Drumbeat: May 18, 2013

Energy Department approves expanded LNG exports

The Energy Department gave a terminal near Freeport, Tex., permission Friday to ship liquefied natural gas to Japan, providing a new outlet for rising U.S. production of shale gas despite qualms of environmentalists and many domestic manufacturers.

The permit marks another step in the sudden reversal of fortune in the natural gas business. Less than five years ago, anticipating a worsening shortfall in domestic supplies of natural gas, the Freeport terminal on Quintana Island began operations as an import facility.

But advances in hydraulic fracturing techniques have unlocked new supplies of natural gas from shale rock. Freeport, like other import terminals, now wants to spend $10 billion to retool the terminal so it can send gas abroad in liquefied form.

US DOE Approves Second US LNG Export Project to Non-FTA Countries

The US Department of Energy has authorized Freeport LNG Expansion, L.P. and FLNG Liquefaction, LLC (Freeport) to export LNG to so called non-Free Trade Agreement (non-FTA) countries. Subject to environmental review and final regulatory approval, Freeport is conditionally authorized to export up to 1.4 (Bcf/d) for a period of 20 years.

Despite lacking FTA, Japan to get U.S. LNG

NEW YORK – The United States said Friday it will allow exports of domestically produced liquefied natural gas to Japan and other countries to which it is not bound by free-trade agreements, authorizing a plan to deliver shale and other gases from Texas.

WTI Crude Rises on Speculation Growth Will Boost Demand

West Texas Intermediate crude advanced to a one-week high on signals that global economic growth will accelerate, bolstering fuel consumption.

Futures increased 0.9 percent as the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment rose to 83.7 in May, higher than any projection in a Bloomberg survey. A government report yesterday showed Japanese gross domestic product grew 3.5 percent at an annualized pace, the most in a year.

Soaring gasoline prices hurt Oklahoma City area retailers

Ballard owns the Varsity Valero and Guzzlers convenience stores in Purcell.

Two years ago, he spent $500 to upgrade his signs so they can display prices above $4. He said he hopes he doesn't have to use them. But with wholesale prices soaring as much as 70 cents a gallon in the past five weeks, there seems to be no end in sight.

Convenience store owners throughout the state are facing the same challenge.

Pemex Makes Third Ultra-Deep Find at Mexico Gulf Maximino Field

Petroleos Mexicanos, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, made its third ultra-deepwater discovery on the Mexican side of the Perdido basin in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tests at the Maximino field where the crude was found are still being made and volumes are being assessed, Luis Ramos, a strategic planning manager at the Mexican state-owned oil producer’s exploration unit, told reporters in Rio de Janeiro today, declining to give any estimate.

Afghanistan to begin first commercial oil production

Afghanistan expects to begin the first commercial oil production in its history in a little under two months.

The country's mining minister, Wahidullah Shahrani, has told the ABC processing will start at the Amu Darya basin in Afghanistan's north in July.

The project is operated by the China National Petroleum Corporation and is expected to eventually supply Afghanistan with its domestic energy needs so it can stop importing oil.

Afghanistan turns to Australia for mining expertise

Australia could help Afghanistan develop its fledgling mining industry and tap into mineral and energy reserves estimated to be worth trillions of dollars.

The country is eager to find a new source of revenue when international aid starts to decline and foreign forces withdraw next year.

Liberia's Johnson-Sirleaf defends governance record

Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Africa's first freely elected female president in 2006, has won international acclaim for her "zero tolerance" stance against corruption and for turning around a country devastated by 14 years of sporadic civil war that ended in 2003.

Since then, Liberia's enormous resource wealth has attracted a flood of interest from foreign investors. The government has signed major mining and oil contracts including a $1.5 billion deal with Anglo-Australian miner BHP. It has also signed offshore deals with Chevron Petroleum and Exxon Mobil.

Ten Years After Invasion, Iraq Continues to Import Oil Products

Former Iraqi oil minister Issam al-Jalabi says that although Iraq is an oil-rich country, it still imports petroleum products from abroad to meet its needs 10 years after the US-led invasion of the country.

Jalabi, an international energy expert, told Azzaman that annual imports of oil derivatives reached $6 billion a few years after the occupation.

Iran Wants More Money From You

Americans spent more money on gasoline in 2012 than in any other year... ever. Meanwhile, here in 2013, retail gasoline prices spiked to $3.60 a gallon on average -- $3.94 on the West Coast -- the sharpest rise in prices seen in the past three months. And Iran is happy to hear it.

In fact, if the Islamic Republic has anything to say about it, Americans could wind up paying even more for gas than we already do. Right now, a barrel of benchmark crude costs about $95. But over the weekend, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi was quoted arguing that "the price of crude oil [should] remain at about $100." Ghasemi thinks that price "is fair, and Iran supports it."

Turkey not halting Iran oil imports

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara has not yet made any decision on cutting oil imports from Iran, despite US pressure to hinder the Tehran-Ankara energy cooperation.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Friday, the Turkish premier said the level of oil imports from Iran depends on his country’s energy demand.

South Korea reduces crude imports from Iran by half in April

Baku. Real Jafarli – South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest oil importer, cut crude shipments from Iran by 51 percent in April from a year earlier, customs data show, APA reports quoting Bloomberg.

Pakistan wheat for Iran to pay electricity bill

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad has authorised the export of 100,000 tonnes of wheat to Iran in trade not jeopardised by Western sanctions, to settle dues for electricity supplied to Pakistan’s energy-starved border areas, the Commerce Ministry said yesterday.

Van Rompuy voices concern at Europe's 'energy dilemma'

European council president Herman Van Rompuy has voiced concern about Europe's "energy dilemma".

Opening the European business summit in Brussels on Wednesday, he said, "It's now becoming clear; eventually Europe may well be the only continent in the world to depend on imported energy.

"Already by 2035 our dependence on oil and gas imports will reach more than 80 per cent.

"This will have an impact on the competitiveness of our companies, and of our economy as a whole."

Iranian President Could Attend Russia’s Gas Forum in July

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) – Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad is expected to visit Russia in July to attend the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), a spokesman for Iran’s Embassy in Moscow said on Saturday.

The Iranian leader has accepted Russia’s invitation to attend the event. “Now we are working on this visit, but the final decision has yet to be made,” the spokesman told RIA Novosti.

Why Venezuela is running out of toilet paper

Right now, the scarcity index in Venezuela is at 21 percent — meaning that out of 100 basic goods, 21 of them aren't available on store shelves. Lines for commodities like milk, sugar, cooking oil, corn flour used to make arepas, and, yes, toilet paper, can often stretch down the block.

The flip-side of state-controlled prices, writes the BBC's Irene Caselli, is that poor Venezuelans can afford foods that they couldn't before. A kilogram of pasta costs 30 cents at government-run supermarkets. At private markets, it costs 10 times as much.

That has led to a drop in the number of Venezuelans who are undernourished, to less than 5 percent today, from 15 percent in 1999, according to the BBC.

Oil-price manipulation: the next Libor?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Some of the world's biggest oil companies may have a new mess on their hands.

The European Commission raided the offices of Shell, BP and Norway's Statoil this week as part of an investigation into suspected attempts to manipulate global oil prices spanning more than a decade.

None of the companies have been accused of wrongdoing, but the controversy has brought back memories of the Libor rate-rigging scandal that rocked the financial world last year.

Wall Street Wins Rollback in Dodd-Frank Swap-Trade Rules

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and the world’s largest banks won rollbacks in final Dodd-Frank Act rules that promise to transform the private swaps market by increasing competition.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission voted 4-1 in Washington today on rules determining how buyers and sellers must trade credit-default, interest-rate and commodity swaps in a $633 trillion global market. The rule weakened a proposal by reducing the number of price quotes buyers must seek on swap-execution facilities after banks and asset managers said a five-quote requirement was onerous and would impair trading.

South Stream to be Realized

The Chief Executive of the South Stream Transport has brushed aside concerns over economic viability and technological challenges, stating that project to transport natural gas from Russia to the European Union is on schedule to be built by the end of 2015.

“It’s a reality,” Marcel Kramer told Reuters, adding that the company was close to concluding financing for the $39 billion project by early 2014.

These 3 Stocks Will Continue to Surge During the Shale Revolution

Shale gas is a game changer. We are in the very early innings of this process and investors still have ample opportunity to position their portfolio to capitalize on the phenomenon. Stocks poised to benefit have already made strong moves, but substantial upside remains if one takes a patient, long-term approach. This is a secular story that will play out over the next decade. Thus certain stocks stand poised to reap outsized gains in the next decade, but they will still be at the whim of market psychology and prone to substantial volatility over short-term periods. Gains certainly won’t be realized in a steady pattern and most likely via large upside moves followed by sharp pullbacks. But at the end of the day, the equities listed below will likely make the list of ten-year outperformers.

BP, Transocean Are Sued by Texas Over 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

Texas sued BP Plc, Transocean Ltd. and others involved in the 2010 oil spill, calling it the “worst environmental disaster” in U.S. history and becoming the fifth Gulf of Mexico state to file claims.

The state accused the companies of violating Texas environmental laws, and is seeking damages for economic loss, including lost tax revenue, as well as for harm to natural resources. Texas asked for civil penalties for every day of oil discharge and every barrel that was dumped into the gulf.

A Black Mound of Canadian Oil Waste Is Rising Over Detroit

WINDSOR, Ontario — Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River.

Detroit’s ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands boom.

Scaled-Back U.S. Fracking Rule Draws Qualified Praise

Oil and gas industry representatives offered qualified support for a U.S. proposal to govern hydraulic fracturing on public lands that establishes federal oversight while deferring to state standards in some cases.

Shell Reported Power Outage, Issues at Anacortes Refinery

Royal Dutch Shell reported a power outage earlier this week at its Puget Sound refinery in Anacortes, Wash., and subsequent issues while restarting units, according to a filing with the Northwest Clean Air Agency released Friday.

Enron's Jeff Skilling doesn't deserve a break

The man behind the firm's massive collapse is seeking to shave as much as 10 years from his prison term. That would perpetuate a culture of fraud in the boardroom.

Commuter Train Wreck Injures Dozens, Curbs Amtrak Service

Two Metro-North Railroad commuter trains collided in Bridgeport, Connecticut, injuring dozens of people and limiting Amtrak service between New York and Boston in one of the worst U.S. passenger rail accidents since 2008.

Is There Room on the Road for These Alternative Cars?

Most of the world’s roads are dominated by only a few auto brands. However, there is a multitude of automakers on the fringe that are trying daring new things with their vehicles. The question is whether they can ever share the road with the leading manufacturers’ cars.

2012 record-breaking year for wind power

100 countries worldwide now produce electricity with wind power. So far, it's a boom that has mainly occurred in Asia, North America and Western Europe. Now, Eastern Europe and Latin America are getting involved.

Last year, more wind turbines were erected than ever before worldwide, according to statistics released today (16 May 2013) by the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) in Bonn, Germany.

Solar power a ray of hope for planet as carbon emissions rise

Wind and solar are on the way to becoming so cheap that Lovins says: "It doesn't matter if we never run out of oil: we won't want to burn it anymore."

It's a comforting thought, but renewable power still has to fight the battle against determined big oil paymasters of powerful politicians.

Planet Earth: A corporate world

Which are the biggest companies in the world? Which corporations control them? How does their power compare with states?

It’s the End of the World but We’ll Be Fine

It’s the end of the world as we know it, but the futurists feel fine. A new book explores the history of mass extinctions and how the human species can survive the next one. But will we survive?

Who does the Mississippi really belong to?

New Orleans — Consider this: It’s spring 2025 and Louisiana officials are preparing to open three diversions on the lower Mississippi River so fresh water and sediment can reach wetlands struggling to stay ahead of sea-level rise.

But the river has dropped to a record low, and the Port of New Orleans warns taking so much water from the river will ground ships downstream of Venice.

At the same time, salty Gulf water moving upstream against the low river threatens municipal water supplies, as well as cooling intakes at oil refineries, chemical plants and power stations. They want the diversions to stay shut.

Meanwhile, all three uses of the river could be disrupted if Arkansas is allowed to open a structure on the river to send millions of gallons of water to Western states willing to pay top dollar to relieve a drought devastating farms and cities.

