It’s official……………

8 03 2017

I am now an old fart.

Yesterday, I turned 65 (will she still love me…?) and am now officially a pensioner. To celebrate, I did the unthinkable, flying over 2,500 km to join my family and friends in Queensland who all wanted to see me. Love miles George Monbiot calls them……. not only that, we also drove more than 300km in Glenda’s little car, though it would have only burned 15 litres of petrol doing so. I’m over feeling guilty over my travels now ; whatever I do (or don’t do) will not make one iota of difference to the outcomes of western civilisation…..

If ever I needed reminding of why I will never return to the big island, the weather while I was burning all those fossil fuels was downright awful. Maybe it’s because I am getting old, or maybe it’s due to climate change, but I could not remember the heat being as oppressive as it was……. as I type, in Geeveston, it’s 21 degrees (C of course…) and I have my shirt off……. after harvesting in the market garden, more later.

Everyone I spoke too was mumbling through the thick air about the oppressive heat, and the lack of rain…… worst summer in living memory, etc etc etc………… in the end, I spent most of the time eating, drinking, sweating (when not in airconditioning) or traveling by oil powered transport. Now I’m back, I have to wear off the pounds I put on in just three days!

Glenda and I made the time to see Bruce at Mt Glorious. Where too it was hot….. Mt Glorious? For Pete’s sake, it’s 600m above sea level..?

There’s never enough time to talk to Bruce. Like me, he is short of people he can have an actual conversation that makes sense with, and after just three hours, we had to go back down the mountain to the pea soup.

Bruce related a story to me that relates highly to an article I recently published about PV’s negative ERoEI. It goes something like this……:

His in-laws, who live off the grid near Stanthorpe in Queensland, had a pretty good 20 year old 24V battery bank charged with an array of 12V solar panels. It worked just fine, until the lady of the house decided to replace the fridge, and voila, the system could not cope. So she contacted the company who installed the original system to upgrade it. “But everything’s changed now” she was told…… you will have to replace the whole lot…. nonsense said Bruce (as I said when he was telling me what happened). 12V modules are a thing of the past now, unless you’re willing to pay for ‘camping’ versions of these things that cost ten times as much per Watt as the ‘conventional’ gear being screwed to everyone’s roofs these days…… talk about an expensive fridge.

The company involved could not be bothered to tinker with the system, they reckoned the batteries and associated inverter and charging gear were too old and not worth the effort. So off it all came, now replaced with the latest stuff, including the ridiculous use of a grid tied inverter needing to be hooked up to an ‘island’ bit of gear to make it work as a standalone inverter. And at 20 years old, all that stuff was right on the verge of paying itself off in energy return, but now it’s a pile of waste with a negative ERoEI. Bruce has the panels, but I suspect he doesn’t need them, though they could be good backup for his old system should anything go wrong with it……….

The other interesting thing that happened to me was on the flight up…… I just happened to sit next to this Canadian, who, after some banter, it was discovered knew all about peak oil and ‘the end of capitalism’. Maybe there are more and more people ‘getting it’ these days.


Steak from the neighbours, mashed potatoes with parsley and garlic from the garden, plus home grown beans – all washed down with home brewed cider made with apples from trees I can see from here…

Back to reality. I was a tad concerned about leaving my garden unattended, particularly not being watered in this warm weather, but I need not have worried, it seems to have thrived on neglect! This morning I harvested 7.3kg of tomatoes, 9.6kg of snow peas (!) and a 3kg zucchini that was as long as my arm…… a zuccini that big is not salable, so I chopped it up for the chooks. Waste nothing (unlike solar power companies).

