Wednesday Open Thread

This is sort of an experimental comment.  We editors have been a bit concerned that sometimes there are a lot of comments to the open threads, so that it takes a fair amount of time to get down to the end (particularly when the numbers get above 100).  So the thought is that we open a new thread when we reach, say 100 posts on the open ones.  

I said that to open this, and give a small item to chat about, and also as an excuse to open a thread so that I could point out that all the work in writing the Olduvai post was done by Lads, so he deserves the kudos, not me!

Cheers and enjoy, and, if it strikes you, let us know what you think about the thread length idea...

The official conspiracy theory that the government has put forth about the events of 9/11 are physically impossible according to a group of scholars at .
Read three peer reviewed papers and watch or listen to presentations. Start on the physics with a lecture by Prof. Jones then go to overview talks by Griffin and Fetzer.
Leanan (if you're out there) - What's your take on this one? Relevant? Seems to meet the criteria set out in the guys in uniform question. Just curious.
Relevant if true.
I would have said no. This topic comes up every few weeks and never results in anything or really makes any connection (direct or indirect) to peak oil. The name the commenter selected underlines that their interest is in the conspiracy not the energy implications.

But I don't think there is a right or wrong here. As the site grows, it is worth discussing how broad the topic range should be. I certainly don't believe my opinion is worth more than anyone else's and wouldn't want anyone to restrict their range of comments based solely on my feedback.

connection (direct or indirect) to peak oil.

Indirect connections:

  1. The use of oil to power the machines of war now deployed.
  2. use of resources/materials instead of creating a soft landing, used in a way that causes destruction of infrastucture elsewhere.
  3. the whole US Dollar economy/oil angle.   Was the war started to have people watch something other than the USD and economy.
  4. The elected people are lying to the voters
I didn't say there aren't indirect connections that exist. I said the commenters don't make the link - or even try.

There are probably indirect links between energy and just about everything. However the 911 issue comes up frequently and usually just rambles on without any progress or either side convincing the other. This thread is a pretty good example. Do you think this discussion is closely related to peak oil?

For what it's worth, here's my two cents with respect to questioning the official government version of why and how the Twin Towers failed.

There are many highly regarded, competent, and objective engineers and scientists who are not conspiracy nuts but who seriously question the official government version. I have read many of these arguments, and I must say that there are many technical reasons for being high skeptical of the official version.

 It is too long to get into here, and I don't want to clog up thread space with a topic that really has nothing to do with the energy situation. But the official explanation that the towers came down because fire had weakened the floor trusses thereby resulting in a rapid and nearly perfect symmetrical failure of the entire structure has some serious problems with it.

I am an engineer, believe myself to be reasonable objective, am not a conspiracy fan, but I truly believe that something is not right with the offiicial explanation. While most of the focus has been on the failure of the two Twin Towers, the case of the failure of WTC-7 is even more bizzare and lacks reasonable explanation.  

Again, this whole subject is best discussed in detail elsewhere, but I just want to go on record, so to speak, that this engineer has his doubts about what really took place on 9-11. I would suggest that you folks out there not automatically dismiss everything as a conspiracy theory, take a good hard and objective look at the various arguments and then arrive at your own conclusion.

But the official explanation that the towers came down because fire had weakened the floor trusses thereby resulting in a rapid and nearly perfect symmetrical failure of the entire structure has some serious problems with it.
And the idea that demolition charges had been placed beforehand (without alerting anyone?) exactly where the airliners would hit (and survive the impact and fire, how?) has much bigger problems with it.

I think this is a meta-conspiracy, created by Karl Rove [1]:  the untenable demolition conspiracy theory is being used to divert and distract the fringe elements on the left, and make their position obviously crackpot and unpalatable to the middle while simultaneously discrediting anything else they have to say (e.g. that the nation is sliding into dictatorship).

In short, the people who propound this nonsense are unwittingly strengthening the hand of the power-grabbers in Washington. [2]

[1] Not really; I don't think Rove is quite that clever, and there are a lot of stupid people creating urban legends.
[2] I wish that was a joke.

And the idea that demolition charges had been placed beforehand (without alerting anyone?) exactly where the airliners would hit (and survive the impact and fire, how?) has much bigger problems with it.

No airplane hit WTC7.   A bit of wreckage, but no plane.  

Can you explain what happened with WTC7?  Beyond 'it fell down'.

As for doing structural building work without notifying anyone, it can be done.   Citibank and the midnight welding is an example.

"A bit of" one of the WTC towers is quite a bit.  Other buildings, including a hotel, were destroyed by falling debris (at least one was hit by stuff from both collapses); why should 7 WTC have been any different?
"A bit of" one of the WTC towers is quite a bit.

In the cases of WTC 3, WTC4, WTC6 and WTC 5 enough to bring down PART of the building during the collaps of WTC1 and WTC2. Destroyed later as 'unsalvageable'.

For WTC 7 to be hit, mateiral needed to first go through WTC 6 space, the plaza space and WTC5 to get to WTC7.   (Space and buildings in the way tend to limit damage.)

Other buildings, including a hotel, were destroyed by falling debris (at least one was hit by stuff from both collapses);

Destroyed?   No.  Damamged.

WTC7 was destroyed.  Hours later,   Reduced to a pile of rubble, in the footprint + 70 foot radius of the building.

why should 7 WTC have been any different?

FEMA suggests a fire caused the building to collapse.  A fire accelerated by diesel.  

Caused the steel framed building to collapse in under 10 seconds after the mechanicals go from the roof line shots.  All done in under a minute.

In its own footprint.  (plus 70 foot radius)  

Actual behavior of steel framed buildings with fires has historically been differently.  (they have remained standing)

Because the FEMA report claims the sequence of the WTC 7 collapse is consistent with an initial failure that occurred internally in the lower floors on the east side of the building.   Yet the visual of the collapse is typical of a controlled demolition where you collapse the internal structure 'all at once'.

Perhaps the unfinished report due in 2004^H5^H6 will provide a report which matches the visual evidence and make sense from an engineering POV.

The way the "controlled implosion" works is by using the weight of some parts of the building to pull the rest down.  Without evidence (which has been destroyed), there's no way to show that this didn't happen exactly as FEMA claimed.

FWIW, there have been close calls with other steel-framed buildings coming near collapse before, and I was reading of the threat of this all the way back in the 1980's.  Someone even patented a water-cooled building frame to prevent such events!  Needless to say, the WTC buildings did not incorporate any such protective measures and they became the first examples of fires which proceeded all the way to collapse.

LOL!!! Another victim of "The Big Lie"

"All this was inspired by the principle - which is quite true in itself - that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes."
---Adolf Hitler "Mon Kempf"

Wake up from your slumber my freind...


To most of us nothing is so invisible as an unpleasant truth. Though it is held before our eyes, pushed under our noses, rammed down our throats- we know it not.
Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

(keep you eye on the outside edges of the building in this one to see the "streamers")

You better look at some footage of the perfectly symmetrical collapse.  Remember most of live in a world where the laws of physics rule.

How did the building fall in 6.6 seconds, just .6 of a second longer than it would take an object dropped from the roof to hit the ground?  What happened to the law of conservation of momentum?  Was it suspended on 9/11?

Why were there pools of molten metal in basement of all three buildings?  Where did the energy come from to melt steel from a "structural failure"?  Do hydrocarbon fires now contain enough energy to melt steel and iron?  Only on 9/11?

Since when do collapsing structures take the path of MOST residence?  Only on 9/11?

FEMA even admits to a LOW probability [an understatement] of fire causing the collapse:

"The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse ["official theory"] remain unknown at this time. Although the total diesel fuel on the premises contained massive potential energy, the best hypothesis [fire/debris-damage-caused collapse] has only a low probability of occurrence. Further research, investigation, and analyses are needed to resolve this issue. (FEMA, 2002, chapter 5; emphasis added.)"

Watch the North tower collapse.  Notice how the Antenna starts to collapse before the rest of the building.  The center columns of the building just give way.

"One of the people a thorough investigation should question would be demolition expert Mark Loizeaux, president of Controlled Demolition, Inc.  Speaking of the way the WTC buildings came down, he said in an interview:  "If I were to bring the towers down, I would put explosives in the basement to get the weight of the building to help collapse the structure." (Bollyn, 2002; emphasis added.)"

The largest crime scene in history and all the ruble is just carted away and sold for scrap before any SERIOUS investigation into the collapse is done.  Controlled Demolition was contracted to do the cleanup.  What a pity.  Good criminals know that you have to ditch the "murder weapon".

It much easier to just deny it all and get back to your peak oil discussions...


The site won't let me hotlink video.

This is the one you want from the link above:

Videos of Building 7's Collapse
Building 7 collapse mpeg
This 9.6-second video shows the Building 7 collapse from a vantage point only about 1000 feet to the north.

Everyone seems so surprised that steel and concrete fall at or near the acceleration of gravity.  Other than momentary hesitations as the impact exceeds the resistance of the remaining structure, an unsupported building falls just as fast as anything else.  Why should it fall any slower?

Everyone seems surprised that steel and concrete falls down.  What other direction would it go?

That is how my ten year old nephew views it.  We are not talking about dropping a steel bar and a chunk of concrete off the top of a building here.   Not only did concrete just "fall down" but it pulverizes twenty-four huge steel support columns inside WTC 7 as well as huge trusses and in the process turns portions of those supports into molten metal.  Ditto for 1 & 2.
That is some really magnificent concrete.  Three perfectly symmetrical collapses from fire all on the same day.  Shit why does Controlled Demolition, Inc waste their time using costly thermite and semtex to PULL buildings?  All they need is a few thousand gallons of kerosene and a match, presto.

Just trust your eyes and not what you were told, grow up.

"One might equate growing up with a mistrust of words. A mature person trusts his eyes more than his ears. Irrationality often manifests itself in upholding the word against the evidence of the eyes. Children, savages and true believers remember far less what they have seen than what they have heard."
Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)


Even though engineers know it is IMPOSSIBLE for steel members to have "evaporated" in tower 7 they choose to take a child's world view and blame something else anything else.  Explosives are just too scary to contemplate.  Maybe GOD zapped the members with laser beams from his finger tips to punish us for our sins?  That is as plausible as diesel fuel...



New York Times, November 29, 2001

Almost lost in the chaos of the collapse of the World Trade Center is a mystery that under normal circumstances would probably have captured the attention of the city and the world. That mystery is the collapse of a nearby 47-story, two-million-square-foot building seven hours after flaming debris from the towers rained down on it, igniting what became an out-of-control fire.

Engineers and other experts, who quickly came to understand how hurtling airplanes and burning jet fuel had helped bring down the main towers, were for weeks still stunned by what had happened to 7 World Trade Center. That building had housed, among other things, the mayor's emergency command bunker. It tumbled to its knees shortly after 5:20 on the ugly evening of Sept. 11.

The building had suffered mightily from the fire that raged in it, and it had been wounded by the flying beams falling off the towers. But experts said no building like it, a modern, steel-reinforced high-rise, had ever collapsed because of an uncontrolled fire, and engineers have been trying to figure out exactly what happened and whether they should be worried about other buildings like it around the country.

As engineers and scientists struggle to explain the collapse of 7 World Trade Center, they have begun considering whether a type of fuel that was inside the building all along created intensely hot fires like those in the towers: diesel fuel, thousands of gallons of it, intended to run electricity generators in a power failure.

One tank holding 6,000 gallons of fuel was in the building to provide power to the command bunker on the 23rd floor. Another set of four tanks holding as much as 36,000 gallons were just below ground on the building's southwest side for generators that served some of the other tenants.

Engineers and other experts have already uncovered evidence at the collapse site suggesting that some type of fuel played a significant role in the building's demise, but they expect to spend months piecing together the picture of what remains a disturbing puzzle.

"Even though Building 7 didn't get much attention in the media immediately, within the structural engineering community, it's considered to be much more important to understand," said William F. Baker, a partner in charge of structural engineering at the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. "They say, `We know what happened at 1 and 2, but why did 7 come down?' "

Engineers said that here and across the country, diesel-powered generators are used in buildings like hospitals and trading houses, where avoiding power outages is crucial. Partly for that reason, Jonathan Barnett said, a definitive answer to the question of what happened in 7 World Trade Center is perhaps the most important question facing investigators.

"It's just like when you investigate a plane crash," said Dr. Barnett, a professor of fire protection engineering at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. "If we find a weakness in the building or a deficiency in the building that causes that collapse, we then want to find that weakness in other buildings and fix it."

In many ways, 7 World Trade Center, built and owned by Silverstein Properties, was structurally similar to its towering cousins across Vesey Street to the south. The weight of the building was supported by a relatively tight cluster of steel columns around the center of each floor and a palisade of columns around the outside, in the building's facade.

Sprayed on the steel, almost like imitation snow in holiday decorations, was a layer of fireproofing material, generally less than an inch thick. Although the fireproofing was intended to withstand ordinary fires for at least two hours, experts said buildings the size of 7 World Trade Center that are treated with such coatings have never collapsed in a fire of any duration.

Most of three other buildings in the complex, 4, 5 and 6 World Trade, stood despite suffering damage of all kinds, including fire.

Still, experts concede, in a hellish day, 7 World Trade might have sustained structural injuries never envisioned in fire codes. That day began with flaming pieces of steel and aluminum and, horribly, human bodies raining around the building.

With the collapse of both towers by 10:30 a.m., larger pieces of the twin towers had smashed parts of 7 World Trade and set whole clusters of floors ablaze. An hour later, the Fire Department was forced to abandon its last efforts to save the building as it burned like a giant torch. It fell in the late afternoon, hampering rescue efforts and hurling its beams into the ground like red-hot spears.

Within the building, the diesel tanks were surrounded by fireproofed enclosures. But some experts said that like the jet fuel in the twin towers, the diesel fuel could have played a role in the collapse of 7 World Trade.

