Drumbeat: April 3, 2013

Inland U.S. oil refiners stung by renewable energy credits

(Reuters) - Landlocked U.S. oil refiners short on capacity to blend ethanol are bracing for a spike in costs, unable to export their way out of a sudden rise in the price of renewable energy credits needed to comply with government requirements.

CVR Energy Inc and HollyFrontier Corp, inland refiners with limited capacity to blend biofuels into the pipeline, are suffering from a jolt to investor confidence while stocks of their coastal peers continue a two-year upward march.

Along with some East Coast refiners like PBF Energy Inc , they are at the sharp end of the uneven distribution of pain resulting from a hundred-fold surge in the cost of ethanol credits.

Ethanol Strengthens Against Gasoline as Corn Stops Decline

Ethanol strengthened against gasoline as corn halted its slide, signaling higher production costs for the biofuel.

China to Surpass U.S. as World’s Top Crude Importer, OPEC Says

China is on course to overtake the U.S. as the world’s top crude importer by 2014, as the Asian country’s growing refining capacity boosts demand and America’s fracking boom cuts the need for foreign oil, OPEC said today.

Imports to China may surpass 6 million barrels a day by the end of this year, according to an e-mailed report from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. U.S. oil imports declined 21 percent last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Shipments may drop below 6 million a day in 2014, according to OPEC.

WTI Crude Drops as U.S. Oil Stockpiles Gain

West Texas Intermediate fell for the second time in three days after data showed U.S. crude stockpiles rose the most in four weeks and a government order prevented the restart of a pipeline to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Heating oil in Northern Ireland 'up by 60% in three years'

The Consumer Council has said the cost of home heating oil in Northern Ireland has risen by 60% in the last three years.

It is calling for the executive to take action and help families struggling to make ends meet.

Gasoline Futures Decline as Maintenance Ends; Spreads Weaken

Gasoline fell a third consecutive day as refinery maintenance lessened. Crack spreads and calendar spreads weakened.

Gasoline Cargoes to U.S. Seen Increasing in Shipbroker Survey

The number of gasoline cargoes booked on tankers for shipment to the U.S. will expand in the next two weeks, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Traders will charter a total of 34 Medium Range vessels for loading within the 14 days to April 16, according to the median in the survey yesterday of five shipbrokers and traders specializing in shipments of the auto fuel. That compares with 20 ships in the corresponding survey last week.

Iraq Seeks to Boost Crude Exports to China as Oil Output Rises

Iraq is seeking a long-term accord to boost oil exports to China as OPEC’s second-biggest producer increases output from fields operated by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi said.

India's MRPL asks for more Saudi oil in April

Indian state-owned refiner MRPL has asked for more Saudi Arabian oil in April, according to an industry source close to the matter, as it awaits clarity from India's government on how it will insure plants using crude from sanctions-hit Iran, Reuters reported.

Indian insurers said in February they could no longer cover refineries processing Iranian oil as European reinsurers had stopped helping them hedge their risk. New Delhi and industry officials have been considering establishing a domestic reinsurance scheme, but it is unclear how that would be funded.

Natural Gas Drilling Could Pick Up If Marcellus Shale Export Plans Are Approved

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A Virginia based utility has announced plans to ship liquefied natural gas from the Marcellus Shale field in Pennsylvania overseas.

Dominion Resources has filed paperwork to convert a plant on the Chesapeake Bay that now imports gas into an export facility. They’re just one of several companies seeking federal permission to deal with non-free trade countries like India and Japan.

Stealth Moves Tankers 13,500 Miles in Dash for U.S. Gas

Record U.S. exports of liquefied petroleum gas are spurring StealthGas Inc. to redeploy tankers as far as 13,500 miles to take advantage of one of the few capacity shortages in global shipping.

Denver Oil Concern Withdraws Its Plan for Big Tank in Maine

A Denver oil company that had proposed building a 14-story liquid-propane storage tank on the Maine coast abruptly withdrew its application on Tuesday, bringing to a sudden halt a contentious battle that had raged for three years in the tiny town of Searsport and its environs.

The company, DCP Midstream Partners, said that it would not file any appeals and that it was essentially done trying to do business in Maine.

Nigeria’s MEND Rebels Pledge Attacks on Oil Region

The main rebel group in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger River delta said it’s resuming assaults on Africa’s biggest petroleum industry after its suspected leader, Henry Okah, was imprisoned in South Africa.

S Korea's Kogas rules out delay to Iraqi gas field plans after attack

Seoul (Platts) - South Korea's state-run gas developer Korea Gas Corp, or Kogas, Wednesday ruled out any delay to its plans to start commercial production in September 2015 at the Akkas gas field in Iraq, which was attacked by gunmen earlier this week.

"There was no major damage to the facilities at the field, and there will be no delay to the original plans," Song Kyu-Cheol, a Kogas spokesman, told Platts. "We will take measures to protect gas fields in Iraq from attacks," he added.

Canadian militants who took part in Algeria Al Qaeda siege from 'middle-class backgrounds'

OTTAWA/WASHINGTON // Two men from English-speaking Canada who took part in an attack by militants on a gas plant in Algeria in January were in their early twenties and from middle-class backgrounds.

Why Western Oil Companies Love Myanmar's Moe Myint

Myanmar boasts vast, untapped reserves of oil and natural gas, and with sanctions over and a world thirsty for new sources of energy, Western multinationals are eager to sign deals. Yangon plans to auction off new exploration licenses starting in September, but foreign companies must join up with a local company to bid. That’s why Moe Myint and his oil company, the largest in Myanmar, are so in demand these days. “[We] have received a lot of interest from oil companies, including many majors, independents and investment groups,” he says. “We will be partnering up with several Western multinationals to bid for offshore blocks.”

Adnoc awards $2.4bn Sarb contracts

The first oilfield to be developed in Abu Dhabi without foreign shareholders is moving ahead with US$2.4 billion (Dh8.81bn) in contracts awarded, including plans for falcon-shaped islands.

Ukraine interested in renewing direct gas supplies from Kazakhstan

Ukraine is interested in renewing direct gas supplies from Kazakhstan like those it was receiving before 2005, Interfax-Kazakhstan reports citing Ukrainian PM Nikolay Azarov as saying at the meeting with Kazakhstan first deputy PM Bakytzhan Sagintayev in Kiev.

“We are ready to expand cooperation in the use of transport, in particular the pipelines. I think that this is what Kazakhstan is interested in as well. It has sufficient oil and gas reserves and it could traded with us not only via Russia, but also directly, the way it was before 2005. This would comply with the interests of both countries,” Ukrainian PM said.

TransCanada Seeks Customers for Mainline Oil Pipe Project

TransCanada Corp., the company proposing to build the Keystone XL pipeline, is soliciting customer commitments to convert a portion of its Mainline natural gas system to carry oil from Western Canada to refineries in the east.

Gazprom Sinks Below $100 Billion For First Time Since ’09

OAO Gazprom is valued at less than $100 billion for the first time since 2009 as concern Vladimir Putin’s natural gas producer is being mismanaged fuels a rout in its shares.

Governor of Japan''s tsunami-hit area renews gratitude to Kuwait

OFUNATO, Japan (KUNA) -- Governor of Iwate Prefecture Takuya Tasso on Wednesday renewed his gratitude to HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the Kuwaiti people for their support, including the donation of five million barrels of crude oil, following a magnitude 9. 0-quake and ensuing tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan two years ago.

A Rock and a Hard Place: California and the Monterey Shale

Ten years ago, we were talking about “peak oil” and what we were going to do when the oil and gas stopped flowing and prices skyrocketed. Now the U.S. is having serious debates about whether and how to export its fossil fuels. We’ve got more coal and gas than we know what to do with, and oil appears not far behind.

All of this is due to advances in oil and gas development that have made recovery from shale rock economic.

Norway Oil Fund Says Barriers to Free Capital Will Hurt Returns

Norway’s $717 billion sovereign wealth fund signaled it risks missing out on returns based on global economic growth amid concern that barriers to capital movements and taxes on investments are spreading.

Exxon spill: 'I saw a river of oil heading down my street'

This past weekend, the tranquillity of a suburban housing development in Arkansas was brutally interrupted by a strange flood – one not of water, but of oil. A pipeline belonging to ExxonMobil ruptured, spilling thousands of barrels of crude oil into the town of Mayflower. Our Observer filmed this surreal scene before any emergency personnel had yet arrived.

Pipeline Spills Stir New Criticism of Keystone Plan

Two recent oil pipeline spills have prompted new criticism from opponents of the proposed Keystone XL project, while raising more questions about whether the federal government is adequately monitoring the nation’s vast labyrinth of pipelines.

Why the Arkansas Pipeline Spill Won't Hurt Exxon Mobil's Reputation

Thousands of barrels of thick, black oil flowing like a river through a suburban Arkansas community. Residents evacuated. Pictures of birds and other wildlife coated in muck shared on the Internet. The EPA calls it a “major spill” and the state’s AG has just announced an investigation. The situation is a textbook corporate reputation crisis.

Only it hasn’t and won’t likely have much effect on Exxon Mobil’s reputation, and its PR strategy has nothing to do with it.

Gulf Of Mexico Dolphin Deaths Point To Continued Effects Of BP Oil Spill, Group Alleges

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Continuing deaths of dolphins and sea turtles are a sign that the Gulf of Mexico is still feeling effects from the 2010 spill that spewed 200 million gallons of oil from a well a mile below the surface, a prominent environmental group said Tuesday.

The deaths — especially in dolphins, which are at the top of the food chain — are "a strong indication that there is something amiss with the Gulf ecosystem," said National Wildlife Federation senior scientist Doug Inkley.

Treatment Plant for Waste in Nuclear Cleanup Has Design Flaws, Panel Says

WASHINGTON — A treatment plant that the Energy Department is counting on to stabilize the radioactive waste at the nation’s largest environmental cleanup project, at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State, has design problems that could lead to chemical explosions, inadvertent nuclear reactions and mechanical breakdowns, a federal advisory panel warned on Tuesday.

Climate researchers claim nuclear power has prevented approximately 1.84 million deaths

(Phys.org) — Climate researchers Pushker Kharecha and James Hansen (a NASA scientist and environmental activist) have published a paper in Environmental Science & Technology, in which they claim that using nuclear energy to create electricity instead of burning coal has resulted in preventing approximately 1.84 million deaths. Their numbers come from calculating how many people would have likely died due to air pollution over the years, but didn't, because electricity was created by non-air polluting nuclear power plants instead.

Emissions Rules Put Alternative-Fuel Vehicles in a Bind

THE Environmental Protection Agency’s latest proposed tightening of limits on sulfur in gasoline, and its previous rules, will most likely have the perverse consequence of retarding the development of cars running on batteries, advanced biofuels or hydrogen — all promising but expensive technologies that have not become mass-market products.

Tesla Touts ‘True Out of Pocket’ Financing for Model S

Tesla Motors Inc. is adding lease- style financing for its Model S intended to broaden sales of the sedan as the maker of electric cars led by billionaire Elon Musk seeks to build on the company’s first quarterly profit.

Saudi takes the long view on energy

The kingdom, which is losing potential revenues because of the high domestic consumption of fossil fuels, last year announced a revamp of its energy sector - which has sent the crisis-ridden solar industry flocking to the country.

In a white paper released in February by the King Abdullah Centre for Atomic and Renewable Energy, the plans were specified: 41 gigawatts of solar energy out of an overall renewables target of 54GW that will also draw on geothermal, wind and waste-to-energy projects by 2032.

Age of renewables: Why shale gas won’t kill wind or solar

Rather than replacing renewables, the Citi analysts suggest that the shale gas industry will actually be dependent on the broader deployment of wind and solar for its future. That’s because gas will be priced out of the conventional market in the short term, but will then be required to fill in the gaps as wind and solar are deployed more widely, and coal generation is shut down.

Far from competing with each other, Citi suggests renewables and shale gas will be co-dependent as the world’s energy systems are weaned away from the baseload model that has dominated the industry for the last century. That is until forms of dispatchable renewable energy, such as solar thermal with storage, and technologies such as smart grids, push gas out of the market.

BP to Sell U.S. Wind Business in Retreat to Fossil Fuels

BP Plc, attempting to recover from an oil spill that may cost it $42 billion, said it will sell its wind power assets in the U.S. in another step to focus on its main oil and gas business.

Oregon: Groups Give Notice of Suit Over Coal Dust

An environmental coalition on Monday charged that coal and coal dust spilled from railroad hoppers is polluting the scenic Columbia River Gorge, and pledged to sue mining companies and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad if they do not halt the spills.

Detroit Fire Trucks Dribble Water as Orr Weighs Costs of Safety

Crews at Detroit’s Engine 54 station chase fires on trucks with broken gas gauges, faulty air brakes and, in one, an odometer that reads 183,000 miles.

Budget cuts mean the company, bedeviled by false alarms and arsons of vacant buildings, must cover almost 50 square miles (130 kilometers) on the west side, said Sergeant Shawn Atkins. As he spoke, water splashed on the concrete floor from a truck’s leaking 500-gallon tank.

Survey: Frugality reigns 5 years after crisis

BOSTON (AP) — The frugality and investing discipline that the 2008 financial crisis imposed on Americans appear to have led to permanent changes in behavior on money matters, according to a survey by the nation's second largest mutual fund company.

Spendthrift ways are unlikely to again become as pervasive as they were before the crisis, Fidelity Investments concluded Wednesday in releasing results of its "Five Years After" survey of nearly 1,200 investors.

More Americans moving more, longer distances

More Americans appear to be moving as a better economy and a stronger housing market take hold.

In January and February, 5.4% more households moved this year than last, based on data from the nine largest moving companies, says the American Moving & Storage Association.

Fatal Landslide Draws Attention to the Toll of Mining on Tibet

BEIJING — One after another, the bodies have kept coming. By Wednesday, rescuers had pulled 66 dead miners from the snow-covered rubble. They expect to find more.

The miners had traveled to a valley on the roof of the world to work in what a state news agency described last year as “a mining miracle.” Now, the project in central Tibet has brought about one of the nation’s worst recent mining disasters. On Friday, an avalanche of rock and mud tumbled down the walls of the Gyama Valley and wiped out a mining camp, burying 83 people.

On the Montana Range, Efforts to Restore Bison Meet Resistance

HELENA, Mont. — Free-roaming wild bison, once vital to the history, culture and ecology of the high plains and then hunted nearly to oblivion, are back at the center of a new debate as they compete with cattle for space on Montana’s vast grasslands.

Air Pollution Linked to 1.2 Million Premature Deaths in China

BEIJING — Outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, nearly 40 percent of the global total, according to a new summary of data from a scientific study on leading causes of death worldwide.

Sandbag Season Has Fargo Thinking of a Better Way

The almost-yearly floods have fed the sense of urgency that a permanent barrier is needed. A flood in 1997 devastated Grand Forks, N.D., about an hour north of here, but that city is now fortified by a series of flood walls. In a way, Fargo has been so successful in its makeshift defenses that it took a stretch like the recent series of floods to get people fed up.

“When you have a 100-year flood four years out of five, that’s a great challenge,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said.

Drought forecast: Bad to worse

Drought conditions in more than half of the United States have slipped into a pattern that climatologists say is uncomfortably similar to the most severe droughts in recent U.S. history, including the 1930s Dust Bowl and the widespread 1950s drought.

The 2013 drought season is already off to a worse start than in 2012 or 2011 — a trend that scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say is a good indicator, based on historical records, that the entire year will be drier than last year, even if spring and summer rainfall and temperatures remain the same.

The Methane Beneath Our Feet

Insouciant New Yorkers—here is another pending disaster to shrug off with characteristic brio! There is a huge, ongoing gas leak beneath your very feet. A team of natural gas experts recently commissioned to survey the New York system has found vastly elevated levels of methane in locations all over Manhattan, a clear indication that Con Ed’s 4,320-mile network of pipes, dating back to the 1800s, is corroded, full of holes, and spewing methane into the atmosphere. The main danger here is to planetary, not personal, safety: though it has received relatively little attention, methane, the primary component of natural gas, is second only to carbon dioxide on the list of greenhouse gases that are inducing climate change.

Least developed countries agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions

In what could be a far-reaching move, the world's poorest countries say they are now prepared to commit themselves to binding cuts in their emissions of greenhouse gases. Until now, the 49-strong group of Least Developed Countries (LDC) have insisted the primary responsibility for tackling climate change through carbon cuts lies with industrialised nations, which emitted most of the carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere.

Climate change report a wake-up call: Combet

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says a new report is a wake-up call to those who deny global warming is a problem.

The Climate Commission's latest report warns that of extreme weather in Australia.

Australian agriculture faces extreme weather risk: report

Australia's most productive agricultural areas face a greater risk of extreme weather from climate change in coming decades, including a higher number of droughts, a report from the Climate Commission said on Wednesday.

Extreme weather events such as heat waves, floods, bush fires and cyclones are already becoming more intense, highlighting the need to take rapid action on climate change and to mitigate the impact, the report said.

Top scientists agree climate has changed for good

The nation's top climate scientists and science bodies have for the first time endorsed a major report that says Australia's climate has shifted permanently in some cases.

The peer-reviewed assessment notes that there is "strong consensus" around this central finding, and in some cases the weather has changed for good.

Climate change threatens food security of urban poor

The spectre of widespread hunger could return to haunt some of the world’s largest cities as a result of climate change, a new report warns.

It says the combination of rising populations, soaring food prices and uncertain harvests will impact heavily on what it calls the ‘urban poor’, who do not have direct access to food.

Thousands Die Due to Climate Change Policies and Carbon Taxes as Friends of Science Bring Dr. Peiser from Global Warming Policy Foundation UK to issue Warning to America

The UK’s failed climate change policies are killing thousands during big freeze in the UK according to reports in major newspapers; a grim warning to North America on the perils of carbon taxes and forced closure of coal-fired plants. Dr. Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation will be guest speaker: “To Heat or Eat: Europe’s Failed Climate Policies” May 14, 2013 in Calgary, Alberta at the 10th Annual Friends of Science luncheon.

'Cost of power may force jobs overseas'

INDUSTRY leaders have warned that the Government is 'badly underestimating' the effect of energy and climate change policies on the ceramics sector.

The British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) said that while new Government analysis recognises that businesses are bearing the financial brunt of policy decisions, there are some 'serious exclusions' in costs in its assessments.

Economist warns of 'radical' climate change, millions at risk

WASHINGTON - The author of an influential 2006 study on climate change warned Tuesday that the world could be headed toward warming even more catastrophic than expected but he voiced hope for political action.

Nicholas Stern, the British former chief economist for the World Bank, said that both emissions of greenhouse gas and the effects of climate change were taking place faster than he forecast seven years ago.

There was a long story posted on Bloomberb yesterday regarding enhanced oil recovery using CO2 injection.

Republican Born Roosevelt Digs Deep for Texas Oil Found With CO2

E. Swanson

Maybe Roosevelt can get his CO2 here. Link led to this site: TVA’s Paradise Unit 2 Sets New Continuous Operations Record

 photo smokystacks01_zpsa1f7ba03.jpeg

We haven't seen much here lately about these huge coal plants, and there's some technical discussion, and discussion about the history of this plant and reducing nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxide emissions. This plant consumes a lot of coal:

The plant has three coal-fired cyclone furnace generating units with a total summer net capacity of 2,201 MW. Construction on the plant began in 1959, and the first two units entered commercial service in 1963. Those two 700-MW units are subcritical designs. The third unit is a cyclone furnace supercritical unit rated at 1,150 MW, added in 1970.

When started up in 1963, Units 1 and 2 were the first 700-MW cyclone furnace–equipped units built in the U.S. In 1985 a barge-unloading facility added fuel flexibility by allowing coal deliveries via train, truck, or barge. The plant has an insatiable appetite for fuel, consuming about 22,000 tons of Illinois basin coal a day.

As expected, no mention was made of CO2 emissions or mercury, etc.. Those stacks are belching a lot of something. Rough math shows me that, during its record run, Unit 2 alone would have consumed around 1.71 million tons of coal.

Yair . . . Our local power station in Gladstone is rated at 1680 MW and in the 22years I have been here I have never seen any visible emissions from the stacks.

I realise of course the bad stuff is probably a colorless gas but I seems to me the technology they use here is a quantum leap beyond that shown in Ghung's post used above by the TVA.

