Elaine Meinel Supkis
Once again, the fuel for inflation is fuel itself. A Canadian reader of this news service sent me a story about Canada's evolving energy markets and how the strong Loonie is making problems. Another reader's son is interested enough in energy issues to spend a considerable amount of his own money on election ads. And a storm in the Gulf of Mexico threatens oil rigs. Also, readers sent me alternative energy proposals that are really dangerous and approach the idea that we should sacrifice this planet in amazing ways so we can consume energy.
Crude oil climbed above $93 a barrel for the first time, extending this month's gain to 16 percent, after Mexico shut a fifth of its production and the dollar fell to a record low.
State-owned Petroleos Mexicanos, the third-largest supplier of crude to the U.S., halted about 600,000 barrels a day of output as a storm barreled through the Gulf of Mexico, spokesman Carlos Ramirez said in Mexico City. The dollar dropped to $1.4426 per euro, the weakest since the introduction of the 13- nation common currency in 1999.
There is now a lot of proof that dollars no longer are the basis for oil trading. Namely, every time oil is constricted in some way, the price shoots up more if paid in dollars than paid in euros. So inflation for anyone using or holding dollars is significantly higher than if they use euros. This dynamic is fairly recent. Ever since Greenspan dropped interest rates to 1%. The aftershocks of this stupid ploy to 'revive' the economy after the Dot Com collapse are still shaking world energy markets. The US itself is aggravating all this by dropping interest rates in the teeth of obvious inflation above 5% and threatening more wars in oil pumping regions.
The speaker of Iraq's Parliament has warned Turkey that his government would cut off the flow of oil from northern Iraq if Ankara followed through on its threat to level economic sanctions against the country.
The pipeline used to ship oil from Kirkuk in northern Iraq to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan has been repeatedly targeted by insurgents.
Mahmoud al-Mashhadani's comments came on Thursday, a day after Turkey's top leadership agreed to recommend that the government take economic measures to force the cooperation of Iraqis against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been staging cross-border attacks against Turkish troops.
The explosive mess in the oil-rich regions continues. The Europeans yelp if Russia uses oil as a political tool but everyone does this. It is natural and to be expected. Iraq still uses the dollar for oil sales. This is part of the reason why the US attacked in the first place. Saddam was decoupling oil from the dollar. When Iran threatened to do this, Europe reacted swiftly and begged Iran not to do this and then the US threatened Iran but now the cat has won and is out of the bag, so to speak: all the major oil pumping nations are no longer using the dollar as a peg but are holding euros, not dollars.
Turkey is trying to become part of the European Union but the US doesn't want this, we want Turkey to use the dollar, not the euro. The US wants the dollar to be weaker against manufacturing nations, not oil pumping nations. But the dynamics of international trade are flowing against us. So we get the reverse.
Ms. Taylor takes pains to stress that no decisions have yet been made. But the mere fact that the Finance Minister is even talking aloud about a carbon tax sends two clear messages. First, the province is serious about tackling climate change, even if other parts of its environmental record are decidedly less green. Second, the government is not afraid to say what everyone knows: Consumers, not just businesses, will have to bear the costs of reducing greenhouse gases.
The straight talk is a marked contrast to Quebec and its faux carbon tax that came into effect earlier this month. It is an anemic effort, designed to generate just $200-million a year. More to the point, the Quebec government took the questionable position of reassuring voters that companies, not consumers, would pay the tax. That is impossible since added costs will flow through to the consumer, particularly in a commodity business such as retail fuels. The attempt to argue otherwise simply underscores how frightened most governments are of asking Canadians for even a minimal sacrifice - and highlights just how radical a path British Columbia is contemplating.
The other dynamics of our global energy systems is of course, how we are burning millions of years of stored carbon which is now reentering the climate, changing the atmosphere. All the by-products of using ancient solar energy trapped within organic dead matter are polluting the atmosphere. For example, sulfur. The early atmosphere of the planet was quite sulfurous. We incorporate this within our cells and the beginning of life meant using all the minerals and molecules abundant within the biosphere which was not anything like it is today. Unlike methane, for example, the biofuels we are burning have a very complex chemistry. Using this means releasing a lot of stuff taken out of the atmosphere and oceans and re-introducing it, RAPIDLY. Unlike burning trees that grew recently, when we heat houses with biofuels created by the earth crushing zillions of slimey, dead critters that lived millions of years ago, the number of cells being consumed is much more concentrated. For every 1,000 cells of wood we are seeing millions of cells which is why the BTUs from these compressed cells are far higher than wood, for example.
