amounts of eurozone states' debts, which has helped crisis hit countries borrow more cheaply.

But in the view of the UK's Institute of Directors, whose members rely on demand from trading partners in the eurozone, this "has bought time, but that is all it has done".

"It is clear that the economic implosion of several member states continues at a troubling pace," said the business group's chief economist Graeme Leach.

"The headline figures spell bad news, but that is compounded by the political and human impact of terrifying levels of youth unemployment in Spain, Greece and Italy.

"This saga is far from over, whatever President Barroso may believe, and it seems it is set to get worse in 2013."

Interesting read in "The Age" for tomorrow, Jan 9th 2013:
IMF and the results for the countries who are forced to do what they suggest.

Now, who was involved in Greece with financial advice to the government? From what background are the big honchos in the IMF and other big institutions coming from? Who is profiting from running the Europeans into the ground?

Just asking.




The difference between 'being smart' and having clue...

This fine economist equates a gas tax with a tax on annoying persons. He has an NPR show! The comments are equally depressing. Sigh.

g2s - What I found most amusing was they he was critizing folks for doing exactly what he was doing yet apparently didn't think he had any fault in the matter. Sometimes I don't think folks listen to their own words as others would.

OTOH I do agree that we should have started raising motor fuel taxes decades ago to provide more incentive for conservation.

But for daughter Siham, the cold came too fast. Holding his surviving daughter, the thick-set man describes how Siham died."She was not sick. She didn't have any problems at all. We were up late that night and we were playing with her," he said. "We woke up the next morning ... She was curled into a ball from the cold. We buried her in the village.

That is very sad. We are very fragile. How vitally important something really simple can be.

Some tin cans and a pile of sticks

Or just a pile of sticks



Or a blanket, jacket, child sleeping with her parents or parents who care for their children.

Yes, the story does not entirely make sense as told.

Not enough information. Strange things happen:

Twenty to fifty percent of hypothermia deaths are associated with paradoxical undressing. This typically occurs during moderate to severe hypothermia, as the person becomes disoriented, confused, and combative. They may begin discarding their clothing, which, in turn, increases the rate of heat loss.

The general advice in survial literature is: if it is cold, and you see your friend start undressing, warm him up, quickly.

Climate change, debt and inequality 'threaten financial stability'

The Global Risks Report 2013 analyses 50 global risks in terms of impact, likelihood and interconnections, based on a survey of over 1000 experts from industry, government and academia.

This year’s findings show that the world is more at risk as persistent economic weakness saps our ability to tackle environmental challenges. The report highlights wealth gaps (severe income disparity) followed by unsustainable government debt (chronic fiscal imbalances) as the top two most prevalent global risks. Following a year scarred by extreme weather, from Hurricane Sandy to flooding in China, respondents rated rising greenhouse gas emissions as the third most likely global risk overall.

... the fact that the key risks in 2013 were the same as they had been in 2012 reflected a sense that policymakers were failing to get to grips with the threats. "There is a feeling that we are not making progress", ... "We are not seeing the state leadership necessary to tackle these risks."

"Continued stress on the global economic system is positioned to absorb the attention of leaders for the foreseeable future", the report said. "Meanwhile, the Earth's environmental system is simultaneously coming under increasing stress. Future simultaneous shocks to both systems could trigger the 'perfect global storm' with potentially insurmountable consequences

Report: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalRisks_Report_2013.pdf

Risks to look out for 2013-2020 (likelihood 66-75%)

- Rising greenhouse gas emissions
- Severe income disparity
- Global governance failure
- Failure of climate change adaptation
- Major systemic financial failure
- Water supply crises
- Food shortage crises
- Chronic fiscal imbalances
- Unilateral resource nationalization

Black Swan: Runaway climate change, Rogue deployment of geoengineering, Antibiotic resistance (No new classes of antibiotics have been discovered since 1987)

Shareholder responsibility could spur shift to sustainable energy, study reports

The research carried out at IIASA in collaboration with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research demonstrates that there is fundamental rigidity, known as lock-in, within the energy economy that favors the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power despite their large environmental and social costs.

The researchers identify that this rigidity of the existing energy economy could be considerably reduced by introducing new rules that hold shareholders of companies liable for the damages caused by the companies they own. Allocating the liability between the company and its shareholders could spur a shift toward a sustainable energy system.

