Wednesday Open Thread

What's cookin'? Also, you might want to check out the latest piece from Outside Magazine on JHK here (which kindly mentions TOD).

And, let's not forget to remind TOD readers in the Washington DC corridor of the Sustainable Energy Forum 2006 on Peak Oil and the Environment to be held May 7-9 at Washington, DC's Marvin Center.
Since this site is now about "energy" besides oil ;-) perhaps would be interesting to hear opinions about nuclear energy?

This Environmental Audit from the House of Commons could be something to chew on (focus is obviously UK, but the picture in mature nuclear countries is similar):

Nuclear can do nothing to fill the need for 20GW of new generating capacity which will arise by 2016, as it simply could not be built in time. The Secretary of State himself acknowledged that it might take 17 years before the first of a fleet of new nuclear power stations could become operational. Even if planning, licensing, and construction stages could be reduced to 10 years in total, the earliest possible date for the first of a series would be 2017--still too late to plug the immediate gap. For the period beyond 2017 nuclear could begin to make a contribution--though, given the fact that successive nuclear plants might only come on stream at perhaps 18 month intervals, it might not be until around 2030 that the full generating capacity of a nuclear programme would be available.
I suddenly have a vision....windmills spread across the land like so many weeds...
The problem with wind (solar) energy is that it only works when the wind is blowing (sun is shining).  We can't really go without good sources of generation where we hit a button and get x amount of energy out.

What we really need to start talking about and researching is a good way to use less energy on a large scale.  There just can't be a good solution if we keep burning through energy at the rate we are.
Sure, use less electricity. Ban filament bulbs.. Set up a semiconductor fab plant in the UK making LEDs and solar arrays for the UK.

incidentally we have base load power renewables
The Severn barrage proposed in 1938 [I'll check the date when I'm back home] had 2 tidal pools for continuous power
and pumped energy storage. People have been finding excuses to refuse this, and other tidal stations for 60 years minimum.

Right. Wind and solar aren't the magic elixir that fossil fuels are, so let's just forget about them! Perhaps we could do something radical and, say, funnel $ 50 billion into energy storage research? That's peanuts for our prez. And why aren't Western European governments going down that road either?

The energy crisis is going to require many different technical efforts and social changes (including large reductions in energy use like you said) because there is no magic replacement for fossil fuels. To reject wind and solar on the basis that they aren't an on-demand energy source is a poor argument.

I'm not rejecting wind and solar -- they're great.  But they just can't be the baseline energy source because they are intermittant.
There was a study released a month or two ago, referring to the UK, showing that the wind is always blowing >somewhere< in the UK. It means that there needs to be significant spare capacity (and storage) but wind is clearly the #2 answer (after conservation).
I totally agree with Elizaphanian.  This country could build a new and highly redundant long-distance electrical system to handle the electricity generated from thousands of wind farms all across this country.  It might take 10 years to build this network but it could be done.  And there is always wind blowing somewhere in this country or on the coast.  Utilzing this new grid on top of the existing power grid, I think we could provide a fairly constant and substantial power supply for this country.  This would then lead to a substantial reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels.
It could be done- at vast, huge, uncomprehensible cost to the public and industry, and only after vandalising most of the remaining countryside with windfarms.

I remember reading that you need 8 MW of wind to replace 1 MW of coal/nuclear baseload because of the intermittency. At this ratio, to replace a single 1GW nuclear station you would need 3 or 4 thousand monster turbines at a cost of many tens of billions of pounds, not to mention vast quantities of steel and concrete, an army of installers and maintainers, and a legal team to shut down objections from angry country dwellers.

So much for sustainable, and thats just replacing a single power station!

The ratio is closer to 3.5 to 4 MW wind to 1 MW if pumped storage is used.

"Vandalize the countryside".  Yes, some people's aesthetics will be sacrificed, others will come to like them (particularly with time).  Some Icelanders oppose planting trees, even though Iceland was covered with trees "from the sea to the mountains" before their ancestors cut them all down for sheep.  They prefer their environmental stripmine.  OTOH, the Dutch like and try to preserve their old windmills.

All in what you are used to !

A wind turbine can replace the energy used in it's manufacture in about a year or so, with 20+ more years to add to the economic surplus.

And I STRONGLY suspect that lawyers are a renewable and sustainable resource :-P

In Germany, we had all these discussions, too. In the beginning, wind power was sometimes built too close to houses, some made too much noise and some had the dreaded "disco effect". These problems are pretty much fixed now.

Newer wind energy converters now have up to 6 MW.

It makes a lot of sense to build wind parks offshore. First of all the wind is stronger there, it blows more steadily, and the wind energy convertes obviously don't vandalize the landscpae out there.

A lot of wind power has also been built next to highways and motorways recently.

Yeah, I used to see a bunch driving south from Mainz along the highway.  I thought they were actually pretty cool looking and not as ugly as many people say.
> obviously don't vandalize the landscape out there.

The "limousine liberals" of Cape Cod island Massachusetts strongly support renewable neergy, except when a proposed offshore wind farm might clutter their view of the ocean.

Computer simulations show very small images out at the horizon.

That's why in the North Sea, the wind parks are planned out of sight from the coast...

Obviously, the sea has to be quite flat for this to work.

We have already destroyed everyone's view with electric poles from coast to coast.  After that we added cell phone towers everywhere.  I don't see how we can complain about a few windmills.  Soon renewable energy will be all we have, like it or not.  It takes a lot of work and only provides a spit of energy for your trouble and it is all we will have.  
Actually, there is a problem now with the power lines. In order to connect all the wind power in the north, where not that many people live, to the urban centers, we need more power lines.

As always, there is NIMB attitude. Each small village demands underground cabling, but for a 380 kV line, that is exorbitantly expensive. As a result, it takes 10 years to build a new power line - the wind power is growing much faster.

The back of the envelope cost for Megawatt class Windmills is about $1 USD per Watt. (.54 GBP)

To replace a 1GW power station with Wind would cost roughly $8 Bn USD

Now I don't know if you've priced a new Nuclear Power plant lately, but a while back I Googled about to find out how much they cost. link

Nuclear power's biggest problems are economic: it is simply no longer competitive with other, newer forms of power generation. The final 20 U.S. reactors cost $3 to $4 billion to build, or some $3,000 to $4,000 per kilowatt of capacity. By contrast, new gas-fired combined cycle plants using the latest jet engine technology cost $400-$600 per kilowatt, and wind turbines are being installed at less than $1,000 per kilowatt.

In other words, Wind costs 1/4 to 1/3 per watt of installed nameplate capacity.

Let's assume you are correct, and that the real ratio is 8:1 to handle the baseline load. That mans that you need to spend twice as much on windmills as you do on a Nuke Plant.

