Wednesday, November 29, 2006

not to worry

Stocks gain as Exxon's rise drowns out Bernanke
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose modestly on Tuesday as energy shares advanced on higher oil prices and overshadowed a warning on inflation from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp., the biggest publicly traded oil company, rose 2.3 percent, or $1.69, to $74.16 as the price of U.S. crude oil advanced 1.1 percent on forecasts of colder weather in the United States.

Whew! What an unexpected boon...

Never mind encroaching inflation, because, er, energy profits are bullish!

And here I thought monetary inflation and increased profits for Big Energy were views of the same donkey from different ends.

Monday, November 27, 2006

now wait a doggone second!

James Kunstler, May 2005:
question What advice would you give to parents -- should they be teaching their kids survival skills aside from how to cooperate and live in a small-scale community?

answer Teach them how to be polite and fair, and teach them how to play a musical instrument -- we're going to have to keep our spirits up. Make yourself a part of a cohesive community. Be prepared to carry your weight and deal with a hands-on vocation. There will be far fewer public-relations executives and far more milkmaids.

question This sounds a bit like science fiction for back-to-the-landers. Are you a sci-fi junkie?

answer I read next to zero science fiction. And I don't write it.\\

More recently:
DM: What are you currently working on? Your blog is amazingly busy, so I gather that takes up a lot of time. Are you writing, or planning to write, another book?

JHK: I am in the middle of a post-oil novel -- since that is a world that can only be imagined, not reported upon directly. I think people will be interested to receive a detailed, imagined picture of this future. The job of fiction is to create a plausible world. My blog connects me to my readership, but it, too, has diminishing returns. My email load as become a tremendous burden and an obstacle to getting things done. For the moment, I have accepted these consequences, but I can imagine a time ahead when I just "go tune my fiddle".

This post is not meant to poke fun at James Kunstler. I just can't help but notice that he is seemingly writing science fiction, even though he likely does not wish his futuristic novel framed as such.

Should be a good read. The gift of science fiction is that while it often gets the future exactly wrong, it maintains the power to prefigure events in unpredictable ways.

Like Blowups Happen, Heinlein's 1940 short story of hair-trigger tensions amongst the staff of a nuclear power plant. Things didn't turn out that way exactly -- yet an echo of this imagined tension manifested in the psychotic nuclear weapons period of the cold war and exists to this day. An itch that has never been scratched, nuclear war.

And they call peak oil types apocalyptic.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

seen at mobjectivist

Thursday, November 23, 2006

new gold dream

Rising Costs Crimp New Energy Projects
HOUSTON (Dow Jones) -- Even as their coffers swell with cash, oil companies are warning that rising costs could crimp spending on major projects needed to meet the world's ever-growing demand for energy.

Labor and manufacturing costs have escalated so sharply this past year that projects' price tags are nearly doubling from when they were announced. Where the industry once thought it could complete a project at $10,000 per barrel of oil, actual costs are closer to $18,000 to $20,000, said Doug Terreson, managing director at Morgan Stanley, at a conference in Houston last week.

A shallow lie of the oily set is that higher energy prices open up a world of possibilities. Complicated projects which don’t pencil out at 30 dollars a barrel are supposedly feasible at 80 dollars a barrel.

I’ve got your undulating plateau right here.

The first thing one learns when investigating energy in an industrial economy is that money drives nothing. Potable energy is the go-juice. The day oil hits 150 dollars a barrel is the day thousands of retard projects all across the globe will be shuttered forever. For want of energy!

That hour has not yet struck. But meanwhile, here in our mundane day to day, when the price of energy doubles, there is a lag,

- and then the price of everything doubles.

A gallon of milk, a deep sea oil rig, all the same. Pay attention.

Monday, November 20, 2006

burning money

BLM Drops ExxonMobil from Oil Shale RDD Project Bidding
Another major concern was the amount of energy required to power the OSTS development. Commentors requested that the PEIS address the sources of power for each project and the numbers and locations of required new power plants.

Little advertised in our mainstream culture wherein motive power is measured in dollars rather than industrial quantities of energy is that the favored shale oil production scheme in Colorado involves multi-megawatt power plant(s). Huge heating coils and a space laser are also involved but never mind that for now. It is an open question as to what will power said power plant(s). Certainly not energy; not much of that lying about anymore.

Technology must be employed instead.

Noting the furious pace at which the Fed has been printing money, doubling the amount of greenbacks in circulation since 2001, might I modestly propose cellulosic ethanol as the fuel source?

