Prognostications for 2013 and Beyond

Posted on December 26, 2012
Posted By: Mark Gabriel
 
As famed physicist Niels Bohr once noted, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future". This is the time of year when we can reflect on what happened in 2012 and think forward to the coming 12-month cycle. Understanding Bohr's comment, I have ventured into some of thin ice of predicting the future -- with an understanding of what has transpired in the past. Here are four out-on-a-limb predictions.

  1. Electricity Demand: dead, dying or just napping? Other fancy predictions to the contrary, electric demand will start return during 2013 assuming we do not fall off of the fiscal cliff. It may not be "roaring" as it has been but the economic turn around, significant increase in consumer and commercial goods and the return of manufacturing in the U.S. will spur an increase in demand. This has happened with every economic rebound in the past 75 years and the belief that in the age of 100 million iPads, 27 new home loads and more factories going into production domestically the prediction that there will be a continued decline in demand is hard to fathom. Yes, energy efficiency has increased for consumer goods -- but the refrigerator of today, while being 75% more efficient is 200% bigger. The sheer number of flat screen televisions (supported by cable boxes and DVRs) is offsetting the compact fluorescents the industry supported for many years. Dead, dying or napping? I vote for napping.

  2. Renewable Expansion. and backlash? While Congress has other things on its mind right now besides extending the investment tax credit and production credit, renewables are here to stay and will continue to expand their presence in the marketplace. Unless the economy really craters, there will be a deal that extends the credits, albeit with tighter restrictions and timeframes. The real issue, as pointed out by the Little Hoover Commission1, will be the public's desire to pay for the higher costs. This is not a commentary about the value of renewables or their increasingly competitive nature as they stretch toward parity, but rather the issue of cost and the true willingness of the public to pay for a more expensive resource. Will renewables continue to expand? I say yes. Will there be more pushback from consumers (and regulators), most certainly so.

  3. Natural gas prices and coal. the grudge match continues? Low natural gas prices are doing to coal what environmentalists have been unable to do for 40 years. Coal continues to be a valuable and viable resource, yet in the world of economically logical utilities natural gas continues to set the price of electricity. Coupled with tepid demand, natural gas for the foreseeable future is the game changer. Despite recent actions concerning hydraulic fracturing, the plentiful resource will continue to moderate prices for electricity and spur its use in a host of other areas. And, the same technology will be used around the globe potentially quashing the hopes of export in the long term -- though the short-term market will be robust. Prediction: natural gas will continue to edge out coal on price; it will have a significant impact on electric vehicle sales as natural gas for vehicles expands rapidly and dramatically. But, in three years we will be wishing more coal plants had stayed on line.

  4. Rate surprises, welcome to 2013 and beyond? Several years of deferred rate increases, investments in smart technologies, expanded use of renewables and rebuilding after storms creates the perfect cocktail for increased consumer bills and the negative reaction that comes along with them. In many jurisdictions the regulators decided to hold off on allowing rates to rise during challenged economic times. In the same period requirements on utilities whether for power plant upgrades, smart meters or using more renewables or even just inflation results in an increase in rates. Ironically, this may force more customers to look at other options from self-generation to rooftop solar, putting more pressure on utilities. We are entering a period of regular rate increases, consumers looking elsewhere for their supply and contentious relations.

What can and should utilities be doing in light of these four predictions?

  • Make sure you have a strategic resource plan, not just an integrated resource plan. Align your strategy with your roadmap with your plan.

  • Rather, be proactive in your outreach and education programs to your stakeholders. Blaming regulators, the economy or the Mayan calendar will not provide any solace.

  • Make sure your appliance saturation studies, industrial load forecasts and planning efforts are up-to-date. Load and demand are changing rapidly.

  • Recognize that our business has changed and will continue to change. Prepare your business model for those changes.

References

  1. http://www.lhc.ca.gov/studies/214/Executive%20Summary.pdf

 
 
Authored By:
Mark Gabriel is the President and Founder of Power Pundits. He is a former Senior Vice President with Black & Veatch Management Consulting, Halcrow and was acting President a the Electric Power Research Institute. His book, Visions for a Sustainable Energy Future (Fairmont Press) won the 2009 Indie Excellence Award for Environmental Publishing.
 

Other Posts by: Mark Gabriel

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Comments

December, 29 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Good article Mark and I consider your predictions to be quite responsible and accurate. On the natural gas front I would argue that a significant factor will be the advent of LNG export terminals around the US and Canada. Originally constructed to bring LNG into North America these facilities are being converted to send LNG the other way. This will have two effects. First and foremost the price of gas will rise from its all-time lows and those utilities relying on it for significant portions of their generation mix are in for a big price shock unless they have fixed price contracts. Secondly the price of natural gas is far higher in Japan and south east Asia than it is in North America (7 - 8 times higher) thus the export market will prove to be very lucrative for gas companies who will export as much of it as they possibly can generating a powerful revenue stream for the USA and Canada which will boost their economies.

As far as wind, solar and other so-called renewable forms of energy goes - the Public will wake up soon to the fact that they have been lied to. The sticker price shock once the true costs are unleashed onto the bill payers will dampen any enthusiasm there might have been for such a foolhardy policy. As I have written elsewhere on this site the public cannot tell a megawatt from a milliwatt so it is easy to convince them that wind and solar can meet all their energy needs when it is quite obvious to any thinking person that it cannot do that. When the subsidies come off and the high price of this electricity manifests itself - watch out for the backlash.

And I could not agree with you more that any flat-lining of electricity demand is temporary and once the US economy starts to move again electricity providers are going to get caught with their demand pants down. US businesses are sitting on an unprecedented amount of cash and once confidence is restored or even starts to get back to normal the spending of this vast amount of money will translate into double digit energy demand increases that most utilities are completely unprepared for.

As you correctly state making things more energy efficient does not necessarily translate into demand reduction. Buying a flat panel TV to replace an old cathode ray tube set does translate into a reduced energy demand if it is a like for like replacement but the cost of these televisions has decreased so rapidly that now people are having two three or four installed in their homes which likely doubles the power demand that they had before. More energy efficient for sure but reduced demand - No way. In my case I now have one in every bedroom in the house (5) as well as the main one for a total of 6 when I used to have just one. I am sure my electricity demand went up not down.

But the big demand increases are going to come from a repatriation of manufacturing to North America. What is not often discussed in the utility business is the advent of robots in manufacturing. These machines operate on electricity and are replacing humans in many hitherto impossible manufacturing scenarios. These are smart robots that can emulate many activities only humans could perform. This will make North America cost competitive with China as their labour costs increase. Plus robots never go on strike, do not need pay cheques, don't get sick, don't need pension plans, follow directions to the letter and work 24 hours a day seven days a week. All they need is electricity. Demand is going to skyrocket as US business spends its trillions of accumulated capital on robotic factories. The utilities are not prepared for it.

Very good article Mark. Well done.

My prediction - there will be electricity shortages as demand increases and outpaces supply. Demand can be increased at the flick of a switch - supply takes years to build. That time lag will eat up any current surplus rapidly.

Malcolm

January, 01 2013

Len Gould says

Malcolm -- "What is not often discussed in the utility business is the advent of robots in manufacturing." -- Right, I like that you raised this issue. I suspect most utility companies are not following this possibility.

January, 02 2013

Bob Amorosi says

Very sobering and realistic comments Malcolm. My only query is over what time frame will these trends unfold. I suspect the demand increases will grow relatively very rapidly when you ALSO consider virtually all vehicle manufacturers are pushing to market rechargeable electric cars. As more and more R&D is invested in battery technologies, EV's will gradually get better ranges and become more and more attractive to average consumers as viable alternatives when shopping for a new car.

If the majority of utilities are unprepared for all this surge in demand, watch out for skyrocketing electricity rates over the next several years, or at least steady increases much higher than general inflation. There will be unprecedented pressures on consumers to conserve especially during peak demand periods.

