Drumbeat: February 11, 2013

Ambani Says U.S. Will Be Energy Independent in 5-7 Years

Mukesh Ambani, the billionaire chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd., said that the U.S.’s development of shale oil and gas will make the country energy independent as early as 2018.

“For many decades, we have heard that the U.S. will be independent of foreign imports of energy,” Ambani, whose company operates the largest oil refining complex in the world, said in an interview to be aired today on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” program. “Realistically, I can now tell you that it is my judgment this will happen in the next five to seven years.”

Brent Trades Near Nine-Month High

Brent traded near a nine-month high in London amid concern that tension with Iran may lead to disruption of Middle Eastern exports. Brent’s premium to U.S. crude narrowed for the first time in nine days.

The European benchmark was little changed after rising for a fourth week, the longest run of gains since July. Iran won’t cede to pressure to halt its nuclear work, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday at a rally in Tehran to mark the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi’s secular opponents geared up for marches today. Bank of America Corp. said there is a “growing risk” the North Sea grade will rally to $130 a barrel.

Saudi oil buyers don't want more, Feb output seen flat

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) - Oil companies that buy Saudi Arabian crude have not requested extra supply and sources in the kingdom say production policy is unchanged - indicating steady output despite a jump in prices to $118 a barrel.

Sources at oil companies in Europe, China and Japan told Reuters they have not asked to buy more crude for March, and also that Saudi state oil company Saudi Aramco has not offered extra barrels.

Jordan Jan inflation rate rises to 6.7 pct y/y

Inflation has picked up since November after the government lifted fuel subsidies on gasoline and other petroleum products, though remaining government subsidies on bread have helped curb some food costs.

ONGC Posts Lowest Profit in Six Quarters on Crude Oil Discount

Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s biggest energy explorer, posted its lowest quarterly profit in more than a year after giving discounts on crude oil to state- run refiners to compensate them for below-cost fuel sales.

Ahmadinejad Says Iran Won’t Cede to Pressure on Nuclear Work

World powers failed to stop Iran from becoming a country that masters nuclear knowhow, and will “never” be able to stop its technological advancement, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a rally in Tehran.

“No power is able to impose its will on the Iranian nation,” Ahmadinejad said during a ceremony in the capital today to mark the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. “They failed to stop Iran from accessing nuclear technology. This will never happen.”

Iranian tankers use Suez to reach Syria

According to the Syrian Economic Task Force (SETF), ships belonging to Iranian oil companies under different flags frequently traverse through the Suez Canal shipping oil and sometimes weapons between Syria and Iran.

Iran Internal Battle Simmers as State Fetes Anniversary

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad signaled that his dispute with a potential successor, parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, is still alive as the country celebrated the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Republic.

Speaking to thousands at a rally in Tehran yesterday, Ahmadinejad alluded to bickering with Larijani that became public last week as the two men traded accusations of fraud and wrongdoing before the June presidential election. That face-off before parliamentarians led to the impeachment of one of Ahmadinejad’s associates and the temporary arrest of another.

Venezuela, PDVSA Bond Yields Fall on Devaluation: Caracas Mover

Venezuelan government bonds rallied, pushing yields to a five-year low, and the state oil company’s debt gained after officials devalued the bolivar to narrow the budget deficit.

The yield on Venezuela’s bonds maturing in 2027 fell 14 basis points, or 0.14 percentage point, to 8.55 percent at 8:41 a.m. in New York, the lowest level since November 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The bonds’ price increased 1.20 cents on the dollar to 105.72 cents.

Israeli firms take 30 pct stake in Cyprus natgas field

(Reuters) - Two Israeli firms have taken a 30 percent interest in a licence held by U.S. energy company Noble to drill for natural gas off Cyprus, the Cypriot energy ministry said on Monday.

Norway's $700 bln oil fund make first U.S. property buy

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's $700 billion oil fund made its first property purchase in the United States on Monday, buying minority stakes in five assets for around $600 million from financial services firm TIAA-CREF, it said in a statement.

The move is part of an evolution of the fund's investment strategy as it gradually moves its focus away from Europe and diversifies the type of assets it holds.

Gas station with loyal following closes

Foundopoulos said the Dec. 5 bankruptcy filing of Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc. — the company he was contracting with to operate the filling station — paved the way for BP's involvement.

In December, Getty Realty, a company independent of GPMI which owns the property on Washington Avenue, signed a 15-year lease with BP for the site, plus 27 other Getty stations in New Jersey and New York.

Foundopoulos said BP informed him before the end of the year that he would need to close down the pumps for more than two months during the conversion.

And he'd have to pay a $30,000 "business risk deposit."

"It's just not worth it," Foundopoulos said, adding that he would have made a 2 percent commission on gas sales with BP, about 7 cents per gallon, and BP would have made 30 cents for every gallon Foundopoulos sold.

Shell pitches for mini LNG projects in Russia

MOSCOW: Shell may resort to developing small scale LNG facilities in Russia, a senior executive said, as its ambition to expand a major liquefied natural gas plant there appears thwarted.

Algeria probes Eni, Sonatrach allegations

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian judicial authorities are investigating allegations of corruption involving state energy firm Sonatrach and Italy's Eni SpA, the Algiers public prosecutor said.

Japan offers to help Saudi Arabia with nuclear energy to free up oil exports

JAPAN has offered to help Saudi Arabia build nuclear power stations to free up more oil for exports, but a visiting Japanese minister said he was not seeking a supply increase now.

Toward a Cure for Range Anxiety

Judging from John M. Broder’s harrowing account of driving a Tesla Model S up Interstate 95, the range anxiety that discourages acceptance of all-electric vehicles in the Northeast is well-founded.

In his case, the vehicle did not live up to his advertised range. But more broadly, such cars appear unlikely to be embraced by consumers until a network of charging stations is established that instills confidence.

In the Rockies, Growing Support for Renewables

A new poll tracking the conservation attitudes of residents of the six Rocky Mountain States shows that support is strong for greater protection of public lands and investment in renewable energy. It also offers some clues to why public policy does not dovetail with public opinion in those areas.

Solar industry grapples with hazardous wastes

While solar is a far less polluting energy source than coal or natural gas, many panel makers are nevertheless grappling with a hazardous waste problem. Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water. To dispose of the material, the companies must transport it by truck or rail far from their own plants to waste facilities hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of miles away. The fossil fuels used to transport that waste, experts say, is not typically considered in calculating solar’s carbon footprint, giving scientists and consumers who use the measurement to gauge a product’s impact on global warming the impression that solar is cleaner than it is.

New group seeks to save near-lawless oceans from over-fishing

OSLO (Reuters) - The high seas that cover almost half the Earth's surface are a treasure trove with little legal protection from growing threats such as over-fishing and climate change, according to a new international group of politicians.

"High levels of pillage are going on," David Miliband, a former British foreign secretary, told Reuters. He will co-chair the Global Ocean Commission, which will start work this week and give advice to the United Nations on fixing the problems.

Comeback cod lessens gloom over emptying oceans

ABOARD HAUNES, Norwegian Sea (Reuters) - It was hours before dawn on a heaving Arctic sea, and snow showers were making it hard for Kurt Ludvigsen to find his fishing buoys with the trawler's powerful searchlight.

But the 49-year-old Norwegian was less bothered by the conditions than by the large numbers of cod flailing in the nets he and his younger brother Trond winched aboard. "It's paradoxical but we have too many fish this year," the older Ludvigsen said. "Prices have fallen 30 percent ... We're having to work far harder."

What? No children? Fending off the final female taboo

Childlessness is on the rise worldwide. But why does it bother so many people.

A Climate Proposal: Bundling Consumer Buying Power

Acting as a green intermediary, The Big Idea bundles purchases of regular services like like cellphone plans and auto insurance — what Mr. Norton calls “low-engagement products” — to achieve social impact. By harnessing group buying power, members achieve a cost savings and share it with social justice and environmental action groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund and 350.org, among others.

Tax Reforms Could Save Energy, Create Jobs, And Pay For Themselves

Washington, D.C.—Tax reform will provide Congress with many opportunities to promote energy efficiency and remove barriers through the tax code, according to Tax Reforms to Advance Energy Efficiency, a new report issued today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The report looks at several major changes to the tax code.

Are plant-based diets environmentally friendly?

After analyzing the eating habits of about 2,000 French adults, and the greenhouse gas emissions generated by producing the plants, fish, meat, fowl and other ingredients, researchers concluded that widely embraced goals for the health of people and for the health of the planet are not necessarily perfectly compatible.

Growing fruit and vegetables doesn't produce as much greenhouse gas as raising cattle or livestock, the study confirms, but people who eat a primarily plant-based diet make up for that by eating more of those foods.

New era of food scarcity echoes collapsed civilizations

The world is in transition from an era of food abundance to one of scarcity. Over the last decade, world grain reserves have fallen by one third. World food prices have more than doubled, triggering a worldwide land rush and ushering in a new geopolitics of food. Food is the new oil. Land is the new gold.

Micheal Klare: The XL stakes of the Keystone pipeline

Presidential decisions often turn out to be far less significant than imagined, but every now and then what a president decides actually determines how the world turns. Such is the case with the Keystone XL pipeline, which, if built, is slated to bring some of the “dirtiest,” carbon-rich oil on the planet from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. In the near future, President Obama is expected to give its construction a definitive thumbs up or thumbs down, and the decision he makes could prove far more important than anyone imagines. It could determine the fate of the Canadian tar-sands industry and, with it, the future well-being of the planet. If that sounds overly dramatic, let me explain.

Advocates shocked by president's veto of Kenyan climate authority bill

NAIROBI, Kenya (AlertNet) – Kenya’s hopes of becoming one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa with a body legally empowered to advise on mitigating the effects of climate change have hit a dead end, after President Mwai Kibaki rejected a law that would have created a Kenya Climate Change Authority (KCCA).

Attacks on climate science ebb after start of carbon tax

Venomous attacks against the scientific community have markedly decreased since the introduction of Labor’s carbon pricing scheme, one of Australia’s leading climate change experts says.

Vanishing homeland leaves people with nowhere to go

On an average day in Kiribati we can look out across our calm and peaceful lagoons and see people fishing and going about their daily business and everything is at it has been for many generations.

But this is deceptive. We now know that we are being subjected to a gradual, creeping and insidious process: climate change. This directly threatens the future of our homeland - our people will be scattered, and the survival of our unique culture, lifestyle and even our language, may be lost forever.

Up Top
What? No children? Fending off the final female taboo

Looks like a choice that is really a luxury, when retirement funds become a thing of the past having kids will be back in fashion.

I think you have cause and effect reversed.

It wasn't retirement funds that made having children "unfashionable." It was the societal change that made it unlikely your children could or would support you that resulted in needing retirement funds (and social security).

Industrialization made for an urban, mobile population. The nuclear family became the norm, rather than the large extended family of rural, agrarian America. It became difficult for such smaller families to support old or disabled members...if they were even around to do it.

The large agrarian family is not just about the future but about the present. The children can be put to work adding some value in an agricultural setting. I can, however, see that there might be some impact from reducing or eliminating retirement funds. However, I think that those who decide to have a bunch of children counting on future support are deluding themselves.

And it's not sustainable, as we see with the Amish now. Half of them work at conventional jobs, because there's not enough farmland for all them to farm. You can only divide the family farm so many times before it's too small to support a family.

I suspect this was a big reason for the move to the cities in the early part of 20th century. By the turn of the century, the good farmland was all taken, and those farmers' kids have to find something else to do.

Yes, this is a trend worldwide. That is farms are getting smaller and smaller because in the third world, usually, when the father dies his farm is divided among all his sons. This causes the size of farms to shrink until they are no longer capable of supporting a man's family. I have read of this problem before, particularly in Bangladesh and China where is is acute.

Smallholder Farming in Asia and the Pacific (Large PDF)

The overall trend in Asia has been that of declining farm size over time. For example, in China farm size decreased from 0.56 hectares in 1980 to 0.4 hectares in 1999 (Fan and Chan-Kang, 2003); in Pakistan it declined from 5.3 hectares in 1971-73 to 3.1 hectares in 2000; in the Philippines the average farm size fell from 3.6 hectares in 1971 to 2 hectares in 1991; and in India it declined from 2.2 hectares in 1950 to 1.8 hectares in 1980, to 1.4 hectares in 1995-96 and to 1.33 hectares in 2000- 01 (Nagayets, 2005; Government of India, 2008). In Bangladesh, the average farm size declined from 1.4 ha in 1977 to 0.6 ha in 1996 whereas in Thailand, it declined from 3.8 to 3.4 ha between 1978 and 1993 (Table 1)

.4 hectares is under one acre and .6 hectares is just under 1.5 acres. That is just not a very big farm. And that is the average size of all farms in China and Bangladesh. Think about that.

Ron P.

This is irrelevant Malthusian Doomerism. All of my cornucopian friends have explained to me that since all 7 billion+ human beings could all easily fit shoulder to shoulder in Los Angeles and most of the earth's surface is uninhabited, there is no overpopulation. The facts that 71% of that surface is water (and 97% of that is undrinakble salt water) and that only about 10% of the 29% of earth's land surface is arable (the rest being desert, ice, permafrost or high altitude moutain range) are totally BESIDE THE POINT! Also totally irrelevant: it takes between .1 and .5 hectares (.2-1.2 acres) of cropland to feed each person (depending on calories required and types of foods produced) and agriculture being the world's biggest user of freshwater --it takes at least 2,000 liters to produce enough food for one person for one day. That translates into 730,000 liters annually per person.

Here's a reassuring figure with a dot for every North American listed in the 2010/2011 census:
Plenty of elbow room in the arid regions. Hopefully technology will find a way to replace water with elbow grease.

Part of the problem with plugging numbers into how much we eat costing water, is that any ole plant needs water, even if I don't eat Oak leaves. Water is a cycle, what rained today on the gravel in my trailer yard ( not much grass grows in the gravel )got soaked in, or ran off down the hillside and might get back to the subsurface fresh water table. Most of it stays in the atmosphere though, just going up and coming down almost endlessly.

While the earth is covered by massive salty seas, the water in them are part of that water cycle and it goes up and comes down a lot too, so if you were to live off a boat, you could employ rain water harvesting and not need to much desal energy expenses.

Over off of another site, that talks about aquaponics, someone suggested, ocean based building projects, like icebergs. 80% of the ship like building would be below the waterline and the rest above, or more like the 90-10 split of ice. Man made islands aren't a new idea, we mostly call them ships and boats, but if they were bigger, And we were more careful of what we did with them, we could move to the oceans as well as live on land.

Your numbers have those feel bad vibes, but what you don't say is that a cow, or deer has to have 100's of thousands of gallons of water to live out a year too! Or do they not count? I know you likely meant it as sarcastic, but really the worlds water cycle is good at giving us water to live off of, we just abuse it a lot and have been watering our lawns ( not me, no grass grows near me )with water treated for human drinking.

In the Book "One Straw Revolution" amoung others, it talks about not needing a lot of land to feed people, if we use the land better than a hunk of dry dirt we leave bare 50% of the time. Modern farming is such a waste of the capacity of soil to grow. Monocrops just breed hazards and wastefulness, and if we were to live with better understandings of all this, we might not be in such a mess as we are.

No easy answers, as who is going to police the ocean, or slice it up for the millions that want to move to the new Atlantis' that would spring up. Which country would get the best slice? To many divisions, lines in the sand that says this is my land, that over there is yours, my water, not yours. I wonder if the Whales have lawyers? Do cod Police tell the local cod school they can't swim in another's area, or face going to Jail? Silly notions us humans have of mine and yours.

Willing to share some gravel if anyone needs some, there is a big pile of just behind the last trailer, been there for years, slightly damp from the rain.

Do cod Police tell the local cod school they can't swim in another's area, or face going to Jail?

No sick cod, or doddery and old cod. If you can't fight other cod for your patch of gravel, no sex either.

In nature, you're in the 1% or you're dead.

Part of that sounds a little like what I wrote.

Unlike the nation-state, nature is not 'centralized'.

Water, air, radiation, and animal migration routes, for examples, transcend artificial human-contrived borders-- human prisons of a sort.
Birds don't get their baggage, laptops or anuses searched or x-rayed by 'official birds' as they cross from one glorified prison to the next. Not to my knowledge anyway.
So insofar as the nation-state acts outside of nature's ways, outside of people and of true freedom and true inclusive democracy, so too will it sit in its own premise for its own failure.

Yair . . . We get this "running out of farmland" mantra in Australia too.

We may be running out of flat fertile volcanic/delta farmland that can easily be worked with large machinery . . . but there are millions of acres of good productive country in the forty plus inch region right up the east coast.

This coastal country has hundreds of thousands of small dam sites and, given that amount of rain I can dig a dam that will provide drip irrigation for five acres for around five thousand dollars.

There is no shortage of land in most places . . . the problem is the system that encourages large scale exploitation of the best land in a few centralised locations. . . Bundaberg,Bowen,Lockyer Valley and so on.

As I have said here before all the seasonal fruit and vegetable requirements could be grown within a one hundred kilometer radius of any given city.

When the crunch comes this land will be utilised and I believe solar-powered versions of our "Circle Worker" can become one of various semi-automated production systems which will evolve under fuel constrained conditions.


I suspect this was a big reason for the move to the cities in the early part of 20th century. By the turn of the century, the good farmland was all taken, and those farmers' kids have to find something else to do.

Exactly. When I was working for our state legislature, I lost track of the number of times I heard rural members bemoaning the steady erosion of their influence as the population shifted from rural to urban/suburban. You couldn't convince them that this was inevitable once the free land ran out. And farm mechanization accelerated things. Interestingly, almost to a person they opposed subsidies for wind and solar power generation. As I often thought, "You're sitting on the only places where commercial-scale wind and solar are possible, they're the first industries in decades that have a chance of creating new jobs in your districts, and you're opposing them?"

No Leanan what I meant is that retirement funds made not having children possible, I think many parents given the option would choose not to have kids and that has been true for ages; just that the option was never easy because your kids were essentially your retirement fund.

Industrialization made for an urban, mobile population. The nuclear family became the norm, rather than the large extended family of rural, agrarian America. It became difficult for such smaller families to support old or disabled members...if they were even around to do it.

I agree, which is why I think with de-industrialization big families will return and so will the bond between elders and kids, there is simply no other choice.

what I meant is that retirement funds made not having children possible

And I'm saying it was actually the opposite: having your children not support you made retirement funds necessary. That is, you could have a dozen kids, and end up with none of them able and willing to support you in your old age. That was the crisis the U.S. faced in the early part of the 20th century.

This was especially true when the U.S. made the transition, because transportation and communication weren't as easy as they are now. Those who moved away were really gone. It wasn't as easy to keep in touch as it is today.

I think many parents given the option would choose not to have kids and that has been true for ages; just that the option was never easy because your kids were essentially your retirement fund.

I don't think that's true. People simply do not look that far in advance. As tstreet says, it's more about the current benefits. Children are valuable free labor on a farm, not to mention the inevitable consequence of sex without reliable birth control.

