Jul 022012
 July 2, 2012  Posted by at 4:06 pm Finance
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This is Part III of a series on our modern waste-based society, written by TAE commenter A.G. Gelbert and originally published by RE on the Doomstead Diner. The first two parts re-published on TAE (Part I and Part II) confirmed the existence of a structurally wasteful society and explained why our society had become this way (i.e. corporate greed). Part III reviews some of that discussion before taking a lengthly look at viable solutions and alternatives to the energy-intensive Waste-Based Society that we currently live in; ones that may not entail a return to Paleolithic levels of technology. A. G. Gelbert outlines a myriad of technologies which might be employed to maintain a higher technological base for society.



Waste Based Society III: Solutions and Alternatives

We are cursed with a rather effective propaganda machine that defends the status quo and works mightily to provide allegedly iron clad arguments exposing our desperate dependence on fossil fuels and the enormous debt we owe to them for our 'wonderful civilization'. The media has cleverly weaved fact and fiction to present plausible arguments against the practicality of going cold turkey on fossil fuels and 100% on renewables. Not one word about the fact that fossil fuels are easy to meter and conveniently provide a constant revenue stream for the rich along with governmental control of a populace that simply cannot move or function without daily use of fossil fuels ever seems to be mentioned. Not one word about how renewables cannot be metered or taxed easily and how that feature gives everyone a large degree of independence and flexibility in disaster situations to help themselves or a less fortunate neighbor is mentioned.

On the other hand, the continuous and vociferous denial of the link between fossil fuels and environmental problems, regardless of scientific consensus on this very real link, never seems to go away either. The actual history of the industrial revolution involving some very brutal measures to coerce humans to abandon horses, as only one of many coercive measures, for transportation and farming are always ignored and replaced with a stream of pejorative comments about horse dung in big cities. People did not want to get rid of their horses! I am not simply talking about city ordinances and fines targeting horses. Right around 1865 a big push began to sell farm machinery. Amazingly, a huge horse plague hit the U.S. that year that killed a massive amount of horses. No explanation beyond "Civil War stress" blarney was ever given. These horses were not just city horses in population centers but out in the country as well.



The move to horseless carriages began on the farm with steam power and hydrocarbon lubricants. The automibile came later along with the bone cancer. Bone cancer from the original automoblie fuel, benzene, is seldom mentioned by the media and apparently is considered no big deal in comparison to horse shit odor. Moving on to the early 20th century, Rockefeller has a waste product in his refinery cracking towers (after separating all those great heavy and light lubricants) called gasolene and he talks Henry Ford into modifying the carburators to run on it. Of course the 'minor' problem with benzene fuel may have helped make the switch. There were electric cars on the road at the time. Cleveland had wind generators creating electricity at that time! You'll never guess what happened to them and the electric trolleys all over many towns in the USA. So, enough of that.

Everyone here knows how predatory capitalism attempts to game the system to achieve price control and a monopoly. Once much more efficient and sustainable technologies are shoved aside by hook or by crook, the distorted and mendacious meme that our current technology is the result of friendly capitalist competition in the 'free market' is pushed. Predation occurs followed by propaganda versions of history. That is the real history of the industrial revolution in regard to our choices of energy production. Renewables got squeezed out, not because they couldn't compete favorably, but because the pollution and health costs of fossil fuels got 'externalized'. Along the way, the independence of the mostly agrarian American in energy production and use was crushed.

A love afffair with the car was fostered to the point that in the late 1920′s more Americans had cars than flush toilets. Of course they were better off, ecologically speaking, without flush toilets, but the point is the job of selling Americans on fossil fuels was a done deal by that time. So please remember that nobody was doing us any favors, like the media wants to claim; they were selling us something in order to concentrate wealth and power in a few hands. They were using us as a cash cow to the point of introducing planned obsolecence, rampant consumerism to keep the factories going and simultaneously thwarting moves to sustainability like Henry Ford's plan to make cars out of hemp plastic in the early1940s. We like new stuff and are always looking for the latest model year of the car or whatever because we have been manipulated by experts to do so. It has absolutely nothing to do with our health, well being or happiness. Bernays really messed us up. Fast forward to the present where the witches brew of ecological harm brought about by industrialization has caught up with us. And NOW, all of a sudden, we just can't live without all this 'wonderful' energy packed fossil fuel economy.

Methinks somebody wants to slap a guilt trip on the chumps so they agree to clean up the mess even though the media keeps claiming there isn't really that much of a mess. We, the masses, are accused of being wasteful pigs that bred like rats thanks to fossil fuels.

Where to begin? How about the fact that family size has been decreasing, not increasing, througout the industrial revolution? That's right. The numbers were baked in by 1800 and the wars slowed them down a bit. Louis Pasteur and Lister did a hell of a lot more to create our present population 'problem' than fossil fuels. Most of the key scientific advancements in medicine were not exactly high tech and fossil fuel dependent. A human makes it past 5 years of age and he has a huge chance of living out his 3 score and ten. It was the enormous reduction in infant mortality brought about by antiseptic procedures that caused the population explosion, not fossil fuels. It's a stretch to say that fossil fuels alowed people to obtain clean water to wash their hands before delivering a baby, but I'm sure the media verbal contortionists would toss it out there to further muddy the waters of historical truth.

The much touted plumbing advancements that require machinery and factories powered by fossil fuels, while they did reduce disease in population centers and prolonged life, were setting us up for more fossil fuel use through improper humanure handling. I maintain that the main cause of our population explosion is knowledge of disease microbes, their propagation methods and our changes in hygiene as a result.

What about all this waste we now produce that we have been folded, spindled and mentally mutilated through Freud's nephew Wall Street amygdala reptilian brain control propaganda? They set us up and now WE are the bad guys? They want us to shop till we drop and WE are the problem? And how much 'waste' do WE actually produce on a carbon footprint basis compared to the global 1%?

Well, Senator Bernie Sanders stated recently that less than 1% of the U.S. owns about 40% of the assets (I'm not talking about income increases although they have gotten the lion's share over the last ten years as well). Yes, I know he talks about banks too but he mentions those 400 or so elite families every now and then. Now figure the carbon footprint of those people and compare it with the rest of us. All those endless films about diapers, milk gallons and so on used in our middle class lifetimes with the obligatory landfill mountains thrown in are nothing compared with the horrendous and gigantic amount of crap these families generate. Isn't it amazing that when it comes to pollution and wasteful habits, we are 'all in this together'? No attempt is made to segregate out the worst offenders. On the contrary, the poor and middle class are constantly demonized as being irresponsible useless eaters. It's all quite Orwellian on the part of the media.

But yeah, we do waste and we have a waste problem that is real so let's talk about it.

Waste can certainly destroy a society, species or most of the ecosphere if, as many point out, we continue with the ridiculous paradigm that we can industrially do multi-generational damage to the life support systems humans depend on and not define this as suicide. It's almost like our nuclear nuts and oil fetish fucks have morphed us into a mass version of the heaven's gate cult. Those people thought they could hitch a ride on a comet by commiting suicide. Every single step in industrializaton has, for anyone willing to do the TOTAL math, NOT been ecospherically cost effective. The fact that a small group of humans has temporarily benefited at the expense of the overwhelming majority of humans and all other earthlings right now, not to mention the obvious acceleration in environmental degradation promising a super bleak future, seems to go right over the heads of way to many otherwise intelligent people.

Just like the heaven's gate cult, people are addicted to a dream that never was, PERIOD. All talk about this and that from our youth and how much fun we all had and how nostalgic we are for those nicer times is the exact same phenomenum of a drug addict longing for his first high. LISTEN UP! We are a function of the ecosphere. We DO NOT, despite all the best propaganda efforts of our scientific community, understand the mechanism of the ecosphere sufficently to tinker with it, let alone wantonly pollute it with "externalities".

EXTERNALITIES!? That's just some economist bullshit! There are NO externalities inside the life bubble called the ecosphere; it just takes a while to catch up with you when you mine, bomb and toxify with chemicals NIMBY areas for a few centuries. We are there and yet our scientific community and our financial community and our political wheeler and dealer con-artists with their new techno death toys and 'miracle' GMO crops and drug after drug to replace patent expirations, new ripoff scams, more war profiteering and emotional button pushing divide and conquer racist crap just DO NOT GET IT (or maybe they do get it and are insanely trying to make hay out of it).

The people in charge of our dysfunctional clusterfuck are akin to that psycho Whiteapple that led the heaven's gate cult. They will not change to a sustainable paradigm because THAT requires subordination to the reality that we are a product of the ecosphere and the humble acceptance that we do not understand it yet so, until we do, we must henceforth emulate natural processes of cradle to grave recycling in all industrial technology and outlaw destructive activities like war or perish. No, they prefer to insanely reduce the world population by environmental collapse in the ridiculous la-la land elite hope that then the ecosphere will cure itself and they can continue their merry resource extraction paradigm as if nothing happened.

It won't work because these reductionist morons in power with their scientific priesthood of techno nut balls are so full of pride from all their tremendous 'contributions' over the last two centuries that they cannot see the monstrous downside of the technology explosion and that, yes, technology can be developed and used in an environmentally friendly manner. They don't want to do the work. They are supremely irresponsible and supremely greedy and incredibly stupid. Instead of doing a rethink, they are just flooring the accelerator and increasing their propaganda blitz.

I am not against technology. Since about 1970 we have had the knowledge to use technology to produce an environmentally friendly and sustainable society free of poisons in food and industry in the scientific literature. It has been deliberately supressed time and time again. Imagine what it cost to cover the country with roads and power lines. Well, decentralized power, food and transportation would cost a hell of a lot less. It's total bullshit that we can't do this or that we are 'hooked' on oil or nuclear or natural gas. We could have switched away decades ago. In the 70s NASA used solar panels to bring electricity to a Navajo community which was not served by the local electric utilities in a southwestern state. It worked great and the utilities went ballistic. They wrote to NASA requesting the solar panel project be stopped because, even though those areas targeted by NASA were not adequately served by the utilities, the fossil fuel free energy would 'force' the utilities to lower their rates. NASA stopped the project.

