Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 08, 2004

Oily Thread IV

by Jérôme

The article Russian oil prospect provides a bleak view of Russian oil reserves. In a nutshell, ..

.. the author, Leslie Dienes, a geographer by profession, argues that Russia's recent oil production increase is mostly due to
(i) some catching up of the "lost production" of the 1990s (the oil that would have been produced in existing fields if production had not dropped dramatically due to the turmoil in the country) and
(ii) "skimming off" the easiest bit of the existing reserves by the new owners of the Russian oil sector in order to boost financial returns in the short term.
She indicates that hardly any production comes from new fields, and that future production will require heavy investment as the fields (in the Asian part of Siberia) are hard to access, very distant from markets and with difficult geological configurations.

In the meantime, the Western oil majors are more busy giving back cash to their shareholders than investing in exploration; and when they invest they are concentrating a growing share of their budgets on natural gas (including the LNG business). They have called on OPEC to open up to them as these countries effectively control all the remaining (large-ish) oil fields where it makes sense for the majors to invest in.

So to sum it up:

  • oil demand is growing unexpectedly strongly (pulled by China, thus not likely to slow down even in the event of a recession in developed countries)
  • oil supply is very tight, with very limited spare capacity (see here - 500 thousand b/d is about 0.5% or current production)
  • oil majors are unwilling or unable to invest significantly to increase oil production, due to lack of access to the reserves or a choice to give back cash rather than invest in small (and more expensive) fields
  • there are strong doubts that OPEC countries can increase their oil production in the short or even medium term, as they seem unable to do so without Western know-how, investment or technology and unwilling to let them in
  • Russia, suddenly the last great hope of the US, may not be able to provide a sustainable increase either.
In any case, there will continue to be tensions on the oil supply-demand balance in the short term and it is yet unclear whether this will change in the long term...

Short term advice - buy oil futures...
Medium term advice - buy a Prius or a bike...
Long term advice - find a way to invest in electricity-powered transportation...

I expect that "demand destruction" is going to become a very widely used term in the future.

Prior discussions with many insightful comments and useful links:
Oily Thread III
Oily Thread II
Oily Thread I

Posted by b on October 8, 2004 at 06:52 AM | Permalink

Comments

OT (slightly)

The Nobel Prize Comittee gives the Nobel Peace Prize for 2004 to Wangari Maathai

Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment. Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women's rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally.
Twenty years ago, Mrs. Maathai already received the Alternative Peace Prize. She is the first person to have received both prizes.

Her Green Belt Movement is one of the best environment effort I know of.

"We have a special responsibility to the ecosystem of this planet. In making sure that other species survive we will be ensuring the survival of our own." - Wangari Maathai
Responsible use of energy is a big part of these efforts.

Posted by: b | Oct 8, 2004 9:27:29 AM | 1

Not so peaceful:
The oil that drives the US military

The use of US military personnel to help protect vulnerable oil installations in conflict-prone, chronically unstable countries is certain to expand given three critical factors: America's ever-increasing dependence on imported petroleum, a global shift in oil production from the developed to the developing world, and the growing militarization of US foreign energy policy.
...
While anti-terrorism and traditional national-security rhetoric will be employed to explain risky deployments abroad, a growing number of American soldiers and sailors will be committed to the protection of overseas oilfields, pipelines, refineries and tanker routes. And because these facilities are likely to come under increasing attack from guerrillas and terrorists, the risk to American lives will grow accordingly. Inevitably, Americans will pay a higher price in blood for every additional liter of oil they obtain from abroad.

Posted by: b | Oct 8, 2004 9:51:10 AM | 2

More information on the LNG business can be found on the BG Group web site here. They've had a pretty smart corporate strategy in that sector (full disclosure: my bank finances some of their LNG projects) and they have some interesting insights.

One that struck me is their opinion that there will not be enough natural gas on the US market by 2010, including new LNG deliveries by people like themselves, and that you should expect "demand destruction" (that's where I caught the expression) - i.e. someone will need to reduce its consumption....