"If the enclosures were damaged, then yes, this would be enough fuel to explain why the building collapsed," Dr. Barnett said.

Dr. Barnett and Mr. Baker are part of an assessment team organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to examine the performance of several buildings during the attacks. If further studies of the debris confirm the findings of extremely high temperature, Dr. Barnett said, "the smoking gun would be the fuel."

Others experts agreed that the diesel fuel could have speeded the collapse, but said the building might have met the same fate simply because of how long it burned.

"The fuel absolutely could be a factor," said Silvian Marcus, executive vice president for the Cantor Seinuk Group and a structural engineer involved in the original design of the building, which was completed in 1987. But he added, "The tanks may have accelerated the collapse, but did not cause the collapse."

Because of those doubts, engineers hold open the possibility that the collapse had other explanations, like damage caused by falling debris or another source of heat.

The fuel tanks were not the only highly flammable materials in the building. But while some engineers have speculated that a high-pressure gas main ruptured and caught fire, there was none in the area, said David Davidowitz, vice president of gas engineering at Consolidated Edison. The building was served only by a four-inch, low-pressure line for the building's cafeteria, Mr. Davidowitz said.

The mayor's command bunker, built in 1998, included electrical generators on the seventh floor, where there was a small fuel tank, said Jerome M. Hauer, director of the mayor's Office of Emergency Management from 1996 to 2000. That tank was fed by a tank containing thousands of gallons of diesel fuel on a lower floor, he said.

Francis E. McCarton, a spokesman for the emergency management office, confirmed that assessment. "We did have a diesel tank in the facility," he said. "Yes, it was used for our generating system."

The manager of the building when it collapsed, Walter Weems, said the larger tank sat on a steel-and-concrete pedestal on the second floor and held 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel. He said an even larger cache, four tanks containing a total of 36,000 gallons of diesel fuel, sat just below ground level in the loading dock near the southwest corner of the building.

"I'm sure that with enough heat it would have burned," Mr. Hauer said of the diesel. "The question is whether the collapse caused the tank to rupture, or whether the material hitting the building caused the tank to rupture and enhance the fire."

Falling debris also caused major structural damage to the building, which soon began burning on multiple floors, said Francis X. Gribbon, a spokesman for the Fire Department. By 11:30 a.m., the fire commander in charge of that area, Assistant Chief Frank Fellini, ordered firefighters away from it for safety reasons.

A combination of an uncontrolled fire and the structural damage might have been able to bring the building down, some engineers said. But that would not explain steel members in the debris pile that appear to have been partly evaporated in extraordinarily high temperatures, Dr. Barnett said.


This "WTC 7" is complete and utter BS.  Wish it was not clogging up TOD, but to put the matter to rest.

  1. 99% of Americans only know of the WTC 1 & 2 collapse, which had a seismic impact on US domestic politics, but know NOTHING, ZERO, NADA of the WTC 7 collapse.

  2. No knowledge = No politicsl impact

  3. If there is zero, NADA political impact from the collapse of WTC 7, there is Zero, NADA. zero reason to do anything covert in order to cause the collapse of WTC 7.  WHY do something covert that could unravel (with possibly serious impacts, see Watergate burglary) in order to have no impact what-so-ever on US politics ??

STOP WASTING bandwidth  here on an irrelevant non-issue !
Mechanical floors
28-45 Salomon Smith Barney (SSB)
26-27 Standard Chartered Bank
25 Inland Revenue Service (IRS)
25 Department of Defense (DOD)
25 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
24 Inland Revenue Service (IRS)
23 Office of Emergency Management (OEM)
22 Federal Home Loan Bank of New York
21 First State Management Group
19-21 ITT Hartford Insurance Group
19 National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)
18 Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
14-17 Vacant
13 Provident Financial Management
11-13 Securities and Exchange Commission
9-10 US Secret Service
7-8 American Express Bank International
7 OEM generators and day tank
6 Switchgear, storage
5 Switchgear, generators, transformers
4 Upper level of 3rd floor, switchgear
3 Lobby, SSB Conference Center, rentable space, manage
2 Open to first floor lobby, transformer vault upper level, upper level switchgear
1 Lobby, loading docks, existing Con Ed transformer vaults, fuel storage, lower level switchgear

Look at the tenants of WTC 7.  The destruction of 7 was not suppose to have an impact on the public it was to destroy evidence of the operation and other sensative information.  All they needed was the Hollywood style fireball explosions on 1&2.  They never wanted to draw attention to WTC7 because that is the smoking gun of the entire operation and there is no explanation to why it fell except explosives.

"99% of Americans only know of the WTC 1 & 2 collapse"

Why do you think that is you clown??  WTC 7 was the most important collapse that day because it defies logic and deserves intense study but instead nobody knows of it. Our "free press" does an excellent job on twisting reality, your proof of that...

Silverstein controlled all the buildings that imploded that day.  He made $500 million in profit from the collapse of WTC 7 alone...


Controlling Interests

Ownership, Control, and Insurance of The World Trade Center
The World Trade Center complex came under the control of a private owner for the first time only in mid-2001, having been built and managed by the Port Authority as a public resource. The complex was leased to a partnership of Silverstein Properties and Westfield America. 1 2 The new controllers acquired a handsome insurance policy for the complex including a clause that would prove extremely valuable: in the event of a terrorist attack, the partnership could collect the insured value of the property, and be released from their obligations under the 99-year lease. 3

Ownership Change
Author Don Paul investigated this and related issues for his 2002 book, which contains the following passage detailing financial aspects and ownership changes of the complex preceding the attack.

On April 26 of 2001 the Board of Commissioners for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey awarded Silverstein Properties and mall-owner Westfield America a 99-year-lease on the following assets: The Twin Towers, World Trade Center Buildings 4 and 5, two 9-story office buildings, and 400,000 square feet of retail space.

The partners' winning bid was $3.2 billion for holdings estimated to be worth more than $8 billion. JP Morgan Chase, a prestigious investment-bank that's the flagship firm of its kind for Rockefeller family interests, advised the Port Authority, another body long influenced by banker and builder David Rockefeller, his age then 85, in the negotiations.

The lead partner and spokesperson for the winning bidders, Larry Silverstein, age 70, already controlled more than 8 million square feet of New York City real estate. WTC 7 and the nearby Equitable Building were prime among these prior holdings. Larry Silverstein also owned Runway 69, a nightclub in Queens that was alleged 9 years ago to be laundering money made through sales of Laotian heroin. 4

end snip

Even though engineers know it is IMPOSSIBLE for steel members to have "evaporated" in tower 7
Any engineer who's worked in a metal shop knows that steel DOES evaporate under an oxyacetylene flame.  Steel BURNS under the correct conditions.  Though I would suppose a chimp, living in a jungle, wouldn't know this.
Explosives are just too scary to contemplate.
I dunno, the thought of using them on some noisy conspiracy cranks is getting more attractive all the time.

I've already called for the impeachment of the heads of this administration, for deeds and omissions which prove their unfitness for office.  I don't need to invent crimes to bolster my case.

Back to square one.

"It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation."

Under the correct conditions anything can happen!!

The fact you continue to post shows that somewhere deep inside you know something isn't right.  But you are too afraid to face it.
Wake up!!


"I've already called for the impeachment of the heads of this administration, for deeds and omissions which prove their unfitness for office.  I don't need to invent crimes to bolster my case."

WOW what a risk taker you are...

"It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation."
Oh, I know that some people go around fabricating colossal untruths.  Sometimes they even do it unwittingly (urban legends).

Of course, accusations of conspiracy are far easier and cheaper to create than actual conspiracies....

If the shoe fits, wear it.

Engineer Poet,

Pour yourself a beer and put on some popcorn and watch the vid below...




WTC surveillance tapes feared missing

Associated Press

NEW YORK - Surveillance tapes and maintenance logs are among the missing evidence as investigators try to figure out why the World Trade Center collapsed, federal officials said Monday.

Bush-Linked Company Handled Security for the WTC, Dulles and United  
by Margie Burns

George W. Bush's brother was on the board of directors of a company providing electronic security for the World Trade Center, Dulles International Airport and United Airlines, according to public records. The company was backed by an investment firm, the Kuwait-American Corp., also linked for years to the Bush family.

The security company, formerly named Securacom and now named Stratesec, is in Sterling, Va.. Its CEO, Barry McDaniel, said the company had a ``completion contract" to handle some of the security at the World Trade Center ``up to the day the buildings fell down."

It also had a three-year contract to maintain electronic security systems at Dulles Airport, according to a Dulles contracting official. Securacom/Stratesec also handled some security for United Airlines in the 1990s, according to McDaniel, but it had been completed before his arriving on the board in 1998.

Heightened Security Alert Had Just Been Lifted
By Curtis L. Taylor and Sean Gardiner

September 12, 2001

The World Trade Center was destroyed just days after a heightened security alert was lifted at the landmark 110-story towers, security personnel said yesterday.

Daria Coard, 37, a guard at Tower One, said the security detail had been working 12-hour shifts for the past two weeks because of numerous phone threats. But on Thursday, bomb-sniffing dogs were abruptly removed.

"Today was the first day there was not the extra security," Coard said. "We were protecting below. We had the ground covered. We didn't figure they would do it with planes. There is no way anyone could have stopped that."

Security guard Hermina Jones said officials had recently taken steps to secure the towers against aerial attacks by installing bulletproof windows and fireproof doors in the 22nd-floor computer command center...

End of Newsday excerpt.

EP said "In short, the people who propound this nonsense are unwittingly strengthening the hand of the power-grabbers in Washington."

Exactly right. And they aren't helping to make peak oil and more credible either. I do think people look at those who say "peak oil is here, Bush blew up the world trade center" and think "this person is a nut", not "I better listen".

In fact, I have to say some of this plants doubts in my mind. At first TOD helped solidify my acceptance that peak oil is real. But the inability to separate the more severe impact theories from wild conspiracies gives me adequate reason to write them off. I am with PO and TOD as far as Stuart's claims, which seem analysis driven.

But the more radical claims seem to stem primarily from paranoia, ideology and a desire to think the world is coming to an end.

Thank you joule, that sums up my own opinion on the matter, better than I could have said it myself.

I would encourage anyone to look at the videos of WTC-7 with an open mind and form their own opinion.

And IMO, this is tangential to the topic of peak oil. There is a connection from "WTC disaster" to the "Middle East" to "reliable oil supply", but it is sufficiently tenuous to ask that it be discussed elsewhere. Therefore I'll not add to the rising noise level here by joining any more of these subthreads.

-- perhaps we need an update to Godwin's Law

My first reaction was to say "not relevant."  Wacky conspiracy theories only make us look even nuttier than people already think we are.  

Besides, there's really little point arguing it.  It's like trying to argue about evolution with creationists.  No matter what proof you offer, they discount it.  

But on second thought...maybe it is relevant.  My feeling is that conspiracy theories result from something that may be relevant to the issue of peak oil.  

You might call it "the failure of common sense."  "Common sense" is usually great stuff.  It often allows us to out-think the fastest computer.  But sometimes it leads us astray.  If something is outside our every day experience, common sense may mislead us.  For example, we don't deal with extraordinarily small objects or with objects traveling near the speed of light in our day-to-day lives, so quantum physics and relativity seem to contravene "common sense."  

The same applies to rare occurrences.  9/11, the Kennedy assassination, man walking on the moon, etc.  We don't see airplanes crashing into buildings, people in moving vehicles being shot, or astronauts in low gravity and almost zero pressure very often.  The "common sense" knowledge we get from every day experiences misleads us.

There's an almost unconscious tendency we all have to believe that what's happened in the past will be what always happens.  It's "common sense."  We've never run out of oil before, so why should I worry about it happening now?

(BTW, I recommend this link for refuting 9/11 conspiracy theories.)

(BTW, I recommend this link for refuting 9/11 conspiracy theories.)

And yet the reason why WTC7 fell down has been given an explination, just not one that jives with past building fires.

Go ahead.   Explain why WTC7 fell down.

That has already been discussed, probably far more than most were interested in seeing.

I'll just add this: what would be the point of a conspiracy to collapse a building most people never knew existed?  If there was some kind of information in it "they" wanted hidden, why not just let the fire burn?

Heck, maybe the whole point was to cut me off from the Internet for the rest of the week...

That has already been discussed, probably far more than most were interested in seeing.

Your 'source' for debunking offered nothing other than a mention of WTC7.   You were saying 'that was the place to go for debunking'.   So rather than defend your source, you are willing to just 'hand wave' it away.    

That is fine.   But if such is the strongest FOR the published Government version - 'let us not talk about it' - the USGS says peak oil won't happen till 2025 or later.   So why not just close up theoildrum, as the official story is "all is fine".

For people who haven't seen the site -

I'll just add this: what would be the point of a conspiracy to collapse a building most people never knew existed?

What was the point of the Iraq War II?

The explination given by the government is 'fires brought down the building'.   If that version is true, it would be the first building in the history of steel framed building to collapse due to fire in a way that looked just like a controlled demolition.  And in less than 10 seconds.     Plenty of burned out steel building have come after WTC7 and before WTC7 and they did not collapse.   If steel framed buildings are such a fire danger, where are the congressional investigations and the millions spent on analyzing the dangers of fire in steel framed buildings?  

If there was some kind of information in it "they" wanted hidden, why not just let the fire burn?

Paper burns.  Computer hard drives do not.   Hard drives crushed under tons of rubble make for unrecoverable hard drives.  

But as you are questioning 'they' - do you even know who or what kinds of data were in that building?  

Hopefully you won't let 'invincible ignorance' defeat you.  Go and reviewing the observed data of WTC7, other steel-framed buildings subjected to fire, and the official report.   Its more than the debunking source you've offered up did.

But some people are just cranky old men and anything said by authorty figures are true.

Your 'source' for debunking offered nothing other than a mention of WTC7.   You were saying 'that was the place to go for debunking'.   So rather than defend your source, you are willing to just 'hand wave' it away.    