The planet earth DOES NOT have an energy crisis. For you engineering types out there, just do the math on the energy required daily to lift trillions of tons of water vapor out of the rivers, lakes and oceans and deposit this at higher elevations in the form of rain and then try to tell me about how much it COSTS (ZERO!) and how we are running out of energy. What the planet earth has, is a HUMAN GREED AND STUPIDITY crisis among the 1%. But suppose we could dispense with all the agenda laced perjorative propaganda about renewables, agree to clean up the planet and eliminate fossil fuel, nuclear and any other kind of poisonous technology because we have no other choice?

Can it be done? Yes. Will it be done? Probably not. I just heard today (June 11, 2012) on the Thom Hartmann show that phytoplankton replacement in a bay in Maine has dropped 500% over a period of a decade or so. The phenomenum has now been confirmed as occurring globally. Phytoplankton produce approximately 50% of the oxygen on this planet through photosynthesis. They are not regenerating adequately because increased ppm of CO2 (now 400 ppm) is acidifying the oceans and killing them. Can the elite be so insane that they plan to meter our oxygen? I hope not. At any rate, we must accept that the fossil fuel economy is not an exercise in fun conveniences or a requirement to maintain 'civilization'; it's killing our oxygen supply now as well. We must switch to renewables.

In regard to available energy to maintain some level of 'civilization' with renewables, when I mentioned the world evaporation energy example, I wasn't alluding to energy collection through hydroelectric power (although dams certainly help as long as salmon runs aren't thwarted), but using this vast amount of energy available free to shed light on the scientifically bankrupt view of quantifying energy by using bomb calorimeters like we did in college and energy mass per mole in rapid oxidation. Nature has never done it that way. Everything in our culture always wants to scale up a process or else judge it as wanting. That is assbackwards from a sustainable biological process point of view. In our bodies, the reason we have enzymes lowering the energy of activation in myriad chemical reactions occurring per second is to keep us from overheating and/or rapid ph changes that would kill us but the fact is that the enzymes accomplish a task with less energy than a straight forward math computation of the chemical reaction energy requires.

Capillary processes in us are unconcerned with "stream head'" like scientists or engineers are when they want to build a dam yet they work just fine manipulating Bernoulli forces to use the absolute minimum energy needed to move that blood so the heart pump doesn't have to work as hard against vessel friction and pressure changes. In our techno-love affair, everything we do is geared to centralized and maximum power. For example we really do not need a lot of stream head to power a house because we can gradually pump water up to a reservoir in our house to give us electricity on demand.

But the techno math says you need X amount of head for Y amount of kilowatts. That's only true if you need all of that all the time. Sure, not everyone lives by a river or a stream but that is simply a small example. A giant Sequoia pumps over one hundred gallons of water hundreds of feet up every day through transpiration. The tracheal elements can stretch water molecules 27 atmospheres as long as the vacuum holds. The technology to make artificial tree water pumps has been around for decades but our society is STUCK on the energy density per mole fixation like a teenager that wants a hot car to ride to school instead of a small electric rechargeable scooter.



Have you heard about the roaring forties? That's an area of latitude in the oceans of the southern hemisphere that is always turbulent. They alone could power the world's energy demands after a ten year installation of wave and undersea current power collection systems that are already being deployed off of England and Scotland. In regard to corrosion issues with sea water and maintenance of deep water (massive pressures to deal with), I only ask that you consider technology equivalence hurdles that have long since been surmounted in nuclear power plants (the ultimate in corrosion challenges including hydrogen embrittlement that is not present with sea water) and oil undersea pipelines (pump sea water to a land reservoir and start the power cables from there as a cost effective low maintenance option). At present, ocean oil rigs (which are mostly metal) have sacrificial anodes placed on them so electrolysis in most areas is thwarted. The anodes are replaced as they are used up. And remember all we have learned through space exploration about metallurgy, high temperature insulation during re-entry and don't forget microwave power transmission technology. We can do all this stuff. It's really not as hard as putting a robot vehicle on Mars or building a space station in orbit.

It's telling that Einstein described the photoelectric effect at the very beginning of the 20th century but the US government has had to be dragged kicking and screaming to develop solar panels (we only did it when we needed them in space) but it spent a fortune on the development of the bomb in the 30s while a large part of our populace was going hungry.

Have you ever wondered why the oil lobby never attacks nuclear power but spares no expense to demonize renewables with disingenuous propaganda and mendacity? Think about that a while. If you come to the conclusion that the nuclear power plants were put out there to make bomb material and get you to pay for it and were never, ever considered a viable alternative to fossil fuels for the production of electricity or a serious source of oil lobby competition, you win the prize. There is also no excuse whatsoever for not using solar and electric power to run every single ship in the ocean. It would be child's play to switch all automobiles and trucks to full electric as long we had geothermal, wind, tide and ocean current derived power 24/7, not to mention solar panels.

Do you know what oil tankers do after they offload the oil? They fill huge portions of the holds with sea water (for ballast) and then dump it when they get back to reload with oil. This massive pollution goes on day in and day out. We have a guaranteed continuous oil spill as long as we have a fossil fuel ocean tanker economy.



As for fertilizers and food production machinery requiring a massive amount of fossil fuels to feed 7 billlion humans, the fact is that using decentralized permaculture with humanure (after appropriate and low tech local processing to avoid disease pathogens) along with greenhouse technology for nordic climates can replace the fossil fuel required to run tractors, make fertilizer and insecticides and herbicides. I mention farm machinery because there is increasing evidence that plowing needs to be replaced by non-plowing with perennial crops in order to stop the massive top soil loss and lowered nutrition of crop yield (they look the same but don't have the same nutritional content). Other posters here are up on humanure and they are right. I recommend anyone repulsed by this to think again. Feces are an inseparable part of being human and it's high time we stopped with this Victorian idiocy of seeing it as bad stuff; it's part of our salvation as a species. An added plus with humanure through the avoidance of chemical fertilizers is no more ocean dead zones and massive top soil degradation. Also the energy and water savings in not pumping human waste to be treated with chemicals (made with fossil fuels) in a sewage treatment plant would save billons of dollars.

Examples of how renewables can switch us off of fossil fuels quickly: www.euronews.com/2012/05/27/germany-breaks-solar-energy-record www.euronews.com/2012/06/06/solar-plane-completes-maiden-intercontinental-flight www.euronews.com/2012/03/05/sea-solution-to-future-energy-needs www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/renewableenergy/3535012/Ocean-currents-can-power-the-world-say-scientists.html

Pelamis wave power device that looks like a giant snake: www.weirdlyodd.com/10-renewable-energy-sources/

Zero energy balance hotel: www.euronews.com/2012/05/16/go-green-get-growing

I think this can be done in TEN years, not forty: www.euronews.com/2012/05/18/in-40-years-every-home-every-building-will-be-a-power-plant-says-jeremy-rifki

Growing food and the fossil fuel 'requirement' is a dependency created by the fossil fuel industry but we CAN shake that dependency without mass starvation and depopulation: www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/85/1/Fuel-and-food.html

"The strategic goal of biofuel is to supplement or even replace fossil fuels, the amount of which is constantly and rapidly diminishing." haitireconstruction.ning.com/page/biofuel-1

I've already mentioned my views on the population explosion and its causes but I wish to point out how the oil lobby has tried to make fossil fuel brownie points out of it.

Remember the green revolution of the 60s, 70s and 80s that supposedly caused the population explosion? The numbers are in. The yields are not statistically different with all the fossil fuel fertilizer, herbicides and insecticides than without them. The green revolution is a lie fostered by, you guessed it, the fossil fuel lobby. Their only valid claim is the fuel for machinery which now turns out to lower crop nutrition from top soil plowing degradation. This degradation is caused by a combination of chemical fertilizers and plowing (bare soil tends to blow away when dry or erode when wet) which leaches the soil of trace minerals needed to produce nutritious and tasty as opposed to bland crops. The way things stand right now, agricultural guidelines in the U.S. state that it's okay to lose 4 tons of top soil per acre per year from 'modern' farming techniques. The government claims it is the price we pay for high 'yields'. Are you comfortable with that? I'm not. Considering top soil regeneration takes over 100 years, I cannot believe we are doing anything but losing massive amounts every year.

And last but not least, the militaries of the world are the most voracious users of fossil fuel. We sure as hell do not need them to keep 7 billion fed and clothed. The U.S. Navy, in particular, has the top spot as fossil fuel user AND polluter.

We need gradual, decentralized trickle charge or slow pumping energy storage systems for sustainable humanity. Anything else is not viable for the planet. If we want to zip around at high speed and be able to have instant this and that, yes we have an energy crisis. If we want to emulate biological processes and eschew the love affair with higher energy density per mole of fossil and or nuclear poisons killing the planet, we don't have an energy crisis.

Nature paces everything; so should we.

All that said, there is the 1% with their hubris and arrogance and there is the rest of humanity. The agenda of the 1% is a tad different from the rest of us. I agree the knockdown is coming. The people controlling the levers of innovation and adaptation in our governments and the elite parasites that own them want this knockdown so it will come. I maintain that the false notion of a causal relationship between a large population and a polluted, unsustainable, fossil fuel dependent human society is the driving force behind this elite desire for a knockdown. The elites are the only truly unsustainable population on this earth because of their mega-carbon footprints. So, in true Wall Street Orwellian fashion, they blame the bulk of the 7 billion humans for THEIR piggery and slavish dependency on fossil fuels. The 1% that owns our governments loves the predatory resource extraction paradigm despite the fact that some of them probably suspect that it will cause a population knockdown, not from lack of fossil fuels, but from environmental collapse. Billions of humans dying is considered a good thing by the 1%. They think it will solve the world's environmental problems and provide a more manageable population of slaves. The 1% probably grumble about minimum gene pool diversity species population required in order to perpetuate homo sapiens. The 1% think robots will take care of all the 'important' work while medical technology available to the 1% will provide them with 150 year plus lifetimes. They are wrong and they are the cancer that is destroying humanity.