Although today better efficiencies often spurs increased demand as we buy more and more efficient products as you say Malcolm, in future as utility bills approach the size of mortgage payments a growing proportion of consumers will start penny pinching where ever they can by reducing their demand and monitoring usage. They will also look for ways to get off the grid by investing in their own on-site generation, like those NG fuel cell generators you have posted about here before Malcolm. Energy efficiencies in TVs or other consumer products will become ever more important as selling features.

January, 02 2013

bill payne says

Liberal arts 'educated' energy parsites targeted.

BEFORE THE NEW MEXICO PUBLIC REGULATION COMMISSION

IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY OF NEW MEXICO FOR APPROVAL OF ELECTRIC EFFICIENCY PROGRAM AND PROGRAM COST TARIFF RIDER PURSUANT TO THE NEW MEXICO PUBLIC UTILITY AND EFFICIENT USE OF ENERGY ACTS.

PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY OF NEW MEXICO,

Applicant ) Case No. No 12-00317-UT

MOTION FOR LEAVE TO INTERVENE AND REQUEST FOR DISCOVERY

http://www.prosefights.org/prc317/prc317.htm#motion

Webberville TX solar facilities tour December 27, 2012.

xmas 2012.

January, 02 2013

Jack Ellis says

My guess is, demand growth in most places other than the industrial Midwest will not pick up as energy efficiency efforts finally get a little traction.

Whether the price of natural gas rises enough to make coal attractive again depends on a) whether exports are allowed, which is a wild card at this point, b) the all-in cost of a new, coal-fired plant with stringent emission controls other than for carbon, c) whether carbon capture and storage will be required on new coal-fired plants, d) whether gas producers can carry out hydraulic fracturing without contaminating urban water supplies. I'm not a fan of coal-fired power plants, but it's because they're nasty, dirty beasts. The only one I ever visited that was acceptably clean was the Cogentrix stoker-fired plant in Virginia.

Before we spend a fortune building more power plants, I'd like to see a genuine effort made to get more value out of the ones we already have. The load factor in California is around 53 percent and dropping. Why? Because regulators and utilities have not leveraged available research to deal with air conditioning loads that are largely responsible for the short-term demand spikes that drive the need for installed capacity, and because no one has carefully examined the tradeoff between the purported economies of scale that accompany larger central station plants and likely lower planning reserves that would be required if a larger number of smaller plants were built instead.

Jack Ellis, Tahoe City, CA

January, 02 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Jack, There is no doubt in my mind that North American natural gas prices are set to rise - and rise dramatically. You need to look at it in the world context which puts North American gas prices right at the very bottom of the heap - the lowest in the world - except for Qatar perhaps. The US clearly has no intention of restricting natural gas exports via LNG terminals that is why they have been approving the conversion of LNG export facilities. At least one of these is very near to completion and will start exporting this year. Canada also is building LNG facilities on the west coast. Since the North American gas market is highly integrated you can expect this too will drain off any surplus supply capacity and therefore the price will increase to the LNG export (world) price. As I noted earlier the price in Japan is about 7 or 8 times higher than in the USA or Canada which means the gas companies are going to be shipping LNG as fast as they can fill the tankers.

If you look behind the scenes you will observe that there is a severe shortage of LNG tanker capacity as it has already been booked in advance in preparation for the export boom from the USA and Canada. That is a clear indication that the market for natural gas is becoming a world market - not a continental one and that means prices here are going to increase. Even a doubling of the gas price will have dramatic affects on those utilities that are putting their eggs in the gas generation basket.

Regards

Malcolm

January, 02 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Jack, I too am no fan of coal fired plants but they are, as you say, the cheapest method of generating electricity. Of course that does not take into account the terrible human toll of extracting the stuff from the earth. Deaths from black lung disease, silicosis and fatalities resulting from the dangerous job of digging and moving millions of tons of the material daily to me make it a very very expensive method of making electricity.

In Ontario we are moving away from using coal fired plants to generate electricity and will have completely phased it out within two years. While I don't agree with everything the Ontario Government does this is one area where I think they have done a very good job and commend them for it. It has of course come at a price.

Although the cost write downs of these plants have been expensive (they are not at the end of their useful life) I agree that this is the very best thing for the Province. The number of smog days in Toronto has decreased from around 50 a year to 5 and while some of this may be attributable to heavy industries (steel works) closing, a large part of it is due to the reduction in coal fired generation. The health effects both in the form of coal not mined for these plants and the cleaner air resulting from not burning it are most definitely reducing the costs of health care.

I have worked in coal fired stations (I was a control room operator at Lakeview TGS for a brief period in my life) and can attest to the fact that they are a very dirty method of generating electricity. That is accounting for the fact that Ontario plants are among the cleanest in the world - which does not say much for the rest of them.

I also am in agreement with you that we need to get more value from the plants that we have although I would add that many of the plants in the USA have paid for themselves many many times over and should probably be demolished. Again in Ontario we have used much cleaner burning natural gas and have constructed several large combined cycle natural gas plants which operate at cycle efficiencies of over 60%. We have a powerful backbone of nuclear generation backed up with hydroelectric and natural gas and will be (if not already) one of the greenest electricity generation regions in the world. This has not come cheaply but then what price does one put on the life of a coal miner or old people suffering from respiratory diseases.

Unfortunately you cannot get away from building new plants - whatever their fuel. These are complex machines with a definite life expectancy and they need to be replaced periodically. I don't think you would disagree that it does make sense to replace an oil/gas fired plant operating at 35% efficiency with a new combined cycle plant operating at 65% efficiency. You get almost double the electricity from the same number of cubic feet of gas input. That is what really should drive new plant construction.

As you may have noted from previous posts I am no fan of global warming but if you are in agreement with that philosophy then it certainly makes sense to phase out the least efficient fossil fire plants as has been done in Ontario.

The difficulty of building smaller plants is that the same Not-In-My-Back-Yard principle applies as it does to larger ones. I can assure you that there is great animosity in many rural communities regarding the construction of 2MW windmills so it is not the size that matters but the location. Big or small people do not want generating stations near to them.

Good post Jack - in general agreement with the principles - bhut plants only last about 40 years so you have to replace them even with zero growth in electricity demand.

Malcolm

January, 02 2013

bill payne says

Words, words, and more words.

Do you have a laboratory? Can we see some results? Where are results published?

Or are we reading BS?




http://www.prosefights.org/prc317/prc317.htm#motion

January, 03 2013

Jim Beyer says

See Wall Street Journal article for January 3, 2013 page B1.

"U.S. Electricity Use on Wane"

They cite improved efficiency such that usage is only rising 0.7 percent per year.

If I were in the electricity industry, I'd be working harder to get EVs and PHEVs going.

January, 03 2013

Jim Beyer says

Malcolm,

Few people watch all of their TVs at once.

January, 03 2013

Len Gould says

Bill Payne. Whatever agenda you think you're promoting (and that is not at all clear), I assure you you're only hurting it with your posts here.

January, 04 2013

Don Hirschberg says

Formatted at too many symbols per line I find this week's Energy Pulse inconvenient to read.

January, 05 2013

Jim Beyer says

Don,

You can thank Bill "Pain" for that. His postings are almost always incoherent and without context.

-Jim

January, 05 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Bill, I would be interested in your comments but it is not at all clear to me what you are trying to get across. What precisely is the significance of a USPS parcel tracking number??

Jim, you are making the erroneous assumption that I am the only person in my house and therefore can only watch one television at a time. There are in fact 8 people in my house and I do assure you that all of the televisions can indeed be on all at the same time. If I were the only person your post would be likely have some credibility but I am not and it is quite possible that 8 people can watch 5 televisions. However to cut you some slack our family often does watch just the one TV for special events when we do all want to watch the same program.

Malcolm

January, 05 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

While you may be correct in saying that electricity use appears to be on the wane I would be careful with jumping to too many conclusions. While it is encouraging to see more efficient use of electrical energy (we waste a huge amount of energy to produce it) the real reason for the slow down in the rate of increase is due more to economic factors than anything else. The biggest consumers of power are industrial customers and when factories are not humming along making things demand will be lower than normal.

