Don’t Weep for the Trees

While I have no intention of changing the general theme of this blog, I will spend some essays in the future providing more details behind my new job in Hawaii. I did this on occasion with my previous job at Accsys, but the focus of the blog remained on energy, sustainability, and the environment.

As explained in the previous essay, my new role involves development of an integrated bioenergy platform. We believe this to be a different way of looking at the problem of turning biomass into energy, and then ultimately supplying that energy to customers. We are not tying ourselves to a specific technology platform; we are using different platforms as suited for specific local needs. We are also as concerned about the sustainability of the biomass as we are the sustainability of the processes we will utilize.

Since moving to Hawaii, I have been asked to give talks at the local high school here about energy and sustainability. During one recent talk I was explaining some of the things we are thinking about as a company, specifically for alternative energy in Hawaii. One of the students said “I heard you were going to cut down all the trees.” At that moment, I realized that her view of forestry was much the same as my own view of forestry growing up in Weyerhaeuser country in Oklahoma. I viewed foresters as people who cut down trees, and I associated them with clear cutting.

My views have changed a lot since then, because I have met a lot of foresters and have a better understanding of what they do. Foresters are people who manage forests. With a managed forest, sometimes that means you harvest the trees like you would harvest any other crop. But managing a forest entails replacing what you cut down (thinning is an important exception).

That makes sense when you think about why people went into forestry in the first place: They love trees (and not in the same way that a polar bear loves humans) and they love the outdoors. They are very conscious of the important role trees play in the environment, and as such they are generally very good stewards of the trees and land they manage.

As indicated in my recent interview with Katie Fehrenbacher, sustainable forestry is a critical component of our platform. We have a forestry company called Forest Solutions, and our ultimate goal is to manage all of the forest assets that we will use in our platform.

So why do we like woody biomass? Why not switchgrass? Sugarcane? Crop residues? Various sources of biomass have their strengths and weaknesses. Very high on the list for a sustainable model is to take care of the soil. One of the questions I sometimes pose is “What would the soil condition be after 500 years in a particular service?” If the answer is not approximately as good or better than the present, then it doesn’t meet the sort of criteria that I am looking for (of course taking into consideration that the soil doesn’t have to be utilized for the same purpose for the entire duration).

There are many potential pitfalls when considering biomass. Some sources are heavy users of nutrients, and as such the fertilization requirements can be high – especially when they are on short rotation. This can imply high fossil fuel inputs and a high risk for soil depletion. Some crops are heavy users of water. Sugarcane ethanol has been judged to be potentially sustainable for Brazil, but it may be a different story in areas that require irrigation.

Trees are different. During the first 10 years or so of their lives, trees can accumulate biomass at the rate of 7-10 bone dry tons per acre per year. You may see some switchgrass yields that are claimed to be that high, but those were almost certainly with fertilizer and plenty of water. But even if the yields were the same, the difference is that you have many harvests of the switchgrass over 10 years to get the same yield as one harvest of trees. Each harvest comes at the cost of energy and labor inputs.

But there is an even more compelling reason to utilize trees. Unlike most of the short-rotation crops that are frequently discussed as feedstock for fuel production, trees can actually improve the quality and health of the soil.

While this is not news to our foresters, it was something that I had not given much thought to until recently. I was taking a tour of a new energy lab being built here on the Big Island, and someone pointed out a plot of land behind the lab and said “We tested the fertility of that soil, and it is much higher than that of the surrounding soil.” I asked why, and was told that there used to be a stand of trees there.

What happens is that trees can bring up nutrients from the subsoil and concentrate them in the leaves and bark. This ends up falling back to the soil and adding to the organic material in the soil. Depending on the specific trees you use, managed forests can provide fuel while improving soil quality. You could also envision rotating trees with other crops to rebuild fertility.

A good example of the potential of trees can be found on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii. For years the coast was planted in sugarcane. While the area gets plenty of water, it is also very hilly. The sugarcane operations led to a large amount of soil erosion. People who were around during that time said that the normally blue water would be brown for long stretches as soil ran off into the ocean.

The sugarcane industry was ultimately abandoned there, and the area is now planted in trees. The erosion has stopped, and the soil has started to recover. The ocean is once again blue there, and I was told today that a reef that had been damaged by soil runoff is healthy again.

So do not weep for the trees we will use. The right trees are ideal sources of biomass if they are properly managed. Besides providing fuel, they are going to perform an important function – recycling nutrients from the subsoil to the topsoil. The trees that are cut will be replanted. The forests we use will be from managed plantations, and not from rain forest or old growth forests.

That is a general overview of the first leg of the platform. There are a number of assets under management, as well as various acquisitions in progress. At some point I will provide details of these holdings and how we plan to use them.

127 thoughts on “Don’t Weep for the Trees”

  1. Aloha I made some comments to your oil drum article a couple of weeks ago about the Hamakua Coast. The content concerned spraying herbicides back in 1990 during the first stages of the planting euc trees. http://www.organicconsumers.org/organic/0612_pesticide_drift.cfm

    Looks like Forest Solutions had a role in the process. I know the sugar cane did decades of misuse of the land however to replace those practices with more of the same is just another example of white men forcing a way of life on the locals. Not much color in the management photo shop crew. I could not understand how Kam Schools' made the decision to plant trees instead of organic food production. What a great opportunity lost. The Hawaiians deserve much more than U.S. corps. profiteering off of stolen land with the attitude that there is too much cost in labor, lets bring in the machines to clear cut the gen/mod seeds/plants that needs indiscriminate herbicide spraying.

    My wife is Hawaiian and we lived there in 2004 and have since moved because of the spraying by the state and the rest of the roundup crazies. Any exposure to chemicals make us seriously ill.

    That web site of Forest Solutions was so generic and void of any info beyond corp. speak I had to write and get it said. Leave those kids alone!

    Dean Little

  2. No matter where you go you can find the 'live in the trees/caves' type of loonies. With the earth's population that solution is out! The anti GMO bunch are equally strange.

    I expect a forester is just like a farmer as regards the soil. only a bit longer term. A farmer knows well that the soil is his lively hood and cares for it well. Far better than the 'plant an organic garden green' will ever realize.

    Few of the articles about pesticide use from the greens have much basis in fact – rumors spawned by rumors for the most part.

    The 'poor little native' thing is just a bit tired. I have heard it all too often about how natives were great stewards of the game and land when the opposite was normally true.

  3. The content concerned spraying herbicides back in 1990 during the first stages of the planting euc trees. http://www.organicconsumers.org/organic/0612_pesticide_drift.cfm

    Looks like Forest Solutions had a role in the process.

    Forest Solutions didn’t even exist until 1996, and none of our foresters were working here prior to that. Further, the company has only recently become a part of the integrated platform we are putting together. As I said, the reason for having a forestry company embedded in the platform is that you can make sure the biomass is grown according to the most responsible practices. So my recommendation would be to observe just a bit before jumping to conclusions.

    however to replace those practices with more of the same…

    It isn’t remotely the same. Do you honestly believe the trees on the coast have a similar impact to the sugarcane production there?

    I don’t know what else to tell you. People demand energy. Native Hawaiians demand energy. While our focus is global, we are working with multiple groups of native Hawaiians to bring locally produced energy to the island. That will create local jobs, and make some progress toward energy self-sufficiency. If we stop all sorts of projects indiscriminately, then the reality is that Saudi Arabian crude oil will continue to be the source of the energy used here. Would that be preferable?

    That web site of Forest Solutions was so generic and void of any info beyond corp. speak I had to write and get it said.

    Well, they are foresters, not programmers. If you want information, pick up the phone tomorrow and call them instead of coming on here and making blanket accusations.

    RR

  4. Nice to see that you're taking into account sustainable crops and soil quality. Is the energy density of wood much higher than that of switchgrass?

    Reading the Forest Solutions website, it looks like they do Native Forest Stewardship and Commercial Forestry. Are those mutually exclusive divisions? They mention Eucalyptus plantations for Commercial Forestry, but I don't think Eucalyptus are native to Hawaii.

  5. One of the students said "I heard you were going to cut down all the trees."

    Robert,

    One thing you should mention in your talks to the students:

    In the 15th and 16th centuries, England almost denuded their entire country of trees when they were depending on them as their primary source of energy. (It also took over 60 acres of oak trees to supply the lumber that went into one ship of the line for the British Navy.)

    The iron and glass industries were just getting started, and it took huge amounts of wood to make the charcoal both industries needed.

    One of the main drivers for the Jamestown colony in 1607 was that the New World was still chock full of wood, and the English hoped to start glass and iron works here where wood was still abundant.

    Of course, coal came to the rescue in England.

    The point: Anyone who thinks we can run modern society on biomass alone should look at what happened in England 500 years ago. Their energy needs were small by today's standards, and they ended up cutting down almost every tree in the country and then had to look across the Atlantic for more.

    There is a lesson in what happened in England 500 years ago that too many have forgotten.

  6. Russ is right. People who push this narrative about the innocent native living in harmony with nature until the white man showed up and changed everything don't know their history. The natives didn't have to learn about environmental disasters and genocides from the white man. Why do you think there are no trees on Easter Island?

