Drumbeat: April 8, 2013

Proposed expansion of energy agency looks a seismic shift

When the International Energy Agency was launched in 1974, the French foreign minister at the time, Michel Jobert, called it "an instrument of war". The IEA was the industrialised countries' counter to Opec and the first oil shock.

Now, as the Financial Times reported on Thursday, the IEA is seeking a closer association with the main emerging economies: the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and the rather misplaced South Africa), plus Indonesia and Mexico. There is still a long way to go in negotiating their entry. But this move marks the biggest change in the agency's direction since its foundation.

WTI Rebounds Following Biggest Weekly Drop in Six Months

West Texas Intermediate oil rebounded after its biggest weekly drop in six months, snapping three days of losses. Brent’s premium to New York crude was near the smallest it has been since June.

Hedge Funds Cut Bets Most Since ’08 as Prices Slump: Commodities

Hedge funds reduced bets on a commodity rally by the most since 2008 as rising supplies of everything from copper to sugar and slowing U.S. growth drove prices to the biggest slump in six months.

China depends more on overseas oil

As China's energy demands grow, its dependency on imported foreign oil will continue to increase from the current level of 58 percent, according to Zhang Guobao, a former director of the National Energy Administration under the National Development and Reform Commission.

"China is importing an increasing amount of crude, which is the most crucial issue for the country's energy supply," said Zhang during the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference.

Nigerian Troops Seek Gunmen Who Killed 15 Police in Delta

Nigerian troops are hunting for militants who said they killed at least 15 policemen in the oil- rich Niger River delta, a military official said.

“The security forces are working to ensure the perpetrators” are tracked down, Ibrahim Attahiru, a spokesman for the army, said today by phone from Abuja, the capital.

Blast near Damascus square kills 15, state TV reports

(CNN) -- A car bomb Monday afternoon ripped through an area near one of the largest public squares in Damascus, Syria, killing at least 15 people and injuring dozens of others, Syrian state TV reported.

Iran to Boost Gas Exports in Efforts to Cut Oil Sales Reliance

Iran plans increase its natural gas exports as a way to diminish its reliance on crude sales, a senior Iranian Oil Ministry official said.

Iran will “witness a change in the revenues of the country from crude oil to natural gas,” said Javad Owji, managing director of National Iranian Gas Co., according to the state-run Mehr news agency. Owji, who didn’t specify how much Iran earns from oil and gas sales separately, pointed to the country’s goal to triple gas shipments to some of its neighbors.

The End of Peak Oil?

Just a few years ago, as the price of oil spiked to $147 a barrel, the notion that the world was pumping as much oil as possible — that we had reached Peak Oil — was becoming an accepted fact.

After all, as prices rose, wouldn't it benefit oil producers to produce more oil if they could?

But global production could only rise around 10% between 2000 and 2010. In the United States, production declined steadily from 2000 (5.8 million barrels) to 2008 (4.9 million barrels).

The inability to bring more oil to market despite a huge economic incentive to do so was surely proof the world simply couldn't pump more oil.

Peak Oil Not Dead: America’s Next Top Gamble

The truth -- Peak oil has nothing to do with running out of actual oil.

Peak oil means we’ve peaked as far as finding cheap oil supply. And we don’t believe the world will just “eventually” run out of cheap oil in 10 to 12 years.

It’s already happening.

Buying frenzy set to peter out in oil patch after US$50B in megadeals last year

CALGARY — The buying frenzy that last year saw deal values in Western Canada’s oil patch climb past US$50-billion is unlikely to repeat itself, as infrastructure constraints and a glut of assets on the block weigh on transaction prices.

GE to acquire oilfield services provider Lufkin for $3.3 bln

(Reuters) - General Electric Co said it will buy oilfield services provider Lufkin Industries Inc for about $3.3 billion to expand its oil and gas business.

Japan's Tepco may run out of space for radioactive water

(Reuters) - Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co said on Monday it does not have enough tank space should it need to move contaminated water from storage pits that started leaking over the weekend at its wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Two years after the worst nuclear disaster in a quarter of a century, Tepco is struggling with breakdowns and glitches in its jerry-rigged cooling system to keep reactors and spent fuel pools in a safe state known as cold shutdown.

Enbridge, EDF unit buying $600-million Alberta wind project

Enbridge Inc. and a subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles have teamed up to buy the Blackspring Ridge wind generation project near Lethbridge, Alta., on a 50-50 basis from Greengate Power Corp.

The companies say Blackspring Ridge represents a $600-million investment in wind energy but financial details of the transactions weren’t disclosed in Monday’s announcement.

Residential Solar Power Heads Toward Grid Parity

Photovoltaics are still, on average, a pricey, subsidy-dependent source of electricity. However, rooftop panels are beginning to beat the grid in a number of jurisdictions with high retail power rates—and their ranks are projected to swell over this decade. A growing number of economists say that rapidly shrinking costs have turned distributed solar generation into a disruptive technology that’s set for runaway growth. In fact, they say, it could ultimately upend the power distribution market. 

Global Biofuels Production Will Reach Nearly 62 Billion Gallons by 2023, Forecasts Navigant Research

BOULDER, Colo. (BUSINESS WIRE)- After more than a decade of healthy growth for conventional biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel, the next wave of advanced biofuels is nearing commercialization. The pool of commercially available biomass-derived fuels is expanding to include advanced fuels derived from non-food feedstocks and drop-in synthetic substitutes for gasoline, diesel, and kerosene-based jet fuel. According to a new report from Navigant Research, worldwide biofuels production will grow from 33.6 billion gallons per year (BGY) in 2013 to 61.6 BGY in 2023.

Bio-fuels industry “under attack”

The bio-fuels industry must combat the “negative mis-information funded by the trillion-dollar oil industry”, according to former NATO commander General Wesley Clark.

Now the co-chairman of US bio-fuels specialist Growth Energy, General Clark accused global oil companies of actively undermining the bio-fuels industry, despite the fact that many of them now have business units dedicated to this technology.

Taping of Farm Cruelty Is Becoming the Crime

Critics call them “Ag-Gag” bills.

Some of the legislation appears inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business advocacy group with hundreds of state representatives from farm states as members. The group creates model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers, that in the past have included such things as “stand your ground” gun laws and tighter voter identification rules.

One of the group’s model bills, “The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act,” prohibits filming or taking pictures on livestock farms to “defame the facility or its owner.” Violators would be placed on a “terrorist registry.”

Culprit in Heart Disease Goes Beyond Meat’s Fat

The researchers had come to believe that what damaged hearts was not just the thick edge of fat on steaks, or the delectable marbling of their tender interiors. In fact, these scientists suspected that saturated fat and cholesterol made only a minor contribution to the increased amount of heart disease seen in red-meat eaters. The real culprit, they proposed, was a little-studied chemical that is burped out by bacteria in the intestines after people eat red meat. It is quickly converted by the liver into yet another little-studied chemical called TMAO that gets into the blood and increases the risk of heart disease.

Reducing waste of food: A key element in feeding billions more people

Families can be key players in a revolution needed to feed the world, and could save money by helping to cut food losses now occurring from field to fork to trash bin, an expert said here today. He described that often-invisible waste in food—4 out of every 10 pounds produced in the United States alone—and the challenges of feeding a global population of 9 billion in a keynote talk at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Florida Algae Bloom Leads to Record Manatee Deaths

Florida’s endangered manatees, already reeling from an unexplained string of deaths in the state’s east coast rivers, have died in record numbers from a toxic red algae bloom that appears each year off the state’s west coast, state officials and wildlife experts say.

Slaking a Region’s Thirst While Cleaning Its Beaches

Even in this water-starved region, storm and other runoff has become the primary source of water pollution. After the rare rains, runoff drags heavy metals, pesticides, cigarette butts, animal waste and other pollutants into streams and rivers and eventually to the Pacific Ocean, turning Los Angeles County’s beaches into the filthiest in the state.

But now, local officials are trying to deal with runoff pollution and another problem — the lack of drinking water — with an ambitious plan to make the runoff drinkable.

Scientists Question Impact as Vineyards Turn Up in New Places

For more than a decade, wine experts have discussed the impact of climate change on wine grapes, agriculture’s diva, a marquee crop nurtured and pampered around the world.

Now scientists are raising a new question: when grapes are transported to new areas, assuming warming weather and flagging rain make current regions unsuited to such harvests, what will the crop’s arrival do to the animals and plants already in residence?

Bill McKibben: How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Democrats?

Administration insiders keep insisting, ominously enough, that the president doesn’t think Keystone is a very big deal. Indeed, despite his amped-up post-election rhetoric on climate change, he continues to insist on an “all-of-the-above” energy policy which, as renowned climate scientist James Hansen pointed out in his valedictory shortly before retiring from NASA last week, simply can’t be squared with basic climate-change math.

All these men and women have excuses for their climate conservatism. To name just two: the oil industry has endless resources and they’re scared about reelection losses. Such excuses are perfectly realistic and pragmatic, as far as they go: if you can’t get re-elected, you can’t do even marginal good and you certainly can’t block right-wing craziness. But they also hide a deep affection for oil industry money, which turns out to be an even better predictor of voting records than party affiliation.

Why a Canadian Carbon Tax Would Be More Pain Than Gain

Alberta's carbon levy isn't exactly a carbon tax but the more that national carbon taxes are discussed, especially in the U.S., the closer we are to facing their implementation. As carbon taxes have entered the discussion with regard to U.S. economic reform, Canada might soon find itself having to harmonize with an aggressive U.S. carbon tax regime. That makes this a good time to review the problems with carbon taxes, which are significant.

Super-efficient laptop, high-speed electric car to be reality

New Delhi -- A laptop that runs for eight hours without a recharge or a high-speed electric car covering around 300 km in one fill may appear a distant dream for many Indians. But, it would soon be a reality with India set to enter the highly competitive world of 'super-energy efficient' appliances.

Enterprises should adapt to climate change: R.K. Pachauri

Kolkata (IANS) Stressing on the need to "mitigate the emissions of greenhouse gases as part of the overall solution", renowned environmental scientist Rajendra K. Pachauri Saturday said management of enterprises across the globe will have to adapt to impact of climate change.

Eight steps to climate-proof development in Africa

Climate change must be integrated into the post-2015 agenda, as ignoring it may condemn many Africans to a life of poverty.

Rising Seas Swallow 8 Cities in These Climate Change GIFs

On February 8 he got in touch with Remik Ziemlinski, from Climate Central, who had helped the Times create the maps and he received the high-resolution maps from him. Lamm then chose different U.S. landmarks to illustrate the potential floods and found stock photos of the landmarks (he initially wanted to use screenshots of Apple 3D Maps but couldn't get permission from Apple to use them). He decided to use the same levels the Times had. To "figure out the depth of flooding for each sea level rise," he used Google Earth and topography maps.

Oceans may explain slowdown in climate change - study

OSLO (Reuters) - Climate change could get worse quickly if huge amounts of extra heat absorbed by the oceans are released back into the air, scientists said after unveiling new research showing that oceans have helped mitigate the effects of warming since 2000.

Heat-trapping gases are being emitted into the atmosphere faster than ever, and the 10 hottest years since records began have all taken place since 1998. But the rate at which the earth's surface is heating up has slowed somewhat since 2000, causing scientists to search for an explanation for the pause.

Poll: Global warming worry heats up

Americans’ concerns about global warming have inched up in recent years, according to a new poll on Monday.

Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed are concerned a great deal or a fair amount about global warming, Gallup found.

How US energy policy fails to address climate change

Current U.S. energy policy is, in fact, a hodgepodge of disconnected policies designed for specific constituencies with no coherent goal. The country has subsidies for fossil fuels, subsidies for nuclear power, subsidies for wind and solar, and subsidies for insulating and retrofitting buildings. We also have energy standards for some appliances and miles per gallon standards for automobiles.

What never gets asked and answered definitively in the policy debate is this: What should our ultimate goal be and when should we aim to achieve it? The first part of the question has elicited so many answers from so many constituencies that I may not be able to represent them all here. But here is an attempt to categorize the main lines of thinking concerning the country’s energy goals:

Wikileaks publishes 1.7m US diplomatic records

Wikileaks says it has created the world's largest searchable collection of US diplomatic documents.

Wikileaks has published more than 1.7 million US diplomatic and intelligence reports from the 1970s.

the Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD)

I thought this may be relevant since there are thousands of documents related to "Petroleum" categories, during the oil crunch years of the 70s. I don't have much time to peruse the database (I'm racking more PV today), but some of you may have time (and fun). I noticed quite a bit of stuff on Iran and the middle east.

Indeed this could be very interesting, especially around the price aspect and various interests, will try to have a look if I can find some time..

For instance :


Full document :

What A Carbon-Constrained Future Could Mean For Oil Companies’ Creditworthiness

March 1, 2013 : Don't recall this being posted!

Carbon Tracker and Standard & Poors have been working together on the implications of carbon constraints for credit ratings of the oil and gas sector.

The effect of limiting emissions translates into a peak demand situation. This has knock on effects for fundamentals such as the price and volume of sales going forward:

  • Adjusting the price and demand assumptions to reflect lower emissions levels results in risk of downgrades for pure oilsands operators.
  • This scenario puts pressure on cashflows which may result in dividends being cut or projects being cancelled.
  • But more fundamentally it questions the business model going forward of investing more capital in tarsands.
  • The three oilsands operators analysed have issued US$13.6 billion of corporate bonds, with over 50% of these maturing post-2020. The companies may find a very different context to try and refinance any of the debt which matures in the next few years. The uncertainty around the bonds which mature out to 2042 is not reflected in the current short outlook of a 3-5 year credit rating outlook.
  • This research shows that credit ratings need to start looking at alternative futures, as a carbon constrained world will not see past performance of this sector be repeated.

I simply cannot imagine any scenario where we would limit the fossil fuel we use based on the consequences of carbon in the atmosphere. I'm all for it mind you, but I just don't see it happening. First, it would be an unprecedented display of self restraint on a mass scale. Second, I don't see how it would even be enforced. Third, the political consequences to anyone who proposed it would be catastrophic. And last, since we are in a supply constrained world, someone else will use what we do not.

If fossil fuel use is limited by limiting the amount produced, then producers can charge very high prices for the limited supply and make a great deal of money. Vendors of alternative energy technology can also make more money by selling their formerly non-competitive products.

Other scenarios for limiting use may favor other sectors than producers, such as market makers in carbon credits. But in most cases, limiting use of fossil fuel means that the remaining supply goes to applications with the greatest ability to pay and that a lot of money is available to somebody to cash in on.

Yep, sky high fuel prices, a collapsing economy hitting those without the means to pay for fuel hardest - and the sure knowledge that the fuel was being intentionally withheld to drive up prices. How many milliseconds would it take an opportunistic sociopath to figure that out and start to capitalize on the anger of the masses? The place would melt down in a couple of months.

There is no effective mechanism within the existing system to accomplish this.

I believe there will be limitations on our ability to use these much more expensive (in energy terms) fossil fuels, but the limits will be imposed from outside. Such things as an economic collapse driven by the much lower EROEI requiring a larger percentage of our resources going to extracting the remaining energy, amplified by rising costs of the damage done by climate-related disasters. And the failing of our empire limiting our access to the resources of the world (but then someone else gets them?). The big question in my mind is how fast these kinds of limitations can constrain our carbon output?

That is why conditioning public opinion is so important. It has to be done before putting in constraints on fossil fuel production. And the higher prices surely furnish enough funds to buy off those sectors who are powerful enough to thwart the constraints.

And economic advantage is always relative. If there is economic decline, you want to be in a sector that is declining more slowly than the rest. For example, you might rather be in the remaining fossil fuel business than in the cruise ship operator business.

And economic advantage is always relative. If there is economic decline, you want to be in a sector that is declining more slowly than the rest. For example, you might rather be in the remaining fossil fuel business than in the cruise ship operator business.

What you are referring to is particular buinesses and how they would be affected by higher costs via carbon taxing. However, imo the greater problem is how the economy as a whole is affected by the higher costs of fossil fuel energy due to carbon taxing. I'm fine with the idea of taxing it or carbon offsets or however it's being sold to transition to renewables, but if the importing countries are already suffering economically now at these prices, what will happen when it gets much more expensive?

Sure, on the surface it would seem like renewables become more economically attractive and feasible, but the overall costs of energy would surely rise. The question then becomes can economies that are currently producing near zero growth, yet have to borrow and QE to stay afloat, take on that kind of added burden? I don't think they can.

If the Fed can engineer 4 or 5% inflation, and continue to hold interest rates on the 10 year beleow 4%, you have a situation where equity owners will get rich, creditors will get poor, and the general population will see its standard of living eroded while earnings stay the same or increase slightly.

But best we change to chained CPI first, so that inflation-adjusted pensions and benefits don't explode.

"Other scenarios for limiting use may favor other sectors than producers, such as market makers in carbon credits. "

One of the reason why all these "cap & trade" schemas are crap, and simple volume based taxes would be much better.

Anyway with the crisis the CO2 credit market in Europe is crashing for instance.

Besides, apart from complete collapse, it seems to me that "oil using industries" are more at risk comparatively than oil "producers", that is, car or plane makers, airlines, more at risk than Exxon, BP or Total from a financial aspect.

I find it awful easy to imagine lots of scenarios that would force a limit on fossil fuels. The most obvious one is a heat wave/wind/fire/power failure in Phoenix, our favorite far-out unsustainable city, resulting in the live TV deaths of a million or so. Or, if you don't like that one, any of a thousand others would do, world wide, all quite possible and in my view, near certain in the very near future.

As a resident of the Phoenix area (Mesa) I have been telling anyone who will listen that the "sustainable" population for the valley is around 1500 people living on corn, lizards, and javelina!

If the grid goes down here during the summer thousands will begin dying after 3 days!

I am not very popular!


A small well tended fire consumes more than a bushfire. I'm all for pushing demand and price to the sky in order to collapse the system. Take that south seas cruise, go for a Sunday drive, fly rather than walk, go into debt and buy a new house, the future health of the world depends on you to quickly deplete FF resources. We came close with 147 dollar oil, better luck this next time.

We came close with 147 dollar oil, better luck this next time.

I got a good laugh on that one, because it's the kind of thought I have but never express to people because they just wouldn't get it, and they'd think I was strange. But that line does have a certain macalb humor I appreciate because it's so true. The sooner we drop off the radar screen the greater the chances the planet will recover. The longer it takes the more species will go extinct.

Apparently, Earl, intelligence is not necessarily a good evolutionary road.

So, I suppose you agree with me that homo sapiens sapiens will not be missed by remaining denizens of the rest of the world.

The thought is, indeed, macabre, no matter that it may be shared by more than would admit sharing.

It would be nice to think that we were smart enough to engineer a draw down that permits humans to survive. Which is a good hope, if not a very good certainty.


Yes, I agree we won't be missed by the other denizens (as they will stop being freaked out and running, flying or swimming for their lives to get away), and for the right spelling of macabre. Always room to learn, and along those lines would be great if our species could admit it's situation requires an engineered drawdown. It seems though the push to go as hard and fast as possible no matter the feedback continues to prevail.

" the push to go as hard and fast as possible no matter the feedback continues to prevail."



To extend that thought just a little, maybe we will get really lucky and make the next evolutionary step beyond intelligence- wisdom.

But, I still go with the far grimmer hypothesis that the solution to Fermi's paradox is the simple one that so far fits the observed evidence just fine:
1) life forms evolve thru the processes we know,
2) intelligent live evolves
3)it discovers fossil fuels
4) goes on a petroleum fueled drunken binge
5)binge ruins planet,
6) finis. Fermi's explained fully

Well, this presumes fossil fuels. Fossil fuels may not form in other ecosystems. Perhaps the other life forms will just eat up those dead material quickly. They only form due to freak conditions here . . . mass extinction from hypoxia, then buried, then cooked, etc. to form oil.

Also, I think a contradictory situation may be true . . . without fossil fuels you will never get an advanced modern civilization that is at the level we are at. We humans have been around at least 100K to 200K years. For the vast majority of that time, we were little more than our ape cousins but with language, a few tools, and some art. It really wasn't until we discovered oil that we really ramped up the modern civilization. So you may need fossil fuels in order to create a modern civilization capable of leaving a home planet.

They only form due to freak conditions
I suspect that it is similar with respect to conditions to create complex life. There is probably a high correlation between the two. Most likely archaic life forms (like the kingdom) are probably embarrassingly common, complex multi-cellular not so common.

Also likely rare is the evolutionary combination of "intelligence", linguistic ability (complex generational knowledge), and opposable thumbs (advanced manipulation of our environment).

Agreed. And perhaps intelligence isn't an entirely independent variable here. I've often wondered if "intelligence" (as we define it in our typically self-absorbed fashion) could arise absent the ability to manipulate the environment. Could dolphins discover (or invent, if you're not a platonist) calculus without the ability to move objects around and write things down?

