Drumbeat: March 1, 2013

Energy policy shifting as abundance replaces scarcity: Obama adviser

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As U.S. oil and natural gas production booms, the Obama administration's energy policy has been "fluid" by necessity to adapt to the huge economic opportunities and climate challenges posed by growth, the top White House energy and climate adviser said on Wednesday.

In a speech to a room packed with energy analysts and lobbyists, Obama adviser Heather Zichal acknowledged that U.S. energy policy "might not look perfectly pretty from the outside" as it evolves to shifting supply-and-demand scenarios.

"It is a little bit fluid, but the landscape is changing," Zichal said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank.

The White House wants to ensure oil and gas production is done as safety as possible, while investing in research and development of renewable forms of energy and addressing climate change, she said.

America has an energy boom. Now what?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - America's energy production is booming. What we should do about it is one of Washington's most divisive issues.

Since 2006, the country's natural gas production has surged 30%. Oil production is up 33%. The country is on track to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world's leading oil producer by 2020.

Champions of this boom point to the hundreds of thousands of jobs it has created and its significant contribution to reducing the country's reliance on foreign oil.

Critics counter that with those gains come real threats to the nation's environment, particularly its water supply. They also worry that this new-found abundance will foster a greater reliance on fossil fuels and a dangerous inattention to global warming.

On Wednesday, a group from the Bipartisan Policy Center -- including former senators, oil company executives, environmentalists and others with a stake in the game -- released a set of recommendations on how the country can best balance these competing interests. Here's a rundown on their suggestions.

WTI Falls to 2013 Low as China Slows, OPEC Output Rises

West Texas Intermediate dropped to the lowest price this year and headed for a second weekly decline as Chinese manufacturing expanded less than forecast and OPEC crude production rose for the first time in six months.

WTI fell below $91 a barrel in New York for the first time since Dec. 31. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries raised output by 97,000 barrels to 30.7 million a day in February, a Bloomberg survey showed. China’s manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 50.1 last month, compared with a median forecast of 50.5. Oil also fell as $85 billion of spending cuts were about to be triggered in the U.S.

Expect relief from record February gas prices

Major maintenance work at many of the nation's refineries limited capacity and was responsible for much of February's increase, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, which compiles price information for AAA.

Kloza said the maintenance was necessary in order for the refineries to handle different grades of shale oil now being produced in North America. February's demand for gasoline is typically lighter than later in the year, which made the timing ideal for the upgrades. But it meant that the pain of higher prices came earlier than normal.

The states with the most expensive gas

Gasoline prices rose more than 13% last month, and the chance that the average price per gallon nationwide could reach $4 has become a real threat again. AAA’s Fuel Gauge statistics show that the average reached $3.73 over the Presidents Day weekend. In some states, the average price per gallon has moved above $4, and several others are very close to that benchmark. Gas prices tend to be driven by oil prices, the distance that a state is from refineries, refinery activity, and, as much as anything else, state gas taxes. To review the states with sky-high gas prices, 24/7 Wall St. looked at current prices based on AAA data, 2011 census data by state, the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2012 Refinery Capacity Report, which breaks out production by state based on barrels produced per calendar day and gas tax per state figures from the U.S. Tax Foundation. These are the seven states with sky-high gas prices.

Saudi Arabia to lower crude prices

Singapore: Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia may lower official selling prices in April for all crude grades for its Asian buyers after the Dubai crude and DME Oman prices weakened.

Threat of Oil Price Spike Has Passed, According to The Boston Company Asset Management

NEW YORK and LONDON /PRNewswire/ -- The days of worrying about the threat of a devastating oil price hike are over, according to a white paper from The Boston Company Asset Management, LLC, the Boston-based equity specialist for BNY Mellon.

For decades, pundits have been trying to predict the point at which a sustained climb in oil prices would spark a near-collapse of the global economy. However, TBC's February 2013 paper, End of an Era: The Death of Peak Oil, contends structural shifts in the energy industry have insulated the global economy from dramatic spikes in oil prices, while simultaneously creating an array of investment opportunities.

What Happened to Peak Oil?

Which leads one to wonder, first, weren't we supposed to be running out of oil. And, then, why does it cost so much more, every day, to fill up your tank?

Petrol price to go up by Rs.1.40 per litre

New Delhi (IANS) Petrol prices will go up by Rs.1.40 per litre, excluding taxes, from midnight Friday due to the depreciating rupee and a sharp increase in crude oil prices in global markets, the government-run oil marketing firms said Friday.

This is the second increase in petrol price in the past two weeks. It was hiked by Rs.1.50 per litre Feb 16.

Norway boosts recoverable oil, gas resources estimate to 85.4 billion boe

Norway's estimated recoverable oil and gas resources rose to 85.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent at the end of 2012, up 2.8 billion boe from the end of 2011, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said Friday.

The increase in total resources, which includes oil and gas already produced, stemmed from an increase in reserves estimates at some existing fields and undeveloped discoveries as well as higher estimates of undiscovered resources, the NPD said in a statement.

BP says its Azeri oil output down 7 pct in 2012

BAKU (Reuters) - BP's output at Azerbaijan's Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG) fields was down 7 percent in 2012, it said, showing a faster fall than that of total Azeri production in a trend that has drawn criticism from the country's president.

But the British oil major's output rose from the Shah Deniz gas field, the country's biggest.

German 2014 Power Declines as European Coal, Carbon Prices Fall

Power for 2014 in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, fell as coal dropped to a record and emissions allowances declined.

Baseload German 2014 electricity, for supplies delivered around the clock, slipped 0.6 percent, while coal lost 0.5 percent and carbon permits for December slid 2.4 percent. Power can track emissions and coal, which affect production costs.

Consumer Spending in U.S. Climbs Even as Taxes Hurt Incomes

Employment gains, the rebound in housing and growing demand for autos will probably keep supporting consumer spending in the first quarter as the world’s largest economy picks up from an end-of-year slowdown. Even so, rising gasoline prices and the need to rebuild nest eggs may make it difficult for households to match last quarter’s performance.

The Gas Gougers

Here we go again. A sudden surge in the price of gasoline and heating oil is followed by reported expressions of frustrated despair by hard-pressed consumers in the midst of silence from the oil companies and abdication of responsibility by the elected and appointed officials of federal and state governments.

Sempra Said to Seek at Least $500 Million in Mexico Offering

Sempra Energy, a U.S. gas distributor, plans to raise at least $500 million in an initial public offering of its Mexico business, two people with direct knowledge of the sale said.

Sunshine Oilsands Taps China for Output Boost

Sunshine Oilsands Ltd., the first Canadian oil-sands operator to list shares on the Hong Kong exchange, is in “advanced” talks with joint-venture partners to boost production to a potential 1 million barrels a day.

Sunshine, whose shares slumped 47 percent to the lowest close yesterday since its Hong Kong trading debut last February, is in conversations with “more than two and less than 10” investors, Chief Executive Officer John Zahary said in an interview.

Petrobras in Talks With Sinopec to Develop Brazil Refineries

Petroleo Brasileiro SA , the world’s most indebted publicly traded oil company, is in talks with China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (600028) to build a refinery in Brazil to meet growing domestic demand, Brazil’s energy minister said.

The state-controlled crude producers are also discussing partnerships for oil block auctions this year in Brazil, Edison Lobao told reporters in Brasilia today. Brazil’s government advised Petrobras Chief Executive Officer Maria das Gracas Foster to seek partnerships in China, where she is now, he said.

Norway does not control oil companies’ past

Norwegian authorities require a number of things from foreign oil and gas companies regarding the Norwegian Continental Shelf, but do not ask if they violate human rights in other countries.

Ukraine hints at compromise in gas talks with Russia

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's president, set for tough talks with Russia's Vladimir Putin on the price of gas imports, hinted on Friday that Kiev was ready to offer some compromise over its gas pipeline network in a bid to secure lower energy prices from its giant neighbour.

Ukraine, a transit route for more than a half of Russian gas shipped to the European Union, and itself heavily reliant on Russian supplies, has repeatedly clashed with Moscow over the price of its imports.

Cash and Kerry Not Enough for Syrian Fighters

Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that the U.S. will send nonlethal aid directly to Syrian rebels is a welcome expansion of U.S. involvement to end the conflict in Syria.

It doesn’t go far enough, however, either in changing the facts on the ground in a vicious war that pits President Bashar al-Assad’s Scud missiles against the rebels’ small arms, or in winning over and empowering the more moderate elements within a coalition that risks being overshadowed by sectarian extremists.

A.F.L.-C.I.O. Backs Keystone Oil Pipeline, if Indirectly

ORLANDO — The A.F.L.-C.I.O., the nation’s largest federation of unions, has issued an apparent endorsement of the Keystone XL oil pipeline — apparent because it enthusiastically called for expanding the nation’s pipeline system, without specifically mentioning Keystone.

Keystone XL focus shifts to climate change, oil lobby says

CALGARY — A delegation of oil sands CEOs “couldn’t get a clear reading” in Washington this week over whether Barack Obama’s renewed focus on climate change means more uncertainty for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, an executive with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said Thursday.

Faulty Bolts Create Headaches for Offshore Industry

The BSEE noted that the bolt failure has occurred on three rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and it has ordered all operators in the Gulf to inspect their BOPs. The operators must direct the drilling contractors to pull the BOP to the surface and then suspend operations until an independent third party can certify that the existing bolts are sound, or if replacement bolts need to be installed and certified. GE said 24 of the 83 rigs drilling in the Gulf of Mexico are immediately affected, and several have already been cleared to return to drilling operations. In an environment of zero tolerance for issues around well control, we expect operators worldwide will be ordering drilling contractors to pull their BOPs as well. Shell and Statoil are already assessing their operations in the Gulf as well as worldwide.

Lobbying Flurry Precedes U.S. Vote on Fukushima Rules

A proposed requirement that U.S. nuclear-power plants add $20 million devices to prevent radiation leaks, one of the costliest recommendations stemming from meltdowns in Japan two years ago, has attracted a flurry of last-minute lobbying.

Taking a Fresh Look at Nuclear Waste

The American program to dispose of spent nuclear fuel and other highly radioactive wastes is at a standstill for a variety of reasons. First-of-a-kind efforts tend to be technologically difficult, but the real problems are not hardware issues, according to a new book, “Too Hot to Touch: The Problem of High-Level Nuclear Waste.”

High radiation in fish caught off No. 1 plant

A greenling caught in the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s small harbor contained 510,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, 5,100 times above the state-set safety limit, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

New cars increasingly out of reach for many Americans

Looking to buy a new car, truck or crossover? You may find it more difficult to stretch the household budget than you expected, according to a new study that finds median-income families in only one major U.S. city actually can afford the typical new vehicle.

EPA evaluating how it rates gas mileage for hybrids

The Environmental Protection Agency has launched an evaluation of whether the ways it tests gas mileage give realistic window-sticker ratings for advanced hybrid cars.

The probe centers on a generation of hybrids capable of highway speeds on electric power alone. Chris Grundler, EPA's director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said he wants to be sure the EPA's testing procedures are keeping up with rapidly evolving auto technology.

"This is a different type of hybrid, and we need to understand it," he told USA TODAY in an interview.

Peugeot Bets on a Different Kind of Hybrid

Like a Toyota Prius, the Hybrid Air recovers energy each time the driver brakes or decelerates. But instead of using that braking energy to charge a battery, which then runs an electric motor — as in the Prius — the Hybrid Air has a reversible hydraulic pump that uses the braking energy to compress nitrogen gas in what looks like an oversized scuba tank. When the Hybrid Air driver next presses the accelerator, the compressed gas pushes hydraulic fluid, syringe fashion, through a gearbox to turn the wheels.

The energy stored in the nitrogen tank is small — equivalent to only about five teaspoons, or a couple dozen cubic centimeters, of gasoline — and enough to power the car only a few hundred meters before the standard gasoline motor takes over again. But repeated over the course of a day of city driving, Peugeot says, those extra teaspoons of energy add up to big improvement in gas mileage.

A bigger tax break for those who take public transit

As part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2013, Congress decided that for 2013 people who take mass transit to work will get the same pretax benefits as those who drive and pay to park their car. Both can set aside up to $245 a month to cover these expenses, if their employer offers such a plan.

That’s a big change from last year, when employees could set aside up to $240 a month to park, but only $125 a month for transit expenses. In 2011, the tax savings had been the same for parking or public transportation.

Green-Jobs Survey Dies as U.S. Readies Sequestration Cuts

A program tracking U.S. green jobs, faulted by Republican lawmakers, will be scrapped by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of automatic budget cuts set to take effect today, according to a person familiar with the decision.

The move is a harbinger of program reductions that may occur across the government following the $85 billion in across- the-board cuts, known as sequestration, for the current U.S. fiscal year.

Are we near peak biofuels?

(Reuters) - A stalled biofuel industry will need to produce far more efficient fuels to avoid setting off another bout of arguments over its contribution to boosting energy security and cutting carbon emissions.

Biofuel Bust: Alleged cooking-oil thieves caught on camera stealing for alternative energy company

"We lost about 10-20 thousand (dollars) a month from people stealing this oil from behind our restaurant," Lesperance said.

Lesperance said the women use a special apparatus to siphon the used oil from the top of a barrel.

"We call it an octopus, which has small tubes that go in between the grates to then extract the oil," he said.

Shell Sees Solar as Biggest Energy Source After Exiting It

Royal Dutch Shell Plc says solar power, a business it abandoned four years ago, may expand into the world’s biggest source of energy in the next half century.

The proposition that photovoltaic panels will be the main power source by 2070 is one of the New Lens Scenarios Europe’s largest oil company published today in a report on energy demand this century. A second has natural gas as the main fuel by 2030. Both come with risks to energy producers and the climate.

Some Far Out (at Least for Now) Energy Ideas

One of the problems with integrating renewable energy into the electric system is that wind and sun are intermittent, creating challenges for grid operators who need to provide a constant supply of electricity. Proton came up with a product that is the direct opposite of a fuel cell, which converts hydrogen to electric current and water. The oxygen and hydrogen atoms are instead split up in a chemical reaction, and the hydrogen can either be turned back into electricity in a fuel cell or used for industrial purposes.

Proton is currently is working with the town of Hilo in Hawaii on an installation that would make hydrogen for a bus powered by a fuel cell. But the Proton equipment would also be connected to the local grid: upon receiving a signal, it would pull more current from the grid, or less, to keep supply and demand exactly balanced.

A Little Guilt, a Lot of Energy Savings

How can I convince you to conserve energy? I could remind you that using less power saves money and helps the environment, but you won’t listen. Studies have proven that appeals to cost and conservation have no impact on people’s energy consumption.

But what if I told you everyone in your neighborhood is reducing their energy consumption—except you? Would competition and a little fear of judgment convince you to switch off your air conditioner?

That’s the theory driving Opower, a company that’s helped millions of people lower their energy bills. Rather than sell or produce energy, it makes software—software that is changing the way Americans consume energy by setting them in a contest against their neighbors. In the process, Opower has discovered that when it comes to energy efficiency, conscientiousness doesn’t inspire nearly as much change as competition (and a little judgment).

From Energizer, Big Light in a Compact Package

Hurricane season doesn’t start until June 1, but after Hurricane Sandy caused so much destruction and left millions without power, it’s never too early to start preparing for the next big storm.

To help, Energizer is introducing a new portfolio of innovative lighting products this spring that use “light fusion technology,” which distributes light uniformly through laser-etched acrylic panels.

Retirees turn to communal living in NY

CHESTNUT RIDGE, N.Y. - At the Fellowship Community's adult home, workers are paid not according to what they do, but what they need; aging residents are encouraged to lend a hand at the farm, the candle shop or the pottery studio; and boisterous children are welcome around the old folks.

It's a home for the elderly in a commune-like setting — 30 miles from Manhattan — that takes an unusual approach, integrating seniors into the broader community and encouraging them to contribute to its welfare.

Beijing Air Pollution Tops Hazardous Levels Days Before Congress

Beijing’s air pollution climbed to hazardous levels days before the national legislature opens its annual meeting, drawing new attention to environmental degradation that the government has promised to address.

My Worms: Adventures in composting with 1,000 red wigglers

So far, it’s working. I may not be recycling all of our green waste, but I’m using enough of it to feel mildly virtuous, and the constant need for shredded paper makes a dent in our pile of junk mail. The worms seem to love the dead leaves from the tree in our yard and eagerly devour our weekend coffee grinds. They haven’t tried to escape. And despite the fact that the composter—and the food scrap bucket—are still in the kitchen, neither smells. I’ve decided that a lack of foul odors will be my new general metric of success, both for worms and for life.

Klamath County votes to withdraw from water deal

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) — The Klamath County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to withdraw from an agreement that lays out how to share scarce water between fish and farms, control power costs for irrigators, and restore broken down ecosystems.

New Zealand: Big dry raises fears of dairy crash

MetService says it will be weeks before any significant rain falls in key farming areas, putting the country's two leading exports, meat and dairy, under enormous pressure with production beginning to crash.

Farmers are rapidly getting rid of stock because of the big dry, putting important exports "under the gun", according to Federated Farmers.

How the USDA plans to plant around climate change

A few weeks ago, the Department of Agriculture released a pretty devastating report on just how bad climate change is going to suck for things we plant in the ground in America. Short version: T minus 25ish years until we hit Armageddon-like scenarios for agriculture and forests.

