Drumbeat: May 20, 2013

Wells Dry, Fertile Plains Turn to Dust

Vast stretches of Texas farmland lying over the aquifer no longer support irrigation. In west-central Kansas, up to a fifth of the irrigated farmland along a 100-mile swath of the aquifer has already gone dry. In many other places, there no longer is enough water to supply farmers’ peak needs during Kansas’ scorching summers.

And when the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains.

This is in many ways a slow-motion crisis — decades in the making, imminent for some, years or decades away for others, hitting one farm but leaving an adjacent one untouched. But across the rolling plains and tarmac-flat farmland near the Kansas-Colorado border, the effects of depletion are evident everywhere. Highway bridges span arid stream beds. Most of the creeks and rivers that once veined the land have dried up as 60 years of pumping have pulled groundwater levels down by scores and even hundreds of feet.

Insight: The fight for North Dakota's fracking-water market

WATFORD CITY, North Dakota (Reuters) - In towns across North Dakota, the wellhead of the North American energy boom, the locals have taken to quoting the adage: "Whiskey is for drinking, and water is for fighting."

It's not that they lack water, like Texas and California. They are swimming in it, and it is free for the taking. Yet as the state's Bakken shale fields have grown, so has the fight over who has the right to tap into the multimillion-dollar market to supply water to the energy sector.

WTI Crude Halts Three-Day Advance; Syria Starts Offensive

West Texas Intermediate crude snapped a three-day gain. Syrian government forces started an offensive against rebels, renewing concern that conflict may destabilize the Middle East.

Futures declined in New York after rising for a third day on May 17. Government forces retook most of the strategic city of Al-Qusair in central Syria, state-run SANA news agency said. Iraq resumed crude exports via Turkey after a bomb attack targeted an oil pipeline on May 17. Hedge funds and other money managers raised bullish bets on Brent to their highest level in six weeks, according to data from ICE Futures Europe.

“Syria is a microcosm of the unrest across the Middle East and could spread to other countries,” said Christopher Bellew, a senior broker at Jefferies Bache Ltd. in London.

Hedge Funds Boost ICE Brent Crude Net-Longs to Six-Week High

Hedge funds and other money managers raised bullish bets on Brent crude to their highest level in six weeks, according to data from ICE Futures Europe.

U.S. Gasoline Rises to $3.6566/Gallon in Lundberg Survey

The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps rose 11.19 cents a gallon in the past two weeks to $3.6566 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

The survey covers the period ended May 17 and is based on information obtained at about 2,500 filling stations by the Camarillo, California-based company.

Gas prices lower, but not leading to more spending

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Gas prices are slightly lower this year, but that's not leading to a large pick-up in consumer spending, according to a survey by Bankrate.com.

About 80% of the 1,000 people Bankrate surveyed said they have not increased their discretionary spending in response to falling gas prices this year.

Saudi Arabia to import near record high diesel this summer

Saudi Arabia will import near record high diesel volumes this summer, as it gears up to beat the sweltering heat and meet rising travel needs during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, trade sources said.

State oil giant Saudi Aramco will import up to 8.9 million barrels of diesel in June, up from an estimated 6.7m to 7.5m barrels in May, according to the sources, who expect at least the same volume or higher to be booked for July.

Saudis Cut March Crude Exports as West Africans Boost Shipments

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Venezuela reduced crude oil exports in March from the previous month while West African members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased shipments, according to official data.

Qatar sets up $1 billion energy infrastructure fund

DOHA (Reuters) - Three Qatari state-backed entities, including the Gulf Arab nation's acquisitive sovereign wealth fund, are setting up a $1 billion fund to invest in overseas energy infrastructure assets.

Natural Gas Rises 5% From Week Ago as U.S. Approves LNG Exports

Natural gas futures extended gains after the U.S. conditionally approved a Texas liquefied natural gas project.

Chesapeake names Anadarko executive as new CEO

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Chesapeake Energy has named Anadarko Petroleum executive Robert Douglas Lawler as its new CEO.

The appointment of the 46-year-old Lawler comes after a tough year for Chesapeake. Its former CEO Aubrey McClendon was ousted last year amid a scandal over his personal investments in the company's oil and gas wells.

Massive penalty brings down top executives in Kuwait oil sector

KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait's vital oil sector has undergone a major reshuffle, with new executives appointed for the subsidiaries of Kuwait Petroleum Corp, after a new KPC chief was named, the national oil firm said Monday.

The decisions were taken at a meeting late Sunday by KPC board of directors headed by Oil Minister Hani Hussein, replacing all the top executives of the eight subsidiaries and other departments in the KPC.

United to restart 787 flights on Monday

United Airlines is getting its 787s back in the air.

The planes are returning after being grounded for four months by the federal government because of smoldering batteries on 787s owned by other airlines. The incidents included an emergency landing of one plane, and a fire on another.

Commutes long, slow after Conn. train derailment

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut commuters embarked on long, slow trips to and from work Monday following last week's train collision that that injured 72 people and disrupted rail service into New York City.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said commuters should prepare for a week of disruption.

Fill 'er up at Blu ... with natural gas

(Fortune) - If you drive down I-15 past State Highway 160 in Beaver, Utah, you'll see a 30-foot-tall silo with white letters that spell out "Blu." Next to it is a truck stop. It is no ordinary truck stop. The silo contains liquefied natural gas (LNG) chilled to -200° F and ready to fuel specially outfitted 18-wheelers. The facility is owned by Blu Transfuels, a partnership between ENN, one of China's largest clean-energy companies, and CH4 Energy, a small outfit based in Salt Lake City. This year Blu expects to build 50 natural-gas filling stations nationwide.

Tesla's fight with America's car dealers

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Tesla Motors doesn't want to sell its cars the way every other car company does, and that's making a lot of traditional automobile dealers mad. And those dealers are fighting back.

Both sides insist they're only trying to protect car buyers.

Toyota to increase lithium-ion battery production for hybrids

TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp. is planning to increase production of lithium-ion batteries by six times, as the automaker prepares to eventually use them in its flagship Prius gasoline-electric hybrid cars, the Nikkei business daily reported on Sunday.

Currently, most of Toyota's hybrid vehicles use nickel-metal hydride batteries but the automaker is planning to make more cars with lithium-ion batteries, which can be made smaller and lighter, thus enhancing fuel economy, the Nikkei said without citing sources.

Tepco Nuclear Restart Depends on Safety Call as Shares Surge

Tokyo Electric Power Co. needs to assess whether its Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant in northern Japan meets the country’s new safety requirements before applying for a restart of the nuclear facility.

Japan’s biggest power company by generation capacity, known as Tepco, denied that it will ask to restart the idled reactors in July, it said in a statement today, even as its shares surged on a report that it will make an application.

Our need for hydrocarbon and nuclear industries is growing

Compared with wood, coal has fewer free-loading carbon atoms and more energy-loaded bonds with hydrogen atoms. The result is that coal has a better energy density, packing more energy per unit weight. And it does so precisely because it carries less carbon baggage than wood.

As cleverly pointed out by Jesse Ausubel at the Rockefeller University and others, we've been slowly kicking carbon out of our energy mix for over 200 years through transitions from wood to coal, then oil and methane.

This isn't just because the more energy dense hydrocarbons are cleaner, it's simply because they're better.

We can let fission fizzle out in a renewable world

AT THE start of this year Germany officially entered the Dark Ages again – at least according to its state weather service. A mere 22.5 hours of sunshine were recorded in January – a 60-year low. Despite this, the country's power supply, which has a world leading input from solar panels, firmly stood its ground, even without the eight nuclear reactors that were switched off in 2011.

There was sufficient energy for charging smartphones, running dishwashers and the like – and enough for slightly more essential things such as industry or life-support systems in hospitals. And people in need of a fake tan could easily get one.

As Towns Say No, Signs of Rising Resistance to Smart Meters

BRADY, Tex. — In October, the City Council of this Central Texas town voted unanimously to purchase advanced electric meters, known as smart meters, for the city-owned electric utility. But some residents resisted, and the smart meter vote played a large role in last weekend’s recall of the city’s mayor and the electoral defeat of two council members.

Voters here passed a referendum last weekend to enshrine in the City Charter the right of residents to refuse the installation of smart meters on their property. Sheila Hemphill, an organizer of the effort, called the victory her “San Jacinto.”

The reaction in Brady could signal a shift in the debate over smart meters, which collect detailed data on electricity use and transmit it to the utility using radio frequencies. A raft of bills were introduced during the legislative session that would allow individuals to keep their old meters, but all have faltered. Local resistance to smart meters, however, appears to be rising.

Suburban poverty soars

Poverty is growing faster in the suburbs than anywhere else in the United States, soaring 64% over the past decade.

That was more than twice the growth rate of the urban poor population, according to the Brookings Institution, which released a book Monday titled Confronting Suburban Poverty in America. There are now almost 16.4 million suburban residents living below the poverty line, nearly 3 million more than in the cities.

Dear American Consumers: Please don’t start eating healthfully. Sincerely, the Food Industry

Humans evolved in situations in which food was scarce. This led to an evolutionary adaptation that causes you to crave salty, sugary and fatty foods. Consuming foods with these characteristics actually lights up the same pleasure centers in the brain as cocaine. Who wouldn’t play upon that biological craving to increase profits? If one company didn’t, their competitors would, so we all kind of have to do it.

We are also able to provide you with perceived value. Because it doesn’t cost us that much more to make a soda, say, 42 ounces instead of 22, we can almost double the size of a beverage and only charge you 20 percent more. How could you resist a deal like that? You can’t. Trust us, we know.

Farm Equipment That Runs on Oats

After World War II, when farmers traded in tens of millions of horses for tractors — “There was no place for the horses except the glue factory,” Mr. Miller said — the use of draft horses plummeted. By the 1970s, some of the breeds that had been the most popular were down to the thousands.

But “since then, the number of work horses and draft mules has steadily climbed,” said Mr. Miller, who has written more than a dozen books on the subject. “People are attracted to the way of working with animals, of being back in touch with nature, of regaining a kind of rhythmic elegance to our lives.”

Marine who dumped toxins felt illness was payback

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) — Ron Poirier couldn't escape the feeling that his cancer was somehow a punishment.

As a young Marine electronics technician at Camp Lejeune in the mid-1970s, the Massachusetts man figured he'd dumped hundreds of gallons of toxic solvents onto the ground. It would be decades before he realized that he had unknowingly contributed to the worst drinking water contamination in the country's history — and, perhaps, to his own premature death.

Analysis: Airline emissions deal may not come before EU deadline

(Reuters) - Hope is fading for a global deal to regulate the airline industry's greenhouse gas emissions ahead of a fall deadline, even though failure could push the industry back to the brink of a trade war over the European Union's emissions trading system.

Last November the EU suspended its controversial scheme to force all airlines to buy carbon credits for any flight arriving in or departing from European airspace.

Slower warming 'may give climate reprieve'

A recent slowdown in global warming means the harshest climate change predictions are less likely in the immediate decades, say an international team of scientists.

Others argue the conclusions need to be taken with a 'large grain of salt'.

A Change in Temperature

Some recent scientific papers have made a splash by claiming that the answer might not be as bad as previously feared. This work — if it holds up — offers the tantalizing possibility that climate change might be slow and limited enough that human society could adapt to it without major trauma.

Several scientists say they see reasons to doubt that these lowball estimates will in fact stand up to critical scrutiny, and a wave of papers offering counterarguments is already in the works. “The story is not over,” said Chris E. Forest, a climate expert at Pennsylvania State University.

Viewpoints: Should California cap and trade use forestry offsets? Yes

The opportunity before California could have large impacts beyond our border – accepting limited carbon offsets from states that meet rigorous criteria for reducing tropical deforestation. Carbon offsets in California's cap-and-trade program play a limited role in overall state reductions, and any tropical forest offsets could – and should – also play only a minor role within the program.

Viewpoints: Should California cap and trade use forestry offsets? No

When Californians passed AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, we committed to one of the most forward-thinking pieces of climate legislation in the country, with comprehensive strategies to reduce carbon emissions from nearly all sectors of the economy. Unfortunately, the California Air Resources Board is considering a move that will undermine the best intent of this law by linking it to a benign-sounding yet dubious and untried scheme to protect rain forests in Mexico and Brazil.

Many peasant farmers and indigenous people who live in those forests oppose the proposal, fearing it will repeat an all-too-familiar pattern of land-grabbing, without actually stopping deforestation. Californians should oppose it, too.

Why Summer in the City Will Get More Deadly

Heat kills. In 1995 five days of stifling heat lead to more than 750 deaths in Chicago, as mostly elderly and sick people died in their ovenlike apartments. In 2003, a record heat wave struck much of Europe, which led to as many as 70,000 additional deaths due in part to heat. France, which was unused to lingering heat in the summers and which mostly lacks air conditioning, was hardest hit. Thousands of elderly people died during the heat wave in August of that year, so many that some bodies were left unclaimed for weeks. Undertakers in Paris ran out of space to store all the corpses.

Floating homes and schools on stilts: Climate-proofing our towns and cities

‘Understanding why changes are occurring today and how they could increase in the future is the first step in maintaining the security of our coastal regions for future generations.’

The challenge of maintaining that security is being tackled all over the world, but with particular innovation in Rotterdam. The Dutch port city – the busiest in Europe – lies almost entirely below sea level on the delta formed by the Rhine and Meuse rivers, making it extremely vulnerable to flooding.

With sea levels set to rise, its planners are already looking ahead, vowing to make Rotterdam completely ‘climate-proof’ by 2025.

Coast Guard investigating Shell barge that ran aground in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Coast Guard will kick off hearings Monday on how a Royal Dutch Shell PLC drill barge used for Arctic Ocean exploratory drilling ended up aground off a remote Alaska island.

Japan should strategically engage in discussions on Arctic development

As an increasing number of countries have clearly demonstrated their interest in the commercial and military potential of the Arctic Ocean, the government should unite relevant parties to draw up a national strategy on the region.

Tad Patzek came out with another great blog yesterday:
Energy Exports May Not Be Good (Bold His)

On May 17th, 2013, Joe Nocera of the New York Times wrote an editorial, Energy Exports Are Good! In it he follows the classic paradigm of neoliberalism: Let the "markets" decide what will happen with natural gas and let us export it if someone so desires...

So far so good, especially if everything can be traded over infinitely long times (centuries for us) with a perfectly smooth substitution of one resource for another and one product for another. But this assumption does not hold for depletable resources, whose production does not adjust easily and instantaneously to demand.

As everyone should know by now, the US is gearing up to export NGLs and with hopes to start exporting LNG in the future. Reference link up top.
Natural Gas Rises 5% From Week Ago as U.S. Approves LNG Exports

The Freeport LNG project became the second to get approval from the Energy Department to export gas to countries that don’t have free-trade agreements with the U.S. The facility would be able to ship 1.4 billion cubic feet of gas a day.

Patzek argues that this is really a dumb idea. He uses Margaret Thacher's decision to pursue a vigorous export policy for the United Kingdom. The UK exported oil when it was very cheap and now they are importing oil when it is very expensive.

M. King Hubbert would most definitely agree with Patzek:

Were we a rational society, a virtue of which we have rarely been accused, we would husband our oil and gas resources.
- M. King Hubbert

Hubbert once referred to our energy policy as our "Drain America First Policy".

Ron P.

Exporting NG is pretty dumb. Cheap NG gives many US industries an advantage over other countries. If NG price equalizes those industries will move abroad where labor is cheaper.

It's not about the US industries having an advantage. It's about enormous multinational corporations maximizing their profit. That is the only metric.

Yeah, I agree with this. Yes, it is a bit protectionist. So be it. Our middle-class has been hollowed by manufacturing fleeing the country and that has really hurt the economy. We now have a manufacturing advantage in the form of cheap natural gas? Well keep it here. Let them build the paint, fertilizer, plastics, etc. factories here and ship final product abroad.

I agree. If we export NG now we will get $5/MBtu for it. Twenty years later we will be importing it from Qatar at $50/MBtu. Keep our NG in the country for our use!!

And so often people imagine that "isolationism and protectionism" is one word.

Wendell Berry had a neat take on securing our ability to provision ourselves.

    Some call this protectionism, “... that is exactly what it is. It is a protectionism that is just and sound, because it protects local producers and is the best assurance of adequate supplies to local consumers.

He then makes a crucial distinction.

    A thoughtful protectionism is “... the best guarantee of giveable or marketable surpluses. This kind of protection is not ‘isolationism’.

When I read Joe Nocera's op-ed, I was again taken by the basic ignorance of the media in America. Or, worse, by the possibility that our media has become so subverted by the money interests on Wall Street and Washington that there's no longer any way to stop the flow of propaganda which appears daily on all news channels.

For the moment, the market price of NG is low, which would be an incentive for the industrial users of NG (who previously relocated their plants to other nations with lower prices) to return to the US. It would seem obvious how important it is that the US production of fertilizer increase, thus making our nation less dependent on imports. If we ship that NG overseas, how will the US be able to provide food for our increasing population, if some future series of events leads to a cutoff in imports? Or, is it expected that the US military will be able to keep the flow going thru application of force, even as our industrial production continues to shift to China and other Asian nations? It's every man/woman/corporation for him/her/it self, as the ship slowly sinks below the waves of a rising sea...

E. Swanson

The industries have already been on the move back. This fertilizer plant is mammoth and there have been recent reports of similar projects by European industries that use natural gas. NG U.S. Stock levels are down, prices are rising. With only 350 rigs drilling ...

Yield Outweighed Risk for Iowa Fertilizer Debt Buyers

The deal – rated BB-minus by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s -- was one of the largest private activity and sub-investment-grade municipal bond issues ever. The company will use proceeds to finance construction of a nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing plant in Lee County, Iowa. The bonds mature in 2019, 2022, and 2025 with respective yields of 4.8%, 5.1%, and 5.3%.

The project has some strong fundamentals from the company’s international experience and low natural gas prices needed for production to strong Midwestern demand for a product that is now primarily imported. The project’s capital structure benefits from an upfront equity investment of $581 million and a prefunded debt service reserve. Interest is being capitalized.

