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    Why Was Texas So Vulnerable To The Recent Freeze?

    Greed & short-sightedness
    by Chris Martenson

    Friday, March 5, 2021, 8:00 PM

The point of being resilient is to be able to weather life’s storms, metaphorically and literally.

Yet the state of Texas recently failed at handling a few days of cold temperatures. Big time.

Poorly-insulated houses exploded, more or less, when their pipes burst and the resulting water flows easily brought down ceilings and walls:

burst pipes

This happened to so many homes that water pressure dropped below critical levels and entire communities suddenly lost their access to water.

So why was Texas so vulnerable?

Sure, the temperatures were far colder than the state normally experiences. But the real culprits here are the same ones that will sink our future in other areas: greed and short-sightedness.

By skimping on insulation a house can be made more cheaply. Hence the greed. By skimping on insulation, the future is sacrificed (because these homes will require massively more energy to heat and cool over their lifetimes). Hence the shortsightedness.

It’s really not all that hard or much more expensive to deeply insulate a home — say to “R40/R60”, meaning an R-rating of 40 in the walls and 60 in the ceilings. By doing this a few more dollars are spent up front, but then many multiples of those dollars are saved over time, which is to say nothing of the preservation of the future energy BTUs that won’t be wasted.

In many ways Texas’ experience with the cold snap is a huge object lesson in how the future is going to (continue to) unfold.

Common home construction practices reveal a profound disregard for the future. Wouldn’t a more mature culture somehow manage to build homes that can withstand a few days of cold temperatures? And if that were done, wouldn’t it also be true that those same homes would also be more efficiently cooled during the hot days, too?

The only reasons you might fail to insulate properly is because, well, you simply are operating under the false assumption that the future will be more or less exactly the same as the present. That the climate will remain stable and that sufficient energy will always be there to heat and cool our homes.

These are two very awful assumptions, each easily proven to be illogical and erroneous.

A Systematic Nightmare

One thing the Texas cold snap laid bare was just how unprepared its electrical and energy distribution systems were for this event.

Natural gas pipelines with too much water vapor in them froze solid cutting off gas supplies to electrical generating stations. The further loss of nearly all the wind generation and solar inputs further starved the system of needed juice. The entire system very nearly crashed, forcing the utilities to turn to rolling blackouts to compensate.

These, in turn, were (predictably) often executed in a manner that betrayed the poor and favored money:

Lit-Up Downtown Skylines Are Enraging Powerless Texans

Feb 17, 2021

As night fell over the state on Tuesday, local leaders urged residents to do their part to reduce strain on the grid, describing a dire situation that was only getting worse. Texans whose lights and heat were still on were asked to live as if they weren’t, and to set their thermostats even lower. That’s sound advice. We all need to do our part—those who’ve been collecting the water dripping out of their faucets to prevent a freeze may have noted how quickly drops accumulate in a bucket—but individual effort didn’t get us into this crisis, and it’s not enough to get us out.

That brings us to the crux of the problem: While many Texans are suffering, it seems like the sacrifices are unevenly distributed. Indeed, Texans on social media have kept warm by burning the fuel of white-hot rage as photos circulated on Sunday and Monday nights of brightly lit city skylines. The illuminated parking garages and glowing, empty high-rises towering over cities were taken as a slap in the face by residents shivering in dark homes or dropping the thermostat another degree in order to save a marginal amount of energy.

Of course it’s a very difficult thing to figure out how to cut power to major cities because it often has to be done in giant contiguous areas, not building by building.

Any block with a hospital on it cannot have its power cut. The same is true for areas with other emergency services such as 911 call centers or the pump stations supplying water.

But even with that, the residents of Texas noted there was a striking disparity between wealthier neigborhoods and poorer ones:

Texas power outages during freeze

This is a ‘tell’ about how the future will unfold. It’s wrapped into the Great Reset narrative. It’s also how nearly all of history has unfolded. The elites seem to skate by with few real sacrifices while the majority of the burdens and pains are borne by the lower classes. Same as it ever was.

Another telling moment was in the shocking prices for electrical service that were billed out to customers.

Electricity, priced in an open and mostly deregulated market in Texas, shot from a few cents per kilowatt hour to $9,000.00 per kilowatt hour at the peak.

Some say this was the market working as intended. A moment of severe supply constraints forced prices to adjust higher, thereby causing consumers to self-ration. However, because the price spikes happened in real time and bills are sent out monthly, this ‘explanation’ isn’t really all that satisfactory. Sending some poor retiree a $16,000 monthly electricity bill two weeks after the event has no effect on supply/demand at the decision point when it might have mattered.

Instead, what we can take from this debacle is that when there’s a very rare event that comes along and disrupts things, the “free market” demands that those bills be paid because, after all, a deal’s a deal.

Ordinary folks will be paying off $50B in Texas freeze costs for decades

After days of freezing temperatures with no power, the lights are back on in Texas. Now, there are bills to pay.

The state’s energy grid didn’t come back all at once and the high demand sent costs from 12 cents to $9 per kilowatt-hour, reported The Associated Press (AP), which added up quickly. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Texas lawmakers are promising relief, and electric companies aren’t turning off power to those who aren’t able to cover their bills, reports the Texas Tribune, at least for now.

But someone will have to pay what BloombergNEF estimates is $50.6 billion in costs from the beginning of the Blackouts until Friday morning. CPS Energy, which serves San Antonio, is among those withholding storm charges for now, saying online that they are trying to spread the costs over 10 years or longer. Either way, however, the customers will likely foot the bill.

Anybody with a memory knows that a deal is only a deal when the bill foots to the average person…but when the rich get caught in a squeeze they demand “do overs”. And they get them.

Remember the “Flash Crash” of 2010?

Chart of May 2010 Flash Crash

That happened in ‘a market’ where ‘a deal is a deal.’ I knew people who made, for a brief period, a lot of money by being positioned for just such a crash. Why a brief period? Because that crash was going to cost a lot of well-connected brokerage houses a lot of money and so, predictably, the SEC stepped in and busted these losing trades. They imply undid them.

They enforced a “do-over” for those in power:

Regulators ended up cancelling trades in U.S.-listed securities that saw declines of 60% and worse during the five-minute meltdown. About 70% of the busted trades involved ETFs, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said in a joint report on the day’s chaos.

(Source – MW)

Rich people losing money? Oh well, then I guess we have to bust those trades. Hedge funds losing a lot of money on their GameStop naked shorts? Oh well, then I guess we just have to ask the Robinhood trading app to limit their clients activities to selling only.

Electricity prices spike many tens of thousands of percent due to ‘unforeseen’ circumstances that were entirely predictable after all?   Oh well, then I guess ordinary Texas citizens will still have to pay those bills.

That’s the pattern here. Head they win, tails you lose.

You know what I cannot find anywhere, except for one small article about a relatively small amount of the $50 billion Texas electricity price tag? Who’s on the other end of that $50 billion windfall. It’s a legit question…who’s getting all that money?

I understand ‘market forces’ and all that, but strip away the mumbo-jumbo and you’ll quickly deduce that, in terms of capital utilization, the exact same power plants and service lines were in use during the days of the cold snap as in the days before it. No new infrastructure was built. No capital expended. Costs simply shot up.

So if one set of parties is out $50 billion, who’s got it? Where did it go? To whom?

This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer, although it really shouldn’t be.

Here’s that one, relatively insignificant article that allows us to track a few hundred million of the cash flows:

Texas energy woes are windfall for Australian bank

The deep freeze that plunged millions of Texans into darkness is rippling through energy markets in unexpected ways, producing a financial windfall for an Australian bank and severe pain for other companies caught up in the disruption.

The turbulence led to a bonanza for commodity traders at Australia’s Macquarie Group Ltd., whose ability to funnel gas and electricity around the country enabled them to capitalize on soaring demand and prices in states such as Texas.

The bank bumped up its guidance Monday for earnings in the year through March to reflect the windfall. It said that net profit after tax would be 5% to 10% higher than in the 2020 fiscal year. That equates to an increase of up to 273.1 million Australian dollars, equivalent to around $215 million. In its previous guidance, issued Feb. 9, Macquarie said it expected profits to be slightly down on 2020.

Oh good. A bank. A foreign bank.

That should help ease the pain of ordinary Texans as they confront budget-busting electricity bills. Commodity traders win, ordinary people lose. Same as it ever was, especially in a financialized economy without a heart.

Again, this is a metaphor for what we can expect going forward. Heads they win, tails you lose. The rules is simple – if a windfall is headed in the correct direction (towards power and money) it will be allowed to stand. If it heads in the wrong direction, the trades will be broken, the rules will be changed, and if it’s serious enough, there will be instant lawsuits and Congressional hearings, as we saw around the GameStop debacle.

The Most Expensive Disaster in Texas History?

We might want to ask ourselves too, about the larger lesson here. How is it that a simply cold snap – albeit historically rare – could well prove to be the costliest disaster in a state that is no stranger to disasters?

Winter storm could cost Texas more money than any disaster in state history

Feb 25, 2021

The winter storm that left dozens of Texans dead, millions without power and nearly 15 million with water issues could be the costliest disaster in state history, potentially exceeding the $125 billion in damage from Hurricane Harvey.

