Friday Open Thread

There was a small snippet of comment at the back of my last post that suggested that Russia no longer has enough surplus oil to be able to supply both China and Japan.  Seems like an interesting place to start a discussion, but then, as usual, this is your choice . . . .
I know the EIA reports weekly status reports on oil import/production/storage in the US. Do other countries do the  same? If so, please post some URLs.
Russia faces oil, gas output decline in mid term

MOSCOW, March 24 - Russia may face a medium-term production decline in the industries that provide most of its budget revenues, the economic development and trade minister said Friday.

German Gref said oil and natural gas output, which accounts for 25% of GDP and is a major source of budget revenues, had grown 7% annually in recent years, but that this growth figure was now dropping annually to 1%-2%.

Gref said the government planned measures to develop the oil and gas industry further, including tax privileges.

A zero rate severance tax is expected to be imposed for new deposits for up to 10 years from 2007, although the tax holiday period could be shortened if the deposit in question makes a profit. The degree of deposit depletion will be considered when differentiating the severance tax, and lower rates could be granted to fields in the final stage of development - more than 85% depleted deposits - starting from 2008.

Russian peak in 2008?

My bet is that they start declining this year.
Over at, Russian Cowboy said:

...Russian Institute of Oil and Gas, a government agency, posted a note on Wednesday claiming that Russia will reach the second maximum in oil production in 2008. A great effort was made to avoid using the term "peak oil".
And check out what he has to say about Siberia here:

Hello Leanan,

Most TODers know that I am a fast-crash Doomer.  But I cannot stop myself from coming up with alternate scenarios that could be greatly less dire.  :-)

For example, many threads and posts by other TODers are devoted to possibly divining exact dates and rates of depletion around the world.  Even ASPO's Depletion Protocols cannot be activated until the postPeak Era begins.  Sadly [but just as I anticipated], the world's leaders have so far refused to engage in debating this inherently logical Powerdown scheme.

So now let's turn this situation on its head--> Why wait for the true geological-driven downslope?  Why can't the world politically agree to prematurely induce biosolar labor and processes upon itself?

Let's say every oil & gas well worldwide is immediately choked back to 50% of previous output, every coal mine and tar-sands project is 50% powered down in its extraction rate.  This would immediately jack energy prices up forcing conservation.  A worldwide education program on 'best practices' for Powerdown and voluntary population control would be avidly received by the public.

The world's leaders could explain to the world's proles that they mutually decided to do this for everyone's future children-- the much vaunted, by never implemented planning for the Seventh Generation Ahead.  It would be easy to monitor all these detritus energy resources to insure that no excess extraction occurs.

Again, why wait in fear of the Peak?  Let's courageously induce our own to stop the Infinite Growth Paradigm before it is too late to prevent ERoVI > ERoEI.  I would be interested in hearing from other posters on this 'wild' proposal--whose future is more important?-- the present Energy Fiesta Generation, or future generations?

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

Sadly [but just as I anticipated], the world's leaders have so far refused to engage in debating this inherently logical Powerdown scheme.

If they won't even debate powerdown, how on earth are you going to get everyone to agree to go ahead and do it anyway?  OPEC can't even get their members to keep from cheating, let alone every fossil fuel producer in the world.

To quote Heinlein, "Politics is the art of the possible.  This isn't."

Hello Leanan,

I don't know. This could be another thread all in itself where we all brainstorm this idea.  Every wellhead could have a monitor that sends an extraction rate signal to a database that is visible to everyone worldwide.  Count the mining trucks--make sure only half are running, etc.  Simmons talks about the need for total transparency, this would be an excellent start.  If there is an aggregate will, we will find a way.

Even if this 'choke program' was a temporary plan with a duration of under a year, it would widely alert everyone for the need to Powerdown.  It would also reveal the 'rocks under the rapids'; those social structures and infrastructures most stress-prone to depletion.  If, for example, this temporary plan resulted in the deaths of ten million Americans at the hands of other Americans from ERoVI, it might so horrify the others that before the real geological downslope arrives: we would have no problem politically organizing for biosolar ERoEI > ERoVI.  In effect, the deaths of ten million violent deaths would not be in vain as it would prevent the ERoVI deaths of 150 million.  Far better to peacefully die than to be hacked to death.

Obviously, this is a subject that needs much discussion, but is all hinges on if cooperation can be greater than conflict-- the terrific Stuart Staniford-Matt Savinar debate that recently occurred springs too mind.  Are most TODers on Stuart's side or Matt's side in this discussion?

The current worldwide attitude is the continuation of the  easy-motoring Energy Fiesta Kunstler so often writes about.  I think many posters subconsciously are calculating how long the party lasts, with no desire to change their world.

"We see the rising floodwaters, secretly hoping the others drown."

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

Every wellhead could have a monitor that sends an extraction rate signal to a database that is visible to everyone worldwide.  

Assuming this was even technologically would you enforce it?  Who would be the one telling the likes of ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, and Hugo Chavez that they were going to have to open up, or else?  What would you do if they just laugh in your face?  What's the penalty for cheating?  Fire up the nuclear weapons?

If we can't even agree on Kyoto, there is no way we'll agree on something like this.  

I agree, no one would limit production because they are asked ore even told to.  Large governments could place and end consumer tax like the ones proposed for guns and tobacco.  If a 2.5$ gallon jumped to 3.5$ we would prefer fuel efficency more and commuting etc would come about.
Hello Oilrig Medic,

I think you are forgetting the profit incentive.  If the oil, gas, and coal companies were allowed to keep 33% of the increased profits from shutting down half their operations during a temporary 'choke' period, and the other 66% was used to fund a bootstrapping of initial biosolar habitats-- billions of bucks to kickstart Powerdown could be raised.  The detritovore desire for ancient detritus can be used to leverage the desire of those biosolars who wish to break their addiction by powering down.  Jevon's Paradox says any excess energy saved by the biosolars will be eagerly used by the addicts anyways.  All we have to do is make the addicts pay heavily to the biosolars by a financing function of letting the oil companies profitably tighten the screws by reducing demand.  Let's find out just how inelastic energy demand really is.  Stockholders make money short-term-->no big deal, what really counts are real assets like food, water, ecosystem health.

My usual disclaimer: I am no expert, would more learned TODers please evaluate?

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

Hello Leanan,

All good questions!  I am no genius, or even an expert in most of these thread topics, but maybe if enough people put their heads together in brainstorming: some breakthroughs might be reached.  Somehow, I fantasize that TODers and other forums are prepared with well-evaluated alternative Action Plans when Billions realize that we all are suddenly doing the Wiley E. Coyote Airdance.

If Iran suddenly sets the Mideast in flames-- believe me, the nuclear weapons will be fired up, up, and away anyhow.  Hell, all indications are GO for the pre-emptive use of these badboys.  I hope We can do better than that.

Consider my earlier suggestion of turning off nightlights on billboards and storesigns: virtually painless to do.  Somehow, I don't think anyone is willing to die for their beliefs that signage for Preparation H, or any other product or service must be night-time illuminated.  Even the employees of these companies would not start shooting.

Yet, I can forsee huge numbers of Peakniks emailing their politicians telling them that their re-election chances depend on them legislating lights out.  A tightly targeted, single issue 'viral marketing campaign' to get millions of other people to corner their pols on this issue would bring results.  Look how quickly the Amber Alert System spread from state to state when the people put the pressure on. Just lather, rinse, and repeat.

Assume Richard Rainwater and his buddies can be convinced to donate the initial funding, and we all kick in as much as we can.  When the press starts covering this story, all kinds of non-Peakniks will be wondering,  "What the Hell is going on"?  They will come to TOD and other websites to keep the momentum growing.

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

Consider my earlier suggestion of turning off nightlights on billboards and storesigns: virtually painless to do.

No, it isn't.  People are paying the power bill for those lights for a reason.  

I used to work at a small restaurant along a highway.  After nightfall, if we didn't have our lighted sign on, we had no customers.  The lighted sign made a huge difference.  

Those lights are some peoples' jobs.

Not saying we can't turn them off, but it won't be painless.  

Chris Skrebowski's mega-projects update predicted a 3.2 mbpd gap between supply and demand for 2005.  If accurate, certain countries would not have met their anticipated demand increases in 2005.  Is there any place that compares on a country-by-country basis any differences between anticipated demand and, in hindsight, actual?
Fuel riots in places like Indonesia, Yemen, and elsewhere would be an expression of this, would they not?  As would be the removal of fuel subsidies by governments in poorer nations even if they do not result in fuel riots.  As is the complete inability of Zimbabwe and (if I remember correctly - this could be wrong) Malawi to import oil AT ALL for quite a few months now.

Is there any way of quantifying these particular manifestations of the failure of supply to meet demand?

It's tough to measure "demand" as such. When people decide not to take as many trips because gas costs too much, we may see consumption stagnate or decline, but technically (in the economic sense) "demand" has remained the same or may even have grown. All we can objectively measure is consumption.

Perhaps you can do something with polls, asking people how much more they would drive if gas were cheaper, how much less if it were more expensive. I've occasionally seen polls like that here and there; oddly, they only ever ask the second question, about gas getting more expensive. And people always say the same thing, they won't drive any less.

I don't know if I believe these polls, because they are asking people about hypotheticals and their actual responses might be different if the situations became real. They may also represent a certain stubbornness or defiance or even manipulativeness when people insist that they won't drive less.

I wonder if we would get more honest responses by asking if people would drive more if gas were cheaper. Suppose people are being manipulative, and trying to exaggerate the negative impact of higher prices, in order to rally political support for measures to keep prices low. Then they might similarly exaggerate the positive impact of lower prices, in order to gather support for measures to bring prices down. In that case they would claim to drive no less if prices rose, implying little elasticity, but to drive much more if prices fell, implying great elasticity. This would at least expose any such inconsistency and help us to evaluate the credibility of the answers, and also might give us a methodological tool: we could average the two results and perhaps get a better estimate of true elasticity of demand, giving insight into the shape of the demand curve.

if oil goes upto $100 a barrel?

WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) - If the price of crude oil ever jumps to $100 a barrel and sends gasoline costs soaring, you're better off living in New York City than just about anywhere else, according to a study released on Friday.

who pays for this research and why??

Interestingly, New Yorkers actually have just about the smallest environmental impact of any large group of Americans.

Why?  Because their "environmental footprint" is very small by American standards.

In sub/exurbia people occupy half an acre (or more) for a 2400 - 5000 sq ft house.  In NYC families occupy a fraction of the floor space and a TINY fraction of the land (thanks to building vertically).  In the 'urbs people have several cars per family and NEVER use mass transit (which typically isn't conveniently available anyway).  In NYC most people don't even own a vehicle and commute by foot and mass transit.

Why would this interest anyone?  If you are interested in the issue of peak oil, it should interest you:  New Yorker's can get by on much less energy than most Americans and a whole lot less oil energy.

The weakness of New York is Manhatten.  High rises take MUCH more energy per square foot than low rises (alhough not oil energy bye and large).

Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and even Bronx - good.  Manhatten - not so good.

