Drumbeat: April 26, 2013

‘Peak Fossil Fuels’ Is Closer Than You Think: BNEF

Every time an iPhone is charged or an episode of "Mad Men" plays on a television, puffs of vaporized carbon join the atmosphere, products of power-plant combustion. And every year the world demands more. That era may be nearing an end, as the world approaches “peak fossil fuels,” a phrased used by Bloomberg New Energy Finance founder Michael Liebreich at the group’s annual conference.

The concept of “peak oil” -- that world oil production will plateau and decline -- was popularized by a Shell Oil geologist named M. King Hubbert, who predicted in 1956 that U.S. oil production would max out in the early 1970s and gradually decline. Globally, the peak oil hypothesis has been consistently undermined by new extraction techniques: deep-water drilling, tar-sands extraction and most recently the fracking boom. The world now has enough of these fuels to last hundreds of years.

When will people start to understand peak oil?

Peak Oil will always be a controversial theory… always.

But it’s a reality.

What’s maddening is explaining it over and over again to people that don’t get it.

Unconventional: Jim Letourneau's Investment Taste

The Energy Report: How was your presentation, "Is Peak Oil Dead?" received at the Calgary Energy and Resource Investment Conference on April 5?

Jim Letourneau: It went really well. There are a lot of professional engineers and geologists there who work in the oil business, and most of them were agreeing that technology is a big factor that pushes out when peak oil is going to occur. For each pool or technology, there is going to be a peak, so peak oil is really the average of hundreds of different peaks, but I think my big-picture point was well received.

WTI Crude Retreats to Pare Biggest Weekly Gain Since June

West Texas Intermediate fell for the first time in seven days amid speculation the biggest weekly advance since June was excessive.

Futures slid as much as 0.9 percent after failing to settle above a technical-resistance level, paring this week’s advance to 5.9 percent. Prices may rise next week on speculation that the European Central Bank will cut its key interest rate to a record low, a Bloomberg News survey showed. Brent crude’s premium to WTI shrank to its narrowest since January.

Ras Tanura Oil-Tanker Capacity Seen Falling 13% in Latest Week

The combined carrying capacity of oil tankers calling at Saudi Arabia’s Ras Tanura fell 13 percent in the week ended April 20, vessel-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The implied capacity of vessels calling at the world’s largest crude-export complex slid to the equivalent of 7.66 million barrels a day from 8.80 million barrels for the prior week, according to signals gathered by IHS Fairplay, a Redhill, England-based maritime research company. The data may be incomplete because not all transmissions are captured.

Coal Slump Seen Ending on Deal at Four-Year Low

A deal to sell Australian thermal coal at the cheapest level since 2009 is raising the prospect of production cuts in the world’s second-biggest exporter and an end to a slide in prices.

Argentina to Get Belgium LNG Spot Cargo at Bahia Blanca April 28

Argentina is scheduled to receive a spot cargo of liquefied natural gas from Belgium over the weekend, according to ship-tracking data.

The Galicia Spirit, with a capacity of 137,814 cubic meters, will arrive April 28 at the port of Bahia Blanca southwest of Buenos Aires, according to ship transmissions captured by IHS Fairplay on Bloomberg. The tanker sailed from Zeebrugge, Belgium’s LNG receiving terminal, where it loaded the supercooled natural gas and departed April 10.

Global slowdown pulling prices lower for consumers, businesses

Bad economic news from China and Europe may be good news for U.S. companies and shoppers.

Fresh data from the world’s second and third largest economies this week showed they continue to face big headwinds, raising fears that the U.S. may be headed for another "spring slump."

But with global demand weakening for raw materials and other commodities, prices are falling. That discount amounts to billions of dollars in savings for American companies and households.

Involuntary Unemployment Is Real

What's going to happen when all these people get their new widget-related jobs? There's going to be inflation. There's going to be a lot more cars on the road. There's going to be a lot of newly employed kids moving out of mom's basement and driving up rents. As people start occupying more dwelling space per person, there's more demand for winter heating fuel. And the jobs boom doesn't narrowly target the unemployed. Some fraction of the currently employed population will take advantage of the boom to quit their current job, so currently profitable firms are going to need to start raising wages to avoid losing staff. Then of course you have your various firms in monopolistic industries—your Comcasts and your Verizons—who'll take advantage of higher incomes to raise prices. And the increased commodity prices will cycle through into non-energy factors. Gasoline is a production input for airlines and delivery services. Electricity is a production input for everyone.

Norwegian Oil Fund Gains $37 Billion as Stock Markets Rally

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, gained 219 billion kroner ($37 billion) in the first quarter as stocks surged amid unprecedented stimulus from central banks to boost economic growth.

The $728 billion Government Pension Fund Global returned 5.4 percent in the first three months of the year, the Oslo- based investor said today. Stocks returned 8.3 percent, while bond investments climbed 1.1 percent. Real estate investments lost 0.3 percent.

Sinopec Profit Gains as Refining Losses End, Output Increases

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, reported a 25 percent gain in first- quarter profit after ending refining losses and increasing oil and natural gas output.

Mexico's Pemex posts first-quarter loss of 4.39 bln pesos

(Reuters) - Mexico's state oil monopoly Pemex posted a loss in the first quarter, compared to a profit during the same period a year ago, hurt by weaker exportrs, lower oil and derivative prices and a stronger peso, the company said on Friday.

Total Profit Drops 7% on Lower Oil Price as Production Falls

Total SA, Europe’s third-largest oil producer, reported a 7 percent decline in earnings as output fell and weakening fuel demand pushed down the price of crude.

Exxon Profit Rises as Chemical Earnings Offset Crude Price Drop

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest company by market value, said net income rose as widening chemical margins made up for lower crude production and prices.

Chevron Net Income Falls as Prices Decline on Weakening Demand

Chevron Corp., the world’s third- biggest energy company by market value, said profit declined as weakening demand lowered oil prices.

UPM to Cut Power Use by 3.5% After Shutting Two Paper Machines

Finland’s biggest electricity user is closing newsprint machine number 3 in Rauma, and magazine paper machine number 4 in Ettringen, Germany to cut costs amid falling demand, UPM said today in its first-quarter earnings statement. Power use in Finland’s forestry sector slumped 28 percent to 20,100 gigawatt- hours last year after producers including UPM and Stora Enso Oyj shut unprofitable plants.

China slams Philippine bid to "legalise" occupation of islands

(Reuters) - China accused the Philippines on Friday of trying to legalise its occupation of islands in the disputed South China Sea, repeating that Beijing would never agree to international arbitration.

Frustrated with the slow pace of regional diplomacy, the Philippines in January angered China by asking a U.N. tribunal to order a halt to Beijing's activities that it said violated Philippine sovereignty over the islands, surrounded by potentially energy-rich waters.

Syrians Turn to Backyard Refining as War Reaches Oil

In an open field northeast of the Syrian city of Aleppo, teenagers set fires under large vats of crude oil and siphon the byproducts into jerry cans.

The scene, captured on footage and uploaded onto YouTube, shows a young man walking around fires and through smoke near the town of Al Bab, explaining the production of mazut, used for home heating, and diesel at his homemade refinery.

Obama’s Syria Red Line Tested by Chemical Weapons Report

President Barack Obama is under renewed pressure from lawmakers to increase U.S. efforts to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after U.S. intelligence agencies reported “with varying degrees of confidence” that the regime may have used small amounts of sarin nerve gas.

That’s a shift from the administration’s previous responses to chemical-weapons allegations by Syrian opposition groups. Although the U.S. intelligence community has differing levels of confidence that Assad’s regime has used poison gas, the new assessment draws Obama closer to his previously declared “red line” over such use and has fueled calls for action by lawmakers already advocating deeper involvement.

E.ON says reaches deal to keep Irsching plant open

IRSCHING, Germany (Reuters) - Germany's top utility E.ON said it reached a deal with regulators and grid operators to keep open its modern but unprofitable Irsching gas-fired power station in Bavaria, providing reserve power to stabilise the grid.

The agreement with the German network regulator Bundesnetzagentur and power grid TenneT ensures the Irsching blocks 4 and 5 will remain operational over the next three years, E.ON said, adding it would be paid based on Irsching's contributions to the grid.

The United States Can’t Be the World’s Courthouse

Two things America is known for—its love of lawsuits and its delight in meddling in the affairs of other countries—led to a strange form of litigation in which foreigners bring suits in U.S. courts against other foreigners, for human rights violations in foreign countries. Last week’s 9-0 Supreme Court ruling in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum has finally put an end to this litigation. Human rights groups complain that the decision means that foreign governments and corporations will be able to violate human rights with impunity. But cases like Kiobel, in which a group of Nigerians sued a Nigerian corporation and its Dutch and British corporate parents over their role in human rights abuses in Nigeria, never led to real human rights enforcement. In more than 30 years of litigation involving hundreds of cases, hardly any money went to victims. The Supreme Court got rid of a popular but unworkable idea that U.S. courts can be used to police behavior around the world.

With security eyes focused on airlines, terrorists look to rail, experts say

WASHINGTON - An alleged al Qaeda-backed plot to derail a U.S. passenger train in Canada sought to exploit the vulnerabilities of railroads that have not gotten much attention from the American public.

While the United States has sharply tightened security around airlines since the September 11, 2001, attacks, trains are far harder to police, with masses of passengers getting on and off and stops at many stations on a single line. Thousands of miles of track, bridges and tunnels present a major challenge to monitor.

