Drumbeat: March 11, 2013

Emerging Market Demand to Support Oil Prices, Goldman Sachs Says

Oil prices will be supported by emerging market demand, a lack of spare supply and improvements in transporting U.S. output, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said.

Relatively low oil inventories around the world, limited spare capacity in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and continued demand growth among emerging-market economies will sustain the market’s current “backwardation,” where prices for immediate and near-term delivery exceed those for later, Goldman Sachs said in a report today.

Oil Drops for Second Day as China Industrial Output Slows

Brent crude fell for a second day as industrial production slowed in China, the world’s second- biggest oil consumer, and Saudi Arabia boosted output.

Futures slid as much as 0.9 percent after gaining 0.4 percent last week, snapping three weeks of declines. Saudi Arabia’s crude production rose in February from a 20-month low, according to an official with knowledge of the country’s oil policy. China started the year with the weakest industrial output since 2009, government data showed March 9. Iran, which is under Western sanctions because of its nuclear program, said the prospects for resolving the dispute have improved.

Gasoline Price Drops to $3.7394 a Gallon, Lundberg Says

“After nine weeks of prices increasing we have a drop,” Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said yesterday in a phone interview. “We can expect more price cutting in the future, possibly more than a dime.”

“Both refinery margins on gasoline and retailer margins on gasoline appear healthy enough to allow for further price cuts,” she said.

Saudi Arabia Said to Raise February Oil Output From 20-Month Low

Saudi Arabia raised crude production in February to 9.15 million barrels a day, an increase of 100,000 barrels daily from the previous month, an official with knowledge of the country’s oil policy said.

The world’s largest crude exporter supplied 9.16 million barrels a day to the market compared with 9.26 million in January, the Persian Gulf official said, asking not to be identified because the information is confidential. Crude delivered from storage accounted for the 10,000 barrel-a-day excess of supply over production in February, the official said.

Hedge Funds Cut ICE Brent Crude Net-Longs to Lowest in 2013

Hedge funds and other money managers cut bullish bets on Brent crude for the fourth week to the lowest this year, according to data from ICE Futures Europe.

Speculative bets that prices will rise, in futures and options combined, outnumbered long positions by 131,228 lots in the week to March 5, the London-based exchange said today in its weekly Commitment of Traders report. That’s down 18 percent, or 28,588 contracts, from the previous week and is the lowest since Dec. 25.

Spain Shale Gas Reserves Estimated to Equal 39 Years of Demand

Spain, a country that’s yet to produce its first shale gas, probably has enough resources of the fuel to satisfy domestic demand for at least 39 years, according to the nation’s Council of Mining Engineers.

The estimated reserves of natural gas trapped in shale rock are about 50 trillion cubic feet, Fernando Pendas, a water and oil geology professor at University of Oviedo, said today at a briefing in Madrid to present the council’s findings. The estimate could double once exploration studies are finalized and more is discovered through breaking open rock using hydraulic fracturing, knowns as fracking.

Britain has major oil worker under-capacity problem

British oil companies themselves are to increase their workforce by ten percent over the next two years, according to a new report from Ernst & Young, writes Petro.no.

More than 75 percent of the companies surveyed in the "Oil & Gas UK" report say they will be upsizing. 90 percent expect to increase their turnover.

Even in death, Hugo Chavez still casts a long shadow over oil prices

Its oil reserves are bigger than Saudi Arabia's, but output has been declining steadily. Vast oil riches notwithstanding, Venezuela's budget deficit is spiralling out of control because of a bloated bureaucracy and heavy social spending, sapping investment into the energy sector.

PetroChina Looks to Add to $3.7 Billion in Australian Deals

PetroChina Co., the nation’s biggest oil and gas producer, is looking to make more deals in Australia, adding to about $3.7 billion in acquisitions as part of a global drive to feed surging Chinese demand.

Qatar makes first new gas find in over 40 years

Qatar has discovered a small offshore field containing about 2.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the country's first gas find since 1971, its energy minister said on Sunday.

The discovery was made at the 4-North offshore block near Qatar's massive North Field by a consortium which includes Germany's Wintershall and Japan's Mitsui, Qatari energy minister Mohammed Saleh Al Sada told a news conference in Doha.

Japan leads the way in bid for Abu Dhabi's next conventional power plant

A Japanese consortium led by Marubeni submitted the lowest bid for Abu Dhabi's next conventional power plant.

The Japanese power company and its partners Osaka Gas and Kansai Electric were one of six groups that submitted their bids to the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea) for the Al Mirfa gas-fired power plant.

India, Kuwait agree to speed up oil and gas joint ventures

New Delhi (IANS) India and Kuwait agreed Monday to expedite discussions for finalizing joint venture projects both upstream and downstream in the oil and gas sector.

This was resolved at a meeting here between Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily and Kuwait's Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Ak-Jaber Al-Sabah, a petroleum ministry statement said.

Norway Fund Flees Currencies Tainted by Stimulus Addiction

Norway’s $713 billion sovereign wealth fund is turning away from the world’s biggest currencies and their debt-laden governments as policy makers undermine their exchange rates through unprecedented stimulus measures.

Shell in talks to secure crude oil storage in Fujairah

Royal Dutch Shell is in talks to secure as much as 1 million cubic meters of crude oil storage at the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, in what would be the region's first such deal with foreign companies.

Fujairah the focus for oil companies eyeing swift access to Asia

The world's biggest oil companies are setting their sights on crude storage in Fujairah to maintain swift access to Asian markets.

Saudi Aramco, the world's top oil producer, has leased 1 million barrels of petrol storage at the Vopak Horizon terminal, a joint venture between Dubai's Emirates National Oil Company and Vopak of the Netherlands.

Shell wins bulk of Rosneft jumbo Urals tender - trade

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian state oil company Rosneft awarded its semi-annual April-September jumbo crude tender on Monday with most of the volumes secured by Shell , traders said.

They said Shell won all cargoes, totalling up to 7 million tonnes, to be shipped from the Baltic Sea ports of Ust-Luga and Primorsk.

Hungary PM says gas firms' court case win on price cuts "scandalous"

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Energy companies in Hungary have won a court case against the government over state-imposed natural gas price cuts, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told parliament on Monday, calling it a "scandalous" legal decision.

"On behalf of the government I must say that the decision of the court is scandalous," Orban said. He said the government would not accept the decision and would submit a new proposal to parliament for even bigger price cuts.

Iran Allocates $2.7 Billion for Southern Oil Refinery, Mehr Says

Iran has allocated 2.1 billion euros ($2.7 billion) to build an oil refinery in the southern Hormozgan province that will begin operations this year, state- run Mehr news agency reported, citing an energy official.

Analysis: Western states walk diplomatic tight-rope over Kenyatta win

The 51-year-old may owe some of his votes to Kenyans riled by what they saw as "meddling" when Washington, London and others cautioned before the election about the consequences of a win by Kenyatta, the U.S.-educated deputy prime minister.

The West's day-to-day diplomacy will now be a more awkward affair, though it could in part be shaped by pressure from energy companies and other foreign firms determined not to miss opportunities in a region that may be on the verge of a hydrocarbons-fuelled boom.

Kidnapped Foreign Nationals Killed in Nigeria, Diplomats Say

A group of foreign nationals kidnapped by an Islamist group in northern Nigeria last month have been killed, governments in Italy, Greece and the U.K. said.

Three Lebanese, including a woman, were seized along with a Filipino, a Greek, an Italian and a Briton in a Feb. 16 attack on a residential compound of Setraco Nigeria Ltd., a construction company, in Bauchi state, according to the Nigerian authorities. A local security guard was killed in the attack.

More people in Dubai, so more power and water from Dewa

Amid burgeoning demand, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) recorded double-digit increases last year in the amount of power and water it produced.

Brazil Proposes Inflation-Busting Tax Cut On Food Staples

Brazil is to substantially cut taxes on a number of staple foods and toiletries after a government-subsidized reduction in electricity costs failed to rein in inflation.

Anti-nuke protests fill streets around world before 3/11 anniversary

On the eve of the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, protesters were out in full force around the world, driven by the greater awareness of the potential dangers of nuclear energy.

Nuclear chief: U.S. plants safer after Japan crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two years after the nuclear crisis in Japan, the top U.S. regulator says American nuclear power plants are safer than ever, though not trouble-free. A watchdog group calls that assessment overly rosy.

When to Say No

The State Department’s latest environmental assessment of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline makes no recommendation about whether President Obama should approve it. Here is ours. He should say no, and for one overriding reason: A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that — even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem.

Build That Pipeline!

One way to think about the keystone project–the 2,000-mile (3,220 km) pipeline that would bring oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico–is to ask what would happen if it is never built. The U.S. Department of State released an extremely thorough report that tries to answer this question. It concludes, basically, that the oil derived from Canadian tar sands will be developed at about the same pace whether or not there is a pipeline to the U.S. In other words, stopping Keystone might make us feel good, but it wouldn’t really do anything about climate change.

Canada Losing Its Seasons

UXBRIDGE, Canada (IPS) - “Canada is not a country, it’s winter,” Canadians say with pride. But the nation’s long, fearsome winters will live only in memory and song for Canadian children born this decade.

Winters are already significantly warmer and shorter than just 30 years ago. The temperature regimes and plant life of the south have marched more than 700 kilometres northward, new research shows.

The frozen north is leaving and won’t be back for millennia due to heat-trapping carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels, experts say.

Mineral riches uncovered by climate change at stake in Greenland election

COPENHAGEN — Greenland’s underground wealth is at the forefront of the Arctic island’s parliamentary election on Tuesday amid worries over a potential influx of Chinese labor and the environmental consequences of mining.

Russia will soon be switching to grow grapes and soy beans in their land

Bread is king, the proverb goes. Grain has been a key crop on the Russian soil in all historical epochs. However, it is not ruled out that in the future Russia will have to refocus its agriculture and cultivate entirely different crops, such as grapes or soy. The cause is drought that came along with global warming.

Environment specialist lauds Kingdom’s energy efforts

“The Kingdom is on its way to diversify its economy and its energy mix,” said Lindstedt. “This is a big challenge, which cannot be achieved overnight. In Sweden, we raised the price of energy and imposed a high tax on carbon dioxide to encourage a reduced use of energy and help develop the use of sustainable energy. In Saudi Arabia, crude oil is inexpensive, so the pricing instrument wouldn’t work here,” she added.

Billions up for grabs

The Tasmanian Government stands to gain billions of dollars in carbon credits from native forests earmarked for protection under the forest peace deal. The Commonwealth has confirmed forests protected through the peace deal can be credited under the Carbon Farming Initiative. Carbon stored in the trees is valued, and the credits traded on international markets to offset emissions.

Rising sea levels threaten historic Jamestown, marine geologist says island’s future is grim

JAMESTOWN, Va. — Rising sea levels are threatening Jamestown, the site of the first permanent English settlement in North America.

Jamestown Island, where most of Jamestown is located, lies 3 feet or less above the tidal James River. Scientists project that it will be underwater by 2100 but flooding will increase long before then.

Can the world fight climate change and energy poverty at the same time?

The United Nations has set two huge energy-related goals for the coming century. The first is to bring electricity to the 1.3 billion people who still don’t have it. The second is to curtail fossil fuel use and keep global warming below 2°C.

Those are daunting goals. They’re also in somewhat awkward tension with each other. The first requires increasing the amount of energy the world uses, including fossil fuels. The second requires harnessing cleaner power sources, using energy more efficiently, and even conserving power. So is it possible to do both at once?

Chief of US Pacific forces calls climate biggest worry

CAMBRIDGE — America’s top military officer in charge of monitoring hostile actions by North Korea, escalating tensions between China and Japan, and a spike in computer attacks traced to China provides an unexpected answer when asked what is the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region: climate change.

Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, in an interview at a Cambridge hotel Friday after he met with scholars at Harvard and Tufts universities, said significant upheaval related to the warming planet “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’

Emerging Market Demand to Support Oil Prices, Goldman Sachs Says

Oil prices will be supported by emerging market demand - means China I guess

a lack of spare supply and improvements in transporting U.S. output - get that pipeline built !

Relatively low oil inventories around the world - because we're awash in oil why store it ?

limited spare capacity in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries - but but wasn't just a moment ago we had lots of spare capacity in OPEC

I guess with all that spin - the truth sometimes slips out !


‘Tempered optimism’ for the oil and gas industry

“We have a strong belief that these shale plays in North America, particularly in the U.S., are going to lift the entire U.S. economy by its bootstraps out of its economic malaise and turn the entire economy around over the next five to seven years,” Mark Papa, CEO of EOG Resources, told the conference.

For industry observers, the exuberance appears justified, at least for the energy companies.

“If you focus on the fortunes of the industry, then the hype is pretty close to reality,” said Michael Levi, an energy fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In five to seven years no less. That's when all this exuberance will come to fruition. And it will be because these shale plays will be, by then, producing so much oil that it will cause the US economy to burst at the seams. David Hughes says the Bakken will peak somewhere between 2015 and 2017.

But this article does get one thing right. From near the end of the article:

“For all of the attention that CERA gets, it really is no different than a bunch of oil and gas executives getting together on the Gulf Coast,” said Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s energy program. “It’s a bubble mentality and that’s where trouble occurs.”

Ron P.

Ron, the other day I surmised that Peak Oil might be signalled by lighter crude in the future, rather than heavier crude, due to the apparent increase in lighter shale oils and in condensates coming from fields like Eagle Ford. But you weren't so sure:

"However to your surmise that as we get closer to peak oil we might see an increase in lighter oil rather than heavier oil. No, that is just flat wrong. We will see, and indeed have already seen, an increase, around the world, in heavier oil production. Only the Eagle Ford is showing an increase in the production of lighter oil. For virtually every where else in the world, except other shale, it is the opposite."

Anyway, I came across the EIA link below which shows that the API of oil going into US refineries (both US produced and imported) actually hit a low of 29.9 in July of 2008, and has been rising (getting lighter) ever since (to 31.92 in Dec.)


Any thoghts?

The Bakken and other tight oil is really quite light. Therefore as the Bakken and Eagle Ford causes an increase in US oil production then inputs into US refineries should get lighter. However the US is not the world. On the whole, world oil production is getting heavier. This article was just posted today.

Peak oil: light sweet crude production has peaked globally

And articles on The Oil Drum proclaimed that Light Sweet Crude peaked before 2005.

The Peak of Light Sweet Crude?

Also, Light Sweet Crude always sells at a premium to Heavy Sour. So it just makes sense that producing nations would produce and sell the most expensive stuff first. The very heavy, hard to produce and nasty stuff like the Canadian tar sands and the Orinoco bitumen just naturally comes last. The tight oil stuff is an anomaly, an exception, not the rule.

Ron P.

Edit: Apologies to Rockman but "Tight Oil" is already in the lexicon. Too late to change it now.

Ok, but of course when Staniford was making that claim in 2005, the API of the oil going into US refineries was also getting heavier and had been getting heavier since the 1980's and now since 2008 has been getting lighter. And Casey also makes the same claim, but gives no ducumention for that claim. Also, Casey's statements have to be a little suspect from this exchange:

"L: Is there really no chance of ever running out? Even the unconventional stuff must be finite…

Doug: No – or rather, it’s an academic point. As a matter of basic science, oil is really a simple chemical. It’s just carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, all of which are common and abundant on our planet. We can make oil in the lab now; and at high-enough prices, it would be economic to make oil products in chemical plants, out of these three basic elements."

In any case, since no one seems able to point to a source for what the API of the world oil production actually has been (and is now), it would appear that any claim about the APIs increasing or decreasing is basically based on assumptions or conjecture, although I agree that it does seem logical to assume that it has been getting heavier--but then there is nothing more dangerous than an assumption.

"We can make oil in the lab now; and at high-enough prices, it would be economic to make oil products in chemical plants, out of these three basic elements."

So we will cook our own oil - input energy to form chemical bonds - then burn it to get that energy back out of it. Brilliant! What are we worried about? We can create our own petroleum perpetual motion machine.../sarc. Guy needs a lesson in basic chemistry/physics/thermodynamics/logic/common sense - take your pick.

Yes he says: It’s just carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, all of which are common and abundant on our planet.

But that is wrong. There is no oxygen in oil, only carbon and hydrogen. He also says: If we’re right about nanotechnology, the cost of synthesizing gasoline and almost any molecules you can think of will drop to trivial levels – with no waste or byproducts.

Yeah, that's the ticket, use a trivial amount of energy to create an enormous amount of energy. Damn, why didn't I think of that.

Ron P.

Di-Lithium cystals powering replicators. Replicators are so cheap you can have one in everyone's quarters. Energy, is never as issue...

You forgot your "/sarc" tag. And forgetting that is dangerous. Some people might actually think you are serious and put you into that group of koo-koo people who believe in free energy.

Ron P.

I personally thought his post was sufficiently and blantantly over the top enough to not warrant a sarc tag. But you never know what people will grab onto.

Ain't no way to get high enough over the top. In my long life I have made many way way overthetop remarks and always find some guy in the back of the room will jump up to claim that I have just ruined whatever credibility I had with such a stupid remark and I should be ashamed of myself and drummed out of the seminar and etc and etc.

My favorite from TOD.- Reason americans are physically weaker than others is on accounta their chain saws weigh less (/sarc)--just to be safe, y'know).

I hear ya, wimbi. Never misunderestimate the obtuseness of the average Merkin...

I just thought... c'mon! Dilithium crystals!? Who would mistake that for a serious comment.

But yes, you and Ron have a point - there are those among us who are just that clueless...

I weep for my nation...


In a Gallup poll released today, Americans chose dilithium crystals as the “most likely” fuel to run future cars and power plants, with 84% of Americans choosing the crystals over other options including nuclear, hydrogen, corn ethanol, shale gas, and photovoltaic solar panels.

Due to the need for natural dilithium crystals for interstellar travel, deposits of this material are, much like real-world equivalents such as oil, a highly contested resource, and as such, dilithium crystals have led to more interstellar conflict than all other reasons combined. Source Wikipedia

Merkins have met the empire, and it is us...

I was never much into the Chemists way of doing thermo, but "Gibb's Free Energy".
And heck, I'm kinda of the view that Dark Energy, is the universes ultimate free lunch.

From a Wikipedia page:

Douglas "Doug" Casey is an American-born libertarian economist and advocate of the free market.

There's no listing as to what he majored in while at Georgetown. His writing(s) appear to be based on the economics of the Austrian School.

Perhaps the title of his latest book describes him best: Totally Incorrect..

E. Swanson

Having spent some time browsing about some of the Austrian economics sites just thought I'd chime in. Never heard of the guy before this. Found this Howard Dean vs Karl Rove vs Doug Casey set of videos over at The Mises Institute, but haven't watched them yet. Based on some of the commentary the Mises folks seem to have a pretty low opinion of Casey, but as I said, I've never heard of him before.

I find a lot of the Austro-libertarian thinking to be interesting, but at the end of the day they just don't seem to spend much time discussing the finite nature of the various resources we all take for granted. And Lew Rockwell, the institute president, frequently sounds like Julian Simon reincarnated. I do find commenters like Tom Woods and Murray Rothbard to have some interesting perspectives on government and economics in general, but the topics of AGW and PO just don't seem to come up much in anything like a reasonable way.

Well, okay, they come up, but in a schizophrenic sort of way. You get the cornucopian view on PO sometimes, but also an occasional comment that if AGW is a true threat it would be tantamount to an aggression and thus subject to some sort of tort or other type of property-defense. Then after something like that you'll get another AGW denial post.

Oh well. Some of the economic and government stuff is pretty well argued, so I still spend some time nosing around there. Wish they'd take a bit more science into account though.

I think they are more into rhetorical argumentation, than testing their theories against realworld observations. That started with Von Mises, his brother who did important early work in mechanics got all the math brains. he hated traditional economics, and wanted economics based on moral principles...

Well, thats what brains do for you - economics should be a science based on observation (sarc on).
Morals; nice idea though, when you see how it has worked out without any.
Traditionally often enough (including Adam Smith) up the proverbial creek.
Try Kumhof et al at IMF research Dept for a short historical intro.
(Scroll down a bit for the historical intro)
EDIT I was mind-boggled.(sarc not on)

Darned, more to read. I've been nibbling at this one lately:

Murray N. Rothbard, History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War II (Free PDF file, 500 pages)

After reading Reinhart and Rogoff (2009), I think I'm beginning to understand how economics really works...

E. Swanson

Thanks for refs.
On the back of Kumhof's references I got a copy of Zarlenga's The Lost Science of Money. Living in UK I was lucky to get a more reasonably priced 2nd hand copy from Oxfam UK charity bookshop, so it was a donation anyway, and that helped! I have managed to chew my way through that (my goodness, the story of US earlier monetary battles, the greenback and other episodes, was revealing). Am still digesting that but keep needing to go back to Kumhof and team. (BTW he is good on Peak Oil and "unequal = indebted".) Once one ditches Adam Smith et al it does mean a certain amount of relearning :-) !
More to read as you say.
Phil H

Yup, always more to read! Never enough time to do it, either!

