DrumBeat: October 17, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 10/17/06 at 9:20 AM EDT]

Milestone math adds up to trouble

When the new American is born or arrives across the border sometime today to push the U.S. population to 300 million, don't expect 83-year-old Albert Bartlett to party like it's 1967.

...Never mind what the get-rich-quick crowd says, he said. "Growth never pays for itself." By every measure - environmental, economic, quality of life - it is a costly proposition.

It all comes down to arithmetic, said the retired professor of physics at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Those who equate growth with prosperity have sold our math-phobic culture a dangerous lie.

Water and oil don’t mix

Fears that the massive Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia may have passed its prime have been the stuff of speculation for many years. Ghawar has underpinned Saudi Arabia’s dominance of the oil market ever since it came on stream in 1951. With its ability to pump out some five million barrels per day on average, more than half of Saudi Aramco’s total of 9.1 million barrels per day, the slow death of Ghawar may help to ensure that the low oil prices of the 1980s are but a dream for the average consumer.

World's biggest underwater gas pipeline opens between Britain, Norway

U.K.: Nuclear closures threaten supply

The discovery of more cracks in boiler tubes forced British Energy to shut down two plants, Hunterston B in Scotland and Hinkley Point B in Gloucestershire. The company also disclosed for the first time that only one of its eight plants is currently operating at full output.

The closure of the ageing 30-year old plants and the extent of the supply cutbacks sent British Energy shares into free fall and raised renewed fears about winter supply shortages. It also dealt a further blow to Government hopes of selling its 65pc holding in the company.

Rising EU demand for biofuel set to bolster crop prices

American oil production in Russia problematical

Like Venezuela, Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and even the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation is discouraging foreign oil and gas investments by taking a big tax bite of the profits.

Arab GDP crosses US$1 trillion for first time ever

Coal shortages hit Western Cape

The industries affected include brick-making, cement, steel, cotton, paper, wine and fruit and fish caning.

...The coal crisis comes in the wake of the recent blackouts as well as diesel and gas shortages. Taken together it appears that the Western Cape is facing an energy crisis.

EU plans tough laws on energy efficiency

World needs 20 times as many nuclear plants to avoid greenhouse catastrophe

The world needs 20 times more nuclear power plants to avert an environmental apocalypse that could kill billions of people due to global warming blamed on growing greenhouse gas emissions, a top nuclear advocate said Monday.

Lulled by cheap gas, candidates ignore looming energy crisis

Boom in U.S. coal plants poses big questions

DALLAS - A building boom that would add scores of new coal-fired power plants to the nation's power grid is creating a new dilemma for politicians, environmentalists and utility companies across the United States.

Should power companies be permitted to build new plants that pollute more but are reliable and less expensive? Or should regulators push utilities toward cleaner burning coal plants, even if it means they will cost more and are based on newer, yet still unproven, technology?

Oil Tax Campaign a Cash Guzzler for Both Sides: More than $107 million has been raised for and against Proposition 87, a state ballot record.

California joins Northeast global warming fight

The sugarcane that ate Tokyo: Japan brewer pursues 'Monster Cane' ethanol dream

It is three meters tall and productive even in poor soil, it holds up in droughts and typhoons, and it yields twice as many stems as most sugarcane. No wonder they call it "Monster Cane."

Cheaper oil not denting big oil's spending plans

The link about the EU's energy efficiency push contains the gem 'European standards and norms in the car sector and mobile telephony have already become accepted in many countries worldwide, to the annoyance of Washington, which believes the EU sets too many rules.'

I mean really, since when did conservation become a public or social virtue?

And as for the people who think the world is like America -
'Meli Luigi, director-general of the European "white goods" manufacturers association CECED, said a voluntary approach to raising energy efficiency had already led to a cut of about 40 per cent in the power consumed by fridges in little over a decade. The industry body fears new rules laid down in Brussels could put manufacturers in a "straitjacket".'

Imagine that - both government mandated and voluntary approaches to saving energy and increasing efficiency. And even after achieving a fairly impressive reduction, continuing to push harder instead of claiming to be number 1.

The history of how Greenpeace marketed and sold its own completely CFC free refrigerator on the open market is yet another way to see change in action - the link at http://xs2.greenpeace.org/~ozone/greenfreeze is not exactly unbiased, but it is accurate -
'In the spring of 1992 Greenpeace brought together scientists who had extensively researched the use of propane and butane as refrigerants, with an East German company DKK Scharfenstein. The company had been producing refrigerators for 50 years and was the leading household appliance manufacturer in the former East Germany. After reunification, however, it faced severe economic problems and was due to be closed down.

The meeting between the scientists and DKK Scharfenstein resulted in the birth of 'Greenfreeze' technology for domestic refrigeration. Greenfreeze refrigerators use hydrocarbons for both the blowing of the insulation foam and the refrigerant and they are entirely free of ozone destroying and global warming chemicals.


The major household appliance manufacturers, who had already invested in HFC-134a refrigeration technology as the substitute for CFCs, at first claimed that the 'Greenfreeze' concept would not work. However, upon realizing that the first completely -CFC, HCFC and HFC-free refrigerator was about to come on the market, and recognizing the market appeal of a truly environmentally friendly refrigerator, the four biggest producers, Bosch, Siemens, Liebherr and Miele gave up their resistance to the hydrocarbon technology, and introduced their own line of 'Greenfreeze' models in the spring of 1993.'

More than ten years later, major appliance manufacturers still consider it a positive selling point to mention how they manufacture their products in this manner - our new Liebherr refrigerator certainly proclaimed it in any number of ways, from the brochure to the packaging to the owner's manual.

I realize that this doesn't resolve any big picture discussions, but the U.S. is not the entire world.

The kicker on this is all the EU countries have to agree.

It's quite difficult to make that happen.  I'm not exactly sure of the Constitutional process, but there has to be a Directive, and it has to be Enacted.

So don't hold your breath, the EU does nothing in a hurry.  We are better at producing hot political air than real legislation or change.

This one will happen, if it happens, because at the consumer and voter level, the EU citizen cares enough to make it happen.

I'm sure our politicos will go back to arguing about 'important' things, like whether 8 million Bulgarians get EU work permits when they join the Union.

I agree that the EU is very cumbersome at best, which is why the other two examples, of 'voluntary' improvements in energy efficiency and Greenpeace's 'free market' effort to force change are also there.

Generally, most Americans who fit into the doomer camp seem to find it hard to imagine that societies can actually plan for the future and then implement those plans.

Obviously, entropy wins out in the end, which is why the catabolic collapse perspective seems an interesting tool for analyzing such essentially universal processes, but in my opinion, the idea that everything ends is not all that insightful.

In other words, to quote William Shatner -

Live life
Live life like you're gonna die
Because you're gonna
I hate to be the bearer of bad news
But you're gonna die

Maybe not today or even next year
But before you know it you'll be saying
'Is this all there was?
What was all the fuss?
Why did I bother?'

Now, maybe you won't suffer maybe it's quick
But you'll have time to think
Why did I waste it?
Why didn't I taste it?
You'll have time
Because you're gonna die.

Yes it's gonna happen because it's happened to a lot of people I know
My mother, my father, my loves
The president, the kings and the pope
They all had hope....'

A great song, actually. Goes well with the one he wrote about finding his wife drowned in their swimming pool, or the one about how he is not the man to call if an asteriod is about to smash into the Earth.

'....I tell you who else left us
Passed on down to heaven no longer with us
Johnny Cash, JFK, that guy in the Stones
Lou Gehrig, Einstein, and Joey Ramone
Have I convinced you?
Do you read my lips?
This may come as news but it's time
You're gonna die
You're gonna die

By the time you hear this I may well be dead
And you my friend might be next
'Cause we're all gonna die'


I know this isn't PO, but it's science and I know many of those around here like this stuff.

A U.S. and Russian team said Monday that it had created element 118, the heaviest known to date.

It is the fifth ultra-heavy element produced by the team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, which has come to dominate the creation of short-lived elements.


Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- China's government said it started filling emergency oil storage tanks to shield the world's fastest-growing major economy from supply disruptions.

``We're actively working on the plan,'' Jiang said at a China-Australia climate change forum in Beijing. ``We don't distinguish between the types of oil, it should include both'' local and imported crude. Details of how many days' supply China intends to stockpile ``involves some form of commercial secret.''


There's some info on the strength of the dollar recently.  If you haven't been paying attention it was down near 84 and now it's at 86.5 over the last few weeks.

"We are thinking about diversification and want to broaden the number of currencies in which we are allowed to invest assets," Alexei Ulyukayev, first deputy chairman of the Russian central bank, told a conference in Moscow. "Recently we have included the yen."

Most analysts put the recent rise in the dollar against the euro down to interest rate expectations, with the dollar a beneficiary of hawkish rhetoric from the Federal Reserve, which has served to quash expectations for a US rate cut in the first quarter of 2007.

http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?guid=%7B8A9B3C68%2DF82C%2D497D%2D951C%2D6E2D831096F 4%7D&source=blq%2Fyhoo&dist=yhoo&siteid=yhoo

So the FED isn't cutting rates in spite of the zany housing market.  Many here have pointed out the lunacy of putting cities in the desert.

Yellen said that she heard the ominous description from a "major home builder," who told her that the share of unsold homes in some subdivisions around the two Southwestern cities has topped 80%.

"The market (in these regions) has seized up to some extent and inventories are building," she said.


I never heard of such a game.  You can convert fake money into real?  Leave it the IRS to come up with a way to tax it.  WTF?

LONDON (Reuters) - Users of online worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft transact millions of dollars worth of virtual goods and services every day, and these virtual economies are beginning to draw the attention of real-world authorities.

"Right now we're at the preliminary stages of looking at the issue and what kind of public policy questions virtual economies raise -- taxes, barter exchanges, property and wealth," said Dan Miller, senior economist for the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress.


Someone should create a virtual world which lives up to the cornucopian dream--unlimited energy and other resources--and it lasts forever (Well, maybe only until the power goes out in the real world).

Try reading Greg Egan's Permutation City. It's a great book - provided your head doesn't explode as you read it.
I'd rather see a peak oil game...
Think about that again....

Peak Oil Game

If we had that, we'd have a great model depending on the various iterations possible.  Instead of a game it could be real world and disturbing to many people.  Can you imagine sugar coating it though, and feeding it to the masses as they look in disbelief?

No need, we have the real world. In the real world, as things currently stand, nearly everybody is taller than their parents (literally), better fed, better educated, better off, has better health care, longer life expectancy  etc etc etc. Especially pleasing is that the poor are experiencing the biggest improvements to material well being. Problems of properity such as obesity and traffic congestion are increasing while dire poverty and brute peasant toil are decreasing.

These are the data at the moment, no need to invent a game.

Better to invent a doomsters game because the real world is currently a cornucopians wet dream.

Just the data, things may change for the worse, or not.

If we really care about us, we should at least see what is acutally there at the moment before worrying about the future.

Clearly, you and I live on different planets.
Are you saying that as of October 2006 humankind is not experiencing rapid increase in material wellbeing?
A rapid increase in material well being is occurring among a select portion of the planet's population. Among another select portion material well being is declining. On average? difficult to say, but it sure isn't as rosy as you seem to think.

And of course, there is the question of whether or not the measures of material well being we can make are indicative of people's lives.

And then there is the most important issue, which is whether or not material well being is even what we should be concerned with (beyond basic lving standards).

Davidsmi, you should strongly consider the possibility that you are not seeing the world for what it is.

Things are getting better for most people, and the poor are seeing the greatest improvements in material wellbeing.

This is not to say that we are "happier" or "more fulfilled" or that our lives are more "meaningful", but the people of the world are better provided for than ever before.

I never forget that the happiest people on Earth are recorded to be the Nigerians, and Nigeria really is a poverty and violence ridden country, but I was talking about "material wellbeing". Also intersting to note that "happiness" seems more correlated to relative than absolute income, but that's not the point I was making.

Take a look - the third world is booming - see it and celebrate it.

prove it - everything you say is counter to the statistics collected by the UN, the US, the EU, the World Bank, the IMF, you name it.
OK, I am willing. Shall we start with all the reports done by UN,USA,EU,WB and IMF this year.

We can go through them one by one.

I am willing.

You list all the reports, then we will agree a subset of them that are relevant, then have a look at them.

This will take months, but I am willing.

I look forward to your list of reports.


You're the one making the claims.  You should be the one doing the proving and providing your source material from which you've drawn your conclusions.

My bad - again I left off the <sarcasm> tag. I was trying to poke fun at grandiose claims made without backing. I failed.

Still, if you really are interested you might want to check out some of the very good papers at the UN site (we are in the midst of their effort to halve poverty by 2015.

Here's one I found particularly interesting -

That paper is not a UN paper, the UN specifically disclaims any responsiblity for it. It is merely a paper submitted to the UN and the UN does not vouch for it. Many bad and wrong papers are submitted to the UN.

In fact it is by Simms and nef - no more reliable than Exxon.

The UN publishes (and vouches) hundreds of papers every year that deal with this, but that is not one of them.

Hmmm, let me see. I suggest looking at papers at the UN site. You claim its not a UN sponsored paper. Did you even read what I wrote? Did I claim it was a UN sponsored paper? I said I found it interesting.

Looks like you are more interesting in negating something that  you think might go against your preconceived notions. Did you even look at the paper? I suggested it because of the discussion in it, some of which might actually support your position.

Please, if you want to have a discussion about this, at least do me the favor of participating in a conversation, not simply making your pronouncements.

ok, point taken, you did not claim it to be a UN paper.
Davidsmi,  I agree with you in your post to the above.

Wow, It might , maybe just a little look like some of the Upper income places in America and a few other European like states of the world.  But have you looked at the other 5 billion or so people.

I can have fun with thought puzzles and my odd fiction all day, but when I stop, I remember the real world outside my door.   The Only thing above that you got right was I AM TALLER than my parents, oh and I have gone to more schools, but my life experience, The best part of my education is lacking a lot of the things I have to ask them about and don't have time to learn it all.

I keep seeing the guys living under the Overpasses in Huntsville Alabama, Where I-565 goes through town.  I see Shanty towns In cities, villages, wide spots in the roads all over the world.  

"But have you looked at the other 5 billion or so people."

I haven't gotten the impression that you have travelled much or lived in the third world. China and India have been growing close to 10% a year, pulling tens if not hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

""No need, we have the real world. In the real world, as things currently stand, nearly everybody is taller than their parents (literally), better fed, better educated, better off, has better health care, longer life expectancy  etc etc etc. Especially pleasing is that the poor are experiencing the biggest improvements to material well being. Problems of properity such as obesity and traffic congestion are increasing while dire poverty and brute peasant toil are decreasing.""

Above the etc etc etc part was where my post was mostly centered at.

 But no I have not lived in the Third world.  I know people from there.  Some may be getting better which I don't doubt.  

 The world is a big place and I don't think "nearly everyone" can be that true.  We have Africa torn by wars, Genocides, Russia collapsing from the inside out, I forget the news article It was posted here or while I was reading google, that talked about the next ten to 20 years of where Russia would be.  AIDS is in Africa, China, Russia in far greater numbers than most people realize.  

So while we are making improvements one place we are making large back slides other places.

My thoughts are that the improvements aren't going to be able to counter balance the down turns.

I am not seeing as rosy a picture as he was painting.

I would by some, be classed as a doomer, But I like a practicalist better.

Let's define that

'poverty' is internationally defined as less than $1 per day of income.

The average rural wage in China is about $450 per annum.  The average urban wage is about $1800 pa, but of course Shenzen, Shanghai and that pull the averages up enormously.

India has a GDP per head of about 1/3rd of China.

We still live on a very poor planet.

The original discussion was about whether things are getting better or worse, not about whether or not the planet is poor.

My comment said that economic growth in China and India are pulling tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people out of poverty.

If you use the $1 per day definition, I am sure my comment is accurate.

The absolute numbers of people "pulled out of poverty" is not a good measure - you need to measure the percentage of the populationin poverty. Its not like everyone in these countries is being impacted positively by this growth. Some are untouched (like 700 million peasant farmers in China), some are negatively impacted (millions of farmers in India who have lost their land and moved into the slums of Mumbai and other cities.

You would be hard pressed to demonstrate that the overall poverty rate has improved. Indeed, if you measure by the difference between the poor and the wealthy, that gap continues to get wider.

You are right that the absolute number pulled out of poverty is not a great measure. It is not meaningless and the original question was whether everything was getting worsae outside of the US and Europe.

However, if one is a poor Chinese farmer living on less than a dollar a day who can increase their earnings to $2 a day, would you really be all that bothered that the middle class are doing even better.

If the percentage of people and/or the absolute number living in poverty has improved, that alone is good.

The percentage of people living in poverty is not changing appreciably, the absolute number living in poverty is increasing.
Do you have any links or data to back this up?

My point was that growth in East Asian countries has reduiced poverty. I don't dispute that some other regions have not made similar progress.

If you had travelled very much you would understand that a national growth rate of 10% typically means very little for the rural poor and usually means an increase in the number of urban poor.
I spent close to two years just traveling in my youth, after which I stayed in Southeast Asia working in the non-profit rural development sector for another two years. I also spent four years running an environment program in Asia. I now am in my tenth year living in Thailand and have probably been to 10 countries that would be categorized as poor.

Asian countries with rapid growth rates in the 1980s and 1990s such as Indonesia and Thailand succeeded in reducing the number of people in poverty enormously. Korea was a poor country in the 1960s, behind the Philippines, but put down years of 10% growth. China, India are now Vietnam doing the same.  

You are sitting in Florida outsourcing US jobs, if I recall correctly. You can try arguing with me based on facts, but questioning my background, when you know nothing about it is a weak approach.

Try naming one country that has grown at 10% over any significant period - say five years - and hasn't reduced its poverty rate.

"Try naming one country that has grown at 10% over any significant period - say five years - and hasn't reduced its poverty rate."

China, India. That would be about it, because 10% growth rates  aren't real common. Don't believe me? Go check it out, neither country has made significant inroads against poverty.

What you don't know is that I, too, have lived overseas and travelled fairly extensively. And I've see things quite differently than you have.

As for my job, yeah, you're right that I work for an outsourcing company. Funny how you jumped to the conclusion that we "outsource American jobs." To me this demonstrates a couple things, you're prone to jumping to conclusions based on pre-conceived notions and two you don't speak like someone with any significant expat experience.

Did some countries reduce their poverty rates over the past few decades, damn right. Did this change the poverty rate across the globe? Why don't you go check this out instead of assumming that because some people get out of poverty that everything is rosy.

To me this demonstrates a couple things, you're prone to jumping to conclusions based on pre-conceived notions

You started this by wrongly jumping to the conclusion that I hadn't travelled. You also haven't addressed my points that Korea, Thailand and Indonesia have had rapid, near 10% growth for extended period, which drastically reduced poverty.

Economic growth in China has indisputably lifted large numbers of people out of povery, although there have been downsides as well. Indian growth is more recent, but you and your outsourcing brethren can take credit for boosting the Indian middle class.

When you said recently you worked for the largest outsourcing company in the US. It is hardly "jumping to conclusions" that you are outsourcing US jobs. You haven't tried to deny it, so apparently the obvious conclusion was also accurate.

You, sir, do not appear to be interested in a discussion. If you consider misprepresentation of what others say, ad hominem attacks, and the old "shifting goal posts" as proper discussion or debate tactics, have at it. Good day to you.
Are things better off now than ever before? Maybe. Are things going to keep getting better for everybody? Maybe yes, maybe no. For how long?

That is the crux of the Peak Oil situation. Without an ever increasing energy input (and especially with an increasing population), continued improvements in the areas you describe are not possible.


Someone should create a virtual world which lives up to the cornucopian dream--unlimited energy and other resources--and it lasts forever (Well, maybe only until the power goes out in the real world)."

