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Other energy - May 25

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Ecstasy and paralysis: Getting used to life without electricity
Joachim Buwembo, The East African
In half or more of Uganda's local languages, electricity is called masanyalaze. Now, the same word is used to mean paralysis and, contradictorily, extreme ecstasy.

We would need a lingual expert to tell us whether the electricity from batteries, generators and hydro-turbines was named after these physical conditions of the body, or our ancestors simply knew about electricity before modern technology came with the colonialists. We cannot rule out the possibility that those Ugandan folks knew a thing or two about electricity since they were aware of it in various forms.

They had glowworms, suffered shocks from electric fish and, of course, they were aware of nervous impulses in their bodies. But now that shortage of electricity is the subject on everyone's lips, one wonders what our forefathers of the early 20th century had in mind when they referred to stored electricity in batteries, and later hydro-electric power, as masanyalaze. Were they thinking of paralysis or ecstasy?
(22 Mar 2006)

Energy Demand May Impact Feed Industry
Illinois Farm Bureau
The greatest fear for livestock producers is that energy prices remain high in coming years, and then a short corn crop occurs in 2007 or 2008, resulting in the need to drastically ration corn usage for feed, says a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"The corn surplus will be gone with the 2006 crop, as expected total corn use may exceed production by about one billion bushels," says Chris Hurt. "Thus, the supply crunch year appears to be the 2007-08 marketing year.

"Of course, a weather-related small crop this summer could still bring the supply crunch and much higher corn prices this summer."

Hurt's comments came as he examined the relationship between agriculture and the energy industry. Agriculture, he noted, will be asked to contribute to the energy industry in a much larger way in coming years.
(22 Mar 2006)
According to Richard Manning:

Eighty percent of the grain the United States produces goes to livestock. Seventy-eight percent of all of our beef comes from feed lots, where the cattle eat grain, mostly corn and wheat. So do most of our hogs and chickens. The cattle spend their adult lives packed shoulder to shoulder in a space not much bigger than their bodies, up to their knees in shit, being stuffed with grain and a constant stream of antibiotics to prevent the disease this sort of confinement invariably engenders. The manure is rich in nitrogen and once provided a farm's fertilizer. The feedlots, however, are now far removed from farm fields, so it is simply not "efficient" to haul it to cornfields. It is waste. It exhales methane, a global-warming gas. It pollutes streams. It takes thirty-five calories of fossil fuel to make a calorie of beef this way; sixty-eight to make one calorie of pork.

The end of feedlots and corn fed livestock can only be welcomed. -AF

Money Key Driver in Changing Consumer Attitudes to Energy
LogicaCMG , PRNewswire
New research from LogicaCMG reveals that while European consumers are environmentally conscious, financial cost is even more important when it comes to managing energy consumption. The study shows that the threat of higher energy prices is the most important factor influencing people in taking steps to reduce the amount of energy they consume at home. Overall, a combination of financial costs, environmental concerns and better information - enabled by the right technology - would lead to a change in energy consumer behaviour.
(23 Mar 2006)


Petrol prices hit car sales

John Garnaut and Jordan Baker, Sydney Morning Herald
RECORD petrol prices are forcing Sydney motorists to drive less, buy fewer cars and switch away from four-wheel-drive vehicles.

New figures also show traffic volumes appear to have fallen, raising questions about the profitability of privately owned motorways.

...Bureau of Statistics figures show NSW 4WD sales have slipped 21 per cent since February last year and car sales peaked early last year but have since dropped to the levels of two years ago. National 4WD sales slipped for four consecutive months for the first time since records began in 1994.

"Drivers have clearly altered their behaviour, especially in NSW," said Craig James, an economist at CommSec. His counterpart at ABN Amro, Kieran Davies, said motorists were holding their petrol budget constant despite higher prices - thus consuming less. A taxi driver, Bashi Barry, said: "In 10 years of driving cabs I've never seen traffic this quiet outside of holiday times."
(23 May 2006)


Consumer Reports: Gas prices having big impact
More than a third want to switch to a more fuel efficient car, according to survey

CNN Money
NEW YORK - More than a third of American drivers say they are considering getting rid of their current vehicle in favor of something more fuel efficient, according to a national survey by Consumer Reports magazine.

Of those who say they might replace their current vehicle, half say they are considering a gas-electric hybrid vehicle, according to the survey. Currently, hybrid vehicles represent just one percent of the new car market.

"High gas prices are not just an inconvenience anymore," said Robert Gentile, director of Consumer Reports' Auto Price Services. "They are forcing people to reconsider what and how they drive, even the way they live their lives."
(24 May 2006)

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