Interested in your take on Rothbard, Black_Dog. I've read History of Money and Banking twice now. I majored in U.S. History in college but, like most of my classmates, I was focused on politics and warfare (I originally thought I was going to be a lawyer. How I wound up in computer science I'm still not altogether sure. That left turn at Albuquerque, I guess ;) Rothbard was the first book on banking and economics that I actually felt I got something out of. Wish I'd run into him years ago.

Now y'all have me interested in the other authors too, so I'll go take a look. I've read a fair bit of Stiglitz (IMF now), Keynes, Friedman, and Krugman. Lots more to learn, to be sure.

The fact that the Austrian Economics people reject empiricism makes them a joke.

Instead they have this thing called Praxeology which is basically a big word for "We don't really know so we just make stuff up" as far as I can tell.

Without hard science, it is just 'faith-based economics'. And these days, it is more politically-manipulated economics. Some people have a political objective of how they want things to be (people don't want to pay taxes) so they just make stuff up to support it.

Oh, I don't know Spec. Praxeology is just an a priori set of logical deductions based on an action axion that Mises came up with. It's just a philosophy, really.

What I've found appealing about the Austrians in general, and praxeology in particular, is the basic idea that economics presents some peculiar aspects which do not lend themselves well to empirical analysis - namely, that humans routinely engage in activity which is not terribly logical nor terribly reasonable. Purposeful, yes, but not necessarily logical or reasonable. The choices people make are extremely subjective, and as such, do not lend themselves well to a mathematical assessment. A mathematical assessment of a set of data requires a certain set of underlying assumptions about what the data points will do that does not seem to apply too well to us. A ball dropped from a building will fall towards earth. A set of molecules will react in a certain way. Even a group of mice will behave in a particular way under a particular set of conditions.

Humans don't do that. We routinely violate logical assumptions about our behavior. As a result, it's extremely difficult to provide a mathematical model of how we behave, and, as a result, if becomes a very dodgy prospect to try generate statistics based on our assumed behaviors. We bust the models all the time.

So the current set of economists, who generate a complex array of statistical analyses on how our economic behavior can be modeled based on conditions x, y, or z, are routinely baffled when we, or our systems, don't behave that way. It's no real secret though, as to why. Our aggregate economic behavior is mathematically chaotic, so there's only so much prediction one can do with it. The econometrics guys don't wanna hear that, tho, and charts and graphs are reassuring, so we keep going back to them.

I think Mises and Co simply acknowledge the chaos, and don't try to quantify it. They just assess the consequences of the purposeful action, and take their best shot. It's kind of refreshing, really.

Now I think it's also a bit disingenuous to say Austrian economists are completely devoid of the use of numbers. They can add just like everyone else, and many investors who view the world through an Austrian lens (Peter Schiff, as an example) have done quite well. So of course Austrians like, and use math. They like to make money like anyone else.

So, at the end of the day, I think the Austrians are simply acknowledging that economics is not a science. Attempts to set up experiments, and falsify theories, based on a mathematical analysis of how a group of humans will behave in a market don't work overly well. Economics is more art than it is science. That's all the Austrians are ultimately saying.

I've rambled on long enough. I think you get the idea. Doesn't mean you'd agree with it, of course. Just my two bits. Now in terms of some of the logical conclusions the Austrians derive from their assessment of the action axiom, in real world economics, well, that'd be a topic for a whole new set of posts ;)

So basically it is a self-refuting system.

Humans don't do that. We routinely violate logical assumptions about our behavior. As a result, it's extremely difficult to provide a mathematical model of how we behave, and, as a result, if becomes a very dodgy prospect to try generate statistics based on our assumed behaviors. We bust the models all the time.

If that is what they really believe then why should I believe a single word of their theories? They are flat out telling me that they don't know anything. If they just said that, it would be refreshingly honest.

But instead, they spew all sorts of views on this and that. But then then don't have good models to back it up and their own "philosophy" says that it is impossible to make any accurate predictions. They might as well be Astrologers.

The real end goal is politics, not economics.

The real end goal is politics, not economics.

Well, yes, but so is the end goal of any economic system, no? What economic system do you think provides for these accurate predictions you mention? The predictions the Austrians make, one of which is embedded in their concept of the business cycle, seem more policy prescriptions than predictions. Or perhaps policy consequences.

The Austrians don't apply numbers to their predictions. They think that part is rather meaningless. They do provide predictions based on their assessment of the probable outcome of a set of actions - central bank intervention, over extension of credit, interference in the way interest rates are determined in a market setting, etc. The consequence, as they see it, is the business cycle as we know it - basically, boom and bust. So their prediction would be along the lines of if you do this, that will happen.

When the business cycle analysis is placed in the context of their other economic foundations I personally think it makes more sense than the current mainstream thinking, but what the heck do I know? It just seems fairly logical to me, that's all. On the other hand, if I were to believe those who feel the Austrian are full of bunk, i.e., our current economic community, I should certainly feel somewhat cheated. They supposedly had all the reigns in their hands, understood the math and the models, and had permanently moderated the business cycle.

Doesn't seem to have worked out that way. Well, doesn't seem that way to me, anyway. Does it to you? What sort of predictive models do you think the mainstream economists have made recently were on the mark?

Also, Spec, I suspect you're driving at something beyond just the Austrian economic model here, something which, if I'm right, I would agree is not altogether off base. The Austrians are frequently quoted, generally out of context, by a particular group of corporate characters who claim the title of libertarian when they are anything but. Might this be what you are actually driving at, or am I off base?

The goal of economics should be to figure out how to create the most value for the most people. Things like full employment, value creation, etc.

They do provide predictions based on their assessment of the probable outcome of a set of actions - central bank intervention, over extension of credit, interference in the way interest rates are determined in a market setting, etc. The consequence, as they see it, is the business cycle as we know it - basically, boom and bust. So their prediction would be along the lines of if you do this, that will happen.

But since they are telling me that they can't predict at all what people will do and how they will react to things then how can they turn around and say "if you do this, that will happen"? They explicitly told me it can't be done . . . then they claim they can do it.

I fully agree that the rest of the profession of economics is not much better. It is an extremely complex field and you can't run controlled experiments on the global economy. But that said, if you collect a lot of data and do extensive regression analysis we should be able to learn a few things. Individual humans are very difficult to predict but as an aggregate, patterns of behavior are definitely discernible. It is like statistical mechanics . . . we can't predict how each individual molecule will behave. However, we can work out how an overall thermodynamic or chemical reaction will play out.

Economics has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to be viewed as a real science. And dismissing the crackpots that reject empiricism would be a good start. The neoclassical liberal economics people made progress but their models need significant further adjustment. Steve Keen from Australia has pointed out that the models need to deal with banking and debt levels much more. (And as a bonus, he understands that economics fail to deal with things like the 2nd law of thermodynamics and peak oil.)

I am mostly bashing the Austrian Economics school as being non-science. And as non-science without numbers and experiments to settle disputes, I feel it is at risk to (and is) being exploited by people wishing to push a political goal instead of doing actual economic research & problem solving. Instead building theories and testing them (science), they merely come up with desired policies and find the data to support them (propaganda and politics).

I suspect that the economic experiments of a scientific sort have been mostly small scale where it's possible to control as many variables as possible. A local economics professor runs a lab in which he claims to be able to carry out such experiments with students as his test subjects. I wonder whether his results aren't so widely skewed by the testing process that his results lack utility. He's been able to write and publish lots of technical reports and gain research funding, so his experiments may be seen as personally successful.

The only other kinds of experiments have been large economic/political efforts, such as that of the Soviets with their planned economy. That "experiment" has been judged a failure in comparison to the parallel experiment we call Western Capitalism, which produced far more satisfaction in the population, while also giving the US military superiority. But, the long term results of Western Capitalism look rather grim as the health of the larger global life support systems are concerned.

The growth of the capitalistic economy after the Industrial Revolution may be taken as such an experiment. The companion growth of the banking and financial portions of that system are the root cause of the repeated cycles of boom/bust and the Austrian School claim that this is the result of an internal instabilities resulting from fractional reserve banking. This claim can not be tested in an isolated experimental setting, as doing so would require building a alternative economic system which could function without connection to the present capitalistic model as represented in the FIRE sectors.

The only such "experiments" have been the large economic and political efforts seen in the Soviet Union with their planned economy. Their closed society allowed them to operate a command economy, but one which was still not isolated from the Western portion of the world. That "experiment" has been judged a failure in comparison to the parallel experiment we know as Capitalism, which produced far more satisfaction in the population over the short haul, while also giving the US military superiority. But, the long term results of Western Capitalism look rather grim as the health of the larger global life support systems are concerned.

In economic terms, the environment is usually considered to be an externality, that is to say, outside the economic system. Economics is about production and distribution within the framework of human activities, but that also means consumption of resources and the production of waste. As long as the economic accounting ignores this reality by assuming that dumping waste into the environment or destroying the local natural ecosystems while exploiting some resource is OK, our approach to life will be doomed to fail. We all live together on one "spaceship" called Earth and economics won't rank as a science in my mind until this basic fact becomes the foundation of economic theory and practice...

E. Swanson

I can't say that I have a great understanding of economic theory. However, while economists claim that they are doing scientific analysis, the fact that they don't have one universally workable theory gives one pause. These guys are still arguing over the cause(s) of the Great Depression, for Dog's sake!

We still have the boom and bust cycle, of which we have recently experienced a serious down draft. Is it too much to ask that economics as a system of analysis be able to predict such cycles and to provide mechanisms to control or prevent them? Or, is our banking and monetary system beyond control at the macro level, perhaps due to the self interested actions of political and financial actors? Is it that our fractional reserve banking system is the source of the troubles and if so, how can that be fixed? Is leveraged financing a necessary part of all market systems, free or regulated, or is this some massive con game the rich and greedy banksters play on the populace to extract the fruits of their labor?

These ideas have been batted about by economists since Adam Smith and Marx, yet it's still not obvious which is correct. The Soviet Union is no more, yet China's planned economy flourishes. The major Western nations, the US, the EU, Japan, etc, appear as uncertain as ever. All the while, the Earth's ecosystems are being destroyed and the climate is changing. Economics says little about these real problems, so why should one listen to economists when they tell us more growth is their goal? If economics was a science, these impacts would be included and we would all be doing what ever was necessary to right the wrongs seen in the Tragedy of the Commons. That this is not happening is a direct consequence of economic theory, so, from my viewpoint, the theories are wrong because the assumptions upon which they are based are incorrect...

E. Swanson


And the oil that has not peaked is illegal for the largest customer to use: Link

Here is the language:

No Federal agency shall enter into a contract for procurement of an alternative or synthetic fuel, including a fuel produced from nonconventional petroleum sources, for any mobility-related use, other than for research or testing, unless the contract specifies that the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and combustion of the fuel supplied under the contract must, on an ongoing basis, be less than or equal to such emissions from the equivalent conventional fuel produced from conventional petroleum sources.

(42 USC §17142). The "an alternative or synthetic fuel, including a fuel produced from nonconventional petroleum sources" is the language that may implicate tar sands and kerogen from shale plays.

What do you think?

Well according to that article it is illegal only for federal agencies to procure alternative or synthetic fuel. Private companies would be able to do it with impunity. But the law is vague, so vague it is probably ignored anyway. What is the legal definition for "conventional petroleum sources"? I'll bet there isn't one. We would have to know that before we could know it the oil is from unconventional sources.

Ron P.


At the onset, it would not be wise for companies involved to ignore the statute, because doing so could bankrupt some of the little guys who might be goaded into doing so on a dare.

Moving along, you said:

"Well according to that article it is illegal only for federal agencies to procure alternative or synthetic fuel."

Hence the need to define what a "federal agency" is.

In general, for application to most of the product slated to flow through the pipeline, since the military is the biggest federal user, let's ask "is the military a federal agency?"

The answer is yes unless specifically exempted from a statute. See Barcelo v. Brown, 478 F. Supp. 646 (D.P.R. 1979), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 643 F.2d 835 (1st Cir. 1981), rev'd on other grounds sub nom. Weinberger v. Barcelo, 456 U.S. 305 (1982) (Navy bombing); Aluli v. Brown, 437 F. Supp. 602 (D. Haw. 1977), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 602 F.2d 876 (9th Cir. 1979) (Navy bombing). See also Catholic Action of Hawaii/Peace Educ. Proj. v. Brown, 468 F. Supp. 190 (D. Hawaii 1979), rev'd on other grounds, 643 F.2d 569 (9th Cir. 1980), rev'd sub nom. Weinberger v. Catholic Action of Hawaii/Peace Educ. Proj., 454 U.S. 139 (1981) (Navy munitions facility).

The statute does not specifically exempt the military so it should apply to all the federal government agencies, including the military.

You asked the other key question:

What is the legal definition for "conventional petroleum sources"? I'll bet there isn't one. We would have to know that before we could know it the oil is from unconventional sources.

The task of the courts will be to determine what that means.

Statutory construction is a well-known and well-developed exercise, and they can and do read the entrails of legislation to come up with a result.

Most of the time, but not always, the result is reasonable.

In this case it is not that difficult to narrow it down to the gravamen of what was meant by conventional and nonconventinal.

If there is no term of art meaning (in the land of oil patch), since there is no definition I can find in the statutes where it defines the terms, then resort is generally made by federal courts to the congressional intent when there is any ambiguity.

That means looking into the Congressional Record, Federal Register, and the like.

That background reveals that this much is clear:

This little-known law is significant because Congress crafted it, in part, with the explicit intent to block the US from buying Canadian tar sands oil — considered the dirtiest oil on the planet. With President Obama currently debating whether to authorize the construction of the Keystone Pipeline — which will funnel tar sands oil from Alberta into the the US — and more than 1000 activists arrested in front of the White House last month in protest the pipeline, the issue has moved to the front and center of the climate debate in recent weeks.

According to Congressman Henry Waxman, Chair of the House Energy Committee, the US purchase of tar sands oil would clearly violate Section 526. As he wrote in a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee in 2008, the law “applies to fuels derived from unconventional petroleum sources such as tar sands which produce significantly higher greenhouse gas emissions then are produced by comparable fuel from conventional sources.”

(the link I provided and you said you read). Unconventional means dirty oil, specifically tar sands dirty oil, but his use of "such as tar sands" leaves open the kerogen and such.

If in fact this was a statute to prevent all the agencies of the federal government from using dirty oil, then the same may apply to the shale plays.

This would preclude the largest user from it, leaving, as you said, private entities only.

One more point, it only applies to federal agencies "mobility-related use" (vehicles of all types: land, air, sea, and space), that is, fuels that make things move.

Just sayin ...

The US government appears to be ignoring this law, which is probably a good thing because Canada is by far the largest supplier of imported oil, and nowadays MOST Canadian oil production is non-conventional. There is very little "conventional" oil left in Canada. Not only that, but much of the conventional oil is blended with non-conventional oil to make up the standard Canadian benchmark oil, Western Canadian Select (WCS). Producers don't segregate conventional from non-conventional oil when pipelining it to market.

Not only that, but refiners don't distinguish WCS from Arabian Heavy, Mexican Heavy, or Venezuelan Extra-heavy when they run it through the refinery and put it into the product tanks. So enforcing the law would be something of a political nightmare.

Darwinian on March 11, 2013 - 3:13pm
Dredd on March 11, 2013 - 5:20pm
let's ask "is the military a federal agency?" The answer is yes unless specifically exempted from a statute.

Ladies and Gents - we have a subject matter expert here.

What becomes "interesting" from a TOD POV is the later on quoted bit about trying to prevent the purchase of tar sand oil (to abate "dirty" oil) and how the normal TOD position is how fungible oil is along with how you can't tell where the source material came from based on the label at retail.

And I'll kick this back to the SME Dredd:
In Wickard v. Filburn the idea was that trade (or lack thereof) within one State effects interstate trade. If the goal was to stop buying tar sand oil isn't about the only way to do that is to buy nothing at all? Because not buying the oil from one purchaser just means some other party will buy it - perhaps at discount?

No Federal agency shall enter into a contract for procurement of an alternative or synthetic fuel, including a fuel produced from nonconventional petroleum sources, for any mobility-related use, other than for research or testing, unless the contract specifies that the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and combustion of the fuel supplied under the contract must, on an ongoing basis, be less than or equal to such emissions from the equivalent conventional fuel produced from conventional petroleum sources.

I highlighted some key words. Requiring a contract to specify a condition is not the same thing as that condition being obeyed. The word "must" means optional in legalese. "Shall" is the commanding word. This requires the provision to be put into the contract, does not require measurement to determine if the product actually emits less greenhouse gas and contains no punishment for violators. It is weak.

Most of what is being produced from the shale deposits is not crude oil; its condensate!


Here at the Hill's Group we are using Exergy Analysis (also known as Availability Analysis) to calculate the state of the world's crude oil reserves. This has allowed us to determine its depletion state, crude's future pricing, and production levels. It also allows us to evaluate condensate from the point of view of its energy delivery capabilities. A barrel of 60 deg. API condensate can only deliver 69% of the energy that a barrel of 36 deg. light sweet crude can deliver.

Most known retrograde gas-condensate reservoirs are in the range of 5000 to 10000 ft deep,at 3000 psi to 8000 psi and a temperature from 200 F to 400 F.

Chapter #2

Most shale oil reservoirs fit this description, including the Bakken. PVT curves indication that most of the shale production is probably condensate and gas. What appears to be one of the major drivers for this production is the use of the condensates as a diluent for Canadian bitumen. The energy that it can deliver to the end consumer is probably too small (< 20,000 BTU/gal) to be a significant driver for the economy.

Condensates lack the C7+ hydrocarbons (Nonane, Decane, Dodecane) needed to produce distillates like diesel and fuel oil.

Do you have a website for the Hill's Group?

Re: Can the world fight climate change and energy poverty at the same time?

Herein is the basic dilemma facing the modern world. The problem of Climate Change is intimately linked to the problem of energy supply and population growth. As long as population continues to grow and the energy consumption of each individual increases, it will almost impossible to stop climate change. The author notes:

But if we want everyone in the world to have as much access to energy as the average Bulgarian enjoys, then we’ll need twice as much carbon-free power. And so on.

Now, that hardly means it’s impossible for the world to tackle both climate change and energy poverty. But the two goals can be in tension with each other.

It's worth noting that the author doesn't use barrels of oil or tonnes of oil equivalent in his presentation, but good old BTU's (British Thermal Units for those of us who use the metric system), showing a graph in Quads (Quadrillion). Even in the US, which is the last major country to use BTU's, I suspect that most people still don't know what "Quads" refers to.

EDIT: The graph shows that should the entire world consumption rise to the average in the US, the total would be more than 4.5 times the present world rate of energy use...

E. Swanson

The actual UN objectives appear to be more modest than increasing the entire world's energy usage to US or even Bulgarian levels:

Sustainable Energy for All
1. Ensure universal access to modern energy services.
2. Double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency
3. Double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

The first objective envisions providing enough energy for some modest lighting, charging cell phones, and better use of energy for cooking. A large part of the population that do not have much access to energy do not need heated living spaces.

That portion of the world population living in the tropics may not need space heating, but they would benefit from access to clean, hot water. Also, as the climate warms, increasing humidity will likely add greatly to the demand for air conditioning. As the dew point temperatures rise in the tropics, at some point human survival becomes difficult as outdoor physical labor in such conditions becomes impossible. Add to that the continued increase in population and one may expect much greater demand for energy than you suggest.

Then too, there's the claim that it's possible to "double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency", which apparently ignores the fact of the Law of Diminishing Returns. Efficiency as an engineering concept can never exceed 100% and each incremental improvement in efficiency tends to be more difficult and expensive to obtain. All those poor people who lack access to energy because they can't earn enough to pay for the energy and the systems with which it is consumed. If they are to be paid greater real incomes, they must be given employment in the money economy and those jobs usually require energy consumption too. Rather like what's happening in China, where the new industrial workers now have jobs paying less than the old workers in the US as companies take advantage of wage arbitrage to gain greater profits, thus much more energy consumption in China...

E. Swanson

The universal access objective does not include the use of energy for air conditioning or transportation. However, solar charged battery powered LED lights should allow more activities during early morning and late evening hours. Mid-day is best spent in siesta.

Electricity enables children to study after dark. It enables water to be pumped for crops, and foods and medicines to be refrigerated. Modern fuels for cooking and heating relieve women from the time-consuming drudgery and danger of traveling long distances to gather wood.

