Daily Digest

Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, Beware Pyramid Schemes, World Food Prices at Record High

Thursday, February 3, 2011, 12:00 PM
  • Iceland Shows Ireland Did ‘Wrong Things’ Saving Banks
  • Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis Amid ‘Upbeat’ Davos
  • Investor Beware - Pyramid Schemes
  • Real Estate Down
  • Interest On National Debt: 'Skyrocketing' Costs Ahead
  • ‪A Thriving Stock Market‬ (Video)
  • World Food Prices Hit Record High

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Economy

Iceland Shows Ireland Did ‘Wrong Things’ Saving Banks (solidswede)



Iceland did the right thing by making sure its payment systems continued to function while creditors, not the taxpayers, shouldered the losses of banks,” says Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University in New York. “Ireland’s done all the wrong things, on the other hand. That’s probably the worst model.

Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis Amid ‘Upbeat’ Davos (solidswede)



When bankers weren’t trying to win business, they were worrying about governments’ fiscal policy in the U.S. and Western Europe or reiterating the role that finance plays in economic growth. And they echoed one element of Wilkinson’s report -- the part that said a focus on bank rules could push risk-taking into hedge funds or other types of financial companies that don’t fall under the regulations. While German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Jan. 28 that too little had been done to prevent another financial crisis, politicians focused mostly on defending their efforts to restore growth, curb inflation and deal with the debts of European countries such as Greece and Ireland. As French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told a panel on Jan. 29, “the euro zone has turned the corner” and “we learned from our mistakes and we learned from the crisis.”

Investor Beware - Pyramid Schemes (james)



The basic premise is this, Mike explains: the new investor comes in on the bottom of the pyramid, agreeing to purchase one or two or 10 coins each month at a certain price, which is considerably higher than retail price of the bullion or the collectable premium of the coin. The new investor also brings in two new buyers to join the club. When the two new buyers purchase their coins at the same ridiculously high price, the original investor who recruited them receives a small cut of the profit, and the bulk of the profit gets passed up the line to the top of the pyramid. The idea is that as the investor works his way up the pyramid, his take grows larger and larger, eventually covering the cost of his own monthly coin purchase.

Real Estate Down (james)



Housing prices are going to continue to drop and it is for the simple reason of supply and demand. People were infatuated with constructing new houses for profit when there was already a steady supply in the market.  With the economy as lousy as it is, its no wonder housing supplies well exceed demand and that we currently have a surplus of housing! 

Interest On National Debt: 'Skyrocketing' Costs Ahead (jeff)



Here's what it means if interest costs range between $5.5 trillion and $7.5 trillion: Between 14 cents and 19 cents of every federal tax dollar collected over the next decade would be eaten up by interest. That's 14 cents to 19 cents of every tax dollar that will not be available to pay for government services and programs, or to aid Americans and states in the event of an economic downturn or natural disaster.

‪A Thriving Stock Market‬ (Video) (presentmoment)



Economist Nouriel Roubini discusses the market's rebound.  He points out that massive monetary stimulus of $1.8 trillion for QE I and $600 billion for QE II and a tax cut for top income earners of $900 billion paid by deficit gave us a barely 3% of GDP growth.  A set of policies he would like to see  are a short-term stimulus, spending cuts, entitlement reform and raising taxes.  He says there is no free lunch and the rising debts and deficit is a risk to the economy.  

World Food Prices Hit Record High (jeff)



Rising commodities costs are one of the major factors behind a growing wave of civil unrest across the Middle East and North Africa. "High food prices are of major concern especially for low-income food deficit countries that may face problems financing food imports, and for poor households which spend a large share of their income on food," said Abbassian.

Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to dd@PeakProsperity.com. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the "3 Es."

32 Comments

saxplayer00o1's picture
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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

Mayor Bloomberg Proposes Pension Cuts for Future NYC Workers

"Pension costs will amount to about 12 percent of New York City’s $67.5 billion budget for the year beginning July 1, according to the spending plan. Annual costs, now about $7.5 billion, are expected to increase to about $9 billion by 2016, from $1.4 billion in 2002, the mayor has said.

