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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Baloney and Spew

Television serves as a veritable wasteland when it comes to keeping tabs on fossil fuel depletion issues. The other conventional broadcast medium, radio, gives mixed results on the issues. The mix boils down to Air America, Pacifica, etc. providing the goods while the right side of the dial tunes completely out.

I don't watch much TV but do keep the radio on in the background, so I can tell you that a network such as AAR seems to mention energy or oil, at least incidentally, at the rate of once every hour. Based on my own sampling, the right wing talkers never mention the topic ... but now they have started droning on and on about Air America on the hour every hour.

Why? Basically the "gotcha" issue involves early fraud by the initial startup player in the network, Evan Cohen. I have not seen the film, but the guy evidently gets slammed hard in the HBO documentary Left of the Dial which focusses on the birthing of AAR. Bad vibes with the staff left the new owners to boot his butt out long ago. However, the repercussions have just started hitting the right-wing blovatars (see Brian Baloney, stage right). Maloney and others spin it as stealing $500K from a minority summer boys&girls camp and Alzheimers patients. (The underlying fever-current involves fear that the liberal network has gained traction and innovation in the Limbaugh-ruled world of talk-radio. Not too puzzling that the right wing talkers lack anything by way of innovations such as show-based message boards, blog comment sections, streaming radio, Democracy Now! podcasts, archives, and satellite radio that the fledgling upstarts have pioneered. Transient bursts of outrage remains the right radio's only outlet. So in fear of their flabbiness getting out-muscled they must counter-attack.) As I write this, the local AssMissile radio show has just started to launch into it.

I donated to the AirAmerica/Gloria Wise free summer camp earlier this year via PayPal thanks to mentions by AAR's Morning Sedition. I felt good about it then, I still do.

I also donated to the Andy Stephenson fund (he of Black Box voting fraud fame) after AAR's Mike Malloy mentioned several times that he needed money for pancreatic cancer treatment. Even though I knew that pancreatic cancer leads to a death sentence, I felt good about giving and I still do today.

Well, Stephenson died July 7.

Sadly, rumors of fraud circulated his illness. One nut speculated on a diary that he faked his illness and even now continues bizarre conspiracies on a single-note web site.

The whole brouhaha over AAR will eventually come down to conspiracies. I see no difference between what they did to Andy Stephenson and Maloney's "investigation" of AAR.
The backlash falls into a couple of general categories. One group appears ideological in nature: Conservatives are attacking Stephenson because he's a progressive activist. "The right wing just went crazy," says Air America's Malloy. "This is one of the sickest things I've ever seen."

Mark Riley of AAR's Morning Sedition has a long history as a community voice in NYC. He provides the link to the flagship station's WLIB roots on AAR. He pushed the Air America Camp because he likely wanted to give back to the community. He and his cohost Marc Maron, told people on-air several weeks ago that donors could request a refund. I do not intend to ask for my money back.

Maloney, shame on you.

It takes a nation of millions of us AAR listeners to make a difference.

We will do it.

Yesterday, Spew Spewitt ranted up and down over this on his radio show; vile coming out of every pore. He raised lots of conspiracies concerning AAR funding.

I base all I know on trust.

I donated to Camp Air America based on AAR's Mark Riley mentioning the charity quite a bit earlier this year.

So the winger outrage has got all the stink of the alleged fraud surrounding Andy Stephenson's phony "illness". Well, he did end up dying of pancreatic cancer. I donated to Andy, writing out a check in his name and mailing it, full well knowing that that type of cancer meant a death sentence and that I would not get my money back. I only knew of Stephenson via AAR's Mike Malloy. Mike Malloy said to donate because Andy deserved a chance to live.

Spewitt deserves only shame.

So where did the $8.8 billion dollars in Iraq go and will we get our money back?

Update: Maha Daily Kos has a diary thread on the topic. Key point: fraudster Evan Cohen is a Guam Republican, and I believe he faked his miraculous recovery from brain cancer. And she has a full recap on her own MahaBlog.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The greatest single prize in all history?

Bob Herbert wrote a compelling piece in the NY Times on the topic of Iraq oil; compelling mostly due to the potential number of readers' heads nodding in agreement to the basic premise of the article.

However, when Herbert quotes author Daniel Yergin saying that Iraqi oil represents "The greatest single prize in all history", we see again how short-sighted even the best commentators remain. Clearly, Herbert did not go in for the kill.

So, the great prize will last how long?

Maybe several dozen years? This constitutes "all history"?

Instead, I would offer that the promise of Iraqi oil sounds like the single greatest booby prize for all of mankind.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Break The Rules

The organizers of the Solar Challenge vehicle race stretching across the USA into Canada should have opened up and relaxed the rules of the road. Another moment came Tuesday evening when, at the 11th hour, the team compiled an emergency 55-page appeal to dispute 40 minutes of penalties for alleged speeding violations. In particular, the penalties assigned to the winner of the race, U of Michigan, clearly made them the loser (ask any triathlete about the finality of penalties) to the ultimately second-place golden gopher U of M squad. According to the cliche, "rules are rules" -- unless, of course, someone whines and gets their way. However, in real life, we will have to take every conceivable shortcut to minimize our energy usage while trying to get from Point A to Point B as quickly and efficiently as possible. In this mode, Michigan clearly wins and the budding Minnesota engineers lose by playing by the rules and not going over the speed limit.

The Twin Cities paper shows homerism in these matters:
Most teams at national races are happy to show off their cars to one another. The University of Michigan, according to the Minnesotans, surrounds its parked car with police tape. All teams tend to guard the efficiency test ratings of their solar arrays, for competitive purposes, and view with suspicion any rumored numbers coming from other schools.

"You hear things, but they might just be trying to intimidate us," Pat O'Connor says of Michigan's technology.

"We can't even be sure what kind of efficiency we're getting," says Ellie Field, who designed Minnesota's array.

Minnesota's students are quick to contrast their no-outsourcing mantra with that of their rivals in Michigan, whose reported $1.8 million budget bought a satellite dish and state-of-the-art weather-trackers and allowed the team to farm out the production of most parts to Detroit automakers. The Minnesotans, who took to referring to Michigan's team as GM, spent about $325,000 on the car and the race.

"You'll see a lot less duct tape on our car than almost everybody's,"; Andrews says. "But you talk to Michigan, you don't get the feeling they know their parts enough to have built them. They're still a good group of guys."
Well, boo effin' hoo. I find the race fascinating only if every team goes all out and uses every technological trick up their sleeve and treats rules like dirt -- excepting the golden rule of not using any fossil fuel.