Elon Musk hates 405 Freeway traffic, offers money to speed widening

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has already spent $50,000 trying to make the 405 Freeway better – and he’s willing to pay even more.

Musk said he is open to pay the cost of adding workers to the widening project "as a contribution to the city and my own happiness. If it can actually make a difference, I would gladly contribute funds and ideas. I've super had it."

Top 10 fuel-efficient cars for 2013

With gas prices in a constant state of flux, and the federal government offering as much as $7,500 in incentives to buy “green” cars, it would seem the only question for someone buying a new vehicle should be, “Which one do I pick?”

Kelly Blue Book attempts to answer that question with its list of Top 10 Green Cars for 2013. The car in the top spot shouldn’t be a big surprise: the 2013 Nissan Leaf.

Drive On: Clean diesels finally catching on

Every time we've driven a new diesel car lately, we've been amazed at how indistinguishable they have become from conventional gas cars. No clatter. No smoke. No rattling engine noise. Now it appears consumers are catching on: Registrations of diesel-powered passenger vehicles increased by 24.3% in the U.S. from 2010 through 2012, says an advocacy group, the Diesel Technology Forum.

The increase is not as much as for hybrids, at 33%, but far more than overall registrations of all vehicles at 2.7%, the group says, basing its information on data from compilers R.L. Polk and Company.

S.Africa police investigate PetroSA over alleged graft

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's police anti-corruption unit said on Friday it had opened an investigation at state oil company PetroSA, which reported "deviations" in financial procedures that a newspaper said involved millions of dollars of irregular payments.

In an investigative report published on Friday, the weekly Mail & Guardian questioned payments made when PetroSA last year secured crude oil acreage in Ghana through the acquisition of Sabre Oil and Gas Holding Ltd.

Shell Canada reports hazardous materials leak in Corunna

(Reuters) - Shell Canada issued an alert for a hazardous materials leak at its Corunna facility in Ontario, according to a notice on Sarnia-Lambton Network Alert System on Friday morning.

Consultants’ role in NY drilling study questioned

ALBANY, N.Y. — Government watchdog Common Cause and 11 environmental groups raised more questions about the role of gas industry-associated consultants in the state’s environmental impact study of shale gas drilling and fracking.

A review of Department of Environmental Conservation documents obtained by Common Cause through Freedom of Information Law requests shows two more firms with memberships in the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York were contracted for the state’s review.

Don't let America get 'fracked'

(CNN) -- Even the heads of fossil fuel companies read the polls. They know the majority of Americans see global warming as an imminent threat and a clear sign that the way we use energy must change. But instead of offering the solar and wind choices America wants, fossil fuel companies like Shell, Exxon and Duke are offering what might be their most disastrous bait and switch yet: natural gas.

The bait? Burning natural gas is "clean" because it produces less carbon pollution than burning oil and coal. The switch? The catastrophic pollution caused when companies like Exxon fracture the earth -- commonly called fracking -- to get natural gas out of the ground.

U.K. Fracking May Fail to Cut Local Gas Prices, Report Shows

Developing U.K. shale gas may fail to follow U.S. precedent and cut local prices due to differences in geography, population density and environmental controls and as world fuel demand grows, according to a parliamentary report.

On the flipside, shale would benefit the U.K. by reducing reliance on gas imports and adding to tax revenue, the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee said in the report.

Frac Daddy to represent oil field workers in Kentucky Derby run

This year’s May 4 Kentucky Derby field includes a horse oil and gas workers can get behind – though his odds of winning aren’t very good.

Horse owners Carter Stewart and Ken Schlenker both work in the energy industry, according to interviews they gave to the Billings Gazette of Montana. Stewart is a petroleum geologist and Schlenker is a land man. The horse’s name is a nod to hydraulic fracturing.

Keystone pipeline start date to be pushed back, costs expected to rise: TransCanada

TransCanada Corp. expects further delays and higher costs on its flagship Keystone XL project, citing delays in receiving a U.S. presidential permit.

The company now expects the proposed project to start in the second half of 2015 and cost more than the US$5.3-billion it had estimated earlier,according to a statement released Friday.

Study: Buyers of energy-efficient homes less likely to default

Eileen Ryan and Matt Cooper wanted their new house to be good for the environment and they were willing to pay a premium for it. They spent $350,000 to build their two-story, 2,000-square-foot energy-efficient house in Olympia, Wash., and they are happy they did.

“It costs more to build an energy-efficient house, but it costs significantly less to live in one,” Eileen explained.

Their energy bills tell the story. They pay a measly $70 a year to heat and cool the place.

Is wind energy’s future bladeless?

A Tunisian wind energy startup says it is in talks with a number of major industrial players as it looks to move its bladeless wind towers to a commercial scale.

Saphon Energy’s sail inspired towers wobble in the wind, with pistons converting kinetic energy to electricity. It says that by removing blades and gearboxes it can “comfortably” reduce the cost of wind energy by 25%.

Empirical tests it has conducted suggest bladeless wind devices could be 2.3 to 2.5 times more efficient than three-blade turbines, capturing about 60-70% of the wind’s kinetic energy.

Sudan's biggest sugar firm plans biofuel expansion, Joburg IPO

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Kenana, Sudan's biggest sugar producer, plans to more than triple its ethanol output within two years to become a major biofuel exporter and intends to make a stock market offering in South Africa, its managing director said.

Kenana, which is mainly owned by the governments of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, is aiming to more than double its annual sugar output to 1 million tonnes by 2015 as the firm seeks new export markets such as South Sudan, Mohamed El Mardi El Tegani told Reuters.

West, Texas, explosion demands action

Over a half-century, the town of West crept up around the fertilizer facility until the plant sat near a middle school, a nursing home, an apartment complex and numerous houses that were destroyed or damaged by the explosion, which dug a crater 90 feet wide and killed 14 people.

To the extent regulators paid attention to the plant, they seemed to have worried about lesser dangers. Texas regulators monitored air quality and truth-in-labeling. On the federal side, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration hadn't inspected the business for worker safety problems since 1985, and the Department of Homeland Security didn't know it housed the fertilizer that apparently triggered the explosion.

Scientist Says Pollution From China Is Killing a Japanese Island’s Trees

YAKUSHIMA, Japan — A mysterious pestilence has befallen this island’s primeval forests, leaving behind the bleached, skeletal remains of dead trees that now dot the dark green mountainsides. Osamu Nagafuchi, an environmental engineer with a passion for the island and its rugged terrain, believes he knows the culprit: airborne pollutants from smog-belching China, hundreds of miles upwind.

For years, Mr. Nagafuchi’s theory was ignored by fellow scientists and even mocked by bureaucrats in the national government who administer the forests on this southwestern island. But Japan has begun taking his warnings more seriously, as the nation has been gripped by a national health scare over rising levels of potentially dangerous airborne particles that have swept into other parts of Japan and that many now believe were produced by China, its huge and rapidly industrializing neighbor.

Elephant poaching on rise in chaos-hit Central African Republic

DAKAR (Reuters) - Elephant poachers are taking advantage of the chaos in Central African Republic to hunt down the animals in protected wildlife areas and openly sell their meat in village markets, campaigners said on Friday.

The killings were part of a wider surge in poaching, fuelled by growing Asian demand for ivory, that threatened the region's entire elephant population, eight organizations said.

Impoverished but mineral-rich Central African Republic was plunged into turmoil in March when rebels charged into the capital and ousted President Francois Bozize.

In Midwest, Drought Gives Way to Flood

CHICAGO — The nation’s midsection, which was for months parched by severe drought, suddenly finds itself contending with the opposite: severe flooding that has forced evacuations, slowed commercial barge traffic down the Mississippi River and left farmers with submerged fields during a crucial planting time.

The flooding, driven in part by rainfall of as much as eight inches in some places last week, has affected a remarkably wide stretch in states along swollen rivers in the Midwest.

NM grapples with tough choices as drought persists

HATCH, N.M. (AP) -- In southern New Mexico, the mighty Rio Grande has gone dry — reduced to a sandy wash winding from this chile farming community to the nation's leading pecan-producing county. Only puddles remain, leaving gangs of carp to huddle together in a desperate effort to avoid the fate of thousands of freshwater clams, their shells empty and broken on the river bottom.

Across the state's eastern plains, wells stand empty and ranchers are selling their cattle. In the north, urbanites face watering restrictions while rural residents see the levels of their springs dropping more every day.

Going on three years, drought has had a hold on nearly every square mile of New Mexico. Now, with forecasts predicting hotter, drier weather ahead, farmers and small and large communities alike are questioning whether dwindling supplies can be stretched enough to avoid costly fights over water.

Land O' Lakes: Melting Glaciers Transform Alpine Landscape

Climate change is dramatically altering the Swiss Alps, where hundreds of bodies have water are being created by melting glaciers. Though the lakes can attract tourists and even generate electricity, local residents also fear catastrophic tidal waves.

Ireland: EU consensus exists for setting 2030 greenhouse gas targets

DUBLIN, Ireland (UPI) -- There is a consensus among European energy and environment chiefs backing new 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets, Irish Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte says.

Rabbitte issued a statement after this week's informal meeting of EU energy and environmental ministers in Dublin indicating that while significant national differences remain on what form they should take, a broad consensus exists on the need for a new set of climate change targets after the current binding framework expires in 2020.

No End to Power Rout as Carbon Market Vote Fails

Europe’s failure to rescue the region’s carbon market is likely to encourage utilities to burn record amounts of coal, putting power prices in Germany on course for the worst-ever sequence of quarterly declines.

