Drumbeat: January 16, 2013

Al Qaeda attacks Algerian gas field, kill, kidnap foreigners

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Islamist militants attacked a gas production field in southern Algeria on Wednesday, kidnapping at least nine foreigners and killing two people including a French national during a dawn raid, local and company officials said.

The raid, claimed by an al Qaeda affiliate, came after Islamists had vowed to retaliate for France's military intervention in Mali, where its forces have been in action against al Qaeda-linked militants since last week.

The attack also raised fears that the French action could prompt further Islamist revenge attacks on Western targets in Africa, where al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb operates across borders in the Sahara desert, and in Europe.

OPEC Cuts Oil Output to 14-Month Low Amid Economic Uncertainty

OPEC reduced its production to the lowest level in 14 months as budget wrangles in the U.S., uncertain impact of stimulus measures in Japan and Europe’s struggle to boost growth cloud outlook for fuel demand.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cut output by 465,000 barrels a day in December to 30.4 million, the lowest since October 2011, led by a reduction in Saudi Arabia, the group said today in its monthly report, citing secondary sources. That’s 800,000 a day more than the average 29.6 million the group estimates it will need to provide this year. OPEC kept is 2013 global demand forecast unchanged.

OPEC sees weaker demand for its crude in 2013

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC expects demand for its crude to be lower than expected in 2013 because of higher supply from rival producers, indicating inventories could build up substantially even after a cut in output by top exporter Saudi Arabia.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' monthly report indicated world supply will comfortably outstrip demand in the first half of 2013, even after Riyadh cut output in December by almost 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) to fend off a supply overhang and defend prices well above $100 (62.56 pounds) a barrel.

Oil Demand Isn’t Growing as Fast This Year, U.A.E. Says

Oil markets have some excess supply and exporting nations are monitoring Europe’s debt crisis to gauge whether global consumption will expand as much as it did last year, the United Arab Emirates oil minister said.

The Middle Eastern country is pumping 2.6 million barrels of crude a day now and would like to supply as much as 3 million barrels a day this year if buyers need that much, the minister, Mohamed Al-Hamli, said at the World Future Energy Summit.

UAE sees no need to reduce oil output after Saudi cut

(Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates sees no need to cut oil production, the UAE's oil minister said on Wednesday, after Gulf OPEC ally Saudi Arabia slashed output in late 2012.

The world's top oil exporter cut its crude production by around 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) over the last two months of 2012, pointing to low demand at home and abroad.

Antrim says hydrocarbon leak disrupts 20 oilfields in North Sea

(Reuters) - Antrim Energy Inc said production at more than 20 oilfields in the northern North Sea were disrupted after a hydrocarbon leak was detected in one of the legs of the Cormorant Alpha platform.

The Cormorant Alpha platform, an export infrastructure system, handles more than 90,000 barrels per day of crude oil and is operated by Abu Dhabi National Energy Co.

No restart date for UK Brent oil, says TAQA

Abu Dhabi oil company TAQA said it had no restart date for oil output stopped after a leak at its North Sea Cormorant Alpha oil platform, linked into Britain's 20-field Brent system.

"TAQA is currently evaluating plans to restore the throughput of an estimated 80,000 bpd in the Brent pipeline, excluding any Cormorant Alpha production," the company said in a statement.

Oil Trades Near One-Week Low as Crude Inventories Rise

Oil traded near the lowest level in almost a week in New York after U.S. crude stockpiles increased and the World Bank cut its economic growth forecasts.

Futures were little changed after slipping the most in almost a month yesterday. U.S. crude supplies gained a second week and inventories rose to a record at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate, data from the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute showed. An Energy Department report today may show stockpiles climbed by 2.2 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg News survey. OPEC reduced its output to the lowest level in 14 months, a monthly report from the producer group showed.

“Supply in the U.S. is increasingly comfortable as their domestic production of oil and gas burgeons,” Christopher Bellew, a senior broker at Jefferies Bache Ltd. in London.

South Korea’s December LNG Imports Shrink 9.5% as Prices Rise

Shipments fell to 4.32 million metric tons from 4.77 million tons a year earlier, data on the Korea Customs Service’s website showed today. Still, the monthly volume was the second-biggest in 2012, after 4.64 million tons in February, and compared with 2.99 million tons in November. The average price paid per ton rose to $762.74 from $750.07 while the total cost of the purchases dropped to $3.29 billion, compared with $3.58 billion in the same period a year earlier, the data showed.

Natural gas, oil prices: why the long-term forecasts are wrong

Here's the short version of why forecasts of low long-term oil and natural gas prices are almost certainly wrong: It costs more than that to get the stuff out of the ground. Only two things could actually lead to low long-term prices: 1) Somebody could invent and deploy some genuinely brand new technology that makes it really cheap once again to get oil and gas out of the ground or 2) we could have a deep and grinding deflationary depression that brings demand for oil and natural gas down so much that prices collapse.

How balance of power in supplies has shifted as East eclipses West

While Middle Eastern crude was in the past typically shipped off to Europe or the US, the West now receives but a relative trickle of the oil making its way out of the Arabian Gulf. Tankers no longer take a sharp right as soon as they have passed through the Strait of Hormuz, but make their way through the Gulf to round the tip of India and into Asian waters. More than 85 per cent of Gulf oil finds its way to Asia, estimates the US energy information administration.

This massive shift in the consumer base haschanged the shape of Abu Dhabi's oil sector, as Asian players have pushed for inclusion. Japan's oil companies were the first to appear from the East, and have partnered with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) in its offshore production.

Former US energy chief calls for tougher sanctions against Iran

The United States should toughen sanctions on Iran targeting its nuclear programme, according to a former energy secretary.

"We should continue our policy of sanctions, strengthen them more and I think that's far better than military action which makes no sense," said Bill Richardson, a former New Mexico governor who served as energy secretary under Bill Clinton. "You see the moderate forces in the Iranian government that recognise that they have to negotiate being strengthened, and that's what we want."

Ahmadinejad says fighting sanctions against Iran requires shift from reliance on oil income

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s president says the country must move away from dependence on oil revenue to overcome Western sanctions that have slowed the economy and disrupted foreign trade.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that “structural changes” are needed in Iran’s economy to counter sanctions that have targeted crude oil exports. Iran has long depended on oil revenue for about 80 percent of its foreign currency revenue.

Chevron expands presence in South China Sea

(Reuters) - Chevron Corp has signed production-sharing contracts with Chinese offshore oil company CNOOC Ltd for two exploration blocks in the South China Sea, expanding its presence in the prospective oil and gas region.

Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, already has stakes in several exploration areas in China and holds operating interests in three deepwater blocks in the South China Sea.

Macquarie Buys U.K. Gas-Fed Power Plants in Bet Profits to Rise

Macquarie Group Ltd., Australia’s largest investment bank, has bought two natural gas-fed power stations in the U.K. in a bet that profit from burning the fuel will rise after three years of declines.

Icahn’s Stake Pushes Transocean Closer to Partnership

Carl Icahn’s new stake in Transocean Ltd. (RIG) may raise pressure on the world’s largest offshore driller to put some of its rigs into a tax-advantaged partnership as the billionaire seeks to boost his investment’s value.

Transocean’s announcement this week that Icahn bought 1.56 percent of its shares and sought regulators’ permission to own more than 3 percent stirred a debate in the investment community as the activist investor known for shaking up companies remained silent about his intentions. He’s jumping in less than two weeks after Transocean agreed to pay the U.S. $1.4 billion to settle its liability in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

EPA changed course after oil company protested

WEATHERFORD, Texas (AP) — When a man in a Fort Worth suburb reported his family's drinking water had begun "bubbling" like champagne, the federal government sounded an alarm: An oil company may have tainted their wells while drilling for natural gas.

At first, the Environmental Protection Agency believed the situation was so serious that it issued a rare emergency order in late 2010 that said at least two homeowners were in immediate danger from a well saturated with flammable methane. More than a year later, the agency rescinded its mandate and refused to explain why.

Now a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with company representatives show that the EPA had scientific evidence against the driller, Range Resources, but changed course after the company threatened not to cooperate with a national study into a common form of drilling called hydraulic fracturing. Regulators set aside an analysis that concluded the drilling could have been to blame for the contamination.

Enbridge Needs To 'Learn About Public Relations'

Federal Liberal leadership candidate Marc Garneau says Enbridge has not treated the people of British Columbia respectfully in its push to build the Northern Gateway pipeline.

"Enbridge needs to learn about public relations. You don't come in and treat people that way," said Garneau in an interview On the Coast with Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio One in Vancouver.

Ecuadorean tribe will 'die fighting' to defend rainforest

In what looks set to be one of the most one-sided struggles in the history of Amazon forest conservation, an indigenous community of about 400 villagers is preparing to resist the Ecuadorean army and one of the biggest oil companies in South America.

The Kichwa tribe on Sani Isla, who were using blowpipes two generations ago, said they are ready to fight to the death to protect their territory, which covers 70,000 hectares of pristine rainforest.

Petroamazonas – the state-backed oil company – have told them it will begin prospecting on 15 January, backed by public security forces.

ExxonMobil Knew in 1984 MTBE Would Contaminate Ground

ExxonMobil Corp. knew that incidents of groundwater contamination would triple if it added a chemical to gasoline that makes the fuel burn more cleanly, a lawyer for New Hampshire said at the opening of an $816 million trial.

ExxonMobil and Citgo Petroleum Corp. are the last holdouts in the suit by New Hampshire alleging oil companies knew the chemical would contaminate groundwater. The state court trial, which began yesterday in Concord, pits the New Hampshire’s environmental claims against assertions by companies that they were simply complying with federal pollution standards.

The end of the E-Cat story? Andrea Rossi loses supporters for his "cold fusion" device

Mr Passerini's blog, titled "22 steps of love" has been the main focus of support for the E-Cat in Italy up to now. He says in his last post, titled "ad maiora" that "Some time ago, I wrote that, after that two years would have passed from the date of January 14 2011, I would quit in any case in the absence of official and certain announcements on the reality of the E-Cat." Passerini states that he will be waiting patiently and "will return when the news that we have been waiting for during the past two years will arrive"

The closing of Mr. Passerini's blog comes after that, in November of last year, another of Mr. Rossi's supporters, Mr. Paul Story of "eCatNews" declared that he would close his blog because, "with scant hope of Rossi delivering on his promises, I find myself wondering why I would waste any more time on him. If he is committing fraud, he should be pursued by the police. Interest in the man or the subject is now relegated to the level of curiosity, not dedication."

Earlier on, in April 2012, Mr. Sterling Allen of the blog PESN (Pure Energy Systems) had been appalled at Rossi's behavior and had stated, "I apologize to anyone that I've encouraged to try and do business with Andrea Rossi, and I retract my endorsement" even though he later continued to cover announcements about the E-Cat.

Better Place CEO leaves in electric car firm's latest shake-up

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The new chief executive officer of electric car venture Better Place has stepped down just four months after a company shake-up put him in charge, officials said on Wednesday.

The news of Evan Thornley's departure is the latest sign that investors are unhappy with the California-based operator's sluggish sales.

France calls for more green investments at Abu Dhabi energy summit

The French president Francois Hollande today called for pumping more investments in renewable energy projects to prepare for the post-oil era and to avoid global warming and very high oil prices.

"If we don't spend ... we will have a catastrophe," Mr Hollande told the opening session of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

Private Equity Flees Clean Energy as Investment Falls

Private equity companies and venture capitalists including Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Braemar Energy Ventures reduced renewable-energy investment to the lowest since 2006 as once-promising companies failed or were sold at a loss.

Private equity and venture-capital investors provided $5.8 billion to solar, biofuel, wind and smart-grid startups worldwide last year, down 34 percent from 2011, according to an annual ranking by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The decline was part of an 11 percent drop to $268.7 billion in total investment for renewable energy last year from a record $302.3 billion the year before.

UK energy effort looks to the Emirates

Britain is looking to the UAE to help steer its £200 billion (Dh1.18 trillion) push into renewable energy.

The United Kingdom's massive push into renewable energy will draw heavily on investments from the UAE and other Gulf countries, said the country's energy minister in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

1st Part of Offshore Wind Power Line Moves Ahead

WASHINGTON — An audacious plan to lay a multibillion-dollar wind power transmission spine under the seabed from southern Virginia to the New York City area will take a step forward on Tuesday with an announcement of plans for the first leg, a 189-mile segment running from Jersey City to a spot south of Atlantic City.

Breaking New Ground on Grid Rules

Among the “firsts” being tried by the Atlantic Wind Connection, the venture seeking to build an electric transmission line from southern Virginia to northern New Jersey, is negotiating the regulatory system. The problem is that the cable, which would be buried under the seabed, is what grid officials call a “multidriver project,” or a project that is undertaken for more than one reason — something that those officials have little experience with.

The proposed backbone, first outlined publicly in October 2010, is intended to link future wind farms far offshore, sparing them the expense and regulatory problems of bringing power lines all the way to shore individually, and to move power to land-based sources. The project’s backers, which include Google and other prominent investors, argue that the buried offshore spine, impervious to storms, could also come in handy in an emergency, providing a backup for hospitals and police stations and restarting power plants in blacked-out areas.

Germany warms to China tie-up on solar energy

Germany wants to grow the global solar market with the help of China, the country that has plunged its solar panel industry into crisis.

At Last, the Straw Bale House Is a … Home

The night we finished building it, we all sat on the floor of Allison Vanlonkhuyzen’s straw bale home and ate chili with her. Our four months of hard work volunteering for the nonprofit group Community Rebuilds were over.

She’s making her fashion statement by reducing, reusing and recycling

Armed with an eye for style and a heart for the environment, Charlotte Latin senior Alexis Giger launched a do-it-yourself blog, ecouturieracg.wordpress.com, in September, aimed at “reducing your environmental impact fashionably.”

The idea was sparked by the ecology unit in her biology class last year, she said, which covered issues like peak oil, deforestation and habitat destruction. “I started thinking about what I could do to stop the wastefulness in my immediate community,” she said. “It has changed the way I look at basic everyday activities and how I can change little things to reduce waste.”

Army Corps' Eco-Disaster in Valley

Absurd, unnecessary social engineering and possibly illegal environmental tactics — that's what some activists and politicians are calling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' surprise destruction before Christmas of more than 40 acres of prime wildlife and vegetative habitat five miles north of the Getty Center in the Sepulveda Dam Basin.

Facing increasing criticism for bulldozing a cherished bird habitat and wetlands ecosystem spanning 40 football fields — in a city where most wetlands were long ago destroyed — Corps officials insisted the federal flood-control agency had no choice, in part because cruising gay men and homeless campers had flocked there and endangered the public.

Fighting Fires: You're Doing It Wrong

"We're losing homes in fires because homes are being put into hazardous conditions," said Jon Keeley, a fire ecologist with the U.S Geological Survey (USGS). "The important thing is not to blame it on the fire event, but instead to think about planning and reduce putting people at risk."

Thanks to work by Keeley and his colleagues, researchers now know techniques that work for firefighters in the Colorado mountains won't help Californians battling wind-driven wildfires in the chaparral.

Study: Global warming means more wildfires

The water content of Colorado’s snowpack and the timing of the spring runoff are changing, which could pose major challenges for the state’s water supplies and farmers, said Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University and co-author of the portion of the assessment addressing Colorado and the Southwest.

The Southwest, including Colorado, will see significantly declining snowpack, increasing numbers of wildfires directly affecting communities, and threats to public health caused by spiking summer temperatures and disruptions in electricity and water supply, according to the assessment’s regional outlook.

China Lets Media Report on Air Pollution Crisis

BEIJING — The Chinese state news media on Monday published aggressive reports on what they described as the sickening and dangerous air pollution in Beijing and other parts of northern China, indicating that popular anger over air quality had reached a level where Communist Party propaganda officials felt that they had to allow the officially sanctioned press to address the growing concerns of ordinary citizens.

End Near? Doomsday Clock Holds at 5 'Til Midnight

The clock is a symbol of the threat of humanity's imminent destruction from nuclear or biological weapons, climate change and other human-caused disasters. In making their deliberations about how to update the clock's time this year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists considered the current state of nuclear arsenals around the globe, the slow and costly recovery from events like Fukushima nuclear meltdown, and extreme weather events that fit in with a pattern of global warming.

"2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States, marked by devastating drought and brutal storms," the letter says. "These extreme events are exactly what climate models predict for an atmosphere laden with greenhouse gases."

UN scientist links heatwave to climate change

The United Nations' chief climate scientist says there is no doubt last week's extreme heat in Australia is part of a global warming trend.

Big Chill vs. Global Warming: What's Going On?

The recent, rare snow in Jerusalem and parts of Lebanon, along with freezing temperatures for Southern California have not nixed the reality of climate change. The planet is warming, and chilled weather doesn't negate that fact, say climate experts.

In fact, such "rare" storms are expected in a warming world.

At a Climate Protest, Science and Religion

With record-breaking global temperatures in 2012, severe droughts and several storms and hurricanes on the East Coast, some members of the American clergy are saying that human decisions that contribute to the extreme weather associated with climate change can no longer be left in the hands of politicians.

Promoting an awareness of climate change and the role of humans as stewards of the earth has become a popular theme among progressive religious congregations. Even the climate skeptics in their ranks, some said, are starting to realize that something strange is going on.

Climate Scientist Backs Bill to Curb Emissions

Michael E. Mann, a prominent climatologist at Penn State, has thrown his support behind an effort to get Pennsylvania to do more to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions.

Climate change inaction the fault of environmental groups, report says

In a research paper, due to be presented at a Harvard forum next month, scholar Theda Skocpol in effect accuses the DC-based environmental groups of political malpractice, saying they were blind to extreme Republican opposition to their efforts.

Environmental groups overlooked growing opposition to environmental protections among conservatives voters and, underestimated the rising force of the Tea Party, believing – wrongly, as it turned out – they could still somehow win over Republican members of Congress through "insider grand bargaining".

Will Australia become uninhabitable?

Having been the "lucky country", Australia could be turned into the unluckiest country of all by Mother Nature. There's no such thing as outside air conditioning and the higher the temperature, the greater the evaporation of the limited water resources Australia possesses. Australia's population has more than doubled since the second World War to a figure approaching 23 million. Jared Diamond in his book Collapse reckoned Australia had a sustainable capacity of around 8 million. He could have been prophetic for a reason he did not cite in his text.

The experts I referred to earlier made one further observation. They said there will be huge winners and losers as a result of climate change. However, it is too early to identify which nation falls into which category as computer modelling cannot handle all the complexities involved in regional predictions. What interests me is the response of the US and China in curbing their emissions if Australia is the fall guy. Getting the commitment of your own population to solve another country's problem is a tricky exercise. But the debate should start now.

Antarctica Glacier's Retreat 'Unprecedented'

Like a plug in a leaky dam, little Pine Island Glacier holds back part of the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet, whose thinning ice is contributing to sea level rise.

In recent decades, Pine Island Glacier's rapid retreat raised fears that the glacier could "collapse," freeing the ice sheet it buffers to flow even more rapidly into the southern seas. The West Antarctic Ice contributes 0.15 to 0.30 millimeters per year to sea level rise.

Burning Fuel Particles Do More Damage to Climate Than Thought, Study Says

The tiny black particles released into the atmosphere by burning fuels are far more powerful agents of global warming than had previously been estimated, some of the world’s most prominent atmospheric scientists reported in a study issued on Tuesday.

NASA: 2012 Was 9th Hottest Year on Record Worldwide

Last year was the ninth hottest year for the globe since 1880, according to new data released by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) today (Jan. 15).

Of the nine hottest years on record, eight have come since the year 2000, with 2005 and 2010 sharing the dubious title of hottest year on record. The new data reveal the alarming, long-term trend of global warming caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, climate scientists said.

The new OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report is out this morning with the OPEC crude oil production numbers for December. There are three links up top taken from this report.

The big changes from last month were Iraq down 197 kb/d to 3,011 kb/d, Nigeria up 137 kb/d to 2,019 kb/d, Saudi Arabia down 421 kb/d to 9,211 kb/d and all OPEC was down 464 kb/d to 30,365 kb/d.

OPEC Crude Only in kb/d. The last data point is December 2012.

OPEC Crude Only

Ron P.

Looks like drops in Jan. are a common theme.

I have be gone a while. Can you give me the executive summary of where we are on the never ending plateau? It seems like we are holding onto some sort of balance at the current price.

The last data point I have from the EIA is September 2012. The data for October is due out in 5 to 10 days. World C+C production is supposed to be up slightly in October. But using the September data world C+C is up 846 kb/d from May 2005 and we are down 1,041 kb/d from the peak in April 2012.

Most of the reporting agencies are reporting that all liquids production will be up from .8 to 1.1 mb/d in 2013 with almost all of that increase coming from the USA. I expect US production to be up that much in 2013 but the rest of the world will not hold steady. The rest of the world will be down more than the US is up. Well, that is my opinion anyway, for what it's worth.

Ron P.

hey ron

did you notice that most recent ND monthly numbers for Bakken production are down?

sept. 2012 662996 bpd 4634 wells producing
oct 2012 684165 bpd 4795 wells producing
nov 2012 669091 bpd 4910 wells producing

that's 2% more wells producing 2% less oil.

Yes there were several posts on that on January 11th, the day North Dakota updated their data base.
Bakken decline posts on Drumbeat

Ron P.

Ron, you graph shows the fascinating history of OPEC production over the last decade.

First, the rise in production as a result of steadily rising prices. Not sure what caused the production dip in 2007 (OPEC quotas?). Then the run up in 2008 due to record prices followed by a sharp drop in 2009 caused by collapsing prices. Then rising prices and OPEC cheating causing incremental production increases in 2010. Then the Libyan civil war and the failure of Saudi Arabia to make up for the lost production causing 1 million barrels/day decline in 2011. Very high prices in 2012 leading to another production peak. And finally, the production drop over the last few months. which could be caused by depletion as prices have not dropped by a significant amount during this period.

The 2007 drop was almost all Saudi Arabia. The decline actually started in 2006. That was before AFK Ph 1,((Abu Hadriya; Fadhili; Khursaniyah), Shaybah Ph 2 and Khurais Ph 1 came on line. They were producing flat out the whole time but were in decline until all that new oil came on line.

Ron P.

Lets play "tie these 2 together" with oh say the famous Stuxnet.


Two U.S. power companies reported infections of malware during the past three months ... In one case, the industrial control system at a power generation facility was infected with "common and sophisticated malware" apparently through an employee's USB drive, according to the ICS-CERT Monitor for October to December 2012.


The most recent shutdown occurred Dec. 19 after a valve failed to open during plant startup. Officials say that temporarily interrupted the water supply to one of the plant's two reactors.

Did the valve not open because of malware on the PLC?

Someone beyond little 'ole me is concerned:

The theme of "Man is not responsible enough for Fission power due to the failure modes of Fission power" just keeps on being shown to be true. We know that malware driven industrial failures have happened in the past.

Software supplied to run a Russian pipeline was deliberately planned to go haywire, causing the biggest non-nuclear explosion the world had ever seen

Hi Eric,

My first post here to The Oil Drum, so please be gentle. I'm fairly new to the entire energy/environment/economy blogosphere. Much to learn.

Regarding nuclear, I believe I've gotten a pretty good overview on the pros and cons. One of the things I haven't seen addressed tho, by those who would like to essentially shut it down, is how will the knowledge base for the technology be perpetuated if there is no industry to support it?

So, for example, how will the current sites be cleaned up, as the skilled workers are phased out? If newer reactor designs were to actually prove useful in waste reduction/reuse/mitigation, is that something that we should at least consider? Ditto for newer reactor designs that might actually be able to use Thorium, or be able to generate electricity at points well below meltdown temperatures, or be able to utilize passive cooling?

I'm not sure nuclear makes sense, and I'm not sure it doesn't, but given the fact we've got a lot of stuff around that needs attention (the weapons facilities seem to be the really nasty ones), how will we staff the cleanup if we don't have a technology base?

Curious on your thoughts.

Tom Herrera
Grayslake, IL

how will the knowledge base for the technology be perpetuated if there is no industry to support it?

I'm guessing the Government based spending would continue to keep it propped up via it being a "go to" power source for the Navies of the world.

So, for example, how will the current sites be cleaned up, as the skilled workers are phased out?

How do workers in many dangerous/expensive jobs become skilled now? Training? Simulators? Why would that be an invalid choice?

If newer reactor designs were to actually prove useful in waste reduction/reuse/mitigation, is that something that we should at least consider? Ditto for newer reactor designs that might actually be able to use Thorium, or be able to generate electricity at points well below meltdown temperatures, or be able to utilize passive cooling?

And how do these magical designs address failure modes like Human on Human violence, asymetrical warfare or things like malware in the control systems? How do these new magical designs prevent Corporate corruption or a willingness to avoid doing what is proper in the name of the Corporate bottom line? How about sleeping security guards? How do these magical designs get deployed and used in, say, North Korea?

As you are new, you may not have heard my position that Man is a flawed creature, Man creates flawed objects, and the failure modes of Fission are bad enough that Man at this time in human development is just not responsible enough to deploy Fission power.

Nuclear makes an enormous sense. Problem is the accident-hype around it and people's irrationality in judging risk.

When a lake is so toxic from processing Nuclear material a Human will die after 1 hour standing at the lake's shore it's nice to know the pro-nuclear people call pointing such out 'hype' and 'an irrational concern'.

Rather than the biosphere tragedy that it is. Their moral failing I guess.

Hanford and Lake Karachay (there are probably others) were the result of early development of nuclear weapons systems. They are not the result of the use of peaceful, civilian nuclear power. Chernobyl is currently habitable, as is Fukushima. Three Mile Island never was a problem to start with.

If any currently tainted sites (especially Hanford and Lake Karachay) are to be cleaned up it would be ideal to have a better way to do it than we currently have (burying it). The only way to get there is to continue to develop the technologies for the treatment of nuclear wastes, and the best industry to do that is the nuclear industry itself.

Disclosure: I am not employed by, nor do I have any vested interests in, the nuclear power industry.

Chernobyl is currently habitable, as is Fukushima.

And yet government set exclusion zones beg to differ. But if your scale of safety says Chernobyl/Fukushima are habitable why are you even worried about fission waste?

Disclosure: I am not employed by, nor do I have any vested interests in, the nuclear power industry.

Why not disclose your plans to live at either Fukushima or Chernobyl as I'm guessing land values there are low due to the not-as-well-informed-as-you not know about how habitable either site is? You should be able to make a killing in the land market!

Based on what I've learned about low level radioactivity, I wouldn't be opposed to visiting either Chernobyl or Fukushima. Since the governments say I can't go there I guess I won't be anytime soon, but for at least a while Ukraine was allowing some tourism into Chernobyl. I'll go see what I can find out about why they stopped. I believe both Ukraine and Belarus are still considering repopulating the area. I'll see what I can find out about that too.

There's a really good documentary on Chernobyl, available on pbs.org. It's entitled Radioactive Wolves. After watching it a couple of times I came to the conclusion we shouldn't repopulate the area. Not because of any serious radiation hazard, but because not having humans around has done wonders for the ecosystem! Take a look.

Doubt I'll ever be able to make a killing land speculating on either location. But then again, I'm not a land speculator in any location.

The point I'm trying to make above is the need for further discussion on the effects (or non-effects) of low level radioactivity. There appears to be a growing body of evidence that low level radiation is minimally, if at all, harmful to much of anything. No debate on high level radiation - it's bad and one needs to do something about it.

It kind of makes sense, though, that low levels would be something biological systems had adapted to. There are various types of radiation all around us. If cells had not evolved a coping mechanism life would have been doomed eons ago, I would think.

Mystical Templar,

Your first posted indicated you were agnostic about nuclear. Subsequent replies make it seem you've memorised the book of nuclear advocacy.

It is not safe to live in the most contaminated regions near Chernobyl or Fukushima and it never will be in your lifetime.

It seems like every 2-3 weeks we get a flood of pro-nuke evangelizing. They're out in force today...

Let's take up an offering to buy nuke-dood some land at Chernobyl so nuke-dood can live a low-risk life for the remainder of what will be a very shortened life?


"...for the remainder of what will be a very shortened life?"

This might actually be going a bit far. A single, older human might not see a whole lot of trouble...but as a matter of time, after a few generations of constant high exposure...especially exposure of children - you've got a hell of a problem.


"Not because of any serious radiation hazard, but because not having humans around has done wonders for the ecosystem! "

This is what keeps me on the fence with nuclear power...they make quite pretty nature preserves when they blow. The problem is when they build them next to cities or cities build next to them - they should all have a limited development zone established around them so that when they blow and the area has to be evacuated, there will be a controlled amount of people displaced.

Major Study: Exposure to Low-Level Radiation Can Cause Leukemia

I only know what I read in the scientific journals.

That is why I don't think Cow Farts cause climate change.


I posted downstream a link to the Radiological Society of North America: The Linear No-Threshold Relationship Is Inconsistent with Radiation Biologic and Experimental Data. Seems like a reasonably credible scientific journal.

Took a look at your link, and followed it through to The Japan Times article.

I guess it all comes down to perspective and one's own internal sense of cost/risk. I guess when I originally starting looking at the Chernobyl stuff a while back I was expecting to find very large numbers, on the order of tens of thousands, of cancers and other radiation related risks. As Eric pointed out, some sources still claim that. Given the response to the accident I figured the numbers must be exceedingly large.

The article's numbers: 100,645 people in the study and follow up. 137 contracted leukemia, of which 79 were chronic. Of those who contracted cancer, the study concluded 16% were due to radiation. So I think that's what, 22 people, right?

Don't get me wrong. Every case is a tragedy. However, in the big picture, of whether we ought to pursue fission or not, the numbers in this particular article seem to me to be reasonable in the cost/risk/benefit analysis. I'll have to dig some more, but I'm still wondering if perhaps we aren't over-reacting to these accidents?

Definitely a judgement call, to be sure.

I guess it all comes down to perspective

And how is one to gain this? By listening to people like in England who were willing to replace the bones of the dead with broomsticks to be rid of evidence of a nuclear risk WHILE telling a tale that there are no problems in fission?

I'm still wondering if perhaps we aren't over-reacting to these accidents?

And perhaps you are over concerned about this global warming thing.

And how is one to gain this? By listening to people like in England who were willing to replace the bones of the dead with broomsticks to be rid of evidence of a nuclear risk WHILE telling a tale that there are no problems in fission?

Ain't run across that one yet. I think I've honestly been questioning my own questioning. I'm not sure I can do better than that.

And perhaps you are over concerned about this global warming thing.

Oh, I definitely hope so.


mortuary technicians replaced human thigh bones with broom stick handles

That's nasty. On so many levels!

they make quite pretty nature preserves when they blow.

If one considers less overall animal life, shortened lifespans of the creatures, smaller brainsizes in the case of birds - then sure, things are being "preserved".

The smaller brainsizes thing sounds like junk science, like the hereditary mutations of butterflies of Fukushima. Then there is more animal life when humans evacuate. Somewhat shortened average life spans should be correct, however ecosystems won't be that impacted of a little more frequent random deaths. The number of animals will not be very impacted, since if one dies, there is more food for the remaining.

The smaller brainsizes thing sounds like junk science,

You should direct your Junk Science letters to such junk institutes as the University of South Carolina and the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority.

See http://cricket.biol.sc.edu/chernobyl/Chernobyl_Research_Initiative/Summa...

Chernobyl Abnormalities

A few examples of abnormal development in birds from Chernobyl

Morphological abnormalities have been widely reported in the birds of the chernobyl region.

For more information see:

Møller, A.P., T.A. Mousseau, F. de Lope, and N. Saino. 2007. Elevated frequency of abnormalities in barn swallows from Chernobyl. Biology Letters of the Royal Society, 3: 414-417. (pdf)

Møller, A. P., A. Bonisoli-Alquati, G. Rudolfsen, and T.A. Mousseau. 2011. Chernobyl birds have smaller brains. PLoS One 6(2): e16862. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016862 (pdf)

Møller, A. P., and T. A. Mousseau. 2003. Mutation and sexual selection: A test using barn swallows from Chernobyl. Evolution, 57: 2139-2146. (pdf)

Møller, A. P. and T. A. Mousseau . 2001. Albinism and phenotype of barn swallow of barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) from Chernobyl. Evolution, 55: 2097-2104. (pdf)

Chernobyl birds have smaller brains (PDF)

Conclusion/Significance: Low dose radiation can have significant effects on normal brain development as reflected by brain size and therefore potentially cognitive ability.

I watched a long multi-part documentary on wildlife in Chernobyl on YouTube. The field mice have done well. They look healthy and happy. Of course, they have migrated in from outside over time. All the mice in the zone were killed by fallout.

The barn swallows have done poorly. By population size and measures like asymmetrical wings radiation has affected them far worse than the field mice.

One theory is that the swallows are migrants while the mice are permanent residents. The swallows hatch and grow to maturity far from Chernobyl and fly in for the season, so there is no driver for the chicks to develop radiation resistance.