  7. RR-
    You may wish to investigate eucalyptus plantations in Thailand (I own a very small one, disclosure).
    I understand some agency in Thailand is contemplating conversion into biofuel–and eucalyptus grows quickly, and is oily.
    The tree pongamia pinneta is also very promising as an oil-bearing tree.
    In general, I think oil-bearing trees are doable as they are planted once, and last fro decades. No seasonal tilling of the soil.
    In the case of oil palm trees, the fronds can be used to burn boilers, or made into medium density fiberboard–more benefits.
    In tropical climes, with oil trees and PHEVs, I think energy self-sufficiency looks doable. They need nukes for electrical consumption.

  8. A farmer knows well that the soil is his lively hood and cares for it well…

    Russ~

    A good farmer knows that, but there are also farmers out there (mainly factory farms)whose goal is to "mine the soil," maximize profit, and keep dumping on synthetic chemicals as a substitute for healthy soil.

    Many factory farms have completely abandoned crop rotation or letting a field lay fallow for a year or two to regenerate, and instead simply rely on synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides. Their motive is profit and stewardship of the land has fallen to a low priority — as long as they can keep buying synthetic nitrogen.

  9. “The point: Anyone who thinks we can run modern society on biomass alone should look at what happened in England 500 years ago.”

    I have not heard anyone suggest that Wendell. However, lots of us think forest health can be restored by better management. This includes foresters from the NFS and foresters from the tribes. Currently there is a huge problem in our western semi-arid forest because of well meaning practices of the past such as putting out small forest fires that did not threaten lives or property. It is an incredible huge task to thin these forests so that fire can clean them without destroying them.

    “we are using different platforms as suited for specific local needs”

    As boring as it might sound, engineers specify equipment to meet specific local needs. I am very skeptical of those who use meaningless jargon.

  10. You get paid up front to manage forests,and get paid on the back end selling the biofuels. Brilliant. Just don't forget the 1000's of arborists after you get the process down. They pay $40 or $50 a ton to dispose of millions of tons of wood each year. A subsidy of sorts for someone with a good biofuel process.

  11. Wow, interesting where this discussion is going about planting and harvesting 'anything' for an annual source of biomass-based renewable carbon agri-building blocks.

    Best of luck RR with your reseach among the palm oil and green algae people. Yet I'll say this again, I don't believe that using diesel tractors, petrochemical-based fertilizers amd copious fresh water to irrigate and then annually harvest any oily or woody herbaceous crop is going to compete with the simple recycle via gasification of society's waste streams.

    The 3,500 acre Fresh Kills landfill in NY's Staten Island could be mined with front-end loaders for the next 35 years and provide free feedstock to maybe 100,000 to 300,000 bpd of GTL-based alternative fuels.

    Existing landfills operating near any large municipality can be tapped for what is coming at them 365 days per year including Christmas and New Years. It takes two-three shovel fulls of MSW to equal the carbon content of just one shovel of Wyoming coal.

    There are bizzillions of tires stacked up which feature almost twice the carbon content per lb. as Wyoming coal. There are mountains of petoleum pet-coke wastes available for $8 per ton and this petcoke, like tires, is nearly twice the BTU's of Wyoming coal.

    In comparison, a ton of available petcoke or tires will provide 3x to 6x the BTU's per ton of any new agri-plant which is annually tended, watered and harvested. People just have not figured this out yet.

    America just upped it's methane gas reserves by about 34% earlier this summer. There are over 200 t's of stranded natural gas looking for a market up in Alaska. The lower 48 is home to over 400 t's of stranded or contaminated natural gas. This CH4 methane provides the same basic carbon building block as does a corn kernel or jatropha or algae or MSW pile or tires, or beetle-killed pine, etc…

    Yet there are people who have fallen for the next type of hydrogen hallucination who mistakenly THINK that a new oily-type of agri-biomass must be planted and annually harvested to obtain cheap carbon building blocks. I don't share their vision.

    When about 300 of the largest landfills in the USA are being mined plus tire piles being gasified and the mountains of refinery petcoke are being diminished because their gasification recycle methods are happening quicker than these wastes are being generated – maybe THEN proponents of jatropha or switchgrass or palm plantations should consider planting a new agri-crop such as this on marginal land.

    Until then, I think we should be focused on producing a much higher quality of organic agri-foodstuffs instead of the genetically modified varieties of Monsanto and paying the farmers a premium price for premium quality food.

    Begin converting society's abundant daily waste streams first as a 24×7 continous source of carbon building blocks to then assemble into new, alternative, liquid fuels. I'll let Benny drive a compressed CNG bomb at 3,500 psi on LA's freeways. Not interested in this illusion either, sorry!

    And THEN the BIG question will beg an answer; just WHAT types of new fuels to then catalytically synthesize from either agri-based plant carbon or society's recycled waste carbon? Should this new alt fuel in comparison to OPEC crude be more float-on-water varieties (like green algae oil or biodiesel from soy or sunflowers or Fischer-Tropsch GTL SynOils) or should these new alt. fuels become something naturally biodegradable by virtue of a single oxygen atom per fuel molecule?

    Cookie-cutter blueprints are coming for the copycats. Until then, enjoy the thoughts, dreams, research and blog discussions…

    Cliff

  12. I do not think we can run modern society on biomass alone, but we can use biomass much more efficiently these days than people could in the 16th century and more efficiently than most of the people who live on less than $1/day currently do. It would be interesting to know how many people can be sustainably supported by biomass alone using modern efficient technology. I think I would be surprised just how large the number would be. (Not that we should ever try to single-source our energy supply.)

  13. "Begin converting society's abundant daily waste streams first as a 24×7 continous source of carbon building blocks to then assemble into new, alternative, liquid fuels."

    Unless I missed something,that's exactly what Robert's company is trying to do Cliff.

  14. It would be interesting to know how many people can be sustainably supported by biomass alone using modern efficient technology.

    Clee,

    Part of the answer to your question is here, courtesy of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory: The Billion Ton Study

    The very short version of their study is that it would take 1.3 billion tons of biomass a year to displace one-third of the demand for transportation fuels now filled by petroleum.

    A billion tons of biomass would make a pretty large pile. And that's the amount needed yearly to replace just one-third of the transportation fuel we use.

  15. Yes, that's a starting point. 1.3 billion tons of biomass a year to displace 1/3 of US demand for transportation fuels. Transportation fuels are about 1/4 of US energy usage, so 1.3 billion tons of biomass a year to displace 1/12 of US energy usage for 305 million people. Or 1.3 billion tons of biomass a year to displace the energy used by 25 million americans. How many billion tons of biomass can one sustainably harvest from the world each year?

  16. How many billion tons of biomass can one sustainably harvest from the world each year?

    Clee,

    In 2007, the total U.S. corn harvest was 13.3 billion bushels. At 56 lbs/bushel that was 744.8 billion pounds of corn, or 0.37 billion tons.

    Of course there are many other sources of biomass than just corn, but that 0.37 billion tons of corn (the entire harvest) could have supplied the complete energy needs of roughly 7.1 million Americans — a bit less than the population of the State of Virginia.

  17. Is the energy density of wood much higher than that of switchgrass?

    They are about the same.

    Reading the Forest Solutions website, it looks like they do Native Forest Stewardship and Commercial Forestry. Are those mutually exclusive divisions? They mention Eucalyptus plantations for Commercial Forestry, but I don't think Eucalyptus are native to Hawaii.

    Those are not mutually exclusive divisions. And no, eucalyptus is not native, but then neither are most of the crops grown for food here (and then again, neither are humans). Eucalyptus is pretty easy to manage though. It isn't like some of these species that spread out all over the place. You can think of it much more like a traditional crop.

    RR

  18. In general, I think oil-bearing trees are doable as they are planted once, and last fro decades.

    I agree. In fact, I have investigated a number of them. I loved the idea of olives (food and fuel) but it seems that olives don't do well here.

    RR

  19. The very short version of their study is that it would take 1.3 billion tons of biomass a year to displace one-third of the demand for transportation fuels now filled by petroleum.

    A billion tons of biomass would make a pretty large pile. And that's the amount needed yearly to replace just one-third of the transportation fuel we use.
    Missing the point (again), Wendell? The billion ton study also concluded that the US can sustainably produce the said 1.3 billion tons per year. Large pile or not.

    Like Benny implies, if you price the product right, it probably is enough…

  20. We don't need biofuel for transportation. Or to fill all the energy needs of anyone. It sounds like there's plenty available for aviation and industrial uses. Of course,we'll try to make enough biofuel for transportation. But,biofuels will see the same price increases as gasoline,so people will switch to EV's anyway.

    Did I miss the lumber or fuel debate?

  21. Wendell wrote: "How many billion tons of biomass can one sustainably harvest from the world each year?
    Clee,
    In 2007, the total U.S. corn harvest was 13.3 billion bushels"

    And here I thought Wendell was one of those people who thought corn was not sustainably grown in the US. Well, I'll probably run across a study some day that addresses my question on a global level as the Billion Ton Study does on the national level.

  22. Large pile or not.

    Optimist,

    But the billion ton study doesn't address the logistics of collecting and moving that large pile of 1.3 billion tons of biomass around.

    Just think of the millions of tons (billions for all I know) of leaves that are falling to the ground this month across the US, Canada, and Europe. Every autumn in the northern hemisphere there may be enough biomass in just the leaves that fall off the trees.

    But the problem of collecting those leaves from such a huge and spread out area would be the long pole in the tent.

    And here I thought Wendell was one of those people who thought corn was not sustainably grown in the US.

