Thursday, June 29, 2006

what me worry?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Weekly Roundup - Hungry Planet

(W)heat production to decline sharply
The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Friday that the nation's wheat production will decline sharply this year. According to the latest monthly crop report released by the department, the forecast of winter wheat production of this year is estimated at 1.26 billion bushels, down by 16 percent from last year's production.
The report also said that U.S. winter wheat harvest is in full swing in Texas and Oklahoma, where production has plunged to lows not seen for decades,
The latest U.S. wheat production forecasts also dropped by 4 percent from the estimates made in last month while price estimates increased by 10 cents a bushels over last month to 3.60 dollars to 4.20 dollars per bushel.

Last fall, a few friends and I were chasing some crypto – windmills in and around Northern Oregon. We didn’t find any that day, but did stumble across a region of farmland which had two visible exports – huge, oversized pickup trucks and winter wheat. My guess is the harvest is fine this year in Northern Oregon.

Not so lucky are those parts of the country being ravaged by the weird convergence of energy culture karma. Think global warming induced drought and / or flooding, coupled with the high fuel prices of peaking liquid fuel supplies. Throw in the giant sucking sound of water tables melting into grit. Food supplies are dropping shockingly fast.

To wit:

Grain Stocks Fall, prices rise.
This year’s world grain harvest is projected to fall short of consumption by 61 million tons, marking the sixth time in the last seven years that production has failed to satisfy demand. As a result of these shortfalls, world carryover stocks at the end of this crop year are projected to drop to 57 days of consumption, the shortest buffer since the 56-day-low in 1972 that triggered a doubling of grain prices.

If charts and graphs aren’t enough for the skeptics and the algae munchers, let them explain the theft of fish…

Fish theft means chinook season closes on Icicle River
Sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning, someone broke into the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery and stole 200 adult spring chinook in the holding pens. With each fish averaging about 15 pounds, that adds up to 3,000 pounds of stolen fish.
"That was basically all the spring chinook we had return up to this point," said Travis Collier, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife acting hatchery manager in Leavenworth. "The early returning portion of the fish are the larger 4- and 5-year olds, and that is roughly 20 percent of the production goal that is now missing."

It is a sad day when simply dropping a hook in the ocean is insufficient to meet the demand for fish. The answer, obviously, for the hungry fish eaters, is to pay such incredible prices that a devious criminal mind somewhere is risking a fishy felony to rob the freaking FISH ZOO of their breeding pairs.

Needless to say, this practice is not sustainable. I’d have a hard time eating Chinook this month. Actually, Alaskan salmon should be favored at this point in history. It is a subtle fact of salmon runs that the individual salmon have a sense of terroir. Salmon return to the exact rivers and stream of origin. Sub-species of salmon have died out because culverts replaced their original free-flowing paths to nirvana. When a run vanishes, it is permanent.

40 arrested at L.A. urban garden eviction
About 350 people grow produce and flowers on the 14 acres of privately owned land, in an inner-city area surrounded by warehouses and railroad tracks. The garden has been there for more than a decade, but the landowner, Ralph Horowitz, now wants to replace it with a warehouse.

What is more valuable, an empty warehouse or a city garden? Check back in five years.

Japan warned of food shortage
According to the stark warning of Akio Shibata, director of the Marubeni Research Institute, the rise of China and the intensifying global race for commodities mean that the rich and highly varied diet of modern Japan could be savagely curtailed within the next 10 years. If imports to Japan were slashed, sushi, teriyaki beef, tonkatsu pork cutlets and other favourites could be swept off the menu and a Spartan diet of plain white rice, pickles, radishes, miso soup and sardines would become the norm as Japan struggled to feed itself.

Hey, picked up the trend yet? The global food supply is in serious trouble. An entire country may be reduced to eating pickles. Beats flies, I guess.

(Less) ice may cause polar bear cannibalism
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea may be turning to cannibalism because longer seasons without ice keep them from getting to their natural food, a new study by American and Canadian scientists has found.
The study reviewed three examples of polar bears preying on each other from January to April 2004 north of Alaska and western Canada, including the first-ever reported killing of a female in a den shortly after it gave birth.

Bears eating bears. How did we come to such a pass. Next come the hungry, hungry hippos.

In the movie, meat, bread, cheese, fruit and vegetables are scarce and extremely expensive (example: a six-ounce jar of strawberry jam is 150 "D's", equivalent to $150 US dollars), and the government dispenses rations of synthetic food substances made by the Soylent Corporation: Soylent Yellow, Soylent Red, and the newest product, Soylent Green, the most popular version derived, according to the Soylent Corporation, from plankton. As the name suggests, "Soylent" is derived from soybeans and lentils.

