Drumbeat: April 12, 2013

Fossil fuel subsidies dwarf green investment – report

Developing nations are spending $396 bn on fossil fuel subsidies a year while receiving $5 bn in support to tackle climate change, according to a new study by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

The UN climate negotiations agreed to find $100 bn of climate finance a year from 2020 onwards with a meeting in Washington DC this week exploring ways to source this from the private sector.

The ODI’s At Cross Purposes report warns that far greater action will be required from politicians to address what it calls skewed policies that support high emitting fossil fuels in large numbers while struggling to help nations to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Egypt debts to oil firms highlight subsidies struggle

LONDON (Reuters) - Egypt owes at least $5 billion to oil companies, half of it overdue, corporate reports have revealed, in a development highlighting the country's struggle to meet soaring energy bills while subsidising prices to avoid public unrest.

Egypt has been delaying payments to firms producing oil and gas on its territory as it has struggled with dwindling currency reserves, rising food bills and sliding tourism revenues since the 2011 revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak.

Most oil firms hope to recoup the debts in full, but they acknowledge it could take years. While they are still planning to invest in new projects in Egypt that will help it avoid an energy meltdown, the debt situation remains a challenge.

ConocoPhillips Suspends 2014 Alaska Drilling Plans, Cites Regulatory Uncertainty

ConocoPhillips suspended plans Wednesday to drill for oil in the waters off of Alaska's Northern Coast in 2014, blaming unclear federal regulations for Arctic Ocean drilling.

The announcement is another setback for the energy industry's plans to explore the U.S. Arctic ocean, thought to contain huge amounts of oil. Royal Dutch Shell PLC called off its 2013 Alaskan drilling program after two of its Arctic Ocean rigs were damaged, one after running aground an island off the Alaskan coast earlier this year.

IEA Cuts Oil-Demand Forecast Because of European Demand

The International Energy Agency reduced its forecasts for global oil demand in 2013 for a third consecutive month, predicting the weakest consumption in Europe in almost three decades.

The IEA cut its estimate by 45,000 barrels a day, predicting that world consumption will increase by a “subdued” 795,000 barrels a day, or 0.9 percent, to 90.58 million barrels a day this year. European demand will slump by 330,000 barrels a day. Still, an imminent recovery in refinery operations after maintenance and political threats to supply mean “it may be too early to call a bear market,” the IEA said.

WTI Crude Drops a Second Day, Erasing Its Weekly Advance

West Texas Intermediate crude fell for a second day, erasing its advance this week. The U.S. benchmark’s discount to London-traded Brent neared its narrowest in more than 14 months.

Futures dropped as much 1.4 percent in New York as Cyprus said it will ask the euro area for further financial aid, while investors awaited a report forecast to show U.S. retail sales stagnated in March. Oil prices may rebound next week, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts. WTI’s discount to Brent shrank to as little as $10.40 a barrel today, the smallest gap on an intraday basis since Jan. 26, 2012.

Australia’s Woodside shelves US$45B Browse LNG project

PERTH — Woodside Petroleum has shelved plans for its US$45-billion Browse liquefied natural gas project in Western Australia, saying it will consider a floating LNG plant after deciding the onshore development did not make economic sense.

Global energy firms have invested US$140-billion into six LNG plants in just two and half years as Australia ramps up production on its way to becoming the world’s largest exporter of the clean burning energy source.

But Australia’s LNG sector has seen investor interest cool due to huge costs overruns and with competition from North America where new supplies of gas have been exploited from shale.

ANALYSIS: Gazprom's Yamal-2 pipeline plan -- where's the logic?

London (Platts) - The decision by Russia's Gazprom in early April to revive the idea of a second line of the Yamal-Europe natural gas pipeline took some industry observers by surprise -- and it's not hard to see why.

According to Gazprom, the first line, which can already carry up to 33 billion cubic meters/year of Russian gas via Belarus and Poland to Germany, would be accompanied by a 15 Bcm/year capacity Yamal-2 pipeline up to the Belarus-Poland border, from where it would divide to carry gas to Slovakia and Hungary.

Mexican Constitutional Oil Change Achievable, PAN Senator Says

Mexico’s National Action Party supports a possible constitutional change to open the state- controlled oil industry to more private investment and will work with other parties to pass such legislation, according to the PAN’s top senator on the energy commission.

The PAN, as the party is known, wants to allow private companies to invest in oil and natural gas production and development, an area the nation’s charter now limits to state- owned Petroleos Mexicanos, Salvador Vega said. The party would stop short of allowing companies to own Mexico’s oil, as they did before the late President Lazaro Cardenas nationalized them in 1938, he said.

Noble Energy CEO Cautions Israel on Reopening Gas Tax Issue

Noble Energy Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Charles Davidson would reconsider the U.S. company’s investments in Israel if the government raises the issue of tax rates on natural resources.

Houston, Texas-based Noble and Israeli gas exploration companies have discovered enough gas under the Mediterranean Sea over the past three years to supply the country’s needs for 150 years, giving Israel the opportunity to become a gas exporter.

Xstrata Said to Agree to 2013 Coal Contract at Lowest Since 2009

Xstrata Plc was said to sell a year’s supply of thermal coal to Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc. at the lowest settlement price since 2009.

The miner will supply the fuel starting this month at $95 a metric ton, said two people with knowledge of the deal who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential. That’s down from its April 2012 settlement of $115 and the lowest since deals at $70 to $72 in 2009. The price Japanese utilities agree with Xstrata is typically used as a benchmark for contracts around the region.

Genel Energy Makes Oil Find in Kurdistan

LONDON — Genel Energy, the oil exploration company headed by Tony Hayward, the former chief executive of BP, announced Wednesday that it had made a significant oil find in Kurdistan.

India to Continue Oil Imports from Iran Irrespective of Western Sanctions

TEHRAN (FNA)- India will continue crude imports from Iran despite the harsh western sanctions imposed against the oil-rich country, a senior Indian official announced.

India will continue to buy oil from "vital supplier" Iran, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said on Thursday in Berlin.

Bottlenecks put brakes on Iraq's oil export growth

LONDON (Reuters) - Pipeline bottlenecks at Iraq's southern ports are preventing OPEC's second-biggest producer from increasing oil exports, even while it offers competitive pricing that is attracting rising demand.

Regional rivals including OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabia were unnerved in December when Baghdad announced a 2013 export target of 2.9 million barrels per day (bpd), up 500,000 bpd from last year.

But the gains have yet to materialise.

Stuart Standiford: Seven Years More Data in the Hubbert Model

The estimated URR is now at 2500gb, right at the upper end of the 95% confidence interval of my 2006 analysis. So in seven years of additional data, during which time we used 210gb of oil, the estimate of total ultimate usage has increased by 250gb - more than we used in the meantime. Again, this should give you serious pause in thinking that we know the peak with much precision.

The peak date is now in mid 2010 - ie it has moved later by about three years. It is not out of the 95% confidence interval from my 2006 analysis, but I wouldn't now bet on it not moving out of it over the next seven years.

Peak Oil as seen through the eyes of Arab oil producers

The going-in assumption was that “peak oil” will occur in the near future. The timing of the impending onset of world oil decline was not an issue at the conference, rather the main focus was what the GCC countries should do soon to ensure a prosperous, long-term future. To many of us who have long suffered the vociferous denial of PO by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and OPEC countries, this conference represented a major change. In the words of Kjell Aleklett (Professor of Physics at Uppsala University, Sweden), who summarized highlights of the conference, the meeting was “an historic event.”

While many PO aficionados have been focused on the impacts and the mitigation of “peak oil” in the importing countries, most attendees at this conference were concerned with the impact that finite oil and gas reserves will have on the long-term future of their own exporting countries. They see the depletion of their large-but-limited reserves as affording their countries a period of time in which they either develop their countries into sustainable entities able to continue into the long term future or they lapse back into the poor, nomadic circumstances that existed prior to the discovery of oil/gas. Accordingly, much of the conference focus was on how the GCC countries might use their current and near-term largesse to build sustainable economic and government futures.

Petroleum industry conference attracts international speakers

According to Dr Jeremy Wakeford, a renowned energy and sustainability economist and one of the main speakers, falling oil production around the world and the gradual decline in the global peak oil flow rate will negatively impact South Africa, which imports 70% of its fuel needs.

Alternatives Drive the Peak of Oil Demand

Peak oil was supposed to be about oil's scarcity and it devastating economic impact as prices shot through the roof. But oil demand has been falling in developed countries, for over a decade in some cases, and Fool.com contributor Travis Hoium thinks that a peak in global demand is around the corner. Erin Miller sat down with Travis to see what's driving the change.

Peak Oil Flip-Flop

Ever since M. King Hubbert advanced the theory of peak oil in 1956, experts and non-experts alike have been debating about timing and relevance. (See here, here, here and here.) Hubbert’s argument seems like a no-brainer. Oil is a finite natural resource, so there must come a time when oil production peaks and begins to decline. The question is, when? And for a world economy that is largely fueled by oil, that “when” question is quite germane. If peak oil hits while oil demand is rising, it could spell worldwide economic disaster.

Obama Budget Ponders Sale of Tennessee Valley Authority

President Barack Obama is considering the sale of all or part of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the largest publicly owned U.S. power company, in a deal that may raise as much as $35 billion as the administration seeks to reduce the national debt.

A potential sale is part of a “strategic review” of the Knoxville, Tennessee-based nonprofit, which faces increasing capital costs, according to the administration’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal released yesterday. A sale may yield $30 billion to $35 billion in cash and reduced government debt obligations, said Travis Miller, a Chicago-based analyst for Morningstar Inc.

Are U.S. Pipelines Too Old for Oil?

The majority of America's pipelines were built decades ago. About 60% of pipes were laid before 1970, and close to 40% were built in 1950 or earlier. There is increasing concern that these old pipes are a major liability, and accidents like ExxonMobil's oil spill in Arkansas two weeks ago will happen more frequently. In this video, Fool.com contributor Aimee Duffy talks to fellow contributor Tyler Crowe about two other factors that could affect the integrity of our aging pipes.

North Dakota, a Portrait of an Oil Boom

North Dakota’s oil boom has been called everything from the region’s equivalent of a gold rush, to its version of Silicon Valley. And it’s all thanks to a the Bakken formation, a 360 million year old shale tectonic plate sitting underneath much of the northwestern part of the state, which is thought to hold around 18 billion barrels of oil.

But the good times have not come without a price: The state has run up against a serious shortage of housing for the thousands who have poured in looking for work. The method of extracting the oil is controversial, too. Hydraulic Fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is the bête noire of many environmentalists nationwide. The process sees workers inject pressurized fluid into the ground in order to release natural gas from the shale.

