DrumBeat: September 20, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 09/20/06 at 9:23 AM EDT]

Discovery Channel and Paul Lussier Company Start Production on 'FINAL HOUR,' Ground-Breaking Eight-Part Series Addresses World's Most Critical Issues of Sustainability

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- Discovery Channel announced today that production has begun on FINAL HOUR, an historic eight-part television series that bridges the gap between science and action surrounding the most critical issues of our time. Set as hybrid of drama and non-fiction storytelling entirely based on scientific fact, FINAL HOUR addresses core issues of climate change, poverty and fears of peak oil. Rather than merely present issues, the series uses some of the world's greatest minds to present ground-breaking solutions to sustainability and potential means to save the planet. The series premieres in Fall of 2007.

FINAL HOUR has been invited to participate in the 2006 annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. The Clinton Global Initiative is a non-partisan catalyst for action, bringing together a community of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.

Amaranth future in doubt, may hit larger funds

Fund manager Amaranth Advisors may not survive the billions of dollars in natural gas losses it disclosed this week, and larger institutional energy funds may see some investors flee in the aftermath, industry experts said on Tuesday.

Scientists tell Exxon to stop anti-climate change campaign

Scientists shocked as Arctic polar route emerges

European scientists voiced shock as they showed pictures which showed Arctic ice cover had disappeared so much last month that a ship could sail unhindered from Europe's most northerly outpost to the North Pole itself.

Global warming and peak oil

The Kremlin Activates Coal

The Russian presidential administration has developed fuel strategy for Russian electricity. Kommersant has learned that it will not emphasize growing gas supplies, of which, experts say, there is already a 30-percent deficit, but coal. Thus, Russian authorities will convert domestic consumers to coal and heating oil, which will unavoidably lead to higher electricity prices, but guarantee that Gazprom meets its export plans.

Russia tries to rein in foreign oil firms

Bolivia issues ultimatum for oil companies to renegotiate contracts

La Paz - The Bolivian government on Tuesday issued an ultimatum to oil companies, setting an October 31 deadline for them to sign new contracts following the nationalization of the country's energy resources.

Rudi on Thursday

Maybe Roubini is right and the US housing market will come down as Icarus falling from the sky, dragging everything else with it, including the demand for commodities. Under such a scenario it doesn't really matter whether oil costs a few cents more or less at the pump – it will by definition cost less over time. If US consumers stop spending the world will (be forced to) take notice and US interest rates will go down regardless whether short term gloom and doom can be avoided or not.

Economists wary of falling energy prices

Meeting ‘peak-oil threat’ will cost $20tn: US

LONDON: The world needs to spend $1tn a year in alternative fuels, starting 20 years before the peak in conventional oil production, in order to mitigate fuel shortages, a US Energy Department study showed.

Production peaks in Texas, the UK and Norway were examined as part of two studies for the department that advised on “crash course’’ efforts to cope with an eventual shortage of gasoline and other liquid fuels.

The study, led by Robert Hirsch, didn’t predict when world production will peak, though Hirsch told reporters his guess is “within the next five to 10 years.’’

Oil is a finite resource, but is a topic that draws out seemingly infinite opinions

More Companies May Dig Deeper in Search for Oil

Safety fears force two-year delay to giant BP platform

Iowa company turns to ammonia for fuel

An Iowa alternative fuel engine manufacturer has reached an agreement with an irrigation pump maker in California to make the world's first ammonia-powered irrigation pump system.

Air Force Flight Test of Syntroleum Gas-to-Liquids Fuel Successful

Syntroleum announced that its Fischer-Tropsch (FT) jet fuel has been successfully tested in a United States Air Force B-52 Stratofortress Bomber aircraft.

[Update by Leanan on 09/20/06 at 10:44 AM EDT]

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending September 15, 2006: Oil little changed after lower-than-expected crude inventory.

A renewable path for the United States (worldwatch)

China to surpass clean-energy goals by 2020

And the best:

According to a poll conducted by California State University-Sacramento professor Dennis Tootelian, more than 90% of Californians surveyed support the state's mandate to generate 20% of its power from renewable sources by the year 2010.

from New Poll Finds Californians Bullish on Renewable Energy.

Of course, with 18% "Eligible Renewables" back in 2004, maybe those surveyed were aware that this wasn't that aggessive a goal?


Don't believe any figures from CA utilities, they're worse than the oil companies, well ok, just as bad. CA has at the most about 10% renewables and outside of a fair PV program, has done nothing in the last six or seven years in getting more renewables in the ground.

California is becoming notorious for passing meaningless legislation with great goals that are simply ignored, see most recently their Global Warming Legislation. Next to DC, Sacramento is the most broken government in the republic, at some point we're all going to find out how wonderful it is to have a government completely corrupt and unable to accomplish anything - of, by, and for the corporations - even the libertarians might find this a little distasteful.

California's governmental issues are fairly unique, I think.  For historical reasons, "the people" have inordinate power in California, while politicians have relatively little.  This may sound like a dream come true, but in reality, it's left the PACs/lobbyists in charge of the state.
No, the initiative process is now as bad as the legislature, not the cause. How about the fact that there's 80 state reps for close to forty million people and 40 state senators, that's not representation.

Los Angeles County has 5 supervisors for over 10 million people -- that's local government! At the nation's founding the constitution had 35,000 people for each Congressmen. The fact is the architecture of our government is broken, the old infrastructure of our politics has been destroyed, a completely vial and corrupt process of money, polls, and television rules.

We have a broken political and government system, it desperately needs reform.




Our entire system of government is broken. We are seeing the results we are seeing because the system has become clogged with vested interests.

Where's the political Drain-O?


Hugo Chavez makes some caustic comments about the smell of sulpher that hovers around the White House and proposes to Americans that they read one of their own as a first step in clearing the odour.

Uncle Hugo is more a verbal bludgeon than great orator, and it begins to look like he will rival Fidel in the interminable length of his speeches as he approaches his dotage (yep, he'll be in power, legitimately, for a long while yet unless the US illegally topples him).

But his sense of humour and irony, his subtlety (LOL), even the accuracy of his content, puts the great white chief to shame. I'd pull out this one paragraph as being a poignant and perceptive observation:

"Yesterday, the secretary general practically gave us his speech of farewell. And he recognized that over the last 10 years, things have just gotten more complicated; hunger, poverty, violence, human rights violations have just worsened. That is the tremendous consequence of the collapse of the United Nations system and American hegemonistic pretensions."

Hugo is entertaining in an over the top kind of way, but at least he spouts some ideas and very occasional interesting observation. GW makes me shiver with his simplistic (much more so than Hugo's) mechanistic attempts - apparently mostly successful - at selected voter button pressing.

"Poignant and perceptive" Agreed. Maybe fewer of his words would seem over the top to you if you were head of state of a country the administration doesn't like and literally feared a U.S. invasion. There's certainly precedence for that fear. And then there is the question of his intended audience - not we U.S. citizens I would think.
Problem with Hugo is that he's a left-wing George Bush. His presidency in Venezuela is just a much a sign of the failure of the Venezuelan political system as George Bush's tenure is of ours.
I would have to say that Hugo has done more for the people that were not born with a silver spoon in their mouth in his country than Bush has in his.  

Bush's tax cuts for the rich,  and Hugo's education programs for the poor for example.

Doesn't matter who ultimately benefits. If the Venezuelan political system had worked they wouldn't have had to elect a left-wing populist that has alienated the middle classes, was nearly toppled by a coup, and who was corrupted the Venezuelan political process.  
"If the Venezuelan political system had worked they wouldn't have had to elect a left-wing populist.. "

I guess that answers it.

The only thing they need it would seem is Diebold Voting machines to to ensure No "Left-Wings" would get elected.

BTW,  the "Coup" that nearly toppled them was staged by the CIA,  not Unlike the successful one that changed Iran from a democractically elected president to a dictator in 1953, or the other hundred other examples.

"In 1953, Iran had a democratic government. This is a very jarring thing for us to realize now because we are not used to seeing the word "Iran" and the word "democracy" in the same sentence. The fact is, however, that Iran was developing a long, rocky but democratic path in the early 1950s. For reasons which my book explains in great detail, the United States decided, in the summer of 1953, to go in and overthrow that democratic government. The result of that coup was that the Shah was placed back on his throne. He ruled for 25 years in an increasingly brutal and repressive fashion. His tyranny resulted in an explosion of revolution in 1979 the event that we call the Islamic revolution. That brought to power a group of fanatically anti-Western clerics who turned Iran into a center for anti-Americanism and, in particular, anti-American terrorism. "


"There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know."
- Harry Truman

A coup, even with outside support, relies on internal proxies to do the bidding of the outside power else they would not be successful. An intelligence agency cannot whip up a coup out of nothing. Clearly, Venezuela is polarized to the point where the two sides view each other as illegitimate contenders for political power. Neitehr trusts each other enough to play the rules of liberal democracy. If that was the case, Chavez wouldn't have corrupted the political system and a coup wouldn't have been attempted because there would have been no internal support for it.

Same thing with Iran.

Chavez, like Bush, is a symptom of dysfunction and polarization.

"There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know."

(Yawn) Spare me your cliches.


read about the people in venezuela from their point of view...more poor people are dying and suffering since his rule than before he came into power. chavez cares more about his own agenda than the people of his country and wins hearts of poor people in other countries by throwing oil around when he should be doing more for the poor in his own country. its sad because we need that oil and allow ourselves to be insulted and disgraced because we are so dependent on the resource. chavez needs to recheck himself and there should be more news on how venezuelans are being treated. chavez is a charade and we're allowing ourselves to give into his nonsense.

"...there exists nonetheless sufficient factual evidence to prove that Chavez' regime is by far the most corrupt that Venezuela has ever seen. For instance the irresponsible manner in which the country has been indebted. In 1998 the internal outstanding debt was close to $2.000 billion, in contrast to $16.000 billion at present. Venezuela's banking system holds 64% of the internal debt at times when PDVSA's output capacity has decreased significantly. This translates into larger chunks of the budget having to be destined to service the debt, both internal and external, placing an extraordinary burden in the country's finances. The $2.500 billion deposited in the Inversion and Macro Stabilization Fund (FIEM), were pilfered by Chavez.... "

At this point, I think that the base rules of the democracy, whether in US, in Canada or elsewhere were good when the number of citizen were low enough.

In my own county we have 1 house elected representative for 45 000 people, but that's not usual, 100 000 is more usual.

Anyway, as the total number of citizen increase, the number of people represented by one representative increase even more.  That's because you cannot increase effectively the number of representative too much.  At one point even more representative does not increase actual democracy.

I can see that even in small local groups.  It is often more efficient to work with a small number of people (3 to 7) than working with larger groups (8 or more).  As the number of people increase, the increment of added value does not increase alike.  

I did not make any actual research on this, it is based on observation of a number of groups (more than 30) I have worked with in the last 8 years.

The increment of added value in a group is somewhat following  the same curve than the oil "creaming curve" that you saw in some Mathew Simmons presentation.

Also in any group of more than 10 people the following apply :

1 leader, no matter what
3 or 4 people involved more than the others
3 somewhat present but with less valuable participation
2 or 3 that we see only once in a while and giving only marginal effort.

I don't want to imply that elected representative are subject to the same distribution, but I don't think that I'm very far from the reality.

I don't think there is anything we can do about the 35,000 to 1 ratio we had long ago in a land far away.  We can hope that things improve, but even a bit of an improvement like 500,000 to 1 would be great, oh wait don't we nationally have something like that?  Ok say 300,000 to 1, that gives us about 1,000 reps and 100 senators.  GEE I really don't see any improvement there either.

We have passed the point where a Revolution could do any good.  We have gotten a National Government that will not allow a Revolution in the first place.

I have Fixed it so that people may comment on my short story about "A future as I saw it" What is still scary is I think it will be sooner rather than later.


Have fun, just remember we have the technology to do it today.

Diminishing marginal returns in politics?
New Zealand currently has one MP per about 35,000 population.  Probably one of the reasons (along with paper ballot voting) that democracy hasn't entirely died here.
California sues carmakers over global warming
'Time to hold these companies responsible,' attorney general says
MSNBC staff and news service reports
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14924286/
Updated: 12:13 a.m. MT Sept 20, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO - California filed suit against the world's largest carmakers on Wednesday, charging that greenhouse gases from their vehicles have cost the state millions of dollars.

State Attorney General Bill Lockyer said the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California was the first of its kind to seek to hold manufacturers liable for the damages caused by their vehicles' emissions.

Lockyer, a Democrat, said the complaint states that under federal and state common law the automakers have created a "public nuisance" by producing "millions of vehicles that collectively emit massive quantities of carbon dioxide."

Carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases have been linked to global warming.

Lockyer's office said that "under the law, a `public nuisance' is an unreasonable interference with a public right, or an action that interferes with or causes harm to life, health or property."

"Global warming is causing significant harm to California's environment, economy, agriculture and public health. The impacts are already costing millions of dollars and the price tag is increasing," Lockyer said in a statement. "Vehicle emissions are the single most rapidly growing source of the carbon emissions contributing to global warming, yet the federal government and automakers have refused to act. It is time to hold these companies responsible for their contribution to this crisis."

Lockyer said he would seek "tens or hundreds of millions of dollars" from the automakers.

The lawsuit names Ford, General Motors, Toyota and the North American units of DaimlerChrysler, Honda and Nissan.

Activists welcomed the move.

"Industries responsible for the pollution that drives global warming should expect more suits like this until we have effective national legislation to stop global warming," David Doniger, a staffer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

Carmakers earlier sued to block a 2005 California law that would require them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on new vehicles.

California and 11 other states are also involved in a lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The Supreme Court is expected to hear that case during its upcoming term.

Reuters and sylvester80 contributed to this report.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14924286/

Activists welcomed the move.

Let me rephrase that and add a bit:

Activists, MOST OF WHOM DRIVE, welcomed the move. "Why should I, the user, be held accountable when I can point fingers at the dealer?", one activist asked.

We are never going to get anywhere until people are willing to accept a higher degree of personal responsibility for the situation we are in.

Hello R-squared,

Good point.  Until everyone understands and then cooperates to mitigate the Tragedy of the Commons finger-pointing gets us nowhere.  Optimizing the squeeze through the Dieoff Bottleneck by detritus powerdown and biosolar powerup, along with universal cooperation on voluntary birth controls is the best strategy to reduce the coming postPeak violence.  Will we have the wisdom to proactively restructure our society to localized permaculture with 60-75% of us laboring in the fields?

Otherwise:  Requiem
It really will be back to the good old days!  Shouts of "BRING ME HIS HEAD" will ring through the land, slaves, scalps, souvenirs and trophies of all sorts, ... exciting possibilities limited only by our ingenuity.

The good news is that recycling will finally become fashionable!  We will see feral children mining the dumps for plastic to burn (Pampers) so they can heat the hovels they are forced to live in.  The strongest kids will set traps for fresh meat -- rats -- while the weaker kids will eat anything they can cram into their mouths (old shoes, styrofoam peanuts, newspaper soup).  Pandemics will sweep the world, punctuated every so often by explosions as abandoned nuke plants go critical.  Leaking dumps and tanks will spew PCBs and radioactive hazwaste into the feral food chain spawning surprising new shapes for young mothers to enjoy nursing. [54] Toxic chemical fires, blowing garbage and trash, genetic mutations, filthy water, cannibalism ...

As the Easter Islanders say: "The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth".[55]

The situation will be especially serious for a short time because the population will keep rising due to the lags inherent in the age structure and social adjustment. Then mercifully, the population will drop sharply as the death rate is driven upward by lack of food and health services.[56]  Trapped in obsolete belief systems, Americans won't even know why their society disintegrated.

A hundred thousand years from now -- once the background radiation levels drop below lethality -- a new Homo mutilus will crawl out of the caves to elect a leader. Although we have no idea what mutilus might look like, evolutionary theory can still tell us who will win the election.  He will be the best liar running on a platform to end hunger by controlling nature.

How could it be otherwise?
Recall my postings on the false detritus-fueled humanimal ecosystem that overlies our actual ecosystem.  Until we are willing to cooperate in mitigation of both sides of Jay's Thermo-Gene Collision--we will be going in the opposite direction of optimizing the coming squeeze.  Such is life.

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

Bob email me todatrelaxjane.com I live in Scottsdale and want to talk about some of the stuff happening here in regards to the ACC and Governors task force
Good News.
I welcome this suit.

Robert Rapier:
As to your comments about activitists, so what?  Their position is utterly irrelevent to the State's case.  It is relevent apparently as a chance for Robert Rapier to again place himself in some kind of ethical castle far above the "activists".  

