What the right hand giveth . . . .

Just a short note as I pause briefly to change suitcase contents in a more than usually intense travel period, I saw that President Bush is now starting to place more emphasis on his Energy Program. Discussion under the fold.
What particularly caught my eye was this paragraph:
On Tuesday, Bush plans to visit the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., to talk about speeding the development of biofuels.

The lab, with a looming $28 million budget shortfall, had announced it was cutting its staff by 32 people, including eight researchers. But in advance of Bush's visit, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman over the weekend directed the transfer of $5 million to the private contractor that runs the lab, so the jobs can be saved.

The department ''has been informed that the NREL lab director will use these funds to immediately restore all of the jobs that were cut earlier this month due to budget shortfalls,'' the department said in a statement Monday.

''Our nation is on the threshold of new energy technology that I think will startle the American people,'' Bush said. ''We're on the edge of some amazing breakthroughs -- breakthroughs all aimed at enhancing our national security and our economic security and the quality of life of the folks who live here in the United States.''

 While I applaud the investment of more money into research in energy, one of the things that I have learned from the way some of our programs are funded is that money such as this is usually taken from somewhere else.  And given that there are some other ongoing programs in DoE that are working on issues related to helping to ease some of the transition problems as we head over the hill, one can only hope that it is not these that will bear the cost of this transfer of funds.
The overall budget cut at NREL was apparently $28 million with the main impact on programs in biofuels, hydrogen and basic research.  While the restoration will provide support for the folk that were laid off (8 research staff, and 24 support staff) one suspects that the external contracts that had been terminated will remain so.  The current cuts in staff were only the first wave of a planned one hundred plus cut that were anticipated over the next year. Apparently the news of the cuts came rather later than normal, and after this years expenditures had started, so that the cuts may still need to be severe, since the make-up so far is only about 20% of the overall cut.  I am not sure how to take the comment
Garman blamed the cuts in part on lawmakers steering research and development funds to colleges and universities in their districts.
I think I will bite my tongue on this one. There is a more recent version of the story on Reuters that identifies that the money went to the Midwest Research Institute, that runs NREL (and which means that less of the money will likely make it to the lab itself). And as to where the monies are coming from
The programs at NREL are critically important to realizing the President's vision to diversify and strengthen our nation's energy mix," Bodman said. The Energy Department took the money from other accounts. The DOE said it will try to restore those funds by using money from several projects mandated by Congress in 2001 and 2002 "that have failed to make progress." Bush's 2007 budget requests a 78 percent increase in solar energy research; a 65 percent boost in biomass research; and a 42 percent rise in hydrogen research, work that would be conducted at NREL.
By colleges and universities, I believe he means University of Texas.  Seriously.. you guys have no idea how much UT has benefited from the Bush administration's Texas ties.  Alot of nuclear research has been shifted from labs like Los Alamos over to the UT system, especially in the area of weapons research.  

I'm just lamenting here... I don't really have a good point.  

I think you might mean Texas A&M.  We here at UT haven't actually seen much money.  We're a Democrat school -- LBJs library is here, A&M is where GHW Bush's library is located.
But Bush applied to get into TU.  He was rejected, and ended up going to Harvard instead...  
Um . . . Leanne, didn't Bush go to Yale, join the Skull and Bones society (along with Kerry) and thereby become part of the Global Conspiracy based on the Trilateral Commision which is using the Black Helicopters of FEMA as part of the plot to Take Over. Katrina, of course, was part of the plot.

Pretty please with sugar on top, let us stop picking on Bush. Bush is not the problem. The Bush administration is not the problem. The Deep Problems go much deeper.

Bush, Cheney and Co. are merely symptoms of much more serious disorders.

Bush applied to TU for law school.  Or business school? Something like that.  He was rejected and went to Harvard Business School instead.

I thought he was a big-time Longhorns fan, and I don't see how saying so is "picking on" him.

Just to make sure, here.. you mean UT, right?  Because TU would be Texas University, which doesn't exist.  The closest there is Texas State University, which used to be called Southwest Texas State University, so I don't think it's the same issue.  But, this thread has gone south...  My original point is that the UT system is benefitting greatly from Bush & Co. And the point that I made was that alot of research is being shifted to them and away from federal labs like Los Alamos.  If I remember correctly, UT stole away a contract for high energy physics research.  But I don't remember exactly, so I could be wrong.  

In the interest of full disclosure, I attend UT - San Antonio.  It's in the UT system, yes, but it's kind of removed from UT - Austin.  Unlike in California, where there are like three or four big, powerful schools under the UC system, UT Austin completely outperforms the other schools in the system.

Just to make sure, here.. you mean UT, right?  Because TU would be Texas University, which doesn't exist.

Good-bye to Texas University
So long to the Orange and White.
Good luck to the dear old Texas Aggies,
They are the boys who show the real old fight.
The eyes of Texas are upon you.
That is the song they sing so well (sounds like hell!)
So, good-bye to Texas University...


This thread has gone south, but just in keeping with times...

A real Aggie would have used the term 't.u.', so I'm going to have to doubt your Farmer-cred, Leanan.  

No offense.

I'm actually not an Aggie.  My sister is.  She's not a farmer, though.  Her undergrad degree from A&M is in economics.  

My alma mater is RPI:

e to the x, dy/dx, e to the x dx
Cosine, secant, tangent, sine,
Square root, cube root, log of pi,
integrate them RPI!

Only in number of parties.
So who DO we pick on?
don, you are way out of line here....don't blame bush?....are you kidding??...who exactly got us into this mess in iraq?..jessica simpson?...who is the main decision maker in our foreign and domestic policy?...bodie miller?..who is stripping the fiscal budget to finance that war at the expense of all domestic policy?...ang lee?...who's running this country into the ground?..miss piggy?
who's running this country into the ground?

Dick Cheney?

The results of a new Time poll were announced yesterday.  Roughly half of Americans believe that Dick Cheney "does not have America's best interests at heart."  Bill Schneider, CNN's political analyst, said that it's because Cheney is seen as an oil man, and Americans have a deep distrust of big oil.

don, you are way out of line here....don't blame bush?....are you kidding??...

Why do we humans engage in the "blame game" so much and where does it get us to in this particualr situation?

(Inquisitive lemming minds want to know ^..^  )

I appreciate that you do not like Bush. But obsessing on Bush is like picking at a plantar wart when you have malignant melanoma. In other words, what I am suggesting is that all this Bush bashing is a HUGE fallacy of lack of proportion. Note the following:
  1. Under our systems of checks and balances, a president can do squat without Congress. A president may propose, but Congress appropriates the funds (or does not do so) and thus the power of the President to by himself do horrible things is very limited under our system of government. Congress and demosclerosis of Congress--structural problems, in other words, I think are about 100 to 500 times more serious than the fact that Bush is, to be polite, not likely to be remembered as one of our great presidents.
  2. There are huge urgent issues out there: developing substitutes for fossil fuels, dealing with climate change, stabilizing population, just to name three of the big ones. The more emotion and energy and time spent bashing Bush, the less there is to go at the big problems.
  3. Compared to the screwups of other presidents, such as J.F.K. and L.B.J. in getting the U.S. into the Vietnam War (a far, far, bigger and bloodier war than Iraq) G.W.Bush is not an especially heavy hitter as creating disasters go.
Thus I conclude that Bush bashing is counter productive.

Get over it. Get down to very serious issues.

In three years Bush will be gone. NONE of our serious problems can be mitigated much by his going, no matter who his successor is.

As Harry Truman used to say:

"The buck stops here!"

So in that vain, Bush bashing is totally appropriate.  He claims to be a leader but does not set an agenda that anyone can understand or follow.

Seems like a failure of leadership to me.

It also seems that you are overly sensitive to criticism of him.

Might you be a Bush supporter that does not like facing facts i.e. Bush is a failure!

listen,,,i know bush isn't the only problem here....but what could have been done with that 400 billion "invested" in the middle east... if just anyone in power would do one right thing with a decent fraction, say $30 billion...ie one month in iraq used for jump starting renewables in this country..blah , blah, blah ..bush controls congress , no checks and balances...i know, it's stupid to argue politics
I wish that was the case.
Bush Jr. can ignore the Supreme Court, ignore the Senate or House when picking which version of a bill to sign (which will give the small states fits when they figure that out), print money whenever he wants and to hell with the debt limit, move money from one appropriation area to another if Congress doesn't give him what he wants, and God knows what else he's doing that we don't know about.
Bush gets the blame for the destruction of america.  After Sept 11, he had the opportunity to ask Americans to work together for the future by eliminating oil. Something as simple as a $5000 cash rebate for hybrid cars 5 years ago would be making a substantial impact now.  Throw in actual sacrifice like (gasp) investing in rail systems instead of tax cuts, and we would be in much better shape.  Instead, he decided to enter into illegal wars, make rich people richer and totally destroy our country.

Bush will be the cause of more death, pain and hatred than any leader in the history of the world, simply because he deliberately didn't do anything.

The Bush people are smarter than you think. I've been pushing my Democratic representation in Congress to address peak fossil energy production, and the most they do is accuse the oil companies of excessive profits -- which might be true, but it isn't the point. We all knew that if the Democrats wouldn't own the issue, the Republicans would, and that's exactly what's happening. The Republicans will cast themselves as the party of energy progress and the Democrats as the party of the past, with only the latter being true.

Nevermind that Bush's entire notion of biomass is flawed, that he won't increase fuel standards for SUVs, that he won't admit global warming is in full swing. Reality isn't important when you have a news media that does little more than regurgitate what the party line is.

Welcome to Amerika. As Bill Moyers said:

One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
Sometimes I wonder if they know what's coming, and are looting the country now, while they can.

I am a political independent, and have voted for both Republicans and Democrats.  I voted for the current president's dad, and would do so again.  

But something has changed now.  I used to feel that politicians, whatever their foibles, had the best interests of the country at heart.  I no longer believe that.  The group in power now doesn't seem to care about the damage they are doing to the country.  They are acting like there is no future.

I feel you are correct (though I would not have voted for Bush Snr.), I sense a wilful contempt for many things I hold dear and important in this US regime. I think your now belief is correct, and I conclude that there is no future while their like is in power.
I suppose it's better that Bush supports biofuels rather than not...

That said, it would be so much better if we began somewhere else. A progressive tax on all vehicles that cannot get 40mpg would be a good start.

Think of the research funds that would raise.