Shale Gas Isn't a Low-Emissions Fuel -- Yet

Without methane leakage, natural gas would create only about half the greenhouse gases per unit of energy as coal. Yet, methane is 72 times more potent than CO2 measured over 20 years, which is particularly important given that climate change is happening even more quickly than many models have predicted. (Methane has around 25 times more warming potential than CO2 over a 100 year timeframe.) At around three percent leakage, natural gas becomes more harmful than coal in the near term.

Russia Skips Hybrids in Push for Cars Using Natural Gas

MOSCOW — Igor A. Samarsky of the southern Russian city of Krasnodar gets fuel economy on his 1998 Lada sedan that would make a Prius owner green with environmental envy.

For all of 120 rubles — about $3.80, or a little more than a gallon of regular unleaded fuel in the United States — he can drive 140 miles. The Toyota hybrid would need three gallons of gas to drive that distance.

The only drawback in Mr. Samarsky’s mind is his wife’s lingering fear that the car, which runs on methane gas, will explode on the way to the grocery store.

New Solar Process Gets More Out of Natural Gas

WASHINGTON — The Energy Department is preparing to test a new way for solar power to make electricity: using the sun’s heat to increase the energy content of natural gas.

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., hope by this summer to carry out the test, which entails a process that could cut the amount of natural gas used — and the greenhouse gasses emitted — by 20 percent.

Libya aims to get about fifth of power from solar by 2020

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Libya is nearly ready to issue tenders for two new solar plants and aims to get a fifth of its power from renewable sources by 2020, while its sunshine could one day supply all of Europe, its electricity minister said.

Until now, the member country of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has relied almost entirely on its oil and gas reserves for its energy needs.

Climate change did not cause 2012 US drought, says government report

The summer of 2012 was the driest since record-keeping began more than a century ago, as well as one of the hottest, producing drought conditions across two-thirds of the continental United States.

Barack Obama and other prominent figures have repeatedly cited the drought as evidence of climate change. But the report released on Thursday by scientists at five different government agencies said that was not the case. The drought was "a sequence of unfortunate events" that occurred suddenly, the report said. The circumstances were so unusual the drought could never have been predicted.

How can we get more children cycling on the school run?

Ahead of one Red Nose day during my school years, some friends and I were thinking of ways to raise money when someone suggested we all cycle to school. Aged around 12, we were young enough to still love bikes over boys, and we were familiar with the route. For originality, which would surely help with sponsorship, we didn't know anyone else who cycled to school. We went home thinking it was the best plan ever, but when we reconvened the next morning every single parent had said no on the grounds of safety. They were happy for us to cycle quiet roads and paths at weekends but busy roads at rush hour were a non-starter.

A Green Forest Grows In The Desert

The Sahara Forest Project is a new environmental solution to create re-vegetation and green jobs through profitable production of food, water, clean electricity and biomass in desert areas. Supported by the UN, a pilot facility has been established in Qatar. Now, a documentary about the people and progress of the Sahara Forest Project is in the making, and gathering funds on Kickstarter.

Throw Seeds at Your Garden

At the core of my low-effort, high-return gardening style is a practice I call throwing seeds at the garden. This technique is exactly what it sounds like: After preparing the soil and deciding what I'm going to plant in a given plot, I blanket the area with seeds cast by the handful. These aren’t seeds for the plot’s designated crops, but seeds for a supplementary blanket of leafy plants to cover the space between the crop plants.

The seeds, usually a mixture of greens and carrots, grow into an edible, living mulch. I look at it as a bonus crop, as it grows in space that isn't normally planted. And, like nonedible mulch—e.g., straw, leaves, or grass clippings—my green carpet carries out an important function in the garden as a ground cover.

Martyl Langsdorf, Doomsday Clock Designer, Dies at 96

In 1953, with the United States and the Soviet Union testing hydrogen bombs and the cold war increasingly frigid, that ominous minute hand of hers stood just two ticks from the symbolically catastrophic 12. By 1991, after the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, it retreated to a relatively reassuring 11:43 p.m.

But the Doomsday Clock, which Mrs. Langsdorf drew for the June 1947 cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as a way to evoke the potential devastation of nuclear weapons, did not stay in reverse. Before Mrs. Langsdorf died on March 26, at 96, the board of the Bulletin, which adjusts the minute hand according to its annual assessments of threats to humanity, had set the clock to 11:55 p.m.

Virtual Bitcoin Mining Is a Real-World Environmental Disaster

Here's a puzzle: How can a virtual currency, existing in digital form on computer hard drives, demand real power and real fuel, and have real-world environmental costs? If you're struggling to think of an answer, welcome to the world of "Bitcoin mining."

Let's stop hiding behind recycling and be honest about consumption

As so many in her position do, she was using population as a means of disavowing her own impacts. The issue allowed her to transfer responsibility to others: people at the opposite end of the economic spectrum. It allowed her to pretend that her shopping and flying and endless refurbishments of multiple homes are not a problem. Recycling and population: these are the amulets people clasp in order not to see the clash between protecting the environment and rising consumption.

In a similar way, we have managed, with the help of a misleading global accounting system, to overlook one of the gravest impacts of our consumption. This too has allowed us to blame foreigners – particularly poorer foreigners – for the problem.

Europe: Back to the dark ages

Coal’s golden renaissance ... While coal use in electricity generation has dwindled in the United States, it has been staging a quiet comeback in Europe. Coal-fired power generation is growing at an annual rate of 5% and 22% in Germany and Spain, while gas-fired generation is falling by 15% and 23% respectively.

Coal to stay important in U.S. energy mix - environment agency pick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's pick to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told a Senate panel on Thursday that coal will remain important in the U.S. energy mix and that the EPA will be flexible in applying new pollution rules for coal-fired power plants.

Gina McCarthy, EPA's assistant administrator for air and radiation, was questioned by Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the agency's plans to roll out regulations soon to curb carbon emissions from power plants, blamed for contributing to global warming.

Coal fights to keep power in US energy mix
Four months after pledging to lead the United States on a path to sustainable energy, President Barack Obama faces a turning point on electricity generated from coal, one of the dirtiest of fuels.

Republicans Seize What They See as Keystone Momentum

House Republicans said President Barack Obama is taking too long to decide on the Keystone XL pipeline as they defended a bill that again seeks to force a decision on one of the nation’s most-political energy debates.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s panel on energy and power held a hearing yesterday on legislation that would allow the pipeline to be built without Obama’s approval. The committee may vote on the bill next week. The Senate isn’t considering a similar measure.

Alberta Looks at Renewable Energy Amid Push for Keystone

Alberta may boost the use of renewable energy to cut carbon dioxide emissions as the province lobbies U.S. officials to approve TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline.

Officials are in talks with companies that produce power from wind and water turbines about the best way to spur more development, Energy Minister Ken Hughes said yesterday in an interview from his Edmonton office. Options include importing hydro-electric power from Manitoba as well as changing policy to increase hydro and wind-power development, he said.

Canadian Nobel Laureate Testifies Keystone XL Pipeline Refusal an Important Step in Addressing Climate Change

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired) - Dr. Mark Jaccard of British Columbia's Simon Fraser University will testify in front of the U.S. Congress Subcommittee on Energy and Power today that President Obama must reject TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline if meaningful action is to be taken to prevent a 2 degree Celsius increase in global temperature.

A rejection of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline will slow development in the Alberta oil sands, according to Jaccard, and better position the U.S. for a transition to a low-carbon economy. The oil sands, along with other polluting fossil fuels, are not a viable fuel source if a 2 degree temperature increase is to be avoided.

The Fossil Fuel Resistance

It got so hot in Australia in January that the weather service had to add two new colors to its charts. A few weeks later, at the other end of the planet, new data from the CryoSat-2 satellite showed 80 percent of Arctic sea ice has disappeared. We're not breaking records anymore; we're breaking the planet. In 50 years, no one will care about the fiscal cliff or the Euro crisis. They'll just ask, "So the Arctic melted, and then what did you do?"

Here's the good news: We'll at least be able to say we fought.

Obama Budget Would Help Prepare for Climate Impacts

President Obama's proposed fiscal year 2014 budget includes funding to help U.S. communities increase their resilience to extreme weather and other climate change impacts.

The budget proposal also includes nearly $1 billion to address climate change on a global scale by reducing deforestation and promoting low-carbon growth in developing countries.

Experts say rapidly melting glaciers are raising the UK flood risk

A top EU environment official has warned that adapting to rising sea levels could cost Britain billions of pounds.

Jacqueline McGlade, who leads the European Environment Agency, said it would be a "significant problem" for coastal areas of the UK and urged the government to act now.

Cubans on Alert for Rising Sea Levels

TEHRAN (FNA)- Cuba's coastal communities are vulnerable to the gradual rise of sea levels as a result of global warming, an official said.

Director of the National Environmental Agency (AMA) Tomas Escobar warned that the rise in sea levels will affect agriculture and forestry, leaving severe consequences for a country that is struggling to wean itself off food imports.

Better rankings of climate vulnerability needed - experts

Which fares worse in a world of climate shifts, drought-ridden Burundi or flood-prone Bangladesh?

As poorer countries are hit by the effects of climate change and their resources to respond remain inadequate, richer nations have promised $100 billion a year by 2020 to help them adapt to the impacts and try to curb their own climate-changing emissions. But experts say dividing up the money requires answering one very tough question: Who is the most vulnerable to climate change?

Re: Experts say rapidly melting glaciers are raising the UK flood risk

Reading this story, I found a link to another story of interest regarding the recent cold weather over England:

Met Office investigating Arctic link to record low temperatures in UK

If it turns out that AGW is the cause, as the result of the loss of sea-ice, then one should expect to see more of this cold weather in future years...

E. Swanson

Re: Climate change did not cause 2012 US drought, says government report

HERE's a link to the full report (PDF warning, 57mb, lots of color graphics). Lots to digest there. I'm reminded of research about 20 years ago which indicated that the mid-western plains would experience greater drought frequency, based on historical data from sediment cores. There's normally something of a dividing line between the moist East and the dry West, roughly located along the 100th meridian. The suggestion was that the dividing line will shift toward the East as the Earth continues to warm. Check out the maps of the most extreme drought in the report...

E. Swanson

Hmm. We have this:

Climate change did not cause 2012 US drought, says government report

And this:

Finally, the question of climate change forcing was not comprehensively studied in this report. The analysis based on a single coupled model needs to be repeated using a suite of CMIP models. In this regard, it is useful to include here the conclusions of other assessment reports, using multiple models and other information than available in this 2012 study, on overall U.S. drought change during the last century and also on projections for the future.

Yes. For some good discussion about this, including impacts of the jet stream, I recommend the thread following The Guardian's article.

Apparently the UK is taking the weather/climate issue more seriously ...

