Wednesday, March 30, 2005

bees dropping like flies

In recent times, the wee critters of nature have been hit hard, and fast. British songbirds are vanishing. Frog populations are plummeting. Fish are crazy. These are ill omens. But at least we still have bees licking flowers, reliable little perverts.

Then I spotted - Crisis: Honey Bee Population Disappearing via FTD

We really need those little devils. Apparently, bees are more sensitive to bio undiversity then humans are, as they are tiny. The leavings of our petro-industrial society go straight to their hips.

Sensing a dangerous tipping point, a team of crack scientists at Monsanto put together a replacement prototype - something a tad bigger, with more staying power. Minor modifications to the phenotype will suit it perfectly for Monsanto GMO crops.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Geo Green Dreams

Geo-Greening by Example
by Thomas L. Friedman
“…we could change the car-buying habits of a large segment of the U.S. public, which would make it profitable for the car companies to convert more of their fleets to hybrid or ethanol engines, which over time could sharply reduce our oil consumption.”

The 500-Mile-Per-Gallon Solution
by Max Boot
“Add in `flexible fuel’ options that already allow many cars to run on a combination of petroleum and fuels like ethanol (derived from corn) and methanol (from natural gas or coal), and you could build vehicles that could get — drum roll, please — 500 miles per gallon of gasoline. That's not science fiction; that's achievable right now.”

The greatest threat to our civilization is business as usual. Peak oil pales in comparison. Global economy boosters are influential in the mainstream American press. What are they proposing? Fantastic and nonsensical solutions to power dreams of perpetual growth. The 500 mile per gallon car is not achievable at present; Max Boot seems to have lifted that idea from Fareed Zakaria in his recent Newsweek editorial. As futurist Bruce Sterling archly noted, "that would be par for the Bush course all right == faith-based internal combustion engines."

Energy problems around the globe are increasingly obvious. The solutions are wide ranging, composed of painful choices and tradeoffs. Instead of answering manifest concerns, such as how will we feed the globe when liquid fuels start to decline, Thomas Friedman (among others) answers questions that are irrelevant with solutions that won’t work. To wit, techno fabulist Wired Magazine estimated 3.25 billion future cars, and Friedman ruminates that we therefore need ethanol and nuclear pronto to fill em’ up, as well as a dash of wind and sun to taste.

Ethanol is unsustainable. It does not have positive energy return on energy invested. If it did, say with cellulose ethanol (trees instead of corn), it would be by a slim margin. There is only so much room in corn, or trees, to pack latent carbon fuel. You would perhaps plant twenty acres of crop out of which one acre would be usable for external consumption, the rest sustaining production. And this, we pump into 3.25 billion cars? To what end? Jared Diamond has asked what the individual who cut down the last tree on Easter Island was thinking. Follow ethanol insanity an illogical end point and we find out.

Nuclear is not a practical replacement for liquid fuels. The Bush administration is proposing 50 new nuclear power plants in the U.S. by 2020, construction to commence in 2010. Barring the discovery of several new Ghawar sized fields, oil will have peaked by 2010. This will make construction of new nuclear infrastructure extraordinarily difficult, but not impossible. If the task is achieved, what does the U.S. win? 50 Gigawatts.

Make a leap of faith and assume one could efficiently and immediately turn all that energy into a replacement for liquid fuel. Working roughly from Physicist David Goostein’s numbers, each nuclear reactor could supply the equivalent of 3 million barrels of oil a year. Aggregate the hypothetical 50 new reactors and that becomes about 3 percent of the current yearly imports of oil for the United States.

Clearly, there is a lack of rigor in the energy proposals of economists and pundits who wish to see global growth continue in a straight line up to heaven. Their vision is a modern day Tower of Babel. A glance at the latest ASPO numbers for depletion shows that by 2020 we will have 17 percent less oil to use on a daily basis, but the ride will likely be bumpy, with periods of oil famine, and periods of plenty.

If Geo-Green ideas are unchallenged, we will watch tragedy unfold as unsustainable proposals continue to be written as energy policy in Washington D.C., with billions spent on blind industry wish fulfillment. Subsidies for nuclear and ethanol. Grants tossed down the rat hole to study oil shale and methane hydrates. Problems will be created faster than they are solved, right up to the point where oil depletion kicks our global economy like a mule.

The Geo-Green paradigm must be unmasked and reframed. It is not green, nor is it globally sustainable. Rather, it represents a mass delusion, the future of the globe as an ever growing continuation of our western experience - cell phones, supermarkets, televisions, and cars. Cheezy poofs and cancer for the third world embody the pinnacle of this civilization.

Allowing callow utopians frame their dead end policies as “green” will kneecap the credibility of true sustainable green movements when depletion begins.

Solutions that have a solid chance to succeed should be proposed and pursued. This might include rethinking our cities, gradually eliminating the need for cars, (lowering maintenance needs on roads) and clever use of solar energy via local, organic agriculture where petroleum inputs are carefully eliminated. Electricity and liquid fuel should be applied to pumping water and maintaining agriculture before all else.

Proposing a return to a semi-agrarian society is a tough sell in our bling addled age, but it represents a truly conservative ethic. Breathing room is needed to solve our problems and prevent an overshoot population collapse. We needn’t unweave the progress of the last century, but rather take the opportunity to cast aside the worst parts of industrialism that pollute our world and devalue our lives.

The globe should have about (70) million barrels of oil a day flowing in 2020, (down from 84). That is a massive amount of energy, enough to solve all our problems, and represents a self enforcing Kyoto, as depletion will proceed apace from there.

An opportunity, if we don’t squander it.

It's the eighties so where's our rocket packs?
Go anywhere, we strap them on our backs

I thought by now I'd walk the moon
And ride a car without no tires
And have a robot run the vacuum
And date a girl made out of wires
No things don't change that much, do they?

Words and Music by Terry Taylor
©1984 Twitchen Vibes Music (ASCAP)

glug glug

Sunday, March 27, 2005

blood feud

A very good rendering of some deathless financial drama, and in this case the topic just so happens to be peak oil... Spot the protagonist and the villain!