Maybe they have.

'an advanced modern civilization that is at the level we are at..'

I do still have to look at this and wonder, though, what is that level exactly? We have an advanced level of power that we're (The industrialized nations, if you will) projecting around the world.. but in 'civil' terms, I think we've lost a lot of ground, or missed a lot of our potential, and would truly only be losing a lot of toys, but not necessarily the opportunity to live as really fine human beings in a noble society.

You may remember my rejoinder to that silly trope about the ending of the stone age.. which is that so much of what our 'Top Men' are doing, be they government leaders or business moguls, is to continue throwing rocks as a means towards continued success, or protecting that success. Our model is built on conquest and subjugation, even while we have examples of people living well with other models in their employ.

I have to think we still have kept too much of a stone-age mentality in our actions, even tho' we've shined it up a bit with a plating of Gilded Age opulence. Shiny!

As far as leaving the planet?

Gordo Cooper: (In Australia for John Glenn's first Orbital Flight) HI.







I'M AN...



















- THE RIGHT STUFF Philip Kaufman / Tom Wolfe

but in 'civil' terms, I think we've lost a lot of ground, or missed a lot of our potential, and would truly only be losing a lot of toys, but not necessarily the opportunity to live as really fine human beings in a noble society.

Yep, here, lizard, lizard, lizard... remember the Taco bell commercial with the Chihuahua?


“The lizard brain is hungry, scared, angry, and horny.

The lizard brain only wants to eat and be safe.

The lizard brain will fight (to the death) if it has to, but would rather run away. It likes a vendetta and has no trouble getting angry.

The lizard brain cares what everyone else thinks, because status in the tribe is essential to its survival.

The lizard brain is not merely a concept. It's real, and it's living on the top of your spine, fighting for your survival. But, of course, survival and success are not the same thing.

Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Ahem. Freak conditions?- that lasted for hundreds of millions of years?

And we know that the classic greeks played around with solar energy, and with a little bit of luck could have gone on from there to ruin the planet in some other way than what we are doing at the moment with ff.

Again, it ain't energy or intelligence we lack, it's wisdom.

without fossil fuels you will never get an advanced modern civilization that is at the level we are at.

The above claim is unproveable.

But electricity, NiFe batteries, Stirling Cycle engines, and even knowledge of PV effects existed when gasoline was "new".

A world of electricity via stirings driven by heilostats and PV electrics driving transport was technically possible at the 'start' of the auto age.

In fact, it is possibly easier to DISprove the claim..

The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.
- Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC)

No Fossil Fuels were harmed in the formation of these ideas..

The claim is certainly unproveable conjecture.

But I don't think you disproved it with things like electricity & batteries. We make almost all our electricity with fossil fuels.

A world of electricity with CSP is possible I guess but it would cause the creation of an advanced modern civilization to be created very very slowly. But perhaps that would be a good thing. I think the bigger problem is what happens when that society discovers atomic power. Do they snuff themselves out with atomic war or snuff themselves out with massive overshoot if they develop fusion power?

And being able to make philosophical statements is not what I mean by an advanced modern civilization. I mean a society with computers, electromagnetic communication, space travel, etc. The sort of things that make your advanced society capable of interacting with other species on other planets.

"I simply cannot imagine any scenario where we would limit the fossil fuel we use based on the consequences of carbon in the atmosphere."

You are not the only one;


"Carbon emissions are going to rise quite dramatically in the next 20 to 30 years. At some stage it will need a major crisis in order for the world to get its act together. Hard to say what form that will take. You need something really catastrophic. Hurricane Sandy or Katrina, that's not a big enough crisis. "

Re: How US energy policy fails to address climate change

Another article by Kurt Cobb. He's right (of course), the US doesn't have a direct policy to limit the emissions of Greenhouse Gases. All we have is tinkering around the edges and lots of empty talk. Why? Follow the money...

E. Swanson

A newsreel of the D-Day pipelines:


Oh my, how technology has changed.


Great video, thanks.

HP to unveil 'Project Moonshot'

Today is the day that HP will formally unveil a product upon which a lot of its hopes for transformation and a return to health have been placed. It’s called Project Moonshot, and HP has been talking about it for about 18 months.

Basically, it’s a server, a very small server that consumes very little energy. During a conversation earlier this year, Dave Donatelli, HP’s executive VP and head of its enterprise, showed me one. Smaller than a typical hardcover book, it consumes 89 percent less energy to operate, and takes up 94 percent less space than a typical server. And, when packed into a large rack with many more servers like it, the amount of computing power that can be harnessed in one relatively small place is pretty powerful.

It’s also highly customizable, in a nearly endless series of mix-and-match combinations: It supports Intel’s Atom line of small and light microprocessors, as well as new up-and coming server chips based on designs from the British firm ARM. It can also support graphics processing units from companies like Nvidia, as well as standard hard drives or flash-memory based solid-state storage.

It is evolving towards mainly battery operated or very low power terminal devices on consumer or end-user business premises, with highly efficient server farms in purpose-built data centers. The era of 300-watt PCs and power hungry servers on-premises is over.

This past weekend I freecycled my college PC from roughly 10 years ago. As an engineering student I custom built the whole thing and my roommates and I would always compare our PC "marks" as we called them, in order to see who had built the fastest PC for playing our videogames. That PC had like 6 fans in the case, sounded like a hurricane, would heat my apartment bedroom, and combined with my CRT monitor took up the entire back seat of my car. It was such a PITA to lug all that crap back and forth every semester.

Now it seems so stupid I can't even figure out what was going on in my head when I built it. I recently had a reunion with my roommates to play videogames for the weekend and just took my laptop, it was much easier, and almost as fast. Now even my laptop hardly gets any use since I use my smartphone for just about everything except managing my money.

I'm astonished you found someone who wanted it. You can't pay people to take CRT monitors these days.

The key for freecycle is to bundle something that nobody would want with something that is quite desirable, and make the terms such that the person has to take all or nothing. Works every time.

And they will throw the stuff they don't want in the landfill.

The key being that they throw it into the landfill, so I don't have to.

Which to the rest of us is a distinction without a difference.


It depends on the CRT itself. Some very high end models of the late nineties have far better screen densities and clarity than your average LCD today. The fact that 1280x1024 has been about as good as it gets for 4:3, or worse still, the move to 16:9 aspect ratio "widescreen" (rubbish for browsing or work, good for films) since 2000 is annoying. Some would trade the size and power of an LCD display for a second hand, high res. CRT.

There's also tablets and smartphones working against PCs now. I use a laptop for most things, but get by with a smartphone for more than I ever imagined a few years ago. Goes great with pocket solar chargers.

...the move to 16:9 aspect ratio "widescreen" (rubbish for browsing or work, good for films) since 2000 is annoying.

I admit that I'm old, which I think is why I prefer things that represent some form of paper to have portrait rather than landscape orientation. I find that my 1920x1080 16:9 ratio screen is wide enough to have two "pages" open that don't overlap -- or at least not by much. There are a lot of things that I do where that's helpful. Two independent displays would be even better, but this old Mac Mini won't support dual displays.

My MacBook Pro is 16:10 which is great for media and work or web browsing, and were it not only a 2011 model, I'd love to have a Retina version. I'd probably never need another computer again.

I do that, too, but the real problem with widescreens is that a lot of web pages and software are still not really designed for them. It can cause odd problems, like the text being too small to read. There are various workarounds, but they also cause problems. For a lot of graphics software...if you set Windows so the text is large enough to read, some options (on menus, etc.) might not be available because they're off the screen.

Nothing really wrong with widescreens in and of themselves, it's just that so many things are still designed for low-res monitors.

It's getting worse, IMO, because a lot of web pages, etc. are being re-designed for iPads and their vertical format. That makes for a really bad fit with the horizontal format of a widescreen.

Yair . . . I'm a bulldozer operator and came to computers pretty late . . . and only because I'm writing a novel.

I taught myself to type and realised there was a problem with all that bloody scrolling! It's very difficult to proof read a page and get every space and punctuation mark exactly right if you can't see a whole A4 page.

About three years ago I learnt about portrait mode monitors and have one hooked up to a little lap-top and can view my A4 pages at 120%.

Its amazing how many folks (writers) still don't know you can do this and put up with that scrolling through a page B/S.


The 16:9 format allows a small, but significant reduction in the area of a panel sold as having a given size i.e., the manufacturers can reduce their costs. I like a dual monitor setup, but do find that two 16:10 format monitors are really too wide. I'd prefer 16:10, but to even that, you have to pay big bucks.

Well . . . the hardcore gamer still goes for the desktop with the latest graphics card. Yes, you can do a lot of gaming with laptops and even tablets. But if you want the best performance, the desktop systems are the way to go. But as long as you turn them off when your gaming session is over, their high-power usage is not a big deal.

A RISC based server, really? Mobile phones running a data center. I wonder if they'll be running Android.

Basically an IBM BladeCenter knockoff using cheap chips and more blades per frame. Apparently they've never heard of virtualization. You can take a powerful server and run a scad of "virtual" servers on it - accomplishes the same thing.

Today's announcement is for the Intel® Atom™ Processor S1260 version of the processor blade. This processor is a 2-core, 4-thread, 64-bit, 2 MHz, 1 MB cache with 8.5 Watts max TDP. It supports ECC memory and the Intel Virtualization Technology, so there is no reason to run just one OS instance on this blade. You could run a "scad" of virtual servers on it, although the small cache is likely to limit performance. It is really a server part derived from the Atom low-end laptop and tablet part.



Also, more on the general trend. Pulling the plug on small in-house data centers

ARM and AMD are making a go of the server market it seems. Intel is worried their reliance on high end servers and home PCs will lead to their lunch being eaten when people find it's good enough to just use ARM powered tablets, smartphones or laptops. The smashing of the gigahertz myth and rise of these convenience IT appliances means the game has changed.

And since very few do any real work with the things it really doesn't matter - as with your other post about monitor resolutions. Try doing CAD work on these absurd widescreen things!

It's all about entertainment, social networking and shopping.

I have to say, the LCD world has been a positive shift at my end, and now I'm finding working 17" screens at Goodwill for $15 .. just got one for my Dad's Netbook, so he can have a fully capable computer and media center that takes up the space of a briefcase now..

I've held onto one old 17" crt just in case the flatpanels end up dying early.. but so far, they're holding up well.

Yeah, we're hoarding older 1920x1200 and 1600x1200 LCD's here at work. We've got a couple of 1600x1200 units where the DVI port no longer works but we still run them on VGA. The backlights will give out eventually, but I may replace them.

I've got a laptop with a dead Backlight, and have been eager to strip the screen down and play with a Heliostat that lets me 'daylight' that computer to see how much power can be saved, and how to play with constant daylight beams beamed into the house..

Project #705... alas.

Goto iFixit to see teardowns and repair info for your electronics.

1200 deep is a min to display a piece of paper without scrolling. There were lots of 28" 1920x1200 monitors on the market for low $200's a while back, but now are getting rare. These 2560x1440 are available for around $500. Contrast is stunning and I believe same as Apple's Thunderbolt displays. http://www.amazon.com/Nixeus-Resolution-2560x1440-Monitor-NX-VUE27/dp/B0...

ARM (RISC based) has obviously dominated the ultra-portable market but more interestingly, I think, is IBM with the PowerPC based chips which have absolutely taken over console gaming - the XboX, Playstation, and Wii all use some version of the (RISC based) PowerPC architecture...licensed by IBM but manufactured IIRC by AMD.

Actually...IBM does have a series of Cell and PowerPC based servers - they've already beaten ARM and HP to the punch.

An interesting aside - a number of years ago the gaming world was set abuzz when the DOD decided to buy a few thousand Playstations...


A few years ago, the Department of Defense decided to take the PlayStation-as-a-supercomputer concept a bit more literally. This week, the Condor Cluster was unveiled. Built from 1,760 of Sony’s gaming consoles–the older models, not the new PS3 Slims–the cluster is the most powerful interactive supercomputer available to various of the DoD, as well as one of the top 100 most powerful supercomputers in the world. It will initially be used, according the AFRL, for “neuromorphic artificial intelligence research, synthetic aperture radar enhancement, image enhancement and pattern recognition research.”

One advantage of using smartphone processors would be extremely low power consumption. How important is that factor in determining what’s next in distributed supercomputing technology?

Very important. Size and power constraints on supercomputing systems are a challenge in the Air Force and elsewhere. We think [smartphone processors] are an exiting area, which we’re going to leverage highly when it’s a little more mature. We maybe able to do things that we haven’t even imagined yet.

The Xbox 720 and the Sony PS4 will use AMD System On a Chip processors. These have multiple AMD X86-64 cores and ATI graphics cores on the same chips. The most recent trend has been to put the graphics cores and the CPU cores on the same silicon and exploit the graphic core's large number of simple arithmetic units for more general purposes.

Microsoft's Xbox 720 is "aligned" with Sony's Playstation 4

Probably because of how horrible it was for devs to work with the Cell on the PS3 which was too unique and suffered from having near obsolete GPU architecture slapped on the side of it to cut costs. Microsoft played it a little safer, but also had some quite innovative features in their chipset.

No one has the money to really afford to mess up like the last generation and Ninty have always focused on software over hardware power.

Peak consoles?

Yeah, I think this new low powered server thing is going to be big. HP isn't the only one doing it.

In addition to the power savings, by switching to ARM cores and (presumably) some Linux variant, these new servers don't need to pay Intel or Microsoft. So a set of cheap low-power servers that can be very attractive.

Linux is very common on Intel servers, too. But yeah, Windows is pretty rare on mobile and lower-cost platforms.

The server world pretty much runs on Red Hat (Linux) and AIX (Unix IBM).

Windows managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory...they had a very promising line of Windows mobile operating systems, mostly for PDAs (personal digital assistants if anyone remembers those things - smartphones without the phone) and just as the smart phone market was about to take off they were like "Eh, this stuff will never catch on" and let development die. Then it was like BOOM Blackberry, iOS, Android...and Windows was left in the dust.

I'm probably the least objective (and knowledgeable) person in the room, but I think BlackBerry's QNX operating system is the one to watch.

See: http://www.zdnet.com/blackberry-10-forget-about-the-phone-its-the-os-tha...


QNX has existed for years - I still should have a 286 version somewhere.

Apple and Android are based on UNIX roots - Unix "won" the great platform wars. The more unlocked bootloaders one can 'innovate' with on Android translates to potential new uses not envisioned by the locked down QNX/Microsoft/Apple versions.

Blackberry has a captive audience - so long as they don't try to overmilk their captives, they should be able to make Pecorino Romano for years to come.

Indeed, I've been following its development for several years now.

My Bold 9000 has soldiered on through five years of continuous abuse and still performs flawlessly, whereas the Nokia handsets I had used prior to this would all mysterious die within a year. I don't normally replace anything that still works (hence my nine year old ThinkPad) but I'll be elbowing my way to the front of the line to purchase a Q10 when it's released later this month.

Give me BlackBerry or give me death !


My son at college has a $25 pogoplug, and one of his roommates has another. He also has 2 quadcore towers, and a laptop. But he is trying to become the ultimate game programmer.......

The era of 300-watt PCs and power hungry servers on-premises is over.

And yet 10 meg up/down is over $1000 a month for a quote I'm doing.

So these 'data farms' that will unemployed servers - hows that data going to get there and back?

See Verizon Business FiOS which has 35 meg up / 75 meg down for $99.99 / month.


Cable companies are also offering business internet services. Availability and pricing are obviously better in metro areas, however, that is only appropriate, since areas that can be served using less resources should be priced accordingly.

See Verizon Business FiOS which has 35 meg up / 75 meg down for $99.99 / month.

And this pricing is everywhere?

Even in towns of 1/2 a million people?

If not, the price objection to moving large amounts of data still stands.

(the best price is now $850 via bonded t1's)

I have it in a town of 6000. My daughter has it in a town of 7500.

The hell? Where are you, the Moon? I know Google Fibre isn't going to be ubiquitous any time soon, nor decent 4G without data caps, but in the UK I'm able to get just over 10 meg for about £17.99 a month.

America is horrid for pricing on data. In the State of Confusion where I reside for only $87,000 in campaign contributions 3 Con-gress Kritters got a law passed that states no municipality can set up a communications network. So the old police call boxes that had the copper wire used as pull wires for bundles of glass - unuseable for Google BY STATE LAW!


Yup. Actually, America today is horrible for price on a lot of things: health insurance, prescription drugs, college, housing, etc. It might be more accurate to say we've become a nation where most "regulation" serves to limit competition and ensure the continued dominance of a small handful of cartels/monopolies for the benefit of their wealthy chief shareholders. Land of regulatory capture and home of the greedy.

New from GAO ...

Timely Action Needed to Address Impending Multiemployer Plan Insolvencies

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's (PBGC) financial assistance to multiemployer plans continues to increase, and plan insolvencies threaten PBGC's multiemployer insurance fund's ability to pay pension guarantees for retirees. Since 2009, PBGC's financial assistance to multiemployer plans has increased significantly, primarily due to a growing number of plan insolvencies. PBGC estimated that the insurance fund would be exhausted in about 2 to 3 years if projected insolvencies of either of two large plans occur in the next 10 to 20 years. More broadly, by 2017, PBGC expects the number of insolvencies to more than double, further stressing the insurance fund.

Report: http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653383.pdf

pg 27 - Figure 6: Illustration of the Manner by Which Financial Distress in Multiemployer Plans May Spread to Other Employers and Plans

… a number of plans, including some very large plans, are facing very severe financial difficulties. Many of these plans reported that no realistic combination of contribution increases or allowable benefit reductions—options available under current law to address their financial condition—will enable them to emerge from critical status. As a result, without Congressional action, the plans face the likelihood of eventual insolvency. While the multiemployer system was designed to limit PBGC’s exposure by having employers serve as principal guarantors, PBGC remains the guarantor of last resort.

However, given their current financial challenges, neither the troubled multiemployer plans nor PBGC currently have the flexibility or financial resources to fully mitigate the effects of anticipated insolvencies.

Should a critical mass of plan insolvencies drain the PBGC multiemployer insurance fund, PBGC will not be able to pay either current or future retirees more than a very small fraction of the benefit they were promised. Consequently, a substantial, and in some cases catastrophic, loss of income in old age looms as a real possibility for the hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees depending on these plans.

... Such an option would also significantly compromise one of the key founding principles of ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) — that accrued benefits cannot be reducedessentially rupturing a promise to workers and retirees who have labored for many years, often in dangerous occupations, and in some of the nation’s most vital industries.

see also America’s Dirtiest Coal Company

Refinery Processing Gain
The amount by which total volume of products output is greater than the volume of crude oil and other feed stocks. This difference is due to the processing of crude oil into products that, in total, have lower specific gravity than the crude oil processed. Therefore, in terms of volume, the total output of products is greater than input.

So if the ratio of 'processing gain' to 'crude' was increasing over time, would that be a sign of increasing specific gravity of crude over time? Or a preference for lighter products? Both?

It indicates that the global crude oil supply is getting heavier and heavier (denser and denser). The product mix is about the same as it always was, but there is a substantial density reduction (i.e. volume gain) going from the heavy oil feedstock to the products (primarily gasoline and diesel fuel).

Much of the American refinery feedstock is now Canadian bitumen (aka "tar sands"), which is about as heavy as crude oil gets. Venezuelan extra-heavy, Mexican Mayan heavy, and California Kern River heavy are nearly as dense, but since exports from those two countries and California production have been declining, US refineries have been substituting the even denser Canadian bitumen. This produces a substantial "refinery gain" which the US government accounts for as American oil production even though much of the base heavy oil feedstock comes from other countries.

European refineries do not have this issue of "refinery gain" since they measure crude oil in mass units (tonnes). While the volume changes during processing, the mass remains the same (mass in = mass out).

Just curious RMG--any thoughts on why the API of the crude going into US refineries would be going up (has been going up since 2005) if more and more of the crude is of the extra heavy kind?


Interesting link, EE.

So crude api gravity has trended up about 3% over the last decade or so, but remains below the 1980s average.

Was the high value in the 80s due to heavy onshore US reserves? Prudhoe?
Did it thin in the 90s due to light offshore?

Ron, I am not even close to a refinery expert, and would defer to RMG on those questions, but as you point out, the processing gain has been increasing, yet at the same time, the input has been getting lighter--so what could account for that?

One thought might be that there have been a pile of refinery upgrades in the last few years, and I have read that some refineries are now so complex they can now turn literally all the input into gasoline if they wanted to. So one possibility is that while the crude input has become slightly lighter with time, the ability to turn it all into fuel (processing gains) may have grown even faster.

RMG may have other thoughts on this.

Re my previous post, I was reading the API link from EE incorrectly.
API has an inverse relationship to SG.

