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Peak oil – the South will rise again

Erik Curren, Augusta Free Press
But will the best or the worst of Dixie win out?
…Perhaps the best-known prophet of peak-oil doom is James Howard Kunstler, who predicts that America will suffer decades of economic hardship and political unrest after peak oil hits. In his 2005 book The Long Emergency, Kunstler writes that “it would be reasonable to wonder whether the United States will continue to exist as a unified entity, and what kind of strife the Long Emergency could ignite region by region.”

Bye bye, U.S.A. Hello, C.S.A.?

Kunstler, who has chosen to ride out the Long Emergency in Upstate New York, does not think the South will fare well. Here’s his scenario … Well, that’s the view from New York State.

It’s hard to argue that global warming won’t hit the South harder than New England or New York. And unless we act to reduce fossil-fuel pollution fast, the Appalachians may be the only place south of the Mason-Dixon to retreat when coasts are devastated by Katrina-strength storms, and tidewater and piedmont lands are infested by mosquitoes bringing malaria and dengue fever.

Of course, we don’t have to see Kunstler’s vision as a literal prediction. Might it just be a rhetorical exercise, a provocation to shock us into preparing for peak oil (and, to a lesser extent, global warming)? Yet, if we want to play this scenario game, it seems fair to ask whether there might also be aspects of the South’s traditional culture that are more progressive than those that Kunstler finds.

Indeed, might the South, with its small-town and agrarian values, be better off in an energy-starved world where we have to make more of our stuff and grow more of our food close to home than many places in the North that have always relied heavily on trade and manufacturing?

While the twin evils of suburban sprawl and factory farming are indeed huge threats to a sustainable future, they have not yet entirely snuffed out the traditional Southern way of life that, in many aspects, remains a model for a re-localized society elsewhere.

Many communities still retain vibrant local economies. My own town, Staunton, has seen a renaissance of its downtown, with numerous shops and restaurants in walking distance from hundreds of well-preserved Victorian homes and Mary Baldwin College. A seasonal farmer’s market is increasingly popular as a source of local food from the Shenandoah Valley’s many remaining family farmers.
(27 Nov 2006)

Oil, Food, the U.S. Dollar, and the “Global” Drought

Gregory T. Jeffers, Mentatt
On November 7th, 2006, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its World Energy Outlook 2006. At a press conference announcing the new report, the agency’s Executive Director was quoted as follows:

“The key word is urgency,” IEA director Claude Mandil told a press conference in London following release of the study. “Urgency for immediate policies and measures to promote energy efficiency and facilitate technology development…

“On current trends, we are on course for an expensive and dirty energy system that will go from crisis to crisis. It can mean more supply disruptions, meteorological disasters or both. This energy future is not only unsustainable, but it is doomed to failure.

“Governments can either accept such a future, or they can decide to come together to change course.” – The Oil Drum, November 24, 2006

Now read that again. The IEA, a government agency, and by extension, a political organization that normally would temper its commentary resulting in mealy mouthed, useless BS, is resorting to words such as “crisis”, “doomed”, “failure” and “unsustainable” to describe the world’s energy delivery system.
(24 Nov 2006)

The Storm Perfected

James Howard Kunstler, Clusterf*ck Nation
Last week, I had one of those clarifying moments when the enormity of the American fiasco stirred my livers and lights again. I was riding in a car at sundown between St. Cloud and Minneapolis on I-94 through a fifty-mile-plus corridor of bargain shopping infrastructure on each side of the highway. The largest automobile dealerships I have ever seen lay across the edge of the prairie like so many UFO landing strips, with eerie forests of sodium-vapor lamps shining down on the inventory. The brightly colored signs of the national chain fried food parlors vied for supremacy of the horizon with the big box logos. The opposite lane was a blinding river of light as the cars plied north from the Twin Cities to these distant suburbs in the pre-Thanksgiving rush hour.

…This is really a tight spot. Wider war in the Middle East is hardly out of the question, with Iran and a broad array of jihadistas emboldened by America’s flounderings in Iraq. A year from now, perhaps, or less, we will lose our access to a substantial portion of the imported oil that we run all our stuff on. The sodium vapor lamps will flicker out. The last taco will be served. The US public will have to start paying attention and making other arrangements. I believe what Garrison Keilor says about the people in Minnesota. Scratch below the surface, you’ll find a thoughtful, practical mentality. I believe that when they can’t do anymore of what they’re doing now, they’ll turn around and do something else.
(27 Nov 2006)

Oil Shares Signal a Rebound; Pickens Predicts Record 2007 Price

Matthew Leising, Bloomberg
Oil stocks are signaling that crude prices may rebound to a record in 2007.

Shares of Nymex Holdings Inc, owner of the biggest energy exchange, have more than doubled since their Nov. 16 sale, the best performance for any initial public offering this year. The value of energy industry IPOs in 2006 is more than double that of last year, reaching $7.4 billion after KBR Inc., the builder of liquefied natural gas plants and refineries, raised $473 million Nov. 15.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil is likely to average $70 a barrel next year, according to Dallas hedge fund manager Boone Pickens. Economist Ed Morse at Lehman Brothers Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. securities firm, predicts $72. Either would top the average price for New York oil futures so far this year, $66.73 a barrel, and set a record.

“I keep thinking we’re right at the bottom on oil,” Pickens, who has correctly predicted rising energy prices for the past three years, said in a Nov. 22 interview. “I don’t see why the run is over if the global economy continues to grow.”

Earnings from the world’s largest oil companies will likely reach an all-time high this year because crude prices so far are about $10 a barrel above the 2005 average of $56.70. Revenue at Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil Corp. totaled $777 billion last year, more than the economies of Mexico, India or Russia.
(27 Nov 2006)
Just posted by Associated Press: Oilman: U.S. Must Find Alternative Fuel Sources:

Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens told Little Rock business leaders Monday that the world has reached peak oil production and the United States, in particular, needs to find alternative sources of fuel.


Examining CERA’s powers of prediction
The architecture of UK offshore oil production in relation to future production models

Euan Mearns, The Oil Drum: Europe
In the wake of last week’s $1000 attempted debunking of the peak oil hypothesis by CERA, I felt it was time to examine CERA’s powers of prediction in relation to real world, deterministic data.

This article is going to be in two parts. This week I am going to look in detail at the architecture of UK oil production since 1975 and on this basis provide a combined top down and bottom up forecast for UK oil production to 2012, incorporating future production data kindly provided by Rembrandt Koppelaar. Next week I will look at other production models produced by CERA (pdf), Kemp, Koppelaar and the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in relation to my own forecast produced here which is called Mearns2.
(26 Nov 2006)