Suzan Mazur, Debate or Vendetta?
(Michael) Lynch came out slugging, informing conference callers that (Colin) Campbell refuses to appear with him since 1997, saying "you'll understand why very shortly". He seems to view Campbell as old school and too tired to be optimistic about the future.
Lynch believes the Hubbert model that Campbell's theory relies on ­ discoveries and production follow a bell curve ­ is not only "incorrectly modeled", but is "much closer to being junk science". He says further, that while Campbell and his colleague, Jean Laharrere, have now "stopped saying that" . . . they've "never admitted they were wrong".
(Lynch) characterizes Colin Campbell's and Jean Laharrere's modeling as"curve fitting" ­ not geological research ­ "like people who look at stock market cycles and try to come up with waves". Lynch acknowledges that field size is determined by geology but says "the process of discovery is an economic one."

If the curve fits, you must aquit.

Doubtless Lynch could sell ice cubes to a freezer tray. In print, a sales job always looks odd. Ever notice how if you start slightly nodding your head while talking, most people start be-bopping right along with you? If you really want to bake your noodle, question whether you were the first to nod.

When in Rome


Appian's Libyca: "The Destruction of Carthage"
Then came new scenes of horror. The fire spread and carried everything down, and the soldiers did not wait to destroy the buildings little by little, but pulled them all down together. So the crashing grew louder, and many fell with the stones into the midst of the dead. Others were seen still living, especially old men, women and young children who had hidden in the inmost nooks of the houses, some of them wounded, some more or less burned, and uttering horrible cries. Stll others, thrust out and falling from such a height with the stones, timbers, and fire, were torn asunder into all kinds of horrible shapes, crushed and mangled.


...there is no Fallujah...
Cole: Readers often write in for an update on Fallujah. I am sorry to say that there is no Fallujah to update. The city appears to be in ruins and perhaps uninhabitable in the near future. Of 300,000 residents, only about 9,000 seem to have returned, and apparently some of those are living in tents above the ruins of their homes. The rest of the Fallujans are scattered in refugee camps of hastily erected tents at several sites, including one near Habbaniyyah, or are staying with relatives in other cities, including Baghdad.

I could care less about hoary comparisons of the United States to Rome. At the same time one shouldn't overlook obvious parallels. The Roman military would often flatten cities as a warning to surrounding cities. Be good, or we'll flay your children and salt the ground. That kind of thing.

It is an assertion of manifest reality. If I have an apple, I can eat it. If I have a tank, I can blow you up.

If it can happen to an Iraqi, it can happen to any of us.

Friday, March 25, 2005

sloppy nuclear industry kisses

On nuclear power, ASPO gave us some suggestive numbers, indicating nuclear is a poor post peak energy source, excepting current infrastructure. I haven't verified this to my satisfaction yet. Nuclear energy is a black hole when it comes to research. There is conflicting information out there.

Even so, lending strong support to the notion that nuclear sucks are the massive subsidies proposed by BushCo. Suggesting that, as usual, petrol is the stick holding up the box, and depletion is the string.

Bush plan for new nuclear reactors maps out monstrous subsidies
According to the program’s blueprint documents, Nuclear Power 2010 aims to advance and expand the nuclear industry’s Vision 2020 policy, which has as its goal the addition of 50,000 megawatts of atomic power generation (i.e. 50 new reactors) by the year 2020. The DOE’s web site describes the program as, “a joint government / industry cost-shared effort to identify sites for new nuclear power plants, develop advanced nuclear plant technologies, and demonstrate new regulatory processes leading to a private sector decision by 2005 to order new nuclear power plants for deployment in the United States in the 2010 timeframe.”

This sets a high bar, even if the US economy were not a pile of imaginary money, and even if oil were not depleting. It takes real energy to build a nuclear plant. Materials must be shipped in from around the globe using liquid fuels.

It determined that total capital costs for a new nuclear reactor could be in excess of $1.6 billion and assessed strategies the federal government might use to promote the construction of new nuclear plants by mitigating key market risks that make nuclear power noncompetitive.

Ok. In a previous post I guessed 10 billion for a new plant based on real world costs for the most recent nuclear plants. So let's put the range between $4 and $10 billion, to be friendly, since saying "in excess of $1.6" indicates there are weasels afoot. So 250 billion dollars to maybe 500 billion to build these plants before they start producing "noncompetitive" energy.

Federal power purchase agreements at above-market rates. To further mitigate nuclear power’s high capital costs, the report brazenly recommends that the federal government commit up-front to 10-year power purchase agreements with nuclear companies. Under this scheme, the government would purchase a specified volume of power from participating operators at guaranteed prices, as much as 50% above market rates.

That's fine for the government. They can just print more money. They can't print oil.

Fiscally, environmentally and in terms of public health and safety, these taxpayer handouts to the mature nuclear industry cannot be justified. (...) The Business Case report is unambiguous about the lack of investor interest in the Bush administration’s nuclear revival scheme: “Lenders are not yet ready to accept exposure to risks that have a nuclear element as their central focus.”

Given the array of problems facing us, nuclear energy is a poor choice for new infrastructure. If we spent 500 billion on cleanup and safety systems for our present systems, as well as massively funding proven solar energy techniques (read local, organic farming) we could save lives for thousands of years.

More likely is that great concrete edifices will be half built, and never started.

Monumental folly.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

oh. crud.

Via Richard Daughty, Panacea.
I know we're closer to the end of the game than we are to the beginning due to the size and frequency of the lies being generated by the Bush regime. This last week, the markets rallied when it was announced that foreign governments had once again returned to the bond pits and were buying US debt at close to a record pace. Bonds, the dollar, and the stock market all rallied on the great news. A closer look at the numbers reveals a different reality. It seems that something called "Caribbean Money Centers" accounted for more than $23 billion worth of these purchases. Having lived most of my life in Latin America, and being quite familiar with the Caribbean, I'm here to tell you that you should not use the phrase "money center" in the same sentence with the word "Caribbean." To put this in its proper perspective, Enron was a product of Caribbean money center manipulation and we all know how that turned out. The U.S. economy is just a larger Enron.