Of course, it takes 7 to 10 years to complete a Nuke plant, and there is NO electricity for those years, and the interest on the loans to build the thing just keeps rising. Then once you have completed it, you need to fuel it, and we have only found about 50 years of good EROEI uranium, (At present use rates) and as the purity of the remaining ore goes down, the amount of fossil fuels to mine and refine it goes up. THEN, at the plant end of life, you have to decommission it and store the waste for several times longer than recorded human civilization.

With a wind farm, you can begin electricity production as you add towers, and they economically pay for themselves in less than a year. There is no ongoing fuel cost, minimal downtime for maintenance, and when they wear out you can re-use the tower (Which is a significant portion of the cost) with a new generator and blades. If you want to decommission one, you show up with a crane and take it away to melt it down to make a new ones.

The notion of thousands of windmills somehow seems to creep people out, but compared to the scars on the planet caused by our use of fossil fuels I'd choose them in a heartbeat. Besides, maybe if we saw them every day we'd be more aware of our energy use.

Maybe this is not widely known, but in Continental Europe, we already have an integrated power grid, UCTE.

The "Union for the Co-ordination of Transmission of Electricity" (UCTE) is the association of transmission system operators in continental Europe, providing a reliable market base by efficient and secure electric "power highways".

50 years of joint activities laid the basis for a leading position in the world which the UCTE holds in terms of the quality of synchronous operation of interconnected power systems.

Through the networks of the UCTE, about 450 million people are supplied with electric energy; annual electricity consumption totals approx. 2300 TWh.

Only the UK, Scandinavia and the Baltic countries are not part of the grid, but there are links as well from Denmark, Germany and Poland to Sweden.

The international links are not very strong now, but the EU is working on expanding them.

In the future, offshore wind parks in the North Sea, the Atlantic, the Baltic Sea, and Solar in Spain, Italy, southern  France could provide a very reliable energy source for Europe.

The UK can transfer electricity with France via a N Sea cable. Since our systems are not synchronised, they have massive convertors [a bit like the SMPS that runs your PC]
to convert 'Frog mains' to UK mains
Here's an older one but plenty more news on that site.

New report confirms UK has best wind in Europe

from the news item
"the chance of low wind speeds affecting 90% of the country only occur for one hour every five years, whilst the chance of wind turbines shutting down due to very high wind speeds only occurs in around one hour every 10 years. Other findings concluded that the wind conditions in the UK are significantly stronger than those in Denmark and Germany, making wind power a very real option and opportunity for the UK, as the country has 'the right kind of wind'."

Power storage is a component of some planned solar power stations in Spain. See figure 2.5 on page 19 of this document: Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Now

Power storage in solar thermal generating systems is relatively simple: two tanks, a heat exchanger, and a pump.

"The proposed 15MWe Solar Tres plant in Spain will utilise a 16-hour molten-salt storage system to run on a 24-hour basis in the summertime."

Tanks size is limited only by economic factors. The tanks could be sized for more hours of storage.

More on molten salt here: Advantages of Using Molten Salt

In addition, solar thermal systems of this type can be used as a fuel-saving "booster" to existing steam-driven power stations by preheating the water before it enters the boiler: Stanwell Solar Thermal Power Project. Seems like this approach could be part of a transition strategy.

Similar systems could be used to supply or supplement process heat for manufacturing, reducing demand on fossil fuels.

Jeff Becker

Hi Toders

Regarding the limits toward renewable energy, Ted Trainer has put up lots of research to analyse the current offer.

Note that personnaly I think that small scale wind turbines may be some kind of solution.  Small scale wind turbines can be fixed using garage technology and can even be made by using scrapp copper, aluminium and steel.

I say scrap metal because I dont think we will be able to bring much solution before system collapse hapen because of the enormous inertia in the whole society.  Scrap metal will be found in cars, houses, etc.  

You have to think that when you will be implementing solution, the following wont be available : current systemic stability and working economy.  

Wind and hydro turbines will be used for small scale application.  See the hydro ones for grounding wheat or powering water pumps for daily consumption.  Also some lightning may be available in some spot place but I doubt you will be able to find a led, fluorescent or event incandescent light bulb.

In fact I dont think no one really knows what is gona be available in the next decade or so.  Heck, we almost cannot think clearly of what is gona be usefull.  

Making a garden is a must but how do you preserve the food? I doa lot of home canning and one thing I can tell is that the snap lid has to be replaced each time you do a new can.  That thingny has a rubber band on it.  How are we gona be replacing those snap lid? What can be used in place of that?  What were we using before glass and metal can?  

Those are good questions.  

Resist the urge to panic, it's not going to do you or the ones you are with any good. You cannot plan or mange this unwinding yourself, you need to get your head around going with the flow.

Gaskets will be important for the forseeable future, the need to seal pipe joints, steam engine valve chests, water pumps, and canning jars will no doubt persist :-). They can be made from Latex rubber which is renewable, imported from the east on the sailing ships which may one day fill the seeways again. They can also be made here from bio-source plastic (maybe we will start with milkweed sap, or canola oil and start building up the hydrocarbon chains I have no idea, but it can be sorted out), bio-resin impregnated natural fibre, or even oil / NG based plastic, who cares if the eroei is <1 we are making a reuasable artifact of great value from it, not burning it.  

Fun Polymer-making in your kitchen..

"Green Plastics: An Intro. to the new science of Biodegradable Plastics"  E.S. Stevens - Princeton U. Press, 2002

About half is on the chemistry of conventional polymers, thermosets and thermoplastics, and then segues into non-petrol based formulas and experiments (celophane, etc)..  Great info.. gotta read it a couple more times to really get it..


Before they made those snap lids, canning jars had removable rubber gaskets and the jars had metal closures--I don't know how to describe them except that you can still find them on some cannister type jars.  Before canning technology was available, people dried food for long term storage.  All you need is sun, a breeze, and something to keep the bugs off; also food (meat) was stored in brine, and apples, potatoes, etc. were stored for several months in root cellars.  There are lots of alternatives to canning as we know it.  Drying racks are easy to make out of scrap wood and old screens.  The Foxfire books have lots of good info on pre-oil age living.  There's also tons of other books about these subjects out there--everything from survival manuals to ethnological studies of tribal people.      
A picture is worth a thousand words. ;-)

Of course, now they tell you not to use those, because they aren't safe.

I wonder how practical canning will be in the long run.  It takes a lot of energy, since everything has to be cooked and sterilized.  Not to mention the cans, glass jars, seals, gaskets, and what have you.

Canning is a pretty recent invention; canned food was too expensive for ordinary folk to afford until mechanization made it cheaper and faster.

The pickling practiced by Asian cultures might be more practical, as long as salt is available.  

"Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living" is a book worth having in addition to the Foxfire series. From plants and gardening to food preservation and animal husbandry, bee keeping alot of info collected over the years put in an easy to find and read layout. A freind of mine showed me a original copy he got back in the 70's, hand typed and with cereal box covers and twist tie for bindings. I bought a dozen copies to keep on hand for family and freinds if and when the time comes. A well stocked pantry is money in the bank for me and knowledge in hand is treasure.
I would also suggest "Country Wisdom & Know-How" from Storey Books, ISBN 1-57912-368-6, as a complement.  It is a Whole Earth Catalog-sized publication.  In fact, even though TWEC is obviously out of date, it (they) still have valuable information.  My oldest one is from 1969 and my newest is from 1974.

For those who don't know, Carla died last year in her early 50's.  She will be missed by many.  She was truly one of the good people in the world.

   Thanks and I will look for that book. Carla has a web site with alot of stuff there. Her husband Don is carrying on with what she started and sent a hand written note thanking me for the order I placed. Don't see that much these days. And I think her 5 key lifestyle principles of Homesteading apply in the city or country.
Wind and hydro (storage more than run-of-river) are an ideal match from an electrical quality POV as well as storage.  Slow hydro to almost nothing when winds are high late at night; run hydro all out when winds are low at 6 PM peak.

An alternative is pumped storage with similar qualities, but not at a net energy gain.  And the amount (total energy) stored in projects to date is fairly low, but this could be changed.  High output for some hours is common.

Greetings. I've been following the discussions on this site for quite some time now and finally decided to register as a user. This is my first post but now that I have registered I might open my mouth on a regular basis.. unless I manage to make a total fool out of myself. grin

I personally think that Wind,Solar and Hydro power are the best we'll ever have before we can figure out how to make fusion power happen. Although I fully support nuclear power I can only see it as a temporary solution unless we can make fission happen with something a lot more commonly available than Uranium. I think our Solar tech is a bit lacking but in some areas it can still beat the Wind.

Hydro power is indeed good for baseline energy production but Wind power is too erratic in nature. Wind power could be made to work properly if there was a way to store the power somehow. Flow batteries don't quite cut it imo and hydrogen technology isn't quite there yet as far as I know, but how about hydro power? I mean technically we could pump water up to some kind of large reservoirs and run the water down through hydro plants when we need the power. The question is that how horribly inefficient would that be? Pumping operations of that scale would probably cause some kind of erosion and if the water is salt water there could be a number of environmental problems perhaps but.. you have to start the line of thinking from somewhere.

If we could secure ourselves enough reliable electricity profuction we could always produce the various substances we absolutely need for various purposes. I am quite aware that the days of cheering for consumption are numbered and I think that this is a good thing, but I still think civilization does not have to fall but I sure won't be missing the modern form of capitalism.

Welcome!  Actually pumped storage is common on the electrical grid now.  It's used for leveling the demand, and probably helping with system stability.

Maintaining system stability is tricky stuff, and requires a certain amount of excess capacity.  Of course, that's if the grid IS interconnected!

One of several pumped storage projects in operation today.

Effiency varies a bit depending upon equipment, but 15 MWh out for 19 MWh in would be a good #.

Ah, so it would and indeed does work in practice. If the efficiency rating is that good there's even room left to maneuver. Economical in no means by today's standards and the project would be colossal like in the scale of nothing that has ever done before and would probably take decades or centuries but.. theoretically we could create artificial rivers and even use them to fight drought?

Sounds very much like SciFi and there are big issues ofcourse like where to get that water. I'm assuming here that running rivers of salt water would at the very least be bad for ground water. At least a project of this magnitude would give people some purpose.


Very interesting. How far could pumped storage be scaled down and make sense? Surely not to the household/neighborhood level? You engineering types might chime in... how many kwh are there in, say, 500 gallons of water....

specifically, if one used solar, wind, whatever, to fill a 500 gallon drum with water, then released the contents over a wheel, driving a generator, how much electricity could one produce?

MHyLab in Switzerland has designed a 100 watt (0.1 kW) hydroelectric generator for a French (?) company to sell for cabins, etc.  Smallest that I know of.

The unanswered questions are how high the drop with 500 gallons and how long do you want power ?

Two farm ponds with, say, 50' (15 m) difference in elevation could store a fair amount of energy.

For a home, an attic (2 stories up) or concrete holding pond up a hillside with a below ground cistern might work well.

Thanks for the response. The higher the water, the more potential energy, but what would be practical for a home-owner who doesn't own a hill? Tanks in the attic as you mentioned. But then, what about freezing conditions? And structural reinforcement would be required for all the weight. I like the cistern idea...

Does make me think, though, of all the kinetic energy that is represented in storm water runoff.


That's a good point, and I'm going to have to calculate that out.  Might be a viable project for home fabrication.  Perhaps a solar heat engine to pump the water up.  Somehow I'm more interested in non PV solar.
I have noted a Finnish small wind turbine that seems ideal for many sites (including inside cities).  Feeds low voltage DC (choice of 12 V, 24 V & 48 V I think).  Include a battery to stabilize system and low wattage/low voltage water pump and "voila".
You can do a heck of a lot with intermittent sources if you have storage handy, and the storage is also good for price arbitrage between peak and wee-hours power.  It is too expensive to store electricity for most uses, but if you need A/C you can store ice, and you can heat a tank of hot water before you need it or hotter than you want it and use the heat (dilute the hot water with cold) later.
The hot water tempering (extender) valve has been around for decades, used especially on oil fired systems.  It's just a thermoststic blending valve, so that the system can cycle up and down at a temperature above the desired output temp.  You can get them at Home Depot in season.  This plumbing stuff was worked out a long time ago.  I've really got to find time to make a solar hot water pre-heater!

Why don't we focus on vacuum thermos hot water tanks and such?

I share your interest in non-PV solar(though I'm assuming you mean direct use solar-thermal).  The beauty is that it's relatively simple, and you're just moving heat around and not transfering forms of energy.  Also, storage is simply 4.18 joules/gram degree C, water has one of the highest specific heats of any substance.  After conservation it's probably the next lowest hanging fruit to be plucked and it directly impacts the two of the greatest uses of energy in a home - Heating Water and Space Heating.  Space heating IIRC(but I only recall very hazily, so someone curious enough might want to hunt the figures down), either rivals or exceeds individuals consumption of transportation fuels.

I visited the house of a retired fellow in WNC who had built an active/passive solar house (off grid).  It was huge, I'd guess around 5000 sq. ft. open layout, small-ish greenhouse for passive solar, and partially built into a hill with good insulation.  3kW PV system with battery backup.  He used 4 - 4X6 ft. flat panel colletors in the thermal system and had a 5000 gal tank (a discarded stainless steel milk vessel) in a super-well insulated room of it's own.  He had a backup system (it was just a regular water heater) but said he never had to use it.  It provided the heat for the house and the shower.  He told me the tank would get up to 150 degree F.  At the time he told me the equivalent energy that it held at that temperature but I've since forgotten, so I did some (literally back of an envelope) calculations.