Can anyone explain the different combustion systems or is it maybe the coal?


I worked for two years at a power plant in Saudi Arabia and we burned mostly natural gas. I don't recall seeing any smoke from the stack. Of course there were emissions but you just could not see them for the lack of soot in the emissions. Soot is mostly what you see and you see a lot of it from coal burners. The CO2 is invisible. I don't know about the other bad stuff, like sulfur dioxide, as to whether you can see that or not.

The emissions coming from the cooling towers in the photo above is just water vapor or more correctly water droplets.

Ron P.

Yair . . .

Soot is mostly what you see and you see a lot of it from coal burners.

Yes Ron, that's what I always thought but this local plant is a coal burner but produces no soot from the stacks.

I wonder is it due to better combustion, better coal, scrubbing, or a combination of all three?


Looking at the overcast weather I'm gonna guess that what you see coming from the stacks is the same stuff coming out of the cooling towers, water vapor. Probably it is really cold in the picture and the combustion water is condensing.

Yes, it's all water vapor. Environmental regulations wouldn't allow them to emit any real smoke. Looking at the picture, I would say that on that particular day the air temperature was cold and the relative humidity was about 100%. When steam came out of the stack, it immediately condensed to a thick fog.

It looks impressive but it doesn't actually mean anything. I've seen pictures like this before. They are incredibly mindless.

For that matter, I've had my pollution-controlled car create a huge cloud of water vapor all by itself, pulling away from a stoplight on a very cold day. I could do the same thing myself by breathing out.

Mostly you see condensed water vapor. Both from the cooling towers, and water in the combustion output (i.e. any hydrogen in the fuel becomes water). If your humidity is low enough, perhaps the "steam" never condenses.

It's water vapor from the SOx scrubbers. The gas in the stack is about 125 deg F and saturated. It hits the cold air above the stack and condenses.

Lack of a plum means ... no scrubbers (wet type).

Sounds like a lot of pie in the sky to me. For instance, Denbury Resources does nothing but CO2 oil recovery and they have been doing it for, like, over 10 years, and they have their own source of CO2. They buy up old, depleted oil fields cheap and then have to spend hundreds of millions to run their own pipelines from the CO2 source to the depleted oil fields. If this residual oil was such a sure thing only requiring some CO2 to return $billions, I think they would have been on to it years ago.

As it is, even with all their expertise and their own source of CO2 and high oil prices, DRNs stock has been flat for 5 years.

To be honest, it doesn't sound as if Roosevelt is a very knowledgeable oil man, but I could be wrong. To me, he sounds more like a promoter hoping to attract some gullible investors. But just my opinion.



I have new graphs to present. It's about the Hubbert Curve, Hubbert Linearization and Export Land Model results of Canada, Mexico and Europe-Euroasia. The graphs have been made with an updated version of Sokath, which you can download for free from this website: http://sokath.sourceforge.net/

For the next release (0.6.0) I'm going to implement demand destruction.

=== Canada ===

=== Mexico ===

=== Europe-Euroasia ===

Hey hey Comp Lex,

What is included in the === Europe-Euroasia === category? Europe plus Russia? I take it that the middle East isn't included by the barrels per day. Could you list the countries?

Also, thanks for posting this. These are some interesting charts.


Below you can find the last synthesis from Jean Laherrère (in a reliminary version) with plenty of graphs :

Summary graph :

Hello Tim,

Thank you for your compliments. Europe-Euroasia is Europe + Russia + Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan).


The Hubbert curve for Canada is not realistic, because Canadian production really consists of two superimposed Hubbert curves - a bimodal distribution. The first curve is for conventional oil, which peaked rather sharply in 1973 and has been declining from that peak ever since. The second curve is for oil sands (often referred to as "tar sands" in the US) which started production in 1968 and has been on a slow but relentless growth ever since.

The first curve is dominated by the huge Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, which covers the four western provinces of Canada and has produced large amounts of oil in its day, but is largely exhausted and is now on the tail end of the Hubbert curve.

The second curve is highly anomalous because the amount of oil in the Canadian oil sands is approximately the same size as the amount of conventional oil remaining in the rest of the world. This curve is limited mostly by economics, since the oil is very expensive to develop, but at current prices about 170 billion barrels of it is "proven reserves" - i.e. it is economic to produce at current prices using current technology. At current production rates that would take about 160 years to produce, but most likely production rates will increase somewhat. Most likely its production will follow a very wide, very flat Hubbert curve.

The situation is further complicated by technology and by prices. New oil sands technology is being developed which in the long term will allow production of much more than 170 billion barrels of oil, and if prices rise higher than they currently are, that will also allow production of much more oil.

The bottom line is that you can't draw a simple Hubbert curve for Canada. It is really a complex multimodal curve which is very dependent on technology and oil prices.

Out of curiosity what does that new technology entail? Is that what you envision will bring URR to 315 billion? Or do you expect more than this?

Null Hypothesis,

In case RMG does not have a chance to reply, I will take a shot at it based on information he has shared with me in the past.

Much of the oil sands is recovered by mining, currently about 50 %. Other in-situ methods using steam injected underground into the formation to soften the bitumen so that it can be pumped to the surface are being used to reach the deeper deposits where mining is not practical. As these methods improve, due to imcremental technological improvements which will reduce production costs ceteris paribus, then more oil sands will be economically recoverable.

In addition, as conventional oil depletes and oil prices increase, more oil sands will become economically recoverable. The original oil in place (OOIP) in the oil sands is about 1.7 trillion barrels and the economically recoverable portion is about 10 % (175 billion barrels), if price increases and improved production processes allow the recoverable % to double to 20 % then the economically recoverable oil sands will rise to 350 billion barrels.

Note that the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (see "www.capp.ca") forecasts 5 million barrels per day of oil sands output in 2030.


Thanks but I was wondering what that new technology would specifically be. Based on what I've seen, the EROEI of oil sands operations is about 5 to 1 and most of that comes from natural gas which is needed to heat it in the ground to get it to flow, then upgrade it afterwards into synthetic crude (break up the long chains, add more hydrogen).


As I see it there is a minimum amount of energy required to heat something up underground to get it to flow, just like there's a minimum amount of energy to move a car 100 m up in elevation, no matter how fuel efficient it is. Just wondering how much of the innovations have been / are being made recently and what's left to expect "down the pipeline". I imagine there is quite a bit of incentive to make the significant breakthroughs right now. We've seen some good ones over the last decade but as the above article points out, even now, with high oil prices, oil sands are having a hard time making it a go. The biggest breakthroughs tend to be made first.

There is no real minimum energy required to get bitumen out of the ground, so a lot of research is directed to reducing the energy input required. Other research is directed toward partially upgrading the bitumen underground, and thereby reducing not only the energy required to produce it but the diluent required to move it through pipelines. There is also the possibility of reducing the amount of natural gas through bitumen gasification, and burning more of the heavy ends of the bitumen for fuel. There is constant research going on, and every so often they make a breakthrough.

The biggest problem now is lack of pipelines. The price of oil in the Brent (shipborne) market has been high enough to justify new oil sands plants, it's that companies aren't able to ship bitumen into the Brent market and it is backing up in Alberta.

Of course there are a real minimum energy requiered. If something weighs 1 Kg, and you lift it 1 meter, you uppgrade that objects potential energy so much. You actually just wrote the 2:nd law of thermodynamics don't apply to bitumen extraction. Probably not what you meant, but realy what you wrote.

No that isn't true. For one thing, reservoir pressure will lift the oil a certain distance toward the surface without any energy input, and in many conventional oil fields will lift it all the way to the surface, at least in the early stages of production. That's one reason for the widely quoted 1:100 EROEI for Arab oil fields.

That doesn't really apply to bitumen reservoirs, which usually have low reservoir pressures, but they are generally shallow and the lifting distance is short. The biggest energy requirements are to heat the bitumen to reduce the viscosity so it will flow into the well bore.

If you can find some way of reducing the viscosity using less energy, you can improve the EROEI. Possibilities are solvent injection or in-situ upgrading. Research is ongoing and continuous.

The bitumen does - if I am rightly informed - not exactly flow like water. Can we argue that to loosen the molecular bindings and make the stuff flow, there must be a minimum energy required to do so?

The original oil in place (OOIP) in the oil sands is about 1.7 trillion barrels and the economically recoverable portion is about 10 % (175 billion barrels), if price increases and improved production processes allow the recoverable % to double to 20 % then the economically recoverable oil sands will rise to 350 billion barrels.

The production processes have already been improved to the point where about 350 billion barrels can be economically recovered - The original estimate of 170 billion barrels was based on older technology and companies can do quite a bit better than that now. The Alberta government has not had a reason to update the estimate, though.

Looking at totality of posting, the problem would be how fast it can be mined, coupled with problems with disposal of waste. Correct?


There are limits to how fast the oil sands can be developed due to the availability of capital and labor. The projects are very capital and labor-intensive and those are the main constraints on development.

Disposal of waste is not very difficult - they just put most of it back in the mines. The waste is really not more toxic than the original oil sands were. They extract 99% of the oil from the sand, so what goes back in the pits is basically cleaned sand.

CAPP (just search Canadian Assoc of Petroleum Producers) forecasts 5 million Barrels per day from the oil sands in 2030 and about 3 MMbpd by 2020. Currently there is a 50/50 split between mining and in situ production. Over time it is expected that the in situ/mining ratio will rise to 60/40 by 2050 and in general that the amount produced by in situ methods will increase more quickly than production from mining.

There are about 1700 billion barrels of oil sands (about 10 % estimated to be economically recoverable). Both rising oil prices and incremental improvements in the in situ production processes (which will lower costs) will increase the percentage of economically recoverable oil sands, possibly by as much as a factor of 2 (to 350 billion barrels).


It seems to me that if you are digging up the sand, the deeper the pit, the more costly it becomes. Is there a guaranteed program to restore the topsoil (is there topsoil there?)? Are those costs factored in to the cost of oil? Also, in situ production consumes water, IIRC, and NG. Is the effluent treated? Where does the treated water go? Untreated water? Tailings?

I know how 'important' it is to have oil to power our greedy society. Just wondering how much cost is being left 'unpaid' (at least by the corporation selling the oil and using the oil).


Only about 10% of the oil sands, containing about 20% of the oil, is shallow enough to surface mine, so the remainder will have to be produced with in-situ methods. However, there is a plan in place to recover the mined area and restore the topsoil - the topsoil is stockpiled and ready to be put back when the time comes. The cost of reclaiming the mines is accounted for as a liability on the mining companies' books.

Treated water goes back in the river, untreated water is injected into deep formations, and the "tailings ponds" not really tailings ponds, they are settling ponds - they are giving time for the fine tailings to settle out of the water before they return it to the river. This takes quite a lot of time (50 years or so) but will eventually happen. The alternative is to centrifuge the water to remove the tailings, which would be expensive. However, I believe at least one of the companies is building a billion-dollar centrifuge to do that. The issue is more one of optics vs. cost than functionality, since both centrifuges and settling ponds do the same job.

I will have to give them full marks then RMG. Better than average at least.

In the Appalachian range, they are removing mountain tops and filling in valleys, with the claim that it is all good, in the removal of coal. I have seen some of the results, and whilst then do not look bad, the valleys, rivers, and associated habitat are pretty much destroyed forever. I doubt the ecology left will support native flora and fauna.

How do the plans for restoration look in the tar sands area? It sounds like it is more a plain than convoluted terrain, which again sounds like it may be okay afterwards.

Glad to hear they are planning, and reputedly setting aside funding (though accounting for a liability and having cash to pay can be two entirely different things).


If I may chime in, I have to give the environmental movement overall somewhat poor marks in assessing the environmental problems with oil sands. The typical message you'll see will be a picture of a vast blackened area denuded of life as the surface sand is mined. This appeals to emotions and makes people hate the oil sands, but the thing is, however, that western Canada historically burns down in frequent large fires. The ecosystems here are quite adapted to recolonizing denuded areas, if given the opportunity. And I think all these claims of toxic downstream effects in water and air are probably quite exaggerated. I'm not saying everything's fine, but that's not the main issue to be concerned about.

The real problems with the oil sands are a bit different. They are:

- Of course, as everyone talks about, the carbon emissions,

- Related to this is all the natural gas from all over the rest of N America Alberta will have to suck up to drive the operations (to process the whole reserve would require more than N America's entire proven NG reserves!) As an alternative they can indeed burn some of the produced bitumen instead but then the EROEI goes even lower and the ultimate recoverable reserve drops from 315 b barrels to who knows what. It's using up N America's natural gas that I would argue should be put to much better uses than simply extending the SUV era, or alternatively, as they want to do, export our remaining reserves to Asia to make some corporate investors ridiculously wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

- Long term displacement of wildlife habitat. While boreal forests are good at growing back after devastating catastrophies, the problem is there's thousands of people moving in up there. While a grizzly bear can do just fine in a clearcut / denuded area, what he can't handle is roads and people everywhere. And do you honestly believe that when the oil sands activities are finished there (I thought we had centuries left?) that everyone's just going to pack up and Leave it to the Beavers? Not a chance. Of course what they'll eventually do is sell it all off for private farmland, which is one of the other things the Alberta government wants to do -- mow down its forests and sell them off for farms.

- The Harper government is going along with this gleefully, and last year they disgraced the country by slyly gutting our endangered species legislation, since their majority government status basically grants them dictatorial power to do whatever the hell they want. Endangered species are no longer protected; now it's "habitats" that have legal status for protection. On the surface this sounds more holistic but what it really does is allow for legal ambiguity to creep in. If the law says grizzly bears have to be protected (which would entail that the whole ecosystem would have to be conserved to some degree, being apex predators), and their populations were dropping dangerously, then it's pretty clear what the law says needs to be done -- they need to be protected somehow. If the wording instead calls for "grizzly bear habitat" to be protected, well what exactly does that mean? What about 10 acres of forest which some historical records show a few grizzly bears historically using for migration? It's bear habitat, right? It's protected in a park, right? So what are we whining about? We got 10 acres of grizzly bear habitat protected! The fact that it will basically never support another grizzly bear again is irrelevant as far as the law is concerned. If grizzles go extinct in Alberta you know what Harper will say -- he'll find some reason other than the real one. And the slimeball has gotten away with it.

- The oil sands contribute to overall economic and population growth. I don't think I need to tell anyone hear about what the long term ramifications are from growing an economy around an unsustainable boom and bust resource base, especially fossil fuels.

- Oil corrupts politics. Canada is no longer a nice innocent place striving to do the best for all. It's been bought out by big vested interests and it's becoming a petro state.

- If they ever do get that pipeline built to the west coast, spills are guaranteed.

to process the whole reserve would require more than N America's entire proven NG reserves!

Oilies vs Gassies. Let the fight begin!

The real enviro-problem with the oil sands extraction is the CO2 that goes into the air. Nature will recover what is lost on the ground.

Hi RockyMtnGuy,

Thank you for your criticism. I will look into it.


Comp Lex, I can't help but wonder where you are going with your effort. Not to discourage you (but maybe to save you a lot of work), I would again point out Jean Laherrère referenced by YvesT above. It is going to be hard to improve on that effort, especially as he understands the oil industry history forward and backward.

Just a thought.

I am not trying to improve on his work. I am trying to provide a dynamic, interactive "prediction" software suite specifically tailored towards "Average Joe". When you use my software you'll notice, for example, that I have implemented simple oil prices and gas prices prediction functionalities.
That people don't only see the charts, but also can interact with it and learn something from it is very important in my project. Any improvements made to Laherrère's work is just a side-effect of what my software can (and may) do.

OK, I gottcha.

... you can't draw a simple Hubbert curve for Canada.

Isn't that the problem with Peak Oil Theory? You really cannot draw a simple Hubbert curve for World Oil, since that is even more complex than Canada alone?

And, that as the 'easy oil' sources are depleted, oil becomes more expensive and extraction of tight oils, deep sea oils, and oil sands becomes profitable.

Of course, all of that means that everything dependent upon oil becomes much more expensive at the same time, and 'we' prefer not to think about that, so we read stories about oceans of oil, dreaming that this will drive cost of gas back to 50 cents a gallon.


I interpret RockyMtnGuy's criticism as a zooming issue. I get from his comment that the software can't zoom in deep enough in the context of regions in the world (world, continents, countries, provinces, basins, etc) and types of oil. That's something I can look at. In my opinion you can draw Hubbert Curves at all zoomlevels. Whether that is a good idea or not remains the question though, but we can always make comparisons between curves at different zoomlevels and check what the differences are.

I am also planning to implement different models and analyses of organisations. I can't say when that is done though.

The curve for the world as a whole is more likely to resemble a classic Hubble curve than the one for a particular region because the variations will average out over a larger number of oil fields.

The problem with the Canadian model is the size of the oil sands, which are vastly greater than Canada's conventional oil deposits. If you applied the model to only the conventional oil, it would look much like the classic Hubble curve. It is a right-skewed bell curve, but that's because of government policies which force companies to develop oil fields in a slower and more oil-conserving manner than they would like to do.

The US Hubble curve is very classic-appearing because it is the average of the production curves for a large number of oil fields developed by companies trying to produce them as fast as possible - complicated by the fact that Alaska oil came on production late and put a secondary peak on the curve. The current "shale oil" boom might well put a tertiary peak on the curve.

The problem with the Canadian model is the size of the oil sands, which are vastly greater than Canada's conventional oil deposits. If you applied the model to only the conventional oil, it would look much like the classic Hubble curve.

Isn't this true for the world as a whole, as well?

The Hubbert curve should work for world conventional oil, but the size of the world unconventional oil resources is larger than it's conventional resources, so the world should follow a similar trajectory. Hence, one would expect a very long tail, absent significant above-the-ground differences.

What production data are you plotting? For example, your data for Mexico is about 300 kb/d higher than the EIA's data for crude oil and lease condensate.

The source of the production data is BP Statistical Review of World Energy.


A research project for a U.S-based scientific and educational organization has found a large spike in the occurrence of a congenital illness among children born in Hawaii and the four U.S. Pacific Coast states after the Fukushima nuclear-reactor disaster of March 2011.

The incidence of hypothyroidism among children born in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii a week to four months subsequent to the post-tsunami meltdown in Japan was found to be, for that time period, up to 28-percent greater than 36 other U.S states during the same period the previous year.

30 Years of Rebuttals Debunk RPHP LLR Claims http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NucNews/message/13062

From Wikipedia:

"The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is a nuclear industry lobbying group in the United States."

In other words, not a credible source.

30 Years of Rebuttals Debunk

Saying the wrong thing for 30 years doesn't make it the truth - it just makes it wrong for 30 years.


qwxp rtzm 7345

Why not explain the shorthand with words, then explain what it has to do with the %age increase cited in the article posted?

VS pulling up something from a decade ago and claiming it applies.

Apples and Oranges Stewart. The RPHP, (Radiation and Public Health Project), study of LLR Claims, (Low Lever Radiation), was a study of low level radiation within 100 miles of nuclear reactors. The link Eric posted, which you replied to, was about a nuclear disaster, a meltdown of nuclear reactors with no containment!

Goodness man, your reply to an article should have some relation to the article you are replying to.

Ron P.

And what will be "interesting" is if the numbers revert to the norm in a couple of years as, in theory, no new radioactive iodine is being produced.

Thanks Eric. This is the sort of thing I keep accumulating.

After reading the article I started to follow the references. Ain't the Internet grand? I took an interest in the third reference, just after those indicating the development of the blood tests to detect CH (Congenital Hypothyroidism). It's from the Journal of Molecular Genetics and Metabolism. Seems like a credible source.

The article is entitled Increase in congenital hypothyroidism in New York State and in the United States. I need to dig into it a bit deeper, of course, but a quick glance at the data (it's nicely charted) indicates the prevalence of CH has been increasing for some time now:

The authors of your sited article show a statistical correlation between Fukushima and an increase in CH in certain Western States. They acknowledge the overall growth trend in CH but identify this as a spike.

I'll follow some more references and provide a bit of a deeper analysis when I get home tonight, if I can.

Did some initial follow up. Best summary comes from the original paper itself, IMO:

In addition, there are technical changes that may be made to data in this report, such as using a period greater than just 2010 as a baseline; including data on CH cases after 2011; and conversion of trends in cases to rates when official numbers of 2010-2011 live births by state and month become available. Review of CH changes in states with the highest exposures other than the Pacific/West Coast, which may include adjoining western states, can also be considered.