(to be continued)

Posted by: Jérôme | Oct 8, 2004 12:05:59 PM | 3

A picture of the World at night from NASA:

http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpegMod/PIA02991_modest.jpg>Link

Kuwait oil wells on fire (GW I) from encarta:

http://images.encarta.msn.com/xrefmedia/sharemed/targets/images/pho/t029/T029288A.jpg>Link

Masthead picture of GreatChange:

http://www.greatchange.org/images/golfballs.jpg>Link

Posted by: Blackie | Oct 8, 2004 12:37:12 PM | 4

A picture of the World at night from NASA:

http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpegMod/PIA02991_modest.jpg>Link

Kuwait oil wells on fire (GW I) from encarta:

http://images.encarta.msn.com/xrefmedia/sharemed/targets/images/pho/t029/T029288A.jpg>Link

Masthead picture of GreatChange:

http://www.greatchange.org/images/golfballs.jpg>Link

Posted by: Blackie | Oct 8, 2004 12:42:47 PM | 5

man - that picture of the planet at night is very revealing - sort of bittersweet.

Posted by: chaelman | Oct 8, 2004 2:23:18 PM | 6

Blackie....... great sat photo........ what will it be like when the lights go out?

PS: Notice the Dark versus Bright North and South Korea. Scary

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Oct 8, 2004 4:21:31 PM | 7

Jérôme, when should higher consumer prices for gasoline and heating occur? Before the elections?

Posted by: slothrop | Oct 8, 2004 6:42:12 PM | 8

Jérôme

I noticed that you wrote: "Long term advice -find a way to invest in electricity-powered transportation..." and not in hydrogen-powered transportation. Why is that?

Posted by: Greco | Oct 9, 2004 5:49:20 AM | 9

Jerome, you watching the game?

Come on Ireland!!!!!

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Oct 9, 2004 3:50:21 PM | 10

CP- Saw the first half. The final score seems deserved from what I saw...

Greco - hydrogen is only a way to transport the energy, it's not an energy source per se. Hydrogen-powered cars will require the hydrogen to be produced, and this requires energy. the only advantage is that this can come from many sources, whether local or centralised ; the most likely would be electricity-powered.

My bet for the very long term is that we are ulimately going to see radical changes in the way transport is organised. i think that the privately-owned car will give way to other forms of "public" transportation - public transportation as we know it already (trains and buses), but also intermediate forms such as pools of cars available to all for some form or rental, fee or suscription for individual local transport. also, there will be much more controlled infrastructure where you will be "inserted" in traffic without much control over your driving - and thus also less requirements for a powerful, big car (the system might even have its own centralised power system to power all movements on it, like a giant conveyor belt of sorts)

electric cars are currently limited in their range by battery capacity; this will improve, but possibly not enough. So people may have cars at home, use them locally or to go to their local transport hub (whether it is what we know like trains or new systems like the "guided highway" system above) ; on the other side you'll have to use another car from the local "pool" or use the local public network. People don't all use their cars at the same time, so the number of vehicles will drop significantly and the overall energy consumption will be much lower, with people still allowed some autonomy.

This may all sound like science fiction or wishful thinking ("it's Americans' God-given right to have cars and go wherever they please with it") but it will soon make a lot of economic sense when fuel prices start to go up seriously, as they undoubtedly will*. This will of course change housing patterns in the US, so it will not happen overnight, but it is still likely

*And newspapers now seem content to say that oil will be in the 30-50 range instead of the 10-30 (as The Economist did last week (sorry, no link)), which allows them to scare readers with 'high oil prices' headlines without actually having them to think hard about the long term consequences, but I think they are deluded. Prices will go much higher, and a lot more quickly than they think.

Read my post - there is NO significant available production capacity in the short to medium term and demand is growing really strongly.

The fact that the "speculators" are in the market shows that some people have more foresight - all they do is try to anticipate trends, but they cannot provoke them (as an aside - I disagree with a lot of what jdp writes on the finacial markets here, and I'll try to post a more substantive rebuttal soon). They see a tight demand-supply situation AND a strong probability of "crisis" or "incident" (anything, terrorism, labor, weather that has a significant impact on production in any region) that would tip the market overboard. As the "crisis" cannot by definition be anticipated, you weigh its probability and its consequences and add the corresponding probabilists number to the price you're willing to pay. Today's 53$ oil price reflects a let's say 40$ price created by the short term supply-balance situation and a 13% probability that the price jumps to 140$ (if that's scary, consider that it also implies a 50% probability that the price goes to 66$) within let's say a year.

