Drumbeat: February 6, 2013

Spreading an Energy Revolution

ONLY two or three years ago, consensus was building among pundits that we had reached peak oil, that the fossil fuel industry was in its dotage and that the world would suffer repeated energy price shocks in the transition to a post-fossil fuel economy. Many people in the oil industry were skeptical of this dire prognosis, and the extraordinary recent expansion of unconventional gas and oil production in North America proved the optimists to be correct.

What many fail to recognize, however, is that North America’s oil and gas renaissance, which has the potential to fuel a U.S. industrial recovery with cheaper energy, is not a happy accident of geology and lucky drilling. The dramatic rise in shale-gas extraction and the tight-oil revolution (mostly crude oil that is found in shale deposits) happened in the United States and Canada because open access, sound government policy, stable property rights and the incentive offered by market pricing unleashed the skills of good engineers.

Duke Reactor Shutdown Plan Shows Shale’s Sway Over Power

Duke Energy’s decision to dismantle a Florida nuclear power plant rather than undertake the costliest-ever U.S. atomic repair shows how rapidly cheap natural gas is remaking the U.S. power industry, hastening a shift from traditional fuels such as coal and uranium.

Tepco to Buy U.S. LNG From Mitsui, Mitsubishi to Cut Fuel Costs

Tokyo Electric Power Co., Japan’s biggest consumer of liquefied natural gas, plans to buy the fuel from the Cameron project in the U.S. through Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. to reduce its energy costs.

The company known as Tepco plans to buy at least 400,000 tons a year of LNG each from Mitsui and Mitsubishi at U.S. Henry Hub linked prices for 20 years from 2017, it said in a statement.

Banks No Match for Trucks Where Rigs Pay Twice as Much

Robert Boyd quit his job as a bank assistant branch manager to start truck-driving school in September. He graduated in December and landed work behind the wheel of a rig at twice the pay.

Boyd saw opportunities in driving school ads on television, articles in the paper and trucks filling the roads. He contacted recruiters and enrolled at the Western Area Career & Technology Center, about 25 miles southwest of his Pittsburgh home. Demand for its graduates has climbed amid a national driver shortage and a local shale-gas drilling boom that are both boosting competition for drivers.

WTI Crude Slips, Discount to Brent Widens

Oil fell in New York after the biggest gain in a week, widening its discount to Brent crude to the most this year. U.S. crude and gasoline stockpiles rose last week, an industry report showed.

West Texas Intermediate futures declined as much as 0.7 percent. WTI’s discount to London-traded Brent widened for a sixth day as limits on the Seaway pipeline cut flows to Gulf Coast refineries. U.S. crude supplies rose by 3.63 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute said. Energy Department data due today will probably show oil inventories rose to a seven-week high.

Cuts in Saudi Aramco's Mar crude OSP differentials for Asia within trader expectations

The steep cuts in Saudi Aramco's Official Selling Prices differentials for crude cargoes to be loaded in March and heading to Asia came within expectations, said traders Wednesday.

Aramco slashed price differentials for its Asia-bound grades by $1.30-2.10/barrel for March-loading barrels. The crudes are priced against the average of Platts Oman and Dubai monthly crude assessments.

"The [OSPs are] very good for everybody," a trader at a global oil company said.

Another trader at a trading house was surprised at the cuts. "[The cuts in Aramco's OSPs} were a huge surprise," he said.

Heat or food: Lithuanians feel Russia's cold shoulder as gas prices rise

VILNIUS, Lithuania — To save money during the harsh Baltic winter, Romanas Ziabkinas did something unremarkable: He turned off his central heating and installed a cheaper electric heater. Now he finds himself neck-deep in legal woes.

His utility company refused to recognize the switch and is suing him for some $10,000 in unpaid utility bills for his apartment in Lithuania's capital. "Splitting from the Soviet Union was easier than leaving this heating system," he says.

Ziabkinas plight is extreme, but his frustrations over heating costs are shared by a majority of Lithuanians, who have seen prices soar over the past several years, especially since the shuttering of its only nuclear power plant in 2009, forcing the country to import more Russian gas to keep warm.

Azerbaijan, Russia to sign gas agreement

In February Azerbaijan and Russia will sign an agreement on Azerbaijani gas supplies for 2013.

Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Vladimir Dorokhin made this statement at the meeting of the Caspian-European Integration Business Club (CEIBC) on Wednesday.

Ukraine wants talks on 'unfair' $7 bn Gazprom bill: president

(VILNIUS) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Wednesday called a $7 billion bill from Russian gas giant Gazprom unfair, saying he was prepared to negotiate with Moscow.

"We told Gazprom that we think this bill is unfair, and we are ready to further analyse this issue in negotiations with Russia," Yanukovych told journalists through a translator during a visit to Lithuania.

Rising gas prices are hitting Americans in the wallet

With pump prices at their highest level on record for this time of year, the stage is set for a even greater climb in gasoline prices and expenditures than in 2012.

Retail gasoline prices have surged 17 cents in a week to top $3.50 a gallon on average, posting the highest prices on record for the beginning of February.

Why gas prices are rising

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - It's happening again.

It's not even close to the summer driving season -- in fact, it's not even springtime -- but as surely as February gives way to March, gas prices have begun their annual ascent.

Brazil Swap Rates Rise After Mantega Oil Comment; Real Declines

Brazil’s swap rates climbed as the government’s concern over the state oil company’s earnings decline spurred speculation fuel prices will rise and the central bank will increase borrowing costs to curb inflation.

Oil activity off Brazil down on Petrobras woes-supplier

OSLO (Reuters) - Brazil's Petrobras has been awarding fewer contracts than expected as it seeks to retain cash for future investments and to limit rising debt, one of its suppliers, Fred. Olsen Energy, said.

The Norwegian offshore rig company posted a fourth-quarter operating profit below expectations on Wednesday as its costs increased due to higher repair and maintenance needed on its fleet of drilling rigs.

Japanese prime minister accuses Chinese navy ship of "dangerous" act

Tokyo (CNN) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday described as "dangerous" and "regrettable" the actions of a Chinese navy ship that Tokyo says put a radar-lock on a Japanese vessel last week.

His comments come amid severely strained relations between the two Asian powers over a set of disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Argentina: we will prosecute Falkland energy firms

LONDON (Reuters) - Argentina will continue legal action against energy firms working off the disputed, British-controlled Falkland Islands, Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said on Wednesday.

"We will continue to seek legal action against (these) hydrocarbon companies ... they are stealing the natural resources of Argentina," he told reporters at a news conference in London.

Iran says 2011-2012 oil income rose to record $110 billion

ehran (Platts) - Iran earned $110 billion from oil exports in the 2011-2012 Iranian year, which the National Iranian Oil Company said was a record for the OPEC state, students' news agency ISNA reported Wednesday.

New U.S. Sanctions Hamper India-Iran Oil Trade

The U.S. sanctions noose is set tighten on Iran from Wednesday, making it even tougher to get paid for crude it sells to large buyers, such as India.

The U.S. has been using the threat of financial sanctions to force countries to stop buying Iranian crude oil. Washington hopes that by doing so it will starve Tehran of cash and force it to give up its nuclear program. The U.S. believes the program is to develop nuclear weapons; Iran says it’s for peaceful purposes.

Syria’s Fate Hinges on Whom It Hates Most, U.S. or Iran?

As Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad clings mercilessly to power, hopes that his regime will be replaced by a stable, tolerant democracy are being dwarfed by fears of prolonged sectarian strife and Islamist radicalism. The outcome will hinge in part on a simple question: Whom do Syria’s diverse rebels hate more, the U.S. or Iran?

China at risk with Venezuela oil bet

Referring to the evolving political crisis in Venezuela, a Shanghai Academy of Social Science scholar, Zhang Jiazhe, recently remarked, if Hugo Chavez dies, "the diplomatic effect on China won't be large because China-US competition is in Asia not Latin America. Economically, China-Venezuela relations are based on oil and weapons sales".

Back in 2006, Beijing University Professor Ha Daojiong, however, sounded a more skeptical note when he wrote, "The search for overseas oil supplies has led Beijing to pursue close diplomatic ties with Iran, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela - all countries that pursue questionable domestic policies and... foreign policies".

Super Bowl Blackout Wasn’t Caused by Cyberattack

The blackout doesn’t fit the profile of an attack from a terrorist or nation-state, which probably would have been designed to cause widespread panic by shutting off all the lights, James Arlen, a utility security consultant at Leviathan Security Group, said in a telephone interview. If it was a cyber prank or activist hacker, they would “probably want to do something far more interesting like flicking the lights on and off,” Arlen said.

“There is a far greater chance that it was something like a rat fell and touched two conductors simultaneously and that was just enough to cause a blip in the power field,” he said.

Suncor Posts First Quarterly Loss in 3 1/2 Years on Voyageur

Suncor Energy Inc., Canada’s largest energy company by market value, reported its first quarterly loss in 3 1/2 years after a charge of C$1.49 billion ($1.49 billion) related to its Voyageur oil project in the province of Alberta, which may face cancellation.

Total in Talks to Sell Gas Network for $3.26 Billion

Total SA entered exclusive talks to sell the TIGF natural gas network in southwestern France to Snam SpA, Electricite de France SA and the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. for 2.4 billion euros ($3.26 billion).

BP Fourth-Quarter Earnings Decline as Oil Production Drops

BP Plc said fourth-quarter profit declined as oil and natural gas production slipped at Europe’s second-biggest energy company.

Net income fell to $1.6 billion from $7.7 billion a year earlier, the London-based producer said today in a statement. Adjusted for one-time items and changes in inventory, earnings were $4 billion. That beat the $3.7 billion average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Output excluding Russia fell 7 percent to 2.3 million barrels a day from a year earlier.

BP Headed for Trial as Gulf States Claim $34 Billion for Spill

BP Plc may not reach a settlement over civil claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill before a trial this month, analysts said, as U.S. states demand an additional $34 billion in damages.

Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida are suing for economic and property damage under the Oil Pollution Act as a result of the spill, the worst in U.S. history, BP said in an earnings statement yesterday. While Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley declined to comment on the state of negotiations with the federal government for civil fines, he said there wasn’t much time left before the start of the trial on Feb. 25.

Norway’s Premier Rejects Oil Minister Call for Lofoten Drilling

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg rejected a call by the nation’s oil minister to start drilling in restricted areas off the environmentally sensitive Lofoten islands this year.

Alberta may offer more to smooth way for Keystone: envoy

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Alberta could offer up new environmental initiatives for oil sands development to show the Obama administration that approving a $5.3 billion pipeline to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries will not increase pollution, the Canadian province's new envoy in Washington said on Monday.

Alberta, anxious to tap new markets in the United States for its growing volumes of oil, has already boosted monitoring of the impacts of tar sands projects on northern waterways. It also has established a land-use plan for the region to protect some areas, said David Manning, appointed by Premier Alison Redford last week as the province's envoy in Washington.

Debunking Nature’s arguments for Keystone

There was a bit of buzz last week when the august scientific journal Nature endorsed the Keystone XL pipeline (ironically, in the course of pleading with Obama to do something about climate change). Despite the hubbub, it was not the first time the journal had done so. Back in September 2011, it boosted Keystone … in the context of pleading with Obama do to something about climate change. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Neither editorial makes a fully fleshed-out case for Keystone, but together they advance three common arguments, all of which I find unconvincing.

Jeff Rubin - Fracking for Yellowcake: The Next Frontier?

It works for oil and natural gas, so why not frack for uranium too? After all, America relies on foreign uranium just like it depends on foreign oil.

In the U.S. these days, it seems like you can sell almost anything if you spin it as part of the pursuit of energy independence. Enter Uranium Energy Corp. A junior mining company with Canadian roots, UEC is developing the newest uranium mine in the U.S. And it’s counting on fracking to do it.

China to roll out cleaner fuel standards- government

(Reuters) - China will introduce national V standards for automotive diesel fuel by June and similar specifications for gasoline by end-2013, the government said on Wednesday, as it moves to clear up the smoggy air of many Chinese cities.

Ahead of these moves, Beijing will soon launch national IV fuel standards for automotive diesel, similar to Europe's IV quality with a sulphur content of 50 parts per million (ppm), according to a central government post on www.gov.cn, confirming an earlier Reuters report.

How far can you go in a Tesla?

FORTUNE -- The car is fast and smooth: zero to 60 mph in four seconds with none of the rumble of internal combustion. It demands to be driven at high speed, on hilly, winding roads. We tried to oblige. This was a problem.

The plan -- to drive the all-electric Tesla Model S from Los Angeles to San Francisco -- was simple. Could we (my father and I) travel in an electric automobile that went so far, so fast, without compromise? Could we take a great California road trip over scenic routes so abundant in the Golden State? The answer came 15 hours after we set out, rolling into a mall parking lot in Central California at 11 p.m.  The battery was fully drained; the dashboard read charge immediately. After some cursing and desperate scanning we found salvation: a charging station. It would be an hour before we had enough juice to travel the last 20 miles to our hotel. We waited in silence, staring into the glowing screens of our smartphones.

America is wasting billions sitting in soul-crushing traffic

While you're cursing the traffic you're idling in on your way to work, not only time is being wasted, a new study released Tuesday shows.

An annual study of national driving patterns reveals that Americans spent 5.5 billion additional hours sitting in traffic in 2011.

Traffic jams on the way to or from work ate, on average, 38 hours of commuters' lives that year, up from 34 hours the year before, the study found. That's nearly four hours longer than the average workweek.

Landscaping in 2013 and beyond: Why it will never be quite the same

What if I told you Climate Change was only one half of the problem we face today? What’s the other half, you say? Kim Kardashian? Maybe. But how about Peak Oil? It hasn’t been on the radar of the general public since bell bottoms were raging and pandemics of “disco fever” were breaking out all over. Unfortunately for us, Peak Oil hasn’t gone into the dusty vintage bins of the local thrift store.

Peak Oil is recognition that the world’s supply of oil is limited and that we have reached the zenith of production. In other words, it’s halfway gone. Or if you’re an optimist, there’s still half left!

United States Department of Energy Geothermal Annual Report [PDF]

The Department of Energy’s Geothermal Annual Report includes information about: play fairway mapping, geothermal demonstration projects, induced seismic events, the National Geothermal Data System and outreach to educational institutions.

In revamped cafeterias, USDA gets a taste of its own medicine

The new USDA cafeterias will automatically serve diners 100 percent whole-wheat breads and pastas unless customers specifically ask for white-bread slices or some other option. One station in the main cafeteria in the South Building will prepare food that conforms to the low-sodium, low-fat, low-cholesterol and low-calorie requirements of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; the station will also display a daily MyPlate example to model the basics of a proper meal — not that anyone will be required to follow it.

There will even be a full-time dietitian on-site to answer employee questions, which Choi believes is key in the transition to a fryer-less world. After all, USDA workers can easily sidestep the whole healthful-eating program; they could, for example, take a short trip down Independence Avenue to the Energy Department cafeteria, where the deep fryers are still bubbling.

America Is Doomed Unless Women Start Having More Babies. How Convenient.

What really galls me about Last's piece (and most like it) is the underlying assumption that human beings exist to serve society and not the other way around. Oh, sure, Last mentions a few conservative-friendly policy ideas to help people afford kids — such as reducing the number of kids who go to college, attacking Social Security, and pushing people to move to the suburbs — but if reducing day care costs doesn't do it, there's no reason to think these tweaks will either. The reader is left with the feeling that the only solution to save capitalism is to clip the wings of half of the population so they can spend more time laying eggs.

I'd argue instead that if the system is set up so that it fails if women don't start popping out more kids, then it's a broken system and should be reworked to account for the reality of America today. If women don't want to have more children, then instead of abandoning women's equality as a goal, we should rework our economic system so it doesn't rely on a steadily growing population to function. After all, the point of society is to serve the people in it, not to reduce us to cogs in a machine that serves no one at all.

Fireworks might be banned on polluted days

Fireworks may be banned on seriously polluted days in Beijing, a move experts said is designed to reduce smog during the Lunar New Year holiday.

The Beijing city government is considering including the ban in its emergency plan for serious air pollution, Kang Jiyong, secretary-general of the Beijing Fireworks Association, told Beijing News.

After Superstorm Sandy, seniors forced to start over

Campbell’s lifestyle is one of the many casualties of Superstorm Sandy, which sent floodwaters surging through homes when it hit Oct. 29, damaging more than 2,000 homes and starting a fire that burned more than 100 houses to the ground. The beachfront village, whose population plummeted from 12,000 in the summer to around 4,000 the rest of the year, provided a way of life not often seen in the sprawling suburbs of most cities. Generations of the same family jealously guarded their modest homes, and they took care of their own.

Like so many other elderly residents there, Campbell could “age in place”, living alone after her husband died in 2009, despite a heart condition and the onset of what might be dementia. It’s a concept that many communities have embraced, and that groups like the AARP and the National Council of State Legislatures are encouraging. When people age in place, they stay in their homes, perhaps adapting them for more limited mobility, rather than moving to elder care facilities. And it’s a way of life that seems to have just evolved naturally in Breezy Point.

Greenhouse gas emissions from US power plants down 4.6 pct

(Reuters) - Greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants fell 4.6 percent in 2011 as more generators were switched to cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable sources from coal, according to new data from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The agency's second inventory of greenhouse gas emissions reported by the country's largest industrial polluters showed that power plants - which account for one-third of U.S. emissions - released 2.22 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2011.

Anger as Poland is selected to host next UN climate change summit

Poland will be announced as the host of the next UN climate change summit later today, RTCC understands.

Warsaw will be confirmed at the ongoing talks in Doha and is likely to prove to be an unpopular choice.

Poland positions itself as energy efficiency champion

Few environmentalists would see Poland as an energy efficiency champion, but noises from Warsaw point towards an unlikely repositioning by the fiercest opponent of the EU's decarbonisation strategy.

Outgoing EPA chief convinced Obama serious on climate change

(Reuters) - The departing chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa P. Jackson, says she cringes whenever she is asked if President Barack Obama is truly serious about confronting climate change.

Of course he is, she tells them. "I don't think you need clues. The president has been really clear ... I'm not sure how much clearer he could be."

Climate study sees possibly dire future for agriculture

WASHINGTON — Climate change could have a drastic and harmful effect on U.S. agriculture, forcing farmers and ranchers to alter where they grow crops and costing them millions of additional dollars needed to tackle weeds, pests and diseases that threaten their operations, a sweeping government report said Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture analysis said that while crops and livestock have been able to adapt to changes in their surroundings for close to 150 years, the accelerating pace and intensity of global warming during the next few decades may soon be too much for the sector to overcome.

Warm Weather Forces Changes Ahead of Iditarod Race

During last year’s snow season, defined as July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, Anchorage had 134.5 inches of snow, according to Jake Crouch, a climate scientist with the National Climatic Data Center. This season’s tally in Anchorage was 39.2 inches, through Wednesday. North of Fairbanks, another area where mushers train, snowpack is 21 percent of average.

“This is a pretty big deal,” said Crouch, who is among the climate experts who attribute the conditions to global warming. He said climate change had resulted in warmer temperatures for Alaska over the last century.

“One of the things we’re seeing with climate change is that the high latitudes are experiencing the brunt of it,” he said. “They’re very vulnerable.”

Increase in Deadly Rains Linked to Climate Change

Don’t let the drought in the U.S. fool you, intense rainfall around the world has been causing deadly floods in the past few years. Several have died in the current flooding in Queensland, Australia. In July 2012, the heaviest rain in decades left 37 dead in Beijing, China. More than 400 Pakistanis died in floods in September 2012. The now shriveled Mississippi River was a raging flood in 2011, killing 24 Americans in associated flash floods.

Recent extreme rains may have been intensified by the rising global average temperature, according to a recent study, which examined data from more than 8,000 weather stations around the planet. The study looked for correlations between atmospheric temperature and extreme rainfall between 1900 to 2009.

Ed Mikula sent me this link yesterday. The article is in French but you can hit the "translate" button above the article and the computer will translate it into pretty good broken English. ;-)

Exxon, Shell, BP, Total: oil kings, are they naked?

Four major international oil companies are facing a decline in their global production of crude oil, despite unprecedented profits. Can they reverse the trend?...

In 2011, ExxonMobil oil extraction reached 2.312 million barrels per day (Mb / d), down 4.5% compared to 2010 and 11.6% compared to 2007, according to the data available in the latest annual report of the group.

Yet the number of drilling undertaken by ExxonMobil in the world has increased dramatically, from 971 new wells in 2007 to 1,249 in 2010 and 1,606 in 2011, an increase of 65% over four years. Same trend with regard to the net costs of annual production: Exxon rose from $ 78.6 billion in 2007 to 152,500,000,000 in 2010 and 166.7 billion in 2011 (112% in four years!) .

Where have we heard this story before, frantic drilling of new wells but production keeps dropping?

The fall in production of Exxon turns into collapse if one considers only the production of conventional crude - oil conventional liquid, which is nearly two-thirds of the giant offer: 1,338 mb / d reached in 2011, after 1.496 Mb / in 2010 (-10.5%) and 1.875 Mb / d in 2007 (- 27.5%!)

And near the same result for the other majors. The author has this to say about Shell…

(Shell does unfortunately not provide separate data for crude oil on the one hand and liquid natural gas on the other hand, although the functions of these two products are far from interchangeable, especially for the manufacture of fuel ).

Tell me about it. I have been complaining about this practice for years to no avail. Anyway all four of these majors have seen dramatic declines in oil production during the last few years. The French company, Total…:

Total crude oil production has declined by 8.5% between 2010 and 2011, and 18.8% between 2007 and 2011 ,

The above article was published on January the 8th with production data thru 2011. However the author now has quarterly reports of production thru 2012, except for the French company Total, and published this on his blog just yesterday.