The authors consider their conclusions preliminary. I'll see if I can manage to follow these authors going forward to see what additional conclusions they might reach.

There are a number of indicators, such as a very high I-131 readings in rain, in Boise, ID, and Jacksonville, FL, following Fukushima, but no indication in the report of elevated CH rates in those areas, and while the authors indicate the entire U.S. was affected by the fallout in a fair number of sites (31) the average CH incidence actually decreased, and they use these states as their "control" (quotes theirs).

Well, guess I'll just have to wait a bit for more on this.

claim that using nuclear energy to create electricity instead of burning coal has resulted in preventing approximately 1.84 million deaths.

Or one could use solar power directly in PV, hot water or passive heat gain instead and avoid both.

Perhaps now that Mr. Hansen is retiring from NASA he can spend time explaining how beneficial the radioactive material from fission plant failures is good for the people and the planet.

The planet doesn't care about radioactive/material waste. That'll be 'man' who cares or doesn't

Assuming the figures are correct, on a deaths basis, if good is less deaths... then nuclear is good
(though of course a few young deaths may be considered less good than more older deaths)

Clearly your suggestion of neither is better. (Though to an extent it was technology powered by coal, then oil that led to the science that could develop some of the newer greener sources such as PV)

It's all a muddle. Best try and move forward given where we are?

Assuming the figures are correct, on a deaths basis, if good is less deaths... then nuclear is good

Well now hold up here. The deaths are not being held to the same criteria.

Where are the calculations for the shortened lives of fission power when normalized for the years and kWH produced?

Coal has been used for a far longer time and produced far more watts so it will result in more shortened lifespans, not to mention some of that use was under less safety standards then existed later on for the timeframe that fission has been in operation. Older deathrates with no OSHA should get an adjustment no?

Mr. Hansen has a Carbon Axe to grind - and he's attempting to grind it with a claim of deathrate while chanting the false mantra of 'clean safe too cheap to meter - nuclear power'.

Eric, do you have some good references on the deathrate of fission products from civilian nuclear power I can add to my stash? Also, may I assume you think AGW is largely overblown, or would that overstate your position?

Edit: On the civilian nuclear number, looking for numbers that go beyond the Wikipedia article, o'course ;)

Eric, do you have some good references on the deathrate of fission products from civilian nuclear power I can add to my stash?

"good" all depends on your POV. Any sources I use are in my posting history.

Also, may I assume you think AGW is largely overblown, or would that overstate your position?

And, again, here my posting history covers my position.

But no, you may not make such an ass/u/me-tion. Perhaps others will answer your question as I'd like to think my position is obvious based on my posting history.

No worries. In some past responses to one or two of my posts I thought you may have a leaning in that direction, but I'll go look em up. Thanks.

Maybe it is not deaths we should watch, but rather disfigurements.


"It's all a muddle."

Not true. Fossil fuels and nuclear produce wastes when producing power. These wastes are extremely hazardous. Nuclear produces a smaller volume of waste that ideally is fully contained, but which is very hazardous and complex to contain. If problems arise, there is a potential for large-scale disaster despite the relative small volume of waste. On the other hand, if running properly, very few people are exposed to any danger. We don't know what to do with the waste, but due to the small volume and decent job we've done containing it, rarely does it cause serious problems. But the "rarely" is very, very serious. Generally few direct deaths are recorded, but large populations are moved from their land which reverts back to wilderness, unfit for human habitation for generations. Indirect deaths are harder to measure because the country with the longest reacord is no longer one country (now it's the Ukraine and Belarus) and the countries involved have a long history of secrecy and coverups. Nuclear proponents also frequently reject the same statistical evidence for indirect deaths that they trumpet for proving fossil fuel deaths.

Fossil fuels externalize a great deal of their waste (though scrubbers and such have helped change that somewhat, the carbon waste in the form of CO2 is universally externalized). These wastes are hazardous but require more exposure than with nuclear material in order to be deadly. Unfortunately, since there are a LOT of coal power plants, and since a tremendous amount of waste is externalized, it adds up very quickly. On top of this, transport fuels also produce toxins and fossil-fueled transport is the norm. Tremendous amounts of particulates, carbon, NOX, ozone, mercury, etc., enter the atmosphere yearly. Indirect deaths are better understood, and most figures on deaths due to fossil fuels are generally based on statistical methods.

Solar and wind have some impacts - solar can take up a lot of otherwise pristine land if not built on roofs or brownfield land, wind similarly requires a lot of area to make a big difference with the added problem of killing birds. The manufacture of solar is technically complex, but no more than nuclear. Neither of them is "on demand", so both require back-up, storage, or adjusting use to fit patterns of energy generation. Both are more expensive than burning coal and roughtly on par with nuclear per unit capacity, but as they operate at a smaller percent of capacity than nuclear they come out more expensive. On top of this, solar can and often is built on the consumer scale, which leads to existing utitilites losing money - which would be nice if it meant they jumped into solar, but so far this hasn't happened. Only one country in the world has really gone very seriously for solar as a percent of total power (Germany), and they are located in one of the worst places for solar in the world.

All of the world is run by power-hungry people (leaders like CEOs, presidents, and prime ministers) and society is dog-eat-dog where everyone scrambles for money and power. Coal is the nastiest but cheapest energy source. Who wants to have a flat or dropping economy? Would you trade power or convenience for clean energy? The answer for most countries and people is "no". Future generations will have to worry about themselves. Coal still rules.

All good points. On the issue of the externalities you refer to, many of you are aware of my Austro-Libertarian tendencies. Kind of got a chuckle out of this one:

Sierra Club plans to Sue Railroad, Coal Companies Over Coal Dust Pollution in Northwest

At the railroad berm that divides Horsethief Lake from the Columbia River, you can stick your hand between the rocks and come up with fistfuls of crumbly coal-black pebbles and dust.

For the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, such spots are Exhibit A in their case against coal export from Northwest ports.

I'm reasonably sure not much will come of it, for the reasons you mentioned in your last paragraph, but it's an example of the sort of thing we Austro-Libertarians would advocate in terms of externalities. Sue the bastards! LOL. Like that's really gonna work.

So far as the statistics go, yeah, I don't know I have much faith in any of the estimates, for anything related to the death numbers sited, by Hansen or anyone else. The Wikipedia article I sited upthread is a great example. What are the numbers for Chernobyl? Well, if you believe the World Health Organization it's around 4,000. Greenpeace thinks around 985,000. One of them must be wrong.

In re: why I keep looking at the radiation numbers, it's because I've got a sneakin' hunch we've managed to seriously overreact to the issue of low level radiation. And it's not necessarily that I'm an just an advocate of nuclear power, though I do think it could play a role in certain circumstances. Being on TOD for a while now, Ghung, yourself, and others have managed to convince me renewables will be able to do the job. I ain't going anywhere anytime soon (I hope), so I'll just watch and wait. Might even put a panel or two on my abode this summer.

My concern with the possibility we may be overreacting is the effects on those devastated by Chernobyl and Fukushima. They had to leave their ancestral homelands. If the stuff is really as dangerous as I've been lead to believe, well, it is what it is. But if those folks could return to their homes after a period of time and be reasonably safe, it seems a tragedy, and a huge waste of resources, to force them to remain away.

I honestly don't know if my hunch is right or not. So I just keep digging. It's all academic, really. If there's a large scale nuclear accident, the area will be evacuated and largely abandoned. Doesn't much matter what I think.

And lastly, you've raised the issue that stands between us and a renewable future. Not only is it a fairly complex technology, but it's also expensive. Though, again, the Austro-Libertarian in me thinks if we did away with all energy subsidies, and held the big boys (and girls, though I really think most of these problems have been caused by us guys ;) to task for their externalities, the costs of renewables would be much more competitive.

Just some random thoughts, as always.

"Being on TOD for a while now, Ghung, yourself, and others have managed to convince me renewables will be able to do the job."

This very much depends on how you define "the job",, what our collective expectations are. The bar has been set very high, and in many ways we're trapped in current levels of production/consumption. Getting out of this trap may require the economic/cultural equivalent of gnawing off a limb or two ;-/

This very much depends on how you define "the job"

Absolutely. Given all the variables I haven't got a clue how the job might pan out, and we may end up gnawing off limbs. Who knows. I tend to think the costs of fossil fuels will drive us towards an electric, rail-oriented infrastructure. I mentioned this a DB or two ago, following up to some of Alan's posts.

I keep thinking all of this is going to be moot, given AGW, but never hurts to admit I might be wrong about that too, and it might not be as bad as I think it's gonna be. If it ain't, well, cool, on to the issue of population and food resources.

Or maybe it's the other way around. I'm not sure which of the impending threats are going to slap us upside the head first. With our luck they'll all happen at once, and it'll be bon voyage Deano.

It has been mentioned, noted and commented upon endlessly on TOD. The driving force behind all of the mechanisms of doom is population.

And, most of the major religions seem to encourage it. Certainly the HRCC does, in expressed terms. Having many children is described in the Holy Books as a "Blessing." Especially sons.

So long as there are insufficient heretics to detract from that meme, we will remain in crisis mode. We have a "new" Pope now; any bets on what direction he takes his Church?

It seems to me that unless and until it becomes a religious proposition, continued release of CO2, continued exploitation of resources, and continued denegration of the value of human life (my view is that excessive numbers demote the value of individuals) will not end, will not moderate, and will create a crisis sufficient in scope to alter, if not destroy, civilization.

Best wishes for successful heresy.


No issue with the population being the foundation of the problem. Imprecise language on my part. Question I was trying to think out was what would bite us first (given the population problem). At first I thought it would be another financial crisis, and I still think that's a good candidate. Then I thought PO, but lately I'm thinking AGW just because of how quickly things are happening. I think PO is going to really start to bite around 2030 or so, but that's just a guess. I think Darwinian (Ron) thinks sooner, and really I can't argue with that too much, but I think no later than 2030 before we're really up a creek on that aspect.

Unfortunately I think population can, and will, just continue to grow, and until we start to really see some hard limits that start to really off people on a large scale, I don't see that slowing down in a serious fashion. I'm pegging that about mid century. Again, just guesses and conjectures.

Although it would be nice if it became a religious mandate, I'm of the opinion that biology trumps even religion. My experience is people have kids first, and ask questions later. Always. Kid will have no resources? Have a kid. Kid will have no future? Have a kid. Can't afford the kid? Have the kid. It's the ultimate Prime Directive.

I feel quite fortunate. I married a women who, like myself, just didn't feel the tug of the Prime Directive as much as most. We have consciously chosen to not have children, and I am still extremely satisfied with that decision.

Having said all that, I think there may be some ways to get through the coming bottleneck, so I still explore those. I'd like to have a nice second half of my life, and I'd like my familiy and friends, who do have kids, to have a future. It's gonna be a tricky business at the very best, and probably going to end in disaster, but what the heck, I think it's still worth thinking about how we might cope.

What is the stat? I've forgotten now, but I think it's 99% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct. So the odds are 99 to 1 against us. The default option is failure. We'll probably follow the default path, but so long as there's that 1% we'll keep on thinking how to avoid it.

I think both PO and CC are hitting now. But they are both in early stages. I think PO is going to hit earlier and harder. I think the current world-wide economic slow-down is largely related to the fact that oil prices went from around $20/barrel in 2000 to around $100/barrel now. If it merely went up at the rate of inflation, it would be in the $30s/barrel. That is a big hit on transportation expenses. And transport expenses are in your commute but also in your food, everything physical you buy, mining, etc.

Climate change has caused some natural disasters but there would have been many natural disasters as is so you can only blame it for the difference above a baseline. I don't think the economic effects have been nearly as big as PO.

But on the bright side . . . perhaps PO is a blessing to a degree. If the economic situation remains difficult then people are less likely to have children. And if we can stabilize the population that is good for reducing activity causing climate change and stretches out the oil supply.

We have a "new" Pope now; any bets on what direction he takes his Church?

The "Church" and its positions would have to matter to a whole lotta people.

If they are 'supposed to matter to everyone in a community, why can the typical church in the typical community hold less than 5% of that community in its chairs for a Sunday service?

This new pope is doing things his own way with how he presents himself to the world, but that may be the only power he actually has - to not show up in red shoes. (and kudos to him on his behaviour)

It is fine that he does things his own way; if the differences are merely cosmetic, though, it doesn't really matter.

In my lifetime I have seen Pius XII (1939-1958) (died of hic-ups IIRC) John XXIII (1958-1963) (really did change things) Paul VI (1963-1978) (chaotic times) John Paul I (1978) (what was with this one?) John Paul II (1978-2005) (many call him J2P2...) Benedict XVI (2005-2013) and now the new guy. Liked John the most; J2P2 was okay, and he did reach out. Having said that, none of them addressed reality. They are blinded by their own position, and their history. Change is very frightening in the Church; the need has to be blindingly obvious. My view is that this is the case and we still have unmarried clergy*, proscription of birth control, and a very strange attitude about chastity. Apparently, though everyone else can see that they have created the obvious sanctuary for closeted homosexuals who have a strong spriritual calling, as well as, apparently, a harbour for perverts and others at the opposite end of the spectrum from "chaste."

Unless and until this Church changes its position on birth control and married clergy it will become more and more marginal and less effective in leading its people.


*Strangely, we do have married clergy in the Roman Church, but few realize it. The Armenian rite allows married priests; an unusual group who are loyal to Rome and yet are in most other aspects are Orthodox. One of my good friends was a Jesuit priest in the Armenian rite. Had a Skete up in Oregon. Interesting person, one of the smartest I have ever known.


Several of the smaller Rites of the Roman Catholic Church allow married priests. Plus married Anglican priests that convert, and those that were secretly ordained in Communist nations (except Poland I think) - they allowed them to be married.

Best Hopes for More,


Being on TOD for a while now, Ghung, yourself, and others have managed to convince me renewables will be able to do the job.

Well, I don't think you were reading any of my posts when you came to that conclusion. However I do agree, renewables will definitely do the job... after the crash of course... and the population of the earth drops back to somewhere between .5 and 1 billion people.

Ron P.

Ron: Are we being overly optimistic that if drawback goes beyond carrying capacity to any large extent it could then recover? My worry is (as always) the St. Matthew's Island reindeer effect. Number overshot so far that when drawback occurred it stopped at zero.

Zero is not a good place for a population remnant.


No, I do not believe the human population will go to zero. Humans are too dispersed. We occupy every habitual niche on earth. No matter how bad it gets, there will be survivors. However I may be a little overly optimistic in thinking that there will be half a billion survivors. It may be far less than that.

Ron P.

I hope you are correct. After all, consider what the "Toba Catastrophe Theory" postulates.

According to the genetic bottleneck theory, between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, human populations sharply decreased to 3,000-10,000 surviving individuals.[26][27] It is supported by genetic evidence suggesting that today's humans are descended from a very small population of between 1,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs that existed about 70,000 years ago.[28]


There are questions as to whether that was the real cause for the bottleneck, but the genenetic data supports that something happend ca. 50,000 to 60,000 ya. And what we are doing to the climate could be worse than what Ma Nature did then. We'll see. (Well, I won't and you won't, in all likelihood, but some homo saps might).


Hydrogen sulfide bubbling out of an anoxic ocean would kill every species on Earth except a few microbes. 1000 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere might be enough to trigger it.

My thinking also. And not only will it be death, but a stinkingdeath too...

Stinking, but painless. A woman I knew lost her husband to hydrogen sulfide while doing salvage work. It induces a deep coma very, very quickly.

There have been many events of global warming in the past, far hotter than it is expected to get this time. Palm trees grew near the poles. None of these periods triggered any large scale mass extinction. There were perhaps small die-offs in tropical areas.

Hydrogen sulfide episodes have happened in the past but noting triggered any mass die-off except in small parts of the ocean near the release. There is just not enough hydrogen sulfide to do that. And there is no reason to believe it would happen everywhere at the same time.

NO, there is no danger of hydrogen sulfide killing all life on earth.

Ron P.

None of these periods triggered any large scale mass extinction

I think the jury is still out on that one


Warming has caused mass extinction in the past.

Which is not the same as killing all life on earth.

Not exactly. The end Permian mass extinction was not caused by global warming. The events that caused the mass extinction also caused global warming. The greatest volcanism ever, the Siberian Traps, dumped massive amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere causing first a global winter, then as that faded into what was likely the greatest global warming ever.

There is also some speculation that the volcanism could have been caused by a meteor strike but that has not been proven.

Ron P.

That's still just speculation. Many doubt volcanism would be enough to have such a huge effect on global temperatures.

Many doubt volcanism would be enough to have such a huge effect on global temperatures.

Many also doubt mankind could impact the climate systems of the planet in any meaningful way. It is difficult to say affirmatively one way or another, whether or not the doubters are correct. However, consider the extend of volcanic activity, especially the Siberian Traps:

The massive eruptive event which formed the traps, one of the largest known volcanic events of the last 500 million years of Earth's geological history, continued for a million years and spanned the Permian–Triassic boundary, about 251 to 250 million years ago.

A single eruption, lasting a million years? That's a lot of gas spewing out! And, in contrast, consider the recent Mount Pinatubo's short eruption on June 15, 1991.

The effects of the eruption were felt worldwide. It ejected roughly 10,000,000,000 tonnes (1.1×1010 short tons) or 10 km3 (2.4 cu mi) of magma, and 20,000,000 t (22,000,000 short tons) SO2, bringing vast quantities of minerals and metals to the surface environment. It injected large amounts of aerosol into the stratosphere – more than any eruption since that of Krakatoa in 1883. Over the following months, the aerosols formed a global layer of sulfuric acid haze. Global temperatures dropped by about 0.5 °C (0.9 °F), and ozone depletion temporarily increased substantially.[7]


Much to think about, at least.


Many also doubt mankind could impact the climate systems of the planet in any meaningful way.

Yeah, but I'm talking about scientists who actually, you know, did research on it.

There's a theory that the volcanic eruptions set massive coal beds on fire, and that it was the CO2 released by burning coal, not the eruptions themselves, that was so devastating. There is a lot of evidence that too much CO2 was a big part of the problem (in the patterns of extinction).

Really? From your own link:

The mass extinction at the end of the Permian Era about 250 million years ago was the greatest die-off in Earth's history. The cataclysm killed as much as 95 percent of the planet's species. One key factor behind this disaster was probably catastrophic volcanic activity in what is now Siberia that spewed out as much as 2.7 million square miles (7 million square kilometers) of lava, an area nearly as large as Australia. These eruptions might have released gases that damaged Earth's protective ozone layer.

2.7 million square miles of lava is a lot of lava. And it covered an area as large as Australia. There are many who attribute the extinction to multiple causes. And your link did not imply that this was speculation, but probably a key factor. Also, global warming itself requires a cause. Global warming just does not happen willy nilly, it must be caused. The cause was very likely the volcanism.

Ron P.

It's one theory, but there are many others.

It may have been several events occurring around the same time. It seemed to proceed in stages. A long, slow decline, then a sudden spike that may have been linked to a megadisaster - vulcanism, meteor strike, sudden release of methane hydrates from the sea floor, climate change that resulted in changing sea levels and changing circulation patterns.

They know a lot about what happened, but why it happened is still debated.

The Deccan Traps also are speculated to have been caused by a meteor strike, and the vulcanism lasted about 30,000 years. In both cases, the impact crater can be found approximately on the "other side of the earth." Deccan was about 65 mya, in allignment with the end of the age of dinosaurs. It is thought that it may have contributed to same, and I suppose may have been caused by the strike off Yucatan.

Considering the sort of events we are talking about, I suppose our CO2 release is relatively minor. It may have major impact eventually, but we cannot say that yet.


I recently saw a documentary of TV that showed that at the time of the meteor strike, the area of the Deccan Traps was exactly on the other side of the world from the strike. India was below the equator then, headed north at a couple of centimeters per year.

Anyway the documentary speculated that the surface waves, I forget what they are called, all met at that exact spot at the same time, causing a major disruption in the earth's cruse.

Ron P.

What is the mechanism that would make this a threat?


A fast drop in the population would be a serious problem for the nuclear reactors. They require a stable supply line for both replacement parts and electricity. Shutting down a reactor and bringing it to a "safe" state requires almost 20 years of constant vigil. If we are unable to maintain the reactors then they will meltdown and spread radiation everywhere contaminating even the deep oceans.

