DrumBeat: October 30, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 10/30/06 at 9:21 AM EDT]

Clinton Shills For Bad Energy Policy

Here's a clue for the semi-retired former president and policy wonk: Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva didn't celebrate the oil independence milestone out in an Amazon sugar field.

No, he smashed a champagne bottle on the spaceship-like deck of Brazil's vast P-50 oil rig in the Albacora Leste field in the deep blue Atlantic. Why? Brazil's oil independence had virtually nothing to do with its ethanol development. It came from drilling oil.

US biofuel subsidies questioned

"Under optimistic projections, it costs some $500 in federal and state subsidies to reduce one metric tonne of CO2-equivalent through the production and use of corn-based ethanol. That same amount of money could purchase more than 30 tonnes of CO2-equivalent offsets on the European Climate Exchange, or nearly 140 metric tonnes on the Chicago Climate Exchange," says the report's author, Doug Koplow.

Vinod Khosla: Part 3 - Don't Let the Big Oil Money Confuse You on Prop 87

E3 BioFuels to Launch First Closed-Loop Ethanol Plant in Mead, Nebraska

Dennis Langley, Chairman and CEO of E3 BioFuels, announces the Genesis plant will begin production in December 2006 at Mead, Nebraska, as the first-ever closed-loop system for distilling commercial quantities of ethanol using methane gas recaptured from cow manure, instead of fossil fuels. This virtually eliminates the need for fossil fuels in the production of ethanol.

Budgets Falling in Race to Fight Global Warming

In the private sector, studies show that energy companies have a long tradition of eschewing long-term technology quests because of the lack of short-term payoffs.

Still, more than four dozen scientists, economists, engineers and entrepreneurs interviewed by The New York Times said that unless the search for abundant non-polluting energy sources and systems became far more aggressive, the world would probably face dangerous warming and international strife as nations with growing energy demands compete for increasingly inadequate resources.

Most of these experts also say existing energy alternatives and improvements in energy efficiency are simply not enough.

Sceptics scorn climate report prediction of global chaos

Airlines fear brunt of penalties

Climate research center's oversight up for bidding

China Makes Friends in the Gulf: Quietly adroit diplomatic moves shore up China’s energy needs.

Egypt turns to Russia, China over nuclear energy

CAIRO -- Following a 20-year freeze, Egypt has turned to China and Russia for help in relaunching its civil nuclear program, a move that risks ruffling the feathers of its American ally, analysts say.

Gas-Hungry Europe Looks North to Norway

Faced with rising demand for energy and keen to reduce their dependency on Russian gas supplies, European countries are eyeing Norway's natural gas, available to the continent through a burgeoning web of pipelines.

Mexican Oil Experts and Heirs Address the Future

The face of anti-globalization in the energy sector in Mexico has reappeared in public statements by two prominent Mexican personages, former Pemex CEO Adrián Lajous and three-time Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) presidential candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas.

U.S. Official Criticizes Russia-Germany Gas Pipeline

Germany’s big gas pipeline deal with Russia has been criticized by a U.S. official, in a sign of Washington’s mounting unease about Berlin’s ties with Moscow. Matthew Bryza, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for the Caucasus and southern Europe, indicated that the Baltic Sea pipeline would deepen Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

Nigerian villagers vacate two of four oil stations

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) - Villagers in Nigeria's southern Rivers state have vacated two of four oil pumping stations they were occupying in a dispute with oil companies, a local community leader said on Monday.

In a separate incident, a source at Italian oil firm Agip, owned by oil and gas group Eni said community youths in neighboring Bayelsa state had invaded an oil pumping station at Clough Creek on Saturday night and were occupying it in a dispute with the company.

The Headline that Did Not Happen and the One that Did

In a world of no excess capacity in oil production and with a true equilibrium between supply and demand, headlines have had the day. Volatility should be expected in a margin business where one half of one percent of over or under supply, real or speculated, has caused even in more “normal” times a $5 to $10 swing in the price. Witness the oil price collapse of 1999 because of the Asian flu or the persistent $70 plus prices because of the ongoing Middle East wars.

But in just a couple of recent weeks, a headline that did not happen and a headline that did pushed the price of crude oil down from a high of over $75 to $60, a 20 percent reduction and a five-month low.

Available Now From Transition Culture - Energy Descent Pathways

It explores the possible synthesis of ideas and approaches that might underpin community-led responses to peak oil. It looks at possible links between addiction and our relationship to oil, as well as evaluating the range of scenarios put forward as to what might happen beyond the peak.

The Oil Crisis Started 30 Years Ago

It is customary to look for the critical year of oil production in absolute terms, but in the year 1970 or thereabouts there was another important "conjunction," to use an astrological metaphor. Global production will peak at some point in the early 21st century; it may have already done so, although the mendacious accounts of remaining reserves make exact dates impossible to determine precisely. Nevertheless, in many senses it is not 2005 or 2010 that is the critical date, but rather the early 1970s.

Wind power's payoff in Denmark

It's a global leader in the technology, and turbines are a common sight, but criticism and challenges persist.

How much wind power is too much?

Warren Frost, vice-president for operations and reliability at the Alberta Electric System Operator, said studies done over the past couple of years showed there can be problems when wind contributes more than about 10 per cent of the province's electricity — about 900 MW — because of the chance the wind could stop at any time.

Iran, Qatar Raise Natural Gas Output, Producing More Condensate

Iran, Qatar and Australia are increasing production of natural gas, raising supply of condensate, a by-product valued because of its suitability as a raw material to be processed into fuels.

OPEC may seek new step if oil stocks rise: Iran

TEHERAN - A senior Iranian oil official said on Sunday OPEC would need to consider a new step if a recently agreed production cut did not stem the rise in world crude stocks, according to the Oil Ministry’s official Web site.

Opec action considered key to oil outlook

Abu Dhabi: Opec's actions and price aspirations will be key to the price outlook for crude oil, says the latest report from Standard Chartered Bank.

It said that supplies are improving and demand growth has eased although it is still firm.

Exxon Mobil chief keeps hunting for more oil, lower costs and higher profits

Slow Food movement has global outreach

The Stern report on climate change economics - website
Climate change might affect GDP up to 20% if not tackled now.
http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/Independent_Reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_change/sternreview_ index.cfm

30 October 2006

Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change
Publication of the Stern Review's final report

Report highlights

I watched the news conference with Tony and Gordon. I get the feeling that there will be many new taxes in the budget, and quite a few new laws in the queen's speech.

However, at no time did they give me the feeling that they had any way to make US, China, and India deal with their CO2 production and signup to a 'framework agreement'. Without this, it's all for naught.

When US CO2 production is so far above everyone else, and China and India are increasing their production so fast the key question is to deal with the tentpoles first, not play around with carbon trading and deforestation.

China, India and the US (and all key countries) are signed up to the "Framework Convention" on Climate Change (UNFCCC, see Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNFCCC), which affirms that climate change must be addressed; China and India are also signed onto the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC which addresses targets for emissions reductions; China and India do not have obligations under the Kyoto Protocol to make reductions, as this was the result that was negotiated in at the Kyoto Climate Conference.
China and India do not have obligations under the Kyoto Protocol to make reductions

Which is where it all becomes a joke.

Fairness be damned, what's needed is a statement "no growth in CO2, you're not making it worse because you didn't before". Otherwise all that happens is polluting industry migrates and overall CO2 production continues to rise.

There is a need for a credible route to
a) making substantial cuts in US CO2 production
b) a quick stop in India & China CO2 growth

otherwise what is the point in anyone else trying?

Well if the developed world was willing to reduce their GHG per capita emmssions to the global average we might have a chance to address this issue.  As it stands, the Chinese farmer who buys his first refrigerator is not the problem.  The problem is the Canadian who likes to wear shorts inside when it is -30 below.
Hey, I agree with all you guys. If every nation on earth pulled together, we could reduce greenhouse emissions. Something desperately needs to be done. And something could be done, if, only if....

And this is the very sad part.

Nothing will be done. Does anyone in their right mind believe the world will suddenly change its way of living because the threat of a warmer world several years, or decades, in the future. I have stated this fact at least one hundred times, people do not respond to dire warnings of coming catastrophies. In fact, people, in general, do not respond to arguments of any kind. They only respond only to events.

For every argument, no matter what the facts and logic behind it, there will always be someone making a counter-argument. People, again, in general, will then believe the argument that offers them the best possible outcome.

When the dramatic results of global warming start to be felt by the nations of the earth, then the tide will start to turn, people will clamor for something to be done. Most of them will ask; "why wasn't something done years ago?"

Well, I just told you why nothing was done years ago, and why nothing will be done until it is way too late.

People prefer to believe what they prefer to be true.
Francis Bacon

A very few people look at all arguments and pick the one most logical. Emotion however, is so much stronger than reason. The vast majority of people look at the argument that makes them feel good and safe. All other arguments will then be discounted, without examination, as foolishness. And they will always believe that they are picking the most resonable argument.

Ron Patterson

What you miss is that we have central authorities (governments) which at least are supposed to take care of the "common good". Which by definition should be beyond the defficiencies of individual reasoning.

IMO the outcome of the next decades really depends on how effective is our government and whether there will be real leadership to handle this issue. Don't hold your breath though...

In Uk at present we have the two main opposition parties both showing off Green credentials - the conservatives to whom this is new and has resulted in scepticism - and the Liberal Dems who have have long been Green, safe in the knowledge that they have been far from reaching government.  Now if the Labour government goes Green (ish) to, that is interesting.  

However, the tricky bit is actually achieving the goal of substantial carbon reduction.  Taxes (or "price signals" as the givernment likes to call them) are very blunt instruments that cause big problems for the less well-off, especially as many parts of Britain suffer from poorly-insulated houses and little public transport.  As George Monbiot argues in his new book "Heat", what is needed is for the public to persuade the government to legislate to forse them (the public) to cut down carbon output.  Quite trickly to get people to vote for legislation that will inconvenience a large proportion of them!  As the saying goes '"less" is a four-letter word".

Aye, and there's the rub.

Taxing people to change the world hits the low and middle income demographic. If you live in Richmond, then a few quid more on a chelsea tractor wont bite. (especially if you set your own pay)

If you own a villa in southern France, a few bob on your cheap flight wont hurt. Hell it will keep the great unwashed at home, where they should be: Cleaning our first house so it is nice n tidy when we get back

Nope. Hate to say this as a life long libertine and free market capitalist, GW-PO is bigger than all of us.

It is time to start BANNING STUFF BY LAW unless it is really vital. Who needs a chelsea tractor? Who needs a second home in France? Who needs aspirational consumerism?

Problem is, who will dare stand up and say this? Especially when a looming minority of Chinese and Indian Middle Class are poised to get there share of aspirational consumerism.

Naah. It just gets worse. Nobody will vote for national penury, nobody will stop the economic arms race if there is a chance that another nation will overtake and devour our nation.

