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February 12, 2008


Fabius Maximus

No it doesn't. This is largely the result of temporary factors. Every local price spike does not have long-term significance.

What does undermines some core assumptions of energy optimists is the studies (a small number of small studies) suggesting that those vast coal reserves are...

1. Just guesses. Verifying mineral reserves takes a lot of money.

2. Much less impressive when measured in BTU's than in tons. We have mined much of the world's high grade coal. For example, America has vast fields of coal, but much of this probably has the energy density of Kitty Litter.

John Robb

Thanks for the input. However, if this marks China's shift to coal imports it changes the global price dynamic.


An article from last year (did I link this one before?) that shows how this cascades to one's local neighborhood is:

>The link between addicts and metal theft also explains the irrationality behind some of the riskiest metal thefts and their consequences. Thieves may be dishonest, but they are also rational. A thief interested in making money isn't likely to break into a substation, because the risk of death is so high for a reward of only a few hundred dollars' worth of copper. And yet, substations are getting broken into constantly, and live wires are being cut, utility poles being climbed.

>Lynch in Detroit mentions "quite a few deaths recently in the city" including one electrocution when a thief was trying to steal live wires out of a traffic box.

>Of all the techniques DTE's Lynch has employed in Detroit to combat the metal theft epidemic there, perhaps the most effective has been an awareness program that in effect amounts to reminding the police to look up. "They're trained, you know, to look for criminals banging in doors," says Lynch who started the program in 2005. "We just say, look up in the air, and since then we've had more than a dozen arrests made on the poles. That's outstanding."

I wonder just how much of our power outages are coming from meth addicts stealing grounding wires from substations. I think the sexy solution will be to blame it on hackers and SCADA attacks, while the real cause will be so mundane as to be beneath notice.

I've been reading reports of foreclosed houses being stripped of copper plumbing and electrical wiring. Many of the articles blame the previous tenants (the mortgage holders). Just how much is opportunistic theft? How much is deliberate destruction by the previous 'owner' who's pulling some line out of Moby Dick: "from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee." I know if they put quickcrete in the plumbing, then it was the previous owner.

Post-1982 pennies are mostly zinc, and the metal content is worth almost 2 cents each. I wonder what the copper in pre-1982 pennies is worth. Nickel coins are worth almost 9 cents just for the metal content. The amount of coins being melted (imagined? real?) for the metal content was enough for the govt to institute regulations prohibiting the export of more than $5 in coins at a time, as well as prohibiting melting them down for the metal.

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