Sim City, old skool.  At the beginning of the game you issue bonds at a negative rate, keeps money pouring in and then you build to your heart's content. :)

The Games are nothing compared to WindArt's Entropia Universe whose economy is based on Earth's currencies.  You can move your assets from the real bank into the game and then make more money in the game and then cash out at the local ATM at your bank.  There was a link last week to an article where a kid paid for his two sibling's college with money he had earned from selling items in the game, they quoted it at 34 or 36 thousand USD, Real money that a non-college age kid made, over the course of 4 years.  IRS laws say that most kids can earn some money before it impacts the parent's income, or the minor gets taxed.

Do not think that this is the last or the first time you will hear about it.  I have been playing Online games since the days of MUD's and BBS's and IRC ( Multi-User-Dungeons or Dimensions;  Bulletin Board Service;  Inter-Relay Chat ).  About 2001 with the advent of a second wife who wrote code for a MUD, I found out that there was a whole underground economy already florishing around the whole world of money in the game or items for money in the real world, or even items.

The current game that I play has banned this form or real world bleed over, being rather strict about it, making it go even deeper underground, Maybe that is the point, or even a good thing.

But MindArt was designed to be a mirror of the real world economy to make it the first of its kind.  I have not read a lot about it, but the concept seems cool, not that I have any real world money to invest.

So remember the MSM just finds out about these things a bit slower than the Gov't funding agencies, so see it soon at a TAX-Stand near you.  

Wages earned?  Tips?  Trades?  Online gaming gains?  In game gold earned?  

i still play on irc. i find it more entertaining then most of the games out today.

Stirrings of Sea Creatures Affect Global Climate

They are the very lowest rung of the marine food chain, but microscopic plants in the world's oceans generate five times more power than is consumed by all the humans in the world, according to a new study.

Scientists estimate that ocean phytoplankton generate about 63 terawatts [image] of chemical power every year. One terawatt equals a trillion watts. In 2001, humans collectively consumed about 13.5 terawatts.

The study also found that the movements of all of the ocean's marine life--from lowly phytoplankton to the largest whales--play a crucial role in bringing cold water from the ocean's depths to the surface. This ocean churning is what powers the global circulation of warm and cold water and is an important factor in the Earth's climate.

This reminds me of something David Goodstein said.  A lot of solar energy falls on Earth...but most of it already doing work.  

This is one of my biggest concerns.  Along with it the crazy moving sea weeds that are burning people all over the world on the coasts.  I think somewhere in the Pac NW had a bad case of it this summer.  I can't remember what it's even called now.
Terrawatts per year?  As usual, journalists cannot tell power (watts) from energy (watt-hours).
Part of the problem is using watt hours as an expression of energy.  Why must we insist on using power per unit time as a primary method of quantifying energy?  I can understand it somewhat for electrical usage since our meters are calibrated in watts.  However, to quantify the energy of phytoplankton in "watts" or watt-hours or watt-years or watt-seconds is just stupid.

Of course we're dealing with journalists so I guess stupidity is to be expected.  However, no less a person than Richard Feynman concluded that the area of energy units was one area where physics hasn't done a very good job.

Suppose we are talking about how much energy it takes to go a mile at 60 miles per hour. When we express the energy in kilowatt hours, the amount used seems sixty times too low because the energy is being expressed as a power flow over an hour whereas the actual power flows for only a minute.  Were the energy expressed as BTU's this confusion wouldn't occur.  The general quantification of energy as a power flow rate over time is putting the cart before the horse.

There certainly is a problem... when your explanation/clarification contains glaring errors!!

Why must we insist on using power per unit time as a primary method of quantifying energy?

Watt-hrs is power  multiplied by unit time...

The general quantification of energy as a power flow rate over time

I can't even get my head around what a "power flow rate over time" might be...

Suppose we are talking about how much energy it takes to go a mile at 60 miles per hour. When we express the energy in kilowatt hours

Talk about mixing your units!! No wonder you guys lost a space probe due to unit confusion.

Were the energy expressed as BTU's this confusion wouldn't occur.

Furthermore...to then suggest that the solution is to go from a metric unit of energy back to BTUs.. a (rather archaic) imperial unit of heat energy just seems bizarre.

Yes, the solution is very simple... it is called the JOULE.

Yes, the solution is very simple... it is called the JOULE.

Which is equivalent with kWh since Joule = 1 Watt for 1 second. Joule and kWh have the same dimentions. It's basically the same unit.

But i agree that the above post is a bit strange - BTU? :)

Remember an hour is 3.6 kiloseconds.

During the long jump at the athletics meet the wind speed is announced in metres per second. Everywhere else speed is in knots, feet per minute, mph, kph, furlongs per fortnight or whatever.  I think the speed limit on suburban streets should be 15 mps and on highways it should be 30 mps. You do the conversions.

*journalists cannot tell power * - yes,I have long noticed this. The Guardian (for example) consistently use m instead of M for mega.

I concluded some years ago that it is deliberate, another symptom of media's continuous attack on science.

Another symptom of media's hatred of science is the space they give to ignorant greenies who have nothing to contribute.

This reminds me of one of the best proposals I've heard for removing CO2 from the atmosphere -- spread micronutrients over wide areas of the south Pacific, creating an enormous bloom of phytoplankton. The limiting micronutrient there is iron, common on the planet but scarce in the Pacific because it is insoluble, ending up at the bottom.

Apparently no one has tried it because there isn't any [current] business model, but it's worth noting that phytoplankton also manufacture biological oils ...

If you get phytoplankton to grow, but then harvest them, you havn't captured any CO2 (only temporarily).  You need to grow a kind of phytoplankton that, at least in part, sink to the ocean floor and stay there.  And of course there is no "business model" for that -- the insistence on private profit in everything we do is why we're in trouble in the first place.  Although, come to think of it, if we pay (via taxes) for people to do that, and never get anything back from that expense (other than the CO2 capture), then it's the same business model as the trillion-dollar "defense" industry, except that in the latter case we get nothing at all for it (other than death and destruction).

If you could sell Carbon Credits against this, perhaps you could make a profit?


Yeah, but I don't care for the concept of Carbon Credits. Considering what a mess Enron's money accounting was, do you really think any emitting country / company is going to accurately report all their CO2 emissions?
Typical human hubris. Lot's of people have discussed seeding various oceans with Iron in that manner. One of the larger issues is that no one knows what the side effects of such a large endeavor would be. It might be best not to mess with a system on such a large scale, especially one that's so critical to the planet's entire biosphere.
What are the side effects of spewing twenty million tons of extra CO2 into the atmosphere every year? I think there were some TV commercials recently claiming it's very beneficial to life. ;)
It's been done. Neil Young of all people went and fertilized the Pacific with iron. Other bozos have played too. And that's what it is: playtime for wealthy fools.
Did the krill then explode and eat these?
It's been tried. Turns out krill can increase in population as quickly as the phytoplankton, eat it, and release the CO2.

But now you see why there is so much work going on with algae bioreactors.

Makes sense, since the food chain starts at these phyto things.  Since the fish pops are depleting lock step with these phyto, it would make sense.
And whenever they moult or die, the carbon in their chitinous shells sinks to the bottom.

Not to mention that the krill is at the base of the animal food chain, and provides yummy protein. The whole point being, this is one of the few large scale carbon -sinks- which can be found... tropical rainforests are under stress from various sources, and do not sequester carbon that quickly anyhow.

As for the bioreactors, you end up with so many acres of plastic tubing and sheeting that it eats into your returns. The South Pacific is just there, countless millions of acres of it, waiting to become a stinking swirling cauldron of microbial life :0

And it has not, in fact, been tried. A few publicity-oriented cruises with celebrities whizzing into the Pacific does not amount to a test.
I've just updated my yesterday story by adding Deffeyes forecast:

Peak Oil Update - October 2006

Congrats Khebeb; you're the headline editorial on 321energy.com - your charts send those other analysts' charts scurrying away in shame.

Looking good!  Making TOD look good too.

Did Deffeyes really predict that the peak would be at 70 mbpd?
It looks like it but nobody knows what kind of data he used (probably crude + lease condensate).
I know this is older news but I don't think it got the attention it deserves. From here.
Google's mastery at financially savvy, shrewd strategic transactions continues apace: Google is acquiring YouTube for $1.65 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction.
And from here.
As if the auto industry weren't competitive enough: Google's founders have launched a $1 billion philanthropy campaign to tackle world hunger, disease and global warming. And the web gurus are starting the healing with a hybrid car.

Google.org -- that's the group's name and the website -- wants to be profitable while it saves the planet, and its first goal is to build an electric-ethanol-gasoline hybrid vehicle that can get 100 mpg. The group is already looking into buying a small fleet of cars to put experimental powerplants into, and has consulted with engineers experienced in hybrid technology.

We'll file this one under "We'll believe it when we see it," but still applaud the thought.

OK, let's tally it up:

YouTube --- 1.65 billion dollars
Planet Earth -- 1.00 billion dollars  *

* -- includes world hunger, disease, global warming and a new hybrid vehicle

Don't Be Evil

What's funny is that YOUtube.com was actually free on a net basis.  When they announced the purchase, their stock shot up like $2.30 and effectively on paper created the wealth needed to buy youtube.  Hence it was totally free.  
YouTube is hallucinated wealth:  It offers a free service.  So does Google.  Both are appendages of the advertising (demand-generation) efforts of the rest of the economy.
And none of that affects the bank accounts of either company.  Local channels on TV is free too.  Should that be hallucinated wealth?  It's a business model and nothing more.
It is a business model of "generating demand" that is likely to collapse in an era of forced "demand destruction".  It is a non-productive ("bads") sector that exists only thanks to surplus "goods" (food, clothing and shelter) made via cheap energy.  It has been a needed component of the "growth" economy, but will wither when "growth" hits the wall.  (Now Odo will call my view "arc of doomerism" again?)  Those bank accounts will suffer because of both monetary inflation and loss of "value" (expectations) from related "stocks".
I dont discount the future coming, however that isn't now.  Therefore I don't get how their wealth is fake when it converts to planes and homes just fine today.  You're spot on that the model is demand driven.  I've said for a while I truly believe that consumers consume so much b/c of marketing.  I took some marketing classes and let me tell you they are good.
I've said for a while I truly believe that consumers consume so much b/c of marketing.  I took some marketing classes and let me tell you they are good.

Gee, earthshaking analysis there. I think you're on to something.  Alert the media.

Nothing you people are bickering about in this thread has anything to do with Dave's original comment.

Dave Cohen, I'm not clear about your point.  Are you suggesting that Google shouldn't give only $1 billion to philanthropic efforts when they're willing to invest more than that on growing their business?  Is it Google's responsibility to give more than this?  Or should they not bother in the first place (like most businesses)?

Seems to me that their efforts with solar energy and hybrid and electric cars exhibit a genuine interest to lead social and corporate change beyond what is demonstrated by the vast majority of executives.

Thanks for dropping by to bitch.  If I was talking to Mr Cohen I would have replied to him.  So quite frankly STFU.
I meant to say none of that affects either google or their owners' bank accounts.
agreed, but the original premise centered on the now.  In that vein, they still have a billion.

Google to convert HQ to solar power

SAN FRANCISCO - Google Inc. is converting its renowned headquarters to run partly on solar power, hoping to set an example for corporate America.

The Internet search leader announced what is believed to be the largest solar project undertaken by a U.S. company during a solar energy conference in Silicon Valley on Monday. Google believes the sun eventually can deliver as much as 30 percent of the power at its 1-million-square-foot campus in Mountain View -- a suburb about 35 miles south of San Francisco.

anyone who is anyone who runs a data-center would not use such a intermittent power source to run one.
so basically they are just using it to power the office lights and stuff.
To run it 100%?  Probably not... at least not yet.

But if we can figure out the storage issues, I could easily see businesses and homes turning to solar or a combination of individual solar, communal solar, cummunal wind, and pumped storage, combined with some sort of battery/other storage.

But it won't happen overnight.  Its going to start with small projects like the one Google is working on.

Basically to make solar or wind viable, we will need to take the Universal Power Supply concept to a new level.  With a UPS I can run my computer here at work for about an hour and a half.  Even through rolling brown outs (which my company experienced during some construction that was occuring along our street.  Despite having almost 10 brown outs in a single day, my computer never once failed.

Now the current UPS systems are charged off the current grid.  But if we could charge a UPS off solar, then we've just provided a means to even out the distribution of power over the course of the day.  Again we got some ways to go, but the UPS don't care where the power comes from... they just accept a charge, whether its off of solar panels on the roof, or from wall electricity from a coal powered plant.

anyone who is anyone who runs a data-center would not use such a intermittent power source to run one."

Anyone who runs a data-center also has a very large uninterruptable power supply system, which generally draws power from multiple points (ie: UPS batteries, street power, building power, backup generator).  Solar could easily be one of those points.

"so basically they are just using it to power the office lights and stuff."

Are you seriously poo-pooing an effort just because they're not going to run the entire building on full solar 24 hours a day?  Your doomerism is showing.

TrueKaiser said:

anyone who is anyone who runs a data-center would not use such a intermittent power source to run one.
so basically they are just using it to power the office lights and stuff.

Whereas the energy provided by the electrical distribution system in California is rock solid?  Give me a break!  Of course they have the infrastructure to ensure as close to uninterruptible power for their data centre as possible.  What matters is net energy consumption.  Whatever energy they harness from the sun decreases the amount required from "non-renewable" sources.

I don't understand your attitude.  Are you suggesting adding photovoltaic power generation is a bad thing?

I normally never carry threads over from one day to the next, but this one was posted late last night after my bedtime. And since Oldhippie talks about me in it, I felt an obligation to defend myself.

Oldhippie wrote:

It is very well known that Darwin reached all his conclusions before bothering with fieldwork. Medelian genetics stand up to practical tests but 'evolution' is hopelessly tainted with ideologic constructs.

A well known fact eh? Darwin began his fieldwork in 1831 when he was only 22 years old. That fieldwork lasted almost five years until the Beagle returned to England in 1836. Darwin worked on the data he collected during the voyage of the Beagle for another 23 years before he published "Origin of Species" in 1859. But according to Oldhippie Darwin reached his conclusions before he ever boarded the Beagle. Hell, he must have been a mere teenager when he reached his conclusions. And this is well known according to Oldhippie. Why do some people write about shit that they obviously know absolutely nothing about? And as far as Darwinism being tainted with ideologic  constructs, I would like to know what they are. It is just so damn easy to make sweeping statements without any evidence to back up such statements.

Oldhippie again:

What Darwinian calls Darwinism I would call Americanism.

Very strange since the two Darwinians I quote the most on this list are Richard Dawkins and Matt Ridley, both English scholars. And I don't know how Oldhippie would know what I call Darwinism. Perhaps he heard quotes from Dawkins, Ridley, or perhaps John Maynard Smith, and thought they were Americans. At any rate, Darwinism is accepted all over the world, it claims no nationality other than the fact that Darwin himself was an Englishman.

On the other hand, the only semi-serious challenges to Darwinism have come from Americans. Carl Woese, of the University of Illinois, believes that instead of life springing from one source, it arose from at least three different sources. His theories have gained little traction since he could produce no evidence to back them up. He did claim that the structure of the cell, or cells today was evidence of his theory but the rest of the scientific world is not buying it.

Then there is Lynn Marqulis and the late Stephen Jay Gould. They both have tried to revive a variation Richard Goldschmidt's "Hopeful Monster" theory. Goldschmidt was born German but immigrated to America. Anyway this silly theory, which the creationists just love, says that new species cannot arise by the slow, step by step, process. No, all new species must spring, in one step, from one hatchling or one birth. That is, one animal gives birth to an entirely different species of animal in one giant step. This was supposed to be made possible, according to Marqulis, by bacteria invading the genotype, (egg or sperm) dramatically altering it, causing an entirely new species in the process. No serious biologist gives any credence to this very stupid theory however.

There is not now, nor has there ever been, any serious challenge to Darwinism. Darwinism is so stunningly simple that anyone who truly understands it is simply overwhelmed by its simplicity. It is so simple and obvious that  Thomas Huxley exclaimed, upon reading it for the first time: "How extremely stupid of me not to have thought of that!"

Ron Patterson


Please do not disparage the late Stephen J. Gould who, along with Niles Eldridge, Ian Tattersall and others, formulated the evolutionary theory of Punctuated Equilibrium, for which there is a great deal of evidence in the fossil record. Moreover, there is a lot of confusion about the theory itself. Your calling it "ridiculous" discredits you and promulgates a gross distortion of the work of excellent paleontologists who use this theoretical framework. Creationism does not enter into a discussion which is essentially an argument among evolutionary theorists.

I generally like your comments, so I choose to now overlook some parts of the one I am responding to. Moreover, I will not engage in an argument on this point with you or anyone else. I've just said what there is to be said and that's all there is to it.

I don't know that he called "punctuated equilibrium" ridiculous.  But in any case, I agree about Gould.  He considered himself a Darwinian.  
Re: He [Gould] considered himself a Darwinian
In 1977 Stephen Jay Gould argued[1] that instances of rapid evolutionary change in brief geological timespans neither undermine Darwinian theory (as Goldschmidt believed) nor await discreditation (as many rigid neo-Darwinians at the time thought). The gradualism that Darwin inherited from anti-catastrophic geologists--especially Sir Charles Lyell--was never, Gould insisted, essential to his theory of evolution.
From the "hopeful monster" link.

In fact, it is arguable that Gould was the greatest "Darwinian" of our day. The "hopeful monster" remark was a direct reference to a misunderstanding of punctuated equilibrium. I am amazed that I even have to make this further addition & clarification of my remarks.

I am posting this here because this is where it all starts.

You three sound like a Baptist and a Catholic and a Lutheran all fussing about how the baby should get blessed by Holy Baptism.  

If I handed you guns you could turn into Northern Ireland, or Isalm's shia and sunni.  

You will just keep on going on about like the above examples.  

But that is what we Humans do,  we love to be right in our own eyes, if we can convince someone else we are right we get the candy prize at the end of the day.

I have the candy at my house, its in the oven finishing off.

If I handed you guns you could turn into Northern Ireland, or Isalm's shia and sunni.  

Ummm...no.  Debates like this are part of science.

But that is what we Humans do,  we love to be right in our own eyes, if we can convince someone else we are right we get the candy prize at the end of the day.

Not necessarily.  I lean toward Myers-Briggs myself.  There are two kinds of people: those who argue to convince, and those who argue to understand and be understood.  It's my experience that it's mostly the latter you find hanging out arguing on Internet blogs, mailing lists, and message boards.

(Of course, that's an oversimplification.  Myers-Briggs is a scale, not a dichotomy.)

Hey I could be wrong, I could be living in one of my own books right now and dreaming this all.

Then again I might just be a crazy back to the earth live in a cave internet user with his million year battery pack from the future doing a study on why people use the internet so much?

 Having taken to many grad level Philosopy and Psychology courses a few decades ago, I tend to think I take the "Myers-Briggs" and other such  surveys different everytime in order to see how I can make my therapist believe I am crazy,  ( I have no therapist, he is a figment of one of my books ).  But once you know how the test or survey is written it is easy to twist them,  Just like being able to if you know how, trick a lot of testing like that.

 In all honesty.  I do enjoy watching you guys banter back and forth,  smiles.

Please do not disparage the late Stephen J. Gould who, along with Niles Eldridge, Ian Tattersall and others, formulated the evolutionary theory of Punctuated Equilibrium, for which there is a great deal of evidence in the fossil record. Moreover, there is a lot of confusion about the theory itself. Your calling it "ridiculous" discredits you and promulgates a gross distortion of the work of excellent paleontologists who use this theoretical framework.