Irrigated fields require much more artificial fertilizer than dryland fields because the irrigation water washes the nitrogen out of the soil or below the root level, according to On The Great Plains: Agriculture And Environment

So when the Ogallala Aquifer dries up, expect fertilizer demand to shrink.

Leached nutrients via irrigation is not normal. Normal irrigation doesn't waste water like that.

On The Great Plains: Agriculture And Environment. My bold and paragraphing.

Page 226: "How did the shift from dryland cropping to irrigation alter the agricultural nitrogen dynamics in the Ogallala region?"

Page 229: The enormous additions of fertilizer in Crosby County were in large part the result of irrigation. In many ways Crosby County mirrors national trends in U.S. agriculture, both dryland and irrigated. Practically all farming has become dependent on synthetic fertilizers since World War II, but it is revealing to compare fertilizer use in irrigated Crosby County with that in dry Rooks County in 1978 (see Table 8.4). Farmers in Rooks County applied an average of 42 pounds of nitrogen per acre of cropland; those in Crosby County doubled that, applying 81 pounds per acre. The main reason for the difference was irrigation. Irrigation increases nutrient export in two ways.

First, it boosts production per acre, meaning that more produce leaves the system than under a dry regime. Crop budgets for dryland grain sorghum in the area around Crosby County estimated yields at 1,200 pounds of grain per acre, compared to 7,000 pounds per acre for heavily irrigated sorghum. Dryland cotton yielded about 197 pounds of lint per acre and highly irrigated cotton, 600 pounds." All of those extra pounds of crop produce took considerable amounts of nutrients with them.

Second, irrigation accelerates the processes that remove nutrients from the soil naturally. Rainfall can wash elements so deep into the soil that plants cannot reach them. It can also wash nutrients into surface streams and rivers. When water runs through soils, it moves nutrients with it. Adding additional "rainfall" through irrigation increases such losses. Because irrigation farmers regularly run water through their land, they must constantly replenish the nitrogen they wash away in the process.

Sandy soils have traditionally made poor farmland, in part because they are so permeable to water that they can hold little moisture and few nutrients to nourish crop plants. Sprinkler irrigation and artificial fertilizer allow farmers to plant on sandier soil than they could otherwise use because they have the means to continually replenish water and nutrients that drain away.

Crop budgets estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the southern plains reflect these realities. Dryland cotton and that irrigated only before planting requires no fertilizer whatsoever, whereas cotton irrigated before planting and once during the growing season requires 40 pounds of nitrogen per acre, on average. Cotton irrigated twice during the growing season needs 60 pounds of nitrogen. Sprinkler-irrigated cotton on sandy soils requires more water -- a pre-planting irrigation plus four waterings during the season -- and 70 pounds of nitrogen. The more water they put on crops, the more fertilizer farmers must apply to nourish them.

For decades the US has been able to export $100 bills, T bills, bonds and other fiat in exchange for real goods. Are we reaching a point where we must actually trade real for real - natural gas, fertilizer or goods with embedded energy for example - or else do without?

That's not true. We export movies, TV shows, wheat, corn, iPhones, network gear, processors, farm equipment, financial services, weapons, refined petroleum products, etc. Yes, we have a trade deficit but it is not as big as many think.

What is not true? "Are movies, TV shows, wheat, corn, iPhones, network gear, processors, farm equipment, financial services, weapons, refined petroleum products" not real. Is our debt growing? How many $100 bills are held in Europe and other countries. Is that debt? Should we count unfunded liabilities as debt? How much do we owe China? Why is it OK to export petroleum products but not natural gas?
---Incidentally the redesigned $100 bills are now scheduled for release in October

Irrespective of other comments on the agovernmental nature of multinationals and the extremely wealthy, I'll say this about exports from any given country: exporting finished goods as opposed to raw materials is better for the local economy because the value-added work, where local workers have jobs, is part of the multiplier effect. History is studded with successful nations which had few natural resources but built tremendous influence through value-added labor: ancient Phoenicia, imperial England, modern Japan. The US, which is still rich in many resources, is giving away a natural advantage in exporting the raw stuff. Refined petroleum products are among the value-added products. (Witness net exporters like Mexico and Saudi Arabia which have to import the finished stuff because they don't have refining capacity at home.)

Very true. However liquefied natural gas would be a value-added product giving local workers jobs. If the price difference between US and foreign gas decreases exporting may become uneconomic. For years we were expecting to import liquified gas. There was a huge controversy years back about a planned plant near Oxnard California coast - to import gas. Many were convinced that it might blow up Oxnard. Costa Azul LNG near Ensenada, Mexico was once planned to supply the US market. Its original stock price increased many times. My own pure guess is that US natural gas prices will continue to rise and that there will be few if any LNG exports regardless of bureaucratic, environmental or legal restrictions. I wonder what Art Berman thinks?

I don't know what others think, so I don't know if its smaller than that or not. But the US trade deficit is around 40 billion monthly, or about 3% of gdp. source

I think that's big. It means the US is slowly selling itself to the rest of the world in exchange for more consumption now. If the economy grows by 3% or more this can go on long-term, but if it doesn't, somewhere things will go wrong.

The U.S. imports and exports. As someone pointed out to me here, the U.S. imported about 3.108 billion barrels of crude oil in 2012 (EIA data) which at $110/barrel is $342 billion/year or $29 billion/month. The importation of transportation fuel accounts for most of that imbalance.

"Financial services" are not value added by any stretch of the imagination. The "debt bombs" our financial engineers have created should be classified as weapons of mass destruction.

Additionally, iPhones and Apples other "i" products are manufactured in China. Once again, no value added. The network gear is also manufactured in China, and in some products, the software is outsourced to India. The profits from these products mostly benefit the rentier class and do little for the general economy.

If your interest is strictly in the numeric trade balance, you are correct. But if you look at the long term health and sustainability of the economy, what we are exporting tells a different story.

I agree - we must look at what the value add really is as opposed to just accepting what an "American" corporation claims as "their" product. And as for the wheat and corn, it is mostly mining of soil and water driven by imported fossil fuel inputs, and diesel to power the machines.

If apple purchases an iPhone in China for $10, and sells it for $200, which country benefits most from the transaction?

Well, China at least keeps the $10 & associated taxes on the $10.
For Apple, the $190 balance typically ends up in an offshore bank account, with $0 going to shareholders and $0 going to the U.S. government.

Live Blog: Apple and Corporate Taxes


"With a Senate panel about to examine how Apple sidestepped tens of billions of dollars in taxes around the world, a showdown may be shaping up."

Apple sells the iPhone outside the US, and brings the $190 from whatever country it was sold in into the US, clearly the US economy benefits the most.
If the money never gets to the US, China clearly benefits from the $10 in its economy.
Whether its the $10 or the $190, the money will be taxed several times as it moves through the host economy.
The economy where the iPhone is located will perhaps benefit from an increase in the efficiency of the economy - perhaps the aggregate of iPhones will be worth the money spent, perhaps not, perhaps the iPhones will be a net loss to the host society as people text and play games as they lane change their way to and fro.

The $190 benefits the rentier class, not so much main st. Apple has about $100billion in offshore cash. Hows the trickle down going?

"Apple sells the iPhone outside the US, and brings the $190 from whatever country it was sold in into the US"

Do they? According to everything that I read about Apple accounting, the money that Apple makes outside the US, stays on its bank accounts outside the US. That's why they are sitting on that huge 150 billion cash pile. It's outside the US and they don't know what to do with it, as they don't want it to get taxed.

That was intended as a hypothetical rather than a statement of fact. I can see how it could be read either way.


Additionally, iPhones and Apples other "i" products are manufactured in China.

Are you kidding? Yes, it would be nice if the were manufactured here but the fact that they are designed here and means Apple collects the vast majority of the profit. The manufacturers make very little money except for the people that own the factory.

First, I do not agree that the location in which the product is designed equates to who makes the majority of the profit.

Second, having taken iPhones apart (and being an electronic hardware designer), I'm very skeptical about how much of that product is actually designed by Apple. Where did the engineers who designed the camera or the little motor that makes it vibrate live? Who did the circuit board layouts? Who designed the semiconductors or the actual LCD panel?

Perhaps the engineers are in India?

Apple doesn't have a development center here. They do everything in Cupertino. Majority of development is in the field of chip design and software, panels, materials, batteries and most of the external hardware is bought from third parties, Samsung provides the DDR, display is provided by Sharp, batteries by someone else, camera and image sensor from another third party. A lot of the specialized software is also bought from third parties for example video codecs are provided by a company that is our competitor.

It's impossible to design the entire cellphone from scratch nowadays, the product life cycle simply doesn't allow that luxury. What they do differently is that they dictate to their partners the way others don't. Apple teams from other companies usually don't interact with anyone else and neither is the product shared.

Yep. There was story some time ago about the lead designer Jony Ive nearly leaving Apple, due to the constant travel to Asia keeping him apart from his family. Guess why he needs to be there all the time? Everyone with experience in the manufacturing industry knows that R&D follows manufacturing wherever it moves geographically, as it's almost impossible to properly design and develop stuff remotely, without direct contact with your manufacturing facilities. And most of Apple's products are in fact designed and developed by suppliers, all of them in Asia. The only thing that Apple designs itself is the overall look of the devices and maybe the ARM SoC.

That is what I thought. Those skills are not considered "core competencies", they are considered to be grunt work. I know because I do that kind of work - I'm a dinosaur, an analog circuit, power supply and circuit board designer among other things.

The only thing that Apple designs itself is the overall look of the devices and maybe the ARM SoC.

They divested themselves of the ARM ownership years ago. No doubt they have people doing chip design, but what of the software on the machines?

Doesn't that software creation effort count as design?

A little ;-) (I'm a hardware designer)

Wait - Black Dog - you are taken by the possibility that our media may have become subverted???

Where have you been?

Propaganda appearing on the news channels?

Folks really need to wake up to the fact that the news is not the news. The news channels are not serving you or the American public. They are selling your attention to their sponsors. It is the only reason they exist.

People have some old time folksy notions that the old time folksy images on the boob tube are there for their edification. This is cut-throat business. They are literally killing people to capture your attention, that so many still willingly give.

Waiting, or expecting, the news channels or the media to tell it like it is, or they way you would like, is a fool's errand. It ain't gonna happen.

Time for Plan B.

Exporting energy is a very poor idea. It is worth far more turned into products. Or used in the future to balance renewable energy.

But the US cannot afford the cost of shale gas and that is what the industry has to offer. So I think they are desperate to tap into much more energy efficient markets where the supportable prices are much higher.

Right now, I think inexpensive natural gas is subsidizing the US usage of oil. If natural gas prices double (or triple) back to profitability, it would be a huge diversion of peoples income, and we can expect another recession. Gas prices should see an increase (due to natural gas use in refining) and VMT should see another drop.

As I mentioned earlier, it's not about nation states. It's about multinational corporations with no alliegance to any country. They will do what maximizes their profits. That's the system, that's the setup. There is no national control over this. It's complete globalization.

"The US" this and "The US" that. There is no "US" that makes rational decisions about anything. It's all been privatized.

Thanks for reemphasizing this twice today. "Follow the money" is the only rule you need to know to understand the economy. Its very simple yet most people don't seem to understand, willfully I think.

The oil and gas industry doesn't care about you or me, whether we live or die, whether we are happy or sad. These entities don't care about the health of the US economy, or the quality of the environment, or anything beyond the next quarterly report and their stock price. They care about maximizing profit and nothing else.

The actual humans who work for these entities may care about all of these things, but that is irrelevant.

This is a situation I've remarked on before and find interesting. On one hand you have one group of wealthy/powerful/connected individuals who will profit immensely by exporting the empire's precious energy resources to other places. Clearly however, this runs counter to the interests of the empire as a whole, and there are other wealthy/powerful/connected individuals who's interests are more tied to the general well being of the empire.

Who wins, and how long is it allowed to continue? Or is there no longer enough power to stop it and the empire is already dead, with the carcass being picked clean?

My guess is that at some point there will be an attempt to consolidate power around the core of the empire, not too different from Putin vs. the Oligarchs in Russia.

I get a strong sense of "the carcass being picked clean", and have for many years. But we shall see.

Yeah, it will be interesting - I really have no idea if there is enough fight left in it for another rally. I guess I assumed that these things take time and the old order is sometimes more persistent than it seems, but who knows?

This is a good point.

The role of the entity called the United States of America is to allow itself to go into infinite amounts of debt, called Treasury bonds, and to allow the banks to manipulate the interest of said debt down to zero.

That's its only role now. If it fails in this role, it collapses, because it has no other role, no other reason for being.

Darwinian... just to add more insult to injury to the supposed "LNG Export Bonanza", this article describes some of the reality now hitting the energy industry:

Commodity firms' cost-cutting stampede yet to work - Russell

While Australia has $188 billion of liquefied natural gas projects approved and under construction, the chances that more will be sanctioned are dimming.

Already Woodside Petroleum, the nation's largest oil and gas producer, has shelved its Browse LNG project in Western Australia, saying the economics no longer stack up.

Speculation is also mounting that Royal Dutch Shell and its partner PetroChina will defer their $20 billion Arrow LNG project in Queensland, on Australia's east coast.

The Arrow venture is the last of the four coal-seam gas to LNG projects planned for Queensland and rising costs and difficulties in securing adequate gas supplies may make it more viable for Shell to scrap building its own plant and instead sell gas to a rival operator in exchange for an equity holding or offtake agreement.

Furthermore, cost cutting is hitting all sectors of the commodity industry. Gold exploration is down 55%.. and it looks like that percentage will increase going forward.

Lastly, the movement of that Barbarous Relic, Gold seems to be picking up speed... and that is the flows are moving from West to East at a higher pace"

At this rate, the United States will be exporting 700-800 metric tonnes. Even though a good portion of this gold is heading to the U.K. and Switzerland, a significant portion of that amount is still ending up in the Eastern countries.

Again.. the West prints money and fabricates derivatives, while the East exchanges worthless fiat money for gold.

I get so tired of hearing this junk. Gold is only one commodity you can trade for dollars.

That is the whole point...

You spend dollars. You trade gold. If you had 14 oz of gold and wanted to buy a car, you would most likely need to find someone to purchase the gold. Then you could buy the car with the "fiat" money.

I just don't understand the obsession with gold. Yeah, it is worth a lot per oz. Still, at some point there needs to be an understanding of what that means. It turns out it is only worth something in relation to the labor of a man. That is the standard, because that is how value is created.

If you don't hold gold, what do you care what it is worth? If the US suddenly quit... and the dollar was no long worth anything, you would need to find a new way to value that gold. Unless a country uses the gold to mint money, by stamping on it the value in, say, Rands. At which point it becomes impossible to have fractional banking, most international trade craters. Exchanging gold is too expensive. Small measures of gold are, well, too small to carry and use. For instance, a dollar would be about 1 1400th of one ounce of gold. That is a speck. Wanna buy a coke? gold won't work.

More than that, banking and trade are done with electronic dollars. Hell, there aren't even any real fiat dollars for the most part. How much of your last $100 in purchases at Wal-Mart/Costco/etc. were done with cash? If you're like me, you used debit cards (Costco only takes American Express).

Also, whilst it used to be true that gold was difficult to counterfeit, today we hear of elaborate ruses in fake gold bars and coins. If you need an assay every time a gold coin or bar is traded, the coin or bar will be eroding as part of it is take with each transaction. Talk about deflation!

Nuff said. Gold is just another thing you can trade for dollars. Or pounds sterling. Or euros. And hold as a low pay, relatively low risk investment (if you had purchased gold at its high a while back, you would wonder about that, though).



You're missing the point. Neither gold nor silver is subject to hyperinflation.

Gold price October 2008: $761
Gold price September 2011: $1777
Gold price April 2013: $1490

Gold, a stable currency?

source: index mundi

The dollar was not subject to hyperinflation during these periods.

The value of everything constantly changes. This includes gold. Gold is not going to appreciate every year in US $ or any other currency. It doesn't have to. The attraction of gold lies in the fact that there is no counter party risk to it, it is portable, and its value never goes to zero. Gold mined 5000 years ago is still valuable and will be valuable 5000 years from now if our species does not go extinct. All paper assets and paper currencies on the other hand go to zero eventually.

At a time when the global financial system is essentially insolvent and your bank account could get "Cyprused" and your brokerage account could get "Corzined" any time, buying gold is a no brainer.

It now takes Rs 100,000 to buy gold that you could buy 50 years ago for Rs 100. That is why Indians love gold. It is a hedge against an irresponsible and corrupt government run by idiots. You could say something similar about US. It now takes $1400 to buy gold that you could buy 40 years ago for $35. Perhaps there is a stock that has performed even better but how would you pick that 40 years in advance?

Chances are in another 40 years someone will say that once you could buy gold for $1400 - what a deal.
People tend to think their moment in history is special - and it won't occur again as it has in the past. This indeed may be the case if there is a logical reason - but I cannot understand how the many ways that this moment in history is different than those that have gone before, in their cumulative impact, should adversely effect the price of gold with respect to the dollar over the course of time.

5000 years from now gold may be worth very little because nuclear engineers may be able to transmute other elements into gold. We've already figured out how to make synthetic diamonds. It is only a matter of technology and energy before we can synthesize gold. Assuming civilization continues, we can probably figure it out in the next 5000 years.

There was an episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Rip Van Winkle Caper" that I always think of when these discussions come up. Good episode worth a watch...the premise is that they rob a train of gold from Fort Knox and then go into hibernation boxes for 100 years, they wake, yada yada, two are left and they're walking across the desert trying to get to a town when the one realizes he's left his water behind...


"One drink, one bar of Gold. That's the price"

It gets worse from there...until the twist at the end.

Understand the difference between paper and physical gold...

Unlike other "commodities" it is entirely reasonable to imagine carrying on ones self $200,000 of gold in the event of a major financial/economic collapse and one needed to flee. It is still happenning to the this very day, e.g. Syria...