The deadly 2017 hurricane devastated the Gulf Coast region. Last week’s winter storm impacted every region of the state, a reason why experts and officials are discussing the possibility of damage and cost exceeding those from Hurricane Harvey.

“All 254 counties will have been impacted in some way by the freeze,” said Lee Loftis, director of government affairs for the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas. “That is just unheard of.”

We now live in a world of what I now term ‘climate instability.’ The remarkable – and geologically rare – climate stability of the Holocene granted humans the ability to really settle down and organize.

Climate instability makes it difficult to do things like farm and build up civilizations in any one spot. The cold snap in Texas destroyed a lot of crops. Droughts, floods, heatwaves and cold snaps are all agriculturally limiting events. Pack enough of them together and you suddenly have a real predicament on your hands.

Are we leaving a period of awesome climate stability and heading into a period of climate instability? Sure seems like it.

The more immediate lesson here is that even a relatively small amount of climate instability – such as what Texas experienced when the jet stream got wobbly and allowed a blob of cold air to escape its fencing embrace – can be enormously expensive to an unprepared civilization.

Texas was unprepared, just as we are all largely unprepared for a future of extremes. We can measure that in costs, in dollars, but really we should be thinking of it in terms of the energy costs required to rebuild and reshape our entire built infrastructure to be both more energy frugal and resilient to whatever extremes are coming next.

That’s the main lesson from Texas that ought to be front and center in people’s minds; the fragility of it all. The obvious lack of readiness on display. Maybe too elevating the reasonable concern that we’re going to face more and more of these sorts of events as greed and short-sightedness prove to be a poor match for the future we’ve created for ourselves.

Conclusion

I think we should really sit back and reflect on Texas and what it tells us about our current state of readiness and what the future might hold.

The obvious conclusion is that Texas was not ready and was not resilient. At least not at the systems level. Not as a political culture either.

This means that individuals and communities in Texas (and elsewhere) really ought to apply their efforts towards becoming more resilient on their own terms.

Distributed energy systems can be created, houses can be more deeply insulated, and networks of neighbors can help each other during such periods of stress.

One example: as a homeowner in the northeast I know how to shut off my water and drain pipes, which I would do defensively and proactively during a sustained power outage and cold snap. Doesn’t take all that long.

But you have to know how to do it, and even that it has to be done.

Because if you don’t…

Texas storm damage to ceiling

That cultural awareness and skill set wasn’t part of the Texas DNA, which only makes sense given the rarity of the event. But it was certainly there in some of the people, in some old-timers I bet. The resilience skill set was out there and with appropriate social capital in play, it could have been brought to use and been tremendously helpful.

The larger lesson here is that your skill sets really will make all the difference in a world of rapid changes and increasingly large,potentially chaotic, events.

I’d love to hear from our many Texas readers about their own experiences during the recent freeze. I’ve talked with several of you by phone, and your stories are really important for others to hear.

So if you feel like sharing them, please do in the Comments section below.

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52 Comments

  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 4:09am

    #1
    brushhog

    brushhog

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Oct 06 2015

    Posts: 367

    18

    It didnt have to be this way!

    ....and welcome back, buddy.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 6:08am

    #2

    Oliveoilguy

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Jun 29 2012

    Posts: 1040

    27

    How a Texan weathered the storm.

    We had not had 6 degree temps here in 70 years, so this was unprecedented. The first night rolling blackouts took out electric heaters (many need a manual reset after a power outage). We had faucets dripping but  3 out of 4 of our ranch pumps went out. One submersible pump installed in 1996 cratered from old age/combined with power surges. (The pump which was set at 400’ actually broke off the bottom joint of sch 80 pipe and fell to the bottom of the hole.) At 2:30 am....dressed like a Russian peasant in an ushanka and insulated car hart jeans I secured the well house and got 2 jet pumps working.    (often the first pipe to freeze is the 1/4”  small pipe to the pressure switch). We had shut off and drained our Water line that went 1/2 mile to our big garden and troughs we have for deer and wildlife, so that was not in play. One of my greatest concerns was the greenhouse with about 1000 transplants in various stages. It has propane heat, but needs power to run the fan and igniter. It turned out that the one hour blackouts were easily handled by our well insulated greenhouse and it stayed at a nice 60 degrees by kicking on whenever the power came back. Our house was the same....propane heat and good insulation....were were fine without constant power. One thing that I did rig up was a 250’ run of 10-2 with ground Romex from my solar backup battery bank down to the well house.... this allowed water pumps to run regardless of blackouts and kept water to the horses and the greenhouse. So bottom line, on a personal level we were fine.
    Now for our community.....I would give our town very high marks. Once the freeze was over anyone with plumbing skills and parts started helping neighbors. 90% of the work was free ...donated... neighbor helping neighbor. I personally help 3 families get their water systems going.  One was frozen pipes that I was able to thaw with a propane torch. Another was an older lady whose old pump had just split in 2. I fortunately had a 1/2 hp. Spare new pump that I put in for her and replumbed her whole  pump house. She is very grateful... ( and by the way Paulette is an amazing author....her recent book “News of the World” is now a movie with Tom Hanks) Our fire station became a drop off point for donated  pvc pipe and fittings ....our firemen actually became plumbers and joined in the process of fixing damaged pipes for the elderly. The town response could not have been better.
    And finally on the level of our electric coop.......We belong to a small regional coop. They anticipated and bought backup power ahead of time...It’s still not clear how all the statewide billing is going to shake out, but our coop president posted that coop members will not have any power surcharges added to our bill.
    Our story is a good one starting from personal prep to local kindness and charity to a well run rural electric coop......The story in other parts of Texas is obviously not so good.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 6:10am

    #3
    Charles Rothermel

    Charles Rothermel

    Status: Member

    Joined: Oct 23 2020

    Posts: 5

    10

    Live in DFW

    I live in the Dallas area and you are correct not once did I hear anything about draining pipes, only to run water through them.I lost power for the

    better part of the 3 coldest days. My son, daughter in law and their 1 and 3 year olds came to our house on the expected coldest night-2. Because their power had been off continuously for the previous  2 days, none of the promised rolling black outs.our power went off at 8:00 and didn’t come come back on until noon the next day in 0 degree weather. When we awoke that morning, the one year olds lips and hands were turning blue. I told the family we had to leave and find warmth. Fortunately my daughter’s house never lost power so with icy roads and no traffic lights working we drove to her house for 3 days.

    Although we had power there,, that day panic set in about water.Through social media, rumors started flying all over the internet that we were about to lose water. Households all started filling bath tubs full of water  before it was turned off. There was a sense in many houses that we were on our own, the system was failing and government couldn’t be depended on. The grocery stores  were out of food, no bread eggs water meat and gas stations  were low on fuel because the roads were impassable To be expected many families were running out of food. I was disappointed  that I had not bought a generator because I knew this was a possibility.I was much better prepared then most but not where I need to be.
    Now the blame game has started leaders blaming each other. The Director of ERCOT just resigned, he made $800,000 a year.It’s just a fact that we can longer count on government to

    take care of us, we are on our own .Lastly Texas has grown too fast and infrastructure has not kept up with our growth. And misguided arrogance that we are better then everyone else doesn’t allow us to be part of a national grid of power. So disappointing but not surprising it happened and it will happen again. I could say much more but you get the idea.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 6:29am

    #4
    EddieLarry

    EddieLarry

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Jul 04 2020

    Posts: 146

    4

    We are all commodities traders...

    Even when we make mistakes.  Our educational system has long failed to teach practical tools for surviving difficult times.  Being raised to ignore natural disasters is a bet (trade) they won’t happen.  Well, sad to say, they do.
    “Make hay when the Sun shines.”

    Thanks Chris for teaching and reminding us about resilience!

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 6:35am

    Judy

    Judy

    Status: Member

    Joined: Mar 12 2008

    Posts: 7

    2

    Judy said:

    this is a wonderful story...Thanks so much for taking the time for a full description.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 6:42am

    #6
    LBL

    LBL

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 11 2020

    Posts: 201

    2

    LBL said:

    Texas is vulnerable because ...

    *  they don't listen to their (true) scientists.

    *  they ignore the details of Climate Change.  If they listened, they would have more Storage.

    *  the choice to isolate with the single Texas energy market.

     

    Maybe they should learn to store their methane instead of flaring it off.

