Monday, November 28, 2005

citgo gasoline

Chavez's cheap oil for US poor angers Washington (tip - Eric Rachner)
To the anger of many in Washington, Citgo Petroleum Corporation, a company controlled by the Venezuelan Government, will supply more than 45 million litres of oil at 40 per cent below market prices.
The deal is one of the most spectacular moves yet in Mr Chavez's attempt to market his "21st-century socialism" using his country's oil wealth.
Joe Kennedy, the chairman of Citizens Energy, one of the organisations that will distribute the oil, said the deal highlighted the failure of oil companies in the US and the Government to step in to help.
"Our government has made billions of dollars just this year on the royalty payments the oil companies pay to the Government," he said. But when it is a question of poor Americans, "what do we hear from Washington? Sorry boys. There's no money in the till."

I've been convinced by Matt Simmons arguments that the price of oil needs to remain high -- higher in fact than it is now -- to spur real, positive change for conservation and alternatives.

This approach (intended or not) has the drawback of laying a boot on the neck of the poor.

It is kind of sad that the poor in North America can't expect any help from Washington -- here, watch, as Repuglicans trim the "fat" out of the budget by cutting food stamps and benefits which would have helped poor people all year --

-- or run the war in Iraq for a few days.

Chavez's insult is perfectly tuned to tweaking the present policies of the United States.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

turkey day

Turkey day - it is an American holiday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

nom de guerre: "congressman"

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

pie is in the sky

Why $5 Gas Is Good for America
(Matt) Simmons' techno-cluelessness would be funny - calling Jed Clampett with his 12-gauge! - if he weren't the spearhead of a whole hand-wringing school of petro-pessimism. The oil fields are running dry, the gas gauge is on empty, the American way of life is doomed - these ideas bob like plastic shark fins on the storm surge of current oil prices. But the history of energy innovation suggests something very different - and a lot less dire.
All of which would be seriously alarming but for one happy fact: We've never had more options for keeping those wheels turning. Aramco's fuzzy logic is just one of a multitude of new tools and fuels - some proven, some in the works, and some wildly speculative. The main thing standing between those possibilities and your gas tank is cheap crude oil that costs Aramco barely $3 a barrel to bring to the surface.

After a few missteps lately, I'd made a promise to myself not to rely on the cheap trick of ranting in the direction of morons, but this article from Wired News takes the cake, and wins a prize for the amount of empty rhetoric employed in lieu of verifiable facts.

And the ad-hominum attacks against Simmons remove any doubt. I am sharpening my scalpel. Surgery to follow.

More to come.

In the meantime, enjoy this collection of Energy Foolishness, including more from the author of the above Wired article, Spencer Reiss.

Monday, November 21, 2005


GM slashes production and jobs
DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp. said on Monday it would cut 30,000 North American manufacturing jobs and close a dozen plants as it struggles to compete with fast-growing rivals led by Toyota Motor Corp.
The cuts affect about a quarter of the North American factory work force at GM and are the deepest since it eliminated 21 plants and 74,000 jobs over four years beginning in December 1991.
GM and its crosstown rival Ford Motor Co. have both been grappling with high health-care and materials costs, loss of U.S. market share to foreign rivals, and slumping sales of large SUVs that used to be their profit centers but have lost popularity as gasoline prices rose.
Ford, which saw its debt ratings cut to "junk" status earlier this year along with those of GM, is expected to announce its own cuts in North American manufacturing jobs and a series of plant closings by no later than January.

A better world is here, but not for the American worker. More evidence that the non-negotiable way of life that Americans deign to enjoy should have been negotiated prior to disaster.

Friday, November 18, 2005

one for the Bolivians

doing it our way

Toiling in a Dickensian hell – the miners who fuel China
The scene is Dickensian. On the surface a miner heaves a truck off the pulley lift, pushes it by hand along the rails and empties its load down the side of a coal heap. A bulldozer and two men with shovels fill a lorry that will take the coal for processing. “It’s hard work,” another miner said, “but it’s better paid than tilling the land.” ...
The Government’s aim is to shut down operations with outdated equipment and to cut the number of small mines from 23,000 now to 10,000 by 2010. ... But in China coal is black gold, and many mines are reluctant to comply with new safety rules. In Henan some that have been closed but not yet sealed operate under cover of darkness, making the work all the more dangerous.

