Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Supply-side environmentalism will fail, because #itsthedemand

Let's say a solar project uses x units of energy. That project is promoted as "saving" x units of fossil fuel. But the x units that were not purchased on the fossil fuel market are now available for purchase for another use. This means that the solar project has either 1. allowed more growth with no change to fossil fuel use, or 2. has freed up x units of fossil fuel energy for use, reducing pressure for price increases.

In either case, nothing was done to reduce demand for energy.

As long as humans believe that growth is good, there will be strong demand for energy, and higher net energy sources will be used first. As long as there is demand, all efficiencies will be consumed per the Jevons principle.

What to do? First let's decide what best reduces demand. Then, let's ask how to get there with the least pain for the 99 percent.

Why free transit?

The current autosprawl system, which is spreading like cancer around the world, is heavily subsidized by deferring costs and externalizing them from corporate balance sheets and passing them to the taxpayer, the biosphere, and the future. This subsidy allows demand to grow. It is false demand.

But this system has an Achilles heel. It depends on a consumer product, the private auto, having critical mass as the mode of human transport. Free buses are the main thing that can break this critical mass. Once broken, cars will lose economy of scale, and the subsidy will be seen as subsidy, and not as necessity.

We can then redirect the resources wasted on autosprawl subsidy to making cities attractive. We can provide more services such as education and health more easily with the economies of urban density. Carfree cities with good education and health services will cause birth rates to drop.

Demand-side environmentalism is the key to the future.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fare increases for public transport are self-defeating

Scoop News: "Today's revelation of fare increases proposed for Auckland buses after the rollout of Auckland Transport’s Hop card are particularly senseless and self-defeating.

This proposal will INCREASE traffic congestion as passengers swap to their cars to avoid the higher fares – up to three times as much in some cases.

It’s a senseless proposal and the opposite of what Auckland Transport should be doing.

We could end transport congestion in less than 12 months and at half the cost of new roads with Minto for Mayor’s plans for free and frequent public transport.

At the moment we have two bad alternatives – expensive travel by bus or car.

However making buses and trains fare-free will give Aucklanders two great choices – either take a free bus or train with free wifi or drive your car on a congestion-free road.

The road to the future is with Minto for Mayor."

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The peak demand fantasy "There is considerable discussion in energy optimist circles these days about how “peak demand” might occur, thereby slowing oil production to some kind of false peak. This of course is always tied to the increased efficiency with which we use oil and not to economic hard times during which fewer will be able to afford the increasingly expensive stuff. No one ever mentions the circa 70 million people that are being added to the world’s population each year who might like a little energy in their lives."
Can increased efficiency, or renewables reduce oil demand enough to ease the pressure on supply? So far, there has been no sign of it. Demand destruction has only happened due to economic recession. That is simply the effect of the correctly predicted peak of cheap oil in 2005.

And as long as capitalism continues, and population grows, demand for any energy will continue. What happens when that demand cannot be satisfied? We already know. Economic recession, mass unemployment, homelessness.

That leaves the question. Will there be a hard crash? The answer is that crashes come from bubbles being ignored. Right now, a new bubble of oil supply optimism is being inflated. The longer the bubble goes, the harder the crash.

Is there a solution? Yes.

make public transit fare free
make cities attractive, car-free, and safe
educate all children

This will cause birth rates to fall.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Growing global energy demand will negate all progress on #climatechange

Peak Oil News and Message Boards: "Global energy consumption will grow by 56 percent between 2010 and 2040, according to the report, released Thursday by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Renewable and nuclear energy are projected to grow the fastest, but fossil fuels will continue to dominate, making up 80 percent of world energy use through 2040.

...The result is increasing emissions. Worldwide, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will rise from about 31 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36 billion metric tons in 2020, according to EIA, and then to 45 billion metric tons in 2040. That’s a 46 percent increase over 30 years."

Tallinn, Estonia, offering to spread #freetransit to nearby towns

ERR: "In an interview with, Tallinn Deputy Mayor Taavi Aas said that the city is hoping to cooperate with surrounding municipalities and the state to extend the free public transport service.

Aas said Tallinn would gladly extend bus routes to nearby local governments, and allow residents of those municipalities to enjoy the perks of free transport, if the local governments were willing to co-finance the project.

