The Two Koreas, 1950–2008: An Unplanned Experiment in Economic Systems, the Carbon Footprint and Human Well-Being

 

Guest post by Indur M. Goklany

Lately, North Korea has been very much in the news. Its population—or should I say, “captive population”—greets the passing of the baton from one ruler to another in the same spirit as “Kim is dead, long live Kim!” probably because they are unaware of the following satellite photos.  Many readers here have probably encountered them previously.

image

image

 

East Asia at night. Top photo from 1994-95 which outlines North Korea is from MSNBC at http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/19/9564314-satellites-document-north-koreas-dark-ages?pc=25&sp=25. Bottom photo is from 2009. Source: http://agora. ex.nii.ac.jp/~kitamoto/research/rs/stable-lights.html.en.

Not only do the photographs illustrate the lack of economic development in North Korea, they show that it has one of the lightest carbon footprints in the world. And the various indicators of human well-being reflect that dark reality, as shown in the following table.

image

It wasn’t always thus. In the early 1950s, to the extent data are available, the two countries were about equal in terms of economic development and human well-being. In fact, in 1960, according to the World Bank data, North Korea’s life expectancy was marginally higher than in the South (55.2 yrs vs. 53.0 yrs). Of course, the North’s data may have been fluffed up a little bit by its government before being adopted by the World Bank, but I don’t know for sure.

But over time, South Korea’s freer economic system pulled it ahead. Then, the loss of external support because of the collapse of the Soviet Union turned North Korea into a basket case in the 1990s (see the following figure). Finally, the South also became more democratic and its economic and social systems became more transparent. The consequences are evident in the above photographs and the following figure.

image

Per capita GDP and per capita CO2 emissions, 1950-2008. Sources: Maddison (2008) and World Bank (2011).

The photographs and the figure are, among other things, also a stark warning of the dangers of excessive zeal in limiting a country’s carbon footprint.

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98 Responses to The Two Koreas, 1950–2008: An Unplanned Experiment in Economic Systems, the Carbon Footprint and Human Well-Being

  1. Interstellar Bill says:

    No light pollution, no inequality, little electricity, few cars:
    why that’s Green Heaven for sure, anti-natalist to the max.

  2. kuhnkat says:

    Consider that most of NK’s exports are weapons and weapons technology…

  3. mikelorrey says:

    The socialists will of course blame it all on the imperialist running dogs in the United States.

  4. crosspatch says:

    Looks like a textbook case of “Sustainable Development” to me.

    Zero development can be sustained forever. And think of all the saved maintenance costs!

  5. “Kim is dead, long live Kim!”
    ————————————
    Some are Chosen to lead.

  6. jim heath says:

    you have to feel sorry for the people, they are kept utterly ignorant of what is happening in the World. This of course makes me even more angry when in Australia information is freely available but the population is too lazy to inform themselves. Oh and a tip for Andrew Wilke, why would you waste so much time on trying to protect an idiot that knows the machine they play is programmed to take money off you, Andrew! someone will remove the money from these people why waste your time?

  7. The blinding glare of Utopia.

  8. perlcat says:

    To make things worse, look at the top picture — there *are* lights — they all are at the perimeter of the country, all facing hungrily outward. The interior of the country is dark, dark, dark. In a sane economy, the lights would either be distributed throughout the country, or at least be concentrated at various interior locations.

    Very sad, indeed.

  9. Truthseeker says:

    North Korea is clearly the CO2 free paradise that the IPCC want for the whole world. I know, lets move the UN to Pyongyang and let those bureaucrats enjoy what they want for everyone else.

  10. Juraj V. says:

    Kim might have been the only politician who cared for polar bears.

  11. Mr says:

    This is a testament to the inhuman scope of the moral and ethical crimes committed against the people of North Korea by their government. North Korea is the purest example of the opposite of capitalism in the world today – statism, collectivism, “social justice” and big government taken to their inevitable conclusion. This satellite photo is what I think of every time I hear the false claim “capitalists have no heart”.

  12. Mike the convict says:

    Bob Brown and the Greens dream for Australia right there people.

  13. perlcat says:
    December 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    To make things worse, look at the top picture — there *are* lights — they all are at the perimeter of the country, all facing hungrily outward.

    Actually, that is just a line someone drew on the map to indicate the border.
    Anyway, looks like NK is a “world leader” in the fight against light pollution ….

  14. GeoLurking says:

    This is going to sound callous, but bear with me.

    The ruling entity in North Korea is kept in place by the civilized world. We feed his hungry with aid since short and stupid, (or whatever the new corpse wanted to call himself when he was alive) focused the entirety of his effort on being a malcontent and developing weapons. If the food dried up, all he had to do was rattle his cage and we (the civilized world) would pony up the goodies.

    I’m not even convinced that North Korea ever attained fission in their bomb “tests.”

    A year or so before the first test, maybe more, the Littlest Emperor very nearly died in an explosion that happened very soon after his train had passed through there. Rumors of an assassination attempt ran rampant. In all likelihood, it was just a run of the mill accident. Things like that happen when you produce large quantities of ammonium nitrate.

    Ammonium nitrate is a key fertilizer, and very useful in an agricultural society. It’s also handy in the manufacture of explosives.

    What follows is conjecture. (mine and possibly wrong)

    This explosion probably gave the little emperor an idea. Take a mine, and pack it full of ANFO (the same stuff used in Oklahoma City). If it’s deep enough, and there is enough of it, it will look like a nuke. As far as I know, no radio active material was ever picked up by sensors from that first blast.