There's a way to clean up this world and live sustainably. Killing off several billion is a straw man. It's typical elite bullshit adding two an two and getting whatever answer keeps them in the catbird seat. The media will continue to block the truth from the people 24/7.

I apologize if I tried to cover too much ground here but this situation we are in has matured for well over a century and we need to see how we got here to understand, if we survive, how to prevent a new set of snakes from selling us snake oil in the future.

Feel free to pass all or any part of this rant with or without attribution. Everything I wrote can be researched free on the internet if you want to post links about horse plagues, NASA correspondence with utilities, Henry Ford and hemp plastic, Rockefeller chicanery, U.S. solar panel development reasons, Americans starving while the bomb was being developed, Bernays propaganda tools, etc.

A.G. Gelbert

Photograph: Harris and Ewing Alexandria (Va.) airplane factory 1918.
Possibly the Kendrick Aeroplane Co.

Home Forums Waste Based Society III: Solutions and Alternatives

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    This is Part III of a series on our modern waste-based society, written by TAE commenter A.G. Gelbert and originally published by RE on the Doomstead
    [See the full post at: Waste Based Society III: Solutions and Alternatives]


    John Day

    Bravo, A.G.!
    Emulating biological systems is an advanced skill, compared to mechanical and electrical systems, however being part of a biological ecosystem is not such an advanced skill.
    We have indeed been suckled from infancy with a particular view of how things “must” be, “or else”. I’m sure working towards “or else”, but I do find an extremely long way to go, having been deprived of almost all practical knowledge of basic human-critter survival. I’m a zoo animal, taught to make fun of all the animals too unfortunate to live in a zoo.
    I will learn. It is possible. I’ve made progress, and there are things I saw when I was much younger that are of use. There are others who want to adapt, and there are still settings where such steps can be made, which will be touched lightly by the “selection event” coming our way. Personally, I’m going to die, and that’s OK, but I don’t want to die serving the “system”, now that I see it.



    Bravo indeed!
    A magnificently merciless rant. Hard to disagree with much if anything. I would add a touch of the light side though in that I wont die. I’m going to be shining a light with everybody else who choses to wake from their slumber.

    I will ignore and move past the 1% pigmorons and evolve out of the stinking carcase of our current and soon to be well dead society. There will be plenty of others who will flourish too.

    Money wont be around much – if it is, it will be the ‘community’ kind. But I will give a shit about my neighbour and they will help me raise my kids (pair of snotty angels already).

    I’m ready to learn and accept a higher purpose for those of humanity that are left. The reptilian-brained ratbags who control now will consume themselves rather messily and I will not engage in that feast.

    What a wonderful time to be alive!



    Thank you John Day and Puff for the compliments.

    I too, may not make it through the big squeeze coming because I have a pacemaker. As you all know, changing the battery on that $30,000 computer (original opertion cost) requires a level of civilization that may not be around for a couple of decades or so while things shake out.

    We’ll see. Until then, I’ll keep trying to do what most people here are doing to wake people up.

    Today I learned that Rockefeller, before he got Henry Ford to modify the carburators in cars to run on gasolene, would flush the gasolene in the rivers at night! This was at the ned of the 18th century when his main business was providing lubricants for machinery and lighting oil for houses. Had we switched from benzene straight to alcohol for cars (yes, it can be done), many cancers and respiratory problems in the 20th century would have been avoided. Rockefeller was was so hell bent to get alcohol away from cars as fuel (farmers with stills could compete with hin and he didn’t like that) that he gave about 4 million dollars to temperance groups to get alcohol prohibited by law. Most people don’t know that prohibition made making your own alcohol fuel from crops illegal as well. As you can see, the history we are taught is laced with lies and coverups.

    I learned the above from David Blume.




    Sorry for the typos. Sometimes I don’t proof read enough in my haste to get a post out.







    This post (as well as various comments I see from you) is of such a questionable level that I feel I need to apologize to our readership for it having been posted. You renewables claims are nonsensical, and it’s not as if you can claim innocence; laziness perhaps, but not innocence. This is TAE, where especially Nicole is an undisputed energy expert, who has dealt with all these things very extensively. So go read at least all she’s written, here, at our Blogger site and at the Oil Drum pre-2008. And then perhaps come back and write on the topic. I mean it. The way you do it now is useless and unworthy of this site.



    Thank you for your input. I will endeavor to be more convincing and methodical in presenting my views in the future. I have no bones to pick with anyone but the corrupt and predatory fossil fuel industry. I do not question Nicole’s knowledge though I do question her assessment of what the “real world” is like. The world is changing.

    For now I suggest you file my rant in the back of your mind as just that, a rant. If future events reveal some truth in it, despite my lack of knowledge, I hope you will reconsider your negative view of my assessment of the energy picture on earth.
    Thanks again



    I have neither the knowledge of Nicole or AG in this area, but I actually don’t find their views to be THAT far apart. They have some critical differences, to be sure, but also some critical points of agreement. I find the key to AG’s view in this part:

    We need gradual, decentralized trickle charge or slow pumping energy storage systems for sustainable humanity. Anything else is not viable for the planet. If we want to zip around at high speed and be able to have instant this and that, yes we have an energy crisis. If we want to emulate biological processes and eschew the love affair with higher energy density per mole of fossil and or nuclear poisons killing the planet, we don’t have an energy crisis.

    Nature paces everything; so should we.

    In essence, we need to scale down (and slow down) our energy production/consumption if alternatives are going to be viable in any meaningful way, no? Another critical area of agreement I find between Nicole and AG is in terms of the socioeconomic and political structures that are in place and that make alternatives very unlikely to develop before catastrophic collapse. AG says:

    All that said, there is the 1% with their hubris and arrogance and there is the rest of humanity. The agenda of the 1% is a tad different from the rest of us. I agree the knockdown is coming. The people controlling the levers of innovation and adaptation in our governments and the elite parasites that own them want this knockdown so it will come. I maintain that the false notion of a causal relationship between a large population and a polluted, unsustainable, fossil fuel dependent human society is the driving force behind this elite desire for a knockdown. The elites are the only truly unsustainable population on this earth because of their mega-carbon footprints. So, in true Wall Street Orwellian fashion, they blame the bulk of the 7 billion humans for THEIR piggery and slavish dependency on fossil fuels. The 1% that owns our governments loves the predatory resource extraction paradigm despite the fact that some of them probably suspect that it will cause a population knockdown, not from lack of fossil fuels, but from environmental collapse

    Nicole probably wouldn’t put in those terms… but the ideas are not too divergent here. As she makes clear in her article The Storm Surge of Decentralization, TPTB is a major obstacle to any move towards creating self-sufficient communities in the developed world, especially in terms of food and energy production, distribution and consumption. Like both Nicole and AG, I fear it is much too late for us to avoid some of the worst outcomes of our fossil fuel dependence, but I also think there is reasonable room to discuss WHY it is much too late. Nicole places more emphasis on the negative EROEI, while AG obviously thinks it is mostly centralized industries and political hacks to blame. However, I think there is a good deal of overlap there and they both agree that ultimately society’s energy demands will need to be scaled way down and/or the energy infrastructure customized to be way more efficient than it is right now if we are to mitigate the damage from our predicaments. And, it seems they also both agree that it is very unlikely any of those things will happen at this point.



    I wish to take this opportunity to thank the people at the Doomstead Diner for their excellent comments on a wide variety of issues including my Waste Based Society III article which appears there as well as Ashvin here at The Automatic Earth for allowing me to post the Waste Based Society III article.

    Recently I was chastised by ilargi for publishing material and comments that are beneath the high standards of truth in The Automatic Earth web site. I believe he mistakenly thought I was attacking stoneleigh (nicole) in regard to a natural gas EROI published by her. I wish to state categorically that my critique was of the EROI methodology, not nicole. I consider her a studious and analytical person that wishes to present the data as objectively as possible within the current EROI methodology. Also, perhaps ilargi believes my severely critical attitude towards fossil fuels and nuclear, being that fossil fuels in particular is the dominant energy paradigm at this time, is “fringe wacko thinking” not “worthy” of TAE. I hope, with this post and others to follow, that he reconsiders his opinion and/or debates my posts on the merits and not on a blanket assumption laced with innuendo and veiled threats to censor me by banning me. Our current energy situation should not descend to tit-for-tat sniping. We have real energy problems and bruised egos reacting in knee jerk fashion does nothing to solve it and certainly reflects badly on the caliber the The Automatic Earth as well. Let us work together to solve our energy problems with reasoned debate.

    So, without further ado, let’s talk EROI:

    The purpose of this post is to discuss a term near and dear to the heart of any investor in energy products. That is the term EROI. It is important because we all need to know how cost effective any energy product technology is. In a sane society, if an energy product is found to have a higher EROI than what is presently popular, subsidised by government or simply enjoys monopoly price control, then it would be a no-brainer that the new energy product should, of course, replace the one with a lower EROI. The natural tendency for energy corporations to try to extract maximum profit by externalizing costs aside for a moment, let’s compare EROI on a few energy products and also explain the concept of EROI:

    [Sustainability 2011, 3, 1796-1809; doi:10.3390/su3101796
    ISSN 2071-1050
    http://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability ]

    Snippet 1:
    [In the 1970’s ecologist Charles Hall coined the term “Energy Return on Investment” (EROI), with originally a focus on migrating fish (e.g., Hall [1]). In the 1980s, Hall, working with Cutler Cleveland, Robert Kaufmann and others, extended the concept to seeking oil and other fuels. ]

    Snippet 2:
    [The most recent summary of work and data on the EROI of fuels was conducted in the summer of 2007 at SUNY ESF and appeared on The Oil Drum website and in a readable summary by Richard Heinberg. This paper summarizes the findings of that study, and also those preceding and subsequent to it where available. It also summarizes issues raised by some concerning the findings of these studies and with the calculations within.]