Unfortunately the climate problem is global and urgent. We need to accomplish all sorts of steps at the same time. It is simply not workable that we shall do nothing until all people, as judged by Robert Rapier, have accepted personal responsibility.

Robert, it becomes apparent that for all your thoughtful posts, when it comes to action you stand for absolutely nothing. I say this because the only actions you find acceptable require absolute ethical purity: Let he who doesn't use oil products cast the first stone. Sorry but the efforts to protect the environment are mostly not about your personal need to judge others and protect your imaginary ethical castle.

The problem I have with this suit is that state and federal governments are accomplices to the sins they are accusing the auto industry of.  Who built the roads that the cars are driving on?  This country has an infrastructure that is incredibly innefficient in terms of energy use.  While going carless is possible in some places, its hard enough that most people just won't do it.  If our governments at all levels were a little more stingy with road construction, maybe we wouldn't have so much car-dependant urban sprawl, and more efficient public transportation would be utilized more.
It is relevent apparently as a chance for Robert Rapier to again place himself in some kind of ethical castle far above the "activists".  

It is not the ethics. It is the hypocrisy. We always wish to point fingers at someone else. We want to pass an initiative like Prop 87, because it punished oil companies and removes personal responsibility. We now want to punish auto companies for enabling our habits. It is ludicrous. What I stand for is personal responsibility. That is one reason favor a gas tax. He who uses the most fossil fuels will pay the largest penalty. Individual accountability.

Robert, it becomes apparent that for all your thoughtful posts, when it comes to action you stand for absolutely nothing.

Incidentally, I will also point out that you are far off the mark. If I don't stand for what you stand for, it doesn't mean I stand for absolutely nothing. I stand for many things, among them higher gas taxes, conservation, solar energy, biomass gasification, additional research for cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel, etc.

But I believe hypocrisy should be pointed out when it occurs, and that is the issue here. We do ourselves no favors by pointing fingers at others for our oil addiction. The problem is mine and yours, not the car company's problem. If I conserved and bought fuel-efficient transportation, the oil and automotive companies would have to adapt or die.

Do you think we should chuck CAFE then?  And just go with individual action?

... maybe get rid of those pesky catalytic covnerters as well ...

Do you think we should chuck CAFE then?  And just go with individual action?

No. Gas taxes, for instance, are not "individual action." But we could get higher gas taxes passed if individuals stopped looking to scapegoat others for this situation. Blame the oil companies, and raise their taxes. Blame the automakers, and sue them. But a gas tax? Political suicide, because the individual doesn't accept that he is the problem.

If we understood and accepted that the problem is on the demand side, we would have a real chance of implementing meaningful change. CAFE standards? A decent start, but meaningless if peak comes sooner rather than later. By the time the average mileage of all cars on the road is significantly impacted, it may be too late.

I think I must be cynical enough to let dysfunctional things pass, in a dysfunctional system, if they move in the right direction.

You insist that this is scapegoating, etc.  Maybe.  And maybe GM's bankrolling of hydrogen could be labled distraction.  And Exxon's bankrolling of climate critics could be labeled as decept.

I think you are falling into the trap of demanding the perfect here.  Are you really going to convince every actor in the economy to rational and moral action?

... maybe you ask for that, and maybe you ask for it "symmetrically" with moral vendors and consumers ... but will that "meaningful" if peak oil comes sooner rather than later?  By the time the average consumer and company is convinced, it may be too late.

I think you are falling into the trap of demanding the perfect here.  Are you really going to convince every actor in the economy to rational and moral action?

No, I don't demand it. Maybe the lawsuit does a bit of good. Maybe Prop 87 does indirectly reduce consumption. I am honestly not sure how I would vote on it, and if I demanded perfection it would be a no-brainer to vote against it.

What is frustrating for me is that we don't accept more responsibility for our personal contribution to Peak Oil and Global Warming, and therefore we have to settle for very tiny incremental changes. I don't know that we have time for that.

If everyone accepted personal responsibility, and were willing to take serious steps toward mitigation, we could postpone Peak Oil talk for a long, long time by slappping on a $4/gal gasoline tax. But such things are only possible if we stop pointing fingers at everyone else and accept personal responsibility.

I think you misinterpret that this means I advocate primarily individual actions. No. I favor mass action, but meaningful mass action is going to be tough to implement with today's climate of "not my fault."

I just my gasoline and electricity bills in half, and my gas use by a third.  Do I know that the advocates of these lawsuits have not done the same?

FWIW, there were some who made the cycnical suggestion that I should not have bought my Prius at all.  I just have kept driving my Subaru, and kicked half the purchase-price to movements like this that enforce broader action.

In a pragmatic sense, it might be a dollar better spent.

(BTW, my reaction to the old Forbes quote, as I think about it, is that GM deserves whatever it gets.)

That reminds me ... I kept this old quote from Forbes:

With so many decks steeply stacked against GM, why does it even bother with hydrogen? Hydrogen has the virtue of removing the auto industry from the environmental debate, even if it creates the same or more pollution upstream. As Burns likes to point out: "If we want to have our market capitalization approach that of other industries, we can't have the car held hostage to the debates about energy dependence, resource usage, global climate change."

Get that?  They couldn't "have the car held hostage to the debates about energy dependence, resource usage, global climate change."

Robert Rapier is doing as much as any one individual in helping us deal effectively with Peak Oil.  #1 is he is deflating myths about ethanol.  

We will NOT deal effectively with Peak Oil and post-Peak Oil if public policy is based on falsehoods and misleading myths.      We cannot make effective steps to mitigate Peak Oil if we place our highest priority on dead ends.

Thanks Alan. Sometimes I have days where I feel like I am doing some good, and sometimes I feel under siege.
Doing good and being under seige are in no way contradictory conditions. To the contrary, I think in order to really do good, you are going to have to put yourself in a situation where you are beseiged.

Keep up the work of doing good and build thicks walls. I think it is imperative that we have open, sometimes tough, discussions in order to get at the truth. I hope people don't take questions or counter arguments as attacks on them personally.

I much prefer discussing issues with people who disagree with me than having a cheering choir following me about fawning. I suspect you do too.

That's like a triple mixed metaphor or something. Crowds cheer, choirs sing, and I'm not sure what fawns.

But other than that, I agree :)

Robert keep up the good work. You are expending the energy a lot of us don't have. Don't think we don't appreciate it. We'd even help, if you asked.

fawn1 (fôn)
intr.v., fawned, fawn·ing, fawns.

To exhibit affection or attempt to please, as a dog does by wagging its tail,


Oh, see, you had to look it up, to :)

I was thinking of a deer for some reason. I would have never guessed dog. I learn a new thing every day. Thanks, buddy.

(Why the hell was I thinking about deer?)

fawn2 (fôn)
A young deer, especially one less than a year old.
A grayish yellow-brown to moderate reddish brown.
Alright, ya got me. But that was an ambush.
Jodi's Fawn.
Alright, have I known you long enough to get to to call,"I have no idea, explain that one to me?"
Don't worry, even Google couldn't do anything wity Jodi's Fawn.


But then again we always knew Stepback was smarter than us. I'm willing to bet it is some distant galaxy, a paradox in quantum physics, or remote science fiction reference.

What's your guess?

Sorry. I mis-rememberized.
The name of the movie was The Yearling.
The boy who cared for the fawn was named Jody.
Damn! That's totally obscure. That boy looks like...well, a boy. That's not working for me. Nor is the deer, I mean fawn.

Can we give Scarlett Johansson a haircut and recast her as the "boy." We'll name her Jody. We'll get a crocodile named "Irwin" to play the fawn. Whaddaya say?

When a rattler bites pa, pa kills a doe to use its organs to draw out the poison. Jody begs to keep the doe's fawn as a pet.

Oh, yeah. This is going on my DVD list. Step Back scores again.

How did I ever miss that one? Count on Stepback for these overlooked treasures.
I hope people don't take questions or counter arguments as attacks on them personally.

I certainly don't. But things like Roy wrote:

"you stand for absolutely nothing" are well beyond a counter argument. You should also see some of the hate mail I get from time to time. But, probably only about 10% of my e-mail is hate mail.

You know, every now and then someone pops up on an environmental site, or a peak oil site, to say that individual action does not matter.

To those of us who undertake individual action, that always causes some concern.  Jevons. Tragedy of the commons.  Etc.

So I looked back at past actions, and do you know what I found?

I think I found that individual action really served as a foundation and stimulus, and that when things worked the second stage was broad acceptance, and yes, regulation.

Dolphin free tuna is a classic case.  It started as a boycott and ended up as a law.

So where does this tie into your italicized text?

I think we are looking at a transition, one in which we monkeys establish new social norms, and enforce those norms upon others.  This is the point where we try to eliminate the free riders, in the economic jargon.

So no, it is not "Why should I, the user, be held accountable when I can point fingers at the dealer?"  It is "How can I leverage my behavior out to the society as a whole?"

If GM is a bad monkey, this is the way we scream and throw some .. er, leaves their way.

How many CO2 producing vehicles did the state of CA purchase in the past year and will the State of CA be suing themselves for purchasing them?
I think the state is roughly divided into, with PG&E in the north and SCE in the south?

Here in the south, with 11% geothermal alone, I'd think we beat that 10% claim pretty handily.

Also amusing that by the SCE (or whoever's) rules, "large hydro" (itself 9%) is not counted as an "eligible" renewable.

First it was a state goal. Second I wouldn't believe a figure put forth by Edison on any account. All numbers on CA energy are at best suspect, especially the California Energy Commission's which has the state's figure as 10.73%, which is actually down from the late 90s' when it was just over 11.

It was below ten a couple years ago because CA, just like the rest of the country, built almost exclusively new natural gas generation. Anyway, I'm suspect how they managed to bring it up above 10, outside a few megawatts of pv, there's hasnt been much new renewables in CA.

Do you personally consider hydro to be a renewable resource?
Not the big dams, there incredibly destructive. CA doesn't count large hydro renewable. There's good micro-hydro. Micro-generation -- wind, sun, hydro -- has great potential, of course the utilities don't want it, so they don't correctly value it. American utility system is pretty depressing.
I think big dams can be very destructive, but that does not make them non-renewable.  Once built, they catch rain and snowmelt every year, and that does not (pending climate change) deplete.  Maybe you need some silt management as well.

What you are really looking at is a non-depletion argument.

You are looking at secondary environmental damage, which should be examined carefully.  If hydro really hurts us more than coal, rip 'em out and build coal plants in their place, right?

I think we'd really be oh so lucky if we could worry about our dams in a coal-free world.

So I'm not on board.  I can't drink all the kool-aid.  I can't disbelieve SCE numbers on your say-so.  I can't classify dams as "non-renewable" just because they have secondary impacts.

Well that's good, you can believe whatever you want, what it has to do with reality is another question.

The question is how you define renewable. The big dams, well for one thing they are habitat destroyer, for one easy example, they've decimated the salmon population along the Pacific Coast. We still have to eat before taking a hot shower don't we?

The choice isn't between coal and large hydro. America's hyper-consumptive energy waste economy is despicable. We need to first look at the energy content of everything we do and figure out how to use the least amount energy and then second how we can provide the generation to do that. We'd soon find we don't need much coal and no big hydro. Doing the reverse, trying to figure out how to replace current generation to continue our immoral waste is a fool's game and already lost.

I wish Americans would abandon their hyper-consumptive energy waste economy as well.

I really do.

But short of that, I think I have to play in the real world.  If I want to tear down Hoover Dam, I have to name what will replace it.

To me it's not politics to demand impossible changes.  It's dreaming.

Well this is where eventually reality catches up to beliefs. We can believe all we want in infinite in oil supplies or that we can continue to destroy foundational eco-systems, time will tell and if the believers are right we have nothing to worry about, if not, well nature is brutal in it's accountability isn't it?
I expect the rank and file of consumers to make incremental improvements in efficiency and conservation as their prices rise.  So higher nat gas prices, or onerous rates from out-of-state coal, will contribute to that.

I don't expect us to build any more big hydro in California, just because the good places are taken.  The remaining possible is in Yosemite and even those conspicuous consumers agree building there would be a crime.

It is also very unlikely that we'll get much in-state coal added.  Right now they have to build over the boarder or on Indian Reservations.

We could work out where we stand the opposite way, for the purposes of peak oil/gas.  That is, calc the oil gas percentage of our electricity generation.  It's less than half, which is good from a preparedness standpoint.

The question, as pragmatic citizens, is where to put our efforts.  I'll back conservation as a first priority, and wind/solar second ... but don't expect those to do more than slow fossil fuel expansion.

Well you're taking the politics out of this. Consumer's have no organized power in our present system. You define reality by how large corporate actors, who control the government define reality. We have an entrenched technological infrastructure protected by established interests and great inertia. Historically, that's a recipe for disaster. The only hope is a mass transformative movement, there's historical precedent for that too, but incremental transactional change is not going to get us anywhere.
??? aren't consumers the reason we won't have Yosemite hydro?
John Muir, I think he'd be pretty insulted by the consumer label.
That begs the question.
Muir considered himself a citizen, not a consumer, big difference.
No, I meant it begged the question of who was fighting dams today.  Sure Muir's legacy lives on.  I enjoy his books and his parks myself.
Again citizens, not consumers, big difference.
I have lamented the common use of the "consumer" label for "citizens" in these very pages myself.

But in this case, I think it is valid to point out that electricity consumers are making the choices they are.

Insulted or not, if he purchased something, he is a consumer.  He might also be a citizen, but there is nothing saying you can't be both.
We're talking about how he preserved Yosemite.
No, we are talking about electricity choices umpty-ump years later.
All of the San Francisco municipal buildings, schools, traffic lights plus Muni's streetcars, cable cars and electric trolley buses are run off of Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite Park, with the surplus sold to an irrigation district.

SF would like to expand the existing power plant but the Park Service won't let them.  So renewable energy goes to waste and we burn NG and coal instead.

I would like to comment more, but limited time ATM.

Innergex II wins a power purchase agreement for a 49.9-MW hydroelectric project
Friday July 28, 3:54 pm ET

LONGUEUIL, QC, July 28 CNW Telbec - Innergex II Income Fund ("Innergex II"), a private open-ended trust, is a successful proponent of BC Hydro's 2006 Call for Tenders for the 49.9-MW Kwoeik Creek hydroelectric project.

Kwoeik Creek hydroelectric project is a run-of-the river facility located on Kwoeik Creek, near Lytton, within the traditional territory of the Kanaka Bar Indian Band in British Columbia. Innergex II is in partnership with Kanaka Bar Indian Band to achieve this project representing an investment of more than $100 million. The project comprises two turbines of a total installed capacity of 49.9 MW and will produce 147,450 MW-hr of firm energy annually, beginning in November 2010. The construction is expected to begin in December 2007, after obtaining all permits and approvals.

Now why 49.9 MW  for this new, run-of-the-river hydropower project ?

Because 49.9 MW is "good" small hydro and 50 MW is "bad" large hydro.  Absent such idiocies, the project would have been built as a 65 or 70 MW project.  PC destroys renewable energy.

This is more an example of bureaucracy than PC. Bureaucracy whether public or private is a much a bigger problem than PC. Bureaucracy is the fount of inertia and as far as energy, we'll never change anything without an equal and then greater response to the present inertia.
The question, as pragmatic citizens, is where to put our efforts.

I agree with you in that Conservation, wind and solar seem to be the most agreeable solutions.

I'm also like you in that I don't think Hydro is a horrible option.  It has problems, but the question is, are those problems better or worse than the alternatives.  If forced to choose between coal versus hydro, which one is the better option.  Coal I think is by far WAY more destructive both in feeding and polluting stages compared to hydro.  People are going to demand a certain level of energy even if we do conserve.  So to provide that energy we need as benevolent a method as possible to generate the needed amount.

That being said, we still don't know what the full impact of large scale windfarms and solar farms might have on our environment either.  They appear to be more benevolent to the environment, but then we have not implemented them on the same scale that we have with other technologies.  What if it turns out that large scale Windfarms alter the weather patterns of a given region by interfering with the flow of low and high pressure fronts.

What if it turns out that massive solar farms cause unintended heating or cooling of the air, or ground which in turn impact the climate in the systems that surround that farm.

The law of unintended consequences has not been anywhere near fully tested in regards to these emerging alternative energy industries.

An article printed several years back in the Houston Chronicle(If I remember right) pointed to a study meteorologists were doing in tracking storms and how they interact with large manmade construction (primarily highways).  It found that there was an impact on the heat released from highways, and the movement of small storm systems trying to cross them.  On I45(4 to 8 lanes depending on which stretch you are talking about and if you include the notorious Houston feeder roads which flank the highway) it was found that small storm systems would actually change course in small degrees acting as if there was a wall being placed right over the highway.  Temp. Readings found exactly that... compared to the ground surrounding the highway, the highway was several degrees warmer and that heat was escaping upward to form a warm wall barrier.