By the same token, I could care less if the steroid enhancements rumored about Lance Armstrong proved true. My brother, who watched Lance with a passion to the end, almost beat cancer with the help of powerful steroidal drugs. Yes, I know that anabolic steroids contribute to all sorts of wicked side effects, ranging from moodiness to cardiac problems, but we should not immediately dismiss the idea of veritable human energy machines travelling from Point A to Point B with the same efficiency as the solar cars. Kudos to you Lance, I agree with Ezra, drugs or not.

For a classic experiment in participatory journalism, you must read the article by Stuart Stevens called Drug Test originally published by Outside Magazine a few years ago. Stevens, who happened to have many years of experience in endurance RAAM-like bicycle events, decided to try out for himself how a cocktail of preformance-enhancing drugs improved his edge (and edginess).
A MONTH LATER, when I added a basic anabolic steroid to the mix, I felt like I'd grabbed on to a car moving at 60 miles an hour. The effect was powerful, fast, and difficult to modulate.

Dr. Jones gave me a steroids tutorial over lunch one day, at a Middle Eastern place on Ventura Boulevard. He explained how "steroids" is a broad term for various synthetic substances related to the male sex hormones, and that they promote the growth of skeletal muscle and the development of male sexual traits. Though each steroid has different effects, they generally increase the amount of nitrogen in the body, which in turn stimulates protein synthesis.

All of which is a fancy way of saying that steroids help the body create muscle. They're used medically to treat everything from anemia to leukemia to AIDS, helping patients build strength.
Now, remember that Stevens happens to lead quite a varied lifestyle, having served as GW Bush's long-time debate coach as well as having quite a reputation as a outdoor travel writer (coincidentally, my brother happened to cross Stevens' path in the Sahara as Stevens and his entourage gathered first-hand research for his Africa travelogue Malaria Dreams while he hitch-hiked north after completing Peace Corps/Malaria Acquisition duty). So I don't ultimately know what to make of Stevens veracity in any of these matters. It would not surprise me if Stevens got Bush going on his mountain bike escapades by telling DC wheel-man Bush some tall tales.

After all, anyone willing to work alongside BushCo likely does not care about bending the truth to their advantage.

As for myself, I remain a wimp when it comes to any kind of recreational or mind-altering drug..... But obeying traffic rules on my bike? Try to catch me coppers!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Delayed Bait and Switch

From the conventional news sources, we see highlights of the energy bill reported in bullet points:
* Bans oil drilling in the Great Lakes.
Well, I suppose I can put a ban on panning for gold in my bathtub, as if it made a difference one way or another.

But this reporting works effectively as a bait and switch tactic to demonstrate how much sensitivity the minions (and millions) of BushCo followers show to environmentally friendly energy policy, while they trash other areas that typically don't get reported.

The definition of the "camel's nose in the tent" appears when you see the following two items grouped together:
* Requires an inventory of offshore oil and natural gas resources, including areas off Florida where drilling is banned.

* Gives Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, not the states, exclusive authority to approve LNG import terminals.
Mike Malloy of AAR buzzsaws through all this phoniness on his show tonight. He hits at a minimum of three things right on the head.

Malloy first pointed out the "under five acre" provision for exceptions to fossil fuel extraction pollution controls:
Since 1970, the federal government has been required under the National Environmental Policy Act to assess the impact of federal actions. In recent years, some activists have used this law to challenge the rapid expansion of oil, and especially gas drilling in the West. This year's version of the energy bill passed by the House includes provisions to limit the environmental impact reviews of certain oil and natural gas operations. Proposed changes would affect reviews of individual drilling sites of less than five acres and disposal of wastewater from coalbed methane wells, if states have already allowed it.
This basically states that the vast majority of stripper wells, which sit on a whole lot less than an acre of land, have immunity to environmental laws. How convenient, and we will see lots of ads for get-rich schemes to install a derrick in your backyard, or maybe in your bathtub.

Secondly, Malloy pointed out even more transparent exceptions for polluters :
WONSTOLEN: The second provision would make it clear that hydraulic fracturing, which is a method of completing wells and stimulating formations to release gas primarily from tight, underground formations, is not subject to the underground injection control program of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

RAHER: Wonstolen says the Safe Drinking Water Act exemption is an important step that allows the oil and gas industry to develop more wells in a time when energy supplies are tight. But Nancy Sorenson, a Wyoming rancher, and volunteer with Western Organization of Resource Councils, says the industry doesn't need any more help.
Pretty scary stuff, as hydraulic fracturing involves explosives underground, which could do a number on aquifers, let alone the long-standing MTBE-style contamination.

Lastly, Malloy pointed out the disgusting Tom Delay rider on the bill:
Waxman said the $1.5 billion fund for ultra-deepwater drilling was added to the final energy bill this week after House and Senate negotiators called a halt to any more amendments. The 30-page measure appeared in the text of the energy bill after Texas Rep. Joe Barton had officially ended the House and Senate conference committee to combine legislation passed by each chamber, he said.

"Obviously, it would be a serious abuse to secretly slip such a costly and controversial provision into the energy legislation," Waxman said in a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

A spokesman for DeLay defended the fund, saying it was in the energy bill approved by the House in April.

"The project is only new to Mr. Waxman if he failed to read the House bill he had voted on," the spokesman said, adding he could not explain how the item was added to the final version of legislation prepared by the Senate and House negotiators.

Waxman said the fund would steer most of the money to a private consortium based in Sugar Land, DeLay's home district, by directing the Energy Department to "contract with a corporation that is constructed as a consortium."

Members of the consortium, Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, include Halliburton Co., Marathon Oil Corp. and several universities, according to the group's web site.

For the definition of criminal, see more here and from a Henry Waxman flash report.

Progression Politics

The radical middle wants cheap oil.

The radical middle wants cheap oil. So long as it doesn't have to conserve while drivin to their expensive house.

The radical middle wants cheap oil. So long as it doesn't have to conserve while drivin to their expensive house. They plan to do this by pushing lots of people below the poverty line, and yet still have people who can buy their expensive house.

They plan to do this by sending every young person to die in Iraq.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Easy Money

Stuff goes down the memory hole pretty quickly these days and anything having to do with complex financial pyramid schemes usually has the half-life of a fruit-fly. On that note, Digby resurrects the gutting of Iraq's finances in Bremer's Baby.

Towards the end, he mentions that a complete unraveling of the plot-line would require a movie treatment. Wise choice for the MEGO generation.

Scene: Pair of lucky goofs Monte and Nicky enter department store
Saleslady: "May I help you?"
Dangerfield: "No, thank you, we're just browsing."
Saleslady: "How long do you intend to browse?"
Pesci: "Hey, that lady over there, you didn't ask her how long she intends to browse....How come you askin' us, how long we intend to browse?"
Saleslady: "You don't look like browsers."
Dangerfield: "Oh yeah? Well, maybe I'm half-browser."
Pesci: "Yeah, on his father's side."
Dangerfield & Pesci (together): "browse ... browse ... browse ... browse"
Pesci: "No no, take the job, take the job. The first thing we'll do is fire that broad downstairs, who stopped us from browsin'."