    The world poo-pooed the fizzled nuke for this reason. So, blast number two incorporated radioactive material from the reactor(s) that he has. This material was subsequently detected in neighboring countries.

    People still marvel at how you can go from no nuclear warhead capability to a highly advanced controlled small yield version in just one test. One test that ostensibly not achieve fission.

    Am I wrong? It’s possible. I don’t know what isotopes were actually detected, and some of them are specific to the type of reaction (explosive verses reactor). That is the biggest weak-point of my idea.

    So… the world is now better that the little emperor slowly decomposes. I seriously doubt that his replacement is going to be any better.

  15. Samurai says:

    This North Korea evening satellite photo is exactly what the Warmist would love to accomplish for the entire world. A very dark future indeed.

  16. John West says:

    I just hope those South Koreans occasionaly think about and appreciate what American military men and women have done for them.

    Something we Americans could do as well.

    If you’re a vet, THANK YOU!

  17. Keith W. says:

    GeoLurking, just him having a reactor that can produce plutonium is enough of a threat. Plutonium is one of the most poisonous substances on the planet. Its lethal dose is unbelievable small. You don’t have to use it in a nuclear bomb for it to be a threat. A regular bomb that held a quantity of plutonium would be enough to aerosol the sample, spreading it over a significant area. Anyone who inhaled any of the aerosol would face possible death, and certainly illness. For years, this type of “nuclear” threat has been the bigger fear of anti-terrorist organizations rather than a full nuclear device. The general processing and machining needed to produce a nuclear device is much easier to detect than just someone acquiring a sample mass of plutonium.

  18. The Engineer says:

    Perfect place to measure temperature change unaffected by urban heat effect.

    Imagine the following headline:
    “The Kim il Sung correction (KISC) removes 0,5 degree celcius from GISS anomally”.

  19. Torgeir Hansson says:

    Cry your eyes out for the Dear Leader. Cry with me!
    Dead? No o no! Cruel world, undo this blow, this indignity! This outrage!
    On his bier he lies now. He rests. The cooling fan wafts a solemn good-bye through the magnificent pompadour, the lion’s mane framing the Roman profile. Good-bye!
    His Italian platform shoes? Empty—never again to click on the marble tiles of the Great Revolutionary Hall. Be still, yet set your heart aghast to the cruel stillness.
    The Great Porn Collection stands idle on its extraordinarily long shelf. Asia Carrera, cry with me. Your honeyed skin will ne’er again fog a hero’s eyeglasses! Nikki Coxx, bow your head (but not too far) for your tush has danced its final jig on the People’s screen.
    The exquisite, near-mint DVD of Titanic The Movie, barely watched for the tears it brought to that noble face—who will see you now? Who will cry over the boy wonder Di Caprio?
    The world cries: re-run this life!
    His heroic endorsement of the Dark Skies Initiative—the glorious twinkling above—THAT is his legacy.
    The Horsehead Nebula is yours, O North Korean, o peasant, o soldier, to feast on with your naked eye.
    No bowl of rice, no kim chee, no Bib Bam Bap, can match the rings of Saturn, outside the hut, by the hollow song of the rusted tractor.

  20. Ideal location for the next IPCC COP junket. They can demonstrate to all who attend the benefits of success in a de-carbonized world.

  21. crosspatch says:

    Stacey York Morris (@scm15010) says:
    December 22, 2011 at 12:02 am

    It’s a good thing that nobody on the planet who matters takes the Guardian seriously.

  22. crosspatch says:

    GeoLurking, just him having a reactor that can produce plutonium is enough of a threat. Plutonium is one of the most poisonous substances on the planet.

    All reactors in use create plutonium. In fact, by the time fuel rods are removed from a reactor, most of the fission is being supplied by plutonium. A fuel rod has only enough U-235 to run the fission reaction for a small amount of time. During that time, neutrons from the U-235 reaction change the natural U-238 to P-239 through the addition of a neutron. So the non-fissionable natural U-238 is converted to fissionable P-239. Interestingly, the longer you leave it in there, the more P-240 you produce. Sometimes P-239 doesn’t split, it absorbs a neutron and becomes P-240. P-240 is poison to a bomb, you don’t want any P-240 anywhere NEAR a bomb. P-240 is nearly impossible to separate from P-239, too.

    The problem is that P-240 can undergo spontaneous fission and you don’t want something in a bomb that will undergo spontaneous fission.

    Actually, if you read “Smarter Use of Nuclear Waste” it will explain all of that:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=smarter-use-of-nuclear-waste

    Read that, have your kids read it, make sure your elected officials read it. This is what China is doing right now. Bill Gates is working with China right now on building fast neutron reactors for recycling fuel.

  23. 4 eyes says:

    Some watermelon will find something beautiful to say about North Korea along the lines that its current condition is all the west’s fault. However it is clear from all the night satellite shots that there is a strong correlation between abundant energy and a society’s level of development.

  24. Brian H says:

    It probably helps the NK regime that life-long malnutrition severely reduces IQ.

  25. Keith W. says: December 22, 2011 at 12:14 am Plutonium is one of the most poisonous substances on the planet
    Wrong. I used to have a block of plutonium on my desk as a paperweight. Then some greenie nark official confiscated it because I tossed it in his direction. There are no obvious health effects of that ownership. We disposed of that poison myth in the 1970s, which suggests you have not kept up with your reading. Try some modern nerve gases or even natural anthrax or botulism vectors instead if you have to invent a ‘most poisonous’.
    ……………………………..
    GeoLurking says: December 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm re ANFO explosions
    Again, decades ago, possibly pre-1960s, geophysicists analysed seismic properties from large explosions, natural and otherwise. Nuclear had a distinctive fingerprint. It’s unlikely that the fertilizer in the bat cave would trick the system.

