Drumbeat: March 30, 2013

Have Concerns Over Peak Oil Peaked?

It wasn’t that long ago that peak oil was on everybody’s minds. The basic scenario: Global energy demand would soon outstrip the world’s oil supply. Some of the more feverish types believe this will lead to a civilizational breakdown and a post-apocalyptic Mad Max landscape.

BP oil founder visiting USI, focused on cheap energy

How can America become a stronger and more prosperous nation? T. Boone Pickens has a three-word solution: Cheap domestic energy.

“We’ve got the cheapest energy in the world now in the United States,” Pickens said during a telephone interview several weeks ago from BP Capital, the Dallas-based energy investment firm he founded.

“Our oil is 20 percent cheaper, natural gas is 75 percent cheaper, and our gasoline is 50 percent cheaper. And all of that adds up to a huge opportunity for our country to build on the back of cheap energy and restore the economy.”

Is the United States Sitting on Trillions of Barrels of Oil?

Five years ago, if someone told you the U.S. would be independent in 15 years, you might have thought that person was crazy. But thanks in large part to technological advancements in drilling, it's very possible that North America could be energy independent by 2020. Given this fundamental change, if I were to tell you that America may have an oil source that's more than the rest of the world's combined proven reserves, would you believe it?

There's a unique geological formation in the U.S. that could hold as much as 6 trillion barrels of oil, but there's a chance that we may never even touch this vast resource. Let's see why we haven't really touched it, and why we may never use it.

How high oil prices lead to financial collapse

Resource limits are invisible, so most people don’t realize that we could possibility be approaching them. In fact, my analysis indicates resource limits are really financial limits, and in fact, we seem to be approaching those limits right now.

Oil Rises on U.S. Growth, Capping Longest Rally of 2013

West Texas Intermediate oil climbed for a fifth day, capping the longest rally this year, as the U.S. economy grew at a faster pace than previously estimated in the fourth quarter.

Waiting for peak oil: a paradox

If you draw the total production or consumption – not just some per-capita figures – and if you include fracking, it's pretty clear that there won't be any peak for quite some time.

U.S. Baker Hughes Gas Rig Count Declines to Near 14-Year Low

The number of gas rigs in the U.S. declined to near a 14-year low, according to Baker Hughes Inc.

Oil price set to fall but don't write off the commodity yet

Oil producers used to cushy prices of US$110 to $120 a barrel will soon have to brace themselves for leaner times, analysts predict.

Many expect the oil price, boosted in the past two years by the Arab Spring and the West-Iran nuclear stand-off, to undergo a correction by the middle of this year.

Diesel Exports From U.S. Rising as Plant Maintenance Winds Down

Exports of diesel fuel from the U.S. Gulf Coast are poised to climb as refineries returning from maintenance boost production, widening the price gap between the Gulf and Europe while freight rates hover near a six-month low.

Azerbaijan will decide on gas price for Europe in the near future

In the coming days, long-term gas buyers in Europe will present their proposals to the Shah Deniz Consortium regarding the price of Azerbaijani gas, President of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), Rovnag Abdullayev told journalists on Saturday.

U.S. Clean-Gasoline Rule Opposed by Oil Group Said Near

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed standards aimed at cutting the amount of sulfur in gasoline by two-thirds by 2017, a move oil industry groups said may increase the price at the pump.

Reliance Set for Longest Losing Streak Since 1997: Mumbai Mover

Reliance Industries Ltd., operator of the world’s biggest oil refining complex, declined for the ninth straight day, its longest losing streak since 1997, as profit from turning crude into fuels declined.

Russia to Lower Crude Export Tax 4.5% in April After Urals Falls

Russia, the world’s biggest energy exporter, will reduce duties on most crude and oil product shipments overseas by 4.5 percent on April 1, down from a 10- month high, after a drop in benchmark Urals prices.

Lack of fuel reason for power shortage: Electricity Authority

Hyderabad - Shortage of fuel — both gas and coal —was the only reason for the growing electricity scarcity in the country, particularly in the south, Central Electricity Authority chairman A.S. Bakshi said here today.

Trinidad and Tobago: Three major blackouts in three years

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has ordered a full report from Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine into yesterday’s nationwide blackout, which was reportedly caused by low gas pressure around 12.37 am. She wants Ramnarine to not only detail exactly what transpired before and during the power outage, but also make recommendations to ensure there are no future occurrences.

Wells Fargo Beats Rivals to Oil-Boom Deposits, Study Says

Wells Fargo & Co., the bank with the stage coach logo, is the only U.S. lender among the four largest to gain deposits in some Northern Plains states as customers flood banks with cash from an energy boom.

Oil giant Exxon starts $160m drilling project off west coast

Previous data has suggested that there could be over 300 million barrels of oil and 8.5 trillion cubic feet of gas between the two Dunquin prospects.

If they could be proven and then extracted, such finds would mark one of the biggest ever global discoveries of oil and gas and be a game-changer for Ireland's economic fortunes.

Japan Crude Imports for Power Generation Decline in February

Japanese crude imports for power generation fell 30 percent in February as warmer weather curbed demand for electricity to heat buildings.

Eyed by al-Qaida, Algeria’s oil-rich south demonstrates for more jobs

ALGIERS, Algeria — Protests by the unemployed in southern Algeria are raising the specter of rising unrest in the country’s sensitive oil regions, and are increasingly attracting the attention of al-Qaida.

Algeria’s vast, sparsely populated Sahara only holds 10 percent of the country’s population but it is home to this North African country’s enormous oil and gas reserves — the basis of the entire economy and the source of the government’s power. Those who live there claim they aren’t benefiting from that wealth, and can’t get jobs with the oil companies.

No, Gazprom Really Isn't Going To Save Cyprus

There’s an idea floating around that perhaps Gazprom would like to buy up the rights to Cyprus‘ suspected gas reserves and thus save the country from its current troubles. That isn’t going to happen of course, even though Felix Salmon is worried about it.

Iran forms special committee to curb fuel smuggling

Iran has formed a special committee to curb fuel smuggling, the Fars News Agency quoted National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company managing director Mostafa Kashkouli as saying.

Fuel smuggling at border areas is decreasing, he noted. The committee is tasked with preventing illegal exports of fuel, he added.

Iran carries out just 10 percent of national, provincial projects

The latest report released by Majlis (parliament) Research Center shows that the Iranian government carried out just 10 percent of the projected national and provincial projects during the last Iranian calendar year, which ended March 20.

610 projects were supposed to come on stream in the previous year, but only 59 projects were completed, the Khabar Online website reported.

Saudi Arabia’s Shale Gas Challenge

Saudi Arabia’s plans to explore its vast shale gas reserves—potentially the fifth largest in the world—will take years. The success of this project will depend on the economic feasibility, especially in regards to limited water supplies that would require a robust desalination capacity expansion.

Saudi shale gas could become a game changer for the country and for world oil markets. The evolving technology could eventually allow the country to significantly boost its insufficient natural gas production, which is indirectly eating into its oil revenue, while government spending increases.

After Shell Fiasco, It's Clear: No One Should Drill in the Arctic

Norway’s Statoil, for instance, recently said it was postponing plans to drill in the American Arctic until 2015 at the very earliest. The company is already drilling in Norwegian Arctic waters of the Barents Sea, where it does not freeze, is close to infrastructure and has more hospitable weather due to the Gulf Stream.

The American Arctic is different. It is covered by ice most of the year and dominated by extreme cold, hurricane-strength storms, pervasive fog, and long periods of darkness. These obstacles prompted Total SA, the fifth largest oil and gas company in the world, to declare it wouldn’t seek to drill in the Arctic because an accident there would be a “disaster.” German bank WestLB also announced that it would refuse financing to any offshore oil and gas drilling in the region because “the risks and cost are simply too high.”

Republicans continue call for Obama to approve pipeline


Can America Blow Away Nuclear Power?

OK, so customers don’t actually get paid by their providers since off-peak prices represent a small piece of the amount paid each month. Nonetheless, negative prices are a real problem facing utilities relying on nuclear and fossil-fuel generation -- and they have little to do with cheap natural gas. The main contributor to off-peak negative prices is actually wind power. If the problem persists, energy companies such as Exelon and Dominion, which focus on nuclear and coal, respectively, may be forced to retire their less competitive plants. Can America really blow away nuclear power?

Republicans continue call for Obama to approve pipeline

(CNN) – Republicans pressed President Barack Obama again Saturday to approve the controversial proposed pipeline that would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

Return and Merits of Soybean Biodiesel

The point of the Scientific American article is to show us which energy sources are the most economically feasible, which are the most worthwhile to pursue, and which hold the most promise for a sustainable future. It also includes graphics on electrical production and vehicle mileage return on investment.

Study Shows Bacteria Moves From Animals to Humans

A new study used genetic sequencing to establish that a strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been transmitted from farm animals to people, a connection that the food industry has long disputed.

Cost of Environmental Damage in China Growing Rapidly Amid Industrialization

BEIJING — The cost of environmental degradation in China was about $230 billion in 2010, or 3.5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — three times that in 2004, in local currency terms, an official Chinese news report said this week.

Doubling Down on Our Faustian Bargain – James Hansen

Humanity is doubling down on its Faustian climate bargain by pumping up fossil fuel particulate and nitrogen pollution. The more the Faustian debt grows, the more unmanageable the eventual consequences will be. Yet there are plans to build more than 1000 coal-fired power plants and plans to develop some of the dirtiest oil sources on the planet. These plans should be vigorously resisted. We are already in a deep hole — it is time to stop digging.

Propaganda, Self-Censorship and Climate Change

Scientist Bruce Melton argues that it's time for the environmental movement and environmental journalism to state the full truth - loudly and often - to counter denialist propaganda. That would entail using the four "poison" words: climate change and global warming.

Carbon in Worst Quarter Since 2011 Set for Rescue Vote

Europe’s emissions market is likely to be left all but broken should the region’s parliament fail to agree next month on combating the surplus of carbon permits, after the biggest quarterly slide in prices since 2011.

Canada defends leaving UN convention on droughts

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) -- Canada defended its decision to pull out of a United Nations convention that fights the spread of droughts just a month before a major gathering would have forced the country to confront scientific analysis on the effects of climate change.

Canada is the only country in the world outside the agreement. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has been vilified an as outlier on climate change policy in past international meetings.

Rising waters claim land

Whatever you believe about climate change, the evidence of sea-level rise is indisputable. Anyone who suffers losses and chooses to build within flood plains should expectd to pay more to risk a repeat experience. Even those whose families have lived for generations in areas like Crisfield are a different matter, but even they must face reality. They cannot rebuild every time the land floods and expect public or private insurance settlements to bail them out repeatedly.

It must be heart-wrenching to realize one’s descendants — perhaps oneself — will be forced to leave behind what is left of an ancestral home. Yet it must happen. Otherwise, the encroaching sea will continue to wreak costly havoc with property and lives.