Whose to say these "renewables" don't also have some detrimental effect or at the very least an impact on our environment.  Chances are that they do have some effect, and that the effect will be magnified as they become more prevalent.  The question then becomes one of is this solution better or worse than the alternative.  We can't mitigate all risks, we can just minimize them, and if environmentalists and peak energy critics don't come to grips with this fact, then its likely the worse options such as coal and natural gas are likely to be adopted to solve our energy needs.

I agree with your sentiment


I think the vast majority of evidence is the effects of wind and PV will be localised.

Wind the big risk is bird and bat strikes.  In particular certain species of migratory bats seem attracted to wind turbines-- we don't know why.

Except in the very high risk migration corridors, I think we have to bite the bullet and take the risk.  A lot of bird species are doomed in any case if global warming continues.

As to PV and wind changing the weather: well, maybe locally.  But since they are exploiting energy that is already there, I don't see it making a huge difference.  not even as much as the 'heat sinks' that our urban structures cause.

I think we have to bite the bullet and take the risk.  A lot of bird species are doomed in any case if global warming continues.

Exactly.  When viewed from a risk management perspective, Solar, Wind, and even Hydro is less threatening to our futures than fossile fuels.

What bugs me about some environmentalists is that they seem too apt to shoot down any alternative if it isn't somehow "perfect".  Problem for them and the rest of us humans is we don't have time or knowledge for "perfect" solutions.  So we need to buck up and try to take the least imperfect solutions we have available.

If the whole peak oil issue we're gathering around, the entire energy and ecosystem crisis, points out one thing, it is that politics as we experience and execute it in our daily lives, in our neck of the globe, is not based on reality.

It is our politics that is based on dreaming, on hallucinations of neverending and increasing growth in wealth and BTU availability, where every snag we hit can and will be overcome by innovations that grow seemingly effortlessly from our superior science and technological abilities.

What we conveniently overlook is that neither our science nor our politics is able to comprehend, and act according to, the most basic physical laws we know: thermodynamics.

That is the tragedy of mankind: possessing the brains to formulate what amounts to a pretty brilliant understanding of our surroundings, but not the ability to apply that same understanding.

And so is man smarter than yeast? Yes, definitely, but it makes zero difference in the end, because it is not our intelligence that drives us. If it were, we would not be in this mess.

We understand the real world, but we are unable to live in it.

I think on some levels we do ok living in reality. But I think we're at a point in history, where our industrial myths our breaking down. It's a certain decadence to simply say that because our myths no longer work the future is fucked, and make no mistake on this criteria America 2006 is a decadent place. It's not up to us to decide if we failed, it's up to us to work as hard as possible incorporating new or old understandings and then history will be our judge, that's all the future asks.
There is no doubt that we have a high level of dysfunction in California and the national government.  But that dysfunction does not uniformly favor one group.

Coal advocates do not get everything they wish for, as an example.

FWIW, I think I've seen an acceleration of response in the last couple years to energy problems.  That would make straight-line extrapolations questionable.  We need to know if the acceleration will continue, or fall back.

What if those solar stirling engines they are putting out in the desert really work?

I don't think it is a question of living in reality or living in fantasy. I think it is a question of living in the past, or living in the present.

When my grandmother was a child, the radio was cutting edge technology. She saw the invention of the home refridgerator. Antibiotics. Vaccines. TV. Jet planes. Landing on the moon.

The unthinkable was done over and over again.

I feel it is important to draw the distinction between fantasy and past history because it allows easier communication. You can say "I know your intution and experience say there will always be growth, let me show you the energy curve that has happened your whole life" and then show them the energy curve coming.

We know that the years of past experience just yield a mirage of the future, but those years are more real for most people than some dry graphs and equations.

BTW, I do support conservation efforts every chance I get, and have thrown a link to this presentation more than once:


So better coal than hydro is your choice.

Mine would be expanding current hydro as much as feasible; extracting 5% to 10% more power from existing power plants and building more pumped storage, dams (fewer) and run-of-river schemes (more potential).  In some special places, replace dams with run-of-river plus pumped storage elsewhere. plus wind, solar, geothermal & biomass with the minimum nuke needed (~22%) AND ZERO COAL !

Roughly (by energy and 80% of current North American generation)

52% wind
12% hydro
-19% Pumped Storage
+15% Pumped Storage
22% Nuke
18% geothermal, solar thermal, PV, biomass
0% coal
Some combined cycle NG kept for extreme cases of heat, cold & drought (perhaps 1/4 the CO2/MWh of coal)

North American HV DC grid to shift power around.

Drink the Koo-aid!!!
I have a question, I've heard this repeatedly and never have gotten a good explanation of why.  Why are hydro dams considered only partially renewable?  I certainly understand their limits to scale, and regional variability. But so long as you receive adequate rain/snow water to replace what has been used, they seem to be able run pretty much indefinitely (within reason of course) I personally haven't heard a good argument against hydro, besides that they are capital intensive, and cause problems for some fish, that couldn't be overcome with a bit of ingenuity. But for some reason they always seem to be the "black sheep" of the renewable alternatives.
It depends on how you define renewable. In CA, big hydro isn't considered renewable because of the eco-system devistation it causes.
Ok then, i see the disconnect. I always saw something as renewable so long as it was able to replenish it self year after year, with out too much investment on our part.  I.E. wind blowing, sun shining, or rain falling.  Hydro seems to fit that quite well.  Again with limits like the rest.  As for the environmental damage, i would agree that not every river is ideal for a "hover dam", but one must concede, the damage that a dam causes is very local.  IMO hydro is a very important part of the energy picture, and should remain so.  
one must concede, the damage that a dam causes is very local.

No this isn't true, all "local" ecosystems combine to form the planet. Again an easy example, the dams on the West coast have decimated the Pacific salmon populations, which then harms everything tied to it. We don't deal with complexity well and the enviroment is a complex system, which we still little understand.

 Ok, so decimated salmon population bodes bad for local, and by proxy, global eco system.  That is fine, and I don't try to argue that. But how is this for a possible solultion.  Design the hydro plants to accommodate local fish population.  (don't ask me for specifics, i'm not a hydro engineer, but it cant be to terribly complicated) and or, select only certain river systems for damming and relocate existing migratory routes to accommodate larger or complicated dams.  From my understanding, nature does a pretty good job of that anyway.  There you go, we have hydro, and fish have spawning grounds.  Now I'm sure there are dozens of potential solutions for this problem, some more complicated than others, but the point is they can work.  Simply design it into the system.  But in the end, hydro is still renewable.  Even if the fish move on, rain will still fall.  And I'll take a few locally unconvinced fish and over more coal, more oil, more nat gas, any day of the week.
Incidentally, I believe one solution for the Columbia River dam system is to have salmon trucked around the dams. This is a case where the solution to a dam-induced problem is via the use of fossil fuels.


I appreciate the irony, but somehow i doubt that the emissions from trucking the fish compare to a similar scale coal plant.  Maybe though.   Just incase i'm boycotting salmon until those fish figure out a more environmentally friendly way of spawning ;-)
JetJockey, it's not just the fish migrating. The dams block the river from flowing downstream. This means water and nutrients don't get past the dam. The river downstream quickly becomes a stagnant pond. Fish die. Wildlife who depend on the river are forced to migrate and/or die. Vegetation -whether forest, meadow, or plain -starts to suffer. People who live downstream lose their source of drinking water, and farms their source of irrigation water. Entire towns dry up and blow away in the extreme cases. In the worst case scenario, the area below the dam can become a desert. Then you have the problems with that river not running into the next river, and so on and so forth until you hit the sea. So all those rivers run lower from that point on, and that affects their ecosystems, people, wildlife, etc. It affects things all the way down to the sea and beyond, because that water and nutrients no longer get there. Marshes, floodplains, and coastal habitats are no longer refreshed.
Sound trivial? Consider this: one of the main reasons New Orleans is sinking, aside from the rising sea level, is that silt no longer reaches the coast from the Mississippi river thanks to all the dams and canals.
so, perhaps we should be smarter where we build our cities and our dams. but, hydro is still renewable, we just have to be smart about it.  places where the worst case scenario is likely, we should probably think twice about building massive dam, but there are plenty of locations where hydro can and does help reduce or use of other types of power plants.   Maybe one day we wont need hydro.  but for now the only alternative is another fossil power plant.  so again, my vote is for hydro.  At least for now.  
Consider this: one of the main reasons New Orleans is sinking, aside from the rising sea level, is that silt no longer reaches the coast from the Mississippi river thanks to all the dams and canals.

Umm while I don't dismiss your earlier argument about the interconnectivity of river eco systems, you just undid yourself with the New Orleans example.

There is plenty of mud and crap coming out of the Missippi, so much in fact that I can go down to the beach here in Galveston Texas and see it.  On satellite pictures you can see a MONSTER plume of mud and silt spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.

New Orleans is sinking because they built a levy system, and series of dams around the city to protect the city from Mississippi flood waters and GoM tidal/hurricane flooding.  New Orleans is blocking the silt locally only.  But that shouldn't be confused with the whole of the Mississippi being dammed up and not producing silt down river because that is out and out false.

For a real pretty picture of the Plumes check out

Huh? "Dams block the river from flowing downstream"? I live a couple of miles from a major dam (Shasta Dam in California), and the Sacramento River is still running. They have to let the water that goes through the turbines go somewhere, right? And in fall they have to dump water just to make room for the next winter's rain and snowfall.
I think ecosystem impacts are important, but large hydro fails the renewable standard on the basis of cost vs. life of use.  Dams do not function indefinitely; while rates of siltation vary, some dams will silt completely in under a century.  There are estimates of less than three decades of productive use for some dams in the Philippines, and Three Gorges will begin experiencing problems in 50 to 80 years at present levels of deforestation in the drainage basin.
Dams do not function indefinitely

If that is the definition, then none of the supposed "renewables" are renewable.  All will require maintenance to keep into operation.

Are Solar Panels considered renewable?  I would argue that as dust and sand collects on them, that their eventual usefulness will be degraded.  As such, I expect there will be workers whose jobs is to keep Solar Panels clean.

Perhaps the problem with Hydro power isn't whether or not its renewable (I think it obviously is), but rather how do we build them in such a manner as to be more maintenance and ecosystem friendly.  If we could flush the silt down river instead of letting it build up, would that then solve the problem?

Essentially it is the cost vs. life of use.  

Yes, all renewables eventually fail, but large dams represent a massive investment of manpower, equipment and concrete.  For those investments to be considered renewable, the structure must, in my opinion, perform for an extended period.  Consider the embodied energy vs. power production over the life of the structure.  Consider the difficulty in recycling the structure.  There are solar panels from the early sixties which still perform quite well; approximately 70-80% of rated power with only very gradual declines in power production.  No one really knows how long modern solar panels will last, but a century seems possible, maybe longer.

Certain sites are more siltation-friendly, and yes, dams can be designed to flush silt to some degree.  Typically, flushing sediments obviates other dam functions like: flood control, reservoir, and steady power production because it is done during maximum flow periods.  Indeed, flushing works mostly at the dam end; sedimentation occurring in the distal portions of the reservoir is extremely difficult to address.  

Given that many desert dams are distant from end users, the transmission losses also effect the "renewable-ness" of dams.  4000 watts of rooftop solar may be worth twice the dam-generated electricity due to distributed generation factors.

That said, I am not against hydroelectric power; but I do understand why its renewable credentials are doubted in some quarters.

I see no reason why you cannot dredge a reservoir behind a dam wall. It could be an unmanned remote submersible 'hoover'. Silt could be strained on the bank to make topsoil. It's not rocket science.
I think you need to consider issues of scale; how many cubic meters of sediment arrive each year?  Millions? Billions?  Think of the amount of work done by all that water falling over the entire drainage basin; all of the physical and chemical erosion.  

Dredging costs, either by clamshell or suction, are significant and the energy spent dredging most be "charged" against the dams production.

I think you've described it in a nutshell.  Those other problems reduce their "branding" as renewable.

FWIW, I think the scale and types of damage that large dams do are incredebly dependent upon the environmental setting, and the type of pre-fill preparation that is done.

For instance, if you are drowning a forest, you want to harvest every stick of that biomass and use it effectively, rather than just soak it and let it bubble away as co2 and ch4.

See my post below. :o)
(not the desert dams have lower drowned vegitation problems)
All hydro systems eventually silt up. Some take as long as a hundred years but some silt up in a couple of decades. It depends on how much silt is in the water. Swift water carries the silt to slow standing water and there it settles to the bottom. That is what you have above tall hydro dams. And that is why they are only partially renewable.
And how many windmills would need replacing after 100 years?  
That is a better explanation.  And on technical grounds i can understand why one would consider that. And I'm sorry to continue to beat a dead horse, but wouldn't that be a maintenance issue.  Maybe i'm incorrect, but wouldn't that be like saying wind isn't renewable because turbines break, or solar isn't renewable because solar cells fail.  The source of the energy is what defines what is renewable.  All systems we create will fail eventually.  Now, I wonder how much energy is required to "unsilt" the reservior.  Or if there are any designs that could prevent silt or at least slow it down.  Oh well, i guess that would be for the hydro drum.
Your time frames are too short.  Some dams will not silt up for centuries.  I don't know of any facing a two decade lifespan, though I suppose there might be some small dams somewhere that fit that frame.  I believe water temperature and the geology of the watershed are the major determining factors for the rate that silting occurs.

In an earlier post, someone said (Alanfrombigeasy?) that a silted-up dam, rendered into a waterfall, could still provide power using run of the river technology.  I would be interested if anyone has any comparative data on this.  Certainly Niagara Falls generates a lot of electricity, and substituting rock for sand, it has the appearance of a silted dam.

Is silting ultimately a problem for electricity generation?  I would think so since a reservoir allows for optimal control over the rate of flow through turbines and can therefore respond to fluctuating demand, as well as provide a 'reservoir' for fluctuating wind energy, as Sharman's paper on Danish windpower/neighbouring country hydropower demonstrates.  Still, it seems logical that, since the work is provided by falling water, electricity can still be generated as long as the concrete/dam material endures.

Nonetheless, there are many reasons to question the ultimate value to society of electricity from at least some dams.  For thousands of years, the Egyptians successfully used irrigation to support rich agricultural production alongside the Nile.  Annual flooding replenished nutrients and flushed salts into the sea.  The Aswan Dam changed this equasion and now salinity is emerging as a problem, as well as dependence on synthetic fertilizers.  Is the electricity worth the price?

There's a topic for someone's dissertation.

What if we went back to paddle wheels connected to rivers?  I mean if you had twenty businesses next to a river, one wouldnt affect the other would it?  The water turns the wheel and keeps going.  It turns the next wheel and isn't affected by the last wheel, or is it?  Anyone know what the aggregate affect of tons of paddle wheels on a river would be?

It seems to avoid the downstream user problems of dams, yet provide localized power in the business/home that needs it.

A paddle wheel would slow the river, but the amount would be negligible.  Even 20 paddle wheels would probably be negligible.  The thing is, people are going to want to squeeze every bit of energy out of the project that they can, and one paddle wheel is a nice energy source, but it is still pretty modest, so they can either pack the river with paddle wheels to the point that the current speed was altered, or you could just build a dam and force all the water through a turbine, which also affects the flow, but maximizes energy capture.  

Your idea would have a minimal environmental impact because it would only take a small portion of the energy carried by the river.  This is why alot of us here favor scaling down energy consumption first, and then scaling up renewables.

Thanks for the clarification.  So the reason we dont use wheels anymore is b/c dams capture energy more efficiently?  I wonder about this from an Econ PV, since there are many externalized costs not figured into dams (ie. salmon counts going down and working it's way through the food chain).
Ah, but the natural environment is counted in econ schemes. Neither is pollution or anything of the sort -the natural environment is considered infinite and valueless -unless you develop it.

Or so I remember from econ.

What kind of world is it where a strip mall has more value than a forest?

I don't know whether or not a dam would be more efficient than a paddle wheel.  Maybe an engineer could answer that.  But it would be on a smaller scale, which I think is the key.  Whether its PV, wind, solar, hydro, biomass, oil, etc, the less you take out of the system, the smaller the impact you have.  Running your home on a home-made paddle wheel would limit the amount of energy you consume.

Unfortunately, as you pointed out the other day, the rules of economics consider natural resources to be infinite, so under those rules, the paddle wheel is probably not economically viable.

Ok, so I bring up econ and we got off on infinite resources.  I never said anything about infinite resources, as a matter of fact I am the guy bitching about that to my econ professors.

