Thursday, September 28, 2006

the wizard of oil

The Pied Piper of Ethanol

Critics of peak oil often sidestep dealing with issues of geology and production, and dive straight in with attacks on the resulting scenarios, as if that might falsify the science and the observations of a century.

A favored rubric used in the critique of “gloomy” scenarios is to pseudo-falsify them by associating them with religion. In other words, should one claim people around the world are going to starve, and worse that overfed Americans might hit their ideal weight, one will be tarred with the brush of the Christian Apocalypse. In this way, many rationalists are lumped in with those who take the book of Revelation literally.

Thus categorized, they are humiliated and forgettable -- in the minds of critics.

This is instructive, because it allows the stray cornucopian thinker who might be reading this blog an insight into how I conceive of Vinod Khosla in my pitifully illogical and bad chemical soaked brain.

I think Vinod Kosla sincerely appeals to as broad an audience as possibly on basically religious grounds, with a shamanistic frosting of reason and science around his gooey, globalist new- age vision.

He shepards a flock of boomers who need the salve and balm of forgiveness for consuming the world - - but not actual change. Oh no.

Charlie Rose interview of Vinod Khosla and Richard Branson [video]
I'm not a big believer in asking people to change their behavior

This problem, if it is going to be solved, (...) is going to be solved by lots of money from Wall Street

It is very visible to me that within 25 years we can replace all the gasoline in (the U.S.) with ethanol.

While I have perhaps unfairly arranged his quotes, I believe this is an accurate portrait of his message. Ignored here are the questionable assumptions and erroneous statements regarding ethanol which he litters his presentation with. Others have done a fine job highlighting the technical problems.

Vinod Khosla has been struck by a powerful vision of America powering her pathetically inefficient transportation system on grass, and doesn’t realize that he has hitched his wagon to a perpetual motion machine.

His passion is that of a saint,

A holy fool,

And he might succeed in dragging your friends and neighbors with him.

People love it when you tell them they needn't change, that a thirty dollar upgrade on their car will save the world.

Forgive me, world, for I have sinned. Pennies in the hat.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

know jack

Peak oil theorists don't know Jack via Energy Bulletin
The days of such discoveries were supposedly gone, with oil supplies peaking as the world simply ran out of big oil-producing fields, according to pessimistic forecasters. Instead, high technology and sky-high oil prices have combined to transform dud prospects into billions of barrels of crude.
"The industry is still very capable of coming up with new ways of producing oil," says Michael Lynch, a prominent opponent of the notion of peak oil -- that global supplies of crude are set for a marked decline.

Following the personalities and trends of oil in the news, a few things have become clear.

For one, while there is a subculture of people for whom the concept of peak oil has meaning, ranging from permaculture folk to one Michael Lynch, it is still a background meme, something that exists below the active conciousness of western culture. Peak oil is an idea to argue over at cocktail parties or to spray paint on a train trestle.

That said, there is an industry response to the observed reality of peaking oil, (or more precisely, the peaking of oil reservoirs that can be produced at useful rates).

The response is identical to that directed at climate change and global warming. Deny, prevaricate, lie. Attack scientists.

Buy time.

Of course, in these latter days, oil industry interests are grudgingly acknowledging climate change, and even suggesting that governments of the world take action.

Seventeen years late.

Frankly, if the global response to peak oil is seventeen years off, trouble is in the offing. Staving off widespread starvation around the world is the outstanding problem that must be solved. A tank of Bio-Diesel in food form will feed a human for a year, so I’m looking for ethical solutions. Preventing resource wars is a close second. Not doing so well on that front at present.

Start picking teams for your motorcycle gang, your petrol marauders.

People are so busy untying their shoes in airports and being whisked by air and slovenly security personal that focusing on the energy motivating our twenty-first century carnival of consumption is impossible.

I don't have answers. An accurate stating of the problem at hand is essential to developing a plan of action that addresses it. The oil companies have no interest in addressing peak oil. They are certainly interested in benefiting from it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

peak cow

More On US Drought past peak
Drought experts say parts of the states most severely affected — Nebraska, the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming — have been left in far worse shape because of recent history: several years of dry conditions, a winter with little snow and then, with moisture reserves in the soil long gone, a wave of record heat this summer.

After weeks and weeks with little rain and high temperatures, one farmer, Terry Goehring, watched the mercury spike to 118 degrees in his Mound City, S.D., field one day in July. That was it. Mr. Goehring, who has farmed since 1978, sold half his 250 head of Angus cattle.

Severe drought conditions exist worldwide. Europe, Australia, Africa, North and South America, Asia. That about covers it. I guess I “predicted” this a few months back, but I won’t start crowing until Democrats sweep in after the November elections and impeach George Bush.

What do we win? Now, in drought stricken areas, water must be shipped in to thirsty cattle using expenditures of energy. That can be expensive, especially if one uses ethanol, so for now the price of beef is dropping because herds are being sold and slaughtered. There is a glut of carcass on the market. Ranchers cannot keep cattle without grass and water.

Next year? Let’s just say – beef might be the new lobster.
This year, might as well throw an extra steak or two on the grill.

Subdue the earth and all that.