I can see why Digby doesn't foresee any takers for the "Oil for Food" movie treatment.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Nation of Tar

Indirect evidence substantiates claims:
I am sitting in an office right now in Fort McMurray, Canada. I am trying to get my share of the tens of billions of dollars being invested right now in the oil sands all around me. What is amazing is that the tens of billions of dollars needed for this development will only produce a relative trickle of a few million barrels per day. The quantity of natural gas required for the production is enormous. The investors in these projects are betting that the age of cheap oil is over. I am betting that too and I am willingly risking my time and money on that forecast. -- CalgaryEng

A Nation of ... (watch out!)

Stuff like this happens.

I took a very short run on account of a cool spell tonight.

I ran with traffic.

A van coming in the opposite direction crossed over the right lane and tried to side-swipe me.

I essentially jitter-bugged out of the way without raising my BP.

Why did this not get my heart racing?

Because this crap happens all the time to us petro-atheist infidels.

As Lawton Smalls says:
God loves you ... Deal with it!

A Nation of Weeds

You know how oil depletion and global warming together makes an imposing pair of bookends?

Well, now we have GM Gone Wild to complete the matching set.

Phila brilliantly deconstructs an example of counter-culture backlash against organic groceries. Following the premise of Nation of Rebels: Why Counter Culture Became Consumer Culture, you can almost predict that some writer would cast away the one-time underground fad as it becomes mainstream and starts to tire them.

The conventional scenario: Fossil fuel usage begets global warming. A growing population demands more fuel every day, further exacerbating the cimate change steam-roller. Fortunately, oil depletion makes a timely appearance to avert disaster.

The new scenario: Fossil fuel usage begets petrochemical farming. A growing population in a shrinking footprint requires higher yields every day, putting pressure on the genetic engineers to whet the world's collective appetite. But the genetically modified food wreaks havoc on the corporate Big Farma. Fortunately, oil depletion makes a timely appearance to weed us off the GenetiPetro chaos, making room for the local organic gardens who can hand-yank the superweeds -- albeit, at much lower yields.

I will end it at that as I have limited practice at constructing die-off scenarios. Suffice to say, fashionable cultural trends take a back-seat everytime to making ends meet for the majority of the world, fussy NY Times food writers notwithstanding.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Outdoor Air Conditioning

I have never experienced the pleasurable effects of the MicroCool® outdoor air conditioning system myself, but vacationers and citizens of Palm Springs, Calif. apparently can't live without it.

Monkeygrinder's 'Cadillac Summer' post and comments raises some interesting issues on how to (or can we) avoid the heat with solar power. I know that SW thinks about this stuff a lot and worries about worse. My take concerns efficiency that rivals that of MG's trash returned on trash invested scenario (a very good point indeed).

So regarding making air conditioners out of solar technology, remember that this uses heat (i.e. infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light) to transfer unwanted heat to regions of progressively higher heat density. (And for PV, you use dark solar panels on your rooftop to keep the heat from being reflected) Without a prevailing wind to move the waste heat out of the way it becomes a real uphill battle. An imprecise but useful analogy: try using a high pressure water hose to remove water from a hole in the ground. You have to keep that hose going full blast 24/7 forever to keep the water from flowing back in. When you look at it this way, it seems preposterous and a borderline losing proposition in the long run.

Best bet: move

So he won again

I wish I could have a 20 person entourage at my side as I bike daily to work, ready to fix flats, exchange me a brand-new bike, or give me first-aid if I get run over by a lunatic.

In an interview broadcast today on CBS, Armstrong did not preclude politics in his future, with some speculating governor of Texas as a good bet.

The tale of the tape:

G. Bush L.Armstrong
Rides Trek Yes Yes
Needs large entourage Yes Yes
Accused of taking drugs Yes Yes
Hails from Texas Yes Yes
Long-winded Yes Yes
Has Gone Postal Yes Yes
Has measurable talent No Yes

Via FTD, a historical take on motivating the proletariat pelaton.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Behind The Scenes

Member of the Top 100 screwups, James Woolsey remains a shadowy, largely inscrutable neocon figure. Recently, Dick Durbin claimed Woolsey was trying to convince him to read a paper during senate hearings on the energy bill.

Senate hearings:

One of the aspects about this whole debate is security. In a paper that former CIA Director James Woolsey gave to me at a press conference a day or two ago, he identified six technologies that, with vigorous Government support, could dramatically change the nature of our fuel use in America over the next 20 years. I will not go through the list, but they are things that are already available. So when some Senators come to the floor and say we cannot imagine how we lessen dependence on foreign oil without dramatically tripling the fuel efficiency of cars, they haven't taken the time to do the research. If they did, they would understand there are plenty of technologies available today to reach those goals. ``I am not sure every one of these is going to be implemented,'' Mr. Woolsey advised, but at least it gives a starting point to make the changes.

The Woolsey watch.

Woolsey does all this stuff behind the scenes, BUT WILL HE DO IT IN VIEW OF THE MASS MEDIA? sadly, no.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Abiotic fuel believer, overlooked member of the Top 100 list, and peak oil critic Joe Vialls has "died".

We will have to run some deep core samples to confirm this....

