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Energy Headlines - May 30, 2005

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Peak Oil

Kunstler: Pipeline-istan

James Howard Kunstler, Clusterf*ck Nation
It's a measure of our country's desperation that many hopes among US government officials are pinned to the just-completed 1000-mile oil pipeline between Baku on the Caspian Sea and the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. The idea is to get oil from Kazakhstan on the far eastern side of the Caspian sea through several other former Soviet states, bypassing a shorter, older route through the Black Sea, and creating an alternative to the ongoing horror show of the Persian Gulf.

The main problem is the idea that the American economy, and the easy-motoring lifestyle that holds it hostage, will now depend on a 42-inch wide oil pipe running through nations fraught with Muslim-Christian conflict on top of post-Soviet gangster politics.
(30 May 2005)

Infiltrating Bilderberg 2005
Daniel Estulin, Counterpunch
...An American Bilderberger expressed concern over the sky-rocketing price of oil. One oil industry insider at the meeting remarked that growth is not possible without energy and that according to all indicators, world's energy supply is coming to an end much faster than the world leaders have anticipated. According to sources, Bilderbergers estimate the extractable world's oil supply to be at a maximum of 35 years under current economic development and population. However, one of the representatives of an oil cartel remarked that we must factor into the equation, both the population explosion and economic growth and demand for oil in China and India. Under the revised conditions, there is apparently only enough oil to last for 20 years. No oil spells the end of the world's financial system. So much has already been acknowledged by The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, two periodicals who are regularly present at the annual Bilderberg conference.

Conclusion: Expect a severe downturn in the world's economy over the next two years as Bilderbergers try to safeguard the remaining oil supply by taking money out of people's hands. In a recession or, at worst, a depression, the population will be forced to dramatically cut down their spending habits, thus ensuring a longer supply of oil to the world's rich as they try to figure out what to do.
(27 May 2005)
Ed: This article has a paranoid edge (which the Bilderbergers are quite apt to inspire) - calls Richard Perle an Israeli spy for instance without even bothering to back it up, but some interesting quotes about energy. -AF
Also see an interview with author Daniel Estulin by radio journalist Alex Jones. The interview is of the conspiracy/paranoid genre: the show is broadcasting "from behind enemy lines in Central Texas". The interviewer talks of the "globalist plan for a new world order" and calls Peak Oil a fraud. Estulin calls environmentalism a Rockefeller-funded scam (acting through NGOs). For my money, this is not a source to be trusted. -BA


Is world’s gas gauge on empty?

Alex Rose, The Daily Times (Philadelphia)
Those complaining of exorbitant prices at gas pumps might never get relief, according to a new book hitting the shelves this month by James Howard Kunstler. Worse yet, those pumps may soon become grim relics of humanity’s "golden age," empty husks in a world devoid of oil and all it drives.

This is the future Kunstler tries to prepare his readers for in "The Long Emergency," a guide to "Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century."
(29 May 2005)
Ed: First of a three-part series.


Peak Oil...Part 2

Kevin Drum, Washington Monthly (Political Animal)
When we last left the subject of peak oil, ExxonMobil had conceded that the daily production rate of oil in non-OPEC countries will peak within a few years and then start an irreversible decline. I'm going to say more about that subject shortly, but before I do, I want to back up a bit and answer a basic question: Everyone agrees that there's plenty of oil still left in the ground, so why should production rates peak in the near future at all? What's up?

I'm a sucker for historical documents, so here's where it all started: in Figure 21 of "Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels," a paper delivered by Shell geologist M. King Hubbert in 1956.
(29 May 2005)
Ed: Kevin Drum is a blogger for the influential liberal journal, Washinton Monthly.


Our Petroleum Predicament

George Pazik, Fishing Facts (via the blog MOBJECTIVIST)
This post includes a long "Peak Oil" editorial published in a popular fishing magazine from the 1970's called Fishing Facts. I think it took a lot of guts for the publisher, George Pazik, to write something with an edge to it that ostensibly catered to a rather conservative audience. This first grabbed my eye as a teenager and because of my tunnel-vision for outdoors activities at the time, I can't say whether other popular magazines featured such pessimistic outlooks. Pazik had written and continued to write strong editorials on conservation and environmental pollution after this editorial. However, this was a kind of crowning achievement, and authorities such as Al Bartlett from U. of Colorado reference this piece. Compared to what he did almost 30 years ago, today's current publishers and media midgets do absolutely shameful work.
(November 1976)


Case hosts national energy seminar in Cleveland

John Funk, Plain Dealer
Energy - from coal and oil to nuclear and solar - will be the focus of a daylong seminar Thursday at Severance Hall on the Case Western Reserve University campus. The National Academy of Engineering's "Energy, a 21st Century Perspective" will spotlight the debate about the predicted end of cheap oil, efforts to switch to alternatives and the impact on the economy and climate.
(29 May 2005)
Ed: The conference is free but registration is required. For more information and registration, see http://www.energy05.org/.


Energy-related News

There's Democracy, and There's an Oil Pipeline

David E. Sanger, NY Times
WASHINGTON — Samuel Bodman, the new secretary of energy, led the United States delegation to Azerbaijan last week to celebrate a huge moment in America's effort to diversify its sources of oil: The opening of a pipeline that will carry Caspian oil to the West, on a route that avoids Russia and Iran.
(29 May 2005)


Road cuts deep into Brazil's Amazon
Settlers expect wealth, environmentalists disaster from paving

Alan Clendenning, Associated Press (via MSNBC)
In a controversial plan, Brazil’s government is preparing to let private companies embark on a $417 million paving project to turn BR163 into a modern two-lane toll highway stretching 1,100 miles, nearly the distance between Philadelphia and Miami. That would link Brazil’s most important soy-growing region with a deep-water Amazon River port.