BTW, preKatrina, the residents of The Big Easy were in a statistical tie with the residents of The Big Apple for fewest miles driven annually.

Becasue global warming and energy use are being tied together I present the link from Worldchanging
Flood Maps mashes up NASA elevation data and Google Maps, and offers a visualization of the effects of a single meter increase all the way to a 14 meter rise. shows water up to the steps of the white house.

Latest research from the journal: Science, as reported in the Independent.

[Opening paragraphs}

'Glacial earthquakes' warn of global warming
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 24 March 2006
Dramatic new evidence has emerged of the speed of climate change in the polar regions which scientists fear is causing huge volumes of ice to melt far faster than predicted.

Scientists have recorded a significant and unexpected increase in the number of "glacial earthquakes" caused by the sudden movement of Manhattan-sized blocks of ice in Greenland.

A second study has found that higher temperatures caused by global warming could melt the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets much sooner than previously thought, with a corresponding rise in sea levels.

Both studies - along with a series of findings from other scientists over the past year - point to a disturbing change in the polar climate which is causing the disappearance of glaciers, ice sheets and floating sea ice.

The rise in the number of glacial earthquakes over the past four years lends further weight to the idea that Greenland's glaciers and its ice sheet are beginning to move and melt on a scale not seen for perhaps thousands of years.

The firetree link is not working.
It's not working for me, either.  But check out "the real waterworld":

Maps of what the world would look like if the ice caps melt completely.

Here's the southern U.S.  

"Florida and Louisiana are completely inundated. Salt water extends all the way to St. Louis, just as it did millions of years ago."

On the bright side, Leanan, some of our best Permian crude was created when the map looked like that.

Another 250 million years or so and, yeah, then we can do it again.

ROFL!  Now that's what I call a long-term view.  ;-)
New home sales down 10.5 percent in the US in February.

Interestingly enough, sales of existing homes rose over 5 percent for the month. Maybe folks are starting to look for places to live that are closer to work? Hard to tell from a trend that only spans a couple months of course.

Median new home price was down almost 3 percent from Feb of last year. Peak home prices!

I subscribed to a few "housing bubble" blogs, and they give some good inside news of what's going on.  This one (below) has slowed as the author gets out of the mortgage business, but his last few entries explain why he's doing that, and give a good capsule:

I've read either there or elsewhere that new home builders are aggressively trying to close out inventory before things get worse.  They're trying to finish and sell projects in currently in construction, etc.

There are indications and rumors that Russia will start demanding rubles for oil and gas in 2007:

  • They already use Yuan & rubles in bilateral trade with China
  • Putin had said he would like to see ruble to be fully convertible sooner then 2008
  • Russia will need to make enormous capital expenditures in its infrastructure after years of neglect; therefore strong local currency is a welcome development.
Äîðîãîé ìîé.
We are already receiving rubles and euros. Contracts are just fixed in US dollars. Customer may choose a currency in which he pays.
Anyway, I don't understand the ballyhoo about in what currency they would pay for oil. You can always chop your take for whatever crap you want immediately after transaction.
Anyway, I don't understand the ballyhoo about in what currency they would pay for oil. You can always chop your take for whatever crap you want immediately after transaction. has an explanation:

Near as I can tell, the difference between those who worry about the Iranian oil bourse and those who don't is how much the importance they give to "friction."

Uh. That's the whole monetary theory in two pages.
Maybe one conclusion. We need a universal currency unit, something similar to euro on global scale.

And, perhaps, we see the situation from the different points of view. I'm a seller of oil and I deem you and a majority of visitors are consumers. I am not concerned by the macroeconomic effects of Peak Oil or the long-term effects of the American financial problems as long as I can sell the stuff and invest a profit in safe assets.
Sorry for such selfishness :)

We need a universal currency unit, something similar to euro on global scale.

Some say we already have one, and it's called the U.S. dollar.  


Some say we already have one [a universal currency unit], and it's called the U.S. dollar.

 And some will say that America's wanton consumption results in a trade imbalance that we must finance by investing our trade receipts in US Treasury bills. This subjects us to significant risk if the USD were to devalue. Is there another unit of currency that we can employ to avert this risk?

 And some will say that the USD as a global reserve currency means that America can finance its imperial ambitions through right of seignorage. No one can quickly forget the reports of pallets of crisp new USD inside the Green Zone with officials casually handling $100,000 "bricks" without any form of accounting. Everyone else has to earn their dollars; the Americans can simply print them. Why should the nations of the world finance a foreign policy based on hope, lies, and medieval crusades? Is there another currency that we can use to avoid the inadvertent finance of American misadventure?

 Like the Lilliputs gazing in horror on Gulliver, is there not some way that we can tie down the American giant? Is there not some way we can neutralize his role as global overlord through use of the printing press, the IMF and the World Bank? Is there not a currency that we could use to achieve these ends?

 I believe we are seeing the emergence of a new global currency. It is to be called the BTU. If I seek the respect of fellow nations I send them BTUs not a carrier task force. Chavez understands this, as does Putin. If I need advanced technology, or weapons, I can trade BTUs for bullets. I suspect China understands this.

 The value of everything can be recalibrated in BTUs (this will give new meaning to the phrase "hot love"). Power will shift from the owners of the printing presses to the owners of the producing wellhead. The unit of exchange will become irrelevant. Forget the Benjamins and start saving those Yamanis and Bolivars.


I don't think anyone denies that that U.S. has benefitted greatly from the dollar's special status.  The argument is over how important the "petrodollar" - oil priced in dollars - is to that status.
Given that the US DOD is the single biggest customer/consumer of oil in the US and therefore the world ( perhaps you can give us your thoughts on how handy it is that the DODs 'employer' has access to the money making machines?!
Can't say, really; it's outside my bailiwick.  

But I do think the U.S. military will have oil long after the gas stations run dry.

Captain Renault: I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find that gambling is going on in here.
[A casino worker gives Renault a wad of money.]
Casino Worker: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [Quietly] Oh, thank you very much. [Loudly] Everybody out at once.


 Better round up the usual suspects! :-)

When I try to discuss the energy issues at hand with some of my friends, I often have my arguments dismissed with "now that the economic incentives are in place, biodiesel will finally be developed to supplant petroleum." This makes me mad, so I decided to work out the numbers.

1 barrel of crude oil contains ~5,800,000 BTUs of energy (source)
Solar radiation at the surface of the planet = ~342 watts / square meter (source)
342 watts for 1 hour = 1,167 BTUs (1 kilowatt-hour = 3,413 BTUs (source) times 0.342)
5,800,000 BTUs / 1,167 BTUs = sunlight falling on ~4,970 square meters for 1 hour
Current worldwide oil consumption = ~84,000,000 barrels/day (source)
84,000,000 barrels times 5,800,000 BTUs = 487,200,000,000,000 BTUs / day
487,200,000,000,000 BTUs / 1,167 BTUs = sunlight falling on ~41,748,071,980 square meters for 10 hours
Total United States land area = ~9,631,418,000 square meters (source)
So, to replace petroleum with any type of solar based energy, all we have to do is capture 100% of the solar radiation falling on an area a bit larger that 4 times the size of the United States for 10 hour a day, with perfect efficiency.

This isn't my bailiwick - I'm a software guy - and I was wondering if any TOD readers can point out any egregious errors I have made?

I see 2 errors.  The first is that 342 Watt/m2 value that you use for solar radiation is a 24hr average, meaning it already takes into account the fact that there is no Solar radiation at night.  So you should use 24 hours, not 10 hours in your calculation.

The 2nd error is in your calculation of US land area.  There are 1000 m in a km, but 1,000,000 square meters in a square kilometer.  

So you end calculation appears to be off by a factor of 4000.  

Thank you. I wasn't comparing meters to sq meters, though; I was dividing sq meters by sq meters?
Oh, I get it. Duh.
Perhaps you've got the incorrect size of the United States.  It appears to be 9,631,418,000 km^2 rather than 9,631,418,000 square meters (m^2).  Therefore, you would have to multiply by 1 million to get m^2.  In that case the U.S. is 9.63x10^15 m^2.  So your answer becomes an area that is 4.33x10^-6 times the size of the U.S. or 4 one-millionths the size of the U.S.

Here is a quote from a paper that calculates some interesting solar facts (including the idea that the whole problem can be solved with $64 billion dollars) see below:

THERMAL SCIENCE: Vol. 9 (2005), No. 3, pp. 69-83
by Mihajlo FIRAK

Concentrating solar power technology relies on beam component of solar radiation i. e. on clear sky without clouds and short path length of radiation trough the atmosphere (air mass). Both conditions are fulfilled in dry and desert climate region of the Earth (usually located around north or south tropics +/-10°). In terms of irradiated solar energy (kW/hm2 per year) premium regions should receive more than 2550 kWh/m2 per year. Excellent regions receive 2370 to 2550, and good be tween 2200 and 2370 kWh/m2.  For example, systems like SAIC/STM SunDish begin to work at solar flux above 400 W/m2 what is difficult to expect on a cloudy day. According to this, the best geography region are South-West part of North America, west costal part of SouthAmerica, north and south parts of Africa, Arabia peninsula, Central Asia, and Australia.

A short calculation which would rely on assumptions that only 1% of that dry and desert land could be utilised for solar power generation, and that it receives 2200 kWh/m2, we can produce 8.8·1013 kWh/year of electricity. This is 7.3·109 tones of equivalent oil (toe) or 780 times more than global world primary energy consumption was in the year 2002 (9.4·106 toe [33]).

Assuming that one SAIC/STM SunDish system produces 35,000 kWh/year, it should be produced about 3.2 million systems to cover all world's primary
energy needs. Assuming the cost of 20000 USD per system the whole price would be 64 billions USD. Today Australia already installed 10 SS-20 systems at Erbabella community (Ananga Pitjantjara, South Australia) and three similar solar farms are on the way.

In the interest of disclosure my family owns SAIC stock.
For example, systems like SAIC/STM SunDish begin to work at solar flux above 400 W/m2

It would be nice if they would have these for sale so us mere mortals could buy them.   Because I'd like to see them as an option so the 'cool' side of the stirling system can be a building.

Any models of energy production that has the production farm from its uses will have line losses, so be sure to think about them in the modeling.

Stirling Energy Systems is also a player in this concentrated solar thing.  They have a contract for a 500MW array.  This stuff should scale.  Anyhow 780 times more energy than you need is a lot!  But we might need to go to 2% of the desert area -- putting us at over 1500 times more energy than we need.  

Perhaps the next step will be to hook these systems up to a plant like Changing World Technologies (synthetic diesel) has or even something like George Olah (methanol) envisions.  That would turn a lot of this surplus electricity into nice liquid fuels with decent properties.

Anyhow, $64 billion is only about 1/5 the amount of money that we have spent in Iraq so far.

Where did these guys learn math!?!

World primary energy use ~ 400 Quads = 400.10^18 J = 1,1.10^14 kwth

Now delete 1,1.10^14 / 35 000 = 3.2 billion Stirling dishes.