Because Zaphod, gold has always had value and will continue do so in the future, while fiat currency which today in the US has no backing whatsoever could dissolve into valueless paper. If and when that may happen those countries with gold will be holding tons of highly valuable tangible assets. Not a bad thing to have if a new currency has to be started in the aftermath of collapse. At least initially it will have backing. Without backing what will the US tell people? The new currency is chicken based. For every 5 dollars there is a chicken at Fort (chicken coup) Knox. "I'll take a basket full of apples." "That will be 3 chickens, I mean 15 dollars."

Any currency could dissolve into valueless paper. When that happens the underlying economy fails as well, and you are stuck doing commodity trades until you decide what things are worth and establish a medium of exchange. Any agreed medium will work.

Millennia ago people made wheels of stone with holes in the middle. Once it was established that one wheel was the value of one week of work, fractional wheels could be used, with whole wheels, as a medium of exchange. It is the agreement that sets the value, not the particular commodity.

How much intrinsic value there is in the token is not important. Gold is impractical today because it is too expensive to mine it to use it as currency. There is simply not enough gold to back all of the moneys of all the nations of the world - think of it as the eroei of money.

I absolutely disagree with you that gold is or should be considered anything but a nice shiny metal for use in jewelry, or as an electrical conductor of great importance. But as money gold sucks.

The best you can say is that, as an investment gold holds its value in times of inflation. Just like copper, tin, silver, iron, uranium, zinc, and most other commodity metals. The ones that have other uses are better investments. In hard times, who really needs jewelry?


Gold has infinite ability to back currency, the more it backs the more efficient it becomes.

Gold and silver coins, when used as money are still largely base metal with a set fraction as gold or silver.

You are free to explain the arbitrary nature of 'value', and to choose what you do and don't value yourself.. but the history and cultural legacy of things we value are going to be inevitable drivers in why Gold will remain one of the key materials associated with value, and used as a storage medium FOR value.

The fact that it doesn't rust is probably as important to this continued role, as are its shininess, applicability as Jewelry and Bling, and that very rarity itself, as a source of what makes owning it 'special'.

Don't NEED Jewelry? Don't be blinded by pragmatism, now... As the Office Flirt said to Alan Rickman in 'Love, Actually', Mia: "I don't want something I need. I want something I want - something pretty." .. and I don't really even believe this is out of place. Gifts, Like Money are symbols and forms of essential communication.. even THOUGH they are all-too-frequently misplaced or 'done wrong'.. such is love, but that doesn't mean it's meaningless, either. 'Love, actually, is all around.'

Keep telling yourself that Gold is really great as money. I concede to facts - Gold is nice stuff. And not rusting is a good feature. Platinum doesn't rust either. Should we look for platinum coins soon?

As far as it being a storage medium for value it doesn't rust. That's about it. Check out long term prices for gold. Overall a substandard investment. It is a traditional haven in times of extreme distress, like wars, hyper-inflationary periods and the like. When deflation comes along, gold falls with the best of 'em.

I suppose the only real thing to say for gold is that, whereas all great empires in the past have fallen (or are in the process), their gold is still around. Even as coins in some cases!

I don't really think, though, that it helps much for the people involved in those cases. And, an extreme example is Spain, which hoarded most of the gold (all they could get their hands on), and still became a second-rate power during the middle ages et.seq. Having all (that's hyperbole, btw. But,...most of) the gold in the world didn't help them much.


I'm not saying that 'Having Gold makes you successful' , or that Gold is a great, growing investment.. All I am saying is that People have viewed it as an intrinsically valuable element for the Historical reasons we have all seen, and that people will in all likelihood continue to do so..

It doesn't mean other currencies, Paper, Digital, ClamShells won't also run their courses and possibly do the real financial work of a culture alongside gold, just that Gold will continue to be regarded as a financial stalwart, and will remain in demand, will continue to be traded, horded and valued.

In any case, I hope we're not also falling into the error of extremes in this conversation, as so often happens when I advocate for PV or EV .. None of these things is a 'Silver Bullet'.. ahem! .. none is a monolith to become the 'Sole Power' or the 'Sole form of Currency'.. but by the same (cough, cough) Token, Gold ain't goin' away, either. Arbitrarily chosen or not, it's had 5 or more millenia in which to cement it's role with our species, and as you said yourself, many of those oldest trinkets are still with us. For a Mortal Race, having something that Glows and Persists as if it came from the IMMORTALS is not a point that people are simply going to turn away from.


"Having all the gold in the world didn't help them much."

.. the moral to oh, so many a tale about wealth and materialism. Now I'm going to be humming the Titanic song for the rest of the afternoon, thanks!

It seems to me there are at least two kinds of monetary value. In both cases the buyer wants a product, say food to keep it basic, and the seller has an excess of that product. But in one case the seller has no need for your money, maybe it was just a bumper crop that year. In the other case most of your money is needed to pass along to the workers and suppliers of resources who were necessary for that and next years crop.

In the former case the seller is likely to want something that has long term use or beauty like gold. The latter case is the essence of capitalism, and fiat money can work nicely as long as there are wage slaves and resources to exploit.

Copper was highly valued in Antiquity, its alloys even more so eg perhaps orichalcum. It was extremely highly valued by native Americans at the time of first contact.
Copper is still considered to be of value by the general public, while many would have no idea of value if offered a coin of palladium.
There has almost always been copper coins due to general recognition of its value. Early in the Roman Republic the copper coins were actually worth quite a bit.

There is quite a big trade internationally in physical gold. Many tons were moved into South Africa recently. Why INTO a gold-mining country? It turns out the bars were sent to the Rand Refinery for re-refining, possibly into different-sized bars before moving on to their final destination.

A spokesman for Brinks, which specializes in moving precious metals, confirmed in a radio interview that movements of tons of gold at a time are not unusual. They do it all the time.

I posted the following in another forum discussing the banking crises however it perhaps also has relevance in the above discussion ?

I disagree with the OP in that the current banking problem was not caused by Fractional Reserve per se, rather it was caused by a belief amongst the banking industry that money itself could create more money without going through the hassle of investing into a real productive enterprise.

The older financial and banking method involved lending to business enterprises which used that capital in one way or another to mine new wealth from the earth, that might involve growing food, provide potable water, dig gold, lead or coal from the ground, drill for oil or gas OR that capital was used to increase the value of the previously mentioned commodities via further processing, a jeweller used the gold to make a ring, corn was processed to provide a dietary supplement, a potato was peeled, chipped and frozen, oil was refined into petrol or lubricants, natural gas was processed into plastics or fertiliser.

The bank or an investor made a profit from loaning capital to the above enterprises, the profit was real and was underpinned by the tangible industrial product of the initial invested capital and the money supply grew.

Then came the so called masters of the universe or financial engineers, these geniuses no longer required the boring bit about tapping the earths bounty to ensure real tangible growth. Instead they told us that money can beget money, good and bad loans were sliced, diced, packaged as products (?) sold to pension funds and the money supply grew, except that the profits were not underpinned by real tangible products and so the new money evaporated as quickly as the bad loans unwound leaving us where we are now with systemic unpayable debt.

The debt is unpayable simply because the money supply has shrunk because the imaginary product which underpined the imaginary increase in the money supply both evaporated but the debt has not.

Central banks have been printing hundreds of billions a year for a few years now and people ask, where is all this new money hiding ? Where is the inflation which normally accompanies QE ?

The answer is that these billions are being pumped into the balance sheets of the banks, the pension funds and the pillars and foundations of the financial system itself in order to prepare these entities to carry this unpayable debt for the next few decades until inflation itself pays it back. None of this printing is reaching the real economy, by design rather than luck.

The pace of QE will begin to ease from here on, the next step will be tightly managed inflation as SOME of the printing is purposely leaked into the real economy, the economy populated by you and I.

At this stage the experiment will be marked a failure and the system, along with us mere mortals, will move on.

We will leave the reason why the experiment was attempted in the first place for another forum perhaps (maybe the Oildrum ?)

But perhaps the next experiment to be undertaken by the banking system might involve the concept of risk sharing, rather than or in conjunction with, the old system of interest on capital invested in real productive enterprises making real products which have a tangible value.

Can anyone tell me when the drilling started back up in the Baaken and Eagle Ford? I am guessing around 2007? Wouldn't that make it a long player for tight oil without much of a decline yet? Also if NG goes up in price won't you have more drillers going back to NG wells bringing price back down and supplies back up? I am trying to figure out just how long we have before another economic collapse and the both seem so tied together...

At the end of 2006 there were less than 300 wells in the Bakken. I am not sure but I think they were all conventional wells. There are two anticlines in the Bakken where conventional oil was produced. Then they began to increase at between 25 to 50 per month until July 2011. Then they really took off. From July 2011 until the present they have averaged almost 160 additional wells per month in the Bakken. I say "additional" wells because they drilled a lot more than that, between 180 and 200 per month but a lot were shut in during that time.

North Dakota doesn't tell us how many wells were drilled or how many were shut in, they just give us the number of "Wells Producing". There are 718,791 wells producing in the Bakken and 782,934 wells producing in all North Dakota. That means there are only 64,143 wells producing outside the Bakken.

I don't have the data on Eagle Ford.

Ron P.

Hi Ron,

You got your columns mixed up. There are 8361 producing wells in North Dakota as of March 2013. In the Bakken/Three Forks there were 5457 wells in March 2013, so 2904 wells outside the Bakken. You are correct that we don't know how many wells are shut down per month, I think your estimates are pretty high, I would guess about 2 to 3 wells are shut in per month. Just look at the Bakken data, at the beginning of 2005 there were 188 producing wells, it is now about 100 months later, if all 188 of the wells producing in Jan 2005 have been shut in and an equal number were shut in per unit time, that would be about 2 wells per month, any wells which have come on line since 2005 are unlikely to have been shut in after 8 years or less.


You are right DC, I got off on the wrong column. Very clumsily of me.

On the number of wells shut in each month I am sure it is a lot more than 2 to 3 per month.

If you search: America strikes oil | NATIONAL INFOGRAPHIC Then click on the Bakken map about 10 inches down from the top. Then click again to enlarge. All the yellow dots represent an "Inactive, dry or abandoned well. You will not see any yellow dots at first glance, especially if you have defective color vision like I have. But if you squint you will see about a thousand of them.

True, a lot of them are along the anticlines and were traditional wells. But I counted over 40 in the Parshall field alone, one of the first tight oil sweet spots in the Bakken.

But I will not argue the point because I really have no idea how many are shut down each month and have no data at all on that matter. But you must remember that Chesapeake shut down 8 wells in the lower Bakken, all in one month I suppose:
Search: Chesapeake Drills Unsuccessful Wells in Southwest ND

Chesapeake secured leases in a large part of the state, south of I-94.

They drilled 8 wells, only 3 produced oil -- but at minimal amounts.

So little that all holes have been shut in.

That's just what they do when a well produces little or no oil. And likely throughout the Bakken there are a lot of such wells.

Ron P.

Hi Ron,

Sorry to belabor the point, as I agree that we don't really have an answer.

There will always be some dry holes drilled, but as far as producing wells that get shut in, I contend that the number may be fairly small.

Let's say there are 1000 abandoned wells and all of them were once producing and now have been shut in (so that we ignore dry holes which I don't have any data on).

Oil production started in North Dakota in 1951 and by 1953 there were 100 producing wells, let's assume the average well life is 25 years, if that is correct then by 1978 we should start to see wells being shut in and there should be about 100 over the 1978 to 1983 period. That would be about 2 wells per month on average over 60 months. Over the 1978 to 2012 period (34 years or 408 months) at an average of 2.5 wells shut in per month we get 1020 wells shut in, so there are your 1000 shut in wells.

I am not claiming that exactly 2.5 wells are shut in per month it will fluctuate above and below this probably between 0 and 5 wells most months. I do not think that it rises anywhere near 25 wells shut in per month.

For the Bakken/ Three Forks since 2005 I am confident that it is 2 or 3 wells shut in per month. For the Bakken: April, 1984 67 wells, Oct 1993 256 wells, so 189 wells were added from 4/1984 to 10/1993. In Jan 2005 there were 188 producing wells which were between 11 and 21 years old because the 68 oldest wells were shut in over the 1994 to 2005 period (producing wells decreased from 256 to 188 over this period).

Looking back at older Bakken wells (which were conventional vertical wells rather than horizontal fracked wells), the well life was around 15 years. We will be optimistic and say the avg well life is 19 years and that the 188 producing wells in Jan 2005 were between 11 and 19 years old. In the 96 months from Jan 2005 to Jan 2013, if 188 wells are shut in, then 188 wells/96 months=1.96 wells/month.

For anyone interested I have a new post at oilpeakclimate blog

The link is in my profile or a google search will find it.


so based on your educated guess we could start to see major declines in the Baaken in 2015.??

It all depends on prices and costs. For example the cost of drilling and fracking a well may decrease over time, I have assumed that cost remains constant, I have also assumed the well productivity decreases in a manner that will match the USGS mean estimate if wells ramp up as predicted by the North Dakota Industial Commission (NDIC). I have also assumed real oil prices increase by 7.57 % per year between 2013 and 2037. All of these assumptions are likely to be incorrect. Think of these scenarios as if a,b,c,...,z happen, then oil output from the ND Bakken/Three Forks will look like ...


DC, thanks for the link and the very informative post. And as we both agree there is no way we can know just how many wells are shut in each month. But we both know that in the past a lot more wells were shut in than 2 or three each month. For instance between November 2008 and February 2009 the number of "producing wells" in North Dakota declined by 170, from 4,067 to 3,897. They declined by 110 in one month, January of 2009. And again in January 10 the number of producing wells declined by 13, in January of 2011 by 36 and in June 2011 by 17.

Of course a lot of wells were being drilled during these months so the decline number had to be "number of wells shut in minus the number of wells drilled." Notice that in June 2011 the number of "producing wells" in the Bakken increased by 60 but all North Dakota wells decreased by 17. That means at least 77 wells in North Dakota had to be shut down in June of 2011. I would be shocked if only 2 or 3 of those wells were in the Bakken. My guess would be somewhere around 20.

Your blog is great. Keep up the good work. I will be following it on a regular basis from now on.

Ron P.

Hi Ron,

Thank you.

I am mostly focused on the Bakken/Three Forks and have not looked as closely at all of North Dakota. You may be correct that a lot of wells may have bee shut down from time to time in all of North Dakota, but I stand by the estimate of 2 to 3 wells per month on average being shut in in the Bakken/Three Forks play from Jan 2005 to Jan 2012. On this point we will have to agree to disagree, I am not convinced that a single data point is indicitive of the average over 8 years. Do you think the 5200+ wells drilled in the Bakken since Jan 2005 are being shut in after only a couple of years?

To get a better handle on this you should subtract the Bakken wells fron the total ND wells, you will see that it is quite plausible that most of those shut in wells are indeed from areas other than the Bakken. Hint look at the proportion of producing wells between Bakken and the rest of ND in 1991 (bakken 219, all ND 3423, not Bakken 3204) in 2011 (Bakken 2462, all ND 5322, not Bakken 2860). The 77 wells shut in during June 2011 were probably 15 to 20 years old, I do agree that there are likely more than 2 wells shut down per month in all of ND, but I think that most are non-Bakken wells.

Over the 20 year span from 1991 to 2011 there was an average of 28 wells per year decrease in producing wells in the non-Bakken, again between 2 and 3 wells per month. To me the month to month swings are less important than the long term trend, YMMV.


Do you think the 5200+ wells drilled in the Bakken since Jan 2005 are being shut in after only a couple of years?

No I do not think that and have never even hinted at such a thing. Of course some wells are shut down because their production has dwindled off to almost nothing. This is likely true of most of the conventional wells that have been shut down. But the vast majority of the wells in the Bakken, that have been shut down, have likely been shut down for the same reason Chesapeake shut down those eight wells in the Southern Bakken. That is they either produced no oil or so little oil it was uneconomic to keep them open.

Dry holes are still being drilled you know, even in the Bakken. So if they drill 170 wells per month, what percentage do you think might produce little or no oil? I have no idea but I would just love to know that number.

Ron P.


I have no idea how many of the wells drilled are dry or low producers, Rune Likvern may know from his research. I am using the same data from the NDIC as you are, you are correct that some wells will be duds and will be shut down after just a few years. I don't think it is 25 to 50 per month on average, but I would agree that my estimate may be low because I am not accounting for those "low producers". We can only guess at this number, and my guess (zero essentially) is too low, yours might be on the high side. If it were 1 % of wells brought online and 150 wells/month were added, we would have and extra 1.5 wells per month shut in added to the 2/month I estimated (or 3 to 4 wells per month in the Bakken). Note that this is just another guess, but Rune's input would be of interest.



I studied in detail around 20% of the Bakken (ND) wells that had a reported flow of at least 12 months and that was started as of January 2010 or later. From the population of producing wells I studied 1-2% was found to be dry and/or having small and erratic flows and these wells were not included for the development of the composite "2011 average" well.

Some of the wells drilled are for disposal of produced water and some are observation and/or exploratory wells.


DC, nice work and thanks for sharing!

If I understand it right you assume oil prices grows towards $140/bbl? by 2018 to allow adding wells.
What if oil prices remain at $100/bbl for the next few years? or not grows beyond $120/bbl by 2018?


Hi Rune,

Thank you for sharing the method for calculating break even oil prices.

I will try to answer your questions in greater detail later, but for now figure 12 assumes real oil prices reach $148/barrel by Jan 2018 with a peak of about 870 kb/d (I just realized the chart is mislabelled) in 2015 and total output from 1953 to 2073 of 4.7 BBO, 17,000 total wells producing.

Figure 15 assumes real oil prices reach $112/barrel by July 2016, the scenario where prices rise to $120 by Jan 2018 would look somewhat like that scenario, with a peak of 765/kb/d in 2015 and output of 3.6 BBO from 1953 to 2073, and 11,000 total producing wells.

As you often point out prices and economics are a key component of these scenarios.

