31 December 2009

Applied Materials Moves Solar Expertise to China

Here is another example of the changing leadership in the world economy:

The world's biggest supplier of solar-manufacturing equipment has opened a research and development center in China, and its chief technology officer will relocate from Silicon Valley to that country next month. Applied Materials, founded in 1967 as a semiconductor company, has manufactured in China for 25 years, but is expanding its presence to be closer to its customers and develop products suited to the country's urban population.

For the rest of the article click here.

29 December 2009

Any Red Flags Here?

Above you see a very interesting chart. It ought to be mailed to every American voter prior to the 2010 elections.

In this chart, you see US spending expressed as a percent of GDP. In the simplest terms, the steeper the climb, the more money the US is spending and borrowing.

You can see from the portions of the graph I have annotated that the times when the steepest climbs have historically come have been in times of great national stress - Civil War, World War 1, The Great Depression, World War 2, that is until the "Reagan Era" came about.

It is interesting to see that during the 12 years of Reagan/Bush 1 and again in the 8 year reign of Bush 2 we saw precipitous climbs in spending, but without a national crisis. The only decline in almost three decades came with the Clinton presidency. Clinton was rewarded for his foresight and political courage with the '94 loss of congress.

Now here we are, in a time of incredible national stress, a time which is on par with the Great Depression and one, which historically we would expect spending to go up, and the Obama administration is being pilloried with criticism of his increase in national spending.

What we need now is a call to all Progressives to work towards not only shoring up the democrats, but in replacing the blue dogs with green ones.

In 2010, the Repubes are going to strongly challenge Tom Periello and Rick Boucher, as they feel they are vulnerable. We need a strong, independent with national purpose to challenge Goodlatte. The best defense of Boucher (who is too right for my tastes) and Periello is to find someone to challenge Goodlatte in a strong way. What we need now is to increase the progressives in the congress and do not let the group think that the Dems will lose seats in 2010 take the wind out of our sails.

The repubes are wrong. It is that simple.

Do I hear any volunteers or nominations for Goodlatte's seat?

28 December 2009


27 December 2009

What our past energy use says about our future.

Below is a graph of per capita primary energy usage in Kg. of oil. What is instructive is to note the brief US dip after the '73 oil embargo and again after the '79 oil crisis. What you should also take from this is the relative lack of decrease per capita in almost any country, pointing out that energy is a very hard thing to ween away from. So what does this mean?

This means that the only way the human species is going to change is through force. That force can be many things from lack of available resources through over use, war or natural disaster or being forced to confront the cliff off which we as a species are insisting on hurling ourselves.

In my humble opinion, that latter won't happen, it is against the human tendency for selfishness and short sighted gratification, so that leaves the former. Where does that leave you and I. All I can say is be prepared to adapt and cope. Start transitioning now to lessen the shock later.

26 December 2009

25 December 2009

Ronnie Trash

24 December 2009

HO, Ho, ho

23 December 2009

What does Copenhagen mean for you?

The "climate summit" was a real fizzle. I think we all knew that the realistic chances of meaningful change being made was almost nil as the United States (25% producer of carbon emissions) never spent any real time making the climate talks a priority. Obama's last minute trip was way to little and way, way to late.

But, realistically, what did we expect?

So what do you and I do now? Well the same thing I have been pushing since I started this blog. It comes down to a simple concept:


So, let's commit ourselves to pursuing transition on a local level. Start a transition steering committee. Begin making the type of changes in your personal life that can be an example to neighbors.

Refuse to spend money in the Wal Marts and Targets of the world. Direct your spending toward local businesses, that sell local or fair trade products. Do not be seduced by cheap anything.

Shop in local food stores, farmers markets and as much as possible directly from the farmer.

Almost every developed nation is now seeing a locavore movement, plug in!

Folks, we know that the kind of change that is needed will not happen if we wait for government. The kind of change that will make a difference is beyond hope of being achieved, so at this point the call is to adapt and get out ahead of the curve.

Our Katuah bioregion is a great area to weather the coming storms (literally!).

Remember, make the start and begin the discussions because we do not know how long before the situation becomes critical!

22 December 2009

Neel Kashkari - Remember Him?

I came across a Washington Post article about Neel Kashkari. He is the thirty year old former Goldman-Sachs exec. that Henry Paulson brought with him to DC to be his aide. He is also the guy Paulson chose to put together the TARP program. Where is he now?


He checked out from DC and is living off the grid in the mountains on the California/Nevada border.

Get a clue folks!

21 December 2009

We Must Seize the Energy Opportunity or Slip Further Behind

I recently came across an article that laid out many of the arguments I have been putting forward about the United States lack of vision regarding investment in the "New Economy". I found it to be very succinct. Here is an excerpt:

we lag behind most of our competitors in the rest of the world in a four key ways.

We have no national energy portfolio standard that encourages clean, renewable power and shifts away from dirty and dangerous energy.
We have an outdated electrical grid unsuited for the task of carrying energy from regions rich in wind, solar, and geothermal potential to the people who need the energy.
We don’t make dirty energy companies pay for the pollution they pump into the air; in fact, we give them billions every year in tax breaks.
And we don’t invest enough in research, development, and deployment to inspire our entrepreneurs and leverage their discoveries by helping bring their bold new technologies to market.