Since cells have so many different elements, the release of these are endangering our biosphere which is based on growing life forms capturing all these things and using them and taking them out of the atmosphere. For example, when I was young, going to LA was like going back to pre-Precabrian earth: the sky was yellow with sulfur dioxides, the air, virtually unbreathable. Plants tried desperately to filter out the sulfurous air and it was hard to breathe. The US pollutes the air badly and if we have stagnant conditions and can't send our sulfurous mess elsewhere, the air rapidly becomes primitive and we can't breathe. This is, needless to say, killing my trees. Acid rain is terrible for them as well as fishes, etc. We can't re-introduce these ancient elements in the quantity we are doing right now because it will obviously make our planet unihabitable in the long run.
But the 'carbon tax' is a fraud if the goal is to cut pollution. For the people wishing to pollute created this stupid scheme whereby they 'sell' their 'carbon tax' and so, may continue to pollute. This way, nothing real is changed except everyone can be happy, pretending we are solving a dire problem. Only this is as delusional as selling relics and pardons in Medieval Europe. Money is exchanged and everyone is happy but the sinners are still going to hell. This led eventually to the breakdown of the Church and the Reformation. Which ended up killing many people in raging wars, of course.
Canada's petroleum industry is facing a perfect storm of ill effects. These are five in number: First, the Canadian dollar is at its highest level against the dollar in 30 years. Second, the natural gas industry is in the tank. Third, environmental issues are getting critical. Fourth, industrial inflation is rocketing out of sight. And finally, governments have become greedy - very greedy. Let’s look at these points one at a time.
1. Exchange Rates: Since 2001, the Canadian dollar has risen from just over 60 cents per US dollar, when our loonie was called the "northern peso", to $1.04 today. During the same period, oil (priced in US dollars) has tripled in value.
These parallel movements have had some curious effects. Oil prices for Americans have more than tripled, based on nominal, US dollar, prices. In Canada, however, they have "only" doubled. That's a big increase, of course, but it's more modest than in the rest of the world.
This is a long but very good article. A lot of research and care went into it and I learned a lot about Canada's energy politics and systems from it. During the cheap oil years which was when Russia was being looted of all its resources, Canada and Mexico struggled. Now that oil is expensive, both nations are raking in lots of money. Since everything is based on the dollar, the dying dollar coupled with rising fuel prices is causing all sorts of unintended changes. The dynamics of this monetarist/free trade system can't hold long if the basis of it, the dollar, becomes too destabilized and too weak. The dollar can't act like the Mexican peso all the time. For the last 35 years, we have peso-ized the dollar and this has led to the collapse of modern industrial systems here in the US. The transfer of money, power and industry to China is directly connected to our attempts at fixing our financial energy problems via weakening the dollar.
This is one of the many images in this article. It shows the wishful thinking of the guys who calculate future world oil production for the World Bank and other organizations. It doesn't take into account the reality of declining world oil produciton.
Of course, if Greenland and Antarctica are available for oil exploitation, this changes everything. But it won't increase world oil production, it will only make up for losses elsewhere.
Just like we fixed our energy consumption pollution by sending it to China. Via the transfer of factories to there. Our air is now cleaner but the planet's air isn't. The sulfur being released by burning oil and coal is increasing, not decreasing. The mercury content being released into the atmosphere and water is increasing in mass and volume, not decreasing. All the stuff within our cellular structure are benign if released slowly and organically. Burning many millions of years of organic chemistry is a catastrophe.
Canada, like Mexico, is trapped in a web of many past contracts which were written when oil was cheap. On top of this, the oil used in Eastern Canada must be imported while Western Canada sells it oil to the US directly, it being easier to send it south versus across Canada. Just like it is easier to sell oil from Alaska to Asia. Indeed, both the US and Canada sell oil to Asia. The taxes and royalties for all minerals and biofuels run the US and Canadian governments and are of course, not enough. Indeed, the tax boosts one gets from manufacturing always is better then from resources. This is because not only does the government tax the product and the business but also all those workers! Only countries with a very small population base and a large raw resource base can flourish using only the sale of commodities like oil or copper. And inflation is bad for manufacturing, not good. It is great if one is selling raw materials! Which is why we see depression of wages in manufacturing and inflation of all raw materials. This puts a double squeeze on the economic systems and leads to economic collapse. As we note here on our news service.
Canada has a large population compared to say, Dubai. So they must have manufacturing in order to flourish, they can't depend on selling energy to the US any more than the US can run an economy that imports much more than it exports.
For the past two weeks, readers of the state's biggest newspapers may have noticed some unusual advertisements. The full-page ads, with their stripped-down design, lacking flair or photographs, deliver a blunt message: Support Mike Gravel, the former Alaska senator campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Wait a minute. How is Gravel, who's struggled to raise money and is waaaaay in back of the pack, able to afford full-page ads in the Union Leader, Nashua Telegraph and Concord Monitor day after day?
He can thank Gregory Chase.