Billion is with 3 zero-s more than million. And the price of the adventure would be the modest $64 000 billion. This not counting the price of the infrastructure needed etc. etc.

In addition I question the 35 000 kwth/year production. With 2300 kwth/m^2/year and 18% typical efficiency this would mean that the solar dish in question captures the sunlight of 84.5 m^2 surface!!! And this for $20 000? Give me a break, please.

I have seen the efficiency quotes at 30% to 40% (approximately double photovoltaic? -- which this is not).

I'd have to have more time to check the calculation, but here is a quote from a Stirling Energy Systems FAQ:

"What geographical areas are best suited for a solar dish farm?"
The southwest region of the United States is ideally suited for this. In fact, a solar farm 100 miles by 100 miles could satisfy 100% of the America's annual electrical needs. Solar technology primarily addresses the peak power demands facing utility companies in the Southwest U.S. and other solar-rich areas

Here is a link for the planned 500 MW Stirling dish power plant:

For efficiency:

...with a net solar-to-electric conversion efficiency reaching 30 percent. Each unit can produce up to 25 kilowatts of daytime power.

For price:

The cost for each prototype unit is about $150,000. Once in production SES estimates that the cost could be reduced to less than $50,000 each

I'll take those with a grain of salt, because they are coming from the producer. Especially the efficiency is likely to be suffer in lower light conditions due to lower temperature in the engine, increased mechanical drag and light diffusion.

I don't mean to say the technology is bad - IMO it is as good (or at least close to being as good) as wind. In addition the potential for improvements is higher. The investment per rated watt is close to that of photovoltics ($6/watt vs $4-5/watt) and is more likely to significantly drop in the near future.

On the downside, these machines will need more maintainance than photovoltics, and of course suffer the same problems as all energy coming from intermittent sources.

BP states that their solar panels can power the world's electricity needs on a nice sunny day like in Sahara desert.  They need 800km2 of solar panels.

Is it possible to produce 800km2 of solar panels?

I'm not sure how they reached to the 800 km^2 number - probably they could power the world for a second, but it would be too far from enough for anything more. 800 km^2 in premium land would receive:
800.10^6 * 2500 = 2.10^12 kwth of sunlight energy per year.

The best solar panels have 15% efficiency, so the energy produced would be:
0.15 * 2.10^12 = 300 billion kwth per year.

World electricity production is 15 290 billion kwth, so they are short by a factor of 50.

You can ask, is it possible to produce 40 000km^2 of solar panels? I think in theory anything is possible but in practice I don't expect to see that happening.

I think an English billion is an American trillion.  And English billion is, in other words, a million million.
Not that. They claimed we need 3.2 million dishes, or 1000 times less than needed. Million means the same in both British and American English.
It couldn't be 3.2 billion Stirling engines because each one is capable of supplying power for roughly 3 to 5 homes, so that many would provide power for over 9 billion homes -- we only have 6.X billion people in the world don't we?  Or perhaps, 50% of the population would get vacation homes too.  :-)  That total Quads number is apparently 365 days per year and 24 hours per day.  So, you'd have to divide by those before also divide by 35,000.

No, the number really is 3.2 million Stirling engines and really is possible.  I mean we sold over 15 million vehicles in America last year didn't we?  And those are pretty complicated things, with engines, anti-lock brakes, airbags, airconditioners, 8-speaker stereo systems, etc and those require lots of maintenance, probably more maintenance than these closed cycle Stirling engines.

I'm sorry but this turns surrealistic. If you believe that 2+2 makes 0.004, I can not convince you that it makes 4 even if I used all the logic in the world.

I'll just give you a little material for thought. What is the fraction of the energy for powering a house with electricity related to the total energy we use? What about driving your car, flying a plane, heating your house with natural gas etc. etc.? What about buying groceries or plastic crap from WalMart? How were these things produced and delivered? Did you know that the energy needed to produce a single pound of aluminium can power an average US house for half a day? With 23 billion pounds of aluminium produced annually, only the US aluminium industry is using as much electricity as a third of the US households!

Ooops now I saw the 23 billion pounds figure includes recycled aluminium, the primary production is about 8 billion pounds. Source:

Total US household electricity consumption is 1139.9 billion kwth or 3889.7 trillion BTUs. This represents just 31% of the total US electricity consumption of 3656 billion kwth.

With 548 trillion BTUs the US aluminium industry only is using as much much electricity as 14% or of the US households - or as much as 42 million americans.

OK, so just to clarify the correct calculation (by my calculations :-):

Looks good to the BTUs of oil consumed per day:

Let X = sq. m required:

487,200,000,000,000 BTU/day = 1167 (BTU/sq.m) hour * 24 hrs/day * X sq.m

X = 17,395,029,991 sq m required
 = 6,716 sq. mi

U.S. area = 9,631,418 sq. km. x 1,000,000 sq. m/sq. km
U.S. area = 9,631,418,000,000 sq m

% area required = 17,395,029,991/9,631,418,000,000

 = 0.0018 or 0.18%

current panel efficiency is about 12%

0.0018.12 = 1.5% of U.S. area

6,716/.12 = 55,967 sq. mi
or a little more than the state of New York.

This of course assumes no increase in panel efficiency, or decrease in consumption.  

I am glad that this little spat over solar happened.  Thing to remember is that there is a hell of a lot of solar ready to be used, and the baloney about nothing but nuclear being  enough should be put in the garbage where it belongs.  Solar is trivially easy compared to nuclear, for heat, and for electricity, and it comes in little bitty bites, not billions of bucks worth at a shot.  As for the hardware to do it, some of it is pretty good right now, and anything we can do we can do better.
Hydroelectric is the creme de la creme of renewables, with geotehrmal in second place.  After minimal biomass (landfill gas is good) there is wind.  And W*A*Y in the back is solar.

Perhaps solar thermal can improve enough to get a niche (low latitude desert sites),

As I stated before my ideal mix would be (by energy) 55% wind, 15% hydro, 15% pumped storage, 20% nuke, 9% other renewable (geothermal, biomass, solar thermal).  The extra 4% is fro pumped storage losses.

As I stated before my ideal mix would be (by energy) 55% wind,

Wind doesn't have to be done by a big company or government, but that seems to be where the funding is.

15% hydro,

Another big govermnet project to prop up big business

15% pumped storage,

More big project for big companies.

20% nuke,

Here is one that can't exist w/o big government.

9% other renewable (geothermal, biomass, solar thermal).

Now, why is it the solution that a person who has their own land and home in the sunshine and want's to make their own power for their own use is NOT on your list?

Why the love for solutions that keep big corps or big goverment in charge of ones life?   Big corps and big government have done such a wonderful job in everyones life so far, I guess that is why one would want more of 'em eh?

> Now, why is it the solution that a person who has their own land and home in the sunshine and want's to make their own power for their own use is NOT on your list?

  1. Not economic, except solar water heating.  A small amount of home PV (uneconomic but people want to do so for other reasons) could, perhaps, supply the grid with 0.1% of the 9%.

  2. Off grid PV is EXTREMELY uneconomic vs. grid power, except for remote locations. Home storage options are expensive, uneconomic, inefficient and often hazardous (lead/acid batteries).

  3. Not applicable to about 98% of the population. (renters, home owners without excess capital, home owners in wrong areas of nation, homeowners with capital, right city (sort of) but bad solar orientation, HOA issues, etc.)

Home PV is trivial and not worth mentioning.
A small amount of home PV (uneconomic but people want to do so for other reasons) could, perhaps, supply the grid with 0.1% of the 9%.

Well DUH.  Most home owneres will buy enough solar panels to cover their needs.

But covered needs means less demand on the grid.  

Not economic, except solar water heating.  

The same thing is said about applying alot of insulation in a home.   Yet the pay  off due to rising costs FASTER than the inital model is 10-15 years.

Off grid PV is EXTREMELY uneconomic vs. grid power, except for remote locations. Home storage options are expensive, uneconomic, inefficient and often hazardous (lead/acid batteries).

You must not be aware that most homes do a grid intertie.

Home PV is trivial and not worth mentioning.

So you are looking for one big silver bullet, backed by the muscle of taxation and economic monopolies.
implys the energy needed in fabercation is recovered in 1-2 years.

Your list gets handouts.   And as they say here:
"Solar subsidies usually take the form of investment or production tax credits--or price guarantees in some countries. Companies investing in oil, coal, and nuclear power do much, much better. They get subsidies to help extract and produce oil or coal, or to build nuclear plants, says UCS' Mr. Wentworth."   But lets go further:
"In short, big energy beats solar hands down in the subsidy department and investors have yet to go weak at the knees over it. "We'd love to see a level playing field," says Mr. Wentworth. "The central issue is financing and markets, and we want to have an equal shot.""

But your inner physist - you should feed him more often.
Because here is a possible tuneable bandgap path, and its resistant to radiation - so it should hold up better.

My 0.1% "handwaving estimate" for PV solar included energt produced that was used domestically.

Several problems with PV solar.  Electricity production is widely at variance with demand for almost everyone.  Sure, one could put a timer on the washing machine for 20 minutes before solar noon, with an override if it was cloudy.  And vacuum only within 1 hour + or - of solar noon on weekends & holidays (i.e when one is home), but cooking, lighting, heating, refrigeration are contra solar production (lighting load goes up when sun goes down, cooking is mainly done after 6 PM, likewise heating loads max just before 10 PM with another peak just before dawn till ~7 AM, refrigeration load peaks when dinner is cooked (door opened more then) but is mostly spread around clock).

A "self sufficient PV solar household" connected to the grid (net 0 kWh at end of year) will pump a majority of it's kWh into the grid when domestic use is low (often VERY low, just the frig cycling) and then demand quite a bit of power (a majority of use) when the sun is down or solar production is quite minimal. There will be a significant seasonal imbalance between what a "self sufficient household" produces (peak in late spring & early summer) and what that household demands, even in the Sunbelt (remember solar peak is solar noon June 21 or 22).

If more than a trivial amount, large pumped storage will be required to balance the daily, weekly and perhaps monthly variation.  Seasonal is a tougher nut to crack (how to store, in a solar dominated grid, peak production from June for use in December ?)

I*F PV solar was cheaper, I would advocate a balanced mix of wind and solar as the backbone of a future grid (for much of US wind maxs in fall, winter and/or spring, with a summer minimum).  Instead, I would exploit the few summer max areas  heavily (and use the Great Lakes for some pumped storage).

But wind is so much cheaper than PV solar, that low load factor wind is cheaper than PV solar on June 21st in most of US.  And every other day.

I recently saw on TOD a link to costs of PV over time.  For the last decade, flat between $4.xx & $5 per watt.  Research improvements have basically kept even with inflation (in an era with low inflation).  Looked for link but it did not "pop up".

The lower cutoff of photons using indium nitride is interesting, but there is no reason to think that this will likely lead to a break through in costs.  On a related topic, many other wind turbine designs have been proposed, each with it's advantages, but the "Danish model" (3 blades in vertical plane, upwind) is what works and is getting cheaper (faster than PV solar).

> Not economic, except solar water heating.  