Electricity for next year, the benchmark contract already trading near an almost eight-year low, may drop a further 4.8 percent through June, according to a Bloomberg News survey, extending an unprecedented eight quarters of losses. Coal-fed power generation in Germany rose 16 percent last quarter, Federal Statistical Office data show.

State College mayor urges fossil fuel divestment

PITTSBURGH — The mayor of the central Pennsylvania borough of State College has endorsed a campaign that urges municipalities to divest from fossil fuel companies, the environmental group 350.org said in a release Thursday.

Borough Mayor Elizabeth Goreham joined nine other mayors in urging municipalities to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies because of climate change, but other officials said the issue hasn’t been voted on.

Scientists Advocate a Simple, Affordable and Accurate Technology to Identify Threats from Sea-Level Rise

A team of researchers led by Associate Professor Edward L. Webb of the National University of Singapore (NUS) is calling for the global adoption of a method to identify areas that are vulnerable to sea-level rise. The method, which utilises a simple, low-cost tool, is financially and technically accessible to every country with coastal wet­lands. The team seeks to establish a network to coordinate the standardisation and management of the data, as well as to provide a platform for collaboration.

To start on a positive note, local solutions, local success:

KEA presents green energy success for Earth Day

On Earth Day, the Kodiak Electric Association turned in a report that would make even a Berkley environmentalist happy. At the cooperative's annual meeting, 250 Kodiak residents learned that 95.7 percent of their power over the previous year was generated from wind or water. That mark means Kodiak has met its long-term goal: generate 95 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The rest of the article is behind a pay wall; maybe someone can feret out a link. More from KEA:


Musk, above wants a wider freeway. Suggest that he speed up his mission to get to Mars. I hear there is very little traffic out there. His EV doesn't really solve the infrastructure problem, does it?

Probably makes it worse, frankly. It uses the roads but doesn't pay the fuel taxes that help maintain them.

Until they figure out the highway taxes on EVs, it's a hidden subsidy. Most of the EV vs. ICE vehicle cost comparisons ignore this, and the current average US+State fuel tax is 48.8 cents per gallon of gasoline, 54.4 cents for diesel per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_taxes_in_the_United_States. How to tax hybrids and EVs for their fair share will be a contentious debate, IMO. Some states are already moving on this:

Highway Tax Slapped On EV Owners in Washington State

One of the big benefits of owning an electric vehicle (EV) is that you no longer have to go to a gas station. But even though EV sales are just starting to pick up, at least one state realizes there's a gap to fill - EV owners don't pay any gas tax.

Starting February 1, 2013, EV owners in Washington state will have to pay a controversial annual $100 fee – basically to make up for what they no longer pay in gasoline taxes.

The law applies only to EVs that are driven on highways, not to neighborhood EVs that can't exceed 35 miles per hour. It also doesn't apply to hybrid or plug-in vehicles because they still fill up with gas.

$100 is still less than the average family car likely pays. A car being driven 10K miles per year, getting 25 MPG, paying the average 48.8 cents per gallon tax contributes $195/year.

But ICE fossil fuel use is subsidized in other ways.

Can we get a National Defense Tax on gasoline and diesel? I certainly don't like subsidizing an army whose almost sole purpose is to secure oil the tune of $800 Billion - $1 Trillion a year.

The key is to figure out how to tax the free riders. Psst, Japan. Want the US to ensure that the Strait of Hormuz stays open? Pay up.

Isn't that why they buy your treasury bonds? It sure isn't for the yield.

No one said that the EV is a solution to the infrastructure problem. It is a solution to the problem of reliance on importing an increasingly scarce and expensive liquid fuel. The government can raise money to maintain roads by charging toll instead of fuel taxes. Most of the damage to the road is done by trucks anyway. Cars cause hardly any damage.

Why this hostility towards Musk? He has become rich by succeeding as an entrepreneur. He is not the only one who wants to drive and he doesn't mind paying out of his own packet to improve public infrastructure.

We're heading into a future where there will be a significant reduction in the percentage of people who can afford a private automobile (regardless of how they are powered). Further expanding highways now will prove to have been a poor investment in the long run.

Perhaps you are correct. However a vast majority of people do not share this opinion about the future. They want bigger and better highways and less congestion now. They are on the same side as Musk on this one.

Suyog: Balderdash.

The baselessness of most talk about cars is really quite astounding. How brainwashed can people be?

Meanwhile, Musk is a major obstacle to a decent future. EVs are a way of (slightly) extending the wildly and plainly unsustainable. Nothing more, nothing less.

I think you should take a bit of comfort in the fact that a lot of the same old problems of crappy roads and traffic will continue to plague cars. The traffic issues are likely to ease over time as less people drive for one reason or another, but the costs and condition of the roads will likely not.

If it's any consolation I support a moratorium on new roads and believe some outliers should be turned over to residents or "set free" of maintenance and be allowed to "return to nature"

Work needs to be done on the other end though, to make cities a place where people want to be, and also give them a place to move to. If price is a reflection of demand, then there are plenty of people that want to move to cities right now - but nowhere they can afford - which if econ 101 is to be believed means that supply is too low. Sections of cities could over time start to be cut off from cars entirely with buses used within the boundaries while tram infrastructure is built and some number of lower-speed EV taxis to round out the mix.

Right now Detroit is the place to watch - it's like an experiment in the open. The population has fallen to the point that there are whole sections just being cut off. Where things differ is that the people have mostly gone other places entirely, not just relocated within the city boundaries. There are also situations like a friend I have there - she bought a house (mortgage), but there are three other people (friends, but not-family) that live with her. Something like the Twizy would suit all of her transportation needs except for rare long distance trips.

I note a slight bias on your profile :)
Human survival will arrive via bicycle.

I would love to live in a place with bicycle infrastructure like this: http://www.copenhagenize.com/2013/04/into-country.html

But you also have to keep in mind that people get old, sick, break bones, get legs blown off in terror attacks, live in/near crime-ridden areas...feces occurs and having options is good.

Substrate, agree. We need radical urban reconstruction. Detroit is a lesson, though we need this to become political, not just an unpublicized reaction. Few places on Earth have been more fucked over than black Michigan.

if you look at the comments on the Los Angeles Times actual article you will see a lot of people suggesting they should put a monorail on it, widening the highway will never fix the congestion, and advocating for Green transit instead of more and more Auto Addiction.

And yes this encapsulates the problem of EV's in a "musk-shell": it is not the fuel for Auto Addiction which is the major problem but the vast panoply of infrastructure around it.

As far as another comment that somehow without trucks that roads would not still need constant repaving I can point to the little paved alley by my house with no truck traffic which was riddled with potholes and had to be repaved with my town taxes just last year. Trucks are the worst offenders but asphalt roads, especially facing winter snow and ice, are constantly in need of maintenance.

The impact that winter conditions have on roads kept open for vehicle use is vividly illustrated in Gatineau Park, just north of Ottawa, Ontario. Most of the parkway in Gatineau Park is not plowed in the winter (it is instead groomed for cross country skiing) and these sections are in immaculate condition. I'm not aware of these sections ever having been repaved so it is possible they still have the original pavement from when they were built back in the 1960's. Parkway sections that are open to vehicle use through the winter have the usual cracks and potholes. Trucks are not permitted on these parkways so it is cars and other light vehicles that are doing the damage.

Mostly it is freeze thaw processes. Water fills microcracks, and expands when it freezes. The plowed road probably thaws in the sun most days, and freezes most night. The snowcovered road changes temperature only slowly, because the snow acts as insulation. I'm sure salt doesn't help either.

Potholes come from rain. When you drive over a puddle the loose water / mud splashes out and makes the hole deeper, whereas the surrounding dry area builds up. This even happens on our driveway with small cars.

Also from something called "subgrade pumping". When you drive on a tar road the tar pushes down and any water which has penetrated into the gravel underneath gets squeezed out, carrying fine material with it. Do this often enough and a void opens up under the tar and it breaks open under pressure.

Note that on most roads the tar surface is just a flexible skin that protects the gravel underneath and provides skid resistance. The gravel is the load-bearing layer.

"if you look at the comments on the Los Angeles Times actual article you will see a lot of people suggesting they should put a monorail on it"

An ordinary high speed train in the middle or at the side may do the trick. I do not know the speed on the highway but guess 200 - 250 km/h would be significantly faster than the cars. Then the drivers are left behind by the faster train every day it might start to have an impact on peoples minds.

That's the kind of thing I'm talking about - give people a reason to take that option. I don't think it would even have to be a high speed train to pull it off...if it's whooshing past gridlocked traffic at 60mph, people are going to have incentive to use it. They'll have a lot of incentive if they peer longingly at it, lose track of what they're doing, and crash. The backup caused by the crash would give everyone behind them more time to think about taking the train too.

I looked at the Google Maps image of it and it's wall-to-wall pavement - no real median in places. It would make sense to re-purpose the current HOV lanes for track and put in new HOV lanes, removing one regular lane of traffic.

That works. Most people would rather take the train into NYC than drive. Even the very wealthy take the train. Between the traffic, the high price of gas, the tolls, and the lack of parking, the train's a no-brainer.

They did a study a few years back, about the feasibility of turning the Long Island Expressway (AKA "the world's longest parking lot") into a double-decker highway, doubling capacity. They came to the conclusion that it would provide no benefit. More capacity on the highway would simply encourage more people to drive, pulling riders off the LIRR commuter train. So they'd spend millions, just to get two decks of bumper to bumper traffic, instead of one.