Thank You. Another Gas-Tax recruit. I'm putting on my Neil Young's Greatest Hits right now.
That depends on what 'Support' means these days.  Does he support biofuels like he supports the troops? (particularly once they are veterans..)  Everything he claims to support is getting shafted.  Science Research, Pell Grants, VA bennies, First Responders..
please note that copying a entire article is a violation of copyright.
wasn't paying attention, just meant to do one pgh, the first:

"Saying the nation is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that would ''startle'' most Americans, President Bush on Monday outlined his energy proposals to help wean the country off foreign oil."

So--was this another "checkout line scanner moment*" or a sort of secret plan to end the war on oil addiction?

Having a bad day. Sorry. I'll shut up now.

* Credit to Hulmut at phronesisaical for that word image.

my money is on the checkout theroy.
shouldn't that be TrueGestapo?
It's not like he increased funding-- he just stopped a cut. I mean it's nice that we  have decided to not tune out the white elephant in our living room-- but maybe we should try addressing it?

I will be impressed when Bush says the C-word.

I don't expect to be impressed.

Of course, even if he did attempt to say it, it would probably come out "conversation" or something horrible like that.
So, they are putting a few million into RESEARCH of an energy loser when we're at peak? I feel better.
Coincidence?? I suppose Bush's next announcement will be we're at peak oil, get use to it!!  
reno, with all due respect, that is what is being said here. Which is the point. Positions of the peak-oil crowd and the Bush people are not that far apart. Neither one can figure out WTF is going on or WTF to do. When I say "can't figure out" - I mean can't settle on any definition or plan of attack. I can refine this statement for any who wish it. But that's the long and the short of it. Blind leading the blind. The peak-oil movement has been a failure due to no other reason than its leadership.
I was first a mite shocked by your statement, then I rationalised it so: perhaps they (both) do but can't see any way of saying it in a convincing and acceptable way to the masses.

Whenever I have raised the PO topic with (mostly) intelligent people few have shown any interest. We in the PO community have been a failure so far if judged by our effect on mass perception and global policy. I do not, however, think that failure is due to leadership or for want of trying. I'd guess that avoidance and denial are more likely reasons.

There is, nor need there be, any 'plan of attack'. We should continue to analyse and understand things and seek to inform people. We are, after all, not a political party, yet ;)

NREL is not the only national lab that has laid off staff particularly suited to dealing with the current situation. Berkeley Lab (LBNL) recently laid off nearly half its team of experts who work on energy efficiency technology and standards for DOE. DOE apparently thought the private sector could do a better job. Such timing.
Well, I suppose the asshole who is our President couldn't tour the NREL facility while people were picking up boxes and cleaning out their desks. So, magically, the funding there was restored. He didn't go to Berkeley.
Am I the only one a little nervous that someone like Bush is suddenly going around the country trying to promote things like wood chips and switch grass?

Does he know something we don't?

Well, some of believe peak is now, plus or minus a year or two. So I would say he just has to have approximately the same beliefs as us to be breaking out the ethanol, renewables, clean coal, etc...

What's interesting to me is that I think the rest of the right wing is slightly stunned and hasn't quite figured out what to do.

Stuart, I can just imagine the conversations going on in the Houston country clubs right about now ...

"Switch grass? What's that Bush boy talking about?"

They are still laughing over the previous incarnations like:

Great Uniter


The Education President

The key question is whether he believe his own timeline (product rollout in 2025).
Answering a question at his Energy Conference last September,
Roscoe Bartlett said Bush was aware of the implications of Peak Oil, but was distracted by more immediate issues.  We haven't seen much actual acknowledgement of PO from the White House, but I think they are aware of the situation.  And as someone posted, I think they have a plan that will leave most of us wanting.
Completely agree Donal. I have been running around my area telling local officials - "look, even an oil and gas sponsored president is talking about reducing fossil fuel dependency" and what I get are a mix of alternative fuel ideas...

No one is talking about actual ways to reduce overall energy consumption, just switching from one fuel to another...as if it were that simple.

But I think this will change as the price goes higher and at least we can start debating the technical merits of different solutions...

It should be clear to everyone by now after Katrina and Rita that "most of us" are not a high priority for Bush or his coterie of security obseesed neo-cons, ultra-rich executives, and coupon clippers.  I view these modest efforts as window dressing sending the "I care" message, while the Administration's real efforts in Foreign Affairs and  National Security, (directed as much inside the U.S. as outside), as an increased effort to preserve party hegemony and stifle dissent and political change. Faced with the knowledge of impending resource depletion and the resulting social dislocations, the Bush administration (Cheney/Rumsfeld in particular)have strengthened their barriers.  Read Jane Mayer's piece in next week's New Yorker for a view of their response to internal objections to torture for a clear view of their values.
I feel thrilled AND chilled as I hear more news about alternatives.

Thrilled because the average American (whatever that means) is finally being introduced to what lies ahead.  Not sure if I should call it 'prepared' or 'tenderized'.

Chilled because the President would not be announcing any 'green' proposals if circumstances weren't compelling him to do so.  The image in my head is that of the T. Rex in Jurassic Park as it closes in on the vehicle.  Unfortunately, reality's mirror is not conveniently labeled with the caveat that, "Objects in Mirror are Closer than they Appear."  Who wants to be a snack?

IWIK (I Wish I Knew) the true PO closure rate [demand growth, supply growth, depletion rates when that starts up in earnest] and the true societal acceleration rates [alternatives scale up, telecommuting, {gasp} REDUCTION OF WANTS {/gasp}].  Remember, 'acceleration' can be a change in direction as well as magnitude.

Announcements like this provide excellent starting points for PO conversations.  I had one last night with a fellow soccer dad.  On the plus side, I understand his take on reality.  On the minus side, I understand his take on reality.  For The Record (FTR - gotta like acronyms) he believes, firmly and unequivocally, that there are vast reserves "out there" that "they" just aren't telling "us" about, yet.  We were talking about a NASCAR race and I couldn't resist the bridge to the question, "Should NASCAR be permitted to continue in a world of decreasing oil supplies?"  The look I got in return was priceless!  

I find it at once fascinating and scary that my fellow 'Mericans have boundless beliefs in some very indefensible positions (at least logically and scientifically).  But never a single word about "LESS".  Less driving, less stuff, less frenetic motion.

NASCAR, Indy, F1, Monster Trucks, Moto-cross, Air Shows, Stock Car, Racing Rigs, LeMans, Dragsters, Funny Cars, Snowmobiles, Jet-Skis, Superbikes, Cigarette Boats, Paris-Dakar, World Rally...

Take your pick : )

Regarding Bush's motives on energy policy: Frank Gaffney and Company want to attack Iran because, they claim, Iran is preparing to destroy the U.S. with an EMP weapon.  He's just come out with a book called War Footing describing the steps necessary for the next phase of the "clash of civilizations."  Step Three is to dramatically reduce dependence on petroleum (because any threat to set the Middle East on fire is an empty one so long as we are dependent on oil).  Gaffney supports the politically diverse "Set America Free" coalition which backs "plug-in hybrids."  Check out www.WarFooting.com.  Bush is more likely to be getting talking points from Gaffney than from Carl Pope.  For information only; this is not an endorsement!
...want to attack Iran because, they claim, Iran is preparing to destroy the U.S. with an EMP weapon.
That would be perhaps the Euro Marketed Petroleum weapon?
Is it just me, or is 5 million bucks a miniscule amount? C'mon guys, what is a day in Iraq costing these days? Get orders of magnitude right. What's the research budget on arms at right now ... ?

No comment on the focus topics. Part of me thinks they should be putting research money into novel methods of riot control, clean cremation technologies and splicing humans with camels so our grandkids can live on a cup of water a week.

Sorry, one can get facetious in the PO world...

May I suggest a new metric for all this, something the people will easily grasp.  Not millions or billions- who knows what that means- but things like SODA POPS  (the amount we spend/yr on same) or DIET PILLS, or ATTACK SUBS, and so on. So that for example, Bush would say "Citizens, I am today proposing that we spend 5% of a SODA POP on renewable energy".  That would get 'em cheering real good.
I agree this seems like a small amount, not only the amount of money, but 8 researchers and 24 support staff?  And they are spread accross 3 areas - biofuels, solar, hydrogen.  When I first heard of the cuts right after the state of the union I pictured a research facility of thousands being cut.

I go back to the Manhattan Project/Apollo Program comparisons and think of the people and dollars involved in those programs.  We have a crisis looming that will require a project of great magnitude, and we have a team of 8 working on it, and $5 million.  Both of these are blips compared to what needs to be done.  How much will it cost and how many people will be involved just for the president to visit the site?

It seems there is more reseach potential from the spare brain power of the people posting on this site then what our government is putting on this alternative energy program.

As far as the Soda comment. . .

PepsiCo is expected to report on Thursday fourth-quarter profit rose 13 percent to $1.1 billion, or 65 cents a share, on demand for Gatorade and Aquafina and Frito-Lay snacks, according to the average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. Sales probably increased 8 percent to $9.5 billion.

And for Coke. . .

For the full year, net operating revenues increased 6 percent to $23.1 billion, reflecting 3 percent increase in gallon sales, 2 percent currency benefit and 1 percent favorable impact from pricing and mix.

So, just the big two had $32.6 billion in sales, and the US is directing $5 million, or 0.015 % of soda sales.  5% - now that would be real money - $1.63 Billion.

There is a lot of research going on in the world. In every renewable sector. This is already a business with turnovers of billions of Euros (or whatever else) and which makes profits.

The critical mass has been achieved for this industry, which is maybe or probably a compellent basis innovation of Kontratieff's sixth economic long wave. matthias, berlin

A 'lot' of researchers?  Maybe a lot in Berlin or in Helsinki, but not in Springfield or Albuquerque (sp?)..  The US is all but ignoring this question, and it wouldn't take that much national attention at all to see how much can be done to fend off some of these coming shocks.  Look how fast California dropped their consumption when they had to during the Rolling B0's.

Don't know the economic theory that suggests why we're at some kind of 'Critical Mass' for energy research.. I just know I am surrounded by Chronically UNCritical Masses.

Jokuhl. The aim of R&D is to invent new technology which is better to use. Everything which is invented can be produced in the end. No matter if it is in Bejing, Seattle oder Madrid. So if a japanese company develops more efficient solar cells, then these will work as well with sunlight in Arizona.

The idea of critical mass, maybe I it is not possible to use this phrase in english. Once a economic branch has reached a certain size, it attracts more invested money. For example, some companies which produce solar cells in Germany have grown very swiftly in recent years (and in the same time shares in parts 100 fold). You will agree, a company with a bigger market and already a big market has more weight to finance its investment and of course has more money to do r&d for being competive in future.