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Top 100

Inspired by Bernard Goldberg's "100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is #37)", my list of 100 living (as far as I know) people who screw up any hope we have in fighting our way out of the U.S.A.'s energy predicament. No particular order (and none of this "group of people" nonsense that the intellectually dishonest Goldberg presents -- otherwise I would vote all the SUV drivers in the world as one item).
  • James R. Bath (mysterious Bush oil man)
  • David Bellamy (enviro turncoat)
  • Charles Johnson of LGF (nice roadbike, sad agenda)
  • S. Fred Singer (all-time denier, carries mantle of Julian Simon)
  • Tim Blair/Mark Steyn (are these the same person?)
  • Tom Coburn (Oklahoman called global warming, "just a lot of crap")
  • James M. Inhofe (Oklahoman, "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.")
  • Ernest Istook (Oklahoman, guilt by association)
  • Steven Milloy (junk author of the JunkScience.com projectionism exhibit)
  • Michael Guillen ("science" reporter)
  • Charles Krauthammer (armchair analyst)
  • George Will (armchair analyst squared)
  • Rush Limbaugh (fecal-nazi)
  • Donald Trump (abuser of outdoor air conditioning)
  • Bernard "Anita Bryant" Goldberg (!)
  • John Stoessel (weekly reporter of strange assertions)
  • Michael Reagan (moronic talk-show host)
  • Michael Savage (we agree with Goldberg on this one)
  • Ron "Wise Use" Arnold (an angry man)
  • Tom DeLay (a bad man)
  • Tim Lee (run-o-the-mill blogger)
  • Phil Gramm (grade-school failure, Texas economist cum senator)
  • Dave McGowan (taking up theories of Thomas Gold)
  • James Schlesinger ("Michael Mann responded, "I am not familiar with any peer-reviewed work that he has submitted to the scientific literature.")
  • Elliott Abrams (Project of the New America Century [PNAC] signer)
  • Richard L. Armitage (PNAC signer)
  • William J. Bennett (PNAC signer)
  • Jeffrey Bergner (PNAC signer)
  • John Bolton (PNAC signer)
  • Paula Dobriansky (PNAC signer)
  • Francis Fukuyama (PNAC signer)
  • Robert Kagan (PNAC signer)
  • Zalmay Khalilzad (PNAC signer)
  • William Kristol (PNAC signer)
  • Richard Perle (PNAC signer)
  • Peter W. Rodman (PNAC signer)
  • Donald Rumsfeld (PNAC signer)
  • William Schneider, Jr. (PNAC signer)
  • Vin Weber (PNAC signer and check kiter)
  • Paul Wolfowitz (PNAC signer)
  • R. James Woolsey (PNAC signer)
  • Robert B. Zoellick (PNAC signer)
  • Frank Gaffney, Jr (Neo-con who likes his Prius, how precious)
  • Grover Norquist
  • Alan Greenspan
  • Eric Drexler (cuz Smalley thwacks him good)
  • Chairman of Exxon (pick any living one, how about the one in charge of the Valdez)
  • Condoleeza Rice (favorite of Chevron)
  • Charles Koch (philanthropist of evil)
  • David Koch (brother of evil)
  • Martin Fleischmann (cold fusion scammer)
  • Stanley Pons (cold fusion co-scammer)
  • Margaret Thatcher (developer of the Enron scam)
  • Ted Stevens (porker, the Alaska Robert Byrd )
  • Robert C. Byrd (porker, the West Virginia Ted Stevens)
  • Bud Shuster (transportation pork barrel)
  • Philip Cooney (science rewriter, Exxon consultant)
  • Joe Barton (congressional Dilbert's boss of science)
  • James Baker (works for the highest bidder)
  • Amy Jaffe (works at James Baker Institute of energy propaganda)
  • George H.W. Bush (#41)
  • George Gilder (over-rated science writer)
  • Ross McKitrick (Canadian hockey-stick enforcer)
  • Ken Lay (Enron warlord)
  • Jeffrey Skilling (Lots of Enron possibilities in this list)
  • James Watt (Reagan dominionist)
  • Gale Norton (Bush dominionist)
  • Arthur Laffer (favorite Reagan economist)
  • Milton Friedman (favorite Reagan economist)
  • David Stockman (early Reagan henchman)
  • Ralph Nader (Gore!)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger (and his HumVee)
  • Peter W. Huber (MIT M.E. PhD who should know better)
  • Mark P. Mills (Huber's buddy)
  • InstaPundit (top-blogger, sits on a nanotech foundation board, but says nothing about oil depletion)
  • SpewSpewitt (spud)
  • AssMissile (son of spud)
  • Michael Lynch (conehead of Peak oil symmetry)
  • Emeritus Professor Philip Stott (Muppet-like global warming curmudgeon)
  • James Glassman (DOW 35000 and Tech Central Station dunderhead)
  • Michael Crichton (dinosaur writer)
  • Bjorn Lonborg (global warming skeptic)
  • Dick Cheney (Taliburton and the missing energy report)
  • George W. Bush (#43)
  • Ann Coulter
  • Sean Hannity
  • Pat Robertson (fundie dominionist)
  • D. James Kennedy (fundie dominionist)
  • James Dobson (fundie dominionist)
  • Spencer Abraham, Jr. (energy porker)
  • Dr. Ahmad Chalabi (Iraq oil minister, huh?)
  • Mitch McConnell/Elaine Chao (husband/wife duo of coal industry porking)
  • King Fahd (namesake of the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, hah!)
  • Granny Clampett (oil tycoon, for warning us about the Grunion Invasion but not about Peak Oil)

That's less than 100, but who's counting anyways?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Wing Nut Dog Food

I hope this innocuous crap does not get promulgated as evidence by the anti-science wing of the USA (i.e. the right) as elitism or outright fraud among academics. Why don't I think the following as anything extraordinary?
  • "Failing to present data that contradict one's own previous research" (6% of respondents)
  • "Changing the design, methodology or results of a study in response to pressure from a funding source" (15.5%)
  • "Dropping ... data ... based on a gut feeling that they were inaccurate" (15.3%)

Hint: honesty

If the right-wing pundits took up the reigns of honesty, they would try eating their own dog food and respond to the survey thusly:
  • "Failing to present data that contradict one's own previous knowledge, education, etc" (100% of respondents)
  • "Changing the design, methodology or results of a bloviation in response to pressure from a funding source" (100%)
  • "Dropping ... data ... based on a gut feeling that they were inaccurate" (0%)

But then again, the actual percentage quoted likely results from respondents feeling the heat from the BushCo crime family's war on brains, and deciding to tell it like it is.

c.f. - US Fish and Wildlife Service ordered to not use modern science -
[ Audio - MP3 ]

Update: Via AAR, a NOAA fisheries science survey says:

More than one third of respondents positioned to make such recommendations (37 percent) have “been directed, for non-scientific reasons, to refrain from making findings that are protective” of marine life and nearly one in four (24 percent) of those conducting such work reported being “directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information from a NOAA Fisheries scientific document;”

More than half of all respondents (53 percent) knew of cases where “commercial interests have inappropriately induced the reversal or withdrawal of scientific conclusions or decisions through political intervention;” and

More than half of the scientists (58 percent) knew of cases “where high-level U.S. Department of Commerce administrators and appointees have inappropriately altered NOAA Fisheries determinations.” A substantial minority (42 percent) also cited incidents where members of Congress “inappropriately influenced NOAA Fisheries determinations.”

Weekend Chores

Big Gav posted a reminder on how low-tech gear such as scythes can make a small dent in our energy usage.

As I tend to use both a scythe for weeds and a hand push lawn mower for grass, I thought I would toss out a few pointers.

Get a big sharpening stone to keep the blade sharp. Stroke in one direction only, away from your body to make it less likely to accidentally slice your hand in two. Alternate sides of the blade with each stroke. Make a lot of noise when you grind away, so the next-door-neighbors get scared.

