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Sustainability:/Energy, Oil
September 09, 2010


Peak Oil Links and Publications.
March 18, 2004   Dynamiclist.com

  doclink

Although the world has not run out of oil and North America has not run out of natural gas, and there are still lots of potential kilowatts to create, we have run short of any way to grow the supply of each of these energy sources. There is little growth in worldwide oil supply from new projects coming on stream.
January 16, 2003   USA Today doclink

The Holdren Scenario
as presented by Paul Erlich

Population
[billions of people]
X Energy/Person
[killowatts = 103 watts]
= Total Energy Use
[terawatts = 1012 watts]
1990
Rich 1.2 7.7 9.2
Poor 4.1 1.1 4.5
5.3 13.7
2025
Rich 1.4 3.9 5.4
Poor 6.8 2.2 15.0
8.2 20.4
2100 10 3 30 (>2X now)
doclink
An Interview with Peak-Oil Provocateur Matthew Simmons.
November 06, 2005   Grist

Matthew Simmons, a well-connected industry insider has concluded that some of the world's largest oil beds may be on the verge of collapse. Author of the recently published Twilight in the Desert: The Coming, Simmons is founder of an investment bank that handles mergers and acquisitions among energy companies and has predicted that the price of a barrel of oil could hit the high triple digits within a few years. To postpone this he says we should be drilling in the Arctic and other contested spots. At the same time, he's calling for improvements in efficiency, as well as a return to local farming and manufacturing. He said that we are either at or very close to peak oil and have to assume that five or 10 years we'll be producing less oil than today. And yet we expect that oil usage will grow by 30% to 50% over the next 25 years. It's a problem that could end up leading to more geopolitical fights and give way to a very ugly society. The odyssey began in the early 1980s when Simmons realized that his firm was threatened by a collapse in the oil business. So many experts in the energy market, including government analysts, don't base their opinions on actual data, because the relevant data are confidential. No major oil-producer allows audits of the data on their reserves which leaves the experts playing a guessing game. An inventory of the top oil fields showed that nobody had ever listed even the top 20 oil fields by name. There are only about 120 fields in the world that produce half of the world's oil supply. The top 14, which make up 20% of global supply, are over 53 years old. In Saudi Arabia there are only five key fields producing 90% of their oil. During a trip to Saudi Arabia they plied us with data that didn't add up, even vaguely. The major Saudi fields are at risk of reaching their peak, at which point they will see their output decline. Simmons started a year ago saying that we need to prepare for triple-digit oil prices that will be set by demand and supply. Current oil prices are cheap, consider that $65 a barrel translates to 10 cents a cup, cheaper than bottled water. For decades, Saudi Arabia has been injecting water in each key oil field to keep pressure high. The Saudis are injecting between 15 and 18 million barrels a day of water to recover 8 million barrels a day of oil. What they are doing is rapidly depleting the high-quality, high flow-rate oil, so they'll be left with vast amounts of oil that just won't come out of the ground without massive water input or thousands and thousands of wells being drilled. Sadad al-Husseini, a former executive of Saudi Aramco, corroborated this thesis. The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia spoke at Rice University and said, "We're as transparent as anybody." Until we force that same standard of disclosure on Exxon and Shell and BP, there's no reason to expect Saudi Arabia to behave better. Ultimately, we have to create new forms of energy. Solar and wind are not helpful on the transportation front. Biofuels need to be examined, but corn-based ethanol is a scam because it requires such intensive oil inputs. There are some 220 million cars on the road in the U.S. and the problem with hybrids and hydrogen, which many people think is the alternative energy, is it will take 30 years to turn over the entire vehicle fleet. We don't have 15 or 20 years, much less 30. We have to find more energy-efficient methods of transporting products by rail and ship. We have to liberate the workforce and let them work in their village, through emails, faxes and video conferencing. We need to return to local farms and attack globalization. Manufacturing things close to home will begin to make sense again.    rw doclink

Peak Oil, Time, and Population.
August 30, 2010   countercurrents.org

There is a close relationship between peak oil and population. The world's present annual consumption of oil is nearly 30 billion barrels. The world's present population is nearly 7 billion.

The peak of world oil production is about 2010, and the most likely rate of decline after the peak is 6%. That means production will fall to half of the peak level in 11 years, i.e. in 2021.

Population size is directly correlated with oil supply. It is only with abundant oil that a large global population has been possible, and it was oil that allowed population to grow so quickly.

If oil production drops to half of its peak amount in 11 years, world population must also drop by half to 3.5 billion. A drop from 7 billion to 3.5 means that, the annual population decline rate will be 6%.

But how will it be possible to reduce the population from 7 billion to 3.5 billion in 11 years? Cutting the birth rate without increasing the death rate would not have a great enough effect on the final numbers. Since most of the people now living would still be alive in 2021, the population would not be reduced sufficiently. There is, in fact, no feasible political means of reducing population by 6% annually.

The only solution will be famine, chosen by Nature, as she does for so many other species. The process will be set in place by the decline in resources, and the consequent decline in industrial production. Without fossil fuels, agricultural yields will decline to about 30%. The famine has already started, to judge from the decline in world food supplies. Roughly similar declines will occur in everything from mining, electricity, and manufacturing, to transportation and communication.

Planning for such a scenario should have been started long ago. Even at this late date, however, what is needed is to accept the facts and to ease the way for those relatively few who will constitute the future of humanity.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: I question statements like "the most likely rate of decline after peak is 6%" A lot more information is needed here. Even so, there is no question that peak oil will bring a decline in food production and famine is the result. Already 2 billion people are malnourished.
How BP Gulf Disaster May Have Triggered a 'World-Killing' Event.
July 2010   Helium.com

Northwestern University's Gregory Ryskin, has a theory: The oceans periodically produce massive eruptions of explosive methane gas. He has documented the evidence that such an event was responsible for the mass extinctions that occurred 55 million years ago.

BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling operation may have triggered such an irreversible, cascading geological Apocalypse that will culminate with the first mass extinction of life on Earth in many millions of years.

The warning signs would be the appearance of large fissures or rifts splitting open the ocean floor, a rise in the elevation of the seabed, and the massive venting of methane and other gases into the surrounding water.

The people and property located on the greater expanse of the Gulf Coast will be the first exposed to poisonous, cancer causing chemical gases and the full fury of a methane bubble exploding from the ruptured seabed.

Methane is now streaming through the porous, rocky seabed at an accelerated rate and gushing from the borehole of the first relief well. The EPA is on record that Rig #1 is releasing methane, benzene, hydrogen sulfide and other toxic gases. Workers there now wear advanced protection including state-of-the-art, military-issued gas masks.

Reports state that the upper level strata of the ocean floor is succumbing to greater and greater pressure causing a huge expanse of the seabed-to bulge. Some claim the seabed in the region has risen an astounding 30 feet. The subterranean methane pressure at the wellhead has now skyrocketed to a 40,000 pounds psi.

Another expert has calculated that the ruptured well is spewing 60% oil and 40% methane. Other fissures, have been spotted as far as 30 miles distant.

Methane levels in the water are now calculated as being almost one million times higher than normal. If the methane bubble erupts, the ocean bottom will collapse, displacing up to a trillion cubic feet of water or more and creating a towering supersonic tsunami annihilating everything along the coast and well inland. Like a thermonuclear blast, a high pressure atmospheric wave could precede the tidal wave flattening everything in its path before the water arrives.

While some say the frozen underground methane sea is gradually melting from the nearby surging oil that's estimated to be as hot as 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the world-changing event does occur it will happen suddenly and within the next 6 months.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: we are still here, so maybe this is an exaggeration. But what about next time? Can we afford to keep doing this kind of drilling?
U.S.: Warning to Gulf Volunteers: Almost Every Cleanup Worker From the 1989 Exxon Valdez Disaster is Now Dead.
June 30, 2010   CNN

CNN reported that the vast majority of those who worked to clean up the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska are now dead, and that the life expectancy for those who worked to clean up the Exxon Valdez oil spill is only about 51 years. Considering the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is many times worse than the Exxon Valdez disaster, who would want to be on a cleanup crew. What we have out in the Gulf of Mexico is a "toxic soup" of oil, methane, benzene, hydrogen sulfide, other toxic gases and very poisonous chemical dispersants such as Corexit 9500.

The true health toll of this oil spill is not going to be known for decades.

Already a large number of workers cleaning up the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico report that they are suffering from flu-like symptoms. Exposure to the oil disaster has resulted in 162 cases of illnesses reported to the Louisiana state health department.

400 people have sought medical care for upper or lower respiratory problems, headaches, nausea, and eye irritation after trips to Escambia County beach.

If the Exxon Valdez oil spill is any indication, a lot of people are going to end up dying early deaths. But if we all refuse to participate, who will clean it up?    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: This is caused by a combination of overpopulation and overconsumption. The more people who wastefully consume fossil fuels, the harder it is to produce oil, and the more extreme measures are taken by oil producers.
Solar is Cheaper Than Coal.
May 17, 2010   Ashville Citizen Times

A new report called the "Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use", is the most thorough cost accounting of energy sources.
It shows how coal and other fossil fuels create enormous costs that the rest of us pay for. Whether we know it or not. The National Academy of Sciences reports that the damages from coal costs us $62 billion a year - 25% to 100% of what we pay for electricity from coal.

Those who say wind and solar are too expensive to compete with coal confuse price with cost. The hidden costs of oil are even larger. When you add up all the costs of all the different kinds of energy, solar and wind are often less expensive than fossil fuels. And the price of solar is going down, while the costs of coal and oil are going up.    rw doclink

The Imminent Collapse of Industrial Society.
May 09, 2010   Countercurrents.org

The collapse of modern industrial society has 14 parts. (1) Fossil fuels, (2) metals, and (3) electricity are a tightly-knit group, and no industrial civilization can have one without the others. The decline in fossil-fuel production is the most critical (4) food and (5) fresh water become scarce; grain and wild fish supplies have been declining for years, water tables are falling, rivers are not reaching the sea. Matters of infrastructure then follow: (6) transportation and (7) communication - no paved roads, no telephones, no computers. After that, the social structure begins to fail: (8) government, (9) education, and (10) the large-scale division of labor that makes complex technology possible.

There are four others that form a separate layer, (11) crime, (12) cults, and (13) craziness the breakdown of traditional law; the inability to distinguish mental health from mental illness. (14) chaos. From a chronological viewpoint, there is a clear division into two phases. In the first phase the major issues will be inflation, unemployment, and the stock market. The second phase will be characterized by the disappearance of money, law, and government.

Modern industrial society is composed of fossil fuels, metals, and electricity. Electricity, can be generated on a global scale only with fossil fuels. The same dependence on fossil fuels is true of metals; in fact the better types of ore are now becoming depleted, In turn, without metals and electricity there will be no means of extracting and processing fossil fuels. Electricity is the most fragile, and its failure will serve as an early warning. Production of steel requires 420 million tonnes of coke annually, as well as other fuels adding up to an equivalent of another 100 million tonnes. To maintain industrial society, the production of steel cannot be curtailed. But the interconnections among fossil fuels, metals, and electricity are innumerable. As each of the three members of the triad threatens to break down, we are looking at a society that is far more primitive than the one to which we have been accustomed.

The entire world's economy is based on hydrocarbons. These provide fuel, fertilizer, pesticides, lubricants, plastic, paint, synthetic fabrics, asphalt, pharmaceuticals, and many other things. We are dependent on hydrocarbons for manufacturing, for transportation, for agriculture, for mining, and for electricity.

Everything in the modern world is dependent on oil. As the oil disappears, our entire industrial society will go with it. There will be no means of supporting the billions of people who now live on this planet. Above all, there will be insufficient food, and the result will be terrible famine.

A good deal of debate has gone on about "peak oil," the date at which the world's annual oil production will reach (or did reach) its maximum and will begin (or did begin) to decline. The exact numbers are unobtainable, mainly because individual countries give rather inexact figures on their remaining supplies. The situation can be summarized by saying that at least 20 or 30 major studies have been done, and the consensus is that the peak is somewhere between the years 2000 and 2020. Within that period, a middle date seems rather more likely.

It seems to indicate an annual rate of increase of about 4% from 1930 to 2000, and an annual rate of decline of slightly over 3%, which would mean that around 2030 oil production will be down to about half of the peak amount. More-recent predictions of the annual rate of decline tend to range from about 4 to 9%. Starting at a peak of 30 billion barrels in 2010, a decline of 9% would mean dropping to half of that amount in 7 years. Advanced technology is used to maximize productivity, which in turn has the ironic result that when the decline actually occurs it is swift.

As oil declines, more energy and money must be devoted to getting the less-accessible and lower-quality oil out of the ground. As more energy and money are devoted to oil production, the production of metals and electricity becomes more difficult. One problem feeds on another. It is important to consider not only peak oil in the absolute sense, but peak oil per capita. The date of the latter was 1979, when there were 5.5 barrels of oil per person annually, as opposed to 4.5 in 2007.

New oil wells have to be drilled deeper than the old, because newly discovered deposits are deeper. Those new deposits are therefore less accessible. But oil is used as a fuel for the machinery and for the exploration. When it takes an entire barrel of oil to get one barrel of oil out of the ground, as is increasingly the case with new wells, it is a waste of time to continue drilling.

Much of modern warfare is about oil. The real "forces" are those trying to control the oil wells and the fragile pipelines that carry that oil.
Coal and natural gas are also disappearing. Coal will be available for a while after oil is gone, although previous reports of its abundance in the US were highly exaggerated.

Alternative sources of energy will never be very useful, mainly because the amount of energy output is not sufficiently greater than the amount of energy input. Fuel cells cannot be made practical, because such devices require hydrogen derived from fossil fuels; if fuel cells ever became popular, the fossil fuels they require would then be consumed even faster than they are now. Wind and geothermal power are only effective in certain areas and for certain purposes.

Nuclear power presents significant environmental dangers. Mainly because the US was the world's largest producer of uranium, the peak of global production was at approximately the same date. The mining and milling of such ore requires more energy than is derived from the actual use of the ore in a reactor. The world's usable uranium ore will probably be finished by about 2030, and there is no evidence for the existence of large new deposits of rich ore.

Solar energy is popular, but to meet the world's present energy needs by using solar power, then, we would need an array the size of France. The production and maintenance of this array would require vast quantities of hydrocarbons, metals, and other materials.

To believe that a non-petroleum infrastructure is possible, one would have to imagine solar-powered machines creating equipment for the production and storage of electricity by means of solar energy. This equipment would then be loaded on to solar-powered trucks, driven to various locations, and installed with other solar-powered devices, and so on. Such a scenario might provide material for a work of science fiction, but not for genuine science.

Without fossil fuels, the most that is possible is a pre-industrial infrastructure. The pre-industrial world did not include feeding 7 billion people. We cannot step back into Jane Austen's day, when the population was a mere billion. Those who expect to conquer the future with space-age technology will have to pray that nothing goes wrong with toys that were invented at a time of abundant petroleum and the machinery that went with it.

Figures from the US Geological Survey, however, indicate that within the US most types of minerals are past their peak dates of production. The depletion of all minerals in the US continues swiftly in spite of recycling. Iron ore may seem infinitely abundant, but it is not. Iron ore is becoming scarce.

Annual world production of grain per capita peaked in 1984 at 342 kg. For years production has not met demand, so carryover stocks must fill the gap, now leaving less than two months' supply as a buffer.

The world catch of wild fish per capita peaked in 1988 at 17 kg; by 2005 it was down to 14 kg. Over the past 50 years, the number of large predatory fish in the oceans has dropped by a startling 90%. The losses in the production of wild fish are made up by aquaculture, but this causes its own problems: inshore fish farms entail the destruction of wetlands, spread diseases, and deplete oxygen. Millions of tonnes of other fish must be turned into food every year for use in aquaculture.

Fresh water is declining in many countries around the world, particularly Mexico, the western US, North Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, China, and Australia. By the year 2025 about 2 billion people will be living with extreme water scarcity, and about two-thirds of the world will be facing water shortages to some extent.

The diversion of water for agriculture and municipal use, combined with the effects of global warming, is causing rivers to run dry. The Colorado, the Ganges, the Nile, and the Indus are now all dry for at least part of the year before they reach the sea.

Most countries with water shortages are pumping at rates that cannot be maintained. The shallower aquifers could be replenished if pumping were reduced, but the deeper "fossil" aquifers cannot be rejuvenated when their levels are allowed to fall.

Agriculture uses more than 70% of the world's fresh water and is mainly responsible for the depletion of aquifers of both types. This is leading to political strife. Because of falling water levels, new wells are drilled to greater depths than the old, with the result that the owners of the old wells are left without water. Sixty percent of the world's 227 largest rivers have numerous dams and canals, and there are not many other rivers that are free from such obstructions.

With technology that does not use fossil fuels, crop yields diminish considerably. Less than a third of the yield that a farmer would get with modern machinery and chemical fertilizer.

A hard-working adult burns about 1 million calories per year. The food energy from a hectare of corn grown with "low technology" is about 9 million calories. Under primitive conditions, then, 1 hectare of corn would support only 9 people.

We need to allow for fallow land, cover crops, and green manure, for inevitable inequities in distribution, and for other uses of the land. We must account for any rise in population. A far more realistic ratio would be 4 people to each hectare of arable land.

In the entire world there are 15,749,300 km 2 of arable land. This is 11 percent of the world's total land area. The present world population (in 2010) is about 6.9 billion. Dividing the figure for population by that for arable land, we see that there are about 440 people per km 2 of arable land. In other words, we have already reached the limits of the number of people who can be supported by non-mechanized agriculture.

The world's population went from about 1.7 billion in 1900 to 2.5 in 1950, to nearly 7 billion in 2010. It has been said that without fossil fuels the population must drop to about 2 or 3 billion. The above figures on arable land indicate that in terms of agriculture alone we would not be able to accommodate the present number of people.

It is only with abundant oil that a large population is possible. It was industrialization, improved agriculture, improved medicine, the expansion of humanity into the Americas, and so on, that first created the modern rise in population, but it was oil in particular that made it possible for human population to grow as fast as it has been doing. But the world a hundred years from now might not be a mirror image of the world of a hundred years in the past. The general depletion of resources might cause such damage to the structure of society that government, education, and intricate division of labor will no longer exist.

Overpopulation is the overwhelming ultimate cause of systemic collapse. It is also countered by the simple statement that people should not have children if they have no means of feeding them. Overpopulation can always be passed off as somebody else's problem. Without a central governing body that is both strong and honest, it is that very lack of strength and honesty that makes traditional democracy an anachronism. For all that might be said against their politics and economics, it is the Chinese who have made the greatest effort at dealing with excess numbers, although even their efforts can hardly be considered a success.

Discussion of overpopulation is the Great Taboo. Politicians will rarely touch the issue, although we no longer hold our breaths waiting for such people to speak the truth about anything. Even the many documents of the United Nations merely sidestep the issue by discussing how to cater to large populations, in spite of the fact that such catering is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

In view of the general unpopularity of family-planning policies, it can only be said euphemistically that nature will decide the outcome.

Humanity has struggled to survive in terms of balancing population size with food supply. The same is true now, but population numbers have been soaring for over a century. Famine caused by oil-supply failure alone will probably result in about 2.5 billion above-normal deaths before the year 2050.

The increase in the world's population has followed a simple curve: from about 1.7 billion in 1900 to about 6.1 billion in 2000. A quick glance at a chart of world population growth, on a broader time scale, shows a line that runs almost horizontally for thousands of years, and then makes an almost vertical ascent as it approaches the present. That is not just an amusing curiosity. It is a shocking fact that should have awakened humanity to the realization that something is dreadfully wrong.    rw doclink

World Oil Reserves at 'Tipping Point'.
March 26, 2010   Science News

The age of cheap oil has now ended as demand starts to outstrip supply. The current oil reserve estimates should be downgraded from between 1150-1350 billion barrels to between 850-900 billion barrels, based on recent research. The common belief that alternative fuels such as biofuels could mitigate oil supply shortages and eventually replace fossil fuels is pie in the sky. There is not sufficient land to cater for both food and fuel demand.

We have to make better use of the remaining resources by improving energy efficiency. Alternatives such as a hydrogen economy and electric transportation will only play a major role in the medium to long term.'

Oil supply challenges will be compounded by rising demand and strengthening environmental policy. Mitigating the oil crunch without using lower grade resources such as tar sands is the key to maintaining energy stability and a low carbon future.

Political and financial objectives have led to misreporting of oil reserves.
We have to face up to a future of oil uncertainty much like the global economic uncertainty we have faced during the past two years. This will have a longer term effect on our economies unless swift action is taken by governments and business. Oil is a finite resource. We need to look at other low carbon alternatives and make the necessary funding available.

Additional demand for oil could be met by non- conventional methods, such as the extraction of oil from Canada's tar sands. However, these methods have a far higher carbon output than conventional drilling, and have been described as having a double impact on emissions owing to the emissions produced during extraction as well as during usage.    rw doclink

Where Has the Oil Gone?.
March 12, 2010   Environmental News Network

Sooner or later oil will run out. Several Kuwait scientists have studied this matter with a multicycle Hubbert model. In 2008 the price per barrel rose to $140 which was an all time high; then the price plunged to less than $50/barrel losing more than 64% of the maximum price in less than a three months period. This behavior affected oil production in all exporting countries.

Yet despite the fluctuations, demand for oil in some countries, such as China and India, has increased because of the rapid growth in the transportation sector and consumer demand. Yet world oil supplies have to come to an end.

Forecasting the future is difficult, some new supply source may be discovered is one example. Demand may increase and wars consume yet more. Alternate energy sources may also be discovered.

Accurate prediction of oil production is affected by fluctuating ecological, economical, social, and political factors.

The Kuwait study was done to predict world crude oil supply with better accuracy.

The original Hubbert peak theory says that for any given area, the rate of petroleum production tends to follow a bell shaped curve.

Early in the curve (pre-peak), the production rate increases because of the discovery rate. Late in the curve (post-peak), production declines because of resource depletion. Hubbert's Peak was reached in the continental US in the early 1970s, and peaked at 10.2 million barrels a day. Since then, it has been in a gradual decline.

The Kuwait approach overcomes the limitations and restrictions of the original Hubbert model with more than one cycle depending on the historical oil production trend and known oil reserves. The world production is estimated to peak in 2014 at a rate of 79 million barrels/day. OPEC has a remaining reserve of 909 barrels, which is about 78% of the world reserves.

OPEC production is expected to peak in 2026 at a rate of 53 million barrels/day. On the basis of 2005 world crude oil production and current recovery techniques, the world oil reserves are being depleted at an annual rate of 2.1%.

Other models predict peak oil production to occur anywhere from today to 2030. The exact date will not be known until it happens. A new lifestyle for all of us will have to happen sooner or later.    rw doclink

Where Has the Oil Gone? .
March 12, 2010   Environmental News Network

Sooner or later oil will run out. Several Kuwait scientists have studied this matter with a multicycle Hubbert model. In 2008 the price per barrel rose to $140 which was an all time high; then the price plunged to less than $50/barrel, losing more than 64% of the maximum price in less than a three months period. This behavior affected oil production in all exporting countries.

Yet despite the fluctuations, demand for oil in some countries, such as China and India, has increased because of the rapid growth in the transportation sector and consumer demand. Yet world oil supplies have to come to an end.

Forecasting the future is difficult, some new supply source may be discovered is one example. Demand may increase and wars consume yet more. Alternate energy sources may also be discovered.

Accurate prediction of oil production is affected by fluctuating ecological, economical, social, and political factors.

The Kuwait study was done to predict world crude oil supply with better accuracy.

The original Hubbert peak theory says that for any given area, the rate of petroleum production tends to follow a bell shaped curve.

Early in the curve (pre-peak), the production rate increases because of the discovery rate. Late in the curve (post-peak), production declines because of resource depletion. Hubbert's Peak was achieved in the continental US in the early 1970s, and peaked at 10.2 million barrels a day. Since then, it has been in a gradual decline.

The Kuwait approach overcomes the limitations and restrictions of the original Hubbert model with more than one cycle depending on the historical oil production trend and known oil reserves. The world production is estimated to peak in 2014 at a rate of 79 million barrels/day. OPEC has a remaining reserve of 909 barrels, which is about 78% of the world reserves.

OPEC production is expected to peak in 2026 at a rate of 53 million barrels/day. On the basis of 2005 world crude oil production and current recovery techniques, the world oil reserves are being depleted at an annual rate of 2.1%.

Other models predict peak oil production to occur anywhere from today to 2030. The exact date will not be known until it happens. A new lifestyle for all of us will have to happen sooner or later.    rw doclink

Untold Billions: Fossil-Fuel Subsidies, Their Impacts and the Path to Reform.
March 2010   The Global Subsidies Initiative

Subsidies can be justified in theory if they promote an overall increase in social welfare. However, the consensus of expert opinion is that fossil-fuel subsidies have a net negative effect, both in individual countries and on a global scale. Fossil-fuel subsidies alter fossil-fuel prices, leading to market distortions with consequences that go well beyond the specific policy objective that the subsidy is intended to achieve. These distortions have wide environmental, economic and social impacts, in many cases increasing energy consumption and GHG emissions, straining government budgets, diverting funding that could otherwise be spent on social priorities such as healthcare or education, and reducing the profitability of alternative energy sources.

To view the full report, follow the link in the headline above.   doclink

U.S.: Coal-Fired Power on the Way Out?.
February 23, 2010   Earth Policy Institute - Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

The principal reason for opposing coal plants is that they are changing the earth's climate. There is also the effect of mercury emissions on health and the 23,600 U.S. deaths each year from power plant air pollution.

The Sierra Club reports that 123 plants have been defeated, with another 51 facing opposition in the courts. Of the 231 plants being tracked, only 25 currently have a chance at gaining the permits necessary to begin construction and eventually come online. What began as a local resistance to coal-fired power evolved into grassroots opposition from environmental, health, farm, and community organizations. The American public is turning against coal.

One of the first setbacks came in 2007 when a coalition headed by the Environmental Defense Fund took on Texas- based utility TXU's plans for 11 new coal- fired power plants. A quick drop in the utility's stock price caused by the media storm prompted a $45-billion buyout offer from two private equity firms. However, only after negotiating a ceasefire with EDF and the Natural Resources Defense Council and reducing the number of proposed plants from 11 to 3, thus preserving the value of the company, did the firms proceed with the purchase. It was a major win for the environmental community, which mustered the public support necessary to stop 8 plants outright and impose stricter regulations on the remaining 3. Meanwhile, the energy focus in Texas has shifted to its vast wind resources.

In May 2007, Florida's Public Service Commission refused to license a huge $5.7 billion, 1,960-megawatt coal plant because the utility could not prove that building the plant would be cheaper than investing in conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy sources.

This point, made by Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental legal group, combined with strong public opposition to any more coal-fired power plants in Florida, led to the quiet withdrawal of four other coal plant proposals in the state.

In July 2007, Citigroup downgraded coal company stocks across the board and recommended that its clients switch to other energy stocks. In January 2008, Merrill Lynch also downgraded coal stocks. In early February 2008, investment banks Morgan Stanley, Citi, and J.P. Morgan Chase announced that any future lending for coal-fired power would be contingent on the utilities demonstrating that the plants would be economically viable with the higher costs associated with future federal restrictions on carbon emissions.

In August 2007 U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada announced that he was now against building coal-fired power plants anywhere in the world. Al Gore has also voiced strong opposition to building any coal-fired power plants. So too have many state governors, including those in California, Florida, Michigan, Washington, and Wisconsin.

One of the unresolved burdens haunting the coal sector, in addition to the emissions of CO2, is what to do with the coal ash—the remnant of burning coal—that is accumulating in 194 landfills and 161 holding ponds in 47 states. This ash is not an easy material to dispose of since it is laced with arsenic, lead, mercury, and many other toxic materials. The industry's dirty secret came into full public view just before Christmas 2008 when the containment wall of a coal ash pond in eastern Tennessee collapsed, releasing a billion gallons of toxic brew. Unfortunately, the industry does not have a plan for safely disposing of the 130 million tons of ash produced each year, enough to fill 1 million railroad cars. The dangers are such that the Department of Homeland Security tried to put 44 of the most vulnerable storage facilities on a classified list lest they fall into the hands of terrorists.

Climate scientists such as NASA's James Hansen, who says that it makes no sense to build coal-fired power plants when we will have to bulldoze them in a few years.

With more efficient lighting and appliances, if the efficiency level of the other 49 states were raised to that of New York, the most energy-efficient state, the energy saved would be sufficient to close 80% of the country's coal- fired power plants. The few remaining plants could be shut down by turning to renewable energy—wind farms, solar thermal power plants, solar cell rooftop arrays, and geothermal power and heat.

The handwriting is on the wall. With the likelihood that few, if any, new coal-fired power plants will be approved in the United States, this will send a message to the world. Denmark and New Zealand have already banned new coal- fired power plants. Other countries are likely to join this effort to cut carbon emissions.

Even China, which was building one new coal plant a week, is surging ahead with harnessing renewable energy development and will soon overtake the United States in wind electric generation. These and other developments suggest that the Plan B goal of cutting net carbon emissions 80% by 2020 may be much more attainable than many would have thought.    rw doclink

The Peak Oil Crisis: the Crunch.
February 18, 2010   Post Carbon Institute

The new report, produced by the UK's Industry Taskforce for Peak Oil and Energy Security, updates the estimates of when oil demand exceeds production, which will account for the global economic slowdown. The unbiased attention that has been given to the report including that of the British government shows that a wider understanding of the problem is starting to take hold.

The first two variables determining the timing of the crunch encompass the balance of new oil supplies and declining production from existing oil fields.

The report says from 2011 on, the relentless drop in production of just over 4 million b/d from the fields that are currently producing about 85 million barrels a day will be barely balanced with production from new projects through 2014. After that world production will decline.

The world's ability to keep increasing its oil production will come to an end this year after 150 years of more or less steady growth. While new production will continue, these projects are five to ten years away from significantly adding to global production and likely will be overbalanced by the 4 million b/d annual drop in production from existing fields. New production will slow the depletion, but not enough to allow for global economic growth.

Currently world oil production is running about 85 million b/d; however, there is said to be another 6 or so million b/d of unused productive capacity that could start producing oil in a few months. Although some are skeptical about the size and quality of this "reserve capacity" which is in Saudi Arabia, in theory it could keep the lid on prices for a while.

The third major variable will be the growth or decline in global demand for oil. Demand from the US and other OECD nations appears to be falling slowly and all eyes are on China, India and other developing countries where demand grew rapidly in 2009 and shows every indication of continuing to increase in 2010 and beyond.

The best current thinking on the peak oil situation concludes that world oil production will stop growing at the end of this year; will balance annual global depletion of 4 million b/d for the next four years or so; and then enter into irreversible decline.

Geopolitical disruptions of oil supplies could, of course, trigger off price spikes at any time.

Governmental restrictions on carbon emissions could reduce the demand for oil and delay the task force's crunch beyond 2015.

Chris Barton, the government official responsible for Britain's energy security, and acknowledged that the government really does not know when peak oil will occur but acknowledged the risks could be serious.    rw doclink

Peak Possibilities.
November 21, 2009   Time Magazine

In July 2006, the world's oil rigs pumped out crude at a rate of nearly 85.5 million bbl. a day. Since then, production has lessened, even as prices have risen from $75 to $98 per bbl.

A lot of geologists, a few billionaire investors, and various survivalists call this peak oil, with the middle to end of this decade as a likely turning point.

But the oil industry and the government agencies that work with it say that, to call it peak oil, is premature, that production will soon begin rising again, peaking at more than 110 million bbl. a day around 2030. There have been temporary drops in oil production before, usually during global economic slowdowns. But even 2030 is alarming, with most optimists agreeing on that figure.

Recently, however, chief executives of ConocoPhillips and French oil giant Total both declared that they can't see oil production ever topping 100 million bbl. a day. The International Energy Agency warned that "new capacity additions will not keep up with declines at current fields and the projected increase in demand."

This doesn't mean that oil production has peaked: some call it "peak lite," where the big issues are not so much geological as political, technical, financial and even human-resource-related (the world apparently suffers from a dearth of qualified petroleum engineers). In this scenario, production would not so much peak as plateau. But with demand rising sharply, especially from China and India, even a plateau could be precarious.

There are still massive reserves available in Canadian tar sands, Colorado shale, Venezuelan heavy oil and other unconventional deposits. But most of this oil is hard to extract and even harder to refine, thus it won't make up a significant share of global production anytime soon. Most experts agree that the pumping of conventional oil outside the OPEC has already peaked or will peak soon, even with discoveries like the recent 8 billion-bbl. find off the coast of Brazil.

OPEC currently accounts for 41% of world oil production. Optimists believe this share will rise dramatically in the coming decades.

Pessimists, like energy-industry investment banker Matt Simmons, in his 2005 book Twilight in the Desert, questioned whether Saudi Arabia, OPEC's top producer, really can pump much more oil than it does now. Saudi output has dropped from 9.6 million bbl. a day to 8.6 million since the book was published, despite rising prices.

Saudi officials say they could up production at any time, saying the high prices are the fault of participants in futures markets and the falling dollar, not low production.

If in the coming years OPEC's members cannot boost production, we should have a global summit and say, "Gentlemen, it's nobody's fault, but we've peaked," says Simmons. "We've got to embrace some conservation practices that are draconian, or we will be at war with each other."

The oil peakists figure that cheap oil is the essential fuel of modern capitalism, which will founder without it. Hopefully it is more true that innovation is the essential fuel of modern capitalism and that high oil prices will drive rapid advances in conservation and alternative energy.   doclink

Karen Gaia says: who is right - optimists or pessimists? We can pray that it is the optimists, but we should be prepared in case the pessimists are correct. In any case, curtailing use of oil is the right answer. If you don't think we have a choice, then think again, or a worse choice will be forced upon us.
Peak Water.
September 2009   TheBurningPlatform.com

Since the earth is 70% covered by water, and the water cycle replenishes water on a continuous basis, the idea of 'peak water' may seem strange for most people.

Glaciers are melting and oceans are rising, which means water will be more plentiful. But it is the location of the water that matters. Shortages in the wrong places could lead to food shortages, famine, and starvation in those regions, and effect the economic future of nations.

Many politicians have ignored resource issues for the last 30 years of debt- financed good times with relatively low prices for all natural resources and commodities.

Investment manager Jeremy Grantham says "We must prepare ourselves for waves of higher resource prices and periods of shortages unlike anything we have faced outside of wartime conditions."

Comparing peak oil to peak water:

While oil is non-renewable and limited, it is replaceable by other more costly alternatives; water is renewable and relatively unlimited, but there is no substitute and it is only useful in the precise places.

Oil is finite, while water is literally finite, but nearly unlimited at a cost.

Long-distance transport of oil is economically viable while with water it is not.

If the world's population grows from 6.7 billion people to 7.5 billion by 2020 - a possible projection by the U.N., water use would increase by 40% to support the food requirements of the additional people. 1.8 billion people would be living in regions with extreme water scarcity.

Since the U.S. is an exporter of wheat, soybeans, rice and corn ($80 billion worth in 2008), drought or additional consumption in the areas where these crops are grown would have worldwide implications.

70% of the globe is covered by water, but most of it is saltwater. Desalinization can convert saltwater into freshwater, but it is only useful on coastlines and is 15 times more expensive than natural freshwater.

2% of the earth's water is considered freshwater, most of which is locked up in glaciers, permanent snow cover and in deep groundwater.

Challenges of freshwater:
* Uneven distribution on the planet
* Economic and physical constraints of tapping glacial water
* Contamination of supplies
* High distribution costs

Regional scarcity solutions are not easy:
* Reduce demand
* Move the demand to where water is available.
* Shift to costly sources, such as desalinization.

In the Southwest U.S., much of it desert, solutions are difficult. Lake Mead, the country's largest artificial body of water, which provides water to Arizona, California, Nevada and northern Mexico is dangerously depleted. Housing developments in this region have been stopped by lack of water.

On the Colorado River there is more water allocated than there is water, which is not a problem as long as some people are willing to sell their water. For example, Chevron leases water from its shale oil project to the city of Las Vegas for drinking water. The day may come when Chevron won't extend the lease.

Many areas are using ground water that will be used up entirely in just a few decades.

In the U.S., suburban sprawl, with its lawns and ponds, has put intense pressure on local water supplies. In drought years Maryland, Virginia and the District fight over the Potomac water - lawns sucking up 85% of the river's flow. 67 million more people are expected to inhabit the United States by 2030, making water shortages even more severe.

In the midwest, parts of the Ogallala Aquifer - the great underground reservoir stretching from Texas to South Dakota - has started to run dry. "When you go to your house and turn the shower on and there is no water, it's a serious situation'" a farmer says.

In the last 10 years there has been a steady erosion in the amount of grain grown per capita. With developing countries growing rapidly, the need for imports of grain could drive up the cost of food everywhere.

The Chinese are converting farmland to industrial uses, while at the same time demanding more meat and grains in their diet. The price spike in 2007 and 2008 is a sign of a costly future for consumers. According to the U.N. in 2008, global food reserves were at their lowest level in 30 years

We should call them peak cheap oil and peak cheap water, instead of just peak oil and peak water, because the cost of producing or supplying them will continue to rise.

Food shortages and skyrocketing commodity prices are inevitable, with peak water playing significant role. The evidence is before our eyes:
* Droughts in key farming belt areas
* Less snow pack in the mountains
* Contamination of freshwater sources by industrial waste
* Soil erosion
* Depletion of underground aquifers
* Higher oil prices, fertilizer costs, food transportion
* Bio-fuels as an energy source.
* Worldwide population growth
* Middle class enrichment of diets worldwide.

We know that peak oil is the more likely trigger for armed conflict. For example, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor because the U.S. was cutting off its oil supply. The Middle East, Russia, Brazil, Canada have the oil, while the United States, China, Europe, Japan need the oil. The struggle resulting from peak water is not yet on the radar screen, but is coming up.   doclink

Peak Oil Day.
July 07, 2009   Richard Heinbergs Museletter

Interview with Herve Duval by Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute

It has become evident that oil has peaked in 2008 and the author suggests July 11, 2008 as Peak Oil Day

The media has led us to believe that the origin of the financial crisis is found within the financial system. The lack of confidence in future growth due to cheap oil production peaking may also be a major factor.

In 2008 we saw the biggest energy price spike ever. Energy price spikes have historically led to recessions, and this recession began somewhat earlier than expected and was deeper and more persistent than any other in recent decades.

Bubbles in the housing and finance sectors made financial collapse inevitable. While the fall in real estate values and rise in foreclosures are not directly related to oil, the impacts on the airline, trucking, and automotive industries are largely from energy prices.

We have been conditioned to expect to always have increasing amounts of cheap energy with which to power the engines of production, which has become an expectation of growth, leading to ever-increasing levels of debt and in increased financial leveraging. When the amount of energy available started to level off or decline, the entire financial house of cards came tumbling down.

World leaders assume the crisis to be financial in origin, and so it must also be transient: we think all we have to do is prop up the banks sufficiently and the economy will begin to grow again. But with declining energy supplies, the economy cannot grow.

We need an economy that can supply basic human needs without increasing the rate at which we consume resources. We need monetary systems and financial institutions that are not based on debt, interest, and leveraging.

Speculation in energy futures does not help us adjust to the winding down of cheap fuel. There will continue to big swings in fossil fuel prices unless controls are imposed. When fuel prices rise, the economy takes a hit. When the price collapses, that discourages investment in future energy production.

OPEC increases or decreases production to keep the oil price steadier than it would otherwise be. But with declining production and little or no spare production capacity, this cannot be done. Only Saudi Arabia has this ability and cannot balance production rates for the whole world much longer.

An international agreement to ration production and consumption is proposed in the book "The Oil Depletion Protocol", but in the end, fossil fuels will be used by those who can pay for them. Sometimes this occurs indirectly: China burns coal on behalf of North America and Europe so that it can produce cheap goods for export.

Development based on consumption of fossil fuels has now become a trap, creating dependence upon energy sources that are becoming more scarce and expensive. Poor nations will now be much better off avoiding that trap altogether.

The solutions to both climate change and fossil fuel depletion are similar: reduce fossil fuel dependency, and increase renewable energy production. But solutions like the capture and storage of carbon from coal-fired power plants make no sense, requiring enormous investment and decades for deployment. The peak of world coal production is probably less than two decades away. It would make more sense to build renewable energy production capacity.

To avoid conflicts over energy resources we need to reduce competition for those resources by reducing dependence upon them.

Increasing shortages of fresh water for irrigation are in part due to climate change, which is in turn due to carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Soil erosion is often caused by modern industrial production methods involving the use of tractors and other fuel-fed farm machinery. The genetic uniformity of modern crops makes them more susceptible to evolving pests,thus requiring the use of more petroleum-based pesticides.

The inevitable reduction in the supply of tractor fuel will hurt farmers, and agricultural chemicals will become increasingly unaffordable. High petroleum prices will make the long-distance distribution of food more costly. Climate change and drought will shrink crop yields. We must reform our entire food system so as to reduce its reliance on fuel.

Life can in fact be better without fossil fuels, and without continual growth in population and consumption. But the transition will likely be very difficult.   doclink

A U.S. Energy Policy; a Realistic Way for the United States to Meet Its Global Obligation Toward Greenhouse Gas Reduction..
March 17, 2009   Fred Brown

President Obama has proposed that 25% of our electrical energy be from renewable sources by 2025. We need at least 75% in 8 years, and this is quite doable.

Nationwide peak summertime electrical consumption is now 783,000 megawatts. 75% of this would be 587,000 megawatts. So we would need 587,000 one-megawatt wind generators by 2017. President Obama proposes "clean coal technology". There is no way to burn coal without producing greenhouse gases. Coal is mostly carbon and carbon is the problem.

T. Boone Pickens has proposed an increase in wind generators with the natural gas savings to be diverted to fuel for cars and trucks. His plan is feasible and would reduce air pollution.

But if we are going to run our vehicles on compressed gas it should be hydrogen, not natural gas. Honda is manufacturing hydrogen powered cars. And whereas electrical energy can be economically transmitted only about 300 miles, hydrogen can be sent thousands of miles through pipelines.

The best way to finance the conversion to a wind power/hydrogen economy is to raise the federal gasoline tax to a dollar a gallon from the present 15 cents. A raise in the gas tax would require political courage but would encourage conservation, alternative and public transportation, reduction of pollution and traffic congestion, and the saving of lives.    rw doclink

Mexico's Troubles Are Our Troubles.
March 11, 2009   Oil Patch Research

Mexico is our #3 source of oil, providing 1.3 million barrels per day (mbpd), or about 6% of our total.

Mexico's largest oil field, Cantarell, peaked in 2003 at 2.1 mbpd, but its production is crashing at about 38% per year. It is now producing about 0.77 mbpd, and will probably fall to 0.5 mbpd before tailing off at a gentler rate.

Mexico's largest producing region is now the Ku-Maloob-Zaap (KMZ) complex, adjacent to the Cantarell complex. It's smaller than Cantarell, and at 0.78 mbpd it is near its planned maximum production rate.

Nitrogen injection was initiated which we indicates that Mexico would rather maximize its revenue now than worry about tomorrow.

Oil is Mexico's number-one export. With its oil revenues in decline, the state is finding it increasingly difficult to fund operations-including operations against illegal drugs. Drug cartels have grown and have now taken to open war with the authorities, who are finding themselves outgunned against better funded adversaries.

An estimated 10,000 people have died since Mexico's president Felipe Calderan took office in 2006 and began a campaign against organized crime. The atrocities include torture, beheadings, and public displays of mutilated corpses. Extortion and protection rackets are proliferating. The nation's 32 independent states, a decrepit judicial process, and an ineffective and disorganized federal police force have left the nation ill-equipped to control the cartels.

US cities along Mexican borders Texas are contending with increased violence and trade in weapons.

What does the estimated $20 billion trade in illegal drugs from Mexico have to do with energy? Mexico's exports of oil and gas to the US account for over one-third of the government's revenues, and their decline is expected to widen the country's current-account deficit to an average 3.6% of GDP in 2009-13.

The declining production of Cantarell will deprive Mexico's economy of roughly $5 billion. At the same time, a large number of migrant workers in the US are going back home as their work here dries up.

Add to that declining tourism revenues, due to poor security and a loss of income due to the falling price of oil, and you have an economy that is on the ropes.

It will be very difficult for the Mexican government to maintain order, and fight the drug cartels under such severe pressures.

It will also make it very difficult for Pemex to raise the capital to expand its oil and gas production. Mexican law prohibits foreign companies from owning its petroleum resources, so it relies heavily on debt backed by foreign issuers to fund its operations.

Given the increasing uncertainty of Mexico's future, it is hard to imagine how Pemex will continue to invest at the necessary levels, $20 billion in capital expenditures are planned for this year, to keep its oil and gas flowing to US markets.

On current trends, Mexico's oil and gas exports to the US will cease entirely within seven years.

How will the US adjust to a 6% loss in its oil supply when all of its other major suppliers are also in decline?. Our remaining reserves at home will become an important answer, and those barrels will sell for much higher prices than they do today.

Much of our unconventional oil reserves are too expensive to produce at a profit while oil is still in the $40s.    rw doclink

A Green Tsunami in Brazil: the High Price of Clean, Cheap Ethanol.
January 22, 2009   Truthout.org

Sugar cane is grown in Brazil to satisfy a demand for ethanol. Brazil hopes to supply drivers worldwide with cheap ethanol, considered an antidote to climate change, but thousands of Brazilian plantation workers harvest the cane at slave wages.

The plantations around Brazil's ethanol zone look like a war zone during the harvest, as the burning fields light up the sky. In the morning, when only embers remain, tens of thousands of workers with machetes head into the fields and harvest the cane, which is used to distill ethanol.