Too fast a drop off in the population will likely result in a radioactive wasteland from which there would be very few safe places and and in most cases no way to determine the safety of a given area until it was too late.

I'm reasonably sure not much will come of it, for the reasons you mentioned in your last paragraph, but it's an example of the sort of thing we Austro-Libertarians would advocate in terms of externalities. Sue the bastards! LOL. Like that's really gonna work.

If you admit that the view you advocate completely fails to work then why do you advocate it? Or is that ultimate goal . . . create a system intended to fail because you really don't give a crap about the problem, you just want to look like you care because that is more politically acceptable. That seems to be real goal of such views.

No, I think it could work. I've advocated for it in past DBs. I've put a fair degree of effort into it. The fact that it seems unlikely at this point doesn't really discourage me that much, though I admit to having enough of a self-deprecating sense of humor to admit I'm pretty much tilting at windmills at this point. It still seems worth the effort. But of course if I'm truly delusional it would still seem worth the effort, eh?

In conversations here, early on with Nick, occasionally with yourself (though I really get the impression you think I'm a Koch Bros style Libertarian, when I believe my posts have all indicated otherwise. Mebbe I'm wrong there), and once with wiseindian, I've raised these ideas. Others have commented on my ideas as well.

From a practical point of view it'd be hard to implement, but I really don't feel it's because the ideas are bad or incapable of being implemented. It's because the existing, entrenched power interests would really be opposed to the ideas, and they've got all the money, after all. The reason they do, I feel, is best illuminated by Murray Rothbard, my favorite Libertarian historian and philospher. Black-Dog was reading his seminal History of Money and Banking in the United States a few DBs ago. Doesn't mean he agrees with any of it, but the point is having the discussion about it. I have those conversations with friends and family too. I think they're worth having.

Now to get down to brass tacks, to implement a private property-based, free market capitalism of the type envisioned by Rothbard et al it'd be necessary to separate commerce from state, on a level similar to how Jefferson advocated for our current separation of church and state. After much thought, and in the light of Citizens United, I concluded this would require a constitutional amendment here.

Not likely, I know, but not impossible, and it doesn't negate the usefulness of the discussion. The current systems we use to address our problems get badly gummed up because of the influence of commerce in state, I feel. While regulations can, and sometimes do work, the influence of a commercial interest in a particular regulation can, because of it's influence in the apparatus of the state, frequently nullify or otherwise negate the regulation.

Yeah, it ain't likely we'd get a system where the commercial interests could not go crying to their bought and paid representatives to shield them from angery property owners who have been aggrieved by some ridiculously destructive action taken by said commercial interest. Where the ticked off property owner could take the interest to court and have some reasonable chance of forcing the commercial interest to cease and desist, and pay strict damages.

It's not likely, but it could happen, and I still think it's worth talking about. So what if it never actually occurs? It's worth the discussion.

I've only covered a few of the elements of Austro-Libertarian thought here, of course. Be happy to go into further detail if you like. I don't think it's at all unworkable, or doomed to failure. Do I think it'd be up against tremendous odds? Sure. But rigid and powerful structures have fallen before.

P.S. I'm quietly hoping the Sierra Club suit has at least some success, btw.

"a private property-based, free market capitalism" based system doesn't work because wealth is not created, it is consumed. That's the problem with libertarians -- they believe that if they're just left to their own devices, free of taxes and regulation, then the invisible hand of the market will direct them in virtuous ways to "produce" wealth which will then be spent in the market and in doing so will enrich overall society in the most efficient way possible. But that ain't how the world works -- wealth is not produced; it is taken from the natural world, and then transformed.

The other problem is that in a true "free" market (I've never actually seen a specific definition of what this term means -- if someone could direct me to one I'd be grateful) there is no mechanism to prevent those private entities from concentrating and taking over that "free" market to make it not free anymore. The USA tried this free market approach in the past and it led to a private banking cartel taking over the country in 1913, enslaving us ever since, and managing to convince the right wing types that it's all the government's fault. Well, the government is now owned by a small collection of very wealthy private individuals in control of those banks.

And assuming that a whole gang of lawyers is going to be able to manage to efficiently internalize via lawsuits all the unaccounted-for externalities that a free market would create ....??? Come on. Just look at the legal system.


I've got to head back to work now (lunch is over) but I will respond to you. Very briefly, Rothbard lays out the path to the bankster takeover in 1913 in the work I cited. It's a free PDF download if you have any interest.

Gotta go. Will reply tho.

My view of "free market" would be where anyone is free to start a business. I certainly don't see "free market" as meaning an absence of government regulation. Regulation is needed if markets are evolving away from being free so there are examples of governments breaking up monopolies and cartels. Unfortunately, the more common situation is where corporations successfully lobby for laws that make it more difficult for competitors to enter the market, or effectively gain control of the government agency that is supposed to be regulating them.

Our capitalist system, despite it's flaws, has provided us with a higher standard of living than any other form of society. Just compare the quality and quantity of goods/services available to us with what people in Russia and other east block countries had when they were under communist rule.

Now that we are encountering resource shortages and have a standard of living that cannot realistically be maintained, I don't think we can depend as much on the free market to supply everything we need. Government needs to take a greater role in redirecting spending towards things that will be of the greatest value to us in the long run. Unfortunately, this requires having politicians with vision and we don't appear to have many of those at the moment.

Our capitalist system, despite it's flaws, has provided us with a higher standard of living than any other form of society.
We are slipping behind. We are no longer number one. The ones ahead of us are less free market than us. And if you take average wellness stats, such as life -expectancies, we are really quite far down that list. Picking some strawman, like Russia, which tried the opposite political extreme for seventy years is a strawman argument. In fact, I'd say Russia under Putin is a real wildwest style capitalist economy. He who acquires power can bully everyone else.

Yes, most western nations are slipping behind but Russia is doing well only because of the income they get from exporting oil, gas and other natural resources. They are still not producing very much in the form of inexpensive, good quality domestic goods though they can produce good quality military equipment.

Western countries that are dependent on imports of oil and gas are generally the ones that are suffering. It's a huge drag on your economy to have $100 per barrel leaving the country. Those that export oil and gas (Canada and Norway) are doing much better.

"My view of "free market" would be where anyone is free to start a business. I certainly don't see "free market" as meaning an absence of government regulation."

I would agree. I think the idea of free markets has taken on some sort of mystical status in many circles these days as a knee jerk reaction to the extreme market manipulation we see from the Fed. But the original intent of "free" markets was simply as a way to stimulate people to go out there and contribute to society and to provide an efficient way of price discovery, balancing supply with demand. The original markets were quite regulated in order to achieve these goals. Somehow these ideas have been taken to the extreme and have morphed into a quasi-religion today.

a true "free" market (I've never actually seen a specific definition of what this term means -- if someone could direct me to one I'd be grateful)
Some would say you can find something close to that example in Somalia.

a true "free" market (I've never actually seen a specific definition of what this term means -- if someone could direct me to one I'd be grateful)

I think the best example of a truly free market is biological evolution. And with a completely unguided system, it has managed to create an amazing diversity of life and even intelligence. However, the process is amazingly brutal. It's main technique is death before reproductive stage for the laggards. And even if you accept countless suffering and death, it still produces ecosystems that periodically suffer massive collapse when things fall out of balance.

I think that totally "free market" economic system would work largely the same. Huge amounts of suffering and periodic collapse.

I also agree. Many who put forth the biological justification for free markets, arguing that we should attempt to emulate some Darwinian competition process, miss the point that organisms use whatever means they have available to acquire resources and raise progeny. Wild animal populations are limited in the amount of resources they can acquire by their lack of tools and lack of logical intelligence, both of which we possess to a large degree. However, using human ingenuity and tools, 7 billion people all going for it uncontrolled hogwild, maximizing their own self interests, would destroy the planet real fast.

And really, natural animal populations don't truly operate under free markets either. All populations have some kind of rules for social behaviour that must be followed. If not, then the animal gets ostracised. Just because we have codified our laws and regulations into an official legal system doesn't make it any different. Ritualized male fighting is one example, with opponents only fighting in certain ways so as not to gore and kill their opponents.

You can't separate money and state without going back to a tribal society. It hasn't worked in 7000 years of civilization and will not work now. Once men accumulate enough money to take care of their needs for the rest of their life, they go ahead and accumulate even more. After a point it's no longer about pleasures of life, it's to gain political power.

The separation of state and Church has worked because the Church has largely become obsolete in modern life while the opposite is true for money.

I disagree. Commerce and state can be separated. Commerce could function just fine without a state, or more properly with a minimal state, and I think it would actually function quite well, and with fewer externalities.

The question upthread, concerning the definition of a free market is, to me at any rate, a fairly simple and straightforward one. A free market is simply uncoerced individuals engaging in commerce. They're doing business because they voluntarily wish to do business. Each side hopes to gain something of benefit by negotiation, discussion, and engagement.

The key, of course, is uncoerced. If one party is involved against their will, or is affected by factors that limit their free will, the engagement is no longer free, nor is the market. How can people be coerced? Lots of ways, but one of the key ways is via money itself. If money is the purview of the institution in society that has been designated to possess coercive power, freedom becomes a thing of the past. The institution in society which is designated coercive power is the state.

If the state can allocate money in any way it so chooses, it can coerce any number of players who would otherwise be engaged in cooperative endeavors. At this point those seeking power seek the state, rather than the market. Why engage with people if you can force them to do your will? It doesn't have to be overt force, just control. I've obtained power through the state issued money, and I have friends in the corn industry. I arrange for this industry to be subsidized, at the expense of those I do not know, and do not care about, who are engaged in organic farming of tomatoes and lettuce.

The free market is no longer free. If I am a consumer of food stuffs, my choice between corn and organic tomatoes is now skewed. I have been affected by an unseen, but none the less very real, form of coercion.

Answer: separate commerce and state. You can engage any way you like with others in the market, and they can engage with you, but you do not get coercive power. You have to work things out, not run to Uncle Sam for a protective measure or a special consideration.

Now, add the concept of property, which is possessed by those in the market. Private property. If the minimal government has as a fundamental value protection of private property, you cannot violate someone else's property, and they cannot violate yours. So any good or service they wish to sell you has to be created in such a fashion that it does not violate property rights.

The market players will negotiate, and innovate, and engage at that level. They know they can't just pollute at random, because that property belongs to someone, and the minimal state could be used by the property owner to avail themselves of restitution. You drive innovation in clean technologies from the get go.

The key, of course, is money. The market should be allowed to determine what money is. Civilization engaged in commerce well before the development of central banks and reserve money. The markets themselves determined what was money, and used it, or changed it, as they saw fit. The problems arose when state players asserted the right to control money, and certain market players saw the potential for benefit in this nice arrangement. Not benefit for the market, benefit for themselves, and at the direct expense of the market. It was a way to escape the market, and it's mandate for negotiation and engagement.

Separate commerce from state and use the minimal state to adjudicate market and property disputes, and you empower the greatest possible number of people to engage in cooperative behavior. Protect property and you encourage sustainable processes and environments.

Combine commerce and state and you will destroy both.

This is of course an oversimplification, but it's an introduction to the type of libertarian thinking I find appealing. As Noam Chomsky has said, the definition of libertarian here in the United States is entirely different from the meaning of that term in most other parts of the world. Here it means almost exactly the opposite of what it means elsewhere. The above discussion is one of the type of libertarian though Chomsky is referring to. He himself has said he is a libertarian, but in the current sense of the term as I'm using it here.

Now, off to work at a small business where I have voluntarily offered my services and the proprietor has voluntarily chosen to employ me ;)

The separation of money and state is an appropriate meme for the current day and age - lets start with campaign finance - eg anyone who gathers enough signatures to run gets a fixed fund of federal money, then the court of public opinion can hash it out - let the difference be not in the money a candidate can attract from the wealthy, but the ideas proposed.

Yes, no matter how you slice it, the death/disease toll of nuclear is very badly understood. I tend to think nuclear is a bridge too far, a technology that is too fussy for everyday use. Medical and scientific uses, sure, but for everyday power... Well, as long as nothing goes wrong, at least you don't have the massive externalized waste of fossil fuel energy. But things can go wrong, even if it rarely happens. I was much more positive about nuclear before Fukushima.

As for Fukushima - I don't really know much about the Chernobyl area, but one of Fukushima prefecture's main industries is farming and dairy. Oh wait, one of Fukushima prefecture's main industries WAS farming and dairy. Even if you let people move back in, what are they going to do? They can't farm. They can't fish. Any other industry has moved out due to the exclusion zone. So it really has messed things up in a very real way. Those of us, like myself, who live in cities can easily miss the value of farmland, but you really can't live without it.

Perhaps the risks are overstated, but I would avoid Fukushima produce, and I think most people feel the same way. Which means the value of that land is gone no matter what the "real" risks may or may not be. This affects all the farmers in the province, even those outside of the exclusion zone. So you end up with people fleeing even from "unaffected" areas, like people with children leaving Fukushima city which is considered unaffected, and farmers losing their livelihood despite being outside of the affected area.

The real issue for me is whether it is reasonably possible for hot particles emitted from the plant to be incorporated into food produced in the region. I don't know the numbers at the moment, I suspect the radiation numbers are much better than many are led to believe. That is neither here nor there though if there is risk of hot particle ingestion, for that is what you really need to fear.
I have no concern about living in an area with a high background radiation level - there is good epedemiological work out there that lets me know its not an issue I need worry about. But a dust particle released by a cracked fuel assembly constitutes a very serious hazard.

By the way, coal emits the majority of the radioactive particles in our environment.http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/1997/fs163-97/FS-163-97.html

I get the basic idea of the hot particles. Intuitively they should be dangerous. They're hot, they're radioactive. They should cause damage, be it long term or short term. Anything ingesting such a particle, worse yet many of these particles, ought to be toast, one way or another.

I initially went into my research on Chernobyl a few years ago thinking hey, easy to show this sort of damage. Easy to demonstrate how nasty this stuff is, and the debate would be done. In my pursuit of alternatives to fossil fuels, we could check nuclear off the list in short order.

So I started, first, to look at statistics. Should be lots of people that contracted cancer, and the correlation between the fallout and the cancer rates should be bordering on causality. Slam dunk.

I was really quite surprised by the mish mash of statistics on the effects of the fallout. As mentioned above, some studies indicated massive effects, others indicated minimal effects. The swing was just absolutely huge. 4,000 deaths, or 1,000,0000 deaths? You'd think standard statistical techniques would come up with something a bit more consistent. It was, and is, baffling.

Okay, fine, the stats ain't gonna be much help here. What about the after effects themselves? Lots of mutated critters, or mebbe a huge, desert-like environment. Maybe a few roaches or other hardy, primitive forms. Again, should be a slam dunk.

Then I ran across Radioactive Wolves. What the hell? This place is a nature preserve! This can't be right! It just can't! All those critters are ingesting all kinds of nasties, some of them really bad nasties.

And that's what got me started looking into radioactivity and nuclear again. Don't get me wrong here. I'm still inclined to think renewables are the way to go. Now it's an academic pursuit of validation of my new perspective on nuclear, and the larger question I mentioned, whether it is moral or practical to forbid the people of Fukushima or Chernobyl to return to their lands.

If the fear of radioactivity is just that, fear, and tolerance for these particles is much more robust than thought, we're doing a great disservice to the people who have been impacted. Their produce is not toxic, their environment is not deadly, they're lives are not wasted, they are not, or should not be, social pariahs, as some are, I understand, in Japan.

We've got it all backwards, and a great many people, who have already suffered tremendously, are suffering even more because of ignorance, if the animals and ecosystem in Chernobyl are any indication at all.

Now perhaps humans are, in some fashion, more sensitive to this radiation. So I keep looking into the literature on it. The literature on this sort of thing is, again, mostly statistical analysis. Few direct studies have been done, for obvious reason. But still, better to err on the side of caution. Mebbe humans are especially susceptible in some special way, in some way that all these other living systems are not.

Like I said, I think renewables will be the key to going off fossil fuels. But are we making a huge mistake where the victims of Chernobyl and Fukushima are concerned?

But are we making a huge mistake where the victims of Chernobyl and Fukushima are concerned?

I think so. But that's just me, and what my ability to distinguish good and bad science tells me. Both sorts of science are plentiful - unfortunately it often requires an education in mathematics to tell the difference, and a desire to determine what the assumptions are(of both the work and the reader).

There's radiation and then there's radiation. Many very different things - an energetic proton vs an electron vs what is essentially very energetic light, etc etc.

The forced evacuation of Fukushima homes and hospitals appears to have lead to casualties - ironic

So while the was no major public exposure, let alone deaths from radiation, there were reportedly 761 victims of “disaster-related death”, especially old people uprooted from homes and hospital because of forced evacuation and other nuclear-related measures. The psychological trauma of evacuation was a bigger health risk for most than any likely exposure from early return to homes, according to some local authorities.*

* eg Dr Shunichi Yamashita, VP Fukushima Medical University.


There were no deaths from radiation among the workers either.

wind similarly requires a lot of area to make a big difference with the added problem of killing birds.

Those problems are tiny, relative to the problems of other energy sources, or the impacts of, say, cats...

Anxiety about Retirement—For Aging Nuclear Power Plants

... a wave of nuclear power station retirements may be on the horizon. The average age of the 104 nukes in the United States is 34 years—only a few years short of and approaching their design life of 40 years. Almost 30 U.S. commercial and research reactors already have started decommissioning.

The article describes why decommissioning is a long, complex, costly process, with $400 million regarded as the bargain basement price tag for cleaning up a single reactor. It includes an informative sidebar, "Anatomy of a Decommissioning," describing why decommissioning is a big-ticket item, with special technologies and personnel needed for a safe retirement. Indeed, the coming wave of retirements likely will foster emergence of a new industry devoted to decommissioning.

Accident at Entergy's Arkansas Nuclear One kills worker

Terry Young, an Entergy spokesman, said in an interview Monday afternoon that seven of the eight people who were hospitalized after the accident have been released. He declined to identify the worker who died during the accident. Dricks said he could not identify the workers who were injured or the deceased member of staff.

Young said Entergy's onsite personnel, and other employees brought to the site, have been conducting walk downs "trying to understand the scope of the damage." He said "one of the areas under investigation" is why Unit 1's turbine lift device failed during the movement of its main turbine generator stator, which the company said weighs about 500 tons.

... The falling stator damaged water lines and electrical equipment, which caused 1,065-MW Unit 2 at the site, which had been operating at full power, to shutdown automatically, Dricks said.

Unit-2 suffered damage to its switchgear, Entergy told the NRC. "At this time, the full extent of structural damage on Unit 1 is not known," Entergy said.

Damage to a breaker caused a loss of all offsite power for Unit 1, Entergy said in the NRC report. Emergency diesel generators at the site are supplying power to Unit 1. Power to Unit 2 is being supplied by diesel generators and offsite power, Entergy said in the statement.

The area surrounding ANO was placed at emergency Level 4 because of the potential for local impact, but no call to evacuate was issued by the Arkansas Department of Health. Some evacuation signs were posted throughout the community today showing emergency evacuation routes.

Arkansas Nuclear One Industrial Accident

I put this in the wrong place.....

If you look at energy as a risk decision, and present it that way, it may help folks who are on the fence. I think that's what's about to happen on a grand, well-funded scale. Most won't know who to trust.

"energy as a risk decision" and all of our choices are bad.

Hello Dr. Falcon:

Perhaps the only way to win is to not play the game.

How about a nice game of chess.


How about a nice game of chess.

Sure! But let's understand the stakes first...

Put one barrel of oil on the first square, put two barrels of oil on the second square, put four barrels of oil on the third square, put eight barrels of oil on the fourth square and keep doubling the number of barrels of oil until you reach the 64th square. How many barrels of oil do you have?!

Would you like another chess board?

A dangerous game. The first guy who proposed that was some Chinese philosopher. The emperor offered to let him name his price for some great invention (I'm thinking it might have been chess). I want one grain of rice...one the first square, two on the second ... Once the emperor figured out what it meant, he had him hauled off an executed. So you had better figure out if your mark has a sense of humor, or if in the name of saving face .....!

A dangerous game.

Indeed it is, and yet it clearly underscores the fundamental problem with our growth based economies.

BTW, there are some versions of the story that have the inventor of the game becoming king.

