Drumbeat: March 13, 2013

US oil boom 'protects world from supply shocks'

LONDON — SOARING US oil production should be enough to allow consumers withstand most potential supply shocks, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Wednesday, as it cut estimates for global oil demand.

"The oil-producing world today is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation transition of far-reaching consequences," the IEA, which coordinates the energy policies of major consuming nations, said in its monthly oil market report.

IEA Sees Weaker Oil Demand Growth

The International Energy Agency Wednesday continued to inch lower on its forecasts for global oil demand while increasing its expectations of supply growth for this year.

Since January, the Paris-based energy watchdog has cut 200,000 barrels a day from its forecast for oil demand in 2013 and added 200,000 barrels a day to its expectations of supply growth from countries outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC.

"The subdued growth rate of oil demand now looks increasingly entrenched in the face of high oil prices and weak economic growth," the IEA said.

OPEC: Non-OPEC supply cutting into market share

LONDON--OPEC members said Tuesday that demand for their oil in 2013 will be 100,000 barrels a day lower than previously forecast as growing output from non-member countries, particularly North American shale oil, eats into their market share.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cut its forecast of demand for its oil this year in line with its revised expectation that non-members will produce an extra 100,000 barrels of oil a day, compared with last month's forecast. Its outlook for overall global oil demand remained unchanged.

WTI Oil Trades Near Two-Week High as Crude Supplies Fall

West Texas Intermediate traded near the highest level in two weeks after an industry report showed U.S. crude stockpiles fell for the first time since February. The IEA trimmed its 2013 global oil demand forecast.

Futures advanced a fifth day, the longest run of gains since December. Crude inventories shrank by 1.38 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute said. An Energy Department report today may show supplies rose by 2.3 million, according to a Bloomberg News survey. The International Energy Agency curbed demand estimates for this year by 60,000 barrels a day to 90.6 million.

Americans spent more on gas, less at the mall

Retail sales rose 1.1% in February, according to a report from the Census Bureau. That's stronger than the 0.5% increase economists' were expecting. Stock futures turned higher following the report.

The better-than-expected numbers were due mostly to a spike in gas prices last month. Sales at gasoline stations alone rose 5% during February.

UK power and gas spot prices remain near record highs

LONDON (Reuters) - British wholesale gas and power prices remained near record highs early on Wednesday as cold weather and low import and storage supplies left the system tight.

ConocoPhillips says unplanned outage halts UK N.Sea gas fields

(Reuters) - ConocoPhillips on Wednesday said production was halted at its J-Block gas fields in the UK North Sea due to technical issues, adding that output should resume later in the day.

Abu Dhabi to invest in Malaysian oil storage

Abu Dhabi will invest close to US$7 billion (Dh25.71bn) in an oil storage facility in Malaysia.

A paralysed city: The diesel fuel crisis

Though it is not the first time a gas or diesel shortage has plagued Cairo and several other governorates, the recent crisis in Egypt has left the capital city paralysed due to a major strike organised by microbus drivers. It seems these strikes by transport drivers are much larger than they have been in the past. Daily News Egypt investigates the mounting diesel fuel problems in the country, looking at how they are affecting ordinary citizens and what the government is doing in response.

Brazil governors plan new proposal for oil royalties

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Governors from 16 Brazilian states plan a new proposal to distribute revenue from oil production that would avoid a legal standoff and return billions in lost revenue to oil-producing states Rio de Janeiro, Espirito Santo and Sao Paulo, the O Globo newspaper reported Wednesday.

Anadarko Holds Talks With Japan Over Mozambique LNG Supply

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. said it’s in talks with potential customers in Japan to buy supplies from a joint liquefied natural gas plant in Mozambique it’s planning with Eni SpA.

“We are advancing efforts with selective companies in Japan and we’re hopeful that the policy uncertainty around nuclear power and U.S. exports does not cause them to miss out,” said Steve Hoyle, vice president of LNG marketing for the Woodlands, Texas-based company. “None of those things are going to be clarified anytime soon.”

Chemical And Gas Suppliers Battle Over LNG Exports

The U.S. is in the midst of an energy transformation. Technologies that free fossil-fuel reserves, once trapped in shale, have radically shrunk natural gas imports. By 2020, the nation is expected to produce more gas than it needs. As the country approaches this milestone, it faces a question long asked in other countries with abundant energy resources: How much should we use at home and how much should we sell abroad?

Europe Gas Carnage Shown by EON Closing 3-Year-Old Plant

Three years ago, Germany’s largest utility spent 400 million euros ($523 million) building a natural gas-fired power station. Later this month, the company may close the plant because it’s losing so much money.

EON SE’s Irsching-5 in Bavaria last year operated less than 25 percent of the time as slumping power prices made burning natural gas unprofitable by record margins. As Europe’s weak economy holds back electricity demand, cheaper coal, requirements to buy renewable energy and the collapsing cost of carbon permits are undercutting gas-fired plants.

Coal to Gas Moves Are Generating Economic Waves

Shifting from coal to gas hasn’t triggered the financial tailspin about which many utilities had warned. But it has created an economic wave, which is fostering the next-generation of energy jobs while also helping to clear the air.

Saudi Arabia’s Shale Plans May Be Slowed by Lack of Water

Saudi Arabia may need at least a decade to develop shale-gas production to a scale comparable to the U.S. because of the desert kingdom’s short supplies of water, state oil company officials said.

Shale gas is produced by a technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which massive amounts of water, chemicals and sand are blasted underground to free trapped hydrocarbons. Finding the necessary amount of water in the regions where Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is exploring for shale gas will be difficult, according to Amin Nasser, senior vice president of upstream at the company known as Saudi Aramco.

Canadian Natural Weighs Shale Sale Amid Glut

Decisions by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Talisman Energy Inc. to sell almost half a million acres of natural gas-soaked rock threaten to depress prices for land that drew a record premium last year.

YPF CEO Says Not Waiting for Chevron to Explore Shale

YPF SA, Argentina’s largest oil company that was nationalized 11 months ago, is planning to boost capital investments by 60 percent as it “aggressively” explores shale, the chief executive officer said.

“We’re not waiting for Chevron” Corp. to develop shale, CEO Miguel Galuccio told reporters at company headquarters yesterday after reporting fourth-quarter profit that almost doubled to 1.02 billion pesos ($207 million), or 2.59 pesos a share, from 535 million pesos, or 1.36 pesos, a year earlier. Galuccio said YPF and Chevron have been meeting weekly to hammer out final details of their accord. The second-largest U.S. oil company has almost two months to seal the deal.

Ripe oil market offers window to amp up pressure on Iran - report

(Reuters) - Global oil market conditions are ripe for the West to further pressure Iran over its nuclear program, but the window will likely close next year as fuel demand is expected to rise in Asia, a report to be released on Wednesday said.

For most of the past decade, a tight oil market limited the ability of Western countries to use sanctions to dampen the nuclear ambitions of Iran, one of the world's top crude producers, said the report by the nonpartisan Securing America's Future Energy and Roubini Global Economics.

India Said to Line Up OPEC Alternatives to Iranian Supply

OPEC’s biggest oil producers are in talks to supply extra crude to India as the nation prepares to halt purchases from Iran because of global sanctions, four people with knowledge of the matter said.

Indian refiners, which are waiting for an order from the oil ministry on whether to stop buying Iranian cargoes, are discussing annual term contracts with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait for the year starting April 1, the people said this week, asking not to be identified because the information is confidential. While the volume hasn’t been set, the Indian companies have been told there is enough supply to cover the loss of Iranian crude, the people said.

How much trouble is Iran's Ahmadinejad in for hugging Hugo Chavez's grieving mom?

When the Venezuelan government released the photograph of Ahmadinejad and Elena Frías, 78, embracing, most of the world — even the Iranian leader's Western critics — probably saw it as "a rare glimpse of a firebrand politician's softer side," says Robert Mackey at The New York Times. But the hardline clerics who run Iran saw something very different: "Proof that the Islamic Republic's official representative had flouted that nation's absolute ban on physical contact between unrelated men and women."

Peak Everything: Industry At a Crossroads, Says Nestlé Waters North America

Like Peak Oil, “Peak Everything,” as Richard Heinberg calls it, doesn’t mean we don’t have the resources; it just means that they are getting progressively harder and more expensive to get and, in many cases, their quality is declining. The environmental cost of getting them out of the ground is also going up.

The Deluge

Rapidly advancing technologies are opening up astonishing sources of oil and gas all over the world. We are entering a new era of fossil fuels that is reshaping global economics and politics—and the planet.

Peak oil apocalyptoids: eating crow yet?

In 2008 when prices started dropping, we asked if the peak-oil apocalyptoids were ready to eat crow. We ask again. Awful quiet, guys.

But don't you Cornucopians gloat either. Your faith that science and capitalism will bring endless plenty is hardly vindicated. We had to call out smarmy New York Times columnist John Tierney on his 2005 bet with energy analyst Matthew Simmons that oil would not reach $200 a barrel by 2010. Technically, Tierney won. It got close, but never reached this point—the "Crude Oil Price History" at FedPrimeRate.com tells us the price peaked at $145 in 2008. But guess what happened that year that sent prices down again? Right, it wasn't the genius of capitalism that saved us from $200 a barrel but the crisis of capitalism. And the very process of bringing new oil sources online requires periodic price spikes. So both the Peaksters and the Cornucopians just don't get it.

Asians Hunt Gas Treasure Locked in Ice Beneath Seabeds

Japan and India, Asia’s biggest energy consumers after China, are closer to unlocking natural gas deposits trapped in ice below the seabed that may prove bigger than the world’s known fossil-fuel reserves.

Can Japan Freeze American LNG Exports?

The United States cannot approve or build liquefied natural gas, or LNG, export terminals fast enough to appease countries looking for cheaper energy. While there are many destinations from Europe to Asia that will be on the customer list, perhaps the most obvious finish line is Japan. The island nation is at the world's mercy for much of its energy; it's the world's largest importer of LNG, second-largest importer of coal, and third-largest net importer of oil.

Japan is acutely aware of its dependency on foreign sources of energy and is feverishly seeking cheaper power supplies. But even the pursuit of American gas, which is about one-sixth the price of Asian market prices, has not stopped the country from looking for longer-term solutions. Japan's latest idea, if successful, could fundamentally change the global market and have major implications for domestic natural gas.

Ohio’s Resurgent Natural Gas Industry Spends Millions to Set Up Shop

LOUISVILLE, Ohio — The countryside in eastern Ohio is marked by rusting tanks that stand in open fields and along the edges of family timber patches, like graveyard headstones for an era of energy riches that most people here thought had passed.

Petroleum from this region once supplied John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil refineries in Cleveland, 70 miles to the north. More than 6,500 conventional oil and gas wells have been drilled here in Stark County over the decades, according to state records; most no longer yield enough fuel to market. But natural gas buried in shale thousands of feet below the surface is attracting more than $1 billion in private investment and rapidly reviving the area as an energy producer.

BNY Mellon Criticized in $400 Million Chesapeake Fight

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. and a group of noteholders were criticized by a judge in their bid to force Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) to pay $400 million in extra interest if it loses a lawsuit over its attempt to redeem $1.3 billion in notes early at par.

Fire burns after tug, barge hit La. gas pipeline

LAFITTE, La. (AP) — A pipeline fire that was ignited when the pipe was hit by a tug boat pushing an oil barge burned into the early morning hours Wednesday in a bayou south of New Orleans.

There was still liquid petroleum gas in the 19-mile pipeline and authorities were waiting for it to burn out, Coast Guard Petty Officer Alex Washington said.

Head of U.S. Nuclear Watchdog Emphasizes Preparing for Unknown

Appealing for a shift in emphasis on nuclear safety, the new head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned a gathering of more than 3,000 industry executives, experts and government regulators on Tuesday against relying too heavily on their ability to predict the future, and suggested that when it comes to commercial reactors, the industry and the government should be ready to deal with the unknown.

Uranium Rally Falters on Japanese Nuclear Delays

Uranium’s rally from a three-year low is stalling amid signs Japan, once the world’s third-biggest nuclear power producer, will keep all but a handful of its reactors offline this year.

Nuclear fusion is the 'perfect energy source'

(CNN) -- Until recently, fears of peak oil and dependence on Middle Eastern suppliers were the key factors shaping our energy policy, pushing governments to scramble for fossil fuel alternatives. Then came shale gas, tar sands, and other unconventional sources. Industry found ways to affordably extract fuel for decades to come. So many are now imagining an end to the energy crisis. That's a dangerous mistake.

First, even the most optimistic predictions leave our grandchildren exposed to an uncertain future. More immediately -- and maybe more importantly -- burning fossil fuels is the number one cause of global warming and its catastrophic consequences.

We need to innovate alternative energy sources now more than ever ... and our choices are limited. There are few viable options that will preserve the levels of prosperity that modern industrial economies have come to expect.

In Search of Energy Miracles

At a legendary but secretive laboratory in California, Lockheed Martin is working on a plan that some employees hope might transform the world’s energy system: a practicable type of nuclear fusion.

Some 900 miles to the north, Bill Gates and another Microsoft veteran, Nathan Myhrvold, have poured millions into a company developing a fission reactor that could run on today’s nuclear waste.

And on the far side of the world, China has seized on discarded American research to pursue a safer reactor based on an abundant element called thorium.

Beyond the question of whether they will work, these ambitious schemes pose a larger issue: How much faith should we, as a society, put in the idea of a big technological fix to save the world from climate change?

Energy talks with Hydro-Québec failed in 2009: Emera

Officials from Emera Inc., Nova Scotia Power’s parent company, gave up on negotiating a long-term supply of renewable electricity from Hydro-Québec as early as 2009, according to a regulatory response filed this week.

Wall Street May Lose in $541 Million Suntech Bond Default

Global demand for solar panels has slowed as government support waned, driving prices down 20 percent in 2012 and prompting losses at the Chinese manufacturers that make up the majority of the 17-member Bloomberg Global Large Solar Energy index. Government agencies and China Development Bank Corp. have provided support to at least two struggling solar companies this year, averting the Asian nation’s first onshore bond default.

PG&E solar billing named in California’s top utility ‘money wasters’

"PG&E still uses manual billing for solar customers, decades after nearly everything else has been computerised. Customers, of course, foot the bill for this antiquated approach - time to switch from abacus to automation," said a Sierra Club statement.

"These efforts not only cost Californians money, they block the expansion of local clean energy like rooftop solar. It’s time for big utilities to ditch the dirty energy projects support clean energy solutions like rooftop solar."

US energy efficiency league tables revealed

The Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of cities with the most Energy Star rated buildings is an indicator of how serious each is taking efforts to cut energy use.

California held six places in the top 25 including Los Angeles in the number one spot and San Francisco at number six.

Washington DC, Chicago, New York and Atlanta made up the rest of the top five.

Rains or Not, India Is Falling Short on Drinkable Water

That people in one of the rainiest places on the planet struggle to get potable water is emblematic of the profound water challenges that India faces. Every year, about 600,000 Indian children die because of diarrhea or pneumonia, often caused by toxic water and poor hygiene, according to Unicef.

Half of the water supply in rural areas, where 70 percent of India’s population lives, is routinely contaminated with toxic bacteria. Employment in manufacturing in India has declined in recent years, and a prime reason may be the difficulty companies face getting water.

And India’s water problems are likely to worsen. A report that McKinsey & Company helped to write predicted that India would need to double its water-generation capacity by the year 2030 to meet the demands of its surging population.

China plans first commercial trip through Arctic shortcut in 2013

OSLO (Reuters) - A Chinese shipping firm is planning the country's first commercial voyage through a shortcut across the Arctic Ocean to the United States and Europe in 2013, a leading Chinese scientist said on Tuesday.

Huigen Yang, director general of the Polar Research Institute of China, told Reuters that the trip he led last year on the icebreaker Xuelong, or Snowdragon, to explore the route had "greatly encouraged" Chinese shipping companies.

Tom Mulcair goes to Washington, tells Americans that Harper is ‘playing people for fools’ on environment amid

WASHINGTON — In a whirlwind visit to Washington this week, Opposition leader Tom Mulcair is bearing an entirely different message from that brought by the parade of Conservative leaders who recently invaded the U.S. to sell the Keystone XL pipeline.

In meetings with U.S. lawmakers and business executives, Mulcair is telling Americans the Canadian government is “playing people for fools” by claiming that its environmental record is world class and that it cares about climate change.

Carbon Drops to Second-Lowest Close After EU Permit Sale Fails

European Union carbon permits dropped to their second-lowest close ever, after the bloc canceled an auction of permits for the first time as bids failed to reach a secret reserve price.

What is the underlying value of EU carbon?

(Reuters) - The uncertainty over prospects for the European Union emissions trading scheme is so great that it justifies current low carbon permit prices - which may even be a little high by one method of estimating underlying value.

The scheme faces a range of possible outcomes in this decade. These range from a cancellation of up to 1,900 million or so surplus EU allowances (EUAs) following on from reforms now being planned and which would greatly boost confidence, to total scrapping of the market, which is unlikely.

The rise of ‘natural sustainability’

The latest entry is "natural sustainability" - the Finnish researcher Mari Luomi's term for using resources in a way that allows for present and future prosperity without excessive harm to the environment. Ms Luomi, who has consulted for the Qatari government and conducted extensive interviews and research in the region, examines what she calls the "natural unsustainability" of Abu Dhabi and Qatar in her book The Gulf Monarchies and Climate Change, which came out late last month.

What's the "value" of EU Carbon? To the Vulture Capitalists - the same as Carbon.

30 percent – Investment banks often buy up carbon offsets before a project is up and running, and they take an average 30 percent of the total in profits and operations.
About 30 percent of the funds go into actual projects that reduce emissions


Study: Up to 47 quadrillion becquerels of cesium-137 released into Pacific from Fukushima — Nearly 50 times original Tepco estimate


License denied for U.S. nuclear reactor — First time in history NRC has upheld denial

"Fukushima Daiichi: A Chronological Account of the Disaster"

And under "Does someone know something I don't"

Intrade, the worlds largest prediction market, has shut down suddenly, leaving customers with a worrisome and cryptic message upon their website. What 'circumstances' has Intrade recently discovered that has IMMEDIATELY caused them to cease all trading activity? They've announced that they have 'closed and settled all open contracts at fair market value as of March 10th, 2013' to 'mitigate any further risks to members accounts'.

What's the "value" of EU Carbon? To the Vulture Capitalists - the same as Carbon.

This article is over three years old and you have probably pasted it here over 100 times. It was nonsense spam the first 99 times and is nonsense spam now. And you must know this.

Even the article you posted basically cites the source as a biased press release.

Any investment bank, or anyone else who bought credits anytime in the last five years lost money.

I am not even a proponent of carbon trading, but posting this same article so many times is trolling.

Any investment bank, or anyone else who bought credits anytime in the last five years lost money.

Interesting claim.

Got proof?

(and how sad is Mankind that "saving the planet from CO2" has a prime motivator of a gain of money. The same motivator which created the problem in the 1st place.)

As for the rest of your claims - do feel free to show the bookkeeping on Carbon reduction projects that show how much or little actually goes to the Carbon reduction. Do show how the Vulture Class of "Investment bankers" and their ilk are not at all impeding Human progress WRT basic Human needs*. Keep in mind in this very drumbeat it was pointed out how the vampire squids want 26% to gain access to water and elsewhere these same "people" took a $250 million dollar water processing project and made it a $3 billion project - including a $3 million 'go away payoff'.

* We'll call Carbon reduction a basic human need for the sake of the argument, M'kay?

Look up carbon prices. They have fallen. If you buy something and the price falls you lose money. It's obvious.

I actually put quite a lot of effort into debunking this story the first ten or so times I saw it posted. I don't think you can reasonable post a three year old story 100 times and demand someone replies in detail each time. In fact, I think the right solution would be for The Oil Drum to ban you from reposting it.

There was a lot of hysteria back in 2009 about Goldman and carbon markets. But carbon markets are effectively dead. No one is making any money in them and investment banks have much bigger fish to fry. I think everyone else has moved on. You should too.

I notice you don't even try to deny posting this three year old second hand press release 100 times.

Look up carbon prices. They have fallen. If you buy something and the price falls you lose money. It's obvious.

Hrmmm. I believe the original claim was:
anyone [else] who bought credits anytime in the last five years lost money.

As the bar for proof is "It's Obvious"

For that broker to be paid the brokerage house has to know of a seller of Carbon credits, buy them, sell them to their client and be able to put money in the pocket of the broker and the company.

So there is at least 1 party making money on Carbon prices - the vampire squid class.

But carbon markets are effectively dead. No one is making any money in them and investment banks have much bigger fish to fry. I think everyone else has moved on. You should too.

My point in posting the information is not about Carbon markets.

I notice you don't even try to deny posting this three year old second hand press release 100 times.

And rather than actually discuss the place of the vampire squids in the whole idea of Carbon control you instead make a statement of you have probably pasted it here over 100 times. then later make the above statement which changes from a guess to a "fact".

Discussion of the number of posts someone THINKS someone has made of a link isn't the point of TOD.

Driving up the price of carbon through taxes would also be using money as a motivator. Presumably, in order to save money, a certain percentage of people would reduce their consumption. Our market system, of course, uses money as a motivator and a demotivator. People, along with companies, respond to price signals to make decisions about what products they choose to buy. This is just a fact and pricing carbon takes advantage of this reality.

Some of us choose to reduce our carbon emissions with little or less regard to the price of that carbon -- just because we think it is the right thing to do. It probably would be a better world if everyone thought that way. But it isn't. In setting policy, you have to deal with the world that it is.

Whether one is pricing carbon directly or rationing carbon to let the market set the price, one is trying to take advantage of people's desire to maximize their monetary welfare through profits or money savings for the individual.

This is to say that everything should be privatized under the illusion that this is the best way to provide basic necessities of life. I am on a water board and we are quite efficient at providing water to the water district at a reasonable price. I would never consider privatizing it. This doesn't mean, however, that we should pretend that people don't respond to price or that we should simply appeal to their sense of public duty in pursuit of water conservation.

This is just a fact and pricing carbon takes advantage of this reality.

And this idea of placing a price on Carbon - where is that resulting money going to?

Will it be used to cover the shortfall from the reduction in revenue in other taxing programs?

Obviously, the money could be used to fund other programs. Or most of it could be rebated per James Hansen. Personally, I would use the money to fund conservation, efficiency, solar, wind, and anything else which would further reduce carbon. Or, instead of direct rebates, people could be given the opportunity to invest in ways to cut their carbon further.

Alternatively, other taxes could be reduced to make the program revenue neutral. I have a problem with that because this mostly favors those paying income taxes and millions of people in lower income categories don't pay income tax. Accordingly, the tax would be regressive.

While regressivity should be generally avoided, I can also see the benefits to a general consumption tax as we would be taxing consumption while possibly reducing taxes on incomes and property. Carbon consumption should be emphasized but there would be a benefit to overall consumption reductions.

I appreciate your concerns about the big banks profiting from this and think it should be directly administered by the government. Even the bankers are making money off the food stamp program.

Another concern I have is with rebates. I think this would dilute the program as people would just account for their rebates as making up for their extra consumption. That is why I favor plowing back into carbon reducing programs.

Obviously, the money could be used to fund other programs

The problem would seem to be:
1) More energy into the economy translates to economic growth
2) Taxing Carbon would reduce energy into the economy
3) Taxes revenue are the result of money changing hands
4) More economic growth means more money changes hands

If the above are all valid "facts", then the creation of a Carbon tax should mean tax revenues would drop elsewhere. The parties who have their hands out for that non Carbon revenue to use themselves would feel they should get a hunk of the Carbon tax cashflow.

Now someone has to have modeled the tax revenue effects of a Carbon tax - but I've never seen this model. If anyone knows of where one is, can you post a link to it?