     

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 6:46am

    #7
    David Hunter

    David Hunter

    Status: Member

    Joined: Apr 21 2020

    Posts: 2

    3

    Price gouging

    I have always found the concepts of "price gouging" (a crime) and the "supply/demand principle of free markets" to be a conundrum.   If I were to have traveled to Texas with generators, five gallon cans of gas and bottles of propane and charged double the normal price here is what would have happened.  1) people would have gladly paid the price I asked (supply/demand within reason given the need and my costs);  2)  People would have not been blind-sided by the costs;  3) I would have been arrested for criminal activity.  Meanwhile the powers that be, mentioned above, changed the prices from $00.12 to $9.00.  Oh, by the way, the folks being gouged were not aware of the price (buried in the fine print) as the were trying to salvage their homes by using heat.  Unbelievable.  And I found this on Texas gouging laws at patriotsoftware.com:  (my comments in parentheses)

    Here’s a look at Texas’ laws against price gouging:

    • What is considered price gouging: Exorbitant or excessive price (no question there)
    • When price gouging laws apply: After a disaster declaration (hmmm, not sure if it was declared)
    • Products or services the law applies to: Necessities (electricity for heat is a necessity if you don't have a wood stove or fireplace)
    • Lookback period for price comparisons: Before the declaration (again 12 cents per Kilowatt hour VS $9.00)
    • Penalty: Up to $10,000 per violation, plus $250,000 if the consumer is elderly
    • Texas' population is 29 million, whole state effected, they have some old folks in Texas...you do the math if you think the above criteria fit the description of price gouging.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 7:20am

    #8

    LesPhelps

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 678

    4

    Professor Valentina Zharkova predicted this in 2019

    Check out her prediction of a Grand Solar Minimum, that she says will be with us through 2050.

    https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/our-staff/z/professor-valentina-zharkova/

    The climate change crowd was not impressed with her prediction.  Her reply was something like this.  Your predictions will take decades, at best, to confirm.  We will know if I’m right in a year or two.

    NASA is now seeing her sun spot predictions happening.

     

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 7:57am

    #9
    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: May 17 2017

    Posts: 1432

    1

    enron deja vu all over again

    an australian bank? really? a fucking australian bank?

    "burn granny burn"

    "freeze granny freeze"

    at least with enron some perps went to jail.

    probably not this time

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 8:21am

    #10
    cindyb

    cindyb

    Status: Member

    Joined: Mar 21 2010

    Posts: 48

    8

    Into the Maw

    Unbelievably I closed on my house in Texas on February 12. I did so remotely as I am still in Maine. The idea was to have a small place in Texas near family to escape during winter. The joke's on me.

    I've made no secret of the fact that this native Texan is embarrassed by her home state. Hell, the politicians alone regularly make world news let alone national. But I thought surely I can suck it up for a few months a year to be closer to family. (I'm 70, single and childless)

    Back in the late 90s I was part of a group that ran disaster scenarios with an eye to computer failures. (I was a software consultant). We accurately predicted the Katrina scenario. Never did we predict Hurricane Harvey or the latest episode of Snowmageddon starring Texas. See that's the thing. It's the unimaginable that will trip us up every time. Who had COVID on their bingo card?

    The lesson I'm taking from this is COMMUNITY. You cannot go it alone. Small is better. That little local electric co-op that Oliveoilguy spoke of managed much better. (My new home is serviced by a co-op.) That and I am just as likely to freeze to death in Texas as I am in Maine. I'll take that back. We are far more prepared for such here in Maine. And it's a lot prettier here.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 8:30am

    #11
    ziolekjj@yahoo.com

    [email protected]

    Status: Member

    Joined: Mar 21 2020

    Posts: 1

    5

    Water heaters in attic

    I lived in the Alabama for 12 years.

    One thing I noticed about many homes in the South was the tendency to place water heaters and water pipes in attics.  This saves floor space on single story homes.

    This design results in increased damage from freezing weather.  Ceilings, walls, and floors are damaged whereas "only" floors and  parts of walls would be damaged with ground floor installations.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 8:51am

    #12
    2retired

    2retired

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Jul 20 2020

    Posts: 156

    3

    2retired said:

    Stories of resilience, or not. 100 year events happen on average every, well, 100 years. On Jan 9 1880 Seattle got 5 ft of snow.  In the northwest most people say we don't get hurricanes, except we do. Old stories of debris fields 60 ft deep were believable after our storm 2 years ago, (our debris fields were only 12ft deep), our storm surge marked by shell deposits and logs. Our community opened the roads and checked on those in need;.... social capital

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 9:11am

    #13
    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: May 17 2017

    Posts: 1432

    12

    construction

    i have been in construction for almost 50 years.

    people need to remember "code is minimum" rinse and repeat ad infinitum

    home builders  are in business to make a profit. tract homes which many live in are built to "code" mostly. some more than others. to make a profit in a competitive market means every penny saved is a penny "earned" . most will not want to hear this but the consumer is just as responsible for poorly insulated, constructed homes as the builder and maybe more so.

    you get what you pay for. we live in a walmart society "lowest prices always."  if consumers are willing to pay more for quality they will get quality.

    when matthew hit the gulf coast at mexico beach it wiped everything away. everything it wiped away was built to "code" one guy who built his house built it better than code. it did not get wiped away. it suffered no damage.

    one big lesson for texans (and hopefully others) is "normalcy bias will get your ass killed"

    as stated it does not cost much more to add more insulation but for a home builder building hundreds of homes a year in subdivisions "code " is good enough. you know when changes come to "code" ? when failures occur. it is an empirical process.

    drive around amerika and look at what the amerikaan dream looks like. the same roof lines, the same color shingles, the same brick, every thing is the same. it's a not too glowing tribute to amerikaan ingenuity.

    on the one hand amerikaans can become better informed consumers of the biggest investment they are likely to ever make, but at the same time money is harder to come by. every penny counts and no one (well almost no one) plans for a once in 100 year possibility.

    here is a little scenario. when i first started building in my area the only framing lumber you could find was douglas fir. it is an excellent framing material. as the area started to boom it attracted builders from elsewhere who used spf. spf is cheaper. i wouldn't build a dog house with it. it is not nearly as strong and does not hold nails well. now douglas fir is a special order.  in 50 years the quality of lumber has deteriorated dramatically to the point where span tables need to be updated periodically. i tore down a double wide trailer that was 50 years old. the studs in it were #2 douglas fir. they would now be considered select.

    with the materials available today it is still possible to build houses that will last 500 years or more. but until the consumer is willing to pay for it, they will get houses that have 50-100 year lifespans that ironically will cost far more in the long run

    welcome to walmart nation. "lower prices everyday"

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 9:13am

    #14
    Netlej

    Netlej

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Dec 09 2020

    Posts: 108

    0

    freezer door

    For [email protected]#8

    Picture an upright freezer then open the door to it and stand right in front of it ... barefoot. Within a minute or less you will feel the cold on your feet, soon your toes will get very cold and soon you will not be comfortable standing there and will move.

    While all of this is happening the mint chocolate chip ice cream* on the top shelf will start melting. This is why most freezers are chest freezers.

    This is what is happening with the North pole which has been explained 100 times over the last several years. During the Tex Freeze it was 20 degrees warmer that normal in parts of the Arctic. It was warmer in Greenland, Alaska, Norway and Sweden than in Texas and Oklahoma. Sun spots had nothing to do with it.

    *Any flavor of ice cream will do.

    CheersChris!

    jef

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 9:26am

    Pipyman

    Pipyman

    Status: Member

    Joined: Apr 24 2011

    Posts: 146

    3

    Who had COVID on their bingo card?

    Alex Jones and David Ike

    just sayin....

     

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 9:45am

    #16
    adiawyhm

    adiawyhm

    Status: Member

    Joined: Dec 19 2017

    Posts: 1

    5

    adiawyhm said:

    We are in the coastal county of Brazoria. Power was cut off for almost 3 consecutive days during the coldest part when temps sank into the teens and temp inside the house almost sank to the 30's (we had no generator). When the garage became colder then the fridge, we moved all the refrigerated food there, and avoided opening the freezers to try to keep that food frozen. That worked out fine. Our internet & cell service was cut off half way into that time period, I don't know whether 911 would have worked. Rolling power started after that, with outage intervals 2-3 times as long as powered intervals. We didn't lose water because our rural subdivisions have their own water supply with backup power that kept it going. We prevented burst pipes by continuous dripping and then running faucets full blast for a few minutes every couple of hours to flush out any ice forming in the pipes, will be "interesting" to see the next water bill. We are on fixed-rate electric contract so our bill was actually a little lower due to power outage. People on variable-rate contracts got screwed. People with smaller electric companies also got screwed because their companies folded, leaving them on the highest possible variable rate with the default provider, and unable to get on another contract because the rest of the companies would not take new customers. So going with a little higher fixed rate with a larger company appears to have saved our a$$ in that department, unless there is some kind of surcharge my electric company is allowed tack on to the next bill.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 9:48am

    #17
    Roscoe Jr

    Roscoe Jr

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    Joined: Dec 16 2020

    Posts: 1

    2

    The Feds should own this disaster and work down their QE with it.

    What your writeup claimed is that some commodity traders at an Australian bank will now report reasonable financial performance because they received less than half a percent of the $50 billion windfall.  Not a significant rant - except that it is suggested that commodity traders may be the main benefactors.   And quite possibly that stateside commodity traders from the big-name banks may be the prime benefactors.  As such, it is a rare opportunity for the Federal Reserve to take back some of this QE money that the banks are supposed to be, but not, lending out.  Basically, the Fed can make this their windfall and wind down a little bit of their, as you say: "money printing".  This action as the Fed's response to the belligerent banks not playing the Fed's game.