The funny thing about globalization is when it succeeds, it fails. These Chinese miners are suffering through their own industrial revolution, without having learned a thing from the prior ones. It doesn't just stop with arrogantly errant thinking, such as Alan Greenspan recently demonstrated, then causing the sensible and coolly observant Steven Lagavulin to flip his his lid:

WTF!?! Did you just blame us!?! How dare you , you (...) horse-turd!

So the policymakers hands are all tied, is that it? It's all just "natural evolution of market forces"? Because all those spoiled little American people just won't stop buying the foreign goods THAT THEIR CORPORATIONS NO LONGER ALLOW THEM TO MAKE FOR THEMSELVES BECAUSE THEY SHIPPED ALL THE JOBS OVERSEAS WHICH IS WHAT'S SENDING THE CURRENT ACCOUNT DEFICIT "SKYWARDS" IN THE FIRST PLACE!

So now this whole mess is all OUR fault, is it?

OK that's it, I wanna fight you.

Globalization just allows rich people to do stupid things faster. Coal is one of the stupidest things going. Oh yeah -- and humans need it, fer burnin, until humans stupidly run out of it, at which point the size of the mercury hangover will depend strictly on how much easily accessible coal nature randomly generated for the world.

It isn't sexy.

It moves mountains into valleys.

It pollutes.

It is dirty, and this cannot be hidden, only willfully ignored.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

the state of the American republic

GAO Report Finds Flaws in Electronic Voting - hat tip Ergosphere
The GAO report found flaws in security, access, and hardware controls, as well as weak security management practices by voting machine vendors. The report identified multiple examples of actual operational failures in real elections and found that while national initiatives to improve the security and reliability of electronic voting systems are underway, "it is unclear when these initiatives will be available to assist state and local election authorities."
Examples of problems reported by GAO include (1) computer systems that fail to encrypt data files containing cast votes, allowing them to be viewed or modified without detection by internal auditing systems; (2) systems that could allow individuals to alter ballot definition files so that votes cast for one candidate are counted for another; and (3) weak controls that allowed the alteration of memory cards used in optical scan machines, potentially impacting election results. GAO concluded that "these weaknesses could damage the integrity of ballots, votes, and voting system software by allowing unauthorized modifications (p. 25).

Voting, and writing to elected representatives, is the least one can do to participate in the American democracy.

A vote may be like a grain of sand. A tiny quantum of a nations mood. The expectation when voting is that this cast opinion will be a fair representation. Carefully recorded by patriots such that small mistakes cancel out, and the winner wins.

The recent GAO report was defined as "blistering" by one liberal commentator; sadly it is not.

Here is blistering:
...these weaknesses damaged the integrity of ballots and votes by allowing unauthorized modifications during the 2004 presidential election. The election results are invalid...

Presently, Americans live in a weird, shadow world: The winner won the exit polls in voting machine entrapped precincts, but for the first time in history lost out in the "official" tally in selfsame precincts. Overnight the national mood turned upside down, and moderates through progressives were cheated out of a sufferable president, as opposed to an insufferable one.

Howard Dean enacted a working scenario for how this can be achieved on national TV. The voting machines running today are a such joke that "hacking" them is not necessarily a matter of technical expertise, but rather a weakest link game wherein one individual might social engineer one password to magically subvert democracy and 100,000 votes, just like the good old days.

Software is a perilious excercise when engineers have the best of intentions. With intentional sloppiness and lopped corners, everyone in America became disenfranchised. Even if Bush versus Kerry, Bud versus Bud light, presented a puzzling choice.

This is relevant to Peak Energy.

Undoing the actions of hidden actors needs to be priority one. No useful political change can occur in the American democracy while such wholesale shenanigans are tolerated. It is too early to play outside the game; we need the system back to where it was in 1976, at a minimum. Our energy problems are immense, if we get the system back, a Jimmy Carter is probably too much to hope for.

Progress is the painful process of re-attaining what has been lost.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

as the leaves change color

There hasn't been as much posting here of late as I would like. I apologize for that; lots of interesting things going down, in particular inertia building for the reality based side of the peak oil crowd.

Lately, I've been walloped by work responsibilities. These should fade in December.

Meanwhile, a few echoes from the future glitter before our eyes. One realizes the times are a-changing when Wal-Mart tries out a new coat of greenwash paint, in lieu of the normal enforced ugliness of their business.

Hopes, concerns color Coast plan
A plan to build a Wal-Mart in Pass Christian that blended into the streetscape drew applause when it was presented Monday.

The majority of the designs take on a new urbanism approach. The concept of new urbanism combines residential, retail and office space in the same development.

Under such a plan, town centers would be created throughout the Coast. They would include a series of mixed-use buildings designed to set up walking communities.