He said an agreement is in place with Viimsi, which is partially serviced by Tallinn's buses, but other municipalities, like Maardu, do not have the means to participate.

The city is cooperating with the Ministry of Economic Affairs in creating a more efficient park and ride system, which could allow residents of neighboring municipalities to use Tallinn's public transport for free, Aas said."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Country full of people who want #publictransit, but congress full of people who don't

Yahoo! News: "These policies, they say, are carried by powerful, well-established interests that back road-building over alternative transportation modes such as light rail, commuter buses and shuttles, bike paths, and pedestrian walkways.

“Starting in the mid-’90s, we started to see a structural shift in what the market wants. Unfortunately, how we fund the infrastructure system, the subsidies, the land-use laws—everything is geared to just delivering drivable suburban. The cards are stacked,” said Christopher Leinberger, a visiting fellow with the Brookings Institution.

“It’s because we have been subsidizing huge industries. You’ve got all the road builders, you’ve got the National Association of Realtors, the homebuilders, the office- and business-park people, and they all like their subsidies,” he said. “They fight back.”"

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

People who are saying #peakoil is dead are leaving out one thing. Data. - @nelderini

SmartPlanet: "But my bet is that U.S. and European consumers can’t tolerate significantly higher prices. Price tolerance is something that Cornucopians never talk about, so you won’t hear that argument from them. If I am correct on that point, then production will have to decline as prices become intolerable. By virtue of its upward pressure on price, unconventional oil production contributes to, not cures, peak oil."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BBC reads geophysics report, draws opposite conclusion that just happens to match oil industry propaganda

Nafeez Ahmed | ""Global production of crude oil and condensates... has essentially remained on a plateau of about 75 million barrels per day (mb/d) since 2005 in spite of a large increase in the price of oil. Even more important, the global net oil exports from oil-exporting countries (oil production minus internal consumption) have peaked and are in decline.""
We add that the plateau of production is inflated by measuring in barrels instead of energy units, and biofuels have been added in as well by most publishers of this data.

The oil industry is living on a bubble. If investors realize that much of what is being counted as reserves will never be able to get to market, there could be a crisis of confidence and a loss of value.

This is why there is a massive propaganda campaign. Unfortunately, many so-called scientists and journalists are complicit.

To keep up with the actual facts about oil and energy in general, we recommend these writers:

Reports of Peak Oil’s Death Are Somewhat Premature

From Center for a Stateless Society:

America’s 20th century economy developed largely by adding more and more inputs of artificially cheap resources, guaranteed by the state, rather than by using resources more efficiently. The fossil fuel economy and everything dependent on it — mass production factories supplying distant markets, suburban sprawl, the car culture — was essentially a free rider on this artificial abundance created by the state. And now even the state is realizing that there are limits to its resources.

Meanwhile, a recent IMF study found that simply eliminating government subsidies to fossil fuels would reduce carbon emissions 13% worldwide. That’s not even counting subsidies to specific forms of energy consumption, like the U.S. civil aviation system and Interstate Highway System.

If climate change is a real problem — and I believe it is — it’s not something the government needs to fix. It’s something the government needs to stop causing.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Arctic permafrost has 4 times as much carbon as humans have released since 1850 "Permafrost (perennially frozen) soils underlie much of the Arctic. Each summer, the top layers of these soils thaw. The thawed layer varies in depth from about 4 inches (10 centimeters) in the coldest tundra regions to several yards, or meters, in the southern boreal forests. This active soil layer at the surface provides the precarious foothold on which Arctic vegetation survives. The Arctic's extremely cold, wet conditions prevent dead plants and animals from decomposing, so each year another layer gets added to the reservoirs of organic carbon sequestered just beneath the topsoil.

Over hundreds of millennia, Arctic permafrost soils have accumulated vast stores of organic carbon - an estimated 1,400 to 1,850 petagrams of it (a petagram is 2.2 trillion pounds, or 1 billion metric tons). That's about half of all the estimated organic carbon stored in Earth's soils. In comparison, about 350 petagrams of carbon have been emitted from all fossil-fuel combustion and human activities since 1850. Most of this carbon is located in thaw-vulnerable topsoils within 10 feet (3 meters) of the surface."