Green portions of stimulus as percent of 2008 GDPUnited States lags other large developed nations in wind power capacity
Annual solar cell production

For the entire article click here.

20 December 2009

Peak Oil ~ Who Knew?

Prediction from 2003 proving true.

18 December 2009

2009 Sea Ice Update

17 December 2009

16 December 2009

Copenhagen climate change conference: 'Fourteen days to seal history's judgment on this generation'

Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted.

• How the Copenhagen global leader came about
• Write your own editorial
• The papers that carried the Copenhagen editorial
• In pictures: How newspapers around the world ran the editorial

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.

The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based.

Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.

But the politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. Next June's UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline. As one negotiator put it: "We can go into extra time but we can't afford a replay."

At the deal's heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and how we will share a newly precious resource: the trillion or so tonnes of carbon that we can emit before the mercury rises to dangerous levels.

Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so far. But the rich world is responsible for most of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere – three-quarters of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. It must now take a lead, and every developed country must commit to deep cuts which will reduce their emissions within a decade to very substantially less than their 1990 level.

Developing countries can point out they did not cause the bulk of the problem, and also that the poorest regions of the world will be hardest hit. But they will increasingly contribute to warming, and must thus pledge meaningful and quantifiable action of their own. Though both fell short of what some had hoped for, the recent commitments to emissions targets by the world's biggest polluters, the United States and China, were important steps in the right direction.

Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions. The architecture of a future treaty must also be pinned down – with rigorous multilateral monitoring, fair rewards for protecting forests, and the credible assessment of "exported emissions" so that the burden can eventually be more equitably shared between those who produce polluting products and those who consume them. And fairness requires that the burden placed on individual developed countries should take into account their ability to bear it; for instance newer EU members, often much poorer than "old Europe", must not suffer more than their richer partners.

The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance — and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing.

Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.

But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognized that embracing the transformation can bring growth, jobs and better quality lives. The flow of capital tells its own story: last year for the first time more was invested in renewable forms of energy than producing electricity from fossil fuels.

Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.

Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature".

It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too.

The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history's judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.

15 December 2009

The article that help launch Peak Oil awareness

Check this article out. It is the first article that really started people talking about peak oil.

14 December 2009

China Sprinting Past the US in Wind Production

Leadership of the global wind market is about to change hands. The United States—the birthplace of the modern wind industry—has held the top spot in new installations since 2005, growing at 50 percent a year and adding a record 8,540 megawatts of wind generating capacity in 2008. But if the credit-crunched U.S. industry adds only 8,000 megawatts in 2009, as anticipated, China’s new installations of some 10,000 megawatts will make it the world leader in annual additions. Having doubled its installed capacity in each of the last five years, this relative newcomer is now poised to dominate the wind energy industry for years to come.

For the rest of the article click here.

13 December 2009

12 December 2009

More From David Roper, PhD

David Roper, the retired Virginia Tech professor has turned out to be a font of wisdom backed up with a sharp, inquisitive mind and lots of both data and mathematical skills. In a page entitled "World Fossil-Fuels Depletion" he analyzes past production and reserves and casts forward the amount of fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) and the production rate over time. Embedded in this wonderfully thorough analysis is this optimistic prediction of US gas prices out to 2030.

I just want to point out that this graph smooths out rough spots and does not predict intercessions by war, embargo's, revolutions or the world choosing not to be trading in dollars. for more of Davis wonderful work click here.

11 December 2009

What about the New Economy?

As the century turned the talk about the new economy was all aflutter. The concept is that the world is changing from a carbon fueled economy to a new more sustainable model that would rival the previous revolutions in agriculture and industry.

Oh how right we are. I have personally seen the changes happening to move humanity towards this sustainable future. So, you may ask, how can I see it?

Well, America here is the unfortunate truth.

As an American we are only seeing the very edge of this revolution. There is some really amazing cutting edge research going on in the US. i was contracted by the US Department of Energy to review stimulus grants relating to high performance thermal envelope design and super performance windows. I can state unequivocally that there is some truly mind blowing research going on. While the US has always been good at supporting basic research, we fall short on the support of products beyond that stage. So while the folks doing the cutting edge research here have names like Chu and Patel, we (the US government) does not support the technology after initial development, preferring to let the "Angel Investors" do the next round of support. Unfortunately for our country, many great ideas go undeveloped in this country because of this.

Fortunately for those who are not American, there are forward thinking governments that support the so called "valley of death" for development of technology. And it is these governments that are creating the 'New Economy'. By embracing the concept of creating a sustainable society and supporting the innovation it takes to make that society a reality, places like Germany, Denmark, China, Korea, Brazil and Spain are rapidly growing a 'New Economic' model.

With the current lack of political will and the surging of the regressive right, the United States will look back in 20 years and say, "hey where is my 'new economy'. When we finally awaken from our sleep, we will be faced with a hollowed out society that has a declining middle class and an incredibly advanced military. So what will be our role? Why to protect those that can afford our services! (See the new copper mining operations in Afghanistan. China is doing the mining and the US is doing the protection.) So get ready America, your new role as the protector of the new economic powerhouses assures a bright future.