The objective for energy efficiency is to increase output per unit energy faster than it is increasing now, e.g. if GDP/MJ is currently increasing at 1% / year, increase the rate of improvement to 2% / year.

Adopting cost-effective standards for a wider range of technologies could, by 2030, reduce global projected electricity consumption by buildings and industry by 14%, avoiding roughly 1,300 mid-size power plants.Between 1990 and 2006, increased energy efficiency in the manufacturing sectors of 21 member countries of the International Energy Agency resulted in a 21% reduction of energy use per unit of output.

As has been stated above increasing access to energy assumes there will be an increase in consumption, which means more goods need to be manufactured, to consume the energy. Manufacturing consumes energy, as does the resource extraction necesary for manufacturing. Also with lower net energy, more energy must be consumed just to create energy.


Climate change is going to happen, is happening. The only way to limit it, is to stop extracting fossil fuels, leave them in the ground forever. That wont happen because of who and what we are as humans. Stop living in fantasy land, and look at the real world with open eyes. If anyone wants to stop using fossil fuels, there are billions of people in the developing or undeveloped world who would gladly have the chance to burn some, many of whom claim it as a right, after all us westerners have had our turn, who are we to tell them they can't burn fossil fuels?


Solar panels stop working in this case?

who are we to tell them they can't burn fossil fuels?

I believe "them" have been "told" not to burn FF. Its called 'market prices' and these 'market prices' prevent the purchase of said FF. Rationing by price.

Oh, right, I must have forgotten about "economic efficiency". Of course, that can continue to grow exponentially, just like population and resource consumption. Lets all stand up and cheer, since the economists have told us that we are going to have sustainable economic growth forever! Until all those uncounted "externalities" come due and people start to die off big time. Dust in the wind and pigs in the river...

E. Swanson

> economists have told us that we are going to have sustainable economic growth forever.

This is a caricature. John Stuart Mill and Keynes both wrote about a time when growth would stop and people would be released from 'toil' to spend their time in voluntary social activities.

Growth can't last forever, but fair-minded people would like it to continue for another twenty or thirty years.

Upthread you mentioned that people need access to clean hot water. Indeed they do. And they need access to washing machines: have you ever done the laundry for a family of four by hand? I can say that after the first couple of weeks, the fun wears off. It's time-consuming, boring work that takes people away from more valuable activities like teaching their kids to read and write.

How do you expect the majority of people to get clean hot water and washing machines without having growth continue for another decade or two? Or do you believe that you deserve these things, but others should be denied them?

Don't take this as a personal attack, but as a call to think a little bit more about what you believe.

Please don't take that comment seriously. We know that economics is a serious scientific endeavor, right? My intent was to focus on those so-called economists who lately have taken to pontificating to the media that the world economy is surely on the path toward sustainable growth. Yes, I think that the poorest on the planet would benefit from an increase in the energy available to them. I also think they aren't likely to get it, once Peak Oil becomes apparent. For that matter, many who now enjoy lots of cheap energy may find themselves cut out of the system as well. Whether the crunch comes in 5 years or 50, it doesn't really matter once the decline starts...

E. Swanson

Don't take this as a personal attack, but as a call to think a little bit more about what you believe.

Good point! Question is, are you yourself truly practicing what you are preaching?



A washing machine was made from : Tape, a plastic pipe and a water dispenser. Special soap to be used at low water temperatures was added to the water to clean the clothes properly. Go for a walk and wash your clothes! Or drag it behind a bike:

I wasn´t able to direct link the picture, sorry. You can see it by scrolling down almost to the bottom of the page I linked. Oh yeah, it gets cold there. They´re in Denmark...

BTW, if you really want hot water you can usually have it very cost effectively just about anywhere in the world if you have even a little sunshine and a passive solar hot water heater...

I hand wash my laundry since the laundromat closed down three years ago.

I do it in a large plastic bucket and mostly "let soaking do the washing" as the adverts say, just occasionally pistoning it up and down by hand to get some agitation. I use cold water from the tap with a kettle of boiling water so it's lukewarm.

The big work is wringing it out. (Not too hard or you tear the clothes, as I learned by experience.) I wash once and rinse three times. You have to flop the wet clothes out, fold them roughly, wring them, and back in the bucket or on the line.

Apart from setting and forgetting, the biggest benefit of the washing machine is the spin cycle. The more soapy water you can spin out the less fresh water you need for rinsing, and the quicker it dries.

I wash in the morning, get on the indoor line by noon, and it's dry except for cottons by evening. But that's in a Mediterranean climate.

I also cheat, and do the heavy stuff like jerseys and jackets in my sister's washing machine.

Modern cold water detergents do a good job. I buy the best. For poor people the best detergents are probably too pricey and they use the cheap stuff my laundromat used which left clothes slightly grey. Also, quality fabrics are probably easier to wash and dry than the cheaper stuff.

Yes, solar hot water can be made cheaply when there is good sunlight. To provide it on cloudy days and during winter, it gets more expensive. The other desire is for clean water which may be dirty because the country is overpopulated and has an insufficient water supply. Third-world countries still refuse to accept that if they want a higher standard of living, then they must reduce their populations to within their local carrying capacity.

Travelling through Spain in the '70s I wondered why the rivers always looked grubby, even in the mountains near the source. Then I came upon a mountain village where the women were doing the laundry the old way -- soaping and beating it on the rocks and rinsing it off. No wonder the rivers were basically grey water.

Third-world countries still refuse to accept that if they want a higher standard of living, then they must reduce their populations to within their local carrying capacity.

Yep, whereas First-world countries tend to simply usurp the carrying capacity of the Third-world countries. Which works fine until we end up with insufficient carrying capacity for everyone... So while reducing population should be priority one all over the globe, the typical USian currently would need to reduce their ecological footprint to 1/4 of what their current resource use is to be able be within their local carrying capacity.


Seems the right idea.
But my guess is about 1/10th not 1/4. Last count IIRC the US citizen uses about times 50 the fossil fuel of the average Bangladeshi. So, if I'm right even by my reckoning your grandchilderen should still be able to live in style.

But my guess is about 1/10th not 1/4.

Yeah Phil, I used the 1/4th based on the graphic of how many earths it would take to support everyone on the planet with a US lifestyle, which is a little over 4 earths. I didn´t take into consideration that the US with only 5% of the world´s population is currently using about 25% of all the planet´s resources...

Anyways, the point was, that we Americans are using considerably more than our fair share at the moment and so far we have been lucky that most of the rest of the planet´s inhabitants seem blissfully unaware of this state of affairs.

Good points.
You, and us sub-American Brits are lucky there are so many folk out there who keep smiling in the face of adversity. Some of them seem though to have caught the aspiration bug, which is bad for their health,
but on the other hand perhaps the majority won't be so disappointed when the di-lithium crystals don't show up.
Not sure what kind of thinking is going on behind closed doors in some governments, however. There could be a tipping point sometime?

The USA reducing its consumption does not make an overpopulated country suddenly able to afford to buy things. The USA's population is consuming a little beyond its local carrying capacity. It produces more food than it consumes. Recently it is beginning to construct desalination plants to extend the water supply. It is able to purchase resources around the world because it still has enough domestic resources to pay for them.

The overpopulated third-world country does not have sufficient resources to allow it to pay because it is overpopulated. Consider the example of the washing machine. The quality of the water is poor because too many people are using and polluting it. They wash their cloths by some method that uses half the water of a washing machine and wear their cloths for 7 days before washing them. The goal is for all of these people to have enough money to purchase a washing machine and wash their cloths after wearing them for one day. However, this uses 14 times more water than the old method and the stressed aquifer simply can not supply enough water. Although this county does not have any significant reserves of coal, natural gas, crude oil nor wood and can not afford renewable sources, they magically manage to scrape together enough money to purchase some cheap coal from the USA that they are no longer using because they reduced their consumption of electricity and banned the domestic burning of coal to combat climate change. The plan is to burn the coal to generate electricity to run desalination plants to increase their fresh water supply so everyone can have washing machines and use them like they used to in the good ol' USA.

This plan is destined to fail because you can not increase the standard of living of the poor using expensive water purified by imported energy. The US achieved it for a while because they had a low population, a vast, inexpensive domestic water supply and an abundant collection of cheap auxiliary resources to make it happen or to trade for other necessary resources.

If the people in the overpopulated third-world county would stop acting like mindless yeast and reduce their population to the level where the water supply is ample to allow their forests to recover (sustainable fuel supply) and a shortage of labor which would increase salaries, then everyone who wants can have a washing machine to wash cloths worn for only one day. The success of the third-world county has nothing to do with USA reducing its consumption of resources, and everything to do with the third-world country getting its act together. Such unused resources will not magically belong to the third-world country. The mindset is that of a greedy beggar (socialist, communist) wanting charity. If they have the money, then they can buy what they want, but they have to have something of value to sell to get the money. The country can not get there from here unless it reduces its population. Blaming USA is nothing more than a scapegoat to sooth denial.

If the people in the overpopulated third-world county would stop acting like mindless yeast and reduce their population to the level where the water supply is ample to allow their forests to recover (sustainable fuel supply) and a shortage of labor which would increase salaries, then everyone who wants can have a washing machine to wash cloths worn for only one day. The success of the third-world county has nothing to do with USA reducing its consumption of resources, and everything to do with the third-world country getting its act together.

You seriously believe this?! Houston, we´ve got a problem... and it´s a hell of a lot more serious than we ever imagined! At least let´s be honest and admit that the US model is unsustainable and that 5% of the world´s population using 25% of the world´s resources might make it just a tad more difficult for some of the rest of those so called third-world countries to get their act together.

then everyone who wants can have a washing machine to wash cloths worn for only one day.

Perhaps in some far far away parallel galaxy... In our solar system there are laws of physics, which a lot of the local yeast have yet to grasp.

Written by FMagyar:
... that 5% of the world´s population using 25% of the world´s resources....

That is a common slogan, but what does it really mean? Whose resources are the U.S. consuming?

The U.S. trade deficit of 3.7% of GDP for the year 2011 strongly indicates the U.S. is mostly consuming is own, local resources. When you proclaim the U.S. is consuming 25% of the world's resources, you basically lay claim to global resources that do not belong to you and that you do not have enough assets to buy. You want certain countries to live beyond their local carrying capacities by taking resources from around the world.

If you want to do it, reduce population to a level more like the U.S.'s, 313,847,465 people / 9,161,966 km2 of land = 34.3 people / km2 (CIA World Factbook for 2012). For comparison, Bangladesh has a population density of 1238 people / km2 according to the same source. Possessing vast resources and having a low population density is how the U.S. is able to consume so much temporarily.

The U.S. trade deficit of 3.7% of GDP for the year 2011 strongly indicates the U.S. is mostly consuming is own, local resources.

Yep, I guess that´s why the US is now energy independent and no longer has to import any oil...


For the year, the current account deficit widened to $475 billion, a 1.9 percent increase from 2011. It was the largest annual imbalance since 2008.

You know...the US is currently importing about 8.5MBD...at $100/bbl and 365 days... is at least $310 billion...which accounts for almost that entire deficit.

The USA's population is consuming a little beyond its local carrying capacity. It produces more food than it consumes.


On Nov. 22, it officially dropped. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service estimates released that day, 2005 will be the first year in nearly 50 that America will not turn an agricultural trade surplus.

A trade surplus is a measurement using money. The U.S. imports some expensive food and exports cheap food which skews the balance when measuring with money. From your source:

Ironically, the very thing farmers have been told for years would be their savior - a cheaper dollar - is worsening the ag trade balance. Despite the dollar now falling to new lows against most of the world's major currencies, 2005 ag exports will be $6.3 billion less than in 2004.

According to the graphic, Material Flow in the U.S. Food System in 1995, in U.S. Food System (Center for Sustainable Systems, University of Michigan, October 2012, PDF warning), imports were 41.39 billion pounds and exports were 355.56 billion pounds.

Import Share of Consumption and Export Share of Production, USDA:

In 2009, U.S. food consumption totaled 654 billion pounds
imports accounted for 17 percent (110 billion pounds)
Summary of export shares of the volume (weight) of U.S. agricultural production, Total agriculture for 2009: 19.8%

I did not find the total production for 2009 in the sources, but assuming consumption = production + imports - exports:

C = P + I - .198 P
P = (C - I) / .802 = 678 billion pounds

so exports = 134 billion pounds which is larger than imports by 24 billion pounds. It is closer than it used to be.

Well, there are umpteen million ways to make cheap/nearly free batch solar water heaters. There needn't even be water pressure available - just fill up a black tank/container. Covering it with any type of glazing helps, but probably isn't necessary in most '3rd world' countries. As far as "when there is good sunlight. To provide it on cloudy days and during winter", how many places don't have 'good sunlight' on at least some days? And where, besides N. Korea, are there what we might call '3rd world' countries that have 'winter' that includes months of low-angle sunlight? (I know you're not the one who mentioned the 3rd world - I'm responding to the whole thread here, really) My point is that solar hot water can be had pretty much everywhere really quite cheaply. People simply need to be willing to wash/bathe when it's available. Of course it can be stored, but that does add complexity/cost. I go back to Nate's 'longage of expectations'. Easy livin' grid power & convenience at the flip of a switch is going to go away, either gradually or catastrophically, even for many/most who have grown accustomed to it. This is one reason we are 'powering down' and living in rhythm with natural cycles now, prior to it being foisted upon us. Also allows us to funnel much less of our effort through the MIC/MOMCOM...

Fred - Great link. Love those trashy ideas! I've made a few that would qualify. These are tech's we need!
Aardvark - Thanks for sharing your laundry tech. Always fascinating to learn how other TODers live simply.

I don't want economic growth to end. But end it must, at some point. Well economic growth as we have know it anyhow.

Growth can't last forever, but fair-minded people would like it to continue for another twenty or thirty years.
But what difference will 20 or 30 years make, especially as the world's population is continuing to increase so rapidly? I'm sure the growth will continue at least that long, but will things be hugely different in 20 or 30 or even 50 years time? Every generation wants the growth to continue just a little while longer (until they are dead or retired at least). Every generation fully expects that the growth will continue. At some point though a generation is going to be sorely disappointed. We can hope for the growth to continue, but we must prepare for its end.

If growth continues, the next generation will have far more problems than not having washing machines. Besides, it is not like hot water from solar is new; I was taking showers 40 years ago in Morocco.

I don't know if it comes down to washing machines, but like food, there are a lot of other issues besides growth that results in people not having washing machines

Whether we stop growth now or in the future, there will always be billions of people who will not be sharing in what has traditionally been seen as the American way of life.

And in a few more decades we will have hundreds of millions more people. There really isn't a way to spread wealth throughout the world even if we completely ignore all the ecological impacts of doing so.

Of course it is not fair if Americans do not radically change their way of life, to include not washing their clothes every time after one wearing.

"... Modern fuels for cooking and heating..." are natural gas and electricity produced from coal and natural gas with related transportation powered by crude oil. In other words, unmitigated climate change.

This is a link to people raising money to supply a device which provides those basics you mention - evening light, phone recharge. I've no in depth knowledge of this scheme (and no involvement!), but it sounds practical.


I do not understand why anyone who is interesting in helping Africans would invest in such a scheme. I know that I would not. It looks like it is a way to make money from the poor and to make them dependent upon our technology. From the executive summary:

"Revenue is generated by the purchase of scratch cards by local distributors. These scratch cards allow the end users to activate the solar panels in the unit for a set period of time using a secure text message-based system. This business model benefits from commercial cash flows unlike many other African renewable energy projects which rely on carbon certificate trading and suffer from the associated carbon market risk."

The commercial cash flows are from Africa to investors in the developed world. How is that good?

Maybe if we all tried to follow the example of the most powerful man in the country, The President.

...No, It's not who you're thinking...

New wave of 'superbugs' poses dire threat, says chief medical officer
Warning over rising death toll as antibiotics fail to tackle rising incidence of 'gram negative' bacterial diseases


It does make such a difference to hear a knowledgeable, intelligent person interviewed on an important subject instead of an industry shill. (See video)

So let's see, we just need to find a way to overcome: 1) Superbugs (mutated bacteria that current anti-biotic strains cannot kill), 2) Peak oil and its negative effect on world economy via higher priced oil, and 3) Climate change with dropping Arctic ice volume and associated increases in methane released, and 4) reductions in availability and quality of freshwater and not necessarily in that order.

Yes. Stop the world: I want to get off!

Don't forget the demographic timebomb of the baby boomers retiring, needing their pensions and medical care whilst the working population declines.

Starting in 2011 and for 18 yrs 10k boomers a day turn 65

Stuff the "demographic timebomb". We need to get the population stabilized and then slowly reduced ASAP. I can't fathom this obsession the mainstream media has with "aging population". Its a serious problem, but the problems which would be caused by continued rapid population growth would be far worse.

A much bigger timebomb is when the yeast expands to consume all available nutrients. And, as someone else said, while there may be less workers per elderly, there will be more workers per child if people have smaller families.

I think the stat for US births has fallen to 1.6 and China is 1.4 with their one child policy.Most boomers have more house than they can afford in retirement but then maintenance can be defered for quite a long time.Your house only has to last as long as you live there it's not an investment it's a place to live.If a house was an investment almost every house ever built would be standing and well maintained.

An incomplete list of predicaments. There are outcomes/consequences but not solutions. I'd add sea level rise, over population, arable land loss from desertification, salination, pollution and urban sprawl, fisheries collapse, overpopulation, thats enough for now. Suprisingling everything is pretty normal outside, boring.

"It concludes, basically, that the oil derived from Canadian tar sands will be developed at about the same pace whether or not there is a pipeline to the U.S. In other words, stopping Keystone might make us feel good, but it wouldn’t really do anything about climate change."

Isn't self-justification great?! There is no reason for me to change because none of those others are, so it won't make any difference if just I do. May as well just go on doing what I like. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm doing better than those others, why I'm quite a fine person! La la la...

Unfortunately, whenever I tried this rationalization with my mother she would just respond "If everyone else jumps off the bridge are you going to?"

Curious - I suspect the more appropriate question from mom would be: “If everyone else jumps out of the way of a speeding car are you going to?" IOW as economies and govts get squeezed more and more by PO they'll feel compelled (possibly panicked) to get more oil/NG/coal to the market place. We already see China moving very fast into greater coal consumption. Thanks to imported LNG maybe England can resist, at least for a time, swinging back towards coal. The U.S. currently has abundant and relatively cheap NG. But when it doesn't? It would be nice to see us use NG as a bridge to developing the alts as some like to envision but I see only minor evidence of that happening so far.

It would be nice to see us use NG as a bridge to developing the alts as some like to envision but I see only minor evidence of that happening so far.

Have no fear RM. Compare this Top 10 World's Largest Solar Pv Power Plants, apparently compiled some time in 2011, with this wikipedia page: List of photovoltaic power stations compiled last month. The 2011 list has one 55MW plant in the US at number ten, while the wikipedia list has four US plants of 100MW or larger in the top nine! The 55MW US plant at number ten on the 2011 list has been knocked down to number 32 on the Wikipedia page! US solar PV grew by almost 74% last year, with the installation of a record amount of almost 3.3 GW of PV!

In addition the US wind sector continued it's robust growth, adding slightly more than 13 GW according to this Wikipedia page and IIRC, the production tax credits that were behind this impressive growth have been extended for a little while longer.

The longest journey begins with a single step!

Incidentally, China is also moving very fast into renewables. They have had the most installed wind capacity in the world since 2010 and the third most solar PV as of 2012. Look for their solar PV to surpass Italy in the next couple of years but, It'll take them a little longer to catch up with the German juggernaut.

Alan from the islands

PV grew by almost 74% last year, with the installation of a record amount of almost 3.3 GW of PV!

But, the estimated PV buildout for 2013 is only 3.8GW, i.e. less than a twenty percent increase -nothing like last year 74%. And these figures are roughly half of the German buildout, -and they are a four times smaller economy. We would have to expand roughly eightfold to reach German level of agressiveness.
Also the US wind build will be a small fraction of last years 13GW -most likely well under 5. We really are daudling along.

We really are daudling along.

Not in Iowa, North Dakota, and California you aint! According to this Wikipedia page,

Iowa, North Dakota, and California each generate more than 10 percent of their electricity supply from wind power, solar power, and/or geothermal power.

With the amount of powerful vested interests at work in the US, even this low level of achievement is pretty remarkable. You should also note that solar PV has only just dropped below grid parity in the south west and look what's happening there!

I must be in a "glass half full" mood today ;-)

Alan from the islands

We need PV growth rates of at least 40% per year to get into the big leagues, and we are hoping for 20! Thats what I mean by dauldling along. No too many places are pulling back. We got ALEC trying to overturn renewables mandates, and utilities figuring they already have enough, and nat-gas is cheaper thankyou. In terms of grid penetration we are many years behind, Germany, and the Denmark, and don't even mention Scottland. Our glass isn't half full, there is barely enough liquid to cover the bottom.