We just are not wired that way. What made us successful as a species in the trial of the ice ages is now working against us:

Greed for fats and sweet honey; Tribalism,bonding and social organisation; tool making skills; sheer brain power; capacity for abstract thought;planning and mapping.

Great stuff when there are less than 2 million clever monkeys on planet. ''Gives you a nice edge'' - to missquote Oddball.

Its all a little bit problematic when there are 6.5 billion (and counting)clever monkeys on the planet.

We are fucked.

But before we are finally fucked, just watch the alpha-monkeys suck even more tax out of us.

We are victims of our own success (a trite way of describing overshoot).


Too clever by 'alf.

I think that imposing a carbon tax without some sort of compensation program is pretty much like performing appendix surgery without applying anestesia. It will still save your life, but it will damn certainly hurt like hell.

Without it I don't find carbon tax to be that good idea at all - to continue the analogy, it is known that sometimes the pain itself can kill the patient.

so can the anesthesia
You are not suggesting to remove anesthesia from the medical practice do you?
Sorry but recompensation is a Rob Peter to feed Paul sort of initiative.  Either it hurts all, or it had best hurt nobody.

Otherwise, it looks and is just another way to "redistibute the wealth" or another little socialist/communist program.

The rich as a percentage of people do not make up the bulk of polution from personal activities.  It is the masses of which the bulk are lower and middle classes with their 2+ cars(yes even the poor in America own multiple cars) AC/heated homes and 2+ TVs, Appliances, etc that the real problem resides in.

But then taxing the rich and giving a pass to the poor has been a social goal of the liberals for a long time, and if they can meld PO and GW into furthering this goal, all the better.

No, if you are serious about reducing energy usage, you make it hurt for the greatest number of people so that the greatest number of people reduce or stop using that energy.  Compensation merely prolongs the amount of time they will use that energy.

I am not proposing to "tax the rich and give the poor". This interpretation is entirely yours.

I am proposing to progressively tax the exessive consumption. Thus the tax will not be tailored for any social group, but will be against the fossil fuel consumption itself, which approach when you think of it makes the most sense. We have already such taxes: for example are taxes on alcohol and tobacco against poor people (assuming lower classes drink and smoke more)? I don't think so. They are against the consumption of these products itself. A milioneirre that doesn't drink, smoke, and drives a hybrid may find himself paying much less taxes then a poor suburban family that drives SUVs.

We as a society can easily agree on some levels of consumption which are essential for the basic needs, and make people progressively pay for the extra. I see this most easily implemented using tax rebates or something like it.

Perhaps you specifically were not talking about a redistribution scheme built into the law, but when this topic has been brought up before, the topic of somehow lessoning the effect for the poor seems to repeat itself.

Lessoning the effect for anyone however is a mistake.  It needs to hurt, and needs to hurt as many as possible so as to curb usage of X product.

A straight tax on fuel is fine.  It hurts everyone equally from a usage standpoint.  Don't want to be hurt?  Stop drinking, smoking, or putting around in your car.

As for what to do with that tax money in regards to energy, I'm all for using it to build alternative transit systems and renewable energy.  In a sense I suppose this is "recompensation" but its a public return not an individual return and thus the public, whether upper, middle, or lower class get to all see the benefit.

Strongly disagree. Try to compare the pain of a 40K/year family trying to heat its house with a 400K/year family flying to the Caribian for the holidays. Your approach would cause political pressure to lower the tax or to make it marginal, so that the poorest guys will not simply fall off. The end result - it will become so low that because of the poorest 10% of the population, 90% will be able to afford to continue as usual.
Ah so then you are back to giving money to the poor which would support what I said originlly about this being a redistribution of wealth scheme.

Or do you have another way that wouldn't involve tax rebates to the poor or making the tax have no teeth?

Seems like an either or situation to me.

No, I am just pointing out the obvious: the pain will depend both on the income and the amount of consumption.

If we do not provide a way to guarantee covering the basic needs like heating, lighting, using mass transit etc. without penalising them we are basically promoting a 19th century style capitalism. We need to come up with some sort of combination between penalising taxes (alcohol&tabacco) and incomme tax.

A quite simple way would be this.

Say Green Taxes collect £12bn pa.

60 million people in the UK.

Mail them a £200 cheque per person every January 1st.

This is more or less what Alaska does (shares its windfall oil and gas tax) via a personal credit.

The very poor will be better off than they are now.  Everyone who emits less than the average amount of CO2 in a year will be better off than they are now.

The effect on individuals would be less than the effects of a big change in the exchange rate, or losing their job, or a big change in energy prices (another form of 'tax' that we all pay).

The good news is that £12bn of taxes on CO2 emission is quite likely to have a significant impact on CO2 emission.

In the case of the UK, that is about £200/tonne of Carbon emitted, or £56/tonne of CO2.  Some activities (long haul flights to Australia) will get a lot more expensive.

(the Stern report reckons the long term cost of CO2 is c. £85 or about £312/tonne Carbon emitted).

Owning a high CO2 car (say 240gm/km v. 120gm/km which is the most economical Peugeot diesels) would cost about £1200 more pa (on 10k km pa driving).

This is a very simple and therefore brilliant idea. The best part is it will cost pennies on the dollar to implement it.
If we are to use a 'Pigovian' carbon tax (as opposed to tradeable permits

then I think they will only work (and maximise GDP) if the principle is one of revenue neutrality.

The ideal rebate would be to reduce the employer contribution to National Insurance.  Basically we would be reducing about the worst tax in the UK tax system (a tax on employing people which therefore lowers employment, output and investment).   Employment would rise, wages would rise, returns on capital and investment would rise-- the proportions depend on each industry and its competitive conditions.

Politically we could probably make the pill palatable by splitting the take equally between NI for employer and employee.  Even the lowly paid pay NI, whereas a reduction in income tax would benefit the well off by much more.

To the extent that Green taxes led to increases in prices, those on state support would be compensated by the increase in the CPI.  One might have to have specific programmes eg for fuel poverty.

Sadly governments dislike hypothecated taxation (ie a tax tied to a purpose) and they really dislike revenue neutral commitments!

Sadly governments dislike hypothecated taxation (ie a tax tied to a purpose) and they really dislike revenue neutral commitments!

[rant warning]
Maybe it is time for them to change what they like or dislike, if it is true that our leadership acknowledges GW as a serious problem. I strongly doubt that indeed. I'm not sure at what point the call for a "smaller government" translated in a call for a "passive government" but to me it looks like the roots of the current inaction lie somewhere around that point.

Better to give everyone a quota of emission permits, and then the option to buy or sell them.

The poor (the truly poor) will sell their permits, and be richer.  The well off will buy the permits they need.

Politically the dynamite will be in the middle classes because they will have to make tradeoffs.

This is all about the economic aspirations of the middle classes.  Say the 5th-80th deciles of the British population.

What you miss is that we have central authorities (governments) which at least are supposed to take care of the "common good". Which by definition should be beyond the defficiencies of individual reasoning.

And what you miss is that governments are just people too. Here in the US of A, the government is one of the main obsticles to doing anything about global warming. They have their shills that are actually making the very bad arguments, tha arguments that people just love to believe.

Governments, all over the world will do what is in their best interest. Not in the best interest of future generations but their own needs of the moment. Do you actually see India or China putting serious pressures on industry to cut greenhouse emissions? That would mean burning less coal and coal is the lifeblood of those two countries.

Remember, the mass of mankind, and this means governments as well, are ruled by the needs of the moment. Homo sapiens are emotional beings first and reasoning second. They will believe what is most desirable for them to believe and they live in a democracy, they will vote in the most optimistic, feel good cantidates. They want a government that assures them that all is well with the world. And by God that is the kind of government they will have. All Cassandras will be kicked out on their ass.

Ron Patterson

Which brings us back to an argument that really ruffles feathers.  People complain the US of A is becoming more Imperial and autocratic in regards to its world, and domestic behaviors respectively.

Empires have a way to make people do what they don't want to.  A key attribute of that type of government which is missing in Democratic style governments.

Thus, is Empire a better form(or at least a potentially more capable form) of government than Democracies, in their various configurations in regards to enforcing "green" policies?

People keep saying Government will need to step in and do something but in the case of Democracies the government IS the very people who don't want to change until its too late.

And if the Democracies are not going to change until its too late, those government which could autocratically enforce new rules (like China) are not going to, because to do so would be to give up an economic/military advantage.

I guess my concern with all the people's statements saying government intervention is needed, don't realize that to be asking for that is to be asking for autocratic or near-autocratic enforcement.  Hence that brings us right back to square one, where the best we can offer is an ARGUMENT and use that argument to win people to our view point... preferrably before its too late, but then that is the tough part.

And if the Democracies are not going to change until its too late, those government which could autocratically enforce new rules (like China) are not going to, because to do so would be to give up an economic/military advantage.

Thinking of China as autocracy is oversiplification. A good part of their reasons are similar to ours. Their party leaders  and people in charge are also humans, have kids, move within other people etc. They can not easily come up with some governing decision which is against the majority.

Hence that brings us right back to square one, where the best we can offer is an ARGUMENT and use that argument to win people to our view point...

I strongly disagree with this strategy. Humans are largely inert and egoistic animals. We will not accept changes, spare sacrifices voluntarily. If you expect to persuade people to make them and then to vote for people to implement them, then prepare for a huge wait. What we need is something in the middle - a autocrative leadership (think Winston Churchil, or maybe Putin from todays politics) coupled with a strong campaign (which we are more or less having already). It will not work without either one of these elements.

The advantage WWII leaders had was that what they were fighting against was clear and present.  GW, and PO isn't.  And by the time it is, it might already be too late for even a crash program to make a difference.
Yes, that's why my gut feeling is that Darwanian will turn out to be mostly right.

The difference is that I don't think it makes fighting GW a [completely] lost cause. It is probably pretty futile exercise now, and for the next few years or decades, but when things become really hot (literally) at least we are going to have some experience and [maybe] we will be able to soften the blow. I don't think that anybody has enough information or forecasting capabilities to actually know whether we will, but it is still a good thing to work for.

We will problably turn up the airco's when it gets hotter...
A absolutely agree that this is the way we are heading if things remain in our current version of "democracy without responsibility". I would also agree that the current noise in the media and from the politicians is just that - noise. Very little will be done in practice to tackle the problem, probably not until it hits home in a really big way.

But still, there have been times in history when we as species have seem to be capable to commit to personal sacrifices in the name of the common good. Whether we will do it this time - personally I doubt it. I simply don't want to give up on the fight for it.

Kind of reminds me of the slogan "Morning in America" some 35 years ago.