Killer Waves: How Tsunamis Changed History

In a jumbled layer of pebbles and shells called the "Dog's Breakfast deposit" lies evidence of a massive tsunami, one of two that transformed New Zealand's Maori people in the 15th century.

After the killer wave destroyed food resources and coastal settlements, sweeping societal changes emerged, including the building of fortified hill forts (p?) and a shift toward a warrior culture.

"This is called patch protection, wanting to guard what little resources you've got left. Ultimately it led to a far more war-like society," said James Goff, a tsunami geologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

One of the early comments below Have Concerns Over Peak Oil Peaked?, up top, in part:

" Resources are literally created out of nothing but the ingenuity of man - see fracking. The natural gas that is being accessed by fracking was not a resource until the technology for accessing it was invented. Suddenly, vast amounts of 'resource' came into existence. Cool, no?"

It's gotten 5 thumbs up so far. Just thought I would start out with a bit of comic relief this morning. Off to conjure up some resources...

But I liked his next paragraph even better:

The great thing about Julian Simon was that he showed that one could be both a hard headed realist and an optimist. The peak oil crowd are both the nattering nabobs of negativism and boneheadedly wrong.

Talk about being boneheadely wrong!

This guy is obviously a great Julian Simon fan. Simon, for those who don't remember him, was the guy who wrote a book called "The Ultimate Resource". He was talking about humans being the ultimate resource. The Ultimate Resource II is free on line. It is a real hoot. He believed that humans should breed as fast as possible in order to create more people to solve our problems. People, after all, is the Ultimate Resource.

Ron P.

I agree that human beings would be a good source of fuel, certainly better than kerogen.

But only if they have a high BMI, this requires much food, which causes low EROEI. So humans are not the solution.

I am a very lean person, so don't bother trying to burn me - negative EROEI, I would guess. Also, I am probably quite tough, stringy and bitter, so don't bother trying to eat me, either... :-)

Could we at least think about burning the furniture first... no need to rush to extremes.

What do you think we will use to heat the stew pot? :O

Now, now, sgage. That's what we have tenderizers for. If you can't get the chemical kind in the future, there's that old standby - the hammer. ;/

Ahhh, so that is why they are trying to encourage Americans to be fat.


well actually slavery is the great time saver..not that I advocate that at all but that is how some deranged people think....people that need to be removed from here. It is a sick way to think but we are only a few years removed from such debauchery..

Soylent Green ?

People are only a valuable commodity if you can sell 'em...and I'm pretty sure there are some laws against that.

Otherwise, they're a sunk cost.


It doesn't matter in the 'real' world. Write a book that tells people how valuable, how exceptional they are, you're bound to sell a few copies. Anything beyond a self-help story criticising peoples' behavior or beliefs gets a cool reception at best. Human nature is firmly in the denialists' camp. It's why reality is an exclusive club, IMO; there's no inherent feel-good aspect to it, especially these days. It gets filed in the fantasy section along with Grimm's Fairy Tales and Zombies.

There was a PBS special on the aftermath of the end of slavery. It was actually worse for the blacks as the whites made up BS laws to imprison them. Then blacks were used as inmate labor and the plantation owner had no economic incentive to keep them healthy so they could work, treating them even worse than slaves, whom were an "asset" during slavery.
I never knew anything happened like this, ever. It was brutal, sad, and horrible. It was not in any history books that I remember reading.

I hope you realize this is NOT just in the history books but being played out every day in the USA, right now. Who do you think gets hit by the "war on drugs"? When cops in New York "stop and frisk", who do you think they do it to?

The crack/cocaine sentencing disparity is a perfect example. Crack is literally... cocaine. Yet the sentence was 100x as severe for a very long time, and only recently was it brought down to 18x, which is called "fair sentencing". This is not the only example - heck, cannabis was only made illegal in the first place because the blacks and hispanics were smoking it.

It's not a "past" thing.

I have no doubt, privatizing prisons, which we are told this is good(!) to 'for profit' companies ensures they will want more people in prison, bigger prisons, bigger budgets, more $$$. It fairly obvious if you care enough to look.

I'm out of the loop on sentencing, other than the bankersters seem to not even get investigated. I suspect they are by and large white males. We tend to look at prison as punishment where I think the overlooked aspect is justice. Justice, including fairness and some acknowledgement for the victim.

There is definitely a modern Jim Crow, and legions of conservatives who seek to revise history and decry what they call the Black Grievance Industry.

Cannabis was made illegal b/c it competed with trees as a source for paper. Actually hemp paper is far superior to wood paper. Better even than cotton. The lumber companies had to make it illegal in order to impose their monopoly on paper. Of course, most lumber companies got their assets from the Gov't either as part of the RR rip off or as part of the 'deal' to enable statehood.

In any case, yes, it is part of a far greater past action to keep slavery in a defacto manner. Today, the attacks on unions is an extensiion of that, and is obviously quite successful. Hourly wages are dropping, numbers of unemployed rising (even if the statistics are conveniently distorted), and wage arbitrage vis-a-vis currency arbitrage continues.

The only way we can change history is for the future, by changing today's events. Some days TOD reminds me of Mensa... they neither take nor urge any action, merely report the obvious. Powerless (by choice or otherwise?), directionless, but not clueless. I am not certain that making obvious facts known to the PTB (who more likely than not already are aware but for their own benefit choose not to change) is helping. I don't see very much is different than it was four or five years ago... or at least any different. Deniers (peak oil and climate change) continue to have a siginficant advantage in media coverage - unsurprising since they own most of the media, and control advertising in the rest.

Well, at least the stock market is at record highs... soon to be joined by temps.

Best wishes for a contrived future.


First you ignore yourself, then you laugh at yourself, then you fight yourself.. then you go to the fridge and see if there's still some ice cream.. in which case, then you win.

"I never knew anything happened like this, ever."

It's still happening...


“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

Who is investing? At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more.

This is a total distortion of the 'free market.' Who can compete with prison labor? The 'justice' community becomes entwined with the 'government' community, which is controlled by these huge corporate slave masters.

Of course, outsourcing to China, Burma, Indonesia and other such 'free market' countries feeds into this since their workers are closer to slave workers than free.


Anybody who quotes Spiro Agnew has serious cognitive and value issues.

I was trying to remember the "natering nabobs" quote - so it was Agnew? I'm no longer young.

Stupid is as stupid says. Interesting that the article didn't reproduce the "Drowning in oil" cover from the Economist Mag. in 1999--guess that might have provoked the question, "If price says something about supply, what is the high price of oil right now saying about the supply of oil right now?".


Here we are at the energy cliff, approaching the time we warned everyone about, and yet there are so many articles about fracking, electric cars, wind, and other tripe giving people false hope. Meanwhile, Wiley coyote is over the edge, legs wheeling in the air.

In California it's warm and sunny, home prices are going up, Silicon Valley is booming again. Almost impossible to believe it won't continue this way! Not even after having studied this more than the average person. http://energyskeptic.com/2011/booklist/

I don't dare talk about peak oil and resource depletion in my social circles. At this point I'm told point blank no one wants to venture into my dark world, and I think some are hoping I'll apologize about being wrong now that fracking has brought us energy independence (NOT). http://energyskeptic.com/2012/shale-oil-and-gas-will-not-save-us/

What's coming is so much bigger than any tragedy in history, than any war, epidemic -- a 6th extinction event that may nail us as well.

So you could consider peak fossil fuels a blessing, a chance at not going extinct, since the remaining fossil fuels that are left are hard to get at, often stranded, and will take so much time and energy to extract that society will have to stop growing and start to contract, bringing on wars and social unrest, preventing us from getting every last bit of what's left.

I often wonder how many people are watching ecological collapse approach. A wild guess, given the membership at peakoil.com of 33000, America2point0 550, energyresources 2700, runningonempty2 7400, and another 60,000 in theoildrum, ASPO, transition towns, universities, non-english speaking forums I don't know about, and local peak oil forums, minus a large overlap in membership, and further subtracting a third of the people on these forums who don’t get that solar, wind, nuclear, biofuels and so on won’t save us from a liquid fuels crisis, gives me a rough guess of about 50,000 actively watching the cliff approach.

Since Hubbert's curve isn't a symmetric bell curve, but rather a cliff because of net energy loss, is there any town, ranch, or farm in the world that won't feel the repercussions? http://energyskeptic.com/2013/net-energy-cliff-collapse-by-2030/

Since the collapse will be seen as a financial crash by most people, and blamed on the government, Wall Street, and corporations – not carrying capacity hitting the wall of oil and resource depletion -- it would be a shame if no one understood what really happened.

So with the coming collapse in mind I try to travel and see friends and family more often. What my friends consider my "dark place" has its virtues. I'm keenly aware of how lucky I am to live at the peak of human civilization, to be closer to a Goddess than a Queen flying 40,000 feet above the earth in an airplane, zooming at 80 miles and hour through Utah salt flats with thousands of energy slaves at my service (Buckminster Fuller).

When I volunteer to take 4th and 5th graders on hikes at a nature preserve, I start by asking them to open their eyes and try to see everything, cup their hands around their ears to hear every sound better, to smell the aromas of flowers and the scents of the damp earth, to let all sensations flow in. I give them hardware store paint samples with many colors of green and ask them to match one of these colors exactly with a leaf so they notice how many shades of green there are, which leads them to notice the textures and shapes of leaves as well.

The bright side of Post Carbon is not such a dark place, I expect that many of us share a more vivid appreciation of the beauty around us, the freedom to travel where we please, can even be more patient in traffic jams knowing we might be nostalgic about them ten years from now.

Perhaps our role is to be among the few witnesses who weren't fooled by Business As Usual, and watched the approaching tsunami with eyes wide open.

Alice Friedemann

Buckminster Fuller: "Energy slave unit = average output of a man doing 150,000 foot-pounds of work per day, 250 days per year. In low-energy societies, non-human energy slaves are horses, oxen, windmills, riverboats. Now, the average American has more than 8,000 energy-slaves at his or her disposal, and these slaves can work under extreme conditions: no sleep, 5,000° F, at 400,000 pounds per square inch pressure, etc"

tstreet asked me to name the names of those here who are saying we should increase our extraction of Oil and Gas in spite of the fact that we know doing so screws us and the future with climate change (4C+ warming). Sounds like I wasn't believed that there were "many" here doing so. OK, I'll point out the comments, here's #1.

I also agree with zaphod42's comment.

"Frankly, I don't give a good rats arse about the economy tanking. That is easier to deal with than 4 degree+ of warming!"

I'm 56 and my one 9 year old grandchild (son) is visiting today. He's currently blithely unaware of the hell-hole existence that he will inherit because the crack dealers say "we only are providing what our customers want!" When the drug of choice is "real" crack we don't just blame the customer, the dealer is blamed too.