I plotted the planned and actual PV solar parks against latitude (where available).

Interesting that the bulk of them are between 30 and 40 deg latitude. They're putting them where the people are, not where the sun is. In fact, a surprising number of them is above 40 deg.

Note also how relatively enormous the planned Westlands Solar Park in California will be.

They're putting them where the people are, not where the sun is.

The cynic in me says they're putting them where the subsidies are.

It appears that the best latitudes for solar systems are those with dry, desert conditions. As you may know, deserts form where the air tends to be sinking, thus the clearest conditions and the greatest energy capture potential. Those tend to be located at specific latitudes where the air which rises in the tropical belts later sinks...

E. Swanson

That makes sense.

What black_dog says is true, and also if you properly tilt the solar panel, the theoretical reduction at 30° compared to 0° is only 10%. See this interesting site

More important than the annual insolation variation is the seasonal variation. The poles recieve half the annual top of atmosphere insolation as the equator, which isn't bad, but the seasonal variation (not accounting for wet/dry seasons) is extreme at high lattitudes, and minimal in the tropics.

I've heard that these measurements have seriously underappreciated the advantages of high elevation; lower temperatures, and more intense sunlight. Generally higher elevations are cloudier (although usually less fog), but some places have high elevation deserts. A good example would the the San Luis valley in southern Colorado, 7000feet but less than eight inches of precipitation per year.

This is embarrassing. I plotted it wrong. I should have used an X-Y plot. The popular latitude band is much narrower than I originally showed, which fits in with what you say.

Because the land mass within 30 degrees of the equator is mostly in Africa and South America, the minimal installations in the region are probably caused by politics and economics.

as economies and govts get squeezed more and more by PO they'll feel compelled (possibly panicked) to get more oil/NG/coal to the market place.

They'll squeeze it for all it's worth with emphasis on panicked.

Where would the UK get the coal?


CT, do you have a reply to the point, as made by the State Department and confirmed by Rockman and by simple facts and logic, that stopping the KXL has nothing to do with meaningful change -- i.e., that it makes very little or no difference in the rate of oil burning and climate change?

If you don't -- and it seems you don't -- then you seem stuck on the wrong homily here. Insisting that blocking KXL is progress doesn't mean it actually is. "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."

It's also not far-fetched to wonder if KXL isn't a tiny AGW plus, as it would replace dozens or hundred of diesel locomotives. What if that's true?

The only possible argument that blocking KXL matters is the notion that doing so will somehow unleash a big and serious movement against AGW. How will that happen? How do you translate symbolic, unprincipled, and non-effectual victories into a major social movement? The KXL-tilters are as silent on that question as they are about the pointlessness of their main effort.

All victories are not created equal. You have to talk about core facts, and then fight for and deliver meaningful changes.

It seems like the only peg left to hang the anti KXL hat on is that it is symbolic. Unfortunately, the symbol that people may see is that is a symbol of tilting against imaginary wind mills.

Not that I am for the pipeline. In fact, I am not for any transportation mode which will bring tar sands to market.

On the other hand, when the anti pipleline movement started, there was probably a genuine opinion that stopping it would make a difference, including the issue of spills. Some say it is more corrosive. That may be true. I just do not know. So, you spend years opposing something and you get thousands of people to protest in front of the White House and elsewhere. You pose it as an epic threat and disapproval as a transformation moment by a President who needs to do something transformational since that was what many people though he would be. And then it becomes unclear whether the pl makes much difference after all. It seems rather too late to say to your followers, "my bad". Total embarrassment would not be very useful going forward.

Alternative Energy Revolution

Not sure I buy the proposition that McKibben genuinely thought this was going to make an impact on the flow and combustion of energy, even years ago. I think he must believe that it matters becaise it makes for good TV, and that a) social movements catch fire when "leaders" manage to strike an exciting pose, even if the pose is entirely symbolic, as this one is, and/or b) there is some chance that Obama would somehow become a forceful and honest figure in this area, and that making him "take a stand" will somehow flip that switch.

Assumption (a) is a pretty dumb (and insulting to real activists and organizers, not to mention the general public) supposition, and (b) is paint-peelingly naive. Personally, I suspect it is some blend of these two rotten premises.

Michael – I can see some strategic benefit in taking symbolic positions if it gathers attention to a cause. But at what price? If it opens one up to easy and plausible criticism it may not be worth it. Even worse when one loses that symbolic battle in a very big and public manner it can damage other aspects of the effort that have more practical potential. Easy examples are some of the silly statements made by AGW deniers. Examples are often posted here. A great many take such silly symbolic positions as the best argument supporting the reality of AGW. IOW those gestures do damage to the cause.

Consider, as has been pointed out numerous times, there have been sufficient transport capabilities without the KPL to allow Canada to export more oil to the U.S. then ever before in history. Add that to the fact that the planning and development of the rest of the 1,200 miles length of the KPL has not stopped while the focus has been on that very short section that physically crosses the border. Then add to that the biggest single factor slowing the development of the oil sands has been the bottleneck not at the border but at Cushing, OK. A bottleneck that has been diminishing for the last couple of years and will be completely eliminated in another two. But I suspect that many of the more vocal anti-KPL folks were just pushed by their overall emotions regarding ff consumption. Essentially an honest and honorable attempt clouded by a lack of understanding of the true dynamics of the situation.

The last nail in the coffin will be when the POTUS approves the border crossing permit. Which many, including the Rockman, have never doubted for a moment. He may add whatever qualifications as to why it was necessary to do so but you can see by the State Dept report the ground work has already been set for the POTUS to claim little or no harm by the approval. The POTUS is much more skilled at using symbolic gestures to his benefit: while he was receiving much acclaim from environmentalists for the permit denial he was also approving over 400 drilling permits in the GOM. Consider what a huge not only symbolic but practical move to take after the Macondo blow out. Even more powerful IMHO then the symbolism of suspending drilling in the GOM for a short period. Except, of course, while the MSM couldn’t report the drilling moratorium enough where has anyone heard about the 400+ drill permits other than on TOD? There are some symbols folks like to keep hidden away. Many will then view such symbolic gestures by the anti-KPL as indications of either ignorance or hidden agendas. Neither of which will aid in further potentially more fruitful efforts. As I was taught in debate class a life time: offering one easily disproved foolish argument can negate a dozen valid positions.

I still am not surprised many activists, including McKibben thought or still think that the pipeline makes a difference. After all, the pipeline proponents have stated as much. So, I guess McKibben should be faulted for not seeing through the lies of the pipeline proponents. The Canadian Ambassador, just three days ago, made an impassioned argument on CNN in favor the pipeline and went on and on about what a great job Canada is doing cutting carbon.

No one "thinks" Obama is going to do anything but those who are passionately concerned about global warming "hope" that he will do something. I doubt seriously that McKibben "thinks" Obama will change. But I am sure that if he could come up with a strategy to get Obama to change, he would do so.

In hindsight and after being privy to all the excellent analyses from people like ROCKMAN, I would probably not choose to make the pipeline such a big issue. But that is from hindsight. But we need concrete symbols of things that cause climate change. Going out and protesting the lack of a carbon tax, for example is a non starter.

If I were just following the general media on this issue, I would probably have a very different view of the situation.

It's pretty clear to me that the majority of people do not function in an analytic mode very much of the time. Recognizing that, it makes perfect sense to focus on symbolic gestures to build sentiment, even if it offends the analytic sensibilities of the (atypical) TOD crowd. Our entire social/political world is about manipulating the emotions of a population who've been intentionally not been taught critical thinking skills. How else does one accomplish anything other than by symbolic gestures that appeal to emotions?

Therefore, I'm afraid ROCKMAN's arguments are true but utterly irrelevant. It has nothing to do with what the pipeline, or stopping it, would actually accomplish. It's about herding, and the stakes are very, very high.

Twilight- I think you misunderstand me. The issue isn't whether the case is just or not. If one makes an argument based on illogical assumptions which most recognize as such you hurt your credibility. And then to compound the problem the "greenest POTUS" of all times disagrees with your position it only reinforces the belief that you don't know what you're talking about. It one thing for folks to disagree with your position on some factual basis. It quit another for them to ignore you as being irrelevant. And that is relevant IMHO. I must assume their efforts were to sway folks on the fence and not like minded individuals. You can't herd anyone when they ignore you.

I expect they will be ignored because this has not captured public imagination in a sufficiently dramatic way. So I guess I agree they will probably be dismissed as irrelevant. But facts have little to do with it.

The opposition to the Keystone pipeline is just one part of the Environmental movement protests to prevent global warming. There are the West Virginia mountaintop removal protests which have gotten support from locals arguing that they would rather have windmills on those mountaintops creating renewable energy and some jobs for years rather than simply destroy a mountain, gut the coal and leave toxic sludge for the people living there to deal with for years.

there have been Environmental and college student protests of coal power plants which were successful in Washington, DC as the protests proved an embarrassment to the Obama's putative Green credentials



The Keystone pipeline is only one skirmish.

The battle that has not been joined by electric car suburban denizens is Auto Addiction which is the root cause of oil addiction and wasteful consumption of all manner of resources in the US and the planet.

It is simply not possible to point to the end users who are ultimately responsible for carbon emissions. In polls, even though who drive low mpg vehicles like SUVs and trucks will say that they are for higher standards for MPG. It apparently does not occur to them, however, that low mpg vehicles are already available in abundance and for probably less than they are paying for their MPG.

I understand when people criticize people like McKibben for not going after the consumer, but he has made the strategic and tactical decision that one must go after those who supply the crack. Otherwise, the backlash would effectively end any chance of making progress. Although I rant about our transportation options and things like SUVs from time to time, I don't think this would engender anything but hate if this approach was part of a protest or political campaign.

Jimmy Carter correctly identified the enemy, the enemy being us as in pogo. No successful politician has dared take that approach since Jimmy Carter's failure to be reelected.

And then there is Obama. McKibben tried to embarrass Obama by making a big fuss about how Obama has still not installed solar panels on the White House despite promising to do so. That would have been such an easy symbolic thing to do and yet the last I checked it still has not been accomplished.

"In polls, even though who drive low mpg vehicles like SUVs and trucks will say that they are for higher standards for MPG."

Of course, everyone wants a 200 mpg carburetor on their F-Gargantuan-50. Explaining the laws of physics doesn't have any effect on those desires.

These last couple of years the parking lot at work is shifting back to 4-door 4-wheeldrive pickups. The brief change to better-mileage cars that happened in 2008 and 2009 appears to be over. $3.60 a gallon gas is just a fact of life now. Refinancing the mortgage was able to free up enough income to pay for the gas.

Do not underestimate the power of inertia.

I don't care a rats rectum about the mode in wich we chose to move the oil about after we broght it up above the ground level. It will be burnt into CO2 anyway. The thing that matters is weather or not we pump the carbon up or not.

Build That Pipeline!

“It concludes, basically, that the oil derived from Canadian tar sands will be developed at about the same pace whether or not there is a pipeline to the U.S.” I still find it annoying even when a KPL cheerleader spins the story that’s not very accurate. You’ve probably heard me before so you can top reading now. LOL.

First the KPL is actually less than 1,200 miles long…320 miles in Canada and 850 miles in the U.S. The 2,000 miles long number includes other p/l’s connecting to the KPL. Second, there is no pending permit to build the pipeline. There is a pending permit to allow a very short section of the p/l to be built across the border line. The rest of the system, including the sections to transport past the bottleneck in Cushing, has already been expanded with even greater capacity gains in the next 2 years. Third, of course production will increase even without the border crossing section: it has already been expanding for years without the KPL as witnessed by the all-time record amount of oil exported to the U.S. in 2012. And even if the crossing permit is never approved alternate transport methods to get the oil across the border to the northern terminal for the KPL have already been put in place and will continue to grow as more of the oil sands are developed. Having that short border cross section built might lower transport cost a tad but once the oil gets to oil terminal in Hardisty, Alb., the transport costs will most likely fall on the buyers and not the producers. And thus most likely passed on to the end users.

But the whole subject is mute: the permit will be granted soon IMHO. Call me suspicious but I suspect the timing of the State Dept announcement right before the always anticipated the summer gasoline price spike hits (after a midwinter all time high average for fuel) is not a coincidence. I’m sure the R’s already had the talking points prepared to blame President Obama’s refusal to sign the permit as part of the reason. They may still try it but all the POTUS need do is mention the all-time high of Canadian imports we just experienced to shut them up. He might even add on a note about the 400 drilling permits he has already approved for the offshore GOM since the Macondo blow out. IMHO the POTUS has been an outstanding supporter of the U.S. oil industry and thus the R’s won’t be able to lay a glove on him in that regard.

But can the oil be used by the largest customer:

The Keystone XL pipeline, recently approved by the US State Department and awaiting President Obama’s declaration that it is in the “national interest,” will carry oil that is too dirty for the US government to buy — under legislation signed by George W. Bush!

In 2007, President Bush signed into law Section 526 of the Energy Independence and National Security Act of 2007. It prohibits the US government, which is the largest single fuel purchaser in the U.S., from using taxpayer dollars to purchase fuels that have a higher carbon footprint than conventional oil.

(Oil-Qaeda: The Indictment - 2). If the big banks are too big to prosecute for their crimes, why would big oil not be?

How does this law work ... what mixtures are involved?

Dredd – Interesting but a little confusing. First, AFAIK the U.S. govt only buys oil for the SPR and it's full at the moment. The rest of the purchases are for refined products. Also: “…to purchase fuels that have a higher carbon footprint than conventional oil.” Do they mean they can’t buy fuel made from unconventional oil that has a higher carbon footprint of conventional oil? And which conventional oil are they measuring against and how do they calculate the foot print. Depending on how the footprint is calculated my little oil well in Texas has a much lower footprint then a well on a fed lease in the GOM. But again, how exactly is the footprint calculated? We’re buying half the production from offshore Equatorial Guinea where they flare a huge amount on NG in order to produce the oil. That has got to add a lot of footprint. Just like all the flaring in the Bakken.

But I’m even more confused. When you buy gasoline how do you know where the oil that was refined came from? More important, did half the oil come from a low f/p oil or and the other half from a high f/p oil? If the govt can’t buy motor fuel from the Canadian oil sands how do they figure out where the diesel they load onto a Navy ship in Charleston came from? And since BP is the largest supplier of fuels to the DOD overseas exactly how do they limit what fuels BP sells them…is there an oil source identified on the fuel invoice.

Just found the rule”. Actually it doesn’t say anything about the f/p of the oil. From: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/regulations/eisa.html

“Section 526 prohibits Federal agencies from procuring synfuel unless its life-cycle GHG emissions are less than those for conventional petroleum sources.”

So is the Canadian oil sand production classified as a synfuel? Guess we need to find out how the life-cycle GHG emissions are calculated. But just for the emission from producing the oil or does that include the emissions generated refining the oil?


See my reply to Darwinian upthread here.

But let me reply further because you said:

Do they mean they can’t buy fuel made from unconventional oil that has a higher carbon footprint of conventional oil?

Bingo. Your mind does not waste words or ideas.

This is the gravamen that Darwinian and I did not get to yet.

But since you lasered in on it, let me say that it is the test for what can and cannot be purchased by federal agencies.

The intent of the House was to specifically forbid federal agencies from specifically using the Canadian Tar Sands, but since the Chairman of the House Committee when writing to his Senate counterpart, said "such as tar sands", then we must determine what other sources are forbidden by exactly what you zeroed in on: "carbon footprint."

But not only that, we must consider the scope of it to determine what this entails:

"... the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and combustion of the fuel supplied under the contract must, on an ongoing basis, be less than or equal to such emissions from the equivalent conventional fuel produced from conventional petroleum sources."

(from the statute, linked upthread in comment). This, as far as I can see at the moment, because of the phrase "the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and combustion of the fuel supplied", involves 1) extraction, 2) transport, 3) refining, and 4) use over a considerable span of time, all things considered.

It is quite the deal isn't it?

The Senate and House passed it and Bush II signed it into law in 2007.

Just sayin ...

If the big banks are too big to prosecute for their crimes, why would big oil not be?


Nervousness about the future of Petrocaribe in the absence of Chavez.

EDITORIAL - PetroCaribe and Jamaica's energy future

Under the arrangement, Jamaica can import up to seven million barrels of oil a year from Venezuela, and, depending on the price of the commodity, gets credit for up to 70 per cent of the bill.

The outstanding amounts, upwards of J$27 billion a year, are converted to long-term, low-interest loans, used to support domestic development programmes.[snip]

Indeed, the expensive oil firing mostly old, inefficient power plants is a major cause for meteoric electricity rates in Jamaica. That, in turn, undermines the efficiency of Jamaican firms and the competitiveness of the island's economy.

There has been much talk about cheap fuels, but we have failed, or been afraid, to act. If we fail to do something quickly, the consequences of expensive oil may soon be deeper and broader than they are now.

In the absence of President Chávez, who was driven by an unswerving solidarity with Latin America, there is no certainty that PetroCaribe will survive - at least in its current form. If that happens, Jamaica should neither be caught by surprise nor with all its fuel in a single barrel.

Either this newspaper's position is softening (more likely) or I am getting better at framing my comments (not as likely) because, at the time of this post my comment under my new moniker "Peak Oiler", is the first and only comment under that editorial. What is remarkable is that my comment both endorses renewables and advocates rail transport:

It is full time the government look at instituting a double track rail service, at least between Kingston and Spanish Town, with a view to providing a high frequency commuter rail link between down-town Kingston's transportation hub and it's equivalent in Spanish Town.

I guess with the considerable size of the funding available under the Petrocaribe fund, people don't perceive my ideas as totally crazy.

On other transport related news.

New China road deal

For the second time in just over three years, Jamaica has secured a multibillion-dollar infrastructure development programme with China, a government insider has revealed.

The US$300-million agreement was negotiated by Works Minister Dr Omar Davies during his visit to China last month, according to the government source.

Again, this commenter calling himself "Peak Oiler" gets a comment in, again touting revival of Jamaica's rail network!

Are we going to use borrowed money to resurface roads that are going to crumble into disrepair long before the loan is repaid? Why not use these funds to rehabilitate, modernise and revitalise the rail network in Jamaica? This would be a more lasting investment and could prove extremely valuable (useful) as the worldwide costs [of] transportation fuels become more and more expensive as they probably will.

In 2010, a similar, China Exim Bank funded program, The Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) was initiated which had as it's aims

The main targets of JDIP

Increased driver comfort along all roads – main and parochial;
Improved road safety;
Increase capacity of roads to handle vehicular volume;
Improved traffic management in town/city centres;
Rehabilitation of approximately 300km of parochial roads;
Rehabilitation of approximately 270km of main roads;
More effective periodic maintenance of road infrastructure.

So, right now it's all about roads and continuing the adoption of a lifestyle centered around the ownership of personal auto-mobiles. I see it as my mission to introduce ideas into the conversation that question BAU. I am beginning to have some hope that these ideas will gain some traction amongst the wider public. At the time of this post edit least the 7 people who gave the comment on the first story the thumbs up and the 29 people who did the same for the second story, are thinking that rail transport is worth pursuing as an option.

Alan from the islands

islandboy, has Jamaica invested in wind generators to offset some of the oil-fired electric generation?

Best hopes for renewable generation of electricity.

Yes. Here's a "happy story" on that subject:

Wigton Wind Farm: Jamaica’s Commitment to Renewable Energy Starts Paying Off

Overall, Wigton Wind Farm has faced a great deal of challenges but has nonetheless been quite a technical success. In fewer than ten years, 40 MW of wind power have been brought onto the grid and the project is starting to see healthy profit. Both are notable.

In a long comment to that infamous thread, The Price of Solar Power from February 26, I tried to explain the situation in Jamaica as comprehensively as I could. I really can't (shouldn't) add anything unless something happens to alter the situation.

In the meantime, breaking news:

Enterprise team set up to oversee Port of Kingston privatisation

The Government has established an enterprise team to spearhead the privatisation of the Port of Kingston.

The facility is being privatised as part of efforts to develop Jamaica as a global transshipment and logistics hub.

The move is particularly geared at positioning Jamaica to take advantage of the anticipated increased maritime activities related to the expansion of the Panama Canal, which is slated for completion in 2015.

So, the government is going to sell off what may be the only business it owns that has been known to make a sizeable profit, the container transshipment terminal. Great! Actually it might not be a bad idea if they cash in just before TSHTF and leave some greedy sucker on the hook>:-)

Alan from the islands


Your first link above was broken. I won't call him a troll, but some bloviating individual has posted a comment behind you that needs to be refuted.