Oil: the decline of "majors" is confirmed in 2012

Four major international oil companies have again experienced significant declines in their production of crude oil in 2012, according to quarterly reports in recent days. These declines seem all the more significant that they occurred despite record investments made by Exxon, Chevron, BP and Shell. (We wait with interest the publication next week of the results of the French group Total.)

The balance of 2012 should give a clear indication of the merits of the threat of peak oil .

It starts badly for Big Oil .

Okay, that's all I am going to quote from this article. You can read the rest by clicking on the link. But the point is peak oil is very much alive and still a major threat. The fracking of shale in the US and the rise of NGLs in other areas have only masked the problem… temporarily.

I have added this blog to my list of Peak Oil blogs to check regularly and I thank Ed Mikula for posting the link.

Ron P.

So now the oil production from the major international oil companies is in confirmed decline. What about the national oil companies? Would there be a fundamental reason why these would not follow the same pattern?

The IOCs are dependent upon being granted access to production licences and agreements with the national authorities of the countries where they operate. Inevitably the authorities are less inclined to 'give away' prize assets to IOCs once the auhtorities begin to understand the real asset values and how they, 'the country', may maximise the revenue take of the of the asset by the country. The example of Iraq offering IOCs 2 dollars a barrel on production on existing fields, in return for the IOC expertise and management, is an example of authorities squeezing the margins that the IOCs used to enjoy. Early profit sharing contracts negotiated by the IOCs may have been anything up to 50% or more, of the oil produced; the Iraq scenario represents 2% on 100 dollar a barrel in simple terms (real scenarios should factor in the offsetting of exploration and development costs etc).

The National oil Companies (NOCs) are also naturally inclined to keep the best assets for themselves - once they have established the capacity to develop oil & gas fields. The result is that IOCs continually struggle to replace the earlier lucrative production assets, everywhere they operate; and that struggle is against the finite limits of the resource base, and the constraints imposed on them by the national authorities.

In answer to your question, the NOCs will certainly have to battle against the same finite resource bases as the IOCs - however, NOCs set the rules, so they don't necessarily have to fight the same business and political battles, so they are at an advantage there.

However, a challenge for any industry observer is finding out just what NOCs actually do produce, from where, how etc etc. Many NOCs keep the info close to their chests. That knowledge is power - basically translated as political and financial, and the tendency is to try and keep as much of it in the clutches of a select few.

Inevitably the authorities are less inclined to 'give away' prize assets to IOCs once the auhtorities begin to understand the real asset values and how they, 'the country', may maximise the revenue take of the of the asset by the country.

OT, that statement requires further explanation because I think it is valid only in a very small number of cases. In virtually all of the smaller countries, the national oil companies are totally dependent on on the IOCs for everything. Socar of Azerbaijan is an example. Socar has been pounding on BP to get production up. Production in Azerbaijan has been declining because of the natural decline of its very old fields. But Socar blames it all on BP. Socar is an oil company in name only. The entire shooting match is run by British Petroleum.

A similar case is Kazakhstan except they have several companies, not just one like Azerbaijan, that they are browbeating in an attempt to get them to increase oil production. And I could name several more including OPEC nations like Nigeria. Only the very large national producers, like Saudi Arabia, have their own oil company that actually produces their own oil. Saudi uses a lot of foreign contractors but all their oil is officially produced by Aramco.

Kuwait, the UAE and Iran have their own oil company that produces oil. So does Iraq but they are a special case as you know. I haven't run down the cases other OPEC nations but I think most of them depend almost entirely on IOCs for all their oil production. Though all of them have their own national oil company, like Azerbaijan, that overseas all operations and pounds on the IOCs to try to get production up.

Russia is a strange case. They have their own national oil company, Rosneft, but it is partially owned by by the public. You can buy shares in Rosneft, the official Russian oil company. But most of the oil in Russia is produced by public companies, some of them IOCs. For a list of them and their daily production numbers, in tons per day, go here: CDU TEK

China of course has its own oil company, CNPC, that produces all the oil in China. But they also have become an IOC with contracts to produce oil around the world.

Ron P.

Ron and OT - for those of us who haven't done the digging, what sort of contractual relationships do the IOCs and the countries mentioned have? I think OT's comments on Iraq are consistent with what I've read - that its pretty heavily weighted towards Iraq and makes the business for the IOCs highly problematic. Which in turn makes it no big surprise the IOCs (and wildcats too, I believe) lean towards wanting to deal with the Kurds instead.

Do these various other nations have similar arrangements, or are they more favorable towards the IOCs?

TemplarMyst, the Iraqi situation is unique in that the contract details were made public because they were subject open bidding. I know of no other such situation. But I very much doubt that any other agreement between national oil companies and the IOCs even remotely resemble those in Iraq. Rockman would be the one to answer how most contracts are negotiated. But I would imagine they would have some kind of cost plus agreement. That is, I would guess that the IOCs get a percentage of the profits after the costs of the project is subtracted out.

Ron P.

Thanks Ron, it is appreciated. One additional, tiny step towards my personal reduction in ignorance campaign. I guess it kind of makes sense that these sorts of contracts would be pretty tightly held, just like a country's best guesses at its actual reserves, and the corresponding tendency to conflate its resources with its reserves.

Which would also lead me to believe it likely there is the same tendency towards obfuscation in the IOC investor materials. Perhaps the data is there but it's spread around, or perhaps it's not required in public filings. I'm terribly underinformed on this aspect, I fully admit. One might naively think contract size and potential would be relevant shareholder information, but I've never really looked at any of this stuff until recently. At this point its still a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

In Iraq the authorities in Baghdad and those in charge of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Kirkuk have had different approaches to contracts with IOCs. Baghdad did publish the winning tenders on the specific fields it opened up for foreign investment and development. But these were largely one-off arrangements (the "2 dollars a barrel" contracts that have been discussed elsewhere on the drum). As far as I know, it is still stalled on publishing or defining a generic oil field Production Sharing Contract (PSC).

Kurdistan, however, was quick to draft and publish its own contracts and terms for PSCs, under the guidance of its oil minister, Ashti Hawrami, a respected petroleum engineer, who worked for many years as the director of a leading UK consultancy service.

I don't know what recent contractual terms have been agreed but information of some of the earlier items were published:

"If commercial discoveries are made, these seven PSCs will provide an estimated aggregate return/profit of over 85% to Iraq and around 15% to the contractors. The commercial terms of these contracts conform to the term guidelines published by the KRG on its website on 29 June and provide similar returns to Iraq."


These trends are begging to be charted in a single graph. Profits, prices, rig and well counts vs. production. Would be useful, especially when dealing with the uninitiated and the drill-baby-drill crowd.

Ghung. Only had the time to show the evolution of Total & Exxon production (entitlement) + Total's investments.
Hope this helps, for starters

Ron, yes this article is from Matthieu Auzanneau blog, which is a bit the "PO center" in the French web sphere these days, with a few other sites.

Otherwise the piece of propaganda from BP "chief economist" is really quite amazing, especially when net exports are now already 5% down from 2005 2006 peak :

"consensus was building among pundits that we had reached peak oil," I wonder who those "pundits" are meant to be ...

I also wonder to what extend this is "true propaganda" ie not reflecting what they truly think will happen, or if they really believe this stuff.

By the way MA has a more recent post about the majors production numbers :

Thanks Yves (merci) :
#peakoil #Exxon oil output peaked in 2006, #Total peaked in 2004 despite ramp up of investments | see graphs here :

Yet the number of drilling undertaken by ExxonMobil in the world has increased dramatically, from 971 new wells in 2007 to 1,249 in 2010 and 1,606 in 2011, an increase of 65% over four years

XOM is a basin dominator. No new basins with giant and super giant fields it will either have to become much more nimble and decentralized or more likely it will pay out more and more of its profits in dividends as its fields decline--that is its current strategy. The NOC players have cut XOM basin dominating opportunities dramatically. Beat up fields draw in smaller firms to suck the straw harder--like Appache did in BP's North Sea home waters.

New oil is harder to find--most of the really big puddles have lots of straws in them already--and yes the great dinosaurs like XOM and BP may well be at a disadvantage in getting the littler puddles that are left. Maybe someone here has info on XOM dividend distribution--somehow I've a feeling they are creamed by very special classes of stock that only the top insiders have but that is just a guess going on how things usually work.

Wow. That's a pretty pessimistic outlook on their prospects. Aren't there some international plays they could get into such as in Africa or Asia? Deep-water GOM? Or perhaps the Arctic like Shell is trying to do?

XOM is partners with BP in a Canadian Beaufort Sea deepwater exploration play. In recent years they have shot 3D seismic up there. Haven't heard much since then, but I would assume they are evaluating seismic. To my knowledge they have not yet announced any drilling plans. Note that this play is in much deeper water (265 feet to 4,000 feet water depth)than Shell's efforts in the Alaskan Chukchi and Beaufort (~150 ft water depth), and hence would have both the general arctic risks as well as additional risks associated with deep water drilling.

See Imperial-Exxon, BP form JV for Canadian Beaufort exploration

XOM does roll some of its profits back onto the really high stakes gaming table, it has a big pile of chips and does want to dominate another big pot or two--but as Alaskageo pointed out the potential jackpots might or might not be coming from really high risk games. Those games seem to be the only ones left in the casino with a big enough possible pot to interest the really big none NOC players right now. Lately XOM has been laying heavy on dividend distribution.

Don't know if it has been up here before, but for us cryo-nerds, there is a new site tracking the daily changes to the Greenland Ice Sheet.


This is gonna be interesting to look at daily once we hit april or something.

Cool! Thanks for sharing. Bookmarked it. It is definitely going to be interesting to watch this spring and into summer.

Thanks. Great page. My initial reaction - "It's melting in Greenland in February!?!" It would seem the melt season is starting a full 3 months earlier than the historic norm. And the 20-couple percent average peak puts last year's 97% peak in stark perspective.

My reaction to. There are already a blip in the melt graph. 3 months ahead of schedule. I am worried.

It's not uncommon for a melt in Feb for the areas currently shown, but certainly seems to point towards a longer and harder melt season.

Although it's huge and contains vast amounts of ice, the underlying rocks of Greenland are very jagged which effectively locks the ice above it in place. There are a few glaciers that flow out from it, but generally the ice will have to melt in situ, with only a limited amount of creep. It will melt, and we've probably set in place enough warming to lose the lot, but it will take many hundreds of years to go - a blink of an eye in geological terms. Even if the methane clathrates let go, it will still take ages to melt in the extra heat. It's just not got the topopgraphy to collapse quickly.

Sadly, I've got a feeling that 2013 could be another record breaker in the Arctic for all the wrong reasons.

Re: Spreading the Energy Revolution

“The dramatic rise in shale-gas extraction and the tight-oil revolution (mostly crude oil that is found in shale deposits) happened in the United States and Canada because open access, sound government policy, stable property rights and the incentive offered by market pricing unleashed the skills of good engineers.”

For any who might be new to TOD…one more time. Nothing has changed in the last several decades in the current shale plays with respect to open access, government policy (except for some states allowing more flaring of NG produced with the oil) or property rights. Nor has the technology used changed significantly over the last 20+ years. But they do get one changing factor that has made a huge difference: “…the incentive offered by market pricing”. Had not prices increased we would be seeing little of the shale drilling activity going on today.

When taken in the context of BP Fourth-Quarter Earnings Decline as Oil Production Drops, and Ron's contribution, up top, this piece only serves to confirm what they say about opinions. I noticed the article wasn't open for comments, typical when an author is hoping their blather will be taken at face value. Perhaps the source article is.

It is a standard promotional piece of bluster. I would expect nothing less from an extremely well paid employee of BP (group chief economist of BP, in fact). The company message is twofold:
a) don't worry, oil is not running out, so keep hold of those BP shares. (Besides, If you start selling, my vested interests go down, as does my pension pot...)
b) Hey, you foreign policy makers; listen up. Open up your national assets to seasoned, industry IOCs like BP, and we will help you increase your production in all those tricky areas where bureaucracy, technology and a little bit of complex geology, have sadly failed to live up to your over-inflated initial aspirations.

BP using deception?

Say it ain't so.

BP when called on the photoshopped helicopter and control room said the photoshopping was done not to deceive, but to better inform.

And if they were involved with willing out reporting to the BLM in light pencil to be later filled in with ink by BLM staff - that was done to make the overworked and underpaid BLM staff's life easier.

" What is certain, however, is that our energy future is not wholly at the mercy of geology"

says the chief economist at BP.

I wonder what the chief geologist thinks?

Why do people assume that economists - and 'chief' economists at that - are experts in other disciplines when they rarely get their own discipline correct. All hail the economists! They are the wisest of all! Not.

He's right. It is also at the mercy of stupidity.

It makes you wonder why economists have never had performance related pay?

Small basic pay, then bonuses if you get it right. Oh, and if you really screw up (like 99% of them in 2007) you get kicked out for incompetence. Darwinian evolution in action might improve competence.

Also good to note that the author uses as evidence the fact that we haven't had a "series" of oil price shocks with high prices... Does it really matter though if the prices fluctuate wildly or just stay at a "permanent plateau" ? Maybe he hasn't noticed but the price hasn't really moved a whole lot - especially not getting dramatically cheaper (at least for a significant period of time) - ever since leveling off after THE big spike in 2008.

I'd say at $100 per barrel and somewhere north of $4/gallon gasoline there is more than enough "shock" to the system to put it on life support and all the oil produced from that "new" technology is just allowing us to tread water at those levels...

Oil price shocks are not limited to the U.S. measured in dollars. The price of crude oil in Euros was higher at some times last year than in 2008. How are Greece, Portugal and Spain doing now? An oil price shock does not necessarily damage the economies of every country equally. It can be one or a few dominoes falling at a time while the others continue through multiple oil price shocks. Somewhere, somehow the demand for crude oil gets nixed allowing others to consume what is left.

Which country will be the last one standing?

Expect the period between oil price shocks to be longer near the peak, shortest near the inflection point on the falling edge (perhaps as fast as 1 shock per year) and then lengthen again until the system converts to another fuel or collapses. According to EIA the price response from the oil companies has been able to increase world crude oil production, so we have apparently not passed the peak yet. The period is currently long enough that improvements in efficiency, eliminating unnecessary uses and rising unemployment have curtailed demand sufficiently. In the future it will be harder to improve efficiency and the less important uses will have already been eliminated. Peak oil will unfold too slowly for most people to comprehend.

You are ignoring the 'fat' in the various country systems, and the system collapse via a 'domino' effect.

Put those in and price shocks won't only be governed by the velocity or acceleration in the oil supply curve. After all, if the US were to collapse totally it would give others breathing space.

The meaning of "we" is absolute in one sense, yet "we" is parochial in another sense:

"For any who might be new to TOD … one more time. Nothing has changed in the last several decades in the current shale plays with respect to open access, government policy ..." - ROCKMAN

"Our greatest concern is that loss of Arctic sea ice creates a grave threat of passing two other tipping points -- the potential instability of the Greenland ice sheet and methane hydrates. These latter two tipping points would have consequences that are practically irreversible on time scales of relevance to humanity ...We are in a planetary emergency" ... Dr. James Hansen

Guess which "we" is BAU and parochial, and which "we" includes everyone.

If you get it right, you have also divided delusion from denial.

Here's the thing that always bothers me most about these articles:

What many fail to recognize, however, is that North America’s oil and gas renaissance, which has the potential to fuel a U.S. industrial recovery with cheaper energy, is not a happy accident of geology and lucky drilling.

Followed in the next paragraph by:

With the incentive of high oil prices and the application to oil of drilling techniques mastered for shale gas, we now estimate that tight oil will account for almost half of the 16 million barrel per day increase in the world’s oil output by 2030.

Are people actually blind to this obvious contradiction?

Oh I think the U.S. peeps have been lucky duckies for centuries, inheritors of a vast untapped wilderness with, yes, a lot of happy accidents of geology. But then, despite our geology and our brilliant engineers, we and everyone else will not be lucky duckies. Because we duckies have destroyed our heretofore vast pond.

@Hillson: "Are people actually blind to this obvious contradiction"

It's not quite as obvious a contradiction as you make it out. It is true that natural gas is quite cheap, even while oil prices are high. But you're right, he's picking and choosing when to emphasize the cheapness or expensiveness depending on the rhetorical point he wants to make.

During last year’s snow season, defined as July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, Anchorage had ...

I had to read this a few times to decide it wasn't a joke, but a statistical tool. The expression in Yellowknife was "8 months of winter, 4 months of tough sledding." But 365 days of official winter would be a little harsh.


Well, there is the Juneau Rain Festival from January 1st, to December 31st.

In Alaska we have four distinct seasons: There is Early-Winter, Mid-Winter, Late-Winter, and Next-Winter.

Someone once asked "What is your favorite thing to do in Summer in Alaska?" The answer was "Well, if it falls on a weekend we usually like to barbecue on the back deck!"

In Alaska we have four distinct seasons: There is Early-Winter, Mid-Winter, Late-Winter, and Next-Winter.

Of course the formal name for the season of Next-Winter is 'Construction,' the time when the conversation tends towards "Next-Winter I'm going sit on beach in Belize sipping beer every evening." ?-)

Climatological seasons for precip vary by region. The rollover date (i.e. the branch cut for this multi-valued function) is always a date during the middle of the "dry" season.

The "water year" in the Pacific Northwest is from October 1st through September 30th.

Same "water year" for Denver Water. In our case, it coincides with the beginning of snow pack accumulation up in the mountains.

Hydrologically, it might have made more sense to end at the end of August. You still get decent snowmelt in July and August? Or has climate change, changed things since I lived there?

Thats the same as the California rainy season. Little to no rain in June and July, that makes it easy to treat midsummer as the boundary between to years rainwise. The same logic should apply to the snow year. Doesn't mean it snows continually for 365 days.......

Actually, the Water Year is the same for the whole country and is heavily wighted toward the east coast where most of the stream gauges were when the USGS started using this term in 1913.

Here in NW California we typically start seeing rains start in September, or late August. August 1 to July 31 would be a better Water Year for California.

Note that our Rainfall Year begins July 1st. Once we got an inch or something the first week of July and were at some insanely high percent of normal for months.

Down where I live, the July average is something like .01inches, which means at least nine out of ten years you don't see a drop. People leave electric power tools in their backyards all summer long.

I’m always amazed when I see someone tossing in “fracking” into a story which has nothing to do with frac’ng at all”

“The technology is basically the same (as frac’ng). It involves injecting a mixture of highly pressurized water and sand into an underground formation in order to break open fissures in the rock that allow the energy riches within to be extracted. UEC is developing the newest uranium mine in the U.S. And it’s counting on fracking to do it.”

I’ve read the UEC reports and clearly nothing even close to frac’ng is going on. And for good reason: there’s no need. The uranium is being solution mined from very porous and permeable sand. The injected water flows through those sand reservoirs just fine without frac’ng. In fact, frac’ng would likely produce terrible results. And they are not injecting sand…just water. And they are not using frac trucks because they are nor injecting water in at “high pressures”. The reservoirs are less than 1,000’ deep and the state limits the injection of any fluid (for whatever reason) to be injected at pressures greater than several hundred psi at such shallow depth. The tech term is “fracture gradient” and the states limit it to specifically prevent fracturing of the shallow rocks. And lastly, the wells in which the water is injected (injected continuously as opposed to a one time frac job) aren’t produced. The U slurry is produced from wells offsetting the water injectors.

This is about as shoddy a deception of using the frac’ng hype as I’ve seen so far.

In other words,. the "fracking for U" would be more akin to conventional water flood (eg at Ghawar)... with water injection wells being the "input" and "oil prodcution wells" being replaced by "U slurry wells"?? Maybe not a perfect analogy, but closer than fracking is...

NFE - Not a bad analogy at all IMHO. The injected fluid is designed to dissolve the U and push it to the producing wells. Many water floods of oil fields also add various chemicals to help the injected water move the oil more easily to the producing wells. As I say below not only wouldn't you frac at these shallow depths but even the pressure you're pumping the water down is very low. Maybe just a few hundred HP compared to 500k to 1 million HP on a frac job


See page 290 on.


Anyone interested can can also look up roll front uranium deposit.


Disclosure; I took the class from Dr Bartlett while working on my Ph.D.

I see. "Frack" = Fracture = break the formation with pressure. But that can't be done because this is at shallow depths that could affect the water table.

Well, as usual, the reporters are probably just clueless and they are probably just using the language from the people using the technique. And the people using the technique are trying to leverage off the popular phrase 'fracking'. (Which may be negative in environmental circles but positive in investment circles.)

Unsure of what you may recall of Rubin, but it's inaccurate to call him a reporter. I was quite a fan of his when he first jumped ship from the Bank of Canada as chief Economist, espousing Peak Oil, but lately I'm awful disappointed with his musings.

@ doug, Rubin was laid off not from the Bank of Canada (the main instrument of Canada's national financial policy) but from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, a private sector bank that lost its shirt a couple of years ago due mainly to its ownership of large amounts of toxic assets during the '08 meltdown. They wrote off the losses (they weren't in any real danger of collapse, but seemed to be in a more tenuous predicament than the other major Canadian banks) and moved on after a notable wimpering, wound-licking period.

In his latest book he said he realized the writing was on the wall as chief economist of CIBC when he drew attention to the high prices of oil in '07 and '08 and expounded on the economic ramifications of peak oil to his CEO boss, who then gave him a withering stare. Ergo chief economist-becomes-author.

Rubin obviously needs a technical advisor in his blog on stuff like fracking vs. frac'ng vs. water flooding, and sometimes makes unfortunate price predictions (e.g. $225/bbl), but he understands the role thermodynamics plays in underpinning the world economy, and gets the ramifications when the levels change.

Thanks for the correction on Rubin's employer, my poor mistake.