That might sound hopeless, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is not discouraged. The Natural Resources Defense Council’s Switchboard blog reports on a followup speech Vilsack gave this week, saying the USDA will help farmers adapt to climate change and become part of the climate solution.

Army Signals Victory in Fight to Keep Mississippi Open to Barges

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has declared victory, for now, in its battle to keep the drought- depleted Mississippi River open for barges moving commodities such as coal, grain and crude oil.

Contractors today completed emergency work that included excavating and blasting rock from the riverbed near the towns of Thebes and Grand Tower in southern Illinois, the Army and the U.S. Coast Guard said in a joint statement.

NOAA’s Coast Survey plans for new Arctic nautical charts

“As multi-year sea ice continues to disappear, vessel traffic in the Arctic is on the rise,” said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, NOAA Coast Survey director. “This is leading to new maritime concerns about adequate charts, especially in areas increasingly transited by the offshore oil and gas industry and cruise liners.”

The Online Tool Destroying Climate Change Myths

Get ready for a daily dose of climate reality. It's called the "Reality Drop" and is akin to an antidote given to patients bitten by a poisonous snake, only in this case it is intended to destroy the toxic global warming myths that seem to be poisoning the minds of people. As the slogan explains, "Spread Truth" and "Destroy Denial" about global warming, the Reality Drop campaign is specifically designed to debunk more than a hundred of the most deceptive myths about global warming with simple and succinct up-to-date science-based climate facts from credible sources.

Climate sceptics 'capture' the Bloggies' science category

Founder Nikolai Nolan admits that climate sceptic bloggers have pushed out 'legitimate' science blogs from his awards.

New Ecology Paper Challenges “Tipping Point” Meme

Even where tipping points have occurred on local and regional scales, there is empirical and experimental evidence to suggest that many ecosystems are able to recover even after heavy disturbance by humans.

Public concern for environment lowest in 20 years

Public concern in environmental issues including global warming, the loss of species and air pollution has dropped to its lowest level in two decades, according to an international poll released this week.

The GlobeScan poll, undertaken last summer before superstorm Sandy hit the Caribbean and New York, showed levels of public concern in 12 countries over environmental problems – which also also included fresh water shortages and depletion of natural resources – were even lower than 1992, when the first Earth summit was held in Rio.

EU Carbon Surges the Most in 2 Weeks as Merkel Said to Back Fix

European Union carbon permits surged the most in two weeks after a German lawmaker said Chancellor Angela Merkel shares her environment minister’s stance on reducing a surplus of the allowances.

South Africa delays carbon tax until 2015

South Africa delayed introducing a carbon tax until 2015 after objections from metals companies such as ArcelorMittal South Africa and Gold Fields.

The tax of 120 rand ($14) a metric ton of carbon on 40 per cent of a company's emissions will rise 10 per cent a year until 2020, the National Treasury said today in its Budget Review in Cape Town. The government is also considering scrapping an electricity levy over the same period, it said.

Keystone halt would send strong signal-EU climate chief

(Reuters) - The European Union's top climate change official said on Thursday that if the Obama administration rejects the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, it would send a strong message that the United States is serious about combating climate change.

"That would be an extremely strong signal for the Obama administration," Connie Hedegaard, the EU Commissioner for Climate Action, told reporters in a briefing in Washington.

Arab Spring could be reversed by climatic and economic shocks

A London-based think tank says the spread of democracy following the Arab Spring could be reversed because politicians are failing to help the countries involved to build resilience to economic shocks.

The group, E3G, says in a report, Underpinning the MENA Democratic Transition: Delivering Climate, Energy and Resource Security, that the G8 governments are not helping the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region to address the threat of food and energy price shocks.

Australia's record-breaking hottest summer

January was the hottest month since records began in 1910 – it's getting hotter, and extreme heat is happening more often.

Graves: Louisiana’s coastal master plan can adapt to sea level rise

New Orleans — Yes, we can. And, by the way: You’re wrong. That’s how Garret Graves, head of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and some coastal scientists have responded to federal researchers who last week predicted the southeast coast faces the highest rate of sea level rise “on the planet” – 4.4 feet by 2100.

At that rate, they said, parts of the state’s coastal Master Plan will be obsolete before they are completed.

“The NOAA folks are just misinformed,” said Graves, summing up a point-by-point email rebuttal of the claims made by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration staffers in a story by The Lens.

Study of Ice Age Bolsters Carbon and Warming Link

A meticulous new analysis of Antarctic ice suggests that the sharp warming that ended the last ice age occurred in lock step with increases of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the latest of many indications that the gas is a powerful influence on the earth’s climate.

Apocalypse? No. But unless we change tack, the planet is running out of time

After millennia of falsely predicting the apocalypse, humanity has become understandably flippant. There were so many threatened catastrophes in 2012, from rolling earthquakes to interstellar collisions and a misunderstanding of the Mayan calendar that the quips began to flow. "People are making apocalypse jokes like there's no tomorrow,' was a favourite.

But just because we've been wrong so many times before, does that mean we're safe forever? Or have we been lulled into a false sense of security, and do the timeframes involved disguise the scale of the risks posed to conditions for human civilisations?

Why you should sweat climate change

More American children are getting asthma and allergies, and more seniors are suffering heat strokes.

Food and utility prices are rising. Flooding is overrunning bridges, swamping subways and closing airport runways.

People are losing jobs in drought-related factory closings. Cataclysmic storms are wiping out sprawling neighborhoods. Towns are sinking.

This isn't a science-fiction, end-of-the-world scenario. Though more anecdotal than normal — today, at least — these scenes are already playing out somewhere in the United States, and they're expected to get worse in years ahead. In fact, a remaking of America is likely in our lifetimes — a flicker in geological time. This will transform how and where we live, work and play.

Massachusetts' climate will start to look more like North Carolina's, and Illinois will begin to feel like Texas. Montana's Glacier National Park, a glorious site that draws tourists from around the world, will likely lose its glaciers.

Taking a Fresh Look at Nuclear Waste

Some GE PRISM reactors would solve that problem. Hauling waste across the U.S. to Nevada every day for decades does not make much sense.


Commenting guidelines:

1. When citing facts, provide references or links.

2. Make it clear when you are expressing an opinion. Do not assert opinions as facts.

3. When presenting an argument, cite supporting evidence and use logical reasoning.


I have not noticed you adhering to those polities. As soon as you do perhaps others will as well. Remember, all your comments have been saved and are can be read by others. Goodbye.

I frequently provide links and citations when the discussion calls for it. You? Not all threads require that every statement be qualified. I, for one, at least try...

Not every comment needs to be extensively footnoted, but if you're asked for supporting links, you should provide them.

IMO,, posting an opening comment to a Drumbeat and making a statement of fact without supporting it, or commenting on an article posted by the moderator without any sort of supporting reference or link, is bad form, not to mention a violation of the guidelines; reflects badly on the one that made the post, if not the TOD community. I certainly wouldn't do it. Commenting on assertations or facts already in evidence, established or disputed in previous discussion is a different matter. Expecting others to make an effort to support one's unsupported factual claims is disrespectful in a sense; a shill's tactic,, again, IMO.

"...but if you're asked for supporting links, you should provide them."

I've asked the commenter in question to support claims, several times, without success. Anyway, my appologies to all for a distracting use of bandwidth.

This is a good practice. To see why, consider the difference between an assertion and a statement of fact. Assertions are made with no supporting evidence, whereas factual statements should have verifiable information sources either cited, or available to cite.

The other day a comment was made, for instance, about J. M. Greer's post this week, that Mr. Greer was short on facts. Many statements made by Mr. Greer [and by Mr. Kunstler in his blog] that seem true on their face, and yet could be suspect. I am certain that either of these gentlemen would have abundant facts to support them, and yet they could be questioned, and are not necessarily true.

Again, we see this daily in urban myths, and in climate change denial postings.

An example might be a statement that there is simply not enough oil left to transition to a sustainable energy paradigm. On its fact this seems reasonable and it may be true. A quick look at http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=34&t=6 tells me that it is questionable, and more research is clearly needed before I will be satisfied with that generality.

In fact, the EIA site (whatever we may think about some of the EIA predictions) is a good source to begin. For instance: http://www.eia.gov/emeu/mecs/contents.html gives us a breakdown of uses of petroleum. Other easliy accessed sources add more to the mix, and with patience we might come to a better idea of what really lies ahead.

Or we can wing it...

Thank you TOD contributors for providing links (even the ones behind those nasty paywalls).


An example might be a statement that there is simply not enough oil left to transition to a sustainable energy paradigm. On its fact this seems reasonable and it may be true. A quick look at http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=34&t=6 tells me that it is questionable,...

Zap, your link dealt with "How much oil is used to make plastic?" and had nothing to do with the amount of oil needed to transition to a sustainable energy paradigm. If you think that statement is questionable you need to provide a better link than that because that link had nothing to do with that statement about enough oil left for a transition to a sustainable energy paradigm.

And that question makes the presumption that it is possible to transition to a sustainable energy paradigm even if we did have enough oil. Now that is something that is highly questionable.

Ron P.

Hi Ron. Yes, I know that the page only dealt with plastics; other pages locatable on the main site deal with other factors. What I said (I think) is that by careful, patient research, one could come up with a verifiable statement of fact, far more than a simple assertion. The reason I began with plastics is that we are often regaled by statements that the manufacture of plastics and metals take so much oil that we simply can't have enought left to make the transition. IIRC, there is a quick find to energy used in metals manufacturing as well. And, I was referring to a comment made by someone other than me that Mr. Greer did not have many facts and had many assertions in making his case that the end is coming.

It would be incumbant on Greer to provide support for his assertions... I did not say he was wrong. I would add that I hope he was wrong, fear he was right, and am not in possession of sufficient facts to make the case one way or the other. As an attorney I deal with facts; in presenting a case it is my duty to present facts in support of my thesis. Once I have presented facts to support same, it is the duty of the other guy to present contraveiling facts to show that I am wrong. We can go way off the beaten path and discuss weight of those facts, reliability of the source, and so forth. In the present instance however, I was speaking more as a juror or trier of fact than as a presenter.

Otherwise, you yourself made an assertiojn that it is highly questionable whether or not it is possible to transition to a sustainable energy paradigm. Perhaps you mean probable rather than possible? I would agree that it is improbable, but not because of amounts of resources but rather because of lack of will, or perhaps an overwhelming greed factor outweighing necessity.

But that is a matter for another day.

Best always, Ron.


Here you go:


In the USA, GE was involved in designing a modular liquid metal-cooled inherently-safe reactor - PRISM. GE with the DOE national laboratories were developing PRISM during the advanced liquid-metal fast breeder reactor (ALMR) program. No US fast neutron reactor has so far been larger than 66 MWe and none has supplied electricity commercially.

Today's PRISM is a GE-Hitachi design for compact modular pool-type reactors with passive cooling for decay heat removal. After 30 years of development it represents GEH's Generation IV solution to closing the fuel cycle in the USA. Each PRISM Power Block consists of two modules of 311 MWe each, operating at high temperature - over 500°C. The pool-type modules below ground level contain the complete primary system with sodium coolant. The Pu & DU fuel is metal, and obtained from used light water reactor fuel. However, all transuranic elements are removed together in the electrometallurgical reprocessing so that fresh fuel has minor actinides with the plutonium. Fuel stays in the reactor about six years, with one third removed every two years. Used PRISM fuel is recycled after removal of fission products. The commercial-scale plant concept, part of a Advanced Recycling Centre, uses three power blocks (six reactor modules) to provide 1866 MWe. See also electrometallurgical section in Processing Used Nuclear Fuel paper.

A variant of this is proposed to utilise the UK's reactor-grade plutonium stockpile. A pair of PRISM units built at Sellafield would be operated initially so as to bring the material up to the highly-radioactive 'spent fuel standard' of self-protection and proliferation resistance. The whole stockpile could be irradiated thus in five years, with some by-product electricity and the plant would then proceed to re-use that stored fuel over perhaps 55 years solely for 600 MWe of electricity generation.'


I would suggest that anyone who is not aware that there are multiple solutions to the nuclear 'waste' 'problem' which use the 99% of the energy contained in said 'waste' to generate more energy and reduce the tiny residue to forms which return to the same level of radioactivity as the ores from which they came within around 300 years needs to do some serious background reading.

For those who honestly do not know that the link I have already provided gives sufficient introduction, and much more is available on the same site.

It should also be noted that the French, for instance, reprocess at La Hague and consequently the remaining high level waste is a fraction of the volume of the US once through system.

I trust that this is sufficiently common knowledge in any informed discussion that no links are needed on that point.

Should any readers be, incredibly, uninformed on that point the site I have already referenced can of course provide details.

Yes, the French reprocess their nuclear waste. But the truth about it isn't so rosy as the industry wants it to be believed: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/recycling-atomic-waste-nuclea...

I've seen the documentary, I really recommend it.
(It's on youtube; sligtly rotated for copyright reasons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Dnhds7Qlik)
Actually the evidence is even quite clear that only 10% of France's nuclear waste is being recycled, much lower than the claimed 96%.

"Research by the documentary filmmakers indicates that, every year, the French firm ships around 108 tons of uranium from La Hague in northern France to Russia."

"You have to be careful. It is important to differentiate between radioactive material that is being recycled from actual nuclear waste, as the nuclear industry qualifies it," Noualhat told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "What we really wanted to show was that we do not recycle 96 percent of this material, as some people pretend we do." The figure of 96 percent recyclable nuclear waste with four percent being disposed of in high tech storage is one that has been used before by those in the French nuclear industry.


Vladimir Tchouprov of Greenpeace in Russia told the French journalists that only about 10 percent of the waste being sent to his country could effectively be recycled. "In fact, they are abandoning 90 percent of their materials with us," Tchouprov told the filmmakers.

My rule of thumb is that for a lead post unsupported by sources - especially posts blasted out as the first POD (post of day) is that if no one replies it dies by suffocation. I do not need to reply to a post that reminds me years ago of "FIRST POST" on /. (Slashdot)

Don't feed the nisse


peace, mark

Energy policy shifting as abundance replaces scarcity: Obama adviser

HERE's the link to Heather Zichal's comments...

E. Swanson

What is her position exactly ? It isn't the person replacing Chu, right ?
Anyway this "revolution" propaganda is truly amazing ...

Yes this propaganda is truly amazing. It's going to be both sad and funny after the bubble bursts, seeing all the MSM outlets shouting "how could we have known this was a bubble?!?!" "No one predicted this!!"

"It's going to be both sad and funny after the bubble bursts, seeing all the MSM outlets shouting "how could we have known this was a bubble?!?!" "No one predicted this!!"

I agree. I should lay in a larger store of popcorn for when the event happens.

Re: Study of Ice Age Bolsters Carbon and Warming Link

This study published in today's SCIENCE tightens up the link between the warming at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum and the increase in CO2 at that time. The authors combine data from 5 Antarctic ice cores with the goal of reducing the uncertainty in these two measurements. Previous work has suggested that the CO2 increase lagged the warming by about 800 years, but this newest work cuts that lag to as little as 200 years. It's thought that the increase in CO2 acted as a positive feedback, amplifying the initial warming by causing more CO2 to be added to the atmosphere. This result strengthens the projection for future warming due to our man made increase in greenhouse gases.

There's also a commentary by Edward Brook, which adds further perspective on the issue:
Leads and Lags at the End of the Last Ice Age. Both articles are behind a pay wall...

E. Swanson

Volcanic aerosols, not pollutants, tamped down recent Earth warming, study says

... Neely said previous observations suggest that increases in stratospheric aerosols since 2000 have counterbalanced as much as 25 percent of the warming scientists blame on human greenhouse gas emissions. "This new study indicates it is emissions from small to moderate volcanoes that have been slowing the warming of the planet,"

New study reveals how sensitive US East Coast regions may be to ocean acidification

... According to the survey, says Wang, different regions of coastal ocean will respond to an influx of CO2 in different ways. "If you put the same amount of CO2 into both the Gulf of Maine and the Gulf of Mexico right now, the ecosystem in the Gulf of Maine would probably feel the effects more dramatically," he says. "Acidity is already relatively high in that region, and the saturation of calcium carbonate—the mineral that many organisms need to make shells—is particularly low. It's not a great situation."

The waters in the Gulf of Maine, Wang says, on average had the lowest alkalinity to total dissolved inorganic carbon [DIC] ratio of any region along the eastern seaboard, meaning that it would be especially vulnerable to acidification should CO2 levels rise in those waters.

While it's unclear exactly why the ratio of alkalinity to DIC is low in those northern waters, Wang thinks part of the issue may be linked to alkalinity sources to the region. For example, the Labrador Coastal Current brings relatively fresh, low alkalinity water down from the Labrador Sea to the Gulf of Maine and Middle Atlantic Bight.

If this current is the major source of alkalinity to the region, he says, it may mean that the Gulf of Maine's fate could be linked to changes in global climate that, through melting sea ice and glaciers, increase the flow of fresh water to the Gulf of Maine.

... bye, bye Lobster :-(

The Labrador Coastal Current is fed by the East Greenland Current, which brings waters and sea-ice from the Fram Strait down the coast and around the southern tip of Greenland into the Labrador Sea. So, any changes along the line all the way back north into the Arctic Ocean will impact the Labrador Current, thus the Gulf of Maine...

E. Swanson

Permafrost, the tipping time bomb

Peter Sinclair has made another video for the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media ... some amazing (scary) time lapse video of permafrost melting

Wow. That time lapse video was scary. Thanks for sharing that. I'm going to share it on my blog.