The reality was on the front page of my New York Times yesterday:


Short of Money, Egypt Sees Crisis on Fuel and Food
QALYUBEYA, Egypt — A fuel shortage has helped send food prices soaring. Electricity is blacking out even before the summer. And gas-line gunfights have killed at least five people and wounded dozens over the past two weeks.

Tara Todras-Whitehill for The New York Times

A farmer in his field outside Cairo. Farmers already lack fuel for the pumps that irrigate their fields, and they say they fear they will not have enough for the tractors.

Tara Todras-Whitehill for The New York Times

On the outskirts of Cairo, men worked to make fixes to an irrigation pump on a farm.

The root of the crisis, economists say, is that Egypt is running out of the hard currency it needs for fuel imports. The shortage is raising questions about Egypt’s ability to keep importing wheat that is essential to subsidized bread supplies, stirring fears of an economic catastrophe at a time when the government is already struggling to quell violent protests by its political rivals.

Farmers already lack fuel for the pumps that irrigate their fields, and they say they fear they will not have enough for the tractors to reap their wheat next month before it rots in the fields.

Is this not EXACTLY what we have been warning about for years?
That increasing oil prices would make current industrial agricultural methods reliant on diesel powered tractors, irrigation pumps etc would then threaten food production?

It is happening NOW in a country which used to be an oil exporter!

The root of the problem is that a former oil and gas exporter has turned importer and did nothing to invest their previous resources to tap the power of the sun in the desert. But of course the myopic Corporate Media cannot point this out!
(The United States of Amnesia Gore Vidal called the USA lol)

Perhaps an expert here should write a letter to the NY Times pointing this out.

Link to TOD on Egypt:


Re: Propaganda, Self-Censorship and Climate Change

Yeah, so how can those of us who have truth on our side compete with the vast sums of money available to the energy industries' propaganda efforts? Decades ago, I joined the Sierra Club, only to find them to be too "conservative", that is, they were unwilling to take controversial stands on serious issues of the day. Maybe those guys are now willing to take more unpopular stances in the political arena, yet, our last Presidential campaign produced zero discussion of the problem of Climate Change or AGW, even though there was a massive heat wave and drought underway during the campaign. What will it take to get TPTB's attention? Don't they (and their offspring) live on Earth, just like the rest of us???

E. Swanson

I expect Obama will be remembered as one of history's greatest tight rope walkers; knows better than to look down or lean too far to one side or the other, hoping to get to the end of his long walk before some black swan or ill wind sends his whole show careening into the abyss. Imagine his sigh of relief when the eyes below, and the world's cameras, are focussed on some new ring master and the next circus act. He'll have done his part; kept the crowd in their seats eating their popcorn and cotton candy.

Rest assured you'll get your money's worth
The greatest show in Heaven, Hell or Earth. - ELP

I expect Obama will be remembered as one of history's greatest tight rope walkers

So you've noticed he is a master of slicing the razor thin edge that divides camps, never pressing too hard in one direction or the other. A master politician. I voted for him the first time around because I actually bought that bit he was going to get rid of lobbying and thought he would take the initiative to launch a massive renewable energy expansion. Got in and never heard another peep on the subject of lobbying, and the 700 billion stimulus was mostly for tax cuts, ad nauseum.

What will it take to get TPTB's attention?

No need. I'm convinced, from reading an article here, a quote there, that they know on average far better than most what is happening. A selfish lot they are, filled with arrogance, hubris, insecurity and fear in equal measures, they need more time to finish looting. Far safer for them if the masses remain confused and ignorant don't you think?

I get a feeling that something concerning OPEC, and particularly Saudi Arabia is about to pop. The OPEC web site has been down for over two weeks now. I can't figure that out. Anyway:
OPEC oil output falls to lowest since late 2011

Supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is set to average 30.18 million barrels per day (bpd), down from 30.42 million bpd in February, the survey of shipping data and sources at oil firms, OPEC and consultants found.

The survey indicates Saudi Arabia is still keeping a lid on output.

And a few days ago we had this Saudi Arabia to Drill for Shale Gas This Year. Behind a pay wall but if you type that headline into the Google search bar you can get the entire story.

"It is not a question whether Saudi Arabia has spare [oil] capacity. It is a question of whether we need to spend billions maintaining it at all," Mr. al-Naimi said.

So now they are saying, or at least hinting, that they are not going to maintain any spare capacity. And the idea that they must spend billions just to maintain spare capacity is a revelation in itself. Most people had the idea that all they had to do in order to deliver spare capacity was open the spigots.

As I said, look for some big news out of OPEC and/or Saudi Arabia within the next few weeks. That is my feeling anyway.

Ron P.

From TOD's banner quotes above.

“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences…”
—Winston Churchill, November 1936

I think we are entering a period of consequences on many levels, whether it be climate change, economic or energy. Reality seems to be increasingly un-contained and pushing its way through the façade of political and media spin. The cost of keeping up appearances is becoming a burden not worth carrying.

"It is not a question whether Saudi Arabia has spare [oil] capacity. It is a question of whether we need to spend billions maintaining it at all," Mr. al-Naimi said.

That smacks of 'diminishing returns', in which the costs escalate for a return on each added unit until it is no longer profitable to outlay funds (in this case) to maintain a lot of spare capacity. Either that, or they just ain't got the extra juice.

I spoke too soon, the OPEC web site is back on line this morning.

This was published a couple of weeks ago but never posted on TOD:
US projects OPEC oil decline in 2013

Now this is not really big news since OPEC production, for the first two months of 2013, is already down 1,300,000 bpd from its 2012 peak in April. But I thought this line very interesting:

The U.S. is projecting that OPEC will cut crude oil production this year by 600,000 barrels per day, signaling an increase in world surplus production capacity.

Growth in surplus production capacity indicates that world production is moving closer to its maximum possible, sustainable output.

Well now, a little light is starting to get through to some folks.

Ron P.

Say Ron, could you explain why a "growth in surplus production capacity" means anything? I must have a mental block here, since that statement by itself (from the EIA, not you) seems devoid of any meaning except that [OPEC stated} surplus production capacity increases when OPEC produces less. Kind of like saying, "As the sun goes down, it gets darker". What do you think it means? Thanks.

It doesn't mean anything because there has been no growth in production capacity. The EIA assumes that a cut in OPEC production, and in particularly a cut in Saudi production, means that they could produce that extra oil if they desired. And this would be true if it was a "cut" instead of a "decline".

The whole idea that OPEC has a large amount of oil they could produce if they so desired is a myth and al-Naimi's words in my original post confirms this. Does anyone really believe that Saudi would spend billions of dollars to maintain the ability to produce oil that they do not actually produce? Why would they do that?

I cannot explain why the EIA thinks a growth in production capacity means the world is moving closer to the peak, or maximum sustainable production capacity as they call it. But a true decline in OPEC production does mean that. Perhaps this was a Freudian slip on their part.

Ron P.

I think the whole fracking blip is just a shorter version of North Sea and North Slope. In the 1970s both Europe and the U.S. had more oil so "happy days were here again" until they weren't.

Those bubbles lasted 30 years, the fracking bubble may last 10-15 years. Let's stop trying to build nations and societies on bubbles. Bubbles don't last and we should know that by now. Quit going for the quick profit, build something sustainable and prosperous for everyone.

Quit going for the quick profit, build something sustainable and prosperous for everyone.

The inherent problem is that "sustainable" has turned into BAU Lite. Look at the usual postings on TOD; you get EVs, PV systems, etc. What you don't see are ideas of alternate societies a la Ecotopia.

How about mandating that any item sold must last three generations and be repairable by the user? I've using tools that old. But, gee, if that were done our "consumer society" would go down the drain and how would all the people earn a living? Actually, I had prepared a key post during the Campfire days that addressed this but Campfire went away before I submitted it.

In any case, people need to rethink what a truly sustainable society would look like. From my perspective, it isn't BAU Lite.


By sustainable I mean something that lasts more than the 7-10 year recession cycle, brought on by greed and the lust for quick massive profits. How about a 30 year employment contract to go with that mortgage?

Of course one source of greed is instability. If I can't count on the thirty year employment contract, I'm gonna look for financial security elsewhere, maybe I can game the stockmarket, or sell non-existent investments to febile old men and old ladies... Socialwise its a bit of a catch-22, have an unfair system to begin with, and expect people to cheat as much as possible.

This is one my main quandaries. So far I have not invested in PV because it is high tech and not repairable by the user. One option is to invest in a smaller system for a few critical fairly low power functions, such as a battery charger for radios, LED lights, and e-readers, knowing full well that it is not sustainable. With some spare parts it may be possible to keep these few technologies going for a few years after the collapse of our consumer society to help ease the transition.

Does anybody have any suggestions for such a smaller system? Perhaps it should not even be PV, but something like a small diesel engine running a generator.

Plenty of options. I like PV even tho I have no way to make it, just because it lasts a long time and can be useful even if the charge control and inverter die.
Of course there's the old IC engine + wood gasifier a la WWll. We won't run out of junk IC engines for a very long time, and do remember just how simple a Model T was. When iI was a kid a common sight was an engine hanging from a back yard tree limb while the owner reground the valves and cast new crank bearings.

And, of course, the old hot air engine AKA stirling engine. The simplest versions were really simple, and they do run on solar- concentrated of course, as well as twigs.

And, believe it or not, you can pedal a crank and get about 100 real watts- plenty for lights and radio,

I like the pedal(bike)-generator idea a lot. Seems very simple.

Then all of us who spend our lives in front of a computer will be real skinny.

Currently, modern computer equipment, with its ultra-small scale circuit board tracks, multi-layer boards and nano-scale processors, is well beyond any form of "user repairable".

On the other hand, there are hobbyists who will take 1980s and early 90s era computers, and replace leaking capacitors, patch wire the circuit board traces, and generally keep them going. These are not "pocket calculator" level machines - these were the mainstream ones of their day, running early versions of Word, Excel, Photoshop and so on.

Maybe, for any hope of "sustainability" (in the definition of "make it last 30 years or more"), it's time to lower expectations, and aim for things that can not only be made to last, but can also (with expertise) be repaired. So what if they can't run the latest versions of stuff, as long as they can run something usable.


It's the same for me and Ham Radio equipment. I don't own any that was made after the early 80's. Solid state or tube, I can easily scrounge parts or rig a repair. No un-obtainable custom microprocessors or special one-of-a-kind components. And on the air, nobody can tell that I'm not using the newest piece of un-repairable crap! They all sound the same, or even better.

Maybe, for any hope of "sustainability" (in the definition of "make it last 30 years or more"), it's time to lower expectations, and aim for things that can not only be made to last, but can also (with expertise) be repaired.

Emphasis added.

You know, there are a lot of old TODsters like myself who are in our 70's. We grew up when there weren't computers. In college, we were still using slide rules and log tables for calculations in the mid-1950's. And, as a chemistry major, using the wonderful triple beam balance and the "rider".