    Clee,

    I completely missed the word sustainable in that sentence. Of course you are right, growing corn is not sustainable w/o fossil fuel inputs and is not a very good example. But it is interesting it would take the entire U.S. corn harvest to supply just the energy needs of the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 2007, there were 90 million acres of corn planted in the U.S. So just looking at corn — and forgetting that it is unsustainable w/o fossil fuel inputs — it would have taken 90 million acres of corn to supply the energy needs of the 7+ million people in Virginia.

    Try and scale that up for 300 million people, and we'd quickly be out of room.

    Best,

    Wendell <— slapping palm to forehead

  23. "But the billion ton study doesn't address the logistics of collecting and moving that large pile of 1.3 billion tons of biomass around."

    Most of the biomass already gets moved. Forests get pruned. Trash gets picked up. Farmers take their harvest to market. The logistics don't necessarily change. Just put the bio-refineries at the collection points. That's pretty much what's happened with ethanol.

  24. Thanks guys for all the conversions to billions of tons, exceptionally big piles of biomass, most of it planted, fertilized, watered, weeded and harvested – makes barely enuf fuel volume for one small eastern state.

    How about a few big, dedicated coal mines, or hundreds of large stranded sources of methane without a market, or a few thousand MSW garbage, sewer sludge, tire piles or mountains of petcoke?

    Don't grow anything!

    Instead, cleanly convert these other 'heavier' sources of abundant and cheaper carbons instead. Make LOTS more fuel volumes, produce lots more revenue, decentralize yet concentrate on economies of scale here, not 'tiny' village-sized conversion plants.

    This is my point entirely. There isn't enough carbon contained in annual crops which become dedicated to fuel issues, not food issues. It is looking the wrong way and a mistaken agri-movement for biomass carbon will come up far short as a feedstock mechanism.

    One t of stranded methane could operate a 15,000 bpd GTL plant for it's effective lifetime of 30-40 years. There are 200 t's of stranded methane up in Alaska. 15,000 bpd = 215 mgpy size range.

    Also, there is enuf waste flare gas available from offshore oil platforms globally to float 500 to 1,000 brand new GTL refineries. Think about just about anything other than planting dedicated liquid energy crops.

    There are none so blind as those that cannot see. (Moody Blues)

    -Cliff

  25. "One t of stranded methane could operate a 15,000 bpd GTL plant for it's effective lifetime of 30-40 years."

    If only it were possible. Some very clever scientists are working on it,but there's no commercially viable GTL process for stranded methane.

  26. “a bit less than the population of the State of Virginia.”

    Do you know anything about Virginia?

    Why would the people in Virginia try to meet their energy needs with corn?

    Wendell, you keep a making statements of places and things you have only read about in wiki.

    The southeast is an overgrown jungle. My company has plans to build 10 50 – MWe waste biomass generating stations. A new coal plant is being built not far from where I live that will use 10 % biomass.

    I do not give a rat's behind what 'happened in England 500 years ago'. You start a journey by taking one step. I expect that my company might fail with it biomass plants. I will be amazed if RR's company will ever produce any energy. Failure is the risk of starting a journey. However, failure is guaranteed if you do not start.

    The standard in the US for producing electricity is to do it safely with insignificant environmental impact. Renewable energy does not get a free pass. The reason I think my company will be more successful than RR's is that my company has a bigger legal department. Carl Pope makes a living weeping over trees. Big city lawyers make a living opposing power projects. They do not care about the environment or sustainability. They care about donations to support their lavish lifestyle. They are looking for useful idiots to send them money.

  27. Why would the people in Virginia try to meet their energy needs with corn?

    Kit,

    They wouldn't of course. It would be folly to grow corn in Nebraska to supply the energy needs of Virginians, just as it would be folly to grow corn to supply anyone else's energy needs.

    That was just an example to give an idea of the scale involved – a "thought experiment" if you will.

    The yearly U.S. corn harvest could supply the energy needs of about 7.1 million people (were we dumb enough to want to do that) which is close to the population of Virgina. Realizing 90 million acres of corn could supply the energy needs of only one medium-sized state helps puts the problem in perspective.

    I do not give a rat's behind what 'happened in England 500 years ago.'

    You should. They had an extremely small carbon footprint compared to the people in today's developed countries, and still they almost denuded their entire country of trees to meet their rather meager energy needs before they discovered coal was abundant in England and made a better fuel.

    It has become trite, but the words of philosopher George Santayana are worth remembering: "Those
    who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

  28. @ KitP
    A plaque on my wall is of a basketball and notes "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take!"

    There is a rather fantastic difference between England of a few hundred years past where everything (except the kings forest) was cut and not replaced and today where varieties are specifically bred and planted for suitable characteristics.

  29. There is a rather fantastic difference between England of a few hundred years past and today where varieties are specifically bred and planted for suitable characteristics.

    Russ,

    There is also a rather fantastic difference between the energy a person living in 16th century England used and what you and I consume today.

    The 16th century England deforestation model even exists today in this hemisphere — just look at Haiti.

  30. Lot of news this morning about an article in Science magazine yesterday: Tallying the Real Environmental Cost of Biofuels

    "But the question is, Are biofuels really green? A pair of new studies in the Oct. 22 issue of Science damningly demonstrate that the answer is no, at least not the way we currently create and use them. In the first study, a team of researchers led by Jerry Melillo of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., projected the effects of a major biofuel expansion over the coming century and found that it could end up increasing global greenhouse-gas emissions instead of reducing them."

  31. "just look at Haiti."

    Perfect example of why the poorest will suffer the most from peak oil. Worse comes to worse,we build a boatload of nuclear plants and ride turbo-charged Segways. Third world countries don't have that option. They'll spend what they have on food,and cut down trees to cook it. Assuming they haven't eaten the tree roots already.

  32. A person can look at Haiti all they want. It is a perfect example of corruption and a government that could care less about it's people.

    For the Haitians to try to work their way out of that hole now is very difficult. Most, if not all, of Africa is in the same boat except from Africa they try to get to Europe rather than the US.

    Most natural trees do not grow as rapidly as the various cultivars of the parent stock do. Trees in old England and trees today are very different things – especially any type that someone would look at using for biomass.

  33. But the billion ton study doesn't address the logistics of collecting and moving that large pile of 1.3 billion tons of biomass around.
    Well, the study was a first step: an estimate to see what might be available. The sort of thing most process engineers do to see if a particular project is worth pursuing. A yes at this step means only that further investigation is warranted. It is not the same thing as concluding that the project is a go: it is just the first step.

    Concerning the transportation issue: there would be several ways to address that issue, including fast pyrolysis and gasification. Throwing your hands up and announcing it can't be done, is not a helpful contribution.

    But the problem of collecting those leaves from such a huge and spread out area would be the long pole in the tent.
    My understanding is that the billion ton study restricted itself to the biomass that can reasonably be collected, and did NOT include every leaf that drops in a forest somewhere.

    Thanks guys for all the conversions to billions of tons, exceptionally big piles of biomass, most of it planted, fertilized, watered, weeded and harvested – makes barely enuf fuel volume for one small eastern state.
    I think the point of the billion ton study was that we already produce this biomass as a byproduct of agriculture and forestry. So the fertilizing, watering and weeding will happen, regardless.

    I do not give a rat's behind what 'happened in England 500 years ago'.
    Couldn't agree more, Kit!

    The 16th century England deforestation model even exists today in this hemisphere — just look at Haiti.
    Bad leadership will screw up the best of countries, quite independent of the available resources. Just look at Zimbabwe…

  34. True Russ. But,Haiti is also what half the world will look like in 20 years. 16,000 children die of hunger related causes every day. A billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. Another billion live on less than $2.00 a day. What do you think all those people will do when it costs $3.00 a day to survive? They'll do just like the Haitians,and scavage everything around them. We either come up with affordable energy inputs for farming,or much of the world starves. And time is running out…

  35. We either come up with affordable energy inputs for farming,or much of the world starves. And time is running out…

    Perhaps it's time to acknowledge we've exceeded the earth's carrying capacity.

    Malthus was right, he just wasn't aware of the technology that would delay his prediction.

    Maybe there is a technology out there that will delay the Malthusian catastrophe further, but other than rapid advances in fusion power, I don't know what they might be. The other technologies we are working on will only delay the inevitable by small increments.

  36. Perhaps it's time to acknowledge we've exceeded the earth's carrying capacity.
    Based on what? BS and pessimism? Is there even a theoretical basis for this statement? Please point it out ot me, so that I may proceed to point out its inaccuracies and unvalid assumptions.

    Malthus was right, he just wasn't aware of the technology that would delay his prediction.
    Malthus has been wrong for 200 hundred years. Remember, he predicted the meltdown of society in the next decade. Somehow the Malthusians (like the supporters of hydrogen power) continue to believe that they'll be proven right in the next 20 years.

    Good luck with that!

    In between the whining, you may notice the rest of us coming up with solutions…

  37. WENDELL,

    I recently read an article that claimed we had already exceeded the earth's regenrerarative capacity as far back as 1981.

    How many people can the earth support ? Ten billion ? 50 billion ? 300 billion.
    And everybody wants their "personal transportation device to boot. (the gasoline powered, intr=ernal combusdtion engined automobilr)

    We already have nearly one billion ICE vehicles on the road. Let's "Hurry on down and build another billion." This is the answer ?

    We are already in trouble. We have been "resource mining" the planet for some time already.

    The answer ? ….Lets figure some some way to grind up trees to fuel thew ICE.

    Yup,

    Let's hurry and try to get another another 10 billion people on the planet, all of them wanting internal combustion engined automobiles.

