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Peak Oil
Ask The Experts – Kenneth Deffeyes (Audio)
Financial Sense Online
An audio interview by Jim Puplava of Kenneth Deffeyes, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University & Author “Beyond Oil: The View From Hubbert’s Peak”
(May 21)

Interview with Richard Heinberg

New Dimensions Radio (Audio – 1 hr)
“Within our lifetimes we will see the peak in worldwide oil production. Soon after, we will be forced to learn to function without fossil fuels. The impact on our culture will be extraordinary-in fact, as Heinberg warns, “Civilization itself may be fundamentally unsustainable. When you add fossil fuels to it you have civilization on steroids. That’s what we’ve had over the last couple of centuries, and that is profoundly unsustainable.” But while change is inevitable, it’s also a source of hope. Heinberg points to the opportunities we’ll have to work in service to our natural environment and our culture, and explains how we will, in fact, create a world where every culture around the globe is a sustainable culture. 1 hr.
(May 2005)
Ed: Free listening for the week of May 23 – 29th.

Paranoia runs deep

James Howard Kunstler, Clusterf*ck Nation
“Paranoia runs deep; into your life it will creep. . . .”

So went the lyrics to the old Buffalo Springfield song from the tumultuous Vietnam War years and now, as Yogi Berra also said around the same time, “it’s like deja vu all over again.”

I like to claim that I am allergic to conspiracy theories and the paranoia that attends them. But these days I’m not so sure anymore. The noise in the system is getting pretty thick, and the Internet is the perfect system for paranoia because any website can appear to be dignified and therefore to speak with some kind of authority. You have to sort out the reality from the noise the best that you can on your own. (So maybe it’s not such a bad thing that this blog is so amateurish-looking, as many readers complain.)

The latest paranoid thread out there is that the US Military is waiting to commit a June assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and that the Bush administration has been manipulating the stock markets up and the oil markets down in an attempt to to lull the public deeper into its coma of cluelessness by making the surface of American life seem placid.
(23 May 2005)

Answering a Peak Oil Skeptic

JLK, Searching For The Truth (blog)
My friend Cheryl Rofer at WhirledView has recently posted an article giving her thoughts on Peak Oil theory, and I thought I would take the opportunity to address some of the issues that she raised.
(22 May 2005)

And so it begins . .

Heading Out, The Oil Drum (blog)
Yawn, a new day, and what with doing homework and all, we need some coffee and a sandwich to get our day started. And so we go back to our local sandwich shop, but there is a line at the door. And the proprietor is standing there, so you ask him if he is going to have enough coffee and sandwiches for everyone. “No problem,” he says “ I have a whole room of bread and fillings and coffee, just go on in and enjoy.” And you look through the window and, sure enough, there are new ovens, the shelves are full of different breads, and so you go in.

But the problem is that there are only two people behind the counter, and although they are very nice, they can only serve so fast, and so the line grows longer, and you wait and wait. It sounds familiar, right, the number of times you have been in a restaurant and they have not had enough help. Well, in some ways it is the same way with the current oil problem. There is plentiful oil under the sands and seas of the Middle East, but it has to be served up first.
(22 May 2005)

OPEC pumping at full capacity

TEHRAN (Reuters) – OPEC is pumping at full capacity, Iran’s oil minister said on Saturday but added that any move by the cartel to legitimise its over-production would not affect the market.

“OPEC members are supplying world markets with their utmost capacity,” Bijan Zanganeh was quoted as saying on the oil ministry Web site.
(22 May 2005)

Renewable Energy Projects expected to spend $13 billion

OilOnline “The Original Online Source for the Oil Industry”
Over 2,300 wind turbines are forecast to be installed offshore over the next five years at a cost of $13 billion, according to energy analysts Douglas-Westwood Limited. Speaking at the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce Renewable Energy Business Breakfast today, John Westwood stated his firm’s belief that offshore renewable energy could form an important part of the energy mix for the UK and other countries.

“The rise in both oil and gas prices that we have experienced over the past three years caused by booming demand from China and decline of non-OPEC production has focussed attention on the fragility of the supply and demand balance” said Westwood.

Forecasts produced in ‘The World Offshore Oil & Gas Report’ show that European oil production is now going into decline and that gas production is close to its peak. Increasing volumes of oil and gas will have to be imported from Russia and the Middle East at a very high cost to meet future demand.
(23 May 2005)

Energy-related News

Bolivia Epitomizes Fight for Natural Resources

Juan Forero, NY Times
LA PAZ, Bolivia, May 22 – The struggle over globalization and who controls natural resources is being waged across Latin America, but the battle lines are no sharper anywhere than here in Bolivia, where a potent confederation of protesters plans a march on Monday to demand more state control of energy resources.

