Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hurricane/Terrorism/Chemical Attack Exercise
Cheney Lawyer Claims Congress Has No Authority Over Vice Pres
Landmark Case Gives Email Same Protection As Phone Calls
Break-Ins Plague Targets of U.S. Attorneys
Mccain Accused of Accepting Donations From Londoners
Shortage of Fertilizer
60 Minutes on Pat Tillman
Secret Law Debated in Senate Hearing
Lake With 20% of Earth's Water Warming Faster Than Air
Kunstler on Colbert Report
Shortcomings of Plan NYC


Rice Farmer said...

Fertilizer vs. biofuels -- Note that the fertilizer shortage article says farmers are returning to organic inputs. This is a growing trend I've been watching. As time goes on, they will want/need more organic inputs. Add to that the backyard gardeners who will be looking for anything organic they can get their hands on.

What's this got to do with biofuels, you say? One hell of a lot. Biofuel producers have big plans for securing feedstock to supply their factories (like "waste" from fields -- ha ha!). Unfortunately for them, farmers and gardeners will be after the same organic inputs, and they are going to win because people will suddenly discover that they'd rather feed themselves than their cars.

Thus my prediction that (for other reasons as well) the large-scale biofuel industry is doomed. Biofuels will be produced locally on a small scale by local people for their own use.

Los Doggies said...

I'd love to hear someone's critique of this William Engdahl article on Global Research.

Rice Farmer said...

Last year Engdahl crossed over to the "abiotic oil" camp, meaning that he now takes the position that oil is for all practical purposes unlimited. There is always the possibility that he's right, but so far there is little evidence to support him. Taking the abiotic position obliges one to show that getting more oil is just a matter of drilling holes in the right places.

Oil may return to much lower prices, but that would likely be accomplished by demand destruction, for example a severe global recession (coming right up!).

As far as speculation being responsible for 60% of oil price, that is pretty hard to swallow. Speculators can pump all the money they want into the market, but oil is going to sell for the market price, which is what consumers think it's worth, not what speculators think it's worth. Supply and demand are nip and tuck, a situation that drives prices higher on fears of insufficient supply, and which also makes it extremely difficult for anyone to hoard significant quantities of crude and keep it off the market.

Why are Saudi Arabia and other major oil producers so unenthusiastic these days about increasing production? SA is saying openly that they want to save some oil for posterity (very smart), and despite the very tight supply/demand balance, OPEC maintains that the market is "well supplied." If oil keeps bubbling up into their reservoirs, as abiotic proponents claim, why doesn't SA go back to being the swing producer? After all, it wouldn't have to worry about running out.

There is also the argument that oil producers are just holding down production to jack up prices. Of course everyone wants to get the highest possible price for their goods, but with airlines going bust and the world economy generally going to hell in a handbasket, if producers are really holding down production this far on purpose, they are either playing an extremely dangerous game, or are just plain stupid, to chance bringing the world economy down.

Also, according to Engdahl, Russian scientists figured out abiotic oil, but lately Russian oil production has likewise been declining. Go figure.

In the end, Engdahl might turn out to be right, but so far the evidence doesn't support him, as far as I can see.

D! said...

Los Doggies -

Maybe Engdahl should revisit his catalyst for disavowing Peak Oil and report on how well the Abiogenic Oil Theory is working for Russia now... Or maybe he could go into a Pemex conference room and spread his positive vibe.

Every time I read an Engdahl article I am amazed at how he can report things so distorted and half-assed.

In the same article he states the world demand being 87m/bpd, world production at 84m/bpd and yet maintains that the world is in "over-supply." Yes, an over-supply of negative 3 million barrels per day.

He also says the 190k decline in demand from the US is "significant" whereas China's expected 400k increase in demand is a "minor rise." He neglects to mention other countries increasing demand, that with the omission of the US and China, totals 1m/bpd.

As far as his "reporting" on the "Big new oil fields coming online" goes, the Saudi fields are just expansions upon aging fields. The Brazil fields are effectively a joke considering the technology required to render them operational doesn't even EXIST yet, no one in the industry wants to admit it but Brazil is playing in a very high stakes game that could effectively bankrupt that country. And the Bakken could only, at the absolute best case scenario, provide the US with about 6-10 months oil supply. That same scenario actually requires the USGS "confirmation" to be accurate, which, anyone who has followed their assessments, knows that they have notoriously overblown and essentially dead-wrong.

His data sets are sporadic and inconsistent. He selectively puts forth (dis)information solely on the basis of trying to "debunk" peak oil.

I am not however, disagreeing with his position towards economic exploitation of oil. That's pretty cut and dry.

gaelicgirl said...

James Howard Kunstler on Peak Oil in *The Washington Post* (Sunday). Peak Oil must be here now!

Rice Farmer said...

"They Used Pat for Public Consumption, Just Like Jessica Lynch": An Interview with Mary Tillman

Rice Farmer said...