I appreciate your concerns about the big banks profiting from this

Given the regulatory capture of large corporations of all stripes any new law structure translates into those entities having influence in the process leading to their net benefit.

CISPA/SOPA may be an expression of attempting to protect high profit for low energy output business models and therefore get more of a hearing than the citizens. (or it could be they just pay more to the congress in contributions because not every action has diddly-squat to do with energy and our future - even on TOD)

The problem with all this is that it's just too complex or complicated. Much of the work being done today apparently is just to maintain civilizational complexity... How's that working out?

Under Gail's recent TOD article, I mention one of KunstlerCast's more recent cast about (Vermont-focused) secession. Local seems simpler, more understandable and in touch with real democratic control.

Overlaying money, taxes, bureaucratic layers on top of all kinds of other layers is just asking for trouble.
(Perhaps this model you are looking for doesn't exist by the way.)

Where Carbon is Taxed

British Columbia’s carbon tax ... revenues are being returned to taxpayers through personal income and business income tax cuts

This is what I don't understand. What is the point of taxing the producer and paying the consumer? (California has a similar scheme.)

All it does is add an extra bureaucratic step into the cycle. Producers will charge more, but consumers can pay more. So what is the net benefit?

Only if the carbon tax removes CO2 from the atmosphere, or prevents CO2 from reaching the atmosphere, is it justified. Anything else is just a boondoggle.

Presumably, it's to encourage people to move to lower-carbon sources. If you do that, you can pocket the refunded money, rather than spend it.

Personally, I like this idea. I doubt it will happen here in the U.S., but I think it would be a good idea.

If you just tax, say, gasoline, it hurts the poor. Even if they don't have cars, they will pay via higher public transportation costs, higher prices on goods shipped by truck, etc. The point of giving back the money is so they can afford those higher prices.

But...you are also giving people incentive to use less. Maybe to move to a place closer to where they work, or to buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

It also rewards people who are already doing their part. People who are biking to work or live near their workplaces get a bonus.

If you believe a Mad Max crash is imminent, then yes, there's no point. But if you don't, then this kind of scheme could be a good way to move people toward the post-carbon age with minimal mayhem.

This is essentially the scheme the UK uses and probably much of Europe for that matter. I hate it when people talk about the high gas prices in Europe without mentioning the taxes, which make the price high, don't just magically disappear.

There was a discussion on the last Drumbeat (and many other times, of course) regarding ecological footprint/how many planets it would take to support current western lifestyles, etc. Paul Chefurka used to post here (and still does on occasion, I believe) as GliderGuider. He has an interesting and slightly different way of looking at this over on his website: Thermodynamic Footprint It puts human impact on the planet in quite stark perspective:

Smiley face

An interesting graph which suggests that population growth, as explosive as it is, is not the problem, but population + consumption. However, the two seem to feed on each other. The more people there are, the more socialization there is, and thereby increasing pressure to consume.

What is also interesting is this graph seems to favor the case for catabolic collapse rather than doomsday. The human equivalents have a long way to drop, it's probably not going to happen as quickly as we think.

Which makes it all the worse. We are never going to get collapse over with, it's always going to be with us.

EB - Yes, they definitely feed on each other (good choice of words). But I agree more with Fred's words below such as brittle and fragile regarding how far into the thermodynamic stratosphere the interplay has taken us, and given all the overlapping, interdependent resource usurpations (FF, soil, water, NPK, food, biodiversity, stable climate...) that are required to keep us at that level, I foresee precipitous, not catabolic collapse.

Notable to me are how TPE explodes after WWII (baby boom, green revolution, etc.) but then manages to go even more vertical @2000 (China).

clifman, thanks for the link to Paul´s website! I have been trying to get a better handle on the total thermodynamic impact of all of humanity´s energy use and their implication for the planet´s ecosystems for some time now. Paul seems to have done an excellent job of putting it all in a nut shell! Portraying a rather sobering picture at that.

It seems we with our industrial civilization have somehow managed to construct a completely artificial ecosystem to sustain ourselves. This artificial construct has now become overly complex, brittle and fragile and it is now encountering physical resource limits.

Ecosystem Thermodynamics meets Joseph Tainter...

Exergy is the amount of work a system can perform when brought into thermodynamic equilibrium with its environment.

Exergy indicates a system´s distance from thermodynamic equilibrium: The higher the exergy, the farther the distance.

The more structure an ecosystem has, the more exergy it can capture and utilise but the more it also needs for maintenance.


How odd...I was reading comments to an article over at The Automatic Earth before coming over here and was going to post a graph by Chefurka myself...hadn't seen the name in quite a while! He has indeed created a helluva page.


It's the price of oil graphed against the Food Price Index...showing...FPI leading oil.

The thing that stunned me was the closeness of the correlation. For you math geeks, the correlation coefficient of the two data sets is 0.93!

The next thing that's fascinating is that changes in the Food Price Index appear to lead changes in the price of oil by a few months. Since food prices don't drive oil prices as far as I know, this implies that they are both responding to the same underlying situation, but that food prices are a more sensitive indicator.

I think there is a pretty simple explanation for the correlation given that we're only talking about the last 10 years and not some longer period.

1) In the last decade, both food and oil prices have been driven by financial events -- "the value of money has become more volatile" is the main story.

2) Financial speculation can exacerbate price swings in at least the 2-3 month range for oil and most certainly in the 3-12 month range for grains.

3) Economic troubles have an impact on demand for both oil and food but there is more flexibility to reduce oil consumption than food consumption. That's why oil prices went down faster and haven't come back as much.

I suspect the food-leading-oil angle is spurious and a result of a combination of stochastic events, especially weather.

Is regional politics non-deterministic? I think so. Here's what wikipedia says about Stochastic:

In probability theory, a stochastic system is one whose state is non-deterministic. The subsequent state of a stochastic system is determined both by the system's predictable actions and by a random element.

The food-leading-oil angle is also an artifact of the visual presentation of the data. In 2004-2004 oil prices lead food prices upwards. And in 2008 oil prices bounced upward from their lows earlier and faster than food prices. So you could argue that oil prices led food prices. A better presentation would be % change in price from previous month/year.

It's an interesting angle for a story but it's only that.

Just my 2 cents.


Thanks, clifman. Yes, I'm still here from time to time.

I was recently informed that my concept of the "Thermodynamic Footprint" is identical in all respects to the concept of the "demotechnic index" developed in 1975 by Canadian ecologist and population activist Jack Vallentyne. He was the man behind the removal of phosphates from the world's detergents as well as the author of the book "Tragedy in Mouse Utopia" about the work of John Calhoun.

I hunted up an online paper about Vallentyne, and have subsequently used his thinking to refine my own approach. The similarity in our work includes the reasoning behind the use of "technological energy" as a proxy for our impact on planetary systems; the use of the generated index as the "AT" term in numerical representations of the I=PAT equation; and using the index to permit the calculation of the "thermodynamic population equivalent" represented by our technological energy use. I find this convergence fascinating, given the differences in our backgrounds and that we arrived at the idea from completely different directions.

It turns out that my original estimate of the human Thermodynamic Footprint were very close to Vallentyne's numbers, but I wimped out and watered down the numbers a bit. I'm about to rewrite the article to bring it more in line with Vallentyne's work. Here is a more recent graph of Thermodynamic Population that tells an even worse story than the one currently posted on my site:

The current Thermodynamic Footprint of humanity is about 130 billion Human Equivalents, give or take a few billion. By 2040 we'll be pushing on 200 billion. Urk!

From the NYT today:

Chinese Solar Panel Maker on Financial Brink

It looks like the "price war" in solar PV may be about to end...

E. Swanson

As Leanan posted above, Wall Street May Lose in $541 Million Suntech Bond Default. I've been expecting a shake up in PV markets for a while; too much exuberance in China, reduced subsidies and incentives, US tariffs... It's one reason I jumped on $.64/watt when I did. Not sure how this Suntech restructuring[?] will affect their production and overall prices as there are still plenty of manufacturers cranking out quality panels (I see JAP panels still available for $.63/watt; single panels, not pallet price). Too bad Suntech is closing its AZ assembly plant; from your link:

Suntech announced Tuesday that it was closing its factory in Goodyear, Arizona, at the cost of 43 jobs there. The factory put aluminum frames and electrical junction boxes on solar cells imported from China, so that the fully assembled solar panels would qualify for “Buy American” programs.

Those of you who have been waiting for prices to drop may want to get your orders in. 2/3 of the Suntechs I recently ordered are producing nicely as I type. Off to build another rack.

I expect another wave of anti-PV propaganda, as naysayers use this as evidence that PV isn't viable.

Ghung – it will be interesting to see how this all shakes out in the short and long run. Might be a bit similar to the cycles we’ve always had in the oil patch. Short term production is sold even below cost to maintain cash flow. The weakest companies are bought by the stronger and thus increase capacity below historic costs to do so. OTOH the cycle eventually swings back as the cheap inventory depletes and competition shrinks. Add that to a potential increase in demand as we stumble down the PO path and PV prices start escalating.

I think that's exactly what we're seeing, the only difference being that, those who stock up now before prices go back up won't have to "refill their PV tank" for another 25 years or so. The PV situation seems remarkably similar to the natural gas glut. Interesting that both seem to be going through a similar process, at about the same time. I expect we'll see the same happening in many of our supply chains, perhaps sooner than later. Most folks have no clue as to how connected all of this is. As Gomer Pyle always said "Surprise! Surprize!..."

I'm seeing PV balance-of-system equipment being discounted as well; perhaps a knock-on effect of a PV glut going bust.

Ghung - Between an very well insolated home and not very expensive e- I haven't been motivated to take advantage of my flat roofed garage. But if prices do drop that far into the cellar I might have to get serious. OTOH my MS may rot away what little common sense I have left long before I reach payout so perhaps investing in Blue Bell ice cream may make more sense. LOL.

Workweek Tying Longest Since WWII Spurs Hiring at U.S. Factories

The last time U.S. factory workers put in longer weeks than they averaged in February, Rosie the Riveter was on the assembly line and American GIs were fighting Nazis in Europe.

All those extra hours helped to drive five straight months of manufacturing growth in the U.S., racking up 52,000 new factory jobs, according to Labor Department data. That includes 14,000 positions in February alone.

Auto industry is booming.

I can't help but feel that it's like reading an article saying how we've shoveled in more coal and cranked the boiler pressure up higher than we have in years, so we can get the train moving as fast as we can toward the cliff. Yeah team! Let's hear it for BAU, happy days are here again!

For those who were wondering what our response will be to the crises we face - well, here it is.

Pumping up the auto industry is literally insane.

The bailouts will continue to grow at an exponential rate.

I predict another auto industry crash. Gas prices will eventually make another jump up, people will stop buying the gas guzzlers, the gas guzzlers that people bought will hit the used market en masse thus depressing prices further, without the gas guzzlers selling the most profitable part of the biz will be gone . . . thus another auto biz collapse.

It would be interesting to do business knowing that whatever happens the bailout is there. Arguably the US auto industry has been operating that way since the 70s. But these days there is no doubt. The Bailouter in Chief has indicated he "would do it again." Sort of a worst case scenario.

Yes, I detect another automobile crash coming. The previous round of bailouts didn't fix any of the underlying problems, which makes another crash inevitable. Society has to reduce its dependence in the automobile, many of the existing auto manufacturers need to go out of business, and many of the auto workers need to be retrained for other careers. All this should happen BEFORE the next crisis to reduce the amount of pain and suffering, but it looks like we'll go the maximum pain and suffering route, just like last time.

There appears to be a serious bubble of unrealistic expectations developing about "American energy self-sufficiency." I did my own bit to contribute to this illusion by developing unconventional oil technology, fracking, oil sands, etc, but I don't think it did more than postpone the inevitable. When the bubble bursts (again!) it's going to be messy.

My solution has been to have a new hip put in (it didn't cost any more than a mid-size new car) so I can walk again, and first chance I get, I'm going to get an electric bicycle. Problem solved (at least from my perspective.)

My solution has been to have a new hip put in (it didn't cost any more than a mid-size new car) so I can walk again, and first chance I get, I'm going to get an electric bicycle. Problem solved (at least from my perspective.)

Way to go Rocky! +10

Way to go...I have been told that I will need one (the right hip) within a year - and perhaps the left in a few more. Loss of range of motion and aches-pains are proceeding right on schedule.

Will that be metal-metal, polymer-polymer, ceramic-ceramic - or some combination thereof. The choices are mind numbing.


I went for the Birmingham hip resurfacing procedure in which they grind down the head of the femur and glue a chromium steel ball to it, and then put a matching chromium steel socket in the pelvis.

It's technically more difficult than a total hip replacement, in which they cut off the head of the femur and put a spike with a titanium ball in it and then match it with a plastic socket, but it asks longer - 30 years for a chrome/steel Birmingham hip vs 15-20 years for a titanium/plastic total hip replacement. I come from a very long-lived family and I don't want the darn thing wearing out before I die... And if the Birmingham hip wears out, they can cut off the head of the femur and do a total hip replacement.

I've had really good results with it. I was walking with crutches the day after the operation, out of hospital and off narcotic pain killers in two days, was kicked out of physiotherapy for lack of problems after a week, back doing aqua-fitness after two weeks, and after three weeks I've given up on crutches, canes, and walking sticks and am back walking the dog with no aids.

Gosh, RMG, I hope they've worked out the problems that Kunstler had with his metal-on-metal hip:

Little more than a week ago, I was boned like a Christmas turkey on an orthopedic operating table. This was due to yet another diminishing return of technology. I'd been living with an "innovative" metal-on-metal hip implant that was being pushed for younger hip replacement patients back around 2003 as "longer-lasting" than the old metal-on-plastic joints. It turned out the devices were improperly tested. Huge numbers of them failed. The simple abrasion of the ball-joint assembly parts released cobalt and chromium ions into the surrounding tissues, destroying bone and muscle and inducing metalosis - systemic metal poisoning...

Well, none of these devices is perfect, but the BHR implant has a pretty good track record. It has been in use for 15 years now, and has about a 97% success rate. Some of the other metal-on-metal implants have had had much higher failure rates and have been recalled by the manufacturer.

I discussed this with my surgeon before the operation. He is one of the top surgeons in his field. One of the other guys assisting him designs these things for a living and wanted to see his technique. I was awake during the operation, but everything was going on behind me and all I heard was the sound of power tools. Myself and the doctors all hung around the pool at the luxury condos we were staying at after I got out of the hospital and discussed it.

The only problem I had was that I developed a wicked bruise the full length of my leg, but they explained that the had drilled kind of a pressure relief hole in my femur during the operation, and it probably leaked fluid afterwards. They said it would go away after a few days, and it did. Other than that, no problems.

Well, there was a problem because the other surgical assistant went scuba diving and developed the bends, which tied up another doctor who had to sit in the hyperbaric chamber with him while he recovered. They decided to institute a "no scuba diving for doctors on duty" rule to prevent this happening again.

This was in the Turks and Caicos islands. Sun, fun, and surgery. While I was recovering in the luxury condo my wife and sister-in-law went snorkelling with my Patient Advocate. I mean, if you are going to pay cash up front for surgery, you should go for the best value. My wife and sister-in-law had a great time at my expense. Most people's wives were anxiously waiting for them to come out of surgery, but mine went swimming instead and showed up a few hours later. She figured I was in good hands, so why worry?

This is a totally different experience than Kunstler had, but he was probably relying on insurance and wasn't on a first-name basis with his surgeon. And he didn't have it done in some tropical paradise.

RMG - Just curious - Did the Canadian health care system pay for any of your procedure, or would they have if you had opted for it?

No, I was queue jumping by going offshore to have my operation. I could have it done for free in Canada, but I would have to wait 10 months for it. That meant waiting 10 months in pain and screwing up my entire year (trip to France this summer for a family wedding, sea kayaking in Mexico this fall, skiing this winter) or paying cash up front and having it done offshore the next month.

In a better designed medical system, I could pay cash and have it done in Canada instead, but the somewhat socialist governments have made that illegal. Most countries, including nominally socialist ones, give people the option of going private rather than waiting for the public system to get around to them if they want to pay for it themselves. It's one less bill the taxpayer has to pay.

The queues are so long mainly because the Alberta government doesn't want to fund so many surgeries. In this case, in Alberta, the surgeon only got OR time on Mondays. That week Monday was a holiday, so he couldn't get the OR to do any surgeries at all. Instead, he went to the Turks & Caicos islands and did 12 operations on knees and hips in a week. 5 were for Canadians who were queue jumping, and 7 were for local islanders who otherwise couldn't afford it (he did them on a pro bono basis.)

It was the same surgeon as in Canada, a hospital built and staffed by a Canadian company to Canadian standards, and an ideal climate to recuperate in vs a Canadian winter. The surgeon said it was the best-equipped OR he had ever been in. The doctors were surprised by how fast their patients recovered in vs their patients in Canada.

I could have gone to the US to have it done, but that would probably have cost twice as much (I had some interesting talks with the doctors about the usurious nature of the American medical system). I could have had it done in India cheaper, but then I would have to worry about Indian medical conditions. As it was, it cost me about the same amount it would have cost the the taxpayer in Canada, for the same level of treatment.

The company organizing it was actually started to provide cheap medical services to Americans without health insurance, and hadn't realized until now that there was also a market for Canadians who weren't willing to wait. However, if you had a choice between buying a new car, or spending one less year walking around crippled in pain, which would you pick? For me the choice was obvious. My old car was still running pretty well, my old body not so good.

Interesting story. I read that first sentence: "No, I was queue jumping by going offshore to have my operation." My very first thought - "Probably still cost less than the US. Likely even with "insurance."

I could have gone to the US to have it done, but that would probably have cost twice as much (I had some interesting talks with the doctors about the usurious nature of the American medical system).


If you haven't run across this article it's pretty revealing.

Excellent. You are going to have a bit more fun getting around like that as well, which is a nice bonus. Based on your health info below though I'd just dispense with the motor and go with the regular old human-powered bicycle. The body benefits greatly from riding up some hills. If you need to, ride slow in a small gear. Slow is safer anyway.

Depends on how far you need to go, how big the hill and what you need to carry. I live up a pretty big hill in San Francisco. On my regular bike, I can't ride up the last three blocks; I have to walk and push my bike every time I come home. I ride my regular bike 90% of the time, but for groceries and heavy items I ride my electric bike and zip up the hill no sweat (although I do have to pedal).

I started out urban biking riding my electric bike 100% of the time and then realized I really preferred to be under my own power. Got myself a much lighter, fun to ride bike that is admittedly much better exercise. But I wouldn't discourage someone from an electric-assist bike. All sorts of interesting things may follow.

Well, as you attest, the regular bike is better. It is more fun, and provides exercise. Most people who buy electric bikes don't really grasp these things, as you didn't when you bought yours. I'm not trying to discourage anybody. Quite the opposite.

"Well, as you attest, the regular bike is better. It is more fun, and provides exercise."

pfffft! I've put a multiple more miles on my bike after electrification and when the battery dies I'll "get the lead out." Might re-purpose the motor to a BB drive instead though, downrate the controller and go for an internal hub.

That's probably the real deal...internal hub, bottom bracket drive - you can do a lot with a little if you have the right gearing.

If you haven't seen this super-low power assist you should give it a gander: http://www.recumbents.com/mars/tetz/E-Assist.htm

My design goal was around 100 input watts to the motor and less than 10 pounds total system weight. It came in at 4.2 pounds ! -- That’s every thing – motor/freewheel assy/mounting bracket, battery, electronic controls.

With the assist at a low power setting the speed is 5.5 mph (30% increase) which the spreadsheet says is a total climbing power of 164 watts which if I had to do this would drop me into some number of minutes to fatigue. But with the assist which is delivering 50 watts to the wheel that reduces my power to 114 watts and ups my time to fatigue to 2.2 hours. 50 watts doesn’t sound like much but this clearly shows how it doesn’t take a lot of help to climb up that steep capability curve.

This makes a lot of sense to me.

I rememeber a couple years back, with my then 5yr old daughter on a 'Tagalong' bike trailer with pedals, and going up a hill, her tiny input was giving me a truly noticeable boost during the weakest parts of my stroke, buttering the climb just enough.

It used to be a similar situation helping a car out of the snow, where a set of 'boots on the ground' pushing would add just the right kind of missing traction, but without all that much actual horsepower- and get the vehicle travelling again.

Good note for the purposes of this site.. 'With the right application, a little power can do a lot more than people expect.'

'With the right application, a little power can do a lot more than people expect.'

Indeed. To put it in more context the average feller on the street can put out about 100 Watts over a decent period of time. Based on values from a stationary bike I "cruise" at about 80 watts and "sport" at 110.

So adding 100 Watts of e-power would essentially double my effort. Most motors are direct drive to the wheel, however, and miss out on the torque multiplication and being able to sit in a consistently higher and efficient RPM range.

I have a 24 Volt system with 10Ah PbA battery (240 watt-hours) and "450 Watt" motor (output, the controller is 30amp! (720 watt!)). I can't even use full throttle because of the voltage sag. I'll typically use half throttle when pulling away from stoplights (so I don't have to downshift)...but only 1/4 or less when going uphill. One ride I kept track of the mileage...went 12 miles, lots of hills, only e-boosted uphills - came back home refreshed and not dead tired feeling like crap like usual for a ride like that - still had some juice left and could have gone further. Used less than 21 watt-hours per mile (250/12) - probably between 10 and 15 guessing by the remaining voltage.

So a 12 mile hilly ride and 15 watt-hours per mile and I come back feeling better than I left - totally worth it.

I live on a mountain, not a hill, and I have several hundred feet of vertical climb to get back to my house. I can do it in the bottom gear on my mountain bike (with no cargo), but I have to push my road bike up the hill. I figure the best way to get back from downtown with a load of groceries is with electric assist. I'll probably still have to use bottom gear and pedal, but at least I won't be totally exhausted when I get back home.

And of course my joints aren't what they used to be when I was younger. They can't take the loads any more. (Maybe they never could, which is why I need new ones.)

Keep riding up that mountain in your granny gear, RMG. It's the best thing you can do for yourself. I wish I lived on a hill that I could be riding up at a moment's notice. It's precious geography for a human. I have to ride for an hour to find a decent hill.

I'm not one of those fitness Nazis but let me ask -- How many times have you tried it? I ask because riding up a several hundred foot hill will typically cause significant unpleasantness if you're not used to it. You might think to yourself, damn, I never want to do that again. But the second time you try it you think, damn, that wasn't nearly as bad as it was the first time. After just five or so attempts the body has responded in amazing fashion. After ten tries you are literally not the same person, and the hill that caused such pain and distress now seems like a pleasant diversion. You are actually having fun climbing the thing, looking forward to it. Hills like that can be conquered a lot easier than people realize. Persistence pays off. If you've pedaled up the hill numerous times and it just aint happenin, I apologize for making you read this paragraph.

I'm not a big fan of e-bikes as you might have guessed. Most of them are low-quality, super heavy bicycles with motors attached. They are literally about twice as heavy as they need to be, which kind of kills the purpose of making it easier to go up hills. You get about 25 extra, purposeless pounds to haul around. This also makes the bike a pig to ride in a normal fashion, and the only fun that's left is in the motor's extra power. Manufacturers can get away with this because e-bike buyers are not usually experienced cyclists or discerning bike buyers. They don't understand what a load of dung they're buying. To them, a bike is a bike. And they are way overpriced, for the same reason. In addition, e-bikes make it more easy for users to move more quickly than is safe on flat surfaces, so they get the extra danger of a motorbike without the exercise benefit of the bicycle, which is one of the best things about the bicycle.

If you're trying to go car-free, a motorbike could certainly be a useful addition to your stable. Otherwise, just keep pedalin.

I would say I'd rather it be reversed, be on the bottom of a bigish hill. That way I would get the cooling breeze at the end of the ride. Being on the top of a hill. I am on top of a small (20M) one, and it doesn't help with the postride sweating. Best to have several minutes of effortless windchill at the end.