Tony Verbalis

And yet we as a species are not all the same. According to a study cited in Orion magazine, 11% of us fall into the category "alarmists", a group that believes that radical action needs to be taken now on global warming.  I'm surprised that it is that high, but in any event, what makes some of us so different than our fellow citizens who clearly don't give a rat's ass about global warming.  We have people here in the mountains of Colorado who have propane heaters outside of their houses so they can sit on their decks and be warm while it is snowing.

The mystery to me is how some of us have evolved differently. There are some of us who have taken voluntary action at significant expense to cut our carbon consumption even though we know that political action is necessary to force change on a mass scale. We can only hope we are helping to point the way, but I will admit that it is probably a vain hope. Still we soldier on regardless.

But back to the point that some of us have evolved differently. Just because we are emotional beings does not mean we can not use reason to figure out what the problems are and what needs to be done.  I don't believe what is necessarily desirable to believe unless you believe that I find it desirable to suffer.  But why am I different and why are significant numbers of my fellow beings different.

The problem, I think, isn't so much that we are not evolving but that we will not evolve in time to do something about a problem that is reaching the tipping point to cause it to run away beyond control. Our society, for example, has evolved to the point that we are a much less racist society than we were 40 years ago and we are much more respectful to women. But we don't have 40 years.  

Those who have taken voluntary action at significant expense are a lot fewer than the 11% who think something urgently needs to be done.
But back to the point that some of us have evolved differently. Just because we are emotional beings does not mean we can not use reason to figure out what the problems are and what needs to be done.

Tstreet, the word "we" covers a lot of territory. Just who are you talking about when you use the pronoun "we"? Do you mean yourself and perhaps a few academics that have studied the problem? If so, then you are correct. But do you mean the majority of humankind? If so, then your conclusions are entirely incorrect. We are emotional beings and our emotion, for most people anyway, determines which argument we accept and which we reject. Realizing of course that any good debater can often make the most absurd argument seem reasonable.

I don't believe what is necessarily desirable to believe unless you believe that I find it desirable to suffer. But why am I different and why are significant numbers of my fellow beings different.

T, we are all different. Any human characteristic is found in variable degrees in everyone. An example. (All figures in this example are not factual but used only to make a point.) Say the average height of the European male is five feet ten inches. And say the average difference in height between any two people picked at random is two inches. Then two inches would be what is called "one standard deviation"

There are other definitions for "standard deviation" but the one above is by far the most easy to understand. That is, it is the average difference between any two individuals, picked at random from the total population. And it can be applied to any characteristic.

From this we could form a bell curve of the height of all European males. Five feet ten would be the average and at the peak of the bell curve. Sixty eight percent of all European males would be within one standard deviation of five feet ten. That is, sixty eight percent of all European males would be between five feet eight and six feet tall, ninety six percent would fall within two standard deviations, either side of the mean and ninety nine percent would fall within three standard deviations of the mean. That would be between five feet four and six feet four, if two inches were truly one standard deviation in the height of European males. But don't count on that figures, two inches and five feet ten, as being correct because I just pulled those figures out of the air. But the point is made, whatever the true figure for height and whatever the true figure for one standard deviation, 99 percent would fall within three standard deviations of the mean.

Just as a bell curve and standard deviations can be applied to height, or any other characteristic, human or otherwise, it can also be applied to such things as "propensity to decide arguments on emotion." Most people, the mean, would use reason along with emotion to make decisions. There would be people on both side of the curve. Though the center of the curve, the mean, would give more weight to emotion than reason, more reason would come into play as you moved to one side of the curve and more emotion as you moved to the other. As you approched one extreme side of the bell curve, people would be extremely rational, in their decision making, and extremely emotional on the other.

And one more very important point. Since people generally seek as friends, others who think like they do, then it is likely that most of your close friends are more rational than emotional, provided of course that this is they you make decisions.

This natural variation, by the way, found in both plants and animals, is what makes evolution possible.

Ron Patterson

The "we" I was referring to is clearly a minority. I am just asking why this is so.  How do encourage the evolution of behavior that it well outside the standard deviation.
"fellow citizens who clearly don't give a rat's ass about global warming."

  If this was a more political and less serious thread, this is where I would point out that my ass's name is being taken in  vain, and that those rats be weasels. But PO and GW are serous subjects, so I won't.

Rat in a drain ditch
Caught on a limb
You know better but
I know him
Like I told you
What I said
Steal your face
right off you head

Rodney DangerRat

don't worry. we like all kinds.
governments don't care about the common good unless it can either enrich them or keep them in power.
any serious attempt at stopping climate change will not work because of this.
As much as you know I disagree with you on many things you are so sensible here. Yhe one thing you are perhaps missing is that for some (some) in Europe global warming is present now. Try going to weather.com and pulling the chart of daily temps for London this October. Or Warsaw. Or Geneva. Anyone living there knows global warming has arrived.
Some know it. As opposed to those who are just enjoying the mild weather. Problem is we are locked in for decades even if (if) those who are aware took action now.
Thanks Oldhippie, and I will compliment you one also. You were correct yesterday about those figures on world grain production. The lady's figures for 2004 and 2005 were way too high. I am shocked that I did not notice that since I follow Lester Brown and the WorldWatch Institute pretty closely. It was purely a brain lapse on my part. Sorry.

Ron Patterson

Which is where it all becomes a joke.

It becomes a joke when North Americans bring up India and China, where per capita consumption of oil and coal amounts to perhaps 10%, if that, of what we manage to burn.

Which is, as far as I've seen, where the Energy Depletion Protocol* fails. How will you get people to cut down on consumption when you use 10 times as much as they do? Why would China ever agree to that?

* I haven't read the book, review copy's stuck somewhere, but in no version of what has been presented prior to the book has this been addressed.

As I pointed out, what's needed is in two major thrusts.

  1. The US needs to agree double digit reductions in CO2 production in short timeframes. It has to hurt and be seen to hurt enough that the rest of the world can overlook the extreme level of CO2 production that would still exist.

  2. At the same time India and China need to agree to zero percent growth in CO2 emission. Fairness is a great thing, but has nothing to do with this problem. We need a state where nobody makes the situation worse, and everyone acts to reduce their production. China putting out 24% more is not acceptable, no matter what.

Given that I don't see either of these three countries agreeing voluntarily to what's needed, we arrive at how can the rest of the world force them? If CC is that much of a threat to global ecology, then virtually any measure is justified - and indeed MUST be used.
Given that I don't see either of these three countries agreeing voluntarily to what's needed, we arrive at how can the rest of the world force them? If CC is that much of a threat to global ecology, then virtually any measure is justified - and indeed MUST be used.

I agree! It must be done. But of course nothing will be done!

We can't force anyone to do anything because we won't do anything ourselves. And we are not the rulers of the world. We have not the authority nor the manpower to force anyone, especially large populations like China and India, to do one damn thing.

Don't you understand, what must be done and what will be done are two entirely different things. What will be done is exactly what is being done right now! What is being done right now? Absolutely nothing of course. Well, except a lot of talk and dire warnings, of which no one is paying the slightest bit of attention to.

Ron Patterson

I totally agree, Ron.  It's why I don't spend much time pondering what we "should" do.  I'm more concerned about what we're going to do.  And how it will affect me and everybody.
I agree that dealing with PO and GW should be a primary concern of our gov'ts.  But any meaningful measures to curb our "American way of Life" will result in an economic crash.  That's why they refuse to deal with it.
I've long thought that the deployment of economic weapons is the most tractable route to imposing will on recalcitrant national entities.

  • The US, as we know, is very susceptible to a run on the dollar and oil availability.

  • China's growth is built on oil imports and goods exports.

  • India similarly, but with that added call centre goodness.

Each can be 'forced', via those dependencies, towards desired behaviours. In particular all of them need oil and gas imports to sustain their problematic behaviours. Those in the rest of the world need to have the will equal or greater to their existing action on nation Kyoto targets.

That's what I mean by all measures, and the WTO be damned.

Hi, you are cutting off our supplies of what we want.  That is an act of war.  Surrender immediately or prepared to be invaded/nuked.

Economic warfare will lead to real warfare if you try to corner one of those three entities, and any of those three entities have the capability to make the rest of world hurt badly, or even be killed outright.

As for cutting off oil to any one of those three... exactly what would KSA, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Nigeria, etc etc gain from doing that?  What incentive could say Europe offer those countries that would be worth more than they make on oil sales, combined with the risk investment needed to cover the fairly high probability of invasion/attack?

There is no way the rest of the world is going to FORCE those three nations into changing course.  The rest of the world needs to convince those three countries that it is in their best interest to avoid going down that path.  Cause I assure you that it won't be in the interest of the rest of the world to force those three into compliance.

As Telumehtar notes, such an act of economic warfare by a smaller entity will simply result in military response. Carthage thought they could out-merchant the Romans. They could but the Romans didn't give a damn, marched in, burned Carthage to the ground, slew most of its citizens, then salted the land behind them as an object lesson to anyone else considering the same. Anyone who thinks that smaller economic units like KSA, Iran, etc., can economically force a deep response from the US, China, and India all at the same time is kidding themselves. Hell, if the act was sufficiently disruptive, you might see a unified US/Chinese military response (for example).

The Oil Embargo of the 1970s involved a small fraction of total OPEC production. If OPEC as a whole had shut off the spigots, OPEC wouldn't exist today and the entire area would be under some combined external autority headed by the US, Britain, and possibly even Russia.

No, we're headed for a "last man standing" scenario, and along the way we will burn all the oil, all the natural gas, and all the coal too.

It took Rome a while to sort Carthage out, and was touch and go for a while. For a while, it could have gone either way.

Problem is, you cannot control war very easily when you unleash it.

Especially in a nuclear tipped world when all is to play for and your financial friends of yesterday are your military protagonists of today.

Short of a massive war of extermination, war nowadays is pretty well stale-mated. Who would of thought that Iraq would have lasted this long and have gone to such incredible failure? - Certainly not Bush n Blair.

Who would have thought to see the SovU loose in Afghanistan with such superiority in men and material?

Who would have expected that China, Russia and KSA would hold so many US -IOU's a decade ago?

The order of global complexity in commerce, banking, trade, military balance is now an order of magnitude more complex than a generation ago.

One sunken tanker in the Straights of Hormuz could kill Pax America.

Call to the USA and your Rogue President: It is time to think outside the box (to use that hoary old management psycho babble phrase)

Darling, we need to talk....

Who would of thought that Iraq would have lasted this long and have gone to such incredible failure?

Firstly failure is a subjective term, and mind you I'm not one of the happy campers about Iraq either.  But to say its over is a bit short sighted.

Secondly, the argument that the insurgents have held on this long is a sign that war nowadays is a stalemate is a completely naive look at both modern warfare in general, and Iraq in specific.

Militarily defeating Iraq isn't a problem.  We could go in there crush them utterly and put the boot heel to their neck.  But that's not the type of country the US is.  Instead the reason for "failure" is not a military one, but rather a cultural/political one.  I think the idea of democratizing essentially overnight a populace which has known centuries of autocratic rule is just insane.  Especially when you throw in the sub-cultural history that make up the region of Iraq as a whole.