I didn't mind his erroneous price prediction, he was in good company on that one. He made quite a point of the how the high price of oil would effect especially the steel industry, and China's wage arbitrage would vanish. His terminology, of schelping the ore, was powerful for one who was an old dry economist. In the same vein, he had a quieting appraisal of climate change, that a more localized world would weather the threat, that a toned down North America could lead by both example and greatly reduced imports in lowering the carbon emissions of China's coal burning.

It's easy to see how an oil price dive might wash the predictions above. And I could go with the flow, given his grounding in energy. But...

spec – Not just the fresh water aquifers at risk but frac’ng at these depths could erupt all the way to the surface. That’s why Texas restricts all injection (not just frac’ng) at shallow depths. But the company isn’t using any new technique. Of all the material I’ve seen the company put out they never use the word “frac”. I think some reporter started using that term and others just ran with it not knowing any better. There was a focus on potential ground water contamination by some land owners but that just had to do with the normal solution mining technique…not frac’ng. I just guess when ever some concern over oil patch activity and fresh water contamination pops up folks just assume it has something to do with frac’ng. For the MSM why worry about accuracy…the idea is to grab the daily headline.

BTW: the U concentrations and all the other nasty heavy metals are already in the fresh water aquifers. That’s where they’ve accumulated naturally.

This is not hydraulic fracturing, this is in-situ mobilization of U by injecting oxygenated water at one well and extracting it downgradient at a second well. I worked on a project at Oak Ridge National Lab where we were injecting electron donors (acetate, lactate) to oxidize nitrate in groundwater, thereby creating a reducing geochemistry so that the U(VI) could be reduced to U(IV). U(VI) is mobile in groundwater, and U(IV) is immobile (it precipitates as UO2). We were trying to immobilize the U to keep the U groundwater plume from advancing. In hydrogeology it's known as retardation. These folks at UEC doing the opposite: mobilizing the U in groundwater and then extracting/precipitating it. No fracking required.

Silurian - Thanks...good to hear from you old Paleozoic folks. Not being a U geologist I was hoping to not get quized on too much detail. One of the great things about TOD: lots of folks that know a little bit about a lot of things but also some folks who know a lot about a few things

Correction: we injected electron donors to "reduce" nitrate, not "oxidize" nitrate. My error. First we had to denitrify all of the nitrate to N2 gas, and then the microbes went to work on the U. There was a lot of nitrate in that groundwater due to nitric acid being part of the U separation/production process. It was pretty interesting, especially the guards with mean-looking weapons protecting the site (it being Oak Ridge National Lab, after all).

It's not fracking, it's flushing, or washing.

Effectively what you are trying to do is wash the sand clean then extract uranium from the dirty wash water.

US Postal Service to eliminate Saturday delivery to residences:


IMO, a better approach would be continue deliveries six days per week to post office boxes (which is part of the new plan, along with package deliveries to residences six days per week), with full delivery every other day to physical addresses, i.e., every Monday, Wednesday and Friday or every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Post Office cuts are not about money. If they were though, your idea would probably be the best solution.

Not about money, but about politics.
A republican bill mandated the Postal Service to fund retirement out 70 years, essentially gutting cash flow.
This was a measure to put it under financial strain, and possible privatization.

How many corporation need to fund retirement out 70 years?

You can complain about that move but that move is certainly not the Post Office's major problems.

The rising price of gas, the declining volume of mail, competition from UPS/FedEx, and increased usage of the internet (for getting/paying bills, accessing magazine/newspaper content, etc.) are the main problems.

Well if they didn't have to fund retirement out to 70 years then the other problems wouldn't be nearly as dire as they are. If they were allowed to fund pensions like every other entity in the US and did a cost cutting / efficiency strategy pointed out by westexas then they would be in a lot better shape.

Zooming out to the bigger picture, everyone no matter where you are employed are going to have to get used to a lower standard of living, a drastic re-definition of "retirement" and a lot less government services such as postal service. Unless you are a member of the kleptocracy...

USPS was profitable the year (2006) before this took effect.
It was a huge blow to be able to finance daily operations.

note: if interest rates rise to historical past rates (not a given) they will be making money big time.

Why should the post office be profitable? Was it's purpose to generate a profit, or to provide a service that was thought to be of importance to the viability of the nation?

This is just another small step in the process of collapse. There will be more and more as that process continues. Even now if you look back a dozen years the pace of change is breathtaking - think what it will be like looking back in another 12 years!

There's a difference between the Post Off Falling and being Pushed, however, which was the point being made.

Careful just how much collapse you wish for..

Yes, but I don't see the increasing gutting and pushing, breakdown in civil discourse and lack of any sense of civic responsibility as distinct from collapse. I see it as a symptom of a system that no longer functions, another manifestation of collapse. It is actually a fairly typical characteristic of collapsing societies.

Another way to look at it is that these types of people are always with us but we are no longer able to keep them in check.

the Post Office also labors under special requirements mandated by Congress like
subsidizing junk mail which Fedex and UPS do not have.

The US Post Office was founded by Benjamin Franklin and was critical for maintaining the
"Committees of Correspondence" which were crucial in organizing and incubating the American Revolution. This is why the Post Office subsidized newspaper deliveries in the interests of a "free press" and informed citizenry. It would really be a shame if the plutocrat's wrecking crew succeeded in destroying it so they could privatize all mail and package delivery for profit. Wait until you see the price of a stamp if they get away with that!

In Japan and some other countries Post Offices also serve as a neighborhood low level bank for paychecks and the like as our Post Office has done money orders for years. This is a lot cheaper and safer than the paycheck loan scam artists who prey on the poor and working class now. It should be seriously considered besides of course removing the idiotic 70 year pension fund...

Not only that but they are mandated to deliver EVERYWHERE. When a particular delivery is unprofitable, UPS and FedEx have the USPS deliver.

And, yes, I think Post office banks would be a great idea. But try to get that though the bank-lobbyists infested House of Representatives.

Orbit, I had no idea about the subsidy for junk mail-- that would be a great place to cut some costs, though of course it will never happen.

Our household has the worst junk mail problem of any family I know. Half the frickin' rainforest seems to wind up in our mailbox every week. We get junk mail for family members who have been dead for half a century or longer.

Sometime in the '90s, just for the hell of it, my wife once set up a New Yorker subscription in the name of our poodle... well, he died in 2005, but STILL gets junk mail-- usually invitations to $200-a-plate rubber-chicken dinner conferences on literature and international finance.

That is an overly simplistic view of the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.
1)It had 2 democratic co-sponsors and 1 republican one. The only "democratic" organization actively opposing it was one of the postal services 4 big unions, the APWU. It passed the house by voice vote and the senate by unanimous consent so this lousy law was not all that partisan when enacted. (the 70 years in the future) is a union talking point that is only true using some unlikely assumptions.
2) It is not the retirement funding that changed in this act it was the retiree healthcare benefit funding that changed. Postal retirement funds are over funded at the moment by 10-75 billion dollars depending on which actuary you believe. The USPS is still required to keep funding them more every year because the law says funding is based on formula not actual funded status. (the 1/3 of a trillion that the treasury holds and pays minimal interest on in USPS retirement funds are accounted for as less government debt so it is in the interest of government to keep the USPS paying) If the USPS were allowed to invest it's retirement funds like any other business and ended up with returns of 6-7% it would save them about $12 billion dollars a year.
3) On the retiree healthcare fund While it is true that the USPS has also set aside more money for retiree healthcare than any other entity in the world private or public that money and more will be needed by current and future retirees if the current level of benefits are maintained. The dirty little secret is that while postal employees pay medicare most don't use it much because they prefer their postal plan and tend to use its benefits instead of medicare. This is currently saving medicare over a billion dollars a year so there is little political will to change it. If the USPS were allowed out of the FEHB healthcare plan and was able to negotiate it's own retiree healthcare would already be fully funded and the USPS would save several billion a year in employee healthcare costs.

Basically by mandating funding and payments of postal employee benefits and requiring all that money to flow through the federal government accounts the government is able to bleed the USPS of 10-20 billion dollars a year. Things will have to get really desperate before they will allow this cash cow to go away. You likely won't see this analysis in the mainstream news either.

A republican bill mandated the Postal Service to fund retirement out 70 years, essentially gutting cash flow.

No, not future retirement benefits. It's about prepaying 75 years of future health costs for potential workers not even born yet.

I.E. "USPS is to make payments of $5.4 - $5.8 billion into the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund, each year, from 2007 to 2016 in order to prefund 75 years of estimated costs."

Essentially it's a Republican scheme to allow congress to borrow/steal those prepaid health care funds to reduce public borrowing. And yet another reason to Never/Ever for a republican (parasite party) candidate again.

I wonder if the USPS is close to collapse?

This morning my wife gave me some letters to mail, so I stopped at the drive-up mailbox at the local post office. The box was so crammed with mail that it was physically impossible to force another envelope into the slot. The previous scheduled pickup from this box, according to the label, was less than two hours earlier. Until about three months ago there were four boxes at this location, but three of them were removed in about October last year.

I parked and went into the building, where I put the letters in a slot in the wall. I wondered if there was an overflowing bin on the other side.

Someone on CNBC said that the USPS was operating with about a four day reserve of cash on hand.

That sounds like a post office that is doing well, not one that's close to collapse. Wouldn't no mail be the sign of approaching collapse, rather than overflowing bins?

Seems kind of weird that they'd remove three mailboxes if they were needed. How much money would that save?

It's the same as the self checkout lanes in stores. Get the buyer/consumer to do more to cut your expenses. Ird did just what they wanted-brought the mail into the shop.

Didn't you recently have a comment as to how many replies the topic of Post Office generates on this board?

Self checkout may not be working out so well. Our local Costco (maybe all Costcos?) eliminated their self-checkout lane after about a year. Not profitable, they said; a regular cashier can process people through much faster.

More like, too many people taking the "self service" part too seriously and "forgetting" to scan a few items!

Self checkout doesn't cause theft, it merely facilitates other kinds of theft. If someone wants to steal an item, they can do it any number of other ways. Most "shrink" in retail stores is due to employees, not customers.

I wonder how many people will now get boxes so the can have Saturday delivery? More cash for the PO.

Then they will be driving, using gas, making CO2, to get to the PO for a net cost to us all.

I wonder how many people will now get boxes so the can have Saturday delivery?

My guess is not very many. In the age of e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter, snail mail is just not very relevant any more. Honestly, once a month delivery would probably be more than enough for me. The only stuff I get via snail mail these days are things like jury duty notices.

But many other countries have faced this same problem, and their postal services have adapted. I'm sure we can, too.

I think you'll find that all or most PO boxes are taken. It's certainly the case in our area.

Being on a rural route, where it may be miles from your residence to a location the PO will allow for your box, it's simply more secure for a PO Box in town.

For a long while, we had our mailbox in a cluster with other homes and ranches at a road junction. For the last 10-15 yrs, we've had the PO box in town, and I find we check it perhaps 2x/wk around the holidays, maybe up to every 10 days other parts of the year.

And no, the long interval isn't due to internet, email, slavebook.

Being on a rural route, where it may be miles from your residence to a location the PO will allow for your box, it's simply more secure for a PO Box in town.

I thought a PO box would be more secure than my rural box. Then there was a check mailed to me to my PO box that got stolen. That's right, stolen and cashed and I went through a year of filling out and sending off affidavits before getting the money that was due.

I would occasionally get mail addressed to other PO boxes and I'm sure the check probably ended up in someone else's box and they cashed it. This whole experience left me much more wary of the security of a PO box.

My mailbox is about ¾ of a mile from my house down the road. Being on the dead end of a stretch of gravel road it is more efficient for the post office to have my box located there. After experiencing the worst mail service in Chicago, I love the service I get in my neck of the woods. The postal service is a lifeline in rural areas. It would really suck if it was pared back considerably.

I'm sure it must vary locally, but you're right, it is carrier efficiency that determines where they let you hang your mail box.

ET-yea, misthrown, or stuffed, mail can be a problem, but I had that a few times in the old cluster arrangement. Not as often, never lost $.

Our rural route carrier, I learned yesterday, is paid by the # of boxes. One of our neighbors prefers to get her and her immediate family's mail at her parents ranch, she's there everyday checking up anyway and they'd never deliver near her own place. The PO wants her to get her own box.

I understand the PO is now contracting services to both FED EX and UPS. Saw the UPS driver delivering to the PO yesterday, and couldn't figure it out. That's what they told me.

Yes, the USPS delivers a lot of FedEx and UPS stuff to me. Actually, what that means since I'm out on a rural route is that half the time I have to drive up to the PO to get my package anyway, if it's too big for my box. My mailbox is in a cluster at the farm down the road. I get other people's mail once in a while - if it's not to far or on my way somewhere, I'll just go and deliver the next day.

And yet sometimes FedEx and UPS deliver right to my door, which is out in the sticks on a very rough road (not town maintained, what we call a "Class 6" road in NH). It seems hit or miss.

I live on a "rural route" for my mail and the service is absolutely atrocious. It appears they farm it out to somebody, because the mail carrier is generally driving a beat up old minivan that is probably barely street legal. I've never seen an actual postal vehicle.

And the service...well I get my own mail about 75% of the time if I'm lucky. Often I get some other neighbor's mail, and I presume they get mine. Sometimes the neighbor will give me my mail the next day or two later, sometimes I never get it...sometimes I get it opened for me. My company insists on mailing my W-2 home to me every year and just yesterday I got it...already opened. So somebody knows my annual income.

If anybody sends me packages, they usually just get thrown at the base of the mailbox which is about 1/8 of a mile from my house (on the street mind you - anybody could just pick them up). Sometimes they balance them on top of the mailbox, sometimes they throw them in the driveway (but never on the porch). They never have bags over them when it rains. Half the time my mailbox door is left open with the actual mail half hanging out. Magazines are almost always damaged. I've called dozens of times but am told there's nothing they can do to help me.

I'm to the point now where absolutely nothing that I wouldn't want a random neighbor to have access to is sent in mail, thank god for email billing. I do everything online. If anybody sends me a package I try to force them to use fedex or UPS since they put stuff on my porch vs. the street.

So no, if the US postal system just spontaneously exploded today and disappeared, I would jump for joy and praise the lord for not having to deal with them ever again. I'm hoping they get cut to one day a week, for me they're useless.

I too have a PO box in the local community USPS office. As a result, when I occasionally order something that is to be shipped thru UPS, which requires a street address, things become messy. UPS now will try to deliver packages to the PO, even though the street address doesn't register in the USPS system. There is a work around in which one adds the PO box number at the end of the street address, that works for the local carriers. When they get the package, they (hopefully) know to re-direct it to the PO box. The latest change is that the USPS office has been cut to only 4 hours a day of counter service. Our postmistress decided to go back to her mail route to earn more money...

E. Swanson

I can imagine a scenario of what it will eventually evolve to...

Someday in the near future, perhaps we'll put out to the curb our Mail Receiving box. It will look like a trash can with a hole in the top lid.

A single postal carrier for the entire city/region will drive by. Computers and GPS will let the truck/driver know the address, and a computerized bin and robotic arm will lower the mail/pkg bundle into the 'mailbox', then move on.

Likely would be weekly, just like trash, but hopefully on a different day ; )

Perhaps having it on the same day would be the first step, then just having it moved directly to the dump without needing our involvement could follow. Not producing the junk is probably inconceivable. But where will I get my fire starter for the stove?

then just having it moved directly to the dump

LOVE IT! I would even be willing to pay something for this service. Heck, what is the bulk rate these days? I might even be willing to pay more than the junk-mailers.

The USPS could have a new money-maker on its hands: junk mail auctions. They outbid me, I must recieve their crap. I outbid them, they have to keep their crap to themselves.

I lived in a small place heated only with a wood-burning stove for 7 years. That junk mail fire starter was ESSENTIAL!

"That junk mail fire starter was ESSENTIAL!"

Free BTUs! Free BTUs!

But I have a box that acts as the surge bin. Delivery could be three days a week and not bother me.

Free BTUs! Free BTUs!

Free heavy metals, free heavy metals.
Much advertising contains glossy photos with lots of nasty stuff in the ink. I think you aren't supposed to burn it.

True, and I don't burn the colored stuff. But there is still plenty of fuel arriving.

I recycled glossy catalogs and postcards, but received a lot of charity solicitation letters and newspaper inserts to a POB - stuff suitable for burning. I didn't subscribe to a newspaper, so didn't have any other source for starting fires, except maybe picking dry grass or knocking bark off the firewood.

Actually, I was kinda glad to stop using firewood - not the best for the air, either. And tends to bring more grime into the house, both from hauling firewood in and from taking ash out.

I miss the exercise in wood splitting and toting, though.

Wood's a great fuel that way. It heats you three times:

When you cut it
When you split it
When you burn it

Four times.
When you haul out the ash.

Yeah, I don't use the glossy stuff or anything with plastic coatings. There's still plenty of newsprint, plain paper, cardstock and cardboard.

Test proposed tinder by looking at the residue. Cardboard and packing paper can have long incombustible fibers that clog the chimney cap screen. Ink jet paper has a high clay content that interferes with fire starting.

The county recycling center no longer allows anyone to carry away newsprint, so now telephone books are my favorite. The pages can be impressively ripped out and they burn to nothing.

...with full delivery every other day to physical addresses, i.e., every Monday, Wednesday and Friday or every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

westexas, I've proposed the staggered every other day delivery previously on TOD. Half the people get M-W-F and the other half get T-Th-Sa delivery. You can get by with almost 50% fewer vehicles and workers. A definite major money saver.

Best hopes for adaption by the US Postal Service.

RE: Norway’s Premier Rejects Oil Minister Call for Lofoten Drilling

If Obama is serious about global warming induced climate change then he will do likewise in the Arctic.

More black sugar mined from the earth,
Put on 100-ton hoppers,
And distributed with great mirth,

More black molasses pumped from down below,
Put in a pipeline,
Flow, baby, flow,

300, 400, 500, six,
Let’s go further,
I see the river Styx.

The vat is nearly full of yeast, the nutrients half-gone, growth continues and the environment is awash in toxins. When does this dopamine-enthralled, chemo-tactic, techno-fungus get a hint? Or perhaps, like yeast in a vat, we will endure deteriorating conditions just to reach a sudden, lethally toxic threshold. Homo sapiens, the tool-maker of massive cortex, but the soul seems to be an “homunculus of yeast” occupying territory within the nucleus accumbens whose ageless mandate is “If it feels good, do it.”

"...but the soul seems to be a “fungunculus of yeast”

Hey, fixed that for ya. After all, we're sorta related, right?

Thanks FMagyar,

Each name is equally descriptive although I believe "fungunculus" is a commensal of toe jam. However, I will agree that both terms are fully fungible and should be used interchangeably and possibly, due to our dear love of imbibing ethyl alcohol for the dopaminergic benefits of said fungunculus, your term should be used preferentially.

imbibing ethyl alcohol for the dopaminergic benefits of said fungunculus

Perhaps I'm being too literal - what fungus can use the alcohol to create a dopamine-like effect?

Alas claims I've heard that sugar/alcohol fueled 'bad effects' of a kind of Mycroplasma in the gut. No such mention at the above type of thing in the mold-help link - so I'm hoping you have some info on your comments.

so I'm hoping you have some info on your comments.

You're sure about that?

Well, we might start with sequencing the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome and seeing how much of it overlaps the Homo sapiens genome. Then we'll flash back to take a detour through the sixteenth century and meet up with some early alchemists and study some putrefied human sperm in a horses womb, before continuing on to visit the 19th century and to ponder Goethe's Faust. Then we'll need to double back and make a quick stop and review Descartes Cartesian dualism and his peculiar perspective writ the 'Soul'. Next you'll have to get into some cognitive neuroscience to elucidate how the firing of cortical neurons in my brain were triggered by my having read Dopamine's allusion to the seat of our human soul being commandeered by a sitting yeast homunculus. Which I then promptly associated with the fungible term fungunculous....

Would you still like me to continue to elucidate? It could be a rather long dissertation >;-)

Would that be a long dissertation or a short SF novel? Looks like you already have an outline to work with...

E. Swanson

I was more interested if this was a case where someone actually knew of a fungus that could convert ethanol into a dopamine-like compound in the human body VS a literary turn of the phrase.

Drill, baby, drill
Makes me ill.

But I balk
At walk, baby, walk.

So, ya wanna medal?!
Pedal, baby, pedal!

2 scenarios at odds. The 1st article is in line w/ TOD but w/ a hopeful techno fix
2nd is oblivious

Writing the Future

MEET THE 'ECHO BOOM': The 80 Million People Who Will Save The American Economy

2 Great Lakes hit lowest water level on record

Two of the Great Lakes have hit their lowest water levels ever recorded, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday, capping more than a decade of below-normal rain and snowfall and higher temperatures that boost evaporation.

Measurements taken last month show Lake Huron and Lake Michigan have reached their lowest ebb since record keeping began in 1918, and the lakes could set additional records over the next few months, the corps said. The lakes were 29 inches below their long-term average and had declined 17 inches since January 2012.

Nature has a hand in this, but the problem has been worsened by dredging to keep shipping channels open. While offering a short-term fix, it accelerates the flow of water from the lakes into the sea.

Lake Michigan and Huron are one continuous body of water connected through the Straits of Mackinac and always have the same water level (technically, they're just one lake).

but the problem has been worsened by dredging to keep shipping channels open.

The spillage out of the Great Lakes is due to tumbling out of the rock basin. The falls are eroding back and in some 10,000 years the lakes will drain out quickly. Or so sayth a documentary I once saw.

I think thats for Lake Ontario only. Not sure how things are supposed to evolve after that.

"Solutions are the biggest cause of problems"

"Solutions are the biggest cause of problems"

Especially in Chemistry lab!