Zombie climate sceptic theories survive only in newspapers and on TV

Like a cardiac monitor warning of a soon-to-be lifeless patient, for more than 20 years the red line hovers around zero showing barely a flicker of life. Cook says they expected to see a rising number of papers which had "no position" and didn't feel the need to state the obvious "just as geographers find no reason to remind readers that the earth is round".

In other words, the alternative arguments about the causes of global warming were already dead or dying 20 years ago.

Yet since then, climate science contrarians/deniers/sceptics have continually applied the defibrillator paddles to these failing theories in an attempt to bring them back to life.

Busting the carbon budget: Kemp

(Reuters) - Budgets are made to be broken - especially when they are written by politicians.

Unfortunately it seems the world is on course to break the carbon budget that scientists and policymakers agree is necessary to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

UK's climate change adaptation team cut from 38 officials to just six

The number of people employed by the government to work on the UK's response to the effects of climate change has been cut from 38 officials to just six, triggering accusations that David Cameron's promise to be the greenest government has been abandoned.

Ignoring the cost of climate change is bad business

In the financial markets, volatility is rising and all manner of derivatives are employed to hedge against potentially catastrophic losses. In the real world, the climate is becoming more volatile, yet cities and businesses – make that entire industries – are doing little to protect themselves from extreme weather.

China opposes EU's aviation emissions levy

Beijing (IANS) China has opposed the European Union's (EU) unilateral decision to incorporate international flights originating from countries outside of the EU into its carbon trading scheme, reported Xinhua.

Forget pipelines – Canada must prepare for a post-carbon world

Although many in Canada, both in the oil industry and government, may prefer to pretend that there are no climate-related limits, the rest of the world (and many Canadians) are waking up to the fact that projected global warming – due overwhelming to our emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels – poses a real and serious threat to the future well-being of the entire human race and of all life on this planet.

Rebuilding the Coastline, but at What Cost?

When a handful of retired homeowners from Osborn Island in New Jersey gathered last month to discuss post-Hurricane Sandy rebuilding and environmental protection, L. Stanton Hales Jr., a conservationist, could not have been clearer about the risks they faced.

“I said, look people, you built on a marsh island, it’s oxidizing under your feet — it’s shrinking — and that exacerbates the sea level rise,” said Dr. Hales, director of the Barnegat Bay Partnership, an estuary program financed by the Environmental Protection Agency. “Do you really want to throw good money after bad?”

Their answer? Yes.


Obama admin endorses Texas LNG export project; 2nd project to get Energy Dept. backing

WASHINGTON - The Energy Department on Friday conditionally approved a Texas company's proposal to export liquefied natural gas, only the second such project allowed to move forward amid a production boom that has led to glut of domestic natural gas.

Wow, such a glut of NG the US has become an exporter with a 2nd LNG port. I wonder for how many years that port will be exporting LNG.

Clearing the way for corporate do-gooders

For years, traditional corporate concepts forced boards of directors and company officers, often perceived as money-driven "bad guys," to consider only profitability and shareholder returns in decision-making. While this may be true in certain cases, it is also true that these so-called bad guys can actually be held liable for allowing such external factors as social concerns or the environment to influence decisions affecting shareholder returns.

Modern American consumers, however, drive hybrid cars, eat organic produce and trust companies that claim a commitment to social and environmental accountability. The fundamental incompatibility between the traditional corporate form and the modern preference for environmentally sound and socially responsible products has left many socially conscious companies in the midst of an identity crisis -- shouldn't the companies supplying these products, the corporate "good guys," be permitted to demonstrate their commitment to the same values?

Connecticut is seeking to resolve corporate America's moral dilemma through legislation permitting the formation of a new type of corporate entity, the Benefit Corporation, focused on maximizing social and financial profits. If passed into law, Governor's Bill No. 6356, An Act Concerning Benefit Corporations and Encouraging Social Enterprise, will add Connecticut to a growing list of 15 states that now permit directors of certain corporations to consider not only shareholder profits, but also social and environmental accountability in corporate decision making.

What is a benefit corporation?

This article is really quite the propaganda piece.

Modern American consumers, however, drive hybrid cars, eat organic produce and trust companies that claim a commitment to social and environmental accountability

These products do not exist because the corporation has a social conscience, they exist because the management thought it would be profitable - if not directly then indirectly in terms of image and increased sales on other products. But I do think a lot of Americans really believe such tripe about corporations.

But I do think a lot of Americans really believe such tripe about corporations.

How many Americans do you know? I live in California and don't know any that trust companies that claim a commitment to social and environmental accountability, unless it's backed up by clear actions. A corp. just trying to look green via an ad campaign or other ploy the people I know can read through easy enough. Of course I run with an educated crowd, so can't speak for the whole country.

The crowds you don't run with tend to be the most receptive to trusting corporations - they certainly don't care about social conscience, but have bought into the "private enterprise is the ultimate good" meme and are the most easily manipulated. But I think there is a large portion of the population that don't think much at all about how they get the gadgets and popular items they have - these things just show up. An article like this is targeted at them - "Oh yeah, I can see how that would be a problem for the socially responsible corporations". There aren't any, as that is not the purpose of a corporation.

Oh, I don't know Twilight. While I think your comments revolving around whether or not the average consumer pays any attention to the source of their goods are pretty much spot on, I also think the development of the Benefit Corporation is not such a bad thing, if not outright good.

Sure, not many pay attention, but some do (the TOD crowd, p'raps, being an example, mebbe? ;), and amongst those who do there is at least some activity towards improving things. To change things from within, this is the sort of thing that might be helpful. The Traditional Corporation is locked into a legal quagmire of maximizing shareholder value as it's sole and exclusive goal, backed by force of law.

This is nasty, for all sorts of reasons (and not just environmental either). The Benefit Corporation looks to at least allow a structure which would permit a broader corporate mandate. Now whether it will be an effective way to implement change, or whether it will be viable in the market is anyone's guess, but at least it allows some flexibility in the board room that the Traditional Corp does not.

Another example of the quiet, largely under-the-radar attempts at change might be Bernie Sander's proposed Constitutional Amendment in the wake of the Citizen's United decision. Sure, it doesn't have a huge amount of support, or have a lot of chance, but it's a move towards rectifying a huge hole in our democracy. Might be something worth looking at.

At a local and personal level even a cynic like myself occasionally has fits of social conscience. I'm scheming with some local citizens on some sustainable development efforts here in Lake County, and I'm looking into the whole Transition Town concept. Not sure much will come of either, but it's a step.

All this in the context of a positive view this fine morning. FMagyar's post down thread about the birds, well, not so much, eh? :(

Damn. The yeast are still ahead. Gotta find a way to change that...

It would certainly be an improvement, but I think this is mostly a canard and an excuse for why corporations behave the way they do. The corporation has been an issue since the early days of the country, and even if the law is changed, I doubt it will matter much, as the reasons people set up corporations will still be the same.

Don't wish to sidetrack the conversion Twilight, but I look on corporations as mechanisms for speeding the use of materials and resources and as we are faced with collapse either quickly or slowly the 'bad' corporation speeds the process. I feel that the faster collapse occurs the less overall planetary damage will occur and so in that sense a corporation if run to it's maximum destructive potential is better for us then a do good one that goes at half speed but in that in real terms does more damage, but over a longer period.

I hear what you are saying, and sometimes I feel that way, but I don't think we know what will be better or worse.

I try to keep in mind that I am 142PPB of the problem, and even at that level of insignificance it is a surprising amount of work just to mitigate some of the damage my existence does. How much mental effort is it worth to try to figure out if having the machine collapse sooner or later is better when our ability to influence that is so limited?

I am a hypocrite - I have obligations to people alive now, and I feel obligations to those who will come after to be the best steward I can, and these often conflict. All one can do is live and adapt as best one can - try to bring some joy and love, appreciate the beauty that still remains, and try to leave something for those that may come after.

It isn't all hopeless as far as doing constructive things, but I think they should be done in the context of a collapsing civilization, but I hope not a completely collapsing Eco-system. For instance I am looking to the south for fruit trees to replace the ones I have which need a cold dormant period that they are no longer getting. Just call me Ignatz apple seed if you have a mind to.lol

Ignatz & Twilight. Interesting perspectives, hadn't looked at those ways. I feel that at least part of the way to reverse course, which is what I think needs to happen, is to regain some level of reasonable governance over the various institutions involved in our affairs. Both government and corporate governance have reached catastrophically unpleasant proportions, and they both play absolutely critical parts in how we're grinding up the planet.

I realize it's a long shot, but if we're going to do something positive, I think those two institutions are ripe for a bit of a change. An Amendment and a new legal framework to permit a wiser management structure could help. Again, long shot, but I do think those two changes could be turned to advantage.

We are living in a new gilded, perhaps super gilded age of incomprehensible wealth and unprecedented inequality accompanied with an aversion to governmental action of any sort. This is associated with faux scandals which just feed the narrative. Some semi cataclysmic crisis might change this but it is too late to get a second chance on issues like global warming.

"Another example of the quiet, largely under-the-radar attempts at change might be Bernie Sander's proposed Constitutional Amendment in the wake of the Citizen's United decision."

You might also want to keep an eye on Cenk Uygur's Wolf-Pac.


To restore true democracy in the United States by pressuring our State Representatives to pass a much needed 28th Amendment to our Constitution which would end corporate personhood and publicly finance all elections in our country. There are only 2 ways to amend the Constitution. (1) Go through our federal government (2) Go through our State Legislators via an Article V. Convention.

Wolf PAC believes that we can no longer count on our federal government to do what is in the best interest of the American people due to the unfettered amount of money they receive from outside organizations to fund their campaigns.

Their plan is to go State-by-State and get each one to call for a constitutional amendment. They might get some "freebie" states, but the plan is to concentrate on a single state at a time - knock off opponents in primary challenges if necessary, stack the deck, get it passed, and move on to the next state. It's really quite innovative.

If the United States, or Earth for that matter, is to have any sort of a future - getting corporate influence out of politics is a bare necessity.

Sub. Tanx. I was aware of them, but I'll revisit. I'm in agreement with the sentiment. Post Citizens, the only thing to do is an Amendment, unfortunately.

I just had an epiphany. Not exactly an epiphany epiphany, but an epiphany for a metaphor:

Back in the 70's there was this show, called The '6 Million Dollar Man'. He could lift cars and run almost as fast as them. Now, it had occurred to me, not too long after the show, that the first moment he tried to lift a car or run 100 km per hour, he would throw something off of his natural systems that was not part of the technology. For example, because he didn't seem to have had the technology forming a direct, unbroken line from his tech-arm to the ground, he might have risked cracking his spine the moment he tried to lift a car. Similarly, the moment he ran 100 km/hr, he might dislocate the joint that connects the leg to the pelvis, and crack the pelvis and lose the leg and probably other things as he tumbled over asphalt at 100 km/hr.

But I think this example can generally relate to technology-of-scale and how it interacts with nature as a whole. The implication is that any significantly complex technology (maybe even far less significantly complex) is fundamentally not going to work-- or, to be charitable, work well-- with the natural systems that it interfaces with, and may "break" them.

The implication is that any significantly complex technology (maybe even far less significantly complex) is fundamentally not going to work-- or, to be charitable, work well-- with the natural systems that it interfaces with, and may "break" them.

Yeah, like any attempt at Geoengineering to try and solve the climate change issue... If ever there was a stupid idea being floated out there, that has to be number one on the list.

I quite agree.

I think this bionic human is a profound enough, yet simple metaphor for people to understand and really think about:
In your example, if this metaphor has validity, its implication is that geoengineering is going to somehow "break" the system.

But I'm not just talking about geoengineering or course. I am talking about everything, including modern global-industrial civilization, electric vehicles, light-emitting diodes, or genetically modified organisms, etc.-- perhaps even nation-state systems and social tech.

I am talking about a fundamental natural constraint on much of our technology: Because we are not "God", we cannot interface/interact at a certain level-- perhaps beyond the personal/local-- with nature properly and never will be able to.

If you believe that we are not part of nature ("we cannot interface/interact with nature") and, thus, that we are not natural beings, and that we are not supernatural beings ("we are not God"), do you, then, believe that we are unnatural beings?