“This would destroy the city employees,” Harry Nespoli, president of the 6,100-member Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, told the Associated Press. "

  • Other news:

Shadow inventory to push foreclosures to new heights

China property bubble to pop this year, says analyst

Hungary's premier declares end to private pensions

Christie Says 'Sue Me' as Pensioners Challenge Cuts (New Jersey)

More cuts not enough to meet service demand, Saginaw County Vice Chairman Tim Novak says

European Real Estate Bonds Face Ratings Downgrades, Moody's Says

Emergency bill to fund Medicaid shortfall (Hawaii)

Alaska governor proposes $160M supplemental bill

US 'stormageddon' latest pain on city, state budgets

Houstonians could lose water if drainage fees aren't paid

Strapped States Look To Alcohol For Shot Of Cash

Taleb Advises ‘First’ Avoid Treasuries, Then Dollar

Public-sector pensions skyrocketing - report (Canada)

Oil Climbs on Egypt as Stocks Decline; Copper Reaches $10000

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

Hi,

What  about those diesel producing bacteria, that we heard about a few weeks ago? Can they reduce the effects of Peal Oil?

Thanks,

Bogdan.

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U.S. Faces Dollar Decline as China Becomes Importer

U.S. Faces Dollar Decline as China Becomes Importer
"China may post a trade deficit as early as this quarter as imports outpace sales abroad, the government said last month. The country’s reliance on trade to fuel economic growth close to 10 percent is now fading as its consumers grow wealthier, removing a key incentive for China to support the dollar. At the same time, the world’s largest economy estimates its budget deficit will swell to a record $1.5 trillion this year, as President Barack Obama channels stimulus to revive growth."

"'If we don’t move to address our deficit before China addresses its surplus then we are going to be facing some pretty significant external funding constraints,' Roach said. 'That would lead to a significant downward pressure on the dollar and/or higher long-term U.S. interest rates.'"

"China will curb its reliance on exports sooner than the U.S. can cut its budget and external deficits, removing a support from the dollar that will unsettle currency markets, Morgan Stanley’s Stephen Roach said."
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-03/roach-says-u-s-faces-dollar-dec...

It says there's a greater than 30% chance China will do this before the U.S. starts truly addressing the deficit. I say there's a greater than 90% chance...

Poet

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Iceland Shows Ireland Did 'Wrong Things' Saving Banks

HT-idoc

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

Bogdan wrote:

Hi,

What  about those diesel producing bacteria, that we heard about a few weeks ago? Can they reduce the effects of Peal Oil?

Thanks,

Bogdan.

Is this what you are talking about?  http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/sns-auto-oil-from-algae-makes-fuel,0,1419272.story

The short answer is no, it will have as much affect on peak oil as you have on raising ocean levels by spitting into it.

The longer answer is contained in this quote - "This means that algae could theoretically produce up to 10,000 gallons of oil per acre per year." That works out to be 238 barrels of oil per acre per year.  The US consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day and worldwide consumption is about 85 million barrels of oil per day.  Do you have some land you want to donate?

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Bernanke again says inflation is too low

"Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the U.S. can't fully recover from the worst recession in decades until hiring improves.

Bernanke says the economy is strengthening, and will likely grow at a faster pace this year as more confident consumers and companies spend more, in prepared remarks to the National Press Club. But he warns that the growth still won't be strong enough to quickly drive down high unemployment, and it could take several years before it returns to more normal levels.

He says: "Until we see a sustained period of stronger job creation, we cannot consider the recovery to be truly established."

His remarks suggest the Fed will stick with its program to prime the economy by purchasing $600 billion of Treasury bonds by the end of June."

"(Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Thursday that despite recent signs of improvement in the U.S. economy, the recovery still needs help from the Fed.

"Although economic growth will probably increase this year, we expect the unemployment rate to remain stubbornly above, and inflation to remain stubbornly below, the levels that Federal Reserve policymakers have judged to be consistent over the longer term with our mandate," he said in remarks prepared for delivery to the National Press Club.

