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Energy Headlines - May 31, 2005

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Peak Oil

About 200 news organizations run Peak Oil article

Matt Crenson, Associated Press
[About 200 news sites published this summary of Peak Oil this weekend. The list includes Forbes, Newsday (NY), NY Times, SF Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, LA Times, ABC News, CBS News -- all the biggies. This is a major development in getting the Peak Oil story out.]
(31 May 2005)


All of this press coverage doesn't mean all that much
(or, the tragedy of the commons revisited...)

Professor Goose, The Oil Drum
All of this MSM coverage of "peak oil" we've seen over the past couple of days should not make us feel better, even though the Peak Oil series over in Kevin Drum's world is pretty good.

Sure, information is getting out there...and that IS a good thing. But, it's been out there for a while for those who want to hear about it or are open to the ideas therein.

So, it seems to me that, if anything, this should awaken this generation of the peak oil community to the fact that now, we have to start thinking about the inevitable next phase: policymaking and political involvement.
(31 May 2005)


Flying Talking Donkey is back with more PO news

Fatheroffour, Flying Talking Donkey
The new format of the Flying Talking Donkey site has oodles of links and headlines on Oil, Best of Blogosphere, Economy, Environment, Alternate Energy, etc. An RSS feed is available.
(31 May 2005)


An interview with Matt Savinar

Matt Savinar and David Room, Global Public Media
Matt Savinar, administrator of lifeaftertheoilcrash.com and author of "The Oil Age is Over", speaks with Dave Room of Global Public Media about the ramifications of energy depletion on politics, the economy and future social cohesion
(23 May 2005)


You call this tough? Think '70s
With OPEC embargo, rationing, long lines were order of the day

San Diego Union-Tribune
At the North Park Service Center in San Diego, Joe Balistrieri hates how much he has had to raise the price of gasoline the past year.

"I feel sorry for the customers," said Balistrieri, 79, who has been selling gas in San Diego for 50 years. "I don't know how some of them cope with these price rises, especially when they have to buy food and rent. This has been the worst I've seen in a long time."

But there have been worse years. In the 1970s, gasoline was rationed so tightly that drivers had to queue up in long lines, and stations had only enough fuel to stay open a few hours a day.
(29 May 2005)


Energy-related News

Japanese dressing down to battle warming
Short sleeves, no ties urged as air conditioners turned up

Associated Press via MSNBC
TOKYO - Japan’s bureaucratic rank and file march in dark jackets and ties to government offices every day, sweating their way through the country’s sticky, sweltering summers.

Starting Wednesday, they’ll be sweating a little less.

In a nationwide campaign to save energy by cutting down on air-conditioning, the government has asked public workers to leave their ties and jackets home for the summer.
(31 May 2005)


Global Airline Industry Losses May Widen on Oil Cost

Susanna Ray, Bloomberg
Global airline industry losses will widen this year to a record $6 billion as fuel bills surge, forcing carriers to do more to cut costs, the International Air Transport Association said.

Airline fuel bills may rise 31 percent to $83 billion in 2005, based on an average price of $47 a barrel for Brent crude oil, IATA Director-General Giovanni Bisignani told a conference today in Tokyo.Losses would be 25 percent more than last year.
Ed: Twilight for the airline industry?
(30 May 2005)


Refining Problems Swell Oil Prices

Oxford Analytica / Forbes
The [oil] industry is faced with the challenge of increasing gasoline supplies and supplies of lower sulphur products. Their failure to do so contributes to higher prices. The major problem with the refining industry is its need to upgrading capacity--upgrading oil from sour to sweeter crudes--rather than primary distillation capacity--the first process in refining, whereby a barrel of crude is "cooked" to split it into the various products.

The supply problem is further aggravated by the fact that most governments around the world are tightening sulphur specifications on diesel. Therefore, costly desulphurization equipment is required to produce the lower sulphur products.

The only other way to increase gasoline supplies and supplies of lower sulphur products, absent investment in upgrading and desulphurization, is for refiners to use lighter and sweeter crude. However, the increases in crude oil production from OPEC seen over the last year are of heavy, sour crudes. Therefore, the price of light, sweet crudes, when compared with sour crudes, has risen due to shortages in upgrading capacity.
(30 May 2005)


Brazil plans to build seven nuclear power plants

Merco Press
Brazil has plans to build seven nuclear power plants reported Sunday the Sao Paulo press quoting government officials. The country currently has two nuclear power plants in operation and the major expansion is contemplated under the new Brazilian Nuclear Program (PNB), which the government is reviewing.

President Lula da Silva officials told newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo that the government considers the new nuclear plants essential to expanding Brazil's role as a player on the world stage and bolstering its bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
(30 May 2005)


Nicaragua leader declares energy emergency

Associated Press via NC News & Observer
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) - President Enrique Bolanos issued an emergency decree Monday, allowing him to raise electric prices as demanded by producers. The decree announcing the state of emergency was read over state radio. The government said the measure was needed "to assure economic stability and flows of foreign aid."

Bolanos said he hoped to ensure that Nicaragua "does not return to the dark night," a barbed reference to the frequent power outages of the 1980s, when the left-wing Sandinista government was in power.

Bolanos took the unusually dramatic move in response to energy producers who have been calling for rate increases to offset their rising costs. His government had been unable to meet those demands because the official commission that sets the prices has no director and therefore cannot act officially.
(31 May 2005)


Oil on Ice

Dave Roberts, Grist
...Oil on Ice is a handsome film, impeccably made. Virtually every frame contains an image of beauty: One goal at which it unquestionably succeeds is to refute the obscene contention by certain Alaska politicians (who shall remain unnamed) that the Refuge is nothing but a snow-seared wasteland. It also sparks a strangely wistful sense of wonder that the U.S. still contains an untouched swath of territory, as one commentator puts it, "just for the animals." That is, when you think about it, quite a remarkable thing in this day and age. Once surrendered, it can never be recovered.

