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The last of the fossil fuels ?

If the story of humankind starts with the invention of fire, then wood is the fuel that changed the world. But fast forward a million or so years to the Anthropocene age, and more than a third of the people on this planet are still so impoverished that they have no alternative. They must either search and gather wood for fuel if they live close to woodlands and forests or purchase the fuel as charcoal in the marketplace.

The pressure on the world’s forests is intense. When three billion people cook with wood and charcoal each day what is, in principle, a renewable source of energy is overwhelmed by the needs of millions of poor families that have no alternative but to gather wood wherever they can find it, or to cut down young trees if they can’t.

Analysts speak of an energy ladder.  Families are imagined as ascending from biomass fuels like firewood and charcoal, to kerosene and liquid petroleum gas (LPG), and finally to natural gas and then to the most powerful and magical of all fuels: electricity.

Around 3 billion people in developing countries (mostly women and girls) cook with wood and charcoal. The exposure to smoke and household air pollution kills several million women and young children every year.

For most low-income families in the developing world this idea is a fairy tale. They may have electricity, but in such small quantities that it is used for the most important tasks: lighting, and charging the ubiquitous (and essential) mobile phone.  Why waste precious electricity on something as mundane as cooking?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Essential Bug-Out Resources

Essential Bug-Out Resources

Solutions that have proved surprisingly essential during California’s wildfires

In my post yesterday Survival Learnings From A California Fire Evacuee, I promised to share the specific resources that have proved especially valuable during my family’s emergency evacuation due to the Kincade fire. So I’d better get to it…

Gas & Cash

Having now been surprised by two massive fires within the past two years, in both instances, the preparation I was most immediately grateful for — hands down — was having sufficient on-property stores of gasoline and cash.

The moment your community realizes that flight may be necessary, forget going to the gas station. In my area, the lines were 20+ cars deep.

Waiting in those kind of lines (when there’s no guarantee there will be gas left when your turn finally comes) can easily cause you to miss your window of safety. As I mentioned yesterday, my friends who tried to evacuate just 45 minutes after I did eventually had to turn back home because the roads out of town had become hopelessly gridlocked.

So get in the habit of keeping your cars’ fuel tanks topped off, especially during times of seasonal risk (fire season, hurricane season, flood season, etc). Make it a point never to return home with the gauge below half-full.

Also, keep at least a tank’s-worth of gasoline stored on your property. In my case, I have four 5-gallon gas cans. This ensures I can get to safety even if I’ve forgotten to keep the car tank full. And if I’ve remembered, I can throw the cans in the car for an extra 300+ miles of range.

Similarly, once the electricity goes out, the ATMs stop working. Having $500-$3,000 of emergency cash on hand to take with you makes a huge difference.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Another Lone Genius Saves the World with his Invention: How Naive can People be?

Another Lone Genius Saves the World with his Invention: How Naive can People be? 

Another lone scientist ready to save the world
When I stumbled into this article, I thought it was a joke. You know, the kind that goes, “Scientists find a solution to stop forest fires in the Amazon: all that’s needed is to cut the trees and turn it into a giant parking lot!” 
But no, it was supposed to be serious. The author of the post informs us in all seriousness that “A self-taught French scientist bankrolled by a French actor has come up with a brilliant solution to the problem of plastic wasteHis machine — dubbed “Chrysalis” — converts hard-to-recycle plastic trash into 65% diesel, 18% gasoline, 10% gas and 7% carbon.” 

In case you are perplexed, let me explain to you what this guy is proposing to do: 1) you extract oil and gas from the ground. 2) send it to a refinery and turn into plastics 3) manufacture plastic items and sell them, 4) throw away the plastic objects. 5) collect and separate the plastic waste 6) send the stuff to the machine developed by the self-taught French scientist, above. 7) Turn the stuff into liquid/solid/gaseous fuels. 8) separate the fuels. 9) Sell the fuels. 10) Burn them in inefficient thermal engines. And that’s called a “brilliant solution to the problem of plastic waste.” 
Now, what is the efficiency of this 10-step process? We have no data about the efficiency of the Chrysalis process, nor about how the inventor deals with the pollution it must necessarily produce. But, just looking at the number of steps involved, would you think that the whole chain could have an EROEI larger than one, the minimum needed for an energy-producing process to be viable? More likely, it would be way lower.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

March 28, 2019 Book review of Bryce’s “Power hungry: the myths of green energy and the real fuels of the future”

March 28, 2019 Book review of Bryce’s “Power hungry: the myths of green energy and the real fuels of the future”

Preface.  This is a book review of: Robert Bryce. 2009. Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future.