Yes it is always nice to have a nice, easy coast home after a long hard day of bicycle riding, whereas I have quite the reverse. Here to Banff and back is a nice, easy cruise, and then I have this d*mn hill to climb.

In backcountry skiing it is particularly nice after a day of hard skiing to have a long, easy run downhill to the lodge, a warm fire, and a glass of brandy. I hate it when you've done a hard day skiing, and then having to climb UP to the lodge sitting at the top of the mountain when you are already totally exhausted - which you always are, of course. You wouldn't have come back if you had any energy left for another run.

I hate to break it to you, but I'm already in shape, (or was before my hip conked out) so doing it over and over again doesn't help much. You can only get so good, and that's not good enough. Everybody except the Olympic athletes (of which we have not a few around here) hate this hill.

The Olympic athletes love it - you often see the Canadian Nordic Ski Team skiing up it on their roller skis, and occasionally the Russians and Germans, but that's because they are practicing for the Olymipcs. I'm not in the same league ultimate capacity-wise. And I'm getting old, so I think electric assist is the way to go.

It's too bad the Gruber Assist is a bajillion dollars:

It's like a cordless screwdriver that fits down the seat tube and drives a special bottom bracket.

There are external ones like the Stokemonkey which drives the stoker side of a tandem crank set: http://clevercycles.com/blog/products/stokemonkey/

Bosch's ridiculously complicated integrated bb drive: http://www.electricbike.com/bosch-cannondale/

This is what I'm hoping to see more of...Bofeili - this one is modified and many people wouldn't take a second look...batteries are in the bottle, electronics in the bag, and the motor is integrated into the bottom bracket: http://www.nalizadeh.com/ebike/pics/bbm.jpg

A factory "stealth" machine from Bofeili: http://youtu.be/kG3Drv2ocGE

One doesn't need a lot of power to make a big difference, but putting it through the gearing makes the most of it.

Hills are evil - there are some people who enjoy going up them and I do not know why. I used to get super fatigued going uphill and felt terrible all of the time - if it was hot sometimes I'd feel like I was about to pass out. Wasn't until I started riding with a heart rate monitor that I realized that I was going over 200 bpm on many hills. Now I typically ride and when HR monitor alarms at 170 I start feeding in throttle to hold it there or a little below. I feel good after rides now and not like I want to die.

As far as Auto Addiction facing the rising tide of Peak Oil we already see this ironic result linked above on the "unexpected" 1.1% increase in retail sales:

Americans spent more on gas, less at the mall


This has happened before to cheers by ever cornucopian analysts who never look "under the hood" (or in this case inside the oil supplied gas tank! lol) to what is really

How can it be a "good thing" for the economy when US Auto Addicts are forced to shell out ever increasing amounts of their dwindling income for gasoline?

Because that will teach them faster than anything you or I could say, just which side of their Crude-buttered-toast has truly landed on the floor.. and the unthinkable will finally become the obvious.

This has happened before to cheers by ever cornucopian analysts who never look "under the hood"

Oh yeah, but you have to understand that the economy is doing great! Rah, rah, sis boom bah, go Team USA! Ignore the higher cost of oil or QE govt. purchased bonds holding the bond market together with bailing wire. Ignore any of the bad info. and just concentrate on the good as we go to Mars and beyond. We're back baby!!!

We spent more on gasoline and thus GDP has gone up . . . Hurray!

Ironically, that is exactly what the economics statistics reflect . . . if we spend more on gasoline that means the economy is doing better. Go Figure.

Reading thru this thread I'm kinda suprised that so much of the focus was on the auto industry rather than on the statement in the article that factory hours were the highest since WW2. That tells me that my thoughts earlier in the day regarding supposed technical progress is all BS. If the average factory worker is working the highest number of hours in almost 70 years they have either traded their leisure time for stupid toys or have benefitted hardly at all from 70 years of productivity increases.

Of course there are far fewer of them so all of those ex-factory workers who are now cleaning hotel rooms or flipping burgers have done even worse.

I think it's just that coming out of a recession, employers were reluctant to hire. They'd rather pay overtime than hire more workers, until they're sure the rebound is for real.

What is says to me is not that workers are more materialistic or that productivity hasn't increased, but that this jump in demand was not expected.

And maybe also that it is cheaper to pay some overtime, then to have to pay benefits (health insurance and other fixed overhead) of yet another employee. I think that's the main reason employers don't want to offer less than forty hours per week, their cost per hour goes up.

quite agree,

What with the increase in taxes and the price of gasoline it is hard to figure an increase in retail sales and drop in unemployment.

Here is a link to Truthdig:


Twilight – As has often been said on TOD: when all you have is a hammer all your problems look like nails. Almost every politician I hear, R & D, seem to be saying the same thing: everything will be fine if we just get back to doing what we were doing in the “good ole days”. The fact that we don’t have the resources available, at least at the costs we once had, doesn’t seem to be factored in.

You know what I do for a living. The oil patch has known for long time it’s not possible to develop oil/NG production as we once did. That’s why the smaller companies have thrown themselves into the shale plays so hard and the big companies have gone Deep Water and international. They had no choice: we all know the hammers we once had can’t get the job done as they once did. Obviously it would be great if the auto industry saw building electric vehicles as a better hammer than ICE vehicles. But, just like the oil patch, their job is to do what’s best for their economy and not the country overall. They have a lot of infrastructure in place for producing ICE’s and that’s their hammer. The oil patch has $100 oil and frac’d horizontal well bores…that’s our hammer.

In both cases neither we nor the auto industry are addressing society’s problems. And that’s despite what those warm and cuddly Chevron and Ford truck ads seem to be saying. LOL. We’re trying to fix ourselves. That’s our job. It’s the people and their elected political leaders who are responsible for the rest of the mess. We’re only responsible for our messy part of the world.

Yes, and this is what I expected. What is interesting to me is in taking a step back and looking at it as an experiment in social collapse. So many years of discussions on TOD about what we could do, should do, will do, and reading Diamond and Tainter and Greer and others about what happens to societies that collapse. This is why. While it seems like we can do something else, like we have choices, this is demonstrably false. It's just an illusion built upon our cultural myths. Quite obviously the collective we cannot do these things.

So many times this cycle has repeated throughout history - this is collapse, this is what it looks like and what it feels like. I see in things like this that the systems we built were fit for a particular purpose and cannot be re-purposed to do things very different from that. This leaves us without any sociopolitical systems capable of performing useful function in a new reality, while the old ones actively try to suppress change.

So we get tings like this, and a hundred other examples. Our society is not capable of useful change, and it will not change in any sufficiently useful way. It will collapse.

Down the bumpy staircase according to Greer and others. He thinks it has been going on for decades now - take a look behind the facade - but, hey, there is still a lot of energy in the system, and tribute barges arriving from the empire (call them trade imbalances), and we Brits still think we can get away with it if we stop calling ourselves Europeans. Mystifying at times!


I couldn't agree more that society is going down. This is one reason I seldom post on TOD anymore. Aside from the fact that most of my links would be considered OT, I really don't see much purpose in trying to convince people that their "reality" is doomed.

I think most TODers know I do a weekly email Update newsletter and it allows me to present lots of stuff that is totally inappropriate for TOD. But, sometimes even I get worn down looking at doom every day. That's life.



Collapse is turning out to be psychologically harder than we thought, and physically easier. It's psychologically harder because BAU keeps popping up its ugly head, and we can never seem to knock it down no matter how demonstrably false it is. This is akin to slow torture...being a prisoner in a hall of mirrors and actually having doubts about whether everybody else is insane, or you are.

On the other hand, physically, life goes on. There's still electricity, still some fuel to be had, the water flows and the food is delivered. Nothing too exciting.

"On the other hand, physically, life goes on. There's still electricity, still some fuel to be had, the water flows and the food is delivered. Nothing too exciting."

As often gets pointed out when this is brought up - "The collapse is here - it's just not evenly distributed"

It's only collapse for some. I have an "eroding cliffs" model:

Good visual metaphor. How firm's the sand under your feet, everyone?

Well I have to give the auto industry some credit for now building some EVs and PHEVs. For decades, all people could do was build home conversions. There are now many plug-in cars available from many of the big auto-makers with more on the way. And it is not easy for them since at this point these vehicles are thin-profit at best and more likely money-losers.

But in the long run, the electrification of light-duty vehicles is the future. Eventually, the cheaper fueling cost of EVs will out-weigh the higher up-front cost of an EV. The difficulty is appreciating that requires a customer with a long-term view. And consumers are notoriously short-sighted.

Fix ourselves. right, that's the thing. So I have decided to go for all PV and the stuff it can drive. Heat pump, car, all the other widgets. Get off petroleum, propane, and-sort of- wood. My new fantasy is to have a big air thermocompressor (AKA Bush engine) out in the shop driven by wood and generating electricity for all the stuff when no sun.

I ran a sort of standard free piston engine-alternator (see sunpower.com for way more than you want to know) on a wood gasifier last few months but decided it was out of question as a real commercial product since it used helium and a linear alternator and was made from bits of expensive
R&D rejects.

The thermocompressor uses air and pumps it over a turbo-generator from a motorcycle turbocharger. Easy to get.


Hi Wimbi, people are always saying you can't buy commercial stirling engines. But you can! Here's a triple for 349EUR:

- http://www.en.boehm-stirling.com/hb33.html

Beautiful engineering. We're buying one where I work to run on ethanol from fermented grass juice :)

Nice but crazy complex toy. What i am trying to do is make one that anybody could make/buy and that would put out kilowatts. Thermocompressor is simple and can be made out of cooking pots and stuff from mechanical catalogs. Big, slow air compressor. Easy to make in ordinary machine shop.

I'll be interested in what you come up with. I'm not too happy to pay $31 for the pdf that is at your link without seeing it first. Even if I was an IEEE member it would be $13.

Sorry, bad choice, try this one


Thermocompressor is just a displacer bouncing up and down in a closed cylinder and chasing air between hot and cool ends of cylinder. Air pushed to hot end, gets hot, pressure goes up, check valve lets air out to a high pressure tank, displacer reverses, pushes air to cooler end, pressure goes down, check valve lets air in from low pressure tank.

Now we have a high pressure tank of air and a low pressure tank of air. Worlds of opportunity there!

>> Nice but crazy complex toy <<

OK, so what else is commercially available? Or open-source available?

Yes, that one is designed to be nice looking.

But please allow me to introduce you one that you could make and would do work.

http://volodesigns-sterlingproject.blogspot.com/ (all open source - see kickstarter)

If one wants plans for a working engine

http://www.ve-ingenieure.de/stirlingshop.html (Today this engine is put under a Creative Commons licence (Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike - Under 30 Euro for the drawings)

Commercial engines - Now those are "harder" to find. Solo I believe sold their division off. Someone bought the ST-5 and has never made more of 'em. STS is under bankruptcy protection - I believe they ended up with the Catapiller patents. Whispergen makes a stirling product one can buy. Now down to $10,000 for a 1Kw unit. Less then 1 dozen CHP products announced and as far as I know - none one can buy at the sub $3000 price point.

If you want to use the stirling to make cold air to liquefy the gasses - those are commercial options.

All true. Stirlings reign supreme in only two tiny corners of human endeavor- cryocoolers and space isotope power. Both are of course big bucks per watt. Real big bucks.

The german engine looks good, but I wonder why not free piston? Gets rid of cranks and all that and runs same thermodynamically. Both cryocoolers and space engines are free piston. Pump gas over a turbine/alternator for power.

The thermocompressor engine I am making at the moment uses parts right out of a materials catalog- I use McMaster- pots, rods, bearings, springs. Real simple. I have made-actually, assembled- most of it in a couple of days work. My above-mentioned aerospace derivative engine - similar to a MEC-worked, but way too complex so I quit using it to get on the thermocompressor.

The german engine looks good, but I wonder why not free piston?

You build what you know and perhaps the creator didn'y know/understand free piston in 1992

"It was designed by Dieter Viebach in 1992 to promote microcogeneration with biomass fuels. "

A majority of U.S. auto suppliers say they will need to hire more hourly and salary workers this year to meet demand, said David Andrea, a senior vice president for the Original Equipment Suppliers Association. Some 62 percent said they are already running extra shifts or otherwise altering the workweek to get more hours out of existing workers. GM, Ford Motor Co. (F) and Chrysler sales have surged since the 2009 recession, when GM and Chrysler were bailed out in an $80- billion government rescue program. Ford, which didn’t take government funds, relied on $23 billion in private financing and labor cuts.

U.S. auto sales may rise to 15.1 million this year from 14.5 million last year, the average estimate of 18 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg in January. They hit a 25-year low of 10.4 million in 2009.

Vehicle sales growing, that's interesting. Flies in the face of oil becoming unaffordable, maybe there's some reason behind this.

UK production and sales of cars are also rising. This is in part a rebound effect, because a large fraction of UK purchases are by business fleets, and they can only delay renewing thier fleet for so long because of rising maintenance costs and loss of hire customers. Small and efficient cars continue to rise in popularity. Conversely the UK is also a major producer of elite, expensive and inefficient luxury brands and these are all booming as the rich flaunt their riches ever more.

Sadly, European manufacturers who focus on domestic low price market, and have the most efficient fleets for sale, are suffering dire losses as the poorest are priced out of the new car market altogether.

New cars are bought by people who can afford inefficient vehicles.

To edit my own post, new cars bought by people who think they can afford inefficient vehicles.

I think it is the natural culmination of the effects of the massive "car culture" propoganda campaign. A vast majority of people will not, CANNOT, envision anything other than a massively overpowered car as one of the top achievements / possessions of their lives - to the extent that they will sacrifice nearly everything including their very own health to keep feeding the beast (hey we can still afford gas and car payments if we just eat from the dollar menu each day).

Similar to what others have stated it's stories like these that make it clear that our response to seeing the looming cliff will be to mash the accelerator that much harder to the floor - "since we're going over we might as well get some good air with this sucker..."

Re: "car culture" in the US

They cannot envision anything else because they've never experienced anything else. Outside of New York and Boston, most of the US has rudimentary public transit at best. Cars represent freedom because they ARE freedom - freedom from being stuck at home, freedom to go places public transit doesn't go, freedom to go out at night and stay out late when public transit doesn't run, freedom to not base your day on public transit schedules and routes. Also, freedom to work - I can't tell you how many job ads have "must have own transportation" and in them. If you don't have a car, you are limited to what is nearby.

Add to that the reality that walkable areas are few, and basic needs for walking like shade and a reasonable amount of space to walk in are typically ignored, well, a car comes to represent more than just "freedom" but also just neccessity. 6 lane streets, 10 lane highways, and 2 foot sidewalks with signs and streetlamps blocking the way.

When you've never seen or experienced something else, or your experience with buses and public transit is NOT being able to get around quickly or easily, then a car suddenly becomes really valuable. Yeah, you WILL eat ramen for that, because your choice is ramen or nothing.

Yeah, I was gonna post something like this. We are not tricked into buying cars with some 'car culture' propaganda. Car culture is the only thing we've ever known at this point. Car advertisers advertised to get you to buy THEIR car not just a car.

There is a younger generation getting less cars. But I doubt this is due to lack of want. They want a car but with student loans, fuel costs, maintenance, insurance, and car payments . . . they just can't afford it.

They can't afford it, and so they tell themselves they don't want a car because their smartphone keeps them in touch with their friends.

A good example of how "tastes" or "preferences" change to suit economic realities.

My son in urban Seattle could afford a car (had one); he has a decent full-time union job with benefits. Since he can take a short bus ride to work at U of W, even walk on nice days, and shares an apartment with two other people who share one old car, he decided it wasn't worth it. He would rather save the money for other things like school and, quoting him now, "steak and shrimp".

A lot of them can afford it, but feel it fails a cost-benefit analysis. Cars only decline in value and have to be replaced every few years.

My solution in going to unversity was to sell my car to pay tuition, and take out a much smaller student loan than otherwise. After graduating, I paid off my student loan (in about 9 months, I got a really good job) and THEN bought a car. A cheap used car of course. I only bought a new car after I was pretty well established and owned a house. And then I bought a new truck instead of a new car because I needed it for hauling lumber to renovate my house.

Cars are a really lousy investment compared to university degrees and houses.

"Cars are a really lousy investment compared to university degrees"? That was in the past. Now lots of college graduates get jobs no better than high school graduates do.

Having a university degree is no guarantee of getting a good job. You still have to be ambitious, hard working, and willing to pay your dues working at unpleasant jobs until you get established and develop a reputation in your industry. And you have to be willing to change career paths if the one you chose isn't working out.

And one degree isn't enough today - both of my nephews have Masters degrees, and one of my brothers-in-law has four degrees, including an MBA and a PhD in Engineering. If I was starting out today, that's the route I would choose.

The thing about a degree is that it makes you more promotable. You know a lot of things that high school graduates don't (or at least you should know more, anyway). Once you get further up the corporate ladder, the ability to read and write advanced technical papers and understand what the engineers and economists are saying begin to count.

Certainly, when I graduated from university, a lot of my high school buddies were making a lot more money than I was in my first job, but after 20 years, they were still in the same job making the same money, whereas I was telling upper management what their next strategic move should be, and making pretty decent money doing it.

Amen to that. Degrees are not guarantees. I have a degree in engineering and an MBA, but alas I also have a "f#ck you" attitude and walk out of jobs readily.

Consequently I am scraping by on very little money. My sister, with nothing more than Shorthand and Typing, but determination and a pleasant, willing attitude, just retired comfortably off after years of managing a branch of an industrial metal distributor in a very male-dominated industry.

And one degree isn't enough today - both of my nephews have Masters degrees, and one of my brothers-in-law has four degrees, including an MBA and a PhD in Engineering. If I was starting out today, that's the route I would choose.

1. Timing is everything, too. Personal example.

Myself: A.S. degree back in the early 90s, worked towards a BS in Computer Science, didn't finish. Jumped into dot-com world with a good salary (back then) starting at US$50k/yr. Current salary US$80k-$100k/yr range.

My 10yrs younger sister: Double Master's. Cum laude graduate. Graduated as a millennial if I remember correctly. Currently cannot find full time work as a high school teacher since moving to Oregon a few yrs ago. Currently a stay-at-home mom that wants re-join the full-time workforce.

The thing about a degree is that it makes you more promotable.

2. Agree about graduate and post-graduate degrees provide promotion potential. I have no illusions I will never ever go 'up' from my past 15yrs of working titles. I am just blessed/lucky to be well compensated for what I have done for the past 10yrs or so, despite my 'invalid' education level ("Gattaca" movie reference).

Actually almost all of my coworkers would LOVE to take public transit to commute to work as I do. And although it is circuitous and difficult even in New Jersey, more densely populated than China to do so, a couple have switched over. They just got sick of the endless angst of driving in traffic jams, never knowing when an accident might happen which could lead to an hour delay. Trains are 95% on time.

But as I have pointed out before, we have a HUGE potential in the US to convert.
The Brookings study showed that ALREADY over 70% of working age Americans in the top 100 US Metro areas only live 3/4ths mile from a Transit stop. We just need to run the trains and buses. Here is an amazing difference from NJ/NY area - 70% of
New Jersey commuters who work in NYC take Green Transit. But only 6% take Green Transit when they work within New Jersey. That is solely because of the myopia of Transportation planners who call in-State local Rail riders like myself "incidental"
riders. They plan everything as if you are going TO New York and FROM New York even though their own ridership figures shows that New Jersey riders actually represent
60% of their riders. So if you are going locally you only get a train because you happen to be on a train going to NYC which just happens to stop at other points along the way. They have pitiful off-peak service, weekend service or connections.

Costwise, since Teabag Gov Christie increased some Rail fares 60% there is NO operating subsidy to public transit which used to be $300 Million per year for over 365 million rides, i.e. less than $1 per ride, your costs of parking in even small towns!

Also compared to the $78 Million wasted on just one highway interchange, or $15 million wasted for two local roads interchange rebuilding 2 miles from my house.

The potential is enormous but slowly but surely some cities are getting the value of Green Transit.

Mass transit is only compatible with a dense urban geography.

There is no way mass transit works with single family houses on 1/2 acre lots--and this is the priority with the vast number of Americans.

I spend time on Google Maps and I love to Street View places I read about. I am constantly amazed how large American lot sizes are. In the US, each man is an island.

Years ago I used to deride Americans with ride-on mowers. I now see they are a necessity -- there's just too much grass to be mowed.

Too true. My priority when I bought my first flat was (price, obviously) and proximity to the railway station. That was 25 years ago. And it was the same 12 years ago and would be now, if I were to move again. I have never bought a new car - always second-hand. The current car is just back from an annual health check ('MOT' as it is known in the UK) and is 10 years and 185,000 miles old. The railway station is 250 metres away.

The downside is that I don't have a 1/2 acre lot (probably more like 1/10 acre). However, on that walk to the station I pass: 1 petrol station, 1 pub, 3 hair dressers/barbers, 3 estate agents, 4 restaurants, 3 convenience (food) shops, 3 fast food outlets, 1 florist, 1 tanning salon, 2 cafes, 1 snooker/billards club, 1 print shop, 1 second-hand furniture shop, a cash machine, and usually, 1 or more of my neighbours, also on foot. Plus a load of small offices and other houses and flats. And, of course, there is the bus stop, which has buses running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You get used to the noise and the people, mostly!

You PASS the pub!!!

In order to have a viable public transit system, as a guideline you need at least 8 dwelling units per acre rather than 2. That is still not very dense - it gives an average lot size for single-family houses of around 50x100 feet. That may not be very big for suburb oriented Americans, but it is pretty big by European standards.

Americans just need to downsize their expectations. They are no longer the fat cats of the world but are trying to live far beyond their means. With reduced expectations they could still live very comfortable lives.

That 8 dwellings/acre(or more) figure probably sums up my neighbourhood density. The houses are mostly semi-detached with own gardens (typically 2,000 sq feet living space), and there is some infill of flats (2 and 3 story buildings, so not over-imposing). It leaves enough greenery to give the sense of 'own space' and 'outdoor'. I think what would surprise may US residents is the mix of residential, flats, offices and shops in a small area.

I lived in a trailer park many years ago. That lot was 40 by 100, just right for a single-wide (14' X 66' by actual measurements.)

If you didn't have much it was enough. If you were content to drink away the excess cash, then you didn't have any space-using stuff. That actually was a popular option in that locality.

I used to live on a street which was divided into 25x95 foot lots. This was too small for most people when it was first developed, 100 years ago, so they bought 2 or 3 of the lots (they probably cost $100 apiece back then) and built modest little cottages on them.

After I bought my place (an old 1100 sq ft 2.5 story Victorian style), the neighbourhood started to go seriously upmarket. The little old ladies and gentlemen sold out and moved into retirement, and developers bulldozed each cottage and replaced it with 2 or 3 Victorian-style houses which looked just like mine but much bigger.

By the time I sold out myself, the street was completely built up with 2000+ sq ft Yuppie mansions on 25x95 foot lots. They had to use underground parking to fit parking for the BMW's and Merc's into the lots, and they didn't have much of a yard, but that didn't seem to discourage the lawyers and executives. They didn't have much spare time to cut grass, anyway. And they all seemed to be happy, including the families with kids.

So you are challenging the Brookings 2 year study of Census data, jobs and transit which showed that 70% of people live 3/4th mile from a Transit stop? Come on this is the myth that the Auto Addiction lobby has been peddling for years. It is certainly true that more density makes Green Transit easier but it is a lot more accessible than the Auto Lobby tries to make it. In New Jersey which has plenty of 1/2 acre lots, still 50% of people already live within walking distance of a train station. A very few of my neighbors have bigger lots. They can still walk down my Hill to the train station or the periodic bus (frequently late) and they do.
The problem is that this is not leveraged.