From EIA data, US refinery crude input prices averaged $102.5/barrel in 2012, so I use this number in (Jan 2013 $) as my baseline for real oil prices. I will try two scenarios using Model 3 as my well profile with prices rising to $120/barrel (Jan 2013$) by Jan 2018 and with prices remaining at $102.5/b until Jan 2015 then rising by the same rate as the first scenario.

Check my blog (web address is in my profile http://www.theoildrum.com/user/dcoyne78 ),
it should be up by the end of the week.

Edit: The post is up now if anyone is interested.


Rune said:

"DC, nice work and thanks for sharing!"

Indeed, you guys have this thing covered. People don't realize how important it is to have parallel research on a topic, as it provides substantiation for the independent claims.


The Eagle Ford play started ramping up in 2010. C+C output went from 86 kb/d in Dec 2010 to 636 kb/d by Dec 2012. Based on the RRC of TX Data and adjusted using EIA estimates, RRC data tends to be low until all data comes in usually only data from 18 months ago is accurate.

I found Eagle ford numbers using RRC of TX, then if total TX C+C was 80 % of the EIA number I increased Eagle ford data to match the EIA data (I assumed the proportion of output from the Eagle Ford in thed RRC data was correct).

There is a chart is called "eaglefordcc.png", posted May 21, 2013 at dc78image (a google should find it). Click on images and look for the file name eaglefordcc.png (list is alphabetical).


Of course, as of 2012, the US was still a net natural gas importer:


Based on EIA data, US dry natural monthly gas production has been flat year over year since October, 2011. We have seen a sharp decline in dry gas drilling, but liquids rich gas drilling has kept the total supply flat. However, the underlying decline rates from existing wellbores is very high--and increasing--as a higher percentage of gas production comes from rapidly declining tight/shale play wells.

Once we see a measurable decline in gas production, there is a serious question (as Art Berman has predicted for some time) as to whether we will be able to bring production back to the 24 TCF (trillion cubic feet) per year rate that we saw in 2012, since the decline rate from existing wellbores is so high (and much higher than at the start of the shale gas boom).

Analysis: At margins of shale oil boom, a tempered euphoria

News from two of the country's less developed shale plays in Colorado and Ohio last week offer a reality check for the wave of euphoria that has washed across the industry. The stumbles mark a break from the past few years, when nearly every new project was an overnight success and output grew and grew.

Bottom line, the shale boom is a bust in every location except North Dakota and Texas. The US is not about to become the next Saudi Arabia because of tight oil. When the Bakken and Eagle Ford peaks, that's about it.

Ron P.

For now, few are questioning the notion that the booming Bakken and Eagle Ford and Permian Basin in Texas will keep growing, driving domestic oil production beyond its highest in two decades and shrinking America's reliance on imports.

...and few also have read the past few months of actual drilling and production data from North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources...that would take real fact-checking journalism...

I'm still shocked at how many people keep buying into these cornucopian fantasies that keep coming out in the press when the numbers we use to keep track of things say otherwise. WTI is at $97.25 right now. Back when these 'energy independence' articles started the price of oil was in the 80s. Clearly, the people who bet real money don't agree. But why let reality get in the way of a desirable narrative?

They are not buying as much as selling, meaning the people who write such drivel are hoping to get paid, in some form, by the powers that be.

When the Bakken and Eagle Ford peaks, that's about it.

...and the Eagleford graph above from dcoyne78 is perhaps looking a bit "peaky" now.


Don't think this story was posted. It covers the same subject as the cnn article

Paul Farrell on MarketWatch has a good list of humanity's future ills in his commentary today:

12 reasons X-Prize billionaires are cheapskates

Here's his list of "Goals" which he thinks the super rich should be spending their money to achieve:

1: 10X-Prize for Abundant Global Water Systems
2: 10X-Prize for Abundant World Food Production
3: 10X-Prize for Abundant Farm Land-Grab Partnerships
4: 10X-Prize for Abundant World Rain Forests Strategies
5: 10X-Prize for Sustainable Fossil Fuels Strategies Worldwide
6: 10X-Prize for Abundant Solar Power Strategies
7: 10X-Prize for Abundant Alternative Energy Strategies
8: 10X-Prize for Global Minerals Mining sustainability
9: 10X-Prize for Abundance in Climate Control Technologies
10: 10X-Prize for Abundant Species Diversity on Planet Earth
11: 10X-Prize for Sustainable Population Control Policies
12: 10X-Prize for Controlling Out-of-Control Consumer Demand

Reading the commentary for his list, it would appear unlikely that any of these Goals will be achieved, no matter the incentive...

E. Swanson

BD the link goes to TOD.

Thanks, I wondered why it posted so fast. Try this link.

One wonders why reCAPTCHA isn't being used on TOD, as used on other blogs to filter out spam...

E. Swanson

I hate reCAPTCHA. I hate to post on realclimate, because more often than not, I fail reCAPTCHA, and it deletes your comments.

Perhaps why Dave has not implemented it.

Leanan and I try to unhide captured comments as quickly as possible and appreciate it greatly when y'all are patient and only comment once.

Thanks for your patience and endurance.


And a great big thanks for yours and Leanan's. It is surely appreciated!



Yes I agree. Thank you Kate and Leanan.


Thanks BD & Ron for better link. Guess I don't get it - are they prizes offered to anyone to come up with solutions or are they trying to fund work on those problems?

The number 1 item on any such list should be finding a way to humanely reduce human population!

Without that none of the others matter. Especially #2: 10X-Prize for Abundant World Food Production...

It seems every time we find a way to increase food supply the population also increases, so that obviously doesn't help!

Yeast definitely still ahead by a wide margin.

Any "method" to reduce human population requires some other human in the decision making process, which will be by definition inhumane.

Free contraceptives (all kinds of them... condoms, pills) available to everyone in the world would not be inhumane and would make a big impact. Makes me wonder what the costs would be, I guess a few percent of the US military budget :-/

There are humane ways to reduce population such as education, better access to birth control, health care access to reduce the infant mortality rate. It takes time, but all of these things reduce the birth rate.

In Japan and Europe the population is going down and would be also in the US except for immigration.

I think there's been a very minor resurgence in birth rate since the deepest of this last recession. Because of the heavy skew towards the lower ends in incomes I'd bet that more and more people are going to find themselves priced out of reproduction in the coming years - and there are probably more that would realize that they are priced out now if they had the capability of running the numbers and understanding the situation they're in. I'm sure there will be plenty who decide to have a child despite being in a heap of debt and it will break them. Those that aren't completely broken by it, when their child grows up, will find the education system broken and unaffordable. Thus setting up the failure of the next generation. These are the trends that we're currently on and I don't see them reversing anytime soon.

There are more methods.

  1. contraceptives
  2. education
  3. legalize abortion
  4. legalize doctor assisted suicide
  5. eliminate tax incentives for children, such as the U.S. deductions for dependents, and Ukraine giving credits for kids.
  6. do not base welfare payments on the number of children
  7. death penalty for some crimes
  8. stop immigration
  9. population control laws, like China's 1 child per couple rule or Logan's Run (1976)
  10. outlaw the advocacy of large families as by religions
  11. sterilization
  12. outlaw in vitro fertilization
  13. outlaw adoption
  14. war

There are probably more ideas.

Any "method" to reduce human population requires some other human in the decision making process, which will be by definition inhumane.

Yes that is true but would it be more humane than the alternatives, war, pestilence, disease and famine? That was the method used prior to the industrial revolution to control population growth, and it done a very good job, holding population growth at a tiny fraction of one percent for thousands of years.

So let's be honest, we are already into deep, deep overshoot. Our current 7 billion people is way beyond what the earth can support for even a couple of decades more. The damage we are currently doing to the ecosystem is repairable only in geological time. We are crowding out every other species of megafauna like there is no tomorrow. And there is no tomorrow for most other species.

Some folks are looking for an easy way out of this mess. There is none.
Others are just looking for a humane way out of this mess. There is none.
While some just want a way out of this mess without suffering the terrible consequences of die-off. There is none.

The consequences of this dramatic overshoot of human beings will eventually be suffered by humans just as almost all other species are already suffering the consequences of our overshoot right now.

Have a nice day.

Ron P.

Well, aren't you a ray of sunshine today.

I more or less agree that there is no way out of the mess. I think the only thing one can do is to make the choice to keep population down easier (contraceptives, etc.), and let those alive get along as best they can. I cannot accept giving someone else the right to decide. Naturally there will be many who wish to decide for others.

One sees the comment often that we need to humanely reduce population and the number one solution offered is always improved access to contraception. But it is not that easy.

A while back I ran some numbers using the global birth/death rates from Wiki. Imagine that we managed to get a global 100% agreement among all humans (stop laughing!)that no woman anywhere on Earth would get pregnant and have a child for the next 25 years. Yes, 25 years. So, 0.0 birth rate instead of 19.15/1000/yr and a death rate of 8.37/1000/yr (2009 number). 7.1 billion year zero. 25 years later 1.5 billion people have died. That only reduces world population to about 5.6 billion.

I have no expertise at demographic calculations and the proper way to perform them may be much more complex. But even if the number turned out to be closer to 5 billion we would not have come close to solving the problem of over population. And that is the MOST humane approach I have been able to think of.

Overshoot, by definition, has no easy way out I think.


Oversimplified I think. Death rate will increase non-trivially as average population ages (with no one being born in your example). That would be offset somewhat by the shrinking cohort, so your basic point might be intact.

In principle, I think a system of tradeable permits for live births of, say 1.7 children per woman (reset periodically by a population Fed), would be the most humane solution. It would be inhumane in the sense that permits for live births would become an economic commodity, but the humane aspect of it is that, assuming we agreed that some kind of strict limit is needed, it would provide scope for diverse individual valuations of live births.

In principle, I think a system of tradeable permits for live births of, say 1.7 children per woman (reset periodically by a population Fed), would be the most humane solution.

Yes that would be the humane thing to do and would be really great if we had launched such a program about 100 years ago. But now it is way too late and that is no solution at all. That method, after about 30 years, would level the population off. Then after another 50 years or so the population would start to decline... very slowly. In the meantime every other wild species on earth larger than a rat would be driven into extinction. The ocean would be almost fish free. The... well you get the idea.

The point almost no one gets is that we are already in deep overshoot. We have already passed the point of no return. It is way too late for any so called solution to work.

Ron P.

...we are already in deep overshoot.

Agreed. Seems obvious if you actually follow the data.

And above:

Yes that is true but would it be more humane than the alternatives, war, pestilence, disease and famine?

Taken together, we might be advised to work on a response that would make things better than they would otherwise be.

A notion that Richard Heinberg keeps repeating in his work.

Don't give up. Just don't expect things to work out well; just a wee bit better than if you gave up.

I must ask, just a wee bet better than what? I think upi, along with Heinberg and a lot of others, are asking that we don't give up trying to save the world. And you are saying that we may not save the world but we might just make what part of the world that does survive, just a wee bet better. And if that is not what you are saying then I have no idea.

I would suggest something entirely different. I would suggest that you spend all your time, money and efforts on trying to save yourself and just forget about the rest of the world. You are one of seven billion and that is the magnitude of the effect your efforts will have on the earth, one part in seven billion.

But you can enhance your chances of being among the survivors. That is what you should put all your efforts into instead of trying to make the world a better place after the collapse.

Ron P.

Since I agree with the assessment of a huge overshoot, then I think it's clear that I'm not talking about anywhere near seven billion surviving the coming energy descent. That seems obvious.

And I think that you and I agree that folks could try to guess the number of possible survivors of a rapid descent, but to what aim? There's more important work to be done.

But I think we jump over more than just a few steps by imagining that the choice is between making things a bit better for either all seven billion or for just me.

I'm not sure what a useful scale for our efforts might be (and I value your thoughts on that). But my own notion is that my time, money, skills and effort are better spent on helping a small community of like-minded people to thrive better than they would other wise (i.e., better than if we gave up and instead spent all our time and effort chronicling our demise as we hit one limit after another).

Ron, you are asked many things on this board by many people. But no one asked for your suggestions on the best way to spend our time, money, and effort before the collapse-- at least not today.

There's no faster route to existential misery than the "me first" mentality that got us here in the first place. Enhancing ones personal chances of survival at the expense of all other pursuits reduces human experience to utter meaningless and nihilism. I think our species already tried that for a few thousand years.

I hate to sound discouraging, but I hope you're not planning on going into the life coaching business anytime soon.

I think doomsday preppers have a very interesting hobby, something a lot more meaningful then model trains or stamp collecting for example.

The interesting thing about the Preppers that are typically featured is that they tend to fall into a spectrum between two camps, usually leaning heavily to one side or the other...on the one side are the community-oriented preppers who build repositories of food and shelter as well as social networking with community goals in mind - bringing people with various backgrounds/skills together with long-term survival in mind...then you have the other camp Me&Mine + Our Guns who focus on their nuclear family and usually lean heavily toward armed defense with Fortress Mindset and short-term survival. They give lip-service towards longer-term survival, but never really seem to get past a short-term assault mentality and "rugged individualism."

I often wonder if thriving under conditions of environmental stress and uncertainty is what the mind evolved to do. And that it's affluence that it is clearly not adapted to and that affluence over-sanctions individualism.

In a review of one of Kunstler's book, Thomas (2008) had an insight about the types of coping skills that may soon prove useful:

If Kunstler is right, most of the “survivalists” today with their “stocking up” are locked into 2008 thinking in a thing-centric way when more complex, subtle, and long-term preparation is required: real physical health, having the qualities that make one welcome as a community member, the ability to take and hold a leadership role, genuine kindness under stress, craft and music-making skills, stoicism, and practical knowledge of the natural world are what will serve people and communities far better in 2025 than guns and ammo.

I think this is suggesting the primacy of emotional stability, clear-headedness, the ability to maintain a prosocial inclinations, the capacity to restrain our behavior when we're stressed, and the willingness to continue building and using our competencies. Very different from the alternative of guns, guts and mine.

That's a really interesting take on it.

One thing that strikes me about the whole "survivalist" thing is it's a very American idea. Sure, it's spread to other countries, particularly Canada, Australia, and the UK, but much of the rest of the world finds it quite bizarre. Even those in countries that seem to be far closer to collapse than the U.S. appears to be.

Never thought about the possibility that's affluence that creates this mindset, but it kind of makes sense.

It might also be worth remembering that none of us actually "survive". However, Todd's word of self-reliance is a worthy goal - learning to depend less on complex systems that aren't likely to continue, and to not be a burden on others that may not be able to support you.

Make lots of money, live in a gated community, educate your kids and have some of them work overseas, and kowtow to those in power. That's the most common survival strategy.

The interesting thing about the Preppers that are typically featured...

I assume you mean preppers who are featured on TV. We stopped getting TV 10-15 years ago so I can't address that other than to say that no serious prepper would advertise what they are doing because of OPSEC (operational security). What I can address is that there is a continual refrain on prep forums, "How can I meet like-minded people?"

I agree that there is a continuum of views as to how the future might play out but, in reality, there are many other issues that come into the fore before How, What and When is really important.

The first, of course, is having compatible personalities. It doesn't matter that you agree on other issues if people are going to clash from the get go. This not only gets into the fearless leader syndrome but also your or their willingness to learn, work, etc.

The second is how much of a contribution to the operation people make. Few people would accept an offer from a member who says, "Well, I'll pay you to do all the hard physical work so I can come up when it HTF and you'll have everything ready for me."

The third revolves around sticking to the "rules" such as only you but not your extended family and friends can come. What happens when Joe and Beth show up with Mom, Dad and their other siblings because "they didn't have any other place to go"?

Fourth, people who haven't "done it" have no idea of what is really involved with being able to survive. For example, without going into any detail, I have 57 acres that we've lived on for over 30 years. It sounds like a lot of land but it would only support 6-8 people and that's if they busted their ass putting in more growing area.

Fifth, and the bottom line, can you trust these people.

As far as an extended community goes, good luck. In my experience not even communes with shared values survived; even organized groups/fraternal organizations have a hard time keeping everyone happy. Yes, it's important to have a network of friends but that doesn't mean that you are a "community".


Some of the sixties communes still survive today.

Of course, they did not face real scarcity.

OTOH...extended communities work very well in other areas of the world, even in situations of high stress and privation. Maybe Americans just aren't very good at this stuff, as humans go.

It will be interesting to read Karen Liftin's new book, Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community (Polity Press, forthcoming 2013). I've seen a version of one chapter in another book.

These might be the earliest versions of transition towns, or a later version of those 60s communes. All expanding in plain sight.

They seem to accept the premises of peak oil, declining net energy, loss of soil fertility, overshoot, etc.

She did a short video on ecovillages.

extended communities work very well in other areas of the world, even in situations of high stress and privation

Yea they do, order slowly arises out of chaos. It doesn't gel well with the current fashionable social mores though. we go back to a more tribal like culture.

Some of the sixties communes still survive today.

In location and perhaps name. But as envisioned by their founders?

Not so much.

Go listen to this:
It should have a part where they discuss the history of such places going back to the 1800's and how the ones that survive are deeply religious or deeply authoritarian.

(and while looking for the above podcast - http://c-realm.com/podcasts/crealm/352-drive-flow-purpose/ Robots Will Steal Your Job But That’s OK – How to Survive the Economic Collapse and Be Happy. )

I think I'm experiencing a working example of an enduring community, though it's not nearly as packaged and discrete, either in geography or even stated membership as these sorts of discussions usually demand. I'm living for 'free' in various apartments around NYC as I try to wedge into the production scene for the summer. These apartments are all friends and acquaintances from my old UU church in Manhattan.. the place I met my wife, and all have opened their doors to me, with some reasonable trades in favors of feeding cats and plants, generally sharing company, house projects and meals, and finding it to be quite pleasurable to reinforce old, but hardly faded connections, as we do what any community does.. combine our various assets to help each other keep on keepin' on.

As far as what the founders envisioned, what does that serve? We have those Originalists on the Supreme Court insisting on much the same for the USA, and it seems their insistence on locking their definitions into what the original 'Patriots' had in mind is not to find a current and workable truth, but in fact, it is to avoid any change in definitions that would let this dream evolve into a form that CAN persist, as conditions on the ground and our understanding grows and changes with the world.