"From a healthy resilience point-of-view you would normally expect a system to adapt to a situation which is causing so much damage," says Dangerman. "But it's not fundamentally changing

The profits and advantages for shareholders don't include a reckoning for environmental and social damage, so there is little impetus for shareholders to consider those factors.In order to change the system, says Schellnhuber, something needs to alter the damaging positive feedback cycles.


S - That might seem like a viable idea in theory but I think they lack a clear understanding of the system dynamics. Such a tax effort would take govt authority. The govt of the shareholdes who would be forced to foot the bill. The shareholder of US companies. The great majority of these shareholders of US companies are middle income folks (including million of active and retired union workers). So this would require the govt, dependent upon those shareholders for their votes to be re-elected, to force the shareholder to give up hundreds of $billions if not $trillions in future income much of which would be retirement income.

Yeah...that'll happen. And while they're at it they can also pass a law mandating that Americans consume no more energy per person than everyone else on the planet. That would also solve a lot of our problems.

US to require electric cars to make noise

A U.S. government safety agency wants electric and hybrid vehicles to make more noise when traveling at low speeds so pedestrians can hear them coming.

The cars and trucks, which are far quieter than conventional gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles, don't make enough noise at low speeds to warn walkers, bicyclists and the visually impaired, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday in a statement.

The proposed rule would require the cars to make additional noise at speeds under 18 miles per hour (29 kph). NHTSA says the cars make enough noise to be heard at higher speeds.

What's wrong with rolling down the window and screaming "move yer ass, jerk!!!"? The usual car driver's attitude to cyclists around Boston.

Or even better.....

Tins cans and some rope. Problem solved.

Or even better... ~ Martin in Mass.

Great excuse for someone with a sense of humor, and a copy of a certain You Tube video for good measure, to tag a certain car, maybe in a style that looks reminiscent of a few horns.

They're going about this in the wrong way. It's not so much the issue of noise, rather that the cars presently exist in the physical world while the pedestrians with headphones staring at their smart phones exist mostly in a virtual world. They need to add geo-location capability to the cars so that they can be made to appear in the pedestrian's virtual world - only then they will be noticed. The cars don't need to emit actual sound waves, those can be made in the pedestrian's earphones while the screen flashes in the direction of the car. The user can customize it to make a car sound like anything they want, such as a running horse perhaps. If the car actually hits them the phone can be made to vibrate so that the user realizes they may be hurt.

This is just an early stage incomplete implementation of the Borg world.

If the car actually hits them the phone can be made to vibrate so that the user realizes they may be hurt.

Twilight, I had to chuckle at your comments.

I saw a television segment last night where 4 girls gave up their iphones for 2 weeks. They struggled at times.

Working with teen-aged girls I had to came up with a rule: if you sit down to eat with your phone you'd better be feeding it.

On the other hand I find it extremely useful to work with people who are so closely tied communications-wise. Mention something to one of the group and everyone will know, even if they are half the way around the world. Want to know what they are up to? keeping an eye on them by opening up a couple tabs in a browser is disturbingly easy.

Great post twilight! Reminds me of when my wife and I were driving up the CA coast and she said, "Look it's the pacific ocean" and I replied, "Yeah, I can see it right here on the map."

Thanks, but I got to thinking more about this last night, and it's really a case of dealing with a minor symptom while being blinded to the real problem. In fact this is just another consequence of having gone "all in" on the automobile/car culture. Our cities and town are so heavily compromised for automobile transportation that dangerous interactions between pedestrians and cars are inevitable, and have been a reality for many decades. We accept vast levels of injury and death from this system, pedestrian and car accidents being just a part of it. So now we'll replace one type of propulsion system for another and suddenly there is a perceived issue of the cars being too quiet, so we apply the Band-Aid of making the cars artificially louder.

Well, how loud is a large US luxury car moving slowly in an urban setting compared to the background noise level? How about my little economy car coasting in neutral through a suburban street (happens daily)? In both cases the noise is primarily tire, wind and possibly brakes.

How about we ban cars from town and city centers and return those to bicycle and pedestrian traffic? Can we ever consider any situation that does not involve a car?

You did hear that Broadway, right through Times Square and down to 34th street has now been a Pedestrian Way for a couple years already, right? That's BROADWAY.. while yes, I know, you're talking about America, and I concede that a great many Americans don't really count Manhattan as wholly American territory.. (probably why I like it so much..)