Bernanke provided a modestly more rosy outlook for the world's largest economy than in previous speeches, citing gains in household spending, improved confidence, and stepped up bank lending as signs 2011 may see stronger growth than 2010.

Even the hard hit job market shows some grounds for optimism, Bernanke said.

However, modest growth and cautious hiring suggest that it will be several years before the jobless rate returns to a more normal level, he said."

gold

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

@Bogdan

One company (ls9.com) is looking at making biodiesel from plant waste, such as sugar cane remnants.  I think the technology still needs a year to prove it is viable before ramping up production.  The question is, assuming it will work well, is it scable?  How big of a dent can it put into 20 mbpd of U.S. petroleum consumption.

A university in Germany is looking at doing the same kind of thing to produce bio-ethanol from plant waste.  It is in the research stage, so again we need viability and scalability without taking away from our food supply and without requiring a lot of energy and petrofertilizer inputs to grow the crops to begin with.

In short, I don't see a major impact, however it's worth pursuing as liquid fuels will always be in demand!

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

JeffB wrote:

Bogdan wrote:

Hi,

What  about those diesel producing bacteria, that we heard about a few weeks ago? Can they reduce the effects of Peal Oil?

Thanks,

Bogdan.

Is this what you are talking about?  http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/sns-auto-oil-from-algae-makes-fuel,0,1419272.story

The short answer is no, it will have as much affect on peak oil as you have on raising ocean levels by spitting into it.

The longer answer is contained in this quote - "This means that algae could theoretically produce up to 10,000 gallons of oil per acre per year." That works out to be 238 barrels of oil per acre per year.  The US consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day and worldwide consumption is about 85 million barrels of oil per day.  Do you have some land you want to donate?

20,000,000 barrels/238 barrels per acre  = 84,000 acres needed for a 1 day supply

84,000 * 365 = 31 million acres

plus a whole lot of water needed

plus a whole lot of centrifuges

and that only gives you 'vegetable oil' that still needs to be converted to biodiesel!

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

Bogdan wrote:

Hi,

What  about those diesel producing bacteria, that we heard about a few weeks ago? Can they reduce the effects of Peal Oil?

Thanks,

Bogdan.

if that's the CO2 to oil article, i commented on that - bacteria are alive, and no info was given as to where they get the other components of DNA, ie, phosphorus & nitrogen...

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Re: U.S. Faces Dollar Decline as China Becomes Importer

Poet wrote:

U.S. Faces Dollar Decline as China Becomes Importer
"China may post a trade deficit as early as this quarter as imports outpace sales abroad, the government said last month. The country’s reliance on trade to fuel economic growth close to 10 percent is now fading as its consumers grow wealthier, removing a key incentive for China to support the dollar. At the same time, the world’s largest economy estimates its budget deficit will swell to a record $1.5 trillion this year, as President Barack Obama channels stimulus to revive growth."

"'If we don’t move to address our deficit before China addresses its surplus then we are going to be facing some pretty significant external funding constraints,' Roach said. 'That would lead to a significant downward pressure on the dollar and/or higher long-term U.S. interest rates.'"

"China will curb its reliance on exports sooner than the U.S. can cut its budget and external deficits, removing a support from the dollar that will unsettle currency markets, Morgan Stanley’s Stephen Roach said."
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-03/roach-says-u-s-faces-dollar-dec...

It says there's a greater than 30% chance China will do this before the U.S. starts truly addressing the deficit. I say there's a greater than 90% chance...

Poet

I'm not sure I buy the logic in the article.  Presumably, because China starts using its excess dollars to import goods rather than to buy US Treasuries, then the amount of dollars "chasing" US Treasury bonds diminishes by the corresponding amount?

US Treasuries may be hitting turbulence for many reasons, but I cannot see how this can be one of them.  If China starts running a trade deficit instead of a surplus, it just means someone, somewhere, will start running a surplus instead of a deficit, and similarilly needs to invest them somewhere, just like China did.