    Snippet 3:
    [Oil and conventional natural gas are usually studied together because they often occur in the same fields, have overlapping production operations and data archiving.]

    Snippet 4:
    [.. authors also estimated through linear extrapolation that the EROI for global oil and conventional natural gas could reach 1:1 as soon as about 2022 given alternative input measurement methods (Figure 2).]

    Snippet 5:
    [We are not aware of any peer-reviewed published studies available on EROI on non-conventional natural gas to date. ]

    Snippet 6:
    [The authors of this EROI study note that they exclude the interest paid on debts to purchase foreign oil. Including that cost presumably would decrease EROI. As can be expected, the EROI of imported oil to the U.S. is mostly a reflection of the price of oil relative to the price of general goods and services at that time (Figure 3).]

    Snippet 7:
    [Nuclear power is the use of controlled fission reactions for the purpose of producing electricity. There are currently 439 commercial nuclear power plants worldwide generally using variations of the same technology [8]. The SUNY ESF study summarized the EROI of nuclear power from previous studies [26]. The review concludes that the most reliable information is still from Hall et al.’s [7] summary of an EROI of about 5–8:1 (with a large part of the variability depending upon whether the electricity is corrected for quality), and that the newer studies appear either too optimistic or pessimistic with reported EROIs of up to almost 60:1, to as low as even less than 1:1. Clearly with reactors operating for longer periods of time, with the possibility of serious uranium shortages with larger use, and with the new considerations of the Japanese reactor accidents due to the earthquake and subsequent tsunami new calculations are needed.
    The authors note that the differences in EROI can sometimes be attributed to differences in system boundaries and technologies. However, overall there is a lack of empirical information on the subject. ]

    Snippet 8
    [Wind energy is one of the fastest growing renewable energies in the world today, although it still represents far less than one percent of global or U.S. energy use. Since it is renewable energy, EROI is not calculated the same as for finite resources. The energy cost for such renewable systems is mostly the very large capital cost per unit output and the backup systems needed, for two thirds of the time the wind is not blowing. As a result, the input for the EROI equation is mostly upfront, and the return over the lifetime of the system—which largely is not known well. For renewable resources a slightly different type of EROI is often used, the “energy pay back time” (EPBT). EPBT is the time it takes for the system to generate the same amount of energy that went into creating, maintaining, and disposing of it, and so the boundaries used to define the EPBT are those incorporated into the EROI.
    Although the SUNY ESF study did not calculate EROI for wind they were able to use a recent “meta-analysis” study by Cleveland and Kubiszewski [27]. In this study the authors examined 112 turbines from 41 analyses of both conceptual and operational nature. The system boundaries included the manufacture of components, transportation of components to the construction site, the construction of the facility itself, operation and maintenance over the lifetime of the facility, overhead, possible grid connection costs, and decommissioning where possible, however not all studies include the same scope of analysis. The authors concluded that the average EROI for all systems studied is 24.6:1 and that for all operational studies is 18.1:1. The operational studies provide lower EROIs because the simulations run in conceptual models appear to assume conditions to be more favorable than actually experienced on the ground.
    The authors found that the EROI tends to increase with the size of the turbine. They conclude that there are three reasons for this. First, that smaller turbines are of older design and can be less efficient, so despite a larger initial capital investment larger systems compensate with larger energy outputs; second that larger models have larger rotor diameters so they can operate at lower wind speeds and capture more wind energy at higher efficiencies year round; and finally because of their size, larger models are taller and can take advantage of the higher wind speeds farther above ground. ]

    Snippet 9:
    [The use of Solar photovoltaics (PV) are increasing almost as rapidly as wind systems, although they too represent far less than 1 percent of the energy used by the U.S. or the world. Similarly, they are a renewable source of energy and thus the EROIs are also calculated using the same idea. Although there are very few studies which perform “bottom up” analysis of the PV systems we are familiar with today, we can calculate the EROI by dividing the lifetime of a module by its energy payback time (EPBT). Like wind turbines, PV EPBT can vary depending on the location of production and installation. It can also be affected by the materials used to make the modules, and the efficiency with which it operates – especially under extreme temperatures.
    The SUNY ESF study looked at a number of life cycle analyses from 2000 to 2008 on a range of PV systems to determine system lifetimes and EPBT, and subsequently calculated EROI [28]. The system lifetimes and EPBT are typically modeled as opposed to empirically measured. As a result, EROI is usually presented as a range. Typically the author found most operational systems to have an EROI of approximately 3–10:1. ]

    Snippet 10:
    [The SUNY ESF study also examined passive solar heating and cooling for buildings [31]. A passive solar building is one which captures and optimizes the heat and light available from the sun without the use of any collectors, pumps or mechanical parts, but by design. Unfortunately, passive solar is incredibly site specific and thus calculating an EROI can be very difficult. However, the author does explain how a calculation could be achieved by performing the same operations as those for other renewable forms of energy—lifetime of structure divided by the EPBT. The EROI for a well designed building certainly has the potential to be quite favorable.]

    Snippet 11:
    [The SUNY ESF study calculated the EROI for HDR geothermal systems and reviewed previous studies on hydrothermal resources from 1975–1991 [33]. The EROI for electricity generation from hydrothermal resources was reported with a range of 2–13:1. Corrected for quality as an electricity source, this is recalculated as approximately 6–39:1.]

    Snippet 12:
    [The SUNY ESF study estimated that one wave energy project could have an EROI of approximately 15:1 [34]. ]

    Snippet 13:
    [ 13. Discussion
    There has been a surprisingly small amount of work done in the field of EROI calculation despite its obvious uses and age. From this review it can be inferred that there are only a handful of people seriously working on the issues related to energy return on investment. As such it does not come as a surprise that the information is scarce and unrefined at best–although perhaps not in the case of ethanol. Additionally there is a great deal of rather misleading material presented in the media and very few with the training to cut through the fog or deliberate lies. We have presented what we believe to be virtually all of the data available until this special issue.
    Since the 1980’s the energy information required to make such calculations have become even scarcer, with the possible exception of some European life cycle analyses. This is a terrible state of affairs given the massive changes in our energy situation unfolding daily. We need to make enormously important decisions but do not have the studies, the data or the trained personnel to do so. Thus we are left principally with poorly informed politicians, industry advocacy and a blind but misguided faith in market solutions to make critical decisions about how to invest our quite limited remaining high quality energy resources. Our major scientific funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation and even the Department of Energy have been criminally negligent by avoiding any serious programs to undertake proper EROI, environmental effects, or other studies, while our federal energy data collections degrade year by year under misguided cost cutting and free market policies.
    As stated by Murphy and Hall [15], there needs to be a concerted effort to make energy information more transparent to the people so we can better understand what we are doing and where we are going. Given what we do know, it seems that the EROI of the fuels we depend on most are in decline; whereas the EROI for those fuels we hope to replace them with are lower than we have enjoyed in the past. This leads one to believe that the current rates of energy consumption per capita we are experiencing are in no way sustainable in the long run. At best, the renewable energies we look toward may only cushion this decline.]

    Sustainability 2011, 3, 1796-1809; doi:10.3390/su3101796
    What does all the above mean to you and me? It means EROI math has great difficulty measuring renewables and, due to the boundary framework established for upstream and downstream costs including the EXCLUSION of environmental costs, has the potential to produce some fairly happy numbers for fossil fuels and nuclear. Yet even by the present computaton convention, EROI is headed downwards for fossil fuels and nuclear.
    Let’s explore EROI some more:
    Snippet 1:
    [Measuring the EROEI of a single physical process is unambiguous, but there is no agreed standard on which activities should be included in measuring the EROEI of an economic process. In addition, the form of energy of the input can be completely different from the output.]

    Snippet 2:
    [How deep should the probing in the supply chain of the tools being used to generate energy go? For example, if steel is being used to drill for oil or construct a nuclear power plant, should the energy input of the steel be taken into account, should the energy input into building the factory being used to construct the steel be taken into account and amortized? Should the energy input of the roads which are used to ferry the goods be taken into account? What about the energy used to cook the steelworker’s breakfasts? These are complex questions evading simple answers. A full accounting would require considerations of opportunity costs and comparing total energy expenditures in the presence and absence of this economic activity.]

    Snippet 3:
    [Conventional economic analysis has no formal accounting rules for the consideration of waste products that are created in the production of the ultimate output. For example, differing economic and energy values placed on the waste products generated in the production of ethanol makes the calculation of this fuel’s true EROEI extremely difficult.]

    And what about environmental degradation costs? Don’t they matter in the “real world”? Can we so narrowly define a process like EROI that we deliberately exclude costs that aren’t immediately quantifiable? Why are fossil fuel or nuclear energy corporations the first to bray and warn that all new technologies need to have the precautionary principle of science applied to them but get quite huffy when you question EROI numbers for their products? If that’s the “real world’, then we have a rather serious objectivity deficit in play with EROI math.

    Here is an interesting article about a study of algal biocrude EROI. I bring this to your attention because it shows a very serious and responsible approach to determining EROI which I believe is sorely lacking in fossil and nuclear fuels:


    Snippet 1:
    [Over the last year a student (Colin Beal) at the University of Texas, Austin, has been characterizing the experimental set-up at the Center for Electromechanics for testing an algae to bio-oil process. The process stops short of converting the bio-oil into biodiesel, and he presented the results at a recent conference: Beal, Colin M., Hebner, Robert E., Webber, Michael E., Ruoff, Rodney S., and Seibert, A. Frank. THE ENERGY RETURN ON INVESTMENT FOR ALGAL BIOCRUDE: RESULTS FOR A RESEARCH PRODUCTION FACILITY, Proceedings of the ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition IMECE2010 November 12–18, 2010, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, IMECE2010-38244.]