As I've written before, I'm not as gloomy as DeAnander on our ability as a civilisation to come through such a paradigm change (this is an overused expression, but it probably does apply here!) in good shape. Alternatives already exist at costs that are bearable, and if the incentives are there, the energy and creativity we have shown to develop and push internal-combustion engine trnasport will be harnessed in more viable ways like those I described above.

Posted by: Jérôme | Oct 10, 2004 7:29:06 AM | 11

@jerome, good to see you once more having the mental focus and energy to write (compellingly as always) on this topic where you have such expertise.

I would like to introduce a subtheme (from a discussion elsewhere). In making a soft transition to a lower-energy-consumption future we must contend with a flood of propaganda from professional deniers such as http://www.canada.com/national/nationalpost/financialpost/columnists/story.html?id=05539024-57d5-4ee1-96af-836566a9da11>
Terence Corcoran, Financial Post. Notice the dead giveaway, the reference to Julian Simon.

This link was posted to a "carfree" discussion list of which I'm a member, with requests for comments and/or rebuttals. Partridge's paper effectively demolishes Simon in a language accessible to general readers, so that was easy. But we need imho to think hard about Cornucopianism and its dangerous effect in persuading people (and politicians) not to take peak oil seriously.

Corcoran has his finger on one little bit of accurate cultural criticism: he says, and rightly, that the Peak Oil event fits neatly into an ever-attractive human myth-system, the Doomsday Cult or End of the World Story. For persons of a pessimistic disposition, or those unhappy with the present order of things, it is always tempting to believe that some catastrophic event is just ahead that will turn the world upside down, humble the mighty, reshuffle the deck, or just plunge us all into annihilation. The popularity of the Rapture Cult in the US is an excellent illustration of this kind of millennialism (or is it millenarism).

But Corcoran is only telling half the story. On this topic a day or so ago I wrote


There is a mirror image to the Doomsday Cult, and it's the Cult of the Big Rock Candy Mountain -- the cult of pie in the sky forever and ever, of streets paved with gold and little piggies running around pre-roasted for everyone to take a slice -- a childish fantasy of life without any limits, ever -- where everyone can indulge their most gluttonous dreams indefinitely. It's counter-physical, counter-historical, and even counter-intuitive, but its persistence testifies to the persistence of wishful thinking in the human heart, and the persistence of chicanery in commerce and finance. Ponzi was by no means a lusus naturae: he was downright typical -- a perfect Cornucopian.

The Cornucopian Cult comes in many forms, but since the Enlightenment it has mostly come in the guise of technophilia and industrial optimism, a very C18 and C19 belief that an infinitude of wealth can be extracted (forcibly, if need by) from the physical world, or "created" by human ingenuity and technology. In our day, with the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the prevailing Cornucopian voice is rightwing in political allegiance, but Cornucopianism was at the heart of the great Soviet industrialisation program and the same bogus accounting (externalising costs, treating the biosphere as an infinite source and infinite sink, laying waste and moving on, ignoring issues of sustainability) was practised during the Soviet heyday. So there is also a Cornucopianism of the Old Left, and I would say there is a Cornucopianism of the New Leftish tendency as well, the Hydrogen Energy Cult (Rifkin as primary popular cheerleader), the Lovins thinktank might qualify.

The dominant rightwing Cornucopianism is imho a fossil philosophy, rooted in the naive vision of earlier centuries, when a smaller population and deep ignorance made planetary resource appear (for all intents and purposes) infinite. It also borrows, I believe, heavily from the expansionist mindset of the colonial era (there is always another "terra nullis" just waiting to be invaded and looted).

Although the "infinite natural resources" assumption was already disproven by real world events in C18 and C19 (well documented by Clive Ponting in his book A Green History of the World), it has remarkable staying power -- possibly because it resonates with Biblical narratives about a world created to order by God for the use and provision (consider the term "Providence") of Man [sic]. Certainly a naive Cornucopianism in the US, among semiliterate Fundamentalists, holds that God will create whatever resources are needed for his chosen country (America) to have as many SUVs and air conditioners as God's people want.