Neither yeast nor humans seem to have a very firm grasp on the implications of the exponential function.

"US Oil and Gas Co's Are Adding $1.5 Billion/Day To Our Economy" That's the message from this video. So if the cost of producing oil and NG go up, that's a good thing because then we are "adding" that much more to our economy!

Indeed. This is why GDP is a terrible economic indicator. If there is a natural disaster that requires rebuilding, oil prices go up, or a divorce lawyer makes a bundle from a messy divorce, these are all great economic growth according the GDP.

If GDP , goes up, it means money is moving. If it is moving, it is being taxed, usually multiple times. Sales tax, income tax, excise tax, more spending and repeat. So GDP is a terrible indicator for the people, it is a good indicator for the government's income. The gov's interests diverge from what is best here.

28,000 rivers wiped off the map of China

More than half of the rivers previously thought to exist in China appear to be missing, according to the 800,000 surveyors who compiled the first national water census, leaving Beijing fumbling to explain the cause.

Only 22,909 rivers covering an area of 100sq km were located by surveyors, compared with the more than 50,000 in the 1990s, a three-year study by the Ministry of Water Resources and the National Bureau of Statistics found.

Officials blame the apparent loss on climate change, arguing that it has caused waterways to vanish, and on mistakes by earlier cartographers. But environmental experts say the disappearance of the rivers is a real and direct manifestation of headlong, ill-conceived development, where projects are often imposed without public consultation.

Ecological Collapse anybody ?

"and on mistakes by earlier cartographers"

They really think they just made up rivers & streams?

28,000 mistakes. That's 'some' mistake.

Aren't there regular photographs from orbit that could be reviewed to see exactly what happened. And, as importantly, when and why it occurred.

Just my observation.

I mean, check out Google Earth!


An important cause is groundwater use by cities. The ground water level drops, and less water seeps from the ground into rivers, and more water seeps from rivers into the ground.

100 sq km?
22909 rivers in 100 sq km is called a lake!
Even 100 km sq is too small.

"22909 rivers in 100 sq km is called a lake!"

I think they mean a river with a watershed of at least 100 sq km. At least that would make sense. Given that most of China is pretty dry, it wouldn't take much of a change to dry up a river.

Actually the Reese River in Nevada comes to mind. It joins the Humboldt at Battle Mountain having run north from the Toiyabes. You can also add the Quinn River and the Kings River in Humboldt county. There is usually no water in either one, just a strip of less-brown landscape.

Re: Thousands Die Due to Climate Change Policies and Carbon Taxes, (etc)

More propaganda from the "Friends of Science" in Canada. This is just another of the denialist camp's efforts to spread disinformation and outright lies. The PR blurb refers to an earlier post in the UK tabloid, the Mail, which presents cherry picked data to claim there's been no warming for 16 years. This is the same old scam, since they begin their data with the warm year of 1998, thus the appearance of little warming since. There's no mention of the record heat in the US last summer or the steady decline of sea-ice over the Arctic these past 16 years. Just another example of the old saying: A lie repeated often enough becomes truth...

E. Swanson

So the Friends of Science want North Americans to stop carbon taxes and relax climate change policies? With the exception of British Columbia, I'm not aware of any other jurisdiction in North America with a carbon tax. And who in North America has climate change policies? Certainly not Canada! Denialism -- alive and well in the Great White North!

Well, there is a bill in the US Senate, S.332 by Sanders and Boxer, which would add a tax to carbon...

E. Swanson

Sadly, our planning could be described as faith-based.

Its not a tax but California has Cap&Trade (permit prices were roughly $10/ton).

The Foes of Science is indeed an embarrassment to Canadians who are insulted by its codswollop.

BC has had a carbon tax for six years now and it hasn't resulted in "thousands of deaths" and has had no discernible negative effect on the economy, which is really quite diversified and healthy. However, there is also no effect on emissions so far, and I'd say that's because the rate isn't high enough, and it doesn't directly fund intiatives that would have the greatest reduction potential. Other deserved criticism about the carbon tax focuses on the linked Pacific Carbon Trust organization which was recently slammed by the BC auditor general for taking money from government-funded schools and hospitals via the tax on their heating fuel and giving it to private companies to provide previously-planned energy efficiency retrofits. In essence, free public money diverted to businesses who may have donated to the ruling party. There is an election slated in six weeks and that party is expected to be defeated by a wide margin. The opposition party has promised, if elected, to use carbon tax revenue directly to fund low emission projects.

The tax was also implemented to be "revenue neutral" with accompanying corporate and income tax reductions. My beef with that at the time was how does one then finance measures with proven records, like new mass transit infrastructure married to transit-oriented land use planning, R&D into BC's vast potential for clean tidal and new base energy sources like geothermal (to build on its huge existing hydro electric capacity), a new industrial policy to power participating heavy industry with this low carbon energy, and provide grants for homeowner conservation retrofits without a direct revenue source, especially when the government is carrying a significant debt?

One of our greatest hopes, in my view, is at the municipal level. The city of Vancouver (not the Metro) has reduced its city-wide GHG emissions by 17 percent over the last 15 years or so mearly by zoning for higher densities in its inner city, and has seen a 12+ percent decrease in traffic to/from/within the downtown penninsula while concurrently doubling the population there (more people walk and take transit now). This has freed up some road space for dedicated bicycle lanes. The city also has an efficient grid-based street network which makes the articulated electric trolley bus service very efficient, and is punctuated by still-inadequate but important high-frequency regional rapid transit service.

Vancouver has become famous in planning circles for killing two freeways in the early 70s, but that was only the first step. Only now has climate change pushed further positive urbanism measures to the forefront in this city. The suburbs have yet to catch up, but perhaps being land-constrained by mountains, ocean and protected agricultural land will they now establish better planning decision making practices given the demand of demographics.

Canadian professor and author Thomas Homer Dixon published this damning editorial in the New York Times recently stating that if Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, that may help Canada to take a hard look at its own federal government which is quickly turning this country into a petro state with a singular focus on the exploitation of petroleum resources, and the resulting susceptibility to boom-bust economic cycles and the decrease in R&D and technological innovation. One of the best books I've ever read was Homer Dixon's 'The Upside of Down' which examines resiliency in civilization.


On the other hand, they're all celebrating how our population will jump by millions over the coming decades. That whole, "Jobs, Growth, Prosperity" thing Harper seems to worship. I guess we're all out to make a quick buck from real estate speculation. There is a minimum amount of energy required to sustain a person in the modern world so as long as we remain blindly addicted to growth, in whatever form, then no amount of densely packing us together into sardine cans is going to make any difference in the long run, it may simply make it worse.

Sardine cans?

I live in a detached ~180 m2 inner city house on one of four small lots subdivided from two in 1910. It's very comfortable, and I still have a front and back yard to maintain (my back sure knows it!). Moreover, my neighbourhood has most amenities and services we need within a 10-minute walk, or a short bus/car/bike ride. And very few buildings exceed four storeys. Work, though, is a 14 km drive away, right at the edge of my commuting tolerance.

Vancouver has also recently initiated some progressive (in western North America) projects like laneway housing, which essentially permits single-family large lots to acquire an additional residence over the garage or as a separate backyard cottage, as well as a basement suite with a separate entry. Some planners call this "gentle densification" and it works well in accommodating growing and aging families in their own neighbourhoods as well as population increase in lower density areas outside of the inner city.

Council has also recently gotten over its aversion to row houses that aren't subject to strata title and therein designated an area of single-family detached dwellings in east Vancouver as the first area to be zoned for freehold attached single-family houses. This is nothing new in Brooklyn or Montreal which borrowed this venacular from Europe.

Just saying, Null, that sardine cans aren't for everyone.

But it still takes a minimum amount of energy to cook dinner, heat a bedroom, have a shower, charge an electric toothbrush, buy some groceries, watch TV, run a computer, power an electric bus, power Skytrain. Smaller houses / apartments save on heating bills and lights but that's about it. As long as we continually grow our population, no matter how small our sardine cans become or how many alleyway houses we build, our energy demand will concurrently grow along with that population, unless energy becomes so expensive that people are forced to curtail use to an extent that exceeds population growth. Either way, growth is constrained by energy, and therefore Vancouver's "Growing City" sustainability blather is doomed to fail eventually. Eventually we will run out out of Site C's to flood, and we import a large portion of our electricity from Alberta coal plants anyways.

Edit: A few years ago I filled in a submission to Vancouver's sustainability initiative (can't remember what it was exactly called), which was done to solicit ideas from the public on how Vancouver could become more sustainable. I pointed out that it doesn't matter how much we reduce our per capita impact, if the city is dependent upon, and addicted to, perpetual exponential population and real estate growth, it is by definition not sustainable. The response I got was, "Interesting point but that's not within our scope". (Rolls eyes).

Null Hypothesis:
You are absolutely correct.

The Anglo world has gone insane and is going to pay a very heavy price for it. The UK is a small crowded island, Canada is mostly northern tundra and Australia is a big desert. Why those countries admit so many immigrants from around the world is beyond me.

With the United States, at least we have a history of large immigration and have large amounts of habitable land. I still think the U.S. is growing far too much, but at least those arguments can be made. And I think it's had a harmful effect on the thinking of the rest of the Anglosphere.

This is something to ponder over: the Anglos are scared of stasis. Because they have run out of room for expansion and can no longer rule over the world, they instead invite the world to their countries to rule over them.

It's basically an obsession over growth, expansion, and building empires. It's a pathology.

"...mostly northern tundra ..." is a relative term, Enery Blues, when you live in the second largest nation in area. Perhaps a third of the land is northern tundra / Arctic (which, incidently has been inhabited for millennia by people through an amazing feat of adaptation), a third is in boreal forest, and a third is temperate. California contains the entire population of Canada, more or less, in an area about 1/5th of the temperate third (give or take). we have plenty of room, but that's couched in terms of learning to live lighter on the land.

For another perspective I once read a comment by an urbanist (sorry, I've forgotten who) that took Earth's seven billion people and placed them into one giant city based on the comfortable, predominantly low-rise density of London's Chelsea and discovered that the city was only about the size of Senegal in area. With more efficious agriculture (e.g. conservation tillage, high-yield varieties, multi-cropping, local gowing and transport, etc.), the elimination of GDP as a measure of economic performance and the acceptance of lower but less risky and more stable returns, and serious energy conservation, you'd need the equivalent of perhaps seven or eight Senegals to theoretically sustain the entire population. Hard core, human-scale urbanism (not fluffball green tokenism or corporate greenwash) can and should form an important part of the constellation of solutions, or at least help lower the pain threshold of adapting to a rollicking-evolving-to-steady-state world economy with dwindling resources and climate change.

It's the greed of the many and vast inefficient support systems that make the current world unsustainable, not necessarily the singular number of people.

From Wiki:

So if I do the math right, assuming there are 7bn people it would take about 44,000sq km, or about 1/4 of senegal at that density. Interesting visual!


It's the greed of the many and vast inefficient support systems that make the current world unsustainable, not necessarily the singular number of people.

No, it is physical resource limits and the capacity of the environment to absorb our waste stream. The placing of all the world's people into an area 1/4 the size of Senegal, is far from the full story. Each of those people consumes vast amounts of energy and resources plus they have an impact and an ecological footprint which currently surpasses the capacity of the world's ecosystem services to support them.

Here in Australia our honorable prime minister has finally revealed her true colors and said she's in favour of a "sizeable" immigration program. 230k last year apparently. Almost 1% of our population, with an overall growth of births+immigration of about 1.6%. You are right, this is very wrong.

Media here have waged a propaganda campaign to convince everyone this is right and necessary to avert the "aging population problem" and most people have bought into this. Never mind that even this sort of growth can't seriously delay demographic transition to an older population and in the long term only makes it worse. Everyone makes fun of Japan for their very slowly declining population, but I think they are actually in a better position than us.

It has to do with economists love of two things "capital" and "labor". Since Economics as a subject evolved in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, it's all they know and it's all they care about, that's why there is such a hue and cry about aging populations.

We are aging, we are aging, the world is coming to an end.

Yes, of course, Null, population increases and everything uses energy and there are the laws of thermodynamics and the current mayor of Vancouver has been called a green fluffball .... But dismissive, pessimistic generalities don't resolve or even temporarily stave off this challenge.

Whatever your political motives are, consider when 45% of a city's land base consists of asphalt, 71% of commuters move a single 85 kg human body in a 1,200 kg machine consuming orders of magnitude more energy than reasonably required, most buildings are terribly inefficient energy consumers, a huge chunk of our local agricultural land is in hobby farms instead of food production, current agricultural practices are very inefficient, and there's way too much red meat in our diets, there is most definitely a helluva lot of room for improvement. At least until the seas rise in earnest, then we on the coast will have to learn to live and love on the ever hotter slopes.

You could call me an optimist.

I'm not 100% sure but I believe Alberta has a carbon levy for heavy industrial emitters.

As an ex-Albertan (I moved out 34 years ago) I'd be very surprised if they have a carbon levy.

Of course, sniffing all the sour gas that drifted into suburban Calgary during my childhood may have affected my ability to absorb radical new information. They are the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn't have a sales tax, but it's painfully obvious with their planned deficit this year, despite recent stratospheric leaps in tar sands development, that they use their paltry royalty rates on oil to subsidize their operating budgets. They should bank it instead and raise taxes modestly into a more realistic and less artificial economic scenario.

Russia’s Lukoil says it will not drill in the Arctic

The vice president of Lukoil, Russia’s private oil company, second only in size to state-owned Rosneft, has said he “wouldn’t give a kopeck” toward Arctic oil exploration and development, according to comments he made to London’s Financial Times.

Lukoil Vice President Leonid Fedun told the paper that the risks associated with drilling the Arctic seabed are far too high, and that the profits would be outweighed by the hazards.

He argued instead that it was far cheaper for Lukoil to develop untapped land-based oil fields in Siberia. “You don’t have to build pipelines, water pipes, electricity, or bring workers,”.

This could also be environmentally alarming: According to a 2012 study by the Associated Press, land-based oil drilling operations in Russia spilled one percent of Russia’s annual 5 million ton production. But Lukoil was also commended as being the fastest oil company working in Russia to respond to spills

"But Lukoil was also commended as being the fastest oil company working in Russia to respond to spills"

I get the feeling there is not exactly a high bar to reach that.

China to Surpass U.S. as World’s Top Crude Importer, OPEC Says

You've just gotta love the quality of the reporting. This article (highlighted in Drumbeat above) says:

China is on course to overtake the U.S. as the world’s top crude importer by 2014.

2014, as in the future.

Two days ago Drumbeat's top article was:

How the US oil, gas boom could shake up global order

which said China already surpassed the US, and went on to make some remarkably easy-to-disprove statements about US production.

No wonder Americans are confused.

A WSJ article, and a comment by a reader:

Oil Exports Get Second Look
As Domestic Output Rises, Industry Weighs Push to Ease Ban Dating From '70s

A comment from a reader:

This concept needs further study. Why are we importing crude from hostile nations if we can produce enough for our needs? The whole idea stinks because I forsee higher prices at the pumps. Exporting crude could mean shortages of crude here at home. It would make more sense if we stop sending our dollars to Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations hostile to the US. Let's take care of our needs at home. Further, why are we importing crude from Canada if we have such an abundant supply here at home?

The WSJ article isn't as dumb as it sounds. It says,

America is producing more and more of its light, sweet crude, but a majority of U.S. refineries are set up to handle the heavy oil from Latin America and elsewhere that has more sulfur and is harder to process than light, sweet crude.>

This is particularly an issue in the central part of the country, and the Gulf coast.

The problem is why light oil is being shipped by rail to the coasts, where there is light oil refinery capacity available.

But then there is the level of understanding in the general population, as evidenced by the comment that I quoted.

I think the general misunderstanding is the assumption that oil found within the US is a "commons" to be used for the benefit of the nation/people. Where such a delusion comes from I have no idea, certainly not the history of the country. The oil belongs to the person or group that obtained the ownership of it, and is to be used for their benefit exclusively. This is the core value upon which our society is based.

That was so precisely written that I thought you were being sarcastic.

Sadly, no. This is a good part of the reason we never seem to be good at protecting the commons. The laws of our nation were built around property, and protecting people's rights to take and exploit the riches of nature.

People read, "US Oil production tops imports," and stories that state that we produce more than we import, or will do so within a year or two, and believe that we are therefore ready to begin exporting petroleum. What they fail to recognize is that whilst our production COULD top our imports, it is oil use that matters. Simplifying numbers, if we use 15 MB/d, and produce 8 MB/d we have to import 7 MB/d in order to take care of our oil habit. At which point we produce more than we import. Production, though, would have to exceed use (15 MB/d) in order for the US to become an oil exporter.

Somehow, MSN items seem to imply something else.

Best hopes for joining OPEC.


Somehow, MSN items seem to imply something else.

Yes, they imply that production=consumption and nobody wants to see otherwise.

A trip down memory lane . . . with hypothetical headline and news story:

US Net Oil Imports Drop by Half in 9 Years, US on track to become net oil exporter

US crude + condensate production is up by almost one million barrels per day, which, combined with lower consumption, has caused US net oil imports to fall by half in 9 years. Many experts believe that it is not if, but when, that the US once again becomes a net oil exporter.

Of course, these data points pertain to the 1977 to 1985 time frame.

US C+C production hit a peak of 9.6 mbpd (million barrels per day) in 1970, and dropped to 8.1 mbpd in 1976 (EIA). Primarily because of Alaskan production coming on line, US C+C production rebounded, hitting 9.0 mbpd in 1985.  Production then fell to 5.0 mbpd in 2008 (the decline was somewhat accelerated because of the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes).  Production rebounded to 6.5 mbpd in 2012 (and to about 7.1 mbpd currently).

However, I suspect, and the EIA appears to concur, that the current rebound in US C+C production is likely to fall short of the 9.0 mbpd secondary peak that we saw in 1985, resulting in a tertiary peak in US C+C production.  In other words, we are probably seeing a continuing  "Undulatling Decline" in US C+C production.

Here's the problem. Our supply base consists of discrete sources of oil like Alaska's North Slope production:

If the rate of increase in oil production from the North Slope did not increase forever, why would the rate of increase in production from the finite sum of discrete producing regions like the North Slope increase forever?

Because not only is the glass always half full, but it always continues to increase in volume. You just gotta BELIEVE!

That's absurd!

You got it! But that is how some people think.

Based on recent data, US C+C production is about 7.1 mbpd and C+C refinery inputs are about 14.6 mbpd.   In round numbers, we would have to double US C+C production in order to have approximately zero net crude oil imports.

But given the recurring "Peak Oil is Dead" theme in the media, the current discussion is about when, not if, that the US becomes a net oil exporter.  Following is a link to, and excerpt from, an item in the Fort Worth, Texas paper:

Energy executive predicts U.S. will export crude oil

Scott Sheffield has a quick word of advice to observers of the continuing oil boom in West Texas' venerable Permian Basin: Get used to the idea of exporting U.S. crude oil.

"We'll be exporting crude at some time. We'll have to," Sheffield, CEO of Irving-based Pioneer Natural Resources, told an audience at Hart Energy's DUG Permian Basin conference at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The annual meeting traditionally spotlighted the hometown Barnett Shale and other natural gas plays in the country. But with growing attention paid to the state's crude oil production, this year's gathering focused on West Texas.

The EUR for the current production on Alaska's North Slope are about 21 Gb (with Prudhoe Bay accounting for the majority of the reserves).  In order to double US C+C production, we would need the equivalent of about four North Slopes (and over 80 GB in proven reserves), and of course, contrary to conventional wisdom, depletion marches on, requiring us to continue finding more North Slopes.  Also, we would have to offset the declines from existing wellbores.

Unfortunately, the fractured tight/shale plays in the Lower 48 have much higher decline rates that what we see in plays like the North Slope.  In my opinion, a reasonable expectation is that at least 90% of currently producing shale oil wells will be plugged and abandoned or down to 10 bpd or less in 10 years.

I think mostly it'll be the latter. Stripper well operators will keep it going well below 10bpd. Only 100K wells will still produce a good fraction of 1Mbpd. :)

Does anyone have source material related to whether or not frac'd wells continue as 'stripper' wells, and if so for how long as compared to conventional wells. Thanks.