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Yasi Yasi Yasi, oi oi oi!

Ironically, our power went off (read switched to battery power) for two hours yesterday (in bright sunshine), and the phone and internet went down for about six... and we're a thousand miles from all the excitement.

Danger remains as Yasi downgraded to tropical low

Banana farm inundated by Cyclone Yasi floodwaters

Cyclone Yasi has been downgraded to a tropical low but its effects are still being felt across vast areas of northern Queensland.

The former category five cyclone was downgraded from a category one system by the weather bureau about 10:30pm (AEST) as it travelled west across Queensland between Richmond and Mount Isa.

Almost 24 hours earlier, Yasi, packing winds of up to 285kph, ripped through buildings and smashed infrastructure and farms in coastal centres including Mission Beach, Tully and Cardwell.

Up to 180,000 households are without power and there are concerns about dwindling water supplies in Townsville and Magnetic Island.

But the danger is far from over, as flash floods pose a real threat to communities from Cairns to Innisfail after massive rainfalls on Thursday.

The weather bureau says Cairns received more than 260mm of rain since 9:00am Thursday and a similar big dumping was expected overnight.

Flooding has isolated Ingham and Giru and Charters Towers was expected to be cut off overnight.

Even with the system more than 900 kilometres inland, damaging wind gusts of more than 90kph are still possible as severe thunderstorms move with the system.

A flash flood warning has been issued for the north-west, Channel country and central-west.

Mount Isa is of the most concern as Yasi edges inland, with the tropical low expected to bring strong winds and rain to the city overnight.

Forecaster Gordon Banks says it is becoming gusty and the effects will still be felt by the morning. Mount Isa residents were told to stay indoors

"By tomorrow morning [Friday] it'll just be ex-Yasi, but still quite a dangerous system with the amount of rainfall that could be produced through the area, the north-west and central-west," he said.

A priest who has lived in Mount Isa for more than 20 years says he has never seen anything like Yasi.

Father Mick Lowcock says it is unusual the weather system has come all the way from the coast rather than from the Gulf of Carpentaria.

"Certainly very different from anything else we've ever had before," he said.

"Certainly because it has come from the east coast rather than the Gulf, that's the first thing you'd say and because it's linked with such a big system makes people a bit more wary this time."

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

jkibbe wrote:
84,000 * 365 = 31 million acres

I remember doing this same calculation for PV, as I remember that was about the same amount of area, so it's solar conversion is about the same as PV.  I brought it up because all the people that just kept saying all we need is a bit of area in Nevada for solar panels without realizing the huge size and amount of materials required.  That is about 200 miles squared.

I do think the many companies will do well.  They can produce on a close to cost competitive basis so what they can produce will be used, it's just they can't make a dent in the quantity needed - not necessarily a bad situation for their business.

DISCLOSURE: I'm invested in some of these companies.

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Yasi Yasi Yasi, oi oi oi!

This is what's left of Carwell, Nth QLD....

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

Police open fire on Yemeni protesters

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/police-open-fire-on-yemen-protesters/

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Algae Scaling

jkibbe wrote:

JeffB wrote:

Bogdan wrote:

Hi,

What  about those diesel producing bacteria, that we heard about a few weeks ago? Can they reduce the effects of Peal Oil?

Thanks,

Bogdan.

Is this what you are talking about?  http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/sns-auto-oil-from-algae-makes-fuel,0,1419272.story

The short answer is no, it will have as much affect on peak oil as you have on raising ocean levels by spitting into it.

The longer answer is contained in this quote - "This means that algae could theoretically produce up to 10,000 gallons of oil per acre per year." That works out to be 238 barrels of oil per acre per year.  The US consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day and worldwide consumption is about 85 million barrels of oil per day.  Do you have some land you want to donate?