In nature there is no free lunch, and if the mice are better at coping with radiation, they are probably worse off somewhere else, like lifespan, but the documentary didn't go into that.

Undertow and aardvark,

Herein lies the rub. Møller appears to have an agenda against nuclear power, while a competing scientist, Robert Baker, definitely has an agenda in favor of it. Honestly, they both seem credible to me - credentialed, published professionals. Here is an article summarizing their differences. It bears on the ingestion issue under discussion in this thread. Baker's chosen species is bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus), an animal that appears to be particularly susceptible to consuming and retaining radiation in the environment.

The barn swallows ain't doing so hot, while the bank moles seem fine. Or not. Depending on who you believe.

Hi aardvark, I've watched that Youtube video as well. The fact remains that studies on the biological impacts of the Chernobyl are few and far between. From what I understand the necessary funding was never really there and in many cases was actively discouraged... I wonder why?

In any case I wasn't going to participate in this discussion but decided to make one exception by posting this link from CNN just this morning: BTW, not too shabby for a MSM article.


In Chernobyl, Mammals Tread Lightly Through Radiation Zones
Twenty-six years after the disaster, not all species have been impacted the same. Wolves, for example, seem to be unaffected.

The scientists mentioned in that article have published a paper, unfortunately behind a pay wall.


Assessing effects of radiation on abundance of mammals and predator–prey interactions in Chernobyl using tracks in the snow

Anders Pape Møllera, Corresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author,
Timothy A. Mousseaub

a Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, CNRS UMR 8079, Université Paris-Sud, Bâtiment 362, F-91405 Orsay Cedex, France
b Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208,

At the end of the day, the glib superficial comments of the pro nuclear proponents who continue to claim that the area surrounding Chernobyl is some sort of ecological paradise, have zero scientific legs to stand on. What the studies that have been done to date have shown is that at the very least all is not as well as we'd like to think. The effects are at times subtle and quite complex but certainly not completely benign.

To claim that the consequences of a Nuclear accident such as Chernobyl or Fukshima is a risk we should all accept so we can continue with the status quo only convinces me more that those who hold such views are not yet behaving like the responsible sensible adults I would like to share this planet with. I sincerely hope they grow up someday, preferably before it is too late!

Really? Is intergenerational genomic instability junk science?


"More recently, the progeny of irradiated cells have been shown to exhibit an enhanced death rate and loss of reproductive potential that persists for many generations and possibly indefinitely in established cell lines (Seymour et al., 1986; Gorgojo and Little, 1989; Little et al., 1990; Seymour and Mothersill, 1992; Brown and Trott, 1994; Mothersill et al., 1998)."

From a more humanistic, less empirical perspective, and just as a matter of personal observation, engineering and procedural standards and practices have degenerated so rapidly over the last half century, and particularly in the last decade, that we really kind of need to start shutting stuff down, taking it apart, and figuring out what the hell went wrong. A Post Incident Report on failure modes of human civilization is long overdue.

Hallo Catalyzt,

A little further down, same study:

Furthermore, when compared to in vitro studies, the in vivo data showed less damage per cell and fewer cells demonstrating chromosomal instability. This difference can be attributed largely to the cellular defence mechanisms that have evolved to recognize and remove aberrant cells. [emphasis added].

Very next sentence:

At present, the mechanism of induction of instability by ionizing radiation is not fully understood nor is it clear whether all endpoints reflect a common mechanism.

I add these not to be confrontational, but because, in assessing radiation affected areas of Chernobyl in particular, there seems to be robust holistic and systemic adaptation to active ionizing radiation on at least some level. Inconsistent across phyla and perhaps even within genera, but the adaptations do appear. Across the ecosystem as a whole the appearance of gross morphological deformities appears limited.

P.S. Mind you, not that I'm really in much disagreement with you on

From a more humanistic, less empirical perspective, and just as a matter of personal observation, engineering and procedural standards and practices have degenerated so rapidly over the last half century, and particularly in the last decade, that we really kind of need to start shutting stuff down, taking it apart, and figuring out what the hell went wrong.

Knowledge transmission seems to be something home sapiens just hasn't mastered well yet. *Sigh*. Puts a real hole in my idea of moving towards a more complex, energy-dense nuclear infrastructure in the face of declining net energy. :(

Que? Knowledge transmission we master really, really well. And we have increasing net energy for the forseeable future.

"Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way round, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise."
— Adolf Hitler

Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible

Albert Einstein


I am pretty agnostic about nuclear. I'm relaying some of the pro-nuclear points here, in particular, because I'm looking for the counterpoints. I'm not overly happy with the counterpoints I've gotten on some of the anti-nuclear sites.

Buried within my responses has been what drove me to rethink nuclear in the first place. Climate change and energy needs. Believe it or not I'm actually considering everything folks are saying. I'd like to think my responses have been at least thoughtful and respectful, and have addressed the points folks have raised. I hope folks will continue to respond.

At this point my main perspective is 1) we're running out of fossil fuels (not an unknown issue on TOD!) and 2) if we do burn what's left we'll scorch the planet beyond recognition. Which has lead me to 3) I don't see how renewables can take up the slack (yet).

That got me to thinking about nuclear. Heaven knows it's not the best solution in the world. My question is, is it the worst? Can we somehow live with it? What is the better solution?

Everything that Eric Blair has said has been useful input for me. I'm currently considering his idea of a non-baseload world. More on that later tho.

The better solution is to live within our means. We do not need much of what we use electricity for. Only a very sick culture would split the atom to boil water to spin a turbine to run hair dryers.


Okay, hope you won't mind. I'll expand on the low energy thread in this reply.

I guess my issue with the concept of living within our means is how does this get defined? My thought is any potential solution to our energy/environment paradox will be most easily implemented if it has some level of appeal to a lot of folks. So having enough energy to increase/maintain standards of living seems, to me, inherently more likely to be accepted than limits placed (arbitrarily? by fiat?) on said means.

I'm painfully aware of the fact that we cannot continue to grow our energy use (or our population) at an exponential rate. Al Barlett's YouTube video is still a classic, and heck, Do the Math just takes that and runs with it.

I'm not sure I've got any answer, mind you, but I keep trying to think in terms of what we can do, not in terms of what we should tell someone else not to do.

The other thing that bothers me about going into a low energy future is the potential scale of the impact on seven some-odd billion people if industrial agriculture, industry, and medicine goes off a cliff (er, pun intended). There are problems with all of those things, I realize, but it seems to me any recommendation to consciously downsize them is basically signing a death warrant to an awful lot of people.

Which may be what happens anyway, I know. Just trying to figure out a way to avoid it.

"I guess my issue with the concept of living within our means is how does this get defined? My thought is any potential solution to our energy/environment paradox will be most easily implemented if it has some level of appeal to a lot of folks."

If you believe that "living within our means" is something that we can "define", you are simply not getting it, at all.

If you think that any "solution to our energy/environment paradox will be most easily implemented if it has some level of appeal to a lot of folks", you are simply not getting it, at all.

For a start, it's not a paradox, it is a fact.

It is not something to be negotiated. It is not subject to a PR stunt. It is not up for a vote. It is the real world.

It's not something we need to "implement" - it is something that is going to happen. We can make it somewhat easier by our choices (getting late for that). Or we can be dragged kicking and screaming (more likely).

We can make it somewhat easier by our choices (getting late for that).

sgage, I'm not quite sure where you are coming from, in terms of a PR stunt, or my not getting it. Your final line, noted above, seems to me to imply there are choices that in fact could be made, that there are potential ways to define the scope and nature of any potential solutions.

Are you saying that any consideration of such choices is simply pointless? Is that what I'm not getting?

"Are you saying that any consideration of such choices is simply pointless? Is that what I'm not getting?"

No, not "any consideration" (nice totalizing, though).

I'm saying that your framing is a distraction. To say that we need to come up with a message and "solution" that makes people feel warm and fuzzy, to think that we can just tweak the existing system slightly and just carry on with BAU, in order to get them on board, is absurd. For a start, it is not going to happen.

What you're not getting is that BAU is off the menu.

Fair enough. What is on the menu? If you point me to some of your TOD posts addressing this I'll just follow those.

What is on the menu, and it seems to me the only thing on the menu, is to try and get to a point where we can be comfortable using the energy that can be accessed locally, both in time and space.

I.e., lifestyles, technologies, etc. meet the growing efficacy of alternative enery sources. It would seem to me, with all of our vaunted intelligence and such, that we should be able to figure this out.

But then you have people, on this very forum, that think that all we have to do is go to Titan and get the hydrocarbons there. This is a level of obtuseness tnat is hard to umderstand.

But the point I've been trying to make is that this is not some sort of choice or political decision - it is going to happen. The only thing up to us is how wrenching it's going to be.

Okay. I may be on slippery ground here, but I'll try again anyway. I'm not sure I'm yet seeing things as you're seeing them. I'm not looking for a political solution (our current politics are just about the worst way I could think of to address anything).

I believe you're suggesting using our current technology to find a way to ultimately adjust our lifestyles to meet the growing efficacy of alternative enery sources. Is that a fair statement?

If so, my perception is this is one potential approach, surely. I run into an issue with it when I consider the climate that is changing beneath our feet. Just back of the napkin calculations land me in the area of needing to decrease our current CO2 levels. And that nature would not be able to reabsorb that level for several thousand years, at the least, on her own.

That leads me to some sort of geoengineering. Dicey proposition, to say the least. But let's assume for a moment it is a requirement. I'm left with the impression we're gonna need a hellacious amount of juice to even consider the idea of actively withdrawing CO2 from the air.

The assumption may be flawed (I hope it is!), but I think following that assumption logically would dictate we can't use carbon-generating sources to generate that energy (sans effective CCS). I don't see alternatives getting us to current energy levels, let alone to the type of excess energy we would need for the stated purpose. Ramping our energy use down to a new steady-state also seems highly problematic, unless we can come up with local ways to effectively draw down carbon at a significant rate.

Hence, nuclear. I've already said it's not ideal. Probably thoroughly dangerous in fact. However, that's where my assessment drives me. I launched today's foray on TOD to flesh out some of these ideas. Eric, yourself, and others have me thinking of things I hadn't thought of. I'll pursue more on the health effects of radiation. Speculawyer has already reinforced my sense that we really, really, don't have very good data on the long term effects of low level radiation on the human body. (Just saw Eric's post on radioactive teeth. I will pursue that).

In a nutshell, I don't think the local option will get us where we need to be. Same for renewables. It's not about PR, or politics, or some sort of feel-good message that can be broadcast. It's about trying to figure out something that might work, based on my (hopefully flawed) view of the choices before us.

Does any of that make sense?

(And no, I'm not inclined to think going to Titan to get hydrocarbons would get us out of our current hydrocarbon-induced trap, btw ;)

Às we go down the backslope of oil and resources in general, there is likely to be more conflicts between nations over the dwindling resources. How are the nuclear reactors going to go in a shooting war?

Currently in wars, one of the main targets seems to be the oppositions infrastructure. If you bomb a gas power station, there is lots of death and fire, but you can rebuild later on the same spot. If you bomb a nuclear reactor and surrounding infrastructure you will get a huge meltdown making the area uninhabitable for thousands of years and radiation sickness in vast numbers of the surrounding population.

Can any of the pro-nukers explain how they intend to get around the problem of wars in a nuclear future, because what you are suggesting is that reactors are everywhere, every country. How many wars and shot to pieces reactors will it take to make the planet uninhabitable? Have a look at the history of wars over the last thousand years to judge the safety of nuks in the real world.

The concept would be to avoid, or at least prolong, the slide down the backslope. Mebbe use fission as a bridge to something better in the future. With sufficient energy we might be able to avoid the conflicts in the first place, since most wars are ultimately resource wars.

Should it come to a shooting war, it might make a lot of sense for an invading force to preserve a functional nuke. Not just because, if they're close enough, the fallout will hit them, but also because, at least in theory, they're after energy. I would imagine any large scale war in the future to be about energy, tho of course that's purely speculative.

The idea would be to preserve some semblance of civilization. If climate and resource depletion run their worst case scenario course, from a human point of view does it matter whether we die from thirst, starvation, heatstroke, or fallout? The idea is to avoid having to make that choice.

If an attack on a nuclear site is done remotely, i.e. with missiles, we're basically still in a MAD scenario. You lob a missile at my site, I respond in kind. We've lived under that Sword of Damocles for 60 years now. That isn't going to change if there are more NPPs in the world, and it isn't going to change if there are less. Unless you could achieve complete disarmament, of course. If we're talking about war scenarios, I'll take it as a given that disarmament didn't happen.

Off to work. Will revisit the site tonight. Best all.

The concept would be to avoid, or at least prolong, the slide down the backslope.

There is a very simple answer here;

Total Energy consumed = number of people X the amount each person consumes.

"Leadership" has shown how much they care about their fellow man over the years. Then you have topic like this from "the leadership class"

There ya go - no need for the survivors to change their energy consumption and the dead don't consume energy.

*this has been a Swift Tommy production.

Just a quick aside:

Journalists are now an early and primary target (for the US, see Serbia, Iraq).

Our stated plan for Iran includes killing their science professors by bombing their universities.

I'm not inclined to think going to Titan to get hydrocarbons would get us out of our current hydrocarbon-induced trap

What, have you no faith in technology?

Earth uses 1,000 barrels of oil a second. A supertanker holds two million barrels. So if we launch a supertanker to Titan every 2,000 seconds, say every half hour, the job is done. All we need is launch and landing facilities to handle the volume of take-offs and landings.

We'd need a big fleet. The voyage to Titan takes about six years there and six years back, so that's 12 x 365 x 24 x 2 = 210,240 ships in all. Building them would solve unemployment. Win-win!!

The voyage to Titan takes about six years there and six years back, so that's 12 x 365 x 24 x 2 = 210,240 ships in all.

aardvark, thanks for the laugh.

The better solution is to live within our means. We do not need much of what we use electricity for. Only a very sick culture would split the atom to boil water to spin a turbine to run hair dryers.

First, I fail to understand why. Why isn't comfort, speed, beauty and such worthy of some amount of economic activity and the resultant (temporary) environmental load?

Also, I think what you say is about as unproductive and unyielding as saying "well, nobody should have contraceptives since people shouldn't have sex if they don't want kids". Today, we need energy and nuclear is the most environmentally sound choice. Going back to hunter-gatherer societies without fire is not an option currently on the table.

That's quite a leap you make from what I said to 'without fire', setting aside what I think about HG societies.

And I'm not surprised you fail to understand why we don't need to consume and destroy absolutely everything we possibly can for, as you put it, 'comfort, speed, beauty.' The natural world is plenty beautiful for many of us. What you call comfort, I call absolute indulgence. The only thing I mentioned was hair dryers. Utterly unnecessary. Of course they represent so much else - video games, lights blazing all night, huge upright refrigerators, commercial ones with no doors. I could go on and on. But you don't get it, and you won't get it. And you know what? You well represent the culture that is killing this planet we call home, and I am the extremist whacko on the fringe, living quite comfortably with no FF heat/cooling, chest DC fridge & freezer, solar hot water, etc... And you know what else? The way I live consumes and destroys far too much of the planet also. So I'll shut up now.

You're right, I don't get it. I do get why we should introduce fairly stiff carbon taxes and internalize a lot of other environmental damage. That may save the planet. But I don't get why we, for instance, shouldn't do video games and hair dryers, just because they are "unnecessary". That won't save the planet. Why shouldn't we do unnecessary things that pleases us?

A first world human consumes some 5-10 KW of primary energy for eighty years, that is 10*24*365*80 = 7 GWh(th) or 25 TJ lifetime. The amount of uranium or thorium needed for that energy, if the fuel is used in a breeder reactor, is less than half a teaspoon. Is the extraction and fissioning of half a teaspoon of metal really too much environmental load for one human life time?

Is the extraction and fissioning of half a teaspoon of metal really too much environmental load for one human life time?

jeppen, it is surprising how little amount of uranium one person would account for over their lifetime.

Yes, but I'm going to have to increase that to a tablespoon, small error in my data. Sorry.

One kg uranium is about 80 TJ, so 25/80 = 0.31 kg. Density is 20, so 0.015 litres, or a tablespoon.

No need to multiply by three or four to compensate for the thermal inefficiency of a typical reactor?

No, the 10 KW human consumption was thermal, and the fissile energy was thermal, so no need to compensate.

XKCD has it right today:

[Edit: Will post up later. Trying to rush just makes me screw up decimal points :-) and I have to rush]

Leave this question for now.

Would you care to calculate what the total mass of fissile material would be in the civilian fuel cycle if this entire human energy demand was supplied by nuclear power? Care to break that down. How much plutonium will be cycling around the world if we stay on that path or how much U233 if you prefer Thorium?

You are fissioning far more than half a teaspoon to get 7GWh and you know it. You have conveniently forgotten the brand new fissile material you have created by neutron bombardment.

Yes, a tablespoon (sorry). And no, I didn't forget the breeded material. It's all of it, all that is fissioned.

Would you care to calculate what the total mass of fissile material would be in the civilian fuel cycle if this entire human energy demand was supplied by nuclear power? Care to break that down.

I can try. Seems all energy today is around 150,000 TWh(th)/year. A one-gigawatt reactor at 80% availability produces 7 TWh(e) or 20 TWh(th). So we'd need 7,500 nuclear reactors at 1 GWe. Let's double it to enable energy increases for poor countries and to enable 9 billion people. Then we need 15,000 reactors. It seems traditional FBRs require 5-10 tonnes of fissile material per GWe. The famed LFTR can do with far less, but let's go with 10 tonnes per GWe. Thus 300,000 tonnes of fissile material is required for 9 billion people, or a little more 300 grams per person. Again about a tablespoon.

So, one active tablespoon at all times, and one tablespoon per lifetime. If you want to optimize for low fissile content, you can get the active amount down by a significant factor.

Is it now you're going to point out that 300,000 tonnes of plutonium is enough for 30 million a-bombs?

In 2011 the total number of nuclear power plants operating on Earth was 438 (European Nuclear Society: Nuclear power plants, world-wide). If this number results in an average of 1 core meltdown per decade, then 15,000 NPP's would result in one every 3.5 months on average. This would result in a steady stream of nuclear fallout throughout the northern hemisphere making rainwater catchment and outdoor pools hazardous. There would be a steady supply of 131I entering the milk supply and accumulating in the human thyroid. I wonder if there are even 15,000 suitable sites worldwide for NPP's because they need a water supply for cooling while avoiding areas with earthquakes and volcanoes.

No one would build an RBMK (Chernobyl) or Mk 1 boiling water (Fukushima) type reactor these days. Any new reactors would be of a more modern, safer design. There is also a better understanding of the site requirements in respect to earthquakes, tsunamis and water supply. The failure rate should be significantly less for a new fleet of reactors than it has been for the existing fleet.

Actually, there was a plan to start the brand new RBMK at Kursk-5. But it was ditched after Fukushima.

Wait . . . they were going to restart a RBMK style reactor at a place called 'Kursk'?

They really like to tempt fate don't they . . . can't we work a link to third big industrial disaster?

There're 11 RBMK reactors operating in Russia right now. They'll be phased out by the 2030s. Kursk-5 is a brand new RBMK, 80% complete. If started now, it'd work until 2050s. The construction was put on hold after Chernobyl, but in recent years it almost resumed. Now, after Fukushima, it was cancelled for good.

If this number results in an average of 1 core meltdown per decade, then 15,000 NPP's would result in one every 3.5 months on average.


The NRC records showed that the St. Lucie 1 reactor, operating commercially since 1976, had released nearly 283,000 curies of airborne radiation into the environment through 1991. The St. Lucie 2 reactor, operating since 1983, reported airborne emissions through 1991 of almost 50,000 curies. Thus the reactors, through 1991, had released over 333,000 curies of radiation into the air, much of it probably drifting towards Port St. Lucie.

"properly operating" plants release "work product" into the biosphere, so 15,000 plants would just mean more of such "work product"releases.

Elsewhere in the above link:

the age-adjusted white female breast cancer mortality rate from 1950-54 was 6.5 deaths per 100,000 women. But the rate jumped to 20.7 for the years 1980-84, and 23.5 for 1985-89. Thus the rate of increase in these deaths, comparing 1950-54 to 1980-84, was 221%! And comparing 1950-54 to 1985-89, the increase was 263%.


Women living in about 1320 counties within 100 miles of all 60 military and civilian reactors are shown to be subject to a "statistically significant" added risk because of the exacerbating effects of ingesting reactor emissions


There are risks beyond just a meltdown.

I wonder if there are even 15,000 suitable sites worldwide for NPP's because they need a water supply for cooling while avoiding areas with earthquakes and volcanoes.

Don't forget it seems some Nation States won't be 'allowed' to have fission plants by other Nation states.

If this number results in an average of 1 core meltdown per decade, then 15,000 NPP's would result in one every 3.5 months on average.

Yes, but new plants is orders of magnitude safer.

I wonder if there are even 15,000 suitable sites worldwide for NPP's

I guess you co-locate 3-5 reactors per site. Of course there are that many suitable sites. (Well, of course not if you don't consider any site suitable, but otherwise. The globe is quite big.)

Yes, but new plants is orders of magnitude safer.

But ofcourse.

The chance of a core damage incident for BWR proved to be orders of magnitude higher then industry or regulators told us. Now you're telling us this time new plant's will be order of magnitudes safer. How do you know that? These new plants don't have enough reactor year runtime to tell, therefore I assume that you simply echo what theoretical numbers commercial engineering and regulators told you. Therefore it comes down that we simply have to trust them again. Knowing that history points out their poor track record, I'm skeptical.

Nah, I've actually looked at the designs, compared them and looked at the lessons learned (and measures taken) from previous accidents. Stuff like passive gravity cooling, filters, hydrogen recombiners, multiple control rooms and/or habilitation systems, core catchers, tougher containment buildings and more. I think you'd come to the same conclusion if you actually took the time to compare the Fukushima/Chernobyl reactors with modern designs.

If each noclear meltdown results in a 20 Km radius evacuation area, I say "bring 'em on".

In 2011, total energy consumption in the Netherlands was 3246 PJ by 16.6 million people which gives 0.195 TJ/person/yr or 15.6 TJ/lifetime. Times 4 gives 62.4 TJ(th)/lifetime or about 0.8 kg uranium, which is slighly more then 25 TJ(th) Jeppen calculated and it's assuming stable consumption.

So, powering 7 billion people for 80 years at Dutch living standards and industrial activity takes 560 million kg uranium.

Btw, energy consumption in 1970 was 2016 PJ by 13 million people, which gives 0.155 TJ/person/jr, so in 30 years average overall consumption has risen 25%.

So, powering 7 billion people for 80 years at Dutch living standards and industrial activity takes 560 million kg uranium.

FWIW, Canada has 485 million kg of uranium reserves, and the US has 207 million kg, so between the two countries, they could meet the global demand for energy for over 80 years.

Australia has 1,673 million kg of uranium reserves, so it could keep the world supplied with energy for about 240 years all by itself.

Not to forget this assumes 100 per cent fissioning in breeder reactors. The U235 fraction is only ~0.7% of the reserves, and 1/3 of that is wasted in a once-through fuel cycle.

With once-through those reserves would power the world for less than two years.

I'm currently considering his idea of a non-baseload world

You might wish to consider the ties of constant and expanding energy input as a form of inflation to economies then consider what the reduction of total energy does in an economy. There is plenty of things to think about WRT energy as a seasonal flow. Some kinds of economic models and businesses outright stop being able to be done.

Such has been hashed out before here on TOD - but reading 6 years of postings would be a few weeks work I bet.

Yeah, it's a lot of work. I searched for the term nuclear, but I don't remember running into anything within those about the economic models you're talking about. Of course they wouldn't necessarily. I'll go search some more I guess. Care to point out one or two?

Hi Templar,
I don't know if you've heard this angle yet, but one of my regular concerns about seeing Nuclear power as a means to keep the wheels turning as we head into Climate Wierdness is that Fission has a strong need for a steady table to work from. That means it can be tripped up with Temperature Swings, with Water Availability, with Grid Outages, with Financial Disturbances, and of course, with Political 'situations', including but not limited to war.

I can hardly think of a power source WORSE suited to a world trying to muddle through weather extremes, growling economic uncertainties, dropping water tables, rising seas, and uncertain supply lines that are supposed to be feeding a stream of top quality, highest grade parts, workers and fuel assemblies.. and that's just to keep steady and not have the kind of 'problems' that Japan and Ukraine are now saddled with for untold decades and billions of dollars.

In short, Nuclear is a thorobred (Politically, Financially and Engineering-wise) and demands an expensive groomed track just to keep its ankles from breaking, while you can make Wind, Hydro and Solar with materials that are more like Donkeys, tough, survivable, fairly low maintenance .

That's a considerable part of my opposition to fission.

Hi Jokuhl,

Thanks for the response. Yes, the growing instability of the climate does concern me, and greatly at that. I replied to sgage above with a bit more detail on my thinking, in case you're interested.

In terms of providing a stable platform for nuclear, yes, it'd be a challenge. However, we currently have platforms which weather some of the worst nature can throw at humans. Literally hell and high water - our nuclear powered aircraft carriers and submarines.

So, I think we can engineer systems which can handle the elements. I'm not sure we should yet, but I think we could do it, if we had to. My concern is we may be at the point where we might have to, as I outlined to sgage above. I hope I'm wrong.

Now, so far as the renewables approach, I think it'd be ideal. I don't see the energy capacity being anywhere near to close yet. Grid-scale storage would do the trick (and a whole lot of construction), but we don't have it yet. We're already seeing some energy use decrease, which tilts things in the right direction (well, energy-wise. Economic-wise I ain't so sure. See some of Gail Tverberg's stuff on that).

I hear you tho. If we can get where we need to be using donkeys instead of thoroughbreds, all the better!

"So, I think we can engineer systems which can handle the elements."

Technically, nuclear power can be run in a safe and efficient manner. Besides the Navy, you also have boring plants like Point Beach and Kewaunee in Wisconsin.

Politically, you have problems. The French solved them, the US did not. Few want to live near a nuclear plant, and no one wants to live near the waste repository. This problem has gotten worse since Fukushima.

Economically, the technology just costs too much. $8 billion per gigawatt in up front capital costs plus fuel, maintenance, and decommissioning. And you still have the risk if something goes wrong with a nuclear plant it will go very wrong. All the simple and easy to anticipate failures were engineered out from the beginning. What's left is the really nasty ones. As was noted in the past, Kewaunee is getting shut down due to economics; it costs too much to implement the license extension.

And then there is the failures you though you had handled, but didn't. As in Trojan in Oregon, San Onofre an CA, and Crystal River 3 in FL. None of them have (or had, for Trojan) immediate nuclear safety issues, but none of them are (or were) safe to run either. Billions of dollars lost. It makes the problem of skin failures on wind turbine blades look trivial. (That was mentioned here a week or two ago.)

Correct. We did not solve the political issues. And my suspicion your other statement is just as true. Technically, nuclear power can be run in a safe and efficient manner.

The cost and technical issues you outlined are certainly cases in point. However, the cost of nuclear power I think could be addressed. I read an article a while ago on why it is so expensive. I will track that down. Essentially, it is at least possible that we are over-engineering these plants from a certain perspective, but also late design changes play a role. Lack of design standardization, and economies of scale, certainly have a part too.

San Onofre will be my vent moment for now. I grew up in San Pedro, CA. San Onofre was just down the coast. I even visited it back in the day when the power monopolies used to provide PR on nuclear - back when Unit 1 was still in operation.

In the case of San Onofre, this seems to me to be a design and engineering issue, caused in no small part by Mitsubishi. Flat out, they should replace their defective equipment, at their cost. Probably won't happen, but that's what should happen. They provided shoddy materials. They should fix that.

'Nuff said. Doesn't replace or negate any of the other nuanced statements I've made about nuclear elsewhere. Just that I'm cranky about what Mitsubishi did in this case.

Economically, the technology just costs too much. $8 billion per gigawatt in up front capital costs

UAE got them for $5 billion. The Chinese are reportedly doing $2 billion. I think nuclear costs are something we actually choose with the amount of red tape and licensing the regulatory bodies demand.

And you still have the risk if something goes wrong with a nuclear plant it will go very wrong.

What is "very wrong"? It's much more benign than, for instance, building the Three Gorges dam.

"The Chinese are reportedly doing $2 billion."

No doubt built out of high quality materials to rigorous standards - like all Chinese goods!

Sense a bit of prejudice here. I think they're good enough. Probably much better than American reactors from the seventies.

China has a bit of a history of strange things happening... http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196064/Tumbling-tower-China-Ama...

"Shoddy construction and the use of sub-standard materials is a concern in China's construction sector as the country scrambles to build out cities and finish massive infrastructure projects to keep pace with fast economic growth."

They can't even be bothered to put pollution controls on their coal-fired power plants...you don't think they're going to cut corners on the nuclear plants?

I think they're going to cut corners, and I think US manufacturers cut corners in the 70-ies.

But I think the Chinese' overall designs are somewhat better (and, in the case of AP-1000 and EPR-1600) a lot better. I think better design and Fukushima/Chernobyl lessions learned are more important than corner cuts.

boring plants like Point Beach and Kewaunee in Wisconsin ... Kewaunee is getting shut down due to economics; it costs too much to implement the license extension.

Perhaps the lesson here is if you run the fission plant slapdash and cut corners you can make a profit.

Being boring and correct means Fission power is a money loser if the above assumption is correct.

I disagree with you. In the face of climate change nuclear is much better than solar or wind. With solar or wind unpredictable weather means unpredictable power which has costs. Climate change will be especial bad if we build some kind of ‘supper grid’ like some people want. All those expensive power lines might be going to the wrong place if long term weather patterns shift, and if the whole thing is connected disruptions from weather could potentially bring the whole thing down.

I’m becoming more and more pro nuclear as I learn more about the issues. Especial sense it seems a lot of the fears are being over exaggerated. People will need a safe, clean and reliable energy source to face the challenges we will have in the future. Of all the options I have heard about nuclear seems to best fit that description.

It sounds like you just totally glossed over what I said about Nuclear's vulnerability to future weather and related uncertainties, though.

First, there's this..

Two of the hardest hit islands were Haiti and Cuba. Thousands of houses were destroyed in the Eastern part of Cuba around Santiago de Cuba, the country’s second largest city, and power supplies in the area were and still are affected by the hurricane.

However, in the province of Holguín, there were two wind farms installed in 2008 and 2010 one with six 850 kW turbines and the other with six 750 kW machines. Both of those wind farms were hit by hurricane Sandy with wind speeds of up to 110 miles per hour and neither of them had any major damage and continued to provide electricity for the local grid.

and then This..


"Oyster Creek is still in an alert but may be getting out of it as long as water levels continue to drop," NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan told Reuters.

The alert came after water levels at the plant rose more than 6.5 feet above normal, potentially affecting the "water intake structure" that pumps cooling water through the plant.

We've got the Mississippi at record low levels, affecting a few plants.. we recently had record high flooding making the Fort Calhoun plant in Nebraska go into backflips to handle too much water.

What makes you keep repeating this PR line about 'Clean Safe and Reliable'? Look at how they behave when the times get tough. THAT's what's coming at us, right? Politically, Economically and Mechanically Frail, as in, they can stop working and become highly hazardous and MORE expensive and unmanagable to us if their operating environment is allowed to flutter. This clearly has NOT been the case with renewables.. they might go dark for a few hours, but they come right back up again, and no sandbags, hazmat teams, international air and water and soil testing and decontamination, mobilizing thousands for cleanup.

Your comment about the transmission line vulnerability points to one of the key ADVANTAGES of Solar and Wind as much more broadly distributed nodes, many directly on residences, municipal buildings and businesses themselves.. and in any case offers NO particular advantage for Nuclear, while, in fact a field of more concentrated and centralized sources could force a great many more people to be cut off with grid outages, since it lives or dies exclusively by those wires.

Sorry. I didn't mean to gloss over anything.

My branding seems a bit off. My fault. It was the initial approach I took, I'm sure.

Let me attempt a rebranding: I don't think they're inherently clean, safe, or reliable. I would be happy to be labelled but they may well be necessary. Or in other words, they can be clean, safe, and reliable enough for the purposes of a fairly desperate situation.

The low water levels at Oyster Creek, and the high water levels at Fort Calhoun, are troubling, to be sure. And I'm quite nervous that our current bone-headed institutional approaches could wind us up in trouble, but that's an issue of fixing the institutions as much as anything else. If the plant needs to be shut down due to environmental concerns, it should be shut down. Period. If the dimwits at TEPCO had flooded the overheating reactors with sea water initially, rather than thinking they could fix the cooling systems and thus keep the reactors from being lost, much anguish would have been avoided. Better still, if the short-sighted decision to save a few bucks when they'd been warned (by the French, no less!) that they needed to get their backup systems above the (true) high water mark had been implemented, again, much grief would have been avoided.

San Onofre, which I ranted about a bit ago, is in the same boat. But since they may be shut down anyway the need for backup systems higher up the hill (it's not far - just up the slope behind the wire in Camp Pendleton) may not be necessary.