So if there are rolling blackouts in places like California and people react, they use technology whhich is available because it is already developed (for instance energy efficient refrigerators)

Thanks for those numbers.  Now I have a standard answer for the folks who say that this or that energy move is "too expensive".  I will say, for example,  such and such a move costs 1/70th of a standard SP, meaning soda pop. A thing  that nobody in a right mind would argue is in any meaningful way "needed".  So far, by the way,  the Iraq war has cost about 12 SP,s and is going strong.

Maybe somebody can suggest an even more obviously useless big expense that we accept thoughtlessly while rejecting cheaper and vastly more needed alternatives.

I think a week in Iraq is about $1.2 Billion, so divide by 7 and you get $171,428,571.43per day.  The Iraq number really gives perspective when people start throwing numbers around.
Correction: $1.6 billion per week (per CBO estimates) or about
$228,571,428.57 per day.  Give or take :-)
Jim Puplava @ financialsense says that addicted to oil was purely tossed in for political cover; and as Stuart says I think many  are puzzled( other than those very few aware of peak).Talk about backing into dealing with an issue- sending $ on the way there. Can you imagine the morale( I can with announced layoffs where I work in community mental health) but the Pres is there for photos. He/they must be really worried and when gas is 3-5/gal.or shortages  he can say I..... It will be interesting to see how well he covers up the real story especially if he is really scared- a test of his political training vs. his tell the truth religiosity.  On the other hand he may be in the alternatives-delusion stage.  
His WHAT religiosity?
LOL, and much appreciated
I eagerly await to be startled. I hope it will be NPT compliant and that it can be freely exported.
The acronym NPT? What does it mean?
Nashville Public Television
I Googled "NPT" to find out if I made a mistake. Seems Google thinks its OK. "Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] A comprehensive guide to the control of weapons of mass destruction. www.fas.org/nuke/control/npt/ - 7k" Or can also be, National Pipe Thread
I have to say that quite a number of Bush's decissions were startling to me. But that is an entirely different discussion :)
Just in case we thought it was all just Bush shortsightedness, in Canada (where I'm a professor in mechanical engineering working on alternative fuels, among other things), I worked on a project focused on designing the "automobile of the 21st century" and we had to compete for the money against guys proposing research in asthetics of design, noise control in the car interior and other lame BS that isn't going to save our shorts when the chips are down.

In projects related to combustion of biofuels and hydrogen, we received about 70k CDN$/year (yes kids, I said seventy piddly thousand).

I also work on an oilsands project and I can tell you, there is no shortage of cash in those projects...

In case you haven't been keeping track, whenever Bush holds a photo op, they bring in the props to make it look good.  This was perhaps at its most disgusting during the hurricanes.  Restoring the funding for the researchers was more of the same.  Again, like most of what is said by these people, it means nothing.

Underneath the surface of the mud, there's more mud.

Unless I disremember my history.

LBJ tried to fight a war on poverty and a war in Vietnam at the same time.  He didn't succeed at either but the war sucked all the money out of domestic programs.

Bush and Co. are trying to fight a war on terrorism in Iraq and stimulate the economy through tax breaks.  I see no data to date that this strategy is working.  I see Bush heading the same place as LBJ, no money to do anything domestically.  The difference is that Bushies don't really believe in government being able to do anything so it hasn't bothered them to date.  It might, if we are truly on the backside of the peak.

The point is that there isn't going to be real money, or focus, on domestic problems as long as we are fighting a war.  Even with surging energy prices there isn't going to be enough money to fight a war in Iraq and a war on energy consumption at home.  We as a nation are going to have to make a choice.  I don't see the country ready to make that choice yet.  We (most TOD posters excepted)still believe we can do both.

I agree
War and massive deficits actually are stimulating the economy. The growth is massively uneven and the labor market sucks, but GDP actually is increasing.
First off, the very name Department of Energy (DOE) is an outright misnomer.

As most of you probably know, one of its primary functions is to develop, produce, and maintain nuclear weapons and the infrastructure used to produce fissile materials. It would be far more accurate to call it the Department of Nuclear Weapons Development and Production (DMWDP), but that doesn't have a very upbeat ring to it, does it?

It would be most instructive to compare the amount of DOE money that is actually going toward alternative energy development and demonstration to the total DOE budget. Do you have a magnifying glass?

I bet the amount would buy you more than a handful of Black Hawk helicopters and Abrams Tanks.


Should be "....would NOT buy you more than than a handful of Black Hawk helicopters and Abrams tanks."

The DOE? What about "Weapons of Mass Destruction Development Related Activities Department" ... umm let's see, that would be WMDDRAD.
Bush just needs a new talking point.  No one believes the "I'll talk to the Saudis and get more oil" anymore.  Knowing Bush's MO he won't even spend that pittance he talked about.  The GOP will cut it when no one is looking.
The Bush-push on energy is not hard to figure.  It's just another Change the Topic move by Karl.   He's tired of reading Evil Chaney, Iraq Implodes, Stop Spying on Us, etc., etc.  Karl is all about managing the news cycle and this is how he does it.  Send Georgie Boy up on his big plane to talk about something vaguely positive.
This is true too ... but the "connection" between gas price worries today and all these plans that pay off in 2025 has to break soon.  Doesn't it?
No, it doesn't.  There will be another crisis and another distraction.  Besides Bush & Cheney are gone in less than two years.  The real challenge is in holding onto the White House and what the next president is left with.

The Elections of 2000 and 2004 will look like the Madhatter's Tea Party compared to what the Republicans will throw at Hilary Clinton or any other Democrat.

Well, I'm obviously talking out of my butt and per yesterday's thread I actually think this is inherently unpredictable.  But as some sort of if/then fuzzy logic ... it seems to me that if gasoline prices break $3 again this summer, then people will have less patience with these far-future solutions.

They'll have to notice (talking out of my butt) that saying "Our nation is on the threshold of new energy technology that I think will startle the American people" is not consistent with a 2025 timeline.

Perhaps Bush & Co. will propose the elimination of the 2 term presidency rule and we could have him around for X more years.  Either that or Jeb will run (I wonder if he would take Florida).
Unfortunately, it's almost 3 years before the next president is inauguarated in Jan '09 - that's if we continue to have elections.
You're right.  And I thought the light at the end of the tunnel was sooner and might not be an oncoming train.

 "Continue to hold elections" perhaps assumes that 2000 and 2004 were bona fide Presidential elections.  So perhaps we should talk about "resuming" elections in 2008.  Having served as an election observer I will say that state election laws are more apaque than many realize, and that's without getting into the issue of the opaqueness of Diebold administered computer assisted elections.

No assumption of bona fide elections involved - just that, since Bush can't run again under current rules, we will have another president, perhaps just as illegitimate.
Maybe you pay too much attention to my maybe insane ramblings, but maybe you are right to; I don't know, at least I hope I don't.

My best advice is to find your own ways to perceiving what might be true, it will always be a useful skill. There does seem to be something, somewhere, that can be tapped into that may reveal something about how things are and may be. Is that delusion or not? It can only be judged by results, I'd say, I am not sure, sceptic could be my middle name LOL, but I find it worthy of further research.

I'm a big believer in "small science"

I think that a whole bunch of grants in the $10K - $100K range to profs in state schools, who each have a handful of graduate students, gives huge leverage on a whole range of problems.

This isn't to say all science funding should be to small science, but a good slug of it.

What you really need for that to work though is a few people who are good at making non-partisan research bets, and let them farm out the money.

We are so far from this today ... with congresscritters handing out big science grants to institutions with political pull.

If you're listening congress ... change now! (must have been channeling Stephen Colbert for a moment)

I think we are out of time already. It's midway through the first quarter of 2006, and our corrupt government has yet to admit there is an oil problem, much less Peak Oil. They are determined on following through with the military presence option to guarantee access, as it is the only option they have any comfort level with. OK - now they suddenly admit that we have a Peak Oil problem in late 2006 - we're either already on the downslope or else we're 36 months from 2010 if the government goons get the date right.

Outside of the real wars (WWI & II) and the Apollo project, government has always been the slowest and least effective method of delivering anything. Even during the real World Wars, it was the least efficient. This refunding of the NREL is complete BS - it's simply a stunt to buy time and then lay them off later out of the spotlight, during some other "crisis".

Other things are going to curtail our options - this link just further illustrates what the rest of the world is thinking with respect to our domestic and international initiatives:


If you look, you can find similar articles published in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, and from various institutions and think tanks in Europe. The price of gold inching up should be a huge indicator that key people believe we are heading for some type of currency crisis. Everybody here already knows we have an oil delivery problem, and that the exact date of Peak Oil is really unimportant - we are there now, for all practical purposes, because we are out of time for the alternatives to be force-fed cash and grown in time to offset the shortages. When a couple of hurricanes can send the price of oil up by 20%, then we are essentially there due to inelastic supply.

We are beginning the process of eating each other in the oil patch - smaller private companies are quietly being purchased, large companies are shedding smaller prospects and going elephant hunting internationally and in the Gulf of Mexico deep water. It started out the same way 20 years ago, and the landscape was changed dramatically in about 5 years, even though the reasons were different.

This government will do nothing that isn't critical to maintaining power - but it will give unfunded lip service and PR to anything in order to quiet detractors and the press. The Federal government isn't going to be the solution to Peak Oil - it is already part of the problem. Local solutions are the only option - to wait for the Federal government to respond is simply to wait for gas rationing or some other well tried method of forced conservation, when politicians themselves begin having trouble obtaining gas.

Only a severe crisis merits response from this administration, and even Katrina wasn't a severe crisis - as we have all seen, nothing has changed since the storm. No new levees, no temp housing, nothing except that New Orleans has become a "chocolate city", illegal aliens are getting all the reconstruction work via big shell companies, and acres of empty trailers sit around bought with our money while the homeless camp out in what's left of their homes.....

Don't wait for the federal government - you will be waiting in vain. They will never deliver an answer - just look at the responses from their officials in recent hearings. Power is what they want, and all they strive for. The handwriting is all over the world - get ready...

Have to agree with you. For the immediate crises we face, research begun now is irrelevant.

However, having said that, we have enough amply proven technology on the shelf:
Nuclear energy. (I've noticed a division into two populations on TOD; those who see the obvious need for a big investment in nuclear energy and those who [apparently] cannot do algebra.)

