Energy Headlines - May 5, 2005
Click on the headline (link) for the full text.
Global energy - how much remains?
Pacific Ecologist (NZ) via Scoop
PETER NORTH calculates how long the world’s energy supplies can continue to support the existing pattern of 2% pa increase in energy consumption. The figures suggest increasing energy consumption is unlikely to be sustainable for much longer. So, what next for energy? One option to tackle an emerging scenario of resource shortages is to increase development of renewable energy technologies. A concurrent approach is to conserve energy resources while we still have them. Either way we need to get more energy conscious than we are under the existing economic system that encourages endless GDP, population growth and associated environmental destruction.
A popular Saudi Arabian proverb runs: “My grandfather rode a camel, my father drove a car, I fly a jet plane, my son will ride a camel.” According to this view from the oil capital of the world, the oil bonanza on which the world has been having a long free lunch has to end sometime. If the proverb holds true, after the hydrocarbon era has run its course, the future will look much like the past when much of the human race lived on the renewable energy of sunshine and firewood, the rich got around on domestic animals and the poor walked.
Energy optimists disagree with this view of the future, claiming plenty of oil lies underground somewhere waiting to be tapped. In any case, they point out, oil is but one energy source. In a world of boundless resources, when oil supplies run down, we merely switch to other forms of energy. As these are used up too, prices will rise and the market will deliver us further substitutes. And thus the present economy of endless growth that we have got to know and love can stretch indefinitely into the future. Which of these two visions of the energy future is likely to be more accurate?
(4 May, 2005)
Ed: The current issue of Pacific Ecologist (summer 05), in which this article appears, is devoted to "Securing Sustainable Societies." See Table of Contents / Editorial. There's also a homepage for the magazine.
Audio: Jan Lundberg Interview:
Peak Oil and Cultural Change
Steppin’ Out of Babylon
Jan Lundberg is an environmental activist of many years. His former firm was well known for publishing the "bible of the oil industry." There he noticed the unsustainable consumption of highly polluting "unending" oil extraction, and eventually left the family business he was running. He later founded the Alliance for a Paving Moratorium and the Auto-Free Times magazine. Jan now publishes and lives in the San Francisco Bay area. As the only oil industry analyst who came to fight oil expansion, he speaks in this interview about the impending energy crisis due to the imminent "peak" in global oil supply. Rather than the technofix, which his research found is really not possible, he advocates social and cultural change towards community and sustainability.
(22 April, 2005)
Ed: See original for MP3.
MP3 of Pres. Carter's Energy Speech
MonteQuest: Due to my correspondence with David Stanhope at the Carter Library, Carter's April 18, 1977 Energy Speech to the nation is now available on-line for the first time in mp3 format at the Miller Center. You will find his words striking and prophetic. It is so timely, it could be delivered today and not miss a beat.
(4 May, 2005)
Ed: (MP3 now at www.peakoil.com/gate.html?name=zina )
Energy Crisis 1974
More than 30 years ago, Science magazine devoted an issue to the theme of Energy. Now 28 articles from that issue are available online in PDF. Are there any forgotten gems here?
(19 April, 1974)
2005-May, ASPO Newsletter 53
Association for Study of Peak Oil and Gas
The Financial Community Wakes Up to Peak Oil, Financial Consequences of Peak Oil, The Second Great Depression: Causes & Responses, The New Posture of the International Energy Agency, More oil mergers, The Swedish Academy of Sciences to discuss Peak Oil, Oil and Iraq, Growing Awareness of Peak Oil, BP Confession, etc.
The gushing truth
Contrary to Bush, enviros and Thomas Friedman, America will never be energy independent. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we'll be able to change our gas-guzzling ways.
By Robert Bryce
It would be easy to blame it on Richard Nixon. He started blathering about "energy independence" shortly after the Arab oil producers raised prices and launched an embargo against the U.S. in October of 1973. Within weeks, oil prices quintupled and the American economy went into seizures.