For hand push mowers, learn the technique of removing jammed sticks without having to reach down with your hands. Essentially you instead stop pushing briefly and use the bottom of your shoe1 to spin the mower rotor backwards. This effectively dislodges the junk that gets stuck during the forward motion. Trust me it works, and saves lots of time if you have a woody lot. Of course, the alternative remains to just grow ground cover and you won't have to do any of this.

As for leaf blowers, wait for a windy day :)

1Feet also work for snow shoveling. I have perfected a really silly technique where I use my legs to methodically catapult snow off the shovel as I clear sidewalks and driveways. Good way for the footballer's in the neighborhood to keep in shape during the off-season.

Woodwork: Crawling out of the

Apuleius posted a Peak Oil trial balloon to the popular juro5hin techno discussion board.
The free market can drive people to try all sorts of things. But whether they succeed depends primarily on the laws of physics, which the free market cannot defeat. It cannot drive new discoveries of oil if there isn't any left to discover. It cannot get people to invent impossible technologies, but it can certainly get people to try. And people are already trying. Anyone who develops new solutions to our energy problems stands to gain such astonishing rewards, that it is ludicrous to think that if these rewards are increased by X amount, our savior will pop out of the woodwork.
A large percentage of the commenters in this thread have taken the attitude that a combination of market forces and technical advances will pull us out.
With low oil prices, what is the incentive to develop alternative energy sources? Who would invest in such an endeavor? Only governments, and ecologically driven individuals.

The thing about capitalism is that there is a limited amount of capital available for investment. That capital goes to what its holders feel is likely to turn the highest profit, quickest and with the least risk.

Until recently it was pretty certain that if anyone developed an alternative energy source that was cheaper than gas, OPEC would just open up the spigot, and lower the price of gas, thereby putting the alternative out of business.

This is what OPEC is all about. OPEC holds prices just low enough to inhibit the development of alternatives. Obviously, when the spigot is wide open, OPEC has lost its power. And for every dollar oil rises, investments in alternatives are that much more attractive.

So, increasing the rewards by X may be exactly what is needed. Because, the investment is Y, and if X/Y is not better than other investments, nobody is going to invest Y. The investment is potentially huge, like the infrastructure for distributing hydrogen.

Finally, I fail to see how this presents a major challenge to humanity. In the US most of that energy is just going to our convenience, luxury and leisure. It is hardly a catastrophe if our lives are suddenly somewhat less convenient, luxurious and leisurely.
and it also attracted the delusional techies who know a few BS buzzwords:
This is not about energy or the availability or oil or any other energy source. This is about greed plain and simple. It is possible to make practically unlimited qauntities of oil very cheaply using thermal depolymerization. Thermal depolymerization uses waste products to create oil including plastic, turkey offal, medical waste, and sewage.

But every technical discussion board needs it's requisite share of devil's advocates:
"not many long chain hydrocarbons in sh*t."

Update: To get the geeks and impressionable youth interested, Stirling Newberry describes "how hunting for pizza money is like oil."

Friday, July 15, 2005

U No Calories

When an American oil company no longer holds any rights to fossil fuel reserves on its home soil, should it remain a vital national interest? Allan Sloan of WaPo/Newseek posed that question in the form of an assertion on last night's Charlie Rose show. Sloan made it in reference to China's CNOOC offering to buy out Unocal, with the rationale that the majority of Unocal's holdings sit in southeast Asia.

The issue goes to congress, with, naturally, the right-wing the most vociferous in formulating an opinion:
"China's purchase of Unocal would dramatically increase its leverage over these countries and therefore its leverage over U.S. interests in those regions," [Rep. Duncan "Julia Child"] Hunter said.

Frank Gaffney Jr., president of the Center for Security Policy, said the pursuit of Unocal is part of a "larger, very determined and ominous strategy" by China to lock up oil and gas resources.

Of the energy wedge issues liable to waken up or divide both sides of the aisle, I can name three that will gain greater prominence in the next few months.
  1. China and Asia's pursuit of oil
  2. Ethanol production
  3. Tanking of General Motors
Interesting that each of these become wedge issues in that they force the right to consider strong government subsidies to counter capitalistic market forces in the presence of relentless fossil fuel depletion.

Time for Bush to demonstrate again how to unite and not divide.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


The players: Rove, Cheney, Bush, Cooper, Miller, and sometimes Novak.

A story that made the rounds last year, and one that Mr. Murder at DailyKos reminded me that I had posted earlier, has taken on new legs.

Actually, Mike Ruppert had earlier put the pieces together (see more here and here and here ). Bottomline: Saying that Valerie Plame worked on WMD intelligence provides cover for the real oil investigation (Saudi Arabia, ARAMCO, Oil-for-food, etc) she concentrated on as part of the CIA sting operation Brewster, Jennings and Associates. Jailbird Judith Miller probably knew something about what was going on. Matthew Cooper performed well as the compliant stooge.

Fine. So who's the mysterious Lawrence of Arabia in this scenario?

We will find the answer sooner or later in this timeline.

Smiley Face & King's Cross

That London bombing incident sucked any way you slice it. I learned about it here in the midwest listening to the Marky Marc's on AAR about an hour or two before my brother-in-law did toiling away in his office a few block's away from one of the bomb sites. After the incident, he went out during lunch and didn't notice any real difference in activity. Apparently the London Olympics selection spread through the grapevine faster than the bombing news -- at least in some circles.

I also heard since from my family that many people seemed befuddled how "clean skins" could do this kind of attack. Word also that the men had planned to distribute the bombing locations in the pattern of a cross (i.e. "burning" and emanating from King's Cross); however the temporary shutdown of one of the tube lines thwarted the realization of this plan.

This last part sounded familiar. Is it possible that the men from Leeds learned some creative symbolism from other "homegrown" terrorists:
CNN/May 9, 2002 Accused mailbox bomber Lucas Helder told authorities he was planting pipe bombs in a pattern to show a happy face during his five-state weekend spree.

I couldn't find anybody else making this correlation, but I can imagine if someone would resort to suicide bombing, doing a copy-cat of some home-grown lillywhite, clean-skinned American youth would not seem out of the ordinary.

Incidentally, here is how far the Wisconsin yute got:
This story, although only a couple of years old, has faded from view largely because as David Neiwert from Orcinus argues; asymmetric threats don't worry us.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Blog R&D ?

Oil depletion concerns have spun up many of the denizens at DailyKos into either widespread panic or delusions of grandeur; I can't really tell which.
  1. Jerome suggests investing in a dKos-branded wind farm. Out of over 500 votes, only 5% of the Kossacks frowned on the idea.
  2. Scientist Todd Johnston counters with an alternate strategy: 'Instead of a branded "wind farm," why not raise money for a dKos Alternative Energy Research Foundation?'

