Drumbeat: April 27, 2013

In Montana, ranchers line up against coal

The McRaes and some of their neighbors say the Tongue River Railroad, and a proposed coal mine at Otter Creek, puts southeast Montana and ranchers like them at risk for an energy plan that mainly benefits Asia.

"It's going to cross our land, wreak havoc with our water, go through our towns," Clint McRae said recently, sitting in the rustic wood house his father built, its hearth hewn from local stone.

The Montana ranchers are in the minority. For many others, coal has been one of the few good things to come out of a region so barren it sent many early homesteaders fleeing to greener lands farther west.

Land-locked Alberta mulls oil pipeline to Arctic port

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's oil-producing province of Alberta, trying to deal with a lack of pipeline capacity to the Pacific Coast and the United States, is mulling the idea of building a line north to an Arctic port, the province's energy minister said on Friday.

Ken Hughes said he has been talking to the government of Canada's Northwest Territories, which lie directly north of Alberta, about a pipeline to a port such as Inuvik or Tuktoyaktuk on the Beaufort Sea, a section of the Arctic Ocean.

US congressmen favour export of natural gas to India

Washington: Top American lawmakers have strongly favoured export of US natural gas to India, in the absence of which, they said, the energy starved nation might be forced to join the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.

During a Congressional hearing on export of US natural gas, the lawmakers argued that it is in the national security interest of the US to export the excess natural gas to its allies like India and Japan and also to its European allies to reduce their dependence on Russian gas.

Crude Trims Biggest Weekly Gain Since June on U.S. Growth

West Texas Intermediate crude fell, trimming the biggest weekly increase since June, as the U.S. economy grew less than expected in the first quarter.

Futures dropped 0.7 percent after the Commerce Department said gross domestic product rose at a 2.5 percent annual rate. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a gain of 3 percent. Oil jumped 5 percent in the past two days on lower-than-expected U.S. jobless claims and a decrease in gasoline stockpiles.

Permits for oil, gas wells surge, report says

The Railroad Commission of Texas on Friday reported that 2,053 drilling permits were issued in March, up 309 from 1,744 the previous month.

U.S. Gas Rigs Drop First Time in Three Weeks, Baker Hughes Says

The number of gas rigs in the U.S. fell for the first time in three weeks, declining by 13 to 366, according to Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI)

Oil rigs increased by 10 to 1,381, data posted on Baker Hughes’ website show. Total energy rigs slipped by four to 1,754, the Houston-based field-services company said.

Do Oil Companies Pay Enough in Taxes? Or Too Much?

In the most recent budget proposal from the Obama administration, there are several mentions about increasing revenue from oil and gas companies to fund efforts in the Department of Energy to spur clean-energy initiatives. The oil and gas industry is vehemently opposed to the idea, claiming that the government is using the industry as a piggy bank for its new energy endeavors. At the same time, many advocates claim that major oil companies don't pay their fair share of income taxes.

Can both sides be right? In a way, yes. Let's look at both sides of the argument and see how the case can be made for both.

Union Fenosa takes Egypt's Egas to arbitration over fuel supply

A liquefied natural gas plant majority owned by Spain's Gas Natural SA (GAS.MC) and Italy's Eni SpA (E) has taken Egyptian state-controlled Egas to arbitration over failing to comply with a supply contract, a person familiar with the matter at Egas said.

The Damietta LNG plant, 80% owned by Union Fenosa Gas, a joint venture between Gas Natural and Eni, complained to the International Chamber of Commerce's arbitration court in Paris that it has been inactive since December after Egas halted gas supplies and kept the gas to meet soaring domestic needs, the person told Dow Jones Newswires.

Total oil find good for Ivory Coast - Ghana’s Energy Minister

Ghana’s Energy Minister Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah has lauded the oil find in Ivory Coast.

France’s Total this week announced it has struck oil on a block off Ivory Coast adjacent to Ghana’s giant Jubilee Field.

Petrobras Quarterly Profit Beats Estimates on Price Gains

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the world’s sixth-largest oil company by market value, said first-quarter profit fell 17 percent, less than analysts expected after it increased fuel production and curbed imports.

New Alberta bill could force oil companies to pay for environmental monitoring

Alberta is giving itself more power to strengthen environmental monitoring in the oil sands, tabling a new law that would force energy companies to comply and pick up the tab.

Empty nets in Louisiana three years after the spill

About two-thirds of U.S. oysters come from the Gulf Coast, the source of about 40% of America's seafood catch. But in the three years since the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon blew up and sank about 80 miles south of here, fishermen say many of the oyster reefs are still barren, and some other commercial species are harder to find.

"My fellow fishermen who fish crab and who fish fish, they're feeling the same thing," Barisich said. "You get a spike in production every now and then, but overall, it's off. Everybody's down. Everywhere there was dispersed oil and heavily oiled, the production is down."

Tesla offers idiot-proof battery warranty

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) Tesla Motors is offering a new "no fault" warranty on the batteries in its Model S sedans in a bid to entice more buyers to try its all-electric luxury car.

The battery is covered even if an owner fails to follow charging guidelines laid out in the owners' manual. "Any product that needs a manual to work is broken," Musk said.

Inside Nissan's $300 million battery factory

FORTUNE -- Modern auto factories hardly resemble their noisy, dirty, chaotic forebears of the previous century. Nissan Motor Co.'s new lithium-ion battery plant in Smyrna, Tenn. goes one step further with an atmosphere reminiscent of a laboratory.

The $300 million factory, which operates with 100 workers --many clad in white smocks, toiling away amid robotized machines in clean rooms -- manufactures battery packs for the electric Nissan Leaf. The Leaf's initial slow sales are perking up, thanks to steep discounting announced by Nissan in January.

Oil sands country: Remote region at the heart of the Keystone controversy

While the possible construction of the Keystone XL pipeline has made for contentious disagreements from the halls of Congress to ranches in Nebraska, the real environmental debate begins in a place most Americans have never heard of.

Nearly 700 miles north of the U.S.-Canada border sits Fort McMurray, Alberta, the unofficial capital of oil sands country, and the heart of the Keystone controversy.

Kepco mulls Takahama plant restart

OSAKA – Kansai Electric Power Co. could apply for government permission in July to restart reactors 3 and 4 at its Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, sources said Saturday.

Groundwater at No. 1 plant tainted

Samples of groundwater taken from monitoring holes around the sunken reservoirs at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are proving radioactive, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday.

Strontium and other radioactive elements were detected in samples taken from 13 of the 22 observation holes dug around the reservoirs, which were built to hold water tainted during the cooling of the reactors, Tepco said.

Germany's clean energy drive fails to curb dirty brown coal

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's green energy drive is proving surprisingly good for dirty brown coal as utilities squeezed by rival renewables and low wholesale gas prices use more of it.

Cost effective clean energy can meet Nepal's power needs, curb emissions: Report

A study carried out by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has shown that Nepal's ability to meet its future power needs and to curb a rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions will hinge on the rollout of clean energy technologies which are highly cost-effective in the long run.

Presenting the report "The Economics of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in South Asia" at a seminar held at ADB's Resident Mission in Nepal on Friday, Mahfuz Ahmed, Principal Climate Change Specialist with ADB’s South Asia Department, said replacing 50% of all kerosene lamps with solar powered lighting, for example, would result in a substantial reduction in emissions for relatively low cost.

How the National Football League became a champion of sustainability

America's National Football League might be an unusual place to find some of the biggest advocates of green business and sustainability in the United States. But some NFL teams have now started to engage in a competition off the field to become as green as the turf they play on.

Hope for US-China collaboration on climate change, clean energy

A few weeks ago, Secretary of State John Kerry went to Beijing to meet with the leadership of the Chinese government. This meeting was mostly noted in the press as an effort to defuse tensions in the ongoing crisis over North Korea – and clearly that was important; there has been a notable ratcheting down of tensions since then.

However, over the long term, there was an agreement that came out of the meeting that could be much more important to the world’s future stability and security – a joint U.S. – China Statement on Climate Change. It was so overlooked in the press, that I missed it for the last two weeks. The statement indicated that the U.S. and China recognize the “dangers presented by climate change” and that a “more focused and urgent initiative” is needed.

Delaware: Sea level rise panel won't recommend 'future flood' disclosure

A state advisory panel on sea level rise on Friday backed away from a proposal to require sellers to disclose a home’s vulnerability to future flooding.

Instead, they informally agreed to focus on education and steps that will make it easier for buyers to find out if a property is at risk of flooding or storm surge induced by sea level rise.

Semester after semester we are graduating millions of deeply indebted and embittered college graduates, with job skills that very poorly equip them for the realities of today's economy, basically sacrificing millions of young people every year on the alter of Political Correctness.

WSJ: The Diploma's Vanishing Value
Bachelor's degrees may not be worth it, but community college can bring a strong return
(For full article, do a Google Search for: The Diploma's Vanishing Value)

With unemployment among college graduates at historic highs and outstanding student-loan debt at $1 trillion, the question families should be asking is whether it's worth borrowing tens of thousands of dollars for a degree from Podunk U. if it's just a ticket to a barista's job at Starbucks. When it comes to calculating the return on your investment, where you go to school does matter to your bank account later in life. Not surprisingly, research has found that a degree from a name-brand elite college, whether it's Harvard, Stanford or Amherst, carries a premium for earnings. But the 50 wealthiest and most selective colleges and universities in the U.S. enroll less than 4% of students. For everyone else, the statistics show that choosing just any college, at any cost for a credential, may no longer be worth it . . .

Think a community-college degree is worth less than a credential from a four-year college? In Tennessee, the average first-year salaries of graduates with a two-year degree are $1,000 higher than those with a bachelor's degree. Technical degree holders from the state's community colleges often earn more their first year out than those who studied the same field at a four-year university.

Take graduates in health professions from Dyersburg State Community College. They not only finish two years earlier than their counterparts at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, but they also earn $5,300 more, on average, in their first year after graduation. In Virginia, graduates with technical degrees from community colleges make $20,000 more in the first year after college than do graduates in several fields who get bachelor's degrees. Yet high-school seniors are regularly told that community colleges are for students who can't hack it on a four-year campus.

Following is an excerpt from my April, 2007 essay on “The ELP Plan.”
(For full article, search for: ELP Plan)

The biggest risk to family finances is trying to maintain the SUV, suburban mortgage way of life in a period of contracting energy supplies. Beyond that, one of the next biggest risks in my opinion, is excessive and unwise spending–especially debt financed spending–on college education costs.

While we will desperately need engineers and many other technically qualified graduates, we are seeing wave upon wave of college graduates entering the work force with degrees that very poorly prepare them for work in a post-Peak Oil environment. We may ultimately see college graduates competing with illegal immigrants for agricultural jobs.

I have long thought that one of the few ways that Peak Oilers might actually have a positive impact is to join forces with people who, while they might not agree with us regarding an outlook for constrained oil supplies, may support reinvigorated vocational and agricultural training programs.

Around 2006 I become peak oil aware, I cut down on everything, and was making plans to run up north. I got out of debt, held off on getting an advanced degree, drove a used car (that I still drive), live in a rent controlled bungalow and waited for the collapse or at least for unemployment. 7 years later I am still employed, running on a month to month budget and helping my family when I can. I avoided making large mistakes and still have plans on how to move on from a cubicle 8-5.

Thanks everyone. This site keeps my head very clear.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "policial correctness", but there is definitely still very strong social pressure to get a college degree, particularly for the middle class and above. I think it has more to do with what is acceptable in middle class circles - white collar work and managerial work is prestigious, while any work done with the hands is seen as less prestigious. At one time, the prestige gap matched a pay gap and safety gap, but now blue collar work and technical work often pays better than white collar work, and the safety gap has shrunk tremendously (you can still get hurt, but aside from extreme professions like king crab fisherman, you probably won't die young). Managerial work is still better paid, but in the modern economy it is much harder to "climb the ladder".

In a previous life, I hired new engineers and technicians for an engineering R&D outfit. It was easy to get good engineers, simply by calling department heads and asking for names of good ones. It was far harder to find a good tech. Except for the summer interns we got from germany, who were excellent. They could weld, do machining, knew basic materials, etc, and had a feel for the machines they worked on. They often made their widgets work when the engineers were lost in the fog of their simulation software.

The good techs I did get locally I found by the simplest of tests- what did they like to do in their spare time, and what had they actually done. Not much correlation with where they had gone to school.

Theoretical knowledge is usually good then i come to understand how thing although usually ver time consuming to get. Then I went to university they preferred computer simulations instead of real things and this is however very frustationg.

Then you should start to work the machines are usually rather easy to understand but you are however not familiar with the machines and the sad thing is they are usually operated by people with only a high scheool degree. They are very familiar with the machines but lack theoretical knowledge.

All of my really good innovations came from playing with the actual hardware, not from the analysis. And thought experiments, which only worked when I could visualize the hardware accurately after playing around with bits of it.


"the safety gap has shrunk tremendously"

Honestly in much of the USA, people get hurt skiing, playing softball, running, basically 'rich people injuries'. Getting hurt at work is so passe'. I don't even know anyone who has ever been hurt at work, but I can name dozens of running, biking, surfing, hiking, etc injured persons...

Maybe in Bangladesh, not so much in California...