Cane cutters last an average of 12 years on the job before they are so worn out that they have to be replaced. There is nothing else, those who do not cut sugarcane go hungry. a million people toil on the plantations and in Brazil's ethanol factories. The power lies in the hands of militias, working for the sugar barons, who intimidate workers and drive away small farmers in support of a global vision.

"By 2030 we will be the world's largest fuel supplier," says Brazilian President In 2008 Brazil produced just under 26 billion liters of ethanol, projected to rise to 53 billion by 2017. More than 30 countries use ethanol as an additive to gasoline. The US plans to satisfy about 15% of its
requirements with biofuel by 2012. Experts estimate that if every car in the world ran on ethanol, Brazil could satisfy one-fourth of global demand. Ethanol would even be cheap, with Brazil's factories producing it at a cost of about 20 cents a liter. But the nightmare of trans-Atlantic slavery began with sugarcane and this is only the beginning, with plans in place to expand production to cover 10 million hectares. The region bordering the Atlantic Ocean is called the Forest Zone. But the rain forests were cut down long ago, and it has been turned into Brazil's ethanol zone.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: when will this craziness end?
The Coming Oil Train Wreck; First Stop: Mexico?.
December 22, 2008   http://www.financialsense.com/Market/allison/2008/1222.html

With oil having fallen from $147 to under $40 per barrel in less than six months and gasoline now at less than $2 a gallon, there is little media alarm over the stark IEA (International Energy Agency) report other than to highlight that 2009 will feature 'demand destruction'. The message sent to the public: lower oil prices ahead, problem solved. Unfortunately, the critical message of 9.1% global oil depletion was ignored. There are only a few alarmists such as Matt Simmons.

The world's energy system is at a crossroads. Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable- environmentally, economically, socially.

Sadly, oil - created over millions of years - is finite. Oil is a one-time gift that will likely be wrapping up its brief lifespan late this century. To add to the problem, exploration and production around the world is downsizing, as the dramatically lower oil prices make projects uneconomical. The current global oil production is 72 million barrels per day. If the world spends a fortune trying to mitigate the depletion rate, it is estimated global production will fall to 25 million barrels per day by 2030.

The chances of finding super-giant oil fields, and soon, are not overly promising. Mexico has long relied heavily on Cantarell, the super-giant discovered in 1976. Over millions of years, the massive crater produced over 30 billion barrels of oil.

The most troubling aspect is that the decline rate is accelerating, estimated at 2.5% per month currently, or 30% annually.

Promising offshore discoveries in Mexico will likely take decades to bring to production.

Replacing the 1.3 million barrels per day the US now imports from Mexico won't be easy. For Mexico, the problems run much deeper, as they must quickly diversify their economy or face wrenching economic and social dislocations.

Combined with a 9.1% depletion rate, the imbalances are growing. A crossroads is coming, where demand will re-ignite at some point and supply will have difficulty catching up. We have a liquid fuel crisis. We are decades from electrifying the transportation system, and wind, solar and nuclear will not solve a liquid fuel shortage. At least in the US, the best opportunity appears to be rapid conversion to natural gas-powered transportation.

The peak-oil ill be a crisis for many, but a great opportunity for others. As a citizen, it is important to begin preparing for a difficult energy future.

Don't expect to hear much about peak oil or global depletion from the next administration, at least initially. However, they know the facts and must begin working on energy creation on day one.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: For Matt Simmon's slide show on the lower gas prices and the decline of oil, see: http://www.321energy.com/editorials/simmons/simmons122408/show122408.html?id=1
US California: PG&E Plans Big Investment in Solar Power.
August 15, 2008   San Francisco Chronicle

PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric) will buy 550 megawatts from OptiSolar, who would install thin-film solar panels on 9.5 square miles of ranchland in San Luis Obispo County and buy an additional 250 megawatts from SunPower Corp., that would use an additional 3.5 square miles of San Luis Obispo land.

The purchase could show that photovoltaic power can be affordably produced on a large, centralized scale and makes large-scale solar an increasingly large part of the energy in the West. California's utilities are under a state mandate to generate 20% of their energy from renewable sources.

PG&E received just 11.4% of its energy from renewable sources in 2007, while Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric got 15.7% and 5.2% of their power from renewables.

Together with the 800-megawatt deal, solar contracts would increase renewable energy to 24% of PG&E's portfolio by 2013. Solar power until now has been too expensive for utilities, costing about 40 cents per kilowatt hour, compared with 10 cents for natural gas and 12 cents for wind power. The contracts would not affect electricity rates paid by consumers.

OptiSolar and SunPower said they are able to offer a lower rate than traditional photovoltaic projects for a variety of reasons. Some experts cautioned that there are hurdles to cross before those 800 megawatts of power become a reality.

The plants will need approval from state and local government. Environmentalists will complain because of the amount of land involved. PG&E will have to develop transmission lines to move the power to its customers. And OptiSolar and SunPower will need to finance construction of all those solar cells.

PG&E has said the deals are contingent on Congress reauthorizing tax credits for renewable energy that are due to expire at the end of this year.    rw doclink

Coastal Governors Stand in the Way of Offshore Drilling, Even If Congress Approves it.
August 04, 2008   Grist Magazine

President Bush repeats his call for Congress to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling. Interior Secretary Kempthorne said that his department is laying the groundwork so offshore drilling in new areas could begin in three years.

But many of the untapped offshore areas would likely remain off-limits. GOP leaders all say that states should decide whether to open their shorelines to drilling. But many governors in coastal states are saying, "No, thanks!"

Some 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico were opened up to drilling two years ago, so Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi don't matter in this debate.

What's at stake is an estimated 18 billion barrels of oil off the coasts of other states.

Some 10 billion is in Californian waters, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants it left alone. Chances are slim that Arnie and other state lawmakers would permit drilling near their shores. Gov. Gregoire (D) and Oregon Gov. Kulongoski (D) want to fight for more offshore drilling.

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) and North Carolina Gov. Easley (D) spoke against offshore drilling, citing the damage it could do to their states' tourism, real estate, and natural resources.

Maine Gov. Baldacci (D) and other political leaders say "no way," fearing for their state's fishing industry and environment. Massachusetts tried offshore drilling and found there wasn't much oil plus opposition to drilling is "fierce." Maryland's governor is opposed.

It's proved politically unpopular in Virginia. Florida Republicans have backed McCain's drilling call, and a number of Florida voters are shifting in the same direction. Public support for drilling has jumped from 50% to 60%. Most Democratic leaders in the state remain bitterly opposed.

About 57% of Americans would support drilling in places currently off limits if it would bring down gas prices.

Economists and energy experts say drilling wouldn't do a dang thing for prices in the short term, and very little in the long term.    rw doclink

Exxons Second-Quarter Earnings Set a Record.
August 01, 2008   New York Times*

Exxon Mobil reported the best quarterly profit ever for a corporation. Record earnings for Exxon have become routine as the surge of oil prices filled its coffers. The company's income for the second quarter rose 14%, to $11.68 billion, compared to the same period a year ago. Exxon's profits were nearly $90,000 a minute over the quarter, but it was less than Wall Street had expected. Exxon's shares fell 4.6%.

The disappointment from investors put pressure on Exxon Mobil's chief executive to search for new fields. The sell-off in Exxon stock continued a trend as oil and natural gas prices have fallen sharply from record levels. But problems surfaced in the company's report, a 10% drop in oil production and a 3% decline in natural gas production from the second quarter of 2007.

The production decrease was viewed with concern by energy analysts. "High commodity prices are driving the record earnings, not growth in production.

Crude oil prices in the second quarter averaged 91% higher than the same quarter in 2007. Natural gas prices averaged $10.80 for every thousand cubic feet, up 43% from a year ago. Exxon earned $10 billion in the quarter from exploration and production, up from $6 billion a year ago. But the company's $1.6 billion in profit from refining was less than half that in last year's quarter. Earnings from its chemical business of $687 million were down $326 million from last year.

The company intendeds to disburse $125 billion in capital spending over the next five years to produce more oil and natural gas.

Royal Dutch Shell, Eni and Repsol, three of Europe's largest oil companies, also reported strong profits. Shell reported its output had declined by 1.6%. Repsol's by nearly 20% percent. Shell, reported a 33% increase to $11.56 billion, from $8.67 billion in the period a year ago.

Oil companies are under pressure to find new reserves.

Adding together the output of all the major oil companies, this appears to be the fourth straight quarter of production declines. The total decline might exceed 600,000 barrels a day, reflecting the difficulties the oil companies had in gaining access to make up for the decline of mature fields.

Exxon's production tumbled because of Venezuela's expropriation of Exxon's assets last year, and declining production in many fields around the world.

Democrats in Congress were quick to criticize Exxon's profit. "Big Oil is plowing profits into stock buybacks instead of increasing production.

Exxon said oil companies needed the profits to search for more oil and gas and that Congress needs to give us access to those areas that are currently off limits to the industry.    rw doclink

Book Review: Human Consumption: Flying in the Face of Logic.
July 16, 2008   Guardian (London)

In 1968, Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb, a scenario of imminent population explosion and ensuing disaster. The second part of his message - that society must limit population growth - drew howls of protest. Virtually every one objected to the discussion of human reproduction as a condition of food and habitat. Now homo sapiens has become so powerful that it can undermine the ability to support much of life.

Underlying all is the issue of population. When Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, there were 3.5 billion people on Earth; there are now 6.7 billion. Each person we add now disproportionately impacts on the environment and life-support systems of the planet.

There is a growing sense that population will again emerge as a central component of the debate on global warming. But it's a discussion that's open to distortion. Superstitious thinking is that technology will support and improve living standards for ever greater numbers of people, or that some kind of natural phenomenon will take the problem out of our hands.

If the US still had the 140 million people we had at the end of the second world war we wouldn't be dependent on foreign oil, and we'd be emitting far less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

It's incomprehensible that we're in a presidential campaign and no one is discussing any of these issues. Except for some developing countries, the globe was not racked by food shortages through the 1970s because advances in farming and technology were able to sustain larger populations.

Yet the issue of overpopulation and overconsumption remain near the centre of Ehrlich's study. We have grown in number to the point where our presence is disabling the planet like a disease.

Consumption may be more thorny than population. Debate in the US tends to skip over the question of curbing domestic energy use and carbon emissions to the question of how to curb growing Indian and Chinese pollution. With petrol reaching over $4 (2) a gallon the price does not reflect its true cost. Historically, the rise of environmental consciousness has been rapid. The trouble is, the environment has been going downhill far faster.    rw doclink

The Beginning of the End for Coal.
July 06, 2008   Earth Policy Institute

With concerns about climate change mounting, the era of coal-fired electricity generation in the US may be coming to a close. In 2007 151 coal-fired power plants were in the planning stages in the US. But during 2007, 59 were either refused licenses or abandoned. Close to 50 coal plants are being contested in the courts, and the remaining plants will likely be challenged when they reach the permitting stage.

What began as local resistance to coal-fired power plants is evolving into national opposition. Growing concern over pending legislation to regulate carbon emissions is creating uncertainty in financial markets. Leading to downgrading coal stocks and requiring utilities seeking funding for coal plants to include a cost for carbon emissions. In 2008 there was introduced a bill to ban new coal-fired power plants without carbon emissions controls nationwide until federal regulations address greenhouse gas emissions. If Congress passes this bill, it will deal a death blow to the future of coal-fired power generation.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: in order for this to happen, we need to put more money into renewables and conservation right now.
U.S.: To Ease Gas Prices, Obama Eyes Speculators.
June 23, 2008   New York Times*

Senator Obama proposed tightening the regulation of oil speculators to ease high gasoline prices. He proposed closing a legal provision requested by Enron that exempts crucial energy commodities from government oversight. He also proposed preventing traders of American crude oil from routing transactions through offshore markets to evade American limits and he called on the Government to investigate market manipulation and oil futures.

How large a role investment plays in pushing up commodity prices is not clear.

While some analysts believe that large flows of money into largely unregulated exchanges have distorted markets and pushed up prices, most energy experts see no support for that theory. They point out that traditional market forces, like growing demand from emerging countries, and limited growth in oil supplies, can easily account for the increase in prices.

As news emerged that Saudi Arabia planned a production increase, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, welcomed the Saudi move but said that it would dampen prices only "a little bit."

Obama supporters assailed Mr. McCain for saying that he now favors allowing coastal oil drilling by states that want it.

McCain supporters said that opening up offshore drilling would signal that betting on future high prices is risky.

Mr. Obama received support from former Bill Clinton who predicted Congress would pass a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: it is a fact that there is a growing demand from emerging countries, and limited growth in oil supplies. These two alone would easily account for the increase in prices. We need to educate Obama.
China Increases Lead as Biggest Carbon Dioxide Emitter.
June 16, 2008   New York Times*

China has overtaken the US as the leading emitter of carbon dioxide, its emissions increasing 8% in 2007. In 2007 China's emissions were 14% higher than those of the US. China's emissions are likely to continue growing because they are tied to the country's economic growth and its mix of industry and power sources.

China is dependent on coal and has seen its most rapid growth in industrial sectors: cement, aluminum and plate glass.

About 20% of China's emissions come from its cement kilns.
The average American is responsible for 19.4 tons. in Russia 11.8 tons; in the EU 8.6 tons; China, 5.1 tons; and India, 1.8 tons.

The data emphasized the importance of getting China to sign on to any new global climate agreement. The Kyoto Protocol will be replaced by a new agreement to be signed in Copenhagen at the end of 2009.

Late last year, UN experts warned that the world had only a few years to reverse growing emissions.

China had been acting progressively on environmental policy in the past year.
There cannot be a solution to the climate change without China, but Chinese leaders would not become more engaged unless the US also made new commitments.

Emissions in the original EU states fell 2% in 2007, though this drop was at least partly attributable to a warm winter. High oil prices have created an interest in coal-fired power plants, which are heavily polluting.

Eighty percent of the world's coal demand comes from China, but the US is also a major user of coal.    rw doclink

Fuel Protests Erupt in Asia as Oil Hits $139 a Barrel.
June 11, 2008   Washington Post

Protests over fuel prices erupted in Asia as truckers in Hong Kong and demonstrators in India and Nepal added their voices. As oil hit $139 a barrel, businesses said they can no longer cope with pump prices. Two protesters were killed, one in Spain and one in Portugal, as they attempted to block traffic.

Truckers in South Korea voted to strike, and Malaysian Prime Minister pledged about $306 million to maintain support among provincial lawmakers angry over the fuel costs.

Several hundred trucks and buses in Hong Kong snarled traffic. Drivers were demanding reductions in fuel taxes. The protests in India and Nepal were smaller but reflected spreading anger over prices.

Fuel taxes are the issue for truckers in Europe, because they account for a large portion of the retail price of fuel. "We're doing this for our industry and our customers," said an organizer of a go-slow protest in Scotland.

Protests began to hit home as Spanish media reported that gas stations in some areas had run out of fuel and some markets were reporting shortages of fresh produce.

Traffic jams formed at a crossing on the French border, where Spanish drivers refused to let foreign trucks enter. The Spanish Interior Ministry announced that the first fatality was a protester struck by a van at a picket line in Granada. The van's driver, accelerated when protesters started throwing rocks at him as he tried to drive past.

The second death was a protester in Portugal who was run over as he tried to signal for a truck to stop.

In Britain, Prime Minister Brown cautioned the public against panic buying of gas and diesel ahead of a threatened strike by 500 oil tanker drivers. Officials worry that the strike, could create fuel shortages at the pump.    rw doclink

Oil and Gas Rust - An Evil Worse Than Depletion.
April 2008   Matthew Simmons website

In his latest report "Oil and Gas Rust - An Evil Worse Than Depletion", Simmons lays out the result when Peak Oil meets aging equipment.

Almost all oil and gas fields reside thousands of feet underground. Almost all "newer" oil fields lie under the sea. Oil has to be extracted, processed, refined and transported over long distances. The entire oil value chain is built of steel. Steel begins to corrode the day it is cast.

Had the world appointed an energy czar, he would have ordered a forced abandonment of rusting oil systems when leaks became too toxic. Leaks are dangerous to human health. Because rust never sleeps, leaks remain constant
threat.

As oil declines, brine generally takes its place, sweet light oil turns into sour heavy oil. Declining oil basins rarely have facilities replaced, and these factors accelerate corrosion and rust.

The presentation gets scary as Simmons says that based on April 2008 figures from world oil production peaked in 2005!

Please follow the link to this powerpoint type PDF for an eye-opener that even the simplest person can follow.    rw doclink

U.S.: The 25x'25 Alliance.
March 22, 2008   EcoWorld.com

Biofuel is a renewable fuel that is not sustainable. Production of biofuel from crops in a relatively underpopulated nation like America, is one thing. Production of biofuel from crops where rainforest stood a year earlier, is something else entirely.

Biofuel will not make a significant dent in global energy production, yet it is profitable. Biofuel is playing its part in rainforest destruction, and we need to put equal energy into monitoring the health and extent of our rainforests. Sustainability principles for biofuel are absolutely essential.

We are learning how to extract biofuel from crop residue, timber industry byproducts, animal and municipal wastes. Policies need to be structured to accelerate these 2nd generation methods of extracting and refining biofuel. Better yet, technology needs to deliver 3rd generation biofuels that are grown in factory environments.

With these sorts of innovations the goal of producing 25% of all energy from renewable sources by 2025 may not have been ambitious enough. One of the biggest challenges will be to watch for unintended environmental consequences. Sustainability must strive to produce 25% of all energy from renewable sources by 2025 - by the 25x'25 Alliance, March 2008

Congress affirmed that 25x'25 is the goal of the US, to derive 25% of its energy use from renewable resources by 2025.

25x'25 Sustainability Principles

Renewable energy producers and consumers should have equitable access to renewable energy. Renewable energy production should improve air quality.

Renewable energy should maintain or enhance landscape biodiversity. Renewable energy production should bolster the quality of life in communities where it occurs.

Renewable energy production should be energy efficient, and conserve natural resources. Renewable energy production should result in a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Introduced or non-native species can be used for renewable energy production when there are appropriate safeguards. All regions should have the opportunity to participate in renewable energy.

New technologies, can play a significant role in renewable energy production, provided they protect environmental values.

Renewable energy production should maintain or improve water quality.

Renewable energy production systems should maximize water conservation, and protect water resources.

Renewable energy production should enhance wildlife habitat.    rw doclink

Ecuador's Yasuni Park: Oil Exploration Or Nature Protection?.
March 21, 2008   CorpWatch.org

The Yasuni National Park is a 2.5 million acre rainforest at the intersection of the Andes, the Amazon and the Equator. It is also the heart of a struggle between oil exploration and to permanently protect one of the most biologically diverse regions of the planet.

Only 2.5 acres of this forest contains as many tree species as in the US and and is home to jaguars, woolly and spider monkeys, and harpy eagles. Some of the species live on the brink of extinction. This was the home of 16,000 Waorani, but yoday, there are no more than about a thousand. One of the key reasons is the arrival of multinational oil companies in the latter part of the 20th century. A new plan could bring a halt to this exploration.

Tasuni falls between Ecuador and Peru. The Ecuadorian government granted an environmental license for Petrobras, the Brazilian state-owned corporation, to drill for oil in Block 31 that is believed to hold up to a billion barrels of oil. The Peruvian government has approved environmental impact studies for two areas. Armed with new contracts, the companies have attempted to win over the people of the forest by offering the indigenous villagers clothes and candy in return for permission to drill.

With the tacit permission of the villagers, Petrobras started to set up the infrastructure for oil exploration on the outer edges of Yasuni. Local authorities soon started to complain about Skanska's work in the area, saying Skanska behaved in a suspicious manner. An official in the provincial environmental office in Coca says that the company refused to cooperate with them. Petrobras' permit was revoked and the company was asked to conduct an environmental feasibility study.

Villagers say that Skanska hired people from the local population to perform dangerous jobs. They are accused of having purchased food supplies in the villages, but failed to pay.

One of Skanska's regional managers, an Argentinian oil exploration veteran said that "People here are slightly backward. You never know when the barbarians are going to start shooting arrows from the bushes". Skanska engineeers pay for security guards, but the company also has an agreement with the military for support. The oil companies supply the military with infrastructure, food, fuel, living quarters and emergency medical care in exchange for protection.

Attorney Bolivar Beltran says that the contract violates Chapter V of Ecuador's constitution. The population is being exposed to health hazards related to oil spills and waste dumping while they live in fear of the companies.

Today the future of the ITT fields remain uncertain. The government would refrain from exploiting Yasuni in exchange for receiving at least $350 million annually from the international community.
A number of groups have put their weight behind it, but the plan has yet to get commitments for the full sum of money.    rw doclink

Coal Can't Fill World's Burning Appetite With Supplies Short, Price Rise Surpasses Oil and U.S. Exporters Profit.
March 20, 2008   Washington Post

Coal is suddenly in short supply and high demand worldwide.

International spot prices of coal have risen by 50% or more, surpassing the escalation in oil.

Forty five ships were in Australian ports waiting for coal deliveries slowed by torrential rains. China and Vietnam, banned coal exports, while India's import demands are up. Factory hours have been shortened in parts of China, blackouts across South Africa and Java.

Mining companies are enjoying a windfall. Coal buyers have begun locking in long-term contracts at high prices.

In the US coal exports helped lower the trade deficit. Coal exports account for 2.5% of US exports, and grew by 19% to $4.1 billion.

Many companies are wondering whether high prices are here to stay. World consumption of coal has grown 30% in the past six years, twice as much as any other energy source. Meeting rising demand will prove difficult. The United States will need to make major investments in mines, railways and ports.

Consol Energy, one of the biggest U.S. coal producers is trying to decide whether to expand output at its Appalachian mines and to add capacity in Baltimore's harbor.

High prices would raise the cost of US electricity, half of which is generated by coal-fired plants.

Coal generates 39% of carbon dioxide emissions. Legislation could impose higher costs on those who burn coal, forcing utilities and factories to become more efficient and curtail its use.

China, is the world's largest consumer of coal, and its consumption is increasing by about 10% a year. China has vast coal resources, but its growing appetite has outstripped production. In January 2007, it imported more coal than it exported. Because of shortages, electricity was rationed in 17 provinces, most of them in the south. Concerned about inflation, Beijing is freezing electricity prices even as coal and oil prices soared.

Demand has created incentives for small illegal coal mine operations. The government has shut down 11,155 such mines since 2005, further crimping supplies.

India relies on outdated energy policies while trying to keep pace with booming demand. By 2012 India expects to add 76,000 megawatts of power. About 94% of India's coal mining is in the hands of government-owned companies. Because the government is worried about social unrest, the prices for coal and electricity are kept low.

Although India's coal reserves are vast, they haven't been fully developed. The government hopes to boost coal production by 50% by 2012 and quadruple it by 2030. India expects to import 51 million tons by 2012. By 2022, imports could climb to 136 million tons.

British coal consumption has climbed steadily over the past six years. Coal has surpassed gas again as the leading fuel for electricity plants.

Britain imports coal from Russia, Australia, Colombia, South Africa and Indonesia.

Follow the link to read the long and very detailed report.    rw doclink

U.S.: A Real Freak Out.
March 18, 2008   Kunstler.com

The train wreck of bad debt meets the Saint Paddy's Day Parade of bacchanalian excess at the grade-crossing of destiny. The train is carrying America's financial system, but the engine driving it is peak oil, because declining energy resources means declining capital wealth that leads to the reinvention of American life by other means.

There are those who believe we will 'high-tech' our way out, and those who believe we'll organize our way out.

One of the implications is the probability that we will try anything besides the right things to keep the old game going for a while.

The touting of hybrid cars, and the flimflam of energy independence, the "environmental" crowd" squanders most of its attention on how to keep all the cars running on something other than gasoline.

I hate to think of the political consequences when their disappointment catches up to the reality that the suburbs and the way of life they entail will not be rescued.

Now, we'll also bail-out all those who tried to become rich by getting something for nothing at both ends of the the housing bubble. The bail-out is likely to accomplish nothing except the more rapid bankruptcy of government at all levels and a second Great Depression.

One game is to prevent the "assets" of Bear Stearns from going to the auction block, on which they would be discovered to be nearly worthless.

The next thing in store for America will be oil-and-gasoline shortages. While frightened money pours into the oil futures markets, driving the price up, imports of oil and gas to the US may not be as reliable as it had been. The exporters may be changing their terms of doing business with us. Shortages are going to be a real freak out.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: with the growth of population and availabilty of cheap transportation, we have pushed ourselves out from the congested city centers. We have nearly used up the huge reserve of oil and natural gas and coal when we should have been conserving for our grandchildren and the bulging population we have produced. We will pay the price of our greed in the near future.
Oil and Ghana's Future.
March 12, 2008   Modern Ghana

Nigeria is the 10th largest producer of crude oil in the world and the fifth largest supplier of oil to the US. As of January 2007 Nigeria had 36.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. To date Nigeria has made about $650 billion but has very little to show for it. Around 70% of the 130 million Nigerians live on less than $1 a day with life expectancy barely topping 50 years. In the Niger Delta where most of the oil reserves are found, the rivers have been polluted. The fish in the local rivers are gone. Agricultural land can no longer grow food. Shell has shipped oil from Nigeria for over 50 years, leaving the Niger Delta undeveloped. Nigeria's refining capacity is insufficient to meet local demand and Nigeria imports petroleum products.

Ghana needs to be very circumspect with how it handles the emerging oil boom.

The government must make sure that the oil companies take business and social responsibility seriously. The oil companies must address the provision of facilities to improve the lot of the local communities.

Our justice system must bring such crooks and recalcitrants to book irrespective of the person's social, economic, or political standing.
The expected oil windfall is an opportunity for the government to take steps to reverse the brain drain. The country will need Ghanaian technocrats in all fields to come home to support the harnessing of our capabilities towards the take off of the Ghanaian economy as has happened with India and Singapore.
We must start to train new and additional personnel and technicians. We must eschew waste, apathy, corruption, lack of foresight and lack of accountability.

In an age of industrialization, and computerization, we cannot afford power outages. The current power outages have caused many businesses to lose their equipment and machinery. The mining industry has been hit and there are reports that cat-scan machinery at our hospitals have been damaged resulting in many untimely deaths. Our hospitals are badly maintained and have been no new major ones being built despite the increases in the country's population. in the population of the elderly and retired.

We need to increase the contribution of industry, creating more employment opportunities.

In the rural areas nobody cares about living conditions. Most are not fit for habitation by humans. If we want the rural areas to be attractive they must be upgraded. Rural industries must be cited in these areas to encourage the youth to stay. This will call for the provision of good roads, electricity, water, etc.

We have failed to maintain the road and rail systems we inherited from our colonial masters. There must be super-highways linking all major towns and cities in the country. Ghanaians need to develop maintenance for sustainability. New and first class highways must be constructed from the north to the south.

Successive governments must maintain development projects started by the previous government. We need creativity and innovation in our political dispensation. We need new and bold ideas from our political leadership.

Every house in Accra and all other cities and towns must be required to construct water closets employing the use of septic tanks until we develop an elaborate and efficient sewage system. However, we need water to flush the waste. The government, has to make sure there is provision of adequate and constant running water before it can enact such a law.

When it rains in the cities like New York City, the water running into the curbs and underground drainage systems are as clear as tap water or water that falls on the roofs with no sediments to block the drains. In Accra all the silt is washed into the gutters causing them to overflow resulting in severe flooding.

The government must ensure that the necessary infrastructure, constant flowing electricity and water, expanded and reliable communications system, conducive business environment, effective, efficient, and reliable court system, efficient transportation and ports systems, efficient health care delivery system, well equipped schools across the country, to mention, but a few, are in place if we want Ghana to progress towards a middle-income status.
The government needs to re-examine the role of the central government in society. The opposition must criticize positively and provide better alternatives, instead of simply debunking and opposing recklessly every measure that is tabled by the ruling party.

For an improvement in the quality of life, we need to monitor and match the country's natural growth by increasing infrastructure to keep pace with our population growth. The 21st century will call for greater collaboration among government, private industry, and higher education for complex research and development projects in the fields of technology, agriculture, health, the sciences and engineering. This must begin with formal networking among individuals in the universities/polytechnics, private industry, and the government.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: no mention is made of the need to curtail population growth and the solution: voluntary family planning.
Energy Warning for Bric 3.
February 29, 2008   China Daily

China, India and Brazil will more than double their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 if they fail to improve energy efficiency. Cost-effective retrofits could reduce these countries' energy use by at least 25% and advanced technologies reduce their energy demand growth by 2030 by at least 10% and CO2 emission growth by 16%.

Good solutions can work as long as the financing and investment environment is in place and there's commitment from policymakers.

China, India and Brazil are among the world's top 10 energy consumers and are home to 40% of the world's population. They account for more than half of all energy demand by developing countries and will be responsible for 42% of growth in energy demand by 2030.

The main obstacles to energy efficiency are inadequate organization and institutional systems and the necessary funds, but there is gradual improvement in terms of energy efficiency.

A commercially viable energy-efficiency sector is now emerging in China after a decade of strong government support. In Brazil, an energy-efficiency fund provides a platform for further improvement.

China has launched measures to promote energy efficiency and reduce pollution, trying to ensure sustainable growth.    rw doclink

The Price of Biofuels.
February 2008   Technology Review

The exuberance over ethanol has given way to a dreary hangover, especially among those who invested heavily in the production facilities. Biofuel factories, clustered largely in the corn-growing states, will produce 6.4 billion gallons of ethanol this year, and another 74 facilities are under construction. Now many are losing money. The price of a bushel of corn is near $4.00 again. At the same time, ethanol prices plummeted and profit margins vanished.

The use of corn-derived ethanol as a fuel has economic problems all its own. Even though companies that use ethanol in their gasoline receive a federal tax credit of 51 cents per gallon, ethanol struggles to compete economically. The boom in ethanol production is driving up the price of food. In the US in 2007, about 20% percent of corn went to ethanol. Since most of the rest is used to feed animals, the prices of beef, milk, poultry, and pork are all affected by increases in the cost of corn and The could bring about shifts in agricultural markets worldwide and cause food shortages.

This comes at a time when the need for alternatives to petroleum-based fuels is becoming urgent, and worries about the greenhouse-gas emissions from the 142 billion gallons of gasoline used every year in the US are deepening. Expanded use of biofuels is central to the federal government's long-term energy strategy. Hitting both targets will require significant technological breakthroughs. In the US ethanol means the corn-derived version. Proponents of corn ethanol say that its production levels cannot go higher than around 15 billion gallons a year.

Advocates of biofuels have called for ethanol to be made from alternative feedstocks but the technology is four to five years from commercial viability. Advanced biological techniques for creating other biofuels, such as hydrocarbons, are still in the lab.

The economic and market limitations of corn ethanol are a reminder of the difficulties facing developers of new biofuels. The problem is so huge that technology has to do it at a price that is competitive. The numbers speak for themselves. At $4.00 a bushel of corn, ethanol production costs $1.70 a gallon; to gain a 12% profit the producers need to sell at $1.83 a gallon. Corn derived ethanol is not a "green fuel" because making ethanol takes a lot of energy. About 25% more energy is squeezed out of the biofuel than is used to produce it, other fuels yield much bigger gains. You're getting a slight saving in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions, but not much.

Corn-derived production could have repercussions throughout the agricultural markets. Not only are corn prices up, but so are soybean prices, because farmers planted fewer soybeans to make room for corn.

The volume of corn required by the ethanol industry is sending shock waves through the food system. Because a larger percentage of their income goes to food, he says, this is going to hit poor people.

All these factors argue against the promise of corn ethanol as a solution to the energy problem. Even if all the corn planted in the US were used for ethanol, the biofuel would still displace only 12% of gasoline consumption.

Since the oil crisis of the 1970s, chemical and biological engineers have chased after ways to turn the nation's reserves of "cellulosic" material such as wood, agricultural residues, and perennial grasses into ethanol and other biofuels. The U.S. DOE announced up to $385 million in funding for six "biorefinery" projects that will use various technologies to produce ethanol from biomass. The country has enough forest and agricultural land to produce 1.3 billion tons of biomass that could go toward biofuels.

It takes less energy to grow cellulosic materials than to grow corn, and portions of the biomass can be used to help power the production process. For decades, scientists have known of bacteria that can degrade cellulose and produce some ethanol. Yet none can do the job quickly enough for large-scale manufacturing.

One bacteria, Clostridium phytofermentans, decomposes nearly all the components of the plant, and produces prodigious amounts of ethanol. A company in Amherst, SunEthanol, will attempt to scale up ethanol production using the bacterium.

By 2050, the world will need a billion hectares more land for food. That's the land mass of the entire United States just to feed the world. It makes sense to grow biomass for fuels on infertile land no longer used for agriculture.

Instead of ethanol, California startups are planning to produce novel hydrocarbons fermented from sugars, but more closely resemble gasoline, diesel, and even jet fuel. The problem is that nature offers no known examples of microrganisms that can ferment sugars into the types of hydrocarbons useful for fuel.

If eventually commercialized, the hydrocarbon biofuels could overcome many of the economic disadvantages of ethanol. Unlike ethanol, hydrocarbons separate from water during the production process, so no energy intensive distillation is necessary. Sugar cane offers the most viable way to make biofuels today.

Khosla envisions biofuel production increasing over the next 20 years. Production of corn ethanol will level off at 15 billion gallons a year by 2014, but cellulosic ethanol will reach 140 billion gallons by 2030. At that point, biofuels will be cheap and abundant enough to replace gasoline for almost all purposes.

In the Midwest, there are lingering questions about how the nation's agriculture will switch to biomass. The main point is whether corn ethanol will lead to new technologies--or stand in their way. Unless the cost is reduced significantly, cellulosic ethanol is going nowhere. If cellulosic biofuels are to begin replacing gasoline within five to ten years, facilities will need to start construction soon.

This fall, A company announced that it had begun work in Georgia on what it claims is the country's first commercial scale cellulosic-ethanol plant. It will use thermochemical technology to make ethanol from wood chips. A facility in Tennessee will be the first cellulosic-ethanol plant built to use switchgrass. But these production plants are federally subsidized or are a result of partnerships with state development organizations; attracting private investment for commercial-scale production will be a huge and risky challenge. It will take another 10 years to optimize production processes for cellulosic biofuels.    rw doclink

$2500 Car Raises Tough Questions.
January 20, 2008   Sympatico MSN Finance

Recently introduced by India's Tata, the Nano costs $2,500 and promises to improve the quality of life for the thousands of Indians who are starting to form a growing middle-class.

Up to five people can fit into a Nano - although there's no air conditioning, radio, power steering or electric windows. But it gets about 54 miles to the gallon.

As countries like India and China continue to post strong economic growth, individuals begin to prosper and the demand for cars begins to take shape.

Some have denounced the Nano as a source of further CO2 emissions in an over-polluted country. Why not invest in more public transport, instead of putting hundreds of thousands of cheap little cars on the roads of India?

But why should they not be entitled to the same conveniences that we take for granted?

There are about 18.5 million vehicles registered in Canada for a population of 32 million. The US has .8 vehicles per person.

We use around 53 billion litres of gas or diesel fuel. The governments we have elected have made limited progress with the formulation of a comprehensive environmental policy. Telling voters that they have to tighten their belts is never considered a popular tactic at the polls.

There's no question that people in India and China are as entitled to the consumer comforts that we've enjoyed for so long. The question is whether they'll learn from our mistakes - or merely be the victims of them.    rw doclink

Oil Demand, the Climate and the Energy Ladder.
January 19, 2008   New York Times*

Energy demand is expected to grow in coming decades. Jeroen van der Veer, Royal Dutch Shell's chief executive, recently offered his views on the energy challenge facing the world and the challenge posed by global warming

You go from six billion people to nine billion people in 2050. Many more people climbing the energy ladder creates that enormous demand for energy.

Politicians think we have a choice between fossil fuels and renewables. We have to grow both fossil fuels and renewables. And that will be a huge effort.

In the very short term, carbon emissions will increase. But over time people will figure out ways, that while using fossil fuels, you try to find carbon solutions. The problem is that many of the renewables, if you take the subsidies out, are still too expensive. There is no lack of oil or gas, or coal. The problem is that the easy-to-produce oil or gas will be depleted. But if you look at difficult oil or gas, which the industry call the unconventionals, such as oil sands or shales, they may be exploitable. But per barrel, you need more technology and investments, and per barrel you need a lot more brain to produce it. It's much more expensive.

If carbon is the bottleneck, you get more carbon reduction for less money by tackling the power sector and maybe the building sector.    rw doclink

Ethanol -- Solution Or Boondoggle?.
December 23, 2007   Sentinel

Ethanol from corn promises an unending supply of renewable energy. Yet some energy experts calculate that producing ethanol consumes about as much energy as burning it releases. When ethanol production began, calculations of benefits were theoretical. Now we have data and the news isn't good for ethanol. As production ramps up, we should see gasoline use ramp down if ethanol is really a net benefit. Since ethanol makes up about 3% percent of our vehicle fuel, we should see a corresponding decrease in gasoline use. But U.S. gasoline consumption has increased by 1.4% annually for the past five years. If ethanol had replaced gasoline, we should have seen a 1.6% decrease in gasoline use (1.4 - 3%.

Total miles driven increased only 1.2% from 2005 to 2006. The only explanation is that growing corn and distilling it into ethanol uses as much energy as it offers. One reason is that the appearance of corn growing by solar energy is an illusion. About 9/10ths of the energy that goes into corn comes not from sunlight, but from oil and gas. Tractors run on oil, fertilizer is made mostly from natural gas and moved around on oil-consuming trucks, combines harvest using oil and the list goes on and on.

Ethanol production is a disaster, one that will get worse as new distilleries come online in the Midwest. We are seeing higher prices for milk, chicken and other corn-based products. High corn prices hurt us and cause suffering in the third world.

We should do the following as soon as possible:

Phase out the federal subsidy of ethanol production. This costs billions.

End tariffs on imported biofuels, Brazil and other countries can make ethanol with minimal fossil fuel inputs. Increase CAFE fuel economy standards. The energy would actually not diverted to a new fuel infrastructure. European passenger vehicles get about 47% better fuel economy than American ones, and they still cruise the autobahns at breathtaking speeds.

Promote renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. The major obstacle to a rational policy is not engineering, but politics. We will continue to need small amounts of ethanol as an oxygenating additive, safer than the MTBE it replaces. But corn-based ethanol as a gasoline substitute is a tragic illusion.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: having other countries make biofuels has been equally disasterous. Otherwise I agree with this article.
Earth Policy News - is World Oil Production Peaking?.
November 15, 2007   Earth Policy Institute

Data from the International Energy Agency IEA show a loss of momentum in the growth of oil production during the last few years. From 82.90 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2004 to 84.15 mb/d in 2005, output only increased to 84.80 mb/d in 2006 and then declined to 84.62 mb/d during the first 10 months of 2007.

The combination of world production starting to decline while demand continues to rise rapidly is putting upward pressure on prices. If production growth continues to lag behind the increase in demand, how high will prices go?

There are many ways of assessing the oil production future. One is the relationship between oil discoveries and production, by the Hubbert who noted that the discovery of new reserves in the US peaked around 1930, and correctly predicted in 1956 that U.S. oil output would peak in 1970. Globally, oil discoveries peaked in the 1960s. Each year since 1984, production has exceeded new discoveries, by a widening gap. In 2006, 31 billion barrels of oil were extracted, exceeding the discovery of 9 billion barrels.

The world's 20 largest oil fields were all discovered between 1917 and 1979. Annual output from the aging fields is falling by 4 mb/d. Offsetting this decline with new discoveries is becoming increasingly difficult.

Among the post-peak countries are the US, which peaked at 9.6 mb/d in 1970, dropping to 5.1 mb/d in 2006; Venezuela, peaked in 1970; and the United Kingdom and Norway, peaked in 1999 and 2000.

Russia is now the world's leading oil producer. Two other countries with substantial potential are Canada, largely because of its tar sands, and Kazakhstan, which is developing the Kashagan oil field in the Caspian Sea. Other pre-peak countries include Algeria, Angola, Brazil, Nigeria, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Production may be peaking in Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and China. Saudi officials claim they can produce far more oil, but the giant Ghawar oil field-the world's largest by far-is 56 years old and in its declining years. Saudi oil production for the first eight months of 2007 show output of 8.62 mb/d, a drop of 6% from the 9.15 mb/d of 2006. If Saudi Arabia cannot restore growth, then peak oil is on our doorstep.

In Mexico, output apparently peaked in 2004 at 3.4 mb/d. Mexico could be an oil importer by 2015. Production in China, may also be about to peak.

Geological knowledge has improved in the past 30 years and it is inconceivable that major fields remain to be found.

When oil output is no longer expanding, no country can get more oil unless another gets less.

Oil-intensive industries will be hit hard. Cheap airfares will become history. The airline industry's projected growth will evaporate. The food industry will be affected by rising oil prices, since modern agriculture and food transport are oil-intensive. Pressures will intensify on the auto companies that are developing plug-in hybrid cars to bring them to market quickly.

Higher oil prices have been needed to reflect the indirect costs of burning oil, such as climate change, and to encourage more-efficient use of a resource that is fast being depleted. The US has neglected public transportation and 88% of the workforce travels to work by car.

Efforts to prevent oil prices from rising depend on reducing demand, largely within the transportation sector. And the US must play a lead role in cutting oil use.

If governments fail to act quickly and decisively to reduce oil use, oil prices could soar leading to a global recession or a 1930s-type global depression.    rw doclink

Peak Oil.
November 07, 2007   Guardian (London)

World oil production will fall by half as soon as 2030, and shortages of fossil fuels will lead to wars and social breakdown.

Global oil production peaked in 2006 earlier than most experts had expected. The report predicts that production will fall by several percent a year. The world will not be able to produce all the oil it needs as demand is rising while supply is falling. The most alarming finding was the steep decline in oil production after its peak, which is now behind us.

Official industry estimates put global reserves at about 1.255 gigabarrels, equivalent to 42 years' supply at current consumption rates. But it thinks the figure is only about two thirds of that.

Global oil production is about 81m barrels a day. But EWG expects that to fall to 39m by 2030. It also predicts falls in gas, coal and uranium production as those energy sources are used up.

The report presents a bleak view of the future unless a radically different approach is adopted. Anticipated supply shortages could lead to mass unrest as witnessed in Burma. The world is at the beginning of a change of its economic system, triggered by declining fossil fuel supplies and will influence almost all aspects of our daily life.

The world has to move quickly towards the deployment of renewable energy and a dramatic increase in energy efficiency.    rw doclink

The End of Oil is Upon Us. We Must Move on - Quickly.
November 07, 2007   Wired Blog Network

The International Energy Agency has made it clear that only a massive and immediate investment in sustainable energy will prevent a global crisis.

"Alarming" growth in worldwide energy needs will within a generation threaten energy security, accelerate global climate change and possibly bring worldwide shortages and conflicts.

It's an unusually pessimistic view from an agency that has long said oil production, with trillions of dollars of investment, could meet rising energy needs. But the explosive growth of China and India has caused a seismic change in thinking at the IEA, which says we must move swiftly, boldly and decisively beyond fossil fuels if we are to avert a crisis.    rw doclink

Feed People, Not Cars.
October 31, 2007   Jerusalem Post

A growing group of human rights and environmental activists point to the dangers that biofuels pose to environmental sustainability and the livelihoods of communities around the world.

Most of the policies envision substituting biofuels for fossil fuels without reducing our overall consumption of energy. These proposals are backed by agribusiness, biotech companies, and oil interests that are now investing billions in ethanol and biodiesel plants. But agrofuels are not easily renewable because the Earth's landmass is itself a finite resource. To produce 7% of the energy that the US gets from petroleum would require converting the country's entire corn crop to ethanol.

Growing agrofuels on a mass scale is already jacking up food prices, depleting soil and water supplies, destroying forests, and violating the rights of indigenous and local people.

Agrofuel plantations in Brazil and Southeast Asia are being created on the territories of indigenous peoples who have traditionally lived in and protected these ecosystems. Agrofuel expansion threatens to divert the world's grain supply from food to fuel. Corn will become more expensive. Already in June soaring demand for biofuels is contributing to a rise in global food import costs.

Small-scale farmers in Colombia, Rwanda, and Guatemala feel compelled to grow luxury crops such as flowers and coffee for export while their families go hungry. The crops required to make enough biofuel to fill a 25-gallon tank could feed one person for a year.

Agrofuels Don't necessarily reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. The most common method of turning palm oil into fuel produces more carbon dioxide emissions than refining petroleum. Corporate plans for expanding biofuel production involve destroying ecosystems to create massive plantations that rely on chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides to maximize production. A five-year moratorium on the conversion of land for agrofuel production should be accompanied by the development of new energy technologies that do not compromise global food security.

Creative and practical solutions for meeting our energy requirements -including some local, sustainable biofuel programs - are being developed around the world.

We can support proposals for developing sustainable renewable energy sources, while recognizing the need to reduce overall consumption and protect everyone's basic right to food.    rw doclink

Ralph says: If the world population continues to grow the use of corn for bio-fuel will no make much difference. Many will starve.
Steep Decline in Oil Production Brings Risk of War and Unrest, Says New Study.
October 22, 2007   Guardian (London)

According to a study by the German-based Energy Watch Group, World oil production will fall by half as soon as 2030, and extreme shortages of fossil fuels will lead to wars and social breakdown.

Oil production will now fall by 7% a year.

This is a huge problem for the world economy and is in contrast to projections from the International Energy Agency, which says there is little reason to worry about oil supplies.

However, this study relies on actual oil production data which are more reliable than estimates of reserves still in the ground. The group says official industry estimates put global reserves at about 1.255 gigabarrels, 42 years' supply at current consumption rates. But it thinks the figure is only about two thirds of that.