Yes. It is an earth-changing event that will require rapid human adaptation, where possible.


Want to put a kink in any Friday fun you had planned, read that study. If it's too boring, read the last paragraph and remember how measured they have to be when writing for science journals.

I that were translated into headline-speak, "Study confirms 500,000 year-old permafrost will melt soon," or "Sibera melts, humanity in danger," or if on Drudge, "Socialists lie about Jesus"

The last paragraph follows:

Overall, dated periods of speleothem growth allow an assessment of the relationship between global temperature and permafrost extent. PWP SST was 0.5-1.0°C higher during MIS-5.5 and ~1.5°C higher during early MIS-11 relative to the pre-industrial Late Holocene (Fig. 2D) (20, 21). Using PWP SST as a surrogate for global temperature (20) suggests that increase in global temperatures by 0.5-1.0°C will degrade only non-continuous permafrost in southern Siberia with the Gobi Desert remaining arid. Warming of ~1.5°C (i.e., as in MIS-11) may cause a substantial thaw of continuous permafrost as far north as 60°N, and create wetter conditions in the Gobi Desert. Such warming is therefore expected to dramatically change the environment of continental Asia, and can potentially lead to substantial release of carbon trapped in the permafrost into the atmosphere.

I that were translated into headline-speak, "Study confirms 500,000 year-old permafrost will melt soon," or "Sibera melts, humanity in danger," or if on Drudge, "Socialists lie about Jesus"

I have no idea how to translate it into "headline-speak" but we can forget about discussing 4 to 6C warming if the tipping point is 1.2C for permafrost melt and CO2 and methane release, we´ve already reached 0.8C warming as it is... not to mention that there´s quite a lot of warming already baked into the system even if we stop all CO2 emissions as of yesterday.

So here´s my tentative headline:

"Global warming alarmists were completely wrong! Compared to the actual hell that´s coming our way, their worst predictions are going to seem like a cool breeze!!"

Thanks for the link.

There is jubilation all over as everyone in the media and blogosphere has declared the end of Peak Oil.

Peak Oil No More? Bankers Prepare For a World of Energy Abundance

"After years of indifference, U.S. consumers have radically reduced their consumption of petroleum and related products, moderating demand in the world's largest market," a report from Bank of New York Mellon's Boston-based equity specialist notes, the group said in announcing the availability of the report "End of an Era: Death of Peak Oil."

And the full PDF file by "The Boston Company Asset Management’s Global Natural Resources Team":

End of an Era: The Death of Peak Oil An Energy Revolution, American-Style

The word "fracking" is used 17 times in this PDF. Fracking and tight oil, according to these folks anyway, has unleashed a flood of oil upon the world and peak oil is gone forever. And from their conclusion:

That may be possible, and perhaps the U.S. and Europe could provide a cyclical recovery in a year’s time. However, the likelier scenario is a gradual increase in global demand with ample sources and time for supply growth. Thus, we bid farewell to the days of Peak Oil.

And from their final summary I thought this a little ironic, bold mine:

The shale revolution has created an opportunity that we view as one of the dominant investment themes of the next decade, and we have highlighted some potential beneficiaries. However, at different points in this secular story, today’s winners will be tomorrow’s losers. It is by having this longer-term perspective on how North American hydrocarbon pricing will evolve and which companies are exposed to this trend that we can seek to capture the excess returns and dividends provided by this theme.

Ron P.

My first impression this morning was that these articles represented a strong bullish signal for oil prices in 2013 and 2014.

They are certainly bullish on oil production. Generally, though, a bull market connotes rising prices, and has little to do with volume.


Viewing the articles together, on gets the impression that the public is mystified as to why prices are NOT going down, and expects that they will.

No comment needed on how likely that is, nor beyond mentioning that PO predicts what we see.


I think what westexas is saying is that these articles are hustle and jive, and that viewing them as such, one could reasonably be bullish on prices and/or bearish on supply.

Since I don't think I saw the following article referenced on TOD the last couple days, I will post it here, as it is intereting and oil related:

Crude Export Ban No Match for Lightest U.S. Shale Oil

"Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP) is among companies setting up mini-refineries to process certain grades of crude just enough to qualify them as refined fuels, which are legal to export. "

Some of the recent data I have looked at suggest that most of the current Eagle Ford Play can be more properly classified as a liquids (condensate) rich gas play, with a fairly narrow actual crude oil fairway (less than 45 degree API gravity). As the articled noted, the condensate is what Kinder Morgan is trying to export.

Don’t Let Your Crude Oils Grow Up to be Condensates – API Creep in the Eagle Ford

Last week (February 2013) EOG Resources told analysts that most Eagle Ford oil production should be classified as condensate rather than crude oil. They backed up their assertion with a chart of production quantity and API quality indicating 70 percent of production is condensate.

Check out the chart in the article.

Thanks very much, not just for the linked article, but for all the other articles referenced in that article. That series has to be the most educational series about oil for the layman on the Internet. My printer was busy this morning.

My understanding is that something like 95% of all petroleum goes into transportation fuel, so when most people think of petroleum they are thinking gasoline. Yet as I understand it, only like 13% of NGLs can be made into transportation fuel.

And since the IEA and EIA include NGLs in their definition of "petroleum", then the average person (and analyst) thinks that all this new "oil" being added to production is making for a secure driving future. So in just that way alone, they are really getting significantly misled.

Anyway, that is the way it looks to me.

something like 95% of all petroleum goes into transportation fuel,

According to EIA, it is more like 72% + some part of 6%

Still an awful lot.



I guess I was thinking more along the lines of: for every barrel of oil that gets refined, what percent of the refined product is used in transportation? Since the US imports oil to make refined products to export, and also imports gasoline I am not sure the rato of products consumed to oil used is the correct way to look at it.

If anyone might know how much of each barrel of oil ends up as transportation fuel, RockyMnGuy would. Otherwise I will took further when I get time. But my gut feel (besides the statement I remember) is that it would be more than 72%, but I can get as confused about this as any anyone.

Craig, here is a graphic that came from an older Seeking Alpha article by Kyle Spencer (which now requires registration). Even if you don't include "Other Products", the percentage of Transportation "products" comes to well over 80%, and since I suspect most of "Other Products" are transportation related too (asphalt, lubricants, etc), then I suspect the amount of transportation products from a barrel of oil could well be close to that 95% level I remember reading.

"http://tinypic.com?ref=141t8uc" target="_blank">Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Basically most of it is used by cars and trucks. Other products are probably the most valuable in the sense they will be needed even for a high price.

Technically trains and public transportation may use less energy from more diverse energy sources atlhough it will not happen if the economics is not there. It is an economical problem and not a techical prooblem. Then trucks and cars became available affordable enough transportation switched from rail.

I live in a city connected to another small city with rail built more than one hundred years ago. It take about 15 minutes by care on the highway to drive in between and 10 minutes for the train. Major drawback with train is the two point connection while the car could connect any point and the fixed schedule. If operating cost for car become high enough it would be possible to live with the train.

Thanks. That is a good graphic for understanding where oil is used.

Transportation products look pretty much the same as IEA stats... anything in the range of at least 72% to 80+% could be right.

Transportation: most of Gasoline = 19 gal.; some LPG, all of jet fuel = 4 gal, most of heavy fuels (used in shipping for the most part I believe) = 1 gal., and most of diesel= 11 gal. Figuring that the diesel and gas used for energy production could be either more or less than the parts of LPG (my guess is more, but not important), I would say about 34-35 gal of 44 are indeed used as fuel in transportation. Also, some of the other products part would include lubricating oils used in ICEs and elsewhere in transportation, plus asphalt for roadways, so 80% plus is likely.

Thanks. That is a good graphic for understanding where oil is used.

Zap, that is not a diagram of where oil is used, it is a diagram of what a barrel of crude oil is refined into. The fact that not enough diesel, compared to gasoline, can be refined from a barrel of oil is the reason diesel is higher than gasoline. I can remember when diesel was much cheaper than gasoline.

But the chart shows what you get from a barrel of oil whether that is what you need or not. Price becomes the arbitrator and makes sure that what is produced is what is what is demanded.

Ron P.

A key paragraph in the document is

Under the circumstances the best market for US condensate today appears to be exporting it to Canada as diluent for heavy Canadian bitumen crude (see Plains Trains and Diluent Deals and It’s a Kinder Magic ). That market is expanding with increased bitumen production but transporting enough condensate to meet Canadian demand requires new pipeline capacity – some of which is being built and some is of which is still waiting for permitting.

This gross excess of condensate, as distinct from crude oil, would normally be a big problem for the oil refineries in the mid-continent area since they wouldn't be able to blend more than a small amount of the excess into their feedstock to turn it into gasoline. However, there is huge and growing demand in Canada for condensate to dilute bitumen to allow it to flow through pipelines to refineries in the US, and Canada is facing growing shortages of condensate.

The problem is easily solved by exporting the surplus condensate to Canada, blending it into the bitumen, and pipelining the diluent/bitumen blend back to US refineries, in effect reimporting it straight back to the US. The US government has no problem issuing export permits for this because the condensate is just making a detour through Canada on its way to US refineries. The US refineries will probably end up with too much condensate to make into products, but they can split the excess condensate off at the front end and send it right back to Canada to dilute more bitumen. This turns it into a kind of condensate recycling loop, which I think probably screws up US export and import statistics.

The biggest problem is, I think, that the US MSM is misinterpreting what is going on in this process, and believes that the US is producing an exportable surplus of oil, bringing on a debate about whether the US should become an oil exporter. The reality is that producers and refiners are just moving condensate around and blending oils with condensate to get it to move through the pipelines and be useful to the refineries.

The real net exporter in this picture is Canada, which has a large and growing surplus of crude oil and bitumen available for export. What the US has is a surplus of condensate, not crude oil. Fortunately it can use the condensate to import more Canadian crude oil. This is why many pundits talk about "American oil self-sufficiency", but quickly switch the scope to "North American oil self-sufficiency" when they get into the details..

I found this article fascinating, in the sheer complexity it presents in trying to truly understand the supply picture, potential danger of oversimplifying, and at the same time illustrating the importance producers attach to muddying the waters, at least a little, to preserve their investment edge. [sarc on] Can't imagine Saudi Arabia pulling a stunt like that [sarc off].

I had two questions for you (or other E&P'ers):

1) Given that chart of production volume by API gravity for reporting producers, doesn't it strain credulity just a little that EOG is such an enormous outlier in getting crude volumes out of Eagle Ford? They hold a lot more acreage, yes, but were they that much luckier/smarter?

2) Might Canada use pipeline access for condensates as a bargaining chip to garner approval of Keystone XL? This article makes it look like there is an 'energy security' argument for XL. It also blunts the argument that 'oil sands are just getting shipped to China anyway.' i.e., even if that is true, U.S. producers could be getting a cut.

These aren't even worth paying attention to anymore. These things correspond to oil prices in a sine wave pattern. High oil prices = predictions of $5/gal gas followed shortly by the inevitable surge of stories reminding us about how much oil the US has now and how we're entering a golden period of the oil age. Prices drop and there is speculation of gas prices rolling over to something like $2/gal and the oil boom stories die out. Rinse and repeat. You could probably make good money investing as a contrarian indicator to the gasoline price stories.

Prices remain high yet volatile, exactly what you would expect at peak oil. Everybody continues to interpret this as good news when it really isn't.

Generally speaking though, a higher price is better for producers but worse for consumers, and a lower price is better for consumers but worse for producers.

Steve from Virginia is the only blogger/analyst I've read who has come up with the theory of the "triangle of doom."


Once prices remain too high for consumers but too low for producers, it's game over. It's an interesting theory.

Too high for some consumers and too low for some producers.

Exactly. Of couse "Too high for some consumers and too low for some producers" describes today. When that "some" becomes "most," I would expect some very hard times.


"Too high for some consumers and too low for some producers."

That is true, but when you combine the "triangle of doom" with Export Land Model I believe the results will be volatile for current industrial systems. The energy and economic systems keep losing resilience at an alarming rate in my view. The economic and financial systems need ALL consumers and ALL producers in the game to have any hope of restoring non debt based economic growth.

Perhaps we need a list of all-or-nothing systems, systems that only work at or near their current scale without undergoing fundamental changes. What traps have we set for ourselves? I think our food systems fall under this category. Energy systems? Financial? They're all so interconnected.

"Perhaps we need a list of all-or-nothing systems, systems that only work at or near their current scale without undergoing fundamental changes. What traps have we set for ourselves? I think our food systems fall under this category. Energy systems? Financial? They're all so interconnected."

I bet the average person on the street imagines the authorities already have a team of experts working on problems such as you mention. Sadly the authorities are completely tied up with maximizing profit for the upcoming quarter. I have saved your comment to try to compile such a list; or perhaps leave it as a suggestion for a new article for Gail the Actuary.

I bet the average person on the street imagines the authorities already have a team of experts working on problems such as you mention.

We do! We have all sorts of teams working on these problems. But the difficulty is that these are very very difficult problems! We have people working natural gas transportation, fuel cell transportation, battery-electric transportation, electrified rail, etc.

It was just impossible to beat oil when it was cheap. And it still remains extremely difficult to beat because of transition costs. We do now have alternate fuels that are cheaper on a fuel basis. It is MUCH cheaper to drive on electricity than gasoline . . . but batteries are expensive. It is significantly cheaper to drive on natural gas. But there are not as many filling stations.

As the price of gasoline goes up, more people will adopt alternate modes of transport whether it is public transportation, bike, natural gas, electricity, etc. The situation is difficult but not insurmountable.

I realize you are correct about transportation. Sometimes I forget what a small percentage of the population that we on TOD are and I come back here and the differences of how we view the effects of resource depletion seem much less. We at least know cheap fossil fuels are gone and that is a lot of common ground!

That being said I think our disconnect is that I feel transportation solutions are a small part of our problem. The problem as I see it is that industrial civilization does not pay for itself and needs constant credit. During the age of cheap energy borrowing money to fuel consumption worked; the amazing amount of energy from cheap fossil fuels grew populations exponentially as well as economies. Like an airplane industrial civilization took to the skies. Now I believe that the engines (CHEAP fossil fuels) on our industrial airplane are failing. Technically with the really smart passengers on board new engines could be fabricated in midair. However the pilots and flight crew (plutocracy) are convinced the engines are about to come back on and they are not going to work with the passengers. The new engines might be able to help us land but I fear we flew to high (massive population overshoot). The economic system, which would be the airplane in my analogy, is a perpetual growth model. The designers were not planning long term, they just wanted to take to the skies. I do not think switching industrial civilization to a steady state economy is realistic, but I may be wrong of course. Without growth the modern world as we know it can not exist. That is the conclusion of my years of research into how industrial civilization functions.

Even if transportation problems get solved the economy will collapse. The economy is already dead, the life support machines (central bank intervention) just give the appearance of life. As soon as central banks stop the easing the contraction starts again (patient flat lines). I repeat industrial civilization would not pay for itself even if oil were to cost $10 a barrel, but like any Ponzi scheme you would not know that you have been had until the inputs dry up and the whole thing collapses. Every advanced civilization that has taken to the skies, agriculture model airplanes up until now, have crashed. Civilizations get out of balance with nature and overshoot their resource bases. The layers of complexity added as "solutions" only make the civilization more vulnerable to collapse. Industrial civilization flew the highest and grew the biggest, and the crash will be spectacular. It is impossible to sustain what is inherently unsustainable. That is why I have no hope for industrial civilization long term.

I know I am not going to change your mind but I have made a point of not challenging posters who ideas of solutions differ from mine. We seem to have a a truce lately :) The future is very hard to predict and though I am preparing to live without industrial inputs; I must also plan for industrial civilization to last the rest of my life (I am 37). I will keep an open mind I hope.

Best wishes for a productive conversation (I feel TOD is quite productive myself) moving forward into the most interesting of times!

We only have an oil problem for now. Natural gas is really cheap. Coal is too cheap for our own good. So it is just an oil problem but since oil is used to build or transport nearly EVERYTHING else, that is a big problem.

Oil problem?? Production is at record levels!

We don't have an oil problem. We have a people problem.

I say we have Paradigm problem. That all of our institutions are built for perpetual growth and FAIL without it. We have an economic and financial systems problem. We have a ecosystems problem as the ecosystem is completely discounted. We have human problem as humans are marginalized into cogs in a machine. I agree that we have a cheap oil problem; I just feel that the collapse of industrial civilization is in fact the solution.


"The problem as I see it is that industrial civilization does not pay for itself and needs constant credit."

Elsewhere you mention $10 oil so I suppose those terms refer to money. According to the technocrats the problem is not such much industrial civilization, rather that a money-based economy is inherently unstable.

Their 1930's study guide is online at http://www.technocracy.org/study-guide

Chapter 18 has lengthy arguments to support its conclusion:

"Under the hazards that exist in a Price System it is imperative that both individuals and corporations save. If they save by hoarding they shut the existing plant down; if they save by building new plants they have a process which can only work provided the plant be continuously expanded and at an accelerating rate. That the latter policy is impossible to continue indefinitely simple physical considerations will show."

Sadly the authorities are completely tied up with maximizing profit for the upcoming quarter. I have saved your comment to try to compile such a list; or perhaps leave it as a suggestion for a new article for Gail the Actuary.