Uh oh. Repeat 3 times. That would be ponzi overdrive.

the contra option

James Petras on CounterPunch.Org weighs in on the US versus Venezuela.

Cuba and Venezuela Face US and Colombia
The US is relying on a "triangular strategy" to overthrow the Chavez regime: A military invasion from Colombia, US intervention (air and sea attacks plus special forces to assassinate key officials) and an internal uprising by infiltrated terrorists and military traitors, supported by key media, financial and petrol elites. The strategy involves seizing state power, expelling the Cuban aid missions and breaking all agreements with Cuba.
The US "external" strategy toward Venezuela and its "two step" approach toward Cuba face powerful limitations (...) US economy and multi-nationals stand to lose a reliable supply of petroleum in a tight market and billions of dollars in investments ­ weakening the US position in the global energy market.

Petras left leaning analysis is reasonable but gives minimal weight to oil matters, spending more time on observed preparations and anticipated moves. I lay odds against an overt attack directed at Venezuela in the short run. The US has no alternate supply replace Venezuelan oil. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Well, it could run for a day or so on Wolfowitz's comb.

And note "internal uprising" highlighted above. That would be something like the Contras.


Contras can work their evil magic in a toy country like the Honduras whose major export is coffee and bananas. Oil wasn't involved. I know because the CIA World Fact Book tells me so!

Chavez has already put the US on notice; he will stop the flow of oil if they screw around with him. Sure, Chavez could be wrong, and dead. Or, he could be right. Seems like a gamble to me.

Iran now. They pump alotta oil, but not to the US direct. HMMMMMMM.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

free as a pterosaur

Peak Oil Optimist linked a GM story. It made me laugh:
Bob Lutz has more power over product than anyone has had at GM in decades, possibly ever. (...) SUVs and trucks are not the future. Three dollar per gallon gas is the future. SUV sales are plummeting for GM not because they are at the end of their product cycle but because people can't afford to fill them up with gas! It is utter insanity that the heads of the largest car company in the world are unaware that the earth is almost out of gasoline.

Dear Bob Lutz,

You're fired. Also, money is worthless now. We hold you partly responsible.

Smooth move, exlax.

-the board (2/2/2006)

in your backyard

Lately, the US economy is cause for tremedous concern and by implication the world economy. A meltdown is revving up. Not some little foo foo recession, but a full on spilled milk depression. This year. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in December, but the pressure is building.

Oil markets and the declining dollar are each applying nails to the coffin.

Here is what Mogumbo Sez this week (just a taste, actually) :
In fact, the wags at the site looked at the employment numbers and wrote "The fastest growing categories are administration, health care, construction, real estate, and restaurants. Many of the new jobs, in other words, involve building houses for people and serving them dinner. Nearly all of them are related to consumption... and practically none of them help ease America's trade deficit. Nor do they help Americans out of their holes of debt. Just the contrary - it is as if Americans had been put to work digging themselves deeper!" Hahahaha!
The Fed's Beige Book noted that inflation is still "well-behaved" and then, abruptly changing lanes without signaling, goes right on to say that manufacturers in a number of districts are "finding it increasingly easy to pass along price increases", including increasing costs of higher oil and other commodity prices. The Beige Book also noted that retailers say that while prices were "generally flat or up modestly", but that businesses are getting hit with "rising input costs", of which one is, of course, labor, and the report said that more and more businesses were, indeed, seeing "Sharp increases in benefit costs, particularly health insurance."

Mobjectivist is on point - I guess they got the memo (as if we peak oil types were as organized as Karl Rove and friends) :
From what I have read about corporate bureaucracies that start to head south, the first thing workers detect in their environment is a huge increase in paperwork. In essence, this meaningless paperwork amounts to shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic; ultimately telegraphing the action of suits in the head office as they get increasingly nervous over trying to justify their existence. I sometimes wonder if the same effect exists at the federal government level as we get deeper in the doo.

So, when the pig finally dies, where shall it be buried?

In your backyard.

Monday, March 21, 2005

fruit from pebbles

A cool little story from The Independant UK -

Rock dust grows extra-big vegetables (and might save us from global warming)
Using little more than rock dust mixed with compost, they have created rich, deep soils capable of producing cabbages the size of footballs, onions bigger than coconuts and gooseberries as big as plums. (...) "...we could cover the earth with rock dust and start to absorb carbon in a more natural fashion"

This squares with vulcanism in general creating more fertile soils. In Washington state, where volcanos cough up ash all the time and the glaciers chugged through, the soil was renowned for growing oversize strawberries and the like back in the 19th century.

The implication, heading into an era where we need to get control of the carbon cycle, is that bigger is better for plant life. More carbon can be stored, more oxygen produced. So bring on the rock dust.

Friday, March 18, 2005

worst case scenario

Whether or not it is true that Lab fireball 'may be black hole' am relieved to hear -

However, even if the ball of plasma is a black hole, it is not thought to pose a threat. At these energies and distances, gravity is not the dominant force in a black hole.

- otherwise I'd be worried about item 3 on The List.

free market globe

Thursday, March 17, 2005

we have no plan

Big Gav, commenting on my methane post said:
And finally, Monkeygrinder notes there is a lot of methane about, and that it doesn't smell all that good. Personally I'm a bit conflicted about this - both from an economic viewpoint (I like investing in natural gas producers, and they bring a lot of money into the country)

I've got nothing against methane, or even a hypothetical well built, safely constructed LNG terminal. I use natural gas. I'm writing this on a computer. We all deal with the contradictions of living in the world as it is, while pointing a way to what is next. At present, high energy technology is not sustainable. Peak energy folk live to point out anachronisms before they exist.

So I say, invest in methane, take care of your family, and yourself. These ports will likely be empty twenty years out. Provided they don't blow up. Then they will be empty sooner.