My train station has almost 4 hour gaps in service and they cut direct weekend service to Hoboken, a major hub for North New Jersey in 2006 replacing it with trains only every 2 hours requiring a transfer. This has happened all over the US since 2008 as municipal transit systems pay off the banksters interest rate swaps they got conned into before the crash. Many of these systems are suing for billions to stop paying the banksters. And then they could restore at least the service pre-2008 or even increase it.

Again to point out that 79% of Americans live in urbanized areas according to even the Federal Highway Administration, promoter of Auto Addicted roads.

Well yes if the choice is between the two ends of the spectrum - I think that's true...

But the propoganda isn't about car vs. no car - there is a continuum - people *could* "sacrifice" and drive smaller cars but I still continue to see far more newish SUVs and pick-ups than small cars. People take any momentary hiccup in the rise of gas prices to justify buying new trucks and SUVs - those stories are on here repeatedly, separated once in a while during the worst of the price run-ups, with articles about small car sales going up.

People want horsepower and speed and a car to be everything BUT just a way to get from point A to point B and the "car culture" has absolutely done everything it can to not just get people in cars but to have them embrace the least efficient ones possible.

That was my main point and perhaps not made too clear - but people probably could eat a bit better than ramen and have "a car" but they don't want "a car" - they want "$600 per month payment and another $500 a month in gas car" - and given the choice between other, better uses for their money, they'll choose to sink it into their wheels...

You're right there. I think partly because they ARE a big purchase, they are a big indicator of social status. It's very hard to pry people away from things like that, though... Telling them a small car, an economic car, or a used car is better for them doesn't mean much if they are trying to project their social status. And the thing is, sometimes it works - the people that project status get mates, get jobs, etc.

Ain't no easy way to fix us monkeys.

That said, it's not set in stone. At least sometimes it can be used in a better way, like with the Prius. The combination of high tech, fuel economy, and percieved "greenness" (well, greener than the alternatives) have made it very popular. Not just with greenies, but with techies and with people who like to show off how sensible they are (ironic, I know).

If somebody could make a prius for the truck set, it would help tremendously. I don't know that you can do that entirely on purpose, though, even with the Prius the marketing angle wasn't what led to runaway success, it was people driving them and liking them. The first generation Prius and Honda's Insight didn't do nearly as well.

Vehicle sales growing, that's interesting. Flies in the face of oil becoming unaffordable, maybe there's some reason behind this.

Yes, there are some reasons.
1) People held onto their old cars for much longer . . . but you can't do that forever. Some of those old cars are finally giving up the ghost and people are buying new ones to replace them.
2) Low interest financing. With the Fed's ZIRP, you can get pretty low car loans these days.
3) Longer financing. Perhaps driven by the fact that people realized they could make their cars last longer, people have been signing up for much longer car loans. The AVERAGE car loan is now 64 months! That is nearly 5 and 1/2 years! That is crazy, IMHO. What happens if gas prices shoot up 3 years from now. Lots of people will be stuck with gas guzzlers with years of payments left on them. The value of those cars may significantly drop in price such that they may end up with underwater car loans. Then what? Repo man? Insurance fraud? Grin & bear it?

It is a yet another bubble. Hope springs eternal, I guess.

I think you're spot on there speculawyer. It's all just another debt fuelled bubble created by the Fed's printing presses and the Government's desperate attempt to stimulate the economy. They're now buying sugar to save financiers from bond defaults, they'll end up buying every distressed asset at this rate and backstopping every subprime loan.

What we seem to have is a centrally planned economy going for broke while using perception management to convince everyone things are just dandy. Reminds me of the Soviet Union just before it collapsed.

'Yesterday Senator Tom Harkin introduced S. 544, “a bill to require the President to develop a comprehensive national manufacturing strategy.”'

The Gospel of Consumption: And the better future we left behind

There was, for a time, a visionary alternative. In 1930 Kellogg Company, the world’s leading producer of ready-to-eat cereal, announced that all of its nearly fifteen hundred workers would move from an eight-hour to a six-hour workday. Company president Lewis Brown and owner W. K. Kellogg noted that if the company ran “four six-hour shifts . . . instead of three eight-hour shifts, this will give work and paychecks to the heads of three hundred more families in Battle Creek.”


The new managers saw only costs and no benefits to the six-hour day, and almost immediately after the end of the war they began a campaign to undermine shorter hours. Management offered workers a tempting set of financial incentives if they would accept an eight-hour day. Yet in a vote taken in 1946, 77 percent of the men and 87 percent of the women wanted to return to a thirty-hour week rather than a forty-hour one. In making that choice, they also chose a fairly dramatic drop in earnings from artificially high


The company responded with a strategy of attrition, offering special deals on a department-by-department basis where eight hours had pockets of support, typically among highly skilled male workers. In the culture of a post-war, post-Depression U.S., that strategy was largely successful. But not everyone went along. Within Kellogg there was a substantial, albeit slowly dwindling group of people Hunnicutt calls the “mavericks,” who resisted longer work hours. They clustered in a few departments that had managed to preserve the six-hour day until the company eliminated it once and for all in 1985.


Several people commented on the link between longer work hours and consumerism. One man said, “I was getting along real good, so there was no use in me working any more time than I had to.” He added, “Everybody thought they were going to get rich when they got that eight-hour deal and it really didn’t make a big difference. . . . Some went out and bought automobiles right quick and they didn’t gain much on that because the car took the extra money they had.”

Company president Lewis Brown and owner W. K. Kellogg noted that if the company ran “four six-hour shifts . . . instead of three eight-hour shifts, this will give work and paychecks to the heads of three hundred more families in Battle Creek

How dare that Pinko commie socialist cut working hours.

Sorry couldn't resist. The discussions in my country are also beginning to represent the same socialist/capitalist dialogue which is strange because our culture is thoroughly socialist. You are supposed to go to hell if you run after profits and neglect your surroundings and the poor, giving up on worldly pleasures is supposed to be the pinnacle of virtue. And the strangest part is that the people who are on the right wing advocating consumerism also claim to represent our culture and religion. I was reminded of Republican party (as it exists today) and Michael Moore's documentary where he asked a pastor if Jesus would be proud of capitalism.

This bird sings the same song wherever it goes.

At the core these old discussions are about how best to distribute the spoils of the fossil fuel driven industrial system. While there are certainly better and worse ways to do that, and I have historical sentiments about that, for the most part this discussion has become irrelevant because there won't be any spoils to distribute.

The socialist/capitalist camps are both wholly a part of the fossil fuel endless growth paradigm. We'll need to have discussions about how to allocate resources in a world without growth. That's an even older topic.

I agree with you. Actually these arcane terms have no counterpart in our cultural narrative, our manufacturing was artisanal not industrial. Rulers (both elected and unelected) promoted artists and handicraft workers both for their own personal needs and the betterment of the society.

I take away a very different lesson. Shumacher covered well the socialist/capitalist argument under unrestrained (therefore unsustainable) production. As you point out, we've moved into a very different stage of resource use.

IMHO the story here is about the role of self-restraint and awareness of embedded benefits in consuming less.

Following Boulding's, "If it exists, then it is possible, the Kellogg example shows that some people have experimented with some of these ideas, just recently, in our culture, to good psychological effect.

Soon now, those individuals and groups that find ways to restrain their innate inclinations to have ever more, may have an easier time with the rapid transition away from the endless growth paradigm.

It will be hard, but as Heinberg suggests, the effort may make things better than they would otherwise be.

Under degrowth, attending to the intrinsic benefits embedded in non-voluntary simplicity may help keep one coherent, focused and communitarian. I'd like those folks as neighbors; I hope I can be one of those neighbors.

I am sure this was raised before here but the key point of this argument which people tend to miss is that the problem isn't one of these ideologies but the sheer size of it. Capitalism is meant to invoke images of a small town shopkeeper trying to set up his own business and socialism is meant to conjure visions of people donating a part of their salary to help people hit by a disaster like a hurricane. I am sure most people (belonging to any camp) don't have any issues with the above two examples. The problem comes when we scale up these two systems massively.
So in a sense the problem is size not the system itself, these things work well at a community level and are actually necessary, no community can be completely socialist or completely capitalist, real world doesn't work like that.


And so, degrowth, which could descale our enterprises, could move use beyond these ideological distractions.

"Could" is the key word though. What are the conditions under which that "could" gets closer to "likely will?"

+10 reiterated.
Amazing really that Schumacher is mentioned again. No panacea, however. What remains large-scale (economies of) and what happens at the local market and in communal caring, or is insured by federal structures that secure the 'commons'; who knows indeed? Perhaps some African and Indian 'hybrids' point clues? Mobile phones, bicyles and village minimal electricity? It could be surprising what becomes 'economic.

I don't really disagree. I think the older (perhaps analogous) discussion is about ownership of property/commons. Unfortunately the socialist/capitalist discussions of the 20th century were all about industrialization in a time of plentiful energy and growth, so much of the specific issues from that time are no longer meaningful.

I'm not at all saying to do nothing, and I'd probably like to be your neighbor and help. I'd always prefer to have a clear understanding of what is coming in order to make the best possible decisions, but in a time of collapse/transition/turmoil it is not always possible to get out of the way even if you see what is coming.

...in a time of collapse/transition/turmoil it is not always possible to get out of the way even if you see what is coming.

Just finishing Greer's Ecotechnic Future where he emphasizes this unpredictability of what's coming (except to say it will be unlike what's been and what's here).

Decision-making under uncertainty is certainly a favorite academic topic. I'd like a bit less of the academic, and more of the pragmatic. That is, given that we can't always see what's coming, what do we do first, second, third? ... ?

Dan Allen's piece these last two days over on Resilience.org has more of this pragmatism.

While I agree that the growth paradigm is an historical feature of both socialists and capitalists, it is clear that no growth is clearly incompatible with capitalism and not necessarily incompatible with socialism. The terminology, of course, is imprecise and so rather than argue about what socialism is, I would say that a more redistributionist approach is more likely to permit people some space to pursue their dreams while reducing their impact.

The fact that we still have massive unemployment while people are working record over time in the auto industry is obscene. But it is to be expected within the confines of a capitalistic society that puts capital first and the worker and the environment second. Socialism doesn't demand but at least permits the injection of non monetary values in the way we live our lives.

I wonder if socialism developed in the wrong way because the socialists recognzied that they had to compete with capitalism by promising more wealth, even if that wealth was supposedly directed more at the middle and lower classes. As long as the debate is about greater overall wealth without looking at distribution, capitalism usually wins. But both camps place too much emphasis on monetary wealth.


Will the sub-40hrs/wk workers still get any medical/dental/retirement benefits? I ask because many US firms do not provide benefits to those that work under 40hrs wk.

32 hours per week is considered "Full Time" and where benefits generally kick in. Health Care (not "insurance") needs to be divorced from employment and universal if the US is to stop throwing people out like trash. Even "Obamacare" keeps that 32/hour framework intact giving incentive to have multiple people at 31 hours/week to keep them below and robbed of benefits. If they'd just inserted a pro rata clause that benefits accrue on an hourly basis starting from the first hour it would have eliminated most of that problem. There are many who would prefer, and I'm one of them, that they take the Canadian health care bill and white-out "Canada" and write in "United States." Nothing's perfect, but I'd take a bazillion percent improvement over the farce we have now.

Relativistically it was not that long ago in the us OF a that people like my brother worked 39 hour weeks for supposedly enlightened grocery chain Byerlys and got no benefits. Sen.Tom Harkin was influential in plugging that hole

"Auto industry is booming."

It had to get better some time. Cars do wear out. Last month I replaced my 23 year old pickup with a 5 year old pickup. Now I have to get used to a speedometer that works :-)

Walmart Struggles to Stock Shelves

Looks llike the suppply chain is beginning to fail, this end first.

Max Keiser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EwvlFywk5UY#!

Oh, and 'Gail the Actuary' is showcased on the second half of Keiser

They quote a CA Walmart superstore dept. manager:

There are gaps where merchandise is missing. We are not talking about a couple of empty shelves. This is throughout the store at every store. Some places look like they're going out of business."

That's the feeling I had when I posted this picture here last week, taken at our local superstore on a usually busy Sunday.

Keiser's comment about us becoming retail "hunter-gatherers" reminded me again of 1974 FSU, where I watched hundreds of folks line up at retail establishments hoping to get a share of whatever came in that day. One wonders how folks in the US are going to react when they realize just how brittle their supply chains have become; their land of plenty not so plentiful. I was in a dollar store yesterday and noticed that their grocery section was pretty picked over, especially the dairy section. I'm not sure it's related to the Walmart situation, but this may be what happens when the largest driver of our current supply chains falters in its support. Interesting times...

I am not familiar with how your food stamp program works, does it support Wall Mart, are those stamps redeemable there?

I guess, if that is so, there is a bit of brightness in that not everything is going to the support of the banks. Terrible kind of light though, sort of way down in the, just this side of hell, red zone!

Yes, foodstamps (EBT Cards) are accepted virtually anywhere that sells un-prepared food, including Walmart (for groceries only). As for supporting the banks, JP Morgan/Chase administers the EBT program in about half the US States ( sorry for the Breitbart link ;-).

Don't be sorry, it is very educational! So you are suggesting to me that it is not just death and taxes that are sure bets? There are the undead, the zombie banks, corporations that gorge like vampire bats for ever. You know, I think I will incorporate myself and grab a bit of that eternal business. Any idea how that could be done? Would one have to sleep by hanging from their feet? So many question in this universe and most of them not worth answering, eh?

My version of socialism would involve encouraging people to grow their own food through gardens and rearing chicken and goats through a subsidy program, would also involve relaxing suffocating regulations. I am sure I wouldn't get any campaign money and would be lampooned as a luddite in the media (both left and right)

You can't actually expect people to do smart things to help themselves. That's regressive! It also doesn't employ nearly enough bureaucrats. Or send enough taxpayer money to BigCorp.

Ya can't see the shelves at Amazon or Walmart OnLine. With the WardWay cast Iron pan I'm re-coating to use as a spice roasting pan I've been thinking about Sears and Montgomery Wards. Why isn't the future of consumerism a limited selection in the local store and if you want something more "exotic" you get it delivered to the local WalMart/your doorstep?

One should be able to have things you like here:
made for you and shipped to you.

(The shelves are thinner at the local Northern Tool BTW)

I've noticed "Sold out online" a lot lately, especially at Walmart.com. A couple of things I was interested in (a new pressure canner, small LED monitor) took me from Walmart's site to a third party vendor, who also had limited stocks.

Re, Your 3D printing link: I've watched several programs recently about 3D printing entering the home market. I'm not sure I saw one thing being made that was actually useful and necessary. Mostly just crap like dolls, toys, cell phone cases, etc.. Another resource sink?

As a person who's been designing and manufacturing actual, physical products for over 25 years, I'd like to point out that materials matter. If it's OK to make it out of "stuff", then it probably wasn't that important to make it in the first place.

having seen what the 3d printers can do, there is alot of trinket making and some 'art object' making along with the expensive prototype for business.

On occasion someone can 'print out' a new plastic part for some broken do-hicky. I'm far more interested in being able to "print out" a wax object to be able to cast something or the more advanced printing out the mold to cast into. So far the 'printing' of material for lost wax just isn't in the DIY range ATM.

It looks like for my Copper casting project I'm stuck with commercial tube and then cast additions that'll be soldered into place. :-(

Yes, I've had a stereolithography prototype of a housing sitting on my desk for several years now. It was s useful exercise that allowed us to test the way the unit would fit together. But it was only grown after the part was designed, taking into account the draft, thickness and other characteristics required by the material and process it was to be made with - but not including the increase in size "windage" that would be needed to accommodate shrinkage after molding.

It's quite useful for all manner of steps in the design/prototyping process, but if you want to use the parts directly you are limited to the materials that can be processed by the particular system you have. That's a big limitation.

Only 1 way to go on a canner
Change the weight and pressure relief plug to the red model and you can make sure its a sterilizer.

Place other pots inside and you can pressure cook things like a chicken, small turkey, or even make bone broth.

One can always "go solar"

(I'm looking forward to making fish stock and fish emulsion this year with mine.)

Good idea,Blair, to put pots inside to cook things in. It works well, but the main reason I started doing it is that most pressure cookers are aluminum and I hate to think that, ever time I chew my stewed chicken, I am eating aluminum as well.

But fish emulsion? Please carry on with that theme my friend, sounds of interest to this curious fish aficionado.

If one cans the fish guts with the bones the bones and hard tissue will dissolve.
I plan on pint jars and freeze the jar contents in the ice cube try marked Fish Guts.


(the other top hits are for growing certain "high value" plants - I'll let ya all go look in say google for yourselves)

An argument against foliar feeding:

Love those high value plants, the nice cost effective ones! lol

I thought at first when I read your comment that you were building an old fashioned biplane and making fish glue to glue the wood together, Just a different kind of high using it for that sort of thing.

Incidentally fish glue is strong stuff the joints don't break, the wood does. It beats any of the modern two part resins! Doesn't smell good though.

Fish glue eh? Thanks for that tip - gives me another rabbithole to jump down.

I'm sitting next to a Thing-O-Matic 3d printer right now, trying to debug some calibration problems with it, and learning about them in general.

I've got this page open,
..an open-source catalog of people's creations and the 3d files that they're sharing for others to make as well.

There is no doubt that an inordinate number of the things that people are making with this technology is pretty frivolous, but I think that does largely just mirror the mode we've been living in for decades now, a growing pile of stuff for its own sake.

I see people making some items that I would consider an appropriate use for Plastics, and useful pieces to be making, and perhaps to have the ability to customize for local reasons, but to take advantage of the work done by the contributor that eases the need to scan and model and test a whole product project yourself will show this as a worthwhile tool to support. I still feel a lot more excitement about hands on woodworking, metals, fabric, etc.. but there are shapes and parts that would take far more carving and messing around, especially when you need two or more, or many more to be pretty identical, that I'd happily submit the task to one of these instead.. particularly knowing that the fuss of creating the initial designs for a truly useful object can then be available again and again, whether it's something I can help make a living by producing and hawking myself, or that I can share with distant folks who've likewise shared such things with me.

I'm a bit forgiving of the amount of purely 'conceptual dust-collectors and silly samples' that are coming out of this hobby/trade so far, since I see that as kittens at play. It's to the end of learning the ropes of real hunting and survival, so to speak. The potential value for having such a catalog of the truly useful parts that are possible here, made of durable and cheap materials seems to be fairly high. Parts can be modelled in Blender and similar Free and Open Source programs.. so just having one of these Fab Lab sites somewhere within the area would let folks bring in the files and order a print.. or trade it for eggs or muffins. (My Iraqi Neighbor just brought over a plate of hot, fresh Falafel, Pita and Tahini last night in the rain, to thank us for a previous favor, and since I've been asking how to do that dish right. She thanked me for letting her share it with us! Humbled is hardly the word..)

I think that items like Custom Clips, Tools, Adapters.. Buttons, Buckles, Custom Junctions (just saw a 1/4-20 Tee Nut that is made to work in a workbench Slot, for example) are some of the ideas that I find to be useful and take advantage of some of the accuracy and repeatability that this device can offer.

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:23296 This one holds a carpet-blade just so, to help in making arrows, it seems.

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:43633 .. and this is a little latching mechanism- circular, in this case, since it is to help the designer WITH the 3d printer itself,

.. but I think it doesn't take too much imagination to see that there are likely to be many ways that such items for the rest of life can be similarly accessed this way, without having to package, ship and stock an arcane object great distances, for the one odd-ball who wants just such a belt-clip solution for his Trowel and Grout Knives.. or a Rain-cover and Light Guide for his Heliostat Tracker Circuit.. if you know what I mean.

I need a handle for a 6-years-old Homelite Bandit chainsaw. Where would I find an open-source file for 3D printing one? A kill switch button for a Husky 359 would be nice too ;-)

I lost a previous reply to this, but it allowed you to adjust your Husky, apparently..

I have chewed on getting a really decent old gas saw, and just 'popping in' an electric motor to drive it, since the majority of electrics on the market have predictably poor machine standards to them.. and as with the EV converting folk out there, this generally will entail creating some kind of custom adapter rig for fitting and mounting said motor to the existing mounting points.. THAT could be a very appropriate use for a 3d printed object, assuming you knew the forces that such a part would have to bear.. but partly in answer to Texas Engineer, too, there are tool ends being developed in many corners now for applying more varied materials into these objects than just your vanilla Polyethylenes and Polypropylenes, etc. Also, Since the injector/applicator speed is completely controllable, then even curing materials, or perhaps 'UV settable' polymers, like dental ceramics will become viable materials to print with.

As with anything, it's not a panacea, even if some folks say it is.. (there's some in every family..) but I think it has some of the same strengths as computing in general and other PC driven industrial processes, and will bear a good bit more exploration.

Good Discussion.

I can offer a little insight into 3D Printing. I spent about 10 years following that industry while I was was involved in design and manufacturing of Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) machines.

Most devices called 3D Printers can make some pretty amazing "toys" and difficult shaped things but as several have mentioned - can seldom make anything that has robust physical properties. The final parts are mostly used as design prototypes - but be careful not to drop them. Some exceptions - SLS machines can make some very strong parts from reinforced nylons - and they have been used for manufacturing of limited run parts where you can make up to a few hundred without having to create an expensive mold. There are many good SLS service bureaus that can make you a robust plastic part if you supply them the 3D file information.

Fascinating industry - I really enjoyed working in it. It has its limits but it also has great uses in prototyping and sometimes for limited run manufacturing. By the way - there are some possibilities for using variants of the technology to make metal parts.

Awesome picture! I've seen that approach to retail before. Where was it?...Oh yeah, East Berlin, 1985. Oh, and in a village outside Luxor in Egypt the next year. And in central Anatolia in between. I believe things have improved in those places. For now.

There's more on Walmart supply chain issues here. It seems that it's in part due to a decision not to stock certain ranges and then deciding to stock them again. Like a lot of companies that have to run so close to the wire in turns of efficiency and margins it doesn't take a lot to knock things off track.


"...so close to the wire in turns of efficiency and margins it doesn't take a lot to knock things off track. "

...especially when virtually all of our systems are being run that way. Discussions of efficiency vs. resiliency... Greer posits that they are essentially opposites. This Walmart thing seems to be a good case in point.

A "two-year problem"? That's "getting worse"?

Something is seriously screwed up at Wal-Mart.

Interesting that so many of their customers shop at Amazon now. Is it because online shopping has become more mainstream...or is it that the lower-income shoppers that Wal-Mart catered to are no longer shopping there as much? Perhaps due to gas prices?

The podcasts I listen to had one report about how Amazon was challenging Wal*Mart on price.

(remember it is a claim made by a voice - who knows how "true" it is.)

One thing Amazon makes really easy is impulse buying. If I have to drive 20 miles to buy something chances are the urge to buy it by the time I can make the trip. With Amazon's one-click I don't even have to get my big lazy butt out of the chair, the price matters little as long as its in the ballpark.

IMO Amazon is so successful because they have removed so many impediments to consumers' spending of money.


My spouse and I have a guideline for ALL purchases (except food, gasoline, etc) whether at the store or online: We must physically leave the store/salesperson/website, look at each other (or call the other) before we can return and buy. So far Amazon hasn't found a way to change us.

It's become a habit, now easy to do. And over 90% of the time we just keep walking away.

I was checking on prices for televisions to buy one for my son. Amazon is very aware of the point where TV's begin to sell and what that price point is for YOU. The price displayed to me may be lower than the one offered to a big spender at their site. The one that I wanted would at times show a decrease in price of thirty or fifty dollars or then be out of stock, and appear the next day offered at a different price.
The company can test the market with every sale and use your and all buying history to set a price. And if you're a frequent customer your income, debt, location, etc. is likely on file too. Brick and mortar stores will have a hard time competing with the new business model.

So are you sure they are charging different prices for different people? I know the prices changes but I do not have actual evidence of different prices for different people.

