Peak oil - Apr 6
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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage
Historian Ronald Doel on M. King Hubbert (AUDIO)
David Room, Global Public Media
Associate Professor Ronald Doel specializes in the history of the earth and environmental sciences in the twentieth century at Oregon State University. In this conversation with GPM's David Room, Doel talks in depth about M. King Hubbert, drawing from the 30+ hours he spent interviewing renowned petroleum geologist in the 1980's
(6 March 2006, but just posted)
Security: power to the people
John Robb, Fast Company
The myth of American omnipotence fell in the Iraqi desert, laid low by an agile new enemy. We have a chance now to rethink the systems that protected us in the past. It's one we cannot miss.
The next decade holds mind-bending promise for American business. Globalization is prying open vast new markets. Technology is plowing ahead, fueling--and transforming--entire industries, creating services we never thought possible. Clever people worldwide are capitalizing every which way. But because globalization and technology are morally neutral forces, they can also drive change of a different sort. We saw this very clearly on September 11 and are seeing it now in Iraq and in conflicts around the world. In short, despite the aura of limitless possibility, our lives are evolving in ways we can control only if we recognize the new landscape. It's time to take an unblinking look.
...The early examples of systems disruption in Iraq and elsewhere are ominous. If these techniques are even lightly applied to the fragile electrical and oil-gas systems in Russia, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere in the target-rich West, we could see a rapid onset of economic and political chaos unmatched since the advent of blitzkrieg. (India's January arrest of militants with explosives in Hyderabad suggests that the country's high-tech industry could be a new target.) It's even worse when we consider the asymmetry of the economics involved: One small attack on an oil pipeline in southeast Iraq, conducted for an estimated $2,000, cost the Iraqi government more than $500 million in lost oil revenues. That is a return on investment of 25,000,000%.
... By 2016 and beyond, real long-term solutions will emerge. Cities, most acutely affected by the new disruptions, will move fastest to become self-reliant, drawing from a wellspring of new ideas the market will put forward. These will range from building-based solar systems from firms such as Energy Innovations to privatized disaster and counterterrorist responses. We will also see the emergence of packaged software that combines real-time information (the status of first-responder units and facilities) with interactive content (information from citizens) and rich sources of data (satellite maps). Corporate communications monopolies will crumble as cities build their own emergency wireless networks using simple products from companies such as Proxim.
By 2016, we may see the trials of the previous decade as progress in disguise. The grassroots security effort will do more than just insulate our gas lines and high schools. It will also spur positive social change: So-called green systems will quickly shed their tree-hugger status and be seen as vital components of our economic and personal security. Even those civilian police auxiliaries could turn out to be a good thing in the long run: Their proliferation--and the technology they'll adopt--will lead to major reductions in crime.
John Robb was a mission commander for a "black" counterterrorism unit that worked with Delta Force and Seal Team 6 before becoming the first Internet analyst at Forrester Research and a key architect in the rise of Web logs and RSS. He is writing a book on the logic of terrorism.
Recommended by Prof. Goose at The Oil Drum, who heard about it from Matt Savinar.
Powering down in rural Alaska: The new dark ages
Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News
Rationing electricity becomes common in the Bush as fuel costs soar
When a planeload of diesel fuel touched down in the far-flung Interior village of Venetie on Friday, it meant the end, for now, to a string of dark nights and long days without electricity.
The village electric company, unable to afford the diesel fuel that powers the community, stretched supplies this winter by rationing power to homes and businesses. To save fuel in February, electricity was shut off completely some evenings and during the days on weekends.
For Danny Sam, the power clicked on in time to watch the NCAA basketball tournament Saturday afternoon. He curled up in front of the TV with his girlfriend and a bag of popcorn to soak in March Madness.
The high price of diesel fuel this winter has hit village Alaska hard, said First Chief Eddie Frank. In the Gwich'in village of Venetie, population 203, bulk purchases of fuel cost $3.21 a gallon.
To make matters worse, Venetie Village Electric is short on money because many residents can't, or won't, pay their bills, he said. Cash-strapped village-government facilities also can't pay, he said.
Power in Venetie costs 51 cents a kilowatt hour, more than five times what Anchorage residents pay.
"It's expensive," he said.
Venetie isn't alone. Villages around Alaska, faced with small customer bases and soaring costs, are struggling to keep the lights on. In some areas, diesel fuel prices have nearly doubled in two years, and some villages are paying more than $6 a gallon, said Mike Harper with the Alaska Energy Authority, the state agency that, among other things, tries to reduce electricity costs in the Bush.
(4 April 2006)
Kunstler on growth
James Howard Kunstler, Clusterf*ck Nation
Americans ought to regard the word "growth" with trepidation. When invoked by presidents and economists, it is meant to imply ideas like "more" or "better." It's a habit of thinking left over from the exuberant phase of the industrial age, when there was always more of everything to get. Nowadays, though, as we enter terminal years of cheap energy, the word "growth" invokes a new set ideas.
For instance, "impossible." With the price of oil edging toward $70-a-barrel now, and likely to flirt with $100 by the end of the year, the effect will be higher costs for virtually all products and services, and tremendous stress on every socioeconomic organism from the family to government at all levels to the Ford Motor Car Corporation. The only "growth" we might expect under these conditions is the growth in our exertions to stay where we are, and the truth is that many of the weak will simply fall behind.
Another idea that "growth" might invoke would be a fear of an unstoppable rising population competing for scarcer resources: incomes, energy, food, shelter. Surely this is one of the specters behind the illegal immigration issue, a dawning recognition that the American cornucopia is becoming an emptier basket, with fewer fruits, less energy, and not many gold nuggets left in it.
(3 April 2006)
Chilean commentary on global energy crisis (AUDIO, Spanish)
Ruperto Concha, Radio Bio-Bio (Chile)
Reader M writes: "there was a commentary on global energy crisis on radio Bio-Bio, in Spanish which you can listen to if you go to
and then click on "Audios especiales" where you'll find:
CRONICA 1 DE ABRIL DE 2006
(1 April 2006)
I could listen to the program using Internet Explorer, but not Firefox. -BA
The New World Oil Order
Big Gav, Peak Energy (Australia)
An especially rich collection of energy links today: Chavez, Pat Robertson, and more.
(5 April 2006)