Then I´d like to suggest putting 'ecosystems' that create potable water at the very top of that list. Followed closely by maintaining adequate pH levels in ocean 'ecosystems'... Perhaps Gail can start modeling whole cost acounting of ecosystem services.

The whole concept of maximizing profit for the upcoming quarter doesn´t make a whole lot of sense within the context of ecosystem destruction. Everybody repeat after me: 'NO MORE ECONOMIC GROWTH!'

I think it is past time to seriously start thinking in terms of economic activity and economic feedback loops in a stable non growing global economic ecosystem.

A good analogy might be a mature rainforest ecosystem. The rainforest can´t continue to grow forever nor does it need to. Yet it still manages to provide adequate services for all it´s constituent organisms and myriad micro and niche ecosytems.

There is lot´s of continous activity. Individuals and small communities of variuos interacting organisms reproduce, grow, mature and then die and are recycled.

IMHO, growth oriented corporations are akin to massive fungal infections that grow on and destroy all the necessary individual species which could make for healthy, diverse, and resilient local economies which in turn could form the basis for a healthy non growth oriented global economic ecosystem.

The continuation of an exploitative for profit paradigm, is, I believe, a suicidal path.

Well said sir. No more economic growth!

Good! Let the bankers prepare for a world of energy abundance. I think I will continue trying to prepare for something else.....

National average gas $3.76 this morning. I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I can hardly afford this "energy abundance".

OK, so 24.2 / 3.79 = 6.39 SEK/liters, if my calculations are correct. My local gas station has the price 14.68 SEK/liters. It would seem as you have quite an abundance of energy compared to us.

I think the difference lies in the fact that you have an abundance of taxes compared to us. Not that this is a bad thing, we could do with a lot more taxes on energy. We would use a lot less if we did.

Ron P.

anyway is TOD only for americans? perhaps non-american readers are tired
about reading about complaints that americans have to pay so much...
which is less than half what people pay in other oecd nations.

it's kind of strange... the richest country complains that the price
of petrol is too high although it is cheap...

Yes, Americans complain about gas prices but don't recall that it is that prevalent amongst Americans who post on this site. Maybe you are correct. I am not sure.

But anyway, there are many of us Americans, including me, who find complaints about gas prices laughable especially amongst those who drive big trucks or SUVs. Everyone has had ample opportunity over the years to change their driving habits and the vehicles they drive. So cry me a river. On the other hand, the MSM is doing its best to assure people that we will have massive abundance going forward.

Setting judgements and complaints aside, The US economy was built on cheap oil and energy prices. Virtually all of our investments have been made in that environment, and restructuring the worlds largest economy around higher energy costs is a painful process. "Cheap" is a relative term. Some complaining is to be expected, especially considering the deluded state that much of the population exists in. Besides, unlike some cultures, a significant fraction of folks in the US only believe what they want to believe. The myth of American exceptionalism carries with it a strong propensity for conformation bias,, IMO. Gotta blame someone.

But this could be said of all OECD or industrialized economies, one thing is clear though : volume based taxes on fossile fuels are most probably (or even for sure) the best policy to "push" an economy in the right direction : you don't need to define solutions, you just favor any of them making sense (insulation, more efficient vehicles, etc). (and this doesn't necessarily mean increasing the gvmt budget, you can decrease taxes on work in parallel for instance)
The problem being that with the current financial world and printing frenzy, not much makes sense any more ...

I don't think it could be said of most OECD economies, at least not to the extent it applies to the U.S.

Much of Europe was civilized before the car. The settlement patterns are therefore friendly to public transportation. This is true of the northeastern U.S., but the rest of the nation is built for the car, to an extent Europeans (or even lifelong New Yorkers) have a hard time comprehending.

Let the bankers prepare for a world of energy abundance.

That is bad news. They are blowing another bubble. It is going to come crashing down when people stop making payments on their monster SUV when gas costs $5.50/gallon. And when people stop making the mortgage payments are their houses far from their jobs because the commute costs are killing them.

And the banks will ask for (and get) another bail-out. :-(

The bubble has already been blown, it's too late to prevent that.

A large and painful gas bubble.

And yes, the well connected will make out OK. For now.

Peak oil is dead. Long live peak oil. Again, the usual failure to put this in context and to look at energy resources in a holistic manner. The continuing tragicomedy of our times. Those people, if any, living in the future, will view our times as one largely populated by foolish buffoons, quaint relics of an intellectually deficient age. Perhaps this is also a function of a seriously deficient educational system. When I was in college, even though my focus was on Economics, I was required to look at resources within a long term and ecological context. My first exposure to peak oil and global warming was from my Economics courses. My world view was because of my Economics background not in spite of it. Apparently, the current crop of so called journalists has been taught to have a much narrower, short term perspective.

Even if peak oil is being delayed for a few years, it is still a tragedy because the only thing that gets people's attention is immediate signs of scarcity.

Even if peak oil is being delayed for a few years,...

Peak oil will not be delayed for a few years, not even one year, not by tight oil anyway: From Tom Whipple yesterday:

Peak Oil: Gone for Now but Celebrations will be Short Lived

Oil production from tight wells that have been hydraulically fractured depletes very rapidly, with production declining by 80-91 percent of initial output in the first 24 months. In this situation, some 40 percent of production must be replaced annually just to maintain a level output. Independent geologists looking at the prospects for tight oil in the US forecast that production from current fields will peak in 2016 and will be to down to about 700,000 barrels per day by 2025. Therefore, total tight oil from the North Dakota and Texas fields will likely be on the order of five billion barrels — equivalent to about 10 months of US consumption.

Five billion barrels is the equivalent of about two months of world crude oil consumption. But that is just Texas and North Dakota where 80 percent of tight oil is produced. So total tight oil production would supply the world about 3 months or so. Not a game changer.

Ron P.

Peak oil is dead. Long live peak oil.

The [many] articles we read speak of peak oil as if it were a moment in time, rather than a condition taking place over an extended period of time. In my opinion we should emphasize the undulating plateau as a significant part of the theory of Peak Oil, as well as showing, statistically, the geophysical reality that what is left today is expensive oil, and that cheap oil is demonstrably well past peak already.


Right, The "undulating plateau" concept does not prohibit some of the upward undulations from being higher than the leading edge.

In my opinion we should emphasize the undulating plateau as a significant part of the theory of Peak Oil,

In my opinion we should never use the term "Theory of Peak Oil." That implies that peak oil is only a theory and indeed may one day be proven false. If you continue to consume a finite resource it is a hard cold fact that it will one day peak, not a theory at all.

the·o·ry noun,
2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. Synonyms: idea, notion hypothesis, postulate. Antonyms: practice, verification, corroboration, substantiation.

Ron P.

Sorry, Ron. I have a bias towards the scientific view, and in science a theory is never a fact. Evolution, IMO far more likely true than not true, is still the Theory of Evolution. Simply because, however unlikely, there is always a chance, even if miniscual, that facts will show something else. And often they do.

Tho, I suppose at some point one could look back on circumstances and say, "oil peaked on July 27, 2017 at 5:00 pm Zulu." If it was even possible to have that certain a statement in the future, when the theory will be "Oil Peaked sometime during the period of 2005 to 2017" or some such.

To me the problem is more correctly stating to the public what "Peak Oil" actually means. And, as to any finite resource (do we include hypothetical oil on Titan, for instance?), what does finite mean? No one will take us seriously if we banter about finite resources will one day peak if we are not careful in our statement of the theory. For instance, "finite resources means: x" is easier to understand than "will one day peak." Does peak mean reach the half way point in extraction? What about oil that is still in the ground? If more than 50% is still there, has oil peaked? It has to mean that there is only a given amount that will be capable of extraction. And then we must qualify by "by conventional means." Well, to most, frac'ing is here to stay, and they never heard of it before, so we need to convey correctly that as it becomes more difficult to extract, it will be more expensive, driving up prices. The increased price, to a point (not yet determined) will drive increased production. So, now we have a finite resource that peaked, and then it peaks again... and again? And you say that is a fact?

What needs to be clear is has to do with what a scientific theory is, as opposed to what people in general mean when they say, "that's my theory." Which means their carelessly expressed statement of what they believe might be a fact, with no means to test or verify, and having little or no implications for predicting future events. What makes scientific theories sound or not is how they may be "proven." And they are always subject to disproof, and rejection. If the methods of proof consistently and accurately follow the theory, and predictions made based on the theory come about as described, then the theory is considered valid. I consider evolutionary theory to be sound and valid. I also consider the theory of peak oil to be sound and valid, but I would hasten to add that it is seldom correctly and completely expressed in a way satisfactory to my enquiring mind.


edit: Facts are what we use to prove a theory true or false. There are 84.5MBD pumped at present is a fact, and can be verified. There will never be more than 85MBD pumped might be a theory. It is subject to proof. Even if production dropped to 50MBD, it could one day rise to 86MBD - which would disprove that oil peaked at 85. And, what about Titan? Maybe there are googobs of oil there; or on some far distant, yet reachable planet in the Milky Way (or beyond)?

Just saying.

Evolution, IMO far more likely true than not true, is still the Theory of Evolution.

No, no, no, you have it all wrong. There is a theory of evolution just as there is a theory of gravity. Gravity is a fact but what causes it, or exactly what it is, is only a theory. That is why there is a theory of gravity as well as a fact of gravity.

Ditto with evolution. There is a theory of evolution and there is a fact of evolution. However there is far more known about what causes evolution than there is about what causes gravity. So the theory of evolution is disappearing fast. There is very little left about evolution that is still theory.

And your example does not prove that peak oil is a theory either. Even if oil dropped to 50 mb/d and then about 20 Ghawars were found and production went up to 90 mb/d peak oil would still be a fact, not a theory. What makes it a fact is not the date that it peaks, or didn't peak. What makes it a fact is the fact that oil is finite and will definitely peak if we keep pumping it out of the ground. That oil production will one day peak is a hard and cold fact and is in no way a theory. Many peaks and many undulations cannot change the fact that it is finite and will peak.

And there are facts in science but usually they are called laws. The laws of thermodynamics are facts. Newton's laws of motion are facts.

One more note about evolution. Richard Dawkins said: "Natural selection is a process, evolution is history." History is a fact, it is a fact evolution happened.

Ron P.

I think I understand what you're saying, Ron. And I agree... Peak Oil, Evolution, Gravity, are all concepts. Otherwise we could not talk about them. There must be agreement between individuals on meanings in order to communicate. That does not me that there is not a theory of: gravity, evolution, peak oil, etc. The theory states what the idea is, how it interacts with the universe, and predicts what findings of fact will be made. Experiments are set up to test the theory, and when facts jibe with theory, all is good. And, yet, it is still the "theory of X."

I don't know that I agree that peak oil is a 'fact.' There are many facts about PO, and I am sure we agree about all of them. Peak oi, though, can only be a fact when it is done. Evolution is ongoing, as I know you agree. So is peak oil.

On the other hand, as interesting as this conversation is (remember, my undergrad major was Philosophy, emp. on logic and symbolic logic), I fear I have already taken too much space on this today. Enjoyed it though! Give a shout if you're going to be near Plano some weekend (meaning Sunday - working 6 days now). I'll buy starbucks and we can talk!


There is a theory of evolution and there is a fact of evolution. However there is far more known about what causes evolution than there is about what causes gravity. So the theory of evolution is disappearing fast. There is very little left about evolution that is still theory.

What is and will remain theory is the how evolution occurs - is it a survival of the fittest based natural selection, or what? There's mosquitos that live in London's tubes that "evolved" from their less-hardy brethren - from these mosquitos, we have the chance to observe the results of "evolution". Yet, it doesn't help us decide whether it's really evolution or some other phenomenon we have yet to understand- perhaps it's really not even a selection process but rather that life is more adaptable than we realize.

From: http://scottcgruber.hubpages.com/hub/The-London-Underground-Mosquito

One of the more frequent science-denialist arguments against evolution is the claim that the evolution of a new species has never been observed. Besides being an illogical argument that ignores the preponderance of forensic evidence in favor of the theory, it is falsified by a number of examples of observed speciation within the span of recent history. One of the most interesting of these examples comes from a rather infuriating creature: The London Underground mosquito.

Fully agree on this (not using theory), and you don't even need to bring the bell curve aspect and all that, just simple maths about if the integral of a positive function is finite then it goes through a maximum (the average of the function over any non null interval goes through a maximum to be mathematically precise and avoid "pathologic" functions)

I've decided that "theory" is just a bad word because it has two different and almost diametrically opposed meanings. In common parlance, it means an educated guess at explaining something. As in "I have have a theory that the neighbor's dog is killing my flowers by peeing on them during the night." But scientific circles, theory means a detailed explanation for a particular phenomenon backed up with large amounts of observation and analysis. As in "Gravity theory".

These two very different meanings make the word fodder for endless pointless misunderstandings. So I tend to avoid the word unless I know it will be understood properly.

Yes, but to me it isn't even a theory as in the physics science sense. It is more "applied maths " or "common sense" domain, as typically to prove that the function goes through a maximum you would use a reductio ad absurdum (proof by contradiction) method, and verifying by experiment would somehow sound stupid in that case (besides being in a sense impossible due to the need to wait forever).
As to the bell curve or Hubbert peak aspect, what it is in fact is describing the( or "a") typical human behaviour with respect to finite resources stocks (which also appears in other biological domains I think).

Aren't we confusing the proof with the theory? The theory says if oil is finite, then it will experience a maximum. To prove the theory, the facts are that oil wells, then oil fields, and then by extension all earthly oil, experiences a maximum. This is what Hubbert did - he showed wells and fields, and then theorized US oil should peak. When it did, QED, the 'theory' was validated and shown to be sound. And sound or valid are about all we can say about a theory - even the theory of relativity or gravity.

Physical laws are simply axiomatic expressions of valid theories. Hence the law of gravity, or the laws of motion, or the laws of thermodynamics. All are theories, well tested, and expressed as axioms. Without axiomatic formulae, there would only be tautologies and no scientific progress.


Not really the way I see it, seems to me that what Hubbert brought was the typical "form" of the production rate for oil extraction (or other finite natural ressources), showing that it followed a logistic curve, but it seems to me he took the "if finite then a maximum" for granted, or not labeling it as a "theory".
Plus again, if the "Hubbert curve" aspect is the theory, then the domain is more "human behaviour" or "bioeconomics" than physics.

Oil is complicated, because what counts as producable oil may change with time/technology/economics. We have conventional oil, ultraheavy oil, oilsands, kerogen, and deep water oil. It as at least theoretically possible that we could have a conventional oil logistics curve start thing, then one or more of the tougher to get at types might produce a secondary peak -possibly even decades later. If that happened, then for those who are just starting to climb the second peak, it would feel like "peak-oil has been overturned", when in fact, they are just going through another phase.

I have two thoughts involving today's discussions of the Peak Oil (as a meme).

First, Peak Oil is sufficiently part of the subconscious anxiety about energy, that all of the energy experts/pudits/what have you who analyze and write about energy know they have to take a stand, do they believe it or don't they? Put more simply, the phrase 'Peak Oil' generates page hits.

Which brings me to thought number two. Ever louder declarations that 'Peak Oil is Dead' speak to the opposite truth, that energy constraints persist, heroic efforts by frac'ers, strippers, and seismic operators notwithstanding. Just whistling past the graveyard.

Yes! This. Way too much trying to shout it down. Even as these writers and promoters cling to any hopeful sign of supply growth they still can't drown out the sound of the bottom of the barrel being scraped in their own ears.

This is the bargaining phase with the hard to repress subconscious thought the game is up, or becoming up. Expect emotions to get more shrill and denial even more intensely expressed.

As in the wonderfully true Ghandi quote often up top, push back is a sign of progress. Total silence is much earlier phase, and way more depressing to get through.

Our fight for a shift in transport investment away from MOAR ROADZ and much more towards Transit, especially electric rail, here in Auckland has gone through the same arc, so I am very pleased that the fight has arrived. Even though it is exhausting, and I have to say the support that the BAU crowd is taking from your Tight Oil boom is not helping!

Sophisticated analyses around production costs and decline rates are completely ignored in the MSM here.

Here's one perhaps a tad off the beaten path a bit. Usual great pics in the actual magazine.

The New Oil Landscape

The fracking frenzy in North Dakota has boosted the U.S. fuel supply—but at what cost?

“Just don’t pass out on me,” Connell says, half in jest. We’ve scaled a steep stairway to a narrow steel catwalk 30 feet above the ground, but she’s not referring to the height. She says that one of the first times she opened the hatch atop a dirty water tank, she was overcome by fumes. “I fell to my knees.” No one had warned her about the dozens of chemicals in the water, including hydrogen sulfide, H₂S, its rotten-egg odor created by bacteria growing inside wells. In high enough concentrations it can be poisonous, even lethal. Ironically, the gas poses the greatest risk when it deadens your sense of smell, another safety lesson Connell had to learn on her own. Eventually someone gave her an H₂S detector, which she clipped to her collar whenever she approached a well that had turned “sour” enough to be hazardous. Once she was pumping dirty water from her tanker truck when the detector sounded. She scrambled away, thinking she’d escaped harm. But hours later she felt stabbing pains in her stomach, the prelude to a weeklong bout of vomiting. Her next purchase was a gas mask.

That technology, stunning enough in itself, coupled with shifts in the marketplace that favor exploiting deposits that are harder, and therefore more expensive, to tap has convinced some experts that the carbon-based economy can continue much longer than they’d imagined. Billionaire oilman and Bakken pioneer Harold Hamm argues that the assumption we’re running out of oil and gas is false. America, in his view, needs a national policy based on abundance, one that doesn’t favor developing renewable sources of energy. Either way, you’re not likely to hear anyone in the oil patch mention what’s ultimately at stake if we keep burning fossil fuels with abandon.