Not sure how accurate, but quite a long time.
"The decline is not linear, however, and most wells will eventually stabilize and continue to produce for 30 years or more, albeit at volumes much lower than those achieved in the first year of production."

The Wall Street Journal is way ahead of you--we apparently are already "energy independent" (headline for one of their fund manager interviews):

"Energy Independence Brings Bulls Back to Stock Market: a Wall Street Transcript Interview . . ."

What are they confused about ? ;-)

I wonder how the Saudi plans for solar energy to replace oil for daytime domestic consumption impacts the ELM?:

In a white paper released in February by the King Abdullah Centre for Atomic and Renewable Energy, the plans were specified: 41 gigawatts of solar energy out of an overall renewables target of 54GW that will also draw on geothermal, wind and waste-to-energy projects by 2032.

These are the beneficial effects of rising oil prices and Peak Oil - that even the Saudis will increasingly replace their own fossil fuel consumption with renewables.

How does 41 Gigawatts solar impact domestic oil consumption for Saudi Arabia? What percentage is it?

Also I wonder what can be done in Saudi Arabia via Green Transit and other means to REDUCE their energy consumption in the first place.

Westtexas have any ideas on this?

Data on oil burning for generation in KSA is hard to get. Apparently, 1.5 to 2 million b/day of crude & refined oil is burned in July & August, less in May, June & September. Annual average is 500,000+ b/day.

How much + to the 500,000 ?

Renewables are expected to absorb growth in electrical demand, but not much more than that AFAIK.

KSA is building some urban rail, but the star is Dubai. Two good Light Matro lines in operation and 5 ? more planned or under construction.

Best Hopes !


42 GW would yield maybe 300GWhours per day in the summer (good enough for back of the envelope work). What is the energy content of a barrel? The efficiency of an oil burning power plant is (say 40%), then you could figure out how much oil per day the solar could replace.

1,700kwh per barrel if you use www.google.com

I used 40 kWhrs/gal (raw thermal) on the last calculation I did which is somewhere around diesel/heavy fuel oil.

At 40% that makes 16 kWhr electric/gal. I think 300GWhr is a slight overshoot (but I'm having trouble finding decent irradiance figures), I'll estimate at 230 GWhr.

230,000,000,000 Whr/16,000 Whr/gal = 14,375,000 gal

14,375,000 gal/42 gal/bbl = 342,262 bbl/day

Well looking at http://www.sma.de/en/company/pv-electricity-produced-in-germany.html we can find on very good days, with an installed base of 33GW, 170 GWh is not out of the question in Germany.

I'm going to guess that's during the summer...because of the latitude of Germany it will receive more hours of direct sunlight in the summer than places near the equator (which don't really vary according to season).

The equatorial region will always be around 12 hours of sunlight...while at the poles it can vary from 0-24 hours of sunlight depending on the season. When you squish the bell-type curve into a box you get a different number - I went with an average of 5.5 hours for Saudi Arabia and usually use 4 hours for the Southeast US to low-ball.

But at 342,262 bbl/day that represents, at US$100/bbl, (not counting refining) $34,226,200/day. If the installed cost is $3/Watt they should recoup their investment in 3,681 days, or 10.09 years. I suspect by then that oil will be more than $100/bbl and their break-even time will be less. After that, for as long as it continues to produce (20+ more years?) is pure gravy. That's about $11.7 billion/year @ $100/bbl (1.8% GDP, $400 per capita yearly), or $23.4 billion/year @ $200/bbl

In Germany, a 1kW(p) of PV produces 1000 kWh per year.

In Saudi Arabia we can expect around 1800 kWh per year from the same panel.

The break even for elecetricity produced by burning oil is in SA around 65 USD per barrel:

1 kW PV gives you 1800 kWh electricity per year, with 2500 USD per kW and 10% costs per year you pay 7 cent per kWh.

1 barrel is around 1800 kWh thermal energy, with an optimistic efficiency of 50% of the power plant you get 900 kWh electricity.

Therefore, 900 kWh of electricity from oil have a value of 65 USD, I already have neglected the cost of the fossil power plant, so it would even be a lower break even price. Therefore, they burn at least 40 USD per barrel they use for the production of electricity in SA when crude could be sold for 100 USD.

"The break even for electricity produced by burning oil is in SA around 65 USD per barrel

I highly dislike numbers/statements like this because they hide important assumptions behind them - particularly the expected life of the PV system.

It matters if the system is expected to last 10, 20, or 50 years because the longer it lasts and the longer the components last the lower the actual value that would come back. It also matters how quickly versus what you're offsetting it makes its return. 3 years for breakeven and you can convince anyone to jump on it, 10 years is unfortunately a hard sell...and anything more than 20 fuggidaboudit.


The charts on here would suggest not a 1.8X increase over Germany but 2.2 to 2.4X...I've never liked the "kWhr/m2/year" figure. 2,300 kWhr/m2/yr would suggest 6.3 hours of full-sun equivalent compared to the 5.5 hours that I used - but it's also hot there which might decrease panel efficiency.

OK, you missed the point: I have taken a high price for PV (2500 USD) and also taken a very conservative number for the yield (only 1800 kWh/a), very high efficiency for the fossil power plant (50%), no capital costs for this plant, therefore, I can compensate for a high degradation of the PV system without any problem, i.e. I could very likely even beat the fossil system with a dirt cheap PV system (1300 USD/kW) that is scrapped after 10-12 years.

We're apparently both fans of understatement though I find it amusing/promising that you consider $2,500/kWp "high." My reaction has something to do with the way that people are always claiming that "solar costs XX cents/kWhr compared to X for coal." It's infuriating...because you don't know what the assumptions are behind it. Sometimes I expect that they're counting on it to only last ten years or that they're using mounting hardware made out of gold. Even if you wind up replacing an inverter every 20 years, the racking and wiring should be good for a century, and as long as quality has kept up then the panels are looking like they'll easily make a half-century or might even last a whole one barring tornadoes or fallen trees.

It also depends on whose hands it's in - the hucksters pushing continued fossil fuel use are usually looking at it from the utility side of things - wholesale pricing. Home purchasers look at it from the consumer side - retail pricing. When compared against wholesale coal power pricing then wholesale PV pricing doesn't look as good. When a homeowner looks at retail coal power price compared to wholesale PV pricing - things look much better.

Yes, compared to coal PV does not look good, however, we were talking about SA, which has no coal and is connected for NG and oil to the global market, therfore, we have to discuss the resulting opportunity costs.

Seems like a no-brainer. They should have a massive solar program going. Create jobs, generate cheap electricity, and increase the amount of oil available for export.

And with oil-based plants, I would hope they could ramp them up & down without too much trouble.
That has got to be a feature in demand for all modern power plant equipment now . . . the ability to modulate power as much as possible.

Such a program combined with a plan to divert water via the capture of condensed water from the temperature changes may work towards a more verdant environment.

But one would have to plan on re-greening the desert.

Here is the 2002 to 2011 Saudi ECI* chart, showing an extrapolation out to 2030:

Note that this extrapolation, in effect, assumes a slow increase in total petroleum liquids production and a continued rapid increase in consumption. A production decline + a decline in the rate of increase in consumption would produce a similar ECI extrapolation.

And Denmark is a case history of an oil exporting country that has done a very good job of cutting their internal oil consumption. Their 2004 to 2011 rate of change numbers (BP):

(P = Production, C = Consumption, NE = Net Exports.)

P: -7.9%/year

C: -1.0%/year

NE: -19.9%/year

ECI Ratio (P/C): -7.0%/year

Given an ongoing production decline in an oil exporting country, unless they cut their consumption at the same rate as the rate of decline in production, or at a faster rate, the net export decline will exceed the production decline rate, and the net export decline rate will accelerate with time.

In Denmark’s case, their 2004 to 2005 net export decline rate was 12.5%/year, while their 2004 to 2011 net export decline rate accelerated to 19.9%/year.

In simple percentage terms, a 43% decline in production from 2004 to 2011 resulted in a 75% decline in net exports, even as consumption fell by 6.5%.

*ECI = Export Capacity Index, ratio of total petroleum liquids production to liquids consumption

Global solar photovoltaic industry is likely now a net energy producer, researchers find (w/ video)

The construction of the photovoltaic power industry since 2000 has required an enormous amount of energy, mostly from fossil fuels.

Now, for the first time since the boom started, the electricity generated by all of the world's installed solar photovoltaic (PV) panels last year probably surpassed the amount of energy going into fabricating more modules, according to Michael Dale, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford's Global Climate & Energy Project (GCEP). With continued technological advances, the global PV industry is poised to pay off its debt of energy as early as 2015, and no later than 2020.

If current rapid growth rates persist, by 2020 about 10 percent of the world's electricity could be produced by PV systems. At today's energy payback rate, producing and installing the new PV modules would consume around 9 percent of global electricity. However, if the energy intensity of PV systems continues to drop at its current learning rate, then by 2020 less than 2 percent of global electricity will be needed to sustain growth of the industry.

Rising temperature difference between hemispheres could dramatically shift rainfall patterns in tropics

... Generally, rainfall patterns fall into bands at specific latitudes, such as the Intertropical Convergence Zone. The researchers say that a warmer northern hemisphere causes atmospheric overturning to weaken in the north and strengthen in the south, shifting rain bands northward.

The regions most affected by this shift are likely to be on the bands' north and south edges, Frierson said.

"It really is these borderline regions that will be most affected, which, not coincidentally, are some of the most vulnerable places: areas like the Sahel where rainfall is variable from year to year and the people tend to be dependent on subsistence agriculture," said Frierson, associate professor of atmospheric sciences. "We are making major climate changes to the planet and to expect that rainfall patterns would stay the same is very naïve."

I'm starting to think of adaptation, and I don't really see a way to adapt. Production is going to stop increasing, then going to start falling. That is just climate based, add in higher production costs through POD, things start getting a little tricky. However, it seems inescapable that food prices will continue to rise, because when it comes down to the nitty gritty, people want food more then they do oil.

The following article is interesting because of the insight it gives what is happening to crude oil (falling), as gas condensate production increases.

Russia March Oil Output Near Post-Soviet Record, CDU-TEK Says

Russia, the world’s biggest oil producer, boosted crude and gas condensate production 1.2 percent in March from a year earlier to 10.47 million barrels a day, close to a post-Soviet era record.
. . .
Gas condensate is helping to maintain President Vladimir Putin’s goal of output at more than 10 million barrels a day as crude production falls. Companies are drilling more wells in the mature west Siberian oil province to stem declines.

“Gas condensate production is the real driver behind the growth,” Alexander Nazarov, an oil and gas analyst at OAO Gazprombank in Moscow, said by phone today. “Crude oil output is falling and organic growth currently is impossible.”

Which Ron and I suspect is also true globally.

From the article...

Russia’s oil exports in March fell 0.6 percent from the previous month to 5.24 million barrels a day. Exports declined 0.5 percent from a year earlier.

"Which Ron and I suspect is also true globally."

Everything is blurring together at the moment, but back in a Drumbeat or such there was talk of whether "peak oil" would look like low or high API...and I don't recall it being mentioned that the answer seems to be "both."

Seem to be moving from a Dromedary to a Bactrian...going after Bitumen/kerogen and Natural Gas/condensates as the middle disappears.

Here is my summary to my standard response to the MSM theme that "Peak Oil is Dead."

In summary, Brent doubled from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011 and $112 in 2012. In response, globally, regarding liquids production, we saw:

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

(2)  Probably flat global crude oil production (less than 45 API gravity).

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

Not a bad effort considering how cold it is over there. That is actually a very interesting article. ELM, increased efforts EROEI, lower quality/energy density but still increasing production.

Interestingly enough, Russia's ECI ratio has been showing an "Undulating Decline" since 2007:

2007: 3.73
2008: 3.52
2009: 3.66
2010: 3.62
2011: 3.47

In a similar fashion, Iraq's net exports increased slightly from 2008 to 2011, but their ECI Ratio fell from 4.15 in 2008 to 3.42 in 2011, because the rapid increase in the rate of consumption exceeded the rate of increase in production. At this rate of decline in the ECI ratio, Iraq would approach an ECI ratio of 1.0, and thus zero net exports, around 2031.

And also in a similar fashion, ANE were up from 2002 to 2005, and then declined, but the GNE/CNI ratio fell from 2002 on (because the rate of increase in CNI exceeded the rate of increase in GNE from 2002 to 2005). In other words, the falling GNE/CNI ratio from 2002 to 2005 was forecasting future problems with the ANE supply.






GNE = Global Net Exports, the top 33 net exporters in 2005, BP + EIA data, total petroleum liquids
CNI = Chindia's (China + India's) Net Imports
ANE = GNE less CNI
ECI Ratio = Ratio of total petroleum liquids production to liquids consumption

Statoil CFO Says Norway Needs New Oil Find Every Other Year

OSLO--Norway needs to make a new giant oil and gas discovery every other year for the next decade to offset falling production, Statoil ASA's Chief Financial Officer Torgrim Reitan said Wednesday.

"We expect the production on the Norwegian shelf to go on pretty well until 2020 or 2025, and after that it will fall," Mr. Reitan told Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines of a parliament hearing on Norway's public financing needs up to 2060.

Norway's crude oil output has halved since 2000, although somewhat offset by higher gas output. Statoil expects the production fall to accelerate sometime after 2020.

"To illustrate the challenge, we need a discovery the size of Johan Sverdrup (Recoverable oil: 1,700-3,300 million barrels) every other year to offset that fall. This is the size of the challenge. We need to open more areas," Mr. Reitan said.

And given that Johan Svedrup was the largest Norwegian discovery since the 1980s (in 2010, I would not recommend backing the odds on making those discoveries every 2 years.

Insight: Russia's Bazhenov - A Long, Slow Shale Oil Revolution

Forty-five years after its accidental discovery deep under the swamps of West Siberia, the race is now on to develop the world's largest shale oil resource, Russia's Bazhenov. "Bazhenov is a huge formation. It covers half of western Siberia. I have seen maps that claim it is 22 times the size of the Bakken in North Dakota,"

... Russian producers have already reported 500 million metric tons (551.16 million tons), or 3.5 billion barrels, of recoverable crude oil reserves in Bazhenov to the Russian government.

The government now estimates that the wild black stone could yield 1-2 million barrels per day by the end of the decade.

Yet the full scale of its riches remains a mystery. Estimates range from a conservative three billion metric tons, or over 20 billion barrels, to as much as 143 billion metric tons, according to a survey of Russian research by oil consultants IHS Cera.

The upper estimate would mean an extraordinary one trillion barrels, nearly four times the size of Saudi Arabia's oil reserves or 30 years of world supply at current rates of consumption.

Russia's rediscovery of its shale resources is aimed more at offsetting declines in the fields that produce most of Russia's crude - the Soviet giants of West Siberia, like the Salym group fields where Bazhenov was discovered in 1968.

Output there is now declining at an average of about 2 percent a year.

... With lifting costs for a barrel of Bazhenov crude estimated at up to $40, the tax regime has been the main obstacle to its development

Of Russia's 26 billion metric tons of recoverable reserves, two-thirds or more are thought to be "tight", a share that is rising as Russia's easily tapped conventional reserves are depleted.

I have trouble determining whether they are talking about kerogen bearing deposits or shale oil. "wild black stone" has the ring of the former.

Also, a nice note from Russia:

"What is easy today was tight yesterday. What is tight today with technology and a good tax regime will be easy tomorrow."

So, the way to produce more oil is to reduce taxes... Shucks, sounds like a Texas Tea Party guy to me. In fact, if lower taxes means more oil, then with no taxes, by implication, there is infinite oil.

Who ever knew it was so easy?


Meet The Oil Shale Eighty Times Bigger Than The Bakken

It's like the Bakken or Marcellus shale. There are also some underlying Kerogen


... This unconventional assessment unit includes fractured Bazhenov siliceous shales, which are also source rocks for these reservoirs. The shales cover most of the basin, but their productivity has been demonstrated mainly in the Greater Salym area. In-place resources of oil are apparently very large, but the ability of the reservoir rocks to produce varies greatly and is poorly understood. There is much similarity between this unit and the Bakken play of the Williston basin.

Half of Western Siberia sounds like a very large area to be doing wildcat drilling. Especially when a 'hit' might be profitible for only 3-4 years, and there is no real expectation that drilling next door would be any better than somewhere 500 klicks away.

Hopefully they can identify productive areas before they bring in the rigs.

Does $40 / bbl sound low for frac'd oil recovery costs? Hereabouts (Eagle Ford region, and I guess Bakkan as well) we keep hearing that $80 is sort of the floor price for impacting demand to drill.


The $40/bbl is lifting cost. What's not included in the $40 cost is the taxes, leases and ancilliary costs.

Water is cheap. So are the leases (if you grease the right hand). Also, the Russian seem less picky about such (expensive) details like waste water disposal. Maybe that brings the price down.

Re: 'wild catting'

This area has been poked 100,000 times - every few kilometers - for 40 years. They know where the sweet spots are.

The Bazhenov is located in Western Siberia, and according to Oswals Clint, Sanford Bernstein’s lead international oil analyst, it “covers 2.3 million square kilometers or 570 million acres, which is the size of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico combined;”

570,000,000 acres poked 100,000 times = one poke per 5,700 acres.

So, about one hole per 5,700 acres? Although the article mentions that "A couple of test wells have been drilled in the region which operated at 400 bpd; the same as an average Bakken well." It also goes on to note that: "... during the summer the weather in Siberia warms and softens the ground enough to prevent drilling." With global warming, we might expect summers to be longer, and drilling season shorter.

Still, happy to hear that they may get up to 1 MB/d production by 2020 " ... if 300 rigs can be quickly deployed ... ." It would help to offset 10.5 mb/d depletion from existing mature oil fields (using a figure of < 2%/yr depletion rate). Between Bakkan and Bazhenov, we can let the good times roll!?


Forgot to add:


probably Forbes' source as well.


the Soviet giants of West Siberia, like the Salym group fields where Bazhenov was discovered in 1968.

Output there is now declining at an average of about 2 percent a year.

But... it is only 2 percent because they are doing the same thing every other country in the world is doing with their tired old giants, they have a massive infill drilling program. An article from 2009:

Russian Oil and Gas Industry Surprises Analysts

There are plenty of projects in Russia, both, new projects and existing brownfield projects. Russia is a very mature producer. If you exclude all the drilling activity taking place every year, then Russian organic decline in production is close to 19%. To compensate for that organic decline, Russia drills somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 wells every year.

By cutting their decline rate they have greatly increased their depletion rate. It is just a matter of time until it is time to pay the fiddler. When the water hits those new horizontal wells then the decline rate will be even greater than 19%. When that happens it will be all over.

Ron P.

Just for clarity, what does organic decline rates exactly mean? No new wells in existing fields? Thanks.

I have never seen that term, organic decline, used anywhere else in reference to an oil field. I think they simply mean natural decline. Natural decline would be what you see in other fields where infill drilling is either not used or perhaps not an option. The North Sea would be a good example, and Cantarell or perhaps Prudhoe Bay.

Ron P.

The Bazhenov is the source rock of the Siberian production. Some of the offers being floated on the market are existing producing fields from tight sands (but needing some TLC and fracking) and others are new prospects based on shale plays. The tax regime on the shale plays has recently been changed and dropped to effectively zero, to encourage early buy-in. Don't underestimate the significance of this as a long term player. It will get busy.

Chinese foreign fisheries catch 12 times more than reported, study shows

Chinese fishing boats catch about US$11.5 billion worth of fish from beyond their country's own waters each year – and most of it goes unreported, according to a new study led by fisheries scientists at the University of British Columbia.

The Drought Is Drying Up All Our Ethanol

In August, corn prices hit their highest level ever, driven mainly by the severe drought that crippled America's corn belt. By October, Pracht could see that he was spending more on corn than he could make with ethanol, and with no relief in sight, he began to have doubts about keeping the plant open.

"We knew we'd be wasting money," he says. So, he pulled the plug, shuttered the plant and layed off twenty employees until conditions improve

Pracht isn't alone: Over the last year, nearly 10 percent of the nation's ethanol plants have shut down. Annual corn yields came in almost a third lower than projected, according to the USDA, driving record-high corn prices that are likely to continue to rise into 2013, up to 19 percent higher than 2011-2012 averages.