This is a brilliant book, very funny at times, a great way to sharpen your critical thinking skills, and complex ideas and principles expressed so enough anyone can understand them.

I have two main quibbles with his book.  I’ve written quite a bit about energy and resources in “When trucks stop running” and this website about why nuclear power and natural gas cannot get us out of the peak oil crisis (after all, natural gas and uranium are finite also).

This book came out in 2009. As far as his liking for nuclear power, perhaps Bryce would have been less enthusiastic if he’d read the 2013 “Too Hot to Touch: The Problem of High-Level Nuclear Waste” by W. A. Alley et al., Cambridge University Press.  And also the 2016 National Research Council “Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security of U.S. Nuclear Plants: Phase 2”.  As a result of this study, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Science Magazine concluded that a nuclear spent fuel fire at Peach Bottom in Pennsylvania could force up to 18 million people to evacuate. This is because the spent fuel is not stored under the containment vessel where the reactor is, which would keep the radioactivity from escaping, so if electric power were out for 12 to 31 days (depending on how hot the stored fuel was), the fuel from the reactor core cooling down in a nearby nuclear spent fuel pool could catch on fire and cause millions of flee from thousands of square miles of contaminated land.

Bryce on why the green economy won’t work:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The $70 Million “Investment”

The $70 Million “Investment”

Electric cars continue to cost lots of money – contrary to the now-forgotten original point of the exercise, which was once upon a time to find a lower-cost alternative to gas-powered cars.

That’s gone away because gas is so cheap that – even with all the add-on taxes (about a fourth of the cost of each gallon) and the cost of regulatory mandates (such as the ethanol mandate) that have made fuel both more expensive and less efficient than it would otherwise be – finding a cheaper source of energy is going to take something spectacular, and battery power isn’t it.

That  inconvenient truth plus government subsidization of high-performance luxury-sport cars that happen to be battery-powered has perverted the incentives for electric car development away from economy and efficiency, neither of which are even discussed anymore – as if it doesn’t matter how much money is thrown on the EV bonfire, so long as the flames burn brighter and higher.

Which brings us to the $70 million “investment” Porsche is making in so-called “fast” chargers for the almost-here Taycan, the company’s first electric high-performance car.

The “fast” in quotes to make snarky about the abuse of language.

These chargers are indeed faster than charging up an EV via a household outlet – which takes half a day or overnight, depending on how flat-lined the battery is when you first plug it in.

But they are still paralytically slow vs. the time it takes to refuel say a 911 with gas.

These “fast” charger are also located at dealerships, which means having to go to the dealership – and then wait at the dealership – while your very quick but very long to get quick again Taycan gradually reboots itself.

Better hope there isn’t a line…

One of the many problems no one’s talking about with regard to this electric clusterfuck is recharge stall (or parking spot) throughput.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Frank Kaminski reviews two peak oil documentaries from 2008

Frank Kaminski reviews two peak oil documentaries from 2008

BLIND SPOT: Peak Oil and the Coming Global Crisis

A Documentary Directed, Written, Photographed, and Edited by Adolfo Doring–1 hour, 26 minutes

and FUEL

A Documentary Directed and Narrated by Josh Tickell–1 hour, 52 minutes

These two documentaries on the world oil crisis came out in 2008, a time of growing concern over humankind’s energy future. In the decade since then, public interest in the issue has waned, but the relevance of these films hasn’t–they remain valuable, engaging portraits of the quandary we face at the end of the oil age. Blind Spot provides the proverbial 30,000-foot view of our situation, whereas Fuel gives a personal, on-the-ground account of one man’s activist crusade. Both films are far from perfect. One fails to adequately address how we should respond to our crisis, while the other is unrealistically optimistic about the responses it suggests. Still, both are important films, and they’re all the more compelling when viewed together, given their disparate but complementary perspectives.