Spyrogyra•11 hours ago−
While Peak Oiler has some good ideas, these will only address the problem at the fringes. Renewables are not yet in a position to meet Jamaica's energy needs in a cost-effective manner. The real solution is to move the mass of our electricity generation to another fuel (natural gas or coal) ASAP while also installing new efficient generation plant. Until we do this we will continue being dependent on oil. We have known the solution for decades, but we have taken no steps to implement these solution. BTW Peak Oiler I don't think the ROI on Wigton Wind Farm is anything to write home about.

A) Not a "fringe" solution - solar could zero-out daytime oil use without even touching backup strategies. The numbers I cranked out the other day show that about 134 gallons/year of fuel oil is displaced for each 1 kW of installed solar. That's 134 gallons * $3.50/gal = $469 per year per installed kW that would remain in the local economy.

B) Natural gas - an import subject to economic vagaries year to year. Coal - an import subject to economic vagaries year to year. Solar, an up-front cost that locks in today's low solar prices - grid parity in 10 years, with at least 10 more years of essentially free electricity. If the other calculations hold and one assumes a constant price for oil (ha ha!) then over a presumed (and likely lowballed) 20 year lifetime 1kW of solar could keep $469/yr * 20 years = $9,380 - $3/watt*1000W = $6,380 in the local economy. With coal and natural gas every kWh generated represents money leaving the local economy - trading one continuous dependency for another.

C)Once they stopped screwing Wigton at $0.05/kWh and gave them a fair $0.10/kWh they started turning a healthy profit (it appears break-even was near $0.06/kWh or so). http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Wigton-gets-the-wind-in-its-sale...

"In March, Wigton Wind Farm project manager, Michelle Chin Lenn said the Wigton I (the original 20.7 MW) and Wigton II were expected to output 54.4 gigawatt-hours (GWh) a year and 47.3 GWh a year, respectively, which would offset just under 60,000 barrels of oil and 85,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year."

That's 60,000 barrels @ $100/bbl = $6,000,000 that's staying in Jamaica for Jamaicans instead of going to oil producers.

Now tell that guy to go eff himself! (via politely showing that he's extremely wrong)


Alan - have you run across a time-demand graph for Jamaica like this?: http://daryanenergyblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/figure_8_4_24_power_...

If you have such a thing it could be estimated how much solar it would take to zero out mid-day oil usage - both in wattage and square footage.


Up to November 2008 I was getting a monthly light bill of roughly $5000-$6000. How come? My family of four rises at 4a.m.; leaves home at 5:30 a.m., returning between 10p.m. and 11pm Monday to Friday. We wash and iron once per week. The bill is now roughly $3000. Meanwhile, an unemployed friend, who lives in Port Royal with her mother and boy friend, gets a bill for roughly $500-$1000. HOW COME?

Again, I cannot comment specifically on your account or that of your friend's without the benefit of more details. I can, however, assure you that, by law, JPS is not allowed to charge different rates to residential customers based on where they live. All residential customers are charged the same rate. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that the difference between your bill and your friend's is higher consumption by your household. On average our residential customers use about 160 kWh per month. That translates into a monthly bill of approximately $4,000 or an average of $133 per day. Of course, consumption is a function of how often, how long and how much electricity is used, primarily by home appliances.

Hawley Smoot! I'm hoping that's a Jamaican Dollar he's talking about...would still put an average bill at about $400 USD/mo. This is amazing given the approximately $5,400 per-capita GDP...there must be a whoppin' lot of high-power users skewing the number. But let's roll with it...

If 160 kWh/mo and 30 days that's 'bout 5.4 kWhr average in a day (24hr) for...225 Watt continuous load. It looks like peak load in most places is at most 2X the average which yields 450 Watts @ peak. That's like two 240 Watt panels per house.
If the US$300,000,000 mentioned in your post were spent giving citizens solar instead of building roads...we'll assume $3/watt, it would install 100,000,000 Watts. Using figures from above 1kW saves $469/yr * 20 years * 100,000 kW = $900,380,000 - $3/watt*100,000,000W = $638,000,000 in the local economy.

This implies a savings of USD$31,900,000/yr once operational which if put back into more solar would purchase an additional 10,633,333 Watts that year...if you keep doing this for 20 years you'll end with:

Year1: W 100,000,000 (save US$31,900,000) [W purchased with savings 10,633,33]
Year10: W 224,433,655 ($71,594,336) [23,864,779]
Year20: W 616,521,120 ($196,670,120) [65,556,746]

The total savings over the 20 year span of re-investment is US$1,746,233,596.
Note that based on year 1 it would pay pack the loan in 10 years if the money wasn't re-invested in more solar. Lets see a re-paving a road offer that.

How big is that ice house you were talking about? Sounds like an opportunity waiting to set up Islandboy Solar LLC and get a development loan from the Petrocaribe Fund.

BTW - Jamaica and the "Islands of the Bahamas" currently have an advertisement war going on in the US catering, of course, to vacationers.

[Edited to correct figures - Woopsie doopsies!]

I responded to the last sentence, three times, condensing my reply each time. The way that this newspaper moderates their comments, one is never sure if a comment is going to be approved, so I kept shortening my responses in the hope that they would approve the shorter one and then they approve all three! I made essentially the same point as your point C) above and asked if what kind of a return he would consider it worth "writing home about", given he doesn't seem to think 20% pa. is.

Your point's A) and B) have been noted. I await an opportunity to ventilate them in comments to stories in said newspaper.

Alan - have you run across a time-demand graph for Jamaica like this?: http://daryanenergyblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/figure_8_4_24_power_...

On page 14 of this SBA Handbook (PDF) there are a couple of graphs that show national time/demand profile. I may have mentioned before that a buddy of mine who works with the JPS was able to show me the demand graphs for the substations where I live, he lives and where my dad lives.

I live very close to major commercial/financial areas in Kingston and it is well suited to solar with a very pronounced mid day peak. He lives in a residential area that is close to the two main universities, the university hospital, a government ministry, the city botanical garden, the main water reservoir for the city, a couple of shopping areas maybe some light manufacturing. The usage profile for his substation shows a distinct mid day peak but, (IIRC) a larger late evening peak typical of residential areas. If I am correct about the evening peak being the larger, this would mirror the national profile shown in the graphs in the SBA Handbook.

The substation that supplies the town where my dad lives does not indicate good potential for solar at all. The demand ticks up a little in the mornings after first dipping when all the street lights turn off. It then stays fairly low all day until it takes an almighty spike around sunset, typical of an agricultural/residential area which is exactly what it is!

Based on the harebrained net-billing scheme that the utility and it's regulator have come up with, electricity fed back to the grid, will earn the PV owner half the amount they save by just offsetting consumption so, unlike with net-meetering, it makes less sense to feed the grid.

Alan from the islands

I looked at that document...that after-5 spike is what could be referred to as a "problem" but it's a can that can be kicked down the road for a few years.

Tackling the 8:30 to 4:30 time frame which peaks out in the neighborhood of 550 MW is something that can be put into perspective. Ironically in one of the other posts I outlined a 20 year re-investment plan which accomplishes the feat by seeding from the $300 million meant for a stupid road repaving.

If you look at the up-front cost in isolation it is large number: 550MW = 550,000,000 Watt...@ US$3/Watt...$1,650,000,000. That's $1.65 Billion. Luckily not a T. Since you want to overbuild nameplate, let's say 611MW to zero out mid-day oil usage or $1.833B.

In context, the GDP of Jamaica through wiki is about $15 Billion. So it's an investment of about 12% of GDP (of one year) to accomplish.

This should zero out about 2.75 billion kWhr/day...which, without better information, I estimate to be around 171,875 gallons of diesel/day if they're getting it for $3/gal, that is $515,625/day vanishing from Jamaica's economy. If you're trying to pay back the $1.65B by the savings it will take you 3,200 days or 8.77 years. This doesn't take into account any multipliers.

A 10 year investment plan, not counting re-investing savings, requires an investment of $165 million/year (1.2% GDP/year). It would obviously help to encourage private development by getting a better net rating situation, like a sell rate at 75% of the retail rate - that still gives a good amount of re-sale profit to the power company for line maintenance, etc, while giving the PV buyer an enticingly rapid payback period.

'Homeless' Airbnb Founder Hails Sharing Economy

... Privately held, Airbnb—the name was inspired by the air beds Chesky and Gebbia once used to rent out in the mid-2000s to help pay the rent—has become a poster child of the Internet-driven "sharing economy."

Leveraging smartphones and social media, consumers can now rent—or rent out—a host of goods and services from DIY tools and designer togs to bicycles and cars for a few hours or days.

Using the service means avoiding buying something you'll rarely use. Chesky cited power drills as an example: there are 80 million such tools in the U.S., but each is used an average of just 13 minutes in its lifetime.

I don't understand who in their right mind would rent their house or car to strangers. Since tools are cheap, would it not cost more (if you include the cost of driving, etc) to rent them? I would rather own tools since I don't know when I might need them.

We live in a finite world.

Is it rational to make each inhabitant of this globe a tool, a car, a TV - for that time when they might need them? Will this bring us closer to or farther away from a sustainable global economy? Is this the best use of their income? Could it be spent more wisely?

I think the problem lies in starting the discussion at the point we're at now, and ignoring the assumptions built into that. Fossil fuel energy allowed us to live independent of others in separated nuclear family groups, while the industrial age allowed us to produce products cheaply. So every nuclear family having its own basic set of tools kind of made sense in that scenario.

In a society with lower available energy and where tools have a higher cost, people will live more closely together and share more things. It won't be necessary or possible for everyone to have their own duplicate stuff.

But while we all still live independently/separately trying to share all the stuff doesn't work. It's just the world we built, and I think it's an example of how transitioning gradually will be difficult.

How do you share a TV? I didn't say that cars and tools should not be shared. I just said that I wouldn't share them with a stranger. Who is responsible if the car or tool is damaged? Who is responsible if the car is in an accident or used to transport drugs or weapons? They could hide drugs in your car for later retrieval.

When the arguments start including 'liability' and potential illegal usage I guess I would have to say your society is really screwed.

I just hope I have time to unscrew my society, where we still leave our houses and cars unlocked. Come to think of it, the growing and transportation of marijuana is also fairly common, and most everyone I know is often transporting weapons, usually in September/October.

Who's going to start the movement to Unscrew the US?


I've seen photos of entire villages sharing a TV. The chief has one, and everyone comes over to watch it. People who don't fit in the house stand outside and watch through the windows.

Even Americans have been known to do this for big events. A pay per view fight, say, or the Super Bowl. Or the finale of a popular TV show. There's a social aspect to watching TV with others (yes, even strangers) that people seem to enjoy.

As for insurance...if you lend your car via a sharing organization, they will cover the insurance. Though there are some kinks that need to be worked out.

Our house had the first radio in the village in the 50's and the first TV in the 80's.(I wasn't born, only heard stories) There used to be a big crowd when war broke out or there was a hockey or a football or a cricket match.

"There's a social aspect to watching TV with others (yes, even strangers) that people seem to enjoy."

aka the "Sports Bar"

Whenever I need a tool I don't have I stroll down the road and ask the couple of neighbors I know - have gotten lucky so far. Always try to finish quickly and give it back better than I got it if possible. There's an accountability aspect if you break your neighbor's stuff - 1. They're going to stop lending you stuff and 2. They know where you live.

Yeah, but in the village everyone knows everyone else. I am in favor of sharing (everyone benefits) but can't imagine renting my house or car to strangers. I think it is better for people who need a car on a short term basis to rent it from zipcar or a similar company. People who need a place to live for a short time can rent a hotel or motel room or stay at the YMCA or youth hostel. I am amazed that AirBnB makes any money at all.

I wouldn't trust the insurance offered by these car sharing companies. What if the damage is discovered a few days after I get the car back? How can I prove that the renter caused it? After if there is an accident and the renter claims it is my fault because the brakes were poorly maintained? What about rough use which cause excessive wear and tear? What if they use my car to hide their drugs with the intention of stealing it later? I would rather not deal with any of this.

Obviously, you are not a candidate for car or home-sharing. But many people are. In particular, younger Americans seem to be much more open to this than older ones, perhaps because they're used to sharing everything on Facebook and Twitter.

Even before the Internet took off, sharing homes was popular among certain upper middle class types. Typically, you'd swap. You live in their home, they live in yours - a vacation where you don't have to pay for housing.

Typically, what makes people not strangers is 1) friend of friend referrals or 2) a "karma" system, where people are rated on their trustworthiness. Can it be gamed? Sure. But your brother could use your car to hide drugs, too.

Karen Liftin did a nice video (Ecovillage Experiments Around the World) on eco villages where sharing is rampant.

Dancing Rabbit is a good example.

Clearly, some people won't be a candidate for sharing; they'll be left behind.

Ceres: Insurance Industry Unprepared for Climate Change

One would think the insurance industry would be proactive confronting and preparing for the long term effects of climate change. The mounting costs of hurricanes, droughts and floods have already reached catastrophic levels. But last week’s assessment by Ceres on insurance and climate change revealed insurers are “not very” prepared for climate change’s impacts on their business.

Some of Ceres’ conclusions include: ...

•Only 23 of the 184 companies Ceres surveyed have a “comprehensive” climate change strategy.
•Very few insurers actively engage their stakeholders on climate change issues. Such an “inward-facing” approach suggests insurance companies are vulnerable to the dangers change climate patterns pose because they lack the information needed to plan for the long run.
•Rather than taking a hard look at carbon-intensive industries that could become susceptible to future regulations and market realities, insurers instead will sooner screen out vulnerable regions such as Florida’s coast.

insurers instead will sooner screen out vulnerable regions such as Florida’s coast.

That makes complete sense, considering how insurance operates. They can't really impact global emissions, but they can try to avoid insuring customers with unacceptable levels of risk. We shouldn't expect capitalist entities, with narrow minded (profits for me) focus to contribute to issues of the global commons.

...but they can try to avoid insuring customers with unacceptable levels of risk."

And in steps our corporatist government...wealthy land developers will see their market vanish as people won't be able to insure their disaster-prone homes, they'll pay off politicians who will write a bill which puts the insurance burden on the government and keep on building - while the tax payers pick up the tab.

If you think it's implausible - look at flood insurance.


But when the storms come hard and fast enough they will prevent rebuilding - you can only pretend so long, but eventually it will truly be untenable. At that point the abandon the region, and as time goes on more and more regions. Eventually they run out of base to spread the risks over, and the whole insurance scheme falls apart.

S.E.C. Accuses Illinois of Securities Fraud

For the second time in history, federal regulators accused an American state of securities fraud on Monday, ordering Illinois to stop misleading investors about the condition of its public pension system.

In announcing a settlement with the state, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Illinois had passed a law in 1994 allowing itself to put less than the required amount into its pension system each year. For the next 15 years, the state issued annual reports showing that it was on track with its lawful schedule, even as it fell further behind the real-world amount needed to pay all public retirees their benefits. In 2005, the state passed another law giving itself a holiday from even the inadequate amounts on the schedule.

From 2005 to 2009, Illinois issued $2.2 billion worth of municipal bonds, which the S.E.C. said were marketed under false pretenses. There was a growing hole in the pension system, putting increasing pressure on the state’s finances every year. That raised the risk that at some point retirees and bond buyers would be competing for the same limited money. The risk grew greater every year, the S.E.C. said, but investors could not see it by looking at Illinois’ disclosures.

And, on top of this, low interest rates have doubtlessly reduced the returns on whatever investments the contributed monies went into (i.e., magnifying the shortfalls).

Schwarzman also said that U.S. energy independence would be a major boon for the domestic economy.

"Everywhere I travel, the world [U.S. energy potential] is about the first thing that people talk about. If we can create energy in very large amounts at some of the lowest prices in the world, it's very logical that people from outside the United States are going to start businesses in the United States."

Schwarzman also predicted that there would be a "dramatic increase" in companies that utilize the energy chain, "if you can foresee a world in the future with natural gas powered automobiles, the savings would be absolutely huge and that would go into consumers' pockets," he said.

We're Betting Big on Real Estate: Blackstone CEO

It seems that energy cornucopianism has infected the highest ranks of America's elite investment community. And yesterday I was speaking to my banker sister who told me her bank (one of the too big to fails) is hungry for "assets" (that's loans to you and me) now that they have cleaned up their balance sheet. I didn't want to bring up the fact that they cleaned up their balance sheet by selling their lousy fraudulent loans to you and me via the government bail out. So now that same bank is out aggressively pushing every loan it can because they are "hungry for assets". Meanwhile Blackstone is becoming one of the biggest landlords in the country while at the same time proclaiming a future where cheap energy will revitalize our economy.

Where is Lewis Carroll when you really need him.

My favorite part of the interview this morning (emphasis added):

If we can create energy in very large amounts at some of the lowest prices in the world, it's very logical that people from outside the United States are going to start businesses in the United States.

WT, I liked that quote too, but if you change "create" to "produce" or "extract" it actually makes some sense, doesn't it? In the past labor rates were the key driver to choosing a production location, but that was because energy was generally transportable and available anywhere. What if that changes? What if regional differences in prices become significant? That's already happened with NG prices in the United States and if the price differential between NG and oil grows, the advantage of locating production here grows. As painful as PO will be to the U.S. economy, our NG resource will provide some relief.

One problem is that US NG production virtually stopped increasing in the spring of 2011, and the latest data when released, may show a decline in US dry NG production. Given that the underlying decline rate from existing wells is so much higher now than at the start of the shale gas boom, the key question is whether the industry will be able to offset the underlying decline from existing wells, and show increasing NG production.

wt – given the NG rig count has dropped from 1,600 to around 400 hundred in the last 4+ years it’s no big surprise. With prices rebounding a tad it looks like the free fall has stopped over the last 4 months. In fact the NG drilling rig count jusy fell to the lowest level in 14 years. I did wonder if the NG yields from the oil shales would have a noticeable impact but from your note it doesn’t appear to be the case.

Kingfish is surely correct. The wild swings of off shoring made posible by trade liberalisation required two other conditions that are now changing. One; a huge spread in labour rates and Two; insignificant transport costs. Chinese and other workers are getting more expensive and rising energy cost will surely flow through to shipping.

Likely result is a return to more local production. Is this observable in the US already, stimulated by lower cost gas inputs from trapped supply?

Won't the pendulum swing back from the mass globalised product to the more specialised local one?

BP-Led Pipeline Ships Less Azeri Oil in First Two Months of Year

The BP Plc-led Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline shipped less Azeri oil in the first two months of the year as the country’s crude production declined.

The BTC link carried 4.9 million metric tons of oil through February, down 6.2 percent from a year earlier, according to data published today on the website of State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan, or Socar, a partner in the project.

Azerbaijan, the largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia and Kazakhstan, produced 3.8 million tons of oil in January, down 3.1 percent from a year earlier, the State Statistics Committee based in the capital, Baku, said Feb. 14.

The country pumped 43 million tons of oil in 2012, a 5.3 percent decline from 2011.

... 3.1% dop in production - 5.3% drop in export - Export Land Model at work

Here is a look at the electric highway for heavy trucks as per Scania


Scania and Siemens to develop heavy-duty hybrid vehicles with trolley-assist; enabling the eHighway

Scania and Siemens have entered into a partnership which involves the integration of Siemens’ trolley-assist technology with Scania’s expertise in the electrification of powertrains in trucks and buses.

Scania has for a long time explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks, while Siemens has developed trolley-assist systems for heavy duty trucks and is selling its SIMINE trolley-assist system for mining trucks to that industry. At EVS26 in Los Angeles in 2012, Siemens described its ‘eHighway of the Future’ concept for the electrification of on-road commercial trucks and select highway lanes via overhead electrified wires.

Hmmm, let me see if I got this right, they are planning to use the highway which is made from asphalt and takes a lot of energy to maintain and then power small soft wheeled vehicles on electricity which I can only see as coming from coal fired electric plants. That, rather than sending the s--t by train and using coolies with rickshaws to, end of the line, distribute the goods? That plan sounds as reasonable as anything else I have heard lately but what will the United Coolies Union (UCU) think about it?

Some of your comment is reasonable, but why do you choose only to see the electricity that would be coming from Coal? Didn't you see upthread that there continues to be steady and respectable, if not explosive growth in renewable sources?

I agree that steel wheels will be the best bet, but with all the existing roadway that we have today as a starting point, applying some trucks that use these roads, but don't need to drag much for batteries with them will already be a considerable improvement in vehicle inertia, purchase cost and maintenance.

I almost never post on global warming issues but I just heard something on NBC news that blew me away. "In the last 50 years winter temperatures in the Antarctica have risen 10.7 degrees." He didn't say but I assume that was Fahrenheit. Here are some more quotes from the episode: "The National Snow and Ice Data Center measured the lowest sea ice cover in Antarctica just six months ago." ... "Less ice has resulted in 80% fewer krill." ... "The colonies of penguins known as Adélie have dropped by a stunning 90 percent." ... Like a canary in the coal mine, experts say the penguins are giving us a warning."