The emotional linchpin of the Cornucopian worldview is that planetary resources are infinite. Since this is physically absurd, obviously so (ever since we figured out what a planet is) then those who don't invoke miraculous intervention by a partisan Deity must cloak the emotional presupposition in pseudo-rational indirections and redefinitions. One is the notion that humans create wealth, i.e. resources are created by humans, therefore with an infinite supply of humans we can never run out of resources. Another is substitutability, i.e. the belief that whenever one resource becomes scarce, human ingenuity will simply substitute another resource. http://greatchange.org/ov-partridge,perilous_optimism.html>Partridge details and refutes these assumptions, I don't see a need to go through them all over again.

There are several reasons why people promote the Cornucopian dogma. One, obviously, is denial: fear of a future that will not be similar to the present, unwillingness to accept change, and total immersion in a "status economy" in which status and rank are expressed by energy squandering (so that the more energy efficient a mode of transport is, the lower its social status is). Americans in particular regard buses as lower-class and many would feel personally demeaned or degraded if they had to use public (ugh!) transit rather than ride in private carriages. It is the attitude of aristocracy throughout the ages, but now perilously vulgarised. This emotional/ego attachment to energy squandering is an enormous barrier to change and an enormous motivation for people to cling to Cornucopian dogma.

Another motive for the promulgation of Cornucopianism is purely venal. Oil and other fossil fuel companies, auto and truck companies, etc. are completely invested in a technology which is rapidly approaching obsolescence. They face an "adapt or die" moment, and most have grown into lumbering behemoths of industry with enormous resistance to change. They are strongly motivated to maintain course and try to keep their stock value high by pretending that they have a long, profitable future ahead and that no (expensive) retooling or new design work is needed, and that no faster, better-adapted competitors will ever challenge them. Hence a huge investment by oil companies in prostituted scientists (or genuine contrarians) who churn out papers and press releases denying any anthropogenic component to global warming, denying peak oil, etc. Some of the funding for the promotion of Cornucopian dogma will come from obsolete industrial sectors where enormous wealth has accumulated, pumping out propaganda to make themselves look viable.

Contradictions to Cornucopian dogma will not come from most governmental echelons because no government wants to be the one to tell the public bad news. No US politician has forgotten how Pres. Carter's career went down in flames the moment he told the American people that they needed to focus on conservation (i.e. reducing energy demand) rather than assume that supplies would go on increasing forever. No US politician is going to take the risk of telling Americans that they need to reduce energy demand. Leadership cannot be expected from the "leaders", as usual. Compounding this problem is the current identity of oil interests and the Presidential post and cabinet: the US is for all intents and purposes owned and operated by an oil cartel at present, and we see the result in blatant suppression of content in official government reports, censorship of government web sites, etc. -- as well as in a distastrous foreign policy focussed on colonial resource-stealing as a means to support a Cornucopian domestic energy policy.

A further difficulty is posed by the current intellectual hegemony of neoliberal (Chicago School) economic theory. The problem with this flavour of capitalist theory is that it requires a neverending growth or expansion in order to "work". Markets must expand continually for the bogus mechanisms of future discounting to work, and these mechanisms are required to make the bogus concept of "externalisation of costs" to work. The whole economic philosophy is predicated on infinite growth, and hence Cornucopianism is built into the entire global economic system at this time. The absurdity of this is easily seen when we read editorials in major papers bemoaning the tapering-off or even reduction of population in selected affluent countries. Given the approximate carrying capacity of the planet, the role of fossil fuel in allowing us to "cheat" on this carrying capacity and overshoot our sustainable population/consumption threshold, and the imminent decline in fossil fuel availability, any reduction in population growth is very good news. But because our economic dogma requires infinite growth, it is perversely regarded as bad news. (A countercurrent or "New School" in economics is struggling to be born -- http://www.paecon.net/>here's an intro.)