Liquid fuels from coal. Proven large-scale technology of Sasol Corp. in South Africa. Reliable, solid, easy to replicate--based on technology proven by Germany in 1943-45. Possible to do somewhat in a clean manner, though that increases costs.

Ethanol from biomass using simple, reliable, proven technology from Russia. They have been doing it for more than thirty years bigtime. For a small fee I am certain that the Russian engineers would be delighted to come over here and show us how to replicate their somewhat inefficient but very workable technology.

Wind-power generated electricity: To a large extent the Danes and Germans and Swedes associated with this system have worked the bugs out of a large-scale use of wind turbines. The technology is THERE. It works. There is a lot of potential electricity we can profitably generate from wind. Let's go there.

Now I am not saying that we should stop doing research. What I assert is that it is horribly counterproductive to wait for research on better pump technology as the Titanic sinks. The time for massive investment in alternative energy is now, and if G.W. Bush's advisers are clever they will figure out some humongous tax breaks and other measures to get very large scale investement started by the fourth of July--this year.

I don't think he has any advisors except political ones. Seriously. I don't think he has any advisors, anybody to look at currency, energy, logistics, primary or secondary industry, etc. They talk to his political people who filter out anything except politics.
You may be correct. However, somebody gave him an idea about switchgrass, and I suspect it was not a lawyer or political-science major. Bush apparently is not a bad listener, but the problem is that for much of his life he has been listening to people such as Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Even into the most limited and narrow-minded and insulated minds a good idea may occasionally penetrate.


I'm inclined to agree with your analysis. Overshoot in: dependence on oil and fossil fuels, population, other resource usage, agricultural production - are imminent.

Unless these things impact slowly, the 'slow squeeze' SS sees as probable but I think optimistic, there will be catastrophic disruption. Sometimes I think a quick nuclear cull might be in the best interests of this species and this planet, it would be less painful than most other routes. But sometimes I think I am sick to think so.

Even if all available resources (which might equate to halving US personal wealth) were devoted to solving this problem it may be insufficient.

I do know we have no easy way out.

If there anyway will be a die-off it is probably least painfull for the world population if some major industrialized country fubars completely and becomes a warning example for the rest of the industrialized world motivating them to work day and night with solving PO problems in a constructive manner.

There is no rapid contraction scenario that is morally acceptable. Even a depression would with depression and worse living conditions kill thousands of people in industrialized countries with functioning economical aid and millions in thirld world countries that few people in rich countries care about. (Like North Korea)

Moral acceptability is not a necessary condition.

Current global population is 6.5 billion, projected to be about 9 billion in 2050. If you knew the actual global population in 2050 will be 5 billion, how would you get there? Now I'll be realistic, how about 3 billion?

There are no 'nice' answers, there are probably no 'acceptable' answers. But the question will answer itself, our only choice is whether we contribute to the answer in a rational or chaotic way. Are we thinking monkeys or lemming monkeys?

I can not save the world but I can help a little together with my friends, community and country. A lot more then the current population in my country can live of our countries resources if we trade a lot. There is also room for people to move to us. But if this is threathened we will of course man the machine guns, both for ourselves and to not let down our trading partners.

Those that have will try to protect what they have, those that have nothing will be desperate, I find neither action that follows from this especially morally wrong.

Regarding bad moral I would list:
Hoarders who do not trade.
Religious and other leaders who hinder their population to modernize. How manny billions the world can support depends on knowledge and work, not only oil.
People who advocate unefficient resource use.

And if you are going to wallow in your riches as I would do at least do it with stuff that lasts and a biomass heated jacuzzi. I am not an ascetic saint and I do not expect others to be such even if it would add 10% to our planets carrying capacity.

I think most of us are greedy monkeys with a capacity for compassion.

This morning the chattering monkeys on CNN were talking a little bit about NREL and alternative fuels.  They interviewed a woman who was an editor for an automotive trade rag of some sort (Autoworld or some such).

I was quite surprised to hear them start talking about hydrogen of all things.  They asked her whether she thought the goal of having hydrogen fuel cell cars by the year 2020 was realistic, and she actually said yes.

The woman at one point did make passing reference to rewewable sources of energy and zero polution as the ultimate goal.

When talk of the hydrogen economy first started to appear, my first thought (shared by many) was that this was really just a gift to his friends in the oil and gas industry.  As I think about this more however, my thinking is that this is being positioned as a way to continue the status quo in a post-petroleum world.  There is no talk of conservation.  No talk of driving less or getting more fuel efficient cars.  The idea that they are selling is that we will be living lives just like we live now except that we would all drive hydrogen cars.  

In theory we could purchase green hydrogen, but in practice we would purchase petro-hydrogen until it runs out.

They will never bring up the "C" word, and that is the best indicator that they're not serous.

Conservation is the area with the most potential in the short term.  Any approach to these issues that comes from only the source side is a fraud.  I'll wager that any $ one would consider spending would have greater return if spent on reducing energy requirements than if it were spent on alternative sources.  

No, this is all distraction - "You won't have to change anything, we've got it all under control.  Don't worry about those scary energy stories; we'll switch to hydrogen and alcohol.  Please resume shopping."

My speculation is that this is the Karl Rove method of breaking the peak oil news to everyone, and it's actually quite politically astute. Every politician vividly remembers what happened to Jimmy Carter. Advocating conservation to the American public, or ramming it down their throat with laws, is like standing in front of a fast moving train and yelling at it to stop. The train might slow a bit, but the politician is definitely going to get mown down.

They probably realize conservation is important but they are figuring that market prices will impose it. In the meantime, they're going to focus relentlessly on the positive and on what things we can actually do so they look dynamic and like they are helping the situation.

Not a bad plan if they actually folllow through...

Of course the problem with this administration is that they are good at playing politics but suck at execution of any sizeable government task.

If you're right, Stuart, then they must know that all the cornucopian free-market oil blather being thrown around, apparently sincerely, by a lot of their political allies is bull. TODers have come to that conclusion in our own ways, of course, but I can't see Karl Rove going that route (or lurking at TOD). So I wonder: do CIA, NSA, etc. actually have a line on what's behind the OPEC reserves fiction?
CIA, NSA, etc. are wholly owned subsidiaries of OPEC.
You don't spy on your boss.
You spy on Americans!
You make sure they're
keepin' on sippin' on
those holy oils
of our addict

Telling an addict he's addicted only makes him want to have more.

More likely they believed everything they said about maintaining the American "way of life" and "conservation as a personal virtue" when they said that stuff a few years ago.

But they got caught flat-footed by Chinese economic growth.

Now that have a gap between their previous beliefs (and profit model) and future economic conditions.  We might have gobbled up the next piece of Hubbert's curve with our economic might ... had not all these other folks gotten rich too.

Really, if they saw a need for lower "oil intensity" in the US economy, they could have done so many more gentle things to edge it along.

Instead we've got this gap, and plans that pay off in 2025, because they thought they had no worries until then.

>They probably realize conservation is important but they are figuring that market prices will impose it. In the meantime, they're going to focus relentlessly on the positive and on what things we can actually do so they look dynamic and like they are helping the situation.

Conservation wouldn't do much if the countries like China and India consume the oil that we saved with conservation. It unlikely that international agreement could be signed that decrease oil consumption globally. The Kyoto treaty was essential a cap on energy consumption and it failed miserably. Low oil prices created by conservation by the US would probably accelerate international growth and increase global oil dependancy as emerging market countries modernize their infrastructure.

IMHO the best way to decrease global oil consumption is a global recession, but I doubt any political leaders would consider that an option.

I too was a bit mystified at Bush's latest energy initiative so I went to whitehouse.gov and read Saturday's radio address and his recent speeches.

I had also listened to his State of the Union address and it all seems to fit together.

First of all, the grand strategy is to help the Democrats look like the leftist radicals most of them are.  He's clearly running to the center and is pre-empting some of the Democratic Party's more moderate positions in preparation for the mid-term elections.  The overall political trends are definitely away from the liberal and toward the conservative in the US (and most Western democracies) and he is eager to pull as many moderate Democrats over to the Republican Party as feasible.

His positions on energy are one example.  Comparing "switch grass" and nuclear power in the same sentence tells me his is a political position, not a clear technical policy statement.

Ultimately, what will make a difference will be his strong encouragement of nuclear power for electricity in the near term and for hydrogen production in the intermediate term (20 to 40 years).  He is also formally pushing nuclear fuel recycling and actinide burning on a multinational basis.

My analysis is here:


Russia will be happy since it gives them a big new market for their uranium, for spent fuel reprocessing, and for waste disposal that the US had previously opposed.

Senator Reid will be pissed since it takes away his favorite scare tactic with his constituants - Yucca Mountain.

As to NREL, they have always been more a liberal think tank funded by taxpayer dollars than a real research outfit.  When I look at their research agenda, I see a bunch of lefty cranks.  Good riddance!

"First of all, the grand strategy is to help the Democrats look like the leftist radicals most of them are."

LOL!  Ha, thanks for the laugh.  If only that were true there might be a little hope.  You must really be drinking the Kool-Aid to believe such an obviously false assertion. Seriously - you were joking right?

I liked your analysis.

My only objection is that since it is the government that is going to build the reprocessing plant you may need to multiply the 20 billion figure by a factor of 3. Better make it 5.

As a leftist radical, I resent your association with the present Democratic Party, who are quite conservative as far as I'm concerned.  But what I think you were really getting at was environmentalists, who you obviously regard as the enemy given your support for nuclear power.  I'm one of those too, but you may be surprised to find that I support nuclear power, at least in concept - I'd far rather have that than the damage that fossil fuels will (are) do, and I don't see any technology that has enough capacity to replace oil (other than coal).  In practice however, funding for new nuclear power plants will go to large corporations (Halliburton or equiv) run by the cronies of whatever corrupt government we happen to have.  These malignancies are far more wasteful and inefficient than the actual government ever dreamed of being (it's hard to be more wasteful than actual theft).
I'm really astonished that people accept the hydrogen prediction.  It still needs three miracles (economic production of the gas on the scale for 200+ million cars, storage suitable for 200+ mile range, and a fuel cell that is cheap enough and long-lasting enough for production).

But I won't press harder on this here.  I'd encourage folks to cross-read books on the history of innovation, with reports on the strengths/weaknesses of the hydrogen program.

(Hint: we get many innovations, but our ability to "call" those innovations decades in advance is basically nil.)