> The same thing is said about applying alot of insulation in a home.   Yet the pay  off due to rising costs FASTER than the inital model is 10-15 years.

(Sorry for lack of HTML)

Just because one prediction about a non-technology issue was wrong, does not mean that skeptical predictions about PV are wrong.

If I am the source, I have always advised people to seriously consider using more insulation than the DoE recommendations, since there are "other benefits" (smaller > cheaper a/c units give cost savings, future prices are uncertain, in power outage > longer time of comfort, etc.)

And I have grown weary of promises of some future PV breakthrough.

PV will get to US $4/watt (2006 $) and more or less stay there.  See recent link to DOE.

Sure, one could put a timer on the washing machine for 20 minutes before solar noon,

Sure, one could do that.   But one could ALSO monitor the output of the system and the load, and turn on when there is excess capacity.

I*F PV solar was cheaper,

How are you coming up with this 'cheaper' label?   Based on an un-subsiszed price?  

Big wind - one wind farm in the NH-MA area was going to cost the utility $325 million and they are going to get $349 in tax benefit.

Nuke plants libability is shifted to the government.  Same with the 'protection' on the radioactive waste material, not to mention the limited nature oof fissionalbe material.

Or how the CO2 waste has 'no cost' in the coal/gas/oil model.  

If you put up your own wind turbine, you don't get the tax credits like a major corporation, do you?

And I have grown weary of promises of some future PV breakthrough.

I've grown wery of people who make economic arguments WRT energy.  How they ignore the amount of photons needed to create the enegy source, yet treat them all the same on a watt basis.  Or how they ignore the iron glove of the government over the invisible hand of the market, yet claim equivelance.  Or how much energy is going to be imbeddeed in the energy generation process over its life.  

So sometimes we don't get waht we want, eh?

> As I stated before my ideal mix would be (by energy) 55% wind,

> Wind doesn't have to be done by a big company or government, but that seems to be where the funding is.

In Denmark, almost half of wind turbines were owned by co-ops in the early days, perhaps 1/4 today.

No legal limitations today.

> Wind doesn't have to be done by a big company or government, but that seems to be where the funding is.

In Denmark, almost half of wind turbines were owned by co-ops in the early days, perhaps 1/4 today.

No legal limitations today.

Who needs legal imitations when governments offer up sweet tax advazntages TO corportations and not to citizens.

all power to most of your other suggestions, but I think you're being a bit generous to hydro.  Sure, its 'productive', cheap and renewable, but it has its problems.  Eventually those dams will silt up. And I would have thought, given your location, that an understanding of silt on say the maintenance of coastal wetlands (as a defence against cyclones) might be something of which you would be aware ( about 1/2 way down).  The rythmic flooding of the Nile, which has sustained Egyptian agriculture for over 2000 years has been altered as a result of the Aswan dam, with subsidence in the  lower areas around the delta near Alexandria (  Or from another point of view, cutting of the silt supply can potentialy decrease the productivity of coastal waters (and therefore the supply of fish ( becuase I'm lazy - there is a reference to this in the previous wiki ref - but people could look into it themselves)). There are also other criticisms that the main beneficiary of large hydro projects are the builders and maybe a few large electricity dependant industries (aluminium anyone?){  Not to mention the suggestion that unless all the trees are removed from the flooded valley there is the possibility that a large dam can produce significant greenhouse emissions (

I guess ultimately my point is... it's not that simple!

You guys have probably seen this before, but what if you could just print your new solar cells on surfaces?  I know this company's product is still in the testing phase, but based on their investors and some of the people who have just joined the company, I imagine this has real potential.

Run-of-river schemes have few environmental issues (and silted up reserviors become run-of-river with reworked intakes).

Small storage dams also have few issues (perhaps raise river water temperatures slightly, bit less aeration depending upon location).

But even large storage dams have great advantages to offset their various costs.  Power was secondary in Aswan, irrigating large areas of new land was the biggest driver.  Offsetting that was loss of historic Nile flooding cycle. IMHO, still a net positive BUT a series of low dams rather than the one high dam might have been better (as proposed by West per my understanding, but Nassar wanted big & the Soviets gave it to him).

Alan.  I usually agree with what you say, but here, I am puzzled. How come you put solar way back, esp relative to geothermal???  
Where I sit right now in the foothills of the eastern mountains, I can look out my window and see lots of solar thermal to heat my house with nothing burning, not even wood of which I have tons, and I have spent some time with solar stirlings and know damn well they work and last a long time.  And sunlight covers areas of which all the above says we have lots.  So tell me why solar isn't first, not way back?
> So tell me why solar isn't first, not way back ?

Solar water heating is a good idea and should be widely used for domestic use.

Solar thermal operating today is basically a solar assisted natural gas plant (use a solar boost to reduce NG use).

However, I am willing to concede that solar thermal has a good shot (not a certainity) as a viable niche in low latitude deserts.  Unlikely in high % clouds/diffusion, low latitude, valuable land south Louisiana as one example.

However, solar thermal has a limited cycle time (daylight).

Solar PV is a "failed technology".  Too many decades, and still too far from competitive economics.  I*F there was going to be a breakthrough, it should have happened by now.  I have listened for too many decades to PV proponents saying that some new breakthough was in the labs, etc.  The actual curve for real world improvements does not ever cross that for wind.

It is one thing to get solar to work, it is MUCH more difficult to make it work economically, with reasonable capital costs.

Geothermal is currently built as base load to minimize capital expense.  However, it could be built to cycle with load easily enough, using it as a "gap filler".  Just add more valves and generators (same wells).

Currently most geothermal plants rotate among wells as they exhaust them and they refill in a few years.  Drawing the same wells 14 hours/day instead of 24 hours/day might solve that.  In any case, geothermal power is GOOD whereever one can get it !  :-)

Thanks, Alan, for a good reply.  I see you admire as I do the Swiss and their works.(Hey-notice the vacuum  tunnel train!). But last I noticed, they were the same species as me and you, albeit a lot grimmer and better armed.  Maybe if somehow we could act more like them, and the Swedes, and some other people, we could in fact solve our energy problems.  

Now, if I could just conjure me up a volcano in these here old bumpy worn down hills, I'd be sittin' pretty!

But then I have this awful thought- I make big mistakes every day, and am forced thereby to recognize I'm pretty stupid.  But, if the usual  tests are any guide, most people are even stupider than I am.  So, is democracy any good when we need to do some big thinking-and acting- real fast?

Any place nearby for a micro-hydro installation ?

I so, contact me at

Current panel efficiency is about 12%, but these are not panels.  They are engines that run off of heat.  And apparently have an efficiency of 30% or more.
Nigeria again:

Oil floats above $64

Oil in New York surged 3.5 percent on Thursday after Italian energy firm Eni said it could not honor crude oil export commitments from its Nigerian Brass River terminal, after a pipeline attack last week.

Nigerian militants kidnap 3 soldiers in oil delta

Militants in Nigeria's oil producing southern delta have abducted three soldiers who ventured into a remote area near a major natural gas plant, an army spokesman said on Friday.

The abduction took place on Thursday night in the Soku area of Bayelsa state, one of the three main oil producing states in the Niger Delta, a vast maze of mangrove-lined creeks.

And pipelines to power plants are being blown as well.

Nigeria: Total Blackout Imminent - PHCN (Page 1 of 2)

Remember Stuart's post Living In The Eemian?

Well, this week's issue of science contains a number of papers on ice.

The Times of London has a summary of two of them


The first study to combine computer models of rising temperatures with records of the ancient climate has indicated that sea levels could rise by up to 20ft (6m) by 2100, placing millions of people at risk.

The threat comes from melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, which scientists behind the research now believe are on track to release vast volumes of water significantly more quickly than older models have predicted. Their analysis of events between 129,000 and 116,000 years ago, when the Arctic last warmed to temperatures forecast for 2100, shows that there could be large rises in sea level.

While the Greenland ice sheet is expected to start melting as summer temperatures in the Arctic rise by 3C degrees to 5C (5.4F-9F), most models suggest that the ice sheets of Antarctica will remain more stable.

The historical data, however, show that the last time that Greenland became this warm, the sea level rise generated by meltwater destabilised the Antarctic ice, leading to a much higher increase than can be explained by Arctic ice alone.

The papers compare today's climate to the Eemian (the last time the climate was this warm), and warn that rising (and warming) seas may destabilize Antarctic ice sheets, and lead to the oceans rising faster than expected.

This was quite similar to Stuart's argument.


Such a rise would threaten cities such as London, New York, Bombay and Tokyo. Large parts of the Netherlands, Bangladesh and Florida would be inundated, and even smaller rises would flood extreme low-lying areas, such as several Pacific islands and New Orleans.

It's really stunning, how quickly the scientific view of global warming is changing.  We really do seem to be at some kind of tipping point.

It's a scientific tipping point, at least. Seems like every week there's more bad news about warming.

Here's what bothers, me, from this week's Science editorial:

A central feature of this long baseline is this: At no time in at least the past 10 million years has the atmospheric concentration of CO2 exceeded the present value of 380 ppmv. At this time in the Miocene, there were no major ice sheets in Greenland, sea level was several meters higher than today's (envision a very skinny Florida), and temperatures were several degrees higher. A more recent point of reference, and the subject of two papers in this issue, is the Eemian: the previous interglacial, about 130,000 to 120,000 years ago. This was a warm climate, comparable to our Holocene, during which sea levels were several meters higher than today's, even though CO2 concentrations remained much lower than today's postindustrial level.
The truth is that present-day CO2 levels are already more than high enough to cause all these bad effects. We have passed the tipping point. And no matter what we do, no matter how stringent the controls we add on new emissions, CO2 will continue to rise at least past 400 ppm and probably past 500. The best we could do is maybe level off about 550, and that would take enormous sacrifice and an unprecedented degree of world cooperation.

The hard truth is that this won't solve things. We'll still see London and New York under water (parts of them, anyway). We'll still lose Florida and much of the Gulf coast. We'll still see 20 feet or more of sea level rise. That's already in the cards! We passed that "tipping point" quite a few years back. As the article notes, today's 380 ppm is already high enough to melt much of the ice.

It's a pretty unhappy message, but that seems to be what the science says now. One of the tests I use to see whether a report on global warming is political or not is whether it implies that if we could just sign on to Kyoto and similar agreements, all this will be fixed. If there is an implication that working to control emissions will fix the problem, IMO that is a political and not a scientific document. At this point the science actually undercuts the political message by basically saying that it's too late, political action is useless to prevent these things from happening.

However, the truth is that there is hope. It comes from a different direction and requires a philosophical approach that is contrary to today's dominant concepts, especially among the intelligentsia. That is to give up on the whole "man lives lightly on the earth" principle and to accept that we must take responsibility for mega-scale engineering.

The only way to solve global warming is to take the CO2 out of the atmosphere. That's the bottom line. We must turn away from "small is beautiful" and adopt an aggressive, decades-long scientific program to create technologies that will allow us to run this planet the way we run a factory. We need to be able to turn a knob and say, let's set the CO2 level to 350 and see how that goes for a while. That is the only hope to avoid these catastrophes.