Exactly my point. How many died building the Hoover dam? What did factories look like in 1950? In the past, blue collar work was much more dirty and dangerous than sitting at a desk. It's still somewhat more dangerous (aside from the fishermen I mentioned, roofers have a high risk of injury), but it's come down to the level where it compares favorably to the sports you mentioned for the most part. I do know a few people who have been hurt doing blue collar work (a friend was an A/C installer for a while, it messed up his knees and back), but it's not like it was before OSHA.

So, in 1960, telling your kids to get a bachelor's instead of a tech degree or similar made sense (I suspect there were fewer AA/AS degrees anyways because you could get jobs out of high school and shop classes were still common), and if they got a BA they were very likely to get a good, safe job very easily... But now, telling your kids to get a BA is not neccessarily a good idea (high debt, not nearly as surefire a way into the middle class), and keeping them away from trades makes no sense.

Workplace risks

Farming is one of the most hazardous occupations, but this is not widely appreciated.

Every year we receive the annual report from the Farm Safety folks and although things keep improving, more farmers die each year than police officers and firefighters combined. If not for Afghanistan, I think we could include Cdn soldiers as well, then most years farmers would surpass all three groups combined.

The most common cause of farm deaths is still tractor roll-over, but this has been reduced since most new tractors have roll-over protection. I believe that around one-fourth of farm deaths are children.

My wife is one of 13 farm kids raised during the 50s & 60s. Other than one of her older brothers (who lost most of his hand in a corn-picker but was lucky that he was not fed into the machine entirely), they all survived intact.

Really bad back injury 11 mos. ago. Doing masonry repair on a chimney. Fell 11 feet onto deck edge. Could've paralyzed me. But just some badly damaged ligaments around the SI joint. Don't know if a fellow TODer counts as 'knowing'... Per the discussion above - my BA & MS in Env/Nat Resources (Lib Arts perspective) economically useless, but helped open my eyes to the things we talk about here daily.

Sorry to hear about your injury...it makes me wince just to hear it.. I got a business degree and it was when I was sitting in an economics class that I saw the inherent flaw in the system....I am now a journeyman electrician and soon to be a master electrician. I am not saying you need to go to school to learn but if I had just been an electrician I would have always been looking at the grass on the other side...I also lived in Europe for 4 and half years....you don't have to live like an American in America.

Thanks. Pretty much OK now. And yes, not living like Americans is what we are doing. Perfectly comfortable on income of about $15k/yr for the two of us. I think experiencing life in other countries (not merely travelling as a tourist) is one of the best educations one can receive. Even my limited exposure to life in the UK for a few months showed me how everything doesn't have to be as big as possible to work perfectly well. Of course that was in the 80's, before the UK went fully in for American style suburban life with mondo SUVs and fast food places on every corner. I missed the ubiquitous chip shops on my last visit in '96. Amazing how much changed in little more than a decade...

My Associates of Science gave me the best economic EROEI. US$50/semester for 4 semesters (back in the late 80s early 90s), then was a college graduate.

With it I was employable at the bottom of professional work, and could pay rent, car payments, and work on a BSCS.

I tell my kids "help me help you" by seriously considering a local accredited (public) 2yr community college, and then either go out into the world with an AS/AA, or xfer to a 4yr school for a BA/BS. It is likely to save them/me/us thousands of dollars.

My daughter....6 years University is now teaching music in the school system starting at approx 55,0000 per year. She still owes $15,000 on student loans not counting years of bank-of-Dad free lending practices. My son, industrial electrician clears....clears after taxes, $9,000 per month and has more time off than his teaching sister. He has no training or education debts. No brainer. He took a 10 month pre-apprenticeship course taught by a good family friend, did his commercial work in Calgary, and migrated north as a 4th year. He is now 29 and is one of my neighbours when he isn't working. He works out of an office and is 'off the tools' for the most part.

I am very thankful they are gainfully employed when compared to young people elsewhere. (Spain?) University? Waste of time and money imho unless you need specific certifications. I found university to be quite easy but very time consuming and expensive. I worked much harder at BCIT and am now working very hard obtaining my welding certification. I have so much respect for welders after starting this course. If you want to be humbled, sign up for welding training!! My nephew is now starting the same course in his last year of high school and will have his C ticket by 18. Another no brainer. In BC you can do trades training in high school if you get your ducks in a row and work hard.

When I still worked at teaching high school I put on free seminars on trades training in a world of peak oil and resource constraints. (I am a red seal carpenter and TOD regular.) Some parents were very angry at my voicing this paradigm as it countered their influence on their children's future. I laid out the facts, used data, and told kids to live their own life, get some practical training, and then...only then get a degree if they really wanted to and thought it was worthwhile and fit with their career aspirations.

I haven't decided if I will continue doing the seminars. For the most part, studious kids pretty much follow what their parents say and if that is university then who am I to say otherwise? Maybe they should figure it out for themselves. We did.


Back in the day... Perhaps it was the folks who figured things out who commanded the big salaries. And the folks who actually did things were paid enough.

Then more recently, without cheap energy, perhaps there is less to effectively figure out? The people who can actually do things command the big bucks.

In the near future.... Neither the folks who have the ability to figure things out, nor the folks who can actually do things, will earn much.

I went to university with no idea what I wanted. I started a BSc, failed, switched to Civil Engineering, failed second year, and started work as a draughtsman, getting a diploma part-time from technical college.

I went overseas for two years, working as a contract draughtsman to build up cash, travelling, back to work, travelling, etc etc.

Back home I worked as a draughtsman for the city council. One month there was a problem and our salaries weren't paid into our accounts. We had to go to the pay point and be paid out in cash along with the labourers, street sweepers etc.

The way it worked was there was a long table. The paymasters sat behind it and called your name. You stood in front of them and they counted out the cash in front of you and you signed for it. Meanwhile everyone else stood around and could see how much money you were being paid.

First the workers came and got their small pittance. Next were us draughtsmen. We got a bit more than the workers. Then came the engineers. We couldn't believe how much money they were being paid. Gasps broke out as the piles of money grew higher. Workers started whistling and commenting, while the engineers blushed very red.

I knew from talking to them I was just as smart as the engineers. The only thing between me and the big bucks was a degree. The next year I went back to university, studied my backside off, and finally graduated as an engineer at the age of 29.

I do appreciate it that word like this is getting out now, so maybe people can make better decisions for themselves.

Still, these articles don't go far enough. It isn't hard to figure out: the student loans will never be paid back, and colleges are going to go bust, having wasted all of their debt money on sports, administration, and meaningless new buildings and developments.

So it's not so much a question as whether a college degree is worth it or not. There aren't going to be colleges, and the colleges remaining are going to be very competitive! So we're going back to a world where college is going to be rarer, and high schools and technical schools are simply going to have to train people for real work in the world.

The whole idea of "everyone needs a college degree" is just another American scam.

In the US those student debts are backed by the government. Not backed meaning the government will pay in case of default, but backed in the sense that the government can coerce payment under pretty onerous terms. Another one of those pro-1% things that slipped in under the radar a few years back. So college entrepreneurs are free to use there school as a get rich quick factory for the owners. Now repeat after me, "isn't America wonderful".

In US colleges these days, the 'return' on educating people is....?? Maybe just backlash by Republican/Teabaggers for teaching critical thinking.

Meanwhile, the return on big-time sports? Millions and millions and millions of dollars in TV contracts. Do the math.

It's a reflection on society. Rail against it as you wish.

Shortcomings of public universities aside, new buildings are often constructed with one-time private donations (hence, say, a Paul Allen computer science building, or *Gates having a building or wing or two here and there) unrelated to other (declining) revenue sources. Washington State outlawed raises except in exceptional circumstances something like five years ago, with corresponding declines in staffing, except for departments who have other revenue streams available (e.g. the transportation office raking in parking fees). New revenue streams are being explored, such as Professional Masters Programs, or especially for engineering bringing in better educated students from India or China, who likely do not pay in-state tuition rates.

Actual data:

Bio that is a very simple graph to look at and it is great for say 30 years ago but how many of these people can we churn out and still provide work for them in their respective fields. Technology is going to wipe out a lot of those upper end jobs....you have tons of people going to college for degrees every time there is an economic downturn but it is just BAU....for these people. Look up being a pharmacist in Greece...not so pretty is it---imagine that with $60,000 in student loans----Oh yeah I forget that will never happen here, we are the USA...nothing bad happens here-----where are my soma pills----

What is the graph look like for recent graduates? Say for graduates from the last 5 years.

How about graduates 5 years from now?

Prediction is always hard. Especially about the future.

What is the graph look like for recent graduates?

Broadly similar.


Neven's Arctic blog has a great, new video link just put on there yesterday. It is an animated clip of two side by side blocks of ice, with 1979 on the left and as it changes over the intervening years thru 2012 on the right. It is an easy visual to understand the 80% ice volume loss, not to be confused with ice extent.

Definitely worth watching. Andy Lee Robinson has a knack for conveying data visually!

Ok, but the scientist in me would like to see the data series back to, say, 1500 to see if there were other times when the ice volume was as low before the industrial revolution.

<./devil's advocate>

From the article you linked:

Clearly there are periods in the reconstruction where rapid rates of ice loss occurred, but what stands out is that the length and rate of present day melt is unprecedented in the entire 1,450 year-long reconstruction.

Yes, the rate of melt, as in 80% ice volume loss from 1979 thru 2012, which can be verified by dividing the smaller amount of 2012's ice block in the video to the amount shown for the ice block of 1979. 80% loss in that short a period of time should be sounding alarm bells worldwide and some are bright enough to understand a trend that dramatic is probably be the leading edge of runaway GW. However, here in spite of that information we're going after non-conventional sources of FF, to burn yet more, releasing ever greater amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

Every single day, a trainload of coal a 115 miles long and getting longer, oil equivalent to 45 super tankers (2 mb each), and I don't know how much NG.

Not really much to do with energy but this case has been discussed here before. I thought those folks interested would like to know there has been an arrest made.

Agents Arrest Mississippi Man in Ricin Case

The man, J. Everett Dutschke, was taken into custody at his home in Tupelo shortly before 1 a.m., a spokeswoman for the F.B.I. in Jackson said.

Mr. Dutschke’s arrest came after criminal charges were dropped on Tuesday against another Mississippi man, Paul Kevin Curtis, who said he had been framed by Mr. Dutschke, a longtime personal rival.


Land Locked Alberta posted up top

Same sources for the most part posted yesterday


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.

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.

Been going over Enviromental Imapcts from Alberta via their ftp site.

The biggest jolt to my brain was from the following


and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. CDP is dedicated to the development of approximately 12 billion tonnes of undeveloped coal reserves and resources in western Canada. CDP is currently assessing opportunities to develop its coal reserves by considering projects in conventional power generation, surface coal gasification, in-situ coal gasification and coalbed methane extraction.

Seems like they want to send a huge amount of hydrogen up to Fort MacMurray and the way to do it is to have one of the largest open pit strip mines of a softer coal to be used for first large scale production of coal gasification. This in an area that is mixed agriculture and ranching and not arid. Tolfield AB, pop 2,000 appears totally onboard for this, via their website.

It is one thing to keep using up the easiest low fruit open pit bitumen mines, and throw a few steam assisted beds to keep the flow steady, but I would appreciate others opinions about how adding coal gasification to increase production up around Fort MacMurray fits in.


Wrong Eia for Dodds, it is an older one. Family mine that will be subsumed if the mega project comes to fruition.

More recent info about Sherrit and the plan at


The Dodds-Roundhill project has proposed to produce synthesis gas that can be used for fuel, as a petrochemical feedstock or further processed into high purity hydrogen that could be used by bitumen upgraders in Alberta.

However, North American natural gas prices have been depressed by a glut of supply as advanced drilling techniques have unlocked huge volumes from shale formations across the continent.

The original Dodd's Coal Mine is now an 18-hole golf course, Coal Creek Golf Resort. See their Web site coalcreekgolfresort dot com for a gallery of pictures of them turning the old strip mine into a golf course.

This is much the same sort of thing that will happen to the oil sands once the mining is done, but of course it will be on a much, much larger scale and have free-roaming buffalo. I've seen the plans. It will look really nice when they're done.

This ain't mountaintop removal in West Virginia, but people don't seem to believe it can be done.

Actually I was pleasantly surprised when looking at the 1999 EIA for the Luscar-Gregg River open coal mine. They moved over just a little from the played out section to keep their infrastructure utilized and employees on and while mining the new section they were getting the mined out section ready for reclamation. It is a higher grade of coal designed for industrial use and not electricity usage. The reclamation is fairly well documentated with studies just coming out this year and the end result is not a gaping wound oozing acids and metals. One could quibble about some of the plant species choices, but they went with some hardy fast acting nitrogen fixation and dandelions whose roots punch down to bring up minerals and aerate. The ungulates seem to approve. It seemed to me to be a decent example of a multi-disciplanary team working on an evolving art-science.

But to see a project, even if vapour-project, that talks about mining 320 sq.km. targetting a softer coal to utilize partially as a hydrogen source for syn-crude just unnerves me. Adding that they wish to do this in an area that has quite a bit of active agriculture - that is coal that I would prefer seeing sit in the ground for a couple more centuries.