Global oil production is currently about 81m barrels a day expected to fall to 39m by 2030. It also predicts falls in gas, coal and uranium production as those energy sources are used up.

Britain's oil production has dropped by half to about 1.6 million barrels a day.

The report presents a bleak view of the future unless a different approach is adopted. Supply shortages could lead to mass unrest as witnessed in Burma this month. For government, industry and the wider public, just muddling through is not an option any more. The world is at the beginning of a change of its economic system, triggered by declining fossil fuel supplies and will influence all aspects of our life.    rw doclink

Discussion of Energy and Canada's Future.
October 17, 2007   The Oil Drum

During the period of industrialization, the human population has been related to the amount of energy we have used. As industrialization progressed, the amount of per capita energy has risen from 1.2 TOE (ton of oil equivalent) in 1966 to 1.7 TOE in 2006, global energy supply tripled, the population doubled.

Global energy consists of oil 36%, natural gas 24%, coal 28%, nuclear 6%, hydro 6% and renewable energy such as wind and solar about 1%. A standard measure is called the tonne of oil equivalent (toe). Our oil supply is finite, non-renewable, and subject to a declining production rate, known as Peak Oil. When we start producing oil from a region, we develop the most accessible oil fields first and as they go into decline try to replace them with new fields that tend to be smaller and don't compensate for the decline of the large fields.

About 60% of the world's oil supply is extracted from only 1% of the world's oil fields. A number of well informed people have declared that the peak has arrived. The post-peak decline rates vary all over the map. In most countries the demand for oil is increasing. In oil exporting nations, rising oil prices have stimulated economic growth which has resulted in a higher domestic demand for oil. When the exporting nation's production begins to decline the amount of oil available for export declines at a faster rate than the production decline.
If the oil export market should dry up, the US would be forced to accept a reduction in industrial activity, GDP and lifestyle, and enter into long-term supply contracts with producing nations, or even military action to secure foreign oil supplies.

The supply situation with natural gas is very similar to that of oil. Gas reservoirs show the same size distribution as oil reservoirs and we drilled the big ones first. The natural gas supply will exhibit a similar bell-shaped curve to what we saw for oil.

The gas market is small due to the difficulty in transporting gas. Most of the world's natural gas is shipped by pipeline that limits gas to national and continental markets. The peak of world gas production may not occur until 2025, but we will have less warning than we had for Peak Oil, and the decline rates may be shockingly high.

Coal has a terrible environmental reputation, going back to its widespread use in Britain in the 1700s. Weight for weight, coal produces more CO2 than either oil or gas. Coal is abundant.

If electricity is to replace some of the energy lost due to the decline of oil and natural gas, this will put more upward pressure on the demand for coal. China is installing two new coal-fired power plants per week.

A model projects a continued rise in the use of coal to a peak in 2025. There will be mounting pressure to reduce coal use. The model has the annual decline in coal use from 0% in 2025 to a 5% annual decline in 2100. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) which involves the capture and compression of CO2 from power plant exhaust, which is then pumped into played-out gas fields for long term storage.

This technology is in the experimental stage, and there is much skepticism surrounding the security of storing CO2 in porous rock.

Since nuclear reactors have a lifespan averaging 40 years, a lot of the world's reactors are approaching the end of their life. The replacement rate from the UIC planning table is only about three to four reactors per year for at least the next ten to twenty years. Within the next twenty years we will have retired over 300 reactors, but will have built only 60. The drop in capacity between now and 2030 is the result of new construction not keeping pace with the rapid decommissioning of large numbers of old reactors. After 2060 we will start losing global industrial capacity due to the decline in oil and natural gas. As a result, by 2060 we won't have the capability we would need to replace all our aging nuclear reactors.

To stay with the rate of decommissioning of our current reactor base we would need to build 17 new reactors a year forever.

Hydor power is relatively clean, has the ability to supply large amounts of electricity quite consistently. Its problems include destruction of habitat, the release of CO2 and methane from flooded vegetation, and the disruption of river flows.

Hydro power has capacity growing to about double its current level by 2060. It then declines back to the current level by 2100 due to a general loss of global industrial capacity and a reduction in water flows due to global warming. Renewable energy includes such sources as wind, photovoltaic and thermal solar, tidal and wave power etc. The whole renewable energy industry is still in its infancy and at the moment, shows little impact but enormous promise. Wind power, for example, has experienced annual growth rates of 30% over the last decade.

Proponents of renewable energy support a conviction that all things are possible.

Dreams of replacing the world's gasoline with ethanol and biodiesel are struggling against the limits of low net energy in biological processes.

It's unrealistic to expect that they will achieve a dominant position in the energy marketplace. Peak contribution will be in 2070 and then declines because many renewable energy sources are dependent on a high level of technology and manufacturing capacity. Fossil fuels are the most important contributors to the world's current energy mix, but all three are in rapid decline by the second half of the century.

Unfortunately, the loss of fossil fuels means that the total amount of energy available to humanity by the end of the century may be less than one fifth of the amount we use now. While our per capita food energy consumption has remained relatively constant the energy we each use for the rest of our activities has grown almost thirty times from our early agricultural days. The world's population has increased from 200 million in to 6.6 billion today.

The consumption of an early industrial man in 1875 was 2.5 TOE per year. For comparison, the global average per capita non-food energy consumption in 1965 was only 1.2 TOE per year.

A declining world energy supply would affect countries at opposite ends of the consumption spectrum quite differently. Human beings need a significant amount of energy to sustain even a relatively poor quality of life. As energy supplies decline and per capita energy falls, the quality of life of those on the bottom end of the consumption scale will be drastically affected.

Those at the bottom of the economic ladder have no ability to reallocate their discretionary spending and they will be out-bid and have to do without some amount of fuel or electricity.

Over 4.5 billion of the world's 6.6 billion live in countries that have per capita energy consumptions under 2.0 TOE per year. As energy supplies decline, these countries are at risk of vast increases in mortality and their populations begin to fall below the minimum energy level required for sustaining life.

Some oil producing countries will sell much of their product on the international market for the money it will bring. Such actions may result in a deprived and discontented population, giving rise to fuel riots and even the threat of revolution. This will result in a wave of nationalization of oil resources so that governments can direct its distribution and control the local price.

Oil importing nations will need to reallocate their discretionary money toward the purchase of oil. If that cannot buy enough to satisfy their needs they will be forced to reduce their consumption. Producing nations that are keeping their oil off the world market will be at special risk of becoming targets in a resource war. Under those assumptions, the world population would rise to about 7.5 billion in 2025 before starting an inexorable decline to 1.8 billion by 2100.

The carrying capacity of a given environment is the maximum number of individuals that the environment can support sustainably at a given level of activity.

It is obvious that the current level of human activity is not sustainable. The fact that it has been possible at all is mainly because of the use of fossil fuel, a non-renewable resource.

When a population rises beyond the carrying capacity of its environment, the existing population cannot be supported and must eventually decline to match or fall below the carrying capacity.

There are two ways a population can regain its balance with the carrying capacity. If the population stays constant or continues rising, its activity must fall. If per capita consumption stays constant, population numbers must decline.

Populations in serious overshoot always decline. This population reduction is known as a crash or a die-off, and can be very rapid.

Our use of oil has allowed us to perform prodigious feats of resource extraction and waste production that would simply have been inconceivable without the one-time gift of oil. At the same time, the use of fossil fuel and other high-intensity energy has allowed us to mask the underlying degradation of the Earth's carrying capacity. As our supply of energy begins to decline, we will see the true extent of our ecological depredations. As we have to rely more and more on the unassisted bounty of nature, the consequences of our actions will begin to affect us all.

With less energy we won't be able to hide the existing ecological losses. As our energy supply declines we will do ever greater damage to the ecosphere in our attempt to forestall the inevitable.

The impact of diminished carrying capacity will start now, and will reach about 40% by 2100. This 40% number represents the extent to which carrying capacity has been diminished and can no longer be masked by energy use.

The human race is out of time. We are staring at hard limits on our activities and numbers, imposed by energy constraints and ecological damage. We have come to this point so suddenly that most of us have not yet realized it. The first impacts from oil depletion will be felt within five years, far too short a time to accomplish any of the unraveling or re-engineering it would take to back away from the precipice. We are committed to going over the edge into a major population reduction.

The need for action is more urgent now than ever. We need to start now to put systems, structures and attitudes in place that will help cope with the difficulties. We need to develop new ways of seeing the world and each other, new values and ethics. We need to minimize the misery and ensure that as many healthy, happy people as possible emerge from this long trauma with the skills and knowledge needed to build the next cycle of civilization.    rw doclink

Consuming the Earth.
October 07, 2007   Columbia Tribune

Dick Dalton, a professor at Lincoln University, suggested that for the world to change for the better, each individual is going to have to contribute.

Dalton's was one of several messages delivered recently at Westminster College, which addressed dozens of topics related to conservation, natural preservation and energy consumption.

Robert Kennedy Jr. has devoted himself to environmental causes and sued to stop companies from polluting the Hudson River.

Paul Roberts, one of the symposium's featured speakers, predicted a shock when gasoline prices begin reflecting the actual cost of exploration, refining and pollution control. Roberts said it's going to take a lot of work to convince people about the energy-related challenges that loom on the horizon. We will have to come up with a new way of thinking about how we use energy.

Many people have yet to reach the point where the price of oil affects lifestyles.

Roberts predicted that as China builds its economy, it will compete for access to what remains of the world's oil supply.

He said for every three barrels consumed only one new barrel is discovered.

He said ethanol production was not a solution and predicted the coming oil crisis would lead to the rediscovery of small communities.

Gasoline is more expensive in Europe and in Russia motorists pay a tax to cover carbon dioxide emissions. One student said her hometown has a population of more than 50,000 but that it is easy to get around by walking or by public transportation.

Americans are going to have to make a major shift in their living habits and give up the idea of always using a car to get around.

"Green buildings" use reusable and recycled materials, regionally-manufactured, as well as the building's ability to save energy.

One thing is the use of "green roofs," in which vegetation is used to clean and retain water as well as reduce heat effects.

Kennedy said there was a close bond between a vigorous democracy and the protection of the environment.

The biggest threat to the environment is the corrosive power and control of the government," Kennedy said.

"They have put polluters in charge of virtually all of the agencies that are supposed to be protecting Americans from pollution," Kennedy said.

"Over the past seven years, a negligent press has let down American democracy in informing the public about environmental crimes," Kennedy added. "We need an aggressive and independent press that is willing to stand up and speak truth to power."

Kennedy said saving plants and wildlife is not the end goal of environmental protection. It's all about giving future generations the chance to communicate with God through the "undiluted work of the creator."    rw doclink

Climate Change: Development Offsetting Gains in Efficiency.
September 19, 2007   Climate Change

Doha is the capital of Qatar, a tiny state east of Saudi Arabia. Since I was last there, a skyline that looks like a mini-Manhattan has sprouted from the desert. This once sleepy harbor now has a profile of skyscrapers, thanks to a huge injection of oil and gas revenues. Dalian, in China had a mini-Manhattan area and seems to have grown two more since. It is a blessing that their people are growing out of poverty -- they're following the high-energy growth model pioneered by America. "Americans" are popping up all over, people who once lived low-energy lifestyles but, by dint of wealth or hard work, are now moving into U.S.-style apartments, cars and appliances.

Our planet cannot tolerate so many "Americans," the world consumed about 66.6 million barrels a day of oil in 1990. We're now consuming 83 million barrels a day.

Demand for oil has grown 22% in the U.S. since 1990. Chinas oil demand has grown nearly 200% in the same period. By 2030, the thirst for oil is forecast to increase by another 40% if we maintain business as usual. We're fooling ourselves. There is no green revolution, or, the counter-revolution is trumping it at every turn. Without a technological breakthrough in the energy space, all of the incremental gains we're making will be devoured by the exponential growth of all the new and old "Americans."    rw doclink

Peak Oil, Carrying Capacity and Population Overshoot.
September 15, 2007   Paul Chefurka website

At the root of all the crises of the world is overpopulation. Too many people using too much of our planet's finite, non-renewable resources and filling its waste repositories of land, water and air to overflowing. It is becoming clearer every day that bringing about a sustainable balance between ourselves and the planet will require us, in very short order, to reduce our population. Our numbers must not generate more waste than natural processes can return to the biosphere, and that most of the resources are either renewable through natural processes or are entirely recycled. A sustainable population must not grow past the point where those natural limits are breached. It is obvious that the current human population is not sustainable. Carrying capacity means the sustainable level of population that can be supported and implies that all the resources a population uses are renewable within a meaningful time frame. A graph of world population makes it obvious that something has massively increased the world's carrying capacity in the last 150 years. The population rose very gradually as humanity spread across the globe. Around 1800 this began to change, and by 1900 the human population was rising dramatically. Oil first entered general use around 1900 when the global population was about 1.6 billion. Since then the population has quadrupled.

Are there other factors besides oil? The main one is the increase in food production created by the growth of industrial agribusiness. You find at its heart our friend petroleum

Industrial agriculture as practiced is supported by mechanization, pesticides/fertilizers and genetic engineering. The first two are dependent on petroleum to run the machines and natural gas to act as the chemical feedstock. Food production is showing strain as it struggles to maintain productivity in the face of rising population, flattening oil production and the depletion of soil fertility and fresh water. World grain consumption has exceeded global production in six of the last seven years, falling over 60 million tonnes below consumption in 2006. Global grain reserves have fallen to 57 days from a high of 130 days in 1986. Without large quantities of cheap oil, this revolution could not have occurred. As the oil supply begins its inevitable decline, food production will be affected. Over the next decades the food supply key to maintaining our burgeoning population will come under increasing pressure, and will be subject to its own decline.

Oil and natural gas together make up about 60% of humanity's primary energy. Oil is at the heart of humanity's enormous energy economy as well as at the heart of its food supply. Humanity's use of oil has quadrupled the Earth's carrying capacity since 1900.

If the population stays constant or continues to rise, per capita consumption must fall. The population may fall to a lower level than was sustainable. We are getting signals from our environment that all is not well and seem to be telling us we are approaching the maximum carrying capacity. While humanity has not yet reached the carrying capacity of a world with oil, our population today is at least five times what it was before oil came on the scene, and it is still growing. If this resource were to be exhausted, our population would have no option but to decline to the level supportable by the world's lowered carrying capacity.

The theory of Peak Oil says that the world's oil production will decline and the signals of Peak Oil are all around. The decline in oil supply will reduce the planet's carrying capacity, thus forcing humanity into overshoot with the inevitable consequence of a population decline. The rapidity of the decline following the peak will determine whether our descent will be a leisurely stroll down to the canyon floor or a headlong tumble.

This is a looming catastrophe that is the product of our species' continuing growth in both numbers and ability, an exponential growth that is taking place within the finite ecological niche of the entire world. Our recent growth has been fueled by the draw-down of primordial stocks of petroleum which are about to deplete while our numbers and activities continue to grow. This is a simple recipe for disaster.    rw doclink

National Petroleum Council Pictures Life After Conventional Crude.
July 17, 2007   Houston Chronicle

The National Petroleum Council, in a draft report released this week, confirms that conventional crude oil supplies won't keep up with global demand in the next quarter century. It recommends an array of future approaches, such as improving vehicle fuel economy; pushing biofuels, oil shale, and tar sands; opening off-limits areas to drilling; and curbing carbon dioxide.    rw doclink

U.S.;: New Battery Packs Powerful Punch.
July 04, 2007   USA Today

A new type of a room-size battery, (NaS) may be poised to store electric energy almost as easily as a reservoir stockpiles water. Compared with other batteries plagued by limited life spans or unwieldy bulk, the sodium-sulfur battery is compact, long-lasting and efficient.

Utilities could defer construction of new transmission lines, substations and power plants. The batteries make wind power a more reliable resource. And they provide backup power in case of outages. Power demand is projected to soar 50% by 2030 and other methods of expanding the power supply are facing obstacles. Congress is likely to cap carbon dioxide emissions by traditional power plants. Communities are fighting plans for high-voltage transmission lines needed to zap electricity across regions.

American Electric Power (AEP), has been using a 1.2 megawatt NaS battery and plans to install a larger one next year. If you've got these batteries distributed in the neighborhood, you have, in a sense, lots of little power plants. The NaS battery is the most advanced of several energy-storage technologies that utilities are testing. The oldest collects water after it spins a turbine and uses a small amount of electricity to send it back and repeat the process.

Lead-acid batteries last about five years because the acid corrodes components.

A NaS battery, uses a porcelain-like material to bridge the electrodes, giving it a life span of about 15 years and takes up about a fifth of the space. Ford Motor pioneered the battery in the 1960s.

Japanese businesses have installed enough NaS batteries to light about 155,000 homes. In the USA, AEP is using the 30 by 15-foot-high battery to supply 10% of the electricity needs of 2,600 customers. The battery, which cost about $2.5 million, is charged by generators at night, when demand and prices are low, and discharged when power usage peaks.

The battery lets AEP postpone by about seven years the $10 million upgrade of a substation. After it upgrades the substation, AEP can move the battery to another location.

A more intriguing goal is to wring more energy out of wind farms. Wind typically blows hard at night when power demand is low, producing energy that cannot be used. NaS batteries could let AEP store wind-generated power.

AEP plans to install another NaS battery in West Virginia to provide backup power in case of an outage. In Long Island, N.Y., a group of utilities plans to install a NaS battery that is charged at night, when power prices are low, and discharged during the day to pump natural gas into tanks for the buses. That cuts electric costs and eases stresses on the grid. The biggest drawback is price. The battery costs about 10% more than a new coal-fired plant.
Mass production is expected to drive prices down.

A group of Iowa municipal utilities plans to use wind turbines to compress air to be stored in an underground cavern. The air would be released at peak periods to run turbines and generate power for about 200,000 homes.    rw doclink

Banks Take Steps Towards Carbon Credit Regulation.
June 28, 2007   The Financial Times

A group of more than 10 banks agreed a standard for "carbon offsets" bought by companies and individuals. They were reacting to a risk to their reputations following reports of problems in the market for carbon offsets. In April the FT found examples of companies trading carbon offsets that carried no environmental benefits.

The main problems lie in the fact that - unlike the market for credits set up under the United Nations-brokered Kyoto protocol and the European Union's greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme - there are no standards. The banks agreed to base their standard on a system of checks set up by the UN under the Kyoto protocol. Companies will have their operations checked by independent third parties.

Offsets must be based on projects that clear methodologies for cutting carbon. Companies cannot claim offsets from generating nuclear power or from hydroelectric dams.

The banks hope that by publishing the criteria they can encourage companies and consumers buying offsets to check that their offsets meet the criteria.

Most credits are issued under Kyoto, by which developed countries agree to cut their emissions by about 5% by 2012. The UN issues credits to projects that cut emissions in developing countries, and the credits can be bought by developing country governments to count towards their emissions reduction targets.

The market for carbon credits under Kyoto was worth about $5bn (€3.7bn, £2.5bn) last year.

Environmental groups say buying offsets salves consciences rather than resulting in a reduction in emissions.    rw doclink

What Role Coal? U.S. Rep. Edward Markey Weighs in on the Controversial Fuel.
June 21, 2007   Grist Magazine

Coal has provided the majority of our electricity and has been a principal source of energy since the Industrial Revolution, but also produced the global warming issues we face today.

We must combine the economic reforms of a new industrial revolution based on clean energy.

There are two main issues: "coal-to-electricity" and "coal-to-liquids." Capturing carbon pollution and sequestering it underground would make it possible to use coal as a major electricity source; turning coal into liquid to replace gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel would make global warming worse. The process is not new. It was adopted on a large industrial scale by the Germans in World War II, and later by an embargoed apartheid South Africa.

Without carbon capture and storage, liquid coal fuel contributes more than double the pollution produced by a burning petroleum-based fuels. But when carbon capture systems are added, it is worse for the environment than regular gasoline. Liquid coal is also expensive with small returns compared to the amount of energy needed to create it. The water resources would be staggering: 4.6 billion gallons per year of liquid fuels from coal would require 21 to 60 billion gallons of water per year.

China backed off from liquid coal fuels. Instead, they are relying on fuel economy standards. Here the Markey-Platts bill mandates a fuel economy increase to 35 mpg by 2018, and 4% a year after that. This would reduce America's oil dependence by 10%.

Compared with ethanol, made from grasses that grow wild, and garbage, liquid coal just doesn't stack up. Cellulosic ethanol's total heat-trapping emissions can be as low as a quarter of those from conventional gasoline.

The other coal technology is carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). But we have a huge stake in solving the CCS problem, without it we are unlikely to convince China and India that they can grow while controlling global warming.

We need to enact policies to create the market for cleaner fuels. That means a market-based system for capping heat-trapping emissions and giving businesses flexibility. But we'll also need new standards to ensure coal-fired plants are using this technology.    rw doclink

New Energy Rules Could Unleash An Economic Boom and Help Quash Climate Change.
May 22, 2007   Grist Magazine

It's clear that it will be more costly not to act on global warming than to act. Voters, investors, activists, business leaders, and policy experts are pushing for clean energy to create jobs, limit climate change, and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. But the laws, regulations, subsidies, and tax credits continue to make fossil fuels a less expensive choice for consumers.

The three largest technology IPOs of 2005 were solar-energy companies and clean energy is the opportunity of the 21st century.

Wind power now costs about 5% of what it did 25 years ago. Solar energy costs are down more than 90% since 1970. The price of renewable energy will drop another 45% over the next 20 years.

Support for a new energy future is coming from everyone, and includes the CEOs from DuPont, GE, and Duke Energy. But our energy habits are stuck in the past. Carbon dioxide emissions are up 19% since 1990 and still rising. Oil imports are up 70% since 1990 and still rising. Renewable sources provide 6% of America's energy and that share is not rising.

Consumers will not change their energy habits until we reach the point at which clean energy beats coal and oil in price, convenience, and availability.

If we want to change the future, we have to change the rules.

Good rules align the interests of individuals and corporations with the public interest. Capitalism, bounded by smart rules has in the past delivered the desired result more easily than anyone thought possible.

But the world is different today. Geologists estimate that the Middle East has over 6% of the world's oil reserves, the U.S. just 3%. Emissions from our power plants and vehicles are wrecking the world's climate.

The rules today give oil and gas companies billions of dollars in tax breaks and research subsidies but do not factor in the indirect costs of oil. Auto companies sell cars that get as little as 13 miles per gallon. Utility companies make more money when their customers waste energy and less when they save it. Until 1984, telecommunications in the US were monopolized by AT&T. For a time, that ensured dependability during the early years of the industry. But when rivals emerged, the government changed the rules. The market took over, and the telecom revolution began.

Many of our competitors are moving more quickly to capitalize on the new jobs and industries that will come with clean energy. Because of their rules, our competitors are farther along than the US in the transition to new energy, and have captured most of the growth and jobs along the way. Japan is now the world leader, producing 43% of the world's solar-energy products. Europe produces 90% of the world's wind turbines. Brazil has led the way on biofuels.

We still have a chance. Our educated workforce, top-level universities, and culture of innovation still position us to capitalize as the world moves to clean energy.
* Clean energy: We'll use more biofuels, wind and solar.
* Energy efficiency: Our buildings, cars, and appliances will require less energy.
* Carbon capture: Emissions from coal-fired power plants will be pumped underground.
* A "smarter" grid: Digital technology will make the power grid more efficient, reliable, and better able to draw on renewable resources.

Here are five rule changes that would reduce emissions, give consumers new choices, launch new businesses, and accelerate the transition to new energy technologies:

Put a price on carbon, that would create a market for any technology that reduced global-warming emissions.

Carbon limits should be broad-based, predictable, and achievable. Congress should pass tough standards for "carbon efficiency." This is the technology of the future, and it is where Detroit should be making its investments.

EPA should require oil companies to phase out the harmful additives in their gasoline. Benzene, toluene, and xylene. Today, these toxic additives make up more than a quarter of every gallon of gasoline.

Make energy efficiency the business of utilities. When a utility can make more money helping people save energy rather than use energy, that's a smart set of rules.

Utilities should be able to earn a return on structural investments in energy efficiency just as they do in a new power plant. Utilities should be compensated for buying solar panels and geothermal heat pumps. Modernize the electric power grid to be more efficient. A modernized, digitally connected national electricity grid will be more secure, reliable, and resilient. A modern grid will also be able to manage intermittent power flows from renewable-energy sources and give producers.

The government should boost incentives and dramatically increase R&D spending for clean energy. Coal can continue its large role in meeting the nation's power needs only if its global-warming emissions can be sequestered. A program of research and development is needed in this area. To pay for this work, we can cut back our handouts to the oil companies. Subsidies for clean energy should be increased as the price of oil falls, and reduced or eliminated if oil stays near current levels. Within a decade, clean alternatives to oil will not need subsidies if the scale of markets is large enough.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: the author of this article seems unaware of the pitfalls of biofuels.
Global Rush to Energy Crops Threatens to Bring Food Shortages and Increase Poverty, Says UN.
May 08, 2007   Guardian (London)

The rush to energy derived from plants will drive deforestation, push small farmers off the land and lead to serious food shortages and increased poverty unless carefully managed. Rich countries want to see crops grown for fuel to help stabilise the price of oil, open up new markets. But the UN urges governments to beware their impacts. The report, which predicts winners and losers, will be studied carefully by the emerging multi-billion dollar a year biofuel industry which wants to provide 25% of the world's energy within 20 years.

17 countries have committed themselves to growing the crops on a large scale.

Last year more than a third of the US maize crop went to ethanol, a 48% increase, and Brazil and China grew the crops on nearly 50m acres of land. The EU has said that 10% of all fuel must come from biofuels by 2020.
The crops have the potential to stabilise the price of oil, but forests are being felled to grow plantations of palm oil trees. The UN warns: The use of large scale cropping could lead to significant biodiversity loss, soil erosion, and nutrient leaching.
One school of thought argues that these crops will take the best land, which will increase global food prices.

Growing biofuel crops can be harmful to farmers who do not own their own land, and to the poor who buy food. Biofuel programmes can result in a concentration of ownership that could drive the poorest farmers off their land. The crops could transform the rural economy potentially leading to problems. Still larger companies will enter the rural economy, controlling the price paid to producers. Using biofuels results in some reductions in emissions but this is provided there is no clearing of forest that store centuries of carbon.

You cannot fight climate change by large scale deforestation. Investments need to be planned carefully to avoid generating new environmental and social problems.    rw doclink

Pentagon Study Says Oil Reliance Strains Military; Urges Development of Alternative Fuels.
May 01, 2007   Boston Globe

A new study warns that the rising cost and dwindling supply of oil will make the US military's ability to respond to hot spots around the world "unsustainable in the long term."

The study concludes that all four branches of the military must take immediate steps toward fielding weapons systems and aircraft that run on alternative and renewable fuels and apply new energy technologies that address alternative supply sources and efficient consumption. Weaning the military from fossil fuels quickly would be a herculean task, as the bulk of the US arsenal is dependent on fossil fuels and have been designed to remain in service for several decades.

Pentagon advisers believe the military's growing consumption of fossil fuels leaves Pentagon leaders with little choice but to break with the past as soon as possible. We are at the edge of a precipice and we have one foot over the edge. Just cutting back won't work.

"Transforming the Way DoD Looks at Energy," is a potential blueprint for a new military energy strategy and includes a detailed survey of potential alternatives to oil. The report adds a powerful voice warning that, as oil supplies dwindle during the next half-century, US reliance on fossil fuels poses a serious risk to national security.

The Department of Defense is the largest single energy consumer in the country.

The military's energy consumption has grown as its arsenal has become more mechanized. In WW II, the US consumed about a gallon of fuel per soldier per day, In 2006, the US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan burned about 16 gallons of fuel per soldier on average per day.

The Pentagon's strategic planning has placed a premium on being able to deploy forces quickly around the world from the US.

The National Defense Strategy calls for an increased US military presence around the globe to be able to combat terrorist groups and respond to crises. The US military will have to employ new technologies, and manage a more complex logistics system. The costs of relying on oil are consuming an increasing share of the military's budget. Energy costs have doubled since Sept. 11, 2001, it says, and the cost of conducting operations could become so expensive that the military will not be able to pay for some of its new weapon systems.

The US spends an average of $44 billion per year safeguarding oil supplies in the Persian Gulf. Achieving an energy transformation at the Department of Defense will require the commitment, personal involvement, and leadership.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: wouldn't it have been a whole lot easier taxing gasoline starting twenty years ago and using the money to develop renewable energy? Then there would have been no need for this terribly costly war. Let's not kid ourselves - it's not a war on terror - it's a war to protect oil.
Oil Futures Bidding to Heat Up as Energy Crisis Looms.
April 20, 2007   Daily Reckoning

Oil ended 2006 at just over $60 a barrel. This reassured the public that all talk about Peak Oil was hysterical blather from a lunatic fringe. But another ominous trend can account for the stalling of oil prices in 2006. Third World has dropped out of bidding for it and using it. They cannot afford $60 a barrel.

This is manifesting itself in local resource wars, genocides, falling life expectancies, and in places, an unraveling of the sociopolitical order. The major trend on the oil scene for the past 12 months has been the inability of the world to lift production above 85 million barrels a day. It is unclear how much more demand destruction will come out of the Third World before bidding intensifies between the developed nations.

One commentator is advancing the idea that we are entering an oil export crisis that will presage a more permanent world-wide oil emergency. Major oil exporting nations are using so much of their product, because of rising populations, that their net exports are falling at an alarming rate. This combines with depletion rates around 3% a year.

The question of total oil reserves remains murky, but using a straightforward mathematical model, the world is at the same point in production as the lower-48 United States was in 1970. We know that three of the four super giant oil fields are past peak and there is plenty of evidence that the greatest of them all, in Saudi Arabia, is perhaps "crashing" into a super-steep decline.

Discovery of new oil remains paltry. Meanwhile, companies developing tar sand production announced that their costs of production were rising substantially, and how much of Canada's fast-disappearing natural gas reserves will be squandered in melting tar. American corporate farmers have entered into a racket with congress to subsidize ethanol production from corn and biodiesel fuel from soybeans.

America remains ignorant of the futility of this project, which is a net energy "loser." Americans will have to choose between food and making fuel.
Everybody believe that this is the only thing we need to worry about. The truth is that we have to make other arrangements for the activities of everyday life, farming, commerce, transport, settlement patterns, but we are so over-invested in our suburban infrastructure that we cannot face reality.

Expect the bidding on the futures markets to regain intensity between the United States, China, Europe, and Japan. The sad truth is that we burn up most of the oil we use in cars, and American life is now so hopelessly based on incessant motoring that citizens cannot even go down to the unemployment office without driving. Over the next decade, the gap between U.S. demand for natural gas and dwindling supply may amount to one-and-a-half times the current equivalent of our oil imports.

Natural gas is used for heating and accounts for just under 20% of our electricity production. Gas prices are responding only to the shortest-term signals, rather than to the catastrophic long-term reserve picture.

We are unlikely to solve our natural gas problems with imports because of the cost and difficulty of moving the stuff by means other than pipelines and most of the remaining gas in the world is in Asia.    rw doclink

Op Ed by Charles Hall and Nate Gagnon on Oil Supplies.
April 05, 2007   OpEd by Charles Hall and Nate Gagnon on Oil Supplies

An article "Oil innovations pump new life into old wells" by Jad Mouawad is misleading. The author would have us believe that technological innovations will increase the oil recoverable from known fields to compensate for the dearth of new discoveries. It gives a false sense of security about our difficult oil situation. Steam injection has been used in the Kern River field since 1965 and oil production in this field peaked in 1984 and has been declining sharply since about 1997. Most of the innovations are old technologies, implemented in the 1920s. Depletion is more important than technological development. The increases in production from the Kern River and Duri fields are small relative to the production declines from many of the world's most important oil fields. All have been subject to the kind of technologies mentioned, sometimes for many decades, and all are clearly in steep decline or have ceased production. The best oil field technology in the world has not stopped the US production from declining by 50% since its peak in 1970. Furthermore, many of the technologies mentioned in the article tend to be extremely expensive in dollars and in energy. Making steam and pumping it into the ground to dispersed oil-field sites, requires enormous investments of energy. The dismissive comments about peak oil theory are ill informed and ignore the importance of the message from geologists, other scientists, environmentalists, financiers and citizens who see a serious situation ahead of us for oil and, especially in North America, natural gas. Hiding our heads in the sand and putting our faith in technological developments seems to us to be a very bad idea.    rw doclink

The Peak Oil Crisis: the GAO Report.
April 05, 2007   The Peak Oil Crisis

The Government released its report on peak oil and it is clearly a milestone through the oil age and the first time the staff of a major government agency has looked at the issue. It concluded that if peak oil occurs soon, it could cause world-wide recession. The US, as the world's biggest consumer of oil, is the most vulnerable. 60% of the world's oil reserves are now controlled by unstable countries; at best, the US could hope to replace about 4% of its liquid fuel consumption with alternatives by 2015;. The key question is "when will it happen," and "when will the economic troubles begin?" The GAO concluded that peak production will between now and 2040.

Judging from the blogs, most people following peak oil are outraged at the judgment that the most that can be said about the timing of peak oil is "sometime in the next 33 years."

Despite quiet preparations for peak oil, no national leader has as yet said anything similar - the consequences are simply too unpredictable.

No responsible government agency will officially conclude that serious economic problems are coming.

It is likely that the world will muddle into the era of peak oil as it has muddled into global warming. The real dilemma of coping peak oil, is simple. If the government should lay out the full ramifications of peaking the most immediate consequence is likely to be serious economic setback. The alternative is to leave the future with room for hope. Talk about reducing dependence of foreign oil instead. No responsible government wants to see economic troubles start any sooner than necessary. The National Petroleum Council is poised to pronounce on the issue in the next few months. If governments have their way, we will stumble into peak oil over a period during which gasoline prices cycle inexorably upwards.    rw doclink

The Peak Oil Crisis: the GAO Report.
April 05, 2007   The Peak Oil Crisis

The Government released its report on peak oil and it is the first time a major government agency has concluded that peak oil could cause a world-wide recession. The US is the most vulnerable to the consequences of peaking.

60% of the world's oil reserves are controlled by unstable countries. At best, the US could only replace about 4% of its liquid fuel with alternatives by 2015.

A hydrogen-based economy is not in the immediate cards.

The GAO concluded that peak production will come before 2040, thereby removing any sense of urgency. Despite quiet preparations for peak oil in many countries around the world, no national leader has as yet said anything the consequences are too unpredictable.

No government agency will officially conclude that serious economic problems are coming soon. Those who had hoped the report would confirm that world oil production was hovering at the edge of a collapse were bound to be disappointed.

The GAO could make an even bigger splash by convincing the president to go on prime time tell the American people that all available evidence leads to the conclusion that, soon, gasoline will be too expensive for them to afford. They should immediately sell their gas guzzlers, put their over-mortgaged houses on the market, stop using credit cards, dump all their stocks, and plant a garden.

It is likely that the world will muddle its way into the era of peak oil in much the way it has muddled into global warming. If the government should lay out the ramifications of peaking, the immediate consequence is likely to be serious economic setback.

The alternative is to leave the future a bit murky with room for hope. There will probably never be an unambiguous report on the timing of peak oil. If governments have their way, we will stumble into peak oil over a period during which gasoline prices cycle upwards and various compensating actions are taken.

The GAO did their job by warning Congress that peak oil might be a very serious problem very soon.    rw doclink

More US College Students Studying Clean Energy.
March 29, 2007   Reuters

More US college students are looking into careers in alternative energy, and US universities are adding courses on clean energy and the environment.

The number of Berkeley undergraduates in introductory energy courses has tripled and a new class in solar photovoltaics signed up 70 students.

Venture capital cash is fueling new companies and alternative energies like nanotech solar cells and biofuels. Venture capital for energy and environmental technology nearly doubled from a year earlier to US$1.28 billion.

At Stanford University the Petroleum Engineering Department has renamed itself the Energy Resources Engineering Department and The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has offered courses in green architecture and sustainable development.

A Stanford conference, which included senior partners from some of Silicon Valley's top venture capital firms, had 1,400 attending. 60% to 70% were students, hoping to talk about opportunities with venture capitalists. Students want good jobs in clean-tech companies and to help move the energy industry to renewable fuels.

The clean tech industry will have a direct impact on our world in the next decade.

There is a 'fad' dynamic to this, but it is going to be a long-term thing. Technological innovation, the rising cost of oil, conflict in the Middle East and the public's growing awareness of global climate change are having an impact.

The environment is part of every aspect of the world.    rw doclink

Oil Innovations Pump New Life Into Old Wells.
March 05, 2007   New York Times*

Within the last decade, technology has made it possible to unlock more oil from old fields, and, higher oil prices have made it economical to go after reserves that are harder to reach. In a study published in 2000, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that recoverable resources of conventional oil totaled 3.3 trillion barrels, of which a third has been produced. More recently, an energy consultant, estimated that the total base of recoverable oil was 4.8 trillion barrels. That is likely to grow with new technology.

There is still a minority view that oil production has peaked, but the theory has been fading. Environmentalists do not think that consuming an increasing amount of fossil fuel is desirable.

Increased projections for how much oil is extractable may become a political topic. But by reassuring the public that supplies will meet demands, oil companies may find legislators more reluctant to consider opening areas to new exploration.

Petroleum Exporting Countries will likely see its clout reinforced in coming years. The 12-country cartel, is poised to control more than 50% of the oil market in coming years, as Western oil production declines.

Oil companies say they can see few alternatives to fossil fuels which means that global carbon emissions will continue to increase. The quest for new discoveries is taking place alongside returning to old or mature fields because there are few virgin places left to explore.

At Bakersfield, Chevron is using steam-flooding technology and computerized three-dimensional models to boost the output of the field's heavy oil reserves.
Some forecasters, have argued that at some point by 2010, global oil production will peak if it has not already and begin to fall.

“I am very, seriously worried about the future,” said the president of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas. “Oil is in limited supplies.”

Oil executives say peak-oil theorists fail to take into account the way that technology, combined with higher prices that make searches for new oil more affordable, are opening up opportunities to develop supplies. Oil companies can only produce one barrel for every three they find. Two usually are left either because they are too hard to pump out or because it would be too expensive.
What has been missing is the technology and the threshold price that will lead to a revolution in lifting that oil.

New seismic tools giving geologists a better view of oil fields, and the ability to drill horizontal wells could boost reserves.

Saudi Arabia's total reserves were almost three times higher that the officially published figure of 260 billion barrels.

Thanks to more sophisticated technology, ultimate reserves in Saudi Arabia eventually reached 1 trillion barrels.

After decades of trial and error, Chevron believes it will be able to recover up to 80% percent of the oil from the Bakersfield field, more than twice the industry's average recovery rate at a cost of $16 per barrel compared with only $2 a barrel in the Persian Gulf.

Oil companies have been injecting gases and liquids into oil fields, including water and soap, natural gas, carbon dioxide and even hydrogen sulfide.
The world has consumed more than 1 trillion barrels of oil, mostly the light, kind that was easy to find, pump and refine. But as these light sources are depleted.

Analysts estimate there are about 1 trillion barrels of heavy oil, tar sands, and shale-oil deposits in places like Canada, Venezuela and the United States that can be turned into liquid fuel by enhanced recovery methods like steam-flooding.

Oil companies are now in a race to increase supplies to catch the growth of consumption. The world consumed about 31 billion barrels of oil last year. Demand is forecast to rise 40% by 2030.

In 1978, operators believed the Bakersfield field would be abandoned within 15 years. But peak oil is a moving target, a function of price and technology.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: it isn't the price of producing energy that matters so much as the energy required to remove the oil from the ground. New technologies may prove more energy efficient, but more and more efficiency will be required as oil supplies dwindle. Can technology keep up with the tremendous growth in demand? Why not put energy efficiency into the refinement, transportation, and consumption end? And practice energy conservation as well? Why not, instead of oil recovery technology, put research dollars into energy alternatives that will ultimately be cheaper than extracting oil from the ground?
US California;: S.F. Supes Vote to Ban Plastic Shopping Bags; Supermarkets and Chain Pharmacies Would Have to Use Recyclable Or Compostable Sacks.
March 2007   San Jose Mercury News

San Francisco outlaws plastic checkout bags at large supermarkets in six months and large chain pharmacies in a year.

Fifty years ago, plastic bags were seen as a more environmentally friendly alternative to the deforesting paper bag. Now 180 million plastic bags are distributed to shoppers each year in San Francisco. They are hard to recycle and easily blow into trees and waterways, where they are blamed for killing marine life. San Francisco officials considered a 17-cent tax on petroleum-based plastic bags before reaching a deal with the California Grocers Association that called for large supermarkets to reduce by 10 million the number of bags given to shoppers. The grocers cut back by 7.6 million, but city officials called that figure unreliable.

Under the legislation, large markets and pharmacies will have the option of using compostable bags made of corn starch or bags made of recyclable paper.
The grocers association has warned that the new law will lead to higher prices. It will frustrate recycling efforts and will increase consumer and retailer costs. There's also a concern about the availability and quality of compostable bags.

The legislation is one in a string of environmentally sensitive measures adopted by the city in recent months.

It takes 430,000 gallons of oil to manufacture 100 million bags. Compostable bags can be recycled in the city's green garbage bins. The lone dissenting voice noted that 95,000 small businesses in San Francisco will continue to use plastic bags and we need to move on to the larger issues in San Francisco.    rw doclink

Matt Simmons (Bloomberg): Peak Oil Now, Oil Perhaps to $300.
February 2007   You Tube /Bloomberg

Follow the link to a video on Peak Oil.   doclink

UK Organic Body Considers Airfreight Ban.
January 29, 2007   Washington Post

Britain's leading organic certification body may withhold its seal from produce flown in by air, which could hit African producers of organic fruit and vegetables.

The Soil Association certifies more than 70% of the organic produce sold in Britain. If it withheld certification, organic producers might turn to other certification bodies.

The ban could impact companies which fly in freshly harvested organic pineapples from Ghana to UK customers. Transport has also been an issue in other organic sectors including milk.

Britain's dairy farmers have been struggling to keep pace with demand for organic milk. Britain is self-sufficient in conventional milk but it imports some organic milk.

The rise in imports has sparked concern in Britain's organic movement, which has argued against transporting food long distances.

Overall Britain was able to produce about 70% of the organic food which can be grown in its climate, compared with importing 70% 10 years ago, but shortages could occur if demand increases.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: Buy Locally is going to become the slogan everywhere as we see fuel prices rise.
A Coalition for Firm Limit on Emissions.
January 16, 2007   New York Times*

A group, including General Electric, DuPont and Alcoa, is aimed at accelerating Congressional action on emissions controls and the creation of a market for CO2 to be traded to achieve the greatest reduction at the lowest cost.

This could send a strong signal that businesses want increasing political momentum for federal emissions controls.

Many expressed concern that various state efforts could lead to a scattershot system, or that harsher measures could be imposed.

The group includes four utilities Duke Energy, based in North Carolina; PG&E of California; the FPL Group of Florida; and PNM Resources of New Mexico also BP and Lehman Brothers.

The negotiations did not produce model legislation, but a set of principles that they suggest as a guide to any legislation. Such a system would allow better-performing companies to sell or trade unneeded credits, and all companies would be able to determine whether it would be more efficient to clean up their emissions or buy credits from others.

The principles include a range of emissions levels from 100% to 105% of current levels within five years, then down to 90% to 100% in 10 years, and 70% to 90% in 15 years. The chief executives agreed to discourage further construction of sources that cannot capture carbon dioxide.

This comes close to a rejection of almost all new coal-fired power plants on the drawing boards. The technology that would bury carbon dioxide emissions is still in development. The most important thing is to have a diverse portfolio of resources, and coal has to be part of that mix.

GE's Ecomagination program combined pledges of emissions reductions with a new emphasis on energy-efficient and climate-friendly technologies.

An efficient cap-and-trade system would stimulate the development of new technologies to cut energy use and provide renewable energy.

General Electric claims revenues from the sale of energy-efficient and environmentally advanced products and services hit $10 billion in 2005, up from $6.2 billion in 2004.    rw doclink

Upward Mobility Exxonmobil Says It's Taking Climate Change Exxon Mobil Greens Up Its Act.
January 12, 2007   ABC News

Exxon invited environmentalists, socially responsible mutual funds and religious investors to a two-day retreat with company executives to analyze the government's options for mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases.

In a telephone interview, Exxon's vice president of public affairs acknowledged that the company has made an effort for several years to open up, because it felt misunderstood or unfairly maligned.

He said: "We should reduce emissions in ways that are cost-effective and sustainable."

There is a role for policy," he said. "The devil's in the details, and we want to be part of that discussion."

The company seems to have "moved from outright denial to what seems to be a more nuanced position" on climate change. The Worldwatch Institute, said "They realize that they are losing in their attempt to confuse the science of climate change. They want to be in there to influence the course of discussion."
The company has been targeted by groups ranging from Greenpeace to the Human Rights Campaign. The company has also had difficulty communicating its social and environmental successes such as its support for a $225 million Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford, which is researching alternative energy and fuels.

Exxon got little credit for its nuts-and-bolts efforts to reduce oil spills, workplace injuries and energy usage.    rw doclink

Bush Lifts Oil and Gas Drilling Ban for Alaska Bay.
January 09, 2007   KATC3, Associated Press

President Bush lifted a ban on oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Bristol Bay, which clears the way to open 5.6 million acres of the waters northeast of the Alaska Peninsula. There will be study and public comment before any oil and gas development could take place. Alaska state and some local and native groups had asked that the ban be ended to spur the local fishing-dominated economy.