And after the three miracles, some way to get 2-3 trillion dollars of infrastructure in hydrogen transport and service stations to magically appear, preferably in less than 50 years.
Joseph J. Romm, "The Hype About Hydrogen," is a good book by an environmentally concerned and technically competent guy who worked in the Clinton Administration (Office of Technology Assessment, I think). The title is a bit misleading, because he's actually in favor of using hydrogen in some kinds of stationary energy generation. But he's very very clear on why hydrogen's not going anywhere as a transportation fuel.
" to help the Democrats look like the leftist radicals most of them are"

That is probably one of the funniest things I have read here at TOD in a long time.  There are so few "leftist radicals" in the U.S. you could probably fit them all into a small convention center in Hoboken NJ (that is if they bring their children).  

Certainly, many Democrats are some sort of liberal in the Benthamite tradition (sans an effective civil service -- but that's another story).  Certainly, most elected Democrats (and a fair share of non-Christofascist Republicans) are good ol' free-market liberals.  Thus, good government from both (productive) sides of the aisle is a non-starter.  Figuring out ways to let the private sector do its thing is what most elected officials (and all but those few Americans conventioning in Hoboken) believe deep in the marrow of their bones.  So, no the US will NEVER produce some massive government sponsored program to change the way we power the economy.  The most we can hope for is some seed money for small demonstration projects, and targeted tax breaks to companies who promise to be the ones to make a difference going forward.

Bush and his crewe making carnivalesque rounds to small research firms touting the benefits of switch grass is good politics and well within what most Americans want -- small government expenditures in R&D and large government tax breaks to the companies who have what they assume to be the expertise and innovative capacity to bring about additional energy in the most efficient manner possible.

"Leftist radicals" would be campaigning for the confiscation of all oil&gas related revenues from even the most remotely linked corporation and the creation of a government Department of Sustainable Energy (DSE) who would be responsible for the "proper" allocation of said funds to ensure the harmonious development of our future energy needs.  I don't believe that will be on the Democrats' election year talking points.  But, I suspect it will be the topic of the keynote address given in Hoboken....

Good point that "leftists" would be calling for nationalization.

It is also amusing that the "conservative" position is centered on "nationalized" programs in switchgrass, hydrogen cars, and nuclear energy.

(Actually, they attempt to appear moderate by a creating a veneer of such programs, even as they leave the real outcome to the market.)

Amusing, but not surprising.  I fully expect a sharp swing to the left when TSHTF.  The Great Depression built the "big government" that conservatives like to rail against, and I expect it to happen again when peak oil really starts to bite.

We saw it with Hurricane Katrina.  People of all political stripes demanded that government do something.  The federal government took the brunt of the blame for the disaster, and the Bush administration still hasn't recovered from the political damage.  The conservative answers - individuals should have prepared better, let private charities take care of it, etc. - didn't fly.  

Related to this 'swing to the left' (then do-se-do your partner..)
As more big businesses such as airlines, that are perceived as being essential for the country to function, go bankrupt, there will be a de-facto nationalization. When a company is in chapter-11 it is, at least on paper, run by a bankruptcy court (a branch of the gummint). We are liable to see lots of essential businesses being taken over by the gummint in this manner. Even down to the local 'waste management' companies that were privatized a few years back. People out of work won't be able to pay the garbage bill but we, the local gummint, can't let the garbage pile up, so keep them garbage trucks running...
I agree.  I expect the airlines to be first.  They've never really been profitable without government support, anyway.  Eventually, we'll be down to one airline, government-owned.

And maybe the government will take over GM, and use it manufacture their hydrogen cars.  No one will be able to afford them, but that won't matter if the company is government owned.

OK, so "leftist radical" was a bit over-the-top but I said that for effect. Joe Lieberman I can work with; Nancy Pelosi I can't.

The point is that the President has quite effectively stole most of the liberals' energy talking points without overcommitting from a conservative's (or pragmatist's) point of view.  

What he hasn't proposed is tax-and-spend initiatives like higher gasoline taxes which everyone but the intellectuals hates.

In the words of G. H. W. Bush - "Read my lips."  

Think G.W. Bush remembers that line?

As to hydrogen, its use as a transport fuel does NOT require fuel cells.  Hydrogen will burn in conventional internal combustion engines without major modifications (except the fuel storage and delivery subsystems).  Fuel cells are a diversionary side issue, IMHO.

Frankly, in my review, direct production and use of hydrogen for personal and public transport is doable and at capital and operating costs that are certainly not staggering for the economic system as a whole.  That said, there may be cheaper alternatives like nuclear-assisted CTL if one does not make GHG emissions a top priority.

Bush is clearly and publicly pushing the domestic auto industry to support hybrids.  I imagine that behind closed doors the executives at GM and Ford are getting a "shape up or ship out" message and an offer of a deal they can't refuse.  And it will be much more powerful than CAFE.

This guy is good, very good.  He'll go down as one of our greatest presidents.

In short, the president supported every solution available, except those that could work.

Let's be realistic - electrolysis efficiency is 70%; Petroleum provides 40% of our energy, nuclear - 5%. If we burn hydrogen instead of gasoline we're going to need 11.4 times the nuclear power we have now. Possible? Yes, but not by 2020. Probably 2050 as a best case.

In short without conservation it will not work. There are many realtively easy, politically feasible solutions in that direction (tighter CAFE standarts, electric railroads, mass transit) we do not see in even an embrionic state. That's why I think you were right on target when you said it. Talking. Points. Talking.

The term 'embryonic' has stuck in my mind.
Here is how the democrats should steal the thunder form Bush's ethanol bender:

Someone (Ted Kennedy) needs to get on camera, lay out the program spending (and cuts) reguarding energy during the Bush administration, and accuse Bush of, "aborting the embryo that is alternative energy".

Methinks it would get some MSM coverage...

If they want to win the elections they can paint a picture of the Iraq war expenses compared to those for alternative energy etc. The public would be given free lenses for those willing to locate the alternative energy graph.

I think that the biggest cynism of ortodoxal right wingers is how they keep repeating "less government" all the time except when it comes to wars. Then it turn out that sometimes government can spend ridiculous amounts of money for something that has none economical reason in it.

We could easily produce hydrogen (or methanol) using point or line focus photovoltaic electrolysis to power our cars by 2012. That's six years away. How long does it take to build a factory for the concentrators and a silicon crystal plant for the photovoltaics? Two years? Three?
It's not like we're going to run out of desert in Nevada. Or Libya.
You ask:

How long does it take to build a factory for the concentrators and a silicon crystal plant for the photovoltaics? Two years? Three?

I like mathematical exercises so I made this one:

1) World total installed photovoltic capacity (2005):
5,300 MW. According to the analysis here a solar dish Stirling generator combined with an alkaline electrolyzer has an efficiency of 18.8% as shown in this graph:

Solar panels have almost the same efficiency - about 15% so I'll simplify the calculations and will assume we are going to produce hydrogen with solar panels only.

  1. Let's we imagine this factory will be able to produce yearly as much solar panels as we have currently installed in the world (current value $26.5 billion). If we have (also optimistic) 20% solar availability the net average solar power produced by these solar panels would be 1060 MW.

  2. Currently USA is using 9 mln.barrels of gasoline per day, equvelent to 630 000 MW. when burnt. We are going to burn the hydrogen too, so I'm assuming no efficiency gains.

And the answer to your question is 630 000 / 1060 = after 594 years, or by the year of 2600. Even fueling a modest 10% of our car fleet would take 60 years. Not 6.
I knew you were an optimist!
I see your mistake. You forgot to figure on compound increase in solar cell production. You know, the year to year increase going on now. It's 24% or something, so a three year doubling time means that if all the world's gasoline supplies were provided by solar, it wouldn't be till about 30 years.
I agree that FuelCells are a red herring, but so is Hydrogen itself.  Too energy-intensive to create/store, and though Hydrogen will burn, it will also leak.  We're way off from having H2 on the shelves.

Nuclear- how does it add up as a bargain, or even as affordable?

  • The energy costs of mining/refining and reclaiming weapons-fuels,
  • The Energy costs and timeframe of building new Reactors,  - No safe and acceptable waste solution,
  • and do 'WE the People' still pick up the check for Insuring the whole mess?

(Besides the dangers of Terrorism,  Having Overcentralised Power Infrastructures and Question of Proven Uranium Stores)

Does the Market get to decide this one, or is it a job for big government, spending my money?

"He'll go down as one of our greatest presidents."  
Well, he's already gone down a ways.  There's the first part.

Hydrogen from nuclear is a serious government program - see the DOE page (with links) on the subject:


While I'm willing to say that there are unanswered questions, we're at a spot where we have to pay big money to get real, actionable answers.  It might NOT turn out exactly as planned but the physics and chemistry are sound.  

I'd estimate that maybe 200 nuclear hydrogen plants, scattered about to be near demand would do it.  We have 155 oil refineries already.  H2 cost at the pump would be roughly $3 per gasoline-equivalent gallon - without the taxes - but that's a SWAG on my part.

As to capital requirements, assume your $2.5E12 (2.5 trillion) is correct.  I'd estimate that global oil and gas E&P investment is about $250 billion per year ($2.5E11/year).  If someone has a better number, let me know.  If we're talking a 50 year conversion period (backend loaded, I'll grant), then the investment rate is only 20% of what we're spending now on global E&P.  This is only a scaling calc but ballpark - tough but doable.

As to nuclear power in general:

Can we all agree on a usable, real-world, "consider-the-alternatives" definition of "safe"?  We're using accident analyses' doses above 25 rem/person at 300 feet once in a million reactor years as a standard and the new plants we're designing have even tougher standards.

Likewise, "acceptable" is just passive-aggressive-speak for "no."  "Acceptable" to whom?  The oldest plant in the USA is more than acceptable to me and my family to live at the plant fence.

Currently, the Republican Party has been publicly and openly encouraging to nuclear power for the last three election cycles (at least) and now controls both houses of Congress and the presidency. Congress passed the last pro-nuclear Energy Bill and the President signed it.  

To me, that means more nuclear power is the legitimate policy of the US Government.  If you don't like it, win an election.

It seems to me, in order to get "200 nuclear hydrogen plants" you need to be in tight enough of a spot that public sentiment will change to support this ... but in "not-tight" enough of a spn></hat you still have time to get them on-line.  Catch-22.
Note that hydrogen production reactors will have to be helium-cooled pebble bed type designs that are meltdown-proof.  That means inherently safe as each core would be sized to be coolable using natural ventilation.