Still, there are new pedestrian zones being created in cities all over the US and the world now, (Portland Or and Moscow, Russia are proposing a couple) as well as Bike and Walking Path Systems getting built and expanded. Streetcars proposals for my town are getting louder again.

These actions are not big enough and not coming fast enough yet.. but I find it unhelpfully extreme when comments make it sound as if Nothing is happening, either.

Bagged one of those while cycling the other day, couldn't understand what hit her. A driver actually stopped to ask if I was alight, got a hard landing on the road, but ignored the pedestrian - surprise!!

Maybe they need a 'Igothitbyacarandneedanambulance' app or an automatic 'callthenearestsolicitor(onlyworksintheusa)' app. Perhaps the likes of Porsch or Masarait etc could start up a new line in engine noises for EVs. Though I do wonder if the pedestrians will sue the noismakers for not having made enough noise to warn them over their high-volume music.


I see an opportunity here; customized sound apps for cars. Mine would be a jackass braying to high heaven. Perhaps they should make hiphop and giant subwoofers mandatory, like airbags; volume inversly proportional to speed.

Whatever happened to folks watching where they are going? What's next? Proximity alarms on fountains at malls? Shoelaces that scream if they come untied? What about the hearing impared? Perhaps cars could emit a foul odor a slower speeds...

...meanwhile, we spend billions on sound-reducing structures along roadways.

Shoelaces are so last century - shoes are Velcro now, and kids never learned to tie laces.

What's next? Perhaps an expensive device in every car wheel to generate an electronic warning if the tire pressure is low? Oh wait...

It may seem silly, but I can tell you that the tyre pressure monitoring system on my Chrysler has saved my sorry butt more than once. To maximize fuel efficiency, I would always fill my tires to their highest recommended ratings, but that might be in March when it's -20°C. A week later, the temperature shoots-up to +20°C, as it often does here on the coast, I'm doing a 100 kph down the highway and, bang, a blow-out. A replacement tire and rim could set me back $1,000.00; a blow-out that causes my vehicle to swerve violently into the path of an oncoming vehicle could very well cost me a whole lot more.

I never begrudge the money I spend on my personal safety or that of my passengers -- air bags, anti-lock brakes, traction/stability control, tire pressure monitoring, whatever it is you offer, count me in.


We had hassles with my wife's previous car. The sensors were damaged by a tire change, and kept going off. At least my latest vehicle tells you which tire. A few years back I had a slow leak, and had to test all four tires before figuring out which one was low. Used to have that issue with the door is ajar light. Try this one...no thats not it. It can be very frustrating, when this stuff doesn't work right.

I have a 300M Special, and the overhead console shows the the pressure readings of all four wheels in real-time. The only issue that I've had is when the technicians rotate the tires and forget to reset the sensors, then, like you, you have to hunt down the one that requires attention. I blew a tire on my LHS on two separate occasions (thankfully, I didn't lose steering control either time) and, looking back, I'm almost certain that it was due to over-inflation. It wasn't until I traded it in for my 300 that I realized just how much tire pressure can vary in response to changes in ambient air temperature and extended high-speed driving.


I worked around the EV-1s inside a vast engineering building with no windows. All you could hear with these things running around was the susurration of the tires on the linoleum. Outside, with the background noise of the city... with an electric car, there is nothing to hear. I've even had them sneak up on me on country dirt roads. The problem I have right now in the city is that I will be walking down the middle of a quiet alley and not realize that I have become rude: a driver in an electric car will have fallen in behind me, following patiently, and not tapped its horn... perhaps because I look like Father Time.

customized sound apps for cars.

Why not the sound of horse shoes and hooves hitting a cobblestone street? Clip-clop Clip clop.

It would destroy the aerodynamics - but at night project on a screen attached to the front of the car an image of a man waving a red flag and use the audio to shouting a warning to approaching motorists and pedestrians

My sugestion is the horn signal ti-du-di-li-du, ti-du-di-li-du, ti-du, ti-du, ti-du.


But make sure you don't drive it in Sweden, everyone will want to buy ice cream from you.

I would recommend that all vehicles be mandated to produce a minimum of 160 decibels...you know, for safety. ::grin::

Having a plugin, it already makes a simulated engine noise below 15mph or so. I guess these new rules are to up the volume. One of the attractions of electric vehicles is their quietness. But we have a lot of people who expect to be able to hear if something might be coming, so this sort of solution is unfortunately needed.