Is the UK heading for ANOTHER Arctic winter? Met Office calls emergency meeting to discuss if melting ice is causing Britain to freeze

Forecasters are concerned that high levels of ice melt in the Arctic in recent years could be behind Britain’s increasingly bitter and longer winters.

The organisation’s leading climate change expert, Dr Julia Slingo, is to convene experts from around the world to establish whether this explains why Britain has been experiencing the coldest temperatures for almost 100 years.

If this is how climate change could manifest itself, then we need to understand that as a matter of urgency,’ she told ITV News.

Dr Jennifer Francis, a research professor at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, told ITV News that the UK's geographical position makes it particularly vulnerable to changes in the Arctic.

We seem to be getting a replay of what caused the Little Ice Age in the 1300's. The impact on agriculture was catastrophic during that time. What happened in North America during that period?

This time around of course we've got continued climate forcing. I'd imagine there will be some mega climate upheavals as the Little Ice Age II gets steamrollered by Climate Change I. The mid-latitudes being the battleground.

The Little Ice Age was coincident and probably caused by the Maunder Minimum in sunspot activity. Sunspots are at somewhat of a low activity level now at what should be the maximum of the current 11 year cycle.

... What happened in North America during that period?

- Collapse of the Anasazi indian culture in the Southwest US
- Collapse of the Mound Builder indian culture in the Midwest US
- Formation of the Sandhills of North Dakota

... computer simulations reveal that the Nebraska Sandhills likely had active sand dunes as recently as the Medieval Warm Period, when global temperatures were about 1°C (1.8°F) warmer than the current climate. Much of the area was a scrub desert, with desert-like conditions extending to several other states

... that would be the heart of the agricultural breadbasket of the US

Thanks - apparently I wasn't the only one that had such a reaction when reading the report. It isn't my field and I know I don't have the expertise, but it reads kind of like "It just sort of happened, we never saw it coming and can't figure out why - must be a one-off".

NOAA: Arctic nearly free of summer sea ice during first half
of 21st century

... •The “trendsetters” approach uses observed sea ice trends. These data show that the total amount of sea ice decreased rapidly over the previous decade. Using those trends, this approach extrapolates to a nearly sea ice-free Arctic by 2020.

... Taken together, the range among the multiple approaches still suggests that it is very likely that the timing for future sea ice loss will be within the first half of the 21st century, with a possibility of major loss within a decade or two.

I just had a curious thought: If the ice melts and there is increasing moisture in the atmosphere, perhaps Antarctica might take up some of it as snow and lock it back up... Hang on... (search: 'moisture warming antarctica snow') ...Look at this:

Climate models predict that,

...in a warmer world, ice slipping off Antarctica will raise sea levels. But they also show warmer air will hold more moisture, generating more snowfall over Antarctica. Piled up on the continent, that snow will keep water out of the oceans and moderate or even reverse the sea level rise from Antarctic melting.

Bintanja says that is wrong. Warm deep ocean currents will keep eating away at the ice shelves. But the cooler than anticipated air will evaporate less moisture and produce less snow. "More water stays in the ocean," he told New Scientist. Result: a cooler climate but more sea level rise.

Maybe Antarctica has oil. ;)

Climate change did not cause 2012 US drought

The connection is always illusive. When Katrina hit it was said there was no way to know if global warming had caused it to be more destructive than if there had not been global warming. In this case possibly climate change did not cause the drought, but what if it greatly worsened it? The connection between cause and effect can always be argued for and against and as long as the effects get discounted, the longer it will be before the cause is accepted.

This is a record report from my city from 2012 and is what started the drought in the Midwest. And then we set an unprecedented record for number of consecutive days without rain starting in April. This is less than one year after I personally witnessed the most extreme flood in my area. The chances of me seeing 3 1-in-500 year events in one year = 8 x 10^-9. A statistical impossibility! There has also already been statistical evidence of an increase in extreme weather events around the globe.

Record Warm March

The average temperature for March 2012 exceed the record average temperature of March 1910 by more than 4 degrees. To quote what Weather Bureau officials stated in March 1910, "Never since the Weather Bureau was established has there been such an early opening of spring." This statement may become true for Indiana, the Midwest and much of the eastern continental United States for March 2012.

EDIT: Master's has a blog post up regarding the report.

Well, you only need a small shift in the mean of the Bell curve to increase the likelyhood of extremes by an order of magnitude or more. Guess what global warming does to the mean of the Bell curve...

So your statistics based on the previous somwhat steady climate are not applicable anymore to the current changing climate.

The chances of me seeing 3 1-in-500 year events in one year = 8 x 10^-9.

This calculation is only valid IF they are statistically indenpedent.

If for exapmle the sweet spots are drilled first this will give a biased estimate of the area unless the spots are chosen totally indenpendent of the geology. I guess where people out there who could give good estimates but how do they figure out the correct bias?

Power Shift Away From Green Illusions - an interview with the author of a book called Green Illusions, who does not soften words:

The modern environmental movement has rolled over to become an outlet for loggers, energy firms and car companies to plug into. It is now primarily a social media platform for consumerism, growth and energy production - an institutionalized philanderer of green illusions. If you need evidence, just go to any climate rally and you'll see a strip mall of stands for green products, green jobs and green energy. These will do nothing to solve the crisis we face, which is not an energy crisis but rather a crisis of consumption.

Mainstream environmental groups seem transfixed by technological gadgetry and have succumbed to magical thinking surrounding their pet fetishes. The last thing you want to give to a growing population of high consumers is more "green" energy. Even if it did work as advertised, who knows what we would do with it, but it almost certainly wouldn't be good for other species on the planet or, for that matter, long-term human prosperity.

Wow! This is a fantastic interview which fits in with what many (not all) on TOD have been saying! In particular I like the arguments against electric cars backed up by National Academy of Sciences research apparently.

As the author says we need to REDUCE!

Here's the conclusion that I've come to...people want what they want - so how do you deliver that in the least destructive way while getting them to want something better?

There are some desires that just seem to be so ingrained that they need to be worked around. Think about what riding a horse means. Think about horse carriages, oxen plows, pack mules, servants carrying pharaohs.

For what has probably been since the beginning of time people have searched for personal transportation and vehicles to transport goods.

I'd like to know what's in that report he refers to...were they looking at EVs powered only by coal, using NiCad and PbA batteries? Were they using the assumption that NiMH can't be recycled (which is false) or that Li-ion can't be recycled? (which is also false)

What's the worse thing about cities? Traffic noise and pollution from traffic in my opinion. So what happens when you replace those ICE cars with EVs...no tailpipe emissions, and near silent operation...the cities becomes more friendly places to live. More people move there and there becomes less need for cars. Keep up constant pressure for alternatives - bike lanes, trolleys, buses, feet. Oppose new roads.

What has happened over time is that the people who advocate "return to nature," Earthships, hardship, etc get bulldozed out of the way by people who "don't believe in all that hippie shit." They're being asked to give up everything they've been raised to believe and become what they've been raised to abhor - overnight. It creates a knee-jerk reaction in complete opposition and shuts the conversation down.

The Pandora's Box of techno-genie has been opened. You can scream until you're hoarse that you need to turn off your heat and live a life of penance and self-flagellation but people will burn the forests bare and strip the Earth of everything living to maintain their comfort and they will subjugate and enslave nations and commit genocide. If you don't realize that is the level of the game being played - then you've already lost.

So work with the lizard brain, work with the least destructive things you have available, educate and advocate. At this point the probabilities seem higher that we're f&%ked, especially with 2.5 billion Chinese and Indians buying into the American Nightmare, but what else is there?

The world is
a bad place
A bad place
A terrible place to live
Oh but I don't want to die ..

- The Marmalade, Reflections of My Life

Well if you give people no more 'green' options then you are basically just telling people that they should kill themselves to help the planet. That kind of message is probably not going to succeed.

Wait - not buying "green" gadgets = death?

If "REDUCE" is the only good thing you can do then killing yourself is the logical extension of the maximum reduction. Your consumption drops to zero.

Reduction ad absurdum?

Reduction ad corpse.

Or what seems to be the case - Reduction ad(vertisement) Zombie.

This is a good interview and the main take home message is that we are all compromised. That's not an easy message for anybody to accept. Witness how ferociously people push back if you mention the hypocrisy of Al Gore, as a prime example of the bourgeois "environmentalism" of the money and status addicted American left.

America will lose its empire and its standard of living no matter what it does or how much alternative energy sources it develops...does this message get anywhere? No, and it shouldn't.

Anymore than the Romans or Soviets or British admitted when their time was up.

I navigated from there through a link and a search and found this related 25-minute radio-interview-with-images and Tim Garrett. Synopsis:

Alex Smith talks to the University of Utah's Physics Professor Dr. Tim Garrett, who explains why fossil-based wealth leads to both hyper-inflation and a ruined climate. All from a published, peer-reviewed paper in Journal "Climatic Change". According to our energy and wealth equation, only a sudden economic collapse could save us from 5 degrees Celsius global temperature rise (or more) by 2100. And we'll get over 100% inflation along the way. One of the most important interviews of the year.

"It means buckle your seat-belt, Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye-bye."
~ The Matrix

But, but, but... we've had fossil-based wealth for the last 200 years. The world has only gotten far more richer and hyperinflation is, in fact, a rare occurance.
Maybe the physics professor should stick with physics? A radical thought. Don't see many economists dabbling with Einstein's theory of relativity(okay, bad example, since economics is still obviously not as exact as many laws in physics but many laws in physics have also been overturned! And we're not clueless on economics. It's just that many people have forgotten what basic macro is, just ask Krugman).

The last thing you want to give to a growing population of high consumers is more "green" energy.

The answer is straightforward, really. We'll need to greatly reduce both consumption and the number of people consuming over time.

Not quite right. Consumption needs to be reduced by reducing the number of people. They are not separate methods because reducing consumption allows for a larger population with a lower standard of living. It helps when what is being consumed produces less pollution.

Written by Ozzie Zehner:
And even though subsidies are driving a perceived rapid drop in solar technology costs, the larger expense of an installed solar system lies in installation, cleaning, repair, insurance and other low-tech costs....

Cleaning is a trivial cost that is orders of magnitude lower than installation. It has no place in that list. If one has insurance, then it should cover the cost of repair making them mutually exclusive. Installation is cheap if one can install it oneself. Insurance is not necessary for the operation of a solar system. It is a want, and if it costs more than the solar technology (PV panels, electronics), then you have a bad policy. I am having difficulty imagining the "other low-tech costs" (permit, inspecting the equipment periodically, studying the electric bill in a grid-tied system?). The rapid drop in solar technology costs is not perceived because it is actual. I question whether subsidies are driving the rapid decrease in costs. China dumping PV panels on the world market below cost to drive their international competition out of business is a factor. Germany's policy to transition to renewable energy has increased demand allowing manufacturers to benefit from economies of scale. The expansion of production of photovoltaic grade silicon finally satisfying and exceeding demand in 2009 decreased the price of refined silicon. Germany has the cost of installing a complete residential PV system down to about $2 per rated watt. With the cost in the U.S. sitting at about twice that, something is wrong with that country, not alternative energy.