A Documentary

Blind Spot is uncompromising about the realities we face as we leave the era of cheap, abundant oil behind. A formidable cast of geoscientists, physicists, environmental analysts, inventors and other experts details the essence of our plight. Our modern world, which requires ever-increasing quantities of easily obtainable oil, faces a future of ever-dwindling supply. Because oil is finite and the rate of new oil discoveries has been dropping since the early 1960s, logic and mathematics dictate that its production will eventually reach an all-time high, followed by permanent decline. The numbers indicate that the point of peak production, a phenomenon called “peak oil,” is imminent. And, sadly, alternative energy sources, for all the hype they’ve generated, are powerless to save us. They are nowhere near as energy-dense as oil, and we’ve already waited too long to invest meaningfully in them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Puerto Rico: When the electricity stops

Puerto Rico: When the electricity stops

When the electricity stops in modern civilization, pretty much everything else stops. Not even gasoline-powered vehicles can get far before they are obliged to seek a fill-up—which they cannot get because gas pumps rely on electricity to operate.

When I wrote “The storms are only going to get worse” three weeks ago, I thought the world would have to wait quite a while for a storm more devastating than hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But instead, Hurricane Maria followed right after them and shut down electricity on the entire island of Puerto Rico except for those buildings with on-site generators.

Another casualty was drinking water because, of course, in almost every location, it must be moved using pumps powered by electricity. In addition, the reason we remain uncertain of the full scope of the damage and danger on the island is that the communications system (powered by electricity, of course) failed almost completely.

The Associated Press reported that as of September 30, 10 days after Maria’s landfall, about 30 percent of telecommunications had been restored, 60 percent of the gas stations were able to dispense fuel and half of the supermarkets were open.

Presumably, these figures represent mostly urban areas where any single act of repair can restore services to many more people than in the countryside where conditions by all accounts remain desperate.

Unless power is restored soon to those areas still without it, many of life’s daily necessities—food, water, medicine—will remain beyond reach for substantial portions of Puerto Rico’s residents. The consequences of this are both predictable and dire. But the expectations are that weeks and months may pass before electricity again reaches the entire island.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What’s Your Plan B?

What’s Your Plan B?

Although Plan B includes a wide spectrum of options, these three basic categories define three different purposes for having an alternative residence lined up.

We all have a Plan A–continue living just like we’re living now.

Some of us have a Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t work out, and the reasons for a Plan B break out into three general categories:

1. Preppers who foresee the potential for a breakdown in Plan A due to a systemic “perfect storm” of events that could overwhelm the status quo’s ability to supply healthcare, food and transportation fuels for the nation’s heavily urbanized populace.

2. People who understand their employment is precarious and contingent, and they might have to move to another locale if they lose their job and can’t find another equivalent one quickly.

3. Those who tire of the stresses of maintaining Plan A and who long for a less stressful, less complex, cheaper and more fulfilling way of living.

The Fragility and Vulnerability of Highly Optimized Supply Chains

Many people are unaware of the fragility of the supply chains that truck in food, fuel and all the other commodities of industrialized comfort to cities. As a general rule, there are only a few days of food and fuel in a typical city, and any disruption quickly empties existing stocks. (Those interested in learning more might start with the book When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation.)

Most residents may not realize that the government’s emergency services are actually quite limited, and that a relatively small number of casualties/injured people (for example, a few thousand) in an urban area would overwhelm services designed to handle a relative handful of the millions of residents.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Natural gas is a stupid transportation fuel

Natural gas is a stupid transportation fuel

Although this article focuses on cars, the same critique applies to heavy-duty trucks as well, which need even bigger, heavier tanks.

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts:  KunstlerCast 253KunstlerCast278Peak Prosperity]

Service, R. F. October 31, 2014. Stepping on the gas. Science Vol. 346, Issue 6209, pp. 538-541 

At a conference on natural gas-powered vehicles Dane Boysen, head of a natural gas vehicle research program at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, said what industry stalwarts don’t want to hear:

“Honestly, natural gas is not that great of a transportation fuel.” In fact, he adds, “it’s a stupid fuel.”