Step out side that box.  I saying from econ we learn about externalized costs associated with large scale macro damage that isn't counted per unit b/c the margins are fuzzy.  However when you aggregate that up to the system wide numbers and you see the big picture.  Think of the damage done to the ecosystem through burning fossil fuels.  The people who sell it don't bear the cost of damage that it does, we as a people and now planet, do.  We pay in increased breathing diseases, problems ,illnesses etc.  

The whole gammit of stuff that is caused by burning this crap is paid for by each individual, thus the true costs to burn fossil fuel per gallon isn't $3 it's probably significantly higher.  How high who knows, but to even grasp at that kind of number you need good data that correlates well between past generation #'s compared to now.  This is why there are few econ studies on what the true cost is.

I think you misunderstood my comment.  I wasn't accusing you of calling natural resources infinite.  I know it was your professor who said that, and I was trying to give you credit for seeing through a flawed assumption that is prevalent in your academic field, but I was in a hurry and articulated it very poorly.  I actually think your field needs more people like you to challenge some of the beliefs that may not always be applicable.
Falcon Lake on the Rio Grande began to silt up in less than two decades after it was built. Lake Eufaula, above the Walter F. George Lock and Dam on the Chattahoochee River, must be continually dredged to remove the silt. The Dam was built in the early sixties.

The above link is about the silting of Lake Eufaula but it also contains a picture of the very silted up Falcon Lake. It is not much of a lake anymore, mostly silt.

The amount of silting depends on several things, primarily the amount of silt carried by the river. For this reason the Dams on the Tennessee river silt up very slowely. There are many dams on the river therefore the silt dumped in any reservoir must come primarily from feeder rivers downstream of the last upstream dam. That is the silt in the entire Tennessee River will be dumped in a dozen or so reservoirs, reducing the silt in any one reservoir. But this is not so for many other man made reservoirs. And yes some do silt up in as little as two decades, and many silt up in four or five decades.

From your linked article:
Just one cubic meter of silt displaces 264 gallons of water, according to Hall, who works for the Pine Mountain Soil & Water Conservation District.

Heh, heh. He could have just as easily said one cubic meter of silt displaces 61023 cubic inches of water ;^)

All hydro systems do NOT silt up.

Few, in any, run-of-river projects do.  Clean water rivers do not silt up (nothing measurable after 60+ years on the Sog in Iceland for example.

Others have good silt regimes and flush once a year to once a decade.

Karahnjukar has a 400 year life span and could, if they limited flushing turn a dead river today (all natural) into a salmon river by limiting flushing to every third year or so.

All reseroirs eventually silt up. It depends on your timeframe. Very clean rivers may take centuries to silt up. Very dirty rivers, like the Rio Grande, silt up in just a few decades. The Falcon Lake is an example.

Even all lakes are temporary and after a few tens of thousands of years silt up. The Great Lakes, carved out by the last Ice Age, will silt up in about a hundred thousand years or so. If swift water carries silt to still water where it settles, it will eventually silt up. End of story.

Dams are the source of many types of pollution. Lead, cadmium and other metals, but especially mercury, cause contamination of wildlife and people. the Cree in Quebec can tell you stories.

And then there's this; what is most renewable about dams is their emission of greenhouse gases.

Hydroelectric power's dirty secret revealed

New Scientist, Feb '05

Hydroelectric dams produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, and in some cases produce more of these greenhouse gases than power plants running on fossil fuels. Carbon emissions vary from dam to dam, says Philip Fearnside from Brazil's National Institute for Research in the Amazon in Manaus. "But we do know that there are enough emissions to worry about."

In a study to be published in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Fearnside estimates that in 1990 the greenhouse effect of emissions from the Curuá-Una dam in Pará, Brazil, was more than three-and-a-half times what would have been produced by generating the same amount of electricity from oil.

This is because large amounts of carbon tied up in trees and other plants are released when the reservoir is initially flooded and the plants rot. Then after this first pulse of decay, plant matter settling on the reservoir's bottom decomposes without oxygen, resulting in a build-up of dissolved methane. This is released into the atmosphere when water passes through the dam's turbines.

Seasonal changes in water depth mean there is a continuous supply of decaying material. In the dry season plants colonise the banks of the reservoir only to be engulfed when the water level rises. For shallow-shelving reservoirs these "drawdown" regions can account for several thousand square kilometres.

I note that the article refers to the relative greenhouse effect for 1990.  What is the situation today?  What will it be in 10 years from now?

As for the Cree, their health problems relate overwhelmingly to cultural discontinuity and economic marginalization, leading to a loss of self-esteem and the consequences therefrom. Moreover, many suffer the effects of a disastrous adoption of the worst of 'western' food to their dietary regime, not necessarily from choice.  These problems affect Cree and other native peoples living far away from any Hydro Electric watersheds or dams, as well as those of Northern Quebec.

There are problems with damming rivers, to be sure.  Some situations are much worse than others. I favour the removal of many dams.  But are we going to have a greater or lesser problem with lead, mercury and cadmium pollution without hydro-electricity?

I note that the article refers to the relative greenhouse effect for 1990.  What is the situation today?  What will it be in 10 years from now?

The emissions are there to stay, and continue, that's what the article says quire clearly. No difference 10 years from now. I don't see how that could be unclear if you read it.

As for the Cree, their health problems relate overwhelmingly to cultural discontinuity and economic marginalization, leading to a loss of self-esteem and the consequences therefrom. Moreover, many suffer the effects of a disastrous adoption of the worst of 'western' food to their dietary regime, not necessarily from choice.  These problems affect Cree and other native peoples living far away from any Hydro Electric watersheds or dams, as well as those of Northern Quebec.

There are large mercury pollution problems in the population that lives close to these projects. Dragging in other 'cultural' problems is plain weird, and has no connection to the issue. This is a very specific form of pollution, that relates directly to hydro dams. Why not read what they have to say? They can explain their health problems better than you can, including this one.

There are problems with damming rivers, to be sure.  Some situations are much worse than others. I favour the removal of many dams.  But are we going to have a greater or lesser problem with lead, mercury and cadmium pollution without hydro-electricity?

The mercury is specifically released through the inundation of large amounts of land and land-based vegetation. It would under 'normal' circumstances remain in the soil and plants. Nothing ambiguous about it. Did you read it at all?

'emissions'. From plants dying on the shore of a hypothetical man made lake. Somehow this doesn't seem like a pressing issue. Wouldn't the plants absorb carbon when growing? Then just release it if they died after being inundated?
Doesn't this happen in every wetland every year?

The trees decay once and release greenhouse emissions once. After a number of years the amount of CO2 and methane emissions changes.  Logically it declines at some point.
As is pointed out above, the reqrowth and death of plantlife on the shoreline involves sequestration and release.

On the other hand, the emissions from hydrocarbon generated electricity increase as the quality of the hydrocarbon decreases and as the amount of hydrocarbon consumed to produce the fuel increases.

Therefore overtime the equasion changes.  The ratio provided for the dam in South America in relation to hydro-carbon generated electricity is not stagnant and logically changes in favour, from an emissions standpoint, of the hydro electric dam.  So I asked you if you could provide information on the rate of change in this ratio.

I'm well aware of the adverse affects of mercury contamination from hydro development for Cree and others, especially those dependent on traditional fisheries.  I am also aware that the mercury contamination is a relatively minor cause of poor physical and mental health outcomes experienced by first nations since Europeans began the rape of this continent.  I was only trying to provide context and did not wish to diminish the nefarious effects of mercury contamination, especially for those people who were unaware that their traditional fish diet was post reservoir killing them.

Are we going to have a greater or lesser problem with mercury and other contaminants without hydro-electricity?  I ask this question not in the sense of dam or no dam, but in the sense of hydro-electricity or coal-generated electricity, coal being the evident worldwide preferred option, when alternatives are denied.  I should have been clearer.  

I must say that I couldn't find anything on the link to the Cree website re mercury pollution.  Perhaps I missed it.  I did note comments from various representatives of the Cree relating to the economic opportunities presented by hydro development.  It is perhaps regrettable that so much has been lost, but life goes on and I'm glad that the Cree are insisting on leading their own way out of the wilderness of despair that has afflicted so many of their communities in recent decades.  

It's not obvious to me where those metals you name would come from.  Are they in the natural river-run of silt, but normally washed out of the river?
Mercury exists widely in the environment.  In newly flooded areas it is leached out of the soil.  Combining with carbon it forms methyl mercury which is concentrated up the marine food chain. People eat the predatory fish at the top of the marine food chain.

I would be interested in learning if the rate of methyl mercury formation declined over time, it seems logical that it would,  and if methyl mercury deteriorates or is dispersed over time.  Maybe someone has some leads?

Thanks.  I would not have guessed.
I would have guessed that coal was related to the mercury exposure around James Bay in two ways.  

Direct mercury emmissions from coal burning and fell in an area with few natural buffers/adsorption agents.  And the acid rain allows leaching from the ground (this has been noted in the US NE and most boreal rains are naturally neutral.  Add acid rain from coal burning > leaching).

Hydro power is only "partially renewable" in large part because of the "silting" problem:  over time, the reservoir behind the dam fills up with silt from the river (this might seem like it would require HUGE amounts of silt--it does, but consider how much silt it took to build up the giant deltas of the Mississippi or the Nile).  When the reservoir silts up to the top of the dam, then water flows over the top, undercuts the base of the dam, and it destroys itself.  So, to prevent this, it is necessary to invest ever-increasing energy into de-silting.  At some point the energy required in de-silting operations exceeds that gained through hydropower generation.  Estimates for the useful life of some of the major US dams are about 150 years without major de-silting.  So massive hydropower projects tend to be only "partially renewable" for this reason...
Assuming that water flowing over the top of dam is a problem which leads to unavoidable undercutting, it doesn't strike me that it would be that much of problem to divert the water through tunnels/penstocks.  

I would be interested if you can provide evidence that undercutting is a real problem.  

If a dam silts up, the intake will likely need to be reworked and the project turned into a run-of-river scheme.  More turbines may need to be added due to the greater variability of the water flow.

Done properly, the silt basin could turn into fine farmland.

Not the big dams, there incredibly destructive. CA doesn't count large hydro renewable.

I've got to believe that the equivalent megawattage in distributed small dams would have more environmental impact than one large one.

It's like thinking that once we go back to the stone age, we'll all just be camping out and cooking our dinners over six billion wood fires. Probably won't really be an improvement over fossil fuel...

Note to outsiders, in California for some reason, "large hydro" is not a renewable energy source, but "small hydro" is.

I can see the utility of funding small hydro along with other alternatives, and I can see that for the purposes of funding and reward people would make that distinction.

BUT, as a consumer wanting to get off fossil fuels, do we really count large hydro as non-renewable?  I hope not.

Hi Odo,

I've always enjoyed your posts.

"BUT, as a consumer wanting to get off fossil fuels, do we really count large hydro as non-renewable?  I hope not."

Large hydro is a tough one. I think technically that it does fit in the "renewables" category. However, it is a renewable that is demonstrably highly destructive to ecosystems. This goes beyond fish runs. The reduction of salmon along many Western rivers apparently has had large-scale systemic consequences for the terrestrial ecosystems that the rivers course through. One set of links includes bears eating salmon, then carrying all that good fishy stuff in their gut as they travel inland, and finally expelling the associated nutrients (a bear processed "fish fertilizer", if you will) throughout the surrounding forests. If I remember correctly, there apparently has been a forest response to the loss of these nutrients, with reduced growth.

This is just one example of what large-scale changes on major rivers can do. Given the time scale of nutrient cycling, I think we're just beginning to see the kinds of effects that large hydro projects can have.

If you can locate a few, read some of these peer-reviewed articles.


Thanks, and I agree.  It comes down to how necessary this evil really is.  Or how evil this necessity is?
People keep ignoring the very significant fact that CA has periodic drought episodes that essentially dry up the hydro power. Do we need backup power for when the dams go down?

The current Tanzania situation should be sobering. 60% of their power is hydro, the dams are drying up, and the economy is devastated. This is real, not a concept or concern to be dismissed.

Yeah, it'll get interesting when the next "mother of all droughts" hits. Something akin to 1976-77, or earlier events. 1976-77 was a big one for the entire West. I understand that hydrologists are rather worried about the next big drought, because the demand on water supply is so high in California these days.


Thanks for the links. People also need to realize that available power capacity drops as the reservoir level drops, reducing the head on the water. Also droughts lead to energy crisis situations lasting months or years, not hours or days.
Yes, that's right. But you are talking about normal droughts. There is an elephant in the room. Global warming. Climate change. When the climate changes none of the historical data means squat anymore.
Of course those who plan on getting electricity from their project for 100 or 400 or 1000 years and think climate change is on the same time scale, if it exists at all, can continue with their dreaming.
Great sites!  Thank you.

The point that the whole US was much dryer in the mid 1500s is fascinating and is part of the 'great mystery'.

To wit, it is now estimated that the population of North and South America in 1491 was 10 times what we thought it was- -there were substantial urban communities in the Midwest for example.  Yet by the time colonisation began in earnest in the mid 1500s, and in the 1600s in North America, much of the population was gone-- the Midwest was governed by nomads.

Part of the answer is disease.  Smallpox in particular.  When George Vancouver toured the Pacific Northwest in the late 1780s (I think) he found villages that were abandoned, so many of their inhabitants had died of smallpox.

It is hypothesised that smallpox (and perhaps various forms of Asian flu) brought by the white man devastated native communities.

But perhaps climate change is another part of the story.

Also the point made that California has endured 2 century droughts.

In the short run, the decision could be made to give up on agriculture in California.  I read that actual domestic use isn't a big part of the whole picture.

Something similar will happen in the US southwest, the Ogala Aquifer states.  The Aquifer is rapidly being depleted, and urbanisation is consuming all of the existing water resources.

But making the choice to give up agriculture is hard.  Very hard.  Politically and socially. I don't see it happening without a fight.

Good planning requires backup generation, or users who agree to reduce demand (aluminum smelters).

Thailand is going to 100% hydro in wet years, 95% in average years and 70% in dry years.  They are planning on keeping their fossil fuel plants in mothballs for dry years.

In the specific case of Africa, the 44 GW of Grand Inga could support the shortfalls on the continent.  The Congo watershed is split in half by the equator, so it has a uniquely stable flow.  Worst case in 120 years is about 60% of average.  Annual minimum is a bit more than half of annual maximum.

They are talking about seasonal production of ammonia with annual excess.

Wind has about half the annual variation of rainfall, and low wind years do not seem tied to low water years.  Another part of the marriage of the two.

Informative post, thanks. I am mainly not interested in more huge canyon filling/destroying dams in CA, but I support smaller projects that are less destructive and agree that arbitrary cut-offs at 50mW are ridiculous. I get tired of some ppl arguing that building big dams will necessarily answer our problems or even work. For example, there are big advocates of a new Auburn dam on the American River that might never fill, wld cost over 5 billion and destroy an unbelievable amount of canyon land. I think it wouild be a huge waste/loss.
What's the backup plan for global warming?
Reminds me of one more problem with dams. In tropical areas especially, but also anywhere the flooded area supported vegetation, there are large releases of methane.
And one more obvious one: Every post above except for the guy who wants to keep his canyon (yes, it's personal) ascribes zero value to the flooded land. The people displaced. The critters displaced. How does this blindspot perpetuate itself? It's a normative blindspot in these discussions but I just don't get it.
The methane thing was why I mentioned the dam's environment and the degree of land preparation (biomass collection).

We could also add back in the plusses.  People built dams for a variety of reasons, well before there was electric power generation.

Yes dams have been around a long time. Can anyone think of a large one before electrical power generation?
That's a trick question ;-), because large scale construction equipment evolved about the same time as electric power generation.

But there was a very ancient example of large scale water management in China.  Something about an engineer who later became a saint, or something?  ... Discovery Chanel.

Maybe this relates:


Amusing snippet:

"Judging from these records, the dam's water levels during Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) were lower than in modern times, Li said."

Anyway, flood control, levies, irrigation, are as old as civilization.

Yup it's especially personal now that I live here, but I felt the same way before. I posted on my concerns for habitat and otehr environmental concerns on an earlier thread.
I'm completely with you. Yours is what I would expect as the normal response. How we get to the point where we drown landscapes, whole regions, because it looks good on some spreadsheet.........

Could you provide a link to the Thailand claim, which does not appear to be remotely accurate?

I don't believe Thailand is planning to build, or could build any more large hydro plants. The public goes nuts.

Thailand does import a fair bit of hyrdo electricity from Laos.

Thailand is also planning to build several new coal fired power plants. These have been slowed somewhat because of lower demand.