    You can see the absurdity of it.

    Johndessemi

  38. One farmer, with one John Deere tractor can, by inputting 2,500 gallons of diesel (or corn oil) produce Four Million, Four Hundred and Eighty Thousand Pounds of Corn. (500 X 160 X 56.)

    BTW, if you removed the oil from one-fifth of the corn you would have enough oil to run the tractor, and harvestor.

    He can do all of this, and still sell the corn on the open market for Six, or Seven Cents/lb.

    If you took the 4,480,000 lbs of corn and divided by 365 you would get enough corn to give 12,274 People a pound of corn every day.

    Malthus was a Crank.

  39. …and did NOT include every leaf that drops in a forest somewhere.

    That's right. We need to let those leaves lay where they fall so in a hundred million years or so they can become coal and become a valuable source of energy-dense fuel for some future race of people.

  40. One farmer, with one John Deere tractor can, by inputting 2,500 gallons of diesel (or corn oil) produce Four Million, Four Hundred and Eighty Thousand Pounds of Corn. (500 X 160 X 56.)

    And how many tons of nitrogen fertilizer made with natural gas; and how many tons of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides made from oil; and how many acre-feet of water (pumped from the Ogallala Aquifer if the farmer is in Nebraska, Kansas, the Texas Panhandle, eastern Colorado or Wyoming, or South Dakota)?

  41. In the U.S., alone, we could easily plant 200 million acres of corn. That would be 400,000 farms such as the one above. 400,000 X 12,274 = 4,909,600,000.

    Our farmers, by planting 20% of our arable acres in corn could provide Four Billion, Nine Hundred Million People with one pound of corn every day. And, That's just American Farmers using 20% of our Arable Land.

  42. Wendell, you just sound silly when you start talking like that. Farmers are using less nitrogen fertilizer every year. Heck, a lot of them didn't use Any this year, and we've got just about the biggest yield in history.

    Herbicides, pesticides? The oil input is almost negligible, and will eventually be replaced, anyway.

    He was a crank, Wendell. As was the Erlichs, and the rest of the "die-off" crowd. You've been hanging around the Oil Drum too much.

  43. Maury said: If only it were possible. Some very clever scientists are working on it,but there's no commercially viable GTL process for stranded methane.

    You better tell Shell, the Qataris, and the Pearl GTL project quick! They've already flown planes on GTL fuels, and are constructing a full scale plant. (Not a pretend one like all those biofuels outfits).

  44. Farmers are using less nitrogen fertilizer every year. Farmers are using less nitrogen fertilizer every year. Heck, a lot of them didn't use any this year…

    Just tell me how much they used, that's all I asked. You said a corn farmer with a John Deere needed only 2500 gallons of diesel. All I want to know is how many tons of ag chemicals that same farmer would have used.

    Why do the farmers in my neck of the woods complain so much about the high price of nitrogen if they don't need any?

    Are you trying to tell me there are corn farmers that are applying no nitrogen? Where? Not here in the upper Midwest.

    Without nitrogen their yields would quickly be back in the 40-50 bu/acre range my Grandfather got on his corn/hog/dairy farm in the 1940s.

  45. "Based on what? BS and pessimism? Is there even a theoretical basis for this statement?"

    How about the 20,000 people who died of hunger today? Should they just keep their chin up Optimist?

    "Our farmers, by planting 20% of our arable acres in corn could provide Four Billion, Nine Hundred Million People with one pound of corn every day. And, That's just American Farmers using 20% of our Arable Land."

    What good is a pound of corn to someone who can't afford it Rufus? Ethanol prices rise or fall along with gasoline. Peak oil means peak ethanol prices. The price of rice,wheat,and corn will go through the roof. We know,because they doubled,tripled,or quadrupled when oil hit $140 a barrel.

    Much is being made of the current glut of US natural gas. But,natural gas did a moonshot of its own when oil shot up. So did coal. Fossil fuels tend to rise and fall in tandem. Unless a cheap and abundant biofuel comes to the rescue,food will soon be priced out of the reach of most of the world's population.

  46. Robert, this is off topic, so I hope you don't mind.

    The American public is increasingly becoming skeptical that humans are responsible for global warming.
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Poll-US-belief-in-global-apf-140130666.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=3&asset=&ccode=

    "Only about a third, or 36 percent of the respondents, feel that human activities — such as pollution from power plants, factories and automobiles — are behind a temperature increase. That's down from 47 percent from 2006 through last year's poll."

    Could you perhaps address this in a future post? Does this mean that all of us have to revise down the price of carbon in our future modeling (assuming global cap and trade is phased in)?

    What are the implications of this?

  47. "Herbicides, pesticides? The oil input is almost negligible, and will eventually be replaced, anyway."

    Replaced by what? Do you have some inside information?

  48. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    Thanks Wendell, had not heard that before!

    It is not enough to remember the past. We must learn the root cause to correct the problem so it does not happen again.

    Wendell gets his information journalists at Time magazine. It is kind of like the public service announcement about not smoking. Stupid people do not learn but why should the 75% of the people who have learned from the past be lectured by idiots?

    What was the root cause of the destruction of forest?

    Manifest destiny was the mindset before President Theodore Roosevelt. It was our destiny to conquer the world and nature.

    Since then we have mindset of being stewards of the environment. The US had the benefit of learning from Europe. Our founding fathers made it difficult

    For the last 75 years the amount of forest land has been expanding in the US.

    Contrary to what some journalist might tell Wendell and so he can pass it on us, using biomass as an energy source is being done with a great deal of stewardship. There will be failures and hopefully we can learn from them.

  49. Wendell wrote: "I do not give a rat's behind what 'happened in England 500 years ago.'
    You should. They had an extremely small carbon footprint compared to the people in today's developed countries, and still they almost denuded their entire country of trees"

    Oh? Wendell, what was the per capita carbon footprint of England 500 years ago? Does burning biomass count towards a carbon footprint? If not, then I hardly see how that statistic would be relevant to the question of denuding the land of trees. More interesting would be the tons of biomass consumed per capita in England 500 years ago. Do you have that number?

  50. Maury, Oil is $80.00 bbl, due to an incredibly cool summer, and rainy fall virtually NO corn has been harvested, yet, and Still, you can buy all the corn you want for slightly more than $0.07/lb.

    Corn spiked last year because a bunch of rookie traders thought that the severe 50 year flood (that we get about every 15 years) would lead to a decimation of the corn harvest (I told them they were on shaky ground, btw.)

  51. Does burning biomass count towards a carbon footprint?

    Clee,

    Of course it does. Burning corn, trees, dead leaves, coal, or oil, its all biomass ~ it's just a question of the amount of time that has passed since the biomass grew until someone used it as fuel.

    Corn ~ A matter of months since it began growing.

    Trees ~ perhaps 20-40 years after they started growing.

    Coal ~ 300 million years since the biomass that turned into coal began growing.

    Kit asked: What was the root cause of the destruction of forest?

    Kit,

    The root cause wasn't a lack of stewardship (although I'll admit there wasn't much of that). The root cause was that more people wanted to stay warm and cook their food than there were trees for them to do it with, especially after England's iron and glass industries began to develop and began using charcoal as their prime energy source. (And of course charcoal is made from wood.)

    As I said, one of the main drivers pushing the colonization of North America was that it had a huge supply of virgin forest the Europeans coveted since they had just about consumed all of theirs. The main reason for the colony at Jamestown was to start a glassworks where there was an abundance of wood with which to make charcoal.

    What saved England's forests and kept them from becoming a Haiti, was their discovery of how much better coal and coke was for iron and steel works instead of charcoal, and that England had a goodly amount of it.

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Thanks Wendell, had not heard that before!"

    Don't feel so offended ~ I told you in advance it was trite. But sometimes even what is trite and clichéd is applicable.

  52. Go in your garage. Take down the container of Roundup. Take the lid off. Tell me how much "Oil" you see.

    Guys, "oil" isn't magical. It's a hydrocarbon. You can make it out of anything. (that's ever lived, that is.)

  53. How about the 20,000 people who died of hunger today? Should they just keep their chin up Optimist?
    Oh, come on Maury! Keep it above the belt please!

    20,000 unnecessary deaths is indeed a tragedy, especially as there is no fundamental (read: resource-related) reason for their deaths.

    Explain to me, Maury, why starvation is a problem in Africa, a continent that may well supply the planet with food, if it was under different management (see Zimbabwe before 2000 and now). Why is Nigeria so poor, even though it is a major oil supplier? Why is Haiti so poor, compared to neighboring Dominican Republic?

    The answer in every case is parasitic leadership – usually with fat Swiss bank accounts and real estate on the French Riviera. Resource limitations is NOT a factor.

    And, as Rufus mentioned, Malthus is still a crank. And a crank whose ideas contributed much to the severity famine in India: During the British Raj, India experienced some of the worst famines ever recorded, including the Great Famine of 1876–78, in which 6.1 million to 10.3 million people died and the Indian famine of 1899–1900, in which 1.25 to 10 million people died. Recent research, including work by Mike Davis and Amartya Sen, attribute these famines directly to British policy in India.

    British policy over which Mr. Malthus had some direct influence. So rather than help us manage famines, malthusians contribute to the severity of famines (Can't save those poor people – things will only get worse in future…). You want to be a part of that, Maury?

  54. "A billion people live on less than $1.25 a day."

    Maury, congratulations! You are today's winner of the Rufus Award for obtuse persistence.