I wouldn't worry about this particular project - it's just a pipe dream. It's someone with a huge amount of coal reserves under lease wondering, "How can I sell all this stuff?" since there is no local market. "I know, I'll produce syngas and sell it to the oil sands!"

In reality, the oil sands companies can produce their own syngas, so if they couldn't produce or buy enough natural gas (unlikely given the gas resources available), they would produce their own syngas from their own leases in Northern Alberta. So the idea of bringing it in from Central Alberta is a non-starter.

I grew up in Central Alberta and know how much coal is under the ground (both my grandfathers had their own coal mines on their own homesteads). However, there's no local market for it any more. In the 1950's companies discovered there were oil and gas fields underneath the coal fields, so the coal doesn't matter any more. They sell the gas locally to heat people's houses and sell the oil to the US.

I was just looking at the latest financial report from Teachers this morning (was visiting a friend who is an Ontario teacher). No lack of investment in fossil fuels in that pension plan.

Can't help thinking that once a few Ontario teacher's get a hold of the Carbon Tracker and Grantham carbon bubble report they'll start asking their pension fund some uncomfortable questions. And it is the teachers' pension plan.

Unburnable carbon 2013: Wasted capital and stranded assets

This new research from Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE calls for regulators, governments and investors to re-evaluate energy business models against carbon budgets, to prevent $6trillion carbon bubble in the next decade.

There are huge coal deposits in Central Alberta, but there are huge coal deposits in Northern Alberta nearer the oil sands, so I don't see the point. In fact, I don't see the point of coal gasification at all since there is enough conventional gas and shale gas in the area to keep the oil sands mines supplied. The people of Tofield are probably better off with the golf course, instead.

Just an opinion, Pax...but I have worked many years in the north in my working life. If you think there are environmental concerns regarding the Northern Gateway proposal to ship bitumen out of Kitimat, 'you ain't seen nothin yet' with the prospect of a pipeline north and tanker traffic through the Canadian Arctic. Manitoba maybe, but I doubt that too. Furthermore, any company leaving itself hostage to aboriginal politics is too dumb to stay in business.

I can see the Keystone expansion and perhaps a portion of production heading east, but I am pretty sure the rest is a pipe dream, (pun intended).


Top U.S. climate expert calls Conservatives 'Neanderthal'

Former NASA scientist James Hansen fires back at Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver

By Meagan Fitzpatrick, CBC News Posted: Apr 27, 2013 8:28 AM ET

The former NASA scientist criticized by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver earlier this week for his views on the Keystone XL pipeline is responding by calling the Conservatives a desperate and "Neanderthal" government.

--- snip ---

He also had a blunt assessment of the Conservative government's approach to climate change and action on the environment.

"The current government is a Neanderthal government on this issue, but Canada can actually be a leader," he said. Hansen mentioned British Columbia's carbon tax as a positive step. "I have hopes that Canada will actually be a good example for the United States but the present government is certainly not."

"They're in the hip pocket of the fossil fuel industry, as you can see, but that doesn't mean that the Canadian people are," said Hansen.

The video of CBC's interview with James Hansen.

What's he got against the Neanderthals?
Humans caused this clusterf... we call earth.

Neanderthal brains were bigger in adulthood than modern homo sapiens. Interestingly, they seemed to have gone extinct because of climate change, that is, large fluctuations back and forth between very cold and mildly cold. They just can't get any respect.

I don't think you can conclude that Neanderthals went extinct because of climate change. There are many theories as to why the Neanderthals went extinct and the arrival of the most recent ice age is just one of them. Most in the scientific community that study such things attribute their demise to the arrival of the Cro-Magnons, or modern day humans. And if we could ever really know, I would bet the farm that this was the cause. They were just out competed for territory and resources by the Cro-Magnon... that is us.

Ron P.

Another theory is that the Neanderthals were assimilated into the modern human gene pool. A varient of the competitive exclusion principle. Was interbreeding possible?


Yes, I know that was another theory but not one that I consider very likely. And no anthropologist would take it very seriously either. Cro-Mangon tribes were in competition with other Cro-Magnon tribes for game and territory just like other hunter-gatherer tribes of today, and constant battles is the norm. But the idea that another tribe of a totally different type of people would socially mingle to the point of having sex with each other is extremely unlikely, to put it mildly.

They would be far more likely to try to kill each other, which is probably what really happened. Only those who still believe in the theory of the noble savage propose that Neanderthals disappeared because of interbreeding with Cro-Magnons.

Ron P.

"But the idea that another tribe of a totally different type of people would socially mingle to the point of having sex with each other is extremely unlikely, to put it mildly."

Males having sex with the females is a real reson for fighting.

"But the idea that another tribe of a totally different type of people would socially mingle to the point of having sex with each other is extremely unlikely, to put it mildly."

They would not have to "socially mingle", they would just rape them after defeating their tribe. Which is a common practice in every conflict between all kinds of people all around the world and has been throughout all history.

Yes karlnick and Strummer, I am sure some rape went on but Karlnick that was not the reason for fighting. Our closest surviving relatives, the chimps, have fierce battles and usually fight to the death. The females are usually the ones killed first because most of the males escape into the forest.

Ron P.

You've got to be kidding. Anthropologists now know that we did indeed interbreed with Neanderthals. The only argument is over how much, and when (still undetermined, but genetic studies may eventually reveal the answers).

Homo sapiens males have been known to have sex with everything from sheep to vacuum cleaners. I seriously doubt they'd have a problem with a subspecies like Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.

A lot of those companies that offer personal DNA testing now test for the amount of Neanderthal DNA you have. There's also evidence that we interbred with another species, the Denisovans. We did not even know they existed until genetic analysis revealed them. (This is of less interest to Americans than Neanderthal DNA, because Denisovan DNA survives mostly among Melanesians, but to me it's fascinating. It suggests that human evolution was far messier than we knew. There may be other hominid species/subspecies lurking in our DNA, yet to be discovered.)

Well no, I don't think anthropologists know that, some biologists believe that because of DNA. Cro-Magnons could have captured Neanderthals and took their women as captives. That would account for the DNA. But the point is that would not make the Neanderthals disappear by breeding them out because this method would have killed them out but still allowed some DNA into modern man.

I really think the idea that Neanderthals disappeared because they were bred out of existence quite iffy at best and absurd worst.

My point is that there was likely no social interaction between Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals. That just, very likely, did not happen, even with other Cro-Magnon tribes while they were still hunter-gatherers. It was only after they became farmers that they began to intermingle.

Of course we have the DNA of every hominid species, we all have a common ancestor. So the question would have been is this DNA left over from our common ancestor or from intermingling sometime after the the separation from our common ancestor. They try to tell with genetic drift but is the genetic drift clock that accurate?

There are great differences in opinion from when we had a common ancestor of chimps. I have read estimates of anywhere between 4.5 million years ago and 7.5 million years ago. That is a wide window. Estimating separation via DNA is an uncertain science.

Ron P.

I think you're wrong on anthropologists. Basically, DNA has completely changed the field in the last few years.

Of course we have the DNA of every hominid species, we all have a common ancestor.

That is not what I'm talking about. I mean there's evidence that we interbred repeatedly over the millennia - that human evolution was more of a braid than a ladder.

We don’t know the prurient details of those encounters, although it is possible that someday Reich and other scientists will be able to fill in a few of them. But the work Reich has done already leaves no doubt that interbreeding was a major feature of human evolution. Billions of people carry sizable chunks of DNA from Neanderthals and other archaic human relatives. Some of those genes may play important roles in our health today.

And again, no I am not kidding. You don't seem to realize the uncertainty of the science.

Study casts doubt on human-Neanderthal interbreeding theory Cambridge scientists claim DNA overlap between Neanderthals and modern humans is a remnant of a common ancestor

When scientists discovered a few years ago that modern humans shared swaths of DNA with long-extinct Neanderthals, their best explanation was that at some point the two species must have interbred.

Now a study by scientists at the University of Cambridge has questioned this conclusion, hypothesising instead that the DNA overlap is a remnant of a common ancestor of both Neanderthals and modern humans.

When the genetic sequence of Homo neanderthalensis was published in 2010, one of the headline findings was that most people outside Africa could trace up to 4% of their DNA to Neanderthals. This was widely interpreted as an indication of interbreeding between Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens just as the latter were leaving Africa. The two species would have lived in the same regions around modern-day Europe, until Neanderthals died out about 30,000 years ago.

Read the whole article. Even the champions of the interbreeding theory admit that the DNA could come from a common ancestor. They are just arguing the chances.

Ron P.

Yes, it's a statistical analysis. Genetic analysis generally is.

It's early yet, but I'd say the scientific consensus is on interbreeding, not an odd result of a common ancestor.

There's even a good chance that they'll be able to tell which direction the gene flow was - human males with Neanderthal females, or the other way around. Currently, it's looking like it was Neanderthal males with human females, based on the mitochondrial DNA, but the sample size is small.

Yes, timelines are tricky. Evolution takes a long time. But as you imply, most of the points raised in this Neanderthal thread though are checkable to some degree. Though Neanderthal numbers seem to have been very few we know more about them than about earlier homonids apparently because they buried their dead. They also innovated a distinct stone tool and spear technology and seem to have exhibited some decorative art. Their range in the north during an ice age and their long period of breeding-isolation seems to have kept them distinct from other hominids. They could be an older distinct sub-species than ours in origin.
In some areas they seem to have gone extinct (small scattered bands?) before the arrival of modern man. It appears that in other areas there was overlap - hence interbreeding. All extinctions seem to have happened before the end of the last ice age. Factors affecting probability of extinction still seem mysterious. Breeding success and lineage survival must have been likewise hit and miss for many modern human bands as they spread out.
We stone tool users also appeared across the northern hemisphere before the end of the last ice age but most of our cultural innovations, except perhaps our artwork if that was ever an ‘innovation’, happened well into the Holocene. (The last ice age was not 'one thing' and lowest temperatures and sea level and CO2 occurred late on; for ice age timeline google Hansen & Sato 2011 - the 2012 publication is behind a pay-wall.)
Phil H

It occurs to me that reading estimates - presumably based on DNA evidence- of the possible age of Neanderthals that their evolution as a distinct sub-species could have taken place during not the last Ice Age, but the one before that, and that they survived on the fringes of the arctic during the previous inter-glacial. I just raise the query that some of the DNA homologies in our genome could be from ancestors distant to both the Neanderthals and ourselves?

But the idea that another tribe of a totally different type of people would socially mingle to the point of having sex with each other is extremely unlikely, to put it mildly.


First line in the AIDS-wiki says : AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which originated in non-human primates in Sub-Saharan Africa and was transferred to humans during the late 19th or early 20th century. And to my knowledge there are odd people that are "mingling with all sorts of animals .... so why not a Neanderthal - in particular so long before "modern morals were invented"?

Good grief. Paal, AIDS likely did originate in African primates but it was not spread by sex or social interaction with monkeys. They ate them. They came into contact with all the monkey's bodily fluids. Open wounds could have easily absorbed the AIDS virus and likely did.

Ron P.

The urban legend overwhelmed me -so you are probably right here on the way AIDS actually spread.
-- but I was triggered by your assertiveness in opinion where you state firmly that intermingling between Cro Magnon and Neanderthals never took place-- Frankly , who's to tell?
Now - you explain this ! http://atgrd35.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/cross-breeding.jpg

Often if a group wipes out another (or merely has a successful raid), they take the nubile females. So if interbreeding is possible, they will get some of the genes. I saw a guess that perhaps 2% of European genes are Neanderthal. Perhaps genetic comparison of Europeans versus others can tease out the differences?

Their braincase may have been larger, but the cultural artifacts (tools and cave paintings), seem to indicate they were culturally less sophisticated then the Cro-Magnons that replaced them.
If we could bring a few back, I'm sure that would make a fortune on the pro-football circuit. And a couple would be Hollywood "caveman" stars.

apparently humans have about 3% dna of neanderthals. Some, with prominent foreheads have more.

we're all cave men (and women) at heart!

That's silly. It's true that the amount of Neanderthal DNA varies. Some have as much as 6%, maybe more. But you can't tell how much Neanderthal DNA someone has by their forehead. Only a small fraction of our DNA determines our looks.

It's early yet, but research suggests that much of our Neanderthal DNA involves our immune system - perhaps suggesting that it was advantageous for people arriving in a new area to "borrow" the immune systems of those who were already there.

Yes that's silly. I don't doubt that some rape went on but there was no social interbreeding. Many still believe that the DNA could have come from a common ancestor. Please read my link above as soon as it is cleared by the censors. I believe that is you. :-) And be sure to read the comments because there are some great questions and replies to the questions.

Ron P.

I don't think it's possible to determine whether it was rape or social interbreeding.

It's true that people tend to marry those who look and talk like they do...but not always. Current experience and human history show that sometimes, people marry out. They marry people who look very different, even people who speak different languages.

Well, that's why I said that some biologists believe the theory of social mingling but many anthropologists do not. However anthropologists who still subscribe to the now defunct noble savage theory might be inclined to believe it.

It is not about marriage. Ancient tribesmen were likely highly polygamous, as it is the nature of the male of the species.