Thailand will get 100% of their electricity from hydro in wet years, mostly Laotian hydro.  I got the numebrs from the EDF guy in charge of building Nam Theun II during the Q&A after his presentation at HydroVision in Portland.

IMHO, NT II is an environmentally acceptable project (so does the World Bank in their first hydro project in decades) and MUCH better than importing NG from Mynanmar or oil for electricity.

N T II will supply all of Laotian electricity and about half of Thailands.  Build a dam in the headwaters, drill a tunnel to where the river curves back and drop the water ~350 meters.  Lots of power from limited water that "bypasses" a good stretch of the river.  Relatively small dam and environmental impact for 1,040 MW, ~6,000 MWh.
But that was not the point!

I posted, late yesterday:

Iran says they are running out of oil and natural gas

I just heard United Nations Secretary John Bolton on CNN say "Iran says they want nuclear power because they are running out of oil and natural gas. According to our calculations they will run out of oil and natural gas in about 300 to 400 years."

I got three replies. All three dealt with what an idiot John Bolton is. Hell, that is a given. Everyone already knows that. The point I meant to convey is that Iran themselves say that they are running out oil and natural gas!

Are they really telling the truth or are they lying through their teeth. Do they really want nuclear energy because they see that their oil and natural gas production is about to go into a tailspin.

Most "official" estimates put Iran's oil reserves at around 130 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. And they are currently producing around 4 million barrels per day. At any rate, doing the math with oil, but not natural gas, at current production rates they have a reserves to production ration of 89, not 300 or 400. Of course natural gas is a different matter.

But I have seen reports that put Iran's proven reserves at one half to one third what BP and others are reporting. At any rate, many industry insiders say Iran is definitely post peak. Will Iran downgrade their reserve numbers to justify their nuclear power ambitions?

Ron Patterson

The point I meant to convey is that Iran themselves say that they are running out oil and natural gas!

They've been saying that for years.  "Peak oil" is a concept Iranian politicians speak of openly and often.

However, few seem to take them seriously.  They have an agenda, you see.  They're trying to lower OPEC quotas and thereby raise prices.  

The nuke thing is just lagniappe.

(FWIW, I think this is one reason Bakhtiari isn't taken more seriously.)

But why shouldn't the Iranians and Bakhtiari be taken seriously? They may have a legitimate reason for wanting OPEC quotas lowered. If they see their production about to plummet then it is only natural that they wish to get the very best price for what little oil they have left. They want everyone else to cut their production, giving them the very best possible price for their oil.

Hey, all I am saying is, shouldn't we be listening to the Iranians, like Bakhtiari as well as those still in power in Iran, instead of BP and The Oil and Gas Journal? After all, who knows more about Iranian oil than the insiders themselves.

I take them seriously, but hey, I'm a "peak oil nut."  My point was that this is not news.  Iran has been saying it for years.  Few believe them, aside from us peak oilers, and I doubt that will change any time soon.

The mainstream U.S. belief is that Iran is just trying to drive up prices and keep IOCs out of their country.  And get nuclear weapons to use against Israel, of course.

Iran says they don't want to use high-tech methods to produce their oil. Producing their fields slowly will leave some of their one-time legacy for their children.  

I think there's likely truth on both sides.  Iran is clearly past peak.  They struggle to meet their OPEC quotas, so of course they are not in favor of increasing them.  That would only lower prices, decreasing their profits, since they cannot raise production.  They don't trust IOCs, and don't want them in their country.  

I think they are planning for a future without oil.  They do want nuclear power.  They need to provide energy for their large and growing population.  And any oil or gas they do no consume domestically can be sold for a profit.

But I think they also want nuclear weapons.  Can't blame them, really.  They live in a tough neighborhood.  They may see nukes as a way to avoid being "Iraq'ed."

The nuke thing is just lagniappe.

Wooo Wooo!  VERY NICE!  A new word for me.

1.    Chiefly Southern Louisiana and Southeast Texas. a small gift given with a purchase to a customer, by way of compliment or for good measure; bonus.
2.    a gratuity or tip.
3.    an unexpected or indirect benefit.

  I was brought up in Southeast Texas, and work with a bunch of people from southern Louisiana. Laignaipe means gravy, something extra. In connection with politics it means legitimate graft-like say building the new county road near your farm so the value goes up when you're on the county commmissioners court.
   While some folks would consider that unethical, I'd like to remind them of the Biblical injunction "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the grain".
I always assumed the word was French in origin, but it's ultimately Quechua - via the Spanish.
I tried to find lagniappe in the OED online, but was unable to find a listing,Leannan. Which dictionary did you use?
  People don't know much about the Spanish contribution to Creole/Cajun culture, but it was very substantial. And be careful of them-if you don't watch out, coonasses will get you drunk and make you dance all night!
So, how do you pronounce it; lan yap or lan yap?
When market vendors in Peru seek to cultivate your business, turn you into a steady customer, they give you a "yapa" - a "Baker's Dozen".  

From my Quechua/English/Spanish trinomial dictionary:
"Yapa" - an extra amount; increase; addition.

Thanks, Leanan, I did not know that term had passed (sort of) into English.  

There are less than a dozen words of Quechua origin in English.  "We can thank Quechua, always courtesy of Spanish, for the English words coca (1577, the source of cocaine), condor (1604), guano (1604), pampa (1704), and quinine (1826); the camelids llama (1600), vicuña (1604), and guanaco (1604); and even jerk (1707) and jerky (1848) referring to dried meat."


Google also has a definition feature. First, you can type the word directly into the Google search box, and if it has a definition, it will be accessible via the [definition] hotlink in the upper right corner of the search results, i.e., where it says Results 1 - 10 of about 949,000 for lagniappe [definition]. (0.06 seconds). Second, if you type define:lagniappe into the Google search box, you get several definitions gathered from the Web.

http://www.m-w.com (Merriam-Webster Online) has a nice audio pronunciation feature wherein you press a speaker icon and hear the word pronounced.

Thanks Calorie, didn't know about that Google feature before. By the way, ever tried searching on your phone number? (10 digits incl area code)
It is big in cajun cooking.
As of September 11, I have read that OPEC is no longer in the quota business.
I guess the difference is between what they need for domestic uses and what they need to keep exporting to continue their export revenue. Two very different things. Iran wants to use nukes to enable it to export as much oil and gas as possible.
While Bolton is truly a servant of Satan, he is not that stupid.  Clever statement really.  After all in 399 years Iran may well be extracting one cubic foot of gas per day, an a couple of gallons of oil.  See, he didn't lie, another one in the long line of Satan's servants will say.
Whoa! It's even more clever than that. If you take Iran's internal consumption and divide the proen reserves by that number, it comes out around 300 years. But Bolton cleverly avoids noting that production in Iran far outstrips consumption (so that the rest of us can consume).

Bolton's statement is doublespeak at its finest.

Yes, I doubt that we'll hear him talking about the Export land model.

A funny thing happened just before a ceremony was to be held last week to commemorate a $3 million sea wall around the village of Kivalina way up on Alaska's Arctic coastline. The village, home to Inupiat natives for 4,000 years, is about to be washed into the sea, and the 1,800-foot wall is supposed to stop that. But along came a modest storm, with winds of up to 40 miles per hour, and 160 feet of the wall washed out. The ceremony was canceled. Kivalina is one of an estimated 200 villages in the far North, fighting for survival, and at least three, including this historic community, may be lost within the next decade. The reasons are many, but a growing body of research suggests that global warming is at least partly to blame. There is less ice along the Arctic coastline because of warming ocean temperatures, and thus, less protection from relentless winter storms that undermine the coastal area. It's sad, because it affects people who have closer ties to Mother Earth than most of us. As they have for many generations, the Inupiats depend on hunting and fishing for their livelihood, both of which are also threatened by global climate change. Ironically, their distant ancestors came to this narrow spit of land each winter because it offered them the best chance for survival. Now, Kivalina itself is doomed. But it's not alone. Kivalina is sort of like New Orleans in cold storage. Both face enormous odds in the years ahead. But each story will have a different ending. The people of Kivalina will have to move somewhere else. Anywhere else. After all, who's going to cough up the billions of dollars that it would take to relocate the residents of a bunch of Alaskan villages.
You're right, it's sad, and what's even sadder is that, up against our thirst for energy and growth, we just don't care about these effects. As long as we can keep driving, that's all taht matters.
Don't make fun.
Lemmings are smart.
We burrow our way to prosperity.

Humans are dumb.
They deplete themselves into a dead end corner.

Oil's good when it trends toward the singularity.

* Denver decides on Electric rather than diesel to airport *


The FasTracks commuter train to Denver International Airport should be electric rather than diesel-powered, planners said Monday.

In a decision that could appease residents who fear diesel pollution, managers of the environmental impact study for the $702.1 million airport train said electrifying the 23.6-mile line would save money in the long run.

Electrified commuter rail costs about $39 million more to build than diesel between Denver Union Station and DIA. Lower operating costs of electric cars, however, will save nearly $73 million over a 30-year life cycle, according to an analysis by John Shonsey, chief engineer for the Regional Transportation District.


Shonsey said while RTD would have to pay more to put in overhead electrical lines for EMU cars, there is a net savings over DMU.

First, the electric cars can climb steeper grades than diesel cars. That allows planners to design shorter approaches to bridges. Such structures tend to be the most expensive parts of construction.

The electric cars accelerate faster than the diesels, cutting the travel time to DIA to 29 minutes instead of 34 minutes. The five-minute difference would save RTD the expense of buying the additional diesel cars needed to maintain a schedule of departures every 15 minutes.

[Not to mention more paying passengers with the extra 5 minute savings]

flynnk@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-5247

"Lower operating costs of electric cars, however, will save nearly $73 million over a 30-year life cycle"

How much is air travel likely to drop off over the next 30 years?  If the drop off is substantial, then this may not be the best use of taxpayer funds.

Since DIA is located in a remote area a commuter train built just to service the airport would seem to have limited future use.  Wouldn't it make more sense to just expand or promote the already well established RTD SkyRide express bus system?

The general FasTrack plan for light rail in the Denver metro area looks to be a good plan overall.  Given that CO has had the highest SUV per capita ownership for some time now, FasTrack is a step in the right direction.  

At least with fewer SUVs driving around I will be able to see the road ahead once in a while and I won't have to back out of parking spaces at the rate of 1 cm a minute when flanked by a wall of metal on either side.

How much is air travel likely to drop off over the next 30 years?  If the drop off is substantial, then this may not be the best use of taxpayer funds.

smile  Then the trains will be used to get people out to their community gardens on the old airport grounds.

Or those airgrounds might become home to a new (or rather old) type of airship.  Blimps, balloons and Super Blimps have great efficiency compared to jets.  The main problem for planes or helicopters is that they must use large amounts of energy cycling air in a direction that will keep them moving fast enough to cheat gravity.

Balloon type vehicles just need to ensure they keep themselves buoyant enough to stay afloat which has generally been seen as more fuel efficient than planes/helicopters.

In fact sometime in the next two years we should hopefully be seeing a scaled prototype of the Walrus airship which will be able to haul the same load as a C-130.


The eventual goal of the Walrus program is build an airship capable of hauling 500-1000 tons (enough to move a military force into a theatre)

This technology could very easily be ported to civilian uses.  For shipments via UPS,FedEx,etc, how attractive is it going to be in a post peak oil environment to be able to move 1000 tons of freight to anywhere in the world in 7 days?  Scalable solutions downward could certainly be doable if they wanted to keep a less centralized distribution pattern.

I could also see air travel adopting this technology and turning cramp passenger jets, meant to get you to your destination in only a few hours of uncomfortable travel, turn into a more cruise ship oriented package in which you enjoy more spacious accomodations, but longer air travel times.  For inter-state travel, it may be that business trips take an extra day to accomodate the travel, but in exchange, air travel companies enjoy lower overhead due to fuel costs, and travelers enjoy a more pleasant travelling experience.

The other advantage of Airships over ground transportation including rail is less infrastructure and therefore less environmental impact.  The only thing needed for Airships is a place to launch and land.  No miles upon miles of road,or rail needed and much more localized maintenance requirements.

As a side note, another article I read on this project was looking at the use of Solar power generation onboard the backs of these ships.  Its always sunny above the clouds after all.  In fact one of the research initiatives is looking at ways to make the material used to create the balloon to also be used as the solar gathering material (i.e. blending photovoltaic capabilities into the fabric).  
On cloudy days you might need stored energy in the form of liquid fuels or batteries, but once in the air, solar powered heaters could do the rest of the work.

A spy/communications variant also being looked into by DARPA is supposed to be designed to remain airborne and in theatre for days at a time.  The solar energy generation technology is being aimed to help solve this requirement.

Obviously the draw back of balloon based Airships is that they are not quite as fast as their more fuel intensive cousins.  But then I expect in a world of powerdown options, overnight delivery and sameday business trips will become more of thing of the past.

But to say air travel is doomed, I think is being very shortsighted, and very unimaginative.

Another technofix Silver BB to provide an alternative to a piece of the lifestyle we enjoy.

As another side topic, seems those defense contractors are up to no good!


Seems Boeing is looking to get in on the Solar market at some point, both for in the field energy generation and civilian home usage.

Gee...I'm in STL.  I didnt hear about this until now.  WTF?  35% efficiency huh?  Proof is in the pudding...10MW too?  Again, let's wait and see till after we fire this bad boy up.
Slow down, you're moving to fast
You've got to make the morning last..

Frankly, the older I get, the more I want to keep my feet planted on terra firma.

Building the airport that far out was a horrible idea in the first place.  But then it was important to create new opportunities for far out slumurbs and those poor people with all that real estate that needed to be developed.  
noise pollution is the problem.  Heathrow was built in an isolated village outside of London, in 1938 I think.

Now London surrounds it, and each expansion is a 10 year battle because of the noise.  Airliners land over the main inhabited portions of London.

In Amsterdam, they farm right up to the edge of the runway (I was told).  We could use that space between the runways in the US as well.

There will be some air travel, just not as much as today.  Perhaps 1970 levels in 2036 ?

Alan, yes, indeed some (community) gardens are quite close to the tracks.

I've been told you'll finally end up eating the metal particles coming from the wheels and electricity quides...

I've been told you'll finally end up eating the metal particles coming from the wheels and electricity quides...

The growing of crops for fuel is an option....

Oil Prices:  Midway Between Yergin and Recent Highs

In round numbers:  Yergin's predicted long term index price was about $40, and oil is currently trading in the vicinity of $60, down from recent highs in the vicinity of $80.  

Key Point:  Yergin was predicting about $40 because rising oil production would result in falling oil prices, in order to equalize supply and demand.

Reality:  Exactly the opposite has happened, as falling production resulted in higher prices, in order to equalize supply and demand.  Since late 2005, oil prices have been trading in a range that is 50% to 100% higher than Yergin's predicted long term index price.

Yergin Versus HL:  Score one for the HL method.   As predicted by the HL method, world oil production, Saudi oil production and production by the top net oil exporters are all down from 12/05 to 6/06 (EIA).  

Absent a severe recession/depression, IMO higher oil prices in the fourth quarter are inevitable as importers have to bid against each other for declining net oil exports.

The OPEC monthly oil report revealed on page 47 that KSA was primarily responsible for Japan's 15% drop in oil imports in July. It is evidence that not only will poor third world countries feel the fall in oil exports, but that big industrial countries also have to be on alert.
Disclosure:  I predicted a temporary, and unsustainable, spike to $100 this year, because of falling production.  Of course, the year isn't over yet.
And WT, the congressional elections will be over on Nov. 7th or so. At that point I expect prices to go from 1 1/2 Yergins (around $60) to about 2-2 1/4 Yergins ($80-$90) bbl. until prices are high enough for long enough to allow the oil companies double-diget earnings growth for the last quarter of the year . The Majors are terrified of a Windfall Profits tax.
I've noticed something interesting about my Republican friends lately -- they're all happy about Bush's new Iran policy.  Some are happy because they know Bush is just going through the motions diplomacy-wise, and that the bombs will be falling shortly.  This group was particularly pleased by the recent Time magazine article.  Others are happy because Bush has finally given up on the military option and has returned to diplomacy and multi-lateralism.  A lot of moderates and swing-voters probably fall into this second camp as well.  Until Nov. 7th, I think we'll see a continuation of the strategy of issuing enough contradictory statements so that everyone can find something they like, which seems to be working quite well.  Soon after, we'll get a better idea of where the administration really stands on a lot of these issues.

Just a thought...if they are forced to give up on the Iran idea, I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a quick shift of focus to Venezuela.  