  26. bill says:

    Why does the North Korea CO2 line plummet around 1996? What happened? Some change in government policy? Some connection with events in Russia, or China?

  27. John Marshall says:

    The idea that the UN could field ‘Green’ troops is a non starter. The UN can’t even keep the peace when asked let alone anything else. The people it would be trying to control, the West, are those that control the purse strings and even now the US is behind in its contributions and undoubtedly the UK is as well.

  28. Beth Cooper says:

    North Korea, living relic of The Dark Ages. Pity they don’t allow history tours.

  29. Alan the Brit says:

    Truthseeker says:
    December 21, 2011 at 11:12 pm
    North Korea is clearly the CO2 free paradise that the IPCC want for the whole world. I know, lets move the UN to Pyongyang and let those bureaucrats enjoy what they want for everyone else.

    Not quite, it’s what they want to impose upon everyone……………except themselves. Just as Kim Jong Il enjoyed his pies looking at the photos of him, & his son, yet I daresay “his people” would probably have preferred a bit more in handfuls of rice than their Beautiful Leader gave them!!!

    Happy Christmas to you all & a Happy & Prsoperous New Year! :-)

    AtB SIgning off till 2012!

  30. L Nettles says:

    Plutonium is not one of the most poisonous elements unless you are trying to scare people.

  31. Dodgy Geezer says:

    @Samurai

    “This North Korea evening satellite photo is exactly what the Warmist would love to accomplish for the entire world. A very dark future indeed…”

    Astronomers would also love to accomplish this. Difference is, they don’t try to force it on people….

  32. Paul R says:

    I blame Hans Brix.

  33. Old Goat says:

    Those clever North Koreans – they have invented “dark light” which can’t be seen from space…

  34. Pete in Cumbria UK says:

    Going on from GeoLurking and mayve a wee bit OT…..perhaps there is a God, but maybe not any ‘joined-up thinking’
    Why…
    Not far from me, in SW Scotland, the British Geological Society (BGS) have an ‘outpost’ measuring and recording seismic activity in all its guises. One of their ‘proudest’ achievements was recording a 1.6 Richter quake when PanAm 103 hit the ground. But, one of their important jobs, if not THE most important, is listening out for nuclear tests as they occur (or not) around the globe.
    Of course this listening tackle is very sensitive and as a consequence, BGS have effectively (via objection(s) to the planning permission you need) banned the erection of all large wind turbines within a 50 km radius of their station.
    Who’d have guessed, wind turbines sound like earthquakes or nuclear bomb tests?

  35. DirkH says:

    GeoLurking says:
    December 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm
    “This is going to sound callous, but bear with me.
    The ruling entity in North Korea is kept in place by the civilized world. We feed his hungry with aid since short and stupid, (or whatever the new corpse wanted to call himself when he was alive) focused the entirety of his effort on being a malcontent and developing weapons. If the food dried up, all he had to do was rattle his cage and we (the civilized world) would pony up the goodies.”

    You are wrong. N Korea lost support by the Soviet Union but gained support by China (less subsidy than by the Soviets, but still, that’s what keeps the system from collapsing). N Korea is today a buffer zone for the Chinese empire.

  36. DirkH says:

    Keith W. says:
    December 22, 2011 at 12:14 am
    “GeoLurking, just him having a reactor that can produce plutonium is enough of a threat. Plutonium is one of the most poisonous substances on the planet. Its lethal dose is unbelievable small. ”

    This is disputed. There’s no obvious reason for this legendary toxicity of Plutonium; it should be expected to be about as toxic as similar heavy metals like Cadmium, plus, of course, being radioactive, it would add a cancer risk, but as its half life is way higher than that of say radioactive Iodine, it radiates accordingly less.

    http://atomicinsights.com/1995/05/how-deadly-plutonium.html

  37. Hector Pascal says:

    Shocking numbers in the table. Circa 3 tonnes of carbon to freeze through the winter and grow barely enough rice to survive the year. Ten tonnes gives an industrialised economy. Six times the infant death rate.

    @John West. Do you think South Koreans should give thanks to the British and Australian forces who died defending South Korea from the north? Or do you think that they shouldn’t be thanked because they were not American?

  38. Mark Smith says:

    Plutonium is not the most lethal by a long way.

    http://www.fortfreedom.org/p22.htm

  39. Matthew W. says:

    “The photographs and the figure are, among other things, also a stark warning of the dangers of excessive zeal in limiting a country’s carbon footprint.”
    ============================================================
    The Obama EPA is going to take how many mega watts of coal fired electricity offline???

  40. Caroline says:

    The so-called “carbon footprint” was dreamed up as a way for western governments to make their taxpayers feel guilty enough to pay for their “sin” of generating “emissions” with an ever-lengthening list of carbon taxes. The latest example of this is the new EU carbon tax of about $20 added to every ticket for anyone flying through EU airspace from Jan 1st. This is on top of the Air Passenger Duty (APD Tax) already added to tickets bought in the UK which has been justified by the government as an environmental tax on “carbon emissions”.