As Zehner writes in the book's opening pages, "...this certainly isn't a book for alternative energy. Neither is it a book against it. In fact, we won’t be talking in simplistic terms of for or against, left and right, good and evil ...

Zehner is against alternative energy because his arguments are just as inaccurate as the disinformation from Fox News talking points.

The article starts up with this statement..

"To many environmentalists, the answer is simple: power shift."

That is the claim that underpins his plaintive cry. WHO? Sure there are some in every family, some environmentalists who have latched onto simplistic solutions.. but I think the far more simplistic, is journalists who like to lean on such easy generalities, from which they can make their roundhouse rebuttals..

Greens, in this world of Black, White and Brushed Nickel, are simply too easy a target for poo-slinging.

Ozzie Zehner: "I would say that the environmental movement has relegated itself to cheerleading and mindless chants and that it's time for us to step away from the pom-poms."

This is a bit like people who called Ralph Nader an Egotist, without also checking to see if there were (overwhelming) ego issues with the other candidates..

That interview with Ozzie Zehner covers a lot of ground from his book. His conclusion is similar to my perspective, which is, without population control (and eventually, reduction), there's no way to solve our environmental problems. Zehner takes aim at the so-called "environmental movement", which he takes to be the face of environmentalism as seen in the political arena. Of course, most organizations associated with environmentalism are going to cater to their constituents, since that's where the money comes from to finance their operations.

This isn't a new problem, for example, Friends of the Earth was started by David Brower, the former president of the Sierra Club, who quit in order to start the new organization after disagreements with TPTB, the more conservative members of the Club. My own experience was similar, as I found that many "environmentalist" in the early years were more interested in making things better for the HUMAN environment, as in, cleaning air and water pollution and restricting development of lands with esthetic value, such as wilderness. Almost nobody wanted to face the true problem, which is, the consumption of the Earth and it's resources by individuals multiplied by an exponentially increasing population. I suspect that the situation within the US is made worse as the result of our large population of religious Fundamentalist, who apparently can't understand that population can't grow forever. Zehner doesn't mention this sociological problem in his interview, though he may do so in his book.

Of course, an unlimited source of energy which allowed continued population expansion would ultimately result in a collision with some other "Limit to Growth". The earthly sources of many metals appears to be one such problem, along with the limited area for food production. Many people who haven't taken the time to study the situation assume that technology will continue to provide solutions as newer limits appear, but, like Zehner, I think this assumption is false. Perhaps I should read his book (if I could even find the time to read the comments on the post)...

E. Swanson

That interview with Ozzie Zehner covers a lot of ground from his book. His conclusion is similar to my perspective, which is, without population control (and eventually, reduction), there's no way to solve our environmental problems. Zehner takes aim at the so-called "environmental movement", which he takes to be the face of environmentalism as seen in the political arena...

...Many people who haven't taken the time to study the situation assume that technology will continue to provide solutions as newer limits appear, but, like Zehner, I think this assumption is false.

BD, I also share your views on this!

Perhaps a new variant of the H7N9 virus which allows for direct human to human infections will address certain planetary imbalances. I just spent some time looking at the gene sequencing results for this virus. Both the New England Journal of Medicine and the CDC are somewhat concerned that such a scenario could indeed play out.

So far we have been incredibly lucky but sooner or later our luck is bound to run out...

Where does he get the sulfur hexafluoride nonsense?

For example, we are now learning that the solar cell industry is one of the fastest growing emitters of virulent greenhouse gases such as sulfur hexafluoride, which has a global warming potential 23,000 times higher than CO2,

This is just simply not true.

All I can find is this from some Salon writer
who uncritically passes along the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition's claim that SF6 is used to clean silicon production reactors for PV.
They are (as all too usual these days) hysterical and wrong.
SF6 is used to clean (a few) CVD reactors for layers on chips and WAS/POTENTIALLY USED for thin film silicon (which is basically going extinct). (and people using fluorinated things like this destroy them before release as a condition of their air permits). And people are now going to on-site fluorine generators, completely solving the problem.

The 90+% of solar modules made from crystalline silicon based cells use bulk silicon.
This is made in Siemans reactors or (a few) fluidized bed reactors.
These are cleaned mechanically (brushing/wiping for Siemans, sandblasting for FBRs), then wipe/spray with deionized water.

Is Zehner a plant from the fossil fuel industry,
or just a BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything),
or just an academic with an axe to grind who wants to be published and be controversial to get publicity???
Or is he just so nihilistic/fevered to disparage anything/everything that fact checking is too much trouble?

One wonders (along the lines of Tainter's Collapse...), as the complexity of society increases, and people's competence decreases in the face of a flood of information, that style so completely conquers substance, that society collapses due to the ineffectiveness/costs of superstition based choices instead of making reality based choices.

I know how Rockman feels when he sees "the NEW technology of fracking has now unlocked ..."

Where does he get the sulfur hexafluoride nonsense?

Thanks for catching that! On my first read I had missed it. You are right, in that this statement is BS.
It is unfortunate that he says things like this because it certainly does undermine his credibility and makes him sound hysterical. Too bad!

Having said that, it doesn't make his main point invalid! 'Green' technology is just a cornucopian myth that allows people to think that a continuation of some semblance of BAU is still possible without fundamental change to the growth based economic paradigm.

Solar, wind, hydro, biomass together with a severely limited use of some fossil fuels only makes sense if we can achieve that paradigm shift. In that context to quibble about whether or not some part of the manufacturing process of solar panels or wind turbines uses scarce resources or produces toxic byproducts truly misses the point.

Regarding Obama Budget Ponders Sale of Tennessee Valley Authority, above:

Living in the heart of TVA Land, I can think of nothing that would cause the generally quiet conservative populations of the Southern Appalachians and Tennessee Valley to demonise Obama more (if that's possible) than suggesting that TVA be sold off, except, perhaps, gun control. TVA is very much part of the culture here, and considered part of the commons. While the rural populations here have had an ongoing love/hate relationship with TVA, they pretty much consider it as theirs, not to be toyed with. There's a deep memory, still, of what was lost and gained when TVA was imposed on the region. I see the idea of selling off TVA as a non-starter. It would be tantamount to selling the Goose that lays the golden eggs to "foreigners".

This hasn't hit the local papers yet, but I'll report back on the reaction when it does. I know a lot of locals who retired from TVA, and they are quite smug in that fact. I expect that I could do well selling bumper stickers: DON'T MESS WITH TVA.

Anyway, that this has even been suggested is certainly a sign of the times.

As much as I despise the destruction and ecocide that dams produce, maybe someone could purchase them and remove them?

While the primary goal of TVA was rural electrification, flood control was also a major objective. The environmental damage was done long ago, and ecosystems have evolved since then, sometimes in remarkable ways, especially around the upper tier reservoirs. Unlike dams in other areas, there are no salmon runs (or other life cycles, e.g. eels) to restore. Much of what was lost was rich bottom land used for farming. Since then, these lakes have been concentrating emmissions from coal plants in the silt at their bottoms, along with naturally occuring mercury, etc., and there's no telling what else is down there, like old car batteries and power transformers (PCBs); probably best left alone at this point.

That said, I expect nature to reclaim these river systems in due time.

The TVA is not condition free, and a ecosystem destroyer.
But time will take it out, as you point out.
All dams are destine to fail, but removing then speeds the process.
The US does not have the resources to even kill the dinosaurs of the species let alone make a significant dent on the destruction of this insane idea.

If it poisonous enough to keep people away it would make a great wild life refugee.

TVA Goes to War

TVA’s readiness for war was no accident. As early as 1935, Chairman Arthur Morgan testified before Congress that “an adequate supply of electric energy comes pretty close to being a matter of national defense.”

Over the next six years, TVA took the initiative and geared up its energy capacity to be ready in the event of war. The Federal Power Commission declared later that without TVA, the United States wouldn’t have been prepared to fight in 1941.
TVA had many power customers that were vital to the war effort, including an A-31 bomber factory in Nashville. But two customers loomed larger than the others. One had been in the Valley long before TVA was; the other came to the region, in large part, because TVA was already here.

The first was Alcoa. The Aluminum Company of America’s factory south of Knoxville, Tennessee, was then the largest aluminum plant in the world. Months before Pearl Harbor, as war loomed, defense experts realized how important aluminum would be in building an air force—especially one with the 50,000 plane-strength demanded by President Roosevelt in May 1940.
The second of TVA’s critically important wartime power customers was a secret project set up in an isolated area along the Clinch River in 1942. At first it was known simply as the Clinton Engineering Works, after the nearest town of any size, Clinton, Tennessee. It was part of a larger effort code-named the Manhattan Project—the program that produced the first atomic bomb.

Also mentioned are the nitrate plants at Muscle Shoals, which provided feedstocks for munitions manufacture. IIRC, Union Carbide and Eastman Chemical also had huge chemical plants and other nuclear-related installations in the area.

Alcoa Power Generating Inc. actually predates TVA by a couple of decades:

Tapoco Project:

The Tapoco Project includes four dams in North Carolina and Tennessee, on the Little Tennessee and Cheoah Rivers. The dams supply power to Alcoa's operations in Alcoa, Tennessee.[66]

Around 1910, Aluminum Company of America began looking at locations to produce hydroelectric power for making aluminum. The company purchased Knoxville Power Company, chartered in 1900. At the end of 1913, Aluminum Company of America bought Tallassee Power Company (chartered in 1905), Western Carolina Power and Transportation, Union Development Company, and Union Power and Water Company. All of these companies became part of Tallassee Power Company. From the first two letters of each word came the name Tapoco, given first to the community and then to the company.

World War I increased the need for aluminum, and Southern Railway completed a railroad extension to the planned Cheoah Dam in 1916. The Cheoah Dam began operation in 1919.

Construction of Santeetlah Dam began in 1926, with the Rhymer's Ferry powerhouse starting operation in 1928. Calderwood Dam was completed in 1930.[67] Chilhowee Dam was the last completed, in 1957.[68]

The company received its federal license to operate these dams in 1955 but was unable to renew in 2005 due to concerns over flooding in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a result of the Chilhowee Dam. The Tapoco Project and Licensing Act of 2004 corrected the problem by trading land, with 6,000 acres (24 km2) going to the park and about 10,000 acres (40 km2) of Alcoa land receiving a conservation easement.

