Wednesday, February 28, 2007

 

Al Gore: Green Hypocrite

By now probably everyone has heard about Al Gore’s Oscar and the subsequent well-deserved criticism of his hypocritical lifestyle. Gore counters this criticism by saying that he is buying “greener” power for his mansion. But an unexplored issue here is whether Gore or any other rich person has the right to consume so much energy in the first place. Just because Gore has the money to pay a $30,000 residential energy bill, does that give him the right to consume so much more than the average American household? No matter where he buys his power, Gore is competing with the tens of millions of poor Americans who are struggling just to stay warm. Surely there are many poor people in Tennessee who also buy power from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

What’s lacking from this analysis is the “fair share” factor. Rich people don’t like to take this into consideration because it crimps their lifestyle. Like Gore, they’ll claim that they are taking steps to “offset” their emissions, or otherwise try to justify their extravagance.

As fuel gets increasingly expensive and poor Americans start burning their furniture to keep from freezing, will Al Gore forgo heating his mansion? His real test is yet to come.

As for the rich at large, do not expect them to give up any of their comfort for the rest of us. The elite mind does not work like that.

 

Faith-Based Thinking

While not especially recent news, the statement by Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yanagisawa that women are “baby-making machines” was quite revealing of the mindset that controls industrial governments. Japan’s government wants lots of workers/taxpayers to keep the system afloat. But the mistaken assumption is that the world will continue to have lots of inexpensive energy, and that the world trade in cheap food (made possible by cheap oil) will continue. This assumption is so strong that it’s like a religious belief. People don’t want to believe anything else, and just reject information or arguments that don’t jibe with their belief system.

And now there is “Innovation 25.” Sounds really forward-looking, and promises a wonderful future. Or does it? While acknowledging problems like mounting competition for resources and energy, increasingly aggravated environmental problems, and less food and water, it nevertheless predicts more globalization, and a more energy-intensive technological future. Such contradictions just don’t bother people whose belief system is a religion.

You can find this faith-based thinking all over the place. It is simply a given that we will come up with the energy and resources that will allow billions more people to live as extravagantly as people in the overdeveloped countries now do. Clearly this is absurd, but everybody just keeps on acting as if it can be done. Is this any less than a blindly held religious belief?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

 

Bush Is Irrelevant

I have observed before that Bush only thinks he runs the world, but is actually irrelevant. Here we have another instance, in which he was out biking while the drill was taking place. Just as on the morning of 9/11, the people who really run the country shunted Bush out of the way so he couldn’t screw it up.

Friday, February 23, 2007

 

Africa the US’s New Middle East?

Recently the US government announced the formation of AFRICOM, but in the same breath said it has nothing to do with grabbing Africa’s resources or countering China (which is buying up Africa’s resources with its huge dollar reserves). But in 2006 the US got more crude oil from Africa than from the Middle East. You can bet that it will be AFRICOM’s job to protect that supply line.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

 

The Great Iraq Oil Grab

Do you still think the US is not in Iraq for the oil? Do you still believe the US attacked Iraq merely at the behest of the Zionist lobby? Do you still think the oil companies were never interested?

As each new bit of information emerges, as each day passes, this view is more and more proved a complete fantasy. And now we find out about the new proposed oil and gas law. This fits neatly into the theory of blood for oil. The US government clearly has no intention of satisfying itself with low-grade crap like Canadian tar sand or shale oil. They are going for the good stuff.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

 

US Military Is World’s Biggest Oil Consumer

Do you still think the US is not interested in getting Iraq’s and Iran’s oil? Amazingly, some people believe this even now, despite the hard facts about US oil needs, privatization of Iraq’s oil, the fortress-like US embassy under construction in Baghdad, and US military bases being built throughout Iraq.

I have mentioned before that the Empire’s military machine needs lots of oil, and here’s an excellent article which shows with facts and figures that the Pentagon is “the single largest oil consumer in the world.” Keeping that military machine running is more important than anything else, as we’re going to find out in the coming years. People might have to freeze or starve, but the military will get its fuel.

Friday, February 16, 2007

 

Dumping on “Peak Oil”

Lots of people still want to dump on peak oil, for example making the public think that peak oil advocates say we’re “running out of oil.” In reality, peak oil has never been about running out. We’re talking about a production peak followed by decline, which will come about because the remaining oil is harder and harder to get, making it higher priced and less available. Although that probably sounds like a “market problem” to a lot of people, it spells disaster for Petroleum Man’s lifestyle.

An example is this article. It is titled “Running out of oil may not be the issue at all,” making it sound as though peak oil advocates are saying the reservoirs will be sucked dry. The article similarly kicks off with the same canard: “All the talk of when the world will run out of oil could be rendered irrelevant because of geopolitical issues...” Again, this suggests to the reader something that peak oil isn’t saying.

The article’s point that politics can block access to oil is of course correct, and this certainly will play a part in creating oil shortages. That said, it is highly unlikely that enough political barriers can ever be overcome to make a significant difference. The approach of the US government in particular seems geared more to making enemies than friends, which can only aggravate the situation.