Building yet more infrastructure to maintain a way of life that is about to vanish doesn't address our true needs. We have more energy right now available to us than ever before; this may be the last year in which that can be said. Why not build something sustainable with it? People talk about "gateway" technology, the god in the gaps on our journey to green energy. In my opinion this is supporting the status quo. Somehow, we'll get to keep our cars. We'll turn coal and turkey guts into liquid fuel, and burn methane to generate hydrogen for our fuel cells. Solar and wind, repeat it like a mantra.

What a poor plan.

We humans have two material problems. One is climate change resulting in part from carbon inputs. The other problem is we are running out of the high energy fuel that caused the first problem. Neither of these is affect planet earth, just us and the squirrels. For now, I cautiously imagine that depletion of oil and natural gas and uranium is a good thing for humans. We can't totally destory our habitat.

That leaves us needing infrastructure to support our population during depletion. Our current living arrangement is reliant on liquid fuels. Industrial farming, suburbs, Wal-Mart - they've all got to go. If we wait to take action, people die. We need organic, LOCAL, food production, cities surrounded by farms and rivers, (Think Paris; Phoenix will be a disaster), and the good news is we can do this. Doubtless converting to an agrarian society will be unpopular in this bling addled age.

Yet, in the U.S. there are even congress critters debating alternative energy, all of a sudden, in addition to more typical crybabies like Senator Ron Wyden.

Do we have the will to give up our cheesy poofs now, or shall nature take her course?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

again with the trees

The rascally Bush Administration has seemingly reclassified rainforest trees as a particularly large species of grass.

"We've got to mow the rainforest down," Scott McClellan didn't note in a recent White House press conference, "because if don't, China will."

When pressed about whether scientists were in agreement with the administration, McClellan didn't say that "The scientific community is badly divided on this grass question. Until this issue is resolved, we side with free markets."

It all seems plausible to me.

China versus Taiwan

Chalmers Johnson, noting that I had gone into crazy uncle mode, has delivered his retort. (Ok so he is not actually responding to me personally...)

Actually, we’re pretty much in agreement, probably because I’ve read a few of his superb books – Blowback and The Sorrows of Empire. If you’re interested in international affairs, his writings are enlightening.

The United States is doing more to inflame tensions between China and Taiwan than I had realized. When it comes to the nuance, I must put my crayons away and let this estimable Asian scholar fill in the details.

The Middle East thus trumped the neocons' Asia policy. While the Americans were distracted, China went about its economic business for almost four years, emerging as a powerhouse of Asia and a potential organizing node for Asian economies. Rapidly industrializing China also developed a voracious appetite for petroleum and other raw materials, which brought it into direct competition with the world's largest importers, the U.S. and Japan.

By the summer of 2004, Bush strategists, distracted as they were by Iraq, again became alarmed over China's growing power and its potential to challenge American hegemony in East Asia. The Republican Party platform unveiled at its convention in New York in August proclaimed that "America will help Taiwan defend itself." During that summer, the Navy also carried out exercises it dubbed "Operation Summer Pulse '04," which involved the simultaneous deployment at sea of seven of our twelve carrier strike groups. An American carrier strike group includes an aircraft carrier (usually with 9 or 10 squadrons of planes, a total of about 85 aircraft in all), a guided missile cruiser, two guided missile destroyers, an attack submarine, and a combination ammunition-oiler-supply ship. Deploying seven such armadas at the same time was unprecedented – and very expensive.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

methane everywhere

Lately, all the trendy nations want to build more LNG terminals.

Where? Everywhere -
in Singapore ,
in Louisiana,
in Oregon,
in Mexico,
etcetera. Google has an index.

Japan has lots of terminals, and they want more. Flacks for the energy industry are trying to pimp your fix. Natural is gas is clean, clean as a cows ass.

Obviously an attempt will be made to keep the energy infrastructure stitched together. Methane is the new oil. It must be exciting to be the neighborhood methane man these days. Ring the little bell and all the captains of industry come running, dribbles of drool on their happy faces.

Bouphonia asks us, what could go wrong? Sad that no one cares about fish in these troubled times. Those furry fuckers are poisonous anyways.

And then there are the irritating attempts to suppress information on future sites in the United States. Documents are to be encoded in half word, half blotch cipher so the lizard men from Titan won't realize we are planning an immolation derby.

Fight for open government extends to ‘regular guys’
Then an energy company announced plans to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in this small community on the Taunton River. The men – the mayor a city planner and an engineer – had nightmare visions of gas igniting into a huge fireball on the river and asked for government-held reports that studied the threat to the town if the plant or a tanker were attacked.

But like many people who ask for government records these days they didnt get what they were looking for.

"Its a farce Miozza says.


The terminal if approved would hold 58 million gallons of gas with aircraft carrier-sized tankers coming up the narrow river roughly once a week. Residents say its an unacceptable risk with homes and schools all within a mile – the range for second-degree burns if the fuel ignited according to government studies.

What possible reason could the government have to suppress information like this from its own citizenry? To make sure these terminals get built. To make sure the contracts are consumated.

It is not like the terrorists are going to miss the boat (see below) as it floats the fuck by. You could jam the shoebomber in a medieval cannon and still have reasonable chance at hitting one of those barns. Building a LNG terminal has nothing to do with Homeland Security. Follow the money, until sometime in 2030 it runs out and we are left with,

what, exactly?

Monday, March 14, 2005

the oil endgame

Michael Ruppert has recently framed world events as an oil endgame. Valuable reading, regardless of what one thinks of his assertions related to 9-11 and the like. He likes facts, he likes the real story, and while I do not share all of his conclusions, I don’t have any problem with the ingredients.

The real story is what drives me. If you want to understand this blog, know that I want to understand how things work. When wrong, once I get past the ego thumping embarrassment, I update my internal model of the universe. Skeptical contrarians are appreciated.

In the context of the oil endgame, I analyze wars and rumors of wars, no pulled punches. This is opinion, based on what I know.

United States Versus Iraq - In progress.