That is of course why the advent of robotic manufacturing plants is going to be critical. This will do two things. 1. It will increase electricity demand as more human manual labour is replaced by electricity consuming robots. People operate on food - robots operate on electricity..2 Robots are becoming very cheap with ever greater capabilities to the point that they will soon become much much cheaper than Chinese or Korean or Taiwanese labour. For the same reason that businesses moved manufacturing TO China the reverse will also happen. Once it becomes cheaper to make goods in the USA once again companies will want to save transportation costs and move their plants back to North America. Hundreds of robotic plants operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week will increase the rate of growth of electricity consumption.

I would not like to be an electricity industry planner these days. It is a very difficult job and so easy to make erroneous assumptions.

Malcolm

January, 07 2013

Richard Vesel says

I wonder why anyone would think that the availability of cheap shale gas is somehow going to be limited to North America???

I submit that anyplace where you have had the right combinations of conditions which produced the seas, hence the shales, hences the gas, will be able to produce their own cheap gas soon enough. As of February of last year, I know firsthand that Israel has a shalegas project, and that they are ready to convert several coal-fired boilers over to gas-firing. I have suggested to some R&D colleagues in China that there exist multiple potential sites for shale gas development. Fracking is no longer rocket science, and is a completely exportable and deployable commercial technology.

If you look at two maps of the US where you overlay maps of coal deposit and shale gas formations, you will see a high degree of overlap, which I feel a strong statistical correlation. The same might apply for oil & gas elsewhere. I believe we are at the leading edge of a global buyer's market for gas, and the switch is "on" for a conversion of stationary power generation sites to gas, as low-cost supply will be more or less guaranteed for the lifetime of a CCGT plant (25 years).

Demand issues will be swamped out by this economic reality, and new CCGT plants are quite realizable at $1/watt final cost, v. coal at $2-3/watt, and nuclear at $510/watt. I projected this to be the new dynamic in the North American market back in mid-2009, and by April of 2011, coal and gas generation were (temporarily) tied at 32%. New CCGT plants can be erected and operational in less than 18 months, easily being capable of managing all but the wildest of rapid demand escalation scenarios.

I will also stick my neck out further, and claim that gas will not exceed $6/mcf (about 1 mmBtu) in any significant way or for any significant time, for the foreseeable future, at least ten years.

Regards to all, RWVesel

January, 07 2013

Richard Vesel says

Typo correction to the above: "Nuclear at $5-10/watt" RWV

January, 08 2013

Don Hirschberg says

It seems to me that the frac gas bonanza has set us up for an even worse human die-off than I have ever envisioned. Extending the era of fossil fuels means more time for population growth to subsume progress. And more decades of increased CO2 emissions.

Even if we learn how to make electricity with fusion plants – even tomorrow morning, would any ever get built? Fusion is the Philosopher's ultimate energy solution and yet it seems to be but a fool's effort, already too late..

January, 08 2013

Richard Vesel says

Don,

Conversion, in the short term, to methane (NG), for fossil-fired generation, and for some vehicular fuels, results in an immediate CO2 reduction for those converted sources of 50%+, due to much greater efficiency of CCGT power plants, and more energy in methane coming from Hydrogen rather than Carbon. (You can look up these numbers yourself). We don't have to wait years for CCS technology to maybe work, and to maybe be cheap enough to use. Converting to methane now will beat any viable road to CCS hands down.

Next, we already have a built-in infrastructure for methane ... it just needs some expansion. So you can forget the so-called "hydrogen economy" which would need a totally new, parallel, and expensive infrastructure. It simply won't be needed. Carbon can be the carrier for hydrogen (it already IS, in fact). This infrastructure is ready and waiting to connect to "green" methane, where the carbon comes as recycled material from the biosphere, rather than from deep underground. So as bio-methane sources are developed on a larger scale, there is no fuel transportation issue to deal with.

Fusion (which I studied as a grad student in college) is still an academic pursuit, and all routes still point towards a hazardous waste disposal issue which we still haven't solved for the fission plants yet. Yes, as an academic pursuit, it is still worthwhile, but we can't WAIT around for that nut to be cracked. It is the WAITING, and doing business as usual during that waiting period - that is what is really killing the planet (but not killing us directly, as we can stand CO2 at 5000ppm+, as I've recently discovered - ugh!).

I think we ultimately go fossil-carbon free (well at least 99% free), but never carbon-free. To get there has to be accomplished in meaningful stages, and methane helps make this possible, as an improvement to the generation mix which yes, does include nuclear, wind, solar, geo-thermal, tidal energy, etc. The main idea is to get off boilers burning coal at 33-36% efficiency with high fossil CO2 by-product. Commercial CCGT's are 55-60%, and next generation experimental versions are pushing 70%+. That would mean a 70%+ reduction in CO2 over coal-fired boiler technology. That still beats any parasitic CCS technology cost&deployment scenario, hands down.

Regards, RWVesel

January, 08 2013

Don Hirschberg says

Richard, I find little fault with what you have written – except it doesn't deal with what I was talking about.

When I was born world population was nearing 2 billion. It had rocketed up from an all-time peak of 0.3 billion only a thousand years ago.

Except in the US there was almost no gasoline used nor oil produced world wide. I saw matinee newsreels showing Italians invading Ethiopia and Germans invading Poland with horse-drawn artillery, caissons and wagons.

Americans were already absolutely dependent on coal. It heated our houses, ran our industries, our (excellent) rail service and ships. Fueled quite magnificent steam tractors and thrashing machines and generated our electricity. Worldwide, fewer went without electricity than do today.

Those who do not have electric service today over many generations never had the money to buy the cheapest. Now, those of us who have electric service say that those who don't need to buy the most efficient and greenest plants.

And every year population grows at about 0.1 billion a year and they all come without electricity. Since Kyoto base year of 1990 coal usage increase has been meteoric. Reduce coal usage? Hell, we can't even bend over the curve.

What to do when headed for an abyss? Speed up of course.

January, 08 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Richard, Very astute observations. Shale gas is indeed not confined to North America and I expect large finds to be discovered everywhere around the globe which will eventually lower the worldwide price of natural gas. But the WORLD gas price has a long way to come down. LNG shipments make natural gas a commodity priced worldwide rather than continentally as is the present case. It will be traded just like oil is.

Malcolm

January, 08 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

I cannot disagree with you Don although I would point you to one corner of the world (my corner in Ontario Canada) where coal use has dropped dramatically to the point where in 2014 there will be no coal fired plants operating in Ontario. The coal has been replaced by increased use of nuclear. We have refurbished 4 nuclear units since 2003 which are all now in operation. But the main star has been the move to combined cycle gas generation. As Richard says the 30 to 36% efficient coal fired plants operating on steam cycles has been largely replaced by natural gas fired combined cycle plants operating at 60% if Richard is right and the long term price of natural gas stays down in the $6 range then this will not only have been a good environmental decision but an astute economic one too.

Much hinges on the sustainability of the shale gas deposits which I am told behave very differently than normal gas wells.

But I am convinced that the future lies with natural gas until we figure out fusion reactors. In the meantime load following nuclear fission plants would be the ideal solution.

Malcolm

January, 08 2013

Don Hirschberg says

The nasty way the world works is that to solve any problem one has to start from now. There are no re-deals. Alas, only arithmetic counts. Ontarians can feel noble about reducing their coal consumption – but that's about the only benefit. The coal will get burned with a lot more energy expended getting it to places such as China, India, Indonesia, Korea, etc.

And it really doesn't make much difference whether Canada, Denmark – even Germany burn coal or not. (The last I looked the hectoring, and hard to embarrass Germans were still getting 44% of their electricity from coal. Population growth replaces a Germany every year.)

CO2 from shale gas is the same stuff as from coal or cattle but one would never know it from the hype and quoted , percentages. Baloney. Only tons that count. And we are all pissing in the same pool.

I very crudely figured that the last time we ;might have managed some kind of sustainability was before 1966 or so when world population was about 3.5 billion.

What Malcolm and Richard are touting seems to me is decades of more population and CO2 emission growth. Precisely what we don't want. I don't know what the tripwire for the die-off will be. (Maybe fresh water.)