I would even propose that there is a deeper psychosocial barrier to overcome, and that is the definition of masculinity in Western cultures. That definition is so tightly coupled to what I could call "immaturity" values: aggression, insouciance, display/swaggering, recklessness, contempt, conquest. Values like caution, modesty, probity, farsightfulness, negotiation, caring, and the respectful acknowledgement of limits, are considered "girly", female, demeaning for "real men" to practise. Since these are precisely the values needed in planning and technology to succeed in a finite-resource environment, we have a dangerous situation in which the very self-definition of "manliness" is invested in attitudes directly incompatible with a soft landing: resistance from the male public and from male politicians will come from levels of ego so deep as to be quite intractable. We need only watch the boyish, thuggish posturing in which Senator Kerry is indulging, in order to prove himself "manly enough" to win the voters' confidence, to see how difficult it will be for any US politician to embody basic sustainability principles.

We have therefore an astonishingly difficult set of barriers to overcome, in order to achieve a soft landing after the end of the Cheap Oil Era. To achieve a soft landing, demand reduction must be seriously addressed; and demand reduction cannot be addressed while we cling to the Big Rock Candy Mountain fairy tale, or to the various structures that support that fairly tale or depend on it, or the emotional obsessions that require us to believe in it.

There are barriers between scientists and the public, enforced by corporate ownership of media and governmental self-censoring. There are barriers inside the public mind, enforced by religious dogma, egomania, and politican indoctrination. There are conceptual and intellectual barriers throughout the academy and the secular-priestly caste of economists and technomanagers.

I agree with Bernhard's analysis and with Jerome's practical, pragmatic outline for a lower-demand transport network. It is eminently sensible, and what's appalling is that, in this day and age, it should seem to anyone "science fiction-y" or extreme. But to get there from here will be uphill work. Truly we have our work cut out for us -- economists, politicians, religious dogmatists and the public will need to be dragged kicking and screaming into contact with physics and reality.

. . . outcome can be avoided -- and I fear that we are going to lose this battle (or the related battle against catastrophic climate change) because the forces of inertia will resist action until we can see ourselves about to go over the precipice.

oh Simon, you underestimate the human race. well over the precipice and in free fall, our talking heads will still be insisting firmly that "that was NOT a precipice" and "we are NOT falling," or "that direction we are going in should NOT be called 'down'", and citing Julian Simon's latest paper debunking the "unproven theory" of gravity.


Posted by: DeAnander | Oct 10, 2004 5:36:32 PM | 12

DeAnander - just saw your post as I was about to turn off the computer. Too much to absorb and to reply to right now, so I will try to get back later; maybe not tomorrow as I'm travelling (flying to London and back in the same day and doing my bit to bring the end of cheap oil closer...).

Thanks as always for the insightful and informative posts.

Posted by: Jérôme | Oct 10, 2004 5:43:35 PM | 13

a note on terminology for the mindset that the world will end soon - as you may recall, there was a major outbreak of this in europe as 1000 C.E. approached - hence the appearance of the latin word for "one thousand" in the name for the mindset

according to the wikipedia article on the topic, the most common terms used are

millenarianism or millenarism

other, less common synonyms are

millenism, millennialism, millennianism, millenniarism and millenniumism


Posted by: mistah charley | Oct 10, 2004 6:05:55 PM | 14

Dr. Marc Faber: Just how high will oil prices go?

Since its last major low in 1998 at $12 (when the Economist published a very bearish piece about oil), crude oil prices have climbed to around $50 at present. The question, therefore, arises whether oil prices are headed for a sharp fall, as most analysts seem to think, or whether far higher prices could become reality in the years to come.
...
whereas we can say that the 1970s oil shock was 'event driven', today's oil price increase is structural in nature. Specifically the current demand driven oil bull market is fueled by the incremental demand coming from the industrialization of China and the rising standards of living around Asia, which increase the population of energy using consumer durables such as motorcycles, air-conditioners, and cars very rapidly
...
Therefore, starting from such a low base, oil consumption in Asia will, in my opinion, double in the next ten to 15 years from currently 20 million barrels per day to around 40 million barrels per day.
...
Lastly, I do concede that if oil prices tumbled to say USD $40 or possibly even $35, equities around the world might well rally temporary (in fact equities would rally in anticipation of such a decline). However, if I am right that in future oil prices could rise much further than is generally expected, geopolitical tension would likely increase dramatically, as countries such as the US and China would increasingly become concerned about adequate supplies.

