DrumBeat: August 12, 2006

Now for some wise words from the readers of The Oil Drum...
Hello TODers with electro-mechanical engineering expertise,

I have posted this speculative brainstorm info before, in little posting 'bits and pieces' in earlier threads-- just as these threads went stale--thus no replies from anyone.  I am hoping for some intelligent feedback as to the scientific plausibility.
I am not an engineer, so try not to laugh too hard if this idea is totally unworkable from a future technical 'Energy Storage' viewpoint.  But please consider carefully.... does this idea have any merit for possible postPeak PETAWATT energy storage and periodic GIGAWATT generation?

Since we will have several billion vehicles going nowhere without fuel soon: is it possible to convert this huge mass to several septillion ball bearings?  Then any future non-peak biosolar power from wind, sun, tides, PV, Stirling engines, etc could gradually, over time, lift this mass with conveyors to a lofty height to imbue it with a lot of potential kinetic energy to be later used during peak hours, or when the biosolar sources are insufficient in a particular locale.  In short, using the height reduction of ball bearings for generation purposes, instead of the current method of height reduction of water behind a dam to create electricity.   If we cannot count on raindrops and melting snow for reliable electricity--can we make our own steel raindrops for future power generation?

Imagine, if you will, approx. 100 billion marble-sized 'steelies' rolling out of a dam sluicegate atop a sloping mountaintop plateau-- wouldn't they basically flow like water?  In sufficient quantity: wouldn't the 'steelies' power a series of 'in-flow water wheels'  or impellers that could be connected to electric dynamos?  Additionally, from their movement-- wouldn't they generate huge amounts of frictional static electricity and magnetic-flux hysteresis energy [correct scientific term?] that could be somehow electrically harvested too?

I picture the sluicepath as having three drives to generate electricity: the  impellers on the bottom for the kinetic force collection, suspended coils above to harvest the changing magnetic flux lines, and in-flow metal rails to harvest the bi-polar charging forces from static electricity.  Imagine this sluice gate descending into the Grand Canyon or some other suitably dry desert canyon to minimize the rusting of the 'steelies.  Could GIGAWATT/hours be generated this way?  

If this is technically possible for our postPeak future, then I could imagine certain heavy industrial processes that require a huge and reliable electrical flow to be the primary users of this process.  Let's say we need to smelter some metal using the Bessemer Electric System-- we can't risk this process having an electrical blackout halfway-- could the deafening thunder of countless rolling 'steelies' be the postPeak answer?  The energy could be sent over the grid to whichever locale can best justify its use.

I would be interested in reading replies from those with more technical expertise than me.  Admittedly, this is highly speculative: but storing kinetic energy potential in 'steelies' could be comparably equivalent to today's hydro-generation, but have the additional electrical kick from magnetic and static forces too.

Here is a little more of my thinking on this idea:

Basically, steelies will flow much easier than water on a firm, gentle slope because there is no adhesion effect like H2O. Also, rusting is a much slower process than the evaporation of water.  Global Warming is alarmingly making water storage behind dams problematic already, as some water must be released to retain habitat viability downstream.  But the gradual buildup of steelies can be biosolar-powered guaranteed over time, until the harvesting of the energy is needed.  My SWAG is that the conveyor system would work 24/7/365 to uplift the steelies, but postpeak, maybe the steelie system would only run one 24 hour period out of the week, but would make a huge amount of electricity that would be sent over the grid!

Those with more technical backgrounds could determine the actual energy density of a flowing 'steelie stream'.  My totally wild-ass guess is that a foot high flood of steelies has the same energy density as a twenty foot high tsunami or hurricane storm surge.  Basically, imagine a cubic foot of steel hitting you versus a cubic foot of water--the basic idea of a bullet being lethal versus kids playing with water-pistols.

Obviously, you cannot pile the steelies so high that the bottom units deform from compression.  My WAG is maybe 20 ft high maximum for the dam, but it would only require a very gentle slope to insure that the steelies will roll through the sluicegate to the generation system below the dam.   Therefore, I could see steelie dams built all over the world's deserts with the uplift conveyors powered by windmills, Stirling engines, and/or PV.

IF iron ore is still plentiful across the planet, then replacing those steelies that will eventually rust away is possible.  Their small size means they are totable by humans or draft animals in the worst case situation if some electricity for some special purpose is desired.

 Some more wild-ass thinking: if you can imagine a five mile square 'lake of steelies' above the dam/generation facility, and another five mile square 'lake of steelies' below with the relentless Arizona sunshine blazing down upon this huge mass-- there is a tremendous daily heating updraft and nightly cooling downdraft that could be harvested with horizontal  helicopter windmills suspended above these steel lakes.  Would this additionally help the gradual conveyor moving of the steelies from below the dams back upstream?

I wonder if these steel lakes would attract a lot of lightning strikes and if there is any way to harvest this enormous energy.  If the steel lakes were divided by a grid of insulating rails and further insulated from ground by specialized electro-isolation of the steel cladded and heavily reinforced concrete lake bottom--could this make huge capacitors when the lightning hits? Obviously, this would require careful engineering so that the lightning doesn't just arc-weld together a couple of million steelies, but the mass of steel would safely conduct, then temporarily store this energy in a monumental Resistive-Capacitive and Inductive Tank Circuit as it is ultimately bled off into the national grid.

As I ponder this hypothetical steelie generation system--I realize that tremendous human safeguards will have to be designed up-front to protect human life.  The buildup of static electricity charges alone from moving steelies could badly electrocute someone, and if someone fell into the steelie stream it would probably quickly grind them down to powder.  So this whole generation system, if technically viable, would require a lot of fences and/or guards to keep people out for their own protection [my guess is this would be fascinating process to watch].  I wonder how loud a few billion moving steelies would be--I am assuming it would be deafening if you are near the sluicepath.

OK, all you electro-mechanical engineers, if you can visualize what I have described--you are now free to split your sides from laughing hilariously-- or does my SWAG have any merit?  I retain any legal patent rights, but I am willing to share with investors--Vinod Khosla, do you want in for a minimal venture capital risk of $1 million to get this idea off the ground?

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

Imagine, if you will, approx. 100 billion marble-sized 'steelies' rolling out of a dam sluicegate atop a sloping mountaintop plateau
... The steelies would grind up your turbine blades, regardless of what you make them from.

But an oversize elevator, with motor-generators, lifting something like a kilometer cube of earth? Or gather up all the used lithium batteries from the cellphone industry and tie them in parallel?

i got it __ a giant wimshurst machine
... fill the lake with mercury

Hello DIYer,

I am imagining more of a multiple series of small ribbed metal logs across the sluicepath and connected to gearboxes to spin the correct RPM for the dynamos, not a turbine.

Because water is less dense than steelies: that is why you need the big drop to spin the turbine.  The steelies could roll much slower because of their tremendous energy density.  The arch design of the sluicepath would determine the rolling speed and how many millions of tons of rolling pressure would push the steelies relentlessly forward.

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

I understand your fascination with steelies, they're fun to play with. But along with the other objections listed below, I doubt you could get more efficiency out of them than falling water. You're still allowing something to fall and trying to recover energy from it. (note: filling that lake with mercury would allow you to use a magnetohydrodynamic generator with no moving parts other than the mercury stream)

But as others have mentioned, there is a tremendous amount of embedded energy in the steel itself. We use water for this application because (maybe not in the Sonoran desert, but some places) it is readily available, environmentally innocuous (give or take a breaking dam) and nature does some of the lifting for us.

NaK is cheaper than mercury, a much, much better conductor, and fluid at any place they need electricity for summer airconditioning peaking.
Go with flow cells for cheap energy storage for any place that doesn't have hydroelectricity to use instead.

Grandfather clock anyone ?

I've done a lot of reasearch here and at the end of the day the best storage for cost and energy density is a liquified gas. Liquid nitrogen is and obvious choice. C02 is another ammonia and organics are possible.

Now these sources have been dismissed for mobile power sources because of there energy density but they all work well as a capacitor for an eletric network. The beauty of liquid nitrogen is its free.




I'm working on and alternative method to generate that
has no moving parts based on vortex tubes

I would disagree with the statement that they all work as well as a capacitor in an electrical network.

One problem is the heat transfer--where and how to dump all that heat when you liquify it and then getting it back later. That impacts the efficiency of the complete cycle as well as the rate at which you can get the energy back out. That is an issue with LNG.

Converting high quality energy (electicity) into heat (latent heat potential, in this case), has inherent disadvantages.

It might be possible to store the lost heat in water and add it back later and even add more heat to it with cheap and simple thermal solar panels which would add (simple) solar energy to system.

Yes its a thermo cycle so there is the inherent loss but your losing energy that would be wasted to add peak power handling capability. Pumped storage has losses also. As long as the losses are resonable and I consider 50% reasonable then it makes sense to add the capacity. Consider the effect of having a several hundred  thousand gallons of liquid nitrogen stored at a wind farm it makes them viable for full load. In the home in the summer the liquid nitrogen can be used directly for air conditioning and also electric generation. Massively reducing the load. Also if you have a home windmill and solar panel your liquid nitrogen storage system means you keep the energy you generate or if you do sell back to the grid you can sell at peak price rates so your in control of when and how much energy you put back on the grid.

In the case of a wind farm or solar array located in the desert when you boil the liquid nitrogen you will be able to condense a fair amount of water from the atmosphere so it also makes it a source of water and of course nice cold air in the desert.

The energy density of liquid nitrogen is pretty high not quite enough to make it a good system for mobile transportation but its really quite reasonable for fixed energy storage.

Finally a co-product would be pure C02 this can be combined with electrolysis of H20 to give you H2 which gives you CH4 and you have a product for organics production.

The beauty of liquid nitrogen is its free.

The last I heard it costs about the same per gallon as milk. In fact the author of the piece was amazed at how closely it tracked milk over the decades.

I meant the working fluid i.e nitrogen.

The big disadvantage right now is the cost of creating it.
The use of stirling engines help and as I said I'm investigating using hirsch vortex tubes. There are also acoustic refrigeration. Needless to say efficient condensation of gasses is not and area that has recieved a huge amount of research since regular compressors work well even though there not efficient. You can use other working fluids the only real requirment is the boiling point is lower then room temperature. The energy is from the phase change liquid->gas.

Hmm. I looked at your site. You'll still run into some laws of thermodynamics. Extracting useful work from a temperature difference is always going to be less than 100% efficient.

And the cost of LN2 is almost entirely the cost of the energy to produce it.

If I had the money, time, and patience to build an energy storage system in my garage, I'd go with nickel-iron batteries. Your energy out / energy in is only about 40% but they last forever, have no moving parts, and are beautifully low-tech.

I thought a lot about batteries but they don't seem to provide the load response that a thermodynamic system can. LNG is also potentially a good choice but again with liquid nitrogen you don't care about the working fluid. Both work well for the major peak load problem air conditioning since the effectively replace that use case via cooling the air using a stored refrigerant. Current refrigerants are also a good possibility I'd say freon but it not freon any more. The problem with anything not liquid nitrogen is you have to store the gas till you compress again which is why I chose liquid nitrogen since you can exhaust to the atmosphere.
New flywheel product announcement:


looks interesting.

it's a ad, ignore it.
key words here
Should the prototypes be proven
I think the mistake that's commonly made here is to assume that we'll just find a drop-in replacement for all the energy we're wasting now.

As opposed to conserving, and living conservatively. Which USians will refuse to do ... we are so so screwed.

That link I dropped below on "oil shocks" actually leads to a piece on the Energy Security Leadership Council.  The CEO of FedEx, and a retired commandant of the Marine Corps ... they seem to be pushing conserving, and living conservatively.
Many TODers might also like the bald statement, from those establishment types, that "Pure market economics will never solve this problem."
Hello DIYer,

This would not be a drop-in replacement for anything we have now, but might be a possibly reliable way to make intermittent gobs of power at scheduled times with power grid load matching.  I have read articles that say that all the good damsites to build water-powered electricity are already taken, and some dams should be removed to restore riverine habitat downstream to help protect aquatic species.  My thinking is that due to the compact design of a 'steelie generation facility' out in the Southwest's deserts that it might inflict less environmental damage than any present day hydro-source.  But I could be wrong.

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

Yes, I understand that you were suggesting a storage solution for intermittent renewable sources. And we were deconstructing it.

In your case, it might make sense to move your house mostly underground, and to have thick masonry walls for the aboveground part. Since you Sonorans insist on irrigation, irrigate the roof. Grow shade plants on it. And there you've conserved about 4-6 kW of electricity. You could run a smallish ground-heatsink refrigeration unit for lower humidity in your living space.

Not that it wouldn't be a thrill to see millions of BBs rolling down the sluice, but most of us view that as really very impractical.

Hello DIYer,

About a month ago, I posted my idea of building a small house in a bought-used, then mostly-buried culvert, so we are thinking much alike in this regard.  But sadly, I don't have the funds, real estate, nor time to do this yet.  I think alot of TODers are in the same predicament too.  It is very difficult to try and move ahead when it seems we are constantly moving backwards.

I am very happy for Todd and the others that are re-pioneering the future.  I really hope they succeed and can pass their skills and knowledge to the next generation.

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

Yeah, I hear you on the money thing. I'm trying to figure out how to put together enough money to buy some land, since I think future survival will hinge on land ownership. Though as Airdale and Wharf Rat have mentioned, the land is just the beginning. There's lotsa stuff that is nice to have on the land, such as a garden. A source of water. Knowledge to deal with bugs & pests in said garden. Ability to defend said land from gangs of hungry zomboids from the city. Etc.