Heard on NPR this morning that the folks writing the fiction at the DOD's 'Office of Special Plans' have are now working on Iran.


'3 Days of the Condor' scenario
i heard that too   but what is really scary is the one they had the other day   a rev   hagee  (end is near)  and how much the bush middle east policy is in line with these whackos    i found myself yelling at the radio  YER A FUCKING WHACKO       after about everyone of hagee's statements
Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker (who blew the cover on Abu Ghreib, and on the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War) has been on this Iran one for months.

  1. the SecDEF asked for a plan including the possibility of nuclear strikes on Iran.  The planners felt trapped into providing one to 'cover all the bases'.  The Joint Chiefs of Staff made it clear they would resign if that option went to the President.

  2. the civilians in the Pentagon including SECDEF and Office of Special Plans, or possibly in Dick Cheney's office, want a war on Iran a la the bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo war.  the uniformed folks (and the career CIA people) are much more cautious.

US special forces people have already been on the ground scouting Iranian installations.  In addition, there were reports in Iran of UFOs, and the Iranians asked the Russians to investigate.  Turns out they were US drones, overflying Iranian air defence and nuclear installations.

The US was hoping the Iranians would turn on their radars, when the drones buzzed them.  However, this is US Air Force standard doctrine (get the other guy to reveal his air defence radars).  As one Iranian Air Force general put it in an interview 'we are all trained at Colorado Springs in the 70s, so we didn't fall for the bait'.

Lebanon was supposed to be the prototype of the US attack on Iran, and the groundwork.  Iran's closest ally in the Middle East, Hizbollah, finished off by Israel.

In practice the Israelis discovered they couldn't finish Hizbollah off with airstrikes.  So the civilian hawks are interpreting it as a great victory, limiting Iran's freedom of action.  And the military analysts are seeing it as a shocking defeat: over 10,000 sorties couldn't finish off a small guerilla movement, representing 1.2 million Lebanese Shia muslims.

The military is terrified of being ordered to attack Iran, with no clear plan of what to do after the initial strikes-- a repeat of the Iraq situation.  Do the US forces in Iraq become de facto Shi'ite hostages-- the Shia sit across their supply lines?

Does Iran attack Saudi oil installations (Saudi Arabia's oil producing province is Shia)?  What happens if the US has to occupy Iranian naval facilities long term?  What happens if the air strikes don't destroy the facilities.

Basically the military is maxed out in Afghanistan and Iraq, and doesn't want to have to carry the can again for bad politics.

There is a window to go to war with Iran, from October until about April-- long nights play to US advantages in sensors.  If we get through that, then we enter again into that danger zone next fall.

Hello, SAT - for fun I posted a UAE oil export chart over on the UK Drum tonight - it places all you have been saying in a favourable light - especially when you look at UAE population growth.
Chinese oil consumption up 15.3% over same period last year. China's economy is growing at 10.9% per year still.

While we may have not yet hit the bottom on oil prices, with both Chinese demand still exploding and prices falling (which will fuel more demand everywhere), I am expecting an ugly price rebound in oil somewhere over the next 8-12 months. A good guess would probably be next spring, as both seasonal demand start to climb at the same time as the switchover to summer blends (thanks for that explanation Robert!) kicks in.

Request for a deep water expert regarding Thunderhorse

Excerpt of an e-mail message:  

"Do you know anybody who knows something about undersea manifolds and would be willing to venture a guess as to just how serious this problem might be for the future of deep sea oil production."

This is for a proposed commentary on a website.  Please contact westexas at aol.com.

Westexas you are right as usual. The gasoline and Crude oil imports dropped like a rock. I think we put in a bottom.
Another factor to consider in future analysis is the huge increase in NGL's which are due to very low NG prices.
A bottom - don't be too sure. Oil is down to $60.70 today - if it breaks the $60 barrier - then look out below!!!
Unleaded gas has shed a few more cents today.
Gas here in NE Atlanta is as low as $2.16 - I expect below $2.10 next week and we should break the $2.00 barrier following week.
Only one thing can stop the downward mommentum now - that would be if the terrorists changed tactics from shooting nuns in the back and actually stage a successful attack on an oil/nat gas facility.
I just heard Jim Cramer on CNBC say that oil prices will keep dropping until the end of the quarter, (when the quarterly reports will be released by the funds,) because no fund manager in his right mind will want to go on record as riding oil all the way down from its July highs. They will go on selling, he says, taking oil to below $56.

But what the hell has this to do with supply and demand. If supply and demand is what sets the price of oil, as RR and OilCEO maintain, what does it matter what the fund managers do?

You know I started out over two years ago, on Energy Resources, arguing strongly that the NYMEX was a follower of oil prices, not the setter of oil prices. Now I am having second thoughts.

Ron Patterson

If Cramer says $56.00 - then bet on $100 :-)
How does that guy stay on TV - he so wrong so often.
Lots of people lost a LOT of money in 1999/2000 listening to him.

However he is probably right this time. $60.00 is a psychological barrier - when markets break them they usually gap lower pretty quickly.

As you probably remember, Ron, I was one of the people you argued with, and despite being just as much a peakoiler as you, I continue to maintain that supply and demand does not determine the oil price, although it can influence it. What determines the oil price is the futures market, through a process called Reference Pricing, where most of the world's crude exports are sold at prices determined, through various formulae, by Nymex or the IPE.

Traders on these exchanges are trading IOUs, not physical oil, so the price which is reached is determined by the supply and demand for IOUs, not the supply and demand for oil. Then, it just so happens that OPEC and most other exporters have agreed to set their price according to the prices determined by the Nymex and the IPE, so this becomes the oil price.

If the makers of BMWs were to declare that the price of BMWs was going to be determined by the price of a Big Mac through a particular formula, then, no matter how illogical it would seem, the price of a Big Mac would determine the price of BMWs. And so it is with oil - because oil exporters have agreed to allow IOUs to determine the price oil, the IOU price becomes the price of oil.

This is explained in an article which starts on p. 24 of this document (pdf).
or from p. 9 of this document (large pdf).

When SelfAggrandizedTrader said a few weeks ago that the price of oil was going to fall to around $58 dollars because the graphs said so, not many people believed him. However, although I don't believe that graphs really say that much at all, if traders believe in graphs, then it is a self-fullfilling prophesy, as it is traders (and perhaps some central banks behind them) dealing in bits of paper, not oil, who determine the oil price. I note that SelfAggrandizedTrader seems to have got it right so far.

Of course, if the price of oil falls too low, then exporters who are now very aware of world supply constraints may become more and more unhappy about letting people who have nothing to do with buying and selling oil determine the oil price. They could start withholding oil from the market, which would, in a sense, be a way of reintroducing more importance to supply and demand. Another possibility would be to start set up their own oil exchanges, which could give greater importance to supply and demand.

It is worth pointing out that Chris Cook, who originally suggested the Iranian oil bourse, was concerned about the way intermediaries were manipulating the oil market for their own benefit. He wanted a market where people who actually buy and sell oil were the main actors, and where oil, not oil futures, was the main thing being traded, ie. what he wanted was a market where supply and demand for oil, not IOUs, would determine the oil price. See http://uk.theoildrum.com/story/2006/8/13/71557/8571#more

Yeah,  I remember Coilin. As I said I am having second thoughts. Robert Rapier and Oilceo both argue that it is supply and demand that sets the oil price. Rapier works in the business and is in a position to know. But I would now be the first to admit that I don't know shit.

I have studied the oil market for years and now must admit that I haven't a fucking clue as to what is going on. Why does the NYMEX and the spot price for WTIC close at exactly the same price for 17 of the 20 trading days in each month? That just don't make any damn sense.

I just wish someone would do a study of the situation and tell us what determins the price of oil? What influence does NYMEX traders have on the price of oil? What effect does world supply and demand have on the price of oil on the NYMEX?

I just don't fucking know and it is really pissing me off!

Ron Patterson

You are not alone in the pursuit of this mystery.
Ron, I am not an expert, but since you ask 'What determines the oil price', I'll tell you, again (!). The futures price of Brent and WTI determine the oil price of most oil sold on the international market.

What I mean by this is that once you know the futures prices for Brent and WTI, then there literally exist formulae which are used to determine the price of particular crudes being sold around the world.

The European Commission paper I quoted above says:

"The current price regime for oil in international trade was introduced in the second half of the 1980s and is known as "reference pricing". The concept of a `market-related' system which involves a formula linking the price of a given export crude to a reference price (or a set of reference prices) arising in a particular market was pioneered by PEMEX in 1986. The pricing formula has the following form: Export price of crude X = Marker price (or prices) R plus or minus adjustment factor F.

Initially the marker prices were spot WTI, dated Brent, or spot ANS, all prices for physical (wet) oil barrels. The logic is that a marker price must be generated in a physical market where the transactions are sales and purchases of barrels of oil. However, these spot markets of marker crudes have problems: they are very thin; the number of price quotations for actual transactions is very small; they can be more easily squeezed than very liquid futures markets. Most exporting countries have therefore replaced dated by futures Brent, and spot WTI by the NYMEX price of the contract for light sweet crudes. So Brent, WTI, Dubai/Oman etc. remain the marker crudes but the relevant prices of the first two are taken from what is in essence a market of financial instruments."
(see http://europa.eu.int/comm/energy_transport/doc/2005_04_eurogulf_kuwait.pdf )

This paper then goes on to contrast the way in which the oil price is determined compared with the way the prices of most commodities, goods and services are determined:

"The economic price of a commodity, a good or a service is the price that arises from the interaction of the supply of and the demand for this commodity, good or service in a market where sellers and buyers offer and purchase them.

In contrast, for oil the price of a physical barrel in international trade is linked very closely to that of a futures contract. This price results, of course, from the interaction of supply and demand; but of the supply and demand for this item, which is a futures contract, not a physical barrel of oil."

So what they are saying, and I agree, is that the supply and demand for certain futures contracts determine the price of oil, not the suppy and demand for oil. They conclude that 'decoupling' between price movements and supply and demand can occur. Again, I agree, which is why I am not as surprised as you are to see the oil price plummet.

What I mean by this is that once you know the futures prices for Brent and WTI, then there literally exist formulae which are used to determine the price of particular crudes being sold around the world.

That's like saying the painted line down the middle of the road determines which way the road goes. Because, if you follow the painted line, you know where the road is headed.

In most international financial transactions, the price of the tranaction is set at the futures rate. For example, if I offer to send you a chair from Thailand in six months for $50 and will deliver in 6 months, we will typically set the price according to the future $/baht exchange rate.

So if the futures market expects the baht to appreciate, the contract may be for $55. So what has determined the price for the chair. Supply and demand. The adjustment to futures rate is out best effort to adjust to our expectation of the future.

As I noted elsewhere, almost any commodity-type product sold on liquid markets has a futures market of some sort. Would you make the same claim for other products with futures markets: corn, curencies, stocks, treasury bonds (in effect via various maturity lengths), etc.? If not, why is oil different.

Supply and demand determine both spot and futures prices, but futures prices are adjusted based on the perceived likelihood of future changes.

Once you know the futures price of any commodity, you have a lot of insight into the spot price. However, there is no formula that can take you from one to the other. The futures price can be higher than the spot price (referred to as contango) or lower (called backwardization).

Unless you think for some reason the oil market is completely different than all other markets with futures, it is not useful to look at the oil market in isolation.

You ask whether I would make the same claim for other futures markets. Well, as I have already said, I am not an expert, but I would think no, it is not the same for other commodities.

What is peculiar about the London oil exchange and NYMEX, is that there is virtually no physical oil being sold on the exchanges.

The overwhelming majority of world oil exports are not traded on any exchange. OPEC does not trade its oil on any exchange and does not arrive at an oil price by dealing directly with buyers. OPEC, and other exporters, allow two futures exchanges to determine their oil price.

Buyers and sellers of oil are not the main actors on these  exchanges. Pure speculators, ie. actors who have no particular exposure to oil prices (not hedgers) such as investment banks or hedge funds, are far more important traders.

I am not completely clear on what role the spot prices of Brent and WTI play in the system, but it appears to be purely symbolic - the system worked as it is currently working when and ANS oil was a reference oil instead of WTI, despite there being no ANS physical oil being traded at all. The fact that there is now 0.01% of world oil being traded on the NYMEX instead of 0% is probably not important.


Thanks for two very good responses. I would like to reply to these with the depth they deserve, but don't have time now.

I do assert that "speculators" are minority players on global oil futures markets, pending solid evidence to the contrary. I was not able to open the EC document and am not willing to take Chris's word for it. You will notice I had a bit of discussion with him in the comments following the TOD link in your other post.

I believe that a lack of understanding of the role of intermediaries in bearing risk is what leads to the conclusion that their is manipulation and profiteering in the market. I am not sayiong the market is perfect or withiout manipulation, only that it is overestimated, both in quantity and significance.

One question: If the futures markets are lightly traded, how do you account for the massive hedging done by airlines, refineries, transportation, etc?

I have some trouble believing that meaningless manipulated markets could really lead Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. to sell oil at prices unrelated to what the market would bear. Is the claim that somehow speculators force the price down and the producers sell at a loss because they are powerless? Or is it the other way around, and the producers gain?

Finally, I still think the clearing union idea is very soft and not well formed. Chris hedges his comments quite a bit in the interview and doesn't address questions of liquidity, etc. I think he is still at the stage of "There's got to be a better way", and by the time he creates mechanisms to deal with credit risk, liquidity, standardization of contracts, etc is going to wind up with something that looks a lot like NYMEX. The plan to ban speculators doesn't seem to make any sense. He doesn't document what harm they are doing and how they would be identified or barred from participation.

I like Chris's ideas, but don't think he has been able to lay this out clearly or document his assertuions regarding speculators and manipulation in any convincing manner.

If you can track down a better link to the EC document, please post it and any other links you think are helpful. I will also give this a think and look for some facts to support my case. I also want to take a second look at Nate Hagen's recent TOD futures piece and would love to hear his opinion - Nate, are you out there?

Neither of us are experts, but both seem to have a keen interest and general understanding of the issues at hand. I think we have a nice, clearly defined topic to discuss and hope to pursue it further. Perhaps we could make it a post here at TOD.

In the meantime, I will be dogding army tanks on my way home. I have this little matter of a miliary coup here in Bangkok where TPTB have come out of the shadows and one does not any additional proof of their existence.


I hope you got home safely. Seeing tanks on the street must be a chilling sight.

You ask: 'If the futures markets are lightly traded, how do you account for the massive hedging done by airlines, refineries, transportation, etc?'

but I didn't say that the futures markets were lightly traded (they're not). I said that very, very little oil is traded on the NYMEX or London oil exchange. NYMEX themselves say that 'deliveries only represent a miniscule share of trading volume' and that 'Most market participants, however, choose to buy or sell their physicals through their normal channels' [ie. not through NYMEX]. 'Normal channels' for oil importers presumably means directly from oil exporters and at a price determined by NYMEX futures and Brent.

You then go on to say that you don't believe that the markets are manipulated. This, however, is a separate point to the point I am arguing, which is that oil prices are not determined by supply and demand. As it happens, I also tend to believe that the oil prices are manipulated, but this is a separate point for which I have no absolute proof.

The European Commission document that you weren't able to open argues that oil prices are not determined by supply and demand, but unlike Chris Cook and others, they don't say anything about price manipulation. They say:

"In a futures market the trader will buy or sell not because he has a physical need for the item but entirely on the basis of expectations about subsequent price movements.

There are other determinants for transactions on futures markets that are not related to the oil situation. This is because the futures oil contract is a financial
instrument, held by many economic agents (particularly hedge funds, banks, other financial institutions) in a portfolio of various financial instruments. The aim is to optimise the composition of the portfolio. Funds move in or out of a financial market, be it oil, bonds, foreign exchange etc. etc., depending on relative expectations.

Hence a decoupling between price movements in the futures market and the economic fundamentals of the supply of, and demand for, the physical barrel may occur from time to time."

Because OPEC and others decided sometime around 1986 to use the price arrived at NYMEX and in London as their reference prices, then what determines the price of futures on these exchanges, now determines the price of oil exports.

On the manipulation question, I certainly don't expect to convince you, but one article that I found interesting on this topic was written a few years ago by Peter Warburton:

Since the futures markets are a zero sum game and little oil is being traded it is easy to realize why an airline would use this against actually buying oil.  If they say they are hedged, they own contracts in the future that are financial instruments that appreciate on the balance sheet in lock step with real prices at the refiners by the time it rolls around.  

So when SW is hedged at 80% for this year @$35 a barrel, they bought a future for say this Sep06 three or five years ago, so that even if they actually PAY the equivalent of $60 a barrel. On the balance sheet the increased value of this months contract is a cash inflow since it will close out and they will get whatever the closing price is.  The actual purchase only cost them $35 a barrel when you realize the gains from your true HEDGE.  Wonderful financial tool.