I knew temperatures at the poles were rising faster than the rest of the world but I had no idea it was that much faster.

Ron P.

"Less ice has resulted in 80% fewer krill." ... "The colonies of penguins known as Adélie have dropped by a stunning 90 percent." ... Like a canary in the coal mine, experts say the penguins are giving us a warning."

A warning that may already be too late and that almost nobody will heed anyway, sure sounds like TS is HTF >:-(

Yeah, if those numbers are anything like correct, that's a severe shock. Krill being the basis of the whole ecosystem, that pretty much says it's going to fall apart. Maybe this is partly a cyclical thing (lean/infertile year), but it sure doesn't sound good.

I read the same sort of numbers about fish all the time, in pretty much every type of marine ecosystem. Cod in the Atlantic disappearing in the temperate system, bluefin tuna which migrate and are also considered to be critically endangered, and close to home I hear parrotfish, bluefin trevally, and giant trevally are all not doing very well here in Hawaii. At least in the main island group, in the reserve up north (Papahanaumokuakea) I hear that ulua (giant trevally) are very common. Not so much here, though. The parrotfish situation is serious enough that a ban was proposed.

And then you can add other things on top - declines in reef health, elkhorn and staghorn coral becoming critically endangered in the Carribean, oysters having trouble on the West coast, plastic in the oceans, 100 million sharks fished... It's enough to make you cry. Nearly every marine ecosystem on the planet is under severe stress.

I guess this is what a bottleneck looks like.

"The boats increasingly drop their nets in the same waters where penguins search for food. The nets are not catching penguins indiscriminately but they are competing for the krill that the wildlife eats to survive.

Where do those captured krill end up? In part, they’re used as fish food at salmon farms, desirable because krill help color salmon “pink” which increases sales at the supermarket."

Oh for F(&S sake - those "environmentally sustainable" fish farms are swapping trawling for fish for trawling for krill to feed to farmed fish? SO THEY CAN BE PINK?

"Oh for F(&S sake - those "environmentally sustainable" fish farms are swapping trawling for fish for trawling for krill to feed to farmed fish? SO THEY CAN BE PINK?"

The government keeps telling us to eat more fatty fish for health reasons, and fatty fish tend to be pink, therefore everything follows logically. Why are you surprised?

'Grave indicator': Penguins' survival at stake as Antarctic ice disappears

Scientists Report Faster Warming in Antarctica

(Dec. 2012) A paper released Sunday by the journal Nature Geoscience reports that the temperature at a research station in the middle of West Antarctica has warmed by 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958. That is roughly twice as much as scientists previously thought and three times the overall rate of global warming, making central West Antarctica one of the fastest-warming regions on earth.
Much of the warming discovered in the new paper happened in the 1980s, around the same time the planet was beginning to warm briskly. More recently, Dr. Bromwich said, the weather in West Antarctica seems to have become somewhat erratic. In the summer of 2005, the interior of West Antarctica warmed enough for the ice to undergo several days of surface melting.

Oh, bother it all. Where was it I saw this? Have to look it up, but I could have sworn I read the effect of CO2 release takes some 30 years before it begins to kick in on the climate. So functionally we're seeing the effects of what we threw up in the 1980s.

I can hardly wait until the 90s starts to show up. The aughts? Don't even want to go there.

I'll see if I can find a link on the time-frame.

Edit: Crap. It's not 30 years. It's 40 years: Climate Change: The 40 Year Delay Between Cause and Effect.

This is not happening. This is not happening. This is NOT happening! - Lieutenant Jack Schafer, Jose Chung's From Outer Space

Good link on thermal inertia. It's difficult enough to try and get people to understand that carbon emissions act as a greenhouse effect, let alone try to broach the idea it takes decades for added heat in the atmosphere to penetrate the oceans. I like their analogy of the pot of water put onto the high heat of gas burning stove, with a delayed effect to heat the water. Another analogy is the momentum of a train, that once it's moving (like the AGW trend) it takes a lot to slow it down. Most people probably have the misunderstanding that it's more like a light switch, in which once we convert to non FF sources of energy (should that even occur) AGW will be stopped at that point in time, when the reality is we have to endure an increase in temps for 35-40 years.

If CO2 emissions, worldwide average temp., (melting) poles and glaciers along with methane releases is all trending upward, and there is a lag time of 35-40 years until it peaks, then are we already in runaway GW? Or another way to put it is; if there was an attempt to slow or stop runaway GW, is it possible? I contend that because the Arctic is already nearing an ice free September (to be followed soon thereafter by huge methane releases and increasing feedbacks), the oceans as carbon sinks is reducing (due to higher water temps and acidification reducing the base of the foodchain), and thermal inertia (time lag for full temperature rise), we no longer have that capability to stop it, it's out of our hands.

This goes to another misconception and that is the idea that runaway GW is something far off into the future of 2100. The idea that if it was happening it would be so dramatic at lower latitudes we would all quickly notice. But actually it's already happening in the Arctic. We just happen to not live there so it seems far off and who the heck really cares? But once the Arctic is ice free in Summer and the feedbacks build in much faster, we are all in for quite a show as the northern skies turn methane orange and runaway GW becomes obvious even to the most ardent skeptic. But of course how do you stop it then when there is still 35-40 years of temperature increases to build in? Game over - tilt! Bottleneck, musical chairs, few make it through to a completely different planet, to endure tens of thousands, maybe even millions of years before life to flourishes like it once did before we got so enterprising.

I think a better analogy would be, imagine a shiny steel ball heated by a small flame.

30% of the flame's heat gets reflected by the shininess (i.e. clouds and snow etc.) and the rest heats up the ball until it radiates and conducts away to the air an equal amount of heat, at which point the temperature remains stable.

Now quickly turn up the flame to a higher setting (i.e. increase CO2).

The ball will slowly heat up, until it can radiate away the extra heat from its surface. This takes time because the whole ball must heat up to get the surface hot enough to radiate and conduct the extra heat to the air.

If you quickly drop the flame to the original level, the ball will slowly cool to the original level.

Ideally we should make the surface shinier to reflect more incoming heat. Pity that the icecaps are melting; maybe we'll get more clouds to compensate. No one knows.

Alternatively, get more of the heat to the upper atmosphere where it can radiate away faster. Perhaps we could insulate the oceans so all the heat goes to the atmosphere. We'd reach thermal stability quickly. Alternatively we need some sort of giant atmospheric heat pump conveying heat from the surface to the upper atmosphere.

If the ball were a black carbon ball, the energy radiated would vary as the fourth power of the temperature. As an example, if the effective temperature of the upper atmosphere is 250 degrees, a change to 255 degrees would increase the energy radiated by (255/250)^4 = 8.24%.

The problem is not so much whether the earth's temperature changes a lot in response to variations in insolation, but rather the changes in heat transport from the surface to the top of the atmosphere as affected by the chemical and particulate content of the air, as photons are captured and reradiated between ground level and the top of the atmosphere, and as vertical mixing transports energy by convection.

Temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013) plus projected warming this century on humanity’s current emissions path (in red, via recent literature).

Original ThinkProgress article

Planet 3.0 article

"Given that on this time scale the warming pulse is essentially vertical, it’s easy to modify the plot to be a good approximation of the trajectory if the consensus is actually so badly wrong that it is more than double the real sensitivity. It looks like this:


Given that this change still takes us well outside the experience of humanity in range, and well outside the normal experience of the biosphere in rapidity, such an outcome offers no grounds for complacency. And the data themselves plainly argue against a sensitivity smaller than that.

Clearly we are already in trouble and need to stop accumulating carbon in the atmosphere as soon as possible. No plausible sensitivity argument can change this enough to cut us any slack."

Climate projections?


Environmental scientist James Lovelock, renowned for his terrifying predictions of climate change's deadly impact on the planet, has gone back on his previous claims, admitting they were 'alarmist'.

"This is not happening..."

"You bet your life it is." - Tori Amos - "Things are getting kinda gross..."

I thought Antarctica was only warming a little bit, although the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed a lot. The polar amplification was mainly about decreasing snow/ice leading to more solar absorption (and warmer temps causing subarctic vegetation to get taller, which reduces the effect of snow on albedo. The Antarctic, is soo cold, the land ice isn't shrinking in any appreciable way (w.r.t. regional albedo), but the Arctic has all these feedbacks operation big time. The numbers I saw pertained to the Arctic (I think many reporters don't know the difference).

This is the first I've heard of an Antarctic sea ice decline. That would ruin a denialist talking point "But the Antarctic (sea) ice is increasing". That krill number is pretty alarming, that is the basis of the whole food chain down there.

Total Southern Hemisphere Sea Ice Area (Cryosphere Today) is not shrinking. It looks like it is increasing slowly.

I've also seen other similar comments regarding Antarctic sea-ice, a favorite denialist talking point. The trouble is, the Antarctic is much different than the Arctic, with the sea-ice much further from the pole and that area surrounded by relatively warm open ocean waters. Also, the ozone depletion in spring is much larger over the Antarctic and ozone is another greenhouse gas, thus the loss of ozone would be expected to cool the local climate. The small area of the Antarctic Peninsula is exhibiting much more loss of ice cover, as the peninsula extends much further to the north than the rest of the continent, the result being greater exposure to the ocean currents which circle the Antarctic...

E. Swanson

There is a circumpolar circulation that circles the continent north of the continent. It acts to reduce heat flow into Antarctica. Supposedly the Ozone hole strengthens it. So the northernmost areas are exposed to the warming on the otherside of this circulation, but further south the cooling effect of the stronger bottleneck partly offset the greenhouse warming.

Yeah, the 'Earth From Space' episode of NOVA that Ghung(?) linked to t'other day was very good on this.

Darwinian, what blew me away last week was the realisation that the rapid warming at the poles is going to immediately affect our weather. Whereas AGW is altering the global climate as CO2 concentrations build, it is a relatively slow process (ie. much talk about what is going to happen in 2050 or 2100). However the diminishing temperature gradient between the tropics and the poles is happening much faster and we are seeing rapid changes in our weather patterns as a result.

As the mid-latitudes (Ferrel cells) are between the polar and tropical cells the weather tends to be naturally more turbulent. I'll take a WAG that this turbulence will increase and become more extreme. So between the 23rd and 66th parallels we're going to witness increasingly severe weather and more extreme weather events. We're already seeing this happening and I now believe we're going to see major impacts by 2020 or sooner as a result. Particularly in food production.

Sunday I was working in shorts and T shirt, today I'm expecting snow and being blasted by icy rain. Last year something similar happened, weeks of warm weather followed by a week of bitterly cold weather. Result, we had no apples, no cherries, no walnuts, etc. For example the price of apples doubled and have not fallen since, the real economic impact of one weeks bad weather was both immediate and long lasting. Who knows hows many food related businesses went bust or are still struggling as a result. I know a woman who not only lost an entire years worth of produce, but also stored produce from the prior year.

I think the future of farming is going to be in controlled environments, which will facilitate more automation and require more energy to maintain food production. The cost of staying alive is going to rise substantially and crowd out other non-essential economic activity.

That worries me too, esp since my country is right on the frontline when it comes to climate change, the only thing between India and the Sahara desert is the Great Monsoons. Without it most of India would quickly turn into the Sahel. I hope climate change doesn't impact the monsoons so quickly that people can't adapt.

Burgundy, WiseIndian - That is the same conclusion of the Intelligence Community

James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence - March 12, 2013 - Statement for the Record - Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community - 2013

Competition and scarcity involving natural resources—food, water, minerals, and energy—are growing security threats. … Extreme weather events (floods, droughts, heat waves) will increasingly disrupt food and energy markets, exacerbating state weakness, forcing human migrations, and triggering riots, civil disobedience, and vandalism.

Food - Natural food-supply disruptions, due to floods, droughts, heat waves, and diseases, as well as policy choices, probably will stress the global food system in the immediate term, resulting in sustained volatility in global food prices.

Many resource-strapped countries have been losing confidence in the global marketplace to supply vital resources, and increasingly looking to shield their populations in ways that will almost certainly threaten global food production. For example, emerging powers and Gulf States are buying up arable and grazing land around the world as hedges against growing domestic demand and strained resources. Food supplies are also at risk from plant diseases that affect grain and oilseed crops and from transmittable animal diseases, such as H5N1 and foot and mouth disease. At the same time, agricultural inputs—water, fertilizer, land, and fuel oil—are becoming more scarce and/or costly, exacerbating the upward pressure on food prices.

In the coming year, markets for agricultural commodities will remain tight, due in part to drought and crop failures in the midwestern United States last summer. Rising demand for biofuels and animal feed exerts particular pressures on corn prices, and extreme weather will cause episodic deficits in production.

We will also see growing demand and high price volatility for wheat. A near-term supply disruption could result when a plant disease known as Ug99 stem rust—already spreading across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East—arrives in South Asia, which is likely to happen within the next few years.

Water - Risks to freshwater supplies—due to shortages, poor quality, floods, and climate change—are growing. These forces will hinder the ability of key countries to produce food and generate energy, potentially undermining global food markets and hobbling economic growth. As a result of demographic and economic development pressures, North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia face particular difficulty coping with water problems.

… Wealthier developing countries probably will experience increasing water-related social disruptions, although they are capable of addressing water problems without risk of state failure.

Many countries are using groundwater faster than aquifers can replenish in order to satisfy food demand. In the long term, without mitigation actions, exhaustion of groundwater sources will cause food demand to be satisfied through increasingly stressed global markets.

Water shortages and pollution will also harm the economic performance of important US trading partners. Economic output will suffer if countries do not have sufficient clean water to generate electrical power or to maintain and expand manufacturing and resource extraction. In some countries, water shortages are already having an impact on power generation, and frequent droughts are undermining long-term plans to increase hydropower capacity. With climate change, these conditions will continue to deteriorate.

I thought Antarctica (with its land ice) where less sensitive than Arctica with its floating ice. Seems my model was under-alarmistic. Who could tell?

Nuclear Industry Withers in U.S. as Wind Pummels Prices

By Julie Johnsson & Naureen S. Malik - Bloomberg - Mar 11, 2013 4:13 PM ET

A glut of government-subsidized wind power may help accomplish a goal some environmentalists have sought for decades: kill off U.S. nuclear power plants while reducing reliance on electricity from burning coal.

That’s the assessment of executives and utility experts after the U.S. wind-energy industry went on a $25 billion growth binge in 2012, racing to qualify for a federal tax credit that was set to expire at year’s end.

Perhaps the journalists that wrote this article were showing their bias in this paragraph...

Atomic-power providers complain that the upheaval is an example of government subsidies distorting the market -- to the particular detriment of nuclear which provides 19 percent of the nation’s electricity, is clean and has proved safe despite perennial concern by activists that it poses a danger to public safety.

The clean, safe and never ever ever subsidized nuclear industry just can't get any respect. /sarc

The clean, safe and never ever ever subsidized nuclear industry just can't get any respect. /sarc

You mean, they´re like the new 'Rod Danger Field...?!'

Rod Danger Field...?
Har har, I have to give that one "glowing reviews". My geiger counter is going clicity-click. Nothing like the smell of gamma rays in the morning.

Wow. That puts the chuts in pah.

"The clean, safe and never ever ever subsidized nuclear industry just can't get any respect. /sarc"

Hey my friend there seems to be a choice between Nuke and coal. Please don't tell me about wind and solar. Spain is doing something with wind that can be stored but it is pathetically small. I will buy wind and solar on the day that everyone gets a shovel and hoe and starts producing something besides cell phone conversations. Anyone here know what amount of power is used totally in the cell phone system?

At: http://www.nrdc.org/air/energy/energyeff/cellphones.pdf
I found this: .43 cents a year or aprox 150 million dollars in power to keep phones charged in the USA and about 500 million dollars in China. How many wind mills would be needed to keep our phones charged and then how many would it take to start calling like maniacs. Of course I guess that pales beside internet use and as far as keeping the lights on what do we got?

Electric trains to transport food, my word who needs electricity for that, we can use sails,wind trains, at least going west to east.

Yah sure, wind will do it!
(excuse my sarc)

Inside Fukushima's abandoned towns, two years on – in pictures

Shiona Tregaskis, guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 March 2013 12.47 GMT

Amid growing dissatisfaction with the slow pace of recovery, Japan marks the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that left nearly 19,000 people dead or missing and has displaced more than 300,000. Towns in the surrounding area remain abandoned, even those outside the nuclear disaster exclusion zone, too contaminated by radiation for residents to return for more than short visits

Hope he doesn't need to recharge his cellphone!

Ignatz, I get your point. I, in no way will ever pretend that our transition to a post carbon energy infrastructure will be easy. Indeed, the challenge is quite daunting. But let's not pretend that Nukes are safe, clean, and have never ever ever been subsidized.

Folks in Ontario can look at their electricity bill and see a line item called the "Debt Retirement Charge" that goes towards paying off the debt of the nuclear infrastructure that was built in the '80s. That debt retirement charge will have to be paid until 2026!

LOL! The blue sign in the background says: "COOL", nice touch of irony.
Not sure I grok the the headless female torso with the "My Fit Lema".
They ought to replace the signs with a red one that says: "HOT", the other one should say "Dilemma"...

"My Fit Lema" appears to have been a sign on a ladies' lingerie establishment, judging by the torso in bra and panties. Presumably bespoke tailored items.

I've never visited the Appalachians and judging by how fast they are being leveled, it looks like I never will, I also have no plans to visit the Tar Sands too many dead ducks and polluted Indians for my taste.

Tell me one thing. Which would you prefer, more of the same coal and tar, or Nuke. What do you figure the death rate over the years has been from these sources of carbon based fuel compared to radiation deaths?

Please don't bother calculating the ecological losses of each, as when one sees the recovery in the surrounding Chernobyl Nuke disaster site, which needed no hand of man to produce and compares that to the irreparable mountain removal and head water interference and just generally sh--y health of the natives in the Appalachians, would it be much of a contest?

BTW interesting picture of Shiona Tregaskis, (is that a guy or a place or what?)but the deaths there are sort of in the apples meet oranges variety aren't they? Tsunamis may come and people may blow but the death from rads is very low. Not exactly a Haiku but it at least rhymes. eh?

Please don't bother calculating the ecological losses of each, as when one sees the recovery in the surrounding Chernobyl Nuke disaster site, which needed no hand of man to produce and compares that to the irreparable mountain removal and head water interference and just generally sh--y health of the natives in the Appalachians, would it be much of a contest?.

And why wouldn´t you bother to calculate the ecological losses of each?
Granted the data and the analysis have been difficult to come by for Chernobyl, mostly due to lack of funding for such research...

BTW, not everything is doing so well in the Chernobyl area as you seem to imply.


Snip... Adult survival prospect is an important determinant of
life-time reproductive success [26] and any reduction in
survival rate will have important fitness consequences.
Adult barn swallows breeding in Chernobyl had survival
rates that were reduced by 24% and 57% for males and
females respectively, in comparison with control areas
[24]. These differences are large compared with normal
intraspecific variation in survival rate.
Reduced adult survival and reproduction suggests
that extant populations of these bird species in this area
are unlikely to be viable; only if there is significant
immigration from source populations to the Chernobyl
sink can these populations be maintained.

Intersting snip Fmagyar, thanks.

Would you have any information on predator populations comparing those two areas, Chernobyl and everywhere else? Do you have anything more current than that 2006 article. I would imagine it is hard to get much information as most would be written in Russian and unless there are those who are interested in how the little bird falls from the sky and can translate from Russian to English there is going to be little us parochial Anglo types can pick up on, Right?

I do a lot of vegetable gardening and am sort of tuned into what is happening in my little world. Here it looks like we are moving into the year of the squirrel, (my nut denuded hazels of last fall testify to that), and if things go right with the owls and such in response to that increase in squirrels then we should soon be seeing the year of the owl, maybe by next year. Right now the owl population here is rather dismal almost as if someone had shoved a nuke up their tail feathers.

Would you have any information on predator populations comparing those two areas, Chernobyl and everywhere else?

Depends on what you mean by predators. Wolves, which are animals that cover large territories seem to be doing alright. Dragonflies and spiders not so much.

For the record a scientific paper published in 2006 can be considered recent.

Here´s a slightly more recent one:


Reduced abundance of insects and spiders linked to radiation at Chernobyl 20 years after the accident

Anders Pape Møller1,* and
Timothy A Mousseau2

+ Author Affiliations

1Laboratoire d'Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, Université Paris-Sud
CNRS UMR 8079, Bâtiment 362, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France
2Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208, USA


Effects of low-level radiation on abundance of animals are poorly known. We conducted standardized point counts and line transects of bumble-bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies and spider webs at forest sites around Chernobyl differing in background radiation by over four orders of magnitude. Abundance of invertebrates decreased with increasing radiation, even after controlling for factors such as soil type, habitat and height of vegetation. These effects were stronger when comparing plots differing in radiation within rather than among sites, implying that the ecological effects of radiation from Chernobyl on animals are greater than previously assumed.