Too many comments, not enough time to separate the wheat from the chaff on this train of thought....... But wait a second, whenever I see ideas like this volunteered I subconsciously think back to Mr. Torvalds and his initial pleadings to support him in his quest for a community-developed open-source operating system. I do remember browsing through Linus's posts to various UseNet newsgroup forums in the early 90's and really thought it a typical tilting-at-windmills exercise. Like many suggestions of this sort, early adopters will often get burned, but then again you never know.

I did watch the first hour of the Bill Clinton/Ted Turner panel session on our energy and security future (via FTM). Impressive and informative, Clinton still has it and appears to understand all the details; Turner provided some additional good down-home sounding wisdom (C-Span archive available now). Put the big-name politics together with the grass-roots and we will probably get where we want to go a bit more quickly.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Unscrewing the Inscrutable

The pagan masses have taken over the reins at the Unscrewing the Inscrutable blog. A good-humored place for skeptics to post on science & politics.


Big Gav, maintaining a stoic delivery, compares simple energy devices with child's play.

The Jules Verne of our day, Bruce McCall, has had similar visions:

See also Space Flight Goes Commercial

BushCo sez A-OK

BushCo-approved energy and environmental consultants took a look at scientific data from the latest Gulf hurricane and proclaimed no problem.

Even walls of water can not squash our country's energy independence!

-- Additional reporting by Joe Barton. Photo courtesy of Philip A. Cooney.

For fair-and-balanced reporting go to The Oil Drum.

Update: George Monbiot makes the Barton/Cooney connection as well. "The only permitted answer to the effects of greed is more greed."

Interesting how BP could not afford a WebCamera on their $2 billion off-shore oil platform and were fortunate that "A passing ship sparked the alarm after spotting the Thunder Horse platform leaning at an angle of 25 degrees." Lucky that the SS Osama was cruising the other Gulf and was preoccupied planning on other targets. Jeebus.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Caution: Long Load

Via Jerome at Daily Kos, a discussion over wind power:

Question: If this hit a viscious cross wind, would the whole vehicle get airborne?

Red State Ignominiousness

Proof positive that right-wing righties run around screaming with fingers in their ears when somebody brings up the subject of Peak Oil. The politically neutral DarkSyde from the red state of Florida diligently tried to post his oil depletion nightmare story to the RedState.org SCOOP blog. End result: banishment.

Nothing overly offensive, unless we count dread as a primal fear prone to overly hysterical reaction, in the post.

Way to support a fellow red-stater!

Twenty-dollar title word courtesy of The Cardinal.

Part 2: A Macro Peak Oil Model

Based on feedback I received on Part 1, I created a few more plots which demonstrate trends if we change parameters of the model.

The assumption of first-order rate depletion (i.e. rate proportional to how much remains) has problems when considering extremely large reservoirs, where a constant depletion rate (or even increasing rate) can occur for a long period of time until we start hitting hard limits. Same thing applies for natural gas reservoirs (i.e. the "whipping cream container" phenomenon described in the Micro Peak Oil model).

Otherwise I believe a first-order rate remains a valid assumption; consumers historically have shown greediness in plundering any resource discovery. Market forces will tend to maximize the extraction in proportion to the amount available. Conservation of petroleum use during the late 70's caused a huge decrease in demand; before this time, people treated oil like an endless supply of water. In other words, in the old days, the spigot effectively had an opening proportional to the size of the reservoir.

So even though I think the first order exponential removal remains a valid assumption, the following graph shows the zero-order approximation -- extraction gets fixed to a constant rate for new discoveries. However, the total extracted remains the same as the first-order rate.

You can see the disappearance of the long tails as we remove the difficulty of oil extraction for depleted reservoirs. No, none, nada stripper wells in this zero-order model.

We can also change the discovery profile a bit to aid our intuition. Initially I set it as a symmetric profile (RED=forcing, YELLOW=response) which means that the peak discoveries occur at the midway point of the discovery lifecycle. However, we should equally consider the cases where we discover many of the reservoirs relatively early on (the "low hanging fruit" and "hunting elephants" phenomena). Here GREEN=forcing and BLUE=response. For completeness, I also added the late discovery profile to the chart, where VIOLET=forcing and TURQUOISE=response.

Even though I don't have belief in a forthcoming "just-in-time" late discovery model, the shape freaks me out a bit. Intuitively it means that once we discover the last reservoir, production starts its inexorable decline almost immediately. In general, the scales somewhat mirror the following (1) Early discovery - USA, (2) Symmetric discovery - The World, and (3) Late discovery - Parts unknown of Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Another thing to note: these models all have the stationary process property. Simply put, the rates don't change with time. One can argue this point as we expect that technology and population growth to exert an ever upward growth to extraction rates. I don't include it as it defeats the purpose of providing a simple underpinning to the understanding of the curves. Higher-order effects like this will simply change the tails at a scale of 10's of years. Clearly important for the actual peak oil date but not for understanding the general shape.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Part 1: A Macro Peak Oil Model

Last month I derived a Micro peak oil model that helped me understand the dynamics of extraction and production from a single reservoir. I noted that although it gave me a good intuitive feel for short time scales, it certainly wouldn't scale at the global level (i.e. the world Hubbert peak). Thinking about the a priori data we have available, I believe I can take a crack at such a global (or macro) level model. I make no attempt at getting all the details right. At this point, I want only to get my intuition on a mathematical footing, and then see how far I can mimic the gross features of the generic Hubbert curve.

The Macro Model

Once again, I simplify the relationship between reserves and depletion rates by relying on a first-order approximation: the rate of extraction per time is directly proportional to the amount of oil left.
dP(t)/dt = -r * P(t)
Lacking any additional information, this becomes the naive estimator for how something depletes; it also finds application in many other physical processes including thermal conduction and particle diffusion. In general, the relationship points to a reduced extraction rate as the availability or density of a resource depletes.

Of course, the first-order differential equation solves to a simple declining exponential.
P(t) = K * e-r*t
Obviously that doesn't complete the story as the exponential doesn't come close to approximating the asymmetrical Bell curve of the Hubbert peak.

A temporal driving force applied to the exponential allows us to mathematically intuit a better symmetry. To achieve this, we use the a priori assumption that discoveries provide the stimulus for extraction. Historically, discoveries start at zero, reach some peak, and then start declining over time. We have long since reached peak in discovering oil wells, so this becomes valid empirical data that we can use to model depletion.