In my family when I was growing up, we had five appliances - a stove, a small refrigerator, a toaster, a waffle iron and a radio. In other words, we didn't have the "stuff" that people today believe they need to be happy. We were happy as hell! Yes, we did add "stuff" like a TV as the years went by but these things never made us happier. In any case, we had few things that could break and need repair.

I've noted many times that I live in the boondocks. One thing that strikes my wife and I funny is when we have city visitors and they ask (as the invariably do), "What do you do?", meaning what outside activities do we have. They seem quite amazed that we pretty much stay home and look at the beauty around us, work in the garden and that kind of thing. And, while the Internet is neat, we have thousands of books that we could read/re-read if the Internet died. All in all, I live in a different reality than people in populated areas. I can't say that my lifestyle will be the "new normal" but it isn't something that I would reject.


"In college, we were still using slide rules "

I received my BS in 1971. I think I may have been the last class that went thru all 4 years with a slide rule. If I remember correctly the first pocket sized scientific calculator was the HP35 that came out in 1972.

I've looked at it recently and I think with a little practice I could still do all of the magic that it brings forth. its fun to remember that most of the engineering that went into the incredible machines of WW2, early television, the space program, commercial jets and more was all done with slide rules and drafting tables.

Some of the stuff in WW2 was done via mechanical adding machines and similar ilk. There was a "computer" at Los Alamos, a group of women operating such mechanical calculators to do a larger computation. Also the machines at Bletchly Park.

One famous outgrowth of the Appolo program was the computer program NASTRAN, which is still in use today.

I can remember the remarkable TI calculator that came out my last year in high school, it even had trig functions. But cost about $350 (that was 1970). I can recall a three thousand dollar programmable calculator a year later in physics lab -the size of a typewriter with storage for a couple of thousand instructions, (1971).

But , mostly we still used slide rules, calculators were still rare. I dropped a numerical analysis course because I couldn't do the homework, which required a calculator.

Even so we still spent a lot of time dabbling on the university computer, which we interacted with via holerith cards and line printers.

My slide rule comes in very handy when playing with baker's percentages when bread making. Very much easier to visualise than using a calculator.


EDIT: Just found a bunch of slide rule apps that I can use on my droid. Happy bunny as I can take them with me since I will not take my slide rule out of the house - not replaceable.

Antique store! ;-)

eBay "Vintage slide rule". 1,086 active listings.

..A slide rule app on a droid. There's something beautiful about that!

Reminds me of a sight on a plane where a younger guy with a laptop was sitting near an older lady without one, and both of them were playing solitaire to while away the hours. It was a little poetic, while some may frown, that would just add another spice to the setup..

Well, you have a calculator app so why not a slide rule app or an abacus app, wait, yep, they are there. It is about the visual interface. Let us say I use 1530g of flour, gives me the right sizes for scaling. I used 60%, 918g water, which was a bit sticky, it's humid today. So, let me see, 900g is about 59% or drop to 880g for around 58%. Almost instantaneous to see on a slip stick or a PITA on the calculator.


We had an ice box and a crystal radio. I made my toys out of sticks, rocks, junk of all sorts and tar from the road. I and my friends were very happy, despite there being no money in sight.
But my mother told me in her last years that my childhood happiness was to considerable degree supported by my lack of sensitivity to the gritty effort she and the other adults had to put out.

Of course there were also lots of deaths from strep, tetanus, polio, whooping cough and so on. If it were not for the advent of sulfa, and later, penicillin, I would almost certainly been one of the casualties.

So today, with those memories still clear, I don't have much patience with people who say getting off fossil fuels is "too expensive" when they are spending hugely on useless stuff my generation never even heard of, and certainly didn't "need".

And I allow myself some annoyance at so many of my friends who spend their last years, and dollars, floating aimlessly around the world on a stream of kerosine.

I have daydreams about taking all that's good and harmless in the modern world and mixing it with the simple life we had back then, so as to let the planet recover its beauty and its variety- what's left of it.

Like quail- used to be I would find a dead one every now and then on the porch, having punched a big hole thru the screen. A bad winter killed them off quite a while ago and they didn't recover,

"I've noted many times that I live in the boondocks. One thing that strikes my wife and I funny is when we have city visitors and they ask (as the invariably do), "What do you do?","

If there is one comment people make about living in the country that does not make any sense at all, it's "There is nothing to do." The work list is pretty impressive even without the Great Boat-building Project.

I finally figured out they mean "There is no one to give money to in exchange for passive entertainment." That statement really is true. If you want to consume passive entertainment the city is definitely the place to be.

In the mean time today here in the country, I went to the shooting range, put the second coat of water proofing on the wood shed, touched up a couple spots on the boat, torched some forgotten weeds in the garden, cheered the germination of the first tomato seedling, went on a motorcycle ride during a wonderful warm afternoon, and had a nap in the sun.

Nothing to do is not my problem. Occasionally in December, but not in spring.

I think if civilization has that sort of collapse, your least problem will be obtaining power. Avoiding the desperate hungry mobs will be job number one.
Go ahead and get some PV, it is insurance against partial collapse -such as might be manifested by high energy prices. Nothing lasts forever. But, most PV last thirty years. I depend on my body too -and I can't replace it, and at my age I think my panels my outlast me.

I think small dc generators are wonderful tools to have handy, as you can drive them with a broad range of possible power sources, from wind and falling water, to steam, bike-rigs, and so on.

It's reasonable to ask yourself about whether you can repair and have some control over a given investment, such as the choice to go for PV, but also ask yourself what is the likely repairing that is going to be coming with that property? PV, from what I've ever heard or experienced, requires none for many, many years. While there can well be flukes and duds coming down the assembly line, I think a slightly diverse collection will offer both a few decades of ready power, as well as a nice roof to sit under in the Sun or the rain! The greater uncertainty for me is the battery power, which makes me very keen to see about crafting or finding some of those bombproof (allegedly) Nickel Iron batts that have already passed the tests for a century or more now.

As for PV, I've even picked up a handful of these garden pathway lights, and some of those Dashboard Trickle Charging panels, just to have a bunch of mini to tiny panels that could very easily keep a handheld radio, flashlight or voltmeter (name your favorite, wee battery appliances here ) running where there's no other way to keep little batteries charged.

Well, why don't we order a container from http://www.changhongbatteries.com/ or a bulk buy from a US supplier. We all know the problem and the "solution". Even if it is a delaying tactic, at least it is a tactic for YOU.


Wood - The simplest PV system is unlikely to need repair for many years if not decades - Get a couple large 18 volt panels, a couple zantrex c35 charge controllers, a few 2 volt wet cells. The idea being to have redundancy of proven, reliable components.
Each panel is likely to last 30 years. One of the two may last quite a bit longer. Mi.nor repairs are possible also - replacing the junction box or a diode can often be done
Each c35 can charge off one or both panels, set up for either 12 or 24 volt batteries. A c35 might last 8-10 years or more, I don't know what mean time to failure of both would be, but it would be a long time, and they are cheap and relatively simple. In any case, batteries can be charged straight off 18 volt panels if need be.
2 volt cells gives you thick plates and flexibility if a single cell fails. You can get 2 volt cells out of some forklift batteries if need be.
Its way simpler and more reliable than any other means to produce power.
Remember, if something is repairable you need to be able to obtain or manufacture the part.

I have two Trace C40s, manufactured in April of 2000, still going strong. They were our original charge contollers; one is now charging the battery at the garden/chicken coop (controlling two 18+ year old Siemens panels), the other being used as a diversion controller. That said, we also have several vintage oil lamps and a box of spare wicks ;-)

regarding BAU lite:

Hi Todd,

I think alternate societies will eventually be forced upon us. I look at the current incredibly complex hybrids and EVs which are still too heavy and full of comforts. I read about other's vast pv arrays maintained by complex computer monitoring and real owner focus. I try and relate many current trends to our current family outlook and would rather power down more and not try and maintain general wasteful complexity with more expensive alternatives.

We moved away from town and rebuilt an old river front shack into a wonderfully efficient and super insulated home. The money we saved by buying down and moving from town allowed us to pick up an additional 15 acres. The money we save on just property taxes pays for any extra commuting or fuel costs. Of course we have few diversions others take for granted beyond this computer, books, and the occasional tv show or hockey game. I know many would be bored with the pleasures of gardening and furniture building....firewood production, but a life full of basics is a very rich one.

If we had more consistent sunshine we would follow Ghungs pv footsteps, but we don't. On the other hand, we don't ever have to worry about water or growing conditions like so many others. There has been a plethora of articles of late regarding the fallacy of PO and I have to laugh as this quote can be used to imply two things. "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Of course we think all the hoopla is misguided. When I looked up the phrase in wiki I discovered the original meaning, "I think the lady is promising too much." Certainly all the articles on tight oil and energy sufficiency are promising too much, and I suspect the eventual conversion to alternative forms of energy will one day provide a very different life than what is implied and can be thought of as BAU lite. Perhaps the idea of alternatives providing BAU lite is also a promise beyond possible. Instead, we may do the laundry when the sun shines or the wind blows, for drying and power to run the washer. At least those who have prepared will be able to do so.


Hi Paulo,

Without getting into a major post, I believe that people are going to end up having to take major responsibility for their lives. This would include not only energy but also food, health, etc.; heck I'll even throw in road maintenance.

They'll also have to learn that less stuff doesn't mean a life devoid of satisfaction. I lived in the boondocks for close to 40 years, haven't been to a movie in years and years, haven't gotten TV in, geeze, I don't know, 15 years, drive a 23 year old truck, etc. Yet, I wouldn't change a damn thing. I was out pruning blackberries this afternoon and I'm sure I got far more satisfaction then someone watching some crap on TV or going to a movie.

This morning a hen turkey showed up; the first one this year. She was still around this afternoon when it started to rain so I put out some food for her and the quail I feed. It just warms my heart to do this. The quail were freaked out since they haven't seen a turkey since last fall.

I'll let it go at this. You get my weekly Update so you have a good idea of where I'm coming from. Life won't be BAU Lite.



My wife and I often remark that we know we are on our right path when we wouldn't change a thing if we won the lottery. Unless, unless I could get rid of some of my aches and pains that seem to magically appear when I try and work like I was twenty.

I grew up with quail everywhere, first in California and then on southern Vancouver Island. I think it is a little wet here for them, but my plan is to try and get them established....plus pheasants and turkeys. Put it on the list. I really miss the quail flocks. There were some turkeys in the valley and I would see them out on the road getting gravel, but I think predators got them.

My point, and I know you concur, is you could have all the trappings and comforts imaginable. but the simple little reminders of beauty, childhood; the smell of cottonwoods in the spring or the sounds of red winged blackbirds...those are the riches that sustain and all the rest are diversions. Growing one's food and fixing, building, make us whole. At least it does for me.

All the best.