"Which would you prefer, more of the same coal and tar, or Nuke."

Nice false dilemma there. Solar and wind are now mature technologies. Pumped storage and batteries are also not new. Give every house a couple batteries like they have a hot water heater now - problem solved.

Nuclear power has been made obsolete by solar and wind power, IMHO. It's not needed.

"Nuclear power has been made obsolete by solar and wind power, IMHO. It's not needed.",/i>

Quite agree Nuke is not necessary, nether is wind or solar. The question I have for you is what is the population that would be supported in each reduction of energy dependency?

How could you expect anyone to answer that question?

Clearly, we have more people than we could forsee having the energy to support, and population will have to shift down, as should our per-capita consumption. Where you choose to tie that in with an opposition not only to Nuclear and Coal, but the Renewables as well, I haven't been able to get from your posts.

I think the point is really 'Do we, and the people coming after us reasonably get some essential benefits in staying alive with some, probably greatly reduced amount of power to help them do so?'

Are you saying that we will have NO need of power, and could just abandon all of it? I find such statements to be circular, and wonder where, for you do they end?

"not necessary, neither is wind or solar.."

if that's the case, what's in your tank?

... and population will have to shift down, as should our per-capita consumption. "

Are you saying that some of the people will get it in the neck and that's okay, but it is not okay if all people get it in the neck?

Maybe the question should ask what we consider important? A world that survives with ecological diversity or one that allows a bunch of elite energy 'exceptional' humans to survive on a clapped out one. Possibly the most equitable solution would be a total systems failure? Would that at least not have some fairness or justice to it? Just us monkeys back agin in the trees, guys:-)

If one rules out nuclear isn't one giving a thumbs up to coal? Is the practice of lifting oneself by he bootstraps and producing windmills and solar without fossil fuels much the same sort of enterprise?

On your question "How could you expect anyone to answer that question?
What you are asking seems as rhetorical as the question I posed. Shall we call it a draw?

"Are you saying that some of the people will get it in the neck and that's okay, but it is not okay if all people get it in the neck?"

I never said any such thing, but I would if it means that I will work to see that we don't intentionally aim ourselves at or surrender ourselves to extinction. I think it's a flawed conclusion to say that the world would be better without us here at all.

In any case, if we don't have enough to support our current population, then the numbers will simply HAVE TO fall back. It's physics, not policy or social ordering. There's no need for any throat cutting by one another.. it's going to happen without any particular further help from us. You can choose to view it as some implication of 'Exceptional Humans'.. I think of it as 'the next generation', and don't have any particular preference about that sort of qualitative ranking.

The real logical flop is this ongoing accusation that opposing Nuclear is an implicit endorsement of coal. That's your own cynicism, not mine, but it makes your absolute denial of Wind and Solar that much more confusing to boot. I don't believe that either Coal or Nuclear's existence presupposes the other, and I'm fully opposed to both. Meanwhile, far from being polar opposites, both exist across the globe at the same time, each carrying it's own vulnerabilities and dangers, all compounding against one another- short term and long term dangers, economic costs, climate aggravation, resource hostilities.. something I don't see Wind and Solar threatening us with to any appreciable degree.

'Oh,' you say.. 'but that would be really hard, and then there really wouldn't be enough energy for everyone.'

Very well put.. so then we can get back to talking about what 'enough' means, how to live with less, and how to work around renewable sources and humbler levels of storage.. even if some of us are more eager to insist on saying instead that we will simply have to have Coolies and Coal.

I say there are more creative and useful ways to look at current and past examples in order to create some positive directions to try.. and not just throw up our hands and bleat on about how doomed we are to becoming 'Monkeys in the Trees' again.

Are you saying that some of the people will get it in the neck and that's okay

I believe Man's injustice to their fellow Man every day says exactly that.

If one rules out nuclear isn't one giving a thumbs up to coal?

There are other choices, but you've asked us not to tell you of them.

Is the practice of lifting oneself by he bootstraps and producing windmills and solar without fossil fuels much the same sort of enterprise?

Some interesting framing 'lift by bootstraps'.

But here is some other framing for you to grok.

That oil and coal - that is from solar power. Exactly what do you think oil/coal is formed from?

See the black dots below?

Wanna guess what they represent?
(For the readers who don't want to guess and don't come to the table with preconceived notion - they are solar panels and the volume of black == all the power consumption of humanity gets covered at 8% conversion rate)

"Which would you prefer, more of the same coal and tar, or Nuke. "

Personally, I would prefer the nuclear plants. I know they can be done correctly, even if Management often screws it up.

However, nuclear is just not economic. Everything else is cheaper even without counting accidents.

If you roll in the full greenhouse and other indirect costs of coal and tar, maybe that's not true, but the political system is not going to do that. Even if they wanted to convert away from coal and tar in a crash program it would take 40 years given that the rest of the world is also increasing energy consumption at the same time. And in the mean time, it's coal and tar.

Personally, I would prefer the nuclear plants. I know they can be done correctly, even if Management often screws it up.

However, nuclear is just not economic. Everything else is cheaper even without counting accidents.

PVguy, not trying to pick on you personally here, I´m truly fascinated by the profound contradiction and congnitive dissonance in those two statements.

Your illogical approach to chess does have its advantages on occasion, Captain. --Spock

Which would you prefer, more of the same coal and tar, or Nuke.

There are other choices. But given your wishes expressed above:

Please don't tell me about wind and solar.

It sure does seem you have an agenda and preconceived notions.


Wind farms in Spain have broken an energy record in January, generating more electricity than any other source.

Spanish wind farms generated 6 terawatt hours of electricity in January, according to an industry trade group, enough to power nearly every household in the country.

The Spanish Wind Energy Association said wind energy accounted for 25 per cent of all electrical production in January, more than both coal and nuclear power.


Add this link to your comment on Spain re Molten Salt energy storage


I don't know much about it other than , there it is! Anyone know how feasible this is? What are its drawbacks?

What are its drawbacks?

The main drawback is cost. Not so much the cost of thermal storage, but the cost of concentrated solar thermal. These are quite a bit more expensive per watt (or kilowatt-hour) than conventional PV. So you end up paying a substantial premium for (potentially) a few hours of storage. These costs are mostly large scale construction costs -huge fields of heliostats, and multihundred meter tall power-tower collectors and such, which probably won't decrease all that strongly as the number of plants is scaled up. And the storage isn't enough to bridge the bigger gaps, like seasonal variability, or several cloudy days in a row. So the storage benefit is limited.

Quite a bit more expensive? I think PV only recently got cheaper than CSP but I don't think the difference is huge though. But CSP probably won't be as popular because even if the difference in price isn't large, it is probably growing.

Would you mind disambiguating for me this CSP?

Concentrated Solar Power. Those big things out in the desert with all the mirrors, the big tower, and the molten salt to capture & store the heat for ultimately generating electricity.

U.S. nuclear production of electricity looks fairly constant as production using natural gas increases tremendously and production using coal and petroleum liquids decrease.

U.S. Large Commercial Production of Electricity

U.S. Small Commercial Production of Electricity

Currently the increase in electricity generated from wind replaces the decline in petroleum liquids. Notice solar, which includes both commercial photovoltaic and solar thermal in EIA's category, decreases to a little less than 50% in the winter compared to summer while Germany's monthly solar production decreases to about 13% ("Electricity Production from Solar and Wind in Germany in 2012" Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE., page 12).

Would you switch to LED light bulbs if they were half price?
One of the main drawbacks to energy-saving LEDs is the high upfront cost. But as cheaper versions creep into the market, is it time to make the shift?

Over the last decade in households across America, the compact florescent light bulb (CFL) has replaced many an incandescent bulb. And while consumers have had to make investments in such an energy-saving switch (of an average cost of $5 per bulb), most folks justify the upfront expense as Energy Star-qualified CFLs can save over $40 over their lifetimes in energy costs, and use about 75% less energy than cheap, traditional bulbs.

In addition to funny-shaped CFLs, LED bulbs too save on energy costs, though the public has been less keen on them, as price points for 40-watt bulbs begin around $20 a pop. But that may soon change as Cree, an LED chips and part maker, introduces a new line of low-cost LED light bulbs.

See: http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2013/0309/Would-you-switc...

Our lighting supplier recently brought in twenty thousand A19-style LED lamps and sold the complete lot in about two hours (a good quality product from a major lighting manufacturer that I happen to like a lot). The unusually strong demand can be attributed to a generous point of sale rebate -- you might say overly generous. Suffice to say there are plenty of red faces in certain quarters and some really big smiles on others, including my own.


[Edited to remove specifics in case I need to CMA.]

I'd happily switch to LEDs as long as they are below the watts/lumen cost of CFLs or said the other way so long as they provide more lumens/watt than CFLs.

http://www.mypharox.com/store/products/pharox-800-blu.html looks usable as it is 10 watts for 800 lumens saving ~3 watts vs the 12/13/14 watt CFLs it would replace.

The only catch is the CFLs are about $1.75 a bulb for a 10,000 life vs $15 a bulb for a 15,000 life (adjusting to the same life makes it roughly $10 for the LED). So will 3 watts x 10,000 hours be more or less than the price difference of roughly $8.25?

For me $0.10 per kWh is about right and am I doing the math right saying that 3 watts time 10,000 hours = 30,000 Wh = 30 kWh? If so 30 x $0.10 is about $3 energy savings which means I need that 10watt 800 lumen LED bulb for under $5 before i'd jump.

I suppose those in areas where energy costs are higher say $0.20 per kWh would be OK when the 10 watt 800 lumen bulb gets down to $8.

I'm selling many of those subsidized bulbs daily now, Paul, as you may have heard, I'm working at a familiar home-supply store for the time-being, and those $7 and $9 Phillips' are just spilling off the rack.

In fact, I spilled one of the 40w's off a 12' ladder the other day, smashing the glass diffuser rather permanently, and so since it was to be written off anyhow, I took it out back and plugged her in, just to see. Lit up quick as you please, despite the wee frosty shards lying about her little diodes.. not too many other bulbs you can do that with!

There are also now just an explosion of different forms that these warm-white LEDs are coming out in, with a big push on the retrofits for the Ceiling Recessed lights. ..and they just uprated the expected lifespan from 35k hours up to 50k. I get the feeling that while some of them will be short-lived duds, we're now starting to install other of these lights that we'll never need to change in our lifetimes.

I hate 2700K bulbs. Seems they are becoming popular. I won't buy anything that isn't at least 3000K. Just because flames, -and low temp incandescents are redish, doesn't mean we have to accept redlight for ever. Heck the sun is 5700K!

I agree, I'm not too keen on lights below 4500K. I'm willing to look at anything in the 4500K to 9000K range for now as long as the CRI is decent. Maybe if costs and CRI improve more I'll tighten the K range I look at.

I bookmarked http://www.amazon.com/Light-White-7000K-Degree-Angle/dp/B008CV9O0Q/ref=w... just because it's $7 a bulb and 7000K

I like that it is 80 lm/w which is higher than the lm/w I'm getting out of my 8 and 9 watt CFLs.

If it were a little cheaper I'd take the gamble and buy one to try it out but as of now it still seems too expensive to replace my $1.x a bulb CFL supply.

It's what you get used to, I guess. My desk light where I spend most of the day is 2700K and I like it. The whiter lights seem harsh and industrial.

Well, I think there's a visceral response (both positive and negative, clearly) to warmer light. We've used fire and candle and lamplight for all our history, and I think it can be very effective in creating a calming atmosphere, while the cooler temps are understandably better for activities (apart from those that have an Al Green soundtrack), being the higher energy colors of daytime instead of evening and night.

It's not surprising that you feel so strongly about it, but don't be a victim. They've got all these fine choices out there now for you, (unless the whole supply chain falls through, at which point you might be lighting tapers or just cursing the darkness again.. ) so you can have bright, cool daylight 24/7 if you insist.

Sleep when you're dead. Wink, wink.

Hey Bob,

Oddly enough, there's a certain big box retailer tied to this story. Check your e-mail.


Still a bit spotty in terms of coverage at decent prices. Easy to find 3000K/450L/7.5watts/$10(us). The replacement for that bulb is 490l/7.5 watts (10% better efficiency, but its currently $15). Most of the higher output bulbs are still $20-40, which is kinda off-putting. I'm using a 1050lumen/18watter right now, that I found on sale for $10, but I haven't seen anything similar less than $25.

I don't think householders look too closely at the electricity used for lighting, because it's relatively little. They look at the device and compare with similar devices.

I just relaced a CFL bulb with another. Cost me R15 in my local supermarket. An LED bulb would have cost me R250 ($28) and I'd have to go into town to buy one.

I can't understand why they are so expensive. It's a passive energy conversion device. By comparison, a camera battery charger is R79. That's also a passive energy conversion device which I'd bracket in the same class as an advanced light bulb.

At R79, if readily available, I would have bought an LED bulb and trusted the electricity savings and long life would pay off without actually doing the calculation, simply on a like-for-like comparison.

Although 5 x the price of a CFL, it's a massive 70% discount on the current LED price. LED bulb prices have a long way to go still.

It's far from being 'a passive energy conversion device' .. they have jumped through the same crazy hoops to push the limits on materials in order to get LED's into the ballpark of creating a comfortable and acceptable light quality, while keeping their durability and size, etc.. as has been done to keep extracting oil from more difficult and arcane sources than those ol' drenchers that used to spit the stuff out at us.

It's a little amusing to hear people take that all for granted and just start demanding that since they look like light-bulbs now, that they should cost about the same.. even tho' they do this with something on the order of a direct 80% energy savings and a fairly extreme expected lifespan. (and you heard my story that I dropped on from 12 to 15 feet onto concrete, and it still worked, even if the diffuser glass was toast. That two-dollar one you just bought, if incandescent, was a bit of tungsten wire suspended in a vacuum-tube.. and if you dropped either an incandescent or a CFL, or even dinged it against the rail of the ladder just so, you know what would become of it..

Try to appreciate just what they are, and what we lucky consumers have the opportunity to put into our sockets, changing that light for possibly for the last time till our kids have to do it.

LEDs, are essentially semiconductors, both for the light emitting parts -and except for low voltage DC, to convert the power supply to low voltage DC. I think a lot has to do with the volume of production of a given model. The most popular A19 (7-8watts) has enough volume to support a $10price, the other bulbs are still speciality priced. Its kind of tough to break into a market, if you need high volume to get cheap enough to reach high volume. So they are fighting the chicken-egg problem.

It's time that we started putting low voltage DC wiring in houses so that we could power LED lighting without the need for every bulb to contain a power supply.

LED lights are current sinks; you still need a power supply even with DC. Or at least a wasteful current limiting resistor.


I've been researching ways to make residential DC wiring a good fit for LED lighting, but no luck so far. Pity.

I'm working with a group that has a very interesting solution for driving LEDs with very simple wiring, no wasteful current limiting resistors, and very extensive control features. It requires a high voltage power supply but that can be achieved with DC to DC transformers which are pretty efficient these days. And since we are talking about driving LEDs, the overall power is pretty low even though higher voltages are used.

Do you have the budget for the conductors? You'd be moving a lot of current and on just a materials basis it's cheaper to build a switching power supply.

Well, yes and no.

If it's for lighting, we're now looking at fixtures that are using so much less current than ever before that running some wire in a home for low-voltage lighting need not require handling in excess of 10-15 amps, much like we do now.

It seems realistic to me that a dedicated set of low-volt lighting circuits could be completely adequate at the 12-14 gauge standards we've used already in our homes.

My little Kitchen and Office setup is on more temporary 18ga lamp 'zip' cord, but the draw is never over 3 amps. After the next set of 12v cabinet and ceiling lights move over from Wall-worts onto the Solar Circuit, I'll make the wire runs and junctions a bit more 'code-like' and respectable.

That said, there are also numerous other ways to find this balance. Run at 48vdc perhaps, and set up your draws accordingly, which allows for less demand on the wires..

$20 dollars for a bulb that will not be a serious problem to clean up if you break it?

That alone is reason enough for me. I've started to replace my bulbs with LED. I don't quite like how the Phillips bulbs start out with twice the lumens and then decay to the rated strength, but really, that's a First World Problem.

Can you provide more details? I've installed some twenty thousand Philips LED lamps to date and have never encountered what you describe. According to DOE testing, their L-Prize lamp generates more lumens at 20,000 hours than it did upon initial start-up.


EIA World Crude Oil & Lease Condensate Production January 2000 to November 2012

EIA World Crude Oil & Lease Condensate Production from January 2000 to November 2012

EIA Saudi Arabia Crude Oil & Lease Condensate Production January 2000 to November 2012

EIA Saudi Arabia Crude Oil & Lease Condensate Production from January 2000 to November 2012

EIA United States Crude Oil & Lease Condensate Production January 2000 to November 2012

EIA United States Crude Oil & Lease Condensate Production from January 2000 to November 2012

The world record high production continues to be in April 2012, but the EIA has revised it below 76 Mb/d to 75.96901 Mb/d. The EIA revisions between the world data published in September 2012 and November 2012 are as follows:

EIA Revisions in World C+C Production for Data Released
in September 2012 and November 2012
(year & month)
2000-01 to 2007-12 no change
2008 small revisions ranging from -4.00 to 6.94 kb/d
2009 small revisions ranging from -6.46 to 4.69 kb/d
2010 all small reductions ranging from -15.54 to -4.61 kb/d
2011 small revisions ranging from -33.65 to 31.18 kb/d
2012 all reductions
2012-01 -42.85 kb/d
2012-02 -39.83 kb/d
2012-03 -63.07 kb/d
2012-04 -53.85 kb/d
2012-05 -93.71 kb/d
2012-06 -90.03 kb/d
2012-07 -166.79 kb/d
2012-08 -161.07 kb/d
2012-09 -140.77 kb/d

Thanks for the graphs, blue. The sharp dips in the U.S. graphs are due to the shut in of gulf production during hurricanes, right? Really demonstrates how much we rely on the gulf. 2012 was clearly a banner year for U.S. oil production -- I think everyone here will be interested to see how things pan out in 2013. Also, amazing trend in EIA corrections. Are their numbers getting less reliable at the time of initial release? Seems that way.

Yes, about the hurricanes. There is an older graph in this comment with events labeled.

The EIA has been revising their numbers for years which prompted me to begin analyzing them last year. I have not done enough yet to spot a trend.

Amplified Greenhouse Effect Shifts North's Growing Seasons

Vegetation growth at Earth's northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south, according to a NASA-funded study based on a 30-year record of land surface and newly improved satellite data sets.

An international team of university and NASA scientists examined the relationship between changes in surface temperature and vegetation growth from 45 degrees north latitude to the Arctic Ocean. Results show temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982.

Gaia attempts to mop up excess CO2 by growing more stuff.

Gaia attempts to mop up excess CO2 by growing more stuff.

She might need to come up with a giant Roundup resistant Venus Flytrap that specializes in eating Homo sapiens... one that spreads like weeds!

Ars gratia Snarkis..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVXEA7_y344 (Long before 'Feed me, Seymour!')

actually, the book "Day of the Triffids" was a decent read. Recommended.

Seems from the graphic that a large area of Canada and Alaska's boreal zone has suffered a decrease in vegetation growth. I guess they're the warmer and drier areas, in fact it looks like a band across the continent. New desert zones?

The areas which suffered decreasing plant growth (those in red) are actually some of the wettest areas in North America, areas where the ground is permanently saturated with water and very swampy - mostly peat bogs.. Presumably they are drying out and becoming less boggy.

The areas with the greatest increase in plant growth (those in blue) are some of the driest areas in Canada. The high Arctic is basically a cold desert with very little rain or snowfall, so presumably it's getting more precipitation as well as more heat to encourage plant growth. If this continues, the Arctic tundra will be replaced by boreal forest.

The most economically important trend is shown by the increased growth (blue and green) in the south central-west area of Canada. This is the vast Canadian Prairies, the breadbasket of Canada, with about 85% of Canada's farmland. The bluest part is the Parkland Belt, which has the most fertile soil in Canada. With a little more heat and a little more moisture, this could turn into a Corn Belt, rivalling the American Midwest. It is currently too cold and too dry to grow much corn.

This is consistent with what happened in previous episodes of global warming. The geological record shows that the Canadian Prairies pushed up north of 60° and there were forests growing on the Arctic islands. The Prairies became warmer and wetter, making them more like the American Midwest. As this article says, Canada is becoming much more like the US is now.