Given that we have (1) a depletion rate model and (2) an empirical discovery model, we need to combine the two by driving the transfer function with a stimulus function. Mathematically, this key third step is typically solved by applying the convolution integral:

The order in the functions doesn't matter; intuitively, it becomes a kind of a moving average function applied over all points in time. I show the continuous variant of the convolution integral as well as the discretized version to illustrate how easily this can be computed.

At this point I don't want to use the empirical discovery function. Instead I use a simple triangular function to serve as a heuristic and something that we can easily parameterize. The result is shown in the following graph:

Don't take the peak date too seriously. This profile is meant to show how easily the asymmetrical Bell curve derives from such a simple model. (It is actually quite difficult to distinguish the rise from a Gaussian curve).

Maybe somebody has done the analysis this way already. I don't know; from the literature I haven't found it yet. At the PeakOil.com message board, a few people have been playing around recently with Logistics equations, Ricatti equations, and Verhulst equations and using non-linear estimators to come up with best fits to coefficients. Screw that nonsense. It bothers me that no one has developed some intuitive mathematics which clearly show the general trend of the Hubbert peak.

I will follow up this post with a Part 2 to clear up any loose ends. In the meantime, I attach below some GNAT code suitable for compiling with a GNU GCC compiler. It will generate a comma separated value output which I pulled into the spreadsheet chart above. Otherwise, you can transform the code to extract the algorithm.

with Text_IO;
with Ada.Numerics.Elementary_Functions;

procedure Conv is
type Flt is array(Natural range <>) of Float;

function Get (Arr : Flt;
I : Integer) return Float is
if I < Arr'First or I > Arr'Last then
return 0.0;
return Arr(I);
end if;

function Convolve (A, B : in Flt) return Flt is
Total : constant Natural := A'Length+B'Length;
C : Flt(0..Total);
V : Float;
for J in 0..Total loop
V := 0.0;
for I in 0 .. J loop
V := V + Get(A, I) * Get(B, J-I);
end loop;
C(J) := V;
end loop;
return C;

function Triangle_Window (L : Natural) return Flt is
R : Flt(0..L-1);
Half : constant Natural := L/2;
for I in 0..L-1 loop
if I < Half then
R(I) := Float(I);
R(I) := Float(L - I);
end if;
end loop;
return R;

function Exponential (L : Natural;
Alpha : Float) return Flt is
use Ada.Numerics.Elementary_Functions;
R : Flt(0..L-1);
for I in 0..L-1 loop
R(I) := Alpha * exp(-Alpha*Float(I));
end loop;
return R;

W : constant Flt := Triangle_Window(130);
E : constant Flt := Exponential(300, 0.02);
R : constant Flt := Convolve (W, E);
Year : constant Natural := 1900;
for I in R'Range loop
Text_IO.Put_Line(Integer(Year+I)'Img & "," &
Get(W,I)'Img & "," &
end loop;

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The London Eye

As Big Gav posts news that London may consider enforcing speed limits electromechanically, we also see how inner London congestion charges continue to rise.

The Congestion Charge is going up to £8 (€12) on Monday.

Whenever somebody tells you that €1000 is a lot of money to spend on a bike, you can say it is less than 4 months worth of Congestion Charge (and parking comes free too).

"What's the frequency, Kenneth?"

Seriously, I bet Mayor Ken will get asked this question more than a few times as distressed motorists try to figure out how to jam the speed monitoring system.

Salute to Dan Rather, the Nostradamus of the news business.

Update: Distraction in the U.K.
Unfortunate that Bush continues to crash his bike and injure himself even with round-the-clock monitoring at his side. Would that ordinary citizens get that kind of prompt assistance realizing they could recklessly careen down golf cart paths with a coterie of lackeys watching their backside.

Us mere mortals, with a flat 20 miles out of town, and no pump on hand, have to deal with the facts on the ground. Next time that happens, I want to try calling AAA and see what happens when they find a guy with a bike at the side of the road.

(Fellow Texan Lance A. also has his entourage in case of trouble, but he at least understands and has perfected the concept of pace. Bush compulsively and single-handedly gives American cyclists a bad name.)

The mythical Lava Dome

Recently I have gotten on the quality kick. Far too much of commercial gear lasts only in proportion to the estimated profit margin of the product. In other words, the Built-In obsolescence of fashionable shoddiness works to a company's advantage.

More than their debatable labor practices, I dislike Nike for playing the BIO game. About 25 or so years ago, Nike came out with a legendary pair of rock scrambling (aka approach) shoes. Called the Lava Dome, you can find people that still refer to the shoes with nostalgia.
oh yeah, and every old skool guy I ever head out into the mountains with comments that they look just like some mythical Nike approach shoe from back in the day that were so indestructible that Nike stopped makin' 'em cause the market was too small for a shoe that people only needed one pair ever of.
I remember these shoes well; I happened to like the shoes so much that I quickly bought a second pair (they didn't cost that much). I seem to recall imagining that Nike would not always sell Lava Domes, and sure enough they disappeared from the market in a few years. I know that many people bought Lava Domes even though they had no intention of doing any serious climbing, as they performed perfectly well for normal walking and biking.

Well, I still own the two pair. Light in weight but composed of indestructible hard rubber soles, leather, and tightly stitched uppers, the shoes do not wear out.

I dare any company to go bankrupt by plagiarizing the design. I doubt we will get any takers; Nike learned their lesson and has since made a fortune.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Car Free 2005?

When financial analysts say this about oil:
It is the biggest problem the world faces today.
and then when progressives like Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! say that so many of the world's problems are due to the greed for oil, we know that triangulation has started to take hold among the cognoscenti.

But what about those in the rank and file? When I heard the Goodman quote myself, in person, it did not register in me to make the same observation as John Akre:
As we were directing people into the church where the speech was to be, we heard the complaint over and over again that this was a hard place to find parking. The speech was in a church right downtown. Dozens of bus routes passed by within a few blocks. You could hear buses going by the open back door during the speech. There were bike lanes painted on the streets around here. We took the bus. There were a few bikes parked on the street poles on the sidewalk. But most of the people who came walked up from the direction of the parking ramps. Most people came to the talk by burning that oil that causes so many problems. Many of them came by exploiting that same greed and death. You would think they would have known better if they were coming to see Amy Goodman, but they did not know better. Either it did not concern them or they had some kind of block on their own implication in these wars and this misery.
Again it did not register with me to make this connection, even after biking to the event myself; I guess I just didn't hear the complaints because I slipped in there and got out without frustration. Mr. Akre had to listen to the "greedy" complainers first hand.

Conclusion: We're a long way from achieving the communal "tree hugging" stage of acceptance.

In any case, Akre has named this year Car Free 2005 in hopes of avoiding the metal beasts for the year. Even though he has not upheld his pledge 100% so far, he has at least showed diligence in reporting his progress honestly and with regularity.