There are believed to be 200 million barrels of oil and 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas 3 to 200 miles from shore. Development could produce up to 11,500 jobs and new tax revenue for the state.

But the area has fisheries with huge annual catches of salmon, cod, red king crab, halibut and herring.

Concern over those fisheries prompted limits to drilling in 1990 after the Valdez tanker oil spill.

Opening the waters to oil and gas drilling has outraged environmentalists and fishermen.

The areas for leasing overlaps the migratory route for all of the wild salmon the western Alaska river system.

But others welcome the economic potential with caution.

The Aleutians East Borough's administrator said developing the offshore oil and gas brings jobs and helps the economy which has declined because of competition and farm-raised salmon.

Environmentalists maintained that local support has been overstated and many of the native groups, and fishing groups oppose oil and gas development. More than 30 people wrote Bush, urging him to keep oil and gas rigs out of the bay.

There will be environmental review before any leases are issued. The royalty rate for new deep-water oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico will be raised to 16.7% from 12.5%. The move is to get oil companies to renegotiate flawed 1998-99 deep-water leases that avoided royalty payments.    rw doclink

Peruvians Sue Oil Giant Over Amazon Pollution .
2007   Guardian (London)

An indigenous tribe from the Peruvian Amazon sued the Occidental Petroleum company, alleging that the company knowingly put the health of the Achuar at risk and damaged their habitat.

A lawyer for the Achuar said: "The widespread lead poisoning of hundred of children and the exposure of hundreds of adults and children to contamination demands damages. But theAchuar want relief to clean up the mess.

The claim comes after members of the tribe attended Occidental's AGM to force the company to address their grievances.

A tribal representative, said that people are sick and dying. The water is not fit to drink and we can no longer eat the fish or the animals.

By 1975 Occidental was the largest onshore oil field in Peru, with 230 wells producing 115,000 barrels of crude oil a day - 42% of the nation's oil production.

Occidental sold its concession to the Argentinian Pluspetrol in 2000. But the Achuar argue that Occidental is responsible not only for what it did over 30 years but also for setting up the systems that continue to pollute the area.

A report claimed that Occidental dumped toxic oil by-products into rivers and streams. The report, states that Occidental "knowingly employed out-of-date practices and used methods outlawed in the US, and in violation of Peruvian law".

A spokesman for Occidental, said he had not seen the claim, but the company had ceased all activity in the area in 1999. He said the report contained inflammatory statements, unfounded allegations and unsupported conclusions.    rw doclink

U.S. Motorists Driving a Little Less.
November 30, 2006   MarketWatch

A study by finds that the average American drove 13,657 miles in 2005, down from 13,711 in 2004. Last year also saw SUVs comprise a smaller part of new-vehicle sales. While gas consumption continues to rise, demand grew only 0.3% last year and 1% for the first 11 months of 2006. Gas costs about 3.8% of average household spending. The graying of the population has contributed, as older drivers tend to drive less.    rw doclink

The Debate About Environmental Limits to Economic Growth is Coming Back with a Vengeance.
November 29, 2006   New York Times*

Twenty-six years ago, Paul Ehrlich, John Harte and John P. Holdren bet Julian Simon that the prices of five key metals would rise in the next decade.

Ten years later, there was a decline in the metals' prices after accounting for inflation. Human inventiveness, stimulated by modern markets, would always trump scarcity.

In the 1990s ideas (not physical capital or material resources) were the new source of wealth.

But today, Mr. Ehrlich and his colleagues may have the last laugh. The world's supply of cheap energy is tightening, and humankind's output of greenhouse gases is disrupting the earth's climate.

The most important resource is energy, the one ingredient essential for every economic activity. A measure of the cost of any energy source is the amount required to produce it. We can evaluate any project that generates energy by dividing the amount of energy it produces by the amount it consumes.

This is the "energy return on investment" or EROI. As the average EROI of an economy's energy sources drops toward 1 to 1, an ever-larger fraction of the economy's wealth must go to producing energy. The EROI for conventional oil has been falling for decades. The trend is most advanced in US production, where petroleum resources have been exploited the longest. From the early 1970s to today the return on investment of oil and natural gas extraction in the United States fell from about 25 to 1 to about 15 to 1.

We've most likely tapped the highest EROI oil and gas fields, and the best rivers for hydropower. Now, as we're turning to alternatives like nuclear power we're spending more energy to get energy.

For example, tar sands have an EROI of around 4 to 1. Climate change could also constrain growth. Without restraints on greenhouse gas emissions, by 2100 the annual costs of damage from climate change could reach 20% of output.

Sometimes even the best scientific minds can't crack a technical problem quickly, sometimes market prices give entrepreneurs poor price signals. and, sometimes there just isn't the political will to back the changes needed.

Despite decades of increasingly dire warnings about the risks of dependence on foreign energy, the country now imports two-thirds of its oil; and during the last 20 years, the country's output of carbon dioxide has increased by a fifth.

As the price of energy rises and as the planet gets hotter, we need higher investment in innovation.

We really need to think how our societies can maintain their social and political stability, when we can no longer count on economic growth.    rw doclink

What is Peak Oil?.
November 23, 2006   Eclipse Now - Dave Lankshear

Oil production starts off slow, then as more wells are drilled, volumes increase until production plateaus. This is the maximum output you will ever produce from that oil field. Soon, the oil field goes into decline as the deeper oil takes more energy to extract, and is more expensive to process. You have moved from a growing output of cheap oil to a decreasing output of poor quality oil.
Many are saying we are getting the most oil we will ever produce. We may find that 86 million barrels a day is the ceiling of what humanity will ever produce. In just a few years we may be able to see the beginning of the energy down slope.

If we really are at peak oil production, it means that the stark fact is that the Earth holds a finite supply of oil. We are now consuming 4 barrels of oil energy for every barrel discovered.

Exxon-Mobile announced that all non-OPEC oil producing nations would peak in the next 5 years and the world will then rely on OPEC to supply any increase. Oil demand will increase by a million barrels per day each year after 2010 as demand for oil has never been higher. The economic consequences will be catastrophic. Oil provides 90% of transport energy, and the feedstock for our chemical and plastics industry. Smaller nations dependent on tourism will become bankrupt. Skyrocketing oil prices will throw us into the Greater Depression. Industrial agriculture is dependent on oil for pesticides and transporting fertilizers to our farms and many believe humanity is already in a state of worldwide overshoot. They argue that oil is the growth medium that has enabled the human population to reach 6 billion. Without oil our crop yields will collapse. The human population may have to "adjust" to pre-industrial revolution agricultural numbers.

If oil depletion is imminent then the outlook for civilization does appear far more alarming. The technical challenges are vast. Some studies argue that solar cells are net energy losers when including the energy required to construct the solar cells factory. Most bio-fuels have a poor or negative energy use because of the high-energy input from oil pesticides and gas manufactured fertilizers. You have to burn more electricity to manufacture it than you get back from hydrogen. Some people recommend bio-fuels, but growing any crop for fuel would quickly compete with farmland and only give us a tiny fraction of the transport fuel we need. There are many other questions of cost, time to implement, and infrastructure needs. What will we use to replace plastics? What about power backup for when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine? We do have new technologies. We also have eco-city designs that save energy, and would allow a very comfortable lifestyle. Yet it is all too little too late. Our governments are still sleepwalking into this crisis.

Peak oil leaves me questioning the ethical basis of our way of life. Sustainability is now a matter of conscience affecting social justice and poverty. This planet has limited energy resources that the first world has largely consumed at the expense of developing nations.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia: Oil depletion is not just the fault of overconsumers. It is the "fault" of large numbers of consumers. It is even becoming the "fault," in part, of the extremely high growth rate of numbers of people who are just starting to use fossil fuels. For example, China's use of fossil fuels is starting to outpace the U.S.'s use. When it comes down to it, unchecked population growth is the problem.
U.S.;: Google to Convert Headquarters to Solar Power.
October 17, 2006   Boston Globe

Google believes the sun eventually can deliver as much as 30% of the power at its 1-million-square-foot campus in Mountain View about 35 miles south of San Francisco.

The project will require installing more than 9,200 solar panels on the offices. Google bought the campus for $319 million earlier this year.

The solar panels are expected to produce about 1.6 megawatts of electricity. The job is being handled by Pasadena-based EI Solutions. Google wouldn't disclose the project's cost. The anticipated savings should enable Google to recoup the solar project's costs in five to 10 years. Energy costs are a major concern at Google, consumes power to run the computer farms that keep its search engine humming.

Google co-founders also are big supporters of alternative energy. Despite technological advances, solar power is still two to three times more expensive than fossil fuels in the U.S. and relies on government subsidies to compete.

The solar energy industry is expected to grow from $11 billion in 2005 to $51 billion in 2015.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: good for Google! But it's discouraging that they can only get 30%. Is that all anyone can expect to get? Our population and per capita demand are growing so fast that we need other alternatives.
EPA, Drivers' Rankings Clash.
October 17, 2006   Detroit Free Press

Yesterday the EPA released its ranking of the most fuel-efficient vehicles. Toyota Prius ranked No. 1, gets 60 mpg city and 51 mpg highway. Toyota and Honda vehicles took seven of the top 10 spots, although hybrid versions of Ford's Escape and Mercury Mariner also made it into the top 10. The least fuel-efficient car was the Lamborghini SpA L-147/148 Murcielago with automatic transmission, which gets 9 mpg in the city and 14 mpg on the highway. The ranking didn't include trucks or SUVs which weigh over 8,500 pounds and are exempt from fuel-economy rules.    rw doclink

A Power-Grid Report Suggests Some Dark Days Ahead.
October 16, 2006   New York Times*

Companies are not building power plants and power lines fast enough to meet growing demand. The amount of power that could be generated or transmitted would drop below the target levels meant to ensure reliability on peak days in Texas, New England, the Mid-Atlantic area and the Midwest during the next two to three years.

After the blackout of 2003, Congress set up a process that would give the authority to fine American companies that did not follow certain operating standards. It is seeking a similar designation in Canada, since electrically speaking the border is irrelevant.

This is the first report to recommend specific action.

Utilities should be encouraged to pursue financial incentives for customers to cut use during peak hours and reward customers' installation of more efficient equipment or, reward a factory for closing when electricity supplies are expected to be tight.

Planning for adequate capacity has become difficult with the restructuring of the electric industry. Hundreds of companies are involved in only one or two phases of the process. Getting permits to build new power lines has become more difficult.

The balance between supply and demand depends in part on changes in technology. Grid operators can push more power through existing lines, plant operators have found ways to make generators more reliable and increases in the efficiency of how electricity is used could slow demand.

Demand will increase by about 19% over the next 10 years in the US and slightly less in Canada. The construction of power plants and transmission lines will fall short of what is needed. In this country, utilities have contracts with new power plants for only about a third of the capacity that will be needed; in Canada, about two-thirds.

The number of miles of transmission lines, which can help redistribute supplies, will increase by only about 7%.    rw doclink

US Says Will Pull Alaska Wetlands From Oil Drilling.
September 22, 2006   Bloomberg News Service

The US Interior Department says it is willing to withdraw sensitive wetlands from an area in Alaska that it wanted to open to oil and natural gas drilling.

The US District Court of Alaska blocked the plan to allow development on lands around Teshekpuk Lake, saying the assumptions about the environmental impact were faulty.

The department told the court it would pull the wetlands so the matter could be studied further.

The department initially wanted to search for crude oil and natural gas on about 8 million acres. Environmentalists were concerned because 373,000 acres were being put up for lease for the first time.

The reserve is estimated to hold between 5.9 billion and 13.2 billion barrels of oil and 39 trillion to 83 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Steps would be taken to limit the impact of drilling at the biologically sensitive areas near Teshekpuk Lake. Opponents countered the oil and gas were not worth possibly harming the wetlands habitat. The 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve, about the size of Indiana, was created in 1923 to provide energy supplies for the US military.    rw doclink

US California;: Calif. Sues Over Auto Emissions.
September 21, 2006   Guardian (London)

California sued the six largest U.S. and Japanese automakers, claiming carbon dioxide emissions from their vehicles are harming the health of Californians and the environment. The suit argues that the companies have violated public nuisance laws by contributing to global warming and seeks tens of millions of dollars in damages.

They filed the suit because the automakers and the federal government have failed to address global warming.

California will ask other states to join the suit.

A trade group blasted the lawsuit, taking exception with the argument that the automakers aren't doing enough. The industry has embraced clean diesel, flexible fuels and hybrids and has more than 9 million vehicles on the roads that use one of those advanced technologies. Honda said it has a legacy of leadership in fuel economy and low emissions, and is committed to developing environmentally-responsible technology.

It supports California's goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, but it's a matter that should be left to the federal government. California said the top six automakers produce vehicles that emit a total of 289 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in the US each year, 92% of all auto emissions.

A lawsuit challenging a California mandate to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is set to go to trial in January.

California, nine other states and the city of New York, filed a lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's new fuel economy standards for SUVs and light trucks.

California will face two hurdles proving a causal link between auto emissions in California and global warming and quantifying damages.

California is basing its case on the state's public nuisance laws because automakers have repeatedly argued that all other state options should be blocked on the grounds that the federal government pre-empts states on matters of national policy.    rw doclink

New Government Formed in Ivory Coast After Toxic Waste Scandal.
September 15, 2006   New York Times*

The president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, named a new government on Saturday, 10 days after a toxic waste dumping scandal forced the cabinet to resign.

He changed his environment and transportation ministers, both of whom had come under heavy criticism. Prime Minister Banny, named by foreign mediators to head an interim government, remained in place. Other ministers also kept their posts. Public anger boiled over after poisonous sludge was dumped around the city, protesters dragged the former transportation minister from his car and beat him up. Others burned down the home of the director of Abidjan's port.

About 30,000 people have sought treatment, health officials said.

Residents have accused the authorities of being slow and not providing enough information about the waste, which was unloaded by a Panamanian ship chartered by a leading world commodity trader, Trafigura Beheer BV, based in the Netherlands.

The company has said it advised the Ivorian authorities that the waste needed to be disposed of correctly.

The new cabinet grew from 32 to 36 after the Interior Ministry and the Justice and Human Rights Ministry were each split in two.

Tensions are likely to remain high as a UN backed transition expires at the end of October. Mr. Gbagbo has said he remains the lawful leader of the country. But rebel and opposition sides have rejected prolonging his mandate.

Noxious fumes from the toxic waste still hang over parts of Abidjan. Hospitals have been overrun, and residents have been wearing paper masks to try to filter out the fumes. Specialists brought said it appears to contain hydrogen sulfide, which can be deadly in high concentrations.    rw doclink

Fat New Oil Deposits Found in the Gulf of Mexico.
September 05, 2006   The Wall Street Journal

Three oil companies report successful production tests in the Gulf of Mexico. Chevron, Devon Energy and Statoil ASA, the Norwegian oil giant, reported that they had found 3 billion to 15 billion barrels in several fields 175 miles offshore, 30,000 feet below the gulf's surface. They expressed hope that they had the potential of being even larger than those at Prudhoe Bay.

The US has reserves of 29 billion barrels, which the discovery could increase by 50%. It comes as the output of shallower wells in the Gulf of Mexico is ebbing, and environmental resistance to offshore drilling in areas closer to coastlines remains strong.

Success at these depths in the Gulf of Mexico would facilitate ultra-deepwater exploration elsewhere in the world. It will take more than a year of drilling to confirm the value of the find, and the depth will make extraction extremely expensive. By itself, it appears that the discovery could make little more than a dent in the country's energy dependence.

In addition, there is a shortage of rigs able to drill in deep water.

According to Chevron, the successful test was the culmination of about two years of drilling by the three companies. Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil, Anadarko Petroleum and Petróleo Brasileiro have leases on comparable waters in the Gulf, and the successful test is likely to set off a wave of drilling. These are very expensive wells to drill, and the production facilities required are also going to be very expensive.

The Gulf of Mexico may represent the last area in the US where large oil and gas reserves remain, although some experts see the potential for big discoveries deep off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Because the new reserves are far off the Gulf coast, they seem unlikely to attract the opposition from environmentalists who oppose drilling close to beaches.    rw doclink

Philippines;: Saving Taklong Island: Upv Scientists and Volunteers Work Together to Clean Marine Reserve of Oil Slick .
September 01, 2006   The News Today Online

Taklong Island, which is maintained by UP in the Visayas, may still look its pristine self. Nearer one can see the oil slick floating on the water, blackened mangrove roots, and the beachfront with darkened rocks as well as drums of accumulated fuel collected by volunteer cleaners. But underneath, compacted oil has mixed with sand.

The oil spill was caused by the sinking of M/T Solar I, which carried bunker fuel. The Taklong and Tandog islands, as well as the nearby coastal barangays and adjacent marine waters, have been declared as the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, signed in 1990. The primary purpose is to protect and preserve the ecological, scenic, scientific and educational features of the area, which is 1,143.454 hectares, 960 hectares of marine waters with corals and seagrass beds and 183 hectares of land mass and mangrove patches.

The area has a naturally rich fishery resource which, managed well, could support the needs of the coastal and adjacent barangays. The initial assessment shows that the mangroves are the hardest hit in the reserve. The trees may survive the oil spill, but cutting them is a sure way of killing them. The young mangroves will have difficulty surviving. What is important is to keep the coastline stable and ensure that there will be seedlings in the next season.

So far, those who dived last week and until today haven't seen an indication of oil sinking even in the shallow grass beds. But we can see the oil slick on the surface. A team of researchers is collecting samples on the island right now "to determine what happens." For fish staying under the mangroves where the oil is deposited, their food supply and the toxicity of the water will affect them. There will be a consequence on the adult population. It will recover, that's nature. It is good that we have data now we can compare the research results to the original data we have on the reserve. Mangroves serve as a nursery for marine organisms, that's why we cannot expect a lot of marine organisms to grow into adults in the next several months. The marine ecology will eventually balance itself but the time of stabilization is uncertain. The original plan was to take out the affected sand outside the island but considering the volume it will have a huge impact on the beachfront. We hope to wash off the oil from the sand by boiling and then return it back to the beach for further cleaning by the rain.    rw doclink

Peak Oil - Documentary Trailer.
September 2006   Journeyman Pictures

Is the age of cheap oil about to come to an end? According to many experts, we are about to reach the point of "peak oil" -- the level at which supply can no longer keep up with demand. Follow the link to a video on Peak Oil.   doclink

US Alaska;: Asbestos Found in Corroded Pipe .
August 24, 2006   Anchorage Daily News

Discovery of asbestos in Prudhoe, partially shut down some corroded pipelines.

As many as 200 workers have been stripping off a layer of insulation to make way for testing the steel pipes.

This week, BP halted the insulation removal, and sonic testing, after learning that asbestos was in the tarlike resin between the insulation and the pipe.
The workers will be idled pending an assessment of any health risk and what measures might be needed to resume the work.

Prudhoe production stands at less than half its normal output of 400,000 barrels a day.

BP is under orders from federal pipeline regulators to better test its pipes to make sure that new holes and leaks could develop.

The asbestos-infused resin is present only on pipelines in the western half of Prudhoe. The resin has an asbestos content of 5% to 10%. But it doesn't easily break up and fly around in the air in such a way that workers can breathe it.

Workers sometimes have to use lots of muscle power to peel off the insulation and resin and then buff the pipe for a good sonic corrosion test.

Generally, a content level of 1% or more constitutes an asbestos material.

State investigators will seek oil-field workers who might have been exposed. BP is working with the regulators.    rw doclink

Large Oil Spill Occurs in Indian Ocean.
August 15, 2006   Planet Ark

A Japanese tanker spilled about 1.4 million gallons of crude oil in the eastern Indian Ocean following a collision with a cargo ship. In a separate oil spill, the Philippines said that a tanker had sunk in rough seas about 312 miles southeast of Manila, and 528,000 gallons of industrial fuel was leaking from the accident.

Faced with a potential catastrophe, the Philippine coast guard called for a national mobilization of resources to mitigate the impact. The tanker was carrying about 77.6 million gallons, or 250,000 tons, of crude. It had left port in Oman bound for Japan.

There were no reports of injuries aboard the tanker, which was registered in Singapore.

The spill had been reported to Singaporean and Indian Coast Guard officials.    rw doclink

Senate Approves More Offshore Drilling.
August 01, 2006   San Francisco Chronicle

The Senate wants to expand oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico but the House wants to open coastal waters to drilling everywhere unless a state objects.

By a vote of 71-25 the Senate directed the Interior Department to sell leases in 8.3 million acres of the east-central Gulf of Mexico. GOP leaders hoped to vote on a bill that would raise the minimum wage and make permanent a cut in the estate tax. Democrats are trying to block the bill, arguing the two issues should not be combined.

Many Senate Republicans said that the vote could lead to open waters that have been under a drilling moratorium for 25 years. The House passed legislation that would allow development 50 miles off any state unless it formally objects.

Any bill that goes beyond the 8.3 million acres would run into a filibuster in the Senate.

Domenici will lead Senate negotiators in a conference with the House on offshore drilling. Both chambers agree more offshore oil and gas development is needed.

Many who opposed the bill feared it could lead to oil and gas drilling along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, now protected by the moratorium.

The bill would give the four on the Gulf of Mexico 37.5% of future royalties, compared to less than 2% today.

Louisiana would receive $600 million a year 10 years from now and more in later years. Eventually the four states could share as much as $12 to $15 billion a year.    rw doclink

Energy Economics for a Sustainable Future.
July 20, 2006   New West

US consumers are starting to notice the problems with our current energy agenda. We have 5% of the world's population, but consume 26% of the oil. Our lifestyles are based on an immediate access to cheap, dependable, and abundant energy sources.

The current economic policy is not a sustainable. We are a net importer of agriculture, manufactured goods and energy. We may be surprised how quickly we can lose our status. The US has to utilize its resources to become a global leader in energy. The Administration is advocating two major sources of alternative energy, hydrogen and corn-based ethanol - unfortunately, both are not cost-effective solutions.

Hydrogen technology is expensive to produce and unreliable, it is unlikely that it will be able to compete with the current electric grid. Expectations of near-term hydrogen transitions make no economic or environmental sense.

Corn-based ethanol is currently capable of being produced in abundant amounts but it will only be a stepping-stone to other ethanol-based alternatives. It is not energy-efficient, good for the environment, and it will not reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Deriving ethanol from corn is energy-exhausting, requires a vast amount of cropland, and pollutes water tables with a great deal of fertilizer runoff. Our planet has a food shortage and a rapidly increasing population. Setting aside cropland for a conversion process that yields little or no return makes no economic sense.

Global warming is the greatest economic risk that our society will face. It is imperative that we accept global warming as a risk to our national security and energy-efficiency is the most cost-effective strategy for minimizing carbon dioxide emissions. One of the most damaging trends in American energy use is that we continuously offset conservation efforts by large increases in consumption subsequent to a price reduction. There are many actions we can take to protect our environment, our economy, our energy security, and our national security. We must increase fuel efficiency standards and help but not completely alleviate our auto emissions problem.

We need to require a minimum amount of energy be from renewable energy sources by a target date and increase funding for renewable energy. We need to develop more programs that involve limiting carbon dioxide emissions. A transition to a renewable energy economy will require government subsidies and tax incentive programs. Despite these high initial costs, these actions will yield greater benefits for America's economy in years to come.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: unfortunately, our fuel economy was sacrificed in order to lessen fuel emissions. We need to find ways that they don't work against each other.
US Alaska;: BP to Shut Down 12 North Slope Wells.
July 18, 2006   San Francisco Chronicle

BP is closing 12 oil wells on Alaska's North Slope as a precaution after allegations that more than 50 were leaking.

Most of these wells were in Prudhoe Bay.
BP confirmed it had received a subpoena from a U.S. grand jury investigating a massive oil leak in Alaska.

BP blamed the incident, the largest-ever spill in Alaska's North Slope, on a small hole caused by corrosion. Up to 267,000 gallons were believed to have spilled onto the frozen ground.

The 12 well shutdowns affect about 8,000 barrels a day out of a total daily production of about 800,000 barrels. BP plans on running tests on the affected wells.

BP was cautious in addressing the leaks of arctic ice pack. The material is usually crude oil or diesel fuel. A typical well has about 168 barrels of freeze protection material.

None of the leaked material had reached the Arctic tundra.

We have no reason to believe that continued operation poses a risk to workers or the environment."

BP will invite regulators from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Alaska Department of Conservation to observe the integrity tests. BP also will appoint an independent ombudsman to receive future concerns about BP operations.    rw doclink

U.S.: House Votes to Lift Offshore Drilling Ban.
June 30, 2006   San Francisco Chronicle

The House voted to allow energy companies to tap natural gas and oil beneath waters from New England to Alaska.

Opponents of the federal ban argued that the nation needed to move closer to energy independence and gas and oil could be taken without threatening the environment and coastal beaches. Florida's two senators have vowed to filibuster any legislation that would allow drilling within 125 miles of Florida's coast. Other senators have strongly opposed ending the restrictions.

Many fear that development could despoil coastal beaches, should there be a spill, and threatens the recreation and tourist economies of states where development has been barred since the early 1980s.

A Republican from California and a leading proponent for lifting the moratorium, argued that drilling would be prohibited within 50 miles of shore and states could extend the ban up to 100 miles.

But a Democrat said states would have to overcome numerous hurdles to continue the drilling restrictions, including having state legislatures and the government seek such protection every five years. The bill would revamp how the federal government shares oil and gas royalties with states, producing a windfall for four Gulf states -- Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama -- that already have oil and gas rigs off their shores.

The eastern and western Gulf of Mexico produces virtually all of the country's offshore oil and gas. Under the bill, states' share of royalties would increase to 50% over 10 years and eventually could rise as high as 75%. States currently get less than 5% of royalties from offshore oil and gas leases in the central and western Gulf.

The Interior Department estimated that revenue sharing could cost the federal government as much as $69 billion in lost royalties over 15 years. The White House favors much of the bill but opposes the changes in royalty revenue sharing, which would have a long-term impact on the federal deficit.

The Interior Department estimates there are about 19 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 86 trillion cubic feet of natural gas beneath waters currently under drilling bans. But supporters of the moratorium argue there's four times that amount of oil and gas available in offshore waters, mainly in the central and western Gulf of Mexico and off parts of Alaska.

But a Republican from Pennsylvania argued that developing more U.S. energy resources is needed to ease supply shortages that have led to soaring natural gas prices and increasing American reliance on oil imports.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: the higher our consumption now, the harder the fall, the bigger the crash.
U.S. : California Smog Rules May Be Used Nationwide.
June 29, 2006   San Francisco Chronicle

The federal government may use California's pollution rules for lawnmowers and other small-engine machines as a national standard. This would be bad news for much of the small engine industry. California aims to cut their emissions by about 35%.

The govt is concerned that this source is going to continue to be a bigger source for air pollution, so we are interested in putting forth cost-effective standards for the country. Missouri is home to the nation's largest small engine maker. Briggs & Stratton has resisted California's approach, which would require adding catalytic converters. The company says this would be so costly that jobs would have to be sent overseas, and there could be fire risks. An EPA study rejected any safety risk, but the small-engine industry have criticized that finding, and the industry is funding its own safety study.

Officials from Honda and Kohler support California's rules.

But the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute said that many in the industry don't want to see those regulations applied nationally.

California officials testified that the rules were necessary to meet federally mandated clean air attainment goals. Environmentalists and regulators from other states testified in favor of giving the state a waiver to implement its rules and pave the way for national standards.

Without new rules, pollution from small engines is expected to account for 15% of mobile source pollution nationally by 2020.    rw doclink

How to Squeeze More Oil Out of Natural Reserves.
June 28, 2006   Reuters

In addition to sending tremors that knock down buildings, earthquakes increase the permeability of rocks to transmit fluids including oil.

Permeability governs how fluid flows through rock, whether it's water or oil, so this has practical implications for oil extraction.

The amount of permeability is directly related to the amplitude of the shaking.

Potentially if you could increase permeability you could greatly increase the available oil you could tap out of a reserve.

One way is by mimicking the effects of an earthquake but scientists do not understand the physics well enough, or how to tune the vibrations, to increase the flow of oil.

One possibility would be to use trucks that shake the ground to take a type of X-ray of the Earth to find out the structure of rocks and where the oil is located.

If we understood the physics of the permeability enhancement well enough, the vibrations could be tuned to increase with the flow of oil. The scientists made their discovery after studying 20 years of data of water seeping in and out of wells during seven earthquakes in California.

Every time an earthquake occurred the permeability jumped and the surrounding rocks became up to three times more permeable. A few months later the permeability returned to normal.

Scientists are planning more studies to better understand how shaking makes the permeability increase.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: I'll believe it when I see it.
U.S.: Offshore Drilling Bill Advances in House.
June 22, 2006   The Wall Street Journal

A measure advanced in the House would allow oil and gas development in restricted offshore waters unless a state prohibited it.

The Committee approved in 29-9 vote. The bill's prospects in the Senate are poor as Florida's Representative has threatened to filibuster any legislation that would end the drilling moratorium in coastal waters outside the western Gulf of Mexico.

Waters within 50 miles of shore would still be protected, but drilling would be allowed in areas beyond that unless a state acts to preserve the ban.

A drilling moratorium outside the western Gulf has been in effect for 85% of U.S. coastal waters since 1981.

Pombo and other drilling advocates emphasized that the bill would permanently protect waters within 50 miles of shore, and would give states the opportunity to protect waters up to 100 miles from shore.

This is a rollback of drilling protection of our coasts said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. Five Florida lawmakers held a news conference denouncing the bill.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: Pombo has been at war with environmentalists. I agree with those denouncing the bill.
World Oil Demand to Rise by 37% by 2030 .
June 20, 2006   BBC News

World demand for oil is set to increase 37% by 2030.

Demand will hit 118 million barrels per day, but OPEC's share will fall from 39.7% to 38.4% as West Africa and the Caspian increase production.

Oil production in Norway is expected to decline from 3.6 million bpd to 2.5 million bpd by 2030.

Much of the world's oil demand is projected for use in the transportation sector. The US will be the largest consumer of petrol, with 27.6 million bpd, up from this year's 20.8 million.

The higher price is expected to temper demand and boost the appeal of other sources of energy. Oil represented nearly 38% of the world's total energy consumption in 2003, but is expected to fall to 33% by 2030.    rw doclink

Hints of Oil Bonanzas Beneath Arctic Ocean.
June 01, 2006   New York Times*

Scientists said the huge amounts of organic material embedded in the sedimentary layers suggested that the center of the Arctic Ocean could hold vast oil deposits.

They were reluctant to focus on the work, saying it would be unfortunate if their climate studies prompted new oil exploration that could liberate more greenhouse gases and further warm the climate.

But one of the authors remained confident that the prospect was real. If the oil exists, it would probably take decades to develop techniques for exploiting such midocean deposits. A quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas resources lie in the Arctic, according to the United States Geological Survey.    rw doclink

The World After Oil Peaks.
May 23, 2006   Earth Policy Institute

Even though peak oil may be imminent, most countries are counting on higher oil consumption in the decades ahead. Yet in a world of declining oil production, no country can use more oil except at the expense of others.

Some segments of the global economy will be affected more than others, among these are the automobile, food, and airline industries. Cities and suburbs will also evolve.

Stresses within the U.S. auto industry were already evident and their affiliated industries will also be affected, including auto parts and tire manufacturers.

Food will become more costly, diets will be altered as people move down the food chain and consume more local, seasonally produced food. Rising oil prices will draw agriculture into the production of fuel crops, setting up competition between affluent motorists and low-income food consumers. Airlines, both passenger travel and freight, will continue to suffer and cheap airfares may become history.

Air freight will be hit hard and one of the early casualties could be the transport of fresh produce from the southern hemisphere during the northern winter as the price becomes prohibitive.

During the century of cheap oil, an enormous automobile infrastructure was built in industrial countries that requires large amounts of energy to maintain. The United States, for example, has 2.6 million miles of paved roads, covered mostly with asphalt, and 1.4 million miles of unpaved roads to maintain even if world oil production is falling.

Modern cities depend on concentrating food and materials and then disposing of garbage and human waste. As cities grow larger garbage must be hauled longer distances and the cost of garbage disposal also rises. At some point, many throwaway products may be priced out of existence.

People living in poorly designed suburbs are often isolated from their jobs and shops. Suburbs have created a commuter culture. Shopping malls and discount stores, were all subsidized by artificially cheap oil. Isolated by high oil prices, suburbs may prove to be ecologically and economically unsustainable.

In the coming energy transition, countries that fail to plan ahead may experience a decline in living standards. The inability of national governments to manage the energy transition could lead to failed states.

Political leaders seem reluctant to plan for the downturn in oil even though it will become one of the great fault lines in the history of civilization. Developing countries will be hit doubly hard as expanding populations combine with a shrinking oil supply to steadily reduce oil use per person. This could translate into a fall in living standards. If the US, the world's largest oil consumer and importer, can reduce its use of oil, it can buy the world time for a smoother transition to the post-petroleum era.    rw doclink

Shell Says Oil Spills Up 50 Pct in 2005.
May 09, 2006   Houston Chronicle

Royal Dutch Shell reports that oil spills at its facilities rose 50% from 2004 to 2005. Hurricane damage and sabotage of a major pipeline in Nigeria was responsible for a goodly portion of the spillage. The amount went from 6,724 tons to 9,921 tons. A ship that sank off the coast of Freeport, Texas, in 1976 has leaked 300 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Officials disagree on whether it is fuel oil or crude oil. Crude is less toxic, but stays in the environment longer. The Texas General Land Office has concluded that the leak poses no environmental problem.    rw doclink

The Coming Decline of Oil.
May 05, 2006   Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civili

Analysts are far from a consensus, but several now believe that the oil peak is imminent.

When production turns downward, it will create a world unlike any we have known during our lifetimes and future historians may distinguish between before peak oil (BPO) and after peak oil (APO).

The oil prospect can be analyzed in several different ways. Computer models to project future oil production and prices use of the reserves/production relationship to gain a sense of future production. Hubbert theorized that the time between the peaking of new discoveries and the peaking of production was predictable. New reserves in the US peaked around 1930, he predicted U.S. oil production would peak in 1970. He was correct.

A second approach separates oil-producing countries into those where production is falling and those where it is still rising. Of the 23 leading oil producers, output appears to have peaked in 15 and to be rising in eight. The post-peak countries range from the US, to Venezuela, the UK and Norway. The eight pre-peak countries are Saudi Arabia and Russia. Other countries with potential for increasing production are Canada, because of its tar sands, and Kazakhstan, which is still developing its oil resources. The other four pre-peak countries are Algeria, Angola, China, and Mexico.

The biggest question mark is Saudi Arabia. Its production peaked in 1980 at 9.9 million barrels and output is now 1 million barrels below that. Saudi officials sat they could produce more but analysts doubt whether the Saudis can raise output. Some of its older oil fields are depleted, and it remains to be seen whether pumping from new fields will do more than offset the loss from the old ones.

This analysis comes down to whether production will increase enough in the eight pre-peak countries to offset the declines in the 15 countries where production has peaked. The two groups have the same total production capacity but if it falls in one of the eight, world output could decline.

A third way to consider oil production is to look at the actions of the major oil companies. One bit of evidence is the decision by leading oil companies to invest in their own stocks. ExxonMobil invested nearly $10 billion in buying back its own stock. ChevronTexaco used $2.5 billion of its profits. With little new oil to be discovered and demand growing fast, companies appear to realize that their reserves will become more valuable in the future.

Closely related is the lack of any substantial increases in exploration and development. This suggests that the companies agree with geologists who say that 95% of all the oil has been discovered. It is inconceivable now that major fields remain to be found and it may take a lot of costly exploration to find that remaining 5%.

Among those reporting that 2004 oil production exceeded new discoveries were Royal Dutch/Shell, ChevronTexaco, and Conoco-Phillips. Geologist Walter Youngquist notes that in 2004 the world produced 30.5 billion barrels of oil but discovered only 7.5 billion barrels of new oil.

Once oil companies or oil-exporting countries realize that output is about to peak, they will begin to think about how to stretch out their reserves. As it becomes clear that a moderate cut in production may double world oil prices, the long-term value of oil will become much clearer.

The geological evidence suggests that world oil production will be peaking sooner rather than later. A highly respected geologist says that the peak will occur in late 2005 or in the first few months of 2006.

The Saudi national oil company notes that new oil coming on-line had to be sufficient to cover annual growth in demand of at least 2 million barrels a day and the annual decline in production of over 4 million barrels a day. It's not sustainable.    rw doclink

China Sales a Mixed Blessing for Latin America.
April 27, 2006   Asian Times Online

If Latin America's economic ties with China do not change, the region will be unable to meet the MDGs. The historical circumstances make it necessary for these countries to stop exports of natural resources and enter the knowledge economy.

The Latin Economic Forum Inc brought together Latin American leaders, academics and key representatives to "focus on how to reduce poverty; use corporate social responsibility as a contribution to sustainable development, implement new business strategies and technologies to ensure a prosperous economy; and strengthen governance."

China is the world's biggest consumer of copper, tin, zinc, platinum, steel and iron. And Latin America is China's biggest supplier of these commodities. China has also become one of the top buyers of oil from Venezuela and oil represents 85% of Venezuela's exports and oil revenues are 50% of government expenditure. The political tension between Washington and Caracas has led the Venezuelan government to review its oil-export policies. Venezuela is interested in increasing oil exports to China and reducing sales to the US market.

But exporting commodities is a bad foundation for development, and is an unsustainable policy. Latin America is facing a dilemma: while opportunities for exporting raw materials are better than ever, but it ultimately entails the exhaustion of its natural riches. Chile's ambassador to the UN said three Latin American countries will succeed in meeting the MDG's while another five have a good chance of doing so.

So far, only Chile has reduced by half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty. Latin America and the Caribbean form the region with the largest gap between rich and poor in the world. The keys to development are social policies for the elimination of poverty and for the inclusion of women in the labor market.

The UN ambassador from the Dominican Republic emphasized the need for foreign investment but recognized the situation is not simple. "We cannot attract capital when, on the other hand, we do not have technology or skilled personnel."

It would be difficult for the region's countries to meet the MDGs, and the positive outlooks expressed at the meeting were to be expected, given that the speakers were official representatives of their countries' governments.

As for modifying Latin America's trade relations with an economic power such as China, one solution is to create small and medium-sized enterprises and generate employment and respect the environment. This would lay the foundations for building trade relations based on the entire production chain.    rw doclink

Russian President Changes Route of Siberian Pipeline to Protect Lake.
April 26, 2006   RIA Novosti

President Putin said that the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline should pass outside the drainage basin north of Lake Baikal. Environmental groups welcomed the move. Putin said the pipeline should run beyond a proposed line 40 km to the north of the lake. Academy of Sciences Vice President Nikolai Laverov proposed that the pipeline should run along the line of the watershed to the north of Baikal.

The leader of the Green Party of Russia, said Putin's statement was "a great victory for public pressure. It will save Baikal."

Transneft chief executive said that the length and cost of a new route line could be estimated within two months. He said he had been unprepared for Putin's decision, but that the project would go ahead as scheduled. Construction would start simultaneously from both ends and that Transneft would draft a new feasibility study and conduct an environmental study for the new route. Transneft's previous plans included a stretch of pipeline running 800 meters from the shore of Baikal. Environmentalists said any leaks could cause irreparable damage to the lake.

Head of conservation programs with the World Wildlife Fund in Russia, said the decision could signify that Russia would not follow the example of countries where state monopolies are more important than parliamentary opinions.

The pipeline is slated to carry up to 80 million metric tons a year from Taishet in the Irkutsk Region to Perevoznaya Bay in the Primorye Territory and could also supply oil to the Asia-Pacific region. Putin said construction of an oil refinery in Russia's Far East would help derive maximum profits from the pipeline and open up new markets.

The Ministry of Economic Development estimated the cost of the refinery between $2.19 billion and $2.92 billion, and Rosneft could start construction next year.    rw doclink

U.S.: Rising Oil Prices Send Lawmakers Into Frenzy of Empty Gestures.
April 22, 2006   New York Times*

High gas prices are not the result of oil-company price gouging. It's the market balancing supply and demand.

Politicians attempting to substitute oil-company bashing and demagoguery in the place of real energy proposals deserve only snorts of derision.

Gas has been artificially cheap in the U.S. for a long time, but it's inevitably going to rise. Get used to it.    rw doclink

U.K.: Shell Pioneers Solar-powered Gas.
April 19, 2006   The Independent

A new gas platform in the North Sea will run entirely on wind and solar power. The tiny platform, co-owned by Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, cost about $143 million to develop and was built for 40% of the cost of conventional platforms. It's the first of smaller, lower-impact platforms that will allow for better recovery of small pockets of gas.    rw doclink

It's good that oil producers now recognize that wind and solar are more efficient than fossil fuels for extracting oil offshore.

Natural Gas

Gasland - PBS Video on Environmentally Unfriendly Production of Natural Gas.
March 26, 2010   PBS

Follow the link for the video. Explosive fracturing to get the gas out contaminates the ground water, deep aquifers, and river watersheds with heavy metals and other carcinogens as well as enough volatile gases to make people's kitchen sinks and well pumps explode. Fracting with poisonous chemicals to release the natural gas embedded in US rock has been going on for ten yeas, exempt from Federal water pollution standards.   doclink

US California;: State Panel Rejects Gas Plant Study.
April 10, 2007   Los Angeles Times

A California commission rejected the environmental impact report on a proposed $800-million floating liquefied natural gas terminal off the Ventura County coast. Dem Lt Gov Garamendi challenged whether the energy company had done enough to reduce emissions whether alternatives including energy conservation, greater reliance on wind and solar power, and a bigger natural gas plant under construction in Baja California, Mexico were considered. He questioned the cost-effectiveness of extracting natural gas in Australia, chilling it and shipping it in tankers across the Pacific Ocean.

BHP spokesman said the project would make California's energy supply more reliable and good for the state's environment. Natural gas burns cleaner than coal or oil. The so-called Cabrillo Port project cannot be built unless the commission and other regulatory bodies decide the 3,000-page environmental impact study is adequate.

The Coastal Commission object to the project, contending it would be harmful to the marine environment.

Even with advanced emissions controls, the environmental impact report states that the tankers, support vessels and floating gas processing plant would emit 160 tons of nitrogen oxides and 60 tons of hydrocarbons per year. The ozone impacts will be substantial and impact the health of residents.    rw doclink

Mexico;: Coronado Islands Plan Had Faced Opposition.
March 14, 2007   San Diego Times Online

Chevron has abandoned plans to build a natural gas terminal near the Coronado Islands. The decision was based on business needs.

Chevron decided to send gas from the Greater Gorgon gas fields off northwest Australia to Japan.

Environmentalists were pleased that the project had been abandoned.

The Coronado Islands are one of the world's most bio-diverse hot spots. It should be a park, not an LNG site.

The Mexican director of the Grupo de Trabaja de Termoelectricas Fronterizas, also was happy to hear the project had been canceled.

Chevron decided to go offshore because residents and environmentalists objected to plans to build LNG terminals on coastal land. The southernmost of the islands was to have served as a breakwater for a fixed, 980-foot-long concrete island with two regasification plants, storage tanks, a heliport and a dock to berth about four LNG tankers each week.

The project posed a risk to fish, sea mammals and birds, including the endangered Xantus' murrelet.

At least six companies or groups of companies have vied to bring LNG to the Baja California coast.

Moss Maritime and Mexican partner Terminales y Almacenes Maritimos de Mexico were granted a permit to build a floating project about five miles off Rosarito Beach.

Shell abandoned its project on the Costa Azul and reached an agreement to share capacity at Sempra's Energía Costa Azul LNG receiving terminal. Sempra has an agreement with BP and Tangguh LNG to receive its LNG supplies from Indonesia, and Shell will receive its LNG from Russia's Sakhalin Island.

Chevron said the company has not given up on developing an LNG facility in North America.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: As population grows beyond carrying capacity, the pressures to extract natural resources increase, no matter where the natural resources are, no matter how ecologically valuable the area may be.
Long Beach Energy Project Halted.
January 2007   Long Beach Press-Telegram

After four years, Long Beach stopped a controversial project that promised a new source of liquefied natural gas for California. The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners effectively terminated the partnership of Mitsubishi Corp. and ConocoPhillips plans to build a $700-million liquefied natural gas plant.

Liquefied natural gas terminals have been favored by the Bush administration and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a way to bring fuel from overseas. Air quality officials and environmentalists also favor LNG because it helps to alleviate smog.

But others expressed misgivings. Specifically, opponents raised safety concerns, citing the potential for a natural gas explosion that could kill hundreds of people. This project would have put over 140,000 people who live and work within 3 miles of that LNG terminal at risk. Other energy companies have proposed liquid natural gas terminals offshore where the risk to the public is minimal.

Last summer, the Port of Long Beach opted not to extend a contract that gave Sound Energy Solutions exclusive rights to build the terminal on 25 acres in the harbor.

In December, Harbor Commission President James C. Hankla told the Long Beach City Council that he intended to halt all work on the final environmental impact report unless the council indicated a clear willingness to proceed with the project. Neither Sound Energy Solutions nor the federal energy commission had adequately addressed safety issues.    rw doclink

New Indonesia Calamity: A Man-Made Mud Bath.
October 06, 2006   New York Times*

What started as a natural gas well has become geysers of mud and water in East Jave. Eight villages are submerged, with homes and more than 20 factories buried to the rooftops. Some 13,000 people have been evacuated. The four-lane highway has been cut in two, as has the rail line. The muck has already inundated one and a half square miles.

It is spewing forth at the rate of about 170,000 cubic yards a day, enough to cover Central Park.

Observers are watching to see whether the government will hold the company that drilled the well accountable for the costs of the cleanup. The disaster occurred as the company Lapindo Brantas drilled to tap natural gas and used practices described as faulty.