See wikipedia: Alcoa Power Generating Inc.. If you've seen "The Fugitive" with Harrison Ford (movie), you've seen Cheoah Dam. Tapoco and TVA cooperate on water releases, since the Tapoco system flows into TVA's Fontana system.

From the wiki article "Fontana Dam"

In 1935, the Tennessee Valley Authority, which was concerned with the Little Tennessee's effect on flood control in the greater Tennessee Valley, began negotiating with ALCOA to assume control of the Fontana project. Although ALCOA preferred TVA build the dam, TVA was unable to get necessary funding for the project until the outbreak of World War II in 1941, when emergency wartime initiatives called for a drastic increase in aluminum production. On August 14, 1941, TVA and ALCOA signed the "Fontana Agreement," which gave TVA possession of Fontana and control over the releases and output of Tapoco's Little Tennessee Valley dams, and in return guaranteed that ALCOA would be the primary benefactor of the dams' electrical output for at least twenty years. Congress authorized funding on December 17, 1941, and construction of Fontana Dam began on January 1, 1942.

Fontana is upstream of Cheoah, Calderwood, and Chilhowee Dams, and it produces roughly the same power as those three.

I've spent many years fishing and camping all of these systems. Fontana is my favorite, bordered to the north by the Smokeys, fed by the Little Tennessee River, Tuckasegee River, Nantahala River (we live a few miles from Nantahala Lake), and much of the Smokey Mountain Park watershed. It's also almost 500 feet deep at the dam; lots of potential there. It's one of the few places in the Southeast with good Walleye and Muskie fishing. It must have been one helluva gorge before they flooded it. Very little development and not very crowded. I've often had the lake mostly to myself during less than ideal weather. It's one reason I miss my boat :-(

Santeelah (head water of the Tapoco system) is a different watershed and virtually all of its waters enter the Little Tennessee below Cheoah via a pipeline/tunnel. I used to fish Calderwood, and Chilhowee, but since the motorcycles took over Hwy. 129 ("Tail of the Dragon"), it got too crazy getting over there. Rugged country, that.

Wait, isn't private ownership and small government next to Godliness? The cognitive dissonance might produce some very entertaining mental gymnastics.

This is just more selling off of public assets, so they can be stripped of value for personal gain of the well connected. No doubt the debt will be left in public hands. It's not different than the austerity programs in Greece, except here people have been conditioned to accept it as a universal good.

It will be interesting to see how well that training works when the contradiction gets really obvious.

Wait, isn't private ownership and small government next to Godliness? The cognitive dissonance might produce some very entertaining mental gymnastics.

haha, I was thinking along the same lines. My guess will be the mental gymnastics will follow some talking points from talk radio. Something like Obama is doing secret deals to sell the TVA to that "commie" George Soros who is going to destroy it. All part of Obama's master plan to destroy America and turn it socialist through privatization. ;-)

All part of Obama's master plan to destroy America and turn it socialist through privatization.

Now that is some mental gymnastics. Give them exactly what the right has been pushing for years with privatization of jails, schools, etc. but because a liberal president is trying to do it, suddenly it becomes part of a socialist agenda. This reverse psychology bit could really shift the right back to the center if done right.

Well one big thing I've noticed with these uninformed right wing mostly baby boomers (the Fox Newswers and Rush Limbaugh listeners) is that capitalism and socialism are more feelings/emotions than they are socioeconomic philosophies/ideologies.

So when their home value goes up, that's capitalism. However when gas prices go up that's socialism.
The inverse is true as well, when their home value goes down, that's socialism. However when gas prices go down that's capitalism.

If it makes them feel good and is a positive in their lives is capitalism in their eyes. If it negatively impacts their lives its socialism. Doesn't matter one iota if what it is that is affecting them is capitalistic or socialistic or something else entirely. It totally depends on how it makes them feel. And that's how the corporate media ruthlessly exploits that specific demographic.

With these baby boomers, I also think a lot of this emotion is tied to a lot of old Cold War propaganda and themes.

And all these 'capitalists' complain nonstop about all the evil speculators running up oil prices. That free-market hating socialist Kenyan Muslim just refuses to address this problem with speculators!

Unfortunately, most of these folks have quite a bit of experience overcoming cognitive dissonance; their religion shows them the way (thou shalt not kill - Johnny get your gun, and all that. Kind of a Sergeant York thing. We're actually pretty good at compartmentalizing and rationalizing stuff, we humans.

Apparently, no one remembers that Barry Goldwater proposed the same thing in 1964. The Tennessee Democrat Party had a bumper sticker I remember well: "Sell TVA? I'd sooner sell Arizona!" I'm sure someone has one in the back of the bottom drawer.

People outside of the mid-South just don't understand what TVA did for this region. There was no electricity outside the urban areas. Rivers periodically flooded large areas of river bottom land as well as the east bank of Nashville (where the Titans' Stadium now sets.) Even in 2010, a storm with a return frequency of hundreds of years overran the TVA system and caused major damage in Nashville. Of course, the national networks didn't even cover it for days, since no one really cares what happens between the two coasts of this country.

I attended a rural Tennessee school with no indoor plumbing, and I'm not even 62 yet. Anyone who wants to tear out the dams and shut off the generators in the same region that is producing the Nissan Leaf needs to explain to us how exactly we are supposed to live here.

Nick was inquiring about tubular LED lamps the other day. I'm not sold on them as yet, but there appears to be some promise (200 lumens per watt is pretty darn spiffy).

'Most energy-efficient' LED light revealed by Philips'
Lighting company Philips has developed an LED lamp that it describes as "the world's most energy-efficient".

It said the prototype tube lighting LED is twice as efficient as those currently used in offices and industry around the world but offers the same amount of light.

Being able to halve the amount of energy used could bring huge cost and energy savings.

Lighting accounts for more than 19% of global electricity consumption.

The prototype tube lighting produces 200 lumens per watt (200lm/W) compared with 100lm/W for equivalent strip lighting and 15lm/W for traditional light bulbs.

See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22106718

My Philips rep e-mailed a brochure to me on their current generation tubular LEDs moments before I read this article. A 2-lamp system with driver consumes 48-watts and provides 5,000 initial lumens at a CRI of 85 (104 lumens/watt). Rated lamp life is 50,000 hours (B50 L70 standard).

A 2-lamp fixture fitted with Philips XLL Energy Advantage 28-watt T8 lamps driven by a 0.77 BF NEMA Premium ballast offers approximately 4,100 initial lumens for about 42-watts, or 98 lumens per watt. Nominal lamp life is 46,000 hours based on 12 hours per start.

Here's the rub: The 2-lamp tubular LED fixture will fade down to 3,500 lumens by the end of those 50,000 hours, whereas the equivalent T8 will still be cranking out 3,850 lumens (and at 42-watts versus 48).

And at end-of-life, your cost to swap-out those two T8 lamps is maybe $5.00. The cost of two replacement tubular LEDs? $120.00?


Paul, a 200 lumen per watt rating sounds spectacular.

Best hopes for bringing this high-efficency LED light to market.

Probably a couple of years away. But, then maybe Paul can yank out those T8's and replace them with superefficient LED tubes.

Hi Paul
Any comments on this story about LED lighting at gizmag?
The article discusses the rigorous testing and standards that must be met to receive Energy Star certification: 6000 hour performance, lumen color and distribution over time, more.


Hi Tom,

I know that some of the Philips products we use were initially rated at 25,000 hours and subsequent to this have been up-rated to 45,000 hours. My understanding is that as these lamps rack-up additional hours in the test lab, their projected lifespan can be extrapolated outward.

I happen to like the Philips brand a lot because I consider their products to be best-in-class, but it's their customer support that sets them apart from the rest; whenever I encounter a technical issue or there's a warranty related matter, they're all over it like a dirty rag. In years gone by, we had dealt with another of the "Big Three" and I'm sorry to say that our expectations were not met. Two very different companies, especially when problems arise (as they inevitably do). Philips has been extremely good to us, and have certainly earned my trust and respect.


Philips has bought up lots of the patents so they kind of have a lot of power.

One could say that they're all over those patents like a dirty rag, or, that a lot of power is good for lighting.

Because I'm lazy - anyone have a guide to reusing salvaged LEDs as a plant grow light?

The low voltage sections from motherboards as the power supply due to the low voltage and high current - no need for heatsinks on the LEDs.

Feel compelled to point out that you should avoid green LEDs for trying to grow plants...full spectrum (white) would be a bit of a waste but would work. Should be able to pretty much stick to blue and red/orange.

What I've heard from a grower/fellow associate recently (while selling grow lights at my soon to be ex job..), was that the emphasis on Violet light is a little overstated, that this 'purple' light benefits plants during the buildup of woody tissues like stems and stalks, but that other parts of the light spectrum become more important for leaves and flowers..

Just passing on some back-fence chatter..

You probably don't want to use motherboard power supplies -- LEDs like a current source. Also, high brightness LEDs (>1W) really DO like heat sinks.

Many commodities dropping quite a bit today. Currently:

WTI down over 2.5%

Gold down over 4%

Silver down over 5%

Ag products and natural gas are up (NG at $4.23)

Cyprus? Demand down?

Wait, wasn't gold supposed to do well. Looks like the future is indeed hard to predict.

News reports are claiming a high volume of sales of gold, but are vague on who is selling and why.

A.M. Kitco Metals Roundup: Gold Hammered to 15-Month Low on Heavy Technical Selling, Weak Long Liquidation, Forbes, April 12, 2013.

When the price of gold and silver reach a minimum, it is time to buy.

Concerning Stuart's piece above:

Jean Laherrere's most recent report sees the URR for all oil except XH (extra heavy)at 2200 billion barrels. Stuart now sees all oil (with no exceptions) at 2500 bbs, so the difference could well be the extra heavy, which as Jean says isn't going to come out of the ground nearly as fast as regular oil. So at some point, the increase in heavy oil will almost certainly be offset by a much more rapid decline in regular oil. Jean sees regular oil as peaking (the plateau as we go over the top of the curve) as around 2015.

In the end, it seems to me that the one number that incorporates all the variables is the price, and the price trend has been severely upward since 2002. As Rockman pointed out time and time again, the oil patch makes no effort to take into account ERoEI or whether we are at peak or not--it just looks at oil prices and cost. And the price is saying that cheap oil is gone.

The only real question left is just how high can oil prices go before economic growth stalls. I think we are very close.

[Edit: just to add that if there is anyone who does keep up with the Hubbert Linearization of world oil, it might be interesting to somehow add the price of oil to the graph--could be a very interesting graph]

"The only real question left is just how high can oil prices go before economic growth stalls."