Naturally, we are part of nature, but we certainly are not its creators or managers, if there are such things. Perhaps that is what lends some especial ominousness to genetic pollution, for example.

We may be natural but we are also a pestilence and scourge upon the planet. We often talk about how we are in deep ecological overshoot and how there is no way in hell we can add another two billion humans to the planet and somehow feed them without fossil fuels, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers and all the negative consequences that entails.

Well, here's a real world example of one of those consequences!

Meet the World’s Largest Lethal Bird Trap

Since the time of the pharaohs, Egyptians have raised nets every autumn along the Mediterranean, to capture golden orioles, nightingales and corncrakes as they wing their way south for the winter. It's an ancient tradition, but in recent years the custom has gotten out of hand.

A few scattered nets along the coast have metastasized into a nearly impenetrable wall of traps, stretching almost without break from the Gaza strip in the east to the Libyan border in the west. Conservative estimates set the annual death toll of migratory birds in this area at 10 million, but others say it is probably an order of magnitude more.

In some areas, especially near Libya, the birds are caught for subsistence, by people who currently have no other way to feed themselves, but the vast majority, perhaps eighty percent of the birds trapped, are sold in markets as a pricey delicacy or hocked to high-end restaurants in Cairo for up to five euros for each slight songbird.

Can someone please cheer me up after reading that? Can we please get the religious and political leaders of the world to start massive campaigns promoting vasectomies, paying people not to have children and giving out condoms and birth control pills?! I'm almost hoping for a lethal bird flu virus to take care of the problem... to be clear if it takes me as well, so be it. It may be getting close to the time for many of us to go.

It doesn't seem useful to talk about natural phenomena with loaded terms like pestilence or scourge. If overshoot wasn't a viable adaptation, why would it have evolved in so many species?

Overshoot did not evolve as a viable adaptation. Overshoot is what happens when one species becomes a plague species and multiplies far beyond what a given area or niche can support long term.

Search: NOVA Rat Attack and you will see the perfect example of overshoot. Bamboo blooms and fruits once ever 48 years. And when it does it furnishes a banquet for rats. Rats multiply into the millions. Then after they have eaten all the bamboo fruit, they start eating the farmers rice crops. Then they die, they all die of starvation.

That is just what happens when any species suddenly finds itself with enough food that allows its population to explode. That is just what it does, that is what it always does. Then when the food is gone it dies off. That is what it does, that is what it always does. It happens in multiple species, not as a natural adaptation but as the result of an excess of food.

It would happen an any and every species, rats, mice, lemmings or humans, because every species produces more offspring than can possibly survive. But occasionally bamboo fruits or something else happens that furnishes a species an excess of food. This allows the population of that species to explode... and then die-off.

Ron P.

There is one difference between humans and other species. Humans can voluntarily limit their fertility.

but we don't , mostly , or world pop would be failing

and Ron forgot Black birds, or even those song birds , given a large source of food would be like the rats as he states, will explode and die off

yes I saw a TV program about them , quite " interesting" , if thats the word......

I expect though that we won't just die off just like that , I expect us to fight , tooth and nail ( and nuclear) to get our share.

yes it worries me the cultures that have meme " the more babies is good " , esp. male children , men are more prone to fight and wage war , we have an excess in certain regions. Just because I'm pessimistic doesn't mean we will have war - its just history tells me we're good at it , and enjoy it ( why else do we keep doing it if its so bad , eh? )


Humans generally tend to limit their fertility before catastrophic famines occur. Feedback mechanisms kick in and people perceive the cost of multiple children to be not worth it. We are seeing this now, although most of those in power misread it at as a negative thing which it isn't.

Of course there have been such famines, but they are comparatively rare and their direct cause is often due to politics. But instead overpopulation causes more subtle forms of misery. Hunger, disease, premature death, social unrest. These kick in and drive the fertility even lower, eventually stabilizing the population. Its hard to link this misery to overpopulation, so many will continue to deny that overpopulation exists at all. But its very real.

But they usually do not, otherwise we would not be in deep overshoot.

Ron P.

Human population is increasing at a decreasing rate. Doesn't seem to be decreasing anywhere near quick enough, though.

Here's to more folks joining the wife and I in augmenting the decrease!

More resources for you, more fun for the both of you, you don't have to change any diapers, and you won't ever have to bail your teenager outta the local hoosegow!

What's not to like?

Act unnaturally! :)

I don't know how old you are TM, but what looks so obvious when you are under 25 does not look at all the same when you are 35.

JJ. That was, well, tongue in cheek, to at least some degree. I'm 51. Certainly no offense intended. The only ethical way I can think of to reduce the population is to have fewer children, IMO. Certainly a personal decision with deep ramifications, so as I said, no offense was intended.

Ron, I think your point simply reinforces this phenomena as a natural occurrence. Humans aren't doing anything unnatural here. In fact this is one aspect of how evolution works, if I understand things correctly.

Every species produces more than will survive. That's just what happens. It's entirely natural. And they expand until they use up all the resources available. Then they die. That's just natural.

We aren't doing anything any other species doesn't do, as you say. What we're doing is completely, totally, and utterly natural. Sad, but natural. We may hold the distinction of being the first animal which caused a mass extinction event. Normally we have to leave that sort of thing to geology and chemistry, with an occasional asteroid or comet thrown in. But not us. We're going for broke as a biological form. Fairly unique, really.

As has been commented, we at least have the potential to arrest this development. The rats and the rest don't. Whether we'll be able to avail ourselves of this also unique capability remains to be seen, of course. But in order for us to actually turn the tide we have to do what is unnatural. We have to fight against our most basic biological drives.

The cards are certainly stacked against us - in order for us to survive we must act unnaturally within a natural system.

Ron, I think your point simply reinforces this phenomena as a natural occurrence. Humans aren't doing anything unnatural here. In fact this is one aspect of how evolution works, if I understand things correctly.

Yes, it is natural, that is we are not doing anything unnatural. But you are missing one very important point. And trying to explain what you, and almost everyone else is are missing it the hardest thing I have ever tried to explain.

Cancer is natural, but cancer is the wrong word. We are not like a cancer on the earth. We are more like a "plague species". Every animal has at least one survival specialty. The eagle and the hawk have flight and telescopic vision. All canine species have a very acute sense of smell. Monkeys and apes are all arboreal. Their opposing big toe allows them to survive in the treetops. That combined with speed allow them to survive in the wild. All these adaptations and senses evolved as a result of natural selection.

But what is Homo sapiens survival adaptation, what adaptation did we evolve that gave us such an advantage over other species that we are driving them into extinction and taking over the world? We are not very fast or very strong, we can't climb trees very well, our sense of smell is terrible, so what is our great advantage? It is, of course, our brains.

For 600 million years there was a balance. No animal ever evolved such an adaptation that allowed them to take over the world. Predator and prey were always balanced, when one multiplied beyond its level of normal survival within its environment, nature always forced a die-back to normal survival levels.

But then one species evolved an adaptation that gave that species a huge advantage over every other species in the wild. That advantage, brains or intelligence, gave that species such an advantage that it was able to wipe out every species that stood in its way from taking over every habitual territory on earth.

The rest is history.

Ron P.

But it's a relatively short history, and it's not at all clear where it will end and how useful that adaptation was. While that species has a very large impact on the planet's other life forms and even climate, the adaptation might not be one that is an advantage for them in the longer term. There have even been life forms that affected the plant's climate more dramatically in the past, and extinctions more extreme than we have been able to accomplish (so far anyway - go team!).

This whole discussion of natural vs. unnatural seems irrelevant to me. We are a creature that evolved on earth, and even though we don't like to recognize it we are wholly dependent on natural systems and other species. If we destroy those systems we destroy ourselves. And there isn't any way we can maintain the populations levels we are at, as those are just an consequence of exploiting a one-time energy stockpile we discovered.

So what will happen is very clear from a big picture point of view, but none of us will live long enough to see much more than the very beginning stages of it, and the timing and details of how it will unfold are unknowable.

Perhaps the life form with the greatest impact would be that one which first developed the ability to convert CO2 to O2 and carbohydrates, thus ultimately converting a reducing atmosphere to an oxidizing atmosphere - drastically changing the chemistry of land, ocean and air - The Great Oxygenating Event, I think it is called, if it isn't it should be. It is what resulted in the formation of large iron ore deposits worldwide, as the iron precipitated out of the world ocean as oxygen accumulated.
Another life form with a large impact is the fungus that became able to rot wood.

These are exactly what I was thinking of - and no big brains required. So our mental abilities have certainly made a big impact in a fairly short time, but maybe it is not such a unique thing when viewed from the outside. Do our brains just bring us into parity with bacteria and fungus?

Do our brains just bring us into parity with bacteria and fungus?

Are humans smarter than yeast? >;-)

I think it was here on TOD a while back that someone proposed the (perhaps) tongue-in-cheek theory that maybe we evolved to redress that "imbalance". Perhaps our true purpose in the grand scheme of things is simply to get all that low entropy carbon out of the ground and return it to the atmosphere where Mother Nature wants it. Maybe she has high temperature plans and she'll merrily snuff us out after we've served our purpose.

Yeah, I know. I shouldn't anthropomorphize Mother Nature - she really hates that.

I don't thinks its just brains. Several types of sea mammals have bigger brains. We were generalists, with large (for land animals) brains, who evolved for a hunter gatherer existence. Then we started to develop culture, and social-cultural selection created additional evolutionary pressure on some aspects of those brains.

I'm not even sure there haven't been other long past ecological crises, where one or a few species became too dominant. Its a lot further back than 600my, but maybe the success of stromatalites belongs in that category, they became so successful, that they flooded the atmosphere with their toxic waste product oxygen. I've often heard this described as the greatest stress ever encountered by life of earth. But, out of it evolved types of life that could utilize than toxin as a bridge toward a higher energy lifestyle.

Generalists with rapid non-biological evolution capability. If humans moved to someplace where their weak, hairless-ape bodies couldn't function they'd fashion clothes and tools which allowed them to. It's really a form of evolution in itself, but non-biological in nature and thus can be adapted on rapid time scale - just as someone moving from Bermuda to Greenland could re-arrange their wardrobe and lifestyle in a day without spending millions of years and generations growing fur and a blubber layer for insulation.

I think about that as I watch our products, our social trends and our stories evolve. It's like Evolution has, through us, developed a lens that projects a new, non-biological impressionistic image of Evolution back onto the scene.

I am late to this conversation but here is my take ...
Population overshoot is not only natural but is an integral part of natural selection. Natural selection happens due to pressure to survive and procreate. Population overshoot puts increased pressure on the members of a species which would not otherwise occur due to other factors in the environment. Population overshoot, in its own perverse way, will weed out the weak and reward the strong. Since our overshoot is mostly a function of human cultural capability and not the "strength" of individual humans, overshoot will probably reward the cultures that can unite their members in common survival and preparation while punish cultures which reward selfish individualism and beggar thy neighbor attitudes.

When compared to other primates, including large primates such as the gorilla, the human penis is largest, both in absolute terms and in relative size to the rest of the body. -- Wikipedia

Population overshoot was inevitable.

It doesn't seem useful to talk about natural phenomena with loaded terms like pestilence or scourge.

Ok! Fair enough. It may not seem useful to you so feel free to come up with a more appropriate term. I'm going to stick with 'Plague Species' for now because that is what we have become.

Let's take a closer look at one of the countries mentioned in the excerpt I posted, namey, Egypt.

According to the United Nations Population Fund Egypt's population in 1950 was about 21.8 million, in 2000 it had tripled to 67.8 million and is projected to hit 84.4 million by 2015.

If you go to mazamascience's energy data browser and look at oil consumption during that same period there is a striking correlation. Yes we all know that correlation is not causation. However I think we would be very hard pressed to argue that somehow the fertility of the Nile delta would have increased proportionally during that same period to allow such a dramatic increase in population without inputs derived from fossil fuels.

Oil and fossil fuels have been the equivalent to the bounty of bamboo fruit causing the population explosion of rats in India every 48 years. That is the dark little secret of the 'Green Revolution'.

Calling present day humans a plague species and comparing them to rats is not a value judgement it is merely an acceptance of the fact that given certain conditions any biological organism will behave in this manner, it just tells us that we are not much different than rats. We are subject to the same natural laws.