I agree, which is why I think with de-industrialization big families will return and so will the bond between elders and kids, there is simply no other choice.

Maybe in the very long run, but I think a much poorer industrialization is more likely in our lifetimes. Like in some of the former Soviet Union countries. They taxed people for not having kids, forced women to submit to monthly exams to make sure they didn't get abortions, banned birth control...and still could not people to have children. The economy simply did not encourage it.

And the bond is not just between parents and children. The extended family was the key. That meant even people who did not have kids, or surviving kids, were taken care of. It was common for the extended family to include the bachelor uncle or spinster cousin, not just parents and kids.

It's interesting because Malthus was of the opinion that poverty was what stopped people having children they couldn't afford. In other words in a society without abundance, children are viewed as the liability they are, it's only relatively affluent societies that can afford to view children as an asset.

“It's interesting because Malthus was of the opinion that poverty was what stopped people having children they couldn't afford. In other words in a society without abundance, children are viewed as the liability they are, it's only relatively affluent societies that can afford to view children as an asset.”

Many studies have shown that poverty leads to large families. The UN Millenium Project demonstrated that when poor areas are lifted out of poverty, sanitation improved, and birth control made available, birthrate drops (ref: Jeffrey Sachs, Common Wealth). Poor families rely on children for labor.

"It wasn't as easy to keep in touch as it is today."
Keeping in touch doesn't help the infirm get groceries, repair their house, get to the doctor, go to church...The children have to be there, available at any time. These days you frequently don't have much choice on where you live if you want to pursue a career.

I'm surprised no one mentioned the fact that childbirth is a good way to keep women "barefoot and in the kitchen" and out of politics and the boardroom, leaving power and decision making to men. I suspect that is one of the real cultural drivers of pressure to have children, though never admitted.

I'm not sure I agree that poverty leads to large families. Large families leading to poverty is something I can agree with. Making birth control available is pretty obviously going to lower the birthrate ceteris paribus. I doubt lifting out of poverty, and improving sanitation without birth control would. In fact it seems pretty clear from the baby boom that increasing prosperity and sanitation sans birth control lead to a 'baby boom.'

It is true that the elite tend to have fewer children. It's true now, and it was true in historical times.

Not sure what the reason is. Some have suggested that it's hard-wired: if you're high-status, you're better off investing more in a few offspring, while low-status parents are better off having multiple lottery tickets, so to speak.

Just a guess but I'd say education would be more likely. Royals seemed to have few children, but the Rockerfellers and Rothschilds seem to have had heaps of children.

Education is no doubt part of it, but wealth and status matter, too.

Are kids normal or inferior goods?

“There is overwhelming empirical evidence that fertility is negatively related to income in most countries at most times.” They are right. Whether you cut the data across countries, through time, or across people at a point in time, the same fact arises: The richer you get, the fewer kids you have.

Wealthy families obey economics rather than evolution

A study in Sweden spanning five generations confirms that the wealthiest families tend to remain small, despite evolutionary pressures to have as many offspring as possible.

The original order of causality is correct --poverty leads to large families. Studies conducted by the U.N., ZPG (now Population Connection), Planned Parenthood, etc. have established that the greatest single predictor of large family size is illiteracy & lack of education among women. The second biggest factor is political disempowerment of women and a lack of access to (or general affordablility of) birth control. Think Saudi Arabia, Sudan or Afghanistan.

Poverty needs a precise definition here. It would seem probable that malnutrition of parents reduces fertility (although this is controversial). If poverty means not enough food for prospective parents then one might expect that to result in smaller families. If it means insufficient clothing/shelter/entertainment then the causality might go the other direction.

If it means insufficient money, probably there is no causality in either direction :)

"The original order of causality is correct --poverty leads to large families. Studies conducted by the U.N., ZPG (now Population Connection), Planned Parenthood, etc. have established that the greatest single predictor of large family size is illiteracy & lack of education among women. The second biggest factor is political disempowerment of women and a lack of access to (or general affordablility of) birth control. Think Saudi Arabia, Sudan or Afghanistan."

I'll admit a casual link between illiteracy, lack of education and political disempowerment and a very loose definition of poverty. Not a strong one though, anyhow correlation is not causation. Saudi Arabia is not a poor country, so discredits your assumption. As I stated with the baby boom, rising prosperity is no effect on birthrate. It's about access to birth control, which may or may not be a function of education and empowerment. Not a function of poverty.

In what way would poverty lead to people having more children? Where is the motivation? "I'm poor, can't feed myself, so I'm going to have lots of children." I'll admit people are stupid but come on.

It's the purest expression of the genetic impulse to survive. The poor expect to die young, so they reproduce as early and often as they can so when they go they leave some family behind to carry on. Also, it's worth the chance that some good fortune may bleed through and allow a portion of your offspring to survive.

Other species practice this approach in extremis: hundreds or thousands of offspring, with the expectation most will be food for predators and only a few will survive.

People don't work like that outside of the evolutionary psychologist's head, though.

I would argue they are closer to that than they are to the rational actor who computes the NPV of raising a child against expected return and only procreates if the IRR exceeds 20% at high confidence. :)

Name one species, that when deprived of all but the barest neccesaties of life, actually increases its rate of reproduction.

A great many species put forth great numbers of potential offspring, to boost the odds that some of them will make it through.

I don't know if there are some that actually increase during times of privation, but I'd hardly be surprised, and I know that many are simply designed to have every generation produce full-out as a matter of course.

I helped shepherd a bunch of adorable little Olive Ridley (?) Sea Turtles from their nests into the sea a couple years back, knowing that a great many of them would be someone's brunch within a few hours.


Re: KSA, the secondary factors (political disempowerment of women and a lack of access to (or general affordablility of) birth control) are HUGE factors in KSA's high birth rate. Aside from that, I would not confuse the Saudi Royal family's extreme wealth with a healthy middle class or egalitarian society. Obviously, there is a lot of oil wealth among the ruling elite, but there is high unemployment and chronic poverty among much of the population. Per capita median income is only $22,663, and the true unemployment rate is probably well above the reported 11%, not to mention the fact that most women cannot work.

Re: "motivation" to have more children. This is a topic that, to really do it justice, would require a book or two. Nonethless, as many others here have pointed out before, there really doesn't need to be any particular *personal* motivation for any poor, illiterate couple to have more children. Our biological sex drive + a powerful cultural and religious bias everywhere in favor of unlimited reproduction is all it takes. To put it simplistically, nature + universal religious/cultural pro-birth bias = large families.

Median income of 22k and 11% unemployment hardly counts as high poverty. If poverty causes birth rates surely it would hardly be relevant in SA.

Again you claim poverty causes high birth rates and then say the opposite. "To put it simplistically, nature + universal religious/cultural pro-birth bias = large families." When you say poverty causes high birth rates you can't back it up with statements like "the leading causes of high birth rates are lack of education and empowerment." They are not poverty, poverty is lack of the baisic human needs food clothing shelter. What causes high birth rates may well be a complex issue, but the meme that poverty causes high birth rates, and the answer to global population growth is increased prosperity, aside from being impossible is also untrue, according to the evidence of the baby boom, Saudi Arabia, and probably a heap more examples.

I never said poverty was the *only* factor, but it is one of the biggest ones. I thought we were arguing whether or not the chain of causality appears to be poverty --> large families vs. large families --> poverty, right? Poor people tend to have little access to or understanding of birth control and family planning (or am I way off base here)? Therefore, they tend to go wherever their biological impulses and the prevailing bias of their culture leads them --i.e., larger families.

Well I have yet to be convinced poverty causes large famalies, and how this occurs. Though I can see how having a large family can lead to poverty 'oh no, another mouth to feed.'
Give the poor birth control with instructions they can understand, and watch the birthrate decline. Give the poor a well paying job, with lots of spare income, and no birth control and how can the birthrate decline, let alone not increase? QED the key variable is birth control not poverty.

Poor people don't want to have children they can't afford to keep. It's not like some kind of get rich scheme, or child labour factory etc. Everyone goes wherever their biological impulses and cultural bias leads them, thats life.

You need to spend some time in communities that are really poor. In my neck of the woods, the better off you are the more distractions (toys) you have.

Speaking for myself, at the age of twelve a spinster Aunt lent me some money to buy a new 10 speed bicycle. That, together with soccer, provided a major distraction to me through my teenage years. On top of that, my parents had two cars, a 1962 Rover 100 and a 1972 Austin Maxi (piece of $#!t, lemon) that allowed me to develop my aptitude for mechanics. Using a British "AA book of the Car" I learned how to remove, clean, re-gap and replace spark plugs and eventually tune carburettors! On one her trips back to the UK, the country of her birth, my mother even bought a "Colourtune", see through spark plug that allowed me to more accurately tune and troubleshoot carburettors! How great is that? I eventually assumed responsibility for all the electrical repairs and IIRC disk pad changes.

Then there was the turntable that a Peace Corp worker had given me and the family collection of LP's and singles that I added to when I had any money left over (rarely). Both of my parents being teachers meant that the house was always well supplied with books on top of which we were always encouraged to use the local library.

When I contrast that with life in one deep rural community where me dad did a stint as the head teacher of the local high school during it's first years as a non-boarding institution, I distinctly remember being asked frequently by kids in the community if I had ever done IT yet. Seeing as how we moved there when I was 7 and left when I was 12, I could never understand what the preoccupation with IT was. (I did eventually catch on).

On the other hand, during my lifetime, a lot of people have been lifted out of poverty through education part of which usually included family life/family planning education that, resulted in kids from large families not having large families themselves. Added to the formal education, there was sports and all sorts of clubs that one could join after school that provided lots of distractions for many of us.

In retrospect one of the achievements of post independence (1962) Jamaica has been much better access to education for poor people but, my mother always made an observation when the results of the high school entrance exams were published. The vast majority of kids who did well seemed to come from middle class to upper class homes. Her idea was that: their parents were better educated and had more time to spend with the kids, they had better access to books and went to better junior schools, sometimes private ones, they had less chores to do and so more time to do homework (hopefully). In the mean time the poorer kids have the odds stacked against them. Even today one can see children on the streets of Kingston selling Candy or Air fresheners or whatever, ostensibly to raise bus fares and lunch money to go to school!

So the question arises is it the education that is typically afforded by the less poor that results in a tendency to smaller families or is it the distractions afforded by being less poor? Most of the decision makers in my neck of the woods believe that making education accessible to even the most destitute of the population is the key for lifting them out of poverty but, the fact remains that it is the people that can least afford it that are procreating the most. Go figure!

Alan from the islands

I don't have any numbers, but I am under the impression that Saudi birth rates have fallen off a cliff. That also happened in Iran. In both of these countries, many women are becoming educated. In SA especially women, but even the men have few opportunities.

Saudi Arabia population growth dropped from 3 down to just over 1% in the last decade. Iran has been down then up. Thailand's population is growing at 0.54% far slower then most richer countries, though the govt. has made a huge effort to address the population issue. Unlike most head in the sand nations who want an increase in population, or insist that if everyone has a 53inch plasma TV then population will somehow by 'magic' start to decline.

In SA you get paid to go to university, the govt. has social welfare and full on in 'bread and circuses' mode. Why else would they need $120 oil? Talk about kids and their outrageous flash and showy cars, SA has probably the best example of that in the world.

It is true that the former Soviet bloc countries had little success in promoting population growth. I think much of this had to do with the lack of housing - a large family is not an attractive proposition when your prospects for getting a decent apartment of your own, let alone a house, are slim. Aside from this, children are not much fun when both parents are exhausted after a long day of work.

However, my understanding is that there are many poor countries, particularly in Latin America and the Middle East where birth rates remain very high. It seems that cultural and religious values should not be underestimated.

And I'm saying it was actually the opposite: having your children not support you made retirement funds necessary

My experience has been the opposite, the childless couples I know chose it because they are wealthy and can support themselves far out in future. Also down here retirement funds came first and childless couples came much much later. I think this aspect is debatable, maybe it's true for some cases but not for all, after all there is a strong cultural background to this.

I don't think that's true. People simply do not look that far in advance

I think it is. Women don't want that many kids because it's difficult to raise them but many a times they have no choice, educated and well off women do have a choice and there is a high correlation between education and number of children. Free labor and reliable birth control are a huge factor of course.

Maybe in the very long run, but I think a much poorer industrialization is more likely in our lifetimes. Like in some of the former Soviet Union countries. They taxed people for not having kids, forced women to submit to monthly exams to make sure they didn't get abortions, banned birth control...and still could not people to have children. The economy simply did not encourage it.

Quite possible, in fact I believe it will definitely happen in countries where the economy is doing badly and birth rates are falling. As fears of immigration rise, governments will move from the carrot to the stick.

the former Soviet Union countries. They taxed people for not having kids, forced women to submit to monthly exams to make sure they didn't get abortions, banned birth control...and still could not people to have children

where did you get this information? i know for sure that in soviet union abortion was wide spread, and i think the same was true in other soviet block countries. i'm also not sure what you mean by "taxing" because salary system was so different than what we think nowadays. also knowing how inefficient the system was "forced women to submit to monthly exams" doesn't sound credible. well it's possibly that some rule to that effect was in place, but in those days there were so many rules and not all of them were applied in practice...

I was thinking of things like this, and this.

I think its being turned around 180 degrees, at least in much of the developed world. Raising kids is expensive, well over a half a million dollars each. So the choice may be between having kids, and having enough money to set aside for retirement.

I find it striking that there is a trend for children to become long term financial liabilities. Their economic prospects have definitely taken a turn for the worse. There used to be various career choices that were real possibilities and could provide a comfortable and relatively secure lifestyle. Even if one was unambitious or had limited ability, there were jobs in factories and other large organizations that paid well and provided good benefits. Now, a university education, once a virtual passport to a comfortable lifestyle, has become increasingly expensive and, for the most part, guarantees little. And just try to get out of paying back your student loans. I know of quite a few people who postponed retirement in order to help fund their children's education. The sad reality is that there is a good chance that your twenty something kids will likely be living at home for a long time unless you provide financial assistance.

Not refuting anything you've said, but one thing which has happened is that a high school education used to actually count for something but the whole of the system has basically become a daycare facility. Rather than letting the people who can't handle it drop out, they keep under-performers in and dumb down the material and tests to suit the drop-out rate requirements. Classes are packed like sardines and teachers have little to no support. So kids are "graduating" from "high school"...but it means little and so getting a college degree has become a de-facto necessity for proving basic competency.

I had civics classes, chemistry and advanced biology in Highschool. I know a local kid or two, that don't even know how their own country was formed, as it wasn't taught to them, or they learned it for a test and promptly forgot it. No more going to school to learn something, more going to school to get a job, then realizing they only want you to know how to push a few bits of paper work over to someone else's desk. Education wise we are not teaching kids how to deal with life, how to learn new things, we only give them a pat on the head and tell them knowing only 25% of the lession is good enough, just get those answers right on that test and you never have to learn the other 75% of why jumping out of a plane without a parachute might hurt you.

Kay, I live by a school, parent's have to drop off via cars, the school is next to a highway and only 2 kids live in the trailer court, no buses serve the school, the play ground is asphalt, not a blade of grass anywhere, near by. Sad.

Blessed be those who decide to have no children. I don't think today's new children will be in a position to support their aging parents in the future because there will not be a sufficient surplus to do so. Future earnings are dependent upon a continuing future stream of high net energy and food supplies. Food supplies are mostly dependent upon net energy, water supplies, and an appropriate climate that is not too hot or too cold, a Goldilocks climate. We are entering a period where we will get beyond the range of a Goldilocks climate.

When I bring up this issue with some people and refer to the grim future which will impact their children, they calmly aver that they will adapt. Well, if they survive, perhaps it will be because they adapt but just because you adapt does not you will not suffer or that your life is not nasty, brutish, and short.

Generally speaking, people celebrate the birth of a new baby. Well, I guess I am a curmudgeon because I don't see that a cause for celebration.

I do. I can't say I would have had children if I knew then what I know now (or had let myself accept it...), but having children is not just a decision based on logic. There is this thing called emotion. We certainly don't need so many children, but we do need some, and children are a source of great joy. For some anyway, having a child changes them from children into adults, makes them behave as if the future matters.

Part of the problem is again that we try to live as isolated nuclear families. A village where the adults take responsibility for the children more as a group would be a far more healthy situation.

Twilight said: "For some anyway, having a child changes them from children into adults, makes them behave as if the future matters."

That cuts both ways. I've seen perfectly aware folks turn oblivious to the obvious changes imminent just because they now have a child and cannot accept such a future that they previously recognized as probable. Consequently they buy back into BAU.


I have seen that "buying back in" phenomenon a number of times.

I'll second that. No one I know with children wants to hear anything about peak oil, resource depletion etc, all the things that are discussed here. I have learned to not bring it up, the topic gets changed rapidly. I don't see anyone of these folks looking ahead or doing anything other than standard BAU.

I know for sure that some of them are well informed of the grim meathook reality - I think they refuse to act on that knowledge because of peer pressure to conform as much as anything else.

Well, many of the posters at this site have children, many are grown, it seems.. I have one child, and frankly you have to ride a line between courage (or hope, or perseverence) and the grim facts that we are heading into.

It's not the first time people have moved into a dire and grisly future, holding the hands of the little ones who are skipping and singing songs, thinking about games and dinnertime. Many folks with kids know there are deep and possibly unwinnable challenges ahead in the dark, but that's life. There are also many childless folks who like the freedom and 'live large', whether they are aware of the impact of their kind of lifestyles (statistically speaking anyhow) on the planet. As they age, someone else's kids will be taking care of them. Hope it pays ok.

We're not angels or devils, and neither are the kids.. but we're a life form that found lots of sugar and has blossomed far past it's proper balances.. when it must fall, it surely will.

Slamming the kids, and even the families that have had lots of them is kind of a useless place to rant, because you're not going to get families to undo the ones that are already born.

Work on ways to explain the ideas of capacity limits, and let your audience think they figured it out for themselves.. then, more of them would become converts and move the themes of self-restraint forward. Otherwise, tut-tutting families with kids is like Michael's bashing at 'CARS', while he complains that it's McKibben tilting at windmills. Classic.

'After the game, the King and the Pawn go in the same box.'

I was not slamming anyone, or tut-tutting. Just making an observation.

Point being, the stuff we talk about and debate and prognosticate about is not happening in some ethereal realm of "reason". There is a biological imperative that comes into play throughout. This needs to be taken into consideration.

I have no children myself, by choice, and never will (getting too old for that sort of thing). But that's just me.

I was really replying initially to the observation by Probe that the parents he(?) knows won't even acknowledge PO at all, which I wanted to make sure wasn't turned into an assumption about parents overall.. the rest, well, if the shoe doesn't fit, etc etc..

Whether one has kids or not, we are still each passing this world to the kids that are here and are coming.. those that want to make a point of NOT celebrating these new lives... I just find that to be rather tart and narrow.