The crusade for energy independence reached another crescendo last week, when the House voted to approve some $8.1 billion in tax breaks for the mightily struggling energy industry. Let's see, during the first quarter of this year, Exxon Mobil's profits jumped 44 percent. Royal Dutch/Shell's profits were up 42 percent while Marathon Oil's profits were up a measly 26 percent. And there's this news: According to John S. Herold Inc., a research-only firm, five of the country's biggest oil and gas companies had a total of some $51.4 billion in cash on-hand at the end of 2004.
Robert Bryce is a senior writer at World Energy Monthly Review and the author of "Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America's Superstate."
(4 May, 2005)
Ed: To see the rest of the article on the Salon site, you have to watch a short ad. The article is a good summary, mentioning Peak Oil and debunking the possibility of energy independence.
worst case scenario - Peak Oil America
Peak Energy (blog)
According to the optimists:
We'll all be driving around in cars containing an enclosed vat of algae outgassing methane. 300mpg city, 500 mpg freeway.
According to the pessimists:
God will smite the ethanol corn fields with locusts and drought. "How do you like your energy return on energy invested now!" god will be heard to thunder.
What will REALLY happen:
After Peak Oil, everyone who lives in the American Southwest will take the train to Kansas and eat the corn before it is processed into hummer juice.
(4 May, 2005)
Ed: More in the same vein in the original.
Topless oil prices: Playboy July edition bares the truth
The Globe and Mail ("Feed the Goat" column)
Is there a top in sight for the price of oil? Apparently not. I have it on good authority -- no less than Playboy magazine. The soon-to-hit-the-newsstands issue of Playboy (July) features an article on "peak oil." The article is said to explore a once-obscure theory that global oil supplies are about to start running dry. Ergo, the price must rise. Well done, Sherlock.
The Playboy in question has not yet crossed my desk, but I want to assure you that when it does, my interest will be concentrated exclusively on the articles
(4 May, 2005)
Boone Pickens Warns of Petroleum Production Peak
Legendary oil magnate calls it as he sees it: peak oil is here.
PALM SPRINGS, CA. - May 3, 2005. Legendary Oklahoma energy magnate, T. Boone Pickens will be 77 years old this month, and maybe because of that, he feels free to speak what's on his mind; and he did to an audience of alternative fuel advocates in Palm Springs today.
Addressing the 11th National Clean Cities conference, hosted by the former mayor of Palm Springs and introduced by former U.S. Energy Secretary John Herrington (1984-1989), Boone, as his friends refer to him, was candid in his views of wind energy, nuclear power, natural gas, and in particular petroleum.
While he acknowledges wind power is cheap today, he, as well as former-Secretary Herrington, questioned the contribution it can make to the nation's future energy needs. He finds nuclear power attractive and believes natural gas should be used to power our transportation fleets rather than to generate electricity. In general, he was very upbeat about the prospects for alternative transportation fuels.
But on the future of petroleum, he was less sanguine.
(4 May, 2005)
Venezuelan says oil will flow
As unrest intensifies, changes ahead in industry
First, there were the conflicting reports of mass layoffs, sabotage and a drop in Venezuela's oil production. Then the military was ordered in, and the accusations flew.
As conditions worsened Tuesday, Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez was in Houston, calmly trying to reassure the international oil industry his country is open for business.
With its oil sector threatening to spiral into another era of turmoil and its relations with Washington already strained, Venezuela is challenging the resolve of U.S. companies to operate in the nation.
(3 May, 2005)
The Nuclear Power Option
In his sketchy speech on energy policy last week, President Bush placed a high priority on nuclear energy, which he described as "one of the safest, cleanest sources of power in the world." The president had good reason to suggest an important role for this much-feared energy source.
The price of natural gas, the current fuel of choice for power plants, has risen sharply. And there is mounting evidence that damage from global warming may dwarf any environmental risk posed by nuclear power. It is therefore critical to keep nuclear power as part of the nation's energy mix. But Mr. Bush will have to address some crucial concerns before the public will follow him down the nuclear path with much enthusiasm.