A bit of apparent success in a new shale play (Tuscaloosa Marine Shale) that folks have been beating on for a few years.

"Goodrich Petroleum announces a Tuscaloosa Marine Shale well result: They announced the completion of its Crosby 12H-1 (50% WI) well in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. It had a 24 hour average rate of 1,050 barrels of oil and 469 Mcf of gas, on a 15/64" choke with 2,700 psi. The well, which has approximately 6,700 feet of usable lateral and was fracked with 25 stages, is in the early stage of flowback".

A lot of lateral and lots of frac stages...this wasn't a cheap well. And it will have the typical high decline rate of fractured reservoirs. Probably take a couple of years to figure out what the rate of return will be.

@ Rockman
When they say "fracked with 25 stages", do they mean they split the lateral into 25 different sections and fracked each section individually, or did they frack the same lateral 25 times over to progressively deepen the fractures?

I'm assuming a single lateral. If there were five laterals, would it mean they fracked each lateral five times over?

aardi - 25 different intervals in that one hz lateral. That's why they've been drilling longer laterals. The more frac stages the more potential natural fractures they might intersect. Remember the shale rock itself produces almost nothing. It's all about how many natural fractures you open up to the well bore.

Mucho multistage fracs has been the one small tech improvement in recent years. Essentially you have to isolate the each section of the well bore you want to pump a stage into. Time and money...lots of both. But at 25 stages the frac job may have cost more than the drilling of the well. That's what I hear has been happening in the Eagle Ford: well cost = $5 million and frac costing $8 million

Remember the shale rock itself produces almost nothing.

But not quite nothing. The Texas Pacific Oil Company, #1 Winfred Blades[PDF] well in Tangipahoa Parish was completed in 1978 and in the late 1990s was still producing 1-2 barrels per day, with a cumulative production over 20,000 barrels.

Nope. The matrix permeability is too low to flow. From your reference: “…range of figures from lowest to highest, as follows: permeability - from less than 0.01 to 0.06 millidarcies…” If you search the nature of such extremely low perm in any rock you find it can’t flow any oil. Rather simple illustration but it makes my point:


It shows a cylinder of permeable sand draining a volume of liquid in 2 hours. A cylinder of clay (unsolidified shale) doesn’t produce one drop of liquid in 200 years.

So where did the oil come from? From your reference: “Visible fractures containing live oil are apparent in the diamond cores. This information would indicate some enhanced porosities and permeabilities in areas where fracturing may be present.” IOW the permeability that produced those 20,000 bo is from the fractures and not the rock.

Are We Heading for 6° Temperature Rise?

... Anderson thinks it has been obvious for the last 10 years that we are pointing towards 4–6° "but it's interesting to see orthodox organizations coming out and saying this now". International Energy Agency (IEA) chief economist Fatih Birol emphasizes how current emission trends are "perfectly in line with a temperature rise of 6 °C", which he notes "would have devastating consequences for the planet", said Anderson. And consultancy PwC's Low Carbon Economy Index 2012 reports that even doubling our rate of carbon-emission reduction would still lead to emissions that are consistent with 6° of warming.

So what is the solution?

Since infrastructure lasts a long time, Anderson believes it will take 20 to 25 years to get significant decarbonization of energy supply systems. "It's energy demand that really matters," he said. It's possible to change demand technologies in one to 10 years and to change behaviour immediately; most car journeys use vehicles that are less than eight years old, for example. "I'm not saying the supply side is not important but it cannot get you off the [emission] curve anywhere near fast enough," Anderson continued. "You'll have much higher temperatures if you just rely on engineers to come up with [supply] technologies that will solve the problem in 2025 or 2030."

Climate Change Means Catastrophe in UK, Not Café Culture Says Professor

Global warming in Britain will not mean a nice "café culture, sitting outside sipping lattes" but heatwaves that kill vulnerable elderly people and catastrophic flooding, a climate change expert has warned

In the most likely scenarios, the Met Office climate change predictions for the Government forecast temperatures in the UK to increase from the 1961 to 1990 average of 10 to 17C in the summer to 15 to 22C by 2080

Manchester Facing Apocalyptic Future, says Climate Change Expert

"It's energy demand that really matters."

A crucial point being buried by Don Quixote-McKibben...

And Oil-Qaeda is the source of the demand after having made addicts of what was once civilization.

Once civilization goes down it would seem that the current demand will change to fireside chats of another type of demand.

But it will be just as ugly.

Disagree with your emphasis on oil. Oil is subordinate to cars, which are the linchpin of the system.

But cars are a means to an end, no?

Given the incredible sacrifices we are willing to accept to have them, apparently cars are the end.

Or perhaps having them will bring us to the end. Hope it was worth it.

What I meant was that in most cases a car is something to accomplish something else, and that "else" can be anything from an ego boost to simply a tool to get from A to B.
Unless we humans come to grips with both the utilitarian drivers and the ego related drivers even if cars were to go the way of the dodo bird we'd find a replacement.
I think that the wastefulness and destruction that cars can create is merely an unfortunate side-effect of the utility they provide.

"Oil is subordinate to cars"? Who went bankrupt and who rolled in record profits?

What machine generates those profits? And what would the overclass do without cars, for which the entire society has been built?

Barack Obama 'cannot cut emissions without decisive new actions'

America's greenhouse gas emissions have fallen under Obama, as power plants burn less coal. But the country will still fall short of his commitment to a 17% reduction by the end of the decade, the report from the World Resources Institute said.

... if Obama wants to make good on that commitment and the sweeping climate promises of his inauguration day address, he will have to tighten rules on coal-fired power plants and on the natural gas industry, the report said.

... the move away from coal to natural gas, and to a far smaller extent renewables such as wind and solar power, would not on their own produce the cuts needed to prevent catastrophic climate change, WRI said.

Can the U.S. Get There from Here? Using Existing Federal Laws and State Action to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.


The first link is referring to this lecture. If you didn't catch it when it was given three months ago, its well worth watching.

Evolving Armed Forces of the Philippines [AFP] Role In Climate Change Era

There seems to be a profound sea change in the perceptions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with regard to its role in a nation fraught with the perils of global warming. On his assumption as chief of staff of the AFP, Gen. Emmanuel Bautista stressed the evolving role of the soldier in the era of climate change (Inquirer, 1/18/13).

In his speech at the turnover of command at Camp Aguinaldo, General Bautista conceded that “in recent years, the effects of climate change have been more adverse than (the effects of) armed conflict.”

New from Congressional Research Service ...

Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity

Strictly speaking, the Controlled Substances Act [CSA] does not make growing hemp illegal; rather, it places strict controls on its production and enforces standards governing the security conditions under which the crop must be grown, making it illegal to grow without a DEA permit. Currently, cannabis varieties may be legitimately grown for research purposes only.

Among the concerns over changing current policies is how to allow for hemp production without undermining the agency’s drug enforcement efforts and regulation of the production and distribution of marijuana.

To date, nine states have legalized the cultivation and research of industrial hemp, including Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia. However, because federal law still prohibits cultivation, a grower still must get permission from the DEA in order to grow hemp, or face the possibility of federal charges or property confiscation, despite having a state-issued permit.

Over the past few Congresses, Representative Ron Paul has introduced legislation that would open the way for commercial cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States. In the 112th Congress, Senator Ron Wyden similarly introduced S. 3501 in the Senate. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act would amend Section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act to specify that the term “marijuana” does not include industrial hemp, thus allowing for industrial hemp to be grown and processed under some state laws.

I hope they make it completely legal and easy to grow. And then we'll see what happens.

I've always assumed that all these hemp advocates are just stoners looking for a back-door way for legalization and thus advocated for hemp growing. Their claims about how economically great growing hemp would be struck me ridiculous because if it really were so profitable, lobbyists would have got it legalized long ago. It is not like business interests are less powerful than anti-drug crusaders. Business almost always wins. Like the Dover case on evolution . . . business wins over creationists.

I hope they make it completely legal and easy to grow.

I just wish they would make up their minds if it is legal or illegal. California passes medical weed laws and the feds do nothing, but then years later at random sometimes do take action. Does that make any sense? Either states can have their on own laws that supercede fed. laws or they cannot. It really should not be that hard to make a decision, but America seems more and more to have a split personality wanting it both ways.


"The Supreme Court is going to bring clarity and uniformity to the law because we now have some courts of appeal that have ruled in favor of cities in these issues and some that have ruled in favor of medical marijuana dispensaries," T. Peter Pierce, an attorney for Los Angeles attorney representing the city of Upland, CA in a similar case, told the Los Angeles Daily News. "The trial courts are feeling like they don't have concrete guidelines and have been all over the place on this issue."

The Huffington Post had a pretty good article on why the feds are Janus-faced on the issue. Tl;dr version: federal prosecutors and the DEA like fighting drugs, Obama is unwilling to step in to stop them. The US has several federal level agencies whose only purpose is to wage and promote the drug war - DEA, NIDA, ONDCP. All of these agencies rely on the drug war continuing.

As for speculawyer's comment: there was never an opportunity for an industry to arise, and to the extent that it existed it was badly damaged by the rise of synthetic fabrics (which is an industry against legalization). Yes, many of the supporters of legalization of commercial hemp are stoners. Doesn't mean they aren't right. Also, don't underestimate the power of the police/prison/military complex. Their jobs depend on the drug war.

Historically, hemp was one of the most useful fiber crops, and in Japan at least it was used for many things, paper, rope, clothing, etc. It's sacred in Shinto. It's hard to see how useful or useless it would be under current conditions, but certainly many of the former uses were lost to synthetic fibers and other natural substitutes (canvas is now usually made of cotton). It's actually a very important plant if we are moving back toward plant-based materials.

To be honest, I think this is the last wave and legalization is actually around the corner, not just for "hemp" but for all varieties of cannabis. It's more popular than either party, so it's gone from a liability to support legalization to a liability to oppose it. The speed of these things is impossible to predict, though.

Industrial hemp production statistics for Canada indicate that one acre of hemp yields an average of about 700 pounds of grain, which can be pressed into about 50 gallons of oil and 530 pounds of meal. That same acre will also produce an average of 5,300 pounds of straw, which can be transformed into about 1,300 pounds of fiber

One acre of soy bean produces approximately 43-63 gallons of oil, 1992 pounds of meal, and no fiber.

One acre of soy bean produces approximately 43-63 gallons of oil, 1992 pounds of meal, and no fiber.

But Monsanto does not have a GMO version of Hemp like it dies soy.
Never work, as the control and profits would be taken away.

Their claims about how economically great growing hemp would be struck me ridiculous because if it really were so profitable, lobbyists would have got it legalized long ago.

Have you ever thought it hasn't been legalized because it'd be so profitable?

Think about all the entities who benefit from it remaining illegal...

To expand on Seraph's picture (and keep in mind cannabis is more or less the same thing as hemp):

Medical marijuana has made a big difference to one of my elderly relatives with a fast-growing lung carcinoma. While the chemo helped, it appears the cannabis oil did quite a lot of the work.

One of the links pointed out smoking alone would not be good enough to deliver THC. But the fat soluble nature of THC may be wy the oil form is good enough.

Making a oil does bump the resulting product up to a harsher penalty if I remember the tables however.

Extraction of chemicals from plant at the triplepoint of CO2 might be a way to sell extracting CO2 from the air however.

Added this link:

After Rick Simpson's efforts to introduce his hemp oil to the Canadian Health system were denied, even after proving it had cured many of his town's cancer patients free of charge, he realized the cancer industry doesn't want a cure.

And a different doctor mentioned in a previous drumbeat.

THC content has increased significantly though over the last decade or so. Not so sure if that is good or bad. I number of people I know smoked/have smoked supposedly harmelss weed yet when you talk to them now they have that burned out gaze and are a shadow of who they once were - mellow - yes - sharp, no.

Another interesting feature about hemp:

Twenty years of study has concluded that marijuana smokers may actually be getting a bad rap and that they may actually have fewer accidents than other drivers.

Here in Denmark the police has taken a hard stand with the politicians - if they detect THC in your body you not only lose your drivers license - you get 1 year in jail..

But if you drive while intoxicated on alchohol the penalty is a fraction of one month income.

Go figure how they concluded that was fair... Most probably the politicians was piss-ant drunk while thinking about it.. :-D

'Piss-ant Drunk'.. I'd say that's close.

Alcohol is a big moneymaker, AND it's our preferred form of legal self-medicating and pain-killing. It's also rumored to be an (effective) aphrodisiac.

So it's got economic and political power AND empathy on it's side in this fight.

And its also helped support a $160 billion per year prison industrial complex.

Economic development at its finest.

Isn't that what they call a Free Market Enterprise.

Have you ever thought it hasn't been legalized because it'd be so profitable?

Think about all the entities who benefit from it remaining illegal...

Yeah, that picture is a great example of their propaganda. The thing is, those competitors could grow it, process it, build from it, refine it, etc. too! Nothing stops them from getting in the biz.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But like I said, I look forward to it being legalized so anyone could grow it freely. However, I think it will mainly just be grown for the THC drug and the rest of the plant will be used like any other biomass.

I am also not a fan of that graphic because it downplays the extent to which racism led to the illegalization of cannabis in the US, and has contributed to the continuation of prohibitionist policies. It's hard to overstate the racism of the US in the 1930's, or the denial of it today - I remember watching a debate between a NORML rep and someone from the DEA, and the DEA guy's main defense was "users don't get arrested, you're here debating me!", which struck me as a farce because the NORML rep was also a clean cut white guy. White, middle class people rarely get arrested for pot.

I do suspect that certain uses, like specialty paper, would catch on, and for heavy cloth it might come back. It's already doing okay in the specialty food industry - hemp milk seems to have caught on to some extent. It's a niche product, like flax, and I don't doubt much more would be grown for drugs than for other uses.


Indeed...it started being called "marijuana" to tie it to the Mexicans who were at the time of course, dirty scum.

Washington grew it at Mt Vernon, Thomas Jefferson grew it, and Ben Franklin used it to make paper...as Fugelsang notes - who flies a kite in a lightning storm sober?

Mexican and Blacks.

As for Washington/Jefferson - there is a correspondence from Washington where he speaks of culling of male plants VS the females. Sex matters little if you are growing for fiber.

Yes, I've always thought that was the "smoking gun", as it were ;-)

When fibers and fabrics derived from petroleum get more expensive and scarce, hemp fiber's relative value will go up, IMO. Drought and invasive species (super amaranth in cotton, beetles in pulpwood forests, etc.) may help hemp become a go-to alternative for products made from these things.

Two of the biggest hemp advocates are stoners. (Woody and Willie)

In their latest documentary, they interviewed several folks who indicate that growth of hemp would actually reduce THC in illegal weed.

The hemp they advocate, grown on a large scale by farmers, would cross-pollinate with any outdoor-grown illegal weed nearby, killing off the THC content of the hybrid weed for getting stoned.

There is no reason not to let people farm industrial hemp other than the power timber, petro-chemical and simmilar monied interests.

In general industrial hemp is low in all the cannabinoids but most of it is the non-psychoactive CBD which has much of the beneficial medical effects.

Pollen from a field of industrial hemp would not only lower the THC content of nearby pot plants, but might even increase their healthy CBD content.

grown for the THC drug and the rest of the plant will be used like any other biomass

Considering the dwarf and high THC versions, that makes the plants mostly worthless as a fiber source.

Growing on your land for your own use is forbidden after the 1940's case that made it illegal to grow your own grain for your own use and exceeding the crop limits of the time.

Have you ever thought it hasn't been legalized because it'd be so profitable?

I recognice a conspiracy theory when I see one. Another popular one is they know the cure for cancer, but doctors don't wanna be unemployed.

The rest of this debate matters me not.

Do you have for-profit prisons in your country? The US does. For-profit drug rehabilitation centers? IIRC the state of California spends $1 billion a year on drug enforcement the bulk of which is aimed at marijuana. It's profitable to corporations who run prisons, sell weapons, aircraft, etc to fight "the war on drugs."

After that the long-term societal effects kick in...often it's a *felony* offense which means the person will have trouble finding employment because no one wants to hire felons. Minorities are often unequally targeted and being convicted of a felony often means they're stripped of their voting rights as well.

But that is not related to growing hemp. There is probably no one in jail for growing non-recreational hemp.

You're obviously not aware of US laws - hemp plants carry the same criminal penalties as THC laden cannibis. If you were to plant a field of hemp in the US for the purpose of making paper you could be sent to jail for the rest of your life - no distinction is made.

There are many shops in various states that sell hemp fabric products - clothing, shoes, backpacks, etc. - where is that hemp coming from? There are also hemp seed nutritional products sold in many places.

Fiber from China, seeds from Canada. Our government rigorously screens imported seeds for non-viability. Healthfulness, not such a priority.

As one who has observed and pondered our nation's contradictory attitudes and policies toward cannabis for several decades I suggest that the current system for manufacturing and distributing the product generates a significant amount of money for a large number of "little" players and a few very big players such as large banks.
The money sent to our cousins in Mexico offsets the collateral damage of NAFTA to their working citizens. The money earned here pays for mortgages, health care, groceries, electricity, phones and computers and cars and all sorts of stuff for all sorts of nice folks. Counties in turn collect taxes from these people (land taxes, etc.) and make payments on bonds.
I think their is a lot of grass roots pressure on government at all levels to maintain the status quo and the income streams (Estimated by some to be $30 billion per year in the USA) reliant entirely on the prohibition of cannabis.
Just imagine for arguments sake that this income is so important to domestic tranquility. Right now marijuana consumers are supplying the cash and they seem used to and accepting of absurdly high prices. If we stop robbing these folks to pay these other folks who are we going to rob to pay these other folks in the future?
How do we stop feeding the bear?
John in San Francisco

The US has managed to ruin quite a number of countries with its drug policies including forcing Mexico to keep weed illegal resulting in the formation of the drug cartels (like alcohol prohibition did in the US) and piles of bodies. Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama have all suffered to varying degrees over the US's drug policies. No doubt countless others have felt the pressure to their detriment.

Jamaica. The opulence and corruption here is disgusting! The war on drugs has resulted in the corruption of our youth, police force, army and government. When you encounter wealthy individuals, there's always a chance that they are somehow involved in the narcotics trade or once were.

Alan from the islands

US families spent an average of nearly $3,000 on fuel last year

Does it feel like more of your paycheck is going to pay to fuel up your vehicle? According to the US Energy Information Administration, it is. Last year, the average US household paid $2,912 for gasoline, which represents almost four percent of the average household annual income. The government agency notes that this is the highest percentage of household income spent on fuel in almost 30 years (save 2008, when the numbers were similar).

The nice thing about this story is the number of people in the comments section pointing out that EVs are becoming a useful alternative. (Of course, I helped with those.) Some commenters pointed out that you can (and some did) get into a brand new EV with a lease payment that was less than their gas guzzler's monthly gas costs (due to the tax-credit and year-end incentive programs).

...and that $2,912 for gasoline comes with around a 30% premium (income tax, etc.) for most folks. @ $3785 in income to put that in your tank. I know people don't look at it that way, but they could put the difference in tax defered savings, or just work less if they didn't have that overhead.

Here's a fun PV-EV on Rails that I ran across today looking at the 'Grid-beam' guys, part of the maker crowd who use sort of a big kids' erector set to prototype all sorts of boxy but reformable vehicles and such!

Kind of makes me think of old Toto.

I don't really care how smart yeast is.. there are just some people that I just really like!

http://www.gridbeamers.com/ (The video of the train is in the middle of the vid at the top of the page)

US families get no benefit at all from about 80% of that $3000 spent on gasoline due to the inefficiency of the internal combustion engine. About a third of it goes out the exhaust pipe and pollutes the air. Everyone should be made aware of this fact.

Federal Reserve Breach: Attackers Exploited Website Product Vulnerability

The confirmation from the country's central banking system appeared to validate assertions made by the hacktivist group Anonymous, which claimed credit for the Sunday breach and subsequent data dump of what it described as "over 4,000 U.S. bank executive credentials."

The Fed data was leaked by Anonymous as part of its Operation Last Resort, which seeks "reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors."

From up-top:

If women don't want to have more children, then instead of abandoning women's equality as a goal, we should rework our economic system so it doesn't rely on a steadily growing population to function.

It seems our best hope is for declining birthrates rather than higher birthrates which cause more problems.

Best hopes for adapting to and accepting declining birthrates.

Yeh, too little population is a problem. Jeesh. Growth is the imperative. We need more population so we can grow and then we need to grow because we have more population. An endless treadmill to hell. But we need to support the old people. Ok. And then we will have even more old people to support when the new crop of extra children get old.

If we are really worried about two little population, there are a bunch of people out there in other countries that are desperately willing to take up the slack. If I have my numbers correct, about 2 billion people are currently living on under $2 dollars per day. That is more than the total world population in 1920.

The author is an idiot. If you have more babies it increases the number of dependants. Two elderly parents plus 3 children. Yeast in wort, and no we are not smarter then yeast, hedge accordingly. There is no happy ending.

Supermarkets: Energy-Optimized

The main focus of the concept lies in the area of cooling. This is because at approximately 40 to 50%, it represents the largest share of the electricity bill. ISE researchers have now developed a combined central refrigeration system in collaboration with property developers and the planning team. Now, all cooling points are connected to a combined central refrigeration system. The heat is not dissipated into the store but channeled via a three-stage recooling system. During the winter the system recovers the heat via a heat exchanger and uses it to heat the store. Residual heat is channeled via a gas chiller and geothermal heat pump in the surrounding area. In doing so heated water is pumped through probes into the ground where the heat is dissipated and the water is fed back cold. The result of this is that freezers and chiller cabinets only require half the electricity of comparable standalone units.

The heating system also has an effect on the ventilation system. The system is no longer required for heating; rather, it is used exclusively for introducing fresh air into the store, and is therefore a third smaller in size.