How far their precautions went can be seen from the fact that many of the dug-outs had been skilfully equipped with furnishings sufficient for entire families, washing and bathing facilities, toilets, arms and munition supplies, and food supplies sufficient for several months. There were differently equipped dug-outs for rich and for poor

Prepping didn't help the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto.

(Extract from the Stroop Report, a 75-page official report prepared in May 1943 by Jürgen Stroop, commander of the forces that liquidated the Warsaw Ghetto.)

Don't give up. Just don't expect things to work out well; just a wee bit better than if you gave up.


"I just want you to feel you’re doing well. I hate for people to die embarrassed." -- Fezzik, The Princess Bride

The point almost no one gets is that we are already in deep overshoot. We have already passed the point of no return. It is way too late for any so called solution to work.

"There’s no point in acting surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now. … What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven’s sake, mankind, it’s only four light years away, you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that’s your own lookout. Energize the demolition beams." -- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

How exactly would you enforce it? Forced abortion? Financial penalties?

Forced abortion would be an enormous ethical problem. The pressure for voluntary abortions for genetic or sex selection reasons would also be problematic, although you could argue those problems would exist with a straight population mandate.

Financial penalties seem to be a better way to go. Not so much 'pay $x whenever you go over the limit' but guarantee state benefits to those births you can cover with a permit, and withhold for those you can't. Sounds harsh, and it is harsh, but keep in mind my criteria was 'most humane' under a scenario where we force population reductions.

China's one-child-per-family policy has been reasonably successful, though it is starting to fall apart as exceptions get made for the newly wealthy. But yes, it was (and is) harsh, and requires a coercive state to pull it off. The Chinese public doesn't particularly like it.

I see little chance that many more countries will adopt China's birth policy, especially the countries that need it most. So by 2050, we can probably expect a world population of 10 billion. By 2150, maybe 10,000.

Just stop treating kids as a generous tax shelter. If you really feel a need to take it further than that attach wages to pay for public schooling, rather than tax every property owner who has chosen not to have children to pay for the school system. As local schools are 20-30% of the budget, directly charging parents, around here, would result in approx. doubling property taxes for their entire life.
If parents had to pay the full social cost of having children in a developed economy, I think the birth rate would plummet.

In my town in New Hampshire, the school budget and the town's budget are separate. The school system is in the 21 million range and the town's expenses are about 7 million. So in my town it's reversed. The schools are 75% of our property taxes.

Educated kids benefit the whole community. Kids need to belong. The alternative is gangs. Venezuela uses youth orchestras to soak up unaffilated kids and give them a sense of accomplishment.

Of course, present-day schools generally aren't run to socialize young people. They support buildings full of high-paid supervisors and executives (teachers are treated as low-paid clerks, reading obligatory lesson plans), and are increasingly falling to charter schools run for profit by investors.

Ditto privatized prisons, which are fed by substandard schools.

Darwinian is an optimist.

The previous poster did not advocate that society fail to educate children; only that parents who bring these kids into the world bear a bigger portion of the actual cost of providing for their needs. It always irks me to hear politicians here in the US (from both political parties) constantly harping on about new “tax breaks and tax credits for families,” new federally-funded programs specifically targeted at “promoting the interests of families,” the importance of “protecting families,” etc. As if having kids automatically makes ones interests more important to society than childless citizens, and also entitles one to wealth transfers from others. If we want to reduce fertility rates, reversing this mentality among the political class seems like a reasonable place to start.

I think you are being too harsh on parents with children. Somebody earlier had postulated what would happen if nobody had any more children? Numerically the population of the planet would be lower but (a) who would enlist in the military or police or fire department (b) who would provide the youthful labor that we all need. (c) who would pay the taxes that all of 80 year olds will be living off?

The major European countries already have fertility rates below replacement. They can either increase the fertility of their native populations or import labor and profoundly alter their cultures. Even in the US but for immigration we would be below replacement.

Fertility rates may be below replacement level for parts of the OECD, but not for the world as a whole. I see no danger of running out of people to serve as fireman, laborers, or any other role. Youth unemployment is a much bigger problem at the moment than not enough young workers to fill needed positions in industry.

It’s true that a sudden, worldwide collapse in fertility would result in demographic problems at some point down the road, but in a world of 7 billion people headed toward 9 billion or more, I see no danger of that happening any time soon. A thoroughly polluted planet is a much more real danger and likely outcome. And while I don’t advocate legal prohibitions against having multiple kids, I do consider it unreasonable for parents making that decision to expect others to bear the cost without limitation.

Design a super Viagra; makes men really horny but cuts their viable sperm count to zero. Maybe throw in a little buzz for good measure.

It only takes one "typhoid joe sixpack" to father hundreds of children.

I think you have hold of the wrong end of the stick, so to speak.

The sci-fi author Larry Niven wrote about a system, I think it was in the sequel to Ringworld. It was called the Birthright Lottery. Worldwide deaths were tallied each year, and that was the number for the next year's lottery. Every woman over age 25 could enter and allowed to win once. There were also a few spares held back- you could get one of these Birthrights by winning in the gladiator ring, by buying one for a million dollars, and there was a way to get one by having outstanding smarts that I can't remember the details. The idea being to encourage genes for physical prowess, business acumen, and intelligence with a certain proportion of the Birthrights while the rest were assigned by luck. In the story this eventually resulted in the birth of a human with perfect luck.

Luck gene in Larry Niven's Known Space universe:


A Population Fed??? Somewhere Glenn Beck's head just exploded. ;-)

Thanks! hehe

Best analogy I could think of. But yeah, if found out I'm bound to be struck from libertarian X-mas card lists.....

I think this is a really intriguing thread.

Let's assume that tradeable permits are too slow, or simply won't reduce population enough. Let's assume that we could suspend live births completely for 25 years.

Don't imagine this is a purely academic proposition-- our clinic serves a population of about 150,000 that has a very, very low per capita live birth rate, probably the lowest of any minority population, or majority, for that matter.

If we factored in the shrinking cohort, how would you figure a back-of-the-envelope number for world population in 2038? Who runs those kind of numbers? I have no idea who I'd even ask or how to do the math.

Would that get us to four billion? At four billion, it seems like a lot less war and pestilence would be required. You'd have a smaller dieback, less chaos, maybe preserve more of the biosphere.

Might seem like small gains, but it's kind of like wondering whether it makes sense to quite smoking when you've got emphysema and it seems very likely you'll be diagnosed with lung cancer.

Of course it does. Worst case scenario, you'll feel a little less stupid when the lights go out. What's not to like?

A media blitz about how good your life can be when you aren't mired in debt from having children. If you're going to have a manipulative media, you might as well use it, rather than trying some one child policy. Let's do it "the american way"!!

It's still considered good to have kids and the media and governments in most countries are all for it. There is also still massive social pressure to have children.

If people knew the true cost of children and what they lose in time and money, they would think twice. Probably why female education reduces the birthrate.

Capitalist governments have a reason to support higher birth rates. Our economic system is effectively a Ponzi scheme that relies on more and more new workers coming into the system to support the elderly. In Japan, where the birth rate has dropped precipitously, they are approaching the point where there aren't enough productive young workers to support the aging bulge in the population. Europe and the US are a few years behind Japan, but they will get there too.

There are hidden economic consequences to a low birth rate, but they tend to resolve themselves over time. Its just that it's painful to be in a society during that transition because standards of living fall until the older part of the population dies off freeing up resources.

Something very much like that, yes.

We have to make being childless cool, among other things. It already sort of is.

And heroic. "We take care of the elders, the orphans, the ones who were forgotten," and so on. We don't fear the loss our gene line, that kind of thing.

We need a religious variants as well for all major religions. The theme needs to be spread in video games, underground music and art, radical professors in the humanities. Codes, hand signals, graffiti.

Rejection of the afterlife is a major theme in a lot or hard core and new metal lyrics. It's short step to rejecting reproduction.

A declining population is incompatible with our debt-based and entitlement-driven societies, and is bad for business to boot. No one in power in the first world will advocate a declining population.

People "in power" generally do what they can to remain in power first. If that involves going with a growing trend of "childless is cool" then that is what they will do.

Also don't forget that in the short term a childless couple won't be buying cheap toys from wallmart that were made in china with their money, but they will be buying expensive items for themselves and go on holidays. Items that probably get taxed more. They won't take as much back in benefits either and will be able to work more hours.

Your boss doesn't want you to have kids.

I think the only thing one can do is to make the choice to keep population down easier (contraceptives, etc.), and let those alive get along as best they can. I cannot accept giving someone else the right to decide.

I don't think we need to give someone else the right to decide. I think that if we were able to provide education, easy access to birth control, and access to abortion to the entire planet then we really would not have much if any population problem. I think OECD has shown that if you have those things, the fertility rate drops down to replacement rate. The population issue is mostly a problem with ancient customs & superstitions.

Easy access to birth control, abortion, and a sex doll finely tuned to your every whim of the moment, so if you are assailed by an attack of desire, you go for the doll instead of anything with DNA that might happen to be lying around.

This seems to be a good place to tout vasectomy and the more difficult female tubal ligation. Post-partum tubal ligation was popular during the 50's at Houston's Jefferson Davis hospital for women that had a large number of living children. There is an interesting Wiki entry which mentions tube tying medical tourism. My vasectomy was more than 40 years ago and ranks with the best decisions of my life

I don't think it is ancient customs and superstitions - it is the lack of a social safety net for the aged - and a lack of help on the farm in some cases.
If infant mortality is high and there is no social security but that provided by family members, it makes perfect sense to go for broke re children. My grandmother carried 12 to term - my aunt, in her 80's now, had 13. In both cases, several died - one lost 5. I think the losses in part resulted in the choice to have more children.

America is an unusual case. Prior to the 20th century it was genuinely underpopulated with all the opportunities that implies. People hsd much larger families than Europe on average. But in Europe and other long settled regions people had long restricted their fertility by a variety of methods to ensure more or less stability. Its easier to ensure stability though when the death rate was as high as it was pre-modern medicine.

Ron I assume in every developed country there is a large tax allowance for each child. Ending this tax shelter would have a large effect in developed economies, it would still allow individual choice, must be considered humane, and I have never ever heard it mentioned. I think it is good evidence that the government is not serious about population control, wishes to subsidize population growth, and looks forward to a new generation of taxpayers and consumers.

"..and looks forward to a new generation of taxpayers and consumers."

I think every article that I've read about population, at least which references the United States, brings up the tax payments into Social Security vs those on Social Security and basically promotes a rapidly increasing population based on that alone.

There was one article I ran across recently that had this whopper:

For those who worry that more people will hurt the environment, Last says: "Population growth leads to human innovation, and innovation leads to conservation ... There are no cases of peace and prosperity in the face of declining populations."

What a f****** joke. [edit]

While I'm generally in agreement with you, and while I generally shut down my consciousness so far as the future you're predicting goes, do you have any idea when this will occur?

I figure I have about 30 - 35 years left alive. I figure my children will be about 20 - 25 when I die. I expect no grandchildren before my death.

Can you fill me in on when TSHTF hard in Canada, or will modern life as I knew it muddle along for centuries before the great culling comes?

I believe, but the lack of accuracy on timing has some significant effect on the choices I make. Of course, my expressly chosen unconsciousness on such matters doesn't help, but I figure no point in panicking now, when I can panic later, or simply die in the great stampede into the afterlife that will supposedly come at some future point. In the meantime, I'll enjoy life such as it is and keep watching the signs of the coming doom so I'm not too surprised when it gets here.


Having been involved in many discussions on this very topic over the years I can say for certain that by spending some time searching various blogs you will be able to find positions that cover a very wide range of dates.

Logic can point to a number of factors which, all by themselves, can precipitate collapse (climate change, peak oil, etc). But there are literally hundreds of significant factors and they all interact with each other. Different people see different factors as critical and they often disagree on how they interact. Many people choose to ignore what data there is to base a decision upon as it does not support the conclusion they already favor (no surprise there). There is not much true research out there that tries to answer your question. The Limits To Growth publications are one of the exceptions and I recommend reading them. You can even get the software they use and run your own numbers (pretty nerdy but fun).

My humble opinion on this question is that collapse is no longer preventable when we lose our ability to produce food sufficient to adequately feed the citizens of the rich and powerful countries. Industrial agriculture is a robust and capable system (in a short-term sense) and currently the world produces total food product sufficient to feed about 10.5 billion people. Global yields have risen over the last 10 years even in the face of the climate problems and energy issues we are already having. There is still a fair amount of arable land at good latitudes that is not in production. So there is a lot of slack still in the system. We allocate this 'slack' production mostly to two areas; one is meat production for the more affluent consumers and the second is towards converting it into ethanol fuel. There is also a big loss component due to spoilage and other forms of waste.

Eventually a combination of degrading factors, led by climate change and peak oil, are going to eat up the slack in the agricultural system. In between now and the point where the 'slack' has disappeared for the rich and powerful one would expect increasing levels of famine and malnutrition in the less affluent and powerless countries. How fast this occurs will be based upon the willingness of producers with excess capacity to see to the needs of the weak. I am a pretty cynical guy and do not believe that our basic human nature will lead us to a decision to be particularly humane. In the end result, it will not matter whether we are or are not as we are so far above the earth's carrying capacity that the collapse will come whether we use up the 'slack' equitably or not. But the key point is that it will not come to everyone the same way or at the same time. If you live in West Africa it is almost here now and if you live in North America it will probably be quite some time yet.

My thoughts on this question have led me to the conclusion of approximately 2050 to put a date on collapse for the rich and powerful. In the last couple of weeks I have seen numbers from 2023 to 2100. YMMV


Any "method" to reduce human population requires some other human in the decision making process, which will be by definition inhumane.

Yes and no. There aren't any solutions that we presently view as humane. But 'the problem' will be 'solved' and what comes out the other side will have a different view of what 'humane' means. Previous societies from hunter-gathers to ancient greeks have had effective population controls that the society accepted.

One way or another population will be controlled. After several generations those methods will be what defines humane.


I agree with that. But after several generation's time the population will already be much reduced.

For any that have not seen this :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z760XNy4VM Mouse Utopia Experiment

now seems like an opportune moment to post it.

Read the comments on this mouse experiment. My god - its enough to make you lose all hope for reasoned pop control.

The part of the mouse experiment I found most interesting was the generation of 'beautiful one's', in which they are not very smart, continually groom themselves, eat and sleep a lot, avoid sex or any other form of contact with other mice. At least these mice were in some weird way attempting birth control.

The strange part was even though they were still getting food and water, none survived the final die off stage. You'd think some would make it through the bottle-neck. In this way maybe people are different, as those with the dough will plan ahead living in underground dwellings until the coast is clear.

I saw on TV a rich survivalist guy transforming a missal silo into underground luxury living quarters for his family and other rich families. They had this wall display, like a TV, but it was connected to a camera up top that was aimed at cows in a field. So even though there are no windows, this electronic type viewing acted as a window to the outside to view the wind blowing the tall grass, the Sunlit fields, etc. Wow, humans being reduced to an electronic interpretation of the planet's surface. Nice to know though that some will make it through in high style. Of course all their tech will fall into decrepitude over time, but at least when the collapse comes they will feel special.

The video didn't say why the drop off caused total failure. Did they all become "Beautiful Ones" (A wonderfully creepy phrase) or was there a war?

It was called a behavioural sink. once they reached that point they couldn't go back to normal behaviour: Essentially they forgot how to be mice and then died out. Sometimes I wonder if human behaviours in the city also follow this kind of pattern. When for instance I see a cafe which is full next to a cafe which is nearly or completely empty I think about how the mice did the same things with the food/water dispensers.

"It was called a behavioural sink. once they reached that point they couldn't go back to normal behaviour"

Critical mass. This happens a LOT. Think about how many times you've heard the phrase (or derivative of)

"Well...everyone's doing it."

Then the next thing you know - everyone really is doing it and they can't stop because they'll "miss out" or whatever. Then whatever it is gets passed on to the next generation because they've been doing it all of their lives (think about various forms of racism). In the case of the mice, they started an epic battle against each other that they couldn't seem to stop - there was no space to separate and learn how to be peaceful again - stuck in battle mindset.

It makes me wonder about the soldiers that have spent extended "tours" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Having spent so much time there I suspect many will always be "on." I have one friend who spent time in Iraq and whenever I go driving with her she points out "IED...IED...possible ambush zone..." Pointing out various bits of trash and whatnot on the side of the road. Because her life depended on seeing these things on some level she's still looking for them.

And in a human scenario, imagine you hit collapse and the systems of society started really breaking down. What percentage of the population would look to setup self-sustaining communities with food/power production; and what percentage would squabble and fight over access to supermarkets?

The idea of many survivalists is that they would form a hoard to leave the cities and ravage the countryside; the reality is a majority would probably stay exactly where they were, doing exactly what they had always done, even if they realised it wasn't going to last.

How many times in Katrina and Sandy where there the videos of someone saying 'I'm gonna do what I gotta do to survive' - usually tied to looting?

If you want wonderfully creepy how's this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbivore_men

"Herbivore men (草食(系)男子 Sōshoku(-kei) danshi?) is a social phenomenon in Japan of men who shun marriage or gaining a girlfriend.[1] They are characteristically described as frugal, and interested in personal grooming...As of September 2010, 36% of Japanese men between the ages of 16 and 19 perceived themselves in this way.[3] Additionally, two surveys of single men in their 20s and 30s found that 61% and 70%, respectively, considered themselves grass-eating men.[4] This phenomenon is viewed by the Japanese government as a leading cause in the nation's declining birth rate, prompting the government to provide incentives for couples that have children, including payouts and free health care."

There you have it. The country which has been in the rat race the longest is the furthest on the path towards social collapse. Whilst we are rational beings somewhat the average behaviour is driven by impulses which are not much different between mice and men.

Thanks for the link. It sure looks like most people ignore human psychology in the study of most collapse and die off scenarios. Another viewpoint that comes up is that even animals display complex societal behavior, the corollary being that we are just like any other animal group.