It will be hard to spot, because it keeps increasing. And it won't be steady; it will rise as an irregular stair step. The price that stalls economic growth today will be lower than the price that stalls economic growth in 2025.

I've noticed that the rise in price has re-curved and is essentially at a plateau right now which suggests to me the effect is already in place. Brent has twice bumped against the ~$125/bbl mark and fallen back down hard, which suggests a substantial limiting effect at that pricing point (but will likely rise as the currency weakens).

... URR for all oil except XH (extra heavy)at 2200 billion barrels.

... oil (with no exceptions) at 2500 bbs....

He is saying the global URR for extra heavy crude oil (tar sands, oil shale) is 300 billion barrels. I thought the EUR for just Canadian and Venezuelan tar sands is on the order of 600 billion barrels of syncrude.

Hi Elmoelmer,

I did a quick HL on EIA annual data for 1991-2012 (cumulative C+C output of 429 GB at year end 1979). It points to a URR of 2530 GB for a C+C. We are currently at a cumulative total of 1205 Gb at year end 2012 so in 2 years we will reach the halfway point (current levels are about 27.6 Gb/year) so the peak is likely around Jan 2015 if you believe in Hubbert Linearization (I do not.)

Not sure how I would incorporate price into a Hubbert Linearization. Also note that if you start at earlier years such as 1988 the URR moves to lower values such as 2350 GB and if you start at later years such as 1994 the URR rises to 2580 GB. This is part of the problem with an HL analysis.

The URR remains stable for analyses starting in 1992, 1994, 1996, and 1998 (all ending in 2012) with URR values of 2560, 2580, 2550, and 2570 GB, the average of these four HLs is 2565 GB. This gives some measure of confidence that the 2530 GB estimate may be robust.

Note that the estimate by Staniford uses BP Data which includes NGL with C+C so his 2500 GB URR estimate is for C+C+NGL. He uses 1983-2011 which for EIA data results in 2200 GB for C+C. The HL for 1983 to 2012 increases URR slightly to 2230 GB.

We were at 1100 GB of cumulative C+C output in early 2009 so if the peak is at the halfway point that would be it. There is no particular reason that worldwide C+C output will peak at 50 % of the URR, if it peaked at 60% and 2200 is the correct URR that would suggest a 2016 peak.

There is a great deal of uncertainty, cases can be made for a C+C URR of between 2200 and 2565 GB and the peak might occur between 50% and 60% of the URR. So one could argue that the annual peak should occur between 2012 and 2024 (60 % of 2565 GB and assuming we stay on a bumpy plateau for 12 years with an average C+C output per year of 28 GB/year.)

I personally prefer the Oil Shock Model by WebHubbletelescope see The Oil ConunDRUM
I have also done some work on this at my blog.


Colorado Water-Well Fire Blamed on Methane Gas; Fire was Third for Homeowner’s Well

The Wilgus home is located in the La Garita subdivision near Weston, with the modular home about 25-feet from the well. Firefighters from the Stonewall Fire Protection District responded to the blaze.

Methane gas was being pushed up from the well at a high rate of pressure, and had ignited with flames shooting 15-20 feet into the air around the well and surrounding yard. The shifting winds caused firefighters to remove a nearby tree.

They tried to put out the fire several times by pushing a 3-inch water hose from a water-tender down the well behind a water curtain, but were unsuccessful. A firefighter who was also a worker from XTO Energy was eventually able to subdue the flames using dry chemical extinguishers. The crews were able to cool the well’s casing to the point where there was no danger of igniting the methane again, according to a fire department report.

We spent $14,000 to get that well dug, but we’ve never been able to use the water from it. It’s really a mess.”

“The COGCC is conducting expedited gas sampling to help determine whether the methane associated with the Wilgus water well is tied to nearby oil and gas production.

Well, turns some lemons into lemonade. Stop trying to put a water tap on it and instead collect and use the gas.

For example, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State, the largest, most daunting environmental cleanup project in the US. More than 11,000 people work on it. ... Buried underground are 177 tanks containing 56 million gallons of highly radioactive and toxic waste. The 31 oldest tanks, made of a single layer of now rust-perforated carbon steel, have been leaking highly radioactive and toxic sludge into the ground for decades.

Former Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko says that the current fleet of operating plants in the US should be phased out because regulators can’t guarantee against an accident causing widespread land contamination. In two key decisions last week Jaczko said the agency “damaged significantly” its international reputation for upholding safety and he accused the five commissioners of “just rolling the dice” in dealing with severe accidents.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. suspects two leaks of radioactive water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant were caused by shoddy workmanship to install devices to detect such spillage. The latest problem at the stricken plant suggests that the defect could cause leaks at the five other underground water storage tanks because they all have the same structure. [...] “We are giving priority to the No. 2 tank, whose conditions are worse,” a TEPCO official said. “We are not leaving the No. 3 tank unattended.” [...] [...] contamination could affect the entire area if leaked water mixes with groundwater.

Gas release from U.S. nuclear site covered up? — Continued for several days — “Spontaenous, not controlled” (w/VIDEO)

KING 5 News has learned there’s been a series of unexpected hydrogen gas releases from a tank holding radioactive waste at Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Confidential sources say it began on March 16 and lasted for several days, much longer than usual, and they worry a single spark could have set off an explosive release of radioactivity. [...] Our confidential sources say it was of a magnitude larger than anything teams there have seen in at least two years and “burped” days longer than normal. [...] We’re told this was a spontaenous release, not controlled.

On Thursday, KING 5 challenged the DOE’s assessment of the March 15th release, which stated it was an expected 36-hour event. Based on information from confidential sources, KING 5 learned the release actually lasted much longer, up to five days.

Legacy Danger: Old Nuclear Waste Found in English Channel — 60 trillion becquerels of radioactivity dumped (PHOTO)

German public broadcaster SWR [...] discovered two nuclear waste barrels at a depth of 124 meters (406 feet) just kilometers from the French coast.

Jettisoned by both the British and the Belgians, the containers hold some of the estimated 17,224 metric tons of low-level radioactive waste dumped in the English Channel's underwater valley known as Hurd's Deep, just north of the isle of Alderney, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The British barrels are estimated to have contained 58 trillion becquerels (units of radioactivity), while the Belgian barrels held some 2.4 trillion bequerels. By way of comparison, the European Union's limit for drinking water is 10 becquerels per liter.

Tepco Faces Decision to Dump Radioactive Water in Pacific Ocean

Officials at the utility known as Tepco, including President Naomi Hirose, have said the company will not “easily” release radiated water into the ocean, indicating it’s not ruling out the possibility if it runs out of storage.

“It’s obvious Tepco cannot keep storing water forever as it increases by 400 tons a day,” said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of the antinuclear group Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center. That’s why the company won’t rule out discharge into the sea

New from Congressional Research Service ...

U.S. Natural Gas Exports: New Opportunities, Uncertain Outcomes

As estimates for the amount of U.S. natural gas resources have grown, so have the prospects of rising U.S. natural gas exports. The United States is expected to go from a net importer of natural gas to a net exporter by 2020. Projects to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) by tanker ship have been proposed—cumulatively accounting for about 12.5% of current U.S. natural gas production—and are at varying stages of regulatory approval. Pipeline exports, which accounted for 94% of all exports of U.S. produced natural gas in 2010, are also likely to rise.

What effect exporting natural gas will have on U.S. prices is the central question in the debate over whether to export. A significant rise in U.S. natural gas exports would likely put upwards pressure on domestic prices, but the magnitude of any rise is currently unclear. There are numerous factors that will affect prices: export volumes, economic growth, differences in local markets, and government regulations, among others. With today’s natural gas prices relatively low compared to global prices and historically low for the United States, producers are looking for new markets for their natural gas. Producers contend that increased exports will not raise prices significantly as there is ample supply to meet domestic demand, and there will be the added benefits of increased revenues, trade, and jobs, and less flaring. Consumers of natural gas, who are being helped by the low prices, fear prices will rise if natural gas is exported.

Electric power generation represents potentially the greatest increase in natural gas consumption in the U.S. economy, primarily for environmental reasons. Other types of consumption are not likely to increase natural gas demand domestically for a long time. Use in the transportation sector to displace oil is likely to be small because expensive new infrastructure and technologies would be required. There is discussion of a possible revival of the U.S. petrochemicals sector, but the potential extent of a change is unclear. Getting natural gas to markets where it can be consumed, whether domestically or internationally, may be the industry’s biggest challenge. Infrastructure constraints, environmental regulations, and other factors will influence how the market adjusts to balance supply and demand.

The possibility of a significant increase in U.S. natural gas exports will factor into ongoing debates on the economy, energy independence, climate change, and energy security. As the proposed projects continue to develop, policymakers are likely to receive more inquiries about these projects. Proposals to expedite and expand LNG exports have already been raised in the 113th Congress, including in S. 192 and H.R. 580. Two other bills, H.R. 1189 and H.R. 1191, would reform the DOE’s process for determining the public interest regarding LNG exports and prohibit exports of natural gas produced on federal lands.

I wonder to what extent, if any, they considered the effect of rising domestic consumption on net gas exports.

See Figure 1. U.S. Natural Gas Production, Consumption, and Trade Historical and Projected Data pg 3

In its Annual Energy Outlook 2013 Early Release, EIA projects that the United States will be a net LNG exporter by 2016 and a net natural gas exporter by 2020.

also pg 7 LNG Re-Exports: The Latest Thing ... Starting in 2010, DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, according to provisions in the Natural Gas Act, authorized LNG import terminals to receive LNG cargos from foreign countries and then reexport the LNG to other countries. Some LNG exporters try to take advantage of the idle U.S. import terminals and storage to wait for higher world prices. This trend almost doubled U.S. LNG exports to other countries, including new recipients Brazil, India, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

and ... Natural gas in Alaska is also attracting attention as a possible source for exports. As Alaskan oil production declines, companies may seek to monetize or sell their natural gas, which is typically re-injected into oil wells to boost production.

For 2012 US consumption by Elect Generation increased 1.56 trillion cubic ft. Total US Dry NG production increased by 1.15 trillion cu ft. per EIA.

westexas, in your estimation what percentage of the population is aware of and actually understands the implications of your Export Land Model?

Greenhouse gases make high temps hotter in China

While other studies have linked averaged-out temperature increases in China and other countries to greenhouse gases, this research is the first to link the warmer daily hottest and coldest readings, or spikes.

Those spikes, which often occur in late afternoon and the early morning, are what scientists say most affect people's health, plants and animals. People don't notice changes in averages, but they feel it when the daily high is hotter or when it doesn't cool off at night to let them recover from a sweltering day.