From about 1850 to 1920 the "Orphan trains" ran from the east coast to the center of the US taking kids, street urchins they were called and adopted to many farm families.The other night on a tv program a guest was an orphan that grew up in a Minnesota orphanage he said most of the boys were adopted when they were old enough to work his case 12-13.Those outlet are not an option today.

Yes, there is a tendency to do that when the children are young, but it is a phase that doesn't always last. As the kids get older people often begin to look out farther again. The isolated nuclear families accentuate the former phase I think - with older folks as an integral part of the family unit there are people with longer range viewpoints involved all along.

Once again what has been the norm for the last many decades is in fact a distortion brought on by the energy of fossil fuels.

I guess my original point is that the decline that is before us will be unfolding for many generations. It will take a few children to span it.

It seems that the Mayan Calendar scare of last year had no measurable impact on energy dynamics, other than some additional hoarding.

Now that this Pope is resigning, some wonder if "The Last Pope Prophecy" will have more of an impact:

The Prophecy of the Popes, attributed to Saint Malachy, is a list of 112 short phrases in Latin. They purport to describe each of the Roman Catholic popes (along with a few anti-popes), beginning with Pope Celestine II (elected in 1143) and concluding with the successor of current pope Benedict XVI, a pope described in the prophecy as "Peter the Roman", whose pontificate will end in the destruction of the city of Rome.

The prophecy was first published in 1595 by Arnold de Wyon, a Benedictine historian, as part of his book Lignum Vitæ.

(Shades of the Mayan Calendar?). To falsify or verify the prophecy will now be feasible. Just by watching and waiting.

I'll believe it when the Catholics get their first openly gay Pope :-0

That said, any prophecy that humanity will eventually ruin it's chances for much of a future isn't very prophetic. One only needs to have been paying attention.

I am not sure what the prophecy says about the rest of the world. It focuses on Rome and the Papacy as far as I know.

Yes, well - many of the rest of us don't....

"I'll believe it when the Catholics get their first openly gay Pope :-0"

Bi-sexual Cablanasian Female Pope.

Revelations speak of a false church with a world wide influence, very wealthy and with its head in the city of Rome. That false church will be destroyed in the end of time. It is the "the prostitute and the beast" section if you care to look for it.

That would have an imact on the oil industry. ;)

Since Prostitutes were mentioned it brings me back to the long asked question of which is "the world's oldest profession", Religion or Prostitution?

On the subject of children, there is some pertinent news arising concerning the effect of our being awash in chemicals of various sorts over the last 60 years or so and that Fertility Rates are declining rapidly, particularly with males. Doubt it if will make enough impact on the massive population overshoot though...

which is "the world's oldest profession", Religion or Prostitution?

In the classical world, a lot of the temples introduced young men to sex, the temples kept holy prostitutes. The fees went to sustain the temple. No moral stigmatism was implied, in fact quite the opposite.

So maybe we are supposed to go full circle back to where things were before.

I think I can answear that.

Humans are spiritual by nature. Organized religion though, is a result of agriculture. So that is how old "religion" is. You think there was prostitutes before agriculture, or not? There are your answear.

That's just a fundamentalist protestant view of what in Revelation isn't it?

They say "Babylon" is code for "the Catholics" or "the Pope."

It may very well have been a figurative or code for the Roman empire, as a way to write about the pagan empire at the time.

Really silly, but yeah, it ain't about the Pope, unless you're reading those Chick tracts http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick_tract#Anti-Catholicism

I never said it was the pope, I said it was a rome-based flase but wealthy and influential global church. Few churches matches the description.

Superstitious nonsense.

Not really > i.e, Revelation refers to kings drinking wine, although wine also metaphorically refers to anger or love-potion, given to them in punishment for their folly and madness.

"Now that this Pope is resigning..."

It occurs to me that this 'resignation' may not be entirely voluntary. This Pope has been stepping on toes, it seems:

Pope fell short in cleaning up finances:

...But a 2012 report by European anti-money laundering group Moneyval found the Vatican still failing to measure up in seven of 16 key areas. Also in 2012, Gotti Tedeschi was removed as head of the Vatican bank, or Institute for Works of Religion as it is formally known.

In response to the Moneyval report, the Vatican appointed lawyer Rene Bruelhart to head the FIA and lead its push for greater transparency. Bruelhart had previously fulfilled a similar role in Liechtenstein, the principality sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria.

The Vatican has been trying for years to raise its game and throw off a reputation for murky financial dealings that dates back at least 30 years, to the death in London of Roberto Calvi, known as "God's banker".

Calvi was found hanging from a bridge and his death has never been fully explained. He was chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, in which the Vatican bank held a small stake.

More here. Seems the Vatican pissed off the Gambinos. Maybe Guido gave the Pope's family a call ;-/

Not to mention his rumored involvement in the whole catholic child sex scandal before he became pope.

That reminds me of a short article that appeared in the May 2005 ASPO newsletter.

It described the Prophecies of St. Malachy: a list of all the Popes of the Catholic Church, until the end of time. The current Pope, Gloria olivæ, is the next to last on the list. The next and supposedly last Pope, named Peter like the first, is predicted to preside over the Church during Judgment Day.

But wait! The last pope on the list was apparently added later. It's a fake! (The Benedictines didn't want their order associated with the AntiChrist.)

So the current pope is actually the one on the list. The ASPO newsletter pointed out that the English word oil is ultimately derived from the Greek (and Latin) word for olive. Seen in this light, perhaps olivæ means not olives, but oil. Gloria, "glory," "fame," would then mean "height of popularity." Which makes Gloria olivæ "the Pope of Peak Oil."

Funny. Google "The Last Pope" and everyone from The National Review to the Seventh Day Adventists are running articles on it.


Regarding Lester Brown's piece New Era of Food Scarcity Echoes Collapsed Civilizations, above, it's clear that as world population grows and more arable land becomes degraded or developed, humans face a point when peak agriculture becomes more important than peak [name your favorite resource]. I'll include water used in agriculture. The debate over the idiocy of using much of our best arable land to grow fuel for our vehicles enters our dialogue often here, and a short piece on NPR this morning got me wondering how long this collision between food energy production and the production of other forms of energy can go on. I couldn't find the NPR piece (may not be available yet), but did find this:

Solar farms are eating up California farmland

There's a land rush of sorts going on across the nation's most productive farming region, but these buyers don't want to grow crops. They want to plant solar farms.

With California mandating that 33 percent of electricity be generated from renewables by the end of the decade, there are 227 proposed solar projects in the pipeline statewide. Coupled with wind and other renewables they would generate enough electricity to meet 100 percent of California's power needs on an average summer day, the California Independent System Operator says.

And new applications for projects keep arriving. But the trend of covering over prime farmland with solar arrays is a worrier for some officials, including at least one Yolo County supervisor.

"I'm very much in favor of building solar panels on buildings," said Supervisor Duane Chamberlain during a Nov. 13 board of supervisors meeting. "But when you cover raw land like this, you take the land, it's useless for anything else."

Not sure how we deal with this; farmers who find it more profitable (or easier) to make a living leasing their land to harvest solar energy to feed our appetite for electricity rather than our appetite for food. At least this land stands a chance of someday being returned to food production. Meantime, yet another predicament. Not very bright, we are, at least collectively.

The last dairy farm in our area is now covered by acres of PV panels; not all of it, but enough so that it isn't farmland anymore. Can't blame the owners, really. They closed the dairy several years ago...

I wonder if these same people showed the same level of concern when California was being suburbanized or ex urbanized, otherwise known as Californication. At least these solar farms won't be irrigated so that people can have big, stupid lawns. And what is the real impact, anyway?

Its not big stupid lawns that is the problem but increased population resulting from Federal and State policies that encourage foreign immigration both legal and illegal that drives the need for continual construction.

California is coming up on 40 million people. They all need a place to live and some of those folks actually want a big stupid lawn for their kids to play.

I actually know Duane. There are people in this part of the state that are very involved in agricultural land preservation, and he is one of them. It's tough given the growing population due to lax immigration enforcement and the big dollars that developers can bring. The impact of solar development on ag land loss is pretty minimal so far. Solar will be developed on marginal land and/or land close to transmission lines first. I think Duane and others would like to make sure a precedent is set to develop on marginal lands first, saving the prime ag lands.

Meh. Much of the California farmland is heavily subsidized with cheap water so it might not be such a bad idea to farm elsewhere. But if the land is really more valuable for growing food then they will eventually remove the PV installation and go back to farming. That wouldn't be cheap but if it is really the best use for the land then they would do it.

My daughter works in agriculture in the Fresno area. Her take is that it is the least productive land that is being covered with solar panels not "prime farmland". Upthread it is mentioned that a dairy is now bankrupt and some of the land is covered by solar panels. Well the bankruptcy came first. Central valley dairies were devestated in the 2007/8 kabosh. A big part of their previous prosperity was exporting dry milk to the Orient. After 2008 the Aussies and others in the area took up the slack so it is unlikely that that dairy land will be needed again for cows in the forseeable future.

I didn't say the dairy went bankrupt. IIRC, it was simply that the inheriting generation decided not to carry on... and the reason is less important than the effect.

It's likely that their products were being trucked tens, maybe hundreds of miles, to be processed and distributed to the market. If you think this process can continue much longer, there's no problem there. A bigger, more efficient, corporate affiliated producer will supply your market. Like virtually all of our systems, I don't think this one will be viable, as is, for long. Our rural community may miss having at least one functioning dairy nearby. If the land were to be fallow for 30 years it would benefit, but they put in weed control and gravel under everything. Probably not much rejuvenation going on.

Bottom line: Retasking farmland for growing ethanol or producing electricty makes our food systems more brittle when they're already being stressed in many other ways. Not a problem as long as your store shelves are stocked and you can afford what's there.

I think the reason is every bit as important as the effect. If dairies are overproducing milk and there are no other viable agricultural options for the land the owners can either find a non-ag useage or let the state take the land for taxes.

This kind of process is the inevitable result of a capitalist system. I suppose we would all like to be fed by local, organic, sustainable agriculture but I struggle to understand how such a food source can survive in an environment where the only measure of success is financial profit and the nation wide market is key to avoiding local famine. I really, really don't undeerstand how the world works. But I do know that we here in the US are likely the most naive people in the world regarding how cruel nature can be. Is it worse than the capitalist free market system? Probably. Does that make the free market capitalist system, destroyer of family farms, the only alternative. Probably not.

Have you seen this documentary produced by BBC called "The Future of Food" ?

Part 1 India
Part 2 Senegal
Part 3 Cuba

Relates it back mostly to the UK, but there's some scary stuff in there - particularly about India and water problems.

Thats a fantastic documentary. Well worth watching

Great documentaries. Raises some good points. As Garrit Harridan said, 'God doesn't give away a prize for how many people you can fit on the earth.' So we can all stop eating meat, and dairy, and just live on grains or potatoes. Then reduce our diets to 1500 calories per day, that way there will be enough food for billions more people. I'm not sure what the point of feeding the starving masses of the world is, except to creat even greater numbers of starving masses. The assumption that the so called solution is to change our eating habits completely misses the point. Far better to change our breeding habits, and that starts with education and communication. How much more prosperous would the world be if the population was under a billion? Noone would be starving, there wouldn't be destroyed fisheries, and the planet could have a chance of coping with our toxic wastes. But I guess that misses the point of what it means to be a humane.

Farm for the Future - BBC Dokumentary 2009!

A related documentary by Rebecca Hosking, a farmer's daughter from Devon who plans to convert the family farm to a post-oil future. She interviews Dr Colin Campbell and Richard Heinberg as well as permaculture farmers.

The Hoskings farm with cattle. Their biggest user of fossil fuel is making hay to feed the cattle over winter. They have to put the cattle in the barn over winter because cattle damage the pasture and it needs time to recover. She speaks to Charlotte Hollins of Fordhall Farm, daughter of organic farm pioneer Arthur Hollins who improved his pasture to the point it is so tough the cattle don't damage it.

25:05 The biggest thing that dad found was damaging the soil was actually exposing it to sunlight. It was that overturning through ploughing. And dad always said it would be like humans ripping off their skin. You know, it's not nice, and you don't survive. So why do it to the soil, and why kill all those organisms in the soil. At the end of the day they are your best friend.

At 25:45 she shows archival footage of the family farm being ploughed in the 1980s, and being ploughed nowadays. The contrast is striking. In the 1980s, flocks of gulls and crows and other birds swarmed over the turned-over soil looking for food. Now, not a single bird is interested. The soil is dead after 20 years of repeated ploughing.

Incidentally I once helped with hay making on a small family farm in New Zealand. It is quite a process even with machines. When the grass is calf high or knee high you mow it and leave the cuttings to dry out a bit. Then you rake the cuttings into long windrows with a mechanical rake. Then you drive your baler along the windrows and it compresses the cuttings and drops bales of hay all over the field. Then you drive around picking up the hay bales and storing them in the barn. I would hate to do all that by hand.

The birds may be dead too....

When haying was done by hand it was not bailed. You still needed to cut the grass and windrow it. Next it was loaded onto a wagon using pitch forks or in some cases using a horse drawn hay fork loader. I remember my dad and relatives using an old horse drawn hay fork loader with a tractor to build a hay stack (some time around 1946-1949). I also remember bucking hay when I was a teenager on the farm. And yes it is a lot of hot dusty and somewhat dangerous work.

This is my mothers childhood memories you are talking about. Her uncle was still running the farm old style. Her father grew up on that farm. When my grandfather was a child, they did not have floors in the farm, but dirt-floor. He is now 94 years old.

Much of Califonia's farm output is constrained by water supply. And because of a combination of climate change, and the need to curtail the mining of groundwater, the supply is becoming more constrained. I don't see PV farms as causing a net decrease, the water will be used on another farm.

It would be nice to see lower density PV, that still allows farming/grazing to go on underneath.

"Not sure how we deal with this; farmers who find it more profitable (or easier) to make a living leasing their land to harvest solar energy to feed our appetite for electricity rather than our appetite for food. "

Given the state of California's water supplies, and that some of the land is now too salty to grow much, that may be a good trade in places.

Westlands Solar District?

Please make it be so.

This is how some polluted cold-war ex-airfields are being used in Germany: Place a large PV plant and give the soil a good 20-30 years to recuperate. Might work in California too, having rain slowly desalinize the soil while the area's still being put to good use.

Prof Ugo Bardi is interviewed here about resource depletion and systemic risk... a pretty good interview.


From Alpha to Omega podcast is really good. I'm a bit behind, just finished episode 23 last night.

Yeah, it's my favourite podcast - they should post some episodes of it as a post... not enough people listen to it as far as i can see....

I put a comment in at the MassLive site, about trucking PV waste products.. thought it might get a more thoughtful discussion here than there..

Robert Fiske "It's completely appropriate for Solar PV to have to count waste disposal and it's associated Transportation burden into the mix, just as we need to keep an eye on ALL of our industrial-scale projects.. but let's not get too carried away on this as some 'aha!' debunking of solar PV, as each of us runs a furnace and an Auto or two that are daily spewing a wide range of pollutants into our kids, our neighbors and our own lungs, not to mention into the whole ecosystem that supports us.

The article give a 'little' nod to the idea that Solar PV is still a bunch cleaner, but if you could translate that 'bunch' into an equivalent discount onto everything you buy, you'd never buy the mainstream products at all.

A question that this article fails to even bring up is that this particular issue is really a Transportation issue more than a Solar PV problem. All over the world, Nations are building Electrified Rail Freight, which could, naturally be supported by PV and Wind, and then ask yourselves what happens to the pollution that PV MFRs have to account for in shipping and managing their toxic byproducts. Electric Rail alone is already 20 times more energy efficient and so massively less polluting than moving freight by truck.. any clean energy that feeds such a system is that much more Frosting on the deal."

submitted for your consideration..

Of course, I didn't even try to dig into the issues around US v. Chinese Regulation and Enforcement of such waste handling, etc.. but that, too has to be brought up, no less than the probability that there are companies sneaking these 'produced fluids' out just like the Coal companies and Fracking companies that have opted to take the shifty route.

"It would be perfect, but there are Humans involved.."

My apologies to the choir that you've heard this before...

the transport of waste is not currently being factored into the (PV) carbon footprint score

  • At least the article pointed out that the coal plants don't transport toxic chemicals by road - they just throw it "away" upwind of your lungs.
  • Perhaps the EPA automobile mileage numbers should include the platform workers commuting by 5000 hp Super Puma
  • Do you think when the Natural Gas people talk about low-carbon fuel they include, say, trucking frac sand: 790 trips would have been made to haul 34,000 tons...on a 1,490 km. round trip + 40,000 hosepower frac truck array running for 3.5 months(!) [off a single pad, by the way].
  • Or, perhaps the 60 years of full-time armed guards required between shutdown of a nuclear reactor & dismantling. Yeah, we'll do that.

Bunker Fuels in Short Supply


A long term trend. Conversion into higher value products and reduced exports from Iran & Russia are pointed to.


“Bunker prices will rise slowly over the next three years,” McQuilling said, with reduced exports from Iran and Russia squeezing supply.

I do so love irony.

We can probably count the months until more of those 'Computerized Kite-Sail Attachments' to Freight and Tanker Ships starts showing up again..

Using sails to power ships to move oil would be yet another rich irony!

Next, maybe some solar and wind powered coal mining equipment?

We've already been hearing about it, too. They've already begun using solar to support some heating operations around some kinds of wells.. I forget if it was shale or something else. Almost too silly to devote brainpower to memorizing.

And I'd agree, I think the word is 'Perverse'.. but in another way, it actually helps show just where our bread is REALLY buttered, to see the Fossil Fuels leaning on renewables as a crutch.

The absurdities are signs of how late the hour really is.

The absurdities are signs of how late the hour really is.

Sometimes the shortest line in a thread can prophetically size up this whole unfortunate situation. And on that note while BAU is still a ticking time bomb ready to go off someday, I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.

Using sails to power ships to move oil would be yet another rich irony!

But not unprecedented. Some of the first oil tankers, such as the Thomas W. Lawson were wind powered.

And in 1975 the company I worked for used a sailing ship to deliver avgas to a remote island in Indonesia.

T Lawson didn't last over 5 years though.

Greenish had an idea about a solar powered trebuchet that toss industrial waste into the ocean. Since it is solar powered, it would be enviornmental...

industrial waste into the ocean? No, just garbage into neighbors' yards, as I recall the concept for that IndieGoGo proposal.

Blurry memory. But something like that. I may have improved the story a bit.

This story is so insane I find it hard to believe that the human species can be so stupid.

This is an Icelandic whaler, but the Japanese have to resort to subsidies and mis-labelling whale meat as other species to sustain their whaling fleet, because the demand for their product is so low.

It is a fantastically surreal propostion. An Icelandic whaler, Kristján Loftsson, is powering his whaling ships using "biofuel" composed of 80% diesel – and 20% whale oil. Loftsson claims the oil is additionally friendly to the environment as it is rendered out of whale blubber using heat from Iceland's volcanic vents.