And, per wiki, ...

Crude oil is classified as light, medium or heavy, according to its measured API gravity.
Light crude oil is defined as having an API gravity higher than 31.1 °API
Medium oil is defined as having an API gravity between 22.3 °API and 31.1 °API
Heavy crude oil is defined as having an API gravity below 22.3 °API
Extra heavy oil is defined with API gravity below 10.0 °API

So, US crude was getting (slightly) heavier until 2005.
So, where is the lighter crude coming from?
Oil shales? Syncrude? Off-shore?

The average API gravity of crude oil going into refineries was 32.64 in January 1985 and was 31.14 in January 2013. API is an INVERTED density scale (lower numbers = higher density) so the density of crude oil has been increasing.

The lighter "crude oil" is actually condensate from the "shale oil" or "shale gas" plays. The heaviest crude oil is actually crude bitumen from Canada. Mix them together and you get a dumbbell-shaped density curve which has a lot of the lighter components and a lot of the heavier components, but not much of the intermediate components which constitute most of, e.g. West Texas Intermediate.

The key factor is that the heavy oil refineries don't have a lot of use for the condensate so they fractionate it out of the feedstock and ship it to Canada to dilute bitumen. They take the heavier components, crack them into light and intermediate components, and turn them into gasoline and diesel fuel. They sell most of the gasoline in the US but ship a lot of the diesel fuel to Europe.

"so the density of crude oil has been increasing."

Not be be picky, RMG, but if you looked at the link, since 2005 the density of oil going into US refineries has gotten LESS. Of course, if we are going to relate things back to 1985 ...!

On the other hand, as far as I know, there is no way to know what the density (API) of the crude going into refineries world wide is, so you could well be right there, although there again, as a sample size of the world's crude oil use, 20%-25% isn't a bad sample size.

The density reduction since 2005 is probably the result of increased volumes of condensate going into American refineries because of increased "shale gas" production. Gas wells generally produce condensate instead of oil, and companies are preferentially developing the parts of the shale gas plays that are rich in liquids. The problem with that is that the refineries really don't need that much condensate, so much of it is going to other uses, e.g. exported to Canada to use as diluent for heavy oil and bitumen transportation.

At the same time, production has been declining in Venezuela and Mexico, which are the source of much of the US refinery feedstock, and Canadian heavy oil and bitumen has not been able to reach the big heavy oil refineries on the US Gulf Coast due to pipeline limitations.

This isn't the case in the rest of the world because the "shale gas" and "shale oil" boom is largely confined to the US. Most likely refineries are running more and more heavy oil because that is what is left after the light oil has been produced. The supply of Arab light is shrinking, so refineries are forced to use the less desirable Arab heavy.

Ron, in case you missed the discussion here on the amount of condensate coming from the Eagle Ford, here is a link that might help to explain some of it:

Heavier crude and increased comsumption of natural gas in the hydrocracking units..

The availability of cheap natural gas gives US refineries a competitive edge over nearly everybody else. Hence in the increased exports of refined products.

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

FutureGen: A Brief History and Issues for Congress

Congressional interest in CCS technology centers on balancing the competing national interests of fostering low-cost, domestic sources of energy like coal against mitigating the effects of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. FutureGen would address these interests by demonstrating CCS technology.

Among the challenges to the development of FutureGen 2.0 are rising costs of production, ongoing issues with project development, lack of incentives for investment from the private sector, time constraints, and competition with foreign nations.

Remaining challenges to FutureGen’s development include securing private sector funding to meet increasing costs, purchasing the power plant for the project, obtaining permission from DOE to retrofit the plant, performing the retrofit, and then meeting the goal of 90% capture of CO2.

The public-private partnership has been criticized for leading to setbacks in FutureGen’s development, since the private sector lacks incentives to invest in costly CCS technology.

Regulations, tax credits, or policies such as carbon taxation or cap-and-trade that increase the price of electricity from conventional power plants may be necessary to make CCS technology competitive enough for private sector investment. Even then, industry may choose to forgo coal-fired plants for other sources of energy that emit less CO2, such as natural gas.

... critics of the proposed rule have expressed concern over the loss of American competitiveness in a global market not subject to similar regulations. These critics point to China’s increasing CO2 emissions and argue that Chinese industries will surpass American industries in productive competitiveness and that this will lead to American companies outsourcing jobs and production.

Delays in FutureGen’s project development may have made full-scale demonstration of CCS technology by 2015—the year that federal stimulus funding for FutureGen expires—difficult to accomplish.

also Drones in Domestic Surveillance Operations: Fourth Amendment Implications and Legislative Responses

This report assesses the use of drones under the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness.

A reviewing court’s determination of the reasonableness of a drone search would likely be informed by location of the search, the sophistication of the technology used, and society’s conception of privacy in an age of rapid technological advancement.

While individuals can expect substantial protections against warrantless government intrusions into their homes, the Fourth Amendment offers less robust restrictions upon government surveillance occurring in public places including areas immediately outside the home, such as in driveways or backyards.

and Integration of Drones into Domestic Airspace: Selected Legal Issues

... In the past, the Latin maxim cujus est solum ejus est usque ad coelum (for whoever owns the soil owns to the heavens) was sufficient to resolve many of these types of questions, but the proliferation of air flight in the 20th century has made this proposition untenable.

Scientists find mysterious giant pockmarks on Chatham Rise

New Zealand, German and American scientists have found what may be the world's biggest pockmarks on the seafloor of the Chatham Rise about 500km east of Christchurch.

Three giant pockmarks, the largest being 11km by 6km in diameter and 100m deep, are possibly twice the size of the largest pockmarks recorded in scientific literature. Scientists believe they are the ancient remnants of vigorous degassing from under the seafloor into the ocean.

They are part of a much larger field of many thousands of smaller pockmarks which extend eastward along the Chatham Rise for several hundred kilometres from Banks Peninsula. This vast field covers an estimated 20,000km of seafloor.

"The pockmark features are covered by complex layers of more recent sediment," Dr Bialas said. Gas release from the larger pockmarks may have been sudden and possibly even violent, with a massive volume being expelled into the ocean and atmosphere within hours or days.

This is the sort of thing that makes me think catastrophic AGW/CC/CC2 (Climate Chaos) is way closer on the horizon than generally believed. Guess it comes from having read Peter Ward's Under a Green Sky not that long ago. There was a good discussion on CC and extinctions on the April 3 DB.

When I viewed the PhyOrg site a few minutes ago one of the related links was to Understanding Methane's Seabed Escape which gives some additional background.

I'm not sure there's really enough data to be able to say anything definitively, but it sure seems to me we're driving very quickly towards releasing very large amounts of this stuff very, very quickly.

Here's to hoping I'm overreacting. ;)

From the article:

"The pockmark features are covered by complex layers of more recent sediment," Dr Bialas said.Gas release from the larger pockmarks may have been sudden and possibly even violent, with a massive volume being expelled into the ocean and atmosphere within hours or days.

Being covered by more recent sediments implies that these are somewhat old features. It would be most interesting to grab a core and try to date the oldest layer covering the pockmarks. The pockmarks would have to be older than the oldest sediment covering them.

"Gas escape could be occurring from the smaller pockmarks during glacial intervals every 20,000 or 100,000 years," said Dr Pecher, who has a Marsden research grant to investigate gas systems under the seafloor of the Chatham Rise.

This would also suggest they are not related to recent warming. Sea level was significantly lower during times of widespread glaciation, which would mean lower pressure at the sea floor, with effects on hydrate stability.

I guess I wasn't thinking of their age, per se, but rather as their potential to be evidence of the type of mechanism which might be involved in a fairly sudden, unpleasant release of methane on a very large scale. Given the apparent warming of the Arctic and the loss of summer sea ice, and the noted evidence of methane release there, particularly off the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, I'm wondering if there is any potential for this type of rapid, nearly explosive release to occur in the reasonably near future.

I certainly don't know, but I found the idea a bit disturbing, to say the least.

Yes, I think there certainly is potential that warming seas could lead to more hydrates to burp methane into the atmosphere. That's why I think it is important to understand how common it has been prior to human caused warming. It clearly has happened before, but how much and how fast (in the global sense)? We need to understand that before we can understand how much global warming will increase it, and how rapidly it will happen. The oceans are warming, but sea level is also rising. How do those variabales interact?

Good points.
There have been a succession of glaciations over the last million or more years when ocean level was lower by 120 to 130m.

Warming pulses and cooling episodes in the arctic sea margins over the same cycles caused either, respecively, methane to be released from the hydrate or to be sequestered as hydrate. There is always methane originating from deep buried deposits of very ancient hydrocarbon.

It is likely that there have been gas hydrates continuously for the last 100s of millions years.
I tried to cover some of this in a guest post at Ugo bardi's blog last year.

UK fuel sales plummet as motorists embrace efficiency

Forecourts in the UK have seen the volume of fuel they sell fall significantly over the past five years with sales of petrol dropping more than 20 per cent as oil prices have climbed and motorists have switched to more efficient vehicles.

New research from the AA released this morning shows that total sales of petrol and diesel from supermarket and non-supermarket forecourts fell from 37.6bn litres in 2007 to 34.2bn litres last year.

The data also reveals a shift in the fuel mix. Sales of petrol fell drastically from 22.9bn litres to 17.4bn litres, while an increase in sales of more fuel efficient diesel vehicles and the trend towards corporate fleets purchasing fuel from forecourts meant sales of diesel rose from 14.8bn to 16.7bn.

The AA said that total fuel court fuel sales had now fallen 9.3 per cent since 2007, meaning retailers had effectively lost 35 days of sales since the credit crunch.

also Diesel supply risk for fleets

Fleets are increasingly at the mercy of international traders and global events as North Sea oil reserves shrink, suggests the RAC Foundation.

In 2001, the UK's high oil production meant that the country could export 40% of what it produced, but a decade later and it is importing 32% of the fuel it uses.

The changing face of oil and fuel production is revealed in research on the UK oil and fuel markets produced for the RAC Foundation by Deloitte, the business advisory firm.

The work by Deloitte shows that:

• In the past decade the number of UK oil refineries has fallen from nine to seven and of those which remain, all but one has been up for sale within the past three years
• As North Sea oil reserves decline, international treaties will obligate the UK to hold much greater reserves of both oil and refined products and will require significant investment in storage facilities
• In the UK, 75% of all petroleum products are consumed by the transport sector.

Forecourts in the UK have seen the volume of fuel they sell fall significantly over the past five years with sales of petrol dropping more than 20 per cent as oil prices have climbed and motorists have switched to more efficient vehicles.

I wonder how much of the drop is due to actually increased fuel efficiency of the UK cars and light trucks fleet and how much of the drop is due to actual less miles driven on UK roads (demand destruction).

My guess would be that the factors behind dropping fuel consumption in the UK probably mirror the factors here in the US, as Gail covered on her blog a couple of months back(http://ourfiniteworld.com/2013/01/31/why-is-us-oil-consumption-lower-bet...). The primary factor being demand destruction due to high prices and economic recession with a secondary factor being the increased efficiency of the automobile fleet.

I recently updated the prototype JODI databrowser to look at issues like this.

Here is the "refined product plot" for Gasoline fore the UK:

As this data is for a refined product, production implies production of gasoline at UK refineries regardless of the source of crude input to the refinery.

The one thing I wanted to point out is that the decline in UK consumption of gasoline has been almost perfectly linear since the beginning of this data series in 2002 -- well before the financial crisis. We can also see the recent dip in refinery output described in the quote.

So I would guess that efficiency is the driving factor over the last 10 years. How else can you explain what happened between 2002 and 2008 when the economy was booming?

Happy Exploring!


Very interesting Jon. Thanks for sharing.

Efficiency does indeed appear to be the driving factor behind the reduction in consumption. Looking at those charts in isolation you wouldn't even be able to tell that there was a huge global financial crisis back in 08.

I need to go find some data on aggregate UK miles driven per year for the last decade and perhaps per capita miles driven per year. Curious how those figures stack up with this fuel consumption data.

Peak Beach

Efficiency does indeed appear to be the driving factor behind the reduction in consumption

Especially if you equate efficiency with leaving the car at home...

Best hopes for fewer miles driven!


I was going to put the highlights but the data is all over the place. I don't think the information here supports the idea that people are driving less though.

Still that's good, it means there is still room for improvement in terms of "just not using the car".

Efficiency does indeed appear to be the driving factor behind the reduction in consumption. Looking at those charts in isolation you wouldn't even be able to tell that there was a huge global financial crisis back in 08.

I am curious as to how efficient for the UK economy it has been, i.e. whether GDP has remained steady, declined or risen?

From personal experience

2002 Both cars 2.9L V6 20mpg total 20,000 miles pa
2004 Switch to 1.2L compact and 1.5L DCi both average 45mpg same annual milage
2012 Eco 1.2L compact (55mpg) and 1.9L DCi (50mpg)

The Euro ECO2 specification adds 25% to economy (lighter car, retuned for lower performance) and the bigger diesel allows for 6th gear.Miles per year stays the same but fuel consumption down 50% .. same the price rises mean overall fuel cost remains the same.

This is interesting and surprising, my cars, ALL MEASURED MPG FILL TO FILL:

1/ Austin Maestro 1.3l PETROL 38mpg (1985)
2/ Proton 1.5GL Petrol 35mpg (1987)
3/ Nissan Primera MK2 35mpg (1997)
4/ Renault Laguna 2.0 direct injction petrol 31mpg (2002)
5/ Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCI diesel 41mpg (2005 - present)

28 years from start to end and a 3mpg difference. BUT// when I was filling my first car is was costing me around 35p/litre. It nbow costs me 135p/litre!!!!!


There have been significant reductions in engine fuel consumption to move a unit weight a set distance over this time period but this isn't apparent in vehicle fuel consumption because vehicles have gotten heavier. The Austin Maestro had a curb weight between 875 and 1071kg. The Ford Mondeo has a curb weight around 1500kg. If we could undo all the things that have driving up vehicle weight we would see a significant reduction in fuel consumption.

If you took a modern subcompact, stripped out the soundproofing, interior plastic panels, airbags, audio system, catalytic converter, air conditioning, gas tank pressurization and other anti-pollution gear, power windows, brakes, and steering, you could probably get pretty good gas mileage.

Easier to reprogram the engine management and reduce power to save fuel. Euro ECO2 spec cars feel dead and under powered compared to the previous generation, many are lighter but slower of the mark.

But for the UK a sizable part of this decrease in gasoline is also probably due to switching to diesel vehicle, and indeed the diesel consumption apeears to be increasing on the same period :

One would need a combined "gasoline+diesel" item for the overall picture.

And thanks for pointing out this new data browser, already using your oil and gas one as my default, for countries energy overlook ! :)


Overlook? I think you meant overview. To overlook is to neglect, to miss something. I know English isn't your first language; I'm trying to learn Italian and I don't know either of these words!

overview: la panoramica
overlook: trascurare

Yes you are right, thanks, gracie mille :)
(in fact knew it was wrong when typing it ...)

Among the wondrous legacies of Maggie Thatcher is the near destruction of the British Rail system with privatization from which it is still suffering. Therefore unlike Germany, France and most of Continental Europe which has robust and well supported Green public transit options which have allowed people to use Green public transit instead of driving cars, the UK is much more constrained in that transition. Of course, like the crown Prince of Auto Addiction, the US, UK driving is declining as it is just less and less affordable with increased fuel prices and decreased incomes due to bankster imposed austerity.

Yes... mass transit is one area best served by public entity, responding to voters.

Roadways are similar; the selling of roadways to private entities is a mistake. And, in Chicago, they made another error in selling their parking meters to a private party (which immediately increased fees to unaffordable levels for most).

Just a few additional public functions: water, power (though most is privatized, it should at least be seriously regulated), medical services, fire and police functions. All of these involve situations where allowing corporations control gives them the means to make the users "an offer you cannot afford to refuse." And, in every case I know of, when unregulated the corporations do exactly that!

Shock and awe, they call it!


Gazprom Neft and Shell to team up to drill for Arctic oil

Russia has been looking for a foreign partnership in order to be able to develop the Arctic. A deal between Gazprom Neft and Shell would be seen as a success in the Kremlin’s effort to open up Russia's hard-to-recover energy reserves to international partners, who possess technology, funds and experts.

Within the joint project Gazprom Neft and Shell will cooperate on developing shale oil deposits in the Urals (the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area) and offshore blocks in the Russian Arctic.

Such projects are complicated, require massive investment and need technology that may not yet exist. No country could cope with such a mission alone,” Nezavisimaya Daily quotes Konstantin Simonov, Executive Director at the National Energy Security Fund, adding that the Dutch partnership would be essential for Russia.

Some experts are skeptical and say that agreements even if reached and signed could remain on paper for quite a long time and eventually frozen. They stress that for now, projects in the Arctic remain unprofitable with the current technologies which will hold back foreign investors.

So much for free press and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution ...

Reporters Say Exxon Is Impeding Spill Coverage in Arkansas

Reporters covering the oil spill from ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas, are reporting that they've been blocked from the site and threatened with arrest.

On Friday morning, Inside Climate News reported that an Exxon spokesperson told reporter Lisa Song that she could be "arrested for criminal trespass" when she went to the command center to try to find representatives from the EPA and the Department of Transportation. On Friday afternoon, I spoke to the news director from the local NPR affiliate who said he, too, had been threatened with arrest while trying to cover the spill.

...It was less than 90 seconds before suddenly the sheriff's deputies started yelling that all the media people had to leave, that ExxonMobil had decided they don't want you here, you have to leave. They even referred to it as "Exxon Media"…Some reporters were like, "Who made this decision? Who can we talk to?" The sheriff's deputies started saying, "You have to leave. You have 10 seconds to leave or you will be arrested."

also Exxon's Unfriendly Skies: Why Does Exxon Control the No-Fly Zone Over Arkansas Tar Sands Spill?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has had a "no fly zone" in place in Mayflower, Arkansas since April 1 at 2:12 PM and will be in place "until further notice," according to the FAA website and it's being overseen by ExxonMobil itself. In other words, any media or independent observers who want to witness the tar sands spill disaster have to ask Exxon's permission.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette revealed that the FAA site noted earlier today that "only relief aircraft operations under direction of Tom Suhrhoff" were allowed within the designated no fly zone.

Suhrhoff is NOT an FAA employee: he works for ExxonMobil as an "Aviation Advisor" and formerly worked as a U.S. Army pilot for 24 years, according to his LinkedIn page.

related ... Monsanto Protection Act put GM companies above the federal courts

Monsanto and the US farm biotech industry wield legendary power. A revolving door allows corporate chiefs to switch to top posts in the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies; US embassies around the world push GM technology onto dissenting countries; government subsidies back corporate research; federal regulators do largely as the industry wants; the companies pay millions of dollars a year to lobby politicians; conservative thinktanks combat any political opposition; the courts enforce corporate patents on seeds; and the consumer is denied labels or information.

But even people used to the closeness of the US administration and food giants like Monsanto have been shocked by the latest demonstration of the GM industry's political muscle. Little-noticed in Europe or outside the US, President Barack Obama last week signed off what has become widely known as "the Monsanto Protection Act", technically the Farmer Assurance Provision rider in HR 933: Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2013

... According to an array of food and consumer groups, organic farmers, civil liberty and trade unions and others, this hijacks the constitution, sets a legal precedent and puts Monsanto and other biotech companies above the federal courts. It means, they say, that not even the US government can now stop the sale, planting, harvest or distribution of any GM seed, even if it is linked to illness or environmental problems.

... all hail our corporate overlords [on penalty of death]

Private Empire

ExxonMobil and American Power

Steve Coll

Winner of the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2012

An “extraordinary” and “monumental” exposé of Big Oil from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Coll (The Washington Post)

In Private Empire Steve Coll investigates the largest and most powerful private corporation in the United States, revealing the true extent of its power. ExxonMobil’s annual revenues are larger than the economic activity in the great majority of countries. In many of the countries where it conducts business, ExxonMobil’s sway over politics and security is greater than that of the United States embassy. In Washington, ExxonMobil spends more money lobbying Congress and the White House than almost any other corporation. Yet despite its outsized influence, it is a black box.

Worth reading (again)!

So it turns out the rights, laws and constitutional guarantees are not inviolate laws of nature, rather just things society has agreed upon, although it is easy to forget that when times are good. In fact society can change its mind, or those rules can be usurped by those with enough power to do so. When times are difficult and there is not enough to go around, well then things may have to be stretched a bit here and there - all for the greater good, you see.

Two things.

One, I find it highly ironic that the politicians who claim rights come from God and are non mutable are of course the same ones that push for crap like this.

And two, the last article in the parent's post is understated in his post, it's not just another power grab. It's an end game move. It elevates corporations to the level of nation states in that they are now considered sovereign.