Here in South California adding more lanes hasn't relieved congestion. Two lanes were added to several miles of a heavily traveled portion of Interstate 5 and there were epic traffic delays during construction. The road is still a "parking lot" during the AM/PM commute.
California's high speed rail plans will be derailed by endless litigation from landowners and environmentalists.

Interestingly BART (the Bay areas electric local rail) for much of its length is situated between the two directions of major thoughways. So drivers do get to see the train speed past (I think it only does about 80mph).

Highspeed rail and highways have different engineering; curves and grades need to be more gentle for faster rail, so just putting a typical highspeed rail system along current highway corridors wont work. Putting another kind of mass people mover along existing highways is certainly doable in some areas.

Many existing rail corridores roughly parallel highways because the rails were there first and that's where the towns are; the megaroads came later. Atlanta is a case where the rails ran north to Chattanooga, south to Macon (and beyond),, east to Augusta, west to Birmingham, NE to Greenville/Charlotte, SW to the Gulf. The highways, and eventually the interstates, followed generally the same path. Those rail lines are still there for freight. Improving these rail lines for more passenger service makes more sense, but these ideas have been shot down over the years.

No hostility towards Musk. Just saying that one still has the massive infrastructure to maintain regardless of fuel used for vehicle. This includes interstate highways, local highways, local roads. police, fire, medical, etc. We cannot seem to maintain the infrastructure we have and the EV, of course, does not contribute to a solution to that basic issue.

However, people did raise a legitimate issue as to how we pay for the highways and EVs certainly should not get a free ride. I find the infinite need for highway expansion around cities a hopeless task. In Denver, several years, they spent billions "improving " I-25 through town. Well, things are as ridiculous as they always were. Simultaneously, they spent billions on expanding light rail.

We are back to the same discussion as yesterday so I will just acknowledge that apparently people feel moving millions of people around big cities should be done in an auto because people supposedly want to live that way. Don't really understand it, but I guess it is so.

The EV Problem is not that hard to fix. Leave gas taxes the way they are as a "carbon tax" and add this same level of taxation to all other fossil fuels based on carbon emitted. Roads could be paid for when cars are registered, you report your odometer reading and pay by the mile, and by vehicle Gross vehicle weight, not all that difficult actually.

I agree that public transportation and bicycles and walkable cities are a much better alternative to EVs, but EV's are better than plug in hybrids which are better than hybrids which are better than ice vehicles IMO.


Not that hard? In the US, it will be very hard. No New Taxes. The Republicans will kill it.

All of these posts saying "it would be easy to..." or "it wouldn't be hard to..." may be technically 100% correct, but the point is what is doable politically. In this country (the US), that is essentially nothing. I'm pushing 60, and I've never seen a political system so constipated. We can't do anything - we're that polarized and stupid.

Don't forget the Democrats who are busy trying to increase immigration and the size of the population which is a large factor in the need for higher taxes.

Everyone is trying to increase immigration, D and R alike, and most especially, the business community - it keeps labor costs down.Immigration is an insignificant factor in the need for higher taxes. See "military industrial complex".

Beg to differ. Immigration is a key part of the growth paradigm that also includes the military industrial complex and the financial system. It is a part of how we got to where we are today and is a factor in the current high unemployment rate which does, in part, drive the need for higher taxes.

At the state and local level, expenditures for infrastructure expansion to accommodate growth is a large driver for higher taxes and fees.

At the moment, I think it is the Ds that are pushing the hardest for "immigration reform". It is also a D who refuses to enforce the law who is in charge of immigration enforcement. The lack of enforcement is then used as an excuse to say that the system is broken and needs reform. So, plenty of blame to go around.

For the record, I don't support either party. They both are part of the problem in their own way and serve the same corporate interests.

An edge case of that thar "military industrial complex".


The filmmaker came up against enough roadblocks from the military in the making of Unclaimed — especially when it came to contacting Robertson’s family — to be convinced that, as one high-placed government source told him, “It’s not that the Vietnamese won’t let him (Robertson) go; it’s that our government doesn’t want him.”

Our political system is very efficient at getting things done. Some things. D's and R's work together very well, on some issues. Go back and look at the bipartisan legislation that has passed.

And with that you can see exactly who our politicians represent.

I'm pushing 60, and I've never seen a political system so constipated. We can't do anything - we're that polarized and stupid.

Political system?! What political system? I'm still fuming that we have a system that has sunk this low!

Disclaimer: I am not a registered Democrat nor am I affiliated with any activist group that I'm aware of.
However I received this email just the other day!

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I wish this was just a bad joke!

Cenk Uygur fight against money in politics, Wolf-Pac Presentation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcc0Q_6pZYU

Very much worth a watch, that video.

Wolf-Pac is an initiative to call for a constitutional convention of the states to put forward an amendment overturning "Citizens" United and banning corporate money in politics and to publicly fund campaigns.

Without something like this it's more likely than not that the US will simply follow entrenched corporations - oil/gas, automobile, coal, etc - until the United States completely collapses in a heap of poverty, pain, and ignorance having had our education system destroyed, our social safety nets destroyed, our social cohesion destroyed to make us pliable and defenseless against abuse. One of my hopes is that other countries have retained enough of their democracies and can resist the beast that the US has become, but so many western countries have been Californicated and now featuring the likes of China and India.

Until then just trying to speak out against the culture of ignorance and keep religious zealotism from destroying education, and inflicting a death by 1,000 cuts through promoting EV's and PV, local agriculture, local business etc.

I do fear that the US has hit an "Imam Hamid al-Gazhali" moment as described in Neil deGrasse Tyson's the "Erosion of Progress by Religions" presentation: http://youtu.be/6oxTMUTOz0w

"Arabic numerals" (the numbers you see on your keyboard), "Algebra," "Algorithm"...all Arabic names and all traceable to a 300 year period from 800-1100AD before Gazhali's work declared that "Mathematics is the work of the devil"...after which all progress came to screeching halt and has not recovered since.

The Christian religion, which it seems no politician can get elected without professing the faith of, has been thoroughly corporatized. If only you pray hard enough, God will make you a millionaire. The reason you're poor is because your lazy and don't pray enough. If you only have faith, one day your life will get better. Gays are destroying your marriage (not the economy - even though money issues are the #1 reason cited for marital distress). Think oil was created over millions of years? The Earth is only 5,000 years old! It must be abiotic and placed there by God's will in vast abundance for your personal use - how could it be otherwise? So vote for us, we'll stop those scary gays from ruining your life! (and use our legislative power to actually ruin your life by promoting the interests of the 0.1% and in the process destroying your child's future too! WIN-WIN!).

We've become so specialized in our tasks and otherwise distracted and ignorant that many things are simply taken on some sort of faith. I was reading a story the other day about a Prius taxi driver who said that people sometimes ask "Where do you get Hybrid Fuel from?" as if it runs on some magical substance other than gasoline. In the State of North Carolina the republicans used an anti-gay marriage amendment to drive homophobic "good Christians" to the polls along with scary "kenyan socialist muslim president" Barack HUSSEIN Obama (I heard my neighbor actually say this - Fox News listener and devout Christian of course) in a sucessful attempt to elect Tealiban party members, who've set to work dismantling environmental safeguards, social safety net programs, promoting Sharia-law-esque nipple-felony bills, corporate tax breaks, giving handouts to the electric utilities and trying to repeal REPS standards, teacher pay has fallen to the near bottom in the nation and they're in the process of Voucher-izing the schools.

So yeah, we've got some problems.

Indeed I was driving on the new and improved 12-lane I-25 today and it was stop and go for about 15 miles into the city from the south. Mostly stop, not so much go. Of course I was a significant part of the problem in my private automobile. No crashes or anything. Just a lot of cars.

Can a whole international culture, not just US, as a function of its 'corporate' psychology be systemically blind-sided on just about every major issue?
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said of the ongoing financial debacle "nobody saw it coming". http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/david-blanchflower/da...

Is it sensible to see similarities?
From the quote about the recent fertilizer explosion

To the extent regulators paid attention to the plant, they seemed to have worried about lesser dangers. Texas regulators monitored air quality and truth-in-labeling. On the federal side, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration hadn't inspected the business for worker safety problems since 1985, and the Department of Homeland Security didn't know it housed the fertilizer that apparently triggered the explosion.

Hopefully not double posted


Just a feasability study. Also within is mention of prelim studies of rail shipments from AB to Valdez Alaska and prelim studies of AB to the port of Churchill, MB via pipeline.

Churchill is going to lose a lot of wheat shipments unless Harpers friends at Cargill make up for the decline from the Canadian Wheat board.

My guess is that there is gold in them thar hills for writers of feasability studies and EIA's.

BTW to get some AB oil and coal EIA's various permutations via wildcards of

wget -rc ftp://ftp.gov.ab.ca/env/fs/eia


Not a rule of thumb, but until an EIA comes through, it might just be a vapour-proposal.

One example was recently posted on the Tyee.ca. It listed 12 proposals for LNG out of BC. No way 12 will be built.

I doubt any BC LNG facilities will be built. They are predicated on a huge price differential between Asia and NA. That will soon come crashing down.

Forgot to put up block quote

The Alberta government says it is in “serious talks” with the Northwest Territories to build an oil pipeline connecting the oil sands to the northern hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, near the Beaufort Sea.

Re: Is wind energy’s future bladeless?

I think the answer to this claim is NO!