I never really thought my mchouse in the mcburbs had much of a future, having been 'into' this stuff since the last crisis in the '70s. But after reading TOD for a while, I realize it's a lot worse than I thought. This ol' mchouse probably isn't going to be worth living in by 2015 or so. Not that it was poorly built (it was; OSB anyone?) — but by then I think our lifestyle will have collapsed sufficiently that we won't have reliable utilities nor city services.

One possibility is building a small log house. You find some wooded acreage with some nice popular trees on it. They grow very straight and no lower limbs. They make excellent logs for laying up a house. You want some rocks to build a 3 ft or so above ground foundation and start laying logs on that.

While chainsaws are still doable its not that hard to create something rather on a small scale.

Lay up a stick and mud chimney or flueblocks.

I know a guy in North Carolina who went to the woods nearby and did just exactly what I am speaking of. It turned out very very nice and his huge fireplace gave him a method of heating and cooking at the same time.

While there is time is when to start on it. When resources are available. Read Thoreau. He did it and loved it.

He makes the economics look very promising as well.

Funny he was talking about the unnecessary extravagances of life even back in the mid 1880s.

Central Texas ranch land is running $1500 - $3000 an acre. And I figure to need more than one acre; it's not wooded like NC, so the log house is out. The trees are stunted and twisty. But it has plenty of stones.
isn't it obvious? make a stone/earth house. or at the very least drag a large buss or something similar in size.
Also, you want to avoid building your earth-house in a dry wash. I've lived in Texas about a quarter century now, and have some respect for a low water crossing. And they're bound to be worse in the desert.

WRT your ball bearing lakes idea:

Just thinking about the "power house" i.e. the point at which the bearings turn the "turbine":

This is just intuitive guess on my part, but I think it would actually be quite difficult to design a geometry that would both not have the balls jam the impeller, and also not have the balls clog in the intake chute, while at the same time transmitting a siginificant amount of back pressure from the resevoir.

I would expect that you would see a void develop upsteam of the powerhouse with a surface that looked like a cantinary curve rotated in the third dimension i.e. sort of an eliptical contic section extending from the powerhouse entry to the sides of the intake sluceway {Sure wish there was an easy way to stuff a napkin and a felt tip through this software :) }

There would of course be a huge embedded energy in producing the balls to fill the resevoir. If one of the main drawbacks that you see to using water is evaporative loss in arid regions I think it would be cheaper to cover the resevoir surface with loating rafts to reduce this... Why not install PV panels on the rafts while your at it?

(sp) thats "floating" rafts not "loating" rafts
Hello John Milton,

Thxs for your reply, but I think I need the 'napkin sketch' to really visualize what your text is describing.  I don't claim to have a perfect design: I am hoping that some geniuses here on TOD will see dramatic ways to improve my brainstorm to where it can be a positive, but intermittent postPeak energy storage solution.

It all started in my mind when I pictured billions of postPeak vehicles and the zillions of tons of steel in abandoned skyscrapers--I was trying to think of some way to put this steel to use instead of it just rusting away virtually everywhere.  Maybe someone has a better idea.

If we ultimately live in a true biosolar fashion, then our culture will radically change to a profound concern for all species' viability; the web of Life.  Damned rivers may be seen as un-natural in this context.  If we can invent a sustainable way to generate electricity without the requirement of huge concrete dams blocking water--then it will be much more acceptable to never replace these dams when earthquakes [or nuclear bombs?] crumble them.

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

O.K . If we reduce the problem to 2 dimensions a bunch of equal sized circles will pack in the ideal case with thier center points on a hexagonal grid. If we assume gravity in this flat land is pulling them towards the bottom of the page of hex graph paper then if you draw the force vectors acting on each circle at the points of contact there are ones with lateral, as well as vertical components. So, if the sides of the page narrow from top to bottom, as the inlet to your power house would, you will see that the circles tend to wedge themselves into the opening, with some falling away at the bottom to form a natural arch shaped void.

Hope this is more clear...

I suppose one or a huge group could pull it off...provided
the oil crisis was a 'very very' soft landing.

If a hard landing then seems to me to be pretty impossible.

Taum Sauk is a water reserviour in mid Missouri owned and built by Union Electric. They use/d excess generated power to pump the water to the top of a hollowed out mountain(actually large hill) and then released the water to drive turbines as needed later.

Well last year it broke out of its holdings and did a darn heck of a flooding job on small towns located in its flood path. Roaring walls of water scared the shit out of many who were just out moseying around the town. Flattened a lot of real estate.

Never did hear about the the eventual outcome.

I wouldn't want to be in the path  of zillions of speeding ball bearings. Water I could handle.

Water seems like it would be easier to engineer something like this with. Steel seems a bit harder. Lots of water towers still in use. Methods of pumping the water still exist. Obtaing the power to do so after an infrastructure crash might be a problem.

How about a windmill that hoists and stores water then you drive the small electric turbine when you release the water. Such windmills are still being built and used out west, I believe.

In fact a few of my neighbors have put some up just to decorate their farms with. Low tech stuff. Available ,and you get free running water to boot. Nice to have indoor plumbing in your 'Thoreau' shack out in the hinterlands. Always a bitch toting water uphill from the local spring.

Hello Airdale,

Yep, preventing Zillions of runaway steelies would be a primary safety concern, but I would imagine that due to their small size that once they encountered softer ground--they would be rapidly immobilized in the dirt as they would tend to build their own berm.  But I could be wrong.

If the harvesting of electricity from magnetic flux and frictional static forces is much greater than the electric harvest from the kinetic force-- the ERoEI and economics dramatically change.  TODer Tom DePlume's idea of using a railroad is a good idea, but it merely harvests kinetic potential from the RR cars rolling back downhill-- my idea would harvest all possible electric generation methods.  The suspended coils over the sluicepath and the in-stream rails to collect static juice would be very compact in my idea versus trying to extend this tech to the entire RR length of Tom's brainstorm.  Hopefully MIT or CalTech will determine if either idea is postPeak viable.

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

Compared to water, steel rusts, doesn't flow as easily, and you don't get Nature to lift some for you for free.

The steel would see much better use in tubular towers for wind turbines.

In addition to the wind turbines (a very good use), we'll need that steel for railroad track and rolling stock. For the mid-life doomer: bicycles; for the hard-core doomer: guns and combat knives.

The tires can replace asphalt shingles or make irrigation systems. The bronze age, post paleo doomers can make siege engines (catapults).  

I think we'll have lots of use for those cars.      

For the old doomer an environmentally correct burial in the compost heap?
I think throwing away your body is a waste. Mine is going to be cut up by medical students; special attention will be given to my exceptional brain;-)

Also, think of the huge amounts my estate saves by diddling the morticians out of every single dollar, and a dollar saved is one more for The Nature Conservancy.

(BTW, my kids know they will get not one dollar when I die. Thus they want to keep me alive and healthy and generous as long as possible.)

Hello Engineer Poet,

I don't have the expertise to evaluate engineering wise if Wind Towers maybe a better use for all this steel, but possibly my steelies/ton will generate more temporary surge energy than your towers/ton of steel will.  Perhaps, towers for energy base-loading, combined with steelies for intermittent energy runs of heavy industrial processes like smeltering a load of metals.

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

Probably, but do you want to devote that much in the way of resources just to cater to some badly-behaved loads?
Hello Engineer Poet,

I really don't know if my steelie idea is plausible or not.  But if it is, it might help prevent/delay the return to Dr. Duncan's Olduvai Gorge by decades.  Obviously, the best starting point would be by computer model simulation, then building a small pilot plant to test and further refine the efficiency and durability attained. Of course, this would just be another piece of the postPeak infrastructure: wind towers, PV, tidal generators, geo-thermal plants, etc, etc,--all would be needed if we can find a way to prevent human violence from Overshoot.

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

There are certainly better things to do with the steel.
  1. Build solar collectors and the static parts of wind turbines, to make energy instead of just storing it.
  2. Build Löfstrom loops to both transmit energy from place to place and store it as kinetic energy.
  3. Roll into sheet again to make skins for vacuum-insulated sandwich panels (ultra-insulation for anything which needs it).
If all you need is to move mass from a low place to a high place and back, steel is way too scarce and expensive to be worthwhile.
Well, here are some numbers.

Let's say you wanted to store the energy from a GW source over a 24 hour period. That equals roughly 10^14 joules.

Second, assume you were to raise your ball bearings 1000 meters up. To store that much energy, you would need 10^10 kg of mass, or about 6.6 million cars. And about 10^12 ball bearings about a cm in size.

Of course, you would lose a lot of energy to rolling resistance, friction between the balls, etc. Plus, you generate heat moving them up. And then you have to melt down the cars first. Perhaps you could have TODers, who have nothing better to do, carry them uphill.

Better ways of using gravity employ water, pumping water uphill into a reservoir rather than having the sun lift it for you. Alternately, you can pressurize an underground reservoir with air. None of the mass transfer approaches are really that efficient, though. On-site hydrogen generation might be better.

Actually, we may have hit upon a solution.

Let's melt down ALL EXISTING cars into ball bearings. This would go a long way towards delaying peak oil.

Now that...is demand destruction.
Hello Substrate,

The ultimate demand destruction would occur at that postPeak time when there is so little chemical energy left that we would finally resort to using all those ZILLIONS of steelies in hand-to-hand SLINGSHOT COMBAT to the death!

That should be the preferred choice, instead of the full-on gift exchange of ICBMs.

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

At first blush, this seems a version of a perpetual motion machine. Since one has to expend energy to get "uphill" to allow the mass to be "potential energy."  The first law thermodynamics, conservation of energy would dictate this.  

It's the second law that gets you that will require more energy, to create the potential, than you will generate through whatever process.  It's the entropy and the entropic rate that present a problem in nearly all scenarios.  Using low entropic processes (biomass for example) to replace high entropic processes (burning of fossil fuels) will get you everytime.  

Of course, but we are talking energy storage schemes here, not energy generation. It's a given that all will yield less energy in than you get out. The challenge is to find the one that minizes the losses.
Well, I said that backwards. It's a given that you will get back less energy than you put in.
Hello Joules Burn,

Thxs for responding, along with my Thxs to all the other TODers.

The motive energy losses of moving all these steelies back uphill for the next flow back down would be considerable, that I freely admit.  But don't forget from my original post all the different ways to get additional electricity: static, magnetic, thermal updraft, lightning strike storage, and any other possibilities I haven't foreseen.  Taken in totality--perhaps a slightly positive ERoEI?

A hydroplant makes electricity from converting kinetic energy only-- can a steelie facility convert kinetic energy PLUS all the other methods outlined?

I think this would be an interesting research project for MIT, CalTech, Sandia Labs, Livermore Labs, etc.  Perhaps an X-Prize reward to build a small pilot plant to determine feasibility and scaleability?  Vinod Khosla--are you reading this?

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

The unanswered question in your idea is the energy needed to melt the steel and creating the ball bearings. Pumped hydro and compressed air may have their weaknesses but no energy needs to go into their creation.
Consider this modification to your plan. Simply crush the cars into cubes and load them onto railroad cars. Use dedicated electrified railways to pull them up a long upgrade when power is available then let gravity pull them back down when power is needed using the loco's traction motors as generators. The Great Plains are nearly a mile higher in Colorado and Wyoming than they are in Texas or Minnesota. A similar rise exists across Arizona between Yuma and the 4 Corners.
That's a damn good adaptation of this - one that I think we might even be able to make realistic thermal efficiency, power, energy capacity, etc figures for.

Anyone knowledgeable enough about electric trains to make some for us?

I suspect that downsides involve construction/electrification costs, scale, + failure modes.  I wonder what efficiency is like.

That is standard practice in europe, because nearly all modern locomotives employ recuperative brakes. If I am not mistaken you can recover about  30% of the energy needed to lift and/or to accelerate the train mass. And that is certainly a lot worse than pumping water uphill into a reservoir at nighttime with cheap baseload.
Hello Tom Deplume,

Thxs for responding--that is a TERRIFIC idea, maybe better than my steelie facility.  I would make sure you discuss this with AlanfromBigEasy--I bet he has alot of suggestions and data to help research this brainstorm of yours.  Good Job, I hope you can patent this idea!

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

Re: Lightning idea - there's just too much energy, for too short a period of time.  Even if you did successfully manage to attract frequent strikes, you'd arc weld a small portion of the steelies, and then bleed most of it off as heated air + photons very quickly.

High-temp superconductors are quite interesting in conjunction with lightning - as they can retain charge linearly with length, and handle the currents involved at a relatively small point.


We've had hundred of years of perfecting water pumps + generators.

And it's led to a very similar solution - Pumped Storage.  1 dam (for cost effectiveness, usually mostly natural dam), 2 bodies of water, one on top and one on the bottom.  Pump the water up with electric motors in the daytime, act as a hydroelectric dam in the nighttime.  We get something like 70-80% of the energy back - which is fantastic in thermodynamic terms.  More importantly, it's capable of storing vast amounts of energy for long periods of time practically - batteries, flywheels, and other forms of energy storage that can store a major powerplant's output for hours should be more expensive than the powerplant.

Raccoon Mountain, run by the Tennessee Valley Authority, is the largest US pumped storage plant, and has 32 gigawatt-hours of capacity on 1600 megawatts of potential power.

You are right in that these(and conventional dams that just switch off frequently) are going to be a lot more important if our power is highly variable from solar/wind.  Right now our transient demand does shift from day to night, but not by that much.

Evaporation is apparently a minor problem in current pumped hydro dams - but I'd imagine it's one that we can fix rather easily without constructing a giant cover - just dump a few tons of white styrofoam onto the surface.  Or hell, if you keep the reservoirs above a certain level, grow algal biodiesel in it.

