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February 01, 2006



What is so hard to understand. Producing fuel from domestically grown crops is VASTLY superior to shipping it from unstable areas from across the world, adding to our trade imbalance when we could be keeping the money here and paying it to farmers... check out this articel from Fortune/CNN.

"The next five years could see ethanol go from a mere sliver of the fuel pie to a major energy solution in a world where the cost of relying on a finite supply of oil is way too high. As that happens, says Vinod Khosla, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who has become one of the nation's most influential ethanol advocates, "I'm absolutely convinced that without putting any more land under agriculture and without changing our food production, we can introduce enough ethanol in the U.S. to replace the majority of our petroleum use in cars and light trucks."

Ethanol has already transformed one major economy: In Brazil nearly three-quarters of new cars can burn either ethanol or gasoline, whichever happens to be cheaper at the pump, and the nation has weaned itself off imported oil. Not only does Brazil no longer have to import oil but an estimated $69 billion that would have gone to the Middle East or elsewhere has stayed in the country and is revitalizing once-depressed rural areas. More than 250 mills have sprouted in southeastern Brazil, and another 50 are under construction, at a cost of about $100 million each."


Jim E.

Sorry to be off-topic, but Josh Marshall spotted this in today's NY Daily News:

"Fitzgerald, who is fighting Libby's request, said in a letter to Libby's lawyers that many e-mails from Cheney's office at the time of the Plame leak in 2003 have been deleted contrary to White House policy."


Sadly, the serious problem is not that we buy oil from the ME, but that anyone does. The damage done by Saudi dollars brainwashing Muslim kids is equally deadly whether the petrodollar came from selling oil to the US or to China or to Japan.

Our only hope is to produce some energy source which is so cheap and plentiful that it can supply the whole world and the Saudis won't be able to afford to pump their oil out of the ground. Then they will either have to evolve their culture into one that allows the production of things of value, or starve. Either way cutting off the money from the wahabis.

cathy :-)


politicaobscura - what's hard to understand is how it's going to make a lick of difference whether US Persian gulf imports are replaced by alternate sources of energy. The US is not the major importer from the Persian Gulf, and if the US replaces a small amount of it's consumption with non-petroleum energy over the next 20 years the most likely outsome will be that the price of oil will be a little bit lower than it would have been otherwise, which will encourage more consumption in China and India.

The Brazilian experience is very instructive and should be studied by anyone interested in ethanol as a fuel source. In 1988 100% of new cars in Brazil were ethanol powered. By 1998 0% were - the price of oil had been low for so long that the program just didn't make any sense. Since then they've switched to cars that can use any mix of ethanol and gas, and that's been a whopping success, so far. What happens if the price of oil nose dives is anyone's guess.

And of course Brazilian ethanol is quite a bit cheaper than US ethanol, as sugar production is Brazil is world class, and very efficient.

The link for the Brazilian auto sales is


And I believe that the President specifically endorses Flexible Fuels vehicles and nobody supports the Brazilian experiment of "ethanol only" cars.

Further, although the Brazilians have a good climate for sugar cane, US has its own positives, least of which will be our ability to use all the technical advantages we have to squeeze out every bit of energy from every acre.

As for CathyF's statement, "Our only hope is to produce some energy source which is so cheap and plentiful that it can supply the whole world", what can I say, it is just plain silly and weird.

As for the argument that "if we don't buy it, others will buy it"... yeah so? Let them buy it and spend their money on imports. Why wouldn't we want to spend our money domestically and provide ourselves more independance?

Gabriel Sutherland

Do the Saudis really care about kids?

It's simple to say that the Saudis use their petrowealth to foment hatred around the world. Clearly they believe that their wealth is better spent spreading the small branch of Sunni Islam known as Wahabism. However, why are they spending money on Wahabism, in other countries for that matter, instead of spending it on defending their own backyard from potential disruptions to energy exports?