Has one step been taken?

January, 09 2013

Ferdinand E. Banks says

Don, this morning they were bragging on Swedish TV about how many immigrants entered the country last year. At the same time there has been a discussion about the downgrading of medical care - which almost certainly means medical for pensioners - and also the bad results that are being obtained in some schools.

You see, Don, as the French say, when you are stupid it's forever. I try hard not to believe that, but I dont think that I can make it.

January, 09 2013

Richard Vesel says

Don, I am merely advocating a practical path towards reducing the CO2/GHG footprint per person on the planet, eventually getting to near-zero fossil carbon over the course of less than 100 years.

The issues of population growth are part of the overall picture, but social engineering is outside the scope of this forum, don't you think?

However, here is what has been historically successful methods for reducing population growth (humanely!): Education Improved standards of living Education Transition from rudimentary agrarian economies to industrial ones (but we need to manage the growth of energy and resource intensive industries) Oh, and did I mention Education??? Social empowerment and equalization for women EDUCATION

I have created an excel-based model for CO2 levels, based on populaton, CO2 footprint per capita annual changes, and a few other details. The model was fitted to known historical data back to about 1600, up through current info. Management of atmospheric CO2 requires control of both factors - Fossil-carbon CO2 per person AND population. Happy to pass the model along to any interested party!

Regards, RWV

January, 09 2013

Richard Vesel says

Malcolm,

The Middle East Oil fields were flaring gas off for decades, and have only recentty begun to tame this free resource and use it for power, desalination,etc. There has been plenty there for export IF anyone had had the foresight to develop the LNG infrastructure. ME traditional resources are stlll larger than US shale gas estimates, but the largest are in politically unstable areas, and they don't yet have the will to develop gas for exportation. I don't think supply will be a problem, as long as there is a foreseeable pattern in the demand curve.

I believe that the environmental community has an obligation to help eliminate coal-for-energy in a viable stepwise fashion, rather than merely advocating zero-CO2 solutions exclusively. If we can practically reduce total GHG emissions by 50% in 15 years, this is huge step forward, even tho it does not totally solve the problem in the longer term.

RWV

January, 09 2013

Don Hirschberg says

Richard. I worry that someone will tell me, “If you say it one more time I'm going to pop you on the nose.”

I'll say it anyway. Population is not A problem, it is THE problem.

You mention solutions taking a hundred years. I believe there is no way our civilization can survive for even decades. Wherever I look I see the situation getting worse. (I am reminded of the German expression -one of the few I remember from HS Deutsch: immer schlimmer I thought it was hilarious at the time.)

DAILY 20,000 to maybe 30,000 children die from diarrhea as the result of bad drinking water. It would be humane to put a few drops of bleach in their drinking water and increase the growth rate of world population. But we don't hear about this.

All my life I have been hearing how education solves problems. There are about 52 countries in sub Saharan Africa. “About” because no one seems to know. There are tons of data telling us that average IQ's are about 70. We simply don't know how to educate such people to a competitive level – at any cost. (Consider: half would be below 70.) Who is going to finance, design, build, operate and regulate efficient green generating plants and grid? Not to mention civil order.

Professor, 40 million Frenchmen can't be wrong.

January, 09 2013

Len Gould says

Don says "And it really doesn't make much difference whether Canada, Denmark – even Germany burn coal or not. " -- Would you also apply that statement to the US? Certainly the US could have done the same moves as Canada, with little additional hardship compared to Canada using a similar 20 yr plan; eg. nuclear to replace coal in areas of concentrated population (Ontario), CCGT in less concentrated areas (prairies).

January, 09 2013

Don Hirschberg says

Len, Canada is blessed with great hydro capacity. So being green is not the reach that it is for nearly all other countries. But then don't Canadians use the most electricity per capita? (There is Norway but they don't have any people.)

When Ontario reduced coal usage it didn't make one end unit on world coal consumption. In 20011more coal was burned than any year in history – despite recessions and grandiose claims about wind and solar and touted efficiency improvements. Have not hundreds of coal burners been built in China and India and Indonesia since Ontario shut down a few?

Perhaps it is a little rude to mention but Canada's image should include the tar sand projects.

Remember Kyoto? We were told that “all competent scientists” agreed we were already over the cliff at the CO2 rates then. Too late. There could be no return. Coal,oil and gas usage has gone up dramatically since. The curve hasn't even been bent. I am not aware of any of those competent scientist who has said,” oops, we were wrong and we should have said....”. I was quite uneasy and lonely about calling the Kyoto Protocol a fraud.

I don't understand your reference to populated areas.

January, 09 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Don, You have never heard me disagree with you that population is a major problem neither did I say that Ontario made a great impact on the world consumption of coal. What I did tell you is that getting off coal is very possible and Ontario - as insignificant as it may seem in the world scheme of things - has shown that it can be done and very quickly. You also need to bone up on your geography. I know Americans are not the best in the world at knowing the geography of another country other than their own but while Canada is endowed with excellent hydroelectric capability Ontario tapped that source out decades ago. There are a few hydroelectric projects on the go - the Niagara tunnel and some Northern Rivers but that is about it for hydroelectric production.

There will be no great tipping point as you imagine will occur just as the end of the world did not come because some nitwit decided the Mayan calendar predicted it. Richard has much more of a handle on it I think and the data clearly shows that curbing population growth is linked to wealth and health.

Of course to apply your logic we should burn more coal so that more people die of lung disease cancer and respiratory diseases so that the population dies off. We should stop inventing drugs and surgeries that save peoples lives because we do not want to save people any more because we have a population that some consider too big. Maybe we should cull out all the over 80's or the over 70's (if that includes you I am sorry but it must be done).

Rather than throwing your hands up and telling us the same thing over and over your time would be far better spent developing the solutions and there are always solutions. You say there is a food shortage - there is not. You say there is a water shortage - there is not so you are fast convincing me that population is really not the great problem you think it is.

The truth is that more people are alive and living longer and enjoying vastly higher living standards than ever before in human history. Add to that that within this generation we have been able for the first time to leave the planet routinely - even went to the Moon a few times and have now discovered an estimated seventeen BILLION earth like planets to me that is cause for great optimism - not the pessimism which has unfortunately and sadly become your modus operandi. But no doubt you will see all the negatives in what I have said here. But look around you - all those billions of mouths to feed are also intelligent people who will find solutions to all the problems you speak of. One or more of them is the next Einstein or the one that solves the fusion problem. Who knows.

For my part I will keep on plugging away making our current fleet of nuclear power plants last longer, run better and keep churning out the electricity to keep the lights on and power the devises we are all using to air our opinions - even if some are rather jaded.

Malcolm

January, 09 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Thanks for the observations on methane gas. I would like to point out that LNG is not a new development and the UK did import liquefied natural gas before it discovered gas under the North Sea.. It used to make gas from coal but it ended that practice in the late 50's when it began importing LNG into a large terminal at Canvey Island in the County of Essex. Most of it came from Algeria and the Middle East. The technology has been well established for many years and if I am not mistaken the volume reduction is of the order of 60000 times making it a very transportable fuel. Ever since I can remember there has been some-one telling me that we are running out of this or that. First the Club of Rome predicted we would run out of everything by 1995. We're still here. Now we are running out of oil, or gas or copper, or iron ore. The fact is that no-one knows how much of anything there is in the earth's crust therefore no-one can possibly predict when we will run out of anything. The USA - once totally dependent on imported oil is set to start exporting both oil and natural gas by 2018. It will be a larger oil producer than Saudi Arabia. so what happened to peak oil? The much maligned tar sands has trillions of barrels of oil and newer technologies are rapidly changing both the efficiency and the cleanliness of the operation. Running out of oil we are not. The key of course is technology. As an example I like to use the discovery of Aluminium. While it seems comical today the metal was once considered more precious than gold because it was so rare. Now of course technology unlocked aluminium from Bauxite cheaply. Applying the demand supply equation 150 years ago and aluminium would run out in a few years. Applying it now and adding good recycling of the metal and it is suddenly plentiful as well as cheap. And if adding a few drops of chlorine to drinking water is all it takes to stop 30,000 children dying who will be the first here to hop on a plane and go and do it. A 17 year old friend of mine - you know the TV generation we all deride - is in Africa doing just that. Those are the people who will solve the insurmountable problems. Malcolm

January, 09 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

And if I hear anyone tell me we are running out of water and this will cause the end of the world please give your head a big big shake. That stuff that is several miles deep in places and thousands of miles wide is called water. It just needs the salt taken out. That is a technology problem NOT a resource problem. It will be solved. Malcolm

January, 10 2013

Don Hirschberg says

Malcolm your comments contain so much that is irrelevant, factually wrong, containing straw men, insults, and selectively ignores what I have already dealt with that that I despair of making a cogent reply. Am I to deal with the Mayan Calender, the pre-Hall Process price of aluminum, the false characterization of US dependance on imported oil, the revelation that the oceans contain water, the club of Rome criticism....