20,000,000 barrels/238 barrels per acre  = 84,000 acres needed for a 1 day supply

84,000 * 365 = 31 million acres

plus a whole lot of water needed

plus a whole lot of centrifuges

and that only gives you 'vegetable oil' that still needs to be converted to biodiesel!

And that's if the algae were intensely farmed and harvested - with water irrigation, fertilizer, densely packed steel, glass, plastic piping, pumps for slurry and carbon dioxide circulation from a source such as a factory, etc. - on an area of land equal to 30 million acres, or about equal to 1/10th of all harvested cropland in the United States. High-oil-producing algae also would need to be carefully closed-system monocropped to prevent against viral infection or competition from bacteria and other algae species.

Is there enough steel, glass, and plastic piping and pumps to go around? How much would that cost? How much time would we have to scale up?

Some studies show algae oil would only be viable if oil cost several hundred dollars per barrel.

By contrast, lower intensity algae ponds only provide about 1,000 gallons per acre - in which case you'd need land equivalent to the entire harvested cropland of all of the United States (300 million acres). And lots and LOTS of water - evaporation sucks.

Poet

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

U.S. could tax airline baggage fees (FAA faces revenue shortfall in a key trust fund)

Delta says fuel prices will drive fare increases

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

Oysters disappearing worldwide: study

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-oysters-gastronomes-globally.html

"A survey of oyster habitats around the world has found that the succulent mollusks are disappearing fast and 85% of their reefs have been lost due to disease and over-harvesting. Most of the remaining wild oysters in the world, or about 75 percent, can be found in five locations in North America, said the study published in BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences."

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Re: Algae scaling

jkibbe wrote:

JeffB wrote:

Bogdan wrote:

Hi,

What  about those diesel producing bacteria, that we heard about a few weeks ago? Can they reduce the effects of Peal Oil?

Thanks,

Bogdan.

Is this what you are talking about?  http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/sns-auto-oil-from-algae-makes-fuel,0,1419272.story

The short answer is no, it will have as much affect on peak oil as you have on raising ocean levels by spitting into it.

The longer answer is contained in this quote - "This means that algae could theoretically produce up to 10,000 gallons of oil per acre per year." That works out to be 238 barrels of oil per acre per year.  The US consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day and worldwide consumption is about 85 million barrels of oil per day.  Do you have some land you want to donate?

20,000,000 barrels/238 barrels per acre  = 84,000 acres needed for a 1 day supply

84,000 * 365 = 31 million acres

plus a whole lot of water needed

plus a whole lot of centrifuges

and that only gives you 'vegetable oil' that still needs to be converted to biodiesel!

Yeah, that's a lot of land, a lot of water, and a lot of centrifuges but then setting the bar that high to replace all of the 20 million barrels of oil America uses a day is a tremendous hurdle, a very ambitious goal. But if we cut that amount in half or even a quarter it appears more attainable. Moreover, if this technology that is still in it's infancy improves it's efficiency, which is certainly feasible, we possibly could have a viable source of mass energy. Definitely worth pursuing further IMHO.

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Re: Algae scaling

earthwise wrote:
Moreover, if this technology that is still in it's infancy improves it's efficiency, which is certainly feasible, we possibly could have a viable source of mass energy.

The problem is that there is an absolute limit at least to things tied to solar energy on how much you can improve the technology.  The energy potential is limited to the amount of solar radiation (solar isolation) striking a given surface area.  This applies to PV, thermal solar solutions, and biological solutions like algae that are simply biological solar energy collectors. 

Math Lesson for Solar Energy Expectations

You can use PV watts (used to calculate PV output) to determine the solar isolation for your location.  If you set the settings to 2-axis tracking that will tell you the most you can collect if you aim directly at the sun.  This is probably not the case for things like algae tanks, for those you probably need to set the settings to fixed axis and 0 tilt.  You will find the answer under Solar Radiation on the results page.  It doesn't matter what the other settings for PV size or derate factor are set to as they don't figure into the solar radiation calculation.

Here in Albuquerque the upper limit (2 axis tracking) is 8.91 kWh/m2/day.  For a flat solution at 0 tilt (a flat surface) it's 5.59 kWh/m2/day. 