United States and Israel. The U.S. has a strong strategic interest in the region. Iraq represented a feckless opponent in conventional military terms. .

The U.S. neo conservatives have achieved strategic goals. The occupation is permanent, bloody and expensive, as expected. The oil is ours, denominated in dollars, and the Middle East is physically divided. Permanent military bases are being built. If civil war erupts, the U.S. has unincorporated Kurdistan, Kurdish oil fields, and the Gulf Port, Baghdad be damned. This may be a long term contingency of the U.S., with the Turkish relationship gone sour along democratic lines.

Guerrillas have shown the world that oil infrastructure is indefensible. The insurgency has emboldened Arab progressive and reactionaries alike. Middle East politics have been polarized. The US has shown that it will stay the course – and that it can be bloodied. Iraq is now a breeding ground for terrorists.

United States \ Israel Versus Syria – Probability Moderate to Low.

Israel. The United States has limited strategic interest here. I expect the U.S. to threaten like crazy and do nothing.

Militarily the U.S. can thump Syria. There would be no U.S. occupation of cities. Israel might be an occupier here, perhaps after the U.S. softened them up.

Attacking Syria would enrage the Middle East. Bashar Assad is viewed as a rational actor. In contrast, though the Iraq occupation is humiliating to Arabs, Saddam Hussein was little loved, viewed as narcissistic, secular, and ultimately blasphemous to Islam. Syria also has key pipelines running through its territory.

United States \ Israel versus Iran - Probability High

United States and Israel plan to bomb and destroy the nuclear reactors and any other targets that are related. Further, control of the oil is sought, but I doubt an occupation is planned at present. U.S. will stick its toe in the water first.

Russia, currently supplying Iran with nuclear expertise, has positioned some aircraft in the area. The Israelis, likely to be the initial attackers, might find themselves engaging advanced MIGs during their attack run. The known nuclear facilities would be successfully destroyed. Some intelligence sources have suggested that Iran has decentralized their uranium purification due to the historical example of Israel bombing the Iraq reactor. This is an unknown.

Possibility for a wider war. Some have suggested this is a contingency, allowing the neo conservatives to consolidate permanent political power inside the United States. Oil would stop flowing from Iran and possibly Venezuela, resulting in a global oil shock. If the U.S. is part of the attack, or even if they aren’t, Iran may decide to test out Russian made sunburn cruise missiles on the U.S. carriers groups. Iran can also blockade oil traffic through the threat of missile attack.

United States versus Venezuela – Probability Low

United States needs Venezuelan oil, period. This drove the coup, this is driving the proxy war via Columbia, and ultimately may drive an actual attack. China has been sniffing around the oil patch with U.S. dollars, as has India, a strategic nuclear partner of China. I suspect that China doesn’t care as much about Venezuelan oil as they do about waving their contracts in the face of the U.S., like a bullfighter waving a red cape in front of an enraged bull.

Strategic failure. The U.S. cannot kick out another leg in global oil production. Hugo Chavez, despise or admire him, understands that the threat of destroying oil production for a few years is likely to stop the U.S. from attacking. Imagine Uncle Sam deciding to kick himself in the nuts, repeatedly. The American economy needs that energy.

Pointless to speculate.

China versus Taiwan – Probability High

China wants Taiwan bad. In terms of peak oil, re-integrating Taiwan would extend out Chinese territorial waters and strengthen Chinese claim to the East China Sea oil regions, such as the Diaoyu or Senkaku islands.

Timed correctly, this is a likely strategic success for China. If an Iran war erupts in the Middle East, China will take her prize, daring the U.S. and Japan to intervene.

China will face the prospect of a rapidly militarized Japan. U.S. will grin and bear it.

China versus United States – In progress

China. China doesn’t care about the U.S. export markets in the long run. They are primed to destroy us financially, in the manner of their choosing. They are presently using our dollars to buy western commodities.

China is attacking the U.S. using the global economy and preying our consumerism. This strategy is succeeding. However, if the military gets involved, the globe faces a World War scenario where everyone loses. I doubt that is China’s goal. On the other hand, I never underestimate human stupidity.

Pointless to speculate. Watch Taiwan first.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

light sweet crude appreciation day

I try not to post extended excerpts from news sources.
On the other barrel, self imposed rules are made to be broken.

OPEC at output limit, official asserts


ALGIERS, Algeria -- OPEC has reached its production limit, and trying to stretch output by one million barrels per day isn't likely to lower oil prices, Algeria's minister for energy and mines said.

Chakib Khalil said prices were high because of world economic growth - particularly in the United States and China. Algeria is one of the 11 members of the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"OPEC has reached its production limits. It doesn't have much production capacity," he said at the opening of an industrial plant in the western town of Arzew, according to newspaper reports on Saturday.

"If it came to a crunch, it has capacity for one million barrels (more per day), and I don't think a production increase would influence the barrel price," he told reporters on the sidelines of the ceremony.

Crude oil futures prices climbed above $54 a barrel Friday after the International Energy Agency estimated global petroleum demand would grow faster than previously expected in 2005...

peak demand

Demand for oil has surpassed supply, with OPEC pointing out that they have no swing production. So we enter a new chaotic phase for markets and everything dependent on markets. It is likely permanent, and effects on the world economy are the same as the actual production peak.

via FTD, How To Save The World rolls up this moment. Check it out.

Friday, March 11, 2005


Thursday, March 10, 2005

vast fields of desert gold poppy

Rare rains bring Death Valley to life
THE parched desert of Death Valley, California, normally the hottest and driest place in North America, has been painted with colour by wild flowers brought into bloom by the wettest year in a century.

Aha! So that is where the Washington State snowpack has fled to! Death Valley! Someone tell the farmers to move their orchards south - the climate just changed.

peak oil scorned

Saw this link on Flying Talking Donkey, "Can we stop talking about peak oil now?". It amounts to a redacted retelling of a study, or, a little axe grinding at Michael Ruppert's expense.