5000 gallon tank
Assume 150*F to 80*F useable range (delta 70*F or ~39*C)

5000gal*(3.785Liter/1gal)(1000g/1L) 39degC * (4.185Joule/gram * degC) = 3089581950 Joules

3089581950 Joule (.00094978 BTU/Joule) = 2934423 BTU

Or... ~23.66 gallons of gasoline (based on BTU's) of storage if the tank is at 150 degrees F.

A crash program aimed at solar thermal heating would take a huge burden off of fossil supplies(since a lot of homes use natural gas, propane, or heating oil, some water heaters are propane or nat gas) and also the electrical grid (water heating, and some homes).  I just tracked down some quick and dirty numbers... 43% of home energy cost is for Space Heating, and 16% for Water Heating.  So that would represent a huge reduction in a home's fossil fuel usage.

I'm going to have to retrofit systems into our old house, but I still see passive solar heat and hot water pre-heat as some of the best things I can set up.  

The amoount of heat that collects in even the poorly insulated (insulated hell, it has holes in it!)sun-porch I'll be rebuilding this summer is quite impressive.  If I can seal it and insulate it half decently, it will be an impressive heater this winter.

I've been looking into water storage tanks - there are some large plastic water tanks for agricultural use that might work well.

A simple number to remember is 1 liter of water lifted 1 meter in one second is ten watts of power, and ditto down.  So for example, 1 cubic meter of water is 1000 liters so 1 cubic meter of water lifted 1 meter in one second takes 10kW.  Or gives 10kW if dropped.

OK, you nitpickers, it's really 9.8 watts instead of 10, but we engineers don't need to mess with anything but pretty good estimates, right?

And, of course, you have to think about the pump/turbine/alternator efficiency, which at absolute best is maybe 90% and a lot less if very small (1kW)

I have a small pond 20 meters down from my house.  And I have a great southern exposure nearby, so I am playing with the idea of a pumped storage system using a free cylinder stirling water pump that some people here are thinking of putting into production.  As always, the concentrator is the $ problem.  So that puts me right back at the biomass burner, which does look feasible.   Around and around.  Better start making some real decisions.

Tidal energy has the potential to be the most reliable source of electricity for the UK, it is predictable years in advance,  and minimally impacted by weather.  For any one station outputs will vary throughout the day, but as maximum flow rates occur at different times around the coast, overall there will always be a certain level of generation.  With the predictability, industrial usage can be timed to take advantage. (Something which I believe will be more and more common - the power is used when it is available).
What percentage of requirements can be met, and how quickly the infrastructure can be put in place are the big questions.
 Oops - forgot the link. (too early - not enough caffeine)
I was struck by how small the projects were.  One had potential for a maximum of 2 GW, but that was in spring apparently.  The rest were much smaller.

Remember, tidal power is availabel for a few hours out of every 25 hours  (The power peak rotates around the clock over the lunar month).  So any peak # has to be multiplied by it's load factor, which is typically ~21% for US wind turbines and probably worse for tidal power.

A single nuclear plant could produce more than all the projects listed.

Where tidal power makes sense, go for it.  But it is not even close to being a complete solution.  Wind plus hydro (old + new) seem to be the best paths.

Yeah, but as you move up and down the coast, the time of high tide changes.  If you install the things over a large enough area, it can average out, at least to a degree.
Completely agree that tidal (or any other system) will never be the complete answer. The best estimate I have found for UK is 20% of requirements, and we are probably one of the best locations for this.  The advantage lies in the complete predictability of the supply, something which is difficult for wind turbines to provide.  
   The 240MW tidal barrage at La Rance in France has been operating since 1966,and is producing 640 million kwh / year.  That gives a load factor of around 30%.
AFAIK, La Rance is also used for pumped storage when the monthly timing is right.  It is quite good in that one can pump water up, say, 80 cm and release that same water with a 1.5 m head, gaining and not losing energy.

A good use of the project, but it also distorts the load factor #s.

Ocean currents of more than 4 kts within 100 miles of shore could be a reliable source of baseline power. The Gulf Stream from Miami to North Carolina could meet all the energy needs of the entire United States.
Thankfully the report pours cold water on the idea, and the nuclear lobby:

*Calculations provided by the Oxford Research Group indicate that an attack on the high level waste tanks at Sellafield would dwarf the scale of the Chernobyl accident and could result in over half a million fatal cancers

so.. no major problem then!

and another nugget:

**In the US, the much-vaunted facility at Yucca Mountain is unlikely to be able to deal even with all the waste from existing power stations, and the industry is now proposing an additional site at Skull Valley. Moreover, the scale of the problem worldwide in the event of a 'nuclear growth' scenario is daunting as the MIT concluded in 2003 that a new long-term disposal site of the size of Yucca Mountain would need to be built every 3 years. *

All this headache just to avoid renewable energy..

Such dire scenarios always fail to discuss the benefits of recycling nuclear waste. Read the link. Joseph Somsel is a Nuclear Engineer and makes good points. We're not doing the best we can with nuclear for political reasons. Remove the self-induced political roadblocks and we can do far, far better. Note that the contamination problem becomes much more manageable (and harder for terrorists to exploit) as the recycled waste is a solid instead of liquid. There are other issues with the current proposals for dealing with nuclear waste as well, not the least of which is that while we, right now, might see such stuff as "waste", we don't know what use our descendants might find for it. As I recall, once upon a time, gasoline was a waste by-product from refining, wasn't it?
Spent nuclear fuel is VERY high grade platinum group metal ore.  Exact % are secret, but I was once told (decades ago) that the % for gold & platinum group metals was about 0.1% in spent fuel.

The mix of isotopes is different than natural soruces, but much of it is readily useable.  Soem radioactive isotopes in the 5 year half life range need to be let to decay out before commercial use.  Jewelry use would take even longer and such  reclaimed metal may never be useable for jewelry.  

Compared to the trillions of taxpayer dollars already spent to refine that U235 / Plutonium, the platinum group stuff is insignificant. And it's gonna be radioactive for a while -- not all the PGM isotopes are exactly stable.

The composition of spent fuel elements varies drastically with what kind of reactor it was in, what the mix was to begin with, and other stuff I'm only dimly (or un) aware of. My physics professor once said that a light water reactor can reqire refueling after burning as little as 7% of its Uranium, because fission products absorb neutrons and spoil the ability to control criticality in the core.

All of which means, it's a useful and almost necessary function to reprocess nuke-you-ler fuel to recover the unspent fissionables. Your mileage may vary for the fission products however, as it is a glorious mishmash of middle-weight isotopes dissolved in nitric acid and so radioactive you can't go near it. Yeah, some of it is no doubt Platinum. So what? In the USA, we just park the spent fuel at the bottom of ponds on the reactor sites, nobody can build a reprocessing plant.