First, pound a billion dollars worth of paper money into a slurry. Ferment and Distill. Master craftsmen will sample the bitter brew of benjamin’s, delivering results to power plant(s) when the product is perfectly aged. Perverts will drink it for pleasure.

Yes, burning money will help us get a handle on our inflation problem and produce a homegrown supply of sweet, light crude at the same time.

Terrorist free, for what ails ye.

Does it hurt when the presidential medal of freedom gets pinned achest?

Friday, November 17, 2006

mission accomplished, CERA

Pulitzer Prize winner suggests world still has plenty of oil
WASHINGTON - Far from being a nearly exhausted resource, the world's oil reserves are three times as large as some popular estimates state, and peak global oil production is still about a quarter-century away, according to a new study by Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian Daniel Yergin.
The remaining oil resource base is about 3.74 trillion barrels, according to a report released Tuesday by Cambridge Energy Research Associates, which Yergin runs. That is more than three times the 1.2 trillion barrels that "peak-oil" theorists suggest.
The report, titled "Why the Peak Oil Theory Falls Down," challenges an increasingly popular view that the world is about to run out of oil. The Yergin report debunks the so-called Hubbert Peak Oil Theory.

Thanks to tireless editors at the Energy Bulletin for covering the vocal and pointed criticism of the CERA report.

However, Daniel Yergin and company win. Not on points. See the above rendering of the CERA report by a journalist who knows nothing about energy short yet clearly pines for something akin to Yergin's Pulitzer. For those new to the topic, every item highlighted in bold in the above article is factually inaccurate. Most laughably so.

CERA has set up camp in the blighted media landscape right next to the global warming deniers, (lately long of tooth and coughing up blood.) They staked their position. A left-right, a liberal media-fox news, a yin-yang.

Every time Peak Oil shows up now in the mainstream press, we'll get a quote from "Investment Banker" Simmons and "Pulitzer Winner" Yergin.

Fair and Balanced.

Mission accomplished, CERA.

Meanwhile it is an open question whether our polygot civilization has less time to deal with global warming, or the effects of energy depletion. I expect a photo finish.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

the black death and peak oil genocide

Attitude adjustment: Facing our ecological predicament
After a talk I gave last year on food and energy, one audience member remarked that it seemed to him that we face challenges so daunting that little can be done to stop a worldwide collapse of civilization. "What is the point in trying?" he seemed to be asking. As I prepare for guest lectures on peak oil and the consequences of overshoot at a local college this week, I'm asking myself: Is that person's attitude really all that unreasonable?

Respected peak oil philosopher Kurt Cobb directs his essay from this point to survey a few of the conventional scenarios, finally pointing out correctly:

And, yet the approach which is hardest to sell seems like the safest. It relies on the concrete, concerted actions of people everywhere doing things that require no miracles of technology, no rosy assumptions about the future availability of critical resources, and only limited faith in the marketplace(…)

The original rhetorical question, “What is the point of trying?” may be answered in a different way.

There is certainly a point in trying to solve our ecological problems. Whether we humans do, or do not succeed, is hardly “the” point.

If humanity has already FUBAR'd so badly that despite our best efforts, our current global culture is screwed, it is still reasonable that a small population of humans will exist through the crisis point and beyond. Culture and perhaps morphology thus vectored away from the current path of cheeto enriched decadence.

This is known as the “die off” scenario. A bit of a hubbub and to-do has arisen over this eventuality actualizing in the short term. A handful of witless commentators have in the past blamed peak oil types for pointing out the negative scenario in the first place.

If a doctor tells one to cut out smoking or face the likelihood of delitorious health issues, it isn’t the doctor’s fault when cancer develops. It might be their fault if they didn’t provide an adequate prescription to address a very real physical addiction. Sadists don’t make good doctors, and those among us who might revel in the bloody possibilities of the coming years are obviously on a dead end track.

Be that as it may, people are mortal, and historically, civilizations are too. Fetishizing our current state of affairs as permanent is ridiculous, and hardly desirable at that. If the vaunted tar sands of Canada are to double in output, a river must disappear completely into Hades.

Frankly, there is something to be said for the Glum Olde Plague Years, at least in the eyes of our successors. Consider the results of the Black Death. Traumatic for a culture to have so many die before their time, although people dying early is not at all unheard of, only the increased incidence of same. The Renaissance flowered in the wake of the death and suffering, an echo of the fabled phoenix. The medieval period had ended.