Dave, in the future would you please read, and make an attempt to understand what I am saying before putting words in my mouth. Nothing upsets me more than people claiming that I spoke, or wrote words that I never spoke or wrote. Where did I call Punctuated Equilibrium a ridiculous theory? If you will re-read my post you will see that I called the Hopeful Monster ridiculous.

And you may be of the opinion that Punctuated Equilibrium requires the Hopeful Monster theory to be a fact, but nothing could be further from the truth. Punctuated Equilibrium only requires long periods of stasis, it does not require that one species be birthed or hatched from an entirely different species. Gradualism brings on new species but because the fossil record is so sparce it sometimes appears that they appeared suddenly. Hell, in many cases there is only one fossil of a species, so how could it be otherwise?

Punctuated Equilibrium is not ridiculous, and neither is it non-Darwinian. There is nothing in Darwinism that precludes Punctuated Equilibrium. No Darwinists ever stated that there were never long periods of stasis. In fact, it is only common sense that there would often be long periods of stasis, long periods of time where virtually no change took place. If there were no selective forces acting upon a species, then there could not possibly be any change.

Creationism does not enter into a discussion which is essentially an argument among evolutionary theorists.

Oh but you are dead wrong here. Creationists have had an absolute field day with Gould's revision of the Hopeful Monster theory. I know because I have been to their meetings where Dwayne Gish brought the house down with it. The rebirth of Goldschmidt's Hopeful Monster, by Gould and Margulis has given the creationists more ammunition than they have ever dreamed of. To quote Gish: "A snake laid an egg and a bird hatched out." Of course neither Gould nor Margulis would propose anything quite that drastic but that is not too far from what their new version of the Hopeful Monster theory proposes.

And, to my way of thinking, the Hopeful Monster is a ridiculous theory, I don't give a damn who proposed it!

Ron Patterson

Re: Then there is Lynn Marqulis and the late Stephen Jay Gould. They both have tried to revive a variation Richard Goldschmidt's "Hopeful Monster" theory

Perhaps I don't understand the English language. Maybe I need some lessons.

Dave, these words by Stephen Jay Gould says it all.

As a Darwinian, I wish to defend Goldschmidt's postulate that macroevolution is not simply microevolution extrapolated, and that major structural transitions can occur rapidly without a smooth series of intermediate stages.

In other words Gould wishes to defend the position that a new species can appear suddenly, birthed or hatched from an entirely different species. This is in no way compatible with Darwinism. Gould implies it is simply by stating that he is a Darwinian. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Ron Patterson

If you're going to quote, then quote the right parts.
I [Gould] want to argue that defenders of the synthetic theory made a caricature of Goldschmidt's ideas in establishing their whipping boy. I shall not defend everything Goldschmidt said; indeed, I disagree fundamentally with his claim that abrupt macroevolution discredits Darwinism. For Goldschmidt also failed to heed Huxley's warning that the essence of Darwinism--the control of evolution by natural selection--does not require a belief in gradual change.

As a Darwinian, I wish to defend Goldschmidt's postulate that macroevolution is not simply microevolution extrapolated, and that major structural transitions can occur rapidly without a smooth series of intermediate stages. I shall proceed by discussing three questions: (1) can a reasonable story of continuous change be constructed for all macroevolutionary events? (my answer shall be no); (2) are theories of abrupt change inherently anti-Darwinian? (I shall argue that some are and some aren't); (3) do Goldschmidt's hopeful monsters represent the archetype of apostasy from Darwinism, as his critics have long maintained? (my answer, again, shall be no).

All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between major groups are characteristically abrupt. Gradualists usually extract themselves from this dilemma by invoking the extreme imperfection of the fossil record...

And so forth.

In other words Gould wishes to defend the position that a new species can appear suddenly, birthed or hatched from an entirely different species.

That is simply not true.  "Major structural transitions can occur rapidly without a smooth series of intermediate stages" is not the same thing as "a new species can appear suddenly, birthed or hatched from an entirely different species."

Leanan, correct me if I'm wrong about SJ Gould, but all he was trying to say with "Punctuated Equilibrium" is that there are times when, due to swift environmental changes, speciation can occur at an accelerated pace.  These rapid speciation events are alternated (not evenly) by periods of relatively calm diversification amongst species.  The chance of recovering transitional fossils during rapid speciation events is much less than during the longer periods of calm.

This is vast oversimplification of this concept, but I believe, the general jist.

Exactly.  From Wikipedia's entry on punctuated equilibrium:

Punctuated equilibrium is often confused with George Gaylord Simpson's quantum evolution, Richard Goldschmidt's saltationism, pre-Lyellian catastrophism, and the phenomenon of mass extinction. Punctuated equilibrium is therefore mistakenly thought to oppose the concept of gradualism, when it is actually more appropriately understood as a form of gradualism (in the strict and literal sense of biological continuity). This is because even though evolutionary change aggregates "quickly" between geological sediments--relative to the species' full geological existence--change is still occurring incrementally, with no great change from one generation to the next.
Did you hear about the NEW, better wikipedia?

I just ran across this.


Okay, so the "Hopeful Monster" may not have been a new species.

"I do, however, predict that during the next decade Goldschmidt will be largely vindicated in the world of evolutionary biology." Stephen Jay Gould.

There is no doubt about what Goldschmidt was talking about. He was talking about the sudden appearance of one new species from another. So if Gould thinks Goldschmidt will be vindicated ...... Just what the hell are we to think?

Ron Patterson

So if Gould thinks Goldschmidt will be vindicated ...... Just what the hell are we to think?

He most definitely was not talking about news species forming in one generation.  He was talking about the possibility of a small genetic change creating a relatively large physical change.

Which has in fact turned out to be true.  It's so accepted now that most us probably don't even remember that homeoboxes, jumping genes, mitochondrial DNA, etc., were once new and radical ideas.

Some of the confusion in this exchange may come from the fact that Dawkins and Gould had a different definition of the term darwinian.  Dawkins would tend to categorize Gould as a non-darwinian evolutionist, as he (i.e. Dawkins) and others refer to darwinian evolution as by definition gradual.  IN other words, Gould may have considered himself darwinian, but Dawkins would not used the term darwinian to describe Gould.  Gould, on the other hand, used "darwinian" to refer to evolution in general and by any mechanism- graudal or punctuated.

Guold thought Dawkins and his followers were akin to religious fundamentalists in the way they clung to a "one true way" of evolution only by slowly accumulated to the exclusion of any other mechanism (such as rapid change in puncuated equilibrium).

Gould, on the other hand, used "darwinian" to refer to evolution in general and by any mechanism- graudal or punctuated.

Not evolution in general - evolution by natural selection.  Gould liked to say evolution was a fact.  Natural selection was the theory. (And he most definitely did believe in it.)

I'd also add that "rapidly" has a different meaning to an evolutionary biologist than to a lay person.  It doesn't mean he believed new species formed in one generation.

Agree.  "Rapidly" to Gould meant something could occur over millions of years that traditional darwinian evolution said would require tens or hundreds of millions of years.
Let's also point out that Gould looked at the fossil record for much of his theories whereas Dawkins was looking the other way at the molecular level.  They come from very different worlds and their theories are a product of their experiences.
Dawkins' books are chock full of fascinating examples from the lives of real, macroscopic, organisms.
If everyone always misunderstands you and puts words into your mouth maybe the problem is your style.
Maybe the problem is you and not your hapless readers.
Actually, in so far as I see an opportunity to instruct here, I will use it -- to wit:
  • Then there is Lynn Marqulis and the late Stephen Jay Gould. They both have tried to revive a variation Richard Goldschmidt's "Hopeful Monster" theory

    The word "variation" used here regarding Gould can only be a reference to his theory of punctuated equilibrium

  • By painting Margulis and Gould with the same broad brush that includes Goldschmidt, you have effectively said that they all belong in the same theoretical basket, so to speak.
  • What creationists misunderstand and use for their own ignorant purposes is not the fault of Margulis or Gould. On this point, you are very confused.

Calm down, take a stress pill and think about it.

Also, I have read Dawkins and met him -- he is a jerk. That's just a gratuitous aside.

"I have read Dawkins and met him -- he is a jerk. "

LMfAO - I love this site.  Dawkins is intellectually impatient and that frequently comes across as being a jerk.

Dave wrote:

By painting Margulis and Gould with the same broad brush that includes Goldschmidt, you have effectively said that they all belong in the same theoretical basket, so to speak.

Both Margulis and Gould believed in the sudden appearance of new species.

What creationists misunderstand and use for their own ignorant purposes is not the fault of Margulis or Gould. On this point, you are very confused.

No, I am not confused. What Margulis and Gould might disagree on is by what mechanism the sudden appearance of a new species came about. But Margulis would definitely with this statement by Gould:

I wish to defend Goldschmidt's postulate that macroevolution is not simply microevolution extrapolated, and that major structural transitions can occur rapidly without a smooth series of intermediate stages.

To be fair, while Margulis believes that all new species came into being suddenly, Gould would probably have said, as he did above, that this is certainly possible. Darwin, and every Darwinian worth his salt, would say this is absolutely impossible. Well, freaks occasionally happen in nature but it is extremely unlikely that such an animal would survive, and even more unlikely that it would propagate.

In fact, Darwin went out of his way to say this is impossible for such monstrosities, as he called them, to survive.

The Origin of Species, Chapter 2 pages 59-60.
It may be doubted whether sudden and considerable deviations of structure such as we occasionally see in our domestic productions, more especially with plants, are ever permanently propagated in a state of nature. Almost every part of every organic being is so beautifully related to its complex conditions of life that it seems as improbable that any part should have been suddenly produced perfect, as that a complex machine should have been invented by man in a perfect state. Under domestication monstrosities sometimes occur which resemble normal structures in widely different animals. Thus pigs have occasionally been born with a sort of proboscis, and if any wild species of the same genus had naturally possessed a proboscis, it might have been argued that this had appeared as a monstrosity; but I have as yet failed to find, after diligent search, cases of monstrosities resembling normal structures in nearly allied forms, and these alone bear on the question. If monstrous forms of this kind ever do appear in a state of nature and are capable of reproduction (which is not always the case), as they occur rarely and singularly, their preservation would depend on unusually favorable circumstances. They would, also, during the first and succeeding generations cross with the ordinary form, and thus their abnormal character would almost inevitably be lost. But I shall have to return in a future chapter to the preservation and perpetuation of single or occasional variations.

Chapter 4, page 97:
I saw, also, that the preservation in a state of nature of any occasional deviation of structure, such as a monstrosity, would be a rare event; and that, if at first preserved, it would generally be lost by subsequent intercrossing with ordinary individuals. Nevertheless, until reading an able and valuable article in `North British Review' (1867), I did not appreciate how rarely single variations, whether slight or strongly marked, could be perpetuated.

The point I wish to make is that Darwin vehemently argued that sudden and dramatic changes in animals, what Gould and Margulis call "macromutations", had no place in his theory.

Ron Patterson

Gould and Margulis has given the creationists more ammunition ...

Creationists will pounce on any scientific discussion as proof of their own cockamamie ideas. They don't "get" science. My suggestion to creationists: "Gravity is a theory -- whyn'tcha jump off something rilly rilly tall and prove it wrong?"

I regularly read TOD and post only rarely, but I'm curious - Am I the only creationist who reads this site? I don't think a person's view on this subject should attract so much vitriol. By the way - I find myself agreeing frequently with Robert Rapier and Darwinian on other matters, so we actually have some common ground.
Silly me, I always assumed the "NASAguy" meant you worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, but maybe it means "Not A Science Advocate".

Now I know what happend when I assume...

Just kidding. ; )

Yes, I do work at Johnson Space Center in Houston. :)
No, I am one as well.
I am a Christian, but not a creationist if you mean, young-earth type creationist.  I believe that Evolutionary Theory is basically true.  I don't see this as a conflict with my faith.  I don't think we are meant to read the creation story literally.  After all, the first three "days" take place before the sun was even created.  

As I see it, both Christians and Evolutionists create a sort of false dichotomy, that either science explains the universe or god does.

Christians argue that if science doesn't explain it, it must be only explainable by the supernatural.  This is often derided by scientists as the "God in the gaps" theory.

What gets overlooked, however, is a similar logical fallacy commited by the evolutionists- i.e. if science explains everything, then there must be no God.  Explaining natural phenomena scientifically does not automatically exclude the possibility of a Prime Mover.  

I hope you don't feel bad about your position, although I fear it will not be received well if this thread grows.  Keep in mind, those who believe that science does (or will) explain everything and that there is nothing beyond cold, hard matter and the forces of the universe have taken a leap of faith of their own.  Believing that science will ultimately solve all of our problems (i.e. Ray Kurzweil et al) have taken an even bigger leap of faith.

What gets overlooked, however, is a similar logical fallacy commited by the evolutionists- i.e. if science explains everything, then there must be no God.

I don't think that's a fair characterization.  The vast majority of American scientists are Christians.  

"Evolutionist" is not the opposite of "Christian."

"Evolutionist" is not the opposite of "Christian."

Yes, exactly my point.

I was only referring to those scientists who specifically ridicule people of faith, and try to prove that there is no god scientifically. Richard Dawkins, for example, has gone out of his way to humiliate anyone who believes in God or who believes that there can be harmony between faith and science.

I'm trying to remember a short story, I believe it was Asimov. It takes place at the end of a very long space journey as the scientist on board examines the remains of a star that has gone nova. He is a christian who increasingly has to confront his understanding of his god when he learns that this one time star imploded at just the right time that would make it the christmas star. And then, what really causes his problem is learning that the star system had not only had life, it had been home to intelligent life that had actually spread its artifacts out into the near space around the star. His conundrum, how to love a god that would sacrifice one intelligent species in order to save the souls of another?

Sound familiar to anyone?

I would like to reccomend a book for you to read.

The Face That Demonstrates The Farce of Evolution.
Hank Hanegraaff

I think you will fing it enlightning

I am a Christian. I post on TOD.  I do know more about gardening, living in the wild, eating wild foods, Mapping, Working for the gov't, Cooking food and food preservation, making things that go BOOM! than the hard science of Oil fields, and the Math infused charts and graphs that are posted here.  I have over 120 hours of college and grad level course study, and I am a published author.  I do not and Likely will not get a degree from my college knowledge, but I never intended to in the first place, I went there for information.

Somewhere in this thread I posted about a story idea.  Go read it.

If God created earth yesterday, could you prove he did not?

Thats the point.

 In my studies some Christians say that GOD does not live in this Universe.  He made this universe, and controls it, but this is not his actual home.  We live here.  Not being able to hold God in your hand and show someone else, does not mean GOD can not be.  
Being able to look in a book on the shelf and Know that it was printed a week ago or 100 years ago, does not prove that two hours ago you and the rest of the Universe as you know it was not made.

"Being able to look in a book on the shelf and Know that it was printed a week ago or 100 years ago, does not prove that two hours ago you and the rest of the Universe as you know it was not made."

I'm sorry, this may be amusing in a short story (and that would depend on execution), but beyond that is is just meaningless prattle. There is no possible knowledge gained from even considering it. It can not be the basis of a meaningful philosophy, it has no application to our lives.

IT is not meant to be the meaning of life.

It was written to show you that you can not prove something to me if I do not want to believe it.

Laughs!   I did not ask you to enjoy my short stories. Just to think.   If this were the Matrix, would you or could you know that there was another world outside what was going on in your head?  It was taught to me in a Class In College by a professor telling us that we can not prove anything to anyone.  

That was the point.  It was not a debate. Just a thought.

If I get a degree and publish papers and make the same point as I have been trying to make would others argue over what I thought about for hours and hours?  Heck If I know, and I don't really care personally, But just such a thing happened today. I find Life very amusing sometimes.

Don't worry, I have already gone through 2 wives, I am used to people not understanding my mentally flawed humorous thought puzzles and musings.

See Wittgenstein's "On Certainty" - begins, if I recall correctly. "If you can demonstrate that 'Here is a hand,' I'll grant you all the rest."
I'm a Wahhabist. Is that kinda the same thing?

As long as you are not a cornucopian we can all sit at the same table.

A Wahhabist?That means you follow the House of Saud?


Well, first, let me point out that it was a joke, which you so unceremoniously ruined. Second, no, it doesn't mean that. Indeed it may work the other way round. We need to be a little bit more detailed in our analysis of Islamic sects and their relationship with the Royals. See 1979.

Then again, maybe the joke's on me. I do in fact follow the House of Saud. But from a good distance.

Anyway, thanks for responding.

Is that like, the hot green sauce you get to put on your sushi? :) :)
Is that what you're supposed to do with it? No wonder those cute Japanese waitresses are always looking at me funny.
Gravity got escalated to a status of Law.

Evolution remains a theory.

There are I'm sure more comprehensive reasons as to why one is a Law and one is a theory, but the basics as I understand it are that Evolution has not been fully proven (primarily by observation), where as Gravity has.

So before you go bashing Creationists (and I'm not one in the strictest of definitions) make sure you have your terminology correct.

Like Gould said...natural selection is the theory.  Evolution is a fact.
No Evolution is a theory.  One I think has some merit, but a theory all the same.

A fact would be, lions prey on slow gazelles.  It is observable.

Evolution is also observable.  Heck, humans have been practicing artificial selection for millennia.  
But is that evolution?  Or is it forced adaptation?

Adaptations are not considered to be an evolutionary step.

A series of adaptations which eventually leads to a new species is one theory for evolution but I don't know of any observed "new" species arriving purely from adaptation... yet.

I do know that some scientists have observed how adaptation in conjunction with natural selection has allowed a particular genetic trait to perpetuate itself more successfully within a species, but no new species has evolved out of that.  

Specifically I read somewhere that a type of bird which fed on a type of seed had to adapt to competition from a bigger more aggressive species of birds, and that the result was that the birds with smaller beaks could reach seeds that birds of the same species but with larger beaks couldn't.  The result was the larger beaked birds of the species began to starve because they couldn't out compete the new birds which had moved in and they couldn't out compete the birds of the same species but with smaller beaks.

But back to adaptations being evolution...

For instance, despite there being many types of dogs out there each with their own adaptations(mostly bred for said adaptations), they are all still one species...  a dog.

They can breed with each other from a genetic standpoint (physical action of breeding could be problematic with different size dogs though).  In otherwords despite millennia of breeding, we have yet to form a new species out of dogs.

No evolution has occured which (whether from natural selection, or from artificial selection) has been observed... yet.

Not saying it won't ever be observed, but to date I don't think anyone is claiming they have observed it, or at least observed it to the point where the Theory could be escalated to a Law.

And btw, I'm not saying it being a theory makes it less important...  its just in science we catagorize these things for a reason.  And technically Laws can be demoted, as some are suggesting that some of Einstein's and other physicists works should be, in light of the fact that their models are not panning out in extreme conditions such as at the nano/atomic or macro/planetary/galactic level.

I think the differences among dog breeds have reached the point, at least with some, where interbreeding is not possible.  Great Danes and chihuahuas, for example. And look at all the plants we've cultivated, that are so different from their wild ancestors that they are considered different species.

The fossil record has ample evidence of evolution in action.  DNA analysis has also opened up a window into evolution.  

Gould was correct.  Evolution is a fact.  The word "theory" refers to the mechanism, not whether or not it occurred.

The interbreeding problems are not genetic however... they are physical in nature.

A male Dane would certainly have a tough time impregnating a female chihuahua, mainly cause (and I'm not trying to be crude) the Dane would prolly break the Chihuahua.  In the event of artificial insemination, the Female Chihuahua might also experience problems during pregnancy if the size of the pups are bigger than she can handle, but the fact remains she can get pregnant from the Dane's genetic offering and more dogs will be the result of that action.

But that is not all that dissimilar to humans who mate and are of extremely differing sizes.  A female with small hips and small body might have trouble bringing to term a baby from a genetic line of people who are normally tall and start with large birthing weights, or have large heads.