“Part of our concept has already been implemented by Aldi Süd in their new buildings. This enabled 20% energy savings to be achieved during the first year of operation”, explains Réhault. “New control strategies have now enabled us to optimize these concept components so that energy savings of 25% will be saved in the second year of operation, compared to a standard branch.

Also ... Supermarkets: An Overview of Energy Use and Energy Efficiency Opportunities

On average, supermarkets in the United States use around 50 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and 50 cubic feet of natural gas per square foot per year — an average annual energy cost of more than $4 per square foot. For an average-size (50,000 square foot) store, this equates to more than $200,000 annually in energy costs and results in 1,900 tons of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere — equivalent to the emissions from 360 vehicles in one year.

Energy Consumption and Performance of Supermarket Refrigeration Systems

I saw that Antonio Turiel's excellent article "The Twilight of Petroleum" was posted in yesterday's Drumbeat comments. I think the information in it is so important, in an attempt to amplify his message I wrote up a reinterpretation of his points and graphs with language and in a format (and some additional info) I hope is more understandable by someone without much background in energy.

"The End of the Age of Oil Has Arrived"


The original version:


Research Says Biodiversity Helps Protect Nature against Human Impacts

New research published today in Nature suggests farmers and resource managers should not rely on seemingly stable but vulnerable single-crop monocultures. Instead they should encourage more kinds of plants in fields and woods as a buffer against sudden ecosystem disturbance.

"You don't know what you've got 'til it's collapsed." That's how University of Guelph integrative biologists might recast a line from an iconic folk tune for their new research paper warning about the perils of ecosystem breakdown.

Gabon says half its elephants killed since 2004

More than half of Gabon's elephant population has been killed by poachers since 2004 despite ramped up security measures to try to stop the slaughter, wildlife officials said Wednesday.

Gabon, on the west coast of central Africa, is estimated to host over half of the continent's 40,000 forest elephants but the animals have long been targeted by poachers for their ivory.

On current trend ... 2020 = 0 elephants

Over 80 rhino poached in 37 days

Johannesburg - A total of 82 rhino have been poached in the country since 1 January, the water and environmental affairs department said on Wednesday.

"The Kruger National Park remains the hardest hit by rhino poachers this year, having lost 61 rhino to mostly foreign poachers," it said in a statement.

668 poached last year. At this rate they'll be extinct in twenty years.

Disgusting. Do the Chinese or whoever know that some stuff actually -works- now ?

Predicting a Low Carbon Future for Toronto

Cities are major players in the climate change game. More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas and over 70% of global GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions can be attributed to cities.

A case study of Toronto demonstrates alternative strategies for how the city can implement a low carbon urban infrastructure plan by 2031. Two scenarios are described: one based on Toronto’s current policies was found to reduce GHG emissions by 31%; and another suggests aggressive alternatives that could reduce GHG emissions by 71%.

Strategies under the aggressive scenario include retrofitting all existing buildings, using renewable heating and cooling systems, and the proliferation of electric cars. This study is published in the Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering.

Buildings, energy supply and transport are this study's main focus. Best practices as well as options and opportunities are detailed. Cities can refer to these strategies when planning to reduce carbon emissions in the decades to come.

Hydrothermal Liquefaction — Most Promising Path to Sustainable Bio-Oil Production

A new generation of the HTL process can convert all kinds of biomasses to crude bio-oil, which is sufficiently similar to fossil crude oil that a simple thermal upgrade and existing refinery technology can be employed to subsequently obtain all the liquid fuels we know today. What is more, the HTL process only consumes approximately 10-15 percent of the energy in the feedstock biomass, yielding an energy efficiency of 85-90 percent.

To emphasize, the HTL process accepts all biomasses from modern society – sewage sludge, manure, wood, compost and plant material along with waste from households, meat factories, dairy production and similar industries.


... Hydrothermal Liquefaction = Thermal Pyrolysis?

waste from households

Small Platinum particles added to the "waste" stream inserted into a pressurised and heated process where there are Hydrocarbons?

What could possibly go wrong?

... Hydrothermal Liquefaction = Thermal Pyrolysis?

Not quite. In hydrothermal liquefaction, water can also serve as a reactant, hydrogenating carbons (reactions are similar to the water-gas shift), thus producing more alkanes. Water is not necessarily present in pyrolysis (at least not in high concentrations), so you'd get more alkenes and cyclic hydrocarbons.

Let me get this straight, I can take 1000 kgs. of sh!t, or liposuction waste, burn 10% of it as feedstock to convert the remaining 900 kgs to oil via HTL cooking at 400 C, under high pressure, (how high?). After this process which produces clean water, a little CO2 and some residue I still end up with 496 kgs of sweet low sulfur crude? Really? What am I missing? Are there any chemists in the wings who can elucidate the reactions and the thermodynamics involved in this, to me, magical process? BTW, that dark blue graph is a bit hard to read.


Don't ask questions you don't really want to know the answers to...


"Hydrolysis usually means the cleavage of chemical bonds by the addition of water. Generally, hydrolysis is a step in the degradation of a substance."

Think crock-pot. Moist heat breaks down long-chain organic molecules especially if they have double bonds or charged functional groups along the way. Adding a bit of acid speeds things up (think marinating). Enzymes and inorganic catalysts do the same.

It's basic chemistry all right. The trick is not poisoning the catalysts, which is why acids are often used, though they tend to chew on the cooking pot. Which is why they had to invent hasteloy. But that is a different story.

Don't ask questions you don't really want to know the answers to...

Actually I really wanted to know. I did take chemistry and Biochemistry, albeit quite some time ago, so at least I vaguely remember how hydrolysis of ATP works. I found your analogies to be spot on. Thanks for that.

What I was trying to get a better understanding of is whether those percentages of the dry weight of feedstock that is 10-15% were sufficient when burned as an energy input to be able to convert almost 50% of the total biomass after discounting losses, residue etc, into usable high quality biofuel, irrespective of what was being used as biomass.
Especially given the claim that the process occurred by cooking the feedstock at 400 C under high pressure.

Frankly to me, those numbers sounded a bit too good to be true. Are you saying that you consider them plausible?

Be careful what you wish for. To my knowledge any technology that can convert biological material to oil, can convert lignite (brown coal) to oil.

Now biological waste may have a negative cost, eg people will pay for someone to take it away, but lignite is in much greater supply and is just waiting for an economical way of being exploited.

The law of unintended consequences comes to mind.

What is so great about those numbers?

You can take 1 kg of palm oil, add 100 grams of methanol and 50 grams of natural gas and get upwards of 950 grams of biodiesel, plus a bunch of glycerin.

This is a refining process, not a transformation. It doesn't have to consume much energy and EREOI isn't really relevant.

Edit: This doesn't apply to the sh!t, which is obviously a very different story.

The water content of sh!t, when sh!t is what I think, is quite high, so you should work with dry mass for your calculations. :-)

But fatty wastes from whatever sources (plastic surgeon or McDonald) work fine, the stuff you get is here called biodiesel, the only difference is that the exhaust of the buses smell like French fries. :-)

The serious limitation of course is, that the energy content of all waste is quite small compared to the demand for tranportaton, so this is only a nice method to reduce costs of the municipal facilities, not a approach to substitute a meaningful part of the demand of the population.

The water content of sh!t, when sh!t is what I think, is quite high, so you should work with dry mass for your calculations. :-)

LOL! I do believe all their calculations were based on finely refined dry sh!t.

The serious limitation of course is, that the energy content of all waste is quite small compared to the demand for tranportaton, so this is only a nice method to reduce costs of the municipal facilities, not a approach to substitute a meaningful part of the demand of the population.

Yep, that's pretty much what I figured.

Firms That Purport To Value Shareholders Pay CEOs More, Study Finds

Using compensation data from 290 chief executives at large U.S. firms over an 11-year period, Taekjin Shin, a professor of labor and employment relations at Illinois, shows that CEOs at firms with the appearance of a "shareholder-value orientation" receive greater compensation in the form of higher pay and greater stock options.

"You would expect that if a company has espoused the principle of shareholder-value maximization – that is, focusing solely on maximizing the financial returns for investors through corporate governance mechanisms – then executive compensation should be less, and sensitivity toward the overall performance of the firm should be greater," Shin said.

You would be wrong ... the study, published in The Economic and Social Review, finds empirical evidence to the contrary, Shin says.

Shin chalks it up to CEOs, already politically-savvy insiders, knowing how to "game the system."

RBS fined $612 million for rate rigging

A senior Yen trader at Royal Bank of Scotland made a revealing observation in mid 2007 about the bank panel that sets the borrowing rate in Japanese Yen.

The jpy libor is a cartel now. its just amazing how libor fixing can make you that much money,” the senior trader wrote in an instant message to traders at two other banks, according to a filing by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.


Cat beats professionals and team of students in Observer's stock portfolio challenge

While the professionals used their decades of investment knowledge and traditional stock-picking methods, Orlando the cat selected stocks by throwing his favourite toy mouse on a grid of numbers allocated to different companies.

The challenge raised the question of whether the professionals, with their decades of knowledge, could outperform novice students of finance – or whether a random selection of stocks chosen by Orlando could perform just as well as experienced investors.

The result indicates that the "random walk hypothesis", popularised in economist Burton Malkiel's book A Random Walk Down Wall Street, is perhaps truer than we thought. Burkiel's book explores the idea that share prices move completely at random, making stock markets entirely unpredictable.

When the shoeshine boy starts giving you tips, ... it's time to get out of the market. - Joseph P. Kennedy 1929

The other thing you should understand is that there will never be reform, because those who would reform would be implicating themselves. This has been called a "credibility trap" and is an important concept.

So the banks and corporations will milk as much as they possibly can before dumping the stocks and bonds onto whoever is the last sucker.

Good episode of NOVA that explores this:

Mind Over Money

JEREMY GRANTHAM: It's euphoria causing the price to go up and realism causing it to fall back, and then, eventually, unrealistic panic, as it begins to feed on itself, and the lemmings head in the opposite direction.

NARRATOR: At Chapman University, in California, this cycle is studied by Vernon Smith.

VERNON SMITH (Chapman University School of Law/2002 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics): A lot of economists do not like bubbles because they are so hard to understand.

NARRATOR: In this experiment, Smith wants to see what happens when students compete to earn money on a simulated trading floor.

RESEARCHER ONE (Chapman University): You'll be participating in a trading experiment.

RESEARCHER TWO (Chapman University): It's not a classroom setting. It's a setting in which your job is to make as much money as you possibly can.


NARRATOR: As the end approaches, the price remains way above the real value. The graph has taken on a classic bubble shape.

And when the players try to get out, no one wants to buy. Instead of earning hundreds of dollars, the students watch the graph collapse, leaving them with next to nothing.

This experiment suggests bubbles may be part of the fabric of financial markets.

Related to Climate study sees possibly dire future for agriculture from DB above ...

USDA Offers Reports on Climate Change Strategies for Agriculture, Forests

The Agriculture Department released two reports Tuesday that synthesize the scientific literature on climate change effects and adaptation strategies for U.S. agriculture and forests.

The reports, “Climate Change and Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation and the Effects of Climate Variability” and “Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector,” were created as inputs to the National Climate Assessment. Scientists from the federal service, universities, non-governmental organizations, industry, tribal lands, and the private sector contributed to the peer-reviewed studies

Asking this question is probably kind of dumb here, but I'm curious all the same.

Given all that is known about climate change and the forecasts for what is supposed to happen, what is the likelihood that the forecasts are accurate, exaggerated or understated in respect of climate change?

Many days now, I read another horror story about climate change and I just yawn. I'm not sure if it's that I don't believe the hype (which is possible, but not wholly it), I don't care anymore (let this planet burn with all the stupid animals in it, and I don't mean the chimpanzees, they're just innocent victims of fate) or I don't actually trust the scientists because I'm some rednecked, ill-educated, drooling moron (I rarely ever feel that way (I only drool in my sleep after all), but some days, the anti climate change mantras manage to get a tiny toehold in my mind and I wonder...).

I suppose you could call me skeptical of the forecasts and yet worried about the future as I'm planning to have a family soon (stupidity I know). So, I'm engaged in some serious cognitive dissonance to keep up the bargain I made with my fiance on kids, or else no kids, no fiance and no happiness. Or something like that.

Anyways, forget my personal situation, and just answer the question. For clarity's purpose it is:

Given all that is known about climate change and the forecasts for what is supposed to happen, what is the likelihood that the forecasts are accurate, exaggerated or understated in respect of climate change?

And for a clear response, please state your likelihood as a percentage range 50-60%, 10-20%, 90-95% etc.

Thanks in advance!

It is 100% certain that the forecasts are accurate, exaggerated or understated.


Your answer was much better than mine! ;-)

I read the actual question as "I understand what the science shows, but I would like to believe something else. Can you help me to rationalize/justify ignoring what I know?".

Life is still worth living even knowing what we know. Live your life, it is the time you have been given, make of it what you can.

I like this answer. It's not much by way of an answer, but I like it all the same! I suppose because it makes me laugh and that's perhaps the best way to face such questions. With irreverance and humour!

Which forecasts? There are different schools of thought.

For myself, I think the science is sound. More and more heat is being retained in the atmosphere as CO2 ramps up. It's essentially 400 ppm already. You are energizing the atmosphere/ocean system, and it is going to have an effect...

Exactly what that effect will be, and what will happen at what points on the Earth, well, I am not a climatologist. I reckon it will manifest as more weather weirdness. Further, it seems quite possible that some sort of tipping point will be reached at which point there will be no doubt as to what is going on.

Why are you skeptical of the forecasts, and again, which forecasts are you talking about?

Ok, let's just say the 4 degree weather increase with all the terrible things that go along with it.

I ought to have been more specific.

As for why am I skeptical, well, the doom and gloom of it seems rather extravagant. It seems extreme to me, without knowing much about it. As such, my inclination is to call BS.

As well, it also seems like to me that we won't know what will be until it is. Forecasting the future in any field of endeavour is hard. It's easy to say the climate will change (well duh, it always has), but it's hard to say precisely how it will change. Rather like dying. We all know we're going to die. How precisely anyone is going to die though, that's a pretty hard call. We can give predictions of how a person is likely to die, but really anything from Mack truck to meteorite could happen and we won't know until we know. The analogy doesn't completely hold up in the climate change and increased CO2 situation, other than we know that things will heat up. What effect exactly that will have, there is much speculation, but what exactly it will be, no one knows.

My sketicism applies to the forecasts of what will happen, not that there will be change.

I've been thinking about this a lot myself. Certain trends are extremely worrying, like the arctic ice, but for the most part things just look the same as always (with just a somewhat crappier economy than pre-2008). My own feeling is that the general trend is going to be worse, but since this is an experiment with no precedent, who knows? Both the peak oil and climate change things are going to hit hard, relatively quickly... Just that "relatively" is measured in decades. From a historical or geological perspective, it's fast.

I am hugely in favor of resilience, but you have to live your life all the same. If you want a kid, have a kid, just don't expect that their life is going to be materially better than your life, or that the world they are being born into is not going to face major challenges. But hey, my grandfather fought in WWII, even my father was in the Navy in Vietnam (as a mechanic), while I've sat out any sort of conflict and not had any threat of being conscripted. Then again, I've struggled to find a job that pays well while my father had a house and family by my age. Every era has its own challenges.

I think that we, here, are realistically seeing the trends, but they generally play out more slowly than our psychological reaction to them. There are exceptions like the 2008 mess, but in general things don't go to hell in one year or even 10 years. We are all watching the PO and climate thing play out.

You don't have to know exactly which bones will get broken in which places, to know that having your children get hit by a truck travelling at 50 m.p.h. is an experience you do not want to happen.

Its the same sort of thing with climate warming. It will do nasty things, but just who gets hurt worst when is something you'll only find out when it happens. And rather like being hit by a truck at 50 m.p.h. you'll probably prefer being ignorant about the exact consequences rather than finding out the hard way.

More CO2 will warm the planet more. How much CO2 it takes to warm it 4 degrees has quite a lot of uncertainty about it. (Somewhere between another 100 and another 600 ppm are the plausible extremes at the moment. )

A warmer planet will have more extreme weather events. Whether that mainly manifests in more hurricanes, worse droughts and floods, more tornadoes, bigger hurricanes and tornadoes, hurricanes and tornadoes in places that never used to have them etc. is something that we'll only get to find out for sure by seeing it when it happens.

4 degrees might be something our children get to experience as a result of our choices, or it might be something our great grandchildren get to experience as a result of our, our children's and our grandchildren's choices, but if BAU continues to be the choice, it will happen.

One needs to put the forecasts into perspective. About 20,000 years ago, at the Last Glacial Maximum, it's been estimated that the Earth's average temperature was about 5 or 6 degrees C colder than what humanity experienced during our burst of civilization these past 8,000 years. The climate change projections suggest that a doubling of greenhouse gases, most of which is CO2, would increase global temperature about half that. But, there are different results from the various modeling groups and each such model has a range of projections, not one single result. Worse, there's no guarantee that the increase in those gasses would stop at the doubling point. Add in the fact that there is a delay between the changes to the atmosphere and the steady state response, the experience of climate change we now see is only the beginning.

To use your analogy, with a large population, one can calculate statistically what the probability of death is for an individual or a certain age. That is not a prediction of the date of death or even a the year in which one might die. Climate is the statistics of weather and the changes in climate will impact your weather, but the projections can't say what your weather will be like in 10 or 20 years, only how the average might change in a region. But, we are already seeing a rapid decline in Arctic sea-ice extent, a change which is occurring much faster than most model experiments projected. Even so, most modeling experiments did show that the greatest change would be at the highest latitudes, a result which has been found repeatedly since the 1980's. It appears that the Arctic hasn't been completely free of sea-ice since the last interglacial period, the Eemian, so humanity is messing with some really basic characteristics of both climate and weather.

Sad to say, I don't think you are going to find an answer to your question as presented...

E. Swanson

Not sure if someone answered this question I had the other day, but I was interested in a few good books looking at climate through the ages. Temp, water level, CO2 levels against time but with lots of other information or guesses as to what was going on in each age. Thanks again.

As the late climatologist Dr Stephen Schneider used to say:

"Doom and gloom vs CO2 is plant food are the two least probable outcomes of the likelyhood distribution. But I admit, it is my predudice, I do not like to gamble a 10% change of doom and gloom with humanities life support system."

Think about it and look up one of his presentations on Youtube, he was a great science communicator.

If you are comparing Weather forecasts to climate change forecasts, there is no comparison.

Future climate change is a calculation of changing factors that determine the earths energy budget.

Have you considered a new fiance... it might be better than no happiness. Trust me, divorce is expensive. Oh, and so are kids. With or without climate change, my hunch is that there is a 90-95% Likelihood that you probably aren't ready for that yet. Maybe get a sailboat and sail around the world first. You might even learn a thing or two about how likely climate change is first hand. If nothing else it's a good way to clear your mind.


I can suggest a study of the past. Look for articles about the mid-Miocene (3 million years ago) and the mid-Pliocence thermal maximum, which was about 15 million years ago. They were notably warmer, and life did not vanish from the earth. That should calm the sense of dread and panic that sometimes overflows this blog.

Sea level in those times was 75 ft higher than now though, so study of boat building may be warranted :-) Google can find lots of references on that.

Nobody is talking about "life vanishing from the earth". Even if we destroy 90% of the biosphere, life will prevail. Our agricultural civilization, on the other hand... that has only happened and been around for the last 10,000 years due to extraordinary climate stability. So you can say goodbye to that, in the (very probable) case that wheat, corn and rice will be unable to cope with the new climate conditions.

Last year was a disaster for wheat, corn, and soy due to heat and dry conditions. Is there any reason to believe things will be better this summer? Winter here in mountains of Colorado, which use to end about May, ended in February last year. We lucked out with some good rains in July. But I fear our luck may run out this year. Sure. It is possible that 2012 was some kind of freak anomaly. But we are on the edge here with very little snow. Normally the big snows occur in March and April. But I fear it will be too warm.

I very much hope I am wrong but for me climate is not some abstract intellectual problem for the future. It is personal and it could be devastating in the very near future.

Yes, I agree, that's what I meant. I didn't re-read my comment and now I see it came out wrong. What I meant to say is that the "sense of dread and panic" the above poster is reffering to, is completely justified. Not because we fear that "life will vanish" but because our agriculture depends on a very narrow margin of specific climate conditions to support a very specific set of plants. "Life" as such will surely thrive, in different forms, just as it had 15 million years ago when it was warmer. Our civilization, which is dependent on wheat, corn, rice and soy, will not.

I was just reinforcing your comment and I don't think your comment came out wrong. Life will thrive in some form. I just don't know if human life will thrive. Anyway, why should human beings be exempt from extinction? However, the vanishing of the earth around me as I have known it in all its beauty and abundance bothers me. I know that is not completely rational and maybe it is not rational at all. But I feel what I feel.

I do feel dread and very rarely do I listen to the weather as it is usually some celebration of how nice and warm it is for this time of year. I swear one of the weathermen in Denver seemed actually ecstatic last year with all the broken records.

This is way before Homo Sapiens stalked the earth, so it is not meaningful to say that life existed under these conditions.

100% they are underestimating. The latest findings are actually heading towards the target, but they will need a coupla years to be publicly recogniced.

The only guaranty in life is there is no guaranty except death and that's on any subject you want to pick.

Not sure why you'd believe the random posters here if you don't accept the science.

Me, I think there's probably a 90% chance climate change is going to be worse than predicted, simply because the track record shows the forecasts have been very timid compared to the reality. However, I also think it's very likely that it will unfold in complex and unexpected ways; I wouldn't want to bet any money on exactly what will happen where or when.