I meant we had already discussed this at length in other threads, not this one.

What was the point of the Iraq War II?

That has also been discussed at length.  The collapse of WTC-7 was not necessary for the Iraq invasion.  

Paper burns.  Computer hard drives do not.   Hard drives crushed under tons of rubble make for unrecoverable hard drives.  

Seems rather risky to me.  You'd have no way of knowing which would be crushed and which would not be.  Even after severe physical trauma, data can often be read off them.

But as you are questioning 'they' - do you even know who or what kinds of data were in that building?

Actually, I do.  One of my friends was personally affected by the loss of records in WTC-7.  She worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  (The Security and Exchange Commission was also in that building.) I believe they did dig up all the records eventually, but it caused months of delay.

The collapse of WTC-7 was not necessary for the Iraq invasion.  

That wasn't my point.   My point was the explnations given don't jive with observed data.   Who says the events at the WTC were about invading Iraq?

The events may be nothing more than attempting to strike at American business, like the Bin Laden docuemts say should happen.   OR there may be more there.  

Seems rather risky to me.  You'd have no way of knowing which would be crushed and which would not be.  Even after severe physical trauma, data can often be read off them.

When the material goes to the dump or a metal melting operation, there is no danger of worring about what got recovered.

Invading Iraq and expecting roses at the invaderes feet seem to be a risky gamble.   Did the risk stop the gamble?

But why apply a filter of rationality?   At TOD, there are DAILY posts which can be summed up 'human behavior in this case is not rational'.  

the loss of records in WTC-7.

If the goal was record destruction, then somehow we'd have to know what resords were so important to collape a bulding on top of them.  There may be records there which were the only copies.  shrug  If there was some other goal, we'd have to know how a collapsed building fits into the goals.

Again, I return to the OBSERVED data.  The time and way the building collaped VS what has been offered as to the reason why the building collaped.

There is no point to ask 'why take an action to collapse the building' if one can't look at the data and ask 'why doesn't the explnation offered up fit the observed data'?   You keep asking 'why take the action to collape the building', so does that mean you are questioning the offical reason given to date?  

Having done a bit of fire protection engineering as an elective and working for a ex chairman of the state's PE licencing board....what I learned in school and on the job doesn't jive with the official explnations I've read.

I'm glad to see you are at least willing to discuss the matter, rather than slapping up a shield of invincible ignornace like other cracky old men have done.

"Other" cranky old men?  I may be cranky, but I'm not old, and I'm not a man, thank you very much.

I guess my view is summed up by "Never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence."  I just don't see our government as being capable of a conspiracy of this magnitude.  They could do it, sure, but keep it secret?  No way.  

I guess my view is summed up by "Never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence."

So the building collapsed they way it did bacause it is was not a competent building?

I just don't see our government as being capable of a conspiracy of this magnitude.  They could do it, sure,

So then you are at least at the point where you've looked at the data and have, prehaps, decided to dismiss it because 'conspiracies don't work'.  

History has shown after the fact that some conspiracies DO work, and the info is kept under wraps for a long time.  There are even laws that exist to handle conspiracies.  If no one looks FOR reasons why data is wrong, no one will find 'the conspiracy'.   There are always a few people who will buy whatever is sold them via people who they feel have power above them and carry out whatever wierd vision they have.  Given a willingness of governments (or people in a position of power) to assassinate, declare wars for economic advantage, imprission their own people, poison their own people and a whole list of non-positive actions....why is collapsing a building "beyond the pale"?  

Like the up and coming drug dealer/criminal  who thinks he's too damn clever to get caught, why are people in elected office magically imumune to thinkging 'I'm not gonna get caught' and 'what are they gonna do to me eh?'.   Big stakes mean some people will take big risks.    What have been the stakes to date - what has been the payout?   And remember, you are trying to apply rationality to human behavior.   A conspiracy is always a gamble.   Is the behavious of a gambler 'rational'?   Remember also, many people who have been involved in a government conspiracy has gotten off with no punishment (the people who shipped the arms in the Contra affair where punished how?) or got pardoned, or did time and are now making money in talk radio or as consultants to the military.    In many cases, playing along with a conspiracy means money in your pocket, at the expense of others.  So what IS the dis-incentive?

What IS the downside to being 'in a conspiracy' - how has the punishemnt fit the crime?  

Many peopple believe 'peak oil' is an artifical event, and use the USGS data to show hhow there is plenty of energy, and it would be cheap 'cept for 'the conspiracy'.

So why is 'peak oil' not 'a conspiracy of various actors' you have know direct knowledge of?  

but keep it secret?  No way.  

It is only a secret if no one looks.  Or the pain of showing the secret off is greater than the pain of keeping said secret.   With the building carted off to the dump and metal bits melted do ones show what happened to the metal bits of the building?

So the building collapsed they way it did bacause it is was not a competent building?

It was not a competently-built building might be more accurate.  

No, not really, but it was simply not designed for conditions it was put in. A lot of engineering knowledge is empirical.  When we're dealing with something that doesn't happen often, our knowledge is limited.  How do we know how a building with a unique design will react when two 100-story buildings next door have fallen, and when a fire has been allowed to burn all day in it?  Steel can soften surprisingly quickly in an office fire.  I would not hang around in a building like that, that's for sure.  

Engineering failures occur all the time, often in far less extreme conditions.  

So then you are at least at the point where you've looked at the data and have, prehaps, decided to dismiss it because 'conspiracies don't work'.  

No.  I just don't see anything in the data that points to a conspiracy.  I mean, maybe the government really did want to keep me offline, so they blew up WTC-7 to take out my Internet access.  It's possible.  But is it likely?

Many peopple believe 'peak oil' is an artifical event, and use the USGS data to show hhow there is plenty of energy, and it would be cheap 'cept for 'the conspiracy'.

That is why I decided that this might not be off-topic.  People will think peak oil is some kind of conspiracy.  The same thing happened during the '70s oil crunch.  Rumors went around that Big Oil was suppressing technology that would provide cheap energy for everyone.  (A perpetual motion machine, a species of tree in Brazil that had pure diesel for sap, a Tesla machine, satellites that could beam solar energy to earth, etc.)  I fully expect we'll see those again.  

It was not a competently-built building might be more accurate.  

No, not really,

Actaully it could be.  But if the building was carted off to the dump and melted down, how will anyone know that the job done on floor X was sub-par and the inspector never caught it?

but it was simply not designed for conditions it was put in.

A lot of engineering knowledge is empirical. When we're dealing with something that doesn't happen often, our knowledge is limited.

And destroying the 'evidence' via dumps and melting down don't help improve the state of the art.  

when a fire has been allowed to burn all day in it?

Fire in steel framed buildings is well known, and each fire allows more data to be collected.   Especially when you SAVE the bits from the building and spend time going over it.

VS sending the bits off to be melted down.

No.  I just don't see anything in the data that points to a conspiracy.  

Perhaps the FEMA report is a fevered dream with no connection with reality.   But all any of us have is the videos and the report of FEMA.  

But if the building was carted off to the dump and melted down, how will anyone know that the job done on floor X was sub-par and the inspector never caught it?

They did get a chance to examine the remains of the building.  It may well change the design standards for high-rise buildings.  

I was skeptical of conspiracy theories but unfortunately the world is a bit more complicated than we would like to imagine or feel comfortable imagining. A few years ago I read a book titled "Day of Deceit" by Robert Stinnett. It is a very interesting and meticulously researched investigation of prior knowledge by the Roosevelt Administraion of the  attack on Pearl Harbor, this effort by Stinnett is base upon many years of research and recently released classified documents. The argument was that the Roosevelt Administration had already broken the Japanese Military crytographic code and thus knew the attack was going to happen. Also the claim is made that US foreign policy intended to provoke the Japanese into attacking the US fleet. (The McCollum memo) It is a great read for history buffs or for anyone interested in wartime cryptography. Another damming indictment pointed out was the order given to the Navy to stay clear of the path of the Japanese carrier fleet steaming toward Ohahu. My point is that allowing the Japanese to attack Pearl is the moral quivalent of not having any serious air defenses in place on  9/11 or perhaps participating in or facilitating theses attacks.

What later clicked in my mind was the PNAC report "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century" (year 2000) which made the statement regarding the destructive reshaping of the Middle East: "The process of transformation," the plan said, "is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event--like a new Pearl Harbor."  One might conclude from this that there is and was a significant motive for a "new Pearl Harbor" to occur. I wonder if we will have to wait another 60 years to find out the truth.

I wonder if we will have to wait another 60 years to find out the truth.

Perhaps.  And there will be people who will deny the evidence placed before them.   The power of 'invincible ignorance' is potent.   And there is little you can do about authority suck-ups who accept whatever is fed to them.

A first step is to look at the data that is known and the results of the study into what happened.   Look to see the observed data jives with the reported reason.  

It is more than a failure of "common sense." More technically, it is the fallacy of invincible ignorance. This kind of fallacy is invulnerable to reason or evidence because it contains "self-sealing" components that automatically mend any punctures. You'll see this fallacy for example in orthodox Freudians:

"You disagree with me because of your unresolved childhood traumas. Therefore you are wrong."

or Marxists:

"You disagree with me because of your false consciousness. Only we Marxists can see the truth, and therefore you are wrong."

In my opinion, the only effective way to deal with invincible ignorance is to ignore it.

BTW Leann, I like your posts and am delighted to say that you show evidence of a willingness to learn and change your mind when you see solid evidence. Keep up the good work! (But please think twice about the wisdom of replying to invincibly ignorant conspiracy theorists.)


The PM story you refer to in your link is a blatant whitewash!

The article is SOO BAD that there is a massive campagin to have PM retract this story if not for any other reason then the fact that one of PM's so-called 'experts' for the article was none other than Michael Chertoff's cousin!

I cancelled my PM subscription when the 9/11 issue came out for I believe in science, logic and critical reasoning...
I suspect you and others at TOD do as well.


I encourage you to take 60 mins out of your busy schedule to watch the following documentary created, written and produced by AMERICAN KIDS:

I watched it last night.  I think they're cherry-picking.  For example, that the Empire State Building survived an accidental plane crash is no reason to think the WTC should have survived a targeted jet attack.  The more bad arguments like that, and this whole business that buildings only fall straight down if they are carefully dynamited, that I hear, the more I tend to discount the whole argument.
While I'm willing to believe almost anything about the Bush family and their cronies, I agree that pre-demolition of the WTC seems very unlikely.

I've thought quite a bit about the way it fell and I've concluded:

Normally tall buildings are built with the strongest part in the middle and the floor cantilevered out from it. The curtain wall has little strength on its own. Blowing out part of the spine would cause a large building to fall like a tree--to the side. It takes careful destruction to ensure a fall straight down.

The WTC was built in an unusual way: the main strength in the building was the outer curtain wall rather than the central spine. The strong outer wall and relatively weak inner structure could cause an unusual pattern of destruction. Weakened steel in the floor could cause sagging. Add the weight of a large aircraft and the floor could collapse. The outer curtain wall's strength could act like a guide centering the fall. As the floor fell the curtain wall would get pulled inward and down.

Think of yourself holding a tube in one hand. Reach up through the tube and grip the top edge. Pull that edge down through the tube so that it is turned inside out. That, more or less, is what I'm talking about.

The smoke plumes along a floor are easily explained by this model. As a floor drops down it creates a over-pressure that blows the windows out.  As the floors pancake farther down the tidiness would become less and less and so less floor by floor blowouts. Also, the increasing debris cloud would hide such events.

OK, I just made that up but it makes sense to me. (the part about the structural design it true.)

Leanan, how do you classify Colin Campbell?
I can't say.  I confess, I have never read any of his work.

I like your approach.

But on second thought...maybe it is relevant.

My first inclination is to not even bother to reply to theories that are (ahem) unusual.  But I'm swayed by your statement precisely because this is the response I have gotten from several people as I discuss PO around here.  "PO is a conspiracy."  "They have lots of oil they're just not telling us about."  "They have 1,000 mpg engines that they have squashed." "They just want to invade country X."  etc. ad nauseum.

I've noticed that the more extreme one's views the less likely one is to acknowledge other possibilities.

So, like or not, dealing with conspiracy theories will be a part of PO advocacy going forward.

Possibly relevant, but I'm not sure worth discussing here.  

Possibly relevant if you accept that the PNAC document laid out a plan for turning the US into an empire, and for using the military to take and control the oil, and that the 9/11 incident provided the "new Pearl Harbor" they desired very conveniently.  That does not prove it of course, but like joule says here, there are too many things this engineer finds unreasonable in the official explanation.

But I wonder if it is useful on TOD.  I already think anything and everything that our government says is more likely than not to be a lie.  I do not trust them at all, and believe the top officials are guilty of crimes (including war crimes).  I'd love to see then revealed as the fascists they are, and serve their punishments.  But I don't see that as the mission of TOD.  Will discussing what happened on 9/11 here change many opinions?   It does not seem germane to what I hope to get out of participating in the discussions at TOD, and that is because it is in the past.  There are other places to fight the fascists.

I want to understand what is happening now, and to gather information so I can form an opinion about what will happen in both the near and long term future.  We face things that will make 9/11 seem trivial.  How we respond to them as a nation (species), and how I respond to them on a personal level, is what I want to focus on here, and I have come to regard 9/11 posts as a nuisance.  Discussions on what will happen in regard to future illegal actions of the imperialists are fair game to me, as they affect what will happen, not what did.  

OK, I'll change my answer to, "relevant when the perps are indicted."
I agree that there are other venues for 9/11.


Since 9/11 is the de facto justification for EVERTYHING the government does i.e. invasion of Afgahnistan, invasion of Iraq, Patriot Act, rejection of Geneva Conventions, arbitrary detention, DHS, extraordinary rendition, illegal domestic spying et cetera...