The other way to view this is to put the physically problematic species in the role of the male.

A male Chihuahua could impregnate a female Dane.  Genetically there won't be a rejection, and physically the main problem the Chihuahua has is short legs.

Physical and Genetic difficulty need to be carefully seperated precisely because one is a measure of speciation, while the other is simply a result of traits within a species.

The interbreeding problems are not genetic however... they are physical in nature.

That's not true, at least for some of the plants we've cultivated.  Cultivated bananas, for example, are triploid, and hence seedless.  They propagate via corms.  They cannot cross with the plant they descended from, which has large seeds.  

In any case, speciation doesn't require a genetic barrier. Some different species simply never encounter each other in the wild.  If they did, they could breed successfully.

Physical and Genetic difficulty need to be carefully seperated precisely because one is a measure of speciation, while the other is simply a result of traits within a species.

Not true, and not possible.

If there's one thing DNA analysis has shown is, it's that the whole idea of "species" is fuzzy.    

Gravitation is theory -- sure we have Einstein's famous relationship, but as I understand it the theorists are still asking "what is the origin of mass?" and similar questions.

Science is all about theories. But it doesn't mean that if you drop something tomorrow it will fall -up-.

Likewise, there is debate about evolutionary theory. Has it been a steady slow progression or did it happen in fits and starts? How fitful are the fits and so on...

For an interesting ground level account of it, try The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time, by Jonathan Weiner.


"by bacteria invading the genotype, (egg or sperm) dramatically altering it, causing an entirely new species in the process"

You need to use the correct terminology.  They're called 'MidiClorians' and they are emmisaries of 'The Force'..  It's quite well known.  I could loan you the DVD's.


As a working field geologist, heterozygous cross of a paleontologist and a geologist and a avid reader of paleontology texts in general, and S.J. Gould in particular; I must confess that I have never heard of the "Hopeful Monster" theory (hypothesis?).

Could you expand on this please?

He provided a link.

Gould wrote about the "Hopeful Monster" theory more than once.

The Return of the Hopeful Monsters by Stephen Jay Gould
And there are many others, this is just the essay where he tries to give the laymen a simplistic explanation of his new, but old, theory.

As for Lynn Margulis, most of her latest books, usually co-authored with her son Dorion Sagan, try to overthrow Darwinism. But the book that defines this theory (the sudden appearance of a new species) the best is Acquiring Genomes: The Theory of the Origins of the Species

From the Booklist review of the book:

They detail the anatomy of cells with and without nuclei, positing a process of genome ingestion that creates a new species.

Genome ingestion, no less, can creates a new species! Do you think that plausible. Most biologists think it hilarious.

But in all fairness to Margulis, she never meant ingestion into the stomach. No, she is not that stupid. She meant the invasion of the genotype by bacteria and the ingestion of that bacteria's genome into the genome of the genotype. That would so greatly alter the genome of the genotype that a completely new species would pop out.

Margulis herself does not refer to her new theory about the sudden appearance of new species an a Hopeful Monster theory. However many biologists who have read her explanation call it exactly that.

Nuff said.

Ron Patterson

I think you are being unfair to both Gould and Margulis.  Neither really believed in the "Hopeful Monster" as originally espoused.  While their theories have received criticism, I wouldn't say they are "laughed at."  At least, not any more.

Gould was talking about "homeobox" genes and other regulatory genes.  Genes that control development.  Small changes in those can make a big difference.  As an example, he pointed to the neotony of humans as an explanation for why we are nearly identical to chimps, DNA-wise, but so different in outward appearance.  We are chimps who never grow up.  

Margulis' theory about how we acquired certain organelles, such as mitochondria, is widely accepted now. It was proven in the '80s.  Heck, everyone's probably heard of mitochondrial DNA being used to solve crimes and such.  Why do mitochrondria have their own DNA, that is entirely different from nuclear DNA?  Because they were once independent organisms.

We are chimps who never grow up.

- that explains most of our problems.

Yes, excellent comment.

What is being attempted generally by Margulis is to explain the evolution of

The Tree of Earliest Life -- Click to Enlarge

From here --

Green plants and algae also use both photosystems. In these organisms, photosynthesis occurs in organelles (membrane bound structures within the cell) called chloroplasts. These organelles originated as free living bacteria related to the cyanobacteria that were engulfed by ur-eukaryotes and eventually entered into an endosymbiotic relationship. This endosymbiotic theory of eukaryotic organelles was championed by Lynn Margulis. Originally controversial, this theory is now accepted. One key line of evidence in support of this idea came when the DNA inside chloroplasts was sequenced -- the gene sequences were more similar to free-living cyanobacteria sequences than to sequences from the plants the chloroplasts resided in.
And one further remark. Of the secular religions -- and there are many -- Darwinist Fundamentalism is one of the worst. The theory of evolution is constantly undergoing revisions in its details. For example, here we are talking about the details of how speciation occurs. Generally speaking, this is called science.

Of the secular religions -- and there are many -- Darwinist Fundamentalism is one of the worst.

Indeed.  Gould made that very criticism, that Dawkins et al had elevated darwinism to a religion all its own:

The gang believed wrongly that evolution progressed by "one true way," Gould said, which was adaptation by natural selection. Referring to the recent attacks against him, Gould said Darwinian fundamentalists would "stigmatize their opponents by depicting them as apostates from the one true way."

The secular religion that we love to hate here at TOD is cornicopianism.

And one further remark. Of the secular religions -- and there are many -- Darwinist Fundamentalism is one of the worst. The theory of evolution is constantly undergoing revisions in its details. For example, here we are talking about the details of how speciation occurs. Generally speaking, this is called science.
Well, yes, definitely. When you hear about economic, political, or social Darwinism, you're also likely to hear some shocking tales of abusive primate behavior.

science ≠ religion
Leanan, my problems with Gould go way back, concerning mostly politics as well as his continually trying to chip away at Darwin, and all neo-Darwinism. I do not care to go into that here. But it goes very deep. Gould was a Radical Environmentalist, that is; he believed that nurture counted for almost everything and that nature counted for virtually nothing.

Gould was one of my early heroes. I read "Ever Since Darwin" and thought it was one of the best books I had ever read. It was his very first book of essays from "Natural History." I have read most of the others as well. In his early years, he was fantastic. But as he got older his Marxist ideology and his blank slate beliefs crept into his work. The "Mismeasure of Man" was rated by a panel, which Gould was a member of, as one of the best 100 books of the twentieth century. I thought it was one of the worst books I ever tried to plow through.

I still have a lot of respect for Gould. As Dawkins said, he was a Darwinian heavyweight. His ideology kept getting in the way of his science however. Click here for about 100 essays on Gould, Gould's politics as well as other articles by Dawkins, Wright, Pinker, Gould himself, and others.

My problems with Margulis is her disdain for Darwinism in general. Her quest in "Acquiring Genomes: The Theory of the Origins of the Species" is nothing short of overthrowing Darwinist theory completely. She proposes a complete new theory as to the origin of the species. Darwin is thrown in the dustbin.

Ron Patterson

Gould was a Radical Environmentalist, that is; he believed that nurture counted for almost everything and that nature counted for virtually nothing.

If so, he changed his mind later in life.  That's what scientists do, when presented with new evidence.

He liked to tell the story about how he protested the idea of plate tectonics being presented as science at his university.  Of course, now you'd have to be a flat-earther not to accept in plate tectonics.

His ideology kept getting in the way of his science however.

Gould wrote often about how this was unavoidable, as long it was humans doing the science.

Gould was a Radical Environmentalist, that is; he believed that nurture counted for almost everything and that nature counted for virtually nothing.

If so, he changed his mind later in life.  That's what scientists do, when presented with new evidence.

Leanan, with all due respect, I think Gould died a Radical Environmentalist, that is, one who believed in the almost total malleability of the human mind. He did not believe IQ was heritable, he believed it was totally nurture. That was the subject of "The Mismeasure of Man". He was railing about IQ tests and complained that they measured nothing but nurture. And he launched a crusade against "The Bell Curve" and never missed a chance to denounce it until the day he died. He, like all Radical Environmentalists, called it "Biological Determinism".

Of course every evolutionary psychologists says that intelligence is both nature and nurture, but the radical environmentalists will have none of that.

If we thought that biological determinism was pernicious but correct, we would live with it as we cope with the fact of our own impending death, We have campaigned vigorously against this doctrine because we regard the determinist argument primarily as bad biology--and only then as devices used to support dubious politics. Stephen Jay Gould, An Urchin in the Storm, page 151

The above quote was from Gould's review of the book "Not In our Genes",  the creed of all radical environmentalists. The excerpt below from a short biography of Gould below can be found here.

A third example of his enthusiasm for verbal battle is his open opposition to the advocates of strict neo-Darwinian theorists and evolutionary psychology. The melee among these "evolutionary pugilists," as Martin Brookes has labeled them (Brookes, "May the Best Man Win," New Scientist, April 11, 1998: 51), typifies Gould's fervent opposition to what he terms the "strict" adaptationist model for the evolution of human cognitive capacity.

He believed that cognitive capacity was almost all nurture with nature having hardly any input at all. The human mind, he believed, was almost totally malleable. He was a true blank slater if one ever existed.

One question I always wanted to ask Gould was: If intelligence is not inherited then how the hell did it evolve in the first place?

Ron Patterson

The Mismeasure of Man was published in 1981.  Not In Our Genes was published in 1985.  More than 20 years ago.  Both of those were before our knowledge of genetics really started to take off.  

Go back far enough, and you'll find Gould thought plate tectonics was quackery, too.  

Leanan, I call myself a "keeper upper" on all news concerning Evolutionary Psychology, or Sociobiology, as some people call it. But I completely missed Gould's changing of mind and heart.

How could I have missed something so obvious? After all, he was such a crusader for the Radical Environmentalists, such a conversion would have been news to all the biological world. And it would have been seen as a betrayal by radical environmentalist camp.

Damn, I just don't know how I missed such news.

How did you hear about it?

Ron Patterson

I've read all his books.  Including the last one, which was a little eerie once you realized that when he wrote it, he didn't know he was dying.

The general trend since Skinner's heyday in the '70s has been toward greater emphasis of nature over nurture.  (Gould noted that Republicans were more likely to fund research that supports that genes over environment - except when it comes to homosexuality, anyway - but did not say the research itself was flawed or incorrect.)

And I don't agree that he was a "radical environmentalist."  The Mismeasure of Man was a criticism of IQ measurement techniques (and a book on the limits of science in general), not a criticism of the idea that intelligence has a genetic component.  

It's a concept I've had personal experience with.  My mom was a fourth grade teacher until her recent retirement.  Fourth grade is when the national standardized tests are given, and they are a big deal these days.  She was infuriated at one of the questions on the test.   "Sugar is to spoon as snow is to __."  The correct answser was shovel.  Obviously, that question is much harder for a bunch of Hawaiian kids to answer than it is for kids from Maine or Pennsylvania.

And when I took the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test, one of the questions was about the Stanley Cup.  I like to think I'm fairly well-informed, and I'm a sports fan, but I'd never heard of it.  Turns out, it's the NHL championship.  Duh.  Hockey is not exactly popular in Hawai`i.

I think the problem with many tests trying to measure intelligence is two fold.

First many tests falsely equate knowledge with intelligence, i.e. your snow shovel example.

Secondly and I think a bit more complicated to pin down are types of intelligence.

Several studies have suggested that different people possess differing levels of intelligence in different areas.  On a really simple example, you constantly hear about extremely artistic people who can't do math to save their life.

On a more narrowed example would be autistic kids.  In fact if I remember correctly, one of the studies started with a focus on autistic kids because they kids provided a "control" in the experiment because it was "easy" to figure out what mental areas the autistic kids was adept in versus those in which he/she showed no aptitude.

For instance, there are autistic kids who can learn and do math with amazing speed and accuracy, but try to get them to figure out sentence structure, or vocalbulary, or even drawing a picture and they cannot do it.  In otherwords they have a high intelligence in mathmatical reasoning, and virtually none or very little in other types of reasoning.

A very general recommendation. Go to the library (a physical library with stacks and a librarian and musty old paper and ink). Find The Journal of The History of Ideas. Acquaint yourself with the notion that ideas have histories that are quite distinct from the TRUTH of any particular proposition.
Acquaint yourself with the notion that "science" responds to social phenomena just as readily as it does to data.
Stop being such a humbug.
In my view the writer who makes this "stunning simplicity" clearest is Richard Dawkins.  His books are highly recommended (start with the unfortunately-named "the selfish gene", which is not about a gene for selfishness).  I used to hand out copies of "the selfish gene".  Nowadays I hand out copies of "the party's over".  But they're related.
To jump where others fear to tread.

A long time ago in a Writer's Dream I came up with a Whole Multi-verse of a story line. I have about 300 pages of notes and story arcs and ideas, drawings and explainations for things and outlines for this whole Hunk of Sci-Fi "World I created".   One of the concepts I worked on is thus:

 On the one hand you have theories that state the life on Plant X started from a few Billion gallons of Minerals to form over billions of years a race of space going creatures.

 On the other hand you have a creature that is outside the universe but that can make a universe, and in a blink of an eye (I used the reader's eye for this). A fully formed universe was formed, It had time already in place. Creatures fully grown, living in villages, with full memories of growing up, of the time before they were born.  The ground had fossils of past creatures and beings.  A totally formed as if it were, and always had been there universe,  seamless no one in the universe could tell they were not evolved from billions of gallons of mineral water.

 This is the "Where" the story concept takes place. In my fiction I added other layers, and ideas, it was never meant to be much more than my own pet project, with a few short stories hinting at the grand scheme of things.

My point is.

 If we started out in either universe, could we tell which one we had started out in?

 Are we just bags of mostly mineral water, or fully developed creatures with a built in past?

I would like to make a reply to this debate.

First a statement attributed to Darwin:

Darwin said that the organism that best "fits" its environment had the best chance of survival; hence, the term "survival of the fittest."

Now my point. We are destroying this world and ourselves.
We are therefore NOT the fittest since we are not surviving but destroying. Hence perhaps Darwin is totally wrong as shown by the events we on this site are debating. That we have induced global warming, destroyed many species, polluted the very earth and now we are possibly and very likely on the road to doom ourselves or at least a huge dieoff.

I do not believe in Darwinism. The above is one of my reasons.

Here is another. In the USA (and elsewhere) feebleness, sickness and disability is rewarded by the welfare system. What then happens to the gene pool? The less fittest are surviving and perhaps gaining on the rest of us. In fact a young female may well chose a mate who is already on welfare and can gain more welfare(children with disabiliites,etc, ethnic orgins,race,etc) and thus survive without being the 'fittest'.

We ourselves have destroyed Darwins laws of natural selection.

Comments welcome but please no silly jabberwocky or homilies. Facts or at least serious opinions.


You completely misunderstood "fittest".  (And most other people don't get it either.)  I suggest reading "the selfish gene" for a clear explanation of what natural selection really is.
"It is not the strongest of the species that  survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."  -Charles Darwin
"Fittest" means that among creatures designed to exploit a particular habitat, the most capable in that regard tend to increase in population disproportionately to the others.  Over time, they may dominate the others to the point where they go extinct.  Homo Sapiens has proven thus far to be more fit than, say, chimpanzees, or neanderthals.

Strictly speaking, we don't have the capability to destroy this world, and we havn't yet been able to destroy ourselves.  "The world is ending" crowd ignores that population and life expectancy continue to rise, that waterfront property isn't a prerequisite to human life, that destroying certain species doesn't necessarily have anything to do with our survival.  Do I like those things?  No.  But I'm not about to claim that they will end humanity, that Gaia or Mogomra will become angry and stomp us all to death.

A dieoff of a majority of the population isn't the end of humanity, far from it.  Unless you have some sentient, sapient, self aware, technologically superior aardvarks that are looking to take over the world to mop up the remaining population.  In nature, mass dieoffs happen all the time to disease, to weather, to everything.

As for modern evolution of humanity, a decent definition for civilization is a large group of social beings for who 'survival of the fittest' plays a very small to nonexistent part.

Survival of the fittest would involve those who aren't fast enough, or who don't have good enough hearing or eyesight to catch that deer dying ot starvation.  Fuck welfare (a key enemy of the Social Darwinist movement championed by the racist and classist), we're talking about basic things like asthma dooming you to death.  Of course we want to get rid of natural selection - it by definition involves a significant portion of the population not surviving to reproductive age.

"that waterfront property isn't a prerequisite to human life"

<sarcasm>How can you say such a thing? Clearly you have no concept of what real life is about </sarcasm>

As usual the replies are scattered. Some one-liners with no real thought process or actual debate. Just a rendering of how they 'feel'.

Others miss the whole issue. One tells me I don't understand the word fitness. Sheeessshhhhh!

We could debate this forever , my giving sources, them giving sources etc etc etc....

However my point was that we are NOT surviving and those who DO survive(I am tired of entering IMO over and over) will be those doomers who have real survival skills and that is not among any of those who replied.

Therefore most will disappear and then the 'fittest' will survive IF what is left will support sustainable life.

With all the tipping points being reached I submit, that YES we can destory the earth. Or better yet make it inhabitable.

Whether that happens is not up to us. We are a species who might get another chance. The digerati and nerds will not be sitting around the campfires but if a few do survive then they will be yoked to plows and tamed to the whip.

Obligatory smilies inserted whereever the reader thinks appropiate.

One last thought. Did Darwin anticipate nuclear warfare? The energy crisis? Global warming? All the rest? I seriously doubt it.

Here is some of my source:

"Survival of the fittest" is sometimes claimed to be a tautology, that is, a statement which is true by its own definition, and is therefore intrinsically uninformative. The reasoning is that if we take the term "fit" to mean "endowed with phenotypic characteristics which improve chances of survival and reproduction" (which is roughly how Spencer understood it), then "survival of the fittest" can simply be re-written as "survival of those who are better at surviving".

Airdale, nice breath of fresh air there. I can smell the fallen leaves and the oncoming frost in it. Take a deep breath. Sometimes TOD reminds me of young children. Saying much, with major running around in circles, but signifying nothing. Every once in a while we have a few who stand in the corner and stamp their feet. And yes, sorry to say but we do have our screamers and the "quick, quick, look at mes"

That said, the brain is an organ the needs exercise as well as the rest of the body. I've said before give me a shovel and a pile of dirt to move and I am a happy man. Those actions are timeless and you actually accomplish something.
< one of your smiles here >  But good lord, I do enjoy the mental gymnastics. That's why we go to a bunch of conferences each year. I said on yesterdays drumbeat, we are really concentrating on http://poptech.org  Been going since they started. Dawkins is there this year and a host of others. Once you get to our age that jump start for the brain cells is great.

Sometimes, when the kids are off the wall, and get loud, you just have to go with the flow and let them be. It's good for them.

Hah, just had a thought airdale, and I guess it fits. I had two boys, before I became a brady bunch and ended up with 2 girls as well, but when I finally could not take the loud verbal jousting among the siblings. I would walk down the cellar stairs and pop the breakers on the kids room. And darkness falls. It really changed attitudes here, I expect no less when it happens to all of us.

Don in Maine


Reminds me of how when my son, at that tender age, was taking showers that were lasting for 30 minutes or longer.

"What the hell is he doing in there" I asked myself just before going to the hot water heater and shutting off the supply. Immediately thereafter the shower shutdown.

He never figured it out but if he did then he was sure someone was wondering.

Well, here is a fine chance to throw in Prince Peter (Pyotr) Alexeyevich Kropotkin, everyone's favorite aristocratic anarchist, and not well enough known Darwinian.

His scorn of the 'Anglo-American' misunderstanding of Darwin's work makes a great read in 'Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution' - the Wikipedia link about his work at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_Aid:_A_Factor_of_Evolution also includes a link to a free download of his work, which would surely have warmed his heart.