    Snippet 2:
    [the stage of development of the entire technology and process of inventing new energy sources and pathways. It is important that we understand how to interpret findings “from the lab” into real-world or industrial-scale processes. To anticipate the future EROI of an algae to biofuel process, Colin performed two extra analyses to anticipate what might be possible if anticipated advances in technology and processing occur: a Reduced Case and Literature Model calculation.]
    Snippet 3:
    [What Colin discovered was that the EROI of the Reduced Case and Literature Model were 0.13 and 0.57, respectively. This shows that we have much to learn for the potential of making viable liquid fuels. Additionally, Colin’s calculations for the experimental set-up (and Reduced Case analysis) show that 97% of the energy output resides in the biomass, not the bio-oil. For his idealized Literature Model, 82% of the energy output was in the biomass.
    While these results seem discouraging, we do not have much ability to put these results into context of the rate of development of other alternative technologies and biofuels. How long did it take to get photovoltaic panels with EROI > 1 from the first working prototype in a lab? We have somewhat of an idea that it took one or two decades for the Brazilians to get reasonable EROI > 1 from using sugar cane for biomass and biofuel production (Brazilian sugar cane grown and processed in Sao Paulo is estimated near EROI = . ]

    Snippet 4:
    [Let’s hope others join in in trying to assess the EROI of their experimental and anticipated commercial processes for alternative energy technologies.]


    Snippet 1:
    [Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that a tiny aquatic plant can be used to clean up animal waste at industrial hog farms and potentially be part of the answer for the global energy crisis. Their research shows that growing duckweed on hog wastewater can produce five to six times more starch per acre than corn, according to researcher Dr. Jay Cheng. This means that ethanol production using duckweed could be “faster and cheaper than from corn,” says fellow researcher Dr. Anne-Marie Stomp.
    We can kill two birds – biofuel production and wastewater treatment – with one stone – duckweed, Cheng says. Starch from duckweed can be readily converted into ethanol using the same facilities currently used for corn, Cheng adds.]

    Snippet 2:
    [The duckweed system consists of shallow ponds that can be built on land unsuitable for conventional crops, and is so efficient it generates water clean enough for re-use. The technology can utilize any nutrient-rich wastewater, from livestock production to municipal wastewater.]

    Snippet 3:
    [Cheng says, “Duckweed could be an environmentally friendly, economically viable feedstock for ethanol.”
    “There’s a bias in agriculture that all the crops that could be discovered have been discovered,” Stomp says, but duckweed could be the first of the new, 21st century crops. In the spirit of George Washington Carver, who turned peanuts into a major crop, Jay and I are on a mission to turn duckweed into a new industrial crop, providing an innovative approach to alternative fuel production.]

    Duckweed for electricity at 3 CENTS per kwh:

    Snippet 1:
    [It’s a little, water-born plant that doubles in mass every 24 hours. The ducks really like it,” Behrens said. Two pounds of duckweed seed in a 32-foot tank in Philadelphia grew to a depth of 2 inches in 10 days, he said.
    “It’s very easy to harvest,” Behrens said. “That was the undoing of a lot of algae concepts. You can’t spend too much energy removing fuel from water, otherwise on your balance sheet you haven’t made any energy.”
    Duckweed is smaller than a grain of rice, but a million times bigger than an algae cell, he said. The duckweed is harvested with a nylon mesh, similar to screen doors, then dried.
    In many ways, it’s similar to wood-products waste, another type of biomass, which is used to generate electricity in White City and other places around the country.
    “Trees don’t grow fast enough, so we found something that grows faster,” Behrens said. “The key is growing fuel on site, because shipping it in is too costly. We just had to find a fast-growing plant — and there are plenty of those — and then create an artificial environment that optimizes plant growth.”
    The artificial environment — BioEnergy Domes — is where Pacific Domes comes in. There are four sizes of BioEnergy Domes, ranging from a backyard-sized, 5,000-kilowatt version that can supply energy for one home to a commercial-size, 60-foot-diameter unit, such as the initial unit in a Philadelphia industrial park. The generating unit sits outside the dome and runs silently.
    Behrens said it costs about $750,000 to $800,000 to install the largest BioEnergy Domes, and the payback time is only two years.
    “You are able to generate electricity at the cost of 3 cents per kilowatt hour, the same as coal or nuclear plants,” Behrens said. It’s completely controllable, unlike wind or solar power, and generates on demand like a fossil-fuel plant.]
    While I laugh at the idea that the actual cost of coal or nuclear power is just 3 cents per kwh because the EROI numbers on those two poisonous energy products exclude massive subsidies and environmental costs, I see no reason to doubt that the 3 cents per kwh is not bonafide with duckweed. Since nuclear has an official EROI of 10.0 and coal has an offical EROI of 80.0 then duckweed is somewhere in between. Even if it is only in the wind EROI range of 18 it is still a far better alternative than, for example, natural gas as of 2005 which was 10.0 because there are zero pollution costs associated with it and less transportation costs as well becsuse duckweed infrastructure would be decentralized and local.
    EROI figures for nuclear, coal, and natural gas 2005 and wind source:

    Now I bring this low corn ethanol EROI to your attention. I am certain the EROI would be much higher for ethanol if duckweed was the biomass source rather than corn. Of course that would cut chemical fertilizer and pesticide corporations out of the loop. It would also reduce fossil fuel costs in harvesting because duckweed is not a crop requiring tilling and grows several times faster than corn simply with animal feces in stagnant water. A mechanized netting operation for monthly havests (shorter intervals are possible depending on climate) would vastly exceed corn biomass in addition to ultimately cutting out fossil fuels from the farm machinery becasue they would run on ethanol.


    [They found that the EROI range for corn ethanol remained low, from 1.29–1.70 ]

    Furthermore duckweed can be pelletized and used as food for tilapia fish farming or fuel in furnaces.

    What about those that claim that renewables like duckweed, wind, photovoltaic, etc. are just niche energy markets and will never actually replace fossil fuels as number one?

    Snippet 1:
    [4. Clean energy investment has surpassed investments in fossil fuels
    Last year was the first time global investments in renewable energy surpassed investments in fossil fuels.
    The global market for clean energy was worth a whopping $250 billion.
    The United States is currently leading in corporate R&D and venture capital investments in clean energy globally, and last year retook the top spot in overall investment with a 33 percent increase to $55.9 billion.]

    As to the current EROI figures on fossil fuels, please consider that YOU paid for a lot of the R&D for them as well as current and past subsidies BEFORE the EROI figures are calculated.

    Snippet 2:
    [6. Fossil fuels have gotten 75 times more subsidies than clean energy
    To date, the oil-and-gas industry received $446.96 billion (adjusted for inflation) in cumulative energy subsidies from 1994 to 2009, whereas renewable energy sources received just $5.93 billion (adjusted for inflation).
    Renewable energy investments should be put in proper historical perspective. According to the Energy Information Agency, “focusing on a single year’s data does not capture the imbedded effects of subsidies that may have occurred over many years across all energy fuels and technologies.”
    The U.S. government is showing a smaller commitment to renewables than it showed in the early years of the oil-and-gas industries. A study showed that “during the early years of what would become the U.S. oil and gas industries, federal subsidies for producers averaged half a percent of the federal budget. By contrast, the current support for renewables is barely a fifth that size, just one-tenth of 1 percent of federal spending.”]

    Snippet 3:
    [Here are the top six things you really need to know:

    Clean energy is competitive with other types of energy
    Clean energy creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels
    Clean energy improves grid reliability
    Clean energy investment has surpassed investments in fossil fuels
    Investments in clean energy are cost effective
    Fossil fuels have gotten 75 times more subsidies than clean energy]


    Given all these real world facts about the main energy investment trends and the promise of EROI increases from renewables such as wind, photovoltaic and duckweed free of the environmental hazards of fossil and nuclear fuels and the prospect of much reduced government energy subsidies that we-the-people will benefit from, isn’t it folly to cling to the concept that centralized power systems will remain dominant in the energy markets?

    I hope that you find this study sufficiently fact based to consider it a worthy contribution to the Automatic Earth web site. If you disagree with any portion of this post, please do so with point by point objections rather than a banket dismissal. Also I request that you back up your objections with links. Failing to do so will only undermine your position. If I am wrong about anything here , I’ll be the first to admit it. I expect the same from you as well.

    Stoneleigh (nicole),
    I have read some of your work and comments and respect your credentials. Because of this experience you have from The Oil Drum web site, you are in a position to reach millions of people there and here at TAE. As you may have noted from the article above, EROI methodology that evolved from “net energy” methodology has never been scientifically peer reviewed. Furthemore, the current methodology has issues with coming up with comparable numbers in regard to renewables. Have you considered the possiblity that a new formulation that compares all the energy product apples and oranges out there would enable all energy users from private citizens to governments to better select which product to use or subsidize for the benefit of all? You could, for example write a book with a title like The CEROI, an energy measurement stick for all energy products. The “C” would stand for “comprehensive”. Within that formulation would be a “10+ and 10- year upstream and downstream energy and environmental cost calculation that would include expanded boundaries such as the energy used to manufacture the equipment used in mining, drilling, storing and transporting (e.g. oil tanker manufacturing costs and other energy product specific machinery) the product. Of course government subsidies and tax breaks would need to be figured in too. I don’t ask that you go to ridiculous extremes like plugging in campaign contributions by the oil lobby to influential senators and congressmen up to ten years prior to a law that turns the energy “level playing field” into an alpine slope or simply disallow through corruption the termination of fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies, but it is a thought (GRIN). You could make a spread sheet for renewables that have site dependent EROI so local officials could modify ordinances to enable rapid implementation when a high EROI can be achieved as in pelletized duckweed for animal feed or furnace (after a drying process) fuel. You could also discuss how an EROI of exactly the same energy product changes (goes up) when a catalyst is introduced (such as producing hydrogen from ethanol). Catalysts are, by definition, not changed or degraded in a chemical process but lower the activation energy for the reaction so, once the cost of obtaining the catalyst and positioning it in an industrial process is plugged in, you have an easily computable amortization cost in a ten year downstream framework. Also, in order to better compare energy products, the EPBT (energy pay back time) now used for renewables could be incorporated in the CEROI. By writing this book you could introduce some sorely needed standardized methodology for computing the reducton in marginal utility of an energy product. The fact that the current EROI methodolgy has not been peer reviewed translates to way too much latitude for happy talk in regard to the rate of reduction in marginal utility. If, for example, the target date for an energy product EROI to drop below 1.0 is 10 years, rather than 40 years, would that not change investment and allocation of capital? Does it not stand to reason that those with a vested interest in these energy products with decreasing marginal utility would attempt to push the projected point where the EROI drops below 1.0 as far into the future as possible? If all energy producers are forced to abide by a peer reviewed C-EROI manual that you published, everyone would benefit. And, of course, you might make a little money out of it too, notwithstanding the conniption fits from fossil fuel and nuclear energy producers. They might even try to defame you with innuendo and blanket dismissals that you are a fringe wacko but I am sure the scientific concensus would prevail and so would you.