The existence of additional huge oilfields on our planet wouldn't break any laws, be they offshore, or perhaps beneath some newly exposed arctic beachfront. It is unlikely based on the discovery trends. However, if a discovery were made, it wouldn't affect the peak oil mathematical model one iota. It might hump up the curve, push out the date. Sometimes life isn't pretty.

Burning that hypothetical oil would be a mistake. I've previously posted that if the world warms up 12 degrees Fahrenheit, we would end up with runaway global warming. Reading Real Climate over the last few months has caused me to back off that assertion. I'm not a seer. It is unknown what the tipping point is for runaway global warming, although it is known to have happened before. Causality could well include factors in addition to global warming.

As we know the possibility for runaway warming exists, but don't understand exactly why or how, it is possible the process is underway now. Observing the precursors in our climate and ecosystem, it would be wise to back off on use carbon for energy, pronto, rather than salivating over the opportunity to double our pleasure.

All caveats aside, Smiley on the Peak Oil Boards responds to the this article (encompassing the Rense original) referenced by the catalytic converter blog (top) thusly:

Reading is difficult. Apparently too difficult for the people at Rense.

original article

This is the original article from Cathles.

What he has been studying is a process called gas washing. His major contribution is that he found out that oil is more mobile than previously thought. It can migrate between different reservoirs, or it can be vented through the sea floor.

Apparently this process is so effective 90% of the hydrocarbons has been vented even before humans have laid their hands on it. When he is speaking about those vast quantities of oil he is not talking about oil that is there (like Rense misunderstood) but about hydrocarbons that were there 10 billion years ago.

Oil chemistry requires the petroleum system in the northern Gulf of Mexico basin to be a flow-through system in which very little hydrocarbon is retained between the source and the surface, and almost all (>90%) the petroleum that escapes its source vents into the ocean. About 30% more hydrocarbons than have been produced and consumed by humans throughout the entire petroleum era have vented into the ocean from the small Corridor. Admittedly, this occurred during a fairly long period of time (about 10 million years), but clearly humans and nature are promoting the same basic process (the venting of hydrocarbons).

The significance of his work is that by understanding migration it becomes easier to identify deeper oil reservoirs.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

depopulating the freeways

Would You Pay 4.76 Per Gallon for Gas?
Then you have folks like me who arrive extra early just to get a parking space. I arrive alone, just me, my car, my messenger bag and my iced soy mocha. The point of this boring story is a parking shortage turns to car pooling. So why aren't people just as concerned about car pooling with gas prices skyrocketing. Gas is currently at $1.98 a gallon in my city and I find myself only putting half a tanks worth in my 4-cylinder VW Golf because there isn't enough money to fill the tank, buy my groceries and pay my bills.

Some thoughts on the implications of higher gas prices over at The Correction. I know where I work some people are feeling pinched driving, and have budgets stretched tight already. Whatever mealy mouthed lies Alan Greenspan is mouthing about inflation, American buying power has been severely curtailed since the nineties. Medical costs, gasoline, stagnant wages, falling dollar. The frog feels fine.

Obviously, people are going to start finding alernative ways to get to work, even if it is ride sharing - something that previously may have seemed to take too much personal energy to bother with will suddenly become necessity. I think the price estimate of $4.76 for gasoline is low if we hit $200 a barrel. It is not a straight multiplier. Refinery costs, fear, and distribution issues will push it up.

Look for a noticable change this year. Someone sent an email at work today, trying to dump their SUV. "Drives great! Low Mileage!"

I'll bet.

rally which troops

My blog can't fillibuster either. I wonder what is next. At least my senators aren't on the list.

Just wait, I'll start blogging with a che guevara t-shirt soon.

high tide for oil

The human species will be well served by the end of the oil age. Destruction of our habitat, seemingly left in our wake, is steadily catching up with us. Our industrial obsessions are slathering the earth with persistant filth.

I Am Polluted
In one, researchers found at an average of 91 "industrial compounds, pollutants and chemicals" in the blood and urine of nine volunteers and a total of 167 chemicals in the group. According to the research, conducted by Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York with the Environmental Working Group, "76 cause cancer in humans or animals, 94 are toxic to the brain or nervous system, and 79 cause birth defects or abnormal development." None of the people tested worked with chemicals or lived near an industrial facility.
In total, the scientists found 76 chemicals in my body, including PCBs, pesticides, solvents and metals. (...) There has been little scientific inquiry into the net effect of being exposed to many chemicals at the same time, the so-called "toxic soup effect."

I believe my generation and the next two or three after that will be hardest hit by the plague of illness, toxicity and cancer as a result of our hollow lifestyle. I had two sets of grandparents live into their eighties. They reached adulthood in a paradise of horse manure and flies, with only a few coal snorting trains and goofy jalopies around for comic relief. They got the best of both worlds, we'll get the flip side of that coin.

I have answers for a lot of things, but the "endowment" of persistant pollution we have loaded up the world with is a tough one.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Natural Gas depletion? That's crazy talk!

something to hide?
When I did get through and started asking tougher questions—such as natural gas depletion, the representative, system engineer or planner would get confused, apprehensive or defensive. One, for the gas company stated matter-of-factly that “we are not running out of gas!” When challenged, he did admit to the depleting North American supplies. He then asked me again where I was calling from, whom I represented and what use I would have for the information. Apparently, he was not expecting tough questions. No one really was.

The UNplanning Journal has excellent information on un\planning for the future, as well as dispatches from the trenches in county government, on a biweekly basis.

a sustainable ethic

What is perhaps most remarkable about Dr. Bethe is how his long life embodied a deep faith not in the ultimate authority of science but of people and the human spirit - a surprising stance for a man often viewed as one of the field's high priests. He understood its limits. His personal philosophy seemed deceptively simple: science and technology, while good friends of great importance, cannot save humanity. Instead, he taught that only humane reasoning and the struggle to foster just human relationships would keep civilization from using the accomplishments of science to destroy itself.

suitably bankrupt

With the peak oil pot bubbling, it is time for another reminder that there is no time like the present to get ones financial house in order. Invest in commodities and buy real things, like bicycles, personal microhydropower, seeds, whatever you think might help.