Emissions Rules Put Alternative-Fuel Vehicles in a Bind
THE Environmental Protection Agency’s latest proposed tightening of limits on sulfur in gasoline, and its previous rules, will most likely have the perverse consequence of retarding the development of cars running on batteries, advanced biofuels or hydrogen — all promising but expensive technologies that have not become mass-market products.

This guy is either an idiot or a concern troll. The new EPA regulations are basically just taking California's current regulations and applying them nation-wide. You know, California . . . where the alternate-fuel vehicles have been far more successful than anywhere else in the country. I literally cannot drive to work without seeing many Leafs, Volts, Model S, and other alternate-fuel vehicles these days. The carpool lane is now being used heavily.

Saudi takes the long view on energy

The kingdom, which is losing potential revenues because of the high domestic consumption of fossil fuels, last year announced a revamp of its energy sector - which has sent the crisis-ridden solar industry flocking to the country.

In a white paper released in February by the King Abdullah Centre for Atomic and Renewable Energy, the plans were specified: 41 gigawatts of solar energy out of an overall renewables target of 54GW that will also draw on geothermal, wind and waste-to-energy projects by 2032.

And there it is. Confirmation that the Saudis are having a hard time increasing production and thus are switching to decreasing domestic consumption. When the Saudis are trying to conserve oil, you know the game has changed.

Wierd weather ... Flooding kills dozens in Argentina

One of the heaviest storms recorded moved through the province hitting both the capital, Buenos Aires, and the city of La Plata.

In La Plata, between 300mm (12in) and 400mm (16in) of rain fell in a matter of hours, leaving half the city submerged and residents stranded on rooftops

The city authorities said it was the heaviest April rainfall in a century.

I was in Buenos Aires two days ago.
I guess my departure was timely.

"The rains also flooded the country's largest refinery, causing a fire that took hours to put out. The La Plata refinery suspended operations as a result, and Argentina's YPF oil company said an emergency team was evaluating how to get it restarted.

... YPF said no injuries were caused by the refinery fire, which it blamed on "an extraordinary accumulation of rainwater and power outages in the entire refinery complex." The impact on Argentina's chronically short fuel supplies wasn't immediately clear."


A Econbrowser critical review of the almost daily "Peak Oil is Dead" stories:


Some happy news to share: our co-op, Salish Sea Trading, has just won the 2013 Sustainability Award from local paper Seattle Weekly! Excerpts:

For the cooperative, water represents a way to inject a new measure of sustainability into the food system. Its mission is to move goods by sail power, eliminating the need to burn fossil fuels.
Still, Pelish says sail transport will always be a small-scale effort: The cooperative is ultimately more interested in mobilizing people than produce. “The idea is not to become commander of the fleet,” she says. “The idea is to become more mainstream.”

Pelish compares moving goods by sail to other initiatives that have fundamentally changed the ways their participants understand and address transportation needs, such as Zipcar.

“It’s not socialistic, it’s realistic,” Pelish says. “We know we have to come up with a response to climate change. If I need to get something from Ballard to Bainbridge, why would I send a truck? Sure, sail will take an extra day, but it doesn’t pollute, and it’s something positive in this stretch of negativity.”

Strange the people think moving goods without burning FF means sail power. There are ways to utilize technologies and allow freight to be moved by solar and wind power, but never set a sail.

Disclaimer: I am a salt water sail enthusiast. Owning a 35-45 ft sloop or ketch is one of my life dreams. So, I do like sails. It is just unlikely that they are the best way to move freight.


You overlooked this framing: "Pelish compares moving goods by sail to other initiatives that have fundamentally changed the ways their participants understand and address transportation needs, such as Zipcar."

Sail power (with an electric engine) is one of the best ways for our bio-region and culture. And quite possibly Vermont (you can contribute to their Kickstarter effort if you'd like). And Michigan. We're quite lucky here that Seattle still has a historical memory of its Mosquito Fleet & is different enough in its green bubble so that sail can take root. No one's quitting their day jobs--we're planning for a loooong adoption time, and also little profit.

And yes, sailing is pure joy, poetry in motion. :-)

I understand what you're saying, but you're ignoring the entire history of civilization before 1900. Also, oceans. Sail is a great way to move freight, just development of freight sailing vessels has been stalled from a hundred years because coal and oil have been cheaper and faster.

Sail is absolutely the best way to move freight that goes over oceans outside of fossil fuels. You can't put a railroad across the Pacific. Shipping by water is also very efficient.

I expect sail container ships in the future. It may be decades, but I expect before I die that sail will come back. It has always worked, it still works, and it can minimize fuel costs which will continue to rise barring some extreme event (like finding out the earth has a chocolatey oil center and finding a cheap way to suck out the juices).

A modern container ship is very efficient, therefore, IMHO a good strating point for a discussion about the alternative to a sailing ship is a ship with IC and/or fuel cells that are powered with fuel generated by P2G from onshore wind power. Let's say you have to pay 400 USD per barrel but you can use a quite conventional container ship. The alternative is a relatively small sailing ship, at least one order of magnitude smaller, that has the same crew size of the container ship; the freigtvolume to man ratio of modern sailing ships built around 1910 is not impressive.
(I am a sailing fan, but see some limits :-))

The other day Ghung and I were discussing how falling utility consumption translates to lost revenue, which in turn spurs higher rates and fees. Case in point:

Water prices rising despite dip in home consumption
Halifax Water Commission proposing nearly 30 per cent rate hike over two years

Halifax Regional Water Commission is asking for a 30 per cent increase in water fees in the next two years, despite seeing a decrease in water consumption at the average home.

In June 2012, the average home used 192 cubic metres of water. That’s down from 2005, when the average was 256 cubic metres. In that time the average bill has increased by $163.88 annually.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2013/04/03/ns-water-cons...

And, as we know, many public utilities have chronically under-invested in their basic infrastructure in an effort to keep rates artificially low; those chickens are now coming home to roost.

Our two person household consumes about 40 m3 a year, and fixed service charges represent about 95 per cent of our total bill.


Yeah, Paul, Leanan and I were discussing how much inertia is built into our systems; how long we can depend on them to continue supporting our current civilizational requirements. Perhaps the question should be; "How much liability is built into our systems?" Having spent years crawling around our infrastructure, mainly utilities and communications, and later working to bring our maps and schematics of these systems into the digital age, I gained a sense of how much liability comes with taking these things for granted. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is pretty much the norm, here in the US. A lot of this stuff is really old, especially the stuff we put underground, and the costs of replacing these systems goes up with time.

Asme came out with their latest report last month:

Engineering Group Gives Nation A "D+ on Infrastructure"

March 19--America's infrastructure improved slightly over the past four years but still rates only a grade of D+ because of its age and insufficient investment, a national engineering group reported today.

The American Society of Civil Engineers graded 16 categories of infrastructure, and only one -- solid waste -- earned a grade as high as B-. Public transit, roads and schools were graded D. Bridges got a C+. The worst grades, D-, went to inland waterways and levees....

...Other category grades in the 2013 report: dams, D; drinking water, D; hazardous waste, D; wastewater, D; aviation, D; ports, C; rail, C+; public parks and recreation, C-; and energy, D+.

Seems we may be facing a perfect storm of falling revenues, rising costs, and needing to reinvest in most all of our systems, near term, while rising costs and falling incomes will be forcing conservation at the end-user level. The choice will be to either raise rates or live with declining services, or, like Detroit, encourage folks out of certain sectors and simply shut them down.

The "shovel ready" projects (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) in the US barely made a dent, dispite $billions being spent. Of course, this money is being spread pretty thin:

Water, sewage, environment, and public lands

Total: $18 billion[43]

$4.6 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers for environmental restoration, flood protection, hydropower, and navigation infrastructure projects
$4 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund wastewater treatment infrastructure improvements (EPA)
$2 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund drinking water infrastructure improvements (EPA)
$1.38 billion for rural drinking water and waste disposal projects
$1 billion to the Bureau of Reclamation for drinking water projects for rural or drought-likely areas
$750 million to the National Park Service
$650 million to the Forest Service
$600 million for hazardous waste cleanup at Superfund sites (EPA)
$515 million for wildfire prevention projects
$500 million for Bureau of Indian Affairs infrastructure projects
$340 million to the Natural Resources Conservation Service for watershed infrastructure projects
$320 million to the Bureau of Land Management
$300 million for reductions in emissions from diesel engines (EPA)
$300 million to improve Land Ports of Entry (GSA)
$280 million for National Wildlife Refuges and the National Fish Hatchery System
$220 million to the International Boundary and Water Commission to repair flood control systems along the Rio Grande
$200 million for cleanup of leaking Underground Storage Tanks (EPA)
$100 million for cleaning former industrial and commercial sites (Brownfields) (EPA)

This should be an indicator of the size of the hole we have in our complex system of 'necessary' infrastructure,, and the liabilities are increasing with time. I suppose it was my past experience with these things that helped form my determination to not rely on being connected to these systems, or vast complex systems in general. A period of economic contraction isn't the time to be playing catch up. Not sure what the rest of you will do;; keep writing those checks, I guess.

Interestingly, that infrastructure grade has actually improved since the last report. The result of state and federal "stimulus" programs, maybe?

From the link regarding the latest ASME report:

The overall grade was an uptick from the society's last report, in 2009, when it awarded the nation a D. The slight improvement was driven in part by public and private investment in railroads, ports and the energy grid, and by the short-term boost in public spending from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus program.

"You can say 'Yes, we got better' but D-plus isn't very good," said Andrew W. Herrmann of Mt. Lebanon, past president of the organization, in an interview Monday. "A D-plus is not what a country that's supposed to be No. 1 in the world wants."...

...The report estimated that $3.6 trillion needs to be spent by 2020 to upgrade all 16 categories of infrastructure, or $1.6 trillion more than what current funding levels provide.

According to the wiki link:

To respond to the late-2000s recession, the primary objective for ARRA was to save and create jobs almost immediately. Secondary objectives were to provide temporary relief programs for those most impacted by the recession and invest in infrastructure, education, health, and 'green' energy. The approximate cost of the economic stimulus package was estimated to be $787 billion at the time of passage, later revised to $831 billion between 2009 and 2019.[1] The Act included direct spending in infrastructure, education, health, and energy, federal tax incentives, and expansion of unemployment benefits and other social welfare provisions.

As I said, this money is being spread very thin.The US needs an "Infrastructure Recovery Act" of at least a trillion dollars just to do the needed maintenance on infrastructure, IMO. The choices seem clear: More debt; much higher rates for necessary services; or failing systems.

As Paul mentions, higher rates beget conservation (good, IMO) resulting in falling revenues (not so good for repairing/maintaining things), resulting in higher rates... I expect, at some point, populations will reach their MOL (minimum operating level) as far as consumption goes. A lot of pain involved however we slice or dice it. As we see in other parts of the world, populations often don't react well to the conundrum of rising costs and failing services.

The bills have been mounting for a long time.

It might not just be more spending...it might be less driving.

I do believe infrastructure is a serious issue, and I've brought it up repeatedly ever since I joined TOD. However...ASCE's members make their living designing and maintaining infrastructure. Asking them whether more infrastructure spending is needed is like asking the oil industry if more areas should be opened up to drilling. Rather than a downward spiral, their report cards are more a bumpy plateau. We're always on the edge of infrastructure disaster according to them.

Having done my own share of crawling around infrastructure (they have wooden water pipes under some older cities - I'm not kidding), I'm expecting more BAU: budget problems, cut spending, cut maintenance and inspection - boom! Big disaster. (Landslide, bridge collapse, flood, something like that.) Oops, increase spending, to heck with the budget.

Who knows how long they can keep this up, but it might be longer than you expect. As we saw in the Great Depression and more recently, building infrastructure is a favored tactic of a government trying to keep people employed. And if the economy goes bad, infrastructure use is likely to go down, too.

While there's a big push to privatize these systems, there may come a time when localities decide to take control on a more local level:

What is the Benefit of Privatizing Water?

[2010] Worldwide, private ownership of water utilities has been growing for a number of years. According to a 2004 editorial by Gary H. Wolff in the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management the number of people served by private water companies worldwide grew from 51 million in 1990 to nearly 300 million in 2002.

The reason for the most recent uptick trend is financial: in the current economic climate, municipalities across the country are strapped for cash and will, it seems, take any measure to shore up finances.

But is privatizing water good for the public?...

...In addition, Food and Water Watch says, financing is also more expensive for private companies, which are not eligible for tax-free bonds, and private water companies are usually less efficient at water delivery. And because there is no effective competition to provide water in a given area (private water utilities are essentially local monopolies) there is no market incentive to cut costs.

According to the Wall Street Journal article, Atlanta privatized its water service in the late 1990s, but had to retake control four years later because of poor water quality and cost overruns. And there was a public uproar in Illinois last year when the largest private water company, Illinois American Water Co., requested a 30 percent rate increase, which it said was needed for infrastructure improvements.

Since most of these sevices are critical, I expect that, at least locally, folks will find a way to muddle through, find solutions; but at what cost? Like increased oil prices, the price of maintaining basic services looms as another of 'a thousand cuts'. Its cumulative, even synergistic - "The beatings will continue until..." our complex systems undergo their inevitable process of entropic self-simplification.

Who needs infrastructure?

We should give trillions more to the big banks, so they can speculate on world markets. I'm sure that money will trickle down and they'll make us all rich and then we can buy big SUVs, so we won't need functioning roads. And to power those SUVs we should spend trillions on weapons of war so we can get every last drop of oil from the Middle East.

Having spent years crawling around our infrastructure, mainly utilities and communications, and later working to bring our maps and schematics of these systems into the digital age, I gained a sense of how much liability comes with taking these things for granted. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is pretty much the norm, here in the US. A lot of this stuff is really old, especially the stuff we put underground, and the costs of replacing these systems goes up with time.

At the Rural Electric Coop that I used to work at (>40,000 members, ~10,000 sq miles), we were updating our GIS to full online inquiry and in the process of doing the database cleanup needed to integrate several isolated databases and fold in the full GPS inventory that was done, I was amazed to find just how many 40-50 year old transformers we still had in service. Huge amount of rotting poles. Also it was revealing to find that all of the members of the Board of Directors and most of the Department Heads had backup generators at their houses. The General Manager totally refused to have an electric stove and water heater instead of his propane ones so he'd "have them when the power went out".

An incredible amount of badly needed maintenance had been deferred over the years that was now coming due with a vengeance. Since I left, they have had to make major sacrifices in staff, wages, replacement buildings because the costs of updating ancient infrastructure are eating them alive.

[edit] And they have also been requesting quite unpopular rate increases...

It's not just the electrical grids. I found water mains that had clearly been leaking for years, and where gas meters had been removed but the piping was leaking gas, usually in rural or outlying areas where such things didn't get reported, or defunct industrial sites.

I found several homes that hadn't paid a power bill in years; the distribution line was for a stone quarry that had closed, and these homes behind the quarry recieved their service from what looked like a jury-rigged underground tap on the line side of the quarry's drop. The entire distribution line had been marked as inactive but never disconnected. No one ever bothered to check it out before I got there, and the 'customers' never bothered to ask why their meters weren't being read or why they weren't getting a bill.

I was also shot at, chased by dogs, found quite a bit of pot growing (learned to not report these things), saw folks beating their spouses (did report that, lost work time sitting in court as a potential witness) and was trapped in a manhole for hours by a car accident. Interesting job in hindsight.

Bottom line was that these service providers didn't know what they had or what condition it was in. GIS conversions helped a lot, but also revealed what a decrepit state much of this infrastructure was in. The response was tantamount to triage. I lost one job (the only job I've ever been fired from) because I refused to misrepresent the condition of some of this infrastructure ("the customer doesn't want certain things documented; bad for business").

The General Manager totally refused to have an electric stove and water heater instead of his propane ones so he'd "have them when the power went out".

Gotta wonder what he is going to do sometime down the line, when he suddenly finds out that propane delivery has become unreliable? Buy some solar panels?!

Oh, I forgot, they all have backup generators powered by abiotic oil...

Oh, I forgot, they all have backup generators powered by abiotic oil...

Well, in his case that wouldn't surprise me. I heard that, a few years before I got there, the nearby Indian Casino was having their Grand Opening and had searchlights operating. This GM actually called the police and insisted that UFOs were landing nearby! This in not the current GM, the guy I'm talking about was "retired" a couple years before I left. The new one brought his own problems of a different kind.

Energy Efficient Homes Reduce Risk of Mortgage Default

By Kevin Lambert Apr 2, 2013 11:24 AM ET

Bloomberg BNA -- An energy efficient home can make the difference between foreclosure and maintaining mortgage payments, according to a new report.

The March 19 anaysis, Home Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Risks, produced by the Chapel Hill Center for Community Capital at the University of North Carolina and the Washington, D.C.-based energy conservation advocate Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), is the first academic study to investigate the connection between energy efficiency and the ability to repay a mortgage. The risk of mortgage default is one-third lower for energy-efficient, Energy-Star rated homes, according to a March 19 statement accompanying the report.

The energy savings on Energy Star rated homes is actually pretty disapppointing. Here's a Martin Holladay post on the topic... Disappointing Energy Savings for Energy Star Homes.

Bitumen Bottleneck and Pipelines Fix a Myth: Economist

No basis for claims of $50 million a day losses, says new Allan report.

By Andrew Nikiforuk, Today, TheTyee.ca

Industry and government claims that Canada is losing as much as $70 million a day on bitumen exports due to "double discounts" in oil markets and a lack of pipeline capacity are untrue, says a new financial analysis.

In a 35-page report B.C. economist and former business executive Robyn Allan tried to track down sources for the discount story, but says she ran into a dead end.

Nor is the oil sands industry really losing money on bitumen discounts for two vital reasons, says Allan.

For starters, bitumen prices have steadily increased overtime.

And whatever revenue losses upstream oil companies might have sustained due to fickle bitumen markets, their integrated downstream refineries recouped them with what the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce calls "super-normal cash flows" in 2011 and 2012. Oil sand producers including Suncor, Imperial, Husky, Nexen, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Shell, Cenovus and Chevron all own upgraders or refineries downstream.

Exxon won't have to pay into cleanup fund because oil spilled in Arkansas isn't "oil"

A technicality has spared Exxon from having to pay any money into the fund that will be covering most of the clean up costs of its Arkansas pipeline spill.
Exxon has confirmed that the pipeline was carrying “low-quality Wabasca Heavy crude oil from Alberta.” This oil comes from the region of Alberta where the controversial tar sands are located. Heavy crude is strip mined or boiled loose from dense underground formations that often contain a large amount of bitumen. This oil is very thick and needs to be diluted with lighter fluids in order to flow through pipelines. Reports have stated that at least 12,000 barrels of oil and water spilled into the town.
A 1980 law ensures that diluted bitumen is not classified as oil, and companies transporting it in pipelines do not have to pay into the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

I hope this story catches fire. That is outrageous. If it is a toxic liquid in a pipeline then it should pay into such a fund. I don't care what it is.

Just capital protecting itself.
No one said late stage capitalism would be fun.

(one could make a case that it is rent, if one believes Ricardo)

In theory that is what The Courts are for along with a Jury of your peers and Jury Nullification.

Juries won't like the blow picture sets:

Exxon has confirmed that the pipeline was carrying “low-quality Wabasca Heavy crude oil from Alberta.” This oil comes from the region of Alberta where the controversial tar sands are located. Heavy crude is strip mined or boiled loose from dense underground formations that often contain a large amount of bitumen. This oil is very thick and needs to be diluted with lighter fluids in order to flow through pipelines. Reports have stated that at least 12,000 barrels of oil and water spilled into the town.

Aha! I see, so it's only really called oil when it is spun as such by the 'USA is on the verge of energy independence crowd'.... but if TSHTF then it's what most here already know, “low-quality Wabasca Heavy crude". Which when spilled in to the environment, is actually quite beneficial, sorta like CO2 is good for plants. /sarc

There isn't even a really good word to describe this "news." Maybe, "disznósag?"


A few days ago there was a discussion here on TOD about why the economy did not continue to fall after the 08/09 partial collapse. Some pointed to better economic indicators while others said it was only because of taking on huge debt and QE's and that in reality it never really turned around. It it had we could surely test it by balancing the budget and ending QE's. Then the thread moved to the idea of perception.

I suppose in the case of a different form of oil spilling, Exxon with their influence on official policy helped determine that some origins of oil do not fit the criteria as oil per se'. Of course if it was poured through a hole in the roof of one of their mansions, their perception might change. Or, maybe they are so deluded by their perception, they'd say, "Wow, look at all this non-oil in our mansion!!!"