It may be argued that the United States is better at security strategy through arms, munititions and ships than it is at educating people. Would the United States prefer the Saudis to pay for their oil export protection so the US taxpayer can pay for Pakistani tribal grammar schools?

Our security strategy needs to be fluffed. We're giving away way too much to be getting shafted by the oil exporting nations of the world.


Jim E.

Interesting acticle in the WaPo today as well based on the same court papers.

Attorneys for Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff urged a court yesterday to force a prosecutor to turn over CIA records indicating whether former CIA operative Valerie Plame's employment was classified, saying the answer is not yet clear.

The defense team for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby also asked that the court require Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald to turn over any informal assessments conducted by the CIA to determine whether the leak of Plame's identity in July 2003 damaged national security or agency operations
WaPo 2/1/06

Apparently Libby was confused according to his motion.

"These documents are material to establishing that any misstatements he may have made were the result of confusion, mistake and faulty memory . . . rather than deliberate lies,"
Court Papers per WaPo

Here's the link to the NY Daily news article about the missing emails at the OVP.

The NY Daily News also has this

CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald collected 10,000 pages of documents - including the most sensitive terrorism memos in the U.S. government - from Vice President Cheney's office, he said in court papers released yesterday.
NY Daily News 2/1/06


More on the Fitz letter to Libby's lawyer from TMP.

Josh Marshall has some of the text of the letter. This was not in the NY Daily news article.

Fitzgerald's letter says that "we have learned that not all email of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system."

Cecil Turner

Our only hope is to produce some energy source which is so cheap and plentiful . . .

Nuclear power is the key: fission in the short term, and fusion in the longer. It was in the initial energy proposal, and absent (AFAICT) from the bill when it left the Senate. It appears our Congressmen are allergic to the nuclear issue . . . or am I missing something?


Pebble bed nuclear reactors, and the Chinese are way ahead of us on this. Dump the unrecyclable residue in the deepest ditches, for instance, the Marianna trench. Nothing can happen to it except silting over for hundreds of millions of years.

Geek, Esq.

I'm out of my element when it comes to economics, but it seems to me that where you have a fungible product like petroleum with multiple producers and purchasers, targeting one's purchases towards a few major suppliers is really cosmetic instead of substantive. Buying more from Canada and Mexico instead of the Mideast only means that someone else will buy more from the Mideast instead of Canada or Mexico.


CT, forget fusion, unless cold fusion, that variant investigated 40 years ago, and forgot, works.


Solar Power, uneconomic except as presently captured.

Water Power, done all been used up.

Wind Power, only uncommonly locally useful, and remember, everyone is downwind.


Whaddya mean, burning these black rocks will change the weather? What druid told you that?


It's about time some of this carbon dioxide got released. It has been continuously and virtually irreversibly sequestered for the entire history of plant life on earth. That had to come to an end, or we'd have ultimately reached a lethal climatic extreme if one can be reached by elimiation of carbon dioxide from the biosphere.

Cecil Turner

targeting one's purchases towards a few major suppliers is really cosmetic instead of substantive

It might have some political effect . . . certainly doesn't have much of a practical one. Still, it'd be nice to see any reduction in oil imports.

And I'm not sure about cold fusion . . . hot fusion obviously works (we've had several spectacular examples). Getting a controlled reaction is a few years down the road yet, but I expect it'll be the ticket in 2100 at the latest.


CT, I can explain the pox on the hill: it's long liability tail. Look, we are now capable of building safe and economic nuclear plants. The only real issue is the residue, which has half-lives longer than human society will remain on Earth, maybe. That's why dumping it in geologically stable(qualified) oceanic trenches where it can be silted over virtually forever is the solution.

Pebble beds are glassified radioactive substances in a bed and the heat exchange is with something other than the virtually explosive(qualified, think Na!) water. The Chinese will be manufacturing nuclear plants, installing them everywhere and supplying and taking back the radioactive pebbles long before anyone else is. The plants can be scaled easily. It is the energy of the future.