OK. I'll take a bit more time to digest your argument and see what I can come up with. We may not diverge but that much. If the contention is that "a decoupling between price movements in the futures market and the economic fundamentals of the supply of, and demand for, the physical barrel may occur from time to time.", I agree.

Actually, I don't dispute that there is some level of manipulation of oil prices (althoguh i know that is not your point), nor that they can temporrarily diverge from supply and demand fundamentals. I would claim that at any given time, the prices do not represent fundamentals, but over time they track them.  I presume that we disagree on the scale, impact and possible mitigation strategies for these phenomena.

I did get home safely. I was in Thailand for the last coup in 1991. That time there was serious damage in the streets, great volumes of gun fire and days of chaos. It wound up (accidentally) with a highly successful civilian government that may have been Thailand's best. This coup has been very quiet and almost a relief after months of strife. Now the hope is the next step goes as well.

I would claim that at any given time, the prices do not represent fundamentals, but over time they track them.

Well said. Best one sentence answer so far. The fundamentals definitely accounted for the move from $30 to $40 and from $40 to $50, but then other factors took over and pushed the price to $78 - speculation, geopolitical hype, whatever.

At a certain point the market realized $78 was overblown based on what was vaguely known about the fundamentals and the price has moved to where it is now. At a certain point in the future the market will decide oil is undervalued and it will move in the other direction.

Nobody knows at any given time what the fundamentals actually are. Nobody really knows what demand is and we only have a rough guess as to what supply is, probably plus or minus 2 million barrels per day.

Besides, the 85 million barrels we consume is actually made up of as many types of crude as there are producing countries - and more. There's not one supply/demand curve, there are dozens.

The reality is that all that oil that cost $78/barrel was produced for $5/barrel just like the stuff that sold for $20 6 years ago. At the same time, that was just a benchmark price. Most oil sold for less. And if we are running out of the cheap/easy oil, at some point the harder to find stuff has to be paid for through increased exploration and drilling costs. And also, there is some oil which will be delivered 6 months from now, when the spot price may be $40, that has already been paid for at $78. What goes around, comes around.

That's why the options and hedging are so important.

Anyway, I had nothing really to add. It has been a great discussion.

The question I have is: When Stuart determined some months back that oil was not in a bubble, was he wrong?

One of our satellites at Oil Central Command picked up this shot of Jack on his way home.

TOD 09.21.06

Pedal power!
I'm hoping Step Back has a photo of a cute hippie-chick sticking a tulip in the barrel of National Guardsman's rifle. That would be Petal-Power, I think.
That is exactly what is missing in Thai coup coverage.

I guess it is proof this was not caused by a quarrel over Thailand's natural resources.

"Why does the NYMEX and the spot price for WTIC close at exactly the same price for 17 of the 20 trading days in each month? That just don't make any damn sense."

This (pdf) document by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland answers your question:

"When most major U.S. newspapers
report the spot price of oil, they are
referring to the one-month NYMEX
futures price. A NYMEX crude oil
future is a contract for 1,000 barrels of
domestic light, sweet crude oil. To be
included in the contract, the oil must
meet specifications on sulfur content
and density. Because WTI meets these
standards, it is often traded in NYMEX
contracts. Therefore, the one-month
NYMEX crude oil futures price and
WTI spot price are nearly identical. An
exception to this is at the end of the
month, when the NYMEX futures contract
expires three days before the WTI
spot contract."

There is something in the above I don't really understand: is the 'spot' WTI actually a one-month contract? If not, how come it has an expiry date?


Thanks for the information the way oil prices are set based on the futures market.

The article you link to indicates that the transactions in the futures market are tiny compared to the total oil market - only a small fraction of 1% of the total. Because the futures market is so small, it would seem like it would be more easily disrupted by a bunch of hedge funds selling to get out before quarter end statements, or by some group manipulating the price of oil, for political reasons.

One would think that if gyrations get too wild, sellers of oil will get disgusted and refuse to sell at the price determined by the futures market. I would wonder whether the system might de-couple, if the out-of-balance with real world supply and demand becomes too great.

One would think that if gyrations get too wild, sellers of oil will get disgusted and refuse to sell at the price determined by the futures market.

The price determined by the futures market is nothing more than the price that sellers of oil have agreed to sell oil at some future date.

It is wrong to think that the futures market is detached from sellers. If the price in the futures market falls below what sellers think the price will be at that time in the future (say six months), they can just wait and sell at the spot market in six months.

If they were right, they earn more than they would have by selling on contract. If they were wrong they lose. In the bigger picture, if all sellers think the future price is too low, they will not sell. This will cause people who want to lock in prices to increase bids, driving the futures market back up. In reality this process is almost instantaneous.

Futures markets exist for currencies, stocks, commodities, etc, not just oil. They are risk mitigation options for those who want to lock in guaranteed prices (buyer or sellers) in advance. If they gyrate too much - i.e. if there is too much volitility, oil sellers can just wait for high points and sell contracts then.

I hope this helps answer your question. I don't really see how the system could de-couple, so I may be missing something.


Yes, the amount of actual oil traded on the Nymex is absolutely tiny, but the WTI and Brent  spot prices are no longer used as  reference prices. The two main reference prices used to determine the price of most oil exports these days are the futures prices of Brent and WTI.

The European Commission paper I quoted in a previous post said:
"Initially the marker prices were spot WTI, dated Brent, or spot ANS, all prices for physical (wet) oil barrels. The logic is that a marker price must be generated in a physical market where the transactions are sales and purchases of barrels of oil. However, these spot markets of marker crudes have problems: they are very thin; the number of price quotations for actual transactions is very small; they can be more easily squeezed than very liquid futures markets. Most exporting countries have therefore replaced dated by futures Brent, and spot WTI by the NYMEX price of the contract for light sweet crudes. So Brent, WTI, Dubai/Oman etc. remain the marker crudes but the relevant prices of the first two are taken from what is in essence a market of financial instruments."
(see http://europa.eu.int/comm/energy_transport/doc/2005_04_eurogulf_kuwait.pdf )

Apparently, before the WTI became a reference price, the Alaskan North Slope (ANS) delivered into the Gulf was used as a reference price but declining production ultimately led to no actual ANS oil being traded at all - the only ANS oil that made it to the Gulf being an internal company transfer. Paul Horsnell said "The quotation became based entirely on journalists' summaries of traders' perceptions of the price that ANS in the Gulf would be trading at, if there actually was any. It may sound bizarre, but this normally produced reasonable numbers. It is after all rather hard to squeeze a market that doesn't exist."

This shows, I think, how unimportant and symbolic the actual oil being traded on these exchanges is today. What is driving the oil price up and down is not oil trading, but financial bets.

I agree with you that the system could be abandoned if exporters decide that they can do better than to allow speculators determine the price of their oil. Abandoning this system is what Chris Cook was suggesting with his proposal for an Energy Clearing Union.

First, futures markets work in a huge range of commodities, including currencies, which is the single largest market in value terms in the world. They provide security and risk mitigation for entities on both sides of transaction that don't want to bear volitility risk. Do you claim that oil is fundamentally different than all other commodity markets? Or could all of these other futures markets be abandoned as well?

If exporters abandoned futures markets, what would they do to assure a steady, predictable future income? Is there an alternate mechanism for sharing risk among market participants? I presume this is what you and Chris mean by the clearing union? How would it work?

By the way, one of the main places where I presume we disagree is "What is a speculator?" I don't think it is easy to define the term, but do think it is central to your claim.

To me a speculator is someone who has no underlying exposure to energy, but is betting on price movements in order to to profit if they are right. I think that they take the opposite side of many non-speculative transactions and bear risk that others don't want. Hence they are useful. Sometimes they make money, sometimes (see the Greenwich Hedge fund this week), sometimes they don't. I think they are a minority participant in futures markets.

Most participants in futures markets - of all sorts - have an underlying exposure that they want to hedge. An airline needs to use fuel for the next few years and so locks in the price buy purchasing a futures contract. A refinery does the same thing. If there were not specualtors in the market, many of these transactions would not be possible.

Some of the benfits of futures markets could be done by direct linkages through the clearing union Chris proposes, but it would be extremely difficult to match all of the over the counter transactions, mitigate credit risk and ensure a functioning market.

If someone doesn't understand risk, I can see why they would not understand the value of futures and other hedges. This could lead to the impression that there is profit being made without risk being taken.

However, this should be kid's stuff for Gail. Hedging is much like insurance. A small town could all agree to drop their fire insurance policies and instead all group together to rebuild anyone's house that burns down. An "exchange" so to speak. But what if they all burn at the same time? Whatif someone decides they are busy that week and can't pitch in. I makes much more sense to let an insurance company speculate on the risk that house will burn down and make profits if they don't.

I haven't suggested that you need to get rid of futures.

If you read the European Commission document that I have already posted (http://europa.eu.int/comm/energy_transport/doc/2005_04_eurogulf_kuwait.pdf ) from p. 9 to p. 11), you will see that the proposal being discussed in the document is for developing 'active new physical oil markets'. They say that 'order to ensure that fundamentals play a more important role in price formation, the active participation of oil producing countries will be necessary.' I don't see anything here which argues that there shouldn't be futures.

Similarly, in Chris Cook's proposals (see http://uk.theoildrum.com/story/2006/8/13/71557/8571#more and http://atimes01.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/GE27Dj01.html ), I haven't seen him argue that there should be no futures trading.

Regarding your claim that pure speculators are a 'minority participant in futures markets', Chris Cook, who was formely a Director of the IPE and so should know, and the European Commission document disagree. Both say that investment banks and hedge funds are important participants.

"Only one thing can stop the downward mommentum now - that would be if the terrorists changed tactics from shooting nuns in the back and actually stage a successful attack on an oil/nat gas facility."

It's interesting that the Cheney Administration supports the warlords in Somalia while describing the Islamic Courts as friends of terrorists.  Meantime the Islamic Courts who now control Mogadishu decry the nun's death and speculate that the murder may have been the work of agents out to discredit them.  They have arrested suspects.  The slain nun's religious order states that it does not believe the murder was linked to the pope's lecture in Germany, a view held by others.  The nun was shot in the chest, stomach and back.  Her bodyguard was also killed.

Time may tell if her murderer(s) were linked to terrorists, were ordinary criminals, or mentally deranged persons.

Maybe they were 'contras'.  It is well known that the nuns killed some two decades ago in Nicaragua died at the hands of 'contras', or, as the gang Cheney now leads described them, freedom fighters.

Beechdriver, you should attempt to work from the known facts, instead of your prejudices.  You won't get the facts from Fox News or its ilk.

Everyone who went long at $80 went long in the october or september contracts. I think the blood bath is over with this forced liquidation and end of october contract trading. Unfortunetly we will have to wait till next friday to confirm this on the Committment of traders report.
There is a fundamental supply demand question. We destroyed alot of demadn as we went past 78. A lot is coming back probabaly. Even if it was 300,000 barrels a day it will be more than enough to offset further forced liquidation.
I like to think about this in waves.  It's as if the crest of the last wave that just past you in the ocean is followed by an even higher crest.  The next round of increases will cut deeper.
from Air Force Flight Test of Syntroleum Gas-to-Liquids Fuel Successful

This flight test is part of the DOD's Assured Fuel Initiative, an effort to develop secure domestic sources for the military's energy needs.

The US military will always find a way to have enough power to feed the machine of war. Hopefully technologies developed will be available for the masses, but I wonder.

They're sequestering all the CO2 from that synfuel plant, right?
"I'm an optimist," [Lovelock] says. "I think that after the warming sets in and the survivors have settled in near the Arctic, they will find a way to adjust. It will be a tough life enlivened by excitement and fear."

Gee. I wish I could be around for that, especially the excitement part.

Oil Price Pullback Steepest in 15 Years

This is billed as good news, but check out this part:

In it's weekly inventory report, the Energy Information Administration says crude oil stockpiles fell by 2.8 million barrels. That's double the decline analysts were calling for -- and the fifth drop in as many weeks.

Pardon? That doesn't sound like good news to me.

But this is probably partially behind the drop in gas prices:

Gasoline supplies rose by 600,000 barrels -- three times the increase that had been forecast. And inventories of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, shot up by 4.1 million barrels. The outlook had been for a rise of 1.6 million barrels.

Refineries, meanwhile, ran at 93-point-four percent of capacity last week, a half percent higher than industry-watchers had been expecting.

Comments anyone?

... with stocks of finished gasoline increasing by only 0,1 mb (from 113.5 to 113.6 mb), thus staying at historical lows. The increase of total "gasoline" is in its majority explained by the increase of the stock of ethanol and other blending components. Ethanol is not yet used in large quantity for blending. I think the recent price drop will test some hypothesis : - a lot of the poorer countries and yet with strong growth rates could profit from this decrease and buy more oil, will we see a further drop in the crude stock ? - some think that consumers have cut back on driving with high gas prices, if this is the case we will see a dangerously crunching finished gasoline stock - since deep sea oil is very expensive to commercialise, will the deep water projects like jack 2 be delayed ? - with a combination of all these factors will we experience a drop in crude imports in november or december ?
What is the impact of this:
The Diesel Dilemma
Gasoline usage is down in Europe while diesel is up, they have spare refining capacity for the former, and it shows up as increased stocks here (and lower prices). We don't import any diesel from them, hence diesel shortages, but it doesn't make MSM because the average commuter isn't affected.
For the past few weeks I've seen predictions of big price drops along with declining inventories. Here was a good comment by "Anarchus" on Econbrowser, September 16:

If you know you need a bunch of crude oil in Dec 2010, you can procrastinate and wait and buy it on the spot market on 12/1/2010, OR you could buy it today at the current spot price and pay storage and insurance costs and "carry" it out to 12/1/2010 when you use it. With many participants in the crude markets having scheduled demand and/or scheduled production ranging out over a decade or more, and adequate storage around, a pretty efficient marketplace has developed in this kind of action.

That's why IMHO the crude oil market has gotten slightly out of balance - it's PAID very well to buy extra spot oil and hold it as inventory over the past couple of years and more than a few market participants have probably gotten a little too enthusiastic about that game. And over the past 12-18 months the amount of crude oil held in inventories systemwide has gradually crept up to a pretty high level. NOW that the price of crude has broken down technically on the charts and seems to be going DOWN, market participants speculating at the margin by holding extra crude are now looking at potential losses on inventory they don't need. As they start to move toward the exit slowly the price slides even more, pulling additional holders of inventory to start liquidating. In the short run, if there's a pell mell rush to the exit there could be a very abrupt decline in the spot price of crude . . .

So the idea would be that people are suddenly finding that oil is no longer an appreciating asset, hence they are clearing their inventories. This selling pressure is driving down prices. This would be going hand in hand with market speculators closing out their long positions as well, all adding to the downward price trend.

Prices dipped as low as $59.80 today before settling at $60.46.

Note the quote from John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, in the following article regarding our stance towards Iran.  


If the administration truly believes that Iran has 300-400 years of oil and natural gas, then Iran's nuclear program wouldn't make sense.  If, on the other hand, Iran's future energy supplies are limited to decades, then it certainly makes sense for Iran to pursue nuclear energy.

I've been informed that I am becoming redudant at my job, which translates into 'send out the resumes'.

Anyone have any suggestions what a third rate engineer who's working on a masters in psych can do that isn't engineering? Thanks.

  1.  Organic(natural) Farming

  2.  Alternative Energy.  
That sucks.  Be your own boss.  Consultans earn BANK and they get to tell CEO's what to do.  It's all about WHO you know, and a littler about what you know.  But you Know this.
I don't have enough experience (or connections) to be a contractor, but thanks for the suggestion.

And, I do love the idea of giving orders to a CEO!


sorry to let you in on this little secret.
there's no such thing as be your own boss.
you always answer to the customer.

I've got enough rain....the parade goes ON!
Come to Texas and be a landman. If you can fog
a mirror you can get a job as a landman right now.
What's a landman do? Sounds like I might almost qualify for the job...
How about considering Health Physics.  Just about any science or engineering experience will get you in the door.   The pay is good (6 figure salaries are in reach) and the level of excitement can range from mind numbing regulatory boredom, to inspecting Iran's WMD compliance, to handling mixed waste (toxic, explosive and radioactive).  Nuclear power is set to make a comeback and there aren't enough students in the pipeline to fill the need.

The running joke in Health Physics circles is "what did you do wrong to become a HP",  since nobody dreams of being one in high school.


Go to


and search for Health Physicist

Do a quickie course in refrigeration.

We will always need good air conditioning men (and women).