When you solve the evaporation problem, pumped hydro is also not too difficult to make environmentally sound in terms of watershed variability - simply install a floodgate at a river where it attaches to your closed bottom reservoir, and only open it to draw a small portion of the flow(or add a small portion in flood conditions) after the initial fillup.


On a related topic, the vast amounts of coal we're gonna be digging up are often scalped from mountaintops, which are then dumped into the valleys as fill - IMO a well-guided energy strategy should consider where pumped storage hydro can be used, and if we're gonna destroy the landscapes anyway, build reservoirs with the fill.

Hello Squalish,

Thxs for the reply.  Yep, the utility company here in AZ does the same pumpback process with some of the lakes along the Salt River.

I remember a TV documentary a few years back where scientists in Florida were shooting up a small rocket trailing a copper wire to attract lightning.  Unfortunately, I cannot recall their findings, but hopefully they come up with some kind of breakthrough to attract, then harvest lightning--that would be really cool.

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

Evaporation is apparently a minor problem in current pumped hydro dams - but I'd imagine it's one that we can fix rather easily without constructing a giant cover - just dump a few tons of white styrofoam onto the surface.  Or hell, if you keep the reservoirs above a certain level, grow algal biodiesel in it.

Actually, there is already a product like this...big(approx. one foot)polypropylene/polyethelene hollow spheres.  They float in multitudes(least square packing) on some cyanide leach ponds to keep migratory fowl from landing(and subsequently dying; thereby causing hugh paperwork burdens to overworked mine staff).  These spheres also considerably reduce evaporative losses and sunlight degradation of the cyanide.

In the first poster's tradition of crazy brainstorming - turning a good portion of the mid-ocean into a styrofoam wasteland is a relatively easy way of directly changing the earth's insolation, in a case of runaway global warming.
We'll run out of oil to make the plastic first. But that doesn't mean we haven't already tried:

Albatross fly hundreds of miles in their search for food for their young. Their flight paths from Midway often take them over what is perhaps the world's largest dump: a slowly rotating mass of trash-laden water about twice the size of Texas.

This is known as the Eastern Garbage Patch, part of a system of currents called the North Pacific subtropical gyre. Located halfway between San Francisco and Hawaii, the garbage patch is an area of slack winds and sluggish currents where flotsam collects from around the Pacific, much like foam piling up in the calm center of a hot tub.

Curtis Ebbesmeyer has been studying the clockwise swirl of plastic debris so long, he talks about it as if he were tracking a beast.

"It moves around like a big animal without a leash," said Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer in Seattle and leading expert on currents and marine debris. "When it gets close to an island, the garbage patch barfs, and you get a beach covered with this confetti of plastic."

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-82alteredoceans4,0,2642595.story?coll=sfla-h ome-headlines
We can produce plastic from GM plants.
so will you choose to starve so you can have land to plant them?
who will be slaves to help you grow the plants in such a large scale to allow them to be used as feedstock for this more complex way of making plastic?
no, I would not CHOOSE to starv, as if it needs to be said. If it was THAT impossible we have more ways to make plastic. CTL would be one.

I believe the hard part is the designing of the GM plants by the scientists. If think if you think about it for more than 3 seconds you will understand that the current method of making plastic (ie drilling a well 1,000's of feet for oil, shipping it across the world to some factory, etc, etc,...) is A LOT more complicated than growing GM plants, which can be done locally. It would also likely be cheaper.

As for the slaves, how did your brain come up with that one. You think we wouldn't pay farmers to produce it. We pay people now to produce plastic for oil. Why would this change with a new methodology. It might prove to be great new industry with new potential for employment for people.


why Steelies ?

why not Slinkies ?

Hello wwSwimming,

Thxs for responding.  I assume you are being humorous with the slinky idea.  What I like about my steelie idea is that besides the benefits of Petawatt energy storage, I think more electricity might be generated by static and magnetic flux forces than by the kinetic forces.  I think this possibility was overlooked by most TODer replies-- now in hindsight, I should have stessed this point more in my initial posting.  Of course, I could be wrong: that is why I would like MIT, Caltech, etc to evaluate this idea.  At a minimum: it would be a good doctoral candidate research effort to prove or disprove its postPeak viability.

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

Hi Bob,

Have you considered using all the asphalt down there as the basis for a solar oven that would heat a liquid that would then be pressurized and fed into a turbine and then recycling the liquid for another round? I know about the salt tower experiment.

Not to belittle the amount of thinking and effort that went into your idea, wouldn't it be better to use what assets are available in your region to generate electricity while buliding underground housing?

Hello Karlof1,

Thxs for responding.  IF we could get started Now, we could use heavy equipment to bust up and move all this reinforced concrete and asphalt.  In a postPeak world--it will be extremely difficult to find sufficient volunteers willing to do this by strictly manual labor in the blazing AZ sun.  My guess is they would rather 'shoot and loot' than participate in long term mitigation.  Such is life.

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

The first step in engineering is to realise that there is no perpetual motion machine. At the minimum it'll wear out like your legs from walking too fast. For those people without a college degree in engineering, a good thing to do is move to a place with frequent nuisance blackouts, the kind that go for an hour or two. Then, design a computer UPS system to match. You quickly learn about energy consumption! That's a great way to get the hands-on expierence of energy use. Once you do a "dive" in your apartment on battery power, you learn real damn fast. It gets like living in an old fashioned submarine.

I suppose a "dive" would be a good time to watch Das Boat. Those plasma TVs use up a lot of power but the LCD TVs use a lot less. That's why I like an LCD monitor and those compact fluorescent lights. At one time I coded up the "UPSer .FAQ" file, still found with Google. If you're a homeowner, you can use a generator, but apartment dwellers must settle for a UPS (or similar) or go without in the coming days of routine rolling blackouts. Got batteries? A_A_A_RE Y_O_U_U R_E_A_D_Y?????? (about the best I can put into text Jonathan Davis of Korn fame)

I think an idea like that would run into tremendous engineering difficulties.   Ball bearings in violent
movement?  You'd have to deal with tremendous entropy dissipation problem.  I'd much try to engineer fluids and attempt to make

There is another at least theoretical alternative: enormous
homopolar generators which store energy in the angular momentum of a very heavy steel & concrete rotor.

I don't know if these are really feasible on a cost basis for utility level load leveling, but I think the efficiency could be high.  You can dump tremendous electrical energy into them and get enormous currents.

They've been used for power "shots" for nuclear fusion research reactors, where trying to take that power from the grid would black out a whole state.

I found this in my rss feeds from the "Clean Break" blog, which is having an access problem right now.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp.'s Net Zero Energy Healthy Housing pilot demonstration project is moving forward and reception has been overwhelmingly positive. After the program was launched on May 15 information packages were sent to 636 companies or groups interested in participating (201 from Ontario), sources say. By July 10 there were 72 formal expressions of interests. "This level of response was even beyond our wildest expectations for the project and is requiring some extra time in the processing of proposals," according to a CMHC e-mail forwarded to me by a Clean Break reader. It indicates, the e-mail said, "a very positive reception and interest expressed by the Canadian housing industry..."
I just love Canada...seriously consdering moving there someday.
Canada has a lot to be said for it.  But, despite the hype, we are not very progressive on energy issues.  Our emissions are about the same as the US on a per capita basis but growing faster than the US.  (This on top of the fact that most of our electricity is either hydro-generated or nuclear).

UN reports that from 1990 - 2003, CO2 emmission grew by 24% compared to 13.3% in the US for the same period.  During this time, emissions in the EU shrank by 1.5%.

Source: Globe and Mail, November 28 2005 "Canada's greenhouse-gas emissions increase"

A quotation from the article:

One surprise in the figures is that Canada's emission record is far worse than even the United States, where the Bush administration has refused to ratify Kyoto
In fact, the EU number hides a lot.

All figures compare the reference year 1990 to 2003.

Spain was at +42%, Portugal +37%, Greece and Ireland both +26%, Finland +22%, Austria +17%.

All these countries will fail their Kyoto commitments.

The US were at +17%.

Germany is at -20%, but a great part of that is thanks to the break down of East Germany industry.

The UK is at -17%, Sweden -2%.

One problem is that all these numbers are impossible to "climate normalize."  FWIW, I think the warmer US should be lower per capita in energy consumption than colder canada.

(maybe a state to province comparison with similar climates is possible)

Indeed, Kyoto is a failure. We won't stop GW, all we can still do is keep it at a level where it won't do too much damage.
But with 200 million additional cars only in China until 2020, I am not optimistic, unless a technical breakthrough, such as fuel cells (DaimlerChrysler now say they will have a commercial car at 2012) or in battery technology (maybe that Europositron aluminium battery) saves our asses.

PO might do that job as well.

Emphasizing per capita measures is, I think, far from perfect. The authorities in Ontario plan to raise the population by 30% via immigration over the next 25 years.

Ontario Government population projections

All these newcomers will emit much more CO2/year in their new country than they did in their nation of origin.

Between the massive amount of natural gas used to exploit the tar sands and the planned population expansion, Kyoto is *so* dead in Canada. A waste of ink.

That said, there have been some highly aggressive measures taken of late to contain urban sprawl. Around Greater Toronto there is now an official "Green Belt" in which it is basically illegal to build new homes. As you can imagine, developers are fighting it in the courts.

Wikipedia on Ontario's Greenbelts

A hefty chunk of those new emissions are the N. Gas we are burning at the Tar Sands, and it's going to get lots worse!
Corn advocates host alternative energy summit

Interestingly, the discussion is about corn stoves for heating ... people must see winter on the horizon:

"Corn stoves, furnaces and boilers can be used to heat a single room, an entire house, an outdoor building or even an entire school or factory," Shirley Braman said.

The Bramans are sure corn will be the fuel of the future and are marketing a new industrial corn-burning furnace manufactured by Cayenne Technology of Mankato, Minn.

Corn heating units have become efficient to the point they can be used to heat commercial facilities ranging from 6,500 to 50,000 square feet, according to Cayenne president John Akemann.


Thanks for giving us food for thought.

Here's a comparative heating fuel price calculator which may be of interest to you:


(wood pellets v. corn v. cord wood v. fuel oil v. LP/propane v. natural gas).

According to this website, at this writing corn is in fact the cheapest (at least in the US), though cord wood costs just a few cents more per Mil/BTU.

I wonder what the snag is. If we're so smart, why aren't more new homebuilders opting for corn burning stoves?

Rodent access problems?  Ash residue removal? Extra transport costs in urban areas? Cleaning chores? Daily hassle in topping up the fuel hopper? Bourgeois feelings of guilt about burning food while millions starve in Africa?

To what extent is corn production subsidized as compared with other fuels?

How much topsoil depletion is associated with its cultivation (as compared with forestry, say)?

What's the long-term outlook for corn prices as compared with those of alternative fossil or non-fossil fuels?

I heated with corn last winter and it was great.

The biggest downfalls that I can see are:

    A. Depending on the hopper size, somebody has to be home to refill the stove with corn.  Ours lasts about 10 hours on cold days.

    B. You must live in an area that grows corn.  I pick up my corn from my local grain elevator.  The corn is grown within 5 miles of my house.  I pick up corn once every two weeks (1200 pounds) and store it in large plastic containers.  But, you must be willing to do the work to pick it up and keep refilling the hopper.  You can't just turn up the thermostat and enjoy heat.  You have to work a little for it.  But, that is not bad, in my opinion.  You appreciate the heat more.

By the way, the corn costs about 50% less than natural gas.  

This is another example of local vs global scale solutions. As fossil fuels become more scarce - the transportation costs deleivering corn beyond 10-20 miles may eat up the energy gain. But for local corn-rich areas, looks to make sense
I was under the impression that government subsidies are responsible for corn prices so low that food can be burned for heat.
Government subsidies are designed to raise the price of corn and other agricultural products. They frequently do this by converting starches and sugars into alcohols.
Re. heating with corn.

Corn right now on CBOT is approx $2.4x for Dec.
Thats per bushel...and shelled.

I last paid(a month ago) $1.65 per gal for propane for my tank. Took 200 lbs delivery in my 500 personally owned tank($.10 off usual price for rented tank delivery).

How much btu in one gal of propane vs one bushel of corn?

Propane is rated at 30,000 btu / gal.
Don't know about corn. I read its about 7,000 / bushel.

This is not a good trade off as I see it. 30,000 btus of corn would cost me about $10.xx or so. You might find local corn during harvest much cheaper on the spot market but most farmers I know contract most all their grain crops or store it themselves.

How do I know? During grain harvest I drive the the 18 wheelers that haul it from the fields to the grain elevators where it is contracted. I run all day(10 hrs) every day for almost 3 months hauling the crops to market.

I don't heat with propane..Just cook and heat water. I heat and cool with a nice 4 ton GeoThermal heatpump.

Electric for my 3200 sq. ft. log house last month was $129.00. Thats all but cooking and the water heater.

I think I am doing about as well as I can currently with what the prices are. This is in the midwest where global warming(apparently) is cooking us all to a nice jolly red tan, loosing insects like never before, drying up gardens, and in general making life totally miserable outdoors. Its a 1 hr. job each day picking the myriad of ticks off the dogs. They hang like clusters in the poor devils ears. If you go outside and in certain areas you will next day find your whole body covered with mysterious red bites and sores from some form of insect that has never bothered me before,,and I spend (or used to) a lot of time in the woods.

Corn is very temperature sensitive. A few days above 100 or thereabouts and you kill the pollen(at the pollen stage).  I had a decent corn crop so far but some 'mutated' with the heat.