I’m actually starting to feel like I’m living in abundance, at least for the time being. I ate a watermelon from the poly tunnel before leaving for Qld, and this morning I got stuck into a delicious rockmelon. I’ve been making blackberry jam, and there’s such a glut of berries now, I will be making more for the next couple of weeks…. and just before leaving, I bought half a pig from my neighbour, and is it soooo delicious……. Eat your heart out Queenslanders……


Are we there yet..? revisited

30 04 2015

Four years ago, I wrote a post with exactly the same title as this one, regarding whether we were at Peak Oil or not……  Then I wrote another two years later, about Peak Debt.  Well this one is about Peak Everything….. and the reason I’m writing this one is that….  well everything is going nuts out there in the Matrix.

First, this turns up on ZeroHedge:

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

The entire economic and political structure is now dependent in one way or another on the continued expansion of financial markets.

The financial markets don’t just dominate the economy–they now control everything. In 1999, the BBC broadcast a 4-part documentary by Adam Curtis, The Mayfair Set ( Episode 1: “Who Pays Wins” 58 minutes), that explored the way financial markets have come to dominate not just the economy but the political process and society.
In effect, politicians now look to the markets for policy guidance, and any market turbulence now causes governments to quickly amend their policies to “rescue” the all-important markets from instability.
This is a global trend that has gathered momentum since the program was broadcast in 1999, as The Global Financial Meltdown of 2008-09 greatly reinforced the dominance of markets.
It’s not just banks that have become too big to fail; the markets themselves are now too influential and big to fail.
Curtis focuses considerable attention on the way in which seemingly “good” financial entities such as pension funds actively enabled the “bad” corporate raiders of the 1980s by purchasing the high-yield junk bonds the raiders used to finance their asset-stripping ventures.
Charles Hugh-Smith then says “This spells the end of the electoral-political control of the economy, as politicians of all stripes quickly abandon all their ideologies and policies and rush to “save” the markets from any turmoil, because that turmoil could destabilize not just the financial markets but the economy, pensions and ultimately the government’s ability to finance its own profligate borrowing and spending.”
Scared yet?  Read on……
A study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that 75 percent of the planet’s “moderate daily hot extremes” can be tied to climate change. That figure means that heat events which, in a world without climate change, would occur in one out of every 1,000 days (or about once every three years) now occur in about four or five out of every 1,000 days, the study’s lead study author, Erich Fischer, told the Washington Post. Basically, climate change has upped the odds that these types of heat events will occur.
But wait, there’s more…..

a new Financial Tsunami is beginning, this one, of all places, in the Texas, North Dakota and other USA shale oil regions. Like the so-called US sub-prime real estate crisis, the oil shale junk bond default crisis is but the cutting front of the first wave of what promises to be a far more dangerous series of financial Tsunami long waves.

Banking system vulnerability greater

I say more dangerous because of what governments in the USA, EU and elsewhere did after 2007 to make sure no repeat of that bubble-cum-collapse-of bubble cycle could repeat.

In a word, they did nothing. What they did do—explode US Federal debt and bloat the credit of the central bank to historic highs leave the USA in far worse shape to deal with the unfolding crisis.
First appeared:

And there’s more still…..

U.S. oil production decline has begun.

It is not because of decreased rig count. It is because cash flow at current oil prices is too low to complete most wells being drilled.

The implications are profound. Production will decline by several hundred thousand of barrels per day before the effect of reduced rig count is fully seen. Unless oil prices rebound above $75 or $85 per barrel, the rig count won’t matter because there will not be enough money to complete more wells than are being completed today.

Tight oil production in the Eagle Ford, Bakken and Permian basin plays declined approximately 111,000 barrels of oil per day in January. These declines are part of a systematic decrease in the number of new producing wells added since oil prices fell below $90 per barrel in October 2014 (Figure 1).

Chart_ALL New Prod Wells
Figure 1. Eagle Ford, Bakken and Permian basin new producing wells by month and WTI oil price. Source: Drilling Info and Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc.
(Click image to enlarge)

Deferred completions (drilled uncompleted wells) are not discretionary for most companies. Producers entered into long-term rig contracts assuming at least $90 oil prices. Lower prices result in substantially reduced cash flows. Capital is only available to fulfill contractual drilling commitments, basic costs of doing business, and to complete the best wells that come closest to breaking even at present oil prices.