Please refer back to my response to sgage upthread. I think we need to reverse our CO2 levels. I can't see wind or solar (or anything else) doing that at this point. I've laid out how I think they might (storage or really large smart grids) be able to. Hopefully soon.

If we can come up with a non-nuclear way to deal with the climate problem, I'll be happy to shut up and get on the bandwagon. But who's steering the hayride at this point?

At least part of the reason nuclear isn't safer than it is is institutional. Eric (and many others) are right about that. But Eric suggests we need to improve Humans too. Can't disagree with that. Human institutions would be logical corollary.

I think you are misunderstanding something. What you are apologizing for is something I said.

Damn indents. You are right. I think what I said was still relevant, but I certainly did not intend to speak for you!

Everything is vulnerable to future weather and uncertainty. I'm of the opinion that nuclear will handle these things better than renewable.

In order to explain my reasoning first It seems necessary to divide the renewable energy option up into two different visions of how it would be used.

One vision includes such things as 'smart grids', 'super grids' and 'demand side management'. In this vision technology will be used to overcome the problems created by variable disperse energy sources. This option would require a large complex grid, and the gathering of renewable energy where it is most abundant and transporting it to were it is needed. This complex system would be very vulnerable to climate change which is what I was talking about in my post.

Another vision is the idea of decentralization; but I don't really buy this idea. Renewable is not decentralized because it needs centralized fossil fuel 'backups'.

The way things are now renewable aren't replacing fossil fuels completely. So far they haven't really replaced that much (exactly how much is debatable), but France has replaced quit a lot of their fossil fuel use with nuclear. This combined with Germany building new coal plants, and Japan using more fossil fuel as well really adds to my pro-nuclear sentiments. So yes, I think that over all nuclear is better. Compared to the alternatives (such as increased coal use in Germany) I would even say that it's Clean, Safe and Reliable.

All indicators suggest that the elevated consumption of fossil fuels is likely to rise further this summer as the only nuclear reactor now in operation, Hokkaido Tomari Unit 3 (912MW) is scheduled to shut on 5 May


The problem is that Japan has no significant energy resources. Except for a little coal, they have almost no fossil fuel, poor wind and solar potential, and little biomass potential.  This is why they were ramping up nuclear in the first place.  The tsunami did not change this. Japan must refocus on nuclear.


Germany is building about 25 clean coal-fired power plants to offset the loss of nuclear


Water is always a concern, but don't see any reason to believe it is insurmountable. Also, I think a lot of the costs and other difficulties associated with nuclear are created by it's opponents. It's kind of like if you cut of someone's legs, and then complained that they couldn't run fast enough. Lastly, I already knew that wind turbines survived the last hurricane. That has nothing to do with the point I was trying to make. The point I was making was that the increased unpredictability of weather patters brought on by climate change will make matching supply and demand while using variable sources even more difficult.

Written by Binder:
People will need a safe, clean and reliable energy source....

In short, nuclear fission power is none of these. Diverse, distributed sources of power are more secure than a single source. The existence of the Price-Anderson Act in the U.S. externalizing the cost of a catastrophic accident onto the victims and tax payers belies the safe and clean assertions.

Nuclear power is not a single source. In the US, they are a 100 sources and could be 400.

They are safe and clean even though they fail catastrophically. (Trains are also safe and clean, even though they fail catastrophically.)

How many thousands of years does the uninhabitable exclusion zone last around train wrecks?

Up to a few months, perhaps. (In Sweden, we had a train crash into a building the other day. Residents had to evacuate and when they remove the train, the building might collapse.) Might be fairly proportional to the lower utility of a train compared to a nuclear reactor.

If the wrecked train was transporting radioactive waste....

Safe and clean?

Radioactive tritium leaks found at 48 US nuke sites, June 21, 2011.

Leaky, rusting, poison machines?

Yes, if you want absolute cleanliness in an industrial process, then you better not start it. Either you accept some amounts of pollution, or you don't do industry. Simple as that.

Written by TemplarMyst:
3) I don't see how renewables can take up the slack (yet).

It might be very illuminating for you to install an off-grid photovoltaic system at your house and do everything reasonable that you can imagine to minimize the cost. You will discover that it does work as my home has been powered that way for the last 22 years. If you want to take it a step farther, then seriously try to eliminate all of your residential fossil fuel consumption. I have mine down to about 3 gallons of propane and 40 gallons of gasoline per year.

Impressive! Of all the systems you (or Todd or Ghung) have deployed, which do you think is/are the most easily transferable to a standard suburban home? I think of solar hot water as the biggest bang for the buck.

This is at the heart of the consumption side of the matter to me - what can be most readily transferred to the average homeowner, particularly in an aging home?

Of course behavioral changes are a big factor, conditioned by the weight of habitual/routine behavior patterns and largely unconscious cultural consumption standards people feel are appropriate to their social position.

I think self-install PV using micro-inverters is probably one of the lowest hanging fruits. With around $10K in parts you can provide all the net electricity needs of a modest efficient home.

Solar hot water is also very good but I worry about the maintenance of such mechanical systems. People will sour if such a system leaks and the leak harms their home or belongings. Care should be made in installations such that you install over a garage if possible so a leak won't cause much damage.

On the consumption side there is much that can be done with extremely simple and affordable technologies . . . CFLs, insulation, weatherstripping, etc.

Yair . . .

Solar hot water is also very good but I worry about the maintenance of such mechanical systems. People will sour if such a system leaks and the leak harms their home or belongings. Care should be made in installations such that you install over a garage if possible so a leak won't cause much damage.

I don't understand the US hesitation about solar water-heaters. This is stone age technology. I've had one on my roof for over thirty years . . .zero zilch maintainance.

For years I didn't even know it had anodes that are supposed to be changed. They are checking out okay and will certainly see me out.


Well, thanks for the vote of confidence. I'll probably get around to installing one eventually. Much of the hesitance in the USA stems from:
1) Energy is cheap here.
2) People are lazy & disinterested.
3) Experience from the solar hot water systems that were installed in the 1970s. They were not well engineered and often eventually leaked.

Yair . . .Speculawyer. The other thing of course is they don't have to be on the roof.

We installed one at a mates place about four foot off the ground. There is nothing mechanical in the basic system, just mains pressure (or, in our case pressure pump) in and near enough to mains pressure out.


The most easily transferable is negawatts.

In an urban environment it would be easier to reduce the gasoline consumption but harder to heat the house without fossil fuels.

Hi Love (couldn't resist),

I noted that negatwatts were mentioned above but they aren't a "system". I agree that solar hot water is the best choice. I put our first one in about 25 years ago (along with our first "huge" 77 watt PV system).

The thing about suburban PV is that it would likely be grid tied - sort of "set and forget". While the electric bill might come down it's not like looking at the temperature of the water tank, i.e., instant reward. I really think that most people could get their electric bill down as much if they can have a Time Of Use (TOU) electric meter installed. We've had one for a long, long time (25 years?) and it does keep us aware of the juice we use each month - it's the first thing I look at on the bill. FWIW, my PV is not grid tied so I try to switch the house off the grid during peak rates.


Nuclear. I hate to say anything about it, too emotional. But long ago as a kid I witnessed a huge mess on my aircraft carrier when a pilot came in too high, refused the wave-off, slammed the deck, grabbed the arresting wire, bounced over the barrier wires where the arrester pulled him down on the bunch of just-landed planes forward, Big balls of bangs, body parts all over, screams for mamma, and all that. Moral of story- accidents happen, even very improbable ones, and if bad can happen from that accident, as on a floating tin can full of gasoline, it will.

So, back to the off grid solar. Most probable worst case is loss of some money and ego, hard to get killed, tho not impossible- any data?.

Distributed power. So what's so tough about having a bunch of heat engines all over the place, providing backup for the PV and also space and water heating? Not done? Of course not, Possible? Sure, I have one in my shop. Very cosy. Have wood, have kW-hrs.

It is not safe to live in the most contaminated regions near Chernobyl or Fukushima and it never will be in your lifetime.

That's quite unspecific. What is "safe" and what is "near"? Whatever the problem is, I guess we can agree that the problem halves every 30 years, due to the half-life of the completely dominating isotope (Cs-137). A cursory look at the radiation maps indicates that the amount of land that could be released for resettlement every 30 years is about half of the then-restricted area. So after 300 years, (very, very) roughly a thousandth of the area (2^10 = 1024) originally restricted needs continued restriction.

TemplarMyst, you simply do not fully understand the issue. Exposure to low level radiation from an external source is certainly a risk but many will acknowledge, exposure to low level radiation is not a huge risk.

But you have completely ignored the problem of contamination! If you live in one of these areas, you will inevitably ingest and inhale many radioactive particles. And then those radioactive particles will then decay inside your body thus subjecting your body to internal radiation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is a different problem than just being exposed to low level radiation from an external source!

Being internally contaminated with radioactive particles will greatly increase the chance of getting some type of cancer. That may not be a problem with wolves that probably live less than 10 years. But for humans that would aspire to live 80 or 90 years? Well, that may be more of a problem.

But hey, if you think it is safe then go live in one of those zones. You can probably get land for free.


I've read through some of the material on the ingestion issue. Definitely sounds disturbing. I replied to Eric about the data modeling issue, and how the information on risks is presented and how the data is gathered.

I just found another site that might be helpful on it, but I'm not sure yet. I guess we really couldn't absolutely know about the dangers of Chernobyl until another 60 years has passed. I'm going to go back and look at the US/Japan studies Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I didn't see any long-term risks of low-level radiation in there, but I probably missed something.

I'm a flawed human, after all ;)

As far as comparing Atomic Bomb detonations to Nuclear Power Plant "malfunctions", while the bomb detonations would have a much higher radiation at the time, I suspect that the power plant malfunction will have a far higher (many orders of magnitude) release of radiation containing particulates that will be ingested.

I had considered that, but I figured I'd look anyway. My issue with the ingestion perspective goes back to the issue with the biological systems thus far affected by Chernobyl (thirty some-odd years after the event), and the fact that until 1963 the U.S. and U.S.S.R were blasting particles into the air with unnerving frequency.

Is there any reliable way to gauge the health impacts from these? The wolves are a short lived species, it's true. The catfish in the retention ponds next to the reactor might live to be 90. But of course we won't see any effects for another 60 years, if there are any.

I'm also bothered by the Navajo uranium mine poisonings. I need to get some more info. At first glance it seems to me their exposure would constitute what I would think of as high-level. I have no qualms with the idea that high level radioactivity is dangerous.

Look at some of the research done into the radioactive baby teeth.

http://www.radiation.org/projects/tooth_fairy.html as a starting point.

I believe I have some teeth in those studies. I grew up in NW New Mexico arriving there in 1957. My neighbor lady worked for the Feds in public health and I still remember her coming around and getting our baby teeth. Seems no one was all that excited about it at the time. How little we knew.

You should also check out the BEIR (Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation) reports.
Here's a review of BEIR VII


Hi ET,

I have. BEIR VII is the go-to source on the LNR approach. Would suggest there is considerable controversy on this. Check out

The Linear No-Threshold Relationship Is Inconsistent with Radiation Biologic and Experimental Data

It's very frustrating. Like watching a couple of lawyers presenting opposing expert witnesses.

First, radiation effects on biological bodies is not exact science but complex systems science so there is no digital answer. So let's assume both theories to be reasonably supported. Then there is uncertainty about which one is correct or the correctest. This automatically brings risk management to the table. What would risk management say?

Only two percent of home owners will endure a domestic fire during their lifetime. This is a low risk, but nearly everyone has insurance against the worst case. That's risk management. Now, say the two competing theories for effects of radiation on humans are 50:50. Do you want insurance for the worst case?

Only two percent of home owners will endure a domestic fire during their lifetime. This is a low risk, but nearly everyone has insurance against the worst case.

And how many of the 'nearly everyone' have a mortgage and are therefore under contract to have insurance of certain types?

Of house owners in Sweden, virtually 100% have a fire insurance. Not everyone have mortgage. Of those who do not have one, I assume they are more often the ones with loans. If you are rich (owning a house is "rich") it is because you know how to play the game of becoming rich, and those who do, pay their fire insurance.

Why would an insurance company demand a fire insurance in their contract? Ofcourse: small chance times expensive consequences equals high risk to default on the mortgage. A bank would be stupid not to demand insurance, even when the chances are small.

This is why commercial insurers don't want to (or can!) insure nuclear plants fully and the taxpayer will be 'insuring' (at least) the rest. Like it or not, in the nuclear industry profits are privatized and huge risks are socialized. The industry would not be able to exist otherwise. Another reason why I oppose nuclear power.

Do you also oppose medicine, agriculture, chemical industry and other industries who are just as uninsured?

Can a single farmer bankrupt a small country? Jeez, do you even have a clue? Or are you just being dense?

You avoided medicine and chemical...

So it's ok if it is many farmers that bankrupt a country together and kills off half of its population (by way of, for instance, something like the mad cow disease)? Then they don't need to cover that by insurance? But a big company does? Care to explain your position?

Jeppen, the ower of a hospital or chemical plant gets without any problems an insurance, the same is true for owners PV and wind, period. The owner of a power plant does not get an insurance.

Therefore, equal playing fields would kill nukes economically, a aspect you do not understand, and therefore utilities with nukes are not interested in a change of the current situation.

BTW the last generation of Repower wind turbines give onshore in northern Germany > 4000 FLH and will go for around 1700 EUR kW, would you still build nukes, that is stupid with prices > 3500 EUR kW.

Jeppen, the ower of a hospital or chemical plant gets without any problems an insurance, the same is true for owners PV and wind, period. The owner of a power plant does not get an insurance.

You're wrong. All gets insurance. None of them gets unlimited insurance. Only NPPs are asked for unlimited insurance, even though worst-case accidents are much more costly for medical companies, food industries and chemical plants.

Therefore, equal playing fields would kill nukes economically, a aspect you do not understand,

No, an equal playing field would make nukes thrive. You haven't done the math. Do it!

BTW the last generation of Repower wind turbines give onshore in northern Germany > 4000 FLH and will go for around 1700 EUR kW, would you still build nukes, that is stupid with prices > 3500 EUR kW.

Yes, I would still build reactors since they produce baseload power and have twice the capacity factor and three times the life.

We are not going to learn anything useful from Chernobyl. The recording keeping was poor and I'm certain much of the information has been intentionally suppressed.

However, I do hope we can learn something from Fukushima. Although the record-keeping may again be not so great and it will be decades before we can learn much.

As someone else pointed out, there is not much to be learned from bombs dropped on Japan since that was not a large amount of radioactive material and it got massively distributed from the bombs.

So I think our full knowledge of humans with contamination is not good. But I certainly won't volunteer to be a guinea pig.

Eric, This is a matter of perception. Ch & F are habitable ideed. You only have a risk of X% to get cancer after Y years on the average. As soon as X goes down enough, Y rises enough or the spread around the average rises enough (to make the data lose their predictive value) mankind will colonize these regions again. Might not take too long after all.

Depends on our tolerance for X and Y. Its a tradeoff, available land for cheap -cost X,Y cancer risk.

Now, I can see other uses. One of which is as an unihabitted ecological scientific preserve. You could also add energy infrastructure (or other infrastructure) that doesn't need to be continuously manned. Hydro, wind and PV plants come to mind. So we could still get power out of the area, even though human visitation is only sporadic. These later uses are probably not incompatible with the preserve.

Wow, that is really a great idea. You don't want to do any agriculture there since the products would be contaminated. You don't want people to be there due to radiation and contamination. But energy infrastructure that just collects energy and transmits electricity out of the area via wires is a great use for contaminated areas. Just some limited exposure to workers to who initially build the plants and maintenance workers that do some periodic maintenance. A great place for wind turbines that no one will complain about.

Or even (choke choke) biomass growing/burning. As long as it can be done without too many humans attending the robot woodcutters. And those workers can be wearing face masks -or whatever is appropriate, so they won't be breathing the local dust, or drinking the local water, or eating local foods, so their exposure per hour should be many times lower than someone living at the same place.

If one burns contaminated biomass, then it mobilizes the radioactive isotopes into the air which distributes them. Bad idea.

"... then it mobilizes the radioactive isotopes into the air ..." Is that right? Just wondering. I mean: would that really be a problem? I suppose the radioactive isotopes are rather heavy and stay in the bottom ash. Some might be in the fly ash and might be captured with a particulate filter or an electrostatic precipitator. Is it to be expected that significant fractions of isotopes would leave such an installation in an uncontrolled way? Incineration of low level radioactive waste is a well known technique to reduce its volume.


The Guardian, Monday 25 April 2011

"A consortium of Ukrainian and international scientists is making an urgent call for a $13.5m (£8.28m) programme to prevent potentially catastrophic wildfires inside the exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl's ruined nuclear power plant.

The fear is that fires in the zone could release clouds of radioactive particles that are, at the moment, locked up in trees, held mainly in the needles and bark of Scots pines."

Luckily, perhaps, in the event of a forest fire, the particles might not travel as far as they did during the initial accident when particles were sent to very high levels due to the intense heat of the burning reactor. So they may fall to the ground before contaminating most of Europe. Again.

Consider that coal plants release Uranium into the air when they burn - yes there would be some of the material cycled outside of the zone in an airborne form.

The interesting twist on this whole idea - mandatory drafting of labor to go do this job. If there are too many people VS the labor needed why not a lottery system where the more energy your parents/grandparents used the more lottery tickets you have assigned to you.

Don't paint all countries with the same brush. The countries that have to deal with extremely toxic, liquid waste are generally those which did significant amounts of nuclear weapon research and manufacture. Countries which never did any nuclear weapons development (Canada, Germany, Sweden, etc.) have a much easier disposal problem to deal with. Even among those countries which do have nuclear weapons, the situation in the US and Russia is likely unique due to the enormous pressure both countries were under in the early part of the cold war to develop better nuclear weapons and manufacture them in quantity. Long term disposal of the wastes from those high priority programs would have been a low priority at the time.

Some consideration should be given to the fact that the US and Russia have significantly reduced their nuclear arsenals. No nuclear weapons have been used since 1945 despite the growing number of countries that have them.

And how does your above response address the idea of the flawed actions of flawed Men?

We simply have to accept flaws, and also accept nuclear meltdowns. They, as every other accident type, should be minimized within the constraints of ordinary cost-benefit analysis. Current regulatory framework is likely to rigid and too costly and should be taken down a notch or two.

No. And No. We do NOT have to accept nuclear meltdowns. That's the point.

Risk assessment is not just the odds of an accident happening - it includes the consequences of that accident happening. A nuclear power plant "accident" is not just like any other old industrial accident.

Google "precautionary principle".

Yes, we do have to accept (for some value of "accept") nuclear meltdowns. If we don't, the damage to us is far worse.

Yes, a nuclear power plant accident is like any other old industrial accident. Lots of industrial accidents have been worse.

Nobody has shown the precautionary principle to be safe, so, according to the precautionary principle, we can't use it.

You are not making any sense.

He is being consistent in his argument. It only doesn't make sense if one tries to apply logic to the reasons to build fission plants in mass.

Note how Jeppen hasn't bothered to tell us where the pictures of his land that is now owned near Chernyobly or Fukushima. It is a case where someone far removed from the problem is telling us all how there is no problem.

Constantly telling people to move to Chernobyl or buy Chernobyl proporty is rather juvenile. Of course Chernobyl's legacy is a problem, and of course I wouldn't choose to live in the worst contaminated areas. I just try to put that problem in perspective - to show that this sacrifice is very small in comparison.

Should we really prioritize not having 0.001% of our landmass excluded due to radiation over fixing AGW, coal particulate deaths and mountaintop removal? Isn't it a good thing that we can evacuate a small piece of temporarily contaminated land, compared to coal contamination where there is nowhere to hide?

If you let go of BAU, we can eliminate nuclear fission, coal, crude oil and natural gas. As the decades pass Germany will lead the way provided the followers don't get lost in the cold polluted darkness while lagging too far behind.

There is no exclusion zone around Three Mile Island, site of the worst nuclear accident in the US. The containment building at TMI was of much heavier construction than the buildings at Chernobyl or Fukushima. Some radioactive gas was released to avoid overpressurizing the containment building, but material that could have contaminated the land downwind from the plant was retained within the containment building. The assumption that a nuclear accident will inevitably contaminate large areas of land is simply incorrect -- the chances of that happening can be reduced through proper plant design and construction.

The assumption that a nuclear accident will inevitably contaminate large areas of land is simply incorrect

Few people say that every accident will contaminate large areas of land. History shows that plenty accidents occured and only few did contaminate large areas of land. So this seems a strawman argument to me.

the chances of that happening can be reduced through proper plant design and construction

True, but the designers and the managers of the designers are only human. history also shows us that economics are often given more consideration then safety as well as unrealistic probabilistic statistics (which is always difficult when designing on-off machines, the sample size is too small). History also shows us that BWR reactors melt down on average every ~633 reactor years. Compare this to the numbers provided by industry and regulators and ask: why has probabilistic risk management not been able to better predict this? Optimistic engineers? Eager management? Anyway, it shows that safety statistics given for the new reactor designs is possibly very flawed. Unknown risk times immense costs, risk management dictates that in such cases we must err on the cautious side.

So, in that light, do we really need reactors with an unknown risk and a huge impact potential?

Unknown risk times immense costs

Well, still, it seems nuclear has been worth it so far. And it should get better from here on in, since lessons learned and undisputably improved designs lower the amount of accidents per reactor-year.

So, in that light, do we really need reactors with an unknown risk and a huge impact potential?

Yes, in the light of alternatives, we do.

Yes, with the hundreds of crappy, deteriorating, old plants around the world still operating and having their licenses extended ad-infinitum, things are bound to get better! More thousands of tons of your "tablespoons" piling up each year and nothing being done about them.

Not to mention these plants in areas that are becoming less politically stable and more likely to end up in war zones. You are the most extreme cornucopian selfish optimist I've ever seen! And a self-described bean-counter to boot!

Then opt for new builds and decommissioning of the oldest reactors.

You are the most extreme cornucopian selfish optimist I've ever seen!

I think a nuclear power plant is among the greatest gifts we can give our grandchildren. We take the up-front costs and then our children get clean, cheap power for 60-80 years. That's why, I've heard, some retiree groups in the US have objected to paying for nuclear builds - they won't have time to benefit. That's selfishness to me!

Build Integrated Fast Reactors on the sites of decommissioned light water reactors then use up all the spent fuel rods. You have 200 years of power with no long term waste.

Posted it before but I will post it again.

This site itself has had a number of articles examining Peak Uranium. As with all non-renewable resources there is only so much uranium on the Earth. If Uranium Nuclear Fission were to be a major replacement for current fossil fuel consumption it would only last 50-60 years. So we would be investing billions in another short term attempt to maintain already cancerous rates of material growth and BAU Wars at $1 Trillion per Year, Auto Addiction, leaf blowers, electric can openers, polluting gas lawn mowers, stores with open doors spilling their AC into the street,etc etc.

At what point do we REDUCE this wanton waste and convert to a sustainable way of life with
walkable cities and communities, more leisure time instead of endless supplies of stuff. Instead of stuff we can play music, dance, write, act in theaters and learn?

What is the point of all this accumulation of stuff in isolated auto addicted suburbs with
no community, or interaction with neighbors save the bumper of a car?

Anyhow here are some previous Oildrum articles on Peak Uranium:




As usual nobody knows exactly when Peak Uranium would occur until it is definitely over just like Peak Oil. But it is the same issue that it is a nonrenewable resource which will run out
and before running out simply become not viable to mine any more economically.

Why anybody would want to invest billions in a "solution" with known toxic byproducts for centuries, with gargantuan safety risks which have NEVER been privately insured because the risks are so large, which could also be used for nuclear weapons leading to nuclear annihilation, with also major risks from terrorists or bombed reactors for a mere 50-100 more years of rampant conspicuous consumption is beyond me.

OR we could invest billions in Green Transit and a Green New Deal which drastically reduces resource consumption and uses renewable resources at levels which could be sustainable for centuries...

For myself the choice is stark and clear as to which is preferable...

I agree North America should cut its use. But the world is closing in on 9 billion people, and we need energy for them to run schools, hospitals, theaters and more.

Of course, breeding nuclear fuel makes peak uranium a non-issue.

Did you read any of the links I provided jeppen?

Please study them and then respond. I really do not think you understand the basic realities which TOD has been studying and trying to educate people about.

Another critical reading to truly understand our current conundrum is "The Limits to Growth":




Read these and see what you think please.

You also might want to read Lester Brown's Plan B which provides actions which can be taken to insure sustainability. Lester Brown has been studying resource issues for decades beginning as a soils scientist.



Welcome to TOD!!

Thank you for the suggestions and for your warm welcome! I'm not really new to TOD, but a very infrequent poster.

Regarding your uranium links, I didn't read them before but now I have, but pretty quickly. With the risk of being attacked by eric, I think there was no mention of the reference academic works on uranium, i.e Deffeyes. He estimates that if you accept one tenth ore grade, the resource grows 300-fold. Since uranium is very cheap still, and extraction cost is linear with ore grade, we need not worry about peak uranium at all.

That there currently seems to be little uranium in more expensive categories is due to that few has bothered prospecting those resources, since there is enough cheaper uranium reserves. If uranium extraction balloons, reserves will balloon right along.

Uranium follows the same trajectory as Peak Oil which in fact has been shown to be a good model for resource depletion of nonrenewable resources in general. There is gold in the oceans but how much does it cost to get it?

But why oh why are we going to continue with endless wasteful material growth?
Does Mitt Romney really need multiple 20,000 square foot homes? Are electric can openers really critical to the survival of humanity? What does humanity achieve with the trillions spent annually on endless Wars?

Do we really need 2 ton personal cars which lead to 30,000 deaths per year, hundreds of thousands of injuries, and the paving over of mile upon mile of Green space?
I love where I live which was called "Fairyland" by somebody on my train from another town because it is an eminently walkable community. We know all our neighbors and we support each other because we see and talk to each other as we walk around.
How many people have you met in a car?

The US also faces an epidemic of obesity from Auto Addiction and the cutoff of walkable communities, bikepaths or sidewalks in isolated McMansions. Luckily the younger generation is moving towards walkable communities because the appeal of the
car is rapidly waning.

We need to build a world for people not endless conspicuous consumption and greed which will not poison the planet but foster joy in community and other people. Why would we not invest in that FIRST!

Uranium follows the same trajectory as Peak Oil

First, how do you know? Second, how do you know where we are on the curve? If you look at cost of uranium versus price of power, it seems that we have only begun to climb the uranium curve.

Does Mitt Romney really need multiple 20,000 square foot homes? Are electric can openers really critical to the survival of humanity?

This is quite US centric. Most of the material wealth in the world is in the form of decent infrastructure, decent homes, decent schools and hospitals, very useful appliances such as dishwashers, laundry machines and so on.

I love where I live which was called "Fairyland" by somebody on my train from another town because it is an eminently walkable community.

Again, not much of the world is as car-centric as the US. If you solve your issues in the US, energy consumption still needs to go up.

Why would we not invest in that FIRST!

Why not tell teens to abstain instead of giving them contraceptives and rubbers?

Are electric can openers really critical to the survival of humanity?

orbit7er, personally I prefer the manual can openers.

There is no exclusion zone around Three Mile Island, site of the worst nuclear accident in the US.

No there isn't an exclusion zone, but there are elevated cancer rates downwind. One is an administrative creation, the other is real.

No, there are no elevated cancer rates downwind. That's just bad science.

Well, I'll go with the findings of more qualified people

When a lake is so toxic from processing Nuclear material a Human will die after 1 hour standing at the lake's shore

Hmm. Sounds very dramatic, but I guess then the easy solution is to not go there, right? Sure, bad thing not being able to go everywhere anytime, but care to compare nuclear footprint with other power sources' on a per-kWh-basis?

Their moral failing I guess.

You talk a lot about morals. Would you like to explain what ethics you subscribe to. I do know it's not consequentialism or utilitarianism.

RE; 'Don't Go there' .. well, of course the overarching point is that we watch this result and learn not to irresponsibly set up more situations where people and whole communities who ARE there have to lose home, land and history and Leave it, because we were too glib and unfazed by the consequences of our actions.

What is Immoral is that there ARE people still confidently arguing to set up and continue with existing facilities that stand a great risk of turning into no-mans lands again and again.

I don't think that you have really sussed out the consequentialism argument very thoroughly.

well, of course the overarching point is that we watch this result and learn not to irresponsibly set up more situations where people and whole communities who ARE there have to lose home, land and history and Leave it, because we were too glib and unfazed by the consequences of our actions.

Is the problem that I learnt division when little? That I am able and willing to divide consequences with the size of benefits and compare with alternative consequences-benefit pairs?

What is Immoral is that there ARE people still confidently arguing to set up and continue with existing facilities that stand a great risk of turning into no-mans lands again and again.

Fukushima evacuated what, 500 square miles, and that will be halved every thirty years. How much land area will global warming evacuate, and what is the halving time of that evacuation?

I don't think that you have really sussed out the consequentialism argument very thoroughly.

But I have. I'm very much a bean-counter.

Care to compare nuclear footprint with other power sources' on a per-kWh-basis?

This will probably turn out terrible format-wise:

----------------- --------- --------- ------- ----------------------------------
Coal – world avg. 1,000,000 161.00 6,500 (26% world energy, 50% of elec.)
Coal – China 278.00 Utilizing heavily-manual practices
Coal – USA 15.00 Mostly open-pit & u/g machine
Oil 342,000 36.00 9,500 (36% of world energy)
Natural Gas 23,000 4.00 5,750 (21% of world energy)
Biofuel/Biomass 12.00
Peat 12.00
Solar (rooftop) 6 0.44 12 (less than 0.1% of world energy)
Wind 22 0.15 150 (less than 1% of world energy)
Hydro 290 0.10 2,897 (EU deaths, 2.2% of world energy)
Hydro + Banqiao) 3,500 1.40 2,500 (~2500 TWh/yr + 171,000 Banqiao dead)
Nuclear 104 0.04 2,600 (5.9% of world energy)
----------------- --------- --------- ------- -------------------------------------
World 1,390,000 55.7 25,000 Terawatt-hours
Unaccounted for 83,500 55.69 1,500 TWh = 6.00% … fatalities prorated

From http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/lowering-deaths-per-terawatt-hour-for.html

Interesting how coal and the mining of coal is included in the chart but the effects of Uranium mining isn't listed. Almost like there is cherry picking.....

Good thing http://www.ratical.org/radiation/UraniumInNavLand.html goes into such.

Uranium mining is very benign. Much of it is ISL, a lot of other uranium is a byproduct from copper mining and such (thereby cleaning mine tails in a way), or from well-managed high-concentration Canadian ores. When there is health impacts, they are not worse than for other heavy-metal mining, since the toxic effects of uranium dominates the radiation effects.

Certainly Nuke power fatalities are low. Although some activists put out huge numbers, that probably wouldn't stand up to epidemiologic analysis. But as recent history has shown, the fatalities from this accidents may be low, but the economic losses from land abandonment are very high. But, at least we should be able to put dollar figures on that. My guess, is these dollar loses with the historic accident rate are likely too high. (Chernobyl, Fukushima, 3-mile island (a close call, so it should count as a fraction of a major accident), dividing by a couple thousand reactor lifetimes. We will probably have to get the accident rate down several fold before the economics works out.

The high numbers come from use of the LNT (Linear No-Threshold) hypothesis applied to world population, not epidemiological analysis
R Wilson MD Radiology ret.

"..will probably have to get the accident rate down several fold.."

While in the meantime, the reactors and all their infrastructure and storage pools are aging with the accelerated conditions of heat, pressure and embrittlement.. I'd like to think the maintenance budgets and standards are being fattened up, not trimmed back, but what are the odds?

We will probably have to get the accident rate down several fold before the economics works out.

I would assume the opposite. Between Chernobyl and Fukushima, there was some 60 trillion kWh of nuclear power produced. I think the land value is not that significant in relation to that.

And of course, the accident rate of new plants should be orders of magnitude lower. The lessons from Fukushima should also lower the accident rate manifold in the current fleet.

I would assume ... I think the land value

And upthread:

I'm very much a bean-counter.

On one hand - you are a bean counter and the other hand can only just "think" and "assume"?

The cleanup of Fukushima has one estimate of $250 billion.

But given the source of this 60 trillion kWh "data" - I'm gonna go with out of the gate you are incorrect and going to ask you to explain how you obtained this number. Because taking the production faceplate * number of days does not equal actual production.

The Fukushima estimates I've seen has been more like $100 billion. And a lot of that is over-the-top cleanup operations and safety measures. But I'm sure they can push it to $250 billion as well, and I'll grant that it's not that unlikely. Everything can be arbitrarily expensive when politicians are using other peoples money.

But given the source of this 60 trillion kWh "data" - I'm gonna go with out of the gate you are incorrect and going to ask you to explain how you obtained this number.