The study by Chinese and Canadian researchers found that just because of greenhouse gases, daytime highs rose 0.9 degree Celsius (1.7 degrees Fahrenheit) in the 46 years up to 2007. At night it was even worse: Because of greenhouse gases, the daily lows went up about 1.7 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit).

About 90 percent of the temperature rise seen by the researchers could be traced directly to man-made greenhouse gases, the study said.

Corruption Soars When Politicians Are Placed Above the Law, Study Finds

In a new study, Stern School of Business assistant professor of economics Vasiliki Skreta and co-authors, Karthik Reddy of Harvard Law School and Moritz Schularick of the University of Bonn, examine statutory immunity provisions that obstruct or limit the criminal liability of politicians, and which exist throughout much of the modern democratic world. [Bush-Cheney comes to mind]

The researchers quantified the strength of immunity protection in 74 democracies and verified that immunity is strongly associated with corruption on an aggregate level. They also developed a theoretical model that demonstrated how stronger immunity protection can lead to higher corruption. The model suggested that unaccountable politicians under immunity protection can enhance their chance of re-election by using illegal means, namely supporting interest groups through lax law enforcement, non-collection of taxes, and other forms of favoritism that will go unpunished. Interest groups can then, in turn, provide favorable propaganda, campaign financing, and even vote-buying. Furthermore, the researchers' theoretical model suggested that higher levels of immunity protection also contribute to poor governance because stronger immunity attracts dishonest people to public office.

The title of their next research project should be ... 'Corruption Soars When Politicians Corporations Are Placed Above the Law'

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely... has been thus for a very long time and which is why I'm a firm supporter of the concept of non ideological anarchism. There is nothing more detrimental to the democratic freedom and welfare of the majority or the good stewardship of the commons, than the concentration of power in the hands of a few.

It is especially true of most religious leaders, dictators, politicians, high level financial managers,judges, military and corporate leaders, etc... This is why no one should be allowed to exercise or hold power for any extended amount of time. Think Tolkein's Gollum and his precious ring.

Corruption Soars When Politicians Are Placed Above the Law, Study Finds

Next up, they study whether water is wet.

Captain Obvious - you seem to be out of uniform.

The Velkess Flywheel: A more flexible energy storage technology

A new Kickstarter project called Velkess (Very Large Kinetic Energy Storage System) has recently gotten underway to bring an inexpensive flywheel to market. The project is headed by Bill Gray, who has taken a unique approach to flywheel design—a flexible rotor made of "E-glass," a common fiberglass used in everything from sporting goods to shower doors. Rather than use advanced carbon-fiber composites manufactured to exact tolerances, Gray's soft rotor flexes in response to destabilizing forces. It is thereby able to adjust to speed transitions that confound other designs.

While carbon fiber reinforced polymer is 6 to 8 times stronger than E-glass, he notes that E-glass is 10 to 20 times stronger per dollar. Similarly, E-glass will store 10 to 20 times more energy per dollar. The current prototype floats on a magnetic bearing assembly that can handle 2kW of power, and store 0.5 kWh of energy. Their final device will need storage closer to 15kWh to meet the first projected 48-volt off-grid power backup.

Gray expects the final units to be comparable in price to lead acid batteries while having a much improved lifetime. These numbers make the new flywheel design look like it could be a viable alternative not just to batteries but also to other green schemes like compressed air storage, or pumping water uphill.

More information: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1340066560/velkess-energy-storage#

Cool idea to bring down cost. My main question is: how long will it retain it's stored energy? I.e. what's the self-discharge rate?

From article - 2% per day


Beacon Power


Their unit recommended being buried underground and was a 2Kwh unit.

NiFe batteries loose 1% a day, do they not?

First Algae Powered Building Goes Up In Hamburg

To make use of the algae, which the team retrieved from the nearby Elbe river, it was put into large thin rectangular clear cases. Inside, the algae live in a water solution and are provided nutrients and carbon dioxide by an automated system. Each tank was then affixed to the outside walls of the building onto scaffolding that allows for turning the tanks towards the sun—similar to technology used for solar collectors. As the algae grows—mostly in the summer—it provides more shade for the building, helping to keep it cool (and serves as a sound buffer as well). Excess heat that builds up in the water in the tanks is transferred to saline water tanks underneath the building for use later. When the amount of algae growth in the tanks reach a certain point, some is harvested and taken to a processing facility inside the building. There the biomass is converted to biogas which can be burned to provide heat in the winter. Thus, the building makes use of both solar thermal and geothermal energy allowing it to be heated and cooled without using any fossil fuels

"allowing it to be heated and cooled without using any fossil fuels"

Ok, but what about this part:

"are provided nutrients"

it would be interesting to mention what nutrients exactly and where do they come from?

It will also be interesting to see how this system fares after the first (or second, or third, or nth ...) algae culture crash. It's not as simple as it looks.

'Tell Me about Climate Change ... No, Stop!'

Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of U.S. Pacific Command, told the Boston Globe recently, the biggest long-term security challenge in his region of responsibility is climate change.

James Inhofe represents the state of Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate, where his duties include service on the Armed Services and Environment committees. Inhofe is also renowned, so to speak, for his insistence that global warming is a proven scientific hoax, although the evidence cited by the senator to back that contention is usually quite comical.

Earlier this week, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, the senator and the admiral shared a little colloquy on the question of climate change. It went something like this:

I'm sure we'll see this headline somewhere soon:

Navy Admiral Unable To Establish Climate Change As Threat During Senate Committee Hearing.


The cheapest and most profitable oil North America has ever seen is now “flooding” into the market, as producers once again use old technology to create a wave of new profits.

Producers are using “waterfloods”— pushing water into underground formations to flush a large amount of oil out to nearby producing wells — to increase production and profits. It’s the next big money-making phase of the Shale Revolution.

Does anyone know about this? It was news to me!

News to me too. Here's a red flag:

To date, Pinecrest isn’t yet flowing even one barrel of waterflooded oil—so their powerpoint slide is just projections. Toews and his team expect to be waterflooding all of their operations by the end of this quarter. But analysts are already seeing the waterfloods as a share price catalyst.

Could it be true? Sure. But it doesn't really add up to me that, if this technique is so surefire, it hasn't already been used on depleted tight oil wells -- there have undoubtedly been plenty since drilling began in earnest in 2005.

Time will tell.

I don't understand this at all. In a conventional field, water is injected around the periphery of the field and sweeps the oil toward the wells. But tight oil has no periphery. Every well serves only its small fracked area. And you cannot sweep oil through the shale that has not been fracked.

Water flooding a tight oil field just don't make any sense. I don't see how it is possible.

Ron P.

Waterflooding "shale" would indeed be an interesting news item.

Two key highlights: First, the article title is a wee bit misleading - this is not a "shale" play being waterflooded. Second, "To date, [Pump & dump stock] isn’t yet flowing even one barrel of waterflooded oil"

The company in question is planning to waterflood moderately tight carbonate-limestone reservoirs in the Canadian Slave Point field. Carbonate doesn't equal shale as I recall.

Yeah, and I just thought of something else that seems very important to me. In conventional water flooding, like they do in Ghawar, any and all fractures in the reservoir rock are huge problems. The water is supposed to sweep through the porous rock, pushing the oil toward the wells. But if there is a fracture, the water channels through the fracture straight to the well, not sweeping any oil at all.

But in a tight oil reservoir they are depending on the fractures to channel the oil to the well. So once the water, under heavy pressure from the injection pump, hits one of those fractures, the water then will just gush straight to the well.

This just doesn't sound right to me. I just don't think this scheme is going to work.

Ron P.

It doesn't matter if it works or not because the same article claimed that we are now "flooded with oil".

US Shale Industry Set for a Second Boom with Waterflood Technology

No, this is not a US company; no, they are not producing "American" oil; and no, they are not waterflooding a "shale oil" formation.

Pinecrest energy has its headquarters in Calgary, the formation it is waterflooding is the Slave Point Formation in Northern Canada; and the formation is limestone interleaved with crystalline dolomite and thin shale laminae, not solid shale.

However, the Slave Point Formation has imbedded fossilized stromatoporoids. Stomatoporiods are one of the best things you can find in an oil field - they are extinct cabbage-shaped sponges with skeletons of laminated calcite. They formed ocean reefs much like corals do, but when they fossilized they left behind a formation full of fossilized sponge skeletons. It's pretty much ideal for waterflooding. They might be able to increase the recovery rate at Slave Point from 12% to 25% of the OOIP with waterflooding. However, it ain't shale.

The old Redwater field near Edmonton, another carbonate stromatoperoid reef discovered in 1948, has had a recovery factor of 80% to date, and they're still pumping water through it, over and over again, with 99% water cut on the wells.

Thanks for the info RMG. But don't that make the headline of the article a bit misleading? After all it does say US Shale Industry. More directly are they not just outright lying?

“Water flooding is basic, in that you pump water into the ground,” says Saxberg. “So to enhance that, you have to look at what type of patterns are in your reservoir. Now these are unconventional tight reservoirs, so the question was, can they actually be water flooded?”

Again, the Big Answer is Yes, and management teams are now using the promise of waterfloods as a cheap way to float their balance sheets earlier in a resource play. But Saxberg says waterfloods are truly more long-term value

Ron P.

" with 99% water cut on the wells."

It always amazes me that they can make money with a 99% water cut. I mean you start out with mostly oil and a little water and only need a small oil/water separation plant. By the time you get to 99%, you have to pump, process, and then dispose of humungous amounts of oil-stained water to get that 1%.

I can't help but wonder if any oil field has over gone to, like, 99.5% water cut.

Mostly boring boilerplate but ...

NYC RFP Infrastructure/Building Resiliency Technologies Competition

Sec 1.2. Need for Resilient Infrastructure and Building Systems

As a result of Hurricane Sandy, New York City experienced widespread damage, power loss, closure of businesses, and loss of jobs. In addition, Hurricane Sandy exposed significant vulnerabilities to critical infrastructure networks and building systems in the City and beyond. Affected infrastructure included:

- Electric Power (more than 700,000 power customers lost electricity due to transmission substation failures, overhead line damage and customer equipment flooding);

- Liquid Fuels (supply chains were disrupted on multiple levels, resulting in a three-week Citywide gasoline shortage); and

- Telecommunications Networks (power outages and flooding resulted in outages and disruptions to telecommunications networks leaving thousands without landline, cable and mobile telephone service).

Building systems such as electrical equipment, heating and cooling systems and plumbing also suffered significant damage in flooded areas. In the months since the storm, the City Department of Buildings issued approximately 8,700 red and yellow tags representing damaged buildings, including approximately 230 destroyed buildings.

Approximately 88,000 buildings were located in the Sandy inundation zone, approximately 85% of which suffered one foot or more of flooding resulting in the loss or damage to critical building systems. Preliminary advisory flood zone projections will likely add an additional 36,000 buildings (approx.) to the list of buildings that are vulnerable to future storms.