    So why don’t I write the book on the great and glorious Comprehensive EROI?
    Because I really don’t like to getting into calculus derivatives with several inputs modifying the variables in a very complex fashion in order to figure out the rate of reduction in marginal utility just for starters. I believe you are much more at home with high level math than I am. I also don’t have the connections to get the hard, inside data from the fossil fuel and nuclear energy producers and what they REALLY spend. I believe you do. Please think about it. Our future depends on dispassionate decisions free of conflicts of interest by corrupt energy lobbies and politicians as well as being able to discern whether an alleged “renewable” is a blind energy ally or a boon to mankind and the biosphere. Only a scientifically peer reviewed COMPREHENSIVE EROI manual can remove the deliberate clouding of these issues that continues to take place. Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe you can come up with a CEROI, nicole.

    If am allowed to post here in the future, I plan to educate readers about EXACTLY what an oil tanker does from the point of taking on oil to offloading and return to get another load. I also will discuss why the law requiring double hulls in tankers came about. People need to know how all this “works”. The more they know, the less they will like it and the more chance we will have for a sustainable planet.

    ” One can judge from experiment or one can blindly accept authority. To the scientific mind experimental proof is all important and theory is merely a convenience in description to be junked when it no longer fits. To the academic mind authority is everything and facts are junked when they do not fit theory laid down by authority.” Robert Heinlein



    For some reason, the EROI sugar can number for Brasil did not print ou. Here is the full paragraph section:

    How long did it take to get photovoltaic panels with EROI > 1 from the first working prototype in a lab? We have somewhat of an idea that it took one or two decades for the Brazilians to get reasonable EROI > 1 from using sugar cane for biomass and biofuel production (Brazilian sugar cane grown and processed in Sao Paulo is estimated near EROI = 8).



    I don’t know why that happened. I did not print a smiling face. I printed an “8”. Let’s try that again.
    How long did it take to get photovoltaic panels with EROI > 1 from the first working prototype in a lab? We have somewhat of an idea that it took one or two decades for the Brazilians to get reasonable EROI > 1 from using sugar cane for biomass and biofuel production (Brazilian sugar cane grown and processed in Sao Paulo is estimated near EROI = 8 ).



    This is the story of Oil Tankers and pollution in the world’s oceans. This occurs out out sight of virtually everyone not crewing the tankers and port facilities and out of mind of everyone that isn’t working for or associated with the fossil fuel corporations. With the willing complicity of governments, the environment has consistently been sacrificed to ensure high profit margins for fossil fuel corporations.

    It’s not like the information is secret. I easily obtained the data on the internet. The problem is that the public is deliberately keep uninformed of this unending oil spill trashing the oceans day in and day out by the media that wishes us to believe that accidental oil spills are the biggest problem and operational oil spills (accidental oil spills are a separate category from operational – day to day – oil spills) are to be ignored.

    The media are, of course, defending a status quo that is, in my opinion, unsustainable. These corporate lackeys probably know that if a continuing drumbeat of how much oil is spilled on a daily basis with accumulated monthly and yearly totals from operational procedures was in the public view, renewables would begin to be pursued more assiduously. So that’s why you don’t see any oil pollution tonnage display like the national debt accrual display or the population increase clock. Besides, the media dwells in sensationalism and infantilized (short attention span) news stories, not actual news. In this study I do not address accidental oil spills from tankers, undersea wells or non-tanker ocean going vessels. I mention the Exxon Valdez briefly only in regard to the double bottom tanker construction safety issue.

    If you believe fossil fuels have actually helped mankind, I hope to convince you that the damage they are doing now, regardless of the early advances and conveniences brought to us by them in the 20th century, is killing us and needs to be phased out for our survival and much of the biosphere as well.
    Tankers are ships that are designed to carry bulk liquid cargoes such as crude oil or gasoline without the use of barrels or other small containers.

    Tankers vary in size from 200 ft used in coastal waters to 1/4 mile long supertankers. The cost of transporting oil obviously decreases as the tanker size increases. Huge supertankers have maneuverability problems and can present a hazard to other shipping.

    The first bulk carrier was the brig Elizabeth Watts which in 1861 took the first large consignment of oil, in large wooden barrels, from Pennsylvania to London, England. Owing to the stresses and strains of the long sea voyage, many of the barrels split and leaked oil into the timbers of the ship. By 1869, a new vessel, the Charles, had been fitted with iron tanks. These were rectangular in section to fit the shape of the ship’s hold. Each hold contained a number of containers, but in the following years, the containers grew to fill the entire hold.

    The first custom built ships were the Atlantic and the Valderland. These were both iron-hulled and built in Britain, on the river Tyne, in the early 1880s. The Atlantic was a sailing ship, but the Valderland pointed to the future by adopting steam power. The most successful tankship of the era was the Glucklauf, which could carry 3,500 tons of oil.

    As the amount of oil carried increased, the “free surface effect” from oil sloshing around in the hold tanks began to cause stability problems. A trunk design was developed to limit sloshing.

    Then in the early years of the 20th century, tankers began to change from coal-fired to oil-fired boilers.

    In the 1920s, the trunk deck vessels were superseded by summer tank designs, so called because extra tanks that could be used in the Summer Load Lines zones were fitted alongside the trunk.

    The modern tanker was introduced in the 1930s. The essence of the design were twin longitudinal bulkheads fitted in the tank space. This stopped cargo movement and saved on materials over the summer tank design.

    Except for the new double hulled tankers of today, the main difference between the tankers of the 1930s and today is their size. So, from the 10,000 tons DWT (deadweight) of the 1930s modern ships have grown to 300,000 tonners – VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carriers) – and can be as large as 500,000 tons – ULCCs (Ultra Large Crude Carriers).

    Most ship designers aim to use pumps (four main cargo pumps) which can empty a ship in 12 hours for a 24 hour turnaround time. Various systems come into play in cargo transfer like pumping engine exhaust gases into the holds to limit oxygen so the chances of a ship turning into a large bomb are reduced.

    IMCO (International Maritime Consultative Organization) was created in 1948 in order to produce regulations to increase safety.

    In 1978 the TSPP (Maritime Pollution Protocol on Tanker Safety and Pollution Prevention) made six recommendations on tanker design and modifications to existing tankers.

    New tankers were to have segregated ballast tanks to reduce pollution of the world’s oceans. It was common practice to FILL CARGO TANKS WITH SEA WATER TO ACT AS BALLAST when a tanker was traveling empty; almost without exception, tankers are only laden in one direction of their journey, owing to the geographical distribution of the world’s oilfields and the impossibility of carrying other kinds of cargo. The USE OF SEA WATER FOR BALLAST CAUSED MORE POLLUTION THAN THE HIGHLY PUBLICIZED TANKER DISASTERS.

    To control pollution, regulations have been brought in to design separate ballast tanks, so that sea water brought on board does not become polluted with oil products.

    Pages 2733-2735 of source:
    The New Illustrated Science and Invention Encyclopedia
    H.S. Stuttman Inc. (Publishers) Westport, Connecticut 06880
    It is estimated that 85 percent of all oil outflows from tank vessels results from operational procedures. Segregated ballast tanks, dedicated clean ballast tanks, and crude oil washing systems are aimed at reducing operational oil pollution. The following is a brief discussion on the three causes of operational oil pollution:

    1. Ballasting operations. On a normal tank vessel, water is introduced into cargo tanks that previously carried oil to ballast the vessel so that it can efficiently and safely proceed to a loading port. During this ballast voyage the oil water mixture is generally processed by a
    technique called “load on top.” This technique is simply to let the oil separate from the water naturally. The oil rises to the top to the water which significantly reduces the amount of oil mixed in with the water (oil/water emulsions). The “clean” water is then discharged overboard and the oil is retained on board with the next load of cargo “loaded on top.” As can be expected, some of the oil/water emulsions are discharged overboard, resulting in operational oil pollution.

    2. Tank cleaning. Cargo tanks are cleaned for two primary reasons. The first is to optimize the cargo carrying capacity of the cargo tank. During a normal voyage, sludge settles out of the oil and clings to the tank sides. Over a period of time this builds up to such a thickness that the tank is not carrying its maximum capacity of cargo. The second reason for cleaning cargo tanks is to ensure cargo purity. This is usually more prevalent on product carriers.

    Tank washing with high pressure water jets knocks this residue off the tank sidesand the resulting oily water mixture is processed by “load on top” as described above.

    Normally 25 percent of the vessel’s cargo tanks are cleaned in this manner on each voyage.

    When tank cleaning is conducted to maintain cargo purity, the number of tanks cleaned and the frequency of cleaning will be increased.

    3. Sludge removal prior to shipyard entry. Removing sludge prior to shipyard entry is a somewhat different exercise than the tank cleaning conducted to increase vessel cargo carrying efficiency. Sludge which is not removed during the tank washing settles to the bottom of the tank and becomes a thick dense mass of extremely heavy hydrocarbon and

    Normally, prior to shipyard entry, this sludge must be removed by hand. The sludge is “hand Bucked” and lifted to the deck in barrels or buckets.