HERE's a video which shows Saphon Energy’s machine. I think their claim of an improvement of 2.3 times the energy of a bladed machine ignores physics. They also claim that their machine is not subject to the Betz Law, but their graphic incorrectly represents the air flow thru the bladed turbine. The Betz Law is based on the fact that the air must slow down to impart energy to the blades, thus the upstream area of the air flow passing thru the disk described by the blade tips is smaller than the disk area, so less energy is available to drive the turbine. This device is another form of drag turbine, IMHO, which must still remove energy from the air flow, so the diagram they present for their device is clearly wrong as well.

Then too, their device, with it's high drag, will be subject to much greater horizontal forces, which will result in the need for a stronger tower, which adds to cost. The violent motion of this device would also likely tear it apart in the high winds of a storm. Sorry Mr. Labaied, there's no free lunch in the real world of energy and power...

E. Swanson

The idea that you would actually want to use some sort of vibrating, reciprocating machine seems misguided. I can't even imagine the long term stresses on the structure of that thing. But it does have a pretty sunflower painted on it.

I'm very skeptical as well. Sounds like a fun project, but hydraulics and pistons sound pretty problematic. Not sure I trust the aerodynamics as well, can it really efficiently capture wind energy?

I like the wind-wag better. A big albatross wing sticking straight up, no tower, wags back and forth like the bird, pumps air. air goes into a big reservoir, when power needed, air comes out, goes thru a heater, solar or combustion or both, and then thru hot gas turbine, boosting wind power input and providing completely controlled output any time.

No doubts about albatross efficiency.

Better yet, kite power, up where the real muscle is.

as far as i understand by the links they don't claim that the betz law is incorrect. it seems what they say is that
the machine's "effective diameter" is larger than its physical diameter. i don't know how to prove or disprove this but i think it isn't impossible. the flow of air is quite tricky.
there is even a million dollar award for solving a certain problem of the flow of
incompressible fluid (air at normal conditions is practically incompressible, ask boeing
how many millions they spend for solving navier-stokes equations)


What they claim is just that, a claim. They offer no proof and they apparently have an operational machine which should give then test data. That their cartoon of the stream flow diagram for a horizontal axis machine with blades is so completely wrong tells me they don't understand the Betz Law (aka: Betz Limit).

The force from the moving air is a function of velocity. However, a force does not provide physical work without motion and the motion of the impacted body reduced the relative velocity, which in turn reduces the force acting on the body. The relative speed which gives the maximum power can be calculated and that gives the Betz Limit. This device appears to "wobble" back and forth, like motion around an axis which is not parallel to the wind, with the orientation maintained by the fins on the rear. During the wobble, one edge of their disk is receding, the other is moving into the wind. Whether this results in more power than that obtained from a bladed turbine with the same diameter is not proven, without data. Trying to calculate the forces would be rather difficult, as this device would be expected to produce strong turbulent flow in it's wake.

Terms like "lift" and "drag" don't fit this device either, since aerodynamic lift is usually associated with the area of a wing, which is nearly parallel to the flow, or with the area of the blades on a turbine. In each situation the relative wind is usually at a small angle to the airfoil chord. With wind turbines, like propellers, the blades are twisted along their length to keep the "angle of attack" to the relative wind at some optimum value...

E. Swanson

it would be interesting to actually compute the flow with navier-stokes. this is quite challenging because this is a genuine time dependent 3d situation.

Yes, the flow must involve some vortex formation behind the "sail", oriented along the axis, which adds to the pressure drop across the thing. Last night I got to thinking about what was really happening and considered a 2-D version. Then, it hit me, I've seen one before. Think of a road sign with a single post, such as a STOP sign, fluttering in a high wind. The pole acts as a torsion bar or spring as the force on the sign twists the pole back and forth. The oscillation is a limit cycle, which could be used to "power" some pumping device, just as this circular sail does. It's not likely to provide much useful power, IMHO...

E. Swanson


Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:45am EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Economic growth regained speed in the first quarter, but not as much as expected, heightening fears an already weakening economy could struggle to cope with deep government spending cuts and higher taxes.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.5 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Friday, after growth nearly stalled at 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter. Economists had expected a 3.0 percent growth pace.

"It wasn't the bang-up start to the year we had hoped for, and the signals from March suggested that we will only decelerate from here," said Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC World Markets Economics in Toronto.

While consumer spending increased solidly, it came at the expense of saving, which does not bode well for future growth.

consumer sentiment fell to 76.4 last month from 78.6 in March.

The GDP report offers ammunition for the Federal Reserve to maintain its monetary stimulus. The U.S. central bank, which meets next week, is widely expected to keep purchasing bonds at a pace of $85 billion a month. "They are going to mark down their economic assessment. The second quarter is tracking closer to 1 percent," said Jacob Oubina, an economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

4th qtr. (2012) GDP was just .4%, then the first qtr. (2013) jumped up to 2.5% (in part from consumers spending solidly at the expense of savings), but economists had expected 3% growth, and the outlook is for 1% in the 2nd qtr.

I’m wondering if people bought all the hoopla brought to them by MSM regarding upbeat economic forecasts, responded by spending their savings and taking on more debt, but it only made for an artificial and temporary increase in GDP. In other words you can talk the flock into something but that doesn’t mean it’s reality based information. It would seem that high priced oil has it’s downward economic influence whether MSM or the White House like it or not.

Notice too, that this latest downbeat projection substantiates the Feds position to continue to QE, which begs the question as to whether the economy at current oil prices can ever wean itself off of QE. Almost seems like a locked in requirement at this point, that is unless someone has a magic bullet to get oil prices down even further, but that will reduce marginal oil sources and supply will drop, and so on...

Who in their right mind makes personal decisions about purchases based on rah-rah pumping from any MSM source? I don't even know how that thought process would go. The only two things I consider about spending money are A) Do I have the cash to be able to afford it? and B) Do I have a stable job to make up for the savings hit I'll take as a result? Who looks to the media for those answers?

A) Do I really need it... eliminates most things from the getgo.

Maybe you and I don't buy that type of news, but it's very possible for the greater populace to follow along with the rah rah. They get told enough times the recovery is on and they start making purchases. Look at the recent buying spree of houses to lease as rentals. What pursuaded them think it was a good idea? They must have had some idea it would pan out and who better to give them that jolt of enthusiasm but the mainstream upbeat news. Why have car sales been up recently? Why would someone go out on a limb to take on more debt or spend savings if they don't think the recovery is hitting its stride? You think they get these ideas in a vacuum of solitude? No, their friends watch the news and they all talk, and soon enough they've all talked themselves into the rah rah of a recovery (supported by huge govt. borrowing and QE's).

Bad debt will either default or will be buried on the Feds balance sheet. Given that there is still a lot of bad MBS siting on bank balance sheets and at Freddie and Fannie, QE will probable continue for quite awhile since the alternative is for the holders of the MBS to take a loss which isn't acceptable to the PTB.

...QE will probable continue for quite awhile

I concur, and the question then becomes can the economy once it's use to being spurred along by QE ever wean itself off at current oil prices? If so, then that will be a big day for the US economy. Then the next question is can the economy expand if the budget is balanced? Tough questions.

I think the whole point of the current Fed approach is to preserve the wealth of the wealthy and connected. Once enough debt has been buried on the Feds balance sheet then QE could be stopped and interest rates can be slowly raised. If a significant amount of Federal debt is left on the Feds balance sheet then it might be possible to get to a balanced budget.

Since the US is essentially out of new resources to exploit and only has value added services as a means of growth it doesn't seem likely to me that the economy can ever grow significantly again, at least in terms of higher living standards. High oil prices along with higher prices for most commodities as well as higher taxes coupled with falling wage rates will lead to lower living standards for most of the folks in the developed world.

Of course, along the road to this happy outcome there is plenty that can go wrong as not everyone is necessarily on board with the idea of preserving the wealth of the already wealthy.

I think the whole point of the current Fed approach is to preserve the wealth of the wealthy and connected.

The Feds primary function is to protect the assets of the Creditor Class.

It definitely has evolved from the idea of providing liquidity to the banking system!

I believe that providing liquidity for the banking system is what is being done.

That would be the case if the Fed was loaning money to the banks at the discount window. Instead, the Fed is outright buying MBS and burying the losses on their books which conveniently, they don't allow the public to audit.

These are all important questions as long as one is within the growth box. Thinking outside the box about how to provide real people jobs and/or enough income to live a decent life changes the solutions applied.

QE is a separate issue from a balanced budget as QE is engineered by the Fed, not the federal government.

As for unwinding QE, I don't think anyone really knows how to do that without creating chaos. Can't stop the Merry Go Round.

QE is a separate issue from a balanced budget as QE is engineered by the Fed, not the federal government.

I understand that, and was only clumping them together because both aid the economy in different ways, at least until they hit limits. For an example of how tough the debt situation is the sequestor cuts to air control is now being counter-measured by a policy Obama is signing. But the recent sequestor amount pales in comparison to the money borrowed each year, which in recent years is about a trillion deficit added to debt.

QE can't be unwound, all that can be done is to stop adding more once enough debt has been destroyed. As the MBS matures, it will probably continue to be rolled over into treasuries that are either continually reinvested or eventually the treasuries are wiped off the books.

The water wars come to WNC.


Henderson County will get access to Buncombe County resources and get a say in the operation of the new utility far out of proportion to its share of customers, he said.
He blamed the moves in part on Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, a co-sponsor of the water bill and the airport bill.