For example when that goes into place, wall-mart can say. Your labor laws(as in the united states) infringes on our future profits, thus we will use the international court and the world bank to pressure you to exempt us. In the same way, say France can tell Cambodia their rules don't apply to them. So it's less a trade deal, and more a forfeiture of sovereignty and governmental power to artificial constructs who's only purpose is to maximize monetary gain for a 'few'.

I had expected corporate Feudalism to replace the nation state, just not 'this' fast.

Your last point is interesting, and had escaped me for the moment. I am not too worried about our present system transitioning smoothly into an airtight corporate feudalism, or such things as police states. I'm sure both will happen and be sustained for a time in some places, but large and complex organizations require a lot of energy to sustain and I think none will survive the chaos that is coming for long.

Some sort of feudalism may well be what emerges eventually, but it will take some time to coalesce, and it is not at all clear what existing structures future bases of power will derive from.

Still, it's a interesting part of the story and will be something to watch.

"...or such things as police states"

Where have you been the last decade?


Indoor garden? SWAT Raid. Late on your mortgage? SWAT. Give a couple pain meds to someone? Killed by SWAT. Medical cannabis? SWAT. Police pretending to be drug dealers shoot a homeowner who tried to scare them away. SWAT teams sent in to do a search for non-violent offenses.

Just do a search for "militarization of police" and you'll come up with more articles than you know what to do with. There are small "Mayberry" towns getting APCs and automatic weapons from Homeland Security grants. Warrant-less wiretapping. "Stop and Frisk" in clear violation of Illegal search and seizure.

One of the few things the US is actually #1 at is imprisoning people.


"The U.S. is paying to have more than 2.3 million people behind bars. That's more than China, more than Iran -- more than any country on Earth," the video's narrator notes. When you also consider that half our prison population is behind bars for non-violent crimes, and that our prison budget has swelled to an astonishing $228 billion a year... well, you get the idea."

Care to reconsider the state of the US police state? (and yet another large pile of cash that could be going towards building renewable energy instead of making people miserable)

When the conviction rate is over 95% - is that a police state or just really, really good law enforcement and DA's?

If only one could ask someone who was under the tender mercy of the State and ask them like Aaron Hillel Swartz and what they think.

And in Milwaukee WI they are keeping it classy!

For more than six months, federal agents relied on Chauncey Wright to promote "Fearless Distributing" by handing out fliers as he rode his bike around town recommending the store to friends, family and strangers, according to federal prosecutors and family members.

Wright, unaware that the store was an undercover operation being run by agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, also stocked shelves with shoes, clothing, drug paraphernalia and auto parts, according to his family.

Once authorities shut down the operation, they charged the 28-year-old man with federal gun and drug counts.

"I have never heard of anything so ludicrous in my life," said Greg Thiele, who spent 30 years working for the Milwaukee Police Department including on undercover stings with federal agents, including those with the ATF. "Something is very wrong here."

And the AG's and city and county officials cannot even say that they are sorry when SWAT teams burst into the wrong address and kill innocent grandmothers and grandfathers. For a little sulfuric acid in the wound they then tie everything in knots in the civil court system to limit and slow payments to the bereaved.

There is becoming very little difference between certain segments of thepolice in the US and the worst of the NKVD or the security apparatus of the National Socialists.

There can be differences, but the police tactics is in a flow towards the military goal of full spectrum dominance from CcubedI to crowd control. An integral part of this is rapid escalation to percieved threats.

Another portion is "interoperability". The DHS largesse yields a standardized set of technology that can be utilized via interagency teams from the State Trooper level, DCI, FBI or even US military cooperation/involvement/control.

Just google JV2020 or Joint Vision 2020. Although it is a bit dated, more than a few of the military goals laid out there appear to be starting to be implemented at the civil police level.

What is the difference between an instance of 8-13 years olds out gathering wood cut to shreds from the air by 60 calibre slugs and months of denial and then menial compensation in Afghanistan and an instance of a grandparent's body riddled by a SWAT team in Atlanta, or any of several other cities where no one takes the blame for the faulty address used and compensation takes years to happen.

The tactics, skill sets and outcome seem quite similar between the military and the civilian police in a comparasion of these 2 examples.

UC Research Examines Corporate Communications in the ‘Gilded Age’ of Free Speech

Blevins’ presentation, titled “Historical Amnesia in First Amendment Jurisprudence on Corporate Power and Electronic Media,” suggests that recent decisions from the nation’s highest court have “allowed corporations’ power to speak to become even greater than that of human citizens.”

“In a bygone era, the U.S. Supreme Court had once predicated commercial speech rights on the public’s right to receive information, and also understood the need to limit corporate speech – even in the political arena – in the interest of protecting the integrity of the public’s electoral process,” says Blevins. “However, the court’s most recent decisions have dramatically extended power under the First Amendment and have marked a new, gilded age of free speech.”

Blevins suggests the rulings indicate that the court actions imply that more speech is better, yet Blevins emphasizes that the First Amendment was written at a time when only humans, not corporations, were doing the communicating. “The real value of commercial speech resides in the receiver’s interest and not the speaker’s. It is the interest of humans to receive information that is more important than the speaker’s self-interest,” writes Blevins.

“Through the evolution of Supreme Court jurisprudence, it seems that corporations’ limited right to speak to serve the people has become an interest superior to that of the people it purports to serve,” concludes Blevins.

Arkansas oil spill could be almost 300,000 gallons, video shows oil in wetland (UPDATES)

... Austin Vela, the EPA spokesman at the spill site, said the agency stands by its 4,000 to 7,000 barrel estimate. When asked why those higher numbers aren't being included in the daily press releases issued by the joint command of the cleanup operation, Vela did not respond. The joint command includes five EPA employees as well as ExxonMobil officials.

... Exxon says it shut down the pipeline within 16 minutes of detecting a pressure drop last Friday afternoon. The line continued to leak for 12 hours as it lost pressure, according to the PHMSA corrective action order. Two valves 18 miles apart were shut to isolate the leaking section of pipe.

If full, the 20-inch pipe would contain about 36,000 barrels of oil, or more than 1.5 million gallons.

While much attention has been given to the homes of the evacuated residents that are getting new lawns, the activist group, Tar Sands Blockade, has members on the ground in Mayflower risking arrest to show the public areas even local media have not seen, such as this "dumping ground" in the wetlands near the spill site. Tar Sands Blockade says they've heard reports that "because Exxon had already partially destroyed this wetland, they pumped diluted bitumen spilled in other areas here to get it all in one place and keep it out of sight of the media."

So much for free press and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution ...
Reporters Say Exxon Is Impeding Spill Coverage in Arkansas

While I loves me a good and righteous rant - 2 problems:

1) The things like the First Amendment cover how GOVERNMENT can act. Reporters Say Exxon Is Impeding Spill Coverage - that is not Government action, its Exxon.
2) Free Press? Ain't no such thing. Never was, but on paper.

The following remarks were apparently made by John Swinton in 1880, then the preeminent New York journalist, probably one night in during that same year. Swinton was the guest of honour at a banquet given him by the leaders of his craft. Someone who knew neither the press nor Swinton offered a toast to the independent press. Swinton outraged his colleagues by replying:

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.

"There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.

"The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

"We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

(Source: Labor's Untold Story, by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais, published by United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, NY, 1955/1979.)

Let's Not Bet The Farm

How should we – not just the farmers but all of us, in Britain and worldwide – respond to the report from Wales that sheep are dying by the hundreds in snowdrifts up to 20 feet deep?

We could just apply the logic of the neoliberal free market, and do whatever seems cheapest. Then – as Britain came within a whisker of doing under Tony Blair – we would probably let all our farming go the way of our mining, since others can grow food (or dig out coal) much more cheaply than we can, and we can always buy whatever we need on the world market.

... Or, although this would be a huge departure, we could get serious.

The capital investment in sheep sheds would be huge, of course

There is probably enough scrap around to put up some small roofs on with a wall on the north in several places to get the critters time to hunker down and wait for the melt and some food that is not buried. These storms come in late March and early April in many places in the northern hemisphere. Long term I think the sheep farmers in Wales will have a better time than the ones in Australia.

What happened to that global warming they were promising us? Global warming results in sheep being buried 20 feet deep in snowdrifts in Wales? Global warming has been renamed "climate change" because none of the scientists knows what the heck is going on?

I'm sitting here in the Canadian Rockies looking out at the newfallen snow on the ground. I was hoping to get my bicycle out and start riding around, but it looks like it might be a while longer before I can do that. It's April, by the way.

I was anxious in anticipation of getting in more hiking due to global warming, and now it looks like we're going to get a longer skiing season instead. We've already been skiing for six months this winter (and fall and spring) and everybody is getting tired of it. Since when did global warming result in global cooling? I think the scientists have got their theories mixed up.

When It Rains, It Pours: Study Confirms Climate Change Will Keep Driving More Intense Precipitation

By Ryan Koronowski on Apr 7, 2013 at 10:15 am

Climate change will bring more and more extreme precipitation events this century.

A new study from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center confirms what climate scientists have long been saying about climate change’s effect on the hydrological cycle.

If you are not familiar with this term, you are certainly familiar with what it describes. As the sun warms the earth, water evaporates from oceans, lakes, and rivers, which then form clouds that produce rain and snow. More evaporation happens when the ocean and the air is warmer, which has been happening steadily for some time.

Friends shouldn't let friends deny climate change!

Inadvertent climate change was the original phrase.

Global warming seems to have been chosen later because it sounded better and WAS the underlying problem. Also the biggest fear at the time was probably the icecaps melting.

Now we know more about what's really happening, we have switched back to climate change. Although it does make it look like scientists are flip flopping, that's kind of the point of science. New data = update to knowledge.

You need to move north to get the warm weather. Iqaluit, Nunavut had above normal temperatures for much of March and all of April so far. There were even a couple of days in March where they were warmer or the same as us in Ottawa, thousands of kilometers to the south!

Hopefully the Rockies will warm up by July as my wife and I are planning to do a backcountry hiking trip, perhaps into Assiniboine Provincial Park.

The Rockies have already had some warm periods. July is a very good time to visit, though.

Winter Is Finally Releasing Its Chilly Grip on the U.S.

Published: April 3rd, 2013, Last Updated: April 3rd, 2013

As Climate Central has reported, the long-lasting cold was related to a strong blocking High pressure system over Greenland, which was associated with a particular configuration of an atmospheric pressure pattern known as the Arctic Oscillation, or AO. The AO is a measure of the difference in relative air pressure between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes, and the configuration of air pressure patterns can have profound impacts on weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere.

During March, the AO hit rock bottom.

When the AO index is in its “negative” phase, air pressure over the Arctic is higher than average, while pressure over the mid-latitudes is relatively low, and prevailing winds allow extremely cold air to spill out of the Arctic, as if opening the Northern Hemisphere's refrigerator door.

Note the big red welt where the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Greenland are.

I take it this graph is one of temperature anomaly, in wich case this answears my question during this the coldest march since my childhood: where did the heat go? And the answear is Greenland. Wich missed out on cold and thus store less coldness in its top layers. Could add towards a stronger melt season this year.

I think you are missing the basic point. Global Warming isn't going to be evenly layered on top of the historical temperatures like an extra blanket. The atmospheric circulation will change as well and that could result in more extremes in weather from day-to-day. The steady loss of sea-ice at the end of the Arctic summer will change the thermodynamics of the entire climate system, with results which are still difficult to discern. As the circulation changes, some regions may cool during part of the year, while others experience greater heating.

Then too, there's the oceans' thermohaline circulation (THC), which causes a massive transfer of energy from the tropics toward the Arctic in the North Atlantic sector. Most model experiments forecast a reduction in the strength of the THC, as the Nordic Seas become less dense as more fresh water is added to the surface. The result is a slowing or stopping of the THC sinking, with major changes in the local climate as a consequence.

Furthermore, the climate system includes considerable inertia and the warmth in the atmosphere is slowly penetrating the oceans. It's been said that the delay between the addition of greenhouse gases and the climate response may be as long as 30 years. For example, measurements have shown that it takes 70 years for the bottom waters of the Atlantic to flow from north to south and in the Pacific, the time for the northward flow approaches 600 years. Roughly 72% of the Earth is covered by oceans, with a much greater percentage in the Southern Hemisphere.

Humanity is like a little kid playing with fire: we are likely to get burned...

E. Swanson

That is right. Winds (and currents) are driven by differences in temperature. As the world warms up, those differences will change, and with that, wind patterns. Thus, temps are changing different locally.

That's interesting. I found myself in the Canadian Rockies last week and it was extremely warm, warmer in fact than it was in the DC area near my home. Everybody was talking about how strange it was to be so warm so early (I believe the term record-highs was even bandied about by the news). The snow was melting very quickly, it made for difficult snowshoeing. I actually wore only a t-shirt and windbreaker pants for my hike into the mountains. Even at 8100ft the temps were in the 60s. It was cooler by the time I left on Thursday (still above freezing), but the warm temps were definitely a nice break from the colder mid-atlantic weather.

Criticizing global warming by looking at the snow in your yard is like trying to debunk PO by looking at the Bakken production, that too from a single well for a single day.

I was almost thinking this was sarcasm, then I saw it was going for an awful lot of words without any sarcasm marker, so then I face palmed.

I really don't want to upset Leanan with going on a climate change tangent (it's also kinda hilarious you mentioned the "They call it climate change now instead" thing without realising the terms have been used interchangeably for the best part of a century), but really, what, exactly, do you think global warming entails? Hint: warming, globally.

Snow in winter does not constitute falsification of AGW no more than sunshine in summer proves it. In fact, heavy precipitation is an expected result of increased thermal inertia in the system. The reason for the cold winter lasting longer in west Europe and the easten US seaboard, is because the Arctic is melting at an astonishing rate. The stratospheric heating going on also kept the cold air normally in the Arctic zone decidedly further south, and because of Rossby waves in the jet stream losing their momentum of late, it remained like this for prolonged periods of time.

When you leave a freezer door open in summer, what happens? The room floods with cold air. At least, until the point that the freezer loses all its ice. And then it heats up VERY quickly. The Arctic is our freezer.

Being farther south, Denver has already had quite a few days that were beautiful for cycling. OTOH, we're looking at a 6-12 inch snow "event" for tonight and tomorrow. Blizzard conditions out on the plains to the east.

The majority of the computer climate models seem to forecast increased fall, winter, and spring precipitation for your neck of the woods. But not enough warmer for it to be rain rather than snow.

What happened to that global warming they were promising us?

Clif High pointed out that book author Asimov stated there is a 2 year cycle on how cold weather "breaks" in the Northern Hemisphere. Right now the cycle broke towards Russia. Which should mean the next couple of winters in the future that break would go to the US of A and therefore England would be warmer.

Such assumes that there is a cycle - but knowledge of such is outside my wheelhouse and I mention it to get the climate centeric TODers to comment.


Are you a look out the window to determine if there's global warming sort of guy?

I look at a few things beside my immediate surroundings: the Arctic ice disappearing (volume specifically), the 336 straight months of global surface temperature above the 20th century average, the warming of the deep oceans, the undeniable increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Of course, life is a series of probabilities, so perhaps we can emit unlimited greenhouse gases and feel no effects.

Maybe you were joking?

Well, yes I am joking, but no, not really. I am getting sick and tired of people telling us we are all going to die of global warming, when I can look out the window and see everything covered with snow. Sheep in Wales are dying in 20 foot deep snowdrifts, Denver airport is knee deep in snow, and I can't walk the dog because the snow is too deep. It's crisis after crisis, but I'm not seeing excessive heat at the moment.

Local weather effects are completely random and will always overwhelm global trends. I'm not sure it is a big deal if global temperatures change by a fraction of a degree per decade when the temperature in my back yard can change 20 degrees Celsius in an hour. Our ancestors survived "catastrophic climate change" in prehistory, as the BBC documentaries say, and I'm sure we can do the same.

However, other than the local weather, there is this item in the Economist (March 30, 2013, p77):

Over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth's surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO2 put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the chief of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade."

It's the "Broken Hockey Stick" curve we are seeing. The rest of the article is very interesting, too, because it is rather obvious that there is no consensus among scientists about what is going to happen. Many people try to insist that they all predict the same thing, but in reality their theories are all over the temperature prediction map.

I'm more worried about the mountain lion that has been stalking dog walkers lately here in this mountain town. When I take my dog out for his walk, he or me might become cat food. It's happened to a number of dogs, but no people so far. I'll take my bear spray for protection, which I always carry because the grizzly bears have picked off far more people than the cougars around here.

RMG --- if you believe a grand total of 6 brown bear kills of humans in the last 100 years in all of Alberta warrants carrying bear spray then go for it. I'd worry more about some other things.

Look, I carry bear spray in a belt holster when in bear country. Bears even small ones have walked right past me in search of food in my camp. I canoed rivers in Canada's north for three decades before one showed up and stood there, 20 feet away from me, pondering what to do next and not very much afraid of me. A good blast of bear spray convinced it that I was dangerous and it left in great haste.


if you believe a grand total of 6 brown bear kills of humans in the last 100 years in all of Alberta warrants carrying bear spray then go for it. I'd worry more about some other things.

List of fatal bear attacks in North America

Brown (grizzly) bears only:
1. Robert Wagner, 48, male October 1, 2008 near Sundre, Alberta
2. Don Peters, 51, male November 25, 2007 near Sundre, Alberta
3. Isabelle Dube, 35, female June 5, 2005 Canmore, Alberta
4. Christopher Kress, 40, male August 22, 1998 near Beaver Mines, Alberta
5. Trevor Percy-Lancaster, 40, male September 15, 1992 Jasper National Park, Alberta
6. Ernest Cohoe, 38, male August 24, 1980 near Banff, Alberta
7. Monty Adams, 32, Male September 12, 1976 Southern Alberta

Now, in reference to #3, Canmore is the town I live in, and I've walked the same trail Isabelle was killed on (there's a nice memorial her husband build on the site where she died). It's a golf course in town, for crissakes. The bear was there eating dandelions on the golf course when she jogged into him on her morning run.

And, in reference to #4, I was hiking along the ridge above the valley when Christopher was killed. I knew nothing about it until we reached the end of the trail, and there was a "TRAIL CLOSED GRIZZLY FATALITY" sign on it to warn us we shouldn't be there. I do remember we saw about 9 bears on that particular trip (although not the one who nailed Christopher).


Abstract: Between 1960 and 1998, bears caused 42 serious or fatal human injuries in the Province of Alberta---29 (69%) by grizzly (brown) bears (Ursus arctos) and 13 (31%) by American black bears (U. americanus). Considering Alberta’s estimated bear population figures---about 1,000 grizzly bears and 38,000-39,000 black bears---these raw numbers suggest the extent to which grizzly bears are the more dangerous of the 2 species. Serious and fatal bear-inflicted injuries increased in number in Alberta, including its national parks, each decade, from seven during the 1960s to 13 during the 1990s, an increase proportional to the province’s human population growth during the same period. Of all bear-inflicted serious injuries and fatalities, roughly half (52%, 22 of 42) occurred in Alberta’s national parks, and 95% of these (21 of 22) were caused by grizzly bears.

Grizzly bear maulings are particularly nasty. My ex-wife was working in the local hospital ER when one of the "serious injury" cases came in - a bicyclist who had run into a grizzly bear on a bike trail in town - and she said the bear made just a terrible mess of him.

Personally, I prefer to carry bear spray for the comfort factor, although the grizzly bears I have met personally have been quite reasonable about it and just wandered off after looking me over. We are kind of close up and personal with them here.

RMG --- I stand corrected based on your wiki cite. The total is 9 and so I erred by 50%. Considering the absolute number that still is picayune. There are only two prior to your 7 and one of those is attributable to a faulty capture attempt. Herrero is 'the' expert on aggressive and predatory bears in NA (your PDF cite) and I believe I've read everything he has written for over 40 years. I suggest you read him as carefully and analyse what he says as clearly as you discuss oil. An irrational fear is just that -- an irrational fear.

ffdjm --- Douglas, I possibly have spent as much time in our Canadian North as you have. 45 years in my case ... canoeing, trekking and climbing mostly solo. I've seen considerable bears at a distance and even have several 'close encounters'. More than a few bluffs and huffs. The closest was in 1992 in Quetico when a young black bear boar wandered through my camp and came within 6 feet of where I was sitting. Teens of any species can be unpredictable. At six feet I haven't a clue what I could have done to discourage or stop an attack if that was his choice. Hope the wind is right when you spray.

Bye the bye, my quip has always been that bears are intelligent but do not have universal health care so are rather unlikely to endanger themselves.

Tonu, the wildlife experts here advise people to carry bear bear spray just as much for the protection of the bears as for the protection of the humans. There are more and more people in the mountains all the time, and more and more bear/human encounters. Bears tend to get overly familiar with humans and become more aggressive toward them because they can see people are afraid of them. The ultimate result of this is that the bear gets shot by the authorities because it has become too dangerous toward humans.