Since the design goal for thermochemical hydrogen production is 900 deg C process temperature, today's light water reactors are unsuitable.

Overall conversion efficiency is 100 J of nuclear heat in and 67 J-equivalent of H2 out.  Adding hotel loads, process pumps, compressors, and the like, expect at least a 60% overall efficiency.

Today's nuclear heat in the reactor costs 50 cents/mmBTU.  Pebble bed fuel might be more expensive so assume $1/mmBTU.  That means that H2 out has an production cost of maybe $2/mmBTU or 25 cents per gallon.

With 124,000 BTU/gallon of gasoline and $3/gallon, energy in gasoline costs the consumer $24/mmBTU.

That leaves $22/mmBTU or $2.70 per gallon-equivalent for transportation, distribution and capital costs for H2, not to mention TAXES, to be competititive with current gasoline prices.

Assuming that a nuclear hydrogen plant has the same capacity cost as a nuclear electric plant per energy output - 1 MWelectric = 1 MW-H2, the capital cost for one million barrel per day equivalent hydrogen is $128 billion.  Amortize at 8% over 40 years and the carrying cost is about $11 billion/year.

If we're using 10 MBOE/day, investment in production would equal $1 to 2 trillion.  Distribution and rolling stock would be extra.

If 1 MBOE/day means 15 billion gallons of gasoline equivalent per year, carrying charges at the plant are 70 cents per gallon.

Adding 25 cents/gallon-equivalent uranium energy input plus 70 cents/gallon-equivalent capital costs means H2 at the plant would cost maybe a buck a gallon of gasoline-equivalent.

This back-of-envelope calculation makes me even more optimistic about hydrogen.

Whoops!!!!  Forgot the cost of water!

You probably sorted it out, but a glitch got into my last post, should have been "but in 'not-tight' enough of a spot that you still have time to get them on-line.  Catch-22."

Anyway, I think I can accept the arbitrary idea that 200 nukes are a solution.  But I wonder what happens when only 50 out of 200 survive the planning, funding, and building process.

I wonder what the market price for hydrogen would be in such a situation.

Clarification - It's a common thing for proponents of governement funded fuels (ethanol, hydroge) to calculate "costs of production" ... forgetting that they themselves are market advocates, and that price will ultimately be determined by (low) supply and (high) demand.
My feeling is biofuels and CTL get the first crack. It doesn't matter how much cheaper hydrogen is, from a business perspective it's extremely difficult to displace an existing infrastructure - the new infrastructure has to have an absolutely overwhelming advantage. If biofuels/CTL can keep the cost of liquid fuel below somewhere in the range of $5/gallon, it won't matter if hydrogen is $1/gallon equivalent because the infrastructure barrier is so huge (other than for fleet vehicles maybe).

Using nuclear power to generate a liquid fuel would have a lot more promise, I would think. Are there any such options?


I agree that liquids are much more acceptable to the transport market than gaseous or liquified H2.  I limited my analysis to H2 production since there are hassles yet to be resolved in distribution and end-use.  I have no good idea of the cost differences on that end would be.

Once you have cheap industrial production of hydrogen, you can do lots of things.  Any carbon source can now get converted to liquid hydrocarbon.

I know of no non-carbon-containing combustible liquid (at room temperature).  Does anyone else?

I suspect that rather than turning coal into liquids using coal as the energy source, we'll treat coal with nuclear hydrogen and nuclear process heat.  Hydrogenating carbon has to be endothermic using water as a source.  Pure hydrogen + carbon might be exothermic but not enough to make the hydrogen from water.  The process temperature for C + H2O is the same as H2 production - 900 deg C.

Methanol is another candidate using coal + water but I think toxicity concerns will prevent widespread adaptation.

I would think that an early market prospect for straight hydrogen would be in locomotives.  They are centralized, predictable, and have fewer traffic nodes.

Ammonia. Trust me, you don't want to go there.
Then there's always hydrogen sulfide...

As you state, we don't want to go there:

NOX and SO2 as direct combustion products.

Phosphorus, or ...that's solid at room temps?

WTH!  Solid fuel's OK by me as long as good O-rings come with it.

Give me a warm day and I can take her for a ride.
Do you have any numbers on the cost and efficiency of large scale electrolysis of water?

The obvious place to add hydrogen is in current oil refineries where more hydrogen is needed for each year to upgrade heavier oils. And of course for nitrogen firtilizer production.  

Electrolysis is a dead end.

Consider this.  First, you need a power plant, with generators, switchgear and the like - net efficiency - 32%

Then, you have to add the electrolysis plant.  Net efficiency << 50%, say 40% to be generous (you waste electrons on oxygen although that is a side market).

Net process efficiency - .32 X .4 = 12.8%

Since the reactor is the single biggest cost factor, efficiency losses through the production chain multiply the front end capital costs.

Direct thermochemical H2 production looks to be 60+% efficient.

Dedicated H2 production reactors look like the way to go.

I hope it is theoretically posssible to make the electrolysis more efficient.

We have a peak load problem in Sweden during cold winter days and it would be nice to instead of keeping old condensing oil powerplants ready for use run an additional nuclear powerplant and produce hydrogen where it is needed and then simply shut down the hydrogen production during peak loud hours.

It would however be silly if people in one end of the grid electrolyzes water into hydrogen and in another part burn natural gas or coal to make electricity. It is less silly if there is a bottleneck giving a more or less one way flow from an region with excess nuclear and other non fossil power.

Such a solution should be possible to bring on line 5-10 years before a dedicated H2 reactor. It would make enviromental sense but probably not economical sense if sudden enlightment strikes more of the Swedish politicians and two new reactors are built and Finland builds nr 6.

It takes at least 2 moles of electrons @ >2.06 volts to make 1 mole of H2 gas.

Difficult to get around that fundamental electrochemical fact.

But good luck!

And the current of the shelf equipment is close to the theoretical limit?
Much lower value for hydrogen from H2S.
Iceland had a small electricity > hydrolysis of water > fertilizer factory for about 25 years.  Did not warrant a major overhaul so shut down ~5 years ago.  Only plant of it's type in world AFAIK.  Used ~10 MW.

VERY cheap industrial elelctricity there.

> Can we all agree on a usable, real-world, "consider-the-alternatives" definition of "safe"?

My first question in any debate about nuclear power or nuclear waste is almost allways: What is safe enough for you?

Let's test what the acceptable level is.

The chances from dying from complications after surgury is about 1:100,000 (IMHO).

Given the number of surguries per year, most people (apparently) are willing to accept this as practicle odds for betting on their life, given they are told they must have surgury, I assume.  

So, at what odds would people be willing to accept an unnecessary possible risk to their life due to a radiation leak?  Note:  I said possible risk, since only people directly  exposed to the leaked radiation might receive a lethal dose.  Let's say, it could only possibly affect those living within a 10 mile radius, and it still might not be lethal.  The generally assumed probability for a non-lethal nuclear plant radiation leak is 1:86,000/yr of plant operation, (i think).  Since this is not assuming any fatalities occured as a result of that event, a risk including fatalities should presumably be way much higher than that.  So, does this 1:86,000/yr for just a leak do it for you guys?  Should we round it up for talking purposes to roughly be the same as a possible death due to complications after surgury and call it about 1:100,000/yr of plant operation?

I think that this might make worrying about dying from a nuclear radiation leak irrelevant to anybody who lives within 10 miles of a nuclear plant and also drives a car, but since we might not be driving cars then, maybe I should change the comparison to something that will be relevant then.

Now, where's my lottery ticket?

My own safety is a factor, but even when the nuke is in another state the idea that land could be polluted for generations is very powerful to me.

I don't want to die (in California), but neither do I want Delaware to be off-limits for XXX years.

I don't think that affects the probability of "the event" in one way or another.  The equation does not distinguish between zip codes.  Same conditions apply for all zips.  If the event doesn't happen in California, it won't affect Delaware, or if it does happen in California, it still won't affect Delaware as we are only talking about the probability of an event that would not in any manner affect anyting outside of a 10 mile radius.  Any event of greater magnitude like Chyrnoble (theoretically) would have a such a reduced probability of happening in a modern American Nuclear plant that we shouldn't waste time talking about it as we simultaneously think about the probability of our children freezing in the dark.
Hey, here's an idea.  Let's build them all in a ring around Washington DC and feed juice to everybody else through the power distribution system built over the electric train routes to the rest of the country.
It needs to be borne in mind that people are not very rational about risk. They way overemphasize the risks associated with visually spectacular disasters that hurt a lot of people at the same time, especially if they feel they have no control over it, and way underemphasize daily risks that they feel some control over. Thus the main reason nuclear power is becoming more acceptable, besides the increased urgency of the climate issues, is probably that the pictures from Chernobyl, Hiroshima, etc, are fading from community memory.
Given the costs (in dollars and efficiency) in converting other froms of energy to hydrogen gas, I tihnk you do indeed need fuel cells for it to make any kind of sense.

Burning hyrogen in internal combustion engines is like buring money.  Again, amusing that such programs are funded by the "conservatives" rather than them leaving the most efficient solution to the invisible hand of the market.

... conservative, meet invisible hand ... invisible hand, meet conservative ... I realize you were acquainted at one point but you perhaps have grown estranged ...

I am a leftist, and I agree with much of what you say.  However, in most countries Nancy Pelosi would fit comfortably into a Social Democrat party.  She's not a Green, and she's not a Socialist - by world standards she is a left-leaning centrist.

Notwithstanding, she is what passes for the left in this polity.  If anyone left of Lieberman is beyond the pale, I can see that she would alarm you.  The political spectrum from Pat Robertson to Joe Lieberman is not actually that broad from my perspective.

Nuclear power is dangerous.  Freezing in the dark is worse.  We don't have the luxury of waiting for the perfect solution, so let's go with what we have.  I think a lot of people on the left would agree with me.  Take another look at the people you won't work with - you may find allies you didn't know you had.  You wanna solve problems or fight the commies?


I welcome your support for nuclear power.  Thank you.

Times change.  I do hope we rapidly come to a consensus that new nukes are to be built soon since that is clearly, to my my mind, what this country needs as a mainstay of our energy policy.

Once we get that settled, we can happily go back to arguing about wiretapping, torture, abortion, the death penalty, eminent domain, ad nauseum.

My colleagues and I will do our best to design, build, and operate nuclear power plants responsibly and safely.

Democrats would subsidize their cronies if in office, the Republicans subsidize their cronies while in office.