But Lapindo was sold for $2 last month to a company, owned by the Bakrie Group, and many fear it will declare bankruptcy, allowing its owners to walk away.

A spokeswoman said it was too early to conclude that Lapindo had acted negligently. Some geologists said this was a natural mud volcano, perhaps set off by seismic activity.

Engineers are not hopeful that they can contain the problem. As the best of the worst options, the government plans to pump the mud into the Porong River, that will be the death of the ecosystem around that area. The sheer volume alone will smother everything in its path. The area's commerce has been devastated.

The problems when the company had reached about 9,000 feet, even though it had not installed a casing around the well as required under Indonesian mining regulations.

The company experienced a loss of pressure in the well and mud started seeping in from the sides of the unprotected well bore, at a depth of about 6,000 feet.

The mud was stopped by cement plugs but it then sought other avenues of escape, eventually breaking through the earth, and creating mud volcanoes in several places that resemble the geysers of Yellowstone.

If the casing had been in place, the mud would not have entered the well, and would not have discovered these other avenues to the surface, a conclusion supported by mining engineers.

So far there does not appear to be any government investigation. After the first eruptions, the police began an investigation, but it haslanguished. Any investigations would have to be by the central government in Jakarta. Lapindo should take responsibility, but Lapindo no longer exists, and the company may not have any assets.

Lapindo's parent company announced that it was selling Lapindo for $2 to Lyte Ltd., a company that is registered in the offshore island of Jersey. The majority shareholder in the parent company is the Bakrie Group, and the Bakrie Group is the sole owner of Lyte, and is owned by Aburizal Bakrie and his brothers.

Lapindo's parent company had said that it was selling Lapindo because of the huge costs it faced in cleaning up after the mud flow. An Energi spokesman said the Bakrie Group remained committed to cleaning up the mud, through Lyte. A concern is whether Lyte, which has been renamed Bakrie Oil & Gas, will declare bankruptcy. If the Bakrie Group does not pay, the Indonesia government will be left with the bill.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: as energy demands increase from a growing population, the greater the need to look for energy in unsuitable places. The more the population grows the more it expands into unsuitable places.
State Looks to Lead Pollution Fight.
December 16, 2005   Los Angeles Times

California is unveiling initiatives to control greenhouse gases that would put it in the forefront of a campaign by state and local officials to regulate the causes of climate change. California's action plan contradicts the official position of the Bush administration. We can control what California is doing," said the state's environmental protection secretary. Among states scheduled to attend the Montreal talks are Vermont, Connecticut, Los Angeles, and New Mexico. Seattle Mayor has organized a campaign to tackle global warming that has enlisted the mayors of more than 180 cities. He said the goal is to show U.S. politicians that global warming can be good politics. Opinion polls have shown strong public support. Gov. Schwarzenegger pledged to slash California's greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and was promising to lead the world's fight against global warming at a U.N. event in San Francisco. However, at the same time, his top energy advisor was working on a proposal to move coal-fired power from Wyoming to California. Coal-burning power plants are the leading emitters of carbon dioxide, which is the most abundant greenhouse gas. California receives more than a fifth of its electricity from out-of-state coal-fired power plants. State officials acknowledged that better coordination and stricter electricity-buying policies will be needed to achieve the governor's goals. Environmentalists said it remained to be seen whether California's proposals would survive what is expected to be a fierce lobbying push by oil refiners and other affected industries. A plan by eight Northeastern states to set a ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants was thrown into turmoil when Massachusetts Gov. Romney raised concerns about electricity costs. Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr expressed support for a "cap and trade" system that would place a ceiling on emissions, but allow businesses to profit by selling "pollution credits". The Bush administration contends that setting a ceiling on greenhouse gases would damage the economy. Some states disagree, arguing that early action to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and conserve energy will save money.    rw doclink

U.S.: Senate Denies States Authority on Gas Terminals.
June 23, 2005   The Wall Street Journal

The Senate voted to give federal regulators authority over the location of liquefied natural gas terminals. President Bush has pushed for federal control saying that a lengthy approval process could delay the building of facilities that are important for the economy. The bill would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the final word on where terminals are built. The action came as part of a sweeping overhaul of national energy policy. The Senate rejected a proposal to establish a cap on emissions of greenhouse gases. Republicans criticized a mandatory limit as an unfair burden on the economy. The debate over liquid natural gas, or LNG, brought together conservatives and liberals representing states where terminals have been proposed. The terminals are projected to play a key role in the nation's energy needs. LNG accounts for about 3% of the nation's natural gas use, but it is projected to rise to more than 20% by 2025. The projects have generated concerns that they could pose safety risks or become targets for terrorist attacks.    rw doclink

U.S.: Demand for Natural Gas Brings Big Import Plans, and Objections.
June 15, 2005   New York Times*

International energy companies, the Bush administration and gas-rich countries are championing a global market for natural gas, with the US its largest importer. They are promoting gas as more plentiful and less polluting than oil and needed to sustain economic growth. But the US is low on production of natural gas and vast amounts of gas will have to be imported arriving by tanker. Large reserves of gas are in countries like Qatar, Iran, Russia, Angola, Yemen and Algeria. Competition has prompted a race to meet demand for the fuel in rich industrialized countries and the US faces resistance. Officials in states where terminals that could receive the gas tankers say they could fall victim to an explosion. President Bush has endorsed legislation, currently being debated in the Senate, that would allow the federal government to overrule the states. But he faces a fight in Congress too. Several senators are sponsoring an amendment to oppose greater federal authority. Eight new terminals for liquefied natural gas, or L.N.G., are to be built in the US by 2010. There are now four terminals built in the 1960's and 1970's. Energy companies want to construct more than 40 at a cost of $500 million to $1 billion each. Some scientists and environmentalists say that the nation is placing too little emphasis on improving energy efficiency and investing in other methods for producing power and heat. Utilities warn that in becoming more reliant on natural gas from abroad, the US would be running the same risk as when it came to depend on oil from the Middle East. Natural gas is expected to become the leading fossil fuel by 2025. The largest energy concerns are pursuing more than $100 billion to create a global market for gas. The rising consumption comes with a significant cost, we will have to depend on imports to allow people to keep consuming it. The price of natural gas has doubled in the last five years. Some nations want to control the price of natural gas much as OPEC has manipulated the oil market. In California resistance has mounted to plans to build several L.N.G. terminals. Natural gas can be difficult and expensive to ship. It must be cooled to 260 degrees below zero, squeezing its volume by 600. Once it reaches its destination, it needs to be reheated. A barrel of oil commands $50 on the world market today, while 6,000 cubic feet of natural gas, its energy equivalent, would probably cost $18 to $24, if delivered from a Middle Eastern country. Natural gas is also thought to be more plentiful than oil. BP estimates global gas reserves at 67 years at current production rates, compared with oil reserves at 41 years. The US, for much of the 20th century, was the world's largest oil producer, but began to import more oil than it exported after World War II. American production of natural gas is no longer enough to meet domestic demand. Reliance on natural gas increased after electricity companies designed more than 90% of power plants in the 1990's to run on natural gas. Strong demand for natural gas is occurring in the fast-industrializing economies of China and India. The US is expected to emerge as the world's largest L.N.G. market but will need to build the terminals to receive L.N.G. Concern over the possibility of damage from an accident or terrorist explosion has prevented such projects from getting off the ground. A report by Sandia Laboratories concluded that terrorists blowing a hole in an L.N.G. tanker could produce a spill of liquefied natural gas that could set off a fire that would cause second-degree burns on people nearly a mile away. The L.N.G. industry responds that the safety record of its tankers exceeds any other sector of the shipping industry. Only a few small accidents have occurred in the last three decades. Congress included in the energy legislation approved this spring, a provision that would usurp the authority of states to block L.N.G. terminals. Six governors wrote to the Senate committee, asking for states to remain on equal footing in L.N.G. reviews. Meanwhile, foreign governments that are pinning their hopes on exporting L.N.G. to the US are investing in ventures to build terminals. Qatar and 12 other gas-rich nations met in April to discuss ways to keep L.N.G. prices satisfactorily high. The group, called the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, is still in its infancy and for now is incapable of modeling itself after OPEC, but its members agreed to establish a liaison office in Qatar. Others view the growing reliance on imported natural gas in the US more ominously and are concerned about making the same mistakes we made with imported oil.    rw doclink

US Colorado: Drilling Near Nuclear Blast Cavity Called Risky Business.
May 09, 2005   Los Angeles Times

Some 36 years ago, a nuclear bomb was detonated in an 8,000-foot shaft on Colorado's Western Slope, hoping to reach a reserve of natural gas. They released the gas, but it was too radioactive to be used and a perimeter around the site was put off-limits. But if a Texan oil company's plans are approved, the company will get at the natural gas using called hydraulic fracing, which the company says won't disturb the radioactive material. Surrounding residents aren't so sure.    rw doclink

U.S.: Washington, Activists Argue a 'New' Energy.
May 03, 2005   Christian Science Monitor

Long Island Sound is a 1,380-square-mile body of water and last year, 687 commercial vessels navigated it without incident. Officials are planning to moor a barge there that will offload liquefied natural gas (LNG). Energy corporations would like to build 30 to 40 LNG terminals in the US mostly in coastal communities. But such ideas are meeting with resistance. Both the president and Congress are getting involved, at a time when natural gas prices are close to an all-time high. The energy bill before the House makes Federal Energy Regulatory Commission FERC the lead agency and specifies that "FERC would be required to actively consult with the states to consider state and local safety priorities." One Senate bill on LNG siting, sets a one-year deadline for making decisions on each project. Maintaining states' rights is vital to groups around the nation that are opposed to the terminals. The battle over LNG terminals is not surprising; it seems that anything that has to do with energy has to be heavily scrutinized because there is no perfect location. The developers of the Long Island project hope they've found the perfect location, about nine miles from Long Island and 11 miles from Connecticut. They have consulted with lobstermen, marine biologists, and done sonar and soil surveys. It has held open houses and even met with opponents. But opponents have raised a host of issues, from the shad to the prospect of flammable vapor clouds.    rw doclink

Congress Fuels Fire Between FERC, States.
December 03, 2004   Los Angeles Times

State officials are fuming over a provision in the year-end spending bill that says federal regulators should decide where liquefied natural gas terminals are built. Many lawmakers didn't know about it when they voted for the bill last month. State regulators said it could make it harder to block facilities that could harm the environment or pose safety and security risks. The provision leaves the Republican-controlled Congress leaning against its tendency to support states' rights. The language reflects the determination of President Bush and his allies to increase energy supplies. California has challenged the Energy Regulatory Commission's claim that it has sole authority to decide whether an LNG facility will be built in Long Beach. It would receive gas that had been cooled to a liquid so that it could be transported by ship. Supporters say it would signal Congress' backing on preventing a regulatory process from delaying energy projects. The provision declares: "These facilities need one clear process for review, approval and siting decisions … a process that also looks at the national public interest, and not just the interests of one state." The California Public Utilities Commission said the language "shows a contempt for the people of California." Rhode Island's attorney general attacked the provision as a "usurping of a sovereign state's rights and ability to control its own destiny." Critics say the provision is what happens when Congress rushes to approve a 3,016-page, $388-billion bill, with most members acknowledging they hadn't read it. The provision dealing with LNG facilities grew out of a legal battle between California and the FERC. California officials contended that federal regulators didn't do enough during the 2000-01 energy crisis to hold down electricity prices, and they have been fighting the agency over how much the state should receive from companies that overcharged Californians. The California Public Utilities Commission contend they should have jurisdiction over the proposed Long Beach facility because it would bring natural gas into California for local use, not interstate commerce. Congress comes down on FERC's side and says the act "clearly preempts states on matters of approving and siting natural gas infrastructure associated with interstate and foreign commerce." The Long Beach terminal is among more than two dozen proposed throughout the US. An LNG facility off the Ventura County coast has been proposed, but state officials do not dispute federal jurisdiction because it would be in federal waters and the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for such terminals.    rw doclink

U.S.: Norton Eyes Potential for Sage Grouse to Disrupt Development.
November 10, 2004   San Francisco Chronicle

If the sage grouse is listed under the Endangered Species Act, federal restrictions could threaten efforts to extract the estimated $1.3 trillion worth of natural gas hidden under the Rocky Mountain range. The Fish and Wildlife Service will decide in response to petitions whether to consider the sage grouse a species whose survival is endangered or threatened. Any decision would be based on scientific review and weighed against government and private conservation efforts, including those by cattlemen, energy producers and state officials. Federal protections would require developers to minimize impacts and have consequences, particularly on Bush administration plans for more domestic energy production using public lands. The bird's habitat is spread among 770,000 square miles in 11 states, including natural gas fields. Oil and gas wells and pipelines affect a quarter of all sagebrush habitat. The sage grouse weighs up to eight pounds and as few as 100,000 remain. At one time there were 16 million of them among the sagebrush-covered expanses of the Western United States and Canada. Some $1.3 billion has flowed to states and private landowners to protect open spaces, wildlife habitat and endangered species, but officials do not know how much is solely to save the sage grouse. The Agriculture Department awarded $2 million to save grasslands for the sage grouse in Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Washington state.    rw doclink

U.S.: Greenspan Sets Priorities: Energy Over Environment.
July 10, 2003   Yahoo News

The Bush administration and many Republicans want to allow drilling for natural gas in the Rocky Mountains, while Democrats and environmental groups support energy conservation and renewable fuels. Greenspan said we've got to make trade-offs that are difficult and will increase the the cost in energy if we restrict access to areas that contain natural gas. Gas prices doubled from a year ago to $6 per million BTUs. The stockpile is now about 15% below normal, with a forecast of $4.80-$5.10 per million BTU for 2003. The House Speaker will appoint a panel of 18 lawmakers to recommend legislation to boost gas production. Greenspan called for expansion of facilities to import liquefied natural gas (LNG). Terminals should back-up U.S., Canadian and Mexican production. Algeria, Nigeria, Trinidad, Russia and Venezuela are current and potential exporters of LNG and 14 projects have been proposed in recent months, including expansion of Georgia's Elba Island terminal and new facilities off Louisiana, Texas, California, the Bahamas and Mexico. Three LNG terminals exist in Cove Point, Maryland; Lake Charles, Louisiana; and outside Boston. Demand for natural gas is forecast to top 35 trillion cubic feet by 2025, a jump of 52%.    rw doclink

Bush Admin Warns of Shrinking US Natgas Supply.
June 11, 2003   Planet Ark

The Bush administration and Alan Greenspan are expressing concern about dwindling natural gas supplies. This comes as Congress debates a bill that could include drilling on federal lands in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico, both oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. Greenspan expressed support for expanding the nation's nuclear power capacity, backed by the Senate in a 50-48 vote to retain federal loan guarantees for the construction of nuclear plants.    rw doclink

Bush Administration Warns of Shrinking U.S. Natural Gas Supply.
June 10, 2003   Environmental News Network

Energy Secretary Spencer Abrahamand the Bush administration said it sees only "limited opportunities" to boost dwindling natural gas supplies over the next 12-18 months and called for conservation to head off a summer shortage. On June 26 and emergency meeting was held to consider ways to conserve supply by reducing demand. Current U.S. inventories are at 29% below their 5 year average while spot prices are twice last year's. Abrahamand's letter to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said: "Therefore the emphasis must be on conservation, energy efficiency, and fuel switching" by utilities from natural gas to coal or other sources. Environmental groups complained that the pressure is on to open federal
lands in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico to oil and natural gas drilling and to
reconsider limits to drilling on off-shore acreage in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and Gulf of Mexico, environmental groups said.
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan old Congress last month that
dwindling supplies of natural gas were a "very serious problem" that could add
pressure to the U.S. economy.    rw doclink

Gas Pains

  • Natural gas is the fastest growing fuel in the world
  • World consumption has grown from 36 trillion cubic feet in 1970 to 82 trillion cubic feet in 1997
  • More than one-third of all natural gas production will be used for electrical generation by 2020
  • Canada's natural gas reserves rank 15th in the world, but we export more gas than any other nation except Russia
  • In the past decade, the share of Canadian gas exported to the US has risen to 55% from 35%
  • The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association estimates $15 billion will be spent on new or expanded pipelines in coming years
  • The size of gas pools in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin has shrunk from 25 billion cubic feet in 1960 to 1.6 billion cubic feet today
  • Consumption of gas from the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin has been greater than the reserve addition for all but one of the past 17 years
  • Since 1998, natural gas production in the US has been in decline

Sources: US Energy Information Administration, Canadian Gas Potential Committee, industry analysts ... July 10/24, 2000 Canadian Business doclink

Deep Water Oil - The End of the End Game.
Hubbard Center for Petroleum Supply Studies, Colorado

Enough oil to last only a few years.   doclink

Natural Gas Prices Seen Rising 50% or More.
The Bakersfield Californian

For who use natural gas to heat their homes, this winter's heating bills
could be 50% higher than last season's, warns the US Department of Energy.
The rise in prices is indicative of a falloff in production, short supplies,
and high demand by industry and electric utilities. Spot wholesale prices
for natural gas have already doubled from a year ago, averaging from $3.50
to $4.50 per thousand cubic feet. The result is that utility companies will
pass their increased costs on to consumers, and residents of the Midwest,
Ohio valley, and Northeast are warned that they will see heating bills
skyrocket. Those trying to fall back on oil for heat won't fair any better,
as the Dept of Energy also predicts steep prices in store for those
customers as well. Heating oil prices topped $2 a gallon in New England and
other parts of the Northeast last winter but are expected to be higher this
year as production of heating oil drops. "There is a risk of price spikes
similar to last winter in the Northeast for heating oil as well as for
diesel fuel if inventories are not built up to adequate levels by the end of
the year," stated a Dept. of Energy report. Recent higher demand for
gasoline has meant that refineries have concentrated more on this fuel, and
less on producing heating and diesal oils. Natural gas has faired no better
in recent years, as the demand for the fuel has increased 10% this year
alone. The cleaner-burning fuel is getting harder to come by, and the
American Gas Association reported that for the week ending July 28, 2000
there was 1,920 billion cubic feet of natural gas in storage, 17% (386
billion cubic feet) less than for the same time last year or enough to run
America's appetite for natural gas for five days   doclink

The North American Natural Gas Cliff

Unlike oil, natural gas cannot easily be shipped by sea. It must be liquefied prior to shipment, and then shipped in specially designed refrigerated ships destined for specially equipped ports, and then re-gasified for distribution -- at an estimated 15 to 30 percent energy loss. Moreover, natural gas cannot be easily stored like oil or coal.

Campbell says that gas production is better described as a "plateau" followed by a "cliff" due to the high mobility and recovery of gas. Under declining pressure, oil declines slowly as it moves through the porespace of the rocks, but the decline of gas is a cliff -- not a slope. The gas market gives no warning of the cliff because it is no more expensive to produce the last cubic foot than the first.

When Canada signed NAFTA, it ceded total control of its oil and gas reserves. Canada currently makes up about 13% of the USA gas supply. North American production is at or near (< 10 years) its "cliff" now. http://tabla.geo.ucalgary.ca/NatGasCan/opipaper.pdf -- http://dieoff.com/nagas.htm -- http://dieoff.com/pp.htm .

Campbell says it is not practical to make up the North American shortfall in gas by shipping it in from the Middle East (shortage of LNG facilities, tankers, and energy loss). However, the construction of a new gas line to Alaska and the Canadian arctic where there probably are large untapped deposits could temporarily mitigate the North American gas cliff.

On October 17, 2000 (Reuters), a top BP Amoco official admitted that there was a "dire need" for gas from both Alaska and northern Canada. Forecasts show gas demand could outstrip supplies from traditional sources by as much as 4 billion cubic feet a day within a decade! doclink

Energy Alternatives

Oil, Population ---- and the Future.
December 29, 2004   Ralph W Woodgate

Oil is limited and renewables are slow in being developed. We depend on oil in many more ways than one would imagine. What will our future be like without this important resource? Follow the link in the headline to read all about it.   doclink

U.S.: Study: Wood Power Worse Polluter Than Coal.
June 10, 2010   Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences

A new study has found that wood-burning power plants using trees and "biomass" from the state of Massachusetts forests releases 3% more greenhouse gases than coal by 2050.

Researchers compared how much carbon is emitted into the atmosphere through the burning of wood with the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere from the regrowth of forests, or "carbon dividends."

In addition, harvesting trees for biomass facilities could have "significant localized impacts on the landscape, including aesthetic impacts of locally heavy harvesting as well as potential impacts on recreation and tourism."

Biomass has long been part of the state's portfolio of renewable energy sources, along with solar, wind and geothermal energy. The administration has already invested $1 million to jump-start four proposed wood-burning plants in Russell, Greenfield, Springfield and Pittsfield, as it tries to reach the state mandated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.

The state is now rethinking that policy, including taxpayer incentives for wood-burning plants.

Biomass plant owners have long argued that every megawatt of power produced by wood-burning plants replaces a megawatt from a coal plant. But unlike coal, trees left standing can absorb the carbon dioxide released when wood is burned.

The report ignores the fact that much of the fuel used by biomass plants is waste wood. By eliminating biomass as an energy option, you are by default promoting further use of fossil fuels.

But enough coarse woody debris must left on the ground at nutrient poor sites, to ensure continued soil productivity, as well as sufficient standing dead wildlife trees remain to promote biodiversity.    rw doclink

Data Highlights on Solar Energy.
March 11, 2010   Earth Policy Institute Plan B By the Numbers

The sunlight reaching Earth in just one hour is enough to power the global economy for a whole year.

Annual production of solar photovoltaics reached nearly 7,000 megawatts in 2008. Chinese annual production skyrocketed from 40 megawatts in 2004 to 1,848 megawatts in 2008, nearly five times the output of the U.S. Currently almost all of China's production is for the export market, but several domestic installations are being planned.

At the end of 2008, the world had a total of 15,000 megawatts in PV installations. German government policies have made it the global PV leader, with an installed capacity of 5,308 megawatts. Spain has 3,223 megawatts, Japan 2,149 megawatts, and the U.S. 1,173 megawatts.

Rooftop solar water and space heaters have been embraced in China, with accounts for two-thirds of the world's 120,000 thermal megawatt capacity. Turkey comes second with 7,100 thermal megawatts. In per capita terms,
Cyprus and Israel lead the list with 0.9 and 0.7 square meters, respectively.

New projects which use mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a liquid-filled vessel to produce steam that drives a turbine, are coming online again after a 16-year hiatus. Since 2006, world capacity has grown by over 450 megawatts to a total of 820 megawatts, enough to power 156,000 American homes for one year. When those under construction are completed, the world CSP capacity will increase almost 4-fold. There are an even greater number of projects in the development stages.

In the U.S. alone, projects under development exceed 10,000 megawatts, 20-times greater than the combined capacities of plants currently in operation and under construction.

Reducing global carbon dioxide emissions 80% by 2020 requires a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Available resources indicate that the 100-fold increase for PV and solar rooftop heaters and the 200- fold increase for CSP, are within reach.    rw doclink

Wind Energy Taking Off Worldwide.
February 17, 2010   International Herald Tribune

The Global Wind Energy Council estimates that wind power capacity grew by 31% in 2009, with 37.5 additional gigawatts installed, bringing global wind power capacity to 157.9 gigawatts.

Wind power has become the power technology of choice in a growing number of countries around the world.

China accounted for a third of the new capacity, and the Chinese market experienced more than 100% growth. China doubled its capacity from 12.1 gigawatts in 2008 to 25.1 gigawatts by the end of last year. Asia accounted for more than 14 gigawatts of new capacity in 2009.

More than 500,000 people are employed by the wind power industry around the world, and the market last year was worth about $63 billion. The primary markets are in Asia, Europe and North America.

The market in the U.S. grew by 39%, with nearly 10 gigawatts of new capacity installed in 2009. The total installed and grid-connected capacity in the U.S. is about 35 gigawatts.

For comparison, a U.S. nuclear plant can produce 500 to 1,300 megawatts. A gigawatt is 1,000 megawatts.

"The U.S. wind energy industry chalking up the Recovery Act as a historic success in creating jobs, avoiding carbon, and protecting consumers." But U.S. wind turbine manufacturing is down compared to last year's levels and needs long-term policy certainty and market pull in order to grow. Some analysts had predicted a drop in wind power development in the U.S. by as much as 50%.    rw doclink

Why Nukes Won't Solve the Climate Problem.
August 18, 2009   Nirsnet.dailykos.com

We would need 1500-2,000 new nuclear reactors or more by mid- century, 300-400 in the U.S. alone, to make any kind of meaningful reduction in carbon emissions, according to the Commission on Energy Policy. In the U.S., that would be nearly a reactor a month from now til 2050, and the first reactors would only replace the existing 104 reactors which will be retiring between 2020 and 2050, net carbon reductions. Internationally there is little global infrastructure to support building new reactors. The current global capability is 8 reactors per year.

Only Japan Steel Works can forge the reactor pressure vessels. Russia has a facility and China is building one and may even have it online now. There is also a shortage of skilled operators, welders, machinists and others necessary to build and run a reactor.

Too Little Safety. Not a single reactor being proposed anywhere in the world claims to be an "inherently safe" design.

Too Much Waste. No country in the world yet has a permanent solution for radioactive waste. President Obama has ended the proposed Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump in Nevada. In the Yucca Mountain project, the steel casks that would hold the waste would provide 99+% of the protection to the public—Yucca Mountain itself would provide virtually no protection. We don't even have a place for the lethal Class B and C "low-level" radioactive waste.

The nuclear industry's apparent answer to the waste problem is reprocessing, an expensive, dirty and dangerous technology that failed miserably in the U.S. in the 1960s, at West Valley, NY. France's reprocessing facility on the Normandy coast releases so much radiation into the Atlantic that most neighboring countries have asked France to end its reprocessing program.

The mining, milling, processing, enrichment and fuel fabrication of uranium, not to mention the construction of enormous reactors made of concrete, steel, and the millions of gallons of gasoline involved, leaves a carbon footprint that is about three times the size of alternatives like wind power, and much higher than the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency.

Too Much Emissions. Every nuclear facility emits radioactive elements into our air and water on a daily basis, even when everything goes right. In 2006, the NAS concluded that there is no such thing as a safe level of radiation exposure.

Reactors situated on rivers or lakes may not be able to obtain sufficient cold water to allow adequate cooling. During the European heat wave of 2005, most French reactors using rivers as their water source, were forced to close. Last year, Browns Ferry-1 in Alabama had to close for similar reasons.

Nuclear uses more water per megawatt of power produced than any other electricity source. Scarce water supplies will result in added pressure to produce electricity with the least possible effect on those water supplies.

Reactors situated on oceans, may find themselves under water, as climate change accelerates sea level rise.

It will 10 years or so to take real steps to reduce our carbon emissions.
At most there would be a small handful of new reactors in the U.S. within 10 years, and it's just as likely there will be none. In contrast, wind farms take only a year or two to build, on average, compared to 10 years or so for reactors; solar photovoltaics can be installed as fast as the panels can be manufactured.

Renewables and Efficiency are Faster, Cheaper, Cleaner and Safer. Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit. The U.S. is half as efficient as the European Union, which is half as efficient as Japan. Fortunately, most energy innovation is on the efficiency side, and it's making an impact.

Electricity demand has fallen 4.4% so far this year in the nation's largest wholesale power market. Energy efficiency programs are beginning to work. In Maryland, the state has a goal of cutting energy use by 15% by 2020.

In 2008, 27,000 Megawatts of new wind power was installed worldwide, or the equivalent of about 27 large nuclear reactors. The Department of the Interior issued a report that said offshore wind potential, just off the mid-and north-Atlantic coast of the U.S., could supply 25% of the entire electricity needs of the U.S.

We could power the entire U.S. on just 7% of the available above-ground potential of solar photovoltaics. Think of how much space is used in the U.S. by parking lots, and how much of it could have solar panels above it—keeping cars cool and generating electricity. The US Navy generates 750KW of electricity from solar photovoltaics on just a portion of a parking lot in San Diego. The Wall Street Journal reported on August 6, 2009 that entrepreneurs in Spain are building 4300 Megawatts—about 4 large nuclear reactors worth—of solar thermal electricity.

Photovoltaics are actually about $2,000/kw cheaper than new nuclear. Nuclear power is now so expensive that if we tried to use it as a climate mitigation strategy, we would blow through our resources and be left with no options whatsoever.

Nuclear construction cost estimates—now that they're no longer based on industry wishful thinking and utilities have actually been forced to try to calculate them—have skyrocketed and are now running three and four times that NEI estimate of just three years ago.

The future is smaller-scale generation—distributed generation—with smart grids that help regulate electricity use and switch back and forth between solar and wind, depending on which is providing power at any given time and a little natural gas for the rare times that both are down. Add to those resources like geothermal and further on, electricity produced by more exotic fuels, such as micro algae.    rw doclink

Energy Use, CO2 Emission and Immigration.
July 26, 2009  

U.S. energy consumption and the resulting environmental impact of the production of greenhouse gasses has been steadily increasing in total amounts even though per capita consumption has been decreasing. U.S. energy consumption increased by about 34% from 1973 to 2007. Over this same period, per capita energy consumption decreased by 6.4%. The reason for the increase in energy consumption is due to the 43.1% increase in the U.S. population.

Between 1974 and 2007 legal immigration accounted for 31.5% of the U.S. population increase; adding illegal immigration and the children born
to the immigrants after their arrival, the share of population growth attributable to immigration is still higher. During this period, the entire 44.7% increase in residential energy use was entirely a factor of population growth.   doclink

Karen Gaia says: Why does the author overlook the large numbers of unintended pregnancies in the U.S.? If these were prevented or aborted, population growth would slow considerably, as it has in European countries where fertility rates are around 1.2 - 1.8. The article could just as well be named: "Energy Use, CO2 Emission and Immigration."
7 Paths to Our Energy Future.
June 26, 2009   Energy and Capital

By the end of this century we'll need an infrastructure that runs on renewable energy. Fortunately, there is more than enough to meet all of our needs, if we can harness it. Hydro provides about 6%, and nuclear about 6%, neither source will increase much in the future, and both could decline.

Our challenge is to make the present 2% replace about 86% of the world's current primary energy, in 90 years or less.

We may only have about 50 years to build most of the new renewable energy. Scientific observation of populations suggest some sharp episodes of decline are more likely, and we will end this century with a smaller population than anyone forecasts.

Seven Paths to Our Energy Future

1: Rail is by far the most efficient form of overland transportation and should be granted the largest portion of public funding. We should begin with light urban rail, and work over the next 40 years to build a comprehensive high-speed long-distance rail system.

2: Rooftop Solar PV. Projects like giant solar and wind farms all face hurdles in siting, environmental impact, and transmission capability. Rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems face no such issues. PV has been proven in the field commercially for over 30 years and can provide 50-100% of the needs of most small buildings.

Rooftop PV is one of the easiest sources we can develop, and options are proliferating. End-users enjoy an additional benefit of having a known, fixed cost for their future power. Another advantage is that rooftop PV is distributed, which contributes to the robustness of the grid. It costs utilities zero to take up energy produced this way.

3: Alternative Vehicles. All-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can take advantage of growing renewable electricity supply, and function as a giant, distributed battery for intermittent renewable sources using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. We will need to build the charging infrastructure possible to accommodate these new vehicles, but it needn't be more complicated than deploying a new row of parking meters.

Compressed natural gas vehicles are another transitional solution. Biofuels may play a role, but how much can they achieve once net energy (EROI) and food-vs. -fuel tradeoffs are taken into account? Corn ethanol fails these tests, but cellulosic biofuels pass them, they could take a bite out of our demand for petroleum. It will take a decade or more to scale it up to significant levels.

We should concentrate on a rapid, near term deployment of alternative vehicles, before it gets prohibitively expensive and difficult.

4: Efficiency. Reducing the energy it takes to heat and cool buildings. More efficient regular gasoline and diesel vehicles also belong in this category, and may reduce our dependence on oil if they are sufficiently efficient.

5: Utility Scale Renewables. We'll need large solar plants and huge wind farms. Geothermal and marine power can also make major contributions in time.

6: A Beefier, Smarter Grid. We're going to need a more resilient, and smarter grid. We already have most of the technologies and need the will and the funding to put it in place. A key element of the new grid will be long-distance high-voltage direct current (HVDC) power lines to transmit the power from the large utility scale projects to where it's needed.

7: Keep Drilling. We'll need as much oil and gas (and to a lesser extent, coal) as we can possibly produce.

The twilight years of hydrocarbon fuels are upon us, but we'll need them more than ever as they peak out and decline.

Finding the money to rebuild so much of our infrastructure will be a challenge. But if we're willing to put $2.5 trillion to bail out the financial system, and trillions more to provide military protection for the oil resources that remain, the money would be better spent on building an energy infrastructure that will actually sustain us.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: I have not heard of any such "sharp episodes" of population decline that the author refers to.
U.S.: Handed the Keys to An Alternative Future.
January 31, 2009   NH

The Honda FCX Clarity fuel-cell sedan, runs on zero-emission hydrogen.

Hydrogen fill-ups are easier and more modern than natural gas, and hydrogen doesn't smell bad. It's also quieter - the natural gas pump made lots of noise.

Honda said that the Clarity has a range of up to 280 miles, and something like 45 to 55 miles per kilogram of hydrogen, and a kilo is approximately the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline. A Honda spokesman said that the Clarity's range is dependent on the outside temperature and individual driving style. An auxiliary lithium-ion battery helps to extend range.

Most of the 200 cars will be leased out over the next three years in Southern California, but there will be Japanese customers.    rw doclink

Environmentalists Concerned On Effects Of Huge TVA Coal Ash Spill.
December 25, 2008   The Chattanoogan

Environmentalists are expressing concern about the effects of a huge overflow of coal ash from a TVA facility near Harriman, Tn.

Concerns include any possible effect on the drinking water at Chattanooga.TVA officials have not yet responded to the situation. The Kingston spill is 40 times bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill. Approximately 525 million gallons of coal ash flowed into tributaries of the Tennessee River, the water supply for Chattanooga and millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Coal contains huge amounts of heavy metals, and when coal is burned, the nasty chemicals stick around, in higher concentrations. Coal slurry is toxic.

There has been a campaign for many years against coal sludge impoundment in Sundial, W.Va., which sits 150 feet above the Marsh Fork Elementary School, and holds 2.8 billion gallons. This disaster clearly demonstrates coal is not clean. There is no clean way to burn coal.

The toxic sludge destroyed 12 homes and has already resulted in a fish kill. This catastrophe has released toxins directly into tributaries of the Tennessee River.    rw doclink

A Japanese Town That Kicked the Oil Habit.
December 23, 2008   Time Magazine

The little Japanese town of Kuzumaki (population 8,000) generates some of its electricity with cow dung and wind power. Atop Mt. Kamisodegawa, 12 wind turbines have the capacity to convert mountain gusts into 21,000 KW of electricity more than enough to meet the needs of the town's residents. At Kuzumaki Highland Farm, 200 dairy cow's manure is processed into fertilizer and methane gas, used as fuel for an electrical generator at the town's biomass facility. Nearby, a project uses wood chips to create gas that powers the farm's milk and cheese operations. The bark of other trees is made into pellets for heating stoves used throughout the community. The mayor set about working with, and getting funding. Kuzumaki hosts more than 400,000 visitors a year who come to enjoy the scenery and at what some consider to be a prototype for communities everywhere.

Additional funding could be hard to come by, since Japan has a huge budget deficit and the economy is in recession. Kuzumaki's population is falling as the young move away and remaining residents age.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: In Nepal, some mountain communities use small hydro for electricity.
The Needle and the Damage Done; Images of Oil Addiction in Canada's Tar Sands.
December 18, 2008   Grist Magazine

Canada has 179 billion barrels of proven "oil" reserves. Almost all is in Alberta's tar sands, a combination of 10% bitumen and 90% sand, clay, and water. The primary method of extraction is to remove the "overburden". Once all living matter is removed, some of the largest open pit mines in the world are used to extract the bitumen.

'Upgraders' turn the sands into synthetic crude. Current production is over 1.4 million barrels per day. Canada plans to at least triple that in the next decade.

There are some simple ways to improve things. Like not exempting the tar sands from environmental law in Canada and applying basic precautions including cleaning up toxic tailings ponds, installing air pollution controls, and conducting health assessments of workers and downstream communities. Instead, Canada's response has been to launch a $25 million public relations campaign. The federal government made an overture to President-elect Obama -- a deal that protects the tar sands from potentially forthcoming U.S. climate regulations.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: at what point does it take more energy to extract the tar sand oil than it produces?
'One Planet' Pledge for Wales.
November 19, 2008   BBC News

A plan to reduce the impact Wales has on the environment has been announced. Environment Minister committed Wales to use only its "fair share" of the world's resources. This includes an 80%-90% cut in carbon-based energy and a move to recycling waste.

The timescale envisaged is around "30 to 40 years".

The assembly government report said there was a need to "travel less by car, and live and work in ways which have a stronger connection with our local economies and communities".

The Environment Minister said ministers would use their powers to lessen Wales' environmental impact.

"Wales' ecological footprint is currently 5.16 global hectares per person, compared to a global availability of 1.88 global hectares.

Unchecked, this could rise by 20% by 2020. Environment spokesman said: "The minister has yet to fulfill her pledges on the devolution of building regulations and new powers over large energy developments, environmental protection, and waste management.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: why wait on technology, which will only go so far, and work on personal life styles, which has the capability to conserve so much more of the world's natural resources.
Global: Dirty coal to remain world's top power source: IEA.
November 12, 2008   Reuters

Coal, the dirtiest source of fuel, will remain the world's main source of power until 2030 and nuclear will lose market share. The share of coal generated power would rise to 44% by 2015 from 41% in 2006 and stay at that level to 2030, giving rise to increases in associated CO2 emissions. Most of the growth was expected in non-OECD countries, such as China, whose demand for power doubled between 2000 and 2006.

The IEA urged stronger policies for carbon capture and storage. Market mechanisms will not be sufficient to achieve the scale required. Another challenge is financing the necessary CO2 transport infrastructure. The IEA expected nuclear's share to drop to 10% by 2030 from 15% in 2006.

A large number of countries have expressed renewed interest in building nuclear power plants, but few have taken steps to build new reactors.

China topped the list of countries with nuclear power plants under construction, with 5,220 megawatts (MW), followed by India at 2,910 MW and Korea at 2,880 MW.

The IEA predicted renewable energy to rise to 23% by 2030 from 18% in 2006.

High prices would constrain growth in gas-fired generation, although it remained attractive due to lower capital costs and shorter construction time. Its market share was likely to fall from 20%.

A large number of people living are not expected to have access to electricity even in 2030. India and Africa have the highest number.

Per capita electricity consumption in non-OECD countries was likely to rise to almost 2,400 kilowatt hours (kWh) by 2030, but only to 671 kWh in Africa from 518. It would rise to 4,776 kWh in China from 1,788 in 2006.    rw doclink

U.S.: Mines to Get Freer Hand to Dump Waste; New Rule Eases Water Protections.
October 20, 2008   Washington Post

The Interior Department is poised to issue a rule that will make it easier for mining companies to dump their waste near rivers and streams. This overhauls a 1983 regulation protecting water quality and marks a step over how companies should dispose of the rubble created. The rule will take effect after a 30-day review. For 25 years, the government has prohibited mining operators from dumping debris within 100 feet of any stream if the material harms the water quality or reduces its flow.

Mining companies have frequently disregarded the law. The revised rule calls on companies to avoid the 100-foot stream buffer zone "or show why avoidance is not possible."

The agency said the change would have a "slightly positive" effect on the environment "because it requires coal mining operations to minimize certain impacts. But the implications of this ruling are devastating.

Mountaintop-removal mining is used widely in West Virginia and Kentucky, and provides access to low-sulfur coal seams but generates large amounts of waste. President Clinton pushed to restrict dumping of mining waste but left office before enacting changes. The Bush administration has been seeking to rewrite the law.

EPA administrator Johnson must certify that the environmental impact statement is adequate. Environmental groups will fight the regulation in court.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: when we were rich, we could afford to mitigate the impacts of population. Now that our economy is failing, we are even having trouble funding family planning. But there is a perceived need the coal because we are depleting oil and we haven't acted fast enough on renewables.
House Passes Bailout Plan with Extensions for Renewables, Sends to Bush's Desk .
October 06, 2008   Grist Magazine

The House approved the financial market bailout plan. The final version included the extensions for renewable tax credits that Congress has been struggling with all year. The $17 billion in tax credits includes an eight-year extension of the investment tax credit for solar energy, a one-year extension of the production tax credit for wind, and a two-year extension for solar, biomass, and hydropower. The residential energy-efficient property credit would be extended through 2016, and the definition of the systems that qualify would include small wind investment and geothermal heat pumps, also incentives for bicycle commuting and plug-in electric vehicles.

The bill includes provisions for carbon capture and sequestration, oil shale, tar sands, and coal-to-liquid fuels. The final passage is a welcome win for renewable industries. This long-term extension of the solar tax credits will create a domestic solar industry with hundreds of thousands of jobs.    rw doclink

The Flawed Economics of Nuclear Power.
October 2008   Earth Policy Institute

The nuclear industry has used climate change to argue for a nuclear revival.There is little evidence of private capital investing in nuclear plants in competitive electricity markets: nuclear power is uneconomical.

A recent analysis, put the cost of electricity from a new nuclear power plant at 14 per kilowatt hour and that from a wind farm at 7 per kilowatt hour. It does not include the additional costs for nuclear of disposing of waste, and decommissioning the plants when they wear out.

The United States, with 101,000 megawatts of nuclear-generating capacity, proposes to store radioactive waste in the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. The cost, estimated at
In the event of a catastrophic accident, every nuclear utility would be required to contribute up to $95.8 million for each licensed reactor to cover the accident's cost.

Recent estimates show decommissioning costs can reach $1.8 billion per reactor. In addition, the industry must cope with rising construction and fuel expenses.

At the beginning of this decade uranium cost roughly $10 per pound. Today it costs more than $60 per pound, reflecting the energy needed to extract ore, and shift to lower-grade ore.

A consultant projects a decline in world nuclear generating capacity. There are currently 439 operating reactors worldwide, 119 have been closed, at an average age of 22 years. If we assume a lifespan of 40 years, then 93 reactors will close between 2008 and 2015. Another 192 will close between 2016 and 2025. The remaining 154 will close after 2025.

Only 36 nuclear reactors are currently under construction, 31 in Eastern Europe and Asia. In the United States, there are none under construction.

Investors are pouring tens of billions of dollars into wind farms, and while the world's nuclear generating capacity is estimated to expand by only 1,000 megawatts this year, wind generating capacity will likely grow by 30,000 megawatts.    rw doclink

African Renewable Energy Gains Attention.
September 12, 2008   unknown

The potential for renewable energy development in Africa is experiencing an increase in attention due to abundant solar and wind resources. Africa has benefited the least among all continents from the $7 billion annual CDM market. Since the European Union began trading "carbon credits", only 27 of the 1,156CDM projects included under the scheme have been registered in Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa could provide more than 170 gigawatts of additional power-generation capacity, through "low-carbon" energy projects, such as biofuels production, mass transportation, and energy efficiency. These could avoid 740 million tons of CO2 reductions each year. The capital costs are estimated to be at least $157 billion. Sub-Saharan Africa is set to receive only 1.4% percent of the 3,700 CDM projects under way worldwide. Africa's future energy growth is reliant on conventional power sources and the renewable energy hype has only provided set-backs. The number of failed renewable energy projects in Africa over the last 20 years is verging on the irresponsible and have set back development by raising aspirations and then failing to deliver.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the electric utility infrastructure is lacking. Across the region, 500 million people lack access to electricity. It is therefore clear that a number of technologies will need to be applied. But renewable energy schemes are still being discussed.

About 0.3% of the sunlight that shines on the Sahara and Middle East deserts could supply all of Europe's energy needs. Along the Great Rift Valley a huge amount of untapped geothermal energy may soon be developed. Kenya announced that it would install some 1,700 megawatts of geothermal capacity within the next 10 years.

Among the plans announced were for solar-power in Nigeria, biofuels in the Ivory Coast, and a wind farm in Senegal.    rw doclink

Israel: Electric-car Visionary Would Overhaul the Way We Get Around.
August 19, 2008   Grist Magazine

Over 100,000 electric cars will roll out in Israel by the end of 2011, and Denmark will provide a testing ground. This is a way that's profit able for business, cheap for drivers, and easy on the planet. Drivers purchase electricity on subscription, paying for unlimited miles, a certain number of miles per month, or pay-as-you-go. At battery exchange stations drivers swap in a fully charged one.    rw doclink

US California: Editorial: Climate Plan Must Focus on Fostering Auto Alternatives.
August 08, 2008   San Jose Mercury News

California'S 2006 global-warming law is designed to create environmental progress that can spread throughout the nation.

The law calls for reduced carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. That's the equivalent of taking nearly 30 million cars off California's roads. The draft envisions achieving less than 2% of the goal through policies that would encourage people to walk or take alternative forms of transportation.

Silicon Valley residents urge a more aggressive strategy.

San Jose's land-use policies aim to create more neighborhoods that offer alternatives to the car, whether walking, biking or taking buses or trains. But reshaping communities that grew through sprawl takes years. The state needs to encourage this transformation. To make a difference in 10, 20 or 30 years, the air board needs to set aggressive goals now.    rw doclink

Ralph says: As a boy I lived for years in a rural community with only bicycles for transport. It was a happy place to live. Karen Gaia says: if we don't want disaster, we must start getting people out of their cars now. Save the oil for critical things, because it will be some time before there are viable options.
McCain Touts His Nuclear Plans at Reactor Site.
August 06, 2008   Los Angeles Times

John McCain supports nuclear power, which he argues must be part of America's energy future.