Continue reading... Is a sleeping climate giant stirring in the Arctic?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Economists forecast the end of growth

Nafeez Ahmed: "Resources might eventually increase their costs at 9% a year, in which case "the US will reach a point where all of the growth generated by the economy is used up in simply obtaining enough resources to run the system." Within 11 years, under this scenario, "the economic system would be in reverse.""

'via Blog this'

Friday, July 19, 2013

Insurance industry takes lead in 1% split from oil industry

Insurance Industry, Republicans Split on Climate Change - Bloomberg: "The U.S. insurance industry told Senators that a surge in weather-related catastrophes has forced billions of dollars in payouts, offering an assessment at odds with Republicans who have expressed doubt about global warming."

Cars and sprawl are a waste of money

More efficient urban transportation could save $70 trillion by 2050: "Policies that improve the energy efficiency of urban transport systems could help save as much as USD 70 trillion in spending on vehicles, fuel and transportation infrastructure between now and 2050, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.
Among the three broad categories of policies recommended in the report are those that allow travel to be avoided, those that shift travel to more efficient modes, and those that improve the efficiency of vehicle and fuel technologies. The report notes that if fully implemented across the transportation sector, this “avoid, shift and improve” approach could save up to USD 70 trillion in terms of lower spending on oil, roadway infrastructure and vehicles."
 In other words, if we don't end autosprawl, we will continue to throw money down a hole.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

John Minto: free and frequent buses cheaper than road projects

NZ Herald News: "We all know the problems with Auckland traffic, but the Government's solution - roads, roads and more roads with a smaller chunk for public transport in seven years' time - is a dead-end answer from the 1950s.

Mana's solution is free and frequent buses and trains with free WiFi, which would all cost less than half the proposed spending on big roading projects. Most importantly, it would deliver gridlock-free travel in less than 12 months. No rates increases, no extra fuel taxes, no road tolls, just two great choices - travel on free public transport without traffic congestion or drive a car on gridlock-free roads. The choice is yours. And we'd be helping the environment at the same time. Fifty-six per cent of Auckland's greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and trucks. Public transport is far cleaner and greener and would significantly reduce Auckland's carbon footprint."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One of the many "alternatives" to #freetransit

The Oil industry is extremely capital intensive. By capital we mean not just money, but fixed assets: trucks, pipelines, wells, ships and such. As well, oil depends on the same sort of fixed inventory for consumption: roads, parking lots, cars, gas stations, and such.

Most of what oil does, move people around in cars, or goods in trucks, can be done much more efficiently with trains and buses. But if this waste is reduced, demand will drop. If demand drops, prices could drop. The return on money sunk into fixed assets would drop. When oil price drops, reserves become resources. In other words, no longer recoverable at market price, they are no longer assets. A vicious cycle would begin. Lower return, lower asset value of product, while fixed assets cannot quickly be reduced.

Public transit is a very serious threat to the oil industry. Free transit raises this threat exponentially. This is why you see so many "alternatives" pop up when some one suggests free transit.

Road pricing is a favorite. Road pricing continues the myth that we are a pay-per-use society. The so-called "conservatives" love this. The irony of their hypocrisy is almost poetic. They hate bureaucracy, but nothing creates bureaucracy like putting a toll on everything. If you want to see a good example, drive on the Tri-State Tollway outside of Chicago. Dozens of farms have been paved over so cars can wait in eight lanes so 35 cents can be collected from each car.

There are many other "alternatives" and there is an army of paid oil trolls, and free wannabe trolls, in various corporate media, who are eager to put them forward.

Tallinn, Estonia, with free public transport 7,600 fewer cars in city of 425,000 people In only four month-time results are visible. About half of the Tallinners have already used the system. Traffic fell by 15% from December 2012 to January 2013 with an increase in public transport use of about 14%. This means approximately 7,600 fewer cars enter the city every day, reducing traffic jams and pollution. Interestingly the population of Tallinn seems to have been growing since the end of 2012, showing a correlation between the access to free public transport and the attractiveness of the city. A good news for the municipality who needs to cover up for the revenues previously earned with ticket sales.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Immediate benefits listed in press as Auckland considers #freetransit

Are Free Fares the White Knight for Transport in Auckland | Scoop News: "Some of the less direct benefits generally come from the fact that there is less cars on the road and can include:

No cash handling, faster boarding, plus, with fewer cars on the road:

  • Drastic decrease in emission of exhaust gases
  • Less noise
  • Less traffic jams
  • Better traffic safety
  • Enormous savings in energy and raw materials
  • Creation of new jobs
  • Efficient economical development
  • Considerably lower public and personal expenses
  • Empowering of social justice
  • Higher cultural dialogue
  • Creation of friendlier urban environment"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Free public transport can cure traffic congestion for less than half the cost of road-building

Minto slams proposals for $12 billion burden on Aucklanders | Scoop News: "Today’s announcement of proposals to raise another $400 million per year for 30 years ($12 billion in total) from Aucklanders to pay for huge roading projects is an outrage.