Go into battery technology, young man, and don't try to build gasoline automobiles in China.

Probably not batteries, come to think of it. Why couldn't a grid transfer enough energy to automotives to enable transport?

Freedom of mobility being necessary for the preservation of Liberty: the right of the people to automote shall not be infringed.



I think it only works if we develop an alternate fuel that is cheaper, cleaner, and replaces fossil fuels completely. Otherwise, you would be correct.

Rick Ballard


Read this about desk top or cold fusion. They finally got some experiments to replicate. Of course, it may be a few weeks until you can plug in to a desk top reactor but replication is a huge step.


Historically, ethanol has only been economic because of public tax subsidies. What's up in Brazil? There is also less energy in a gallon of ethanol than in gasoline. I don't think you've made enough allowance for the need for huge acreage of monoculture necessary to make ethanol ever more than a marginal energy source.

Nuclear to electric for automotives. Maybe we'll name one The Grainger.


@Polit: "Producing fuel from domestically grown crops is VASTLY superior to shipping it from unstable areas from across the world"

So these crops you speak of...are they produced using petroleum derived fertilizers and pesticides? Even the ethanol lobbies say current cars and infrastructure and handle at most a 10% ethanol mix, so it won't result in anything close to independence. Also, it has less energy per gallon so MPG goes down.

The best way to reduce dependence on oil is to make it expensive enough to be a precious commodity. That can be done over time to limit its impact and to allow consumers to evolve rational decisions for their choice of transportation. Within 20 years the Hummer and Expedition can be distant memories.


There was an interesting article a couple of years back where they had a prototype to produce light sweet crude out of any sort of organic or plastic garbage. The prototype was adjacent to a chicken-processing plant. It sounds like a perpetual motion machine, or cold fusion, or equivalent violation of the laws of physics, but it takes more complex organic molecules and creates simpler molecules, so it is possible physically.

That's the sort of thing that would change the geopolitics of oil instantly -- why would any country import oil when they can recycle their garbage into oil for cheaper? Since what is being produced is light sweet crude, all of the existing infrastructure from the refinery to end user is exactly the same, so even poor countries won't find cost-of-entry a barrier.

The Saudi princes would piss away their Swiss-account trillions within a decade or so, but everyone would stop paying attention to them right away. And without the giant welfare state in Saudi Arabia, they'd be thrown out of power pretty quickly.

cathy :-)


Rick and Kim: those experiments (and there have been others that are similar) are not akin to the "cold fusion" scientific scandal of 16 (or so) years ago which purported to demonstrate palladium catalyzed cold fusion. At the time the nuclear physics community said it was horse shit and indeed it was.

In fact, many years ago it was demonstrated that fusion can be achieved within a relatively simple electrostatic device. But unfortunately for reasons that are a little obscure it has been demonstrated that such a device cannot produce a net positive power output.


There is plenty of oil in the USA. Unfortunately it's almost as difficult to have new drilling and refining it as it is to build new nuclear power plants due to environmental restrictions.

If we eased these restrictions we could dramaticly increase the supply of oil and reduce the price, and decrease the amount of hard currency going to the Saudis, the Iranians and all the other despots that have large oil reserves.


The Times looked at China New Nukes.

Sobering excerpt:

In its anxiety to satisfy its seemingly bottomless demand for electricity, China plans to build reactors on a scale and pace comparable to the most ambitious nuclear energy programs the world has ever seen.

Current plans - conservative ones, in the estimation of some people involved in China's nuclear energy program - call for new reactors to be commissioned at a rate of nearly two a year between now and 2020, a pace that experts say is comparable to the peak of the United States' nuclear energy push in the 1970's.

...The problem with nuclear power, some experts say, is that China's energy needs are so immense - each year, by some estimates, the country plans to add generating capacity from all sources equivalent to the entire current energy consumption of Britain - that even the enormous expansion program will do little to offset the skyrocketing power demand.