Taxpayers, being stupid, don't pay much attention and watch the theater on TV brought to us by the two parties. You're such a partisan that you can't even see what's really going on.

We really deserve what we're about to get.


It's too bad there is no MSM (and consequently little to no public) support for a third party...

Oh, also, check out this interesting site on making E85:

I've had my ethanol still working for 3 years, running one of my VW Bugs. I used to race alcohol fuel when I was a kid. You just need to rejet the carb and fiddle with the timing to run it straight. At first, sugar was so cheap (buying contaminated batches from local food and candy manufacturers) that we just used that, for almost 2 years. Mainly we used it in our Jet Skis, because they drank so much gas anyway, and the alcohol made them run stronger once you got the injectors rejetted. It doesn't take too long working it like moonshine to get a decent yield at a dirt-low cost (like $.50 a gallon). Why? No heat input required like with corn, and no mashing of any vegetable matter - just mix sugar, water, yeast and go.

Once those sources dried up, we went looking for others, and found rotten fruit from the grocery works well. However, the grocery wants you to take ALL their rotten stuff, so you better have a huge composting operation going as well as your still. The only stuff with decent sugar content is the fruit. This required making something to mash up the rotten fruit, which worked ok with a water-filled drum and catchment system for the juices. This batch was between $.75 and $.85 a gallon. But my neighbors weren't happy with my 6' tall compost heap, which stank to high heaven. LOL! My wife put her foot down on that one.

Too much gas and time and trouble with grocery store managers looking for rotten fruit and hauling it, and nowhere to compost the rotten veggie matter either, so this year we are growing sugar cane alongside some drainage ditches to see what we get. Couldn't find a source for commercial sugar cane plants, so we drove to Louisiana and borrowed a couple of plants from a cajun farming operation.  We now have about 300 plants ready to go in the ground - waiting on real spring. We'll see what this yields, and then figure out how much land for total yearly gas and how much effort it will be.

If you are building your still just for fuel, using galvanized parts makes it easier and cheaper.

This not only works but is so easy that anybody who can read can do it. Then you get yourself a storage tank and start running batches and filling it up every other weekend.

If you are a hands-on, can-do person, ethanol is something you can do with a very minimum amount of up front money and a little scavenging and dickering with local businesses. And it's actually easy to drop to $1.00 a gallon cost, so you could cut your fuel bill by over 50% today.

The energy monster can be handled - you just have to do it a single bite at a time.

Can't you get arrested for that, or did the revenuers change the law since I been gone?
Well, when you order a still or still plans from anyone online, they generally include a form you file with the ATF for a "personal use permit", which you have to have. You can make as much as you want - you just cannot sell it. If you don't get the application with your still plans, then just call the ATF and they can take care of your permitting. There's no inspection or anything, because there are no existing federal standards for ethanol fuel, yet.

I think as ethanol use increases, the feds will eventually want to kill off all us little guys because people like ADM and others want to control it and get all the revenue, so they (the ADM's and corn farmers) will lobby for "fuel standards" and "safe manufacturing", etc. - just another way to get rid of any competition. Same way small gasoline distillation operations were killed off back in the 1930's and 1940's.

Am glad to hear from another ethanol fan; everything you say is correct. I would add, however, that ethanol is hard on some materials such as hoses or certain other fittings that may corrode. There are plenty of guides as to what to look for and how to find acceptable substitute materials, but it is something that needs to be done, even though it is not a big deal at all.
If you aren't a big DIYer like I am, the easiest way to use ethanol is to buy a FlexFuel vehicle - it's already done for you. GM is pushing the crap out of this on TV, even though the number of E85 stations in this country is probably less than 10! LOL!

All I did was rejet carbs, get rid of rubber fuel lines and replace with steel. Most carbs use paper or cork gaskets, so no problems. Standard rubber seems to be the problem, which would make for swapping out fuel lines, injector o-rings and all kinds of junk on a modern ECU type car. And then trying to change the timing and putting in larger injectors is something most mechanics cannot do - they are just parts replacement guys. You need a guy with a computer that knows what he is doing to switch over a modern computerized car - a rare breed indeed.

Since I am a big believer in recycling and think keeping up with the Jones'es is crap, I opt for older cars with carburators that can be easily fixed for alcohol. They are also exempt from a lot of the emissions testing you have to do with newer cars, cost less to fix in the shop, their parts cost much less, insurance costs are 1/4 of a new car and I'm not financing $20k.

My first full week with my Prius got me 47 mpg with the wife at the helm, as compared to her 2002 V6 SUV, which got 12-15 mpg. As prices rise later this year, I won't be sweating her gas bill for a change.

I am very interested in constructing such a setup for experimentation. I have a few questions, such as how many pounds of sugar it took to make a gallon of ethanol, etc...
If possible, e-mail me at light299@hotmail.com
This reminds me of a time in 1996 all of the Democrats in New Hampshire showed up at the State House, all five thousand of them: the last remnant doing battle Pat Buchanan clones.
New question. At least I haven't seen it before. Does the PO model take into consideration that, as we approach peak, nobody will be eager to go looking for the last drops laying under 30,000 feet of dirt, or does it assume that all currently (or even an increasing number) of available resources (drilling companies willing to take a bad risk, drilling rigs, qualified personnel to design the equipment and work the drill ships, etc.) will continue to be unlimited? I can envision a point where the payoff matrix, even though being of undoubtedly extremely high value in one square, still becomes too sparse, or negative, in the other boxes to offer a fair return when highly probable total losses on dry holes are added to very high exploration & drilling cost and the ripping cash flow it would take to bring in a new field. After X failures, a number of even the really big boys are bound to call Miller time. So, will Miller time strike before the long slow squeeze of the tail-off event ever gets started? Its like, if all of a sudden, nobody's left to man the rigs, or all but 1,2 or X rigs are decommissioned, or the E&P guys don't want to pay the ante anymore, that would tend to lead to a flatter average "peak", actually coming in under the ultimate theoretical high and tend to make a shorter runout of the flat, with the dropoff happening that much sooner.
I read an article in an economics journal about ten or twenty years ago. Judging by what happened when we ran out of whales, we will have over investment in oil the last few years.
Really?  Did everyone go out and buy whale ships?  Maybe the Norwegians and Japanese are still stocking up on the stuff.
No, what happened is that we invented explosive harpoons to kill the whales faster so they didn't escape and die someplace else, and to hunt closer to the edge of the ice pack, and IN the ice pack, till one day a wind came up and closed the ice pack...but we got the sailors off!
The backside of the Peak will involve more drilling with ever-decreasing revenue. BUT, it isn't something that will happen overnight. One would hope that other energy sources begin to make a dent in things when oil is so high as to actually FORCE people to look at alternatives. And it will take just that - economic force - to move people off petroleum. We are looking at decades of decreasing resources before the well goes dry, not months. And if the economy is crashed because prices get too volatile or wars break out, well that will just decrease consumption and extend things further, in my view. But eventually there will be more rigs than prospects, and the rigs we have are all old - they will get retired. Companies will merge (and are already beginning to do so) to combine their financial resources for harder to get but larger deposits. Once these have all been looked at, then everybody begins to scrape the barrel for anything and everything they can find to meet contracts. When the contract guys keep failing to meet their contract delivery promises, that's when prices will really soar...

Just my opinion, a lowly geologist looking for oil.

OK. Let's think about this a second to try to get a handle on it and let me ask you, how many years of unemployment in the field of petroleum geology (God forbid) would you accept before you went scouting for a job at a mining or maybe a geothermal company?
LOL!   Now those are both cans of worms....

First, geothermal is not a mature technology. Right now, only highly volcanic areas are considered candidates for geothermal, and even though binary generation systems have been proven in small scale, there are no commercial ones.

Only in the last year or so have universities and the geothermal groups in the country begun to look at the more abundant but lower temperature options, like hot dry rock. Even then, the only way it appears to make economic sense is to piggyback geothermal onto an existing oil or gas well, because of the high cost of drilling and pipe to build the wells. While there are people at SMU, Texas A&M and other places looking at this, nobody has done it even experimentally.

Part of the problem is scale and technology. Everyone wants to run a dry steam turbine setup. It's efficient, makes lots of power, and can generate lots of profit. But the candidates with high enough temp for dry steam are relatively few, making it unattractive to investors.

Geothermal guys need to consider using wet steam, and lower tech options such as the ultra-reliable and time proven reciprocating steam engine. That would allow them to use many old oil wells available today with temperatures in the 300 degree range. However, the lowly steam engine is almost a lost art now, especially since the federal government removed much of the design technology from the public domain. There are exactly 3 steam engine manufacturers in this country today, two of which are Mom & Pop operations done out of love for the art, the third builds for ocean shipping clientele. India has more manufacturers....

The short answer is that the geothermal companies existing today are groups of academics and retired academics who are looking for money. While Japan and the Phillipines have active programs, outside of The Geysers, we have little or nothing. So it isn't an industry looking for people.

Mining has the same problems as petroleum - each resource has a "Hubberts Peak", and many are approaching us fast right now (like silver and water). Many forms of mining require water, and that is in such short supply out west (CO, WY, NM, OK) that we are being forced to slow down our petroleum drilling efforts due to lack of water to drill wells with. State, municipal and private water owners are simply refusing to sell to us, so we have to cancel drilling projects.

So in my view, mining has as problematic a future as oil exploration, and geothermal is basically an infant technology which will not be pursued until energy costs are inordinately high across the board - later on in the backside of Hubberts Petroleum depletion curve.

My plan is to simply become self-sufficient and get off the grid. There is more freedom in that than in any job working for a corporate interest, and it certainly leaves you lots more time for the important things - like your family, friends and neighbors. I mean, in the end, why do we all work so much? It's to pay for others to supply our needs, or else to buy "stuff" we think we need. When you start taking on supplying your own energy and other needs, your income needs decrease. And much of that "stuff" we buy is cheap chinese crap anyway, which we really do not "need".

Simplify - simplify - simplify....

So.. import low tech steam engines from India.  Man.  Then you guys really don't build anything other than Google stock then?

Just kidding.  Interesting to hear about the low temp wet pressure ideas.  Got a certain romance to it.  James Watt will be happy to hear it.

I note you didn't answer my specific question.-)  I'm in the same boat more or less.  I've kinda' semi-retired now so it really doesn't matter to me too much, other than I've advised my son to study something other than oil and gas pipelines.  I plan on getting into something else soon (waiting on financing U no) or start doing .... water lines... ugh!  Maybe I can do them part time and not get too fussed up about it.  Perhaps  there's a good chance for solar/wind powered pumps, pumped storage irrigation systems.... for what... golf courses???