Just so they don't make it as loud as the backup alarm on a forklift.

I think some manufacturers are anticipating the "make noise" rule and are thusly pre-empting it. It's a dystopian direction of the future though...I despise noise pollution, and here they are making sure it lasts.

A thread like this is guaranteed to make jokingly comments. But on a serious note, I believe that when/if electric cars start taking over, we will in a while get used to them, and pick up looking as a new habit before crossing a street. Remember those days when you used to call a friend if you needed to ask something? Long time ago, now we just text them.

China Rice Imports Unsettle Market

For decades, China's booming rice production enabled it to sell far more rice than it bought. But the world's biggest consumer of the grain has become a major importer.

In 2012, the country bought a record 2.6 million tons of milled rice, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That was a sharp acceleration of a trend started in 2011, when China bought 575,000 tons. China had been a net importer of rice in just four of the previous 50 years.

"If this year's pace continues, the concern is whether the rest of the world will be able to make up for the shortage of China's rice demand," said Cheng Fang, a senior economist at the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO.

China’s Rising Soybean Consumption Reshaping Western Agriculture

Well . . . at least that is something we can sell them in exchange for all the manufactured goods from them.

NCDC Announces Warmest Year on Record for Contiguous U.S.

According to NOAA scientists, the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. for 2012 was 55.3°F, which was 3.2°F above the 20th century average and 1.0°F above the previous record from 1998. The year consisted of the fourth warmest winter, a record warm spring, the second warmest summer, and a warmer-than-average autumn. Although the last four months of 2012 did not bring the same unusual warmth as the first 8 months of the year, the September through December temperatures were warm enough for 2012 to remain the record warmest year, by a wide margin.

US oil production to grow at fastest rate ever

Driven by the shale boom, the United States in 2014 will hit its highest daily oil production level since 1988 and will grow oil output at the highest rate ever, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted Tuesday.

U.S. daily oil production, which averaged 6.4 million barrels a day in 2012, will surge 23 percent to average 7.9 million barrels a day in 2014, the administration said.

a-c: This is a perfect example of what we were discussing the other day. I'm not arguing whether their 23% increase prediction is correct or not. In fact, IMHO it can't be debated intellectually because no basis for that number is given in the article. Does it assume oil prices 20% high than today and 25% more rigs drilling? It doesn't say. If it did then one might say their prediction, based on those ASSUMPTIONS, might be reasonable. OTOH if one assumes $65/bbl oil and 20% fewer rigs drilling then it would be very difficult to believe that projection.

A discussion as to what assumptions may eventually prove to be true could be entertained. But debating an increase or decrease in US oil production without the context of a set of assumptions.

Rock, this is from the EIA's Short Term Energy Outlook

EIA expects that the Brent crude oil spot price, which averaged $112 per barrel in 2012, will fall to an average of $105 per barrel in 2013 and $99 per barrel in 2014. The projected discount of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil to Brent, which averaged $18 per barrel in 2012, falls to an average of $16 per barrel in 2013 and $8 per barrel in 2014, as planned new pipeline capacity lowers the cost of moving Mid-continent crude oil to the Gulf Coast refining centers.

Should answer your questions about price assumptions, at least.

Thanks a-c. But that leads to another question: they project those short term prices (although I'm not sure why Brent in the assumption) to be lower than what was behind recent increases in production. But they are projecting a decrease in the US basket of crude: "EIA expects that falling crude prices will help national average regular gasoline retail prices fall from an average $3.63 per gallon in 2012 to annual averages of $3.44 per gallon and $3.34 per gallon in 2013 and 2014, respectively."

But at least here's a reasonable point of discussion: why would we expect an increase in drilling and production in the face of declining oil prices? One may have a valid argument...or not. But this is a debatable point unlike just saying saying we'll increase production X% IMHO.

There was a talking head on MSNBC a few moments ago who said that oil would "go down to $70/bbl." They can kiss "miracle shale" goodbye at that level I'd imagine.

I do not have a feeling for how likely this increase will be. But IF US oil production increases by that amount over the next 24 months, I will predict that Henry Hub natural gas prices will not rise above $4/mcf in the same period. Again, only if oil production increases to 7.9 million bpd.