(GOOGLE - heat temperature corn pollen kill)

If global warming does much more to the climate corn may not survive too well in the vast midwest. I had several crops already in the garden this year fail to produce. Green beans especially. I only got enough to can a dozen jars or so and I planted two different varieties in 4 rows yet only one variety in only one row made a crop and that quickly died away from the heat later on.

My buddy in Oklahoma doesn't even try to grow a home garden. The rains are mostly gone and have been for some time and they can't afford the cost of piped water. There is no wells to speak of. Gone long ago he said. His yard stays brown most of the time. He lives in the country but its not much of a life now so he works in the city and for zilch at that.
He considers himself lucky to get anything.

The main stream media are not gardeners or they might see first hand some of what is really happening 'down in the dirt'.

Corn for heat:
After any oil crash and the ensuing chaos I doubt you would find any farmer willing to sell you his stored corn at any price. Ditto propane. Ditto almost anything. Those bins of corn would turn into solid gold. Then maybe a farmer could get a little 'pay back', finally.

He might have to stand on top of his bin with a weapon to shoot off thieves though.

I know this all sounds crazy and exotic. What isn't these days? Anyway,, most farmers here and elsewhere are armed to the teeth. City folk might want to keep that in mind. They have the terrain , they have the food, the meat animals and they likely intend to not share it willingly.

Propane is rated at 30,000 btu / gal.
Don't know about corn. I read its about 7,000 / bushel.

Actually its about 7000 BTU /pound. With roughly 56 pound/bushel and at $2.4/bushel, 30000 BTU would cost ~ $0.20

Hey, thanks for the correction.
I was scanning the google outputs too fast.

Now I need to take another good look at this topic.

I already have a bit of last years corn stored. And very dry too.

Propane BTU content is 91,510 BTU per US gallon. Google it up
I have a corn burner and think its great. Burns waste wood (wood pellets) or corn. Heats my old farm house all winter. But it is a pain in the butt with hauling in fuel 2 times a day and cleaning the stove weekly. I have an enclosed porch where I store a years supply of fuel (8'x20'). Most city people like the convience and lack of ash that they get from a gas furnace and probably won't change as long as they can afford/get the gas.
I also live just outside Mankato Minnesota so picked up my 2006-2007 Mankato phone book. There is a John Akemann listed in the residential section, but there is no Cayenne Technology listed in the business section - So the Company must be a very new startup. And there are a LOT of corn/pellet stoves out there that are real duds, so I would want to check very carefully before spending a lot of money on a new startup (or any corn/pellet burning stove!) Make SURE that you get some type of money back guarentee if it doesn't work right.
I also have a modern high efficency wood stove that is next to unbelievable. Burns very cleanly, no smoke and it doesn't even hardly soot up the glass window in the feed door. Technology in how we burn wood has made a BIG improvement.
Could you share the name of that efficient wood heater?
I am in the market for one for my barn/living quarters I am adding on.
Are We Ready for the Next Oil Shock?

Could a mere 4 percent shortfall in daily oil supply propel the price of a barrel to more than $120 in a matter of days? That's what some oil market experts are saying, and if they're correct, we face the very real possibility of an oil shock wave that could send our economy reeling. Such a rapid rise in fuel costs would have profound effects that could severely threaten the foundation of America's economic prosperity.
Hello TODers,

Insanity in the Asphalt Wonderland?  Ariz. driver gets 70 speeding tickets in 5 months.

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

Amazing.  Somebody like that should be banned for life.
Seems she's a mortgage broker and didn't think she had to pay her tickets.

Makes you wonder how many of her clients will be foreclosed upon in the near future.

A newcomer I am to The Oil Drum. An old timer I am to such events as Y2K and survivalism.

So I ask this question:

Is anyone HERE really ready?

I am speaking of that area of the USA you have picked to take up your earthly survival. The area that contains an aquifer such that potable water springs are still located. An area that is sufficiently removed from metropolitian areas to afford you the abilty to live off the land, harvest venison, till the soil and do so without a constant battle with those who would take what you have.

How many already have learned how to skin and dress a deer? Tan the hides for clothing? Discovered the way to preserve food for the winter? Brought all those FoxFire books that show how the oldtimers did it? Have that Army Survival Manual and that old Boy Scout compass and USGS topo maps of your intended area?

Who have gone to a selected site/area and cached away necessary firearms,bullets, knives and other needed items?

Who have purchased a two-man crosscut saw and a few double-bit axes in order to cut wood to warm the body during winter?
Have a large supply of gallon size plastic baggies to contain and keep their much needed foraged edibles?

A million questions could be asked such as above.

The only burning question is Who here who predicts doom and chaos have actually prepared for it?

I read some very informed topics here on the inevitable decline of our culture and possible chaos on a massive scale. That being the case,,how much time remains to prepare and how many, if any , are taking the steps already?

Who has their 'getaway bag' already packed? Their dirt bike ready to go with a Ruger Mini-30 and some 30 round clips hanging on its handlebars in order to make that trip to that supposed survival site?

OR...how many will just hide out in the basement or the office building where they work?

Yeah...how many?

Talk is cheap, fun perhaps but what about REALITY? And SURVIVAL?

I am ready. Are YOU?

Go see a shrink.
I'm sure you have some handy to recommend then.

Get out more!! Check the vehicular traffic in your part of the world. Tell me what you see?

I live in the rural outback and never see a traffic sign. I am just guessing that oil derived products play a big role in YOUR world.

And the name of your shrink that you are going to recommend to me IS?

I am not a doomer. Nor do I think my house will burn down, but I have plenty of fire insurance.

My concerns with suvivalism go back to 1957, when I assembled a pilot's survival kit (which I wanted anyway for flying), a Mossberg .22 semiautomatic rife and 500 rounds of high velocity ammo, and a single-cylinder simple two-stroke motorcycle that I knew how to fix and understood well. My library at that time included several U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps manuals, books on hunting, fishing, and trapping, "Five Acres and Independence," by Kains, and a number of U.S. Geological Survey maps.

One can never be fully ready for the future, because nobody knows what it holds. My philosophy of life is to pretend that there is a fifty percent chance of business as normal for the next fifty years, and a fifty percent chance of TEOTWAWKI within five years--and to be ready for anything in between as well as for either extreme.

In my opinion, the most important things to do are to tend to one's own mental and physical health while building up networks of friends, family, and neighbors. Also, the aquisition of skills, from brewing to cooking to archery is both fun and useful.

Now that I'm retired, my motto is: If it isn't fun, why do it?

I guy worked with used to read passages(*) from "Five Acres and Independence" as we worked 7 days a week writing computer software ;-).  It was good escapism, but had lots of good practical advice (IIRC, how to get rid of visitors from the city).

* - as we waited for EPROMs to burn and systems to boot ... slower days.

Is anyone HERE really ready?

I am not, but I stayed with a guy last weekend who is 90% ready. I saw what it will take to become ready. I enjoyed my visit, but many people would only succumb to life like that by kicking and screaming all the way in. On top of that, I just don't think there is enough land for everyone to live sustainably. Our best hope is for prices to continue sky-ward, which will hopefully start to take a bite out of demand and begin the shift toward more sustainable living.

I second RR's hope. We have a diesel Jetta wagon which gets 54mpg (45 on cold winter days), a 2.3 kw grid tied solar pv system, a solar hot water heater which heats our hot water to 145 degrees, compact fluorescent lights, a wood stove, a beautiful kitchen garden and a few chickens among other things. It isn't survival mode but we are relying a lot less on fossil fuels than the average American. We have also not renewed our passports and will probably never fly again. If everyone gave some thought to lowering their use of energy our society could get by on half of what we use now I believe. Most people won't change behavior until prices force them to. But there is plennty of room for improvement.
 Consider renewing your passports and friendships with foreign acquantances. It may be handy to have a backup country :)

No, I'm not ready in the sense you describe, and here's why: Some of us are here are not so concerned with personal preservation so much as finding solutions that will allow all of us to survive in relative comfort. Some of us want civilization of some form to work out, for humanity to thrive and not dash itself on the rocks of it's own shortsightedness. So we talk about solutions and alternatives to avoid, or at least minimize the chaos caused by things like Peak Oil, and not so much about techniques for survival of the fittest after the crash.

So no, I'm not ready, I don't have a dirt bike or Mini-30, because frankly I am living my life, thinking and working to avoid requiring them to survive, and it strikes me that anyone who is spending their time on such matters is an egoist of the highest order.

searches for his mod points
realizes he left them on the wrong website
Silly Slashdotter... ;-)
Altruism versus Survival:

I was in a tavern in the middle of a large city drinking with some programmers from one of my IBM accts. It was in the early '70s. Unbeknowst to me that afternoon it was announced that there was going to be a gasoline shortage and supplies might get very tight.

I walked out of the tavern about 10:00 PM and went to the interstate and drove right into total chaos. It took me 4 hours to drive the 12 miles to my suburban home. Getting there destroyed my VM beetle such that the front end was almost unsteerable. I tried to get some gas but found that there were lines of cars backed up forever(10 at night) and they were simply stealing the gas out of the pumps and driving off.

There were fights and the owner was not in a mood to ask for payment either. It was a scene I have remembered all my life.

How seemingly normal people can turn into brutes over such an incident. That so called 'gas crisis' lasted all that summer and it was not something to remember fondly if you were out traveling across the USA.

IMHO you had better be prepared to protect what you have and with firepower or else give it up willingly.

I lived in the 'burbs for many years. Most don't even know their next door neighbor or the ones down the street and who might even be storing body parts in the freezer downstairs.

For my survival I would trust no one except possibly close relatives or someone I have known for many years. That is just not possible IMO in suburbia or the cities.

It will be dog-eat-dog and the devil will take the hindmost
when push comes to shove.

Myself. I fail to see very few redeeming factors in our society that will enable us to cooperate in any meaningful degree.

I have three friends who own a lot of land. They own a lot of firearms. They know how to hunt and how to survive. I will throw my lot in with theirs and we might have a good chance. I would hope it does not come to this but from all I read smart money is on it coming to pass.

Government? There will be no government. They can't even stop spam!!!
Law enforcement? It will be the weapon in your hand.
Food? It will be what you can kill or grow yourself.
Energy? The wood you chop yourself.
Communications? The stone you chisel a message on and pass around the campfire.

Someone convince me that some 'free energy buff' has a workable device. Like: BlacklightPower.COM or MagneticPowerInc.COM

I really really wanta believe them but......

even though with your touch of paranoia you do have a valid point.
one of the many things i disagree with allot of people here is how they have been using the Katrina disaster as a example of how it will go down. the majority of people there were nice to each other and did not go back to fighting like cats in a sack simply because they all knew that the crisis would end in a short amount of time. even though they probably knew recovery would not. in such a case Altruism is a advantage because later you can try to get the people you were nice to too return the favor thus putting you in a higher social position. in what we might be going through Altruism might just be a very bad thing to show while the die-off part of the crises rears it's ugly head. it will advertise that you might have a abundance of what people want and that will make you a target for those who are willing to steal an kill to get by.
the best analogy i can find is it's like medical triage, you can't help everyone. trying to will only make the situation worse for everyone, best to limit your efforts to those who you know you can trust.

as per your earlier question as to who is ready? no one is, not even you. you can read all the books you want, learn everything in your area that is edible, have the firepower of a local police station but in the end it won't help in the way you want it to. i forget who said it but it came from a famous military commander "no battle plan lasts past the first engagement"
if you look at the situation as it is now money is the key to appear to be ready for what may come, this though will change once things start happening.

We had a few drivers take a couple tanker loads down with fuel last year. The word was given to protect it with your own firearms if need be. The gloves were off.

While there one took a tour with a military gent. They saw gators feeding on dead bodies. Water moccassins everywhere.
It was chaotic.

Hello Airdale,

Goodpoints!  I figure I am toast postpeak.  Consider this link on Sri Lanka, people are dying for water and are waging war over control of a mere sluicegate.

Arizona, especially the Asphalt Wonderland, will be in a very bad Overshoot condition postPeak.  The Sri Lankan battles for water will be nothing compared to what will happen here.

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

You remind me of the people who think that Earth's magnetic field reversal is something like a lightning strike, instead of a process taking hundreds of years.
May I come live on your farm? I won't take up much space, really .. .. .. and bring a few relatives?
"A newcomer I am, an oldtimer I am..."

"Gallon size plastic baggies?"  Check.

Cross cut saws need filing - sustainable? Where are you going to buy files long term?
Platic bags/  ?
Sounds like you are still depending on society to me- just less than others which is good don't get me wrong but you are not independant.
So I go to Sam's Club and buy 3,000 boxed up packages gallon size zip lock bags. I can keep gunpower in them,dried fruit, deer jerky, salt and other essentials.

Files? Ditto and they go in the baggies and in the cache site as well.

My grandfathers lived with an ax in their hands. They didn't have much else to work with. Mules and wood and horse drawn implements.

My grandfather had 14 children and raised them and me on a 100 acre farm he sharecropped. My grandfather owed no one money.
Todays farmer with 3,000 acres finds it hard to raise one child and provide for him. Something is definitely wrong here. Todays farmer is in hock to the tune of hundreds of thousands. One combine can cost $250,000.00

BTW if I were serious about survival I would try to find a good substitute for animal power.

Red Poll cattle are still around and were used both for power(ox yokes), for milking and for slaughter. A very good all around breed of cattle. You can't milk mules and who wants to eat mule meat.

I have my 8 ft. crosscut hanging on my wall. My chain saws will be useless.

I assume that you have a saw set, spider gauge, raker setting gauge, and a jointer as well.  Good jointer/raker setting gauges combo's are available at auctions and antique shops.  Get a copy of the US dept of ag crosscut saw manual- best piece ever written- if you don't have one already.  Ahh don't forget the kerosene to de-gum(pitch) your saw if you cut conifers- moonshine will work too.


