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Peak Oil: A Global Economy in Crisis
Left Hook (“A Radical Youth Journal Based in the U.S”)
by David Chege
The global oil market is making headlines with an increasing frequency these days, as rising gas costs dig into people’s pockets and the price of a barrel of oil continues its upward trajectory. While the administration talks of decreased reliance on foreign oil, the reality is that America has not been energy independent since the 70s oil crisis when it fell from a net producer to a net consumer of oil. When Saudi Arabia announces that its supergiant Ghawar oil field is declining in output every year , it is stating that it is beginning to undergo the same crisis of production that shocked the US economy three decades ago. Saudi oil is the keystone of world production, and Ghawar supplies nearly half of Saudi output. Everyone knows that the Middle East has lots of oil, but if we can’t pump it out of the ground as fast as we use it, we are in for a tumultuous decade.
In their totality, these difficulties will require a complete overhaul of our global economy from oil/coal/gas consuming technologies to renewable electricity/hydrogen technologies. However, a merely theoretical knowledge of new technologies is not enough if the infrastructure is not in place to deliver it to the public. The transition will take time but must be made before the inevitable economic contraction caused by declining oil production renders it impossible. The vise is tightening. Today is not too soon. Tomorrow may be too late.
(5 May 2005)
Ed: This is the first essay articulating Peak Oil that I’ve seen in a leftist journal. Author David Chege is a “24 year old activist, musician, and agent of -Linus Bell- at large on the New York City scene.”
End of Suburbia scares, inspires Caspar audience
Fort Bragg Advocate-News
Although Caspar has never had a freeway or a suburb, some locals were planning lifestyle changes after watching the film The End of Suburbia on Saturday at Caspar Community Center.
The film describes how the possibly imminent peak and decline of world oil supplies will doom Americas freeways, strip malls, food prices, suburbs and even lawns, forcing a return to farming and community-based living.
Petra Schulte of Little River, a local teacher, said she was going to start changing her life right away. “I’m going to get a manual hand pump for my water. I’m going to look into wind energy. I’m going to do more in the garden and talk to people about this.”
About 90 people packed the community center for the film and presentations on local control.
Lezlie Blackburn of Mendocino plans to move to India, which she just visited. She admired the pace of life there and was disgusted by the endless consumption, lack of community and lack of public transportation in the United States.
Although the mainstream media, endlessly preoccupied with the Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson trials, has spent the last two years ignoring the issue of peak oil and the film, Suburbia has been a hit in the alternative and energy press and on campuses around the United States and Canada. Geologists around the world have been talking about the issue since the 1970s.
The films discomfiting apocalyptic viewpoint about the end of the accelerator-heavy American way of life is tempered by hopeful looks at a future not ruled by consumption, greed, war and constant hurry.
(5 May 2005)
And now, a word from a politician
Md. congressman plugs recording of his remarks about state of world’s oil
By Gwyneth K. Shaw
WASHINGTON – Just before midnight Tuesday, when Maryland Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett rose to speak, the House of Representatives suddenly looked like the Home Shopping Network.
In what the cable channel C-SPAN calls a first in its 25 years, Bartlett propped up a sign during his remarks about the world’s supply of oil, telling people how they could purchase videos and DVDs of the speech from the cable channel beloved by government junkies.
Jennifer Moire, a spokeswoman for C-SPAN – which televises all floor proceedings of the House and Senate – said it’s the first time anyone has made such a helpful suggestion to viewers.
Lisa Wright, a Bartlett aide, said the Western Maryland Republican wasn’t trying to make money. He merely wanted to meet the demands of the market. She said Bartlett’s office had gotten dozens of requests for copies of his earlier comments about oil. Prior to Tuesday night, he had spoken twice on the subject during a period that follows the close of regular business, when publicity-hungry congressmen address an empty House chamber – and the C-SPAN audience.
In his latest speech, Bartlett spoke of the untapped potential of nuclear power to solve the nation’s energy problems, including as a supply for hydrogen that could be used to power cars, as well as solar and other renewable sources.
Energy policy is a pet issue for Bartlett. According to his spokeswoman, he was the first member of Congress to drive a Toyota Prius, a gas-electric hybrid car, in 2000, and his house near Frederick is solar-powered. “It just goes back to being a farmer, to being acutely aware of the environment,” she said.
Whether the video of his speech becomes a big seller is another matter. Moire did not know late yesterday whether anyone had called C-SPAN to order it.
(5 May 2005)
Ed: Ironic that the newspaper ignored the earth-shaking content of Bartlett’s speech, and focused on this trivial aspect. Original article requires registration.
So stupid, it’s painful
Who on earth is writing this country’s energy policy?
Creators Syndicate (via WorkingforChange)
By Molly Ivins
AUSTIN, Texas — When the history of this administration is written, I suspect the largest black mark against it will be wasting time. The energy bill just passed by the House is a classic example of frittering away precious time and resources by doing exactly nothing that needs to be done about energy. The bill gives $8.1 billion in new tax breaks to the oil companies, which are already swimming in cash.