Oh, and if you are in a position where you might need to declare bankruptcy, now would be a good time, as of right now.

Unless you happen to be a millionaire. Then you can safely wait.

The Rude Pundit has the details, unvarnished as always.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

mythology of our age

John Michael Greer posted a thoughtful essay on oilcrisis a few months back, which I just saw today on Energy Bulletin.

It discusses the patterns that people use when describing the future, in other words, our myths.

The first is called the progressivist myth. According to this story, all of human history is a drama of progress. From primitive ignorance and savagery, according to the progressivist myth, people climbed step by step up the ladder of civilization...

The second is called the separativist myth. According to this story, all of human history is a tragic blind alley. Once people lived in harmony with their world, each other, and themselves, but that time ended and things have gone downhill ever since. (...) Sometime soon the whole rickety structure will come crashing down, overwhelmed by sudden crisis, and countless people will die...

This is a valuable way of approaching our current era. It helps explain The Good News Industry, a rogues gallery of optimists who have never lived a day without seeing something branded as new and improved. It is only natural that we would construct a mythology to reinforce our observations, and then live as if our myths were true.

fleas on the hippo

We love metaphors here at Peak Energy blog. Depletion is a tricky subject, sometimes a good mental picture is worth a lot of verbiage.

Imagine you were a flea on a hippo, and your civilization had subsisted for years on energy deposits nestled in the fleshy folds of the truculent beast.

One day, a group of big brained fleas tells you, "Hey! We think we know where to find infinite energy to fuel our civilization, if only we can extract it."

"What's the catch?" you might ask.

"Well, if we dislodge too much energy at once from the nether regions of the Hippo, there may be a tremendous explosion, surrounding the beast in a miasma of methane gas, killing us all. But don't worry about that - it isn't at all likely. In fact, we only brought it up so we could enjoy a good laugh at how unlikely it is."

So much for Hippos.

US DOE Commissions Voyage of Discovery for Vast New Resource
a 35-day voyage of discovery that is part of an effort to map a virtually inexhaustible supply of energy - the methane hydrate that may represent up to 200,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. (...) Today's recoverable non-hydrate methane resource pales in comparison at an estimated 1,400 Tcf.

Voyage of discovery? Get lost, chimps. There is an expiration date attached to burning "endless" carbon.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

set phasers to inflict pain

Pulsed Energy Projectile (PEP)
It vaporises the first thing it hits. This creates a plasma that heats the surrounding air so fast that, basically, the air explodes. The resulting shock wave will knock you to the floor.

Pentagon gun will inflict pain from mile away
documents uncovered by the Sunshine Project, a biotechnology watchdog, also reveal that the same technology could be used to kill a person.

The Pentagon seeking new ways to kill is not in any way shocking. I'm worried more about the use of this indiscriminately for crowd control. Almost all so-called nonlethal devices are killers. Anyways, off topic. This isn't being picked up in the US media, which describes most stories of importance these days.

what waste may come

Waves 'brought waste to Somalia' companies have been taken advantage of the fact that Somalia had no functioning government from the early 1990s until recently. (Dumping industrial waste, basically for free - mg.)

"It appears that the tsunami broke open the containers and scattered a lot of these toxic substances around," Mr Nuttall told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"We are talking about radioactive chemicals, heavy metals, medical waste.. you name it," he said.

I predict this kind of practice will spike around the globe in a post peak world. There won't be energy available to do industrial cleanup any more. And money has nothing to do with it; there will not be enough energy. This is really why I am so concerned about nuclear waste in America. Wherever it goes, there it is, but it needs to be reasonably interred. Right now, there are many so-called "temporary" solutions, but not enough resources are being applied to solve the problem. We know how it works; making this kind of thing someone elses problem is how you get ahead in America.

The temporary solutions are at risk to become the permanent ones.

If you think that is a-ok, I've got some beachfront property in Africa I'd like to sell you.

Britain just can't wait for the post peak years.

Friday, March 04, 2005

cry me a river

Lawmaker Asks Bush to Seek OPEC Oil Price Cut
When Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon asked Bodman why he had not telephoned OPEC ministers to lobby them to lower energy prices, the secretary responded: "I have a lot on my plate."
Wyden did not like that answer and took his dissatisfaction with Bodman's job performance in dealing with OPEC to the secretary's boss -- President Bush.
In a letter sent Friday to the president, Wyden said high oil prices should be a concern for the administration and he asked Bush to "personally use your capital" to convince OPEC to lower crude prices.

I don't think George Bush's political capital will make it possible to turn tar into light sweet crude. He has a better chance of turning water into wine.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

beware the ides of march

I have no idea who tips off Flying Talking Donkey or LATOC to the latest ASPO newsletter before they get posted on ASPO itself - however it may happen I sure do appreciate the (pdf) link!

And the March 2005 edition is an absolute must read, for the discussion on nuclear energy, (more on that shortly) but also the DOE sent in a study they did on how mitigation strategies would affect liquid fuel shortages in a peak oil scenario. I found their results sobering in light of the fact that some experts think we will peak this year. They put in the twenty year to peak scenario to keep the pointy haired ones happy, methinks.

Indeed, general peak oil news is cresting so fast lately, I may be forced to come up with a new name for this blog, like, "Oh Crap!" or "Tips for hoarding beans in declining oil world".

There is great ASPO essay on nuclear energy, also online:
"The lower the ore grade, the more energy is consumed in the fuel processing, so that the amount of the carbon dioxide released in the fuel cycle depends on the ore grade. Only Canada and Australia have ores of a sufficiently high grade to avoid excessive carbon releases and to provide an adequate energy gain. At ore grades below 0.01 per cent for “soft” ores and 0.02 per cent for “hard” ores more CO2 than an equivalent gas-fired station is released and more energy is absorbed in the cycle than is gained in it. Ores of a grade approaching the “crossover” point such as those in India of 0.03 per cent, if used, risk going into negative energy gain if there are a few “hiccups” in the cycle."