Here are yearly data from the BP statistical review of world energy, in TWh for nuclear, from 1986 to 2011: 1736,3 1893,2 1946,8 2002,3 2096,8 2113,9 2186,9 2227,5 2324,2 2407,9 2391,4 2431,1 2524,0 2582,4 2655,1 2697,9 2643,9 2761,8 2769,5 2807,2 2748,2 2735,7 2713,9 2768,1 2648,7. The sum is 60814,8 TWh. Happy?


Not at all. I have to keep wasting my time showing your lack of veracity.

Your original claim was:
Between Chernobyl and Fukushima, there was some 60 trillion kWh of nuclear power produced.

Because of your history of fabrication I asked how, exactly, you come up with this 60 Trillion figure and get a response of:

'Here is the world production and my source.'

Which is not at all the claim of how 2 specific locations produced a specific amount of energy over the lifetime of the plants at those locations. In fact the dates cited 1986 to 2011 show how the "facts" Jeppen uses to support his position should be called into question as April 26th 1986 was when Chernobyl energy production "had issues".

Given the argument is 'the value of the land is less than the value of the energy produced':
Between Chernobyl and Fukushima, there was some 60 trillion kWh of nuclear power produced. I think the land value is not that significant in relation to that.

To take this from what a self-identified bean counter "feels" and "thinks" to an actual comparison more information is needed. Things like:
1) The 'value' of the land pre-devaluation due to the demonstrated failure of fission power. (because taking the value post-failure isn't equitable)
2) The cost of production to create the alleged 60 trillion kWh.

Because of your history of fabrication

You're being, ahem, uncharitable here. But you're free to put yourself in whatever light you wish.

Which is not at all the claim of how 2 specific locations produced a specific amount of energy over the lifetime of the plants at those locations.

Huh? The "between" I was talking about was time. And the amount 60 trillion kWh was global production between those two points in time.

The 'value' of the land pre-devaluation due to the demonstrated failure of fission power.

Feel free to give an estimate. If not, then please complain over and over about me not giving it.

The "between" I was talking about was time. And the amount 60 trillion kWh was global production between those two points in time.

So are you trying to set up some kind of comparison of worldwide production of electrical power VS land cost? (stipulating for this argument that cost == value)

Let me further understand: You cite two physical locations (Chernoybl and Fukushima) and want the readership to somehow understand that this should mean Time? When expressions of Time have known units and expression like a number then a time-marker like the word year. Here is an example:

From 1986 to 2011.

then please complain over and over about me not giving it.


One idea behind the burden of proof is that someone has to prove something or we have no reason to agree with the claim being made.

You made the claim - tradition has you with the "burden of proof".

So are you trying to set up some kind of comparison of worldwide production of electrical power VS land cost? (stipulating for this argument that cost == value)

Well, just between nuclear accident costs (including land cost) and nuclear production. As the accident cost per kWh is very low, nuclear economics isn't (shouldn't be) affected very much.

You cite two physical locations (Chernoybl and Fukushima) and want the readership to somehow understand that this should mean Time?

To me, and in at least some common parlance, Chernobyl and Fukushima are events, rather than places. Btw, if something doesn't make sense, the first thing you should do is perhaps not to scream "liar" at the top of your lungs, but to search for an interpretation that makes sense (or just politely ask).

You made the claim - tradition has you with the "burden of proof".

Actually, the start of it was that "enemy of state" claimed the opposite. I said I disagreed. So the burden of proof is on him.

Nop. Not happy.

(1) give your references for the $100bn cleanup. In particular explain in detail how politics costs $100bn (not just empty accusations).
(2) How are we supposed to derive Chernobyl's and Fukushima's production from the World's TWh of nuclear?

The postings from Jeppen are like some strange kind of test or trolling. Post obvious lies and see if they get called out.

In the Malthus thread stating how the source of a quote is without reference, when it has a reference number at the end of the quote along with a reference page and here make a claim about energy production for a plant that became non-functional in 1986 and claiming that output data from 1986 to 2011 prove his point and is the source of his data.

In the Malthus thread stating how the source of a quote is without reference

It'll be interesting to see how long you'll keep reminding me of that.

I think he said enough by IDing himself as a bean-counter. That's the dimension he wants and likes.

Some things have value and an importance outside of the market price for beans, (Like the moral value of setting up systems that can quickly render land uninhabitable and costing that society real treasure and loss of security..) but it seems clear enough that such debates with Jeppen will never show these things in any broader light.

At that point, it's just feeding an unproductive discussion. Spare yourself (and us) if you can. It takes an effort.

At that point, it's just feeding an unproductive discussion. Spare yourself (and us) if you can. It takes an effort.

I've already resolved for future threads that new people respond to his postings I'll point back to the 'there is no reference for that quote' when there was in the Malthus discussion and this discussion for the 'I want to express time so I'll do that via citing physical locations' not to mention the re-iteration of the idea that 'Fission power plant failures are an acceptable risk' and then wrap it all up in a frame of 'are you wanting to waste your time with deliberate confusion of terms and claims that lack attribution?' Toss in a caution to ask for defining of terms - a nailing down of the linguistic jello that is a Jeppen post.

This part of the discussion did at least produce some data - an estimate of the total kWhs produced at the Fukishima complex and that does have some value. If TOD still featured the user page and links I'd have added that.

Responding to Jeppen did result in TempleMyst participation and perhaps some education might be happening there. The most valuable part seems to be the discussion on existing in a world where the power for consumption ebbs and flows. (I'm assuming TempleMyst is being mostly sincere VS the correct call out that was done over the 1st post VS arguments later made by TempleMyst)

Now this all started with the topic framing of 'is this Fission plant having a problem due to a computer virus' - perhaps in the next Drumbeat that can be explored. If a report comes out that it was I'm rather sure someone will make that post in whatever future drumbeat it may occur in and then perhaps a discussion can happen.

Moderators here must like your stance on the topics. If I did what you do, I think I'd be banned.

It would be a welcomed change to have you provide links backing up what you said or how you came up with your position VS handwaving.

I don't know what the ratio of links in posts are for me - but I'm rather sure Seraph would be #1. Darwinian does a darn fine job on such also. Others like Rockman 'serve with distinction*' by being a Subject Matter Expert or Todd/Ghungh/Hereinhalifax as others. Even when I'm posting the 'weird' crap like electrostimulation of plants I try to include a reference or 2. (Locally I was having a discussion about elecrostimulation and the other person was 'sceptical' until I started citing Marijuana growers and suddenly it was 'they take that stuff seriously - your USDA reports from the 1960s are meaningless but now that you've presented pot grower data, perhaps there IS something to this idea') Showing your data source sure does seem to be what is valued by management here on TOD.

Be useful in these discussions - show us WHY you believe what you believe. Show us why your claims have validity rather than some kind of @$$pull.

*let us not forget the staff who take the time to run this place including moderation and providing the topics for our communal thought experiments.

I provide quite a bit of links and there is no doubt in my mind that my signal-to-noise ratio here is above average. Also, please remember providing links is not all. I present fairly good links and data, whereas you link to complete ... well, I better not say it.


Note that my estimate of 1 trillion kWh is for Chernobyl. For Fukushima (also about 4.5GW installed), there's the wikipedia reference:

 Net generation	877,692 GW·h 

That is 877 TWh or 0.87 trillion kWh .

So Chernobyl and Fukushima together have produced something in the order of 1.87 trillion kWh in their lifetime.

Jeppen's message after clarification seems to be: Who cares if those Japs and Ukranians got screwed. The world produced 60 trillion kWh between Chernobyl and Fukushima which makes up for it (for us, not for them, of course). So, we produced:

60 x 1012kWh x €3c/kWh ~ €1800 bn,

enough to pay for those messy cleanups (a mere $500bn http://bit.ly/Iq7Nf5).

Yes, that's about it. In all accidents, the victims get screwed while the rest keep enjoying the benefit of the activity. Nothing specific for nuclear.

Ahhh, I though Chernobyl only had 4 reactors, not 6 hence my confusion.

Thank you for clearing that up and I find your further cited source of under a trillion kWh production useful to know where it came from.

I don't understand the point of comparing world production to local damage when the local damage will be paid for by local people and not the world. And I'm not sure you'll get buy-in on such an idea that world producers should pay to cover local damages.

I don't understand the point of comparing world production to local damage when the local damage will be paid for by local people and not the world.

That's why we have coal plants, I guess. That externalizes damage and internalizes benefits, whereas nuclear does the opposite. Think globally and act locally is a good greenish slogan over here, don't know if you heard it.

And I'm not sure you'll get buy-in on such an idea that world producers should pay to cover local damages.

Let's try!

Or maybe we should just give it a rest for awhile. I don't want the same arguments repeated every day in the Drumbeat.

I suggest a quota on comments per drumbeat for each member, as this site is becoming unreadable. It would seem that 10 comments would normally be sufficient. More than that, maybe you ought to apply for a key post...

We have considered that, but I don't think it would be fair to the average poster. The average person might be very interested in a particular discussion and post 20 or 30 comments one day, then little or nothing for several days, even weeks or months. There are some very interesting and useful discussions with that pattern. And newbies are often very enthusiastic and post a lot when they first find this site, then settle down. IME, most people naturally have a sense of reciprocity, and restrain themselves from hogging the conversation.

Some don't, alas. I think it's best to deal with those individually rather than imposing a draconian rule on everyone.

For now, I will remind people: what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Continue the discussion where it arose, rather than bringing it forward into a new Drumbeat. Give people who want to move on to other topics the breathing room to do so. It's the polite thing to do.

I kind of agree. If you don't accept that these things can be measured in monetary terms, and insist that it is simply a moral maxim that accidents this large and infrequent must never happen (irrespective of how much daily death and costs it saves), then we have no real basis for discussion.

What I get out of this is that you support "The ends justify the means."

You're quite happy to have X people die/be displaced/etc. so that you can have Y amount of electricity. How those dead/displaced/etc. people feel about this is of no consequence to you. You've decided that it's better for them to die/be displaced/etc. than for you to not have that electricity.

That's why I said "selfish".

Yes, and it's better that X people die from train accidents than me not having access to train rides. How the dead people feel about this is of no consequence to me. Very selfish, perhaps, but this kind of thinking, we have no civilisation. We can't even form families without accepting common risks for common benefits.

"How the dead people feel about this is of no consequence to me."

Says it all...

I think you can do better.

I'm sorry you're not happy, and that you don't understand. How about some googling of your own? And some flexibility in your reading comprehension?

$100b or $250B doesn't really matter. The higher figure gives .4cents per KWhour, which we can afford. Of course there should be some sort of global insurance fund, otherwise if a smallish country (even as big as Japan) has to absorb that sort of loss, it will really hurt.

But, I think its all a moot argument. The PR surrounding Nukes is now so bad, that few will be built outside of autocracies like China, who can ignore opinion.

The production of Fission power was to be a world-wide and help your fellow an kind of production with the 1950's "Atoms for peace" concept. Insurance and mutual help would be in line with such - but how do you sell that in a world where issues of sovereignty matters?

The situation in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe, and even Libya all create "uniquely interesting" issues for the idea of communal, peaceful fission power.

I've tried to spur a conversation about the worldwide use and denial of use that happens with civilian fission power by mentioning it on occasion but alas, that conversation never catches fire. I guess it'll have to wait for an event like a physical bombing of Iran's fission efforts as stuxnet wasn't interesting enough to have the discussion. (perhaps there are just no good subject matter experts on TOD to have the discussion)

So if the US and Sweden dismantles their civilian nuclear operations, how will this affect North Korea and Iran?

According the to Wiki the six reactors at Fukushima Diichi produced 877,692 GW·h = 878 billion kWh between 1971 and 2011. If the people who used that electricity pay for the clean-up, then their electric bills should have been increased by:

for $100 billion clean-up: 11.4 cents/kWh
for $250 billion clean-up: 28.5 cents/kWh

I remember TEPCO used some cheap methods of disposal, such as dumping radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean and vaporizing radioactive atoms into the atmosphere. TEPCO still has not compensated me for the damage they inflicted on me 10,000 km away. TEPCO argued that their radioactive fallout is the problem of the landowner whose property it landed upon. If they stopped externalizing their costs onto their victims, I am certain the cost would be well over $250 billion.

Was it you that had your US rainwater collection contaminated by Fukushima, and thus couldn't use it? Do you think that the coal that has replaced the nuclear generation in Japan contaminate your water more or less than the Fukushima accident?

I'll give it a shot.

reactor 1: 1977 - 1996 (minus 1/2 a year for partial core meltdown in 82)
reactor 2: 1978 - 1991 (caught on fire)
reactor 3: 1981 - 2000
reactor 4: 1983 - 1986
reactor 5: 1984 (70% complete)
reactor 6: 1984 (?)
THe 4 working Chernobyl reactors totalled 4 GW of power.

So a total of 52 years (counting incomplete years and such). Capacity factors in those years in the Nuclear industry was between 55% - 70% [ref].
So it ran for about

365days/yr*52yr*0.6capacity*24h/day ~ 270,000h 

As electricity was cheap too (too cheap to meter but let's say €2c/kWh) then it produced:

4,000,000 kW x 270,000h x 0.02c/kWh ~ €21.6bn of electricity 

(that's ~1 trillion kWh by the way)

Let's assume labour and materials were dirt cheap in the USSR, and 1GW cost €1bn, maintenance and labour included for 52 years.
So €5bn in construction (assume reactor 6 was 30% built), 250bn cleanup.

Yep, that's + 21bn - 5bn - 250bn = -232bn! I'm sure those €21bn of income were all worth it!
By the way, did Fukushima add the other 59 trillion kWh? I leave that exercise to the reader.

(that's ~1 trillion kWh by the way)

Thank you for doing the research and showing your math to come up with a number.

One claim about "what they feel" is 60 trillion kWh and calculations with dates shows only 1 trillion.

And to TemplarMyst - are you understanding why claims about how wonderful Fission power are treated with scepticism? As long as you are treating this TOD experience as an education perhaps you can do some of your own research and show the numbers to support or not support the 60 trillion "feeling"?

Other math - 1 trillion at $0.10 a kWh is $100 billion So the cost of the cleanup in Japan is worth all of the power produced - based on the above calcuations. And somehow into this economic picture of a net of $0 economic value the land is LESS valuable than the power produced?

Land elsewhere in Japan has dropped in value:


The precise value of the abandoned cities, towns, agricultural lands, businesses, homes and property located within the roughly 310 sq miles (800 sq km) of the exclusion zones has not been established. Estimates of the total economic loss range from $250[iv]-$500[v] billion US.

$100 billion in power production VS $250-$500 billion in land value. Remember the standard this is being judged by:
I think the land value is not that significant in relation to [the value of the power produced over the lifetime of the plant]

You still haven't caught on to your misinterpretation. Lots of hot air to no use. Oh well.

$100 billion, anyway, is, divided by 60 trillion kWh, $0.0017/kWh.


I'm still here, and I'm still getting educated. I do have a day job (thankful for that) so I won't be able to follow up until the evenings here.

I have several more questions and/or declarations and/or just plain ramblings, but I am in agreement with folks that this thread is getting very long and extremely hard to follow. I don't know if there's a way to request the moderators to provide an occasional open thread on Nuclear or not, but I think it'd be useful and helpful. I suspect there are other nuclear-interested folks out there who might get involved if there were, perhaps some of the engineers, physicists and radiation med folks on some of the other blogs.

So far as the skepticism I had rather expected it. It's all par for the course. One of the irritating things I find in trying to get educated on things is the blogosphere tends to get about as partisan as our delightful Congress. If you post something that goes against the grain you tend to get ostracized. Some of the nuclear folks here, as well as the cornucopians, would probably attest to that here.

But if one automatically dismisses another point of view how can ideas be exchanged, and minds changed? If we're all siloed off we'll only hear what we want to hear. Sure, some things are silly, but some things are worth discussing too. This is one of the better energy blogs in my opinion, not least because the commentors are generally respectful and experienced.

I think what I'll do, since I don't remember ever seeing an Open Thread on TOD at all, is to do what everybody else does. With the next Drum Beat I'll just start a topic in the Comments section.

Which is what I'll plan to do. I'd like to go into the low level radiation stuff some more. I followed some of the links that folks posted. Have some questions and thoughts. And still haven't gotten much direct feedback on one of my underlying assumptions - that we may need to extract CO2 from the air at some point, given what's happening. Still don't know where we get that energy from, but please don't post a response here - I'll start a thread on the next Drum Beat.

Thanks to all.

Leanan can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it's considered bad form to drag a discussion from Drumbeat to Drumbeat. Keep it here.

I just saw Leanan's comment upthread a bit. I'm happy to do whatever the convention is, and it looks like it's to keep it in Vegas.

I'm on the train home now. I'll get my links together a bit later this eve. Wanna go back into low level radioactivity.

Er, that didn't sound quite right... ;)

We have had nuclear key posts many times in the past.

We also had daily Fukushima posts for awhile. Eventually, we dropped them. Not because it wasn't a relevant topic, but because we felt it was not productive. The discussion got very heated, and no one who was very knowledgeable weighed in. Our staff here has a lot of oil expertise, but little nuclear knowledge. The threads filled up the political flames, rabid anti-nuke stuff, and paid pro-nuke shills. There was no one had the knowledge or credentials to cut through the morass.

I'll start a thread on the next Drum Beat.

Please don't. Continue to discuss it in this thread all you want, but don't bring it forward into a new thread. Give it a rest, at least for a few days.

paid pro-nuke shills.

Now I might think such on occasions but I don't remember mentioning such.

Is there proof that can be shared that the shills were paid? VS being just plain old useful idiots.

rabid anti-nuke stuff

What should the reaction be to "misstatements" (statements which are lies by outright boldface liars)?

"oh, fiddle de-de. it seems there is a difference of opinion on the idea that the quote does or does not have a reference"

Should the lie be allowed to stand unchallenged?

What should be the response to under or overstating a case? "oh gee, one person says the energy in a tablespoon of matter gives you a lifetime of energy and another says its closer to a Kilogram. I guess we'll never know due to a lack of not only links but because one is a volume measurement without noting if its a heaped or level volume measurement and the other is a weight measurement. I guess its just a difference of opinion with no hope to ever figure it out."

I know better than to expect people to ignore hot-button issues. That's why, for the sake of the site, I ask people not to bring old arguments forward into new threads. The argument will undoubtedly arise again. I just want everyone else to get a break from it.

"I just want everyone else to get a break from it."

Here, Here!. I just collapse the thread, especially if certain people are involved. Always ends up as SSDD. I collapsed the thread Wed. night and there wasn't much left of Drumbeat. "Give it a rest" sounds like a good plan.

Is there proof that can be shared that the shills were paid? VS being just plain old useful idiots.

Good that you show some kind of reason. Of course nobody is paid to comment here. (And if there was, it's just as likely that the anti-nukers are paid shills for the fossil industry.) I'm happy to be useful, though, as some here isn't.

With the next Drum Beat I'll just start a topic in the Comments section.

I believe the local custom is to use the topics listed at the top of the drumbeat or find something that hasn't been mentioned in the past that ties to TOD themes.

extract CO2 from the air at some point, given what's happening. Still don't know where we get that energy from,

A common way for such extraction is the use of plants/photons. I've posted stuff about biochar, perhaps you will find biochar a way to do that.

Looked briefly at biochar. And Freeman Dyson seems to think it'd take about a trillion trees, as I recall.

We'll need lots of shovels. ;-)

How many "tree" equivalents went into creating the problem?
(and here's one answer http://energyquest.ca.gov/transportation/gasoline.html )

Well, according to an expert - it takes 98 tons of prehistoric, buried plant material - that's 196,000 pounds - is required to produce each gallon of gasoline we burn in our cars, SUVs, trucks and other vehicles, according to a study conducted at the University of Utah.
"Can you imagine loading 40 acres worth of wheat - stalks, roots and all - into the tank of your car or SUV every 20 miles?"

How about:

Dukes also calculated that the amount of fossil fuel burned in a single year - 1997 was used in the study - totals 97 million billion pounds of carbon, which is equivalent to more than 400 times "all the plant matter that grows in the world in a year," including vast amounts of microscopic plant life in the oceans.

It took years to get the problem, why shouldn't it take years to get out of the problem?

You missed what I was talking about. Please see my reply to eric.

60 trillion kilo watts that just completely sent the wrong message to millions of people "develop Tokyo!" "go for the luxuries!" "build another department store!" "condominiums out the wazoo!": for Tokyo was the prime user of the elctricity from Fukushima Daiichi.

Completely the wrong message.

So now that the other reactors are shut down (many are quite old; some are built on active faults)
Now that the world economy is on the skids and Japan is printing money doubly fast to get oil (the price of oil is rising locally, however, thwarting their intentions.)
Now that things are really really bad, the millions of people in condominiums will just have that much of a harder time.

Because Fukushima, and all nuclear reactors, lie.
They tell people to do what they should not do.
Fossil fuels also have gotten everyone's hopes and expectations up a lot.
Fossil fuels are kind of a matched set with nuclear power: the machines, the mining, the maintenance, the cement.....hard to see nuclear happening without fossil fuels.
Then people think it will Just Be That Way Forever.
Cars forever, huge TVs forever, shopping malls forever.

But no. It makes sense that in a cosmos like ours, which is cold and still and lifeless, that all of the engines, lights, and complex stuff we have is rather anomalous.

Our sun warming the earth is the basic relationship that will outlast all the reactors, by billions of years.

And people who can be satisfied with just the sun---and there are not many of them now----will one day actually be vindicated.

They may live in so called "poverty", and have very basic lifestyles. They may have short lifespans by our standards. But they will not have to worry and fret about their tomorrow.

Whereas those people in Tokyo are getting increasingly worried about their future. A cement wasteland is what they created, with some good intentions and some stupid ones. And they can certainly thank Fukushima Daiichi for some of the decisions they made.

I have spent many days in Tokyo and for 9 years I lived right outside it. The phrase Huge Cement Wasteland basically sums it up.

And people are worried. I know. I had lunch in Tokyo a few weeks ago with the president of one small company I do some freelance work for.

People there are starting to lose their faith in "economic solutions"....and so they should.

And Fukushima Daiichi is one of the entities they can thank for building up their faith in the first place, falsely.

That irrationality in judging risk would cause us to sometimes overestimate the risk and sometimes underestimate the risk would it not?

Seems to me that Fukushima type disasters are occasionally to be expected from a species that exhibits irrationality in judging risk.

Hi, Welcome.

By asking the question, you give the answer. "How will we staff the cleanup if we don't have a technology base?" The trivial answer is: "We won't. There will be no cleanup." I admit this is a bit of a worst case scenario. I believe there will be certain levels of cleanup efforts in certain areas, but the overall picture seems rather dark to me: once the electricity is generated and sold, and the plants have been shut down; profits are made and there is little incentive to spend money to cleanup. I see that not only as a consideration on the level of the powercompanies, but on the level of societies as a whole. In a certain sense cleaning up is a luxury. Societies might, in the near future, be confronted with other priorities than that.

The knowledge base exists in books and data storage and does not depend on the continuance of hardware or skilled workers. Computer modelling of improved designs can be done, it is subject to garbage in, garbage out but small scale experiments can chip away at that garbage in. Catastrophic failures of existing facilities will no doubt provide more data.

It is silly to throw away 99 percent of the Earth's store of fission energy because reprocessing attracts suicide terrorists. Why not postpone nuclear power until this problem is resolved? If it can not be resolved there is no future for humanity!

If it can not be resolved there is no future for humanity!

I can think of two ways to take that.
(1) We will develop the tech anyway, and the waste will kill us.
(2) Without the tech, we are doomed.
I suspect you meant (2). I don't think it is true. The one area where fission would be really useful is for spaceships. But I think we could accept a much greater risk per TWhour for a crucial but minority use of a technology. We would probably deem some low level of fission tech, such as the creation of medically useful isotopes to be worth the cost/benefit, even if bulk energy didn't clear the same hurdle.

The one area where fission would be really useful is for spaceships

A few interesting technological hurdles would need to be overcome but nuke-powered space based mining and refining of raw material sent to Man in a ready to use form sure seems like the next step in the Mankind as Locust model.

Space is rather man-hostile. Its no picnic for our machines, but machines will do better in space than squishy meat-sacs.


"Take a look at the back of Curiosity. Other rovers have solar panels, but Curiosity doesn't. Instead, there's a little white thing that looks cute, almost like a tail. Inside are eight boxes filled with pellets of nuclear fuel. This stuff is hot, so hot that the boxes glow bright red, and will glow for years to come. Think of it as nuclear charcoal. The fuel will keep the rover toasty on cold Martian nights and supply it with electricity."

"... than squishy meat-sacs."
They're Made Out of Meat

While I'm relieved that Curiousity made it through launch without anything happening that could have aerololized it's Plutonium over our heads, and now have no concern about it's danger to us.. (While it would be nice to envision the day when we had the chance to go pick it up and bring that fine hardware home again..)

Just the same, I remain highly impressed and instructed by the example of the other two, as Opportunity still pushes along purely on Sun Power, with a birthday coming up next week.

Not bad for a Solar PV EV on a planet with no service stations!


Eight years after landing on Mars for what was planned as a three-month mission, NASA's enduring Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is working on what essentially became a new mission five months ago.

If only they had put a little blower fan or a dust-brush on an arm up top, they could have kept the PV cleaner and gotten more power during the tougher periods.

"If only they had put a little blower fan or a dust-brush on an arm up top, they could have kept the PV cleaner and gotten more power during the tougher periods."

Just providing the example - but I completely agree with you about the PV. That particular article doesn't provide the whole story, either...the nuke-powered Curiosity actually banks power in batteries overnight for the trip during the day because it only puts out 110 Watts. It does do it continuously though and provides heat to keep the innards from turning into an ice cube - some of the equipment (like the batteries) require thermal regulation apparently.

It seriously takes hundreds of geniuses to not put a ten dollar duster on a multimillion dollar rover.

It is quite baffling that they would send the two PV rovers up there and be like "hot damn that worked well - lets nuke 'em!" Rather than just taking what was there and fixing what proved problematic...panel dusting capability, as well as a few "spare tires." It's entirely possible that Curiosity will become a stationary camera hobbled by the same wheel-loss that dealt the death blow to Spirit. Somehow they managed to mount a nuke on it, but not figure out that they should be carrying a few spare wheels.

It seriously takes hundreds of geniuses to not put a ten dollar duster on a multimillion dollar rover.

To be charitable to the engineers:

1) such would add weight.
2) such would add complexity - moving parts in a outdoor dusty environment.
3) the project was to take months not the years it did.

Let me pose another small nuclear situation for comments. The Wyoming Legislature is considering a bill to allow nuclear waste to be stored 'temporarily' in the state IF that waste is generated by a nuclear power plant also located in the state. We presently have none. This is one of those bills that seems to have appeared out of thin air - no public discussion or identification of interested parties. There is no public acknowledgement of any plans to build a nuke plant. In fact, even previous news stories on the bill itself are only available on the site of the major state newspaper - the Casper Star Trib - through a search. These stories do not occur in the typical 'by date' layout of recent past stories in a web browser. As an old Wyomingite, this smells. For you nuke insiders - any rumors or thoughts on what may be going on ?

Not a one that I know of.

Given Wyoming is dry and windy, I wouldn't pick it for a nuclear power station. I'd pick solar arrays in the Great Divide Basin and wind turbines near Casper, and an array of big sodium (from Green River trona) sulfur (reclaimed from gillette coal) batteries and pumped storage where you do have water.

Why nuclear is a good idea: it contains a s**tloaad of energy


and why it isn't: humans are in control


I will have to RTFA here to get your past stuff. I'm assuming I'll get some of your other ideas there too.

Of course Man is flawed and creates flawed creations. What I'm struggling with is the idea that civilian nuclear (fission) power is any more dangerous to our existence than our current energy systems. Witness climate change. (Renewable energy addressed below).

Magical systems are only magical until they actually exist. In which case they magically transform into mundane technology. While yes, there could be (I assume government/taxpayer supported) training for toxic cleanup, if that is our approach we will definitely not find any magical technology that may mitigate the problem, which might itself be superior to just burying things and hoping for the best.

In terms of wishing for magical systems, I can't really see much difference between wishing for a better way to handle nuclear waste and a way to create grid-level storage systems to supplement renewable (intermittent) power sources. I understand Germany has turned to lignite coal to provide what wind and solar cannot. And I think there are quite a few TOD articles on the inefficiencies associated with biofuels of various sorts. EROEI. That doesn't mean a new magical solution might not come up (smart grids on continental scales). It's just that they're still magical now too.

At a deeper level is the danger posed by civilian reactors, even current models (now 50 years old). There seems to be a lively debate in the radiation biology community on whether Linear No Threshold (LNT) is a sound approach to managing situations like, say, Fukushima. Something like a thousand people died in the evacuation from the area. Thus far not one person has died from the radiation, so far as I can tell.

I'm not saying nuclear is an ideal option. I'm not saying we aren't flawed. But given world energy requirements, and climate change, I'm just saying a low carbon energy source is something we still should be considering.

And whether we consider it here in the United States or not, others will and are. If it is in fact just too dangerous for we flawed humans, how do you propose we eliminate it? A global police force? Shall we send the Marines in to western China to dismantle their nascent reactor construction sites? Pakistan? India? Israel?

The djinn is out of the bottle. I'm inclined to think we'll just need to deal with it, and to deal with it we'll need an industry that at least has some idea how. Then wrap that industry in some sort of process to make it accountable.

But that's a subject for another thread. A good thread too. Corporate malfeasance is, like nuclear power, something we'll have to come to grips with too. Or it'll be our undoing.

a way to create grid-level storage systems to supplement renewable (intermittent) power sources

Perhaps the compromise is to accept a system that ebbs and flows with the energy flow. Having 24X7 power has created a situation where that is what is expected. Perhaps the 24x7 expectation comes at too high a price?

Non 24X7 power is what was created in places like Baghdad. Why is 24X7 expected/demanded in some places and considered 'acceptable' in others?

Thus far not one person has died from the radiation, so far as I can tell.

All depends on what one considers the important metric - harm or death.

There is harm that comes to biosphere and the biosphere's living creatures when there are failures like Fukushima. To hand wave it away with "no one died" is on par with the legal argument of "the radioactive material is on your land so we have no liability" argument TEPCO used.

The other issue here - so far as I can tell - what incentive do the authorities have in reporting a death? Remember that authorities in the interest of covering up the dangers of Fission based power sources went so far as to remove the bones of the dead and replace them with broomhandles.

Shall we send the Marines in to western China to dismantle their nascent reactor construction sites?

I believe such was done in Iraq by one party with munitions.

When Humans attack other Humans - why won't the fission power sources be targets? Has mankind advanced enough to place war behind it?

If it is in fact just too dangerous for we flawed humans

Work towards better Humans. Better humans would address the industry corruption problem would it not?

There is a big difference between 24/7 power, and 24/7 power, at full demand. The former is easily achieved, even with 100% generation from variable sources, the later may not be worth the price. I think we will end up somewhere in between.

The EPA estimate that 21,000 americans die prematurely each year of lung cancer caused by radioactive radon gas seeping into buildings from the ground http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html. None of the major nuclear accidents killed anywhere near this number of people.

Therefore it's OK to go into an elementary school with an assault rifle and take out 20 kids.

It's an apples and oranges comparison. Murdering school children doesn't benefit society in any way, whereas generating large amounts of carbon free electricity provides many benefits to society. Those who support the use of nuclear power would argue that the benefits far outweigh the risk and consequences of a nuclear accident. The average individual really doesn't understand the concept of relative risk. It's illogical to be worried about being killed by a nuclear accident while ignoring the much greater risk from a natural source of radiation.

Well of course it's apples to oranges! - that was exactly my point! Just pointing out the absurdity of your "logic" in comparing 'estimates of premature death' from radon to out and out numbers 'killed by nuclear accidents'.

What about premature deaths from Chernobyl? Fukushima? We don't know, do we. Maybe someday we will, though we probably won't be allowed to hear about it.

"It's illogical to be worried about being killed by a nuclear accident while ignoring the much greater risk from a natural source of radiation."

Again, your logic is absurd. First, I live in a high radon area (NH). No one ignores it, and most mortage lenders require a radon test. And then there are measures (sealing and ventilation) that can be taken.

Whatever the pros and cons of using nuclear fission to make electricity, comparisons to naturally occurring radon are a distraction. Comparing a man-made hazard to a naturally occurring hazard is obfuscation.

Such and such an earthquake killed so many people. So nuclear power is OK. Such and such a tsunami killed so many people. So nuclear power is... uh-oh!

What would the world look like now if there were 430 odd nuclear plants dotted around at strategically important places throughout the entire world during the Carrington event? How low do you think the risk is that a solar flare of similar magnitude will never again happen?

Carrington event

Last time it was brought up various people claimed there would be no effect.

Alas, we won't know what the effect will be. Nor do we know the effect on the plants of EMP bursts in a man VS man violence fest. Considering part of the failure mode of Fukushima was loss of electrical energy to power cooling I'm guessing more than a few fission plants would follow the failure modality of Fukushima.