Ralph - Maybe when we run out of whales we can just render some Icelandic whalers. Wouldn't be much need for them at that point anyway.

Similar to the increase in jet fuel prices. Shipping and airlines getting hit hard. Local airport here is close to closing down although airline fares haven't really risen much.

I wish they would completely run out of bunker fuel. The stuff is amazingly polluting but the anarchy of the open seas apparently means ships can pollute like crazy with impunity.

The world should adopt some laws to reduce the massive pollution of ocean-going vessels. Bunker fuel is a massive dirty subsidy to globalization. It should be eliminated.

I wish they would completely run out of bunker fuel.

As long as they are processing crude oil, they will have stuff left over to dump into oceangoing vessels as cheap btus. If anything, with crude quality declining, we could end up with even more bunker fuel even as supply of higher quality products dries up.

I’ve reached the point where I can’t consider folks like Klare and the Salon group as ignorant but rather obsessed with misleading the American people.

“If given the go-ahead by President Obama, it will daily carry more than 700,000 barrels of tar-sands oil to those Gulf Coast refineries, providing a desperately needed boost to the Canadian energy industry. If Obama says no, the Canadians (and their American backers) will encounter possibly insuperable difficulties in exporting their heavy crude oil, discouraging further investment and putting the industry’s future in doubt… Such is the case with the Keystone XL pipeline, which, if built, is slated to bring some of the “dirtiest,” carbon-rich oil on the planet from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.”

Once again the simple facts: those 700,000 barrels “of the dirtiest, carbon-rich oil” will be entering the US whether the POTUS authorizes the Keystone crossing or not. The facts: that much and a lot more is already being imported. From:


“Supply from Canada's oil sand ultimately could increase to 20-36% of all US imports of oil and refined products by 2030, up from 8% in 2009.

Growth in oil sands production is the main reason Canada has become the largest external source of oil to the US. Oil sands production more than doubled to 1.35 million b/d in 2009 from 600,000 b/d in 2000."

The most current number I see is 1.6 million bbls of Canadian production with the vast majority coming into the US and nearly all that increase has come from those “dirtiest” reservoirs. Maybe Klare/Salon are just trying to hide the fact that our “greenest” of all presidents has more than twice the amount of that dirty oil the Keystone p/l will carry already moving across the border on his watch.

That the Canadians have their own issues building their own pipelines across their own soil makes it a bit silly that they are critical of folks in the US who object to a Canadian company building their pipeline across the US heartland to move Canadian oil to world markets. It's a Canadian logistical problem from my point of view, no matter how some choose to rationalize it. Whining like spoiled children won't change that.

That the US is the most addicted to their product, and closer than other increasingly addicted economies won't matter when folks in the US can no longer afford "to boost the Canadian energy industry". Others will out-bid us, and the Canadians will be more than glad to sell to the highest bidder, via our Gulf Coast ports.

Not if NAFTA gets turned into a currency union.

The situation fascinates me. It's a contest between the wealthy and connected selling the commons for personal gain vs. the needs of the empire to retain the precious resources for its survival. In some ways it is not unlike the situation in Russia regarding Putin vs. the oligarchs. I guess what it comes down to really is whether one group of oligarchs can become powerful enough to define themselves and their interest as "the state" and trump the interests of the others using the power of the state.

Rockman makes good points about the fact that the US already imports twice as much tar sands oil as will be carried by the pipeline. His point about the relatively environmentally friendly effects of oil transported by pipeline as opposed to rail and other methods is also valid. His observation that Obama is bought and paid for is absolutely correct

However, the main point of Klare's argument is that without the XL Pipeline, the economics of the project don't make sense.

His larger argument seems to be that unless we start taking a stand against the continuing exploitation of ever dirty (costlier) oil sources like the Alberta tar sands and begin to seriously plan for a vastly different future, we face an 'end game' scenario.

It seems to me that opposing XL is a strategic opening move in a broader struggle to combat global warming, and prepare for the inevitable effects of resource depletion. IMHO, we need to use any leverage we have to effect the changes we understand are necessary for a livable future.

This rant aside, I greatly appreciate TOD.

Protesting an irrelevant means of delivering oil is like staging a sit-in against segregation in the parking lot of Woolworth's circa 1961. The problem is the demand for oil, not the supply. So long as the structure of demand remains what it is, the oil is coming, by pipe or by rail, as Rockman rightly says.

I'll take McKibben seriously when he starts getting arrested on behalf of public transportation/urbanreonstruction/rail modernization. Ah, but he just "took delivery" of a shiny new Ford, didn't he? Wonder if that was a freebie...

The purpose of the pipeline is not to get the oil to the Gulf Coast refineries, rather to get it to a coast. That there are refineries there is a bonus, allowing some of it to be sold/used in the US - if we can pay. That is the part that I find interesting - whether the empire will allow its most precious resources (commons) to be converted into private wealth for the benefit of some of its most well connected individuals, and the rival empire rising in the East (China).

At the same time the empire is engaged in wars around the world trying to control resources by force so China cannot get them. It's the schizophrenia that I find interesting, in a grotesque sort of way.

I assume the oil will be burned no matter what. Economic collapse would be our best hope for preventing that.

twilight - Are we talking about the same pipeline? The Keystone border crossing line I'm taking about would connect to existing pipelines and other transport systems in the US. Are you referring to the proposed line from the tar sand fields to the west coast of Canada?

My understanding is that the Keystone will help get that oil to the Gulf Coast more easily/economically. Once it is at a coast it can go anywhere. That's cheaper than a line to the west coast of Canada.

Twilight - Got you. That's certainly a possibility. Not sure but might not have to make it all the way to the GC. Might be some other potential connections to move it east. Some might end up in Canadian east coast refineries that way.

Sorry, I was being a bit obscure and diverting the topic of the thread too.

Seems like the Gulf Coast is ideal though - you can send it to the US refiners or ship it overseas, whoever can bid the highest. And you can paint it as some patriotic BS in getting support for it too.

But once there are there any other interests powerful enough to say "wait a minute, we think that should stay here regardless of the price you can get!"?

I'm gonna take a wild guess that is that Eastern Canada is going to be stuck with importing expensive oil from nasty places and that the transmountain pipeline that currently runs from Alberta to Vancouver will be expanded. This will get some of that semi-stranded oil sands stuff to China... ah, I mean the world market. IIRC, the present pipeline is 30 inches in diameter and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners want to move up to 36 inches.

The oil sands producers must be going nuts with the money that they could be making if they had access to the Pacific.

But first the NDP in BC has an election to win this May (I believe) and then probably the pipeline project will be a go.

The other planned route is the Northern Gateway project of Enbridge Energy that would terminate in Kitimat. Virtually everyone hates this idea and Enbridge has not proven to be politically adept.

I remember seeing an interview with some First Nation local somewhere in Western Canada. He was grossing about how a pipeline would endanger his way of life. In the background I noted what I assumed to be his home and right besides it was a fuel oil tank....

Doesn't Kinder Morgan actually want to "twin" that line using existing right of way like is currently being done on the Seaway line between Cushing and the Gulf Coast?
I think eastern Canada is going to be using a lot more oil from the Bakken and from the US Gulf coast.

I agree Great Ape.
This is to put monkey wrenches in the process, slow things down, and increase expense.

I think Mario Savio summed it up:
"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"

The oil is currently being shipped. So, my question is, does the project not make sense right now? Are they not making money on oil shipped right now? While it is probable they will make more money with a pipeline, I don't understand the economics argument unless somehow tar sands production will shut down without a pipeline.

I don't see opposition as a strategic opening unless there is some inherent logic in shutting down the pipeline. To get serious, the correct action would be to ban imports of Canadian tar sands oil.

In the mean time, we are destroying whatever hope we have of cutting GHG emissions by shipping millions of tons of coal to Asia and Europe.

I think Obama's policy on global warming is the use of magic. We need to spend more money on magic. Nothing significant can be done without a radical change in our lifestyle, reduction in consumption and a steady state or less economy.

I tend to agree.

But, what would happen to the economy if everyone in the US cut their "consumption" by 30%? May be ugly, but it's better to stumble down a hill than jump off a cliff. :-)

Such is the horror of a consumuption based economy...

Soft landings seem less possible as time ticks by.

ts - And becoming more and more surreal. LOL. You and I are banding together to fight the efforts of "environmentalists" to soft peddle the development of the tar sands by making J6P think it won't add to AGW if they prevent that very short section of Keystone from being built.. Man if I hadn't stopped doing drugs 40 years ago I would swear I was stoneddddddddddddddddd.

Remember when we used to speculate about oil patch shills infiltrating TOD. Maybe some of these “NO KEYSTONE!!!” types are some of them being put back on Big Oil’s payroll.

And I still want to know what happened to my check, damn it.

This pipeleline argumnet is stuck in binary logic. If we closedown or hamper one mode of transport for the product, of course we don't make it impossible. But, we do make it a bit tougher, which means a bit more costly, and probably a bit longer to develop. So the tar tars development is slowed down a bit, but not eliminated. But, it at least theoretically leaves us a bit more time to get our heads around the issues of depletion and warming.

True. Obama is helping in some ways, and looking away and ignoring other things. Given the reality of politics is difficult to see how he could do otherwise.

The irony is that the oil industry and the tar sands producers themselves are engaging in binary logic as they maintain that the pipeline is crucial to expansion of the tar sands. Well, that might just make the situation a bit confusing. Buying some time seems laudable but we have probably run out of time. And even with time, we won't act. This reminds me of the argument that fracking is buying us some time on peak oil. Well, what have we ever done with bought time. Just about nothing.

GA – “However, the main point of Klare's argument is that without the XL Pipeline, the economics of the project don't make sense.” I really don’t understand how you can make that statement. The economics have already been proven: they are currently producing huge amounts of oil (with almost all the increase coming from the tar sands) and exporting it to the US today. In fact, Canada exported more oil to the US in 2012 than ever in its entire history. So they did all that and it wasn’t profitable to do so?

“It seems to me that opposing XL is a strategic opening move in a broader struggle to combat global warming,” Again that statement truly mystifies me. The tar sands were being produced long before Keystone was even proposed. And they continued to be developed after the POTUS refused the permit. The biggest hindrance to the economic development of the tar sands was the bottleneck at Cushing which is quickly being eliminated. And the tar sands will continue to be developed whether the border crossing section of Keystone is ever built or not. And that’s not an opinion because it’s happening even as you read my post.

You seem to be implying that not building the border crossing section of Keystone (you do realize that plans for the other 98% of the p/l have never stopped for a day) there will be 700,000 bbls of tar sand oil not burned. That oil, and a lot more, is being burned today. And that and even more will be burned for decades whether the border crossing section of keystone is ever approved or not. So again please explain how not building that very short section of this one p/l (you do know there are already 9 other pipelines carrying oil and products across the US-Canada border, don’t you?) will do anything to alleviate AGW?

These conversations are become somewhat surreal. Me, the oil patch conservative, is the one putting out the word that this made up Keystone pipeline meme is just a distraction so folks don’t think the tar sands are being developed/will continue to be developed and thus a blow against AGW has been struck. I think someone should nominate the Rockman for some Greenpeace award. LOL.

I believe Greenpeace has a special award for you. The prize is that you get tied to the prow of the boat as a spearhead for their attacks on whaling ships. Seems entirely appropriate since you are an oil man.

What was that quote from Pogo? "We have met the enemy and he is us."

So, how much fossil energy do you consume in a year (both directly and indirectly) and are you willing to forgo it all to save the planet? Just asking, as I can't seem to do much to cut my use further...

E. Swanson

I don't consider Rockman the enemy and was joking with him. Yes, the vast majority of us, including me, are part of the problem. I make no claims to be holier than thou or of anyone else. Well, maybe a little bit holier than some people. I have always said that to really get serious about reducing your carbon footprint, one should commit suicide and arrange a natural burial to ensure good compost.

Rockman is a comrade, and it is probably more efficient to refine tar sands on the Gulf, and sell diesel to the rest of the world.
The world runs on diesel.
It just some people live in a larger box.

Symbolic gestures have their place but I fear that that the pipeline fight may become a symbol of uninformed intransigence. Regardless of one's position, I think it is important to get the fact befores one begins the fight. However, I am still not ready to ascribe nefarious motives to the likes of McKibben.

"And the tar sands will continue to be developed whether the border crossing section of Keystone is ever built or not."

Perhaps if the price of oil remains above $50 - $60/ barrel or so. If the price drops permanently to these levels or lower due to another recession or potential economic collapse, I don't see how energy/capital intensive oil production like tar sands, deep water, fracking etc. can continue if the costs of production exceed the price.

Actually, I agree with Rockman about his analysis that the driving issue is the demand for oil, akin to demand for drugs fueling the drug trade. As an ecologist with a degree from the University of Michigan, I've been making his argument for over 40 years. It's not clear to me how we educate a nation where 5% of the world's population consume 25% of its energy resources about energy addiction and global warming. Perhaps a collapse is the only way.

This having been said, I'm not prepared to let the oil industry off the hook for being the pusherman. That's why I'll be standing with the First Nation's Chiefs on Sunday.

GA - Once again you make the wrong analogy as many other have in the past. The oil companies are the addicts…addicted to money. The public is the pusher: waving their $’s in front of us offering the ultimate high if we just give them what they want…energy.

An addict can’t survive without his fix. If the world wasn’t offering a $100/bbl hit the oil patch would crawl into a corner and go into convulsions. You and the rest of the public should be ashamed of what you’ve done to me: I sit here in ugly Houston in front of a computer instead of roaming the Rockies looking for trilobites as Mother Earth intended for a boy from Nawlins. Shame on you…shame. LOL.

That was the first thing I noticed about Houston - the total lack of mountains. They kept trying to transfer me there, and I kept trying to point out that I was more addicted to mountains than to money.

If I find any trilobites, I'll let you know. The main critters around here are stromatoporoids. Every so often I have to drive through a bus load of geology students looking at them. They are nearly as bad a traffic hazard as the elk herds.

There has been an awful lot of oil found in stromatoporoid reefs in Alberta.

Trilobites?! Them's fossils, right?


Well, not really a trilobite, but still a pretty cool looking critter stuck to that deep sea ROV.

Just Imagine what kinds of giant bugs and jellyfish might evolve to live in the warm, shallow, slightly acidic coastal seas of the future... They will have us to thank for their existence!

"You seem to be implying that not building the border crossing section of Keystone (you do realize that plans for the other 98% of the p/l have never stopped for a day) there will be 700,000 bbls of tar sand oil not burned. That oil, and a lot more, is being burned today. And that and even more will be burned for decades whether the border crossing section of keystone is ever approved or not. So again please explain how not building that very short section of this one p/l (you do know there are already 9 other pipelines carrying oil and products across the US-Canada border, don’t you?) will do anything to alleviate AGW?"


Enbridge and TCPL don't want to build new pipelines because the other nine are empty, they are building new pipeline capacity to enable the expansion of tar sands production. If the tar sands remain land-locked, without a virtual pipeline sea, then the tar sands producers are stuck with a glut, and we all know what that does to price. (how much we're you getting for your gas last year?). By land-locking tar sands production the WCS discount to other benchmarks makes further tar sands development uneconomical.

Are there ways around a lack of pipeline capacity... some, to an extent (courtesy of RMG).

Bitumen unit trains heading south from Edmonton new reality for producers

“Some of the big changes in the pipeline system (adding new capacity) are coming in 2014, but we wanted to move ahead of that. So we have this new rail-barge plan entirely as an option.”

And while rail can add $20 a barrel to the price, MEG says its cost is in the “mid-teens” per barrel.

But shipping by train implies that the producers are willing to accept a $20/barrel discount (and the price of diesel keeps rising). Does that discount make some future tar sands production uneconomical, probably.


"And that and even more will be burned for decades whether the border crossing section of keystone is ever approved or not.

Not likely, we're at 0.8 Celsius of warming already, another 0.6 baked-in to come. We pretty much melted the arctic
last summer, the mid-west and plains remain in drought, grain and hay stocks aren't looking good, and everyone keeps getting hit with freaky weather, over and over.

At some point, I think sooner than later, people are going to freak, and demand action and tar sands bitumen will be one big target.


Andrew - All good points and yet countless $billions have been spent and are still being spent developing the tar sands. And that production is no more landlocked than my Texas oil. I barge my oil to La. to get a higher price than WTI. The Canadian companies rail/truck/pipeline their oil to where they get max price. Despite all the whining they are getting a much better price than if they were selling it all in Canada. That "land locked" oil produced the greatest export volume of oil from Canada to the US then every before in history.

I truly appreciate how depressing the situation may be to you even though you hold out hope that soon the world will see the error of its way and change course. You should be thankful that your expectations differ greatly from mine. I see a future world exploiting tar sands and coal even more vigorously and with less concern about the environment. All of which will have no impact on a 62 yo geologist whose brain cells are being slowly nibbled away. LOL. But an old fart with a 12 yo daughter who will have to face it all. Thus those thoughts are never far away. And it’s very depressing.

Twilight – I think I get your point but what commons are you referring to: the oil sands mineral rights perhaps? If so they aren’t being sold but leased to the development companies. Those oil deposits (the commons?) have always been owned by the citizens of Alberta and still belong to them today. The Alberta govt, representing the citizens of Alberta, leased those rights and take a big chunk of the production as a royalty payment. Anytime the majority of Albertans want to stop developing those resources and leave them in the ground they need only elect a govt that will do so. Of course if that group is in the minority that won’t happen but such is life in a democracy. You and I might agree it’s a better idea to leave it in the ground for a number of reasons. But that’s their call…not ours.

Those oil deposits are the commons I'm referring to. I'm sure the average Albertan gets benefits from the sale of that oil. I'm also sure they incur considerable costs for its extraction. I'd say it a safe bet that some get more benefits and less costs than others, by a wide margin.

More broadly I see Canada as an integral part of the US empire, and all the oil in NA as an asset of that empire. I'm just curious if the empire has the ability to control it. I don't think it does.

The idea that Klare is trying to mislead the American people seems a bit too speculative unless you have specific evidence as such. Ignorance seems like the more plausible explanation. Unless he knows something you don't know and that is impossible. He is a fool since he apparently doesn't read TOD.

Ala Kunstler this morning, unless Obama calls for us to change our way of life, there is no hope that we will address global warming, pipeline or not.

But the point is that McKibben and other would-be movement organizers, including Prof Klare, should be making those calls. Power concedes nothing without a demand.

Instead, McKibben and Klare are tilting at a windmill. And it's not like the data Rockman mentions is top secret, particularly for an academic specialist on the topic such as Klare. Shame on him for spreading ignorance. His job is to do better.

ts - Ignorance...really? We've seen more than a few folks on TOD with little or no energy background that seem to grasp some of these simplicities. As I asked someone up thread how could anyone speculate that not letting a 10th pipeline cross the border, in addition to all the trucking and rail transport, would inhibit the development of the tar sands? Development that has just delivered more oil from Canada to the US then ever befor in history. And companies spending of many more $billions on tar sand development after the POTUS refused to sign the permit so long ago.