    Much of the sludge is ultimately disposed of at sea.

    Page 5 of source:

    During the winter of 1976/1977 several tanker casualties occurred in or near U.S. waters which demonstrated the need for a global effort to improve both the level of safety and degree of pollution prevention from oil tankers. This series of casualties resulted in great public concern within the United States over the risks associated with the marine transportation of oil. Demands for the federal government to take additional steps to improve tanker safety and pollution revention were evident.
    Both the Executive Branch of the federal government and the Congress responded to these demands. An Interagency Oil Pollution Task Force was established to review the problem and make recommendations. As a result, on which 17, 1977, President Carter announced a series of desired federal government actions to deal with the problem of marine oil pollution caused by oil tankers.

    These Presidential Initiatives included a diverse but interrelated group of measures designed to reduce the risks associated with the marine transportation of oil. These measures, both international and
    domestic in nature and scope, were aimed toward achieving a number of objectives. including reform of ship construction and equipment standards for all U. S. oil tankers of 20,000 DWT and above and foreign oil tankers of 20,000 DWT and above that enter U. S. ports.

    Specifically, the Secretary of Transportation was directed to develop new rules within 60 days
    which would include:
    – Double bottoms on all new tankers.
    – Segregated ballast on all tankers.
    – Inert gas systems on all tankers.
    – Backup radar and collision avoidance equipment on all tankers.
    – Improved emergency steering gear standards for all tankers.
    – Where technological improvements and alternative: could be shown to achieve the same
    degree of safety or protection against pollution, the rules could allow their use.

    In response to these Presidential Initiatives the Coast Guard published proposed rules in the May 16, 1977 Issue of the Federal Register (42 CFR 24868) to incorporate the recommended changes to tanker
    construction and equipment standards. Over 200 written comments were received in response to the proposals, most of which indicated support for the more stringent tanker standards.

    Page 3 of source:

    On October 17, 1978 the Port and Tanker Safety Act of 1978 (PTSA) became law, amending the Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1973, and mandated, as a minimum, the tanker construction and
    equipment standards developed at the TSPP Conference. The PTSA became the new authority for issuing the regulations which implement the TSPP standards.

    Page 4 of source:
    All the above sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? You don’t know how the fossil fuel lobby works if you believe that. Even as the wording of the new regulations and law were being written, they were busy modifying the language.
    The Coast Guard issued these new proposed regulations in the Federal Register on February 12, 1979 and, at the same time, withdrew the proposals for double bottom:, SET, IGS, and improved steering gear standards which were published in the May 16, 1977 Federal Register.

    Page 4 of source:
    Now then, WHY were the proposals for double bottoms withdrawn and what is the purpose of a double bottom in a tanker?

    Well, right off the bat, if these regulations are implemented, you’ve got to build a fleet of new tankers! That costs a lot of money. Retrofitting a tanker to add a double bottom is probably out of the question so your present fleet of polluting pigs would have to be scrapped with a sunset clause in the law. The fossil fuel lobby was NOT going to allow an attack on their bottom line for the benefit of their “garbage disposal lakes” (the oceans of the world), the creatures there or the rest of the biosphere.

    Double bottoms are a safety measure to reduce the possibility of sinking and oil spills due to grounding or striking an underwater obstacle. However, they are a half measure. A double hull, unlike the double bottom, provides a total double structure including the sides as well as the bottom. Furthermore, the double hull, because it provides more unibody strength to the ship, allows for the elimination of longitudinal bulkheads. Then the tanker has wider tanks and another problem called the “free surface effect” occurs in the oil cargo that can destabilize the tanker. This requires baffles or some other design to keep the oil from sloshing around. Another downside for an ocean going vessel is that the double hull ship is slightly less stable than a single hull because it has a higher center of gravity.

    At any rate, even the double bottom requirement was crushed.
    As usual, the environment was sacrificed (along with the health and lives of several Alaskans) for oil corporation profits on March 24, 1989.
    After the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster, when that ship grounded on Bligh Reef outside the port of Valdez, Alaska, the US Government required all new oil tankers built for use between US ports to be equipped with a full double hull.
    The following caveat placed in the above wikipeda article is pathetic but it shows how far the long arm of the fossil fuel industry reaches to make themselves look blameless:
    However, the damage to the Exxon Valdez penetrated sections of the hull (the slops oil tanks) that were protected by a partial double hull.[2][3]
    The fossil fuel lobby was TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE for the dropping of the double bottom requirement way back in February 12, 1979.
    Regulation reaction to disaster is not my idea of responsible government.
    Now let’s get back the regs that did get written.
    Here are some acronyms you need to reference in this study:
    COW – Crude oil washing system that meets Subpart D of 33 CFR Part 157.
    SBT – Segregated ballast tanks that meet 33 CFR Part 157.
    CDT – Dedicated clean ballast tanks that meet Subpart E of 33 CFR Part 157.
    DWT – Deadweight tonnage in metric tons.
    IGS – Inert gas system that meets ~6 CFR 32.53.

    PL/SBTa – Protectively located segregated ballast tanks that meet Appendix C of 33 CFR Part
    PL/SBTb – Protectively located segregated ballast tanks that meet 33 CFR 157.09(d).
    Page 11 of source:
    What is OST?
    The purpose of an oil spill tanker (OST) is to provide a place
    to store large volumes of recovered crude oil, emulsion and
    free water and to store captured liquid waste streams (treated
    sanitary waste, domestic waste, bilge water, ballast water).

    And now to see how the new oil tanker regs were watered down (Mind you, this is well before Reagan stepped in and began to defund regulatory agencies so tanker inspections would become a joke):
    3. Exemption from the SBT, OST, and COW requirements for U. S. tank vessels in specific trades between U. S. ports that discharge ballast and oily water mixtures to a reception facility. Proposed regulations were issued on May 22, 1980 (45 FR 3L;306). Final regulations were issued on January 15, 1981 (46 FR 3510).

    Page 4 of source:
    I label the following regs below the “Be Nice and Do This But If You Don’t We’ll Make You Say You don’t and nothing more” code of nonpunitive oil tanker regulations.

    h. When a U.S. tank vessel is subject to and complies with the SBT, CBT and COW requirements in 33 CFR 157.l0c, the vessel’s Certificate of Inspection will be endorsed with the following appropriate select wording:

    This tank vessel is equipped with segregated ballast tanks/ dedicated clean ballast tanks/a crude oil washing system and complies with the requirements of 33 CFR Part 157.l0c to operate as a “Crude Oil Carrier” I “Product Carrier” I “Crude Oil/Product Carrier.”

    i. A U.S. tank vessel that is not in compliance with the applicable requirements will be treated within the framework of existing inspection procedures consistent with those of
    enclosure (1).
    According to enclosure (1), the inspector will write “No Evidence Of Apparent Action Towards Compliance on his inspection report, PERIOD. For those who like to watch this silliness in action, just look at enclosure (1); it’s a cheap scanned table placed sideways (and angled a bit crooked) in an otherwise professional document. Do you think, MAYBE, somebody didn’t want us looking at enclosure (1) too closely?

    enclosure (1) is right after page 5 of source:

    Of course there are some alleged “teeth” in these regs. This is the extent of the “punitive” action in the event of non-compliance:
    a. Enclosure (1) is a matrix which provides guidelines regarding Coast -Guard enforcement procedures to ensure that foreign flag tank vessels entering U.S. waters for commercial service comply with the applicable regulations.

    A tank vessel that has completed the required installations and modifications and has on board acceptance documents issued by the government of the vessel ‘s flag state or the Coast Guard will routinely be boarded and examined for verification only.

    Those vessels in partial compliance will be examined as
    recommended in enclosure (1) to ensure they continue to move towards full compliance within a reasonable time.

    Appropriate enforcement action may be taken against tank vessels not in full compliance. Tank vessels making no apparent effort to comply or having deficiencies which would seriously affect safety will normally be refused permission to conduct cargo transfer operations, denied further entry into U. S. waters, and/or subjected to civil penalties of up to $25,000 a day.
    Please consider the significance of a $25,000 a day fine to a tanker with a 300,000 to 500,000 ton DWT and a full load of crude. Uh, let’s see. A VLCC tanker is capable of carrying 2 million barrels of crude (VLCC tanker – you know – that’s the smaller of the supertankers). Crude oil prices are in barrels and at, for example, $80 a barrel, a VLCC tanker has a load worth about 160 million dollars. But lets be real conservative and say the load is worth 100 million dollars. I’m an oil corporation executive faced with multi million dollar retrofits on my tanker fleet oil polluting machinery versus daily fines (when I can’t bribe the port ship inpectors) of 1/40th of 1% per day of my load’s worth (remember I only need a 24 hour turnaround). I can easily pass that “cost of doing busness” on to the consumers.

    In predatory capitalism, a business model that is ethics free, a cost benefit analysis always comes up with the cheapest alternative. The regulatory framework is also attacked with a team of Wall Street lawyer/lobbyists that head to D.C. to stroke, befuddle and, if need be, threaten the politicians so that kid gloves are issued to the enforcement agencies. Some Madison Avenue PR is also put in place to counter public knowledge of environmental degradation.

    Until the public outrage is too great and retrofit is forced from accidental oil spills making the news (e.g. Exxon Valdez), the oil corporations drag their feet while the environment continues to be trashed and the corporate profits and political influence they wield destroys representative government through corruption. This is the Wall Street business model. This has not changed in the fossil fuel (or nuclear) industry one iota (if anything, it’s more brazen) since President Carter tried to rein these monsters in over 30 years ago.

    b. Owners/operators of U. S. flag tank vessels subject to the requirements of 33 CFR 157 and 164 and/or 46 CFR 32.53 should follow the procedures contained in those regulations to ensure compliance. Modifications and alterations made to a tank vessel to bring it into compliance should be treated similar to any other modification in terms of plan submission and approval, inspection scheduling, and the conduct of the inspection. Owners/operators
    are encouraged to contact the cognizant OCMI at their earliest opportunity to arrange for the inspection.