Far too many people misunderstand Darwin, which is what motivated Kropotkin to share his own field experiences to help the scientific discussion.

His work is intentionally a well founded scientific challenge to all those those who feel 'science' vindicates acting in a selfish and destructive manner.

My guess, and it is just a guess, is that Kropotkin would likely have nothing but utter scorn for Dawkins (and no, I am not misreading 'selfish' in this context - it would have to do with Dawkins 'Britishness' or 'fundamentalism'), but would consider Gould's work interesting, at least in terms of expanding the terms of inquiry.

'In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense -- not as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavourable to the species. The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress. The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution. The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay.'

    --Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902), Conclusion.

Darwinian, you argue with a bludgeon. And blinders. I'm not opposed to science. I'm a rationalist. An atheist.
If you can't see the ideology and religion in Darwin I can't help you. If you can't see the politics and nativism in your own arguments nothing I say will change that.

And yes, Darwin had the answer before the fieldwork. Tell me about his lifelong devotion to observational natural science after the Beagle voyage. You can't. Just a controversialist.

Or try what historians do, or what lit critics do. Check his lineage, check his associates.

"If you can't see the ideology and religion in Darwin I can't help you"

 Can you help me? And can I be in 4 religions at once? Darwinism, Peak Oil, Global Warming, and Judaism? Which one do I use the next time I want to hit a home run, and I'm standing in the batter's box, and the pitcher is crossing himself?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 Religion is a system of social coherence based on a common group of beliefs or attitudes concerning an object, person, unseen being, or system of thought considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine or highest truth, and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions, and rituals associated with such belief or system of thought. It is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system"[1], but is more socially defined than that of personal convictions.

Oldhippie, I fully understand where you are coming from now. You haven't a f***ing clue as to what the hell you are talking about. You tell me to check this and check that all the while you haven't checked anything nor have you gave a single source for your speculations.

You know nothing about Darwin or Darwinism. You know nothing about the history of Darwin or Darwinism. If you have something to say that you can prove, post a URL or something we can check out. Your "well known facts" are nothing more than bullshit! You obviously just make shit up. Anyone can do that. Post a URL or source if you have anything you can back up. Otherwise you would be wise to keep silent.

Ron Patterson

Oh, I have from time to time. Never saw an indication that anyone here reads outside the online canon. (Well, not quite. Last time I got into it with you at least two posters said they'd ordered books I'd recommended. Would be nice to hear from them.)
And I like reading from paper.
And why would I respond to someone who addresses me with obscenities?
I would stimulate inquiry. With Darwin that goes in a thousand directions while the controversies here wear down a narrow path. For narrow minds.
In other words Oldhippie you have absolutely nothing to back up your bullshit but more bullshit.

But in all honesty I hope you keep posting your bullshit. Your posts are an absolute hoot! We all need comic relif.

Ron Patterson

Glad I could make you laugh. This last post of yours even tempts me to walk over to the shelf and start pulling books.
Nah,I don't work for those who do obscenities and veiled threats and who absolutely know the TRUTH
Good points oldhippie.

Yes, as far as i know, Darwin was raised in a non-theistic family. And of course the concepts of darwinism has expanded to become a body of ideologies. We all know that social darwinism to a large extent became the cultural rationale for Nazi-Germany. The founder of Eugenics, which was a relative of Darwin, believed that proper natural selection no longer took place among humans, was advocating that man should compensate this unfortunate "fact" by managing the selection our self. I think he was quoted saying "politics is applied biology" :)

Remember, the Nazis didn't do anything wrong - they were merely giving history a gentle push.

Such ideology was by no means limited to Europe, but was also influential in the us. In contemporary culture, the most obvious example of darwinisms influence is within economics, where the ideas which in essence is variation and selection has a hegemonic position. Just think of laissez faire and you get the point. So i believe i understand what you mean by labeling darwinism as Americanism.

Another important point regarding Darwinism, is that his theories where embraced by atheists and was soon embedded in a cultural struggle against religious element. This is, AFAIK, a established point of view among historians. I will also add that the flat-earth myth was created in circa 1870 by an Darwin proponent as an mean of stigmatize religious people - probably to some extent a justified decision :)

To some of the tensed posters:

I'd like to underscore that the intention in the above post is not to make any moral judgements or to have a defined stance regarding whether Darwinism in our culture is a good thing or not.

Papirus science, like nature, is not good or bad. It just is.

Ron Patterson

While i'm sympathetic to such notion (that science equals truth?), i strongly disagree. Thing is that science, which is a social construction, are often being utilized in cultural issues. An example is science of gender, where some (often biologist) believe that the discourse should be confined within the borders determined by evolutionary biology to be scientific.

One could of course solve this by rejecting gender science as a science, a stance I'd be happy to support. But then - for consistency - political science, literature, sociology, economics etc should also be rejected as science. And from my point of view, a large fraction of for example biology and paleontology would also be in the dark. There would be roughly physics, chemistry and logical sciences left.

Personally i prefer the term knowledge over science, and i try hard to always pursue truth even when it's discomforting or unrelaxing. IMHO, thats what it's all about.

At last, a nice quote.

Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.
Henri Poincare

Does anyone ever even think of putting Darwin in the context of early 19th century Brit religious and economic thought instead of parsing his musings in the light of late 20th century scientists, philosopher and pundits?
I should have read everything first - check out my post (wherever it ended up), about a Russian doing that around 1890 or so.

Pyotr Kropotkin was a very interesting man, and not at all 20th century - he was one of those who tried most of his life to change things before the 20th century arrived (spending time in a few jails along the way), with its varied horrors.

But he did write one of the better extensions to Darwin's work I am aware of.

I love Kropotkin. "Better extensions'  is a very good way to put it.
I've mentioned him to Darwinian before. He ain't gonna read anything outside his little shelf of canonical works.
Which is a real shame, since Kropotkin actually did field work in another area of the planet, and his observations provide a decent counterbalance to nature, red in tooth and claw - or however it was written by ?Tennyson?.

People tend to see what they expect, which is why so many people here probably still believe that men went hunting big game, and women stayed at the fire - much more likely is that men and women worked together to trap small game. And much of the 'evidence' about this big game hunter theory is demonstrably wrong - the bones, for example, found in European caves are from different time periods than when they were inhabited.

Much of what we are taught is what other people wish us to believe, not what is proven or true. Personally, I rate the volcanic outgassing as the source of Earth's water as the scientific myth most likely to be ridiculed in 50 years, as the proof that smaller cometary objects are literally raining cubic miles of water on Earth is no longer disputable. It is just that such proof makes a lot of people look like fools, and that is a proven hindrance to the truth being accepted.

<sarcasm>No, no, old hippie, you don't understand. Science gives us the truth!</sarcasm>
Yeah, Huxley. Isn't he sort of the 19th century version of Sean Hannity? Or Michelle Malkin?
I like Aldous Huxley better. At least he did some interesting experiments.

Citing Huxley inclines me once more towards the presumption that Darwinian is a political thinker, not a scientific thinker.

Let's see now. At his worst Aldous gossipped about Ottoline Morrell in the pages of Crome Yellow. Such bad form to gossip about your hostess.
T.H. Huxley thundered that slaughtering wogs for sport was doing God's work, following Nature's Laws. Should I care what that POS said about Darwin?
I really, really need to read - one of the things that motivated Kropotkin was his utter disgust at T. H. Huxley and Huxley's 'misrepresentation' of Darwin's insights.
I like Chrome Yellow. I have to finish that. Very intense. I think I was scared the first time. made it about half way through. I have no excuses it is a quick read. But not tonight. SAT made me think of Kafka's Amerika.
Scared! It's about a weekend in the country. Ottoline was a spectacular character, even more outlandish than Huxley's sketch.
The Doors were named after The Doors of Perception. People are Strange. When the Music's Over. The Doors of Perception. A Huxley Book, No? I find Chrome Yellow Freaky. I also find Kafka's Amerika(or The Man Who Disappeared) horrifying. When I trudge through ten pages at a time I think I understand what was wrong with Kafka. I just want to go hide in a bomb-shelter. Not that there was anything wrong with him. There wasn't. He had issues with himself. There's a new biography out on him. They never have it at the bookstore. It's starting to piss me off. I might have to start using the local library. I went to drop off some books for a friend the other day and couldn't believe how many cute women were in there. I just gotta make sure Paris is out of town(or I've gotta teach her to read).

Be honest. It can't be about a weekend in the country. Or maybe you're right, I haven't finished it.

I don't necessarily agree that 300 million is something to be unconcerned about, but Robert Yaro's point about planning for that growth with efficient transportation systems is spot on.
That's a perspective that is understandable for somebody who lives in NYC, but in my view 300 million (probably more in truth, and rising) is something to be very concerned about.   The cities depend on the ag lands which depend in turn on depleting groundwater and cheap oil.
Oh, believe me I'm concerned. But what can you do to stop it. Rather than wishing for something that is fairly unstoppable under current circumstances, we need accept that population is going to increase until something big changes. Given that situation, should we steer people toward the autodependent suburbs or dense walkable urban area?
Potentially an irrelevant distinction.

In that, London, and New York (and Mumbai, and a few other of the world's supercities) are all on land that may well be under water by the end of the century.

At the very least, they are going to need storm barriers which are quite remarkable-- the next Thames flood barrier is already on the drawing boards, and will cost something like £20bn, and be needed by 2030.

I consider myself an avid environmentalist, but I am furious at the mainstream environmental groups for not making the US population growth an issue for obvious political reasons.  They've sold out the environment for politcal gains and will end up achieving neither environmental protection nor political power by their silence on this issue.
Highly agree with that...how much evidence does one need that population control is the #1 issue facing us? Anyone believe our position on this planet is comfortable with 6.5 billion?  How about 9 billion? Or 12?

RE: World needs 20 times as many nuclear plants to avoid greenhouse catastrophe

The world needs 20 times more nuclear power plants to avert an environmental apocalypse that could kill billions of people due to global warming blamed on growing greenhouse gas emissions, a top nuclear advocate said Monday.
International Herald Tribune
Uranium 2005: Resources, Production and Demand, also known as the Red Book, estimates the identified amount of conventional uranium resources which can be mined for less than USD 130/kg, just above the current spot price, to be about 4.7 million tonnes.
Based on the 2004 nuclear electricity generation rate this amount is sufficient for 85 years.
International Atomic Energy Agency

Okay, so we have 85 years of conventional Uranuim, based on 2004 usage rates. What would happen if we magically had 20x as many plants? The conventional uranium resources would last just 4.25 years.

The IAEA goes on to offer some hope:

However, total world uranium resources which could be available at market price are much higher. Based on geological evidence and knowledge of uranium in phosphates, the study estimates that more than 35 million tonnes are available for exploitation.

So 4.7 Millon tonnes equals 85 years at 2004 usage rates. 35 million tonnes would make it 633 years of uranium at 2004 rates. Phew.

One problem - when you build 20x as many nuclear power plants that 633 years shrinks to just 31.65 years. The life expectancy of a nuclear power plant is forty years. You do the math.

The last thing the children of 2037 need is 8,880 obsolete, radioactive, power plants that need to be decomissioned.

The last thing the children of 2037 need is 8,880 obsolete, radioactive, power plants that need to be decomissioned.

Yes, because they will be too busy dealing with the end-of-time in UNIX (Dec 31st 2037)

Anyone know a good site explaining the mining process of uranium?  How much MORE hazardous is it than ore/coal mining?
tate423 -

Unfortunately, I don't have any specific websites to refer you to, but I have seen a number of publications on the subject, and the consensus seems to be that uranium mining is not abnornally dangerous or unhealthy.

There is a common misconception that because one of the isotopes of uranium (U235) can undergo nuclear fission in a reactor or atomic bomb  that it is a highly radioactive material. It is not. That is why uranium has a half-life of several billion years: it's rate of radioactive decay is very slow.

 It is also why uranium is of no use in radiation therapy or other applications where a substantial amount of radiation must be generated over a short period of time. Highly radioactive isotopes of cobalt, cesium, and iodine, all of which have a relatively short half-life, are used instead.

Nevertheless, uranium does have a certain toxicity, part of which is chemical rather than radioactive toxicity. Evidently, inhalation of very fine particles of uranium can cause serious problems, as evidenced by the current controversy over exposure to the dust created by the of depleted uranium munitions.

For specific info on the incidence of health problems for uranium workers, you might want to start  by checking the OSHA website, which might have links to some of OSHA's data bases.

Tahnks for the overview.  I didnt think the uranium itself was radioactive otherwise the deposits in aggreagate would kill so many.  I just wondered about, like you said the air pollution with the particles when it's being mined.  I would be wearing a full protective suit, paid for by myself if necessary.  Who am I kidding, I'm a econ geek.
All four isotopes of Uranium undergo fission; that's why they have half-lifes.  U235 being 703.8 million years and U238 being  2.342 billion.  U235 is used in reactors and bombs because it is radioactive enough to work [in bombs, maybe].  Uranium itself is highly chemically reactive, and is therefore poisonous just as arsenic and mercury are poisonous, but uranium is more so [plutonium is far worse].


U235 is used in reactors and bombs because it is radioactive enough to work [in bombs, maybe]. - Pants, U235 is used because it undergoes thermal neutron capture fission and emits neutrons when it does so, making a controlled chain reaction possible - nothing to do with how radioactive it is.

Uranium itself is highly chemically reactive, and is therefore poisonous Pants again - just because it is highly reactive does not make it poisonous - oxygen,sodium and potassium are all very reactive but essential to our health. Mercury is fairly inert though fairly poisonous. There has been a lot of rubbish whipped up by greenies about the toxicity of plutonium, though it is indeed toxic. You can handle plutonium without gloves though it is about 100,000 times more radioactive than uranium. Major Colin Farrell (Manhattan Project) records that he actually held the core of the bomb in his hands (it was warm) - the scientists at Los Alamos had plutonium bomb cores hanging around unshielded in the labs (2 scientists died, but they were fooling about with the plutonium bomb cores - bringing the two halves together to demonstrate criticality). Enrico Fermi stood on top of the first nuclear pile as it went critical (there was no shielding of concrete or steel), there is a famous photo of it somewhere.

Many of the nuclear scientist pioneers did indeed have their lives shortened by nuclear radiation, but they were doing such things as standing on top of naked nuclear piles or working in labs with unshilded bomb cores etc.

Marie and Pierre Curie were both killed by radium, but they spent many years working with the stuff and taking NO PRECAUTIONS of any sort. Radium is about 10 times more radioactive than plutonium (wrt half life), but also a gamma emitter so in fact more dangerous than that. Pierre Curie used to paint his arm with radium to demonstrate the burns (apparently similar to sunburn) ... is cost him the last third of his life. Nowadays, Marie Curie's notebook is kept under shielding because of the radium dust in it, yet all the radium she was exposed to took 40 years to kill her. Perhaps, therefore, a few minutes holding her notebook would be no more harmful than a few minutes sunbathing.

A hammer, if you hit yourself on the head with it, is very dangerous. So is a computer if you drop it on your head. How dangerous something is depends on what you do with it. DONT EAT nuclear stuff, and don't grind it to powder then breathe in the dust - those might be bad for you.

In general, fears of nuclear radiation are MILLIONSFOLD out from the dangers that these substances actually present.

ps- I have not wiki-ed this, so might be off on a few factlets, but the gist remains good.
Also off the top of my head are the issues of radon gas inhalation, ingestion of uranium dust chemically similar to lead and the compounding effect of lifestyle such as cigarette smoking. There have been cases of uranium leach water contaminating drinking water supplies. Those are the insidious problems; the more immediate ones are machinery accidents when overpaid operators use unhelpful drugs. Hence random drug testing of uranium miners.

My view on uranium depletion is 'use it and lose it' ie spend the 50 years or whatever to transition to a solar economy.

I keep getting your search timed out.  Help?
Sorry, the article has moved around since I first saw it on the Energy Bulletin in April .  Here's the address that just worked for me: http://www.peakoil.org.au/nuclear.co2.htm The author is Dave Kimble.
9,200 commercial nuclear reactors -- wow.

In the early 70s, Ontario Hydro extrapolated power consumption demand based on historic growth: and got a figure of 8% pa.

[Actual power demand growth has averaged something like 2.5-3.0% pa since then (doubling every 24 years).]

Eventually the entire provincial GDP would have been consumed building nuclear power plants.

They therefore went ahead and built 14,000MW of nuclear capacity (20 units).  Things went hopelessly wrong.

You could fuel that many reactors (9,200) with fast breeder reactors but no one has made fast breeder work commercially.

The environmental risk profile, never mind the political risk and the terrorism risk, would be horrific.

My guess is we will, indeed, build another 500-1,000 reactor units over the next 40 years or so.  Which will replace the 460 currently running, at peak be about 2-3 times GW capacity of the current 460.  China alone is probably 100-200+ of those reactors, and India at least 50.

Those reactors will probably still be c 8% of world energy consumption (which will have doubled by the time we get those reactors built).

But we will not keep growing power demand exponentially.  At least not from non renewable resources.

When you are on the exponential part of the S Curve, it always looks like there is only infinite growth.

When you flatten out, it comes as quite a jar.

And we will not solve the problem of Global Warming (let alone Peak Oil) by nuclear reactors.

So 4.7 Millon tonnes equals 85 years at 2004 usage rates. 35 million tonnes would make it 633 years of uranium at 2004 rates. Phew.

One problem - when you build 20x as many nuclear power plants that 633 years shrinks to just 31.65 years. The life expectancy of a nuclear power plant is forty years. You do the math.

The thing is if we are going to make this level of committment to nuclear power, sooner or later one or more countries are going to start moving to breeder reactors to extend their fuel supplies.  Thus I think fuel-year calculations are somewhat meaningless for this fuel.  Not saying this will solve our problems however.

no one has made a commercial breeder reactor work yet...
I thought the reasons for no one making a commercial breeder work are economic and political, not technical.   For example:
The study was particularly critical of the estimates of the future availability and cost of uranium, which is central to any decisions on the economic viability of plutonium reprocessing and the need for and timing of breeder reactors. Until the cost of uranium ore rises significantly, it is cheaper to produce low enriched uranium from new ore than to separate plutonium from previously irradiated fuel elements. The study concluded that, if uranium followed the example of other minerals, the higher costs accompanying increased demand would generate much larger supplies than previously forecast as it was discovered that lower grade sources could be profitably exploited.

So, the commercial viability of breeders is an issue of the uncertain uranium economics of price vs. supply.  Commercial viability would come about in an environment where the inexpensive uranium resources begin to run out.  Remember, all that "spent" fuel currently in storage contains most (>95%) of the energy of the original uranium and could become a valuable fuel resource in the future at the right price given a suitable reprocessing infrastructure to deal with it.
so while the invisible hand doesn't work for one finite resource(oil) you think it works for another finite one(uranium).
now i have seen it all.
Uranium is simply much less price-sensitive than oil.  It's a whole hell of a lot of energy.  Even without breeder reactors, mining trace elements of uranium in many bedrock categories has a positive ROI.
All of the breeder programmes have been shut down or delayed due to serious accidents, fires etc.

Even the French one.

This is due to their greater efficiency when using liquid sodium.  While water coolant leaks produce explosive decompression and a scram, sodium coolant leaks produce explosive decompression, a scram, and a sodium fire.  Leaks are not uncommon in either, but "the nuclear plant is burning" is a bit more serious than "The nuclear plant's floor has puddles."

Sodium-cooled neutron fast reactors are operated successfully, however - Russia is building more of their BN- series, for example.

The failure to perfect a fully commercial nuclear fast reactor isn't exactly a technological one (though it is harder to operate than conventional nuke plants)- it's that uranium has been cheap and plentiful, that nuclear development almost completely stalled after Chernobyl, and that the mantra of anti-proliferation prevents politicans who want to appear concerned with national security from considering it.