    As a lower-middle-class Texan with a gig-worker career, the cold weather was brutal but didn't affect me, outside of getting nothing done.  To keep my property taxes at rock bottom, I have learned to survive over 30 yrs in a shell house without the typical amenities, consuming 35-40 kwh of electricity per week.  So other Texans will be paying for this disaster.  At this particular point in time, the condition of my house is not much different than any other Texan's house.  If they're smart, they will not try to fight nature and leave their abodes like they are now, outside of cleaning up their mess.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 10:06am

    VTGothic

    VTGothic

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    Joined: Jan 05 2020

    Posts: 560

    6

    That makes no sense to me

    @Netlej,

    Cold air falls, warm air rises, hence the freezer phenomenon.

    But Texas is not lower down than the North Pole. The jet stream did not fall down the stairs from the Arctic Circle to the Gulf Coast.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 10:17am

    #19
    Hans

    Hans

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    Joined: Aug 09 2017

    Posts: 106

    1

    Hans said:

    Taking advantage of other's people suffering...

    Those people are not human.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 10:19am

    #20

    000

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Dec 10 2013

    Posts: 359

    0

    Texas Power

    This is a private affair of Texan choosing. citizens of other regulated states should not pay for any of the private choices that have led to this outcome. Texans, get ready or get out to the pinies. Unfortunately, folks in the pinies are well armed and ready to defend against west Texan intruders.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 11:07am

    #21

    thc0655

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: Apr 27 2010

    Posts: 2394

    14

    Texas reality intruding on our dreams and nightmares

    The EMP Commission estimated that an effective EMP that struck most or all of the US would lead to the death of 90% of the US population within 12 months. I think that might be a little optimistic. Surviving a nationwide EMP is a tough nut to crack. I am not confident of anything about that scenario, except that we’d be among the last to die. I’m still working on improving those odds, but I think I would need to accomplish a return to 19th century living (like Robie) or ally with someone who has or could transition quickly.

    And what do our national, local and individual energy choices say about our chances of achieving our future energy dreams? Nothing positive, I’d say.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 11:44am

    Netlej

    Netlej

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    Why even try?

    vt - Are you really that clueless as to how the polar vortex works? Granted it is not a perfect metaphor but what is your brilliant theory about why the arctic has been warming 10 times faster than the rest of the world and why we have had rain at the north pole while it snows in the carolinas? My point was that the cold air is no longer being held up in the north, it is "spilling" down toward the equator more. Also cold air flows to hot. Can't believe I need to say that but apparently I do.

    Look none of this is rocket science and in fact is well established basic science. Why would anyone even question it? Just like to stir it up I guess.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 12:38pm

    shastatodd

    Status: Member

    Joined: Oct 16 2010

    Posts: 60

    1

    grand solar minimum nonsense

    "Check out her prediction of a Grand Solar Minimum, that she says will be with us through 2050."

    the last solar minimum (maunder minimum) in the 1600's caused an estimated -.4c change... which in light of our current, +2c increase is insignificant.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 1:04pm

    #24

    Waterdog14

    Status: Member

    Joined: Jan 18 2014

    Posts: 143

    6

    Grand Solar Minimum

    I was skeptical of the modern Grand Solar Minimum until I saw a chart from C&S Grain Market Consulting, comparing Solar Cycles SC3-4-5 with SC22-23-24.  Big Ag is paying attention to the modern Grand Solar Minimum.

    IF SC25 traces SC6, the modern Grand Solar Minimum will mimic Europe's "Little Ice Age" that occurred from 1645 AD to 1710 AD (the Maunder minimum).  SC25 ends in 2053.  Then the solar magnetic field and activity could increase (and all hell could break loose for global temperatures).

    https://renewablefarming.com/index.php/more-evidence-for-cooler-growing-seasons-during-2019-25-and-2030-36

    I also plotted Degree Growing Days (DGD) for my small farm for 2016 through 2019 and saw fewer "heat units" for crop growth in 2019.  Of course, one data point means little or nothing.  But I'm paying attention to my local "microclimate" and the greater solar cycles.  Don't jump to conclusions.  Eyes wide open.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 1:36pm

    #25

    CleanEnergyFan

    Status: Member

    Joined: Jan 29 2012

    Posts: 126

    12

    We are fine here in Houston but did learn some lessons

    We live south west of Houston on some acreage property. Like most of Texas we lost our power for about two days. That wasn’t too big a deal for us as we had an emergency generator which worked just fine to provide basic needs for the house for fridge, lights and entertainment/internet. Our bigger problem was the loss of water from our well pump. There were no maintenance people available due to all the other repair needs in the state but fortunately I had sufficient electrical testing tools to identify that the problem was electrical and I needed to replace the motor control box.  Those boxes were sold out everywhere but was able to find one from our well pump contractor who had one in stock (but they had no technician available to install it) so I picked it up and installed it myself. Meanwhile we had used our pool water to replenish toilets and for bath water. We are on propane so heating the house (which is extremely well insulated) wasn’t a problem so long as we had power from gen to run furnace fans. Some of my favorite outdoor plants (especially a giant cactus I loved) didn’t survive but all in all we got out relatively unscathed. Nevertheless I learned a few lessons for better future prep:

    1. Have backup spare parts for essential utility services.  I have already ordered another well pump control box.

    2. Have a backup water source.  We are fortunate to have a backyard swimming pool which is a great water storage feature but need a better way to connect it directly to the house so it can be pumped throughout the house and through water heaters and filters etc. I will be hardpiping from our swimming pool pump discharge through to our well pump discharge pipe to make this on the fly conversion but an even easier makeshift way (which I learned from talking to my well guy) is to simply attach a garden hose to the hose bib on the pool pump discharge and connect it to a house faucet tap to pressurize the house (although this would bypass the well filtration system so not as ideal as the permanent hard pipe method above).
    3.  Have more drinking water stored up.  We had plenty of pool water which could be used for drinking but we did not have sufficient quantity of bottled water for sustained water outages.  The local stores were out of water very quickly so glad we didn’t need to depend on that.  I have now started filling our 1 gall plastic green tea containers and am now storing 20 gal of drinking water (added six drops of chlorine per gal since I was storing our well water with minerals for long term storage).
    4. Food storage.  We were fine there as we Already had good deep pantry storage but seeing how quickly the store shelves got depleted with panic buying reiterated the importance of not having to rely on grocery stores for at least a week or two as a great many people are NOT prepared in this area.  Same is true of gasoline which was very hard to come by during the initial week of the freeze (somewhat similar to what we see when a hurricane hits).
    5  Have a backup power source.  We had a 8KW gasoline/propane dual fuel generator which worked great (but it is not connected to propane currently so it’s gasoline only).    https://www.amazon.com/Champion-Power-Equipment-100891-7500-Watt-dp-B08HG9VVRZ/dp/B08HG9VVRZ/ref=dp_ob_title_garden I had previously had an electrician wire in a 220v dryer plug in our garage so I could plug our generator directly into our home breaker box (after I had opened the incoming utility supply so as not to back feed the grid if the power came back on)   That setup worked great and allowed this generator to power our entire house (although we had nonessential items like dryers turned off)   I plan to get a second generator that will run off our propane system exclusively so I don’t need to rely on gasoline as much ( and power is so critical that having two backups seems appropriate).  I also have some relatively small 100-200 watt foldable PV and a lithium battery supply that Chris has recommended before:

    (which was very useful for short term 120v power needs) as additional backup but that wasn’t needed other than for short term power and lights until I got the gen running and is mostly for emergency communication needs

    6  Know your neighbors.   As others have mentioned it’s during times of crisis that having good neighbors is especially important   We are fortunate there as we have several  neighbors who are willing to help out and vice versa.   Our neighborhood fared quite well as for the most part they were all reasonably well prepared so not a lot needed to be done  .

     

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 1:37pm

    coh

    coh

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    Joined: Dec 16 2020

    Posts: 65

    5

    Cold air/jet stream etc

    The term "held up" is a rather simplistic but in some ways accurate description.

    The best description I've heard that explains the growing tendency for extreme winter weather in the midlatitudes is the weakening of the jet stream. The jet stream is primarily a function of the temperature gradient between the tropics and the north pole - generally when the temperature gradient is large the jet stream is stronger. A stronger jet stream can be considered "stable" in the sense that it is more difficult to perturb than a weak jet stream. All that momentum tends to just keep going. Think of a spinning top, when it is going fast it is very stable but as it slows down it starts to wobble.

    Now climate change comes along and what is happening - the polar regions are warming much faster that the equatorial regions. This is decreasing the temperature gradient and thus weakening the jet stream. Since a weaker jet stream is more easily perturbed, it's easier to get large displacements.  This tends to lead to highly amplified patterns (troughs, ridges) that can become "stuck" in place. This is what happened this winter, leading to the extreme cold event in Texas.