    Page 3 of source:


    j. For a foreign flag tank vessel, 46 USC 3711 requires a Certificate of Compliance to be issued to a vessel found to be in compliance with the applicable requirements. A Tank Vessel Examination Letter (Form GG 8405-1), or in the case of a chemical/product tanker
    a Letter of Compliance, is used as the Certificate of Compliance. When a foreign flag tank vessel is subject to and complies with 33 CFR 157.l0c, the -Certificate of Compliance will be endorsed with the following appropriate select wording:

    This tank vessel is equipped with segregated ballast tanks/ dedicated clean ballast tanks/a crude oil washing system and complies with the requirements of 33 CFR Part 157.l0c to operate as a “Crude Oil Carrier” / “Product Carrier” / “Crude Oil/Product Carrier.”

    k. A foreign flag tank vessel that is not in compliance with the applicable requirements will have the deficiencies listed on the Tank Vessel Examination Letter along with an agreed upon schedule which should provide the vessel with a reasonable time to comply.

    1. The Coast Guard’s computerized Marine safety Information System (MSIS) will be used to record, keep track of, and follow-up on tank vessel examinations. Following an examination, appropriate entries will be made in the MSIS.

    Page 4-5 of source:
    This next paragraph is particularly interesting:
    To prevent tankers from suffering an excessive loss of cargo carrying capacity, reduced draft and propeller immersion standards have been provided for in 33 CFR 157.l0c(d).

    Under this paragraph, a tanker that exceeds either the draft or the propeller immersion requirements of 157.09(b) by more than 10% when “using the tankage necessary” to meet the draft requirement may reduce the amount of SBT or CBT provided it meets 80% of
    both the draft and propeller immersion standards.

    Page 21 of source:
    What you just read means “Go ahead and pollute if your profit margin is threatened”. Draft and propeller immersion requirements are vital to the safety of ocean going vessels. It’s quite dangerous to violate them and can make the vessel unstable. With retrofitted vessels that meet the new regs, you have a heavier tanker. So now the environment, the very reason for the new regs, is made to pay the price so the oil lobby doesn’t. After all, we wouldn’t want to lower oil EROI, now would we? Responsible stewardship of the environment must not be allowed to interfere with profit, RIGHT?
    10. 33 CFR 157.15(b) – Less oily water mixtures will be generated from the use of 53T, CBT, and COW (approved Crude Oil Washing system) and the smooth tank surfaces of combination carriers, therefore, the total capacity of the slop tank ( Slop tank: tank into which residues are pumped and left to settle onboard oil tankers. source: http://www.black-tides.com/uk/tools/glossary.php ) should be 3 percent of the total oil carrying capacity of the vessel, except as follows:

    Page 24 of source:
    The “as follows” from the above outlines lesser max slop tank percentages if the new rules are followed as a sort of profit motive. The smaller the percentage in the slop tank, the less tank cleaning you have done. Remember those slop tanks have oil waste that must be disposed of without dumping it in the ocean. The language lacks any punitive wording for failure to implement regulations that reduce oil pollution. The repeated use of the word “should” in all these rules translates to “recommendations” rather than “rules”. This reflects the power of the fossil fuel lobby where maximum profit is always more important than the environment. These “rules” merely reduced the profit margin a a tiny amount and certainly did not make oil tankers unprofitable but even so, real improvements are optional to the detriment of the biosphere.

    These kinds of regulations should be more appropriately called “Swiss Cheese Law Requirements”:
    TANK VESSEL REQUIREMENTS: The regulation: in the November 19, 1979 and June 30, 1980 Federal Registers added standards for SBT, CET, COW, and IGS for domestic tank vessels of 209000 DWT and above, and foreign tank vessels of 20,000 DWT and above that enter U. S. waters In addition, the regulations of November 19 added improved steering gear standards for domestic tank vessels of
    10,000 gross tons and above and foreign tank vessels of 10,000 gross tons and above that enter U. S. waters. The applicability of these equipment and construction standards for each tank vessel is dependent upon three parameters:

    1. The type of trade in which the tank vessel is engaged (crude oil or product).

    2. The size of the tank vessel (deadweight or gross tonnage).

    3. The date the tank vessel was contracted for, the date the keel was laid, or the date the tank vessel was delivered.

    Why should we care about the munitiae of boring regulations and fossil fuel lobby word games and corruption to preserve their profits?

    First of all, because of THIS:
    The leakage of petroleum onto the surface of a large body of water is known as an oil spill. Oil spills are chiefly the result of intensified petroleum exploration on the continental shelf and the use of supertankers. The total annual release of oil spills exceeds 1,000,000 tons. The negligent release of used gasoline solvents and crankcase lubricants by industries and individuals aggravates the problem. The costs of oil spills are considerable in both economic and ecological terms. Oil spills are harmful to birds and many forms of aquatic life, and no thoroughly satisfactory clean-up method has yet been developed. The long-term impact on the ecological systems of an affected area are difficult to assess.

    Secondly, those illicit profits fossil fuel corporations get enable them to buy political influence and disinformation propaganda. This creates a situation where any attempt to give people out there the big picture of this planet killing energy product called fossil fuels is mercilessly attacked, delegitimized and distorted. True EROI numbers for renewables are kept out of the public view along with continuous attempts to prolong the subsidies for the dinosaurs while starving renewable R&D money from governmment out. Yes, private and non-fossil fuel (and non-nuclear) corporation R&D and investment money is increasing rapidly but it is happening in spite of, not because of, government efforts (at least in the U.S.).

    Finally, the figure given above of 1,000,000 plus tons of ocean oil pollution is probably conservative because the continous operational oil pollution that the 1981 regs attempted to address (probably) has not been added to the accidental oil spills; Out of sight and out of the public mind and all that.

    These fossil fuel pigs are not going to stop until we stop using their products, PERIOD. They are now happily planning to increase the strength of the oil tanker hulls. No, it’s not because they are concerned with pollution. It’s because they are planning to navigate them through the partially ice free arctic. Isn’t that just dandy?


    If you are not sufficiently alarmed, I hope the following info on accidental oil spills and how the continously eroding regulatory enforcement goverment attitude is breeding another Exxon Valdez.

    Unfortunately, no mention of the daily operational oil spill pollution is mentioned. This not getting better; it’s getting worse.
    A spill in mid-ocean from the tanker Polar Discovery went unreported for months until an engineroom employee from the company called the Coast Guard. The ship’s log entries required by law were either not made or made in misleading fashion. (See accompanying story.)

    The whistle-blower who reported the spill so feared retaliation that he refused to return to the fleet and, after hiring an attorney, was reassigned to a shipyard. The captain was fired, but insists the company ducked its own responsibility and made him a scapegoat.

    Safety lapses plague oil tankers

    A galley employee on the Polar California claimed in court papers that the captain and crew were drinking, and alcohol had been brought aboard the ship. She said she was then taken off the ship, arrested and involuntarily placed in a mental institution for five days. The P-I found in an independent investigation that, while security in Valdez,
    Alaska, and refinery ports greatly discourages drinking by crew members, some still imbibe heavily at stopover locations such as Port Angeles.

    Another ConocoPhillips tanker, the Endeavour, pulled into Prince William Sound last year with oil stains on its side. Alaska regulators were notified by the ship’s escort vessel after a ConocoPhillips supervisor failed to relay a spill report made by the ship’s captain.
    The same ship later collided with a bulk carrier in the South China Sea. An internal report blamed the accident on failure to slow down in fog.

    In February 2003, the Polar Resolution left San Francisco with a troublesome fuel leak in the engine room. An explosion in a huge electrical breaker shortly afterward sent the ship scurrying back to port. No report of the incident was made, according to the Coast Guard — a likely violation of the law.

    An engine-room officer on the Polar Alaska is under federal investigation after a fellow officer reported him for bypassing equipment that removes oil from engine-room wastes before
    they are pumped overboard.


    Please, reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible. Don’t support anything from the fossil fuel or nuclear corporations. If you have stock, sell it regardless of whether you win or lose money. Your grandchildren are depending on you to stop this senseless pollution. If you aren’t alarmed, it’s because you are uninformed.

    Spread the word so less people are uninformed. I hate reading dry and boring regulations but I have started to do so because I have come to realize that our lives and our future depend on facing this juggernaut of greed and corruption we are saddled with and calling them on it in a grass roots fashion. WE are the consumers. If WE stop consuming, the monsters are starved out, the political fascist power evaporates and we have better than the snowball’s chance in hell we now have of passing a viable biosphere on to our grandchildren.

    I authorize the reposting of any and/or all portions of this post with or without attribution.

    A. G. Gelbert


    “Recently I was chastised by ilargi for publishing material and comments that are beneath the high standards of truth in The Automatic Earth web site. I believe he mistakenly thought I was attacking stoneleigh (nicole) in regard to a natural gas EROI published by her. I wish to state categorically that my critique was of the EROI methodology, not nicole. I consider her a studious and analytical person that wishes to present the data as objectively as possible within the current EROI methodology. Also, perhaps ilargi believes my severely critical attitude towards fossil fuels and nuclear, being that fossil fuels in particular is the dominant energy paradigm at this time, is “fringe wacko thinking” not “worthy” of TAE. I hope, with this post and others to follow, that he reconsiders his opinion and/or debates my posts on the merits and not on a blanket assumption laced with innuendo and veiled threats to censor me by banning me.”

    No, you’re not listening at all.

    The quality of your post is simply not good enough. As I said, you need to do some serious reading. And the length of your comments is very inconsiderate of other people who read here, no matter what the quality.

    Making all sorts of presumptions about why I do what I do, and talking about innuendo and veiled threats where there are none is not helping. Why don’t you just stay away for a while? Take some time to do that reading I recommended. I strongly suggest everyone does that who wishes to enter my joint. Which is where we are.

    I’m done with this for now. Don’t need an answer.

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