“We always thought he was a great charming fellow when he was coming to Sierra Club meetings,” Nesbitt said. “We didn’t realize that he was checking out all of our assets so that when he gets elected he can come take them.”

Nesbitt predicted that passage of legislation strongly opposed by Asheville and others will cause problems over time: “You don’t start a regional system and get everybody all tied up in it in a shotgun marriage.”

He also said senators should beware of supporting the bill because something similar could happen to the areas they represent.

“If you don’t think it’s coming your way, you just wait,” he said. “Water is going to be more important than oil at some point, and if you don’t think your neighbors will steal from you, observe. If you’ve got water and they don’t and they’ve got power and you don’t, they’ll take it.

This is a move by Hendersonville North Carolina to de-facto seize the assets, including large well-planned and cared for watersheds and reservoirs, of Asheville North Carolina (Buncombe County) and to appropriate it for their own growth. They're legislating it out of the hands of the local elected council and into an appointed board, as well as working on slipping in over-representation so that they will have more members on the board than city and county the system is stolen from (even though they have far fewer people).


The report is a blueprint for the financial collapse of the North American utility industry—and all of it at the hands of solar panels.

Perhaps this will happen, but there is still a considerable investment that needs to be made before it gets to that level. The existing power grid was not designed for nor is it capable of dealing with widespread distributed power generation, especially asynchronous generation.

The problems listed are really issues of finance and debt. Given the technical hurdles that need to be solved, you would think they could solve the financial one in that time too?

Clearly the way to get RE moving is to figure out how to turn it into a financial bubble.

We no longer have much of a buggy industry. We certainly shouldn't save it if that means retarding the progress of renewable electricity.

Speaking of which I was very encouraged by the large band shown for renewables on the graph at the top of today's Drumbeat, until I noticed that was a projection to occur by the year 2030. If that's all renewables has compiled by then, we're probably toast economically and weather-wise!

What will happen is that the utilities will eventually start charging a per month 'grid connection fee' to PV owners. Maybe $20/month. And that seems reasonable. They do deserve to be paid for the service of accepting excess power during the day and providing power at night.

If the grid collapsed then the vast majority of solar systems would collapse as well because (unlike Ghung's system) most solar PV systems are grid-tied and don't work without an active grid.

People could convert their systems but unless you spend a lot more money and have the expertise Ghung has, that will be too expensive and too difficult for most people.

Which they have always done, at least here we pay $7 a month for grid connection, yes that is $7.10 per kWh for the first kWh. After that, the more energy you use the cheaper it is (or seems to be).

People could convert their systems but unless you spend a lot more money and have the expertise Ghung has, that will be too expensive and too difficult for most people.

Even if you have Ghung's expertise, unless you are a licensed contractor they probably won't let you DIY in most places.

The good news is they do have off the shelf grid tie with battery back up systems available off the shelf. Check out Sunelec's pricing.

Low power DC typically doesn't need inspectors.

Up to 48 DC as I recall.

Know who else had 48VDC systems in their past? AT&T.

Now, did AT&T bend the code or bend TO the code?

Low power DC typically doesn't need inspectors.

True but any system connected to the grid does!

To make matters worse there are still a lot of ignorant inspectors and people who are in charge of handing out the permits out there.

A while back I was helping a friend install a passive solar hot water heater. It came with a small 15 watt PV panel that ran a 12V water pump. They wouldn't give us the permit until we had a county electrical inspector go over the plans. The guy didn't have a clue... Cost us a lot of time, money and aggravation.

To make matters worse there are still a lot of ignorant inspectors

This is why one should always have a body camera going - to record ones interactions with their fellow man.

The uniform building code allows installation of, “low energy circuits", that are no more than 50 V and one Amp to be installed without the need of boxes, protection of wires, or inspection. These circuits are used mostly for door bells, automatic door locks, HVAC, etc, and typically wired with 20 or 24 gage wire.
With todays LED lighting I would think it would make a lot of sense for the housing industry to standardize on a 48 volt DC bus for most lighting, small fans, and other low power devices. With between 20 and 50 fixed installation lamps in a modern house this would save a significant amount of copper, and labor. Standard 120V, or 200V for Europe, would still be needed for high power devices, and receptacles.

Even if you have Ghung's expertise, unless you are a licensed contractor they probably won't let you DIY in most places.

I don't believe this is true. I believe they don't tell people that they can do it themselves and they encourage people to hire a contractor to do it (and even provide nice lists of contractors, but I think you can do it yourself in most places as long as you submit plans, get the plans approved, and get the system fully inspected before turning it on.

I have self-installed myself. So I know it is NOT true in California.

I had a strange conversation with a guy who converted his car from gas to electric . . . very difficult task that I would not attempt . . . who hired a contractor to install a solar system . . . a relatively simple task . . . because he didn't think he was allowed to do it himself. There are lots of vested interests that don't want people to know they can do it themselves (installers, electricians, utility companies etc.). And other institutions that don't have a vested interest often seem to prefer installers because it simplifies things for them (building departments, utility companies, PV equipment manufacturers, etc.)

"What will happen is that the utilities will eventually start charging a per month 'grid connection fee' "


They already do, at least here. It's 44 cents a day, whether I use power or not.

What will happen is that the utilities will eventually start charging a per month 'grid connection fee' to PV owners. Maybe $20/month.

Here on Oahu we're paying $12/mo for the grid connection, which is generally our entire bill. Heckuva deal to be able to get credit for every watt created. My guess is that as time goes by, this connect fee will rise significantly, but it'll still be a good deal.

For grid unreliability, we found it was cheap & easy to also have a separate offgrid system of lower capacity.

Oh . . . and I've pointed this about before but this article has a fundamental flaw in its logic.

3. What’s worse, solar panels supplant the most profitable kind of power that utilities sell. In the middle of the day in the summer, when the sun is shining and air conditioners are churning away, electricity companies sell power at peak prices. These are also the times that solar panels are most effective, lopping off the mid-day “peak” where utilities usually make most of their money.

Now yes, they lose the peak power sales to the PV power. However, they 'borrow' the excess daytime energy from the PV owner and sell that power to the PV owner's neighbor for peak rates. Then then replace that PV power that they borrow at night when the sun has gone down with excess power they have because there is little demand at night. Thus, the utility actually gets to arbitrage the spread between peak and non-peak time.

Assuming the generator is unbundled from the utility, it is he that takes the hit. If the utility owns the generator than it takes the hit (although In Germany it is companies like EON which own/operate the coal plants that are getting hammered(they do get the arbitrage).In Germany it is companies like EON which own/operate the coal plants that are getting hammered.

Shocked! Shocked I am!

Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever
The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There's no price the big banks can't fix


Nowadays, bad economic news (jobless rates, food stamp usage, industrial activity, etc.) is literally met with cheers from the investment community because they know the Fed will counter that bad news with another shot of stimulus heroin, causing the markets to rise, and everyone piles in with them. This is why the markets seem to react opposite to what the news and fundamentals would suggest.

The new spin I am hearing is that there is this 2 trillion dollar underground economy!!! and if we count that we are in boom times!!! Voodoo economics just the other way around!

Numbed, numbed I am. Can anybody (or group) stop these guys? What about the latest proposal by Sen. Sherrod Brown, S.798, Title: "A bill to address equity capital requirements for financial institutions, bank holding companies, subsidiaries, and affiliates, and for other purposes"? Hard to say what this would accomplish, since the text of the bill isn't on THOMAS yet...

E. Swanson

No, nobody can stop them. What will happen is that people will simply learn that all financial dealings are corrupt, that they have no recourse and can have no expectations of fair dealing. So they will do as much as they can to avoid dealing with banks - faith in the currency and the system will be gone.

So in a sense, while these folks are having a party now they are destroying the "value" of the electronic dollars they are accumulating, which is ultimately tied to the public's faith that it actually is of value.

The bankers inevitably destroy their own empires. But over the last few decades they have concentrated a great amount of wealth in the hands of a very few (who owns most of America's farmland?) So when the monetary system collapses, we'll still mostly be serfs again, because few people own anything substantial anymore.

"Can anybody (or group) stop these guys?"

I had most of this explained to me about 10 years ago by a friend (more like a big brother, now deceased) who was a power attorney for one of the mega-banks, in Paris. All one can really do is divorce one's self from their systems as much as possible; stop feeding the monster, starve the bastards. It's not as scarey as it sounds; no credit, limit your dealings with large corporations, be very careful with whom you spend your money, limit your taxable income, put savings into hard assets, avoid their traps. I'm sure most folks have no clue what I'm talking about, but what they view as the 'grey economy' is really black and white, unlike the economy they're so invested/trapped in.

This too will pass. The parasites are slowly killing the host.

If you can't divorce yourself from the system at least don't play the game. Pay down your mortgage, payoff of your debts, invest in local businesses, realestate, solar system, etc, hard assets as you say. Be willing to pay taxes now to avoid the 401K mutual fund / large mortgage trap. The tax system is designed to suck the masses into the system, allow the banks to control the money and keep people in perpetual debt.

Real estate puzzles me in a economic crash. If few have money to pay rents, then here I am trying to keep have-nots from squatting, and not only that, the police are likely to have far more pressing matters than assisting me in coercing rent from people who have no money.

I get the strong idea the best investment is in yourself, your tools, your skills, your personal infrastructure with which you can make yourself useful to your neighbors. That way if worse comes to worse, they won't have a vested interest in doing away with you and simply taking your things. My own take is learn how to build and fix things.