My point is that it is extremely unlikely that there was any type of social intermingling whatsoever with the Neanderthal. Hunter-gatherers just do not behave that way. Tribes have always been in competition with each other and have always fought like cats and dogs. Hunter-gatherer tribes of today still do. Steven Pinker, "The Blank Slate" Page 57.

Jivaro 59 percent of males died as a result of war.
Yanomamo (Shamatari)39 percent of males died as a result of war.
Mae Enga 36 percent of males died as a result of war.
Dugum Dani 30 percent of males died as a result of war.
Murngin 29 percent of males died as a result of war.
Yanomamo (Namowei) 25 percent of males died as a result of war.
Huli 20 percent of males died as a result of war.
Gebusi 9 percent of males died as a result of war.
US & Europe 20th C. Less than 1 percent of males died as a result of war.

The book I have quoted here so many times, "Constant Battles" by Steven LeBlanc tells the same story. Tribes fight, that's what they do. There is a reason for this. Hunter-gatherer territory is very scarce. Prey is scarce. Prey and territory is the basis for their existence and they defend it to the death. They do or they starve.

The idea that Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals sat down and had a picnic with each other, and later went to bed with each other, is absurd beyond belief.

Ron P.

Ancient tribesmen were likely highly polygamous, as it is the nature of the male of the species.

This is not true. It's true there's a wide variety of human marriage patterns, but we are not highly polygamous. While many of us might want multiple wives (or husbands), in practice, most of us marry one at a time. I'd say the scientific consensus is that our natural tendency is toward serial monogamy.

This shows in our sexual dimorphism. In primates that are highly promiscuous, the males are much larger than the females. In primates that are monogamous, males and females are the same size. Humans have a small degree of dimorphism: males are a little bit bigger than females, which suggests we are mostly monogamous.

The idea that Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals sat down and had a picnic with each other, and later went to bed with each other, is absurd beyond belief.

That is not what anyone is suggesting. That tribes fight does not preclude their also intermarrying. Some tribes prefer marrying within the tribe, but others have rules requiring marriage only to those outside the tribe (perhaps a sort of incest taboo).

What happened when Europeans "discovered" the New World is probably a good example of what happened. Yes, there was violence. Yes, there was rape. But there was also voluntary social interaction and marriage.

Perhaps I used the wrong word. I should have said promiscuous instead of polygamous. The word "polygamous" implies marriage to more than one woman. It is extremely unlikely that "marriage" was a concept that earlier hunter-gatherer tribes even had.

Throughout history, the more powerful of primitive men have always had more than one female mate. In hunter-gatherer tribes this can be understood. So many of the males died in battle it was a necessity.

What happened when Europeans "discovered" the New World is probably a good example of what happened. Yes, there was violence. Yes, there was rape. But there was also voluntary social interaction and marriage.

I challenge that statement. Europeans did impose their culture on the natives after a while. But they did not find intermingling between different tribes. Yes many tribes formed alliances with nearby tribes for defense. That is how large tribes, like the Creek or the Sioux came into existence. But large tribes were formed because they were necessary for survival, not because they needed someone to socialize with.

It is all explained here and with a mountain of evidence: Constant Battles: Why We Fight

Not only are human societies never alone, but regardless of how well they control their own population or act ecologically, they cannot control their neighbors’ behavior. Each society must confront the real possibility that its neighbors will not live in ecological balance but will grow its numbers and attempt to take the resources from nearby groups. Not only have societies always lived in a changing environment, but they always have neighbors. The best way to survive in such a milieu is not to live in ecological balance with slow growth, but to grow rapidly and be able to fend off competitors as well as take resources from others. Page 73

Ron P.

It is extremely unlikely that "marriage" was a concept that earlier hunter-gatherer tribes even had.

I disagree with this. Marriage seems to be a human universal. It's not always one man, one woman, but it's found all human societies we know of, including the surviving hunter-gatherer cultures.

Throughout history, the more powerful of primitive men have always had more than one female mate. In hunter-gatherer tribes this can be understood. So many of the males died in battle it was a necessity.

I think this is questionable at best. Many societies under resource stress practice female infanticide. This makes sense, because it's the number of females that determines fertility. Farmers kill male animals because they want to grow their herds; if you're facing Malthusian limits and do not want a higher population, you kill the females.

In any case, the so-called "primitive" societies were very egalitarian, for reasons we've discussed here before. The chief did not necessarily have more than anyone else, and often had less.

Even in societies where powerful men do have many wives...there are so few of these men that for the average person, monogamy is still the rule.

But large tribes were formed because they were necessary for survival, not because they needed someone to socialize with.

I was talking about European and Native American interactions. Surely you don't deny that there was some voluntary social interaction and intermarriage there?

And it's not so much "needing someone to socialize with," it's that socializing is something that humans naturally do. Even with the enemy. Look at all the soldiers who come home with "war brides." It doesn't mean there were no women at home they could marry.

I was talking about European and Native American interactions. Surely you don't deny that there was some voluntary social interaction and intermarriage there?

This debate has moved from Cro-Magnon -- Neanderthal DNA to how the pilgrims behaved. The pilgrims were not hunter-gatherers, they were farmers. The whole world changed when farming came on the scene.

I must make one more point. Yes, socializing is something humans naturally do. But socializing with the enemy has always been one of the greatest taboos. Tribes of hunter-gatherers were always at war with each other. Pinker has explained that, LeBlanc explained that. And they both explained why there were always at war.

It's time to quit now. You may have the last word.

Ron P.

All right, I will.

I don't agree that the whole world changed when farming came on the scene. People are still people.

There are still societies that do not farm, and even those with a cultural preference for marrying within the tribe sometimes marry out.

And many tribes do have a cultural practice of exogamy - marriage allowed only outside the tribe. Among the Tucano, for example, no man may marry a woman who speaks his own language. It's considered incest. Men get their wives from other tribes who speak different languages.

"But socializing with the enemy has always been one of the greatest taboos."

Never heard of "sleeping with the enemy", Ron? Besides who's to say earlier versions of humans, earlier societies weren't even kinkier than modern humans. There may have been a certain "animal magnetism" or vigor in an encounter with another, slightly different species. Maybe some Cro-Magnon women kept Neanderthal men as sex slaves ;-) Maybe they knew there was a much lower chance of conception.

Fact is, there's a lot we don't know.

Never heard of "sleeping with the enemy"

Marriages between warring tribes are pretty common. Mostly it's to prevent future wars and build family ties. We have a whole history of this stuff. Honestly sometimes I think one should stop reading books and just ask people who still live in that kind of world.

This shows in our sexual dimorphism. In primates that are highly promiscuous, the males are much larger than the females. In primates that are monogamous, males and females are the same size. Humans have a small degree of dimorphism: males are a little bit bigger than females, which suggests we are mostly monogamous.

Except that our closest Great Ape relatives, the Bonobos are highly promiscuous and most definitely do not show a high degree of sexual dimorphism.

Bonobos do not form permanent monogamous sexual relationships with individual partners. They also do not seem to discriminate in their sexual behavior by sex or age, with the possible exception of abstaining from sexual activity between mothers and their adult sons. When bonobos come upon a new food source or feeding ground, the increased excitement will usually lead to communal sexual activity, presumably decreasing tension and encouraging peaceful feeding.
Source Wikipedia

I'm sure if given the opportunity Bonobos would probably mate with Neanderthals too.

Yes, bonobos are different. Sexual dimorphism in primates is associated with polygyny. Males are larger because they are defending harems of females. Obviously, that doesn't wash in matriarchal species like bonobos.

It is not about marriage. Ancient tribesmen were likely highly polygamous, as it is the nature of the male of the species.

Not true. A lot of tribes in India including some that are essentially paleolithic in their habits practice monogamy almost exclusively. Sometimes they practice serial monogamy, marriages are also not unheard of, some tribes of mainland India actually have pretty elaborate customs for marriage. Polygamy exists as well.

See this
and this

I grew up in Port Blair, these tribes, they are as ancient as you get. They are one of the five ancient tribes in Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Yes, the Andaman and Nicobar islands still have stone age tribes. I think at least one of them has not been contacted yet (only seen from the air).

The Sentinelese

They still fire arrows at helicopters.

Today I guess it is no big difference between arrows and Kalasjnikovs. You would need some kind of guided rockets or other controlled projectile to be effective against helicopters and for airplanes you also need a method to spot them. Possibility to pierce thick armor and camouflage is also absolutely necessary be a real threat against any modern army.

One of the ways that gays stir the social pot is by coupling outside the usual arrangements. C. A. Tripp speculated that bonding needs some kind of resistance to overcome -- gender difference between men and women offers plenty of scope for resistance. Same-sex couples may seek cultural, ethnic, age, or other differences. When my husband and I see mixed-race pairs on the street, our gaydar goes off.

We had lunch today with a long-time couple who are both multi-ethnic (Anglo and Filipino) and age-variant (17 years difference). I was 27 when my (now) husband was born. Kids in high school today seem to be paring off amongst their friends, but until now, people looking for same-sex partners tended to look outside their usual social circle. English gentlemen could live on isolated farms with a hired-man lover without exciting much comment (Forster's Maurice.)

(Of course there are couples who seem to be reflections of each other -- as if they looked in a mirror and fell in love.)


just my understated English sense of humour at play! I don't really think the size of one's forehead marks one out as more - or less - prone to cave dwelling.

Dilbit or Not? Wabasca Crude Is the Question

“Can the oil accurately be described as tar sands oil, or a type of diluted bitumen (dilbit)?” the EPA asked in an April 5 letter to Exxon.

By Maria Gallucci, InsideClimate News Apr 18, 2013

Anthony Swift, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) who studies pipeline safety issues and who wrote a blog post in the wake of the Arkansas spill called "The Tar Sands Name Game," said he believes Exxon and other industry players are trying to confuse public opinion on Wabasca Heavy. The goal, he said, is to avoid bad publicity about tar sands oil at a time when the industry is trying to dramatically increase the amount of dilbit brought into the United States through expanded, repurposed and new pipelines, including the proposed Keystone XL.

"The oil industry is trying to protect the brand of tar sands [crude], and it’s happening at the expense of the public interest," Swift said.

--- snip ---

As of April 13, two weeks after the Arkansas spill, Crude Quality Inc. listed Wabasca Heavy as dilbit under its Canadian Crude Quality Monitoring Program, which collects data on different types of Canadian crude oil and posts it online.March 30 screenshot of Wabasca Heavy listed as dilbit/Source: CrudeMonitor.caMarch 30 screenshot of Wabasca Heavy listed as dilbit/Source: CrudeMonitor.ca

In an interview on April 12, Lywood [of Crude Quality Inc.] said Wabasca Heavy is "primarily a heavy and extra-heavy crude oil from a bitumen-bearing formation that does contain some diluent to meet pipeline specifications." He said he included Wabasca Heavy in the dilbit category because it competes in the dilbit marketplace, and because Alberta's energy agency considers it dilbit. He said he "communicates regularly" with Cenovus and Canadian Natural Resources, who he said did not object to his decision to label Wabasca Heavy as dilbit on the website.

However, the day after that interview with InsideClimate News, Lywood moved Wabasca Heavy out of the dilbit category. It is now listed in the "Heavy Sour – Conventional" crude oil category on the CrudeMonitor.ca website.

Moving the goal posts!

There is really not much difference between bitumen and extra heavy oil. The defining difference is viscosity rather than density, and what is considered bitumen in one formation will be considered heavy oil in a deeper, hotter one. The Alberta government classifies bitumen on the basis of geographic area, so if a company finds heavy oil in an oil sands area, the government will deem it to be bitumen. That's probably how it ended up deeming Wabasca Heavy to be bitumen.

You generally have to add diluent to heavy oil as well as to bitumen to meet pipeline specs, so in the case of Lloydminster Heavy, which came out of the ground hot and as a result was deemed to be heavy oil. We had to add condensate to get it to flow through the sales pipeline. However, it wouldn't be considered dilbit because it wasn't bitumen to begin with. I suppose you could call it "dilho" if you had to have a name for it.

The standard Canadian benchmark crude oil, "Western Canadian Select" is a mix of conventional heavy oil, light oil, condensate, synthetic crude oil, and bitumen which is blended to have a consistent chemical analysis and meet both pipeline and heavy oil refinery specs. I don't think anyone calls it "dilbit" unless they have a point to make.

EIA: OPEC April Oil Output 29.9M B/D, Up 100,000 B/D vs. March

OPEC's April output was 1.4 million barrels a day below the year-earlier level, with the difference due to the scaling back by the Saudis and a cut of 500,000 barrels a day in Iran's output, to 2.8 million barrels a day, caused by stricter sanctions, including an EU embargo on Iranian oil imports.

On average in March and April, global oil use averaged 89.3 million barrels a day, up 1.1 million barrels a day from a year earlier.

Non-OPEC oil output rose 300,000 barrels a day in March and April from a year earlier.

Can anyone tell me why there are such a wide swing of stories in the major media..The Atlantic puts out a story that we will never run out of oil etc...then Bloomberg today puts out a story that fossil fuels will peak at 2030..what is next fox news saying that the Baakan is at peak? Is the plan to confuse people as much as possible then they will get bored and not care?

Sparky, it's not part of the plan but we are getting bored. There had been 21 posts on Drumbeat today when I clicked "reply" to your post. That has to be close to an all time low. But for me this is the most interesting time. People are caught up in the fracking craze and think that means that peak oil will never happen.