Best of luck.
Let us know how your job hunt is going.
Many of us are only a short, grace-of-God away from your situation.

Ain't that the truth!
The two parts of the economy that must grow as we head into Peak are wind and PV solar energy and anything that improves corporate energy efficiency.

Good luck!

Re: ammonia engine.  One has to read through most of that article to find that:

Anhydrous ammonia is currently derived mostly from natural gas and as a result, it's price is tied to natural gas prices, which have been high in the past few years.  However, new ways of extracting anhydrous from coal through a gasification process, are becoming more common.

So much for the "green" claim in the preceding paragraph:

This ammonia system looks pretty promising because you don't have the emissions issues you have with diesel, it's a green cycle.

So, any reason why coal-to-ammonia might be any better than, e.g., coal-to-diesel?  I suppose the lack of carbon emmisions at the tailpipe.  But that matters only if all the carbon is sequestered at the conversion plant.  That will never be done, because it costs real money.  The whole crux of why climate change is not being met with real action is that the real problem is greed, and the only solution is a drastic voluntary reduction in our consumption of "stuff".

That said, how about shipping liquid ammonia (made from NG) across the oceans rather than shipping LNG?  Safer and less loss of energy?

vtpeaknik -

Being that anhydrous ammonia is combustible, I have not doubt that it could be burned in a properly modified internal combustion engine.

The problem, however, is with the emissions from that engine. The products of combustion would include water vapor plus various oxides of nitrogen (the relative ratios of which would depend on specifics such as flame temeperature, air/fuel ratio, and combustion chamber configuration.  

Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) are considered an air pollutant because they contribute to photochemical smog. Because of that, such an engine would not be viewed favoravbly in those regions of the country that have difficulty meeing ambient air quality standard for 'oxidants'. Furthermore, NOx can react with water vapor to form nitrous acid and/or nitric acid, both of which are highly corrosive, as well as toxic above a certain concentration.

I really don't see how an ammonia engine makes a whole a lot of sense, as ammonia's main value is as a fertilizer, not a fuel. And if we're going to be growing all this extra corn for ethanol, we're going to be needing all the ammonia we can get, and burning it as a fuel clearly runs counter to this need.

I don't think this is a good idea.

All I can think of is NOS....PUSH THE BUTTON!
NOS is indeed a real blast ..... particularly when you watch your pistons go flying through the hood.
Youtube has some great engine blow ups.  I remember watching one on a black ferrari (i think it was popular) almost 4 years ago.  It was a test driver testing a production vehicle and the engine exploded.  It was pretty sweet to watch.  Driver wasn't hurt.  Ferrari....mmmmm.
It seemed to me the whole point of the ammonia engine was to create a fuel that did its polluting outside California.  That's where local emissions control laws lead, I guess.  
I'm not sure I understand how this is so.

If an ammonia engine is used in California, the NOx emissions from that engine will be affecting  California air quality, not someone else's.  

The notorious Los Angeles smog has been a direct result of NOx emission from autos, and California, particularly southern California,  has some of the strictest measures in the US aimed at controlling NOx emissions. For that reason, I don't see how an ammonia engine would be at all welcome in California.

I may be mistaken, but aren't nitrogen oxides also considered a greenhouse gas?  

Of course, ammonia provides another way of killing you in the event of a spill/leak--LNG only provides explosion and asphyxiation. Breath deep.
That's what I was going to say. Anhydrous NH3 will kill you if just a little of the liquid gets on your skin.

Why not propane? That's a good source of stored hydrogen, relatively safe, etc.

The new EIA report shows US crude production at just over 5 mbpd over the past week. This is about 350,000 more than last year at the same time. Last year there was about 900,000 bpd shut-in from Katrina at this time, so without the hurricane damage we would be down 550,000 bpd, about 10%, compared to last year. (Rita was just around the corner).

I need experts!
Can anybody explain this?

Propane at 97.75, down from an already low $1.01, coming into winter?

To say this is astonishing is an understatement.  This is the hardest fuel to find market/contract/futures information on...so where's the bottom?  What's the deal?  I recently read that in China propane is the fastest growing fuel source, in particular in the countryside...anybody want to set up a string on this subject, and round up all the info we can muster?

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

My understanding that gas plants vary their liquids output, within limits, based on market conditions.  

If natural gas prices are high, they tend to sell the liquids as higher BTU gas.  If natural gas prices are low, they tend to extract and sell more liquids and sell the residue gas as lower BTU gas.  Given the spread between oil and natural gas, I assume that gas plants are cranking out propane like crazy.

It's all a question of what mix of liquids and residue gas maximizes the monthly net cash flow from the plant.

I am not a "downstream" guy, but this explanation makes sense to me.  

FYI--natural gas is bought and sold on the basis of BTU content, i.e., the price per million BTU's (MMBTU's).

Thanks Westexas,

As it happens, I have a contact who is a "downstream" guy, but he is as baffled as I am!

Apparently, all the infrastructure on the consumption side is built around natural gas, and no one in the U.S. at least has shown much interest in changing it.  I mean, how would they know that propane could not take off on price tomorrow, and wreck the investment?

Still, it is a tempting fuel.  It is clean, very low carbon content, and it is cheap for now.  It transports and stores so much better than natural gas, and can be stored for long periods without any degradation.  

On the natural gas measurement for market of MMBTU's, I was very aware of that, but what I have more trouble with is BTU equivalent of propane to gasoline.  In other words, how many gallons of propane would equal the energy content of one gallon of gasoline?

Remember, that the Propane does not require complex refining in the way gasoline does to be high quality and clean, another advantage!  There seems to be no refining or processing bottleneck.

Let me say as a disclaimer that I am not in the Propane business, so I am not "pumping" something I'm selling, but I am sure thinking of going into it at these prices! :-)

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

IIRC, propane is like ethanol in that it has approx 70% BTUs of gasoline on a volume basis. Here in the UK it is sold as motor fuel (LPG) at about half the cost of gasoline! But the conversion to your car is expensive at $2k+.
Thought I'd supply the link to the Iranian President's UN speech, since it's unlikely any US corporate "news" outfit will publish it. Yes, it's well worth reading.


Thanks, Karlof.  An interesting read.  I can see why Zionists, both Christian and Jewish,  and western imperialists want to shut him up, but I think he does express a welcome openess to Christians and Jews in general.  It is also difficult to dismiss the logic of his call for reform of the Security Council.

I wonder though how Hindu's respond to this statement:

"He commands His creatures to enjoin one another to righteousness and virtue and not to sin and transgression. All Divine prophets from the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Jesus Christ(peace be upon him), to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), have all called humanity to monotheism, justice, brotherhood, love and compassion. Is it not possible to build a better world based on monotheism, justice, love and respect for the rights of
human beings, and thereby transform animosities into friendship?"

It is interesting to me that only one of the four mentioned prophets, the latter, is actually verifiably an historic figure, which doesn't of course diminish the relevance of the others (though I never thought of Adam as a prophet).

Yes, I've found it unfortunate that he omits about 1/2 of humanity by only addressing "people of the book" in his speeches. Perhaps that is because that 1/2 has no quarrel with Iran and Islam, which makes it very hard for it to be said that the "international community" sees Iran as a threat.

For some reason, the official text of Chavez's speech isn't posted at the UN site, but here's a link to an unofficial transcript, http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0920-22.htm

Those wanting more of these can get a start at finding them here, http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/61/index.shtml

Given all the lies Bush has said at the UN, I'm surprised he didn't speak to an empty hall.

I doubt he would feel that Jews and Christians have a rightful place in the world if he really reads his Koran.  Watch what he does not what he says.
Natural gas fuels education in Wyoming

PINEDALE, Wyoming (AP) -- Thanks to natural gas, Wyoming's schools have money to burn.

In the little Pinedale district way out in sagebrush country, for example, every fifth-grader has a new laptop. Many lessons are shown on oversized computer screens instead of chalkboards. And there are plans for a $17.2 million aquatic center, with a three-story climbing wall, two racquetball courts and a competition-size pool.

Rising production and soaring prices for natural gas have helped Wyoming produce huge budget surpluses over the past few years -- $1.8 billion in 2006 alone and $900 million the year before that. And much of it has been pumped back into education.

The revenue stands to vault Wyoming above the rest of the country in per-student spending and represents a historic opportunity to transform education in this state and make it perhaps the finest in the country.

Amaranth dumps energy portfolio

Amaranth Advisors LLC, the Connecticut hedge fund that lost billions of dollars in energy trades in the last few weeks, told investors it has completed negotiations to transfer its energy portfolio to "a third party," according to a letter obtained by Reuters.

This Amaranth thing reminds me of that FinancialSense.com story, The Day After Tomorrow.  Only it was bad investments in GM that threatened hedge fund disaster, not natural gas.

How a Calgary natural gas trader lost $5 billion by gambling on the weather

Prior to 1990, natural gas was bought and sold as a basic commodity, with highly regulated prices. With deregulation, the New York Mercantile Exchange established the futures market for natural gas, allowing buyers and sellers to use financial instruments to lock in prices and hedge against sudden increases or declines. But the rambunctious traders at Enron felt unduly restricted by the regulatory oversight in the futures market

In December, 2000, at Enron's urging, legislators passed a law that allowed huge volumes of energy trading to be done off the New York exchange and without the oversight of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Enron took advantage of the loophole by attempting to corner the California power market, an effort that exploded in scandal in 2001. Five years later, Mr. Hunter exploited the same loophole to amass billion-dollar positions in the spreads between monthly contracts, an effort that also ended in a spectacular failure.

Ad notam Bolivia and the nationalization issue. (see headline at the top)

As far as i've seen the Norwegian support for Morales' move hasn't been reported in international media. The Norwegian minister of International Development, Erik Solheim, visited Morales circa one month ago. Apperently Morales wants advice on how to nationalize the resources and to demonstrate willingness to cooperation with western countries. The current Norwegian government seems positive to assist him. It's been fairly covered in Norwegian press.

" - It's obvious that Bolivia has been raped by foreign companies. Their wish for a bigger share of the wealth is quite natural, says Solheim."


Looks as though Chavez is upping the ante in the "see who blinks first":


President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has launched a robust defence of Iran's nuclear programme.
During a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr Chavez warned the world of dire consequences if his ally was attacked by the US.

Mr Chavez has threatened to cut off oil supplies to the US if provoked.

Please no offence here but "Loose Change" is loaded with emotional speculation.  I do not recommend it unless you have done some broad research about 9/11 and are able to separate the "wheat from the chaff"...


Can you provide an example or two of this "emotional speculation"?  Thanks.
Is Loose Change's speculation as good as when 9/11 Mysteries says "all the rescue dogs are dying"?  After all dog's don't die without a conspiracy reason, right?  Or how about the "noises behind the closed doors" part?  Or the "pull building seven" part?

If you want details point by point on the loose change video go here:


What really turns me off about loose change is mostly about the Pentagon.  There is simple more evidence that a plane hit the Pentagon than evidence saying it didn't so when a film focuses on the no plane it hurts their credibility.

I have watched a lot of these videos and the one I posted is in my opinion the best.  Do I agree with absolutely everything? No.  Is there some arguable flaws? Yes.  But I never have seen anything I agree with 100%.


What really turns me off about loose change is mostly about the Pentagon.  There is simple more evidence that a plane hit the Pentagon than evidence saying it didn't so when a film focuses on the no plane it hurts their credibility.
What Loose Change presents is that a cruise missle, not a jet plane hit the Pentagon.
Yes that's the problem.


Or the "pull building seven" part?

Actually that was what clinched it for me. The smooth symmetrical six second collapse and the tape of Silverstein saying "we decided to pull it". The rest of it, Alex Jones and the others, are all just so much noise. I hadn't seen any 7 WTC footage until about a year ago.

But I said I wasn't going to get into any more of these threads on TOD, so I won't. Any more. No really.

I see we're below $60 today on the little CLX06 chart btw ... look for it to rise again oh, about the second week of November ;^)

I actually have a gut feeling we will see NYMEX CL rebound in December (maybe late November or early January.)
AC, the teachable moment has passed.  100% of the people cognitively and psychologically capable of processing this information already have accepted the truth.  On the other side are the half of Americans who don't know how long it takes for the earth to travel around the sun and believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old.  Not to mention the 30% of Americans who don't know what year 9/11 was.  Then you have the people (usually honest trusting middle class folks) who have the native intelligence to know better but are in hysterical denial due to Stockholm Syndrome and the comforting mythology of "government" (meaning GW Bush, who they believe to actually be the head of government) incompetence - that would be most of the people on TOD.  Finally you have people who identify with the goals of the perps, and have chosen to be complicit through feigned willful ignorance and doublethink.    All of my former friends employed at LockheedMartin in Silicon Valley and my former friends from Stanford with dual citizenships working at money center banks fall into the latter category.  Kunstler also falls into the latter category.

I don't recall any movement for Reischstag fire truth arising from employees at I.G. Farben or for that matter from the great mass of the German people.  (Their view of reality didn't change until their country was defeated, occcupied, and re-educated.)  It isn't going to happen in the US either.  A thousand earnest people marching in T-shirts in a country of 300 million people is not a movement.  Due to the isolated nature of the North American landmass, the Homeland can never be occupied by outside powers.  Five years ago is ancient history.  The world has changed and it isn't going back.  Time to adapt and move on.

That was a great post Micro.  You are correct but for everyone that finally "gets it" you never know what could happen...

"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."


Sorry, Microhydo, off topic, but you don't do micro hydopower generation by any change?

Do you post over at www.otherpower.com?


The latest Mexican oil production statistics were published today. See http://www.pemex.com/index.cfm?action=content&sectionID=11&catID=67&subcatID=89

They show that in August production was up on July by 20,000 bpd, to 3,252,000 bpd. This is, however, down on August last year by over 150,000 bpd.

Gasoline prices continue to fall daily, odds are this will fuel a GOP win this November.

I am not pro GOP or Democrat, (and I can't wait to vote against any incumbent this election).

Collectively, the American public has a very short memory and have probably forgotten paying $3 a gallon already. They are focusing on gasoline going below $2. I bet we see an upsurge in SUV, Hummer and Truck sales soon. and record Xmas sales this December.  
I think i can hear the public singing now........"Happy days are here again!"

Ahh, but then after the elections are over then we will hear someone from the GOV singing.... "Turn out the lights, the partys over!"  

You would think this to be true, but I'm not so sure.  I don't see a stampede back to "everything's OK" attitude.  My company is not acting like we are going to have a pretty 4th QTR (I'm in wholesale/retail).  They are scared shitless about revenues...running around like headless chickens trying to figure out how to cut more costs and sell more products.  

Their thinking is "we have to focus on micro-marketing to the different consumers tastes" or "we just have to be more creative and innovative with our products".  What they don't want to admit is that people are buying less "want to haves" in deference to "need to haves".

I see alot of people preparing for the nameless storm.  Fixing up their house instead of selling.  Making choices on more efficient vehicles to buy.  I don't think the public has gone 180 degrees backward just yet.

Because it is not about the price of Gasoline at the pumps.

It is about the cost of my mortgage payment.

They are still pushing 4.6 to the 3rd decimal place mortgages.  They are still pushing old folks to cash into their home's value in equity or even when the home is paid for to get a loan for X amount of the value of it to have spending money.   People are spreading the word that the Credit Card debt is not a fun place to be at the end of the month.

2 years ago, at an elders retreat (Lutheran lay minster= elder) the talk was about house prices and how much people were going in over their heads and soon it was going to hurt them.   All but two of us had their own businesses and most of them tied into the Housing sector.  They were worried for themselves as much as the General new home buyers.

I know three ladies in the Real Estate business, One is in a booming market, the other two in failing and declining markets.  As they look at the houses not sold, or the asking prices going for less and less they wonder what their paycheck will buy.  Wal-mart just announced that this year will be the last year they have Lay-a-way as a service.  Claiming more up-town customers don't need it.  What it says to me is they are wanting to hire less people in the long run and they just found a way to cut staff without saying so on the record.

You are seeing the affects of the housing market slowing.  
Money that was there for the taking is moving off, going away.  People are thinking about staying home when the budgets get run and they are in the hole, no trips this year, no going out to eat every weekend.

The one cheery thing might be that gas for looking for a job in your car will be cheaper than 6 months ago.

Yes...I agree...the housing downturn has impacted people's thinking more than the good news of lower gasoline prices.
The report by Tom Whipple into the Australian Senate Inquiry is worth a look.

In one of the more telling findings, the report comments: "peak oil proponents have criticized official estimates of future oil supply with detailed and plausible arguments. The Committee is not aware of any official agency publications that attempt to rebut the peak oil arguments point by point in similar detail."