"Look at the usual postings on TOD; you get EVs, PV systems, etc. What you don't see are ideas of alternate societies a la Ecotopia."

I don't include it in every post but every now and then I'll slip in one of my great concerns...the EVs, PV, Passivhaus, etc only buy time. The time that they buy can either be spent unwisely - breeding more people and trashing the planet further, or be used wisely - reducing the population in a way that doesn't trigger wars and bloodshed, and finding a way to balance technology with ecosystem.

I don't really see a conflict with a 2 billion human Earth in which those humans have computers, YouTube videos of cats, modern medicine, and an EV in the garage of their PV powered passivhaus.

Such a world would see most of the suburbs and some cities returned to nature (which could be mined for resources). With a well designed EV the powertrain should last well beyond that of an ICE powered car and with less maintenance. The only problem is the battery pack - which will have to be replaced perhaps on a 15 year basis as it begins to no longer carry enough charge. At which point they'll also likely require some upholstery work, new bushings, a few bits and pieces and be ready for another 15 years of service. The stories about the un-recyclability are simply false. As far as PV we've been seeing users chime in about 30 year old systems still going strong...they may need to be refurbished every now and then but that should be a manageable issue when the time comes.

I don't see the "time-buying" aspect of those things. Trying to extract as much oil, coal and natural gas as possible are time-buying measures since that's what the world actually runs on. Solar, wind and geothermal only make up 1-2% of the world's primary energy, EVs make up maybe a few millionths of the world's vehicle fleet and passivhauses are not exactly common - these represent a complete makeover of current infrastructure.

That is a valid point. Some say we need electric cars, but hoping that 100 million car will become electric soon is not realistic.

This is why I promote synthetic fuels. We have the cars that run on gasoline, lets use that to buy time for a transition.

Some say that would delay the transition to electric cars, but I do not agree. It allows us time to make the transition the way we want.

In reality, transition time just means more time for us to do nothing and wait for the shit to hit the fan. Don't see any reason why that will change. Anyway, we can begin the transition now to hundreds of cities and towns that are minimally reliant, if at all, on the automobile. And having synthetic fuels so we can transition won't mean we will do that later.

"I don't see the "time-buying" aspect of those things. Trying to extract as much oil, coal and natural gas as possible are time-buying measures since that's what the world actually runs on."

You're seeing what exists at this very moment - and not the potential. A Drumbeat or so ago I showed that if all of the cars being sold every year in the US (people are still buying fossil fuel vehicles to the tune of about 15 million per year) were electric...there would be the potential to drop 0.6 mb/day per year. That would be a 6 million barrel a day drop over the course of 10 years. If those were powered with PV we wouldn't have to burn more coal/natural gas to make it happen, and if when putting up a PV system the person were to oversize to meet their other electrical demands as well - there would be a reduction in the need for coal.

Less oil required means the oil lasts longer - buying time. Less coal needed means the coal lasts longer - buying time. Every electric car means that your system needs that much less oil, every panel of PV means you need that much less coal/nat gas.

I am interested in learning where you heard car batteries might last 15 years. I thought I read somewhere that because EV batteries lose their operating range they are often taken out after 3 to 5 years and used as storage in combination with PV for household applications etc.

Here's hoping for break throughs in battery technology.

The batteries they're putting in the Leaf and Volt are Lithium Manganese - they're pretty awful, exacerbated by the Leaf's primitive thermal management.


The LiFePO4, and the latest LiTi "SCiB" should prove much better over time. Straight up time-based capacity loss is much less and with 3,000 to 5,000 cycles to 100% DOD will last longer than you might originally think. If you take the base Tesla Model S with the 40 kWhr battery with 150 mile range...downgrade it to 125 miles for range loss and multiply by 3,000 cycles you get 375,000 miles. Even if they last half of that it's still 187,500 miles which is 15.6 years at 12,000 miles/year.

15 years is a stretch. But warranties for the Leaf & Volt cover the batteries for 10 years. They certainly will have lower capacity at the end of that period but they'll still work. And one can swap out cells individual as they die out and make it further. Eventually though you probably will need to swap out whole battery and hopefully they'll be much cheaper by then.

UCLA center creates first interactive electricity-use map of Los Angeles

A new energy map of Los Angeles developed at UCLA lets residents find how much electricity the average customer in their neighborhood uses, see how a neighborhood's energy use relates to its average income level and track energy use over time.

The map, released March 28 by UCLA's California Center for Sustainable Communities, is the most highly interactive map of Los Angeles' energy use ever developed. The center used commercial and residential customer data from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and collaborated with the California Governor's Office of Planning and Research to produce the map.

See: http://phys.org/news/2013-03-ucla-center-interactive-electricity-use-los...


OMG, the average electricity usage for most places in LA is more than 15x mine. Even the dirt poor people who clearly only use A/C during the months they absolutely have to, use 2x what I use during the winter, and 5x during the summer.

I don't know whether to take this as a positive sign that we could easily find cuts in usage, or a negative sign that a city the size of LA is clearly completely unsustainable (the surface area of the city couldn't produce even a 1/3 of the power it uses from PV.)

This seemed so implausible that I went looking for other data. I found data for average energy consumption at www.eia.gov, and my household is 1/5 the US average. So, while this is another nail in the coffin of my lifelong dream to be an "Average American", it does give some indication that decreased consumption is physically plausible (if you don't live in places like LA.)

Bear in mind these numbers are for commercial and residential customers, so a direct comparison is not possible.

Our home is all-electric and our rolling twelve month average currently stands at just under 8,700 kWh per annum, an average of 725 kWh per month (space heating, domestic hot water, lighting, appliances and all plug loads). You can view a breakout of this month's usage at: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/March-2013_zps8f0f...


My last bill had a flyer about meter fraud stapled to the back. I haven't seen any others with one of those. Wonder if they are worried about my usage levels?


One my life's sweeter moments is when I was approached by two Entergy engineers.

I had reduced electricity consumption on a 5 story, 100% occupied office building (2714 Canal, New Orleans) by -74%. They had surreptitiously looked for power theft, and then meter problems (we got a new meter as part of a "routine upgrade"). Finally, they asked some people there and they pointed to me. I first took them to my client and then gave them a tour :-)

Best Hopes for Shockingly Low Bills :-)


Yeah, had the meter switcheroo done to me before now ;)


Now you are getting me suspicious. I've had four meters in the last four years. I thought it was just the dysfunctional way PG&E handled the switch to "smart meters" and solar net metering. First they changed from dumb meter, to smart meter, to dumb net meter, to smart net meter. Could that be a coverup for just not getting that I've figured out how to consume a lot less?

We had a similar experience with our municipal water department. Our two person household consumes between 100 and 130 litres of water per day (~ 30 US gallons). Our bills were so low that they kept sending the meter reader back to re-read the meter. Then a technician arrived at the house looking for evidence of tampering, and a few months after that they replaced the meter thinking that it was defective. This continued on for two years before they eventually gave up.

See: http://s362.photobucket.com/user/HereinHalifax/media/WaterHistory.jpg.html


Too cheap to meter, aye?

Our most recent statement covers a 99 day period and was $94.88. During this time, we consumed 12 m3 which was $6.11, the other $88.77 being fixed charges and taxes. We could double or triple our usage and the difference in cost would be immaterial, i.e., an additional 5 to 10-cents per day.

Water rates are rising rapidly and one reason given is declining sales (sales are falling 1.5 per cent per annum). At the same time, a lot of existing infrastructure is long overdue for replacement, so the squeeze is on.


This is the downside to efficiency and conservation; our systems need to be supported and maintained as they are. Our local electric co-op got into a bit of a bind after the 2008 crash. Less demand and falling sales to support some major system upgrades and a huge new headquarters already under construction led to a significant price increase, and those with the lowest consumption paying a 20% higher per KWH rate. Costs drop dramatically when customers exceed 1000 KWH/ month, from 12+ cents/KWH to below 7 cents.

I expect contraction to put this process into overdrive; lower revenues to pay what are essentially fixed/rising costs of roads, water systems, electric grids, etc.. I think most folks don't factor the costs of simply holding on to what we've already built. In some places this process is well underway:

Detroit plans to shrink by leaving half the city in the dark

Twenty Detroit neighborhoods are only 10 to 15 percent occupied, and the government can't force residents to leave their homes, and Michigan law makes it difficult for the government to seize them under eminent domain. So the government is instead "phasing out" these neighborhoods by turning off their streetlights; or, in many cases, just leaving them off. (Forty percent of Detroit's streetlights are currently broken.) Bing hopes the cash-strapped city can focus its bus and police services on the still-lit, more population-concentrated areas of the city."

Dramatically reducing consumption en mass, whether voluntary or forced, will have much the same effect as a majority of people abandoning an area; not enough revenue to support currently installed systems and the folks that maintain them, unless prices go up substantially. Still, it's great that you're doing your part to bring the current system down ;-/

I wonder if there are neighborhoods that rely on sewage pumps to keep the sewer lines going. The few homeowners left would really be in a pickle if their sewer lines quit working. Maybe they would just shut off the water to 'solve' this problem.:-(

There's a little bit of subversiveness in all of us. :-) All kidding aside, the problem is quite real and there are no obvious solutions.

I've been suggesting for sometime that U.S. electricity demand will contact and over the past two years that has been, in fact, the case -- down 1.1 per cent last year compared to the previous year, which was down 0.6 per cent from the year before that.

Source: http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec7_5.pdf (PDF format)

Still too early to tell if this trend will continue, but I think there's a better than even chance that it will.

After we switched from oil to electricity, my goal was to get our annual consumption below the 12,000 kWh mark. Then 11,000, 10,000 and ultimately 9,000; now that we've accomplished that, I'm gunning for 8,000 and we could theoretically hit 7,000 if we were to get ridiculously serious about it. The problem is to know when to stop.


Last year I got my electricity bill down to 3823 kWh. It should be lower this year. In fact my water bill is now bigger than my electricity bill. So its next on the hit list.

Last year I got my electricity bill down to 824 kWh (refrigerator, cooking, heating downstairs, computer, stereo, lights etc).

An interesting line of thought...

As people consume less electricity/water/oil - the services our civilization as we know it relies on - the cost for providing these services does not drop at the same rate. IOW, a 50% drop in electricity consumption will not result in your utility experiencing a 50% drop in their costs (including written-into-law, guaranteed levels of profit).

Thus the less we consume, the higher the cost per unit. And a positive feedback loop ensues (with negative impacts on the end users). Taken to absurd levels, we could all reduce consumption to near zero but still be billed heavily to maintain the system...

I experienced this when my small town had a drought. A guy from the water company came around and I rushed to turn off the hose when rinsing my wetsuit. He objected, and said "Use more water! Revenue is down because people are conserving. We need the money, let the hose run!".

Todd references this. It's hard to move backwards to a simpler way and time. To some extent the arrow only easily moves in one direction: Bigger faster more!! Folks like Darwinian, if I may, also assume this: We will barge ahead as far as we can until we utterly collapse.