But all that fracking will soon peak. The Bakken will peak, likely next year or 2015 at the latest. I don't follow Eagle Ford as close but they will likely peak about the same time. Thin it will be all downhill from there.

Production from the USA has kept people from clearly seeing that peak oil has arrived or nearly so anyway. But when that drastic decline rate hits the Bakken and Eagle Ford, everyone will know the jig is up. Well perhaps not, there is no telling what the cornucopians will think. But we will know what has happened.

World C+C production less USA production in kb/d. The last data point is December 2012.

EIA World Less USA photo EIAWorld-USA_zpsbff95e40.jpg

Ron P.

Ron, your graph screams the word plateau. Maybe that's why interest in peak oil is so low at the moment. Nothing much seems to be happening except for sustained high prices.

Peak Interest.

I guess the Plateau is a fairly dull place to hang out on. But then again 'may you live in interesting times' is of course a curse.

Which makes me think of the old 'I don't like it it's too quiet' dictum.......?

Sparky, it's not part of the plan but we are getting bored. There had been 21 posts on Drumbeat today when I clicked "reply" to your post.

I know your reply was to sparky, but wanted to chime in about the lackluster # of posts today. It's Saturday, which is usually an active day with triple digit posts, followed by Sunday which usually has far fewer. I'm really wondering what the heck is going on. Maybe many posters are out setting their new pv panels, planting seeds, stocking up on canned goods or rejecting peak oil and burning FF to go somewhere like the beach or lake to bask in a cornupocian haze while barbecuing steaks.

I miss Rockman.

Weird. I was thinking the same thing after the post above your post.

I've actually gone over to that other unnamed website just to read some of his posts. It's so slow and hard to navigate - PLEASE COME BACK, ROCKMAN!!!

We just need someone to either bash or praise nuclear power and that will get the post count up!

For that idea to work you'd have to have people say that the increase in radioactive Caesium is a good thing and given the report about how solar panels will break utilities its hard to be able to make a reasonable pitch that Fission power is this universal good that should be everywhere.

Even places like Iran or North Korea.

Well, since not much going on, I shall report the latest from the Just-do-it club here in the hills.

My pallet sized purchases of PV and resale one-off at cost has resulted in huge enthusiasm from the do-it-yourselfs. So much that I decided to just pass it all off to a young guy who is all fired up to spread the PV gospel. He is selling them at cost plus epsilon.

I did get a few more kW for myself and have cut down some of my oversized windbreak to allow them to be mounted next to my shop, where the electric car is gonna go.

Have been doing some thinking on storing surplus PV by compressing air to later be heated and blown over a turbocharger turbine-alternator. That is, a brayton cycle with free compression. Big power boost.

Endless fun. Membership free to all. Just do it.

Sorry to have to say it, but this site is being moderated to death, IMHO.

Maybe I'm wrong. But stray from the narrow guidelines of what's acceptable and your post will be deleted.

This does not encourage posting.

Discussion here has gotten very narrow, and rather boring.

Allowing a little more breadth of opinion, and discussion, would liven things up, As opposed to the same 6 people saying the same stuff over and over and over.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate what these same 6 people have to say, it's just not very interesting having read it for the last 6 years.

Is this not blatantly obvious?

The truth is somewhere in between. An unmoderated site like zerohedge also gets old quickly.

With oil production at a plateau and the corporate media having carefully constructed a message of "clear skies ahead," except for the occasional "terrorist" attack which mandates enlarging the federal police state, the sheeple are convinced that their jobs are good and stable and so they should continue to pay their student and SUV and McMansion debt and lumber through the malls and movie theaters and sit watching TV, precisely where the corporations want them.

If the people start putting the picture together for themselves, the banks and corporations go bankrupt, we go through a period of collapse, and then people will have to find alternative arrangements of working and living.
The banks and corporations fear this.

The Oil Drum becomes relevant again in a big way once that happens.

The question to me is...do we want to "liven things up"?

If our goal was just more posting, the solution would be to encourage stupid flamewars. Especially of the religious or political variety.

If we want more eyeballs, we should probably stop with the boring energy stuff and just post photos of Kate Upton's boobs.

But that's not what we created this site for, and it's not what most people who visit it want. I prefer quality over quantity. I'd rather have 6 well-thought out comments than 600 stupid ones.

I think the falling numbers of comments is directly related to the dropping interest in peak oil. It's not just TOD that's affected. LATOC closed up, and the number of comments at PO.com is a fraction of what it used to be.

As for the moderation here...I don't think it's increased over the years. The kind of comments that are removed has changed a bit, perhaps. Both because of changes in our site and changes in people's posting style.

When oil prices were setting new records every week, the site had a sort of natural center of gravity. People might stray off-topic a bit, but would naturally return to the topic at hand. My main concern was keeping flamewars and personal attacks in check. Now, because people are bored, off-topic posts have a tendency to swamp the thread and never get back on topic.

People are also more likely to post off-topic, again because of boredom. For example, for years on Thanksgiving, no one posted comments like, "Everyone post what you're thankful for! I'm thankful for my beautiful wife and brilliant children, and my dog Ginger!" We were far too busy analyzing Deffeyes' Thanksgiving prediction. But I've had to remove "post what you're thankful for" comments from the last 2-3 years on Thanksgiving. Because really, 50 comments about how much people love their families and are grateful for this web site is pretty boring for other people to read.

As I've said before, I also think people's posting style has changed, because so many are accessing the net with smartphones and tablets, instead of computers. That makes it more difficult to post thoughtful comments, with links and references, and encourages silly one-liners instead.

The new spam filter is also a factor. It's even more of a pain for me than for you, but given the magnitude of the spam assault, I'm not sure what else we can do.

And it's not all bad. To me, it looks like the spam filter makes people think twice about posting. People are posting fewer "comments without content" - one-liners, smilies, "+1!" etc.

I appreciate your thoughtful response. Thank you.

Speaking of the Spam Filter:

Is it possible to at least have an icon on the main page that it is working and that posts are being "moderated"?

Last Friday I prepared a fairly long reply but when I tried to "save" it, I got the Pink Screen of Death saying the filter wasn't working right then and to try again in a few minutes. After screwing around for five minutes or so with no luck I just said the heck with it and moved on to another site. In essence, I wasted quite a bit of time when I wouldn't have even taken the time to reply if I knew the Spam Filter wasn't working.


You'll have to take that up with Super G (the tech support address on the front page).

Hi Leanan, thanks for all your diligent moderating! I would like to add my opinion on the posting trends. TOD is overdosing on doomerism. There are in fact some extremely positive developments in renewable and clean technology out there which deserve more attention. I would highly recommend a Bloomberg conference keynote which has been covered by Dave Roberts over at grist.org. The title of Dave's blog post is "A master class in clean tech investing". It includes a link to the talk which is 40 minutes long but worth it in terms of quality of analysis and breadth of topics, although some favorite TOD topics are left out.

There are in fact some extremely positive developments in renewable and clean technology out there which deserve more attention. I

Then post them.

And if you can, explain how that particular product will actually make it to market.

Signed - Still waiting for that $100 a HP stirling cycle engine that was 'promised by press release' in 2001.

I refer to the keynote address by Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. He is a world-class authority on the subject. I could regurgitate his data and analysis buy quite frankly, that would be a waste of time and it would not do justice to his message. Please watch his address. Many clean energy sites have covered this the last few days.

What kind of discussion are you hoping for, that isn't being provided by those "clean energy sites"?

Just curious...

About 40% of the total global investment in new electric generating capacity is "clean tech" i.e. only 60% is FF, according to Bloomberg analysis. This has been the case since 2011, and clean tech will likely pass 50% in 2013-2014. This despite the distress seen in parts of PV and wind turbine manufacturers.

Part of having a discussion is providing links TO this info, or take and clip the part you find interesting/worthy of highlighting in:

the blockquote function

All I was able to find was a flash video format. And Flash players are not produced for BSD platforms by Adobe - so this "message that cannot be done justice" by summarizing is not an option for the machine I consider secure enough for me to run the insecure Flash on with the jails feature in FreeBSD.

Being tied to a computer for 40+ minutes to hear a pitchman and risk infection that can take days to recover from doesn't seem to me to have a payoff.

(At least when I decided to consume someone talking for 40+ mins in an MP3 I can do other things - like pull serial port cards that may have failed and swap them. Hard to do that tethered to a Flash device.)

It works fine on my iPad even with highest security settings. Oh well, here comes a tidbit from Bloomberg. PV and wind are both cost competitive in Australia without subsidies. Ten percent of all detached homes in Australia have rooftop PV, although much of these did some form of support.

Another solid statistic from Bloomberg. Grid-tied electricity consumption has fallen every year on Australia since 2010 and in the USA since 2005 (except small rebound in 2010). The analysis says this is caused by a combo of energy efficiency and distributed generation, i.e. rooftop solar.

So much for coupling of economic growth and growth in consumption of electric power.

So much for coupling of economic growth and growth in consumption of electric power.

Quite a leap to declare what has been the historic observation of energy to economic growth and declare it as dismissed.

There are 2 parts to your claim:

1) Economic growth
2) growth in consumption of electric power

#2 is able to be checked per what is being done.

But what of #1? What is the basis that there is "economic growth"?

GDP has grown significantly over these periods. Australia was almost unaffected by global financial crisis.

And this GDP number you claim to have faith in, is an honest number?

And what is a "significantly" grown number? You've also said "over these periods", yet you say "from 2005". 2005 until now in my mind is 1 period. So why a plural for what should be a singular? If there are many periods, why - to cherry pick to make ones point?

A graph over here http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_real_gdp_history looks flat VS the past of cheaper energy. In fact it shows a drop - drops usually do not represent "significantly grown" state.

One period for Australia from 2010, and one period for the USA from 2005. That is two periods. Sorry for the confusion. I would expect GDP data from Bloomberg is as about as trustworthy as it gets.

Next point from Bloomberg. Total vehicle milesdeiven in the USA is confirmed falling. At the same time fuel efficiency of new vehicles has improved 4% every year since 2008. These trends are expected to continue if not accelerate to the point that import of crude oil to the USA will likely be negligible in 15-20 years. The question posed by Bloomberg is if the USA will quit being the policeman of the Persian gulf. This because of changing habits and uptake of impeoved energy technology.

This because of changing habits and uptake of impeoved energy technology.

So you claim. But is your claim at all valid?

Are the changing driving habits due to higher costs of car ownership while the amount of money to spend by households have remained constant or have dropped?

If the above question is the reality, then how does that square with the other claim of economic growth?

These trends are expected to continue if not accelerate to the point that import of crude oil to the USA will likely be negligible in 15-20 years.

Based on what handwaving metrics? What is the model and the data that drives this model?

And what will be the price of this oil be in 15-20 years? If there is a valid model for what you claim it should have a "price". So what is that "price"?

Hi Eric, I do not claim this, Bloomberg expert analysts do in their keynote address which I watched on a blogsite. I suggest you watch it and judge for yourself.

So this is an unsourced and undocumented with data or methodology claim that falls under 'appeal to authority' because the speaker not only has 'good graphics' but also the speaker has a title of CEO?

Is somehow watching going to provide the document sources and methodologies used to get the conclusion going to suddenly manifest itself?

I believe the "judging" is easily done with a framing that 'GDP has grown significantly from 2005' VS the graph shown from the one link. Unless the growth claim is yours and not his.

From his official biography: "Michael Liebreich is Chief Executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the world’s leading provider of research for decision-makers in clean energy, water, carbon and power markets. Michael founded New Energy Finance in 2004 and grew it as Chairman and Chief Executive before selling it to Bloomberg in 2009. The company is headquartered in London and now has around 200 staff working out of 11 offices around the world."

How big is your staff, Eric?

Thus you are going for appeal to authority.

How big is your staff, Eric?

I don't think anyone here cares about how big my staff is. This is a family BLOG.

I believe Bernie Madoff had over 200 employees at the height of his career.
Unless you were indeed being Freudian, I don't see the relevance: people will follow their paymaster.

More input from Bloomberg, now on a more conceptual level. New energy decisions will now be based on new ROI: Resilience, Optionality and Inteligence, and if they do not deliver new ROI, they will likely not deliver old ROI, ie return on investment.

Bloomberg recognizes the growing movement influence institutional investors to divest FF as a real and growing uncertainty for the FF industry. Bloomberg evens claims that the US military is already well on its way to "divest" a large part of its ops from FF use.

Yet another morsel from the Bloomberg keynote. Any energy company that clings to the old business model and paradigm is now considered a dinosaur, and the implication is that the official Bloomberg analysis will reflect that. The investor community listens to this.

This is only of interest if you believe the investor community will have any real impact. A lot of us don't. It's not really my bailiwick, but from things I've heard...we've considered merging with other sites or asking some peak oilers to join the staff, only to realize that they wouldn't be a good fit. Our focus is not "How to profit from peak oil," because, well, we have serious doubts about whether anyone will profit from it. Though there's a wide variety of opinion among the staff.

And yet another debating point from the Bloomberg keynote. EVs will be cost-competitive without subsidies by 2018. Peak oil will be avoided due to demand collapse. Is this relevant for TOD? Or simply inconvenient for our most vocal doomers?