China's eight nuclear reactors in operation today supply less than 2 percent of current demand. By 2020, assuming the national plan is fulfilled, nuclear energy would still constitute under 4 percent of demand.

Sure, it may be the biggest expansion plan the world has ever seen, but 4 percent is a drop in the bucket.

Jim E.

Administration backs off Bush's vow to reduce Mideast oil imports
By Kevin G. Hall
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally.


Well, maybe he meant it, maybe not. We get ~20% of our oil from the ME now. Cut 20% by 75%, and that's 15%. The most plausible mechanism is completely natural: as demand in China and India go up, prices go up. As prices go up, new supplies are brought to market, or idled capacity is brought back into production. By definition, the new capacity is more expensive to produce than what was already in production. (This is all the first week of econ 101 -- demond curves slope down, supply curves slope up, nothing complicated or sophisticated.) The oil fields that get lured into production by high prices are in places like Canada and Texas. Oil being fungible, and relatively expensive to move around, the way for the supplies to shift around at the lowest total cost is for more of the ME oil to go to importers outside of North America, and to be replaced by the new production in North America.

Could this shift around end up equalling 15% of current US production? Sure, not by any government policies, but just by the natural distribution of oil reserves and each reserve's cost of recovery.

cathy :-)


I don't like paying higher gas prices, any more than the next person does. But, is the alternative for the government to take over the oil industries? Since when is it a crime to have profits? And, if we are going to limit their profits, shouldn't we also subsidize them when profits are low?


That sounds like a Neil Cavuto argument.

I don't like paying higher gas prices, any more than the next person does. But, is the alternative for the government to take over the oil industries?
No, taking over the oil industries is just a way to have much higher prices, plus supply interruptions that would destroy the economy. You've got to understand the most basic facts about competition and cooperation -- producers compete against producers and consumers compete against consumers, while producers and consumers cooperate with each other. If you want to lower oil prices, you don't attack the producers (the guys who are getting oil for you) you attack the other consumers (who are bidding against you.) So, your basic choices: trash the US economy -- a recession will cut demand for oil products; trash other people's economies -- in this case India and China is where you get the biggest bang for your buck. Of course encouraging economic collapse and desperation in nuclear-armed nations has its downside...

If your car gets 25 mpg and you drive 15,000 miles/year, you use 600 gallons of gas per year. If you get the price of gas to go down by $1 per gallon, saving yourself $600 per year ($50/month), but at the price of having China vaporize you and your city in a nuclear attack, do you think that was a wise choice?

cathy :-)

Harry Arthur

We have approximately 200-300 years of coal and shale oil in the western US. The Canadians are currently exploiting their shale oil with developing technology.

The exploitation of these resources requires further technological advances driven by capital. Capital will only make its way into these technologies if the product can compete economically with oil. At upwards of $60 a barrel and increasing, I would say we're probably in the neighborhood of profitability now or in the near future.

There are several other sources of power. Nuclear (fision) is the easiest. Though we haven't constructed a nuclear plant in this country in about 30 years, the technology is not terribly difficult. The benefit of nuclear is that there are no CO emissions so if you're concerned about contributing to global warming (disclosure - I'm not), nuclear is the way to go. Fusion (hot) has severe challenges that are primarily materials and control driven but it may be a future prospect.

Hydrogen powered fuel cells and perhaps even internal combustion engines are other potential technologies. Hydrogen is derived from water so the source is virtually limitless, but it takes electrical power to make it, so back to nuclear or NG for that.

As for new short term oil sources, there is Anwar where we have reserves equivalent to approximately 30 years of imports from Saudia Arabia. We also need a pipeline from Prudoe Bay for gas. If, when Prudoe Bay is no longer economically sustainable, we have not found a use for the existing pipeline, it must be torn down, so Anwar and NG are two opportunities there.