As for the reason you're asking...get pre-marital counseling. Much better bet than asking strangers on the Internet. Kids or no kids is a dealbreaker for many couples. Maybe you can compromise. (Maybe one, as Bill McKibben suggested.) If your fiancee wants a large family, maybe you could have one or two kids, and adopt or foster others. But if compromise is not possible, or this issue reveals a huge difference in your values...better to find out before you tie the knot.

As for the reason you're asking...get pre-marital counseling.

I just had to laugh! This is after all, The Oil Drum, where we have Discussions about Energy and our Future... with a little pre-marital counseling thrown in for good measure.

Where else on the entire internet will you be able to find that combo?!


Well, honestly, the solutions we seek in regards to energy and our future, can be found via therapy.

Well adjusted healthy self-loving individuals do not engage in the behavior that drives so many of our problems. The same people are not paralyzed into inaction addressing what comes up by feelings of fear or hopelessness.

Most here agree, if I may presume, that the solutions are known. Consume less. Drive less. Insulate. Mass transit. Eat better. Adjust your lifestyle, etc etc.

To answer the question "Why doesn't everyone, or why don't I, just do these things?" the answer will come from knowing thy self, and the diagnosis of our sick sick society, made accessible thru a good therapist.

I'm only seeking the opinion of posters here.

I do accept the science. I'm skeptical of the predicted outcomes of that science. It seems clear enough to me that the predictions based on the science in this area is a haphazard business at best. I do not doubt that the world will get warmer as a result of increased carbon. I'm not one of those people. Then again, maybe I am. In any event, time shall tell. I, for my part, will be watching for the truth of things. I hope that TOD or some equivalent exists going forward to ensure that I'm able to watch with some acceptable degree of accuracy, resolution and precision to guage in the accuracy of today's predictions.

I am skeptical only because I think the climate scientists, generally, have underestimated the speed with which the globe is warming. I am referring mainly to the official bodies like the IPCC.

When the evidence is overwhelming with respect to warming, there is a certain point when one should err on the side of believing in the existence and very real danger of global warming. I think that it is pretty improbable that my house will burn down this year but I choose to pay increasingly expensive insurance. Same goes for my car. There are those who want to do nothing because they claim it is too expensive. Even assuming it is true that a serious attempt to reduce global warming would reduce global GDP by a few percent, that seems like a trivial amount to pay given the probable consequences of doing nothing.

Besides, as has been stated many times, GDP is a pretty bogus measure of well being anyway.

Do you garden? Just think about the impact of longer, more intense droughts; early spring warm spells that encourage budding, followed by killing frosts; ever more intense gully-washers; hardiness zones moving northward to where the soils are not at all suitable for crops. If it does absolutely nothing else, CC will have is having a huge impact on our ability to grow food - especially on an agro-industrial scale. And it will, of course, absolutely do much else.

I often wonder, and not meaning to be personal, how can one be properly skeptical on a scientific topic without having studied it in depth yourself? How can someone properly doubt the studied knowledge of the experts without having done the same level of studying yourself? There is a huge disconnect.

True skeptics know in detail what they are talking about but still don't agree with mainstream opinion. The rest are just septics, fake skeptics: not knowing what they're talking about but still disagreeing based on gut feeling, religeous reasons or ideology.

fake skeptics: not knowing what they're talking about but still disagreeing based on gut feeling, religeous reasons or ideology.

That's what I have a problem with too. It's like having an electrician tell someone their circuit keeps popping off because there is too much load on it, and the person says, "I don't believe you." Most people take experts on their word, but for some folks climatologists (that have gathered an amazing array of data from the field in support of their position of human induced AGW) are evidently not considered professional enough to warrant accepting their pronouncements.

Well, even if someone is highly advanced in some specialty, there are all the other areas of life to deal with as well as they can get by.

There is a very good reason for intuition and gut feelings.. our warning systems can lie to us, but they can also actually do their jobs well, and save us from trouble we could never have calculated or proven.

And then there are folks who offer proof, and end up being wrong. As Twain said, 'What gets us in trouble ain't what we don't know, but what we know for certain that just ain't so!'

I think a huge piece of the climate problem now is that it has to take folks mired in a cultural conservatism straight out of the whole definition of the world they know.. it's like asking someone to imagine a color they've never seen.

Sure, some people's gut tells then that humans absolutely cannot change the climate because (as individuals) we are so small we can't possibly have an effect. This gut feeling is often fueled by religious and/or ideological leanings and while they may be sure of it, they are also dead wrong.

In general gut feelings are a nice tool to get by day to day decisions but it is worthless on scientific topics. For example, in The Netherlands, we have a yearly national science quiz and I answer the questions twice: first on gut feelings and second by using and looking up the required math, physics and chemistry. My gut feelings are almost always wrong, unless I studied/read about the topic before.

Fine.. so science wins on a science test. ..particularly one that, it sounds like, tries to find questions whose answers would be counterintuitive, no? We love to trick ourselves, like those optics and visual games that show us the boundaries of perception, assumption and analysis.. and those are PRECISELY, (and scientifically) our way to practise living in a world which will throw tricky questions at us, and if we paid attention, our 'gut feelings' will be informed enough about the slippery areas so we can make a good choice.

Your gut feelings (which is to say the compounded result of all the experiences your body will apply to this reaction) have to tell you how to read character, tone of voice and body language everyday, whether it's your wife or a perfect stranger, the way the steering wheel feels this morning, or the combination of several news stories. I would bet your gut feelings are more right and are a better tool for making 'just those daily survival decisions' than you give them credit for.

I'm really NOT saying that we ignore the science at all.. just not to dismiss the viscera that is also a key part to your understanding of the world, especially where you get up to the edge of the unknown. Relegating it to mere 'religious and ideological' blindness is an unfortunate blindspot in itself. I don't think that original and vital science is even really possible without it.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” - Albert Einstein

Your gut feelings (which is to say the compounded result of all the experiences your body will apply to this reaction) have to tell you how to read character, tone of voice and body language everyday, whether it's your wife or a perfect stranger, the way the steering wheel feels this morning, or the combination of several news stories. I would bet your gut feelings are more right and are a better tool for making 'just those daily survival decisions' than you give them credit for.

I agree for simple and daily use, but not for complex issues like complex systems science (which climate science is as is medicine) or emotional topics where strong ideological or religious feelings are at play (also climate science). Like you say, past experiences and lessons influence the gut feeling which can lead you astray when things get emotional.

I also agree that, if Einstein really said that, then I'm pretty sure that he meant that a knowledgeable mind can trust it's intuition while exploring the unknown. I also don't think it applies to topics where the rational mind already knows a lot about which, in case of climate science, we for a huge part do. So it comes down to the areas in climate science where it borders the edge of the unknown, we're talking about local and regional effects, cloud effects and aerosols, however the bulk i.e. the big picture does not depend on advances in these areas.

There really is not that much space for a true skeptic to move around. E.g. it is highly unlikely that the actual sensitivity will be outside 2 to 4.5 C per doubling of CO2 while the gut feeling of septics tells many of them it must be around 1 C. Intuition and gut feeling does simply not trump multiple lines of evidence of the contrary.

I strongly agree with you (and Einstein). I am an engineer but my primary mode of operation is intuitive. Once this caused me great anxiety as I felt like a fraud of some sort, but over time I learned to see it as a strength. I can work analytically too, and the combination of analysis and intuition is the most powerful of all. Either one alone is vastly inferior.

I believe it is also something Greer has commented on - that we pretend the things we cannot measure do not exist or do not matter, and so our view is distorted and limited to only those things we can measure by the means we have defined.

I see this all the time in the cult of process and procedure that has infested our culture - it is blind to our best assets, which are the knowledge, skill and experience of people.

Sure, some people's gut tells then that humans absolutely cannot change the climate because (as individuals) we are so small we can't possibly have an effect. This gut feeling is often fueled by religious and/or ideological leanings and while they may be sure of it, they are also dead wrong.

NO, no, you are the one that is dead wrong Styno. It is not the gut that tells people that they cannot turn climate change around it is common sense. Every indicator they see tells them that, in spite of the tiny efforts of a few individuals, the world as a whole is doing everything it possibly can to make the situation worse.

World Resources Institute identifies 1,200 coal plants in planning across 59 countries, with about three-quarters in China and India

And you think your little effort is going to make a difference? Well bless your heart. ;-)

Ron P.

No Ron, I'm talking about the hordes of people who think we cannot have an impact on climate whatsoever, not even using the thousands of coal plants.

But regarding your point about individual action: we started it step by stemp with one coal plant at a time, can't we unstart it step by step as well? We've got to break out of the chicken and egg problem somewhere... Let's start by making as much individual choices to make coal plants superfluous as possible and try to get others to do it as well. It's a small step for man...

I gave a basic presentation yesterday about saving energy to a bunch of middle aged and older people. They were all locals in a mid-sized town, everything is reachable by bike. I started asking why they all came by car (I was the only one on a bicycle). Surprised looks everywhere....

There's ample room for the first big steps.

With some hesitation, I point out that you are talking past each other here:

humans absolutely cannot change the climate

cannot turn climate change around

Those Styno refers to do not think or feel that those 1,200 coal plants could have any impact on the climate, whereas those Ron refers to realize there's nothing individuals can do to thwart the impact of those plants on the climate.

clifman - I think you're correct. And there's another area where we tend to do similar: what we COULD be doing to improve the future and what we WILL DO. If we shut down every coal-fired plant tomorrow it might not prevent all the negative effects of the last 100 years coming our way but it would be beneficial. OTOH that obviously has zero chance of happening. Thus the frustration level that slips into our conversations from time to time.

OTOH that obviously has zero chance of happening. Thus the frustration level that slips into our conversations from time to time.

Considering that there are about 1200 new coal fired powered plants being planned around the world, I'd say the chance is somewhat less than zero... With that in mind, what's a little little frustration amongst friends?

And on top of that, there are a lot of stories going round about Germany planning 23 or so new coal plants (which they attribute falsely to the nuclear phaseout) but they forget to mention that 13 of those have already been blocked. I guess this might effect some of the other planned coals plants as well.

it's like asking someone to imagine a color they've never seen.

You mean like infrared? Sir, I have some goggles for you >;-)

fake skeptics: not knowing what they're talking about but still disagreeing

Yep. It sounds better in a resumé, but ignorance + opinion ≠ skeptic

You're quite right of course. However, I get a vote and that makes all the difference.

Scary isn't it?

I just did a little test that shows just how messed up our reliance on our powers of human perception is. I don't think I can reproduce it here, but it's illustrative of the problem.

Test Your Brain
This is really cool.

(I love this part.. Its absolutely amazing!)

Count every "F" in the following text:



Count them again.

WRONG, THERE ARE 6 -- no joke..


Really, go Back and Try to find the 6 'F's before you scroll down.

The reasoning behind this is further down.

The brain cannot process "OF".


Incredible or what?

Anyone who counts all 6 'F's on the first go is a genius.

Three is normal, four is quite rare.

Send this to your friends.
It will drive them crazy.!
And keep them occupied
For several minutes..!

Everyone in my office, but one, got the answer 3 initially. We literally can't see what's right in front of us. Which causes me to wonder what the scientists are missing... Thus skepticism. They too are human right and subject to the same blindness even though they are trained and more skilled than most at addressing the epistemological problems that present themselves.

I counted 6 F's without scrolling down and without being a genius.

It's a foolish analogy. For this test you know what the outcome must be so if your outcome !=6 you know you missed something. In case of global warming you think science must be somehow missing the big one but noone knows it yet. It has nothing to do with skeptisism and everything to do with wishfull thinking.

Look, complex systems science isn't a house of cards, in complex systems science there are many independend lines of evidence that lead to the same conclusion. Take climate sensitivity, it is not only determined by physical models but also from different modern observations and different paleoclimate records. All of those point to a climate sensitivity of 2 to 4.5C for a doubling of CO2.

Let's assume that basic physics of each tiny subject of the climate is wrong. I.e. atmospheric circulation does not follow from fluid dynamics on a spinning ball with graviy and a point heat source, or the measured properties of CO2 absorption and emission are wrongly expressed in the line-by-line calculations, of biophysical processes like photosythesis does not work like biologists say or glacier and ice-cap dynamics are way wrong because ice does not melt when it heats up etc etc. And models are wrong (but useful) so you leave them out, then the outcome of the climate sensitivity is still 2 to 4.5 C per doubling of CO2. Nothing has changed except you miss a great opportunity to learn a lot.

Multiple lines of evidence from different science diciplines trumps 'your wondering what scientists are missing'.

Is it possible that tens of thousands academics consisting of several generations from a multitude of scientific fields (physics, chemistry, astronomics, statistics, biology) after many decades of research collectively blind, missing the real reason when all those lines of evidence point to a logical origin? Yes, it is very remotely possible, but that chance is many orders smaller than the chance that just not wanting to believe it is more correct.

A proper skeptic would recognise the difference between solid evidence and wishful thinking.

Btw, you may have a right to vote and use it to vote the problem away but unfortunately physics, my dear, doesn't care about your predudice nor about democracy.

Is it possible that tens of thousands academics consisting of several generations from a multitude of scientific fields (physics, chemistry, astronomics, statistics, biology) after many decades of research collectively blind, missing the real reason when all those lines of evidence point to a logical origin? Yes, it is very remotely possible, but that chance is many orders smaller than the chance that just not wanting to believe it is more correct.

Good points!


On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground
Svante Arrhenius
Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science
Series 5, Volume 41, April 1896, pages 237-276.

Yeah, the test doesn't come through as well in text. However, as i noted, only one person counted 6 in my office. Clearly humans can be fooled by their perception of what is right before them.

As well, you clearly misunderstood by what meant by the fact that I, and everyone else votes. The scientists who have the most reliable views on matters like climate change won't be the ultimate arbiters of what is done to respond to climate change. Politicians are. Politicians respond to voters not scientists. Thus the problem and the problem of the perceptions of reality that is held by voters. The vote will matter a great deal more in our collective response to climate change than reality properly perceived by scientists until such time as it is obvious to everyone in an unambiguous clear fashion.

As well, with respect to your comments on skepticism, what if there is a systemic flaw in the perception of the world (say like the way that the very small was viewed before the discovery of Quantum Mechanics by Einstein)? Is it impossible that such a similar flaw in the perception of the world that is unknown in climate science that would radically change predictions if it were known? Is that utterly impossible and purely wishful thinking? I wonder...

Or do we really know everything already? Really? It doesn't take everything being wrong for the model to be considerably off. I think it's possible that one little piece of the puzzle being off by a wee bit is enough to throw the predictions out the window. At least, it certainly seems like it's not implausible. I could well be wrong though, but I'm comfortable with being humble about my capabilities that way.

Yeah, the test doesn't come through as well in text

I have to admit that I passed this one but failed many similar tests before, perhaps it's because English is not my native tongue.

As well, you clearly misunderstood by what meant by the fact that I, and everyone else votes.

Ok, sorry that I misunderstood. I agree that the voters and politicians have the latest say about the actions (other then what we do personally). However deciding what to do is something completely different from whether the problem exitst. Many skeptics don't like the proposed solutions and therefore try to ignore or reason away the problem as a whole. Unfortunately physics does not work that way.

what if there is a systemic flaw in the perception of the world

It is possible, however the chance is extremely small. Why? Because the basic physics principles underlying climate science are also successfully applied to other fields. Thermodynamics, gravity, quantumdynamics are the foundation of almost all science. I.e. if we don't know how the quantummechanical properties of di-pole molecules well, how can we understand how lasers work, or air to air heat seeking missiles? In fact climate science is so well established because the physics simply works in a multitude of fields. E.g. the military has spent a huge amount of research in understanding the IR properties of our atmosphere to develop good heat seeking missiles.

A hell of a lot of things we take for granted around us (microwave ovens, computers, internet, cell phones, cd-players, weather prediction, etc) only work because we understand the basic physics. The chance of it all working out so well while still having understood the underlying physics completely wrong is near infinitely small.

Or do we really know everything already?

No, we don't understand everything and we don't need to while still be able to get 'it' mostly right.

I think it's possible that one little piece of the puzzle being off by a wee bit is enough to throw the predictions out the window.

No, you haven't understood the inplications of multiple independent lines of evidence yet, nor do you understand how complex systems science works. Again, climate science is not comparable to a house of cards.

I'll give an analogy:
Medicine is a complex systems science as well and like climate science the medical community does not fully understand how cancer works or even how it's triggered. Still we know for certain that smoking increases the risk of developing cancer significantly. It's that multiple independent lines of evidence again. As a side note: like climate change, vested interests have tried at length to use the lack of knowledge to argue that we have no knowledge, that we have not enough knowledge to start taking action on smoking. See a pattern?

So when a team of cancer doctors come to the consensus position that this lumb in your belly is a dangerous cancer, do you appeal to intuition and disregard their conclusion? Maybe the doctors are wrong, they sure don't know everything and they will agree to that too. Even worse, these doctors may give you only a 70:30 that their diagnosis is correct. Yet, do you gamble on the 30% that their consensus position is in error? Likewise, the IPCC concludes that the climate is warming with >95% certainty and with >90% certainty that humans are the main cause. Do you gamble our life support system on the less then 10% chance they're wrong?

Medicine and climate change are complex problems which is the reason why we have to listen to those who studied it, the capabilities of our gut feelings are not designed for these sort of problems.

Oh my God, I was wrong, I was sooo wrong. Climate change is not true!



One thing we know for certain is that as the human population increases things will become more precarious. Feeding a population of 7 billion and counting is already proving to be a problem - not that there aren't enough food supplies but it seems to be a problem anyway. Agricultural land is already being degraded (a quick google turned up this http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/land_de...) so the land that remains will have to be more intensively farmed to maintain current production.

The human race is looking to have a pretty rough ride as it is. Even if climate forecasts are exaggerated with the effects of climate change that we're facing already things are going to be tough. For example - melting Himalayan glaciers, melting Andean glaciers, melting icesheets in both the South and North pole, increasing desertification, severe droughts and floods in crop producing areas, the list goes on.

Humans are pretty resilient but they can only be pushed so far before things start to turn nasty.

Wet One, you might find this helpful. It's courtesy of this post from Neven's Arctic Sea ice blog.

I felt a pit in my stomach as a result of that.

But that, at least, is not a prediction.

When will the calamity that I can take stock in and accept as "proof" that the predictions are correct, I don't know. I don't know what that calamity will look like either. Planetwide agriculture collapse would do, but oh my god, what a calamity to have occur, to prove a prediction.

I know, it's ridiculous, but it's there all the same. And it's the same with most of the humans out there. Many of whom vote, and a few of whom have a great deal of influence and very vested interests in NOT doing anything about climate change.

What a predicament...

Well it looks like the models are wrong here, but taking a step back and it appears they are actually largely correct. The models, who operate primarily from basic physics principles give an outcome that a) has the correct sign, b) they show that the Arctic can be ice-free, c) it could happen before 2100. These results may seem uncontroversial but they actually show that by applying the the basic physics the Arctic ice disappears with increased CO2, it's just that the speed at which it happens is underestimated. These simple conclusions are actually a great deal if you think about it: why do models produce reducing sea ice coverage from basic phyics when CO2 increases like in reality, why can sea ice completely disappear in models and why not much later?

This is ONE OF the examples I think of, when I say there is a 100% likelyhod predictions are below target. None of them was even close.

Obama nominates REI chief executive as secretary of the interior

President Obama on Wednesday nominated Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) chief executive Sally Jewell to head the Interior Department, praising her as a leader who “knows the link between conservation and good jobs.”

The choice of Jewell, who began her career as an engineer for Mobil Oil and worked as a commercial banker before heading a nearly $2 billion outdoors equipment company, represents an unconventional choice for a post usually reserved for career politicians from the West.
.... Obama highlighted her experience working in the oil fields of Colorado and Oklahoma, as well as in the executive offices of a major retailer of recreational gear.

“So even as Sally has spent the majority of her career outside of Washington, where, I might add, the majority of our interior is located,” Obama said, prompting laughter, “she is an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future.... She knows the link between conservation and good jobs. She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress; that in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand.”

From an 2005 profile in the Seattle Times: A profile of REI's Sally Jewell: Team player at her peak

Jewell graduated in 1973 from Renton High School. She earned a mechanical-engineering degree from the University of Washington and, one week later, married Warren Jewell, a fellow engineer.

The newlyweds joined the profession during an engineer shortage and received nine dual job offers. They accepted positions with Mobil Oil, heading straight to the oil fields of southern Oklahoma.

Jewell stayed with the company for three years, but bigger opportunities lay ahead. The 1980s marked a boom time for the oil industry, with record prices fueling new exploration.

Banks began to hire engineers to understand the value of the collateral in the ground, and Jewell signed on as petroleum engineer for Rainier Bank. "Rainier wanted to participate," Jewell said, "but only if they could make smart loans."

Rainier became one of the few banks that didn't fold due to bad loans to the oil industry, and Jewell's job gave her added exposure, she said.

Sinkhole update ...

Residents: Insurance Policies Canceled

Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon said Tuesday his office is making a general inquiry into allegations that insurers are not renewing homeowner’s policies of residents evacuated due to the large sinkhole in Assumption Parish.

... a non-renewal letter cited “increased hazard” and a “substantial change in risk” after a resident filed a claim due to tremor-induced damage. The claim was also denied. The resident and company agreed to part ways.

For once a clean coal experiment, that might actually lead to something clean:
New Coal Technology Harnesses Energy Without Burning, Nears Pilot-Scale Development"
I'll just paraphrase rather than quote. The proposed noncombustion process resembles iron smelting, in that iron oxide and powdered coal are reacted, to form iron and CO2. The CO2 is allegedly 99% pure, suitable for compression and disposal. The resulting iron particles, can be reacted with air, to reform the iron oxide part to be ready for the next load of coal.