OTOH, once a bear has been blasted in the eyes once or twice with bear spray, it develops a strong human-avoidance reaction and tends to stay away from people. This is safer for both the people and the bear. That's why the wildlife experts encourage us to carry bear spray, especially while walking our dogs. Dogs tend to chase the bear, and when the bear turns on them, they run back to their human for protection. It's best to have bear spray when that happens.

The reason that there were far fewer bear killings in earlier times (which were not that long ago in this part of the country) was that there were far fewer people in the wilderness, and all of them were carrying rifles and shotguns. Any time they saw a grizzly bear, they shot it. Bears are smart and noticed this kind of thing, so as the old timers said, "The only part of a grizzly bear you ever saw was its retreating backside as it ran away".

I have read Herrero, very carefully because - having bears in my back yard - I need all the expert bear advice I can get. His suggestion was a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, loaded with double-zero magnum buckshot, and capable of firing at least 5 rounds in under 5 seconds. I think I prefer the bear spray because I have a bad shoulder and can't really handle the recoil of a 12 gauge. I've also shot myself 3 times with bear spray (I'm not that careful) and I can testify that while it really does bring tears to your eyes, it has no permanent effects (other than your buddies laughing at you every time someone mentions it).

In this kinder, gentler, modern age I think the bear spray is the best solution - even better than the 12-gauge. I've known people who tried the 12-gauge solution, and they said the grizzly kept charging and dropped dead right at their feet. Its heart and lungs were blown away, but it kept on coming. In the case of bear spray, studies show that after being sprayed in the eyes, bears just run away and cry for their mammas.

At six feet I haven't a clue what I could have done to discourage or stop an attack if that was his choice.

You can walk six feet away from a 1000 pound grizzly, and never know it. They are very, very good at hiding in the brush. I'm sure I have walked by hidden grizzlies many times, but I've never seen them. As you say, it's his choice. If you do see one, stop, don't run (because they chase things that run), don't look them in the eye (they think it's aggressive), don't show fear (and don't smell like fear either), don't turn around, and back away slowly while talking to them in a low voice. In my experience it works pretty well and they just wander off about their bearish business. I'm not sure it works all the time which is why I carry the bear spray.

"...I think the bear spray is the best solution - even better than the 12-gauge."

This has been proven time and time again. Guns give people a false sense of security - especially hand guns, which often don't even have enough penetrating power to do any real damage. But bear spray (industrial sized pepper spray) stops them in their tracks.


University of Calgary's Steve Herrero tells the Missoulian that 98 percent of those who used bear spray walked away unharmed, and no people or bears died.

He says 56 percent of those who used firearms were injured, and 61 percent of the bears died.

Here in the 'chian mountains we only have Black Bears, which is nice because the only weapon I carry while hiking is my wits...there's a certain pucker factor coming around the bend and finding a black bear - so far none have been directly in the path so after a moment of panic I usually just continue on my way. I had a friend that worked a summer at Mt Mitchell and he told me about when he'd be off work and sitting behind the barracks watching the fields where the blueberries grew he'd watch people picking berries completely oblivious that there were bears no more than 100 feet away. Been thinking about carrying some spray lately due to the number of coyotes that seem to be springing up though.

The Gun Vs Bear Spray argument conjures the fact versus feeling of car safety. As the SUV craze was heating up, people were buying them thinking the were safe - they weren't. Study after study concluded that large sedans were the most safe because SUVs had a tendency to flip during crashes. As SUVs become "crossovers" ("macho minivans") and ground clearance is being reduced and ESC/VSC becomes ubiquitous the disparity has only now gone away. But if you're truly concerned about safety and not the size of your genitalia...drive a minivan.

RMG; you have probably heard this before, but you can not make global trends out of local weather.

Let me take an example: this past march was the coldest since the 80ies. Dos this work as an argument against global warming? No,on the contrary. This is caused by changed wind paterns. These wind patterns changes are the result of the low ice extent in the Arctic waters. The ice melted because of global warming. There are more such examples. In Antarctica, the increased melting leads to more cold water flowing into the water, and when the winter sets in all that cold water will freeze faster. There are lots of such examples.

Now I know you are a denialist (and I know how that works, I was a young earth creationist once) so this post will probably not change your position on this. But such is the case. Would you judge an entire oil production region from just one well? You wouldn't, right?

Well I would agree that I would be very annoyed if anyone said "we are all going to die of global warming". Of course, I've never actually heard anyone say that except global warming denialists that like to create strawman arguments that they can knock down.

The air temps have been somewhat stable the last few years . . . uh so? Oh, so the ocean has been absorbing more of the temperature change such that ocean levels are rising faster and the poles are melting faster. Is that supposed to be good news? And do you really think that a few years of stable temps really predicts anything? That is like flipping a coin three times, getting heads and then assuming you'll get heads from now on. Of course the predictions are all over the map . . . it is not like we have a bunch of spare earths on which we can run controlled experiments. But the large picture is quite clear.

You are certainly quite right to be more worried about a mountain lion. But that doesn't say a think about climate change.

I completely agree that climate change will have almost no effect you personally for your life. That is not what it is about. It is a long-term issue that plays out on timescales that we humans can't deal with well. That is why so many people don't believe in evolution because they can't deal with geological time-scales. Climate change is something that will affect mankind and mostly in the distant future, not you personally. I can't make you care about mankind. I can try to get you to care about your children and grandchildren. But I suspect it won't work. It is too easy to go into denial about.

It's hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding. – Upton Sinclair

But I'd at least like you to understand that a lot of people who care about climate change do so because they'd like mankind to go on for thousands of more years and not suffer a painful die-off that might occur. They are not doing it to annoy you. So at least try to accept that.

In all likelihood Global Warming, alias Global Wierding and Climate Change HAS dramatically impacted lives here in the Northeast and a bunch of people on the Jersey Shore and Long Island are still suffering from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Halloween Blizzard of 2011 and Hurricane Irene in 2011. Two of my neighbors almost got killed when a major tree grazed one house and smashed into another. Both of them are just now putting in for the reconstruction of their houses. My next door neighbor's tree fell and cut off her power for 11 days but luckily I could provide my little batter and LED to give her some light and later when my power was restored we ran an extension cord to her house from mine.

So it is kind of hard for me to accept that Climate Change will only have personal effects far into the future!

It is already having effects in these hurricanes, tornadoes in times and places never seen in the historical record, the Midwestern drought etc etc

RMG - the day you understand why a man can walk on fire for several seconds ( https://www.google.no/search?client=opera&q=Fire+Walking&oe=utf-8&channe... ) - but not sit on a heated stove for even a second - that very day you are a little bit closer to the Global Warming-revelation that you seemingly seek..

Inserted of Global Warming- for the last decade the term should be Global H2O Phase Change. When the polar Ice Cap is gone within another decade- I'll reckon it will be all too clear for all, even Bjørn Lomborg will be nodding in Hansons direction

New data, which I am pretty sure was linked to on TOD, indicates that all the warming has been going into the oceans which are, of course, 70% of the Earth's surface. Which is having its own effects in terms of melting icecaps from beneath, acidification and destruction of coral reefs.
In all likelihood the warming oceans will also result in changes in the Gulf stream and other ocean circulation patterns which power the world's weather. So we can expect more Global Wierding coming from that...

"broken hockey stick"? The hockey stick was strongly confirmed in a study published in March.

A stable climate enabled the development of modern civilization, global agriculture, and a world that could sustain a vast population. Now, the most comprehensive “Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years” ever done reveals just how stable the climate has been — and just how destabilizing manmade carbon pollution has been and will continue to be unless we dramatically reverse emissions trends.


I agree that mountain lions are something to worry about when they live nearby. There are repeated claims by locals around here of panther(s) living on the mountain just across the river from my S/D, and I think I heard one's cry late one evening. Also, there was a case of a horse being attacked just over the ridge behind my house, the horse being mauled so badly that it had to be put down. Several years ago, my neighbor lost a dog and I went looking for it. I found numerous tracks in the snow which looked like a chase, including one long stretch of tracks across an open area that were a nearly straight line, which dogs don't usually do. However, my friend the state wildlife biologist claims panthers don't exist around here.

One's local climate experience, like wildlife problems, says nothing about the impact of climate change on billions of humans and other living beings due to AGW. That story in The Economist is a weak attempt to disprove AGW, quoting an unpublished report which isn't peer reviewed as to support their claim that AGW won't be a big deal. The article refers to simple energy balance models, claiming that these give a better representation of recent climate change, even though these simple models can not represent what happens with ocean circulation and the sea-ice cycle. The authors go on to mention the uncertainty of cloud effects, quoting from the draft of the next IPCC report, as if that disproves the rest of the science.

The article fails to mention the steep decline in sea-ice extent, surely the smoking gun which proves climate is changing and doing so much more rapidly than the models have forecast. And, the authors say nothing about the recent low in the solar cycle, which may have cooled things a bit these past 15 years, while claiming that there are no explanations for the lack of continued warming seen in the temperature data. Overall, I think the article is a classic piece of propaganda, which is intended to lull the reader into a sense that there's nothing to worry about from climate change by giving many facts while ignoring the main truth...

E. Swanson

Well, around here we track cougars aka mountain lions aka panthers using radio collars, and the trackers have observed that they wander right through the middle of downtown in the middle of the night. We have too many feral bunny rabbits because some idiots released them in the wild, and they are a big draw for the local predators, which include coyotes, wolves, bears, and of course, cougars. We don't really want them downtown but - there they are.

The local riding association noticed that one of its horses was all scratched up, presumably a young cougar that was too small to take it down. Someone on the other side of town had his Labrador retriever picked up right off the front porch by a cougar while his kids were watching. That one was radio tagged and they put it down because it was getting way too bold. However, they are very quiet and very, very alert so under normal circumstances you will never see one. My wife and I have seen several, but we're quiet and alert, too.

People walking dogs have particular problems because the cougars go after the dogs. Someone in the off-leash dog park about two blocks from us had his dog attacked by a cougar. Someone walking his dog by the Safeway store downtown had his dog attacked. Someone across town walking his dog down a trail was stalked by a cougar. They are everywhere, so people have to be careful, but in most cases people have frightened them off. Oh, yeah, and a cross country skier was bagged by a cougar in the next town down the valley. It hit her from behind and broke her neck. She likely never saw it.

As far as the whole AGW thing is concerned, it's just too boring for words. I've walked on numerous glaciers world-wide, I've had to deal with monitoring Arctic pack ice, I've studied the prehistorical geological temperature records. I don't care any more. I'll worry about the local cougars and grizzly bears, which might actually kill me, and let other people obsess about global warming while I slog through the springtime snow with my dog.

RMG wrote:

As far as the whole AGW thing is concerned, it's just too boring for words...I don't care any more...

Yeah, I know the feeling. Most people aren't aware and will do as you suggest. But, maybe somebody can get their attention and stop the train before it tips over some cliff or other. Think I'll go for another walk down to the river. It's time for Spring Training, 83F (28C) high today at 3,000 ft elevation. When the dew point hits 35C, well, we're going to be toast..

E. Swanson

Written by RockyMtnGuy:
Global warming has been renamed "climate change" because none of the scientists knows what the heck is going on?

It was renamed to more clearly convey the meaning to skeptics, deniers and vested interests.

That is not true, it has never been 'renamed'. See this article .

"Global warming has been renamed "climate change" because none of the scientists knows what the heck is going on?"

This was actually a move by Frank Luntz, the fellow who brought all of the 1984 sounding phrases to the Republican party. "Climate Change" sounds like a natural process because hey, everyone knows "things change" right?



"Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly.

"Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate."

The phrase "global warming" should be abandoned in favour of "climate change", Mr Luntz says, and the party should describe its policies as "conservationist" instead of "environmentalist", because "most people" think environmentalists are "extremists" who indulge in "some pretty bizarre behaviour... that turns off many voters".

I am not sure of the true origins of the term but I have always thought it sounded too benign. I have been observing the fact that my area of the world has been warming since at least the 1980s and I am sticking to the reality that the globe is warming. As early as the 1980s, I began noticing that timberline was creeping up the mountain. We have a mountain in front of our cabin that we called "Baldy" growing up. Well, it's not so bald anymore. I also used to require an extremely warm sleeping bag and lots of warm clothes on cold nights in the summer in the mountains. Not necessary anymore and there have been nights when I wore almost nothing.

When I was growing up, my father had to get up early every morning in the summer and start up a big fire. We slept with several blankets at night. Now, none of that is necessary. What fires we have are more of a ritual than a necessity. This ritual is for the old folks who like to pretend that nothing has changed and that they are still young.

Well, it's snowing right now so I guess all this warming stuff is just my imagination and a product of a feeble memory.

According to my brother, the young will adapt. Well, good luck with that.

Here are two articles on the current scientific thinking on this issue:

Must Read: Arctic Sea Ice Death Spiral And Cold Weather

The media are debating if the decrease in Arctic ice is related to this winter’s cold weather in Germany. This post discusses the most recent current research about this including the most important figures from relevant studies.

Is Shrinking Sea Ice Behind Chilly Spring?

As Northern Hemisphere temperatures remain below normal more than a week into the official start of spring, a team of meteorologists and climate scientists are pointing to recent research that suggests sea ice cover is a likely culprit. [...]
Less Arctic sea ice—which is caused by global warming—alters atmospheric circulation in a way that leads to more snow and ice, said climate scientist Jiping Liu, who led a 2012 study on the topic published by the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.

I've been saying for a long time...

More heat in the atmosphere = more energy = more activity = more extremes, which means more hot AND more cold. It's just that those extremes will be biased slightly to the heat side. There are a couple articles out there on the fact that there are more record hot temps than record cold temps recently.

Lest we forget, here's the reason the Welch farmers are in trouble:

Welsh hill farmers reel as melting snow reveals carcasses of ewes and lambs

1 April 2013:

"It's the worst we've known at this time of year since 1966 when I left school," said Emyr Jones, president of the Farmers Union of Wales,
Farmers who were digging sheep out of 20ft snowdrifts across north and mid Wales throughout the holiday weekend predicted higher prices for Welsh lamb and said many hill farmers could be forced to give up because of the extra costs.
Ten days after one of the worst snowstorms in 50 years to hit north and mid Wales, farmers reported that they were taken by surprise by its intensity which saw three feet of snow fall in some places in under 24 hours.

Remember that the UK was covered by glaciers at LGM, about 20k years BP. It can't happen again, we've got Global Warming now, right???

E. Swanson

Cold winter = no global warming, now? So I guess if it's warm in summer... the opposite?

Not really. How about local cooling due to general warming? All that warm air pushing toward the North Pole must eventually return southward. Some places may experience colder weather, especially during spring as the seasons are shifted around. Check out this 30 day animation of pressure height anomalies.

Plus, historical data suggests that the Eemian period was a bit warmer than the present interglacial and that one ended about 120k years ago with the beginning of another round of Ice Ages. If that "Arctic Oscillation" pattern or the ENSO cycle becomes locked in place, that might start another Ice Age. Ever wondered why the thickest ice apparently built up over Eastern Canada, as in, around Hudson Bay? Check out the atmospheric flow around Greenland recently, all that warm, moist air from the Atlantic blasting NW over the Labrador Sea. And, the fun is only just beginning...

E. Swanson

My bad. I read it like you were disputing the whole theory of AGW, not pointing out one of the more bizarre turns we've had because of it lately.

When the Arctic gets to the point that Peter Wadhams considers a total collapse, then we may long for the days of March 2013. If all that heating has been going into phase changes for ice or simply into the water due to the low albedo, causing heating to 700 metres depth, then imagine what would happen when it runs out of ice or the water sink fails and we get it pumped directly to atmosphere. They had believed warming was slowing down, that it hadn't done much in the last 15 years or so. Turns out it was accelerating and all that energy was going into the oceans and the Arctic ice.

Do we want to see what happens when it returns focus back on to us?

We also have to realize another reason for the slow down in temps is 'global dimming', via particulates from the huge increase in coal burning by China. Dimming by most accounts is responsible for holding temps down 1C. That's more than all the warming so far which is .8C. Let's all take a month off and see what happens.

Snow in Wales has been scarce to non-existent between 2000 and some short episodes in winters of 2010/11 and 2011/12...

This event was unprecendented in 50 years in terms of amount of snow, in terms of persistent easterly winds and in terms of the time of year it occurred. Farmers just did not have any reason to expect this or prepare for it.

This is new/just doesn't happen weather for the UK....

As was last year with its hot March and pending drought, followed by record rainfall (once in 200 years?) over the summer and floods resulting from sheer inability of local drains to work.

Hot/cold isn't the issue - weather is bust...

Or, although this would be a huge departure, we could get serious.

That's why some time back I realised that food production is increasingly going to be done in protected and controlled environments. Which will also allow further automation and electrification of food production to take place.

My WAG is that food production is going to consume increasing amounts of energy, financial capital and resources. The deficit between the calorific value of the food and the calories used to produce it will increase markedly. The one bright spot is that alternate energies may fill the gap.

Startup touts ultrafast charging: What if smartphone could charge in 12 minutes instead of two hours?

Potential Difference Inc., a Nevada startup, has developed a versatile charger that it claims can refill the batteries in smartphones, laptops and even electric vehicles to 80 percent capacity in 12 minutes.

How hot does the battery get recharging that fast, and does the heat damage it reducing charging capacity?

Well maybe the team of engineers at Potential Difference Inc didn't think about that and need to come visit the oildrum more often and hear what questions us battery experts have about the technology.

I'm sure they were only thinking of what colour the logo on the charger should be and what the retail packaging might look like.


As with High Speed Rail, they'll use this as a sparkly selling point, to get the gearheads onboard, hopefully.. but the fact that you'll be able to charge at home off-peak and overnight, or at work in some cases, where there are also hours of 'parked time', there will most likely develop a decent niche for those folks this all fits well with, and the lustre of speedy refills will be dulled by the limits and the damage it does to battery life (most likely) as a consequence.

I wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of vehicle that takes advantage of a Trailerful of batteries, (usu. called 'Range-extenders') and where applicable, one could have one trailer at the base charging, while the other is hitched on. I say 'the base', as this might just as well be a fleet solution, something for delivery systems, or taxis or emergency vehicles. For sober-minded advocates, it is certainly NOT just about having merely a continuation of Solo Commuter cars. For them I can see millions and millions of Velomobiles, Subways and Rocket-Hover-Skateboards!

I must be in a bad mood - I feel like I lost IQ points reading that article.

The phone restricts the charging current to keep the battery from catching fire. It can accept more current at the beginning than it can at the end. It already does this. If your phone is getting low - give it a 20 minute charge and die of amazement.


Is this true ?

Walmart: America's real 'Welfare Queen'

Wal-Mart's poverty wages force employees to rely on $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store. In state after state, Wal-Mart employees are the top recipients of Medicaid. As many as 80 percent of workers in Wal-Mart stores use food stamps.

Walmart's employees receive $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store. They are also the top recipients of Medicaid in numerous states. Why does this occur? Walmart fails to provide a livable wage and decent healthcare benefits, costing U.S. taxpayers an annual average of $1.02 billion in healthcare costs. This direct public subsidy is being given to offset the failures of an international corporate giant who shouldn’t be shifting part of its labor costs onto the American taxpayers.

Wal-Mart workers’ reliance on public assistance due to substandard wages and benefits has become a form of indirect public subsidy to the company. In effect, Wal-Mart is shifting part of its labor costs onto the public.

Based on other info I've come across, yes this is true. They externalize a significant portion of their labor costs onto the taxpayer.

Wealth redistribution through wages is coming to an end. The economic value of a human is decreasing, but the cost of keeping a human alive is increasing. The state controlled welfare system is filling the gap and acquiring total control over the increasing number of individuals involved as a result.

Subsidised corporations and a state owned and controlled population. Probably heading towards some new kind of slavery suitable for an energy constrained world. Seems eerily like a modern version of the USSR, a centrally planned economy, workers paid state defined benefits, living in state owned housing (freddy, fanny, fed and other entities left holding the mortgages), but with the exception of working in privately owned corporations.

Then you have the rich with their wealth tied up in productive assets, the poor with nothing and the unfortunate middle class with their wealth tied up in financial assets. The welfare state is going to grow as the financial assets vanish into thin air and be paid for by governments self-funding via the central banks (ie. printing money). The alternatives seem to be more grim.

Wal-Mart's poverty wages force employees to rely on $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store. In state after state, Wal-Mart employees are the top recipients of Medicaid. As many as 80 percent of workers in Wal-Mart stores use food stamps.