  41. meemoe_uk says:

    The ruling entity in North Korea is kept in place by the civilized world.
    Yes. The west covertly funded Russia, the soviets and communism from 1917 onwards. Why? It was an cover excuse to smash up competitor economies, such as Korea i.e. send the soviets in, then intervene and get the country to pay for your intervention, then parry the soviets rather than defeat them. result – half the country subdued by the soviets, the other half heavily in debt to western banks. Win.
    This system was useful before the internet stock market made it more viable to subdue economies with a few mouse clicks ( the shooting of the east tiger economies in the 1990s ). The stoppage of funding for the soviet system was substantially due to the internet.
    North Korea exists today to keep Korea malleable to western interests.

  42. Beesaman says:

    A pity that in the North Korean model low carbon means low carbohydrates as well. But that is what you get when dogma is more important than reason and freedom.

  43. enneagram says:

    That´s the ideal world of the United Nations, the “Brave New World” of the beatnik, hippie, subterraneans´generation, who survived (nobody knows how) to the massive intake of stimulants, some of who still survive through having powdery white “aspirations”.
    Their ideology was summarized in John Lennon´song “Imagine”:

    Imagine there’s no heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people living for today

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people living life in peace

    You, you may say
    I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people sharing all the world

    You, you may say
    I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you’ll join us
    And the world will live as one

    And in a more detailed form, in the UN´s AGENDA 21:

    http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21

    /

  44. bwanajohn says:

    Makes you wonder why our “green” Hollywood elite are immigrating in droves to North Korea to enjoy the environmentalist’s paradise, huh?

  45. Ex-Wx Forecaster says:

    Low per capita carbon foot print. Strong, central government that can tell people how to live and how not to consume…anything.

    This is the Green Heaven. This seems to be what they are working toward–with themselves in the Kim Jong Il role.

  46. Anteros says:

    I think you could have added another thing to ….”economic systems, carbon footprints and human well-being…” namely, “environmental health”
    I sometimes wonder if the concept of environmental health is actually meaningful, but for the sake of argument I assume that it does – land and life is more productive and can be said to thrive more with more environmental health.
    With that addition, it is clear that the poverty of North Korea is one of the things that creates environmental degradation along with its two brothers-in-arms, oppressive government and an absence of private ownership. I’m biased, but if I compare the environmental paradise in which I live (the green and pleasant land called England) I notice that we are wealthy, we have a democratically elected un-oppressive government, and everything and everywhere in the country is looked after – someone has responsibility for it, manages it and cares for it – not least because they may profit from its health. The ‘tragedy of the commons’ is something that afflicts undemocratic, dispossessed people, and yet it is an unobserved irony that environmentalists wants to restrict not only wealth and freedom, but also private ownership.
    North Korea is a ‘living’ example of what those three paths will lead to.

  47. son of mulder says:

    Think of all the carbon credits we in the west must owe them;>)

  48. Jay Davis says:

    Maryland’s Governor, Martin O’Malley, wants to do the same for Maryland.

  49. Rob says:

    North Korea must be an environmentalist’s wet dream, as long as they are inside the palace controlling the world’s population.

    These kind of satellite images should be censored an WUWT, it is just going to drive visiting warmists to reach for silk handkerchiefs.

  50. Spector says:

    It looks like the official story on the death of Kim Jong-il is being questioned:

    thestar . com [Toronto Star]
    How did Kim Jong-il really die? Spy agency doubts official story

    “South Korean spymasters, stung by being caught unaware when North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died, are challenging the official version of his death.”

    http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1105767–how-did-kim-jong-il-really-die-spy-agency-doubts-official-story?bn=1

  51. Babsy says:

    Mike Bromley the Kurd says:
    December 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    The blinding glare of Utopia.

    You’re aware that there are individuals who would willingly emigrate to NK if the NK government would allow it?

  52. Jason Calley says:

    And how did North Korea get those nuclear reactors? Bill Clinton OKed them and Donald Rumsfeld sold them. Good old bipartisan boogy-man creation!

  53. Olen says:

    It is true the people of N. Korea are so starved they do not weigh enough to leave a foot print.

    The late Kim, who was well fed, had his own lane reserved 24/7 for his personal use when being driven about town so there would be no need to clear traffic even though there was little traffic day or night.

    Dictators always take care of themselves very well giving themselves special privilege and ripping off the wealth of the nation for themselves. And there is something strange about people with un-restrained power, the more they have the more they want to use and abuse.

    There is also something about free people who have to be suppressed to prevent them from advancing themselves, and that is where the climate alarmists and willing politicians and regulators come into the picture to save a free people from themselves and from their freedom.

  54. G. Karst says:

    There can be no doubt that RNK, in it’s present state, serves the purposes of China. It must serve the west also, as we have enabled the government, thru aid to sustain the population, while all resources are diverted to enable the military/elite. This is exactly the plan the UN would like globally, where all resources are controlled and delegated by them.

    Like all organizations, once they obtain control and power, it is only a matter of time, until hijacked by some psychopath. Society has never learned to avoid psychopathic leaders and our governments are designed to provide easy access for such. They are the world’s leaders, every single one.

    Btw: plutonium is not really dangerous, until configured such that neutron emission rises exponentially to detonation. It is a great tool, if you are a psychopath. The hard part is obtaining 13 pounds of plutonium. After that, any idiot psychopath, can construct one, as long as physical size, and maximum yield, is not important. GK

  55. John West says:

    @Hector Pascal

    Ok, I pulled a Patton. Sorry. Of course, you’re right, we should include all of those that have served to preserve our liberty in our gratitude.