The film is a slim 40 minutes long, and it attempts to cover a great deal of territory. It indicts the oil industry for the damage done elsewhere in Alaska, particularly the Exxon-Valdez spill; it visits indigenous Alaskan communities and illustrates their fragile relationship to wildlife migratory and spawning patterns that could be warped by new oil development; it celebrates the variety of wildlife that exists year-round in the Refuge, and in particular the dazzling explosion of life that descends on the North Shore during the four-month warm season; and it investigates the politics of oil, showing how powerful oil service companies and Alaskan politicians are driving the debate, obscuring the fact that changes in auto technology could preserve far more oil than could be pulled from the Refuge
(30 May 2005)


Solutions and Sustainability

Postcards from the Global Food System #1

Zaid, Worldchanging
...
The story of the modern global food system is the story of unintended consequences. It’s the story of a causal logic run amok. It’s the familiar story of how we’re all intimately connected without quite grasping just how intimately. It’s the deeply disturbing story of a system characterized by historic injustice that continues to produce injustice today. It’s a story that goes to the throbbing, bleeding heart of sustainability. Finally, it’s the worldchanging story of what we do when faced with the reality of such a narrative. It can, without being hyperbolic, be called the mother of all systemic problems.

In the coming weeks I'll be sending worldchanging a number of "postcards" from my on-going journey through the global food system.
(26 Feb 2005)
Ed: Since posting a link to part 1 of this long analysis of agriculture, we found the other two parts.

Postcards from the Global Food System #2
The Road From Green Revolution to Fatal Harvest

Zaid, Worldchanging
There are so many criticisms around the current global food system that for a while I started wondering if in fact it had already collapsed and I was studying a post-apocalyptic food system.
(7 Mar 2005)


Postcards from the Global Food System #3
Southern Views of Northern Logic

Zaid, Worldchanging
We’ve all heard the story of the little girl who didn’t know that her hamburgers came from the nice cows in the field. My own version of this story occurred in our backyard in Bombay. It couldn’t have been more than a few months after we had emigrated from London. I was seven.

It was Eid-ul-Adha, a Muslim festival where an animal is ritually slaughtered to mark the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. In London you simply paid the butcher to do the job for you, nice and clean. In Bombay it seemed a little different. You go and buy the animal and tether it in your yard (in our case of our nice modern Bombay beach house). On Eid the butcher comes to your house to sort it all out right there and then.

I watched the slaughter from a safe distance, more than a little revolted at the visceral mess, not to mention the loss of my pet goat. After it had all been cleaned up I was passing by the butcher, with what was probably a dark look on my face. He looked up at me, grinned, threw something and yelled “catch!”. I caught the proffered object, and opened my fist…to discover…an eyeball.
(31 March 2005)


The Toyota Prius and Climate Change:
Good Technology versus the Misuse of Science
(commentary)
Peter H. Gleick, The Pacific Institute, ENN
I guess it was inevitable. I am an environmental scientist. I live in Berkeley, California. I work, eat, and breathe environmental issues daily. I know that global warming is a serious problem - I’ve been working on the science and policy of it for more than two decades. It was therefore fated that my family would buy a Prius - the tremendously popular hybrid gas-electric car from Toyota. And while I expected that buying it would make me feel like I was taking another personal step toward helping address the serious problem of global warming, I was not prepared for some of the other effects it would have on me.
...
We won’t turn the tide on a problem as massive as climate change overnight. And hybrids are just part of the solution - designing walkable communities, investing in public transportation, and developing alternative fuels must also be part of the mix. But the success of the Prius shows that cost-effective and, yes, even desirable solutions to climate change are out there. And the icing on the cake? It’s fun to drive.
(31 May 2005)


Give peace a chance

John Tierney, NY Times (op-ed)
You would never guess it from the news, but we're living in a peculiarly tranquil world. The new edition of "Peace and Conflict," a biennial global survey being published next week by the University of Maryland, shows that the number and intensity of wars and armed conflicts have fallen once again, continuing a steady 15-year decline that has halved the amount of organized violence around the world.
(28 May 2005)
Ed: Less war in the world? Maybe so, but Gregg Easterbrook, the quoted author, has a history of false optimism based on contorted statistics. Hope he's right on this one though.


Leverage Points:
Places to Interview in a System
(PDF)
Donella H. Meadows
Folks who do system analysis have a great belief in "leverage points." These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small change in one thing can cause big changes in everything.
(1999)
Ed: Want to do change the world? First read this important essay by the late Donella Meadows, a systems analyst and one of the authors of "The Limits to Growth."


Growing fly maggots as poultry feed

Harvey Ussery, RunningOnEmpty2
As energy prices continue upward, it will become more expensive for poultry owners to feed their flocks with feeds purchased from outside. It is easy to grow fly maggots as a feed component the homestead can produce from its own resources. The poultry feed (maggots) thus produced are of a quality you cannot hope to match with anything purchased elsewhere--and they're free! The process of growing and feeding fly larvae can be efficient and not at all unpleasant.
Ed: this article contains detailed observations of a small scale maggot breeding experiment. You need to subscribe to the RunningOnEmpty2 e-list to read the full article (which is free). The list often contains down-to-Earth type postings like this, relating to greater self sufficiency in a Peak Oil context. - AF

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