And, in the case that oil prices were to rise in real terms to their 1980s highs – well over US$ 100 – then the foundation for World War Three would be laid and most certainly begin to weigh heavily on equity prices for which I cannot share the prevailing widespread optimism anyway. Financial stocks have begun to weaken and this is an indication that something is not quite right!


Posted by: b | Oct 11, 2004 11:38:49 AM | 15

This morning in the FT:

Oil groups failing to meet costs of new finds
By James Boxell in London

The world's biggest oil companies are failing to get value for money when they explore for new reserves, according to research by Wood Mackenzie, the energy consultant.

The report shows the commercial value of oil and gas discovered over the past three years by the 10 largest listed energy groups is running well below the amount they have spent on exploration.

(emphasis added)
And that's AFTER reducing exploration costs.

The fact is that 3/4 of remaining oil reserves are in countries which do not really encourage foreign investment - and have done almost no exploration in the past 20 years. This is not going to be sustainable for long...

The good news - reserves in less explored countries are maybe, maybe, more than we think
The bad news - we may need to go to war to do that exploration...

Posted by: Jérôme | Oct 11, 2004 4:00:58 PM | 16

DeAnander

coming back to your long post above, I had a few random points that I wanted to throw your way as reactions to what you wrote:

- candy mountain - that expression gave me some fun dreams last night - but I would argue that we do have a "candy mountain" of sorts. the energy sent by the sun, not to mention the nuclear energy in all the matter on earth is many ordrs of magnitude more than we consume now and that we will consume in the future. The question is more - can we reach that mountain, i.e. can we capture that energy other than by relying only on the chemical form generated by the earth's biomass? If we can, energy will not be the issue (sustainability still will be, but it will be about another topic, whether water, fertile soil, or something else). If we can't, then we are indeed stuck with whatever stock of chemical energy the earth has plus what it can regenerate during any given period. Can we leverage that stock of energy (oil & coal) to get to "smarter" energy forms?
It's a bit like fusion - you need to put a lot of energy in before anything comes out, and then you need to get a positive balance, which we are barely doing. It's the same for solar energy in all its forms (wind, PV, etc). We have another few decades to do it.

- population growth. This is actually a major point. As you say, decreasing populations are not necessarily a bad thing for sustainability... The thing is, population is a low-productivity-growth activity, i.e. we have not really managed to improve the process of "extracting" or "producing" humans. It still requires a lot of energy, time (maybe even more than before, 25ys instead of 10 previously). We've reduced losses in the production process (lower child mortality, longer life expectancy) but that has barely compensated for the longer production time.
That high "energy cost" is already felt in that birth rates are declining everywhere in an unprecedented way.
I have read recently that energy consumption per head peaked in the 70s (not sure if this referred to the whole world, the developed world or just the US, probably the developed world). This was the first time in man's modern history that this indicator declined. Some saw that as a sign of impending doom (the slide towards resource scarcity...). Or you can see it as a sign that we are learning (and responding to proper incentives, like higher oil prices). I find it an interesting coincidence that it happened at the same time as the end of the demographic cycle in our countries (this also fits nicely with the feminist revolution viz. your "manliness" point).

- perceptions. we take "free" (or at least very cheap) transport for granted. Touching it in any way (including even modest price rises) is a denial of our "human rights" nowadays. This is incomprehensible to me, but very real (see the howls everywhere - and the corresponding political posturing - these days with the still minor fuel price increass). I don't see any other way but a real crisis to show everyone that transport actually is a COSTLY activity.
(we fully agree on this, I think)

- a minor quibble. I would not blame the corporations so much. They run with the incentive provided. Of course, they try to maintain favorable incentives, but they adapt if pushed. we need to push them and orient they real capacities otherwise.