But as someone reminded me once, that 300,000kg of plutonium we've bred into the world for non-commercial reasons?  That wasn't found in nature.

The last thing the children of 2037 need is 8,880 obsolete, radioactive, power plants that need to be decomissioned

They can leave the plants where they are, or break them up and bury them or throw them in the deepest sea (if worried about abuse of the waste).

Solar radiation kills a few hundred thousand people every year, yet we all go out in the sun.

Leave it to the engineers, they can get rid of the old plants and the spent fuel, there is no problem.

Do we have any record of civilian power generation nuclear waste EVER killing a SINGLE person? Not that I am aware of, is this a case of exaggerating risks by orders of magnitude?

If we believe that humankind is genuinely facing an energy catastrophe then nuclear is obviously very very very much better than a global die-off.

I heard a story (don't know if true) of a man in Naples, Italy who was killed by a pig falling from a balcony. If the story is true, and if it is also true that civilian nuclear power waste has never killed any human, then we can say the "There is more chance of being killed by a flying pig than by nuclear waste".
Monster cane grows in poor soil.....hrmmmm...anyone know of a sugar cane that can withstand cold weather?
Sorghum perhaps?
Sugar beets can grow in more northern areas, and sweet corn stalks have enough sugar in them that you can taste it  (I lack a hammermilll, so processing them at the moment is more playing armond than actual processing)

Havn't played with sorghum yet....

I have grown Sorghum for making of a syrup.  Messy process, I would rather go after maple tree saps.  Which thought he Sugar maple is the best, there are several other maples that you can harvest from, just have to start out with 1.5 yo 2.5 times the sap to make a syrup like Sugar-Maple syrup.  

Fresh spring growth of the young trees is tasty, taking about the first 6 inches of growth, eating fresh or lightly boiled.  And Maple seeds gotten before they form the seed, give a drop of sugar water, and aren't that bad green, or you can wait till they mature, and before the squirrels get them all, harvest and dry them.  But I degress off the Sugar topic.

Sugar beets, Corn stalks, Sorghum, Sugar cane, Potatoes, Old candy bars, can all make you some nice ethanol.   But use the stuff wisely you are going to do a lot of work to get it.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, is for the most part the best way to get out of the big bad energy spiral we are in.

I solved my problem I turned the Sugar into a Hard candy to cover last years frozen Pecans.  Yummy.

Don't forget cattails and jeuserlum artichokes.  

I've seen a reference to using the tops of the J.chokes as a basis of ethyl alcohol....but I've not seen the sugar %age or processing methods.

The leaves are bitter or is it they just have so many sticky hairs and sharp edges I never go into the Jerusalem Artichoke patch once its up and going.  They self weed themselves and my dad pulled the rotten Old railroad Ties off the sides of the patch a few years ago.  It is still where I planted it over 25 years ago.  This winter after a good hard freeze I plan on digging the whole bed up and next spring we planting it as best as I can to premote bigger yields.  The roots are really tasty.

Cattails are much better in the tummy that the tank.  More of that plant is edible than just making it into a fuel for the car.  I would rather use it to fuel me.

Jicama is a plant I would like to grow.  The globular root is very sweet, and great in stir frys, holds its texture and is still sweet.  I wonder if it can be grown with other crops and if you need to, use it also for ethanol production.  I should look it up more though.

I still think we can use Kudzu.  While it is edible,  it is very prolific, but frost kills it.  

It looks like it still is, food versus fuel, just in different plants.

I bet we will have a ton of solutions, for my house and your house, but the answers will only help in little ways.

Use the ethanol fueled truck to get to town for the doctor, but grow and plow and get around with somthing else.

Feet or four legged rides.     Dog sled or dog cart is one way too. Gitty up Spot!

Never heard of Jicama - but it looks like it hates frost.  
If frost kills it, I really can't grow to love it.

Unlike the J-chokers.    The State has some J-chokes growing along the old rail road right of way.   Come spring, some will be moved to my property.  

My goal is to have food AND fuel - just incase food gets hard to get.

The Jicama, is a Root Veggie I have noticed in Southern Groceries over the last 10 years, not much longer than that.  It is native to Mexico and all points south into the tropics.  Influx of a huge different kind of population brings all sorts of new foods to the markets.

This link tells the tale.


This one gives you recipes and a picture.


Dig the Jerusalem Artichokes, (sun-chokes) after the first frost and eat them, take the smaller roots and store them in dry straw and plant them next spring, I have transplanted them, but i find they do a lot better as small sets buried about 4 to 6 inches deep, water in the dry summers using stored rainwater.  I have heard that some of the bigger flowers do have seeds that are edible, but I have never had any get big enough or survive the birds long enough to check in a serious manner.

If you have a long enough growing season, I don't know wehre you live, you should be able to get the younger vines to produce a few small roots for you from the Jicama.  I have yet to find a seed supplier in my hunting today, but I am not yet ready to buy my next seasons seeds and sets yet.  Still have planning to do and other research.

Starchy plants make great sipping squeezins.

Trivia:  In the episode of Quantum Leap where Sam leaps into a pregnant woman and has a craving for Jello with raw onions in it...the "onions" were actually jicama.

QL fans outside of California all said, "What's jicama?"


That is another site that gives good info on the Plant from which the Jicama comes from.

They talk about some species being good for Moonshine.  There you go.

Also getting the seeds seems to be hard, though I have found one seed company online, I am looking for more.  

Above or below they are talking about Supercane being able to grow in bad soils, well that is one of the places that Jicama can grow in, in some cases 50 pound tubers are harvested after several years growth, but 2 to 6 seems to be common for one season.  Growing it up north seems to be the only question.  And Like a lot of things, we will just have to try it.

I'll post more tomorrow about it.

But again, the deal-killer is the lack of hardyness to cold.   Chopping up all of sweetcorn is a waste, but stipping off the leaves and hacking up the main stalk/mashing the processed cobs is yielding some sugars.

(now to build up a heilo-furnace to make biochar)

There are two sorghums. Cane and grain. Cane is very seldom grown any more. Used to be grown to add sugar to the mix when putting up silage into a silo. Average rate was one bundle of cane to 4 bundles of corn.    Oh Gosh, I just dated myself. This was back when they cut the corn and cane with a binder (cut off the stalks at the bottom and tied twine around the bundle & dropped on the ground) then pick up the bundles by hand and put on wagon and take to the silo. feed the bundles into a cutter/blower that chopped up the corn (stalks & ears)/sorghum cane and blew it way up to the top of the silo. Of course it would not spread itself evenly in the silo so someone (me) stood in the silo spreading the sticky corn/sorguhm cane mixture around. Every once in a while some yo-yo would find a dead rat or something else as interesting and add it to the mix - sigh - what fun!
Anyhow, cane sorguhm is more like sugar cane and very sweet to chew the stalk. Grows about 2 to 3 meters high in Minnesota. Grain sorghum only grows 1/2 to 3/4 meter high and is harvested for the grain that grows at the top of the plant.
If you are going to grow sorghum for ethanol production you want to make sure you use cane sorghum.
The old days with get togethers for silo filling and threshing were sure a lot more fun than sitting in a combine all by yourself all day (and night).
If not, maybe biotech can provide one.

Seriously, we doomsdayers may be guilty of underestimating the potential for genetically engineered energy solutions.   This is not pie-in-the-sky technology.  It's happening now.

If not, maybe biotech can provide one.

Many call the plant a 'weed' in warmer zones, so a bio-engineered version might be a 'weed issue'.   Make the stalks thin enough and the wild critters would rip 'em open in the dead of winter to get the sweet, sewwt sugar.


Not enough arable land!  Some biologist/antrhopologist has calculated the full potential of crop mass in any given year, and the answere is far short of current fuel usage. The same guy also points out that these years, as opposed to the early 1900's, the world is using the energy equivalent of 400 years of stored bio-mass each year.  Sorry, I can't remember his name, but came across this information in an article on EVWorld.com.    
Was the calculation you cite based on current crop varieties?  What would the calculation be if Japanese monster cane were factored in? Or some as yet undiscovered steroidal plant that produces massively more biomass and like the monster cane doesn't need good soil or warm climate?

I'll stand by my contention that many doomsayers might be being mere naysayers when it comes to possible tech breakthroughs.

Granted, the laws of entropy are inviolable and, granted, disaster is looming on multiple fronts.  But I'd argue we can't rationally dismiss  the potential of technological advances to significantly offset post-peak energy deficits.

"I'll stand by my contention that many doomsayers might be being mere naysayers when it comes to possible tech breakthroughs."

If your going to make such generalized statements based on a "what if," I'd encourage you to include the opposite as well. Something like "Us cornucopians just might be putting to much faith in technology and we could be doing a whole lot of damage by doing so."

Sheesh! I hope this ideascape has not become so polarized that there can be no middle ground between "doomsayers" and "cornucopians".  Isn't the future likely to be a little more complex than that? Mightn't trying to keep an open mind about something as unpredictable as technology help us to plan and interpret better along the perilous way?
Wasn't it you that make the open ended prediction that technology would save us? And this was no specific plan of yours, it was just a generic "Up with Tech" message. In case the subtlty got by you - I was encouraging you to be a little more balanced. "Sheesh," yourself. Keeping an open mind means recognizing the limits and the possibilities. But if your open mind makes you think that technology will rescue you. Well, good luck.
I try not to make any predictions.  For the record, let me say that I do not believe that technology can protect us from the horrific consequences of global overshoot (population, climate change, water, soil, etc.).  On the other hand, I believe there may be a chance that biotech could significantly mitigate a post-peak energy shock.

Would like to hear Robert Rapier's thoughts on this Japanese monster cane.

I'll get this wrong but their are two photosynthetic pathyways C1 C2 I think that Cytochrome 1 and 2 but its been a loooong time. http://crop.scijournals.org/cgi/reprint/44/5/1633.pdf Tropical plants like sugar cane use a quite different photos synthesis route from temperate plants. Basically the temperate regions are a desert as far as plant gene variation goes. The difference in species and abilities of tropical plant vs temperate plants is orders of magnitude at least a thousand times more plan species in the tropics then out. If you want sugar or starch plants for the northern regions sugar cane is probably not the best candidate. Actually other varieties of maize besides those currently cultivated may make a lot more sense. The corn stalk itself has a pretty high sugar content. http://www.agron.missouri.edu/mnl/25/29Shibuya.htm So for ethanol production that more renewable re-breeding corn to focus on sugar content of the stalk instead of the ear is probably the best approach we could take. So I think corn is still the answer but not the varieties we grow today. Of course their may be a better plant but we know a LOT about corn genetics which is important. I think we could get the right variety of corn created far faster then starting with another species. Adding genes to support nitrogen fixing bacteria in the right corn variety is the ticket. http://www.uwex.edu/ces/cty/columbia/ag/crops/articles/article28.pdf http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/69/11/3474
A glith?

I have noticed a really odd looking spike in the graph at 321energy.  It went up to almost 69$ and droped to 60,30$ in kind of a few min.

Really strange!  

Anytough on this?

Let's get Nuclear, Nuclear..

"The nuclear setback overshadowed the opening ceremony of the Norwegian Langeled pipeline which is capable of providing 20pc of Britain's winter gas needs. The 700-mile long pipeline, the world's longest undersea link, brings gas from Norwegian fields to feed into the gas network at Easington, East Yorkshire.

It was hoped the new link would avoid a re-run of last winter's tight energy market and help arrest the sharp jump in prices but the nuclear power headaches are upsetting the calculations.

Maybe my opposition to nuclear is simply visceral, and largely just informed by growing up in a cold-war, and a scant thousand miles downwind of ThreeMileIsle.. but here's part of the paradox which makes me think I'm not entirely irrational on this.

(Urban Legend..)
"Statistically speaking, you're more likely to get in an accident in your car than in a Jet Airliner"

Yeah, but in a car (or using small-scale, local power sources like wind and solar instead of leaning on huge centralised structures like reactors, and the complex web of moneys, mine resources, energies and policies that run it), you probably have much more control over that statistic than the 'official numbers' can ever make room for.  Your skill as a driver, your maintenance of your vehicle, decisions about when and where to drive, and how to react to situations that are arising and shifting around you.. these will all directly affect your safety on the road and your place in or out of that magical stat; while in a Jet, you just have to sit back and accept that the massive forces that you have just committed your body to will be benign and lucky today, because your choices are now limited to 12 channels of Audio, maybe a Skymall magazine, and whether to waste your laptop batts on a movie or on Solitaire.  Coke or Pepsi?

  So every time we jump into this fray again, I feel like the demand for a Fusion-Solution to this is like saying we need to get through this with a lot of Jets to get around, not a whole lot of bikes and busses.  (in keeping with the metaphor only.. I know that the Nuke advocates here are also largely pro-mass transit, bikes ,etc)

  When I hear that 'going Solar/Wind' is just not politically feasible, or the people won't go for it.. but that this massive necessary buildup of Nuclear 'is only held back because it's politically unpopular, and the people won't go for it..' ..

  Each one would require a simply massive engineering build-out.  Each contains certain risks to the environment, depending on how carefully the development, mining, processing and placement is handled.

  Solar, however, can be distributed right to the rooftops, residential and commercial where it will be literally a few meters from its principal user, and will reduce the loading on the grid, while Fusion will be the opposite, leaning entirely on the already groaning grid, and incurring line-losses as well.

Why is it either/or, and not both/and for me?
  - Waste disposal/ Reactor dismantling
  - Land Use in Uranium mining
  - How bad is the catastrophic failure of the system?
      (Still generally unknown or classified)
  - System Complexity/Toxicity vs 'User Servicable Parts Inside, come on in!'
  - Continued Energy/Economic Systems that reward monopolistic 'Access to Power', vs system that rewards personal investment, more power to the individual, more choice and control in our own hands.
  - I want to leave Lorelei some great hand-tools, maybe some Land and a few paintings by my grandparents, but not a steaming pile of spent rods which she has the obligation to safeguard for 100,000 or so years.  Mesopotamia was hummin', what, 6000 years ago?

Do I love Coal and Global Warming?  No. (Coal is kinda cute, actually..)
Will I accept less electricity-higher rates instead of vote for any new Nukes in Maine.  YBYA I will.

Bob Fiske

And here in the USA, we could cut our electricity use in half and hardly notice it!
Here's how we cut ours by more than half, w/out sacrificing 'lifestyle'.  BTW vtpeaknik, I cut my efficiency teeth working for Washington Electric Co-op in E. Montpelier in the 90's.  NC utility regulation is at least 15 years behind...
Way to go, Clifman!  You're ahead of me,  even though I use even less electricity, because I use propane for cooking and half of the heating.  I havn't yet figured out how to add more passive solar input.  Blocks of ice falling off the roof make it a challenge, and heat loss through the glass during winter nights may outbalance heat gain on sunny days.  (And it's very cloudy here in Nov-Dec.)
..  It still goes without saying (or at least I didn't say it up there..)

Solar and Wind will not, they just will not provide as many watts as we could generate (for a while) with Nuclear and Coal, etc.  It will also be expensive.  It already is expensive, and it will stay expensive.  So is cable. So are books. So is Beer. So is junk food. So is organic food.

We will VERY likely have to learn to live with less power.  It will cost more, and we'll have to make some careful decisions about when to buy the cheap and apparently plentiful thing (with pages of fine print), or when to get the pricey, but not-too sexy, but ultimately sensible and durable thing.  

How much did you spend on Cable last year?

NOTHING!   I refuse to pay for TV.   I must be the last person I know that uses an actual off-air antenna.  

BTW, the Radio Shack stores around here (Los Angeles) actually ran an ad campaign last year for conventional outdoor TV antennas with the revolutionary proposition "GET FREE TV"!

[I actually have several friends (recent immigrants) that were utterly amazed to learn you can get TV without cable or a dish.... ]

I refuse to pay for a TV.
With what cable charges for HD TV - an antenna will pay for itself quickly.
An even cheaper way is to not get TV at all.  We had a big dish.  It died over a year ago.  Our choice was a small dish, an antenna to get crapy signs from SF, 200 miles away or no TV.  We chose no TV.  Haven't missed it.  We do watch some videos and DVDs now and then.
Solar and Wind will not, they just will not provide as many watts as we could generate (for a while) with Nuclear and Coal, etc.

That's bull.  I have solar panels and its FAR cheaper than me building/running a coal or nuke plant.

When you consider the clean up costs of coal (CO2) and the clean up costs of fission, a solar panel is cheap.  So is a wind turbine.

How much did you spend on Cable last year?

$0.   Not worth it.

  I'm not trying to debunk my own earlier thread.  I'm Pro Solar and Wind, I just don't presume they will provide the kind of energy 'big gulp' that some feel is the promise of splitting the atom, and damn the magnetos.. damn the neutrinos,  damn the poor Greenos.. err,

It's a sippin' tea.  We'll have to have much more judicious expectations of our energy sources, and not insist on 'big power', praying that those ol' pipes don't burst.

Could be bull, but I don't think we'll produce such an excess as we've had with Oil and Nuclear.. I'm not even sure we'll have the energy available to do the Nuclear buildout that people are proposing.. that much more concrete, mining, refining, grid rebuilding..  it's a lot to put together, against a nice, steady diet of Grid/Interties and a broadly distributed generation scheme.

"Behold, the Hippopotamus!
We laugh at how he looks to us.
And yet, in moments dank and grim,
I wonder how we look to him?

"Peace, Peace thou, Hippopotamus.
We surely look alright, to us.
As you, no doubt, delight the eye
Of other Hippopotami!
            - Ogden Nash


Could be bull, but I don't think we'll produce such an excess as we've had with Oil and Nuclear..

Oil...yea hard to beat.   Nuclear?  Bah.   Fission is expensive on the creation side and ESP the de-comissioning side.   Your great great grandkids will have to be watching over nuke waste.   If Nuclear was such a win - why does it need things like Price Anderson?   Why the cost overruns?  Why the millions for clean-up?

Oil has made our energy expectations FAR too low.   The real expectation should be to live within the photons hitting the earth budget.  

jokuhl -

You are not alone in having a visceral opposition to nuclear power. In fact, among the so-called 'green' community it is close to being an article of religious dogma to be opposed to nukes. It just seems to scare the hell out of a lot of people.

Nuclear power does pose certain not-insignificant risks, but then again what manner of human enterprise does not?  If your objection is visceral, then you would probably not be pursuaded by the almost perfect safety record the Japanese and French have had with nuclear power. And apart from the Three Mile Island incident, the US also has a very good nuclear safety record.

In the debate over nuclear power the subject of Chernobyl often comes up. There is no argument that things can go very bad with a nuclear reactor if you really  mess up. But it must also be acknowledged that the Chernobyl power plant was a poor designed, poorly operated, and poorly maintained Soviet-era piece of crap. If it were a car, it'd be something like a high-mileage 1985 Yugo that was used as a taxi in Honduras.

If you really want to worry about dying of radiation poisoning, you would be better off worrying about a future global conflict over resources deliberately or accidently escalating into a nuclear war.  That, I think, is a far more legitimate worry.

I'm open to worrying about both.  I've got room for a lot of worrying, and I'm currently building more..

  1.  Our safety record.  Main Response is 'So Far, so good', or so I've heard through the MSM. We're 60 yrs in or so, and counting.  Beyond that, the equipment is getting old and material costs and energy costs for maintenance are going up.  Good thing we don't reward the low bidders, either.  Weather and water supply shouldn't be a factor, so what could possibly go wrong, and how bad would it be if it did?

  2.  "It just seems to scare the hell out of a lot of people."
So do bears, snakes, and snarling dogs.  Is it possible that we are afraid of something, not nothing?  

3.  I outlined a handful of weak links above.  The operating safety record is one, and one pretty well observed step in that process.  How long will we stay on-duty watching the waste?  How much will extraction and refining cost us in just 5 years, much less in 50?  How well will we be able to store, secure and transport that plutonium?