'carbon free'? So the massive amounts of concrete in nuke plants was solar baked... and the uranium jumped out of the ground of its own accord without the consumption of diesel or any other FF? And it was all transported via... and processed... and will be decommissioned... nope, no carbon involved here.

This Carbon Free pitch is trying to put lipstick on that pig.


If I omitted "relatively" above apologies. Of course the construction and materials currently use a considerable amount of carbon. Once the thing is running, however, the process itself doesn't emit much, if any carbon. Refueling, staff driving to the plant, etc, sure, those do. Not debating that.

None of the major nuclear accidents killed anywhere near this number of people.

You have statistical models showing this?

Because there are claims of 20k-30K deaths all the up to 1 million.

Or is this another one of the classic pro-nuke "my gut tells me this" arguments?

The lack of reliable data on the effects of various nuclear accidents is a major source of uncertainty, no doubt about it. The Japanese will give us some really good follow up on Fukushima, but unfortunately the Soviet Union imploded not long after Chernobyl, so the data from that accident is not nearly as solid, as I believe your first article pointed out.

It is a big problem, trying to discern the health issues caused by low level radiation from other potential factors. I guess statistical models are the best we have to go on, but when they provide such widely different numbers it's hard to feel they're terribly useful.

Chernobyl is horribly complicated by the dissolution of the Soviet Union too. Economic collapse and the loss of the various Soviet systems which previously provided at least a minimal level of infrastructure and support have made the situation vastly worse than it otherwise might have been.

It's largely because of these unknowns that I'm not a more ardent advocate of nuclear power. But I keep coming back to climate change and world energy needs. Mebbe we can exist in a low energy economy. I think it'd be painful though.

Then again, if we keep going the way we're going now, we may not have much say in the matter...

Mebbe we can exist in a low energy economy. I think it'd be painful though.

Plenty of humans already exist in such environments. The trick would become figuring out what items are actually helpful and raises the human condition (see Lydon B Johnson winning on the rural electrification platform) VS 'just something we do' like watching TV.

TemplarMyst: "Chernobyl is horribly complicated by the dissolution of the Soviet Union too. Economic collapse and the loss of the various Soviet systems which previously provided at least a minimal level of infrastructure and support have made the situation vastly worse than it otherwise might have been."

Gorbachev Says Chernobyl – Not Perestroika or Reagan’s Arms Race – Caused the Break Up of the Soviet Union


"The price of the Chernobyl catastrophe was overwhelming, not only in human terms, but also economically. Even today, the legacy of Chernobyl affects the economies of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus."

Just for comparison:
According to the Danish statistics the chance per year of dying from Radon exposure is 1/20000.
In comparison an x-ray at gives you a chance of 1/10000 of dying from the exposure according to Danish statistics.
In comparison walking on the street also gives you a chance of 1/10000 per year of dying in traffic according to Danish statistics (down from 1/5000 last year).

There seems to be a bit of high-level game playing* about nuclear energy. I have always had mixed feelings in this regard, and recognize that nuclear power is not the long term solution to our energy problems, more because of limited supply of fissible fuel that the waste problems. From everything I have read, existing rods and so forth could be recycled and used in other fission plants... and yet eventually there will remain some waste that cannot be recycled and are dangerous. At some time the decision will have to be made whether or not to go forward with the technology.

Of course, bio-tech is as deadly and perhaps more-so, vis-a-vis mankind's propensity to use technology to kill one another off, or to use it so recklessly as to accidentally do the same. There may be a time though when, to get us through a mid-term energy crisis and set up truly sustainable energy infrastructure we will be forced to entertain the notion that along with solar, wind, geo, hydro and tidal power, some nukes may be needed. And that time may be coming sooner than we would like to think.

At that time, we will have to hope, and pray(if you are in to such) that mankind is up to the challenge.

Best hopes for a sustainable energy future.


*Game playing in that we decry peak oil, then nay-say proposed solutions, even when proferred as a short term fix on an interim basis.

Can we have a serious discussion on NPP's until we clean the poop up from our living space and START to isolate this risk from the biosphere? When do we START to move the threat out of the overloaded onsite pools and into casks or underground? What valid excuses do we have for all life on earth?

Yes, we can. When you choose to. Huh?

Software supplied to run a Russian pipeline was deliberately planned to go haywire, causing the biggest non-nuclear explosion the world had ever seen

Maybe the world have seen it, but Russians somehow missed it.

Russians somehow missed it.

Please explain this comment further.

eric - I suspect this is what they are referring to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberian_pipeline_sabotage

The Trans-Siberian Pipeline, as planned, would have a level of complexity that would require advanced automated control software, Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA). The pipeline used plans for a sophisticated control system and its software that had been stolen from a Canadian firm by the KGB. The CIA allegedly had the company insert a logic bomb in the program for sabotage purposes, eventually resulting in an explosion with the power of three kilotons of TNT.[1]

The CIA was tipped off to the Soviet intentions to steal the control system plans by documents in the Farewell Dossier, a document collection provided by KGB defector Vladimir Vetrov. Seeking to derail their efforts, CIA director William J. Casey followed the counsel of economist Gus W. Weiss and a disinformation strategy was initiated to sell the Soviets deliberately flawed designs for stealth technology and space defense. Working with the Canadian firm that designed the pipeline control software, the CIA had the designers deliberately create flaws in the programming so that the Soviets would only get a compromised program. It is claimed that in June 1982, flaws in the stolen software led to a massive explosion of part of the pipeline.

Perhaps I'm being hypersensitive to language ATM given the 'lets use place reverences as dates' and other language abnormalities.

causing the biggest non-nuclear explosion the world had ever seen
Maybe the world have seen it, but Russians somehow missed it.

It is a reference to the explosion, not the software.

And I'd seen other reporting on the software that the purchase was allowed VS things being stolen.

Either way - software being modified to effect the real world in the energy sector.

I see no evidence that the explosion in question actually happened. Most probably the story is made up based on this:



A KGB veteran said a new U.S. book that credits the CIA with causing a powerful explosion on a Soviet natural gas pipeline in 1982 is off the mark. An explosion did take place, but it was caused by poor construction, not by planted software.

The software was/was not trojaned is up for debate, but the explosion sure seems to have happened. (Perhaps the explosion was someone's twitter girlfriend who died?)

Your UFA train incident is from 1989.

There was an explosion in 1982, like in any other year, but nothing on the scale of "the biggest non-nuclear explosion". This description fits Ufa train incident.

the biggest non-nuclear explosion. This description fits Ufa train incident.

Ahh ok. I now understand your POV. I concede your correctness.

I wonder which Canadian company they were talking about. I was working on SCADA systems in Canada at that point in time, so I might know the company and some of the people involved.

The Russians wouldn't have to steal any software, the Canadians would have quite cheerfully sold them the software and provided technical support. In fact one of my friends was working on a pipeline project in Russia, and they had four Russian SCADA computers in their shop in Calgary to do testing with. The biggest problem with this was that the Russian technology was so power-hungry that they could only run three of them at a time. If they turned on all four at the same time, it would trip the main circuit breaker for the building.

Anyhow, the Russians are calling BS on this story, and I tend to believe them. The Russians were just as capable of screwing up their own systems themselves as the CIA was.

KGB Veteran Denies CIA Caused '82 Blast

A KGB veteran said a new U.S. book that credits the CIA with causing a powerful explosion on a Soviet natural gas pipeline in 1982 is off the mark. An explosion did take place, but it was caused by poor construction, not by planted software.

A government commission that investigated the incident blamed it on two construction violations, Pchelintsev said. First, workers failed to put a bend in the metal pipe to protect it during sharp seasonal changes in temperature. Second, they did not equip it with weights to keep it down in the area's marshland.

During a warm April day, the pipe surfaced from the swampy ground and expanded from the heat, Pchelintsev said. As the chill set in again at night, it shrank and snapped, producing a spark. A stroke of fire went sideways and hit a parallel natural gas pipeline 12 meters away, causing it to ignite as well. The ensuing blaze was huge but no one was hurt...

"Antrim says hydrocarbon leak disrupts 20 oilfields in North Sea"

A hydrocarbon leak, eh? Could they be a bit less specific?

Jim - from their website:


Antrim today confirms that the export infrastructure system ("Export System") used by the Causeway Field ("Causeway) and Cormorant East Field ("Cormorant East") in the UK Northern North Sea is currently unavailable due to a potential hydrocarbon leak on the Cormorant Alpha platform."

Two interesting points: If they don't want to distribute this message to the US they might not want to put it on their website. Some folks don't know how to keep a secret. LOL. Second, this says "potential hydrocarbon leak"...not a leak.

Understood. Thanks, Rock.

Two interesting points: If they don't want to distribute this message to the US they might not want to put it on their website. Some folks don't know how to keep a secret. LOL. Second, this says "potential hydrocarbon leak"...not a leak.

That is quite amusing! Apparently it is a 'contained leak'... BTW, I found this link on their site so I guess they don't have much of a problem with disseminating information about the incident through a press release. as long as no one in the US gets to see it. >;-)


Home Media centre Press releases 2013 Update to North Sea incident
Update to North Sea incident

16 Jan 2013

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC (TAQA) has concluded the planned reduction of non-core personnel from the Cormorant Alpha platform in the northern UK North Sea following the detection of hydrocarbons in one leg of the platform.

There were 159 people on board when the incident was discovered on January 14. On Tuesday, 92 non-core personnel left the platform and three specialists have come aboard to help resolve the incident. All these people are accounted for and safe.

Hydrocarbon levels inside the platform leg have been continually monitored since the incident was discovered. The hydrocarbons are contained within the leg and none have been released into the environment...

It's a leak link leak!


New oilfield's rapid start-up
Published on 15 January 2013

Mark Williamson

TAQA, the Abu Dhabi-owned oil and gas firm, claims to have set a record for the UK North Sea by bringing a new field onstream less than three months after it was discovered.

The company announced it had started production from the Cormorant East field 310 miles north-east of Aberdeen 85 days after the company made the find. This was announced on October 22 last year.

The well is producing 5500 barrels per day.

Mike Tholen, economics director at trade body Oil & Gas UK, said the swift development of new discoveries such as Cormorant East is essential if the UK is to address the "worrying" decline in North Sea production.

The speed of development highlights the effect that advances in subsea technology can have on oil and gas projects and the advantages of working in areas close to existing production infrastructure. Cormorant East produces oil from a single well on the seabead. This is connected to the TAQA-operated North Cormorant processing platform two miles away. The oil is then exported to the Sullom Voe oil terminal on Shetland, which TAQA has a stake in.

That was yesterday, this is today.


Rock, that's a Canadian thing. - Do a search for "NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO U.S. NEWS WIRE SERVICES OR DISSEMINATION IN THE U.S." and you will find it on all sorts of Canadian news releases. And Antrim Energy are a Canadian company. I don't know why Canada doesn't like the USA - maybe they intend to sue Google or something...

Latest is they are restarting the Brent pipeline system.

Brent shutdown: Pipeline 'safe to resume flow' after Cormorant Alpha leak

Taqa, operators of the Cormorant Alpha platform where the oil leak was discovered on Monday, had closed the Brent pipeline as a precaution.

The firm said the process of restoring the flow of 80,000 barrels of oil per day was under way.

Work is also taking place to stop the leak inside one of the platform's legs.

Taqa removed non-essential workers from the Cormorant Alpha, about 94 miles from Lerwick in Shetland, as a precaution and said the leak had been contained

..."The process of restarting Brent throughput follows a thorough technical evaluation that shows it is safe to do so without any increased risk to Cormorant Alpha.

"The hydrocarbons released are contained within the platform leg and none have been released into the environment."

Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said: "The Scottish government, including Marine Scotland, are monitoring this situation closely."

I don't know why Canada doesn't like the USA - maybe they intend to sue Google or something...

No, it's because they don't want to be sued under US law. The US has laws which are not found elsewhere in the world, and they don't want to be sued because they sold something to Americans they weren't allowed to sell in the US.

These securities have not been and will not be registered under the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "U.S. Securities Act"), or any state securities laws and may not be offered or sold in the United States or to U.S. persons except in compliance with the registration requirements of the U.S. Securities Act and applicable state securities laws or pursuant to an exemption therefrom. Accordingly, this news release does not constitute an offer for sale of securities in the United States.

So, the shares are not for sale in the US. If you're American, you can't play in this game.

Last saturday I started a 6 week OLLI course at UCCI "Einstein for Everyone" by Robert
He spent some time discussing LENR - a broader term for "cold fusion". He discussed
recent research indicating that commercial development is
feasible. If successful it will most likely be performed by a foreign corporation or country. He is unhappy with the withdrawal of funding in the US.
Discussion can be found in the
Nov 2012 issue of Discovery Magazine.
New Energy Times offers news and more technical articles.
This could be a game changer. Dr. Piccioni is
an impressive and convincing lecturer but skepticism seems warranted.

He discussed recent research indicating that commercial development is feasible. If successful it will most likely be performed by a foreign corporation or country. He is unhappy with the withdrawal of funding in the US.

In fact NASA seem to be making progress NASA Chief Scientist Dennis Bushnell Low Energy Nuclear Reactions

We are still far from the theoretical limits of the weak interaction physics for LENR performance and are in fact inventing (in real time) the requisite engineering, along with verifying the physics. When we concentrated upon nuclear engineering beginning in the 1940's we "jumped" to the strong force/ particle physics and leapt over the weak force/condensed matter nuclear physics. We are going "back" now to study and hopefully develop this arena.

No promises, but some seriously "strange" things are going on, which we may be closer to understanding and if we can optimize/engineer such, the world changes.

There is plenty of funding in North America several University (MIT $?, Missouri $5.5M here) have received research grants and/or funding.

Perhaps a bit more interesting in the recent interview with Luca Gamberale, chief science officier of Defkalion Europe

In Italian

Defkalion state that they are now ready to enter the market, however they say “this process will not be immediate but will take several years , as it will allow time for the big players in the energy distribution change their assets and strategies in a non-traumatic in a synergistic way to new technology”

I am unreservedly skeptical about LENR... Discovery is hardly a peer reviewed journal.

Any time I see a big spin about questionable products, and especially when I read, "... it will allow time for the big players in the energy distribution change their assets and strategies...", I think, "it will allow time for the gullible to invest heavily in unproven and extremely high risk assets."

Having said that, I am a skeptic, and that means you can prove it to me since everything is subject to proof. Though for extreme claims, extreme proof is required, and so far most notable for its absence in the field of LENR


I'll say it. LENR is bunk. They need to show some hard reproducible and useful energy output or just shut up. And there should be some neutron output if they really got something going so it is not hard to test if something real is happening.

They need to show some hard reproducible and useful energy output or just shut up.

"Useful" energy output may never happen - but that doesn't mean there isn't a reaction of some kind that can happen.

Look at Striling cycle engines. They work and yet - go ahead and find one for sale as inexpensive as an ICE for a given horsepower.

Discovery is hardly a peer reviewed journal.

That had me laughing out loud. I'd say its on a par with SciFi.

Re: Bushnell, it so happens I was discussing this over at ZH...here is what I had to say


Here is the preprint for the Widom-Larsen Weak Interaction LENR Theory


I failed to notice any citations, i.e. nobody references it, it other words, it is crap...

I did find some commentary on the theory

The Widom Larsen theory claims that the process going on in the cold fusion systems is that protons are absorbing electrons on the surface of the metal, where there is an inhomogenous electric field which can be very strong, and turning into neutrons. These neutrons then catalyze a bunch of energy releasing nuclear transformations. The mechanism is through the weak force, not the nuclear force.

It is preposterous, because there is a 1MeV mass difference between the proton and neutron, which is greater than the mass energy of the electron. It would be as reasonable to say that electron-positron pairs are produced at the surface of a metal. They aren't, and they can't be.

The strong electric fields at the surface of a metal are only so strong that they produce eV level energies for accelerating charged particles from the metal to infinity. There are no further energies available to bridge the gap to 1MeV of energy, and Widom and Larson simply make up this energy, by unphysical ansatzes for the near-surface field and made up energy balance requirements that pretend that MeV's of energy magically appear in individual particles on a metal surface.


As for labs alledgedly blowing up, when you play with H2, things can go boom even when you are very careful....

Finally, if you are interested google Dr. Joe Zawodny, one of the NASA scientists in the famous NASA LENR video and see what he says about the current status of LENR...

As for my credentials, my masters thesis involved muon catalyzed fusion, a real LENR....

As for my credentials, my masters thesis involved muon catalyzed fusion, a real LENR....

So is there a there there?

And if there is some kind of effect - will it rise to Substrate's 'is it real test' of must produce useable power or is it more like a Stirling cycle engine - an intellectually interesting thing but won't be good for much more than niche applications?

Comparing Stirling cycle engines to LENR is a bit like comparing blemished apples to invisible pink unicorns.
While there are economic reasons that continue to make Stirling engines lose out to other forms of energy generation they actually work and produce measurable energy in the real world. LENR does not!



As with the bankruptcies of the solar PV makers, the dropping price of silicon and solar cells played a role here, too. Some project developers are turning to solar PV as a more attractive and cheaper option for utility-scale solar plants compared to solar thermal technology. For example, last month Solar Trust of America, which has been developing a 1 GW solar farm in California, announced it will use PV instead of solar thermal technology for the first 500 MW of its project.

Stirling engines have long been thought of as a promising technology to build solar farms, but the matchup has yet to become as popular as other types of solar thermal technologies and solar panels. Stirling Energy Systems developed a 25-kilowatt stirling engine system, which included a giant parabolic dish of mirrors that concentrate sunlight to heat up hydrogen gas inside what’s called a “power conversion unit.” The unit runs a 4-cylinder engine that in turn drives a generator to produce electricity.

In the case of Stirling engines there's lot's of 'THERE' there! Despite economic struggles I certainly wouldn't count them out completely just yet!

Stirling engines are sold in the Netherlands commercially for domestic gas-fired central heating with electricity generation as a bonus (micro-WKK). Using the difference between the market price of electricity and the price behind the meter (including taxes etc.) seems to be economically interesting, at least here. There are other benefits like having decentralized electricity production when the demand is great (when it's cold), an increase in electricity efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. I think these units receive some sort of government incentive currently.

The micro-WKK is about the size of a normal heater: 0.5x0.5x1 m (wxdxh) weighs 100kg and provides about 25kW(th) and 1kW(e).


1st I've heard of that label - so thank you.

Now, how much and where can these be bought for?

Micro-WKK translates to micro-CHP in English, sorry for the confusion. More info on Wikipedia. I don't know if you can buy such a thing in the US.

It is preposterous, because there is a 1MeV mass difference between the proton and neutron,

Quantum mechanics allows you to cheat energy conservation -for a short length of time. deltaE * deltaT < Hbar. Of course Hbar is a really small number, so the virtual energetically impossible state can only exist for a zillionth of a second. But that zillionth, might give rise to a measurable reaction rate.

Re: Delta E x Delta t < hbar

Yeah you can violate things virtually (unobserved) but the energy books must square up in the end...

You can tunnel to lower energy state but the rate is a function of how high the energy barrier is and coulumb repulsion is a helluva barrier....

There is some evidence of spontaneous p-p fusion at a miniscule rate, look up Steven E. Jones (incidently the guy that designed the liquid deuterium target in my MSc expt)...

(You might have said it, buts its not obvious), if that unavailable (violates energy conservation state), can lead to an energy releasing reaction, then it can contribute to a reaction rate -for a reaction that by purely non-quantum reasoning is impossible.

A variant of electron capture?

The physics of that are well known. The isotopes left behind would be very obvious.


http://lenr-canr.org/ (as the other person who used to post that link I don't remember seeing for the last month)

Eurozone crisis live: Concern over German after economy shrinks - as it happened

Germany's GDP falls by 0.5% in last quarter of 2012

The final green bottle standing on the wall?



European car sales plunge ends woeful year for automotive industry

EU car sales fell 16.3% in December – with non-eurozone members Britain and Sweden the exceptions


With respect to the car sales number, are sales measured as sales to retailers or sales from retailers? Those two numbers can be quite different, certainly on a month to month basis. Taxes (or avoidance thereof) also sometimes come into play.

Sales, whether houses, cars or burgers, are always retail sales to the consumer.

Ron P.

I'm not sure that's always true, and if that what you say is true across geographies. I think that in the EU they count registrations rather than sales but even of that I'm not sure - it may even vary by vehicle classification.
Retail electronics is an example where sales from a producer to retailers and direct sales are counted rather than actual retail sales. These types of products/producers are prone to channel stuffing where a producer counts what is sold to an intermediary/retailer rather than to the end consumer, so seemingly extreme moves in sales can be a result of something other than final demand such as a change in model, a tax advantage etc.
It is just that when I see extreme numbers I want to understand how they are calculated before jumping to conclusions. I've googled a bit but can't find anything definitive so any pointers as to how EU car sales are actually determined would be appreciated.

edit: here is a link (pdf warning) to an interesting compilation of EU car data, albeit a bit out of date, the trends are interesting.

I have been trying to find a source for this... so far unsuccessfully.

I seem to recall some note 6 or 8 months ago in an article that US auto sales were quoted as sales from manufacturer to dealer, and that article noted a big build up of dealer owned vehicles (floor plan is the term of art) since retail sales were not responding.

Sales of houses can be to consumers or to brokers or banks... eventually they will be sold to homeowners (who become such through their purchase of same).

Even burgers can have differing statistics. My uncle was in the meat business... he sold hamburgers to McDonalds for almost 50 years!

Unfortunately, while most reports will state what they mean, this one does not make that particularly clear.


edit: as to home sales, many are sold to owners who are not consumers... as rentals. And, the rental business (including apartments) are included in the home sales reports. Much of the increase of late has been in residential rentals.

The owner of a house or an apartment complex is the consumer. Rentals of houses or apartments have never been considered as home sales. That goes without saying.

I cannot believe your uncle sold hamburgers to McDonalds. Hamburgers are not sold to McDonalds. They buy hamburger meat and buns. They make their own hamburgers. That also goes without saying.

Yes, one can get the wholesale numbers which differ from manufactured numbers or even manufacturer sales which could be sales to a wholesaler, not the retailer. But in the US the Census Bureau tracks primarily retail numbers. It must be so because the GDP also counts services. Services are always retail. And in the final tally an item or a service can only be counted once.

I don't know how the Brits do it.

Monthly & Annual Retail Trade

Ron P.

Thanks for the link.
My guess is that a good part of services are not retail. When E&Y performs accounting services for Schlumberger there is no retail involved.
According to the some of the census docs which are at that link you provided they estimate the number of retailers based on EIN which then is adjusted quarterly. From those retailers they take a sample (which obviously has a variance) and those samples then are significantly seasonally adjusted based on factors I could not find.
Measuring these types of data is quite complicated http://www.census.gov/srd/papers/pdf/rrs2012-06.pdf

The point is that reported numbers like these have a fair amount of noise around them, especially when the focus is on the percentage change rather than the actual (estimated) number).
This is just a long way of saying that because it is not clear to me how the EU car numbers are compiled and the change seemed large compared to historical changes so it may be wise to not immediately jump to conclusions.

When E&Y performs accounting services for Schlumberger there is no retail involved.

No, that is not correct. Are you assuming that just because Schlumberger is a service company that any services they receive must be wholesale services? Services, even when provided to a service company, is counted as retail goods or services. Schlumberger is the consumer of those services.

A wholesaler is either a manufacturer or a middleman between the manufacturer and the consumer. An accounting firm provides services directly to the consumer no matter what business he is in. Though those services are not an item, like an automobile, it is calculated as part of goods and services. And the goods are retail and the services are added to the same bottom line.

Ron P.

The washington state DOL disagrees with you (see page 2 towards the bottom).



No, your link completely agrees with me. I said:

Though those services are not an item, like an automobile, it is calculated as part of goods and services. And the goods are retail and the services are added to the same bottom line.

The link provides a long list of service companies. They do not sell goods but services. And the product of these service companies, though they do not sell items, or goods, are still added to the bottom line called goods and services.

Also, your link pointed out that service companies lack the retail concept, meaning there is no wholesaler of those services because the service is provided directly to the consumer. And the link is about employment, not GDP.

Enough of this nitpicking. I am through with this thread.

Ron P.

Well, you may be done with this thread but I actually found something relevant to the question I posed.
In the press the people talk about car sales but in actuality the number refers to car registrations. Next step for me is to see if those two numbers are/can be materially different.

So the plot thickens.
I found sales by year and registrations by year:
Sales registrations Difference: Change in Sales Change in Registrations
2008 18,432,198 17,215,802 1,216,396
2009 15,208,784 16,218,571 (1,009,787) -17.5% -5.8%
2010 16,904,436 15,629,550 1,274,886 11.1% -3.6%

Sorry for the poor formatting of the table.
As Europe both imports and exports cars one has to look at both sales and registrations to get a more complete picture of what is going on (because of the implied net export/imports). Also, as percentages are based on the base year, and in YoY comparisons the base year keep shifting it may make more sense to look at unit sales/registrations/exports/imports rather than %.

In the UK it used to be common practice for a dealership to 'pre register' a car in their own name in order to meet sales quotas. Then the car would be sold at a discount as a 'second hand' (pre -owned) car, with reduced warrentee etc. If the car remained unsold when the registration plate date code changed, the dealership would lose money because it would be evident to the eventual buyer's neighbours that (s)he had bought a second hand car and so could not pass it off as new.

For those not familiar with the UK registration system: twice a year the (new) car registration numbers (licence plate numbers) change, so that '2012' cars can be easily distinguished on the roads by their numbers containing '12'(first half of the year) or '52' (second half of the year). So, as RW says, a percentage of cars can be registered by the dealership (even though they have not been sold yet) and 'inflate' their sales figures. However it all evens out. Twice a year buyers of new cars can get a few bargains!

Channel Stuffing

Channel stuffing is the business practice where a company, or a sales force within a company, inflates its sales figures by forcing more products through a distribution channel than the channel is capable of selling to the world at large. Also known as "trade loading", this can be the result of a company attempting to inflate its sales figures. Alternatively, it can be a consequence of a poorly managed sales force attempting to meet short term objectives and quotas in a way that is detrimental to the company in the long term.

Corporations have been known to engage in channel stuffing and hide such activities from their investors. In the United States, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has in some cases litigated against such corporations.

Product in the pipeline frequently throws the statistics which measure them for a loop. Think of an electronics manufacturer that sells X units to Best Buy right before the Xmas season. That will be recorded as sales, but when 1/3X is returned the january numbers may appear quite negative.
With respect to the EU car sales numbers it may be possible that the large negative number is partially due to a similar (but opposite) effect such as a change in tax regime or an accounting change rather than an actual large change in registrations (which are different from sales which are different from production).
Over the years I have become way more careful in jumping to conclusions based on one (outlying) datapoint. More often than not there is an explanation for it other than what one may think.

Back in the 80's I worked for an industrial gas company that supplied liquid nitrogen to companies that made hamburgers for McDonalds. Equity Meat and Golden State come to mind. These, and I'm sure others, packed for McDonalds. I did field service in several of those plants.

Maybe it's different today, but McD did not produce their own burgers.

Nonsense. Hamburger meat is not hamburgers. Buns are not hamburgers. McDonalds buys meat, buns, ketchup, mustard and everything else that goes on a burger. McDonalds cooks the meat and constructs the burger right there before your eyes. If you don't believe it just go to your closest one and watch them. You may be shocked but the burger is constructed right there in the McDonalds store.

Ron P.

I think what they're saying is that McDonald's buys whole hamburger patties. They don't buy hamburger meat and make patties, they buy stacks of pre-made patties. I'm pretty sure this is still the case - there is a video online of a Cargill plant that supplies patties to McD's Canada.

Yes that's the case, making your own patties is time consuming and there is no guarantee that the taste will be replicated from one batch to next. Everything in McDonald's is pre-packaged like ready to eat popcorn, all you need to do is take the stuff, tear open the package, heat it and slap everything together.

Germany's dip is cause for concern.

But the drop in European car sales is a GOOD THING! The world needs to kick Auto Addiction and Europe has already invested huge amounts in a viable Green Transit infrastructure alternative to Auto Addiction. This will prove to be a big advantage to Europe's prospects going forward. The question for Europe is whether mobility is simply decreasing or is it shifting to Green Transit lightrail, rail, bicycling and walking? Probably the hardest to get a good measurement is of
walking and bicycling as there are no fare boxes or other agency to collect the data.

As Kunstler and many Peak Oil theorists have predicted for a long time, the age of Auto Addiction as the major means of transit is doomed. Those countries with the foresight or simply accidentally sustaining and building Green Transit will have a huge advantage.

The one quarter with minus 0.5 percent is no drama and was BTW predicted for 2012 Q4.

Registration of cars is in Germany very very similar to number of sold cars.

Companies with broad international customer base like Daimler, BMW and esp. VW do very well despite a drop of sells in Germany and rest of Europe.

In contrast, companies with mainly European or worse domestic customer base -these are usually French and Italian companies and OPEL due to restrictions imposed by GM - have real problems and will as there are globally 20% over capacities suffer a lot in the next years.

From the Guardian: Peak oil theories 'increasingly groundless', says BP chief

Warnings that the world is headed for "peak oil" – when oil supplies decline after reaching the highest rates of extraction – appear "increasingly groundless", BP's chief executive said on Wednesday.

Bob Dudley's remarks came as the company published a study predicting oil production will increase substantially, and that unconventional and high-carbon oil will make up all of the increase in global oil supply to the end of this decade, with the explosive growth of shale oil in the US behind much of the growth.

The world is depending on the shale oil from the US to head off peak oil. Shale oil is supposed to keep on growing and make the US self sufficient in petroleum by 2030. Will those "sweet spots" hold out that long?

Ron P.

Ron - "Will those sweet spots hold out that long?" For a target date of 2030 that means another 17 years of sweet spot required. I'll let other argue the geography of such expectations. But that's a very long time for any trend in a boom mode. I've pointed out the boom in the Austin Chalk fractured carbonate shale before. Heck of boom: significantly increased Texas oil production in just several years. But eventually most of the viable locations (sweet and not so sweet) were drilled. There are always physical limits in addition to economic limits. And with those infamous decline rates the boom ended with a crash.

What may hurt the credibility of such optimism are the early signs that the number of sweet spots may already be in significant decline. That possibility in the Bakken was indicated by Rune's stats that the 12th month rate of production from Bakken well had significantly declined in just 2 or 3 years. Folks can argue all they want about URR from Bakken wells but if recent wells are producing significantly lower rates after 12 months of production than wells drilled just 3 years ago it will negatively impact any projected URR.

My 12th month production stat for the Eagle Ford indicated a similar trend but was based on too few wells to been statistically significant IMHO. But I a couple of months I'll have the full 2012 production stats from the TRRC and the total number of wells will be very significant.

Looking forward to your report Rockman. I tried to find production stats for the Austin Chalk on the net but was unsuccessful. Strange that stats are so easy to get from the Bakken but so difficult to get from the Eagle Ford - Austin Chalk areas.

Ron P.

Ron - Some general poop: http://oilshalegas.com/austinchalk.html

An interesting perspective from the time domain. Apparently what's old is new again. From a March 1996 report just as the AC started to fade. http://gswindell.com/horizogj.htm

"At least 12 states have some horizontal production. But Texas overwhelmingly dominates the use of the technique. Together with North Dakota, the top two states account for 89% of the producing horizontal leases drilled since 1987."

"Bakken Shale has been the primary target for North Dakota horizontal drilling. Through mid-1995, horizontal wells have produced 11,336,000 barrels and 18 BCF, or about 14 MMBOE since late 1987 when the first wells were completed. ...production began to fall in 1991, even as the total well count continued to rise. This is due to the sharp production declines often seen in the early life of fractured reservoirs."

"The average initial production from the typical horizontal well in North Dakota is 4,300 BBL/month with an early decline of about 65% and only a small hyperbolic factor that serves to flatten the decline over time. The relatively small hyperbolic nature of the curve compared with the Austin Chalk wells may suggest poor contribution from the rock matrix versus the fracture system."

"In an earlier study, we looked at every individual Bakken Shale well in the state and projected an ultimate recovery using rate vs. time curves. The average vertical well was projected to ultimately recover 104,000 BBL. Surprisingly, the average horizontal well's estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) was less than the vertical wells at 97,000 BBL. Perhaps the horizontal wells found fracture systems that had already been substantially depleted by vertical wells. Of the larger fields, only Elkhorn showed higher per well EUR for horizontal wells. The advantage was only a 15,000 BBL per well increase for horizontal drilling."

Apparently this is why the Bakken didn't take off like the AC. It also explains why they are drilling longer wells and doing more frac stages than during the early days. Also, they are probably identifying the sweet spots better now. Notice the difference in cum between the Bakken horizontals and the AC horizontals at this point in time: Bakken: 11 mmbo vs. AC: 188 mmbo.