Do such technologies exist? Well, not today. But they are on the drawing boards. Nanotech and biotech are particularly promising as they would allow for massive production of microscopic CO2 extraction engines at low cost. We're not able to do that yet but it is certainly conceivable to achieve this technology in a crash program by, say, 2050. Other directions should be pursued as well.

It's not going to be popular, because it requires going back to the old idea of "progress", of dependence on science and technology and advancement of knowledge. It also requires accepting that human intervention can make things better, another violation of modern-day academic dogma. But we have no more time for the luxury of fashionable self-doubt and denigration of science. We have to put this behind us and accept that we have made a mess and we are going to fix it. It is time for us to take on the responsibility that is now inevitable, that man must become the true master of this planet.

I accept we have made a mess.  I also accept that we probably cannot fix it.

A giant knob that lets us adjust CO2 levels is just plain loony.  Better to spend that money adjusting to climate change.  (Waterworld, here we come?)

My initial reaction to such schemes is to say they are hopeless, and that we would likely cause as much, if not more, problems trying to "fix" it than if we simply accepted what we have done and learned to adapt as best we can.  

Also, I would worry that if people even begin to think that "technology will fix it", then it will become an excuse to just keep pouring GHG into the atmosphere.


If you look at the vast number of people who live in, and are dependant on, the locations that would be flooded, it is obvious that we cannot have sea level rises of this magnitude without massive die off.  Do we not then have a responsibility to try to help?  Is just accepting this OK?

I'm torn between these two approaches.  

Of course we should try to help.  The best way to do that is to start preparing now for rising sea levels.  Not to throw everything we have at a long-shot chance to reverse it.
Yeah, the capitalists harmed them, and we need to help.
Welcome them to our inland tribes and campfires, and let their stories become our legends that prevent capitalists from ever again taking control of this planet.


When we ceded control of coining money to the private Federal Reserve, we proclaimed the need to be ruled by bankers. Perhaps one day we'll correct the mistake with a currency for the people.

Booming Voice: "Noah, this is God!"

Noah: "R-i-g-h-t!"

Booming Voice:  "Noah!  I want you to build me an ark!"

Noah:  "R-i-g-h-t......What's an ark?"

And so forth.

(Thanks to the author of Genesis and to Bill Cosby.)

We are all absolutely vulnerable.

By the time "we" actually become "we" again -- capable of collective comprehension and response to global climate change -- we may be past the point of mitigating the effects of the change very significantly.

We may never become "we" in the sense of a species sharing an understanding of global climate change and capable of a collective mitigating response.

We must work toward this, but must also build arks however and where ever we can, understanding that most of us are not likley to make it to seeing that rainbow at the end of this particular flood.

Not that the whole planet was ever literally covered with water before or will be again.

But the story of "Noah and the Ark" truly seems insightful to me.

Build arks, work to build awareness, and remember that none of us is all that likely to survive.  Someone's children and grandchildren may survive.  That would be swell.

Twilight, I was harsh and aggressive on earlier posts and for that I apologize, but it is ingrained in my character to defend what I believe....So we agree to disagree.

In my home town during the deppression they had a volunteer public works project to plant a large variety of fruit and nut trees producing at different times of the year.  They were all on public side walks and city property and belonged to everyone...if you wanted apples it was firest come first serve.  In the plan atleast. The trees did not produce until after WWII and many were cut down because the unclaimed apples were landing on the street and sidewalk.  Collecting them (as with recycling) was seen as something poor people do.  I don't think similar stigmas on recycling exist today just many people are lazy.

If legislation made:

  1. planting programs like the one above.
  2. Home solar power a real option through tax incentives
  3. Recycling mandatory.

Many Kwh would slow down fossil usage, and all the new trees would sink more CO2.  This is not a moonshot its easy and cheap.  How many miles of roads are there in the US.  Take 50% of that number and put a tree every 20 feet.  It can't hurt.  I'm sure there are plenty of middleschool kids that would have a blast a week or two each year planting trees. When I was in middleschool earth day was a week long.

If not kids our prison system is full of minor offenders who could engage in a public work like this. All they need is shovels and saplings (and a fat guy with sunglasses and a shotgun). Prisoners are evenly spread across ourt country also.

It won't be some "Giant CO2" knob that saves us it will be a change in habit and a bit of stewardship both in governments and every individual.

Besides trees are nice.

I agree, but it's going to be an uphill climb.

I live in apple country.  (Or what used to be apple country; now it's fast becoming yet more sprawl.)  There used to be apple trees everywhere.  People used to keep a few when they developed the land; it was nice to have some full-grown trees, and fruit trees in the yard was a tradition for many of the Italian families who settled this area.

Now they are gradually all being cut down, because homeowners find them "messy."  Official policy is not to plant fruit trees on publiic land (parks, roadsides, etc.).  Why?  Liability.  Fruit falls on people.  It's a tripping hazard.  Kids pick them up and throw them at windows and cars.  And the government gets sued.    

I believe the last time a discussion about actively trying to remove CO2 from the atmosphere came up, the method of planting trees was raised.  I'm certainly game for this, but does anyone have some numbers?  What if we did a massive re-forestation - how effective would this be?  How long would it take to work?
Planting trees cant hurt and can provide fuel for home heating in the future.  As soon as you plant them it will start to work every inch a tree grows sinks CO2 from the atmosphere.

What ever happened to the iron fertilization in the high nitrate areas of the ocean?

...there are plenty more sites out there.

The gist of it is that unless the fixed carbon (algal biomass) sinks below 100 - 200 m ('deep ocean') then most of that carbon will be released back to the atmosphere relatively quickly.
The other issue is that of scaling and the debate centres on how much of the earths ocean would need to be treated to produce an effective response. One of the above links I think suggests ~20% for a 38ppm reduction in atmospheric CO2. Thats a lot of ocean.
Thirdly what are the ecological and other (perhaps unforseen) effects?

Alright so begins small say .01% of the earths oceans.  This could be an automated dispenser on the back end of US Navy ships while on already scheduled trips.  GPS sytem turns on and off whenever in target zones. Closely monitor results, and double the amount every year.  If there is a negative impact. quit.  The target of 20 % would be hit in less than 12 years. At that point most ocean going vessels would need the system but it would be a slow ramp up.  So no special trips and slow progression of experiment.  My understanding is fisheries could benefit.  Any Input?
There is the germ of an idea here.  Although sceptical, it has merit, as you say, for further study... unless someone knows of a killer publication/study out there that totally discredits the idea.  Perhaps instead of the US Navy, Tankers could be required to perform this as an offset for the damage done by the product they are carrying?  Both Tankers and Freighters might do this in conjunction with ballast tank flushing in the deep ocean.  I think this is supposed to be done to prevent introduction of non indigenous organisms. However, any such "solution" is useless with out binding committments on reductions in emissions, and other social engineering campaigns - to reduce overall environmental degradation. At face value it sounds more feasable (for want of more info) than other carbon sequestration mechanisms I've heard of.  But I think you should rule out fisheries benefits - the idea is to bury the carbon in the deep ocean - not eat it and fart it out again.
Give me 25 or so years and a billion or two dollars and I could replant 80+% of Iceland.  Mainly with trees larger than original birches, but birches are best in some areas.

By 2100, I would expect 6.5 billion tonnes of carbon capture, equal to one years fossil fuel burn.  Sitka spruce would keep growing (with periodic thinning) for 600 years and multimeter diameter trees.  Quality wood is used in construction, furniture so half of wood cut could stay captured for a long time.  Perhaps 13 billion tonnes of carbon captured by 2200.

Discussed this over Viking beer with local experts :-)

To keep jumping around -

you are describing the town and region where I live in Germany, today.

The world is a big place. Just because Americans are currently tending to utter idiocy is no reason to think the rest of humanity does.

Not that other societies can't be idiotic, mind. But a concrete example from today's America - which society is spending half of all the world's total military expenditures on its own military - and why? What a waste - and let's be honest, a nuked city is pretty worthless, and soldiers seem to only be skilled at pipeline destruction (Iraqis, Nigerians, Columbians as a sample, not an exhaustive list), not at oil infrastructure repair or creation.

But then, what car company that used to represent America pinned its hopes last year on selling larger vehicles, and closing factories making smaller cars, because the larger cars have a higher profit margin? You would have thought the 70s would have been experience enough to learn from, but no, true stupidity seems to require destruction to drive the lesson home deeply enough. Maybe this explains why so many American peak oil discussions seem to revolve around either clean slates following total destruction or technological miracles. Faith is the last refuge of the ignorant, it seems, regardless of what language the holy words are written in.


Me thinks you are playing fast and loose with the data sets.

First, past data does not predict an inflection point.  So using climate data sets dating back 150 years does not indicate an inflection to rapidly increasing temperature.

Two, Many people put forward valid theories linking global warming, fossil fuels, and CO2 as far back as the 1970's.  They predicted an inflection point in the near future.  These people were largely ignored and told they had no evidence to support their theories.  (see First above)

Third, many groups have been pushing for reduction of greenhouse gases for 25 years because of the theories presented in Two above.  But, as late as 2004 the U.S. government was still (is still today?) denying that their is any link between human activity and a rise in temperature or even that humans are causing a rise in CO2 levels.  They were quote "natural variations in a system that oscillates over centuries".  I believe you yourself have advocated this position a time or two on this site.  An argument based on "We can't know the changes we are seeing are outside the bounds of what the earth naturally does when man is not present, particularly when we have only been collecting data for a century or so."

Fourth, to have put in practice (especially in the U.S.) a curb on fossil fuel burning may have slowed or stopped the increase of CO2 and global warming if started a few decades ago.  CO2 levels have gone up very rapidly since the early 1980's.  But this didn't happen because we were always told that to do so would make us less competitive in the market place.  Business profits and growing the economy have always been more important than curbing fossil fuel usage.  This has not changed as of 2006.

Lastly, now that scientists have spent decades gathering data and essentially confirming their worst fears of a link between fossil fuels and global warming you say their data is not relevant.  You now blissfully say The truth is that present-day CO2 levels are already more than high enough to cause all these bad effects. We have passed the tipping point.  This is the height of hypocrisy since this was not accepted, merely postulated 20 years ago.  

People like you, who are overly optomistic about man solving problems, need to be more accepting that we are better at screwing them up.  When the data starts pointing to a problem we should heed that data, not wait for absolute confirmation.  You may be correct now that there is not a lot we can do to fix CO2 levels now.  It does not logically follow that this was the case 20-25 years ago.

You are one of the most optomistic posters here about the affects of peak oil.  You are (I believe) still in the camp that thinks the peak is well in the future.  No data seems to sway you from that belief.  The problem with your approach is this.  If we pull out all the stops and drive for energy efficiency we might be able to minimize the impacts of peak oil by being proactive.  Your approach is to wait until there is indisputable evidence that we are peaking and then change our behavior in a reactive manner.  You seem to think this is the prudent thing to do.  I don't mean to be offensive but I see this as stupidity.  