    People often ask how we can get such cold events when the overall atmosphere (especially the polar regions) is warming. But even if the polar regions are say 10 deg warmer than "normal", that air is still very cold compared to what you would normally see in midlatitudes, and if it is displaced far south it can result in an extreme event.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 2:20pm

    #27

    CleanEnergyFan

    Status: Member

    Joined: Jan 29 2012

    Posts: 126

    7

    Texas Power Market

    In my above post I neglected to talk about the Texans power grid. My previous background was in the power generation industry so I’m quite familiar with ERCOT and the Texas power market and grid.  I actually like and favor Texas Deregulated market approach but electrical markets are very complicated due to non-storage and “just in time” generation required which with Texas recent adoption of intermittent renewable generation (mostly wind) which utilities are required to buy at preferential rates (at the expense of firm fossil generation....mainly gas turbines). Texas main problem is it is an energy market only with no capacity market.   Too complicated to get into here but in essence an energy only market (Kw-hrs) has no way to guarantee capacity (kilowatts) other than by charging very high prices for very few hrs to justify the expense of building additional capacity to insure there are no blackouts.  Those of us in the industry have long known of this market failure but it is hard to get bureaucrats at the Public Utility Commission to understand this and institute a capacity market in addition to the current energy market to insure sufficient reserve capacity for unexpected very hot or very cold days (this is one of the reasons I want two backup home generators rather than just one).

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 3:44pm

    #28
    group

    group

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    Joined: Apr 17 2012

    Posts: 1

    12

    Greened natural gas failed

    Per Karl Denninger: “Texas, like so many other areas, has put up windmills and solar "farms" for the last 20 years, shutting down older coal-fired plants and not modernizing and improving their "fossil fuel" energy production infrastructure.  At the same time on a national basis the natural gas pipeline operators, in service to the woke green mob, have replaced fuel-fired pumps (that run on the gas in the pipe, therefore are failsafe so long as the pipe has something in it and is intact) with electrically powered booster pumps because, of course, you can get the power for them from "green" sources instead of all that eeee-vile carbon.

    I remind you that natural gas does not freeze at other than cryogenic temperatures and as such the problem is not the gas freezing and as for machinery you have plenty of heat source in the pipe.  By putting up with and responding to the "woke mob"... these companies took an ultra-reliable and essential energy delivery system that other than by physical destruction would nearly-always continue to operate and turned it into a fragile system dependent on multiple outside elements where if any of those elements failed so does the natural gas delivery.”

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 4:27pm

    #29
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Aug 25 2009

    Posts: 1138

    7

    My sons were raised in a bedroom

    that is, like all of our upstairs, unheated. Olive Oil Guy spent a night in the same room. It is common to see frost hairs on the nails in the walls when you rise.

    We have many acoustic instruments, our life is rich, and friends abound. I am glad Olive Oil Guy didn’t plant the olive trees I advised as 6 degrees would have been their death.

    This group is an inspiration. Chris is truly an information hound, and is the reason I subscribe.

    off to eat dessert, a castagnaccio, which is off the farm (no pine nuts, pecans instead)

     

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 5:32pm

    LBL

    LBL

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    Joined: Apr 11 2020

    Posts: 201

    2

    LBL said:

    >>  Unbelievably I closed on my house in Texas on February 12. I did so remotely as I am still in Maine. The idea was to have a small place in Texas near family to escape during winter. The joke's on me.

     

    Sounds like a good time to load a trailer with firewood (in Maine) and drive it down to Texas.

    It seems like a realistic idea.  I know people are doing that with Water.

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 6:11pm

    pinecarr

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: Apr 13 2008

    Posts: 1288

    2

    Great explanation coh

    I liked your explanation of how the jet stream works, COH.  The spinning top analogy actually helped me better understand the working  of the jet stream better.  Thanks!

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 6:12pm

    #32
    joe6167

    joe6167

    Status: Member

    Joined: Dec 16 2020

    Posts: 10

    9

    Department of Energy: Order No. 202-21-1

    It turns out Texas was unable to ramp up energy production because of emissions limits. Furthermore, they were forced to use out-of-state electricity as well.

    This disaster was totally manufactured. It didn't have to be this way. It really didn't.

    Department of Energy: Order No. 202-21-1
    February 14, 2021

    https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2021/02/f82/DOE%20202%28c%29%20Emergency%20Order%20-%20ERCOT%2002.14.2021.pdf

    According to ERCOT, the measures taken by ERCOT and other state agencies may not prove sufficient to avoid rotating outages of as much as 4,000 MW. Moreover, ERCOT has been alerted that numerous generation units will be unable to operate at full capacity without violating federal air quality or other permit limitations.

    ERCOT requests that the Secretary issue an order immediately, effective February 14, 2021 through February 19, 2021, authorizing “the provision of additional energy from all generation units subject to emissions or other permit limits” in the ERCOT region. The generating units (Specified Resources) that this Order pertains to are listed on the Order 202-21-1 Resources List, as described below.

    ->So... yeah, there it is... ERCOT predicted a problem as a result of the storm, and was told they couldn't increase electricity production because of air quality regulations (and other permitting issues).

    Because the additional generation may result in a conflict with environmental standards and requirements, I am authorizing only the necessary additional generation, with reporting requirements as described below.

    ->So while people are freezing to death, at least their lungs will be clean...

    To minimize adverse environmental impacts, this Order limits operation of dispatched units to the times and within the parameters determined by ERCOT for reliability purposes.

    Consistent with good utility practice, ERCOT shall exhaust all reasonably and practically available resources, including available imports, demand response, and identified behind-the-meter generation resources selected to minimize an increase in emissions, to the extent that such resources provide support to maintain grid reliability, prior to dispatching the Specified Resources.

    ->There it is... before they can ramp up their own power production, they have to use all the other resources they can, including IMPORTS... now you know why the price of electricity went crazy (with the price going from $50 mw/h to $9000 mw/h).

    ->As an added bonus, the people who lost power are much better off than the people who didn't... as they are about to receive a MASSIVE bill!

    with respect to any Specified Resource that is an ERCOT Generation Resource or Settlement Only Generator whose operator notifies ERCOT that the unit is unable, or expected to be unable, to produce at its maximum output due to an emission or effluent limit in any federal environmental permit, ERCOT shall ensure that such Specified Resource is only allowed to exceed any such limit during a period for which ERCOT has declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 2 or Level 3. This incremental amount of restricted capacity would be offered at a price no lower than $1,500/MWh. Once ERCOT declares that such an EEA Level 2 or Level 3 event has ended, the unit is required to immediately return to operation within its permitted limits; and

    Generators unable to generate maximum capacity due to environmental regulations, would only be allowed to exceed those regulations when the emergency state reached a certain point.

    In the event ERCOT identifies the need to exceed other relevant environmental permitting levels, ERCOT shall specifically identify such permitting levels and DOE will consider ERCOT’s request in good faith.

    ->The Bureaucracy is so cumbersome, that it has virtually no ability to respond to an emergency. Is that a bug or a feature?

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 7:08pm

    #33
    Lenn Arre

    Lenn Arre

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    Joined: Feb 25 2020

    Posts: 5

    8

    This happens practically everywhere whenever there is greed and short-sightedness

    I live in the Philippines, where we are visited by over 21 typhoons EVERY YEAR.
    And as the effects of climate change seems to be more and more apparent, we even experience one Supertyphoon (>80mph) every year, instead of every decade.
    It has been a perennial problem of flash floods, damaged homes, displaced families, landslides and tragic deaths. Yet the government has done little to inform the public of what PREVENTIVE measures can one initiate to weather the storm (pardon the pun). All we get year in and year out is the same "preparation" involving getting flashlights, store food and water, charging your phone and radio etc. just before the typhoon strikes.
    Common sense dictates that homes should be built much more sturdily and avoiding construction of dwellings in low-lying coastal areas and soft-soil hills. But just like in Texas, many Filipinos content themselves with the attitude of "puwede na 'yan!" (That will do), to tragic effects thereafter. Scrimping on building materials, compromises on safety codes, fatalistic mind-sets on giving it all up to Divine Providence for protection, is not only prevalent here, it seems to be the NORM.
    I once read the news years ago of an American family frozen to death in their car, after being stuck in traffic in the middle of a blizzard. Among these dead was a 10 year old boy wearing the latest (and expensive) Air Jordan shoes and holding a PSP game console. It would have been more prudent for the family to AT LEAST buy a few thick sleeping bags (with a minimum threshold of -15C) and a few more items and toss them in the trunk, JUST IN CASE something like that happens.
    Such items would only cost just as much as what the boy was having, but it would have been a LIFESAVER.
    It all boils down to a question of VALUES and PRIORITIES more than anything else.
    Makes us all think about this ongoing pandemic, as well, doesn't it!
    STAY SAFE EVERYONE!
    And great to hear from you again, Dr. Martenson!!!

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  • Sat, Mar 06, 2021 - 10:08pm

    LesPhelps

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 678

    5

    Nonsense

    We’ll know soon enough.

    The thing I like about the Professors work is that she has been completely transparent, telling people exactly, step by step, how to repeat her work.

    It’s a breath of fresh air when compared to the way climate science has been handled.

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  • Sun, Mar 07, 2021 - 6:33am

    Rector

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Feb 07 2010

    Posts: 391

    5

    MM is right

    I'm a homebuilder too - but I specialize in high-end custom homes.  It is possible to build long-lasting, high quality homes - but the cost is high and it takes knowledge and effort.  Today's "100% financing" world just won't support quality construction budgets because appraisals are based on comparable costs (of tract house crap).  The only people who can afford my work (sadly) are the wealthy.  Each of the 5 homes I'm building now are more than $1m - and they get what they pay for.  We are getting HERS ratings in the 20's WITHOUT solar systems installed.  It is possible to build homes that are resilient and resistant to natural disaster:  structural solutions to windstorms, insulation and energy solutions to heat and cold, site elevation for flooding, generators, solar panels, and Tesla walls for blackouts, etc.  I can and do regularly solve these problems permanently for my clients - but it's freakin' expensive.  That's the problem.