In the event of a economic system crash, I get the idea trying to collect rent is going to be extremely hazardous to your health, but if you can fix cars, keep appliances running, house maintenance, or other personal services your neighbors appreciate, your neighbors will provide for you too. Not cash, but protection. Your neighbors will make the difference as to whether you survive or not. There will be many people looking for opportunity for theft, and it only takes one phone call for a neighbor who is not looking out for you to alert one of his friends to where a free meal and stash of goods are. And damn near impossible for the police to recover.

I have the strong idea the former rich, who would call the city enforcement on those who try to fix a car in their driveway, will have a very rude awakening when the push comes to a shove - as they will be seen like a tie-guy in a ghetto neighborhood... nothing more than a walking wallet. We are used to others being accountable to law, but when others have nothing for the authorities to take, it will be harder to control them. The fear of forfeiting your own stuff as sanctions for disobeying law vanish when people have nothing left to take.

...the police are likely to have far more pressing matters than assisting me in coercing rent from people who have no money.


And miss the opportunity to put on the military gear and grab the M16's? Perish the thought!

Says one flea to the others. I own this dog.

Someone explain the chart below to me. It is from: 2013 Crude Oil Outlook: Supply & Demand

Oil Production Struggling to Grow

It shows OPEC production overtaking Non-OPEC production in 2005. It doesn't say whether that is all liquids or crude only but the numbers are slightly too low to be C+C, so I suppose they are Crude Only. Still that don't seem to match the EIA's numbers. Moreover it shows Non-OPEC production peaking in 2002 and the 2012 numbers about 1.5 mb/d below the 2002 numbers. And it shows total 2012 production at just above 70

Here are the EIA's C+C numbers for OPEC and Non-OPEC in thousand barrels per day. Note that Non-OPEC produced almost 10 million barrels per day more than OPEC in 2012:

   OPEC   Non-OPEC Total
2000	28,940	39,583	68,522
2001	28,114	40,003	68,116
2002	26,435	40,825	67,260
2003	27,885	41,478	69,363
2004	30,313	42,149	72,462
2005	31,766	41,878	73,644
2006	31,476	41,793	73,269
2007	31,143	41,730	72,873
2008	32,433	41,265	73,699
2009	30,522	41,785	72,307
2010	31,507	42,567	74,074
2011	31,784	42,360	74,144
2012	32,877	42,676	75,553

Ron P.

In a past drumbeat the large amo buys of DHS was mentioned.

The framing of a Congressman was not mentioned as it had not happened.

Comparing that with the small-arms purchases procured by the U.S. Army, he said the DHS is churning through between 1,300 and 1,600 rounds per officer, while the U.S. Army goes through roughly 350 rounds per soldier.

What If We Never Run Out of Oil?

New technology and a little-known energy source suggest that fossil fuels may not be finite. This would be a miracle—and a nightmare.

There's a couple of comments on this in the previous Drumbeat.

Oops, my bad.

Didn't realize it was a previously posted and discussed article.

On the cover of this month's "Atlantic" there is no "what if", only the statment; "We Will Never Run Out of Oil". Other highlights of the article:

"When will the world's supply of oil be exhausted?" the MIT economist Morris Adelman has written. "The best one-word answer: never."
Fracking is creating "the biggest change in energy in almost 100 years--a revolution."

And following the above article in the magazine is another one: Learning to Live With Fossil Fuels.
And one headline there is:

Unlike abandoning fossil energy, capturing carbon does not demand a radical alteration of national economies, global trade, or personal lifestyles.

Hey, fixing global warming and climate change is gonna be easy. And we can do it and keep business as usual.

Ron P.

We recently learned that just because you are a Harvard economist doesn't necessarily mean you're smart enough to run an accurate spreadsheet. Same seems to apply to being an MIT economist. It is true that we will never run out of oil but that fact in itself is meaningless with respect to running what we call civilization.

Well . . . technically the statement of "We will never run out of oil" is correct. It is just MASSIVELY misleading. Oil will just eventually become so expensive that it is no longer worth trying to extract the last remaining drops. But the average person won't understand that trick.

Good point speculawyer. They'll probably say things like;

"I don't understand how this happened when their is so much oil under Colorado?"

"Actually that's kerogen and requires more energy to convert for oil usage than is economically viable."

"That's not what I heard Mr. Science. I heard the Obama Admin. barred use of that source because he's a muslim and wanted the US to go bankrupt."

"Regardless of the bad information you've received via AM talk radio, it might not be a bad thing we wean ourselves off of carbon sources because of climate change which is beginning to accelerate."

"Oh no, not that phoney baloney climate change stuff in which we the people get blamed for natural fluctuations!"

"Ok, I'm out of here. It's been real folks."

That $10,000/bbl oil will be handy for synthesizing into lubricants.

It is why I asked the 'how did you come up with the $2 a liter' figure in a past drumbeat.

Because I was hoping to get to the idea that at $2L price that was a replacement cost of rock oil with plant oil.

At some point rock or plant oil will hit a crossing point and there will be a conversion of food into work. At that point, how valuable is a 'labor saving device' or something made of refined metal VS say plastic?

Here's what happens when good jobs go away, and don't come back

I think the main thing I’ve been learning is that falling out of the middle class is very different than having been poor all along. If you’ve grown up poor – been in generational poverty, it’s called – you are used to it. Often, people around you are poor and, even if there are not great options, you pretty much know what to do: apply for what used to be known as food stamps, for instance, or go to the local emergency room if you’re sick. But when you’ve always thought of yourself as middle class, and suddenly you’ve tumbled downhill, well, that can be a real stunner. You don’t want your neighbors to know, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. You don’t even want to ask for help, because you never saw yourself as someone who would need it.

...And the cleavage points in town have changed. Some people used to resent the GM’ers, who had such good wages and benefits. Now, some people are angry at schoolteachers for similar reasons; at least one teacher has changed when she goes grocery shopping, because she’d gotten yelled at in the store more than once by people in town who resented her summers off and her pension.

And the cleavage points in town have changed. Some people used to resent the GM’ers, who had such good wages and benefits. Now, some people are angry at schoolteachers for similar reasons; at least one teacher has changed when she goes grocery shopping, because she’d gotten yelled at in the store more than once by people in town who resented her summers off and her pension.

What they mean by "GM'ers" and even the school teachers in that paragraph is really a reference to unions which corporatists have sought to destroy as a long-term strategy. Since the most obvious target, the GM UAW workers were destroyed there, they moved onto the secondary target of teachers.

Promotion of distrust and infighting to keep the attention away from the politicians and corporations that have sold the communities, counties, states, and country out to the 1% through policies of outsourcing, "free trade," and cutting of safety nets which create desperation and feed the fires of infighting and resentment.

Noticed this little gem in the comments:

When I drop my kids off to school in the mornings I see what appears to be a number of Latin Americans walking to work. Some ride mountain bikes. I know they are doing that. A car is a big expense, and they understand that they must pay cash, and not waste money so they have a better future.

Good news at Fukushia, no?


Gov’t: Vegetables from inside Fukushima ‘no-go zone’ now ok to ship to stores — Farms preparing crops


Ahmad Hassanein, head of the nuclear engineering department at Purdue University, told us. “The reactor was 40 years old and it stood up well.

So the pro-nuke types call when rods melt in the reactors and release radiation 'standing up well'?


TV: Clay sheet used for Fukushima nuclear waste leaked after just 8 days — Tepco: “Designed to prevent leakage completely'


There was a melt-down and a melt-through of the nuclear reactor vessels, but that wouldn’t be enough unless the containment failed too […] Now we are seeing heavy isotopes like plutonium out at 20 to 30 kilometers […] All these are signs of gross containment failure.

Apropos of peak fossil fuels and Frac Daddy the horse there are plans to mine coal next to and under valuable thoroughbred farms in New South Wales
Problems include noise, dust, subsidence, heavy truck traffic and perhaps groundwater contamination or diversion.

If the world has so much easily mined coal why do they need to dig prime farmland? The relentless expansion of the coal industry seems more than slightly weird when politicians assure us they will slash greenhouse gas emissions. The coal industry should be shrinking not expanding. The evidence keeps mounting that coal is a nasty business but as cheap energy addicts we just let it continue unabated.

One reason is the internet----it needs a lot of servers and a lot of PCs or other devices and therefore a lot of electricity. YouTube is the #1 distributor of music now.

We are on the internet now. We're burning coal therefore.

The internet has taken over a lot of life---businesses are run on it, governments couldn't function w/out it, it supplies a huge amount of information and entertainment.


Google has done a lot to reduce the power requirements in its data centers and has been installing PV in places as well.

Apple, despite its use of Chinese suicide factories, has been making a big push to power its centers and headquarters with PV and wind.


The data center in Maiden, North Carolina, which supports Internet storage and Apple's service-hosting iCloud product, produces 167 million kilowatts -- the power equivalent of 17,600 homes for one year -- from a 100-acre solar farm and fuel cell installations provided by Silicon Valley startup Bloom Energy.

They are the largest, non-utility power-generating facilities of their kind in the United States, Oppenheimer told Reuters.
Overall, Apple said it has increased the proportion of renewable energy used throughout the company to 75 percent. Eventually, the company aims to use only renewable energy at all its facilities around the world.


That link has a new video clip of Arctic ice volume loss (not to be confused with ice extent) since 1979, animating two side by side cubes of ice. The one on the left represents the amount of ice volume in 1979 and the one on the right changes sizes as the years past to 2012, making it is easy to compare the two and see the 80% loss over that time period.