There would be retail, office space, residential space and parks.

The town centers would connect with light rail or trolleys, making it easier for people to move from one area to another without depending on automobiles, Duany said.

A delightful new urbanist Wal-Mart, (new urbanism -- an idea so slow in gaining momentum that it is already itself retro-eighties), huzzah.

Follow this up with health insurance for all employees and a living wage, and they'd really have something.

With the sadness and loss of the disaster in the gulf, comes a possibility for change. Americans can build something silly, or they can build something for a future in which conservation will be the American Way.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

without comment

BYU professor thinks bombs (...) toppled WTC
"It is quite plausible that explosives were pre-planted in all three buildings and set off after the two plane crashes — which were actually a diversion tactic," he writes. "Muslims are (probably) not to blame for bringing down the WTC buildings after all," (Steven E.) Jones writes.

As for speculation about who might have planted the explosives, Jones said, "I don't usually go there. There's no point in doing that until we do the scientific investigation."
Previous investigations, including those of FEMA, the 9/11 Commission and NIST (the National Institutes of Standards and Technology), ignore the physics and chemistry of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, to the Twin Towers and the 47-story building known as WTC 7, he says. The official explanation — that fires caused structural damage that caused the buildings to collapse — can't be backed up by either testing or history, he says.

WTC 7, which was not hit by hijacked planes, collapsed in 6.6 seconds, just .6 of a second longer than it would take an object dropped from the roof to hit the ground. "Where is the delay that must be expected due to conservation of momentum, one of the foundational laws of physics?" he asks. "That is, as upper-falling floors strike lower floors — and intact steel support columns — the fall must be significantly impeded by the impacted mass. . . . How do the upper floors fall so quickly, then, and still conserve momentum in the collapsing buildings?" The paradox, he says, "is easily resolved by the explosive demolition hypothesis, whereby explosives quickly removed lower-floor material, including steel support columns, and allow near free-fall-speed collapses." These observations were not analyzed by FEMA, NIST nor the 9/11 Commission, he says.

Friday, November 11, 2005

as the world turns

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

boon or doggle

It's the beginning of the end for the monorail
The agency later came up with a plan that would have cost roughly $4.9 billion over fewer than 40 years, shortening the route on both ends. Linking West Seattle, downtown and Interbay, south of the original northern destination in Ballard, it was slated to open in 2010 with trains departing from 12 stations every six minutes at peak hours.
On Wednesday, one day after voters shot down a last-ditch bid to save the embattled project, the agency that's spent $180 million toward an elevated train system reluctantly began taking its first steps toward folding.

In addition to the crap-tack-ular monorail being voted down, voters in Washington affirmed the 9.5 cent gas tax by a slim margin, or so it appears.

Gas tax foes concede defeat of rollback plan
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Gas-tax foes on Wednesday conceded defeat of their once wildly popular initiative to roll back a $5.5 billion tax increase that will add nearly a dime to the price of every gallon of gasoline.
Kelly Evans, campaign director for the opposition, said (...) "For a long time we haven't invested in our infrastructure and it's time. That's what our voters have said. Emotion was on the other side, the `send Olympia a message' emotion. Ours was a logical argument about safety and infrastructure."

I'm for the gas tax, but it makes me uncomfortable. Not the tax, regressive though it may be (that's the way they do it in Washington State). Rather, I'm worried that a large part of the tax will be gobbled up to dig an underground tunnel near the Seattle earthquake fault and inches from Elliot Bay.

This strikes me as absurd.

The tricky bit is convincing city planners that car traffic will be trending sharply downward over the next 20 years, and not up.

It can be a hard sell.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I'm always for ways to get people talking about oil without banging them over the head with a cheesy t-shirt.

Here is something I've meant to highlight before, along those lines.

Symbol of Great Change
These handcrafted jewels display dinosaur blood and are offered as a means of encouraging reflection upon what we take for granted, and upon the quality and extension of the human future that we wish to prevail. They are symbol of this industrial world's perilous and utter dependence: one among our many actions whose wisdom need be reconsidered — as we degrade the land, the sea, the climate, as we exhaust the Earth that is the only home we shall ever know. Yellow and black gold, rough-hewn beauty combined with ugliness, unnerving, to be worn by we who sense the reality and consequence of overshoot, as we restrain that old unbounded faith in the market and technological cleverness of man...

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Triple dog kudos to Eric Rachner for pointing out this story to me.