Early reports indicate that Mayor Len Brown’s “consensus building group” will today propose

·         rates increases
·         extra fuel taxes
·         congestion charges
·         motorway charges
·         toll roads
This is typical of the dull 1950s thinking that roads, roads and more roads will stop congestion. (Two thirds of this extra money will be for proposed roading projects)

Nowhere in the world has any city been able to tarseal its way out of gridlock.

Minto for Mayor’s proposal is for an end to gridlocked Auckland roads within 12 months at less than half the cost of Len Brown’s proposals."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Nothing has changed. Climate rages. Car sales climb. USA doubles down on bad ideas

Hyundai struggles to keep with demand in U.S. auto market: "Hyundai Motor Co.'s factories have reached their maximum capacity to build cars, and that's costing the company sales in a growing U.S. market, its American CEO said Friday."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Oil and the #waronwomen

Imagine you are a reporter attending an oil industry meeting with top investors... and you report:

Corporate News Network, Saturday, July 13, Chicago. A very private meeting at a very private club, and top oil investors hold a strategy session with top industry executives. Electoral politics is the topic. A veteran political strategist addresses the group:

"We are losing our electoral coalition, the anti-gay vote has almost dissolved, and this climate change business is not going away. What's worse, fewer and fewer young people can be counted on to vote our way based on race. The gun thing is misfiring."

"Social issues are difficult to manage, and the tea party has not succeeded in getting us away from them."

"We need to do something, and fast. We have billions in fixed assets at stake. We need people in government that will keep people driving cars, allow energy exports, and prevent any environmental legislative craziness."

"We still have our ace-in-the-hole, the Christians. We'll just have to double down. Let's have the Christians focus on re-building a moral majority. Tell the Christians to get women back under control. That should work."

All: "Amen."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Homeland Security used to terrorize people and protect frackers

Official: Water complaints could be 'act of terrorism': "NASHVILLE -- A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director warned a group of Maury County residents that unfounded complaints about water quality could be considered an "act of terrorism.""

Only one way to go for consumerism. Down. #degrowth

Resilience: "The economy isn’t coming back. On the contrary, it’s a patched-together mess on its way to the crapper. Though the Obama administration might crow about a tepid recovery, even today’s insufficient economy is itself a lie, propped up by governments printing money to buy their own bonds and simulate growth."

Mother nature is talking, are we listening? She is pointing right at the problem.

Climate Change Will Cause More Energy Breakdowns, U.S. Warns - "The effects are already being felt, the report says. Power plants are shutting down or reducing output because of a shortage of cooling water. Barges carrying coal and oil are being delayed by low water levels in major waterways. Floods and storm surges are inundating ports, refineries, pipelines and rail yards. Powerful windstorms and raging wildfires are felling transformers and transmission lines."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Traffic congestion cost was $120 Billion in 2012 - just one of many costs externalized from oil and auto profits

Highlights from the research illustrate the effects of the nation’s traffic problems:
  • The amount of delay endured by the average commuter was 38 hours, up from 16 hours in 1982.
  • The cost of congestion is more than $120 billion, nearly $820 for every commuter in the U.S.
  • “Rush hour”is six hours of notrushing anywhere.
  • Congestion is becoming a bigger problem outside of“rush hour,” with about 40 percent of the delay
  • occurring in the mid-day and overnight hours, creating an increasingly serious problem for businesses that rely on efficient production and deliveries.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Minto proposes free public transport for Auckland "Mana Movement Co-Vice President John Minto launched his campaign for the Auckland mayoralty today with a policy to give Aucklanders an extra hour at home with their family every work day by unclogging Auckland roads with free public transport.
Even Aucklanders who never ride a bus or set foot on a train will benefit through being able to drive on unclogged roads.