This is Chase's first foray into politics. A registered independent who grew up in Lexington, Mass., he describes himself as a numbers and data guy. He earned two physics degrees from Harvard and spent several years as an oil and foreign exchange trader in New York and London. He now lives in Nashua and runs a currency-trading hedge fund with his brother.
His time working in energy trading convinced Chase that America's dependence on foreign oil is misguided. He supports a sharp increase in the gas tax to encourage investment in alternate fuel sources. When he heard Gravel support a similar position in one televised debate this summer, Chase was smitten.
One of the readers here is the father of this ambitious young man. I am happy to see someone is taking active measures to support politicians in an election. Unlike lobbyists and big corporate givers who surround the top Presidential players, Mr. Chase isn't buying favors. He looked at someone's agenda and is now supporting them. Like myself, he wants taxes on the burning of biofuels raised so people migrate to alternative systems faster. This can hurt the poor so I support grants paying for alternative systems for the lower classes who can't afford $15,000 retrograde changes. Senator Gravel is from an oil pumping state. I have a brother-in-law who works for Alaska's government. It is the last frontier of the old Wild West.
And like that place and time, few people there understand the dynamics of value-added production! The US government has to set up an emergency Bureau of Alternative Energy Production that must shove businesses into alternative systems as much as possible. I would strongly suggest the manufacturing of these systems be here, not in China. It touches me greatly to see the enthusiasm of young people seeking solutions but the problem is, politicians are caught in this web. Just as Ross Perot correctly heard the giant sucking sound, so it is here: the solutions won't work if they are also endorsing the hollowing out of our industrial base and low taxes. The desire to spend money while not paying the piper is still very, very strong. We want to have our cakes and eat it and then throw up all over the planet.
There is no infinte energy nor infinite spending. We have to pay off a considerable mountain of debt run up by our government during the Wild West tax cutting mania. The GOP created too much debt to cut taxes. The Alaskans who think they can continue this was are insane. The entire GOP wants desperately to continue spending like there is no tomorrow. And tomorrow is not only knocking at our door, it is the Grim Reaper if we continue to cut taxes on the rich. After all, this can't be displaced onto the poor! And if the plan is to kill off the poor by freezing or staving them to death, all we have to do is read China and Russia's history: do this during a war and you get a revolution. Hell, look at the history of France! And better, the UNITED STATES! The taxes irked the colonists not because of the taxes but because of the laws outlawing industrial production. For example, it was illegal to produce glass or cast bells!
The Liberty Bell was cast in defiance of the King. The Corning glass works was launched with the Revolution. Industrial production is very much tied into our revolution as it is with all the other revolutions.
It's the biggest disconnect in the world's auto industry: Though government, scientists and consumers all call for cleaner, higher-mileage vehicles, that green chorus can still be drowned out by the roar of a V-8.
Hybrids and alternative fuels are gaining a foothold, but the early 21st century has also brought an unparalleled golden age for powerful internal combustion cars. The most potent muscle cars of the '60s look positively shriveled compared to today's high-tech machines that put out 600 horsepower or more.
Despite volatile gas prices and massive publicity for hybrids, fuel mileage is still not top-of-mind for most buyers. In a 2007 study by J.D. Power, nearly 100,000 car buyers ranked fuel economy as only their eighth-highest priority, trailing not only the leading issue of reliability, but also vehicle performance and image.
And what are all the rich people wanting tax cuts doing? Why, they are buying very expensive cars and zooming about, merrily! And the majority of Americans imitate them. Everyone is quite addicted to the joys of being King of the Road even if this means destroying the entire planet earth. We just want to go fast, go far and go nuts. Raw power is quite addictive. Indeed, the more 'efficient' something becomes, the more dangerous since we like to exploit efficiency and power.
An innovative football helmet was developed to protect football players from concussions, media reported Sunday.
Vin Ferrara, a former Harvard quarterback, got the idea when he happened to notice the construction of a ribbed, plastic bottle that squirted a saline solution into the sinuses. He started pounding the bottle and found it absorbed blows from all directions and different forces with equal effectiveness.
"This is it," Ferrara declared. Three years later, his squirt bottle has led to a promising new technology to protect football players from concussions.
This is a fine example of how this principal works: back in the Stone Age of football, no one wore any protection so if one banged into each other, it HURT. So there was elementary caution. To protect players, all sorts of things were added: shoulder pads and leather helmets in the 1920's, for example. With each layer of protection, the violence grew. The Four Horsemen rampaged when they got their new gear, for example.
As the game evolved, the deadly level rose with each innovation. When hard helmets were used, the players used them to ram into each other directly, so the padding grew until they are all padded up and increasingly, like warriors in the Middle Ages, are moving towards full body armor. When I see football on TV, I have not only winced watching the mayhem but I also call it 'Males Only General Hospital'. The wounded are removed by stretchers as the carnage continues.