Although I only have only circumstantial evidence, it appears to me that wells being drilled for "tight oil" are also producing a lot of "associated gas". If this is true, then we may be in the unusual dynamic where high oil prices lead to more drilling which leads to lower natural gas prices -- at least in the continental US.

Interesting times!


"it appears to me that wells being drilled for "tight oil" are also producing a lot of "associated gas". "

But I thought most gas from tight oil wells at least in the Bakken is flared these days (and it makes the bakken appears as a bright spot in these recent NASA night sattelite pics), not the case ?

As to the 23% prediction, personnally I don't have enough hands on experience on data to judge, but it for sure sounds right in line with the current "US oil & gas production rennaissance" "propaganda" or PR push.

At least one to keep to bring it back in two years ...
(if anything still matters by then, and proper statistics are still available)

I suspect the combination of optmimism and apples to oranges here. The optimism part is obvious. The apples to oranges is all liquids (or maybe all liquids minus ethanol), versus a denominator of the same basket of oil, but which has/had more of the energy dense liquids in it.

The EIA is talking only about crude & condensate there, not all-liquids.

I'm not so sure, given how EIA defines crude oil:

Crude oil: A mixture of hydrocarbons that exists in liquid phase in natural underground reservoirs and remains liquid at atmospheric pressure after passing through surface separating facilities. Depending upon the characteristics of the crude stream, it may also include 1. Small amounts of hydrocarbons that exist in gaseous phase in natural underground reservoirs but are liquid at atmospheric pressure after being recovered from oil well (casing head) gas in lease separators and are subsequently comingled with the crude stream without being separately measured. Lease condensate recovered as a liquid from natural gas wells in lease or field separation facilities and later mixed into the crude stream is also included; 2. Small amounts of nonhydrocarbons produced with the oil, such as sulfur and various metals; 3. Drip gases, and liquid hydrocarbons produced from tar sands, oil sands, gilsonite, and oil shale.


But whatever it is they are talking about, they expect it to increase by 25% in two years. I suppose it's possible if capital and skilled labor were unlimited. But it's my understanding that those very limitations are already impacting the drilling that's happening today. How much more would then be needed to drill the number of wells required to increase production by 25%? And what would their decline rates be? And is it wiser to extract all that oil as quickly as possible just so it can deplete that much faster?

There is the "can they do it" aspect of this question and then there is the "should they do it" aspect.

I'm not so sure, given how EIA defines crude oil

There is nothing unusual about that definition. Same one they've has been using for years, if not decades.

The only thing unusual about that definition in my mind is that it isn't clear to me what the definition is. It sounds to me like it does include at least some NGLs. But the definition really misses the point which is can they increase production by 25% over two years regardless of whether its oil or oil equivalent. It's just a huge increase coming from just three areas, and that 25% increase will have to take into account ongoing declines from Alaska, so the actual increase from those fields will have to be something greater than 25%.

As I said, it might be possible with unlimited capital, drilling rigs, and skilled labor -- but all those things are in rather tight supply. And even if they had all those things, there is the even bigger question -- should they be pulling out all the stops to increase extraction rates when we know we will be facing shortages sometime in the future (unless you believe oil naturally regenerates). I worry about my son's future and I really would like to leave some of this stuff in the ground for him.

Where will the oil come from?

Central to this projected growth will be ongoing development activity in key onshore basins.  Drilling in tight oil plays in the Williston, Western Gulf, and Permian Basins is expected to account for the bulk of forecast production growth over the next two years.

So that's three places that will, together, increase production by 25% in two years. I'm guessing that can only happen with massive capital outlays. Will the money be there?

Community service? Big Brother? Another energy sink?

Google to bring free Wi-Fi to New York City

Google's ambitions to wire the world are expanding. The company announced on Tuesday that it will provide free Wi-Fi service to Chelsea, a New York City neighborhood where Google has its local headquarters.

In a joint press conference with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Senator Charles Schumer, Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) said it hoped to keep the tens of thousands of residents, and millions of tourists, in the area connected at all times when they're outdoors. Google also will be providing indoor coverage for public housing units in the area.

I wonder how the other ISPs and mobile providers in the area feel about this?

Think of how many will be killed by silent EV's! The Horror!

We have free WiFi for Telmex Infinitum customers in public places. I use it to scan what is happening on TOD some days, It has a free trial available for non customers and they can also buy access. Since Infinitum has a high, monopoly based, penetration I guess we are 1/2 way there.