Fish harder!

Yes, I remember posting some thoughts on that a year or so ago. Essentially the more you conserve the more they will charge to cover their overheads and commitments. This is why I'm now looking to possibly install PV panels for my electrical needs, even though I only use circa 3000 kWh per annum. While you are connected to the grid it allows the government and generators to suck money out of your bank account through increased prices, taxes and connection fees.

I'm now beginning to think that any connection to the system (eg. bank account, employment, utilities, a business, etc.) will result in it being turned into a conduit for bleeding us dry. It is becoming pretty obvious that the cost of keeping civilisation going is going to be too big a burden and too onerous for people to bear.

Just happened in my rural electric coop.
They raised prices a couple years back. I cut back.
They just raised prices again. I'm still cutting back.
And they slapped on a new monthly "connection" flat fee.
Can't wiggle out of that last one ... yet. :lol:

I do get some pleasure from the schadenfreude of
listening to them warn for years
on how carbon taxes were going to make electricity rates climb.
Yet somehow, despite no carbon taxes, rates are climbing anyhow.

Emory & Henry debuts 'passive house' residence hall

BY ALLIE ROBINSON | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER | Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013 9:44 pm | Updated: 1:13 pm, Mon Mar 25, 2013.

EMORY, Va. –– Those gathered inside the residence hall lobby were wearing coats, but probably didn't need to be. The temperature in the room was 64 degrees, despite the freezing temperatures and brisk wind outside – and the heat was not on inside.

That was probably the most ideal scenario Emory & Henry College officials could have sought when demonstrating the airtight energy efficiency of the building, the newly constructed Hickory Hall.

"This is the largest passive house building in the U.S.," said Steve Strauss, co-owner of STRUCTURES Design/Build of Roanoke, Va.

--snip --

Hickory Hall by the numbers

- $7.5 million – cost to build
- $15,000 a year – expected savings compared to second-newest residence hall on campus over 10 years
- $1.5 million – expected savings compared to a code-compliant building over 30 years

Alberta's Top Judge to Hear High Profile Fracking Case

Flaming tap water lawsuit by Jessica Ernst faced delay after previous judge promoted.

By Andrew Nikiforuk, Yesterday, TheTyee.ca

Alberta's top judge will be the new case manager for a celebrated multi-million lawsuit on the groundwater impacts of shallow hydraulic fracturing by scientist Jessica Ernst against Encana and Alberta regulators.

Chief Justice Neil Wittmann volunteered to take over the case after the Harper government promoted Honourable Barbara L. Veldhuis, a Court of Queen's Bench judge presiding over the landmark case, to the Court of Appeal of Alberta last month.

The promotion effectively removed Veldhuis from the celebrated lawsuit and threatened months of delay and additional cost for the plaintiff.

Moreover Justice Velduis was about to rule on whether or not Alberta's energy regulator could be sued by a landowner for failing to uphold provincial rules, protect groundwater and respect the constitutional rights of Canadians.

The Shale Gale Is a Retirement Party'

So concludes an expert analyst of the natural gas boom. Brace for bust.

By Andrew Nikiforuk, 27 Mar 2013, TheTyee.ca

...that's ... Arthur Berman's take. The oil patch consultant sees the shale gas frenzy as "magical thinking" as well as a full-blown commercial failure. In fact, the 62-year-old Houston-based petroleum geologist doesn't view natural gas as "a bridge to anywhere."

What others call the "shale gas revolution," he rudely describes as an "industry retirement party."

This post by Nikiforuk is the eight in a series called The Big Shift. They are all worth reading to readers of TOD.

The splash page and previous posts are here... The Big Shift.

'Pipeline Company Bullies'

A farmer's plea for protections against petro firms who 'take our lands.'

By Andrew Nikiforuk, Today, TheTyee.ca

On February 28th Dave Core gave an impassioned presentation about "pipeline company bullies" before the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.

The media were not there.

But the 58-year-old farmer and landowner, an expert on pipeline regulation, directly contradicted the testimony of National Energy Board (NEB) chairman Gaétan Caron as well as that of Mark Cory, Assistant Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Canada.

-- snip --

"As can be seen in the transcripts of your previous guests' presentations to date, pipeline companies have no real accountability to anyone and they haven't since 1959....The self-admitted 'industry partner' Gaétan Caron, chair of the NEB, said nothing to you but that everything is wonderful, safe and sustainable. Well, it is not, and it is time everyone understands what is really going on."

Re: Canada defends leaving UN convention on droughts

UN Convention to Combat Desertification Responds to Canada’s Withdrawal from Convention

Yesterday, Canada notified the UN Secretary-General, the depositary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), of its decision to withdraw from the Convention. The UNCCD is the only legally binding instrument that addresses desertification/land degradation and drought.

Canada, a country that is frequently subjected to drought and where 60 percent of the cropland is in dry areas, is also a major actor in global efforts to address food security in developing countries. In addition to its annual contribution (CAD/USD290,644 in 2011) of about 3.127% of the current Convention’s budget, the Government of Canada and Canadian civil society have played significant roles in moving the Convention to where it is today.

Hat Tip: Crawford Killian at The Tyee.

When they say, "North America", and not , "USA", presumably they think that Canada will always ship to the USA. I do hope we sign a mutual defence treaty with Russia and China.

It has become very common for pundits to start by claiming the US is on the verge of becoming energy self-sufficient, and then immediately change the topic to North American energy independence, presumably hoping the readers won't notice the change in scope. The US gets 30% of its oil imports from Canada, not to mention a lot of its natural gas and electric power, so without including Canada as part of the supply, the chances of achieving energy "self sufficiency" become a lot more remote.

The fundamental flaw in the argument is, of course, the assumption that future increases in Canadian oil production, not to mention its shale gas, might go to other countries such as China, India, or Japan if they outbid the US for supplies.

Some Americans make the more dangerous assumption that they could obtain the oil they want by force, forgetting that some of these countries including China have nuclear weapons, and some of the rest have the technology to build their own atomic bombs.

Used to be we got oil from Mexico too. I don't want anyone to do homework on a Saturday night, but anyone got a short answer to how that's going these days? And projections for the years ahead?

Are they still exporting to US?

We have had some protests, around here, against the selling off of Pemex to foreign companies. Certainly some stirring going on. I don't expect it will all go smooth.


We will only become "energy independent" when our demand is less than our supply. This implies that we look ahead and take those steps that will lower our demand. We also need to realize that fracking buys us time and is not a reprieve to continue BAU.

Then comes the other shoe. We consume food, wear clothing, and house ourselves away from the elements. In order to do so, we grow food, make clothing, and build houses. In order to do so, we learn how to can food for winter, manufacture buttons for shirts/blouses, or formulate paint to protect a house from the elements, etc. We learn and can then employ ourselves. We earn a medium through which to trade for those things which someone else has produced and we need (or want).

How do we do this in a world where resources are depleting? We find substitutes. If canning is not possible, then drying our foods is a possibility. (If we can not make clothing, we get arrested and that solves the food and housing problem...) If we can not make clothing, we skin animals for their hides. If we burn our forests for heat, what materials do we use to build our homes with?

As the realization of Peak Oil grows, will there be mass migrations to where people can be sustainable? or we will transition in place? (probably both.)

Which bring us to a "Titanic" moment. Iceberg avoidance and lifeboat building classes, thoughts, and actions in case we fail the first class.

Taleb has a book out entitled: "Antifragile". The title is the theme and I have not read it other than summaries. From the summaries, his thoughts are that we need to build so things are not fragile. This is beyond sustainability in that what is sustainable today maybe fragile and break tomorrow with the resultant waste of time, energy, and resources.

Batteries for an Electric Vehicles may be fragile in the sense that they may wear out too quickly whereas a bicycle rider might last longer. Also, it will likely be easier to have enough resources for bike tires than for automobile tires. Being a bike repairer might be a lucrative job.

On a day celebrating "rebirth", just some thoughts toward "rebirthing" ourselves.

The headline article, and the key E&E article it links to, fail to connect the arguments by the continued proponents of Peak Oil with counterarguments by those who believe the theory is wrong. The result: a complete muddle that masks the key facts relating to peak oil as a real problem: 1) unconventional oil and gas fields have incredibly fast decline rates, requiring more and more wells to stay even or advance (the Red Queen problem; 2) the fact that the energy content of unconventional and replacement liquids is far lower than conventional oil (about 30% lower on average), leading to a very misleading comparison of barrel for barrel production; 3) the fact that major oil exporters are consuming more of their own oil as their economies grow, leading to declining net exports (the net export problem). The net impact of these three problems is very substantial. Here's my article explaining in more detail: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/guest-post-the-future-of-ene...

I ran across an interesting research piece from Citi on the projected demand growth of oil.

Here is one of the more interesting graphs:

I have the full report - if somebody wants it just send an email


There's some discussion of this in the March 27 Drumbeat.

Mandates to improve fuel economy for new vehicles changed fuel efficiency, according to Kleinman, and likely caused the lowered per capita consumption trend.

Really? Well, you can just look it up. We have a fleet MPG number. And it has moved higher . . . but only slightly. The lowered per captia consumption is because a lot of people don't have jobs to drive to. And lot of people can no longer afford to drive.

How can such bad guesswork analysis get such publicity? Because it is what people want to hear.

This is also from the same report:


Very interesting article hillco. I've read several articles recently about the new money being added to the monetary base (monetization or printing money) by the Feds, being furnished to the banks via bonds with the idea of lending the money, but it actually ending up in other investments. Evidently much of it finding its way into the stock market, most assuredly inflating a bubble bound to burst sooner or later.

Since the S.&P. 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold (to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion). Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year (the slowest since the Civil War); real business investment has crawled forward at only 0.8 percent per year; and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1 percent annually. Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full-time middle class jobs, 6 percent. The real net worth of the “bottom” 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth. The number of food stamp and disability aid recipients has more than doubled, to 59 million, about one in five Americans.

So the Main Street economy is failing while Washington is piling a soaring debt burden on our descendants, unable to rein in either the warfare state or the welfare state or raise the taxes needed to pay the nation’s bills. By default, the Fed has resorted to a radical, uncharted spree of money printing. But the flood of liquidity, instead of spurring banks to lend and corporations to spend, has stayed trapped in the canyons of Wall Street, where it is inflating yet another unsustainable bubble.

The money isn't free, because the govt. still has to pay interest on the bonds, but it is being handled by the banks like free money, either taking the interest paid or unloading them to investors to then put into other investments, like the stock market. I wonder just how far the stock market can go up to ever higher records via this radical fiscal experiment before the jig is up. Either the gravy train of money getting slipped to the banks ends, or investors realize the stock marke has heated up way too far for the state of the economy.