Spilling of non-oil in a community is not "ligitimate rape."


The Blood Sucking Squid may have a different view.
Are things getting more surreal by the minute, or it is just I'm having one of those days?

So fine. If it isn't oil it must be some special kind of chemical that they just leaked a bunch of into the environment. Chemical 'X'. Have a lab do a series of tests on Chemical X to see what it contains that may be harmful to the environment, and then take the owners to court for damages. Some of the toxic ingredients and effects that are noted may also turn out to be applicable to "oil".

If the black-oil like liquid, in that burst pipe, that was shipped from the "Oil Sands" isn't oil according to Exxon then what is that black oil-like stuff coming from the "Oil Sands"?

If Exxon doesn't believe that it is shipping oil from the "Oil Sands" then perhaps we should come up for another name for the "Oil Sands".

Anyone, anyone... ?

It sounds to me like this is another argument to prohibit shipping whatever it is from the oil sands or whatever it is area.

Its not original, but I've heard the stuff called "the devils excrement".

Age of renewables: Why shale gas won’t kill wind or solar

Thought experiment; what if shale gas gets expensive and large scale energy storage never arrives? I'd expect both forms of salvation need to be abundant and cheap by say 2030. I'm sure as hell by then the US will be paying the same price for natgas as the rest of the world, say $15-$20 per GJ/mmbtu. As for energy storage some say there is no No Moore's Law for batteries which flatlanders will need. I picture of world of plenty of wind and solar but no affordable gas or energy storage. One for the techno-optimists.

Thought experiment; what if shale gas gets expensive and large scale energy storage never arrives?

Possibly not much.

Things that need electricity would be done during good daylight, mid-day PV generation, and/or when wind generation supported it.

Everything else would wait, or shift to non-BAU 24/7 power lifestyle to being done when power was available.

The fun thing is, no matter what takes place for a non-FF world in the next 20yrs or so, I might get to find out in my lifetime!

“When you have a 100-year flood four years out of five, that’s a great challenge,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said.

So, Gov. Jack Dalrymple, do you stick by your party's orthodoxy that climate change is a "hoax"?

Forget the climate chage denial, we have a much deeper problem. Jack does not seem to be able to grasp the concept that something that happens 4 out of 5 years is no longer a once in 100 year (give or take) event, whatever the cause.

This is a good example of where a weather anomoly becomes a trend becomes the new normal.

But to say so is a conspiracy? To do what? Promote an agenda? So what agenda is being promoted? Truth?

As it happens, facts, truth, honesty and so forth are a pretty good agenda, and if promoting that is a conspiracy, I'm in!


Google maps Japan nuclear zone

Google Street View is giving the world a rare glimpse into Japan’s eerie ghost town, following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami which sparked a nuclear disaster that has left the area uninhabitable. The photo technology pieces together digital images captured by Google's camera-equipped vehicle and allows viewers to take virtual tours of locations around the world.

In the meanwhile in the netherlands homeowners and homeowner organizations are making claims against NAM (the company which extracts oil/gas, a Shell JV) for hundreds of millions of euros. They claim about 10,000 houses have been damaged by the recent earthquakes at a cost of between 10,000 - 25,000 each.



Has anyone here seen this documentary "Switch"? Has it been discussed in the drumbeat?


I have the opportunity to see it next week but its a bit out of my way, so I'm wondering if its worth the time. It seems to be sponsored by the American Geosciences Institute.

A glance AGI's board of trustees shows that most are current or retired oil/gas industry executives. Applying one of my ironclad rules of the universe - "follow the money" - I therefore assume this film is propaganda. But I'm prepared to be surprised.

There was a discussion on the October 22, 2012 Drumbeat:

Here was my comment:
I saw the whole film. It more just talks about the availability of various options, but doesn't go into too much detail of the politics or economics. At one point, the professor who narrates the film says something like (I'm paraphrasing),

"The more expensive oil gets, the more becomes available, so we can continue to increase consumption for awhile."

Most of those who follow the debate here understand that oil prices will not increase indefinitely and instead at some point demand will be destroyed. But as I said, he doesn't address the economics.

He also doesn't talk about EROEI or the degrading quality of the resources that are left, so there are a number of shortcomings. The best part of the film is probably the way he addresses the scale of the operations, showing some of the power plants and earth-moving equipment.

Overall, the movie is definitely aimed at non-technical individuals, probably to make them realize we're going to have to make some tough choices wrt energy, so stop putting up fights over fracking, nukes, etc. He doesn't phrase it that way, of course, but that's the way I perceived it through my cynical/jaded personality.

RealClimate has a review.

"The centerpiece of the campaign is a documentary film, SWITCH, which purports to be about the need for a transformation in the world’s energy systems. Recently, I attended the Chicago premier of the film, presented as part of the Environmental Film Series of the Lutheran School of Theology. I had high hopes for this film. They were disappointed. Given the mismatch between what the movie promises and what it delivers, it would be more aptly titled, “BAIT AND SWITCH.”

Well, it makes climate scientists fume...

The truly fatal flaw of SWITCH, however, is that it never comes right out and explains why it is so critical for the world’s energy systems to switch off of fossil fuels, and why time is of the essence in making the switch. There are some oblique references to CO2 emissions, but no mention of the essentially irreversible effect of these emissions on climate, of the need to keep cumulative emissions under a trillion tonnes of carbon if we are to have a chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C, or of how short the remaining time is before we hit this limit at the rate we are going.

There was a review over in RealClimate. The money quote "the moderator never saw a fossil fuel he didn't like". Sounds like fossil fuel paid for propaganda.

The Government Has Some Big Ideas To Fix The Outdated Northeast Rail System

The Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration has released a report outlining possible plans to expand rail service in the Northeast corridor (NEC).

The purpose of the "Preliminary Alternatives Report" is to lay out a process to improve and expand the network of trains running between Washington, D.C. and Boston, the busiest rail corridor in the country.
The new report proposes 15 options for expanding rail service, which range from simply improving the state of the tracks and adding more trains, to much more ambitious plans to add a second major "spine" connecting all the major cities (with trains running as fast as 220 mph).

Transportation Nation writes that the report should "jump-start public debate" about how rail service should be improved, and what is worth the investment.

Report Finds Materials Manufacturers Will Likely Be Unable To Meet Targets for Carbon-Emissions Reductions By 2050

The researchers looked at how materials manufacturing might meet the energy-reduction targets implied by the IPCC, which has suggested a 50 percent reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions by 2050 as a means of avoiding further climate change. Meanwhile, economists have estimated that global demand for materials will simultaneously double.

To reduce energy use by 50 percent while doubling the output of materials, the team — led by graduate student Sahil Sahni and Tim Gutowski, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT — studied whether manufacturing processes could improve in efficiency by 75 percent.

... despite more energy-efficient manufacturing, the researchers found that such processes may be approaching their thermodynamic limits: There are increasingly limited options available to make them significantly more efficient. The result, the team observed, is that energy efficiency for many important processes in manufacturing is approaching a plateau.

More information: Paper: The energy required to produce materials: constraints on energy-intensity improvements, parameters of demand. http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/371/1986/20120003.abstract

Another reason why unemployment is high ...

Math Problems Are a Problem for Job-Seekers, Employers Say

Before job-seekers fill out an application for work making foam products for the aerospace industry at General Plastics Manufacturing Co. in Tacoma, Wash., they have to take a math test. Eighteen questions, 30 minutes, and using a calculator is OK.

They are asked how to convert inches to feet, read a tape measure and find the density of a block of foam (mass divided by volume).

Basic middle school math, right?

But what troubles General Plastics executive Eric Hahn is that although the company considers only prospective workers who have a high school education, only one in 10 who take the test pass. And that's not just bad luck at a single factory or in a single industry.

Graduate Glut Spells Underused Skills and Dissatisfaction for Many

Policy makers in many developed and developing countries envisioned high-value economies supported in part by a highly-skilled and well-paid workforce. As a result, many nations have increased higher education (HE) access, assuming that employers will be able to use this larger bank of skills effectively. However, the number of skilled jobs has not matched the rising number of skilled workers, so that today's higher qualifications no longer guarantee graduates higher earnings, or further opportunities to use and develop knowledge and skills. Many graduates are now employed in 'intermediate' level jobs previously not regarded as graduate jobs.

And then:

McDonald's demands a bachelor's degree and two years' experience - just to be a cashier

It used to be high school drop outs flipping burgers at McDonald's, now the fast-food joint is demanding a bachelors degree.
In a frightening example of how competitive the job market is for young people right now, a McDonald's outpost in Winchedon, Massachusetts, has just posted a call-out for a full time cashier - but insists only college graduates need apply.
And even they must have 1-2 years of cashier experience before they'll be trusted with the Big-Mac-selling responsibility, according to the advert.

OK, that one story may not be true, but there have been many news stories about how it's now necessary to have a degree just to get a secretary job. I've seen it myself, the IT job that I "retired" from had minimum education requirements for the replacement that neither myself or anyone I knew would meet.

I've seen plenty of IT jobs demanding several more years of experience in a product than the product has been available for.


IIRC in the 1980s at one stage they were hiring filling station attendants in California "PhD required". An attempt to keep qualified people in the state during the worst of the recession.

These two factors are what explains the explosion in disability in recent years. Lots of older workers with little education cannot get white collar jobs and their bodies can no longer handle blue-collar jobs. (Not to mention they have to compete with younger people and immigrants for those blue collar jobs.)

We've ground people up and left them with few options.

Yes. It turns out most longterm disabled have issues, like bad backs, that make the sort of low wage manual labor they qualify for undoable. One Doctor who does disability, asks the patient, "do you have a college degree", if the answer is yes, -no disability, as they should be able to find a desk job.

That squares, we have several people at work, who have serious back problems -including yours truly, who wouldn't be able to survive manual labor, but who do just fine at their computer jobs.

That squares, we have several people at work, who have serious back problems -including yours truly, who wouldn't be able to survive manual labor, but who do just fine at their computer jobs.

I have to wonder how many of those back problems, are at least in part, caused by people spending long hours sitting in front of their computers? Not to mention that sitting is associated with other serious health problems as well...

Kevin Drum has some interesting thoughts on the supposed math deficiency implied by the article on General Plastics' hiring problems.

As if there weren't already enough reasons to extract less FF, not more:

Attack of the 500-Pound Poison Ivy

80 percent of the population reacts to the vine with welts and maddeningly itchy rashes. So the fact that poison ivy plants are getting bigger and more poisonous due to climate change isn’t exactly welcome news. But that’s precisely what’s happening; scientific research indicates that with higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the poison ivy plant grows larger, and its “oil” (a.k.a. the awful poisonous stuff) becomes more potent.
That’s exactly what scientists found when they planted poison ivy in an experimental forest at Duke University, piping in carbon dioxide to artificially raise the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere to the levels it’s expected to be by about 2050. The result, published in 2006: like other plants subjected to a high-CO2 environment, the poison ivy plants grew 150 percent bigger, with 153 percent higher concentrations of their oil, called urushiol.


I have vast experience with PI. First thing, take a hot, very soapy shower. Then rinse off with the hottest water you can stand. Then if the itching comes back and becomes unbearable, back into the hottest shower you can stand - it really relieves the itch in my experience. Better than alcohol, IMO.

There is a product called Tecnu. It is available in formualations for washing your contaminated clothing, and for washing yourself. It allegedly bonds to the uroshiol so that it can be washed away. I've never tried it, but I've heard people say good things about it.

Indeed, calamine lotion is a joke. Solarcaine (contains lydocaine, a topical anesthetic) ain't bad, in a pinch. There's also a camphor/menthol lotion that helps - I discovered it in Panama, when I picked up a horrific case of chiggers. Makes PI seem like a picnic...

Had plenty of experience in my younger days -but I live far from the stuff nowadays. I found if I suspected I've brushed into the stuff, washing off within maybe a half hour and no symptoms appear. The medical types don't recommend, it but I washed the sores with rubbing alcohol, and it seemed to work, itching would be over after a few hours. I see from wikipedia, they claim the stuff that oozes from the sores won't create new sores. We sure believed that when I was a kid, it seemed to explain what seemed to happen.

I can remember once, rapelling from a rock climb, right into a patch. Tried to walk to the left to land outside it, but pendulumed, tried to walk to the right, same result. No choice but to land right in the middle of it!

We make a poultice from stinging nettle. Strip off some leaves and roll them around between your hands; rub it on. It's a counter-irritant that's also good for rheumatism and joint pain. A friend used to come over and collect it from our property (it grows all over) to treat his severe eczema. He moved to Texas; not sure what he does now.

"I have vast experience with PI. First thing, take a hot, very soapy shower. Then rinse off with the hottest water you can stand."

Really need to use dish detergent (I prefer Dawn). The dish detergent is better at cutting the oil. Two quick coats seems best and it needs to happen within about 30 minutes of contact or you might be SOL.

Sounds like the poison ivy oil is a protein and the heat coagulates it.

Heating in boiling water or sticking the limb in a campfire is an emergency treatment for snakebite. The poison coagulates like the white of an egg when you heat it.

The plant does not survive in full sun. I cleared an acre of the stuff by keeping it mowed for a couple of years. Just as long as I maintain my new orchard, it won't creep back from the forest edge.

Local Atlanta news is reporting a major explosion at Plant Bowen northwest of the Atlanta area. Early reports say that one of the steam tubines blew up. Bowen is coal-fired and is being reported as the second largest electric power plant in the western hemisphere.

At 3,499 megawatts, Plant Bowen has the largest generating capacity of any coal-fired power plant in North America since the partial shutdown of Ontario Power Generation's Nanticoke Generating Station in Canada.

It is a major supplier to the southeast grid, owned/operated by Georgia Power (Southern Company). Not much else being reported yet, but people in the surrounding area report the explosion was heard and felt for miles. No major injuries being reported.

the plant was shut down for maintenance at the time of the explosion



"the plant was shut down for maintenance at the time of the explosion"

Not according to the videos. At least three of the cooling towers are belching water vapor, and people in the area are reporting they are venting lots of steam; "vey loud!".

Now reporting they were shutting down the one turbine when the explosion occured. Sounds like someone closed a main steam valve out of sequence. It takes quite a while to fully shut down these big turbines; they have to be kept rotating and cooled slowly or the turbine stages will warp/get damaged. They have a "jacking gear" that keeps the whole assembly rotating slowly even when they are fully shut down. Prevents sagging and damage to the bearings, etc..

Early reports often are wrong, as usual.

Boiler explosions can be horrific... http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=exploding+steam+engine+videos&mid=AD...


If the accident involved a steam turbine, I'd expect the same sort of accident could happen at a nuclear power plant. Just thought I'd throw that out to give all the anti-nuke folks a moment of pleasure!

UPDATE: Ga. Power sets up public information line, only minor injuries reported

Bartow County Sheriff's Office officials have reported that a generator turbine exploded at Plant Bowen this afternoon causing "major structural damage" to one of the units. All roads around the plant are closed at the moment and motorists are advised to stay away from the area. Currently, the Bartow County Fire Department and Georgia Power have command centers set up on scene and the sheriff's office is supplying perimeter security for the roads leading to the plant.

I think there is a mistake there. A "generator turbine" can fly apart but it is highly unlikely that it exploded. A turbine blade could fly off causing a huge mess however, and the steam escaping from the turbine housing would be dangerous. But boilers do explode, or the boiler drum can explode. This is extremely dangerous. In the old steamboat days, it would blow the boat apart, killing most everyone on board.

Images for power plant boiler explosions

Ron P.

Bank of Japan shocks markets


The next move undoubtedly will come from the EU, as witness:

"This is the kind of aggressive easing we are used to seeing from the Fed, and would just love to see more of from the ECB," Kit Juckes, a currency analyst at Societe Generale, said in a research note.

This way no nation's currency will devalue since the only valuation is a comparison with everyone else... who are doing the same stuff. I haven't thought it through as to whether this will promote inflation or deflation. If either. It sounds like money is pumped into banks; banks take money. Economy sits still, wealthy get wealthier, everyone else not so much. The money they are printing is not captital. It is not being used.

Rinse and repeat, ad nauseum.

Are these wonderful, interesting times or what?


Can anyone tell me why motor oil is so expensive compared to gas or diesel? I just paid $45 for 2 1/2 gallons of 10-40 diesel engine oil and $42 for 2 1/2 gallons of hydraulic oil. This is in the Seattle/Tacoma area. This makes the cost around 17-18 dollars per gallon.

Two guesses.

First, like diesel fuel, motor oil demand is relatively inflexible. It's required to keep trucks and tractors operating, and neither the agricultural nor transportation industries have suffered much "demand destruction".

Second, I get the feeling that to the majority of consumers, motor oil has become a luxury good. I know very few city dwellers who change their own oil. Essentially the same as the way that the high price of fabric and thread makes it surprisingly expensive to sew one's own clothes.

In both cases, the people who still have to buy motor oil are unable to put the sort of pressure on suppliers that thrifty everyday drivers have put on gas stations.

Diesel is just some hydrocarbons with a fairly loose definition of how long they are. They are only going to die a fiery death so little care is given.

Crankcase and hydraulic oils require careful attention to viscosity, how viscosity varies with temperature, and weird friction related additives and things to scavenge impurities.

And there is the vast difference in product volume thing.

A friend gets rid of waste oil by adding it in small volumes to the diesel he puts through his ancient landcruiser.

First thing is where you're buying it. Last time I needed Rotela it was $6 a gallon cheaper at Sam's club than at the local auto supply.

Maybe WA has a tax or disposal fee built into price. I pay $55 for 5 gallons at Tractor Supply (store brand), and recently paid $28 for the 2 1/2 gallon size of Rotella T. About the same at Walmart here. TS currently has a gallon of Castrol Diesel for $10.99 here. I use Rotella Synthetic in our diesel genny and usually pay $18.99/gal at Walmart. Recycling is free here.

2013 Offers Best Opening for Broad Climate Action, British Economist Says

Bloomberg, By Anthony Adragna Apr 4, 2013 1:15 PM ET

Report ‘Badly Underestimated’ Economic Risks

Stern said his 2006 Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, prepared for the British government, “badly underestimated” the risks posed by climate change to economic prosperity.

He said the report failed to adequately account for the impacts of millions of people relocating due to sea levels rising, and he said many of the impacts forecasted were occurring much more quickly than anticipated.

“Our story wasn't strong enough,” Stern said. “Emissions are at the top or above the projections we thought about six or seven years ago.”

Stern called for development of new scientific and economic models that would better take into account the long-term economic consequences of extreme weather events.

If you knock down the capital structure, you are less productive afterwards,” he said. “These are lasting destructions, but those factors don't come into the current model. As we move forward in science, we need to look more closely at the implications for human welfare [from extreme weather] and try to model those better.”

-- snip --

[Christine] Lagarde[, managing director of IMF,] echoed many of Stern's comments and vowed to use IMF's financial expertise to help address climate change.

“If nothing is done we'll be toasted, roasted, and grilled,” Lagarde said. “If climate change issues are not properly addressed … then medium- and long-term financial stability is clearly at stake.”

Stern's address and Lagarde's remarks, including slides, can be found here... Fostering Growth and Poverty Reduction in a World of Immense Risk

The discussion on climate change is so different in the UK and USA. In the UK they argue about what are the most cost-effective and logical ways to deal with the issue. In the USA some talk about doing something and the others call it a "hoax". And it wasn't always like that . . . McCain touted a cap & trade system at one point. Apparently the existence of president Obama has just driven them crazy.

Lobbyist appointed as Alberta's new top energy regulator

By Andrew Nikiforuk, Published April 2, 2013 08:25 pm |

The Alberta government has appointed the founding president of the Canada's most powerful oil and gas group as well as an active energy lobbyist to head its new energy regulator.

Gerard Protti, a long-time senior executive for Encana from 1995 and 2009, served as the inaugural president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).*

He is also registered as an active lobbyist for the Energy Policy Institute of Canada.

That lobby group, which disgraced senior Harper advisor Bruce Carson helped to set up (Carson served as vice chair), says on its website that it wants to make energy regulations more industry friendly: "Help design regulatory processes that aid, rather than impede, responsible energy development."

Gosh... you can't make this stuff up. Alberta, the Petro-State!