This is because of the low energy density of natural gasA liter of gasoline will propel a typical car more than 10,000 meters down the road; a liter of natural gas just 13 metersEven when natural gas is chilled or jammed into a high-pressure tank—at a high cost of both energy and money—it still can’t match gasoline’s range.

Nevertheless, Boysen’s ARPAE project, called Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE), is in the middle of spending $30 million over 5 years to jump-start the development of natural gas-powered cars and light-duty trucks which now burn over 60% of oil used in transportation.

But as Stephen Yborra, who directs market development for NGVAmerica, puts it, “there are an awful lot of hurdles to overcome.” Honda, for example, already makes a natural gas version of its Civic sedan.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Are Gas Shortages Coming to America?

Are Gas Shortages Coming to America?

Gas shortages could be coming to America…and quickly.

An unexpected fuel crisis has hit Canada. According to a Canadian blogger andauthor, not one, but two, fuel tankers were inexplicably delayed last week, and shortages ensued alarmingly quickly, with numerous gas stations running completely out of fuel within a matter of days. Marie Beausoleil wrote:

The delay was long enough that gas stations across Nova Scotia ran out of gas, even with a week of rationing.  The gas stations knew the tankers were going to be late and starting rationing in advance.

By Thursdaystorage tanks in the city of Dartmouth were empty.

The tankers arrived on Friday and started the process of unloading.

By Saturday the shortage had spread to the smaller communities, the less busy gas stations.

By Sunday evening, motorists across the province were stranded and “Out of gas” signs were everywhere. It would take, people were warned, at least a week to get all service stations filled across the province (and if you’re not familiar with it, Nova Scotia is a very small place!) (Check out the rest of the article HERE)

If you couple a potential fuel shortage with the dramatic instability of the US stock market, it sure doesn’t paint a sunny  forecast for the American economy.

A major fuel shortage could send epic economic shockwaves across the country, since our economy is based on cheap oil.

It all boils down to this: the transportation system.

  • If we can’t transport goods, businesses will have nothing to sell.
  • If businesses have nothing to sell, they can’t keep their staff employed.
  • If people have no work, they have no money.
  • If a few items are available, they will be outrageously expensive and not many folks will be able to afford the goods.
  • If you DO have money, you still have very little to buy.

Lots of people like to shake their heads and say, “Oh, this won’t hurt me at all.” That’s pretty shortsighted, because a fuel shortage will affect EVERYONE. CDL Life News recently published this alarming infographic.

Transportation system shut down

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

 

 

5 signs of trouble for Saskatchewan’s economy in oil slump

5 signs of trouble for Saskatchewan’s economy in oil slump

Many said province could withstand economic blows from oil and gas, but there are troubling signs

When crude oil prices began to plummet, economists comforted Saskatchewan residents that their diversified economy would safeguard them during the oil and gas slump.

In fact, Saskatchewan’s economy isn’t that diverse.

The province relies heavily on natural resources: fuel, food and fertilizer.

fi-oil-pump-jacks-sask

The Canadian Association of Oil Drilling Contractors forecasts it will drill half as many wells in 2015 compared to 2014.

And while economists were banking on the agriculture and potash industries to offset energy losses, they’re no longer confident that will happen.

The potash industry remains strong in production, on par with its growth last year, but nitrogen prices have fallen about $60 US a tonne.

Most worrisome, it’s shaping up to be a disappointing crop year for many Saskatchewan farmers, thanks to an unwelcome mixture of spring frost, drought and poorly timed rains.

While cattle prices remain high, drought has jeopardized hay yields and could force some ranchers to sell off their herd.

The Bank of Montreal has already downgraded its growth projection for Saskatchewan this year from one per cent to half a per cent.

“It’s disappointing,” chief economist at the Bank of Montreal, Douglas Porter, said. “The likelihood of a pretty tough crop this year further dims the outlook for western Canada.”

The Royal Bank of Canada told CBC News it expects to downgrade its growth projection next month as well.

Premier Brad Wall says he’s still confident the province can overcome economic pressures, and points to his government’s four-year plan to spend $5.8 billion on infrastructure.

Still, there are already red flags for the economy. Here are five signs of trouble:

1. Housing sales

The honeymoon is over for Saskatchewan’s housing boom.