  56. RockyRoad says:

    4 eyes says:
    December 22, 2011 at 2:13 am

    Some watermelon will find something beautiful to say about North Korea along the lines that its current condition is all the west’s fault. However it is clear from all the night satellite shots that there is a strong correlation between abundant energy and a society’s level of development.

    I’ll give it a go: The best thing about North Korea is that it is an icon of communism. Everybody knows the worst place to live in the world would be N. Korea, even with their horrible “dear leader” now dead and gone. As a consequence, anyplace else would be more beautiful. And that’s a very sad thing to say considering the potential of their humble people (they’re closely related to S. Koreans, of course) and the natural beauty of their peninsular nation.

  57. Willis
    Re: “Then, the loss of external support because of the collapse of the Soviet Union turned North Korea into a basket case in the 1990s (see the following figure).”

    The primary driver was the loss of subsidized diesel fuel compounded by North Korea’s lack of hard currency earnings to purchase fuel on the open market. This gives an extremely hard lesson on the consequences of fuel shortages.

    See Fuel and Famine: Rural Energy Crisis in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea James H. Williams, David Von Hippel and Peter Hayes, Policy Paper #46, March 2000 ISBN 0-934367-62-8, ISSN 1088-2081
    Copyright © 2000 by the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation
    igcc3.ucsd.edu/pdf/policypapers/PP46.pdf

    Consequent to the Soviet Union’s collapse, North Korea’s
    Oil supply dropped from 2.7 to 1.1 million tons from 1990 to 1996.
    “Road and rail freight transport were reduced to 40% of 1990 values by 1996″

    With no diesel fuel to run coal trains to fertilizer plants,
    Fertilizer collapsed from 600 to 100 thousand tons.

    Spare parts also disappeared. With no tractor parts, fuel or fertilizer compounded by weather,
    Grain production collapsed from 9 to 2.5 million tons.

    Consequently some 900,000 to 3.5 million people starved.

    WARNING: Fuel importing countries are currently on a similar though slower track.
    Global oil consumption has exceeded discoveries since 1980.
    Alternatives are NOT being developed as fast enough to prevent a downturn.
    Lloyd’s of London is warning of global fuel shortages starting between 2012 and 2015.
    Sustainable Energy Security: Strategic Risks and Opportunities for Industry Lloyd’s 360 Risk Insight, Chapham House

    The Impending World Energy Mess 9th ASPO 2011

    For application to other fuel importing countries see:
    Peak Net Exports—A Five Year Retrospective and a Look Forward Jeffrey Brown & Samuel Foucher, ASPO 2011

    Note particularly Available Net Exports peaked in 2005 and are down 13% by 2011.

    Saudi Net Oil Exports appear to have peaked in 2005. See westexas Saudi Oil Exports Versus US Oil Prices
    2002-2010 (EIA, Total Liquids)
    2002: 7.1 mbpd & $26
    2003: 8.3 mbpd & $31
    2004: 8.6 mbpd & $42
    2005: 9.1 mbpd & $57
    2006: 8.4 mbpd & $66
    2007: 8.0 mbpd & $72
    2008: 8.4 mbpd & $100
    2009: 7.3 mbpd & $62
    2010: 7.4* mbpd & $79

    We need a priority on developing alternative fuels to keep our economies going – and reduce the consequences of the impending lack of available transport fuel as shown by North Korea.

  58. Smokey says:

    David L. Hagen says:

    “”We need a priority on developing alternative fuels to keep our economies going.”

    No, we need a priority on developing the immense fossil fuels available within the U.S. Alternative fuels are a waste of time, money and resources.

  59. Don says:

    These photos are clearly not representative of the true comforts of life in the NKorean capital. UV photography would clearly show the people warming themselves by the campfires lighted in the upper stories of the high rise apartment buildings in Pyongyang. So there.

  60. Smokey
    Thanks for pointing out the misunderstanding of “alternative”.
    By “Alternative fuels” I mean everything but fuels from light crude oil. i.e., “Alternative” includes synfuels from “immense fossil fuels”, including oil sands, heavy oil, coal – and solar thermal etc.

    We need alternative fuels with EROI >> 4 to survive.
    (I agree that with an EROI of ~ 1, Ethanol from grain does NOT qualify. See:
    Seeking to Understand the Reasons for Different Energy Return on Investment (EROI) Estimates for Biofuels, Charles A.S. Hall 1,*, Bruce E. Dale 2 and David Pimentel 3)
    Conventional shale oil is marginal: See
    Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of Oil Shale, Cutler J. Cleveland * and Peter A. O’Connor

    “At the wellhead” EROI is approximately 2:1 for shale oil
    (again, considering internal energy) and 20:1 for petroleum.

    I expect synfuels from solar thermal will eventually have the highest EROI and lowest cost.

    See Charles Hall on EROI
    Especially: Special Issue “New Studies in EROI (Energy Return on Investment)” (available as Open Access)

    See posts on EROI at TheOilDrum.com and articles on EROI & fuel.

  61. RiHo08 says:

    Are the photos from space an example of astrophysicists finding a “black hole” here on earth?

  62. Quinn says:

    North Korea should become a Mecca for astronomical observatories. No light pollution.

  63. FrankSW says:

    To get a flavour of what happened during the 90’s when the Soviets dropped support you should read “Nothing to Envy” by Barbara Demick when 20% of the population died through starvation.
    I suppose we should be grateful that they did their bit to “save the planet” by reducing the amount CO2 “pollution”.