With these values you can calculate how many barrels of oil at 100% conversion you could get with any given surface area. (of course these are averages/day accounting for average cloud cover).

So if we look up the energy in a barrel of oil (BOE), we find it's 1.7 MWh  or 1,700 kWh (for better oil since energy content varies). With this we can then convert the solar isolation to BOE equivalent (we'll change it to years instead of days to get a better feel):

8.91 kWh/m2/day * 365 days / 1,700 kWh/BOE = 1.913 BOE/m2/year

1.913 BOE/m2/year * 4,047 m2/acre = 7,742 BOE/acre/year

So 7,741 barrels of oil/acre in a year is the best you can expect to do here in sunny Albuquerque.  That's at 100% conversion (never going to happen).  For example PV is about 15% efficient, thermal solar can reach about 50% in real life situations.  But this value gives you an upper limit, then you simply multiply it by your efficiency (collection and any transition process (ie. oil to bio-diesel)) to determine what you can expect to achieve.

So let's say you get 50% efficiency for the algae solution growing in a flat area, to replace the oil need in the US:

5.59 kWh/m2/day * 365 days / 1,700 kWh/BOE = 1.200 BOE/m2/year

1,200 BOE/m2/year * 4,047 m2/acre = 4,856 BOE/acre/year

20,000,000 b/day * 365 days/yr  / (4,856 BOE/acre * 50% efficiency)  = 3,006,589 acres (4,697 sq. miles - about the size of Connecticut)

That's a high efficiency rate and no extra room for things like roads, etc to work on the equipment.  So I would say you would have to at least double that and in a very very sunny area and is only replacing our use of oil.  So let's say we want to use a solar solution for all our energy needs.

The US uses about 29 PWh/year.  So at 50% efficiency, we need:

29,000,000,000,000 / (5.59 kWh/m2/day * 365 days * 50% * 4,047 m2/acre)  =  7,024,090 (10,975 sq. miles - about the size of Maryland, probably more like WV when you double the size for support areas).

While I was looking to put an equivalent work required, I found this article, which seems to validate the above calculations.  The interesting thing is the article says the area is about 1/2 the size of all roads in the US.  This gives us a good visual of the amount of work/resources/time it would take to build a solution.  How many years would it take to rebuild all roads (including all city streets) in the US?

But these are all theoretical calculations. We can look at a real world example,  the Ivanpah solar plant.  It's estimated to be about 238 MWh/acre-year.  At that efficiency (12%) and area, it would take 190,388 sq miles to meet the US energy demand.  That's larger than the state of California!

Sorry for the long-winded comment, but it's important for people to understand just how much energy we consume.  Whenever I hear someone suggest we can just put up more solar, algae or any of the energy du-jour solutions I cringe. 

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

NO!

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

JeffB wrote:

Bogdan wrote:

Hi,

What  about those diesel producing bacteria, that we heard about a few weeks ago? Can they reduce the effects of Peal Oil?

Thanks,

Bogdan.

Is this what you are talking about?  http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/sns-auto-oil-from-algae-makes-fuel,0,1419272.story

The short answer is no, it will have as much affect on peak oil as you have on raising ocean levels by spitting into it.

The longer answer is contained in this quote - "This means that algae could theoretically produce up to 10,000 gallons of oil per acre per year." That works out to be 238 barrels of oil per acre per year.  The US consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day and worldwide consumption is about 85 million barrels of oil per day.  Do you have some land you want to donate?

This is what I had in mind:

http://www.fastcompany.com/1688921/joule-biotechnologies-patents-fuel-generating-bacteria

http://www.xconomy.com/boston/2010/09/14/joule-gets-biofuel-bacteria-patent/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/earth/14fuel.html

"Joule imagines that its fuels could act as a large-scale fossil fuel replacement, selling for as low as $30 a barrel."

Bogdan.