Much of the new capital from junk bonds and share offerings is being used to pay overhead and interest expense, and to pay down debt to avoid triggering loan covenant thresholds. Hedges help soften the blow of low oil prices for some companies but not enough to carry on business as usual when it comes to well completions.

The decrease in well completions provides additional evidence that the true break-even price for tight oil plays is between $75 and $85 per barrel. The Eagle Ford Shale is the most attractive play with a break-even price of about $75 per barrel. Well completions averaged 312 per month from January through September 2014 when WTI averaged $100 per barrel (Figure 2). When oil prices dropped below $90 per barrel in October, November well completions fell to 214. As prices fell further, 169 new producing wells were added in December and only 118 in January.

Chart_Eagle Ford Break-Even

Figure 2. Eagle Ford new producing wells (2 month moving average) and WTI oil prices. Source: Drilling Info, EIA and Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc.
(Click image to enlarge)

Junk bonds

Since the shale oil boom took flight in 2011 Wells Fargo and JP Morgan have both issued shale oil company loans of $100 billion.There has been a huge rise in high risk high return bonds, so called “junk bonds.” They earned the appropriate name because in event of a company’s going bankrupt, they become just that—junk. The bonds have been issued by Wall Street banks to shale oil and gas companies since the bubble started in 2011. The US oil and gas industry share of junk bonds has been the fastest growing portion of the overall US junk bond sector of the bond market.

Now as oil prices hover around $49 a barrel, the shale oil companies that indebted themselves with junk bonds to finance more drilling are themselves facing bankruptcy or default more and more every additional day the US crude oil price remains this low. Their shale projects were calculated when oil was $100 a barrel, less than a year ago. Their minimum price of oil to avoid bankruptcy in most cases was $65 a barrel to $80 a barrel. Shale oil extraction is unconventional and more costly than conventional oil. Douglas-Westwood, an energy advisory firm, estimates that nearly half of the US oil projects under development need oil prices greater than $120 per barrel in order to achieve positive cash flow. 
First appeared:

And today, global share markets went down.  US quarterly growth was a mere 0.2% and the Fed still has not raised interest rates as promised.  They know we’re nearly there, I’m sure.  Not that it particularly fills me with glee now my ute and all our precious goodies we need to get on with the rest of our lives are parked almost 3000km away awaiting our house sale….  We sure live in interesting times.

The Great Unravelling has begun…….

1 03 2014

I have been warning of the Great Unravelling for years now.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to shrug off feelings it has begun.  Exactly what is causing me to feel this way today is hard to pinpoint.  I have thought for a long time that some event would trigger it, an event like 9/11, or the GFC collapse in 2008, but still the Matrix defies all the odds.  Today, however, too many ducks are lining up on the wall…….

2014 was the year many pundits forecast would be the beginning of the long decline from civilisation.  It’s barely two months old today, and so far this year we have had confirmation that all car manufacturing will end in Australia, that Shell has sold its entire interests (except for aviation interestingly) in this country, and that QANTAS and Virgin Australia are unprofitable, QANTAS announcing it would cut 5000 jobs to save money…… After seeing Steven Kopits’ presentation on what’s happening in the oil industry, surely even blind Freddy can see where this is all going now.  You even have to ask why Vitol bought Shell out…?


Even New Scientist is
talking about it……

It appears that all the oil majors are in such unprofitable positions due to Peak Oil, that they are all selling assets to prop up their bottom lines.  And just to add a few more roadblocks, even American Independent producers will spend $1.50 drilling this year for every dollar they get back.  Shale output drops faster than production from conventional methods, and it will take 2,500 new wells a year just to sustain output of 1 million barrels a day in North Dakota’s Bakken shale, according to the International Energy Agency.  Iraq could do the same with 60.