Who is (are) the WE who should be solving world problems. Has any world problem ever been solved by this rhetorical we? Ever. Even once?

You say we are better off today. That depends on how you measure. A thousand years ago world population peaked at 0.3 billion. Even if half were miserable that is a small number compared to today when perhaps 1 to 2 billion are either suffering malnutrition or outright starvation. Children were not being gang raped as is common in South Africa (for one) today.

Who is interested in solutions? Namely Europe, North America and Japan, South Korea, Australia and a few others. Something like a billion of us lucky ones who are (too) well fed and always have the electricity we want. (and maybe another billion else ware.) That leaves about 5 billion who want to be like us.

Are these 5 billion losing sleep about CO2 emissions?

As to those 20 to 30 thousand children who die from diarrhea EVERY DAY the solution has not been so easy. The (US) Peace Corps made great attempts as did the UN to little avail. Nothing is so fatuous as trying to help or educate those who are not receptive or ill-endowed..

January, 10 2013

Len Gould says

Don. Two issues.

1) BBC today broadcast a definitive study showing MORE THAN HALF of all human food produced in the world today is wasted. What we need is a) better transport and storage systems in developing world. b) better re-processing systems to properly utilize food which is thrown away at the pre-consumer level. c) Wiser consumers who will learn not to cook too much then throw away half.

2) The oil sands are not the "huge CO2 producer" you fools all claim. (sorry, but this repeated explaining is getting really tedious). a) Studies prove that, well-to-wheels, petroleum from oil sands releases about the same amount of GHG's as the typical heavy petroleum from Venezuela or S. Arabia, which constitute most of US imports. See Nat Research Canada - Oil Sands - A strategic resource for Canada, North America and the global market [Quote]Oil sands-derived crude oil, on a life-cycle, or “well-towheels” basis, is on average 5 to 15 percent more GHGintensive than emissions from average crude oil. In some cases, oil sands crude has similar or lower life-cycle emissions than other heavy crude oil.[/Quote] With references. b) Most new development in oil sands are "In Situ" production, which uses much less energy. c) Alberta is now building an HVDC backbone North-South so that the gas used to produce heat in oil sands production can first generate electricity, and the heat is just the waste heat from the turbine generators. (Note: This would have been done long ago if the US would get honest about NAFTA and stop blocking electricity imports from Alberta.)

January, 10 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

You keep saying Don that there is some point at which the world will collapse when there are too many of us. You now have totally convinced me that what you say is complete hogwash. Like many doomsdayers (and I am sure that is an accurate definition) you ignore human ingenuity and technology which had proved people like yourself wrong time after time after time.

Those remaining 5 billion people WILL get the standard of living that we enjoy here and they will get there rapidly.I do not know of too many people who would want to live in the world of 1000 years ago so making such a comparison that only half of those were in misery is a fatuous and rather stupid argument.

And where did the gang rape argument come into it - people have been doing bad things to other people for time immemorial and THAT has absolutely nothing to do with whether one is poor or rich. And you level a criticism at me for irrelevancy.

As Len notes the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (note engineers NOT politicians) produced a report this week that showed how much food is thrown away in Europe. Add that to all the overweight people in North America who eat far too much and you can see why your argument that food production cannot feed the 7 billion of us is garbage. The world ALREADY produces enough food to feed everyone on the planet - most of it is wasted so the idiot politicians in Europe can ensure that all the tomatoes are round and of the same colour and all the eggs pass the Euro test for consistency. THAT is the stupidity that has to stop.

The problem is NOT population it is distribution.

I read an article today from Nigel LAwson the ex Minister of Energy in MArgaret Thatchers Government. Beneath Blackpool in England there sits an shale gas field estimated at 16 trillion cubic feet. Enough to keep all of Europe going for a hundred years.

Yes you are right on one thing .... I should not refer to the "WE" as it is quite clear you only see problems and have no solutions. M

January, 10 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Len, Part of Nigel Lawons has some very interesting data that debunks the peak oil theory. That theory says that oil production has peaked and will be in decline from now. The data from the last 5 years has turned that fully upside down. Oil production is going up not down...largely as a result of oil deposits like the tar sands and oil shales. The main point which Don ignored of course is that you can only determine when you will run out of something of you know exactly how much of it is there. Patently we do not know how much of anything is there. That is why the earth can easily support the 7 billion of us at the same or higher standard of living than we have in Canada.

Don's problem is he uses data from the past to extrapolate into the future and that is always a mistake because the future is the one thing we know nothing about. We have no idea what technologies will change the way we live.Just 30 short years ago what we are doing now was a pipe dream. Now it is reality, Flipping data around the world instantly. I do not understand why Don does not see that the very technology he is using to communicate his thoughts is the very same technology that is conveying information to poor people all over the world how to change things. There are 5 billion cell phones in the world - so that means that some of those so-called dirt poor people he talks about are walking around with cell phones in their hands.

Information is the key. The biggest change occurring right in front of our eyes is the speed of moving information - read solutions to problems that can and will change billions of peoples lives.

Using his data there are 5 billion out of 7 billion thats are destitute (the number is wrong but for the sake of argument I'll go along with it) There are 5 billion cell phones in use today that means that 3 billion of those destitute folks have cell phones. They did not have THOSE a thousand years ago a significant difference not even mentioned.

So - plenty of oil, plenty of natural gas, plenty of Uranium and just about everything else you can think of. More than enough to bring every single person on the planet to a comfortable standard of living.

And the irrelevance of my comments about Aluminium is that technology changes EVERYTHING.

Malcolm

January, 10 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

oops Should read Nigel Lawsons commentary.

Malcolm

January, 11 2013

Don Hirschberg says

I am pleased that my critics find my prognosis too dismal rather than too sanguine. I have often written that I wished my conclusions were wrong. But as I learned from Mother Goose, if wishes were horses beggars would ride.

I can't deal with everything wherein I am cited as being wrong tonight.

Take education ,always cited as a solution. Sorry Jefferson but your “all men are created equal” is about the dumbest thing ever enshrined if taken literally. And I don't think for a second that he had in mind including Blacks when he wrote it. He knew Englishmen, Americans like himself.

At the time he wrote it American Blacks were still African Blacks. No one, Europeans or Arabs, considered those naked aboriginal Africans as equals. They were enslaved by everyone with whom they came in contact, including their African brethren who became the slave trade sellers.

Africans were thought to be dumb. And everything seems to support that notion. Those brought to the English Colonies, later the US were arguably better off than their kin left behind. Today American Blacks are healthier and smarter and far richer than their cousins in Africa. American Blacks have average IQ's of 85 while those left behind have IQ's of about 70. A huge difference. American Blacks are about 25% white.

Nobody knows how to educate those with IQ's of 70. In the US we have the problem of educating those with 85 IQ's alongside those with 100 IQ's. While it easy to decide on statistics in reality there are some high IQ Blacks and some low IQ whites. But we are forced to act as if all were created equal.

It is not politically correct to cite but performance comparisons by race are devastating. In the same schools Black HS seniors test poorer than white 8th graders in both reading and arithmetic. The comparisons are even more devastating when one considers the efforts to narrow the gap.