    Yes, a lot of human beings are struggling along on very little — just as most humans did before the adoption of fossil fuels. If we were moral creatures, we would do what was necesary to help them get the power supplies necessary for a life with dignity. Unfortunately, there are lots of silly people in the West who would rather see huamn beings die than build a nuclear power plant.

    But there may yet be justice. If the Big One ever hits, who do you think is going to survive — the urbanised Californicated leftist who depends on daily supplies of imported white wine & brie from his neighborhood mega-market, or the Bangladeshi peasant who has been scratching his own living from the soil all his life?

  55. "You want to be a part of that, Maury?"

    I believe in learning from history Optimist,and what happened with the oil spike of '07 is bound to happen again. Burying our heads in the sand won't stop it.

    "Maury, Oil is $80.00 bbl,…….and Still, you can buy all the corn you want for slightly more than $0.07/lb."

    $4 a bushel Rufus. And when oil hits $140 a barrel,corn will be $8 a bushel.

    "Corn hasn’t reached $4 per bushel since late June on its way down from a brief rally that took it to a 2008 high of $4.60. Soybeans hit a high of $10.60 in late June, then fell back. By late August corn had fallen to $3.10 per bushel and soybeans to $8.80 per bushel.

    Commodity broker Don Roose of US Commodities in West Des Moines said two forces that normally work in corn’s favor – a falling dollar and rising crude oil prices – were present in the markets today."

    http://tinyurl.com/ygyz6ex

  56. "If we were moral creatures, we would do what was necesary to help them get the power supplies necessary for a life with dignity."

    I'm talking about starvation Kinuach. Poor people can't eat nuclear power. They can't farm with it either. All the morals in the world can't produce cheap food in the necessary quantities with peak oil. Not as things stand today.

  57. Wendell Merc. said "What saved England's forests and kept them from becoming a Haiti, was their discovery of how much better coal and coke was for iron and steel works instead of charcoal, and that England had a goodly amount of it."

    There was also the fact that they "discovered" Ireland's trees and cut them all down first.

    Optimist said: "Recent research … attribute[s] these famines directly to British policy in India… British policy over which Mr. Malthus had some direct influence."

    Same with Ireland — British laissez faire economics, combined with the fact that Malthus himself had already written the Irish off as "hopeless" caused the Irish famine that killed a million people.

    (Disclaimer: I've no beef with the Brits, but as an Irishman am required to bitch about them every now and again)

  58. Power supplies, including electricity, enable the poor to work into the night making things they can sell in the market so they can buy more food. The markets can also stay open later. With electricity to power a village phone, they can find out market prices of their goods so they can know what is in demand and sell where they get the best price. Remote clinics can keep vaccines properly refrigerated so people can stay healthier and continue working. Electricity can run water pumps to irrigate their fields. A little bit of electricity can go a long way to improving life.

    Though I tend to agree with those here who say corrupt governments may be the biggest factor.

  59. Clee wrote "…I don't think Eucalyptus are native to Hawaii".

    They are Australian. In fact they can cause serious problems in other areas from leaf litter that poisons the soil against other plants and from deep roots lowering the water table away from other plants.

    Wendell Mercantile wrote "In the 15th and 16th centuries, England almost denuded their entire country of trees when they were depending on them as their primary source of energy".

    No, coal was in common use by then where it was available (London got it by sea), and significant areas also used peat, while most wood fuel used domestically came from managed uses like coppicing, pollarding and by "hook or crook" rather than from felled trees. Also, mechanical energy was from other forms of energy, e.g. water power. The key factor was the other one mentioned, needing wood to make charcoal, mostly for iron – which also used water power. "Of course, coal came to the rescue in England" is wrong until 18th century advances allowed it to be used to make iron; "What saved England's forests and kept them from becoming a Haiti, was their discovery of how much better coal and coke was for iron and steel works instead of charcoal" is wrong, because they aren't – until you know to use lime as well. "…they ended up cutting down almost every tree in the country and then had to look across the Atlantic for more" is also wrong. Britain looked to the Baltic Trade for that, not North America; that was just second sourcing and mercantilist attempts to secure an alternative.

    So "They had an extremely small carbon footprint compared to the people in today's developed countries, and still they almost denuded their entire country of trees to meet their rather meager energy needs before they discovered coal was abundant in England and made a better fuel" is a complete misreading of what happened and why, and would lead to the wrong lessons being drawn: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". The 16th century England deforestation model does not exist today in your hemisphere; Haiti is following a different pattern (ironically, more like that of the myth "The root cause was that more people wanted to stay warm and cook their food than there were trees for them to do it with" – though the Haitians are on a charcoal kick too).

    PeteS wrote 'There was also the fact that they "discovered" Ireland's trees and cut them all down first'. That's plain wrong. There were fewer trees in much of the geography in the first place, and little that was felled there went to England.

    Optimist wrote "Malthus has been wrong for 200 hundred years. Remember, he predicted the meltdown of society in the next decade."

    No, he wasn't, and no, he didn't. He feared and warned against an imminent possibility, which as luck and good management would have it was averted at the time. So his general principles weren't invalidated, and his specific near term "predictions" just weren't that specific or near term, or even predictions. He even played a part in that good management; would you take heeding a warning to good effect as evidence that the warning was wrong?

  60. RR Said, "The right trees are ideal sources of biomass if they are properly managed."

    By your use of the plural I take it you've considered species interspersal; and perhaps even the possibilities of forest gardening to further improve the soils?

  61. Maury said, "Worse comes to worse,we build a boatload of nuclear plants"

    "Worse comes to worse", indeed! You apply an appropriate phraseology. To fulfill your metaphor, that boat don't float.

  62. russ said, "England of a few hundred years past where everything (except the kings forest) was cut and not replaced"

    But the trees were replaced… with sheep! At least, this is what happened in Scotland. Doing so prevented the forests from regrowing. Today, the challenge is to prevent the deer from razing the new forest growth in the absence of predators. It takes a lot of energy – fossil and human – to renew a dead forest.

  63. P.M.Lawrence wrote: PeteS wrote 'There was also the fact that they "discovered" Ireland's trees and cut them all down first'. That's plain wrong. There were fewer trees in much of the geography in the first place, and little that was felled there went to England.

    Rather than get confrontational you could provide some references (like this for instance). Irish forests were extensive up until the 1600s. You say "fewer" — fewer than what? Fewer than neolithic times, certainly, but nevertheless "extensive". If you know anything about Irish history, much Irish land was confiscated in Tudor times by the Brits. I said the English cut the trees down, I didn't say the trees went to England. Whether they were cleared for pasture, for shipbuilding, for coopering, or for export, it was done by the English for the benefit of the English, and displaced English trees that would otherwise have been felled.

  64. Clee said…

    Power supplies, including electricity, enable the poor to work into the night making things they can sell in the market so they can buy more food. The markets can also stay open later. With electricity to power a village phone, they can find out market prices of their goods so they can know what is in demand and sell where they get the best price. Remote clinics can keep vaccines properly refrigerated so people can stay healthier and continue working. Electricity can run water pumps to irrigate their fields. A little bit of electricity can go a long way to improving life.

    ——————————-

    Thanks for posting this comment. Exactly.

    The fact that an East Indian company is exporting one and a half million solar lanterns to South Africa ought to tell you something.

    The country with the most per capita solar roofs ?

    Germany ? California ?

    No, It's Kenya.

    Yes, these are micro-solar installations ranging from 14 to 28 watts, but Kenya has more solar roofs (on a per capita basis) than anywhere.The movement is spreading to Uganda.

    There are companies in South India that have regular routes servicing their micro-solar customers.

    John

  65. John said, "Yes, these are micro-solar installations ranging from 14 to 28 watts, but Kenya has more solar roofs (on a per capita basis) than anywhere.

    John, all things considered, what is happening in Kenya is a great thing. However, your scale is somewhat misleading. It will be difficult to wean Americans from their wide-screens and video games in order to make such miniscule solar wattage valuable.

    Thinking globally, rather than being focused on the number of solar roofs, should we not be focused on the number of watts per capita?

  66. Rate Crimes,

    True, Germany is the world leader in solar by any number of parameters.

    The point was that even in "poor" countries solar is providing significant power. When you can run a light bulb or transistor radio or small TV for a couple hours every night, it's a big deal.

    Now solar re-charging cell-phones are allowing farmers to stay in touch with local markets as Clee mentioned.

    For the 2 billion people world-wide without electricity, solar is a modest but "right now" solution to no electricity.

    Yes, solar cells are still relatively expensive (and many of the farmers in Kenya have to "finance" their very modest solar outfits), but it beats waiting decades for someone to come build large centralized power plants and new transmission lines.

    John

  67. It takes a lot of energy – fossil and human – to renew a dead forest.

    Curious thing is, that in Nigeria, they renewed the trees without using fossil energy. Instead what they did was to stop clearing saplings from their fields before planting crops.
    http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/02/11/news/niger.php
    Trees and crops reclaim desert in Niger
    In this dust-choked region, long seen as an increasingly barren wasteland decaying into desert, millions of trees are flourishing, thanks in part to poor farmers whose simple methods cost little or nothing at all. … without relying on the large- scale planting of trees

    John. Huh. It didn't occur to me that the Kenyans would put their PV on their roofs, particularly if it's just one panel's worth. Do they really?

    Rate Crimes, Spain seems to have surpassed Germany in watts per capita last year.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_the_European_Union

  68. "$8.00 bu would still just be $0.14/lb."

