Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The path that Congress will not discuss - transition to post-growth

Deficit Reduction = Recession: "The best way forward would be, yes, to continue deficit spending, with the Federal Reserve buying up most new Treasury debt and rebating the interest to the government (as it has been doing with its QE programs) . . . but—crucially—to shift that spending toward supporting a transition to a post-growth economy. Downsize the financial industry with re-regulation and a tax on financial transactions. Organize a massive debt jubilee. Provide incentives for the development of local cooperative enterprises geared toward import substitution. Create make-work programs building low-energy public transit, constructing renewable energy infrastructure, and insulating homes. Train a generation of young ecologically savvy farmers and provide them with the land and tools they’ll need to succeed."
Growth or Austerity - the only options the U.S. Congress is considering. We need to recognize that growth is over, cheap oil has peaked. Don't wait for the federal government. There are many things you can do right now. Buy local, cut back on meat, reduce or eliminate car-driving, stay out of debt... and many more. We especially need people to join local civic organizations and advocate for free public transit. This will allow more people to go car-free, and stop exporting money for fuel.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why the economy can't recover

We have a multi-trillion-dollar-fixed-capital, consumer-product-based, cheap-liquid-fuel-dependent system, autosprawl, that is beyond unsustainable, but still growing.

Austerity is not even an economic theory, rather just a grab for physical and social capital, so, no need to waste ink debunking it.

But what about growth? Why is money-printing not working? Because billions for road building and auto bailouts are speeding us in the wrong direction.

Cheap oil peaked in 2005. Every day the mix being sold is lower in net energy. Alternative fuels are even lower, have many problems, and cannot fill the liquid pipeline.

We can turn this ship around. Make public transit fare-free in your town or city. Gradually eliminate the private auto. This will lead to walkable, bikeable, urban life. Cities will be attractive and suburbs can become organic farms. If the savings are used for health and education, the birthrate will drop. We won't stop the collapse of capitalism, but we can ease the pain.

Cars are literally eating our lunch

IPS – Biofuels Converting U.S. Prairielands at Dust Bowl Rates | Inter Press Service: "Numerous incentives have encouraged the ploughing of grasslands. The federal system of financial payments to grain farmers has long encouraged conversion of grasslands to farms, but in recent years new subsidies for corn ethanol and other biofuel production have significantly stepped up this inducement."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Want to change the world, but afraid?

We humans have made a mess of things, and it is getting pretty scary. Many brave people are putting their lives on the line fighting to end financial terrorism and the fossil-fuel disaster. If you are afraid, then you are completely normal.

There is something you, in the U.S., can do without getting clubbed and arrested. Join your favorite local civic group and call for more public transit. Be sure to suggest making it fare-free to speed growth. If you are intimidated, try another group. You will find friends and expand your horizons.

When public transit reaches a certain level of use, it will break the critical mass of the auto-sprawl system. This will expose the subsidy of that system, currently seen by many as necessity, as waste. We can then start emptying cities of cars and make them attractive.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

North American oil producers in impossible price squeeze

North American oil producers need to export to keep prices up. But high oil price destroys demand through recession. There is no way out. What is left of cheap oil is depleting quickly. Soon oil products will be rationed by price or fiat.

There is something you can do. Become a free-transit advocate in your town. Contact your favorite civic group and get involved.

For a good understanding of oil and fuel prices, read this article by Chris Nelder:

America’s oil choice: Pay up, or get off | SmartPlanet: "Higher prices may bring more supply, but it will also hasten the nation’s economic contraction, and merely keep it dependent on fuels that will eventually go into global production decline. Peak oil is here, costumed as oil prices that are too high for comfort, yet still not high enough."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Groundbreaking Reports Show Fracking is a Risky Short-Term Bubble – EcoWatch: Uniting the Voice of the Grassroots Environmental Movement

Groundbreaking Reports Show Fracking is a Risky Short-Term Bubble – EcoWatch: Uniting the Voice of the Grassroots Environmental Movement:

What emerges from the data:
  • Overall field decline rates are so steep that 30-50 percent of shale gas production and 40 percent of shale oil production must be replaced annually to offset declines.
  • High productivity shale plays are not ubiquitous. Just six plays account for 88 percent of shale gas production and two plays account for 80 percent of shale oil production. Furthermore the most productive areas constitute relatively small sweet spots within these plays.
  • Maintaining production requires high rates of high-cost drilling—8,600 new wells annually for shale gas and oil. This will increase as sweet spots are drilled off.
  • High drilling rates require extremely high rates of investment—$48 billion a year to maintain shale gas and oil production considering drilling costs alone—much more if full cycle costs are included. These costs will increase dramatically as plays age.
  • Wall Street promoted the shale gas drilling frenzy, which resulted in prices lower than the cost of production and thereby profited [enormously] from mergers & acquisitions and other transactional fees.
  • Shale gas has become one of the largest profit centers in some investment banks, in direct parallel with the decline of natural gas prices.
  • Due to extreme levels of debt, stated proved undeveloped reserves (PUDs) may have been out of compliance with SEC rules at some shale companies because of the threat of collateral default for some operators.
  • Saturday, February 16, 2013

    The Real Reason the Economy Is Broken (and Will Stay That Way) | Peak Prosperity

    The Real Reason the Economy Is Broken (and Will Stay That Way) | Peak Prosperity: "As I see it, the economy is broken and it will stay that way.  Our only hope for an alternative would be to immediately cut our losses in those enterprises that do not make sense in a world of increasingly expensive liquid fuels, and invest heavily in those things that will help us transition to a future without fossil fuels."