He toured the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant, a 1,100-megawatt boiling water reactor on the shores of Lake Erie.

A nearby reactor was decommissioned in 1975 after a partial fuel meltdown that caused no injuries.

But soaring prices have pushed energy to the top of voters' concerns, and the Arizona senator has focused his campaign efforts at highlighting his policies -- and criticizing Barack Obama.

Sen. Obama has said that expanding our nuclear power plants doesn't make sense for America. He also says no to nuclear storage and no to nuclear processing. "I could not disagree more." said McCain.

Obama's campaign spokesman Bill Burton said Obama "supports safe and secure nuclear energy. . . . However, before an expansion of nuclear power is considered, Obama thinks key issues must be addressed, including: security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation."

McCain supports entombing spent fuel at Yucca Mountain, in the Nevada desert, while Obama opposes using the mountain facility.

McCain also has called for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, as is widely done in France and other countries. Obama says experts must first solve safety and security concerns.

The Energy Department on Tuesday released a report that concluded it would cost $96.2 billion to research, build and operate Yucca Mountain until it closes in 2133, a 38% increase from a 2001 estimate. Part of that increase is based on a projection that it would need to store 30% more nuclear waste, requiring a major expansion of the planned facility.

In his remarks to reporters, McCain again pledged to build 45 new nuclear plants by 2030, a sharp increase over the nation's 104 operating commercial reactors.

McCain has not explained how he would achieve that goal. Although the federal government already provides generous tax incentives and loan guarantees, no utility has begun construction on a new nuclear plant since the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in western Pennsylvania in 1979 led to more federal regulations and local opposition.

Polls show the anti-nuclear fervor of the 1980s and 1990s has cooled considerably. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has received 10 new license applications since September 2007, and officials said they expected to have 18 by the end of the year.

Detroit Edison, the owner and operator here, has made tentative plans to construct a third reactor nearby. But licensing and construction of a new nuclear power plant "could take as many as 11 years to complete."

A reporter asked McCain how he would build the new plants in only 22 years. "It can take five years to build a nuclear power plant. You can ask our folks here."    rw doclink

US Alaska: Anchorage Joins Led City Initiative to Improve Light Quality and Reduce Energy Costs.
July 29, 2008   MarketWatch

Cree Inc, a leader in LED lighting, and the Municipality of Anchorage announced Anchorage's participation in an international program that promotes the deployment of energy-efficient LED lighting. The appropriation of $2.2 million will enable the city to change out roughly one-quarter of Anchorage's streetlights. New lighting technology will save energy and maintenance cost.

The continental U.S. has more than eight hours of daylight per day but in Anchorage, 85 days a year see less than eight hours of daylight.

The LED fixtures from BetaLED are expected to use 50% less energy than current streetlights, which could save the city $360,000 annually at today's energy prices. The LED fixtures typically last up to seven times longer than high-pressure sodium fixtures.    rw doclink

U.S.: Funds for Highways Plummet As Drivers Cut Gasoline Use.
July 28, 2008   The Wall Street Journal

A report shows that over the past seven months, Americans have reduced their driving by more than 40 billion miles. The cutback furthers reducing oil consumption and curbing emissions. But it means consumers are paying less in fuel taxes, which finance highway and mass-transit systems. As a result, many such projects may have to be pared down or eliminated.

Surging costs for construction materials already are straining state and local transportation budgets and make it more expensive to maintain roads, bridges and rail networks.

About 25% of bridges in the U.S. are either "functionally obsolete" or "structurally deficient."

Moreover, the pavement is rated "not acceptable" on one of every seven miles of the nation's roads. About $225 billion a year is needed to meet the country's transportation infrastructure needs. Current spending is about 40% of that level.

On top of the gasoline tax, at 18.4 cents a gallon, the states charge their own gasoline taxes, which are typically slightly above the federal rate.

The administration is expected to project a deficit of $5 billion or more in the Highway Trust Fund for next year. The trust historically has run a surplus.

A memo estimates that the states will lose about $14 billion and 380,000 jobs if Congress doesn't act soon.

The House passed a bill targeting $8 billion for highway and mass-transit projects and it has a good chance of clearing the Senate. The House designated an additional $1 billion for bridge repair.

A debate is expected next year as Congress considers a six-year transportation bill that could authorize more than $400 billion in spending.

The goal would give states flexibility to set transportation spending, while making it easier for them to tap private-sector dollars. Also it asks Congress to loosen restrictions on new tolls on interstate highways.

A big question will be what to do about the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for the promises in each transportation bill and should a greater share of transportation dollars go to other nonhighway options.

An Oregon Democrat who is leading efforts to solve the "transportation funding crisis," is hoping the presidential candidates will offer their views.

Sen. Barack Obama, proposed a $60 billion national infrastructure bank that would fund projects that could improve transportation.

With driving down, the number of people riding Amtrak has risen 11% and mass-transit systems in many areas are experiencing ridership increases of 30% or more.

Mississippi is diverting money from new road improvement projects toward simple maintenance of existing roads.

Many consumers are altering their travel patterns, forcing auto makers to overhaul their plans and straining the capacity of many transit systems.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: if we don't step up transportation alternatives, we are going to be caught in a transportation shortage when the demand grows again with population growth. Americans can cut back to some degree, but there will be a time in the near future when alternatives will be needed.
U.S.: Speaking Bluntly in a Chat with Grist, Speaker Nancy Pelosi Says Climate Progress Hinges on Obama Victory.
July 22, 2008   Grist Magazine

Nancy Pelosi said that energy and climate change hinges on Barack Obama winning the White House, and only the presidency can overcome the agents of the status quo. Pelosi acknowledged that Gore's ambitious call to move to 100% renewable electricity in 10 years is possible. Pelosi talked about this goal and the politics surrounding climate and energy on the Hill.    rw doclink

Gore Sets Moon Shot Goal on Climate Change.
July 17, 2008   Associated Press

Al Gore is challenging the nation to produce all electricity through wind, sun and Earth-friendly energy sources within 10 years. Fuel costs, climate change and the national security threats by U.S. dependence on foreign oil are creating a political environment that Gore said will sustain bold steps to wean the nation off fossil fuels.

He said he understands the magnitude of the challenge.

A bipartisan group estimates the cost of transforming the nation to clean electricity sources at $1.5 to $3 trillion over 30 years. But he says it would cost about as much to build ozone free coal plants.

"I hope to contribute to a new political environment that will allow the next president to do the right thing."

To meet his 10-year goal, Gore said nuclear energy output would continue at current levels while the nation increases its use of solar, wind, geothermal and so-called clean coal energy.

If the nation fails to act, the cost of oil will continue to rise. Experts predicted that, at the current rate, world energy demand will grow 50% over the next two decades. The world is not close to abandoning fossil fuels despite their effect on global warming.    rw doclink

Energy Transitions Past and Future.
July 01, 2008   The Oil Drum

Fire transformed life by providing light, warmth, cooking, healing and the ability to smelt and forge metals, and to bake bricks, ceramics, and lime. If fire was the first Promethean energy technology, then Promethean II was the heat engine, powered first by wood and coal, and then by oil and natural gas. Heat engines achieve a conversion of heat into mechanical work. Surplus energy is the gross energy extracted less the energy used in the extraction process itself. Fossil fuels deliver the much larger surplus compared to draft animals and human labor.

The rapid expansion of the human population and its material living standard over the past 200 years could not have been produced by solar energy and wood being converted by plants, humans and draft animals. Advances in every human sphere were driven directly or indirectly by the changes in society's energy systems.

In the coming decades, world oil production will peak and begin to decline, followed by natural gas and eventually coal. There is debate about when these peaks will occur because such information would greatly aid energy companies, policy makers, and the general public. But the timing of peak fossil fuel production doesn't really matter. A more fundamental issue is the magnitude and nature of the energy transition that will eventually occur. The next energy transition will occur under a very different set of conditions, which are the subject of the rest of this discussion.

The last major transition occurred when coal replaced wood as the dominant fuel. Wood and animal feed suppled more than 95% of the energy used in the US in 1800. The population of the nation was 5.3 million people, per capita GDP was about $1,200, dominant energy converters were human labor and draft animals, and the population was rural and concentrated near the eastern seaboard.

The nation was transformed by World War I. Coal had replaced wood meeting 70% of the nation's energy needs, with hydropower and oil and natural gas combining for an additional 15%. Steam engines and turbines replaced people and draft animals as the dominant energy converters. The population had soared to more than 100 million, per capita GDP had increased to $6,000, more than half of the nation's population lived in cities, and manufacturing and services accounted for most of the nation's economic output.

Consider what it would take today to replace even one-half of U.S. fossil fuel use with renewable energy: we would need to displace coal and petroleum energy flows 32 times the amount of coal used in 1885. Current global fossil fuel use is about 13 TW, so we need more than 6 TW of renewable energies to replace 50% of all fossil fuels. This is a staggering shift.

The only renewable energy that exceeds annual global fossil fuel use is direct solar radiation. The delivery of electricity or heat directly from solar energy represents a tiny fraction of our energy portfolio due to economic and technical constraints. Most other renewable energy flows could not meet current energy needs even if they were fully utilized. The notion of "total energy use" indicates that coal, oil, gas, uranium, kilowatt-hours (kWh), radiationare added together. The simplest and most common form is to add up the individual variables according to their thermal equivalents. For example, 1 kWh is equal to 3.6x106 joules, 1 barrel of oil is equal to 6.1x109 joules, and so on.

The preeminent position of liquid fuels derived from crude oil is one reason why it transformed the availability, nature and impact of transport in society. Hydrogen has the highest energy to weight ratio of all fuels. The high gravimetric density of hydrogen is one reason why it is used for a fuel in the space program. However, hydrogen has an extremely low amount of energy per unit volume. Hydrogen's low volumetric energy density poses significant technical and economic challenges to the large-scale production, transport and storage for commercial amounts of the fuel.

Fossil fuel deposits are a concentrated source of high-quality energy. This means that very small land areas are needed to supply enormous energy flows. In contrast, densities of electricity produced by water and wind are commonly below 10 W/m2. Only photovoltaic generation, a technique not yet ready for mass utilization, can deliver more than 20 W/m2 of peak power.

In order to energize the existing infrastructures inherited from the fossil-fueled era, a solar-based society would have to concentrate diffuse flows to bridge these large power density gaps. Mismatch between the inherently low power densities of renewable energy flows and relatively high power densities of modern final energy uses means that a solar-based system will require a profound spatial restructuring with major environmental and socioeconomic consequences. Most notably there would be vastly increased fixed land requirements for primary conversions, especially with all conversions relying on inherently inefficient photosynthesis.

The unprecedented expansion of the human population, the global economy, and per capita living standards of the last 200 years was powered by high energy surplus fossil fuels. The largest oil and gas fields, due to their sheer physical size, delivered energy surpluses that dwarfed any previous source. That surplus is what makes conventional fossil fuels unique.

The Alberta oil sands remain an enigma from a net energy perspective.

Intermittency refers to the fraction of time that an energy source is available. The wind does not blow all the time and the sun does not shine all the time, so a wind turbine and PV array sometimes stand idle. One aspect of intermittency is the load factor which is the ratio of the output of a power plant compared to the maximum output it could produce. Intermittency means that wind and solar power can't be started up when you most need them. A large geographical spread of wind or solar power is needed to reduce variability.

These and other "ancillary costs" rise as those sources penetrate the market. In the longer run, the additional costs on the the deployment of wind and solar power must be compared with the effective costs of other low-carbon power sources.

Power generation using fossil fuels, especially coal, is a principal source of trace heavy metals such as mercury, selenium, and arsenic.

Carbon emissions drive a range of global and regional environmental changes, including global climate change, acid deposition, and urban smog, and they pose a major health risk. In the year 2000, indoor air pollution from solid fuel use was responsible for more than 1.6 million annual deaths and 2.7% of the global burden of disease.

The global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased from a pre-industrial value of about 280 parts per million (ppm) to 379 ppm in 2005. The increase in carbon dioxide concentrations are a principal driving force behind the increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century.

Replacing energy-dense liquid fuels from crude oil with less energy dense biomass fuels will require 1,000- to 10,000-fold increase in land area relative to the existing energy infrastructure, and thus place additional significant pressure on the planet's life support systems.

The rise of markets for energy not only added volatility to energy markets, and hence energy prices, but also helped elevate energy as to a key strategic financial commodity. Global market forces will thus be an important driving force behind the next energy transition. The effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissions at the international level is the penultimate example of government intervention in energy markets.

The energy transition that powered the Industrial Revolution helped create a new economic and social class by raising the incomes and changing the occupations of a large fraction of society who were then employed in rural, agrarian economies. Future energy systems must support the growing living standards in wealthy nations, and energy sufficient to relieve the abject poverty of the world's poorest.

Energy poverty has been defined as the absence of sufficient choice in accessing adequate, affordable, reliable, high quality, safe and environmentally benign energy services to support economic and human development. Nearly 1.6 billion people have no access to electricity and some 2.4 billion people rely on traditional biomasswood, agricultural residues and dungfor cooking and heating.

The costs of wind, solar and biomass have declined due to steady technical advances, but in key areas of energy qualitydensity, they remain inferior to conventional fuels. Alternative energy sources are not likely to supplant fossil fuels in the short term. Electricity from wind and solar sources may face competition from nuclear power, the sole established low-carbon power source with significant potential for expansion.    rw doclink

Citing Need for Assessments, U.S. Freezes Solar Energy Projects.
June 27, 2008   New York Times*

The federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact. The Bureau of Land Management says an environmental study is needed to determine how large solar plants might affect millions of acres it oversees. The decision to freeze new solar proposals temporarily has caused widespread concern in the alternative-energy industry. Federally administered land in the West is ideal for solar energy, particularly in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California. Solar companies have filed more than 130 proposals since 2005. They center on the desires to lease public land to build solar plants and then sell the energy to utilities.

The applications, which cover more than one million acres, are for projects that have the potential to power more than 20 million homes.

All involve two types of solar plants, concentrating solar plants use mirrors to direct sunlight toward a synthetic fluid, which powers a steam turbine that produces electricity. Photovoltaic plants use solar panels to convert sunlight into electric energy.

Photovoltaic solar projects grew by 48% in 2007. Eleven concentrating solar plants are operational in the US and 20 are in planning or permitting, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The manager of the Bureau of Land Management's environmental impact study said that many factors must be considered when deciding on the scale being proposed, among them the impact of construction and transmission lines on native vegetation and wildlife.

Water use can be a factor as well, especially in the parched areas where virtually all of the proposed plants would be built. Concentrating solar plants may require water to condense the steam used to power the turbine.

These plants potentially have a 20- to 30-year life span. How to restore that land is a big question.

Officials emphasized they will continue processing the more than 130 applications received before May 29. Many believe that the freeze is unwarranted. Some say small solar energy businesses could suffer if they are forced to turn to more expensive private land for development.

The industry is concerned over the fate of federal solar investment tax credits, which are set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress renews them. This is a very young industry, and the majority of us that are involved are young, struggling, hungry companies. This is a setback.    rw doclink

U.S.: McCain Calls for Building 45 New Nuclear Reactors.
June 19, 2008   San Francisco Chronical

Senator McCain called for the construction of 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030 and pledged $2 billion a year in federal funds "to make clean coal a reality."
McCain said the 104 nuclear reactors currently operating produce about 20% of the nation's annual electricity.

"We have not broken ground on a single nuclear plant in over thirty years," he said. "And our manufacturing base to even construct these plants is almost gone."

Even so, he said he would set the country on a course to build 45 new ones by 2030, with a longer-term goal of adding another 55 in the future.

McCain suggested U.S. companies use common technology to shave the time in takes to bring a new nuclear facility on line. We will need to solve problems of moving and storing materials that will need safeguarding.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones said obtaining the necessary construction permits can take five years and we should be able to cut that in half. Gasoline at $4 a gallon and more, has made energy a domestic political issue. McCain made the case for a nationwide effort to reduce dependence on foreign oil. No advancement in energy technology could mean more to America than the clean burning of coal," he said.

Obama has said McCain's support for additional offshore oil drilling is evidence that he would effectively give the country another term of the Bush presidency.    rw doclink

Another Sunny Year for Solar Power.
June 2008   BRY

Global production of photovoltaic (PV) or solar cells increased 51% in 2007, to 3,733 megawatt, bringing cumulative global installations of PVs since 1996 to more than 9,740 megawatts. Germany produced 1,063 megawatts of solar cells in 2007, up 56%. About 40,000 people are now employed in the PV industry in Germany who remains the world's top PV installer, accounting for almost half of the global market in 2007. As capacity has risen, PV installed system costs have been cut in half in Germany between 1997 and 2007 and now meet about 1% of Germany's electricity demand, a share that some analysts expect could reach 25% by 2050. Japan produced more PV cells than any other country, with 920 megawatts manufactured in 2007. Unable to compete with China and Taiwan for low-cost solar cells, Japanese manufacturers are looking to thin-film technology. China has become the second largest cell-producing nation after Japan, but the Chinese market for PVs remains small, and much of the 20 megawatts of new capacity installed in 2007 was for remote off-grid applications. Spain ranked second after Germany for total installations in 2007 and added from 425 to 640 megawatts in 2007. In the US, cell production rose 48% to 266 megawatts. An estimated 150 megawatts of new gridconnected PV was installed in the US in 2007, putting the nation in fourth place for total capacity-behind Germany, Japan, and Spain. Southern California Edison announced plans to install 250 megawatts of distributed capacity over the next five years.

Strong growth occurred against a backdrop of polysilicon shortages. New capacity will come online in the second half of 2008. The European Photovoltaic Industry Association projects 80,000 tons of annual production by 2010, up from just over 37,000 tons in 2007.
The shortage is driving advances in thin film technologies, that can be integrated into roof shingles, siding, and the windows. Thin-film production has increased nearly fourfold in the past two years, claiming more than 10% of the global market in 2007. Performance data for such technologies are limited, and efficiencies remain low compared with conventional solar cells. But the situation is improving and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory set a new record at 19.9%, close to commercial levels for conventional cells.
Prometheus Institute projects that installed system prices for large projects will fall 50% by 2010, to $4 per watt.

Solar electricity is likely to become cost-competitive with the retail price of electricity in many parts of the world in the next several years.    rw doclink

U.S.: Consumers Shunning Hefty Hybrids .
May 28, 2008   MSNBC

Analysts are seeing a tepid reaction to SUVs like the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid and hybrid GMC Yukon, both launched in fall 2007. Concern about climate change and fuel prices has attached a stigma to large cars that isn't much lessened by the word 'hybrid'. Most consumers are buying smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, though original Tahoes and Yukons have been selling better than their hybrid counterparts, likely thanks to the fact that the non-hybrids are about $20,000 cheaper.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: I include such articles for those who think "Technology will save us."
U.A.E.: Abu Dhabi Announces Transport Plan.
May 25, 2008   XPRESS

The Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi announced a plan 2008-2012 covering aviation, maritime, public transport, and highways.

The plan aims to to deliver an effective transport system that contributes to economic growth, quality of life and environmental sustainability. The integration of all transport, and aligning it with the future needs. Abu Dhabi is witnessing growth in the economic, industrial and tourism sectors, which need to be supported by a strong and modern transport infrastructure. Department of Transport has set out priorities that come in conformity with the Government strategy following global best practice, in pursuit of a comfortable, fast and reliable transport network in and between the cities and suburbs of Abu Dhabi.

The Department of Transport priorities are:

Planning and performance management to ensure integration between transport and the transport master plan.

The expansion of the air transport network in support of the aviation growth through the implementation of the Open Skies policy. Planning to build integrated seaports following the highest global standards. Khalifa Port at Taweela will allow for the future handling of 80 million tones.
New public transport solutions to connect Abu Dhabi and its suburbs to other parts of the Emirate.

The implementation of best practice of highways and its infrastructure to ensure the highest standards of safety and security.

Overseeing the quality of passenger, cargo and airline services offered at the airport. The expansion of the air transport coverage through the implementation of the Open Skies policy. tion with other transport sectors.

Ensure efficiency at sea ports in the Emirate, in environmental sustainability and integration with other sectors. The development of transport services, the connection of all cities, suburbs and regions in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Minimize the negative environmental effects of public transportion energy sources.

The priorities of the Highways Sector are the extension of the highways network throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to cope with current and future urban expansion and population growth. The expansion and maintenance of the highway network to ensure seamless travel and the continuity of the highways network quality and effectiveness while implementing and following global best practice in all areas of activity.    rw doclink

US Kentucky: Rain Barrels Make a Statement.
April 10, 2008   Kentucky.com

Does our modern lifestyle make you wonder what kind of world we're leaving for our children? Then save money and help the environment: Get a rain barrel.

There will be 68 of them, painted by artists for auction at the Berea Rain Barrel Festival. You can buy an unpainted plastic barrel for $55.

Twice as many artists and community groups are expected to paint barrels. A rain barrel is fitted with a screened hole on top where the gutter pipe drains in, an overflow hose, and a spigot at the bottom. A rain barrel can save money and allow you to ignore watering restrictions during a drought.

The citizens group Sustainable Berea has been converting recycled food-grade plastic and wooden barrels into rain barrels and selling them. Social responsibility has always been a part of life in the town, home to Berea College and famous for its artists and craftsmen.

Berea has had droughts in 18 of the past 77 years, and its population has grown more than 30% since 2000. An inch of rain produces 275 million gallons of water in Berea. The more that can be captured and reused, the less demand for costly expansion of the city reservoirs.

The Olsons use of roof-mounted solar panels to heat their water and provide much of their home's electricity. On sunny days, they sell electricity back to the local power company. He figures his $4,000 solar water-heating system will pay for itself in about 8 years. But it will take longer for his $15,000 solar power system to break even.

Mark Jeantheau collects rainwater for his garden in four 2,000-gallon underground cisterns, and his home incorporates passive energy technologies.

He also has a power-generating system fed by two solar collectors in his yard. In a year, the system will provide all the power his home will use.    rw doclink

Ralph says: As a boy I remember every house in the village collected rain water for clothes washing in large tin barrels.
Turning Asia Cool and Green.
April 03, 2008   Middle East Events

Asian countries, led by Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and India are introducing green building ratings along the lines of systems operating in Britain and the US. In a survey of 414 companies, 12% in Asia said they were willing to pay premiums of over 10% for "sustainable" buildings, compared with 3% in North America and Europe. Some of India's coolest buildings using recycled water, wells, wind tunnels and sun screens to chill work places and slash energy costs.

It might be more fashionable today with reports on global warming and climate change but energy saving cooling techniques have always been part of Asian architecture.
The ecological footprint measures how much land and water area a human population requires and today, humanity's ecological footprint is said to be over 23% larger than what the planet can regenerate.

Urban centres can become carbon neutral and green building techniques can increase efficiency and reduce environmental impact. The 85-storey, mixed use India Tower in Mumbai will use a solar chimney to generate electricity, provide on-site wastewater reclamation, and aims to be a gold certified green building.

The tower will integrate sustainable systems and technologies including solar shading, natural ventilation, rainwater harvesting, and green interior finishes and materials. In Japan, a sustainable city based on the principles of eco-friendly infrastructure and energy consumption is being designed. It incorporates the latest technology in transport, and urban development to produce a low carbon footprint.    rw doclink

Osram's Unique Project in Kenya.
March 31, 2008   BourSonews

About 1.6 billion people live without electricity. OSRAM offers a sustainable lighting solution for regions without power supply networks. Around Lake Victoria there are approximately 30 million people who do not have access to a permanent power supply. Burning kerosene to produce light emits 67 million tonnes of CO2 each year in Africa. OSRAM's solar station, the OSRAM Energy Hub, is a concept that can be replicated anywhere in the world. In Mbita is a successful implementation of the Off Grid concept. This small town on the banks of Lake Victoria has a thriving economy based on fishing. Around 175,000 fishermen use kerosene lamps to entice the fish. Switching over to solar-powered energy-saving lamps will pay for itself in just four weeks. At the same time, jobs are being created at the Energy Hubs. Three further Energy Hubs in Kenya and Uganda are to open.

The OSRAM Energy Hub in Mbita was built in four months. The pilot Hubs have water treatment systems with integrated UV lamps. The OSRAM O-LAMP BASIC operates with an external battery box which can be taken back to the nearest Energy Hub as soon as it is discharged and exchanged for a fully charged battery.    rw doclink

US Michigan: Detroit, Green City.
March 30, 2008   Michigan Citizen

Urban planners say the best way to turn an industrial city into a green city may be to just leave the city be.

At a presentation three areas were said to become the focal points for future development. The most important was population density and building up is a great way to minimize land waste.

Studies show walkable cities are the goal, so developing the city around pedestrian traffic is another way to gain more density. Mass transit is vital; Detroit is without a system.

Mass transit means that residents without cars could have a reliable ride to work, there would be fewer cars, and a reduced need for parking and a turnaround in air quality. Light-rail stations may help attract investors and mixed-use buildings that house both businesses and people. With people come density, more transit options and a boom for economic development.

Mixed-use buildings are efficient and have proved to be places people want to be. Parking lots are are seldom full, they absorb money and resources. Traditional development leads to lower density and greater infrastructure costs. These practices are not economically feasible. Population density is the key to a sustainable city.

The third aspect to sustaining a green city is reuse and preservation of buildings. The carbon footprint of demolition, waste transportation, and rebuilding is enormous. Building preservation and adaptive reuse are the best ways to employ sustainability.

The recent emphasis on being environmentally responsible and the financial benefits may spark investors to build green.

There is increasing evidence that green buildings cost less in the long run, mainly through better energy and water efficiency, but also by reducing waste, improving indoor air quality and through lower operation and maintenance costs. A change in lifestyle is necessary for green urbanism.    rw doclink

Biofuels: Fields of Dreams.
March 09, 2008   Times Online

Are biofuels the answer to exhausted oil wells or another nightmare scenario?
Only two months have passed since Lord Rooker, minister for sustainable food and farming and animal health, opened the UK's first bioethanol plant at in Norfolk, when he pronounced himself "pleased to see the UK is leading the way in promoting sustainable biofuel production". But we need more research. Until it's done, the MPs want the government to suspend all support for biofuels.

The case against biodiesel is that virgin rainforest in Indonesia and Malaysia is being cut down to make way for soy and palm. Result: more CO2 is being released into the atmosphere. The problem with bioethanol is that it uses human or animal food crops, and so threatens to create shortages and price increases that will make hungry people even hungrier. Population growth means the world will need 40% more food by 2020, and climate change will mean less land to grow it on. And yet already, 25% of the US corn crop is going for bioethanol, and wheat prices compete with oil in the frequency with which they set new records.

In Tanzania, where European and US biofuel companies were already moving in, "Huge changes in land use and land ownership are scheduled, meaning that fuel will be grown instead of food, and small-scale farmers will be pushed off their lands, biofuel crops will always start to be cultivated on the most productive land"; and the risk of Europe exporting environmental problems to developing countries supplying the fuels.

The mistake is to believe that we can hold biofuels on pause and wait for some throbbing genius to come up with a perfect technological fix. If the consumption of commercial biofuels is to increase, then there will have to be some incentive for car makers and their customers to build and drive vehicles that run on them. At the moment, European fuel standards allow suppliers to mix up to 5% of biofuel into regular petrol or diesel.

By vandalising forests, displacing food crops and using fossil fuels to run their vehicles and plant, biofuel companies are not damping down climate change; they are stoking it. Biofuels should not be made at the expense of the rainforest, or of the ability of Africa to feed itself, or of a liveable climate.

With effective political leadership, all these needs might be balanced. Biofuels must not be associated with deforestation, says Ensus's Alwyn Hughes. "The sooner we get robust sustainability certification in place, well-thought-out processes for measuring carbon, and holding people like ourselves to account, the better." It is unusual to see an industry clamouring for regulation, but it believes this is the only way forward.

Stimulating agriculture means cutting subsidised exports from Europe and America, and creating incentives for enterprises such as biofuel crops.

The risk is that higher prices will then enrich the rural population at the expense of the urban, who will have to pay more for their food. The optimists' answer is that revived rural economies will halt the flow of villagers into urban slums.

There should be a moratorium on biofuels until so-called "second-generation feedstocks" switchgrass, jatropha seeds, woodchip, municipal waste or other organic materials are ready for wide-scale production. But we're living on a planet that's going to warm up in that 20 years. The sooner we get the thing moving, the better.

The hydrogen fuel cell is known as the holy grail. Recently a vehicle has been created that runs on a fuel cell but boasts the performance and looks of a traditional car. Manufacturing it is a filthy business the environmental cost of hydrogen is on a par with oil unless you do so by means of sustainable energy, such as wind or solar power, and that still isn't viable for the amount that we need.    rw doclink

Asia: Go Solar, Presenter Says.
March 02, 2008   Taipei Times

Gerhard Knies said the future of clean energy lies in deserts, where sunlight is abundant. This may create revenue, and employment opportunities.

"The amount of energy available in deserts around the world is 700 times the needed amount to support a 10 billion global population." Knies said.

Coal-burning imposes environmental damage and fossil fuel is becoming increasingly scarce and expensive.

In 2050 the world population is predicted to be 10 billion, but fossil fuel burning will at the same time compromise the world's capacity to support only 3 billion people.

A switch to clean energy is sustainable and abundant.

Knies recommended solar energy since it is "the only clean energy that is sufficient for the world population, cheap to produce, has rare intermittences and can be readily deployed on a mass scale."

To drive the costs down, Knies said building them in deserts was best.

The cost can be further driven down by on-site heat storage in the power plants.

Solar energy presents a business opportunity. Based on an estimated global population of 10 billion for 2050, there needs to be solar panels capable of generating 400 million watts of energy each day to supply 50% of the world power with solar energy.

The rapid increase rate cannot be matched by nuclear plants -- it would be impossible to build them fast enough.    rw doclink

Australia: Let's Get Serious About Public Transport.
February 27, 2008   Age

There is a solid economic reason for public transport: the rail backbone of Melbourne's public transport system is critical to the survival of Melbourne as an economic entity.

In cities without public transport, three times as much space must be made available for car parking as is required by office and retail workers. US experience suggests that when an all-car city grows beyond a population of about 400,000, it chokes on car traffic. If we converted Melbourne to an unplanned, all-car city, at least two-thirds of its value would be destroyed: the loss of rental income in the Central Business District (CBD) would be greater than the entire operating cost of the public transport system.

Every worker who uses public transport frees up sufficient car parking space to provide office accommodation for three further workers and doubles the value of the land converted from parking to production.

This has led American cities such as Dallas and Los Angeles to invest heavily in both light and heavy rail projects, reversing the urban blight that turned large areas into car parks.

This same logic causes Melbourne's planners to concentrate on increasing the speed and efficiency of the radial train network. By making long-distance commuting cheaper, the CBD and St Kilda Road can draw on a larger pool of workers, while shortening travel times will make commuting to the city attractive to workers who might otherwise take suburban jobs.    rw doclink

U.K.: Environmentalists Back Tidal Scheme.
February 08, 2008   ic Wales

Plans for one of the world's first commercial scale tidal power schemes off the Welsh coast were unveiled yesterday.

Npower Renewables and Marine Current Turbines say the plant could generate 10.5 megawatts of electricity every year. UK Government has set a target of 10% of electricity from renewables by 2010, and 15% by 2015.

Though the position is in an ecologically sensitive area, it was backed by some environmentalists yesterday.

Energy experts suggested the next decade is certain to bring a proliferation of such schemes around the coast of Wales.

A tidal barrage in the Severn Estuary that could supply up to 5% of the UK's electricity has been decades in the planning and is edging ever closer.

Conway Council gave its support for a tidal energy scheme at either Rhyl, Rhos-on-Sea or Llanddulas.

It is a significant step in commercialising the technology to deliver the country's carbon reduction targets, and opens up opportunities for the technology to be deployed in other parts of the world.

The scheme would be sited in 25-metre deep open water and consist of seven 1.5MW turbines, each likely to stand about nine metres above sea level.

The location benefits from good port facilities at Holyhead, proximity to the national grid and good transport links. The firms are required to carry out full environmental impact assessments before a planning application is submitted in the middle of 2009.

"The local birds are not on our list of endangered species, but the Skerries are a protected area. The reason for the designation is the assemblage and numbers of breeding terns there.

"We will be scrutinising any environmental impact because of the sensitivity of the area."

But Friends of the Earth (FOE) Cymru would be backing the proposals and suggested the impact on sea life would be negligible.

The birds will have extra structures to perch on, which is something they do with marker buoys.

"The turbines are pretty low-impact in the marine environment. They have such a small footprint they would not be an issue.

"Also the turbines turn so slowly we are not going to end up with sliced dolphins.

"The only impact people might complain about is the visual one, the structures have to be painted yellow."    rw doclink

Energy: It's Real Money Now.
January 30, 2008   Colorado Daily

Boulder's Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum on eco-friendly business practices and the place was packed.

Dan King, owner of the Boulder Outlook Hotel led off the presentation. In 2006, he announced intentions to become a Zero Waste hotel, which rarely lead to absolutely zero waste, but will come up with strategies to reduce waste that would otherwise wind up in a landfill. He pointed out that their "plastic" eating utensils were made out of biodegradable and compostable plant cellulose.

Zero Waste strategies include that all to-go containers made from compostable materials, and all paper goods are made from 100 percent post-production product. They have quit purchasing plastic water bottles, and installed bins for recyclables and compostables in its guest rooms, kitchen and public areas.

The Zero Waste effort has an ongoing expense. But guests have said they decide to stay at the Outlook because of its commitment, and it has led to better staff morale.

Businesses face increasing energy costs; climate change; increases in resource costs as the world population continues to grow; and the possibility of "peak oil. But businesses should be able to adapt and survive or thrive, if they know what's coming.

For example, Wal-Mart says it intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% over eight years by tackling energy efficiency in its stores and trucking operations including forklifts powered by hydrogen fuel cells, solar panels and savings on energy or fuel.

IBM uses energy-efficient lighting and light sensors; purchases wind power; and encourages employees to work at home and/or use alternative transportation. It offers energy-efficient hardware and energy tips to potential customers.

IBM is working on a new Data Center at its Boulder campus that it is hoped will qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. It will feature high insulation, a heat exchanger that can utilize free cooling from the outside air, and low-emissions generators using low-sulfur fuels.

The Sink restaurant/tavern started recycling used fryer oil; purchased 100% wind power; switched to waterless urinals and low-flow fixtures; ordered compostable goods; and took advantage of a City of Boulder assistance program to install energy-efficient lighting.

The Sink features products from New Belgium Brewery, which has made a major commitment to wind power and green building.    rw doclink

Rwanda;: Investment in Renewable Energy is Vital.
January 28, 2008   Africa News Service

Sustainable development cannot be realized when the environment is abused and people indulge in environmental degradation. Energy used during production produces carbon dioxide, bringing about global warming, which causes multiple problems.

Replacing the energy that comes from fossils is a gradual one, as new methods of using renewable sources have been more effective as far as environment conservation is concerned.

Solar energy is more cost effective than fossil fuel, if more expensive in the short run.

The population has to be taught about renewable energy and reducing the rate of cutting trees. The executive secretary of Rwanda Environmental Conservation Organization (RECOR), avers that there is need to think alternative energy sources, and a campaign is on in Rwanda to encourage investors to inject their money in renewable energy.

The coordinator of RECOR blames the use of fossil related fuels on the current global warming pattern. In order to achieve the MDG's, environment must be a priority. Every body must have an active role towards planting trees, which reduce carbon dioxide, as green plants use carbon dioxide while making their own food.

Petroleum is exhaustible, and environmentally hazardous. More engineers and technicians should be trained to impart the knowledge that will implement renewable energy engineering.

Rainfall patterns have changed, which brings about poor harvests, poor economic performance and famine. RECOR has made a list of the equipment needed in generating renewable energy, so that importers are exonerated from taxation.

The sources of renewable energy include sunshine, wind, animal waste and others, according to Kayigamba. Rwanda does not possess enough land for planting trees. Environmental conservation is everyone's duty. Fifty years from todate, water will be costing as much as petrol because of the current environmental degradation worldwide. Protect wet lands and maintain the water table intact thus deterring future water scarcity.

Global warming will adversely affect developing countries most since they don't have resources to counter the consequences that will have resulted from global warming.    rw doclink

U.A.E.: Abu Dhabi: Funding Fuel Alternatives.
January 28, 2008   Daily Camera

Demand for energy both in Abu Dhabi and abroad is growing. Electricity demand in the UAE is growing 10% per year. Abu Dhabi, has the world's third-highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita, and is keen to improve its environment while providing energy for the emirate's growth.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi announced that the government would dedicate $15 billion to a spread of 'green' energy endeavours, including the world's largest hydrogen power plant.

The proposed 500 MW plant will be a joint venture between Masdar, and British Petroleum (BP) and Rio Tinto. based in the UK and Australia. Masdar will hold a 60% stake in the development and BP and Rio Tinto will hold shares of 20%.

Funds will also be allocated for the development of Masdar City, the world's first zero-carbon, zero-waste city. Powered by sources of renewable energy, the 6 sq km city aims to house 50,000 residents and over 1000 businesses focused on sustainability and alternative energy. The city is scheduled to be completed in 2013, with construction to begin next month. It is being designed with input from the World Wildlife Fund.

Abu Dhabi's Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) is working in partnership with Masdar to create alternative energy solutions to power new developments on Sir Bani Yas, an island that is home to the largest wind turbine in the Middle East. The 65 metre high turbine, manufactured by Vestas Denmark, has a capacity of 850 KW per hour, and helps to power facilities on the island in conjunction with the national electrical grid.

Sir Bani Yas is at the centre of a new eight-island 'eco-resort' and the developers plan to utilise solar and wind solutions.

The government hopes to position the Masdar initiative as a key component of its economic growth. According to a group statement, Masdar aims to create a new economic sector in Abu Dhabi, turning it into an exporter of technology.

Investments in the alternative energy business reached $70.9 billion in 2006. The profitability of Abu Dhabi's environmental programmes have been questioned by those who point out that the technology needed for sustainable development may not be commercially feasible.    rw doclink

Aid for Ethiopian Dam Challenged.
January 26, 2008   InterPress Service

Financial support has been requested from the EU for a dam with a cost of 1.7 billion dollars. The Gilgel Gibe 3 dam is the single largest work in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian President predicted that the hydroelectricity scheme will reduce poverty.

Yet his assessment is disputed as the dam it is said will have adverse consequences for the ecology of the Gibe-Obo river system. Although 400 nomadic pastoralists are likely to lose access to grazing lands, locals have not been consulted about its effects.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) confirms that it has received a request to loan money to the dam.

A senior bank official said that "in order to qualify for funding, the EIB's appraisal procedure would need to demonstrate that the project meets requirements on environmental and social standards. An Italian construction firm was awarded a contract for the project without any competition.

Because the contract had been granted in this way, the bank would "only be able to finance things that might be subcontracted" to other companies.

We will look at what positive effects it will have to make a balanced decision.

Campaigners have declined to accept this reassurance.

Friends of the Earth pointed out that the EIB had financed phases of the dam's construction between 1998 and 2005, even though similar problems had been observed in the awarding of contracts.

Although the bank raises capital from international markets, its mandate requires that it adheres to the Union's policies. A treaty signed in 2000 says that any work it supports in Africa helps reduce poverty.

The dam is considered pivotal to an Ethiopian plan to generate 4,000 megawatts of electricity. Almost half is to come from the project.

But whether the domestic population will benefit is fiercely contested, given that much of its power could be exported to Kenya.

Just 6% of Ethiopia's 73 million inhabitants are connected to the electricity grid. It would be preferable to invest in improving domestic capacity than to export energy.

As alternatives to Gilgel Gibe 3, campaigners are advocating a major effort to increase the supply of cooking fuels to rural communities.

Ethiopia has been identified as having vast potential for the generation of geothermal energy particularly in the Rift Valley.

After sustained campaigning by a wide variety of organisations, the World Bank has begun insisting that correct procedures are followed before it releases money.

The World Bank's offices in Addis Ababa have said they can't support this project.

In a report on Ethiopia the IMF stated that the granting of commercial loans to public enterprises has a sizeable effect on debt sustainability.

The World Bank and IMF consider the external debt of a country as sustainable when it is around 150% of its yearly export revenues.

Ethiopia has an external debt of 6 billion dollars, equivalent to one-fifth of national income.

Some 40% of Ethiopians live below the poverty line.

Loans have to be paid back. If they don't look through all the pros and cons of a project before giving a loan, at the end of the day it is the country's people that will have to pay the price.    rw doclink

Shadings to Greener Buildings.
January 17, 2008   Christian Science Monitor

In 2000, a consortium of corporations, builders, architects, government agencies, and nonprofits created a system called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to measure just how "green" a building would be. A building can win a "certified," "silver," "gold," or "platinum" rating.

More than 1,000 projects have already earned some level of certification. They include libraries, schools, and corporate headquarters. The city of Greensburg, Kan., flattened by a tornado last May, has pledged to rebuild its public buildings to LEED platinum standards. The Washington headquarters of the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the nonprofit that created LEED, earned a platinum rating by using environmentally friendly materials for their floors. It also contains reclaimed timbers and is illuminated by efficient lighting.

A new Bank of America branch in Adelanto, Calif., features rooftop solar panels that provide 60% of electricity needs and 20% of its construction materials are recycled. The building uses 40% less water than a traditional bank building. Architects can be tempted by focusing on LEED to build simply for certification. A trial LEED program also acknowledges that broader community planning is part of any truly green lifestyle. Buildings close to public transit and services, cut vehicle use. Dense developments are often the most ecofriendly: New York City boasts 2.7% of the US population but generates only 1% of US greenhouse gases.

Benefits in LEED certification save money on energy costs over the long run, and also win the goodwill of customers and potential employees. LEED isn't perfect. But it can lead in the right direction.    rw doclink

Taking to the Water.
January 16, 2008   Hub 4

Nowhere in Britain is further than 75 miles from the sea. A 1000 tonne ship uses a fraction of the fuel in comparison to road transport. The best transport brains in the country warned governments for decades that their policies were unsustainable. The road vehicle population has reached 33 million, while congestion and fuel prices are higher.

Congestion has negative implications in terms of reliability, operational efficiency, increasing cost burdens. However, changes in transport logistics are being driven by rising fuel prices, and the requirement to demonstrate corporate and social responsibility in how they move things around the country.

A northwest shipping company has been pioneering the use of inland waterborne freight transport for almost a decade. In 1998 the company began a long term contract to transport grain from Liverpool via the Manchester Ship Canal to Trafford Park. Each year the mill receives over 100,000 tonnes of grain. Without foresight and initiative this would have been transported by road. Building upon this experience it is now also transporting Welsh slate from north Wales to the port of Garston and Trafford Park. The move to a greener environmental agenda is backed by money and action. This has spilled over towards the use of waterborne freight transport.

The River Severn water transport is being used again for the first time in over ten years to move freight. Barges transport over 200,000 tonnes a year of aggregates. In the future a number of large scale developments, all capable of a water door-to-door delivery, are due to be built.

Planning permission has been granted for a 90 million deep-sea container berth development for the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board that will provide a major gateway for container trade with North America.

Waterborne freight transport is becoming more competitive, with the added bonus of being sustainable and environmentally friendly.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: here in the U.S. we under utilize the railway system in favor of gas-guzzling road vehicles.
New Index of 'Green' Firms Helps Investors Tap Energy.
January 13, 2008   MarketWatch

Many eco-capitalists have been betting that climate change will produce new opportunities. This realization can be seen in Europe and now in the U.S.
Some of the world's business leaders are demanding that diplomats come up with urgent measures to cut greenhouse gas pollution at least in half by 2050. Officials from 150 global companies have signed a petition urging "strong, early action on climate change". The petition drive, coordinated through the environmental office of Britain's Prince Charles, is signed by leaders from mainstream companies who see revenue in the coming Age of Sustainability.

Asia is poised to make great economic gains from sustainability. Asia's manufacturing agility and lower production costs make it easier to satisfy the demand for earth-friendly products. Asia's people are feeling the effects of pollution, climate change and high oil prices, and are more likely to counter these effects because it is in their own best interests. Petroleum and clean water are in short supply in most Asian countries and they are looking for renewable alternatives and conservation measures.

Conservation is part of the social fabric of most Asian countries because dense populations and limited resources force its people to do more with less. The vast majority of Asians are poor and live modestly. Improvements are measured in terms of improved life expectancy and access to basic needs, rather than the availability of luxuries.

Buddhist, Taoist and Shinto traditions have defined a symbiotic relationship between man and his environment. These traditions can be leveraged in arguments for costly environmental and CSR programs.

China and some Southeast Asian nations are already hosting companies that make home furnishings from renewable materials, like bamboo, and use recycled steel and water-based glues. China has adopted the EU's rules on formaldehyde-free adhesives. There is a wave of sustainable town planning in China and India. The continent is poised to host a new generation of green cities that right the wrongs of industrial-era urban planning.

A petroleum shortage is threatening Asia's economic miracle. The alternatives are hydro, nuclear, solar and wind. They require advanced manufacturing in high numbers and at low cost. Throughout Asia, solar manufacturers are stepping up production. Solar makers will be producing "1,000 megawatts a year per factory, which is about how much electricity gets produced by a coal or nuclear plant." Nearly 90% of solar panel manufacturers in Greater China plan to lower or keep prices stable.