“Climate change?” Connell says. “We don’t talk about that here.”


A question related to fracking: over at Energy & Capital, Brian Hicks makes the comment in his March 1 "Everything is Fracked" tutorial on fracking and horizontal drilling that (his italics): No matter how many times they argue it, there's never been a case of frac fluid migrating up to the water table.

There's a contingent of environmentalists driving their fossil-fueled vehicles to anti-fracking rallies that would claim quite the opposite, and that seems to be the primary basis for their position re. fracking.

On the other hand, I take ROCKMAN's lessons to heart that, in any endeavor where there's risk and humans are making (occasionally bad) decisions, sometimes people will do the stupid or badly-informed thing, and there are consequences - to human life, and to the environment.

I also understand his argument that state regulations regarding disposal of waste fracking fluids and chemicals, and the oversight (or lack thereof) of said waste disposal is the biggest environmental issue facing Northeastern U.S. states who are new to the fracking game. Given all that, who is right?

Dick Lawrence

Dick – In a sense both sides are correct. The frac’ng process can damage the environment. The frac’ng process can be conducted with a minimal amount of risk to the environment. Those are not contradictory statements.

The key for the opponents is to understand where the risks exist. Nearly all the initial concern was that fracs created 8,000’ below ground level could migrate to the surface. Physically impossible and easily proved. Next came the possibility of frac fluids/hydrocarbons/salt water coming up the well bores and contaminating fresh. That is possible but rarely happens. All industrial activity has the same potential to damage. The NE has decades of history of such problems. The question for locals is how much risk is acceptable. Those who offer that no frac’ng risk is acceptable are faced with the problem of zero tolerance for all inditrial activity which, of course, isn’t doable.

Then came the hype over hydrocarbon contamination of the fresh water by drilling activity. Hundreds of claims using the proven existence of oil/NG in the aquifers were tossed out. And in almost every case was shown to be naturally occurring. But not in every case. There again what level of risk is acceptable? We accept the reality that a certain number of children die every year I school bus accidents. Someone who isn’t dependent upon such transportation might say no risk is acceptable. Just as someone whose income (be it a mineral owner, an oil field worker or an oil company) doesn’t depending on drilling might also say no risk is acceptable. So who is correct?

And finally the focus is now developing where it should have been at the start: improper disposal. But this isn’t a new problem that just cropped up with the surge in frac’ng activity. Liquid oil field wastes have been disposed in these same areas for more than a half century with little knowledge/scrutiny by the public. In an odd sense the frac’ng perhaps has done some good by getting folks to focus. By far the worse oil field contamination potential is from salt water and not frac fluids or hydrocarbons. Much worse because of the volume involved. Just a WAG but for every potential gallon of frac fluid contamination there have been several million gallons of potential salt water contamination. And given what seems to be a history of poor regulation of disposal in the NE states I suspect there has been an unimaginable amount of improperly disposed material in those areas. The Ohio disposal company recently busted for dumping frac fluids into the sewers has been in business for decades. I serious doubt this is his first offense. So perhaps the frac’ng activity has finally brought the focus to where it should have been decades ago.

And not to play the holier than though card too much, both Texas and La have a history of such poor operations in the bad ole days. But both states eventually recognized the problem and wrote/enforced regulations to counter the problem. This was done decades ago. You'll notice very few anti-frac’ng stories have come out of Texas. That isn’t because the oil patch calls the shots here on such matters…the state regulators do. As I’ve said before Texas companies are fairly good stewards of the land not just because we’re good people (snarc) but also because we get crap fined out of us if we’re caught breaking the rules.

IMHO neither side is wrong in their general feelings. The problem is the lack of understanding of the details and an incorrect focus.

New, Rigorous Assessment of Shale Gas Reserves Forecasts Reliable Supply from Barnett Shale Through 2030

A new study, believed to be the most thorough assessment yet of the natural gas production potential of the Barnett Shale, foresees slowly declining production through the year 2030 and beyond and total recovery at greater than three times cumulative production to date. This forecast has broad implications for the future of U.S energy production and policy.

In the base case, the study forecasts a cumulative 44 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of recoverable reserves from the Barnett, with annual production declining in a predictable curve from the current peak of 2 TCF per year to about 900 billion cubic feet (BCF) per year by 2030.

The BEG study examines actual production data from more than 16,000 individual wells drilled in the Barnett play through mid-2011. Other assessments of the Barnett have relied on aggregate views of average production, offering a “top down” view of production, says Scott Tinker, director of the BEG and co-principal investigator for the study.

Important Info: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – BEG Barnett Shale Assessment Study

One of the team members is Tad Patzek, Chair, Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

By the end of 2013, the BEG will complete assessments, following the same methodology, of three other major U.S. shale gas basins: the Marcellus, Haynesville and Fayetteville.

A couple of items that seem to have escaped the attention of the MSM regarding the study: (1) They think that Barnett Shale gas production has peaked and (2) Based on an earlier summary of the report, they are putting average EUR per well at about 1.4 BCF, versus the 3.0 BCF that the industry has been claiming. (The USGS put the average at about 1.0 BCF.)

And by the way, US dry natural gas production (from all sources, gas wells and associated gas from oil wells) has been flat from about August, 2011 through the end of 2012 (EIA).

Monthly EIA data for US dry NG production:


Check out gross withdrawals (before lease use & liquids extraction) from gas wells:


Here's the recurring question I have: In the fourth quarter of 2013, or 2014, let's assume--due to the slowdown in gas well drilling--that we see a material decline in total US dry NG production, and as a consequence, NG prices move back to the $6 to $8 range. Since the decline rate from existing wells is so much higher now than at the start of the shale boom, will it be possible for the industry to offset the high decline rates from existing wellbores and to show an increase in US dry NG production?

Since the decline rate from existing wells is so much higher now than at the start of the shale boom, will it be possible for the industry to offset the high decline rates from existing wellbores and to show an increase in US dry NG production?

That, my good sir, is the trillion dollar question.

I'm going to say no, b/c I think we will see a pretty serious financial crisis along with the decline and there will be a major scarcity of capital. All the financial firms that the shale gas drillers had been dependent on up to that point will be out of the office, hat in hand, waiting in line at the TBTF bailout window in DC.

The way to read the production curves with the colored striations is to look for vertical steepness of the bands. The more vertical the bands are, the more you have rapid depletion in that year's wells.

So you can see the steepness gradually increase as it moves past the peak.

It seems to me that steepness means that if you invest in one of those post peak wells, the thing you've invested in will deplete very fast. Will you be able to get a return on your investment in that time?

Twilight - Another reason the Barnett will still be producing many years down the road. From:


“Chesapeake cuts land agents, drilling in Barnett Shale

Chesapeake Energy, the No. 2 natural gas producer in the country and in the Barnett Shale, said it will slash leasing and drilling activities in the Barnett… the company will have just two rigs running in the Barnett Shale this summer, compared to more than a dozen at the start of the year…the company just recently cut the number of independent land agents it uses locally to 139 from about 350.”

The less you use something the longer it lasts

Soon to be known as SinoPeak?

Well . . . Now I'm hoping that they bamboozled them. That is one way of reducing the current account deficit.

Twilight - I think you may be confusing the decline rate of an individual well [assumed to be more or less a constant in this study] and the cumulative decline rate of the entire basin. When the individual wells are stacked like in the graph above, the later wells appear to decline more rapidily - its only an illusion.

Whether or not that's a good investment is another question.

OK, good point.

What you need to have is a good model of how the aggregate evolves.

One just needs a few algorithms such as an individual decline function, convolution, and projected fields over time.

I can tell what those striations mean because I modeled this behavior a while back:

Yes, I do get stacked graphs, it was just a brain fart really.

It would be interesting to have them stacked on the z-axis in a 3d plot.


...so from start to peak in a major shale play, arguably one of the larger and better ones, takes about 12 years. After that, despite continued aggressive drilling the decline parameters of the play take over and it's a glide downwards.

What I take from this is:

* There's a total of three years of domestic consumption at current rates of consumption in the Barnett.

* It will take ~ 30 years to extract this three years of consumption.

* There is a less than infinite number of shale plays. I peg it at about 10-20 Barnett equivalents with lots of uncertainty generated by unknown/unproven EURs for the Marcellus/Devonian/Utica plays. If they are as claimed, then go with 20, if they pan out just the same as Barnett and Haynesville, then we slide towards the low end.

* Taken together, this means that there are 30-60 years of domestic NG in the shale plays at current rates of consumption

* Assuming that we get the entire proven reserves and probable+possible+speculative resources at 2,173 Tcf there are 90 yrs at current rates of consumption. If demand grows by 2%/yr then there are 52 years left. At 4% this becomes 38 years. At 7% this collapses to 29 years.

* However, that is the best case where we get everything no matter how speculative. By trimming just the speculative part off you lose a quarter off of each of those numbers. This gives us somewhere between 64 and 23 years left depending on whether demand increases by 0% or 7% per year.

Mind you, this is nothing to sneeze at but given the fact that energy transitions take decades, and require energy itself which pushes me towards the higher side of demand growth, my take-away is that instead of a bonanza that needs to be exported, we might have enough to refashion our landscape and lifestyles to a different energy future but if, and only if, we start right now.

Chris... according to Art Berman's article quoting the Potential Gas Committee:

There are really only 550 TF of total Probable Resources. If we assume all are commercial, then we only have 23 years worth of gas production. However, we are already seeing a peaking in the Barnett Shale.

Shale Gas been replacing conventional gas but has done so at much higher decline rates.

I have the same info. The full table reads (in Tcf):

1) reserves @ 270

2) Probable Resources @ 550

3) Possible Resources @ 735

4) Speculative Resources @ 615

Add them all up and you get 2,170 (give or take... I am rounding the Potential Gas Committees numbers slightly for clarity and so as to remove the impression of precision)

I really think that considering the original content The Oil Drum has presented in the past year (Red Queen analysis, etc), that it could have shown up as a nominee for Best Science Blog. Yet this piece from today's Guardian suggests that massive ballot stuffing still occurs. It turns out that 13 of the top 17 blogs nominated for top science blog in the Bloggies were aligned with AGW skepticism:

The intent as always is to create a one-sided view aligned with some political agenda and counter to any scientific process.

Hey hey WHT,

I assume that you are familiar with the Kübler-Ross model, the 5 stages of grief, since it has been covered before on TOD. 5 stages of grief links Wikipedia and Robot Chicken.

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

The massive denial is in a sense a very positive step toward dealing with reality. Though I'm not looking forward to the anger stage.


Yes, Here is how Joe Romm applied it to climate change hawks just a few days ago:


The stages are reversed because one first starts by accepting the science developed over hundreds of years, and then works its way backwards.

From Reuters: UPDATE 1-OPEC oil output up, first rise since Oct-survey

Supply rises by 110,000 bpd led by Iraq, Saudi...

(Reuters) - OPEC crude oil output rose in February, the first monthly increase since October, due to higher exports from Iraq and a slight increase in supply from top exporter Saudi Arabia, a Reuters survey found on Friday.

But from Bloomberg Link up top: WTI Falls to 2013 Low as China Slows, OPEC Output Rises

OPEC crude output climbed as a gain by Libya outweighed a cut by Saudi Arabia, the Bloomberg survey showed...

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest producer, pumped 9 million barrels a day, the lowest level since May 2011, according to the survey. Output was down 100,000 barrels from January and 900,000 barrels from May, when production reached the highest since at least January 1989.

So Reuters says Saudi production was slightly up in February while Bloomberg says it was slightly down. The OPEC MOMR will be out March 12th and we shall get the official figures then. At any rate Saudi is showing no signs of increasing production and I don't really expect them to do so soon.

Anyway according to the last months OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report, it is the first rise in production since August. In August OPEC crude only stood at 31,454,000 barrels per day. In January OPEC crude had dropped to 30,320,000 bp/d, a drop of 1,134,000 bp/d from August and down 1.3 mb/d from April 2012. So this gain of 97,000 bp/d according to Bloomberg or 110,000 bp/d according to Reuters won change things very much.


How Spirituality Induces Liberal Attitudes

"There's great overlap between religious beliefs and political orientations," says one of the study authors, Jordan Peterson of U of T's Department of Psychology. "We found that religious individuals tend to be more conservative and spiritual people tend to be more liberal."

... "While religiousness is characterized by devotion to a specific tradition, set of principles, or code of conduct, spirituality is associated with the direct experience of self-transcendence and the feeling that we're all connected.

"Spiritual experiences seem to make people feel more of a connection with others," says Hirsh. "The boundaries we normally maintain between ourselves and the world tend to dissolve during spiritual experiences. These feelings of self-transcendence make it easier to recognize that we are all part of the same system, promoting an inclusive and egalitarian mindset."

I've never understood the word 'spiritual'. To me it just sounds like someone that believes in ghosts.

spirituality is associated with the direct experience of self-transcendence and the feeling that we're all connected.

I don't get that. Yes, gravity connects us all. The atmosphere connects us all. The economic system connects us all. But "direct experience of self-transcendence"? What is that? It is a nice parlor trick you can play on your brain with drugs or meditation. But it is not real.

Thank you, your response will be useful in helping to understand your other comments.

Indeed. I'm very much into hard facts and what can be proven with evidence. I'm not a fan of what a particular religion or a person's subjective 'spirituality' tells them.

facts = known knowns
beliefs = known unknowns

and then there are those unknown unknowns

Is knowledge knowable? If not, how do we know this
-Woody Allen (I think)

Faith = believing what you know ain't so.

Mark Twain

I find that most people who believe themselves to be entirely rational are just as emotional irrational as anyone else, they're just not in touch with that part of themselves and it often gives them trouble. My advice, which probably won't mean much, would be to be less dismissive of such concepts and put some time into trying to understand them better.

Positive and normative...

Evolution didn't program us to be rational or wise. It gave us specific mechanisms to survive some of which are poorly suited to our present environment. As highly cerebral, highly social mammals we have narratives that we internalize to make sense of the world. Those narratives do get tested against reality but they are tested by our poorly suited suite of evolved mechanisms.

We all have faith in some things that we haven't evaluated critically because critical evaluations are time and resource intensive (calories and cognitive resources, optimal information foraging theory). Faith in God or faith in The Markets or Faith in Progress or faith in The Scientific Method. Regardless of the particular suite of believes we are all concerned with the future of life on this planet and more specifically the lives of our species and more specifically still our individual lives. This should be contrasted with the total lack of evidence or scientific consensus that life is important.

We value our lives because we survive, if we didn't we wouldn't. Spirituality isn't about positive values like the charge to mass ratio of the electron. It is about the normative values, the narratives that we tell ourselves to make sense of the world. You, speculawyer, are commenting on this site with the tagline 'discussions about energy and the future' for a reason. That reason has a normative value embedded in it somewhere. I know this with absolute certainty the same way that I know you, speculawyer, stop at red lights and pay your taxes. hard facts and proven evidence can tell you what will happen if you do or don't stop at red lights or pay your taxes, that's positive, but whether you should stop or pay is a normative thing. Normative as in a narrative that explains the shoulds of the world.

If you stop to think about what you should do. Why you should do it. If you really stop to think about it, dare I say meditate on it, you will be engaging in a spiritual activity. To draw this back to a concrete example 'facts and what can be proven with evidence' tell you what will happen should you stop or run a red light. I know that you choose to stop or you wouldn't be here. What is it in your 'particular religion or a person's subjective "spirituality"' that tells you to stop?

Perhaps you are not all knowing and there are things you will never understand that others do...

Another thing to bear in mind in this sort of situation is that this sort of study (imagining it was conducted with some degree of rigour) assists in the emergence of a body of 'hard facts' (or increasingly hard facts), namely about what sorts of things groups of people might believe in, and what possible effects that might have on their behaviour.

So, whether or not a particular person 'understands' the content of a particular set of beliefs (in the sense that they say they can't see why someone would hold those beliefs, since they don't hold them, and so they do not resonate, in some fashion, with their own set of beliefs) is not necessarily the thing of primary importance. If someone wants to understand how the world works - and in particular how humans function in the world - the world of 'hard facts' - it is still essential that they pay close attention to these sorts of studies (assuming again that this study reflects the good work going on in this area).

You're asking questions speculawyer and that's the first step.

Throughout human history, people have claimed to have mystical or supernatural experiences. Perhaps that is the result of the human brain and it's apparent need for sleep and dreaming. Those experiences used to be explained by one's religious faith, though general acceptance of organized religion seems to have lost much of it's relevance as science has provided explanations for many events previously ascribed to the hidden hand of a deity. Science has found many biological reasons for such experiences, such as various brain abnormalities, including chemical imbalances, natural or induced. Sleep deprivation alone will trigger hallucinations and other strong emotional experiences also may be taken as being of spirituality origin.

Thus, for people without understanding in the sciences, a spiritual world view is likely to be common. This view would be made stronger by the effects of various chemicals and many in our society have experienced these effects. Back in the '60's, when there was a large increase in the use of hallucinogenic chemicals, the popular wisdom was that what one experienced provided another perception of reality. I suspect that there are many people who still believe this to be true. I personally have experienced what I believe to be numerous examples of what I think to be telepathic connection, though I understand that the transient nature of those experiences make it impossible to use scientific methods to "prove" that such exists. That said, my mental explanation has nothing to do with the historical religious world view of supernatural deity(s) able to bend the laws of nature, including the continuation of one's spirit beyond death. I also recognize that I might be just another slightly damaged, delusional human being...