Like in that Jetplane, what are the downsides?  Is it worth it?


Nuclear power is to hand a waste liability onto the umpteenth future generation.

That's a heck of a risk, and an arrogance about our own civilisation and its survival.

All nuclear reactors are complex systems, 'tighly coupled'.  Complex systems fail, and fail catastrophically.  That is virtually a law of their operation.


pag 6-8 summarises the issues (no intended irony that this is NASA talking about catastrophic failure - before Columbia)


has quite a good piece on complex systems theory.

The political scientist Aaron Wildavsky suggested that because of this complexity and the nteract, adding safety devices and procedures will at some point actually decrease safety. The TMI accident offers a number of examples of how this works. The control room, for instance, had more than 600 alarm lights. Each one of them, considered by itself, added to safety because it reported when something was going wrong. But the overall effect in a serious accident was total confusion, as so many alarms went off that the mind could not easily grasp what was happening.

Charles Perrow, a sociologist at Yale, has taken this sort of reasoning one step further and argued that such complex, tightly interconnected technologies as nuclear power are, by their nature, unsafe. With so many components interacting, there are so many different ways an accident can happen that accidents are an inevitable feature of the technology-what Perrow calls "normal accidents." The technology cannot be made safe by adding extra safety systems, for that would only increase its complexity and create more ways that something could go wrong.

Perrow argues that a number of technologies besides nuclear power face the same inherently contradictory demands: chemical plants, space missions, genetic engineering, aircraft, nuclear weapons, and the military early warning system. For each, he says, accidents should be considered not as anomalies but a normal part of the process. Their frequency can be reduced by improved design, better training of personnel, and more efficient maintenance, but they will be with us always. Perrow goes on to suggest that society should weigh the costs of these normal accidents against the benefits of the technology. For chemical plants, the costs of accidents are relatively low and are usually bome by the chemical companies and its workers, while the cost of shutting down chemical plants would be rather high. There is nothing to replace them. But nuclear power is different, Perrow says. The costs of a major accident would be catastrophically high, while the cost of giving up nuclear power would be bearable. Other ways of generating electricity could take its place.

So far, of course, that hasn't happened. But what has happened is that the way people think about safety has changed, particularly in the nuclear industry, but in others as well. No one believes any longer that it is possible to engineer for complete safety, to determine the maximum credible accident and then assure that it won't threaten anyone. The best that can be done is to try to make dangerous accidents very unlikely.

So there you have it. A pretty cogent explanation of why a complex system will fail.

That is neglecting hazards like terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

So we have at the least, a flooded, contaminated containment vessel, and at worst, a major release of radioactivity.

The case for nuclear power is a simple one.  We are running out of time on Global Warming, and the alternative is gas (CO2) or more likely, coal.  Better that the Chinese should build nuclear plants than that they should build coal fired ones.

It's not a case about favourable economics.  I've argued elsewhere on this board that 8 cents/ KWhr is a realistic estimate of the cost of electricity from a nuclear fired station.  That is without including the full system cost of long term waste disposal, nor the subsidies granted by the Price Anderson Act, which provides the industry with insurance that no private entity would grant it.

Private markets will never finance nuclear power.  THose countries that have extensive nuclear industries have them because the utilities are allowed to pass the risk on construction costs and operations through to the customer.  There has to be a degree of implicit or explicit state subsidy-- in fact our privatised nuclear provider, British Energy, went broke when the pool price fell.

It might be 7 cent/ Kwhr but nuclear has never delivered the 'low cost' power that was promised.  By contrast, wind will come in somewhere between 5 and 8 (depending on location, offshore/onshore etc.), coal around 4 cents, gas around 4 (depending on fuel price).  And wind could be 20% of US or UK power consumption, but its hard to see wind being more than 30% say, and other renewables 10%.

Which doesn't mean nuclear is a non starter.  If we price Carbon emissions at $100+/ tonne, we start to get competitiveness for wind and nuclear over coal and gas.  $200/tonne and the advantage seems pretty decisive.

The MIT nuclear report more or less makes that clear, using a much lower gas price than prevails now.

It's a bargain with the devil, nuclear power.  But then so is Carbon Capture and Sequestration, that too creates a long term liability which may come back to haunt us.

In practice we'll need all these solutions, to get anywhere near the kind of CO2 emissions climate scientists are saying are necessary to save the planet.

You forgot to mention that the Chernobyl incident was NOT an accidnet of normal operation but an unauthorized experiment that went arwy.
I'm not sure how that changes anything. Unless of course you can guarantee that no humans will ever be foolish enough to try an unauthorized experiment again.
But such are inherent in tightly coupled complex systems.

The Valuejet crash was an explosion of a box of oxygen generators being shipped back to home back.  110 people disappeared into the Florida swamp.

The TWA crash was vaporised kerosene in an empty fuel tank, being sparked.  Over 200 people incinerated in one spectacular fireball.


I wonder if the Columbia accident seemed vaguely similar to the ValuJet crash you wrote about back in 1998. You called the ValuJet accident, which killed 110 people in Southern Florida, a "system" accident: an accident "born of the complex organizations with which we manage our dangerous technologies." Do you consider the Columbia accident to be a system accident as well?

Yes, I think it would be classified as a system accident. And the sign of that was the unusual breakdown in communication at the end, where Linda Ham never heard the request for visual imagery, and the engineers heard the denial of the request that was not intended for them, and assumed that it was for them... That part--the missing of the two ships in the fog--that's a real sign of a system accident. I mean, with the complexities of the communication paths within NASA, no one could have anticipated that particular failure route. And that magic ability of a failure to bypass safeguards and to find new routes to inflict catastrophe is one of the key characteristics of a complex system accident.

The 9-11 deaths were caused by a small, determined group of men bent on suicide, who bypassed all the complex safety systems of the US air traffic system including the FBI, the CIA, airport security, airline security procedures on plane, a crew on each plane of over 10 people, NORAD and the Cold War Air Defence system.

Chernobyl was symptomatic of complex engineering systems.  The absence of a proper passive containment vessel was the main flaw in the design.

In 'Revenge of Gaia', Lovelock proclaims that nuclear energy is the best, yet most maligned energy source we have due in large part to the combined fear of greens and anti-war/nuclear activists who grew up in the shadow of the Cold War. Moreover, that it is this collective fear that has has blinded us to the reality that radiation is not the problem - carbon dioxide is, at least as far as Gaia is concerned.

Each year, mankind is placing the tonnage equivalent of a CO2 mountain 12 miles in diameter and 1 mile high into the biosphere and at 500ppm, many scientists assert (from historical record) that the Earth's tipping point will be reached and Gaia will compensate accordingly as it has in the past.  

Said compensation will likely result in unimaginable and dramatic consequences for the biosphere, effectively making alternative such as wind farms and corn ethanol a disatrous waste of resources and time - the latter of which there is precious little left.

For Drummers who find Gaia hard to contemplate, I would highly recommend watching 'An Inconvenient Truth' if you haven't already.  There's a segment in the movie where Gore outlines how the Northern and Southern hemispheres regulate CO2 levels through alternating growth/dieoff phases of vegetation in concert with the Earth's tilting axis to the sun.

Pay close to attention to this phenomenon, then ask yourself if that's not Gaia breathing...


I agree with this.

Who and how many, in the last 5 years, have been harmed by civilian nuclear power?

Consider that 30,000 recently died in one year in a heat wave in Europe.  Suppose that global warming were 10% responsible (likely an underestimate).

What about drought in Africa or other places which leads to starvation and war?

Here is the reality of what is happening now:

  1. energy analysts: "Look, we will need more capacity"
  2. hard-core greens:  "Hey, look with all of this <insert theoretically nice aggressive conservation deployed universally> you wouldn't need more electrical plants".
  3. People do not conserve like that.
  4. hard core  people say, "well we can use solar"
  5. People install 0.001% of the amount of solar as is necessary
  6. Utilities talk about nuclear plants
  7. environmentalists go crazy
  8. Utilities talk about coal plants
  9. environmentalists get upset
  10. utilities build massive coal plants, as conservative bankers want rapid return on capital
  11. the planet goes crazy


Wind, solar and conservation are great; but not enough, especially with coming necessary re-electriciation of transportation.

In real reality, it is coal versus nuclear, and nuclear is much, much, better.

Well thank god we're talking about Real Reality.. finally!

It's those persnickety, so-called 'greens'..

every step in that list put the environmentalists right after, saying (rightly) 'No.  That's not good enough.'  But it's not like the Env. movement hasn't been offering alternatives, but they are ones that the energy-fat population was not ready to face.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Eat local, organic food.

Who has been making the warnings about Overfarming, Pesticides, Whaling, Pollution, CFC's, Endangered Species and Climate Change?

Environmentalists.  'Ya gotta love em!'

Brought to you by 'Don't blame the messenger.org'

I simply do not buy that Nuclear is 'Much, Much Better'. I think it's like the Auto deal that doesn't charge interest until next year.  Cool. We'll deal with it when I'm dead!

the Northern and Southern hemispheres regulate CO2 levels through alternating growth/dieoff phases of vegetation in concert with the Earth's tilting axis to the sun

That's not regulation of anything, that's simply the seasons of the year.

Pay close to attention to this phenomenon, then ask yourself if that's not Gaia breathing...

Call it that if you want, but it is no "proof" of any sort of integrated planetary being.  It is a simple consequence of most of the land areas being in the Northern Hemisphere.

If it's not regulation, than how do you explain glaciation?  Glaciation is not a season.  Seasons are the result of axial tilting.

And as for land area, the Northern Hemisphere has not always been the most land mass.

"blinded us to the reality that radiation is not the problem - carbon dioxide is, at least as far as Gaia is concerned." -Lovelock

'Gaia' is a human construct.. another way to understand earth, nature, what have you.  Is earth an intelligent, organic, living thing?  Sure, maybe, why not?  Are we?

For one, there is no "the" Problem.  There are many.  Some we will face today, and some we will overleverage, sweep under a rug, label as politically expedient, the only alternative, or 'not really that dangerous', at least if your not planning on any beach holidays near Dounreay this year..

No opponent of Nuclear is Blase' on CO2.. neither route is acceptable.  We need to use FAR less power, and produce it in ways that considers our kids, theirs, etc..

Actually one of the things Joseph Tainter says is that civilisations on the verge of failure become increasingly complex, and produce increasingly complex solutions (beyond their ability to manage).

I wonder if nuclear power fits into that model?

A little something I just caught on ex liberty lobby radio.

A judge who decided on BP cases is now the BP ombudsman.

And this link lists all kinds of goodies.

More mainstream.

Where is all the food going to go?

Well in a few days the ships will be loaded and food from half way around the world is going to show up at your doorstep.

The minerals that go in your computer, come from all over the world.  Australia is a big source for minerals, So is Africa, and as the people move off, or die off, the land can be claimed to fuel the Technology advances that will save us.

South America likely can totally feed itself, if they did not ship so much of it elsewhere by boat.

We say that we use 20 million barrels of Oil a day, but if we did not ship iceberg lettuce to New York and New York apples to LA how much of that Oil could we save?

How much does big Food Stores with a fresh produce counter Year around filled with Almost all the same things, make our Oil use go way up.  What is wrong with only having canned Apples in Jan to May?  Or no fresh Pumpkins in the summer?  We have been sold on the Idea that we have to have so many things, by the stores that could get them if we bought them that now we think we can't live without them.

Wooden boards and Concrete Blocks and bricks were some of the best shelves I had one year.  Not the built in Cherry Library shelves in the Den of the Model House down the Block.

There are just so many things we can be doing that we aren't doing. I have always liked the slogan Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  You don't have to live in a mole hole in the woods to reduce your footprint in this world, every positive step is helpful.

I think of myself as a Practicalist.  

Much lower speed limits would help enormously!
Wow, check out this BBC article:

Panel 'to urge Iraq policy shift'

How major?

The bipartisan task force, which was asked by the US Congress to examine the effectiveness of American policy in Iraq, has reportedly been looking at two options, both of which would amount to a reversal of the Bush administration's stance.

One is the phased withdrawal of US troops, the other is to invite Syria and Iran to come into Iraq to help stop the fighting.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em?

While this bipartisan task force is a step in the right direction,  I am very highly skeptical of Bush-Chaney-Rumsfeld heeding outside advice from anyone about anything. They haven't done so in the past, it is highly doubtful that they will do so in the future.

Even if this crowd admits to themselves that Iraq has been a total blunder of colossal proportions, they will probably want to put things into a de facto holding pattern so that a withdrawl from Iraq happens on the next president's watch, thus enabling the Bush regime to state that they had 'stayed the course' in the war on terror and that it was his successor that sold us down the river.

Hey, a few thousand more American deaths and a few more hundred billion dollars is a small price to pay for getting a president's place in history right.

What's interesting about this panel is that it's lead by James Baker, who is a buddy of Poppy Bush.  Is this Dad trying to tell his son to back down?  If so, Jr. may not do it just to spite the old man.
Either you misquoted the article or it has changed on the BBC website, but this is how it reads now:

"One is the phased withdrawal of US troops, and the other is to increase contact with Syria and Iran to help stop the fighting in Iraq."

Your bolded part, suggesting that Iraq & Syria would enter Iraq, is most definately missing.

Then they changed it.  I copied and pasted that section.  I added the bolding, but the text was copied and pasted from the article.
I was listening to BBC radio this morning, and heard what Leanan copied and pasted.  I wouldn't have noticed it but it  sounded so outlandish I woke up a bit more and took notice.


I know how everyone loves to read anything about Ghawar =)

Water and oil don't mix Published on: Tuesday, 17th October, 2006

Fears that the massive Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia may have passed its prime have been the stuff of speculation for many years. Ghawar has underpinned Saudi Arabia's dominance of the oil market ever since it came on stream in 1951. With its ability to pump out some five million barrels per day on average, more than half of Saudi Aramco's total of 9.1 million barrels per day, the slow death of Ghawar may help to ensure that the low oil prices of the 1980s are but a dream for the average consumer.

Don Coxe, an analyst from the Bank of Montreal, once described Ghawar as having passed "Hubbert's Peak", a phrase used in honour of geologist M King Hubbert, who predicted oil field decline in the 1950s. The best indication of this is the steadily increased usage of water injection in the wells. Water injection is normally used on older oilfields to maintain pressure within the well and force out more oil. The problem is, once the water reaches the well head, the field has to be abandoned. Many are now pondering the connection between Saudi production and increasing water usage. As Coxe puts it, "Isn't water flooding [the] Viagra of ageing wells?"

However, the problem for the Ghawar field may go deeper. Matthew Simmons, an advisor on energy policy for the Bush administration, has speculated that the over-exploitation of the field in the past has caused damage to its geological structure. Large amounts of oil may now have become unreachable with present oil extraction technology. The Saudis contest this, saying that only 48 per cent of the Ghawar's fields had been used by 2004, with the use of water injection falling thanks to the use of more advanced drilling techniques. More technical information on the field is generally not released, and much speculation still surrounds the actual state of the field.

So, what does this mean for the market? Saudi Arabia acted as the "central bank" of oil. Whenever the oil market needed to be stabilised, or when extra production was called for, Saudi Arabia was always there to assist. Most members of OPEC were famous for their wild disregard of production agreements, and it was only thanks to Saudi over-capacity that the organisation could demand any sort of respect. Without the central bank to keep them in line, the ability of OPEC to stabilise oil prices - indeed its entire viability as an organisation - is put in doubt. With the price of oil now falling, it appears that many of the OPEC members are once again not being as good as their word when it comes to production cuts.

However, the Saudi ability in the past to act as a central banker in the short term appears to have damaged the long-term future of Ghawar. When looking back, the Saudis have been asked to up production on many occasions, especially to make up for the loss of Iraqi oil. And Ghawar oil is the light grade that refiners love. Most of the new fields coming on stream in Saudi Arabia are producing heavy, sulphurous oil that is harder to refine, and which trades at a discount.

Low oil prices in the past were underpinned by large amounts of easy to extract and refine oil, and this is what Ghawar was famous for. As the stock of this oil declines, lower grades of oil that are more expensive to produce and refine are being brought on stream. It is not as if the world will run out of hydrocarbons any time soon - it won't. But the price we will pay for oil does have a certain number of price floors within it that over the medium term will reflect the rising real costs for energy.

Apologies, I see this was posted at the top =/


I know you internet geeks might like this one....


US full of Internet addicts: study
Oct 17 2:02 PM US/Eastern

The United States could be rife with Internet addicts as clinically ill as alcoholics, an unprecedented study released suggested.
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in Silicon Valley said their telephone survey indicated more than one of every eight US residents showed at least one sign of "problematic Internet use."

The findings backed those of previous, less rigorous studies, according to Stanford.

Most disturbing was the discovery that some people hid their Internet surfing, or went online to cure foul moods in ways that mirrored alcoholics using booze, according to the study's lead author, Elias Aboujaoude.

"In a sense, they're using the Internet to self-medicate," Aboujaoude said. "And obviously something is wrong when people go out of their way to hide their Internet activity."

According to preliminary research, the typical Internet addict was a single, college-educated, white male in his 30s, who spends approximately 30 hours a week on non-essential computer use.

So how many 30 sumthing white guys are around here?  

No way, man, I'm not addicted - now get away from my keyboard and give me just a few more minutes on-line...
Some people talk to "self-medicate" bad moods - psychiatrists tend to encourage this.

Others listen to music.

Others read books.

That doesn't mean they're addicted.  Nor does hiding their heavy-metal or romance novel habit mean the same thing that hiding a needle does.

I think this is a big problem. I heard about people "dropping out" of society to play Warcraft on the radio. I thought, "WTF are they talking about?" Then I found this via digg. Pretty scary stuff:


I browsed part of the above mentioned article.

I know several people who are Female who are really really into playing online computer games.  I married one of them, and have dated several others, and call a lot more "online friends" (Hey I might even consider some of you online friends).  I have read that a lot more adults are playing the Online games than most people think.  Runescape the only one I now play, I have played others, has over 800,000 users world wide.  Whole families play in the evenings, go out and have family time around the interactive game.  

I used to play a game called Tibia,  I was in a high lvl guild, WAS on a council that met outside the game world to talk about game politics and trying to stop in game wars and killings from going on, Players lost items and skill levels if they died in the game.  I realized I was never going to have any fun at that game ever again, and quit.  I go to have fun and relax, or veg, zone out, phase out, and I usually write in a Word or notepad window thoughts and poems while I zone out.   Gee is that so bad?  Am I mental?  ( don't answer that, OF course I am a Peak Oiler).

Time On their hands does not mean the same thing to every one.  Look how many people watch TV shows?  Duh!  Do we call them Addicted and in need of Mental Help?  What about guys that can't get through a Weekend without Knowing the exact plays their Team made?  

Face it folks the computer is a bit more interactive than the TV, In some ways the best of a good book, and a Movie and a walk through theme park without getting wet at that waterfall ride, or getting killed by the Dino.

We started talking about the TEEN that paid for 2 and maybe 3 people's college costs by playing online games with real world economies.  The Internet gaming programs were being written as soon as people started thinking about how they could talk to others over the IRC and Usenet and all those other GOV'T funded programs for computer Networks.   Chess, and poker being the first games, then whiz Bang and Warcraft.

I admit I have an addictive personality.

But the computer, or book, or beer has usually only been consumed while not driving.

Pretty spot on - I recognised several of the situations mentioned, from my time attempting to lead alliances in Lineage II and Eve Online.  Leadership in particular leads to burnout very, very often, particularly in more social games - I was trying to make decisions for perhaps a thousand people in each of the above (though I tend to dislike being figurehead, the position below that can be interesting).  The convergence of friendships, responsibility and politics in the larger games breeds an intensity that you don't often find in life.    World of Warcraft has perfected the grind-based Player vs Environment model that Everquest created, but the player-driven objective-based Player vs Player model can have a lot stronger draw, as the endgame isn't just spending weeks doing repetitive tasks, but competing directly with human opponents.