So the defense is that Klare isn't familiar with all these state secrets you and I have in our back pockets? Really? I would be more willing to beleive he is blinded by his passon.

The whole thing is a bit mystifying, I admit.

It would appear that the oil and gas journal doesn't understand the issue either. Here's a quote from the Klare article.

"Controversy over the Keystone XL project leaves no room for compromise. Fundamental views about the future of energy are in conflict. Approval of the project would acknowledge the rich potential of the next generation of fossil energy and encourage its development. Rejection would foreclose much of that potential in deference to an energy utopia few Americans support when they learn how much it costs."

So, according to the journal, if this pipeline is disapproved, McKibben wins. So, no wonder people are confused. I can understand how environmentalists might not have all the facts. But the oil folks don't appear to understand the issue either. Their editorial is actually hurting the pipeline. Ha Ha.

ts - A hint: I stopped reading the O&G Journal about 20 years ago...especialy their political spins. Same reason I dropped my NRA membership. And today I'm even less likely to suffer fools.

BTW took the Greenpeace post was taken in the spirit is was given: been daydreaming about an ocean voyage all afternoon. Sitting here with my less then nibble legs the thought of sitting back and watching the world go by sounds better all the time. LOL.

It's a shame much of the discussion boils down to who wins/loses and who reaps political gain and who doesn't. Science and Mother Earth are typical left outside the side door. Sadly it somehow reminds me of that tee shirt from th Viet Nam era: Kill em all and let God sort them out. As long as each side feels they are ahead in the body count competition they think they are winning.

+1, Rockman, and thanks for your insistence on the absolutely basic facts.

Meanwhile, what would be the result if McKibben actually did get Obama to cancel the project? To my eye, that would not only validate a silly gesture, but what does McKibben then do next? There is no logical next step, except perhaps sitting on the railroad tracks. All without ever mentioning the problem of the demand for oil. Rotsa ruck.

In reality, it's highly unlikely Obama will cancel it, but, even if he does, what's to stop his successor from reviving it? And what's to stop anybody from simply laying new rails?

..., except perhaps sitting on the railroad tracks

They already are sitting on the tracks!

Thirteen arrested blocking BNSF coal train in White Rock

Nobel Prize Laureate and SFU professor Dr. Mark Jaccard was among those arrested. “I’m a naïve product of working class Burnaby,” he said. “I’ve never broken a law in my life. I’m very uncomfortable taking this position.”

“If governments were acting to reduce GHG emissions, or slow the rate of increase, I wouldn’t be here today,” he continued. “I’d be helping those governments to do that. But in the last few years, especially in Canada under Harper, the emphasis has been on accelerating the rate at which we are destroying the planet. So I have to ask myself and I have to ask everyone else, ethically, what is the right thing to do? It’s made me read more about civil disobedience, people like Mahandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Henry David Thoreau.”

Rather than appreciation for his civil disobedience, Jaccard encourages participation. “I really think that we should all be doing this,” he said. “I’m here drawing attention to myself for ethical reasons, but I don’t want to be a martyr. I’d much rather that there were 10,000 of us out here. Everyone has the ability to know how dangerous the current situation is.”

In Mark Jaccard's own words...

The Accidental Activist
How an energy economist, Nobel laureate, and former government adviser found himself blocking a coal train

The man accompanying me smiled.

“Good for you, sir.”

“Thanks. I appreciate your saying that.”

“They’re trying to build a coal mine near my parents’ place on Vancouver Island. We’ve got to stop this.”

“Yes, we do.”

“Now, watch your head, sir.”

With his final comment, the young policeman gently guided me into the paddy wagon—a difficult manoeuvre with my hands cuffed behind me.

--- snip ---

Two years ago, I could not have pictured myself engaging in such a desperate attempt to stop the country’s growing production and trade of coal, oil, and natural gas. As an academic, I have spent most of my career helping governments here and abroad design policies to reduce carbon pollution, just as I am now a consultant to the California Energy Commission as the state government implements an aggressive climate policy.

And again in his own words...

Mark Jaccard calls out Stephen Harper on oil sands

The facts are simple. Our political leaders are lying to us if they aid and abet the expansion of tarsands while promising to take action to prevent the imminent climate catastrophe. If you love this planet and your children, and are humble and objective in considering the findings of science, you have no choice but to battle hard to stop Gateway and other tarsands pipelines. It is time to face up to this challenge with honesty and courage.

When Mark Jaccard, who is a reasearch fellow from the CD Howe institute, (which is very much to the right of the Canadian think tank spectrum) feels he has exhausted all avenues and is left with no other choice than civil disobedience then people ought to be paying attention. He knows the climate science, he knows the economic challenges, and he knows were doing nothing.

And he's got a couple of good reasons to give a damn...

From left, brothers Ingram and Torsten Jaccard enjoyed the alumni touch football game on Sept. 14 at Mercer Stadium. The Jaccard brothers were two of more than 50 former players to come back for the 10th anniversary celebrations.

"It's old classic Ingram," said Torsten with a big smile on his face. "He's got the game right there and he's just lost the gun to do it."

As big brother comes to give little brother a hug, you can't help but feel the brotherly love between the two.

"I had to let him win," joked Ingram. "He's the younger brother so he's supposed to win, isn't that what I should say?"

At least there are some parents out there willing to stand up for their kids' future.

Stopping the coal trains, is hardly even half the issue. The power is still being used. Stop using the power, will slow the need of more coal. Sitting on the tracks as the truck goes by with the coal, or oil, just slows a flow, doesn't stop it.

It writes stories, but doesn't do much more than get seen as grandizing. Now that he has the venue, he needs to tell people to power down, turn off the lights, dim the bulbs, grow the food themselves, stop the urban spread, drive less, build better, the lis goes on. But stopping one train doesn't seem to be doing the right thing, maybe buying the coal company, then making the land it owns a park instead of mining the coal.

I don't own a car, I walk a lot more than I used too, I buy different things, Itake the bus, I turn off the lights not only to save myself money, but thelittle bit I do, helps a bit more, sitting on the tracks will just get me in trouble I can ill afford.

I can see the news today " lady sits on train tracks, gets arrested, becomes homeless, uses less oil, claims victory, gets forgotten. " I didn't plan on having kids, some said I'd be a good mom if I had them, but I didn't see much point it in. Better to just do what I could without adding to the problem.

I guess I don't think sitting on the tracks will stop the flow of power down the power poles, only turning off the lights will do that. Doomer daze, it's winter and dark.


Good points and technically you are correct. Stopping one train does nothing but the publicity reaches many more people and -hopefully- makes a few of them think then our discussion here or your personal private efforts. Seeking publicity to reach into all those Joe the Plumber's homes is a good thing and may in the end help much more then the single train it stopped.

If the power plant was counting on timely delivery of the coal, they might have to throttle back. If it raises the cost of delivery, or necessitates an increase in the size of storage buffers, it raises the cost. That can have an effect on decisions involving which sort of power to use, i.e. does a utility executive contract for more wind, or for more coal (or more likely, when does he mothball his existing plants)? All this stuff can have an effect. Having an effect is not the same thing as stopping something cold.

The sit ins at the lunch counters during the civil rights movement or refusing to sit at the back of the bus or getting hosed by the racist sherrif might have seemed pretty hopeless at the time. In retrospect, they seem to be the beginning of a movement that changed the country. Without those, as a teenager in a southernish right wing state, I would not have even been aware that there was a movement. But the movement made me start to think about it. And the more I thought about it, the more I came to the realization that segregation was wrong and this in spite of the extreme disapproval and racism of my parents.

At the end of the day, though, we don't know what will work on climate change because nothing has worked. It is probably more fundamental and much more difficult than simply dealing with pollution. Our very way of life is threatened or at least people think it is threatened. We can't simply spend a few bucks to fix it, we have to go through a total transformation in the way we think about and use energy.

There is no either/or. Just because it makes sense to do what you are doing doesn't mean there isn't room for others to do other things. Besides, when your brain is about to explode, you just have to raise hell sometimes and put your body on the line.

Not as intense as some rail blockades in the past. Richard Miller III and others did a spectacular blockade at the source of all finished USofA nuclear weapons (PanTex) in 1985.


Be interesting to see if there is any differential between the profs getting arrested on Vancouver Island and any future Idle No More rail blockades elsewhere in Canada.

To be fair, here is another quote from Klare which shows he is not ignorant of the rail option. A key issue is whether that option is sufficient to expand the current oil flow.

"With no other pipelines in the offing, tar-sands producers are increasing their reliance on deliveries by rail. This is producing boom times for some long-haul freight carriers, but will never prove sufficient to move the millions of barrels in added daily output expected from projects now coming on line."

Now that may have some merit and adds a little nuance into the discussion that has not been available today. My bad for not picking this up before. Will the rail never be sufficient? I don't know. Klare provides no backup but that doesn't mean he is not right. What do you think?


"I’ve reached the point where I can’t consider folks like Klare and the Salon group as ignorant but rather obsessed with misleading the American people."

As if Oil-Qaeda has not done that for a few generations.

All these TOD disputations about graphs, ideas good and bad, through put data, peak oil, not peak oil, and the rest, are discussions about how civilization is going to destroy itself.

I suppose it is like a captive arguing with its captor about the most precise, economical, politically correct, and humane way to blow the whole place up and kill everyone properly.

If the captives are going to die anyway, and the captor is going to kill itself too, the only way that is not insane is for the captives to take the captor out before the captor kills everyone.

So ... once again ... who are the captors ... and who are the captives?

(It seems a bit daft to me sometimes.)


These ideas do not come exclusively from wackos, no, scientists and some other very respected and successful people have made observations in that direction, as we noted in a prior post:

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

(The Life and Death of Bright Things). A lot of the mystical ideology derives some basic notion from science, but then takes it over the edge, as in the Mayan Calendar nervousness of some months back (A Savvy Ecocosmological Earth Calendar).

(Shades of the Mayan Calendar?). Hey, wanna get together and graph the blood drainage of a victim during a session when the victim is cut up into little pieces and dies? Huh, huh?


"I’ve reached the point where I can’t consider folks like Klare and the Salon group as ignorant but rather obsessed with misleading the American people."

As if Oil-Qaeda has not done that for a few generations.

Yeah, I think your posts are over-the-top and especially the use of the childish phrase 'Oil-Qaeda' . . . but you have a point. People in the Energy biz had been denying climate change for decades now. And they often spew blatant lies. Just the other day, Fox News had someone on who said that solar power won't work in the USA like it does in Germany because Germany has so much sun.

That's right . . . you know those well-bronzed Germans that are famous for their beach volleyball teams.

It turns out that the husband of this analyst is a big energy biz financier.

At worst, I suspect Klare is being a bit naive or fluffing up a view for more views. But there is pile of lies on the energy side so it is not like Rock's biz is with unclean hands.

Hate to beat this horse, but my views of the Klare article have changed somewhat since this morning. Imagine that. Mea culpa since I made the mistake of just relying on others and not reading the full piece. Near the end of the piece, Klare makes the point that although oil can get to market via the railroads, this will still put a crimp in the amount of expanded oil that can be transported out of the oil sands area. It also, of course, cuts the profitability.

One question I have is will the lack of a pipeline cut the price so much that future oil cannot be profitably produced. Further, can the rail industry expand enough to take on additional production?

The kicker, though, is that the industry itself says it must have this pipeline or oil production will be seriously compromised.

So what is one to think? At the end of the day, this merits some further discussion and facts on the ground.

The other issue, however, is that Alberta is determined to get a pipeline even if the U.S. will not approve the cross border pipeline. This would cause some delays and would add some additional expense but this stuff is going to be released to the export market one way or another. Or is this just a bluff to encourage U.S. approval?

Oh what a tangled web this is. And who do you trust?

Yeah, I just finished reading the whole article myself and I don't see what is so bad about it. He does start out with paragraphs making it sound so hugely important but as you get through the article you see that he knows rail is being used and even Bill McKibben said that “Stopping Keystone will buy time,” . . . “and hopefully that time will be used for the planet to come to its senses around climate change.” So they know that stopping the pipeline won't stop tar sands production but merely slow it down a bit.

If the pipeline was prevented, it probably would slow further growth of the tar sands extraction. But the bits about "possibly witness the failure of costly ventures, resulting in an industry-wide contraction" . . . yeah, that is not gonna happen.

Spec – I’m going to keep pounding this in until folks get it. “Stopping Keystone will buy time,” . . . “and hopefully that time will be used for the planet to come to its senses around climate change.” Buy time??? So they mean buy time and see the development of the oil sands stifled. Stifled like it was before there was even a conversation about Keystone? Stifled like it was before rail and trucking transport were expanded? Stifled like it was when the bottle neck at Cushing had no apparent solution any time soon?

And despite all these stifling impediments countless $billions were spent on developing the tar sands which led to an all-time high in Canadian exports to the US. I don’t mean to sound so cruel but this makes me think of the football coach telling the team plans for turn around the game while the other time is in the locker room after the end of the 4th quarter boosting about which cheerleaders they are going to nail that night.

The game is over and has been since oil started bouncing around $100/bbl IMHO. And as the PO dynamics beat down harder on the global economies even less attention will be paid to the environment. Is it just those few of us here that pay attention to coal? Like the 30 years of coal that will be shipped from Illinois to Texas thanks to the POTUS’s EPA approving the Clean Air Permit. I’ll match that one act against all his speeches about saving the environment.

Again, why is it a conservative oil patch hand is the one waving the red flags and the suppose3dly ecofriendly folks are saying they are winning this battle. This battle was lost long ago IMHO. The only hope for a reversal is a prolonged decrease in oil prices. Lots of luck with those prayers.

Certainly agree on the buy time issue. When has this crazy species known as homo sapiens done a damn thing with any extra time it has bought. The Alaska pipeline let us buy some time. Fracking will give us even more time. Tar sands more still. Deep water drilling a bit of time. I am talking about peak oil but the same thing applies to climate change. Given enough time, there will be magic accompanied by a deus ex machina. Pushing the snooze button doesn't give you any more time. You still gotta get up and go to work.

I guess those actively fighting the pipeline are simply desperate for a win, even if it is a pyrrhic victory. I understand that because I have had little victories myself. But at the end of the day, the juggernaut of massive energy consumption moves on.

And you cannot rely on oil prices because it just starts the cycle all over again. You break the cycle by raising the prices to the consumer through taxes while lowering the price paid to the producer.

How much will it stifle them? Well, one pipeline worth of stifling. It clearly isn't going to stop things but it will slow them down. I've said several times that I don't think it is an effective strategy but it is not completely pointless. If the pipeline means nothing then they clearly would not want to build it would they? They are getting less money for their oil so that probably does slow investment. How much? I dunno but it is not zero.

I think Obama will approve it. It creates some (but not many) jobs. It provides a more reliable supplier than many other countries. Not building it to try to slow climate change will make a very small difference in the big picture of climate change and may extract a huge political price.

But as I've mentioned before, I'm gonna have a good laugh if the gasoline prices in the Mountain states and mid-west shoot up after it gets built because they no longer get below-world-market-price oil from Canada because that oil now has access to the ports down in LA and TX. A lot of those people are living under the impression that the pipeline will LOWER their gas prices . . . it will be a rude awakening when it actually RAISES their gas prices.

Rockman - There was a recent online article in Scientific American titled "How Much Will Tar Sands Oil Add to Global Warming?"

If you get it all, rather a lot, but I think the most important fact got buried deep in the body of the text. In 2011, over 34,000 million tons of CO2 emissions were added to the atmosphere. The tar sands share for that year was 47.1 million tons.

I am Albertan, so my opinion is naturally suspect, but it seems like rather an enormous amount of attention is being applied to a very small fraction of the problem. Even the highest future production estimates would still put CO2 emissions from tar sands at less than 1/3 of 1% of current world emission output by 2035.

As you pointed out, the XL pipeline is only one point of entry for bitumen and it is irrelevant whether or not it gets approved. I would say that ending tar sands production entirely would not make any significant difference to global warming. Although, doing so might trash the US and Canadian economies.

To paraphrase: 47.1 million here, 47.1 million there, soon you're talking 34,000 million.

If every "small" emitter says the same thing, no wonder nothing happens. Until EVERY emitter makes drastic reductions, nothing will change, except the climate will keep getting worse. And that'll trash the US and Canadian economies(and all the rest) far worse.

To paraphrase: 47.1 million here, 47.1 million there, soon you're talking 34,000 million.

47.1 here, 47.1 there, and there it stops. There are only two oil sands deposits of that scale in the world - in Canada and Venezuela. The other 33,9045.8 million tons of CO2 emissions come from elsewhere. Most of it comes from burning coal, and much of it comes from developing countries like China.

It's a numbers game. Ignore the numbers and you are ignoring the real problem.

I said every emitter, not every tar sands emitter. Why is it that everyone always attempts to make it look like their pet emissions are insignificant and everyone else's are the problem? It's everyone's emissions, yours included, that are the problem!

Since you have pointed out how miniscule the tar sands contribution is, I guess we don't have to worry about its absence doing much to hurt the gargantuan U.S. economy especially if we do everything we can to crank up alternative forms and sources of energy, including maximum conservation.

I don't know about Alberta but what did they do before the tar sands?

And frankly, that seems like a lot of CO2 considering the rather small portion of the planet that it comes from.

To be frank, do you think Canadians have an obligation to ensure that Americans have jobs? And what about the dozens of other poor countries on the planet that probably export little or nothing to Canada? Your failure to import their products is helping to perpetuate their impoverished status. Maybe it should be otherwise, but I don't think it is very compelling to in effect argue that Americans should approve the pipeline so Canadians can have jobs.

Every attempt to reduce any kind of fossil fuel energy will have some impact on jobs, starting obviously with those people who are involved in the production of that form of energy. If we accept that argument, we will do absolutely nothing on reducing our production of any fossil fuels. Therefore, accepting that argument seals our doom. On the other hand, every attempt to develop alternative sources like solar and wind will result in as many or more jobs than our reduced. In the case of coal, for example, I am sure the tradeoff would be job positive as solar is much more labor intensive.

Further, you don't actually appear to agree with Rockman because you apparently feel that shutting down the pipeline is a real threat to the tar sands industry. If you do agree with Rockman, I am not sure why you are commenting.

You misunderstand me.

I never said that shutting down the pipeline would in any significant way effect the tar sands industry. It would not. Nor did I say that the pipeline should be approved, although I would be more concerned both locally and in the states about putting seeing these toxic compounds put on railcars rather into pipelines.

I do say this is a very large proportion of the environmental effort directed at a target over which they have had little success for several decades and which would be miniscule on the global scale even if the effort could succeed entirely, unless you are solely after a token victory.

If the same level of effort had been directed toward raising awareness and support for the production tax credit, perhaps 35,000 layoffs in the Wind power industry could have been avoided last year.