People are free not to believe in peak oil, but they are doing the public a disservice by creating misunderstanding of what peak oil is all about.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

 

No Oil Crisis?

Peak oil can be a hard sell. Naturally, people don’t want to believe this because, if true, it means the end of the world as we know it. So, they come up with reasons for believing that there’s nothing to worry about. Let’s take a look at a few of their claims.

First, there’s a school of thought which claims that the US invaded Iraq and is planning to attack Iran merely at the behest of Israel. Certainly there is Israeli pressure, and the Lobby exercises considerable control over US politicians. But those who claim that the US does not want to take over Middle Eastern oil fields had better get a reality check. Just consider for five minutes what happens to the US economy and society without lots of cheap oil. Or better yet, consider what happens to the Empire’s military machine without lots of oil. Just a few moments of cogitation should be enough to realize that the Empire desperately needs to control as much of the world’s oil as it can, and to keep it from being sold to other countries (notably to China, in whatever currency). Military control of oil and other resources is becoming increasingly important, as evidenced by the recent announcement about the creation of AFRICOM, whose job it will be to secure supplies of Africa’s resources and energy. Additionally, military action is necessary to maintain and expand the “defense industry” gravy train, something that diplomacy or economic hit men could never accomplish. So military action in the Middle East brings in lots of business for the “defense industry,” takes over the major oil fields, and panders to Israel. Or at least that is the plan.

Second is the claim that the US will forgo Middle Eastern oil and instead rely on Canadian tar sand and Venezuelan oil. In other words, Middle Eastern oil is not needed. Poppycock. Venezuelan oil is largely heavy crude that requires a bigger energy investment, which means a smaller energy return. And Canadian tar sand? This, along with so-called shale oil, is the dregs of petroleum, requiring a huge energy investment and yielding not much more energy than you put into it. It would make no sense for the US to forgo high-quality and easy-to-pump Middle Eastern oil and satisfy itself with crap. For anyone who knows even a little about oil, this scenario is just plain wacky.

And then there is the claim that the oil companies are creating an artificial shortage to jack up prices. Sorry to say, jacking up prices can only go so far, as we have already seen. Look at the Indonesian fuel protests. Look at the very angry Americans who waited vainly in line to gas up their cars during the 1973 oil crisis. Look at the many people who are already forced to choose between heating and eating when winter rolls around. Even at these prices — where crude oil still costs less than bottled water by volume — there are warning signals. Prices are going up because demand has caught up with supply. At the same time, high prices serve another purpose: demand destruction. One by one, the little people get cut out, leaving the well-heeled, who can afford higher energy prices. This means that, at least for the time being, the markets can contract and still remain viable. And since markets are more important than people, this is essential. Demand must be brought into line with supply.

Those who don’t want to face up to reality can keep their urban condominiums and believe that abiotic oil or alien technology will come to the rescue. I wish them luck.

 

The Cloistered Existence of George W. Bush

In his continuing effort to blame Iran for his troubles in Iraq, George W. Bush revealed part of his true nature and circumstances. “It’s hard for me living in this beautiful White House to give you an assessment, a first hand assessment,” he said. That’s so. In fact, it’s clear that Bush knows little about the real world.

Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Bush has likely never worked a day in his life. Surely he’s never experienced life as the hoi polloi do. He’s never wondered where his next meal is coming from, or if he can pay this month’s rent. And when he got a cushy slot in the National Guard to stay out of Vietnam, he couldn’t even finish that.

Here’s a man who lives out his fantasies by bankrupting the nation, wears an expensive suit, eats dainty meals provided by the White House chef, and lounges in an air-conditioned office. He’s a man who thinks that the poor are poor by choice. Bush wouldn’t know hardship even if it jumped up and bit him in the tu-tu.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

 

9/11 Movement Gives Debunker Journalists a Free Ride

How many times does one have to point this out? The 9/11 truth movement is just making it hard on itself by playing into the hands of debunkers, including debunker journalists. Just a few days ago we got another great example of this when the illustrious George Monbiot brought out a debunking article which joins a long list of other such articles by publications and writers across the political spectrum. This was followed by a rebuttal from one of the people involved in the production of the popular 9/11 video “Loose Change.”

Before I get to the point, let me say that I respect George Monbiot and his work. At the same time, I also respect the many people — including those who made LC — who work hard to debunk the flimsy story that is the official conspiracy theory.

The problem is that the 9/11 truth movement is turning away powerful potential allies like Monbiot by taking the wrong tack. As I’ve observed elsewhere, ad nauseam, the physical evidence approach is the weakest argument that the 9/11 movement has, simply because George W. Bush was careful to keep the public away from the physical evidence, which he cleaned up and carted away as quickly as possible. Very clever of him, I might add. So, to argue that the WTC buildings were brought down by demolition, the 9/11 movement must rely largely on anecdotal evidence (“I heard explosions”), and hair-splitting about the temperature at which steel weakens and melts, the temperature at which jet fuel burns, free-fall speed, pancaking theories, and the like. The argument is highly theoretical and speculative. “Our simulation is better than yours,” etc. To people who are skeptical of government involvement in the first place, these are indeed not very compelling arguments. I’m not making excuses for Monbiot or other journalists who should be doing better homework on this, but really, it’s no wonder that such a weak argument turns away and hardens skeptics instead of making them think. The physical-evidence argument is a very easy target for debunkers, and they gladly take advantage of it.