    Normal people (myself included) CAN incorporate these things into their homes and construction projects as we have outlined here, substituting a little ingenuity and cost-benefit analysis into their construction.  But the average tract home is really hard to retrofit effectively - especially if it was built in the wrong place.

    Rector

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  • Sun, Mar 07, 2021 - 7:05am

    VTGothic

    VTGothic

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    Joined: Jan 05 2020

    Posts: 560

    9

    Warming, Cooling, or Both?

    Following Waterdog14's observations, there is no question that on my mid-Vermont, Green Mountains homestead the summers have been cooler over recent years. Two years ago I had some field-planted warmth loving plants (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers) fail to even set fruit and those that did produced spindly, late crops. So last year I put all of my warmth loving crops in my large hoop house. This spring I will manufacture some moveable plastic-covered hoop houses so I can create warmer micro climates over row crops. The idea is to have more ability to manage the warmth right around the plants.

    On the other end, I do believe my winters are gradually producing less snowfall, and this year in particular I have seen an odd snowfall pattern. Most all of it fell in February, rather than being more evenly spread across the season. It used to be that we had snow by Thanksgiving and it lasted until May or even first of June. Then it got so we had snow on Thanksgiving that melted off, and snowless Christmas, and then serious snow arriving in January, and it all melting away in the first half of May.

    In other words, I have cooler summers and less snowy winters. Less snow does not directly equal warmer. However, I might be seeing less deep cold; that is, fewer 20 below days.

    As Waterdog14 says, this is just one location's data points. But they are the data points that I have to deal with. I don't trust science, especially so-called settled science, implicitly. There's no such thing as settled or consensus when real science is being engaged; and I lived in the academic world more or less deeply for 20-odd years - I know how political agendas have infiltrated research grants, Ph.D. study guidance and approvals, and academic paper approvals for publication. I have seen people turned down for tenure for having the wrong social or political views in fields that have nothing to do with sociology or political science (although even there that is not proper grounds for denial where scientific method and open inquiry ought to be hallmarks). The moment someone tells me the science is well-established or settled or there's a field consensus, I know narrative is at work; that is, fundamentalism not liberal academic inquiry. We're all watching an example in real time with the Covid treatment scenario. Sadly, all of "science in the public interest" evidences similar misbehaviors.

    I have a skeptical view of scientific fundamentalism that refuses to entertain, discuss, or seriously examine heretical or novel views. If, as some say, we are facing a climate crisis, we need to be more careful that we really understand the dynamics in play and make wise decisions. Arguments for shortcutting the process because crisis are, frankly, stupidly Russian Roulette.

    I don't know for certain what's actually going on in the grand climate cycle; I doubt anyone certain of the scientific consensus does either. From my own continual exploration of the subject I have arrived at a few - provisional - viewpoints, subject to change as I gain more data I think I can trust:

    The climate is warming. But it was before Industrialization as we came out of the last mini ice age. Whether humans have sped up that warming through oil and coal burning is more debatable; that we have no control group makes it very hard to establish human contribution. Also human effects on earth-level temperature likely comes from multiple other sources too: urban centers as heat sinks, and desertification and deforestation for example.

    It is possible to hold that over the long term the climate will continue warm for reasons other than human impact. The Melanchthon Cycles are case in point, not disproven only dismissed - often out of hand, sometimes as irrelevant in the face of human impact. But ignore the Cycle and we can't determine what the human impact actually is; therefore, we attribute all warming to human impact and nothing we could ever do could be considered as having neutralized our impact. Even if we disappeared, the Melanchthon Cycle assures continued planetary warming for about 100,000 years, after which cooling sets in again. Give me some indication natural cycles are taken into account in claims of human impact and I'll have cleaner ears more able to listen.

    The warming of the climate is not a straight line progression - not in the real world. It is possible to think the climate is warming over the long horizon and recognize the evidence for a short-horizon cooling period. That's where I fall. Right now, I'm equipping for continued cooler summers and possibly shorter growing seasons. Also, my recent experience suggests wetter summers. Wet and cool are not good field growing conditions.

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  • Sun, Mar 07, 2021 - 7:12am

    #37

    roosterrancher

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 16 2010

    Posts: 127

    4

    Efficiency by design

    I am lucky enough to live in a state that allows "owner builders", that has given us the ability to build in some of those things that cannot be found in a regular build.

    I saw a neat concept done by the Tohono Otam south of Phoenix, for lack of a better description I'll call it adobe infill. 2X10 construction skinned with OSB on the outside, then small forms were screwed on the wall on the inside and filled with 10% portland cement and 90% adobe. It hardened that night and the forms were moved up the next day. This gave the elders that were moving in somewhat of a traditional home and an enormous amount of thermal mass.

    We are working on a new build here, a small 16 x 24 foot print with the same type of construction. It took 12-1/2 yards of soil to fill the walls and my labor of about 2-1/2 weeks. So far the results are amazing in this south facing glazed home, keeping it's self warm on the coolest of sunny days. It would be really expensive to build this way commercially, when you design and build yourself it is rewarding and you do some goofy neat things.

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  • Sun, Mar 07, 2021 - 8:09am

    2retired

    2retired

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    Joined: Jul 20 2020

    Posts: 156

    3

    2retired said:

    It is interesting the metrics that people use and personally experience (plant and fruit germination times) rather than reports (by MSM) of things we can't personally see or verify. My metric has been the snow line in the mountains (part of my view), and I regularly hike trails that at a certain altitude become, well more of a slog if ill equipped; as well as ocean temperatures (when it becomes swimmable) with a pool thermometer.  My measures parallel your experience. The cooling trend has been evident for 5+ years, after a warming trend 1975 through to 2002. Ocean levels have not changed, that I can see, in my lifetime (70+).

     

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  • Sun, Mar 07, 2021 - 9:25am

    stevedaly

    stevedaly

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 23 2020

    Posts: 210

    1

    Insulation

    Jeez, it gets pretty hot in Texas in the summer.  So you would think they would need good insulation to keep AC costs down.  In fact good energy efficiency would be a good selling point for new home construction.  Hopefully some of the commenters here who are actually from Texas will mention the problems they have had because of poor insulation.  Where I live in a colder climate with good insulation we would have to drip water or drain lines if the power was off for more than 6 hours in a storm.  We would know that because the temperatures indoors would become nearly unbearable.

    As for the statement, "Natural gas pipelines with too much water vapor in them froze solid cutting off gas supplies to electrical generating stations"  so far we haven't seen percentages for how much effect this may have had on energy production or whether that was significant.  But we do know that Texas relies on wind power for 20% of its electric generation.  We also  believe that there was not excess capacity built into the system because of the potential expense.  So what per cent of wind power was not available?

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  • Sun, Mar 07, 2021 - 9:26am

    Mark_BC

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 516

    6

    Mark_BC said:

    I have a skeptical view of scientific fundamentalism that refuses to entertain, discuss, or seriously examine heretical or novel views.

    I completely agree but at some point "society" needs to move forward with decisions and actions; we can't freely debate climate science decade after decade while doing nothing simply because we reject the idea of science being "settled". Scientists have been studying this for decades and I think the evidence is pretty clear that the world is warming.

    I'm not sure how people can seriously debate if humanity is the main factor contributing to changing the environment (which is warming), when we are drastically altering CO2 concentration, one of the main demonstrated greenhouse gases; and altering every biome on the planet, which is the main cycling mechanism for carbon on a yearly basis. It's like these people have no understanding of how systems work. When you drastically change the inputs and components of the system, it behaves differently!! Not rocket science. I guess maybe they have a quasi-religious view that the planet is just too large and powerful, operating on its own set of rules that we could never be large enough to influence; surely this view is a hangover from the Middle Ages when people believed the Earth was the centre of the universe.

    The historical record proves otherwise. The planet generally moves from one "equilibrium" to the next; the shifts happening when certain atmospheric and other forcing events push it over tipping points. What happened to the precautionary principle? If the planet suits us in its current form, then don't significantly change the composition of the atmosphere and wonder why the environment is changing!!

    Having said all that, I think the climate debate is now a moot point; CO2 is going to continue to be pumped out until there is nothing left in the ground with a reasonable EROEI. Alternative energy cannot take up the slack and emits its own CO2. Our economies cannot function without maximizing resource consumption. There's already too much CO2 out there; the time to take action was in the 70's and "we" decided not to. Our fate is sealed. "Climate change" is now being promoted as an issue just like the "Covid crisis" as a boogyman for the elites to justify instituting radical changes that benefit them and screw everyone else.

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  • Sun, Mar 07, 2021 - 10:03am

    coh

    coh

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Dec 16 2020

    Posts: 65

    2

    coh said:

    "The warming of the climate is not a straight line progression - not in the real world. It is possible to think the climate is warming over the long horizon and recognize the evidence for a short-horizon cooling period."