Addressing these vulnerabilities will require capital investment in new technologies to prepare critical networks and building systems for future risks. Post-hurricane analysis identified priority areas to prepare for the future, but sourcing specific cost-effective, innovative technologies remains difficult.

... Competition Awards

It is anticipated that the Competition will competitively award grants to multiple winning Applicants under each track, with grant amounts being based on Project -specific proven financial need as documented in the Applicants Application Packages. Awards of grant funds for winning Applicants are anticipated to include up to $45 million in total as allocated across Track 1 and Track 2, as follows:

Track 1: critical infrastructure resiliency track: Grants to increase the resiliency of four (4) categories of critical networks:
- Electric power
- Liquid fuels
- Other energy (e.g., steam and natural gas)
- Telecommunications (wired and wireless)

Track 2: building resiliency technologies track: Grants to fund demonstration projects that use innovative technologies that:
- Make building systems flood resistant
- Enable building systems to “fail gracefully
- Expedite recovery after a disaster

Do any geologists (or others) have any comments on the recent biennial report from the Potential Gas Committee?


It seems that they have upped the probable, possible and speculative natural gas supply resource by 486 TcF, which is 16 years at current consumption rates.

Re: Let's stop hiding behind recycling and be honest about consumption

Okay, nice start, but what shapes "consumption?" Mr. Monbiot seems unfamiliar with Barry Commoner:

"If you ask what you are going to do about global warming, the only rational answer is to change the way in which we do transportation, energy production, agriculture and a good deal of manufacturing. The problem originates in human activity in the form of the production of goods."

did you read the article? monbiot says

unsurprisingly, hardly anyone wants to talk about this, as the only meaningful response is a reduction in the volume of stuff we consume. And this is where even the most progressive governments' climate policies collide with everything else they represent.

Reduction in volume of stuff we consume doesn't necessarily imply the problem begins with production. Seems like a chicken and the egg thing to me but whatever.

I agree, though, that most national environmental organizations don't want to touch the consumption issue except to point out all the green products they could buy so they can become "greener", a word I hate.

In any event, virtually nothing can be done on a voluntary basis just like everything else. A world wide depression would be helpful, however.

I agree, though, that most national environmental organizations don't want to touch the consumption issue except to point out all the green products they could buy so they can become "greener", a word I hate.

And they most certainly won't touch the highly charged third rail of overpopulation!

As for having a strong dislike for the moniker 'green' myself, I like to remind people that the reason plants look green is because they have no use for light in the green end of the spectrum and they discard or reflect it. True environmentalists should be blue and red >;-)

I think a great deal of the problem is that currently, wealth is measured in the ability to consume goods. But a great deal of wealth is not in consumables, but in things like real property.

If we asked, "what is necessary for a good life?", I doubt iPhones would be high on the list. But good food, housing, health, and social life would be very high. So, how do we create a society with real wealth?

I don't think misery is the only option. It's just the default option.

DoD Issues Instructions on Military Support of Civilian Law Enforcement

The new instruction titled “Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies” was released at the end of February, replacing several older directives on military assistance to civilian law enforcement and civil disturbances. The instruction requires that senior DoD officials develop “procedures and issue appropriate direction as necessary for defense support of civilian law enforcement agencies in coordination with the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, and in consultation with the Attorney General of the United States”, including “tasking the DoD Components to plan for and to commit DoD resources in response to requests from civil authorities for [civil disturbance operations].” Military officials are to coordinate with “civilian law enforcement agencies on policies to further DoD cooperation with civilian law enforcement agencies” and the heads of the combatant commands are instructed to issue procedures for “establishing local contact points in subordinate commands for purposes of coordination with Federal, State, tribal, and local civilian law enforcement officials.”

Though the Posse Comitatus Act is the primary restriction on direct DoD involvement in law enforcement functions, it does not prevent military personnel from participating in circumstances “authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress.”

also Canadian Forces Guidance for the Conduct of Domestic Operations

and (U//FOUO) U.S.-Canada Civil Assistance Plan 2012

Pesticide Suspected in Bee Die-Offs Could Also Kill Birds

Controversial pesticides linked to catastrophic honeybee declines in North America and Europe may also kill other creatures, posing ecological threats even graver than feared, say some scientists.

According to a report by the American Bird Conservancy, the dangers of neonicotinoid pesticides to birds, and also to stream- and soil-dwelling insects accidentally exposed to the chemicals, have been underestimated by regulators and downplayed by industry.

The report also notes that chronic toxicity — effects that don’t kill animals outright, but over time cause health, reproductive and behavioral problems — has largely been overlooked.

Iraq struggles to solve electricity crisis

Many Iraqis pay two bills for electric power - one to the government and another to owners of private generators. Ten years after the war, the power supply still falls short of demand.

... across Iraq, hydroelectric power plants are operating below capacity because the Ministry of Water Resources has not provided proper maintenance of dams, ... But the Ministry of Electricity's most bitter complaints are reserved for the Ministry of Oil, which most of Iraq's power plants rely on for fuel.

"We understand the pressure they are under, as most of the country's revenues come from oil exports", he said. "But we need fuel for our power plants as well."

"We import around four million litres a day of gasoil from Iran because the Ministry of Oil is not giving us what we need," says Mr Mudarres.

... Some of the problems might be resolved if Iraq started making better use of its natural gas, considered the best fuel for power plants.

But a lot of Iraq's natural gas is still being flared and production is a long way from meeting demand.

Once again, Iraq turns to Iran for help.

Portugal and Ireland to be given more bailout repayment time

Portugal and Ireland are to be granted an extra seven years to pay back their emergency bailout loans.

The European Union and the IMF bailed out the Republic of Ireland in 2010 and Portugal in 2011.

also German man caught 'smuggling' gold at Greek airport

A German man has been arrested at Athens International Airport after allegedly trying to smuggle nearly half a ton of gold and silver out of Greece, according to airport officials.

The BBC's Mark Lowen in Athens says the timing of the arrest is unfortunate for German-Greek relations.

Hmmm... is it illegal to move cash, silver or gold in the EU? I know it now applies in Cyprus, but in Greece also? Strange article, it alludes to all kinds of wrong doing, without explicitly saying anything illegal took place.

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-04-bird-flu-strain-mammals-humans.htmlNew bird flu strain seen adapting to mammals, humans

A genetic analysis of the avian flu virus responsible for at least nine human deaths in China portrays a virus evolving to adapt to human cells, raising concern about its potential to spark a new global flu pandemic.

"The human isolates, but not the avian and environmental ones, have a protein mutation that allows for efficient growth in human cells and that also allows them to grow at a temperature that corresponds to the upper respiratory tract of humans, which is lower than you find in birds," says Kawaoka, a leading expert on avian influenza.

In addition, the isolates from patients contained another mutation that allows the virus to efficiently replicate inside human cells. The same mutation, Kawaoka notes, lets the avian virus thrive in the cooler temperatures of the human upper respiratory system. It is in the cells of the nose and throat that flu typically gains a hold in a mammalian or human host.


‘Deaths from new bird flu underscore grim fears, reports show’

A new report on three of the first patients in China to contract a novel strain of bird flu has U.S. officials worried about a grim scenario that includes severe illness with pneumonia, septic shock, brain damage and multi-organ failure.

So far, it has infected at least 43 people in four Chinese provinces and killed 11 in the past two months, Chinese authorities said.

It’s particularly concerning because the virus clearly has the potential to cause severe disease, it has genetic characteristics that suggest that it might be better adapted than other bird flu strains to infect mammals -- including humans -- and people have no resistance to it, the U.S. scientists reported.

The virus doesn’t make birds sick, so it may spread widely and remain undetected until people become ill.

previous vaccines developed to fight other H7 strains did not invoke strong immune responses in humans.

The virus remains contained to China and there is no evidence of sustained person-to-person transmission, both good signs, scientists said.

Brain damage? 1 in 4 die? People have no resistance to it? The birds don’t get sick from the virus? Previous H7 vaccines do not initiate an immune response? I guess the question that should be asked is, how many mutations would it take to achieve person to person transmission?

This should answer your question, although you may not like it:


However, from the article you linked there is this nugget which may be of some comfort;

“Even if we see relatively high numbers of human cases, it doesn’t mean a pandemic is imminent,” he said. “H5N1 has circulated for 16 years and not become mammal-to-mammal transmissible.”

It's interesting though to consider what would happen to global economic activity in the event of a modern day pandemic. Already stung by high (energy) oil price, it seems like it wouldn't take much to push it deep into recession.

We may end up going through a quin-bottle-neck of descending conventional oil supply, economic contraction, food riots, climate change and evolving flu viruses/super bug bacteria (exploiting seven billion hosts).

Beijing Confirms Child’s H7N9 Case, First in North China

Beijing confirmed that a 7-year-old girl whose parents sell live poultry is infected with H7N9 avian influenza, opening a new front in the spread of the virus that’s killed 11 people in the world’s most populous nation.

The report today brings the number of cases of the strain of bird flu in China to 44, after five infections were confirmed in the 25-hour period ended 6 p.m. yesterday in Shanghai and eastern Zhejiang province, according to government data.

This thing is still animal to human only. No human to human transmissions have been reported.

Friday funnies ...

Tar Sands Timmy

... What could possibly go wrong!

Who would have thought that a little spokescomic glob of animated bitumen could be so sweet, light and transparent? Well, if we're all going to (burn in) hell in an oil drum, might as well go with a little friendly fire and our own fuel supply.

Cost-Minimized Combinations Of Wind Power, Solar Power And Electrochemical Storage, Powering The Grid Up To 99.9% Of The Time

We model many combinations of renewable electricity sources (inland wind, offshore wind, and photovoltaics) with electrochemical storage (batteries and fuel cells), incorporated into a large grid system (72 GW). The purpose is twofold: 1) although a single renewable generator at one site produces intermittent power, we seek combinations of diverse renewables at diverse sites, with storage, that are not intermittent and satisfy need a given fraction of hours. And 2) we seek minimal cost, calculating true cost of electricity without subsidies and with inclusion of external costs.

This is the full journal article I referenced, pre-publication, back on the January 21, 2013 DB. Since a few folks indicated an interest, and since I finally figured out it’d been published and is publicly accessible (I’d originally feared a pay wall), thought I’d share it here for everyone to take a look at if they like.

I’ve just started to look through it myself, but I like their approach so far.

Hmmm. Must be doing something wrong in the ref tag. Let's just try a straight link:

99% Renewable Study: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378775312014759

They conclude that a 3 times overbuild of wind and photovoltaic is the lowest cost solution. That could be improved using demand side management to adjust some of the load to match the output of the power sources.