"More than 101 Texas counties have experienced some horizontal production. Statewide leases designated as horizontal with the earliest production after 1987, have produced 188 MMBBL and 497 BCF (271 MMBOE). As in North Dakota, the total oil production began to decline after late 1992 even as well count continued to increase. And when total horizontal well count generally stabilized in early 1994 the overall decline steepens considerably."

IOW the hype on the AC would have been as high in the MSM had they been paying attention at the time. But the hype in the Texas oil patch at the time was tremendous. saying "Austin Chalk" got you through the front door of every operater in Texas. And all those AC wells were frac'd just like they're doing in all the other shales today. Again, no media/public outcry at that time.

Does this sound familiar? - "Results from horizontal drilling have been highly varied. Successes on a large scale have been limited to the Austin Chalk Trend. And even within this sizable trend there are areas which have been unable to realize sufficient reserves to make horizontal wells profitable. It is apparent that not all fractured reservoirs benefit economically by the application of this technology. The two top states, North Dakota and Texas have produced over 285 MMBOE to date through horizontal wells, an important contribution to the US supply. Rapid return of investment due to high initial production rates, ability to implement economies of scale, and the realization of statistical averages with multiple well programs are the driving force behind continued use of the technique in much of the Chalk Trend."

And that was from 16 years ago. BTW in the oil patch we tend to drop the "Austin" and just say the Chalk.

ROCK wouldn't a not so sweet spot at $85/bbl get quite a bit sweeter at $135/bbl? The Bakken underlies a pretty fair swath real estate even by Texas standards, and compared to Alaskan real estate it is right accessible.

Why do they keep telling obvious lies? At best they can say they've pushed the date of peak back by several years. An eventual peak is an mathematically provable fact. The fact that a peak in inevitable must always be firmly stated because it lets people know that we have to eventually have an alternate plan.

The reason for the lies (and annoying use of the "theory" word) is simply that there is no alternate plan.


"At best they can say they've pushed the date of peak back by several years."

We are allowed to update the hypothesis of "peak oil" to add characteristics to it? Their answer seems to be "no."

That seems unscientific because it was a hypothesis advanced in the 1950's after all, by Hubbert.

In the past 6 decades since then many hypotheses (made back then) have been revised because of new data or a new applicable reality.

His theory was based on conventional oil, and it proved out as a hypothesis because of accurate predictions, and became a theory.

Now we are getting into a different hypothesis about the non-low-hanging fruit he dealt with ... the stuff that takes a long ladder to pick.

A new hypothisis needs to apply to the new age of production, especially different because of economic and extraction implications Hubbert was not focused on.

"Why do they keep telling obvious lies?"

No technology can change a finite resource into an infinite resource, thus, a new hypothesis is still concerned about a finite resource, however it is a different resource.

The cornucopians and quasi-cornucopians are in one sense, then, comparing apples to oranges.

The oldy but goody oil was cheap to pick because it was low hanging fruit, but the one we have now is not so cheap.

The cornucopians need to grasp that ... but they will need a ladder.

Gasoline vs. Diesel

I've been curious about the fall in gasoline prices despite stable and increasing oil prices recently, especially since diesel has not gone down that much. I graphed gasoline vs diesel prices using EIA data and discovered what appears to be a clear and growing disparity between the two.

The gap today stands at 26 cents per gallon -- the previous high was 28 cents in 2008 during the oil price spike, but that gap didn't last long. The trend now seems to be more sustained toward a premium for diesel over gasoline. Or is it just temporary? And why is it happening at all? I'm have no clue. Any ideas?

Locally, the difference between the two lowest octane gasolines is about 80 cents. Why such a big gap? I've also noticed the performance of my vehicle is below what it normally is even though it is properly tuned. Not sure whether to attribute that to the cold weather or the quality of the cheaper gasoline...

spud - Wow! The difference between the lowest and highest octane in Houston is around $.35 -$0.45/gallon

Kingfish - And then there are regional differences. Today the cheapest diesel in Houston is $.40 more expensisive than the cheapest regular gasoline. And Texas and La are the refining heart of the country. Commercial business is booming in Hoston so maybe local demand is playing a major role. I could find histrical data for Houston but I think I recall times not too long ago when diesel was selling at a great premium than it is today.

Some of the regional differences are simply in taxation, with different tax amounts applied to gasoline vs. diesel.

But the biggest driver of the diesel premium in recent years seems to be the strong demand for (and even shortages of) diesel in other parts of the world, especially Europe (where most private cars sold are diesel) and China (where a lot of construction is (was?) happening, requiring fueling of machinery). Exports of diesel from the US have been rising, and at the same time gasoline imports (from foreign refineries) have also increased.

Saudi Economic Growth to Slow on Lower Oil Output, Samba Says

Saudi Arabia’s economic growth rate will slow over the next three years to an annual average of 3.3 percent as the kingdom’s oil production declines, Samba Financial Group (SAMBA) said.

“The main reason for this slowdown is to be found in the oil sector,” the Riyadh-based bank said in an e-mailed report late yesterday. “The fundamentals are likely to soften in 2013 as additional supply from Iraq and North America has more impact.”

Samba is a Riyadh based bank and they seem to be saying here that Saudi's oil production will decline for the next three years. How do they know? Anyway Saudi oil production should get a slight bump when Manifa comes on line, either late this year or sometime in 2014.

They may be off base concerning Iraqi oil production. Their crude oil production in December was down 196 kb/d according to OPEC's "secondary sources" and it was down 255 kb/d according to the Iraqis themselves. But I think this was due to problems with the Kurds. However the Iraqis are likely to be having problems with them, or rebels within Iraq, for some time to come.

I think those who are looking for great increases in Iraqi oil production are going to be sorely disappointed.

Ron P.

What came to my mind when reading this was what it does to ELM. If their economic growth cause ELM to kick in, and this growth is based on oil in come, and if this oil income declines, then the growth will reduce, and they will not expand their domestic consumption as much. I guess this is not taken into the export land model?

I've been of the opinion for a long while KSA will always export some oil, they have nearly no other income. This adds to my case I think.

First, rising oil prices have (so far) more than offset the post-2005 decline in Saudi net oil exports (from 9.1 mbpd in 2005 to 8.3 mbpd in 2011).

Second, and more importantly, IMO the largest six year volumetric depletion that we will ever see in post-2005 Global CNE (Cumulative Net Exports) occurred in the past six years.

Regarding Saudi Arabia, I estimate that they may have already shipped, in only six years, about 38% of their post-2005 CNE. Whether or not Saudi Arabia at some point in the future, after having shipped about 90% of post-2005 CNE, is able to maintain a small volume of net exports in my opinion won't be terribly relevant to the world economy.

I have previously referenced my Six Country* case history. Their combined production virtually stopped increasing in 1995, and it took them 12 years to go to zero net oil exports. In the first two years (1996 & 1997) of the net export decline, they shipped 27% of post-1995 CNE. In the last two years (2006 & 2007) of the net export decline, they shipped 1% of post-1995 CNE. Note that their production ranged from 6.9 to 7.0 mbpd from 1995 to 1999. At the end of 1999, they had shipped 54% of post-1995 CNE, even as their 1999 production was slightly higher than 1995. In other words, an "Undulating Plateau" in production hid a catastrophic post-1995 CNE depletion rate.

Third, even net oil exporting countries that heavily tax oil consumption, e.g., Denmark, have been classic examples of "Net Export Math."

Denmark is a case history of a net oil exporter, showing a production decline, that taxes fuel consumption and that has successfully cut their consumption. Their 2004 to 2011 rate of change numbers (BP):
(P = Production, C = Consumption, NE = Net Exports.)

P: -7.9%/year

C: -1.0%/year

NE: -19.9%/year

ECI Ratio (P/C): -7.0%/year

Given an ongoing production decline in an oil exporting country, unless they cut their consumption at the same rate as the rate of decline in production, or at a faster rate, the net export decline will exceed the production decline rate, and the net export decline rate will accelerate with time.

In Denmark’s case, their 2004 to 2005 net export decline rate was 12.5%/year, while their 2004 to 2011 net export decline rate accelerated to 19.9%/year.

In simple percentage terms, a 43% decline in production from 2004 to 2011 resulted in a 75% decline in net exports, even as consumption fell by 6.5%.

*Indonesia, UK, Egypt, Vietnam, Argentina, Malaysia

Better Place CEO leaves in electric car firm's latest shake-up

Better Place was a disaster from the start. Most EV fans were quite skeptical . . . and if you can't win the EV fans then who were they going to win over? No one wants to get stuck in a contract where you are reliant on a single supplier. Better Place tried to push EVs using a 'Cell phone business model' . . . they up-front price of the phone is partially subsidized and paid for over time with your monthly payments. But with Cell phones you can terminate your contract and switch cellphone networks. Not so with Better Place.

I like the battery swapping idea but I think it has to come through industry cooperation and agreement. Perhaps 10 to 25 years down the road.

I have real concerns about battery swapping. Battery life depends strongly upon use, particularly upon charge/discharge rates. Users, who don't own the battery, aren't likely to be concerned about how hard they stress it, it will be someone else's problem afterall.

It doesn't really fix the problem, which is that unlike fossil fuels which are an easily portable/transferable material with the energy already stored in it, a battery is a material that must have the energy transferred into it so it can become portable. E=V*I*T, and T is the problem because V & I cannot just be increased arbitrarily. Swapping in a charged battery may seem to fix the immediate problem, but it just pushes off the recharge and its associate T until later. And if you are going to transport them to somewhere else to charge them (doing it in mass will require a lot of power) then you need more energy to do the transportation.

Just because we can't keep using FF doesn't mean that the automotive transportation system will work without them.

The swap is the "answer" to the desire to be able to take a long distance trip quickly. We could take a car like the LEAF cross country, but you'd have to settle for taking charge breaks that are as long or longer than the intervening drives (at highway speed). My plugin with 120 volt charge, charges at about 5miles range per hour. A 240volt charge would double that (to 10mph). To reach say 60mph of charge rate (which would still means lots of wait time) would require a pretty massive power plug of maybe 20KW or more. Fast charge is problematic both for obtaining the high current, and for the effects on battery lifetime.

The Chinese had a system of natural gas distribution ca. 500 BC. Conclusion: Natural gas supplies are inexhaustible.

Natural gas is present in artesian wells. It will never end.

Wind towers are responsible for high bird kill counts. Wind towers are one complete waste of time and resources.


Bakken mega-field wells may deplete some, but not as much as one would want some to believe. Production continues to increase, more wells per site, etc. The oil is there, not as much as some want, but it continues to pump and the rate of depletion is lower than is reported. Makes sense.

I know of a well that has produced since 1961 and is still pumping; in addition, I know at least another 10 wells have been drilled and are producing since then at the same field.

You're not going to beat oil and coal, no matter how hard you try. There are no rules.

Your daily cognitive dissonance tells you why.

Approximately 2.5 months early.

The offers I have seen to buy Bakken Formation mineral acres are a sum that total more than a dollar per acre.

They are high. Tells me there is oil there and the mineral acre purchasing firm wants it more than I do.

Tells me there is oil aplenty. I'll hang on to the mineral acres, thanks, but no thanks.

The offers I have seen to buy Bakken Formation mineral acres are a sum that total more than a dollar per acre.

They are high. Tells me there is oil there and the mineral acre purchasing firm wants it more than I do.

Tulip mania

Tulip mania or tulipomania (Dutch names include: tulpenmanie, tulpomanie, tulpenwoede, tulpengekte and bollengekte) was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then suddenly collapsed. By 1636 the tulip bulb became the fourth leading export product of the Netherlands—after gin, herring and cheese. The price of tulips skyrocketed because of speculation in tulip futures among people who never saw the bulbs. Many men made and lost fortunes overnight, to the consternation of Calvinist elites who abhorred this artificial frenzy that denied the virtues of moderation, discretion and genuine work.

If price was the sole gauge of value then I guess those tulips were really worth a fortune. Welcome to the economic bubble.

The offers I have seen to buy Bakken Formation mineral acres are a sum that total more than a dollar per acre.

A dollar an acre to buy the mineral rights? If oil companies were offering $1000 an acre for a 5 year lease, then I would believe they thought there might be something interesting there.

Alberta land sale nets record prices

A sudden surge in interest in Alberta's natural gas helped drive record-setting prices at the province's Wednesday petroleum land sale.

Companies paid an average of $2,084.86 per hectare - the highest amount ever paid on average for Alberta land, exceeding prices seen even in the halcyon days of 2005 and 2006.

That's $834 per acre for leases ranging from 2 years to 5 years depending on location.

At $1 an acre, it would only cost $128 million to buy the mineral rights to the whole Bakken formation, at least based on wiki's description of it's size.

Wind towers are responsible for high bird kill counts. Wind towers are one complete waste of time and resources.

Not so fast! From your link:

Wind turbines kill far fewer birds in general each year than do many other causes linked to humans, including domestic cats and collisions with glass windows. But wind power has a disproportionate effect on certain species that are already struggling for survival, such as the precarious US population of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos canadensis).

Why not reduce the number tall glass covered buildings or the total number of humans instead? Both seem to waste a lot of resources...

On the other hand we might do a little more research and learn from our previous mistakes!

The early signs are that with targeted efforts, wind power and wildlife can cautiously coexist. Bechard and his colleagues, for example, lowered mortality at the Cádiz wind farms by 50%, with only a 0.07% loss in energy production1. Others are finding that minor changes in the design or operation of wind farms can bring major reductions in animal deaths.

I guess we can always waste time and resources somewhere else.

The oil is there, not as much as some want, but it continues to pump and the rate of depletion is lower than is reported. Makes sense.

Really? No, that makes no sense whatsoever.

ND Monthly Oil Production Statistics (All North Dakota)***
ND Monthly Bakken* Oil Production Statistics (Bakken Only)*

The records go back to 1951. Are you claiming that the North Dakota government is lying? Are you saying that their oil wells are not declining as fast as they claim they are? Now why on earth would they lie about that?

Ron P.

>>" Are you saying that their oil wells are not declining as fast as they claim they are? Now why on earth would they lie about that?"<<

Good question. The first table below shows ND's estimate of the "typical" well production for the first 3 years. This data comes from the graph here (might even be yours, Ron):


This graph actually comes from this ND site:

North Dakota Dept. of Mineral Resources

Meanwhile, from the David Hugues graph reproduced in the recent Econbrowser blog, we get this (these numbers were picked off the graph)

David Hughes (est. from graph in recent Econobrowser blog)

And then there was the Bernstein Research graph that has floated around since August (again, numbers picked off of graph):

Bernstein Research (est. from graph floating around since Aug.)

(Note that the Bernstein graph says it is an average of over 3,600 wells)

On the other hand, based on the graph sited above, ND estimates that "A typical 2011 North Dakota Bakken well will...Produce approximately 540,000 barrels of oil" and this seems to agree with the link below which publishes recent applications for ND wells.

"Continental asks NDIC for 14 wells on 1,280-acre pad; Hunt files for 18-1,280-acre standups"

"The company estimates ultimate recoveries of 370,000 barrels of oil per well"

"With the efficiency of pad drilling, Continental said it estimates each of the new wells will cost $8.5 million"

Hunt seeks 18 new 1,280-acre standup spacing units

"Hunt estimates the wells will cost $7.9 million each"

Hess asks for overlapping 2,560-acre units

"Hess estimates recovery factors for these wells in the 2.4 to 2.5 percent range, with ultimate recoveries of 536,000 barrels each.

Wells are estimated to cost $10.5 million each"

Kodiak to amend Bakken stratigraphic definition

"For the upper Three Forks, Kodiak's recovery factors are estimates at 8.5 percent in McKenzie County and 12 percent in Williams County. Estimated ultimate recoveries for the Three Forks are 455,000 barrels in both counties"

"Wells will cost approximately $10 million each, the company said "

Burlington applies for nine 2,560 spacing units

Burlington estimates recovery factors between 1.6 and 2.7 percent, and primary oil recoveries of 325,000 and 500,000 barrels of oil.

Whiting gets one approval

"The company estimates recoveries of 10 and 12 percent from the Bakken and Three Forks formations, respectively, resulting in estimated ultimate recoveries of just over 1 million barrels and approximately 759,000 barrels from the two formations, respectively."

"Wells are estimated to cost approximately $8 million"

"Clean Coal" Pizza?
A pizza restaurant was mentioned on the US CBS news this morning that uses coal-fired pizza ovens. This from the restaurants web site:
"Our oven is fired by domestic clean burning coal, allowing our pizzas to be cooked at over 800 degrees. Our pizzas come out with a distinct char that is considered “well done” but maintains a savory chew."
I'm sure the pizza is tasty.
An oven mfgr. details the difficulty lighting, operating and maintaining the ovens but doesn't mention emission controls, and there is an ash hopper that must be emptied and cleaned. Coal ash in the restaurant or trash?


This is the first I've heard of coal fired pizza ovens. I'm sure they would produce more and dirtier emissions than a propane powered appliance, but keep in mind the amount of coal being used for this purpose is insignificant compared to the amount of coal being used to generate electricity. The manufacturer also specified the use of anthracite coal which would burn cleaner than the thermal (bituminous and sub-bituminous) coal used in power plants.

Home consumers are more likely to use a charcoal fired BBQ if they want more flavour from their food. The top end charcoal BBQ's such as The Big Green Egg http://www.biggreenegg.com/ are made out of ceramic. The insulative properties of the ceramic really help reduce the fuel consumption. This is the first winter I've had a Green Egg and I've seen that even after cooking a turkey for 8 hours with an outside temperature of -16C there was still quite a bit of charcoal left when I was finished. If I had tried using my propane BBQ at that temperature I would have burned a lot more fuel than I would have on a warm summer day while at the same time not done a very good job of cooking the food. Assuming the lump charcoal you are burning came from a forest that is allowed to regrow, it is not going to contribute to an increase in CO2 levels.

Not sure where the coal comes from to fire the pizza oven, but if it has mercury in it then you might get a dose of that toxic metal in the pizza. Coal burns hot and could produce more char on the pizza that is also a health hazard as the burnt animal and vegetable fats (black char) are known carcinogins.

Well actually, a proper pizza oven will have a temperature between 700F and 1000F. The oven area is completely isolated from the firebox so you shouldn't get mercury or other contaminants from the coal in your pizza. Of course, the mercury and other contaminants go up the chimney so they will impact people downwind.

The oven mfgr. states to use only Reading Anthracite Coal or the warranty is voided.
My experience with anthracite coal was in water filtration, no combustion....

For filtration active coal is the best. Water? It will remove all the nasty stuff from alcohol.

For filtration activated charcoal [not coal] is used.

If you run water over anthracite coal you leach out sulfur, metals and other inclusions. There is a reason that West Virginia's streams cause cancer in coal country

May I recommend the Chopwell fish and chip shop 'Salt and Battery' for an excellent coal fired frying range.


My thought exactly! Coal mill ash is an environmental issue of its own kind, high on heavy metals and all kinds of stuff. I would never eat in that pizzeria. Is it even legal?

Morning everyone,

In my grade 10 history class we are finishing a unit on imperialism, and we have a few hours to spare before semester's end. I want to show the students a movie about oil and geopolitics, any recommendations? I'm thinking of Blood and Oil based on Klare's book. Does any one know of any other films that would suit better?

As a side note, we watched Blood Diamond to start the unit, and every time I watch that movie I like it better. Its a great intro for the kids to imperialism, although it is hard at times for some of them to watch.

Thanks for your suggestions


The Oil Factor is pretty hard-hitting - a look at (relatively) recent events in 'The Great Game'

On the lighter side, but still quite insightful (a focus is the causes of WWI) is Robert Newman's 'A Brief History of Oil'. A one-man stage show that both amuses and illuminates: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DCwafIntj0

Since Cliffman beat me to Rob Newman's classic (and I heartily second your previewing it at the very least, to have it in your head a bit) .. then I will toss in another couple distant gems..

Local Hero - By Bill Forsyth, 1983
(not at all about Empire, unless you look at the two great turtles that both locations of the movie are undeniably resting entirely upon)

Lawrence of Arabia - David Lean, 1962
(more on Empire than Oil, more poetry than history, but the stage is set for the next, crude acts)

By Matt Taibbi Secrets and Lies of the Bailout

... To guarantee their soundness, all major banks are required to keep a certain amount of reserve cash at the Fed. In years past, that money didn't earn interest, for the logical reason that banks shouldn't get paid to stay solvent. But in 2006 – arguing that banks were losing profits on cash parked at the Fed – regulators agreed to make small interest payments on the money. The move wasn't set to go into effect until 2011, but when the crash hit, a section was written into TARP that launched the interest payments in October 2008.

In theory, there should never be much money in such reserve accounts, because any halfway-competent bank could make far more money lending the cash out than parking it at the Fed, where it earns a measly quarter of a percent. In August 2008, before the bailout began, there were just $2 billion in excess reserves at the Fed. But by that October, the number had ballooned to $267 billion – and by January 2009, it had grown to $843 billion. That means there was suddenly more money sitting uselessly in Fed accounts than Congress had approved for either the TARP bailout or the much-loathed Obama stimulus. Instead of lending their new cash to struggling homeowners and small businesses, as Summers had promised, the banks were literally sitting on it.

Today, excess reserves at the Fed total an astonishing $1.4 trillion."The money is just doing nothing," says Nomi Prins, a former Goldman executive who has spent years monitoring the distribution of bailout money.

Nothing, that is, except earning a few crumbs of risk-free interest for the banks. Prins estimates that the annual haul in interest­ on Fed reserves is about $3.6 billion – a relatively tiny subsidy in the scheme of things, but one that, ironically, just about matches the total amount of bailout money spent on aid to homeowners. Put another way, banks are getting paid about as much every year for not lending money as 1 million Americans received for mortgage modifications and other housing aid in the whole of the past four years.

also Secrets and Lies of the Bailout: One Broker's Story

One way of looking at the excess excess reserves parked at the fed is that this historically large number and percentage (of bank liabilities) is what is limiting inflation. If the money currently parked at the Fed were to be lent out to J6P to for credit cards and mortgages chances are that inflation would be a whole lot higher.
Excess reserves is quite an important number to watch.

GDP is really just volume of money times the velocity of money. If the velocity increases the overall supply (volume) needs to be decreased, otherwise too much money chasing too few goods equals inflation. Conversely if the flow rate decreases you have to increase the volume to keep up the flow rate. So proper management of the economy requires the timely creation, and retraction of money. A lot of people have a problem with this thesis, because it requires some entity with the mandate and ability to produce and destroy money, and that feels like a huge moral temptation.

The money parked at the fed has zero velocity -so it has in effect been destroyed (or at least temporarily been removed from the economy).

US east-coast cities are 'sitting ducks' for storms, says top Obama scientist

Cities on the United States east coast are "sitting ducks" for the next big storm because of the destruction wrought by hurricane Sandy, one of Barack Obama's top scientists warned on Tuesday.

Marcia McNutt, who last week announced her resignation as director of the US Geological Survey, told a conference that Sandy had left coastal communities dangerously exposed to future storms of any size.

"Superstorm Sandy was a threshold for the north-east and we have already crossed it," McNutt told the National Council for Science and the Environment conference in Washington. "For the next storm, not even a super storm, even a run-of-the-mill nor'easter, the amount of breaches and the amount of coastal flooding will be widespread."

That decline in US oilrigs is starting to look significant:

As the piece says one would expect that to show in the production stats pretty quickly (Red Queen effect and all).

From September 2012 Oil rig count drops sharply in North Dakota

The number of oil-focused rigs in the Midwest state dropped to 194 this month, its lowest level since July 2011, the commission's data showed. The current rig count is 11 percent lower than the all-time high of 214 set in May.

And this was posted January 4: Bakken Rig Count Down 20% From 2012 Peak

Approximately 180 rigs were working in the state to start 2013. That’s down from almost 220 in May of 2012. The almost 20% drop has many beginning to wonder how long the boom will last.

But they are saying this don't matter:

Don’t let the numbers fool you. A lower rig count does not mean fewer wells will be drilled in 2013. Walking rigs will account for over 50% of the rig fleet and pad drilling will overtake single-well drilling this year. Don’t forget, it only takes hours to move a rig on a pad versus days to move locations.

These new walking rigs can move from place to place much faster so just as many wells are going to be drilled with 20% fewer rigs.

Any roughnecks out there care to comment on this? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Ron P.


For the Bakken, we have a decline in rig count that quickly leads to a production decline.

If they are saying the rig count doesn't matter because the walking rigs and pad drilling mean there are more wells drilled, and more horizontal distance drilled into the shale. Then that makes the Bakken production decline look even worse since they are drilling more than the rig count suggests and yet we still see a production decline?

The trouble is comparing rig count doesn't capture the difference between horizontal and vertical drilling rigs. And the longer horizontals that are being drilled now make it even more confusing.

Still the rigs can walk and they can drill further horizontally than before so that should improve production all else being equal.


First time I ever heard about walking drilling rigs. This video (a commercial promo-thing) explain the concept.


Funny they call it "eco-pad". Cus the CO2 does no harm?

Thanks for this link Jedi. It tells me a lot I did not know about drilling in the Bakken. Hell, I didn't even know that Three Forks and the Bakken are in the same place, one just below the other. I always assumed they were in two different locations.

Ron P.

Ron - That's why I was teasing about giving me credit for the future boom in Georgetown and Buda production. For the most part they are in the same geographical position as the once booming Austin Chalk and the currently booming Eagle Ford. And in the vertical dimension all those formations are within just hundreds of feet from each other. Companies have picked at the Georgetown and Buda for decades just as they have with the EFS. When will Georgetown and Buda development begin...if ever? When they run out of EFS locations (just like they ran out of AC locations for the most part) and if oil prices are high enough. How well those other formation work remains to be seen.

Ron/Andrew - I'm sure you two understand so for others: the rig count includes rigs actually drilling wells so if the stat say X rigs drilling then that's X wells drilling at that time. But a rig count average of Y rigs per day over some time period doesn't provide any indication of how many wells have been drilled. Period 1 and Period 2 may have had the same number of rigs drilling but that doesn't mean the same number of wells were drilled during each period. Maybe close but not the same. As you've pointed out pad drilling/walking rigs can increase the number of wells drilled in a period of time. OTOH longer laterals decrease the number of wells drilled in a period of time. OTOOH longer laterals could provide better production...or not. If the longer laterals/more frac stages are a result of drilling into areas of poorer potential there may not be a proportional improvement...or none at all.

So damn near impossible to interpret a quick snapshot of what's happening at any one moment. Probably the only way to appreciate the current situation is to look back after several years of production...and then only if you have enough specifics on a per well basis. Right now some may be long laterals with many frac stages being drilled along with relatively short laterals being drilled with just a few frac stages. But some of those shorter wells may be drilling in sweeter spots and produce much better that more expensive wells drilled in less sweet spots.

Generalities are easy since they don't require such details and thus they can also be misleading especially when trying to make forward projections.

Supply And Demand Based Oil Price Shocks Have Different Effect On The Macroeconomy

Oil supply related shocks which raise the price of oil decrease gross production in oil importing countries. On the other hand, oil demand related price shocks may even have a positive effect on the gross production of an oil importing country such as the United States.

Therefore, it matters from the point of view of gross production whether it is a supply or demand based price shock.

The strong fluctuation of oil prices in recent years has had an impact on predictability of price. Unlike in the past, it is no longer clear that futures prices give a statistically inaccurate impression of future oil prices.

Based on the results of the research it seems possible to find a model based on oil futures markets speculation. With the model oil price can within certain periods be predicted more accurately than by coin toss.

Any TODer in Helsinki, Finland may want to learn more if they're not doing anything on Friday ...

Doctoral dissertation: Essays on oil and macroeconomy
18.01.2013 / 12:00 - 14:00

Location: Chydenia, Stora Enso Hall, 3rd floor, Runeberginkatu 22-24, 00100, Helsinki, FI 60° 10.398 N 24° 55.308 E

The doctoral dissertation of Marko Melolinna, M.Sc. (Econ.), Essays on Oil and Macroeconomy in the field of economics will be examined at the Aalto University School of Business on Friday 18.1.2013.

Professor Juha Junttila from the University of Jyväskylä will act as opponent and Professor Pekka Ilmakunnas as custos.

Study Finds Growing Evidence Of Global Warming Threat To Future Food Supplies

... High temperatures are having an increasingly damaging effect on maize (sweetcorn) in France – the largest supplier of the crop to the UK – which may explain a recent slowdown in the trend towards higher yields, according to researchers at the Universities of Leeds, Reading and Exeter.

Improvements in agricultural technology, such as fertilisers and new crop varieties, will need to increase yields by up to 12% by the 2020s to be confident about offsetting future decreases in yield from heat stress.

However, the current rate of improvement, driven by technological innovation, is not quick enough to meet such a high target, says research published today in the journal Global Change Biology.

If they're saying our only hope is "Improving" farming techniques and technology, then I guess it means we've given up on stopping or even reducing emissions and therefore Climate Change! Think of the living hell we're leaving for our children!

But that fits with what's often said on here that it's a "good idea" to keep burning more oil from Canadian Tar Sands or wherever else we can find it. Anything to keep bringing in more money no matter what the consequences. I'm making big changes, what about you? And "But nobody else is doing it" isn't a valid excuse!

To be fair, they were talking about food production a decade from now. What we do CO2 wise between now and then will have only a minimal effect on the climate a decade from now. So we are treating a symptom shortterm, but the longterm issue still looms.

Think of the living hell we're leaving for our children!

As I noted a few drumbeats ago Guy McPherson on the yahoogroup America2point0 feels the climate game is over for humanity in 5 years. As in the start of mass death and an overcooked biosphere with no life by 2020.

So some have thought of the 'hell' - you can read some of Guy's stuff here http://guymcpherson.com http://guymcpherson.com/2012/06/were-done/ has a 2030 death date.

Things are scary, but there's no data or reasonable extrapolation of data which would lead to a dead planet by 2020.

However, his other links are worth reading and are pretty credible.... and did I note scary?

He's an interesting writer, and he put his money where his mouth was, giving up a job as a tenured professor in order to "launch a lifeboat." I admire him for that; most people wouldn't make that kind of change.

But he's been preaching imminent doom for years. When he quit his job and sold his house at the beginning of 2008, he said he would be in big trouble with his wife of 24 years if civilization didn't collapse within a couple of years. I kind of wonder how that worked out.

I think sometimes even serious analysts fall for this apocalyptic meme, there is a high probability that large parts of the planet will be a horrible place to live for most of Earth's population and AK-47's, HD TV's, Hunger will co-exist but other than that not much.

Well, you tried, Eric. I read the material; Guy presents cold hard facts. I am disappointed in the lack of response here. I guess it's more fun to talk about light bulbs, lawnmowers and how much oil is left.

Not only that, it seems to be more fun here to talk about how to get yet more oil out of the ground and burn it to make more CO2.

To be fair, this site is known as The Oil Drum and not The CO2 Sequestration Tank, for a reason. I'll have to check if that domain name is still available >;-)

Though we should certainly still be having a more in depth discussion of the future consequences of continued high temperature fossil hydrocarbon oxidation using the only atmosphere we have as both a source of O2 and as a CO2 sink...
It just seems like a really bad idea on so many levels!

And we'll have fun, fun, fun, till mother nature takes the T-Bird away!

Insecticide 'Unacceptable' Danger to Bees, Report Finds

The world's most widely used insecticide has for the first time been officially labelled an "unacceptable" danger to bees feeding on flowering crops. Environmental campaigners say the conclusion, by Europe's leading food safety authority, sounds the "death knell" for the insect nerve agent.

The chemical's manufacturer, Bayer, claimed the report, released on Wednesday, did not alter existing risk assessments and warned against "over-interpretation of the precautionary principle".

The EFSA report comes just months after the UK government dismissed a fast-growing body of evidence of harm to bees as insufficient to justify banning the chemicals.

Environmental Impact Of Insecticides On Water Resources: Current Methods Of Measurement And Evaluation Show Shortcomings

Common practice for the monitoring of insecticides in water resources reveals shortcomings. This is shown by a current study conducted by the Landau-based Institute of Environmental Sciences of the University of Koblenz-Landau. Until now water samples have mostly been taken on fixed dates, for example once per month. However, insecticides enter water resources very irregularly and, even though their concentrations exceed the threshold levels only for a short time, their harmful effect is present. The consequence: If one bases the evaluation upon the zero values often measured within the scope of regular sampling, the overall evaluation underestimates the actual risks.

Cheers to scientific news that promotes adaptive management of economic services that are hazardous to ecosystem services. Ever since the formative junk-science spin storms around tobacco and industrial pollutants ethyl lead and fluoride, much valid regulatory science gets blown away. But social media empowers diffuse challengers and their representatives. Perhaps it is just the sites I read (thx, TOD), but the spin storms dont seem as effective these days. Best hopes folks keep learning to tell real storms from spin storms.

for reference:


"Imidacloprid is unstable in sunlit water and it quickly degrades. In the soil it strongly binds to organic matter. When not exposed to light, imidacloprid and dinotefuran break down slowly in water, and thus have the potential to persist in groundwater for extended periods."