Political analysts say the march – combined with a work stoppage and an Indian-style town hall meeting in a La Paz plaza – could further weaken the already debilitated government of President Carlos Mesa. It was just such a protest over energy policy that forced President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada from office in October 2003.

Now, with Mr. Mesa politically incapacitated and Congress thoroughly discredited because it is seen as corrupt, protesters have become emboldened, with some calling for the outright expropriation of private gas installations operated by such energy giants as British Gas, Repsol-YPF of Spain and Petrobras of Brazil.

Such demands have been gathering force, and they underscore the increasingly deep divisions in this Andean country, which despite its isolation has been at the forefront of a powerful backlash against market overhaul in Latin America.
(23 May 2005)

New Uprising In Bolivia

Federico Fuentes, Green Left Weekly via Znet
In 1967, Che Guevara died at the hands of CIA-backed Bolivian soldiers while attempting to lead a guerrilla struggle in Bolivia. In the small town where his body was uncovered 30 years later, graffiti is scrawled declaring: “Che: Alive as they never wanted you to be.”

Almost four decades after Che’s murder, Bolivia’s poor and indigenous masses are keeping his revolutionary legacy very much alive as they fight to secure their country’s resources and future.

Left with no more cards to play, on May 17, Bolivian President Carlos Mesa succumbed to passing the country’s controversial new gas bill. As the country enters into a new pre-insurrectional stage — with many of Bolivia’s poor once again hitting the streets, clamouring for the nationalisation of gas — many believe it will be game over for Mesa.

At the heart of the controversy surrounding the new bill is who should control Bolivia’s gas reserves — the second largest in South America.
(23 May 2005)
Ed: The article is also available through Znet.

Dirty Secret: Coal Plants Could Be Much Cleaner

Kenneth J. Stier, NY Times
ALMOST a decade ago, Tampa Electric opened an innovative power plant that turned coal, the most abundant but the dirtiest fossil fuel, into a relatively clean gas, which it burns to generate electricity. Not only did the plant emit significantly less pollution than a conventional coal-fired power plant, but it was also 10 percent more efficient.

Hazel R. O’Leary, the secretary of energy at the time, went to the plant, situated between Tampa and Orlando, and praised it for ushering in a “new era for clean energy from coal.” Federal officials still refer to the plant’s “integrated gasification combined cycle” process as a “core technology” for the future, especially because of its ability – eventually – to all but eliminate the greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

Since that plant opened, however, not a single similar plant has been built in the United States. Abundant supplies of natural gas – a bit cleaner and, until recently, a lot cheaper – stood in the way.

But even now, with gas prices following oil prices into the stratosphere and power companies turning back to coal, most new plants – about nine out of 10 on the drawing board – will not use integrated gasification combined-cycle technology.

The reason is fairly simple. A plant with the low-pollution, high-efficiency technology demonstrated at the Tampa Electric plant is about 20 percent more expensive to build than a conventional plant that burns pulverized coal
(22 May 2005)

Canadian oil showdown

Robert Collier, SF Chronicle
Frozen pipeline: Tribe’s success at blocking natural gas delivery system threatens development of oil-sands mines

Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories — This town on a bend in the Mackenzie River has a general store and little else besides endless forests and distant blue mountains. Not an oil derrick is to be seen. But its angry Native tribe is standing in the way of what could be the biggest energy boom in North America’s history.

The tribe, the Deh Cho First Nation, is blocking an 800-mile pipeline that would pass through its lands carrying natural gas from the Arctic Ocean to the booming oil-sands mines of Alberta. The tribe says the money and development brought by the pipeline could destroy its culture while leaving little lasting economic benefit.

“We have lived in these lands since time immemorial,” said the Deh Cho grand chief, Herb Norwegian. “We are the rightful owners, and this pipeline should not be pushed in against our will.”

The Deh Cho anti-pipeline stance is spreading through Native tribes in northwest Canada, putting at risk the development of Arctic natural gas in both Canada and Alaska as well as expansion of Canada’s oil sands, which are widely considered the most promising source of foreign oil for the United States in the coming decades
(23 May 2005)
Ed: Latest installment in a series on “Oil’s Dirty Future,” which began Sunday in the SF Chronicle.

The Courage to Develop Clean Energy

Jeffrey Immelt and Jonathan Lash, Washington Post
…For a nation such as ours — which has always seized new opportunities, created new markets and developed new technologies — our failure to close the deal on clean power is as puzzling as it is nonpartisan. The lack of a consistent energy policy has, for more than a decade, been a central part of the problem, as we have failed to fully execute the breakthrough blueprints that exist in wind, solar, clean coal, nuclear power and other resources. The result is that we have ceded leadership to Europe and China, which have hurtled ahead, improved their economies and strengthened their national security. If necessity is the mother of invention, procrastination is its enemy. On such a critical global policy issue, America must lead.