    Good point Rufus. The world already grows 200 lbs. of corn per person. Half of it goes to fatten up our t-bone steaks and fried chicken. Cows eat better than a billion malnourished people.

  69. Thanks, Clee. You're right, Spain has made a dramatic surge, due in great part to a temporary incentive program. You will notice that Germany's programs have led to a steadier growth that is not only reflected in the MW installed, but has also created a strong solar engineering and manufacturing industry.

  70. Clee said, "Curious thing is, that in Nigeria, they renewed the trees without using fossil energy. Instead what they did was to stop clearing saplings from their fields before planting crops."

    That's a wise solution for that situation. In the Scottish Highlands near Lock Ness, is created a scattering of fenced forest 'islands' to prevent the deer from stripping the saplings in winter. In a human generation or so, these islands become established and other barren areas are fenced. Eventually, after several human generations, a mosaic of species trees of varying ages will emerge to create a self-sustaining forest. You can learn more at Trees for Life.

    Not only does it take a lot of energy to accmomplish this feat over time, but the energy required to remove the invasive species is enormous. If you've ever spent a day cutting Gorse on a cold, wet day in Scotland, you would understand just how much whiskey is required.

  71. Germany will now be reducing the FIT offered I read as the socialists and greens are out of the power seats.

    Te German FIT of sixty cents US per kWh seems a bit expensive. Nice for those who can take advantage I guess.

    Spain is backing way off their program – too expensive.

  72. Rufus said,

    Maury, $8.00 bu would still just be $0.14/lb.

    The use of pounds instead of bushels looks like a ham handed attempt at obfuscating changes in corn prices.

    Pricing gasoline using the Rufus approach gives the following results.

    $4.00 gasoline is only $0.06 for every two fluid ounces, and doubling the price of gasoline to $8.00 a gallon would only increase the price of gasoline to the bargain basement level of $0.12 for every two fluid ounces.

    Do you think we should start looking at gasoline in increments of 2 fluid ounces, not gallons?

    If not why should we look at the price of corn in pounds instead of bushels?

    Duracomm

  73. I don't know; How many Bushels of Corn do you suppose you could eat in a Day?

    Do you buy your Corn Flakes by the "Bushel?"

    Do you buy you Hamburger meat, or steaks, by the bushel?

    I'm simply trying to frame it in something that's relevant. Most people couldn't tell you how many pounds are in a bushel; but they could tell you about how many pounds of corn flakes are in a box.

  74. Clee said:

    John. Huh. It didn't occur to me that the Kenyans would put their PV on their roofs, particularly if it's just one panel's worth. Do they really?

    ——————————–

    I recently sent my brother a picture of some African setups. They use poles, sometimes multiple poles in the ground separate from the house..

    In India they often install directly on the roof or put a small strut attached to the rafters, up through the roof.

    At least that's the way they were doing it in the short film I watched on the subject.

    John

  75. Anonymous picked the winner of the survival competition as: "The Californian with the bank account and the means to move somewhere else."

    Sorry, wrong answer. The Bangaldeshi peasant survives the Big One, continuing to live at a very basic level. The urbanized Californicated leftie dies off.

    The reason is quite obvious. After the Big One, the leftie's bank balance (if he even has one) is worthless, there is nowhere to escape to and no way to get there even if there was — at least, not for an urban leftie who is living on the backs of others.

    It is fascinating that so many well-meaning people can get exercised about the "sustainability" of fossil fuels — but pay no attention to the non-sustainability of a society where President Obama is spending $3 for every $2 he takes in. To make it worse, Social Security (and its clones around the world) are non-sustainable Ponzi schemes — which every serious person knows.

    Nothing is too big to fail. General Motors went very rapidly from the world's largest auto manufacturer to a bankrupt failure get alive only by subsidies from unwilling taxpayers. The Soviet Union went from world-bestriding socialist paradise to nothing in only a few years. Do you think the same thing can't happen to Germany, to Britain, to the United States?

    After the Big One, the survivors will not include the taxpayer-dependent drones of the urbanized Californicated leftists. The survivors will be those with self-supporting communities and the will to keep them going — the Bangladeshi peasants, and maybe the Mormons.

  76. Kinu-
    You may be surprised who survives.
    Rural areas in the USA benefit to the tune of about $200 billion a year from federal infusions of cash, either though cross-subsidization of infrastructure, or crop subsidies.
    Out military sucks down another $600 billion a year, and then $200 billion more for Iraqistan.
    Without federal support, it is our military and rural areas that would depopulate.
    That money comes from urban residents.
    I always get a chuckle from libertarians and other right-wingers screaming about federal involvement in the economy.
    Sure, let's cut it back–let's end all direct subsidies, and cross subsidies, and scale-back our military.
    You will be surprised who ends up crying.

  77. Yep, the farmers will die off, and the City-dwellers will prosper. Benji, get a grip.

    BTW, almost all of your "Ag Subsidies" are things like School Lunches, Food Stamps, USAID, etc. That all comes under the "Farm Bill."

  78. Clee,

    Selco in India. You can see all this on dozens and dozens of You Tube videos. It's happening all over the world.

    Many rural areas world-wide adopt beginning to adopt solar.

    Someone recently mentioned the "non-linear" nature of technological advances here on R-Squared.

    This is a perfect example where the grid is being "leap-frog-ed"

    Dozens of videos on You Tube about all this. Take you pick.

    EIA stats lag by as much as 2 years. Material uploaded to You Tube is up-to-date.

    Find out what's really going on in the world.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGTO2Nm5lng&feature=related

    John

  79. I think that brings us to 4 Things NO Government wants you to have:

    1) The Internet

    2) A Rifle

    3) A Still

    4) A Solar Panel on your Roof

  80. Rufus,

    I think that brings us to 4 Things NO Government wants you to have: …………..

    The Teknokrats who desire to rule us hate independence of any kind. They want everyone to be reliant upon and subservient to the government (that they intend to run, of course)

    Someone once said "Power is an aphrodisiac as powerful as sex."

    They were probably right.

    John

    John

  81. Rufus-
    About one-half of the Ag budget is for food welfare, the other half is for farmer's welfare. I just looked at the Ag. Dept budget.
    Profitably run farms would stay in business.
    The subsidized rural areas would collapse and depopulate.
    According to the Tax Foundation, California funnels $50 billion to $60 billion net annually into DC, money that is given to other states, mostly red states.
    With just a couple nuke subs, and an activated Reserve, California could defend itself.
    My rough guess is that about $120 billion annually, now siphoned out of California and fed to military and rural areas, would instead stay in state, a huge stimulus.
    The right-wing never saw a rural subsidy it did not like. The left wing never saw a urban subsidy it did not like.
    What is remarkable is how much better the right-wing plays to subsidy and pork game.

  82. Benji, Benji, Benji, look at how much of the State of California's Income is from Defense, Aerospace, and Military. Taxpayers from all over the country is paying for that.

    Also, I don't know where you're going with all this; but, you do realize that Agriculture is California's largest industry, right?

  83. After the Big One, the leftie's bank balance (if he even has one) is worthless, there is nowhere to escape to and no way to get there even if there was

    After the Big One in 1906, the urbanized San Franciscans were able to flee. Some went by ferry, some went by land. The reality of earthquakes is not like the cartoons where California falls into the Pacific, or the movie 2012 where there apparently is a an enormous hollow cavern under Los Angeles, just waiting to swallow it up. These days people could be evacuated by helicopter in the rare case it becomes necessary. Some of the casualties of the 1906 earthquake were from buildings falling from the quake, most were from the subsequent fires. There was no mass die-off from starvation

    You think it would be different now that the population is greater? Then consider after Katrina, the tens of thousands or refugees stuck in the Superdome, empty bank accounts or not, were evacuated even though several bridges were destroyed. No one died there because of their inability to farm. The generosity of Americans during times of great natural disasters is vast.

    After the Big One, the survivors will not include the taxpayer-dependent drones of the urbanized Californicated leftists

    Funny. California, where over 90% of the population live in urban or suburban areas, only gets back about 80 cents for every dollar it sends to Washington. The ten states with the highest Federal Spending per Dollar of Federal Taxes, i.e. most taxpayer-dependent, are all rural states.
    http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/sr139.pdf

  84. It didn't occur to me that the Kenyans would put their PV on their roofs, particularly if it's just one panel's worth. Do they really?

    Clee,

    I don't know about Kenya, but they do in India. My daughter spent a year in India working for an NGO. One of the specialties of that NGO was helping off-the-grid villages get electrical power by putting PV arrays on house roofs and storing the energy for nighttime use in banks of 12-volt car batteries.

    It seems to be a fairly common arrangement in the houses in many rural Indian villages.

  85. rufus wrote: you do realize that Agriculture is California's largest industry, right?

    Actually it is not. Looking in
    http://www.bea.gov/regional/gsp/action.cfm
    The Gross Domestic Product of California in 2008 was $1,846 billion (all industry total). Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting was $27 billion, or just 1.5% of California's GDP. Some like to claim that California has driven out industry, but Manufacturing accounts for $181 billion of California's GDP, which is more than 6 times the size of agriculture.

  86. Actually, Clee, you seem to be correcit. They used to list agriculture as California's largest industry, but that was, probably compared to, say, aerospace, or computers, or whatnot (in other words, against "specific" manufacturing industries, not Manufacturing as a whole, etc.)