January, 11 2013

Ferdinand E. Banks says

Don, like me you probably were in the segregated US Army, and also the integrated US Army. I dont really think that anything was lost by integrating the army, and many of the people who became in favor of integration were probably the same people who, earlier, said that integration would never work. I'm speaking of course of generals, and not latrine lawyers.

For various reasons I find your constant comparing of the IQs and abilities of blacks and white annoying, but at the same time I find all of this interesting and useful. One of the reasons is that I cannot stomach Mr Obama because he has not done what should be done to make the schools of the US a shining example for the rest of the world. Instead of 8 wasted years under Bush, now we are going to register 16. Every dollar, or for that matter every penny wasted in those stupid wars on the other side of the world should have gone into primary and secondary education.

January, 11 2013

Richard Vesel says

Fred,

Generally I would say "Amen", but the fact is that President Obama, of whom I am a great admirer, has spent four years mainly doing damage control. It should be patently obvious that misguided principles of "lower taxes" and "let the markets run free and wild" literally exploded in our faces, and hardly anyone has erased their powder burns yet. We sit here now an argue over billions, while TRILLIONS were wasted in Iraq, much of it going into the pockets of cronies an crony corporations. Afghanistan is another story, but serious waste there is also identifiable. This President accomplished in three years what the previous one failed to do in eight (eliminating Bin Laden).

In past forums, we have bantered about what kind of money would be needed to accomplish this that and the other for the benefit of America, and for the world as well. But it seems we can only resolve to spend massive amounts of money on crisis of our own creation, rather than on the ounces of prevention necessary to avoid those crisis. I philosophically weep every time I think about the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ we squandered 2001 thru 2008, and how we turned a blind eye to the excesses of the financial communities, who proceeded to wallpaper the world with their trainloads of financial derivatives (instruments which in small or moderate volumes ARE actually useful).

I feel that Don has seen too much of the negative aspects of humanity, and it has further been colored by what are now obviously the spectral opposite of "rose-colored" glasses. He therefore has lost hope, and only gains comfort in trying to make the rest of us wring our hands and wail along with him. President Obama got it right in his "The Audacity of Hope", and we might reflect on the pitiable nature of those with a lack of hope.

The topic of waste which Malcolm and Len introduced should be addressed, as a characteristic of higher standards of living. The higher that standard, the less people are concerned with, and care about the proper usage or disposal of waste. Again, without the vocal minorities who spend their lives pointing these things out, and who try to address them, humanity as a group WILL waste itself to death. Wasted food, pollutive & hazardous waste, fossil CO2 waste, wasted groundwater, wasted fuel, financial paper waste (often masquerading as "product"), even people and lives themselves. If there ever was an argument for better regulation of our activity, you merely have to look at the need for sewer systems as an analog for most all of mankinds activities. Waste must be regulated, handled, minimized, treated, and properly recycled in order to prevent us being buried by our own "waste" ... use the visual analogy that this conjures up in your heads to understand the real nature of many of Humanity's problems. We "consume", and "throw away" as easily as conditions allow, in all of our activities. Man advances by occasionally being more inventive and productive than consumptive. but it continues to take decades and centuries to make progress against the sadder parts of our inherent nature, and much of the wisdom gained by each generation simply dies with the bodies, only needing to be relearned at great expense by the next generation.

Conversely, if not for these problems, what would many of us do for a living? ;-) 5% progress, 95% damage control and maintenance seems to be the ratio of life for "productive" members of society ... at least that's my pet theory.

Regards, RWV

January, 11 2013

Richard Vesel says

Malcolm,

Just as an FYI ... LNG density is only 600x that of gas at STP. Lower physical and energy density than fuel oil, but still highly transportable. If well insulated, only slight pressurization is necessary to keep it contained.

I would love to see Hawaii put in an LNG terminal first, on Oahu, to be shared by the US Navy and HECO. They both currently burn (imported) fuel oil in fixed station boilers, at almost $18mmBtu. LNG would cut their fuel bills by 2/3 !!! And CO2 emissions by nearly as much....

What do you think the response of Hawaiians would be to their electricy prices dropping by 10 cents per kwh? I think they would be ecstatic, lol !

Regard, RWV

January, 11 2013

Don Hirschberg says

“I feel that Don has seen too much of the negative aspects of humanity, and it has further been colored by what are now obviously the spectral opposite of "rose-colored" glasses. He therefore has lost hope, and only gains comfort in trying to make the rest of us wring our hands and wail along with him. President Obama got it right in his "The Audacity of Hope", and we might reflect on the pitiable nature of those with a lack of hope”

It is so nice to learn your feelings and get your diagnosis Richard.

A major part of science is to separate the possible from the impossible or the exceedingly Improbable.

Item: Some years back we heard about the Hydrogen Economy every bloody day!! I quicky pointed out that since there is no hydrogen on this planet a Hydrogen Economy is not possible. It would be an energy sink not an energy source. Instead of Audacity of Hope nonesense I had thermodynamics.

January, 11 2013

Don Hirschberg says

I do not at all like having to repeat unflattering facts. But those criticizing me either do not actually read my stuff or don't comprehend it. Yet they are willing to keep calling for better education – as if poor test results of graduates is the result of a poor school system. Sorry, but let me make it clearer.

Actually the schools today are about as good as they can be COSIDERING THE RULES UNDER WHICH THEY MUST OPERATE. Every city grade school classroom might well have children intermixed with IQ's from 70 to 115. (70 is one std. dev. below the Black average of 85 and 115 is one std deb. above the white average of 100.) This was the argument against forced integration – everyone would lose. Whites will learn less, many Blacks who were doing well would now often fail or get discouraged. Of course integration had to win. Absentee rates and behavior problems greatly increased.

Teaching in a city school used to be a good safe job. Teacher colleges had some rigorous courses and admission required more than a warm body. But teacher could be fired for cause. Now we have teachers where their school will not let them teach and the unions and politicians have made them impossible to fire. So they sit in the school waiting for retirement. I kid you not. There was no Department of Education.

In Washington D.C. The current expenditure per pupil is 20K per year. They test lousy. In ND its more like8K and the kids do quite well.

We had good public schools. I believe my HS classmates were better educated than many getting bachelor degrees today. (At least those of us who took four years of science and four years of math.) Hillary came 21 (?) years later.There was no hooky. There was no “security.” We carried 22 rifles and ammo to school on club days – whether by bike or car or city bus. No permits – nothing.

Almost certainly there were some pregnancies over four years among 1600 students but not one that I ever knew about. As far as I know there were no felonies. The police typically called a kid's father if he was out of line – say drag racing from a stop sign. Remember abortion was a felony and there was no “pill.” We were all whites not because of any segregation laws but because nobody but whites lived in the school district.

I never once saw a single serious incident of bullying. A bully would not have been tolerated by onlookers. While there was some brave talk, pushing and shoving I never saw a hard clean blow struck. Except for learning a few new words for a foreign language course or a short reading assignment for English there was very little home work and almost never anything to turn in.

Professor, Truman integrated the armed forces in 1948. But there are no ASTM standards for Integration. There were many permutations of Army integration, including some near calamities in Korea from very poor performance of Blacks (still called Negroes then.) I don't know how much has been declassified. In any event, I can say in 1952 General Ridgway finally acceded to allowing up to 10% MOS qualified Negroes in combat Infantry units and up to 13% in other Army units. (Not classified, It's on Wikepedia.) My men were in the Chemical Corps. Many were functionally illiterate Blacks. I don't know how they could get clap and syphilis when I never even saw a woman in the area.

January, 11 2013

Len Gould says

Don: That "idylic" past you claim to recall certainly doesn't describe any reality I saw in the 1950's and '60's. Teenage pregnancies were quite common at our HS, as were felony driving, and serious fights. We were all familiar with hunting rifles and had to qualify for game licenses by proving ability on a target range, but (being Canada) no-one carried guns to or from the range, the rifles and amo were provided. Certainly anyone trying to bring a gun on the school bus would have caused a police incident. We knew what guns were for (killing), and kept them in their logical places.