Instead of running around Washington with a rubber pipe, those same demonstrators would have done more for their planet and country by arguing for a national feed in tariff for solar power.

I am not employed in any way in the oil industry and my children could assure you that I would rather not see them employed in that field.

If we are talking about survival, then the fight is a much larger war than the battle over the development of tar sands. I am not saying that tar sands development shouldn't be fought, it should. However winning this war depends on addressing the use of coal around the world far more than oil in Canada.

Unless you have unlimited resources and time, your efforts should be focussed where they will have the most effect. Tar sands consumption will not significantly effect CO2 levels in your lifetime, not compared to coal.

As for jobs in Canada, the US, and elsewhere I do not have any particular interest in whether you or anyone else is employed because I am not in a position to influence that circumstance. I hope you are, it makes lingin so much easier. However, dealing with the consequences of AGW or peak oil may require functional industrial economies. Those solar panels aren't building themselves.

Deliberately throwing wrenches at the oil industry, even the dirtiest part, might do more harm than good if there is no overall plan for how to get to a better future.

I would say that ending tar sands production entirely would not make any significant difference to global warming. Although, doing so might trash the US and Canadian economies.

Yeah, these two sentence appear to contradict each other. If it is such a small amount that it 'would not make any significant difference to global warming' then how is it enough to 'trash the US and Canadian economies'. The size seems to vary depending on if you like the effect or not.

These sentences do not contradict each other. There have been a vast number of articles on this site pointing out the unique dependancy of western industrial economies, as currently structured, on oil specifically.
If you reduce the CO2 emissions from coal by 500 million tons in one year you either have lost 3.6% of supply and may have regional brownouts or you are building a thriving renewables industry.
If you reduce the CO2 emissions from oil by 500 million tons in one year it means you have rapidly lost 4.6% of world supply and the world has just slipped into one of the worst recessions in history because the transportation industry just collapsed.

You only defended one of the sentences.

Okay, to defend both sentences, I would have to say that both are looking at the problem as having a supply side solution, when I would argue that demand needs to be addressed far more urgently.
Considering tar sands oil specifically as a problem that needs to be directly confronted means you are looking at prohibition as at least a partial solution to the problem.
To deliberately prohibit a particular form of hydrocarbon from the market has not been attempted since the 18th amendment. It did not work for alcohol and it will not work for oil, especially if you have no intention of dealing with the local equivalent of the brewers this time around.
The greatest degree of success that you could manage with that approach is to find the supply redirected to consumers with perhaps less regard for its consequences, such as China. This would effectively be accelerating the Westexas ELM model.
If Peak Oil and ELM are acceptable models of the future, blocking tars sands products directly would be equivalent to cutting yourself off from a significant share of the supply you expect to soon need for a functioning economy. No government authority in either Canada or the US is going to deliberately introduce that kind of stress to their own jurisdiction. Protests against tar sands products are not going to be any less moral or more effective than the Temperance League.
Rockman said this is a demand side problem. You need to reduce the thirst for the product globally or it will be consumed. That means a change of habits rather than blaming one product for being more sour than the others.
Whether you are looking at Peak Oil or global warming, the real solutions will come from structural change. That means reducing the transportation demand for liquid hydrocarbons with mass transit, consumption standards, fuel taxes, vehicle taxes, etc. It also means cutting the rest of the hydrocarbon dependence by conservation and substitution to non-carbon sources.
It will only work globally if world trade is restructured to penalize nations based on their demand habits, giving no free passes due to current economic status.
A failure to restructure means a future of either reduced hydrocarbon consumption due to painful deprivation, an ecologically devastated planet, or both.
I am not a huge fan of tar sands, but standing in Alberta means I can see every day that anti-tar sands action isn't working and won't work because that approach doesn't deal in any way with the demand that lead to this product being developed. So I say again, direct complaints and action against the tar sands companies won't work, can't work, and are of no great significance. If you feel hard action is needed to prevent AGW, than you need to deal with the demand causing the 37,000 million tons of annual emissions rather than focusing on a supply that causes 41 million tons of emissions.

At some point, which has been debated on this site since its inception, we will begin to reduce C02 from oil by millions of tons per year whether or not we choose to do that on purpose or not. The primary point of increased mileage standards, more biking, more pedestrians, more rail, more streetcars, more buses, more compact cities, better planning, better zoning, etc., is to drastically cut C02 by way more than 500 millions tons. It has to happen and will happen regardless, and even if all the above things are not done.

There are differences of opinion on this issue, but I agree that decreased energy usage will generally result in less economic activity. Although, the U.S. uses far more energy in total and per capital that Europe and our economic activity is not proportionately greater. In most areas, I think the Europeans have a better quality of life. Spain and Greece are hurting big time right now but I don't think that has much to do with oil.

In the mean time, while we are still in a jobs recession, the rich are doing way better than ever. The amount of money concentrated at the very top is simply incomprehensible for us mere mortals. Unless we change our economic system in the way we distribute income, those in the middle and at the bottom will continue to languish as their conditions get worse. That is the trend and it is not because of oil.

Having more oil or less oil won't change the unprecedented inequality we see in America. However, a heroic effort to provide alternative sources of energy and mobility in the mean time will go a long way to assuage the coming decreases in oil production and consumption.

As Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. said, "if not now, when?"

Yes, we are uniquely dependent upon oil. And that has been been what we have been talking about the last decade. When there was a growing consensus that peak oil was at hand, we began to see a shift in attitudes and even policy at all levels of government. I fear that the momentum has stalled and may reverse because of complacency engendered by things like the Bakken and the Tar Sands areas. Now, all of the sudden, we need to drill and mine everywhere as fast as possible or our Civilization as we know it will disappear. Well, I guess when those areas go into decline, we are screwed.

"As Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. said, "if not now, when?"

When that little pissant puts a wind turbine in his back yard.

You are behind on the news. They lost that fight years ago and the project is moving forward.

Wo. I meant Robert F. Kennedy, not the younger. Agree that Jr. is a massive hypocrite. Maybe the Sr. was too but I liked the quote.

I loved Bobby. I really, really liked Jack, but I loved Bobby.


The oil sands were developed because the companies involved believed they would be profitable. So far they have been correct. They claim to need the Keystone XL to cross the Canadian border to continue to be profitable. Anything which makes it more expensive for the Canadian oil to get to market, will reduce the profitability of oil sands investment at any given price level (say $97/ barrel) and will slow the further expansion of oil sands development.

In my opinion oil prices will continue to rise because of rising worldwide demand for oil, at some point (maybe $300/barrel in 2021) people will start to demand electric cars and public transportation and maybe we will electrify railroads. Hopefully prices for coal and natural gas will also rise to similar energy equivalent levels so that renewable energy will expand as well. At that point, fossil fuel demand will start to fall, prices will fall and hopefully fossil fuels will become like buggy whips (relatively scarce.)

I think we agree that fossil fuel prices need to fall, but I think they must rise before they will fall (because nobody needs them).

I realize that the increased oil prices will increase profits for the oil industry(and oil sands investment), my hope is that it will lead to a structural shift in energy demand towards alternatives to fossil fuel. If we look at the WTI Price Spot trend since 2002 (using EIA data) and project it forward 10 years we get the following chart:


If prices follow the exponential trend of the last 10 years (roughly tripling), they might reach $300 by 2021.
I think it unlikely that they will rise that fast, but they may double over that time frame to about $200/barrel and as prices rise alternatives will become more attractive.


Genies are awfully hard to get back in bottles, and Pandora's box is no easier to refill. The oil sands are in production, and realistically they will not cease, because they are profitable at reasonable oil prices.

Genies are awfully hard to get back in bottles, and Pandora's box is no easier to refill. The oil sands are in production, and realistically they will not cease, because they are profitable at reasonable oil prices.

Will the price become so low future oil can't be profitably produced. As Rockman is fond of reminding us, once the capital is spent on production capacity, it makes sense to produce, even if the capital will never be paid off. What is likely to be affected, is how aggressively they invest in greater capacity. So a year or two from now the production will be lower than otherwise. If the bottleneck has been eliminated by then, then further expansion can proceed from there.

Actually, the Germans have some very strong beach volleyball teams - one in the top ten in the rankings in both men's and women's - AND Germany won the men's gold in London last year! China, Latvia, Switzerland, and the Netherlands also have strong teams, though the US and Brazil are probably the strongest countries overall.

Solar power, beach volleyball... It seems the Germans are pretending they live in a tropical country, and doing it better than any tropical country as well.

Damn it . . . I knew making up some sarcastic claim would come back and bite me.

Instant peer review is a bitch.

Do we blame the oil companies for getting oil that is then used, or do we blame ourselves for using it if it is gotten?

Dredd you seem to point your finger at the Oil-folks-( using the hot button word for terrorist group )companies for the issues at hand. But it isn't all their fault, we have to take responiblity for using the stuff too. I was born in a world that did not have cellphones. Did I jump on the boat as soon as they arrived? No. I still have one of those clunky push button desk paper weight phones, I like them. Just because there is a new T V kind out this year, doesn't mean I have to go buy it. Just because the new kinds of dresses are out this season, doesn't mean I have to go buy them. I take a t-shirt and attach fabric to the bottom and have a dress in about 2 hours of sewing. A lot of the blame is rightly put on the person thatbuys the new every year in a greedy way that they seem to have let others tell them is the " right thing to do " even though it is greedy needing to have what Jane down the road just got.

Just because Jane down the block does it, doesn't mean I have too. New improved, seems to just herald more willing to dig bigger holes to fund the growth of new and improved. Then again I don't have any other mouths to feed, and don't have kids screaming Mommy Mommy look what Jane's kids have..

But we are to blame just as much for the oil as the companies are, it is our fault too.


But we are to blame just as much for the oil as the companies are, it is our fault too.

No doubt. But what is the most vulnerable point at which to attack the system? The answer to that has nothing to do with apportioning blame. Easier to attack a dozen oil companies, than 300 million consumers.

eos - And the vast majority of those 300 million consumers are the primary protector of the US oil patch. Attack a dozen oil companies if you want but with what goal? Those consumers just spent $trillions and sacrificed thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of other lives in the ME protecting oil companies IMHO.

I don't enjoy busting anyone bubble but here's a hint from the inside: despite some theatrical hand ringing by Big Oil's PR folks no one in the oil patch has any concern about having our efforts restricted. We have absolute faith the consumers will destroy anyone that attempts to get in our way. As I pointed out to someone who used the old "oil companies are drug pushers and the public is the addict" line: IMHO that's 180 degrees wrong-headed. The oil patch is addicted to the monies the consumers incessantly push at us. And like every good drug pusher the consumers will whack anyone that interferes with their operations. And like every addict as long as the oil patch keeps getting it fix we’ll just keep rolling along. You ever hear of an addict that wasn’t very happy when they’re high? LOL.

Trying to stop the consumers from supplying the oil patch with their "smack" should be about as successful as the efforts to stop the Mexican drug cartels from supplying their "market".

BBC HARDtalk - Fatih Birol - Chief Economist, International Energy Agency

This is a 25 minute video of Fatih Birol discussing Peak Oil, Arctic Oil, Iraqi Oil and Global Warming. A 1.5 minute link of this was posted about a month ago, on Arctic Oil, but this is the first time a link to the entire episode has been posted here or discussed.

Birol is very pessimistic on Arctic oil, very optimistic on Iraqi Oil, he says 40 to 45 percent of all new oil by 2030 will come from Iraq, but what he says about global warming will blow you away. Hint: he is very pessimistic. That part is in the last two minutes of the video.

Ron P.

Why, do you think, Mr. Birol did not correct the coiffed interviewer on his assumption that unconventional oils were recent discoveries and recoverable because of applied new technologies rather than higher prices making them feasible economically?
Mr. Birol must be aware of this surely, or would stating such things entail straying too far off of the (IEA) reservation?

It is a little surprising to hear Birol go on air with the 6 degrees C assertion. It illustrates a real split between the EU and USA on climate change. Anyone on the US side who embraces the IPCC consensus (relatively conservative at somewhere near 3 degrees C, depending on how you frame it) gets tagged as an alarmist, but in this interview we see the EIA lining up with the World Bank on a much worse projection. Actually the projection for committed warming from the World Bank report was 4C.

I agree with Trenberth on this one:

"I am inclined to think that things will break before we get there," Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said of a 4-degree-C world. Ecosystems would change so much and agriculture would be so disrupted that the result would likely be "major strife, conflicts and loss of population," Trenberth told LiveScience.

EDIT: Temp rise attributable to greenhouse forcing is a little under 1 degree C, and things are breaking already...

"I am inclined to think that things will break before we get there," Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said of a 4-degree-C world.

It leaves a lot of room as to what is meant by, "will break before we get there." Does he mean countries will break the current deadlock on AGW action needed to be taken to avert reaching a 4C world? Or does he mean we'll break under that kind of temperature rise long before reaching 4C? Or maybe something else.

I agree with your comment too about things already breaking at less than 1C. Obviously a very sensitive system. Any kind of world with 4-6C temp. increase will not in any way resemble the one we now have.

"... a little under 1 degree C, and things are breaking already ..."

Great point.

Those who were "alarmist" (i.e. spot on) were castigated historically, and soon those who were "cautiously optimistic" (i.e. pumping out the pabulum) will be castigated hysterically.

The former is the safer castigation. ;)

In case of our life support system I'd rather make a type I error then a type II error. Better to be a few percent less rich then dead, me thinks.

Far too many people apparently would rather choose death. Give me my oil and coal or give me death. Or,"take my SUV from my cold, dead hands".

What did the bug answer? :-))))

Thanks for the link, very strange interview.
After the initial attack "is your report worth the paper its printed on", you could have expected a review of over optimistic predictions over the years, but no, the reverse : you didn't see the shale "revolution" coming, why did you talk about peak oil and such ...

The disconnect is getting so huge.

China overtakes US in world trade
Combined total for imports and exports of Chinese goods hits $3.87tn, edging past the US for the first time.


Great heads up. Thanks for the link.

Energy minister lays out Alberta’s new oil strategy

Alberta is renewing efforts to add value to resources at home and is taking a serious second look at export options that seemed inconceivable just two years ago, Energy Minister Ken Hughes says.

The province’s first economic summit on Saturday reinforced the pressing the need to get oilsands products to international markets, and Hughes said his department is working on an aggressive new plan to upgrade Alberta’s resources in Canada and get them to coastal ports for export “however we can.”

The options include:

  • Pipelining the oil north from Alberta to Norman Wells, NWT using the existing ROW which brings Norman Wells oil south, and then from Norman Wells to Alaska using the ROW for the abandoned Canol pipeline, built during WW2, and then exporting it through the Alaska port of Valdez
  • Pipelining the oil to the Arctic port of Churchill, Manitoba on the shores of Hudson Bay, and exporting it from there. Manitoba would transmit hydroelectricity back to Alberta on the same ROW as something of a deal sweetener for them.

These ideas are in addition to well-known proposals such as the Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, B.C., the Keystone XL pipeline to the United States, the West-to-East line that would carry Alberta crude to the Atlantic and the G7G proposal to ship oil by rail to Valdez.

The Alberta government appears to have lost all patience with the US government, the Canadian government, and all other governments and is going to do whatever it takes to get its oil to market regardless of who or what stands in the way. "Aggressive" is the operative word in this context.

Alberta is sitting on one of the largest deposits of oil in the world in the form of its oil sands, and I think it has decided to move that oil to market regardless of who stands in the way. As they say in the game of hockey, the gloves are coming off. You would have to play hockey, Canadian-style, to know exactly what that means.

As they say in the game of hockey, the gloves are coming off. You would have to play hockey, Canadian-style, to know exactly what that means.

Yeah, but if Little Old Moma Nature gets any hotter under the collar, she might just slap both the US and Canadian governments upside the head with that hockey stick of hers. So it might not be a bad idea if cooler heads prevailed all around and all those oil sands remained unexploited... not that I realistically expect that will happen. So I gotta wonder how the players will look in their shorts and tanktops playing beach volleyball?!

Yeah, but if Little Old Moma Nature gets any hotter under the collar, she might just slap both the US and Canadian governments upside the head with that hockey stick of hers.

Excellent pun usage. Well done, sir!

...and oil can't buy love ;-) Reminds me of the guy in Alabama who won the lottery, basically tried to buy the town. He found out nobody worth knowing cared; moved to Florida...

Many think any realistic cap on a 4C rise in temperature is delusion-- and we are stuck with that for 1000 years.

Might be time for everyone to start telling the truth.

We need to keep what we can in the ground, and prepare for a very different world.

I believe this has been already linked, but well worth a listen:

Rocky – I don’t know if you’ve been following my chat with some of our cohorts here but it’s gotten very unreal. Me, the conservative oil patch hand, is warning folks that it doesn’t matter if the POTUS approves that short border crossing segment of Keystone or not. OTOH the anti-oil sands folks are claiming some sort of potential victory if he doesn’t because it will hurt the economics and slow down development. And I keep responding the same: even with all the impediments that already exist (no Keystone border crossing, Cushing bottle neck, etc.) Canada exported more oil to the US in 2012 than ever before. And almost all that increase was from the tar sands. Some offer that denying the K permit will keep 700,000 bbls of tar sand production in the ground. And I don’t even offer all the potential alternate export routes you’ve just outlined…just the system as it exists today.

So I, the petroleum geologist, am posting warnings (just as you do) and the environmentalists are cheering the delay in the K permit as some kind of victory that will stifle oil sand development. Truly surreal.

Well, we will know the outcome soon as I expect that Kerry will make a decision on this issue soon. One way or another, everyone can move on to other issues. I can only hope that the Sierra Club, McKibben, etc. will choose a bigger, more tasty fish to fry on their next campaign. The Sierra Club, however, has been fighting new coal plants for years with some success. Part of this success, of course, was because of the availability of cheap natural gas. The next step will be to get rid of the old plants. And then there is the movement to stop expansion of coal export facilities in the Washington area. Just because McKibben may be wasting his time on this issue doesn't mean there aren't a lot of other people and groups fighting issues that have more significance.

As I said before, part of the fault here is with the oil and tar sands industry. Maybe if they hadn't pushed back so hard, less environmentalists would have believed the pipeline was such a big deal. Maybe it's part of big oil's plan to divert attention. Again, a tangled web.

ts - I think part of the confusing is painting the entire oil patch with one brush. The oil patch is neither for nor against to Keystone permit. Nor is the energy industry for or against coal mining or US coal-fired plants. Nor is the industry for or against increasing domestic production or importing more oil. Me and a lot of Gulf Coast operators would be very pleased see any effort to limit oil sand development. The Chinese would be very happy to see the oil sands develop especially if an export outlet directly to them is developed. The folks who’ll build the pipeline would be very happy to see oil sand develop blossom. I would be every happy to see that coal-fired plant being built on top of my NG field (NG I’m selling relatively cheap) not get their Clean Air permit from President Obama’s EPA. But I’m sure the owners of the Illinois coal fields whole supply that plant with fuel for the next 30 years are very pleased with the EPA permit.