By the same token, a lot of money from private investors is being channeled into real estate purchases anticipating a resurgence of real estate values most likely due in part to the rise in the stock market. What's interesting about this, is they are being bought by the have's, not the have nots that lost their good credit ratings during the mortgage meltdown. These investors are buying to rent, but what happens when there aren't enough renters to fill all the vacancies? That's starting to happen where we live in CA. Lots of purchases, and lots of rentals. Is that another bubble that will burst?

Those stats in the blockquoted 1st paragraph above indicate an economy not anywhere near robust enough to push the stock market to its recent record highs. Very risky, short term thinking strategy by the Feds to support a bubble like this, that will end badly and disenfranchise millions from their hard earned ira's and keogh investments.

Maybe we've been heading down ever since the 08/09 freefall. It was just put on hold by borrowing trillions followed with printing trillions more until this most recent stock market bubble at some point bursts, and then it will be clear the economic step down while Brent oil was over 100 a barrel never stopped.

What does the Fed do then to try and spur growth? How do we get out of that recession? What country is going to lend to us? Does that spell the end of QE's? Does that also force a balancing of the budget, and if so are we really in hurtsville economically?

"The money isn't free, because the govt. still has to pay interest on the bonds, but it is being handled by the banks like free money"

I think you are confusing federal borrowing with the FED's "printing" of money. The fed expanding it's balance sheet is technically free though the consequences long term could prove to be quite costly. Here are the ways that a central bank can inject money into the system.

Quantitative easing does not actually send any money directly to the banks from the fed. It "buys" trillions of dollars of bonds pushing the prices up and the yields down. This means other investors are unable to buy these bonds so they must find something else to do with their money. The fed buying bonds makes some of the governments debt essentially interest free as most of the interest that the government pays on these bonds to the FED is paid back to the treasury by the FED.

I don't know that the current stock level is in bubble territory yet like it was in 2000 or housing was in 2006. I think government bonds are currently the biggest bubble. Another big bubble that not too many people are talking about is farmland prices.
I don't know the answers to most of your questions. The scarier part may be as bad as the us budget situation it is still brighter than many other countries.

"Quantitative Easing" has the same effect as printing money, but avoids buying all that expensive paper and ink, and the physical problem of carrying around all that heavy cash stuffed in duffel bags and suitcases. Counterfeiters and money launderers have similar problems.

The US Fed buys buys government bonds, and pays for them with US dollars. Where does it get those US dollars? Nowhere, it just creates them electronically and sends them to security dealers electronically. There is no cumbersome and dirty ink and paper involved, and no heavy stacks of surplus bills to carry around.

Yes it is a bubble, but the bubble is in the US budget. The US government is living way beyond its means. It's like living on your credit cards - for an individual it's okay for short periods, but you better have a plan for getting your finances in order and getting back in the black soon. For countries, it's the same thing.

The US Fed buys buys government bonds, and pays for them with US dollars. Where does it get those US dollars? Nowhere, it just creates them electronically and sends them to security dealers electronically.

You of course realize how huge an issue this is? Basically "self funding".
Of course the gov. will buy those bonds back, not sure when, not sure how, but don't worry we won't investigate your banker and investment pals...

I believe we have crossed the proverbial economic/political rubicon. The question is what will take place. I found the following link insightful as it takes on the most likely reactions. I listened to the video and found his arguments quite compelling.


Quantitative easing does not actually send any money directly to the banks from the fed

It does. The Fed doesn't buy from the primary market, it buys them in the secondary market.

In that article, David Stockman blasts away at the banking/finance/political history since WW II, condemning the massive increase in the money supply flowing from the Fed thru the US government via deficit spending. Stockman also has a new book out and this article apparently is a summary of what he wrote in the book.

I suppose that one would need to read his book, but from his short commentary, I think he misses the essential point that the US economic system grew rapidly after WW II because of the available low cost fossil energy sources which the US enjoyed. That the conventional oil production peaked in 1971 and began to decline wasn't the result of the financial maneuvers, since production has still is not close to the previous peak, even though the world price of oil has exceeded $100 a barrel. The politicians and the economists of the world who advise them can't get their heads around the fact that the cheap energy has been used up and won't be coming back for quite a while. That is, without some major change in the laws of physics and chemistry...

E. Swanson

Thinking of TOTONIELA;

Here's a fun bike-rail device that harkens to Bob Shaw's Spider-web-riding a little bit...


(Posted in '08, so it says..)

Unlike regular rail transport, which causes tremendous pollution, this bicycle is comparatively cheap with the additional benefit of zero damage to the environment.

I love the idea but the above quote is somwhat mysterious. Trains are only marginally less efficient once you factor in infrastructure and passenger density. Bolting 100 lbs of steel to the bike probably doesn't improve the math.
The argument is moot as most people I know fly to costa rica.

What got me going, though, was the requirement to wear a helmet and safety vest. These items seem to be of little use in the unlikely event they share the tracks with trains. The bike design looks , shall we say stable? So the helmet is obviously for protection while walking.

Sadly despite the great idea (I'd do it!) this seems to be symbolic of a society that does not understand statistics & run by lawyers. I assume the target market is Americans.


If this was a serious idea the safety gear was an unfortunate addition, probably added because of the insistence of an insurance company. It adds the appearance of danger which automobile makers know full well subtracts from sales of whatever model is being promoted.

Bicycling along unused train tracks would be safe and fun. But I would rather see trains on those tracks carrying both passengers and their bicycles!

Exxon Confirms Ruptured Pipeline in Ark. Carried Canadian Dilbit

The pipeline, called the Pegasus, leaked for about 45 minutes, according to local sources. Exxon has recovered 185,000 gallons of oil and water at site.

By Lisa Song, InsideClimate News Mar 30, 2013

A pipeline that ruptured and leaked at least 80,000 gallons of oil into central Arkansas on Friday was transporting a heavy form of crude from the Canadian tar sands region, ExxonMobil told InsideClimate News.

Local police said the line gushed oil for 45 minutes before being stopped, according to media reports.

Crude oil ran through a subdivision of Mayflower, Ark., about 20 miles north of Little Rock. Twenty-two homes were evacuated, but no one was hospitalized, Exxon spokesman Charlie Engelmann said on Saturday.

-- snip --

The 20-inch Pegasus pipeline runs 858 miles from Patoka, Ill. to Nederland, Texas. Engelmann said the line was carrying Wabasca Heavy crude from western Canada when it ruptured.

Wabasca Heavy is a type of diluted bitumen, or dilbit, from Alberta's tar sands region, according to the Canadian Crude Quality Monitoring Program, an industry source that provides data on different types of Canadian oil.

Now imagine the XL pipeline rupturing over prime farmland and millions of gallons spewing into farm fields.

OK, spills are bad, but a million gallons on a farm field is about as good as it gets. Except maybe on a suburban neighborhood.

It's when it gets into waterways that damage is worse.

There are 50M barrels stored 'safely' in tanks at Cushing, mostly in farm country. Comparatively, a few thousand barrels is not huge. That could happen anywhere, anytime, I'd say.

Most pipelines are old, and many are being worked hard. I'd expect more spills. Industrial accidents are to an extent a function of investment. I'd expect more coming. Any absolutely no action to stop or much slow pipeline usage -- it's the best option we have.

The problem isn't pipelines... it's population and consumption levels, really.

July 26, 2010 had already shown us what a DilBit pipeline at 1440 psi and 160 degrees F can do. Line 6B of the Enbridge Energy Partners Lakehead system ruptured, erupting a million gallons of DilBit into Michigan's Kalamazoo River; the"Marshall spill".

Since pipeline operators are not required to say what they are piping, emergency responders didn't discover until ten days later that what turned the Kalamazoo River black was DilBit. Original expectations were that cleanup would take a few months. But after two years the job was not over and apparently never will be. The EPA has declared thirty miles of the Kalamazoo River "essentially permanently polluted".

"July 26, 2010 had already shown us what a DilBit pipeline at 1440 psi and 160 degrees F can do."

CalGuy: It appears that you are claiming that ENB Line 6b was running at 1440 psig and at 160 degrees F when it ruptured.
I don't think that either stat is correct:
NTSB said that "the highest recorded discharge pressure at the Marshall PS, immediately preceding the rupture, was 486 psig" (NTSB Final Report, p.20). This is roughly one-third the pressure which you claim.
Please provide supporting documentation re. pressure and temp.

That was a quote from someone on CBS News online. It seems like the XL tar sands dilbit would make quite a mess if the pipeline were ruptured. I don't think the exact temperature and pressure is the key point.

Of course it makes a mess. Just like the 100,000 surface pits did, back in the "bad old days" of productions. Or the hundreds or thousands of "gushers" used to. Industrial processes will always have industrial incidents (could say accidents, but that ignores the rather intentional calculus). The harder we push (old pipes, higher pressure, greater flows, less maintenance) the more incidents we'll have.

Liquids pipelines are nice because once it's mostly uncompressable, so as soon as you close the valve it stops quickly. Note that it does have momentum, so you can't slam a valve shut in an instant -- it takes minutes once you actually have the right valve being closed to quench a flow. Gas is harder, since the entire section between valves will continue to vent through the breach, so it's all going to come out. It's not as messy, but it's definitely dangerous.

Now, what's a reasonable alternative? Let's say it costs $50,000 per barrel -- you pay a guy a working wage for a year to clean up each barrel of spilled oil. A 10,000 barrel spill will cost us consumers $500M in add'l fuel costs (that's the way it's going to work -- those who want the energy will always be the ones to pay for everything).

Or we could build a new pipeline, like the Keystone XL (everybody loves a shiny new pipeline, right?) for about $10-15B. Given a reasonable cost of money, we could tolerate a spill like the above every year with a NPV advantage, and employ 10,000 clean-up workers in the middle of flyover country forever.

My best is we'll do both, actually, and just flow more product. The Pegasus pipeline flows about 100,000bpd (rounded up to make the math easy), or about 35,000,000 barrels per year. Assuming there are at least 10 such pipelines (I think Rock says about 12, but I'm too lazy to go find all the details), that's 350,000,000 barrels per year. Just at about $1.30 per barrel for the oil going to the cost, and it'll cover the spills at a rate of one per year.

Or we could shut all the pipelines and do something drastically different. Either way, we should all be content -- the country we get, we richly deserve.

Edit: Forgot to add the other obvious option -- just don't clean it up, and save a nickel a gallon on gas.

Interesting that the main article uses the fairly appropriate terms "rupture" and " gushed" as opposed to the MSM, posters here and seemingly everyone else who use the terms "spill" and "leak".

Now, I occasionally (frequently?) spill, say, a cup of water on the counter or some coffee on the floor. There is a leak in my solar hot water system. Both of these can be cleaned up with a small cloth.

80,000 gallons is not a leak. That would supply my personal needs for very roughly 350 years.

So there I am at the petrol station filling my car at about 1 l/s and not only does the handle stick but I don't notice it overflowing for 4 or 5 days. Oops, I Spilled!

Sometimes word count.