The Canadian Real Estate Association predicts house sales in Saskatchewan will decline by nearly 13 per cent this year.

 

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Starved for Energy, Pakistan Braces for a Water Crisis

Starved for Energy, Pakistan Braces for a Water Crisis

Energy-starved Pakistanis, their economy battered by chronic fuel and electricity shortages, may soon have to contend with a new resource crisis: major water shortages, the Pakistani government warned this week.

A combination of global climate change and local waste and mismanagement have led to an alarmingly rapid depletion of Pakistan’s water supply, said the minister for water and energy, Khawaja Muhammad Asif.

“Under the present situation, in the next six to seven years, Pakistan can be a water-starved country,” Mr. Asif said in an interview, echoing a warning that he first issued at a news conference in Lahore this week.

The prospect of a major water crisis in Pakistan, even if several years distant, offers a stark reminder of a growing challenge in other poor and densely populated countries that are vulnerable to global climate change.

In Pakistan, it poses a further challenge to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose government has come under sharp criticism for failing to end the country’s electricity crisis. In some rural areas, heavy rationing has meant that as little as four hours of electricity a day is available.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New Report Urges Western Governments to Reconsider Reliance on Biofuels

New Report Urges Western Governments to Reconsider Reliance on Biofuels

Western governments have made a wrong turn in energy policy by supporting the large-scale conversion of plants into fuel and should reconsider that strategy, according to a new report from a prominent environmental think tank.

Turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand, the report found. It added that continuing to pursue this strategy — which has already led to billions of dollars of investment — is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world’s growing population.

Some types of biofuels do make environmental sense, the report found, particularly those made from wastes like sawdust, tree trimmings and cornstalks. But their potential is limited, and these fuels should probably be used in airplanes, for which there is no alternative power source that could reduce emissions.

“I would say that many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated,” said Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization based in Washington that is publishing the report. “There are other, more effective routes to get to a low-carbon world.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Ukraine Cuts Power To Crimea Again, Halts Train Services | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Cuts Power To Crimea Again, Halts Train Services | Zero Hedge.

There was some expectation following the loud public response following Ukraine’s shut down of power to Crimea on Christmas Eve, that Kiev would treat the territory which it alleges is still part of Ukraine as, well, part of Ukraine. And sure enough, a few hours after the regionwide blackout was first reported, Ukraine restored power. Until today, when moments ago we learned that not only did Ukraine cut off electricity to Crimea earlier today, but also halted train services, moves which, according to the WSJ, could raise tensions with Russia, but which also will harden the local popluation’s pro-Russian determination even further.

Crimea’s Fuel and Energy Minister Sergei Egorov told Russia’s Interfax news agency that power was cut off at 1:50 p.m. Friday without warning. He said backup diesel generators and mobile turbine power plants were supplying critical infrastructure with electricity. More from WSJ:

The power cutoff is the second this week by Ukraine, which says it has electricity shortages of its own because rebels have halted shipments of coal to its power plants. The cutoff in railway services, however, could indicate Ukraine is stepping up its pressure of the peninsula.

Ukraine’s state rail company Ukrzaliznytsia on Friday said it would stop passenger and cargo train services to Crimea “in order to insure the safety of passengers.” The move will affect both Ukrainian and foreign trains traveling to the peninsula, the company said. It didn’t indicate when services would resume.

More from ABC:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Modi’s Gas Gambit Faces Hurdle of Coddled Indian Consumer – Bloomberg

Modi’s Gas Gambit Faces Hurdle of Coddled Indian Consumer – Bloomberg.

India’s first increase in natural gas prices since 2010 to reverse sliding production leaves a key weakness unresolved: consumers who don’t pay enough for power.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the gas tariff by about a third on Oct. 18, part of his biggest energy policy changes since taking office in May. Indebted utilities face the higher charge even as they’re required to sell electricity below cost, raising the risk they’ll favor less expensive sources of power.

“In the end, you need to charge users for their consumption — that’s the bottom line,” said Rajiv Biswas, chief Asia economist at IHS Global Insight inSingapore. Still, the gas revision is a “good” start to boost output, he said.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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