If the R's are so against socialism, then why are they for subsidizing huge corporations employees with entitlements? Or are they expecting Walmarts employees to find a way to survive on meager wages without entitlements? Not only do they want the latter, but the mandated minimum wage is something they also want to abolish. If this trend continues, future Walmart employees will make two dollars an hour and live in their vehicles in Walmart parking lots. Then the employees will be cordened into a certain area of the parking lot (with high fences so no one can see from the outside) which will be known as WETC's, Walmart employee tent cities. Then the employees will have money deducted from their paychecks to pay for porta-potty rentals and garbage pick-up.

"Afterall employees, it's all got to be paid for, now clean up that tent city and get back to work. We're not paying you ingrates a whopping two dollars an hour for nothing!!!"

They are not against socialism. They just limit it to a few. Socialism for the rich (bailed-out banks, tax-breaks, military protection for oil trade routes, no-bid contracts for Halliburton, etc.) and capitalism for the poor.

Nah. They won't pay them $2/hour, they'll get $25/hour* But, it will be in special WalMart currency, only redeemable at a WalMart. They will effectively be serfs.

This all implies that Walmart can exist "without" this government subsidy.

I suspect the reality of the situation is that no one want to think past the 1st order of problems. "Liberals" have, in times where they have had political power, established safety net legislation to take some of the pain out of poverty. "Conservatives" have fought those laws. All of it done with not much more than cursory evaluations of political power, need, and cost. Probably in that order.

A comparable situation exists in agriculture. My daughter used to work as a nutritionist in the WIC office in Salinas, basically subsidizing the wages of field workers. It was virtually a job requirement to speak Spanish. The state and federal government provide food aid and medical care for field workers so that the property owners do not have to pay a living wage. We all get cheap food and high taxes. To make sure that the work is subsidized there are federal laws against asking for proof of legal residence. That way they can pay low wages since the workers who are not legal residents can't demand better pay at risk of being deported. The farmers, that is agribusiness, make good profits. If there is a problem they have federally subsidized crop insurance.

She now works at a Salinas hospital where most of the patients are also receiving subsidized medical care.

Yes, sadly.

I many States WalMart employees qualify for food stamps. The really neat part though is going to be where WalMart employees start to retire. Wow! Minimum Social Security as sole support? And, with less than COLA increases, and on top of that maxed out age, Medicare vouchers and widespread obesity.

There won't be enough WalMarts to hire them all as "greeters" ("welcome to WalMart - get your $hit and get out"). They'll all be living with their children (who work at WalMarts or similar emporiums of unfettered corporate greed).

Wonderful future we have built for our loved ones.

"Thanks Grandpa... appreciate it."


Our local MalWart no longer has greeters, the few times I've been there lately. They also stopped offering hand carry baskets, so now you must wheel a shopping cart around...

E. Swanson

Its been about one full year since I last went to one. I try to avoid that place like the plague. Awful, awful company.

Target offers similar prices, pays their help better, is a lot more pleasant to shop in, and probably kicks more money back into the community with their grants and so on.

Wal-Mart greeters disappeared in 2009 in my area.


Stop being so naive and shocked, of course this is true.

However, from a political standpoint it's not as clear cut. Ultimately the government decides who and what it wants to subsidy. The government is bought off by money from Walmart. How does Walmart have the money? Because the federal reserve gives the banks a ton of money and the banks lend a ton of money at low interest to big corporations, and we all like buying food and cheaply made things from China.

Why does labor have no bargaining power? Because human population has been rapidly expanding for a century.

So...you want high wages and good benefits? Then pay $10 for milk, $20 for a gallon of gas, and $50 for the plastic toy for your kid.

The point I'm trying to make is this...we all have to get rid of this idea that there is a free lunch and utopia. Everybody, businesses, governments, individuals will have to realize this. We live in a collapsing world and game theory is making a big comeback.

By the way Walmart is struggling because people can't buy as much stuff. And higher wages won't solve that, people still won't buy stuff because they'll need the money for gas and for healthcare for their elders.

Welcome back to scarcity, the foundation of economics 101.

"By the way Walmart is struggling because people can't buy as much stuff."

Walmart stock has out-performed the S&P 500 over the past five years. They're not struggling.

Stop being so naive and shocked, of course this is true.

I am not shocked but it's interesting to know that the employees of a major MNC are on govt benefits in US.


"By the way Walmart is struggling because people can't buy as much stuff."

Struggling so hard it only made a measly $15 billion profit last year.


List of Walton's family fortune as of March 2013 published by Forbes.

Christy Walton and family US$28.2 billion[2]
Jim Walton US$26.7 billion[2]
Alice Walton US$26.3 billion[2]
S. Robson Walton US$26.1 billion[2]
Ann Walton Kroenke US$4.5 billion[2]
Nancy Walton Laurie US$3.9 billion[2]

Total: US$115.7 billion

But their juicy piles of bon-bons doesn't prove that the store model and system isn't still caving. One can hold their snifter of brandy pretty level on a tilting deck. Their shares back in NY might even be growing as a RESULT of the sinking! Huzzah!

Geez, $116 billion. According to the link below, even in 2010 when they were only worth about $90 billion, they were already worth more than the bottom 42% of all US families. Wonder what it would be today. But as my brother The Republican would say, I am sure they all worked very hard for their money and deserve every dollar they have.


American families

July 18, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu

Rob Walton speaks during the annual Wal-Mart shareholders meeting in Fayetteville,… (April L. Brown / Associated…)

The Walton family, heirs to the founders of the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. superchain, are worth nearly as much as the bottom half of American households combined.

The Waltons' value -- $89.5 billion in 2010 – is equal to the worth of the 41.5% of families at the lower end of the income ladder, according to an analysis by Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute. That comes out to 48.8 million households.

Every large corporation that has ever existed is built on the foundation of externalizing costs for maximum profit.

I thought everyone knew and accepted this-- privatize profit, socialize cost.

They are built to take. We are conditioned to give.

I dislike Wal-Mart only slightly more than the others and only rarely entertain the fantasy of man returning to nomadic pastorialism. :-)

New 590-Foot Mega-Yacht Eclipses Russian's Record

A new yacht launched Friday by Lürssen, the German luxury boat builder, is now the largest motor yacht in the world. It's name is Azzam, and at 590 feet long it has officially bumped Roman Abramovich's yacht—the 536-foot Eclipse—from its number one ranking.
For speed, the boat is powered by jets rather than propellers. It's got 94,000 horsepower under the hood. And it hit a top speed of 30 knots, which is about 30 percent faster than most mega-yachts. "It's like a 590-foot jet ski," said one executive involved in the project.

There is no mention of fuel economy or the size of the fuel tanks.

There is no mention of fuel economy
If you gotta ask, you can't afford it.

This sucker's nuclear... or it should be.

And a hydrofoil or surface effect ship.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is 509 feet. The Spruance class was 563 feet. The Spruance destroyers carried 80,000 HP, so they are outclassed by this yacht in multiple ways. The Burke's carry 108,000 HP. Generally a longer hull gives higher speed, so it might be an interesting race.

Jet boats are fuel hogs so I'd have to assume this yacht won't be particularily fuel efficient.

I don't expect it was designed to run on jet fuel as much as on internet comments.. :>

CNN is just a font of sunshine today.

Doctors driven to bankruptcy

Five years ago, Plantation, Fla.-based bankruptcy attorney David Langley didn't have a single doctor as a client. Since then he's handled at least six bankruptcy cases involving doctors. Two current clients -- an orthopedic surgeon and an OB/GYN -- also are in bankruptcy.

None of his physician clients had malpractice lawsuits that landed them in dire financial straits. All are "top-notch doctors," he said.

The weak economy has taken a toll on doctors' revenue, as consumers cut back on office visits and lucrative elective procedures, said Guy, a bankruptcy attorney in Nashville with Frost Brown Todd LLC.

Credit unions' homey image starts to fray

Recently 72% of CUs offered free checking, vs. 78% in 2010. Some are ratcheting up fees. And don't assume that these not-for-profit, member-owned co-ops are immune from failure; 105 of the country's 7,000 credit unions have gone under or been folded into stronger institutions since 2008.

Adds Pilcher: "They were looking at a narrow range of unsavory options -- basically, merge or die."

7 fastest shrinking cities

During the housing boom, many New York commuters moved to the East Stroudsburg area to take advantage of its inexpensive homes. They were willing to trade the 80-mile commute for more space, buying homes they couldn't have afforded closer to the city.

But the spike in gas prices put a strain on commuters, said John Moyer, the chairman of the county commissioners for Monroe County, where East Stroudsburg is located.

The weak economy has taken a toll on doctors' revenue, as consumers cut back on office visits and lucrative elective procedures

I have long espoused the belief that a change to single payor, national health policy would be pushed by doctors, not patients. As few patients are insured, and fewer employers provide coverage, individuals will rely instead on the ER and their PSP, and forego rather than pay money they do not have. This article is just the beginning.


Doctors in the province of Saskatchewan opposed the introduction of a publicly funding health care system. Once the system was in place they realized it was to their benefit to be able to just bill the government for all the services they provided. They were no longer pressured to provide free service to people who could not afford to pay, or deal with the hassles of billing different private insurance providers.

I know two people who work with several hundred others who simply write policy for a health insurance company. I'd be willing to bet (surely someone on TOD works in a doctor's office) that half of the (non-medical) staff at most doctor's offices are there to haggle with the insurance company or simply deal with them in some way. If there was a public health care system - they'd be out of work, but at least they'd be covered.

Another feel-good article from CNN:

Shodan: The scariest search engine on the Internet

It's stunning what can be found with a simple search on Shodan. Countless traffic lights, security cameras, home automation devices and heating systems are connected to the Internet and easy to spot.

Shodan searchers have found control systems for a water park, a gas station, a hotel wine cooler and a crematorium. Cybersecurity researchers have even located command and control systems for nuclear power plants and a particle-accelerating cyclotron by using Shodan....

... In a talk given at last year's Defcon cybersecurity conference, independent security penetration tester Dan Tentler demonstrated how he used Shodan to find control systems for evaporative coolers, pressurized water heaters, and garage doors.

He found a car wash that could be turned on and off and a hockey rink in Denmark that could be defrosted with a click of a button. A city's entire traffic control system was connected to the Internet and could be put into "test mode" with a single command entry. And he also found a control system for a hydroelectric plant in France with two turbines generating 3 megawatts each.

How about a good game of PWR Meltdown, Dr. Falken...

Shodan is a regular topic on security podcasts along with the HOPE conferences. So it may be news here, but not news to the security crowd.

I would assume there are far more home automation systems running with a default password than nuclear reactors. We could cut fossil fuel consumption by writing an app that connects to home automation systems and cranks the temperature down a few degrees!

I was reading some of the many comments on the Doctors driven to bankruptcy story above. Pretty disheartening, so much politics and so little reality.

What about scarcity is so hard to understand? If something becomes overpriced (yes, even healthcare), then people will stop paying for it. Ergo, bankruptcy for those providing the service.

I expect more of this going forward.

"What about scarcity is so hard to understand? If something becomes overpriced (yes, even healthcare), then people will stop paying for it. Ergo, bankruptcy for those providing the service."

There was a story in the paper last year...two stories, actually, the story you were supposed to read and the one that you were not supposed to notice.

The story that you were supposed to read was the one where a doctor from California was visiting and going for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway when he happened to be in the right place at the right time to help save someone. Fuzzy, feel good.

The story that was supposed to go unnoticed was that he had flown across the country to pick up his customized Porsche 911 ($100,000+) so he could drive it on a pleasure cruise back to California.

Try posting that comment on any of the regular American MSM blogs. I guarantee you'll get flamed for being so "jealous" about that doctor's well earned success, hating his freedom to be able to afford such a wonderful toy (while 50 million remain uninsured, millions more under-insured), and probably Commie-socialist to express such an anti-American sentiment.

Because Americans are "temporarily embarrassed millionaires." Who said that - I can't recall.

I've never seen so many people work so hard against their own interests.

"I've never seen so many people work so hard against their own interests."

It's amazing and astonishing, isn't it? A testimonial to the power of propaganda.

I think the pyramids were build by volonteer labour. Since the Pharao owned everything (and everyone) in Egypt they technically had no slave - noone is a slave if everyone is a slave - but it seems the workers where not enforced. The pharaoes basicly made the people think it was in their intrest to errect the pyramids.

Long time I read about this so I am probably incorrect on details here but that is basicly what I have been told.

I think they were paid workers - and good money for the more skilled ones. Of course it was money/rations which had been collected as tax in the first place, but the Pharoah built huge granaries to store grain after good harvests, and fairly distrubuted it after bad harvests. It was a system that worked for three thousand years...

You are indeed an envious Commie-socialist for expressing such sentiments :-)

For starters, it is his money and he can do anything he wants with it. Medical education is very expensive, very long and very stressful. You spend 8 years in school, followed by 3 years of residency, followed by 3 years of fellowship. Then you spend your whole life getting paged at 3am or working on Saturdays and Sundays and Thanksgiving when everyone else is having fun. If you are Ob/Gyn you may have to go to the hospital at 3am on a bitterly cold January day to deliver someone's baby. Your malpractice insurance continues to go up while your income stagnates or goes down as you battle health insurance companies for payment. You only earn a good income if you work long hours. Then the bulk of it goes into making student loan payments.

You see his Porsche car, but not the sacrifice or expense behind it. Is it a crime to drive an expensive car in America? Is this is a communist country? How much money do you think other people should earn?

I don't think anyone minds people working hard and having some luxuries.

But the for-profit medical system has left many Americans in the dust. Many resent the system and what fuels the greed behind it.

I agree. I don't like our sick care industry too. But what is an individual doctor supposed to do about it?

Sfunny, after years working in computers I could say almost exactly the same, except for the income and Porsche. Spending large amounts of money and time on training. Working ridiculous hours. Being held to blame for customers' foxtrot ultras. Yeah, sympathy level - zilch.


"You see his Porsche car, but not the sacrifice or expense behind it. Is it a crime to drive an expensive car in America? Is this is a communist country? How much money do you think other people should earn?"

The thing is, is that I see the whole chain of broken-ness that leads up to that whole mess.

In the US doctors have to go through first a 4 year college in some "pre-med" type degree program, then go for 4 more years to a medical school, then a "residency" period, and they get their chain yanked and have to sleep at the hospital in swing shifts and 20 hour shifts and all sorts of ridiculous things. It's what's called "broken." Their sacrifice is real - but it's only because the US is broken.

I have an acquaintance who wanted to become a doctor (and is)...she discovered that it was going to be less expensive to go to a school out of the country in the UK. There they do a 6 year program dedicated entirely to becoming a doctor - no shenanigans with 4 undergrad and 4 medical. What would be termed "residency" is shorter, though specialties can be longer.

So for her it took less time, and cost less money, to move to a different country, and pay foreign tuition rates than it was to train in the US.

"Then the bulk of it goes into making student loan payments."

So we come to the beginning...it starts with a broken education system, which leads to students having to take on absurd amounts of debt, which leads to requiring higher wages to pay off student loan debt, because doctors cost so much there are too few of them so each has to be worked more hours than is advisable, which leads to mistakes, which leads to malpractice lawsuits, which leads to needing malpractice insurance, leading to higher salaries to pay for malpractice insurance...

So as a nation we've once again under-invested in education. Anyone who wants to become a doctor should essentially get a try at it for free, IMO, but that should also come with responsible salary caps. This should enable us to have more doctors, doctors with a lighter load, more personalized care, making less mistakes, etc. But instead we just screw potential doctors by making them run up massive debt languishing in school for years longer than necessary and then having to give them "rock star" salaries just to pay the damn things off, and if after slogging it out jumping through ridiculous hoops they manage to pay off the loans and not kill too many people along the way, their inflated salaries can buy them $100k sports cars.

Don't even get me started on the rest of the mess (for-profit hospitals, CEOs of "non-profits" making tens of millions, drug company kickbacks...)

I agree with much of what you say above but none of that is the fault of the individual medical student or resident or doctor. By the way, most doctors don't earn rock star salaries unless you consider $150,000 - $250,000 to be a rock star salary. It is not much when you consider the number of hours worked and length and expense of schooling.

How much do Wall St traders earn? They work 9-5, M-F, with lots of holidays and don't have to worry about getting sued.

The well paid Wall St. types certainly do not work 9-5. I'm not going to argue they're worth what they make, but they work their asses off, too.

"By the way, most doctors don't earn rock star salaries unless you consider $150,000 - $250,000 to be a rock star salary. It is not much when you consider the number of hours worked and length and expense of schooling."

I consider that a lot, yes, and so should you. As I said, I do agree that their sacrifice is real - but it's a result of a broken system.

Based on the Internal Revenue Service’s 2010 database below, here’s how much the top Americans make:

Top 1%: $380,354
Top 5%: $159,619
Top 10%: $113,799
Top 25%: $67,280
Top 50%: >$33,048

"How much do Wall St traders earn? They work 9-5, M-F, with lots of holidays and don't have to worry about getting sued."

Too damn much is the answer to that one - and the market is only open 9:30 to 4:30. What you should be asking is how much the Bankers earn...especially the ones like HSBC that laundered money for Al Qaeda and the mexican drug cartels. Or the ones that caused worldwide financial panic with derivatives and "mortgage backed securities." Or the ones that rigged LIBOR rates. Doctors look like pennies compared to those fools and at least doctors provide a valuable service.

Any discussion on how Thatcher and the UK benefited from North Sea production?

Not really. I did see Santelli on CNBC this morning during is daily propaganda rant talking about how the world needs leaders like Reagan and the "Iron Lady". He asserted that the two of them brought down the Iron Curtain and implied that leaders like them could get us out of the mess we are in.

I believe that it is pretty easy to see that it was their administrations' ideologies, policies and pursuits that got us into the mess we are in at the moment. They both rebuked the idea of LTG. They pursued reckless deregulation of the financial sector (among others). And both administrations promoted policies that maximized resource extraction and energy consumption (i.e. economic growth) at the expense of the ecosystem.

And we also know that whatever imaginary things they did had next to nothing to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Thatcher is their Raygun...

Margaret Thatcher's legacy is everything that's wrong with UK - ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/world-news/margaret-thatchers-legacy-is-everythin...

Yeah, I think both Thatcher and Reagan get a lot more credit than they deserve because they happened to be in office when the North Sea, Cantarell, the Alaskan slope, and other oil fields all came on-line causing price of oil to plunge and thus super-charging the economy in the mid to late 80's.

Of course, in the long view of history, sometimes those things can not look so great. The UK exported a lot of oil in the 80's and 90's at $20/barrel thus making themselves a lot of money at the time. Of course the UK now needs to import oil at $110/barrel such that they probably now wish they had not extracted and exported all that oil in such a hurry.

Conversely, Hugo Chavez's incompetence may end up making Venezuela quite wealthy once their heavy oil deposits start to be tapped big time since that oil largely just sat there in the ground over the last decade.

But then again Reagan and Thatcher are now dead . . . so what do they care?

There are a couple of Thatcher timelines out there but here is one for TOD readers:

The numbers on the graph refer to oil-related moments in Thatcher's career as Prime Minister.

  1. Thatcher became leader of the opposition two years after the 1973 oil shock at a time when UK imports of increasingly expensive oil were at their height, the balance of payments was terrible and unemployment was high
  2. Thatcher became Prime Minister just as the second oil shock was getting underway. This time, however, North Sea output had increased so much that it equalled the shock-reduced demand by 1981.
  3. The UK could afford the Falklands war in 1982 because they were starting to earn revenue from oil exports.
  4. Quoting wikipedia: "By 1983 overall economic growth was stronger and inflation and mortgage rates were at their lowest levels since 1970, although manufacturing output had dropped by 30 per cent since 1978 and unemployment remained high, peaking at 3.3 million in 1984."
  5. The Thatcher administration was able to thwart the UK miners strike of 1984 by having power plants switch to burning oil, causing a blip up in oil consumption and down in exports.
  6. The Piper Alpha disaster of 1988 and ensuing investigation shut down a lot of North Sea oil production but not so much as to discontinue exports in Thatcher's final years.

An easily ignorable sentence from the Wikipedia article sums up the financial situation during her Prime Ministership:

Throughout the 1980s revenue from the 90 per cent tax on North Sea oil extraction was used as a short-term funding source to balance the economy and pay the costs of reform.

So Thatcher had the genius to be in the right place at the right time. Her "Iron Lady" temperament was a good match for the UK's renewed economic strength derived from oil and gas despite the hollowing out of the UK's manufacturing sector.

But, to give credit where credit is due, it was her force of will and strength of character that placed those fossil fuels there in the first place. ;-)

Thanks for that great summary! I'm going to steal it & repost elsewhere as necessary.

Thank you. This is the type of analysis you won't find out there.

It is interesting looking at the graph how Thatcher managed to get in during the boom and managed to get out at the bottom. New Labour managed to get in at the top of the echo boom and rode it down.

The new coalition government has it worst. But I doubt the Brits trust Labour and I don't blame them.