So it is with all systems: safety systems usually are used as a means for upping the ante. This is why limits are imposed by Nature and not Man. We can't help it: we want to forwards and upwards forever. Like Icarus.
Mechanical energy is produced when heat is carried upward by convection in the atmosphere. A process for producing a tornado-like vortex and concentrating mechanical energy where it can be captured is proposed. The existence of tornadoes proves that low intensity solar radiation can produce concentrated mechanical energy. It should be possible to control a naturally occurring process. Controlling where mechanical energy is produced in the atmosphere offers the possibility of harnessing solar energy without having to use solar collectors.
The Atmospheric Vortex Engine (AVE) is a process for capturing the energy produced when heat is carried upward by convection in the atmosphere. The process is protected by patent applications and could become a major source of electrical energy. The unit cost of electrical energy produced with an AVE could be half the cost of the next most economical alternative.
A reader sent me this web site. I was totally horrified. The drawings and diagrams look EXACTLY like black holes! The astonishing similarity reminds me of this frightful fact: humans, seeking power will end up creating a black hole here on earth. More than one SF writer has speculated about this. The dangers of such systems are obvious to me: their very open-endedness is their tragic weakness! Reconfiguring nature in this fashion has so many potential side effects, most of them just as subtle as the releasing of a billion years of mercury storage and sulfur containment, it is just so hard to foresee yet is also obvious at the same time.
When biofuels was first launched, I and others knew that this is simply going to lead to the enslavement of millions, we see this already in sugar fields in Brazil, for example, and the starvation of billions. Biofuels will cruelly destroy many lives but the drivers of fast muscle cars won't care. They are on display every bit as much as the cruel chivalry of Medieval Europe trotting about Europe, breaking spears while the peasants toiled in the fields and paid crushing taxes.
I remember when nuclear energy was proposed. The proponents claimed energy would be so cheap, it would be nearly free. All the warnings of the downsides were brushed aside. We can clearly see these downsides now. France and Japan have huge nuclear energy systems up and running and they haven't collapsed...yet. But are like a dragon curled in its cave, we fear it and in Japan, when the earth shakes, the dragon awakes and becomes vicious.
Tapping into the energy of the atmosphere by creating basically a tornado will muck with the basic weather systems in ways we cannot forsee. I would suggest this will definitely change the rain patterns. Worse, it could become, when a front arrives, the equivelent of a hurricane! For if you add the energy of a powerful storm system to a vortex you get...hurricanes! If the hurricane is nailed to one spot and winds rise to 300 mph, even this facility may be destroyed, god willing.
In the early 2000's, the Australian company EnviroMission proposed building a 200 MW capacity solar chimney in Mildura south west Australia. The chimney was planned to have a height of 1 km and a diameter of 130 m. The solar collector would have a diameter of 7 km. The estimated cost of the Australian solar chimney is $800 million.
The power output of the proposed Enviromission solar tower would be 4000 times the power output of the Manzanares solar chimney for several reasons: the tower is five times higher than Manzanares chimney, the area of the collector is 700 times larger, and because exit kinetic energy losses are a smaller portion of the ideal work.
I am a huge fan of people producing their own energy. We don't need huge energy systems in residential communities. Instead, people can be their own generators of energy. Cities are hotter than vegative countryside so soaking up solar energy via the rooftops isn't going to change the city's climate any worse than it is already. It certainly won't create mega-storms. The tower idea is for ONLY value-added manufacturing, I would imagine. Doing this so we can live in our present environmental envelopes is pure madness. We want to be comfortable but if we can't do this via solar panels on roofs then we should do without this, ie, live like humans have lived for eons.
The thermodynamic basis of the AVE (Atmospheric Vortex Engine) and a solar chimney is virtually identical. However, the AVE has some significant advantages
1) A tall chimney is not required. The atmospheric vortex engine replaces the chimney with centrifugal force of a vortex to generate a "virtual" chimney. The construction of an extremely tall chimney (1 km as in the Enviromission proposal) is not required.
2) The height of a virtual "vortex chimney" could extend much higher into the atmosphere compared to a physical chimney structure. As the height of the vortex increases, the temperature of the cold source drops which increases the overall Carnot efficiency of the process.
3) A large solar collector is not required. Waste heat can be obtained from various sources such as from thermal power plants, waste heat from various industrial processes, or simply ground level heat from solar radiation received at the earth's surface in its unaltered state.
As someone who has been hit by lightning and who has lived through a number of hurricanes and who has had tornadoes bounce over the roof more than once in my life, I am VERY leery of any system that involves the sort of dynamics this system proposes. And of course, this solves nothing if all we do is abuse the energy as we are doing today.