"When will people start to understand peak oil?" Rational, inquisitive folks, as on this site, tend to be optimistic, IMHO. Humanity is essentially irrational and unaware of the very long term, large scale possibilities. To those who know me, I probably sound like a broken record (or a looped mp3!), but I have to say that even the very well educated people I encounter reveal little concern. I spend my days on one of the largest university campuses on the planet and have almost never heard a discussion of "peak oil" (resource depletion, population growth, etc.) that I didn't start. Graduate students and professors mention it in passing, but such topics seem like wisps of wind... They tend to dissipate rapidly. More commonly, I hear about "hydro-fracking" as the "big game changer" and what with "unconventional" fossil resources being ramped up, no need to worry! Long term energy technologies are subject to detailed speculation, but the larger frame of view does not seem to include the relationship between population and resources or any rational sense of what "sustainable" means. At least the topic of "climate change" seems to have lost some of the forbidden aura that surrounded it for so long, but I still don't hear any serious discussion. So, that is the bright side, that there appears to be a growing fraction of the populace, aware of fundamental problems, but they are avoiding the discussion. :-P

No Doubt, but..

It makes me consider how many times you have felt you SHOULDN'T try to start another resource depletion conversation because the 'atmosphere' wasn't right for it.. not to fault YOU for that, but in order to consider how many of those others around you might also be thinking it, and maybe silently wondering WHERE could they find such a conversation?

I grew up on a prep school campus, and it was a very stimulating environment.. but it was also a little world under the sway of the wealth that makes such schools possible. So now I look at it and wonder about the conversations that DIDN'T happen, the subjects that would quickly be seen as a fart at the cocktail party... and it's not just in the Upper Middle Class, of course, where these subtle (perhaps) but insidious and well-saturated rules apply, and everybody knows to keep that stuff to themselves...

.. but you're not the only one out there thinking it.

When the following is being considered as a "solution" to the problem of school massacres-

Considering bulletproof uniforms: 'It's no different than a seatbelt in a car'
As gun control legislation grinds to halt in Washington, parents and teachers are taking matters into their own hands

-is it any wonder that there is virtually no discussion of such abstract but existential threats as Climate Change/Chaos and resource depletion?

"Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired..." Swift


All I can come up with as a response to this idiocy is a long string of expletives!

So what are these geniuses going to do when the next wacko attacks a school or shopping mall with canisters of nerve gas? Oh, I know the bulletproof uniforms are going to come with helmets and gas masks attached.
And don't forget to make them fireproof and bomb proof as well!

Let's not have an adult discussion about making our society safer and more humane for all of us...

Let's not have an adult discussion about making our society safer and more humane for all of us

This week there was an executive order saying at any time guns/ammo can be stopped from importation.

Yet the US of A does a brisk business selling guns/ammo to other nations along with the actual export of violence to other nation-states.

I got a question maybe ya'll can help me with. It has rained like the dickens here in Central Texas. It feels like we are living Portland this April. And I saw this Lake Travis dream home that had been for sale a couple of years back on the market, except the price was about $500,000 cheaper. And at the same time, there are very few waterfront houses for sale on Lake Austin. The later is a constant level lake. So a dream home on Lake Travis is discounted but everything on Lake Austin, within reason, is selling.

So I had thought with all this rain that Lake Travis would be beginning to fill back up and maybe a little bit of those "Sometimes Islands" would be showing.

And heck no. That lake is still as far down as it was in August of 2011, the same time that central Texas caught on fire. I watched a youtube video from the LCRA that was called Lake Travis Flyover March 15,2013, and that lake looks like a disaster zone. Those Sometimes Islands now have a land bridge you can walk over to them from the shore. They take up at least 1/3 of the main body of the lake, literally cutting it into two separate sections. They Cypress Arm and the Sandy Creek arms of the Lake are bone dry. Those floating docks are on dry land, some have boats in them and it looks like some tsunami pushed them up from the coast into the middle of Texas desert.

I was stunned. It looked like you were watching some flyover after a tornado or something. There is a billion dollars of real estate out there that is there only because of that lake and now is almost worthless. It is now some ridiculous exburb that is too far away from town for any reason to live there, especially the north or west shore. Seems like a bunch of floating marinas have expanded so that people that used to park their boat out in back now go to these marinas and those marinas choke down traffic in a lake that is already too narrow. And it is even worse as you head up from the Arkansas bend up towards the Perdanales River.

So I search for the "Future of Lake Travis" and there is a particularly angry site. The guy claims:

"The current drought did not lower Lakes Travis and Buchanan to their current levels. LCRA poor management practices and Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) inability to act knowledgeably lowered our lakes in 2011! The drought merely magnified their failings. Now we need to do something about the way water is handled in Texas!"

He claims that groundwater is being pumped at such as rate that the streams and creeks that it used to percolate out via springs have all stopped running. And that pumping now causes rainwater to drain back into the groundwater. The growth of Travis country and surrounding areas is taxing that lake too much. And it is all due to water practices and mismanagement.

So is this warning shot for Texas? Will that Lake ever fill back up again. Or will it drain even further? And is every other lake in about the same status?

Has Texas reached Peak Water long long long before Peak Oil?

And can anything be done? Will better regulation of the groundwater to keep big ag enterprises from pumping the dickens out of it rectify these issues?

Is central Texas gonna run out of water soon? Does anybody know anything specific about the LCRA and the water situation here?

I mean Buchanan and Travis are at 40% of capacity right now. And I think Travis is worse off. Buchanan is 21 feet down and Travis is 50 feet down. There are environmental requirements downstream in the River and in Matagorda bay that dictate a certain amount of release in the spring.

Does this area, Travis, Burnett, and Williamson counties, need to stop growing NOW? This town is like it is because of those lakes. It would have been Waco without them. Man I am sure I lived and grew up during the best time to be alive in Texas if those lakes are gone.

Is this it? No more Lake Travis? Is it now Ditch Travis? Travis Gulch? Are we all about to be living in the Texas Desert? One big American desert that starts in Bastrop and goes to Los Angeles?

Yes, it is sad. Recently I was servicing a radio system near Lake Travis and observed that what was once mesquite tree and cactus covered hill country has been almost completely obliterated by high density condominiums and cheaply built mansions. The little coves where I went scuba diving forty years ago no longer contain water, but consist of barren rock, all the way to the lake bed. What remains of the lake are mere puddles amidst piles of stone rubble. Even if the essential cause of the central Texas water shortage is lack of precipitation, perhaps exacerbated by increased variability due to climate warming, the essential problem is not management, but demand... It's the big emotional blind spot for humanity called "Over-population". Folks who have a broader sense of economics that includes "natural services", tend not to be surprised but rather chronically disappointed that the level of awareness and appropriate responses remain absent. :-P

I can't answer the questions about the future, but a WAG at this point is that for at least the near term we'll continue to see these periods of drought and floods. If you recall, just before the drought there were pretty epic floods and now the midwest is once again having big floods immediately after epic drought.

What I can with more certainty comment on is that due to the duration of drought that Texas has experienced they've gone into what would be termed hydrological drought. Which takes a while to build up to and involves soil moisture and ground recharge issues. Streams and rivers don't stop flowing when it stops raining because they're being fed through slow recharge along the river banks (seepage) and not just through springs. Springs themselves are fed through water which has infiltrated the soil and worked its way to a point where it can freely flow back out. All of this takes time and a certain amount of saturation.

Once you've worked through the buffer and dried the soil out enough it'll take a good long while to recharge since you need to first re-hydrate a very large amount of soil and then give it time to start flowing again. Any other water you've taken out during that time will also have to be replaced as it will have caused a...kind of dip in the water table to which everything else will flow towards, which can include water from rivers or streams.

One of the more interesting cases of this is Las Vegas. People tend to skip over the name and not realize that "Las Vegas" - a derivative of verde meaning green - was named because of areas of lush vegetation growing around springs in the area. Long story short, people moved in and sunk wells in the area, drew the water table down, springs disappeared and so did the "vegas" from which it was named.

To compound the problem and damage the ability to recharge you have - impermeable surfaces. Roads, parking lots, and the vast majority of driveways and houses tend to be the main culprit here. So, returning to the midwest - all of the water that could be going towards recharging the soil moisture and subsurface water table is instead flowing directly into the streams and down into the river in rapid fashion helping to cause the flooding.

P.S. If you're interested also look up "salt water intrusion" in coastal environments - usually good pictures to go along with the concept and you can mentally substitute streams/lakes for the ocean (but without the salt) for a good idea of how water draw from wells on land might cause drops in water level in streams and lakes through infiltration back through the banks.

"Hydrological drought". Interesting...
It has occurred to me that in past times, before cheap fossil fuels were used pump water and process it, the situation would be quite grave. Ah, but a century ago or further back, our relationship with nature was at least different in that the world was not so saturated. Personally, I am of the mind that our main problem is that our economies and our civilization is too big in relation to resources and natural systems. All kinds of short sighted behaviors, pollution and mistreatment of natural systems could take place without any prospect of long term catastrophe if the human population were say, well under a billion? At least many systems would have time to recover. Of course finite resources would all be depleted at some point, but the "velocity of civilization" seems too fast at this stage.
Yes, in Austin there is a history of great concern for impermeable roads and parking lots preventing the aquifer from recharging, and also regarding non-point source pollution getting in. Unfortunately, the vast majority are not concerned with and do not understand their connectedness with "natural services". As is typical for people most everywhere, local businesses and residents are fixated on the very short term and what measures have been taken to protect our water resources have been eroding with time.