  64. AK says:

    Also of note … North Korea has been completely deforested due to government-mandated planting of marginal land and wholesale chopping of remaining trees for fuelwood. This explains why they have recurring problems with flooding! In contrast South Korea has run one of the world’s most successful reforestation campaigns.

  65. Vince Causey says:

    Even the figure of 3.2 tons/capita in N Korea paints a misleadingly genourous picture, when you consider that most of that “per capita” footprint is socialised rather than privatised. In other words, it is largely the result of the states military apparatus, state factories and state bureaucracies.

    Once the workers go home at the end of the day, they leave their per capitas behind.

  66. Smokey says:

    David L. Hagen,

    Thanks for pointing out that we’re on the same page.

  67. dtbronzich says:

    Yes, but their views of the night sky and constellations must be fantastic!!

  68. Dave Springer says:

    According to Willis’ thesis North Korea must not have had access to cheap energy. All the coal mines are in the south, presumably.

  69. Marian says:

    “Truthseeker says:
    December 21, 2011 at 11:12 pm
    North Korea is clearly the CO2 free paradise that the IPCC want for the whole world. I know, lets move the UN to Pyongyang and let those bureaucrats enjoy what they want for everyone else.”

    Yeah,.

    The UN would probably like to model the World on N.Korea for their Agenda 21 & CO2 AGW/CC causes.

    While us the Peasants would be going around pushing/pulling carts or riding bicycles for transport, etc. The UN bureaucrats and their ilk would be driving around in their limos.!

    In Kim’s North Korea, Cars Are Scarce Symbols of Power, Wealth

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a31VJVRxcJ1Y

  70. kwik says:

    I bet the NK’s are reducing global warming with at least 0.0000000000000000000000001 degrees.

  71. Dave Springer says:

    David L. Hagen says:
    December 22, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Hi David. How’s it going at the old hangout?

    “By “Alternative fuels” I mean everything but fuels from light crude oil. i.e., “Alternative” includes synfuels from “immense fossil fuels”, including oil sands, heavy oil, coal – and solar thermal etc. ”

    You should probably be a little more specific in use of alternative because I think most of the world, or at least enough of it to cause unending confusion, considers “alternative” fuels to be those which aren’t produced from fossil fuel.

    “We need alternative fuels with EROI >> 4 to survive.”

    We need fuel cheaper than oil at $100/bbl to survive and prosper that’s for sure. The recession is going to last for decades without energy dropping in price to $30/bbl equivalent or below. At 3x the price there’s a lot of downgrading of lifestyles that has to work its way through the system before the books balance.

    “I expect synfuels from solar thermal will eventually have the highest EROI and lowest cost.”

    As you probably from our associations over the years I think you’re dead wrong there. Solar thermal is a small boondoggle trying to become a major disaster. First of all it doesn’t produce liquid fuels. Nukes aren’t terribly cost efficient, about twice as much as combined cycle natural ggas, so if electricity was the problem we could solve that and keep a respectable ROI. The problem is infrastructure. We don’t have distribution infrastructure for anywhere near enough additional electricity to put a dent in liquid fuel use. In some cases such as commercial trucking and air transporation electricity is about as useful as tits on a tomcat as there is no known means of acheiving the portable energy density those applications must have.

    Synthetic biology is the answer. Scatter some tiny seeds for a geneticially engineered organism over an acre of marginal land like what’s in the Texas panhandle and what a solid green mat grow without help that has a capillary/veinous system in it that collects vegetable oil into taps that go straight into waiting tanker trucks or something like that. It would be suitable for immediate use in unmodified diesel engines, boilers, and furnaces and is tankable, storable, and transportable with existing infrastructure.

    This will be off the shelf technology sooner than anything else. Mark my words. The neat thing is we’re not talking a cost/effective replacement for fossil fuels but such a huge reduction in the cost of energy it’ll bring about a whole new era of civilization. Probably the biggest obstacle is all the powerful applecarts that would be upset by virtually free abundant energy. How many energy companies will have to find a new schtick? They won’t go away quietly is my bet.

  72. SteveSadlov says:

    Russia intentionally lowered support during the 90s in order to further impoverish the North Koreans and make them, ultimately, even more dependent. It’s a strategy. Sick, for sure, but it is a strategy. They did not want to see an outcome like Germany directly on their border.

    BTW – the Kims are not real native Koreans, they are ethnic Koreans of Russian background, installed by Stalin.

  73. Dave Springer says:

    @David Hagen

    My apology for the last. I missed the “synfuel” part of solar thermal. That’s still a boondoggle. The problem with solar is still a biggie even if you’re using the heat to assist in fractionation or some other means of producing liquid fuels from biomass. The problem is sunlight is too dilute and requires great cost and ongoing maintenance in any concentration schemes to turn it from low quality heat to high quality heat. With biomass I’m assuming you’re talking agricultural waste which must still be collected and transported to where the conversion takes place. It also accelerates degradation of soils when it isn’t plowed under to lighten the soil and replace nutrients. That’s a non-starter almost as much as ethanol. The only real answer is a bioengineered organism that does the job all in one step on marginal soil using brackish or unpottable waste water. It can fix its own nitrogen and pretty much need no care or replishment of nutruients as hydrocarbon fuels need contain nothing more than oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon which use up only air and water.

