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Peak Oil

Prepare for the late, late oil age

Peter Willis, BusinessDay (Johannesburg, South Africa)
I RECENTLY had the pleasure of accompanying US author Richard Heinberg on a lecture tour of SA, focusing on his contention that the global peak in oil extraction is very close and significant. Although he is a genial man with a good sense of humour, his message is sobering. He readily acknowledges that his thesis is controversial (meaning there are people who disagree with it, which is no surprise) but the logic of his central argument is compelling and was not effectively challenged in any of his 15 public engagements while here.
(19 May 2005)
Ed: Also posted at allAfrica

Energy-related News

Apollo Creed
New Apollo Energy Act contrasts sharply with “Jurassic” GOP energy bill

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, Grist
…Instead of this petroleum-soaked energy policy, some of my colleagues and I have been promoting a new vision for our energy future, one that would avoid drilling in our pristine areas, while creating jobs, enhancing our national security, and protecting the environment. This clean-energy vision, called the New Apollo Energy Act, is based on optimism rather than self-doubt, on new technologies rather than archaic methods, and on faith in Americans’ innovative talent rather than capitulation to narrow special interests. New Apollo will commit our nation to clean energy to increase domestic high-tech employment, reduce the effects of climate change, and advance our country toward independence from foreign oil. Though the Republican leadership refused to allow us to offer a version of New Apollo as an amendment to the energy bill, I will soon be introducing it as a separate bill in Congress.
(18 May 2005)

Bolivians reject gas laws

Jimmy Langman. Guardian
Bolivian indigenous and labour leaders are protesting against a new gas law they say does not go far enough to ensure that ordinary people benefit from the country’s natural resources.

Protest leaders called an indefinite strike from Monday and warned the president, Carlos Mesa, of other measures, including the takeover of state gas and oil company facilities.

They also promised road blockades leading to the capital, La Paz, and the airport in the impoverished and mostly indigenous city of El Alto, which has been the focal point for the strife that drove the previous president from power in October 2003.

“We want Bolivians to own the oil and gas,” said Francisco Vargas, from El Alto, as he hoisted a sign calling for the nationalisation of the gas resources.

Bolivians are angry at perceptions that foreign multinationals are profiting from their natural wealth. A controversial law imposing steep tax hikes on the gas sector was passed this week, but did not appease the lobby seeking nationalisation.

Political analyst Alvaro Garcia said the protests were gaining support around the country
(19 May 2005)

A Castro ally with oil cash vexes the US
Venezuela’s Chávez is the new driving force for a left-leaning region.

Danna Harman, Christian Science Monitor
CARACAS, VENEZUELA – Llorente Muñoz has a photograph of her sons tucked into the corner of her bathroom mirror. Arnaldo, 7, and Enrique, 13, are back in Cuba while she is at this small Caracas clinic taking care, as she puts it, “of my other children” – Venezuela’s poor.

Ms. Muñoz, a medic, is one of 20,650 Cuban healthcare workers and 8,600 “sports instructors” who have fanned out across Venezuela in the past two years, offering free checkups, medicines, and stretching classes. President Hugo Chávez, as leader of the world’s fifth-largest oil supplier, is footing the bill, sending up to 90,000 barrels a day to Fidel Castro’s communist island.

For critics, the relationship is a troubling sign of where Mr. Chávez wants to take his country – and even the region. Unlike Castro, who lacked the funds and support from Latin America’s previous right-wing leaders to spread his socialist revolution across the Spanish-speaking world, Chávez is flush with oil money. He is also finding receptivity thanks to a wave of left-of-center presidents who have come to power in recent years. The combination gives the US its first real challenge in the region in decades.
(19 May 2005)

Saudi ‘could double oil output’
Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading oil exporter, could double its crude production capacity to meet growing world demand, according to state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco.

“The kingdom is uniquely positioned, because of its reserves and resources, to consider raising its production by such a margin,” Aramco’s president and chief executive officer Abdullah Jumah said on Monday.
(May 17)

The Economic Tsunami: Coming Sooner Than You Think
Mike Whitney, Counterpunch
It seems that there are a growing number of people who believe as I do, that the economic tsunami planned by the Bush administration is probably only months away. In just 5 short years the national debt has increased by nearly 3 trillion dollars while the dollar has continued its predictable decline. The dollar has fallen a whopping 38% since Bush took office, due largely to the massive $450 billion per year tax cuts. At the same time, numerous laws have been passed (Patriot Act, Intelligence Reform Bill, Homeland Security Bill, National ID, Passport requirements etc) anticipating the need for greater repression when the economy takes its inevitable nosedive. Regrettably, that nosedive looks to be coming sooner rather than later.
(April 8)

They Really Are Watching You
Mark Morford, San Francisco Chronicle
Congress just passed it and Dubya has promised to sign it and the Homeland Security Department is giddier than Mel Gibson in a nail factory over it and marketers nationwide are salivating at the groin at the prospect of it, and the next big step toward America becoming an even more delightfully paranoid and draconian Big Brother wonderland has now officially been taken.

It’s called Real ID. It is, in short, a new and genetically mutated type of driver’s license for all Americans, replacing your current license and replacing your Social Security card and replacing your sense of well being and privacy and humanity and part of a new, uniform, deeply sinister, national uniform card system whereby every person living and breathing in these paranoid and tense times shall henceforth be much more traceable and watchable given how we will all soon be required by law to carry this super-deluxe computerized ID card with us at all times, packed as it will be with more personal, digitized info about you than even your mother knows.

Real ID is coming very soon. The legislation was passed with little outcry and zero debate by both House and Senate just last week because lawmakers snuck it into a massive $82 billion military spending bill, and therefore no one was really paying much attention and this is the way you get thorny disturbing culturally demeaning bills to pass without resistance from smart people who should know better.
(May 18)

Solutions and Sustainability

Crises, survivalism and the rural life.

New Era Investor (blog)
I just came back from a short holiday by Loch Ness in the Highlands of Bonnie Scotland. May is a good time to be there before the tourists and midges (an indigenous biting insect) begin to proliferate in great numbers. We rented a nice little bungalow on the remote south side of the Loch far away from the bustle of civilisation and enjoyed the views of the mountain peaks from our lounge.

This naturally raised in my mind the advice often given that people should head for the countryside when a crisis such as Peak Oil or some other urban-destroying event or process occurs. Talk of setting up your own self-sustaining home and acreage sounds appealing and very back to nature, but when placed against the backdrop of an ever-increasing crisis, does it make sense?
(19 May 2005)
Ed: Another installment on the ongoing debate of rural vs urban life. A few months ago, permaculturalist Toby Hemenway weighed in with Urban vs. Rural Sustainability. Currently there is a rough-and-tumble debate about it over at, as well as in many other venues.