What I know is that quite a few years ago there was talk of using RDIF ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio-frequency_identification ) to identify customers and price to each according to the information on them. If I remember correctly it was to go like this: If you were a wealthy lad or lass you would get a cheaper price to encourage your continued shopping there, but get the marked price to a no account like me who was only an occasional bloke there. I don't think that went anywhere, I haven't seen anything like that happening other than through some stores where they double price articles for those with customer cards and you don't need RDIF for that, but remember that the bastards are always thinking about rip off schemes and I am sure they are doing things we would rather not be part of.

Some retailers do that - I remember Victoria's Secret got in some hot water about it years ago, though it was via catalog, not in person or online - but I don't think Amazon does. Price comparison is too easy online, and product links are widely shared on social media. Amazon encourages this, offering social media links after each purchase. If you announce to your Twitter or Facebook followers that you got a great price on hard drive for $79, people are going to be confused and ticked off if they follow your link and it's $129.

Yes, something must be screwed up at Walmart. One of their biggest reasons for success was their inventory control system, which they spent literally billions of dollars to develop. It ensured that they had at least 24 hours of inventory of everything on the shelves at all times. All of their stores were within 24 hours of a warehouse, and if shelf inventory was low, within 24 hours a truck would arrive from the warehouse with more.

The reason for this was studies had shown that their competition, Sears for instance, was out of product 25% of the time when the customer went looking for something. If you are out of stock 25% of the time, but your competition ALWAYS has the product, customers will start to go to your competition FIRST when they are shopping, rather than being frustrated and having to drive to them second. And then they will never go to you because they got everything they wanted at the first store. This sort of thing was deadly for companies trying to compete with Wallmart.

Nowadays, every successful retailer has a sophisticated inventory control system. If Walmart is the one running out of product, it completely wrecks their winning strategy. If Walmart doesn't fix this problem, the future bodes ill for them.

A bleak future could not come soon enough for this horrible, exploitative company... or it's plutocratic owner-family.

First part on Walmart was interesting (enjoying Max's rants), but really liked the 2nd half with Gail. With Max setting up the questions and Gail knocking them down it makes for a great summary of the untenable situation we are in. Max asks how the bond markets can still be viable if oil is so high priced, and she responds by explaining that the game is being held together with QE's, the govt. buying of bonds, but that is unsustainable. Would have been nice to know why, but that question did not come up. Anyway, thanks for the link.

Man that dude can rant without even taking a breath. Amazing how the woman with all the facts could maintain pretty much a straight face all the way through. Despite the video, I still do not really understand what is happening at Wal Mart. Maybe they are changing their business model to something like Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's has a very limited selection with very few brands for each kind of food and household items like toilet paper. But it seems to work for them and frankly I would rather shop somewhere with less but high quality choices since it is otherwise so overwhelming.

I know that people like Kunstler have predicted its demise, but I think it is a bit early for its demise based upon high gas prices.

The two reasons I can think of, likely there are more, but for one the interest rate on those bonds must be paid and it just keeps mounting even at the pathetic rates it is at. Japan is up to its eyeballs in that sort of thing, if I had a good memory I would give you some figures that would both surprise and delight you.

Another reason is that eventually everyone will see what is going down with the US dollar, that it is being printed, 85 billion a month I think, to pay off the bonds among other things, like support the stock market, so it is losing traction as a reserve currency. Russia and china and lots of other folks are coming up with trade deals that go past the US dollar. It is why the US is so pissed with Iran as they were trying to set up a market for trading their oil outside the petrodollar.

Don't know if that is an answer to your question but at any rate have you bought any gold or silver? Bottom land is even better if you can find it.

"Another reason is that eventually everyone will see what is going down with the US dollar, that it is being printed, 85 billion a month I think, to pay off the bonds among other things, like support the stock market, so it is losing traction as a reserve currency."

Timely post: Central banks souring on the dollar

Central banks around the world are cutting back on their dollar holdings as the currencies of China and Japan become more enticing.

While the dollar remains the world's main reserve currency, central banks in emerging markets have been diversifying their holdings amid growing uncertainty about the greenback's future, according to the World Gold Council's most recent report.

In fact, according to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. dollar's share of total central bank reserves has decreased to 54% from 62% over the past 12 years.

The modern business view is everything should be "just-in-time". This means that if there is the slightest hiccup in the system then you are out of product.

There is some news about some American workers at Wal-Mart going on strike last Autumn. On January 15, 2013, there is a report of Wal-Mart workers around the world going on strike in December. They appear to have been one day long walkouts.

How the Walmart labor struggle is going global, Waging Nonviolence, Jake Olzen, January 15, 2013.

I wonder if these strikes or Wal-Mart's reaction to them is causing the supply chain problems.

Re: US oil boom 'protects world from supply shocks' (uptop)

For the purposes of this discussion, crude oil = less than 45 API gravity crude oil, or the EIA's Crude + Condensate numbers, less condensate (which is a byproduct of natural gas production).

My premise:  While we have seen an increase in liquid byproducts of natural gas production (condensate + NGL's) and an increase in low net energy biofuels production, it is very likely that have not seen a material increase in global crude oil production since 2005. (Even if we count condensate, global C+C production was only up by about 2% in 2012, versus 2005, a rate of increase of about 0.3%/year.) 

Here is the question the Cornucopians don't want to address:  Why has a doubling in global crude oil prices, from $55 in 2005 to $111 or more in both 2011 and 2012, almost certainly not resulted in a material increase in global crude oil production?

Regarding crude oil volumes versus total liquids volumes, it's as if you ask your butcher what the price of beef is, and he gives you the price of steak.  If you ask him how much beef he has sold today, he gives you the number of pounds of steak (crude oil), roast (condensate), ground beef (NGL's) and pink slime* (biofuels) that he has sold.

*Pink slime is a highly processed ground beef product, made from beef scraps and treated with ammonia

Link to prior discussion on crude versus C+C:

For what it is worth, all the hullabaloo about when the US would become crude-oil independent got me wondering how much additional crude production would be needed to make the US TRANSPORTATION-FUEL independent (depending upon the present level of transportation fuel imports and exports, the answer could be quite different from when US crude production will equal total present crude refinery input). The answer seems to be that US oil production needs to exceed 13.2 million barrels/day (or 6.2 mb/d more than now) before we can claim to produce all of our own transportation fuels.

I first went to the EIA site linked below:


The above site notes all the US refinery inputs and outputs for each month through Dec. 2012. So I decided to use the Dec. 2012 data to calculate how much more US crude oil production would be needed before we could say that all of our transportation fuel is home grown, so to speak.

The result is the table below, which summarizes: (1) the crude oil inputs (US and imported) into all US refineries for Dec. 2012, (2) the refinery output of the 3 major transportation fuels (gasoline, jet fuel, and distillate), and (3) also the amount of those fuels that actually stay in the US (are “supplied”, or not exported).

As can be seen, the conclusion is that US production crude needs to increase another 6.2 million barrels/day (to 13.2 mb/d from the present 7.0 mb/d) before the US could be said to be US transportation fuel independent. This is based on the calculation that since the output of the 3 major fuels is almost identical to the crude input, but that the US uses only about 87% of that output, then the US total production only needs to be just 87% of the present refinery input, or just 87% of 15.25 mb/d , or just 13.2 mb/d.

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Of course, if it was just gasoline alone, then more crude production would be needed, since we use almost all the gasoline we produce. But on the other hand, US refineries are very flexible and would surely be able to produce more gasoline at the expense of less distillate from the same crude input.

It doesn't seem like a 6.2mb/d increase is plausible. But how about 3mb/d in supply plus the equivalent of 3mb/d in reduced demand. The demand reduction could be from electric, hybrids, and/or more likely the economy.

Maybe something like that could happen. But more likely, eventually, the US won't be importing oil because no one's exporting it not because the US produces all it needs.

How many Chevy Volts does it take to replace 3mb/d?

"How many Chevy Volts does it take to replace 3mb/d?"

Ballpark because I'm lazy and it's about as good as one can get...

Assuming the vehicles being replaced are getting 25mpg and are driven 12,000mi/year (32.9 miles/day)... 480gal/year/vehicle... 1.315 gal/day/vehicle

1 bbl is 42 US gallons, 3mb/d is 3,000,000*42 = 126,000,000 gallons/day

This represents the consumption of 95,817,490 vehicles as described above. Since the Volt uses more than 0 gas the number it will have to replace is bigger than that.

The Chevy Volt gets, on average from numbers I've seen, 120mpg long term. So 12,000/120 = 100 gal/year/vehicle... 0.274 gal/day. Each Volt that replaces one of the 25mpg@12,000mi vehicles saves 1.041 gal/day. So 126,000,000/1.041 = 121,037,464 Chevy Volts

If we change the assumption to 20mpg@12,000mi. 600gal/yr...1.644/day...change to Volt saves 1.367 gal/day/vehicle for...126,000,000/1.37 = 91,970,802 Chevy Volts

So...a lot probably. In 2010, there were 240 million cars and trucks registered in the U.S. Get rid of the trucks.

So 126,000,000/1.041 = 121,037,464 Chevy Volts
Yeah, that ain't happening. Right now they are selling maybe a little more than 20K/year. Perhaps we can boost that 5X if gas prices go up. It would still take a long time.

Yup...that is an unfortunately large number. It basically jumps out and screams that SUV's and Trucks need to be gotten rid of because replacing 30mpg cars with Volts means approximately bupkiss. I think the CAFE rules that were passed target trucks/suvs a good bit but, as per usual, probably not enough. Big cars are easily getting 35 mpg these days, those 15 mpg chrome phallus deluxes need to go.

I ran across this page which talks about the Mitsu imiev and Kei cars...apparently it's a gas conversion from a "normal" Kei car - didn't know that.


What's really funny is this comment "The Cappuccino is… cute but not sporty." I immediately found a dozen videos on YouTube of people drifting the thing and racing it.

That doesn't seem right. If there are 240 million cars and we use 12mb/d then we would need to replace 25% with electric cars, or 60 million cars. But it doesn't change anything really, Volts, Leafs, etc total less than 100K per year right now, so that's not happening anytime soon.

"That doesn't seem right."

It's all about the underlying assumptions. There's a number of things going on here. The first number I put out uses (close to) the average of all vehicles on the road, cars and trucks included, of 25 mpg and (close to) the number of miles. After that number came out I recalculated based on 20 mpg and it's a 30 million vehicle difference. If you do the numbers for 15 mpg it drops to 65.7 million.

So the 15mpg/65.7 million is close to your number... but think about what that means - getting someone out of an F150 King Ranch, Suburban, Expedition, etc and into a Volt.


In 2011, the United States consumed about 134 billion gallons1 (or 3.19 billion barrels2) of gasoline, a daily average of about 367.08 million gallons (8.74 million barrels). This was about 6% less than the record high of about 142.38 billion gallons (or 3.39 billion barrels) consumed in 2007.

Where did you get 12 from? Is that including diesel?

I always wonder how much could be saved by standard Prius level of hybridization in city or highly traffic prone areas. A normal car capable of getting 35 mpg can drop like a stone in stop-and-go and slow (<25mph) driving.

Edit: All this talk reminded me of the "Auto Efficiency Wedge" from a few years on back...http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/12/17/1377/0132


Note that this is not the fuel efficiency of new vehicles supplied, but rather the achieved fuel efficiency of the entire gasoline fleet in actual use that year.

Also one on there showing a visual representation of the fleet mix. It'd be pretty cool if the graphs got updated and this were to be revisited considering all of the changes that have happened lately with VMT and six years worth of changes to the fleet.

To my way of thinking, the biggest crime is adding NG Plant Liquids to Crude + condensate without any clear explaination at all that almost none of the NGPL can be used to make transportation fuel. At least you can probably get some gasoline out of condensate and maybe even a little kerosene, but out of NGPLs . . .?

In the US, the APIs for all crudes going into refineries seems to be slowly rising, so probably a good indication of increasing condensate levels. Still, US refineries seem to have no problem making more than normal diesel, so apparently the condensate so far isn't hampering higher MW fuel propduction. At least not yet.

I'm more interested in the near certain failure to show a material increase in global crude oil* production in seven years, despite a doubling in global crude oil prices.

While substitution is always a factor, and the increase in natural gas derived liquids and in biofuels is an example of substitution at work, the argument has been that Peak Oilers were crazy for expressing concerns about a near term global crude oil peak. Also, IMO, natural gas derived liquids and biofuels made an incremental, but not a material difference, especially in the context of the post-2005 decline in Global Net Exports of oil.

*Less than 45 API gravity crude

I'm more interested in the near certain failure to show a material increase in global crude oil* production in seven years, despite a doubling in global crude oil prices.

But I don't see that as evidence of a geological peak. I suspect that the industry could produce more oil but people just can't afford to buy more. It is more of a 'demand problem' right now. Of course, if demand suddenly appeared I don't think they could grow production much. If demand appeared, the excess capacity is probably pretty small such that increased demand would quickly swallow it and quickly lead to higher prices.

I suspect that the industry could produce more oil but people just can't afford to buy more.

So, at an average global (Brent) price of $111 or more for two years (twice the average price in 2005), some producers are choosing not to increase crude oil* production, but many of the same producers chose to increase their condensate + NGL production?

In the alternative, perhaps producers increased production where they could, in response to a doubling in global crude oil prices?

*45 API gravity or less

I think most producers are producing flat out what ever liquids they can produce . . . especially in the USA where much of those NGLs are made. But some oil producers like Saudi Arabia are not producing everything they can because they:
1) Are producing enough to meet their budget.
2) Want to keep the prices where they are now or higher.
3) Have some sense of saving oil for future generations. (Well, future generation at least . . . . probably won't last more than 1 more generation.)

That's certainly one scenario that explains Saudi Arabia increasing their net oil exports at about 8%/year from 2002 to 2005, in response to rising oil prices, followed by seven straight years of lower net oil exports (relative to 2005), in response to generally rising oil prices.

Alternatively, while they were able, in 2012, to exceed the 2005 annual crude oil and total petroleum liquids production rates, they have so far--for seven years--been unable to exceed their 2005 net export rate.

Spec – Adding on to wt’s comment. “But I don't see that as evidence of a geological peak.” Obviously true that a peak of anything will be defined by price. But only up to a certain point. I mentioned in another post about drilling 3 wells last year for oil prospects in a trend with many fields that have produced over 10 million bo each. I could justify drilling my 3 wells thanks to the high price of oil. But that $100/bbl didn’t create three 10 million bbls prospects…it created three 50,000 bbl prospects. If oil were to rise to $500/bbl I still wouldn’t be able to generate a 10 million bbl prospect in the trend. There is literally no room to map such an accumulation between already drilled wells. But at $500/bbl I might be able to drill more wells with reserves of 10k bo but I doubt I could may many of them. So there is a geologic peak in this trend as well as every other mature play.

Even today’s hot shale plays have a geologic peak. At $500/bbl companies might go back and drill between existing wells to recover less oil then the original effort. But while those initial wells might recover 300k bo each the new drills might only recover 80k bo. So yes higher oil prices can lead to more drilling in mature trends but the results will not be proportional to the number of wells drilled due to geologic peak. The only way to find new major fields is to drill wildcats in lightly explored areas. These areas haven’t necessarily hit their geologic peal. But that brings into play another geologic peak: there are a finite number of lightly explored trends that have oil potential. The DW GOM is a good example: billions of bbls of oil from a new play. Same can be said of the DW Brazil and west Africa. Now the question: is there a potential peak in the number of future untested hydrocarbon basins? Sadly yes. And we reached peak basin years ago. What has kept these plays out of reach was the water depth. Now we’ve overcome most of those problems so maybe we can move further offshore to develop even more DW fields. Unfortunately the geologic conditions required to create oil fields don’t exist across the very great majority of the world’s oceans. Developing the capability of drilling and producing in 20,000’ of water isn’t going to bring on new reserves. There is a peak number of hydrocarbon basins around the globe in which to explore for major oil accumulations. And we hit that peak many decades ago.

We also hit peak shale gas basins in the U.S. decades ago despite claims that we’ve discovered new potential. Nearly every shale play in the country has been tested long ago. The oldest commercial NG trend play in the country, the New Albany Shale in the Appalachian basin, began development over 100 years ago. I drilled a number of wells in the NAS a while back when prices had risen. We hit the peak in the number of oil/NG shale reservoirs more than half a century ago. What’s been happening in the last several years is the result of higher prices and the lack of conventional plays left to drill. After the rush to develop NG shales when prices went over $10/mcf ever shale formation in the country was evaluated for its potential. Most lack any significant potential.

So at any given price there is a peak in the number of wells that can be drilled. Most of us on TOD know that. Perhaps less understood is that there is a peak in the number of hydrocarbon provinces regardless of how high prices go. Rising prices will lead to more previous uneconomic wells to be drilled. But no price of oil, regardless of how might it goes, will create hydrocarbon kitchens where they don’t exist. Globally there are still a number of lightly expored basins. But not in the U.S. Just one more reason to laugh at the energy independence rhetoric IMHO.

The EIA shows that global C+C production was 73.8 mbpd in 2005.  I estimate it at 75.5 mbpd for 2012, an increase of 1.7 mbpd.  I estimate that the 2005 to 2012 increase in Texas condensate production was about 0.37 mbpd. So, just the seven year increase in Texas condensate production could account for 22% of the seven year,  2005 to 2012, increase in Global C+C production--as evidence that we have probably not seen a material increase in actual global crude oil production (less than 45 API gravity).  

Incidentally, given virtually flat US dry NG production for close to two years (with a strong possibility of a decline in recent months), and given that NG is headed toward $4, are you thinking about drilling some NG prospects this summer?

IMO, given that the underlying decline rates from existing wells is so much higher than at the start of the shale gas boom, I think that it is unlikely, once we have a material decline in US NG production, that the industry will be able to materially reverse the decline and exceed prior production levels for any length of time, but we shall see.


CNBC is reporting that estimated US NG production last week was down by 20% from the same time period a year ago, as inventories fell by 146 BCF.

Does it mean NGL production will decline too?

Wow. I guess next year's winter is going to have to deal with higher natural gas prices.

I wonder how the allocation between NG and oil drilling is going to proceed. By what I understand, a lot of rigs that were drilling NG gave up on NG because of the low prices and went to join the Bakken Bonanza. So will any of them return to NG? At this point, I doubt it because NG prices have remained cheap and oil prices have remained pretty high.

Perhaps we just need more rigs, period?

suyog & spec - As we all know when a NG well begins producing it also begins its depletion track. We had a nice bump up as a result of NG shooting up in ’08. At that time we had 1,600 rigs drilling for NG. Then came the current low price period and we have a tad over 400 rigs drilling for NG. Thus not much of a leap to assume that as the boom wells deplete the NG production rate will decline. And much quicker than historic conventional production due to the rapid decline nature of fractured reservoirs. How fast did companies give up on many of the shale plays? I was working at Devon with the group drilling the east Texas shales. In just a few months, after prices fell below $6/mcf, they cut their rig count in the trend from 18 to 4. And paid a total of $40 million in cancellation penalties to do so. Yes: the paid $40 million TO NOT DRILL WELLS.

I appreciate it’s difficult for some folks to get their head around the time lags we experience in the oil patch with respect to production. The rig count may have zoomed downward very quickly but operators for the most part not only keep producing but many did what they could to increase production. During the production phase it matters not if the original investment will be recovered or not. At this time it’s all about cash flow. And during a period of falling NG prices operators will try to compensate by increasing production. My company was one of a very few I know of that did curtail production to a degree. We have no debt to service…a very rare situation in the oil patch. And have always run a lean staff using consultants as we needed them. Needless to say we’ve had almost no such consulting costs for more than a year.

To answer wt’s question: am I going to start drilling for NG again when the price gets above $4/mcf? Simply put: hell no. And for a couple of reasons. First, taking risk into account that price still doesn’t work. My owner didn’t create this company a few years ago to make a modest rate of return. He can sit in his office and do that over the phone without any of us. Second, we’ve reoriented the company to chase oil in other trends outside of Texas and La. So even if NG got high enough to justify some drilling we’re not in that business at the moment. I know many appreciate this but most corporations are like large seagoing vessels: it takes a long time and much effort to change course. NG prices may spike a bit this winter but that won’t encourage us to change our path. OTOH if prices got up to $6/mcf and stayed at that average for a couple of years or more than we might start shifting back towards NG. But even then folks need to remember that between generating a prospect, leasing the land and getting the equipment together can take the better part of two years.

More rigs? Write me a check and I'll have one built for you. Currently I know of no drilling company in the Gulf Coast that's building any new rigs. With the recent slide in the Bakken rig count I doubt there's many plans to add rigs up north.

I just replayed the NG comment. She definitely said production was down 20% year over year, along with the decline in storage year over year. It's at the 10:37 AM Central Time mark on CNBC. I haven't been able to find any confirmation anywhere else, but there has been no correction on CNBC so far. Seems like a huge year over year decline though.

Looking at the latest EIA NG data, it appears that production has about 0.7% greater than a year ago. The NG in storage is running below last year at this date, but storage last year was way above the historical average...

E. Swanson

Thanks. It did seem like an impossibly large decline. Still puzzled that CNBC did not issue a correction, insofar as I know.

"Total stocks now stand at 1.938 trillion cubic feet, down 440 billion cubic feet from the year-ago level and 198 billion cubic feet above the five-year average, the government said."


That may be where the confusion was.


Probably an assistant producer made a mistake, but the reporter noted that the year over year decline in production was about the same size, percentage wise, as the year over year decline in storage.

Of course, a cornucopian would argue that there are loads of Eagle Ford plays all around the world, just waiting to be tapped. And normally, that might make sense from the standpoint of: what are the chances that the US is the only place in the whole world to have a condensate-rich play?

But it is possible that maybe there aren't that many of them. For instance, a few months back, after drilling just a few wells, Exxon pulled out of Poland. As I understood it, Poland had the best chance for non-crude liquids in Europe, with a massive thickness of shale. True, a couple other companies are hanging in there, still looking for something, but when Exxon pulls out, I would say the chances are slim.

Exxon Ends Drilling for Poland Shale Gas

Elmo – Depending how one defines “loads of plays” the cornucopians may be correct. But so what? If they don’t get developed it doesn’t matter, does it? Folks really need to understand the primary driving forces behind the US shale plays. It isn’t happening because they were just discovered...they weren't. It isn’t happening because we just discovered how to frac and drill horizontally...we didn't. It’s happening for two reasons. The price of oil is obvious. Less obvious is what companies are doing the development. It's the public companies. I haven’t heard but of a few privately owned companies involved.

A public oil company has to increase its stock valuation by drilling and adding reserves. There are not enough conventional oil plays left in the US to satisfy that demand. Not at $100 or at $150/bbl. Higher oil prices drive companies to drill for smaller reserves per well…not bigger ones. There's also the issue of typically higher costs to operate overseas as well as equipment availability and infrastructure support. There’s also the complication that most of the mineral rights around the world belong to govts and not individuals. I can go after a lease in Texas and maybe have it signed up in a month. It might take a year or more negotiating with an NOC to do the same in a foreign country. Likewise the terms and tax structure of such foreign concessions can slow development.

ExxonMobil pulling out of Poland may be the correct move…maybe not. XOM isn’t always right. Maybe they just weren’t poking holes in the right place. Or, more likely, what they found wasn't big enough for them. Many small companies have made a lot of money going after reserves that the majors chose to ignore. And there’s the other potential problem with developing foreign shale resources: a lack of small aggressive independent companies as we have in the US. The average oil well in the US makes less than 10 bopd. Major oil companies and NOC’s can’t function very well at such levels. They have always walked away small yet profitable reserves since the beginning of the oil age. From my perspective that is truer today than ever before.

Yes, that is a good point about the amount of increased production needed to make a difference to a company. As someone who decided long ago to hedge peak oil by buying the stocks of oil companies, it has also occurred to me that, at the extreme, all these oil companies can't all make money out of that last barrel of oil.