Yet, in over five years the 9/11 movement has yet to learn a lesson from this.

Thinking back over all the debunking articles I’ve seen, including this latest offering by Monbiot, I can’t recall a single one which addressed any of the good evidence in favor of US government complicity. And the cold, hard truth is, they don’t have to because 99 out of 100 people in the 9/11 truth movement are absolutely enthralled by the practically nonexistent physical evidence.

The 9/11 movement rarely ever asks debunkers and journalists to examine or discuss the war games, the money trail, peak oil, drugs, the connections with the arms and “homeland security” industries, the tortured timeline, insider trading, the implausible 9/11 Commission report, or any of the many, many verifiable facts that point inexorably toward government complicity. Why, oh why, does the 9/11 movement continue to give debunkers a free ride? Am I the only person vexed by this question? We see this same scenario played out over and over again, day after day, year after year. Yet, the 9/11 movement continues to expend oceans of spit and ink on this weak and easy-to-debunk evidence, and fails to confront debunkers and the media with the good evidence.

If truthers want to make some bigger waves and faster progress, they should form a united front, set aside their weak physical-evidence argument, put together a solid list of questions about the excellent circumstantial evidence, and mount a full-court press that would force debunkers and the media to address questions which cannot be answered without pointing toward the government itself.

 

Child Soldiers

The use of child soldiers is not a new issue or area of concern, so I won’t go into the matter here, except on one point that comes to mind. It is said that children are very impressionable and malleable, which makes it easy for military forces or warlords or whatever to mold them into killers. Certainly that is true. But are people as young as 18 — legal age for combat in the US and UK — not susceptible?

Having been in the military myself, I can tell you that 18- and 19-year-olds are amazingly easy to brainwash. If being responsible for one’s actions, being mature, shall we say, is a criterion, I think an age closer to 30 would be appropriate. But that would never be chosen as the minimum age for draft or enlistment because in truth military forces need young, strong bodies and easily influenced minds.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

 

Biofuels Are a Bust

You still think biofuels are going to keep the car culture going? You got another think coming. Biofuels have a net energy loss. In other words, the US would be far better off just using petroleum products directly in vehicles than using them as inputs to produce biofuels. A few people are making a lot of money because biofuels are subsidized, but this is only making the problem worse.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

 

Bush: Low Expectations

George W. Bush says he prefers to be “around people that keep expectations low,” which is a good idea for a man who delivers so little.

You’re doing a great job, Bushie.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

 

The False Promise of Electric Cars

Tom Whipple over at Falls Church News-Press writes some good stuff, especially on peak oil. But I have to take issue with his latest offering, “The Peak Oil Crisis: The Age of the Electric Car.”

Obviously, lots of people are hoping that the car culture can be saved. Without motor vehicles and the mobility we now enjoy, modern economies would come crashing down virtually overnight. So the search for something — anything — to keep our cars and trucks on the road becomes more desperate as time goes on.

We’ve heard it all before, of course: Electric cars are non-polluting, drive right past the gas station, blah blah blah. I’m surprised that Whipple, who is Mr. Reality when it comes to the topic of peak oil, would be so easily duped by the false promise of electric cars.

Time for a reality check. How much energy and resource consumption, environmental damage, and exploitation go into each car up to the point it rolls off the assembly line? Is that going to change just because the car has batteries and electric motors instead of an internal combustion engine? Not on your life. And where will the electricity to charge the batteries come from? You can put up PVC panels and windmills until the land is littered with them, and you are not going to have nearly enough electricity to run a fleet of millions of electric vehicles. What next? More nuke plants? No, thanks.

All kinds of straws are offered to us for grasping. Cars will run on electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, and — what next? — perpetual motion? But all these have serious problems, and by no means can replace oil. Ethanol’s energy balance is barely positive, even if we do our calculations charitably. Hydrogen, which is often mistakenly thought of as an energy source, is a definite energy sink. And electricity? This too is an energy sink! Batteries are just a form of storage, like hydrogen. Every time you convert energy from one form to another, you lose some of it. Let’s say you have a battery-powered electric car that you charge by plugging into the outlet at night. There is a transmission loss that occurs when sending power to your residence, the loss when converting electrical energy to chemical energy (charging), the loss when converting chemical energy back to electrical energy (discharging), and the loss when converting electrical energy to mechanical energy (making the car go). Now that’s a lot of loss.

The energy densities of batteries are far below that of oil, which has built and powers modern economies. Hydrogen has high energy density, but is a storage medium and energy sink. Ethanol has about two-thirds the energy by volume as gasoline, but it requires a big oil input to make it. Are these sources going to keep the petroleum civilization going? Fagettaboutit.

I hope Tom Whipple keeps writing about peak oil. But I also hope he looks more closely at the false promise of electric cars.

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