E. Swanson

You know all reality in your mind. Dreams, stories, experience, all go into the pot in the same way. Language is how we encode our impressions -- we name things, we construct narratives, we remember the stories we've drawn from the infinite stream of events. What we've learned since Galileo is to check our various realities against evidence.

In my mother's final days, she'd worry that she'd just seen my late father, or her mother, and now she couldn't find them. She couldn't tell dream from the reality of the nursing home. In her prime, she was always telling us how God had sent some nice young man to help her when her car broke down on the turnpike. I'd tell her, "I believe in your experience; explanations may differ."

People's stories are very real to them. If they say that the Holy Ghost will direct them, they interpret their experiences in that frame. But the religious stories were all made up at some time. The Hebrew scriptures before King Josiah in the Seventh Century BCE are legend, unsupported by archeological evidence. The Christian scriptures are hearsay, written down forty to ninety years after the supposed events. Neither fits comfortably into the universe as we now understand it. No evidence; ambiguous experience; no actual need for the story, which is now more a tribal marker than an explanation of events. Hence the growing number of people who don't bother. But we still like to feel a sense of wonder and beauty -- "Spirituality" lets us indulge that bent without the need to prove anything.

Sneering at people's realities tends to alienate them. Keep plugging for evidence and logic, and the mass may begin to turn. (As they have been. Hence the major rear-guard action of propaganda creation for right-wing friendly realities, peddled like product in mass media.)

Sneering at people's realities tends to alienate them. Keep plugging for evidence and logic, and the mass may begin to turn. (As they have been. Hence the major rear-guard action of propaganda creation for right-wing friendly realities, peddled like product in mass media.)

Isn't that pretty much what the Oil Drum is supposed to be about? I can't help but notice that "you may be right about the whole "oil for thousands of years" thing, every worldview has a sliver of truth" isn't that common here.

This article just turned up, exploring how much our thinking, our perceptions, depend on culture:

When Norenzayan became a student of psychology in 1994, four years after his family had moved from Lebanon to America, he was excited to study the effect of religion on human psychology. “I remember opening textbook after textbook and turning to the index and looking for the word ‘religion,’ ” he told me, “Again and again the very word wouldn’t be listed. This was shocking. How could psychology be the science of human behavior and have nothing to say about religion? Where I grew up you’d have to be in a coma not to notice the importance of religion on how people perceive themselves and the world around them.”

Norenzayan became interested in how certain religious beliefs, handed down through generations, may have shaped human psychology to make possible the creation of large-scale societies. He has suggested that there may be a connection between the growth of religions that believe in “morally concerned deities”—that is, a god or gods who care if people are good or bad—and the evolution of large cities and nations. To be cooperative in large groups of relative strangers, in other words, might have required the shared belief that an all-powerful being was forever watching over your shoulder.

If religion was necessary in the development of large-scale societies, can large-scale societies survive without religion? Norenzayan points to parts of Scandinavia with atheist majorities that seem to be doing just fine. They may have climbed the ladder of religion and effectively kicked it away. Or perhaps, after a thousand years of religious belief, the idea of an unseen entity always watching your behavior remains in our culturally shaped thinking even after the belief in God dissipates or disappears.

Why, I asked Norenzayan, if religion might have been so central to human psychology, have researchers not delved into the topic? “Experimental psychologists are the weirdest of the weird,” said Norenzayan. “They are almost the least religious academics, next to biologists. And because academics mostly talk amongst themselves, they could look around and say, ‘No one who is important to me is religious, so this must not be very important.’” Indeed, almost every major theorist on human behavior in the last 100 years predicted that it was just a matter of time before religion was a vestige of the past. But the world persists in being a very religious place.

Much of the study of cognition has been done among graduate students -- the equivalent, the authors say, of studying penguins to learn about birds. The obvious is often obvious to us.

WEIRD is an acronym -- Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic.

So, does that mean you could stand in an old-growth forest and see nothing of value except board feet of lumber? Just askin'.

I don't look at a forest and see board feet of lumber. I believe biophilia is real, and that going out and experiencing nature works better than Prozac.

But I'm hesitant to call it spiritual. I don't really believe in spirits, so how can it be spiritual? I guess I see it as more biological. I imagine an eagle seeing a nice river with good trees and lots of fish would feel the same.

According to traditional American Indian beliefs, the Creator made all the birds of the sky when the World was new. Of all the birds, the Creator chose the Eagle to be the leader... the Master of the Sky.

The Eagle flies higher and sees better than any other bird. Therefore, its perspective is different from other creations that are held close to the Earth, and it is closer to the Creator. The Creator also has a different perspective of what occurs below in this world of physical things in which humankind resides. The Eagle spends more time in the higher element of Father Sky than other birds, and Father Sky is an element of the Spirit.

The Eagle is considered to be a messenger to God. It was given the honor of carrying the prayers of man between the World of Earth and the World of Spirit, where the Creator and grandfathers reside. To wear or hold an Eagle feather causes the Creator to take immediate notice. With the Eagle feather, the Creator is honored in the highest way.

Seems the closer and more reliant upon nature a culture is, the more spiritual its assignations to it. Does total emersion in nature invoke a universally spriritual response over time? Is this where humanity strayed from the path of righteousness? Original sin...

Ghung, standing ovation to your comment!!!!

Hey, by that definition, fossil fuels are spiritual.

It connects us all.

Those who peddle the stuff are religious, those who use it are spiritual.

Hey, I get it now ... ;)

US May Face Inevitable Nuclear Power Exit

In the third and final issue in a series focused on nuclear exits, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE, turns its attention to the United States and looks at whether the country's business-as-usual approach may yet lead to a nuclear phase-out for economic reasons.

According to former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Commissioner Peter Bradford, current market forces challenge the economic viability of existing nuclear power plants, with new reactors representing an extremely unattractive investment prospect.

Allowing existing reactors to simply run out their licensed lifetimes in the current scenario, nuclear power may simply disappear, he writes. "Absent an extremely large injection of government funding or further life extensions, the reactors currently operating are going to end their licensed lifetimes between now and the late 2050s," Bradford concludes. "They will become part of an economics-driven US nuclear phase-out a couple of decades behind the government-led nuclear exit in Germany."

Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute chairman and chief scientist, Amory Lovins, says that as the US electricity system ages, most of its power plants and transmission grid must be replaced by 2050. The cost will be roughly the same, whether the rebuilt system is fed by new nuclear power plants and "clean coal" facilities or centralized and distributed renewable energy plants

Full Articles: Special issue: US nuclear exit?

"nuclear power may simply disappear"

While this would be a most welcome development, alas the nuclear waste will not just disappear so easily.

Allowing existing reactors to simply run out their licensed lifetimes in the current scenario, nuclear power may simply disappear, he writes.

Simply? Going to The economics of a US civilian nuclear phase-out, via your link:

Operating costs:

This first group sustains, and scales directly with, the plant’s day-to-day operation. While one can argue that few costs in a nuclear plant are truly variable—its skilled staff, for example, can hardly be furloughed in a skill-short market and then rehired—these costs nonetheless are treated as variable because they approximate the plant’s marginal cost of sending out electricity over time. The operators’ 2010 reports to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on its required “Form FERC-1” show that operating costs averaged $266 per megawatt-hour of output to the grid, including about $17 for routine operation and maintenance,7 $1 for the statutory federal nuclear-waste-management fee, and almost $7 for fuel,8 plus an unreported and highly discounted cost of operation9—nearly $1 to cover future decommissioning, for which operators must book a reserve fund on their balance sheet.

$266/MwH average operating costs, $1 set aside, each, for waste management and decommisioning... that's ~ 0.0038 (1/266) of operating costs allocated to each of these two categories. Someone please tell me I'm severely math challenged. Not that I don't trust these folks to do the right thing...

Like coal, nuclear is struggling these days because natural gas is so much cheaper and easier. It just doesn't make sense right now. But nuclear won't go away permanently. It will come back once the current very low natural gas prices go away (and the memory of Fukushima fades).

"But nuclear won't go away permanently. It will come back once the current very low natural gas prices go away "

I have serious doubts about that. Once gas prices come up, so will interest rates. Then the interest costs on the capital heavy nuclear plant look very bad, even more so since it is all front loaded.

With Wind and PV you can bring sections of projects on line to get cash flow while still building the other sections. You may still need to same total capital in the end, but the cumulative interest payments will be a lot lower in the second case.

Although Fukushima will fade (in multiple senses) I think it likely the Chinese will light one up fairly soon. Too many corners that are too tempting to cut, and if they have a safety culture it is well hidden.

Well credit is a man-made fiction so we can always create more. Just wipe out lots of existing debt with bankruptcy and then conjure up credit from thin air. And governments around the world will back nuclear. They know it works . . . it has significant problems but it does work. When we are desperate, those problems won't look so bad.

Don't worry, there will be another nuclear incident in the next 10 to 15 years, that will drive the final nails in the nuclear coffin.

My bet, it will be rupture of primary coolant/steam pipe. A Class 8 to 9 meltdown..
No way to contain it other than dump water on it..

Another possibility, dam break/over topping floods nuclear power plant(34 NPR's at risk in USA).

A bit of strained logic IMHO: “…if the Obama administration rejects the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, it would send a strong message that the United States is serious about combating climate change.” They seem to be making the assumption that if the cross border section of the p/l isn’t approved the US is signaling it will be reducing oil consumption...in particular from the Canadian oil sands. The reality is that even without that one very short section of the Keystone p/l the US has imported more oil (with much coming from the oil sands) in 2012 than ever before in history.

And going forward more p/l’s and transport infrastructures are being built to increase that amount to higher levels. With such apparent support from folks like this I think one can readily say the current administration has pulled off a great win- win: the US will be importing more and more Canadian oil over time (unless the Chinese slip in and start stealing some of “our oil”) while at the same time many in the word think our govt is doing something to prevent the burning of that oil.

Well played Mr. President, well played.

The purpose of communicating is usually to effect how the listener feels, and often to manipulate how the listener feels. We tend to be more analytical here and expect the conveyance of factual information, but that is less common.

Therefore "sending a strong message that the United States is serious about combating climate change." is the part that is important. Whether it is true doesn't matter.

Perception is reality. The Bush administration told us they created their own reality. Why should Obama be any different? Unfortunately, the planet will continue to warm as it deals in reality.

Rockman, are you officially predicting an Obama block on the KXL? I'm still guessing he approves it, but it would indeed be a great (meaningless) PR trick. It would also keep the greens defanged for a while longer, as it would validate McKibben-Quixote's gestures.

So . . . sounds like a "yes"?

Michael – Instead of a prediction I’ll just lay out the facts as I see them. First, the POTUS has been elected so not much worry about making any of the voting public upset. Second, the review by the feds of the environmental impact of the p/l apparently is indicating: “Hey, no problamo...get after it.” Third,Gasoline prices have run up recently so approving the p/l crossing would make many citizens pleased with the POTUS for his efforts to reduce current fuel prices. Of course the public is completely ignorant of the fact that the delay hasn’t reduced the amount of Canadian oil imported and had nothing to do with the fuel price spike.

So how’s that for not making a prediction? LOL

This is a symbolic fight, not one based on biophysical realities.
Dealing with biophysical realities would take other actions, and reformist politics would not be of a concern.

An opinion and a guess.

Obama may approve Keystone as a small side deal to placate/support/trade for his position on taxation and continued support of entitlements. It also goes well with a deal that restores military spending increases. However, if this sequestration develops maybe the troops will be home by Labour Day? I sure hope so. Keystone has a lot of ramifications beyond the obvious horse to ride or flog.


Paulo – A possibility but it requires the R’s to be ignorant of the fact that approving the crossing won’t have a significant impact on US oil supplies. I would bet the R’s would rather see him stall the approval and then blame him for super high gasoline prices this summer. Given the all time prices for gasoline at this time of the year I would think the odds are good for very, very high prices this summer. I would imagine the POTUS sees that possibility also. Waiting to approve the p/l crossing after that happens would make him look more like a reactionary than a leader. OTOH if he approves it in the next couple of weeks, now that his govt experts have ruled that the p/l won’t do any significant harm, he has little downside IMHO.

That assumes someone (Congress I guess) is willing to do such a deal. I think the R's want him to disapprove the p/l, then if there is an oil price spike, they can tar him with it. I don't think there is much horse trading going on.

Burning Around the Clock: Berlin Airport Can't Turn Lights Off

It has been a bleak winter in Berlin -- the bleakest ever, in fact, at least in the 62 years since records on sunshine duration began in 1951. On average, measuring stations in Germany recorded a mere 96 hours of sunshine in the three-month period between the beginning of December and the end of February.

There is, however, at least one place in Germany where brightness is the rule rather than the exception. At the problem-plagued construction site that will eventually become the Berlin International Airport, the terminal lights burn around the clock. And the reason is not to prevent workers there from succumbing to the winter blues. Rather, technical difficulties at the ultra-modern airport -- which will ultimately cost close to €4.3 billion -- mean that the lights can't be switched off.

"It has to do with the fact that we haven't progressed far enough with our lighting system that we can control it," Horst Amann, airport technical director, said on Wednesday during a rare public appearance.

Surprising coming from Germany. Perhaps another bit of evidence that our technology has run away from our ability to control it.

“Which leads one to wonder, first, weren't we supposed to be running out of oil. And, then, why does it cost so much more, every day, to fill up your tank?” As usual they shoot themselves in the foot right off: PO has never been about “running of oil.” But they then offer contradictory evidence to their case. Unless, of course, they pull those evil speculators out of their hip pocket to explain such high oil costs during this time of great abundance.

Which I why I’ll harp on this point one more time: focusing on some PO moment tends to give the cornucopians a counterpoint when they talk about increase oil production. But in doing so they have to either ignore the cost of this new oil or blame speculators. Back to the POD: the Peak Oil Dynamic. Which is to say the exact date of PO, whether it has occurred yet or not, isn’t important. What is critically important is the relationship between current oil production and prices. Especially the higher prices that are hurting economies around the world. That dynamic also includes the political instability in oil producing region. It also includes the rapid increase in oil consumption by some countries such as China. It also includes the rapid increase in domestic consumption of oil in the exporting countries. The list goes on and is familiar to most here. All of those pieces to the puzzle sum up to the POD. That’s the issue folks should be focused on IMHO. Not what the date of PO might be. Or if the new oil plays will produce X bbls of oil for the next Y years. Or if the A formation will recover B bbls of oil over the next C decades.

The POD will determine which economies can maintain themselves. It will determine the lifestyles of billions of people around the globe including many accustomed to affording the energy they’ve always had. It may even determine how many shiny boxes pass through Dover as the US exports more democracy to oil producing regions. It may determine just how much (or more likely IMHO, how little) the govts of the world respond to AGW induced climate change. The POD encompasses more than oil production: it impacts the push to burn/export more coal. It impacts the ability to afford alt development. It also impacts which political leaders will be exerting control over future policies.

Way more complicated than discussing how much oil we have left in the ground. Unfortunately, possibly too complicated most to engage.


Well said IMO.

... focusing on some PO moment tends to give the cornucopians a counterpoint when they talk about increase oil production.

Hey there, Rocky! We were probably drafting at the same time, but I posted first (1:10pm vs 1:17pm).

What do they say about great minds? And who are "They?"


Why the US Still Doesn't Have a Single Offshore Wind Turbine

America's small yet dedicated entrepreneurial corps of offshore developers are still chasing "wet steel," as they call it, while their European and Asian colleagues forge ahead on making offshore wind a basic component of their energy plans. So what's the holdup? Here's a look at the top reasons that offshore wind remains elusive in the US: ...

... there's another powerful factor at play here: NIMBYism. No one could put it better than fossil fuel magnate Bill Koch, owner of a $20 million Cape Cod beachfront estate and donor of $1.5 million to ANS: "I don't want this in my backyard. Why would you want to sail in a forest of windmills?"

Why indeed.

Bill Koch, who just spent millions of dollars to legalize outright poisoning of wells in Wisconsin, cares that much about his own backyard.

If ever a man begged to be guillotined, it's him.

BigDog Four-Legged Robot Now Sports Throwing Arm w/Videos

A four-legged robot called BigDog now sports an arm powerful enough to lift and throw concrete blocks [50 ft].

BigDog is one of a range of robots developed by Boston Dynamics, among them the Cheetah - a headless machine that is able to reach 28.3mph (45.5km/h) on a treadmill, faster than the fastest human.

US Farmers Using Robots Instead Of Migrants to Milk Cows w/Video

Milking cows is a messy, menial and low-paid job that few US workers want to do.

For years, dairy farmers - like much of America's agricultural sector - have therefore relied on immigrants. But visas are often only available for migrants doing seasonal work such as fruit picking. And a crackdown on undocumented workers, which has led to a record number of deportations, has made it even harder for farmers to find the staff they need.

Instead, many have decided to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in robots to milk their herd. As one dairy farmer put it: "I have yet to have the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) question the Green Card of a robot."

elsewhere ... Eurozone unemployment hits 11.9%

Hugo Chavez 'battling for his life', says VP Maduro

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is "battling for his health, for his life", his deputy Nicolas Maduro says. "Our commander is sick because he gave his life for those who don't have anything," he said on Venezuelan TV.