Government plans are to spend billions on new roads without reducing traffic gridlock - Mana’s plans are to spend half that amount AND unclog our roads."

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cars selling like hot cakes. Humans on a death course.

Car Ownership May Be Down in the U.S., But It’s Soaring Globally | Streetsblog Capitol Hill: "But globally, the trend is in the opposite direction, and it’s alarming. The world is producing more cars than ever. A new report from the Worldwatch Institute shows that automobile production hit a new high in 2012 — and 2013 is expected to surpass that record. “According to London-based IHS Automotive, passenger-car production rose from 62.6 million in 2011 to 66.7 million in 2012, and it may reach 68.3 million in 2013,” write Worldwatch’s Michael Renner and Maaz Gardeziin. “When cars are combined with light trucks, total light vehicle production rose from 76.9 million in 2011 to 81.5 million in 2012 and is projected to total 83.3 million in 2013.”"

'via Blog this'

Rural people stranded by car culture, economic decline

Transportation is key to access | Opinion | "Everyone drives a car? Not so.

People with disabilities, including those experiencing the limitations of advanced age, often do not drive. Children do not drive. People have medical procedures that leave them unable to drive. Others live in households where the sole auto is needed for someone else to get to work.

And, even in Centre County, some people have incomes so low that owning an automobile is beyond their reach. The list goes on."

Friday, July 5, 2013

Pain of peak oil is not spread evenly

Oil is being produced in north america from tar sands and from tight oil fracking. This oil is not economical. Cheap oil, conventional oil, peaked in 2005 as predicted. These new sources, unconventional oil, are economically unsustainable.

So, why is unconventional oil being produced, and where is the money coming from?

The production and consumption of oil comprises massive fixed capital assets. It is not possible to gradually convert these assets. Millions of cars and trucks cannot suddenly be changed over to run on solar power. A pipeline cannot be used to carry wind. Since these assets cannot be sold or gradually converted, any reduction in use represents a loss of profit. They must be used at fullest possible capacity. Hence the glut of oil in Oklahoma. The high extraction costs mean that production must run as fast as possible. There is a virtuous circle of more production keeps price from destroying demand, which makes production justifiable, which allows more in-ground oil to be considered reserves (assets), which justifies more investment.

Any reduction in demand turns this virtuous cycle into a vicious cycle in the other direction.

Where does the money come from?

The money for unconventional oil is coming from the money gained from the falling wages. Labor is made cheap by having many applicants for each job. This cheap labor is the basis for optimism in finance to increase debt to produce oil that interest on debt will be paid from future profits gained from continued cheap labor in the future.

So money is being taken from workers wages to maintain an oil system that is inflexible. Because the oil system is currently still profitable and transport still runs, this is said to be economically successful. Some will benefit greatly, many will keep their jobs a little longer, but the suffering and numbers of the poor will grow.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Here is why, in the middle of floods and fire, the corporate media cannot say the words #climatechange

Bonds | Carbon Tracker Initiative:

  • "Adjusting the price and demand assumptions to reflect lower emissions levels results in risk of downgrades for pure oilsands operators.
  • This scenario puts pressure on cashflows which may result in dividends being cut or projects being cancelled.
  • But more fundamentally it questions the business model going forward of investing more capital in tarsands.
  • The three oilsands operators analysed have issued US$13.6 billion of corporate bonds, with over 50% of these maturing post-2020. The companies may find a very different context to try and refinance any of the debt which matures in the next few years. The uncertainty around the bonds which mature out to 2042 is not reflected in the current short outlook of a 3-5 year credit rating outlook.
  • This research shows that credit ratings need to start looking at alternative futures, as a carbon constrained world will not see past performance of this sector be repeated."

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

We should pursue happiness, not wealth

TripleCrisis: "Since national income isn’t the same as well-being, growth in national income isn’t the same as improvement in well-being. All too often, this crucial distinction gets lost in acrimonious debates about the relationship between the economy and the environment."

Monday, July 1, 2013

AMERICA IS BURNING: Severe Drought Causes Rash Of Major Wildfires

SFGate: "Wildfires are a yearly occurrence in the western U.S., but they have been especially bad this year."

People of Egypt not fooled by latest puppet

Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi shout slogans against him and members of the Muslim Brotherhood during a demonstration in Tahrir square in Cairo June 30, 2013.