We have trillions and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas on the north slope that are being pumped back into the ground because there is no transport mechanism to get it to the ports or the lower 48 for distribution. There are 10s of trillions of feet of NG in Anwar also not being exploited. Natural gas is a known technology that burns extremely cleanly both in powerplants and vehicles. It can also be used in internal combustion engines in lieu of gasoline with very little modification. Many municipalities power their vehicles with natural gas currently.

We can do all of these things cleanly. We simply have to end the "control monopoly" of the so-called environmentalists over the production and use of these fuels and methods. They are largely responsible for our inadequate natural gas distribution systems, electrical grids, and the fact that not a single nuclear power plant built in roughly the last 30 years. I suspect, though, that it will have to hurt a little more before we form a national concensus to actually get serious about fueling our energy demands from domestic sources.


My understanding, Noah, was that further development of the electrostatic cold fusion device was suppressed, but I don't know that for sure, nor do I know why.


T, we'll not likely see China's nuclear plant construction peak in the next 15 years.


I agree with your post, Harry. Don't forget that shale oil requires a great deal of water in recovery and that the residue after oil extraction has a higher volume than the shale.

My understanding, Noah, was that further development of the electrostatic cold fusion device was suppressed, but I don't know that for sure, nor do I know why.
The reason is that it's pure bunkum. The chemists who did it were basically practicing physics, and they made very basic calculational errors that a physics undergrad would have been embarrassed to make. Their basic logic was that the reaction that they were doing created too much energy to be any sort of chemical reaction that they could understand, and since fusion was something that they didn't understand, then that must be the explanation. But the reaction that they were producing didn't make enough energy for fusion by several orders of magnitude, and the reason that they thought it made too much for the chemistry was that they were double counting some of the energy.

An excellent read on the subject is Gary Taubes Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion. And very weird it was -- there were a couple of washed up big ego types desperately trying to reproduce the experiment in verious places all over the country, but even these guys wouldn't go as far as flat out falsifying data and so they were never able to reproduce it.

cathy :-)


Rick, I'm not physicist enough to critique that fascinating Rensselaer study, but I don't see where they've eliminated internal neutrons as the source of the neutrons they measured. Maybe they came from fission of the uranium. Nonetheless, a sonic method I'd not heard of. I've heard before of the bogus chemical method and of the unexplored electrostatic method, but this is new to me. Thanks.

I've confidence enough in the malleability of this physical world that we can ultimately develop a fusion method that need not copy the sun, one that won't require an impossible magnetic bottle to hold way too much heat and pressure.


As I remember the ionic, or electrostatic method developed very high temperatures, but in a plasma, not in a pressured vessel. I don't think it is technically 'cold' fusion.


cf, you are confusing the chemical method of 15 years ago, which was bogus, with an ionic or electrostatic method that was investigated 35-50 years ago. I think the latter was dropped because it seemed wiser at the time to pursue the magnetic bottle method, and the funding went there. Maybe that old method could be re-investigated. Seems cheaper than war, er, I mean 'blood for oil'.

Rick Ballard


The fact that we still use horsepower as a measure indicates the speed of advance in technology. Give the problem of transortation to a scientist of 110 years ago along with population projections for todays population and they might say that the amount of hay required couldn't be raised and everyone would be walking through manure up to their hips anyway.

I am always amazed at some peoples incredible lack of imagination. "Everything we know" indicates a belief in stasis regarding human ingenuity that is staggering. The unintentional irony of progressive luddites is rather amusing, though.


It takes approximately 100 watts to run a human. The theoretically maximum population of the earth supported by the total wattage arriving via the sun is almost unimaginably huge.

Rick Ballard

So the 10 watters we run accross in comments from time to time are to be congratulated for successful conservation efforts?

Harry Arthur

kim, Don't forget that shale oil requires a great deal of water in recovery and that the residue after oil extraction has a higher volume than the shale.