If you consider all human endeavor as a single 'black box' of the kind theorists and mathematicians use to describe an otherwise undefined process, what we have built is a machine for turning oil (and any other energy that's within reach) into people. Energy is the input. An unending stream of humanity is the output. Most will never really question if this is such a good idea, they just keep turning the crank faster and faster.

We want what we want because it is what we already know. No one ever voluntarily undergoes trans-formative change. It is external force that breaks inertia and disturbs the stability of a system. That's why change is frightening; it originates from outside the existing order. Planned change on the scale needed at this point is truly terrifying.

What we need most, in order to face the coming challenges to our species' survival, is courage. Courage and a lot of moral fiber. Good intentions are not enough. You can't make social bricks without moral fiber. And we will be required to build a new and differently engineered social structure if we are to survive the coming dislocation. You can't expect to get different results using the same recipe, after all.

If you find yourself in the path of a boulder rolling down a mountain, courage won't do you much good. The only survival option is to get out of the way. The same applies to other situations, such as trees falling or rivers flooding around you...

E. Swanson

Depends on what you mean by Courage at that point. It doesn't mean that you stand there and bravely fight the boulder, it might mean that you are able to watch the boulder and keep your head enough so that you CAN find the actions necessary for getting out of the way.

Sometimes, courage means facing death with enough detachment and perspective that you are able to see and consider your various options, or ones that might not save you, but will help others at least.

I witnessed a very similar situation in northern Italy.
There were net's all over the orchards in valey's through which the migratory birds (mostly swallows) had to go (south for the winter).
As youngsters (in the mid 50's) we were sitting outside in the evenings in fall and watched the huge flocks of birds going overhead. The flocks were so big, that sometimes there was hardly a break in the constant stream of bird's for hours, like a dark cloud getting bigger and smaller! They were coming from all the northern parts of Europe and they had to fly through just a few mountain passes (Brenner Pass between Austria and Italy the main one).

They are all but gone now. You hardly see a swallow anymore.

And for what? I saw ones in an Italien restaurant what it looked like to have a swallow in a stew. Nothing but a big head! There is no meat on a bird like this!

What did we get in return? Billions and billions of moskitos and everything which comes with it!

Sometimes you regret to be called "human".



We may have to seriously simplify.

First it probably won't be we/us, as we generally think of ourselves.

I was just reading George Mobus' blog post titled:'Can We Envision Future Homo eusapiens?' As the current genus of Homo continues to be exposed to evolutionary pressures both natural and self imposed and as our species enters a rather narrow bottleneck in the not too distant future one of two things is bound to happen.

Homo sapiens will go extinct much like all previous genera of Homo have done to date and no new genus will arise to take its place... or a newly evolved, better suited to survival in the new environment, that Homo sapiens helped create by breaking most of the perviously existing systems, will arrive on the scene.

It remains to be seen if this new version of Homo will be a wiser one and one that finally understands that for it to survive it needs to live within the physical limits of its environment and by necessity allow for a complex healthy ecosystem to flourish unfettered and unencumbered by the presence of 7 billion plus members of its own species.

Who knows, such a species may hold the Neanderthals in higher regard than Homo sapiens...

If natural selection can select for wisdom, maybe that is where evolution will knock some sense into us.

God said- ask what I shall give thee
And Solomon said--an understanding heart, that I might discern between good and bad
And god said, I have given thee a wise and understanding heart, and that which thou hast not asked- riches and honor.
And Solomon awoke and, behold, it was a dream,

Drat! better luck next time.

Mulligan! I want a Mulligan! :P

Had to look it up. Golf. Mulligan-another try to replace a particularly bad tee shot, I think you get one a game, or something. Methinks we have already used ours up. Double drat.

An article at Japan Times outlines how to increase rainfall during the rainy season to store water for later use.

In the experiment March 14, planes were used to spray carbonic acid onto the bottoms of clouds about 1,400 meters thick situated north of Miyake Island and northeast of Mikura Island, about 180 km south of Tokyo. The clouds were sprayed for 10 minutes each.

As a result, the clouds along the 50-km-long, 2-km-wide flight path disappeared and caused rain. According to radar and meteorological satellite observations, the experiment directly caused an estimated 120,000 tons of precipitation.

Two hours later, the clouds vanished in a wider area about 50 km in diameter. An estimated 2 million tons of rain fell during the period, based on an assumption that 1 mm fell per hour.

From The Japan Times:

The implication is that any significantly complex technology .... Yeah, like any attempt at Geoengineering to try and solve the climate change issue.

Biochar is not a complex technology and does appear to not only take annual CO2 from the air and 'lock it away' in the soil for a few years but also helps plant growth.

"...and does appear..." ~ eric blair

Appearances can be deceiving.

Great cartoon Tribe! With apologies to the artist, I couldn't resist embellishing it a bit...

Love your stuff, Fred. Keep up the good work!

Appearances can be deceiving.

But many times they are not. I guess it is up to the readers to make their own determination as to what is truth and what is not.

Given inherent systemic (over-)complexity, perhaps more often than not, appearances are deceiving.

I guess it is up to the readers to make their own determination as to what is truth and what is not. ~ eric blair

You're one of them, and they often disagree... Which feeds back into my point about appearances and deception.

Quite agree. On a couple of counts, actually. First being that lots of superheroes simply wouldn't function in the actual world of physical reality. Take Flash: he can have all the supercharged strength in his legs to push off at supersonic speeds that he wants, but...gravity won't pull his feet back down to the ground any quicklier than it pulls us regular schlubs' feet back down. Unless gravity works differently on him. And that's saying nothing about the heat generated on his body surface by friction with the air. But anyway, every attempt to mechanize or industrialize nature has its cost, and, depending on the scale or extremity of the process, will have a faster, more drastic effect. One example I've thought of from time to time is vegetables bioengineered to grow more quickly, in worse soil, and be larger than their naturally-evolved counterparts. That means the engineered plants are pulling nutrients and water that much more aggressively from the soil, depleting it that much more quickly, exacerbating the reasons the plants were engineered in the first place. And there are as many more examples as we could care to think about.

Technology and Nature are incompatible. One must destroy the other to survive. And I believe we've made our choice as to which side we're on.

If we're lucky (or maybe that should be unlucky) we, as technology's faithful servant, will be re-engineered in the master's image and become as one. Enhanced, upgraded and denatured until we leave the realm of nature entirely. Or go extinct, if becoming something akin to a robot is not also classified as being extinct.

As you say, half measures don't work, limitations are soon met. In an 8C degree world we will have to re-engineer our environment or our bodies. Probably both.

Things to watch out for are increased interest in para Olympic sports and the moral dilemma that replacing healthy limbs and body parts with synthetic ones will create. Replacing disease and failure prone legacy body parts with comparable synthetics will be seen as the way to go. In many ways technology already forms an interface between us and the real world, we're increasingly pre-programmed to accept the technological world view.

What is intensely ironic to me in this technology/nature interface is that the modern 'diseases of civilization' which our industrial civilization has given us, are taking more and more technology to treat.

I started showing symptoms of Parkinson's 5 years ago. People will say, "aren't you grateful that our technology has come up with drugs to treat this disease?" But I would be even more grateful if our technology had not gifted me with the disease in the first place. In the health treatment industry, we are chasing our tails, creating and causing more disease even while spending huge dollars and efforts to figure out ways of treating these diseases.


While one could take Nightshade to stop the disease in it's tracks, adding some of the other nightshades could help.

technology had not gifted me with the disease

Ok, I'll bite. How is 'tech responsible?

In the health treatment industry, we are chasing our tails, creating and causing more disease even while spending huge dollars and efforts to figure out ways of treating these diseases.

The 'and this is why you should not use doctors' people do have a point - many of the 'treatments' are not cures, just a way to extend the disease so you can keep paying.

(edit) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forskolin Various experimental studies are underway in using Forskolin as an adjuvant in treatment for diseases such as Parkinsons and/or nerve damage caused by trauma/accident. (if you have high blood pressure and weight loss issues - may be worth a look)

I probably shouldn't have conflated 'technology' and 'industrial civilization' together, although it would be hard to imagine the development of industrial civilization without advances in technology to drive it.

Thanks for the links. There are, however, many things that may or may not help in the treatment of Parkinson's. It's hard to keep up with them and there are a scant few that have had any respectable clinical trials. Like this one on using a ketogenic diet.

pdf alert


Edit: the connection between Parkinson's and industrial civilization is that Parkinson's is generally believed to be induced by environmental pollutants of one kind or another. PD symptoms can be induces in test animals by using certain insecticides, for example. The same is probably true of other neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's etc.

Technology and Nature are incompatible

It seems to me that you are using a very narrow and limited use of the word 'Technology'.

The definition of technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.

An example of a technology that could be construed as fully compatible with the preservation of nature would be permaculture.

Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, and environmental design which develops sustainable architecture and self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.
Source Wikipedia

I'm sure we could find other technologies that are also compatible with nature.

I was using 'technology' in it's broadest sense, that of a system dominating the planet and in particular humans.

Permaculture is a design methodology, part of the extractive technology that forms an interface with nature. The System's 7 billion human worker bees have to be fed, the nuanced technology of Permaculture allows resource extraction with less destructive consequences on the host. It's not compatible as such, feeding 7 billion plus people from Nature's resources still has a destructive effect. Albeit more like parasitic capture of the host.

Other examples of technology that may seem to be compatible with Nature on the surface would be green technologies. Essentially a method of using Nature's energy to drive the technological system. A system which replaces the natural with the synthetic. As green technologies scale, so will Nature's assimilation and destruction.

As with everything else in the System's technological civilisation, we have no choice but accept the path presented to us. Sometimes we labour under the belief we have choice or that we're with Nature, only to find out we're actually just another sub-system advancing technological efficiency.

Permaculture is a design methodology, part of the extractive technology that forms an interface with nature. The System's 7 billion human worker bees have to be fed, the nuanced technology of Permaculture allows resource extraction with less destructive consequences on the host. It's not compatible as such, feeding 7 billion plus people from Nature's resources still has a destructive effect. Albeit more like parasitic capture of the host.

I basically agree that there is absolutely nothing that will sustain 7 billion humans on this planet for the long term. Though that is a different issue from saying that a technology such as Permaculture is not compatible with Nature. What isn't compatible is ecological overshoot. If we brought our numbers down to about 100 million world wide then Permaculture technology might be able to work.

BTW it is becoming quite clear the the System's 7 billion worker bees probably won't be fed so there will be a lot fewer of them/us in the not too distant future. Unless you believe in miracles... which I don't!
Nowhere is it written that the worker bees HAVE to be fed.

No, worker bees don't have to be fed. But the System is merely a set of embedded rules that drive technological advancement. If feeding 7 billion people advances technological progress then the System will attempt to feed them purely for the sake of advancement.

If technological progress is growing exponentially as some seem to believe, then things may change extremely quickly. Robotics are obviously a game changer and appear to be developing fast, add AI to the mix and who knows where it will go. But for sure, the captive host, Nature, will bear the brunt for any success.

With climate change, peak fossil fuels and population pressures, necessity is going to push technological progress even faster. Financial collapse has already pushed finance into an accelerated technocratic transition into who knows what. Economic and political transition is probably next, if not already under way.

My view is that agriculture is going to have to be undertaken in controlled environments. This will simplify the introduction of robotics to control agricultural production. The race will be between technology and climate change. I don't know which will win, but I bet a significant portion of humanity will be left behind to their fate as the race picks up speed.

Such things are only possible at the peak of technological complexity, an artifact of our exploitation of fossil fuels. I have no doubt that such things will be tried, as well as genetic manipulation, but they will be overwhelmed by the chaos of a collapsing empire and the massive reduction of complexity required.

Five years After First North American Condo Made the Switch, Led Is Becoming Lighting of Choice throughout the Industry: G4Report

As reported in the G4Report, Your Guide to LED Lighting, it was five years ago that management at Toronto’s landmark Palace Pier condominiums made the decision to switch all 1,300 public-area lights in the 47-storey building to LEDs. That simple move was enough to save up to 87 per cent of the energy consumed for lighting in the high-end condo complex. Even more impressive are the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the switch. And the MR16 LED bulbs they installed have a lifespan of roughly 45,000 hours—about five years.