I would submit that TOD threads re: 9/11 are far and away more relevant than whether or not one owns a TV don't you think?

Well, living without TV could be relevant to the idea of living without so much energy and stuff.
"I would submit that TOD threads re: 9/11 are far and away more relevant than whether or not one owns a TV don't you think?"

I totally disagree.

Living without a TV directly relates to the topic of "Powerdown" which many Peak Oil people strongly believe in.

Also, I see the ability of someone to be able to live without a TV as a major step towards embracing a lower-energy future.

In too many households the TV is hugely central to daily life and it can be viewed as the appliance that is central to the non-negotiable american way of life.

In my view, if you can migrate a TV-addicted family to no TV, then that family has the makings of what it takes to adapt to an energy poor future.

Finally I would say that to me here in NZ (and I would suspect many here at TOD that are outside the US), the debate about whether 7 WTC was demolished or not, is of virtually no relevance.  Much the same as the anti-Bush rants found elsewhere on this site.

Professor Steven Jones lecture is here:

Many presentations by Griffin and Fetzer are at

If a person is committed to a mental institution, and later presents a fairytale to the fellow inmates is that considered a valid peer review?
1) Wacky? Read Colin Campbell's OIL CRISIS, read the chapter on 9-11.

2) Relevant? Read same book, same chapter. 9-11 was about peak oil.

3) Conspiracy? Never forget: TWO conspiracy theories -- look at both and decide which is wackier. And then think about why you AUTOMATICALLY accept one and DISMISS the other.

4) Possible? Look at videos of the collapses, all three. Keep looking,keep thinking, keep studying, do calculations. Gravity, amount of fuel, amount of steel, etc.

5) Read David Ray Griffin's two books. It's completely useless to speak about it if you don't read those books. It's like talking about peak oil without reading Campbell, Deffeyes, Simmons. You're just sidestepping it, not willing to face. THEN SPEAK.

6) HOWEVER, I MYSELF WOULD NOT WANT TO SEE 9-11 SWAMP THIS SITE. THERE ARE OTHER SITES FOR 9-11. I come here because of what I can learn about peak oil and energy. Once in while I can't help myself, but I and others ought remember what the focus of this site is.

I do not find that anti-conspiracy theory advocates on this thread do much more than engage in ad hominem name calling of their intellectual adversaries.  That is a logically fallacious way of dealing with the controversy.  (It is also, I might add, rude, personally offensive, and uncalled for.)  One must address the facts offered by the conspiracy theorists on behalf of their position, and carefully evaluate whether the inferences derived from those facts are sound or not.

Also, it is worth pointing out that the official government account is ITSELF a conspiracy theory.  Only, their conspiracy theory posits a conspiracy among arabs rather than among Americans.  If there is therefore something inherently intellectually unrespectable about conspiracy theories that warrants ad hominem name-calling as the only appropriate response, the government account is just as deserving of name-calling responses on those grounds.

Oh well.  I have a maybe simple minded thought about sneaky plots- rats rat on each other.  A huge number of rats must have been involved in blowing down  those buildings on cue, So, likely, one or a bunch of them rats would probably have ratted  on the other rats by now.  So-- don't think the rat in building theory can hold up. Ditto for all the other rats nests.

On the other hand-- My brother, a very smart psychologist, tells me all the time that the problem with engineers is that they think people are logical.  So what do I know?

I have a maybe simple minded thought about sneaky plots- rats rat on each other

For rats to rat on each other, don't they need to feel some form of pressure or have something to gain about selling the other up the river?

Did anyone in Iran-Contra come forward on their own before the investigations were started?   How about Mohammad Atta and his group of rats?   Did they rat out each other or say anything without some pressue put on them?

All the 'conspiracies don't work' talk ignore that you have to have people who HAVE the force of laww looking into the matter?   If the people who are able to get laws passed are unwilling to have credible investigations, how will you get one rat willing to rat out the other rat?

For your rat-veiw to hold, you'd have to accept that investigations to date have answered all questions WRT 9/11 fully, and that all parties who might know something have been fully investigated.

... the difference being, we know that there was an Arab conspiracy against the WTC and they'd even made a previous attempt to destroy it in 1993.
The Atrios school of open thread, eh?
IF you have a Tuesday oopen thread of 100 comments and a wednesday open thread of 50 comments - a frequent reader will still have to read 150 comments. The upside is that he wont have to scroll down as far - the downside is if he wants to reread or is involved in posting replies, he might forget which of the threads it was..
Disease hits 20% on French island

He told Le Figaro newspaper on Thursday this was a "radically new situation, that was not anticipated or foreseen by any scientific theory, according to which chikungunya does not kill...77 deaths may have been caused "directly or indirectly... "

    "We are face-to-face with a devastating epidemic which suddenly accelerated at the start of the year. Developments went beyond all the predictions made by experts,he said."

Madagascar has recorded the first cases of a mosquito-borne disease that has caused havoc and is linked to 93 deaths on Reunion Island, to the east. The symptoms of chikungunya include high fever, dehydration and severe pain - and there is no known cure... but its presence on Madagascar puts 18 million inhabitants at risk...

((  Bird Flu + Wierd New Possible virus ???
Mother Nature Works in mysterious Wayzz?...Bird Migrations and the work of quiet hooded riders on horses -- and declining Fossil Fuels will Serve Their purposes welll.... shhhh  ))

Actually, a mass die-off would help the energy situation. Less people = less energy use. It would cause other, potentially more severe problem, however.
Exactly - a quick way to reduce energy consumption at the WEAKEST POINTS of the civilization first.

Mother Nature usually takes advantage of All opportunities presented to her and she does not play favorites (unike the Homo Sap godz who never live up to their loony-tune promise anyway).

I think the "potentially more severe problem" might be the feedstock such a die-off would provide for the 4 ourses and their headless riders .... ;P)

Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 04:15 GMT

Japan rejects China gas proposal

Japan has rejected a Chinese proposal to jointly develop gas fields in a disputed area of the East China Sea.

Earlier this year Beijing sent a naval reserve fleet to the area after Tokyo granted drilling rights to a Japanese company.  Four rounds of talks on the issue have now failed to reach agreement.  Relations between the two countries are already poor, with disagreement over the gas fields being only one of series of disputes.  There is also continuing tension over Japan's war record in the region and China's growing military power.

("OH LOOK MA! - another Theater Opening Soon ???")

I made it to the third Energy & Environment lecture at Stanford tonight so I can give a summary; hopefully others made it as well and can comment.  This lecture was entitled, "The End of Oil?  Moving Toward Alternatives."  There were a ton of people there; the room seemed filled to capacity.

The materials should be posted to eventually; the slides from the first two lectures in the series are there already.

Pamela Matson, who is the Dean of the School of Earth Sciences, gave the opening remarks.  About the only thing she said that raised my eyebrows was that, based on the first two lectures, the carbon/CO2 question is more important than the oil depletion question.  Although this may be true, her tone seemed to imply that oil depletion was really no big deal.

The first lecturer was Lynn Orr, who is a petroleum engineering professor.  He put up a slide on historical CO2 levels that pretty compellingly showed the rapidity of the atmospheric CO2 increase in the past 100 or so years, and next a slide on declining ocean pH levels.  There were some slides on how much it would take of a particular energy source to offset 6.5 billion tons/yr of carbon -- for wind it was 150x current levels, for solar 2000x.

He described a 'Need for Technology' and made a GCEP (don't ask me what this stands for) plug.  As I understand it GCEP is a 10 year, $225 million effort that funds projects that conduct fundamental research.  He then breezed through slides on some of the projects, which were:

  • Nanostructured metal-organic composite solar cells;
  • Inorganic nanocomposite solar cells by atomic layer deposition;
  • Monitoring and accessing cellular photosynthesis for bioelectricity (the idea here is that electrodes will be inserted into cell chloroplasts);
  • Genetic engineering of cellulose accumulation;
  • Advanced membrane reactors in energy systems;
  • Gelogic storage of CO2.

Next up was Gil Masters, who is an environmental engineering professor.  His focus is improving building effeciencies and, to a lesser extent, cars.  His presentation was a little on the soft and cute side so I won't go into detail but suffice it to say that he likes passive solar and combined heat and power systems, and they're building a green dorm on the Stanford campus.  He also thinks batteries will advance to the point of all-electric cars being feasible by 2015.

Next was Margot Gerritsen, who is an assistant professor of petroleum engineering.  She threw up a slide that showed predicted world energy consumption, if I remember right through about 2035, and it just went up and up.  She talked about what she believed to be the energy sources of the future, which in her opinion were solar, wind, nuclear (which she pronounced 'nukular' - I could maybe forgive her this because she's Dutch, but it's not like she had a strong accent) and to a lesser extent geothermal and biomass.  She talked about the problem of available arable land for biomass, but she barely touched on fertilizers, and seemed to think that technology would solve that problem.

Last was Jim Sweeney, who is an economics professor whose focus is economic policy and analysis.  His talk, surprisingly, was the most interesting.  He alluded to depletion and talked about the fact that nations hostile to the U.S. hold most of the oil.  He threw up some charts on the price ranges predicted by crude futures prices and the futures options prices, and it was weirdly reminiscent of some of the comments from Dave's earlier thread on the subject.  He mentioned that the state-run oil companies benefit from uncertainty in future prices because it delays investment from the rest of the world.

He put up a slide that showed Per Capita electricity consumption in the US vs. California, which showed flat per capita consumption in CA post-1974 while the rest of the country's per capita consumption continued to go up.  He attributed this to better policy in California, and used this as a segue into policy:

  • He believes the price of gas is too low;
  • He favors a gas tax and higher CAFE standards;
  • He believes in biomass ethanol and wants to import ethanol from Brazil without tariffs;
  • He wants a cap & trade CO2 system, though not Kyoto, I think because he felt that Kyoto unfairly favored the former Soviet republics;
  • He wants to encourage tech development.

There was just time for a few questions.  One was about electric vehicle availability and one was about tidal power.

The next to last question was from someone who looked young enough to be an undergrad.  She asked if efficiency wasn't the wrong approach since the same fossil fuels would still be consumed, and shouldn't we focus all our energies on alternatives instead?  I think she was trying to point out Jeavon's Paradox but she didn't mention it by name.  I'm not certain that the panel fully understood this; at any rate, they responded that they felt that both conservation and alternatives were required.

The last question was from a woman who asked what the panel thought would have happened if the Saudi oil facility saboteurs would have succeeded, if say, that then caused the price of gas to go up to $6 a gallon.  She said something like, What do you propose to do if prices have this step-function quality to them, and aren't we just hanging on by a thread?  And Jim Sweeney responded, yeah, that would have been bad, and it would probably have meant military intervention which in the long run probably wouldn't have worked, so, uh, let's not let that happen.

To Charles at the oil drum:

I would like to express my appreciation for your summary of last night's talk at the Stanford Global Climate and Energy Program.  I am in Palo Alto CA but had to miss it.  This kind of summary writeup is very helpful in keeping me (at least) informed about what is happening.  

Writeups like yours, summarizing key content that is not easily accessible or available otherwise, of major talks that are central to peak oil, are among things that make the oil drum extremely valuable.  Another example of a similarly valuable summary was Stuart Staniford's excellent summary of the Peak oil conference in Denver, this past November.  So thanks

Don Augenstein
Palo Alto CA

Thanks for the positive feedback Don. :-)
GCEP = Stanford University Global Climate and Energy Project.

Thanks CM.  Here's the complete list of research projects and areas of investigation:

Its not just governments that want to avoid concerns of running out that would then encourage switching, but oil co's. When Bush walked down the garden hand in hand with the prince, one can see that he, and his oil patch backers, see absolutely eye to eye with opec - maximize price until western economies begin to experience distress, but then back off just enough to avoid recession/depression that would affect users' ability to purchase, behaviour no doubt carefully studied by the neighborhood dope pusher.
Great idea.

Failed theories on the value of labor

"Phillips curve literature has largely ignored a substantial and growing body of evidence that oil prices have asymmetric and non-linear effects on real activity, as well as that structural instabilities exist in those relationships."

"There are several reasons that the relationships between oil prices and macroeconomic variables might be difficult to identify. One is the time-series behavior of oil prices themselves."

I am curious as to what PO economists believe exactly are the particular principle "asymmetric and non-linear" effects that oil prices have on real activity?  

What do POilers think are the "difficult to identify" relationships between oil prices and macroeconomic variables that "might be difficult to identify"?

I was going to take it upon myself to answer your question.  However, after reading over the link you posted, I realized that due to the asymmetric and non-linear connections of logic made, I found an answer difficult to identify, and was for the most part unable to come up with an answer.

Upon rereading your question, I was able to discern some symmetrical relationship.  Due to the non-linear construction of the syntax, and the structural instabilities in the question preventing me from understanding the many difficult to identify variables, I did arrive at a symmetrical  conclusion:
While I was unable to posit the difficult to identify answer to your question, I was equally unable to posit the difficult to identify question.  Hope I have been of help.

Gottcha' I will rephrase the questions.

What are the known effects that oil prices have on real activity?  (& Identify which are the asymmetric and/or non-linear effects.)

What might be the "difficult to identify" relationships between oil prices and macroeconomic variables?

There is a vast literature on this topic, growing out of the stagflation of the 1970s that was caused by large and fast rises in the price of oil.

There is no brief answer to you good question that is very convincing: Because of the issues involved you really need
1. At least a 25 page scholarly article and
2. About 50 credits of post-graduate economics to understand the article above.

However, because I am a super-hero;-) I'll condense it down to this: We do not know what will happen to expectations for
1. changes in the general price level (and hence the Phillips curve)
2. nor do we have any idea what will happen to expectations for prices of gasoline and heating oil and natural gas (especially in light of probable government price controls)
3. and maybe worst of all, the dynamics of how all this works out is a can of worms inside of a basket of snakes that floats on a radioactive sea.

The philosopher Ludwig made a famous statement in German that is usually translated: "On that about which we can say nothing, remain silent."