Chinese developers unveiled the world's first full-permanent magnetic levitation which when compared with existing wind turbines, will add an additional 1,000 hours of operation annually to wind power plants. Asia is well positioned to be a major player in the creation of earth-friendly products and technologies.    rw doclink

U.K.: Sustainable Growth is the Key to Our Future.
January 03, 2008   ic Wales

No discussion of sustainable consumption can ignore the concept of "peak oil". As oil becomes scarcer, so its price rises. The social effects of using up our oil resources might have even a greater impact.

What's not contestable is that we are using our remaining oil at an incredibly fast rate. As our planet's population is forecast to double between 1980 and 2030, the reliance of more and more people on an ever-shrinking resource might well prove calamitous.

Thus profound changes must be made in how we see our own futures.

For instance, we should learn how to grow and cook our own food. Such basic skills are rare today, but will help us survive in a world where the social and environmental impacts of climate change and resource depletion are still unimaginable for most people.

However sophisticated we think we are, all of our activities are dependent on three inches of topsoil!

The possibility of "sustainable consumption" in a world whose population is increasing so quickly, is hotly disputed. China is increasingly blamed for its levels of pollution. But it is demand from countries like the UK which leads to smoke from Chinese factories.

Outsourcing to China creates more greenhouse gas emissions for each product made.

Across Wales, areas of derelict land can be utilised for new community green spaces and for growing vegetables. But local growers will only prosper if they are encouraged and not ignored or squeezed out by the power of the supermarkets.

Traditionally in Wales our industry has created milk or wool or coal or slate, but rarely "products" made from that produce. We have left it to others to exploit our wealth.

Thus the new concept involves the population of a distinctive town, such as Lampeter, encouraging individuals to produce local foodstuffs, urging consumers to purchase those foods, whilst appealing to supermarkets in the area to stock these local goods.

If everyone in the world lived like the Welsh we'd need the resources of three planets to meet our needs.

Transport accounts for about a quarter of carbon emissions cars alone contribute 13% of our CO2. We're raising a generation of children who think it's normal to jump in the back of a car for a short trip to the newsagents. By 2050 over half of all children will be clinically overweight, making them more prone to life-curtailing illnesses.

We need to become more active and to do this Wales needs a truly integrated transport system so people can choose to make their everyday journeys in healthy and environmentally-friendly ways.

Over 60% of the journeys we make are less than five miles, yet even on these short journeys the car is still the preferred way to travel.

Sustrans has been working on projects to help people choose to travel by bike, on foot or by public transport for more than 30 years.

It is the local, everyday journeys, which Sustrans believe offer the most effective strategy to tackle environmental, economic and social issues.

Wales now boasts more than 1,200 miles of National Cycle Network routes, criss-crossing the country north to south and east to west, and last year nearly 31 million trips were made on these routes.

Long-distance routes provide much-needed tourism opportunities as people flock to experience the rugged Welsh mountains and coastline by bike or on foot.

Local links which connect schools, hospitals, shops, leisure facilities and green spaces offer people an alternative to taking the car. In Swansea, a section of Route 4 along the coast has seen a 28% annual increase in cycling and walking trips.

Connect2 aims to tackle a legacy of not prioritising pedestrians and cyclists, making it difficult for people to travel under their own steam, even short distances, as there is no easy route to take them directly where they want to go.

Each scheme will overcome some kind of barrier which has been stopping people from walking or cycling to where they want to go these may be rivers, railways, roads or tunnels.

DIY Streets takes neighbourhood regeneration back to its roots and looks for affordable, simple and community-led solutions to overcome issues such as speeding cars and small motorbikes. DIY Streets prioritises people, not vehicles, where all users share the street on equal terms, and cars travel at no more then a walking pace.

Developing useful and attractive routes and helping communities reclaim their streets for walkers and cyclists is only half the battle in terms of encouraging people to change their travel behaviour.

We know what works. We know what we need to do to drive down emissions and reduce obesity.

Now comes the hard part we've got to do it.    rw doclink

Ralph says: When gas gets to $10 a gallon we will have to follow the ideas promoted here. Karen Gaia says: We must start putting these ideas into practice now if we want a smooth transition. However, if we don't provide an easy means for women to prevent unwanted pregnancies, population growth will tend to wipe out gains made by conservation.
Increased Corn Production is Damaging Gulf of Mexico, Scientists Say.
2008   The Albuquerque Tribune

American farmers are growing more corn and sea life in the Gulf of Mexico is paying the price.

The corn crop is fertilized with nitrogen-based fertilizer. And when that nitrogen runs off fields in Corn Belt states, it makes its way to the Mississippi River and eventually pours into the Gulf, where it contributes to a growing 7,900-square-mile patch so depleted of oxygen that fish, crabs and shrimp suffocate.

The dead zone was discovered in 1985 and has grown steadily since then. With demand for corn booming, some researchers fear the dead zone will expand rapidly and the ecosystem might change or collapse.

Environmentalists had hoped to cut nitrogen runoff by encouraging farmers to apply less fertilizer and establish buffers along waterways. But the demand for ethanol has driven up the price for corn. American farmers, mostly in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota planted more than 93 million acres of corn in 2007, the most since 1933.

Corn absorbs less nitrogen per acre. The prime reasons are the drainage systems used in corn fields and the timing of when the fertilizer is applied.

The EPA estimates that 210 million pounds of nitrogen fertilizer enter the Gulf of Mexico each year.

Farmers realize the connection between their crop and problems but with the price of corn soaring, it doesn't make sense to grow anything else. And growing corn isn't profitable without nitrogen-based fertilizer.

The dead zone begins in the spring and persists into the summer. Its size and location vary each year.

It was larger in 2002 and 2001, when it covered 8,500 and 8,006 square miles respectively.

Soil erosion, sewage and industrial pollution contribute to the dead zone, but fertilizer is the chief factor.

Fertilizer causes growth of algae, which dies and sucks up oxygen as it decays. This creates a deep layer of oxygen-depleted ocean.

Bottom-dwelling species are most at risk, they can't swim away.

Crabbers complained in early 2007 that they pulled up bucket upon bucket of dead crabs. People's livelihood depends on the shrimp, fish and crabs in these waters. The nation needs a comprehensive, federal approach to the problem.

Among the ideas: rules to force farmers to use fertilizers with more care, and the establishment of buffer zones to contain runoff.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: More people means more demand for corn for food and fuel, which means more poisoning of our own environment.
Ten Ways to Prepare for a Post-Oil Society.
2008   The Canadian

Here are suggestions for preparing for a post-oil society.:

1. Expand your view beyond how we will run all the cars by means other than gasoline. Trying to salvage the motoring system by shifting from gasoline to other fuels will only make things much worse.

2. We have to produce food differently. As oil and gas deplete, farming will soon return to the center of American economic life. It will be done locally, at a smaller scale, and will require more human labour. Making products like cheese, wine, oils - will also have to be done much more locally.

3. We'll have to return to villages, towns, and cities with a productive rural landscape. Our cities will have to contract. Buildings in the decades ahead will have to be made of regional materials found in nature. This will entail demographic shifts and is liable to be turbulent. It will require the retrieval of skills that have been forsaken.

4. We have to move things and people differently. Electrify railroads so they will run on things other than fossil fuel. Move people and things much more by water. We have to put the piers and warehouses back in place. Programs are underway to restore maritime shipping based on wind.

5. We have to transform retail trade. The 12,000-mile supply lines are endangered as the US and China contest for Middle East and African oil.

6. We will have to make things again in America. We will have fewer things to buy, fewer choices of things. But we will still need household goods and things to wear. The truth is, we don't know yet how we're going to make anything. This is something that the younger generations can put their minds and muscles into.

7. We're going to have to make our own music and our own drama down the road. We're going to need playhouses and live performance halls.

8. We'll have to reorganize the education system. The school systems based on the yellow school bus fleets will not survive. The next incarnation of education may grow out of the home schooling movement.

9. We have to reorganize the medical system. We will probably have to return to a service closer to what used to be called "doctoring."

10. Life in the USA will have to become much more local, and virtually all the activities of everyday life will have to be re-scaled.    rw doclink

Amory Lovins: Expanding Nuclear Power Makes Climate Change Worse.
2008   Democracy Now

The question is: where are we going to get electricity? There's one issue all presidential hopefuls agree on: expanding the use of nuclear power. But there is a transition period during the hydrocarbon era, and it hasn't ended yet. The Energy Department has admitted that it would cost taxpayers $90 billion to open and operate the nation's first nuclear waste dump. Amory Lovins, co-founder, chair and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, feels that nuclear power is not an option, given the oil crisis.

He says that electricity and oil have nothing to do with each other, less than 2% of our electricity is made from oil and less than 2% of our oil makes electricity. Nuclear energy would displace coal, and this sounds good for climate, but actually, expanding nuclear makes climate change worse. Nuclear is incredibly expensive. The Wall Street Journal reported that they're two to four times the cost that the industry was talking about a year ago. If you buy more nuclear plants, you're going to get 2 to 10 times less climate solution per dollar, than if you buy instead the cheaper, faster stuff that is walloping nuclear and coal and gas, and those competitors are efficient use of electricity and what's called micropower, and making electricity and heat together, which takes about half of the money, fuel and carbon of making them separately.

It's grossly uneconomic, a very carefully fabricated illusion. And the reason is there are no buyers. Wall Street is not putting a penny of private capital into the industry. It costs, for example, about three times as much as wind power.

In 2006, nuclear worldwide added a little bit of capacity, from upgrading old plants, 1.4 billion watts. That was less than photovoltaics, solar cells added in capacity. It was a tenth of wind power and a thirtieth to a fortieth of micropower.

A sixth of the world's electricity is now micropower. In 2007, the US or Spain or China added more wind capacity than the world added nuclear capacity. Renewables got $71 billion of private capital last year; nuclear, zero.

Most of a nuclear plant in the US, if there were any, would have to be imported.

Mistaken is the view that because nuclear doesn't emit carbon, it must be a good thing. You need a source that is faster and cheaper than other ways to do the same thing. Renewables don't emit carbon. Efficiency doesn't emit carbon. Cogeneration based on recovered waste heat you were throwing away doesn't emit carbon, because you already paid for the carbon in making the useful part of the heat in industry. And these sources are a great deal cheaper and faster than nuclear.

Over fifty times as much oil as might be under the Arctic Refuge can be saved at very low prices by using the oil efficiently. People who run exploration in major oil companies, are not excited about the Arctic Refuge, because practically any other place would be cheaper and less risky. There's only one way to get the oil south, through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which is the most vulnerable part of our energy infrastructure. It's been sabotaged, almost blew itself up on occasion through mismanagement and incompetently bombed twice.

Have we solved the nuclear waste problem even?    rw doclink

Sustainability: What Have We Really Accomplished?.
November 06, 2007   Berkeley Daily Planet

In 1992, the Earth First conference addressed sustainability in relation to the earth's diversity of species. Among other topics, it addressed polices of the rich countries that drove poor people to adopt “slash and burn” practices detrimental to the environment. Since 1992, the international community has moved towards the awareness and acceptance that rich countries, with about 20% of global population, consume roughly 80% of the earth's resources.

One of the proposed solutions to the finite-supply-of-oil problem is the search for renewable forms of energy. Solar, geothermal and wind, but the big oil companies are pushing the idea that genetically-engineered crops can provide bio-fuels to replace oil. Who will gain and who will lose? These are important public policy questions.

There is evidence that ethanol production from genetically modified corn has negative environmental effects and small farmers from the midwestern states are opposed to this. Palm oil bio-fuel plantations have displaced people in Southeast Asia. War-for-oil policies have wreaked disaster in Iraq and threaten the Middle East and further devastation of agricultural lands.

If we accept the UN principles of sustainability, "reduce, re-use, recycle" then the oil renewable agenda must be challenged. Big oil interests are not driven by reduction of consumption, one of the chief principles of sustainability. These are serious questions that need to be discussed in open public forums all across the planet. We cannot continue to expect refugee relief and immigration policies to fix hunger and starvation of millions of people.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, we must adopt sensible sustainability practices in terms of peoples' needs. Priority for land use policies, in light of the need for job creation, should be a preference for the industries that is good for the environment. These include re-use and recycle, as well as wind and solar-based renewable energy, industries that upgrade our buildings and make them more energy efficient. This emerging “truly green” sector needs to be nurtured.

Sustainability means development for attention to those communities most in need of financial capital for revitalization, alleviation of poverty and reduction of crime. Such monies come with terms and conditions that are not in the best interest of the poor and disadvantaged. Governments have to embrace what is meant by sustainability in every corner of the planet. This will require bold leadership and vision to forge new paths where none has gone before.    rw doclink

US Colorado;: City Adopts Climate Action Plan.
October 24, 2007   Business Journal

Denver Mayor adopted the city council's Climate Action Plan for making the metro area more sustainable and formally establishes the city's sustainability policy.

The Plan will guide Denver's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while creating jobs and improving public health. The council has studied markets across the country to come up with the best ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Denver. The mayor revealed that the city's municipal office building has received a LEED Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The Climate Action Plan offers 10 recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas.

* Develop business and residential campaigns to conserve energy, buy renewable energy and support public transportation.
* With voter approval, conserve energy by applying a tiered rate structure to the use of electrical and natural gas. Small fee attached to airline ticket purchases and motor vehicle registrations to offset travel-related carbon emissions.
* Make city buildings, including and vehicles more energy-efficient.
* Expand recycling initiatives.
* Adopt mandatory energy-efficient building codes.
* Improve energy efficiency in older housing.
* Require use of "green" concrete.
* Promote use of vehicles that use alternative fuels.    rw doclink

Ethanol Could Harm Water Quality, Says NRC.
October 13, 2007   Earth & Sky

A report from the National Research Council says that the harm to water quality from ethaenol production could be considerable, and water supply problems at the regional and local levels could also arise. Corn ethanol production has expanded, and there is high interest in further expansion over the next decade.

The committee found that the quality of groundwater, rivers, and coastal and offshore waters could be impacted by increased fertilizer and pesticide use for biofuels. Agricultural shifts could increase pressure on water resources. Water demands could compete with, and constrain the use of water for biofuel crops in some regions. Growing biofuel crops requiring additional irrigation in areas with limited water supplies is a major concern.

As for non-corn ethanol there are “fundamental knowledge gaps” that prevent making reliable assessments about the impact on water resources.    rw doclink

Nigeria's Electricity Dilemma.
August 22, 2007   Africa News Service

Much has been said about the degenerated energy supply in Nigeria. Past governments implemented programmes based on their understanding of the role of energy as an input for the socio-economic empowerment of the citizens.

The devastating economic and environmental impact of power black-outs underlines a need for implementation of the long-term proper maintenance of transmission and distribution networks. The country is plagued with energy crisis from declining electricity generation from the national power hegemony called the Power Holdings Company of Nigeria Plc (PHCN). From inception, Nigeria's electricity policy has been urban-centric. Rural areas are relegated to the background and excluded in our electrification policy. Nigeria has 3,960MW capacity. Egypt with a population of 77.5 million uses electricity 4 times more than over 140 million Nigeria's population.

Out of 1,500,000MW capacity shared amongst the developing countries, Nigeria, with the largest population in Africa, coupled with its enormous natural resources, does not have even up to 5,000MW capacity.

It is essential that the Government takes a long-term view to energy production. Government needs to remember that it is the citizens who bear the costs associated with fossil fuel use. What is required is an energy reform that embraces diversification policy aimed at boosting the deployment of RE to supplement energy supply from the conventional resources.

There should also be support for the development of micro-hydro power plants, wind power, autonomous and hybrid solar systems in the rural areas to empower the rural dwellers economically. In Nigeria, our government appears unwilling to have a balanced energy reform.

In the USA, RE forms 11.5% of its total electricity generation capacity. RE accounts for 32% of India's total electricity supply. These are the only clear solutions to Nigeria's electricity dilemma.    rw doclink

Biofuels and the Future.
August 13, 2007   On Line Opinion

We need to stop lumping all biofuels together. There are some that are good, and some that are not.

Produced responsibly they are a sustainable energy source that need not take land needed for food production. They can can create jobs for poor people but produced irresponsibly, they offer no climate benefit and have detrimental social and environmental consequences.

Present day biofuels largely come from food crops and do not offer a long-term solution. But the next generation of biofuels will.

Biofuels can be used either for heat and/or to generate electricity; or they can be used to make liquid fuels for vehicles.

Directly or indirectly they come from plants that capture the energy of the sun by photosynthesis and the carbon dioxide that is released when they are burned and was extracted from the atmosphere as they grew. They are carbon neutral.

But emissions arise from their production, and the first test is whether a biofuels contain more energy than was used to produce it. Unfortunately, not all fuels pass this test and thus offer little or no climate benefit.

Future biofuels can be produced either from specially grown crops or from the by-products of other human activities. The latter involves using the organic component of what we have traditionally thrown away as waste. Some of these materials have other uses and there has to be a local decision on how best to use the resource.

The organic content of US urban garbage contains enough energy to meet more than half the fuel needs of all the cars in the country and emphasises the size of the energy resource that we discard. All of these materials can be treated to produce clean, synthetic vehicle fuels. The same is true of breeding special crops in the sense that they can grow on marginal land where food crops would struggle.

One argument against biofuels is that there is not enough agricultural land available for them to make a real difference and even their most ardent advocates don't pretend that biofuels are a complete answer to the world's energy problems. It is possible that biofuels may be superseded for heat and power by other renewables and possibly by nuclear fusion. The biofuels industry is young and its product is not price competitive, and governments are providing fiscal and regulatory support. In the longer term, biofuels must become the fuel of choice not only in sustainability terms, but on cost as well.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: I use my organic waste for compost. For agriculture that doesn't use fertilizer (which is a non-renewable resource), this is a necessity. Let's not count on biofuels or renewables either, and move closer to where we work, shop, learn, play and pray.
Canada;: Green Cars to Get Green Licenses.
August 08, 2007   Toronto Star

Next year, Ontarians who buy environmentally friendly, low-emission cars and trucks would get a green license plate that entitles them to perks of free parking and access to high-capacity commuter lanes.

The government will consult with vehicle manufacturers and environmental groups to design a rating system. The plan includes a $15 million pilot project to help businesses convert to more environmentally friendly technologies. The province plans to install two ethanol-fueling stations in London and Peterborough.    rw doclink

LS9 Promises Renewable Petroleum; New Company Says it Can Make Better, Cheaper Biofuels.
July 30, 2007   Grist Magazine

A fuel that is derived from switchgrass, sugar cane, corn stover, etc., contains 50% more energy and is made via a process that uses 65% less energy. It can be distributed via existing oil pipelines, dispensed through existing gas stations, and used in existing engines. It is a biofuel that can be substituted for gas or diesel. An outfit called LS9LS9 says it can create such a fuel, at a cost competitive with gasoline, without government subsidies.
LS9's products will fit into existing infrastructure and deliver significant value to consumers compared with other biofuel alternatives. LS9 plans to have products available at commercial scale within 3-5 years.

The process is the same as making ethanol but with different microbes doing the fermenting. With ethanol, it's some form of yeast. The researchers at LS9 have engineered their own microbes and can precisely tweak the characteristics of the resulting fuel. This allows LS9 to skip the distillation process, which saves energy.    rw doclink

Power Cut Fears after Japan Quake.
July 19, 2007   Los Angeles Times

There are fears of power shortages in Tokyo, as the earthquake damage to the country's biggest nuclear power station becomes clear.

The government wants the Kashiwazaki plant to stay closed for more than a year for safety checks.

Kashiwazaki contributes about 12% of the Tokyo Electric Power Company's supplies to the capital.

Monday's quake caused more than 50 malfunctions at its Niigata plant.

Tepco is considering restarting six mothballed thermal power plants to meet demand and asked six other Japanese power companies to sell it emergency electricity. The safety checks alone are expected to take until the end of August.

But the Nikkei newspaper reported that the government could order the plant to be closed for as long as a year.

Tepco admitted that 50% more radiation was discharged into the sea than had initially been reported, although this remains well below danger levels.

The reported number of barrels containing low-level nuclear waste that tipped over at the plant was increased from 100 to 400, with the lids knocked off 40 of them. A fault line could stretch directly under the plant.

Most nuclear power stations in Japan are built to similar specifications and there are fears that they too could be damaged if they were hit by an earthquake of similar intensity.

A minister has asked power companies to check whether all their nuclear facilities can withstand strong tremors, but that could take three years. Temporary closure of a factory making transmission and engine parts will force top manufacturers such as Toyota and Nissan to scale back production.

Toyota will stop production lines and review the situation.    rw doclink

Brazil Gives Amazon Dams Go-ahead.
July 11, 2007   BBC News

Brazil has approved the construction of two hydro-electric dams on the longest tributary of the Amazon.

The Madeira River projects have been one of the most environmentally sensitive issues.

The river is said to have one of the most diverse fish stocks in the world and environmentalists fear they could be threatened. Brazil's environmental agency Ibama took two years to reach this initial conclusion and has attached 33 conditions to the project.

The project still needs final approval.
The intense debate summed up the challenge to reconcile the ambitions of a developing country alongside the need to protect the environment.

Brazil suffered extensive power cuts in 2001 and President da Silva was determined this would not be repeated.

The government believes the two dams could supply 8% to 10% of the national demand for electricity.

Critics fear it will damage the Amazon area by disturbing the flow of sediments in the Madeira River, as well as bringing thousands of workers and their families to an area where resources are already overstretched.

There are also worries that it would stir up mercury levels in the river. Thousands of families depend on the river for their income. The government says the environmental consequences will be minimised by the conditions attached to the proposed dams.    rw doclink

World Bank Signs First Landfill Gas Project in China.
July 06, 2007  

The World Bank signed its first agreement in China to reduce greenhouse gases from a landfill. Methane and other gases will be collected from a landfill in Tianjin that holds more than 1.6 million tons of household waste. The project developer will install systems for landfill gas collection, electricity generation and gas-flaring.

TCEE will sell 635,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent reductions to the Spanish Carbon Fund.

The project will recover gas from the Shuangkou landfill site and use it to generate electricity. The potential for China to develop such landfill gas projects is enormous. The gas project is expected to start by early 2008. The gas will be collected from a series of wells where waste has been deposited. The gas will be transported to a central facility where it will be burned to produce electricity for sale to the North China Power Grid.

China's related departments have carried out some cooperative programs with the World Bank in environmental protection. The report has not drawn conclusion yet and has not been released.    rw doclink

Landfill Sites Hide Electricity Potential; Houston Firm Planning to Harness the Methane From Dumps in Canada.
June 27, 2007   The Toronto Star

Landfill sites in Ontario and Quebec are to be used to convert methane gas into electricity. The sites will be part of a five-year conversion project. The company plans to spend $400 million (U.S.) on 60 landfills, which would include the Canadian operations.

Landfills are the largest source of methane emissions in the US, accounting for 34% of such releases, according to the EPA. Methane is the second-biggest man-made contributor to global warming and is created by the decomposition of matter such as trash and cow manure.

The Sainte-Sophie site in Quebec is already converting methane to electricity and supplies 75% of a local paper mill's energy needs.

The company operates 281 landfills in North America, and 100 have some form of methane-to-energy capabilities.

The Sainte-Sophie site in Quebec reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 490,000 tonnes a year, the equivalent of removing about 120,000 cars from the roads.

The company sells the power to retail power providers, municipal utilities and other users.

That income, coupled with federal tax credits, makes the ventures lucrative.    rw doclink

Renewable Energy Investment Tops US$100 Billion, UN Says.
June 20, 2007   Planet Ark

Investment in renewable energies leapt to US$100 billion in 2006 and worries about global warming are likely to sustain the boom. Clean energies seemed robust enough to survive any fall in high oil prices. Renewable energies are becoming generating systems of choice. Investment capital flowing into renewable energy technologies rose 25% in 2006 to US$100 billion from US$80 billion in 2005. The report showed industries in rich countries were no longer dominant in renewable energies. Almost 10% of the 2006 investments were in China. India was the biggest net buyer of companies abroad in 2006, led by takeovers by Indian wind turbine maker Suzlon.

Worries about climate change, high oil prices, efforts to break dependence on energy imports and government incentives to shift away from fossil fuels had spurred investment.

The wind sector won most investment with 38% of the total, ahead of biofuels on 26% and solar power on 16%.

Renewable energies are a key to fighting global warming. US$71 billion included public offerings and spending on research and development of sustainable energy while mergers and acquisitions added almost US$30 billion.

Gains by renewable energy stocks had outpaced rises in world stock markets. Unlike dot-com firms, the renewables were based on existing technology, and many companies were generating strong revenues and had regulatory support.

Renewable energies accounted for 18% of investment in world power generation, or US$21.5 billion, compared with 2% of installed capacity.

The International Energy Agency, which advises rich countries, seemed conservative in forecasting that renewables would account for just 9% of power generation by 2030. UNEP scenarios ranged up to 23%.    rw doclink

World Oil Supplies Are Set to Run Out Faster Than Expected.
June 14, 2007   The Independent (UK)

Scientists say that global production of oil is set to peak in the next four years before entering a steepening decline. Consumption of oil will outstrip our discovery of new reserves. The peak of regular oil has already gone in 2005. When you factor in the difficult to extract heavy oil, deep sea reserves, polar regions and liquid taken from gas, the peak will come in 2011.

This scenario is denied by BP who says that when peak oil comes, it is as likely to come from consumption peaking, as from production peaking.

If consumption begins to exceed production by even the smallest amount, the price of oil could soar above $100 a barrel and global recession would follow.

A geologist-turned conservationist compares industry and government reluctance to face up to the impending end of oil, to climate change denial.

We are wondering what it would take to get people to listen.

In 1999, Britain's oil reserves peaked, but for two years after this it was heresy for anyone in official circles to say so. Depletion of oil fields follows a predictable bell curve that has not changed since Hubbert made a mathematical model in 1956. The Hubbert Curve shows that at the beginning production from any oil field rises sharply, then reaches a plateau before falling into a terminal decline. His prediction that US production would peak in 1969 was ridiculed by those who claimed it could increase indefinitely. It peaked in 1970 and has been in decline ever since.

The rapid growth of China and India means that a lot more oil will have to come from somewhere. World demand has grown faster in the past five years than in the second half of the 1990s. Today we consume an average of 85 million barrels daily and that figure will rise to 113 million barrels by 2030.

A survey of the four countries with the biggest reported reserves - Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait - reveals major concerns. In Kuwait documents suggest the country's real reserves were half of what was reported. Iran became the first major oil producer to introduce oil rationing.

A report on Saudi Arabia's oil reserves is sobering. The problem is going from 79 million barrels a day in 2002 to 84.5 million in 2004. It can't be done indefinitely.

The Importance of Black Gold (Coal) ...

A reduction of as little as 10% to 15% could cripple oil-dependent industrial economies.

There are still 909 billion tonnes of coal worldwide, enough to last at least 155 years. But coal is a a dirty energy source.

The natural gas fields should last 20 years longer than the world's oil reserves and is expensive to extract and transport.

Hydrogen fuel cells would provide us with an energy source but there isn't enough hydrogen to go round and the few clean ways of producing it are expensive.

Ethanol production has a negative effect on energy investment and the environment.

Oil-dependent nations are turning to renewable energy sources but the likelihood of renewable sources providing enough energy is slim.

An increase in the number of reactors across the globe would increase the chance of a disaster and the risk of dangerous substances getting into the hands of terrorists.    rw doclink

Columbia;: Biofuel Gangs Kill for Green Profits.
June 05, 2007   Sunday Times

The quest for alternative sources of energy has attracted support from America. Yet the trend has had disastrous consequences for tens of thousands of peasants in rural Colombia. A surge in demand as unleashed a land grab by gangster entrepreneurs hoping to cash in on the world's thirst for bioproducts.

Vast areas of Colombia's tropical forest are being cleared. Charities with local peasants claim that paramilitary forces in league with biofuel conglomerates are forcing families off their land with death threats and bogus purchase offers.

The paramilitaries visit a community and tell landowners, "If you don't sell to us, we will negotiate with your widow."

There are stories of paramilitaries cutting off the arms of illiterate peasants and applying their fingerprints to land sale documents. In many cases, the land is collectively owned and protected by federal laws that courts seem unable or unwilling to enforce.

Washington has been struggling to persuade Colombian farmers to turn their backs on coca leaf production. Bush is advocating a global increase in biofuel production.

The president of Colombia has urged palm producers to more than double the land within four years. Uribe's critics complain that he has given a green light to paramilitaries.

Biofuel consumers should put pressure on Colombia to return stolen land.    rw doclink

California Leads in Energy Efficiency.
June 01, 2007   Tri-Valley Herald

In the past 30 years, Californians have kept their electricity consumption about the same.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked California at the top of a state-by-state report on energy efficiency, sharing first with Vermont and Connecticut.

An energy-efficiency map of the nation looks like a map of the blue states that lean left politically.

After those 10, the energy-efficiency council found, efficiency drops off with little effort to save energy in the 26 bottom-ranked states where energy has been inexpensive. Skeptics on the benefits of energy efficiency say California and other efficient states tend to have higher energy costs. But they also tend to have lower bills and greater economic growth.

It does say that you can have energy efficiency and a strong economy. States were ranked across eight criteria: spending on rate-payer funded efficiency programs, use of tax incentives, efficient appliance and building standards and their willingness to lead by example. California rated highly in almost all categories, though less than perfect for its lack of a tax credit for hybrids and land-use controls to curb sprawl.

You can only push air conditioning and refrigerator efficiencies so far, but we're still far away from that threshold. There always are promising new technologies coming along.

Energy efficiency is an easy case in California. It keeps money in the state that otherwise might be spent on out of state transmission lines and power plants. The state will spend $10 billion on energy efficiency while saving the need for 10 new power plants at roughly $20 billion.

Water is an untapped area of energy savings that, accounts for roughly a tenth of the state's electricity use.

The commission is charting next generation energy savings, by promoting "net-zero energy" buildings that use solar cells and other technologies to pull little or no energy off the grid.

We don't have the luxury of much time.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: I live in California. We are not going to be energy efficient until we reverse our terrible sprawl and start sharing housing (many of us are one to a house). This article also overlooks the big drought coming. You cannot produce electricity and provide flood protection and save water for crops all at the same time. They are mutually exclusive.
No to the Agrofuels Craze!.
June 2007   GRAIN - Seedling

The stampede into agrofuels is causing environmental and social damage. Ecosystems are being destroyed and indigenous communities are being thrown off their land.

Worse lies ahead: the Indian government is committed to planting 14 million hectares of land with jatropha. Brazil has 120 million hectares available for biofuels, and lobbyists in Europe are speaking of almost 400 million hectares being available in 15 African countries. An analysis of what is happening shows that the conclusion is the same across the board: the push for agrofuels amounts to the re-introduction of the old colonial plantation economy. Indigenous farming systems have to give way to provide for the increased fuel needs.

One of the main justifications is the need to combat climate change, but the figures make a mockery of this claim. It is a dangerous self-delusion to argue that agrofuels can play a significant role in combating global warming.

The wide-scale cultivation of agrofuels will make things worse in many parts of the world, notably South-east Asia and the Amazon basin where the drying of peat lands and the felling of tropical forest will release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than will be saved by using agrofuels.

Although it is scarcely ever mentioned, farming is responsible for 14% of greenhouse gas emissions. Chemical fertilisers introduce nitrogen into the soil, and nitrous oxide into the air. Deforestation is responsible for another 18%. We can only halt climate change by challenging the waste of the globalised food system as organised by the transnational corporations.    rw doclink

Lawmakers Push for Big Subsidies for Coal Process.
May 29, 2007   New York Times*

Prodded by lobbying, lawmakers from coal states are proposing billions of dollars in construction loans for coal-to-liquid production plants, guarantee minimum prices for the new fuel, and big government purchases for the next 25 years.

Supporters argue that coal-based fuels are more American than gasoline and potentially greener than ethanol.

Environmental groups are opposed, warning that this would produce almost twice as much greenhouse gases.

Among the proposed inducements are: loan guarantees for 6 to 10 coal-to-liquid plants, a tax credit of 51 cents for every gallon of coal-based fuel sold through 2020; subsidies if oil prices drop below $40 a barrel; and permission for the Air Force to sign 25-year contracts for coal-based jet fuel.

The call to subsidize coal fuels is in juxtaposition to efforts by Democrats to place restrictions on coal-fired electric power plants.

The move reflects a tension between slowing global warming and reducing dependence on foreign oil.

Many analysts say the coal reserves of the US could provide a substitute for foreign oil.

Industry executives contend that the fuels can compete against gasoline if oil prices are about $50 a barrel or higher.

But they produce almost twice the volume of greenhouse gases as ordinary diesel. In addition, the production process creates almost a ton of carbon dioxide for every barrel of liquid fuel.

Coal executives insist their fuel can be cleaner than oil, because they would capture the gas produced and store it underground. Several companies say that they would reduce greenhouse emissions even further by using renewable fuels for part of the process.

The clash between “energy independence” and global warming will break into the open next month.

Coal-state Republicans have vowed to resume their push for coal incentives and many Democrats are likely to support them.

Coal executives contend that the technology for converting coal to “ultraclean” diesel fuel dates to the 1920s. SASOL, a South African chemical conglomerate, is the world's largest producer of coal-based liquids and operates a plant that produces 150,000 barrels a day.

But no company has built a commercial-scale plant that also captures carbon. The Energy Department estimated that making 50,000 barrels of liquefied coal a day would cost $4.5 billion. But such a plant could produce a 20% annual return if oil prices remain about $60 a barrel.

Coal executives say that they need government help because oil prices are volatile and the upfront construction costs are high. But coal executives anticipate potentially huge profits. The value of Peabody's coal reserves would skyrocket almost tenfold, if it sold its coal in the form of liquid fuels.

Financial uncertainty is inhibiting private capital for the construction of coal-to-liquid facilities, said supporters of the energy bill.

The Air Force consumes about 2.6 billion gallons a year of jet fuel, and Air Force officials would like to switch 780 million gallons a year to coal-based fuels.    rw doclink

Palm Oil Puts Squeeze on Asia's Endangered Orangutan.
May 28, 2007   Planet Ark

In Indonesia and Malaysia, forests are being converted into palm-oil plantations, and orangutans who leave their diminishing habitat are often tortured or killed. The UN has predicted that the 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans left in the wild could be extinct within the decade. Indonesia and Malaysia produce 83% of the world's palm oil, which is used in biofuels, toothpaste, soaps, and foods. One glimmer of hope: Uganda's government recently scrapped plans to convert thousands of acres of rainforest into a palm plantation, giving in to intense opposition.    rw doclink

New York's Yellow Cabs to Go Green.
May 23, 2007   BBC News

Michael Bloomberg said 1,000 hybrid taxis would be introduced in NY, and hybrids would gradually replace the rest of the city's 13,000 taxi cabs by 2012.
New York already has 375 hybrid taxis. The new standard will have the equivalent effect of removing 30,000 individually-owned gas-powered vehicles from our streets.

Hybrid vehicles emit less exhaust and have better gas mileage than other vehicles. The plan, will reduce the carbon emissions of New York City's fleet by 50%. Hybrid cars are more expensive, but the plan would save cab drivers more than $10,000 per year in gasoline and other expenses.

This is part of a push to make New York a more environmentally friendly city with a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

New Yorkers are exposed to some of the dirtiest air in the nation and putting more clean cabs on New York City streets is an important step in our fight to improve air quality. The program would have to be expanded to include livery cabs, which provide regulated for-hire car service.

Criticism for the plan came from an organization of handicapped New Yorkers, who said it was ridiculous that New York would continue to put cabs on the streets of New York that are inaccessible to handicapped passengers.    rw doclink

Food Into Fuel a Terrible Idea.
May 14, 2007   Prensa Latina

The Cuban Ambassador to the UN warned against the danger of turning food into biofuels, when more than two billion people are starving in the world.

He pointed out that where more than 50% of the population depends on agriculture, this would create a crisis. Policies to solve the energy crisis must not put food at risk, nor must they worsen the world ecological situation.

Cuba has committed to guarantee environmental sustainability.

Despite many environmental agreements and commitments, inequity, poverty and the loss of natural resources, is getting worse.

The environment continues to deteriorate and recent statements by scientists confirm that the future of our planet is threatened by serious catastrophes, due to the effects of global warming. The world's unequal economic and financial system has become a negative factor that prevents sustainable development policies.

The industrialized nations have promoted the waste of fossil fuels, the ambassador said, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

The main restrains for the Third World countries to achieve their development goals are the lack of financial resources, technological transfer and the creation of capacities.    rw doclink

Wind Power and Population Growth in the USA.
May 09, 2007   paper by Andrew Ferguson

A report claims that wind turbines will contribute 5% of current electricity production over the next 15 years, but that at the present rate the population will have increased by 25%. Negative effects occur locally while benefits are probably regional or national. For instance, Scots regard the industrialization of their landscape with wind turbines as a desecration of much loved mountain scenery. The essential problem in the UK is too many people. A projection says that in the next 15 years, onshore wind capacity would range from 19 to 72 gigawatts, or 2% to 7% of the nation's generating capacity. The actual impact would be smaller, because wind machines run fewer hours than coal or nuclear plants. Wind turbines produce about 30% of their annual capacity, and do so in an erratic fashion. 72 GW of wind capacity would provide a mean power output of about 22 gigawatts. Electrical demand in the USA is around a mean 434 GW; onshore wind capacity estimated at the end of 15 years has a top contribution to make 5% of electricity, in relation to 2005 demand.

By 2025, wind turbines could cut carbon dioxide output by 4.5% compared with what it would otherwise have been, but this would only slow the increase. To install 72 GW of wind capacity would require 24,000 turbines each of 3 MW, plus transmission lines. A proportion of that mooted 2.4% saving would be consumed in energy from installation and maintenance of wind turbines.

Wind turbines still produce less than 1% of the electricity used in the US. The amount of wind energy is limited to probably 20% of the nation's electricity use. 20% is a total for all "uncontrollables" that are introduced into the system unless storage of electricity becomes viable. 72 GW is the top projection for onshore wind capacity over the next 15 years, and is likely to produce 5% of the total electricity that is being produced in 2005. U.S. population is growing at about 1.5% a year. Illegal immigration and resulting births comprise a large percentage of this growth.    rw doclink

U.S.;: 7% of Nation’s Electricity Could Come From Wind Farms.
May 08, 2007   The Tuscaloosa News

Wind farms could generate up to 7% of U.S. electricity in 15 years, but scientists want more study of the threat to birds and bats.

The towers appear most dangerous to night-migrating songbirds, bats and some hunting birds such as hawks and eagles. The risk is not understood enough to draw conclusions.

The farms provide jobs but they can affect property values, and reflections off the rotor blades can be distracting to some people. The blades have diameters ranging from 230 feet to 295 feet and are mounted on towers 197 feet to 295 feet tall. Wind powered turbines generated 11,605 megawatts of electricity in the United States in 2006, less than 1 percent of the national power supply.

Wind farms could generate 2% to 7% of the nation's electricity within 15 years.

The turbines have been welcomed as a boon to the environment. Others worry about the impacts on wildlife habitat and what some see as a blight on the scenery.

Overall, wind-energy development such as reductions in air pollutants benefit wide areas, while the environmental costs, occur locally.

The report “recognizes that properly sited wind power holds great promise as a source of renewable energy that can reduce global warming pollution.

The challenge is to design and locate wind-power projects to minimize the negative impacts on birds. It is essential that environmental safeguards be developed so that each wind project can be considered on its own merits.

In the mid-Atlantic highlands, studies indicate that more bats are killed than expected. There is not enough information to determine whether the number of bats killed will have overall effects on populations.

Turbines placed on ridges appear to have a higher probability of causing bat fatalities.

There is no evidence that fatalities caused by wind turbines result in measurable demographic changes to bird populations nationwide. However, data are lacking for a many facilities.

Other potential human impacts include effects on cultural resources and the potential for electromagnetic interference with television and radio broadcasting, cellular phones and radar.

Building wind farms requires clearing land and has the potential for erosion and noise.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: the newer windmills are less likely to kill birds and bats
Plans to Boost Energy Efficiency Start Getting Traction.
April 23, 2007   Grist Magazine

While Congress has tacked appliance efficiency standards onto energy bills, it has passed no legislation that would ramp up efficiency across the economy.

Advocates are cheering the Energy Efficiency Promotion Act. The bill sets a goal of cutting gasoline use in the U.S. 20% over the next decade and 45% by 2030; The legislation would also boost efficiency in vehicles and consumer appliances, buildings and industrial equipment.

This has a good chance of passing. It would be a big step forward. It would establish efficiency standards for items such as light fixtures, residential boilers, dehumidifiers, washing machines, dishwashers, and electric motors used in manufacturing. These appliance standards would save enough electricity to power 4.8 million typical U.S. households for a year. The bill would also serve up loan guarantees to automakers that manufacture fuel-efficient vehicles, insulate the homes of low-income families, and require the federal government to increase its renewable-energy use by 10% by 2010.

It doesn't grapple with saving oil and setting industry-wide savings targets for electricity and doesn't include auto fuel-economy standards.

Some would have liked the bill to require utilities to up the efficiency of their facilities and reduce demand among their customers. More than half a dozen states are encouraging utilities to save money by eliminating waste and use those savings to build up their renewable capacity.

New York became the latest state to embrace efficiency when Gov. Spitzer unveiled an energy plan to cut electricity use in the state 15% by 2015 while ramping up clean-energy development.

Other legislation now pending in Congress would tackle omitted issues. The bill has a good chance of passing, it's relatively noncontroversial that addresses climate problems without saying that it's addressing the climate problem.

The support from Democrats and Republicans bodes very well.

Since President Bush proposed a 20% reduction in gasoline use over the next decade maybe he will sign it.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: The article does not mention how our increasing population factors into our total consumption of energy.
NYC Puts Out Nearly 1 Percent of Greenhouse Gases in US.
April 11, 2007   PlanetSave.com

New York city produces nearly 1% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the nation. New York, which has 2.7% of the country's population, produced an emission of 58.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2005. The U.S. total was 7.26 billion metric tons.

The UN warned last week in a global warming report of possible catastrophic risks throughout the world.

Mayor Bloomberg ordered the study of the city's emissions because he needed a benchmark for his goal of a 30% reduction by 2030. There is good news: The average city resident contributes less than a third of the emissions generated by a typical American, largely due to the city's mass transit system, which allows many residents to get around without cars.

Transportation accounts for a major portion of the city's emissions, due to the fuel consumed by vehicles and mass transit systems.

Emissions from transportation are second only to those generated by the operation of the city's hundreds of thousands of buildings. Building operations, which consume electricity, natural gas, fuel oil and steam, contribute 79% of the city's emissions total.    rw doclink

Radiation Risk 'like Pollution'.
April 03, 2007   BBC News

Researchers examined the health impact of the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and the atomic bombs which were dropped on Japan in 1945.

The risks were probably no greater than those from obesity, smoking and urban pollution.

A radiation expert cast doubt on the research saying it does not help to compare the health risks as the risks posed by radiation were not comparable to those from other sources.

But a researcher said exposure to radiation took fewer years off life expectancy than heavy smoking or severely obese.

Someone who was exposed to radiation after the Chernobyl incident had around a one in 100 chance of contracting a fatal cancer in later life, the mortality risk was increased by 1%.

Exposure to air pollution, or passive smoking had a similar impact.

People living unofficially within the Chernobyl exclusion zone may have a lower health risk than those exposed to the air pollution in Kiev.

This study shows that for the population exposed to significant doses of radiation from the Chernobyl incident, the risks of premature death are no greater than those of being subjected to prolonged passive smoking or of constantly over-eating.

It does not help to compare the health risks from radiation among survivors of the atomic bombings in Japan with the risks from obesity or smoking.

One is an involuntary risk, the others are self imposed.

Around 9,000 people exposed to radiation in the Chernobyl incident in 1986 would die from cancer, although Greenpeace has said the number of deaths linked to the incident could be closer to 90,000.    rw doclink

Capitalism and the Consequences of Biofuels.
March 30, 2007   Revolution Newspaper - East Bay

Biofuel refers to fuels derived from recently living organisms, today mostly in the form of ethanol from plants such as sugar cane, soybeans, and oil palm. Biofuels often use more energy to produce than they contribute. Scientists hope that biofuels can replace much gasoline used today. Because the carbon in biofuels comes from CO2 that is taken out of the atmosphere by the living plants, some scientists argue that biofuels could contribute less to global warming than fossil fuels. And, biofuels could be grown year after year.

Others are saying that they require the use of fertilizers, which increase CO2, replace other plant life, deplete the soil, and are water intensive.

The use of biofuels has led to horrific consequences for the people of the world and the environment.

89% of the world's resources are absorbed by the advanced countries. Imperialism has produced a wasteful and destructive pattern of economic activity and industrial development.

This will continue to mean that the growing of crops for fuel, mostly for export to Europe, Japan and the US, is being done on large-scale plantations in the third world. Ancient forests are being cut down, threatening extinction for many species. Reduction of greenhouse gases is lost when carbon-capturing forests are cut down. In Malaysia, the production of palm oil for biodiesel is a major industry. The development of oil-palm plantations was responsible for an estimated 87% of deforestation. In Sumatra and Borneo, 4 million hectares of forest have been converted to palm farms. Now a further 6 million hectares are scheduled for clearance in Malaysia, and 16.5 million in Indonesia.

Thousands of indigenous people have been evicted from their lands, and some 500 Indonesians have been tortured when they tried to resist. The forest fires which every so often smother the region in smog are mostly started by the palm growers.

Hundreds of thousands of small-scale peasant farmers are being displaced by soybeans expansion. Many more stand to lose their land under the biofuels stampede. The expanding cropland planted to yellow corn for ethanol has reduced the supply of white corn for tortillas in Mexico, sending prices up 400%.
For investors in alternatives to oil and gas, the driving force has been the belief that whoever develops the next great energy sources will enjoy the spoils that will make the gains from creating the next Amazon.com or Google seem puny.