I honestly think Thatcher was more important to Britain then Reagan was to America. Reaganism just represented Americanism on steroids, whereas Thatcher brought genuine reform to Britain.

Genuine reform.. including several stout spikes into the heart of Labor, no doubt?

"There are a couple of Thatcher timelines out there but here is one for TOD readers." To me this seems to be the most relevant timeline. Explains everything. Thanks.

Thank you for this. Mind if I pass it around? (with reference of course) I wonder how a similar timeline would correlate to Reagan's presidency.

I also have to say thanks. Posts like this are why I read this site regularly.

Yes, please pass this around.

I wish I had time to write a longer post titled, in imitation of one of today's NYT articles:

'Petroleum Lady' Who Raced Through Britain's Fossil Fuel Patrimony

Luckily, there are plenty of comments in some of the Thatcher opinion pieces that mention North Sea oil. (Keep it up!)

People might also want to have a look at slides 8-10 of my ASPO 2010 talk in which I emphasize the difference between the British emphasis on the "free market" with the 1986 Gas Act and the Dutch "polder" mentality. Here's the punchline:

Without a doubt, unfettered capitalism is far superior to socialism if the goal is to consume resources as rapidly as possible. Husbanding resources? That's for wimps.

I also brought up this in an ealier and very fascinating TOD post on Pre-industrial Peat Mining.

I guess you can count me as "not a Thatcher fan".


"But, to give credit where credit is due, it was her force of will and strength of character that placed those fossil fuels there in the first place. ;-)"

Good point ;) , and great summary !

One you won't find much in the MSM for sure ...

I lived in Britain in 1973-4, shortly before Maggie became PM. The unions were holding the country to ransom. Crazy things were happening, like the three-day week, because there wasn't enough power due to the coal miners being on strike. At times, sugar was unobtainable because Tate & Lyle workers were on strike. And I'll never forget the Great Toilet Paper Shortage. That was the time I switched from the Daily Mail to the Guardian because it had a better quality of paper, bums, for the wiping of.

The worst of it was the sympathy strikes and the demarcation disputes.

I think it was Jaguar where the workers sent on strike over something. Management brought in scab labour and got the line moving again. So Silverton radiators struck in sympathy with the Jaguar workers. No radiators, no production. Management switched to a different radiator supplier. THEY came out on strike in sympathy with the Silverton workers. Purely to spite the Jaguar bosses. There was a lot of upper class/working class hatred and contempt. I don't know if it's still like that.

The demarcation disputes were insane. For instance, in shipbuilding, electricians laid cables and carpenters drilled holes. So an electrician would lay his cable as far as a bulkhead then send an assistant to call a carpenter to drill a hole through the bulkhead to continue laying cable. While waiting for the carpenter he sat and did nothing. If he attempted to drill a hole himself it was, "Down tools, everybody out" among the carpenters. The electricians were taking the bread from their children's mouths, they said.

As a consequence, certain industries, particularly shipbuilding and coal mining, became so inefficient they could only keep going through state subsidies. Maggie Thatcher refused to subsidise them further and demanded they become competitive.

If Labour had continued running the country during the North Sea oil boom I have little doubt they would have used the proceeds to placate the unions and continue with ever more massive subsidies. And as oil production went into decline Britain would either go heavily into debt with a third-world inflated currency, or look like Greece and Spain today.

Exactly. Thats what the people on the left dont understand. Their policies might work in the short term, but eventually it makes the economy worse. Same thing about Scandinavia, it would be like Greece if it wasn't for oil and gas.

But it is a balance that is needed. Going hard right doesn't work either.

BTW, Norway has lots of oil & gas but that is not true for Sweden and Finland.

Sweden have no oil and gas. We have iron ore (the best fields in the world) and timber. Swedish industry was built up before the socialist gouvernemt cam in place after WWII, and was only expanmded during that era. It worked well under socialist management untill they decided to implement Socialsim v 2.0. About then, it all started to tank. In the 1990ies we had a shift to a blue gouvernment and they begun the de-regulation. Since that actually worked it could not be stopped once started, and we have de-regulated a lot ever since. The period of socialist madness was restricted to just about 2 decades. Bad enough butwe was not ruined by it.

I recall a bridge being built, many welders working. There was a toolbox left over the seam the welder was welding, he moved the box. 'All out lads'. Work at a standstill. A few days after resumption the same welder came across another toolbox in the way. Just welded around it and carried on.

I recall prices going up every time I went for the weekly shopping. Not by small amounts either. There were a lot of really bad things going on that really did have to be stopped. The trouble is that when people are benefiting from those bad things then they will whinge when they are stopped. Poor coal miners, give over. There was an interview with a striking miner's wife. She was complaining about how she couldn't even put a decent meal on the table but her examples showed they were eating far better than we were and as for having to cut back on the foreign holidays we could not dream of affording...


I don't claim that one abuse of power will necessarily staunch another one coming from the opposite end, and I have many friends who can attest to the problems of their union structures and leaders, and the apathy of members, etc.. but as with Churchill and 'Democracy is the worst form of Gov't, except for all the others..', the solution to babies in dirty bathwater isn't to 'dump the lot'..

As with so many of these things, it will be necessary to find the models that work better than current broken ones, and make improvements. I'm more encouraged by profit-sharing models and some worker owned companies, where there is a strong incentive to do more and better work, as everyone gains by it, but also to see to safety and decency issues without just hoping for an 'overclass' to deem it a worthy improvement to be willing to offer up.

Anybody know a lot about this? (New method for hydrogen production)

There was some discussion last week.

Thanks Leanan.

It's not a gamechanger. Last I heard if the US was to source 100% of it's energy from wood, there would be no more trees in 5 years. Considering burning biomass is the most efficient way to extract the energy, there is no hope for a H powered economy.

Gas prices fall to $3 a gallon in some markets

The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas has dipped to just $3.58, a three-cent dip since late last week, 15 cents from a month ago, and 36 cents off of what the typical American motorist was spending this time in 2012.

Some reports indicate that the price has dropped below the $3 mark in a few Rocky Mountain communities near major refineries.

But despite concerns about Mideast instability – notably reductions in production in war-torn Syria – there appears to be a good supply, if not a glut of the black gold now available around the world.

The sudden decline in gas prices may be fueling a shift in the U.S. new car market, meanwhile. Sales of pickups, in particular, surged during March and light trucks outsold passenger cars on the whole, despite recent trends moving in the opposite direction.

Best hopes for not being wasteful with inexpensive gasoline during this "glut".

On my drive to work this morning in my 14yo 1500cc Hyundai I saw a Dodge Viper, a Dodge Challenger and a Ford Shelby 500, all obviously new. Party on!

People who can afford a $90K Viper will be able to afford gasoline long after most of us have had to give it up. Unless the unlikely occurs and Congress decides to ration by something other than price.

Really?! What if they lose their job? I remember in 2009 a lot of people who could afford a Viper....ended up losing their jobs...but now they are back to spending...I don't understand this thought process of some people with money will fair just fine if everything crashes...I don't think you are playing the scenario all the way out...it won't be BAU for some while everyone else suffers...if I have to feed my family some rich guy is not going to stop me

Yep. A lot of the Viper guys and the Corvette guys will lose their cars in a downturn. Most of the Ferrari and Rolls guys won't.

Yeah this is an important observation. Flash vs. substance, new money vs. old etc.

However I think the larger point is that cars across the board are going to start to lose value. Doesn't this have to be the case when we have so many cars and the fuel increasingly becomes either expensive or scarce?

Unless we are going to manipulate the auto market too and just keep them in inventory without allowing prices to clear, like they are doing with housing. That sort of thing can only go on so long. People have real limits on what they can pay for. Something has to give.

The Feds have been manipulating and pumping back up auto sales for some time. The totally anemic Dodd-Frank reforms deliberately exempted sub-prime auto loans from regulation and requirements of fitness for lending. There was the $3.5 Billion wasted on cash for clunkers to get people to buy newer cars and there is the ongoing $7500 credit for electric vehicles to try to pump up those auto sales.

It is likely that in a downturn there will be a lot of just bought pickups for sale...

Yes, there is a huge gas-guzzler bubble building. If gas prices shoot up then a lot of those people will start missing payments and the repo man will come. With the EVs, they won't be hit by higher gas prices and thus will be less likely to default on payments (though some will if they lose their jobs).

The auto makers are going to get slammed again too because they make most of their money on the gas guzzlers. The sales of more fuel efficient cars may go up but there is little to no profit in them at this point.

"in a few Rocky Mountain communities near major refineries"

In other words, a few people are able to get cheap gas due to the glut of oil around Alberta and North Dakota. A completely meaningless fact for most of the nation.

"The sudden decline in gas prices may be fueling a shift in the U.S. new car market, meanwhile. Sales of pickups, in particular, surged during March and light trucks outsold passenger cars on the whole, despite recent trends moving in the opposite direction."

Sigh. I think a lot of those people are really going to regret those purchases a few years down the road. Especially if the Keystone XL pipeline is completed such that oil can bypass those local markets and go straight down to Texas where it can fetch WTI prices and Brent prices if they are willing to ship it out.


That Dreadful Day, By James Howard Kunstler
on April 7, 2013 5:55 PM

For the moment, the trend seems pretty clear. Money from far and wide rushes into the
US stock markets because every other conceivable place to stash money produces no return, no interest,no increase,at a time when the value of central bank currencies is slip-slidin' somewhere south of Palookaville.

Another region of the trend concerns the recent peculiar behavior of gold and silver. Fear and greed
may rule the trade in paper instruments, but something else rules the trade in hard metals: uncertainty. With the precedent of Cyprus now established (never mind MF Global), you'd think people all over the planet would be buying gold and silver as stores of value without counterparty risk, but the price keeps slowly sinking.

Though I'm generally allergic to conspiracy theories, it smells like someone is engineering the downward behavior of the metals. The central banks of the US and Europe have a big incentive for driving the price down: it makes their currencies look stronger - despite the universal QE policies designed to make them actually weaker. That is, it gives the appearance that QE is not doing exactly what it is intended to do: wage currency war by driving down the value of money and incidentally inflating away the cost of debt denominated in these currencies.

Now, consider that hyperinflation is always a rather sudden phenomenon. When it comes on, it comes fast and hard, by the day and then the hour. The Fed and its handmaidens will not be able to control it when it happens, because it will spring from all their previous actions, including the concealment of the loss of value of the dollar via manipulation of the gold and silver markets - and Ben Bernanke can't pretend that his helicopter is a time machine. There will be no going back to undo what he's already done.

I’ve read about this idea of the price of gold and silver being manipulated from other sources, but it’s still hard to know if that is correct. After all, oil was 147 then dipped and has so far not returned to that price, and so why couldn’t precious metals have peaked then dipped in a similar manner?

I am no economics person but when I see the velocity of money falling while Bernanke prints 86 billion a month I would guess that it might result in a stable state with gold going nowhere, in US dollar terms.

But as well, I have no problem with the idea of a direct manipulation of gold in order to support the perceived value of US Fiat/treasuries.

As far as Russia and Chinas' gold buying goes, they would be mugs to not take advantage of this situation (Direct or indirect manipulation), in order to exchange US treasuries for gold bullion and would even tend to stabilize gold price in buying the dips.

It seems to me the type of manipulation is not as important as the result, that of keeping or removing the US dollar's status as the reserve currency.

I’ve read about this idea of the price of gold and silver being manipulated from other sources, but it’s still hard to know if that is correct.

What is "correct"? The "truth"?

If the well off are playing games - are they going to step up to the plate someday and admit that they have been playing games?

What was "the truth" about the Hunt Brothers and the Silver price game from the 1970's? Its far enough in the past that 'the truth' should be beyond the ability for anyone to do anything about past game playing.

GATA - Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee people can make their pitch as to what "is correct" and the people who care to try and figure out 'what is correct' can go jump down that rabbit hole and try to figure out what "is correct".


Want to see game playing - look at bitcoin pricing the last few weeks.

You might enjoy this from Zerohedge

Curious why the Dow Jones Industrial Average just hit new all time highs? Here's a partial list of recent economic events:

•Markit US PMI Miss
•ISM Manufacturing Miss
•ISM New York Miss
•Vehicle Sales Miss
•ADP Employment Miss
•ISM Services Miss
•Challenger Job Cuts Miss
•Initial Claims Miss
•Trade Balance Beat
•Non-Farm Payrolls Miss
•Hourly Earnings Miss
•NFIB Small Business Miss
•Wholesale Inventories Miss

And that's ignoring the absolute economic collapse in Europe, the Chinese slowdown, and the Japanese economic basketcase.


At least I am not the only person asking, WTF?


I don't see what is so surprising about it. Look at it as the 'what else are you going to do with it' place. Lots of older people are trying to stash away money for retirement. Well, where else are they going to put it but the stock market? Banks that pay close to zero interest? Bonds that pay very small amounts of interest? Real Estate that is stagnant and still has a backlog of foreclosures to process? Gold which is pretty high as is and is far above its industrialized use value such that industries are doing everything they can to substitute other materials.

So the money goes into the stock market. It has to go somewhere.

"Gold which is pretty high as is and is far above its industrialized use value ..."

Those Chinese and Russian buyers must be pretty dumb then. Imagine buying gold bullion in order to collapse the US dollar as a reserve currency, silly buggers, eh? Also read about how stocks did in Wiemar, a good place to run to, at first, but I would not stay there if I wished to save my ass.

Marc Faber says that if somebody had bought stocks during Weimar they would have done better than those with cash and government bonds.

There seems to be some long-standing mystery at the usual doom blogs about how can the market possibly be at all-time highs given all the poor fundamentals we've had over the past few years. It seems like there are multiple posts about how mysteifying and crazy it is that the market keeps going up.

The fed has basically said for the past few years that its goal is to elevate equity prices and support the market. Soooooo, that appears to be what is going on. Why is this still a mystery to zerohedge? They themselves have posted on it over and over.

The fundamental mistake is a model that assumes that the market can't go up with a significant minority of people hurting. Further, profits can go up while individual incomes of the workers go down or they are unemploye d. And as you say, the FED made it quite clear that they would do whatever is necessary to keep the market pumped up. They don't call him Helicopter Bin for nothing. Full disclosure. I bought into the theory that the market would go down or wouldn't go up this high.

But then there is the future. Ahhh. That is always the problem. We can say with reasonable certainty this bubble will burst. But when is the hard question.

I've been following recent developments in solar - pretty exciting.

Has anyone seen any recent reports about the effect on utility demand curves, especially in places like Hawaii, Iowa and California?

This pdf reveals a lot about the impact of renewables on the Hawaii County grid. With renewables amounting to about 40% of production, excess wind generation is often curtailed, especially in the early morning.


Has there been any exploration by HELCO of Demand Side Management, Smart Metering, etc?

The utility tries to get as much demand moved to the night as possible but there are not many loads that can be shifted. The Big Island is mostly residential and light commercial plus the resort hotels.

So far nothing has happened with smart metering except a few pilot projects.

What is really needed is storage to handle periods of excess wind power. Pumped hydro has been looked at, but so far nothing concrete has happened.

The utility (HELCO)has done pretty well with the high penetration of wind and solar. If a small island grid can handle it, the mainland grids should be able to do so too. I think that renewables would have to get to over 50% of the total generation before anyone could even begin worry about their causing grid instability.

They are a bit smaller than your home islands, but you may be interested in this on how the Faeroes have got a smart grid up and running:


there are not many loads that can be shifted.

I think HELCO's primary problem is that they have to keep a lot of oil generation running, in order to provide backup in case wind or solar suddenly dies down. That doesn't require shifting loads to the night time, it just requires having the capability to turn off some demand for an hour or two as needed, so they can power down the oil generators almost all of the time and still be assured that they can turn off demand long enough to have time to ramp up generation to provide backup.

So, air conditioners (residential and commercial) could be set up so that the thermostat could be turned up 2-4 degrees for 1-2 hours, and that would help HELCO a great deal. Many other loads can be handled in the same way: light levels can be reduced, freezer thermostats can be reset, etc.

That would be much cheaper than pumped hydro, much faster to implement - better in every way.

Fast-dispatchable fossil fuel generation systems will probably be a growth area as renewables get more penetration.

I wonder if fuel cells may finally see their day . . . natural gas fuel cell electricity generation systems would seem like a nice way of being able to ramp power up & down reasonably quickly.

I would think that large diesels would make sense here - they can be ramped up pretty quickly - in less than a minute AFAIK. Diesel propulsion motors can get as large as 80MW, which would be more than large enough for Hawaii.

Fuel cells would be efficient, but have a relatively large capital cost per MW, which is probably the wrong way to go for backup power, which hopefully will be used relatively rarely. In a situation of very low utilization/capacity factors, you want to minimize capital cost, and efficiency is relatively unimportant.

Via Wikipedia: The Wärtsilä RT-flex96C is a two-stroke turbocharged low-speed diesel engine designed by the Finnish manufacturer Wärtsilä. It is currently considered the largest reciprocating engine in the world, designed for large container ships, running on heavy fuel oil. It stands at 13.5 metres (44 ft) high, is 26.59 m (87 ft) long, and weighs over 2300 tonnes in its largest 14-cylinder version — producing 80080 kW.

Yeah, that's the one. It gets better than 50% thermal efficiency, too.

Renewable penetration in California is pretty good but not at the point where it is causing substantial issues yet, AFAIK. But when the penetration gets larger, California should be a OK shape since much of the FF generation is natural gas which tends to be a bit more flexible (than coal or nuclear).

Brazil Suffers Historic Drought

By the end of 2012, 1,243 municipalities of the sertão and beyond had asked for government help due to the lack of rainfall. The Ministry of National Integration estimates that a total of 10 million people are being affected – making it Brazil’s worst drought in the past 50 years.

“This time, the drought went beyond the borders of the semiarid region and reached into neighboring areas,” said Humberto Miranda, director of agricultural development at the Bahia Federation of Agriculture and Livestock (FAEB). “This drought also has gone on for a long time, which has caused untold economic damage. We’ve had more than two years of below-average rainfall and many families are leaving the sertão.”

In the semiarid region of the state of Bahia, the drought has killed more than a million head of cattle, equivalent to half of the region’s cattle herd.

Crops are also suffering from the drought. In northern Minas Gerais, which is part of Brazil’s semiarid region, corn crop losses are around 90%, according to the state-run Minas Gerais Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Company (EMATER).

In the case of beans, the situation is even more serious. Bahia, Pernambuco and almost all of the municipalities in the far north of Minas Gerais have lost their crops.

“We lost almost 100% of the cassava crop in Pernambuco,” said Tatiana Seabra of the Agronomic Institute of Pernambuco (IPA).

Mea Cupla that I did not provide better links the other day in my Soylent Green comments.

I took the additional 3-5 mins today to work my search engine mojo and have better links for you all. Enjoy.


Michael C. Lynch is crowing: When Peak Oil Advocates Disappeared

The past couple of years have seen an amazing transformation of the argument that oil and gas production will soon peak with catastrophic consequences, which has given way to the insistence that we don't really need fossil fuels. In a perverse reversal, the peak oil advocates have mostly stopped arguing that the petroleum resource is scarce, instead saying it is abundant but expensive, while the renewable proponents insist that renewable resources are enormous, and suggest that the costs are not unreasonable.

Well, I know at least a few peak oil advocates who have not changed their tune. In fact most have not. Mike has just not been following the peak oil blogs. Most insist that peak oil is upon us.

I really don't understand all this wild optimism by peak oil deniers like Lynch. Nothing has changed anywhere but the US where a little short lived tight oil has been found. Yet these folks are dancing jigs celebrating the death of peak oil. I think they will find that this is one that has been greatly exaggerated.

Ron P.

Maybe the third time's the charm.

The increase in US C+C production, leading up to the 1970 peak, did not continue forever.

The subsequent rebound in US C+C production (as a result of North Slope production coming on line), leading up to the 1985 secondary peak, did not continue forever.

So, the argument is that the current rebound in US C+C production (as a result of tight/shale plays), will continue forever.

This time, the Cornucopians insist they are right, and this time we will see a virtually infinite rate of increase in our production of a finite fossil fuel resource base.

On The Cover/Top Stories
Really, Really Cheap Oil
Christopher Helman 10.02.06

Don't sell that SUV just yet. Oil, at a recent $66.50 a barrel, will fall to $45 by mid-2007 [note it was still over $63 in June, 2007 and went to over $133 in June, 2008] and could dip briefly into the 20s in 2008. Sometime next year you are going to see a $1.95 price on a gas pump.

So says Michael C. Lynch, 51, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Amherst, Mass. ....His abiding faith in technology's ability to wring oil from the most tucked-away places have put him on the outer margins of conventional thinking. He says, "I've been a gadfly since I started."