Of course one could argue that as long as the price per barrel keeps going up faster than production decreases, that the biggest oil companies can remain profitable. But still, I think the handwriting is on thw wall for the largest companies and so they will just have to turn into trust-equibalents, only valuable for the distribution of declining profits that they provide.

I am assuming that the oil companies that can survive the longest will be the most effiecient mid-sized companies who have enough capital to keep looking but who can also see some increase in production even as the new fields get smaller and smaller.

Any thoughts one way or another on this?

Elmo - Given my history on investing in the stock market you should stop reading this message now. LOL. Obviously depends on what you're looking for in a stock investment. If it's solid dividend income I suspects the oils will do beter than the average stock. Looking for growth is a different matter. Always going to be risky but I would be especially careful with the oils today. Many segments can rise and fall in their own cycles. But I have doubts that many of the current oils could survive a downturn and then bounce back eventually. As has happened time and again in the oil patch a downward slide is always followed by a period acquisition of the weak by the stronger. This will be the most economic method for many of the big oils to add to their reserve base. And for some the only way. The best hope for a big gain in value growth is for your investment to be offered top $ for their company. A very tricky process to seperate the BS from real positive growth.

I was on Max Keiser's "Keiser Report" program recently. This is a link to the interview.

Great interview, as always, Gail. Too bad we can't get you on more mainstream channels. CNN seems to do a lot of stuff out of Atlanta. Maybe we should start a campaign to have them get you on to challenge some of Velshi's and Roman's dribble ;-)

It's non-stop Keiser on RT here in Finland, it's mainstream media. He is crazy.

Mind you he does mention peak oil.

I think Kunstler is crazy too, but both Kunstler and Keiser point out
the flaws in western civilisations and character.

Interesting point about it being 'more then just a liquid fuels problem'. I'm sure not many people actually get that. Given how many predicaments we are in, it is suprising how I just go about my day to day business, as usual.

I saw the interview earlier today, Gail. At one point Max asked how the bond market is holding together with these high oil prices and you said QE was being used to buy bonds to hold the market together, but that was not sustainable. Seems reasonable that it is not, but I'm interested as to what will limit it?

Does anyone know if there is an MP3 podcast for Max Keiser?

I hate being forced to access video for what are basically just talking heads shows.

EON SE’s Irsching-5 in Bavaria last year operated less than 25 percent of the time as slumping power prices made burning natural gas unprofitable by record margins. Later this month, the company may close the plant because it’s losing so much money.

A year or so ago I deferred to TOD hive mind on the subject of 'peaking' gas plants. My assumption was that if one wanted to build an expensive NG generator there would be some requirement to run it in order to pay for it. I visualize a lot of concrete & oversized gas turbines paid for on credit with a buncha well educated guys standing around waiting for the signal to run.

There was a discussion of the economics of peaking plants from people who I assume are much more knowledgeable than me; one estimate was you might make money running only 5% of the time.

So what happened here? Is this an artifact of the screwy pricing behaviour of the solar-saturated German market? Or is it the spread between cheap coal and expensive Russian gas? Or something else?

This seems to be another example of today's coal economy getting in the way of tomorrow's clean energy planning.


Bryan – You have to watch the wording of the questions and answers very closely. On top of that they seldom give enough details to understand exactly what the situation may be. In one sense it doesn’t make much difference if they are making electricity, building bed frames or producing a NG well. What does making money running at 5% of the time mean? Is that positive cash flow including the payments on debt used to build the infrastructure? Not including debt payments? Includes some return to the investors or no return to them? As I’ve mentioned before there are many companies selling their NG for less than it cost them to drill the wells. Those wells are money losers and always will be. OTOH production costs are so low the same wells create a positive cash flow. If there’s enough revenue to pay the bank and keep the doors open it can look like a profitable company when it really isn’t.

The more details: if the structure is like many US utilities it doesn’t matter how low the run time is or how high fuel costs might rise: the utility is allowed to make a profit and does so by raising rates. Are there special tax breaks from the German govt that allows plants to run at margin levels and by increasing profits at the loss of tax revenue? Given that even in one country the playing field may not be level for all the plants it may be difficult to have a meaningful general answer to such questions.

I think we observe a crude mixture of reasons:

Many power plants were planned around 10 years ago when nobody in industry really believed in the success of the renewables. CC NG power plants need high FLH, not longer guaranteed in Germany or Netherlands.

After 2000 a nice part of electricity production from hard coal was replaced with NG, now with much higher NG prices some of the production is provided by hard coal again. NG 8 cent/kWh, coal 4-5 cent/kWh according to the association of lignite producer.

Germany is not PV saturated, peak production is expected to be only around 28 GW in May. However, spot market prices go down and allow export of coal power to the Netherlands replacing NG.

Until 2022 around 75% of the increase of renewables is used to replace nuclear production. Therefore, the next decade there is only a small pressure on coal, this will of course change after 2022.

The CO2 certificates are much too cheap, with higher carbon dioxide prices the situation would change very fast.

Its to do with the electricity market

"Procurement takes place in a competitive tender bidding basis within the German control power market in which a significant number of suppliers participate"

Price plunges when solar or wind expected to be online, so gas doen't make any money.


The German market is too much about energy and, therefore, price changes of energy affect other sectors, this issue has to be resolved.

See chapters 6-8 of the following discussion paper of a german think tank:


I recently made the 2012 Update on Norwegian Crude Oil Production and Reserves (Post in Norwegian, for those interested Google translate may help.)

My post on the 2011 status is Norwegian Crude Oil Reserves and Production as of 12/31/2011

- Rune

I have only been looking at the images, because my Norwegian is not so good. :) Production is declining faster than expected a year ago. But your forcast for the decline rate in the coming years is more moderate than your forcast last year. Is that a correct summary?

That should be about right. Reason is that discoveries with plans for developments has been added and some fields have a slight deferred start up.

I read the first half. It was an interesting article.

The Price of Green Energy: Is Germany Killing the Environment to Save It?

The German government is carrying out a rapid expansion of renewable energies like wind, solar and biogas, yet the process is taking a toll on nature conservation. The issue is causing a rift in the environmental movement, pitting "green energy" supporters against ecologists.

Follows up to some of the earlier TOD posts on wood burning and biomass energy in general. Decent coverage of the political rifts forming within the environmental communities in Germany as a result of the Energiewende.

Mebbe in this case it's two steps forward, one step back?

The first part of the article, at least, is about land being cleared to grow biofuel and for timber. These are well known to cause problems - historically, using wood for fuel and clearing forest for agriculture ends fairly quickly when most of it is gone. Considering this was a major problem in the past in Europe, when populations were much smaller, it is pretty obvious that doing that for energy is just not gonna work. Take a look at Iceland for an extreme example, or the British isles for an example in a less extreme environment. Both suffered massive deforestation.

Basically, biofuels are a bad idea.

Solar and wind also take up a lot of space, but so does agriculture and industry. My preference is to put solar over existing development (rooftops and solar over parking) followed by used of brownfield sites and unused or abandoned agricultural land. This may compromise efficiency somewhat but it prevents the destruction inherent in clearing natural land. Unfortunately, I think there is a major price advantage in taking land that is unused by humans, so clearing forests and such is probably cheapest. In any case, I think the solar companies are like any other; the nature of corporate competition makes it so that money overshadows ethics.

Another big problem in Germany seems to be that "green" energy gets a free pass to build even in nature reserves. To that I say NO. A nature reserve is, by definition, a reserve for nature. Solar and wind may not give off waste, but they are still artificial, human development.

Interesting discussion. I think a good starting point is to remember that we do not have real nature in Germany, 99.75% we see today is a landscape usually created by humans during the last 200 years, usually for economic profit or at least for minimizing economic losses.

All forests in Germany are the result of reafforestation starting in the 18th century and these forests are still growing. The deer and boar density is due to lack of predators and due to interests of hunters at least one order of magnitude too high and damages the forrest more than a few wind mills. Therefore to complain that wind turbines destroy nature is a little bit strange in this context. A better approach would be to create more real reservations with correct composition and a usefull ratio between predators and deer, we have after 1990 the land mass again, and to use the rest for production in a sensible way.

Biomass as energetical feedstock for base load production is indeed doing more harm than good and the FIT system should be changed to support biogas prodution only for peak load demand. Biofuels have thanks god already be canceled.

Flying over Germany in the 1970s I noticed that most forests were very neat and tidy, but some were messy with fallen trees and overgrown logs lying on the ground in clearings their fall had created.

I presumed the messy ones were virgin forests and this is what a true forest looks like, with old and storm damaged trees rotting where they lie instead of being cut up and carted off by diligent foresters.

Biomass as energetical feedstock for base load production is indeed doing more harm than good and the FIT system should be changed to support biogas prodution only for peak load demand.

Would you explain this please? I'm not arguing, just curious. I assume you are talking about biomass combustion and digestion for power and heat. Thanks.

Basically, we have in central Europe not enough biomass that could be used as energetic feedstock AND as chemical feedstock, we have to make a choice. With our current knowledge the use of biomass as chemical feedstock makes much more sense in the long run. We avoid high opportunity costs.

The large scale production of corn for the generation of biogas is a procedure that has a low EROEI, so should be only used to cover peak demand. In the current FIT the farmer gets money for produced electricity, so he uses a base load production, which is convinient for him. Better would be the payment for purified methane that could be fed into the NG pipeline net or burnt in larger more efficient gas turbines. However, this would mean to switch from many small biogas production facilities to larger ones.

The EROEI of biofuels was even worse than that of bigas, so the stop of financial support by the EU makes sense.

Biomass for heating or electricity production should only be a part of the transition (next two decades) not integral part of the future electricity/heat market envisioned for 2050.

I'll make a guess. Currently biomass (such as firewood) is being burned to generate steam to make electricity with these generators operating constantly. Because biomass is a way to store renewable energy, it should be used intermittently when wind and solar are insufficient. This means the generators would have to warm up and cool down with is bad for a boiler. I think if the biomass is converted into biogas, then it would be suitable for running a gas turbine which is better for using in a peaking power plant.

Protects the world from oil shocks?

we are in the shock AFAIAC. this stuff is bonkers

US energy independence?

If alternate energy sources like wind are created, is that going to be an additive enterprise or will the use of coal and other FF be reduced?

Going by costs of production and looking at what has been done in the past, at the moment, I would put my money on every new energy source being additive, so how green would that be? Maybe the 'we got teck' lads in silicon valley will be riding in E cars after all? Jim Kunstler will not be amused. lol


This is my concern. If all the additional solar and wind electricity is eaten up by new uses like EVs, then what progress have we made? I know. There will perhaps be less oil usage but perhaps that will not change global consumption. This is not an argument against wind and solar but just a concern about EVs.

I could be wrong, of course, and hope that I am. No doubt someone here can assuage my concerns.

Anyway, the policy prescription, in part, would be government actions to phase out coal for starters and a plan to transition to all renewables by some date. The study we talked about yesterday concluded that this could be done for New Yawk by 2030. While there may be some flaws in the study, if you don't have a goal,any road will get you there. A study and an actual plan, and appropriate policies to implement that plan will get us a lot farther than our current hand waving and vague promises from our preoccupied President.

On a personal level, just think about the things you achieved in your life that almost no one would believed you were capable of. Not a perfect analogy but I think it is germane. Vision matters. I believe we could do so much more.

I have no hope, of course, but even I dream occassionally.

Never expected so many to give up the devils weed, tobacco, but they did, but can we expect them to willingly drive their autos over the olduvai cliff?


My son gets so fried with me when I tell him that his generation is the one that relearns the ancient skill called walking.

BTW did you know that Jim Kunstler is in for a neck operation after doing a second header off of his bicycle? Did the same once myself but swore off doing it again, as broke my arm and it now has 26 pieces of metal implants in it. Any bragging rights are just too dear for seconds.

Lucky I live in a friendly neighbourhood, Kunstler asked a woman driver if she could wait a minute until he got sorted out and figure out if he should be hospital bound. She looked at him said "no way" and drove off leaving him eating dust, just for the good measure of it all.

I disagree, because a "shock" is by definition a sudden event. We have high prices, but until the next price spike there is no "shock" there. The economy is adapting somewhat as well (if brutally, by making many unemployed or employed in part time and low paid work).

I've been expecting the next punch to land any day now for years... It hasn't happened, obviously. That I know, and you know, and we all know that it must happen eventually doesn't change that it hasn't happened yet. Shale oil and oil sands have probably helped prevent an oil price spike in the US, though they haven't prevented the gradual rise of prices over time which looks to continue forever into the future.

Jeremy Grantham on Charlie Rose


No longer a Popeless situation in Rome.

Good thing - how long until I can stop hearing about it?

Beat me to it.

Thank God! (I'm sick of hearing about it)

Actually, all the media hype has got me wondering what we're being distracted from...

My wife had to go through a tooth extraction yesterday. She subsequently commented that the background audio, which seemed to mostly consist of reports on the process of selecting the next pope, was almost as painful as the dental experience.

I am not a catholic. But the church is the largest organization in the world, after all. Its management is of some level of interest.

I don't even follow an Abrahamic religion, but for the reasons stated, the pope matters.

Of course the leader of a large religion matters, to some extent. OTOH, it is not all about one man, he is part of a large organization and cannot act independently. For instance, was there ever any doubt about his public positions on gays and contraception? If he makes a difference that will become apparent over time based on his actions. It is not at all important to me personally who he is or how they selected him or how many times they voted.

I wonder if the occasional superpopular pope (like John Paul was), decided to go against the others on an issue like contraception. Would they dare to override his policy -or force him into retirement? Not that Francis is likely to either be popular enough, or want to take a controversial stand, but once in a while there is the possibility.

The pope church work with something they call "the tradition". It is a bit complicated, but it basicly mean if catholics belive it for a longer period of time, they make it an official dogma. It also means they amend stuff to their theology, but never remove anything.

So no. No reforms. Ever.

Not popeless but not hapless either. Glad it won't be on my teevee soon.

Actually a pretty interesting choice, the first Pope from South America. As Archbishop, he lived in a small apartment, cooked his own meals and commuted via bus to work.

New pope, Jorge Bergogolio, adopts the name Francis

Bergogolio, 76, is considered a straight-shooter who calls things as he sees them, and a follower of the church's most conservative wing.

As cardinal, he clashed with the government of Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over his opposition to gay marriage and free distribution of contraceptives.

"No necesitamos ningún anticonceptivos apestosos." Seems those calling for a more inclusive, somewhat liberalised Church in the 21st century got their answer.

VATICAN CITY — A human rights lawyer has filed a criminal complaint against an Argentine cardinal mentioned as a possible contender to become pope, accusing him of involvement in the 1976 kidnappings of two priests.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio's spokesman Saturday called the allegation "old slander."

Another charmer.


A communist pope. LOL

International oil companies' oil production peaked in 2004 and declined by 2.1% pa

The Australian Automobile Club starts to understand what is going on:
Fuel Security Report

Stuart Staniford has posted an update to his all liquids price-quantity chart showing that we have hit another production limit.

But as Westexas has been telling us for so long, production is only half the story.

We really need a chart of liquid fuels net of exporters' own consumption. Ron (Darwinian) makes one for C&C and posts it here on Drumbeat regularly. Does anyone make one for all liquids?

The economists were right, substitution works, and as noted up the thread we continue to (partially) substitute increasing condensate + NGL's (derived from natural gas) and low net energy biofuels for virtually flat crude oil* production.

Of course, IMO, the substitutes are making an incremental difference, but not a material difference, as we have seen a post-2005 decline in Global Net Exports of oil (GNE), with the developing countries, led by China, consuming an increasing share of a declining volume of GNE.

Our data base (BP + EIA) for the (2005) top 33 net exporters showed that their consumption increased from 16.6 mbpd (total liquids) in 2005 to 19.5 mbpd in 2011, and probably to about 20 mbpd in 2012.

Normalized liquids consumption for (2005) top 33 net exporters, China, India and the US from 2002 to 2011, versus annual Brent crude oil prices:


In 2005, there were 3.2 barrels of total liquids production (EIA) for every barrel that Chindia + (2005) Top 33 net exporters consumed. In 2011, this ratio fell to 2.7.

*Less than 45 API gravity crude oil

substitution works

Agree. So to spin this towards solar power advocacy ; ) ==>

Seems since I started reading TOD, CAISO has _doubled_ their peak solar production.

Used to peak at about 800MW, today seems to be running at about 1600MW. ( Scroll to middle of page - http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx )

IMO, the shale plays should be viewed as our last chance to help ease our transition to a far less energy intensive future, powered as much as possible by solar and wind.

Of course, the shale guys are asserting that we can increase our oil and gas production virtually forever, to infinity and beyond.

Hi all. Long time lurker here, of the shark-fin decline persuasion. Not a conspiracy theorist.

However, I think we are now seeing a deliberate, politically motivated campaign to disseminate an impression of oil abundance. I have a slightly different question for you all to consider, especially the long-time members:

Why do you think that now, all of a sudden, there is this concerted effort to tell a new story? The new narrative seems to have a few key aspects:

1) A message that things are suddenly different (as of about 2012), because of unconventional oil and gas.
2) A message that USA will no longer need to import oil, and will in fact become the top producer worldwide in a few years.
3) A message that those concerned about 'Peak Oil' have been proven wrong.
And a final observation is that this information is not coming from fringe commentators, but from individuals and organisations that clearly understand the real situation.

Now, I really don't want to hash over the pros and cons of these, I'm more interested in why you think this story is being put out. I can think of a few ideas:

1) We plan to attack Iran, and we need to reassure people/markets that it doesn't matter because, we don't need their oil.
2) We have to persuade the markets that BAU will continue , or the financial system will collapse (BAU = burning oil, creates money)
3) Some major field somewhere (e.g. Ghawar) is very nearly about to water out, we need to make people think this doesn't matter or there will be panic, and/or financial collapse, when they find out about it.

So, any other ideas as to the motivation for this?


I've been a bit worried about this spring. I wasn't really worried about 12/21/12, if that adds any perspective.. but I do wonder how many invisible elephants are waltzing around America's Living Room, about to trip on the rug.

I can't help but feel that we're perched at the cusp of the next stairstep, and that there's less than ever to soften the bump.. but to have the US facing these austerity choices starts sounding like we're not that far from the issues that Greece, Portugal & Co were diving into of late.

Leanan and others have been fairly sanguine about the behavior of PO since '08, but my Waspy Middle Class upbringing makes the sort of 'nice and quiet' that we've had for the last few years seem more foreboding than ever.

I feel we're in the calm before the fan.

That is well put. There are just so many possible things that can kick the dominoes over, and of all the ones we can think of it may be yet another no one expected.

I think the main reason people have latched on to the energy independence propaganda, and the reason it is being broadcast, is fear and desperation, mostly about the economy. Plenty of people understand on some level that 2009 never ended and the reruns will be on soon, and that is terrifying. People just want everything to be OK. They want to be told it's going to be OK and they don't care whether it is true or not, and of course an establishment never wants panic. I don't really think you have to look for one specific plot beyond that.

"...fear and desperation..." Avoidance coping:

In psychology, avoidance coping, or escape coping, is a maladaptive coping mechanism[1] characterized by the effort to avoid dealing with a stressor.[2] Coping refers to behaviors that attempt to protect oneself from psychological damage.[3] Variations of avoidance coping include modifying or eliminating the conditions that gave rise to the problem and changing the perception of an experience in a way that neutralizes the problem.[3]

Acceptance is unacceptable to most folks who have little or no wiggle room, are totally invested in things as they are, and are woefully unprepared for the sort of changes we, here, posit are inevitable. They are stuck with, and generally content in, their denial-cum-delusion. Even when events challenge their world view, they quickly revert to their comfort zones. That this is exploited by those in positions of power is nothing new. An overall sense of uncertainty makes it easy. Invalidate and demonise the messengers and their message. The only thing to fear...

That said, some of these things are becoming painfully clear. Best hopes that our social fabric hasn't been worn too thin.

We know that global warming acceptance goes up and down with the local temperature curve. I wouln't mind some GW here in Sweden right now my self right now, so to speak. For people to hang on toe the warming trend undependent of the local weather, they need to de-attach them self from the local day to day conditions, and elevate them self above every day issues. Most folks that post here regularly has done that. Most people on this blue green marble spinning through space have not. If you have your "sensors" deeply entrenched in the current system, you will not want to learn something is wrong with it. My father was (among many other professions) a nurse. He worked at hospitals. His last words were "It may be a heart attack, but I am not sure, don't call an ambulance yet." We just don't want to see it happening to our self. And the cure to it is to go through that process of elevating your self and become de-attached. Not an option to most people.

Calm before the fan?
I like it.
American vernacular can still improvise fresh.
What you and lurker are asking is does somebody (!) know something we don't?
Hmmm. Like asking why 'they' let Lehman's go?
The Dow (and FTSE) ride high on very limited trading by historical standards.
I'm still throwing chicken bones.

Phil that is a really interesting question, Lehman Bros, could it have really been commitment to ideology? You know; faith in the Invisisble Hand? Hard to buy really as that is demonstrably BS for others than the percenters; they never want a level playing field but rather seek to socialise the cost to privatise the profit. The Market, is just a story. 'Wasteful Competeition' I believe is the true phrase.

The calm before the fan. - I agree.

It seems quite a few other commentators do too.

Gillem Tulloch China’s property bubble will burst in latter half of 2013

Chris Martenson Warning: Stocks Likely to Crater from Here

Gail Tverberg 2013: Beginning of Long-Term Recession?

Kyle Bass The Coming Crisis in Japan

Kyle Bass appears to be so sure of this that he has a 500 billion US dollar bet that Japan will crash by the end of this year. To me it seems highly unlikely that any bank or even government would be able to pay out that amount if he actually won.

I can't help but feel that we're perched at the cusp of the next stairstep, and that there's less than ever to soften the bump.. but to have the US facing these austerity choices starts sounding like we're not that far from the issues that Greece, Portugal & Co were diving into of late.

I think the US is looking more and more like Wiley Coyote as he has just run past the edge of the cliff into thin air and he suddenly looks down... OOPS!

You can draw that again!

In my opinion its less political than commercial. They want to attract investors to continue the goodtimes (for drilling). Politics is probably secondary, although these folks would like to slow down renewables, and more efficent vehicles etc. If I'm correct, it isn't an attempt to insulate the public from an expected sharp shock. Only time will tell.

Thanks for jumping in, Ben. Probably the right question is "what is to be gained from telling the truth?". What would be more damaging to the markets, and societies at large, telling people everything will be OK if they keep spending/consuming, or telling them to prepare for an extended (permanent?) period of increasing austerity? Besides, our "leaders" don't get to be leaders by being pessimists; not in our societies. Besides, what could they say? "Well,, we've been lying up to this point, but actually..." Economic growth and future prosperity for all is their story, and they're sticking to it.

So, #2 is what I consider as being as close to reality as we'll get. Besides, the oligarchy isn't done with the rest of us yet. Disaster capitalism is alive and well.

"Well,, we've been lying up to this point, but actually..."

oil is subject to the science of Geology, i.e. it is finite and as crude production peaks the price rises as we've seen lately. What follows is the govt. takes on trillion dollar plus deficits and trillion dollar QE progrms to hold everything together in hopes that the Science of Geology is inaccurate and the price of oil will get cheap again, boosting the economy. That this party can just go on ad infinitum, but the reality is if we stop QE's and balance the budget the economy will collapse. Sorry folks, the jig is up and we now need to come down off our cheap energy ladden sugar high and learn to live in a world that is scaling back. A time to get out of the Hummer and pick up a farm implement, to go from almost no labor to hard labor, from dates from the middle east to plums from the backyard.

Because Wall Street decided there was money to be made. What we're seeing is a typical media blitz to herd investors' money into the next big thing. Investors always fall for it, the fashionable innovative high-tech near limitless potential ponzi schemes of the financiers. This time its supposedly fracking and high-tech innovations that unlock oil & gas from previously uneconomic sources.