They derived it from vampires?

First Global Qualitative Assessment Of 'Water-Grabbing' Phenomenon

... The study shows that foreign land acquisition is a global phenomenon, involving 62 grabbed countries and 41 grabbers and affecting every continent except Antarctica. Africa and Asia account for 47 percent and 33 percent of the global grabbed area, respectively, and about 90 percent of the grabbed area is in 24 countries.

Countries most affected by the highest rates of water grabbing are Indonesia, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The highest rates of irrigated water grabbing occur in Tanzania and Sudan.

Countries most active in foreign land acquisition are located in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. Overall, about 60 percent of the total grabbed water is appropriated, through land grabbing, by companies in the United States, United Arab Emirates, India, United Kingdom, Egypt, China and Israel.

Marginal lands are prime fuel source for alternative energy

How Alberta Will Fight Fracking Folk Hero Jessica Ernst

In famous flaming water case, regulator to argue 'no duty of care' to landowners or groundwater.

By Andrew Nikiforuk

A peer reviewed 2011 study by Karlis Muelenbachs, a world expert on identifying oil and gas drilling pollution, found extensive contamination of water wells in the Rosebud area due to cumulative oil and gas drilling and fracking combined with leaking wellbores. "Years of intensive resource exploitation in agricultural areas have left an impact on some domestic water wells," concluded the study.

The Ernst lawsuit has dragged on now for years. Both industry and government first argued for a shorter statement claim. Then they petitioned to have the court case moved from rural Alberta (Drumheller) to Calgary, where fewer people are directly impacted by hydraulic fracturing.

"This kind of determined legal battling goes on frequently whenever someone challenges government or corporations who have lots of resources to fight with," explains Klippenstein, one of Canada's top litigation lawyers.

Prior to extensive CBM fracking in central Alberta, only four of 2,300 historic water well records within a 50-kilometre radius of Rosebud showed any presence of methane.

But after Encana fracked the region, Ernst reported so much methane flowing from her kitchen tap that it whistled like a freight train and could be set on fire. Bathing burned her skin.

I would be more impressed by Nikiforuk's article if I hadn't grown up near the Hamlet of Rosebud and helped my father install water systems in the area.

There are not a lot of good underground aquifers in the area. Getting good well water is a hit-or-miss proposition, and mostly it's miss. Much of the water is associated with coal formations, and since the area is an active coalbed methane production area, there's a lot of methane in the coal formations, too. Sometimes it gets mixed together. It's not a huge problem if you vent the methane off the water before it gets into the house. If you complain to the government they will not doing anything for you. They will point out that landowners in the area do not own the water under their land and they have no intrinsic legal right to use it, hence the "no duty of care" legal argument. They will not provide landowners with free water and tell them that if they have problems they should truck water in from the nearest town.

The hydraulic fracturing argument is a red herring. Nobody is fracturing wells in the shallow CBM formations in the area. Any fracking occurs a mile or so underground in deeper oil and gas producing formations.

The Hamlet of Rosebud itself probably gets water from the Rosebud River and I would assume also the nearby Red Deer River. I don't know all the details. They did have some problems with bacteria contamination requiring a boil water advisory, but I think that's all solved now.

Other than that Rosebud has a very good Dinner Theatre and a number of good Bed and Breakfast places. I would recommend them to tourists in the area. Also don't miss the Royal Tyrell Museum in nearby Drumheller, the largest museum of paleontology in the world. If you are keen on dinosaurs, you might need a week to see all the exhibits (200 complete dinosaur skeletons.) And then there's the Badlands and the Hoodoos, also big tourist attractions.

... The Hamlet of Rosebud itself probably gets water from the Rosebud River and I would assume also the nearby Red Deer River.

Red Deer River water isn't much better ...

Booms set up to contain Alberta pipeline spill after up to 3,000 barrels of oil spew into Red Deer River

Cleanup of latest Alberta oil spill could take all summer

Red Deer River Oil Spill: Lawsuit Launched Against Plains Midstream Canada

The Red Deer River is not really great in terms of water quality, but I don't think it has a lot to do with the occasional minor oil spill. It's all those cattle pooping in the river that I had serious doubts about. If you've ever seen a well-fed cow pooping in a river, you'll know what I mean. I've seen lots of cows pooping in the Red Deer. It's Cattle Country, after all.

To commit violent and unjust acts, it is not enough for a government to have the will or even the power; the habits, ideas and passions of the time must lend themselves to their committal.

-- Alexis de Tocqueville

Munitions Of The Mind: A History Of Propaganda From The Ancient World To The Present Day (pdf 1.4MB)

Psychiatric Slavery (pdf 5.7MB)

Canadian Leaf

Blogging the life of a Nissan Leaf in Canada

Odometer: 25,804 Km
Total electricity cost: $397
Average cost: $1.54 per 100 Km

The honeymoon is over for most people, it seems:-

Things have gotten to the point that automotive writers who dreamed for decades about the possibility of electric cars are now admitting that the “honeymoon is over.” That’s how Drew Winter from Wards Auto put it. Sitting behind the wheel of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf for the first time were “among my most memorable in more than 30 years of automotive journalism,” Winter wrote. And yet, in terms of purely battery-powered cars:

Their shortcomings are impossible to ignore. The electric-only ranges are too short and the charging routine is annoying.

I tried to tell myself we should not judge vehicles by the size of their battery or “fuel tank.”

But if we evaluated a gasoline car with a tank that held only two gallons, took 3 to 20 hours to refill, and had an unreliable fuel gauge, it would be savaged.

I'd like EVs to take over the world, but it seems most people are unromantic about their cars.

Having read through the Canadian Leaf blog I find myself more and more set on the Leaf as the car that replaces my '99 Civic. I drive to work and back which is all most people do!

I'd hardly call their conclusion conclusive or all too surprising, considering their home base..

Sure, the shortcomings of EV's are impossible to ignore.. while with gas cars, the shortcomings have been quite easy to gloss over, as you can't see the oilfields at one end of the supply chain, or your own portion of the exhaust fumes overhead at the other.

Right back to Churchill, who said sometime after moving the Imperial Navy from Coal to Oil.. 'We are entering a period of consequences.'

Meanwhile, the RAV4 page is still chock full of unrepentant fans..

.. and the form of the future EV has probably still barely been viewed, since we're still making them all look pretty much like the shoppers at the Dealership expect to see echoing their daddys'
Oldsmobiles.. but HERE'S what I think will be a more common set of wheels in a couple decades..
http://www.resilience.org/stories/2012-10-25/electric-velomobiles-as-fas... (by Kris De Decker of Low-tech Mag)

Another link in the search looked worth looking at again..

Cars have taken over the world, and result is a vision of hell. EV's are still cars.

My car only has one horn, but if I beep twice, you can say it has Two..

EV's are still cars.

Yeah but they don't have to be... from jokuhl's link above:

In fact, the electric velomobile is everything what the electric car wants to be, but isn't: a sustainable alternative to the automobile with combustion engine. It is nearly impossible to design a personal, motorised and practical vehicle that is more efficient than the eWAW.

A simple calculation can illustrate this claim. Imagine that all 300 million Americans replace their car with an electric velomobile and all drive to work on the same day. To charge the 288 Wh battery of each of these 300 million eWAW's, we need 86,4 GWh of electricity. This is only 25 % of the electricity produced by existing American wind turbines (on average per day during the period July 2011 to June 2012, source). In other words, we could make a switch to private vehicles operating on 100 % renewable energy, using existent energy plants.

This is the kind of thing I keep talking about when I speak of profound paradigm change. We can have a very high quality of life using a lot less energy than we are using now and we can do it on renewables without nuclear.

OK, now look around you at the giant vehicles people are presently driving - single occupants too. Yes it's a vehicle, but it's not what people are talkking about here or what anyone is thinking about when they use the term EV. When someone other than a few nuts (who are not really nuts) talks about an EV they mean vehicles exactly like what they have being used in an automotive transporation system exactly like the one we have, but electric. No sacrifices, no compromises, exactly the same. BAU.

Nobody sees what we've done to out cities and country side, nobody connects what is happening in the climate or economy to the automobile. The article was about how electric automobiles are not selling, becasue they don't work the way people expect them to.

That says nothing about other systems/paradigms we might build. But if you want to build such things there will need to be some popular support. In this case all you'd get would be incredulous laughs.

In this case all you'd get would be incredulous laughs.

Who knows maybe a few people who think like me might even get the last laugh, not that I'm counting on that...

This is a problem of people talking past each other. When I discuss EV's I am not at all talking about what a couple of people could make and/or use. I'm fine with the idea of electric bikes or alternate types of vehicles, just as I am with horse drawn vehicles. I have the skills to build such things and the mindset to use them. These can and will be useful in various ways. But that is a different discussion, as this is about the primary transportation system of the core of the worlds main empire. It's beyond the primary system, in most places it's the only system available. And that fossil fueled automotive transportation system will fail.

The average users of that system expect that it will continue with electric powered vehicles, or assume technology will save us in some vague way or have simply not thought about it all. It is now very late in the game and they are discovering that EVs don't work the way they want. Eventually they will discover that the automotive transportation system won't work at all without fossil fuel liquids to power it. By the time that becomes apparent there will not be enough time or resources available to make something new.

It will be nice if some folks have some alternate types of transportation worked out, and eventually people will accept any kind of personal transportation as better than none, but it won't in any way replace or make up for the system that failed. That system will simply be gone, and the EV will not have saved it.

Personally I could not be happier if the automobile passes into history's garbage bin, as I woke up from the automobile nightmare long ago to see just what the incredible cost of the project has been. It was not worth it, and in recent years we've discovered even more just how badly this error will cost us.

It will be nice if some folks have some alternate types of transportation worked out, and eventually people will accept any kind of personal transportation as better than none, but it won't in any way replace or make up for the system that failed. That system will simply be gone, and the EV will not have saved it

Absolutely 100% correct! However the EV, (Electric Velomobile) >;-) in my mind at least, was never intended to be a replacement nor is it intended to be a savior of the failed system. If it has a place at all it will be within an alternative paradigm.

There's a reason they were developed in Europe and not in the US!


Re: It will be nice if some folks have some alternate types of transportation worked out,...

We are still patiently working on local sail transport here in Seattle. I just attended the first-ever bioregional Cascadia Grains Conference to suss out grain-carrying ideas. And we know of two other new and determined sail transport groups started this year in the US:

I had a good initial conversation with Erik (the Vermonter), in part because he wanted advice on how to approach the Coast Guard, in part because he is planning on using the lock system to bring down farm goods to the city, and I wanted to share my NYC contacts. Back in 2008 when we first considered sail transport in the Puget Sound, I promptly took the idea home over Christmas and made an appointment to see what the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey thought about it. After living here for so long now in ohsopolite Seattle, what I wanted was my people's legendary, ah, directness: a simple yes or a no. It was a yes. My life has never been the same (in a crazy but good way) :-)

I think purity is a component of beauty, and one of the most beautiful, pure sounds I've heard is that of a sail embracing and finding its equilibrium with the wind...

Very cool. And I bet a good many folks had never considered 'Vermont' and 'Coast Guard' together before. Still recall how impressive that cutter (or whatever it was - I'm not a ship guy) looked cruising Lake Champlain, aka New England's 'West Coast'.

That is very cool, and I agree with you on the joys of the sound and feel of a sail catching the wind. And there is no guilt in harnessing that bit of energy flow either.

Laughs? Sounds like one of the Topquotes to me! First they laugh at you.. (and they might try to keep doing that for a long time..) in fact, people will laugh at you from ALL sides.. but if you're used to being one of the nuts, and you know what you're doing, then so what?

As my pal Wendy used to say.. 'If you can't make a fool out of yourself, you probably can't make ANYTHING out of yourself!'

I just don't care at all what the mainstream THINKS they want. Following their polling and their buying preferences is just that, FOLLOWING. There are key parts of what an EV is that makes it a great tool for wrenching away from this madness.. but yes, that wrenching will still be using roads.. probably the roads we've had all along. It still involves manufacturing, including various steps that are still dirty or highly inappropriate.. alas! What are you going to do?

Well for starters.. don't forget to laugh a bit!

If the Chevy Volt gets good reliability ratings from Consumer Reports or another reputable source for car reliability, might consider purchasing one.

I really expect any auto I purchase to give me 10yrs of reliable service, with minimal breakdowns.
And if it does have a breakdown, I expect it to be servicable by the user, as my car purchases so far have been.

The Volt has been at the top of customer satisfaction ratings for two years in a row. However, I worry about the complexity of the Volt. We are talking about a car with three different clutches! But the added complexity may be over-compensated for by the fact that the ICE engine will not operate as often as the ICE in a normal ICE car or a conventional hybrid.

These are not classic manual-transmission clutches with friction and pressure plates, etc. that wear out. These three "clutches" are standard issue for automatic transmissions. I recall they are also known as "bands". The Volt's transmission is ingeniously simple, with a single set of planetary gears that can create a continuously variable-ratio transmission, similar conceptually to the proven Prius Synergy drive. Most modern automatic transmissions are more complex mechanically, with two planetary gear sets and up to 6 "clutches". Also, the Volt's software spins up the two motors and/or engine as appropriate to speed-match the shafts on opposite sides of the clutches before "engaging" the clutch, so there is essentially zero friction and wear between the surfaces.

"servicable by the user" - that's the last thing you can expect from the Volt. I saw somewhere an article with many photos, where the authors did a "teardown" of a Volt. The number of mysterious electronic control boards was staggering. IIRC they counted something like 150 microcomputers in the one car! It may well provide good service for 10 years. But brings us no closer to sustainability. Meanwhile in Cuba they keep 60-year-old cars running, using little more than baling wire and duct tape.

Of course, these 'hyper-engineered' EV's are bringing back a classic exchange between Bill Gates and GM.. from the heady days of Compuserve!


..In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press release stating, "If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they painted new lines on the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.


This problem is not only related to EV's and hybrids. Every modern car has dozens microcontrollers and many kilo's of other electronics and electromotors. It's an illusion to think a car owner can maintain his modern car, EV nor ICE.

I saw somewhere an article with many photos, where the authors did a "teardown" of a Volt. The number of mysterious electronic control boards was staggering. IIRC they counted something like 150 microcomputers in the one car!

Such level of modules does not necessarily rule out user maintenance.

If a sensor dies, and you can determine it is bad, reach it, get replacement parts from aftermarket stores or dealer parts desk, then I would consider it user serviceable.

If no one sells such part(s), and the dealer makes you order and wait wks for such a part, and charges high prices for such parts, then not so user serviceable.

Based on previous personal experience, the computers in a car are generally robust and do not fail.
It is usually sensors that fail.

One guy writes an article whining and that means the "honeymoon is over for most people"?

Gas cars will continue to dominate for the simple reason that gasoline remains pretty cheap. But as gas prices rise as they inevitably will, people will realize that having an electric car charge up while they sleep isn't so "annoying" when the cost of fueling the electric car is a small fraction of fueling a gas car.

At $3/gallon, EVs are not a compelling product. But they'll come crawling back as gas prices rise. They are just too short-sighted to realize right now.

Gas cars will continue to dominate for the simple reason that gasoline remains pretty cheap. But as gas prices rise as they inevitably will, people will realize that having an electric car charge up while they sleep isn't so "annoying" when the cost of fueling the electric car is a small fraction of fueling a gas car.

What amount of oil do you expect electric cars to take off the world market? After all its GLOBAL warming or is the cloak of denial enveloped you, like most.

The same with windmills and solar.
We are in the midst of an ever worsening emergency and you continue to bleat the absurd benefits of manufacturing, buying, selling and running EV's. The renewables and alternatives we are developing are a direct reaction and response to the various rising costs of producing and using FF's. Like with the Mafia "it's not personal, it's just business", and all the while atmospheric CO2 continues its relentless rise, acidifying the oceans and taking away our glaciers, rivers, forests and fauna.

The business of burning fossil fuel is imperative to maintaining a semblance or the charade of BAU for as long as possible. The intent is to burn as much carbon as possible before it all becomes too hard.....we are fishing harder, we are getting our share before it's all gone. We are for all intents and purposes burning everything at peak. The advent of EV's, renewables and nuclear generation have not prevented it but they will extend it.

They have not stalled or prevented technological advances enabling the extraction of FF's from increasing difficult sites. We continue to explore and pollute at will.

The world's population is no longer running up to seven billion, we are there. Consider the damage on the run up to seven billion. From now on the destruction is many times greater from as little as fifty years ago and it will continue on that path, for as long as we can maintain the BAU charade.

What is so hard about being honest? Admitting that we can't possibly engineer or build our way to a new future is the first step. From there meaningful steps could be taken. We can't get anywhere with "baby steps" as I so often read here. The world is addicted and the slow hit or miss methadone approach, well it's too late for that.

What amount of oil do you expect electric cars to take off the world market?...The world is addicted and the slow hit or miss methadone approach, well it's too late for that.

The world may be addicted, but the US is the poster child. Considering that 4% of world population uses nearly a quarter of the world's resources, yes any change for the better that we make is worth doing.

The way I look at it, the velomobile will come into it's own when gasoline passes $10 or $15/gallon. I could be perfectly content cruising along at 45 MPH as long as I'm more or less out of the weather. I think the market will quickly standardize on a fiberglass teardrop with tandem seating and enough cargo room for two good size duffels. Under gasoline power it could exceed 250 MPG. Add a rack of batteries to make an ultra-efficient hybrid. No heat or AC, but when it comes down to that or walking I think they will sell like hotcakes. Likewise, the DOT will come to grips with it when they have to. A velomobile fleet would have a fraction the energy and ecological footprint of our current fleet.

In Europe gas has been $8-10 /gallon for years. Still plenty of (smaller) SUVs , EVs are still rare as hens teeth and even hybrids are a few percent of the market. Velomobiles are the preserve of geeks in the Netherlands and Germany, and non-existent in many countries. I estimate less than 50 in the UK.

On the plus side, public bicycle hire with on-the spot rental by smartphone, is a huge success in London and Paris.

The rich will always be able to afford to burn oil, the poor will walk or cycle. By the time the poor can no longer afford a car, they will no longer have the capital to buy a velomobile.

But I do not believe "the Rich" can afford to shoulder the burden of the roads all by themselves. "The poor" need to be included in paying for the roads.

"The poor" need to be included in paying for the roads.

Yes, and in the most amazingly brazen bad policy ever, Governor Ultrasound of Virginia believes that cutting the gas tax to zero and raising sales taxes on other products and assigning a $100/year fee for electric cars was a good idea.

The most mind-boggling stupid proposal ever. Drive a Hummer? . . . get a tax cut. Walked to work and bought a banana? . . . pay more in tax to pay for Hummer guy's road.


This is for the (no doubt posh) 2011 version:

According to Volkswagen, the XL1 can achieve a combined fuel consumption of 0.9 litres per 100 kilometres (310 mpg-imp; 260 mpg-US)

The 2011 is 1,000 pounds heavier than the original (literally weighs more than two times the prototype). I'm sure it has heat, probably AC too...and a "fraction the energy and ecological footprint" of the current fleet. Just have to get people to buy them and not 4,000 lb chrome phalluses.

Wow, I had not seen that before, thanks! That is a nice little machine. I was kind of thinking about me, a buzz box, a tubing bender, and the wheels off a couple old motorcycles. But a little car like that would be a lot nicer.

There are rumors that they might actually build it . . . but I'm skeptical.

The Volkswagen XL1 is marching ever closer to production. Spy photographers recently spotted the diesel hybrid prancing through the snow during a little winter testing, giving us our first look at the vehicle's daytime running lights, as well as the LED taillamps. The ultra-efficient two-door is said to be capable of returning up to 235 miles per gallon thanks to its two-cylinder diesel engine, 27-horsepower electric motor and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. We don't expect the car to be quick off the line, but it's hard to argue with triple-digit fuel economy numbers.

With its skinny tires and inset rear track, the XL1 should offer up interesting driving dynamics, too. All of the quirks of the XL1 can be attributed to the engineering quest for ever better fuel efficiency. Volkswagen says the car will have a slippery drag coefficient of just 0.186, which is far better than anything else on the road today.


I think the possibility that they will build it is fairly high actually. The recent prototypes have been built more like a production car, particularly the engine - the original prototype used a special-built engine, but the latest two used 1/2 the casting for the 1.6 liter TDI engine creating an 800cc two-cylinder. This means a common parts bin and so little added development and production cost. The thing got porky...the latest prototype is twice the weight of the previous two, which likely means they're using less exotic materials and complying with various crash regulations and pumping it full of "must haves" like 40,000 speaker radios, and butt warmers 'n such. The side-by-side seating is also interesting, it apparently strains normal people's brain to have tandem seating. But all of these things hint that they're taking it out of the "How far can we push the boundary" realm of the concept car into "How can we make this cheap to produce and publicly acceptable enough to sell?"

"We can't get anywhere with "baby steps" as I so often read here."

Well the first problem is to call any steps just 'baby steps' .. it's like the argument that your vote or your voice is unimportant.. which is both right and it's totally wrong.

Nihilism is an easy refuge from the terror of possibly being mired in insignificance.. oh well.

The little things and the the little people do matter, in large part because the examples anyone provides can be noticed, taught and replicated.

Vote early and often.

Sweden has tried the nonICE personal car route to dismal failure:


Published on Friday, June 10, 2011 by CommonDreams.org
The Green Revolution Backfires: Sweden’s Lesson for Real Sustainability
by Firmin DeBrabander

What if electric cars made pollution worse, not better? What if they increased greenhouse gas emissions instead of decreasing them? Preposterous you say? Well, consider what’s happened in Sweden.

What amount of oil do you expect electric cars to take off the world market?

My best prediction for right now . . . almost nothing. Why? Because oil remains cheap & convenient.

However, if the price of oil shoots up then it is nice to know that EVs will be there to help fill in the gap.

fter all its GLOBAL warming or is the cloak of denial enveloped you, like most. The same with windmills and solar.
We are in the midst of an ever worsening emergency and you continue to bleat the absurd benefits of manufacturing, buying, selling and running EV's. The renewables and alternatives we are developing are a direct reaction and response to the various rising costs of producing and using FF's. Like with the Mafia "it's not personal, it's just business", and all the while atmospheric CO2 continues its relentless rise, acidifying the oceans and taking away our glaciers, rivers, forests and fauna.

The business of burning fossil fuel is imperative to maintaining a semblance or the charade of BAU for as long as possible. The intent is to burn as much carbon as possible before it all becomes too hard.....we are fishing harder, we are getting our share before it's all gone. We are for all intents and purposes burning everything at peak. The advent of EV's, renewables and nuclear generation have not prevented it but they will extend it.

I find such a view odd. What do you think such a view is going to accomplish? It is like a vegan chastising a vegetarian as a god-awful worthless heretic because the vegetarian still drinks milk . . . meanwhile the vast majority eat meat. Do you think such a position is going to help matters?

I'm a realist. I think we are not going down a good path but I realize that there simply is not enough realization of it and, worse, there is no will to change paths since that would involve some sacrifice. I think if vast numbers of people did make reasonable changes, we could get things more or less under control. But that is probably not going to happen. So we are just going to have to get smacked down by nature a few times until we learn. It has happened before and it will happen again. We suffered massive disease outbreaks until we learned about and dealt with basic sanitation. We had world wars until we realized it is better to just get along. Whether it be oil shortages or climate change, it looks like we will have to suffer a good smack down before we wise up.

What is so hard about being honest? Admitting that we can't possibly engineer or build our way to a new future is the first step.

Well in the words of The Dude . . . well, that's just like, your opinion, man. I think that is completely unproven, defeatist, and pathetic. I know we can engineer great things. What we lack is the self-control and political will. There is too much greed, envy, sloth, wrath, gluttony, and pride in the human nature. (Lust is just fine as long as you use birth control but other than that they came up with a pretty good list.) But if you think it is all pointless then why bother doing anything at all?

As outlined in "Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight without Oil" by Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl electricity can be an answer to mobility as we run out of cheap fossil fuels which also destroy the planet.


But this means what the authors call "GCEV" Grid-Controlled-Electric Vehicles" ie Rail, LightRail,
trolleys powered by directly provided electricity. It will NOT be the current 2 ton personal cars with an average occupancy of 1.2 people consuming 1 football field of asphalt for every 5 cars.

It will NOT be the current 2 ton personal cars with an average occupancy of 1.2 people consuming 1 football field of asphalt for every 5 cars.

No. It will be a 97,000 pound vehicle with an average occupancy of about 30 people, though as other modes of transport disappear I expect the average occupancy may approach 120.

The average light rail vehicle weighs nearly 100,000 pounds, costs nearly $7 million, seats about 70 people, and in practice provides about 12,000 passenger miles of transportation per day.

The average passenger car weighs nearly 4,000 pounds, costs about $25,000, seats five people, and in practice provides about 50 passenger miles of transportation per day. So for 280 times the capital cost, the light rail system provides about 240 times the amount of transport, but provides it with no flexibility of route, little flexibility of time, and at a much slower speed. If it's such a great deal, why does every light rail system in the world run at a loss? The Houston system I linked to only gets about 20% of its operating costs from passengers.

The velomobile mentioned further up this thread sounds a better deal to me.

According to this 2000 study, the Calgary LRT system had a capital cost of $2400 per daily passenger, including vehicles, tracks, stations, and electrical systems. See: Calgary CTrain Effective Capital Utilization The key reason is the high passenger traffic - Last year the system carried about 276,000 passengers per weekday, but they recently added a fourth line, so it's probably higher now.

The operating cost in 2000 was 27 cents per passenger trip, and the fare was several times that, so I think it is reasonable to conclude the LRT system makes an operating profit. However, this is not segregated and the money is used to subsidize the feeder bus system. The buses are quite a bit more expensive to operate than LRT due to the higher labor costs (1 driver per 40-60 passenger bus vs. 1 driver per 400-900 passenger train), so the overall transit system recovers 50% of its costs out of the fare box. And unlike the buses the LRT system is powered by wind turbines south of the city, so fossil fuel costs don't affect it.

One key point you miss is that LRVs last a lot longer than cars (30-40 years) and have lower maintenance costs than ICE vehicles. Calgary's oldest LRVs are now 30 years old, and the city is only now planning to retire them over the next 10 years.

The new SD 160 NG LRVs they are buying can carry 226 passengers each, with 56 sitting and 70 standing. They currently run 3-car trains on 2-minute separation, but are going to go to 4-car trains when they finish extending the platforms. That would be a maximum of 904 passengers per train or about 36,000 passengers per hour per track.

One LRT track takes about the same space as a single lane of freeway which can carry about 2,000 cars per hour. Having the same capacity as a two track LRT system would require 18 lanes of freeway. I've been in Houston and know what that's like. In Calgary they run the LRT carrying the equivalent of 16 lanes of freeway commuters through the middle of downtown on a narrow street, mixed with buses, taxis, and police cars.

You can't do that with EVs and freeways.

Indeed. A well-planned rail transport system is a great thing. Every major city should have an electrified rails system like Boston's T, NYC's subway, SF Bay Area's BART & MUNI, etc.

I should correct the capacity of the SD 160 NG to 56 passengers sitting and 170 standing for a total of 226. Someone is bound to get wound up about it. The intention of reducing the seats and having a lot of standing capacity is to take advantage of the fact that commuters have a lot more tolerance for standing on a rail vehicle than on a bus. The "crush" space is only needed on the rush hour peaks, and there are fewer unused seats on the off hours.

We have both a Leaf and a Volt. We've had the Leaf for 1.5 years and the Volt for .7 years. We still like them. Zero maintenance problems.

We never find the electric ranges too short. Never have run out.

It takes 10 seconds to plug in the charger after you park. This is annoying? Not as annoying as filling up with gas and checking the oil.

My impression is:

The people who bad-mouth EVs don't own one.

The people who own them like them.

Bringing Fusion Electricity To The Grid

The European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) has published a roadmap which outlines how to supply fusion electricity to the grid by 2050. The roadmap to the realisation of fusion energy breaks the quest for fusion energy down into eight missions. For each mission, it reviews the current status of research, identifies open issues, proposes a research and development programme and estimates the required resources. It points out the needs to intensify industrial involvement and to seek all opportunities for collaboration outside Europe.

All my ramblings about fission go out the window if we can actually figure out fusion - hot, cold, or somewhere in between.

I don't think we will ever build a commercial fusion reactor but it really doesn't matter. A working fusion reactor would be decades down the road and we simply don't have decades. Whatever may save humanity, if anything, must take place within the next decade or so. And if anything does come along that saves humanity so we can continue business as usual for another hundred years, will be at the expense of almost every other wild species on earth.

Cornucopians must be, by nature, anthropocentric.

Ron P.

It is a hypothetical that Fusion will work out better.

But lets say that there becomes a way to convert matter into energy directly. Given mankinds demands and growth - what is the plan to remove the extra heat from within the biosphere from all that matter into energy conversions?

If you had unlimited and cheap enough energy you could actively cool the planet. Just put a radiator above the surface&biosphere, and run heat pumps from groundlevel to the radiator. Effectively running your heatpump between the planets surface, and the cold of space. All kinds of cool things can be done, if only energy was free.

What about CO2 accumulation and acidification of oceans?

Its a pure Sci-Fi speculation of course, but with cheap unlimited energy supply, we don't need no stinkin living ocean, we just convert our cities into ground based spaceships, and energy hogging industrial processes create everything we need. Then we truly are independent of the biosphere. Not gonna happen, but the missing ingredient is huge amounts of very cheap energy.

It is often thought that humans are not part of nature, that we can somehow cover the whole earth with concrete and think we'll still have McNuggets, that nature is something of recreational value only. It is the reasoning of an urbanized city dweller without a sense of reality and a grave error. For one, not only provides a living ocean food and income to hundreds of millions, a living ocean also provides much of the oxygen we breathe.

Yes. What John Michael Greer calls The Silent Running Fallacy.

It’s in this context that we can define the Silent Running fallacy; it’s the mistaken belief that human industrial civilization can survive apart from nature. It’s this fallacy that leads countless well-intentioned people to argue that nature is an amenity, and should be preserved because, basically, it’s cute. That sort of argument invites the response, just as stereotyped and more appealing to our culture’s governing narratives, that hard-headed practicality takes precedence over emotional appeals and nature can therefore be ravaged with impunity.

Yet nature is not an amenity, and the “practicality” that leads current political and business leaders to ignore the disastrous consequences of their own actions doesn’t deserve the name. If anything, industrial civilization is the amenity, and it’s not particularly cute, either. Nature can survive without industrial humanity, but industrial humanity cannot survive without nature – no matter how hard we pretend otherwise, or how enthusiastically we stuff our brains with science fiction fantasies of electronic reincarnation and the good life in deep space.

We can't even breathe without nature, but we think of it as an optional amenity.

Last I calculated, all the anthropic power dissipation is about 1/10,000 of the solar power incident upon Earth. It has to increase by about 10 times to be about 1 W/m2 over the entire planet, an amount comparable to the variation in the solar activity cycle. If world population reaches a maximum of 9 billion, then I do not think anthropic power dissipation will reach a significant level.

Idle No More protesters gather at busiest border crossing

Hundreds of First Nations demonstrators gather in Windsor, Ont., at North America's busiest international crossing today, while others rally at bridges, railways, intersections and legislative buildings in at least three provinces as part of the Idle No More movement's national day of action.

In a more humourosly subversive vein...

Welcome to #Ottawapiskat, the “Settler Nations” reserve and Canada’s capital

Last week, right-wing character assassins in the corporate and social media universes mounted an unprecedented attack on hunger-striking Chief Theresa Spence, spreading malicious allegations financial management of her northern Ontario First Nation reserve of Attawapiskat. Over the weekend, progressive and Idle No More activists took to Twitter to respond to the racism-inspired attacks, and the hypocrisy of the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on First Nations issues.

These are the best of the best:

"#Ottawapiskat debt hovering around $600,000,000,000. Might be time for a third-party manager."
— Hayden King (@Hayden_King) January 14, 2013

"Welcome to #Ottawapiskat, the “Settler Nations” Reserve and capital of #Canada. Where did the taxpayers’ money go? Ask Chief #Harper?"
— Obert Madondo (@Obiemad) January 14, 2013

"Remember when the chief and council of #Ottawapiskat were found to be in contempt of parliament?"
— syd (@popsociologist) January 14, 2013

Perhaps TOD will get lucky and someone will post about this event:

Funny how there is an alternate universe where people are serious about the consequences of climate change!

RE: Al Qaeda attacks Algerian gas field, kill, kidnap foreigners

Uh, oh.

A new phase?


"Such an attack would require a large and heavily armed insurgent force with a degree of freedom to move around, all elements that al Qaeda has not previously had.

However, the conflict in neighboring Libya in 2011 changed the balance of force. Security experts say al Qaeda was able to obtain arms, including heavy weapons, from the looted arsenals of former leader Muammar Gaddafi."

Unintended consequences?

UPDATE: There are reports that lots of hostages and hostage-takers have been killed by Algerian military.