Geothermal suffers the same general problem as all alternative energy sources - concentration.

In some few locations, geothermal energy has been concentrated and is high quality (hi temp) - the Geysers north of San Francisco is one.  There, a magma intrusion lies near the surface and there is a ground water cycle that feeds hot steam up to drillable depths.  You can count on your hands similar arrangements on the planet near electrical loads.

However, the net heat flux from radioactive decay within the earth is low and rock is a good insulator so harvesting that heat requires large collection areas.  Just putting a drill into hot rock and extracting the heat makes for cooler rock in no time.

Lower quality resources exist such as hot brines in California's Imperial Valley but the problems of exploitation are huge.  The water is hot but can contain 10% or more dissolved solids - extract some heat and the temperature drops causing the minerals to come out of solution and your system literally "rocks up."   Plus, almost all gethermal resources contain plenty of hydrogen sulfide which reeks of that rotten eggs smell.  And let's not forget the dissolved arsenic, selenium, and other toxic metal ions.

Granted, geothermal is an interesting source - just don't expect much more from it.

All this American politics stuff is very entertaining for many of us Europeans who take a special interest in the United States. We don't understand a word of it, but have a feeling that it's still frightfully important, and probably affects our lives more than we realize. It's almost like listening to people speaking a foreign language or sharing a private joke that we just don't get, but we laugh anyway, so that we don't appear unsophisticated, and that's one thing we don't like to appear, especially in relation to Americans! This probably is of minimal interest to all of you in the United States, but most Europeans have huge difficulty seeing any substantial differences between your two major parties. In England people seem to assume that the Democrats are closer to our Labour Party - that is, the Democrats are thought of as kind of Social Democratic party. The Republicans on the other hand are more closely identified with our Conservative Party, reactionary and nationalist. Arch defenders of the staus quo. Of course so much of this terminology is irrelevant in the new world were entering, but that is another story as they say. Personally I find the passions aroused by American political affiliations difficult to understand, as the ideological differences we are used to, the existance of a "socialist" alternative to Liberalism and the Capitalist system; just don't appear to exist in the U.S. I imagine the existance of an "alternative model for society" in Europe has something to do with all the destruction, wars and revolutions we've experienced in the last couple of centuries. Our "Civil Wars" make yours look like a veritable tea-party. To many of us, American political affiliations seem almost tribal in nature, or like the rivalries and competition that are found amongst the supporters of rival teams in sports. This probably seems a bit harsh, and based on ignorance. Obviously you see things that we miss in your political system and what could be more natural than that? So I'll just apologize in advance for offending anyone,if that's alright. While I'm being foolish I might as well go the whole hog, and say that I find most Americans to be wonderful people and you've created a truly vibrant, fantastic culture which I really admire. American almost seems like the best and worst of Europe multiplied. But your politicians really seem like the pits of the world, talk about lions led by donkies! Isn't it odd that the people in Congress appear so unrepresentative of American society in terms of age, gender, class and race? They almost resemble a kind of degenerate aristocracy, something we Europeans, I can assure you, are experts at recognising! Is any of this really healthy in a Democracy? In contrast to most Europeans though, most Americans actually seem to believe in Democracy and the origional ideas behind the American Revolution. The Bill of Rights. The Constitution. That kind of idealism is both refreshing, inspirational and attractive, and makes one think there's hope for the future. Inspite of the rapid destruction of the American Middle-class and the American Dream along with it. In Europe we stopped believing in Democracy years ago, if we're honest - which we seldom are. I imagine we stopped believing in anything very much after we destroyed most of the continent, bankrupted ourselves in the process, and pointlessly slaughtered millions of our own people, and for reasons no one even really remembers anymore. But after the sweet comes the sour, to quote the caustic opinion of the American writer Gore Vidal, whom I once heard describe the American political system as follows, "We effectively have a one party sytem. We have one party - but with two right wings!" As he was in Europe to sell his lastest novel, I guess he wanted to pander to our prejudices, gain our love, and make us smile condecendingly at the same time. You see, it's comforting for us to hear American radicals criticizing their own system, it makes us forget what we've lost, and our own political problems seem so much more benign in comparison. Then we drown our sorrows in yet another glass of Absinthe, artists that we all are, and dream of yesterday's glories. That of course is a luxury we decadent Europeans have and Americans don't, as in contrast to us the United States actually has power and what you do affects the whole world. We have been forced by circumstance and utter exhaustion to give all that up. Teasingly we have also chosen to pass on the burden of the cup of Empire to you, and surprisingly given our fate, you have accepted it like a trophy. I just hope it isn't a poison chalice. Even now there is still time to refuse it!
You are correct: There is hardly any difference between Republican and Democratic parties in the U.S. Both have some good people, both are captives of special-interest groups. Neither can take on major reform or social change.

A plague on both their houses.

So, come again? Is it the vessel with pessel that has the brew that is true? Or does the chalice from the palace bear the potion of commotion and the death that is not new?
There's a reason for using paragraphs.
Now THAT... was a fun read!

But Donal is right - one thing Europeans ought to pick up from Americans is greater use of paragraphs.  "Readers like periods and white spaces," as an English comp prof once told me.  He meant American readers; obviously the French have different preferences.

Generally they're not much on using paragraphs used in England, but I think he's putting in one or two and the HTML default is reformatting the whole into one giant paragraph.

The reason that they don't bare much resemblence to any other American you spot on the street is because they must be a millionaire ambulance chaser or be sleeping with some big time corporate sugar daddy in order to get elected.  

England has nowhere near the political problems IMHO, because there is not so much polarity between any two people randomly picked off the street.  I was astonished to find out for example, that only about 8% of the population is classified as minority unless if you're in the East End or waiting for a plane at Heathrow.  Of course, most everyone's religion is Church of England (on the whole) or just don't admit to being religious at all, the Welsh live in Wales, and the Scotts, for the most, part stay in Scotland. If it wasn't for the overly colourful football (I mean soccor for you red necks) jerseys with Vodafone logos, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Chelsey and Manchester United.

You pretty much have figured out already what you need to know about Americans, except that they think GB is in Europe, and have a relatively short attention span which requires many paragraphs and white spaces inbetween so they think they are getting something new every 17 seconds and that IMHO have gotten a little to accustomed to drinking from the oil cup.  Oh sorry, you said "Empire" cup.

Can you get Absinthe there?  The Swiss just reinstated it I hear.  I bought a bottle and its is pretty strange stuff.  A lot like drinking a reefer.  I can see how it gets its nickname, but I find its a pretty ragged morning-after if you overdo it.  I think that 70% will burn in a BMW.

LOL, I might have some interesting observations on UK. I am welsh and caucasian. I have lived in Slough for 20 years, current population around 100k approx 30% ethnic, mostly indian, bangladeshi, pakistani / hindu, sikkh, muslim; all my neighbours are such and very good neighbours they are, I would not swap them for typical english.

While a student in the early 1970s I lived in Leicester, a town of about 250k people, it has become the first major UK town to have a majority ethnic population, swelled by the Ugandan expulsions in the early 1970s. Probably as harmonious a town of that size one will find in UK.

I like living in a diverse area, would probably be uncomfortable living in an almost totally white area. Maybe I don't get to meet the ethnic bigots but I do meet more white bigots than I would wish.

BTW, there are more welsh in London than in Cardiff, and Scots seem to infiltrate just about everywhere in small numbers, LOL.

Was C of E ever a religion? More the conservative party at prayer, perhaps. The non-conformist UK christian religions (methodist, baptist etc) tend to associate with the labour party nowadays. Religion is taken much more lightly in UK than US, our bigots wear different stripes ;)

Absinthe: yes, now legal in most places but totally neutered (psychoactive constituent removed) unless you get illegally produced stuff, I've not tried that illegal stuff but I've grown some wormwood and have found a contact who distills so may DIY.

I also appreciate living in a diverse neighbourhood.  In fact my family is kinda' diverse itself.  My wife is Colombian.  My sister was married to an Australian.  My brother was married to a Japanese women, but has now switched to Chinese.  

I have noticed that some areas in London and Manchester are approaching 100% "ethnic", but I think the 8% minority is an accurate country-wide figure, is it not?  Up towards Sheffield and across Yorkshire, it seems to get relatively homogeneous to the unaided eye, but then again, I couldn't tell you what language those guys were speaking, so actually I'm not really sure about that.  

I don't doubt that there are more Welsh living in London than in Wales, but there are also more "Swedes" living in Minnesota than Sweden (as I'm sure Don will agree) and there are more Irish living in Boston and NYC than in all of Ireland (IMO..probably).  Scots, yes I must agree.  They do get around don't they?

Religion is taken far too seriously by way too many people IMO, which I find tends to polarize the US considerably.  Every Saturday morning, I got a knock on the door from the Church of Later Day Saints, or the 7th Day Adventists, or...someone else I'd never heard of.  

I also think that the racial thing is a bit difficult to overcome.  I lived in Texas (Houston, Dallas, Laredo), which is maybe 25% AfroAmerican, 28% Hispanic and some 5% Asian (India to Taiwan) across the state.  As I speak Spanish very well (damned good for a gringo) the 2nd generation Hispanics that didn't speak Spanish avoided me.  The ones that could speak Spanish were fine.  I had a lot of AfroAmerican friends, but if they were with birds of a feather, they were not too eager to be seen with me.  I also noticed friction between Hispanics and AfroAmericans and between 2nd generation Hispanics and the newly arrived Hispanics.  The Asians wern't too fussy and IMO preferred either hanging with eachother or with Americans.  I got tired of not being able to have a wide circle of friends of all nationalities and ethnic origins for one reason or another.  I'll tell you one thing though, avoid the 2nd generation Hispanic Customs and Immigration Officers.  Its like, "now that I got here,  I'm gonna' keep you out.  But I digress.  Anyway, another big polarization factor.

Then there's the Rep-Demo thing.  They try to look different and to polarize everybody for the vote, but down under they're all big fat cats with sheep clothes and there's not a dimes worth of difference really which is why they come up with 49.99999% vs 50.00001% +1 of the 35% eligible that voted.  

If that didn't polarize you yet, lets talk gun control, or pro-Life/pro-Choice (there's a good set of names for you), or cattle vs. sheep, ... free rangers vs. farmers?  

P.S.  Here wormwood is legal.  Mix with exceedingly liberal quantities of water. 70% is OTT with those little green LEDs.