The Alberta govt is pleased with the oil sands royalty they’re getting. The Texas govt isn’t pleased with the potential loss of royalty income if the Canadian crude lowers the price Texas crude sells for. Texas consumers will be pleased if the Canadian oil lowers the price for motor fuel. Gulf Coast refiners will be pleased to see cheaper Canadian crude that might fatten their margins.

There is no “they” in the oil patch. Just as there is no “they” in the environmental movement, the anti-AGW group, the R/D parties, etc. It might be convenient to clump everyone together but it can confuse the discussions IMHO.

WELL SAID, thou true and faithful ROCK. Thank you.

Me, the conservative oil patch hand, is warning folks that it doesn’t matter if the POTUS approves that short border crossing segment of Keystone or not. OTOH the anti-oil sands folks are claiming some sort of potential victory if he doesn’t because it will hurt the economics and slow down development. And I keep responding the same: even with all the impediments that already exist (no Keystone border crossing, Cushing bottle neck, etc.) Canada exported more oil to the US in 2012 than ever before.

There is no contradiction between those two positions so I don't see why you find it surreal. They can keep expanding tar sands oil production without the pipeline but the expansion may increase at a slower rate and/or they will probably get less money for their oil.

spec - I do hear what you're saying but do you get what I'm saying: without the Keystone p/l, and with the Cushing bottle neck, and without the expanded rail and truck transport of oil, and with all the anti-oil sand development cries, etc., the oil sands have BOOMED and Canada is exporting more oil to the US than ever before. And now, without the development of just one pipeline the oil sands are going to crash into a brick wall, $billions will be lost by the oil patch, countless $billions will be withheld from further expansion of the oil sands, etc, etc. And this will happen concurrently with the Cushing bottle neck being relieved potentially allowing for higher prices to Canadian producers. And concurrent with more rail/truck oil transport being built. And with serious considerations be given to alternate routes to the west coast (and the Asian markets) over lands the native folks have no control over. RMG has provided some excellent insight to those possible routes that we've gotten from no one else.

I'm not trying to taunt anyone let alone rub their nose in it. But the “war” against the development of the tar sands has already been lost IMHO. And as alternate transport routes (not counting on Keystone) are developed and as the PO dynamics push us closer to those really bad days many here truly anticipate the tar sands will develop even greater production rates IMHO. Remember what I do for a living: from a purely personal and wholly selfish standpoint I’m 110% opposed to the exploitation of the tar sands. It’s not some concern about some theoretical damage to the earth’s environment. It’s a bottom line dollars and cents issue to me. I can’t allow myself some delusion that the tar sands won’t become an even bigger factor in global oil production over time. I have to make recommendations to my owner today based upon what I see in my rather cloudy crystal ball with regards to future oil prices. The development of the tar sands is a significant issue to me.

So I, the petroleum geologist, am posting warnings (just as you do) and the environmentalists are cheering the delay in the K permit as some kind of victory that will stifle oil sand development. Truly surreal.

Yah, I still wonder how the oil patch folk can possibly resist the temptation from all the evil, money pushing, consumers who continue to wave fist loads of sweet green cash at all you poor money addicts. I hear there was even a money addicts anonymous group in Alberta that was recently sabotaged by evil consumers who showed up with wheelbarrows full of extra strength GMO greenbacks. Going cold turkey is really hard. You will probably go through some serious withdrawal but trust me, it's the only way to go. Just say NO! >;-)

FM - So funny it almost makes you want to cry. LOL. Maybe I'm just too dang cynical but that idea that any POTUS would ever do anything that would be construde as intentionally raising the cost of energy to the American consumer or restricting it in any way is beyond absurd IMHO. And I don't mean to insult the folks who are trying to fight the good battle. More power to them. But expectations of significant and meaningful success? Maybe a POTUS would try some sort of backdoor move like tacking on higher taxes or fees to energy production to curb exploitation of those resources. But how quickly would the other side constantly blame him for any percieved increased costs to the public? I don't care what anyone says about lobyists and influnece peddling. At the end of the day we have the leadershp the American public elects. And that public always has and always will IMHO demand as much energy as cheaply it can be provided and won't hesitate to destroy anyone or any organization that stands in the way of that goal.

Yes, it is surreal. We are trying to point out that it doesn't help to restrict pipeline construction because the oil companies will find some way around the bottlenecks if the price differentials are large enough. The objectors are simply playing Whack-a-Mole with some very nimble moles.

The better solution is to restrict demand, which is to say, increase fuel taxes or introduce rationing. Hit the end consumer. That would work because if the demand is not there, the oil sands will not be developed.

However, that appears to be politically infeasible in the US, so the objectors will continue to pursue solutions that won't work. The price differentials are simply too large, and the players too good at getting around obstacles.

Really? Anti-drugs enforcement should only target demand, not the dealers or the supply lines?

Styno - A very poor and consistently incorrect analogy IMHO. Does the DEA give tax breaks to the dealers? Does the DEA get a cut of the dope sales via an income tax? Is the DEA the largest supplier of dope to the drug dealer? (you do understand the US govt is the single largest mineral owner in the country and its leases supply more oil/NG than the next 10 largest suppliers?) Is the DEA the sole source of the licenses that the dealers need in order to conduct their “business”? Do the folks (the American citizens) that fund the DEA operations insist that the DEA do everything in its power to facilitate the production and sales of that "dope"? Does the DEA keep a huge volume of "dope" safely hidden away in salt caverns just in case the dealers run short? Can the boss of the DEA (the POTUS) immediately cut out a huge source of the “dope” by signing an executive order (as he did after the Macondo blowout). An EO that has since been rescinded. Could the DEA immediately squash a large portion of the dope sales by adding a huge tax (motor fuel tax) to the product? I could go on with many more examples of why that analogy is so silly but I think I made my point.

IMHO the prime problem is the very inefficient and wasteful use of a necessary but dwindling resource. The best solution is to drive down demand. But that would really piss of the folks who elect the guys that run the DEA. And that could cost those bosses their jobs. The oil patch isn’t the only addicts IMHO…so are the politicians.

Rock, I agree an analogy only goes so far, there's always details and more details. However you and your brother in oil, MontyRock, washing your own hands claiming it's only a demand/government side problem is quite inaccurate as well. Providing the supply is a choice too.

The US may open drilling in the Arctic but Shell is not forced to pick up this challenge, it's their choice. The Albertan government may open the tar sands area for large scale industrialization but Suncor or Shell aren't forced to start digging, it's their choice.

Corporations and individuals are not excempt from responsibliity just because government provides an opportunity.

Actually corporations and government are often the same people, going seamlessly between , and both with the same interests (obviously).

Styno - Have you ever seen many drug addicts forced to get high? No one (at least not me or RMG)is saying the oil patch isn't voluntarily following that road. The incentives provided by society are just too good. But you put up the addiction analogy. And by definition that is what an addict is: someone unable to not follow that path. Of course, there's always rehab for an addict. What would offer as a rehab program for the oil patch? What program will replace our cash driven high? Of course, the current crop of oil companies could be put of business just like we could lock up every junkie. And what does a drug pusher do when his junkies get sent up? Easy: go find some more junkies that want that high. If every existing oil US oil company disappeared tomorrow do you really think the American public would allow the govt to prevent others from taking their place?

Again, I think the drug addict analogy is perfect. Just need to be clear who the pusher is.

I think the argument that "if I don't do it someone else will" is a logical fallacy (tu quoque) and does not stand up to scrutiny. What do you think of the last sentence in my previous post? In the drug analogy all parties are more or less guilty, oil companies are not exempt from taking responsibility just because there is demand.

This is starting to resemble the argument about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin but I think another alternative meme is that we have a situation of codependency here, not a simple situation where just one party is addicted. Both parties are addicted. The consumer is addicted to the things that require oil, including money and the producer is addicted to money that it gets from the oil. They are intertwined and, of course, both parties are human which means they both have the same genetic and cultural imprints.

The oil and natural gas companies do some pushing of their product through propaganda otherwise known as advertising and they remind us daily how completely dependent we are on their products. They tell us that the good life and even our very lives represented by medical products made from petroleum are dependent upon their continuation of a "balanced" approach to energy supplies. They trot out faux consumers who proclaim to the skies how wonderful and necessary the oil and gas companies are. I grew up under the "see the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet meme and ready kilowatt and I bought it,hook, line, and sinker. Even before I was 16, I used to sneak my parents' car out of the driveway by having it pushed down the driveway so they couldn't hear me drive off. I did the whole drive up and down the Broadway routine from burger joint to burger joint looking for girls.

I am rambling now but my first car was a 1963 VW. Now that is the weird part because by the time I was 19, I had already forsaken the American dream and bought into the small is beautiful meme even though that meme had not been formally developed yet by Schumacher.

Yes, we are pushing money on the oil and gas companies but that is in part because we have constructed a society and infrastructure that is highly dependent upon the products we buy. But it is a push pull situation and it is an interactive system so that it is impossible to unravel a simple cause and effect from one party to another.

In the small town in which I live, some of us have tried from time to time to have the town replace part of the main street down town with a pedestrian/bike/shuttle bus mall to replace the largely pointless stream of cars that currently pollute our little town. We might as well be proposing this from the vantage point of Mars. Suggestions of this type cause metaphorical blood to flow in the streeets as people literally aver that it their God given right to drive through and park in this little narrow strip of the planet. The thought that they might have to walk a block or two to get to their destination cause a panic reaction that could only come from a seriously addicted drug addict.

I.e. it is a system. We may as well try to decide if the arm or the kidneys of a criminal are at fault. It is us, it is the world we have built around us, and it is becoming very hard to ignore that failings of it. Everyone wants of try to figure out how to tweak that world and keep it going, with all of us in it keeping our privileges and comforts, but that will not be possible because those are the problem. So this effort to try to find someone - someone ELSE - to blame is just part of the mental gymnastics needed to avoid contemplating the real implications of the changes required.

I am listening to the SOTU speech right now. Obama just promised even more production of oil and natural gas as part of an all of the above strategy. He implied that there would be more public lands available for oil and gas. And this was in the context of his global warming section of the speech. He wants more solar, wind, and conservation, too and also wants to convert more of our cars away from oil. He also talked about clean natural gas and said we need to make it even cleaner. Don't really get that part but oh well.

Nothing has changed. We fix global warming by making everyone happy and ensure that no one has to sacrifice or cut back on anything. Growth, baby, growth.

He didn't mention coal.

He made it clear that we are faced with disaster and that our recent floods, drouths, Sandy, etc. are clearly a function of global warming. So, in the face of certain disaster and deep fried children, his response is more of the same.

Obama clearly agrees with you and understands the American people which may explain in part why he is the President.

No mention of the pipeline.

A longage of expectations...

About 3,450 km too long...

I too listened to the speech until I got sleepy. Obama did mention our energy problems, though one would need to read between the lines to get his message. For example, in the prepared text, he wrote:

After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar - with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before - and nearly everyone's energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.

Then, a little further on, he wrote:

In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That's why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. [emphasis added]

Is Obama referring to the Keystone pipeline in that batch of "new oil .. permits"? and, I swear that I heard him say "all of the above energy policy", or something similar, but didn't find that in the text. Of course, his mandate for higher fuel economy doesn't really begin until 2025 and won't have much effect for another 5 years, as older vehicles are phased out, assuming people actually will buy those cars, given his promised cheap fuel...

E. Swanson

He did say all of the above. Insane.

ts - Again maybe all of us in the oil patch are delusional but none of my cohorts are the least bit concerned about future govt policies working against our interests. I heard nothing in the SOTU that would alter those feelings. Personal income taxes? That's a whole different conversation. LOL.

Hey RMG:

I seem to recall you said that Alberta (or the feds?) charge 2% royalties on the oil sands until the infrastructure is paid off; then 20%.
I see that the Alberta government is hurting for cash.

Do you think
A) the companies do keep expanding to avoid paying off the machinery or
B) the government could change the rules to make more money?

Just curious if you have any thoughts or can give me any link to the royalty legislation?


It's a BPO/APO deal (before payout/after payout). Before payout of the capital costs of a project, the royalty rates are 2% of production, after payout they are 25%. In the case of the oil sands these are take-in-kind (TIK) royalties - the government takes its share in the form of crude bitumen rather than cash. It then has to sell the bitumen on the market to convert it into cash.

This is all oil industry jargon, but the result is that the government is fully exposed to market risks. If oil prices are low, the difference comes off government revenues. The Alberta government deliberately designed it this way so that it is absorbing the market risk. If oil is priced at full market value, the government gets maximum benefit. If it has to be sold at a low price, the government takes its share of the losses. This is designed to encourage oil companies to develop resources because the government, and not they, are at risk if prices are reduced.

Governments only do this kind of thing if they have a lot of clout over the market. I call it the Big Hammer - the power to change the laws. Governments in Canada are losing billions in revenue because of pipeline restrictions. I expect the Big Hammer to come out sometime in the not too distant future.

Thanks, that helped.

If one doesn't even try to stop the full development of the tar sands including the required infrastructure, then we can be sure it will be developed. The fight is required on every level and on every step of the way. Pessimism like 'it's going to be developed anyway, so why bother' will lose us even the small % chance that it can be stopped.

And even when everything fails then at least some can say to their grandchildren: I'm sorry young ones, I tried.

Sometimes one must take a existential view, and do what is right, no matter what the result.
Continuing this is suicidal madness, and must be acknowledged as such.
Much of society needs to live inside a Ibsen Play, or they would be on the ground screaming in a fetal position.

At the end of the day, many of us find we have to do what we consider to be the right thing even if we know we are fighting against impossible odds. In this case, however, I am not sure fighting the pipeline is even the right thing. The point is that it appears that stopping the pipeline is not the same thing as stopping the production of the tar sands. It is not the pipeline that is the problem; it is what is flowing through the pipeline.

As I said, I am not sure. Anyway, this issue will be effectively over soon one way or another.

ts - No doubt you understand the frustration of the anti-tar sand folks as well as I do. But as you said in an earlier post: to continue fighting a war you've already lost might allow some sense of self-worth but it takes away energy that could be applied to other battles yet decided. Every energy resource will be developed because doing so will be demanded (and funded) by the consumers. They are not only in control the economics of all these projects by providing the financial incentives but also construct the laws that allow it to happen.

It’s so simple it frustrates me too: folks don’t want the tar sands developed…no problem. All the Alberta govt need do it not allow anymore leasing. No amount of influence or money by the companies can keep resistant politicians in office if the citizens of Alberta collective don’t want those resources developed. They’ll vote in folks that will follow their will. If the people do that then there’s no reason for a Keystone. No reason for trying to build other pipelines or transport systems to the west coast. If the US govt (and its citizens) want to put an immediate halt to the oil sands development: add an extra $2/gallon tax to US motor fuel. Nothing in NAFTA to prevent that. That would also probably kill nearly all the frac jobs planned in the shales as well as all the other potential Macondo nightmares currently permitted in the GOM. And probably kill anymore Arctic adventures planned.

See: problem solved.

That's absolutely correct. If the US government wanted to kill oil sands development, all it would have to do is introduce a $2.00 per gallon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel. That would reduce oil demand to the point where oil sands were uneconomic.

What are the chances of that happening in the US political system? Approximately zero.

If the US government wanted to kill oil sands development, all it would have to do is introduce a $2.00 per gallon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel.

That would cut US demand for those things. But the true drivers of global oil demand are elsewhere. Besides that politically a no go. So other means are choosen. Given that we (the citizens) are dealing with a complex and corrupt system, don't expect that the most logical plan is the best.

If it is like so, a similar deposit in Europe would not be developed.

Fox News and it's large zombie audience are proof that swift logical action to 'new' knowledge will not allways be taken using the red pencil. There's too much at stake for politicians, large corporations and ideologists. Saying 'all the Alberta govt need to do is not allow leasing' is too simple. So while voters may try to influence government through voting it doesn't mean other ways of making sure unwanted things won't happen should be ignored.

Civil disobedience and other forms of protesting still have use even within a democracy which, I think, you will agree with.

Toward a Cure for Range Anxiety

Judging from John M. Broder’s harrowing account of driving a Tesla Model S up Interstate 95, the range anxiety that discourages acceptance of all-electric vehicles in the Northeast is well-founded.
In his case, the vehicle did not live up to his advertised range. But more broadly, such cars appear unlikely to be embraced by consumers until a network of charging stations is established that instills confidence.

I think people should not take long trips in battery EVs. That is not what they are for. You wanna go long distances then get hybrid, ride a train, buy a plane ticket, etc. If you HAVE to go a long distance with your EV then you can do it if it has a fast-charge port but you have to plan well. And don't ever not plug in your car at night during a long trip like this idiot did. (You can always at least find a 120V outlet unless you are out camping.)

That said . .


Uh oh . . . did the NY Times just get busted? They may end up with egg on their face if they lied.

Seems that the main problem here was reduced mileage due to cold weather - partly reduced battery capacity but mostly diversion of battery power to heat the cabin (at least until the heater was throttled back at some point during the trip). Of course we in the Northeast are well aware that a good portion of an ICE's notorious inefficiency is heat that we actually recover to warm the cabin and defog/defrost the glass during winter. On this EV, how big of a problem would it be to add a small butane or propane heating system specifically for long winter road trips? Does anyone know how the electric heat is sourced in this car? If resistance, that would be a serious drain right off the top. Or maybe they have a dual A/C system that can act as an air source heat pump? Even that would be a significant load, and more so at lower outside temperatures.

Yeah, the main issue was that he left a mostly-depleted car sit overnight unplugged and then decided to drive it far the next day. The Tesla probably used some energy to keep the battery warm overnight. All he had to do was plug it into an ordinary 120V outlet that night and he probably would not have had a problem. That power could have pre-heated the car, condition the batteries, and charge up the batteries a bit.

Regarding heating, yes, a hydrocarbon heating system would be a good idea for cold climates. Using battery power for heating is a waste of valuable battery power. Volvo has put in hydrocarbon based heating into EVs they designed. But again, he should have plugged it in overnight. Then you can use line-current to pre-heat your car instead of valuable battery energy.

I'm not sure but I think the Tesla has a heat pump system for heating which is much more efficient that simply using electricity. Conceptually at least it consists of running the AC system in reverse. Of course even that can't compare with using heat energy you were just dumping overboard otherwise.

It doesn't sound like there was anything nefarious going on.

The Times responded:

Any suggestion that the account was "fake" is, of course, flatly untrue. Our reporter followed the instructions he was given in multiple conversations with Tesla personnel. He described the entire drive in the story; there was no unreported detour. And he was never told to plug the car in overnight in cold weather, despite repeated contact with Tesla.

I suspect this is the root of the issue.

Had this story run any other time, Tesla and other electric vehicle supporters could have easily shrugged off the ride as another quirk in the adventure. Model S owners have reported several glitches in the car; last December, a Model S left an Autoweek writer stranded and required an emergency house call from a Tesla mechanic. But we're days away from Tesla reporting fourth-quarter financial results, from when the company was reaching full production on the Model S. Investors pushed Tesla's stock down on the story this morning; one analyst told The Wall Street Journal the earnings would be "the make-or-break quarter." That's hyperbole, but after years of talk Wall Street wants proof Tesla can make money building $90,000 electric cars. Without it, the ranks of the anxious will keep growing.