Humans aren't smart enough to see consequences ahead of time?  A lot of us in specific scientific disciplines are this smart.  We are frustrated by having all our efforts belittled until it is obvious to everyone that we were right all along.  And then get berated for allowing this crisis to happen when we knew all along what the outcome would be.  Well people are screaming at the top of their proverbial lungs that we have a problem with fossil fuels today (supply, CO2 generation, global warming, etc) and you are still arguing that there is no problem.

You are wrong.  But no one can prove it one way or the other for years.  At that point it will be too late to say "I told you so".

The only caveat I would mention is that the historical correlation between CO2 and temperature is not thoroughly understood - temperature changes appear to lead CO2 changes to some degree.  Presumably there are feedback loops both ways.  So comparing the significance of current forced levels of CO2 with naturally produced levels of CO2 in the past may not be valid.  It's better to reason in terms of temperatures and forcings.

That said, I broadly agree with the rest of your sentiments.  It increasingly appears that we are either going to find ways to take carbon out of the atmosphere or suffer significant consequences.  Whether or not we will be able to do that is hard to predict, but it certainly seems worth trying before we just assume the problem is hopeless.


In your investigations, have you come across estimates of the error in the time scale used for plots of CO2 and T vs Time?  It seems to me that often the main emphasis seems to be on the error in the y axis of these plots.
How is the time estimated?
If the temperature is based on isotopic signature of the water molecules, and the [CO2] is from gas bubbles trapped in the ice, over a long enough time period, can these gas bubbles rise even slightly in the ice? Just wondering... what are the sources and magnitudes of error in these measurements.

We may not be able to stop 20 feet of sea rise, Halfin, but it looks like aggressive CO2 emission limits might stop 200 feet of sea rise (the melting of the entire Antarctic ice sheet). And why wait til we can take CO2 out of the atmosphere? We have to start somewhere and limiting emissions is a good start and possible right now. If we can remove the crap later, more power to us, but if we cannot then limiting emissions (which is provably doable right now) is what will have to occur. Plus the more we limit CO2 now, the slower and less bad the total warming may be since CO2 is a primary driver in that warming.

You claimed that we need to be responsible. Take your own medicine, please. The first thing we can do to be responsible is to stop crapping in our own bed. We can worry about cleaning up what's already emitted later but the very first step is to stop doing what's bad rather than advocating continuing the same behavior and hoping for some miracle to rescue us. If the miracle comes, great! And if not, then we're already doing the best we can do. But delaying because we might, just maybe, possibly, could have some miracle breakthrough smacks of religious faith, not reality-based responsibility.

> The only way to solve global warming is to take the CO2 out > of the atmosphere.

I think it will be easier to build solar sails that shadow our planet then get massive ammounts of CO2 out of our atmosphere. The easy solutions for CO2 removal collide with poorer regions easy way to get energy and sustainable biomass energy.

But some industrialized regions with nuclear power etc and a high level of technology could launch satellites or build up an orbital manufacturing capacity to build shadowing sattelites. Its technically harder but you only need a few 100 million people cooperating, not billions of people cooperating.

To give the devil his due, the Bush Administration has been funding a MASSIVE set of scientific research projects (which they then try to control reports from) instead of Kyoto.  The raw data collected goes into the collective scientific database, which others can interpret.

Thus thank GW Bush for the quick advance in scientific understanding of GW.

BTW, there are crocodile teeth in what is now permafrost on Artic islands.

Well, there's probably no better way to capture the attention of the rich and powerful than suggest their property is going to be underwater soon (meaning before they die).  I think it's a great way for global warming to get the serious attention it deserves.
It's our "cleverness" and "ingenuity" in creating all this technology and engineering of the environment that has resulted in the hole we're digging ourselves deeper into. It's not a goddamn tunnel we're digging, with a beautiful clean aired landscape at the other end. It's a straight down hole to hell where we'll fry, thanks to our fatal lack of wisdom. Hubris defines us.
I'm preparing for a EOS showing at my church this weekend and I wanted to show a time series chart of prices for all different non-renewable primary energy sources (oil, NG, coal, Uranium) and then perhaps show the cost for renewables next to that. Any good charts and/or data sets that folks have would be great. I've scanned EIA and some other sites, but I haven't quite found what I want.
A key point is that we use (worldwide)--from nuclear + fossil fuel sources--the energy equivalent of one Gb of oil every five days.

It took about 70 years to fully deplete the East Texas Oil Field, the largest oil field in the Lower 48.   We use the energy equivalent of the East Texas Field every 30 days.

You might want to review the article that Kheab and I did:

My advice, in Peak Oil talks, is:  (1)  try to reduce the distance between home and job to as close to zero as possible; (2)  aim toward living on 50% of your current income and (3)  give some serious consideration to home gardening, or possibly buying a small organic farm.  

Owning a small farm would do two things:  (1)  provide a source of food during retirement and (2)  it will give your unemployed college graduates something to do.  It is also a way to make money off Peak Oil, while having a positive impact on the community.

pg. 178 of Tertzakian has a graph of NG, Crude, Coal, Uranium from 1999 thru 2005. Maybe somebody here can scan it in for you. I might be able to do it later.
Please consider including some of my paper "Electrification of Transportation as a Response to Peak Oil'.  I am NOT advcoating electric cars, but well established electric freight trains and electrified urban rail (+ trolley buses).

I do not knwo what city you are in, but I mogth be able to point you towards a local project.

Best Hopes,

With all of the changes reported from the world's tundras,
has anyone done a study of what will happen when the
treeline/tundra ecotone moves northward, and alpine forest
replaces the existing tundra flora?

Are trees better able to sequester carbon than tundra flora?
How much new forest will be created each year, and what will
that mean to the global climate?

The Icelandic Forest Service (Skogur) has done related research, along with other Nordic (& Canada) forest reaseachers on afforestation.  (I gave a paper at a Nordic conference in Iceland).  Some researhc in Russia as well.

Overall, quite positive from a carbon capture POV.  Reforesting Iceland with the same small tree/shrubs would set GW back 1 year.  Using larger trees could set back GW by more.  It would take a stepped up effort (today they reforest ~1% every decade+) and a century + to grow.

For the Arctic, I think that it is what is under the surface that is most important, not what is growing on top. There is alot of organic matter in the frozen soil that will go into released CO2 if the tundra goes to forest.

Also, if there is a significant amount of methane hydrate under the tundra, a transition to forest would probably release large quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Losing the tundra to forest contributes to global climate change.

I heard a lecture yesterday by John Podesta, who is "CEO" of "Center for American Progress".  He is all for biofuels, citing Brazil's success, and the "political feasibility" of this option [I guesssince giants like ADM and ExxonMobil will back it]. I am dismayed, I think...  We deplete fossil energy, and fix that problem by planting arable land full of biofuel crops, eventually depleting their fertility?  Or am I being a pessimist?  A questioner asked about leveling rain forest to plant some specialized biofuels crops, and Podesta admitted that this was the "biggest challenge" to the scenario he was hoping for.
You must be a Harvard student or faculty member.
I am retired.  I live near enough to go to public lectures.  The Kennedy School of Government has a calendar of events open to the public (of which there are many) and there is also a Center for the Environment with a calendar.  Matt Simmons was at KSG earlier.

Yesterday I heard Nathan S. Lewis (  for what he says is the same (stump) speech) who is keen to solve problems of global warming, saying there's plenty enough fossil fuel to wreck the climate and GCC needs to be addressed urgently.

This article rates the Ten U.S. Cities Best Prepared for an Oil Crisis

The ten American cities best prepared for $100/barrel oil are:

  1.  New York City
  2.  Boston
  3.  San Francisco
  4.  Chicago
  5.  Philadelphia
  6.  Portland
  7.  Honolulu
  8.  Seattle
  9.  Baltimore
  10. Oakland

They based the rankings on "recent city commute practices, metro area public transportation, sprawl, traffic congestion, local food and wireless network access (in order of importance: see chart). There are many other areas that rising oil prices will affect: construction, retail goods of all types, utilities (especially in the Northeast, the one part of the nation where heating oil is used)--virtually every aspect of our economy will be hit."

I guess they didn't take into account the chances that city will become a 21st century Atlantis due to rising sea levels.

One issue is if the suburbs are included or not.

I would have ranked (preKatrina) 1) NYC (despite high energy use in high rises, offest by low rises in Brooklyn, Queens, etc.) 2) SF 3) New Orleans 4) Boston ...

Not included in their ranking is accessability to efficient freight hauling.  Water is most efficient, railroads next.  This New Orleans & Chicago lead the nation in.  6 of 7 major North American railroads, ocean port, Mississippi River and Intercoastal Canal system.

I just went round the corner for coffee and saw the San Francisco Chron, with the lead story being about the new Science papers.  They had this graphic of the 20 foot contour line in SF.  Looks like a sizeable fraction of the business district would end up below sea level (not to mention a lot of the city's bad neighbourhoods down by the Bay).

Of course San Francisco can afford to build the necessary levees at some point in coming decades.  But given that the Bay Area also has a 70% chance of a >7.0 earthquake in the next 25 years, that might have its own issues.

A sizeable fraction of the Sacramento delta and Central Valley would also flood.  That's prime agricultural land.

In February, one of the wire services had an article about the danger of building on flood plains.  They predicted Sacramento would be the next New Orleans.    The government originally built some levees to protect farmers' fields.  That was a huge mistake.  The levees greatly increased the value of the land, and so of course the farmers sold it to developers.  Now there are hundreds of houses where farmland used to be - in harm's way.  One expert said, "All levees fail.  The question is when, not if."

My sister lives in Sacramento, and she says there was massive flooding over the Christmas holidays.  The people who built behind the levees are bad enough, but she says many have built their houses between the levees and the river.  Craziness.

oh, that's just lovely.  Good thing I never bought that condo in SoMA, whew!  :P  
Here is something courtesy of, by the senior former oil person whom the Iranians have had under house arrest at various times - particularly during recent ASPO conferences.  In my opinion, it's enough of a bombshell that I'm very tempted to copy the whole thing into this post.  (But, upon second thought, I will refrain.)  Bakhtiari essentially thinks that worldwide peak-gas is right at hand also.

Then go to the bottom of the page, and click on the box with the following title:

by A.M. Samsam Bakhtiari
(March 2006)

 I think this is great news. After our debate over oil sands production being reliant on NG and the EROEI, now we have ethanol production which is reliant on coal fired power generation.

 Lets produce tons of GHG so we can delivery a negative EROEI fuel to the thirsty fleet of SUVs. Mind boggling. But profitable. Marx must be amused.

I did a double take when I heard on the news that Brazil wants to import more coal eg
My own little paradise of Tasmania is making that all important step of transitioning from wind and hydro to increased coal use.

Cheap and nasty wins every time.