Which reminds me of another ShrubCo-ism ... early in 2001, shortly after taking office, I noticed a little article in my paper telling about how Bush had canceled a program initiated by Clinton. It was to downblend the Plutonium 'pits' they had removed from decomissioned nuclear warheads, to make light water reactor fuel. Bush said the program would cost too much, why  it would be 11 million dollars or something...

Sellafield is [or was] the UK fuel reprocressing site
so thats the place that could kill 1/2 million in the quote above.

I would rather have petroleum lying around than plutonium..

'Harry Reid' is arguing that the US should be extracting fuel from rods and building a fuel burning device that is theoretically possible, whereas the UK parliamentary report is saying lets forget new nuclear because it's not worth the risk.

Personally I could accept nuclear, if those responsible could sort out the issues - but they won't.

Sellafield is perhaps more famous under its old name, Windscale. There was a huge accident and since they couldn't move the plant, they changed its name in hops it would fool almost everyone, which it did.
opinions about nuclear energy?
An Alert Unlike Any Other
CARLSBAD, N.M. -- Roger Nelson has a simple and unequivocal message for the people of the year 12006: Don't dig here.

As chief scientist of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Nelson oversees a cavernous salt mine that is the first geological lockbox for the "fiendishly toxic" detritus of nuclear weapons production: chemical sludge, lab gear and filters laced with tons of radioactive plutonium.

Nearly half a mile underground, workers push waste drums into crystalline labyrinths that seem as remote as the moon. A faint salty haze glows in powdery beams from miners' headlamps and settles on the lips like a desert kiss. Computer projections predict that within 1,000 years the ceilings and walls will collapse in a crushing embrace that seals the plutonium in place.

But plutonium remains deadly for 250 times that long -- an unsettling reminder that some of today's hazards will outlast the civilizations that created them. The "forever problem," unique to the modern technological age, has made crafting the user manual for this toxic tomb the final daunting task in an already monumental project. The result is a gargantuan system that borrows elements equally from Stonehenge and "Star Trek."

Communicating danger may seem relatively straightforward, but countless human efforts to bridge the ages have failed as societies fall, languages die and words once poetic or portentous become the indecipherable marks of a long-forgotten scribbler.

To future generations, warnings about Nelson's dump may seem as impenetrable as the 600-year-old "Canterbury Tales" are for all but a few scholars today.

"No culture has ever tried, self-consciously and scientifically, to design a symbol that would last 10,000 years and still be intelligible," said David B. Givens, an anthropologist who helped plan the nuclear-site warnings. "And even if we succeed, would the message be believed?"

I am willing to accept the assertion of nuclear advocates that a nuclear power plant can be run safely IF all the procedures are followed, at least for argument's sake. What I don't see is how one can guarantee the procedures will be followed indefintely into the future. Societies, infrastructures collapse. Engineers cannot guarantee such things.

Plus nuclear power presumes a fairly vast industrial and technological infrastructure, which requires itself a lot of energy. Plus all the problems with disposal of spent fuel and decomissioning will fall on a society that may not be able to cope.

EF Schumacher's time is coming -- small is beautiful, low tech is better than high tech whenever possible. The big and expensive high tech stuff should be done internationally.

Possible in Finland, impossible in UK, why?
The cover story of USA Today is a good article about how high fuel prices are affecting people across America:

Across USA, wave of anger building over gas prices

Some of the businesses affected are things I never thought of.  Like amusement parks.

Car sales are being affected:

Gas price dents sales of guzzlers

Ford Motor says gas prices, for the first time, are affecting sales of its F-150 pickup, the USA's best-selling vehicle. It's a sign gas price woes are penetrating even the most stable vehicle segments.

But Ford thinks it's just temporary:

"In some cases, the full-size-truck buyer can sit on the sidelines and defer their purchase," said George Pipas, Ford's manager of sales analysis, discussing April sales results. Still, "We don't see this buyer leaving the market."

And for some consumers, gas prices mean nothing"

Hummer sales up 231%

"Sales are just fine because the people who are buying them aren't concerned about gas prices," he said. Buyers are wealthy people ranging from company CEOs to well-paid laborers with expendable income, he said.

The Philadelphia Inquirer has this summation of how energy prices are affecting industry:

Industries hit hard by hike in fuel prices

Airlines, truckers and railroads under pressure. Factories not yet anxious.

Farmers are definitely hurting:

Fuel, fertilizer prices expected to keep climbing

Fertilizer prices - largely based on energy costs due to the petroleum products comprising fertilizer - have increased 70 percent during the same period.

Lori Wilcox, UM Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute economist, expects fuel and fertilizer prices to increase 10 percent to 15 percent this year. In fact, she sees no relief in sight. Her projections show fuel and fertilizer costs increasing for the next 10 years above 2005 levels.

Abner Womack, FAPRI co-director, said the trend is unprecedented. In the past, energy prices would come back down following a spike, he said.

That last bit says it all, doesn't it?

green car congress has a pair on full-size suvs and hybrids:

(i think that hummer growth is influenced by the downsizing from h1, to h2, to h3.  i joke that mu prius is an h6.)

"The cover story of USA Today is a good article about how high fuel prices are affecting people across America"

It's only the beginning of the great transformation of the US economy--from an economy focused on meeting "wants" to an economy focused on meeting "needs."  

Since the majority of Americans live off the discretionary income of other Americans, it's going to be a wrenching change.  Just think of the amount of debt in the US that is supported by jobs on the dicretionary income side of the economy.

Run Forest Run--run as fast as you can from the discretionary side of the economy to the non-discretionary side of the economy.

I strongly concur.  I have a hard time picturing the future but I shake my head every time I hear "demand destruction" dismissed as "there will be some pain but, ..." or "the GDP is much less dependent on oil now ..."
Today, the McPaper has this article.

Americans' personal income is growing dramatically in states that produce energy or have strong ties to the expanding federal government.

The five states enjoying fastest per-capita income growth since 2000 are major suppliers of oil, natural gas or coal, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal data.

Wyoming topped the list: Personal income rose an inflation-adjusted 13.9% from 2000 to 2005. The state was well-positioned to take advantage of higher energy prices. It ranks No. 1 in coal production, No. 4 in natural gas and No. 7 in oil -- but No. 50 in population. Not far behind the energy states were Virginia and Maryland, which experienced explosive growth in their Washington, D.C., suburbs.

And there you have it, folks.  Either get into the energy biz, or work for the government.

GM thinks its just temporary, too.

GM Says Consumer Behavior Not Yet Hit by High Gas Prices

DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said Wednesday that the auto maker expects gas prices to eventually fall based on analysis of the current supply and demand equation for oil.

"They are too high right now and they will come back down," Mr. Wagoner said of oil prices during a conference at the company's headquarters in Detroit that was broadcast over the Internet. He said consumer behavior isn't expected to be negatively impacted by current gas prices, which are averaging about $2.92 a gallon according to the American Automobile Association.