The government has previously said Mr Chavez, now back in Venezuela, is running the country from the hospital.

Mr Maduro, who has been named by President Chavez as his preferred successor, said the treatment was in a "complex and difficult stage".

Regarding the US's Poster Child for catabolic collapse:

Michigan to take over Detroit city government

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced Friday that the state will take over the operations of Detroit's city government due to its long-standing financial problems.

The takeover is short of a formal bankruptcy, but it will include appointing an emergency manager who would have many of the same powers as a bankruptcy judge. It could mean throwing out contracts with public employee unions and vendors that the city can't afford, and could lead to further cutbacks in already depleted city services.

Detroit has 10 days to appeal Snyder's decision that there is a financial emergency in the city....

..."One of the things that needs to happen is all creditors need to be called to table, asking something from everyone," Snyder said when asked if Detroit would get relief from the debt it owes those who own the city bonds. He said he hoped different payment schedules could be worked out for those who are owed money.

We have our own little Greece right here in the US. Coming soon to a town near you?

Here's another example that supports Naomi Klein's hypothesis in The Shock Doctrine. An example of the oligarchy 'taking' what was built by the public to serve the public.

Similar to her example of the seizure of public schools in New Orleans after Katrina. 214 public schools before - 4 public schools after - the rest are now private/for-profit (restricted attendance) charter schools. ...

Report examines effects of closing low-performing Chicago schools

The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research has released a full version of the report, "Turning around Low-Performing Schools in Chicago," which shows that in about three-fourths of the cases, shuttered buildings were used for new schools within a few years of the closing. Most of those new schools were designated as magnet or charter schools.

The report also shows that in the majority of cases, the schools that opened in the buildings of schools closed for underutilization served students from neighborhoods that were farther away from the school and less disadvantaged than the neighborhoods that students came from before clo­sure. The student body of the newly opened schools generally contained fewer students requiring special education services or who were old for their grade, and students tended to have higher prior achievement levels.

Among schools closed and then reopened as new schools, the teaching staff tended to be younger, less experienced, was more likely to have provisional certification and more likely to be white.

Good timing on Steve's part:
The End of Technocracy and Zero Government

Go Steve!

The citizens didn’t pave the city over with parking lots or built thousands of monstrously ugly concrete box- buildings. Detroiters are being shot by criminals, being driven out by block busting and urban decay, losing what little property wealth they had, having already lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Detroiters have been abandoned by their country not the other way around.

The US spends hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan, why not Detroit?

Maybe Afghanistan isn't hopelessly lead poisoned :-0

Go to Google maps and have a look at the aerial photos of Detroit between Conner Street and Alter Road, north of East Jefferson. Note the fraction of building lots with houses on them in Detroit versus east of Alter Road in Grosse Pointe. Government matters.

No, they got DU instead.

"No, they got DU instead."

Ducks Unlimited?

Depleted Uranium in the form of spent U.S. munitions..... The gift that keeps on giving.

WIND: IOW some hot air from the US govt. From up top: “The U.S. Department of The Interior today announced the nation’s first-ever lease sales for renewable energy development in two wind energy areas (WEAs) on the Outer Continental Shelf, proposing nearly 278,000 acres of federal waters offshore Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Virginia.”

Liar, liar, pants of fire! Or at least: Deceptor, deceptor, pants on fire!

In 2007:”In granting the first United States offshore lease for wind generation, Mr. Jerry Patterson, Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office said, "Today is a new era for energy development in America, and what better place to begin than in Texas. Texas knows energy and we're ready to lead the nation towards establishing clean, reliable coastal wind power as an energy reality. The multi-million dollar lease, signed with Galveston-Offshore Wind allowed work to begin on construction of two meteorological towers. The towers will gather pertinent data for permanent placement of wind turbines on the 11,355 acre lease approximately 7 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas. "Coastal wind power has come to the united States," Patterson said, "and found a home in Texas."

From: http://www.energy.sc.gov/UserFiles/File/TheTexasExperiencewithOffshoreWi...

"Due to its vast size and diverse climate, Texas ranks first in the nation for its renewable energy resources...The state's oldest agency has already racked up a series of firsts for the nation, including the first and largest lease for offshore wind power development. The Land Office - always eager to earn money for the state's Permanent School Fund - even held the nation's first competitive bidding process for offshore wind power leases.

Developers partnering with the Land Office find the state easy to do business in. Texas' unique coastal sovereignty - out to 10.3 miles - means less federal entanglement. Developers don't have to worry about building miles and miles of power lines to deliver electricity to nearby urban areas. The state's deregulated energy market and the economic dynamism of its coast also favor wind power entrepreneurs. And the peak wind power on the gulf is during the day, when electricity fetches the highest price...For its part, the Land Office identifies state lands with the best potential for offshore wind power development. Currently, there are seven offshore leases in various stages of development and production.”

BTW Texas is the largest producer of all combined alternative energy (biofuels, wind, solar) in the US. Odd, eh: Texas, the land of King Oil, is doing more to get the country off of fossil fuels than any other state. And still continuing to provide those FF’s while the transition is (hopefully) on going.

Just don’t make sense, do it?

Well . . . they did say the first ones on the 'Outer Continental Shelf' which probably excludes that Texas one. But don't worry. Everyone knows that Texas is a huge wind-producer. T. Boone Pickens did quite a bit of PR on that.

Spec – That’s why I backed off a tad and called them for being deceptive. The Texas wind leases are on the GOM continental shelf. The shelf runs from the shoreline to about 600’ water depth about 100 miles out. The Texas state waters extend out about 10 miles onto the shelf. Notice that the Texas wind leases are close to the shore compared to what the feds will be offering. That should make the construction and energy transport more expensive and thus less likely to happen very fast. But did you notice the Texas wind farm will be about 7 miles from the shore? Not likely to be very visible from the beach. Texas has awarded offshore leases and have development projects underway. The feds are just talking about plans to offer leases. Let me know when they get close to catching up with us. LOL.

Texas does get some bragging rights. I haven’t heard any other governor jumping up and offering their state waters for wind farms. If you’re curious do a search for south Texas wind farms. There’s a huge collection of them close to Corpus Christie. I suspect one reason they are thinking of offshore wind farms off Galveston is the proximity to Houston and the big residential and commercial demand we have here.

Some folks might think the state wouldn’t be promoting a non fossil fuel energy source. Texas is not just a pro oil business state…it is a pro business state. We’re just as happy to make wind energy as .50 cal Barretts. We’re just as ready to power you or shoot you. Nothing personal…just business. LOL

Renewable Energy: Nanotubes to Channel Osmotic Power
Concentrated at the mouths of rivers, Earth's osmotic energy potential has a theoretical capacity of at least 1 terawatt -- the equivalent of 1,000 nuclear reactors. However, the technologies available for harnessing this energy are relatively inefficient, producing only about 3 watts per square meter of membrane.
Boron nitride nanotubes thus provide an extremely efficient solution for converting the energy of salinity gradients into immediately usable electrical power. Extrapolating these results to a larger scale, a 1-m2 boron nitride nanotube membrane should have a capacity of about 4 kW and be capable of generating up to 30 megawatt-hours (1) per year. This performance is three orders of magnitude greater than that of the prototype osmotic power plants currently in operation.

Just a thought - here we have an article on the power of diluting salt water with fresh water. I think we all know the expense of producing fresh water from salty.

So we may see regions generating power making salt water and others using power to make fresh water. And since it is easier to move elections than water I wonder where the first place will be that uses osmotic power to desalinate?

Brazil Drought Dries Up Milk Production

Dairy farmers struggle as the country's northeast continues to suffer from its worst drought in a half century.

COOAFRA, which was created 15 years ago, has 180 local dairy farmers as members; they're all small-scale ranchers. But in recent months, due to the drought, it's estimated as many as 50 have given up on the cattle business. This is pushing the cooperative to the brink of collapse.

"During a normal year with good rain we worked with 9,000 litres of milk per day," Rommel said. "Today we work with about 4,000 litres per day. And anything below that amount, and our business is not viable anymore and we can't keep the cooperative working."

Sempra Energy in Mexico

Sempra built a billion dollar LNG import terminal in Baja California, Mexico that began operations in 2008. Their claim was the plant would provide NG to the local area, which has no industry, and later to send the gas to the US or power plants along the US/Mexico border region. That's not a bad thing but Mexico does not have the environmental and worker protection laws or regs. that most people would expect from their power providers.
Then there's La Mordida, or "little bite". Bribery. Corruption on a National scale.

In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company’s largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country.
Wal-Mart dispatched investigators to Mexico City, and within days they unearthed evidence of widespread bribery. They found a paper trail of hundreds of suspect payments totaling more than $24 million. They also found documents showing that Wal-Mart de Mexico’s top executives not only knew about the payments, but had taken steps to conceal them from Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. In a confidential report to his superiors, Wal-Mart’s lead investigator, a former F.B.I. special agent, summed up their initial findings this way: “There is reasonable suspicion to believe that Mexican and USA laws have been violated.”


Did Sempra Energy pass bribes to officials in Mexico to grease construction projects there? Then, when a whistle-blower complaint was filed, did the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation permit Sempra to investigate itself by hiring friendly law firms that — of course — exonerated the company?



-How the USDA plans to plant around climate change
-Australia's record-breaking hottest summer
-Apocalypse? No. But unless we change tack, the planet is running out of time
-Why you should sweat climate change

These pieces seem to be getting like the peak oil bloviations ("peak oil is dead; long live peak oil") ...

I think the main focus may be the:

1)"The sharp drop in Arctic sea ice area has been matched by a harder-to-see, but equally sharp, drop in sea ice thickness. The combined result has been a collapse in total sea ice volume — to one fifth of its level in 1980."

2)"See that 5 degrees Celsius we're projected to hit by 2050? That's 9 degrees Fahrenheit. That means the end of human civilization, and possibly of the human race itself. Within our lifetimes."

3) 2 Degrees of Warming a Recipe for Disaster, NASA Scientist Says

(An Old Catastrophe: Climate Policy). The 2 degree C (3.6 F) is coming up very fast, 3.5 degree C (6.3 F) in 13 years, and 5 degrees C (9 F) in about 37 years.

Do they think noting is going to happen in the intererim?

Look around it already is as we all know.

The acceleration is the key, because as these temperatures accelerate so will the affects they generate.

Always include acceleration in projections. It is not a linear exercise.

What is expecially telling is: "But unless we change tack, the planet is running out of time".

It evinces a mentality detached from the planet ... that is ... the damage is being done to the planet not us.

Notice the difference compared to: "But unless we change tack, civilization is running out of time".

So, Dredd. Where is The Climate Drum blog?

This stuff makes peak oil look like a Sunday school play.



Those are headlines in Leanan's post ... not sure what you meant.

Denial is not imagination, it is a disease, a very serious psychological disease.

I am not competent to cure denial, that is for shrinks.

I do not wish to treat actual suffers with punishment.

Those who created their denial, however, should be prosecuted for fraud, deceit, and deception.

I participate only to point out what is going on and to share it with others as I learn from others.

We are on the same plane that is in trouble.

Sorry if I was vague, Dredd.

I (like others I would guess) came to The Oil Drum whilst searching for information on peak oil. I had already found many sites, and eventually discovered TOD. This I did out of realization that Peak Oil was a serious problem, inadequately addressed in main stream media, and with few sources easily located. The denizens hereabouts answered my many questions, and the site was direct, and on point. It has evolved since, but remains the best PO site I have reviewed.

Meanwhile, Climate Change has many denial sites, but lacks a singularly impactful blog of the TOD variety. I was agreeing with you, and tongue in cheek asking where I could find "The Climate Drum", since IMO climate change has become a more accute problem than Peak Oil, and with potentially more devastating consequences.



"The Climate Drum" is a good idea.

The more I think about it you are correct, because, there are a lot of nice folk here who are into fossil fuels and that may skewer their participation in a "The Climate Drum."

We need a "The Climate Drum" where we can get as vicious on the denialism and government cluelessness as the astute folk here do on the oil forever cornucopians.

They are called skepticalscience.com or realclimate.com...

Though the latter is clearly the domain of real academic researchers....

And similar to Robert R.s site there is Open Mind by Tamino....

Joe Romm blogs on climate at Thinkprogress:


Best site for the layman.

Actually...RealClimate was the inspiration for at least some of us at TOD.

The 2 degree C (3.6 F) is coming up very fast, 3.5 degree C (6.3 F) in 13 years, and 5 degrees C (9 F) in about 37 years.

With only .8C increase in temperature rise since the beginning of the industrial revolution, how do they account for these projected sharp temp. rises in such a short period of time? And don't get me wrong because I understand AGW--I'm not in denial, just trying to understand how the process could speed up so fast.

Perk Earl,

One word: acceleration.

The lack of focus on that has led to a vast increase of phrases on the internet such as "worse than thought", "worse that previously expected", "more than what was projected", and similar phrases.

This is not linear math (1,2,3,4 ...) it is 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 in the same timeframe as 1,2,3,4,5,6 (leading them to go measure expecting 6, but they get 32 instead) when they measure:

The answer is exponentials. Climate change does not follow a linear path (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc…), it follow an exponential path (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc…). Global temperature is increasing exponentially, fueled by humanity’s exponential rise in energy use, population, and economic growth ...

(Digby's Hullabaloo). There is also blowback such as the vast and out of control permafrost melt in the Arctic, Alaska, and Siberia.

And accelerated melt of ice in Greenland and the Arctic Ocean caused when the blue ocean absorbs more heat from the sun, rather than reflecting it back when there was ice instead of water.

It all adds up and up and up.

Sorry to say, there isn't quite as a large difference in albedo between the sea-ice and water in the Arctic Ocean as some claim. First off, sea-ice forms melt ponds on the surface, which reduce the reflection to near that of water. Secondly, the direct beam energy from the Sun strikes the surface at a rather shallow angle, never greater than 23.5 at the North Pole, thus there is a greater reflection compared to that at lower latitudes. The indirect energy striking the liquid surface would tend to be absorbed, however, that energy arrives from scattering in the atmosphere or from secondary reflections due to clouds. The absorption for infrared is roughly the same for ice and water, AIUI...

E. Swanson


Your opinion noted, but here is the serious one:

Arctic sea ice keeps the polar regions cool and helps moderate global climate. Sea ice has a bright surface; 80 percent of the sunlight that strikes it is reflected back into space. As sea ice melts in the summer, it exposes the dark ocean surface. Instead of reflecting 80 percent of the sunlight, the ocean absorbs 90 percent of the sunlight. The oceans heat up, and Arctic temperatures rise further.

(Quick Facts on Arctic Sea Ice, NSIDC).

My statement is not an opinion, it's based on more than 30 years of reading the literature, including writing a paper on the subject in 1992. For example, here's one:

Perovich, D. K. (2005), On the aggregate-scale partitioning of solar radiation in Arctic sea ice during the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) field experiment, J. Geophys. Res., 110, C03002, doi:10.1029/2004JC002512.

And a more recent one:

Donald K. Perovich, Christopher Polashenski, Albedo evolution of seasonal Arctic sea ice, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 39, L08501, 6 PP., 2012 doi:10.1029/2012GL051432

The NSIDC summary description is incorrect over the melt season...

E. Swanson

First off, sea-ice forms melt ponds on the surface, which reduce the reflection to near that of water.
Well there aren't just two states (albedowise) ice and open water. There are many -or perhaps a spectrum. Ice covered by freash dry snow, ice covered by wet snow, ice covered vy wet snow with melt ponds, mostly open water, with some floating ice, open water..... So a simple binary scale, implied by metrics, like ice area or area of extent, are pretty incomplete desciptors.

But we get albedo decreases as we move down that scale, every point on the ice surface will overtime go through several -or all of these states. Longer time in the lower states, means more solar energy absorbed.

enemy of state,

Al Bedo, Al Gore, Al Shazaam, don't matter.

The ocean absorbs 90 percent of sunlight heat, but ice reflects 80 percent of it.

On a 5th grade test I would answer that one source of acceleration is the ocean absorbing what used to be reflected back into space.

As is often the case, one so sure of himself is totally wrong.

What do you have to say about "Sun Glint"?

E. Swanson

Basic physics places some upper and lower bounds on temperature range and rate of change.

5C change in 5-10 years is not a probable outcome no matter how much you place your fingers on the scale.

Life will be hellish soon enough - we don't need to rush it.


Nobody said "5C change in 5-10 years" except you. If you don't believe it don't say it.

I quoted a source commenting on IPCC data which indicated "5 degrees Celsius we're projected to hit by 2050", which is about 37 years as I indicated. Four times longer than your straw man figures.

The linear pabulum crowd has been wrong on everything, because they seem to have formed an inane aversion to acceleration even though it is obvious:

Our state-by-state analysis of warming over the past 100 years shows where it warmed the most and where it warmed the least. We found that no matter how much or how little a given state warmed over that 100-year period, the pace of warming in all regions accelerated dramatically starting in the 1970s, coinciding with the time when the effect of greenhouse gases began to overwhelm the other natural and human influences on climate at the global and continental scales.

(Climate Central, emphasis added). It is not uniform, so averaging happens a lot, and quoting from high and low, depending on one's agenda, could be a source of a lot of cat fights.

I just like to stick to the trends, whether climate data or peak oil data.

Seemingly climate has warmed or cooled as much as 8c in as little as a decade many times in the past. Abrupt climate change has been a regular occurrence in the last 3 million years. As it has happened in the past, we cannot rule it out.