Me? I wouldn't have lasted through January.

Update: Monbiot further discusses the difficulty of looking at ourselves in the mirror.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Hoyle and Gold

I always wondered what caused Cornell professor Thomas Gold to stubbornly believe in his abiogenic/abiotic petroleum theory, in which he postulated that oil could continuously regenerate from within the earth. Then I ran across this quote from his longtime colleague Sir Fred Hoyle from "Of Men and Galaxies," 1964 :
"It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing high intelligence this is not correct. We have, or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only."

This would have little relevance unless put in the context of their likely mutual rivalry:
As a young man during the second world war, Hoyle had worked in the Admiralty Signals Establishment and during that period he became friendly with Hermann Bondi and Thomas Gold. The ideas that led to the continuous creation theory were born at that time and in 1948 their historic papers on the theory were published. Although the names of Bondi, Hoyle and Gold are associated with that revolutionary theory, Hoyle's paper was published separately, two months later than the joint one of Bondi and Gold. The latter had stressed the philosophical aspect of a perfect cosmological principle in which the universe would have a high degree of uniformity not only in space but also in time, thereby evading the scientific problem associated with a beginning in a finite past time. Hoyle dealt with the continuous creation of the primordial hydrogen that would be essential to maintain the steady state, and placed the concept within the framework of general relativity.
Even though we will never know the true story here, as both Hoyle and Gold died within the last few years, I can imagine that Gold wanted to disprove Hoyle's assertion that the Earth's resources would eventually deplete. In a scientist/scientist matchup, Hoyle had the notoriety and the royal title; I bet Gold wanted a piece of the action. A valid abiotic theory would have trumped Hoyle on his past assertion as well as made him a star -- at least of the non Art Bell variety.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

World's Material Depletion

Quote of the [insert unit of time here] from William Tucker of the American Enterprise Institute writing in the WSJ opinion page:
The mystery of Saudi oil capacity bears an eerie resemblance to Saddam Hussein's apparent belief that his scientists had developed weapons of mass destruction.

It doesn't stop with the Saudi's pronouncements; lots of folks in the west believe what Aramco states -- just like they believed in Iraq's WMDs.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Elevated Flats

While doing some serious biking today (3 flatted tires! -- how typical), I listened to Ring of Fire, who had a caller ask about the obvious handouts in the U.S. Energy bill. Specifically the caller pointed to wording in the bill that host Mike Papantonio showed clearly excluded everyone but a single company from bidding. Note the elevation requirements from this CommonDreams article from last month that Pap reiterated:
a project to produce energy from coal ... mined in the western United States using appropriate advanced integrated gasification combined cycle technology that minimizes and offers the potential to sequester carbon dioxide emissions and ... shall be located in a western State at an altitude greater than 4,000 feet.
I have to laugh at this, because overly specific requests for bids happen all the time in scientific research circles. This kind of stuff occurs everywhere from research help wanted (where the job description will clearly point to a single individual without ever giving a name) to requests for proposals. However, you would think that our energy future should not depend on these kinds of games, and more importantly given out to some of the people responsible for the Enron debacle. Bullwinkle: Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat! Rocky: Not again...

More information on the scammers from Enron wrapped up in this charade here:
The same process is used by Syntroleum Corp. of Tulsa, Okla. At one time Enron, as well as Houston-based Marathon Oil Corp. and Texaco, held licenses to use Syntroleum's gas-to-liquids technology.

Something that occurs to me in my most insane moments relates to what authority a government (such as ours) has in opening up technological secrets that could really, truly benefit the country as a whole. In this case, if the crony hacks exemplified by Secretary of the (Enron) Army Thomas White and company could get the license to some Fischer-Tropsch gassification process, why doesn't the guvmint grab it too and open it up to a bunch of garage startups?

One could say the same thing about AIDS drugs in the Third World (if forgiving the debt is OK, why not cheap drugs?) and bank accounts in Switzerland held by evil dictators (cripes, bust in there and get the guy's dough - the Swiss are neutral and won't want to get involved!). (said only partially in jest)

Perhaps a bit inconvenienced by the flats, at least I did not get run over or pounded by a road rager today, unlike the lass in D.C. who displayed contempt for our Heritage (Foundation) by bicycling in an urban setting.

As I have illustrated in an old post, road-rage is used by these wingnuts to ostensibility prevent road rage:
"I'm tired of the sons of bitches on the road," 77-year-old Eugene A. Hruby reportedly told a Dane County detective.

Hruby, of Dane, was charged Wednesday with second-degree reckless endangerment.
"You tell them they are not tolerated on these roads," he reportedly said. "I'm trying to stop four or five of them from getting killed by road rage."

Update: I missed this one when it came out a couple years ago. It falls under the category of "celebrity newsman who drags cyclist for several blocks while apparently concentrating on reading the teleprompter in his Cadillac".

Friday, July 01, 2005

"Peak Land" and Sardines

The USA hit the milestone of "peak oil" around 1970.

Less well known but just as significantly, our nation reached "peak land" in 1810. This rather contrived concept describes the maximum average amount of land "owned" per citizen over time. For nearly two centuries, we have ridden the tail downward. Each successive year, the average citizen owns less and less land as the pie gets subdivided among a greater population base (from a maximum of 150 acres per person to less than 8 today). I graphed the following from census data.

The "peak land" actually occurred between 1800 and 1820 as the states of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Maine joined the union during those decades. Another mini-peak occurred in 1850 as Texas and California became states. That marked the last feeling of expansiveness that most Americans felt (apparently Alaska didn't even register a micro-peak).

What does "peak land" have to do with real physical constraints such as diminishing oil supplies? Probably not much, as land doesn't truly deplete like fossil fuels do -- but psychologically I think the process of dimishing land returns has much the same effect on people's mindset as constrained resources do. For example, witness what impact the latest ruling on eminent domain had on people of different political persuasions. And then think how people universally rise up when somebody decides to ration goods depending on social status.

In comparison to my thoughts on oil depletion, I feel rather ambivalent on the whole eminent domain issue. What the feds can take away, they can take away again. If land continually gets transferred to the most powerful, eventually something will snap. This will work its way out over time.

The good news? Our nation has had 200 years to psychologically prepare to get squeezed once again as global peak oil takes effect.

Sardines anyone?


This geographical oriented blog provides an interesting perspective on global resource issues. They have the latest info on the USGS's oil & gas assessment of the central North Slope, Alaska.

Found via browsing around the GeoURL site recommended by Tim Lambert at Deltoid. Kind of strange how many of the sites appear to emanate from the middle of the south Atlantic ocean (in fact how I found the Global Coodinate blog above).