Hello TODers,

Recall my recent postings calling for a scientific commission and the creation of biosolar habitats.  Keeping everyone out is the crux of the problem because WTSHTF everyone else will want IN to these biosolar habitats--this cannot be allowed, thus my Earthmarines.  But the biosolars will be so busy and poor, in comparision to the detritovores, that they cannot afford to be the Earthmarines themselves: the external detritovores MUST BE WILLING to DIE IN PLACE at crunchtime, or be willing to fund the Earthmarines to make it so, thus assuring ERoEI > ERoVI.  Otherwise, cooperation is gone, violence rules, the horrific Last Man Standing Scenario.

Overshoot forces violent reactions; but it doesn't have to if cultural mindset can be changed in time.  Consider the reindeer on St Matthew Island, they died in place with no violence [ basically, just starving and shivering to death]:

This is the optimal way to deal with Overshoot, not Easter Island dynamics.  But are humans smart enough to peacefully optimize the squeeze thru the Dieoff Bottleneck?  If New England and the American NW are willing to secede from the Union to become the initial biosolars, would the people in other states agree to not migrate there?  Would they be willing to fund an Earthmarine Army to make sure no marauders infiltrate these initial efforts?

The best solutions to Overshoot will come from new 'outside the box' thinking.  Perhaps a new Bill of Rights to precipitate a peaceful decline?  I hope there is still enough time.

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

Bob, I'll repost from the old thread:

We've flirted with the Earthmarine concept here in the valley to protect the biosolars from the detris ... We've certainly got enough guns around here.

My quiet hope is for a semi-nonviolent devolution into bioregions, or provinces, in which government would be real again, rather than enablers for white-collar looting. Survival government is what we need.

One problem here is we have huge amounts of coal-bed gas on the mountainside, but Halliburton controls it. I would assume they'll develop their own mercenary army to ensure that gas doesn't get tapped for local survival.

Interesting road we're on ...

My personal out-of-the-box thinking originally focused on a fairly rugged survival sail boat anchored off a deserted cove in Alaska, where we would quietly fish for salmon for a few years while things got difficult down in the lower 48.

(They do make stainless-steel 50 calibers, by the way ...)

Arghhh, me hearty: Sailorman approves of sailboats, for survival and also fun.

I question the advisability of an Alaskan cove, however. Not only are women scarce up in Alaska;-) but the weather is nasty much of the year. Furthermore, in a SHTF scenario, I think piracy would flourish along the Alaskan coast for a variety of reasons. (Hint: Study the history of piracy.) Think instead, perhaps, about cruising the Pacific down to Hawaii, to New Zealand, maybe doing some trading along the way. In any case, your best bet is to cruise in familiar waters, because otherwise you may end up hitting a reef and sinking.

Rather than stocking up on stainless steel machine guns, I'd choose my crew with great care and worry about weapons later. Weapons are easy to get, expertise is not.

Don't forget to buy a good sextant and windup chronograph, and learn how to use it.  One almost looks forward to real navigation again !!!
Good point: Many skills that younger folk thought obsolete may once again become invaluable. I do hope any global collapse is not so bad that we have to go back to windup chronometers, however, because it is so very comforting to know the exact time in Greenwich.

For what it is worth, my guess is that we are unlikely to see technology retreat back beyond that available in 1955 or thereabouts--even in my worst case scenario that includes a fairly abrupt decline in world population from about seven billion to two billion.

Social order on seas and oceans, however, could retreat to levels not seen since the eighteenth century, if resources to maintain navies are not available. And to what extent navies are funded depends entirely on politics, on which topic I confess to having a clouded crystal ball;-)

 Does someone still produce the precision mechanical escapement required for a nautical chronometer? The associated manual skills required for assembly - where is the skill resevoir for those? I cannot locate my copy of Nories Nautical Tables and do not remember the publisher; how do you reduce a sight without them? What do we do once paper charts have been made obsolescent and unavailable due to broad acceptance of digital substitutes?

 The economics of the digital world have resulted in the accelerated die-off of an entire host of mechanical/analog technologies. Don speaks of returning to an 18th C technological era but my hunch is that even that may be very difficult. It would also be very expensive due both to scarcity pricing and the fact that we will be unwinding the multitude of savings associated with the introduction of digital technologies.

For Nories Tables.

Unfortunately that was the easy one to answer.  I share your misgivings regarding the lost skills in precision engineering.  

No, no, no: My worst-case scenario does not have TECHNOLOGY returning to the eighteeth century but rather "law and order" on the high seas. For technology, I think worst-case scenario is retreat about fifty years.

Old books of logarithms and data needed for navigation are readily available, are as most editions of Bowditch.

With a bit of luck the future will be not too bleak for most people now in prosperous societies. For the poorest people in the world, the ones who cannot get a safe drink of water, I think much worse times are in store.

For a specific example, it is hard to think of a worse place in the world than Haiti. That has been true, BTW, for almost 500 years. However, bad as things are there, they can get much much worse.

Also, anything you want to get in the way of paper charts, books on doing cartography the old-fashioned way, or classic nautical instruments is readily available--but not cheap.

Personally, I'm saving up for a six-pounder naval cannon that uses black powder--most impressive as a starting gun for yacht races;-)

Several Swiss watch makers still make mechanical chronometers (although not nautical AFAIK) for the luxury trade.  Their files have the old plans, they have the old skills, and tools,...
Hello Don in Colorado,

Consider the island of Hispaniola in the Carribean: Haiti on the west side, Dominican Republic on the east.  Haiti is almost entirely deforested, the eastern country is not-- which is more sustainable?

If this island does nothing to change, then we are looking at potentially the next Easter Island [both sides deforested], and all the horrific results as ERoVI > ERoEI.  I argue it would be much better to fund a huge education effort so that all these islanders will voluntarily choose ERoEI, control their pop. #s.... on and on to create a sustainable biosolar habitat [both sides of the island reforested and MUCH more].

The foreign foodaid this island currently receives does nothing to create proper political biosolar & Powerdown reform.  Eventually, as postPeak forces assert themselves, no more aid will be sent to these poor people.  I argue that educational reform focused around the concepts inherent in the Thermo-Gene Collision will create a voluntary desire to optimize their habitat.  All it takes is the moral will.

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

Have you girls check out this CNN clip...

Hello AC,

Should be required viewing in every high school & college across America!  Just imagine the kids really getting fired up to debate this issue-- everybody would learn alot about Physics & Amer. Govt-- topics that they normally avoid  studying.  Terrific Post! Thxs

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

My level of respect for Charlie just went executive.

Like father like son???

Does anyone else here find this sudden disappearance of the Iranian Oil Bourse rather strange?  From everything I had read up unitl recently it looked like a fait accompli, all scheduled to start in late March. Then quite abruptly the rug gets pulled out from under it. What gives?

What adds to the murkiness is the sudden announcement that Qatar is also planning to open up its own energy bourse.  Given the close and chummy relationship between Qatar and the US, is this a coincidence?

Might this also be a sign of a serious power struggle taking place in Iran between the hard-liners, who want to use the Bourse as an extended middle finger in the face of the US and the moderates who want to improve relations with the US?  

Any thoughts on the subject by any of you who know more about this than I do?

Much as I like the Jules Verne idea, of turning the planet in a huge factory/machine and regulating CO2 and the climate with huge dials and knobs, I don't think it's really a viable alternative. Personally I don't think we will ever be intelligent enough or technologically advanced enough to control the planet's climate/weather patterns. Basically, the planet is too big, we are too small and we cannot build machines that are capable of doing the job. I regard such amazing schemes as indicators of just how desperate we are becoming.

A far more realistic solution, which is both cheaper and more managable, is to turn our backs on modern Capitalism and hyper-consumer culture. I know this sounds drastic, but at least it's a realistic alternative. We need a new economic/social paradigm. Carrying on with the one we've had for the last couple of centuries just isn't feasable anymore, and if we do continue in this direction it will lead to the breakdown of our civilization, with all that entails.

Do I really believe we will choose this, as yet unknown and un-named, "realistic" alternative? Well, not really. Unfortunately, all the signs are that we are moving in the wrong direction. Just look at the political leaders we have. Do these people really look like have a clue about anything? They mostly remind me of warlords. I think they are going to choose force and violence rather than co-operation and sharing.

Are our leaders really leaders at all? Do they actually explain anything to us? Do they use their positions to inform, educate and enlighten? Or do they do the exact opposite? Aren't they really just followers and true believers in a socio/economic model that's doomed?

I don't think free-market liberal capitalism is capable of providing the answers to our climate/environmental/energy problems. I wish I did. I really wish the current system could just go on and on. I would choose that scenario anyday, rather than disintegration and conflict. It would make things so much easier and help me see the coming decades as an opportunity rather than a menace.

I think, once the cheap energy is gone, one way or another we'll return to the kind of society we had before cheap energy, doesn't that sound kind of logical? Of course this "transition" could very well manifest itself in lots of unpleasant ways, which we perhaps shouldn't go into right now. Perhaps we won't be able to go back? Perhaps once we start going back we won't be capable of stopping at a chosen point? Maybe we won't be in charge anymore? One can, of course, always console oneself with comforting notion that Peak Oil, is, infact, a falacy, and that eternal wealth and eternal growth is our only destiny.

writerman -

Well put!  I agree with much of what you say.

While man is ultimately capable of deliberately influencing climate (we are already doing it inadvertently), I do agree that the many dynamic systems that constitute that which we loosely call 'weather' are so complex and chaotic that we would surely screw it up if we tried to do so. We would be constantly correcting and then over-correcting, and in the process we would experience many unpleasant surprises.

Any of these 'Grand Schemes' to get the human race back to a more benign existence a priori requires a totalitarian state, for such a goal requires firm and rigid control over all aspects of life.  While this benevolent state is trying to return us to the 'garden', what do they do with the renegade who wants to own a large speedboat or drive a vintage 1960s muscle car? Or the person who has the money to build a huge wasteful mansion?  Does this benevolent state establish a gulag for such people? I think we already know the answer. No, any Grand Scheme, no matter how benevolent in its intentions requires a totalitarian state, which in short order will become  grotesque and create a nightmarish existence for its subjects.

And  with regard to some previous posts, what's with this stuff about 'biosolars' and detritovores'?  Methinks someone has seen too many Mad Max or sci-fi movies.

At least in the US, the post Peak Oil world is not likely to be so exotic. Rather, I think it will be more like the former Soviet Union during the worst days of the Brezhnev  regime. Instead of Mad Max we will probably have government apparatchiks and the well-connected riding around in large SUVs while the proles (the ranks of which will constitute most of us) will make do with either bicycles or crappy public transportation.  Expect chronic shortages of everything, long lines at pathetic under-stocked stores, grim Soviet-style high-rise public housing, and an abundance of cheap booze and semi-legal drugs to keep the masses anesthetsized.

But for all this to come about, a firm police state with almost total surveillance powers must first be put into place.  And judging from the way things are going in the US and the UK, that phase is close to being accomplished. No, I think that a post Peak Oil world will be neither dangerous nor exciting for the average person -  just gritty, boring, and depressing.


Hello Joule,

Thxs for responding.  Your Quote: "And  with regard to some previous posts, what's with this stuff about 'biosolars' and detritovores'?  Methinks someone has seen too many Mad Max or sci-fi movies".