True enough. These are two of the technological challenges, particularly in the fairly arid western US where most of this shale is found.

However, technology advances inevitably in ways we typically can't even imagine. Perhaps that will be the case for shale oil or perhaps we will simply bypass that stage entirely with technology yet to be imagined.

I believe that is what Rick seems to be suggesting. As far as oil-based fuels go, I would submit that sources of oil are useful primarily as a transition to new technology, not something on which we should continue to base our economy.

Harry Arthur

So the 10 watters we run accross in comments from time to time are to be congratulated for successful conservation efforts?

Yes, they are the true "conservationists".

Rick Ballard


Excellent posts. The shale oil business underwent quite a boom in Colorado for a bit when oil prices jumped and held '80's? '90's? I forget. Anyway, when things started to get serious the oil ticks cut prices and clipped the boom.

Aren't the Canadians working more on tar sands up in Alberta than shale oil? I believe that I've read that they have a COG of $20 per barrel which sounds great until you think about the Saudis having a COG of $1 or so. I believe that your assertions are correct but the economics don't provide enough clarity for more than gradual moves at this time.

We could still make the ME a Chevron/Shell consortium if needed.


re your 'unintentional irony of progressive Luddites', I think that can be explained by the enduring power of Rousseau's visions. It's quixotic, however you care to pronounce that hero from the mind of the Lepanto Cripple.


'unintentional irony of progressive Luddites'

Yes, and what we're not noting is that whatever we come up with, other nations will also try. So China's 4% nuclear won't mean 96% oil in 2020.

I was watching a Learning Channel show on the great dam in China. Infused in the whole narrative was regret for change. Villages dismantled and moved to higher ground as the lake rises. Such sadness at the loss of old memories from the village square rather than joy at the new opportunities.

The earth is not in stasis, never has been. Change is the norm, not the aberration.

When I was young our family moved often. I anticipated with joy the new friendships I'd make more than I mourned the loss of old ones.

There is a lesson there, I think.

Cecil Turner

What annoys me about all this is that we have all the technology we need right now (at least for the next step), and are stuck on stupid. Today over half of our electricity comes from coal, and transportation runs on oil. The trend is toward natural gas, which is exactly the wrong answer if you're worried about greenhouse gas emissions, which I admit being a bit less comfortable with than Harry is (good summary by the way).

Nuclear is easy, dumping the waste under a mountain makes sense to me, and it's the only option that allows rapid expansion of energy production. The other thing it allows is using hydrogen to run transportation (not feasible without plentiful and cheap electricity, or direct hydrogen production, either of which is workable with nuclear plants). Once we're there, the follow-on conversion with the next energy source (which my crystal ball shows as hot fusion) will be a snap. In the meantime, doing a bit of everything also makes sense. But it's gonna take a decade or two to get the first transition done, and we keep kicking the can down the road.

The truly obnoxious thing is that the original National Energy Policy hit it about right, IMHO (except some idiot doesn't know how to spell "foreword"): encourage new nuclear reactors, hydrogen, clean coal, study fusion, drill in ANWR. But noooooo, we have to argue about who went to what meetings and who gets what tax breaks and incentives and price supports for crops. (And get that icky nuclear stuff out of there . . . [hey, wasn't that the whole point of the bill in the first place?])


When Cheney gets tired I'd trust you, CT, and Harry Arthur with energy policy.


The 'No nukes' folks took a hit last year when the guru of Gaia let it be known that increasing wind water and solar energy wasn't going to cut it as far as diminishing greenhouse emissions, and he came out in favor of developing nuclear energy. It can be done safely, and economically competitively.

I still like trenches better than mountains for disposing of the residue. They are more stable over time. Mountains do move.