(4 May, 2005)
Greens warn of Labour nuclear plans
The Green party today warned that a vote for Labour would be a vote "to let nuclear power in by the back door".
The party - which partly emerged out of the anti-nuclear movement of the 70s - is concerned that Tony Blair has signalled nuclear power could make a return if Labour win a third term, at the expense of an expansion of renewable energy production.
The government's energy white paper left new nuclear power plants open as an option, but recent leaks and hints have suggested atomic energy could make a comeback as part of the battle against climate change.
(4 May, 2005)
Rising call: Cut US oil imports
Christian Science Monitor
Security hawks, environmentalists forge a rare consensus on energy
President Bush says he can't immediately bring down the price of foreign oil. But sixth-grader Savannah Walters of Tampa, Fla., has a plan. Her "Pump 'em Up!" website urges kids to bug their parents to check their tire pressure. Properly inflated tires on the nation's cars would save an estimated 4 million gallons of gasoline a day.
R. James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, also has an energy plan. He's signed onto a 129-page blueprint from the newly formed Energy Future Coalition, which would use tax credits to push fast development of hybrid and other advanced vehicles and technologies that could make ethanol from corn stalks, prairie grass, or even sawdust.
Outside official Washington, which is laboring over an energy bill, energy-independence plans are popping up across the American political landscape. Liberals and conservatives, ecologists and former military brass have reached the same conclusion: The United States needs a radical change in energy policy. The way to do it, they agree, is through a mix of conservation and new-but-available technology that could quickly begin to reduce US reliance on some of the most volatile regions of the world.
(5 May, 2005)
IEA: Fuel consumption continues rise
By Adam Porter in Perpignan, France
Energy ministers meeting at the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris have predicted a large increase in fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions by 2030.
The IEA forecasts both consumption of and emissions from fossil fuels growing at a rapid pace over the next 25 years. In what they call a "business-as-usual scenario", fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions are expected to increase by 60% by 2030.
However, this substantial growth in energy consumption will be limited to the most industrialised, richer nations, the IAE predicts.
(5 May, 2005)
U.S. Energy Chief Wants Global Push for 'Clean Coal'
AP via ENN
PARIS — U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman called for more international efforts to develop coal as an alternative energy source as ministers met Tuesday to address concerns over the future of the world's energy supplies.
Bodman, attending his first major international meeting since he took office in February, also sought to deflect criticism that the United States is not doing enough to improve its own energy efficiency and reduce both consumption and greenhouse emissions.
Speaking on the second day of an International Energy Agency meeting of energy ministers in Paris, Bodman said the energy watchdog should be "more proactive" in promoting the development of so-called clean coal. The technology, which is still at the research stage, promises to reduce greenhouse emissions that contribute to global warming.
Among other IEA members, there was little sign of open enthusiasm for a return to coal at the Paris meeting, which called for efforts to combat the environmental effects of "growing dependence on fossil fuels," such as coal, petroleum or natural gas, which are nonrenewable
(4 May, 2005)
High prices are here to stay
By Marshall Auerback of PrudentBear.com
The recognition of oil's depletion dynamics neither means that oil is in imminent danger of running out, nor that no more will be discovered, that alternative technologies cannot be invented and deployed as substitutes.
It does mean that the single most important and chemically unique storehouse of energy on the Earth is finite and cannot be relied upon to deliver infinitely extended growth on its own, and the global economy will have to adjust to significantly higher energy inputs for the foreseeable future in spite of the recent price weakness recorded in the markets. This likely implies lower aggregate growth (and, by extension, corporate profits) and, from a geopolitical standpoint, a growing tension between the forces binding the world more tightly together into a global financial and production system and the forces competing to control the resources that fuel that production.
(4 May, 2005)
The arguments against oil
By Dave Roberts
To summarize: though there are tons of arguments in favor of moving from oil to clean energy, none of the arguments is a knock-out on its own. Thus it is in our best interests to keep all the arguments going, and to accept the support and help of anyone who's making any of them, while not tying ourselves too closely to any one of them.
(4 May, 2005)
Solutions and Sustainability