"We don't expect [oil] to get to a price range when it would affect behavior," Mr. Wagoner said. He said gasoline prices would conceivably need to be well in excess of $3 a gallon in order to significantly hurt consumers.


U.S. auto sales data for April released on Monday indicated that demand for large SUVs and light trucks has fallen amid the recent surge in gasoline prices. Sales of GM's large utilities held up better than those at its main competitors as the top U.S. auto maker's new line of SUVs has been well-received by consumers.

Business as usual at GM?  In fairness, the article did mention that GM has ethanol vehicles and will introduce a hybrid vehicle this summer.

There are two main possibilities here, in my opinion:

First, GM is secretly planning major product line changes, and all this "nothing to worry about" happy talk is just a ploy to keep investors and customers calm until those new products arrive.

Second, GM really is as dumb as a bag of rocks, and will continue in this delusional mode until they file for bankruptcy and a different management team takes over.

I honestly don't know which one I find harder to believe.

If you assume Delphi is breaking trail for GM, then you have a third possibility.  Keep the same models, declare bankruptcy, ditch all their labor costs, and sell a reduced number of of SUVs for obscene margins.
i've been the option 1 camp, but the longer it goes on the harder it is to believe.

one other thing i've thought is that given the short-term need to sell suvs, they just trap themselves.  they cannot be an "suv company" while building a snall car value network either within or outside the company.

as that gcc link shows, their "Percentage-point changes in cars as a percentage of total LDV sales" is falling, while ford and chrysler are managing to grow car share:

You can put a hell of a big battery in an SUV.
GM is secretly planning major product line changes


GM Hybrid-Powered Buses Delivered to Montgomery County, MD

Montgomery County celebrates Earth Day by becoming the 36th Community to Opt for GM's Fuel-Saving Technology

Ride On, the Montgomery County Division of Transit, today announced the addition of five buses powered by General Motors' diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system to its mass transit fleet.

... Since 2004, more than 440 GM hybrid-powered buses have been delivered to communities in the U.S. and Canada, including two other transit agencies servicing Maryland, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) and the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). The estimated annual combined fuel savings for the 440 GM hybrid-powered buses is 650,000 gallons.

... "The General Motors hybrid diesel-electric drive system for buses uses the most efficient parallel hybrid architecture available in the world today," said Tom Stephens, group vice president of GM Powertrain. "If the U.S. had only 1,000 GM hybrid powered buses operating in major cities, the cumulative savings would be more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel annually."

By the end of the year, another 236 GM hybrid-powered buses are expected to be delivered to several cities.

"'It is clear from all the numbers that people no longer believe the Republicans when they correctly point out how healthy the economy is - there is a lot of anger out there,' says Frank Luntz, a leading Republican pollster.  `The one emotion that trumps anger among voters is fear.  The best Republican strategy would be to work on fear.'" Financial Times, 5/3/06; p. 11.
In our local paper Missouri River Energy has an public notice stating that BNSF, there one and only coal shipper from the Powder River basin to there LRS power station, is doubling there rate which if allowed to stand will increase delivery costs by a total of $1 billion over the next 20 years.( if there is no further increases!) I went to there Web site and could not find a link but I did find this dated March 13 2006,144
A stockpile of coal is maintained at the plant site, which is used as backup in case of an interruption in rail deliveries. The stockpile, which normally contains about a 30-day supply, is now down to a level that would allow fewer than seven days of operation at full production.

If the stockpile reaches a level that would allow just five days of full operation, the project will be forced to curtail generation by 20 percent generation to minimize the possibility of reaching total coal exhaustion, which would shut down the entire project. A total plant shutdown may result in significant economic and reliability impacts to the region.

This is after they announced a new plant last Oct of 2005.,142

This on top of the low water for hydro could send rates up fast.

Oh, Really?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - World oil prices will stay high through 2007 because of strong petroleum demand, limited surplus oil production and refining capacity and concerns about supply disruptions due to geopolitical risks in countries like Iran, the U.S. government's top energy forecasting agency said on Wednesday.

The Energy Information Administration said none of these ''forces that contribute to current high crude oil prices will ease significantly in the near future, so our best forecast is that crude oil prices will remain elevated through 2007.''

They concede that prices will stay high 2 or 3 years, then predict a drop.

So people, and businesses, can decide they should just tough it out : not sell up and move to an apartment in town; not buy a smaller, more economical car; not invest in energy-saving equipment; not worry, be happy.

Are they really that stupid, or are they trying to fool us to avoid panic?

i think most people notice that 2 or 3 years makes it the next president's problem.
They can't say prices will come back down during their watch, as they're not about to have it pinned on them if they are wrong.  But they're never going to say this is permanent either.  Therefore the price will drop right after they leave office.  Perfectly logical - and so not very credible.  
The logic continues. Best of all the next president gets the blame if the prices don't drop (as they don't), which helps current ones to return back to power. Although I agree this is not credible, but sadly it seems to be how it works.
What I find interesting is that this is pretty pessimistic - for them.  As recently as a few months ago, the mainstream view was that 2006 would be bad, but prices would go back down in 2007 - due to new production coming online.  

I wonder what happened.  Did some big projects slip?  Or are they trying to gradually acclimate us to an oil-scarce world?

I agree that it's pessimistic.  For one thing, as was pointed out, they are sort of conceding that the problem won't be solved on their watch.  I think it's a mix of project slippage and a suggestion that we need to start thinking about "other arrangements."  Didn't Bush say "we need to get off oil" again last week?  I think that's huge for this administration.

When I read [U.S. Energy Secretary] Bodman's two-to-three-year comments, I wondered if it was a direct refutation of the 2005 CERA/Daniel Yergin prediction of a "large, unprecedented buildup of oil supply in the next few years."  I looked it up.  Here's what he said:

It's Not the End Of the Oil Age

[This] fear is not borne out by the fundamentals of supply. Our new, field-by-field analysis of production capacity, led by my colleagues Peter Jackson and Robert Esser, is quite at odds with the current view and leads to a strikingly different conclusion: There will be a large, unprecedented buildup of oil supply in the next few years. Between 2004 and 2010, capacity to produce oil (not actual production) could grow by 16 million barrels a day -- from 85 million barrels per day to 101 million barrels a day -- a 20 percent increase. Such growth over the next few years would relieve the current pressure on supply and demand.

IMO, the U.S. Administration's recent comments come about as close as you can get to a flat-out contradiction of the CERA position.