    Within 30 years we’ll need laws that limit how much CO2 can be removed from the air because it’s a universal ready source of carbon and with carbon you can build all sorts of useful things from diamond to pencils and liquid fuels and everything in between. Mark my words. Atmospheric carbon will become a limited resource in the not too distant future. Both of may live to see it if we’re average-lucky.

  74. Matt says:

    Stunning example for a earth sensitive way to live. CO2 output is really low. Not even the concentration camps are emitting light. Why shouldnt be the nezt meeting of the AGW-circus be in the development model of the world. If critical minds come and speak out, …

    Look at poor South Korea with all that consum terror. They, we all have a lot to learn.

  75. SSam says:

    Geoff Sherrington says:
    December 22, 2011 at 2:16 am

    “… decades ago, possibly pre-1960s, geophysicists analysed seismic properties from large explosions, natural and otherwise. Nuclear had a distinctive fingerprint. It’s unlikely that the fertilizer in the bat cave would trick the system…”

    Yeah, I’m aware of that. But a large underground blast and an underground nuclear blast produce near identical compressive waveforms. These are very distinct from strike/slip and have no double couple. (compressive axis and extensional axis) Likewise, the waveform does not look like a piston movement (upper material dropping and lower material flowing up to the more vacant area, such as would be seen in a ring faulted caldera)

    The only way to get a read on what is what, is on the differences in the shape of the pulse. This requires some pretty significant resolution and a really good model of what the crust is like in that area. (wave speeds).

    And where were the “tests?” In a poorly explored (seismically) mountainous region where you have more reflectors and material interfaces than you can shake a stick at.

    This obfuscates any seismic signal in the area. I’m gonna stick with my gut feel on this one.

  76. GeoLurking says:

    Note… yeah, same person. I am GeoLurking.

  77. TXRed says:

    @ Mark and 2 Cats – That is probably the worst pun I’ve read on the ‘Net today. Well done!

  78. DirkH says:

    Dave Springer says:
    December 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm
    “Nukes aren’t terribly cost efficient, about twice as much as combined cycle natural ggas, so if electricity was the problem we could solve that and keep a respectable ROI. The problem is infrastructure. We don’t have distribution infrastructure for anywhere near enough additional electricity to put a dent in liquid fuel use. In some cases such as commercial trucking and air transporation electricity is about as useful as tits on a tomcat as there is no known means of acheiving the portable energy density those applications must have.”

    CNG solves the fuel problem just nicely.

  79. nofreewind says:

    Butt CNN gushes over North Korea

    http://www.breitbart.tv/cnn-gushes-over-north-korea/

    and Jimmy Carter offers condolences over Kim’s death

    http://www.iol.co.za/news/world/carter-offers-condolences-to-n-korea-1.1203207

  80. J Martin says:

    The perfect place for that brainwashed English politician Mr Huhne to go on holiday. He can then see at first hand what the UK will look like after he has built all those windmills, all £150,000,000,000 of them.

  81. Dan in California says:

    It takes enormous amounts of cheap electricity to make those lights. In 2008, B. Obama told the San Francisco Examiner: “Under my administration, energy costs will necessarily skyrocket”. Since getting elected, he has worked on this diligently. Among the first actions of his appointment to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was to shut down the only US power plant waste repository being developed (Yucca Mountain). Makes nuke power more expensive and less desirable in this country.

  82. Dave Springer
    Re: “Solar thermal is a small boondoggle trying to become a major disaster. . . .even if you’re using the heat to assist in fractionation or some other means of producing liquid fuels from biomass.”
    The problem with biomass is very low efficiency of ~2-3% giving $50/ton biomass etc.
    I said solar THERMAL, not biofuels (though solar thermal can help biofuels).
    Discouraged pessimists do provide the valuable service of reality checks in evaluating the commercial configurations. While you are welcome to your opinion, that need not constrain finding commercial solutions. Some clues:

    Solar thermal is being developed to directly make hydrogen. See Alan Weimer
    High Temperature Solar in Low Carbon Hydrogen Combine that with CO2 and you have methanol – and thence gasoline.

    Despite conventional wisdom, solar thermal is ameanable to major cost reductions. e.g., DOE’s sunshot is seeking to reduce the cost of heliostats from $220/m2 to $75/m2. While focused on power, the same technology can be applied to fuel development.

    I expect producing fuel below $50/bbl equivalent is eventually doable.
    It requires alot of “dreaming in detail” – otherwise known as innovative engineering, but where there is a will, there is a way.

  83. Dan in California
    Re: “Under my administration, energy costs will necessarily skyrocket”.
    Our Dear Comrade (“O”) is actively working to enforce his dictat to conform our standard of living to that achieved in North Korea. See:
    EPA Tries To Pull a Fast One

    The Mercury and Air Toxic Standards for Power Plants rule would make electricity generation far more complex and expensive, especially in the eastern half of the United States. It would require the closure of many coal and oil fired power plants, and placement of emissions control equipment on others. Forty-five percent of American electricity is produced by coal.
    Maximum Achievable Control Technology means that plants and boilers have to use the most stringent methods possible to get the heavy metals out of the air, even if these methods cost billions and the benefits are worth far less-as is the case with the new utility rule. That’s why many plants will have to close. . . .
    “If the enormous public benefits EPA predicts from these mercury standards were real, they would justify the cost to Americans of almost $11 billion per year. Unfortunately, they are not.” . . .
    EPA estimates its new rules would cost households and businesses $10 billion a year in 2016. Industry groups have estimated the costs at $40 billion to $120 billion for full compliance, with many older coal and oil-fired plants forced to close. Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Michigan are the hardest-hit, because they are home to the oldest plants with the fewest emissions controls.