Climate Change Is Making Canada Look More Like the United States

Observant people who've driven through Canada their entire lives may have noticed a shift in their natural surroundings. That is, it's greener: A huge portion of the country, roughly equal to the area of the entire United States, is sprouting thick, luscious new coats of trees and bushland.

Of course people in the US might say, "That's great for Canada, but what happens to the US?" Well, according to the geological record, the Midwest turned into a desert.

Interesting, thanks RockyMtnGuy.

The areas which suffered decreasing plant growth (those in red) are actually some of the wettest areas in North America, areas where the ground is permanently saturated with water and very swampy - mostly peat bogs.. Presumably they are drying out and becoming less boggy.

I guess at some point bacterial activity will pick up converting all that carbon rich peat into methane. Local methane induced forcing will create a positive feedback and increase warming dramatically in those areas.

I don't know if bacterial methane would have much effect. I would think that forest fires would be the biggest factor. The boreal forests burn down fairly regularly (every 50 to 100 years), and if the peat bogs dried out, they would burn, too.

The new OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report is out this morning with the OPEC Crude Only production for February 2013. There were no big surprises anywhere except that big OPEC jump everyone expected just didn't happen. The OPEC 12 was up 74 kb/d to 30,311 kb/d on the month but that was after January was revised downward by 83 kb/d. So from the January unrevised numbers OPEC was actually down by 9 kb/d.

Saudi Arabia was up 41 kb/d to 9,116 kb/d but that was after December had been revised downward by 85 kb/d and January revised downward by 30 kb/d. Iraq was up 58 kb/d to 3,062 kb/d but that was after January had been revised downward by 29 kb/d. Algeria was down 23 kb/d. There were no other major movements in production numbers.

OPEC Crude Only in kb/d. The last data point is February 2012
OPEC Crude Only photo OpecCrudeOnly-2_zps1497b989.jpg

Ron P.

In other words, no significant jump in production despite very high prices. What's happening with Iran, are their exports being undercut by sanctions or are they exporting every barrel that they can?

Both. They are exporting every barrel they can but sanctions are undercutting their export ability. However they were in decline well before sanctions took effect. They were at 3,533 kb/d in December 2011. They are down 826 kb/d since then to 2,707 kb/d. If sanctions were lifted it would take them several months to ramp back up but they would not get to 3,500 kb/d again in my opinion.

Iran, even without sanctions, would be in decline. An aggressive infill drilling program would help but it would mostly just slow their decline rate.

Iran Crude Only production in kb/d. The last data point is February 2013.
Iran Crude Only photo Iran-3_zpsdfac2609.jpg

Ron P.

If they are in decline, then why have sanctions at all? If we want to hurt them, it's better to bled them off of their oil. Long term anyway.

Okay, for starters it is not that we want to hurt them, it is that we want them to stop their nuclear program. Not doing anything would not affect that program at all.

Second, Iran claims to have 154.6 billion barrels of proven reserves. It is likely that the EIA and other energy experts in Washington knows that this is an exaggeration but not a great one. But it is likely they think that Iran has over 100 billion barrels of proven reserves. Therefore, they think, Iran could just ramp up production by a few million barrels per day by simply drilling more wells.

It is interesting that John Bolton, UN Ambassador to the United Nations under George Bush, once said during the short time he had that position:

"Iran says they want nuclear power because they are running out of oil and gas. Well we think Iran will run out of oil and gas in about 300 years."

Ron P.


Do you know of any data sources for global crude only (not C+C)?

No, I don't think any such source exist.

As you know, condensate is a byproduct of natural gas (NG) production, from both gas wells and from associated gas sources (NG produced along with oil).

Based on the OPEC data and based on the high percentage of condensate production in many US shale plays, I suspect that virtually all of the post-2005 increase in global hydrocarbon liquids production (crude + condensate + NGL's) comes from NG sources (from condensate + NGL's).

Using 45 degrees API as a dividing line between crude oil and condensate, it seems likely to me that we have seen no material increase in global hydrocarbon liquids production below 45 degrees API.

In other words, it is very likely that crude oil from oil reservoirs, the stuff that sells globally for $100 plus, has not shown a material increase in production for seven straight years.

Does crude sell for more than condensate? I thought condensate was a preferred fuel stock.

Condensate tends to sell for a different price than crude oil, but whether it is higher or lower depends on market conditions. Condensate yields more gasoline but less diesel fuel than crude oil. Refineries try to balance their production to demand, so if there is too much condensate on the market and demand for gasoline is low, they will pay less for it. At the moment there is probably too much condensate on the US market.

An article from December:

Fifty Shades of Condensates – Where is All This Condensate Going

The breakdown between crude and condensate is highly relevant, because prices of the two can diverge significantly.   A few weeks back RBN showed in a blog series on Eagle Ford crude that purchasers are discounting condensate prices by more than $15/Bbl (see Knocking on Heaven’s Door Part 1).  This was substantiated in a recent presentation by Muse Stancil, where Susan Starr showed that Eagle Ford condensate with API gravity of 60.1 was selling this past July for about $15 a barrel less than Eagle Ford crude oil with API gravity of 42.5.

In any case, the key point is that it is likely that the small increase in global C+C production that we saw in 2012, versus 2005, can almost solely be attributed to natural gas sources, and not to crude oil from oil reservoirs.

Of course, an economist would (accurately) argue that increased production of condensates + NGL's is an example of substitution at work, but they are poorer quality substitutes, with fewer BTU's per barrel than crude oil. Also, IMO they only made an incremental difference and not a material difference, especially in the context of the post-2005 decline in net oil exports.

I always assumed that there would be very little condensate in associated gas. That would be because the condensate would just mix with the crude and be counted as crude production, making it a bit lighter perhaps. But then I am not an oil man so what do I know?

Ron P.

Generally, associated (casinghead) gas has a higher liquids content than gas well gas, offset by generally much lower volumes than gas wells. And as noted above, most of the Eagle Ford appears to be a liquids rich gas play. The associated gas would come from the area with oil production below 45 degrees API.

Would it be possible for you to prepare annual and monthly charts for the OPEC 12 showing total petroleum liquids production and OPEC crude oil production?

Yes I could do that. But the total petroleum liquids production data would have to come from the EIA. OPEC does not publish their total liquids production.

The EIA data for December, and 2012 annual data, is due out in one or two weeks. I will prepare the charts then. However there is a problem. It was only four or five years ago when I started gathering the OPEC MOMR data for OPEC Crude Only. I had to get all historical data by displaying the MOMO for every single month one at a time. That turned out to be an extremely time consuming task. So I only went back as far as 2005. Then I just used the EIA data for the years before that. So my OPEC Crude Only data is only accurate back to 2005.

Currently, for all nations, I only gather the C+C data. But the EIA post it, as well as total liquids data, all on one spreadsheet so it is quite easy just to pull all from there. It only takes a few minutes.

But I will post the data from 2005, OPEC Crude Only and OPEC all liquids per the EIA. Look for it in a couple of weeks.

Ron P.


More info.

EIA Data (Global & Texas):

January, 2006 Global C+C: 73.5 mbpd
January, 2012 Global C+C 75.7

Six year change in EIA global C+C data: +2.2 mbpd

January, 2006 Texas C+C: 1.08 mbpd
January, 2012 Texas C+C: 1.74

Six year change in EIA C+C EIA Texas data: +0.66 mbpd

RRC data (Texas only)

January, 2006 Texas crude: 0.96 mbpd
January, 2012 Texas crude: 1.37

Six year change in RRC Texas crude data: +0.41 mbpd

Assumption: The 0.25 mbpd gap between EIA Texas (C+C) data and Texas RRC (crude) data, 1/06 to 1/12, is almost exclusively due to the EIA counting condensate production.

Texas accounted for 1.8% of global C+C production in January, 2012, but if the above assumption is correct, the six year increase in Texas condensate production accounted for about 11% of the six year increase in global C+C production.

I would argue that the post-2005 story has been one of higher prices causing (partial) substitution for crude oil (increased condensate, NGL's and biofuels production), with probably no material increase in actual global crude oil production for seven straight years--even as the annual Brent price doubled from 2005 to 2011/2012.

However, increased production of the liquid substitutes only made an incremental difference, and not a material difference, in the global net export market, as the developing countries, led by China, consumed an increasing share of a declining post-2005 volume of Global Net Exports of oil.

So, in summary Brent doubled from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011 and $112 in 2012. In response, we had:

(1) Increased condensate, NGL's and biofuels production, all less than ideal substitutes for crude oil.

(2) Probably flat crude oil production.

(3) Declining Global Net Exports (GNE), with developing countries consuming an increasing share of GNE.

I'm surprised nobody posted this.
It could be big news.

Japan Says It Is First to Tap Methane Hydrate Deposit

TOKYO — Japan said Tuesday that it had extracted gas from offshore deposits of methane hydrate — sometimes called “flammable ice” — a breakthrough that officials and experts said could be a step toward tapping a promising but still little-understood energy source.

The gas, whose extraction from the undersea hydrate was thought to be a world first, could provide an alternative source of energy to known oil and gas reserves. That could be crucial especially for Japan, which is the world’s biggest importer of liquefied natural gas and is engaged in an anguished public debate about whether to resume the country’s heavy reliance on nuclear power.

At the end of the article in today's NYT, we see:

“Gas hydrates have always been seen as a potentially vast energy source, but the question was: How do we extract gas from under the ocean?” said Ryo Matsumoto, a professor in geology at Tokyo’s Meiji University, who has led research into Japan’s hydrate deposits. “Now we’ve cleared one big hurdle.”

Perhaps the professor will be proven correct. However, the larger problem is: How fast can these reservoirs be tapped to produce the methane? The article's author includes rather optimistic claims but gives no information about the rate of extraction. Is this another example of fracking a deposit and if so, what will the flow look like over time? One well briefly flaring into the atmosphere doesn't say much about the production over years...

E. Swanson

Yes, of course, good questions.

Still, the simple fact that it could be possible is potentially really significant.
Unlike fracking, this could buy us another 100 years of wasteful industrialism.

100 years of BAU fossil fuel burning is a decent ballpark estimate of what is required to start boiling the oceans.

I'm far from convinced that there's enough hydrate to manage 100 years of BAU, but its certainly a bad idea to use it if there is.

Sure, but that's a different story altogether.

But one could argue it's better to burn methane than to have it released in the atmosphere unburnt (clathrate gun hypothesis).

Could the "savior" be figuring out a way to convert it into Carbon fibers or even bring about a 'Diamond age'?

Dog – Good for them. Someone has to evaluate that potential. But I suspect they have a long way to go. Getting shallow methane to the surface has never been a problem be it hydrates or shallow NG reservoirs. In fact, those deposits are often categorized as drilling hazards and not resources. Thus special efforts are made to prevent them coming up the well bore. In fact, the most common cause of blow outs are those shallow NG deposits and not deep high pressure reservoirs.

The challenge for the Japanese isn’t just the rate but also the pressure. At those shallow depths and how I suspect they are liberating the methane the flowing pressure is rather low. That picture of the flare might impress some folks not familiar with well testing but it’s a rather low volume as a result of the low flowing pressure. Hopefully they’ll figure out how to scale up the volume in an economical manner. But even then some of the produced NG will have to be used fuel compressors in order to get the pipeline pressure up enough to be practical. But the Japanese should be highly motivated and certainly have the technical creds to get it done if anyone can.

From the article:

“The next step is to see how far Japan can get costs down to make the technology economically viable.”

Well how close are they to economic viability? Cost is always the critical thing. We know how to synthesize gasoline from base elements, it just is not economically viable to do so. It is just so much cheaper to start from long chains of hydrocarbons you pull out of the ground.

Researchers Map out an Alternative Energy Future for New York

... a new study finds that it is technically and economically feasible to convert New York's all-purpose energy infrastructure to one powered by wind, water and sunlight (WWS).

The study is the first to develop a plan to fulfill all of a state's transportation, electric power, industry, and heating and cooling energy needs with renewable energy, and to calculate the number of new devices and jobs created, amount of land and ocean areas required, and policies needed for such an infrastructure change. It also provides new calculations of air pollution mortality and morbidity impacts and costs based on multiple years of air quality data.

... According to the researchers' calculations, New York's 2030 power demand for all sectors (electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, industry) could be met by:

•4,020 onshore 5-megawatt wind turbines
•12,770 offshore 5-megawatt wind turbines
•387 100-megawatt concentrated solar plants
•828 50-megawatt photovoltaic power plants
•5 million 5-kilowatt residential rooftop photovoltaic systems
•500,000 100-kilowatt commercial/government rooftop photovoltaic systems
•36 100-megawatt geothermal plants
•1,910 0.75-megawatt wave devices
•2,600 1-megawatt tidal turbines
•7 1,300-megawatt hydroelectric power plants, of which most exist

All vehicles would run on battery-electric power and/or hydrogen fuel cells. Electricity-powered air- and ground-source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps, heat exchangers and backup electric resistance heaters would replace natural gas and oil for home heating and air-conditioning. Air- and ground-source heat pump water heaters powered by electricity and solar hot water preheaters would provide hot water for homes. High temperatures for industrial processes would be obtained with electricity and hydrogen combustion.

Examining the Feasibility of Converting New York State’s All-Purpose
Energy Infrastructure to One Using Wind, Water, and Sunlight

On a quick skim, I didn't see whether they are proposing to replace NY's electrical supply from Niagra and HydroQuebec?

If you are talking about hydro, part of the plan includes hydro, which includes geothermal.

Well, Table 1 says that 8.52 GW of hydroelectric are needed. A footnote directs one to Section 5, which says:

NYS has a hydroelectric potential of 38.6 kW/km2 (5 GW, or 43.8 TWh/yr) of
delivered power (DOE, 2004). It can currently produce about 60% of this. For example,
in 2009, hydroelectric supplied about 26.1 TWh/yr (3 GW delivered power), or 21% of
NYS’s electric power consumption of 131 TWh/yr. Under the plan, hydro will produce
about 3.3 GW, or 5.5% of the total delivered power for all purposes in NYS in 2030.
Hydro currently produces 89% of this amount. Sufficient in-state and, if necessary,
imported hydroelectric power are available to provide the difference. Most additional instate
hydro may be obtainable from existing dams that do not have turbines associated
with them.

So I guess that Niagra, HydroQuebec, and other hydro generate the other 5.2 GW?

I'm still confused.

S – And as usual not even a WAG as to the capital cost to do such a conversion. “The study concludes that while a WWS conversion may result in initial capital cost increases…”.

MAY??? So perhaps they see some way for all this to happen for free? LOL. I suspect it’s just sloppy wording. The article reminds of the USGS when they proclaim X amount of “technically recoverable resources”. IOW if money isn’t an issue this could be done. From what little I understand NY and most states are having a great deal of trouble just maintaining the current infrastructure. And they also seem to ignore the fact that they can’t eliminate the current expenditures for energy while doing the conversion: they have to keep paying for the admittedly horrible energy supply while spending 100’s of $ billions (if not $trillions) on the conversion.

There is a better, more thorough analysis at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacy-clark/mark-z-jacobson-renewable-ener...

They do, in fact, estimate the costs of conversion. To get those details, one has to look at the full study which I don't have as of yet. I think it is premature to make assumptions about how they get from here Obviously, the lay out a case showing its feasible. Whether or not you agree with their numbers is another issue.

Pdf of study: http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/NewYorkWWSEnPolic...

Estimated cost of conversion to Wind Water and Sunlight (WWS) energy system for New York State: $600 billion. Payback time considering only air pollution reduction costs savings (reduced health care costs and less loss of life): 16 years. Payback time for air pollution reduction cost savings + near term (pre-2030) reduction in global warming costs + sale of electricity to New York state consumers (at lower $/kwh than currently charged): 10 years. Payback time for current electricity power plants powered by fossil fuels (via annual electricity sales): 28 years.

The study does include private households and businesses adopting energy efficiency measures to reduce overall energy demand (measures such as insulation, home sealing, LEDs, etc.) The $600 billion conversion cost doesn't appear to include the cost of these energy reduction measures (or the cost of electric cars) to private citizens and businesses, though it does say there should be incentives and rebates. It doesn't assume much conversion of VMT to transit, walking or biking, or the reduced health care costs associated with more active transportation, so even greater health care savings along these lines are possible. For energy storage, it looks like the plan is to store excess energy via hydrogen while also using some excess energy for district heating.

taomom and ts - Mucho thanks. I still haven't had time to dig into the details. I hope some our smarties can run the numbers. More instinct then smarts on my part but that doesn't seem like nearly enough money to cover their wish list.

In-depth analysis of China oil situation ...

Oil development in China: Current status and future trends

... Oil resource availability: Though a consensus has emerged that Chinese domestic production will not be able to match the needed supply (Feng et al., 2008), as evidenced through China’s growing oil imports, it is still uncertain when Chinese oil production will peak. Being more important, another uncertainty is how much oil could be imported to China as the growing gap between China’s oil production and oil consumption have led to broad impacts in many areas including the environment, global markets, and national energy security (Benassy-Quere et al., 2007), and how China could manage to ensure an increased oil supply through energy security efforts (Ma et al., 2011 and Zhang et al., 2009).

... Oil demand: With rapid process of industrialization, urbanization, and motorization in China, it is beyond doubt that the oil demand of China will continue increasing in the near future. For 2000–2009, the annual increasing rate in average of vehicle ownership and oil consumption is 16.3% and 6.1%, respectively (NBS, 2011). Besides, international comparison indicates a huge potential of China’s oil demand growth in the long term (Nel & Cooper, 2008).

... it is widely recognized in China that the development of oil reserves and production has entered a stage of steady growth, and domestic crude oil production could achieve a constant output of around 200 Mt/a sometime before 2030. The discovery of new oil reserves, oil extraction technology improvements, and the development of unconventional oil resources may together greatly postpone the 2011 oil peak predicted by Feng et al. (2008).

... Since 1993, China has been a net importer of oil. In 2000–2009, China’s oil imports increased rapidly, and oil import dependence (OID) surpassed 50% in 2009. Though global oil resources as a whole is still sufficient (IEA, 2008) to satisfy China’s growing oil demand at least before 2030, there are two serious challenges of China’s oil import. One is the energy security risks resulted from regional imbalance of oil resources, and another is the increasing production cost resulted from more and more oil produced by unconventional resources.

... Pricing Policy: To avoid the oil price surge caused by global oil markets, the price of diesel and gasoline will be adjusted by the government if the average world oil price changes more than 4% over 22 working days. Additionally, if the world oil price is lower than $80/bbl, the oil products price will be calculated by normal profit of petroleum processing. If higher than $80/bbl, it will be stablized by reducing the per unit profit until the profit margin reaches zero. Alternatively, if higher than $130/bbl, financial policy will be utilized to insure that oil products pricing remains stable or only increases minimally in order to help maintain stable economic growth.

As oil prices continue to fluctuate and China’s economy continues to grow, how the government chooses to price and tax oil and oil products will have lasting impacts on the physical flow of oil. Current oil pricing policy is very likely to encourage the oil consumption with a relatively low price, and retard the technology improvement of oil refining by influencing the profit of oil refineries.

Future Scenarios: ... looking at the scenarios, the issues of energy security constraints and the oil gap is explored.

... Because crude oil production in China is difficult to be increased further, new oil demand will be mainly satisfied by oil imports, and bring with it increased energy security risks. Considering the huge cost of energy security efforts, China should restrict the total amount of oil imports. This could be implemented by a target of total oil consumption control between 600 and 700 Mt/a in 2030, together with energy security constraints such as ∼12% SOT and ∼65% OID.

PDF Oil development in China:Current status and future trends

Billions up for grabs

It's not logical to give a carbon credit to preserve a standing forest that is already protected. Net CO2 is the same as before the only difference is emitters pay some money to the owners of the forest. That way they're off the hook from carbon taxes but in the physical world nothing has changed. I'd call that result perverse. Alternative example; rob a bank then help a little old lady across the street. The bad act (polluting, robbing banks) goes unpunished.

Since I live on the fringe of the forest area in question I have another concern. It was 38C here yesterday two weeks into autumn when the average temp is 20C. If this happens year after year swathes of forest are going to dry out or get incinerated. The forest will be less of a carbon sink than before adding to the wrongness of this carbon credit idea.

Yesterday was Arbor Day in China. In 2012 some 600 million people helped to plant 2.6 billion trees on this day. Since 1981 64 billion trees have been planted.

A comment in the Chinese media questions where these trees are now? see http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2013-03/12/c_132228421.htm

Netizen "woodcarola" said Tree-Planting Day reminds him of donations that he and his classmates made in high school.
"Our teacher told us the money would pay for trees to be planted in Inner Mongolia in order to prevent sandstorms. But I don't know where our donated trees are after all these years," he wrote.

Sand storms are certainly continuing - see http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=80630#

BTW the Asian Brown Cloud is in South Asia near India not North East Asia above China.