Passivhaus on a Budget

Location: Climate Zone 4A — Thaxton, VA
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2.5
Living Space : 1808 sqf
Cost (USD/sq. ft.): $150/sqf

$150/sf includes septic, well, and some site work

Al Gore backs growing fossil fuel divestment campaign

A US campaign to encourage universities and cities to drop their investments in fossil fuel companies is gaining momentum

“If I were a student, I would support what you’re doing,” Gore told students, speaking on campus at Harvard. “But if I were a board member I would do what I did when we took up the Apartheid issue. This is an opportunity for learning and the raising of awareness, for the discussion of sustainable capitalism.”

Of course he just accepted hundreds of millions of oil money from Al-Jazeera buying his TV network Current. :-/

I'd say selling to a truly respectable media outlet doesn't really show him up as some kind of hypocrite, as much as he seems to be the target of every 'hyprocrite' arrow that folks want to loose.

Or to step back in another direction. Is there any money that ISN'T oil money?

What would one say if he had sold to, say, Fox news? Or the WSJ. Or the FT. The list goes on. I try to differentiate between my own feelings about events and the actual events. More often than not there is a huge difference.

WP - To be honest I'm not a Gore fan for a variety of reasons. And I became a fan of AJ while In Africa so I'm happier with them in control.

The Story of the Century

At an energy conference held at the University of Texas, Austin, one 90-minute panel was devoted to a discussion of "Energy Coverage in the Media." Moderated by Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, the panel featured brief presentations by four journalists followed by a moderated Q&A.

"The Story of the Century" is the title of the talk presented by David Sassoon, publisher of InsideClimate News. He explains why the growing conflict between energy security and environmental security is the emerging story of the century, and asks whether a journalism industry in crisis is equipped to handle its coverage.

The video begins with this presentation, and also includes remarks by Clifford Krauss, Houston-based energy correspondent for the New York Times, Russell Gold, Austin-based energy reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and Karl de Meyer, U.S. correspondent for the French daily Les Echos. The moderated discussion and Q&A these journalists had afterward is also included.

Videos of full proceedings of the conference are available at http://www.youtube.com/user/utCES.

The media certainly can't handle it. They are in such a weak state . . . are they going to risk alienating potential advertisers like oil, gas, and car companies?

But then again, I don't think anyone knows how to handle it. We all want cheap fuel so we can cheaply travel anywhere . . . yet none of us wants to doom our children to a world with detrimental climate change effects. How do we stop living the way we have always lived because of an abstract long-time concept such as climate change that most people don't understand?

North Korea conducts a nuclear test.
The USGS quake map shows a 5.1 event in N Korea, likely a detonation, about three hrs ago.



And it has been confirmed by North Korea


Here are some details about the seismic readings, likely yield of the device, and why the writer thinks the N Koreans may now be using enriched Uranium instead of Plutonium.


[edit] Thought they had disappeared it, but it helps to look at the right peninsula...

What's going on North of Vanuatu?

It's a major quake swarm.
Click to zoom in and see 204 out of 375 quakes.

Quaking for several days now.

One can only hope there's not another big Kuwae event building up steam...

E. Swanson

Canadian housing bubble set to burst?

"The U.S. housing market peaked in 2006 and it looks like Canada is five-years behind the curve. The rise in Canadian real estate is simply unjustified. Household incomes in Canada have not come close to keeping pace with real estate values in each respective market."

This is one of the potential "surprises" I like to keep an eye on - one of those things large enough to fudge-up the timing of events on a potential global scale. I think it was RockyMtnGuy that said that Canadian housing prices were justified vs. US housing during it's bubble because their banking system wouldn't allow the shenanigans that ours did...but the numbers look pretty damning there.

If we look at price-to-income, price-to-rent, and debt-to-income ratios, the Canadian housing market is in a massive bubble, especially here in Vancouver. Although everyone thinks the Canadian banks are in better shape than other banks around the world, this doesn't mean that many loans that the banks have originated over the last few years are ever going to be paid back in full. All low ratio mortgages (less than 20% down payment) are insured in Canada, mostly by the Canadian government. The banks therefore don't care if the loans go bad, and have lent large amounts of money to unqualified borrowers. Basically a delayed repeat of the US housing meltdown.

The Canadian housing did burst in 2009, it is just that it did so with more of a gentle "pop" than a huge "BANG!" - You can see it in the graphs. This was because the kind of financial shenanigans that crippled the US housing and financial industry were illegal in Canada and there was much less air in the bubble. The Canadian housing and financial industries recovered from it fairly quickly, whereas the US has not recovered at all.

Eventually the run up in prices will come to an end, but there will not be a huge collapse due to the lack of air space in the bubble. The end will come when demand from the Asian market, particularly China abates. Remember, Vancouver is a huge port city - the biggest port on the west coast of the Americas - and it is moving huge amounts of goods two ways, to and from Asia.

In general, Canadian cities are benefiting from the huge increase in Chinese trade. The same cannot be said for American cities which are being hurt by it. The American manufacturing base was much larger than in Canada, whereas Canadian cities are more driven by trade and finance associated with raw materials production.

If interest rates rise much at all there will be very giant pop, in Vancouver certainly if not the rest of the country. People are paying a million+ for a shack. They will not be able to pay those mortgages once interest rates go up.

If minimum loan requirements are 20%, then there is protection from the first 20% of a bubble popping. Likely losses from a bigger drop are not too badly contained either -at least compared to say south of the border, or in Spain. In the US although its counterintuitive, Texas had better banking regulation than the rest, and their economy has not suffred as badly as the other states. So while the banking buffer in Canada may not be as large as we would hope, it will still make a sunstantial difference in the result.

Well the average house price in Canada is now almost double the price in the US, and house prices in the US are priced near historical inflation adjusted averages. It's a bubble by any reasonable definition.

The comments on that article are just about as interesting as the article itself.

"The Canadian banks are FULLY insured against mortgage defaults by the CMHC, a crown corporation. The banks are not on the hook for anything."

"Canadian banks have even copied zero-down, exploding ARMs! Right now you can get 7% cash back with 5% down (i.e. -2% down payment). on a 5 year fixed at 2.99%.

http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/mortgages/cash-back-mortgage.html "
It looks like when the bubble started deflating in 2007 they pulled all of the tricks out of the US's playbook and added some Canadian flair.

Here's more of that first chart: http://worldhousingbubble.blogspot.com/2012/01/case-schiller-vs-canada-a...

Smart to be stupid

Economists at Lund university have researched about what they call "functional stupidity", which suggests that companies do better if their organization is dumb. Here's a google translated article on it: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=sv&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=...

- We see functional stupidity as the absence of critical reflection. A condition characterized by harmony and consensus, employees avoid questioning things like decisions, structures and visions.

Economists seem to be experts in "functional stupidity".

There was an article recently where a State, I think Texas, legislature passed a law to ban the teaching of critical thinking in the schools because this interfered with students' fixed opinions. Brilliant!!

My experience with dumb organizations is that they are not successful but people do get along better. The best way to get promoted was to keep your mouth shut. No one could handle the truth because of fear. I still don't think that is a good route to long term success. The people running the Titanic were probably pretty dumb as well.

ts – Hate to admit but its true:


Some days I wonder about my decision to be a TBC (Texan By Choice). LOL.

From the Post...

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Yes, you read that right. The party opposes the teaching of “higher order thinking skills” because it believes the purpose is to challenge a student’s “fixed beliefs” and undermine “parental authority.”

It opposes, among other things, early childhood education, sex education, and multicultural education, but supports “school subjects with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded.”

... and Colbert's response:

..The minds of our young people are being poisoned by knowledge... I have long praised the Texas Board of Education for their valiant work rewriting our nation’s history textbooks. But now I believe they’ve got some stiff competition from the Texas GOP, who recently put a plank in their 2012 party platformn regarding children’s education which says, and I quote, ‘We oppose the teaching of critical thinking skills.’ Amen brother. For too long we have blindly accepted the idea of not blindly accepting ideas.

“And you know who I blame? I blame Galileo.... For centuries we had a perfectly good explanation for the order of the universe. Bible says the sun goes around the Earth, making us the center of the universe. And you know what? Everyone was happy. And then numnuts over here gets a telescope for Christmas, uses his precious critical thinking skills and suddenly the Earth goes around the sun, blah blah blah and now we have lesbians.

"...For too long we have blindly accepted the idea of not blindly accepting ideas." Gosh, I'm in deep sh trouble :-0

Sadly,you can't really even satirize this stuff as Colbert sounds no more crazy than the actual people who dreamed this stuff up. It would be even funnier if it weren't so dangerous.

The party opposes the teaching of “higher order thinking skills” because it believes the purpose is to challenge a student’s “fixed beliefs” and undermine “parental authority.”

I'm not surprised by that even the slightest, because independent thought is the last thing people in authority on the right want. They much prefer followers. Look at Santorum during his campaign, spouting off all sorts of negative opinionated rhetoric regarding higher education. It sounded like if he was president he would try to do away with it completely.

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning)

Anything which opposes Outcome-Based Education gets my vote. Here in South Africa an entire generation of students has been ruined by the imposition of OBE by ministers and senior bureaucrats who were blinded by the rhetoric.

The pupils who spent most of their school years under OBE are matriculating now. They are so clueless the department has been forced to drop the pass mark to 30%, otherwise the failures will clog up the classrooms of already-overcrowded schools.

I taught for a couple of years when OBE was the ruling paradigm. On the surface it is persuasive. Dig a little and think about it a bit, and you realise it is the biggest load of cr#p. Rather stick to the method which has worked for 2,000 years -- repetition, worked examples, homework, and regular testing.

challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Code, for we wouldn't want them to question our religious indoctrination.

Just happened to have read the most recent posting to Tom Englehardt's blog, www.tomdispatch.com. It is about the "functional stupidity" in government, and may be applicable to continuing the thinking about blissful ignorance. I definitely tend to be one of those who, upon hearing of something really stupid issuing from government or corporate officials, thinks immediately, "That is too stupid to be real. What are they REALLY up to?"

Quote from Tom's article:
"This is the sort of thing that helps you understand why conspiracy theories get started -- because people in the everyday world just can’t accept that, in Washington, dumb and then dumber is the order of the day."

Mark Twain had a similar thought:

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.

Only, I'm not sure I agree with the specifics being dumb. The specifics is that we have a secret drone base in Saudi Arabia. Those who actually remember recent history, remember, it was the presense of US bases in the holy land of Saudi Arabia, that set BinLaden on the warpath leading to 9-11. So he thinks this is the height of folly as far as inviting blowback. But, I suspect, blowback is just what the doctor ordered for the maintenence of the permanent war gravy train. Its simply a matter of whether TPTB want to do good for the country as a whole, or good for a corrupt part of it?

It's like the drug war. The biggest opposers of the California initiative to legalize pot were the Mendocino drug growers. This is a win win for the neo cons. This is better than 1984 where they changed enemies every few years. This way, we get to create our own actual real live enemy and don't have to change enemies.

and don't have to change enemies.

Yes, and no. Yes, the new recruits will take up the AlQaeda brand name. No the actual people that were the enemy -we kill off the old ones, and new ones take their place. Gives plausible denialbity too. "Sure, we knew US bases in SA provoked, Bin Laden, but he is dead, who coulda knowed the new generation of Al Qaeda could be provoked by a similar outrage?"

Nearly one-third of Mendocino County economy is underground
By Linda Williams

However, it's not just us.

Marijuana Is California's Largest Cash Crop, Worth About $14-Billion

Marijuana is the largest cash crop in the United States coming in at an estimate of $35.8 billion a year, but in California alone, the value of its 8.6 million-pound harvest is worth about $14 billion, according to newly released state reports.

I think some of the Language (eg "STUPID") is a bit incendiary and helps create fairly extreme reactions instead of thoughtful ones.

Frankly, I am all-too-well aware of problems like 'Analysis Paralysis', and letting the Perfect become the Enemy of the Good.. such that forward progress (yes, a couple more dangerous terms, left in the wrong hands) can be quickly stifled.

Alright, enough chatter. I've got to go try to find a job!

Fish gotta swim, and birds gotta fly,
I gotta be dumb enough to just shut up and try,
Can't help, responding to ill-defined and emotionally loaded terminology!

(Point being, of course, it's a Balance, as ever! A bunch of Brute Force and mindless repetition, applied with dumb persistence, in a wisely chosen direction, with occasional course-adjustments and goal evaluations.)

Chop Wood, Carry Water. Breathe.

The energy independence propaganda just keeps coming:


It seems Iraq production increases are being re-touted and the US will produce so much oil that OPEC is finished.

I was just about to post this! All of these articles are making me crazy! It seems so unlikely, but they keep beating the drum so we all believe the hype. At some point, given EROEI, even with rising production available supply should start to decrease. It really seems in the not too distant future it should become apparent that all these stories are just fairy-tails!

That garbage article was from CNBC? There was a time when they openly talked about peak oil topics on their station, but haven't seen any of that for some time now that they have completely convinced themselves we are headed for energy independence. The closer we get to some major problems due to dropping eroei, the more the media just lines up for BAU forever, i.e.their advertisers. Remember the prime directive: Greed.

U.S. oil and gas production is evolving so rapidly—and demand is dropping so quickly—that in just five years the U.S. could no longer need to buy oil from any source but Canada, according to Citigroup's global head of commodities research.

Citigroup's Edward Morse, in a new report, projects a dramatic reshaping of the global energy industry, where the U.S., in a matter of years, becomes an exporter of energy, instead of one of the biggest importers.

The shift could sharply reduce the price of oil, and therefore limit the revenues of the producing nations of OPEC, as well as Russia and West Africa.


Now I give them props for pointing out that a big important reason why it could be possible to reach independence is because DEMAND IS DOWN. But then they go on to say the shift could sharply reduce the price of oil. Why? The shift is CAUSED BY higher prices that allows fracking to take place. OK, maybe that is a bit too technical for them to know. But surely they do know that much of the reason why demand is dropping is because of the higher prices! People can't afford the oil so they don't buy as much. If the price drops then they'll buy more and thus we will be less likely to be independent. Or, more likely, the price will remain where it is (or go higher).

Seems like the "huge" Johan Sverdrup find contains URR on the low end of the initial guesstimates, around 1 billion boe. While Norwegian oil production has plummeted by more than 50% since 2001 and we're 4-5 billion boe away from URR of 30 billion bboe the public still haven't caught on. I wonder what it'll take. Make a housing bubble crash. :)

Press release from Lundin Petroleum: http://www.lundin-petroleum.com/Press/pr_norway_11-02-13b_e.html

Lundin Petroleum has decided it will not, at this time, provide updated contingent resources for the Johan Sverdrup discovery located in licence PL501 (Lundin Petroleum operator and working interest (WI) 40%) and licence PL265 (WI 10%). Statoil is working operator for Johan Sverdrup during the development planning phase and has indicated that they will provide updated resources for the discovery later this year when the conceptual development studies will be substantially complete.

Ashley Heppenstall President & CEO of Lundin Petroleum comments; “We feel it is appropriate that the working operator of Johan Sverdrup provide updated resource numbers. As the operator of PL501 we continue with our appraisal drilling program which provides new information for both development planning and recoverable resources. The results of the appraisal drilling to date taken as a whole lead us to the view that the current most likely mid case Johan Sverdrup resources located in PL501 will be within the lower half of the previously guided 800 to 1800 MMboe range. We also believe that the resource calculation range remains wide.”

("Contingent resources" are technically recoverable but currently considered unproducible for some reason or other)

So they are leaving precise estimates (an oxymoron if there ever was one) to Statoil and later this year, but they are hinting that they feel that the most likely mid case is in the lower half of the previous guidance... not a very strong statement (to my outsider's eyes).

Also note that licence 501 is not the whole of JS, as per this map (PDF) from the NPD: Parts of it are in licences 265 and 502 as well.

(JS is in kvadrant 16, blokk 2, 3, 5 (and maybe 6 - at least licence 501 extends into it))

Ikke ta sorgene på forskudd

The oil sands’ surprising new nemesis: The Chevy Volt

How can this be? It turns out that the oil sands, just like ethanol and other forms of synthetic crude production, in addition to being capital and labor intensive, also consumes a large amount of other types of energy. Currently a minimum of 13 kwh of electrical energy could be created from the energy sources used “Well to Wheel”, to mine bitumen, transform it into synthetic crude, transport and refine it into a single gallon of gasoline.


Although written for a different readership this article references many of the concepts (like EROI) that are used daily here at TOD. I am not sure all of the number are right but they look reasonable. Since we were discussing oil sands today this seemed timely.

Can anyone back up the "13 kwh of electrical energy . . . to mine bitumen, transform it into synthetic crude, transport and refine it into a single gallon of gasoline."?

If that is true then it really does make the tar sands oil for light-duty car a big massive pointless charade. Instead of using that 13KWH to create polluting gasoline, you could feed that 13KWH directly into an EV like the Ford Focus Electric and get 40 miles of driving from it directly! Just skip that entire tar sands oil step! It is not needed.

Either that 13KWH number must be wrong or they get their electricity pretty cheap because that is like a $1.50 in electricity costs at typical US consumer rates.

Gas-o-lean = ~25kWh IIRC. Diesel ~30kWh. Lets say Battery cost .25/kWh, so to store the Energy would equate ~$6.00/USG. But an EV can go a long way on 25kWh. Got to see more efficient autos.

Anyone recall a graph that shows possible Crude price forward a decade at the same rate of increase as the last decade.. Above $300/Barrel before 10 years, no? Can't seam to get me head around that. Of couse we would all live out multiple slow moving "train wrecks" around $200/Barrel. Best hope for stable crude and ethanol price - gulp... of the adult beverage type. Happy MardiGras.

Of couse we would all live out multiple slow moving "train wrecks" around $200/Barrel.

That's what scares me the most, the idea of a slow train wreck. That would mean every aspect of life gets incrementally worse over many years. It would be the worse kind of slow torture as everybody has a sense of failing life, when in reality it is just a byproduct of peak oil. Give me life with semi-cheap oil, or give me liberty without oil, but please (world) don't give me 200 dollar a barrel oil in today's dollars.

It doesn't matter if the oil sands operation is a charade. If the oil companies and Alberta are making money doing it, that is what they will do. Destruction and pollution of land, water and air doesn't matter, only making money does. Most of the oil produced from the oil sands will be used to fuel very ineffecient ICE vehicles so most of that will be wasted. That is a shame.
There is a large amount of natural gas used to process bitumen. Is that NG energy included in the 13 KWH? It would probably be better to use that NG to generate electricity to power EV's and not do the oil sands operation. That would be a difficult transition and as long as money is being made with BAU it will not happen.