EVs will be cost-competitive without subsidies by 2018. Peak oil will be avoided due to demand collapse. Is this relevant for TOD?

Will be? No wonder he's the CEO! He can foretell the future.

Peak oil will be avoided due to demand collapse.

Supply of $5 a barrel oil has collapsed. Hasn't changed the demand. If no other factors change, demand for $1000 a barrel oil will be "in collapse".

In 1964 a US gallon of gas was $0.30.

A 1964 US Quarter is worth $4.33 (due to metal)

US West Coast gasoline - $3.84

Demand collapse can happen and have nothing to do with maickal EV's being as cheap as todays ICE based autos.

There are games that can be played with the money system. Making statements about demand without prices and rates of inflation from now to 'the future' just means someone in a suit and a title said some stuff.

Or simply inconvenient for our most vocal doomers?

Only in the sense its the future and none of us know what that holds. Right now Fiat says they lose money on every EV they sell - some $10,000. So somehow there is $10,000 of change in 5 years on a product that has design cycles of years and at least a year to have safety regulators to give a car an OK.

Now one could also raise the price of an ICE to match the EV price and thus the vision of the future will come to fruition.

The only inconvenient part is this grand "take THAT you doomers!" is just handwaving - not showing an actual shipping solutions or math.

Bloomberg does research and modelling and has unique access to data. They describe their tools on the website about.bnef.com/gremo/ . Where might i find a description of your methods, Eric?

Bloomberg does research and modelling and has unique access to data

So "magic!".

And believe me because I'm an ex-spurt CEO.

Nothing wrong with an appeal to authority - but the authority makes claims that lack useful data.

Where might i find a description of your methods, Eric?

And this has what to do with my questions or observations, other than attempt to avoid answering?

Fiat says they lose $10,000 an EV. And somehow EV's will be the same cost as an equivalent ICE in 5 years according to the appeal to authority expert. HOW does that happen? How will the cost for batteries become $10,000 cheaper - or are ICE cars to spike $10,000?

How about Fisker - Spent $660,000 on Each $103,000 Plug-in Car. How does one close that difference in 5 years for the argument by authority to be a correct authority?

Grand statements of 'demand collapse' and price equivalence yet with no numbers to show. Demand collapse would happen if $1000 a barrel oil and $5 buys a gallon of milk/loaf of bread and $200 buys an OK suit. But with no numbers - no way to sense how credible he may be. Nor is population cited. If there is 100,000 total people in the US of A I'm guessing imported oil won't be an issue. The prophet does his vision for profit with no actual hard data to judge how he goes from here and now to the future claim.

My method is straight forward - I'm observing the wiggle-words and non-position and pointing out what is lacking. I'll also note you are unwilling or unable to answer direct questions.

(And perhaps other TODers will know if this CEO has a Yergin-like history of accuracy.)

This is a complaint we have gotten since the very early days of the site. I believe someone dubbed us "Doomer Central."

We would like there be more focus on solutions, but there's a limit to what moderation can do about things like that.

TOD is overdosing on doomerism. There are in fact some extremely positive developments in renewable and clean technology out there which deserve more attention.

Nonsense. The wind, solar, and electricity forever folks here likely outnumber us doomers by a good margin. But the point is, debate is what it is all about. If we all sang the same tune we would all tire of it soon and never come back.

Ron P.

Overdoses occur at relatively small overall concentrations, to extend the pharmacological metaphor.

I agree. IMO we are not overdosing on doomerism. I do find doomer threads some of the more interesting, but I also like to hear alternative points of view.

Once you have determined that nothing can or will be done, it is pretty pointless to be posting news of breakthroughs in things like solar or wind, for example. On the other hand, you personally are not prohibited from posting links to renewable and clean technologies. I think you have a point although I am not sure that is the reason for less posting. Frankly, a relatively recent occurrence, the disappearance of ROCKMAN is a contributing factor. So that pretty much leaves us with postings showing the latest data on oil production. Relevant. But it is hard to care anymore whether or not we have reached peak oil or not in the face of the prevailing meme.

...do we want to "liven things up"?

Perhaps it's best we don't; no need to force the flow, so to speak. It's often events that liven things up. Previous, recent springs have brought us Macondo, Fukushima, things like that. Perhaps this spring has seen folks crawling out of their caves to not much going on, TOD-wise; better, more pressing things to do than sit in front of a screen, for most people. It's certainly the case with me, with a wet late winter/spring, things are growing like crazy. No late heavy frosts (yet), and projects planned and begun this winter need to get done before the heat of summer.

I still have PV to mount properly (a kilowatt is just laying on the roof, patched in), a grape arbour to build (plants healed in waiting), and I have regular maintanence I'm behind on.... so I post when the weather permits, or during a luch break. Tax season is over, so my wife gets home at a more reasonable hour; she certainly doesn't want to compete with TOD for my attentions.

Besides, people likely don't want to read another of my semi-doomed, systemically-screwed, could of/should of started decades ago on all of the things that will save industrial-age-lite, posts. Let'em dream...

I'm sure events will revive the 10+ posts/hour rate at some point. Enjoy the lull - get a life ;-/

I think not having huge numbers of comments is a good thing. I try to at least scan through the drumbeats to see if there are interesting comments. But having lots of them makes this task too onerous. When I see a discussion has degenerated into a flame war, I usually skip to the next topic.

i think it could be simply a "natural" fluctuation, the number of comments.
it doesn't necessarily mean that there are less readers for drumbeat.
when there is something interesting it doesn't automatically follow that i want
to post something. anyway the discussion is often so american oriented
that for an european it can simply be irrelevant.

(vaguely) related to this american/european problem:
what is american english word "liberal" in british english?
what is british english word "liberal" in american english?
what is american english word "conservative" in british english?
what is british english word "conservative" in american english?
what is american english word "socialism" in british english?
what is british english word "socialism" in american english?

in general are there any "official" recommendations how to translate american english to british english?
you see it would be quite useful for those who are not native speakers of either language.

anyway i appreciate very much the efforts of the staff of tod!

Near as I can tell..."liberal" in the U.S. would be "socialist" in Europe.

"Liberal" in Europe would be "libertarian" in the U.S.

"Conservative" means roughly the same, but in the U.S. may carry a fundamentalist religious connotation that may not apply in Europe.

"Socialist" means roughly the same, but in a U.S. carries a strongly negative connotation of big government/communism/Marxism etc.

US conservatives have some believes not shared in Europe. Anti-enviornmentalism for example. So not euro-conservative.

Actually, I will chime in just once here and be gone. I used to post on this site and have moved over to PO.com also. The main reason is the tone of discussion seems to be nicer over there. A general misconception is that the only way to be uncivil is to call people names. But there are far more spiteful and sophisticated ways to hurt someone without doing that. I regularly read people here attack others by belittling there ideas or intellectual capacity indirectly by making comments like- this is very frequent. Here are some of the ways people responded to others posts in this weekend’s threads- notice how unnecessarily hostile and confrontational people are to each other. The focus seems to be to smack the other person down more than to discover truth together (my notes are in parentheses):

You've got to be kidding
I think you're wrong on anthropologists
Good grief. Paal, AIDS likely did originate in African primates
That's silly. It's true that the amount of Neanderthal DNA varies
I disagree with this
I think this is questionable at best
It's time to quit now. You may have the last word…… (reply) All right, I will
Not true.
TOD is overdosing on doomerism… (reply) Nonsense.

TOD just seems to be unnecessarily vicious, this weekend was actually nicer than normal. There are some regular attackers like Darwinian, Twilight and other but the overall mood encourages many others to join in. I am afraid you set a lot of the tone yourself Leanan, you seem to throw your moderator weight around (Darwinian dares not attack you) but most importantly you don’t enforce true civility or encourage kindness. You actually do have very regular, constant, and un-illuminating intellectual flame wars on this site- they are just disguised and dressed up. This is why people miss Rockman- he was a gentleman and people get tired of the constant hostility.

I have found myself in life that fire is not the same thing as light- one gives you better understanding- the other just consumes you.

I will go now- all I ask is that you consider my points with an open mind before you shoot them down.

TOD has always been a "meat grinder." It's kind of our claim to fame. The only thing I ask is that you attack ideas, not the people who hold them.

But this does illustrate the line we are walking. One the one hand, some are complaining that the site is too tightly moderated and we should give posters more leeway. Others think we need more moderation, we're letting people get away with too much. Similarly, for every person who complains because I don't allow them to post links to funny cat videos on YouTube, there's someone else who says I'm allowing too much socializing and chit-chat and it's driving "serious" posters away.

I'm doing the best I can. This site is not for everyone, and we don't even pretend otherwise.

You guys do a good job. If people are complaining about too much AND too little, that means you've got it just right.

Actually my biggest bugbear is with the comment loss paranoia, flouncing and complaining from people. You'd think they were paying for this service or something.

...and if C8 thinks this place is a bit vicious then they have led a VERY sheltered internet existence. This is one of the most civilized blogs I visit.

That was a classy answer Leanan. I think part of the dynamic is that the higher traffic, and more posters, on TOD creates a little more de-personalization- sort of like a big city. This might have the effect of making people tend to be a little more aggressive perhaps. A smaller website like PO.com might be likened more to a small town atmosphere- I don't know (each situation has its pluses and minuses).

I do know this: despite overpopulation, resource depletion, warming etc. as "big picture" problems- how we treat each other in daily interactions may play a much bigger role then we will ever realize to creating those larger problems we face. I find rudeness wears people down and polarizes groups. In any case- good luck here- nothing like the excitement of a big city! I'm back to my small town.

As you may or may not know...I used to be on staff at PO.com, as well as here. There was no falling out or anything, and so far as I know we are still on good terms. They did a massive software change at a time when I was too busy to learn the new system, and I just kind of wandered away and never went back. (PO.com is set up that way - a huge staff, so no individual has to be there.)

It may be different now, but when I was on staff, they spent massive amounts of time and energy moderating the forums. They have many, many times the people on staff that we do, extensive rules, and an elaborate system of warnings, penalties, discipline records, etc. so each mod can keep track of the interaction each member has with the other mods.

We considered something like that here, but decided it just wasn't worth it. We don't have the manpower, and perhaps more importantly, we don't have the interest. We are mostly engineers and scientists - nerds - and we don't particularly care to spend our time arguing with wannabe Internet lawyers over who started it, what "is" is, etc.

It's good that PO.com exists, and is different from TOD. There would be no point in having two sites if they were not different.

How is "I disagree with this" in any way 'unnecessarily viscious" in a dicussion of ideas?

There are very, very few messages ever deleted here, and those that are deleted contain personal attacks on other posters - flaming. The moderation here is actually almost non-existent.

We spend more time blocking the accounts of spammers and unhiding legitimate comments caught by the spam filter than anything else.

We don't delete posts because moderators don't agree with content unless they're so full of strawmen arguments as to be ridiculous and trollish - and more often than not, those are left for comment in order to encourage open discussion.

If the discussion has gotten narrow and rather boring in your opinion, it's because that's what visitors to TOD are posting.

Best to all,

This is the part I don't understand about the "grrr I was moderated so now I'll go away" and claims of censorship in these parts.

Some topics are killed off as are some posters who see this site as a way to promote their business. But that is how one stops things from getting out of control.

In this weeks Drumbeats one of the staff talks about how the police were involved with someone who was pretending to others and making up stuff as these other people.

When the people on the back end are busy with the police over posters on TOD - I just don't grok why ppl are upset over how things are being managed.

Can those unhidden comments show up as 'new'? It gets hard to follow a thread when you read a 'new' comment and realise you have not read any of the comments before while they do not show up as 'new'.


Unfortunately the comments that are grabbed by the spam filter that we have to unhide are labeled new until we unhide them. Or at least that's what happens at our end. I'm not sure what happens on your end but it sounds as if they're not coming up as new for readers either! :}

Yes, that is annoying and a serious flaw. Again, the person to contact is SuperG - the tech support address on the front page. Neither I nor Kate can do anything about it.

Unfortunately, spam has become such a huge problem that I can't see going without the spam filter. The "Tech Talk" thread on the front page, about the BP view of the future, has 19 real comments. There are something like 800 spam comments (invisible to you, thanks to the spam filter, but visible to me). Most of them are from accounts about six months old - meaning the spammer registered them before the purge of unused accounts SuperG did a few weeks ago. (He found 70,0000 accounts that were likely created by spammers. And obviously missed quite a few.)

It would be ironic if after all we've been through, capitalism is the downfall of this site...via Russian and Chinese spammers.

A preliminary version of a slide that a friend of mine is working on, at my request (2005 production and net exports numbers = 100%):

2002 = Year 1
2005 = Year 4
2008 = Year 7
2011 = Year 10

Note that it appears quite likely that virtually all of the post-2005 increase in liquid production was due to liquids derived from natural gas production (condensate and NGL's) or from biofuels. Based on regional data, it appears likely that crude oil production (less than 45 API gravity crude) has probably been approximately flat since 2005.

2012 net export data not yet available, but I suspect that there was a decline in GNE from 2011 to 2012, with a sizable decline in ANE.

And the 9 year decline in the ratio of GNE to Chindia's Net Imports (CNI):

Note that it appears quite likely that virtually all of the post-2005 increase in liquid production was due to liquids derived from natural gas production (condensate and NGL's) or from biofuels.