[Note that Wikipedia defines Gadfly as :

"Gadfly", a fly that annoys horses and other livestock, usually a horse-fly or a botfly

In other words, just a pest that likes to be contrary, but isn't really serious--at least that is my take of the definition. So even he doesn't take himself seriously.

And it is always interesting to note that Lynch's degree is in Political Science and Yergin's degree is in International Relations. Kind of like relying on two Social Science majors to give you advice on your brain cancer].

Several years ago, based on Yergin's 2004 call for a future long term oil price of $38 per barrel, I suggested that we price oil in "Yergins," with $38 = One Yergin. I guess we could also price oil in "Lynches," with $45 = One Lynch.

... it is always interesting to note that Lynch's degree is in Political Science and Yergin's degree is in International Relations. Kind of like relying on two Social Science majors to give you advice on your brain cancer.

I can't understand why Lynch and others like him are ignoring data and geology.

But if I've learned one thing here at TOD it is that half of the energy descent we face is "above ground." Thus social science in general, and political science and international relations in particular, have a significant role as things play out. Even if some of us here are much too quick to denigrate them.

And we should beware of comments that border on ad hominem attacks.

Wrong and even stupid ideas flow from all sorts of people regardless of their degree and there seems to be an assumption that all learning during or after the pursuit of that degree can take in other ideas, concepts, subjects, and disciplines. My first deep exposure to resource constraints, exponential population growth functions, peak oil, environmental destruction, and global warming was a result of my readings in economics and economics related books and text books. Perhaps the particular college I attended believe in a more comprehensive view of the world but it does not necessarily follow that those who majored in economics know nothing of the world beyond classical economics.

Part of the problem may come in when people abandon their academic principles in the pursuit of power and money. At a certain point, they become the purveyors of misinformation that those who pay the bills want to hear. Otherwise known as think tanks funded by very wealthy donors.

I don't know what Yergin's specific problem is but it doesn't necessarily flow from what he studied in college a long time ago.

I can't understand why Lynch and others like him are ignoring data and geology.

because it pays better?

"because it pays better?"

Exactly. Any industry always rewards those who side with it and endorse it, and basically becomes an enemy of any one who is critical of it.

Think of all the people who consulted positively, and lucratively, for the tobacco industry, and of all the people who are presently consulting positively, and lucratively, for anti-global-warming interests.

On the other hand, think of what happened to Art Berman when he simply tried to show that the shale gas industry was in a bubble back in 2009 (Devon did it's best to turn him into an industry pariah.)

Saying "I guess I was wrong" is a small price to pay once you have millions of dollars in the your bank account. In Lynch's case, it sounds like he laughs all the way to his bank.

(Sorry to be so skeptical, but whenever anyone asks me, "Why would he lie?", I just ask them, "Would Lance Armstrong lie to you?"]

"Think of all the people who consulted positively, and lucratively, for the tobacco industry, and of all the people who are presently consulting positively, and lucratively, for anti-global-warming interests. "

The correct term of art for this is "prostitute".

Hey, that gives a bad name to honest sex workers the world over!

I prefer "mercenary".

Actually, I think you make a valid point. 'Mercenary' it is. That's probably the most polite term I can think of, and certainly the most polite term that would be suitable for posting on TOD...

I was in a relationship with an ex-prostitute. I reserve the term solely for sex-workers. For them who sell their honor, I use the swedish term "hora". Should be easy enough to translate to english.

Winds on the west coast:

The National Weather Service has extended wind warnings into Tuesday morning, warning of gusts topping 80 mph.

The winds have reduced visibility in desert areas because of dust, and there have been reports of scattered power outages, including in Ventura County and the Palm Springs area. Fire officials were responding to a small brush fire in Saugus near Bouquet Canyon Road and Esquerra Road.

This kind of wind event has been the cause of massive fires destroying thousands of homes and causing many deaths in California. Downed power lines aren't the only cause, improperly grounded lines have caused electrical arcs igniting dry grass and weeds around the guy wires.

I just set up my Honda 2000i generator to power my 'fridge and some lights if the grid goes down.
Tom near San Diego.


In No. CA the winds were not as high, but still blew Tyvek off walls of building being added to our property, flapping so hard we found it very difficult to go to sleep Sunday night. Really wondered if the walls that had no siding would blow down. Fortunately the winds have stopped and we are back on schedule with our cornucopian structure that is being built based on the idea that not only do we need it now (for business), but the good times will continue to roll long enough to substantiate the addition.

Musings: Natural Gas Output Falls In December; Start Of A Trend?

by G. Allen Brooks, PPHB LP, Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The post is a little stale but I thought the gas flaring chart was worth highlighting. Probably already been posted recently.

Re: http://www.examiner.com/article/peak-oil-not-dead-america-s-next-top-gamble

Reading this article it strikes me that some of the "Peak Oil Theory Is Dead" crowd think we are talking about the oil running out, not flow rates declining. IS this realy what is going on?

In an nutshell yes but at thh same time ignoring that EROEI is decreasing.

Secretary Lew wants the Germans to go shopping:

US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew calls for demand boost

The US Treasury Secretary has urged countries with the "capacity" to do more to boost economic grow through consumer demand, in an apparent reference to Germany....

..."As we continue to address many of our long-term challenges, our economy's strength remains sensitive to events beyond our shores. We have an immense stake in a prosperous Europe," he told a press conference.

In an apparent reference to Germany, he said consumer demand must be the driver of growth. He said policies that encouraged this in "countries that have the capacity" would be "helpful"...

Yes, we must consume our way back to prosperity, though this time the Europeans must do their part. Sec. Lew must have taken this from Bush the Younger's playbook.

Problem is, as far as I see it, that Germans by and large have no time for the disposable crap manufactured in many other parts of the world. From what I have seen of Germany and Germans, they really have little patience for non durable "durable goods". When they buy something, they expect it to last a while. Good luck trying to get Germans "to do more to boost economic grow through consumer demand", unless you have some high quality, truly durable goods to sell to them!

Alan from the islands

I have had my Braun made in Germany coffee grinder since 1976. Works perfectly.

This is what we in Europe call "German Quality". There are a few countries on the continent that deserved that label. Sweden is another one.

Yep, my wife is jeweler, and she is astounded by German quality tools.
Scandinavia is on par, but it goes downhill from there.

The 2013 Arctic melt season has just recently begun, and as we all know last year was a record melt year for Arctic ice extent. During that season many people were curious about Greenland's melt. As a result a new website has been added to provide daily satellite pictorial data of Greenland's melt areas. Here's the link:


As you will notice the season has just begun there as well, with some melting at the southern tip. A bell curve is also shown for the time period of the annual melt season.

This years melt season will be interesting in the Chinese kind of way. Extent in 5:th lowest ever, volume probably the lowest ever (for spring maximum), the ice is fractured and polynyas (patches of open water) are present on disturbingly northward locations. The area that are 1:st year ice (formed after last september minimum) is the largest percentual ever, and the borderline between 1-year and 2-year old is very close to the north pole. Even with average melt weather there will be a dramatic melt season, and if there are above average melt conditions, melt will be catastrophical.

Yes, this melt season should be interesting to watch for the reasons you mentioned. Regarding the ice cracking you've probably seen the best time lapse showing the immense area that has cracked on Neven's arctic blog:


Scroll down to find it. The cracking on that scale for the ice expansion part of the of year is apparently a recent phenomenon resulting from reduced ice volume. I'm very curious to see how the cracking influences ice extent.

2012 is of course the new ice extent record low, with 2007 as the previous record, with 5 years between those records. Since 1987, when record keeping began on ice extent, low records have so far not occurred in succesive years, meaning it's unlikely a new record will occur this melt season, but it's still possible especially with all the cracking.

A new record september low is possible. It is all down to the weather now. But record low is within the realm of possibility now.

The Real Reason the U.S. Economy Won’t Take Off (Including Video)

If you want evidence that the U.S. economy is rebounding, forget analyzing common economic indicators like home sales, retail sales, consumer confidence and manufacturing data. Economists and individuals need to track just one key measure of data: oil consumption. That’s the thesis of Chris Martenson, author of PeakProsperity.com and the “Crash Course” Series. Martenson says oil has always been very tightly associated with economic growth. Oil prices have not returned to their 2008 all-time highs and that’s not necessarily a good thing, he argues.

“If you want to have economic growth you’re going to need growth in oil consumption,” he says in an interview at the 2013 Wine Country Conference in Sonoma benefiting the Les Turner ALS Foundation. “Oil is the lifeblood of any economy.”

Healthy dose of reality on Yahoo Finance this morning

Alan from the islands

So there is no way to have economic growth without increased oil consumption. Okay, fine. Bring on the steady state economy.

"Okay, fine. Bring on the steady state economy."

But unfortunately the steady state in terms of oil is nothing steady...
(just the same number of barrels burnt per year)

Since the economy in its current form cannot exist without perpetual growth (debt, consumption, population), what you are really saying is "bring on the collapse". Not a bad thing for the thousands of other species left on the planet, but... the transition will not be pretty and powerful BAU vested interests will not give up that power willingly.

Martenson says oil has always been very tightly associated with economic growth.

It's about time someone landed on that one. Farther up this Drumbeat is a thread on how the UK has reduced oil consumption since 2000, and I asked if during that time has UK GDP reduced, flattened or risen? That's where the thread ended. But I'd like to know the answer to that question because I suspect growth has been flat to recessionary because of what Martenson said in the blockquotes above.

Yeah, it has to do with energy usage as it relates to economic activity, i.e. GDP. This answers the question as to why low interest rates are not spurring growth like they once did, why there is so much Govt. borrowing and QE's.

2001: $1.5T
2011: $2.5T

Source: Wolfram: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=uk+gdp

60% increase in GDP with reduced oil consumption? Sounds like an Amory Lovins wet dream :)

Well . . . are those inflation adjusted?

But one can certainly increase GDP w/o oil. It is just not as easy to do. Software, movies, videogames, telecommunications, education, finance, etc. are all ways to create wealth without much energy input. And the UK is big in the FIRE area . . . Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, banking, etc. But if you want to build homes, cars, etc. that will take oil.

speculawyer, yes i agree there are other ways to produce gdp and another one is by becoming a nation of poets,very little FF input there. The other products needed for production would merely be, a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and a pretty thou. Not much more FF needed there as well.

Let us toast going back to a simple life.

Introducing the 97-month car loan

Last month Nakisha Bishop took out a loan to buy a $23,000 Toyota Camry and pay off several thousand dollars still owed on her old car. The key to making it work: she got more than six years—75 months in all—to pay it off.

"I had a new baby on the way, and I was trying to keep my monthly payment a little bit lower to help afford child care," Ms. Bishop, a 34-year-old sheriff's deputy in Palm Beach County, Fla., said recently. She pays $480 a month for the 2013 Camry, just $5 a month more than the note on her old car. The car won't be paid off until her 1-month-old daughter is heading to first grade.

Ms. Bishop's 75-month loan illustrates two important trends rippling through the U.S. auto industry. Rising new-car prices and competition among lenders to attract borrowers is pushing loans to lengthier terms. In part, banks see the longer terms as a way to attract buyers, by keeping monthly payments under $500 a month.

*boom* My head just exploded. I'm gonna say it again . . . we are inflating a gas guzzler bubble.

I think car loan people should be forced to take into account the fuel costs for vehicles.

I personally consider a Camry pretty close to being a luxury car - it definitely sounds like this person can't afford it, even with the payments spread out over 75 months. What happens if expensive repairs are needed in the 5th year?

Aside from this, if it really is a 75 month loan, she will have paid $36K for a $26K loan ($23K car + perhaps $3K on the previous loan) - the lender is doing very well.

A young person , in particular, should be their own lender. buy a weather beater and run it into the ground while paying yourself the monthly on the car of ones dreams. Personally I would never buy a new car loan or no loan. It is much more exiting running a bucket of bolts. One car I had, the brakes were so bad that they seized on one side while approaching an intersection and I found myself on the opposite side of the street going back the way I came. What a gas that was, you can't find performance like that in a new car, right?

When I was in canada last week on vacation with my wife, I saw a commercial for a 72mo load for a car. Those are decently common here in the states too, so I turned to my wife and said "I wonder how long until we see an 84mo loan for a car?" I kid you not the next commercial was for an 84mo loan. It was very surreal. We laughed about it for several days.


H7N9 bird flu may mutate 8 times faster than regular flu, study finds

The new bird flu could be mutating up to eight times faster than an average flu virus around a protein that binds it to humans, a team of research scientists in Shenzhen says.

Dr He Jiankui, an associate professor at South University of Science and Technology of China, said yesterday that the authorities should be alarmed by the results of their research and step up monitoring and control efforts to prevent a possible pandemic.

With genetic code of the virus obtained from mainland authorities, the team scrutinised haemagglutinin, a protein that plays a crucial rule in the process of infection. The protein binds the virus to an animal cell, such as respiratory cells in humans, and bores a hole in the cell's membrane to allow entry by the virus.

The researchers found dramatic mutation of haemagglutinin in one of the four flu strains released for study by the central government. Nine of the protein's 560 amino acids had changed. In a typical flu virus, only one or two amino acids could change in such a short period of time, He said.

"It happened in just one or two weeks. The speed may not have caught up with the HIV, but it's quite unusual for a flu."


CDC activates emergency center over H7N9

Robert Roos * News Editor

Apr 9, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Atlanta yesterday to support the response to the H7N9 influenza outbreak in China, CDC officials said in an e-mailed statement today.

The EOC was activated at level 2, the second of three levels. Level 1, the highest, signals an agency-wide response. "This is a limited activation that allows for the use of additional resources and staff to meet the technical needs of a public health response," the agency said.

Activation was prompted because the novel H7N9 avian influenza virus has never been seen before in animals or humans and because reports from China have linked it to severe human disease, the agency said.


WHO: Human infection with influenza A(H7N9) virus in China - update

9 April 2013 - As of 9 April 2013 (14:00 CET), the National Health and Family Planning Commission notified WHO of an additional three laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with influenza A(H7N9) virus.

The latest laboratory-confirmed cases include two patients from Jiangsu – an 85 -year-old man who became ill on 28 March 2013 and a 25-year-old pregnant woman who became ill on 30 March 2013. Both are in severe condition. The third patient is a 64-year-old man from Shanghai who became ill on 1 April 2013, and died on 7 April 2013.

To date, a total of 24 cases have been laboratory confirmed with influenza A(H7N9) virus in China, including seven deaths, 14 severe cases and three mild cases.

Edit: Updates coming fast now - another 2 deaths reported since today's WHO update.


Two patients from east China's Anhui and Jiangsu provinces who were confirmed as H7N9 cases days ago died of the avian influenza on Tuesday afternoon, said health authorities.

This has brought the total number of deaths caused by the H7N9 bird flu in the country to nine, the National Health and Family Planning Commission announced in a daily update on H7N9 cases across China.

The agency also said that, during the 25-hour period ending 6 p.m. on Tuesday, China has confirmed four new cases of H7N9 avian influenza, with two each in east China's Zhejiang Province and Shanghai City.

To date, a total of 24 cases have been laboratory confirmed with influenza A(H7N9) virus in China, including seven deaths, 14 severe cases and three mild cases.

This is a deadly disease. Is this thing airborne now ?

The protein binds the virus to an animal cell, such as respiratory cells in humans, and bores a hole in the cell's membrane to allow entry by the virus.

Protein bores a hole to allow entry by the virus?! Sounds like a symbiosis.
"Alright boys, we got you in, now the rest is up to you."

Be careful with these death rates figures. The Mexican flu outbreak of a few years ago seemed to have a high death rate but the figures were well skewed. The rate was derived from the hospital cases and not from the general population that had flu and only those people who were seriously ill were ending up in hospital. The seen death rate was the death rate in already very ill people while many more were sniffling their way through it at home. There was also the added distortion of an election going on at the time with local politicians keen to throw figures around to show that the 'other party' was not doing its job.


The story I heard was that aresnic lowers your imune defense, and the original outbreak was in a rural area where the local water had lots of arsenic in it, so they had a high death rate in that area. Then the panic spread.

Actually there was a sporadic mutation of swine flu to a much more severe form. Mexico and Ukraine in particular saw a lot of these mutated strains. Unlike the 1918 variant the swine H1N1 did not (or hasn't yet) developed the complementary gene changes that allow the deep lung variant to also transmit efficiently human-human, The WHO smothered contacts of these cases with anti-virals to hinder any further transmission even at low levels of this variant.

People here often won't turn to doctor or hospital until they are very ill. Many just buy a tablet from their local shop, yep, they are snipped off and sold one by one, or get whatever snake oil is being sold or maybe just struggle through. The death rate statistics came from those who were diagnosed correctly by their doctor, many 'doctors' in rural areas are just people who have had a little medical training or none, or arrived in hospital. For each person who got counted in the statistics there was a very large group of people who were never included.


PS For an example of rural people not visiting doctor or hospital take the case of a scorpion sting. Many will tie off the affected limb and then chop off the offending limb with a machete rather than seek medical help or use the widely available anti-venine (which I should think about getting and keeping in the fridge).

If we are to believe the Chinese there are no other cases to be found despite extensive testing of humans in contact with the patients and the disease is not transmitting human-human. However gene changes signalling mammalian adaptation are present in all the gene sequences in human patients. The virus is not found in any other mammals according to the Chinese. The related H7N9 they have found in birds does not have several of the gene changes found in humans.

It also already has several of the exact same genetic changes forced upon H5N1 bird flu by researchers to allow it to spread through the air human-human and maintain its lethality.

It is very possible the Chinese are hiding human-human transmission. If so you are correct and the real case fatality rate cannot be determined. If they are not hiding anything then the virus pool is in some mammal widespread and capable of jumping to humans and we haven't found it yet. The Chinese say it is not in pigs.

So we have a lot of unknowns but the genes have a lot of people worried. Almost like the virus has read the bird-flu research on what changes are needed for it become airborne.

Anyone else having their comments vanish or is just me on a certain subject? Will this comment get through or will it vanish as well. Two messages of mine have not appeared with a message suggesting I said something not liked (there were no naughty words). I am trying not to set it off. I wonder if this appears.

EDIT: OK My comment has now appeared. Still would like to know why it was delayed for moderation. Thanks to whoever approved it.

We have a new spam filter. It sometimes catches non-spam comments. They are queued for moderation, which basically means they are hidden until Kate or I approve them.

Unfortunately, this is necessary because we are being hammered by spammers. Some threads got 10 spam comments for every legitimate one.

We are trying to adjust the filter so it's less aggressive. We may also try switching to a different product. In the mean time, don't panic if your comment is queued for moderation. Just be patient, and it will eventually appear. Unless it's repeated "Hey, where's my comment?" posts, in which case I probably won't bother to approve it.

As for what triggers it...images, links, and very short comments seem to be most often caught in the filter. Don't worry about it. Don't change your posting style because of the spam filter. Don't keep re-posting the same comment hoping to get through - it won't. Just wait until the staff approves it.

Also...if your comment was queued for moderation, don't edit it once it appears. That will hide it again.

Thanks for the explanation. I just wish it had picked a less potentially worrying topic to block me on the first time. Just about had me heading off to the hills :-)

This wasn't the first time. Many, many of your comments have been blocked by the spam filter before, including the ones about the UK gas storage situation. You just never noticed before.

I can't see how I could have missed the message that came up on the screen telling me it had been blocked. Or is it the message that is new as I could easily have not noticed if it was queued silently but appeared shortly after.

Btw, the UK Long Range Storage total has actually gone negative. We now have minus 228 GWh in long range storage according to national grid.

The message is not new, but many people don't seem to notice it.

Perhaps if your comment is very long, you don't see the message at the top of the screen.


When I posted the comments this morning my message did NOT appear on screen. The screen cleared when I clicked "save" and virtually the only thing then displayed on-screen was the message that the post had been queued - near impossible to miss that. It most certainly did not display my post with a little message at the top I could have missed, Perhaps this has been changed recently to make it more obvious to the user what has happened?

In any case now I'm aware of it then it's all fine :-)

"The screen cleared when I clicked "save" and virtually the only thing then displayed on-screen was the message that the post had been queued - near impossible to miss that."

That's the message I get when my posts get swallowed by the filter. Reveals the quite amazing work by the moderators here as most of them show up pretty quickly.

Links are the only sure-fire trigger though I think I had some luck with dot gov and dot org addresses. Other days it seems impossible to tell what sets it off - sometimes I just feel like I'm on a secret feces-list. I got 5 of 5 queued one day and I swear I wasn't doing anything wonky.

I think editing a post slightly can trigger the spam filter as it may think there are several near duplicates in what it thinks are different posts indicating spam. I had a comment accepted but then removed and queued for moderation only when I edited it. Perhaps the spam filter could be turned off for edited messages. It is unlikely the bots would later edit an innocent message of their own but if they started to do so it could b turned back on.