For all intents and purposes, because of the complexity of the problem, the unknowable time lags, the unknowable governmental responses and several other unknowns, reputable economists can say almost nothing useful about how things will work out.

But there is a DUET, a Deep Universal Eternal Truth, in economics: Figure out how to make price fluctuations ("the market") work for you instead of against you. The power to tax is the power to destroy, and we should use this powere. Large upward changes in price will eventually result in significant downward movements in amount purchased (or "quantity demanded" in economic language).

Keynes said that economists should be humble and competent, like dentists. Well, your dentist tells you to cut down on sugar, brush and floss. That is good advice. And do we follow it? The economist says, "Put a stiff tax on gasoline," and do we follow this advice? The economist says, "Use taxes and subsidies to make prices include external costs and benefits," and do we do that?  

Whoops! Meant to say "Ludwig Wittgenstein."
I just assumed you were on a first-name basis!
I certainly cannot speak to the deep economics, but I think non-economists expect any new "oil crisis" to be entirely too much like the old one(s).

Roughly similar ... perhaps, but given a radically different global economy ...

It is a continuing distraction to me that TV analysts (etc.) blithely compare oil prices to past spikes and name a specific price (in 2006) dollars that would cause a recession.  Or conversely they'll say we can't have a recession because we are only at 80% of the value that caused recessions in the past.

Pfft.  That was then, this is now.  They are pulling prognostications out of their posteriors.

BTW, did everyone see this Carl Pope fact-check on Exxon and Peak Oil:

He also has an interesting catch on Wal-Mart actions:

O.K., I will quit kidding ya, and take the question seriously.  It is a good one, by the way, it is just somewhat loaded.  I am not sure you are looking for a theoretical discussion, or actual "real world effects.  So let's do both!
On the theoretical side, I will turn to the "twin towers" of discussion of "asymmetry" in science and and the recent evidence of very great "non-linear" events following after a set of known conditions are altered.
The first of course is the so called "butterfly effect" as discussed in the remarkable book "Chaos" by James Gleick.  The butterfly effect is simply the idea that at a certain moment, just at what could be called the "balance point" of stability, a the wind from the wings of a butterfly could alter a storm to the point that it becomes a hurricane.  It sounds silly on first glance, but we know that there must be an exact "balance point" in any series of events, that second (or even millisecond) that the tiniest flick of the wing or the finger will trip it over center.  At that moment, beginning from the current conditions no longer matters.  The system is in a moment of suspension...a  completely unpredictable set of events will follow the butterfly wing, or the flick of the finger (or to put it into our current world situation, the perfectly placed bomb or terror attack, or, on the other hand, the smallest unperfected technical breakthrough).
This is all the more true of very complex systems, of which modern high technology societies are a perfect example.  

Using nature and chemical reactions in nature, which are among the most complex in all the universe, the 1977 Nobel prize winning Chemist Ilya Prigogine provides the second twin tower in the discussion of non-linear effects.  For an overview of his life, a quick view of the Wikipedia glance gives a starting place:

From there, you can put his name, nothing else, in a Google search and get 346,000 hits, enough to keep you reading for awhile.  His essential fascination was with the role of  equilibrium vs non-equilibrium in self organizing systems, and the role of chance or very small magnitude events in the direction of such self organizing systems.  Let's use one of his favorite examples, from his biological chemical background, called, "The Termite Lesson".
In this example, Prigogine proved through experiment that the formation of a termite colony was governed as much by chance as by design:
A loose non colonized group of termites go about eating, and then deposit a little glob of "goo", then move about and deposit another.  The goo has a chemical attractor to other termites.  If, and only IF enough termites are close enough by to pick up the scent do they come and deposit a glob of goo...OR, if by chance, more termites are simply moving about and deposit goo close enough to the first drop, and then another close enough, until a larger structure begins to form.  From that start, a termite nest forms it's first wall, then an arch, and begins to become a very complex structure, a termite nest complete with organized colony.
This is the ultimate constructive non-linear effect (from the termites point of view, if not the homeowners!), in the same way that the "butterfly" wing that started a hurricane would be the ultimate non-linear destructive event, at least from the human standpoint.

This is fascinating stuff, but how does it apply to humans and our "peak oil" or energy discussion?
Well, the point of Prigogine as well as the chaos theorists is that change to complex systems is principally "revolutionary" and not "evolutionary".  This is HUGE breakthrough in thinking, because it essentially throws out the "simple" Darwinist thinking that has existed since, and get this, because it is no coincidence, from about the birth of Industrialism.
Industrialism believed to it's core in "evolution, not revolution" despite much evidence to the contrary.  The British march forward was seen as an accrued set of planned conditions, with a theological undertone, as the British author John Rommer called it, "From Java Man to Range Rover Man".  This is why the very theory of oil depletion or "peak oil" is so threatening, and so hated.  it cuts to the heart of the Industrial/modernist belief system.

But, and this now seems obvious, The modern age was born with whole sets of "Revolutions" not "Evolutions"!  The biggest was the Industrial Revolution (note, not Industrial Evolution...why did NO major thinkers see it as an evolution?  Because it was a complete "non-linear" break with the prior complicated system, socially, economically, politically, even personal and sexually, restructuring not only the system, but the parts of the system.

But enough theory.  Let's talk about oil and the "non-linear" changes that are ""difficult to identify", as you say.
We have stated above that the predictability from stability and linearity to non-stability is, by definition almost impossible to predict.  Would the tinkers who invented the steam driven pumps that became steam engines could have believed that this one tiny breakthrough, in the hills of Britain, would completely alter the history of the Western world?  A small steam pump? (!!)
An empire built on boiling water? (!!)

This is the breakpoint we are now at.  The  tiniest kick could send the analogical "termite" colony into chaos, breakdown and nonexistence.  This is the bet that many are making, and it is called "the big die-off", "peak oil", the "End Of The World As We Know It", and posits a horrific future.  But that is only one of a thousand, or a thousand thousand possible outcomes.  A team of a few humans, of all the billions on Earth, working in a lab in Cambridge, or Los Angeles, or Tokyo could accidentally mix exactly the right amounts of chemicals (Lithium, Aluminum, iron?), and bump blindly into the battery that makes the oil age an idiotic waste of time.  Or, small team of terrorists could bribe just the right guards in Saudi Arabia, and take down an oil complex from the inside, triggering the confrontation that takes down the Royal family, and plunges the Western world into economic chaos...we have no way to know.

Given this, what planning is possible?  Remember the termite lesson?  IF termites are dense enough the odds in a self organizing system are for success.  This points up the ABSOLUTE NEED for energy and technical education.  Chemistry, Physics, electronic engineers, bankers with technical background, government officials with technical backgrounds have to be brought into close proximity again and again...this will have the effect of increasing odds that the macro economic effects you describe will lead to a rational colony, not a loose assortment of undirected "termites".

As oil prices increase,  sheer concern for the security of the family, the community, the business firm, will cause people to make the small investment and the small investigations.  This however, does IN NO WAY assure success, anymore than the peak of easily obtained liquid fuel assures failure.  The chance factor comes in, as well as the "outside influences".   These can have unbelievably unexpected effects.  The scientist, like the terrorists are taking the chance that they could unleash exactly the opposite of what they intended to.  
(Example:  A small band of brothers, fellow soldiers of WWI side with another veteran of that war to redress the "stab in the back" they perceived from their leaders...and create the Third Reich...and in so doing, were essentially responsible for helping create the inclusionist multi ethnic Western mind, as well as the modern Jewish state, Israel, and the atomic bomb.)

It is possible that the issue of "Peak Oil" will drive a decade of research unparalleled in history, creating activity in the technical and scientific field that could not have been predicted only a few years earlier...But what place should we, like the termite of our example, deposit our intellectual "goo"?

We speak of a Manhattan project, but what should it invent?  I ask you to do your own research.  My bet is with electric power storage.  
A modern, cheap, light, durable, almost infinitely rechargeable battery frees up transport, solar, wind, tide, Combined Heating and Power (CHP) and a multitude of other breakthroughs that are hard to visualize.  It is the beginning of a "colony", already with so much intellectual building "goo" established, it could provide the ultimate "non-linear" discontinuity, and completely junk current oil and gas economics.  IT IS THE SUPER STRUGGLE OF OUR AGE.
Peak oilers will soon begin moving away from defeatism and nihilism, and make the good fight for the release, the development, of these batteries, from Chevron (yes, they own the heart of the patents, and are holding up battery development, forcing  development of Lithium Ion, the "open source" battery, as a way out, with a market for a battery that did not exist in the 1970's energy crisis, the cell phone and the laptop of those great unpredictable "non-linear" developments, which mixes with the amateurs in California's  group, and which uses the structure of the Toyota Hybrid...the drops of "goo" are forming into the superstructure...and the unintended consequences of energy prices, which set it all in full motion, and sent the termites racing around (the oil price acts as the "kicker" to the system, from outside the technicians lab).
BUT WAIT, YOU MAY SAY!  You have earlier stated that the "non-linearity" and
chaos factor should make the ""difficult to identify", so how can you do so much "predicting"?
Simply because, contrary to popular belief, we are VERY LATE IN THIS GAME.

We are now fifty years from Dr. M. King Hubbert's public remarks predicting the lower U.S. oil peak.  We are past two major oil shocks some 30 plus years ago.
Technology has raced ahead on computers, microchips, materials science, electrical engineering, and thermodynamics.
This "colony" has been being built for a half century and more.  

But, we must not forget the termite lesson and the work of Dr. Prigogine.
Because his other fascination was time, and it's effect on self-organizing complex systems.  The time is, and we cannot overstate this, the SINGLE BIGGEST FACTOR.  the termites cannot run around endlessly.  If they do, they will fall into a pattern of dissipation, and perish one at a time, never having fulfilled their natural destiny as an organized colony.
Likewise, the "colony" of intellectual talent, the collection of hard gained knowledge, the true knowledge of the need and how to answer it is a short duration thing unless it can be brought into a structural form.  The "chance" factor is still there.  The victory and maintenance of the colony is not a foregone conclusion.  The colony can simply dissipate away, and never accomplish it's goal, never have an impact at the macro level on the existence of the beings at large.
Every drop of intellectual capital, of intellectual goo, of technical effort and of financial and cultural support will be needed.  Even with that, the conclusion is, to dissipate and collapse, or to come together and build, are NOT GIVEN CONCLUSIONS.  WE CANNOT TAKE THE FUTURE FOR GRANTED.  We have one central major factor in common with the termites:  Our nature compels us to make the effort.  We cannot predict the eventual outcome, but we will make the effort.
Whether it is enough or not, only time will tell.  

Thanks very much for taking my question seriously.  I know I can be flip at times.

I am a believer in the catastophic theories of failure, primarily relating to engineering systems (when a column finally collapses, state of snow just before an avalanche, how butterfly wings trigger tornados, for example).  I was  having difficulty applying these principles to social change.

Digging around a bit, in an effort to discover some of these on my own, I ran into this one, which kinda' gives me an example for both lists.  "When oil prices go up, its good for a debt ridden economy, if that economy has some significant oil based assets."  I did not expect to see this reasoning.  I have thought that high oil prices are bad, but also, since my work depends on oil companies, I didn't think it was bad for me.  I just didn't think the effect had such a wide scope.  High oil prices have apparently done the reverse of what I thought would happen; they have prevented a collapse.  A debt ridden economy, with oil assets, can basically refinance its securities that are backed with oil assets with the increase in value of its oil reserves.  And, since an increase in value is counted as GDP, what would be a very bad debt bubble is nicely disguised and hidden forever in the GDP figures.  A collapse would othewise occur, if an economy with significant portions of its debt secured with oil based assets was subjected to falling oil prices.  Since the US is still the 12th largest oil reserve holder, it seems that oil companies and the oil service companies have benefitted greatly by this economic strategy over the last 5 years when oil reserve assets increased instead of folding when their debts were recalled.  I guess this is why they say, "High oil prices are here to stay."  The alternative wouldn't be too good.

Am I on the right track?

I am on my way out the door to some work related stuff, so I will revisit this when I return, but your discussion revolves around what price of oil is "high"?

This I know from reading is becoming a very interesting question:  What is the correct price of oil?
Historically, there have been many years in which oil has been too cheap to spur investment in the oil production/refining business....and at the same time so cheap that alternatives can't match it.  The current oil price is relatively high to our eyes, but as often mentioned, other nations have been paying stiff prices for a long time (that is another whole issue, because industry in those countries often do NOT pay the price for oil that is reflected at the gas pump in those interesting way of doing things in many nations is to consider oil and gas primarily an industrial commodity, and the need for cheap fuel for motorist comes secondary to that, which would be political suicide in the U.S.!)

Matthew Simmons has made the "correct price" of oil a major theme.  Osama Bin Laden has discussed a "fair price" of oil to the Arab world (some $200 to $250 dollars a barrel, but interestingly, even the wild radical from the cave still seems to feel that the Arabs should continue to sell oil to the West!)

And what about natural gas....what is the "correct price"?  What criteria should we be using to set it?

Is it possible that oil and gas are far far too cheap, but we cannot test that theory for political reasons?  Try this exercise:  Imagine that tomorrow, oil goes to (split the current price and Bin Laden's extreme here) about $150 dollars a barrel.  Now, imagine there is NO SHORTAGES, just a high price...from now on, fair value will be a relatively stable $150 a barrel.

What does that do to the rest of the economy?  (energy investment boom, tech boom based on alt energy, renewable hydrogen from the sun now competitive?)  auto design options that in past have been ignored due to the price "payback time" issue, now are in play, passive solar, solar voltaic now makes sense  (technically we know it works!), Chinese plastic goods are now very expensive (it's a world price we are talking about)....
Can we usefully model how oil consumption would plunge at the $150 a barrel mark?  Can we usefully model how the economy would act, once the price was accepted as the new floor price....stable (very much so in fact due to plunging consumption and rising investment, we would be awash in the stuff, but the $150 price, we are saying is THE FLOOR, even at dropping consumption!), after the initial shock, would it destroy the economy, or send it into a high tech, conservation re-engineering golden age?
What do you see as a model?  