For example: I've listened to the three hour crying goodbye speech from a Hong Kong commodities trader in Lineage II who lost his girlfriend and tens of millions of dollars because of his addiction (given at a meeting of 200 of his followers).  I've then spent a week trying to pick his successor, and find someone with the charisma, organizational skill, popularity, political intelligence, and time commitment that can replace him (no matter if it was someone from the opposite side of server politics).  His primary lament as he left wasn't even that he'd wrecked his life, it was that he'd wrecked his alliance in a political misadventure (a preemptive backstab gone wrong), and that him leaving was the only way to save face (it didn't). The urge to preserve a legacy - of all your friends playing together as a powerful unit, of the name you chose surviving and prospering - is a strong one (which makes it a major life decision for leaders to quit), and it's rare that a personality-driven group can survive the inevitable loss of that personality to stress, job/spouse loss, different living arrangements, or even in one case the healing of vertebrae that caused paraplegia (which allowed one leader to justify spending 16 hours a day coordinating a thousand people into the most powerful organization on the server for 3 years).

This convergence of qualities that makes a great leader is quite rare, and I have full confidence that at the top of most long-life prominent MMORPG alliances lies someone who could lead a country if it was required of them.  And probably will lead something else in the future.


The difference is that leading a country, a platoon, a corporation, or a pro sports team is socially acceptable, well rewarded in the Real World, while they are called freaks for leading something that has just as much relation to actually making someone else's physical life better as, say, financial derivatives trading does.

It's not something we should necessarily be afraid of, it's just something else one can succeed at by obsessively devoting their life to it and shunning all distractions - but there are more than enough of those now.  A model to provide sustainable concrete real life rewards for social success in the gameworld hasn't yet been perfected, but trust me, it's inevitable by numbers alone.  WoW was the gateway drug for a huge number, but those users will seek out other games when they tire of it.  Whether it will be a fundamentally different economic system, as many in the cyberpunk movement of science fiction seem to think(gift-based, reputation-based, and AI-controlled command-based are the three main candidates), is up for debate.

This convergence of qualities that makes a great leader is quite rare, and I have full confidence that at the top of most long-life prominent MMORPG alliances lies someone who could lead a country if it was required of them.  And probably will lead something else in the future.

You got me thinking.

We have been talking about data mining blogs for the Gov't haters around 9/11 yesterday or the other day now (as it is only 4 hours till I have been up for 24 hrs total).  Why can't they or anyone else for that matter be data mining for Leaders hidden in the masses?

You say it later in the last of your post, Just a matter of time till the goals of real life get transfered to Game life.  Check Out WindArt,  I posted about it yesterday.  There is a link,  hunts......nope can't find it in my favorite's listing.  I think it is Entropia Universe, they take real world economics into the online world.

I see some of myself in your post, through a different avenue.  Runescape is a cool game, don't have to do anything but follow a few rules set by the makers and off you go, you never have to deal with another soul again. Or you can immerse yourself in the whole new world and RPG to the max,  PvP, jump on any of 120 or so servers, free or member(paid, 5.00 to about 8.50 USD depending on how you have to pay),Interact with any of the 50,000 to 200,000 players online, Quests give you more skills to work with, and items to use, Clans get you help in the Wild (PvP area), Mini-games inside the game that have skill point rewards to just being a fun thing to do.  Random Events out of D & D to weed out Macro-hack programs, and heavy public and private censorship of what others see you type.  A friend's name is Stared out in the middle and I can not figure out why.  Shecatshera, the cat in the middle looks like this now She+++shera, odd censors they use I guess.  Anyway pretty cool game.  It does not that the heavy overtones that WoW and others have.  If you play it*runescape* to much it is really your own fault IMHO.  Waves hand. I have. In the last 5 days I have played about 3 to 8 hours at the max. I have played longer than 30 hours in a week,( I got the member account the day my wife left) , I played about 3 hours a day for a while, then when I lost my job to Budget-Cuts in the Bush Administration, I started playing 5 to 12 hours a day, but that was with loss of my whole world as I knew it, The game never caused it. Today I have been doing other things a lot more, as well as this week.  

I play me, I don't role play me, I just am.  If I want to Role play I go to the stage and read for a part, Or I get with some friends and we have a few hours of D & D, Or I write on one of my fiction projects.  

But I notice that I am name based,  the legacy of the name I picked has to be honorable, I treat other players that I interact with about like I treat most of you here at TOD.

I wonder if the online games are going to have much of a long life?  We are getting close to Peak Oil, if not already there.  We are doing some pretty odd things to the world around us, and some on here don't see a rosy future for us.  Where will the Online games, or the Online Blogs like TOD be in 10, 20 years?

Oh,  think about this, 70+ days of game play in one real year is only 4.6 hours+ per day playing the game.  He could sit in a car for 2 hours going and coming from work, or be sleeping or watching tv, or reading a book, or watching a movie or a host of other things all alone.  Or he could spend the time playing an interactive game.

Oh one other thought.  He could spend it on TOD every day reading our posts and ,, um  Looking back on today, some of us have myself included. Sighs, oh well you are are right.  

I live a scary life.   LMAO!

Okay I need a delete button.. Naw, ok. Feels Like OilCeo today, grin.

World of Warcraft is not the kind of game that I play.  Runescape is a one person game to relax in I answer only to myself and to NO ONE else.  It is more like an on my PC type of game than most, but you get to chat and be near online and real world friends. I talk to my second ex-wife a lot online while in Runescape, we do things online together ( shhhhh don't tell my new girl sally ).  I have helped my brother and his wife and Amanda (my 2nd wive's daughter my brother and his wife have guardianship over) around in the game either while we are all on computers in their house, or while I was elsewhere.  It is a more friendly non-competition type game.

 Tibia sounds a bit like WoW, but not really that much, Tibia was Player verses Game and Player verses Player everywhere.  Runescape is Player v. Game, or Player v. Player in areas.  I never play P v. P.

Blizzard made a good drug.  They get people to buy it and come back for more.  

But it does also speak about those people that play.  Why do people use drugs?  To escape, to fit in, because the body now needs it or it hurts in some way, and I am sure several other reasons I should know about.  As I said I have an addictive streak.  

But if they are playing online games, and still playing with the kids and going to the parties and seeing friends in the real world and being active, then everything is okay.

My second wife wrote code for her MUD, Text based only.  

It's when the action, takes you away from the world that it becomes a problem, and NOT ALL games online are like World of Warcraft.

++ sarcasim/
If it gets really bad, let me know, we will get a letter writing campaign going and have Congress do something about it.
++ EoS

Just another Peak Everything problem to deal with.

Oh and wait remember that some of us read about our addiction in the ONLINE world.

I am 40 something, but was online as a teen to the now 40 something.

I wonder what they are going to do with this new study, They have been hinting that the Congress does need to step in and Regulate the Internet and the IRS has worried for decades that they are loosing millions of Dollars of possible TAX money from transactions online.

IF we all need to be treated for our new found addiction, we can be cured with new regulations to limit our use of this oh so addictive new drug.

One does wonder where they will strike next?

Fictional thought----

 Bobby has been acting so strange Dr. Carl, he just lies around and never seems to want to do anything.  We want you to check him out and see if you can find out what is wrong with him.

 Mrs. Banks I think we solved the problem.  His Brain Interface was offline and was not getting the Trans-Habit feed from the Rep-Dem Congressional Sat, he will be his old self in about 3 hours.

 Thank you Dr. Carl, we will love to get our son back in the Nuclear plant again.

End of Fictional thought----------

I S   T H E R E   R O O M   F O R   T H E   S O U L ?

New challenges to our most cherished beliefs about self and the human spirit

I have just visited the office of Terry Sejnowski, the director of Salk's Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, whose recent research suggests that our conscious minds play less of a role in making decisions than many people have long assumed.

"The dopamine neurons are responsible for telling the rest of the brain what stimuli to pay attention to," Sejnowski says, referring to the cluster of brain cells that produce one of the many chemical elixirs that activate, deactivate, or otherwise alter our mental state. In a deeper way, he explains, evolutionary factors-the need for individual organisms to survive, find food or a mate, and avoid predators-are at work behind the mechanisms of unconscious decision making.

"Consciousness explains things that have already been decided for you," Sejnowski says. Asked whether that means that consciousness is only a bit player in the overarching drama of our lives, he admits that it's hard to separate rationalizing from decision making. "But," he adds, "we might overrate the role of our consciousness in making decisions."

Overrated or underrated, consciousness is not being ignored these days. Indeed, during the past 20 years or so it has become the focus of an expanding intellectual industry involving the combined, but not always harmonious, efforts of neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, artificial intelligence specialists, physicists, and philosophers.

But what, exactly, has this effort accomplished? Has it brought us any closer to understanding how the physical brain is related to the thinking, experiencing, self-aware mind? Is the scientific study of consciousness approaching its own Copernican moment, when the fruits of experimental work yield a compelling, comprehensive theory?

"research suggests that our conscious minds play less of a role in making decisions than many people have long assumed."

Funny statement. Buddhists recognized a very long time ago that our consciuos mind didn't have a whole lot to do with what is going on, though it sure likes to try to convince us that it does. Interesting part is that they didn't then try to "replace" that control with some materialist version.

Thanks for posting this link.  It's a long article, 9 pages.  (I noted that "Darwin" was mentioned no less than 3 times.)  Particle studies relating to an observer, memory in human cells when separated by test tubes rooms apart, and Galin's studies related to Buddhism all hope to help solve the mysteries.   There is so much we do not know.
Hello TODers,

The future always belongs to the healthy young.  In celebration of the US breaking the 300 million people threshold of Overshoot, I feel it is only fair to speculate on population curve matching to the Hubbert Downslope.

An obese, Cheez-Doodled crowd of .3 billion packed onto a roller-coaster, perched at the nose-bleed height afforded by the FFs, is guaranteed to pickup sufficient velocity to come wildly off the tracks in spectacular fashion.  Such is life, and as others have suggested: grab a seat, strap your safety belt on, and hoist a few cold brews as we rapidly propel ourselves obliviously into our Abyss of Olduvai Gorge.  IMO, the maximum excitement will occur in the coming high-speed derailment in the Tunnel of Darkness, but this is only logically following optimal design of a true E#-ticket ride.  Detritovores, in their ceaseless search for dopamine, would have it no other way.

E#-->extinction level event!!!

When Peakoil kicks in with a vengeance I think we will see a rapid acceptance of elevating deathrates.  From this link:
There are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 7% of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million have been diagnosed, unfortunately, 6.2 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware that they have the disease.

The total annual economic cost of diabetes in 2002 was estimated to be $132 billion, or one out of every 10 health care dollars spent in the United States.
Obviously, the ### & $$$ is much higher now as Kunstler postulates that America's primary energy-burn circulation is from the fast fried-food drive-thru to the heart surgeon's operating table.  Insulin injections merely turbocharges the perpetuation of this process, as do most other unsustainable medical detritus proceedures.  From this link:
In fact, the Bush administration warned this year that the rate of diabetes is increasing so rapidly that by 2020, one-third of American children would have type 2 diabetes, if nothing were done.
Obviously, this will seriously impact the 60-75% workplace shift to relocalized permaculture.  But children will always prefer the detritus thrills of a 'Magic Mountain' roller coaster to the biosolar skills of planting and weeding.  We are genetically perfected to seek the instantaneous dopamine rush vs the slow-burn of a daily laborious sweat.  

The Grim Reaper has always been optimized for peak efficiency; his incredibly sharp Scythe seeks the weakest first.  From the above link again:
Based on death certificate data, diabetes contributed to 224,092 deaths in 2002. Studies indicate that diabetes in generally under-reported on death certificates, particularly in the cases of older persons with multiples chronic conditions such as heart disease and hypertension. Because of this, the toll of diabetes is believed to be much higher than officially reported.
The advancement of medical techniques has given many humans a limited mobility to partially evade the Swinging Blade.  From this link:
Amputation is an acquired condition that results in the loss of a limb, usually from injury, disease, or surgery. Congenital (present at birth) limb deficiency occurs when an infant is born without part or all of a limb. In the US, 82 percent of amputations are due to vascular disease, 22 percent to trauma, 4 percent are congenital, and 4 percent are due to tumors. About 1.2 million individuals in the US are living with an amputation, with 185,000 performed each year.
Due to our improper lack of environmental and societal stewardship resulting in widespread pollution of our planet and bodies: these amputation numbers will surely rise just as our detritus-fueled medical techniques decline.

Millions of Americans taking to badly pot-holed roads on bicycles, and/or riding on motorized two-wheel rides with ever-increasing road rage from the last caged drivers will result in an incredible buzzsaw of surgical activity.  Combined with a scapegoating desire to induce the ever-popular Resource War and massive neighborhood Hutu-Tutsi's 'Dance of the Machete': many can look forward to limb removal under Civil War medical conditions.

Thus our children's current screams of delight will be rapidly replaced with blood-curdling screams of terror and pain.  It will be a very difficult time to be a parent in postPeak America: Land of the Brave Amputee, Home of the Free to Hobble.   300 million Americans, or more, in a postPeak mosh-pit, with the Grim Reaper as the featured dance partner, will absolutely peg to the floorboard the Limbic System resulting in a dramatic increase of peglegs and prosthetic hooks [and these will be the lucky ones!].  

All parental efforts should be focused now on getting on our children healthy, fit, and limber-- so they won't have to strap on timber.  PostPeak, plastic prostheses will be 'unobtanium', and any conveniently sized firewood will be in very high demand--hard to stand on 1 & 1/2 legs.  The quick 'whittling away' of the JIT medical delivery of insulin, heart medications, oxygen tank supplies, asthma inhalers, pain & psychic-numbing medications, etc will cause a rapid spike to be driven deep into the national deathrate.  Sufficient gravitas now can prevent many mass graves later.

The postPeak collapse of the infinite growth paradigm and with it the Ponzi scheme of pensions, Social Security, and 401Ks will force a heart-breaking calculus upon the American Family.  Will they elderly [who vote in great numbers], choose to vote for a politician with a detritus promise at the cost of their grandchildren, in order to enjoy some measure of luxury in their last days?  Or will they powerdown their desire to vote a biosolar politician?

Or have the elite topdogs already gamed the system to rapidly pop the 'Boomer Bubble' in record time?  I, myself at age 51, am a trailing end Boomer, possibly already precariously perched as a canary and about to be 'plucked and chucked' into an early fast fall with no feathers to slow my descent.  This would only be in keeping with the harmonius pop. curve matching to the Hubbert Downslope.  An optimal Bottleneck Squeeze should strive to reduce older, weak detritovores ASAP so that young biosolars have the maximum opportunity to choose the best lifeboat seating.

So, in closing, 300 million caught up in Mathusian Math with only limited fresh water and 57 days of grain supplies are just about to start the big Rollover.  Depletion will determine the 'tough breaks' unless we can summon the will and determination to apply the 'brakes' and give our kids more time.  Time will tell.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Wow, you've been in top form the last few days.

I nominate you to lead our Foundation effort to recruit a software team capable of creating a post-peak psycho-history on a state of the art supercomputer.  This project should take into account the conflciting and complex, post-peak pyschological reactions (as you outlined yesterday) we will experience as first our savings, transportation, and then even food and water vanish.  

Any suggestions to how we shorten the chaotic energy -starved interregnum will also be greatly appreciated.

Keep in mind, that wheat stocks have dropped in six of the last seven years, and with drought spreading around the world, we don't have much time to launch the project.




Hello Charles Mackay and Roel,

Thxs for responding.  A key concept of Asimov's Foundation was the ability to fly just under the radar the public awareness; to possess full spectrum awareness of impending predictive collapse, yet constantly altering the prizmatic frequency of force application capabilities of perturbational directed decline to escape public detection and the rise of impinging countervailing forces.  Obviously, easier said than done.

My now ancient posting on the "Porridge Principle of Metered Decline in Iraq" was a crude attempt at explaining how this could be done in a specific locale.  I really have no idea on what is the topdog 'interregnum' time-line, but I suspect it strongly correlates to a fluid, but constantly re-calculated maximum export/decreasing population ratio.  Obviously, other countries' effects upon Iraq, and vice versa, quickly create too many variables for my mind to keep track off.

The same goes for the postPeak US: overall decline seems obviously predicted by detritus entropy, but controlling the details to optimally foreshorten the violent period, yet maximizing biosolar powerup would be quite daunting.

The spectrum of possibilities is tremendously large--thus the need for extensive supercomputer modeling and feedback loops.  Demand destruction will obviously create a constantly shrinking residual of detritovores, and a ever-growing # of biosolars, but there is bound to be some combined synthesis to promote the paradigm transition.

For example: hypothetically, a time could arise where the Bush daughters could have a "Richard Rainwater mindset change" and suddenly youngsters TODers Tate423 and AMPOD, if sufficiently qualified as skilled biosolars, could be premium suitors in these girls' eyes.  AMPOD & Tate could suddenly find themselves having sufficient detritus wealth to jumpstart tremendous biosolar survival habitats.  I don't know Oil CEO's age, but maybe Paris Hilton at some future point will have the same Richard Rainwater-style change of heart.

Thus, the calculations would have to include the millions of people shifting their detritus assets into real biosolar assets or lifeboats.  Sadly, the calcs would also have to account for the timing and #'s of those removed from the genetic pool.  It seems quite initially messy, but massive logistic change might be almost as predictable as helium gases exiting a ballon because known forces are quantifiable.  Thus, a deep understanding of MPP, Liebig's Law, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, and hundreds of other Thermo-Gene Constraints, when cranked into a supercomputer and further controlled by constant political machinations: IMO, offers a modicum of decline control.

Just more speculation of course.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

This entire subject is well beyond the attention span of even most informed Americans, which by necessity, may require any serious effort to be kept under the radar.  

Somewhat coincidently, the Bush family lead by Jenna Bush has recently high jacked a real Foundation, previously organized to help the poor of Central America, but has now taken over one of the largest and last remaining unpolluted aquifers in the world in Paraguay.  Clearly the Bush family sees a need for a viable `Foundation'.  

How do I sign up for the Bush's Foundation, Rainwater's, or Gate's, until the common biosolars can collectively organize their own Foundation?

Thanks for your response,


Incredible text TontoBob.

To me its all very simple.

Gratification delayed or not.

One (survivalist type) says "First I will do the work and then take a rest and observe what I have accomplished."

Another (a modern youth) says "I want gratification NOW and piss on the rest."

The 'I want it now' crowd has created what we now observe as CrunchTime(The Olduvai Gorge) comes home.

The 'work first,complete first' crowd has built what is now being destroyed by the other group.

Love your writings man.

airdale-- Now back to replacing those CV boot joints.


Nice going and true tales.

If anything, your numbers are way low, and certainly when you divide them by state or region. 7% diabetics? Up to 50% of adults and 30% of kids are obese, not just overweight, and that is one mere heavy stumble away from insuline addiction.

"We are raising a generation of blind amputees:, as someone put it.

Never mind the burning of artificial limbs, without medcal care and drugs, the end comes quick and painful.

Two articles about the aircraft carrier Eisenhower steaming towards the Middle East, one, a factual tour diary from Stars and Stripes, the other, a bit speculative, but food for thought.

En route to the Middle East, 'Ike' makes a call in Naples

Bush's Nuclear Apocalypse

Ref: the closure of Hinkley Point B.

Damn, thats my local nuke.  There goes all hope of me telling folk that my electric heating system is enviro friendly as it is now effectively natural gas powered.

At night on full output Hinkley Point B could provide heating for the entire region, without any emissions.

Oh, well, maybe we'll get a nice shiny new one soon.