So what. What is its significance?

Since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, U.S. consumption of petroleum and natural gas has increased on a quadrillion BTU basis from 57.3 units to 60.6 units in 2012. Since 1973, U.S. end use expenditures of petroleum and natural gas as a percentage of GDP has increased from 5.8% to 6.5% in 2012. So what.

Sorry, I thought that the significance of (probably) no material increase in global crude oil* production since 2005, despite a doubling in global crude oil prices, was obvious.

Regarding US oil consumption, the more important time period is post-2005. As I have occasionally noted, the dominant trend we are seeing is that developed net oil importing countries like the US are gradually being priced out of the global market for exported oil, as the developing countries, led by China, have consumed an increasing share of a declining post-2005 volume of Global Net Exports of oil.

*Less than 45 API gravity

Sorry, I thought that the significance of (probably) no material increase in global crude oil* production since 2005, despite a doubling in global crude oil prices, was obvious.

I am continually fascinated and amazed by the capacity of most people to simply miss the elephant standing right smack in the middle of the room!

I am continually fascinated and amazed by the capacity of most people to simply miss the elephant standing right smack in the middle of the room!

I am continually amazed and fascinated by the capacity of most people to simply fail to grasp human ingenuity and basic econobrowser data in the middle of the room. Touch the statue of Adam Smith in Edinburgh, Scotland one day. It may rub off.

When U.S. petroleum consumption is 8.5% of GDP, as it was in 1980, and rising and sustained, J.J. Brown can doff his cap and say I told you it was so "obviously" so. He has a large (55%) real price increase in petroleum to go from the 2012 baseline.

The financial review is hosting a future forum in our city this week, The Road to 2100. Would Todsters feel the event worthy of the $230 entry fee? I'm considering going.

Cheers, Matt


Hi Matt,

Well...since you asked...here are some alternatives.

First, a search bring up this: http://www.smithschool.ox.ac.uk/who-we-are/visiting-fellows/jeremy-bentham/

My guess is that Mr. Bentham's talk will be covered in the papers available on this link (above).

2) Our friend Gail (www.ourfiniteworld.com) has a post up about the "Age of Limit Conference" http://www.4qf.org/index.php/age-of-limits

My guess is if you were to look it over, and contact the organizers, you could put on something similar there (where you are), and it would perhaps be a bit more...umnnnn...realistic? useful?

3) Another idea is to ask the TODers for their "best picks" on this (same) topic.

4) For the intersection of "peak" with finance, I'd start with the articles on Gail's blog. My view is they consider factors that Mr. Bentham probably doesn't, such as "peak debt," the intersection of oil prices w. production, etc.

(In other words, my vote is save the fee.)

Germany's clean energy drive fails to curb dirty brown coal

There used to be a saying 'one good deed deserves another'. These days it seems to be a case that one 'good' subsidy deserves another. Follow the links in the article
that talk of the need to pay gas fired power plant a fee to remain on standby for when already subsidised wind and solar don't meet demand. The stop-start nature of gas plant operation due to preferential grid uptake of wind and solar coupled with high European gas prices makes the plant unprofitable.

I make that three subsidies not two since in theory Europe's cap and trade scheme already helps low carbon sources like wind and solar. My radical idea is this .... just keep the CO2 cap, drop the subsidies and mandates and let the market work out the best energy mix. When this new idea (called capacity market payments) runs into problems perhaps they'll think of yet another subsidy.

that talk of the need to pay gas fired power plant a fee to remain on standby for when already subsidised wind and solar don't meet demand. The stop-start nature of gas plant operation due to preferential grid uptake of wind and solar coupled with high European gas prices makes the plant unprofitable.

But the gas plant makes the grid stable. So we'll need gas fired generators in the interim to stabilize the grid. As more and more wind and solar are added, and more demand destruction occurs, the gas fired generator will be needed less and less. Nevertheless the stability of the grid can not be ignored or neglected.

The stop-start nature of gas plant operation due to preferential grid uptake of wind and solar coupled with high European gas prices makes the plant unprofitable.

Some thing doesn't smell quite right with this whole story...

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's green energy drive is proving surprisingly good for dirty brown coal as utilities squeezed by rival renewables and low wholesale gas prices use more of it.

...And it is coal that is winning out because German utilities can turn a profit using it to generate electricity, something they are failing to do with gas.

"Gas-fired capacity is being crowded out by wind and solar and, paradoxically, by coal-fired capacity," E.ON Chief Executive Johannes Teyssen said last month.

So do I understand correctly that gas prices despite being high are still too low to be profitable compared to lignite? So which is it, low gas prices or high gas prices?!

Anyways it's simple we can't continue to allow dirty coal use because it is only profitable if the environmental costs are externalized. I bet the Germans eventually figure that out and start taxing the heck out of it.

Best hopes for ethical adults making policy!

"That Friend speaks my mind", as the quakers say. Right on, Fred.

And to continue the train of thought. Is it true or is it not true that solar/wind costs are going down, below ff right now in some places, and cannot do anything but go down more, as any new tech does, while ff costs are going up, as any resource limited thing has to do?

If that is true, it's a revolution happening right now, worthy of a huge amount of attention here. And if it is not true, it's worth a huge amount of attention here as to why not.

I don't see either. Why not?

Now, having made my little offering to adult ethical behavior on this sunday morning, I'm going out to the shop and play with my whizz-bang bicycle automatic transmission, which I am keeping a deep secret until I prove or disprove its efficacy, which I doubt/don't doubt.

I know a bit more about the economics of lignite/brown coal in Australia as Victoria's Latrobe Valley is said to have 800 years of reserves. The minemouth price of brown coal is or was $6/t containing just 10 GJ/mmbtu of thermal energy, about half that of bituminous coal. Call it 60c per GJ. However the local wholesale natgas price is about $5 per GJ, over 8 times higher.

The Australian carbon tax is $23/tCO2 but will increase slightly in July. According to the cited article in Germany lignite produces 1.2 t CO2 compared to 0.4 t CO2 per Mwh (or 0.28 GJ) for combined cycle gas. Assume the thermal-to-electrical conversion efficiency is the same for both fuels at 40% ie we need 2.5X the thermal input. If you're still following the (raw fuel cost + carbon tax) per GJ is
lignite $0.60/0.4 + (1.2)($23)(0.28) = $1.50 + $7.73 = $9.23
gas $5.00/0.4 + (0.4)($23)(0.28) = $12.50 + $2.58 = $15.08
Dirtier is cheaper even after CO2 penalties.

Dirtier is cheaper! Only if you don't count the cost to the biosphere.

Even after C02 penalties? Doesn't that just mean they aren't high enough?

Or are all those voices from the atmospheric scientists yelling ever louder that we have to quit putting carbon in the atmosphere just wrong? If they are, shouldn't we have some definitive proof- published up on the top every day??

Or, am I living in a madhouse?

Hi Boof, your ultra-simplified analysis lacks the simple fact that you need a power plant to convert the coal or NG to electricity. Old coal power plants like the ones in Victoria must soon be replaced with new. These are much more expensive on a unit output basis than NG power plants. This more than compensates for the raw fuel input price and CO2 price effects. And while I am on the subject, NG plants are more flexible than coal, and therefore new NG PPs will be prefered to new coal PPs as the low-cost but non-dispatchable PV and wind continue to take marker share.

First aspect, in the past NG replaced coal, mainly hard coal, because NG was cheaper. Now, with high NG prices some of the NG capacity is switched off and replaced by coal again, NG hardware (non CC) is cheap, coal capacity is still avaiable in large amounts, therefore, the utilities are quite flexible. Yes one kWh from lignite or hard coal is much cheaper in Germany than one kWh from NG. 2012 NG lost 14% of its market share.

The second aspect is, that the peak production from PV is only a few hours per day but during peak demand times. As result, the utilities can sell without problem a part of their excess coal production during peak times to customers in neighbour countries, where German coal power replaces now NG or other ff sources, or as European net effect, renewables replace to a certain extend NG, not only coal and nuclear power.

The major issue is that CO2 certificates are too cheap because of the economic crisis and the coal lobby (this includes Germany and Poland) have successfully prevented a reduction of the number of certificates.

Do you have the same sort of thing going on in Germany as the UK?

Old coal power stations that don't meet emissions regulations were given a grace period in which they could continue to operate and a quota of power that they could produce in that time. When the time is up, or the quota exhausted, they have to close. Most of them used the quota up as fast as they could, creating an apparent coal boom, which is in the process of vanishing as they close.

IIRC some old lignite power plants were transfered last year into the Kaltreserve ("cold reserve", i.e. it takes a few days to get them on-line) which consists of power plants that are only used for a few hours a year on avarage.

In Germany, the "coal boom" in case of hard coal (+5%) is mainly caused by the replacement of NG, usually the utilities have enough modern capacity, therefore, they use them.

The picture for lignite is unclear, because until next year nobody can tell for sure what is result of real increase in lignite consumption, what is a result of much higher efficiency of the new plants (43% vs. 30%) and what is a temporary book keeping effect. Around 12% of the lignite power capacity was replaced in 2012.

The advantage of modern coal power plants is that they are quite flexible and can follow the reneables.

That's the core of the problem; the CO2 price needs to be set higher than anybody wants to pay. Australia's carbon tax is $23 per tCO2 then increases to $24.15 mid year. It should be more like $50. However there are so many exemptions, free permits, compensation packages and miscellaneous freebies it works out on average to just a couple of dollars. Soon cheap European 'certified' offsets will be allowed in Australia. In my opinion some of these carbon credits are fraudulent in that they don't represent globally new absolute emissions reductions.

If the CO2 penalty was higher (say $50/tCO2) then gas power could compete with lignite and wind power may not need subsidies or quotas. No country has the cojones to do this.

If Carbon was $1 or $1000 a ton I'd still have issues with the 70% going to overhead VS actual Carbon reduction projects.

Why should Carbon taxing be a money grab for the connected like Goldman sachs?

China's H1 power consumption growth

Total electricity consumption is expected to rise between 5.5 percent and 6.5 percent year on year in the first half of the year and pick up further at a pace of 6.5-8.5 percent for the full year, the CEC said in an annual industrial report.


Yet Wang warned of some bad factors affecting the country's power supply. He said climate change and extreme weather will increasingly weigh on the country's power grids.

See: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2013-04/28/content_16459382.htm


Patrick Brown: China's gathering environmental storm
Earthquakes, polluted air, cancer clusters may threaten the ruling regime's 'mandate of heaven'

The relationship between the country's rulers and the natural world looms large in traditional Chinese thought. Dynasties have risen and fallen on their handling of things like irrigation and flood control, and natural disasters have been interpreted almost as nature's commentary on the quality of governance.


The Communist Party clings to the rhetoric of Mao's revolution as the foundation of its one-party rule. But for the past 35 years it has staked its legitimacy on the free market and a policy of breakneck development and relentless economic growth.

Recent weeks, however, have seen growing and unprecedented public concern about the price being paid in poisoned water, polluted soil, unbreathable air and contaminated food.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/04/22/f-vp-brown-china-environme...

It would seem that we do, indeed, live in interesting times.


It seems that one European company believes that the US is neglecting to develop one of its renewable energy resources completely, Texan mesquite wood pellets.


Whilst it is true that some European utilities are beginning to burn biomass to generate electricity, I'm not quite sure that it would be viable to import such biomass from the US.

Now if only wood pellets could be supplied by pipeline :)

Wasn't mesquite feared to be endangered just a few years back, -back when cooked over an open mesquite fire became a food fad. I doubt there is all that much of it. The California ISO site has lines for biomass and biogas on its renewables chart, they are in the 200-300MW range.

In this essay, the author argues that austerity measures are not only ineffective, but counter-productive. He recommends against the U.S. adopting deep austerity measure, and recommend for well-though ought government investments in infrastructure, etc.


I am taken aback that the author, as so many other authors before him who opine on how to 'fix' economic situations and promote growth, does not mention, even passingly, any limits to growth considerations...resource sources and pollution sinks, and the impact of the ever-growing planetary population, especially considering the striving of more and more people to increase their consumption of goods and services.

My 2-cents on possible reasons that the number of posts on TOD has declined and why some people have expressed their dissatisfaction with the types of posts (I have monitored and at time participated in TOD comments for ~ seven years:

- It seems that most everything that can be said about the topics on TOD has been said...often many times over. Of course there is always new information posted, but many of the analysis and opinion positions offered are various on the same themes. Such is the way of things.

- An adjunct to the above is (my surmise) many posters realize after a fashion that they continue to post the same statements/assertions/opinions from their soap box/wheel house, and they grow weary of that and move on, or other people grow weary of reading the information, and they move on.

- TOD has a history of having certain personalities, sometimes many people at once, jumping all over people, newbies included, who post opinions/statement/assertions that are outside the 'norm' in the TOD-o-sphere. Reason forbid anyone dare post words that indicate interest in nuclear power, or EVs, lest they be lambasted as BAU-cornocopian polyannas by certain folks who have a more doomer-ish worldview...many of whom wish fervently for a global epiphany and subsequent power-down and a move in the direction of a World Made by Hand. Do not assume that I am a nuclear enthusiast who believes BAU will continue just dandy because I posted this comment...you would be mistaken. My point is that there is a tendency for some here to be rather strident and absolutist when presented with viewpoints that do not conform with theirs...and I am not talking about this manner being presented against the occasional true trolls who show up here. I am not saying that people should not voice their opinions, but perhaps some folks could amend their sometimes condescending or even hostile tones.

