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Peak Oil

Ruth Brandon: The price we pay for petrol (Comment)
The Independent (UK)
In 1956 M. King Hubbert, a research scientist with Shell, produced one of the world’s most notorious graphs: a bell-shaped curve describing unrestrained production of a finite resource.
We must be persuaded out of our cars, but this is extraordinarily difficult. Money, however, may finally be the key to reducing car use. I
(20 Apr, 2005)

Energy-related News

IMF urges oil data transparency
Twice in as many months, the International Monetary Fund has spoken out over the current oil price shock, and when the IMF issues reports, markets read them.

Although it says there is no need to panic, some of the conclusions in the two reports – Oil Market Developments and Issues and World Economic Report: Will the Oil Market Continue to be Tight? – make unnerving reading.

Especially for Opec countries who are called on to make radical changes.
(20 Apr, 2005)

Energy firms’ tax break bid is adding up
Conservative critics say costly subsidies uncalled-for amid skyrocketing prices

SF Chronicle
Washington — The growing price tag of tax breaks to oil, gas, nuclear, coal and other energy producers in a new House energy bill is raising concerns among White House officials and some conservatives, who say the costly subsidies aren’t needed at a time of sky-high energy prices.

Republican leaders had promised a slimmer version of the energy bill the House has passed the last few years to avoid worsening the federal deficit. But a new analysis by a watchdog group showed that lawmakers added $35 billion in the last three weeks since the bill was introduced — a total of $88.9 billion in subsidies to industry over 10 years in the bill.

Analysts said the extra spending was tacked on to win over wavering lawmakers or to placate parts of the energy industry. The House is scheduled to begin debating the bill today.
(20 Apr, 2005)

The Do-Nothing Energy Bill (
Energy Bill Includes $2 Billion Incentive for Gulf Drilling (NY Times)
Democrats blocking road to cheaper fuel (Chicago Sun-Times)

Crystals may be sunken energy treasure
My San Antonio
Far beneath the shifting waves of the earth’s oceans lie frozen crystals containing enough natural gas to meet the nation’s growing energy needs for decades — maybe even centuries.

It may sound far-fetched, but nations around the globe are racing to find and ultimately tap vast deposits of gas-bearing methane hydrate, an energy source that could dwarf the planet’s remaining accessible oil, coal and natural gas reserves.

Unfortunately, no one is sure how to accurately find large accumulations of crystals, or safely and economically withdraw the gas from the depths.

And some scientists are warning that a misstep in the pursuit of methane hydrate could lead to catastrophic consequences — ruining the ocean environment and speeding up global warming.

Those are unknowns that the crew of the research vessel Uncle John hope to help answer this month as they drill into crystal formations in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Texas and Louisiana coasts.
(20 Apr, 2005)

Solutions and Sustainability

India makes tracks for the train
The fast-growing country upgrades its rail services to meet travel demands, even as other infrastructure lags

Christian Science Monitor
BANGALORE, INDIA – Glinting glass high-rises. Condos with gyms and pools. People toting laptop bags and Blackberries.

Welcome to Bangalore, India’s version of Silicon Valley. In recent years, Western firms eager to outsource software development have been beating a path to the city’s tech park. But to get to this 21st- century hub, the easiest method remains India’s 19th-century train system.

The story is much the same around the rest of India. The country’s strong growth rate and sheer size has many grouping it with China as this century’s future superpowers. But India has so far not made the same massive infrastructure investments, especially in the area of transportation.

The one exception is the national railroad.
(20 Apr, 2005)

Food-community ties put on the front burner
The Times-Standard (N. Calif.)
Eat local.

That was the basic goal in a series of sessions Tuesday where farmers met with produce-buying groups and businesses to see how to get area residents eating more locally grown food.

Around 60 people attended the “Local Food for Local People: Farms and Community in Partnership” conference at the Humboldt Area Foundation.
(20 Apr, 2005)

Cross between a car and a bike draws stares, confusion
Ashland Daily Tidings
Forget hybrid technology. Ashlanders Russ Rappa and Jason Bernard have designed a motorized vehicle that does away with the combustion engine altogether. They call it a four-wheel drive, electric powered, quadra-cycle and it’s really part bicycle, part car, all — as Rappa defined it — “environmental kinetic art.”

It’s shaped like a car, with four tires, two rearview mirrors and a push foot brake. But it’s made almost entirely out of bicycle parts, from the steel bar frame to the throttle on the handlebars.

“It’s kind of self defining,” Rappa said.

The most unique aspect to their invention, they say, is that it enables people to travel around without the aide of any fossil fuels whatsoever. It has four 600-watt kinetic motors — one inside each of its four wheels — that run off 12 separate 12-volt batteries. On one 6-hour charge, they said, it can go about 40 miles at 25 miles-per-hour.
(19 Apr, 2005)