Certainly true - it is just the next bubble.

Certainly true - it is just the next bubble.

So has the BOP been tested and is it gonna work? Or is she just gonna blow?

It's a very large gas bubble, and I think we all know how that can hurt....

Hi Ben,
I agree the abundant-oil meme is being widely spread. I am reminded of something that the late Matt Simmons said in one of his talks (sorry, can't recall which one exactly, but there are a collection of interviews here)


It was to the effect that the existing oil infrastructure is old and wearing out, and that in addition to a bunch of expensive new drilling we need (in America) a bunch of expensive replacement pipelines, refineries, tankers, etc.. and Europe has similar issues. In all, Simmons estimated that the worldwide renovation bill would be 15 trillion dollars.

Now raising that kind of money takes some advertising, so its possible that we are seeing this now, and it will have to keep becoming more persuasive at time goes on.

i wonder what Simmons would have thought about $.38/watt solar panels though... $15T will buy a lot of solar.

Robert Hirsch says

Worldwide machinery operating on oil is valued at $50 to $100 trillion (Automobiles, airplanes, tractors, trucks, ships, buses, etc.)


$15T will indeed buy a lot of PV panles. Electric motors will likely need batteries, and given the price difference between electric cars and normal cars, it's going to take a lot, lot more then $15T of PV panels to replace ageing oil infrastructure.

Worldwide machinery operating on oil is valued at $50 to $100 trillion (Automobiles, airplanes, tractors, trucks, ships, buses, etc.)

How much value will it lose as oil becomes more scarce and expensive?

For all that machinery, remember "rust never sleeps". All of this stuff has a finite lifetime, although generally trucks last longer than cars, ships longer than trucks, etc.

I imagine it will be on a scale with the housing market burst. Without any hope of a recovery, and unlike housing the sunk cost will result in a useless asset. Not a pretty predicament, especially if you are supposed to be investing. Who will have any money to invest?

.. which leaves the fine opportunity to ONLY replace for need, not for current desire.

Only if youo are thinking long term. I see no evidence of that. What fraction of new cars are battery powered? Considering battery powered cars are light years ahead of battery powered; harvesters, ocean liners, planes and trucks we have a weee way to go yet.

To produce 25TW of average electricity from good locations will require 125TW of PV nameplate capacity. If prices continue to follow Swanson's law, prices will reach $.12/watt, so 25TW will cost $15T. Over 15-20 years that and storage is achievable.
The planning challenge will arise because there is no longer enough fossil fuel to provide the energy to manufacture the solar infrastructure, so it must 'bootstrap', and solar panels must be made from solar power. That means that buildout must rise exponentially from an initially low level - there will be a dip in gdp as FF's run out and before solar is built.

I'd call 'Swansons law' more of a principal then a law. I think we have all lost sight of what constitutes a scientific law. Clearly the price of raw materials and energy put a floor under the price of anything.

I'm not sure how effective bootstrapping will be, given that not all of the energy used to create PV panels is electric, the raw materials are extracted by oil powered machines, and refined with coal, shipped by oil. The steel support structures also require a phenominal ammount of energy to produce. The growing of the crystals and producing of the cells could be done with solar power, but obviously with pleanty of quality storage.

A dip in GDP constitutes a recession, and with the cause being the run out of FF's I'm not that confident there will be the resources available to stage a viable recovery for PV.

The Hirsh report seemed to say we need to start 20 years before peak oil. I doubt we have that long. Take care of yourself, and get as far away from large population centers as possible. As individuals it's easier to decide to use our own renewable power. I wouldn't be waiting around for the govt to try and plan it all, and implement it.

Current global ff thermal output is 16 TW from all sources. Your solar power costs include fixed costs of land prices for the land the solar power plants will sit on - which have been rising since time immemorial. So don't look for solar power costs to decline continuously*.

*Unless of course large tracts of land are just available for *free* for solar power siting.

*Unless of course large tracts of land are just available for *free* for solar power siting.

While certainly not 'FREE' in any sense of the word, there is certainly an opportunity for cost effectively repurposing both commercial and private rooftops, areas such as parking lots, highway medians, etc, etc...

It´s past time to start thinking outside the box icosahedronic enclosure!

Ben – A number of points. “A message that things are suddenly different…because of unconventional oil and gas.” Nothing is different today. Numerous unconventional reserves have been developed in this country for more than 50 years. The first commercial NG trend (the New Albany Shale) in the U.S. was developed over 100 years ago. Because of the price spike is oil and NG along with all the MSM hype about frac’ng it may seem new to many. But what was “new” back in ’08 were NG prices shooting up past $10/mcf and more recently oil prices bouncing around $100/bbl. I mentioned the other day that I consider the boom in the shale oil shales plays to be one of the best proofs of PO. The shales wouldn’t be booming if it wasn’t for high oil prices. And we have high oil prices because of the Peak Oil Dynamic.

“…become the top producer worldwide in a few years.” Not really a big leap in expectations there. The U.S. has been one of the largest oil producers on the planet since the beginning. Wasn’t too many decades ago that we produced more oil then OPEC combined. And when they speak of energy independence the US has been the leading producer of NG on the planet more often than not during the last 100 years. The title swung back and forth between us and Russia. Currently the U.S. and Russia produce almost half the NG in the world.

“A message that those concerned about 'Peak Oil' have been proven wrong.” Oil production peaked in the U.S. over 40 years ago. That can’ be proved wrong…the numbers are well documented. Will the U.S. ever exceed the peak oil production we hit in 1971? Everyone has an opinion but the fact remains: the U.S. has reached PO. Has the world reached PO? Given the lack of transparency by the major oil exporting nations it’s difficult to prove IMHO. But opinions abound.

Why the optimism? If we attacked Iran there’s no amount of spin in the universe that will prevent oil from spiking and the world not only panicking but major economic collapse IMHO.

How important is keeping the BAU expectation alive? Tens of $trillions in capital are tied up in the world’s stock markets not just based upon expectations of BAU but actually better times ahead. Who would be motivated to squash such dreams? “Some major field somewhere…is very nearly about to water out“. Actually every major and minor field is depleting. The only question is when. It isn’t relevant IMHO when Ghawar or any other field depletes. It’s the balance between energy production capacity and demand. That determines the price of energy…not what fields may be watering out soon or what new production will be brought on soon.

As I’ve said before the DATE of U.S. or global PO is of little interest to me. What’s critically important is the interaction between prices, supplies, economic growth (or lack thereof), distribution of energy resources, environmental issues, political and military maneuvering, development of alts, expansion of coal production, exporting U.S. LNG, etc., etc. To save words I just call it the POD…Peak Oil Dynamic. The POD is affecting the lives of everyone on the planet today. If not directly then indirectly due to AGW.

The POD determines what life will be for all of us stumbling around today as well as these unborn generations. IMHO laying out the true potential ramifications of the POD won’t help the stock market investors or politicians trying to get elected by offering hope and change.

Fine words.

I've said it for a long time - Rockman needs to write a book. Let me rephrase that - we need for Rockman to write a book.

I have learned so much from his posts here, and it really ought to be gathered into a book. It's not just that he has the info, which he does, it's that he has a really clear way of explaining some rather complicated concepts. An uncommon skill.

But I don't know if there's enough Blue Bell Ice Cream in the world to entice him into such a project, alas...

It seems like he has already written one.. anybody got an inner editor crying out for a big project? It might only cost a couple pallettes of BlueBell and a nice E-bike.. and a piece of the action, of course.

 photo RockMan.jpg

Sadly I can't even be bribed with BBIC. Have lost 24# with more to go. An even bigger problem: a lack of a receptive audience. TOD is a unique part of the population. Not that we all agree with each other on every issue but we'll usually constructively debate matters. There are some here that will advance up the intellectual evolution ladder and then there are others who won’t agree with me. LOL.

Long ago I gave up the frustration of try to change attitudes of folks who are either intellectually unable to comprehend or, more commonly, refuse reconsideration for ideological reasons. As a geologist that has had 3X as many ideas rejected as approved during his career I know one shouldn’t try to teach pigs to roller skate: frustrates you and pisses the pigs off. There are a lot of folks out there that could clue the citizens in on the reality of the energy situation. Some choose not to try for less than honorable reasons. Others because they don't have access. But the biggest roadblock IMHO is the fact that they would essentially be selling a concept. A concept for which there is very little market for a variety of reasons. Sorta like trying to sell sand to a Saudi.

The top-post "Rains or Not, India Is Falling Short on Drinkable Water" is well worth reading.

Providing drinkable water is one of the cheapest and most profitable investments a country can make. As well as improving health, it frees up the time of half the population (women) to do more important things than fetch water and cart wet laundry for miles. Things like teaching their kids to read and write. With a reliable water supply, factories can operate, and more people can have jobs (and rich people can get richer).

But India can't be bothered to attempt even this most basic of improvements. It's proposing to spend the equivalent of $2.30 per person on water supplies. No, not per day. For the year. That's not even enough to stabilise the condition of the water systems they do have.

I get mad when I consider how India's politicians and wealthy elites so casually blight the lives of their fellow citizens - and even kill them through this kind of negligence. But India is no different to most other countries...

Most countries, India among them, are going to be devastated when the effects of climate change start to become more intense.

As bad as that is, here was the real kicker for me:

"And India’s water problems are likely to worsen. A report that McKinsey & Company helped to write predicted that India would need to double its water-generation capacity by the year 2030 to meet the demands of its surging population."

So... it's taken as inevitable that they/we must somehow "find a way" to suck even *more* groundwater out of India's rapidly depleting aquifers or perhaps build dozens of multi-billion dollar oceanwater desalination plants (powered by hope and financed by goodwill no doubt), but absolutely NO discussion around reducing population in a country that is already horrendously overpopulated with 1.25 billion people. Once again, population control is a taboo/off-the-table/non-starter subject.

I wonder what would happen to India's "water crisis" (or electrical grid problems, or pollution problems, or poverty problems, or lack of technological development, etc., etc.) if they were to adopt a strict 1 child policy and enforce it for a couple generations? And perhaps couple it with a strategic effort to achieve universal literacy and universal publicly financed higher education (especially for women)? How bad would these (finite resource based limitation) problems be if India had only 300 million people? But then I'm just a commie socialist and delusional dreamer.

'Green Revolution' Trapping India's Farmers In Debt


One example is of an Indian farmer that had to drill down 200 feet to get to water, then needed a 4,000 dollar pump to get the water to the surface, but the banks won't provide the loan, so the farmer had to go to a 2ndary loan source and pay 26% interest, but that meant some of the family members had to move away, get jobs and send money home to make it work, and even then the water is so deep it draws up salt water that damages roots and ends up as a white residue at the edge of the farm.

If some farmers are having to drill down 200 feet to get to water, then how much longer or should I ask, deeper can they go and still have viable farming? Deeper will mean higher costs to drill, for the pump and a higher salt content. Surely this is not going to work much longer.

Maybe when it doesn't work any longer will be when all the family members will have had to leave to get jobs, including the head farmer.

There were also reports of deep wells in Bangladesh containing high arsenic levels. Are they running into that problem as well in India?

Arsenic is a problem unique to the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta (East India), part of which extends into India as well. It's a modern problem because that part of the world has never had to depend on ground water so extensively, I am from that region and we usually have so much surface water that we've never had to dig wells let alone bore wells. Every house usually has a small personal water reservoir of it's own known as 'pukur' in local language. We used to worry about floods, never droughts.

Otherwise the underground water has a very high salt content, the borewell where I currently live (South India) is at 400 ft, the water has such a high salt content that the vessels turn white if water is allowed to stagnate, I can't imagine what it's doing to the soil.

Apparently Beijing, in China, is drawing on Karst water supplies 1000 meters deep.


As the climate warms, the monsoon season from June through September may lengthen. If the subtropical jet stream stays north of the Himalayas, instead of switching to the south during the winter, monsoon conditions might be year around.

A big driver of monsoons, is differential heating (more over land, and especially over large high elevation areas). The Asian monsoon is driven mainly by the Tibetan plateau heating up. The weaker US monsoon is driven by the (lower and smaller) Colorado plateau. I saw a forecast that said that with GW, the overall strength of the SW monsoon should stay about the same, but that it would be delayed. Today its mainly July/August, and they were predicting it would move to September/October. If so that would be disastrous -the fire season used to be May-June, ending with the advent of the monsoon, if May-August is bone dry, everything is gonna burn. Don't know what it means for the much more important Asian monsoon.

The heating of the Tibetan plateau plays a role, but the interaction of the subtropical jet stream with the Himalayas does as well. Since the Himalays are high and roughly east to west, the jet can go north or south of them, and it is approximately a bistable system. IIRC, the jet has to switch to the north before the monsoon winds can reach northern India. Otherwise, they are blocked. If AGW causes the subtropical jet to move to higher latitudes, one would expect the jet to spend more time north of the Himalayas.

I agree, other circulatory factors come into play as well. One argument against the sulphate sunshield, is that at least during the few few years, the plateau would cool more than the Indian ocean, damping down the monsoon.

Another argument against the sulphate sunshield is that it is rank hubris, bordering on insanity.

Who gets to decide on something like this?

It's both politically incorrect and taboo for me to say this but a lot of problem stem from the concept of India itself, we used to have (traditionally) a wealth of knowledge on how to manage water locally using a system of check dams and reservoirs.

What happened was that when the country was founded in the name of maintaining the country's 'unity and integrity' the central (federal for you) government took away a lot of power from the local bodies and completely destroyed all systems of local self-management of resources. Resource management was now done in an AC Room 2000 km's away by some college graduate who had scored 140 on an IQ test but had never seen a water body in his/her life.

Now the people are so helpless that they can't even implement basic resource management measures without looking up to the central or provincial governments. It's a tangent but I found this wonderful post by Dmitry on the problems of imposing the concept of a nation state on unsuspecting people.


How bad would these (finite resource based limitation) problems be if India had only 300 million people? But then I'm just a commie socialist and delusional dreamer

Actually a lot of states in India have already contained or at least have started to contain the population problems. The state of TamilNadu for example has a TFR of 1.7 which is the same as that of Sweden, Kerala has a TFR of 1.8, West Bengal has a TFR of 1.9 (same as Mexico), it's the Northern states which have TFR's at Sub-Saharan levels and drag the whole country down.
It's popular to think of India as one monolithic entity, it's not, in reality it's a collection of different countries.

I was reading an interesting article on SRI (System of Rice Intensification) in India. It certainly looks promising.

This was not six or even 10 or 20 tonnes. Kumar, a shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India's poorest state Bihar, had – using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides – grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land. This was a world record and with rice the staple food of more than half the world's population of seven billion, big news...

..."Farmers use less seeds, less water and less chemicals but they get more without having to invest more. This is revolutionary," said Dr Surendra Chaurassa from Bihar's agriculture ministry. "I did not believe it to start with, but now I think it can potentially change the way everyone farms. I would want every state to promote it. If we get 30-40% increase in yields, that is more than enough to recommend it."...

..."Agriculture in the 21st century must be practised differently. Land and water resources are becoming scarcer, of poorer quality, or less reliable. Climatic conditions are in many places more adverse. SRI offers millions of disadvantaged households far better opportunities. Nobody is benefiting from this except the farmers; there are no patents, royalties or licensing fees."

I think I also read somewhere that people were getting good results even in highly saline soils with a pH in the 8 to 9 range. It was also reducing the pH from 8 down to 7, which doesn't sound much but is actually a big reduction that can improve existing crops and expand the range of crops grown.

When I get time I'm going to look into it a bit more.

"Nobody is benefiting from this except the farmers; there are no patents, royalties or licensing fees."

This can clearly NOT be allowed to go forward :-(

The Guardian first did that article, then there was a counter accusation by the Chinese about this being fake then a few newspapers in India picked this up, other than that this had no coverage at all. Imagine that, the biggest news for a long long time and no one picks it up. Justin Bieber's dog probably gets more air time.

The reason that no herbicides are used is that the rice is grown on 25 cm centers per plant and hand cultivated until the plants cover the ground. This hand cultivation kills weed and aerates the soil to improve root growth.

The main points seem to be:
- plant single plants, instead of clumps of 3 or 4,
- reduce plant density by half,
- plant while plants are smaller and take care to not shock roots,
- do not flood as much,
- hand cultivation to weed and aerate,
- use organic material to improve the soil.

Chemical fertilizers are used to the extent that tests show they are needed.

If you have a lot of manual labor available, it seems like an increase in yield is reasonable. A well tended garden always yields more than a random plot in a field.


Population density of India using data from the CIA World Factbook: 1,205,073,612 people / 2,973,193 km2 of land = 405 people/km2

No posts yet on the NatPost article about NDP Tom Mulcair (been eons since the NDP has been "The" opposition party) going to Washington DC USA to highlight the slide "south" in enviromental regulation and enforcement in Canada. I am not sure if Mulcair mentioned the muzzling of scientists or the closure of the ESA in Ontario. A different CDN papers slant is


In the Winnipeg Free Press Mulcair is only a couple of paragraphs in the middle of an article. Of course the "liberal" WFP is more concerned about Trudeau becoming leader of the now #3 Liberal party.


Not mentioned is the difference between NDP Mulcair and NDP Gary Doer who was appointed Ambassador to the USA by Harper. Of course one could argue about the huge difference between the Gary Doer who used to live in Winnipeg and was the Premier of Manitoba and the Gary Doer who now lives in DC.

Moi, not a big fan of Keystone but one does start to know when to accept fait accompli. Although it can be effective to crimp a straw to slow flow, ultimately it is more effective to decrease the demand at the end or consensually legislate a cap or limit of annual production at the source. Keystone XL's potential for short term environmental Macondo or Alaskan style oil spills seems puny to the various proposed west running twinned pipelines through various parts of BC over mountains and mountains and to tight harbours and an almost Bay of Fundy tidal range at northern most proposed harbour in Kitimat.

One view of the problem of going into Kitimat BC is here


There are several other articles and studies at the Tyee on this. They also did a several part study of the Enbridge Kalamazoo and differences between normal crude and dilbit, chemist from Cornell U I believe. Shorter article that talks about a potential spill in southern BC pipeline end is here.


It will be interesting to see if the NDP does smash the Grits (Liberal Party) in the British Columbia elections - if they will block all proposed diluted bitument pipelines or if they will modify their out of power positions upon returning to power in BC.

But in the end, even the New Democratic Party is unable to unite in opposing KeystoneXLfor a variety of reasons. They are orders of magnitude more progressive than Obama. Can one really believe that Obama will not allow the final miles of pipe before 2015?

Well, it is generally considered bad form for an opposition leader to go to a foreign country and bad mouth the policies of a majority government of his own country in front of foreign politicians without first running it past the voters in his own country in, eg, an election. Mulcair is a socialist and the American politicians he is talking to range from the right to extreme right of his political position, so I'm not sure what he hopes to accomplish. Maybe he just likes to hear himself talk.

The knives are going to be out for him in Canada, though, because there is serious money to be made by some provincial governments in oil exports, and some of those oil-producing provinces are strongholds of the NDP party. Mulcair can expect to be skinned and filleted by Western members of his own party at the provincial level in the next election.


Just another 'easterner' telling us what to do. (Mulcair). IMHO. The libs are self-destructing in BC and Trudeau is a joke who has worked just one gig in his life teaching at a private school in upscale Point Grey for 5 years. If any country has the idiocy to even consider such person for PM or political office then God help us all. And we thought Sarah Palin was fluff. It is very scary...and when I think about how many good non-politicians that might be out there to help lead our country and honestly work for good as opposed to power I want to cry. Perhaps Democracy only works at the immediate local level.

Who was it that said, "Politics makes us stupid"? When Harper abolishes the Senate I'll believe in politics again. Until then, I must remain cynical...hold my nose....shut my eyes...and vote the least damaging prospect for our home and family; party platform be damned.

I agree....Mulcair has no business trying to peddle his wares south of the border and should be held to account for it. It is extremely bad form and bypasses accepted process and convention.


From Wikipedia: " the first of three sons of Margaret (née Johnston) and Joseph Harris Harper, an accountant at Imperial Oil... Harper then enrolled at the University of Toronto but dropped out after two months.[7] He then moved to Edmonton, Alberta, where he found work in the mail room at Imperial Oil.[7] Later, he advanced to work on the company's computer systems. He took up post-secondary studies again at the University of Calgary, where he completed a bachelor's degree in economics. He later returned there to earn a master's degree in economics, completed in 1993. Harper has kept strong links to the University of Calgary, where he often lectured students. Harper is the most recent prime minister since Joe Clark without a law degree."

Justin Trudeau: "Trudeau has a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature from McGill University and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia. After graduation, he worked as a social studies and French teacher at West Point Grey Academy and Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in Vancouver, British Columbia.[14] From 2002 to 2004, he studied engineering at the Université de Montréal.[15] He also started a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Geography at McGill University before suspending his program to seek public office.[16]

Mcgill ranks 17th in the world Calgary 93rd and it becomes obvious where the loyalties lie.


"he studied engineering at the Université de Montréal.[15] He also started a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Geography at McGill University before suspending his program to seek public office.[16]"

Lots of people study many things...completing them and working at them is credible. I really doubt he worked more than a short time at his 'public school' and can guarantee he got his job because of his name. My offense arises out of hearing him address an education conference in Vancouver 7-8 years ago? At that time all the 'climbers' kept saying Justin Trudeau's going to speak, Justin Trudeau is going to speak and they fawned over every word he uttered. I listened for 20 minutes and left early as it soon became quite apparent that he was a non-issue with almost no teaching, work, or life experience. That night many of the same folks waxed on and on about his profound statements. I couldn't believe it. I was shocked because they were so caught up in the hype.

"He then moved to Edmonton, Alberta, where he found work in the mail room at Imperial Oil.[7] Later, he advanced to work on the company's computer systems. He took up post-secondary studies again at the University of Calgary, where he completed a bachelor's degree in economics."

I don't even like Harper but this sounds like a guy who said, "this isn't for me", started life working and decided he needed to make something of himself and did so. I just remember this old engineer I did some work for and he said something like, " I don't care what people know, I care about what they can do".

Trudeau does give a good speech. The women all thought he was good looking. He will one day exhibit the same arrogance his father had, I am sure. I will be very sorry if he is one day our Prime Minister.

As for oil and energy and work going forward, Harper may run his ship too tight, but his actions speak for themselves. Unfortunately, some of these actions are quite wrong-headed and damaging as far as the environment goes. Apologies if I have offended anyone about this and for being OT. My blood boils over image vrs abilities, but then that's politics these days, isn't it?


Here we go! The first intra-party NDP knife just came out for Mulcair in the NDP stronghold of Saskatchewan. This stuff is so darn predictable if you know the territory. You would think that Mulcair could see it coming, too, since it's his party, but I guess not. Skinned and filleted in the West come next election, that's my prediction for him.

Sask. NDP leader rejects Mulcair on pipeline after federal leader is accused of ‘betraying our country’

Saskatchewan’s NDP leader on Wednesday affirmed his support for the Keystone XL pipeline project, a stance that doesn’t exactly match up with what federal leader Tom Mulcair has been saying in Washington, DC, all week.

“To clear the record … I support the Keystone XL pipeline because of a triple bottom line assessment looking at environmental, economic and social reasons,” Cam Broten told reporters at the legislature, according to the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix.

When asked on Wednesday how his expressed support for the pipeline would impact his relationship with Mulcair, Broten, who was only recently elected, said Saskatchewan is his priority.

“Mulcair will make his comments,” he told the newspaper. “My job first and foremost is to stand up for Saskatchewan’s interests, to develop our resources in a sustainable and responsible manner, and that’s the approach that I’ll be taking and our caucus and party will be taking with me as leader.”

All rather petty compared to the government itself ...