Rick Ballard


Eventually the engineers will come up with containment vessels for nuclear waste that "float" wherever they are positioned. If "dangerous nuclear waste" is properly defined (and properly refined) then the amount produced is much less than advertised. The trench solution would be OK if the 'long updwell' cycle could be irrefutably proven regarding duration and the potential for a volcano popping up under a dump site could be reliably ascertained.

Plant siting with an eye toward abandoning a plant rather than decommissioning and removal would be helpful too. As would a "real" examination of the after effects of Chernobyl - and Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It still won't stop the green luddites from filing suits at the hint of an application for a license to operate. The only way to overcome that (barring statutory relief that would require a polictical class that could pass the test for assignment to the chordata family) is to file for so many that the luddites run out of money. Ten applications at once ought to do the trick.

I second your observations concerning CT and Harry - there is also a majority within the country that would support pebble bed reactors if you could get them to sit down for ten minutes for a presentation. Of course, I wouldn't accrue frequent flyer miles had I wings, too.


'chordata' made me wriggle. You know WAY more than I do.


What do you think of that idea that the presence of vast hydrocarbon stores demonstrates that there has been progressive, virtually irreversible, sequestration of carbon from the biosphere. What is the end point of that? Or is there enough carbon dioxide in solution in the oceans to make that end point distant enough to stop worrying about. If that were the case, our recent release of carbon dioxide will soon get buffered in the ocean.

N'est-ce pas?


Salute those valiant valkyrie barreling around in SportUtes on the front lines of the Carbon Liberation Wars.


Another thing, RB, if you had all 100 watters they'd take up a lot less space than the 10 watters, and at maximum capacity, that would be an issue, on say approximately, an order of magnitude. Give or take, you know.


Nuclear waste is not just some unavoidable law-of-nature result of using nuclear power, it is an engineering failure in that the waste represents energy that we did not fully extract during the process of producing electricity. And like any engineering problem, eventually engineers will solve it. A couple of years ago my husband went to a talk about a system that the guys were engineering which would completely consume all of the radioactive material during the operation of the plant. The main problem is that of diversion -- you would make quite a bit weapons-grade material along the line and then destroy it later in the process.

So when storing the nuclear waste, you need to stop thinking along the way of permanent storage, and make sure that in 50-100 years we will be able to go get the stuff out of storage and destroy it while making electricity with it.

cathy :-)

Rick Ballard


I can't find the relevant article but that was the gist of the argument for "floating" containment. The idea was that such containment can be built if the event horizon is set at 200 years rather than the 10,000 year horizon proposed by the greenies. A 200 year event was to include a '10' quake. Not really a very big deal considering that CA has been building hospitals to an '8' standard for over twenty years and that the engineering required to go up two orders of magnitude already exists. Although it ain't cheap.

Harry Arthur

What annoys me about all this is that we have all the technology we need right now (at least for the next step), and are stuck on stupid.

Couldn't agree more, CT, including your other comments on nuclear, both fision and fusion. With regard to global warming, I think the jury is still out, not particularly on warming per se, but on the degree to which human generated CO is responsible. I suspect our agreements are more than our differences on that account, however, and as you have also accurately noted, nuclear is the safest source of energy when considering CO emissions and warming. As has also been noted, the technology for fision at least is not terribly difficult. Only politics stand in the way of extensive use of very safe nuclear power in the US.

Aren't the Canadians working more on tar sands up in Alberta than shale oil?

Rick, I believe you are correct. I confess to have been shooting from memory so missed that one. I agree with the remainder of your comments also. Exploiting our shale oil and dirty coal is clearly an economic cost-benefit consideration, but at some point the price of oil will be high enough to make it economically feasible to go after these resources if we're still tied to oil and/or coal for energy production. Personally, I think it would be a shame to have to do that when there are arguably other better sources of energy that are easier and clearner such as nuclear and hydrogen. If I recall the chemistry correctly, though hydrogen fuel produces some heat, there is no CO byproduct, only water?