People I don't think appreciate the amount of time it took us Westerners to becomed "enlightened" in our democratically elected forms of government.  Its taken western civilization near 2000+ years of philosophy, religion and cultural advancement to get to this point.  Starting back to the Greek city states on up to the Magna Carta, The Reformation, a whole slew of governments tossed back and forth between monarchy, and parliamentary, and all the hybrids in between.  And here we think we are going to go into places announce Freedom Rocks, and expect shining examples of democracy to just spring up like sunflowers.  

It tooks us centuries to ween off the monarchical system, and we still have the remnants of it in a stripped down fashion in just about every European country I can think of, not to mention it still makes for great fascination and romantic interest in the "colonies".

But to say Iraq is a failure militarily is a mistake, especially if "smaller" nations think that such a sign of failure gives them an inlet of power on the economic theatre.  The moment a small country(s) dares to stand up to a big one or the 3 big ones, will be the moment those three big ones stop looking at each other with as much distrust and looks at the rest of world as a buffet for the picking.

And if you don't believe the USA would go down that path or that the average American wouldn't go imperial, then you just try and take away their standard of life, and the promise of a better one for their children by FORCE.

Like I said... convince the American that the current way is not better, and you might get somewhere peacefully, but Americans do not, nor have ever taken kindly to being forced by an outside power.  And given China's and India's rapid militarization, I get the feeling they too wouldn't be too keen on going along with a forced situation.

Pretty implausible to claim the US "could" crush Iraq if only we weren't such nice guys. We have not shown much in the civilized restraint department, and to occupy the country effectively we'd probably need four times our current level of troops (increasing Shinseki's estimate by 25% or so for the deteriorated environment caused by four years of mismanagement).

The US doesn't have those troops without a massive mobilization which would be unacceptable to the American public, and we have sufficient vestiges of democracy, in spite of the efforts of Bush/Rove/Cheney, that the vehement opposition of 80% of the public would probably prevent such insanity.

You obviously have no concept of what true unrestrained warfare could be like.

A couple thugs playing dominatrix games in Abu Ghraib hardly constitute an unrestrained military effort.

I'm talking along the lines of take no prisoners, flatten cities, and firebomb neighborhoods.

The main reason air campaigns have a hard time being successful is because we have become a victim of our own success in technology.  We are so precise that the expectation is no/little collateral damage.  And if collateral damage is done, every body gets squeemish.  Take that restraint off for just a moment.

Instead of trying to play pin the buster bunker on the hidden munitions, you instead carpet bomb an entire city like Falluja to the point where only rubble remains.  Then you bring your ground forces to mop up.... not in a friendly door to door effort where you worry about civilian casualties... you go in and kill every living thing, man, woman, child, and pet dog while we are at it.

This world has enjoyed restrained warfare for the pass 50+ years because of the fallout of WWII.  Someday that framework for warfare will go away.  And when it does, its going to make Iraq look like a spa resort in comparison.  The sheer ugliness of human aggression is EXTREMELY restrained right now, even under Bush and Co.

And if PO, Dieoff, and other catastrophic effects makes things desperate enough, you will see a return to what true warfare is about.  And when that happens, Empires the likes of which the US, China, the EU, Russia, and India could become will look at smaller nations consider their resources for grabs, and their people as expendable.

And given the advancements in neutron bombs, we are even building the weapons to kill the people and leave everything else intact.  War will get a lot uglier is desperation kicks in.

People point to Iraq and cry about the atrocities... those are nothing compared to what both sides in WWII and WWI did, and those are nothing compared to the wars before that.  War is an extremely uncivilized activity, and despite the screw ups in Iraq, Iraq has been far more civilized as far as our side is concerned than most of our previous endeavors.  But hey... you won't hear about the good troops actions... they don't make good print.

Have you 'won' in Iraq if you kill all the people?

After you kill 1 million uncooperative Iraqis (pace estimates of 600,000 so far) in what sense have you 'won'?

And what do the other 29 million or so Iraqis do to you then?

Do they cooperate with you, help you, work with you?  You drop nuclear bombs on Fallujah and Sadr City (in Baghdad), so how do you govern what is left?

Or do you kill another 1 million of them?

And what happens to all your Arab and Islamic allies and their friendly governments whilst you carry out this putative massacre?  Do you think their 1 billion people stand by and do nothing?  Do you think the Qataris will let you keep your logistic bases, and the KSA will keep selling you oil?

It's neat to speculate about this being the Ukraine in 1942, but as a matter of fact the Germans failed with the partisans there, too.

The US was able to conduct genocide on the American Indian, but then disease and starvation did most of that work, and the US was settling whites on their lands.

The US doesn't have the capability to settle white Americans in Iraq.

The US could have 'won' in Vietnam by destroying the Red River dikes, killing 1-2 million northerners.  But then they would have been left with the same problem, ie a destroyed country where everyone hates you, and everyone is waiting for the moment when you turn your back to kill you.

I think you are confusing two arguments.  One argument is how do you "win" Iraq given our current values and goals for Iraq.

I'm currently in the camp that thinks this is a lost cause given A) the amount of troop resources we threw at the problem, B) a severe lack of understanding of the Iraqi culture which I think prevents a Democracy in the form we think "it should be" from forming, and C) The lack of American will to see the job done fully, which includes some nasty things which currently America and the rest of the Western world are too squeemish to handle.

Versus a second argument:

Hypothetically if America was desperate enough, could we win in Iraq given certain objectives.  In this situation I'm talking about a world where resources are the end objective, not spreading democracy.

In that event where the objective is to capture and claim Iraq's resources, not give a damn about Democratizing them, and to pretty much quash any rebellion in an effort to secure said resources.  It may very well turn into Nazi style death camps, its not like we have not seen this type of behavior in the past.  As someone else pointed out, when the Romans were done with Carthage, there wasn't much left, including all the people.

Hence I come back to do I think Iraq is "unwinnable", and I firmly say that it is winnable depending on the objectives and depending on motivation of the attacking party.

Of course if we are fighting over resources, chances are, its not the Iraqis we would be fighting so much, but rather another superpower who is equally interested in raping Iraq for whatever resources.

It's still a myth to suppose that you can occupy Iraq without a lot more troops. Suppose you kill 6 million (cf., "Holocaust"); you still have over 20 million waiting to bomb, sabotage, etc, not including the other billion Muslims around the world.

As hawk Max Boot wrote (sadly!!) in a recent column, Americans don't have the stomach to hold an empire.

"As hawk Max Boot wrote (sadly!!) in a recent column, Americans don't have the stomach to hold an empire."

That statement summarizes Telumehtar's point - we lack the stomach for this. But I can assure you that the Chinese are quite capable and so are the Russians. Kill 29 million? So what? If you are China you can find enough to replace that and not even scratch your own population. But the truth is that any occupier bent on control would not have to kill 29 million. Kill indiscriminately and broadly enough and the bulk of the remainder will do what most humans have done historically - complied in order to survive. One of the occupiers dies? The occupier kills 1000 of theirs. Repeat until the occupied population understands the message or no longer exists. (Note: I am NOT advocating this but simply pointing out that historically this is what homo sapiens does when confronted with these situations - they either force compliance from the subjugated or they eliminate them.)

Those who say this cannot happen today do not explain why it cannot happen. They just willy-nilly make that assertion without ever backing it up, allowing it to hang there as if the rest of the world is even capable of stopping such a thing once it begins.

Iraq was a horrible military failure.

20,000 insurgents (official US estimate) managed to pin down the world's most sophisticated and advanced army, and prevent it from securing the country.

Now the US is desparately seeking exit options.

It will look, to the world, like Mogadishu all over again. The mighty US and Great Britain humbled by a freedom fighter with an AK47, an RPG and the ubiquitous Improvised Explosive Device.

Read Thomas Ricks 'Fiasco' for a pretty good description of the mistakes, both at the political level (Bush/Cheney/ Rumsfeld) and the general command level.  The Army hates the counterinsurgency mission, and it does not (did not) prepare for it.


20,000 insurgents (official US estimate) managed to pin down the world's most sophisticated and advanced army, and prevent it from securing the country

Its not the insurgents who pinned down the US and UK Army... its public opinion.  The US and UK public along with World Opinion prevent the army from doing what it is capable of doing.

Whether that is a good or bad thing is irrelevant.  But don't confuse lack of will, with incapability.  The capability is there if we ever decided to use it, but to do so is going to mean collateral.

As I said, the US/UK is the victim of their own technological success.  We develop all these pin point weapons to avoid collateral, and now that we can, the world won't accept anything except pin point perfection.  Armies are traditionally good at breaking things with abandon, and with the expectation of collateral, and now they are not allowed to do that anymore, and so the Army is paralyzed.

Note you don't see the insurgents care about collateral, and hence that is why they are "winning".

Who would of thought that Iraq would have lasted this long and have gone to such incredible failure?

Me.  And just about anyone who ever studied military history and/or the history of Iraq in particular.  The State Dept., the CIA, the Pentagon, etc.  They all predicted it.  

But they're just the reality-based community.  What do they know...

And me too.

It really disturbs me when I realize that sometime in December 2006 the US will have been in Iraq longer than it had been in World War II (approx 3 years and 9 months).

It looks like Daddy Bush is now having some of his fixers, such as James Baker, et al, trying to straighten ou the mess that Junior has made (once again).

Junior, being a typical spoiled brat, will never heed any advice from Papa regardless of whether it is obviously sound advice, and so the beat goes on.

However, once the real powers that be in the US conclude  that a continuation of Iraq is getting to be bad for business, then you will see things start to change. But not until that becomes inescapably obvious.  

In my softer moments I almost (and I stress the word ALMOST) feel sorry for Dubya, as he clearly is in over his head and had been from Day One.  He was more or less 'selected' rather than elected.

Me too.  There were others, too, including Democrats that were too cowardly and politically cautious to challenge the juggernaut which was the Bush anti terror machine.
You mean the Bush terror machine, don't you?  Terrorism => a tactic of war, aka, politics by other means,  in which civilians are targetted in order to achieve political results by fear.  For terrorism to be effective, it must be large scale enough to truly frighten a populace and frequent enough to keep them that way.  The only entities doing that are the USA and Israel.
Me and the thousands of people I marched up to our parliament with & the millions of other people around the world we watched on TV protesting to their political liars about invading Iraq.


Me too.  If I saw it coming from the start, why couldn't everyone?
an act of economic warfare by a smaller entity

I'm reminded of the tale of Ms. Fitts.


don't forget wood and food..
It works if:
 There is a galvanizing catastrophe. A big one.
 There are leaders.
 The leaders are amazingly smart and the people too scared to not play ball.

