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Kunstler: Strange Days
James Howard Kunstler, blog
Even while a wave of reflex nausea washed over America last week, and the unemployment rolls swelled by much more than another half million, the greatest stock market suckers' rally in seventy years pulled in the last of the credulous. These are strange days. The earth is heaving and the buds swelling again -- at least north of the equator, where most of the action is -- and the global economy, which was supposed to be a permanent new add-on to the human condition, is sloughing away in big horrid gobs. But no one in charge of anything can believe it. The banking fiasco has introduced so much noise into the system that world leadership can't think straight.
What they're missing is real simple: peak oil means no more ability to service debt at all levels, personal, corporate, and government. End of story. All the other exertions being performed in opposition to this basic fact-of-life amount to a spastic soft-shoe performed before a smokescreen concealing a world of hurt. If the "quantitative easing" (money creation) and fiscal legerdemain (TARPs, TARFs, et cetera) happen to jack up the "velocity" of the new funny-money, and the world resumes its previous level of oil use, the price of oil would rise again -- this time astronomically because the previous crash of oil prices crushed the development of new oil projects to offset depletion -- and the global economy will crash again. Only the next phase of the disease is liable to move beyond the financial and into the social and political realms. Disorder of various kinds will rule -- toppled governments, civil unrest, international tension and conflict.
(6 April 2009)
Americans Support Wide Array of Proposed Energy Policies, but Not Yet Ready to Make Tradeoffs
Despite partisan debate, the American people find common ground on their support for a number of measures to address the nation’s energy problems. At least 10 major energy proposals that would provide incentives for energy efficiency, reduce gasoline usage and support alternative energy have widespread support. But the public may not yet be prepared for the tradeoffs and challenges needed to make these proposals a reality, according to a new survey, “The Energy Learning Curve(TM),” released by Public Agenda, the nonpartisan opinion research and citizen engagement organization.
The study, based on an in-depth national survey of 1,001 Americans, is being released in conjunction with “Planet Forward,” (www.planetforward.org) an innovative Web-to-television-to-Web initiative produced by the Public Affairs Project of The George Washington University, designed to advance the discussion on energy and climate change with both citizens and leaders submitting their ideas.
The public’s interest in energy alternatives is broad and not necessarily dependent on its worries about gas prices, according to the survey. Three quarters of the public (73%) disagrees with the statement that “if we get gas prices to drop and stay low, we don’t need to be worried about finding alternative sources of energy,” and 53% “strongly disagree.” While the survey found consensus on many aspects of the energy challenge, there are also significant barriers in building public support for change.
(6 April 2009)
LNG promoters should forget about California
Thomas Elias, Press Telegram (Long Beach, California)
Memo to NorthernStar Natural Gas, Woodside Energy, Mitsubishi Corp. and other would-be developers of liquefied natural gas facilities in California and elsewhere on the West Coast:
Forget it. At least for another decade or two.
That's a message they should have gotten in the early days of last winter, when reports from the former George W. Bush administration's Energy Department and the staffs of two key state agencies concluded that neither California nor the United States in general will be needing more LNG anytime in the foreseeable future.
In fact, those reports predicted a huge drop in LNG imports over the next 20 years, with the federal experts expecting that LNG will account for just 3 percent of all natural gas used in America by 2030, compared with 16 percent today.
LNG is natural gas supercooled into liquid form, then taken across oceans by huge, specially-built tankers and eventually warmed back into gaseous form at receiving facilities, where it is pumped into existing pipeline systems.
Just in case the reports from the Energy Department and the state Energy and Public Utilities commissions weren't enough, along came new President Barack Obama with his theme of change. He certainly made a big one at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and he did it on only his third day in office last January.
That was when he appointed Jon Wellinghoff president of FERC, the agency that must approve all major energy transmission and pipeline projects anywhere in America.
(1 April 2009)