    These additional costs would come on top of those to be imposed, starting around 2015, by EPA’s other planned standards for carbon, water, coal ash, and particulates.

    Those wanting a rational energy policy, please contact your legislators with this article!

  84. David Springer
    re solar “requires great cost and ongoing maintenance in any concentration schemes to turn it from low quality heat to high quality heat.”
    To quantify the solar costs see NREL’s Solar Advisor Module (SAM) (That can also give clues as to how to reduce the costs.)

  85. Dave Springer
    re coal
    See Peak Oil: A physical and economic challenge to economic growth

    Slide 16 shows So. Korea is importing 98.8% of its coal.
    Slide 7 shows the oil depletion vs growth gap.

  86. Dave Dodds says:

    A similar unintended social experiment was done with Germany at the end of WWII. When split into East and West with one under Communism and one under (moderately free market) capitalism it took a wall to keep people inside the eastern half while the western half prospered. While Eastern Germany didn’t have the extreme poverty of North Korea its economy, the best of the Eastern Bloc, was a pale shadow of the West.

  87. David L. Hagen on December 22, 2011 at 8:44 am
    Thanks much for the Fuel and Famine reference. I’ll have to read that. Also, thanks to FrankSW for reminding about the Nothing to Envy book.

    TXRed … You’re welcome!
    Indur

  88. If you have a look at the GDP/CO₂ curves, it turns out that even before the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis, although North Korea had plenty of energy, its use was terribly inefficient. And after the crisis, unlike other countries, it could never recover.

    Therefore what we see here is not a sui generis low carbon economy, but a busted one.

  89. enneagram
    One reason for US/EU solar bankruptcies is China’s aggressive push into solar.

    China offered $47 billion in loans (compared to $500 million for Solyandra):
    Chinese Renewable Companies Slow to Tap $47 Billion Credit

    China Leads Global Investments in Renewable Energy

    The world’s largest consumer of energy, China, is poised to spend $473.1 billion on clean energy investments in the next five years.

    However, aggressive expansion led to oversupply causing severe problems in China as well.
    <a href=>LDK Solar, Mathematically Bankrupt Without China (LDK, YGE, STP, TSL, JASO)

  90. John F. Hultquist says:

    Keith W., Mark S., DirkH, Geoff S., crosspatch, . . .

    Plutonium is
    not Polonium

  91. Bob Ludwick says:

    Dr. Jerry Pournelle often says, accurately, that cheap, plentiful energy is the key to freedom and prosperity.

    We have the good fortune to be governed (in fact, ruled) by an administration whose express agenda is to restrict the supply of energy and increase its cost. And an educated elite that cheers every action that they take to advance it.

    For both, North Korea is a ‘beacon, shining in the wilderness’. Metaphorically, of course.

  92. Dave Springer says:

    David L. Hagen says:
    December 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    “I expect producing fuel below $50/bbl equivalent is eventually doable.
    It requires alot of “dreaming in detail” – otherwise known as innovative engineering, but where there is a will, there is a way.”

    I wouldn’t disagree that you might get there eventually with solar thermal. The problem with that is, David, that direct production of hydrocarbon fuel by synthetic organisms will reach $5/bbl before solar thermal can get to $50/bbl.

    You are certainly entitled to a different opinion but it would be poorly informed opinion. I don’t think you realize how close the synthetic biology solution is to reality nor how far from reality lies anything that can compete with it. Mark my words.

  93. Dave Springer says:

    @DavidLHagen

    I’m not sure if you fully appreciate the inertia behind biofuel. Tens of billions of dollars annually are already moving through the end-to-end supply chain for ethanol in the United States alone. Ten billion gallons/year of ethanol is blended into the gasoline sold in the U.S. There are almost 50 different models of vehicles of all kinds from cars to suvs to trucks with E85 engines either standard or optional.

    The only thing that’s going to change is the source and cost of the ethanol and the amount being consumed. The source will shift to production on land that is not arable using water that is not potable. This will be accomplished with genetically modified organisms. The cost will plummet because there will be very little of value on the input side of the supply chain including labor. The infrastructure is already in place. As the price for ethanol falls and price of fossil oil rises E85 engines will be offered on more and more vehicles until it’s standard for all new engines. They aren’t a costly option to begin with. The same story goes for diesel. Fuel oil can be directly produced by GM organisms at pennies per gallon and can be blended into fossil derived diesel just as ethanol is blended into gasoline.

    The writing is on the wall. A granite wall.

  94. Dave Springer says:

    @DavidLHagen

    You write like someone with a vested interest in certain solar technologies.

    Just for the record I have no vested interest in any of this outside of a desire to see my electricity and fuel bills go down instead of up. How that happens matters not a bit to me and I don’t really give a damn whether it’s carbon neutral, carbon free, or carbon city. I’m convinced that in the not too distant future atmospheric CO2 will be seen as a valuable commodity and we’ll be wanting more of it than we can remove without dire consequences to primary producers in the food chain. Atmospheric CO2 will be our carbon source for production of all manner of durable goods as well as for our carbon-neutral fuels. There will be a real need for laws to limit how much can be removed for the manufacture of durable goods. How ironic given the prevailing and mistaken mindset today of needing laws to limit how much can be added.

  95. daisy says:

    someone can write with a vested interest in certain solar technologies but i am not.

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