I think they are getting gradually acclimated to an oil-scarce world.  My observation of the predictions of these big bureaucracies is that they never anticipate significant changes much.  They wait until after the change has occurred, and then predict that the changed conditions will be the new normal.
Agreed.  It's political suicide to say that the bad things that have happened under your watch are permanent, even if it isn't necessarily your fault.  All of Bush's comments make it seem like weening ourselves off of oil and finding alternatives is a new idea.  I think we'll hear more about this, and see more actual work done towards it as time continues.  I don't think anybody wants to do anything strange or unprecidented in an election year, especially this one.
It's interesting that the "good news" is always just ahead of us.  We just have to wait it out.  Ever since 2003, it seems that carrot is just in front of us, but it stays out there...out of reach.

How long can people get away with repeating this tired line?

what would be perfect would be if the president said "we've turned the corner on gas prices."

then everybody would get it.

Do you think he should give that speech on aircraft carrier?
with a big sign behind him saying..."Peak Oil Has Been Defeated: Mission Accomplished"...the speech being given after he's docked with the aircraft carrier in a tugboat pushing an oil derrick with him dressed in oilrigger gear.

Yeah.  Perfect.  

Boy, I can't wait until Tony Snow takes over.
I can see it now.  The latest reality-based TV show.

"Survivor:  Washington, D.C." with your host, Tony Snow.

I wanna seem him go at it with that reporter from NBC, I think his name is Dick Gregory(?)
i think an oil tanker would be subtle enough ;-)
The USS Condoleeza Rice...
There is no mention of prices dropping after 2007 in this article. Where did people get that idea? I know what Bodman said the other day, but this isn't that.
A very harsh report on the oil industry came out today. I am running out the door, but I may comment more a bit later:

US Oil Industry Made $100 billion in Windfall Profits Since Late 90s

The irony for me was that it seems that if you increase your profits, this is a windfall. A major complaint was that the industry hadn't invested enough into infrastructure when profits were lower. Duh. They are also recommending that oil companies invest into expanding refineries. That's just pure genius. They must have been reading the earnings reports that came out last week to come up with that gem.


If they really want to go the windfall profits route, they should start with the windfall profits of homeowners.  Most likley, those with the biggest gains are the older homeowners who have benefited from the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve and/or obtained a mortgage from a S&L/bank that had to bailed out by the federal government.  In either case, the public is paying the price for these inflationary policies and it's about time they get hit with a windfall profits tax - or else I'm not going to their stations, er, homes anymore.  
Exactly. Over any reasonable period of time, the return on houses has well exceeded the return on energy company shares. And on top of that you get the "hedonics" value of luxuriating in the house and showing it off to others - but you can't live in an oil refinery. Why is anyone surprised that we are overinvested in energy-guzzling houses and underinvested in energy sources?
If they really want to go the windfall profits route, they should start with the windfall profits of homeowners.

That's a great idea for an essay. I may have to steal it.


You think you're joking about going after the windfall profits of homeowners? Someone has to pay off the national debt bonds in your social security trust fund.
There is no such thing as windfall profits, it's just the taking advantage of an opprotunity when it presents itself. Having said that I believe all corporate profits should be taxed more and individuals taxed less.
Somebody sent me a link to a "consumer watchdog" organization - with an analysis of gas prices vs oil prices...that doesn't seem to jibe with what I have read here...anybody care to refute? it's under "Read FTCR's Latest Study"

I addressed the FTCR in my blog a couple of weeks ago:

Another Uninformed Consumer Watchdog

Frankly, they need to buy a vowel.


Thanks Robert, I knew I had read a pretty good analysis somewhere.....
Right now, I'm watching a Modern Marvels about motorcycles, scooters, etc. from the old Indian-Harley competition to the present.  Oooh, those Norton birds.

The Outside article was really well written.  Westexas was prominently mentioned, too.

yes, westexas was.  I hadn't read it all when I linked.  Good show!
You haven't lived until you get to spend time with JHK on a tour of a suburban wasteland.  

Jim gets a lot of grief for being harshly crictical of our suburban way of life, but if you really listen to what the man is saying, he is really in mourning for what the country was, for what it has become and for what it could have been.  

BTW, I was qouted in the article as giving us two trillion barrels of  reserves.  I assume that I was talking about total liquids--conventional and nonconventional--or I was talking about total original recoverable crude + condensate.  

It was really remarkable to hear Matt and Jim on a local radio interview that same day and at the symposium.  These guys guys come from vastly different backgrounds--and they had never met until the symposium--but there were only shades of gray differences between them regarding Peak Oil.  Matt did say that if we don't take concrete action to address Peak Oil, then "Jim Kunstler will have turned out to be an optimist."  

One of the things that I insisted on at this event was an extended Q&A, which went on for about an hour.    After the event, it was pretty interesting to listen to Matt Simmons, Boone Pickens and Herbert Hunt discuss the Oil Patch.    I gave Boone my HL stuff at the symposium.   His assistant called me the next morning and asked me to come by and brief his staff.  

I have been trying like hell to get a transcript of the radio interview.  If I can finally get one, I'll get it posted somewhere.

westexas, I envy you!  I've always told people that JHK was trying to shame us back to greatness.  Having seen him speak twice, his image and mannerisms stick with me so reading a well written article like the Outside piece is really a treat.  
Great job WT! I'm glad the Q&A time was long and people got to ask their questions. After just reading the article it sounds like you guys had a good long time in the car together. That reminds me of an experience I had in 1997 driving Ralph Nader from Syracuse airport to Cornell University for a lecture. You can't imagine the pressure of driving Mr. "Unsafe at Any Speed". He insisted on an American made sedan with a backseat shoulder harness.

He lectured for over an hour and a half - then the Q&A lasted for another 2, at which point we had to cut it off because the security guards were only hired until 11pm. I heard he took a bunch of folks up to his hotel room where they talked until 3am. But he was alert and ready to go at 8am when we drove him back.

Kunstler also takes time out to respond to almost all his emails.  Most of his responses are humerous and well thought.  I agree that he does have the goal of saving us from our folly in an extremely dry fashion.
I'm also pretty psyched about this comment:
...he is in the process of signing a two-book deal with his publisher, Grove/Atlantic—one book is a novel about life in a post-oil world...

Oh, I can't wait to read Kunstler's fictitious vision of life in a post-oil world. (Seriously.) I wonder if his main character will live in Faux-Saratoga. Maybe it'll intertwine several characters who live in various parts of the country. I'd love to see a comparative story featuring denizens of cities, suburbs, small towns, and the American Southwest.

In the meantime, I want to read Omnivore's Dilemma.

I think that life in a long-after-peak world would be a pretty good sci-fi TV series.
Pitch it to PBS as "Exurb House", where people have to learn to live 'in the future', with all the trimmings and gravy of our current life magically withheld, and all that that implies..  Might actually look a LOT like "Colonial House" or "Prairie House", but where you're allowed to turn rusted out Suburbans into planters or 'Immobile homes'..

(AK firefight sound effects on the optional audio channels,for the doomers)

It may be my answer to someone writing the Post-Carbon Ecotopia.
Prof. Goose, Greyzone, Khebab,

I was just wondering whether there is anything happening with the data collection initiative regarding decline in the world's largest fields (realizing as I say this that everyone has busy lives, etc.).