Harper's Attack on Democracy

There is a widespread view among political scientists and constitutional scholars that the prime minister, with his l’etat c’est moi methods, has brought Canadian democracy to new lows.

Steve Keen in second half of Max Keiser

[KR418] Keiser Report: Banksters Smoke Bellybutton Lint


"Professor Keen says we need to get back to a capitalism where we borrow to build a factory not to build a derivative to rip someone off."

New internal combustion engine could boost electric cars


I'm sure an engr had an idea of in line pistons long ago. But having the combustion in the center is interesting.

This concept was patented a few years ago. I remember commenting on it here or a similar site.

Neat idea for a range extending engine. If and when it works.

Engineers have been tinkering with unusual engines like this for 120 years, but they've never taken off, and for good reasons. But isn't the most efficient type of internal combustion engine a gas turbine? A small gas turbine used to charge a battery might be the way to go.

The Museum of Retro Technology.
Unusual Internal-Combustion Engines.

Brickley Engine

An interesting animation, and nice theoretical claims. Don't know that they've built one.

So the IEA says that we will have 10.59 mbpd production by 2013 by the US???? Hey! This is 2013! Where on earth are they getting these numbers? I assume we are dealing with a colossal misprint. What gives?

From the EIA International Energy Statistics total oil supply for the U.S. in November 2012: 11,653.900 kb/d = 11.6539 Mb/d

Their notion of oil is crude oil, natural gas condensate, natural gas plant liquids (2,515.733 kb/d, ethane, butane, propane, pentane, isopentane), other liquids (1,127.133 kb/d, ethanol?, biodiesel?) and refinery processing gain (1,118.433 kb/d, fictional increase in volume).

Mmmm, smell the propaganda fresh off the presses.

Interesting article about food allergies.

Until recently, one common explanation for the rise of food allergies was the so-called hygiene hypothesis — the idea that the modern obsession with sanitation prevents children from being exposed to the bacteria and the parasites that enable the immune system to develop. With the immune system underemployed, so to speak, it begins to attack harmless targets. This hypothesis, however, has fallen out of favor; among other things, it turns out that allergies are rising worldwide, from Rio de Janeiro to Shanghai, in Europe and Britain, across environments that have a range of sanitary conditions. Moreover, children who grow up on farms with exposure to dirt and parasites and animals do not appear to have lower rates of food allergies (although they do have lower rates of environmental allergies, like hay fever or reactions to animals).

Apparently, the current theory is that it's epigenetics to blame. Pesticides, pollution, diet, or other elements of modern life may be modifying the way genes are expressed. Among the data points: having a parent or grandparent who smoked increases your risk of food allergies, even if you were never exposed to the smoke yourself.

Also interesting: people who are treated for food allergies (via desensitizing) have epigenetic changes in their genes. Researchers hope this means they will be less likely to pass on their allergies to their children.

So it is the chemicals? I always suspected it is either over hygien or exposure to chemicals. Seems like it is the latter then.

An Electric Car Company Is On The Verge Of Becoming The Next Solyndra

The sudden resignation on Wednesday of Henrik Fisker, co-founder and executive chairman of hybrid electric automaker Fisker, puts the company's already uncertain future on even shakier ground.

In a statement sent to Autocar, Henrik Fisker cited "major disagreements" with "executive management on the business strategy." In its own statement, the carmaker said its strategy has not changed, and that Fisker's departure should not impact its partnerships or financing.

Whatever the details, it is another troubling sign for the hybrid automaker, which is seeking new financing after vastly underperforming growth expectations from September 2009, when it received a $528.7-million conditional loan from the Department of Energy.

For the White House, Fisker has the making of another green loan going bad.

I hope they do make it, but they missed too many deadlines that were probably overly optimistic to begin with. That is the nature of it, you have to promise the moon to get some money, then you have to deliver to get more. That is not the highest probability for success when defined by unrealistic expectations.

Fisker need to go away. They built a beautiful car . . . but it is too heavy, the gas-only MPG is TERRIBLE, and it seems to have a habit of catching on fire. Fisker dying will be another black-eye for the EV biz but it is better to take your lumps and get it over with. Let them fail and let the better cars continue along.

It is annoying how articles like that always mention the big approved loan size up-front and talk about it going bad . . . but only near the end of the article do they mention that the DoE cut them off from the loan when they missed their milestones such that we are NOT going to lose that much money.

And yes . . . Fisker IS very much like Solyndra. They are a green energy company failing not because green energy is a big failure but because other green energy competitors did a much better job than they did. Solyndra may be dead but Solar panel installations are happening faster than every. Fisker is ailing but there are now many other better EVs on the market.

Put together a company that's never mass-produced cars with a company that's never mass-produced batteries. That's going to work...

But as W'm Goldman said, "Nobody knows anything.."

A friend was just talking to me about a couple Bike Mechanics from Ohio an hour ago.. one never knows, does one?

The difference, is that when those bike mechanics got started, no one anywhere knew squat about aviation. But today we have huge well entrenched automobile companies.

Excuses, excuses.

I don't think that having experience as a modern day car mfr is the automatic prerequisite to taking the next turns in the transp road..

If you want to compete for things that are called cars, the big boys, have multibillion dollar R&D budgets for each model they produce. Your garage shop, -or even $500million dollar startup just can't compete against that. The safety game is a big hurdle, you need a team of experts that switches between design simulation and experiments to get decent crash test results. Starting from scratch that probably takes a few years -maybe the team won't be any good until the second or third product design cycle. But if your first product isn't on time and successful your start up cash will be long gone before that.

They guys with really good concepts, can probably consult for the big boys, maybe they will even buy you out. At least that way your concept if it has merit can make it into a real word product with tens of thousands of units or more made.

Excuses, excuses.

Fifty ways to leave your lover... Simon and Garfunkel

Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan
Don't need to be coy, Roy, just listen to me
Hop on the bus, Gus, don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free.

Phoenix May Not Survive Climate Change

If cities were stocks, you’d want to short Phoenix.

Of course, it’s an easy city to pick on. The nation’s 13th largest metropolitan area (nudging out Detroit) crams 4.3 million people into a low bowl in a hot desert, where horrific heat waves and windstorms visit it regularly. It snuggles next to the nation’s largest nuclear plant and, having exhausted local sources, it depends on an improbable infrastructure to suck water from the distant (and dwindling) Colorado River.

In Phoenix, you don’t ask: What could go wrong? You ask: What couldn’t? ... As you might expect, academics have come up with a name for such breakdowns: infrastructure failure interdependencies.

The last people to give it a try resorted to cannibalism.
Phoenix is not remotely survivable in its current formation.

Phoenix depends a lot of the Palo Verde nuclear power plant to provide electricity for all the air conditioners. If you think about Phoenix or Las Vegas, those would not be the first places you chose to build cities.

But is that the best place within, say 100 miles?

(and if the humidity rises in hot places - how can Humans keep cool?)

The Salt and Gila rivers provided a little water to get Phoenix started. Now, even with the water from the Colorado, the aquifers are being mined for water.

It once supported an ubanized Native American population, which abandoned the place when the climate turned dry. Could happen again.

"Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over." Mark Twain

Las Vegas is actually an excelent place to build a SMALL town. It has a natural source of water (what do you think Las Vegas mean?). But once a town is established, they tend to grow. You can not grow Las Vegas without importing stuff like water and food.

I live in Tucson just south of Phoenix, and I can tell you that even at 1/4 the size, this place is set to fail. I hope that BAU can hold on for another decade, when I can retire from my current job and literally run to the hills. If society doesn't make it a decade, my family may not make it at all.

I tell the kids to move away from here after high school. I sure hope they listen!

I hope that BAU can hold on for another decade, when I can retire from my current job and literally run to the hills.

Hey cync2, not trying to pick on you personally here and I highly doubt that you are unique in holding on to that hope. In many ways I´m guilty of it myself.

However I think if we all continue in this mind set of holding on to BAU just a little bit longer we are doomed to failure in the long run. If your retirement is dependent on BAU what makes you think you will be able to reap the benefits if BAU collapses?!

To be clear I have no crystal ball or any universal solutions but I´m well on the way to cutting my own dependency on BAU as most of us know it... it sure ain´t easy but it is possible.

Best hopes for more and faster transition away from the mental chains that bind us.

Live Free or Die!


But Phoenix must be a good place for solar power?

With solar on every rooftop and a few CSP plants you've got the electricity...
New ideas on storage will extend solar PV power later in the day...

There will be immense scope for saving energy - sunlight dry clothes, not tumble driers, LEDs...

Stop watering (growing) lawns, ditch the swimming pools...

I'm sure you can do it - see here:

"the US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) yesterday released a major new report revealing that the sector enjoyed another record year of growth in 2012, after more than 3.3GW of new capacity was installed.

The report calculated that even as the cost of solar technologies continued to fall the size of the solar market grew 34 per cent in 2012 to $11.5bn.

The surge in new installations meant that by the end of 2012 the US boasted 7.2GW of solar PV capacity and a further 546MW of concentrated solar thermal capacity, together providing enough power for 1.2 million homes".


There is no doubt Phoenix would be a great place for solar power either photovoltaic or thermal or concentrated with parabolic mirrors. And there is no doubt that Phoenix should stop wasting water growing lawns, auto addiction sprawl (they have recently started a LightRail line at least),etc.

However when your heat is over 100 Fahrenheit even at night, they are facing increasing storms, and dwindling water supplies you have to ask why 4 million people should be living there in the first place!


Sixty years ago, when Phoenix was just embarking on its career of manic growth, nighttime lows never crept above 90°F. Today such temperatures are a commonplace, and the vigil has begun for the first night that doesn’t dip below 100°F. Studies indicate that Phoenix’s urban-heat-island effect may boost nighttime temperatures by as much as 10°F. It’s as though the city has doubled down on climate change, finding a way to magnify its most unwanted effects even before it hits the rest of us full blast.

It might make sense to have some people there as the planet warms to run grid-connected solar power. But 4 million people in the increasingly hot and dry desert is bonkers. It is as absurd as Dubai's plan for "indoor skiing" in the Arabian desert!

Musical chairs comes to mind, not sure why.

From the folks who commanded the sea to stop rising ...

Ah, Wilderness! Mountain Man vs. the Building Inspector

Eustace Conway says he has stared down a grizzly bear, wrestled a thrashing buck and ridden a horse from coast to coast. But he may have met his match in the Watauga County planning department.

He traps, shoots and grows much of his own food, makes pants out of buckskin and stitches his own wounds. He bathes in the cold creek that rolls through his 1,000-acre Turtle Island preserve in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. And he teaches others how to live off the land.

... Last fall, a team of health, construction and fire officials showed up for an unannounced inspection of the preserve, acting on an anonymous tip. Escorted by two sheriffs' deputies, they executed what Mr. Conway describes as a "SWAT-team raid"—peering into outhouses, stomping around log cabins, and climbing hand-hewn ladders.

Their findings are compiled in a 78-page report with a bullet-point list of violations. Mr. Conway's sawdust urinal and outhouses? Unpermitted, according to the officials. The wood he used to erect two dozen buildings? Built with lumber that isn't "grade-marked," meaning it doesn't specify the mill where it was produced.

The open-air kitchen, with its crates of potatoes and stacks of pots? "Not protected from insects and animals," according to the report. "It is, in fact, outdoors."

... The county says Mr. Conway must rebuild or tear down his cabins, barn, kitchen, blacksmith shop and sawmill, and create a septic system before hosting any more classes and camps.

Mr. Conway's sawdust urinal and outhouses? Unpermitted, according to the officials. The wood he used to erect two dozen buildings? Built with lumber that isn't "grade-marked," meaning it doesn't specify the mill where it was produced.

Just curious, is this Mr Conway´s private property we are talking about here? A sawdust urinal sounds like a pretty straightforward attempt at making and using a what is commonly known as a composting toilet. If properly constructed it should be at least as or more hygenic than your typical septic system or your friendly neighborhood bear sh!tting in your local woods... I assume the local bears do not relieve themselves in fancy gold plated commodes in those parts!

As for the non grade marked lumber he has used for constructing his sheds, log cabins, outhouses and assorted ladders, perhaps he should prove their stress worthiness by doing a public demonstration, deep within his property limits, of how well the beams hold up to smacking the team of health, construction and fire officials, upside the head with a few well chosen samples!

Someone should also remind Mr Conway that in the US of A he has the right to bear arms to protect himself from certain types of goverment meddling. He should get himself a double barreled shot gun, saw off the barrels and get a good supply of gunpowder and some rocksalt and next time the official invade his private property they should be prepared to end up with some very raw and smarting behinds...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I´m sure the local officials are just trying to make Mr Conway comply with their local ordinances so as to protect the unwary and naive members of the pulic, should they sign up for a course on how to survive in the wilderness. The poor schmucks might unwittingly find themselves in great danger of having to actually survive in 'THE WILDERNESS'. Not to mention the unprecedented harm they might cause the local environment, should they urinate in buckets filled with sawdust. Oh, the horror!

Perhaps Mr Conway would be better off renting the convention hall down at the local Holiday Inn and give his wilderness survival course there, buckets and all... /rant!

Turtle Island Preserve

When your run a business, you get tangled up in regulations. Price for summer camp appears to be $100/day per child.

When your run a business, you get tangled up in regulations.

Yes, I know. However his business as stated on this website is to teach people to do precisely the opposite of what the so called regulations require. So I am not in the least surprised that the local officialdom would place his operation in their crosshairs and try to make him toe the line...

He isn´t exactly trying to run a Disney themed kiddie camp for criminy´s sake!

About Turtle Island Preserve

Turtle Island is located in a remote hidden valley at the end of a long gravel road. Our programs are full of lifestyle practices of earlier people from our great grandparent's time and back into prehistory. We orient to the basic foundation of where things come from and where things go. We plant and harvest in our gardens, milk goats, make butter, soap, bowls, spoons and tools of all size and description. We hunt and gather wild foods and medicines and natural resources abounding in our huge natural preserve. We cook on a fire, gathering our own wood. We completely made the many buildings of our farmstead; carved literally from the wilderness.

Accommodations for guests are simple shelters i.e., log houses and primitive tents. We really believe in getting back in touch with the natural world. We use outhouses for our bathrooms and learn to "go outdoors." This is a complete cultural experience not a watered down viewing. When a group comes here it is life changing for them. That is our vision, goal, and success! We get hands on "experiential" activities going whether harnessing a mule or pounding metal at the blacksmith shop or killing a rooster for supper.

Some people mistake a description of primitive living with "roughing it" but actually our ancestors moved gracefully with a balanced rhythm through daily economic challenges. It is the sophisticated "modern man" that, in his bumbling ignorance of earlier natural lifestyles, finds himself truly uncomfortably "roughing it" through his inability and discomfort of trying to exist in his "foreign environment" of nature.

Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion: study

Ten years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, researchers have released the first comprehensive analysis of direct and indirect human and economic costs of the war that followed. According to the report, the war has killed at least 190,000 people, including men and women in uniform, contractors, and civilians and will cost the United States $2.2 trillion — a figure that far exceeds the initial 2002 estimates by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget of $50 to $60 billion.

The Iraq War will ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion. Because the Iraq war appropriations were funded by borrowing, cumulative interest through 2053 could amount to more than $3.9 trillion.

Costs of War has released its findings online, at www.costsofwar.org, to spur public discussion about the Iraq war.

And might even be more than that, according to Joe Stiglitz in his 2008 book, "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict":

[description of book by Amazon]:
"Apart from its tragic human toll, the Iraq War will be staggeringly expensive in financial terms. This sobering study by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda J. Bilmes casts a spotlight on expense items that have been hidden from the U.S. taxpayer, including not only big-ticket items like replacing military equipment (being used up at six times the peacetime rate) but also the cost of caring for thousands of wounded veterans—for the rest of their lives. . .."

On the other hand, it can't be, since George Bush said it couldn't be so when he fired Lawrence Lindsey for saying it could cost as much as $200 million/year


"Declassified documents now reveal what everybody, especially the Iraqis, always knew: the US invaded Iraq to secure its oil supplies for US and allied companies. It hasn’t quite worked out as planned."
by Jean-Pierre Séréni


Wasn't there debate about that idea back when TOD was new?

I wasn't familiar with the Oil Drum at the time, but recall it being noted in 2007 that Greenspan had gone on record as having written 'I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.' http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/sep/16/iraq.iraqtimeline . Of course at the time this was dismissed in the media as the imaginings of an old man. At any rate, given the prominence of people having backgrounds in the oil industry in the Bush administration, there would certainly have been an awareness that: (a) easy to find oil that could be cheaply extracted was becoming a thing of the past and; (b) the dependence of the US and other western countries on Middle East oil was a cause for concern.

Interestingly, there seem to be some recent efforts to whitewash the original decision: e.g., http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/03/14/steve_hadley_at_fp_i_sh...

Solar power has record year despite bankruptcies

It was a record year for solar installations in the United States in 2012, boosting an industry still struggling with consolidation and bankruptcies.

Over 3.3 gigawatts of solar power were installed last year, according to a report Thursday from the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group. That's enough to power about 500,000 homes, and it was a 76% increase from 2011.

The industry credited the jump to the declining price of solar panels, stable tax incentives and better financing options....

...The cost of solar power is competitive with other energy sources in some U.S. markets, such as California and New Jersey, where subsidies are generous and the price of electricity is high. But if you exclude the big subsides and mandates the industry enjoys, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says the cost for new solar electricity nationwide is still more than twice that of the nation's cheapest power source -- natural gas.

We'll see as the NG bubble bursts,, and how many gas wells are guaranteed to still produce >80% of their original output after 20 years?

Monarch butterflies drop ominously in Mexico

The number of Monarch butterflies making it to their winter refuge in Mexico dropped 59 percent this year, falling to the lowest level since comparable record-keeping began 20 years ago, scientists reported Wednesday.

It was the third straight year of declines for the orange-and-black butterflies that migrate from the United States and Canada to spend the winter sheltering in mountaintop fir forests in central Mexico. Six of the last seven years have shown drops, and there are now only one-fifteenth as many butterflies as there were in 1997.

The decline in the Monarch population now marks a statistical long-term trend and can no longer be seen as a combination of yearly or seasonal events, the experts said.

... This winter, the butterflies covered just 2.93 acres (1.19 hectares), down from 7.14 acres (2.89 hectares) last year.

Canaries in the Coalmine

Here is an encouraging sign from the progressive Website http://counterpunch.org popping the Shale Oil/ Gas cornucopian propaganda bubble:

The Great Shale Oil Swindle

March 14, 2013
What Happens When the Boom Goes Bust?
The Great Shale Oil Swindle

Recent headlines in the US press about the coming economic boom heralded by the shale gas revolution would lead you to think we are literally swimming in oil. A spate of reports last year, in particular the International Energy Agency’s (IEA)World Energy Outlook (WEO) in November 2012, forecast that the US will outstrip Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2017, becoming, as Reuters put it, “all but self-sufficient in net terms” in energy production. According to the IEA, the projected increase in oil production from 84 mbpd (million barrels per day) in 2011 to 97 mbpd in 2035 will come “entirely from natural gas liquids and unconventional sources” — largely shale oil and gas — while conventional oil output will begin to fall from 2013.


A few years ago Counterpunch and Alexander Cockburn, its founding light, were pushing the
"abiotic oil" meme primarily as they presumed "Peak Oil" was a conspiracy to push nuclear power. But those days are long gone and Alexander Cockburn is dearly departed.

Increasingly Counterpunch authors have been recognizing Peak Oil and resources as real and critical issues not conspiracies by "oil speculators".

Just for the record...he's not a Counterpunch author. That article has been posted several times previously; I believe the original source is French monthly paper Le Monde diplomatique, some time last month. It's been syndicated by AG.

Cockburn was also an outspoken AGW denier. He had a pretty full plate, and I guess that was just too much for him to take on board.

Cockburn was also a Global Warming Denier.
His ideology came first, reason and critical thinking second.

More US States Weigh Gasoline Taxes

Wyoming was the first to make the leap this year, raising its tax to 24 cents per gallon from 14 cents on Feb. 15. It was the first increase in the state's gasoline tax in 15 years.

Governors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Vermont have proposed raising fuel taxes, and the New Hampshire legislature will hold a hearing on Thursday on a bill that would phase in a 15-cent-per-gallon increase.

Best hopes for raising gasoline taxes to account for inflation.

It is progress but you have plenty more leeway to go yet. Current government tax on car fuel in the UK is equivalent to over $4 on a US gallon. Similar taxes across Europe as well - it does not take a graduate of anything other than life to determine why small, high-miler cars are the most common!


Volkswagen Finally Debuts Its First EV: The Pint-Sized ‘E-Up!’

The official debut of the E-Up! (exclamation point courtesy of VW) is slated for the Frankfurt Motor Show later this year, after which V-Dub will begin taking orders. It’s a nice enough car on paper, but that’s academic because we’ll never see it. It’ll be a Euro-only affair when it arrives early next year. The bigger E-Golf, which sports more range and, presumably, power, goes on sale in the U.S. later in 2014.

VW claims the E-Up! can get an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes, making it one of the fastest charging EVs available.

Argentina's Bad Seeds

Cristina Kirchner, the president of Argentina, is one of Monsanto’s strongest advocates. Last year, in an unguarded moment, she was caught on live television with a Monsanto brochure in her hand extolling the company’s virtues. "I want to show you Monsanto's prospectus." she said, "It makes me very proud. Their commitment to investing here is enshrined in this prospectus."

... Malvinas Argentinas is surrounded by soya plantations and Medardo told me that here during the spraying season rainwater was often contaminated with Glyphosate, one reason for a rate of miscarriage 100 times the national average. To make matters worse, he says, Monsanto had chosen the village for the site of a new factory.

... Here ... a computer chart containing two steeply climbing graphs. One represented the increase in soya plantations over the last 15 years while the other illustrated the rise in the number of birth malformations across the province during the same time. It was startling; virtually a mirror image. "I have practiced medicine here for 30 years," ..., "20 years ago we never saw malformations."

... The vast amounts of money that can be made by growing soya are attracting a new breed of land-grabbers, wanting to displace villages with plantations. We spent the next few days driving deeper into the interior where we heard a succession of horror stories of how campesinos and Amerindians were being violently driven from their land.

We met torture victims, saw various stretches of farmland set ablaze and visited a small village whose only water source had been poisoned. In one community we interviewed Mirta, the mother of Cristian Ferreira who was murdered for refusing to move – shot point blank in the leg by gunmen working for a local land owner. His mother heard the news from Ferreira’s wife. "I went with her, and found my son. His leg had been severed. There was a pool of blood. My son was dying," she told us, fighting back the tears. "They shot him as a warning, to tell him to stop making trouble, and to show him that they and the investors had guns and meant business."

Well the Obama Administration continues to promote "Happy Motoring by any means" and throwing our tax dollars down that black hole instead of the obvious and straightforward solution of Green Transit. Apparently if these people have any inkling of Peak Oil or the true seriousness of Climate Change, they persist in convincing themselves that there must be a way to preserve America's Auto Addicted way of life.
Here is the latest example, after rescuing the Auto Companies to make more trucks and SUVs, cash for clunkers, $7.5 Billion for electric car subsidies for the affluent:


Obama Seeks $2 Billion in Research on Cleaner Fuels
Published: March 15, 2013

WASHINGTON — With few options available for financing his clean-energy ambitions, President Obama on Friday will propose diverting $2 billion in revenue from federal oil and gas leases over the next decade to pay for research on advanced vehicles, White House officials said.

It just shows how even very intelligent people can be deluded by what Kunstler calls "the psychology of previous investment" and BAU myopia. We have had Auto Addiction for 60 years of economic growth servicing its needs, therefore it must be good and there is some magical techno fix to keep it going...

Rather than question 30,000 deaths per year, vast swaths of Green space paved over by asphalt, obesity, asthma, social isolation, etc from building cities for cars rather than people...