I realize my posts just lightly touch subjects-- my long posts got deleted by the webmasters, but I now realize that is the conversational norm for TOD. So be it.

Hopefully, this is concise enough to bring you and others up to speed.  Biosolars: those wishing to reduce their use of ancient sunshine, yet accelerate the growth of bionatural processes, and rely, as much as possible on natural infrastructure to retain modernity [PV,wind,hydro,tidal generation].  Detritovores: those in Denial who will cling to using ancient sunshine for as long as possible because of the massive leverage in every aspect of life it affords.

A police state is not necessary if everyone resists implementing ERoVI; if we seek to emulate our decline like the reindeer on St. Matthew Island.  For example, if NW secedes to Powerdown, but a 200 mile DMZ buffer is established outside the direct biosolar habitat-- this would preclude 95% of any starving detritovores from ever reaching the biosolar area.  The DMZ would also be a great place for other lifeforms to increase their numbers relatively unmolested.  If all roads, bridges, gas stations, etc, were shutdown by Earthmarines in this DMZ area, the detritovores would basically be denied the chance to invade and inflict violence on the biosolars.

The detritovores should be in favor of this because any breakthroughs achieved by the biosolars can then be gradually expanded to include more and more sustainable area as more and more people realize that powerdown is the way to go.  There was a well written essay on Energybulletin a few months ago that basically said that individual efforts to create a personal Ark will be doomed to failure as it will be easily overrun by a mob.  I am trying to create a consensus that the best alternative to individual Arks is to, instead, politically create a huge contiguous biosolar ARK that optimizes defensibility and expansion space for other lifeforms.

If the basic pretext for the NW or NE to secede is Powerdown: most current inhabitants, not wishing to be the early pioneers in this movement, will migrate to the detritovore enclaves.  What will be left is a crucial hard-core 'critical mass' seeking biosolar sustainability at all costs.  Their tremendous detritus energy savings can be transferred to the outside enclaves to help further maintain e/capita above levels that generate violence.

I hope this helps you understand where my thought processes are headed.

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

If someone were to say hold a bowl of coco puffs in front of you, what would you do?
Hello Oilrig Medic,

I have thought about this for countless hours.  If I was truly starving and had no prospects to earn an honest meal: I would rather die than inflict violence upon my neighbor.  What is your choice?

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

totoneila -

Are you REALLY sure of that?

Hello Joule,

Very interesting question.  99% sure, 1% fear my lizard brain will override my other grey matter.  Probabilities indicate it is largely out of my control.  52 soon, thick glasses, helpless in a fistfight if my glasses knocked off, never any military experience, no hunting experience, don't own any guns, cannot hit the side of a barn when using a friend's gun.  Quiet, introspective bookworm kid in school, never picked a fight, prefer to run.

Figure to be on receiving end of violence WTSHTF: old man shuffling along with a crust of bread will be an easy target for starving young thugs. Such is life.  Happens all the time right now to old folks in Africa.  Rising death rates always impact weak and old first.

Probably impossible to ascertain, but I surmise a lot of Easter Islanders threw themselves off cliffs vs willingly hacking their neighbors for Soylent Green Steak Sandwiches.

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

Too simplistic Bob - throw wife and staving kids into the mix.

"Do not go gentle into that good night, but rage, rage against the dying of the light"

My choice? I'd be your neighbor. If you would rather die than fight, I won't try to talk you out of it. "Those who want to live, ..." as the quote goes.
Hello Haggisbasher and sr,

Remember the Andean Plane Crash?  No murder there and conditions were as dire as possible.  Maybe you guys are overestimating your desire for violence?  Sorry, no behavioral expert here, topic needs much more scientific discussion.  Sorry, busy for awhile-- maybe future thread topic again.

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

When you say neighbor, I am assuming you mean the "biblical" neighbor aka fellow human than the literal guy next door.

This feels like one of the questions posed to christ by the pharisees trying to trick him into violating jewish law.  It seems as though you bait me to offend some TODers.

I'll take the cheese from your trap.

I am an excellent hunter and do so often. I've eaten every almost every animal in NA thats edible. I enjoy the outdoors. I like to garden. I have however been without food for more than ten days, and been on a severly low caloric intact for 64 days of ranger school in the US Army.
In Rangerschool, a chow thief is a despised vile individual. I never stole chow. I would have been stealing from my brother.  It is sort of a confucian ring of loyalty for me.

Direct Answer:  In the off chance I was or my family was starving I would steal food from you.  If you resisted I would hurt you, kill you if neccesary. If you had no food and no food was to be had, I'm pretty sure you taste like chicken.  I am very prepared to deal with long term food shortages so sleep soundly.  

I have seen the crazy crap starving people do. 100 people will be trampled for a sack of rice that spills.

As far as inflicting violence on your neighbor, It gets easier each time you do it, just takes practice.  Survival is in your DNA or if its not it won't be in your kids.

..Pretty sure you taste like chicken.

Nope, pork.

The phrase used in New Guinea for human meat is "long pig".

>this benevolent state establish a gulag for such people?
No, such people will be running the state and the rest of us can starve for all they care.
...Any of these 'Grand Schemes' to get the human race back to a more benign existence a priori requires a totalitarian state, for such a goal requires firm and rigid control over all aspects of life.

I disagree.  Look at the Swiss example.  WW II oil consumption "powerdown".  The TransAlp rail lines have a VERY hign EROEI (~40 to 1 energy savings, hydro for oil) and would greatly impress Stalin for their scope and daring.

A literate, intelligent/educated, civically involved population helps.

One thing we should immediately do is declare Cuba a World Treasure.  They have endured a cold turkey oil withdrawal and have a ten year headstart on us regarding sustainable agriculture.  We should petition our government to give up on its ridiculous policies regarding Cuba and start programs whereby interested US citizens can travel freely to Cuba without interference from the government.  Conditions in Cuba are tough but they seem to be doing very well given their circumstances.

I sometimes wonder how much of Cuba's success is due to the rapidity with which they lost access to oil.  Existing political power structures were put under such stress that they felt forced to relinquish central control and permitted and encouraged local agricultural autonomy.  If Cuba had been weaned from oil over a ten or twenty year period it might be that the government would have responded very differently.

Switzerland trumps Cuba (lots of nice rich capitalists live in Switzerland).  They underwent a 6 year complete oile ebargo with just 10 months in storage and amilitary to train.

In their lowest oil consumption year, 1945, they got by with 26 days worth of oil at 1939 consumption rates.  And 19 minutes worth of today's US consumption lasted them a full year !

Today, they are building two MASSIVE rail links* under the Alps to divert 40 million metric tonnes being hauled over the Alps in diesel trucks. My SWAG is the hydroelectric powered rail will use 1/40th of the energy that the diesel trucks use today.  And they get 250 kph passenger service as well.

* Premier link is flat (max grade 0.8%) almost straight between Zurich & Milan with new 57 km, 20 km and 15 km tunnels.  Designed for 200 freight trains/day traveling at up to 160 kph (100 mph).  Secondary link is oversized 34.5 km new tunnel + existing Simplon tunnel going south from Bern.  GREAT EROEI investment !!

So forget all about communist Cuba, not worth looking at.  Let us emulate Switzerland and give them the respect and honors that they deserve !

how about emulating both and hedge your bets?
Why not ?

I MUCH prefer democracy to total population control.

I prefer a high standard of living to prostitution to rich foreign tourists as being a major source of foreign currency*, and the highest paying "job" available.

* This, and not sustainable agriculture, is the secret to the survival of communism in Cuba.

Cuba survives on tourism, much of it sex tourism, more than any other factor.  That is your "World Treasure".

Switzerland is a true World Treasure in many ways.  1000+ year old democracy, a stable, peaceful society with Catholics & Protestants and 3.5 languages, rich with no natural resources.  Close to being a sustainable society today.

Peak Oil Prose

Along the seashore, a man astride, gallops a large black horse. Atop the man's head rests untroubled a great hat. The horse withers and falls. The man tumbles off. The hat plunges into the surf, and is lost.

  • Horse: oil
  • Man: technology
  • Hat: modern civilization
  • Surf: merciless nature

Pedestrian Hell

Hello undeadFiz,

Well said.  I am a hard-core fast-crash Doomer myself, just trying to see if a consenus can be built to create a less dire alternative: Powerdown.  Who knows?  We may yet surprise ourselves and fully optimize the coming Bottleneck Squeeze.

By posting speculative alternate scenarios, it might tickle the brain cells of sufficient geniuses to create a planetary miracle.  I am doubtful, but it is great fun.  I really think Planetary Ecologic Managers, partially composed with some of the really bright people on these forums, could make a huge difference if we can politically organize.  We need a new set of Founding Fathers for the Hubbert Downslope ahead.

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

No matter how one interprets the the past and present, and
more important than any specific scenario, the most
important thing is for the people to wake up to what's afoot.

So I say: "WAKE UP, DAMNIT!"

I have read that the Canadian tar sands may have up to 2 trillion barrels in recoverable resereves--but not with existing technology, versus about 180 Gb now.  

Does  anyone know what the problems are?  My guess is that even if it were technically possible to recover 2 trillion, EROEI would rear its ugly head.

There are a few good threads on posted by FatherOfTwo on Canadian tar sands, very informative:

Canadian Oil Sands impact on PO
Tar Sands : still awash in oil?
Plateau Oil: The Oil Sands


  1. natural gas

  2. water

  3. water

  4. water

  5. water

Sensing the pattern?

westexas you ROCK man!

Thanks for the kind words.  Khebab has been doing all the technical work on the stuff I post.  

In regard to the tar/oil sands question, the current limit on the reserve estimate is not related to natural gas and water (although I agree those are definitely factors).  

I've been having an e-mail debate with a radio talk show guy who has been using the two trillion barrel number.  He has been citing the CBS story:
The Oil Sands Of Alberta

There are 175 billion barrels of proven oil reserves here.  The estimate of how many more barrels of oil are buried deeper underground is staggering.

"We know there's much, much more there. The total estimates could be two trillion or even higher," says Clive Mather, Shell's Canada chief. "This is a very, very big resource."

In regard to the tar/oil sands question, the current limit on the reserve estimate is not related to natural gas and water (although I agree those are definitely factors).  

I'm misreading something or not getting the definitions right.

But Liebig's Law of the Minimum, often referred to simply as Liebig's Law or the Law of the Minimum, is a law developed in agricultural science formulated by Justus von Liebig. It states that growth is controlled not by the total of resources available, but by the scarcest resource.

That would be water first, NG second, so why do you say this does not affect recoverable reserves?


"We know there's much, much more there. The total estimates could be two trillion or even higher," says Clive Mather, Shell's Canada chief. "This is a very, very big resource."

I guess we need to ask Mr. Mather.   The most commonly used number for recoverable tar sand reserves is about 180 Gb.  My question for Mr. Mather would be, "What has to happen for the recoverable reserves to increase from 180 Gb to 2,000 Gb?"  

I agree with the water/NG concerns, but that is not--as far as I know--why the 2,000 Gb number is not more widely used.