Here's the link to the original "Top 20 in decline" post:

that is a very good question.  wasn't greyzone collecting/aggregating that data?  gz, if you've done anything send it to the eds address and I'll get a post up.
I've not had the time to revisit it lately. I've been doing a fairly heavy prototype of some new technology for our software product line and it's eaten up most of my spare time. I may have a chance to get to it this weekend but I'm not really sure at this point.
I haven't found this anywhere but Platts, but reportedly Russian gasoline exports in February were down from prior months.  The summary is all that is available without a subscription.   Maybe this was just a one month drop?  I haven't found anything else out there.  Anyone know anything more?  

Russian A-76 gasoline exports collapse
Publication Date: 24-FEB-06
Publication: Neft Trader Weekly

Description Russian A76 gasoline exports have dropped to around 80,000 mt in February, compared with 280,000 mt from previous months, as high flat prices in the domestic market

Wish I did. Westexas, I've been meaning to ask you, where do you get your export numbers from? The EIA only has one lousy table listing the top 14 with only one number for 2004. BP isn't much better.
I think that thread should be periodically updated and put back on the front page. A lot of new info has been posted on by knowlegeable posters (rockdoc, Taskforce_Unity, etc.).
Is this pure horse poo poo?

Or could it be true?

That sounds like scam city. Warning flags also went up when they said they are in a battle with the government. If they had something legit, given the government's infatuation with "The Hydrogen Economy", would they really be trying to block them? I also don't see any listed patents. If they really had something, it would be patented.


Did a little more digging, and found a place where it is being discussed:

The executive summary is: Too good to be true.


That is what I thought.  Thank you.
Agreed.  Plus look at the size of those H2 tanks.  Those are tiny.  One of the biggest problems with hydrogen is the storage/transportation thing.  Small tanks of gas like that just won't hold much.  Plus it wants to burn the hydrogen in the standard car engine.
My thoughts exactly. The energy density of hydrogen is very low. I figured someone had probably saved me the trouble of doing the calculations, and here is what I found at the link above:

I expect the higher cost limit is more like to be the case, and with installation costs and the minimum solar panel (800W in full noon sun) the total cost is approximately $13,000 dollars. If this money were invested at 6% that would buy more than $2 of gas each day, 365days per year. Even with high cost of gas, $2 will take you a hell of a lot farther than 5 miles.


What R-squared et al. said.  Besides the tanks being too small, the "source" is too small, the pressure hoses are way too skinny to handle the 5000 PSI you'd need, and there's no reason for the company to have had oxidizers on site (when turning water into hydrogen, you CREATE oxygen; you don't need to buy it) so the claim about the CPSC appears bogus.
This is totally unrelated but I just watched a movie I think you guys might like. It is called SOCIAL GENOCIDE and it chronicles the breakdown of Argentina from the 70s to 2001. The parallels between Argentina and the USA under GWB were astounding (granted, the "mafiocracy" took it to a much farther extreme there). Anyway, it got me thinking that possibly under post-peak conditions in a society with declining ehtical standards among politicians and the judiciary, potentially there could be a lot more money being made by those connected than under normal operating conditions. This is what happened in Argentina, basically they looted the country, with the people too confused by the crumbling economy to do anything about it. Like the USA, they had basically moved to a one party political system which made this possible. This is rather long-winded, but it made me think that the societies which are less corrupt might be able to make the transition to an alternative energy paradigm easier. Possibly Japan,France,Germany,Europe in general.    
They killed 30,000 students, so another 300,000 immigrated to Mexico, Europe, America, Canada, Australia, hell, even South Africa. Their best and brightest and the ones with the most initiative all left.
What did they think would happen?
It seems apparent the ruling elite knew what would happen but were unconcerned because the collapse of Argentina was personally enriching. Similar scenario playing out in the USA (not to the same extent of course).
Just ran across a good article from Time that I haven't seen posted here:

As Gas Prices Soar, the Marketplace Reacts

The article is about how high gasoline prices are starting to affect purchasing decisions. Here is an excerpt:

But when I went back to one of the Honda dealers this weekend, I found that the Civics had virtually vanished. You may be able to find one, the salesman said, but you'll pay sticker for it, or even a premium above the manufacturer's suggested retail price.

"I don't know what happened," he mused. "All winter long we're selling SUVs, and no one ever asks about the gas mileage. But this week practically everyone who came in here wanted to know, 'What gets the best mileage?' We've never had that happen before. I had nine Civics on the lot last week. I have one left, and I don't know if Honda can make them fast enough."


Yup... Support Usama Vehicle recycling is going to be a really, big industry in the not to distant future.

And if WT and Stuart are right, then the first Cat4 to plow through the GOM should pretty much finish us off.  

That gives us about... what, 8 weeks? 10? 12 at the most?

Then again does it matter?

FYI:  Bolton's speech concerning unilateral action against Iran in light of a deadlocked and ineffectual Security Council was apparently drafted months ago.

It's a good read but what stands out is the conclusion- the marketplace will take care of everything, don't worry.
"all winter long we're selling SUVs"

that seems silly to anyone who tracks the oil news, but there are a lot of people who work lots of hours, manage their families, and catch little real news for weeks at a time.  those poor sobs caught the "news" that gas prices would "return to normal" after katrina ...

it's really sad (even if has been obvious to us here) that the market is expected to work, but the market requires informed buyers and sellers.

in the example above neither buyers or sellers seem too informed.

Anyone here who's interested in US car sales should check the car sales database spreadsheet on my site.  It's not complete. but it has model-level data for at least the last year for all the major manufacturers.

Downloads page:

The Walker circulation is slowing down (3%), creating, in effect, more El Nino-like conditions--or, to put it another way, increasing the probability and duration of such conditions.

Here's a little tid bit from the NYTimes (not behind subscribe wall) that applies as equally to Oil Production as it applies to launching rockets:

[A]nalysis of engineering's failures offers some good lessons, Dr. Petroski writes. For example:

¶Success masks failure. The more a thing operates successfully, the more confidence we have in it. So we dismiss little failures -- like the repeated loss of a space shuttle's insulating tiles launchings -- as trivial annoyances rather than preludes to catastrophe.

The Oil Production industry has given off the appearance of operating successfully throughout history: Invest in exploration. Drill here, drill there. Bring up more oil. Sell it at a price greater than costs. Declare a "profit". Declare "confidence" that we can keep going this way at least for the next decade or two. Repeat behavior. --Prelude to a catastrophe.

My wife just mentioned that in the early 70s minimum wage for one hour would buy 10 gallons of gas. Now it only buys 2 gallons.
Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus
Bob's Cure for Oil Dependency

Not a terribly well thought out argument, but fun to watch the wheels turning.