RE: Energy Myths

Which of the following statements is true? The United States of America now has a 100-year supply of natural gas, thanks to the miracle of shale gas. By 2017, it will once again be the world’s biggest oil producer. By 2035, it will be entirely “energy-independent”, and free in particular from its reliance on Middle Eastern oil. Unless you’ve been dead for the past couple of years, you’ve been hearing lots of enthusiastic forecasts like this, but not one of them is true.

Those whoppers are nothing compared to those of Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of North Carolina:

To cut to the chase, here’s your takeaway idea: maybe oil is a renewable resource.
“The Russians for instance have always drilled oil as if it’s a renewable resource,” says Skvarla. “And so far they haven’t been proven wrong.

“There’s a lot of different scientific opinion on that.”

Yep. There’s just TONS of scientists out there figuring that maybe oil is like those trick cups Barbies used to drink from, where you tilt them and the stuff vanishes, and then it magically fills back up when you set it down. TONS of scientists.

Except oops, actually not.

(Scientific American). That is the same state that outlawed sea level rise greater than 8" by century's end.

There is little wonder that social scientists are studying The Origin of Assholes very seriously these daze.

Maybe oil is renewable, only the timescale if off? Hothouse planet with lots of atmospheric CO2, leads to lots of algae being buried.... Then tens of millions of years later (or maybe hundreds), a new species discovers it can get at the resulting oil by drilling.

Australia adds new colour to temperature maps as heat soars
Forecast temperatures are so extreme that the Bureau of Meteorology has had to add a new colour to its scale. It is a sign of things to come

Global warming is turning the volume of extreme weather up, Spinal-Tap-style, to 11. The temperature forecast for next Monday by Australia's Bureau of Meteorology is so unprecedented - over 52C - that it has had to add a new colour to the top of its scale, a suitably incandescent purple.

52C, that's a balmy 125.6F.

Boiling in Oz, freezing in Pakistan...reminds me of that old joke " If Mama Cass had shared half of her sandwich with Karen Carpenter they'd both be alive today".

Burning 'Deep Purple': Australia so hot new color added to index

Indicating that the worst may yet to come, Jones added that, "The air mass over the inland is still heating up - it hasn't peaked."

Climate scientists in Australia—with Jones among them—say the fires and the heat are unprecedented in scale and intensity, but that Australians should understand the destructive temperatures and ensuing fires across Tasmania and southern sections of the country are the new normal of runaway climate change...

...“Those of us who spend our days trawling – and contributing to – the scientific literature on climate change are becoming increasingly gloomy about the future of human civilization,’’ Liz Hanna, convener of the human health division at the Australian National University’s Climate Change Adaptation Network, told The Age in a separate interview.

‘‘We are well past the time of niceties, of avoiding the dire nature of what is unfolding, and politely trying not to scare the public," she said. "The unparalleled setting of new heat extremes is forcing the continual upwards trending of warming predictions for the future, and the timescale is contracting.’’

Prepare for impact...

Indicating that the worst may yet to come, Jones added that, "The air mass over the inland is still heating up - it hasn't peaked."


(PhysOrg.com) -- Half of the globe has warmed at least one half of one degree Fahrenheit (0.3 C) in the past 30 years, while half of that -- a full quarter of the globe -- warmed at least one full degree Fahrenheit (0.6 C), according to Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Ok, so far we haven't even passed a full degree Celsius, so what happens when, not if, we go past 2 degree Celsius of warming? How about at four or even six degrees, which some overly pessimistic climate scientists are saying might happen?


PwC: Supply Chains Threatened by Six-Degree Global Warming

Meanwhile, a separate PwC report says the world is heading for a six-degree rise in temperature by the end of the century. The PwC’s Low Carbon Economy Index 2012 says that governments’ ambitions to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius appear highly unrealistic. Companies can no longer assume the 2 degree increase as a default scenario, and investments in long-term assets and infrastructure, particularly in coastal and low-lying areas, need to address a more pessimistic outlook.

Then again maybe we're all really just a bunch of worry warts!


Sorry Global Warming Alarmists, The Earth Is Cooling

Climate change itself is already in the process of definitively rebutting climate alarmists who think human use of fossil fuels is causing ultimately catastrophic global warming. That is because natural climate cycles have already turned from warming to cooling, global temperatures have already been declining for more than 10 years, and global temperatures will continue to decline for another two decades or more.