See: http://www.timesunion.com/business/press-releases/article/Five-years-Aft...

We're wrapping up a lighting retrofit of a public facility where we replaced hundreds of high-wattage incandescent and halogen lamps with LEDs.

The 90-watt halogens in the art gallery with 18-watt EnduraLED PAR38s, for an 80 per cent reduction in load.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/PA-01_zpsf1a62e93.jpg

The 150-watt PS25 incandescents in the smaller conference rooms with 13-watt EnduraLED PAR30s, for an 85 per cent reduction in load.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/PA-02_zps84a4ebe4.jpg

The 90-watt PAR38 halogens off the front lobby with either one or two head 10-watt EnduraLED MR16s, for an 85 per cent reduction in load.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/PA-03_zps2eb27a92.jpg

And the 300-watt PS25 incandescents in the main conference room with 9.7-watt L-Prizes (two per fixture), for a 93 per cent reduction in load.

See: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/PA-04_zps375147c9.jpg

Substantial energy savings with little to no discernible loss in light output, a ten to twenty fold improvement in service life, excellent colour rendering and, most critically, no potential UV damage.... all achievable at a less than one-year payback.

Rather than limit ourselves to a simple, one-for-one replacement, we took the opportunity to make other adjustments. For example, wherever possible, we removed the surface mount track and installed new track tucked discretely inside the wooden cribwork so that the heads could be largely hidden from view; this eliminated much of the visual clutter that tended to detract from the overall look of the space. It also allowed us to fine-tune light levels beyond what would have been achievable otherwise and, with that, squeeze additional watts out of the system.


Thanks for the photos, Paul.

Sent your comment to a friend who manages an art institution. Your photos may help inspire someone to improve the quality of the light in the art galleries, and save money. Oh, and substantially reduce energy demand! : )

You're most welcome, Andrew. There are a couple more things left on our to-do list. On Tuesday, we're switching the nine 175-watt/347-volt R40 metal halide fixtures in the front air lock/reception to a 120-volt panel and removing the ballast (with ballast, these metal halides draw 205-watts). They will be retrofitted with 18-watt EnduraLED PAR38s, for a net savings of 1,683-watt, and as these fixtures operate 24/7, this one measure alone will save 14,743 kWh/year and reduce their CO2 emissions by an additional twelve tonnes per annum. The simple payback in this case is about four months.


LED "bulbs" have made quite a dent in my power consumption. Where I used to 3 50 watt halogens I now have 3 2.7 watts LEDs (call it 10 watts), and in another place I used to have 4 50 watt bulbs now replaced with 4 9 watt bulbs - and they have a much more pleasant/appropriate color. Same with floor standing lamps and desk lamps. I find that if you shop around, look for sales etc the actual cost of an LED can be very close to that of an incandescent bulbs, especially halogens, I replaced 50w par 20 bulbs, which cost about 11 bucks with 9W LEDs which were 13 bucks (on sale, to be fair). at 22c/kwh (power+delivery charge) it doesn't take long to make that 3 dollars back.
rgds WP

Very cool. I'm surprised this post doesn't have more replies. Maybe good news isn't fitting in with the mindset some come into this site to indulge in ;-)
Nevertheless, does anyone know what would happen to our electricity output if all lightning in, say, America would become LED?

"Maybe good news isn't fitting in .."

Well here is my plea, Keep the positive stories, the good works and hopeful projects coming! I think there is good reason for all the fear that is driving the Dark Warnings that also emblazon these pages, but it is truly up to us to 'screw our courage to the sticking place' ..

There is a series of admonitions along the lines of 'Don't be nice to those kids, you'll only give them the false impression that adults are to be trusted.' It's as if giving people something positive will magically make them forget to be careful of the dangers of the world, so don't give people hope.

As far as 'Those kids' are concerned, it would be my goal to be one of those adults that they learn CAN be trusted, but that they must also work to distinquish between the good ones and the bad ones. We also hear 'Good News' stories that ARE simply Empty Feel Good notions.. and it is surely up to us to be aware of and get some perceptivity on which false claims to dismiss, and where there are traps of 'unintended consequences' for even the good actions that we must avoid. .. and yet after that, we must become the cat that finds the timing and the footing by which we can 'walk across that cold stove'.. cause we can't stay where we are. We HAVE to pick some winners, some directions to move Towards, not just point out the problems that we have to move away from.

In other words, it's easily as worth looking at 'What's RIGHT with this picture.' as it is to identify what's wrong with it.

I like to think that we can always do better, and that we can help reduce some of the ecological harm that we cause. Certainly, there are great opportunities to use electricity more efficiently, and not just with respect to lighting, e.g., the high efficiency ductless heat pumps that we install use, on balance, 60 to 70 per cent less energy than the baseboard strips they replace.

To help answer your question, lighting represents about 12 per cent of our total electricity demand, and a move to more efficient light sources and control strategies could easily cut that in half.


Just going on cost alone* I assume that there is very little net energy saved by LED's. In any case the embodied energy, or energy used in manufacture of LED's seems to be significantly higher then that of incandescent. I think if you are going to talk about saving energy, maybe get real, and make do with less. The whole have your cake and eat it too, is just so much wishful thinking.

*Some have argued on this site and elsewhere that cost is a ballpark reflection of energy spent. Such as there is little difference between EROI and EROEI.

In any case the embodied energy, or energy used in manufacture of LED's seems to be significantly higher then that of incandescent. I think if you are going to talk about saving energy, maybe get real, and make do with less.

I agree with that sentiment...

Here's some food for thought

But some math from Marc Gunther at Greenbiz has provided the evidence needed to change my mind. Let’s see if it does.

First take a conventional 60 watt bulb. Take the equivalent in an LED – which uses only 12.5 watts, while providing the same amount of light. Now compare the electricity costs between the two, run for the duration of a 25,000 hour period, which is nearly three years if run 24/7, or about 12 years if run 6 hours nightly.

If you pay 12 cents a kilowatt hour, electricity will cost $37.50 to run the 12.5 watt LED for the 25,000 hours. But you will pay $180 to run the 60 watt incandescent the same amount of time.

That is one saving right there, the cost of electricity.

But another saving is this. Only the LED will actually last the 25,000 hours which is about 12 years if you are turning it on at 6PM every night and off at midnight. However, the incandescent bulb will only last 1,000 hours, so one bulb actually cannot even do this test.

Instead you’d need to buy 25 incandescent bulbs to stand up to the duration of one LED bulb to run this 25,000 hour test.

And as some TODer would point out - technology is evil, no matter what.

Best go back to tallow candles. Anything else other than being in darkness instead of light is a meaningless gestures in the face of the predicament we are all in eh?

I am reminded of this passage from my youth. Though I believe in nothing I appreciate the wisdom.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

3 What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them

Unless of course you believe that swapping incandescent for LED is a change of course.

Let's take a closer look at two of the examples I provided.

First up, the 18-watt EnduraLED PAR38s that will replace the 175-watt metal halide R40s. The former has a nominal service life of 45,000 hours and the latter 10,000 hours; thus, we would require, on average, four and a half of these metal halide lamps to equal the operational life of this one LED. The ballast that drives this metal halide lamp will likely require replacement after 50,000 hours, so we'll need to include this cost in our analysis as well.

Each PAR38 LED will save 8,415 kWh over its 45,000 hour lifetime; at current rates, that's $1,136.00 in energy savings. My cost for this LED lamp is $50.00. An R40 metal halide lamp is $35.00, but since we'll require four and a half of them, the equivalent lamp replacement cost is $157.50; the lamp recycling charge at end-of-life is $4.50 per lamp (metal halide lamps contain mercury and should be properly recycled). My cost for a replacement ballast and ignitor kit is $72.50. Taken together, for each $50.00 LED, I can expect to net over $1,300.00 in lifetime savings, not including the cost of labour, and this assumes that electricity rates remain constant over the full duration of the term. Factor in the related air conditioning savings, and the final number likely falls between $1,500.00 and $1,600.00 per socket.

Our second scenario: as noted, I used two 9.7-watt L-Prize lamps to replace 300-watt PS25 incandescents. The L-Prize has a nominal service life of 30,000 hours and the corresponding 300-watt incandescents are rated at 1,500 hours, so we would theoretically require twenty of them per socket. My cost for an L-Prize is $38.00 or $76.00 for two. A 300-watt incandescent wholesales for about $3.00 and multiplied twenty times, the equivalent cost is $60.00. Over their lifetime, the twin L-Prizes will save 8,418 kWh and at a blended demand and energy cost of 13.5-cents, the operating savings total over $1,100.00 per socket, again, assuming that electricity rates remain constant over the life of the lamp. Add in the a/c savings, and we can probably bump that up by a few hundred more dollars.

I've showed you my numbers. Do you have any of your own?


Hey Paul,

It seems he is trying to compare the embedded energy in the manufacturing of LEDs vs that of incandescents.

While I did try to find numbers on that and didn't find any, it becomes very quickly obvious from your post and mine above that if it requires roughly twenty incandescents to one LED to provide the same amount of hours of lighting the question becomes pretty much moot...

As I highly doubt that even if the embedded energy of manufacturing one LED is higher than an that of an incandescent, it's difficult to imagine that it would be twenty times higher.

Case closed!



Cost is a first order estimator for embodied energy. Energy could be used to dig up rare metals, or to smelt, or whatever, but for sure nothing is "free" -- recycling could only make the picture better, not worse. Based on energy usage, it is clear the net savings are considerable.

Hi Fred,

There's another angle that's worth exploring. Between half and two-thirds of the electricity sold in this province is generated through the burning of coal. Let's assume that all of the electricity generated at the margin is coal-fired (we can reasonably assume that none of it would be renewable). I believe most if not all of the coal we burn is imported from Columbia. So, by my calculations, we're saving some 8,400 kWh over the life of each LED, and if my maths are more or less correct, this translates to be over four tonnes of coal demand per socket. I wonder how much energy is required to mine this amount of coal, to ship it to port, transport it by sea, unload it, and then sent it by rail to its final destination? I'm guessing significantly more energy than went into the manufacture of the LED.


Tks Paul! Good points! Not that I needed to be convinced that LEDs were the way to go. We've yet to hear from Smeagle...

Fair enough. No doubt LED's can be better in some situations where you need to run a light everyday for years on end.

If an incandescent bulb costs 20c and an equivalent LED cost $50 for example then you could broadly speaking, say that there is about 250x more embodied energy in the LED. So it's not that hard to see how LED's contain far more embodied energy then an incandescent. In a situation like a toilet or hallway, where the light only needs to be on for <30sec I doubt you would ever save anything because the payback period is probably longer then the lifespan of the infrastructure. Unless you solemnly vow to never renovate for the next century. So horses for courses, as I see it.

I also consider it highly ironic, 'running lights 24/7, but it's ok because they are LED's.' I'm sure there is a totally reasonable explanation for it. If you turned the lights off for a mere 6hrs a day, you would reduce the power bill by 25% without even increasing consumption of finite resources. Then you could possibly replace lights as they fail with the very latest LED's, and maybe reduce the number of lights as well.

Who actually cares anyway? Meaningless gestures in the face of the predicament we are all in.

The lights that are left on are required for the CCTV system and for fire code reasons (emergency egress). By converting these fixtures to LED, I'm satisfying these requirements and, at the same time, reducing energy demand by more than 90 per cent.

Secondly, are you suggesting that manufacturer and retail channel margins on premium products such as a Philips EnduraLED line are similar to those of incandescent lamps? I can assure you that the retail price of these two technologies has little to do with their embodied energy.

Lastly, is something preventing you from purchasing incandescent lamps? A 2-pack of Philips 43-watt Ecovantage lamps (60-watt equivalent) retails at Home Depot for about $3.30. If incandescent lamps are a better fit for your needs, then so be it.


As I said Horses for courses. Still you are only reducing energy usage requirements, nothing about total energy.

At this stage your assurances are the same as mine when I assure you, that the margins as a % are similar.

Lastly, you can get 18w LED's for $50 yet you are saying $3.30 for incandescent? I'm not sure what the eco, or advantage is with the lights you priced, I assume full cycle costs are worse.

In a perfect world, total energy demand will be reflected in the initial purchase price of the lamp (or, more correctly, whatever portion pertains to the energy component) and in the operating cost of said lamp, i.e., the cost of electricity that we feed it.