Steven Kopits’ announcing that Shell had to borrow money to pay its shareholders’ dividends really did it for me.  As if the global debt situation wasn’t bad enough…..  This is like a dog chasing its tail, only worse; it’s begun eating its own arse to stay alive.  How long this state of affairs can go on for is hard to fathom.  The fact that it can’t is a certainty, however.

Then we have Chris Martenson, among many, saying that the stock market’s fundamentals are crumbling in both the short-term & long.  I’ve seen Alan Kohler say basically the same thing on ABC TV recently…..

The Ukraine has joined the increasingly long list of failed states with a huge and rapidly growing foreign debt, placing the country under constant threat of default. Its foreign exchange reserves are nearly depleted. Ukraine has a large negative trade balance and is desperately short on outside investment and private savings. Russia is the only country willing to extend financial assistance in exchange for Ukraine’s nearly worthless junk bonds.

And then we have the Climate…….  the numbers of record disasters happening globally defy listing.  From droughts in both hemispheres simultaneously, to record high and low temperature events again simultaneously occurring in the USA while the UK gets a pounding with three (more?) one in a hundred years storms in less than a month…  Even here in Cooran, we have now officially had the driest February on record.  By this time last year, we’d been flooded out twice and received 1200mm of rain in two months.  So far this year, we’ve had 59mm, 9 of those this month.  Whilst I normally have to mow twice a week at this time of year, I haven’t done so since before we went to Tasmania more than six weeks ago.  Check out this world map of extreme weather events in just January…. the whole planet is peppered with them!

So there you have it.  2014 will be an interesting year indeed.  What will it take for the authorities to wake up and admit everything they are doing is simply not working?  And how long before another large stock market correction visits us again..?  Only time will tell, but hang onto your seat, we’re in for an exhilarating ride!

The Year in Weather Like Never Seen Before

3 02 2014

This piece is from Climate Central, and was put together by Brian Kahn….  very interesting if you are interested in weather and its patterns, no matter where you live.

Satellite images often provide crucial information when major storms such as Super Typhoon Haiyan form. But both extreme events and our day-to-day weather are part of a much larger climate system. Now EUMETSAT, the European Union’s satellite agency, has taken that long view and used satellite images to construct an entire year in weather on our planet in high definition.

The new visualization uses data gathered in 2013 from European, Japanese, and American satellites and overlays it on NASA’s Blue Marble images. This is the first time EUMETSAT has put together this type of visualization.

My winter of discontent

17 08 2013

Where’s my winter?  I mean seriously, who has stolen my winter….?  Will whoever nicked it please bring it back..?  It’s the only time of year I can have some fun around here…..

August in South East Queensland is never really cold, but 30º?  Yes, it was that warm two days ago, and it’s been 26º plus all week, and I have to open all the windows in the house when the AGA is going, and our combined hot water systems are chucking out excess heat like there’s no tomorrow…… and at least the solar panels are pumping I guess, but I’ve just been out in the garden for the last couple of hours planting the last of my brassicas (got cauliflowers and broccoli and cabbages and kale coming on strong right now..) and what comes out of the blue?  CABBAGE MOTHS!  Cabbage moths in August..?  Yessir, they’re not supposed to appear until late September or some time in October, but here they are, two months early……..

Normally at this time of the year (Ekka time.. which finishes today), Queenslanders are running around in jumpers and coats to fight the cold westerly winds that are the norm.  And here in Cooran, we can expect half a dozen frosts.  Which presumably kill any cabbage moth caterpillars, and which has not happened yet.  We even had the odd mosquito the other day…

And that’s not all…..  all our fruit trees are in flower.  The bees are out in full strength, and I’ll have to don the bee suit soon just to make sure they’re not overflowing with honey and about to swarm…  in AUGUST?

But there’s no climate change say the skeptics deniers.  Australia has already had its hottest July on record, surely August will match it.  And what’s Summer going to be like if winter’s like this now?