In the development of biofuels this means that they do not pay attention to long-term effects. The economy is broken up into competing units of capitalist control and ownership over the means of production. And each unit is fundamentally concerned with itself and its expansion and its profit. The economy, the constructed and natural environment, and society cannot be dealt with as a social whole under capitalism.    rw doclink

Ralph says: From practical experience in several countries including the old Soviet Union, I can assure our readers that socialism does not work either. Perhaps a benevolent universal dictatorsip is the only solution. In WW2 when food became scarce, rationing was willingly accepted. But will the citizens of the more advanced countries accept ethanol rationing so that more food can be sent to the poorer countries with continuing population growth??
If We Want to Save the Planet, We Need a Five-year Freeze on Biofuels.
March 27, 2007   BiofuelWatch.org.uk

The governments using biofuel to tackle global warming know that it causes more harm than good. From next year, all suppliers in the UK will have to ensure that 2.5% of the fuel they sell is made from plants. By 2050, the government hopes that 33% of our fuel will come from crops. By 2017 the USA should be supplying 24% of the nation's transport fuel.

Biofuels are a formula for environmental and humanitarian disaster. Those who can afford to drive are richer than those who are in danger of starvation and it will lead to the destruction of important habitats.

The price of maize has doubled. The price of wheat has reached a 10-year high, while global stockpiles of both grains have reached 25-year lows. There have been food riots in Mexico and the poor are feeling the strain all over the world. According to the UN the main reason is the demand for ethanol. Farmers will plant more, but it is not clear that they can overtake the booming demand. Biofuel is worse for the planet than petroleum. A UN report suggests that 98% of the natural rainforest in Indonesia will be gone by 2022 with the planting of palm oil to turn into biodiesel.

Biodiesel from palm oil eventually causes 10 times as much climate change as ordinary diesel.

Indigenous people in South America, Asia and Africa are starting to complain about incursions onto their land by fuel planters. The environment secretary noted that palm oil plantations "are destroying 0.7% of the Malaysian rainforest each year, reducing a vital natural resource (and in the process, destroying the natural habitat of the orang-utan). It is all connected."

The European commission was faced with a choice between fuel efficiency and biofuels. After heavy lobbying on behalf of car manufacturers, it caved in and raised the limit to 130 grams. It announced that it would make up the shortfall by increasing the contribution from biofuel.

The British government says it "will require transport fuel suppliers to report on the carbon saving and sustainability of the biofuels they supply". But it will not require them to do anything. Biofuels occupy the space that other crops now fill, displacing them into new habitats. It promises that one day there will be biofuels made from straw or grass or wood. But there are still major technical obstacles. The author suggests a five-year freeze.

Encouraged by government policy, vast investments are now being made by farmers and chemical companies.    rw doclink

Goldman Sachs and Other Financial Powerhouses Get Into the Texas Wind Biz.
March 26, 2007   Grist Magazine

One of Goldman's subsidiaries, Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy, is constructing a $600 million, 400-megawatt wind farm west of Dallas. Financiers of other wind-power projects across central and west Texas include Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Macquarie, and John Deere's credit division. Wind power is the fastest-growing energy segment in the world. In Texas the boom is sometimes likened to the gold rush. Verde Energy, which helps homeowners and businesses get quotes for installation of renewable-energy systems, recently partnered with Wells Fargo, which will make loans to homeowners seeking an installation.

Turbine prices have risen in recent years and wind development requires a sizeable capital outlay. Local developers have little hope of raising that kind of cash, but to a Wells Fargo or a Goldman, it's small change.

Wells Fargo is soon to close on its fifth wind deal. Most major wind developers have pre-purchased the turbines they'll need through 2009.

Investment banks are attracted to the wind biz by the federal tax credit, which amounts to 1.9 cents-per-kilowatt-hour for wind-generated electricity over 10 years. Wind developers expect the feds will continue to renew the tax credit. Texas may be poised for a slowdown. Construction of transmission lines has not kept up with growth so the immediate potential of wind is limited. The Panhandle, with some of the fiercest winds is on a different grid system from the rest of Texas.    rw doclink

Ethanol's Growing List of Enemies.
March 19, 2007   BusinessWeek

Cattle farmers worry that they'll face soaring prices for corn to feed the livestock. In the past year, corn prices have doubled from the demand from ethanol producers.

The ethanol movement is sprouting critics. While politicians hope that the U.S. can win its energy independence by turning corn into fuel, an unlikely assortment of allies are raising their voices in opposition. Their common contentions are that the focus on corn-based ethanol has been too hasty, and the government's subsidies for ethanol refiners and high tariffs to keep out alternatives is likely to lead to chaos.

Corn ethanol has failed to prove a reliable alternative that can exist without huge subsidies.

Ethanol has support in Washington. Besides Bush's call for sharply boosting output, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama support ethanol subsidies.

Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), the largest ethanol producer, has handed out millions of dollars in political contributions. The National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. (NCBA), the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, and the National Pork Producers' Council call for the end of corn ethanol subsidies.

Left-leaning economists are pointing out the economic pitfalls of ethanol. And green groups worry that aggressive production could have dire consequences for the environment, because of the heavy use of pesticides, fertilizer, and machinery that burns fossil fuels. The NCBA is beginning to coordinate lobbying and other activities. Opponents say they're determined to get the government to change its policies. The law mandates that 7.5 billion gallons of the nation's annual gasoline consumption or roughly 5% come from renewable fuels by 2012.

Bush proposed quintupling that figure. The result is a wave of ethanol plant construction. That has pushed up demand for corn and last year ethanol took up about one-fifth of the country's corn supply. Feedstock that's made from corn is the single biggest expense for meat packers and processors. Without safeguards for the unintended consequences, the future of U.S. animal agriculture is put in great jeopardy.

The mix of federal and state subsidies to corn ethanol amounted from $5 to %7 billion in 2006. A considerable amount from the 51¢ tax refund for each gallon of ethanol refiners blend with gasoline.

At the same time, the government imposes a 54¢-per-gallon tariff on ethanol from Brazil, which is a cheaper and more energy-efficient product made from sugar cane. The government should stay out of energy markets and let the best fuels win.

Supporters of solar and wind energy make the case that if the government is going to hand out subsidies and mandate use in the name of energy independence, they should get the same kind of treatment.

Advocates for plug-in hybrid vehicles, wind and solar producers, as well as utilities, argue that they can produce the electric equivalent of a gallon of gas for less than half the cost of ethanol-based fuels.

Ethanol producers say they offer a viable alternative to traditional fossil fuels that is becoming more affordable over time. By 2012 the govt claims there will be technology to make ethanol from garbage, switch grass, and other nonfood products.

In the meantime, ranchers are concerned that there hasn't been enough thought given to the unintended consequences of the ethanol boom.    rw doclink

The Big Green Fuel Lie.
March 05, 2007   The Independent

A growing number of economists, scientists and environmentalists are warning that the headlong rush into ethanol production is creating more problems than it is solving.

To its advocates, ethanol, is a clean-burning, renewable energy source. One of Brazil's leading economists and an expert in biofuels, sees a bright future for the energy sector in his country. The White House committed to substituting 20% of the petroleum for ethanol by 2017.

Ethanol in Brazil has been used as fuel since 1925. Today, the streets are packed with cars that run off bio and fossil fuel mixtures. But there is a dark side to this revolution, which argues for a cautious assessment of how ethanol can fill the world's fuel tank. The ethanol industry has been linked with air and water pollution on an epic scale, as well as deforestation and the destruction of Brazil's savannah land.

Some of the cane plantations have replaced important eco-systems, they are oceans of sugar cane. In order to harvest you must burn the plantations which creates air pollution.

Brazil remains the fourth largest producer of carbon emissions in the world due to deforestation but argues that cane production accounts for little more than 10% of Brazil's farmland. New legislation will ensure that sugar plantations do not contribute to the destruction of vital forest preserves.

Sceptics point out that existing legislation is unenforceable. In large areas of Brazil there is no respect for environmental legislation. Ethanol can be a good alternative against global warming but we must make sure we are not creating a worse problem.

Brazil's climate allows it to source alcohol from its sugar crop, but the US has turned to the corn belt for the raw material to substitute oil. The competition for grain between the world's 800 million motorists and its two billion poorest people who are simply trying to stay alive is emerging as an issue.

US President George Bush has decreed that America must wean itself off oil with the help of biofuels.

However, one estimate is that corn needs 30% more energy than the finished fuel it produces.

The land required to produce the grain needed to fill the petrol tank of a 4X4 with ethanol is sufficient to feed a person for a year.    rw doclink

6 Get Grants From U.S. to Support Bio-Refineries.
March 01, 2007   New York Times*

The Energy Department said it would provide up to $385 million in six bio-refinery projects that would produce ethanol that can be made from nonfood crops and agricultural waste.

The awards are called for under the 2005 Energy Policy Act. They will advance President Bush's goals of making the cost of cellulosic ethanol competitive with gasoline by 2012. Dozens of ethanol refineries that use corn are planned over the next two years. But Mr. Bodman acknowledged that corn alone would not be enough to tame America's “oil addiction.”

Because of constraints, corn-based ethanol can produce less than half of the 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels the president set as a goal.

We cannot increase our use of corn grain indefinitely. But cellulosic ethanol is twice as expensive as corn-based ethanol, which has relied on a 51-cent-a-gallon subsidy to be competitive with gasoline. Broin Companies, which won one of the awards, could produce cellulosic ethanol for $2.25 to $2.50 a gallon and expected to cut those costs to under $2 a gallon when it started its plant around 2010. The long-range goal was to get costs down to $1 a gallon, which would put cellulosic ethanol in position to compete with any technology.

An energy consultant and critic of corn-based ethanol, said the administration had no choice. We can't get within shouting distance of the goal without a major, breakthrough in cellulosic.

The awards will finance up to 40% of the projects, which are expected to total more than $1.2 billion. They aim to produce more than 120 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year.

The plants would use low-value materials like switch grass, wheat straw and wood chips.

We are unclear whether ethanol will be the winner in the search for a renewable energy source to replace petroleum. Bio-butanol, a crop-based fuel by DuPont and the oil giant BP, has as much energy for each gallon as gasoline does.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: if we use land that we would have used for food to produce biofuel, then we have a problem. If the low-value material provides less energy than it takes to extract it, that too would be a problem.
Solar Park Largest in Canada.
February 21, 2007   University of Toronto

The University of Toronto has joined forces with ARISE Technologies and the Portlands Energy Centre to create the largest solar energy research facility in Canada. Researchers will capture solar energy into the electrical grid, evaluating how it interacts with electricity generated by other means. This project will mark the first time that solar energy will be integrated into the central electrical grid. Electricity has to be generated and while we can't see this eliminating nuclear generated power, it only is another means of generating electricity on a larger scale.

Everything about solar energy is environmentally friendly.

Solar energy can be harnessed to fulfill a significant portion of the global energy demand. This is the largest project on solar energy in Canada. New jobs and even new companies will be created. There is a market for the entrepreneurial spirit ranging from manufacturing to installations and marketing.    rw doclink

Ralph says: What happens when the sun is not shining? Karen Gaia says: it takes energy to produce solar panels. If there is not enough sun where they are placed, they are a waste of energy.
U.S.;: 4 New Models Make List of 12 Most Environmentally Friendly.
February 06, 2007   Los Angeles Times

An annual online rating of what's "green" has four new models on its list of the dozen most environmentally friendly vehicles.

A large number of vehicles nearly made the list, an environmental guide to cars and trucks. The eco-friendly field has become much more crowded.

Honda Motor Co.'s natural-gas-powered Civic GX was the nation's greenest vehicle. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius, another gasoline-electric hybrid, was second, followed closely by Honda's Civic hybrid.

Nissan Motor Co.'s Altima hybrid, and Toyota's Yaris subcompact rounded out the top five. Nissan's Versa was one of a growing number of vehicles that scored well and fell just behind the 12th-place finisher, Honda's gasoline-powered Civic sedan with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission.

Japanese automakers captured nine of the top 12 positions, and South Korean car companies took the three others.

Ford Motor Co.'s Focus and Escape hybrid and the Pontiac Vibe and G5, the Chevrolet Cobalt and Aveo and the Saturn Ion - all scored well.

The score is computed on the basis of each vehicle's fuel economy and emissions, and also factors in an industry average for pollutants from manufacturing and pollution-related public health costs.

The meanest list includes five SUV models with diesel engines, but changing standards for diesel emissions equipment and the advent of low-sulfur diesel fuel in the U.S. would probably improve diesel's standing in future lists.    rw doclink

Study Says Tapping of Granite Could Unleash Energy Source.
January 22, 2007   New York Times*

There are dozens of power plants worldwide that exploit hot spots of geothermal energy to drive steam turbines. A new report focuses a process that it claims could affordably harvest heat locked in layers of granite that exist almost everywhere. The technique, called enhanced geothermal, involves drilling holes two to three miles deep into granite that has been held at temperatures, around 400 degrees or more, by insulating rock above.

In the right conditions, pressurized water can be used to widen mazelike arrays of cracks in the granite, creating a vast, porous subterranean reservoir.

In a typical setup, water pumped down into the reservoir through one hole absorbs heat from the rock and flows up another hole to a power plant.

There are successful plants in Australia, Europe and Japan but studies of the technology stopped in the US after a brief research during the oil crises of the 1970s.

A public investment of less than $1 billion spread over 15 years would probably be enough to overcome technical hurdles and do initial large-scale deployment of the technology.

The generating capacity by 2050 could be 100 billion watts, about 10% of the country's generating capacity.

There are significant, but surmountable, hurdles to doing such operations at large scale.

Among them are cutting the costs of drilling deep holes and increasing the efficiency of generating electricity from relatively low-temperature sources of heat like deep rock.

While there's no guarantee it's going to work, this is not an unreasonable investment and it's a good bet on the future.    rw doclink

China Touts Greener Buildings to Save Energy.
January 18, 2007   MSNBC.com

China is launching an effort to cut pollution and coal and oil demand by tightening standards and threatening to revoke developers' licenses if they fail to comply. The government has made enforcing environmental and energy standards a priority in an effort to to reduce reliance on imported fuel.

For China to act in compliance with energy efficiency is important to creating a resource-saving society.

China is the least energy-efficient major economy. Its cities are smog-choked, partly due to coal-fired power plants. Cement factories and steel mills are among China's biggest polluters.

The government is trying to rein in emissions from China's car market by imposing taxes on gas-guzzling vehicles.

All new buildings in China will be required to cut energy consumption by 50% to 65% in more prosperous cities.

Owners of existing buildings will be required to improve efficiency and are expected to spend an estimated $200 billion on improvements by 2020. The tighter standards will create a market for energy-saving technology.

Construction accounts for 27% of China's total energy consumption, rising by about 1% a year as incomes rise. Only 53% of new buildings met energy-efficiency rules, while 58 real estate projects were violating them.

China will host an international conference in March on "intelligent, green and energy-efficient" buildings. Experts from the United States, Singapore, India and elsewhere are due to attend.    rw doclink

Energy, Ecology, & Economics by Howard T. Odum, Intro by Bob Cook.
January 12, 2007   Sustainable Tuscon

This paper by Howard Odum was considered one of the most concise and sweeping examinations of the real problems of the world up to 1974. His book Environment, Power and Society (John Wiley, 1972) introduced us to his analysis of economics and ecology. Many are beginning to see that there is a unity of the single system of energy, ecology, and economics.

Many forms of energy are low grade because they have to be concentrated, transported, dug from deep in the earth or pumped from far at sea. Much energy has to be used directly and indirectly to support the machinery, people, supply systems, etc., to deliver the energy. If it takes ten units of energy to bring ten units of energy to the point of use, then there is no net energy. Right now we dig further and further, deeper and deeper, and go for energies that are more and more dilute in the rocks. Sunlight is also a dilute energy that requires work to harness.

We are still expanding our rate of consumption of gross energy, but since we are feeding a higher and higher percentage back into the energy seeking process, we are decreasing our percentage of net energy production. Many of our proposed alternative energy sources take more energy feedback than present processes.

Worldwide inflation is driven in part by the increasing fraction of our fossil fuels that have to be used in getting more fossil and other fuels.

If the money circulating is the same or increasing, and if the quality energy reaching society for its general work is less because so much energy has to go immediately into the energy-getting process, then the real work to society per unit money circulated is less. Money buys less real work of other types and thus money is worth less. Because the economy and total energy utilization are still expanding, we are misled to think the total value is expanding and we allow more money to circulate which makes the money-to-work ratio even larger.

Suppose for every ten units of some quality of oil shale proposed as an energy source there were required nine units of energy to mine, process, concentrate, transport, and meet environmental requirements. Such a reserve would deliver 1/10 as much net energy and last 1/10 as long as was calculated. Leaders should demand of our estimators of energy reserves that they make their energy calculations in units of net energy.

A long article, but worth the read.    rw doclink

Clean Energy 50 Percent of World Supply by 2050, Report Says.
January 04, 2007   International Herald Tribune

Clean energies could supply half of world demand by 2050 if governments crack down on use of fossil fuels. Renewable energies could leap from 13.2% of world supply if governments step up a fight against global warming.

The forecast is more optimistic than a 2006 report which predicted that the share of renewables would gain fractionally by 2030 to 13.7% of world energy demand.

The IEA predicted that oil, coal and natural gas would continue to dominate world energy supply in coming decades.

The EREC and Greenpeace study makes different assumptions from the IEA, including that oil prices will reach $100 a barrel by 2050. The IEA projects oil prices, will dip and then rise back to $55 a barrel by 2030.

EREC groups European organisations representing companies making everything from solar panels to wind turbines, says that the reserves of renewable energy that are accessible globally are large enough to provide six times more power than the world currently consumes, forever.

The report projects that world energy demand could fall by about 6% by 2050, mainly due to greater efficiency despite a growing world population.

The IEA projected that world demand will rise by more than 50% by 2030.

Sven Teske of Greenpeace said the forecasts were realistic if governments take tougher action to offset global warming. Governments are giving subsidies for renewable energies to compete against subsidised fossil fuels. It doesn't make sense to subsidize both.

The report assumes that governments will impose a price on emissions of carbon dioxide of about $50 per tonne by 2050.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: if there are enough reserves, then why did it take about 9 months for my solar panels to be delivered?
Asia;: Are We Ready for Nuclear Energy?.
December 23, 2006   The Star Online

Malaysia hosted the 7th Forum For Nuclear Cooperation in Asia (FNCA) that saw senior government officials and top nuclear experts exchanging ideas and information on the effective utilisation of nuclear technology.

The meeting was off-limits to the media with the exception of the opening ceremony in which Dr Jamaluddin stressed that the necessary multilateral legal instruments to ensure a peaceful use of nuclear energy was already in place.

The recent rise in global oil prices has resulted in a steady renewed interest in nuclear power generation. There are many questions being raised over security and the possibility of a Chernobyl. We cannot afford to wait for our fossil fuels to deplete. Japan has 55 commercial nuclear power plants with the combined capacity of 50 GWa, which accounts for about one-third of national electricity. Malaysia has an abundance of natural resources but the demand for energy is expected to double and would place greater dependency on fossil fuels.

In 2005, oil and natural gas made up the bulk of the 57,380 kilotonnes of oil equivalent (KTOE) of the country's energy supply.

Malaysia's energy demand is expected to expand from 56 MTOE in 2002 to 147 MTOE by 2030, or 2.6 times.

In 2000 the strategy (oil, hydro, gas and coal) had been switched to include biomass and solar. The country's oil reserve is expected to last for 17 years and its natural gas for another 34 years.

There is a move to prepare the people towards the possibility of a policy shift in the near future as plans were to acquire a 20m megawatts nuclear reactor to replace the one megawatt facility in Bangi.

Malaysia was bringing together 66 local scientists in nuclear studies to carry out R & D work in nuclear power.

A reactor of at least 1,200 megawatts is needed to kick start power generation activities.

China has acknowledged that their country's annual growth could not be sustained without nuclear power capacity and is going to increase its nuclear power capacity of 8GW to 40GW before 2020, 4% of total electrical power.

More than 85% of energy is derived from fossil fuels even though most FNCA countries have very limited reserves.

The most important policy is the assurance of a continuous energy supply.

Climate change can be mitigated with nuclear power.

Presently, there are 422 nuclear power plants (NPPs) supplying 16% of electricity worldwide.

Global energy demand is set to increase by 53% in 2030.

Malaysia will have to explore various energy mix and seek cooperation through the trans-Asean gas pipeline and electric network projects.

Several key issues need to be addressed, public acceptance, financing and siteing for nuclear power plants, national capacity in terms of human resources as well as safety regulations.    rw doclink

Industrial Biofuels Not the Answer.
December 23, 2006   Climate Ark

Exponentially growing energy demands cannot be met by harvesting biomass which is not surplus. The benefits of corn based ethanol are marginal given energy necessary for production, oil palm and soy biofuel plantations are devastating rainforests, cellulosic ethanol will be yet one more drain upon global forests and the productive land. The use of food crops for biofuels is resulting in agricultural price increases. There are several simultaneous ecological crises occuring including climate change, habitat loss, and water scarcity. Biofuels intensify all of these. We cannot feed ourselves, maintain ecosystems and fuel the world from plant materials. Climate change will be solved through reductions in population and consumption, increased energy efficiency and conservation, and dramatically cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and leaving coal in the ground. Let's move to sustainable solutions.    rw doclink

Ralph says: We do not have sufficient resources to maintain the present world population.
U.K.;: World's Largest Offshore Wind Farm Plan Given a Stormy Reception.
December 19, 2006   The Independent

Cleve Hill, above the village of Graveney, has been chosen for the construction of the sub-station which will "land" undersea cables carrying 1,000 megawatts of power generated by a wind farm of 341 turbines.

It is part of what will be the world's biggest offshore wind farm. The £2bn project has been hailed as a landmark in Britain's battle to combat global warming.

The news received the blessing of organizations that opposed the Thames Estuary schemes, after assurances over breeding birds.

But a local family is unconvinced. One said: "I'm more worried about what this will do to the landscape and our way of life. London Array, led by Shell and the German company E.ON, argues that Cleve Hill is the only suitable site for its £3m sub-station.

The Swale Borough Council's planning committee threw out an application to build the sub-station, housing eight transformers, despite a recommendation from its officers to approve the development. Much is at stake for the Government, which is committed to meeting 20% of Britain's energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. The Thames Estuary schemes will supply 1,300 megawatts of energy - nearly doubling the supply of wind power.

Offshore wind farms offer the greatest potential for renewable energy. So far development offshore hasn't lived up to the Government's aspirations. The Government underestimated the amount of support it would have to give to get a new technology off the ground.

The big problem is that turbines start operating at wind speeds of 10mph, reaching maximum output at 33mph. At 55mph they must be shut down. It is impractical to store energy so non-wind back up power stations must be operated in tandem. Pressure groups say they can damage tourism and divide communities.

Local authorities have proved hard to convince. Opponents claim turbines are noisy. Work has yet to start on 10 of the 17 offshore schemes. The Energy White Paper looks set to raise the financial reward for offshore power which is 50% more expensive. On-shore wind energy is also more expensive than gas-fired power stations. Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace welcome them because 99% of energy is carbon-free. The RSPB dropped its objection after it was assured that a colony of birds would not be harmed. But it continues to oppose the massive on-shore scheme in Lewis where 181 turbines are planned because it threatens important species.    rw doclink

Biofuel Skeptic Extraordinaire - An interview with David Pimentel.
December 08, 2006   Grist Magazine

Some claim corn ethanol's energy balance is negative, some that it's positive.
Pro-ethanol people make it out to be positive by omitting many of the inputs that go into corn production. For example, farm labor, the farm machinery, the energy to produce the corn, the irrigation. The ethanol proponents fail to include the farm machinery, the energy that's needed to manufacture a tractor, for example.

Another clash with other researchers is over the byproducts of ethanol: like distillers grains that go into animal feed, etc., that push ethanol's energy balance onto positive ground.

Distillers grains are used as a substitute for soybean meal. Instead of giving distillers grains a 40% to 60% credit, which should be more like 9%.

All of that is controversial, but it takes two additional treatments to release the starches and sugars from cellulose. But it takes more cellulose, and two additional treatments.

We found negative energy balances for both wood and switchgrass.

But if we converted 100% of a year's solar energy stored in plant matter to fuel, we'd supply half of our current energy consumption. The WHO is reporting now that 3.7 billion people malnourished. That's about 60% of the world population.

The production of cereal grains per capita has been declining for more than 20 years. Overall production has risen over that same time, but not as fast as the population.

A lot of earnest people support biofuels as a way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and displace fossil fuels. Eighteen percent of all corn is going into ethanol production. We're getting 4.5 million gallons of ethanol. That's 1% of U.S. petroleum use. If we use 100% of U.S. corn, 6%.    rw doclink

Namibia;: Rising Interest in Nuclear Power Brings New Life to Uranium Mining.
December 06, 2006   Washington Post

Dramatic turnarounds have happened across the Africa as a quest for mineral riches have sent prices soaring. From rising demand sub-Saharan Africa's economic growth has hit rates not seen in three decades.

Roessing Uranium Mine opened in 1976. But Three Mile Island and Chernobyl in 1986 caused a backlash that nearly halted new reactor construction. By 2001, the price for uranium oxide had fallen to about $7 a pound. Two years later, facing mineds announced plans to close.

Under that plan, the mine was to cease operations in 2007 but oil prices soared and interest in building new nuclear reactors grew, and the price of uranium oxide rose to $62.50 a pound.

Roessing in Nambia has decided to continue mining until at least 2016. They expect to end this year with the first profit, and tax bill paid to the Namibian government, in five years.

And the mine has begun hiring again.

A second uranium mine is slated to open nearby. Three others within 60 miles are in development.
The tourism industry fears the loss of pristine landscapes, and environmentalists, damage to the fragile biodiversity of the Namib, the driest and oldest desert in the world.

Roessing mine is a canyon two miles long, nearly a mile wide and more than 1,000 feet deep. Several crushing machines pulverize the rock, then acids extract the traces of uranium. The end product is a fine gray powder that leaves the mine in steel drums weighing 900 pounds. All of Roessing's uranium oxide is used by civilian reactors.

Officials hope to use the unexpected revival of the mine to secure the future of their town, which already has paved roads, a soccer stadium, a library, street lights and steady sources of electricity and clean water. Two small clothing factories and a technical college provide jobs not directly affiliated with the mine.    rw doclink

U.S.;: Will America's Love of Biofuels Mean Acres of Destruction?.
December 05, 2006   Grist Magazine

Ethanol and biodiesel are being promoted as cures for our energy and environmental woes. It may seem that fuel from plants would be more benign but the ecological impacts are more complicated and wider-reaching. Large-scale production of corn and soybeans has negative ecological consequences. Industrial corn production requires huge quantities of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers (primarily from natural gas) and petroleum-based pesticides. Soybean farmers douse fields with nutrients and chemicals to keep them pest-free.

The effects of corn and soybean production in the Midwest include topsoil erosion, pollution of surface and groundwater, and fertilizer runoff that travels down the Mississippi River to deplete oxygen from a portion of the Gulf of Mexico about the size of New Jersey.

High prices have encouraged farmers to plant corn year after year - that boosts fertilizer and pesticide requirements.

Water has also become a concern as corn production expands into drier areas. The ethanol boom has sent water demands skyrocketing. Stepped-up corn ethanol production means increases in soil erosion and water pollution, and increases in greenhouse-gas emissions. Ethanol proponents say the fuel emits up to 13% fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline. But an increase in emissions on the farm could cancel out benefits. Prairie native switchgrass and miscanthus require lower quantities of fertilizers and pesticides and eliminate the need to plow fields annually. These crops could produce greater quantities of biomass. Processors will need to look beyond corn. If all the corn grown in the U.S. were turned into ethanol, it would replace only 15% of our annual gasoline demand.
Soy has problems of its own.

Fuel from perennial grasses could replace more than a third of our petroleum needs by 2030. But even the advent of cellulosic ethanol could mean more corn. Corn stalks and residues from the corn harvest could be used to make cellulosic ethanol. Throughout tropical countries rainforests and grasslands are being cleared for soybean and oil-palm plantations to make biodiesel. Plantations of the African oil palm have become lucrative. Growers press the palm fruit and kernel for oil that can be used in both food and biodiesel.

To meet the growing demand, producers have ramped up production by clearing thousands of square miles of rainforest.

In Indonesia, rainforest loss for oil palms has contributed to the endangerment of 140 species of land animals, while in Malaysia animals like the Sumatran tiger and Bornean orangutan have been pushed to the brink of extinction. Colombia in recent years began planting oil palm over wide swaths of the territory. These areas rank among the planet's key storehouses of biodiversity. Nearly 80% of Brazil's Cerrado region has been cleared for agricultural production, mostly for soybeans.

Despite being home to thousands of endemic plant and animal species, the Cerrado has been promoted as "the last agricultural frontier". Low land and labor costs and high yield potential have sent investors scrambling to buy up these Brazilian grasslands. Whats happening in tropical ecosystems is much more serious than the biofuel situation in the U.S.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: No mention of population growth and no mention of the lowered production of food to make way for fuel. Ralph says: More people = more cars = more fuel.
As Alternative Energy Heats Up, Environmental Concerns Grow; Crop of Renewable 'Biofuels' Could Have Drawbacks.
December 05, 2006   unknown

In Borneo, forest fires have blazed across the island to clear land to produce a clean-burning diesel fuel alternative.

From July through mid-October, Indonesian health officials reported 28,762 smog-related cases of respiratory illness.

The fires in Indonesia spew millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In India, water tables are dropping as farmers try to boost production of ethanol-yielding sugar.

The push for alternative fuels is going to cause significant changes for the environment. Crops for biofuels will compete with other farmland, possibly driving up global costs of food. The Malaysian Palm Oil Association contends that the timber industry and local farmers are much to blame for destroying Indonesia's forests.

New technologies could help resolve some concerns over collateral damage. One of the hottest, is ethanol, which uses waste to create fuel.

Questions about corn-based ethanol are arising and doubt about the fuel's value. Expanding corn production for biofuels would deplete water resources and pollute soils with added fertilizer and chemicals. It would also require huge volumes of energy for farming equipment and ethanol-conversion facilities that could nullify gains from the fuel produced.

Other studies have reached more optimistic conclusions. Last year, investors poured $49 billion into solar power, ethanol and biodiesel. But commercializing alternative fuels relies on government subsidies or tax incentives. A European Parliament recommended a ban on biofuel made from palm oil, saying that this encourages deforestation in tropical countries. An environmental group complained that this would contribute to unsustainable global demand for palm oil.

As oil prices have surged, a number of companies have announced plans to build biodiesel plants. There's enough refining capacity under development to produce 20 million metric tons of fuel annually by late 2008 that would use all the world's available palm oil. The Indonesian government is offering low-interest loans for plantation companies and maintain this can be done without causing environmental damage.

Different Outcome

But Borneo is one of the last great tropical wildernesses. It's home to rare and unusual species. Today, little more than half of Borneo's forest cover remains and the palm-oil boom threatens what's left. Indonesia is the world's third-biggest carbon emitter behind the U.S. and China. Companies hack down the trees, leaving behind a mass of debris that must be removed and the cheapest way is to burn it.

Indonesian officials say they're doing the best they can to fight the fires. But they're hamstrung by tight budgets and the logistical difficulties of policing such a vast area with few roads. Palm-oil companies, meanwhile, have joined with others to set up a group that plans to certify plantation companies that follow guidelines to minimize ecological damage.    rw doclink

Energy Use Can Be Cut by Efficiency, Survey Says.
November 30, 2006   New York Times*

A new report says efficiency improvements could cut global energy-consumption increases by more than half over the next 15 years. With US carbon emissions and electricity generation accounting for 71% percent of US household emissions, many are pushing for changes at home. One mystery is that the public has not shifted faster to fluorescent bulbs. Change your product name from compact fluorescent bulbs to Tickle-Me Wii Brites, and watch the magic happen, says the author.    rw doclink

U.S.;: Green Energy Idea Growing on York Countians.
November 28, 2006   York Daily Record

U.S. census figures show that, since 2000, the number of houses in York County heated by solar energy has nearly doubled.

An energy consulting firm, predicted that the solar energy industry will grow from $7.2 billion in 2004 to $39.2 billion by 2014.

Solar energy is not cost-effective to install and operate right now, but it's a good option for those who want to be environmentally friendly.

For some residents it's the security.

Power can go out on a moment's notice storms have caused the power to go out for days in the past.

But solar energy is clean and always there. As oil depletes, we wonder where will we get all of the energy. But the sun is not going anywhere.    rw doclink

Denmark Points Way in Alternative Energy Sources.
November 26, 2006   Fox News

As a nation with few energy resources Denmark had rethink its policies in the face of an almost complete withdrawal of its oil supply.

In 30 years Denmark has worked tirelessly to develop new technology and policies.

Today, renewable sources account for a greater share of the nation's energy consumption. 20% of Denmark's energy needs are met by wind turbines, and the proportion is increasing. The cost of wind power has been reduced by 75% since 1970.

Wind-power technology has been a driving force in the Danish economy and provides employment.

Other Danish energy sources include biomass, in combined heat and power plants; solar-energy, and geothermal turbines. High gasoline prices and heavily taxed vehicles result in fewer people driving.

Denmark's transportation needs are far simpler than those of a sprawling country like the US but its citizens are willing to adapt to alternative means of transportation.

The Danish people don't have as many appliances, and there are stringent requirements for insulation when building new homes. The average Danish household consumes only 350 kw hours of electricity per month, American homes average between 600 and 1,000-kwh a month.

Denmark has the lowest energy consumption per unit of GDP in the EU. Following the oil embargo, Denmark developed a strategy to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. It increased taxes on natural gas and petroleum to reduce consumption, and embarked on research to develop new sources of energy. Still, oil and gas resources remain a key element of the country's energy portfolio.

The production of oil and gas from the nation's 19 oil fields in the North Sea began full production only after the oil embargo and has led to the creation of jobs, and higher tax revenues for the country

As oil and gas resources become concentrated in non-EU countries, the Danish resources will become important as a way to enhance security of energy supply. Ten companies received and sold oil from the Danish fields in 2005.

Denmark imported approximately 69,000 barrels, and exported approximately 263,000 barrels, of crude oil per day in 2003. But unless new fields are discovered, the North Sea oil supply is expected to run out within 20 years.

The Danes have integrated renewables into their electricity system with no major technical difficulties but the downside has been the cost. Renewable plants increase retail electricity costs to households by 3% and to business 9%.

Denmark could be more cost-effective by focusing on gains in energy efficiency. It is Denmark's pioneering role in renewable energy and efficiency that allows it to provide valuable lessons for other countries.    rw doclink

U.S.;: Energy Independence on Bush Agenda.
November 09, 2006   The Financial Times

The administration will soon launch an energy independence initiative, likely to include emphasis on biofuels. Plans to develop technology to make fuel from plant waste could be a big beneficiary of the plan. A bold energy initiative could help Mr Bush regain some political momentum, while buttressing Republican support in the farming states.

The White House is committed to supporting ethanol from corn and sugar. But is excited about the prospects for “cellulosic ethanol” made from plant waste. The technology to make cellulosic ethanol is in its early stages, but has attracted the interest of Royal Dutch Shell, which has formed a partnership with Iogen Corporation. Top administration officials had spent a lot of time evaluating cellulosic ethanol research.

Education was an area where there is bipartisan agreement on the need to improve the US schools.    rw doclink

Third World Energy Use and Pollution

US Washington;: Seattle Reports Milestone in Cutting Emissions.
October 30, 2007   Seattle Times

Seattle is one of the first major U.S. cities to cut greenhouse-gas emissions enough to meet the Kyoto treaty.

Keeping down emissions in the future means confronting the problems: how to get people out of their cars and driving less.

Overall greenhouse-gas emissions fell by 8% between 1990 and 2005 the amount attributed to transportation rose 3%, due to more gas used by cars.

Critics say meeting the Kyoto targets nationwide would hurt the economy, supporters call it a critical step toward deeper reductions needed to slow global warming.

Seattle's reductions were the result of energy conservation and changes in power production.

Nickels has lobbied the nation's mayors to sign a pledge promising to meet the Kyoto Protocol's target of cutting greenhouse gases to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

The City Council passed a resolution adopting the Kyoto goals in 2001.

City Light operations produce no net greenhouse gases. The utility sold its part-ownership in a coal-fired power plant and stopped buying power from a natural-gas plant in Klamath Falls, Ore. City Light has embarked on aggressive conservation measures and bought greenhouse-gas offsets, paying someone else to stop polluting to make up for emissions from sources such as its utility trucks.

Another share of the drop came from homeowners and businesses switching from fuel oil to cleaner-burning natural gas. The city was helped temporarily by a drop in 2005 emissions from the two cement plants.

But those plants were expected to boost production after 2005, Nicholas said.

Seattle is trying to lure people from their cars. Two tax measures are aimed at improving bus service, bike lanes and sidewalks.

The city has passed development rules to encourage people to move downtown, where they will drive less. But the city will need to do more if it wants to keep greenhouse gases from creeping up, as the population grows.    rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: getting people out of their cars is imperative.
California is No Longer Leading the Pack on Wind Energy.
June 28, 2007   Grist Magazine

Texas is the state with the most wind-power generating capacity.

California's wind capacity grew at a slower rate than any of the other top 10 wind-producing states. Texas's grew at 39%, California, 10%. California's early pioneering is part of its trouble. Regulations make it hard for developments to get off the ground. California is probably the most difficult state in the country to build in. Texas provides property-tax exemptions to people with windmills on their land, California does not.

California developers have been cowed by lawsuits over bird deaths. The wind industry is supposed to cut the number of raptor deaths in half by the end of 2009. Development at Altamont remains frozen because of bird issues, though a few hundred megawatts have gone up in nearby Solano County.

The wind industry says that technology has improved: turbines which rotate more slowly while generating more energy. The California Energy Commission is soon to come out with voluntary guidelines for reducing impacts on birds and bats. Turbines are commonly a few hundred feet high, raising concerns about radar interference. In Kern County, parts of the area were "out of play" for a few years, because the military effectively barred anything above 200 feet.
But the real bottleneck may be lack of transmission capacity. Since 1986 there has been no additional transmission capacity in Tehachapi, with the exception of a private transmission line built some 15 years ago. California is certainly at the forefront of pushing renewable energy; 20% of California's retail electricity is supposed to come from renewables by 2010.

Transmission shortages will ease, wind advocates hope. A project to build more than 4,000 MW of additional transmission capacity is in the works. But the approval process is still under way. 15,000 MW of new wind projects are currently planned in California.    rw doclink

Solar Energy: Alternative to Combat Energy Insecurity in India.
February 22, 2007   Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict 2004-2007

With an increasing population, India's energy demands is mounting. The household sector is the largest consumer, accounting for 40%-50%. In rural areas, the domestic sector accounts for 80%. With the current rate of consumption, India would require 450 million tones of coal, 94 million tones of oil and 220 million units of electricity by 2006. Most of these are non-renewable resources. India realized that the key to sustainable consumption is to divert the energy load onto the renewable sources. More than 3165 MW of power based on renewable sources have been installed, including the world's largest deployment of solar PV (Photovoltaic) aggregating 50 MW. India ranks 3rd in annual production capacity of solar PV. With 3.23 million biogas plants, India ranks 2nd after China. There is a potential of about 3500 MW of biogas-based power from 453 sugar mills. With wind power India ranks 5th in the world with 18710 MW.

Solar energy is especially valuable as there is sunshine available for most parts of the year and most of the time. The amount of solar energy impacting India is about 32.8 million MW every second on the Indian land mass. Solar energy is inexhaustible, widely distributed, environment friendly and cost free in raw form. Offsetting these benefits are its low intensity and its unpredictability. Solar energy can supply from 40% to 75% of a building's energy needs.

Harnessing the sun is a clean way to provide hot water or space heating. Another way is through photovoltaic cells.

The Indian government has taken the initiative in promoting the use solar energy. Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) provides revolving fund offering credit for the purchase of PV systems, which service lower volume customers. Soft loans are provided at low interest rates for solar water heaters for the period of 6 years. To provide low-cost energy to every rural household has been the top priority of the successive Indian governments. Only the political and practical will is necessary for the encouragement of solar energy in India.    rw doclink

Protest Shuts Down Thai Hearing on Nuclear Power.
February 07, 2007   International Herald Tribune

Thailand canceled a public hearing on a new power production plan to include the country's first nuclear plant. 200 villagers traveled 300 km (190 miles) from the west coast province of Prachuab Khirikhan to attend.

They didn't have a big enough room the senior ministry official Norkhun Sitthipong told reporters.

The villagers, whose protests in 2002 forced the government to cancel plans for two coal-powered plants, said they wanted no power plant in the province.

Thailand's latest plan calls for 11 700-megawatt power plants, three coal powered, to be built in Prachuab Khirikhan.

It also seeks to use more coal, biofuels and nuclear power and buy electricity from Laos, Myanmar and China.    rw doclink

Hubris on the Yangtze.
November 24, 2003   Grist Magazine

The new Three Gorges Dam on China's Yangtze River is an environmental and human-rights disaster of monumental proportions, critics say. Up to 1.9 million people will be forced to leave their homes. It was built with more than six times as much concrete as the Panama Canal and already has cracks, some up to 8 feet in length. Experts in China have urged their country's government to rethink its plans.    rw doclink

China Trying to Cope with Burgeoning Car Culture.
September 08, 2003   Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The number of motor vehicles in Beijing passed 2 million, seven years ahead of projections. One in five households in the Chinese capital now owns a car, a huge shift from 10 years ago. But with this has come congested roads, high pollution, rising accidents and worries about the policy to encourage car ownership. Concerns - whether Beijing, with 14 million people, will become another crammed Asian mega-city or an enlightened model of planning - are important as leaders remake the city for the 2008 Olympic Games. Beijing pledged to invest $12 billion to clean the air and water and $7.7 billion to add 90 miles of rail and subway, doubling the current network. It will spend $6.8 billion on road construction and repair, adding 900 miles by 2008, when vehicles are expected to number 3.5 million. Beijing and other Chinese cities have the highest air pollution levels in the world. Cities all over China are building roads and highways, in response to burgeoning commerce and as a way to attract investment. Few have the vision for proper urban and traffic planning. Beijing urban sprawl makes car ownership almost a necessity as developments spring up farther from the city center. As market reforms accelerated, Chinese leaders viewed freeways and private cars as signs of a modernized country and enticed the likes of Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors. For every car sold, two people are employed, either directly or indirectly. The media may criticize road designs or poor planning, but no one dares call for limiting the number of cars. Shanghai limits license plates for new cars to 2,000 to 3,000 a month, Beijing issues nearly 2,000 every day.    rw doclink

The Peak of World Oil Production and the Road to the Olduvai Gorge.
November 13, 2000   Pardee Keynote Symposia Geological Society of America S

The Olduvai theory is based on world energy and population data and is defined by the ratio of world energy use and world population. It states that the life expectancy of Industrial Civilization is less than or equal to 100 years: 1930-2030.

World energy production per capita from 1945 to 1973 grew at 3.45 %/year. From 1973 to the peak in 1979, it slowed to 0.64 %/year then took a long-term decline of 0.33 %/year from 1979 to 1999. The Olduvai theory explains the 1979 peak and the subsequent decline. It says that energy production per capita will fall to its 1930 value by 2030, thus giving Industrial Civilization a lifetime of less than or equal to 100 years.

Should this occur, any number of factors could be cited as the 'causes' of collapse. I believe, however, that it will be correlated with an 'epidemic' of permanent blackouts of high-voltage electric power networks. Briefly explained: When the electricity goes out, you are back in the Dark Age.

The Olduvai theory, of course, may be proved wrong. But it cannot be rejected by the world energy production and population data.    rw doclink

Developing Nations' Energy Consumption Declines.
August 17, 2000   Oil and Gas Journal

Joanne Disan, director of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs' Division for Sustainable Development, told the the United Nations Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that energy consumption in the world's
developing countries has declined 2.3% over the last year, "seriously" hampering economic and social development performance in these nations. In
contrast, increased consumption was among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, where energy demand stuck to a 10-year growth trend. OECD countries currently represent almost 60% of total world commercial energy demand.   doclink

Transpacific Pollution Leaves Thicker and Thicker Trail.
July 31, 2000   ENN

Rising industrialization in Asia is discharging millions of tons of
previously undetected contaminants annually into the winds that travel across the Pacific Ocean. Every spring there are massive dust storms in Asia
that transport soil across the Pacific to the US, previous research has shown. Now Thomas Cahill, a researcher and professor emeritus of physics
and atmospheric science at the University of California at Davis and an international authority on the atmospheric transport of pollutants has found
that "sulfate and organic aerosols are also present, and in roughly the same amounts." These aerosols are killing crops, spreading illness in Asia,
appear to be adding toxic materials to waters in America, and they could dramatically alter global climate. Every year, Asia burns millions of tons of
coal in coal-burning power plants and coal-fired locomotives. Aerosols are also generated from metals production, vehicle exhaust, home heating,
and overtilling of dry-area farmland. The U.S. has slowed it's annual releases of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere from about 20 million tons to 13
million tons between 1990 and 2000, while Asia's has climbed to about 45 million tons. Pollution of the air above the Pacific ocean, will change the
heating/cooling effect of the ocean and produce changes in the weather. The research project is called the University of California Pacific Rim
Aerosol Network and it works by determining the origins of these aerosols by finding the unique signature of their origins in their composition of
trace elements, such as nickel, copper, zinc, arsenic and lead. Aerosols with these unique signatures from Asia have been detected all the way to
the Rocky Mountains in the United States.   doclink


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