We exist today in a state of technocratic medievalism. Short term fixes are plastered onto our pollution riddled populations to achieve festering goals. Bigger cars. Pharma for all, strictly meted out by government. Bigger boats, with bigger nets, for fewer fish.

More population, to increase the share of the pie of those who laid in their claims early, by virtue of having been born first, into a society that worships property values.

Blast property values, and exponentially increasing populations too.

It is time for a Renaissance. Spaceship Earth, Gaia, the Ecosphere, the Commons - - in trouble by any name. Is a dreadful, festering death afflicting billions the only thing that can spur a Renaissance? Hardly, yet with or without it we are all fated to suffer our mortality in due course.

Face up to your monkey butt. Face up to the patterns of witless consumption that are choking and subdividing this planet. With a little more work, the third rock out from Sol could become as interesting as the surface of Luna. The opinions of a few mangy peakniks count for little in the grand scheme of things. The actions of the many are enacting a final vote, a tyranny of the energy-rich majority.

If the die off comes, so be it. I guarantee a flower will grow out of the turd.

Evolution happens.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

So Long, and Thanks for all the Fishsticks

Scientists Fret over Starving and Missing Whales
Finding one 30-ton grey whale [image] in the vast North Pacific might be like looking for a needle in a haystack, but finding 17,000 shouldn't be. But that's the situation researchers faced while searching for the creatures in their traditional summer feeding grounds last season—and the whales' absence has them concerned.
"We've just come off a second summer in Canada in which we've had next to no whales show up," said William Megill of Bath University in the UK. "Not only in our little area, but apparently throughout the traditional feeding areas from Washington on up north. We have no idea where the whales all went this year."

Fresh on the heels of the tarter sauce catastrophe - - stocks of “all” protein laden autonomous algae munchers are on track to collapse within fifty years - - comes the news that “some” of our mammalian kin apparently are struggling now. The cold wind of irony blows.

Perhaps they’ve gone to hell, beating our generation out the door. Perhaps a starship captain has transported them back to the future to prevent our solar system from being destroyed by glitter. One can well imagine a small population of grey whales bleating their last bleats as a Japanese whaler runs them down.

It hurts when 17,000 whales go missing, but at this stage it is merely the tip of a rapidly melting iceberg.

Globally the news is all troubling, unsettling. No gloom and doom here – this is just what honest reporting tastes like in ought-six. The short list would include: energy shortages linked to food shortages, overpopulation, denuded soil, water tables draining, ecological collapse of the oceans, and yes, global warming. (A survivable affair as long as the methane hydrates don’t cut loose. We’re all bored with the current coastlines, which have been carefully stained with human feces and PCBs.)

Our human problems should be considered solvable, if addressed. Can anyone honestly say that the problems are being addressed in a systematic and courageous way? Are we in the West sacrificing any aspect of our polymer coated lifestyle to lay the groundwork for a richer, fuller, more humane culture for our successors? Hell no.

At best, each of the interlocked problems mentioned above compete for attention separately, and desperation programs are embarked on to pseudo-address certain of them while a jet setting existence is maintained. An excellent example of this is the imaginary money being spent on imaginary liquid fuel. Now is a great time to get in on this ponzi scheme, as unicorns and rainbows dance in the eyes of technocrats. I’m convinced that publicly traded ethanol producers will see their paper stocks soar to the moon, POW, at the first major burp in the traditional oil markets.

These global problems cannot be effectively addressed separately. Solving problems must then become our industry, the artifact we produce as a human race. One hundred years of directed attention ought to do the trick. The consumerist, globalist myths of our age need be beaten into gravel and dust, pronto, before humans become the creation myth of cockroaches.

When tallying up what must be saved, fish are the top of my list. That’s our brain food, right there. One can readily imagine that some time after we run out of Omega Three, names like “Og” and “Biff” will shortly come into common usage again.

Polysyllabic words are for nerds and stinky fish eaters.

In that area, Crawford and Marsh were ahead of their time in proposing that human encephalisation (evolutionary brain growth) could not have happened in environments which were poor in brain specific nutrients, such as on the African savannah. Their thesis was, from the beginning, that this remarkable phenomenon could only have feasible happened on coasts, or at least in waterside habitats rich in essential fatty acids like DHA.

More recently, Crawford (has) been part of a group of nutritional biochemists, including Stephen Cunnane and Leigh Broadhurst which has published a number of papers promoting a link between human encephalisation (the evolutionary trend to larger brains) and proposed increase in the use of coastal food chain.