    One thing that seems to be happening is what was described in an earlier reply - changes to the jet stream which is resulting in more variability and some "stuck patterns". So while the planet as a whole is warming, it's possible that certain regions are tending to have cooler summers because the "normal" patterns in the jet stream have been altered. So it might be averaging 5 deg above normal in northern Canada but say 2-3 deg below normal in New England because of a change in the normal jet stream pattern. Overall warmer but for those of you in New England, it may not seem that way.

    There are patterns on top of patterns on top of patterns in the atmosphere. Things like El Nino which tend to come in cycles, these influence weather patterns in the midlatitudes. There are other internal oscillations that have periods of years or decades. Under "normal" conditions these interact in highly unpredictable ways, which can lead to long periods (months or even years) of colder or warmer weather in a particular region. Then you throw overall global warming (which is stronger at the poles) into the mix and that just adds another huge variable that complicates everything.

    Eventually there may be disruptions to ocean currents that would add another layer of complexity. Already we are seeing massive warm pools in various parts of the oceans. These not only impact the ecosystem (plankton, fish, corals etc) but they also drive atmospheric circulation patterns.

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  • Sun, Mar 07, 2021 - 10:38am

    #42

    thc0655

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: Apr 27 2010

    Posts: 2394

    7

    I discovered this Three E’s fellow traveler out of the UK

    I’ve never come across this site (below) before and I’ve never seen anyone here reference him. He writes about Energy, Environment and Economy plus Society and seems to be on our same wave length. Take a look.

    https://consciousnessofsheep.co.uk/2021/02/19/texas-trip/

    ....The physics behind what happened in Texas this week are almost identical to those which caused Britain’s power outage in August 2019 – only the type of bad weather was different.  Stable grid frequency is what allows us to plug electrical appliances into the system without frying them.  It is also what prevents the components of the grid from irreparable damage.  In the UK, the grid operates at a frequency of 50 Hz – in the USA it is 60 Hz – with a margin of no more than 0.5 Hz either side.  In traditional – fossil fuel and nuclear – systems, grid frequency is backed up by inertia – the massive steel turbines acting like flywheels to iron out any second-by-second fluctuations.  Non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies (NRREHTs) like wind turbines and solar panels do not have this in-built protection, and so depend upon energy storage, nuclear baseload and fossil fuel back-up to avoid a dangerous loss of frequency.  And the higher the proportion of NRREHTs added to the grid, the greater the chance of a frequency failure.  In both the UK and Texas, it was the failure of backup following a weather-related interruption of wind generation which triggered the cascading power outage across the grid.

    In this sense, both the political left and right are partially correct in their view of what went wrong.  In the UK a lightning strike on a large North Sea wind farm tripped an automatic safety shutdown which should have resulted in a back-up gas generator powering up.  But problems with the gas generator resulted in a dangerous drop in power; triggering automated systems which began disconnecting users across the eastern half of the UK.  In similar fashion, as snow, ice and freezing temperatures caused wind generation to fall; automated systems in Texas should have fired up the gas back-up plants… the ones whose water intake pipes had frozen.  Faced with a dangerous loss of power, the Texas system did the same thing the UK system had done – only on a much wider scale and in weather which proved far more deadly.

    It is precisely for this reason that I have spent several years pointing to the folly of adding even more NRREHTs capacity to the system before appropriate storage, back-up and management systems have been put into place.  It is also why the economics of electricity generation needs an urgent rethink while there is still time....

    And this one:

    https://consciousnessofsheep.co.uk/2021/02/24/jevons-in-the-fall/

    In the 1860s, some British economists began to wonder if the economy was about to enter a steady-state.  With so much of its economic activity automated with coal-powered steam technologies, surely Britain could rest on its laurels.  Instead of having to dig ever deeper to extract ever more coal – and iron, copper, limestone, etc. – Britain could coast along at its current rates of extraction.

    Economist William Stanley Jevons begged to differ.  In his 1865 book, The Coal Question, he correctly argued that the savings made through automation would increase demand in the economy.  This demand would translate into the expansion of existing steam technologies like railways and steamships, as well as in the invention of new steam technologies.  As a result, rather than curbing Britain’s appetite for coal – and other mineral resources – the application of steam technology would result in even more extraction.

    This observation gave rise to “the Jevons Paradox;” that any local attempt to save energy will result in an aggregate increase in energy consumption.  This was borne out more recently when, in the aftermath of the oil shocks of the 1970s, car manufacturers worked to make their products more energy efficient.  Lean burn engines, electronic ignition and computer-controlled fuel injection eventually made engines efficient.  Improved suspension, better tyres and streamlined bodies cut fuel use still further.  And the oil industry improved the chemistry of the fuels themselves.  If we had settled for the levels of car ownership seen in the early 1970s, then the improvements would have led to a dramatic fall in demand for petrol.  Instead, the savings on the cost of fuel brought car ownership to the masses.  Indeed, by the early 2000s in the UK, not only was it rare not to have a car at all, but many households had two cars.

    The lesson has not been wasted on ecologists concerned with the effect of burning fossil fuels on the environment. While energy-saving has a certain common sense to it – if you don’t burn the carbon then you don’t have to deal with its effects – it is likely to be counter-productive.  If, for example, people’s homes were properly insulated, common sense says that they will use less electricity, gas or oil to heat and power them.  The trouble is that the money they save on heating and lighting will simply be spent on alternative energy-consuming consumption instead.  And so, as Jevons observed, aggregateenergy use will grow.

    It is for this reason that environmental campaigners have pressed on with the futile attempt to replace fossil fuels with a combination of non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies (NRREHTs), biofuel and nuclear.  This is ill-starred, first, because our dependence on fossil fuels is so high that these “alternatives” have yet to lower our consumption; and second, because they are not truly alternatives when it comes to agriculture, mining, heavy industry and most transport, where eighty percent of fossil fuels are consumed.  Indeed, even in electricity generation, NRREHTs and nuclear power come with some serious drawbacks.  The intermittency of NRREHTs requires storage and back-up technologies which either don’t exist or are so prohibitively expensive that they cannot be deployed.  So long as NRREHTs remained a small proportion of electricity generation, this was not a problem because fossil fuel – particularly gas – generation provided sufficient back-up.  Nuclear, unfortunately, cannot provide back-up rapidly enough to overcome intermittency.  But as NRREHTs became a large enough share – around 50 percent – of electricity generation, unpredictable power outages started to become an unpreventable feature of the system....

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  • Sun, Mar 07, 2021 - 11:40am

    #43

    JAG

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: Oct 26 2008

    Posts: 725

    5

    It sucked...

    Great commentary Dr. M.

    As a Texan, you totally nailed my viewpoint. This whole event was foreshadowing of our future. You can't depend on anyone but yourself, and if you're lucky, your neighbors.

    I knew it was coming and I should have come here for advice from our more northernly members before it hit. Count on me to offer advice on hurricane prep when they come north this summer.

    I thought I was prepared and God laughed.

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  • Sun, Mar 07, 2021 - 1:46pm

    #44
    KLYWood

    KLYWood

    Status: Member

    Joined: Mar 07 2021

    Posts: 1

    5

    Not as bad as we originally feared

    We live in a rural community about 60mi north of Dallas, in a home built in 1900 with next-to-no insulation (because we have had other, more pressing issues requiring our $$ in the 13 years we've owned it). Whenever the temperatures go below 32F, we have always had to leave the taps running and open up the cabinets under the sink and run fans to circulate warmer air. This time around, we realized quickly that there was literally no way we could keep up with that kind of cold, so my husband went out to the main cutoff in the yard and shut off the water to the whole house, and we evacuated to other relatives who have much more modern digs. Thankfully, our gas lines were never disrupted, and we just left our gas space heaters running (in hopes the indoor temps  might hover closer to the 20s instead of the minuses). Thank to my husband's foresight, we only ended up losing the upstairs toilet (cracked tank) and the upstairs sink (we're not sure why that pipe broke, but it did -- and it didn't destroy the entire house because the mains were off). From what my neighbors say, the power up here in Cooke County actually did do the rolling blackouts, on a fairly regular schedule. Down in Aledo, where I evacuated to my mom's, we never "rolled." We just blacked out. For two days. Even her well-insulated modern house got pretty chilly after two days in minus temps. Her gas wasn't disrupted, so we just huddled around the gas logs in her fireplace. Her central heat is gas, but the thermostat is electric, so gas heat didn't do us much good. She also had to boil water for a while even after the temps warmed up a little. Up here, we didn't have to boil.

    We are thankful that our house wasn't a total loss; we are Texans, but we spent a decade living in Iowa, so we KNOW what to do when the weather gets cold. I feel terrible for the folks living in apartment buildings; they may know what to do, but they're at the mercy of the building supers. I don't like living at the mercy of someone else. If I'm gonna fail, I want it to be MY fault and not because I'm dependent upon another person.