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

I was listening to an interview with a chemical engineer from Cal Tech who is in charge of an energy program at that institution.  Leaving aside for the moment the fact that I don't remember his name or the precise name of the program, he posited that in order for us to meet Obama's expressed goal of reaching 80% "clean energy" by 2035, we will have to rely on a 3 legged stool.  One, "clean" coal.  He recognized that this concept is highly iffy, but assumed for purposes of the discussion that it is possible.  Second, nuclear power.  He recognized the problems with waste and again assumed it can be dealt with.  Third, solar.  He assumed the problems with scale of this leg can be overcome.

Accepting that all of these problems can be engineered away, he then discussed scale.  The balance between the three legs would have to be adjusted based on the innumerable variables along the way.  But, to get an idea, we're talking hundreds of new nuke plants, solar panels on every roof in America and vast quantities of carbon that would have to be sequestered from "clean" coal that would be emitted from hundreds of new coal fired power plants that will have to be built.

He then noted another leg that will affect all the above.  That is conservation.  He suggested that it might be feasible to conserve up to 50% of the energy now used, which would, of course, reduce the need for all the above.  He did not discuss the inevitable increases in demand.

And, of course, he did not address how the transportation sector could replace oil on a massive scale.  Maybe that's the 20% not covered by the above.

Nonetheless, he hypothesized that it is technically feasible to meet the goal, but implied that to do so will require massive amounts of work, innovation and engineering that need to be started now.  There can be no hesitation.  It will have to be an all out effort.  My impression of what he was saying is that we will have to reorganize our society on a scale comparable to what we did to gear up for WWII overnight. 

Does anyone think that is doable?

Doug

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SagerXX
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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

Doug wrote:

My impression of what he was saying is that we will have to reorganize our society on a scale comparable to what we did to gear up for WWII overnight. 

Does anyone think that is doable?

It's "doable".  But will it be done?

Until I start hearing the MSM, the gov and business say things other than "Green shoots" or "It's improving, if slowly" or "There is no inflation" -- there's no way it will be done.  All effort is currently invested in propping up the way we've done things for the last 50-ish years.  

The time for our denial phase is over.  I reckon the time alloted for anger & bargaining is gone, too.  But we're nowhere near acceptance, much less action.  I think the goose is cooked.  

I'd be happy to be wrong.

Viva -- Sager

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

Doug,

I say no. It seems that our government "leadership" is perfectly happy with pursuing an agenda to prop up the current system. Hesitation seems to be the name of the game.

I agree with you that the transportation sector is, I feel, going to be impossible to change with any expediency, if much at all.

Where will the money come from for all these initiatives? What will be the cost of them going forward. I believe the monetary issues and debt problems of this country will preclude any meaningful progress on these fronts going forward. Hell, we can't fix potholes or bridges. I just don't see how we can accomplish massive infrastructure project goals.

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

Doug wrote:
on a scale comparable to what we did to gear up for WWII overnight.

I don't believe we can do what we did during WWII.  There are several problems:

  1. We didn't gear up overnight - we had a 100+ years of infrastructure build up that we could retool quickly.
  2. Lack of energy - in WWII we had a internal supply of energy (domestic oil) , how would we get the energy to build the infrastructure?
  3. We have dismantled much of our manufacturing infrastructure.  Before WWII we were the largest manufacturing country, now we are not.  We would have to rebuild the manufacturing infrastructure first.
  4. Depleted natural resources.  We have depleted many of the natural resources we need to build the energy infrastructure.  Even if we still have resources available that we have not been willing to tap, we would have to rebuild and gear up all that infrastructure.

To build up the mining and manufacturing also takes lots of energy and we are back to lack of energy and would have to become even a larger consumer in the world.  I doubt other nations will let us use many more of their resources, depriving them of trying to do the same thing, and give them nothing in return so we can build our clean energy infrastructure.

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

Doug wrote:

Nonetheless, he hypothesized that it is technically feasible to meet the goal, but implied that to do so will require massive amounts of work, innovation and engineering that need to be started now.  There can be no hesitation.  It will have to be an all out effort.  My impression of what he was saying is that we will have to reorganize our society on a scale comparable to what we did to gear up for WWII overnight. 