If a light source operates five to ten minutes a year, as in the case of an loft/attic space, say, then a low-cost incandescent lamp may very well be the most appropriate choice. Alternatively, in commercial and institutional settings where run times are generally much longer, the energy that is consumed to power the lamp will dominate the equation.

Will these joules be priced equally? Not likely. Will these joules have similar environmental impacts? Probably not. Can we account for this in our CBA? Your guess is as good as mine.


It is not just 24/7 apps where a LED may be better but also places where reduced maintenance or reduced heat will be of benefit.

As for the price of LEDs they certainly do not reflect the embodied energy, they include a lot of R&D costs too, as well as setting up production. All semiconductors, CFLs too, started expensive then dropped in price. LEDs will do the same, they have dropped for many types. I struggle to see how producing coiled coils of tungsten and making, melting and blowing all of that glass can be low energy especially as many of the plants will be old and energy inefficient.

Turning lights off does help but, often due to inefficient building design, there are places where 24/7 is a requirement.


I remember paying $400.00 back in 1983 for four 7-watt PL fluorescent lamps and their matching magnetic ballasts and screw-on reflectors, making them suitable for use in recessed pots (according to the Bank of Canada, that's the equivalent of $855.00 in today's dollars). One again, price is not a good proxy for embodied energy.

BTW, I had lunch with one of my sources on Friday and he tells me that Canada Post's Almon Street sorting station has twenty-eight thousand F32T8 lamps that operate 24/7. The building was commissioned before automation fully took hold, so light levels in the plant are way over the top, i.e., in excess of 1,000 lux. There are many GWh of potential savings that could be captured with a suitable redesign.


As for the price of LEDs they certainly do not reflect the embodied energy, they include a lot of R&D costs too, as well as setting up production.


Do you have proof for this claim? I've got some LEDs in a box that are from the late 1970's. From where I sit, plenty of R/D cost was spent along time ago and has had plenty of time to be reflected.

But do show some proof to your claim.

Philips Lighting's 2011 sales totalled €7.6 billion and five per cent of that (€380 million) was re-invested in R&D, and just about all of that was reportedly LED related.

Source: http://www.slideshare.net/MarjolijnvanderHorst/philips-business-presenta...

Sales in 2012 topped €8.4 billion, and assuming the ratio stayed more or less the same, this would suggest an R&D budget of €420 million.


Right, Eric, because clearly there's little obviousness behind the idea that creating a workable Area Lighting solution out of what in the 1970's was merely a twinkly little narrow wavelength indicator lamp has required any serious investment by several competing LED companies in the last few years.

Is there really a need to do this sort of 'prove it' chest-thumping on a point as Spotlighted as this one? They are tooling and retooling, packaging and marketing as these products change monthly. What pays for that evolutionary fervor?

Until lasting models settle in, and then we get some time-weighted life expectancy and power demand and manufacturing numbers, then the kind of proof you are pumping for simply won't exist.. though the activities going on hardly makes it necessary anyway, does it?

The big tech issue from 1970 to today would be:

1) Doping to get white. Once that was figured out it was figured out for everyone.
2) Low loss, low voltage and high current power supplies. Switching power supplies have plenty of R/D spread across many different non-LED makers. Such was needed for the modern CPUs.
3) Heat Sink design. Plenty of thermo calcs have been done over the years here by plenty of other engineers. Now getting the heat away from the Silicon - that did need work but again that is not a solo effort - CPU makers have had a similar issue.

Given the short quarter to quarter demands, a claim of unpaid for R/D is not realistic as far as I can tell. Now perhaps the claimer has recent statements made by the firms making LED lights that there is unpaid R/D.

All those costs are 'embodied energy'. Think about it, it's not so different from exploration of an oil field.

I agree when you 'need' lighting 24/7 then LED's are the best, but there are simpler ways of saving energy. Consuming more to reduce energy consumption comes across as a bit of an oxymoron. It seems like such a hardship for many people to reduce the amount of light they are getting. They would rather spend a whole lot more money, and renovate the place, throwing out working stuff, replacing it with other stuff, and then somehow a pat on the back. What would be the big deal if half the lights weren't working? When a light blows I ask myself do I actually need to replace it? At least 66% of the time the answer is no. That's just me though.

Let's backup the bus. The simple payback for this project which includes the cost of all materials and labour, permits, recycling fees, etc. is less than one year. The service life of the replacement lamps will be anywhere from five to ten years depending upon their respective run times, and the fixtures/related hardware will continue to function many times beyond that again. Since embodied energy is reflected in the cost of the materials, and since materials represent only a portion of the total cost of the undertaking, it's pretty obvious to me that there's a net gain.

With respect to light levels, I mentioned in my initial post that I did a lot of fine-tuning in the redesign to wring-out additional kWhs wherever possible. However, a good number of visitors to this facility are elderly, many of whom have reduced vision; thus, the client had set forth specific requirements that had to be met. You may decide not to replace lamps in your home when they fail, and if that works for you, then great, but that's not an option here -- occupant comfort and safety are first and foremost.


In that case, good work.

Now I am waiting for the automotive industry to take a cue, and start having vehicles come standard with LED lights.

If the car has less energy devoted to running tungsten filament bulbs for all the side lights, turn lights, brake lights and even headlights, then that is energy that might help squeeze a few more mpg in reduced engine drag by the alternator to drive electrical loads.

Also results in reduced costs of being pulled over by safety officers for warnings or citations for having a brake light out, or such.

Sadly, the aftermarket is ridiculous. I went to cost replacement LED brake light bulbs for a 2011 Honda Pilot. Approx cost was US$40/each. Not affordable. Had to put in filament bulbs, and know within 2yrs I'd have to likely replace them again (and again, and again).

Yike, that is expensive, aren't there better deals on Ebay? Most of the buses around here have at least some LEDs, mostly brakes but some have other lights replaced too and even led strips for inside lighting. I also see quite a few cars with LED brake lights and tail lights. I understand that one of the problems getting LEDs into headlights is the regulations are built around incandescent and would need re-writing for LEDs to be suitable.


Did you try superbrightleds? You should be able to find them for less than half of that - daytime running included. It's pointless (energy wise) to replace the blinkers - keep running the cheapies there, but the parking/running lights and brake lights are fair game and have the benefit of a faster reaction time (make sure you get the color of the lens). The Leaf was coming standard with LED headlights - but the new cheaper version that you can get comes with standard halogen IIRC. So LED headlights do exist - but they don't make any drop-in conversions. Large über-power LEDs are kind of a new phenomenon so they're only just now working their way into those applications.

...get real, and make do with less.

This has got to be one of the more important yet hard things to get people to understand.

The issue here is less about efficiency than about sufficiency.

A subtle shift, but it reduces the role of technology and increases the role of behavior. Not easy for a technocratic society to swallow.

Not easy, indeed. Which is probably why I tend to post on this type of issue.

No way, but the hard way.

I doubt the price of LEDs has much to do with the embodied energy. Mostly its just the fact that it is hightech, and relatively new. You are paying for R&D, and probably rents to early adopters. Embodied energy, not so much. Plus the comparison is not to an individual incandescent, but to a dozen or more (because of the difference in lifetimes). I once saw an add for CFL's that showed a several foot high power of coal next to the incandescent -that is the excess fuel burned to run the less efficient tech.

Absolutely; price is not a good proxy for the very reasons that you mention, e.g., some of the specialty lamps used in the entertainment industry would blow your socks off, as I'm sure Bob could attest.



I'm in NYC this summer, and was just helping out at a familiar old Lighting Rental house, Xeno-lights as fate would have it, handling a Foot-long 18,000 Watt HMI lamp, a cool $2000 for a pretty hot bulb.. and there are HMI's that pull up to 32kw, I believe it is.

Of course, down the row there's a new Kino-flo "Celeb",
a 24"X14" Light-panel of LEDs that draws some 120watts to replicate the light of a 750watt incandescent softlight.. with a considerable differenceS, since you have a pair of dials on the back that let you roll in a preferred color temp on a continual progression from 2700 to 5500 degrees, and dim from 5% to 100%, in a flat little package that won't require a box of spares nearby, or color correction gels to be clipped on the front, or all the other parts that the old Tungsten Softlight required.. etc etc.

The Price for this versatile Energy Sipper? $2629 at B&H Photo. There's far more energy embodied in the context than in the price.

We need to be careful with our assumptions and consequent extrapolations.

R&D is part of embodied energy, some call it emergy, no biggie. LED's have been around for yonkers now, in the past people have been somewhat reluctant to pay such a high premium for 'green.' So it's not exactly new tech, maybe more like fracking. Old tech, now available because of price.

Interesting assessment on CFL's by Permies.com founder Paul Wheaton

Something that strikes me. When these LED fittings start to reach their end of life a whole new generation will be available. When those EOL, then what? This won't simply be a cycle of replacement but one of continuous upgrade.


That's an important point. A lot has changed over the past five years, and I expect our range of choices five years forward will be that much better. I have some older 2.5-watt BA11 candelabra base LEDs that supply 12 lumens per watt. The ones I use now are rated at 80 lumens per watt, and the next generation coming down the pike will reportedly supply upwards of 140 lumens/watt. I couldn't imagine any of this being possible five or ten years ago.


keep posting Paul

I always read your posts , it so refreshing to see what can be done , and with being a profit making company as well!!

if only we could get a company to do the same with PV/ Solar heating


Thanks for your kind words. I'm proud of the work I do on behalf of our clients and especially proud of my crews; I have a fantastic team, and 100 per cent of our success can be attributed to their hard work and professionalism.

Getting out in the field, rolling up your sleeves and lending a hand gives you a good appreciation of the amount of effort involved. I learn a lot from simple observation and from their feedback as well. I can visualize all sorts of things in my head, but if what I have in mind isn't physically possible, or if it would require a lot of time, effort and materials, or if it would be annoying or disruptive to our clients (e.g., require hammer drilling into a concrete ceiling), then I've failed miserably at my job. I owe a huge debt to these guys.


"And the MR16 LED bulbs they installed have a lifespan of roughly 45,000 hours—about five years."

There's no direction mention of it here, but I'm aware of one instance of a place that used to have a person dedicated, full time, to simply wandering around and replacing conventional incandescent bulbs. It was apparently a hard sell to get them to switch over to CFL (this was during the $7/bulb CFL days) but after they did...the new bulbs lasted so long that the Bulb Guy was re-assigned to different maintenance tasks.

He gets a statue in the great hall of Lamplighters!

Of course, that hall will probably be lit by Paul.. <:

Funny you should mention this. There use to be a maintenance guy at this facility (now since retired) who started his workday at 06h00 and his first order of business each morning was to walk the floors and look for any failed lamps and ballasts. He made a point of having everything in proper working order before the next person walked through the door.

Moving from an incandescent or halogen light source with a service life of one to two thousand hours to an LED lamp that offers thirty to fifty thousand hours is a big plus, especially if you have to haul out a twelve foot ladder and pry open the fixture with a screw driver. Upgrading their fluorescent fixtures will likewise double lamp life, i.e., the original F40T12 U-bends were rated at 18,000 hours and the F17T8 replacements 36,000 hours (fixture load here falls from 90-watts to 26, a net savings of just over 70 per cent).


Barry Ritholz' blog "The Big Picture" posted a piece regarding prewar predictions regarding oil prices following a successful Iraq campaign.
Wrong Like It’s Their Job

Rand: "probably fall to between $8 and $12 per barrel over the next 10 years"
Fortune: "oil prices will be back in the mid-20s."
Heritage: "lower than the current $25 to $30 a barrel"
National Review: "the price might drop to $20 per barrel or less"
Wall Street Journal: "oil prices will fall even further. If they drop to an average in the low $20s..."

And the beat goes on: Search: Enhanced recovery will anchor oil prices below $100

Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques could boost US domestic oil production by four million barrels per day for 50 years,... according to an estimate published by the US Department of Energy...

Tertiary recovery can add another 5 to 15 percent to ultimate recovery depending on the reservoir pressure, temperature and depth, as well as the density and viscosity of the oil...

The Energy Department estimates 20 billion tons of CO2 would have to be injected to recover all the 67 billion barrels of oil technically and economically recoverable from oil fields at a price of $85 a barrel.