Back when I worked for the interstate gas pipeline companies and everything was regulated by the FERC, the "Fair" price was set at gas purchase price + capital invested in the gas transport project, plus operation and maintenance costs for gas transport and delivery, plus 10% (I think it was) as a fair return on investment.  Capital expense estimates for each project were submitted to FERC for prior approval to keep them within reason and expenses were audited.  Didn't seem to be a problem and everybody liked to have those stocks in their portfolios.  That was enough for everyone back then.  The utilities didn't have any big upward stock price rises, but always went up consistantly every year and always paid nice dividends.  No Enrons anywhere on the horizon.  I don't see why the same regulated environment could not function today, except for the same old argument, "private enterprise can better keep prices down and supplies secure". Ha Ha Ha
Powerful argument.  I don't see why it wouldn't equally apply to non-technical responses, e.g., efforts to promote use of available energy-efficient technologies, permaculture, organizing socially to conserve resources (car coops, CSAs, etc.).  Or maybe I am just invoking the tipping point phenomenon.  
This might be an odd question.

How manny here do not have a TV?

(I dont have one, its been replaced with internet, mostly debating, radio and reading. But I fairly often watch "taped" TV-series with friends. )


I put my TV away in beginning of this year. Havent really missed it a bit. I am just using internet as news source. Only time I had to go watch TV was Finland-Sweden hockey final in Torino.

We sold our TV and video recorder last year during an 'appliance blitz' about 2 or 3 months after I discovered Peak Oil.

I very rarely miss it, and it has made an amazingly positive difference to the kids behaviour.  I get my news from TOD!

The ironic thing is that I must have been having a 'blonde' moment when I sold them as we still have our camcorder!  So we take home videos, but we have nothing to view them on! I have just recently thought of a high tech solution that will allow me to send copies of the home videos to my parents in Scotland.

I'm just in the middle of trying to source a second-hand laptop that will replace my desktop PC, thus reducing my computing energy requirements by about 80%.

Recently used a wattmeter to measure the power use of a recent model PC with flat screen display.  It was a bit higher than I expected, about 75W for the PC and 25W for the display.  But what really surprised me was that on "standby" it went down to 1 (one) watt for both together.  It really is worth it to put it on "standby" while you go get a cup of coffee so that you can stay awake to keep reading TOD.

I'm really surprised how many posters here do not have a TV.  Perhaps that is what it takes to become PO-aware?  For the record, I have a TV but rarely turn it on, like once in six months.  Commercials drive me nuts, even the ones on Public Radio.

I've still got TV.  I mostly watch news and science-type channels like The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, National Geographic Channel, etc. I am dismayed at how un-scientific the science channels are becoming, though.  NGC is still pretty good, but the rest are starting to run shows that questionable at best.  Shows that supposedly prove Biblical events really happened, for example, or "documentaries" about UFOs and alien abductions.  TDC has a new series about supposedly real haunted houses.  They interview the residents, reenact the hauntings...and never touch on possible rational explanations.  

I also like sports.  Sports is probably the main reason I keep my cable subscription.  

Oh man, my daughter is addicted to those ghost and alien shows!
Well, I got satellite after an employment upgrade a little over a year ago largely for the programming on Discovery & TLC as I'd known it from years ago.  To my dismay, I "discovered" programming as you describe, and worse - "What not to Wear" and the like.  But then I discovered FSTV and Link, which are very worthwhile having.  I now routinely struggle with the decision to bag the subscription, with all the crap on all the other channels counterbalanced only by Link and FSTV.
A nasty detail about PC's that many people aren't aware of is that some desktop models will still consume power even when completely shut down.  They have "wake on keyboard" and/or "wake on LAN" features, which allow the systems to be booted by pressing any key or sending it a signal over the LAN connection.  My desktop system, for example, even with these features disabled in the BIOS still sips juice when shut down.

Or it would, if I didn't shut it (plus my speakers, monitor, wireless mouse recharger thingie, cable modem, router, etc.) down completely with an el cheapo power strip.

We're pretty frugal about our electrical usage.  Had gotten household down to 6-8 kWh/day when not using heat pump/AC, which is much of the time now that we have the new soapstone stove and with judicious use of AC (we're in NC)in summer.  Records from previous owners show a range of 30-75 kWh/day - so efficiency & conservation can be achieved.  I still couldn't account for all 6-8 though.  Put TV, stereo & computer on strips, shut 'em off when not in use, and base use is now down to 4-5 kWh/day.  Those "phantom loads" were 1/4 of our baseline!  Yikes.  
I guess I make three then.

I don't currently have one, but my wife has plans regarding a digital TV card for the computer.

We have 8 in the house.
I have no TV, no car, no cell/mobile phone, no microwave. But I do have a computer with high bandwidth internet :) (needed these days to load TOD!)
I don't. I have never owned a car or a TV and I am a 41 year old American. (I did have a TV for a stretch of time, but it was in the house when I moved in. I later gave it away).
No TV since college in 1979, but two kids, three dogs, two cats, a bird, a fish tank, and his/her computers. We sold (or returned to the shop) our ancient second car (rusted '86 Vovlo) last week and are trying to live with one now. Very difficult in a rural area with two professionals.

I suspect many posting here are without TV's, but I am not sure that the computer doesn't serve many of the same functions now. We read a lot and life is very full without it.

My computer IS my TV (video-card).
No TV here either.  I gave it up 2 years ago and haven't missed it (except every now and then when I want to see the baseball game, so I either go to the local pub or listen on the radio).  Get news from the radio, entertainment on the Internet, been reading a lot more.  Giving up the tube was a great choice and really easy to do.
I have a TV for watching pre-recorded things like vhs tapes and dvd's and Playing my audio cd's as I do not have a working stereo system,  Have one but the cats did a number on the speaker leads and I have yet to replace them.

I watch shows or listen to music via that system about twice a week.  I walk all about my community and I exercise daily and don't have time usually for just watching things even on dvd.  

I go over to neighbors houses and see the TV on all the time as if lets just pump that stuff in our veins and get out fix right now.   I know people who discuss the shows they watched last night, as if its a book review, which can be good, but I wonder how many books they have read.

I do a bit of computer time, mostly Playing an Online game Called runescape,  pretty good D and D type with loads of things to do, but I have lots of friends online and even use it to talk to my second x-wife and my current female interest.  

I am planning on moving in May so I have alot of things to sort and get rid of,  If it can't fit in my Chevy Ventura minivan I am not taking it.  Which means a lot of things are finding new homes.

When I say I watch shows, I only mean off the vhs tapes or DVD's not tv signals form the sky.  Have not watched that sort of TV in about 6 years, and do not miss it.  In fact I got tired of TV fast while in the hospital for 9 days, the last 3 Days it was rarely on.
No TV since 8 years. Here in Berlin I know a lot of people who don't have a TV. Life can be experienced out on the streets and not on a screen in the living-room. OK, life here in the middle of the city is easier than in the outskirts. And it is lesse fuel dependent, I know only a few people who have a car. Publich transit is pretty good here around.
We have a TV, but it only exists for BBC World News, The Weather Network and playing quality DVDs. Most North American network TV is pure crap IMO.
I gave up TV in 1996 and only rarely turn it on now. I watched the Super Bowl this year. The last thing I watched on TV before that were weather reports about Rita since I live in Houston. When I turn the TV on, it's for the weather or for a sporting event and that happens maybe 5-6 times per year. Now my wife loves to rent movies on DVD so she uses the TV for that but neither of us likes current television programming much. And yes, the internet has largely replaced my TV time for news.
My computer and TV are side by side.  Evenings, I watch mostly the international news on the Megahertz channel, sometimes the Aussie cop show, Water Rats.  (I used to like the Finnish show, RAID, and the Aussie show, Murder Call, when they were on.)  I also watch the Daily Show, PBS Mystery and Jeopardy.  I've stayed up too late watching the PBS Jazz documentary lately.

On weekends Dish offers Free Speech
and Link TV, mostly so I can watch Frances Uku introduce World Music videos( and listen to Juan and Amy on Democracy Now.

My wife prefers Home & Garden TV, which I dismiss as a giant infomercial, and tapes standard fare like Survivor, House, Lost and Monk for us to watch together.

We have two televisions and we like watching classic movies on TCM. My kids love classic hollywood. My youngest daughter prefers Bogart and Brando and gritty movies like On the Waterfront and Steetcar Named Desire, to most modern stuff! My wife relaxes by watching the detectives.

I really can't stand most television. I really think television drama has gone downhill in the UK. This has a lot to do with too many channels chasing too little advertising revenue, so they don't have the resources to produce good and expensive drama. Cop shows are cheap and follow familiar patterns.

Unfortunately I do listen to an awful lot of music during the day. I also have a confession to make. I recently bought a wonderful, class A, tube/valve amplifier, that loves electricity. I know it's wrong but I can't give it up! It sounds like heaven.

We still have a TV.  The kids watch Animal Planet, and one of the cartoon stations.  I expect that we will soon disconnect it and save the cable costs.  Neither my or I watch it at all.  We occasionally watch DVDs on the laptop.

On those rare occasions when I scan across it, I am amazed at the crap that is on it.  What passes for news is old and so distorted that the actual events are almost unrecognizable from what I have already read about (usually days before).  What passes of entertainment is mostly fantastical and disturbing.  While others are watching TV, I am learning and preparing.  

I advise everyone to turn off the TV - it takes while for the drug to wear off, but soon you will begin to see a different world.  Block out the consumerism and propaganda.  My coworkers do not even bother discussing the new show or the recent sporting event with me - they know they will only get a blank stare, because I really have not idea about it, and less interest.

I grew up without a TV, as did my wife. We have one now but we keep it in the cupboard and only drag it out manually once a week or so for the kids to watch a video - we've never connected it to an antenna and we don't have cable.

No TV for the past six months - threw it in the garbage. I barely ever used it before that.

I had a car in high school, but haven't needed one in the 12 years since.

In the comments further up, Stryker questioned the relevancy of your question, Magnus.

I'd just like to repeat my response here for those that were ignoring the irrelevant thread about 7WTC:

Living without a TV directly relates to the topic of "Powerdown" which many Peak Oil people strongly believe in.

Also, I see the ability of someone to be able to live without a TV as a major step towards embracing a lower-energy future.

In too many households the TV is hugely important to daily life and it can be viewed as the appliance that is central to the non-negotiable american way of life.

In my view, if you can migrate a TV-addicted family to no TV, then that family has the makings of what it takes to adapt to an energy-poor future.

Both TV and the internet have great potential for use and misuse.  Good stuff is there, but you may have to wade through a lot of drivel.  Advertisers have almost completely coopted TV, and are well on their way to coopting the internet.
I have a TV and a radio (no cable though).  Local programming since Katrina has been superb.  Often poor "production values" but a vital source of local information, plans, thoughts, debates, etc.  Many internet debates and info lists as well, but TV & radio do a better job of "moderating" the debate.

"Must See" TV is a local expert who takes questions on rebuilding houses & businesses for one hour every Thursday moring.  And the FEMA Q & A.

Something I have thought about for a while is a need/wish for a question & answer section.  I am not talkinga bout getting rid of the main topic/comment format but conversations tend to drift around on the threads and sometimes are not very productive.  I know I have a few ideas and concepts I have been working on but really do not fit into a comment thread format.  

I am picturing a tree structure with different categories (food, transportation, housing, etc).  
-People either post questions directly or thru a moderator's review.  
-Others go in and comment directly ON THAT TOPIC.  
-Moderators would 'weed out' unhelpful or edit down others (hey, thats why you guys earn the big bucks!)

Any thoughts?


I second that.  I wrote a PO primer for a local, small publication that will be published soon.  It's my hope that they will ask more for more, and more detailed, articles.  I want to play a strong, local role of advocacy for sensible mitigation strategies.

Having a focused Q&A section would help research immensely.  I am always astounded at the speed with which the Drummers jump at the chance to diffuse knowledge (I think in fluid dynamic terms due to my day job doing CFD).  

And I would strongly advocate a vetting process to weed out responses that don't add materially to a given question.

This has been discussed before. Existing forum software does everything necessary to handle this. My suggestion was to CLOSE comments on TOD articles and instead add a forum system. One forum category should be threads started by the TOD staff, each thread pointing back to a posting here. Then the posters can post about that article in the associated thread. This would also allow TOD to open other forum categories where people might post more freely, about topics like depletion modeling, etc.

This could be done right now by closing comments and opening threads over at forums but that requires people to have 2 separate logins. Most content management systems usually have options to allow forums to be integrated into the CMS so that you can login to the site once and use the same ID for reading articles as well as reading/writing to the forums.

Can anyone spare America a dime?

US government near to debt limit

see link below :-

Most, but not all, probably already know this.

If you are logged into The Oil Drum, you will see messages marked as "New" if you return to a thread at a later time.  That feature saves a lot of time.

That is a good reason to be registered, even if you do not post comments.

So, make sure that you register.  :-)


How long does the "new" tag last?
As long as you don't visit the page.
It is only new to you. Everyone has a different set of new comments, which are the ones that have been added since your last visit.
March 8, 2006:  50th Anniversary of M. King Hubbert's Speech

M. King Hubbert tribute

M. King Hubbert's Lower 48 Prediction Revisited
(By Khebab & Westexas)

A Call To Action:  Replace the Payroll Tax With a Retail Fossil Fuel Tax

In my opinion, the time for Endless Talk has passed. It is now the time for Endless Action.  

In my opinion, the captioned proposal is the only realistic chance we have of saving some semblance of a future for our children and grandchildren.