Sounds, intersting. Concentrating the CO2 is a big part of the effort for CCS (of course you still got to deal with sequestering, which is probably a big challenge at scale).

If you don't even consider CO2, just getting the coal out of the ground is an environmental disaster and travesty, and a crime against humanity.

There is no "clean coal" - don't kid yourself.

I'm not kidding myself. Reporting what I saw. I think we're gonna burn the stuff anyway. Something like this might reduce the damage done. Clearly large scale mining is always a problem. Especially when the cheapest possible method is used.

Especially when the cheapest possible method is used.

What other method would a business use?

The coal and iron oxide are heated to high temperatures, where the materials react with each other. Carbon from the coal binds with the oxygen from the iron oxide and creates carbon dioxide, which rises into a chamber where it is captured. Hot iron and coal ash are left behind. Because the iron beads are so much bigger than the coal ash, they are easily separated out of the ash, and delivered to a chamber where the heat energy would normally be harnessed for electricity. The coal ash is removed from the system.

I don't see how they can efficiently extract heat from the process. If you have to use twice as much coal to get the same heat transferred to boiler water it's not an improvement.

There are lots of possible ways to get this effect e.g. separate oxygen from air and then burn in a fuel/CO2/O2 mix. Its not new technology thats needed, its the taxation to make it profitable to sequester CO2 rather than emit to atmosphere. Once a large enough price is put on carbon emissions we'll actually find out which of the many possible ways of capturing it work best.

Without a carbon tax no technology will ever make it worth doing, and existing technology can do it, once the price is right. Capture is by far the easiest part of the process to do, there are ideas about sequestering, but all can be expected to have significant issues once they are actually being used, and above all, it will require a moderate carbon tax before the price can be right.

A follow on from stories I posted yesterday

Clash over JPS - Paulwell said to be at odds with Mian over status of 360-megawatt project

Reports have surfaced that a clash of wills between outgoing Director General of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), Ahmad Zia Mian, and Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell has played a huge role in the confusion which has surrounded the Jamaica Public Service Company's (JPS) proposed 360-megawatt (MW) project.

High-level sources in the energy sector have claimed that Mian, who leaves office on Friday, has rebuffed efforts by Paulwell to give the JPS another extension to finalise plans to carry out the multibillion-dollar project.

OUR bows out, but JPS not giving up on new plant

The Office of Utilities Regulation has formally cancelled its agreement with JPS for development the 360 MW liquid natural gas plant, but the power company said Tuesday that the decision does not mean an end to the energy project.

Jamaica Public Service Company presented a modified version of the development to the OUR last Thursday, but would not say whether that plan still banks primarily on LNG for the plant ahead of feedback from the regulator on its proposal.

EDITORIAL - Cut the ..., Mr Paulwell

We are sick and tired of Mr Phillip Paulwell's approach to energy policy formulation that appears to us to be an amalgam of stalking horses, three-card tricksters, and loquacious bravado.

So, it is time for the minister to end the drawing room charade and come clean with the Jamaican people. There is far too much at stake for anything less.

This could get pretty interesting. I submitted a comment that has not been approved yet, not that I am expecting it to, seeing as it reads:

It is my hope that, the reason for the ministers apparent indecision is the legal bind in which he finds himself in that his stated preference for renewable energy cannot be pursued without running afoul of contractual arrangements with the JPS.

I have opined before in these forums that, the largest risk Jamaica faces in terms of electricity costs, is that of fuel cost escalation. Using the site indexmundi dot com to examine 10 year price charts for Colombian coal versus a simple average of three crude oil spot prices; Dated Brent, West Texas Intermediate, and the Dubai, reveals interesting facts. Starting from January 2003, while the price of oil rose from $30.77 per barrel to $132.55 in July 2008, the price of coal went from $29.83 per metric ton, to $170.75!

One reason for our current predicament is that when the current fleet of plants was built, crude oil was cheap but, oil costs have sky-rocketed over the years. Are we going to get caught in the same trap by investing in long term assets that, use fuels whose price we cannot predict or control?

The only way to avoid that risk is to seek to generate most of our electricity from indigenous renewable sources leaving imported fossil fuels to fill a backup or supportive role. It may cost more initially but, in the long term, may save us from the effects of rapidly increasing energy use in India, China and other rapidly expanding economies.

These ideas do not sit well with the editors of this newspaper as they have repeatedly espoused going after the source of electricity that is cheapest at the moment, namely coal. They steadfastly ignore any repercussions for pollution, global warming, sustainability, fuel cost escalation or energy independence, being soley focused on lowest cost electricity as a means for stimulating economic growth.

I keep hammering home the risk of fuel cost escalation, regardless of fuel choice, every chance I get.

From one of the articles posted yesterday, one commenter took a page straight out my playbook

Why Jamaica is not turning to SOLAR power is a great mystery. In GERMANY, cloudy, GERMANY, solar power provided 18 TWh (billion kilowatt-hours) of electricity in 2011. In May of last year, Germany set a world record for solar power production with 22 GW produced at midday on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 May 2012. This was a third of peak electricity needs on Friday and almost half on Saturday. Instead of talking about liquified natural gas or, God forbid, COAL---why not step into the 21st Century? Miss Sun gives you all the energy you will need.

Mona in New York
A visitor to your beautiful land since 1971

I have mentioned this German achievment in a comments I have submitted to articles in this newspaper some time ago.

Alan from the islands

Alan. Keep up the good fight. You may want to quote the chapter on solar from Jay Warmke's book "When the biomass hits the wind turbine".

It is a light fun read but makes a vital point- solar will CERTAINLY displace ff, since the cost of solar is getting near even, and is certain to go down, while the costs of ff are certain to go up, regardless.

Warmke makes a valid comparison of solar with cell phones, which went from nothing to near everything in a very short time- PV is about to do the same for the same reasons.

"Solar will succeed because it is the most abundant source of energy on the planet and will soon be the least expensive".

makes a vital point- solar will CERTAINLY displace ff, since the cost of solar is getting near even, and is certain to go down, while the costs of ff are certain to go up, regardless.

Excellent point! I must remember that and also must try to get my hands on that book. Thanks

Alan from the islands

In the face of uncertainty, I think we should spend tens of billions of dollars on solar, wind, and geothermal immediately. However, I wonder what will happen to the viability of things like solar when the cheap fossil fuel derived energy is no longer available for its manufacture. However, we know that continuing to use fossil fuels in the quantities now used is a path leading to certain disaster.

Bottom line: Renewables are fraught with uncertainty. But fossil fuel, especially coal is fraught with certainty. I will take some chance over no chance.

However, I wonder what will happen to the viability of things like solar when the cheap fossil fuel derived energy is no longer available for its manufacture.

This has lead me to wonder if there is an optimal time to invest in renewables. Invest too early and fossil fuels are still cheap the the renewable technology may still be getting better. Invest too late and the fossil fuel inputs to renewables have gone up in price thus making the renewables more expensive and most of the technology improvements have already be wrought out.

The technology improvements is the true wildcard . . . no one knows if or when they happen.

I think Warmke and I have the same simple logic in this situation;

1) PV is cheap and getting cheaper just as most any tech does in the face of the fact that people learn by doing, and where the stuff needed to make it is not a limiter (silicon and energy).

2) Coal (ff) is expensive and getting more expensive as we face up to its real costs (wasting the biosphere, drilling holes in the arctic).

3) So, PV electricity has got to (highly likely to) get cheaper than coal electricity.

4) That means solar is going to (likely to) drive ff out as a source of electricity.

I don't understand the oft-heard argument that PV will get more expensive as ff does. If we are making a thing that generates electricity cheaper than the electricity we are using to make it, then we are getting ahead in energy costs by making it- no?

I don't understand the oft-heard argument that PV will get more expensive as ff does.

The elements used to make PV panels are mined using diesel powered machinery. The materials are transported to factories in diesel powered trucks. The factories are powered by coal-fired electricity. The created PV panels are shipped with bunker fuel & diesel trucks.

As all of those fossil fuel inputs go up in price, they will raise the price of the PV panels.

Conversely, I don't understand this:

3) So, PV electricity has got to (highly likely to) get cheaper than coal electricity.

I know we would like it to get cheaper but there is no reason it has to get cheaper just because we would like that. I suspect it will get a little cheaper as we develop new technologies. But I think there are limits to how much cheaper it can get.

Or did you mean that it will get cheaper coal electricity because coal will become more expensive? That may happen eventually but not likely because there is an awful lot of coal still out there.

Interesting example of how tough communication is--maybe impossible?

Costs, What you say re ff and PV is all true. But.

What I am saying is -PV is made to make electricity. If the PV-made electricity turns out to be cheaper than ff-made electricity, that "cheaper" means that all that ff req'd to make the PV adds to less cost than all of the same needed to make ff electricity, That is, it's all relative, not absolute.

Then there is the cost of coal. What I said was that the cost of coal has to go up as we recognize it's full costs and quit the criminal game of ignoring most of them as we do today.

I think we all know that if we figure the true costs of coal, we leave it right where it is now.,

Except that none of the fossil fuel uses you mention are essential. Mining can be done with electric machines. Transportation can be electric (or even sail over water), the manufacturing plants can be electric or use gas instead of coal and oil.

The fossil fuels are used because they are still cheap for what you get. As they deplete, the price will go up. Energy from renewable sources will continue to drop for at least a while yet, and the lines will cross.

Lets think about the sensitivity to oil/coal price.
First the biggest cost of PV manufacturing is the capital cost of the plant and equipment, not the cost of materials. So we are talking mainly about the cost of high tech manufacturing stuff.

Sure most mining/transport today uses diesel power. Much of this could be replaced with electric power. And if/when oil gets expensive enough it will be. Same for most of the other energy inputs, the providers will use whatever source optimizes their business model. If one input goes up in price an investigation of alternatives will be made.

GTM showed a prediction for first tier production cost for Chines panels, reaching $.41/watt in 2015. At that price, it really is a balance of system game.

Let's not forget that PV tech is advancing rapidly. New techniques allow for thinner traditional wafers or roll-to-roll thin-film which require much less ff inputs. Also, mining of coal and other ff will get more expensive when diesel gets more expensive. Only technology has the option to overcome this, hence resource based energies (ff's) will lose from technologies based energies (pv, wind, thermo).

right on, Styno! You people obviously understand the situation- like Warmke says, solar is bound to win. So, that being the case, how come people aren't all moving their chips off of ff and on to solar??


Looking around me, I see plenty of people moving into PV. However I also see a lot of people who are simply not interested and don't yet see the truth staring in their eyes. I lost count of how many people just glaze out on me when I try to make the case that (at least in the Netherlands) PV has already reached grid parity due to high taxes, they will be cheaper out using PV but they only see the up-front cost.

Some don't have the money to get PV or isolation, they're locked in a downward spiral using FF's as they can't afford to get out. I've read an article that projected the poorly isolated older inner-cities will become the ghetto's of tomorrow because the rent/mortgage may be cheap, the monthly fuel bill is rising.

I'm sure there are other reasons as well.

Styno - have learned to read through many typos/misspellings here on TOD, and now realize English isn't your native language, so I point this out as constructive help going forward as you make excellent points here.

Isolation = the amount of sunlight received

Insulation = resistance to heat loss

(in layman's terms)

Sorry, yes, indeed English is not my native tongue. I sometimes have the sound of the right word in my head but can't find the actual word clearly. If you know what I mean. Anyway, insulation was the word I was looking for (isolatie is the Dutch word for insulation, sounds like isolation). Thanks!

One more typo atop the typos..

I think you meant

INsolation, which means 'Solar energy coming in', as opposed to

Isolation, meaning to 'keep separate', but is often translated to match to our

Insulation, since the ultimate effect is fairly equivalent. (derived, it seems from 'island', to make into an island)

Yes, of course! Mea culpa. Thanks, Bob. Hope Styno sees your correction of my 'incorrection'.

Surprise, surprise! My comment has showed up, albeit rather late in the day and now that the Thursday edition of the paper is on the web, it's a comment on yesterday's news. It ends up kind of like commenting at the end of a dying drumbeat in that, it gets seen by a lot less people than it would have, had it been posted earlier. To make matters worse it's at the very bottom of the page!

At any rate, I got another chance to hammer the point home from this piece:

Act now on energy - Private sector gives gov't ultimatum to online policy, OUR apologises to Paulwell

THREE OF the country's leading private-sector groups have given Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell and the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) 30 days to lay out a clear road map to secure massive reductions in electricity rates.

The Government was banking on the introduction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to reduce the cost of electricity by up to 40 per cent. However, the fate of the LNG project hangs in the balance following the withdrawal of the Government from the process.

Paulwell told the House of Representatives last October that he has "a firm assurance from the JPS (Jamaica Public Service Company) that they will undertake this LNG project within the timelines established".

He said the Government was tackling the matter of the nation's energy crisis and specifically the high price of electricity head-on.

At the time, Paulwell said the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) was obligated to bring into service by 2015 a new 360-megawatt gas-fired combined-cycle generation plant, providing new capacity to replace approximately 292 megawatts of aged plants.

I submitted a comment repeating this:

the largest risk Jamaica faces in terms of electricity costs, is that of fuel cost escalation. Using the site indexmundi dot com to examine 10 year price charts for Colombian coal versus a simple average of three crude oil spot prices; Dated Brent, West Texas Intermediate, and the Dubai, reveals interesting facts. Starting from January 2003, while the price of oil rose from $30.77 per barrel to $132.55 in July 2008, the price of coal went from $29.83 per metric ton, to $170.75!

Hopefully it might get approved early since, comments submitted this early seem to have a better chance of getting approved and at any rate, if they do, they will be seen by far more readers.

I just really don't want this information to be ignored in this debate.

Alan from the islands

The Myth of “Saudi America” Straight talk from geologists about our new era of oil abundance.

The popularity of the abundance narrative waxes and wanes, and its current ascendance comes primarily on the heels of a report by Leonardo Maugeri, a former oil-industry chief and currently a fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center. When his cornucopian fantasy came out, I smelled a rat (or at least a not-too-deeply buried fish). But the International Energy Agency jumped on the bandwagon with breathless, and equally fishy, forecasts of the coming “Saudi America.” Most of the media swallowed the story hook, line, and sinker, with even the usually sober Economist rising to the bait.

So what's wrong with this story? Maugeri's problems begin but don't end with an arithmetic blunder so dumb (he compounded a percentage decline incorrectly) it would make even Steve Levitt blush.

This is a great article. It has a couple of the Bakken charts from David Hughes' Econbrowser Report. But it has far more than that, explaining the economics of shale oil production.

Ron P.

Ron – An excellent find for sure and an easy read so everyone should give it a shot IMHO. And as great as the charts are I think the point made about not only the limited (and quickly diminishing) number of sweet spots but the number of total potential drill sites in the trend. A number that took something of a hit a few weeks ago when a Bakken well in a new area yielded a dry hole. And not because the well didn’t produce a commercial flow from the Bakken but because there was no Bakken formation in this area.

Pardon me for asking as it's a tricky question but I was wondering if there are any estimates of what the maximum number of Bakken wells will be? Also, does anyone know how long will it be before the formation is completely drilled out?

The only one I know of is in this article. Just click on the link I posted. It is in the second chart the author posted.

Ron P.

Hi Ron,

Webhubbletelescope also has found an estimate from James Mason, link below:


In that analysis the estimate is for about 40,000 wells for the Bakken to be completely drilled up (no more space for further drilling).

If we take the avereage of the 10000 well estimate and the 40,000 well estimate, we get 25000 wells. I would go with 25000 wells, but think we are likely to get to at least 20000 wells if real oil prices increase to about $200 per barrel(2012 $) by 2020.


DC, as you probably recall, there is something funny with Mason's Figure 5. The cumulative should be the integral of the annual production but the two don't match up.

The usual problem with these types of analyses is that without seeing the actual data, you just have to trust what they are doing. When they make mistakes (like everyone does) it's tough to figure out which way to go with it.


Yes I agree with your analysis (at the link below):


I also was intrigued by the possibility that a hyperbolic decline model might also be appropriate (another idea I got from your blog, The Oil Conundrum.)

My main point was that Mason predicts about 40000 wells at full saturation rather than the early EIA estimate of 10000 wells.

I tried to extend your research at my blog (link below):


I also made an attempt to model the Eagle ford Shale (which I have still not done a detailed post on) and that research suggested that a hyperbolic decline model may be more appropriate. I attempted a hyperbolic decline model for the Bakken (link below):


and my most recent update in an attempt to match the tight oil output predicted by the EIA:



I think that we are advancing the yardsticks here.

I am working on am incremental improvement to the diffusive decline model (related to hyperbolic decline) that introduces the Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process to diffusion. This is a real effect that slows down the diffusion at long duration via a drag factor.

DC - My first confusion: His figure 5 clearly shows a 10th year cum of 165 mbo and he states the average EUR is 546 mbo. Yet he states that by the 10th year the well as produced 64% of the EUR cum. Obviously by his own data it has only produced 30% of the EUR: 165 kbo/546 kbo. Am I reading the chart incorrectly?

Maybe I’m missing something else: his Figure 7 clearly shows how very uneven the distribution of Bakken production in ND really is in what he classified as mature oil generation region. It shows a relatively small area of high initial rate wells with the great majority of the area showing much lower rates and significant areas where there’s no production at all. He says: “Based on the land area, well development assumptions, and risk factors the number of wells for complete North Dakota Bakken well development is 38,980 wells.” It appears his primary assumption is that undrilled areas will yield results similar to those areas previously developed. Based upon his map that doesn’t appear credible IMHO. He goes on: “With an average well EUR of 500 Mbbl, the quantity of recoverable oil is 19.5 Bbbl." Again, undrilled wells in areas the industry has not chosen to drill yet will be as productive as the areas the oil patch has focused on for so many years? He’s certainly entitled to his opinion but the data he presents seem to argue against his position. And regardless of how high the EUR really is he clearly shows that 70% of it will come out of the ground at a very low rate: 25 - 50 bopd. Remember how oil patch economics work: a project’s ROR is determined by the NPV: net present value. Production from a well many years after it went on line adds very little to NPV and thus adds very little to the rate of return. Even using a modest discount factor of 10% the production beyond Year 10 adds almost nothing to the ROR. IOW more than half the EUR of a Bakken well is invisible to the investment value of the project. it might establish a nice steady cash flow in the distant future but does little to justify in initial capex investment. Think of it as putting your money into a CD that pays you 8% the first several years and then drops to 1% for the next 25 years. Would you look upon that as a great investment?

As far as Figure 10 goes it’s very misleading perhaps to the point of being intentionally so IMHO. Prudhoe Bay is a conventional field with almost all of its post development production is coming from existing wells. The ND Bakken “Field” is not a field. It is a trend. The vast majority of its post 4-year production has to come from new wells being drilled. Put in another perspective almost all the capex spent to develop PB was spent well before the field went into full production whereas the majority of Bakken capex is spent after the 4th year and requires continued if not increasing capex expendatures. Once PB was producing the oil price required to maintain that production (the LOE: Lease Operating Expense) rate was very low. But the drilling of new Bakken wells requires a sustained high price. He says: “In the case of a reduced well production rate and well development area, the 1.5 MMbbl/d oil production profile of the North Dakota Bakken closely resembles that of Prudhoe Bay.” The profiles may look similar but it a pure apples to oranges comparison. Even putting them into the same fruit category isn’t even appropriate IMHO.

Hi Rockman,

Remember that the cumulative is on the right axis. At 10 years it is about 350,000 barrels and at 30 years about 550,000 for the average well. So I get about 63.6 % of output by 10 years. Note that my own analysis suggests that the average well currently produces a cumulative of 210,000 barrels at 10 years and 261,000 at 30 years (about 80 % at 10 years). So the average well is less than half as productive as modelled by Mason.

I agree that the 40000 well estimate seems optimistic, it is based on a forecast by Continental Resources, would such a forecast be credible? You are much more familiar with the oil patch promoters than me, but based on previous comments by you, I would think they tend to be optimistic. Would 20000 or 25000 wells as I suggested in my previous comment sound more reasonable, especially if oil prices follow the trend since 2002 and rise to $300/barrel (in 2012 $) by 2020?

If my 210,000 barrel cumulative at 10 years estimate is correct, that is only 21 million dollars at $100 per barrel, about 150,000 barrels are produced in the first 3 years ($15 million @ $100/barrel). I have no idea how much the average Bakken well costs to bring online. From the link below (much of the data seems optimistic) they claim $10 million per well, I am not sure if the 5 million dollars over 3 years would be enough to induce an investment.


I also agree that the well productivity will decline over time, in my models
( http://oilpeakclimate.blogspot.com/ ) I assume the average well will decline by 0.5% each month from Feb 2013 going forward. At some point the oil price increase will not be enough to counteract the declining well productivity. I don't have a clear idea when that might happen.


Thanks DC. Sure enough I was looking at it cross-eyed. Typical geologist goof. But do you see what I think I saw: the assumption that all the undrilled acreage will be as productive as past efforts? He doesn't say that explicitly but his maps seem to indicate that.

And yes: promoters have to be very optimistic. But I don't hold that against them. For the last two days I've been at the North American Prospect Expo in Houston. There were over 400 companies at NAPE most of whom were pitching drilling deals. And as always on a promoted basis...typical: you pay 1/3 of the cost but earn only 25% of the production...the promoter gets the other 25% for free. Potential buyers walk up and down the aisle peeking but often not approaching a booth. Unless they have some candy on the table or some free magnets. I'm not kidding free wall magnets are a big draw. Again, a silly geologist thing. Shiny objects work well on us too. And occasionally some eye candy there too. After all, 99% of the buyers are middle aged+ men. LOL. And it if really want to see the flesh go to the Offshore Technology Conference. And bring plenty of protection. I know...rather crude. But it's the truth. I know of more than one marriage destroyed by convention stupidity.