Of course the bar is set a lot higher today. It is going to cost $85 a barrel just to recover the stuff. Evern at $100 a barrel that puts the EROI at just a tad above 1 to 1. I doubt that many oil companies are going to jump at that opportunity. A slight cost overrun and they are losing money.

Ron P.

To add to the list of predictions:

Jeff Kennedy, chief commodity analyst at Elliott Wave International bases his outlook on pattern recognition and psychology. Kennedy is forecasting crude to $16.70 a barrel in the coming years.

EIA Oil price projection in 2004:
In the reference case, the average lower 48 crude oil price is projected to be $23.61 per barrel in 2010 and $26.72 per barrel in 2025. In the high world oil price case, the lower 48 crude oil price increases to $32.80 per barrel in 2010 and $34.90 per barrel in 2025. In the low world oil price case, the lower 48 price generally declines to $16.36 per barrel in 2010, then rises to $16.49 per barrel in 2025.
This is amazing. Out six years in the future the EIA predicts a price as accurately as down to the last Cent.

Well that is the kind of stupidity you get when you try to look at pure technicals without regard to the real world.

This is amazing. Out six years in the future the EIA predicts a price as accurately as down to the last Cent.

I think their crystal ball needs to go back to the shop for pattern recognition recalibration.

That's my two cents...

Someone should design a special deck of Tarot cards with two jokers being represented by the EIA and the IEA.

I'll be happy to tell your fortune with them for a mere $100.02.

The IEA is now clearly nothing more than a propaganda office for the oil industry (and especially the U.S. one) and associated financial interests.

In a way there is nothing new in this, see Lionel Badal study around the 1998 report :


But it clearly accelerated in line with the Maugeri and WEO 2012 reports.

And also with Maria van der Hoeven becoming IEA executive director end 2011, and now being the one delivering the "information".

And see also Robert Ayres article published in Forbes :

Or Rune Likevern studies here.

Found on the 'net:

Some tourists in the Chicago Museum of Natural History are marveling at the dinosaur bones. One of them asks the guard, "Can you tell me how old the dinosaur bones are?"

The guard replies, "They are 70 million, four years, and six months old."

"That's an awfully exact number," says the tourist. "How do you know their age so precisely?"

The guard answers, "Well, the dinosaur bones were 70 million years old when I started working here, and that was four and a half years ago."

; )

If you consider their high oil price case to be the top of their 2 sigma confidence interval, and their reference case the mean, they are only wrong by about 7 standard deviations. That occurs by chance only once every 390,682,215,445 times. I prefer the other hypothesis: this wasn't a freak event and their predictions are actually worthless.

I call them "Idiot Waves". These guys have been wrong about just about everything for the last 15 years or so. They have been predicting that Down Jones will fall to 1000 and gold will fall to $100/oz for quite some time. LOL.

But isn't amazing that something so hocus-pocus could be taken seriously by many in the financial community.

I believe the reason is that such things are often self fulfilling prophecies . . . if enough people buy into such views then they buy/sell according to the projection and that makes the projection come true. So one of the things about technicals is to ride the current most popular wave of technical scheme . . . not that it works but that the self-fulfilling prophecy aspect makes it work.

Robert Prechter (founder of Elliot Wave International) is a quack. He predicts financial markets based on "social mood". There is some truth in what he is saying but one cannot objectively measure social mood. Elliot Waves guys were predicting a severe bear market many years ago because a slasher film "Kill Bill" had become very popular. They were also predicting the stock market based on Michael Jordan's career and sun spots (I am serious). I am embarrassed to admit that I was a subscriber for a while in the 2002-2003 time frame.

From the article cited above:


In the last 12 months, the top 200 oil, gas and mining companies allocated up to $674 billion to finding and developing even more reserves, according to the Climate Tracker Initiative.

Imagine if the $674 Billion now being invested in fossil fuels new production were even partially invested in the Green Transition of Green Transit, insulation
reduced energy and resource consumption?

Of course not to mention the $1 Trillion per year the USA wastes on endless Wars and National InSecurity...

Obviously we need SOME investment to continue fossil fuel production to handle the Green transition but the fossil fuel goliaths are investing huge amounts toward insuring we all fry...

Orbit- thanks for the comment I was thinking of making.

So here's a fun number for somebody less lazy than I to do- number of windmills/PV panels which could be got for the same effort that goes into a frackwell hereabouts. I write op-eds for the local newspaper and have long thought that I ought to toss that one in for the benefit of one and all.

I lament that all my good friends so super-active against fracking don't ever mention positive alternative ways to get what we use that gas for. They come across to the ordinary folk as just negative krakpots- barriers to their happy life.

And do include the cost to the next generation. Gee, thanks.

Well, one thing you might mention is that it's probably worth paying five people per year $7,500 to incentivize an EV/PHEV purchase over paying a soldier $35,000/yr to stabilize foreign nations and routes to obtain oil for gasoline vehicles.

If you take that $674 billion and apply it to PV transportation through EV's (since presumably the oil will be used for cars/trucks n' whatnot) then you're looking at something like:

$674,000,000,000/$3 per Watt = 224,666,666,667 Watts

224,666,666,667 Watts * 4.5 sun-hours/day = 1,011,000,000,002 Watt-hours/day

1,011,000,000,002 Watt-hours/day * 365 days/year = 369,015,000,000,548 Watt-hours/year

369,015,000,000,548 Watt-hours/year / 300Wh/mi = 1,230,050,000,002 potential EV miles per year

1,230,050,000,002 potential EV miles per year / 12,000 miles/year (average vehicle) = 102,504,167 the number of average cars displaced

So, unless I've buggered something up...that $674 Billion dollars would buy enough PV to displace the miles driven by approximately 100 million cars every year.

Half of the current "Defense" Budget right now is around $350 Billion which, judging by the other figure there, would purchase enough PV per year to run around 50 million cars. That's a purchase that you buy once - and don't have to buy again until 20 to 30 years later. So with just 1/2 of the "Defense" budget put into PV for 6 years you'd have enough PV to run 300 million cars an average of 12,000 miles per year for the next 20-30 years.

Hopefully AlanFromBigEasy will chime in with some tram/train figures.

Just rough order of magnitude a modern largest wind turbine say $3M. A frac job or fracked well completion 2-3 times that. To 2-3 large wind turbines per well. Each of those WTs could power several hundred average homes.........

Does anyone know if there are any distance ed./online petroleum engineering programs that someone with a non-technical background might take? Nait and Sait up here in Alberta offer 2 year diploma programs but aren't offering them part time this year. Something like this would be ideal (if i didn't have to quit my job to do it).

The UK Has Just Had One Lost Decade, And It's About To Enter A Second

Bleak does not begin to describe the latest tome on the economic crisis by Stephen King, the HSBC chief global economist who appropriately shares a name with the best-selling horror writer.

When the Money Runs Out is the economic equivalent of post-apocalyptic fiction, charting “the end of Western affluence”, and gives the author of The Shining a run for his money when it comes to filling readers with dread.

Published this week, the chapter headings alone are enough to make you tremble; The Pain of Stagnation, From Economic Disappointment to Political Instability, Dystopia.

If anyone in Britain was labouring under the misapprehension that 0.3pc GDP growth in the first quarter of the year and signs of a manufacturing revival were something to cheer – and that includes the other King, Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn – HSBC’s King puts them right.

The lost decade is not a destiny. South Korea is even more dependent upon imported energy than the UK is, but it has far better growth numbers.

Second, the guy who wrote the book is exactly the kind of austerian that he pretends not to be. The only reason he echews the term is because he's savvy enough to know that they(him) lost the policy debate.

So the trick is to create a false 'rhetorical middle ground' (while in reality completely siding with one side) to disarm the reader. The only problem is that if you've paid attention to the economic debate, especially in America but also to a large extent in Europe, you know that his call for 'structural reform' was the same call that austerians made, why? Because then you do nothing but pretend to be a Very Serious Person. Which of course is laughable.

Second, part of the reason why the UK doesn't export that much anymore is precisely because of people like him. The UK betted big on the finance industry and has little to show for it.
Third, the European malaise is fundamentally a political problem that bleeds into economics. They have a monetary union but not a fiscal union. That was doomed from the getgo.

In fact, not a single monetary union without a fiscal union has survived any duration of time in history worth mentioning. The record was just about 100 years. Not a great record when a country like France has been around for over 1000. But the average is just over 20 years.

Compare Iceland, which ignored the 'advice' of idiots like that economist and the calls for 'structural reform' while doing nothing to help the people(a.k.a. austerity) and instead went for a much gradualist approach and helping the people instead of the banks. Iceland is doing quite well today. Greece on the other hand has been trying 'structural reform' for years now but is only destroying itself in the process.

For the UK to grow, Europe must be freed from the grip of the euro. But this is fundamentally a political project. European elites will let their subjects suffer no end because of this project. They want a United State of Europe. This is why they constantly give referendums to the European people and when they vote they way they weren't supposed to do(like in Ireland) they just give them another and another until they vote 'right' or just run the people over and implement the changes anyway.

Secondly, the UK must destroy the big banks and make people like noted idiot Stephen King(the economist) without a high-paying job. Finally, it must take a pro-jobs approach and a real industrial policy which takes into account the shifting sands of the energy balance of the world. But again, the example of South Korea or that of Germany shows that it can be done. In the case of Germany, part of their slow growth is the austerity of their neighbours plus a horrible demographic profile akin to Japan.

There is so much confusion about Keynesian economics, but part of it is deliberate. The moneyed elites can push through a shock doctrine under the guise of a crisis. Keynesian economics helps the people and often left-wing economists are calling for higher taxes on the wealthy and breaking up the big banks. Not exactly popular with people like the guy who wrote that book. At best his salary would be greatly reduced, at worst he'd be without a job. What is it that they say? A man will never understand something if his salary depends upon him not understanding it. A more fitting phrase in this case would be never trust a man whose salary depends on never letting something happen.

And in any case, serious Keynesian economists are concerned with debt but they also look at the loss of potential GDP and the effect long-term joblessness has on the economy which is often very underestimated. And looking at American presidents, it's usually left-wing presidents who reduce the debt or stabilise it. The right-wing almost always increase it.

There is a small gem in that article, however. What delighted me was that the reporter got to place his own skepticism in the piece when he wrote that King's approach is basically the same as the failed approach of Osbourne(the UK finance minister). Which is correct. But it's also poison to write so precisely because Osborne has been wrong on everything and embraced austerity and it sidesteps the false rheotical 'middle ground' that King has to invent in order to escape the skepticism of the careful reader.

But ultimately, what has disappointed me most is the utter weakness of European intellectuals. They need a Paul Krugman. The American left, strangely enough, has been doing the job for in large measure for the Europeans. I can only think of Martin Wolf of the FT who has been a clear beacon of reason from the get go in the European press. Most others have been lemmings at best. It's not enough to have the right intellectual framework. You also need the backbone to push against the shitstorm of vested, élite interests who prefer to consolidate the wealth among themselves. And the european left revealed itself to be incredibly weak when it counted.

destroy the banks?

not gonna happen - governance of the people by the banks for the banks

ask Tony Blair , well look what he does , not what he says ;-)


"For the UK to grow, Europe must be freed from the grip of the euro."

As someone who's living in a Eurozone country, I can only say that I'm grateful that our politicians do not listen to this "advice".

I love this lack of logic, too. :-)

UK has its own currency, however, Europe must be freed from the grip of the Euro. This means essentially that an sovereign currency per se is not enough to bring countries back onto track. Hint: Despite huge devaluation of the GBP against the EUR the trade deficite does not decrease in a meainingful way and industrial production still decreases, great.

The lazy (but expensive) approach of devaluation without structual changes is only an expensive stunt, not more, UK is IMHO a nice example how not to do it. The austerity increases the problem, but did not cause it.

"Third, the European malaise is fundamentally a political problem that bleeds into economics. They have a monetary union but not a fiscal union. That was doomed from the getgo."

This is not correct. A set of rules which is respected by all participants is sufficient for a currency union, as history shows. A fiscal union is not essential, but may be a tool to impose discipline. :-)

You can not have a common currency, without a common currency control structure. Which we don't. EU either integrate their public economies into one, or dissolve the Euro. Sooner or later, they are gonna have to chose. I doubt they will abandon the Euro.