If there's a big enough catastrophe it's probably already too late. Seen a leader recently?
There are mechanisms and scenarios whereby something good could be salvaged. I'll contemplate a few more besides my own. The chances of this coming off? Very very slim

China putting out 24% more CO2 (over what time period?) is like the US giving up 10%.

They have set a goal of reducing CO2 per unit of GDP by 20%, which is ambitious but doable.

The issue is the future growth of Chinese CO2 output, not their past contribution to the problem (miniscule) nor their current output (very substantial, but still less than Europe or the  US).

India isn't even on the map yet, less than 1/4 Chinese CO2 output.

It's not feasible for either country to agree to reduce emissions.  What is feasible is that we help them to use best practice emission control technology.

Just a clarification.

China is important to the Greenhouse Effect.  However it still only produces 1/3rd the GHG of the US.

India, on bullish forecasts, will still not produce more Greenhouse Gases than the UK in 2020, I believe.

Of course, 80-90% of the existing GHG inventory in the atmosphere was created by activities in developed countries, so on any principle of equity or fairness they ought to be the ones that take the first steps.

Hey, that Drumbeat is a bit earlier than expected. I am going to be tied up most of the week, but I woke up early due to the time change and posted a short essay to my blog. Could a California voter let me know if this example represents the level of thought the average California voter has put into this issue:

What is it about Silicon Valley executives?

I think the Threadbot is still on Daylight Savings Time...

You make some very good points. But as a native Californian I will vote the way Gore, Clinton, Feinstein and others suggest. Yes.

The fact that our economy is so big and powerful (6-8th on the planet if we were a nation) gives a great deal of leeway.

I posted a story on Tar Sands:

Canadian Oil Sands Production Update

It does not show up on TOD:Main yet.

patience grasshopper, patience.  :)
Here's a bit of news from Finland:

"George Soros warns Finland of Russia's superpower aspirations

30.10.2006 at 12:17

George Soros, the Hungarian-born speculator and philanthropist made famous by breaking the Bank of England in 1992, was quoted as saying in the Monday issue of Finnish business daily Kauppalehti that the combination of a weak United States and a strong Russia was dangerous to Finland.

Mr Soros, a critic of the George Bush administration, added that the US had recently lost status in world politics at a faster rate than at any other time in the country's history because of the Iraq war and President Bush's war against terrorism.

Russia is one of the countries that has benefited from the development and is striving to regain its superpower status and extending its power far beyond its borders, Mr Soros warns."


Yet another person telling us to "watch Russia!" There must be something to it...

Yes we should watch Russia. And China. And the Middle East. And numerous other areas as well.

Yes, the US is looking out for its own interests. But if you think Russia, China, India, and a slew of other nations are doing differently, then you are sadly mistaken.

Note: The act of serving their own interests is part of the "peer polity" process that ensures that no nation can or will voluntarily powerdown, because to powerdown will mean being taken over by someone who has not yet powered down. Homo sapiens being what it is ensures a "last man standing" scenario will play out.

Hello GreyZone!

I don't disagree with you, and by no means did I suggest Russia et al. were doing differently than the US as far as looking after their own interests is concerned. I don't know what gave you that idea.

OTOH, it can be said China, for instance, has done a very good job building strategic partnerships with countries that happen to have important resources. And as most people here would appear to acknowledge, the diplomatic performance of the US has left something to be desired, to put it mildly. As somebody wrote recently, the US has used her military power to alienate most of the world, while China has relied on "soft power" to become a trusted and respected partner. The point is, they are both looking after their own interests, but one is doing the job a heck of a lot better than the other...

Jussi: IMHO, the main difference between the USA and China is the extent of "Enronization" of the culture. In the USA a far greater percentage of the political leadership are serving agendas which are evidently counter-productive to the economic and political long term strength of the nation.There is clearly a Chinese "team" but whether there is a USA "team" in the economic and political competition between the two nations is questionable.    
BrianT: That's a very good point, thanks for reminding me about that aspect. Although, it's hard to say whether the interests of the Chinese elite converge with those of the peasants. From what I've read, the leaders are not really too bothered about improving the living conditions of the peasants and average factory workers. OTOH, the middle class is growing rapidly, so they can't be doing everything wrong.

In any case, I'm sure it's true that the Communist Party is quite concerned with the long term strength of the nation, while the US elite sometimes comes across as a bunch of looters, if you will excuse such harsh language...

Finland did fine from 1945-90. Why on earth should they worry now?
That's a very good question. I'm personally not worried, I'm sure Russia will have other things to attend to. But it must be admitted that Finland is very dependent on Russia for energy, and this means the country may have to "re-Finlandise" in the future, meaning that our government should acknowledge that good relations with Russia are vital and that we should never do anything to jeopardise them.

As you may know, the political Right in Finland is very pro-American and anti-Russian, and for some reason that I cannot begin to understand, a lot of people think it was somehow extremely shameful that Finland didn't openly denounce all the horrible undemocratic things that went on in the SU. The pragmatic view is (obviously) that, as Finland could hardly have influenced the SU anyway, it was sensible not to irritate the superpower next door.

A significant part of the political and business elite are  working hard to get Finland to join Nato, the logic being that membership would guarantee our security. At the same time a large majority of the population is totally against Nato, and I can't help but think this sort of comment from  Soros is used to try to convince people that Russia is a military threat and therefore joining Nato is the right thing to do.

According to a fairly recent poll, a clear majority of Finns are against joining Nato, but on the other hand, more than half of Finns think we will join Nato anyway... Some democracy, huh? :-) Provided that the US doesn't start another war in the next two years or so, it seems possible that our elite will push Nato membership down the throats of a reluctant population. They are certainly doing a lot of pushing right now.    

Russia this year has surpased SA in oil production and is going to be a major player in gas.
And on this side of the pond -- what, me worry?
"That project simply raises the question what diversification means when it comes to gas supply. If you live in Germany you do not want to go through what happened last winter with Ukraine [when Russia shut off the supply of gas] . . . I wonder as a U.S. official how much diversification anybody can develop by having more pipelines into the same supplier."

What a great quote - what was the expectation for Iraqi and Saudi oil production again? (and why can't we know what Cheney knows about the planning he did on our dime - or was it just a bit of private enterprise using some temporarily underutilized office space in DC?)

I guess tankers aren't the same as pipelines, since tankers allow for true diversion - that is, LNG tankers bound for America were diverted from unloading in the U.S. due to the fact that other people could pay more.

Actually, the concerns are not really wrong - but given the choice between buying from some supplier which provides world wide support to a frightening ideology while supporting a corrupt group of parasites whose worldview is utterly incompatible to Western values, we know with certainty that the Bush League still trusts the Saudis to be a reliable supplier so Americans can drive to from work to mall to home.

Could it just be that winning the Cold War wasn't supposed to be about Russians getting a chance to play Monopoly like Wall Street does?

And honestly, do you think any large number of people in Europe actually think that a former KGB officer is a worse alternative as a trading partner than the current president of the U.S., Mr. 'You are either with us or against us.' At least most Europeans don't think Putin is a crazed lunatic trusting in God to handle the decision making - and considering such public spectacles as New Orleans or Iraq, God is not likely to be the one advising Bush. Let the devil take the hindmost indeed.  

The confusion is tangible among those pretending to understand the consequences of proposed renewable legislation. No-one has a clue about the eventual costs. So how are voters supposed to make up their mind?

Washington State, clean energy and the Nov. 7 elections

The slogans are simple:

  • Clean wind energy or coal-powered plants polluting the planet.
  • Higher electrical bills or utilities free to save ratepayers money.

In the muddle of initiatives and measures that clutter the Nov. 7 ballots, those for and against Initiative 937 are hoping to persuade voters with these basic concepts.

But that's only the tip of the wind turbine.

Those in favor of I-937 argue that regulations are needed to force utilities to grow in ways that won't worsen global warming by releasing heat-trapping gases created by burning fossil fuels. They say the requirements will lead to better energy conservation, such as education on saving energy and incentives for fluorescent light bulbs and efficient appliances.

"It's our opportunity to take control of our energy future," said Chris McCullough, campaign manager for Yes on I-937.

But many utilities bridle at a state mandate dictating their operations.
"We want to keep our decisions local and be able to determine what is best for our utility," said Rita Bjork, spokeswoman for the Grant County Public Utility District.

I-937 would require utilities with 25,000 or more customers -- currently 17 of the state's 63 utilities, including Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy -- to meet specific renewable energy goals. About 90 percent of the state's utility customers would be affected.

More than 20 other states have approved requirements for using renewable energy, and Oregon is developing its own program, which could have stricter standards than what's being considered here.

If the Washington measure passes, by 2020 the larger utilities must get 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources -- primarily wind -- or from other sources including solar, wave or tidal power and methane captured from landfills and dairy cow manure.

What a stupidity this bill is. I guess this means it will pass, doesn't it?
I live in Seattle, and looking around here there definitely is no big opposition to the measure. I would think it will pass. I voted for it as well.

Can you please list your reasons of the "stupidity" around this bill.

My short reason for voting for it is because otherwise utilities will likely just build more coal powerplants. I know that sounds simplistic but I feel that this is a step forward. It doesn't mandate a particular solution such as ethanol or anything else it just sets a target, which seems reasonable.

Also one of the things that I do with Seattle Light and Power is I have decided to pay a little more money to be funded from renewable resources here in the Northwest, that likely means from the big hydro around here. I'd rather support more sustainable energy production. It's sort of like paying a more for locally grown food in my mind.


It is completely anti-market and reminds me on the five year socialist plans. It is not the governments business to determine which solutions must be implemented and how. This is a certain prerequisite for a disaster.

Instead, government should make the market participants pay for the damage they impose on the environment. Two things will happen:

  1. Huge amounts of money will be spent by the utilities, the prices will have to rise to cover them while the effects will be marginal.
  2. In 15 years the 15% goal will be largely missed. With public support waning, lobbying businesses and new govts will renegotiate the bill and find the appropriate excuses for it.

For these reasons this bill IS stupid. What makes it even more stupid is that it follows the similar experience in countries like UK where government mandates were massively shown to have nothing to do with reality.
Ideally, yes.

However, the treatment of the energy industry by government has rarely, if ever, been dictated by market forces. Name your energy supplier, and I'll name you a subsidy. And if we go down the difficult path of putting dollar amounts on environmental damage, nothing will ever be decided. What is the real cost of adding tons of CO2 to the atmosphere? Bequeathing tons of radioactive waste to our descendents? Shaving off mountaintops for the coal underneath? Maybe we should just leave it to the Decider.

I find attempts by economists to calculate global warming effects on GDP to be a waste of time, since the target group most likely to listen doesn't believe in global warming in the first place.