Which major political party--if any--that adopts this proposal is a matter of utter indifference to me, but I think that it is a winning idea for the 2006 and 2008 elections.  

I have never forwarded on a chain letter, but in this case, I am trying to encourage a chain letter, or more accurately, I am trying to encourage everyone to spread this idea.  

If you agree with Khebab and me that the captioned proposal is a good idea, please forward on the proposal (outlined in our article)  to as many people as possible--preferably in your own words.  Send letters to politicians.  Mention it at every opportunity. If you wish, feel free to forward the link to our article on the Energy Bulletin website, or forward on any of the excellent articles on The Oil Drum.  But the point is to start trying to do something constructive.  

Last fall, my wife and I  helped the Southern Methodist University Environmental Science Department and the Greater Dallas Planning Council organize a joint symposium by Matt Simmons and Jim Kunstler in Dallas, Texas.   We had the privilege of meeting both Matt Simmons and Boone Pickens, who helped underwrite the symposium.  We also had the privilege of spending quite bit of time with Jim Kunstler.

Jim Kunstler gets a lot of criticism for being unduly harsh on the "American Way of Life."  However, if you listen carefully to what the man is saying, you realize that Jim is a man in mourning. He is mourning for what the country used to me, for what it is, and for what it could have been.  He also disdains the term "consumer."  We used to be a country of producers--not consumers who demand endless supplies of cheap energy.

Jim Kunstler is a prime example of the effect that one person can have.  Richard Rainwater (a long time friend of George W. Bush) was recently profiled in Fortune Magazine.  The article discussed Mr. Rainwater's deep concerns about Peak Oil--after he read "The Long Emergency" by Jim Kunstler.  According to a Dallas Morning News editorial writer, one of the primary reasons that Bush used the "America is addicted to oil" phrase in his State of the Union address was because of the article about Richard Rainwater, who became concerned about Peak Oil because of Jim Kunstler.  You never know who might be reading your stuff.  Granted, the "addicted" reference was mostly political posturing; nevertheless, it gave the whole issue of finite fossil fuels considerable credibility.

In my opinion, this tax proposal has a chance to turn us from a country of consumers back to a country of producers, back to a country where we knew our neighbors, back to a country that all of us can be proud of again.

Will we fail?  Probably, but at least will we able to tell our children and grandchildren that we tried to do something about it.

Jeffrey J. Brown
Addison, Texas

M. King Hubbert's Lower 48 Prediction Revisited

I've had a blog entry with that very suggestion on the back burner for some time, and I've been talking it up in comments elsewhere.

Makes too damn much sense.  Reverse the subsidies, make people see the cost at the pump instead of paying through their income taxes!

This is a letter I sent to the Editor of my local paper, the San Jose Mercury News. No idea if they will even read it, let alone print it. (I did get an an out-of-office auto reply) I really should written and edited it last week, rather than dashing it off after work last night. in the postscript I included links to NYT "End of Oil" and "Why peak oil is probably about now" from TOD.


"It Was 50 Years Ago Today"

50 Years ago, M. King Hubbert, a Geologist for the Shell Oil Company presented a controversial paper, "Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels", before a meeting of the American Petroleum Institute.

In his paper, he calculated that just 14 years later, the United States would reach the point where about one half of its recoverable oil will have been produced, and that after that date, production would begin an irreversible decline. This observation, based on historical mining data, has since come to be called "Hubbert's Peak." His position was scoffed at and widely discounted at the time, but right on time, in 1970, US production did indeed peak, and the later huge finds in both the north slope of Alaska, and the Gulf of Mexico were unable to make up for the declining production of the lower 48.

In his paper, Hubbert also predicted the world Oil production would peak near the year 2000, but his slide rule could not calculate the emergence of OPEC and the oil embargoes, which gave us a brief respite. Geologists using his methods are now calculating that we are rapidly approaching (or in the case of Hubbert's protege, Kenneth S. Deffeyes -- we have just passed) the world peak.

"Peak Oil" does not mean that we have run out of oil, we still have about half left. It does mean that every year after the peak, the world will have to make due with less oil than the year before. In this generation, we will continue to burn oil and coal, and renew development of nuclear power, but the generation after will be forced to shift to sustainable resources like wind, solar, and tides.

That shift will not be easy. Our entire civic infrastructure was built with cheap, abundant oil, and our towns and cities were built for the automobile. We have ripped up our railways, which are far more efficient than truck transport. We have aquired a taste for foods that travel thousands of miles from the fields to our tables.

We face a simple choice. We can ignore Hubberts peak, and act all surprised and outraged when the "No Gas" signs appear at our local stations, or we can face the simple fact that the world is changing, and we must change with it. The end of cheap oil is our wake-up call, we need to start working on those sustainable energy sources today.

Joseph Palmer

For what it is worth, Scoop is capable of being configured to support different comment display styles.  Look at something like DailyKos for an example - some of their stories can get over 500 commments (the most I have seen is about 800).  The current display mode for TOD corresponds to "Nested".  Something like "Minimal" might be nice - that just has the comment title along with the author and time.  "Threaded" is also a possibility - top level comments are displayed like they are now, but comments to comments are collapsed like in Minimal.

Which brings me to another point - at TOD there isn't a way to set the title for a comment.   If I go to view my comments, they all come up as "Untitled".  If there is something specific I am looking for, it can be tough to find - it would be nice if we had an option to add a title to each comment.

Someone just sent me this year's Darwin Awards, and this one seems both cautionary tale wrt global warming, and related to the brown power thread:

Nominee No. 5: [Bloomberg News Service]: A terrible diet and a room with no ventilation are being blamed for the death of a man who was killed by his own gas emissions. There was no mark on his body, and an autopsy showed large amounts of methane gas in his system. His diet had consisted primarily of beans and cabbage (and a couple of other things).
It was just the right combination of foods. It appears that the man died in his sleep from breathing the poisonous cloud that was hanging over his bed. Had he been outside or had his windows been opened, it wouldn't have been fatal. But the man was shut up in his nearly airtight bedroom.
According to the article, "He was a big man with a huge capacity for creating "this deadly gas." Three of the rescuers got sick, and one was hospitalized.
Methane is an axiphysiant (spelled right?). The smelly parts are sulfur stuff and don't poison you at any decent precentage, either. If you have an air tight room the CO2 might build up to the point that you have heart failure from a panic attack, but I'd just go with natural heart failure, and natural decay, for a dead body with odor.
urban legend I'm afraid- not on the darwin awards web site for 2004 or 2005!
Way too old urban myth, this one has been around since '97
Debunk is here:
Sorry about that.  Jeez, you can't even trust that Darwin Awards are really Darwin Awards anymore!
Getting back to the new format of limiting a thread to 100 posts, I think it's a very good idea. My reason is not so much that it makes scrolling down easier. Rather, I've noticed that the longer a thread gets, it tends to drift off in a certain direction and take on a sort of personality of its own. The posts also tend to get more repetitive and argumentative the longer it goes one.

Thus, it's good to limit the thread to 100 posts and to then reset the timers, so to speak, and start a fresh one.

I agree.
Yesterday the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources [chaired by Domenici (R-New Mexico) and Bingaman (D-New Mexico)] held a full committee hearing on "Energy Independence".

Speakers at the hearing included:

James Woolsey - former director of the CIA (1993-95)
Susan Cischke - VP of environment and safety engineering, Ford Motor Company
Frank Verrastro - Center for Strategic and International Studies
Amory Lovins - Rocky Mountain Institute

Interestingly, both Woolsey and Verrastro reference Peak Oil. But the point they make is that even if you choose to discount Peak Oil, you have to understand the tremendous difficulty we face in ramping up oil production to meet future oil demand.

Saudi exit strategy

The recent failed attack on the Saudi terminal started me thinking about the difficult corner the Saudis seem to have painted themselves into if independent analysts like Simmons are correct about their reserve status.  If the reserves are indeed disappearing rapidly, the Saudis can either say something like, "Whew boy howdy (or the Arabic equivalent) did we ever get it wrong!  I don't know how we came up with those numbers!"

Or, something like, "What, you guys didn't really take us seriously, did you?  We just wanted to inhibit the development of alternative energy sources as long as possible.  Sorry about that..."

Either way you spin it, there's a lot of "face" lost here.

How much cleaner if, instead, as production looked like it was about to tank, a serious accident or sabatoge crippled production facilities, maybe for years to come.  "Given the severity of the damage, production levels may never return to normal...."

Just a bit of paranoid, political speculation....

Even paranoids sometimes do have enemies.
In the spirit of the 100 posts limit, I want to thank Davebygolly for synopsizing Mann's "1491" in yesterday's thread.  Sounds good, I'll put it on my list.  I'm currently reading Jerry Mander's "In the Absence of the Sacred".  Which, given the discussion of sans-TV above, has relevance here.  He basically speaks to the two themes - the impact that TV has on our culture, and the struggle native cultures have had resisting being consumed by ours.  And I'd also plug Derrick Jensen's "The Culture of Make Believe".  Taken together, it makes it pretty clear to me that technology is not going to save us, for technology is simply the ultimate expression of our cultural compulsion to consume everything at hand.  So, regarding, again yesterday's discussion of nuclear and its affect on future generations, I have to largely agree with DBG ( to say more emphatically that nuke will not save us, and we should avoid its further deployment at all costs.  The only viable option is powerdown - not preserving the status quo at all costs, for that will lead only to a greater collapse (which, by the way, Jarred Diamond's book I also recommend).  We are like the Easter Islanders' cutting the last trees, erecting great monuments to our gods, oblivious to the consequences.  Is it in our DNA to believe that more is always better, that humans are above nature, that technology will always save us?  It may seem so, but Mander, and others who elucidate native cultures for us, would seem to say that it is not - that cultures have found sustainability and lasted far longer than ours has, or possibly can.  Can ours transform itself into a sustainable culture?  I seriously doubt it.  But if there is any ray of hope, it is not based on nuclear energy, zero energy, mining other planets, or nano or any other technology.  It is based on recognizing natural limits, and choosing to live within them.  We're far past the carrying capacity of the planet, so there will be an "adjustment".  The longer we try to deny such by relying on technology, the more substantial an adjustment will be needed.
I really don't think it's in our DNA. I think it's in our culture. Personally I'm sceptical about the importance of our DNA in relation to how we "see" the world around us. I want more evidence or even proof. I worry about the consequences of vulgar determinisism in the "soft" sciences.
Well stated.
Can someone help explain how the weekly EIA oil inventories keep building? There was a surprise build of 6 million barrels this week. Could it be that it is heavy sour and refiners are not using it?
yes, I wanted to ask the same question. Stocks of crude increase while imports and production decrease. In the weekly report we can see that the inputs to refineries are very low with operable capacity used à 83%. Of course you've heard of refinery shut downs. Econbrowser provided following analysis : indeed, refineries have to deal with increasing heavy and/or sour crude. Some are actually upgrading, some just won't handle it. While this is normal maintainance season, are there other explanations for the low crude inputs to refineries ?
Anybody seen the post at greencarcongress on senate testimony that focused on energy efficiency and hybrids for the transportation fleet?

The goal from most speakers was to totally eliminate conventional oil. An example from previous CIA director Charles Woolsey.

     The realistic opportunities for reducing demand soon suggest that government policies should encourage hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, particularly whatever battery work is needed to bring plug-in versions thereof to the market, and modern diesel technology. Light-weight carbon composite construction should also be pursued.

    The realistic opportunities for increasing supply of transportation fuel soon suggest that government policies should encourage the commercialization of alternative fuels that can be used in the existing infrastructure: cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel/renewable diesel, and (via plug-in hybrids) off-peak electricity. Both of the liquid fuels could be introduced more quickly and efficiently if they achieve cost advantages from the utilization of waste products as feedstocks.

    The effects of these policies are multiplicative. All should be pursued since it is impossible to predict which will be fully successful or at what pace, even though all are today either beginning commercial production or are nearly to that point. Incentives for all should replace the current emphasis on automotive hydrogen fuel cells.
    --R. James Woolsey

ERATA - Should be James Woolsey not Charles.
"Off-peak electricity" seems to be touted every time plug-in hybrids are brought up as a "solution".  As if that "off-peak electricity" is free.  I can understand the attitude, especially from Californians where peak demand has been the problem in recent years.  But while using more power off-peak does not require additional infrastructure, it does require additional fuel.  With the current infrastructure that means more natural gas, which is getting scarce in N.America.  In the longer run, a higher baseload will cause calls to build more coal-burning plants.  You call that "zero emissions"?

The only real solution is to drive less.

I agree with you on not using NG or coal to make more electricity.

My take on the talks was this however.

  1. Reduce consumption via very large gain in Transportation efficiency.
  2. Use that gain in efficiency to allow alternative fuels to meet new demand.
  3. Use all approaches to try and maintain commerce as we see it today but substituting very efficient vehicles running on non petroleum sources.
  4.  Abandon Fuel cell research becaue there is no net gain in efficiency and they will not be ready for mass market in near term.

Unstated (but maybe implicit?) is that solar and wind generation during off peak would have a place to go, i.e. into plug in hybrids.  

I would love to know how to calculate what happens when there is short term excess on the grid from excess capacity via all sources, particularly near wind and solar farms.  Where do all these overages go?  Are the generators not allowed to present more energy to the grid than it can handle before reducing conventional production?  Are the conventional generators operating less efficient to balance demand.  Are they just lost in the system via transmission all over the country before end use?  Clearly there can't be an instantaneous ramp  up of usage - or can there?  I know this is a very large complicated system but how is supply and demand always instantaneously met?

Who out there in cyberland can answer this.  The question is :  
On a grid the size of the U.S. and Canada how is electric supply optimized?  

My simple brain says there must always be an excess to allow current flow from generation to demand.  How innefficient is this system compared to an idealized system?

What happens with excess electricity supply on the grid? Well, it causes the grid frequency (in the US 60 Hz, in Europe 50 Hz) to rise...