Interestingly, my first exposure to these subjects was in a Futures course I took with UMUC on the weekends during an Army tour in Germany in about 1980. Very interesting. We had a long reading list with accompanying writing assignments due every Saturday with a fairly detailed thesis due at the end.

I can't remember the title of the primary text but it was a study of the future done at Harvard, as I recall, that made several 20 year predictions for the year 2000. One of the other books I particularly remember was titled Small is Beautiful, suggesting limited, or "appropriate" technology as the answer to most problems, particularly in the developing world.

The most interesting point, of which Rick's earlier post reminded me, is that virtually every prediction in each of the texts, and particularly in the primary text, was completely wrong. Not slightly wrong, 180 degrees wrong. One perfect example is that the world oil production would decline precipitously, no new supplies would be found, and a gallon of gasoline would cost in excess of $5 to $10 or more in 1980 dollars, if it was available at all.

There was really no anticipation of the very significant technological developments we've actually seen in the intervening 26 years. For all practical purposes, the philosophy of most of the reading was what I can only term Malthusian. I make this last point to add my agreement to your assertion that there are some policy makers inhibiting progress toward energy independence simply because they lack the imagination to think in new ways.


Energy is mutable.

Joe Kelley

The following link advertises
21% fuel savings for an initial cost of $247.00
Hydro-Gen is already up and running and has been on the Web for some time now.

The next link is a company that has discovered a new form of hydrogen gas called HHO gas. They use basically the same hardware as the first link to arrive at 51% fuel savings per car.
HTA have international patents pending and they are about to hit the Stock Market with an initial offering.

Check out the video on the link. Check out the scientific papers on HHO gas written by Ruggero Maria Santilli.

More on Santilli here:

51% savings for one vehicle is enough to almost off-set a mortgage on a house.

Times one by the number of vehicles on the road worldwide and what you have is a revolution; a peaceful one at that.


Is this new substance called dihydrogen oxide?

Don't tell anyone it's a greenhouse gas.

Joe Kelley


If you don’t read the links provided then I can try to communicate what they say here and now.


Dihydrogen Monoxide

“Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as Dihydrogen Oxide, Hydrogen Hydroxide, Hydronium Hydroxide, or simply Hydric acid. Its basis is the unstable radical Hydroxide, the components of which are found in a number of caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds such as Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerine and Ethyl Alcohol.”

That is not HHO gas.



“In this paper we present, apparently for the first time, various measurements on a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen called HHO gas produced via a new electrolyzer (international patents pending by Hydrogen Technologies Applications, Inc. of Clearwater, Florida),which mixture is distinctly different than the Brown and other known gases. The measurements herein reported suggest the existence in the HHO gas of stable clusters composed of H and O atoms, their dimers H-O, and their molecules H2, O2 and H2O whose bond cannot entirely be of valence type. Numerous anomalous experimental measurements on the HHO gas are reported in this paper for the first time. To reach their preliminary, yet plausible interpretation, we introduce the working hypothesis that the clusters constituting the HHO gas have resulted to be a new application of the new chemical species of magnecules[3]. It is indicated that the creation of the gaseous and combustible HHO gas from distilled water without the necessary evaporation or separation energy, suggest the existence of a new form of the water, apparently introduced in this paper for the first time, with the structure (HxH)–O where x represents the new magnecular bond and – the conventional molecular bond. The transition from the conventional H-O-H species to the new HxH-O species is predicted by a change of the electric polarization of water caused by the electrolyzer. When H-O-H is liquid, the new species HxH-O can only be gaseous, thus explaining the transition of state without evaporation or separation energy. Finally, the new species (Hx H)-O is predicted to be unstable and decay into HxH and O, by permitting a plausible interpretation of the anomalous constituents of the HHO gas as well as its anomalous behavior.”

The “Science” appears to confirm what I say: HHO gas is not Dihydrogen Monoxide.

It won’t matter what I tell anyone if their ears, eyes, and mouths are rigidly conservative concerning new stuff.



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