I'm still not granting your racialist claims regarding relative test results among groups, since you've yet to provide any evidence. If you have some, please link it, else stuff the whole discussion.

January, 11 2013

Len Gould says

Race and intelligence - From Wikipedia

"The American Psychological Association has said that while there are differences in average IQ between racial groups, there is no conclusive evidence for environmental explanations, nor direct empirical support for a genetic interpretation, and that no adequate explanation for the racial IQ gap is presently available.[6][7] The position of the American Anthropological Association is that intelligence cannot be biologically determined by race."

That's a pretty hefty bunch arguing against you.

January, 11 2013

Len Gould says

Another good line from that article, discussing the Flynn Effect, eg. that test scores have been rising since testing began, primarily among lowest scoring people tested.

"For example, in the United States the average scores of blacks on some IQ tests in 1995 were the same as the scores of whites in 1945." 1945 would have been when you were tested, right Don? LOL.

January, 12 2013

Ferdinand E. Banks says

No matter what you think Don, or what Wikipedia thinks, the ground combat forces of the US army were not integrated in l948. Send the man who claims that to Uppsala, arrange a seminar, and I will make a fool out of him. The integration took place in about 1951, and where the infantry was concerned, NOTBODY thought that it was a bad idea. Of course, many Black soldiers in rear area units deserted their units to join front line outfits. Read David Hackworth's book about this.

But there are some interesting things that you should know here. Partial integration took place during WW2 when the Germans attacked the Bulge, and there was a sudden shortage of white soldiers. Blacks were formally welcomed into some of the elite US divisions (like the 1st, 4th and 9th). Of course, when the war ended and they returned to the US, they had the privilege of seeing German prisoners sitting in restaurants that did not serve 'negroes'. Something else: with a desperate need for combat troops in Europe, black paratroopers and infantry were given silly assignments in the US to keep them from showing what they could do in combat.

About integration. My teacher in operations research at IIT was on the committee that determined how integration should take place. They simply met one night and without a lot of discussion decided that integration should take place the following week, and this was on a 'like it or not basis'. Let me also mention that if you did not see any women in your locality, it was because you were not interested in any at that time.

January, 12 2013

Ferdinand E. Banks says

Richard V., I didnt care for Clint Eastwood's performance at the Republican convention, but he likes jazz, which makes him A-OK with me. As for the Prez., the next man or woman to live in the White House could very likely be worse than Mr Obama, but not as far as I am concerned. I have no intention of thanking him for not being able to understand that the correct approach to solving the problems of the US is making primary and secondary education what it should and could be.

And Richard, as far as I am concerned, bad times are coming for the USA. They cannot continue with the kind of foolishness that George W. Bush introduced without paying for it. Sending soldiers to fight in stupid wars on the other side of the world, and letting the educational system go into the can. And incidentally Don, the US Army may well be getting the kind of training that makes sense. (Note the word 'may'.)

January, 12 2013

Don Hirschberg says

Professor your comment clearly indicates that you did not read my comment about Army integration.

I am tired of your insults.

In regard to the absence of women: Where my unit was at the time was actually in North Korea (i.e. north of the 38the Parallel) near the east coast and was well beyond the helmet line. This meant all windshields had to be wrapped in canvas and pivoted down onto hoods of vehicles, no glass exposed. All personnel had to wear helmets (steel pots) and be armed at all times. As most of my men's TO&E weapon was the M1s this meant within reach. On smoke position flack jackets were required. The early type with steel plates.

There had been so much shelling that hardly any trees survived and nary a building of any type except our bunkers and tents. There were no civilians. There was no pavement - not within hours of driving at about 20 mpg.. Never saw a single automobile or civilian truck.

Of course girls could be smuggled in – there was 6X6 traffic. Anyone doing it was well advised to not let an officer or non-com who wanted to retain his stripes see them. Where would you put her during shelling, how feed her? There was absolutely nothing to eat except well accounted for Army food.

Back at company headquarters in Chunchon there were lots of girls. It was common to have girls brought from town for a Saturday night to Sunday morning party. The trip to Chunchon from the platoon took so long that our courier came north one day and returned the next in a ¾ ton. Going to company from the platoon was called a Little R&R.

January, 12 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Richard, I must say that is a beautifully written piece and very fairly presented. Thank you for that. You (almost) made me a supporter of Obama.

It is clear that our friend Don is living in what he considers an idyllic past. I also cannot say that the 1950's and 1960's were so great. I recall the deadly "pea souper" fogs of London in the early 50's when the air was literally a yellow green colour. That problem was fixed. Coal burning was replaced by "smokeless fuels" and that was replaced by natural gas. Now the air is clear in London and nothing like it used to be.

The best time is of course the present. You cannot change the past you only have the power to change the future.

Regarding Don's predictions of the "hydrogen economy". This was mostly media hype which I thought he would have ignored. There were a few people on this site that promoted it but any engineer worth his or her salt discounted it. The only possible way a hydrogen economy could work is if it was made from water using nuclear electricity and converted to methane to transport through the existing infrastructure. Don is right there is no free hydrogen on the planet. Freeing it from its chemical bonds takes more energy than you get out - which is a little daft to say the least. But that applies to ethanol also.

But I have realized that it is not possible for me to see life through Don's eyes or for him to see life through mine. He has seen so much of the bad side of humanity that there are no arguments that can convince him of anything.

I see a world full of incredible opportunities. He sees a world of disaster and strife.

So sad.

Malcolm

January, 12 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Richard and all. Sorry for the error in the natural gas liquefaction data. Got carried away with the zero's. It is x600. I should have made it 60,000%.

At the time that much was being written about the hydrogen economy natural gas was much more expensive than today and I am sure this has much to do with why some people who don't understand thermodynamics might have been attracted to it. It does, after all, seem like a panacea. Running a vehicle that produces only water and energy makes hydrogen seems like the ideal fuel. Easy to sell to those that do not know any better.

What a difference a few years (and some smart technology) makes. Now we know how to drill sideways and extract natural gas from deposits hitherto impossible to extract. Technology, like I said, changes everything.

Not much need for a hydrogen economy now is there even if it was the thermodynamically a sensible thing to do. You're not the only one that understands thermodynamics Don. I spent years studying it as did most of the engineers on this site.

Don still doesn't and will never understand that neither he nor I knows the technologies of tomorrow and that single fact makes any such predictions of the future meaningless.

Materials like graphene, unheard of 5 years ago, are likely to completely change the technological landscape in ways we cannot even imagine.

Projections of the past onto the future is a very serious error of judgement on Don's part. People who have tried that have always been shown to be exceedingly foolish. The world is not coming to an end. The seven billion we have and the billions more to come will have plenty to eat and drink. There are many unfortunately that do not now. We will fix that.

Malcolm

January, 12 2013

Don Hirschberg says

Malcolm wrote “It is clear that our friend Don is living in what he considers an idyllic past.” I did not consider it idyllic then nor now. I was responding to condemnations of US schools by reminding what we threw away. I also pointed out the much more difficult rules schools must now follow. How snide your: “our friend Don”

“Regarding Don's predictions of the "hydrogen economy" I never made such a prediction – Actually I said the very opposite, that it was impossible.

“This was mostly media hype which I thought he would have ignored.” Baloney. The federal government tookit seriously. California actually built some fueling stations. Japanese and several German and US auto companies had programs with engineers working on it. How embarrassing, Bu real money was being spent . “But I have realized that it is not possible for me to see life through Don's eyes” WRONG. That's exactly whatyou are doing on this post.

" He has seen so much of the bad side of humanity that there are no arguments that can convince him of anything.” Where in the world did you get this idea except from Richard above. How does he know what I have seen? and how did he convince you?

What a dreadful thing to say, that no arguments can convince me of anything.

January, 13 2013

Don Hirschberg says

Malcolm got another comment in before mine was posted. Silence would make it look as if I ignored it.