I would classify the Internet addicts as "The Beautiful ones".

The number 1 item on any such list should be finding a way to humanely reduce human population!

For one thing we reward families in the US that have children with tax breaks.

482,300: Immigrant visas issued by the U.S. State Department in Fiscal Year 2012.

40% of undocumented illeagals overstay their visa.

most states don't require e-verify

The border and deporting illegals is an 18 billion a year fiasco. Jail a few thousand of those that hire the illegals and the jobs would dry up.

The list of reasons for over population goes on and on.

Re the immigration you bring up -IMHO The illegals are here because the gov and corps want them here. The border cities want them. The gov merely claims it doesn't want them - they are not being fully truthful.
Check out how it works in S. CA during the vegetable harvest. Check if you can to see if border staffing increases at all during the time illegal imigrants must cross over. I've been told that some years staffing actually goes down due to vacation scheduling during this period - I'm not sure how accurate that is - but there is no question that when the Mexicans cross the border in their thousands, they make it to the fields in sufficient numbers every year - then when the work is done, they can turn themselves in for the bus ride back
Sometimes it really isn't that hard to understand a situation - you just need to come to the realization that people in government have a tendency to manipulate the citizenry with their choice of words, and also that a government can work towards two mutually incompatible goals simultaneously if it will keep two different groups of constituents voting as it desires.
I just came back from a trip to S. Texas - near the border a concrete contractor was working - the most of the crew were rounded up off the streets for that job - they were non English speaking, and paid in cash at the end of the day. And we noticed - paid an insanely low amount - just beer and cigarette money - we were assured that that was the entire pay.
While there may be a case against employers every now and then for hiring illegals - a lot of companies continue to profit off hiring them, a lot of others rely on the large pool of laborers and wage depression it causes - and our government quietly condones it by both its actions and lack of action as far as I can see. So many small businesses just don't seem to think they have cause to worry about being prosecuted in practice.
Even a poor country can close a border effectively if it so desires.
So the public thinks the illegal immigrant situation is a problem, the gov could do better - I think the gov is handling immigration exactly as it wants - its goals are at odds with what the working class desires however, so it will not state what its actual policy goals are.

Wasn't modern North America practically speaking started by illegal immigrants / invaders?
What's good for me is not good for you :-)


Certainly - and I am confident that had the native populations of the Americas developed steel and gunpowder well ahead of the Europeans, the pattern of history would in some sense be the reverse.

guns, germs and steel.
I wonder what caused the difference in development (O/T, I know)..

Not at all off-topic, and that is in fact what "Guns, Germs and Steel" is all about. I think "Guns, Germs, and Steel" is very much a companion volume to "Collapse."

And from what we're learning now it looks like germs would have trumped guns and steel fairly handily. Without the germs I'm not sure the guns and steel would have been enough.

While I myself am a USian I wasn't restricting my comment to the US population I was talking about the whole planet.

Rossi's ECAT has now been evaluated by a 3rd party and works!


An experimental investigation of possible anomalous heat production in a special type of reactor tube named E-Cat HT is carried out.
Even by the most conservative assumptions as to the errors in the measurements, the result is still one order of magnitude greater than conventional energy sources.

Hmm ... ECAT refuses to die.

Having run through the paper, I agree that the participation is broad, including a number of reputable research universities. It seems independent to me as well.

Feeling the need to be skeptical, it appears the experimental set-up was designed to protect the ECAT's IP, that is, the use of an infrared camera to take energy measurements. That might be a valid experimental approach, I'm just not sure. Do we have a physicist on board who can weigh in?

From prior discussions, I'm comfortable that what ever this reaction may be, it isn't fusion in any sense that we understand it. But the idea that something unusual is going on (as opposed to a scam, which would be all too usual) can't be discounted.

They did run a "blank" with just a resistor and saw no excess energy when measured the same way. Also, One of the authors, was past chairman of the Sedish Skepics Society, from Wikipedia:

Hanno Essén, born September 27, 1948, is an associate professor of theoretical physics and a lecturer at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology and former chairman of the Swedish Skeptics Society.[1]

Also having run thru the paper's description of the experiment, I remain skeptical. There's much which isn't presented and there may still be the possibility of deception. The use of the infrared camera might be one source of manipulation, as it is pointed up at the ceiling, where some other device might be hidden. The use of three cameras spaced around the device would minimize such interference. There are also other methods to measure thermal energy flow, such as a thermal vacuum chamber of the type used for satellite tests.

Then too, why not run both the dummy reactor and the ECAT reactors at the same time, using a parallel power connection, with dual power measurements taken downstream of the split between the two? Or, design the experimental reactors such that both heating enclosures are identical, test them without the "catalyst", then insert the tube full of "catalyst" in one, run a test, then switch the tube to the other heater and repeat the test? If one tube of "catalyst" can run 96 hours, surely it would also do the same if two 48 hour runs were completed. That way, any extra thermal energy from the ECAT would show up in both heaters and provide proof that the extra thermal energy is indeed from that source...

E. Swanson

Horse**** at its smelliest. Why does a resistive heater need a power factor correction at all? The heater driver uses a proprietary secret, and any particular power meter no matter how good can be spoofed with synchronized phase management.

The thermal imaging is also exploitable, just paint the side facing the camera black and magically double that to approximate the amount radiated from the unseen white side. Or miscalibrate, a fourth power offset leads to considerable error.

OK - To :>> Rossi and the ECAT-gang ... so it still works you say .... ok fine

So what are you waiting for ? Start production of this "box" and sell it in the marketplace- stop boring me with all these tell-tell-signs articles year in and year out - ok agreed? ok fine !

No sh*t, paal. Just sell me one! Ah, but we can't reveal our technology, because we need to protect our IP. Bite me.

It looks like E-Cat Australia will be happy to take a $500,000 deposit on a one MW unit, with delivery "promised" in three to four months. Curiously enough, as best than I can tell there does not yet seem to be a single demonstration one MW unit working (although there seem to be claims that about a super secret US military test).

This is a serious test by an independent group. They are putting their careers on the line - not likely a scam.

It often takes years or decades to move something from a lab setting to commercial production. Yes, they claim to have shipped one of those 1MW units, but only recently. After it's been in service a few months they were going to let people in to see it, and the performance data, but that hasn't happened yet. I'm still skeptical about how fast they can ramp production, I think it's still a couple of years away.

But If I had to bet my energy future say 10 years from now on Texas shale oil or Rossi's ecat I'd bet on the ECAT at this point. Since we have a pretty much unlimited supply of Nickel and Hydrogen needed to produce energy.

In the year 2023 which is more likely?

A. Ron P.'s die-off ramps up, worldwide collapse of social order

B. Shale oil ramps up, BAU

C. LENR comes online strong and prevents the worst from happening.

D. None of the above

Also, I'd expect this will kill any planned solar and wind plants pretty fast since it will be a much cheaper alternative, but existing NG plants might survive a long time.

First of all no one, to my knowledge, has set any date for any ramp-up of worldwide collapse. I haven't even a clue if there will be a ramp-up, or ramp-down would be a better term. I expect it will be a slow digression just like what is going on in Europe right now.

But as far as E-Cat goes, it's a pipe dream. Search: Believing in Cold Fusion and the E-Cat
This is a Forbes article, published a year and one half ago by Mark Gibbs, science and tech writer: (Bold his.)

I want to see the oil economy disrupted and a clean, environmentally sound, endless, and incredibly cheap energy source transform the world in my lifetime. I want to believe that Rossi has the answer. But the longer it takes to see proof, the harder it becomes to believe in the E-Cat or cold fusion.

And it is a year and one half later and we are no closer to seeing proof than we were then.

Oh, one more thing. There is no free hydrogen on earth. Right now we get it from natural gas but eventually, if we use a lot of it, we will be forced to get it from water via electrolysis. That requires a lot of energy. So just to break even the E-Cat would have to generate enough energy to generate hydrogen from water. And only the energy above that point would be used for other uses.

Ron P.

FWIW, Gibbs has inched back to the Ecat bandwagon:


Your point about Hydrogen is interesting and merits further consideration. At the end of the day, this may turn out to be another variant of the fuel cell.

Your point about Hydrogen is interesting and merits further consideration. At the end of the day, this may turn out to be another variant of the fuel cell.

It is already the major variant of the fuel cell. The "hydrogen economy" folks keep talking about getting the cost of the fuel cell itself down but they cannot change the economy of producing and delivering hydrogen to the fuel cell.

Search: Why a hydrogen economy doesn't make sense This article was written in 2006 and the economics has not changed one iota since then. But as the chart below shows, for every 100 kWh of electricity used only 23 kWh is delivered to the drive train if using compressed hydrogen and only 19 kWh is delivered if using liquified, (cryogenic) hydrogen. That compares to 69 kWh with pure electric, battery driven, cars.

Hydrogen Economics photo HydrogenEconomics_zpse21a20c9.jpg

Ron P.

Flash-back to 2006-9 ish and the Hydrogen Highway between Oslo - Stavanger (550 km stretch and 3 filling-stations lol ;.) was inaugurated with pomp by the Royalty - it was all over Norwegian media for years . After inauguration in 09 >> Screaming silence

BTW that Hydrogen chart is a classic. Hard to circumnavigate that one .... even for Rossi.

*** EDIT INFO***
Interesting ... this reply of mine here with Timestamp 5:42pm took more than 4 hours ( maybe 10 hrs for what I know.. nighttime Europe) to appear on my screen ...
Timestamp is in accordance to actual time of posting. Oh yeah that spamfilter need some relief.

Sorry. It's not the spam filter, it's the humans who check the queue.

Mostly, it's just me. Usually I'm around all day and make an effort to check the threads regularly. But once in awhile, I'm busy all day and there's no one to check the queue. Kate helps out, but she's on the west coast and is online later in the day. And sometimes she has other things to do, too. If that happens, it may be several hours before a post is approved.

ok I understand - You folks still do an incredible great job. TOD still rules.
Best of luck to to find a good way around .. or ease .. with the ongoing spasming situation. Old serious posters like Darwinian, WT and more should at least have the ability to post replies with links on the fly- directly. ;-) 5 cents

Fun fact: there is actually more hydrogen in a liter of gasoline (116 grams) than there is in a liter of pure liquid hydrogen (71 grams) -- Wikipedia Hydrogen economy

Another fun fact: Much of the original thinking about hydrogen fuel cells cars was that you would fill them with gasoline and the gasoline would be reformed into hydrogen for the fuel cell stack. The fuel cell stack would power an electric motor to drive the car. But they realized that there was no way to build a system to reform gasoline into hydrogen within car. The sensible people then dropped the fuel cell car idea.

However, the dreamers have persisted trying to build a fuel cell car that runs on pure hydrogen. It's a fools errand. Too many problems. (Hydrogen is not cheap, it is difficult to store, it is difficult to distribute, you need to compress it to get a decent amount, fuel cell stacks are not cheap, they are not reliable & long-lasting, etc.)

http://www.tinaja.com/h2gas01.shtml - Don Lancaster from the 1980's showing why Hydrogen isn't gonna work out as a H2 and O2 reaction system.

Wikipedia entry for Pathological Science:

Pathological science is the process by which "people are tricked into false results ... by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions".[1][2] The term was first used by Irving Langmuir, Nobel Prize-winning chemist, during a 1953 colloquium at the Knolls Research Laboratory. Langmuir said a pathological science is an area of research that simply will not "go away"—long after it was given up on as 'false' by the majority of scientists in the field. He called pathological science "the science of things that aren't so".[3]

The next major LENR demo will be held at NIWeek by Defkalion Green Technologies.

Defkalion has been lying low, preparing for some big splashes this year and next.

Defkalion is tackling around 20 major applications of their LENR reactor through contracts with several licensees, including some major players. These players include Siemens and Fiat. We may be able to order a Defkalion in our new RAM truck before too long. Price point expected to be around 1/10 of what we presently pay for power. First product expected by second quarter 2014.

National Instruments will sanction this first public reactor demo expected for NI Week in August with the full weight of their corporate credibility. Also supporting this test throughout the scientific community is the highly regarded reputation of the founder of NI, Dr. James Truchard.

Defkalion has been doing it right by keeping things low key. But their LENR theory will be released and explained in July and demonstrated in August.

We may be able to order a Defkalion in our new RAM truck before too long. Price point expected to be around 1/10 of what we presently pay for power. First product expected by second quarter 2014.

Go research into stirling powered CHP systems. Back in 2000 there was talk of $2500 CHP systems when the whispergen was $40,000 from a good 1/2 dozen firms.

SES, Solo, and more - where are their products? Stirling CHPs are based on 100+ year old known technology and can't ship a product. What makes you think its going to go better for LENR - something that hasn't even been explained?

But their LENR theory will be released and explained in July and demonstrated in August.

Of 2013?

Edison lit up a street with his bulbs. The wrights flew loops in the sky in France. Why can't Rossi heat up his cold warehouse? I would if I was him - I don't like the cold.
Why did he initially claim neutron emissions, then drop the claim when that aneutronic LENR idea became popular - why is the isotope ratio of the copper residue match that of ahh... hardware store copper? Why did Rossi refuse to allow measurement of current through the earth wire during the test, even though Australian Dick Smith offered him $1,000,000 to do so? I sure could have used the money - couldn't Rossi? The machine can't handle an ammeter on the ground wire???
It is to late to continue - I hope this is some help.

Why can't Rossi heat up his cold warehouse?

Ding! We have a winner.

Back last year Rossi had claimed he'd have something to show in Oct of last year to "prove" that the idea worked.

And you are asking the right questions about the Copper (assuming the "magic" is Nickel to Copper)

At least Russell Means doesn't have to wait for his Indian School to get an e-cat.

(and if one thinks the Patent Office is a good "appeal to authority" argument: http://coldfusionnow.org/patents/ a list of patents)

Ugo Bardi had some comments about this latest E-cat "news." I don't think he wants to do any more posts about it, because at this point he thinks giving any attention to it is a bad thing.

But he noted that this "independent test" was done by the same people who endorsed the e-Cat two years ago, and the test was done on the premises of the Leonardo corporation.

The device tested was nothing like the original version of the e-Cat, which he sees as an admission that the first version was a hoax.

The calorimetric measurements were made without a calorimeter, which makes the measurements meaningless, and also raises suspicion.

IMO, there's still no "there" there.

IMO, there's still no "there" there.

They had an opportunity to show the world from the summer announcement to the fall showing off of a working device and allow 'the world' to actually see that yes, whatever LENR is, it can generate useful amounts of heat energy.

Personally I was willing to give it the 3 months to confirm a year ago and was willing to put in the effort to "mark the calender: and check back.

Just like I'll be doing the same for the EEStor saga - there is supposed to be a result of 3rd party testing sometime in June. Perhaps they'll have a dangerous capacitor that can come in cheaper then lead acid batteries on a per watt of storage and be solid state.

This is a serious test by an independent group. They are putting their careers on the line - not likely a scam.

I don't see how that follows. Steorn also got some hapless academics to believe in the Orbo.

IMO, the problem is that people with the credentials to judge this type of thing are not the type who can spot scammers. Scientists are looking for mistakes, not fraud. They are fairly easily suckered.

The results must be repeatable by other researchers, or it means squat.

In the year 2023 which is more likely?

A. Ron P.'s die-off ramps up, worldwide collapse of social order
B. Shale oil ramps up, BAU
C. LENR comes online strong and prevents the worst from happening.
D. None of the above

Given 2023 target, I'd rate these as:
A: <10%, decline quite possible but worldwide "collapse" less likely in 10 years,
B: <10% if defined as still ramping up ("shale" oil will probably have peaked & be on decline)
C: 1 in 100 million, you won the lottery if LENR plays out but winning the lottery is more likely to be successful,
D: >80%

Let's play spot the Passive House...

Passive, yet powerful houses

Tightly sealed homes are coming our way — as soon as Americans embrace the greenest building methods yet

These houses are a disaster. People have had problems with these houses not "breathing" properly, many people have had to install machines that use energy to circulate clean air from outside-in.

You need to be more specific. Are you talking about Passivhaus in general or a particular local program?

The issue of indoor pollutants, refreshed air supplies, O2 levels, etc.. are an intrinsic focus in the movement now. The point of Passivhaus is not 'a house that holds its breath'.. while various insulating approaches have certainly made that mistake, and other newcomers and converts will likely fall into the trap again and again.

Did you notice this line in the article?

After the tour was over, she noticed that visitors were just hanging around. The heat hadn't been turned on, but the fresh air ventilators were working, providing constant fresh air — she compares the air quality to a spa. The building was just too comfortable to leave.

Heat Recovery Ventilation and other mechanical systems (our family used a 'Cool Tube' in a Passive Solar house 33 years ago in the Maine Woods.. very tight, but not Passivhaus) address the issue, while almost every conversation about the topic brings up the question again and again. It's worth mentioning, of course, but like 'Population', it's a topic we invest a lot of time discussing how 'nobody ever talks about it'.

The myth of breathing houses is quite old and nonsense. The transport of water through walls is quite low in all cases. The point is that many old houses are "leaking", when you improve the quality of the windows and other parts the leak flow is reduced and leads to problems because water is not longer removed in useful quantities. People have to change their behaviour but often do not, so there are mold problems after insulation and the silly claims that insulation causes mold. The more pratical solution is of course a ventilation system.

Having a "machine" to circulate the air is part of the design. In fact, most homes have this device, its called a furnace and/or air conditioning unit - HVAC for those in the building trades. The machine used to bring in fresh air in passivhaus and other well-sealed homes is either a HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) or an ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator), depending on climate. Because they use so little heating and cooling (a 1/4 ton unit is common with a 2,000 ft2 home) they are basically running a large fan through the duct work that brings in fresh air while capturing the heat of the air before it leaves. In case you're wondering, a fan uses way way less energy than a furnace or air conditioner. For the curious, here's a link to a passivhaus home built in chapel hill that I wrote for Home Power with some good details -


Stephen Hren


I designed and built our current house about 30 years ago. It has R-20 walls, an R-47 roof and about 30% of winter heat is provided by solar gain (the south side is shaded in summer by an overhead of wisteria). But one thing I'm particularly sorry I didn't include were light pipes to several areas. I note that your house doesn't use any either. Is there a reason?