Finally, let's consider the example of Denmark:

Denmark embarked on an aggressive wind-farm program in the 1970s and 1980s, in part to help reduce its dependence on primarily coal-fired plants and address the global energy crisis. Today, it has 5,300 onshore wind turbines, with about 210 offshore.
Not a bad decision. What would "The Market" have done?
Denmark embarked on an aggressive wind-farm program in the 1970s and 1980s, in part to help reduce its dependence on primarily coal-fired plants and address the global energy crisis. Today, it has 5,300 onshore wind turbines, with about 210 offshore.

If you read the articles about wind at the start of the thread, you would know that whether this was good or bad decision is a very arguable question.

Several things are known for sure about Denmark:

  1. electricity rates went much higher
  2. Overall CO2 emissions since the embarkment of the program actually rose by 6%.
  3. Only 6% of the power of the country is provided by wind. The rest of the wind production is exported at discount rates to neighbouring countries, due to the variability of wind.
  4. It is well known that utilities hate wind because it is costly and is destabilizing the grid in higher proportions.

Of course you will hardly find a Dane-originated article that will be covering those little "details". The reason - Denmark happens to produce some half of the windmills worldwide. Presenting them as a "success" is crucial for their economy, don't you think?

Overall I can liken this bill if for example the government imposed on me the requirement that by 2020 I need to travel 15% of my passengermiles by bycicle. The difference is that it is the utilities they are wanting ineffective or impossible things from, and itilities of course do not vote (or include just an insignificant number of voters).

Of course electricity rates went up more than if the market solution of coal-fired plants were used instead. Anyone who argues that energy from alternative fuel sources will be as cheap and seemingly abundant in the future as was provided by fossil fuels is dreaming.

CO2 up as well? Put coal plants in instead, and then recalculate. The growth paradigm reigns, and they still drive cars.

Wind power is problematic? Yes, and by itself it cannot solve all problems--even for Denmark. But they are in a much better position to complement that with off peak storage, H2 generation, fertilizer production, whatever. Trading excess wind power with hydro power from Norway is not a sign of failure.

Government action is often problematic, and is often driven by political expediency. Market expediency is worse, however--it doesn't give a damn about 2 generations from now. But don't expect political expediency to deal with assigning sufficient costs to current energy producers to make anything other than token gestures.

I don't expect utilities to like this initiative. I don't think they like clean air restrictions either. Big corporations have it pretty rough, eh? They have another option, though. They can keep encouraging everyone to reduce energy use.

A good idea though--I think I might sponsor an initiative that requires everyone to use bicycles for 15% of their passenger miles.

P.S. On the pricing of externalities:
Of course it will be hard to estimate the exact "value" of any enviromental cost. But hard or inaccurate does not mean that none will be the best option.

In a perfect world the companies/people will cleanup what they did out of pure altruism. But since this is hardly an option I can see only one way to make them change their ways - make them pay. And yes it can be done in a socially acceptable way (by rebating the taxes to the poor, using them for social programs, mass transit etc.etc.). There are no fundamental obstacles that we can not do that (if you do not count greed and complacency as fundamental obstacles).

You forgot stupidity!
So the text of the actual Initiative is located here.


Can you please point me to these other bills in the UK that you are talking about. I would like to compare them. From a quick read at work it seems to me that the initiative is a little more nuanced than you speak of.

In reality markets are imperfect. Governments are always shapping markets and vice versa. Can you point out the particular provisions or things in this bill that make it a "socialist five year plan". Businesses will always go the short term more profit, I don't see how governments can't not regulate this because it affects its citizens for the longterm.

How is the government dictating the solution? In the initiative they talk of cogeneration, solar, wind and various other things. I don't see a particular favorite in there do you?

I agree the goal may be missed, but in the penalty phase all the money that is recieved will be use by the public to purchase specifically renewable energy.

In terms of the price of energy rising, isn't it already going to rise over the next 10-15 years regardless? What about all the money that would be spent on purchasing more fosil fuel power that will be saved? Money will instead stay within the state rather than leaving it. Now I don't have any stats or statistics on this of course. And lets say that the intiative was renegiogated in a couple of years because people realize it can't be met. Maybe some of the goals are reached, maybe 5-10% is produced using renewables. The goal could be changed to make more sense.

Also here is a link to a windPower map for Northwestern states. Figured I'd throw it in there.

There are already windfarms in the area, 15% does seem alot to get from wind alone.

So I don't think this bill is stupid. I think it's likely imperfect like everything is. But its better than putting our hands up in the air and saying screw it we'll let the markets solve our problems. Its not going to happen we need to take proactive to solve this problem, and this I think is a first step.


There is a massive untaxed externality here-- the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere without charge, to the detriment of current and future generations.

So the government intervention is justified by the externality (market failure) which is going on without the government intervention.

This is the same logic that is deployed to justify Bush's subsidies for new nuclear stations.

1111, I posted the article because I was confused at the level of confusion that it describes. If no-one understands what the effects will be, what exactly do you vote for? Is it impossible to phrase your energy policies in words that people understand?

Everyone can agree that cleaner energy is nice and good, but will it really lead to that? I'm not sure, I'm as confused as the writer.

Nobody can figure out what it'll cost, or why hydropower is excluded etc etc.

When legislation is this confusing, or shoddy, how can you be confident it will achieve what it claims?

So I think the goal of the initiative is understandable, more renewable power, less dirty stuff. People in the Northwest are very much for a clean environment.

The reason why large Hydro is not included is because the state already has 65% power from hydro. The problem with the hydro is that it comes into conflict with salmon another love of the Northwest. So they want the power to come from other things because they realize the effect more dams would have on salmon and the environment itself.

I definitely don't think the initiative is an easy read though.


Why the confusion?  I would have made it stronger by specifically prohibiting the construction, expansion of coal fired plants or the importation of electricity into the state that used coal fired plants.  We need to take a chance on renewable energy; I only wish it were more ambitious than 2020. I also wish it applied to all utilties.  Unfortunately, where I live the local utility is not required to comply with the statewide renewable energy initiative passed by the voters of Colorado.  
"I would have made it stronger by specifically prohibiting the construction, expansion of coal fired plants or the importation of electricity into the state"

I think this is a key point here. In the initiative it says that all "Qualifying utility" is a utility that serves more than 25000 people in Washington State. So I don't think a utility can get around this by buying power in say Utah from Coal powerplants (like Cali does) and sell it in Washington. That utility would have to comply with the 15% law. So 85% of the other power can be coal. That kind of sucks.

The Prop 87 tax would be about $1.50 per barrel at today's prices.  Given that conventional oil costs $6.00 per barrel to produce, and sells for $60 per barrel, this is unlikely to deter any exploration and production in California.
There is not one fixed price for producing oil. There is a range of prices, and some marginal producers only become profitable at much higher oil prices.

I will make a prediction. Mark it down. California's oil depletion curve will show a much steeper downward trend next year as some marginal producers are put out of business. Now, maybe that's good, because it saves the oil for the future when it may be needed more. But don't kid yourself that oil production won't be affected. It would also lead to lower investments into California's oil infrastructure. However, all of this will drive up prices, and I am in favor of that. This is why I am ambivalent about passage.

-deferred oil production
-higher prices in the short-term
-more investment in alternatives

It does seem all good.  I don't see a downside.  Sure, some of the money might be wasted, and the campaign is unfair to the average oil & gas industry worker, who's working hard and has nothing to do with high-level industry resistance to change, but really, isn't it pretty much all good?

Isn't there a risk that those marginal wells will be "lost?" Once shut down, isn't the cost to reopen them a barrier to ever recovering that oil?
Iowa Boy, the cost of reentries is a substantial factor. Workover rig prices on the Texas Gulf Coast are about $5,000.00 per day, and even a simple reentry will cost $50,000 a well by the time you include tanks,separators, pumps, new power service, site work, engineering costs,downhole pumps, cement squeezing, liners for the casing, tubing, ect..
In addition oil leases expire when the property has no production, so a reentry may require new leases and legal work
  If the wells are left unplugged they will eventually cause pollution problems, so the states require them to be plugged..
  In spite of the high costs, many reentries can be very profitable, paying the investors back their money ina couple of months and making as much as 1,000% return on investment(10:1). But, each well is individual, and each field is a seperate problem, its hard to generalise. And, 3 barrels a day is a gross figure of $7500.00 per month at $50.00 a barrel, so it can be very profitable for a small operator. The Majors can't make any money at less than 10 bbl a day a well because of their high overhead. And, the production is never going to do more than slow the decline in production. I suspect by 2040 the world production will be no more than 20 million barrels a day from all sorces.  
I just watched the pathetic Vinod Kosla on MSNBC. The guy is spewing lies and spreading misinformation on the oil companies and its all about making more money for himself.  Of course all his BS is wrapped up in doing something for the good of the country at the expense of the greedy oil companies.  He makes a snake oil salesman look stellar... what a greasy, greedy, self serving bottom feeder. Californians should hide their wallets and vote this out.  Oink Oink Oink more pork than Hormel.
I voted against it, more because the language is too complicated and it doesn't clearly state to what exactly the funds will go to (aside from general terms).  I was gonna vote for it until I actually read the resolution, and voted against it (wow, I sound like John Kerry!)
I seriously question your assertion that lifting costs for oil in California are only $6 per barrel. New drilling in California has been stifled most of my profesional life by high costs associated with the urbanisation of the southern California oil basins and the NIMBYism that has made offsore development impossible.
  I personally think their initiative is a good idea if the money generated is used for alternative energy. But don't confuse the issue with fake low costs for E&P in California, 'cause it just ain't so. I guarantee that the opponents will sieze on any inaccuracy in order to discredit the whole idea.
RE: Budgets Falling in Race to Fight Global Warming

Good article, some sobering numbers:

2.5 billion

"For all the enthusiasm about alternatives to coal and oil, the challenge of limiting emissions of carbon dioxide, which traps heat, will be immense in a world likely to add 2.5 billion people by midcentury, a host of other experts say."

US R&D 2006 $3B DOWN from $7.7B (adjusted) in 1979

"In the United States, annual federal spending for all energy research and development -- not just the research aimed at climate-friendly technologies -- is less than half what it was a quarter-century ago. It has sunk to $3 billion a year in the current budget from an inflation-adjusted peak of $7.7 billion in 1979, according to several different studies."

medical research up nearly 400%, military research up 260%

"Federal spending on medical research, by contrast, has nearly quadrupled, to $28 billion annually, since 1979. Military research has increased 260 percent, and at more than $75 billion a year is 20 times the amount spent on energy research."

So the military and medical industrial complexes are taking all the booty and leaving little for energy R&D.  As we hit the wall, the rise of an energy-industrial-complex (complete with pork, lobbyists, and scandals) seems inevitable.

Wait, must point out that the U.S. has been spending lavishly on a state of the art energy program to the tune of $2 Trillion or more, it is called Project Iraq.

This article underscores one of our must fundamental problems:  Profits are generated by consuming the planet, not by saving it.  