I have a lot of saw tools. I owned and ran an Outdoor Power Equipment business(inherited from my fathers) for some years. People finally quit cutting wood and I hated working on lawymowers so I sold it.

I kept a lot of the tools ,some chains saws plus cartons of mix oil and bar oil.

When I built my loghouse I roughed out the windows and door openings with a chainsaw. 024 Stihl.

Sachs Dolmar and Stihl ...best of the best.
Forget the rest.

Cost of my almost new crosscut saw? At auction $30.00(2 weeks ago) and that includes the handpainted farm scenes running the whole length of the blade. They also auctioned off a one man crosscut about 4 feet long. $30 also.

To buy these types of goods one needs to attend country farm auctions. Items not 'made in china' is what I prefer.

 I may be ready; not as prepared to handle it as when I had a family. No more  bees, no  more chickens,...OTH,my kids now own about 400 acres of land themselves; dwarfs my 40. Todd is super ready.

  Don't count on the need to harvest venison. Todd was told by some of the old timers up here that the deer were hunted out within 6 months of the start of the Depression. That in a town which probably had about 1000 people in an area of maybe l00 square miles. I'm more interested in helping protect the cattle next door from rustlers.

sorry; 400 sq. mi
Thanks for the compliment Rat but even I throw in a lot of caveats.  Because I'm pretty ready, I also know more than others how many holes there are in any action plan.  Sure, I may be one of the few people with a 1 point timber-framing saw but I also recognize that at 67, timber-framing is something I don't want to have to do. Nor do I want to go out with the axe and the misery whips (I have 6' and 8' two-man saws) and cut firewood.

The essential problem for most people is that they won't have the skills and will not have taken the time to think out the multiple, endless minutae of living without today's abundance of stuff.  Even things that sound simple such as growing vegtables and grains will be difficult (and few will probably have enough water and the raw soil will be unproductive on top of it).

There are also practical things; right now I am having a big problem with wild pigs in our garden and a bear pushed over a pear tree last week.  I'm not really gungho to have to use a bow and arrow to whack them rather than my rifle...but if it came down to it I would.  I nailed a sow yesterday.  And, for those that care, the meat wasn't wasted but given to a guy who lives off the land.  I didn't have time to butcher it and our freezer (that can run fine on the PV system) is full.


BTW, although there are a lot of good forums and blogs about "survival", one I like is: http://www.survivalblog.com
Thanks for the website. I was looking for a good one in that area. I gave up on Backwoods some time ago.

Now I do understand the purpose or mission of this website and forum. It is to attmept to find 'workarounds' for the upcoming potential crisis which is centered around energy in the form of oil ..............

Sooo..I won't drag around the survival topic anymore. Its surely a downer anyway. Much more purposeful to speak of possibly diverting all the bad aspects of such a problem.

Most are not wanting to think about what it takes to survive in such an environment anyway.

As for myself? I just gave up a 44 year marriage in order to remain on my farm since my wife wanted to return to city or suburb life.

I spent 3 years building my log house(by myself BTW) and tending to farming. She never really was a country girl. I was always a country boy though even though I spent years in field engineering and programming.

We are still friends. She just sees the future different. She has had 8 major operations, two back to back coronaries and takes massive amounts of prescription drugs,has osteoarthriticis and high blood pressure.

I have never been to the hospital, take no drugs and never been operated on.zMy blood work is perfect.  I am 6 yrs older than she is.

Reason? I grew up on a farm and a good environment. She grew up on processed junk food and a bad life style.
Long days and pleasant nights.

I subscribe to the abandoned bus as guest housing plan.  Broken down vans make great bedrooms and can be mouse proofed pretty easy.  With the chairs in front and a tv set on the engine housing....

Recycled sidewalk for the patio.  Insulate the outside with junk blue board picked up at the county dump.  Cover that with thrown away steel siding. Slip the worker a $5 and he will look away while you load.  Do it all the time.  Best lumber yard is at the landfill.

Peak Oil Condos......for the inevitable visitor.  Guns for the unwanted ones.

AstroVan shelter 101

I find it is all in the attitude.  My AMEX card works fine at retail.

But why?

Peak should be no different.  Lots of goods to improvise with.  

Rear ends to build water wheels.  Barrels for biodiesel.  Small plant to fill them.

I got it all.  But hope I never have to use it.  So instead I just make sure I have it.  Extra rope and saws.  Oils, grease, extra pumps and valves and tanks.  Lots and lots of items one would never think they would need.  Hundreds of feet of copper pipe and barrels of fittings.  Tanks of Acetylene.  and propane.  multiple 100 lb. tanks and lots of 20 lb.  House has 500 gallons just topped off.

Tools cleaned and stored.  

Fences all stretched and repaired and the locked gates all reinforced.  Water tanks all in and pond built.  Fish stocked and upper field planted to grass for the deer.  

Tractor fully repaired into top shape.  Compost pile finished with a second one started.  Got twenty yards in it and its heating fine.  

Garden fully planted and will provide lots of winter food.  Had my first ear of corn today.  Very sweet.  Storage bin ready and clean and ratproofed.

Its taken three years of nights and weekends to get this far.  If I don't want to go to town I don't.

But I do everyday.  Just like the rest of us I go faithfully off to work.  

How long that will last?  No one knows.

I hope forever.

And prepare for not long.

Bill     Carbondale, CO  

All I ever wanted was a vand down by the river....

It is hard to figure out what to do. As a practical matter, most of us will have to live in housing that is already built - and in fact, many of us in the houses that we live in now. Many of our houses are on cul-de-sac roads, but this will be difficult to change, so we will have to live with this. Society can do some building of new infrastructure, but the resources to do this will be quite a bit more limited than now, so most of us will need to use what we have now.

We can do little things - buy bicycles, learn to garden, cut back on our energy usage, work to get universities in our area more knowledgeable about peak oil, so as to encourage research. If we are young, we can limit our family size. We can try to educate others, including elected officials, newspaper reporters, and those we work with. If we (or our immediate family members) are tied to jobs, relocation is difficult, so it is hard to do a lot more than this.  

At age 54 and with some serious health problems, I'm not obsessed with my own survival. But I feel sorry for young people.

If you think that theoildrum is all about individual survival, I think you're misinterpreting the purpose of this site. Of course, we are not all of one mind - I'm sure that there are survivalists among us, and that's fine. Many of us hope that human civilization can be saved, though I wouldn't say that I'm optimistic.

In order to save civilization, an awareness of peak oil needs to filter through to our political leaders who actually have the power to implement policy. Many great suggestions have been made here - sadly, our current political leadership is deaf. If President Bush would like to sit down with me, I'd give him plenty of advice. Unfortunately, he'd not likely heed my advice. After all, he thinks our greatest problems are same-sex marriage and flag burning.

Well, the USA isn't the only country on earth, so maybe there are other countries that will get it right. It would be nice to think that 100 years from now there will still be a world worth living in, even if I'll never see it.


Interesting side note: Has anyone every tried to store a years worth of food?
Remember that's three meals a day for 365 days = 1095 meals.
Each meal will have three or four items minimum. If your being stressed physically or mentally that number will go up (nervous snacking, seconds?).

Here is what's recommended for just ONE person!

700 lb /person wheat, grain flour & beans
200 lb / person Powdered milk, dairy products and eggs
100 lb / person honey sugar and syrup
75 lb / person salt, oils and leaveners
2750 servings fruits, vegetables and soups.
700 servings meat and seafood
(from: Making the best of Basics family preparedness handbook, by James Stevens)

If you have a teenage boy in the family this should be increased by 1.5

Do to some health issues I've had to revert to preparing all my meals from scratch.  Let me tell you, it takes an effort to make all you meals from scratch and keep food in the house.  I never realized how convenient restaurants and TV dinners were till they were removed from my diet.  I am constantly having to run to the store.

It's been a while since this came up.  I think I posted a list that satisfied the required "ton of goods" for the Klondike gold rush.  From what I remember, it's pretty close to what you have there.  I don't think they went with all those fruit, vegetables, and soups though.

Ah, here's one ... looks like they were eating a little leaner:

"Supplies for One Man for One Year - Recommended by the Northern Pacific railroad company in the Chicago Record's Book for Gold Seekers, 1897."


Hm, now I understand why so many died of scurvy.

How about a few quarts of lemon juice, a few of lime juice, and some dozens of jars of sauerkraut?

I surfed a couple more lists and didn't see any obvious vitamin c sources.  One site made a mention of rose hips on another page.
Nice list.
I'll have to pass on the bacon. High blood pressure and gout makes it a forbidden food.

Although I've found that lemon and lime juice make a good salt substitute in food.

You are indeed a newcomer to The Oil Drum.

The question is not "Is anyone HERE really ready?" but rather "Is anyone anywhere really ready?"  While you claim preparedness for yourself, it becomes obvious in your questions that you have made numerous assumptions about the world in which you live and that which you will be living in.  It is on these assumptions which you base the validity of your preparations.

"The area that contains an aquifer such that potable water springs are still located."
-This of course is a good idea, should the electrical grid become sketchy or the distribution network fail you can still get water.

"An area that is sufficiently removed from metropolitian areas to afford you the abilty to live off the land, harvest venison, till the soil and do so without a constant battle with those who would take what you have."
-Multiple issues in this:  The likelyhood that venison (aka deer) will survive past a dieoff/strife is about nill.  There's someone on TOD which has spoken about how during the Great Depression the deer population in his area was decimated because people hunted them for food.  There are even more people now, and even less deer - they don't stand a chance against hungry people.  There are still plenty of areas which are large enough to live off the land (by farming) but considering the number of people on this planet, there is nowhere that you can go that you will be able to escape anyone. Especially when they start looking for someplace better to live...someplace like your place, with that nice clean spring water and beautiful tilled soil.  You have to repel 100% of the attacks, they only have to be right once.  Out of 50? 100? intrusions a year, only one has to get through and you're over.  Shot, starved,house burned down, illness, injury, drought, pestilence...pick one, you're f@ck3d.

"How many already have learned how to skin and dress a deer? Tan the hides for clothing?"
-no deer, no need.

"Discovered the way to preserve food for the winter?"
-No need to discover such a thing, plenty of books on the subject.  Just need to procure the infrastructure to do so.

"Have that Army Survival Manual and that old Boy Scout compass and USGS topo maps of your intended area?"
-it's always good to know your surroundings, and compasses are handy...but are roads magically going to dissapear?  I'd rather take an abandoned road than bushwack through the woods.  Army survival manual assumes many things as well.

"Who have gone to a selected site/area and cached away necessary firearms,bullets, knives and other needed items?"
-selected site/area?  Are you a chipmunk?  I have such things in my house.

"Who have purchased a two-man crosscut saw and a few double-bit axes in order to cut wood to warm the body during winter? Have a large supply of gallon size plastic baggies to contain and keep their much needed foraged edibles?"
-6 billion people (or 300+ million in the US) cutting down trees to "warm the body" during winter equal a swift deforestation. Deforestation means no habitat for animals and plants.  Naturally "foraged edibles" can be depleted almost instantly.

"Who has their 'getaway bag' already packed? Their dirt bike ready to go with a Ruger Mini-30 and some 30 round clips hanging on its handlebars in order to make that trip to that supposed survival site?"
-Getaway?  To where?  People are everywhere.  Who won't knock you off your dirtbike to steal it?  One sniper shot and it's over, whether you have a 30 round clip or million round clip in your Ruger.

"I am ready. Are YOU?"
-You're not ready and neither am I.  No one can truely be ready in a time which threatens such upheaval.

You need to re-evaluate your world assumptions and re-calculate accordingly...garbage in = garbage out.  Stick around TOD for a while longer, you might learn something.

I remember reading an article about Yugoslavia during their civil war.  The people who survived were communities not individuals.   No amount of hording in concrete bunkers will save an individual.  Like the road warriors of Mad Max eventually the fortified survivalist will find themselves under siege.  
"Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." --Thomas Hobbes
Substrate: Good points all.
I have pondered them long and hard. Am I ready? Not by a long shot. I am part way the.

Let me answer most of them this way.
I believe there will be a massive die-off of most of the population. Primarily in the burbs and cities. Most won't make it to the rural areas. Those that do will not be able to take or steal for they will be shot on sight if caught.

There is an enormous amount of roadkill. When the traffic stops flowing then animals will tend to increase. As pollution ceases and the earth restores itself their will be surely more abundance in wildlife and vegetation.

I think your scenarios believe there will still be a large population. My point is , how can there be?

Yes book on preserving. Most are freezing. No electricity.
No dehydrators for same reason. You must do it the old way and the books don't speak to that. Jerking meat? Again they don't hold to those methods. Salting fish? Nope. Drying fruit and seeds(beans,etc). Nope.

Compass and maps? You can get lost in the outback in a second. GPS is dead.

If you don't heat the body you can die. Wood it it. Cutting wood is necessary.

Thoreau said its all about body heat. Food supplies the heat for the body. Shelter, clothes and all the rest just preserve the body heat. They become ego items and foo-foo-rau after the necessities.

Have you read Waldens Pond perchance?

Items in house: Sure enough easy for someone to take or steal.

In a house you are an extremely easy target. Windows and doors. Its a big trap for those who want it. I will take the woods. I can sit in the woods and no one can approach without giving themselves away. Ask any squirrel hunter or deer hunter that. In a house you are just prey.

Getaway: I was in a metro area doing Y2K on mainframes. There was 'blood on the floor', it was not going well. There was a degree of hysteria. My farm was 100 miles away. I had to have a way to get there. Dirt bike and cross country with supplies and a good automatic firearm was my method.