    Although, I admit, today's number (well, 05's, really) of $32 Billion is not a very big player, at all. Strange. I'm not blowing smoke. I got into this same discussion last year, and we looked it up, and got a completely different set of numbers. Perhaps, those just hadn't been updated for quite awhile.

    Anyways, you are right. It's way down there, now.

  87. "The generosity of Americans during times of great natural disasters is vast."

    Indeed. At the time of Katrina, I went along to help the Red Cross set up in the convention center of a neighboring city to receive evacuees from New Orleans. Volunteer helpers outnumbered evacuees many times over.

    But we need to be more expansive in our definition of the Big One. The US can handle natural disasters in Louisiana — or Thailand, for that matter. (Not that the Norwegians on the Nobel 'Pacifism is Peace' Prize Committee would ever notice). The Big One is the non-natural disaster.

    President Obama crashes the US economy and starts a civil war. The Chinese miscalculate and bring down the global economy. Iranian politicians behave like — well, Iranian politicians.

    And if the global Political Class manages to avoid those particular problems, we are still staring at entirely non-sustainable budgetary and social spending policies in much of the western world. Remember, Germany's trade surpluses are just as unsustainable as the US's trade deficits.

    As someone once pointed out — if things can't go on, then at some point they won't. We will get change, whether we are hoping for it or not. What remains to be seen is whether that change will be smooth or catastrophic.

    When you consider that the people in charge of the US Federal Government are, in the middle of the worst unemployment since the Great Depression, concentrating on things that will increase taxes and destroy even more jobs, you have to go with "catastrophic".

    In catastrophic change, the Bangladeshi peasant who grows his own food is more likely to survive than the Harvard lawyer whose only job skill is filling in forms in a government bureaucracy in Washington DC.

  88. "President Obama crashes the US economy and starts a civil war. The Chinese miscalculate and bring down the global economy. Iranian politicians behave like — well, Iranian politicians."

    My own pet fear is China invading the Middle East(for oil),and killing two billion people in the process. That particular bible prophecy sounded looney for a couple thousand years. Nobody could have an army of 200,000,000. And,it certainly wasn't possible for someone to wipe out a third of the worlds population. But,China is capable of doing both nowadays. And the Middle East actually has something they really,really want. Oil. Right now,these countries are cutting deals with the Chinese. The kind of deals they have a bad habit of breaking. If they have any sense at all,they won't be doing China like they have western oil companies.

  89. PeteS wrote "Rather than get confrontational you could provide some references…"

    I'm sorry you took it that way, I was merely trying to be brief after making such a wide range of factual corrections to so many posters. Rather than linking, I will spell out a few things that ought to speak for themselves but can be checked easily.

    'Irish forests were extensive up until the 1600s. You say "fewer" — fewer than what? Fewer than neolithic times, certainly, but nevertheless "extensive".'

    From context, fewer than England. England has no mountains, less bogland (from being somewhat further south), and less coast exposed to the Atlantic, as well as having a large chunk of (southern) land well suited to trees (the weald). But I am well aware that there was still much forest in Ireland, just not as much proportionally.

    "If you know anything about Irish history, much Irish land was confiscated in Tudor times by the Brits".

    None at all was – then. It was only the English who did that – then. Scots became involved later.

    "I said the English cut the trees down, I didn't say the trees went to England".

    I understand the distinction. The point I was trying to bring out was that none of this felling went towards, or was driven by, English fuel consumption, even for iron working. Nor did it, as you suggest, materially go towards the needs of English in Ireland who would otherwise have been adding to demand in England, because the numbers of people involved were so very small. I want to be very careful what I am covering here: it was before the later Ulster Scots, and after the slow steady drip of English arrivals over the Middle Ages. The former weren't there, and the latter were there anyway, not a removal from England. Only the Tudor additions made a difference, and of those only those who were additionally withdrawn from the English population for the wars in Ireland, not those who would have been withdrawn anyway for other campaigns – and that only leaves a few.

  90. P. M. Lawrence wrote, on the topic of Ireland's troubled history:
    "it was before the later Ulster Scots"

    Ah yes! We are now only tenuously connected to our host's original topic, but let's carry on.

    The English had problems with both the Irish and the Scots. The Political Class of the time came up with a "two birds with one stone" idea — Why not settle a bunch of Scots in Ireland to help the English rulers keep control? The Scots and the Irish at the time spoke mutually intelligible forms of Gaelic, but the Scots were Protestants (like their English overlords) while the Irish were still Catholics.

    And so they gave us the "Plantation of Ulster". Only problem was that the Scots were happy in Scotland. So English armies burned the roofs off their houses and drove the unwilling Scots down to the beaches where they were forcibly loaded up & transported to Ireland.

    The evil that (English) men do lives after them. Later, once the English had mastered fossil fuels, they went to China and (a mere 150 years ago) fought two separate wars with the Chinese to force the Chinese to open their doors to the opium trade. Queen Victoria became the world's largest drug pusher.

    This is not to pick on the English — although they are right up there with the French, Germans & Spanish in terms of the harm they did in the world. It is more to point out that empowering a small group of people as a Political Class is a "Bad Thing".

    Nowadays, the Political Class come in the form of the Copenhagen Climate Jamboree rather than ship-loads of drugs or unwilling Scots — but the results will be similar. Until the rest of us say no.

  91. P.M.Lawrence said: I'm sorry you took it that way, I was merely trying to be brief…

    No harm done.

    "If you know anything about Irish history, much Irish land was confiscated in Tudor times by the Brits".
    None at all was – then. It was only the English who did that – then. Scots became involved later.

    Am I misunderstanding some special definition of "Brit"? Britain wasn't then, and isn't now, a country. So by the very reasonable definition of a "Brit" as somebody who comes from the island of Great Britain, the English are Brits as much as the Scots or the Welsh. (Speaking of the latter, weren't the Tudors Welsh to begin with … offspring of Owain Tewdr?).

    The point I was trying to bring out was that none of this felling went towards, or was driven by, English fuel consumption, even for iron working. Nor did it, as you suggest, materially go towards the needs of English in Ireland who would otherwise have been adding to demand in England, because the numbers of people involved were so very small.

    And my point would be that from Tudor times onwards, land confiscations and plantations were for the benefit of English overlords, many (and eventually most) of whom were absentee landlords not living on their Irish estates. I am not implying that the process ended, or even reached its zenith, in Tudor times. My point is not even that settlers arrived in greater numbers later (although they did), but that by the end of the 18th century there were a mere 8,000 landlords from whom the majority of Irish land was rented. Since the peasant Irish workers made a subsistence living in a mostly cashless economy, it's a reasonable assertion that most of the productivity of the land, whether trees or anything else, was for the benefit of the Brits.

  92. WOW what a bizzare discusion.

    I could tell that this thread was cursed after post #2. Mokihanna and Pete, I demand you release Robert's Blog from your evil spell.

    Robert, if you have found a tiki shaped necklace recently, you need to get it back to the ancient burial ground before your next post.

    Or, you may have offended Kona, in which case you need to throw you laptop into the nearest volcano.

    Just trying to help.

  93. Regarding giving the price of corn in pounds instead of bushels rufus said,

    I'm simply trying to frame it in something that's relevant. Most people couldn't tell you how many pounds are in a bushel; but they could tell you about how many pounds of corn flakes are in a box.

    Someone without your long history of monomaniacal advocacy for ethanol might be able to make that argument.

    That history lends credence to the idea that pricing corn in pounds instead of bushels serves to obfuscate not illuminate.

    Duracomm

  94. WOW what a bizzare discussion.

    I do wish to thank everyone for the spirited discussion of what led to the deforestation of the British Isles 500 years ago, and whether there are any useable lessons in that as we try to shift more and more to a biomass-fueled world.

  95. Rufus said,

    I think that brings us to 4 Things NO Government wants you to have:

    1) The Internet

    2) A Rifle

    3) A Still

    4) A Solar Panel on your Roof

    Point number 1 crashes into facts on the ground here

    Finland makes 1Mb broadband access a legal right

    Finland's Ministry of Transport and Communications has made 1-megabit broadband Web access a legal right, YLE, the country's national broadcasting company, reported on Wednesday.

    Point number four does not hold up very well either.

    Solar Economics: Would You Pull A Lever to Get $12,000 if Somewhere in Massachusetts a Person Lost $58,000?

    But I began this post saying a solar investment might make sense. How? Well, that is where your willingness to reach into your neighbor’s pocket comes in. Our solar company estimates the following tax breaks and rebates on the system described above:

    1. Utility rebate: $35,280
    2. State income tax credit: $1,000
    3. Federal income tax credit: $21,650

    So, in building this $72,167 improvement on my house, I get to use $57,930 of other peoples’ money.

    Providing $22,000 worth of government tax credits to install solar is hardly the action of a government that does not want more solar installed.

    Duracomm

  96. Benjamin said,

    The subsidized rural areas would collapse and depopulate.

    Actually rural areas are already depopulating and probably the single biggest driver of this depopulation is government ag subsidies.

    The worse one probably being the terribly socially destructive CRP program.

    Ending ag subsidies would be a boon to rural america.

    Duracomm

  97. Duracomm said, "Providing $22,000 worth of government tax credits to install solar is hardly the action of a government that does not want more solar installed."

    Good point, even though I resist the implication that government works with a single, consistent purpose. Also, the purposes of such programs are not as straightforward (honest?) as they appear. Consider the analyses at http://ratecrimes.blogspot.com.