Oil Giants Battle US State Over Contamination

Two oil giants, ExxonMobil and Citgo, are battling in court against the US state of New Hampshire over who is responsible for the cost of cleaning up widespread groundwater contamination from the petrol additive methyl tertiary butyl ether, better known as MTBE.

The trial, expected to be the most complex and time-consuming in the state’s history, has just got under way. The state wants $700m to monitor and treat contaminated sites.

... During opening arguments Grant showed jurors what she described as memos from high-level ExxonMobil employees counselling the company against MTBE’s use due to environmental concerns.

They also warned about the high cost of remediation if it was used.

State attorneys allege the companies chose to use MTBE, despite knowing the risks, because it was cheaper than other options. The additive has been banned in the state since 2007.

Cycling becoming more popular in US cities

Car culture in many areas is starting to be replaced by one that encourages two wheels rather than four.

Soot called major global warming factor

Black carbon – common soot -- not only causes smog but is the number two contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide, a U.S. researcher says.

A four-year assessment by an international panel that included University of Washington atmospheric scientist Sarah Doherty found black carbon, the soot particles in smoke and smog, contributes about twice as much to global warming as previously estimated.

Ron P.

From the article:

Some previous research had suggested black-carbon emissions from sources like open burning of forests, crops and grasslands, and from energy-related emissions in Southeast Asia and East Asia, were being underestimated, she said.

A bright spot in the study is the finding that since soot only remains in the atmosphere a short time, controlling soot emissions can result in more immediate climate benefits than trying to control carbon dioxide, which can linger in the atmosphere for years, Doherty said.

"We hope reducing black-carbon emissions buys us some time," she said. "But it doesn't replace cutting back on CO2 emissions."

Fires of the major league type are linked to CO2 based global warming.

Thus, obviously this soot is substantially some blowback from CO2 pollution, much like methane emissions in the Arctic regions due to melting ice and permafrost.

To that extent it is not likely to be part of the "easy fix" in a major league way.

Gotta get off the addiction to fossil fuels is the bottom line forever.

There was a similar argument several years back, attack the low hanging fruit first (in that case methane, and specialty chemicals, like CFCs), were the CO2e (e=equivalent, comparing radiative warming potential) per buck is much higher, makes sense. But, IMO this would just provide an excuse to put off CO2 elimination, so going for the low hanging climate fruit first, just lets us ultimately emit more CO2 before we get serious. So I think the only responsible position regarding the LHFs, are Not until we are already rapidly cutting the CO2 emissions!

"We hope reducing black-carbon emissions buys us some time,"

To do what, look for additional ways beyond reducing black carbon emissions to buy even more time to procrastinate on what to do? Or is the idea of buying more time to burn the rest of the economically available FF? Or is it so we can continue to argue ad infinitum on whether there really is AGW? Whenever I hear lines like the one above on buying more time there is certainty it is not to change course, but instead to keep the same BAU we have for just as long as possible.

True enough, but there is also another way to look at it. It's pretty obvious that the average schmoe will not significantly change his ways until it becomes necessary. Since the currently available alternatives range from seriously inconvenient to nonexistent, things are going to have to get pretty bad to make it happen. Like, bad enough to where there are shortages in stores and a significant number of people can't get to work on a regular basis. Approaches like controlling soot and increasing efficiency can help buy time between the onset of serious pain and the brick wall. These things will be highly valuable after the stampede begins. Might as well spend the time between now and then productively.

Filabot Turns Your Plastic Junk Into Material for 3-D Printers

Filabot promises to help turn your plastic crap into 3-D printed fanciness, alleviating one of the biggest sustainability problems for 3-D printing.

Just over a year ago, Tyler McNaney was on break from college. “I was surfing the internet as most college kids do, and I saw a video of 3-D printing,” he says. “I was amazed and I learned all I could about it.” Soon after, he owned one of his own. Not much longer after that, he decided he wanted to make his own filament for it. Sadly, he was low on cash. So he launched Filabot on Kickstarter.

For desktop 3-D printers to work, they need some kind of material to work with. Most contemporary printers use plastic filament, available in spools from various suppliers. Filabot reduces the need for that stuff. Instead you can grind up household plastics or even past projects to make new lines.

Support it on KickStarter.
Here's the link... http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rocknail/filabot-plastic-filament-maker

He's already met his funding goals but in any case if you want to contribute.

From today's "Ask Amy" advice column. A young person wrote in complaining that he doesn't want to drive, and his parents won't let him get a job until he does. Amy told him he needs to learn to drive. Among the reasons:

Driving will also put you in good stead in the event that we all find ourselves in some sort of apocalyptic "Mad Max" future.

I guess it's something, when a garden-variety advice columnist mentions an apocalyptic Mad Max future as a reason to do something. OTOH, I wonder if she missed just what the problem was in Mad Max.


“One of the most important things a parent can do in a kid’s life is teach them how to drive”

I've taken that quote a little out of context - it's about a guy who teaches free defensive driving courses but there is a underlying implication of auto-everything.

“I think we need to do a better job of preparing these kids for a future of driving,” he said. “People need to understand that 4,000 pounds of steel in the wrong hands can become a weapon. The best safety device of any vehicle is a well-trained driver.”

That's an odd one - I found the column elsewhere with this line cut out.

I think you also misread the letter - the parents say they need a car to get a job, not neccessarily that they won't let them get a job unless they can drive. Which, sadly, is actually a simple statement of fact in many places in the US. There is not enough public transit to get to work and get home, often even in cities this is the case (especially if you work late). In a suburb or rural area you can forget it.

I think that if Kunstler was every right about anything, it's that car culture and suburbia is poisonous and has created a world where doing things the natural way - on foot - is nearly impossible.

I don't think I misread the letter. No doubt at least part of the concern is the parents' not wanting to drive the kid to work and back. I just assumed that was obvious.

Says something about how entitled the kid is, though, if he expects someone else to drive him everywhere.

WTI up to $95 today. Anyone knows what's causing this rise in US oil prices?

My guess: the Algeria news, an unexpected drop in inventories, and a plunge in jobless claims.


U.S. Stocks Rise Amid Better-Than-Estimated Economic Data

Equities rose as builders broke ground on more houses than forecast in December, capping the best year for the industry since 2008, another sign residential real estate is boosting the U.S. economic expansion.

Everybody is ready to get this party started again. And where there's construction, there's oil demand.

Maybe it's because I grew up in a somewhat unique place (oxymoronic, I know, but I'm sticking with it) The Adirondack Park of NYS, with 150k people in 10,000 mi2, so larger than 6 (or 7) states with low pop density. But for whatever reason, I have never been able to understand the growth paradigm. Every bit of ground 'broken' for housing (or anything else) is indeed broken ground. It is ground taken from other species, taken from the commons (in whatever watered down, over-regulated form) and transformed into cookie cutter nothingness. And with it, of course, come more people, needing more roads, more stores, more everything. And then when the tax base can't support the local infrastructure, the response is always, 'we need more growth'. The growth culture is an abomination upon the planet, and there is little (if any) escape from it any more. This is why the Arctic is melting, glaciers are melting, species are dying, aquifers are drying, reefs are bleaching, deserts are advancing, storms are strenghtening. We have achieved our goal - everything is growing... worse.

Nope...something much more substantial. Compliments of westexas. Don't have the link but here are some highlights. It verifies what I've pointed out before: nothing would make Gulf Coast producers happier than to see any delay in pipeline expansion. Including the Rockman...my days of getting a $20/bbl premium by shipping my Texas crude to La. are over.

A new era for US Gulf Coast oil refining dynamics has dawned by Bridget Hunsucker | January 15, 2013

After years of stockpiles and capacity constraints, a sea change in US crude flows began last week when the Seaway Pipeline expanded to 400,000 b/d. The pipeline marks the first capacity to link the oil hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, and the Texas Gulf Coast. In the next three months, awaited pipeline capacity will flow to the Gulf Coast region, relieving long-constrained crude production. One million b/d of pipeline capacity, most of it new, will connect Eagle Ford shippers with the Gulf Coast refining region. This is far more than what is currently being produced from the South Texas shale. But, in 2013, production levels are expected to rise beyond the Bakken Shale’s in North Dakota to 1.18 million b/d. In addition, Midstream Partner’s Longhorn reversal project, that will run from Crane to Houston, Texas, will soon bring as much as 225,000 b/d of capacity online from the Permian Basin. Upon flooding the Gulf Coast market with cheap, light sweet crude, the new pipeline capacity will cause pricing spreads to shrink — with Louisiana Light Sweet (LLS) narrowing to West Texas Intermediate (WTI), and WTI eventually gaining to Brent.

The LLS-WTI spread is expected to narrow to just $5/b, the cost of the tariff rate, in the second half of the year. That compares with Platts assessment Monday of LLS at WTI plus $16.50/b, down already from last year when it reached above the plus $20/b-mark. While the WTI-LLS spread narrows, LLS is also expected to trade well below Brent, as the Gulf Coast light sweet benchmark comes more into parity with WTI. The WTI-Brent spread, which to date has been the typical indicator of Gulf Coast spot prices, narrowed sharply last week. On January 11, the day of the Seaway expansion’s completion, the ICE February Brent contract traded at a premium of $16.88/b over the NYMEX February light sweet crude contract, its lowest level since September 20, 2012. Adding more new supply to the Gulf Coast crude pool, Heavy Canadian crude such as Western Canada Select will also soon flow south on Seaway, sources have said. As refiners gain access for cost-advantaged crudes, current record-breaking Gulf Coast refinery operating rates are expected to reach higher. Tuner Mason analyst John Auers expects an increase of well over 1 million b/d of domestic light crude runs along the Gulf Coast, mostly displacing imported lights and mediums.


You would think that kind of news would be it's own drum article.

Is that flow capacity enough to drain the Cushing glut?

eastex - Found the link: http://blogs.platts.com/2013/01/15/gulf-oil/

For those like the Rockman we've been watching the development closely. For instance even though I was selling crude from the same area as my future EOR project for that LLS premium we've been using $90/bbl in our economics. And I hope we don't have to drop it any further when that Canadian oil starts filling up Gulf Coast refineries.

I've been watching this, too. What has happened is there there have been some really creative deals done between American and Canadian companies, and the Seaway Pipeline, which used to carry crude from the Gulf Coast to the trading hub at Cushing, OK, has been reversed and boosted to 400,000 bpd carrying crude south from Cushing to the Coast. Other pipeline changes are underway, too, and the bottleneck at Cushing is rapidly disappearing. This has a huge effect in reducing the spread in prices so Rockman's profit margins have been hit hard. Sorry about that, Rock. Try to live with $95/bbl.

A great deal of the new oil hitting the Gulf Coast will be heavy Canadian oil, aka "tar sands", and the Gulf refineries are perfectly capable of processing the stuff (which isn't much different from Venezuelan extra-heavy), hence their keenness in getting access to it. Western Canadian Select (WCS) is trading nearly $40/bbl under the price of WTI, so the profit margins are there for the refineries. This doesn't really help the Canadian producers, though. The Canadian export pipelines are already running at capacity so the pipeline bottlenecks will just move to the Canadian border, and WCS will still continue to trade in Canada at $40/bbl under the price of WTI.

As far as I can tell, the biggest winners are the Gulf Coast refiners, who will get cheap feedstock but charge the same for products as refiners who have to buy expensive oil, so all the money will fall out on their bottom line. Mid-Continent refiners were already big winners because they had access to cheap Canadian oil, and their feedstock price might rise, but not to the level of Brent. Less outrageous profits - dang, have to cut back on the champagne and caviar at the company picnic.

Effect on the average consumer - more or less nil. The oil refining companies with access to cheap Canadian oil will charge the same price for gas as other refiners, and put all the money in their own pockets. Not that I have anything against that.

Thought you would be interested in that article.

What's the current LLS price? I can't seem to find it any more on Bloomberg. The key spread to watch, IMO, is the LLS versus Brent spread.

wt - The other day I saw the LLS futures were posting a few pennies under $95/bbl

Wow. I thought you were wrong about the LLS/Brent spread widening, as more Mid-Continent crude made it to the Gulf Coast. Turns out I wuz wrong. In August, 2011 LLS was only about $2 less than Brent, while WTI was $24 lower.

Incidentally, a reminder that US refined product prices are much more closely linked to the Brent price than the WTI price.

This morning (1/17/13), the gap between Brent and WTI is about $16, which is quite close to the $15 gap between the Brent crack spread ($9) and the WTI crack spread ($24).

In other words, Mid-continent refiners* are paying WTI based prices for crude, but largely charging Brent based prices for refined product, and pocketing the difference.

*And now some Gulf Coast refiners

wt - Yep. It might be too much of an insider interest for most folks to appreciate. As you imply it might not make much of a difference to the consumers on an immediate retail level. But might impact them in the future as far as oil/NG supplies go. At least imported oil and not domestic production. So many what ifs but I'll guess a net gain for them...maybe. Higher prices to Eagle Ford/Bakken/Canadians may mean more/faster development of those resources. So more crude in the market place. OTOH much of the driving force behind development of conventional deep La./SE Texas NG was the price we were getting for the condensate yield of those wells...the higher LLS price. But now we're losing the LLS premium just as NG started to recover some.

And then we just signed on to a joint venture in the SE US that is probably the hottest conventional oil plays in the country that J6P and the MSM don't even know exists. But the high price on that oil was tied to LLS so now we have to downgrade those economics. But that might not slow development up much...very sweet play.

Then there's the bigger question: how much will the fluxing crude market affect Deep Water GOM. Long term projects so short term price changes aren't very effective. But the influx of more Canadian oil for maybe several decades could alter some future development plans.

And another bigger question: will a nationwide decrease in oil costs make it more difficult for the alts to inject themselves further into the market place. Some have already pointed out that cheaper NG prices are holding them back. Cheaper oil prices thanks to our Canadian cousins won't help alt development. Those EV's aren't exactly flying off the lots now. Drop gasoline another 20% won't help their sales

Bottom line: the crude price swings may save some companies on the edge and push other to extinction. But consumers may be more convinced than ever that US has no energy problem because they won't see one today and are intellectually unable to see much beyond a 4 or 5 year time frame.

20% drop in gasoline prices?!! I know you aren't predicting anything, but if it happens expect to hear major chest beating from the cornucopians. By the way, if the oil is delivered via pipeline to the coast, is it still considered WTI? After all, it isn't delivered to Cushing, is it? Maybe it will be the new LLS.

I expect the gap between world prices and WTI to close mostly by an increase in WTI and very little in a fall in world oil prices.

kingfish - Sounds like a lot and that's not a hard prediction. Given all the other factors effect prices it might go up for other reasons. OTOH gasoline is going for about $3.00/gallon in Houston so a 20% drop would bring it down to $2.40/gallon. Been a while but it was that low down here not too long ago. But a 10% drop to $2.70/gallon would surprise me.

I recall reading two years ago about how much storage they were building in Cushing to hold the oil that couldn't be shipped. I wonder if the new pipeline will provide enough capacity to drain that storage as well as ship the continual inflow from the north? If so, there could be quite a glut coming down the road. Question: can the Gulf refineries handle the new flow? If not, where will it go?

Kingfish - If I recall another poster's comment and if they were correct the Gulf Coast refineries have the capacity to handle 9 million bopd. Additionally they are well equiped to handle the heavier crude.

Got to thinking about future gasoline prices. Actually I can imagine such a big drop in prices...maybe even higher. All it would take is two developments occuring at the same time: a lot more crude coming into the US market as various bottlenecks are eliminated and the US slipping back into a recession or close to it. The first condition is certain and the second is possible. More crude and more demand destruction could do it IMHO.

Additional crude oil arriving at the Gulf Coast won't affect gasoline prices much. If US gasoline prices start to fall, the refineries will just put it on tankers and sell it to Europe and Asia at their higher prices. This creates one global gasoline market.

Crude oil prices may fall at the coast if demand falls, but if it falls too far, the companies will put the surplus crude on tankers and send it to Asia, too. (I'm not sure the European refineries can handle it).

This is the difference between seaborn oil and landlocked oil. They can trade at different prices.

In Iraq, suddenly reality sets in: Lukoil Pares Iraq Oil-Output Target; Others Talk on Similar Cuts"

The ministry is in discussions with Exxon, Shell and Eni about reducing targets at the West Qurna-1, Majnoon and Zubair fields where each holds respective rights, Al-Ameedi said. “We are in talks to decrease output, but until now we didn’t reach an agreement on final numbers,” he said...

Iraq initially set a long-term goal of pumping 12 million barrels a day. Political tensions and violence have slowed its recovery, and the government has since decreased its overall target to levels ranging from 6 million to 10 million barrels a day.

And eventually they may actually produce 4 million barrels per day, perhaps a bit more but not much more. Iraqi production, in December, was down almost two hundred thousand barrels per day. They are having problems with the Kurds. And things may get violent soon with other rebels in Iraq. But even without the violence it is doubtful that they could ever reach 5 mb/d.

Ron P.

A Mysterious Patch Of Light Shows Up In The North Dakota Dark


Dietary Shifts Driving Up Phosphorus Use

Dietary changes since the early 1960s have fueled a sharp increase in the amount of mined phosphorus used to produce the food consumed by the average person over the course of a year, according to a new study led by researchers at McGill University.

Between 1961 and 2007, rising meat consumption and total calorie intake underpinned a 38% increase in the world's per capita "phosphorus footprint," the researchers conclude in a paper published online in Environmental Research Letters.

More information: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/4/044043

Photovoltaics Beat Biofuels at Converting Sun's Energy to Miles Driven

The question, says UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science & Management Professor and LCA expert Roland Geyer, is which makes more sense, growing fuel crops to supply alternative-fuel vehicles with ethanol and other biofuels or using photovoltaics (PV) to directly power battery electric vehicles (BEV)?

"The energy source for biofuels is the sun, through photosynthesis," he says. "The energy source for solar power is also the sun. Which is better?"

... The results, which appear in a paper titled "Spatially Explicit Life Cycle Assessment of Sun-to-Wheels Transportation Pathways in the U.S." and published in the Dec. 26 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology, showed photovoltaics (PV) to be much more efficient than biomass at turning sunlight into energy to fuel a car.

"PV is orders of magnitude more efficient than biofuels pathways in terms of land use – 30, 50, even 200 times more efficient – depending on the specific crop and local conditions," says Geyer. "You get the same amount of energy using much less land, and PV doesn't require farm land."

"Even the most efficient biomass-based pathway…requires 29 times more land than the PV-based alternative in the same locations," ... "The bottleneck for biofuels is photosynthesis," Geyer says. "It's at best 1-percent efficient at converting sunlight to crop, while today's thin-film PV is at least 10-percent efficient at converting sunlight to electricity.

"What it says to me is that by continuing to throw money into biofuels, we're barking up the wrong tree," ...

PV and EV make a great combination. With the area of a typical roof, you can easily collect enough electricity to handle a typical commute. If the house is efficient enough and you put up a lot of panels, it can handle both a commute and the house's non-heat electrical needs.

Yes, I know, you are often not charging directly since your car is probably not at home during the day. But utilities have plenty of excess power at night that they'll gladly trade for that precious peak daytime power your PV system generates.

A New World Record for Solar Cell Efficiency

In a remarkable feat, scientists at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, have developed thin film solar cells on flexible polymer foils with a new record efficiency of 20.4 percent for converting sunlight into electricity. The cells are based on CIGS semiconducting material known for its potential to provide cost-effective solar electricity.

Report: Solar Could Meet All The World’s Electricity Needs In 2050 Using Under One Percent Of World’s Land

Highlighting the fact that a global switch to renewable energy is not just necessary, but doable, a new report released by the WWF concludes that the solar arrays necessary to meet all the world’s projected energy needs in 2050 would cover under one percent of global land area.

New Research to Support the Huge Potential of Tidal Power

In order to develop effective tidal current technology, a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A describes the status of leading research and projects in the field to rapidly advance tidal energy technology.

Perhaps even bigger news than 20.4% efficiency for CIGS PV cells is that thin-film organic PV cells set a new record at 12% efficiency. I dream for years of the day that every suitable large roof is covered in cheap thin-film roll to roll produced PV. That day is rapidly approaching.

Not holding my breath waiting for organic PV. Even if efficiency is solved, how long do they last exposed to sunlight? I could imagine some specialty applications, which are expected to be throw away after a year or two, but bulk power production, its hard to beat silicon, which soon soon reach $.50 per watt. Its no longer about the price of producing PV cells, its the cost of everything else that constitutes a system that matters most.

If it hits $0.50/watt I'm covering every south-facing square-foot on my roof.

I'd cover my east and west roofs as well! :D

I'm waiting on @4200 watts of these; should ship today. I originally ordered some amorphous panels, but logistics (and higher installation costs) prompted me to change my order. Grade A poly-chrystallines for $.65/watt. Theve gone up 10 cents/watt since I locked in my order. If you order a whole pallet you can get some really good prices these days. IMO, prices may have bottomed for a while (tariffs and all that).

For small systems I agree, but for e.g. industrial roofs the price of the PV panels+support structure+installation is still a significant portion of the TCO. Peal&stick thinfilm does not require a support structure and much less man-hours for installation.

Heh, shame on me, I just only now read the original article. I assumed it talked about classic CIGS cells using silicon wafers, but actually this record uses CIGS on thin-film! This could combine the many benefits of thin-film with the longevity of non-organic active layers.
It even looks good! :D

Is anyone aware of currently available 'peel & stick' type PV? We have a section of standing seam roof we'd like to apply this technology to, and we're a little leery of Unisolar panels, which can be had, but the co. is out of biz. Thx.

Sun Electronics was dumping the Unisolars really cheap, but I don't see them on the site now. You may give them a call and ask if they're getting more. My take is that price killed them, not quality of product.

Thanks, Ghung. Actually, there are other reasons Unisolar isn't ideal for this need. We have only 4 SS sections @ 13 ft, and 7 @ 7ft. Unisolar doesn't have any we know of that would work on the 7 ft. sections, so I really should have been more clear that we're looking for some short length roll-ons. I can extend the peak a bit and get to 8,9 maybe 10 ft, but Unisolar seems to have 9' and 18' models. I'd rather not have to jerry-rig the peak if I can help it, just to make these panels work. Seems like somebody should be making shorter (or custom) lengths, but we haven't found 'em.


These seem to be already incorporated onto the metal roof, but they may be able to be retrofitted. I'm sure someone is filling Unisolar's niche.

Global Grain Stocks Drop Dangerously Low as 2012 Consumption Exceeded Production

The world produced 2,241 million tons of grain in 2012, down 75 million tons or 3 percent from the 2011 record harvest. The drop was largely because of droughts that devastated several major crops—namely corn in the United States (the world’s largest crop) and wheat in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Australia. Each of these countries also is an important exporter. Global grain consumption fell significantly for the first time since 1995, as high prices dampened use for ethanol production and livestock feed. Still, overall consumption did exceed production. With drought persisting in key producing regions, there is concern that farmers in 2013 will again be unable to produce the surpluses necessary to rebuild lowered global grain reserves.

... The total U.S. corn harvest came in at 274 million tons, down from 314 million tons the year before. The drop would have been far worse were it not for strong production in states less affected by dryness or with ample irrigation; in fact, Minnesota and North Dakota had record high output. The result was that some of the trains and barges that normally transport corn out of the Corn Belt reversed routes to bring corn in for meat and ethanol producers. U.S. corn stocks fell to 15 million tons, enough for just 21 days at current consumption levels. Such a low corn-stocks-to-use ratio—unseen before by farmers working the land today—presages further price volatility.

Drought-Hit Texas Sues New Mexico And Oklahoma Over River Water Access

Drought-driven water shortages have erupted into lawsuits between Texas and New Mexico officials, and Texas and Oklahoma officials over access to river water. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up the latter dispute.

Amid Drought, Water Wars Pick Up on Borders

It's been my contention since the early 2000's that the three major crises we face (financial, energy, climate change) will at some point combine and hit agricultural production hard. So when I moved to France food production was high on my agenda, in particular organic farming which I thought would have a better chance in our changing world.

It's been a Sisyphean task to say the least, due to the combined affect of the three crises... duh! So much so that last year I grew very little and none for sale, freeing up time for other projects. So as far as I can tell, the ultimate crisis that I originally envisaged is here now, which means its impact will also be increasingly felt by all.

So what happens next? In my case and I believe the same will happen globally, I start looking at production in a controlled environment. Which means more capital investment and more energy use to offset the effects of climate change. Things are obviously going to get much tougher.

Wit's End: The withering of all woods is drawing near

... "There is another, more subtle reason for our blindness. Each generation of reef scientists, SCUBA divers, and fishermen tend to accept the state of a reef when they first behold it as normal. As the years go by, they compare their current observations against the way things used to be, the way - in their mind - they should be. When the next generation arrives on the scene, the reef has declined farther. What one generation regarded as degraded, the next conceders normal.

Furthermore, specific studies assessing the health of a coral reef typically compare it against a baseline drawn from the start of the current study or, at best, the observations of a previous study completed a few years earlier. Each new study starts with a more recent baseline, one that has already shifted a little farther from pristine. This phenomenon is called the shifting baseline syndrome …"

... "The extent of the fisheries’ Ponzi scheme eluded government scientists for many years. They had long studied the health of fish populations, of course, but typically, laboratories would focus only on the species in their nation’s waters. And those studying a particular species in one country would communicate only with those studying that same species in another. Thus, they failed to notice an important pattern: Popular species were sequentially replacing each other in the catches that fisheries were reporting, and, when a species faded, scientific attention shifted to the replacement species. At any given moment, scientists might acknowledge that one-half or two-thirds of fisheries were being overfished, but, when the stock of a particular fish was used up, it was simply removed from the denominator of the fraction. For example, the Hudson River sturgeon wasn’t counted as an overfished stock once it disappeared from New York waters; it simply became an anecdote in the historical record. The baselines just kept shifting, allowing us to continue blithely damaging marine ecosystems."

"It was not until the 1990s that a series of high-profile scientific papers demonstrated that we needed to study, and mitigate, fish depletions at the global level. They showed that phenomena previously observed at local levels--for example, the disappearance of large species from fisheries’ catches and their replacement by smaller species--were also occurring globally. It was a realization akin to understanding that the financial meltdown was due not to the failure of a single bank, but, rather, to the failure of the entire banking system--and it drew a lot of controversy."

... "There is another, more subtle reason for our blindness. Each generation of reef scientists, SCUBA divers, and fishermen tend to accept the state of a reef when they first behold it as normal. As the years go by, they compare their current observations against the way things used to be, the way - in their mind - they should be. When the next generation arrives on the scene, the reef has declined farther. What one generation regarded as degraded, the next conceders normal.

I was only 12 years old in 1965 when I saw Jacques Cousteau's original Silent World movie it was the number one reason I became a SCUBA diver ten years later and wanted to study Marine Biology. Fast forward to 2013 living in South Florida where I still kayak dive on the local reefs. Compared to what I saw when I first started diving I can only say one thing, the reefs today are completely FUBAR!

From my perspective ocean acidification is the number one crime of humanity against the ecosphere! If it were up to me I'd place every man, woman and child from our pseudo civilization into solitary confinement for a month as punishment for that crime alone. Any questions?


The Silent World Revisited - Full movie

About a Dozen Environment Reporters Left at Top 5 U.S. Papers

"Science and environmental coverage has always gone through cycles based on interest and the issues of the day," ... "What is surprising to me is that we seem to be on the downward slope of one of these cycles, and yet the effects of climate change are becoming more and more visible every day."

... "Without properly trained science journalists to serve as honest brokers ... the public is increasingly ill-equipped to sift through the cacophony of anti-scientific propaganda that pervades the public discourse and to identify the emerging threats to our health and our environment," ...

That may have something to do with the fact that everytime the topic of AGW would come up on TV, both sides of the argument were aired, usually between the soft spoken well educated climatologist and the aggressive high school drop out, it resulted in both arguments cancelling each other out. Why they let non-climatologists argue non-data based beliefs is hard to understand. But that seems to be the mindset of MSM to always air both sides of the argument regardless of their level of expertise. Now it's no longer even discussed on TV. It dropped off the radar screen of concern based on the false idea there are equal sides to the argument.

Mr. Asimov put it most succinctly, I feel.

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”

That quote perfectly (and unfortunately) sizes up the situation.

Note that the flare lights end at the Canadian border. The Bakken Formation continues on into Saskatchewan, but Saskatchewan does not allow oil companies to flare all the associated gas. They have to collect it and put it into the NG pipeline system. This slows down the development of oil fields, but Saskatchewan feels that is a reasonable trade off.

The USA is pretty stupid not to have a similar law. We are all going to regret just flaring off that valuable gas just a few years down the road. Madness.

Oil and gas are regulated at the provincial level in Canada, and the provincial governments are the ones imposing the anti-flaring rules. A similar situation applies in the US, so if the state governments don't impose any flaring restrictions, the oil companies can flare at will. ND doesn't appear to have much for rules.

This is an obscure bit of history, but during the 1930s and early 1940s there were some epic legal battles in Canada over flaring between the Alberta government and the oil companies, with the federal government supporting the oil companies.

The main issue was the fact that the oil companies flared off the gas cap on the old Turner Valley oil field to produce the liquids, burning off about $20 billion worth of natural gas at today's prices and permanently stranding much of the oil

Fortunately, the Alberta politicians of the day were a bunch of populist bible thumpers who owed nothing to nobody except the voters and felt that wasting natural resources was morally wrong - so they kept passing more and more legislation until the oil companies and the feds finally gave up.

Fortunately, the Alberta politicians of the day were a bunch of populist bible thumpers who owed nothing to nobody except the voters and felt that wasting natural resources was morally wrong - so they kept passing more and more legislation until the oil companies and the feds finally gave up.

How ironic. The Bible-thumpers in the USA today would encourage the flaring to dig up and exploit god's gift of that oil ASAP since man has been given dominion over all the Earth to exploit as he sees fit.

Spec - As RMG explains it has nothing to do with stupidity or ignorance. The various state regulators probably know more precisely than anyone else how much revenue they’re losing to flaring. It’s strictly a matter of priority: a state can chose between producing more oil today or waiting for the increase to accompany the build out of the pipeline infrastructure. If NG were selling for $8/mcf those priorities might shift. And as RMG also explained in passing even if the NG is being sent down the pipeline companies can still reduce URR by producing wells too fast and/or drawing down NG caps. I’ve seen more than one company accept lower URR in exchange for higher immediate cash flow. Again, a matter of priorities and not ignorance. These reservoir engineering principles have been well known for decades.

Of course, I doubt this makes anyone feel better about the flaring situation knowing that it’s not just a simple matter of educating producers. They’ve all made their decisions based upon economic analysis. Wasteful yes but the correct decision from their individual perspectives...

I don't think it is stupid of the producers, I think it is stupid of humanity in general. The producers are just doing what makes them the most money quickly.

Actually, the land-owners should do better. But the fact that humans have short lifespans means that people want their money NOW instead of waiting a few years until there is better infrastructure and/or technology such that both the oil and gas is captured (and at much higher prices) later.

spec - And unfortunately you’re back on the same subject of self-interest. I've had landowners put clauses into leases either forbidding flaring or if flaring was done the operator had to pay the royalty on the NG whether the operator actually sold it or not. That's typically a strong motivation to pipe the NG out. And none of the ND landowners were required to lease their lands in the first place. The flaring is being done in the best interest of the state, the county, the operators and the landowners who have signed leases. And as you say their self-interest lies in the immediate since they won't be around in the future to deal with the results.

I do find it strange the feds aren't making noises. The EPA was on Texas about emissions from power plants in the state. That battle is still going on AFAIK. But I haven't heard one negative word from the White House bully pulpit on the ND flaring. Perhaps it's not in their self-interest either.

Will Australia become uninhabitable?

Interesting to see this article up top. For quite a few years now I've been thinking the same thing and have posted a few comments regarding Australia's future. Namely that its inhabitants will probably have to move, go underground or start building moon colony like habitats.

A few years ago to make such observations would be seen as extreme or off-the-wall. A couple of years later and they seem less so. But things move on and about a month ago I made a comment about Australia possibly becoming uninhabitable in 20 to 30 years from now. I wonder how that will look a few years out?

I think climate change is going to happen much faster than people realise and the effects are going to turn people's lives upside down. One effect, which seems to happening in Australia already (energy bills going through the roof due to the heat), is that people suddenly find that it becomes unaffordable to live where they are.

The upper limit of the human body is when it cannot maintain it's temperature (through sweating mainly) which means that there is an upper limit of the wet-bulb temperature that we can endure for longer time. This wet-bulb temperature limit is about 35 degrees, but there are currently no places on earth where it occurs. However, when the planet warms by about 5 to 7 degrees then there will be sizeable areas where a human would simply die in a few hours just sitting in the shade. Luckily we're not there yet.

See this article and underlying literature.

where a human would simply die

With all the genetic engineering, we'll just build "better" humans who can survive.

Or become subterranean dwellers who then live off of the beautiful people of the poles.