Hummer Overfloweth
The word around town was that the Hummers weren't moving. It looked like high gas prices and a White House reversal on fuel conservation meant that fewer "W" bumper stickers would find their exposed sticky sides mating gloriously with the smooth rear bumper of an H2, somewhere between the tow loop and the access hole for a Class 3 hitch.

We were skeptical at first. Sources can be unreliable, but the scuttlebutt was that inventory had been building for months now and the local Hummer dealer had panicked. He had begun storing his Hummer inventory at an undisclosed location, far from the dealer showroom so as not to spook jittery, prospective buyers with the mounting number of unsold H2s and H3s.

When an anonymous caller phoned in with the location, we were off. "The rear parking lot of the Hyatt Westlake Plaza Hotel", he said, just before the line went dead.

hummer falls as snow
behind the hyatt hotel
dealer stabs his eye

Friday, November 04, 2005

dozens if not hundreds

'Hundreds of years' of oil available
(Craig) Smith argued: "We currently have 1.28 trillion barrels of proven reserves, which are the highest in our history. And if, in fact, we are depleting the giant oil wells, how come the reserves are continuing to increase? … I just don't buy the theory that we're running out of oil."

While (Matt) Simmons agreed that the planet is not running out of oil, he insisted the industry is facing a peak production crisis. "The risk of running out of oil is miniscule," he said, "but the risk that we're peaking is a very real threat."


"The problem is," according to Smith, "if you believe that we are getting oil from decaying dinosaurs and debris from the forests then obviously there's only a finite supply. We don't embrace that. We believe that the earth is creating oil as we speak and that with technological advances and the ability to put human resources together with natural resources, and the wonderful capital markets we have here in America, we can get all the oil we need for dozens, if not hundreds of years to come."

Smith and co-author Jerome Corsi's interview last week on "Coast to Coast AM with George Noory," sent "Black Gold Stranglehold" racing up the charts to land at the No. 10 position on Amazon's non-fiction best-seller list.

Talking, and thinking about oil, or oil depletion, is hard. Most people are quite content to leave it to the experts. The problem then becomes, how does one choose their experts?

Right now, the concept of "Peak Oil" is not seriously in question as a driver for depletion of any individual oil field, ramblings of the "Black Gold Stranglehold" authors on abiotic oil aside.

Apply a Peak Oil depletion model to the World. Watch fast talkin' experts jump out of the woodwork to attack it, wielding Oil Shale and Hydrogen as if they were relics -- a silver cross, and holy water, to salve the ills of civilization.

Yergin. Lynch. St. Jerome. Birds of a feather.

That the arguments are rarely coherent matters little. Thoughtful people, observing the debate, can spend years making up their mind on an issue like this, and may prefer to wait and see the evidence.

We have years of cheap oil, if not dozens of years, if not hundreds of years, if not thousands of years. Holy Cripes! Did I just say a thousand years of cheap oil? What are you going to remember, reader?

Watch your step. Reality is in play.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

make all our dreams come true

Saudi Arabia must invest in oil production: IEA
PARIS (AFP) - The price of oil could rise by 50 percent by 2030 if Saudi Arabia does not invest adequately in oil production, the chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned.

Fatih Birol told the Financial Times newspaper that Saudi Arabia would have to almost double its current oil production of 10 million barrels per day to meet expected demand in 2030.

But the newspaper quoted her as saying in an interview that Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer of oil in the world, might increase its production by only half the amount needed in the next 25 years.

"It is not a problem of availability of reserves or capital. We need to be sure that the increase in production will be high enough and a sustained production capacity increase policy is in place. That will need sustained political will," she said.

More postcards from the Michael Lynch school of reality.

This is spoon-bending nonsense. There is no there, there. The rocks don't contain that much oil. Production in Saudi Arabia will never double, with or without political will, with or without "capital".

It is, after all, a problem of reserves.

Makes one wonder. When oil begins it's inevitable production decline, will all these geniuses start running around complaining that we missed our chance to drill 1000 wells over the last scoop of rocky road ice cream?

If it worked for the Quaker State, it can work for the world, or so the logic goes.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

fighting the good fight

Morning Remembrance
Which gets us to Smalley's ballsy attitude. I like to think I can go after peak-oil optimists like Michael Lynch with just a dose of the courage that Smalley has mustered up the last few years. It helps to have a BS detector highly tuned thanks to witnessing the way top scientists have operated over the years.

Mobjectivist on why we do what we do, painfully spreading the news on the arcane and confusing topic of cheap energy depletion.

Because it matters.

It matters for our family, friends, and humanity in general.