A few weeks ago I posted on the viability of nuclear power here and here. I felt I needed more and better information. Searching the Internet for valid data left me incredibly frustrated, due to the polarizing nature of the issue and the contradictory information. I still want to corral a real expert, and we don't run nukes for energy in Washington State. I think Busby's article goes a long way towards focusing my research.

The essence of his arguments confirms some suspicions of mine. Namely, that energy returned over the life of a reactor is much lower than advertised, often negative, except maybe in the case where you don't clean up after yourself. He also points out that we are running up against a uranium peak.

Is it a coincidence that I turn thirty and everything starts peaking? I think not.

washington snowpack, california energy

A few weeks ago I tossed out that snowpacks are running low this year for the Pacific Northwest. Since then, we've had but a drizzle of rain, and we are heading into another patch of sunshine. Low snowpack means the regional dams produce less electricity than normal, meaning there is little excess power to sell on the open market after Washington State is serviced.

Cascadia Scorecard just brought me up to date.

The previous low on the graph is the year of the infamous "rolling blackouts" in California, as well as the Enron debacle. Now, there is no doubt that a significant portion of California's woes that year were due to market manipulation. But, consider that reduced energy from the Northwest provided fertile grounds for this manipulation to take place. A natural gas shortage, or an oil shortage, on top low dam production would have the exact same effect or worse.

This is a local story for me, but based on the news about the weather this year, I expect others have similar tales to tell. Climate change is rocking our boat right as we are cresting the peak of the energy that caused it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

inventory to fuel SUVs doesn't matter

Growing U.S. Supplies No Brake for Rising Oil Price
The market, once dominated by supply fluctuations in the world's largest energy consumer, has shifted its attention to a more subtle, yet haunting theme -- growing global oil demand that is threatening to outpace supply -- analysts said.

Haunting, sure but there is nothing subtle about it.

black gold

I'd meant to talk more about money and economic matters in this blog, but in general I have shied away. I am not much of an expert on economics, so my insights wouldn't have much depth. I do think it is important to take advantage of the system to take care of ones self and family before the lean years come.

So I am pretty pleased to see that the Land of Black Gold is blogging from the Hubberts Peak economic perspective - and as a special bonus, is interesting.

Today a bit of analysis on heating oil and venezuala.

Good stuff.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

mammon - a rant in two parts

Past Peak notes the following horrible tragedy, via San Francisco Bay View newspaper:

Mushrooming depleted uranium (DU) scandal blamed
“The long-term effects have revealed that DU (uranium oxide) is a virtual death sentence,” stated Berklau. “Marion Fulk, a nuclear physical chemist, who retired from the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab, and was also involved with the Manhattan Project, interprets the new and rapid malignancies in the soldiers (from the 2003 Iraq War) as ‘spectacular … and a matter of concern!’”

I try to be a fun loving pessimist, but this fresh hell will be blowing around the world and affecting humanity for thousands of years. Depleted uranium dust, when ingested, causes cancer. If you don’t believe me, try a nip.

If you think this is overstated then please get out of your goddamn bubble and educate yourself. The pattern of industrial nations, when trying to convince us that toxic sludge is good for us, is to lie, slander and cover up - in no particular order.

Eventually when the corpses pile up to a certain level, an epiphany happens – “Hey lead is actually bad for us!” and the corporations and their enablers in government move onto the next big thing. Or they fix the problem by phasing in “tough” new requirements over a period greater than ten years. Yeah, sure we’ll cut back on mercury – how about in 2018? Making laws is hungry work, let’s go get some sushi.

How exactly can our government and media be oblivious to the human costs of such activities? Is Michael Jackson still the King of Pop?

I think we got a clue recently, if only indirectly. George Bush just went to Europe, where he fantastically blurted:

"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said that, all options are on the table," Bush said.

In Europe, they aren’t having any of it.

Why Europe Ignores Bush
Machiavelli's advice to political leaders was that it's more important to be feared than to be loved. That's no help for President Bush on his European tour; in spite of the warm words he's exchanging with European leaders, the reality is that the Bush administration is neither loved nor feared in growing sectors of the international community — increasingly, it is simply being ignored.

Potemkin World… or the President in the Zone
So yes, last week European leaders stepped inside the presidential bubble, smiled, supped, shook hands, and said the right things to signal amity-restored; but they also understood that the very presence of the President in Europe and his visible unpopularity outside that bubble were indications of just how humbled the American "hyperpower" had been. And then they went their own ways.

The United States is being treated like a damaged node in the global network, and other nations are routing cash and international law around us.

Are they not afraid of our fearsome military, so awe inspiring that we are willing to sacrifice the long term health of all our troops as we sit astride the Earth, colossus?

No, the jig is up. Because our fucking military is useless. We can’t attack anyone who is part of the global economy without shooting ourselves in the foot. (Not that foot we already shot, the other one.) France, Venezuela, China, or North Korea – all safe. Maybe if I were Syria I would be real worried, and I doubt Iran’s nuclear reactor containment facilities are long for this earth. It comes down to money.

Everyone in the world knows how precarious the United States economic footing is. China, with typical acumen, is presently using our dollars to buy up global commodities. King Faisal’s lesson has been absorbed by guerrillas and prime ministers the world over. Hey tanky tank – got oil?

Poison Americans with mercury, fluoride, lead, dioxins, or poison Iraqis and troops with depleted uranium? That’s fine, it doesn’t mess up the status quo, it in fact perpetuates the status quo. If we start to run low on consumers, we can open that Mexican tap. The money flows.

Declare war on China? Turns out to be a no go. Tough luck Wolfowitz. The money stops.

That leaves one little problem. Our fearless leader may not be aware of the limits on his power. And he worships a right handed god. Bush, neo-yahwehist.

Enter the wiki

Post Carbon Institute has put up a wiki on Peak Oil and related issues.

It looks like they could use a few gardeners. I'll chip in as time allows and I hope others will do the same.

Wiki's are fab, and over time if attention is paid to this one it will serve as a very useful meta-index of all things peak related.