Todd, to be clear, I wrote the article about that house, but unfortunately it is not my house. I know that the owner/builder Chris Senior went to great lengths to seal the roof to keep water infiltration at bay, including putting a layer of roof sealant underneath the traditional roof. Because the spray foam that is used in the roof rafters to create a R-60 cavity can hold water if there is a leak and there would be little way of knowing about it, I think the idea of using light pipes in the roof was not considered a good idea because of leak worries. But because of the major improvements in window technology in the last decade or two, more fenestration can be put in and still keep the overall insulation value high (Typically windows with a U-value of .10 or less are used) to allow more light in. But light pipes could be done as a retrofit for your house - or would that be too difficult?

I've considered putting some in a number of times over the years. In my case, it's an easy as pie job since the house is one story and there's no tricky carpentry. I always seem to have too many projects and that one is at the bottom of the list. Plus, like Ron I'm pushing 75 and I know one day we'll have to move to a civilized area and I'm not sure new people buying our house would really like them.


RE: Our need for hydrocarbon and nuclear industries is growing

Coal has more hydrogen than wood? Looks like somebody needs to retake Chem 101.

Fill 'er up at Blu ... with natural gas

(Fortune) - If you drive down I-15 past State Highway 160 in Beaver, Utah, you'll see a 30-foot-tall silo with white letters that spell out "Blu." Next to it is a truck stop. It is no ordinary truck stop. The silo contains liquefied natural gas (LNG) chilled to -200° F and ready to fuel specially outfitted 18-wheelers. The facility is owned by Blu Transfuels, a partnership between ENN, one of China's largest clean-energy companies, and CH4 Energy, a small outfit based in Salt Lake City. This year Blu expects to build 50 natural-gas filling stations nationwide.

When you start Liquefying NG, don't you automatically reduce your fuel efficiency by about 30%? Given that trucks are big, and unstreamlined there seems little point in wasting energy with cooling and heating. CNG seems so much easier.

LNG can be liquefied with less than 10% of feed gas used for fuel pretty easily with existing designs. I haven't looked at an LNG truck fuel system design, however I'm guessing they can vaporize the LNG to use in the engine with a combination of ambient-air vaporizers + waste heat recovery from the combustion of the CH4 in the engine for almost zero extra fuel usage.

I'd much prefer to be driving a truck with a small LNG vessel strapped to it vs. a large CNG canister.

Even at 10%, I'd prefer the savings, I imagine that's a lot of money every month, and I don't imagine that LNG vessels and fueling depots come cheap either.

I suppose it's a balance of how you have to compress the CNG to load the truck and infrastructure required. I don't know the range for a CNG truck but I imagine it's quite a bit less than an LNG-fueled truck. There's also the pipeline/filling infrastructure you'd have to maintain for CNG, whereas LNG is more like gasoline in terms of pumping and storage.

A CNG tank has to be made to hold a large amount of pressure vs. an LNG tank at low pressure but needed to be made out of some sort of stainless-steel.

There are trade-offs to each, but if there wasn't some money-savings involved in it I doubt anybody would be running pilot projects.

EE Times' Top 15 Hot Technologies for 2013 - Solid state lighting"

But 2013 could be the year that solid-state lighting breaks out of the niche markets for architectural, industrial and entertainment lighting and makes a bigger impact in the home. Slightly less successful has been the roll-to-roll printing of plastic lighting panels made using organic LEDs, but it nevertheless remains a technology to watch in the coming year.

Leading manufacturers of high-brightness LEDs include Nichia, Samsung, Osram, Philips LumiLEDS, Seoul Semiconductor and LG Innotek

Early in 2013, Plessey Semiconductors will begin production of a range of high-brightness LEDs based on gallium nitride-on-silicon wafer technology. LED maker Cree combines InGaN materials with proprietary silicon-carbide substrates while the Russian manufacturer is developing a production facility for GaN-on-Si LEDs in St. Petersburg.

There is still R&D ongoing to increase luminosity, improve efficiency, and lower manufacturing costs of the white LEDs for lighting, even though red LEDs have been around for decades.

And when the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains.

This is a classic example of the Limits to Growth model showing why areas peak and then collapse. The "solution" to needing more farmland involved the use of non-renewable natural resources to turn these arid areas productive. These expenditures resulted in a temporary increase in farm productivity, but a long term depletion of resource. When those farms finally go, the poverty will be greater than before the "solution". And we have all the oil that was spent pumping the ground water. That oil is gone with nothing to show for it.

Another option would been to have modified the landscape to capture more of the water that fell. Swales, dams, terracing. Then some low level ranching might have been possible with ground water staying shallow enough to get livestock through really dry periods. The same amount of oil could have been expended, but put in place a long term capture of more renewable natural resource (rain) that would allow more harvesting of another renewable resource (sunlight) to provide a smaller but significant increase in local GDP.

But the market cannot see the future. So the cheap oil and water is wasted, and the farms end abandoned.

There is a good video discussing long term reversal of desertification:

Greening the Desert and they have a few new others if you google that name.


Here is another on a huge project they did in China and another in Ethiopia



Rep Lamar Smith (R), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, wrote a commentary that appeared in today's WaPo:

Overheated rhetoric on climate change doesn’t make for good policies

As might be expected, it's full of half truths and typical denialist crap. I could take it apart paragraph by paragraph, showing the flaws in his presentation, but it's already out there in print and a letter in protest would not appear for days (if at all). It's so maddening to read this sort of fluff, which only perpetuates the public's perception that there's no reason to do anything about Global Warming, (aka, Climate Change)...

E. Swanson

From that article is this:

Contrary to the claims of those who want to strictly regulate carbon dioxide emissions and increase the cost of energy for all Americans, there is a great amount of uncertainty associated with climate science.

I find it fascinating that the same politicians that claim they love their children and grand children, are so willing to haphazardly roll the dice on their future by acting stupid for big FF (contributions).

And these would seem to be mostly the same politicians who insisted that it was absolutely imperative that we act without delay on the basis of the worst case assumptions about that grave threat posed by Iraq in 2003 (sarcasm here).

Indeed. In 2001 they thought missile defense was our #1 defense priority, in 2003 they told us Iraq had stockpiles of WMDs, and in the mid-2000s they pushed for an "owernship society" where everyone bought homes. I guess I should trust these folks who now tell me that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by scientists.

I think not.

I find it fascinating that the same politicians that claim they love their children and grand children, are so willing to haphazardly roll the dice on their future by acting stupid for big FF (contributions).

I just made the following comment on Yahoo News regarding the giant tornadoes that just touched down in Oklahoma...

Maybe its time for Americans to wake up to the fact that they can't continue to add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere forever and not expect consequences.CO2 traps incident energy and increases the amount of energy in the system, If you keep increasing the energy you will get more and more violent hurricanes and tornadoes.
This is basic physics and you can try to deny it all you want but it is exactly what happens.

I haven't had too many responses yet but no big surprises, the deep denial continues unabated.
So far I've been told I'm stupid and should go and read a few books on meteorology... party on dudes!

Vehicle Miles Driven: Population-Adjusted Hits Yet Another Post-Crisis Low

Total Miles Driven, however, is one of those metrics that should be adjusted for population growth to provide the most revealing analysis, especially if we're trying to understand the historical context. We can do a quick adjustment of the data using an appropriate population group as the deflator. I use the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Civilian Noninstitutional Population Age 16 and Over. The next chart incorporates that adjustment with the growth shown on the vertical axis as the percent change from 1971.

Clearly, when we adjust for population growth, the Miles-Driven metric takes on a much darker look. The nominal 39-month dip that began in May 1979 grows to 61 months, slightly more than five years. The trough was a 6% decline from the previous peak.

Miles Driven photo MilesDriven_zps56a197e8.jpg

Miles driven has declined in absolute terms but when adjusted for population growth the decline is much more dramatic. Our decline in oil consumption is not just because of better gas mileage on cars, it is largely because of demand destruction as this chart shows.

Ron P.

The Kunstlerization of the suburbs' car culture is surely doing it's part:

Suburban poverty soars

Poverty is growing faster in the suburbs than anywhere else in the United States, soaring 64% over the past decade.

That was more than twice the growth rate of the urban poor population, according to the Brookings Institution, which released a book Monday titled Confronting Suburban Poverty in America. There are now almost 16.4 million suburban residents living below the poverty line, nearly 3 million more than in the cities.

Checking out the interactive map, Kunstler's poster child for suburban sprawl, Atlanta, seems to be leading the pack. Its 'burbs have seen a 158.9% increase in poverty rate since 2000. It's OK though, they can watch their beloved car culture on the 3D TVs they got with their tax refunds,,,, oh wait...

I had a conversation with a co-worker and got him to cough up some information on his driving habits. He drives a Ford Ranger - I think it's one of the smaller ones so it might get 20mpg - maybe...ish. He has a girlfriend that lives way out in the flippin' boonies and he lives in the boonies the other direction. He said it takes him about 1/4 tank each way, or 1/2 tank for the round trip - so I said 10 gallons? He figured 8 or 9. I said that "That's about 30 bucks each time you visit your girlfriend." On top of what he spends going to see his girlfriend (which he seems to not calculate into his monthly expenditures - but from what I gather is more than once a week) he said he spends about $250/month on gas. He's not full time, and isn't well paid on top of that...so I wouldn't be surprised if in total he isn't blowing half of his paycheck on go-juice.

yeah, increased MPGs and EVs has very little to do with it. It is mostly 'No job, no driving.'

It is so sad that anything has to be adjusted for population growth in a supposedly intelligent country at this point in history.

What are these units? Would a plot of miles driven per capita look the same?



Here is that official data

Check table 8.2. I did graph that from that excel sheet, and the shape is
similar, however, not as impressive. The data VMT/cap. has a peak about 35%
above 1970 value, which in the graph posted above in thread is 60% (unknown unit?).

Clearly also the official data has dropped from peak (2004) 10'103 VMT/cap.
down to 9'500-ish 2012 (not in that table, but VMT has been fairly flat the last year, population steady increase).

I would advice to look at all data keeping "per capita" in mind. That is getting more and more important it seems.

All the best

The units are "percent change in miles driven since January 1971 adjusted for population growth." I am not sure but I think a per capita chart would look pretty much the same. For instance, from the March "Federal Highway Administration Travel Monitoring" (I got the link from the link I posted above):

March 2013
Travel on all roads and streets changed by -1.5%
(-3.7 billion vehicle miles ) for March 2013 as compared with March 2012
Travel for the month is estimated to be 248.8 billion vehicle miles.

Cumulative Travel for 2013 changed by -0.8%
(-5.6 billion vehicle miles)
The cumulative estimate for the year is 690.3 billion vehicle miles of travel.

That last cumulative number of 690.3 billion miles is for the first three months of 2013.

But if you wished to know the average per capita miles driven you would have to divide those numbers by the number of people and that number would change each year and each month.

But if you used the number of drivers instead of the number of people, you would get a different result. That is because fewer people, because of the economics, would become new drivers each month. If hard times mean fewer new drivers then that is part of the equation also.

Ron P.

Notice there are not one but two looming price shocks for NG
1) LNG export
2) gas as a transport fuel.

For numerical info I can use Australian data, noting that a gigajoule (GJ) and mmbtu are almost identical. Some predict when Australia's first east coast LNG export starts late 2014 that it will drive the price of piped gas from $4 per GJ to $9. More than double.

Now look at the thermal energy content of diesel. If a fleet operator can get diesel for $1.40 per litre and that litre contains 35 MJ of thermal energy that's 4c per MJ or $40 per GJ. That price includes fuel excise with mine trucks paying less. If CNG has roughly the same efficiency when burned in converted diesel engines that means truckers have a switchover price point of about $40/GJ or 10X the wholesale price of piped gas.

The potential LNG price shock is double or more. The CNG price shock is tenfold. It's not hard to predict that fertiliser manufacturers, food processors, combined cycle plant operators and so on are going to scream loudly as those kinds of price increases start to bite. In Australia I suspect industrial gas users are like a kid holding its breath ready for a tantrum. This time next year I think industrial gas customers will ask for federal intervention, either a quota or large tax break.

Europe is going to hell in a handbasket. Electricity is a general guide to the economy. As times get tough people start cutting back, saving everywhere they can. And I imagine a lot of people have been completely disconnected.

Monthly Electricity Statistics February 2013

OECD Europe
- Electricity production was 299.0 TWh in February 2013.
- This was lower by 24.7 TWh, or 7.6%, compared to February 2012.
- This was a decrease of 29.2 TWh, or 8.9%, compared to the previous month.
- Combustible Fuels production reduced by 8.4% compared to the previous month with a decrease of 13.7 TWh

And in the two strongest European nations:

In Germany
- Electricity production was 51 935 GWh in February 2013.
- This was lower by 4 853 GWh, or 8.5%, compared to February 2012.
- This was a decrease of 4 429 GWh, or 7.9%, compared to the previous month.
- Combustible Fuels production reduced by 4.2% compared to the previous month with a decrease of 1 646 GWh.

In France
- Electricity production was 51 634 GWh in February 2013.
- This was lower by 1 977 GWh, or 3.7%, compared to February 2012.
- This was a decrease of 5 510 GWh, or 9.6%, compared to the previous month.
- Nuclear production reduced by 13.3% compared to the previous month with a decrease of 5 658 GWh.

Ron P.

The beauty of statistics. :-)

Both, France and Germany, are historically big net exporter of electricity, therefore, a reduced demand in Europe will very likely affect these countries, they may have to reduce their energy exports.

However, to deduce a decline of local economy -which affects the domestic net consumption- is very uncritical. Here you have to dive much more into the data and you have to distinguish reduced demand due to demand destrucution (economic crisis)and due to efficiency gains or other factors.

If you actually check the German data, you see indeed a lower domstic consumption, but at the same time historic highs in workforce participation and production, this during population growth, therefore, the lower domestic consumption is very likely a result of efficiency gains. OTOH the OECD Europe data are IMHO to a large extend due to demand destrcution. A minor point: As electricity is used in some countries for heating only a comparison of temperature corrected data makes sense.

New post on Matthieu Auzanneau blog :
In French (2012 at a cross roads), but very nice overview/synthesis on recent events (IEA grand declarations, French foreign ministry qualifying peakoil as "unscientific...", 400ppm, current data and realistic forecasts) with links.
Not sure how it goes through gg translate

WSJ: Threat to Rice Fuels Latest Chinese Uproar

HONG KONG—A government test indicated that nearly half the rice sold in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou was contaminated with cadmium, triggering anger from consumers that China's staple food hasn't escaped the widespread pollution tainting its air, water and soil. Nearly half of 18 rice samples tested in local markets during the first three months of the year contained excessive levels of cadmium, according to the Guangzhou Food and Drug Administration. A carcinogenic metal that can wreak havoc on the body's kidneys, cadmium has been found in heavy concentrations in soil in different Chinese regions, soil-pollution experts say.

Fury erupted online after the figures were published late last week on the Guangzhou body's website. The report came in the wake of other recent pollution controversies, including the discovery of rotting pig carcasses floating in Shanghai's water supply and the choking levels of air pollution Beijing experienced earlier this year.

Is China exporting this rice?

For some time, I have tried to avoid food products from China. Of course, I suppose there is always the chance that some ingredients are sourced from China, but not listed as such.

My face hurts from repeated face-palming.

According to 2011 research at Nanjing Agricultural University, roughly 10% of all rice sold in China is tainted by cadmium, the result of use of industrial wastewater for irrigation, dumping of industrial waste and overapplication of fertilizer.

Dubya Tee Eff.

Experts say removing cadmium from the soil is a costly process that would likely require seeding certain plants for long periods to help remove toxicity. The metal doesn't degrade on its own, and can linger in the human body for decades.

Elements don't degrade?! Quelle Surprise!!


One of the main effects of cadmium poisoning is weak and brittle bones. Spinal and leg pain is common, and a waddling gait often develops due to bone deformities caused by the cadmium. The pain eventually becomes debilitating, with fractures becoming more common as the bone weakens. Other complications include coughing, anemia, and kidney failure, leading to death.[4]

So what are they going to do after they finish poisoning the last of their agricultural areas?

Because Cadmium is in Phosphate fertilisers I wont be surprised when this becomes more of a problem in most agricultural countries. 30+ years of applying super phosphate should be enough to get levels up to a point where you should be concerned, though still below current health requirements.

I remember in the state testing lab. Testing done on air quality of a plant that was busting up Zinc for addition to fertilizers. Problem was that their source was 1% lead. Cheap rectum ... did not supply work clothes or showers or masks. Employees were going home covered in dust to their kids and pregnant wives.

Merde like that takes time to go from getting the test results, going over to OSHA ish, percolating up in OSHAish, and finally hitting the factory and the papers.

Beware your feedstocks in fertilizers.

Despite reaching Peak Oil in 1970, despite struggling to find enough fresh water in many parts of the country, the United States politicians, business leaders and citizens, still see population growth as part of the solution.

Mr.Inhofe's state appears to have been blown away.....


Maybe they have more to fear from climate change than gay marriage after all?
Mene, Mene, Tekel, u-Pharsin

I commented on Yahoo News that if you keep adding energy to the atmosphere you increase the likelihood that the intensity and number of hurricanes and tornadoes will increase. I also tried to explain in layman's terms the mechanism by which this occurs. Namely that greenhouse gases work like a transparent blanket that allows incident energy but doesn't allow as much of it to leave as comes in thereby creating a net positive energy imbalance in the system. Then I tried to explain tipping points and feedback loops in chaotic systems.

The resulting comments are none too surprising, basically I'm stupid and I should educate myself by reading some books on meteorology. Oh, well...

Yeah FM, but that was 'science' you were referencing, not blind faith in Faux News.