    'via Blog this'

    Oil industry in desperate propaganda war for hearts and minds of investors

    BP Energy Outlook: why the oil giant's forecasts are flawed - CSMonitor.com: "As it turns out, the BP Energy Outlook 2030 is not a statistical or scientific document, but rather a political one. It is not a statement about the way the world is so much as about the way BP wishes it to be over the next 20 years. "

    'via Blog this'

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    The recovery is fake, just like the fiscal "crisis." Inequality increasing. via @thinkprogress

    The Richest 1 Percent Have Captured 121 Percent Of Income Gains During The Recovery | ThinkProgress: "How is it possible for the 1 percent to capture more than all of the nation’s income gains? The number is due to the fact that those at the bottom saw their incomes drop. As Timothy Noah explained in the New Republic, “the one percent didn’t just gobble up all of the recovery during 2010 and 2011; it put the 99 percent back into recession.”"

    https://twitter.com/thinkprogress

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

    What's good, bad, in human transportation

    Good
    • Fare-free transit - breaks the back of autosprawl critical mass.
    • Car sharing - allows people to live without car ownership
    • Bike sharing/bike lanes - promotes car-free lifestyles
    • Walkability - this should be the goal of all other plans
    • Gardens/Farmers Markets with local food - less driving to supermarkets
    • Good schools - reduce suburban flight and consequent commuting
    Bad
    • New subways - take people underground to allow cars on surface
    • Bus rapid transit - in most cases supports suburban commuting and makes city more dangerous
    • Bus on shoulder - seriously?
    • HOT/HOV lanes - promotes inequality, tries to make the unworkable road system work
    • Road pricing/tolls - squeezes the people for more money to keep roads working
    • Solar panels/insulation for sprawl houses - avoids the problem - promotes inequality
    • HSR - solving the wrong problem first, divisive

    Mixed:

    Rail projects, including HSR, can be good or bad, depending on whether they promote car-free living or are just trying to preserve the suburbs.

    What about shouting "no fire" in a burning house? Free speech?

    Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks | Environment | guardian.co.uk: "Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned."

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

    Tips from #transition leaders on how to respond to negativity

    How tough is your skin?: "“I developed a thick skin. I recognised that in fact as personal as this might seem, it is in fact not personal. It is part of an orchestrated campaign of intimidation and disinformation, and you have a role, a role not to give in to those intimidation tactics, to not just roll over, to be out there defending yourself, defending the science. In some ways it was almost invigorating, or I at least allowed myself to feed on that in as positive a way as I could”." -- Michael Mann

    Click here to read whole article

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

    Turkey: #freetransit for elderly, disabled, and veterans

    People older than 65-years-old and all disabled people 
    will be able to use public transportation for free. Hürriyet photo
    Turkish PM heralds free public services for old and disabled people: "Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Feb. 12 a series of new measures such as free public services for the transportation of the families of deceased soldiers, veterans and for elderly people, increased employment of disabled people by state institutions, as well as increased employment of disabled people as teachers. "

    Tallinn, Estonia, with #freetransit, automobile traffic drops 10% in one month

    Tallinn claims 10% drivers choose free public transport :: The Baltic Course | Baltic States news & analytics: "Rüütelmaa considered decrease of automobiles' flow by 10% in Tallinn to be an excellent result.
     "

    'via Blog this'

    Sunday, February 10, 2013

    How to fix #climatechange and #energy

    Make public transit free. More people will ride. Cities will become more attractive. Gradually eliminate cars from the city. At this point the critical mass of automobile-based travel will be broken. The massive highway-sprawl-refinery infrastructure will be seen for the burden that it is.

    There will be tremendous savings from the elimination of externalized auto costs. No more need for ugly parking hi-rises, no more lost productivity in traffic jams. Use these savings to provide education and health to all. Give the suburbs to the organic farmers.

    The birth rate will drop.

    Cities that adopt this plan will jump ahead of others in economy and quality of life.

    Dropping demand for fossil fuel will take political power away from the industry.

    People will expect and demand sanity in urban living.

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    If nations stick to climate targets, oil and gas companies will lose 60% of market value

    HSBC: Oil majors at risk from 'unburnable' reserves - 29 Jan 2013 - News from BusinessGreen: "Oil and gas majors, including, BP, Shell, and Statoil, could face a loss in market value of up to 60 per cent should the international community stick to its agreed emission reduction targets, analysts at HSBC have warned."

    'via Blog this'

    Friday, February 8, 2013

    Each gallon of gasoline costs 13 gallons of water

    The Perils of Ignoring the Water-Energy Nexus: "It’s one of the most inconvenient truths of modern times that it takes increasing amounts of finite water to supply energy and increasing amounts of climate-disrupting energy to supply water.  And too often our search for solutions to one set of challenges is making the other set worse."