Truck traffic will skyrocket as the country opens up a new export corridor for soybeans, Brazil’s most important crop. Trips that now take weeks during the six-month rainy season will be cut to a matter of hours.

The pavement is bound to boost migration and is expected to lead to deforestation, prompting warnings from environmentalists of possible ecological disaster.
(27 May 2005)


Bolivia's Gas Reserves Prove a Mixed Blessing

Monte Reel, Washington Post
BUENOS AIRES -- In theory, everyone agrees that Bolivia's huge natural gas reserves -- the second-largest of any country in South America -- should be a blessing for the continent's poorest nation.

But this past week, the fight over how to exploit the underground resource once again propelled protesters onto the streets of several cities, fueling rumors of a military coup and vexing political leaders in search of a peaceful solution.
(29 May 2005)


Greenpeace row over un-PC prizes

Patrick Barkham, The Guardian
Greenpeace's reputation for fighting climate change has been damaged by an embarrassing row over the charity's US arm offering exotic foreign holidays as prizes in a global warming competition.

Executives in Amsterdam and London are furious at the contradiction in Greenpeace USA's Project Thin Ice, which is raising awareness of the melting of the Arctic icecap by encouraging the public to compete to win fuel-guzzling trips to the Amazon rainforest, the Ecuadorian Andes and Papua New Guinea. A return flight from New York to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea would create tonnes of carbon dioxide.
(30 May 2005)


Wisconsin Power Plant Is Called A Setback for the Environment
Utility Denies That Technology It Plans to Use Is Outdated

Peter Slevin, Washington Post
RACINE, Wis. -- The tall towers of a coal-fired power plant on the shores of Lake Michigan represent a new front in a national struggle over energy technology and the environmental performance of expanding energy companies.

So far, in the view of environmental activists, water and air quality are being cheated. A Wisconsin energy company is battling environmentalists to double the size of the Oak Creek power station on Lake Michigan between Milwaukee and Chicago.

The battle here concerns a proposal to double the capacity of the Oak Creek power plant, located south of Milwaukee. Opponents say the new twin 600-megawatt generators would use unacceptably old technology, spilling excessive pollution into the air and disturbing aquatic life by sucking billions of gallons of lake water each week into its cooling pipes.

The Oak Creek project could have implications for dozens of future coal-powered plants across the country, according to advocates and legal analysts. If energy companies find they can use older, less expensive designs without government objection, critics say they will be less likely to invest in more healthful and environmentally friendly technology.
(29 May 2005)

US heating oil projected to increase by 30% next year
Robin Palmer, Times Argus (Vermont)
Heating oil costs are expected to rise more than 30 percent this year, from about $1.60 a gallon to $2.10 for pre-buy prices.

The price increase means more people will visit the Open Door Mission's soup kitchen as they give up buying food in order to pay for heat, said Sharon Russell, executive director of the Rutland mission. Russell says higher heating costs will also hike up rents and force the poor out of apartments and into the mission's shelter.
(29 May 2005)


Scientists link plastic food containers with breast cancer
James Meikle, The Guardian
A chemical widely used in food packaging may be a contributing factor to women developing breast cancer, scientists have suggested.

The study links the compound to the development of hormone sensitive tissue in mice and has prompted environmental campaigners to call for far tighter regulation of such chemicals.

Experiments at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts, have potentially worrying implications for human health since they suggest mammary glands of female mice grow in a way that makes them more likely to develop breast cancer and also to respond unusually to oestrogen, which fuels most breast cancer in humans.
(30 May 2005)
Ed: Most plastics are petrochemicals. Peak oil activist Jan Lundberg wrote an article on the subject: War on plastic - Rejecting the toxic plague .

Postcards From The Global Food System (#1)
Zaid, WorldChanging
Causality, according to Wittgenstein, is the ultimate superstition. While he probably wasn’t thinking about the global food system when he said that, he may well have been. The story of the modern global food system is the story of unintended consequences. It’s the story of a causal logic run amok.
(26 Feb 2005)
Ed: Analysis of modern industrial agriculture.


Solutions and Sustainability

Grass-burning power station on the way

Alok Jha, The Guardian
Britain's first major electricity plant to be fuelled by grass will begin construction later this year. The £6.5m power station in Staffordshire will be burn locally cultivated elephant grass and will be able to supply 2,000 homes with electricity.

Amanda Gray, director of Eccleshall Biomass, the company behind the power station, said the project was of major importance to rural industry in Staffordshire and offered another way to meet the UK's obligation to reduce carbon emissions, because burning the elephant grass will only release the carbon dioxide that the plants soaked up anyway while they were growing.
(30 May 2005)


State turned a vital corner on path to clean energy

K.C. Golden, Seattle Post-Intelligencer (guest columnist)
Washington's transition to a clean energy economy shifted into high gear this year with an impressive package of forward-looking legislation coming out of Olympia. Bipartisan majorities delivered clean cars, high-performance buildings, efficient equipment and solar energy incentives.

The timing couldn't be better. These clean energy policies will help us reduce the economic and military costs of oil imports, which are siphoning the strength out of our economy. Meanwhile, climate disruption -- caused by burning fossil fuels -- is melting our snowpack and threatening our food, energy and water supplies. Like most crippling addictions, our fossil fuel dependence is reaching an ugly dead end.
(29 May 2005)

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