A lot of rotating electrical machines are connected to the grid. The rotational speed of these machines is fixed to the frequency of the grid. If you want to speed up such a rotating machine, you need energy, because of the inertia of its rotor. Now, that's what happens with any excess energy on the electricity grid, it speeds up all connected rotating machines. Because there are so many machines connected to the grid, you need a hell lot of energy to speed them up before you start to notice that their rotational speed and thus the grid frequency is increasing (or decreasing when there is a negative balance).

When utilities notice that the frequency is drifting away too much from its rated value, they start adjusting their power plants to keep the balance.

Are you sure the grid frequency is allowed to vary?  I have always assumed that it must be maintained at exactly 60 Hz (in the U.S.).  But I see your point.  As the load is decreased, the generator shaft speeds will want to increase, and vice versa.  Over relatively long periods of time the shaft speeds can be maintained by controlling the amount of heat driving the turbines, but what happens when a big load is suddenly turned on or off?

I did a little searching and discovered this explanation for how generators are initially synchronized when being brought online.  Interesting, but it still does not explain how instantaneous load changes are handled.  Does power factor correction have anything to do with this?

From your screen name, I figure you will be able to answer another question I've had about wind power.  Wind turbines are inherently variable speed, correct?  So how do you drive the grid with the output of a windmill, given that grid sources must be exactly frequency and phase matched?

A lot of questions, let's address them one by one...

Are you sure the grid frequency is allowed to vary?  I have always assumed that it must be maintained at exactly 60 Hz (in the U.S.).

It depends on what you call varying... e.g. in Europe, about 99 % of the time the frequency lies within 49.94 and 50.06 Hz, which is quite fixed... More details on the load-frequency control (in Europe) you could find here and here. As far as I know, in the US, the frequency variation is comparable, maybe slightly larger.

Over relatively long periods of time the shaft speeds can be maintained by controlling the amount of heat driving the turbines, but what happens when a big load is suddenly turned on or off?

I would propose to take a look in both links I referenced above. As an example, when Italy went down on 28 September of 2003, it was importing about 6400 MW from the rest of Europe. Suddenly, there was an overcapacity of 6400 MW in the rest of Europe, which is a huge amount (compare it with 6 nuclear power stations). Nevertheless, the grid frequency in Europe (except Italy) increased only modestly to reach 50.24 Hz after 4 s... A quarter of an hour later, the grid frequency was back to normal. Different mechanisms are part of this, but most important are the generators reacting fast after every frequency deviation of more than 200 mHz (the immediate reaction to limit the frequency deviation is called primary control, the action later to bring the frequency back to normal is called secondary control). You can find the full investigation report about the Italy blackout here.

Does power factor correction have anything to do with this?

I could be short on this: no. Power factor correction is related with voltage control, not with frequency control.

From your screen name, I figure you will be able to answer another question I've had about wind power.  Wind turbines are inherently variable speed, correct?  So how do you drive the grid with the output of a windmill, given that grid sources must be exactly frequency and phase matched?

Yes, I can answer that question, but it's not going to be easy to explain. Let's give it a try... First of all, there are different type of machines. The most important are synchronous machines and asynchronous machines. Most, if not all, large power station generators use synchronous machines to produce electricity. Their frequency and phase is exactly matched with the grid.

For wind turbines, the story is more complicated. In the past, most wind turbines used to have asynchronous machines, rotating slightly faster than the grid frequency. The difference is called the slip. Now, this slip can vary somewhat, but not really much (only a few percentage). Therefore, these windturbines are called fixed speed wind turbines. Till the nineties, most wind turbines were of this type.

However, today, most wind turbines are variable speed. Basically, there are 2 options to make a wind turbine variable speed while the grid frequency is fixed. One is the doubly fed generator, the other is by making use of a full electronic power converter. The last option gives the most flexibility as the speed of the turbine is completely decoupled from the grid frequency. The most important wind turbine manufacturer using this technology is Enercon, but others like GE and Siemens are also using this technology for their newest, largest (+ 2MW) turbines.

The generator type most used today is the doubly fed generator. For an expanation how this type of generator works, see here. These generators could vary their speed by about 40 %, which is generally acceptable for most cases. This type constitutes kind of a compromise between cost and variable-speed operation.

"Off-peak electricity" seems to be touted every time plug-in hybrids are brought up as a "solution".  As if that "off-peak electricity" is free.
It isn't free, it's just cheap.  The plants and the T&D system have to be paid for if they're being used or not, so power is priced low during low-demand periods to encourage time-shifting.
But while using more power off-peak does not require additional infrastructure, it does require additional fuel.
Which can be oil.  If you replace the 14.9% efficient car drivetrain with a 55% combined-cycle plant, 93% grid, 90% charger, 95% Li-ion battery and 80% controller/motor, you get 35% throughput (2.35 times as much from your oil).  It also allows you to offset that oil with wind, solar, nuclear or cogenerated electricity from other uses.  Knock off 30% with wind and another 10% with solar, and your oil consumption is reduced to about 26% of the baseline.

I think a 4:1 reduction would buy us enough time, don't you?

Car charging at night would also help even out the base load. Or raise it I suppose. Higher overall base load with less peaks favours some types of power supplies than others.

It's my understanding that the peaks are met by power plants that can be ramped up and down quickly. One type that can do this is gas fired. Is this correct?

Yes, that's right.  Deffeyes explains this in Beyond Oil, ch. 4, pp. 57-58:

There is a division of labor among the electric power sources.  Nuclear power plants operate best at a steady load, twenty-four hours per day.  Therefore, the base load, the demand that exists all the time, is carried mostly by nuclear plants.  Nuclear power plants also typically have very high capital costs and low operating costs.  Coal-fired plants, with their low fuel costs, dominate the intermediate market for demands beyond the base load that exist through part of the day.  At the few times of extreme loads, as arises on a miserably hot and humid summer afternoon, what is needed is power-generating capability with low capital cost, even if it means higher fuel costs.  The answer is a gas turbine, similiar to a jet aircraft engine but burning natural gas and driving an electric generator.

Simple-cycle gas turbines; IIUC, anything with a steam-cycle (like a combined-cycle plant) has a much slower ramp rate.

This is one reason we need lots of DSM systems, like ice-storage air conditioners and electric vehicles.  They'll do a lot to help demand meet supply as opposed to vice versa.

Off peak electricity is not free very often, and they pay you to take it even less often. But it is very cheap. Think of it as being one tenth the cost of ordinary electricity, or one hundredth the cost of peaking electricity.
I spend to much time reading open threads on TOD lately, and I don't think opening a new thread after 100 comments will change that :-)

There were a few remarks in a post (to much work to look it up) about designing new buildings with smaller windows. This is actually a very tradional approach: my parents in law own a great house in the Czech Repulic (which is also my safe haven with land, forests, lakes and rivers). The house is very simple in design, a basement(2 rooms for storing fruits and vegies, 1 room for washing), a ground floor(a kitchen, eating room, TV room, a bedroom, bathroom, toilet room, hallway), a 1st floor (2 bedrooms) and loads of unused space under the steep roof (the snow slides off). In winter it can get nasty cold ( -25C in day time once I was there), in summers it gets bloddy hot ( up to 40 C). So the house has relatively small and few windows, with double window frames (so double glass). Maybe more important, the house has very thick walls, like 1.5 feet or so.

Just this keeps it easily heated in winter, and nice and cool in summer.

Not too many people may have to ambition to live with there mother in law, but I'm allready looking forward moving there. There are more advantages then just the location: W'll have a nice extended family (3 generations, very common in a pre-industrial society).

My local paper had an article today about a new report called Fuelling Fortress America, by Hugh McCullum. It was supposed to have been released yesterday, but I can't find it on the web yet (see here for a short announcement about a public discussion on the topic by the author:

Basically, the report addresses Canadian concerns that supplying large quantities of oil and gas to the US might not be in Canada's interest. The suggestion is that Canada should be saving its diminishing reserves, especially of natural gas, for domestic use. Canadian objections to the NAFTA provisions which require Canada to send so much energy south are likely to become quite pronounced IMO as awareness of depletion rises, especially since the US has felt free to disregard inconvenient NAFTA rulings on softwood lumber. It will be interesting to see how the US would respond to any future Canadian initiative to export less energy. Personally, I suspect (to put it politely) that the limits of Canadian sovereignty would be revealed. I can't help thinking (though I very much hope to be wrong) that there may be an anschluss in our future.

Interesting.  I found the article here.
And the actual report is online here.
Thanks Leanan!
FWIW, two other major resource concerns (at least among the western Canadian agricultural community members that I recently shared some beers with) are their water and their electicity. They are definitely concerned that the US has designs on these (we are running short of both) and that under NAFTA they were obliged to share. And they aren't in a sharing mood at the moment.
I speculated about this happening in a post-Peak Oil world.  As I pointed out several times, an energy exporter can only export what is left over after domestic consumption.

The interesting question for an exporter is:  should they export more oil for less money now or less oil for more money later?

Interesting musings here on the US-India nuclear agreement, especially WRT the Iran thing.   To quote:

... This happened two years after [Bush] announced with great resolve that new nuclear powers should not be added to the list of the five nuclear powers, and eight years after the American administration imposed sanctions on India after it conducted a series of nuclear tests.

... but India continues to boycott the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses to join its ranks. ...

"This agreement is a precedent," said Congressman Edward Markey, "that Iran will be able to use to rightfully claim that the U.S. has double standards. You can't violate those rules and expect Iran to continue playing by them."

... The agreement with India is, in effect, a simple barter. The Americans agree to take the risk of losing the international campaign to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world, in exchange for a deal that will help America face the growing power of China, which so worries Bush.

A nuclear India could be a high hurdle for Chinese military ambitions to overcome. The Chinese will have to devote a significant part of its resources to deploy opposite a nuclear power in its neighborhood. ...

Whatever Bush's motivations for signing the nuclear agreement with India, the American president has in any case set back the nuclear non-proliferation efforts by 30 years. He blatantly violated the rule that was set more than 30 years ago according to which nuclear technology is not provided to countries that have not signed the NPT.

Thus, the American president has greatly harmed the chances of denying nuclear weapons to Iran. From now on, the U.S. will find it difficult to present a morally authoritative position in its negotiations vis a vis the Iranians. ...

I don't buy the line about China needing to worry about a threat from India, nor that this agreement will change their balance.  I also don't buy the claim elsewhere that helping India along the nuclear power route will help ease world oil prices. But what then are the real reasons for this US action?  How does it fit into the new "Great Game"?

Why don't you buy the idea of China needing to worry about India having nukes? I also don't think it will result a real threat for direct nuclear confrontation, but it sounds logical that it will restrict China's power in the region.

If I had to make guesses having both nuclear India and Pakistan as allies is viewed as a way to secure the energy flow from Middle Asia. The "Iranian threat" is a BS and our approach to isolate this country.

Perhaps it's simply the United States needing as many friends as it can get? The agreement is very controversial in India. It's also complicated. Can one really seperate peaceful nuclear from military nuclear? The answer is no. The whole "atoms for peace" idea was basically spin, a gloss to cover the primary reason for building reactors - the production of uranium and plutonium for bombs.

I think this cosy agreement with India will prove to be very destabilising for the whole region. Are we going to see a new nuclear arms race in southern Asia? I sure hope not! Pakistan, India's rival, isn't very happy with the deal to say the least. Where's our nuclear deal with the US they cry? Aren't we as good as India? Is it wise of the US to effectively destroy the NPT?

Pakistan is already becoming rather unstable. How long will their military dictator, General Musharaf, be able to hang onto power? Probably not that long. Pakistan is Muslima and has the Bomb. Are we "arming" India because we've written off Pakistan?

How will Iran react to all this? Iran has a large and growing population, I think about half of all Iranians are under twenty-five. They desparately need to create jobs and get their economy moving. They need to use their oil for domestic development, as do more and more countries. Therefore like so many others they are turning towards nuclear as the only realistic alternative to oil. Also they are surounded by countries with nuclear weapons, especially if one includes the US navy in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. If I was an Iranian, given recent history, I'd be sweating blood to build a nuclear bomb as fast as humanly possible!

Deffeyes has updated his site:

Here's an interesting for those who freaked out over his "stone age" comment last time:
After stating that the world oil peak had already occurred on December 16, 2005, I reported that the Bush administration hoped to double the direct solar electric generation from the present one percent to two percent by the year 2025. My fingers got away from me and typed out: "By 2025, we'll be back in the Stone Age." I'm sorry that some readers thought that I actually meant that we would be wearing furs and hunting buffalo with flint spear points. It's called "hyperbole." Nevertheless, I have been looking into acquiring some property on the Arkansas novaculite belt. Great flint.

(A funky website, but funky websites can be right, and sometimes paranoids do have enemies.)

"Bulk ammunition and MRE shortages have apparently arrived in the USA."

There is nothing 'funky' about his site.   Here at TOD, we see the world with the lens of 'Cheap/easy to get energy is comming to an end' and we attempt to filter all information to that lens.

George is up front - He thinks the present economic plan is not sustainable, and the world is headed for another breakdown of the economic engine.   If the engine, tuned to cheap fuel, no longer has cheap does the engine run?

He sees many events as signs of the upcoming downturn, and today his observations on MRE's and ammo got him placement on a few web sites who have the filter of 'bad things are a-comming' or 'don't trust a government' or whatever way such a thing filters into your worldview.

The increases in ammo production have been known to me via another party for at least 8 months.   Ya don't contract for 14 million (or was it billion) rounds just to go quail hunting.  

Its almost like someone is making sure if there is a shooting war, there will be lead to shoot with.

We're past 100. WHy not start a new one.
My suggested topic is us ng production over the next 5-10 years. Will it increase, stay flat, or decrease? If a change, how much, and when? How about a hubbert curve?
I think that empty threads attract more traffic than voluminous ones; bloggers abhor a vacuum.