Monday, June 12, 2006

burn for freedom

Torch My Ride: Arson for Hire
"Because of the way the economy has gone, the gas prices skyrocketing the way they have, we started to see a peak" (in arsons), Rowe said. "People that had the gas-guzzlers that got eight miles per gallon, they started to get hit hard. They didn't want those cars anymore."
Vehicle arson has had a long and occasionally humorous track record over the years. In Texas, a car salesman was arrested after offering his customers what he called a "rotisserie program." He would have their cars torched; then, after they collected on the insurance, he sold them a new car. In another part of the state, two students were arrested after they torched their high school teacher's car in exchange for passing grades.

The hilarious summer hijinks of Americans! One can almost imagine a Soccer Mom finding an unexpected taste for burning gasoline as she lobs a molotav cocktail at her hunk of Detroit steel.

Just remember, though, context is everything. If you eat granola and burn an SUV, you might find yourself doing hard time... (you questioning our way of life, boy?) Keep it funny, yo.

Why a 22.5 Year Sentence?

Many people have asked "Why a 22.5 year sentence for burning 3 Sports Utility Vehicles?" In a society where murderers and rapists with prior convictions get out of jail in 4 years, a 22.5 year sentence for a property crime seems out of wack. We believe that Jeff received such a drastic sentence because of the political nature of the action he took. While the damage was moderate ($40,000) and the trucks were later resold-the Judge with the backing of the city and state of Oregon opted to throw the book at Jeff to not only punish him but to send a chilling message to the local Eugene community that dissent will not be tolerated.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Weekly Roundup – Champagne Wishes

Demand dip leads to Saudi output cut
New York: Saudi Arabia cut oil production to 9.1 million barrels per day in April due to a drop in refinery demand, not a desire to lower stock levels, The Wall Street Journal yesterday quoted Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi as saying.
After the Opec meeting in Caracas, Al Naimi said other members are having trouble finding buyers for all their crude at a time when global storage is near full and many refiners have closed for routine maintenance, The Wall Street Journal said. "It's not just heavy oil. Even light oil is having problems" finding buyers.
He denied Saudi Arabia was easing up on production because of concern about a build-up of inventories in the United States and other importing countries, suggesting producers will sell all the oil they can at $70 a barrel.

Cutting production, eh? As planned? Sure. The road past peak oil is coming into focus. Long time readers of this blog are likely aware that Saudi Arabia has a nasty habit of trying to sell their tar, asphalt, old tires, and camel dung on the global oil bourse. When they don’t find buyers, they whine to credulous reporters. The storyline barely sticks together.

It is all about the light, sweet crude.

Iran threat to supplies triggers a steep rise in oil price
The Iranian threat comes at a sensitive moment for oil markets, with estimates suggesting little more than two million barrels a day of spare capacity and the industry bracing itself for possible supply disruptions from the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico.
Despite this, the White House joined Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, yesterday in urging calm.
President Bush’s spokesman said that Iran’s threat was “theoretical” and called for patience to allow Tehran to consider the incentive package to be offered today by Señor Solana on behalf of America, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China in return for Iran halting its nuclear work.

Spin it, clowns. What a gratingly obvious so-called threat. If the United States imposes sanctions on Iran, Iran imposes sanctions on global trade in the form of less available energy. If the United States attacks Iran, directly or by proxy, Iran will blockade the gulf and turn off the spigots. So? Don’t like it, don’t fight. Give peace a chance. Iran with nukes, scary. Israel with nukes, scary. Israel and Iran with nukes, not scary at all.

Water Shortage Affects Oil Shale
Oil shale development could run into the same problem population growth in Colorado has faced: a shortage of water. Chris Treese, external affairs director for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, says potential oil shale developers should meet immediately with local and regional water authorities to address water-related issues.

Another stupid idea killed off, again. Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief.

Coming Soon: Cleaner Diesel
In a move that may presage diesel's Cinderella-like transformation, the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday required U.S. refineries to begin making ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD), a fuel with 97 percent less sulfur than ordinary diesel that, as a result, slashes soot emissions.

Reader James Moe submitted this, and Americans may hope that a few more high efficiency European diesels find their way into the U.S. market.

Radioactive Waste Leaking into Champagne Water Supply
PARIS - May 30 - Greenpeace today revealed that France's iconic sparkling wine, Champagne, is threatened by radioactive contamination leaking from a nuclear waste dumpsite in the region. Low levels of radioactivity have already been found in underground water less than 10 km from the famous Champagne vineyards.
Problems at the dumpsite, including water migration leading to fissures in the storage cells have been reported to French nuclear safety agency in recent weeks (1). Greenpeace has written to the Comita des Producteur de Champagne to warn them that their production risks contamination, as experienced by dairy farmers in la Hague, Normandy.

The "sinking" promise of nuclear power, the gift that never stops giving. The way I see it, you can figure the nuclear energy cycle one of two ways. With cleanup, or without. Why not just bury the stuff under six inches of gravel and call it good? Hey look, now nuclear is competitive with wind generated electricity. Whee! After all, one can’t see radiation - - sounds like just another conspiracy theory from the tin foil hat crowd. Low grade nuclear waste might even have nutritional value. May I present a toast.

Friday, June 02, 2006

tales of democracy

Thursday, June 01, 2006

americans learn to sacrifice