With hurricanes, the consensus, if any, that is emerging is that the frequency of storms may decrease but they will become more intense. For tornadoes, the situation is even murkier, you can argue that the data suggests tornadoes will decrease as the great plains dry out. But it is too earlier to make any broad statements...

Flak, yes that is correct and I am actually aware of both of those points, however the fact remains that if we continue to add energy to the system, which we are in fact doing, then the possibility of more intense weather remains a very distinct possibility. And yes there are still many unknown unknowns to be determined with how things actually develop but adding more energy to our climate system probably doesn't bode well for a stable climate state in the near term.

Google: Tornadoes, Extreme Weather And Climate Change, Revisited

By Joe Romm on May 21, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Case in point I just boiled a pot of water for some tea, as I added more energy the water started displaying more and more chaotic behaviour...


FMagyar, considering you were writing to people in Oklahoma, maybe you should proclaim that God is angry at the defilers of the Earth.

Following is the text from the NWS (National Weather Service) tornado emergency warning for the Moore, Oklahoma area yesterday.

For future reference, if the NWS issues a similar warning for your area, yesterday in Moore is an example of what they are concerned about, and severe weather is forecast today for a fairway from North Texas to Chicago.

301 PM CDT MON MAY 20 2013











I don't think it gets any more clear and direct that that. I hope never to have a forecast that stark in my area.

So with that stark and direct a forecast could someone please explain to me how it was possible for this tornado to completely flatten an elementary school in Moore Oklahoma with classes in full session?!


Classes were still in session at Plaza Towers when the twister, estimated to be packing winds of 200 mph or greater, crushed nearly every corner of the school. Teachers’ cars were thrown into the building, and the playground no longer exists.

Why was this school in session did they not know about the forecast?

According to local officials, the Plaza Towers school was the safest building in the immediate area (except for families that had underground storm shelters), and I believe that the students were held at the school because of the tornado warning. If the students had been in buses and in parents' cars when the tornado hit, I'm sure that the fatalities would have been much higher.

Pretty sad to see the consequences. Plus it looks like there's more to come:

In the bull's-eye Tuesday are parts of north-central Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, and northern Arkansas and Louisiana, according to the National Weather Service.
The area includes Dallas-Fort Worth, Waco, San Antonio, and parts of Shreveport, says HLN Meteorologist Bob Van Dillen. There may be "big tornadoes," he said.

Based on data from the Storm Prediction Center, it looks like the school officials made the right decision in keeping the kids at school. It would appear that a child is 8 times more likely to be killed in a permanent home* than at school (with an even higher risk for mobile homes).

*Of course, this stat groups homes with storm shelters with homes without storm shelters

From the link:

These data should not be taken to mean that staying at home is a risky option! Rather, it means that most people experience tornadoes while in their homes.

An analyst would look at the assertion made in words and also in the pie chart and ask questions such as: Looking at the available data set, How many homes, schools, other types of buildings have been in the path of a tornado? Another analyst question: What times of days were these different structure types hit by tornados? What was the population density in each of these structure types at the time of the tornado strike?

That being said, it may be a reasonable first estimate that commercial/public structures may be more resistant to tornadic winds than houses or apartments.

Best hopes for people scraping together the money to build underground shelters and/or in-home reinforced safe rooms in their houses.

Mobile Homes...perhaps a robust set of steel cables tensioned over the roof securely anchored to deep piles sunk in the ground? ...and an underground shelter...it doesn't have to be big...just big enough to fit the number of occupants in the house/mobile home side-by-side...maybe a little more room for a reasonable # of house guests/visitors.

Not in many people's budgets? How much is one's life, one's family's lives worth? Especially in light of what other things many people lavish on.

"Mobile Homes...perhaps a robust set of steel cables tensioned over the roof securely anchored to deep piles sunk in the ground?"

Doesn't matter how well the house is anchored if it's being pummeled with cars at 200 MPH.

Two schools took direct hits. All things considered, the fatality rate for the two schools combined was pretty low. Incidentally, apparently the tornado went from a minimal EF 0 tornado to an EF 4/5 in about 10 minutes.

When the winds get that high, your only safe place is underground.

They were saying on TV last night that underground shelters around there aren't easy or cheap around there - they were saying that bedrock is too close to the surface. The shelters don't need to be huge - in reality you may only spend 30 minutes in there until the thing blows over.

I wondered that, but I don't know how much time they had, and assume they were trying to shelter. Still, that there was a severe storm could not have been a surprise as it had been forecast.

Where are they going to find a sturdy building with the way American homes are built today?


"Maybe they have more to fear from climate change than gay marriage after all?"


"If enough people were praying [God] would’ve intervened, you could pray, Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms,” Robertson said on the show.

It was like, a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah smiting for not praying enough (and probably gays).

In the land of "broken clocks being right at least once a day" (some clocks are 24 hours)

Robertson also blamed people for living in tornado-prone areas.

"Why did you build houses where tornadoes were apt to happen?” he asked.

Exactly the response I would have expected from that old moron and his ilk. At least he doesn't disappoint.

Using solar power to pump oil.

In a remote stretch of the Omani desert, row after row of long, curved mirrors collect the sun’s energy.

Similar facilities have been gathering sunlight in the Southern California desert for years, using the focused light to generate electricity. In Oman, however, the facility generates steam. Pipes shunt the steam underground, where it coaxes heavy oil from the rocks.

there is also some of that, use of solar steam injection, in the oilfields of the southern San Joachin (central) valley of California.

Let me get this straight - petroleum engineers have concluded it is more economic to install solar for an EOR heat source than to burn some of the precious, more-valuable oil (or it's refined equivalent)? Wow. More than all the rhetoric, this quietly demonstrates that the end of oil is nigh...

Remember LulzSec?

LuzlSec's "spokesman" topiary speaks to the BBC.

LulzSec hacker: 'Internet is a world devoid of empathy'

"Jake Davis" (topiary) was sentenced to 2 years. Time served (including tagged house arrest) and time off for good behaviour mean he should be freed in a few days time.

US lulzsec core member Hector Xavier Monsegur ("Sabu") is currently awaiting trial.

Unlike some other "hackers" who clearly do have severe social interaction problems, topiary comes across in the interview as a media friendly, seemingly perfectly sane guy. His crime more in his youth rather than any underlying issue. From his Hollywood style arrest through to conviction I suspect we will see more of Jake Davis.

"You Cannot Arrest an Idea"
- Last tweet before arrest


Of course he has to avoid being extradited to the USA first. I hope he's left alone.

Ok I get you don't like that photo. If it was reduced to 20k would it be ok or is it just taboo full-stop? Was it really so bad it had to go?

I happen to think it is iconic. So does the BBC.

Anyway who decided on the current policy to shut TOD down bit by bit?

Can we have Rockman back?

Not a hard and fast thing, but in general, I'd prefer that you don't post images unless they really add to the understanding of your comment. A graph, a chart, maybe a relevant news photo that most people have not seen, or a photo of your solar panels or whatever.

Even small images slow the site down, unless they are hosted here at TOD. That one is huge. 400k is just too big for an image that is not necessary, and is not very closely related to the topic of this blog.

I will try posting this again: "Spam Filter Unavailable Error" - I repeat, either due to incompetence or stupidity this site is going downhill.


As 99% plus of the images I have ever posted have gone through then why even bother with the once per year or so image you disagree with? That just annoys posters. I thought of shrinking the image but suspected it would vanish anyway (size was from a mainstream news web site in any case) . Had I posted it 2 years ago it would not have been deleted IMHO.

Years ago there was a discussion on TOD where I recall YOU were suggested (with wide support) as a hypothetical possible world dictator. I don't think many would suggest that now.

TOD could be what it once was. I wish it could find a way to be so again.

I repeat, either due to incompetence or stupidity this site is going downhill.

"or stupidity...or intention" got missed out of the text in copy and paste after first post failure. It is really getting bad when I can't even complain without the site screwing up. Can't you default to allow posts when the spam filter is unavailable? Have you ever spoken to anyone else running a forum?

As 99% plus of the images I have ever posted have gone through then why even bother with the once per year or so image you disagree with?

Because it sets the tone for the site. People look to see what's posted to see what's welcome and what isn't.

Had I posted it 2 years ago it would not have been deleted IMHO.

I think it would have, because of the filesize if nothing else.

TOD could be what it once was. I wish it could find a way to be so again.

I don't think it can be. The whole peak oil world has changed. We can't go back to what we were, any more than chickens can go back into eggs.

And the current spam problem...yes, it is an existential threat. Things cannot go on as they are. No, I don't really know anything, but at this point, I would not be surprised if the comment system radically changed, or comments went away entirely.

And the current spam problem...yes, it is an existential threat. T

Then be aware that there are multiple options. Spam is annoying but it is not an "existential threat"

If someone in your forum management is describing the spam problem as an imminent "existential threat" then they are incompetent. Incompetent at best or at very worst liars - caveat lector.

Doctor, heal thyself.

You talk about the 'comments section going downhill', and in that complaint say that those hosting the site are stupid, incompetent, liars..

Sorry if you're frustrated, but I don't see how your approach stands to improve the site.

You are right. I was upset about something else which bled through. But that said, I visit many sites. Have moderated many myself over the years. Everyone has a problem with spam. No other forum has come up with a "solution" as annoying as that on TOD currently.

I can think of many potential changes which should be simple and reduce spam to manageable levels. A simple obvious one would be pre-approved posters. Is Rockman likely to suddenly start spamming TOD for example?

The spam filter was annoying enough but to actually lose a message last night because "The spam filter is unavailable" was just too much.

I've gotcha. Cheers.

It's not easy resisting the urge to be reactive these days, especially in this environment where we don't get the pleasures and supports of human contact with each other.. we're all just ASCII people in our primary interaction..


There is another option for a doctor - go run your own forum.

The base of this site is FreeBSD and sits upon Drupal. So one's out of pocket software cost is $0.

Be thankful you have this place to post, for like the hermit on an estate, you are here of the good graces of the landholder.

I couldn't post a large pointless picture! It's a dictatorship!!1! Tis the end of the world has gone mad !!!1!!!!

(rolls eyes)

If the spam becomes such a problem that it can't be effectively dealt with without noticeable cost, manpower and/or damage to the user-comments then it becomes an existential threat to the continuation of the site.

If comments go away entirely, there goes the reader base. I happen to think the comments are >90% of the site, and I'm sure many agree.

Yair . . . I start off reading the comments and if I see something of interest I check out the link. . .this site is about comments, without them why would you come here?


I do look at the data-based stuff from time to time and I value the efforts of those who keep up with it - it's worth keeping an eye on the data to try to gain a few clues about the timing of what is coming. But mostly I moved past that long ago and am now more interested in how people will react and behave. So yeah, it's all about the Drumbeat links and comments for me too.

Agree, knowledgeable posters pointing out errors in MSM articles is priceless.

Yes, if the comments go away, I think this site will die. I read thru the list of stories in Drumbeat, often only reading a few of them. Without the ability to comment on those or other stories I run across, I wouldn't waste my time reading Drumbeat as I would have no way to vent my anger over the lies and distortions.

I'm apparently the last moderator on an older forum, one which is still active but which requires moderation before a post appears. Perhaps because of my slow response time and my ISP's spam filter, hours (or days) can pass before posts appear. TOD used to be more like an IRC site, with nearly instant posts, which made it possible to engage in a conversation with others in almost real time. That feeling of interaction is now considerably diminished and the number of people who post appears to have fallen as well, perhaps due to the dumping of numerous accounts.

I again wish to suggest that there are other span filters out there, which might solve the problems. It takes the same effort to dump an offensive post (or thread) after it's posted as to approve it before...

E. Swanson

It takes the same effort to dump an offensive post (or thread) after it's posted as to approve it before...

Actually, it doesn't. Because offensive posts are not dumped. They remain, they are just not visible to you.

So in Heading Out's BP thread, there are 19 real comments, and about 800 spam comments. Approving 19 comments is far easier than removing 800.

But if you think there's a better way, please, please, go ahead and start your own forum. I am sincere in this. I'm not trying to pull that "If you think you can do it better, do it yourself" thing. I really mean it. For many reasons, TOD is not set up to make dealing with comments easy. It's just not designed for that. There's room for another site that is more comment-oriented.

I appreciate your sincere concern. However, without a source for the content we find on TOD and Drumbeat, another blog would simply add to the flood of rants now posted, most of which are quickly forgotten. I no longer have the inclination to be a full time moderator, as I have already spent much of the past 18 years of so posting on line, with little apparent effect on the direction of the America Way of Life (tm, G.H.W. Bush :-).

I think that saving spam in the database is an absurd waste of effort. Databases are intended to be edited, unless one is required to hold on to e-mail for some sort of archive. I used to do database programming and adding click buttons to a screen became common decades ago. If the moderator must view the post to determine whether or not it's spam, surely there's a way to offer a one click option to dump the post along with another click option to post it. That's the way Google Groups were setup. And, machine generated spam would not even enter the picture if there were some sort of "I'm Human" test were applied before the post could be placed in the database...

E. Swanson

I think that saving spam in the database is an absurd waste of effort.

As originally set up, the spam filter automatically deleted suspected spam.

The problem with that is obvious: the legitimate comments mistakenly caught in the spam filter were deleted, and could not be recovered. Indeed, I had no way of knowing they had even been posted.

If the moderator must view the post to determine whether or not it's spam, surely there's a way to offer a one click option to dump the post along with another click option to post it.

Sure, but as it's set up now, I don't actually have to click on 800 spam posts to make them go away. If no one can see them but me, why bother? Yes, it would look cleaner for me, but it's not worth deleting those posts, even if it only takes one click. Even one click is too much work when you're talking about hundreds or thousands of spam comments.

And, machine generated spam would not even enter the picture if there were some sort of "I'm Human" test were applied before the post could be placed in the database...

I don't think it's machine-generated. I think they're humans. We already have a CAPTCHA you have to solve to create an account. That did not stop over 70,000 spam accounts from being created.

At one point for a brief period, upon preview, the filter would actually tell you if it suspected it was spam and you could either accept that or re-jigger it until it didn't think it was spam any more. I liked it when it did that because you could go back and be like "Do I need that link?" or fix whatever was causing it to hang up. Now it's just a crapshoot - might take it, might not - and it doesn't tell you which.

Captcha has been broken before: http://drupal.org/node/1135682

and there are even weird human-based attacks possible...


It is sometimes rumored that spammers are using pornographic sites to solve CAPTCHAs: the CAPTCHA images are sent to a porn site, and the porn site users are asked to solve the CAPTCHA before being able to see a pornographic image. This is not a security concern for CAPTCHAs. While it might be the case that some spammers use porn sites to attack CAPTCHAs, the amount of damage this can inflict is tiny (so tiny that we haven't even noticed a dent!). Whereas it is trivial to write a bot that abuses an unprotected site millions of times a day, redirecting CAPTCHAs to be solved by humans viewing pornography would only allow spammers to abuse systems a few thousand times per day. The economics of this attack just don't add up: every time a porn site shows a CAPTCHA before a porn image, they risk losing a customer to another site that doesn't do this.

There probably needs to be some basic comprehension test on user registration to determine whether someone is a human or a computer and specifically whether they give a hoot about basic science and PO in general.

I'm not sure what hoops have been established to jump through but I think you could stop 90% of the problems with several layers:
Captcha - to stop most machines
Reading comprehension - multiple choice - read a paragraph and answer a question about it
Peak Oil Questions - things everyone in the PO community should know...who M.K.Hubbert is, what ASPO is, API, OPEC, etc
Random Science Questions - multiple choice - What is the gravitational acceleration on Earth, distance of moon from Earth, the Kookaburra is native to what continent, etc

If you make it complex enough then the machines won't have a chance. A 10 question quiz consisting of 5 choices per question would result in a 100*(.2)^10 = 0.00001% (one in ten million) likelihood of random guesses resulting in a positive outcome...added after a Captcha that would prove formidable. If it also takes long enough it won't be worth a human spammer's time. They're unlikely to want to spend 5 minutes setting up an account - having to go out and figure out the answers to the questions. If it happens to be a "Will solve Captcha 4 b00bi3s" plot then they'll totally lose their b0n3r when they start doing searches for old fuddy-duddy geologists :)

People would still be free to look at the forums here and learn about peak oil and whatnot - so you're not diminishing that aspect of the site...but making them go through a test that might take 5 minutes, with maybe 15 to 20 questions randomly taken from a reasonably sized test bank that would stop a human from learning once and mass manufacturing accounts. I think at least 90% of the problem would be gone. An intrepid few might get a couple in, but most would not find it worth their time.

I suspect most of the spam problem would go away if some kind of basic English comprehension test were necessary to join. The vast majority of it is coming from China, from people who do not speak English, judging from the content of the comments.

"but at this point ... or comments went away entirely."

Um, so the readership can go away entirely? We've all heard it before [p/o]. A newbie comes along like, what, once a month now? And most things are probably over their heads until they spend a couple months with the old articles, or throw down in the ... comments! We come here anymore to bounce things off eachother, and generally just be social animals. No comments, no TOD. Participation is 99% of engagement. Not that I don't like all the key posts (have they been getting shorter in general?), but I'm not going to be making more than a semi-yearly appearance for them. All the red meat is in the comments.

Maybe I should go see where Rock is frequenting these days...


Don't think we aren't aware of this.

Undertow, how much are you paying to frequent TOD? Zero, zilch, nada, so easy on the criticism for a site you have to do nothing to visit, and one that has fresh drumbeat message boards four days a week.


Feel free to delete this sub-thread if you wish. I shouldn't have expressed my frustration in the way I did.

Zinc-Air batteries for utility grid storage.
Eos Raises $15M for Zinc-Air Grid Batteries

The company’s goal is a 1-megawatt, 6-megawatt-hour cargo container-sized battery called the Eos Aurora, set to be released in 2014 with characteristics that include long life, fairly high efficiency and a super-low cost of $140 per kilowatt-hour -- a fraction of the price of competing flow batteries, lithium-ion and advanced lead acid batteries on the market.

The company claims its batteries can achieve 75 percent round-trip efficiency, along with a 10,000-cycle, or 30-year, lifetime.