Posted by: Jérôme | Oct 11, 2004 4:27:39 PM | 17

and http://www.asianews.it/view.php?l=en&art=1659>so it begins . . .

anyway (random thoughts, continuing to bat ideas around)...

the combination of reducing demand and reducing inefficiency should buy some time. but (as I said earlier) there are enormous conceptual and emotional roadblocks in the way, that interfere with our ability to approach the problem rationally. just one small example is the (successful) attempt by the mfr of the obscene Hummer SUV to associate their product in many affluent people's minds with Patriotism, i.e. Hummer the All American Patriotic Car. once this association is made then any attempt to critique the gross inefficiency of the vehicle or its disproportionate privatisation of shared public space, will be resisted instinctively as "unpatriotic" or "anti-American." I forgot to list nationalism among the various psychological problems that make it difficult to effect real change. consider it added.

the population issue might, if left to play out naturally, resolve itself. but unfortunately current models of capitalism provide http://prorev.com/2004/10/countries-want-more-babies-to-keep.htm>perverse incentives to overbreed... rather than care for, e.g. elderly and needy people out of present surplus (for example, as an alternative to paying CEOs 500 or 700 times what a line worker makes), the greedhead model of economics requires that we cover that expense by the Ponzi scheme of infinite growth and future discounting.

I have had the argument over per-capita energy consumption more than once with those who insist that the higher this figure is, the more advanced and desirable the civilisation must be. my response is quite simple: which technology is preferable, a PDP-8 personal computer at approx. 500 lbs and several kilowatts per hour of electricity consumption -- or an x86 laptop or Mac Powerbook weighing less than 10 lbs, using less than 1 percent of the energy to operate, and offering approximately 10,000 times the compute power? would the person using a PDP8 have a higher quality of life than the person using a Powerbook, simply because they consume more energy? I've used both and the answer is pretty obvious :-)

Posted by: DeAnander | Oct 12, 2004 12:13:12 AM | 18

Hey, check out India on that map of the world at night. Surprising, huh?

We all ignore India at our peril.

Posted by: floopmeister | Oct 12, 2004 9:37:44 PM | 19

floopmeister

yt take on howards victory. i'm interested

still steel

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 13, 2004 1:49:53 PM | 20

High school students and teacher build hydrogen vehicle powered by sunlight.

Fascinating story.

The only down side is that enculturation compels them to think outside the box from within a bigger box.

In other words they put all that innovation inside a Chevy pickup [insert Danny Thomas spit-take here].

Somehow this culture needs to stop insisting on pushing two-ton boxes around town.

That's the heaviest hurdle to jump. That's the group think that is anchoring progress to the bottom of the sea.

But overcoming the bigger-is-heavier-is-better wetware inside humans is going to be damn near impossible.

Just as we gloat that Kerry is taller than Bush, so the first horseman gloated over peasants, and even so does the SUVer lord it over everyday passenger cars.

It is fundamental encoding.

And asking people to rise above their genes is a lot like asking them to give up sex.

But then, that's why we have laws right? To compel proper behavior? What's the chances of legislating small light smart cars into being?

[insert Danny Thomas spit-take here]


Posted by: koreyel | Oct 14, 2004 12:39:40 PM | 21

Swiss-Solution: Swiss cheese into electricity

Came across an article in today’s magazine of one of the big supermarkets. Apparently, when producing cheese there is a by-product called ‘Schotte’ (well not a Scott, which would be the literal translation). In some of the alpine regions, they have to use up to 80’000kWh to get rid of this ‘Schotte’. Then they had the idea to use it to produce electricity. They are mixing it with the mire from the local purification plant. This mixture is used with a new biogas-procedure to produce electricity. Their estimate is that by next year they will be able to produce 250’000 kWh from 4 million litres of ‘Schotte’ - but adding the 80’000kWh saved from getting rid of this product it actually would add up to 330’000kWh. And this is only in one cheese producing region, the Engadin.

(By the way, one of the ways for the supermarkets to lure consumers is to become more and more green, there is more organic stuff available, and they give importance to recycling and reducing their own energy use and no gen-manipulated food. On the same page is also article, that says that 80% of their consumers are strictly agains gen-manipulated food and it seems that the number of people being sceptical is increasing.)

This article to me confirms something important - there is not one solution to solve the environmental problems and the energy consumption. I think the more open we can approach this problem, the more solutions can be found, each adapted to the local needs.

Unfortunately I could not find a link to this projekt.

Posted by: Fran | Oct 20, 2004 12:53:43 PM | 22

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