  98. Benjamin said,

    With just a couple nuke subs, and an activated Reserve, California could defend itself.

    Well good luck keeping the sea lanes california requires for imports and exports open with that force.

    California has harvested tremendous benefits from military spending over the years.

    Directly from the military bases in california and the military equipment that has been manufactured in california.

    Indirectly from the open shipping lanes and international stability resulting from the presence of the large US military.

    Duracomm

  99. Benjamin and Clee,

    California's problem is not the 20 % imbalance in federal tax payments it is the ruinous spending the california politicians have wallowed in.

    A good roundup of the california spending disaster can be found here.

    I Have Written a Whole Bunch of Columns and Blog Posts About the California Special Election and its Aftermath:

    So let's collect most of it in one place, in reverse chronological order, shall we?

    One example of california's problem is this

    The $499,000 Pension and Other Tales of California Governance:

    Why discuss gold-plated retirements when you can bemoan budget cuts that will "reshape" California?

    and

    California's Silent Big Spenders:

    Political class refuses to explain why the state requires hysterical spending growth.

  100. Ok, I promise to drop the question of who coveted whose woody perennials in Tudor England.

    Pete~

    I enjoyed your comments, no need to apologize. I find the whole subject fascinating and would like to know more.

    You and P.M. Lawrence have taught me a great deal about 15th and 16th century England and the British Isles I had not been aware of.

    Is there a good book either of you can recommend to read more about the subject?

  101. Let me get back to the topic. If you are building a 50 MW biomass plant in Virginia, you need to know the amount of biomass available in a 50 mile radius of that plant. You need to know something about roads and power lines.

    There will be public meetings. Please come and participate. You will be given 5 minutes to discuss biomass in England. Please wear your open toed samples with natural fiber socks. Please tell us about evil energy companies. You do not have to tell us you are from the city and drove 400 miles to tell us how to protect our environment. It goes without saying.

    The problem with calling up the naval reserve in California is that reservist was mostly likely born in Ohio. California and Germany have something in common. They talk about solar like it a viable source of electricity and they are protected by people born some place else.

  102. So, Duracomm,

    You think knowing the price of corn in pounds, as well as bushels, "Obfuscates," rather than "Illuminates," eh?

    But, only because the knowledge was imparted by "Me," not someone whose opinions on biofuels you agree with.

    Sheesh

  103. You will be given 5 minutes to discuss biomass in England. Please wear your open toed samples with natural fiber socks.

    Kit P.

    Open-toed sandels? Natural fiber socks? What exactly are you talking about?

  104. You think knowing the price of corn in pounds, as well as bushels, "Obfuscates," rather than "Illuminates," eh?

    Rufus~

    Why not give the price per kilogram? That should really confound everyone. 😉

  105. Wendell Mercantile, interesting.

    What is the cost per watt (depreciated fixed and marginal) from these small nuclear reactors? Is the marginal = about 2 cents per watt? Depreciated Fixed = about 10 cents per watt? About 12 cents overall, or the most expensive electricity available?

    Who would be a good nuclear industry luminary to invite for a conference?

  106. No, he wasn't, and no, he didn't. He feared and warned against an imminent possibility, which as luck and good management would have it was averted at the time. So his general principles weren't invalidated, and his specific near term "predictions" just weren't that specific or near term, or even predictions. He even played a part in that good management; would you take heeding a warning to good effect as evidence that the warning was wrong?
    Do we need to invent a new group, the Malthus-is-wrong deniers? The predicted meltdown, within the decade. Period.

    Please explain what part he took in good management, unless you are going to argue (as only a malthusian might) that allowing tens of millions of Indians to starve was good management.

    And, please explain why his general principles weren't invalidated seeing as he's been wrong for 200 years. What you need another 200 years? 500? At what point can we call the man wrong, and his theories BS?

    I believe in learning from history Optimist,and what happened with the oil spike of '07 is bound to happen again. Burying our heads in the sand won't stop it.
    Not sure what you learned, Maury, but do go ahead and enlighten me…

  107. President Obama crashes the US economy and starts a civil war.
    Let's at least acknowledge W's role in the economic crash, what with tax cuts for rich folks with passive income, and an ingrained insistence that all is well, if you workers would just stop complaining.

    And remember, all the benefits of those tax cuts may eventually flow to you workers too, if you keep working hard, and do exactly as the rich people (CEOs, bankers, prostitutians, etc.) tell you to.

  108. Who would be a good nuclear industry luminary to invite for a conference?

    Anand,

    My apologies, but I'm unable to answer your questions.

    Best,

    Wendell

  109. And now for something completely different ~ and promising:

    Japanese Companies To Develop Small Nuclear Reactors

    Someday even smaller American cities will have their own nuclear reactors.

    It seems like I first read about those around 2 years ago. Are there any out in the real world past the development phase & actually working?

    If these do work out I would welcome one in my backyard, no NIMBYism here.

  110. "Let's at least acknowledge W's role in the economic crash, what with tax cuts for rich folks"

    It's not like poor folks need tax cuts Optimist. We don't pay any taxes. Thanks to having a couple of kids under 18,I get several thousand more back than I pay in every year. The $40,000 or so we make qualifies us for food stamps and medicaid too. I don't take advantage of those,but it's nice to know it's there. Loved those $1200 checks W used to send every time the economy stuttered. Being poor in America ain't half as bad as it sounds. Better than being rich. Them guys have taxes to cut.

  111. “What exactly are you talking about?”

    Wendell, I was describing clueless city folks who come to public meetings in the boon docks to explain how we 'should' do things.

    Wendell does note understand the scale of Toshiba's small reactor. This one is sized (10 MWe) for a small remote town like Alaska where there is no grid. Hauling diesel fuel up river in summer results in winter generating costs of about $200/MWh. Toshiba thinks they can do it cheaper.

    Toshiba makes reactors in the US under the name Westinghouse Electric Company. Two reactors about 10 times bigger can be found on each super US air craft carrier.

    The Russians are putting reactors designed for ice breakers on barges to make about 75 MWe. Russia has lots of remote, off grid places like Alaska. Go figure!

    If you live in a small town in the US you want a reactors that are 'bigger' in your backyard. Big reactors pay lots of property taxes. I have been to two public meeting for new nuke plants at site with existing reactors. What a hoot! The local folks loved the power plants and found them to be good neighbors.

  112. Wendell: "Is there a good book either of you can recommend to read more about the subject?"

    Sorry — just going on distant memories of secondary school. I guess we do the British Isles in more detail on account of living here, just like you'd do the Jamestown Colony or the American Revolution.

  113. Kit P – I saw a TV programme the other night which claimed that pebble bed reactors are "the coming thing". It said the Chinese wanted to build 300 of them, using technology they originally acquired from Germany. They seem to have an experimental one up and running, but gave no reason why they are not being mass-produced as yet. They said they could build a 100MWe reactor only the size of a house … no water coolant, no cooling towers etc. (It was a pretty glossy programme with all sorts of factual inaccuracies that even I could spot in other areas).

    If you don't mind me volunteering you as the resident nuke expert — what do you think?

  114. PeteS

    I think I have one of those glossy HTGCR brochures at work so I will correct any inaccuracies tomorrow.

    The idea here is to produce hydrogen for refineries or ammonia plants using fission. High temperatures are required to efficiently hydrogen. To keep from melting metal fuel rods and releasing fission products (bad stuff), the uranium fuel is encased with ceramic material to form something that look like a billiard ball. Fuel is being tested in Russia now.

    The reactor is cooled with helium. The high temperature helium makes electricity by passing through a gas turbine. There you have it High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor.

    The secondary side of the plant will still need cooling water. In the US, that means some sort of cooling towers.

    As far a size goes, the core of a navy reactor is about a big a frig. The core of 1600 MW reactor could fit into fit in the family room. The secondary plant requires a certain amount of surface area. There is a certain economy of scale. One 1600 MW power plant is much smaller than 2 – 800 MW plants.

    The reason China is not building 300 HTGCR is that it is still a concept. The are building lots of reactors of proven designs however.

  115. That was downright depressing Clee. 10 years to work up to 15% of aviation fuels from tar sands? Maybe 1 or 2% from FT. They did mention the hoped for technical breakthroughs in shale oil. Shell is hoping for $30 shale oil with their process. If they can do it under $100 per barrel,we can forget about peak oil for another 100 years. Heck,we have half the world's oil reserves if shale is included. We'd be energy independent and our trade deficit would be gone too. It's the kind of miracle the world needs in my opinion.

  116. Robert, I was just reading an article of yours on Shell's shale project from June of '06. You were pretty pessimistic on the feasability,mostly due to poor EROEI. One reason is that each 100,000 barrel increment of production would need another power plant. You suspected the net EROEI would be 1 or less,because of the energy required to turn coal into electricity.

    Anyway,Shell now says two-thirds of production with the in-situ process is light oil,and one-third is natural gas. Would those EROEI numbers look better if there was enough natural gas present to provide the electricity? Since Shell got 1700 barrels from a 30X40 foot section,their 25 acre plot should provide about two million barrels,give or take. About $160 million at current prices. If enough NG is also there to turn the turbines,we could be looking at one hellified oil boom in Colorado.

    You were also skeptical because of the amount of water needed. But,the in-situ process matures the kerogen. You get light crude and associated gases. No different from processing any other oil or gas. I think water is a non-issue. I can't imagine anyone passing up a producing well for lack of water….even in a desert.

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