If I still worked away from the farm and that was my survival spot then I would prepare the same. Hard to hit a good bike rider on a good dirt bike. Especially with a scoped rifle. Not gonna happen.

Food: There will be deer and turkeys and squirrels and much other. There are now very few good hunters, not like in the depression. I have to shoot the deer out of my crops now as it is.

I have 2 Hoyt FastFlight compounds. I will take them over the firearms most times in the woods. A silent arrow works better on game. It all depends on your quarry.

I think you need to rethink your thoughts only with most of the population dead , except for the scavengers and scoundrels creeping about and surviving on stealing and killing to survive.

The weak and unprepared will die fast and first. The criminals will last longer. They are the ones you might have to prepare for.

The rest will be what is left and will be basically good folk and will start it ALL OVER AGAIN. I hope at least.

MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF FOODSTUFFS: I work hard and eat very little. I eat little processed food. I ferment quite a bit. No energy input there. Lasts a long time. Very healthy. Sauerkraut and so on. I grind my own wheat and corn.

Very nutricious and not that hard to prepare. Corn cakes and bread from the WHOLE grain is very sustaining. Wild game meat is likewise.

You are thinking of city food and highly processed with most of the vitamins and minerals leeched out by ADM and sold elsewhere. What is left WE GET TO EAT.

Native Americans lived on mostly corn , gourds/squash and beans with some extras thrown in. They lived simply. They lived a different lifestyle but they lived well for the most part. (Shawnee,Choctaw,Chicksaw,etc).

When we wanted to kill them off or take their lands we simply burnt their corn crops. They then had nothing for the winter.

You don't think that huge numbers will perish IF it comes to that? I would like to understand how they will survive then?

Walk to where? Buy where? Buy what? No lighting. No heat. No food. No airconditioning. No water. No wood.

You have a different scenario? A very soft landing then?

Who is leading this and where is their headquarters? Are they ready? Ready to feed millions of hungry and thirsty folks who are pissed, hot(or freezing) and armed to some degree?

Will out  politicians be leading us in this venture? Sure!!

Will it be our greedy, power mad CEO's of corporations? Like Billy Gates? Sure!!

Who and when?

I say its an individual event and later a communal event. AFTER THE BIG DIEOFF. Life gets simple and a lot harder in some way. Maybe better in a lot of ways. We can do it better the next time perhaps.

I know I won't be here for that long. I saw it all happen from cutting and packing in wood on my grandfathers farm til I was 11 yrs old. I saw wood then kerosene then coal and then electricity. I drove mules and then tractors. I then became and engineer , aerospace technician and then a systems programmer.

I am now back living on a farm. I am waiting for it all to fold and fall to the ground.

It was nice while it lasted. Next month we start the harvest. Will there even be diesel to run the rigs and combines? Last year it got real iffy for a while and we had to haul rigs to Louisana with diesel for Homeland Securty. It got real bad last year as a matter of fact.

The input costs on this years crops are much higher than ever before. Fertilizer is totally thru the roof. Diesel is outa sight.Chemicals are in the stratosphere.  Yet corn prices are still garbage and going nowhere. Ditto soybeans. Farmers are creating all the food yet market speculators make all the money and churn the hell out of the CBOT. Same as utilities.

Who is in control then?
Osama Bin Laden and his friendly band of cuthroats.

Its a 'great life'.

"You have a different scenario? A very soft landing then?"

I think this is the source of our rift in views.  I'm not sure what you mean by a "soft landing" but here's my own take on things.

People are wily.  They will cling onto life with everything they have.  Cunning and adaptable, deceptive and vicious.  I expect a steady creep downward at first, and while I don't think the current situation is exactly caused by peak oil but by "peak lite", the situation now is indicative.  At some point the house of cards is going to collapse, people are going to catch on to peak oil, they're going to figure out at least some of the ramifications.  They will not just curl up and die.  When it gets bad enough they will try everything to hang on.  They will eat what little they have left, kill whatever moves, burn whatever will keep them warm.  Once they finish devestating where they are, they'll move on to somewhere else.  Eventually finding, killing, and burning everything.

That's Doomer Defcon 1.  I give it more than a fair chance of happening, and it's where our current course is heading.  

One of the lighter scenarios I can imagine is a return of the Great Depression or WWII rationing scenario, but lasting much much longer.  Strife, hardship...declining population, but civilization lasting.  I give this a fair enough chance.

Something I give a small likelyhood of occuring, but strive to promote is a full (enough) scale mobilization of society towards becoming sustainable and retaining enough technology that we're not forced to toil the soil all day long, and still have free time to enjoy life.  If the purpose of life is merely to live and pass on genes, how pointless?

"Who has their 'getaway bag' already packed? Their dirt bike ready to go with a Ruger Mini-30 and some 30 round clips hanging on its handlebars in order to make that trip to that supposed survival site?"

For some reason this made me laugh hysterically. I'm not sure why though.  At this point I wish I was a survivalist like airdale so my laugher is not of the mocking variety.

I know PRECISELY where to go.  Where a decent sized community will survive and not be invaded, can export food and renewable energy with hand tilling, good social cohesion.

*IF* I were looking out for #1, I would get a job there as a math & science teacher, do a GREAT job (care about the students) and buy a small farm within bicycling distance of town,  Plant an orchard & berry bushes and build a house with PV and a superinsulated room and a high efficiency wood burner.

Buy two simple rugged bicycles with spares (identical, so one can be stripped if need be).

As I get old and sick, my former students may care for me.  If I cannot harvest all of my rfuit, I can trade "picking rights' for what I need.

But I prefer to be like the operating engineers of the WTC, struggling to the last minute to get the power back on, the elevators working.  I do NOT let fear determine my life !

All the security guards at the WTC died at their posts. None ran away. It's not like they were getting paid as much as the cops and firemen. But they still did their job.
This is called failing the Darwin test...
Is anyone HERE really ready?

The US gets about 55% of its petroleum from North American sources (declining slowly). The US gets effectively 100% of its electricity from North American sources (and can expand output from NA resources). The US gets about 97% of its natural gas from North American sources. (declining slowly). I suspect that, given some pricing incentives, the US would be able to cut its energy consumption by 20% almost overnight. In the long run, it can be cut much further than that — we are rather hideously inefficient, after all. There is time to get ready.

Not me.

I've resigned myself to a future of hard physical labor.

". . .how many will just hide out in the basement or the office building where they work?"

I'll be hiding under my bed. Will probably die and then the neigborhood cats will wonder in through the window and dine on my carcass.  

I'll probably be shot by the Mexican police trying to cross the northern border and clutter up their nice country with my inferior culture.
Oops, "One of the UK's biggest offshore wind farms is producing less than one third of the electricity it should be, according to a new report."


How dare they fall short! I can't think of any other industry that, in it's infancy, hasn't made any mistakes.
Bad, bad wind generators. Note heavy sarcasm. On a more positive note:

Keep an eye on the new 5 Megawatt 127m trubine made by RealPower (5M) That should be interesting. Second one is going up in Scotland.

I believe that there are still a lot of technological advances to be made in this industry.


I'm still a moderate, between optimist and pessimist ... but I think I'd put "infancy" back in the 70's.  Maybe this is awkward adolescence?

(the good news and the bad news tugs me back and forth a bit)

On reflection I would agree. We are now at the point where wind is about to put in extensive expansion. Say early teens!

Even if wind can only ever produce 10% (a optomistic figure) of the worlds energy needs then that is a tenth of the way in the rigt direction. Then only 9 other similar solutions are needed.

Every nibble counts. I am (along with many i presume) of the opinion that there will be no one saviour card and a total solution will be a conglomerate - if we arrive a total solution at all; which looking at all wars we like to fight, is not likely to happen any time soon.

Viva La peace and renewable energy!

odograph -

Evidently, the problem is with some of the gearbox bearings wearing out prematurely, not with the basic concept or with errors in estimating the available wind power.

This is a perfect example of a problem totally unrelated to a new technology causing problems that can make it appear that there is something wrong with the technology itself.

Gearboxes, though conceptually simple, can be a real weak link in a powertrain if not designed and constructed properly. It is not as simple as it looks.  

 One example is marine steam turbines. Some of the problems encounted in the early turbines stemmed from the fact that they were direct drive, i.e., the turbine and propeller shaft turned at the same speed. This sometimes caused a mismatch between optimum turbine speed and required propeller speed. When reduction gears were tried, all sorts of problems were encountered because there was little experience at the time in manufacturing really large gears capable of taking sustained heavy loading. It enventually got sorted out, but it delayed the use of steam turbines on very large ships.

Another one is gearboxes for aircraft.  Due to weight and wear problems, it is generally  desireable to avoid a gearbox altogether and try to match optimum engine speed with propeller speed. This usually worked out fine. However, this was not always possible with some of the really large propellers. The first version of Northrop's experimental Flying Wing of the late 1940s had four large engines that each turned a pair of counter-rotating propellers. Needless to say, such an arrangement required a large and complex gearbox.  These gearboxes were the source of constant trouble, and made the flying wing concept itself look bad, though it had nothing whatsoever to do with the pros and cons of the basic flying wing design. Other aircraft also had lots of trouble with gearboxes.

It is a good reminder that it's often the simple mundane aspects of a design, rather than a failing of the basic concept, that can make it unsuccessful.   The devil is truly in the details.

I hope these were just bad gearboxes (made by Triumph?).

While I agree with much of what you say, that's tempered by the fact that we should be on Nth generation gearboxes by now.

(I had thought that moving from small turbines to large had allowed a transition to more robust gearing and reduced maintenance.)

[Scene An ATM machine. Peter gets out a receipt that says he has $305,326.13]

 [Scene Peter's car. Samir and Michael have obviously seen the receipt.]

Shit, shit, shit, shit. Son of a bitch! Shit! This is a - fuck! Son of a bitch! Shit!

What happened?

You tell me, Michael, it's your software!

Yes, it's your software!

Corporate accounting is sure as hell going to notice 305, 3 (grabs the receipt) 26.13!! Michael!!

Oh shit! They, they probably won't notice it's gone for another two or three days.

Michael! Michael! You said the thing was gonna take two years!

What happened?!

You said the thing was supposed to work.

Well, technically it did work.

No it didn't!

It did not work, Michael, ok?!

Ok! Ok!


Ok! Ok! I must have, I must have put a decimal point in the wrong place or something. Shit. I always do that. I always mess up some mundane detail.

--Office Space

The news item is a little vague, but it looks like the author is confusing nameplate capacity with capacity factor.  A total capacity factor of 28.9% isn't too bad for a wind farm; really good would be 40%.
Engineering Poet -

I think the article said that the actual power delivered was only about 30% of what was EXPECTED. As so, then the amount of power expected should have already taken the capacity factor into account. (I would think.)

It appears that the reason the system delivered so much less power than expected was simply because so many of the units were down with gearbox problems.

Looking at the PDF report linked from the reports page cited above, the nameplate capacity of the farm is 60 MW and its production was 152,574 MWH for a capacity factor of 28.9% (page 8).  That's about 90% of what they claimed was expected.

In short, the reporter wrote a grossly misleading item.

Engineer Poet -

If tht is indeed the case, then it is much ado about nothing.

It won't be the first time a technically illiterate reporter screwed up.

You think the windmills were bad? My dad worked on the neutron groups analysis for the Piqua organic moderated nuclear reactor around the time I was born, in 1956. They didn't use water for coolant, but a mix of diphenyls and triphenyls like dowthern and santowax.
Radiolysis turned them to rubber in the coolant channels and the reactor was abandoned after three years, IIRC.
Windmills aren't the only power plants with teething problems.

Did the article get changed? Because the one at that URL says:

That meant we had to carry out an extensive programme of modifications but, despite that, the wind farm still generated 153GWh, which is around 90% of our forecast annual output.

That's still a bit of an exaggeration, I got 89.1448% from the report linked elsewhere in this thread.

It looks like USD $2,812,886 were spent on operating and maintenance costs, at 152,574 MWh, I make that about USD $0.018 per KWh.

I wish I knew what the project costs were, onshore is usually about USD $1000 / nameplate KWh, at 28.9% capacity - that's about USD $3460 / KWh for delivered power.

Wow, it did change.  Was that us or someone else?

If you go to google news at this monent and search for "wind power" then a little bit down the page you will see the headline "Wind farm at one third capacity" but if you hit that link it takes you to an article titled "Performance report into wind farm"

EP did you just rock the BBC?

quick try to grab the original article from google cache before it gets deleted.
If the BBC is reading my (and your) comments here (the only place I've mentioned it), it's a heck of a surprise to me.

I'd love to have that kind of power over the media (the only time I got a correction out on my own was when I called a radio station which had been talking about a mid-air collision involving a "Beechnut" aircraft - I told them that Beechcraft made airplanes and Beechnut made baby food, and they had it right on the next hourly update).

The article actually says the windfarm generated nearly 90% of predicted output for the year.
Say, if we in the USA are trying to get un-addicted to oil, why doesn't the President gather a bunch of politicians around him to say something like this:
"My fellow Americans: whereas we are trying to shake our addiction to oil, and whereas BP had to shut down about 8% of our domestic production recently, I declare that we will take steps to reduce our domestic consumption of petroleum by the same amount of production that we've just had shut in.

"This is an opportunity to reduce our dependency on oil -- let's just consider this a time to reduce total oil consumption, so that when this field is brought back on line, we can continue to reduce our total petroleum consumption.

"Not only will this reduce our dependence on foriegn oil, but if we further reduce petroleum consumption, maybe we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions too.