Here economists disagree. As long as countries have the same interest (like stable hard currency) and follow the same rules, there is no need for one economy. Austria was in currency union with Germany since 1970 when Austria pegged her Schilling to to DM in the ration 7:1, for almost ten years there were not even regular meetings of the Austrian National Bank and the German Bundesbank, these were introduced around 1980. This work because both countries had the same economic goals and interests.

When the Euro was used as book currency 1999, the ration between Schilling and DM was still the same. The initial rules for the Euro would have been sufficient if countries had followed them, no discussion. The issue was to admit countries to the Euro which had not the same interest as the norther countries.

I think your comments were interesting, but I found no mention of energy limits. There is plenty of "political problem" in what's happening, but I think all of our economic problems are primarily an energy problem.

but I think all of our economic problems are primarily an energy problem.

We can certainly attempt to frame them as simply an energy problem. I see them more as a multifaceted resource limits problem clashing with a longage of expectations problem. Too many humans wanting too many things that they simply can't have. Unfortunately they don't understand that they can't have them and they are being manipulated into thinking their wants are equivalent to actual needs. That IMHO is a recipe for global disaster.

Even if we somehow got our hands on infinite energy I think that would only exacerbate all of our current problems!

"Even if we somehow got our hands on infinite energy I think that would only exacerbate all of our current problems!"

A quick look at China will show their new-found wealth going towards an attempt at extincting sharks (for just their fins, no less) elephants and rhinos for ivory, the pacific bluefin tuna, and countless other species for various bits.

This may be an urban myth, but I have heard it reported that some traders in rhino horn, ivory etc. are sitting on large stocks, and paying poachers to kill the remaining animals even if the Rhino has been dehorned, or an elephant has broken tusks. Once the animals are extinct, the market value of their existing stocks will explode.

I hope it is an urban myth.

Keynesian economics may have worked in Keynes day, but it cannot now for two reasons:
1. the government is too large a part of a tightly coupled economic system for it to operate as the governor on a larger engine, and
2. politicians will never run a surplus in good times, so Keynesian spending in bad times results in an ever increasing public debt.

There is enough of the introductory chapter up on Google Books to get an idea of how it reads. The experience of Argentina and Japan are discussed at some length, and it would appear that they are similar to what King expects more widely in the West in the future.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but the "money" running out is really tantamount to "resources" running out, since GDP per capita not benchmarked to inflation is meaningless. In an environment of steady or declining real GDP per capita, new challenges occur when committments previously made cannot be kept and when competing groups in society begin a scramble to increase their GDP per capita at the expense of a faster decrease of other's. International competition is also heightened, eventually leading to diplomatic tensions. Perhaps the UK and European attitudes towards the EU and the Eurozone are the beginnings of less cordial trade, financial, and political relations.

2. politicians will never run a surplus in good times,

The Clinton Administration did.

ron P.

For a short time in the late '90s the Federal government did run a surplus, given government accounting methods. However, if you take into account the growth of unfunded obligations and the growth of off-balance sheet liabilities in government sponsored programs, it is doubtful that a real surplus occured, at least not one that was significant compared to the deficits previously incurred.

State and local debt also declined for about 3 years in the mid-'90s, but it was at a new high by 2000. And that doesn't include unfunded pension and other liabilities.

2. politicians will never run a surplus in good times,
The Clinton Administration did.

Using GAAP or majik government accounting "trust-us" methods?

If the books showing a surplus were put in front of Arthur Anderson, would they past muster?

were put in front of Arthur Anderson, would they past muster?

With flying colors. Wasn't Arthur Anderson forced out of business because they approved of the shenanigans of Enron and other corporate crooks?

Regarding Keynesian economics, there is no reason that Keynesian economics will not work just as well today as it did in the 1930's.

There is no need to run a surplus during good times, you just need to come closer to fiscal balance in good times, which is not hard to do. During bad times the government runs up debt and pays it back gradually over time. As long as debt levels don't become too high it is not a problem, particularly when the country issues debt it its own currency.

The Euro is not a particularly good idea for Greece and Spain (and maybe even Italy). During the boom times wages and real estate prices rose to too high a level in those countries relative to France, Germany, and other Eurozone counties to the North (of Spain and Greece). If a moderate amount of inflation (say 4 to 5 %) were allowed in the Euro rather than the 1-2 % level of inflation, then prices could balance out more quickly between the south and north. In practice, countries with stonger economies would experience the higher inflation, while the weaker economies would see a slower price rise until they became competitive again.

If each European country each had its own currency, they could control the level of inflation and run deficits to utilize fiscal policy to get their economy moving.


But as it is, Germany pretty much gets their way. And to them anything greater than 1-2% is unspeakably scary.

Regarding Keynesian economics, there is no reason that Keynesian economics will not work just as well today as it did in the 1930's.

I disagree with this. Although I think Keynesian economics still makes sense, it does not work as well today as it did back in the 1930s. Why? Globalization. If we do a huge amount of stimulus, a lot of the stimulus leaks out the country and stimulates foreign economies. So if we do a big stimulus, it will have a stimulus effect . . . but a lot of the stimulus effect will be felt in China, Canada, Venezuela, Japan, and in other countries that export to us. So we don't get as much bang for our stimulus buck as we did in the 1930s.

My problem with this is that the actual reasons for the economic problem in southern European countries are structural, they lose not only against Germany but also against countries in Asia or Eastern Europe. In the past we have seen that a transfer of money did not motivate to change structures and habits, quite contrary, BAU was simply prolonged.

And I do not think that austerity does any good in a depression, I miss OTOH clear concepts -here the politicians in the affected countries should do their job- how to change the reasons for their underlying problems. Without concept for change I do not see why I should transfer money, sorry. In many cases I get the impression that things are only done when the pain level is very high, i.e. governments are behaving like teenager. :-(

"They need a Paul Krugman"

The truth is that Krugman is a joke, even if a well-meaning guy, he published a recent blog entry about the 70ies crisis, not a single mention of :


Or of the Vietnam war costs.

Not to mention that commentary about the above will not pass through.

What I took away from the article was that Stephen King wasn't advocating stimulus or austerity, as he simply saw them as different paths to the same end, resumed growth. And that is where he saw the problem, the assumption that by tweaking the system we can somehow get back to the same levels of previous growth. He doesn't believe that is possible in any real sense as the alternatives are too unpalatable to be considered.

I guess we can have faux growth by simply printing money and pretending the system is still working. As long as the underlying economy still functions and provides the necessities for survival this charade could go on for some time. That's probably where we are at at the moment, but the underlying economy is still decaying and real growth along with it.

My own opinion is that there is always growth somewhere, albeit insufficient to carry the dead weight of governments, a faux economy, bloated finance sector and a useless consumer society. So the growth that does occur will likely be outside the conventional economy and to some extent unmeasured. For example Google, Amazon, etc. are downplaying growth to avoid taxes in the countries they operate in and stashing their cash in off-shore tax havens. Gradually this will go mainstream as people attempt to get out from under the stultifying political, financial and economic system and move into the unmeasured grey economy.

I hardly ever post, but I've been reading the oil drum for several years now. I have a question that maybe someone can answer: Is the Bakken Formation unique or are we likely to find more prime spots for oil shale/tight oil around the world?

Can't answear your question,but the best spot in Europe is found under the city of Paris. Yes, that Paris. Unless they convert the Eifel tower to a production platform, I don't think that source is gonna be deployed.

From Wikipedia:

Tight oil formations include the Bakken Shale, the Niobrara Formation, Barnett Shale, and the Eagle Ford Shale in the United States, R'Mah Formation in Syria, Sargelu Formation in the northern Persian Gulf region, Athel Formation in Oman, Bazhenov Formation and Achimov Formation of West Siberia in Russia, in Coober Peby in Australia, Chicontepec Formation in Mexico,[1], and the Vaca Muerta oil field in Argentina.


ISLAMABAD: Islamabad has authorised the export of 100,000 tonnes of wheat to Iran in trade not jeopardised by Western sanctions, to settle dues for electricity supplied to Pakistan’s energy-starved border areas, the Commerce Ministry said yesterday.

Out of curiosity I looked up wheat Imports/Exports by Pakistan. It turns out that Pakistan is the 6th largest producer of wheat in the world. Consumption, however, is almost all of that and it would seem that prudence would require any excess be stockpiled for the following year. The implication seems to be that they cannot afford to pay for electricity due to their fragile financial situation and must resort to trade to keep the lights on. An interesting dynamic could be set up if they have a production shortfall of only 2% as they would then have no excess at all.

I looked around at some other grain import/export figures:


The Arab countries have 5% of the worlds population but import 20% (70 million tons in 2011) of the worlds total export grains which amounts to 60% of their total grain consumption. In those countries grain used for animal feed has grown from 1/2 million tons in 1970 to 40 million tons in 2011 (Yikes!). So does this mean that the affluent in the Arab countries have acquired the rich mans diet taste for meat and thus that demand has helped to dramatically increase grain costs and contributed to the Arab Spring food crises? Irony!

Another interesting article on this subject.


It states that Iran is stockpiling large amounts of grain in anticipation of conflict with the US. Imports described were expected to total 2 million tons extra and some were coming directly from the US. Stockpiling also would contribute to keeping world grain prices high. Iran has a history of stockpiling grains any time tensions are very high.

Some of the Worlds largest importers of wheat:
Brazil - 6.0 million tons
Indonesia - 6.6 million tons
Japan - approx. 6 million tons
South Korea - approx. 5 million tons
Iran - 4 million tons
Iraq - 3.8 million tons
Mexico - 3.8 million tons

A last interesting number. World grain production last year was 2.4 billion tons. This is a record amount and was accomplished in the face of significant climate/weather problems. Though I completely accept the science proving AGW and the implication of the eventual crushing of agriculture production I argue that this is not likely to happen for some time yet. As long as we have access to petroleum, industrial agriculture is capable of producing very large amounts of food unless the climate degrades dramatically from where we are now.

Electrical service was dodgy in Pakistan in the 80s and early 90s (when I was growing up there). Load shedding could cut the power at any time, most often not when the newspaper said it would happen, and there were also brownouts (something about competing hydro power vs. irrigation needs, from what I recall, and most everyone with the means to do so ran an A/C during the warmer months). This sounds like more of the same.

One important point - some of those countries use RICE as the staple crop. Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea in particular. Wheat imports to those nations don't actually tell you much about their situation. The same is probably true of Mexico, where the staple is corn. If we're talking about potential starvation or food prices leading to Egypt style chaos, some of these countries may have much more of a buffer than is apparent from the figures for wheat.

That said, Japan at least has been import dependent for several decades.

Some countries also have problems due to their agriculture sector being harmed by imports from countries like the USA. I know Mexico had tons of problems with farmers being forced to leave their land when NAFTA was implemented and subsidized, industrial produced US corn was dumped on the market - which led to a wave of poor mexican immigrants to the US as well.

The food situation is very complex. The state I live in now, Hawaii, was once a major agricultural producer. Before that, when Europeans first arrived, it was self-sufficient through a very sophisticated agricultural system using crops suited to different areas (taro in wet areas, sweet potato in dry ones). Now the population is much higher and agriculture is much weaker. Hawaii could not support its present population, but could probably support much more than many people think. But as it is, we will probably never find out.

As important as food imports/exports is, just as important is having other exports. Japan is unlikely to starve to death unless global trade stops. Hawaii will continue to eat as long as tourists can get here. If things get bad, people will start to move, like they did in Mexico when undercut by US corn.

Its probably just a way to get around the sanctions against Iran. They can't pay in currency, -or they would run afoul of the US led embargo. So they trade wheat for power. They can always import some should a shortage develop. I bet even if they had to import wheat in order to carry on this trade, that it would be a good deal for them. Iran is not in a position to drive a hard bargain.

World grain production last year was 2.4 billion tons.

I did the math. If humans got it all that would be two pounds per person per day. However I have no idea how much is fed to animals. If they get half the that would be one pound per person per day. And I am assuming metric tons or 2204.52 pounds per ton.

Ron P.

Yet consumption was greater then production for 2012.

Just to say once again how much I appreciate the OilDrum and those who post on it.