The benefits that accrue to individuals or to society from not consuming something are far more intangible and subtle than having a new Rolex or a new Lamborghini.  As Roscoe Bartlett has said "We need new measures of success."

"The benefits that accrue to individuals or to society from not consuming something are far more intangible and subtle than having a new Rolex or a new Lamborghini."

Talk about hitting the nail on the head!

In the media and popular culture the conservation movement is variously portrayed as radicals vs. pragmatists, affluenza vs. minimalism, etc.  However, when you scrape below the surface you find that our biological imperatives and culture based thereon is the real heart of the battle.

In response to things like nicotine, methamphetamine, sex, food, gambling, and even shopping, people experience a strong surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine.  There is no such reaction to conservation or non consumption.  

We do need new measures of success and must keep in mind that the biological imperatives that tend to drive us over the cliff undermine our long-term quality of life.

When messages like this capture as much as attention as junk tv, professional sports, or celebrity gossip then we just may make some headway.

That article mentions "efficiency", but not a word about conservaton.  And mostly it pushes for more technological research.  Although such research would be helpful, I think that the only way to truly tackle both GW and PO is to USE LESS energy.   Especially in the USA, since it is so wasteful now.  Perhaps what will "save" us is an economic collapse (which may be coming anyway), since that will enforce less use of resources, in both the USA and China.
Or put it another way, to tax the use of energy (the emission of CO2) more highly.

that will trigger conservation.

I just wanted to let you know that our national gas providing company here in France known as "gaz de France" or GDF is advertising on national TV channels for heating systems based 30% on solar 70% on natural gas.

GDF is currently trying to get more private than national in order to merge with Suez, a privately hold energy and water company. They try to gain more strength in negociations with V. Putin, together with Total.

On media more dedicated to the economy like our "radio BFM", more and more broadcasts are devoted to peak oil, energy issues with in depth discussion about shtokman, shakalin and so on. Peak oil seems to gain momentum in the circles of CEO's and other deciders, quite in the contrary in what is happening in the US it seems.

I don't think however that this will shield us from the global consequences of PO.

So Neuroil, Gaz de France is definitely no longer up for sale? Doesn't that interfere with the EU 'open systems' policies?

I remember a few months ago Gazprom was bidding high for Gaz de France, a fact I included in an article about LNG terminals in Québec, where Gaz de France has stakes/ownership shares.

But the merger with Suez (meaning "nationalization") is not completed, if I read you well. What are the yet-to-be-resolved points?

Thanks for your reply, roel. You understand probably much better than I do the arcanae of the international gas market.

Indeed, the merger suez-gaz de France is contrary to the European rules. However a majority of the decision-makers in Europe seem to agree that this should succeed. The proponents argue that this will increase the power of Europe in negociations with russia. It seems that some of the leaders in France have good relationship with V. Putin, like J. Chirac the french president which would enable a group like GDF-Suez to advocate the European position. To me it seems however that the good relationship with France is still another diversion tactic (divide to rule better). The opponents would like a more european group with a strong commercial and financial weight, but would this be enough when you deal with something like gazprom, where they mend the rules as they like ? Are european groups strong enough to weigh in on international affairs (see the EADS fiasco)?

The merger Suez-GDF still needs approval from its shareholders but it is well underway. It should be operationnal in 2007, Jan.

P.S. I will be offline in about 30 minutes from now. If any, post your questions, I will try to respond tomorrow on this thread.

Clinton Shills For Bad Energy Policy

While most of that article is correct, they missed the boat on this claim:

And it's 33% cheaper than gas," Clinton said, neglecting one key detail: cars must use three times as much ethanol as gas.

My guess is that this a garbled version of the fact that due to the low EROEI, several gallons of ethanol must be produced before the equivalent of 1 gallon of gasoline is netted out.

My guess is that someone thought that "30% more ethanol than gasoline by volume" means "3x more."  These are polititions and MSM people, not people with a 10th grade mathematics skills.

I suppose the "33% cheaper than gas" includes the subsidies.  In that case, we should subsidise ethanol at 100% and completely solve our energy needs since ethanol would then be free.  Duh.

More Facts and Fictions About the World Oil Scene, good piece by Ferdinand E. Banks
The Oil Drum's favorite whipping boy, Mr. Daniel Yergin, is on C-SPAN right now, and is again belittling and disparaging the peak oil theory in front of an audience in Washington.  Among his claims are that M. King Hubbert underestimated future technological advances, the theory has been repeated and proven false several times before, and peak oilers are basically naive.  He says current US production is presently 67% higher than Hubbert himself predicted at this point in time.  

I do give him credit for consistency.  However, as contributers of this forum have pointed out time and again, his own predictions (using actual quotes of his) have been proven consistently wrong.  Who is he to lecture others?  

Perhaps Dan ought to check in with PFC Energy, a serious energy consulting business. Mike Rodgers, their Partner for Upstream Practice --

Spoke at ASPO-USA

Yergin was invited but had to "send his regrets" -- I guess he had a committment to whatever is being broadcast on C-SPAN to call us all naive. I'll be sure to tell Jeremy Gilbert, former chief Petroleum Engineer at British Petroleum (BP) -- who I spoke with at the conference and who spoke to everyone on the meaning of reserves -- that he is naive. Gilbert also reads our work here on TOD.

Is Yergin completely shameless? Apparently, we know the answer.

Yergin should be on in about 30 minutes - http://c-span.org/
Jerry Gilbert got a whole page to himself in The Prize. He was the last man out from The Fields (the term BP used to refer to Iran).
Erwin, Daniel Yergin is an Authority, in the same snese that Tom DeLay is an Authority on Conservative Principles or George W. Bush is an Authority on education with the no childs behind left programs, and Steve Forbes on taxation.
  I'm fairly certain that CNN picks its experts on their ability to reassure their advertisers. That's exempleary marketing, but lousy information for thinking people.  
Right on, OilManbob!

What concerns me is that Yergin's phony "authority" can lead to all kinds of public policy mistakes, to complacency amoung the general population, and even to the kind of foreign policy that results in more death and destruction and watse of resources.

What is the effective antidote to Yergin. et al?

I spoke recently to a Minneapolis Chapter of the Izaac Walton League, and was very well recieved by a mostly elderly audience of about 20 people or so.  One of the little old ladies was 90 and rather tiny, but insisted on ride -- even though it was chilly and damp and already dark outside -- on my pedicab!  What a gal! she is my new inspiration.

But another elderly woman asked, during Q&A time, why so many people she talks with think she is nuts about population overshoot, resource depletion issues, and the like.  She said that most people try to change the subject, and she sounded isolated and discouraged.

So I figure we need to support one another in forums where we can ask the tough questions, and continue to invite others to join the conversation.

Seems slow -- are reddit and digg helping at all?

Housing market hinders economic growth
Economic growth slowed to a crawl in the third quarter, advancing at a pace of just 1.6 percent, the worst in more than three years....

... Investment in homebuilding was cut by the biggest amount since early 1991.

The reading on gross domestic product was weaker than the 2.1 percent pace many economists were forecasting.

"The housing bubble burst and that really knocked down growth," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors....

Economic matters are expected to influence voters' choices when they go to the polls. President Bush's approval rating on the economy is at 40 percent, among all adults surveyed in an AP-Ipsos poll. That remains near his lowest ratings. Those surveyed trusted Democrats more than Republicans to handle the economy.

The Bush administration quickly sought to downplay the slowdown in economic growth.

"Everybody expected this. You have a combination of rising energy prices and also rising interest rates, and now you've seen a reverse on both," said White House press secretary Tony Snow.

Thanks for weighing in on this, Tony. Now you can go back to your usual fawning. Where are these American so-called adults hiding?

Regarding the Mead ethanol plant using methane gas from the feedlot to produce ethanol, IMO right solution, wrong problem.  Methane gas is a useful energy resource which could better be used for cooking than powering SUV's, as described in this William McDonough article.  

Eco-designs on future cities  
By Jo Twist
BBC News science and technology reporter  

"We lay the city out so everyone can move in parks without crossing traffic, the buildings have daylight lighting, the university is at the centre, and with hi-tech connectivity."

The buildings and all around it work like biological, growing beings, photosynthesising and producing and re-using their own energy.

Waste is energy in Mr McDonough's Next City vision; methane is used to cook food. A quarter of the city's cooking will be done with gas from sewerage.

"The energy systems will be solar energy. China will be largest solar manufacturer in the world," says McDonough.


Further, it may be misleading to call this closed loop. The methane from the cow poop is outside the loop is dependent upon a chain of outside agricultural inputs. Unless, of course, they propose to somehow feed the cows with ethanol.
And the corn isn't included in the misnomer "closed loop" either.  The tractors don't run on ethanol, fertilizers, degradation, harmful monocultures, water inputs, and hauling the corn to the facility are all left out of their "loop".  But, it's a subsidized loop, isn't it?
Kalpa -

While it is a good thing to recover methane via the anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge, one should not get one's hopes up too high that this will be even a minor source of energy.

First off, the energy content of human waste is but a fraction of the energy content of the food we eat, most of which goes to fuel the functioning of our bodies and to build cell mass. Some of that energy content is left over as waste, but not very much.

Then, when that waste goes through a sewage treatment plant, part of the energy content of the waste is used by the microorganisms that degrade the waste and make it more suitable for surface discharge. The solids that are left over from this proces is called sewage sludge. That sludge can be subjected to anaerobic digestion, a byproduct of which is digester gas, which is about 2/3 methane and 1/3 CO2.

A rule of thumb is that a sewage treatment plant digester can produce roughly 1.5 cubic feet of digester gas per capita per day.  Due to the lower heat content of digester gas, that would be equivalent to roughly 1 cubic feet of natural gas per capita per day.

You don't do much cooking on 1 cubic foot of natural gas per day.

Your post may be too pessimistic, given that a system in Gothenburg, Sweden is using human waste to generate 11% of its total natural gas needs (not just cooking).  Unfortunately, I don't have additional information about the McDonough 25% plan in China which you apparently doubt.
Iowa is perfecting hog methane use and farmers are generating electricity with it to feed back into the grid or be self-sufficient, and thousands of rural, small Vietnamese farmers with as little as 1-2 pigs have been cooking for decades with the methane from that waste, saving contamination and firewood harvesting, as well as time.

Sustainable natural gas is part of the puzzle of using the best renewable energy available in a particular situation or region.

from the Iowa article:

Biogas systems such as anaerobic digesters have a much greater success level now because of the improved technical support and increased profitability through the sale of manure by-products. Some dairy facilities report that they generate more revenue from the sale of electricity and other by-products than from the sale of milk.
Nevada builder wants Arizona town's water and it sounds like they will get it too. It's easy to dismiss population driven resource issues... until they start to become local and impact you personally. It would be smarter to address them before that, of course, but homo sapiens seems incapable of making that leap.
Hello GreyZone,

The Wild West has an illustrious history of shooting skirmishes over water.  Just wait until PO & GW & Overshoot make the return of this sport vastly more popular than football, NASCAR, and shopping combined.  Cascadia has no conception of the coming influx of refugees by the multi-millions.