Not to disagree with "acceleration" but you can also look up 'state-machine'.

It looks more and more that the climate system has stable states, (harmonics, if you prefer) and can switch between them quite quickly. As in a couple of decades. That is probably the biggest change since I was in high-school discussing the onset and end of the ice ages and now. And It's something I've noticed keeps coming up since the current spurt of research began around 1995.

For examples, look at the previous interglacial, the Eemian. Temperature rocketed up about 130,000 years ago, (Neanderthals must have been strip mining like maniacs), hung around for awhile, eventually peaking higher than we are now, then did the rock-thing down 6 degrees C right back into another Ice Age.

Then there is the matter of the Younger Dryas, and the 8200 year event to name two that happened after the last Ice Age ended very abruptly, (see also the article above, Study of Ice Age bolsters Carbon and Warming Link,). Google "Sudden climate transitions during the Quaternary" by Jonathan Adams (and others) for more details. And if you keep looking you will find a lot of information.

Whether this will calm you once you realize that climate has shifted before, and life failed to die out, or scare the wits out of you when you realize that the climate today may change a lot faster than even James Hansen thinks is another matter. And when the climate changes states may be unpredictable since it probably involves the deep ocean, about which we know precisely 1) it's cold, 2), it's wet, and 3), it's salty.

Also recommended is a trip to the library for "The Long Summer" by Brian Fagan. Then a beer or equivalent while lying on the couch contemplating that the past strategy of dealing with climate change, migration, really isn't going to work anymore.

Then you can adopt one of several strategies. Huddling in a corner sucking your thumb until the men in white coat come for you. Taking Joe Biden's advice to get a shotgun and a couple boxes of ammunition to add to the stuff on the FEMA website. John Wesley Rawles advice in regard to full on survivalist mode. Hoping the kids can figure it out. Or just have another beer. And there are other options. You'll have to pick your own.

The only advice I would offer is move uphill if you are less then 25 feet about sea level sooner rather then later. The grandkids should plan to be 50 feet above current sea level by about 2100. If you or they are living on a boat this would not apply, of course.

Just because it looked intriguing, figured I'd just paste the direct link:

Sudden Climate Transitions During the Quaternary

Don't expect any easy reading though!

I guess one of the things that keeps bothering me, but which I haven't been able to research much, is the idea of the rate at which we are releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. I read Peter Ward's Under a Green Sky a while back, and found it to be a bit unnerving, to say the least.

Just in very general terms, if CO2 and other GHGs are the Earth's thermostat, if you will, and at least two of the really nasty extinctions (Permian and K/T) seem to have at least some link to the volcanic vents most commonly referred to as traps (odd term), and those vents (Siberian for the former, Deccan for the latter) took thousands and thousands of years to pump the level of C02 that became toxic, what is the rate at which we're throwing these gases up going to do?

I haven't looked at the Quaternary paper yet. Mebbe I'll find something in there. Anyone else's thoughts?

"Trap" is from the Swedish for "step", and is derived from the step-like nature of the terrain.

Perk Earl,

I googled "acceleration of global warming" and came up with thousands of reputable hits from 2000 til now.

One interesting thing is that the older articles also have the statements "worse than expected" and the like, but they have figures that have proven to be underestimates.

Those understimates continue in those works which ignore the phenomeno of acceleration.

I know that scientists tend to underestimate because of all the shills out there yelling "HYPE HYPE HYPE" which is more dangerous than inflationary type hype.

An underestimate is also hype but it is more dangerous because it lulls people to zzzzzzzzz sleep, while accurate or somewhat overstated estimates tend to WAKE UP people.

The better process is probably to emphasize the TREND and that it has the nature of acceleration.

EDIT: What ROCKMAN said today about exact numbers of peak oil (exact dates, etc.) is instructive here too.

Exact amounts are not as important as grasping the trends which have the nature of acceleration rather than linear.

Acceleration is not the same as exponential acceleration.

Neither is club soda, but I don't care about that.

Like ROCKMAN said about peak oil minutia, not seeing the forest for the trees is problematic.

Thing is, we are at 0.8C warming already.

There is a time lag in the CO2 we have already put into the atmosphere taking decades to reach 'greenhouse' type altitudes, meaning that further temp rises are built in.

We have a 1.5C limit number for permafrost melting, which dumps more methane and CO2 into the atmosphere and creates runaway. That's in one region, it may be different in others.

We also know that arctic latitudes are warming faster than the global number, and are already about 2C above pre-industrial levels.

Therefore even if we stopped all FF burning today, we would be running things close at the very best, probably already over. But we won't, we will keep burning FF. Even if there were complete unanimity tomorrow in the need to aggressively cut CO2 release, we know that it would take decades for transition that didn't include societal collapse.

Therefore, I think I have to conclude that in all likelihood, we are already over the tipping point - and we have a system that runs away - all we can really do at the moment is determine how fast that happens.

The only exception to that is active geoengineering efforts which could reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations directly; or approaches which could actively control the global temp. That's a whole other can of worms.

To my knowledge, the projection is actually 6 degrees C by 2100:


Not that the 2100 date is that much better.

For everyones interest and to help with the debate about what the Federal Government knows about
"peak oil" season 6 episode 5 of the TV series "The West Wing" was titled "The Hubbert Peak".

This episode was broadcast in 1999.

Go figure!!!!!

Minor correction it was first broadcast: November 17, 2004

Only thing I will mention, it proves TV writers are aware of PO, what Washington and the White House know or believes is still questionable. I did "learn" from that episode in a 4X4 SUV vs. Prius crash, the Prius loses.

The episode wasn't exactly a game-changer.

Episode Summary

Hours before the CAFE standards amendment is defeated, Josh succumbs to the lure of test driving a monster SUV while shopping for a Prius and gets into a fender-bender that proves embarrassing to the administration, so he's saddled with heading up a task force on alternative energy sources; after hosting a surprise graduation party for Charlie, Zoey agrees to his taking her out to a thank-you dinner; Annabeth educates Toby on the art of "charm and disarm" in handling the press; Charlie is offered an attractive way out of his employment dilemma; Kate extents a hand of friendship and support to Donna; C.J. gets some crucial insight from Leo on keeping Jed healthy; Margaret's plan to redecorate Leo's former office meets with resistance from her new boss.

West Wing = one of the all time greatest pieces of TV ever.

Love it. Looking in from Blighty at how gridlocked and moronic American parliamentarians are is priceless. Am just waiting for O'Bama to morph into a steely-determined Josiah Bartlett, take all the naughty Republicans over his knee and give them a stern spanking on CSPAN.

The weird paradox looking in from outside is that on the world stage the POTUS is still revered as omnipotent as far as international affairs are concerned but a completely powerless coward when dealing with internal affairs.

Sorry, don't mean to do your great country down. Love the US and always will but the Loony Tunes way you guys do politics is a joke. How does anything meaningful ever get done when you have such a tight 'triple lock'? In Britain if you want to pass a law a bill is entered in the commons and passed by the majority government, the Lords debate it (with most falling asleep in the chamber and drooling down their chins) to make sure Hitler hasn't become PM intent on doing some real mischief and then the Queen signs it. Done. Every now and again the Lords get uppity and tell the commons to reconsider the bill. So the commons tell the Lords to stuff off or we'll cut their heads off and it gets done. It really is that simple. If the government of the day wants something done, it does it. End of story.

The United States hasn't made serious political decisions ever since the establishment of the petrodollar made the fiat reserve currency untouchable and accepted everywhere. This allowed us to increase debt without consequences.

But times are changing. Things only get done in the United States if there is a crisis, and we are very close to an ongoing crisis.

State Dept. finds few problems with Keystone XL

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The State Department has released its environmental assessment of TransCanada's Keystone XL oil pipeline project, that would allow oil taken from Canadian tar sands to be sent via pipe to Gulf Coast refineries...

The government found that in Canada, the project would not likely result in "significant adverse" environmental effects. The State Department will give 45 days for people to comment, and the White House from there can approve or reject it.

E. Swanson

Why Americans are the Weirdest People in the World

Economists and psychologists, for their part, did an end run around the issue with the convenient assumption that their job was to study the human mind stripped of culture. The human brain is genetically comparable around the globe, it was agreed, so human hardwiring for much behavior, perception, and cognition should be similarly universal. No need, in that case, to look beyond the convenient population of undergraduates for test subjects. A 2008 survey of the top six psychology journals dramatically shows how common that assumption was: more than 96 percent of the subjects tested in psychological studies from 2003 to 2007 were Westerners—with nearly 70 percent from the United States alone. Put another way: 96 percent of human subjects in these studies came from countries that represent only 12 percent of the world’s population.

Henrich’s work with the ultimatum game was an example of a small but growing countertrend in the social sciences, one in which researchers look straight at the question of how deeply culture shapes human cognition. His new colleagues in the psychology department, Heine and Norenzayan, were also part of this trend. Heine focused on the different ways people in Western and Eastern cultures perceived the world, reasoned, and understood themselves in relationship to others. Norenzayan’s research focused on the ways religious belief influenced bonding and behavior. The three began to compile examples of cross-cultural research that, like Henrich’s work with the Machiguenga, challenged long-held assumptions of human psychological universality.

Catchy headline, don't let that fool ya. Great research.

As Heine, Norenzayan, and Henrich furthered their search, they began to find research suggesting wide cultural differences almost everywhere they looked: in spatial reasoning, the way we infer the motivations of others, categorization, moral reasoning, the boundaries between the self and others, and other arenas. These differences, they believed, were not genetic. The distinct ways Americans and Machiguengans played the ultimatum game, for instance, wasn’t because they had differently evolved brains. Rather, Americans, without fully realizing it, were manifesting a psychological tendency shared with people in other industrialized countries that had been refined and handed down through thousands of generations in ever more complex market economies. When people are constantly doing business with strangers, it helps when they have the desire to go out of their way (with a lawsuit, a call to the Better Business Bureau, or a bad Yelp review) when they feel cheated. Because Machiguengan culture had a different history, their gut feeling about what was fair was distinctly their own. In the small-scale societies with a strong culture of gift-giving, yet another conception of fairness prevailed. There, generous financial offers were turned down because people’s minds had been shaped by a cultural norm that taught them that the acceptance of generous gifts brought burdensome obligations. Our economies hadn’t been shaped by our sense of fairness; it was the other way around.

My opinion is that the internet has broadened the way Americans think, even as the powers that be in the country continue to clamp down in an attempt to continue business as usual.

It is a great disconnect and leading to social and generational tension that may even be greater than the 60s, even though it's happening more quietly.

People may be slow but they are beginning to put together the pieces. The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, for example, have much more in common than they think.

I remember reading an anecdotal account somewhere about an Occupy protest down south (maybe Memphis ?) where a counter-protest was organized by the Tea Party... after a few hours in close quarters protest & counter-protest some of the participants from each side must have gotten a bit bored with the whole thing and just started chatting with each other. Apparently they were very close in their opinions as to what the problems with the country were but each had bought into the hype put forth by the media rather than what the actual participants thought.

In my opinion this is one of the reasons why the Koch Brother types and astroturfers went so immediately after the Tea Party to "make it their own"... They could not allow the realization that the movements had similar foundations to result in a unified front questioning everything they were about - so they had to ratchet up the divide and conquer mentality and increase the propoganda aimed at making you pick yer side: "are you a real American patriot or one of them hippie libruls ?"

In my opinion this is one of the reasons why the Koch Brother types and astroturfers went so immediately after the Tea Party to "make it their own"


Is the Tea Party the grassroots "patriot" group they like to pretend to be? Not so much. in 2002, what is now the Tea Party got started with the Koch brothers with a very big check from the tobacco industry. Who are the suckers being taken advantage of? Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

They didn't just "make it their own" they MADE IT.

Got it - thanks ! I've heard various accounts of the origin of the movement and that in its infancy it was an "organic" movement - but the potential and problems associated with it were quickly realized and it was subjugated by the likes of the Kochs et al.


Fun, that we both posted links to the Pacific Standard Magazine article -- me, at 1:20am, you above at 11:36pm -- with different excerpts. For the benefit of readers here, WEIRD is an acronym -- Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic, which much of the world isn't.

Something for the DrumBeat I came across. It is a World Bank study on connecting the Caribbean islands to the North American grid. I did not read it completely through. There is an interesting section on HVDC transmission. Thought it would be of interest to this group.

Jeff Barton


Below a conference given by David Mackay("Sustainable Energy - without the hot air") in Paris in December 2012 :


(introduction in French but the conference in English)

Montana's Glacier National Park, a glorious site that draws tourists from around the world, will likely lose its glaciers.

I think this observation is a bit behind the times. We drove the Going to the Sun Highway in September, and while it was stunningly scenic, there were certainly no glaciers visible.

well, you could always visit the other "Glacier National Park" in British Columbia.

MOAR on EV - PV and EV's in general
I've been playing with looking at the numbers a slightly different way and introduce...

EV GGEU - "Gallon of Gas Equivalent Utility"...take the EV and according to the size and performance get an estimate of what fuel economy it would likely get in gasoline-only form and multiply by it's watt-hours per mile.

The Tesla Model S, based on range and battery size, gets 250 Wh/mi. It has lately been compared against the 2013 BMW M5 in size, performance, and luxury. The M5 gets 15 city/22hwy for a combined 17mpg (EPA estimates). This yields a gallon-gas equivalent utility of 250wh/mi * 17 = 4,250 watt-hours.

What this represents is that for 4,250 watt-hours of electricity you can get the same utility out of the Model S as you would a gallon of gasoline in a BMW M5.

The Nissan Leaf, based on averages posted on various blogs gets around 270 Wh/mi. It looks to be similar to the Honda Fit in my eye which gets 28cty/35hwy for a combined 31mpg (EPA). Lets be generous for the sake of throwing in a "worst case" calculation and say they can make something like that get 40 mpg. This would yield a GGEU of 270Wh/mi * 40 = 10,800Wh.

So for 10,800 watt-hours you can get the same utility in a Leaf as you would out of a gallon of gas in a Fit-like car getting 40mpg.

The GGEU comparison is monumentally worse between the Leaf-Fit than the Model S-M5. Because of the difference between ICE and electric propulsion, the electric motor doesn't take such a huge efficiency hit just simply carrying that potential power (but you do take the hit when you use it). So the baseline frugality of the Fit makes the number look a lot worse in comparison.

The PV connection:
A watt of installed PV in an area with a 4.5 hour/day insolation will gather 1W*4.5hr/day*365days/yr = 1,643 watt-hours of electricity in a year. (yes Wh/yr is bastardized but...)

For the Tesla this results in getting a GGEU from each watt of PV every 4,250Wh/1,643Wh/yr = 2.59 years. For the Leaf the GGEU/watt is every 10,800Wh/1,643Wh/yr = 6.57 years.

So with the Tesla, one watt of PV will generate a gallon's worth of use (vs. M5) every 2.59 years. If your installation rate for the PV is $2/watt and your array only lasted 2.59 years you would have the equivalent utility of $2.00/gallon gasoline. If the array can be expected to last 25 years, that is roughly 9 times the 2.59 years...so $2.00/gallon/9 = $0.23 The equivalent of 23 cent per gallon gasoline.

With the Leaf GGEU at 6.57 years, an array at $2/watt and array lifespan of 25 years the equivalent is $2/3.8 = $0.53 per gallon.

[edit to add]
The Rav4 was produced in both ICE and EV form so it's directly (enough) equivalent to itself.
2002 Rav4 ICE – 22cty/28hwy with user-reported 30mpg with manual version.
2002 Rav4 EV – 270wh/mi city and 340 wh/mi hwy

Worst case using 30mpg and 340wh/mi – 10,200 watt-hour GGEU

Rav4 ICE vs EV works out the same as the Leaf.

This may have been mentioned somewhere, but someone from Lockheed Martin says they will have Nuclear Fusion in Five Years.

Aren't these the same folks who are building the much delayed, over-budget F35 fighter plane?

Yes, this was discussed previously on TOD, but I think it is worthy of keeping tabs on.

To speed up this timetable Skunk Works is proposing a scaled down fusion reactor. “What if… you were able to generate fusion in a compact form-factor? Something that would generate 100 MW of power. Enough power for a small city of 50-100 thousand people, in something that would fit on the back of a truck.”

While technical details in Chase’s talk were sparse (it is a black ops division) he did say that back at Skunk Works they have built a compact experimental apparatus and are already seeing good results.

If the project is successful it would mean that portable, scalable and inexpensive energy might be available to the entire planet sooner than we expect.

The PowerPoint slide above this text at the site you linked shows a cartoon depicting the notional 100 MW fusion reactor module sitting in a lowboy trailer, with words below stating that it could have a development timeline of 2025 vice 2050 for the ITER/Tokamak approach.

Could be a load of hot air...perhaps it is a case of the 'fusion indefinitely/continually receding time horizon', with one horizon receding from 2025 and the other from 2050...forever.

...or LM could be on to something...but that is not how I would bet my money today.

Edit: jstewart...I bow to you in honor of your comment! Best quip I've seen in a while...

But will they have a positive return of energy from it?

Lockheed Martin have a chap called Thomas McGuire running the science on this project, his doctoral thesis is well worth a read http://ssl.mit.edu/publications/theses/PhD-2007-McGuireThomas.pdf

Maybe Lockheed can kill two birds with one stone with this one, maybe also by 2050 we can source our hydrocarbons on Titan :)