“Projections of the past onto the future is a very serious error of judgement (sic) on Don's part. People who have tried that have always been shown to be exceedingly foolish. The world is not coming to an end. The seven billion we have and the billions more to come will have plenty to eat and drink. There are many unfortunately that do not now. We will fix that.”

To make any sense at all tell me what what “projections of the past into the future” I have made, serious error of judgment or not. It sorta sounds as if like you are harkening to the recent Maya Calander. I'll agree that would be foolish.

I have never said anything about the world coming to an end short of the sun becoming a Red Giant so big as to contain the earth's orbit but thanks for mentioning me in such a grandiose role. I have said our civilization is in jeopardy. I say those even those who don't have enough to eat today are victims of over population. People don't get too upset as long as its out of sight.(Right here on my property we suffer over population of deer. Food, flowering plants and gardens in yards are too plentiful. Nature's way to control population is starvation and wolves – and we don't have wolves here. Not a happy situation for the Bambi's (or me) either way. We do have lots of vultures.)

“We will fix that.” Now that's indeed a prediction if I ever heard one. We? Who else have you signed up?.

January, 13 2013

Ferdinand E. Banks says

Well, there we have it. I am NOT trying to insult you, Don. On the contrary, I respect your knowledge and even more your military service.

But where the US Army is concerned, I know more about it than you, the guy who wrote the article in Wikipedia, and probably everybody on the faculty at West Point. Where that topic is concerned, I regard everybody else as amateurs...until of course they prove otherwise. I would never say that about energy economics.

January, 13 2013

Len Gould says

Just a final note on lower scoring among blacks on IQ tests, it would be interesting to find out how many black students in 1945 vs. today have filled out their test sheets with the sole goal of having the dot pattern spell out the "F" word. Or some similar strategy. When the reality or ones condition eliminates the usefulness of a test result, and peer pressure demands no colaboration with "the man", chances are it will affect scores.

January, 14 2013

Ferdinand E. Banks says

Don, you are wrong when you say that bad population news will appear some day. As far as I am concerned, it's already here - unless of course you have a couple of million in real money, in which case you can Chill out in Dubai..

And occasionally I wonder why I ended up in Swden instead of Canada. Canada has a chance, assuming that they take their soldiers out of Afghanistan and put them on the Canadian-US border. And oh yes, they might close the airports while they are at it and mine the harbors.

January, 14 2013

Richard Vesel says

I hope to contribute an on-topic remark, and stay out of racial intelligence debate, which I frankly find to be pretty offensive...even though I am an "old white-guy". I have seen the best and worst performances from all the "groups", and don't hold any one above or below the other...

Here's a view from inside the (energy) industry, and I suggest taking a look, perhaps continuing our discourse based on some of these prognostications. Don, Exxon Mobile also makes some population projections in here too...

http://exxonmobil.com/Corporate/Files/news_pub_eo2013.pdf

Regards, RWVesel

January, 14 2013

Jim Beyer says

Peak oil production per capita (that is oil production divided by the human population on the planet) peaked in 1978.

This tends to indicate to me that we are approaching some kind of resource constraint, unless we are up for writing off a good portion of humanity to having a lower quality of life (Like what India and China have already done for a good portion of their own populations).

And we have no clear substitute for oil in the works, even though it 'peaked' 35 years ago.

January, 15 2013

Richard Vesel says

Mr. Beyer, A few points... So you introduce a new "peak oil" factor, production per capita, v. total production. If you want to use that, you also need to include consumptio per capita.

I believe you will find this second number will decline due to the following: Alternative fuel abundance, in the form of natural gas and eventually bio-gas, bio-diesel, bio-jet fuel, etc. Natural gas is the predominant one of these, but all will be important. Secondly, oil consumption reductions due to high prices have already precluded the use of it for electricity production, and the mpg ratings of vehicles between 1978 and now have about doubled, with further significant improvements in the pipeline. These are two very significant components in the demand side of the picture. Yes, there will be more vehicles, so please don't bring that up as a complete argument against the above. The new fleet will transform over the next couple of decades to alternatives to the traditional gasoline-powered ICE, with many of those alternatives currently being deployed. LNG/CNG vehicles, hybrids, plug-ins, electric vehicles, etc.

Foremost as well, new sources (tar sands & shale) are coming online, just in case we need copious amounts of oil, but frankly, I see total demand declining after 2025. Oil prices simply drive people to look for better ways to buy and consume the energy that is currently delivered from oil. If the coal people were smart, they would work on taking their $2/mmBtu raw material, and processing it into market-priced $18mmBtu product. But they still only understand "dig it and ship it", the same mindset as the buggy whip makers of 1900.

Read the above link to the Exxon-Mobile energy outlook 2013-2040. They do a pretty good job of realistically projecting where we are going.

Regards, RWVesel

January, 15 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Of course you are right Richard and I applaud you staying out of the racial debate as I have. Most offensive and not warranted here. With respect to your latest post above. Peak oil would be a problem if there was no other technology around to replace its use. But there is. Natural gas, as you rightly say is the primary one that can readily power any current gasoline engines (not I think diesels though) without any major changes. Also in 1976 a very large number of homes throughout North America were heated with oil furnaces. Oil furnaces have almost entirely been replaced by natural gas fired furnaces. It has gone almost unnoticed but a sea change occurred in that industry over a period of years and almost nobody heats their home with oil any longer. The same will happen to cars should the price of oil increase. I don't yet see any substitute for aircraft fuel although should cars switch to natural gas there should be plenty left to power aircraft for quite a while. The deposits in the tar sands are truly massive and many feel that the estimates so far produce are on the low side. there are in fact three deposits. The one near Fort MacMurray in the western part of Alberta is under rapid development. The one in the East under Peace River has not been touched yet and there is a third smaller deposit to the south of these two. The technology of extraction is also undergoing rapid change with in-situ extraction gaining popularity. Pioneerd by Cenovus Energy (of which I am proudly a shareholder). Canada is becoming a major oil and gas producer.

I too like reading the Exxon reports

But I will say again that it is technology that repeatedly changes the picture.

I was reading today about the number of patents related to the material Graphene discovered by the British a couple of years ago. It has a conductivity many times that of copper (I think the commentator said 100X) and almost no resistance but may be I misheard that. In any event this stuff is set to be another game changer.It has the potential to eliminate copper conductors just as plastic is eliminating the use of copper in plumbing systems.

It is more flexible and stretchy than rubber and can be formed to any surface. The possibilities are endless.

This stuff is just carbon atoms in a one atom thick lattice. It is harder than diamond. Carbon I think all would agree is readily available on this planet.

Like I said technology changes everything. I can foresee this material making fusion reactors possible a whole lot sooner than we currently think. With material this conductive superconducting magnet suddenly become a whole lot smaller.

No problem with feeding, clothing and housing 20 billion people. Just leave it to people who care.

Good posts Richard. Do not disagree with you on anything here. Price and technology are the main drivers of change as they always have been. And the great thing is that technology is changing faster and faster with each generation. That is why I maintain that all of the problems we have including population will be solved without major catastrophes.

Malcolm

January, 16 2013

Richard Vesel says

Malcolm,

Materials science is really going to help shape the 21st century, and yes, graphene seems to be just one of the miracle materials that can contribute. As I like to remind my son (age 25), it takes a full generation for nearly all technologies to move from the day of discovery to the day of full commercialization. I use 25 years as the nominal length of a generation.

Similar results may come about from commercializing advanced engine technologies. A group of MIT developers is bench testing 40hp (30kw) internal combustion engines with purported 70% efficiency! The technology appears completely scalable in terms of size and number of combustion chambers, so I am hoping to hear about their long term endurance testing result to identify the weak points in the design, and to prove out the claimed efficiencies. This could, in very short order, supplant CCGT plants with even lower cost-of-construction plants, and would be deployable from utility scale, right down to the home-use level.

http://www.liquidpiston.com/technologycycle/tid/6.html

This is one that I hope is truly REAL, and furthermore, can be commercialized.

Regards, RWV

January, 16 2013

Len Gould says

An aid for Richard's link, and another interesting one.

LiquidPiston Corp.

Starrotor Engine

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