Does anyone think that is doable?

Doug

Doug:

John Michael Greer over at the Archdruid Report has mentioned repeatedly that we had a chance back in the 1970s if we had started then - spurred by the oil shocks - but that it is too late now. China might be able to do a crash program if they had started 5 years ago, but they haven't started either.

Just look at today. How many grow many of their own vegetables in their kitchen gardens? How many use hayboxes or solar ovens? How many build with methods to conserve heating and cooling costs, such as with earth berm construction, etc? How many even have vertical wind power or solar power to supplement grid electricity? How many ride or walk or take public transportation compared to those who don't?

Poet

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Re: Algae scaling

rhare wrote:

... it's important for people to understand just how much energy we consume.  Whenever I hear someone suggest we can just put up more solar, algae or any of the energy du-jour solutions I cringe. 

While it is true that it's going to be painful and that it may very well be too late, it is more foolish to just resign ourselves to defeat, to not strive for this perhaps unreachable goal.

Part of what might make it possible is the grim fact that there will undoubtably be a massive die-off.  Couple this with the fact that our lowest hanging fruit is curbing inefficiencies, to just stop doing stupid things like using food stores to fuel hummers.  Our alternative energy hopes may not be enough, and there is nothing wrong with pointing out how far we have to go, but by god we cannot stop now.

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

Good points all.  It ain't going to happen as if we had half a brain among us and actually planned to do it.  But, as someone said, nothing succeeds as planned. 

I think Yoshhash and Chris have it about right.  Every step we take toward the ultimate goal of being independent of oil and fossil fuels in general and being prepared for whatever, will be a huge step.  We'll be that much closer and that much more resilient.

Doug

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

yoshhash wrote:
it is more foolish to just resign ourselves to defeat,

I'm not resigning ourselves to defeat, but instead pointing out the mathematical certainty that solar can not replace our current energy consumption from oil.  I think it is just as dangerous to have people beliving that any solution based on solar energy will solve our problems.  Too many times I've heard "If we just build a giant solar array in AZ, our problems would be solved".  Those beliefs are just as troubling as those who don't believe peak oil is real or that we have enough natural gas to power us for 200 years. Believing these solutions will simply be avilable when oil runs out is delusional.  We need to spead awareness of how big the problem is and promote realistic expectations about what the various technologies can provide.

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

rhare wrote:

yoshhash wrote:
it is more foolish to just resign ourselves to defeat,

I think it is just as dangerous to have people beliving that any solution based on solar energy will solve our problems.  Too many times I've heard "If we just build a giant solar array in AZ, our problems would be solved".  

I think you're both right, in a way.  Sure, we have to press forward to try to change/adapt.  And we also have to smack folks upside their figurative head such that they snap out of their delusion that all will carry on as before.  Solar/alt.fuels are going to be crucial to our future energy needs/use, but just as important will be getting through people's thick heads that they're going to have to use 75% less electricity/energy.  

Viva -- Sager

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Re: Daily Digest 2/3 - Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis, ...

Energy is just one of our problems. I would have thought anyone looking at this blog would understand that, even if one of our problems, climate change, is given less emphasis than the other problems that confront us.

In terms of energy, only an infinite energy supply, harnessable at infinite rates could potentially overcome all of our problems (as with enough energy, just about any "miracle" can be performed). But we don't, and never will, have ininite energy so we need to stop looking at this or that energy technology in isolation. Our predicament spans a whole host of issues and the only reasonable approach is to transition to sustainable living arrangments and behaviours. Whilst renewable energy is certainly part of that approach, I don't think it's helpful to look at renewable energy as a way of powering what we have now, because what we have now is not sustainable. We need to look at everything we do and how we organise our societies. I suspect that a truly sustainable society (or as near as damn it) would use a tiny amount of energy, compared to what we use now, and that might easily be provided by local solutions, wherever we end up living.

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