How high oil prices lead to financial collapse-

"A sixth possibility is the effects of ObamaCare will destabilize an already weak economy, as businesses attempt to circumvent its effects by substituting more part-time workers for full-time workers."

This is already happening with the local box stores. This make 'unemployment' numbers skewed. Politicians will point to these numbers and claim success.

"My concern is that if banks are suddenly closed, businesses of all types will fail. This could include companies extracting oil as well as companies selling electric power and companies providing fresh water."

Mine too. The high cost of energy has reduced disposable income, and hurt my customers' customers--We are wholesale selling to retailers, whom sell to the general public who is hurting, which works back to hurting us and keeping us under severe price pressure. This hurts our employees as wages cannot rise to the extent their expenses are rising. It is a self reinforcing downward spiral. Less all round income makes less tax revenue. More people collecting unemployment strains gov budgets.

Money is 'lubrication' is a social sense, it eases transactions for people who do not have the right goods to barter with someone with whom they need something. Like you I suspect things will get tighter, "increased friction" if you will. In the end I think they will print/devalue as it will become 'the lessor of two evils'.


--must watch--

Mad Max was more a history lesson then about the future. The Brits (BP) wanted Middle Eastern oil way back then. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Persian_Oil_Company

Louisiana Sinkhole Expands Again

March 28, 2013
About 25 trees fell into the Assumption Parish, La., sinkhole and officials say a new crack formed Monday night in a well pad south of the lake-like slurry hole.

The Advocate reports experts working for the state Office of Conservation believe the collapse and cracked well pad are linked to now-calmed seismic events from late last week.

slide show

UK: Coldest Easter Sunday on record, Met Office confirms

Easter Sunday has been confirmed as the coldest Easter day on record, with the lowest temperature recorded as -12.5C in Braemar, in the Scottish Highlands .

The previous coldest Easter day since modern records began in 1960 was Easter Monday in 1986, which dipped to -9.8C, the Met Office said.

Average temperatures for this time of year are between 10C and 13C.

Forecast natural gas demand is about 21% above seasonal norms, per National Grid-Prevailing View.

The weakening North Atlantic Current has resulted in a colder and wetter climate for the British Isles, which are at the same latitude as southern Alaska.

The weakening North Atlantic Current

Have a link?

Iceland seems a lot warmer this spring, even if the UK isn't. I don't see anything unusual in this years weather, a cold block that hasn't moved in a while is currently over the BI.

Perhaps the cold is the result of changes in the Thermohaline Circulation, as you apparently refer to. Other possible explanations include the ongoing loss of sea-ice over the Arctic Ocean, which is said to result in changes in the jet stream with the resulting colder than usual flow over Northern Europe. There are a couple of published reports in the science literature on this, as referenced in the blog post above. Or, just maybe, we are entering another Ice Age, like the start of the last one at the end of the Eemian, which was a bit warmer than today's climate...

E. Swanson


Was going to post the link to Rabbet's post. You beat me to it.

Here's a recent Guardian article on the topic...

Scientists link frozen spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss

For all: it's worth catching up on recent posts at Neven's ASI for more background. And do read the comments as the discussion there both informs and complements Neven's posts.

Arctic Sea Ice Blog


I was reading Neven's post yesterday. When I came to understand the implications of Polar warming a few weeks ago I was truly shocked and have been following the issue seriously since. It basically means time is up and we are going to suffer the impact of climate change far sooner and in ways people were not anticipating. What we are now seeing is the new normal, at least until the next phase kicks in.

Methane release will likely accelerate the Polar warming and as a consequence accelerate weather destabilisation in the mid-latitudes. Which means our weather systems are already degenerating now without additional methane induced forcing and are going to worsen considerably from here on and very quickly with the additional feedbacks such as methane.

I don't think this has sunk in yet, even for people who are aware of the general situation. We're in deep trouble.

The gallows humour up above suggests some of us are concerned...

In my own little way, locally, I have been trying to raise awareness but the inertia of indifference and ignorance requires such a huge effort. Not saying it's not worth the effort.

Our lack of action reminds me of what took place on board ship after the Titanic struck the iceberg. "Not to worry, the ship is unsinkable". In the end everyone scurried for the life boats. What few there were.

If we stop burning fossil fuels, 'cold turkey' tomorrow we will still see 'warming (that sounds pleasant!)' for at least 50 years, then up to 1000 years to revert to the climate of pre-industrial revolution.

I'm getting the impression that the peak oil conundrum is too little collapse, too late. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation did a documentary several years ago that pointed out that all that oil was sequestered from several overheated epochs. And we are restoring possible several of those warming episodes at the same time.

The scientists saw the issue 100 years ago (Arrhenius), did the calculations 40 years ago (Limits to Growth) and have been trying to get some traction for the past few decades. But when someone with a phD 'protests' they are told by the denialist politicians they are overstepping their bounds, they should stick to science.

What I find interesting that this site still exists. I understand the intellectual attraction, but I hope everyone reading this had figured out there is one way to solve this - go out and change. I'm just in from building my greenhouse. The Annualized heat storage just converted to 'gain' while my neighbours are still heating for the winter. The solar PV is a slightly lower priority with our cheap hydro grid; but 90% of the infrastructure is in, an I can't be bothered working outside while it is still below freezing.

I want things to go back to perfect (what do you mean, it was always crap?), all commodities can be substituted and I know the thorium reactors will save us; in a few decades, if someone tries, if it works...

But meanwhile I have 250 lbs of seed wheat in the basement and I can see bare dirt. Sure, it's probably futile, but if I end up as one of the starved I don't think it will matter. But if I end up as one of the survivors I'll be pretty happy to have a greenhouse and a few hours of electricity a day.

We are the generation and society that screwed everything, and if you do the math solar is the only thing that will scale (yes, if you have wind or tide or geothermal or hydro do that too!) to slightly soften the crash. Look at yourself right now & tell me - is it not time to put your analysis into action? Good luck everyone, I might check in occasionally but you HAVE convinced me; and this intellectual navel gazing is great.

Perhaps, like Old Farmer Mac I should ask to be banned!


I still don't see anything beyond a normal fluctuation in temperatures. Germany is pretty cold, and is the more significant anomaly. Iceland has been much warmer. In 2003 and 2006, Britain (and Western Europe) had heatwaves (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_European_heat_wave, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_European_heat_wave), so I don't see any kind of real pattern here. The heatwave of 2003 was a significant event. IPCC forecasts projected through year 2030 and 2040 show more warming in the north than anywhere else, although I have no idea why that should be the case.

Yes, the temperature average for the Northern Hemisphere is more or less normal. But don't let that fool you, there are big changes happening. The Jet Stream is way South over North Africa due to a blocking High over Greenland/Iceland. The resulting clockwise rotation of the High is bringing Arctic air down into Europe causing the Springtime freeze.

The theory is that the loss of Arctic sea ice is causing this pattern to occur by affecting the Jet Stream. As the Jet Stream meanders and buckles it alters the weather in the Northern Hemisphere. If you end up North of it, you freeze or flood, if you end up South of it, you bake and suffer drought. Essentially changing the weather patterns chaotically.

These altered weather patterns may not stabilise into a new normal due to the fact the Arctic is warming six times faster than the rest of the planet. With numerous feedbacks kicking in this Arctic amplification may even accelerate significantly. The result being even more chaotic changes to the weather patterns in the mid-latitudes which will significantly disrupt agriculture. And this is not in the future, it is happening now.

Alternate extreme heat and extreme cold doesn't gel well with the Thermohaline Circulation theory, Jet Stream weirding looks more like the culprit.

Just as a point of clarification, it is temperature/density difference which creates the Jet Stream...not the Jet Stream that creates the temperature difference.

I would say its the sea ice circulation link that's going one. climate progress has an excellent article by Ramsdorf explaining the recent research on this. Climate models, with sea ice removed in the areas we've seen it shrink the most, show a large high pressure system between Greenland and Scandinavia, with cold air going into western Europe, Siberia and the central US, which is exactly what we have been seeing. Overall the northern hemisphere temps roughly balance out, but the big warmups from this pattern are in unpopulated areas (Labrador Sea, and central asia).

The last chart I saw, the jetstream was somewhere over the Iberian peninsular. Spring has been postponed up here at 55N. The warmup over Greenland last summer was a touch unusual - first time for 800 years. Looks like we are in uncharted territory. This time last year we had a record March heatwave. (Then weeks of cold & dry played havoc with spring planting - then it rained all summer and more. Fickle place the North Atlantic.)

OTOH we are equalling the record high for the day with 28C and hit a new record for the day yesterday of 31C. What a mess.


PS I am starting to wonder what our summer will be like after many new records were set last year and many days equalled the record.

Since there is not much discussion in this Easter vacation, I offer my little contribution on the theme "are our leaders aware of the coming predicaments?" The answer seems to be yes at some level. While looking for grants (I'm a biologist and have to apply for grant to run a research lab) I found a call for proposal by the French research agency ANR (somewhat equivalent to the NSF or NIH in US) on "agrobiosphere". Here is a slightly improved Google translation of the French text:

The biosphere, as used and managed by companies and in particular agriculture (in the broad sense, including other continental and marine primary production), has and will have some important global developments and, accordingly, the constraints that it must adapt by anticipating:
Climate change and the need to sequester carbon, need to preserve all the components of biodiversity and functionality need to conserve freshwater and preserve the quality of ecosystems, rising energy prices, dwindling fossil fertilizers, environmental or health impacts and social unrest due to the release of molecules used in plant and animal healthcare.
- And more generally the contamination of marine and continental habitats by persistent organic pollutants.

(bold in the original version)

Original pdf available at http://www.agence-nationale-recherche.fr/fileadmin/aap/2013/aap-agrobio-...
In other word the heads of this French scientist agency are aware of the coming predicaments (peak everything and climate change) and hope to find some solutions through research. Maybe, maybe not...
The global policies are usually decided at the level of the government even though the agencies are somewhat independent.
So I think that while things are kept quiet, underneath there is some attempt to address our problem... while trying to keep BAU continuing...

I would also point towards French transportation policies, of which perhaps the most significant was announced earlier this month.

Best Hopes for Those That Prepare,


Can anyone find either report cited here?
"The Real Reason for the Iraq War"
"Was the Iraq War to Grab Oil...or to Raise Oil Prices?"

Absolutely not. U.S policy has been to maintain oil security in the Middle east, i.e, to secure its share of the oil. Iraqi oil production has increased recently. Haven't seen any deviation from their policy, except for an increased focus on drilling on U.S soil. Unfortunately, there has been enormous damage to Iraqi infrastructure during this adventure which doesn't make the U.S forces exactly attractive to Iraqis.

See Chalmers, Johnson for a good summary of American militarism.


.. no, I'm not generally against the U.S and obviously military adventurism employs a lot of people and hardware, but for any action there are consequences, for the U.S and everybody else.