Anyway, back to my point: promoters, and even geologists selling to their own management, have to be optimistic. Have you ever had a car salesman telling all the potential negatives of buying one of his cars? We all know its buyers beware...take nothing for granted. Like seeing a map that doesn't show a dry hole already drilled on their prospect. Yes...I've had more than one scumbag try that with me. The operative term is due diligence.

Yes, a great article, but it should have been more up-to-date on US and KSA oil production. The article said it is 6 and 9.5 mbpd respectively (3.5 difference) whereas the latest numbers are 6.9 and 9.1 ("only" a 2.2 mbpd difference).

Yes the author, I think, was using the 2012 yearly average rather than the data from the latest month reported, December 2012.

Ron P.

The author of the article, Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, is an expert on climate change, having written a text book on the subject:

Principles of Planetary Climate

I have a copy, which I have yet to read. Pierrehumbert is a frequent contributor at RealClimate. His concern regarding climate change is apparent in the article...

E. Swanson

Yes, great article, especially this:

Temporarily cheap and abundant gas buys us some respite—which we should be using to put decarbonized energy systems in place. It will only do us good if we use this transitional period wisely. We won't be much better off in the long run if cheap gas only succeeds in killing off the nascent renewables industry and the development of next-generation nuclear power.

Although I personally don't think that nuclear should be in the equation, I actually said something similar a few days back:

I always tell anyone who want't to listen: use some of the oil and gas to move as quickly as possible to a renewable energy economy and leave the rest in the ground. We'll be a few percent less rich but with a clean and sustainable future.

Edit: it appears that some do not agree with Pierrehumbert.

According to CO2now.org, January's CO2 levels measured in Hawaii at 395.55 ppm. No wonder its relatively warm in Alaska for being the coldest time of the year for the Northern Hemisphere.

Especially when you consider that the CO2 level in Alaska is actually higher than in Hawaii.


The atmosphere over the Arctic has hit a troublesome milestone: the concentration of CO2 has surpassed 400 parts per million. Stations across the region in Alaska, Greenland, Norway and Iceland have recorded the measurements that have surged since the winter and spring have brought a decline in CO2-absorbing vegetation.

That article was from May 31, 2012, however Hawaii readings are not expected to exceed 400 ppm until May 2014, so Alaska always has slightly higher CO2 readings than lower latitudes.

Where can current planetary O2 levels be found? thanks

For all:

Core labs presented yesterday at the Credit Suisse Energy Summit. I couldn’t find a link to the oral presentation but here is a transcript.


One interesting comment from the CEO…

Okay, looking at the value proposition and using Core Laboratories when our clients are exploring, appraising and developing, they are spending money. They start to get a return when they start producing the wellbore and remember our mission is two-fold. Number one, increasing production on a daily basis so we have a quicker return, but moreover and more importantly we are looking for them to produce those incremental barrels, this becomes more and more important as the petroleum provinces around the world age as many of you know we are peak oil guys back in 2002 February of 2002 we predicted that the globe would reach its maximum ability to produce crude oil at around 88 to 89 million barrels a day in the year 2008 and we think that’s exactly what happened. So, we think we are on that plateau right now and we use a 2.5% global decline curve rate net per year, so we need to add 2.25 million barrels just to stay even with that production. We think that can happen for the next two or three years but ultimately we will see production go into a decline. So, our mission is to optimize the fields that are out there of the 4000 fields of size producing around the world today we are in above 11 to 1200 of those fields. So, when we look at the budgets that we address since these are producing fields these are budgets tied to production enhancement and production and when we look at the capital budget pyramid these budgets tend to be a lot more stable and up here in the frontier in exploration area.

I know it's just nit-picking, but the world didn't produce 88-89 mbpd of crude in 2008. Nowhere near that amount. I presume he was referring to "total petroleum liquids".

At the cross-roads of peak oil and climate science we see a world of dogs and cats, living together but rather uncomfortably. On occasion this gets stirred up as in this Slate opinion piece by noted climate scientist and geo-physicist Raymond T. Pierrehumbert. The title is 'The Myth of “Saudi America”: Straight talk from geologists about our new era of oil abundance.'

In this piece Pierrehumbert discusses the issue of Bakken oil and gives kudos to Rune Likvern's analysis of Red Queen behavior in shale oil. At the end, he suggests a kind of "No Regrets" policy in that we move rapidly toward alternatives to oil, using the oil that we have right now to solve both the predicaments of oil depletion and AGW.

That's the way that climate scientists need to go forward. Sometimes it appears that they tend to dismiss oil depletion because it hurts their case for AGW, i.e. less CO2 emitted. But I think a 'kill two birds with one stone' policy is more effective.

Tequila Sunset

... Parts of the Arctic seem to be getting badly stratified (see chart). In winter, there is almost no density difference in the North Atlantic and the Barents Sea—as you would expect given the upwelling there. But in summer, the northern part of the Barents Sea is even more stratified than the tropical Atlantic and Pacific. And the Beaufort Sea’s stratification is high in both summer and winter. Dr Tremblay concludes that the replenishment of nutrients is already limited by stratification, especially at high latitudes, and that global warming will make things worse.

For Arctic productivity, the consequences are likely to be dire. Paul Wassmann of the University of Tromso looked at the production of organic matter by algae (“primary production”) in different parts of the European Arctic, and used a climate model to predict the future. The area is divided into five economic zones. By 2050, according to the model, primary production is likely to have fallen in three of them, to be flat in one and to rise only in the Russian zone (the Kara Sea and part of the Barents Sea).

A warming Arctic will not, in other words, be full of fish. It will simply be an ice-free version of the desert it already is.

My own little personal hypothesis (devised in part while watching whales migrate north and then south along my coast) was that more arctic ice melt would lead to a richer feeding ground for whales and other creatures. The local whales are already heading south later than they used to.

But there's the part about what will drive the mixing, bringing together oxygenated water, nutrients, and sunlight. I guess this guy is saying their is no mixing driver.

Maybe those methane sparker buoys could have a little propellor on the bottom to stir up the water?

Its probably a lot more complicated. I think the ice/seawater interface is pretty important biologically. Some nutrients are concentrated at that point. And the amount of sunlight the water gets is heavily modified by ice-cover. We are changing whole ecosystems here, and we don't even fully understand how it will evolve even with the biological complications. And then what happens during times of rapid change, you never reach an equilibrium state. If nutrients aren't efficiently recycled maybe after a few years they are depleted -but if things change too fast you never get to observe than endstate.

An interesting article, especially as it appears in The Economist. However, the idea that the Arctic will be too stratified doesn't address the reason it's stratified now. The sea-ice cycle removes salt from the surface, leaving fresher water on the surface at the end of the summer melt season. That part is the logic behind the article's claim of increased stratification. The flip side is that as the volume of sea-ice declines, there will be less melt water to feed the stratification. Also, with so much more open water, the winds above will be able to move much more water around the Arctic, which I think would also tend to mix the surface water with that below.

At some point, the reduction in sea-ice would result in a larger passage of open water to the north of Russia, thus a path for mixing flows between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. The Russian Zone might experience increased productivity, as suggested in the article. The less sea-ice cover at the end of the melt season would imply more open water time for the whole of the Arctic. The article also doesn't mention changes in the THC, which has historically driven the sinking waters in the North Atlantic and Nordic Seas. If the location of the THC shifts further into the Arctic as the sea-ice area declines, that could result in more water entering the Arctic that now occurs. It would be interesting to know if the model study included a realistic representation of the THC process.

HERE's a link (warning - big PDF) to Jean-Éric Tremblay's paper from the conference. I tried to download the file, but that failed 3 times...

E. Swanson

Official Report Says “A Major Nuclear Accident in France Would be an Unmanageable European Catastrophe”
Unlike the US, they secure spent fuel assemblies since they move to reprocess (?). Don't hear much about this process in Europe. In Germany, it was mentioned something like 50,000 armed guards are deployed when they move spent fuel.

Don't hear much about this process in Europe.

Don't hear about security in USA. Unless its a sleeping guard, then its an issue in the public space for a week. And on TOD - a topic ignored by the fission supporters.

In Germany, it was mentioned something like 50,000 armed guards

How many are sleeping on the job?

Months later and they still had not repaired the fence at Y-12 where the pacifists had unfettered access.


Not to mention Washington state where ... 4 hours , Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific


And about another 50 examples over the years of pacifists having unfettered access and when they were at nuclear sites finished via having to find the security people, Ireland, GB, Sweden, etc.

"You're in organized Crime!?"
"Well to tell the truth, we're really not that organized.." ~ Some Mobster Movie

From the plowshares article on Oak Ridge..

“Since July 28, the public has heard assurances from the Secretary of Energy on down that the Plowshares action was a wake-up call, that security lapses were intolerable, that attention to detail was paramount, that all steps were being taken to address the lessons learned—and yet the hole in the fence had not been discovered, nor had it been repaired. There is no excuse. None.

“The complete and utter failure of B&W Y12 to complete this simple, fundamental task, and the complete and utter failure of NNSA to make sure its contractor had completed this simple, fundamental task demonstrate a level of managerial incompetence that simply can not be allowed to continue at our nuclear weapons facilities. The problem is not with individuals making poor decisions, the problem is cultural. And to those who say it can be fixed, I ask, ‘What possible incentive could there be, short of an actual terrorist attack, that would provide greater motivation for B&W Y12 and NNSA to demonstrate their competence than the July 28 incursion?’”

UK 'Can Cope With Solar Superstorm'

If a solar superstorm struck the Earth, the effects on the UK would be "challenging but not cataclysmic", says a major report.

An expert panel for the Royal Academy of Engineering assessed the readiness of Britain to handle a huge outburst of radiation and particles from the Sun.

It found the nation's infrastructure to be reasonably well prepared. However, the report warns disruption is likely in a number of areas. Some power cuts would probably occur, for example.

Duke Reactor Shutdown Plan Shows Shale’s Sway Over Power

Really? Can't we just say they tried to upgrade the reactor and then botched the job?

Shale gas is cheap right now but the utility companies know that won't last forever. I don't think they make decisions on plants that last 40+ years based on the spot market price.

Yeah, it's easier to say it's shale gas then for the nuke industry to recognize that repairing, refurbishing and uprating a nuke often proves to get out of hand time- and costwise despite promises and optimistic planning.

Canadian economy at risk if pipeline projects delayed, says Canada West report

Pipeline congestion is costing the economy up to $70 million a day, and Canadians need to shake off their reluctance to get serious about solving what is becoming a huge lost opportunity, says a new report from the Canada West Foundation.

“We feel some complacency has set in, and we want to get people to think again about what the reason for pipelines is — a massive economic benefit for this country which has an aging population and will need this revenue,” said Robert Roach, vice-president of research for the foundation.

The report, Pipe or Perish: Saving an Oil Industry at Risk, details the changing world oil markets and Canada’s lack of access to seaports. Paid for by the government of Saskatchewan, the report concludes that failure to address current pipeline shortfalls is putting Western Canada’s oil industry at risk.

That's a nice little economy you have going there . . . sure would be a shame if something bad were to happen to it.

Bitumen unit trains heading south from Edmonton new reality for producers

Rapidly growing MEG Energy has decided that rail tank cars and barges are the best way to beat the pipeline congestion holding down Alberta’s crude oil prices.

Later this year, unit trains with up to 118 tank cars will head out of Bruderheim every day on either Canadian National or Canadian Pacific tracks, bound for the Chicago area, where the oil will then be dumped into U.S. pipelines or loaded onto river barges. The trains might also keep going to the U.S. Gulf Coast and deliver the bitumen to several large refineries with cokers that can handle heavy crude.

With Western Canadian Select, a benchmark blend which includes some bitumen, trading at around $58 per barrel and heavy Mexican Maya crude getting $100 a barrel in the Gulf, the rail cost seems like a pretty good option.

“And it’s not just the U.S. Gulf Coast. For example, we can send dilbit to the Irving refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick where it can be mixed with lighter crudes. They can figure out their own milkshake,” said Bellows. “If it works for us and the customers, there is nothing but upside. Rail opens the continent for Alberta crude.”

How much spare overall capacity does CN and CPR have? And how many and how fast would oil tanker cars be added to rolling stock? Pretty steady flow of rail cars (going east and south) carrying everything including kitchen sinks through Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Well, let's do some quick arithmetic. A tank car can hold about 600 barrels of oil. These are 118 car unit trains, so a train can carry 70,800 barrels of oil (worth about $7 million on the Gulf Coast BTW). A railroad can move about 24 unit trains per day in both directions on a single-track line, meaning both CN and CP have 1.7 million barrels per day of capacity on each of their single track lines.

If that's not enough, they can double track the lines, which more than doubles the capacity, or triple track or quadruple track them. They have lots of room to do that in their Prairie rights of way.

The main limitation is tank cars. There just aren't enough tank cars in North America to move that much oil, and there are very few tank car builders. It would take a long time to build up the capacity high enough to handle all the oil, and once the pipelines get around the roadblocks they are facing, they could easily undercut the railroads prices. It is much cheaper to pipeline oil rather than move it by rail.


That article reminds me how desperate we have become.

Condensate is proportionally 1/3 of dilbit. For every three tank cars of dilbit that gets shipped out of Bruderheim, one of them will be condensate that was imported from the States. If the distance the condensate traveled to Bruderheim, was the same distance that the dilbit would be shipped from Bruderheim to the refinery, then the ratio of distance traveled for bitumen to condensate is 1:1.

One could say that it takes twice as much energy to transport a tanker car of unconventional liquid fossil fuel, as it took to transport a tanker car of conventional. The era of unconventional oil will be expensive... in so many ways.



AWS, you're somewhat obsessed with the supposedly unique properties of dilbit, which from my perspective of having worked with the stuff is not much different than conventional oil. Conventional oil isn't all that great from a management and environmental perspective, either, and varies wildly in its properties. Once it is refined, it is much more consistent, but not necessarily any safer. As I like to tell people, oil refineries don't remove toxic chemicals from oil, they put toxic chemicals IN!

However, they don't have to ship dilbit by rail, they can ship straight bitumen. The main difference between crude oil and crude bitumen is that the latter does not flow at ambient temperatures. They solve that problem by putting heating coils in the tank cars and heating the oil until it DOES flow. That makes the tank cars more expensive, but eliminates the costs of shipping diluent back and forth and back and forth.

Speaking of which, they can also defray costs by carrying condensate, used for diluent, on the back haul rather than sending the cars back empty. Texas has a surplus of condensate because of the increase in production from liquids-rich "shale gas" plays, and Alberta has a shortage because of heavy demand for oil sands diluent, so this also makes money.

The biggest problem is that tank cars designed to handle both bitumen and condensate are pretty specialized pieces of RR equipment, not many companies make them, and in fact the designs are patented. However, given the amount of money they are losing due to pipeline restrictions, I think the oil companies are lining up to get their orders in. In fact I know they are.

Rocky Mountain Guy

Can crude bitumen be shipped in hopper cars? The kind they flip upside down to empty.

Well, no, bitumen can't really be shipped in hopper cars. To demonstrate the effectiveness of this, take a jar of molasses, turn it upside down and see how long it takes to pour out. Particularly if you leave it outdoors for a week in the middle of winter.

Well, if it is mid winter maybe you could ship it as bricks ;)


I'm an atmospheric scientist, so I might be able to help with the climate change concerns.

For those who are skeptical that a 2-6C rise over 50-100 years can do much damage, consider the following:

1) The 2-6C value is a global average. Roughly twice that can be expected over mid-latitude land areas, and these values tend to be less in winter and more in summer. Thus a relatively moderate global warming of 3C will result in 6C over mid-lat land areas, and ~7-8C (12-14F) during summer.

2) Consider that 2012 was just +3-3.5F (+1.7C) above average for the US and it was a disaster (especially for agriculture and hydrology). Now consider that even with a low-end warming of about 6F over the 21st century, 2012's temperatures will become the norm by around 2040-2045. What happens when we naturally get a favorable pattern for heat (like last year) on top of that?

3) Now consider that my statements in number 2 were likely optimistic through 2050 due to the lack of properly parameterized and robust carbon cycle feedbacks in the models and a tendency for them to resolve oceanic mixing too hastily (resulting in slower warming than in real life). They also have trouble with ice and ice sheets (allowing it to linger too long) and have some difficulty with aerosols. The end result is that by around 2025-2030 that 2012's temperatures become the norm. By midcentury, summer heat will bake the breadbasket into oblivion almost every single year. An expanding subtropical ridge will most likely help suppress summer convection and the resultant lack of wind shear will cause any summer convection that does form to remain mostly unorganized.

4) There is no previous paleo-climatological period that truly compares to this one. Even the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum resulted from CO2 increases per year that are orders of magnitude smaller than today's. We are changing CO2 composition faster than in any previous geologic period. It's the speed that counts. During the PETM, most land life had thousands of years to adapt. The result wasn't a disaster. This time around, we're giving it around 100. That's a serious problem from a species extinction standpoint. I suspect we'll see some amazing feats of adaption by certain species before it's over, but ultimately many will go extinct due to extreme changes to range and habitat.

Hey didn't expect to see you here. I can see why you came here with the increasingly excessive moderation in the other forum. You might know me as Hailman06.

Thanks for that, very interesting and very much in line with what I've been reading recently. Does your view also incorporate what's going on with the rapidly growing methane releases?

Seems to me that we are going to be in serious trouble sooner rather than later as most were expecting. My own thoughts (based on various recent reports and observations) is that changes are now occurring at an accelerated pace. This seems to make some of the more extreme figures that I've been seeing, such as 4C rise by 2040, almost feasible. Is it possible? Abrupt climate shift with a 1C rise per decade?

If so we will possibly be in a dire situation by as early as 2020. I think we need to know exactly what we're facing so as not to waste time on plans which will be superseded by events.

How fast do you think ocean level will rise in the near future? How long will it take to rise by 1 foot and 3 feet?

New figures from NOAA indicate 1 foot by 2050 and 3 feet by 2100, but there is a range of possible outcomes so it could be worse or better.


PetroGuy - Good to see you here. Yes, the other board is stifling as far as trying to conduct an intelligent conversation on the issue is concerned.

Burgundy - Methane is a wildcard, but from what I can tell it is more likely to carry on as a chronic release rather than an explosive one. Methane from tundra permafrost thaw is a big one as well as it is not properly accounted for by any model I know of. Subsea calthrates in the Eastern Siberian Arctic Shelf are the most vulnerable (with some calthrate deposits occuring as shallow as 20m due to the "self-preservation" effect). I suspect we will see these regions emerge as major chronic methane emitters over the next 10-20 years. Right now their contribution isn't particularly large.

As far as abrupt changes are concerned, there are a few things that could briefly "speed up" the process (namely a disruption or change to the AMOC or the impending melt-out of the sea ice cap). The paleo-climate record certainly suggests that abrupt changes cannot be ruled out, but the mechanisms that bring those to fruition aren't exactly known in great detail. The one thing they do insinuate is that the climate system is an angry beast and we are effectively poking it in the tail with a stick. To answer your question: +2C of total rise or a bit higher by 2040 is probably a good guess based on our current trajectory. +4C by then would be really stretching it in my opinion, but I can't say with 100% confidence that it won't happen. Trust me, +2-3C would be plenty bad enough. Heck, even a 1C rise between now and then is bad news.

While the temperature trend thus far (with natural variability smoothed out) has been forecasted quite well, the resultant effects have not. The reaction to this temperature change has been considerably more negative than initially thought. Sea ice is a perfect example of this, as it is nearly 80% depleted from its original volume. No GCM had this scenario occurring before 2040-2050 and most not until later.

Suyog - As far as sea level rises are concerned, a general 1-2 meters is in the broad consensus (to 2100). It is interesting to note that James Hansen thinks that 5 meters isn't out of the question and that the paleoclimate data seems to easily support multiple "burst" periods of 3-4 meter rises per century in the past with considerably weaker energy imbalances than today. I'm personally unsure of what to think on this subject yet, but paleo-climate data speaks to me as it is the closest thing we have to an empirical result.


Hmm... That's depressing. I guess I should enjoy the good eating while it lasts. I sincerely hope you're wrong, not that I want your career to tank or anything, but that I don't want your prediction (or those of your colleagues / field of study) to come true. Watching my children or grandchildren starve is not a happy thought.

Note, is there any reason that you're aware of to think that your predictions are off or wrong? That things won't be as bad as you've set out above?

Thanks in advance for your reply!

I certainly do think there's room for error. Most of that error rests in the future of human action. There's also some room for a lower climate sensitivity than currently thought. I'm not aware of any major negative feedbacks that will slow stop the advance, but that could just be that we haven't found them yet.

There's always some uncertainty with this field. The key is that this uncertainty cuts both ways. It can be good or bad. As of right now however, there has been precious little good news.

AlanfromBigEasy should love this!

The huge project to finally connect the Long Island RR to Grand Central Station in NYC and the #2 Subway:


This is going to make the NYC Metro area even more Green Transit oriented and provide new access to Long Island as well as across Manhattan. But there is one design decision which I wonder about:

The new line has another major improvement. Instead of ventilation grates that allow rainwater to pour in, the new stations will be aired using enclosed cooling plants. When Superstorm Sandy hit the city last October, floodwaters washing over the East Side did not penetrate subway construction sites.

I wonder where the energy will come from for these cooling plants? Could they push the envelope even further and use geothermal as it is already under the Manhattan schist bedrock?

Across the river in New Jersey, Teabag Gov Christie's cancellation of the ARC
tunnel from NJ to NYC to divert the funds to wasteful highway expansion is continuing to be a disaster. The NJ Turnpike widening project now has to borrow another $1.4 Billion on top of the $3 Billion already committed to widening from 6 lanes to 12 lanes when NJ vehicle miles traveled is declining.