- Perhaps a reason why some old-timers have become a little more short with 'views of others' is a frustration that a definitive 'a-ha' PO/LTG awareness moment has not manifest itself amongst humanity...I remember quite clearly when there were numerous 'shark-fin' oil production graphs posted here which depicted a substantial fall-off in annual oil production come about 2010. Over time those types of prediction migrated to circa 2012, now 2015, with some predictions of 2020. Don't get me wrong, this day will come, but I perceive that some people here are increasingly upset that their predictions have not come true (yet!) and indeed have been mocked by the cornocopians in the media.

- There are a few posters here who are downright worrysome...people who surface occasionally and declare that humans are a cancer on the planet and then either directly or indirectly state their preference for humans to undergo profound collapse in their numbers and a commensurate return to primitive lifestyles...I would bet there are many people who don't want to post (or even visit) on a site that has such posts for fear of being found suspect by association with these people. There was even a guy who once posted some topics from some newsletter he promulgated...topics that made my hair stand on end...fortunately the site mods did delete that material almost immediately after it was posted, and the offending poster (I forget his name) either stopped posting or chose not to post any more of his sketchy survivalist topics of interest.

- There exist some other web sites which address LTG topics which offer other focuses and formats, including focus on things that people can actually accomplish to alter their lifestyles and circumstances, which no doubt have drawn some peoples' scarce time away from TOD.

These are just some of my thoughts, and I would like to say that I appreciate TOD and most of its posters.

Reason forbid anyone dare post words that indicate interest in nuclear power, or EVs, lest they be lambasted as BAU-cornocopian polyannas

So far in today's EV discussion no one has bothered to ask 'and what about the roads' if somehow all the other 'problems' of EVs are solved.

Now there lacks a statement of, say eMergy or watts needed for each unit of road with X property. Because even if batteries are solved/addressed, a power grid of electricity allows the same kind refilling users are used to would be met exactly how?

Swapping liquid fuel with electrons is only a start for EVs - how are the road making and powercables going to be made without oil?

Rockman was the best at explaining tipping points with Nat Gas, oil and when, why rigs come online. Water, air, roads about anything will follow the same path. At a point the fix is cheaper than the problem, we will adjust behavior. If roads cannot be paid by fuel I am sure there will be a tax on miles driven or some such thing. If too much PV won't support a grid, we will figure out a way to pay for it. I am sure if the thought of 7 billion humans being alive at the same time was brought up 200 years ago they would be thought of as crazy. From what I read we will get to 10 billion. Just a perspective of 1 of 7 billion.

"So far in today's EV discussion no one has bothered to ask 'and what about the roads' if somehow all the other 'problems' of EVs are solved."

I was going to cool the jets after accidentally hijacking the conversation the past few 'beats, but I can't let this one go.


Asphalt Listeni/ˈæsfɔːlt/ or /ˈæʃfɔːlt/ or /ˈæsʃfɛlt/, also known as bitumen (/ˈbɪtʃʊmən/), is a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum.


Oil sands, tar sands or, more technically, bituminous sands, are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The oil sands are loose sand or partially consolidated sandstone containing naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, and water, saturated with a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen (or colloquially tar due to its similar appearance, odour and colour). Natural bitumen deposits are reported in many countries, but in particular are found in extremely large quantities in Canada.[1][2]

The Oil Sands’ Surprising New Nemesis: Plug-in Vehicles

That’s a 13 kwh of grid electricity that could have been delivered to your wall socket from the energy used to produce each gallon of oil sands based gasoline under ideal conditions. This doesn’t take into account the energy used in finding, developing and finally repairing the environmental damage of the oil sands operation.

Accounting for average battery charge efficiency (see EPA sticker for each car), how much above the 23 mpg average can the new technology cars go on 13 kwhs from your wall socket? That’s enough electricity for the Chevy Volt to go 37 miles, the same distance it can go burning the gasoline. The Nissan Leaf can go 38 miles, and the Tesla Model S 34 Miles.

What this means is...we're mining road building material from Canada and dumping a lot of natural gas and electricity into it to make it into gasoline and diesel. We could skip those steps, use the road building material we're mining in Canada to build roads, and use the rest of the energy that's wasted in upgrading it to gasoline (to burn in a one-time junkie-rush) and just run the cars/buses. While we're at it, lets get that electricity from PV instead of coal and natural gas.

There are much better grounds to attack car culture on than where we're getting the roads from.

Brilliant. Much food (energy) for thought (the otherwise depressed attitude). Thanks.

lets say oil sands == road stuff.

What about the transport costs from the field in its raw form VS the cost of refining the product or a sand-seperated product shipped/piped and using local sand/gravel?

(and who says asphalt is the correct road building material? Sometime this month there was a British lawmaker complaining that the old Roman roads were NOW causing failure/needing to be replaced under modern roads. Any road subsurface that lasted 2, 000 years seems like it was alright by me)

Roman roads would last another 2000 years, if the type and quantity of traffic they were built for still applied.
Lets see how they stand up to a vehicle every 5 seconds including 50 tonne, ten axle trucks travelling at seventy mph.

And if my memory of road lore is correct Asphalt roads are used because of price, not quality.

What value exists in disposable roads VS spending a bit more to make the roads last?

It depends on the environment.

Concrete can be very durable in desert areas. Much of the highway system was built of concrete with the idea that it would last longer, but that turned out to be untrue, at least in the colder areas of the country. The slabs of concrete "heave," creating those bumps every 66 feet at the pavement joints, there's cracking, spalling, polishing, etc.

In places with freeze-thaw cycles, "flexible" pavements like asphalt are more durable. If money were no object, we'd probably use "perpetual pavements" everywhere. These are massively thick flexible pavements - like 2' or more of asphalt over 5' of sub base. They are so thick that they can withstand heavy truck traffic just about forever. You just have to replace the top layer every once in awhile, to keep surface cracks/rutting from propagating down.

One of our local roads is being replaced. The original asphalt was about 2-3 inches thick and, basically, laid on dirt. It developed ruts up to a foot deep and potholes feet across. The replacement is several, I think 6, inches of concrete on a base of stone and earth with lime mixed in. I must say that the new surface is much more comfortable for cycling, I'm glad they took the trouble.


Any ideas that do not gird a society’s foundational beliefs in technological progress and religious salvation are anathema to minds so possessed and aggressively rejected. The commerce of most minds, influenced mostly by emotional considerations of pleasure and pain, good and evil, friend or foe defy reason in exchange for soothing mental nostrums. Civilization, in my view, is not just a “cancer” but is the most aggressive, contaminating and lethal type of cancer ever to arise within a complex adaptive system. I am relatively certain that “control” will not be successfully imposed upon humans whose behavioral tendencies underlie unrestrained reproduction and economic growth. Huge swaths of the natural world and its species will continue to be traded for temporary comforts, edifices of everlasting life, and the various infrastructures of cancerous growth until the ecosystem begins an overwhelming collapse in complexity and severs the umbilical to its malformed offspring. This is not at all a happy story and its anticipation will not deliver a sustaining dose of dopamine, as anticipation of heavenly deliverance, earthly riches and technological utopia are apt to do.

But, by all means keep your blinders on as you go about your business of growing and enjoying your privileged life and I hope you never have to endure the malignant cells that may someday wreak havoc within your own system - kindred spirits in the universe.

Eric and Dopamine,


The two of you have managed to both miss my point (of where 'I am coming from' [hint: I am not a cornocopian]) and make one of my other points...I love the 'blinders' and 'privileged life' assertions (Dopamine)...you don't know me from Adam, and I do not know you. We can, however, assert that everyone who posts (and reads) this board is privileged to a certain extant, as evidenced by their (usually continual) access to the Internet, and their free time to engage in the reading and/or writing.

Don't bother to reply, I am presently getting off youse guys' lawns!


"We can, however, assert that everyone who posts (and reads) this board is privileged to a certain extant, as evidenced by their (usually continual) access to the Internet, and their free time to engage in the reading and/or writing."

I can't assert that. There have been regular posters here that were essentially homeless, posting on an old laptop at the library, or tapping some open hot spot. It doesn't take 'privilege' to access the internet these days. I gave an old laptop to a dying Viet Nam vet who lives in a 30-year-old RV behind a friend's barn; uses their connection. He's using Facebook to reconnect with family and friends before his cancer takes him. Privileged? [he probably thinks so]

Even if we're unlucky in another corner, having a working computer and an internet connection is a thing we should recognize as an invaluable tool and certainly a priviledge. (Not that it doesn't have 'yah, buts' to it.

Either way, I think his point is valid enough, as he is advocating for some attention to civility.. a privilege we only get when we all manage to keep it going together.. it crashes easier than Windows.

I personally find that the 'sky is falling' vibe I get from this place can be a bit of a downer sometimes. I don't read TOD to put me in a good mood that's for sure.

Thanks for your thoughts, Oskar. You put them forward very plain and direct.

It's a tough balance between having a lively back and forth, but trying to avoid the sneering and jeering that intense topics lead us into..

.. as the Joker reminds us in The Batman Movie.. 'Careful now, each of these boys has a mutha!'

I like dates that appear to put an end or start a beginning to sum'n.


TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 24, 2013) - ZENN Motor Company Inc. (TSX VENTURE:ZNN) ("ZENN" or the "Company"), reported today that it has entered into an agreement with EEStor, Inc. of Cedar Park, Texas ("EEStor") providing for the testing of recently produced layers of its electrical energy storage units by an independent testing laboratory that has been selected upon consultation between EEStor and ZENN.

Under the agreement, testing is to be completed and reported on by May 27, 2013. Testing will include capacitance over a range of voltages as well as dissipation factor, layer thickness, dielectric layer thickness, resistance, capacitor area, energy density and leakage current. ZENN will be provided full access to the independent testing experts as well as the certification report.

As part of the agreement, ZENN has agreed to invest an initial US$50,000 in common stock of EEStor and an additional US$100,000 in its discretion if it is satisfied with the results of the independent testing.

Goes finds a quart of motor oil and pours it out on the curb for Antidoomer

EEStor is a bit of a running joke in the EV community. They've been promising these miracle ulstracapacitors for many years now. Always doing more refining and testing . . . nothing ever gets produced except press releases. $50K and $100K? I don't even understand such numbers. That doesn't even pay for the compensation of a single engineer.

Plenty of reason to be down on EEStor.

And ol' man Weir may never be able to deliver the EV grade capacitor-as-battery.

If he can make something that lasts as long as Nickel Iron with better capacity and less cost he'd still have a sellable product.

And yea - I don't get the 50/100K amounts but I'd like to see some 3rd party state that the capacitors are better than average. Or work.

A fantastic piece, as always, from Jeremey Grantham, on our best hopes of avoiding collapse:


Most of the truly beautiful, awe inspiring places on this planet are suffering, at the least, fragmentation from the incursion of people and the extraction industry. Those few that are not are being changed directly are often indirectly altered by climate change. I think Grantham is right in that we are probably too pessimistic about outright collapse. But I don't know what quality of life the surviving billion or two will have. The Rio Tinto's, BHP's and APP's (Asia Pulp and Paper) of this world will get their diggers and bulldozers into the remaining unspoilt places in the next few decades alone because no one considers tearing giant holes in the earth and chopping down forest to be anything to be worried about, much to my continual amazement. On the contrary, they cheers it for keeping them in the style to which they have become accustomed.

Inside Nissan's $300 million battery factory

That article is pretty useless (and confused at one part . . . batteries generating heat is not a problem, batteries being over-charged or shorting out and causing a fire is rare but potentially serious problem for bad designs). But one use factoid was this:

The battery factory is operating at less than one-third capacity -- but Nissan most assuredly will introduce more electric models: Ghosn sees the trend as part of his legacy.The battery factory is operating at less than one-third capacity -- but Nissan most assuredly will introduce more electric models: Ghosn sees the trend as part of his legacy.

I believe it is operating at a capacity of even less than that. We have the ability to crank out EVs . . . people just don't want them because they are expensive up-front, have limited range, are slow to refuel, and gasoline remains pretty cheap. But we can crank them out now if/when people want them. It is nice to know that there is a plan B out there.

The Dark Side of Energy Independence
Unintentionally amusing NY Times Op-Ed about the consequences of U.S. crude production
1) exceeding that of Saudi Arabia by 2017, thereby
2) driving world oil prices to $50/bbl, which would
3) destabilize mid-Eastern governments, including KSA, meaning
4) in spite of becoming energy-independent (by 2030), the U.S. will still have a vital role to play bringing peace and stability to the volatile and chaotic Middle Eastern nations, especially those who rely on oil revenues to placate their unruly and dissatisfied masses.

The authors are editors at Foreign Affairs. Interesting train of thought, but they should take a harder look at the premises undergirding the whole flimsy construction. There might be very little holding it up.

- Dick Lawrence

That is hilarious. They might as well be talking about who could win a fight between Mickey Mouse and Superman.