Renewable energy sources are not pie-in-the-sky — they’re here right now, and they’re going to be a lot cheaper than oil. The single cheapest thing we can do about oil is not use so much of it. Current hybrid technology will not get us to the mythical goal of “energy independence,” but at least we can slow down the demand for oil. In theory, it only takes 15 years to replace the entire fleet of American cars now on the road. We don’t have another four years to waste.
American energy policy — written by Beavis and Butthead.
(5 May 2005)
Will wood help fill US energy needs?
Christian Science Monitor
Forget corn processing. Don’t wait for switch grass. The real key to producing enough ethanol for America’s cars and trucks this century is wood.
That’s the contention of researchers at the State University of New York (SUNY). By revamping the way paper is made, they’ve found an economical way to extract important energy-rich sugars from the trees and then convert these sugars into ethanol, a gasoline additive, and other useful chemicals.
It’s a process the researchers call a biorefinery. Installed at the nation’s paper mills, biorefineries could produce 2.4 billion gallons of ethanol a year, they estimate, or 80 percent of the nation’s projected need this year.
(5 May 2005)
Company strikes oil in Utah
AP via Bellingham Herald
Geologists upbeat, analyst is skeptical
SALT LAKE CITY – A tiny oil company has snapped up leasing rights to a half-million acres in central Utah that it says could yield a billion barrels or more of oil. Geologists are calling it a spectacular find – the largest onshore discovery in at least 30 years, located in a region of complex geology long abandoned for exploration by major oil companies.
Wolverine and government geologists said the company is looking at a total of 25 deposits that could contain 1 billion barrels of oil.
If Wolverine could produce 1 billion barrels at once, it could satisfy the nation’s demand for about 45 days – less than the reserve that Congress may open at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which by equally speculative estimates may contain 10 billion barrels of oil.
(5 May 2005)
Oil projects may get less scrutiny
A section of the energy bill approved by the House of Representatives last month
would exempt many federal energy projects from the 1969 National Environmental
If the Senate passes the bill and the president signs it into law, many
oil-and-gas projects will no longer be analyzed for their environmental effects
or be open to public comment.
(5 May 2005)
Blair’s Next War
By Dave Wearing
During the UK election campaign many of New Labour’s supporters have stressed
that the issue of the war in Iraq, whatever one’s view of the government’s
conduct, belongs firmly in the past. Columnist Polly Toynbee has said that to
cast an anti-war vote against the government would be to take “revenge for a
war that will never be repeated”. Former New Labour minister Robin Cook, who
resigned in the run-up to the Iraq war, said that “it is not going to happen
again..No 10 knows perfectly well that it cannot repeat the controversy over
Iraq”. But the case for optimism is tenuous. To present the Iraq war as a
unique and unrepeatable event is to fundamentally misrepresent the current
global picture and the UK’s place within it. In fact Britain could well be
involved in further US military action in the near future, perhaps in an
assault on Iran as early as next month.
(4 May 2005)
Nations seek to ‘save oil in a big hurry’
The world’s richest energy consuming nations yesterday called for measures to
curb their dependence on unreliable and expensive imports as near-record oil
prices show signs of stifling the global economy.
The US, Europe, China and Japan were among those represented at a meeting of the
International Energy Agency, the energy arm of the Organisation of Economic
Co-operation and Development, to protect the interests of consuming nations.
“We think the high price of energy – oil, gas and coal – is hurting the economy,
less in OECD countries but more in the less developed countries,” Claude Mandil,
head of the 26-nation IEA said after two-day ministerial talks on supply
(4 May 2005)
Solutions and Sustainability
Sustainability commitment (policy statement)
JPMorgan Chase recognizes that balancing non-financial factors such as environmental and social issues with financial priorities is an essential part of good corporate citizenship, in addition to being fundamental to risk management and the protection of investors.
We have a direct impact on the environment through our daily consumption of energy and paper resources. We also potentially have an indirect effect on the environment through the provision of financial services to projects in environmentally sensitive areas.
Protecting the natural systems upon which all life depends while lifting people out of poverty and advancing economic development are among the greatest challenges confronting humanity. These three pillars of sustainable development are central to the UN Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000. We recognize that the policies and practices we adopt today will shape not only our lives but also those of future generations. We therefore have an opportunity to make a positive contribution to environmental and social concerns by enacting policies designed so that our business operations do not degrade the environment or cause social harm. Such policies not only indicate positive environmental stewardship, but also present business opportunities such as innovative financial products and investments in sustainable forestry and renewable energy. This will help us better manage our risks, attract and retain critical talent, develop expertise, and provide clients with solutions to evolving exposures.
To demonstrate our commitment, JPMorgan Chase is adopting a comprehensive environmental policy. The policy will be implemented with an Environmental Management System that includes planning, training, implementation, measurement, reporting and review, and will apply to new business and existing business that comes up for renewal or extension after September 1 2005. Specifically, we will integrate environmental and social awareness into the credit analysis and financing decision process, and incorporate it, where appropriate, as part of our due diligence review. We will train relevant employees to take responsibility for and implement these policies. Finally, we will publish an annual sustainability report using the Global Reporting Initiative(1) framework.
Ed: Mentioned in Gristmill