Hi Gaelic Girl. Yes, it seems that peak oil is finally being taken seriously by the mainstream media, and is becoming known widely among the American public. By contrast, here in Japan the media blame high crude prices on "speculators" and rising consumption by India and China, but they are careful not to mention peak oil. There is, however, no shortage of news stories about the consequences of expensive crude. Today's paper alone has five or six articles about how everything is getting more expensive. There will be yet another price hike of 10 yen/liter in petroleum products beginning June 1. Gasoline will be at an all-time high of 170 yen/liter.

gaelicgirl said...

Hi Rice Farmer, just curious as to what 170 yen/liter compares to in US gas prices, if you can translate? Thanks.

Pandabonium said...

gaelicgirl - 170 yen/liter = about $6.23/gallon.

Google has a nice math feature to if for doing such conversions. Just type in "convert 170 yen/liter to dollars/gallon" at it gives you the answer. Works for all kinds of measurement conversions (handy for converting recipe measures).

Rice Farmer said...

170 yen/liter is well over $6/gallon, calculated roughly. At that price, Americans would already be revolting. Of course there is much energy waste here in Japan, too, but this shows that Japan is far more energy efficient than the US.

Rice Farmer said...

A long time ago MCR said, "Globalization is dead." He was dead right.

Chris XVX said...

As gas prices soar, thieves grow more brazen
It’s not just drive-offs — crooks targeting individual cars with siphons, drills...

Rice Farmer said...

Diesel rises hurting fishers

And the financial page of today's paper has an article titled "30% of Pelagic Tuna Fishers to Stay in Port." Overfishing of tuna has been a serious issue, but now high fuel prices are killing the industry. In fact, expensive fuel is, according to the newspaper, already keeping substantial numbers of tuna fishing rigs at home in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, and China. Those familiar cans of tuna will likely become a luxury delicacy in the near future.

JJR said...

I do love the work of James Howard Kunstler, but here's where I have to break with him (quoting from his Blog post June 2nd, 2008)

JHK says (quote):

"...Setting aside the crank theories (which I've always regarded as utter paranoid nonsense) that the attacks were somehow orchestrated by the US government itself, it became clear quickly that the nineteen airplane hijackers were Arab nationals, mostly from Saudi Arabia. It also became clear that their acts were not directly sponsored by any legitimate Arab government, but rather by a trans-national Islamic extremist network. So the question for the US, after the morning of 9/11/01, was: what to do about this act?"

Still the rest of the analysis is pretty good:

"..The answer was Iraq, for a number of strategic reasons. Iraq had the largest untapped oil reserves outside Saudi Arabia and it would benefit the oil-guzzling US to have something to say about its disposition. Iraq was geographically positioned between two of the most troublesome nations in the Middle East, Iran and Saudi Arabia and a US military presence between them would influence their behavior. Iraq was ethnically Arab. .."
"I believe that the decision to punish an Arab nation for 9/11 was probably made very soon after the event. Whether Iraq specifically had anything to do with 9/11 was not part of the equation."
"As a strategic matter, it was necessary to make the 'statement' that attacks on US territory would provoke a response that Islamic extremists could not fail to understand -- something along the lines of 'an eye for an eye....' In short, we set out to kick the ass of an Arab nation. Iraq was by far the best candidate."

This is the best, most provocative part that MCR would probably agree with:

"...But all the backward-looking crybaby complaints that 'we were lied to' still doesn't answer the basic question: what should have been the appropriate response to the extreme injury of 9/11? A diplomatic protest? Another investigation by the UN? The surreptitious assassination of Arab troublemakers all around the world? I don't think the 'we were lied to' contingent has a credible answer to this question.
There's another hugely important realm of inquiry that the 'we were lied to' folks have never addressed: who lied to us about the way we live in this country? About the amount of oil we consume in the service of all our comforts and conveniences? About our extreme car dependence and what is required in our relations with the rest of the world to sustain it. All these years, Frank Rich and all his whining colleagues at the New York Times barely acknowledged the domestic fiasco of the suburban sprawl economy that placed us in such jeopardy to begin with. Even now, with the airlines disintegrating and gasoline over $4 (diesel over $5) I haven't heard any of these crybabies even raise the issue of restoring the US railroad system. How many of these crybabies live suburban lives themselves, in places like Louden County, Virginia, or Westchester, or Long Island, or the San Fernando Valley? Who lied to us about that?
For my money, the 'we were lied to' chorus only represents the obdurately self-righteous cluelessness in every band of the American political spectrum. We lied to ourselves. We continue to lie to ourselves every day. The US public barely understands the first thing about the energy predicament we're in, and what it means for how we live in this country -- or how we get along with the rest of the world -- and the news media tragically reflects that ignorance. We fantasize about being 'energy independent' and still being able to drive to the mall three times a day to eat caesar salads grown on the other side of North America. Get this: we deserve exactly what is happening to us. We might as well keep on lying to ourselves to pretend that we are not descending into a dark phase of our own history. After all, the true basis of American life these days is to feel good about yourself no matter what you do."

While I'm irked that JHK is in effect dissing MCR (and others) at the start, the last part above still shows much insight.