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  • Sun, Mar 07, 2021 - 4:53pm

    #45
    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: May 17 2017

    Posts: 1432

    6

    gail the actuary

    the way things are going we are going to have a global climate czar soon. and a war on climate since the war on drugs went so well.  greta was a featured speaker at davos. does that tell you anything?

    walk into a room with 8 people and 7 of them are there solely because of fossil fuels. the entire global economy runs on fossil fuels. solar and wind don't exist w/o fossil fuels. billions would perish w/o fossil fuels.

    it is pure hubris to say we should have or even could have taken action on climate change. what would you do to keep the corn belt's weather steady? to keep the snowpack in the sierra's at levels sufficient for l.a.'s water and crop irrigation? humans love to think they can play god just look at bill gates.

    there are too many people making too many demands on finite resources. at least that is what i glean from the crash course , which btw does not get mentioned much anymore. there was a time here when climate discussions were relegated to the controversial topics  dungeon. everybody complains about the climate but nobody can do anything about it.

    gail said this years ago .

    Ten Reasons Intermittent Renewables (Wind and Solar PV) are a Problem

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  • Mon, Mar 08, 2021 - 7:27am

    #46

    AustinAuctioneer

    Status: Member

    Joined: Jan 06 2018

    Posts: 13

    3

    AustinAuctioneer said:

    https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1131192413986592

    Here's a CNN interview I did, on how I dealt with the situation in Texas.

    I was sooooo grateful to know that my basic needs were covered, due to the preparations I've made at Chris and Adam's suggestions.  And as Chris always says, having my preparations in place freed me up to help others.

    Thank you, Chris and Adam, for your many years of advice.  Following your advice has benefitted me and those around me greatly.

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  • Tue, Mar 09, 2021 - 3:42pm

    #47
    Farmbound

    Farmbound

    Status: Member

    Joined: Aug 27 2020

    Posts: 1

    3

    Spread the pain? WTF?

    I live 3 States north of TX, over 600 miles away. I measured 15 inches of snow in my backyard and temp dropped to -30 below Zero. We have some of the cheapest electric rates in the country and our utilities are public owned. We have no problem with cold weather here. -30 below was not even a new record. Why were we part of rolling blackouts? Because our local utilities were part of an agreement to "share" the power under threat of  $$ penalties if they didn't comply.

    Who knew? I don't recall ever hearing from our Electric Co. about being held accountable for miss-managed corporations in other states. Agreement or not, you don't just turn off power without notice when it is -30 below! I'm sure some people would be glad to pay instead of having the power turned off. The point is that there was no problem with the system here.

    This was a planned sharing exercise like WWII rationing. Ration sugar and other plentiful items so that everyone feels the pain equally.  I feel for the folks in Tx. It was tragic and was avoidable if the companies had followed the warnings from a decade ago and had been prepared.  But the worst part is that people are not really in control of there own welfare because the people in control don't care to let them know how fragile our system is.

    When we saw that the temp was -30 that morning,  I checked my phone for weather info. There was a banner about rolling blackouts at the university. 45 min to 1 hour long rolling blackouts in the city and around the state. Then the power went out. My wife said now what?  I said get in bed and turn up the electric blanket and I turned on the large TV and we watched you-tube videos until the power came back on.  I had built a small battery bank and 400 watts of solar panels last summer because I didn't like the idea of going out and starting my generator at night or in bad weather at a moments notice. I knew how much power I had and how long I would need it so we splurged.

    We have enjoyed your work at Peak Prosperity. Thanks for what you do!

     

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  • Fri, Mar 12, 2021 - 11:39am

    #48
    Ben Bennett

    Ben Bennett

    Status: Member

    Joined: May 07 2020

    Posts: 2

    3

    Old farts view

    Observation from an old fart; Colder than imaginable to most residents, reliance on electric heating without alternative sources, ignorance in oh so many theaters and last but by-no-means-least, a population increase in the last 12 months that defies belief by us old timers.

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  • Tue, Mar 16, 2021 - 1:04pm

    #49
    Rwrek

    Rwrek

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 09 2012

    Posts: 24

    4

    TX Family Lessons Learned

    We had some odd lessons in resilience in the TX Deep Freeze Week, I want to share. Hopefully some of the points below may be helpful to others.

    Our son's family and my wife and I live in the northern part of the DFW area in separate residences. We each also have off-grid cabins in Northern TX, reasonably well supplied. However, we had a well at the cabins' location where -8 degrees was forecast.

    Our home did not lose power but our son's house did. He had a small generator and a fireplace, but was lacking firewood and sufficient electric heaters.

    He traveled to the cabins location in AWD vehicle, moved a small propane heater and some stored propane into the pumphouse to have a neighbor monitor and retrieved a another small propane heater, a modern kerosene heater, firewood and fuel from our cabins to bring back to his home.  This enabled his family to take in a large family who was not well prepared and were going to sleep in their car!!

    The "Boil Water" order included both his home and ours and that was solved because we each had ceramic water filter alternatives.

    Lessons Learned:

    1.To put things in perspective James 4:13 17  "Listen carefully those
    who make your plans and say..."

    2.Power, heat, water, Sanitation and food storage need ENDURING winterized plans in place and ready to use.

    3.Kerosene heaters were extremely valuable at cabins AND at home. Have adequate supplies and know Bulk sources and your own containers.

    4.Same as above for Propane.

    5.In our well insulated cabins (but unheated) cabins 6 cases of canned food  glass jars (that were wide mouth) froze, but did not break, but we had one suspect seal break. Swapped boxes for containers that would contain potential spills. Were not stacked high

    6.Access to 4x4, AWD vehicles essential for in progress in foul weather travel.

    7.Share your resources when your neighbor is in need and you can help.

    8. Be flexible!

     

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  • Tue, Mar 30, 2021 - 9:40am

    #50

    Augustine

    Status: Member

    Joined: Oct 13 2009

    Posts: 2

    2

    Living near the winners

    I rent in a nice neighborhood where I'd never be able to afford owning a home. Ergo, neither power nor water failed in my place. I was warm and comfortable the whole time, in a neighborhood surrounded by others deprived of heat and drinking water.

    I don't really know why, as there are no obvious essential facilities nearby. I cynically wonder how many city councilmen live in the area, in addition to my multimillionaire neighbors.

    Still, in addition to luck, I managed to come out without damages, even though houses are built for the warm weather of Texas, with pipes in outer walls. I let the faucets run a trickle and monitored appliance connections, even waking up at 3:00 to run the toilets and the appliances for a few minutes.

    The heating uses gas heated hot water and, due to poor insulation, it would run constantly to maintain 20°C inside. I turned the temperature down a bit to give it a break, but not by much, afraid that the water connection to the heater core would freeze.

    There just is no incentive for energy efficient building. I could never understand the lack of roof overhangs and varandas to cast a shadow on the walls, the lack of plentiful attic ventilation to drain the heat out or the small windows that don't barely allow a natural breeze in mild weather, among other passive means to mitigate the heat. Alas, homes are built to rely exclusively on energy intensive active cooling.  Even cheap solar water heating is sight unseen in sunny Texas.  The builders couldn't care less about the running costs when it gets in the way of the profit margin or market competition, even though they often own whole subdivisions.

    At the grim weather forecast, I restocked the pantry the week prior. If the worst had happened, I still had camping gear and dried food ready to go to keep me warm and fed. I also had water for a week, a reserve that I put in place after the city stayed for days in a water boil notice a couple of years or so ago.

    However, one thing that I wasn't prepared for was to come and go in this weather. For instance, my hiking boots were warm, but did not have good traction on ice; so I got traction spikes for it. Also, though my car had permanent AWD, the tire socks I had for my previous car didn't fit it; then I got proper tire socks for it.

    I mention this because, since I was fairing well, I offered help to friends and neighbors, but, should any of them have accepted my offer, I wasn't sure that I'd be able to get to them safely.

    In spite of the preparation, it was much worse than I thought. Though I expected difficulties on the roads and scarcity in the groceries, I wasn't counting on the blackouts or the water shortage, though I was spared. Thank God I paid no price to learn these lessons, but many friends and neighbors did pay dearly. Hopefully, they learned too.

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  • Tue, Mar 30, 2021 - 2:15pm

    acesovereggs

    acesovereggs

    Status: Member

    Joined: Aug 22 2018

    Posts: 18

    0

    acesovereggs said:

    Good site.

    Folks here also might like this one, one of my favorites:  https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/

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  • Thu, Apr 01, 2021 - 5:30pm

    #52
    pelewis@pelewis.com

    [email protected]

    Status: Member

    Joined: Apr 02 2021

    Posts: 1

    0

    Texas Feb '21 systemic power outages in 108 words or less

    • Feb ’21 polar vortex was a severe, but not unprecedented event. The power grid should be able to handle such an event without systemic outages, as it did twice in the 1980s.
    • The root cause of systemic outages was improper prioritization by ERCOT. They were still working from a script written when coal and nukes were a bigger part of the mix. They curtailed industrial facilities first just like they always have, but this time some of those facilities were producing a large percentage of gas feeding the generation plants. ERCOT’s power prioritization schedule and designation of critical facilities did not evolve to keep up with current reality.

     

    There were other contributors of course (especially the lateness with plants down for maintenance and gas storage fields on the low end of their deliverability curves), as there always are, but they are sideshows. Interesting that it is not the infrastructure that failed, but policy.

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