Cool beans!

Two words: Heartland Institute.

I.e., ... Bull Sh*t

Forbes is hopeless.

I've always wondered what color the sky is on the planet they live on.

Great Pangaean Desert anyone?

I am reminded of the episode of Star Trek Enterprise where doctor Phlox explained how his people reacted after First Contact. They had a group of people who had already ruled out the possibility there could be other species in the galaxy. Then some of them was denying the fact, even as they were looking at the alien species they first encountered. Every time I STILL hear the earth has been cooling for the last ten years, I think about that.

"Climate scientists in Australia—with Jones among them—say [..] new normal of runaway climate change"
I'm sure that's not what those climate scientists are saying. That's just churnalism. Always be skeptical of claims in news outlets...

Sounds a bit unlikely to verify. I bet the southern hemisphere record is quite a bit below that. Now that the old Libyan 136F was thrown out -seems a new observer was reading the top rather than the bottom of the slide that measures the max (for a 7C error). The 134F from death valley is also suspect.

In any case, now I understand the origin of the headline "purple heatwave".

125.6F? Wow. I think that might kill me.

'Midnight Oil' are going to need to change their lyrics.




One of the better assessments

Have you noticed anything odd round your place lately? A fish you've never caught before. Unusual events. Weird weather. Well, I've certainly noticed something odd round my home.


With Subsea Compression Technology, Offshore Platforms Could Become Obsolete

OSLO – Lying at the bottom of a giant water-filled pit in western Norway, a thousand-tonne gas compressor is humming along, going through gruelling tests as engineers prepare it to change oil and gas production for good.

The compressor, a prototype for Royal Dutch Shell’s massive Ormen Lange natural gas field in the Norwegian Sea, will help make platform-free offshore production, the Holy Grail for oil firms, a reality within a decade.
 . . .
Shell has already spent $4.5 billion preparing for extraction activities in the Alaskan Arctic but has yet to complete a single well as it struggles to overcome political, regulatory and technological hurdles.

“Subsea compression in the Arctic reduces the risk because you can operate under ice and you’re not dependent on operating the facility in a very difficult environment,” Statoil’s subsea chief Bjoern Kaare Viken said. “It means no people offshore, no helicopter flights, no vessels.”

And servicing equipment hundreds of miles from the shore, deep under water is a huge challenge, particularly in case of new technology without a long track record.

What could possibly go wrong?!


Many people wonder how we can maintain wind turbines serviced in the future while only few wonder how the even more complex and unique (subsea) production platforms will be maintained. I wonder if this should actually be reversed...

I have to think that a large cranes, on trucks, ships or floating platforms could quite easily be powered (and built) with combinations of appropriate renewable energy sources. Biofuels, to say the least, but also it's hardly a stretch to consider using the power AT a windfarm, say, to support the maintenance needed there.

There is this implication that the 'BIG' tools and vehicles we use today could only be powered by and the result of Fossil Fuels, and I think it has been a wad of mental wool that we need to pull away from our eyes. It may be that, for the whole range of economic and energetic reasons that we toss around here, there will be rescalings of tools and generators and companies and systems, as our world reacts to new realities.. but to keep conflating useful powerful processes and products into only the world of Gas and Oil is a piece of flawed logic, I think.

It also brings to mind designs which would leverage the tower substructures in order to attach perhaps the respective legs of a construction crane, set up as a tripod structure, so it could service a series of turbines at the periphery of a circle. As with many systems, this might be quite expensive in the setup, but pay for itself over the years, being able to function I'd hope, through a broader range of weather and light conditions than a Ship-based solution would, and call for less operational power as part of that economic advantage.

Also, I have high hopes for the floating turbines, which would invite techniques for submerging, towing and relocating them or laying them down in the water to allow for lower energy and less costly, time-limited and dangerous maintenance needs.

Actually I'm pretty sure the entire remote power generation (think big mines), heavy construction, long haul shipping and air transport sectors' demand can be met by oil for a long, long time to come even if that sectors demand was to grow some. The problem of course would be that the economy in general would have to be strong enough to allow those industry segments to buy much more expensive diesel and still operate at a profit. But as you are well aware. differing visions of the shape of the transition ahead underlie much of the peak oil discussion--giving us the whole range of predictions from 'we are doomed' to 'near limitless energy supplies will keep the party rolling forever.'