We believe that government can restore its leadership position by moving beyond the gridlock on energy and environmental policy. We need a policy that commits to market-based approaches that can drive environmental improvement. One that thinks outside the barrel — and promotes diverse energy sources that can help break the shackles of oil dependence. One that frames energy and environmental practices as essential, national core competencies — the same way that vibrant technology policies underpinned the stunning IT innovations of the 1980s and ’90s while continuing to fuel their growth.
Jeffrey Immelt is chairman and chief executive of General Electric Co. Jonathan Lash is president of the World Resources Institute.
(21 May 2005)

Solutions and Sustainability

Time is Ripe for Urban Agriculture

Neal Pierce, Washington Post Writers Group via Seattle Times
Is America ready for a metropolitan agriculture policy? Is the time ripe to take some of the billions in subsidies now flowing to big commodity-crop operators and focus instead on sustainable farm production in and around the citistate regions where 80 percent of us live?

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and the man who founded Congress’ Livability Caucus, argues that with half of federal farm subsidies currently “flowing to six states to produce 13 commodities that in the main we don’t need, like corn, wheat, cotton, and rice,” there’s a dramatically superior alternative.

We should, says Blumenauer, “use that money to build sustainable agriculture, create a farmer’s market in every community, help farmers protect our land and water, preserve our viewsheds, foster land banks and control erosion.”

Historically, he argues, our metropolitan regions weren’t just centers of commerce but areas of fertile fields, often in lush river valleys. Even today, they have some of America’s best land for sustainable agriculture. “With small diversions from the agriculture bill,” argues Blumenauer, “we could provide grants for communities to develop year-round farmers’ markets” and help local producers provide fresh vegetables and fruits, high-quality cheeses, honeys, nuts and more.
(23 May 2005)
Ed: The article is also available at Common Dreams and the Portland Oregonian

The Cascade Agenda

Gene Duvernoy and Charles Bingham, Seattle Times
The region faces two futures.

In one, unmanaged growth, sprawl, and loss of green and open space dominate the landscape. The other is of streams, beaches and estuaries that have been restored and are accessible to all; working farms, orchards and forests that have been conserved, with owners fairly compensated for taking care of them; and an array of attractive housing choices, including lively urban villages, with jobs, stores and spectacular parks and trails within easy reach.

How do we get to that desired future? First, we must rediscover what we knew so well when we brought the 1962 World’s Fair here and created the Forward Thrust legacy of civic development — the simple truth that this region succeeds when it joins together. If we separately worry about housing, the economy and the environment as if they were antagonistic, we will assure our children a dismal future. What we most need to conserve is not physical ground, but our common ground.

More than a year ago, representatives from 50 organizations — as diverse as builders, Fortune 500 company executives, civic and governmental leaders, conservationists and neighborhood activists — started to work together to capture that common ground. The Cascade Agenda is the result, a 100-year plan unveiled late last week. The agenda is a common vision for a future of conserved landscapes and vibrant towns; it lays out a series of pragmatic, marketplace strategies for the region to consider in order to make this vision a reality.
(22 May 2005)

Olmsted’s Vision: Urban life that’s green
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Fulfilling a dream requires maintaining a vision. That will be especially challenging for a plan that looks 100 years ahead, encompasses more than 1 million acres and hopes to preserve the Puget Sound region’s environmental quality of life for future generations.

The new “Cascade Agenda” plan hopes to protect giant green swaths of land in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kittitas counties. If the Cascade Land Conservancy can carry though its agenda, 1.3 million acres of forest, farms and parks will be saved for the children and grandchildren of today’s generations.

It’s a huge undertaking. Even so, there are reasons for optimism, beginning with the history that launched the 100-year plan.
(22 May 2005)

Bigger than anything, a 100-year quest

James Vesely, Seattle Times
At first, the staggering numbers of the Cascade Land Conservancy’s plan make its vision so big and so distant, the image becomes fuzzy with time and calculations: a 100-year telescope aimed at four counties east of Puget Sound; $7 billion in land acquisitions and other costs; a monumental 1.26 million acres of forestland set aside for logging, farms and recreation.

This is a very big deal. It is not about the hand of government. Instead, it is a separate, parallel track through the forest that aspires to a vision larger than any other in the United States.
(22 May 2005)

Puget Sound 2105
Seattle Times
Perhaps the very audacity of the Cascade Agenda is the secret of its appeal and the predictor of its success.

Look out 100 years and conserve the land, water supplies and vistas that make Puget Sound special in 2005. The Cascade Land Conservancy unveiled a plan last week that proposes working with business, government and the environmental community to shelter 1.26 million acres for the future in King, Kittitas, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

As in past arrangements crafted by the conservancy, the goal is to use market-based incentives to secure its green goals. That means buying land or development rights from willing sellers. That also means keeping forest and agricultural lands in production.
(22 May 2005)