10 December 2009

09 December 2009

Just what I've been saying for years.

I read an article recently that put very eloquently what I have been saying for 15 years. The American middle class has maintained its prosperity through an ever closing window. The post war economy saw the greatest expansion of the middle class in history. With wages rising quickly and the American standard of living the envy of the world.

This incredible surge was made possible by cheap and plentiful energy and the fact that America's major competitors were recovering from a war that devastated commerce and industry. This combined with the coup at Bretton Woods that replaced the then current world trading currency, the pound, with the dollar provided for a boom in manufacturing and the cold war provided a continuing war time economy (remember Eisenhower's warning about the military industrial complex) which lead to incredible middle class wealth.

In 1973, this changed with the end of cheap oil and the beginning of strong inflation. What did Tom and Sally American do then? Why they sent Sally to work to augment the family income so that they did not have to give away any of the luxuries they now felt entitled to. This worked for a while.

Well for those of you who follow my blog, you know that inflation never left, it was just hidden by successive administrations tinkering with statistics. This combined with the fact that the American middle class wage has not kept pace with even the understated inflation rate made Tom and Sally have to dip into their next best store of potential cash and mortgage and second mortgage their home for cash to keep up with the American dream. What happened when we were running out of equity in our homes? REAL ESTATE BOOM - made up equity to leverage.

Now the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost. Tom and Sally need to face the tough reality that thanks to their short sighted planning their children would not have the same opportunities as they had. Their children would be the first American generation since the depression to regress in their standard of living.

I hate to say i told you so but .....

And what about the 'New Economy'. More about that in another post.

For a good article that discusses many of these points from someone who is much brighter than I click here.

08 December 2009

An interesting look at peak oil from the inside.

Two International Energy Agency whistleblowers have come forward with startling claims about the world's supply of crude oil, according to a report published Tuesday.

"We have [already] entered the 'peak oil' zone," an unnamed former IEA official told British newspaper The Guardian. "I think that the situation is really bad."

A second whistleblower reportedly claimed that the IEA's current figures are inflated due to pressure from the United States and a pervasive fear that the announcement of falling oil output in the future could cause markets to respond with panic.

The claims come on the same day the IEA plans to publish its annual "World Energy Outlook" report for 2009.

"Many inside the organisation believe that maintaining oil supplies at even 90m to 95m barrels a day would be impossible but there are fears that panic could spread on the financial markets if the figures were brought down further," one of the IEA sources reportedly told the paper. "And the Americans fear the end of oil supremacy because it would threaten their power over access to oil resources."

For the rest of the story click here.

07 December 2009

06 December 2009

05 December 2009

New Idea for Defeat of Bob Goodlatte

As those of us in southwest Virginia are aware, we have a congressman who is in the far right of the Republican party. Unfortunately, most voters in this district are also of the same mind.

I have a different idea of a tact to unseat Goodlatte. Run an independent campaign that is focused on the transition required by peak oil, environmental degradation and economic collapse. Run by instilling an awareness of the future that will compel both liberals and conservatives to think about their votes.

Do not even take on Goodlatte in anyway but to point out that he lacks the knowledge of the problems and the kind of independent thinking it will take to change the situation. I don't know if this is possible, but we may even be able to get the Dems not to run anyone against him making it an independent vs republican challenge.

I think if people are made to confront the changes that are coming and the absolute lack of political will that has been the case, maybe we will have a chance to unseat this Republican dittohead!

04 December 2009

Shift Happens

03 December 2009

CEED Update


01 December 2009

The Oil Casino: SEC Heading for Monte Carlo

This is a long article on the subject of oil and gas reserves and due diligence.

My purpose is to alert you to the revision of SEC Regulation S-K and Regulation S-X effective January 1, 2010. Concealed in a handful of benign new regs is a financial truck bomb that's going to blow away "proved reserves" as a meaningful metric of oil company assets.

Old definition: Proved Reserves are those quantities which can be estimated with reasonable certainty to be commercially recoverable from known reservoirs under defined economic conditions. Proved quantities are limited by the lowest known hydrocarbon as seen in a well penetration unless otherwise indicated by definitive geoscience, engineering, or performance data. Seismic data alone is not sufficient to define fluid contacts. Undeveloped locations may be classified as Proved in undrilled areas of a reservoir that can be judged with reasonable certainty to be commercially productive.
New definition: Industry is no longer constrained by the criterion of certainty. An operator can book incremental proved reserves from planned enhanced recovery projects (gas injection, acid fracturing) based on a pilot project. Coal seam gas, bitumen, oil shale and other unconventional resources can be booked as Proved Reserves. Estimated reservoir properties in the aggregate is a departure from the old rules. The new SEC definition does not require that an analogous reservoir has to be in the immediate area or in pressure communication. Seismic analysis and reservoir models are sufficient to book Proved Reserves.
Hold on to your shorts, it gets worse.

For the rest of this excellant technical discussion click here.