So, my fellow Americans, please join myself, the Vice President, and all members of the House and Senate as we lead in the 'Great American Powerdown.'"

Will we hear such a speech soon?

(I'm reposting this -- was at the end of a long thread of posts a couple of days ago.  Any responses?  Would any mainstream media or politicos talk this way?)

At this moment I think two constituencies are two strong:

  • consumers hate high gas prices
  • detroit need to sell SUVs or die

The good news is that the government does fund a lot of research, that might pay off, but the bad news is that they don't seem to have a way to sell short-term changes.
I understand that for sure, odograph.  Many people feel like victims at the gas pump?  Are we victims?  If so, victims of what or whom?

I'll be heading out to a family event now -- won't be able to check back in until very late -- but may the superb discussions on the many related topics flow.  I will be curious to read the Drumbeat late tonight!

Ya never know what brilliant nuggets will shine through.

Detroit's truck business (and maybe the whole thing) is toast.  The SUV is a fashion statement, and fashions are changing.  If consumer preference makes cars profitable again, Detroit may survive.

A government policy which attempts to prop up the guzzler segment to help Detroit (like the flex-fuel CAFE credit) is not going to help Detroit much and hurts the country.  It's time for triage.  Part of this process is to let GM go bankrupt and shed e.g. all the retiree expenses.  When the unions are forced to admit that the gravy train went off the rails 20 years ago, maybe management will have the freedom to do what's necessary.

If it isn't too late.

Again I question semi-trucks.  80,000 lbs at 6 mpg should transfer closely to 2,000 lbs at 240 miles per gallon.
I followed a fully loaded semi over a 1500 foot mountain pass and realized that US consumers will never settle with 5 miles an hour on hills until there is no other option.  
Weight is only a small factor in highway-speed fuel consumption; the big thing is aerodynamic drag, which the car (being proportionally shorter than the tractor-trailer) has in much greater relative abundance.
Are you saying that it cannot be done?  Subtract more for drag 160 mpg?  120 mpg?  Can it be done???  20 speed transmission and a 14-16 hp 3 cyl diesel kubota engine (4 hrs run time per gallon of fuel(yes my tractor can do that)) 60 mph x 4 gph = 240 mpg. Too optimistic? Ok try 30 mph x 4 gph = 120 mpg. or 60 mph at 2 gph = 120 mpg. Someone with a degree in engineering needs to comment here.

Are Americans addicted to 0-60 < 2 min.;-)
Is it market driven? No-one would buy these things(too slow!) Would you get shot trying to get through the intersection by impatient drivers- likly in some areas.
Are we just stuck in our thinking? ? ?  Really this is not very glitzy here tractor engines and slow, slow acceleration.  I think this is the biggest difficulty we have.  No fancy batteries, no computers, nothing that joe shade tree mechanic couldn't come up with. Are we american so "techno-fixated"(ipod, DSL, lithium ion(sp?) ) that we cannot see the forest from the trees.

There is nothing more eye opening than watching an old "Jonny-popper" tractor out pull more modern,  higher horsepower, and heavier tractors.  It's about speed( and flywheels, etc.).

If this is possible (240 - 120 mpg cars )then you can take the cars we already have and convert them, especially the smaller ones. (minus AC and power everything)
No need to scrap the whole damn US auto fleet.  At what price per gallon does(market wise) this become viable- the slow speed, if it is technically possible?
I don't see why it couldn't happen...

Oh, it can be done.  VW built a 1-liter/100 km (230-odd MPG) car a couple years ago.  It had about a 10 HP one-cylinder diesel engine and just enough room to seat two people fore and aft.  It looked more like a homebuilt airplane than a car.  Then there's the Loremo concept which the designers claim will get 150-something MPG.

What you can't do is take something mid-size or bigger and get 200 MPG out of it at highway speeds with a combustion engine.  There's just too many losses to satisfy the energy demand.

60 mph x 4 gph = 240 mpg. Too optimistic? Ok try 30 mph x 4 gph = 120 mpg. or 60 mph at 2 gph = 120 mpg. Someone with a degree in engineering needs to comment here.
You're multiplying when you should be dividing.  30 miles/hour / (4 gallons/hour) = 7.5 miles/gallon.

Unit analysis is an important check on your work.

Opppsss!  Good catch! 4 hours per gallon not 4 gallons per hour.
Thanks for the reply! Much appreciated.
DelusionaL -

What makes you think that an 80,000-lb semi gets 6 mpg?

A relative of mine has a full-size, extended-cab, 4 x4 Ford pickup that seldom gets more than 11 mpg. It probably weighs no more than 6,000 lbs.

A good clue to fuel consumption is the size of the radiator on a semi. It's pretty damn big for a reason: it burns lots of gas and therefore must reject lots of engine heat. Another clue is the diameter of the exhaust pipes, which are also pretty big.

Furthermore, a semi isn't the most aerodynamic shape. While it's frontal area isn't all that much greater than a big pickup, It's got lots more roof, side, and underbody area to create additional frictional drag, plus a very square rear that creates drag-producing eddies.

That is why I'd be very surprised if a fully loaded semi got anywhere near 6 mpg. Still, even at say 3 mpg, on a gas mileage per ton of vehicle weight basis, a semi would still be more fuel-efficient.

I poked around on the web, and found this:


They are quoting between 5 and 6 mpg.

Under "Tractor Trailer Trucks Dominate Potential..." where they list the fuel economy numbers the top box has "Large *T*ickups and SUVs"  That amused me for some reason.
Wal-Mart is aiming for 13 MPG.
Engineer Poet -

Well, I stand corrected. It appears that 6 mpg is not out of line for a semi, which I find quite surprising, given that a lot of SUVs and full-size pickups bearly squeak above 10 mpg.  

I suppose what contributes to this very good mileage/weight ratio is i) most of the miles travelled  are long-haul highway miles with very little stop and go driving, and ii) diesel engines are pretty efficient.

Hauling grain from the fields close to max(80,000) and dumping at the elevators(30-50) miles away. We get about 3 mpg on average. Lot of engine idle time in there though.

A new ultra low sulphur diesel is just hitting the pumps or delivery folks right about now. Its sure to blow lots of seals and injection pumps , especially on older rigs.

Pretty impressive for a huge merchandising chain. I don't think Target stores are capable of moving at all ;)
I just had this mental image of big-box stores trundling across the landscape...
LOL not off by much.  Rural villages in Europe have drive by sales- vechiles.  Stop by 1-2 x month. Like a rolling Sears store is my take...
Up to the mid-60 rural villages in Europe also had drive by grocers, butchers and dairy once or twice a week.
Just compute the ratio of fuel used/customers serviced...

I for one think it more important for the workers to retain their contracts regarding pensions, etc., than for GM to remain in business in its current size. Contracts are "sacred" promises to deliver and form the legal basis of business. In other words, the lives and wellbeing of thousands of humans are far more important than the artificial corporate construction of GM. Putting profit over people is one main reason we're in the mess we're in now.
And if GM cannot remain in business at all, neither retirees nor employees have anything.

You, sir, are an exemplar of the thinking which got GM into its current mess.

Yeah, that horrible nasty backwards Commie thinking that thinks a contract with a worker is a real contract, like any other contract.
Real free market thinkers know that workers only need to work and die. Fuck workers. Fuck union contracts. Not real contracts at all.
I thought discharge of debts in bankruptcy was an enlightened, liberal notion compared to e.g. debtor's prison.  What would you do if GM couldn't make enough money to satisfy the terms of the contract?  Go take the assets of the shareholders?

The retiree stuff is re-negotiated every time the contract comes up for renewal.  It's not set in stone even if the company remains solvent.

Debtor's prison for GM execs instead of golden parachutes
Now there's a way to attract a quality workforce!
Might as well give it a try. Lotsa money and stock options gave them the management behind SUV's, go-go-yellow E85, and the Camero collectible for 2009. Hardly a great track record.

I suppose the poetic justice is that Kerkorian got fooled too.

GM made the decision to NOT properly fund its pensions and other benefits in order to increase short-term profitablity, which makes the CEO look good and seem deserving of his golden parachute. It's precisely that sort of thinking that has us all in our current mess, and GM's current behavior shows it has yet to learn from its mistakes.

Your response implies that contracts, and the implict legal oaths that go with them, can be tossed aside at a whim, which sounds exactly like the last several presidental administrations' approch to governing, truth-telling, and at bottom--morality.

We The People of the United States are NOT the ones shredding the social contract that started with the Declaration. The people doing so are nominally US citizens, but their deeds prove they are the "domestic enemies" many of us took oaths to defend our country against.    

Keeping profits up is also essential to maintain the stock price, prevent takeovers (which would probably result in the contract being threatened) and shareholder lawsuits (which GM seems to have anyway, but the last thing you need is justification).
If GM goes belly up a certain percentage of the pension payments will be transfered to taxpayers on top of their Social Security.
The auto industry has been given many tax breaks by the State of Michigan in order to keep jobs here. The tragedy is that we didn't exchange tax breaks for shares of controlling stock.
Ford has just put out a very odd 50-part advertising video series wherein, among other things, they invite environmentalists to demonize their fuel economy, talk about the death of the SUV, say that Ford totally missed the boat and is preparing an overhaul of the company...

It's got a nearly postmodern quality to it.

Saw it here yesterday.

That would mean having to learn by ones mistakes: 'Sorry No change here. Our way of life is non-negotiable. Push harder dear there will be petrol at the next station. I promise.'


Will we hear such a speech soon?

No. ShrubCo is in the Cleopatra boat on this issue, so it'll be at least another couple of years.

I've just returned home from some all-day extended-family doings -- a wedding celebration for the birthmom of one of our openly adopted children.

What an opportunity to meet some people from near and far.  I sure got the idea that a number of these folks thought that global climate change was bunk and that high gas prices were just price gouginh on the part of big oil.

I did not really get to discuss things in depth with anyone, but a fleet of high-mileage SUVs and big cars got most people there, and the few comments I heard were dismissive of any notion that we are making any errors in our general way of life.

How is it possible for a species to be so clever and yet not very smart?

We have a long, long ways to go with peak oil awareness.

 Was sent this today...
[from: Ivan Illich: Toward a History of Needs. New York: Pantheon, 1978.]
"This text was first published in Le Monde in early 1973. Over lunch in Paris the venerable editor of that daily, as he accepted my manuscript,

recommended just one change. He felt that a term as little known and as technical as ``energy crisis'' had no place in the opening sentence of an

article that he would be running on page 1. As I now reread the text, I am struck by the speed with which language and issues have shifted..."


"The choice of a minimum-energy economy compels the poor to abandon fantastical expectations and the rich to recognize their vested interest

as a ghastly liability. Both must reject the fatal image of man the slaveholder currently promoted by an ideologically stimulated hunger for more

energy. In countries that were made affluent by industrial development, the energy crisis serves as a pretext for raising the taxes that will be

needed to substitute new, more ``rational,'' and socially more deadly industrial processes for those that have been rendered obsolete by

inefficient overexpansion. For the leaders of people who are not yet dominated by the same process of industrialization, the energy crisis serves

as a historical imperative to centralize production, pollution, and their control in a last-ditch effort to catch up with the more highly powered. By

exporting their crisis and by preaching the new gospel of puritan energy worship, the rich do even more damage to the poor than they did by

selling them the products of now outdated factories. As soon as a poor country accepts the doctrine that more energy more carefully managed

will always yield more goods for more people, that country locks itself into the cage of enslavement to maximum industrial outputs. Inevitably the

poor lose the option for rational technology when they choose to modernize their poverty by increasing their dependence on energy. Inevitably the

poor deny themselves the possibility of liberating technology and participatory politics when, together with maximum feasible energy use, they

accept maximum feasible social control.

The energy crisis cannot be overwhelmed by more energy inputs. It can only be dissolved, along with the illusion that well-being depends on the

number of energy slaves a man has at his command. For this purpose, it is necessary to identify the thresholds beyond which energy corrupts,

and to do so by a political process that associates the community in the search for limits. Because this kind of research runs counter to that now

done by experts and for institutions, I shall continue to call it counterfoil research. It has three steps. First, the need for limits on the per capita use

of energy must be theoretically recognized as a social imperative. Then, the range must be located wherein the critical magnitude might be found.

Finally, each community has to identify the levels of inequity, harrying, and operant conditioning that its members are willing to accept in exchange

for the satisfaction that comes of idolizing powerful devices and joining in rituals directed by the professionals who control their operation..."

A aquaintance suggested an interesting idea of a continuouly moving train that only stops at end stations. For intermeditate stations, the back car(s) would detach from the train and get switched to a side track and come to a complete stop so that passengers could embark/disembark. The back car(s) would then wait for the next train to come by, catch up with it, and then hook up to the back of the continuouly moving train.

Passengers would have to move to the back car(s) to get off at a station, and move to the front car(s) to continue the ride.

Independently powered cars such as diesel or electric multiple units would be required, as well as an automatic hook up system to connect/disconnect the cars. There would also be a need for locking doors between the back cars and the continuouly moving train to prevent passengers from falling off the train when the units detach.

This type system seems feasible with todays technology. Any thoughs?

What you want is PRT.
PRT seems a tad too complex and, I assume, would lack the capacity of commuter rail. Wouldn't the PRT tracks easily plug up with vehicles, just like a freeway?
In Europe, trains transfer energy back into the grid when they brake. It's not that complicated.
For the same effect and less infrastructure cost, compressed air into salt domes that have already been emptied for oil or sulfur production.  The sulfur ones are almost certainly airtight.