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

buenas noches Bob.
They had 'water wars' over near Tampa as well, seems the entire aquifer (and the vast majority of drinking water in FL is simply pumped from the ground) in Pinellas Co. (the peninsula St. Pete sits on) is contaminated, and the neighboring counties did not want them to take their ground or river water.
They ended up building a desalinization plant that has been used maybe 5 months out of 3 or 4 years. Not cost effective, bad filters, better rainfall, more use of reclaimed water for irrigation....et al but it's finally needed for sure now.

You're probably aware that the Great Lakes water will now never be exported beyond an adjacent state.

World grain prices at record levels, with no ceiling in sight. Inventories at the lowest level in 25 years.

In that timeframe, world population has gone from around 4.5 to 6.6 billion, a 46% increase.

And our economic sector sees dollar signs because prices will go through the roof.

"I am extremely bullish on wheat given the shortages in global inventories,' Roche said. "All the major producers have suffered from dry weather conditions."

What is left to say about that?

Wheat prices may reach record

Reduced production because of droughts in Australia, Ukraine and the U.S. sent wheat skyrocketing 50 percent this year. Prices may jump 47 percent more to $7.50 a bushel on Chicago futures markets. [...] Michael Lewis at Deutsche Bank AG in London said grains will outperform all other commodities in 2007.

Third-quarter expenses for flour at Canada Bread Co. surged 35 percent, the most in a decade. The major economies most affected are China and India, where staples such as bread are a bigger share of consumer spending. Two-thirds of the world's wheat harvest is used for food.

"I expect to see new records being set in the next two to three years because of global shortages,' said Stephan Wrobel, chief executive officer at Diapason Commodities Management SA based in London and Lausanne, Switzerland, which oversees $5.5 billion. "Agriculture has outperformed energy and metals since September, and I expect that to continue into 2007."

Wheat rose 0.7 percent last week to $5.085 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade after Australia forecast the smallest crop in 12 years and consumer nations accelerated purchases, locking in supplies before prices race higher.

Egypt, the world's biggest wheat importer, bought 180,000 metric tons for $34.4 million, triple what it had initially sought. A state-run grain trading company in India said it wants to purchase as much as 35,000 tons after already buying 6.5 million tons this year.

World inventories will fall 43 percent by June to 119.3 million tons, the lowest since 1982, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Oct. 12. Australia, the third-biggest exporter, will see its wheat crop decline 61 percent to 9.5 million tons. Ukraine, the sixth-largest exporter, expects its harvest will drop 10 percent.

Hedge funds say they're increasing their bets on wheat. Rudolphe Roche, who co-manages the $97 million commodity fund at Schroders Plc in London, forecasts prices on the Kansas City Board of Trade will to more than $7 a bushel in 2007. The fund has a 10 percent holding in wheat, its maximum for a single commodity.

"I am extremely bullish on wheat given the shortages in global inventories,' Roche said. "All the major producers have suffered from dry weather conditions."

roel, we may be going down in flames but the capitalists will be counting their Monopoly $$$ all the way to the bottom.  Picture a fox chewing its leg off to escape a trap and then pausing to say to himself as he hobbled away: "Hey; you know, that wasn't half-bad...mighty tasty..."
Hello Peakoil Tarzan,

LOL--very sad, but oh so very true.  I think grain traders would be less euphoric if the trading pits were stacked and packed with millions of decomposing, maggot-ridden corpses of starved children.  Every trading contract would cause a flood of tears.

Oh well....Out of sight, out of mind... what's happening with the hotels on the key square of Park Place?

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

Hello TODers,

Speculation Ahead!

Mother Nature seems to prefer "the death by a thousand little cuts" method so far.  But I wonder how soon this might change. I was googling methane clathrates and came across this little gem:
Clathrates as a cause of tsunamis

During the formation of gas hydrates, methane and water become immobilized within the sediment pore spaces. Because of the presence of these solids (instead of pore waters and gas), the sediment can not become consolidated because the water can not be expulsed with increasing overburden as more sedimentation occurs. Cementation of the sediments does not occur when pore spaces are filled with hydrates (solid ice) rather than with water, from which minerals such as calcite can be precipitated. Gas hydrate rich sediments are thus cemented by the hydrates, which may occupy much of the sedimentary section, but which are not stable when the temperature rises or the pressure falls.

This may lead to problems during continued sedimentation and further burial of the gas hydrates: the hydrates will become buried so deeply that the temperature will increase according to the regional geothermal gradient. The hydrates will then no longer be stable, and will disintegrate into a liquid water and gas mixture. The basal zone of the gas hydrate becomes under-consolidated, possibly over-pressured because of the release of the methane, leading to the development of a zone with low shear strength where failure could be triggered and massive landslides could occur. With the landslides, more gas could escape.

Several examples of possibly gas-hydrate linked extremely large slumps have been described, e.g., on the Norwegian continental margin (Bugge et al., 1987), where debris from the giant, three-part Storegga slide, over 450 m thick, is spread over a distance of 800 km. One of the Storegga slides caused a tsunami to deposit sediment up to 4 m above the high water line in Scotland (Nisbet and Piper, 1998). There are more of these mega slides in the same region (Laberg et al., 2000).

Now since we haven't had any major hurricanes this year to remove excess heat from the GoM and Carribean: all this hot water has had time to heat the sediments below and as it migrates north along the Gulf Stream it has soaked additional energy into the mud along the East Coast.

A methane burp causing a tsunami would probably be onshore before most people could be evacuated.  But the real show would be when this now-mixed gas finds a spark.  Imagine 1,000 LNG tankers releasing their loads into NYC harbour...

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

It would probably be blamed on Al-Qaeda!
Hello Gr1nn3r,

Thxs for responding.  Yep, if you happened to survive the 50ft tsunami, it would be highly doubtful you could outrace the explosive heatwave moving along about 300 mph.  On the brighter side-- it would end the global warming debate once and for all among the survivors.

I am no scientist, and it seems highly unlikely, but imagine if this occurred on a huge scale near Greenland or Antarctica: a huge flashmelt of ice raising sealevels 20ft in just fortydays and fortynights.  Noah--where is the Ark?

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

Just like peak will probably only show up looking backward, I'm wondering about signs and portents we disregard at the time and then look back and say Oh my.

Are these things all related?

Major naval buildup in the Gulf.
A decapitation attempt in Pakistan.
Israel plans big operation in Gaza Strip.

And now the Brits' "The British consulate in Basra will evacuate its heavily defended building in the next 24 hours over concerns for the safety of its staff."

Do you suppose the Brits know something "Big" is about to go down and are getting their guys out of the line of fire?

Don in Maine

It would fit.

Although normally in secret operations you try to avoid that kind of obvious giveaway-- you can bet anyone who has anything to do with the Brits in Basra has also been approached by Iranian intelligence.

Besides all the problems wrt taking action on PO and/or GW mentioned above,

a) groups of humans, even Nations, will coalesce and battle and make sacrifices against threats or putative future events that are calculated to have obvious negative outcomes - against the Barbarians, against Hitler, against an epidemic. Positive outcomes, if the present state of affairs is accepted or merely habitual, aren't that rousing, as they can be put off into the future, or disregarded altogether, or can very often be seen as requiring only slow, incremental efforts (e.g. improving education, getting a better yield in agriculture, getting people to stop smoking, stopping child marriage, etc. etc.)

b) tackling PO implies (barring cornucopist -if that is a word- thinking) some kind of de-development -  saving, sharing, using less, doing more or differently with less, shrinking the economy (oh horrors!), and so on.  Such an attitude is completely against Western ideology, which teaches us that material growth and expansion is a sine qua non of life.  That attitude is not new, Paleolithic man was not too different I guess.

-new, psychologist, lives in Switz. Eng, second language

oldhippie wrote:  "Try going to weather.com and pulling the chart of daily temps for London this October. Or Warsaw. Or Geneva. Anyone living there knows global warming has arrived."

I live in Geneva.  The whole population accepts global warming as a fact of life, from roughly 1990.


a) of the glaciers melting in Swizerland, since the first measurements, in 1885, 1890.  Anyone who has taken a stroll in the mountains, and compared what is seen at dates separated often by no more than 2 years can note the difference, with their own eyes and feet. A 20 year difference, not to mention 30 or 40, shows a completely different landscape.  Where ice was before as far as eye could see, now there is gushing water and mud, ugly rocks, etc. No newspaper articles or scientific blurb required.

b)  it has slowly become possible to eat Xmas dinner outside.

c) plant life has changed completely.  Even town dwellers are very aware. We have cacti on our balconies and in the streets olive trees and palms are planted! All the `old' (geraniums, salix, etc. etc.) plants die. (Ok, they came from Dutch nurseries, too bad for the Dutch.)  Insect life, ditto. People run around with nets catching weird thingies, use a microscope, and write off to various organisms. We have Tiger mosquitoes in the Ticino (transmit dengue fever.) They appeared in 2003.

d) The heat wave of summer 2003 (remember, all the French old ladies who died) fried the vegetation. Burnt out husks and trunks everywhere. 3 years on, although much of the vegetation looks OK, because much was cut down, re-planting was done, etc. regrowth (which is being studied) is puzzlingly about 60% less than expected.  The consensus seems to be that `shock' hit the whole of nature...

e) some months after Aug. 2003 the price of vegetables rose. Since, it has doubled, or more.  

f) last week, at the end of October, it was day by day 20 -26  degrees C (in town, with its concrete, etc.)  Such extraordinary weather is no longer experienced as a `one-off', a glorious Indian summer, something to enjoy and marvel at. It has people worried.  

g)  That winters are milder is not noticed day by day (except for those Xmas dinners) until the heating bills come in.  Despite the rise in price of fossil fuels (winter season 05-06, and before...) used for central heating, many people have received returns from their `heating kitty' - mine was close on a 800 dollars, while paying in each month a sum that was fixed in 1996.  Each year, the return I receive has gone up.  Each year we pay less for heat.

heh! from the ground.

Interesting.  There's evidence of warming here in the northeastern U.S., too, but it's not as obvious, and many are still in denial.  (Just natural variation, etc.)

The old-timers claim that winters have become much milder.  There's less snow.  Spring is coming earlier.  Fleas and ticks are more of a problem.  And birds that used to migrate no longer do so.

Still, I can't imagine eating Christmas dinner outside.

When I visited Dawson City, Yukon 20 years ago, they said that in the 1870's they would have 6 weeks of -60 F temperatures, in the 1980's it was less than 6 days of -60 F. Not sure what the coldest temperatures would now be, but I would bet that they don't reach -60 F now.