Are there any Tasmanians out there who’d like to swap house over Summer…..?  Seriously, I mean it.  We’ve got great beaches here….

I think I’ll make some ice cream this afternoon.  And I must have a copy of Hot August Night somewhere.  Yeah I know…  I’m showing my age again…


Thursday August 22.  Our first frost…….  Winter has finally arrived, and it’s only a couple of months late.  Not a huge frost by any standards, not even a sub tropical one, but I am surprised at how much ice is on the ute’s windscreen.  With any luck, it’ll kill the cabbage moths or any eggs they might’ve already laid.  We may even be in for a week of this great weather according to the weather bureau.

Weather you believe it or not (pun intended)

15 07 2013

And another great post by Mark Cochrane……..

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with membership o 191 countries, has recently released a summary report of weather observations over the last decade (2001-2010) in the context of all weather observations to date. The summary report “The Global Climate 2001-2010: A decade of climate extremes” can be found here.

Below I provide several excerpts from the report and comments.

Nine of the decade’s years were among the 10 warmest on record. The warmest year ever recorded was 2010

Note, they (the WMO) are doing a decadal analysis, so they did not include any data from 2011–2013, which have been warmer yet. In case you are wondering about that one year last decade that wasn’t in the top ten of all recorded years…

The least warm year was 2008, with an estimated anomaly of +0.38°C, but this was enough to make 2008 the warmest La Niña year on record.

La Niña years bring cold water to the surface across the equatorial pacific and act like a giant chiller for the planet. We are now getting the warmest ‘cold’ years as well as the warmest warm years.

The report rightly cites the amount of year to year noise in temperature data and therefore they suggest using decadal averages of temperatures to help separate the signal from the noise in global temperatures. The figure below comes from the report but via the Washington Post (link). The values given are global average temperatures for each decade. In the report they also provide a table with the temperatures broken out by Northern and Southern Hemisphere and over land or over water temperatures. It doesn’t matter where you are, the temperature has been going up over land and water, with more heating in the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere because there is a greater proportion of water to land down south.


The warmest worldwide land-only surface-air temperature was recorded in 2007, with a temperature anomaly of +0.95°C. The warmest worldwide ocean-only surface temperature was measured in 2003, with an anomaly of +0.4°C above the 1961–1990 average. This is consistent with climate-change science, which projects that the ocean surface will warm more slowly than the land because much of the additional heat will be transported down into the ocean depths or lost through evaporation.

and globally:

Greenland recorded the world’s largest decadal mean temperature anomaly of +1.71°C.

The report goes on to highlight some of the weather-related impacts seen around the globe during the most recent decade.

the 2003 summer heatwave over much of Europe, which caused more than 66,000 deaths; and the exceptionally intense and long-lasting heatwave that struck the Russian Federation in July/August 2010, causing over 55 000 deaths.

According to the WMO survey, floods were the most frequently experienced extreme event over the course of the decade. Eastern Europe was particularly affected in 2001 and 2005, India in 2005, Africa in 2008, Asia (notably Pakistan, where 2 000 people died and 20 million were affected) in 2010, and Australia, also in 2010. In addition, many flash floods with landslides were reported by other countries.

Droughts affect more people than any other kind of natural disaster owing to their large scale and long-lasting nature. The decade 2001–2010 saw droughts occur in all parts of the world. Some of the highest-impact and long-term droughts struck Australia (in 2002 but also in other years), East Africa (2004 and 2005, resulting in widespread loss of life and food shortages) and the Amazon Basin (2010).

According to NOAA-NCDC, 2001–2010 was the most active decade since 1855 for tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic Basin. An average of 15 named storms per year was recorded, well above the 1981–2010 long-term average of 12 named storms per year.

The litany goes on as you can read in the report.

Each of you can decide for yourselves whether any of this rises to the level of ‘proof’ or ‘evidence’ of climate change.