An interesting number, if my source has it right:  The US government uses about 1.2 quadrillion BTU or 1.2* 10^18 Joules a year.  That's 38 GW (gigawatt) average consumption.  Noting that wind turbines at the large but not huge end deliver 2 MW rates, and a quarter of that taking into account wind variability, you would need about 160GW installed or about 80,000 large commercial wind turbines to match Federal energy consumption.

Current installed is a small fraction of that; we would need a while and not rushing engineering development to get there.

George Phillies http://www.phillies2008.com

Louisiana Governor proposes Interstate Tolls; LA Republican Senator attacks Idea


Finally, a governor with some guts!
Not really.

Check out the follow-up story link on the sidebar. The governor denies any responsibility for this whacky idea.

Here is another thought experiment. Say we used the $2 billion a month spent on the Iraq War to give out $3k rebates for every new car bought getting over 50 mpg. This would give us a savings of 29 mpg over the average current vehicle profile of 21 mpg and 8 million new high milage cars a year. Assuming 18 miles per day on average per car (best estimate I could come up with), this gets us to a saving of 5 million gallons a day. We use something like 380 million gallons a day. Assuming 5% depletion a year or 19 million gallons a day per year we are in big trouble post peak.  
Why not use the $2 billion/month to build a high-speed rail network instead? In the long term, this would same much more energy than high-milage vehicles.
Much better idea. Would also require a move of population into cities and away from rural and exuburban areas. We have to become a civilization of apartment dwellers with the surrounding areas set aside for farming. Trouble is people won't give up their McMansions easily.
If you build the rail network, people will relocate near stations, causing a reversal of the freeway-suburb lifestyle. All you need is super expensive gasoline for it to work. This can be accomplished right away by taxing the heck out of gasoline, and using the revenue to build an even more extensive rail system. It's a win-win situation.
I would like this to happen too. The cumulative investment in our lifestyle makes it difficult to change. No politician can get elected on a platform of higher gas taxes. People have organized their lives around ultra cheap energy and debt. The combination means deadly inertia. When a forward thinking politician comes forward I am prepared to vote for him but I am afraid you and I are a small minority. I don't expect things to change until the market moves prices higher. By then it may be too late. This site for all its talent and the bloggers here are quite impressive in their depth and breadth of knowledge is largely preaching to the choir.  
Here's a PO-aware legislative agenda

A) Super-progressivize the income tax and implement more tax brackets on the superrich - we go from 10/15/25/28/33/35 to -10/0/10/15/20/25/30/35.  This is needed because consumption is much more even than income, so taxes hurt the poor most.    Reform corporate taxes so that, among other things, corporations can't hide in Delaware.

B) Taxes are in fixed dollar amounts (if oil is $2/gallon when implemented + tax is 50%, set tax at fixed $1/gallon permanently):

Energy Tariff - encourages energy independance - 50% on all imported energy in any form

Pollution tax - fixed dollar amount 100% of current value on coal, 50% on oil, 25% on natural gas

Scarcity tax - 50% on all fossil energy, imported + native

Taxes are at the producer/refiner/importer level, prices naturally trickle down to the pump.  That means if coal is $10/ton when tax is implemented, tax producers at $20/ton, and watch as the market stabilizes at $30/ton.  A variable percentage rate is too much as you start to slide down the other side of the peak, and discourages industries that can't replace oil.

C) Reform UN/NATO to have teeth, increase funding + manpower drastically;  Cut our Cold War military industrial complex (and all the pork spending that goes with it) severely, change the pork to alternative energy expenditures - which naturally happen in the same rural areas.  Close an army base, open a biodiesel farm.  Something in between UN + NATO takes up the Clintonesque role of world cop + continues the war on terra.

D) Pour all this money into biofuel research, PV research(not there yet), wind capacity, 4g nuclear research(not there yet), 3g nuclear capacity, alternative transportation infrastructure, and environmental rehab for all the coal mining we'll be doing, with the goal of being a major energy exporter by 2020.

E) Eliminate agricultural subsidies

The taxes (and the fact that they remain fixed, a floor for the alternative energy venture capitalists to start from) are just as important as the public funding.  We have a major recession coming on top of peak oil, and we need to provide a platform for the trillions that need to be invested privately on top of public funding, without gas plummetting in price and choking off alternatives.

I place my faith in taxes because of the current state of biofuels, hydrogen, and CAFE standards - expensive impractical political bullshit that detracts from the conversation that needs to be happening.  A privately held company does not suffer what to government are minor impracticalities like a negative/nearly negative ROIE corn ethanol.

This doesn't bother me. We have lots of low grade lead, zinc, nickel, and vanadium ore for power peaking flow cells and electric car batteries. We will make do.
But I got to admit that the post on "steelies" was just as practical and much funnier than the ones on how to hunt deer and gather roots and berries.
i would consider the how to gather the right roots and berry's more practical then the steel bb idea. considering what our food is made of and how little exercise people get i would think hunting and gathering your own food can do allot of good. well for those of us who are willing to try it out, and you do not sound like one of them.
Lots of things we could do with the money we are pouring down that black hole.
 There is a world wide shortage of PV panels; we could develop the infrastructure for it. Put people to work making silicone.
We could convert the federal motor pool to hybrids.
We could go renewable on every piece of federal property.
We could do almost anything any of us has ever dreamed of doing to halt the stampede of the twin horses of the apocalypse.
 But first, we need to stop spending money in Iraq.

 BTW, how much XS CO2 from the wars?

Louisiana Governor proposes Interstate Tolls; LA Republican Senator attacks Idea


Forgive me, havn't done a lot of long distance driving, but isn't the interstate a federal highway project, part of interstate commerce, which Congress has sway over, rather than a governor?
The State of Louisiana is/was preparing a request to the feds for a waiver that would allow them to toll I-10 & I-12.

Requires federal approval.


Does putting tolls on the interstate affect the federal highway money Louisiana receives?
Interstates have toll road sections in several states already; my most recent experience with such was in Kansas on I-70.
stop spamming you already posted this.

OPEC under pressure after BP pipeline shutdown. IEA assumes Saudi arabia has cut Light sweet oil (really you crackheads?)from its production and can make additional 400,000 available on demand. On demand ? This is not your local comcast movies on demand you idiots.

Why did this post get it's own thread?  Seriously.  I'm all for freedom of thought/expression but this is not good for this blog's image.
I mean the author of this post didn't even do his homework.  He made "wild guesses".  WTF.
Many people have been wondering if the USA would have a nasty hurricane season this summer (possibly due to global warming), but so far it hasn't happened.

However, that's not the case elsewhere, as China has just been battered by one of the worst typhoons ever:


For those who get the Financial Times, Nagorak, Prof. Goose, Joule and Nero were quoted on Page 15 of Saturday's Financial Times in the column on What the Bloggers say. There were a few other sites quoted as well, but out of 10 quotes the named Oil Drum got 4 published quotes. Just thought I'd offer my congratulations to the above mentioned for appearing in the FT and my jealousy at not being quoted. Hopefully that should add a few more new visitors to this site.

what the bloggers say

Hmph. We should have at least made Corrosive Curmudgeon on the TTLB scale by now :)
DIYer -

Nyah, nyah, nyah  .... I made the Financial Times and you didn't!  

Of course, my quoted words of wisdom were merely a restatement of the obvious, but it's kinda nice anyway.

Speaking of getting one's name in print, here's a general question to consider: in today's climate is it wise to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper if the content of that letter is highly critical of the current regime in Washington?

Paranoid on my part? Perhaps. But considering the way things are today, I am not so sure. I used to be a frequent contributor of curmudgeonly letters to the editor, but our local paper is so stuffy and afraid of offending anyone that they tend to edit all the red meat out of one's letter. So I no longer bother.

It would not surprise me at all if there are low-level employees in either the FBI or or some branch of Homeland Security whose sole job it is to scour the editorial pages of daily newspapers for letter to the editor that appear to express 'disloyalty'.  I think it  would be a perfect job for some Summer intern.  So, I think that writing a letter critical of the Bush regime could get you put into some data base that could best be described as a 'shit list'.

Farfetched? I think not. (Just ask any survivor of a despotic regime.) It is common knowledge that the government wants to know everything about everyone, but strives to keep its own workings a total secret. So, the question is whether it is best to make as much noise as possible through normal channels in the hope of changing the system,  or to remain anonymous and go 'underground'.

Vote. Make sure you are registered. Think about canvassing your precinct, though going door to door is one of my least favorite activities.

That's about all I know to do just now.

sorry with diebold in the picture the system is complete.

as someone said. it's not the person who votes that has the power, its the person who COUNTS the votes. so vote all you want, it won't matter as long as company's like diebold make machines that can so easily be hacked and votes flipped that you wonder if they were made on purpose that way. even India has a better electronic voting machine system.

Hello TrueKaiser,

Speaking of elections: Mexico's AMLO is claiming the finding of an additional 100,000 votes thus far into the recount process.

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's opposition leader said on Friday a partial recount of votes from the presidential election he narrowly lost has shown so many errors that the top electoral court will have to declare him president-elect.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist who claims he was robbed in the July 2 election, said the recount of 9 percent of ballot boxes was only half complete but inconsistencies from the original tallies already topped 100,000 votes.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Then go here and get involved:

Sign up for the handcount registry. Adopt an election. Pester your local county officials.

umm that is a good group and i applaud them for trying, they won't have a effect on anything above county elections though. too much money and vest interests on both sides, it's also the same reason you never see any states that get taken by independents or green. the parts of the system that matter have basically gotten to a point that you cannot effect change from within it because you cannot get that high without submitting to the same forces you want to get rid of. best you can do is step aside and let the system die so you can be there to help pick up the pieces.
i am afraid though that the united states will see fascism on a very large scale before it sees a better form of democracy. thats of course assuming it doesn't break up due to a certain energy crises we know about.
I actually volunteered to be on a government enemies list.

A few months ago I heard that Thomas Friedman had advocated in the NY Times the publishing of a list of all those who dared questioned the War on Terror - as terrorist sympathizers.

I snapped.  I wrote him an e-mail asking that I be the first name on the list.

I have not heard anything since.

Haven't been audited yet.  But I once knew a woman who got audited numerous times after she became part of the Agent Orange victims' widows' movement.  So I can't discount that possibility.

why Steelies ?

why not Slinkies ?

This should be interesting to see play out given recent indications that both are peaked:

 S. Arabia, Mexico Pledge Help Fill Oil Shortage
Saudi Arabia and Mexico have pledged to help fill shortages in the US oil supply due to the Alaska pipeline shutdown, the White House said.
BP is shutting down its 400,000 barrel-a-day Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska after poor maintenance corroded the transit pipeline that moved the crude. The Energy Department says the pipeline might not come back online fully until January.
The pipeline problem, which hit at the heart of the US summer driving season, threatens to shoot prices at the pump to new records above $3 a gallon.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said there did not seem to be a significant supply interruption at this stage, but that talks have been held with Saudi Arabia and Mexico in recent days and that the two governments had pledged to help out with any shortages.
'We've had contact with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Mexico. If there are supply shortages, they have agreed to help us in trying to address those. At this point, no refineries have reported shortages in petroleum, but, obviously, if those become a factor, we will address it and address it vigorously and in a timely manner,' Snow said.
Snow had no more details about how much oil Saudi Arabia and Mexico might be willing to provide, tradearabia.com said.
He reiterated that the Bush administration was willing to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve if necessary to fill gaps in US supply, but said so far refineries have not made any such request.
'We're actually in a pretty good supply situation,' Snow said near President George W. Bush's ranch.
He said US officials would like to get the BP pipeline in Alaska up and running as soon as possible.
Faced with charges from Democratic New York Sen Charles Schumer that there has been a lack of oversight, Snow said the discovery of corrosion in the pipe was a result of pipeline inspection rules laid down by the Bush administration.
'We're happy that BP finally is making progress in addressing concerns which have been discussed with it in the past,' he said.
A team of government investigators is at the site of the pipeline problem to assist in assessing the situation.
Asked if Bush was concerned about the impact of the pipeline shutdown on prices, Snow said, 'I think any time you have a price increase, you want to try to address the root cause, and the root cause here is trying to go at it and deal with the pipeline integrity.'
'They have to be operating in a way that is safe and also environmentally sound,' he said.


World without oil: could it be a cleaner place?

Plastic, except in the most specialised applications, will be a thing of the past, replaced by some form of biodegradable, plant-based substitute.

There won't be any polystyrene meat trays, your surfboard will be made from a product derived from vegetables, and as for the common plastic carrier bag, it won't be around at all.

Sound like an environmentalist's paradise? It's not meant to. It's simply a world without oil. Or one variation of it. Another could see the continued use of oil-based plastics but all of them recycled. Maybe everything will be powered by nuclear energy, or through a vast array of water floats capturing tidal power.

The point is, a world without oil is something many believe we will see within our lifetime. Though how it will look when we finally get there is another thing.


The Age has about 600,000 daily readers.

Siemens VDO shows off eCorner motor-in-hub concept

Electric, automotive, motor in hub.

To pig or not to pig? (Reuters article on the BP Prudhoe shutdown):

Just spotted it on rss feed.

"When BP finally pigged its pipes, under government orders after a massive March oil spill, the results were shocking."

That seems sad (and odd) not pigging until ordered.

I had a girlfriend once that wouldn't "pig until ordered".   She had to go...


When I adopted the Reuters verb I certainly wasn't there ... and maybe the TOD bot can start some "latenight" threads for aspiring comedians.
I'm sorry.  There is such serious business being discussed here that sometimes you need to take some time out to look at the whole situation and laugh...

"What monstrous absurdities and paradoxes have resisted whole batteries of serious arguments, and then crumbled swiftly into dust before the ringing death-knell of a laugh!"  
~Agnes Repplier